What is the Television’s Place in Your Home? {Ask Amy}

What is the Television's Place in Your Home? | RaisingArrows.netI had a reader ask me how our family handle’s television in our home.  She wasn’t asking the particular shows we watch, but more our rules and regulations on the television, and whether we even had one.  (and if we ever use it as a babysitter *gasp*!)

It really boils down to what place does the television have in your home?
(and how do you keep it there?)

Below is a brief video explaining our thoughts on television in the home.  (You can subscribe to my YouTube channel HERE.)  Below the video is a little Q&A with more of our thoughts on television.

Q:  Do we have a television in our home?
A:  Yes.  But, it doesn’t have any channels on it.

Q:  What do we have against “real” television?
A:  Bottom line – the content you can’t control.  The worst being the commercials (which now seem to permeate a lot of streaming video as well, especially the YouTube and Hulu variety.

Q:  What do we use our television for?
A:  We have it hooked up to a VCR/DVD player and we also hook up our computers to it from time to time to stream from the internet.  We also watch old family videos on it.  We use it for school (mostly history) and entertainment.

Q:  Do we have Netflix or something like that?
A:  We have Amazon Prime because we wanted the free 2 day shipping.  There are some good videos available there, but you have to search and you have to be discerning.  Look for kids’ shows and documentaries.  The best part about Amazon Prime is NO COMMERCIALS!

We also have VidAngel.  This is a service that edits streaming video, and it works flawlessly!  There are certain movies like Schindler’s List that we would like our children to see, but do not want them to see ALL of it.  VidAngel handles that.  You can get a FREE month to try it out HERE.  (Note:  The ads for Vidangel that pop up on YouTube are awful.  They feature little kids saying bad words that are bleeped out, but you hear the very beginning sound of what they are saying – not appropriate, in my opinion.  Just wanted you to be aware of this.)

Q:  Have you ever used the television as a babysitter, and would you recommend this?
A:  I bet you are thinking, “There’s no way she’s ever done that, and there is definitely no way she’s going to recommend that!”  You’d be wrong.

While I cannot stand calling it a “babysitter,” sometimes that is the role it can serve.  And yes, I have done it.  However, YOU have to be in control of it.  You cannot let it control everyone’s life, and the moment we see our children craving watching something on the iPad or computer or television, we shut it down.  (This is especially the case with our 3 & 5 year olds who don’t understand moderation.)  Craving tends to come in the form of boredom, or never getting enough television time, or not even wanting to go outside and play because they would rather watch something.

But, there are times when it is completely acceptable to use the television as a “babysitter.”  Morning sickness, needing to focus on schoolwork with your older children, needing to finish a project, or even taking couple time with your husband are a few times that come to mind.  I also allow grandparents to use the television as a tool to keep them from wearing out when they watch our brood.  Just be certain there are CONTROLS put on the content!  You wouldn’t let a foul-mouthed, rude, inappropriate babysitter in your home, so don’t let the television be that either!

Q:  What do you see as the #1 issue with having a television in your home?
A:  Again, it is not the television (or computer) that is the real problem.  It is how it is used and the lack of controls put on it.  The biggest issue I see with it is ESCAPISM.

Children and adults alike are easily drawn to escapism – some more than others.  The world of television takes us out of our reality and gives us a place to go where the troubles of our day are nonexistent.  And while there is nothing wrong with relaxing and taking a break, when we seek that over and over and avoid our responsibilities elsewhere, we are no longer relaxing.  We are escaping.

Note:  Chuck Black deals with this issue very creatively in his book Lady Carliss.  This would make a good read aloud or book for your teen and pre-teen.

Q:  How do you keep the television in its place?
A:  The television is a tool.  As with all tools, it shouldn’t be left lying out all day, every day.

*You don’t have to put your television in the main room of the house.  We keep ours in a guest bedroom.

*You don’t have to allow television time every day.  We have Movie Days – Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, typically in the late afternoon and evening.

*Keep your television inaccessible.  Cover it up.  Keep it in a cupboard.  Put it in a lesser-used room.

One thing we do a lot here is use our laptop or iPad connected to a projector in the living room.  The kids love having a HUGE movie projected on the wall!  A projector isn’t something that can just be left out.  We have to put it away after we use it.  This keeps us from just willy-nilly turning it on!

*Be sure responsibilities are taken care of before the television is turned on.  Is the house tidy?  Is school done?  Are other responsibilities complete?  Television is a time suck – be sure you have the time to give it.

*Never consider it neutral.  Herein lies the culmination of this entire post.  You cannot get complacent.  You cannot simply see the television as harmless entertainment.  It doesn’t matter what show you are watching, it IS teaching you and your children something.  You have to be aware of WHAT it is teaching and IF that is the kind of thing you want taught to your children.  I know all this thinking sort of takes the fun out of watching television, but trust me, in the long run, you’ll be glad you were paying attention.

Family Finds – April 5, 2014

Family Finds - April 5, 2014 {lip balm, Bible Bee, free ebook, military, much more!} | RaisingArrows.net{affiliate links included}

Vanilla Dust Lip BalmI got an email this week from Renee at Hard Lotion about some new products she is adding (I’ll be reviewing a couple soon!). One limited edition product is the Vanilla Dust Lip Balm – a hint of vanilla, a hint of sparkle. The last time I checked there were only 13 left in stock.  I really like Renee’s lip balms & tints, so this would be a great addition to your Spring & Summer!

YWAM Spring Sale

YWAM is having a HUGE sale just in time for you to stock up for next school year!  These missionary books are a favorite in our family.  We often read them right after devotions in the morning, and my kids always beg me to read more!  There are a lot of sale items, but look for the Mix & Match, and the 47-50% entire sets!  And don’t miss the history curriculum built around the books – really neat product!

Bible Bee

The Bible Bee just opened its family registration for 2014!  Last month, I took a look at the Sword Studies they use to teach Scripture and was thoroughly impressed.  These books take your entire family through the same book of the Bible, but at a level each age can digest.  At the end of the week, you do a project or family activity that solidifies what you have been learning that week.  You can take a look at their website to see where your nearest Bible Bee will be held and start digging into Scripture!  You can also purchase the Sword Studies for personal use without being a part of the Bible Bee.

Bible Based Homeschooling ebook

Yesterday, I downloaded a copy of Bible Based Homeschooling by Karen DeBeus.  This ebook is FREE, and is a great place to start learning how to use the Bible as your main text for homeschooling!

And finally, some recent Amazon purchases…

Heaven by Randy Alcorn
I’m going to tell you upfront – I am not a fan of books on Heaven.  I don’t trust them.  With having lost a child, I don’t really want my head filled with nonsense and speculation, but this book came highly recommended, and I was willing to check it out.  I have really liked it so far!  In fact, so much so that I purchased a copy for Ty’s Granny.

Digital Photo Frame
These were supposed to be Christmas presents to my mom and my father-in-law, but I just got around to ordering them! *blush* (sorry guys!)  Several years back, I bought one for Ty’s office and he loved it!  So, this year we decided to buy these for our parents and load photos on a thumb drive to run through the frame.  If YOU decide to buy one of these, don’t take as long as I did to get it to your parents! ;)

Patriotic Patch Quilt
This was a purchase for our new bedroom! I was so excited when Ty told me to go ahead and order this! I was even more excited when it came and I could see the QUALITY of this product! There are only 2 left in stock of this pattern, but I imagine any products from this company would be well worth the price.

Pic Stick
Here’s one I bet you haven’t seen! This was my son’s order. He works at a shooting sports lodge and quite often he has to pick up spent shells. This Pic Stick has a super strong magnet on the end of it that can pick up a lot of shells at one time. He can’t wait to use it today at work!

Spenco PolySorb Cross Trainer Insoles
This was on my husband’s list. He was introduced to these insoles while in the Army. He will not buy any other insole. In fact, he changes out insoles in every pair of shoes he owns as soon as he buys them. (Yes, they are that good.) He recently purchased another couple of pair of these for his new military boots – yes, that’s my sneaky way of announcing my husband is back in the military – Army National Guard to be exact.  I’ll elaborate more at a later date. ;)

Have a great weekend!

Learning to Love Every Age and Stage

Learning to Love Every Age and Stage | RaisingArrows.netWe have a wide range of ages in our household – all the way from little bitty to nearly grown.  It’s a lot to keep up with, but I enjoy it so much!  However, I remember a time when this wasn’t the case.  I remember when I didn’t relish every moment because I didn’t know I was missing anything.  And even if I had known, I probably wouldn’t have known how to change it.

Then I reconnected with a childhood friend who was very vocal about loving her children.  She loved them “out loud.”  She told me she would memorize their little faces as they nursed because she didn’t want to miss a moment.  And I was in awe.

It had never occurred to me to enjoy my children right where they were.  I was always too busy trying to get them to the next stage.

Learning to Love Every Age & Every Stage | RaisingArrows.net

So many mamas are rushing through their children’s childhoods. Some are excited for the future. Some are weary of the present.  Some know they should slow down.  Some never give it a thought and just keep plodding away.  Most are a mixture of all of these, and far too many of us are “missing the moments.”

Enjoy Every Age and Stage | RaisingArrows.net

Baby Creed is 14 months old.  Every day I wake up and stare at him and realize he is growing up before my eyes, and if I don’t enjoy the very age he is right now, I will never have that chance again.

I am thankful the Lord brought someone {back} into my life who truly loved her children and showed me by example how to make memories with my children before I found myself with only memories to hold on to.

You may never know the pain and emptiness of losing a child, but if you do not grab hold of the age and stage your children are right this very minute, there will come a day when they will be gone in the figurative sense, and you will wonder why you didn’t savor their growing up years.

Learning to Love Every Age & Stage | RaisingArrows.net

There isn’t some magical formula to loving your children right where they are.  It is more a careful and purposeful slowing down to gain perspective.  It is a hug, a kiss, a smile, a listening ear.  It is taking photos and videos – even if they are on a cell phone.  It is keeping a journal with them or sharing a Special Night.  It is being a student of your child, learning more about them every day.  It is thinking before you speak, and loving more than you lecture.  It is speaking out loud just how blessed you are.  It is looking for the good in every age and stage, rather than dwelling on the bad.

It is realizing they do grow up, faster than you would ever imagine.

Large Family Homeschooling eBook | by Amy Roberts of RaisingArrows.net

Making Your Mealtimes More Leisurely

Leisurely MealsHaving kids sort of sucked the joy out of mealtime for me.  It meant no longer focusing on myself and my own food.  I now had the full time job of cutting up meat, cleaning up spills, and trying to have an adult conversation over the din of childish chatter.  The thought of having a leisurely meal was laughable, and rather discouraging to boot.

But several years ago, I was blessed to learn from another family what taking leisurely meals with a lot of little ones actually looked like.  It was like a ray of sunshine in my day!  I realized I really could have a wonderful mealtime with my family, but it would mean letting go of a few preconceived notions and a whole lot of anxiety.

A glimpse of Heaven…

When we sit down to fellowship over food with our family, we need to keep in mind that this is a foretaste of our fellowship in Heaven.  Things are not perfect here, but they can still give us an idea of what we can expect when we are truly Home.

Start the meal calmly…

It is so easy to start a meal with chaos.  It happens all the time here.  If we don’t all sit down together, take a deep breath, and thank the Lord for His provisions, we end up resembling pigs at a feed trough!  Don’t expect a meal to be leisurely if you don’t begin it that way.  And if it does begin in chaos, it is never too late (unless someone has left the table) to start over.  Have everyone put their forks down, take a deep breath, and begin anew.

Be aware of your surroundings…

Sometimes we forget to even look up from our food, let alone take the time to notice and engage the other people at the table.  When you eat with adults, conversation typically naturally flows, but it isn’t the norm at a table full of hungry little people and tired parents.  You have to make the effort to look up from your food and smile at everyone seated with you.  Start with the littlest one and work your way up.  Ask each child a question or simply smile at them.  This is the start to healthy dinner conversations.

Expect mishaps…

Because this is not a perfect world, we need to expect mishaps and be as prepared for them as we can be.  Have a towel handy for cleaning up spills, and try to take the attitude that the little mishaps in life are not something to dwell on and fuss over.  Remember, a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver (Proverbs 25:11) – in other words, speaking calmly and kindly when mishaps occur is a thing of priceless beauty.  Don’t let your words be ugly over something as minor as spilled drinks, dropped forks, and the like.

Learn to be still…

This isn’t just for wiggly little boys, this is for wiggly mamas who jump up and head off to the next thing on her list after wolfing down the last bite on her plate.  Train yourself to stay seated after you are finished, or better yet, slow down your eating altogether.  Give your brain a moment to relax.  Put your fork down, take a deep breath, and wait.  You might even want to bring a book to the table that you can use as a read-aloud at the end of the meal to help everyone stay in their seats and learn to be still during mealtime.

Feast & fellowship…

We don’t often think of eating with our family as a time of feasting and fellowship, but it truly is!  It is a time to reconnect after everyone has been about their own business during the day.  It is a time for you to share and for you to listen as others share about their day.  It should be fun!  It should be a celebration!

That’s where my free gift to you comes in…

FREE 33 Family Dinner Games | RaisingArrows.net

Our family has compiled 33 Family Dinner Games that don’t require a ton of forethought and preparation.  You can print out the list and instructions, and keep it handy in your dining room.  These 33 Family Dinner Games are FREE to subscribers of Raising Arrows and will be delivered to your inbox shortly after signing up so you can begin to enjoy your family mealtime tonight!

Get your Free Gift!

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Each game spans multiple ages and encourages an open and festive atmosphere for your meals!

Now, go and give those babies a big hug and kiss, do the same with your husband, and welcome them all to family mealtime tonight!

(Already a Raising Arrows subscriber? You’ll find the 33 Family Dinner Games on the Subscriber Freebie page!)

My Birthing Journey – Part 2

5 years ago, I wrote about my birthing journey.  That was shortly after Baby #6 was born…via C-section…again.


My first child was a C-section.  After that, I had 4 successful vaginal births after cesarean (VBAC).  When Micah entered this world via C-section in 2009, I was pretty sure my VBAC days were over.

That is, until I got pregnant again.

I wasn’t content to have a c-section again unless it was absolutely necessary.  I couldn’t deny the feelings of wanting to VBAC again.

My old OB had quit obstetrics, so I had to find another doctor.  Finding another VBAC-friendly doctor is no small task, let alone finding one that is VBA2C-friendly.  The doctor I ended up with quickly proved to be less-than VBAC-friendly, and halfway through my pregnancy, I left her practice to take a chance on a doctor a friend suggested.

I was 20-some weeks when I walked into that OB’s office, scared I had made a terrible decision to even attempt another VBAC, let alone switch doctors in the middle of a pregnancy.  What I found was a doctor who was actually EXCITED to have me there!  She was convinced women could VBAC after 2 C-sections, and she was more than willing to let me try.

However, she refused to induce me.  This was something I was going to have to do on my own.  (The reason she would not induce me is because inductions tend to lead to c-sections, and she did not want to put that unnecessary obstacle in my way.)

40 weeks came and went.  Then 41 weeks came and went.  As we neared 42 weeks, I was miserable.  I wasn’t sleeping, I was huge, baby was huge, and my body just would not kick into gear.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that fear was holding me back.

I was afraid that a VBA2C was not a good idea.  My first VBAC had been nearly 3 years after my c-section.  This VBA2C was in half that time.  And then there was the question of my body being worn out by all these babies.  I had started to labor several times, but each time the contractions fizzled out, and I found myself believing I couldn’t actually go into labor on my own.

So, I scheduled a c-section.

I didn’t want a c-section, but I didn’t want to be pregnant anymore either.  The pregnancy had not been pleasant, and I could see no other way to handle this situation.  I found myself being blasted from both sides by well-intentioned friends.  Some said I had waited too long, and should have had a c-section ages ago.  Others said I should just keep waiting, and felt I was being “forced” into the c-section.  No one knew how agonizing it was to be where I was mentally, physically, and emotionally.  No one knew I was already suffering from depression that would end up extending for months past the pregnancy.  No one knew how I was being plagued by sleepless nights, hemorrhoids, and Restless Leg Syndrome.

The day before the c-section, I got a call from a friend who told me she was praying for me and wanted to offer one little piece of information, just in case I needed it.  Now, I am going to reveal something here that is rather controversial in many circles.  What she told me was a precise formula for taking castor oil to get my labor started and keep it going.  No matter what you think of this method, I will tell you that I am forever grateful for that information.  What followed was an amazing birth of an 11 pound baby boy via VBA2C on the very morning I was scheduled to have my c-section.

Daddy Mommy Garin

After the birth, my OB decided to check the scar from the inside.  What she said to me that day relieved every fear I had about VBA2C.  She said had I not told her and had she not known, there would be no way for her to tell I had ever had a c-section!  The scar was nonexistent!  The fears that had kept me from laboring were completely unfounded.

Now, please note, I am NOT a medical expert.  I cannot attest to other people’s c-section scars being completely healed or this even being the norm.  But, it is enough of a norm that the ACOG has deemed it safe to VBA2C.  This determination was announced the month before I gave birth.  My doctor was thrilled to be able to document my birth as a success.

The reason I chose to update my birthing journey was because when I last told my story, I was not sure what would happen next.  People have read that story not realizing I have gone on to have 2 more children.  I felt it was important to tell “the rest of the story,” if you will.  This post has gotten quite long enough, so I will continue with Part 3 another day.

A Little Bit of Homestead

The word “homestead” invokes in my mind a sense of a life filled with purpose and hard work as well as enjoyment of the simple things. Today, I want to point you toward some free resources that might be of interest if you want to have a little bit “homestead” in your home, and also tell you about my own little homestead.

NotebookingPages & His Homestead Originals have teamed up to offer a wonderful giveaway HERE!  I really like both of these sites!

Merissa of Little House Living has an entire page dedicated to homesteading information that is applicable no matter where you live.  Her site is definitely worth looking over!

Jam Labelizer is a FREE program that helps you create custom labels for your canning jars!

And don’t forget my 3 ingredient Homemade Cleaner that is all natural and oh so wonderful!  It’s not free, but it’s close!

Now, a little bit about our new homestead…

My mother-in-law calls it the Big House on the Prairie.  We are out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by farmland!  The wind blows like crazy here, and there are no trees near the house to block it.  It’s also not real pretty from the outside.  It truly is a big house plopped out in the middle of the prairie.  Our landlord lives across the road on land that has been in his family for generations.  This is his homestead, and we are blessed to live on a small piece of it.

I don’t have many photos yet, because I’m trying to be super thoughtful about how I decorate and coordinate things.  The master bedroom is nearly complete though.  All that is lacking is Emily’s quilt to be hung from the quilt shelf and paint on the walls (coming this Spring, we hope!)

A moment of honesty…

I was feeling very overwhelmed by everything when we first moved in.  No real sense of direction – just chaos everywhere I turned.  My husband told me to get the master bedroom in order so I had a retreat I could go to.  He gave me the go ahead to purchase some bedding I had had my eye on for quite some time. (excuse the light from the window!)

A Little Bit of Homestead (our master bedroom) | RaisingArrows.net

I’ve started to have an affinity for quilts and homestead-related decor.  I prefer the rustic look, and I felt this quilt captured all of that quite well.

The name of the quilt is Patriotic Patch.  I purchased the bed skirt, shams, and valences.  All of the items are extremely well made.  (This company has a lot of lovely quilts, but this one made my heart sing!)

We’ve never had a headboard, so I used photos from our travels instead.  These photos are all from Creede, Colorado:  a couple of waterfalls and an abandoned mining camp.

In the corner is my hideous orangey-gold chair that so comfortable, I can’t part with it.  I threw a quilt over it to keep it from sticking out like a sore thumb.  (OK, who am I kidding?  It still sticks out like a sore thumb, but this is MY retreat, so ole orangey stays. ;) )  There is an end table and lamp next to my chair as well.  Something about having soft lamp light in a bedroom makes the room seem so much more homey, don’t you think?

We do have our elliptical and weights in the bedroom – a huge no-no I am told, but it has actually been rather nice to have them in here, and it doesn’t mess with my sleep patterns one bit.

We also have many of Emily’s things and memories about the room.  I’ve always kept these things in our bedroom because that’s where it feels right to have them.

You know, I’m not much of a homesteader in the sense of the word most people think of.  I know how to sew, but my machine is broken, and I can’t seem to find the time to sew, let alone fix the machine.  I plan to garden, but that has never been a very fruitful endeavor for us.  I typically end up pregnant, and too sick and worn out to handle a garden.  We don’t own any animals because we travel a lot and we move a lot, and that tends not to be a good mix.

In fact, most days I’m doing good to get the family fed and homeschooled with a few extra activities thrown in here and there.  Milking cows and goats, raising chickens, making candles and soap, and tilling the land don’t seem to have a place in my life, and I can’t say they ever will.

Because that’s not where I am.

My little bit of homestead is such because this is where I have landed and I work hard in this little corner of the world.  I work hard to school my children, care for my family, make the most of what we have, and make the most of what we do.

My husband doesn’t work from home, and we don’t grow most of what we eat, but my husband does provide for us and I am grateful for the money to purchase groceries I can turn into wholesome meals.

So, while I can’t claim true homesteading (even if I do have a Homesteading Pinterest board!), this is still my little bit of homestead.  It is the place I work and live.  It is the place I invest time and money and energy.  This is where I raise my children, care for my husband, create a home.  And I thank the Lord for it all!