Lifestyle

My $1000 Bathroom Renovation on a Budget

By Katie


2 years ago we bought an old house.  Old and ramshackle.  Old and dirty.  Old and dilapidated.

You get the idea.

But the point of this post was not to disparage my house.  It was to tell you that we have 2 bathrooms.  Both were kinda unpleasant.

My story is about the the upstairs bathroom which is a full bath that had a glass partition sliding door for the shower.  No matter how I cleaned it, it was dirty.  Mildew and crud and nastiness were in all the crevices and I couldn’t get it out.

Will decided to take the partition down, completely out of the blue, after I complained about how gross it was for 14 months.

The change was incredible.  Unfortunately, you will have to take my word for it because I didn’t take before pictures because I was convinced that the bathroom could never been improved.  Just call me Mrs. Optimistic.

After it was removed, I decided we should do a bathroom makeover, just real quick-like.  My parameters were that a) it would be done by the end of August (2017) and b) we wouldn’t tackle any other home reno project until it was finished.

It is now April 2018, and we have refloored and repainted our entire upstairs and {almost} completed the twins room.   We are real good at setting down limits and following them.

(This is why I always have a million projects going on that never get completed by their deadline. )

Anyways.  I also wanted to do the whole project for $1000.   We weren’t going to change the tub surround or the vanity, but everything else got a makeover.

Here are the before pics:

 

Ok – so kinda before.  More middle-of-starting-the-update pictures.  (Our whole house was a variation of those 2 greens.   Sometime the walls would be the darker green and the trim the lighter green.  Sometime it would be vice-versa.  It has made painting wonderful because the improvement is immediate.)

The bathroom was a Jack-and-Jill to our bedroom which we closed off because there were doors every where and no wall space.  Wall space is useful in both bedrooms and bathrooms.  That’s your free tip for the day.

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We bought new bathtub fixtures and toilet – both are water savers which is a money saver (and water conservation is just a good idea.)  We redid the floor for obvious reasons; the other floor was pretty beat up.   We got the floor from Action flooring, a local flooring company.  We choose a high quality floor that was on sale, because that’s how I shop: the best quality for the cheapest money 🙂

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I painted the vanity with chalk paint in Valspar Indigo Ink from Lowes.   It took a bit of work, and I put a lot of layers of wax on it because kids, but I love the result. The handles are from The Home Depot.

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The light fixture was found on Wayfair.ca.   I quite like Wayfair, though there is a ton of choice, which can be daunting.

I almost blew the budget on Wayfair though because I couldn’t find brackets that I liked for my shelving, so I ordered these.  They are nice but at $27 a pop they added $108 to my bottom line.  But when Will and I were at Ikea buying crib because we have 2 babies (maybe you haven’t heard?), I found these for $2 a bracket!   Its definitely worth saving $100 to have wood  brackets instead of cast iron ones.   Will agreed.  (He doesn’t really care about design choices, but he cares about budget choices.)

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The shelving is from a local timber yard called Cards.  I first got behemoth pieces of cedar and then, after I got home, realized I had a small bathroom .  I went back and got these pieces of ash for $5.  The cedar shelving was used the in the twins room, which is slightly larger then the bathroom.

I found the towel racks and toilet paper holder from Amazon.  The mirror was a Home Sense find.

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And I got this little stool from Home Sense.   This was to save my handles from kids climbing on them.  And its cute.

So did I stay on budget?  You bet your buttons I did!

Floor – $200

Toilet – $120

Light – $140

Paint – $50

Water fixtures – $166

Towel Racks – $60

Mirror – $70

Cabinet Pulls – $42

Shelving – $5

Brackets $10

Extras – $100

Total: $962

The extras include the shower curtain, the cute stool and some decor.

The nice thing about projects taking 8 months is that you can really shop sales.  That helped me to stay in my budget.  Its also nice because things you thought you absolutely needed to do, (i.e. paint the counter top) you realize that, nah, you really don’t.

I am so happy with my nice and clean bathroom.  I make all my guests use it, because the downstairs one looks like something out of a horror film.  Or a really old house.

 

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Bookish Posts · Lifestyle

Biscuits and Honey

by Vicki.

This post may contain affiliate links. It doesn’t cost you anything, but we may get a little something. 

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If you follow our Instagram you might have seen yesterday’s post where I admitted that I was finding homeschooling to be a bit of  a struggle. I don’t know if its the weather, the fact that my baby is now a toddler and into everything, or just slow days turning into slow weeks turning into slow months. I sat down this week and figured out where we were in our My Father’s World Curriculum and it appears we are 4-6 weeks behind schedule (yes, a full month). Now, that doesn’t sound great, but to be honest, I was pleasantly surprised. I thought it was going to be much worse! The two week difference is because there is a Fruits of the Spirit unit at the end of the school year. I am not going to stress about getting that unit done before the end of June – I think we will just work through it over the course of the Summer. It can be a good way for Peyton to stay in the learning mindset before Grade 1 starts.

This week we are learning the letter “Ii” and discussing insects. The children’s book that accompanies this unit is “The Bee Tree”. This book is a really cute story about a Grampa taking his granddaughter on an adventure to find a bee tree. Along the way different people join the search and, once the tree is located, help with harvesting some honey. Afterwards they all enjoy the honey with biscuits, tea, music and dancing. The Grampa later draws a comparison between the hard search for the bee tree and its sweet honey reward to the hard work of learning to read and the sweet adventures that can be discovered between the pages of every book. A very cute story that both Peyton and Chase really enjoyed.

The curriculum suggested making biscuits and enjoying them with honey after reading “The Bee Tree”. The kids love helping in the kitchen, but I rarely include them in food prep because I don’t like mess. So, when I suggested that we all bake together, they were very excited. I found this easy scone recipe on Pinterest. It was fun baking with them, they were actually very helpful (and just a little bit messy). It also was exciting to see them try and enjoy doing something new. The whole process from start to warm-just-out-of-the-oven scones was less than half an hour. I’m sharing the recipe below because it really was quite easy and the scones were absolutely delicious!

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Simple Sweet Scones (from GeniusKitchen’s website)

Ingredients: 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, 1 Tbsp baking powder,  1tsp salt, 8 Tbsp cold unsalted butter (cut up), 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 2/3 cup milk

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 425°F (220 Celsius).
  2. Put flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl; stir mix well Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender or rub in with your fingers, until the mixture looks like fine crumbs.
  3. Add sugar; toss to mix.
  4. Add milk and stir with a wooden spoon until dough forms,(the dough may be a bit crumbly). Add a bit more milk if the dough isn’t crumbling or attaching to itself.
  5. Place dough on floured counter and knead gently until the dough comes together in a ball.
  6. Pat or roll into a circle about 1 1/2 inches thick.
  7. Cut each circle into 6 or 8 wedges.
  8. Place wedges on a greased cookie sheet- slightly apart for crisp sides, touching for soft.
  9. Bake about 12-16 minutes, or until medium brown on top.

If its rainy and chilly where you are (like it is here) these make a wonderful late afternoon snack with a hot cup of tea! I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

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Lifestyle

My *recent* Favs.

by Vicki.

This post contains affiliate links. It costs you nothing but may give us a little something. 


I was scheduled to write about some of my Spring Favourites. But Spring is a myth and doesn’t actually exist…so I wouldn’t know what to write about. #wherehasspringgone

Seriously, though! What is with this weather?! Its unbelievable!

So here is a carefully curated list of just some of my recent favorites. Not exactly Spring-related, but just more in regards to what is going on in my life right now. So instead of Spring Favorites, we can call it Favorites for My Life Right Now – less catchy, buuuuut, like I said, Spring is a lie. #wherehasspringgone

1. Of course number one on my list has to be these three kiddos.

IMG_1186 (2)IMG_1184 (2)IMG_1222I mean, come on! They are adorable. They are sweet. They are crazy. They are my favorite! And, disclaimer, they are not just my recent favorites but have been top of the list since each one of them made their first appearance :). Also, don’t let this sunshine fool you – these pictures were from early March…before Spring disappeared. #wherehasspringgone

2. This beauty. houseMark and I purchased this house and get to move in in about a month. Its a definite fixer-upper in need of some a lot of TLC, but its got “potential”. I have to admit there are days where I’m like, “Potential?! What does that even mean?!”. But mostly we are really excited to get our hands dirty and create a home for our family to grow {up} in! On that note, I am planning a little Home Tour Post so that I can document the beautiful home that we’ve called ours for the past 4 years.

3. These shoes. Old Navy had 50% off footwear last month and I actually jumped at the chance to buy a couple of pairs of shoes for my family: rubber boots for Chase, little sandals for Dax, and a pair of shoes for myself!! #notafashionblogger so I’m not sure they are cute…but I like them! Driving Loafers for Women - Blushin' UpThese are really cute and actually comfortable! And (added bonus) I wore them for about 2 hours the other day and received 3 compliments! Win-win! Its nice to brighten up my wardrobe a bit right now since everything outside is so grey (#wherehasspringgone).

4. The Instant Pot. I know, I know…I am so.late. to the party. Mark bought me this for my birthday and, although I’ve only used it a handful of times, it truly is amazing. I am the Queen of forgetting to take meat out of the freezer in the morning…and now its not such a big deal! I cooked a whole pot roast (with turnips and carrots) in 45 minutes! And, here’s the important part, it was delicious and juicy! I can’t wait to figure what else I can do with this baby! (I also was able to make PERFECT hard boiled eggs…like shell-slipping-off-the-egg perfect, and golden-yellow-yoke perfect, and kids-ate-them-all perfect!)instand pot 15. Some of you might judge me for this one…but it was my life saver and I would do it again in a heart beat.

I…paid…someone…to clean my car. Like “detail it”. Honestly, it feels like a brand new car (and smells like one too!). Our van was getting to the point that I was worried the Health Board was going to confiscate and quarantine it. From crumbs, to garbage. to mud, to piles of rocks/twigs/grass/acorns, to toys, to books, to crumpled paper, to vomit and other bodily fluids, to just “ew”. Obviously, I have cleaned it multiple times (especially after aforementioned bodily fluid instances) but I could never truly get it clean to my satisfaction. I paid a local company to vacuum it, shampoo the seats, steam clean my kids car seats, and wipe (clean) every nook and cranny. I honestly feel like I can breath a bit easier…it was something that was always on my mind. Not only was I embarrassed of the mess if someone happened to see my van with the doors open, but I was concerned about the health and safety of my kiddos driving in the petri-dish of bacteria that is an enclosed vehicle (especially during Winter). So, now, one less thing to worry about. And one very clean van to enjoy! It wasn’t that expensive and hopefully from here on out its just a matter of maintaining the clean (the company does have a maintaining package for about $30 – worth it!). So, here’s a poor quality cell phone pic of my sparkling van.van.jpgIck. That’s a horrible picture. You are going to have tojust trust me…its looks amazing.

Well that’s all for me, for now! I guess I’m kind of fickle because ask me in a couple of weeks and I may have a whole new list of my favorites (other than the kids, barring any major tantrums (I joke!), they’ll still be on the list).

I love finding new products or hearing of new life hacks that could become new favorites – so please, if you have something that you are loving right now: SHARE! I’d love to check it out :).

Lifestyle

Its Maple Syrup Time!

By Katie


Its the most wonderful time of the year.

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Well, its the most sweetest time of the year:  Maple Syrup Season.  When the days get above 0° and the nights stay below, you know that the sap is running in your maple trees.  (Its also running in your birch trees and walnut trees – with less sugar content, but still tappable and syrupable.)

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I love tapping my trees because, in addition to getting delicious syrup, it gets me outside.

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I find it hard to get outside with babies at this time of year.  Its wet, cold, and muddy.  Maple syrup is fun, quick and easy. I can go collect sap.  I can dodge outside for a few precious minutes to check my boil.

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The chance to breathe the fresh air revitalizes me and makes me believe that this season will end.  (Ha.  Am I talking about the winter season, or the baby season? You’ll never know!)

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I am not going to write a how-to, because this is only the second year that I am tapping my trees so I am far from being an expert.  There are many blogs and books out there that have a lot of sugaring wisdom in them.   Last year I read Sugartime by Susan Carol Hauser.  It was delightful, though her trick of 2-drips-off-a-wooden-spoon to indicate the readiness of your syrup was difficult to copy.   This year, I bought a hydrometer.  Using it has taught me a lot about the consistency of syrup as its finishing up.

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I empty my buckets at the end of every day.  I have come to 1 or 2 over flowing buckets which stinks because, “lost sap!” but the reality is, I have twins.  And they get blamed whenever I run out of time to complete a task.   Stinks for them, but they’ll adjust.  Or they will learn that Mama loves her projects 🙂

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Anyways.  This is a good sap year and I have been collecting gallons upon gallons of sap which equals gallons of syrup.

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I had a major boil over.  It made me want to cry.  I lost over 2 gallons of sweet, delicious syrup.   (I blame the twins.  But it wasn’t their fault.  Their dad was putting them to bed.  It was my fault.  I thought I could multi-task and clean up the house. Rule 1 of syrupping: You can’t multitask when you have Almost Syrup boiling. )

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There is probably another week or so of sap collecting,  another finish boil or 2 and then the season will wrap up for another year.  The end of sap season brings the beginning of seed season.   And seed season brings garden season and outside and freshness and dirt.

I can’t wait!

 

Lifestyle

Dax – 1 Year.

by Vicki

This post may contain affiliate links. It costs you nothing but may give us a little something.

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated Dax’s first birthday. He’s officially a toddler now and we are loving this stage of life with him. He’s definitely my busiest baby/toddler and he keeps me on my toes, but I wouldn’t have him any other way. Here is a quick look at who he is at one.

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Growing: Dax has been growing like a weed. He is currently in size 12-18 months clothes but I think we might be getting close to having to size up. He hasn’t had his 1 year Doctor’s appointment so I’m not sure how much he weighs or how tall he is. I feel like he’s a pretty sturdy little man and I’m excited to get his measurements. He’s still only has 6 teeth (four up top and 2 on the bottom). It feels like he has been working on 2 more up top since he was 6 months old – I think one of them may have finally cut through this past week!

Eating: Dax eats whatever we eat. I never did fully decide to do baby-led weaning with him, but I was braver with introducing solids to him than I was with Peyton or Chase. He likes finger foods like cheerios or puffs, meat of any kind, the baby puree pouches, yogurt, all fruit, and, well…really, he likes pretty much everything! He eats well and often eats double or triple what his siblings eat. He is still breastfeeding and (gulp) would like to nurse about 5 times a day if I allowed him (which, honestly, I often do because I just don’t like having a crying baby). He doesn’t like bottles and I have only found one sippy cup that he will drink out of (if I hold it for him). I know I need to wean him off of me (at least a bit) and that he should probably start to use a cup of some sort….but parenting is hard, y’all.

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On the Move: Dax is on the move! He started pulling himself up and walking around furniture at around 9 months. At 10 months he started really practicing to walk – he was determined (which resulted in a lot of bumps and bruises). Just before his first birthday he started walking pretty much exclusively – only crawling to get to a wall or furniture to pull himself up if he fell. He worked so hard and practiced constantly. I’m so proud of his determination!

Playtime: Like I said above, Dax is my busiest toddler. He is very curious and gets into everything. He loves my kitchen cupboards and would like to empty them all day long. He also has started putting things in the garbage – toys, remote controls, dishes, really anything he finds on the floor that he decides should be disposed of. Its made for some unhappy moments (for Mark) at the end of the day when we can’t find something and we have to dig through the garbage on a retrieval mission. Dax does play with his toys and keeps himself busy without needing too much attention. I love that I have another independent player. He has started having an interest in Chase’s cars which has resulted in some minor power struggles, but they are learning to work together and I can’t wait for when they become the best of buds.

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Sleeping: Dax is definitely still my worst sleeper. Between 6 and 11 months he actually started waking up more (if that was even possible). He was nursing every 2.5 hours – all night long. Then, all of a sudden, at 11.5 months, he slept through the night! Since then he has been mostly capable of sleeping at least 10 hours, but still regularly gets up at least once. I have tried to just settle him, but if I do not nurse him he screams…and I really don’t want him to wake up his siblings…so (blush) I give in and nurse him (for like 2 minutes). I know, I know, he’ll never learn :).

Personality: Dax is such a happy little dude. He is also my most social kiddo. This Winter, when we went to indoor parks, he would crawl or toddle over to everyone to say hi and observe what they were up to. He had no problem crawling onto the laps of other moms sitting on the ground and would sit and babble at them for a bit before wandering off to another group. While he was busy making friends (of all ages) my other two quietly played on their own off to the side avoiding other human contact ;). Dax has a smile for everyone, loves a good laugh, and shrieks/squeals/babbles/sings all day long. He is also very determined and won’t let his size or age get in his way. As soon as he realized he could stand and take steps he refused to crawl. He would get up and try to walk every chance he got – even though that meant falling…a lot. Eventually it paid off and he is now focusing his attention on learning how to run. He also tries to keep up with his big siblings (especially his big brother) and won’t let their attempts to block him, stop him. He gets in there, stands his ground, and is usually rewarded with a shared toy or involvement in their game. Dax is also very curious and wants to see behind every closed door, inspect how everything works, feel every texture, and just wants to get into everything. He is such a happy, fun, busy addition to our family. We love the spark he brings to our lives.

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Miscellaneous: –

  1. We finished Dax’s nursery just before he turned 1 and just after we purchased a new home (which we move into this Spring). We literally finished his room the day before our realtor took pictures for our house listing. Even though it will only be his nursery for a short time, it is beautiful and I love the soft, comfortable space we created for him.
  2. Dax celebrated his birthday in Ottawa at his grandparents’ home. It was so nice to be able to celebrate him and his first year on this earth with my parents and Danielle’s family (who were also visiting). He had his first taste of sugar on his birthday (in the form of a cupcake) and he inhaled it!
  3. His siblings adore him. They love to shower him with kisses and hugs. They also love wandering into his room in the morning (at the first sound of his rustling) and climbing into his crib with him. They quietly ‘read’ books to him, give him toys to play with, and cuddle him until I come to get him out of bed. They are quick to let me know if he is crying or in danger and I believe that Dax will grow up feeling like he has 4 parents instead of 2.

We love our Dax and thank God daily for choosing us to be his earthly family. Mark and I pray that no matter what life brings to Dax (trails, pain, joy, and success) he will look to God as his rock and salvation.

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That’s Dax at 1 year!

Lifestyle

Louisa and Beatrix – Newborn Photoshoot!

By Katie


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A week or so after Louisa and Beatrix made their entrance into the world, Rita Zietsma, from Rita Zietsma Photography, made the 3 hour drive to visit them and to snap a few pictures.

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In addition to being a beloved aunt, she also was the photographer who took the newborn shots of Atticus and Vivien.   I love that she has been there to capture all my kids in their first weeks of life.

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She doesn’t only do Newborn Photography, but has a stunning array of works of art.  You can check out her website here and see some gorgeous shots from her work and travels.

 

 

I can’t believe this happened 3.5 months ago already.  Lousia and Beatrix seem like giants compared to these tiny babies!

Looking back at these shots is reminding me to really try to treasure this time with Lousia and Beatrix.  I have said before that I struggle in the first year, but even seeing how much they have grown already makes me realize that this season is so fleeting.

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This is the funniest shot to me: we couldn’t get Vivien to smile for the life of us!

Looking at teeny tiny Louisa and Beatrix made me want to see the newborn shots of Atticus and Vivien as well.  It has only been 4 years since Will and I started on this journey of parenthood.  How our life has changed!

 

Beatrix reminds me so much of Atticus!  But I have heard there is a lot of VanGrootheest in Beatrix, and there is so much Bethlehem in Atticus, I don’t know what to think anymore!

 

I see a lot of Vivien in Louisa.  Especially in this shot:

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And my favourite shot of Vivien’s session.  I can’t believe these 2 monkeys were ever this small!

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Wow.  God has richly blessed me!

Now, if only all of parenthood was as idyllic as these shots make it seem!

Lifestyle

Can We Live in a Porn-Free World?

By Katie


*This post contains affiliate links.  It doesn’t cost you anything, but it may give us something*

This post is a departure from my usual posts. But its important.

I attend BayRidge Alliance Church with my family.  One of the ministries offered by BayRidge is Shift Parenting Seminars, designed to equip parents to raise their children in the fear of the Lord in a world bent on evil.

This past Sunday, BayRidge hosted Strength to Fight for its March seminar.  Strength to Fight is an organization that sheds light on the evils of the porn industry and equips parents to prepare their children to navigate a porni-fied world.

Josh Gilman spoke of the awful statistics that tell of the havoc porn is reeking on our homes.  The stats brought shock to my heart and tears to my eyes.  The stats of how many men and women and children are entrapped, of how the porn being produced is violent and sadistic, that this violent porn is setting the parameters of how men and women and adolescents  view sex and relationships.

But I don’t want to focus on those facts.  You probably have heard them and maybe you feel defeated already.  But Gilman left me with a way to beat the porn industry: to talk about its evils, to put words to my disgust, and to give words to others to speak of theirs.

And so I am.

One of the things that shocked me was that MindGeek, a company that disseminates over 90% of the porn worldwide, is located in Montreal.   Montreal, Canada.  That’s 3 hours down the 401 from me. In a global world, that is my back yard.

He believes that a bill geared towards limiting the availability of porn in Canada was gutted due to MPs being influenced by MindGeek.  That has got to stop.  We can not have a corporation dedicated to destroying lives for money influencing our government.

But there is hope: Gilman said that they are starting to see, in the last 2 to 3 years, internal correspondence in MindGeek speaking of their  fear that public opinion may be shifting away from being accepting of porn.

We can live in a porn-free world.

Gilman believes that we can change our porno-fied culture within the generation, much like public acceptance of slavery was shifted over a short time.  But it needs to be because of the people.  We need to say out loud, to our family, friends and neighbours, that this worldview is not ok.

I come to the table as a mom.  I fear for my son and daughters.  My initial thought is to shelter them, to shut them off from the world.  But I was told that they will eventually encounter pornographic images, and my responsibility is to teach them how to deal with it.

Right now,  I am not worried that my kids will accidentally click something, because they currently do not have access.  My kids get no screen time.

But some day they will.  And I want to start building the foundation of trust and openness today, so that if they do encounter something in the future, they will know they can talk to me.

There is a book called Good Pictures, Bad Pictures.  This book had been on my radar for a while, and I had heard positive things about it from other parents.  Strength to Fight was selling copies and I picked up the junior version, written for 3-6 year olds.

Good Pictures Bad Pictures gives me the language to speak to my children in a way to prepare them and protect them, without scaring them.  It tells them what is bad, and what to do if they see something that is bad.

I read it to my kids today.  I read the very basic version and I did not include words like “pornography” because the other idea that stuck with me was “be specific, but not graphic.”  My kids are sheltered, and I don’t want to give them more then they can handle.  You need to prepare your kids as they become ready, building on previous conversations.

The last few pages of the book gives kids practical things they can do if they encounter a bad picture.

Today, Atticus walked by me and casually said, “if I see a bad picture, I can tell my mom.”

This is how I can protect my kids.  They need to know that if they encounter porn it is bad, but it doesn’t make them bad.  They need to know they can tell me and we will walk that path together.  They need to know I will not react in fear and anger, but in love.

Good Pictures Bad Pictures also talked about what to do if someone tries take bad pictures of kids.  I believe this book gives language to kids so they know what is good and bad and they can protect themselves.

I weep for the world that we are in.  But I take joy in the work of organizations like Strength to Fight who are working to equip me to help and protect my kids.

 

*This post contains affiliate links.  It doesn’t cost you anything, but it may give us something*