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ViveVita Everyday Elegance Chair Covers Rank #1 and #2 on Amazon.com

It has happened again!

This morning (6/29/2013) I looked, and our Everyday Elegance Chair Covers were ranked #1 Amazon Bestseller for Simply Linen style, and #2 for Creamy Brown in the following category:

This is always good news, and encouraging to see something you have created have real life support from real people.  We would like to give a great big ‘Thank You’ to everyone who has shown us so much support every step of the way, and everyone who has purchased and use our products.

Gripsterz Child Leash Alternative

We do a fair amount of traveling as a family.  At the moment we are traveling abroad with all the children.  So I thought this might be a good time to write some a blog post or two about keeping children close when traveling.

If you have ever had to bring your children with you through a busy airport such as Miami International Airport or London Heathrow you know how hectic and hair-raising it can be.  Multiply that be 100 and you know the feeling of taking your children through some of the third-world airports missionary families encounter on a regular basis.

Now imagine being in line for the security checkpoint with all your kids, your carry-on items and travel gear.   You definitely want to keep your children close, but sometimes when you use a traditional child leash or harness your child will realize they are being tied up or involuntarily restricted.  Does it help to have them sit down in the middle of the causeway and start bawling their eyes out since this restriction makes them feel like they are being punished when they haven’t done anything wrong?

Gripsterz child tether alternative at SJO San Jose, Costa Rica

Keeping children close with Gripsterz child harness alternative during international travel

Gripsterz Stay Along, which is comprised of a walking rope and voluntary character handle, helps alleviate that stress.  Children hold on to the handle because they like the monkey character, and they do not get upset since they are not being involuntarily restricted.

Gripsterz also gives children a feeling of security and ‘connectedness’.   They don’t have to cling to Mom’s leg because they are in a strange new environment.  Decreasing stress and anxiety for kids helps decrease stress for parents.

While there is no silver bullet for all people in all situations, we have used Gripsterz as an alternative to a child leash extensively during international travel and have found it works wonderfully for our family.

Activities for children–cold and wet weather

I recently published a blogpost about activities for children during nice weather.  But the weather doesn’t always play along.

When the weather is cold or wet or both, there are still plenty of fun things to do with children.  Here’s a list of some of our favorites.

1) Family reading:  we love to read.  Frog and Toad books are perennial favorites of the children (and myself).  We read these to each other a lot.  When two little ones get into a fight, I put them on the couch next to each other and have them read Frog and Toad to each other.  You can also do quiet family reading time, Bible reading, or “Daddy reading”–I like to read a chapter of the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, time permitting, each day.  J.R.R. Tolkien has such an incredible writing style, the tales are entertaining and adventurous, and he paints a setting like none other I have known.

2) Board games.  I have always loved board games, and I think the children take after me in this respect.  Board games are perfect training tools for how to deal with winning and losing in life, as well as being good sports, and learning to take calculated risks and not be afraid.  Whether you win or lose in board games a few things always hold when you are through:  1) you are still alive, 2) Mom and Dad still love you, 3) God still loves you.   Never forget that.

3)  Baking and making.  Whether it is simple dinner rolls, pancakes, or desserts, it is always fun to do some baking on a rainy day.

4) Clean up.  House chores can be fun with the right attitude, especially if everyone chips in and helps out.  Many hands make light work.  We like to put on some groovy tunes to keep the mood and motion peppy.

5) Help Mom with laundry.  Folding is a good thing for children (and Dads) to learn.  Doing it together makes it fun.

6) Story telling.  Children have the best imaginations and come up with the funniest things.  With all the reading we do, they also learn to create settings and give characters “voice”.

7) Making juice drinks or smoothies.  Frozen berries with yogurt become an easy treat and are fun to make on a rainy day.  If it is cold, warm it up and make hot cocoa or spiced cider instead!

8) Spa treatment for Mom.  This is one of the favorite things the little ones love to do!  A towel on the couch a few helpful children and a little lotion and Mommy gets one great foot and leg rub!  Throw in a hairbrush and an aspiring salon artist and Mommy gets a scalp massage and new hairdo at the same time!

9) If all else fails, wrestling always works.  Note:  for aging Dads and adolescent/preteen children–approach this with caution!  Once the youngsters reach 2/3 of your body weight it might be time to throw in the towel!  But while they are still small I like to cover the room with pillows, get on my knees, and play “Daddy takes on all comers”.  The couches are ‘safe zones’ for the kiddies, they can’t wrestle each other, and Daddy can call a time out when needed.

Everyday Elegance Chair Covers is an Amazon #1 Bestseller!

ViveVita’s Everyday Elegance Chair Covers have climbed to the top ranks for Dining Chair Slipcovers on Amazon.com!  The Creamy Brown color and Simply Linen Color have been trading spots back and forth for the #1 slot the last couple days.  Both have stayed in the top 5, with other colors reaching the top 20.

Here is a snapshot of the rankings this morning (Feb 2, 2013):

Everyday Elegance Chair Covers top Amazon 2-2-13

Everyday Elegance Chair Covers top Amazon 2-2-13


Congratulations to Robyn and the team at ViveVita!

Activities for Children–warm weather

We had a brief warm spell here in the Carolinas recently.  I like to take advantage of the break in weather whenever we get a chance.

Some ideas for activities for children if you have a brief warm spell include:

1) Going for walks!  This is my favorite.  Our street is a mile long and we have a great sidewalk to keep it safe.  The walk is pleasant and trees over-arch the street from both sides making nice shade, even for the hot sunny days.  The tree canopy is high enough to allow breezes so it always feels just about perfect.

2) Grilling dinner.  We give the children (or teams of two or three) each a different focus.  The oldest is now 13, so grilling is on the menu for any teenager!  This is a pastime I love to share.

3) Washing the cars.  Our conversion van is nearly 9′ high, so it does not fit in most automated car washes.  But it is great fun for the kids and helps us all learn responsibility and how to take care of things God has given us.

4) Pets.  For us pets now means chickens.  We are learning all about egg-layers and how to feed and care for them.  Warm weather is a great time to do this.

Muddy girl with bike

Muddy girl with bike

5) Gardening.  Even in the ‘winter’ (it does not typically get down to freezing much here in Charlotte so things stay pretty green) we can do some weeding and prepping for spring as well as picking up sticks off the lawn.

Girl in Garden with Banana Tree

Girl in Garden with Banana Tree

6) Sports.  Although I currently have a broken toe and am sidelined until it heals, we normally like to kick around a soccer ball or ride bikes.

7) Fire pit.  If it is dry enough and we can get chores done early enough and plan ahead, it is always fun to roast some marshmallows over the fire pit.

Girl with multiple hula hoops

Girl with multiple hula hoops

Girl with many hulahoops

Girl with many hulahoops



8)  Go to the park.  Frisbee, hoola-hoops, festivals, carnivals, outdoor concerts or just plain playing in the sand.

9)  Just plain old hanging around and chillin’.  Nothing is better than crashing out after a hard day at play!

Little boy crashed out sleeping

Little boy crashed out sleeping

Organizing Winter Clothes

SO, I don’t know about your house, but during the winter time we are flooded with hats, sweaters, coats, vests, boots, scarves, mittens, etcetera, etcetera, etceteraaaaaahhhhh….

Here are some tips on getting organized and keeping stuff from taking over the house:

Ikea Gear Locker

1) Ikea lockers:  we bought a dual-locker/drawer combination a couple years ago at Ikea or Pottery Barn Outlet or somewhere like that.  It is about 6′ tall, has two head-height shelves, under which are quad-hanging hooks on each side and a ‘locker space’.  Then under that the locker comes out about 10 or 12″ into a perfect-height seating area for children, and a foot-locker drawer beneath.  In the warm weather we keep soccer and swimming gear in here, and in the winter we keep boots, mittens, scarves and other various implements of destruction.

2) Stack-able plastic drawer-bins:  Robyn has used these for years for the smaller children’s mini-dressers in the laundry room, rather than truck laundry up and down the stairs (since the little guys get dressed in the laundry next to the kitchen anyway).  She found a pair of three-drawer sets that fit perfectly into the locker-space of the above Ikea lockers to help further organize gear.    We also use a larger and deeper one in a nearby closet to keep shoes (mostly) out of sight when not in use.

Shoe Closet Storage bins

Shoe Closet Storage bins

Behind door pocket array

Behind door pocket array

3) Behind-the door pocket hanger:  Robyn found a great way to keep ‘formal dress’ such as belts, church shoes, etc. organized and easy to find during the Sunday-morning scramble.  This array of pockets hangs on the back of the door to the laundry room and is an invaluable asset for getting ready and finding things easily.  She also has one hanging in the laundry area for easy access and storage for socks and tights for little ones, as well as those poor unpaired socks the laundry monster tends to create.

4) Hanging hooks and ‘storage steps’ in the garage:  since a lot of our entry and egress from the house is through the garage, we put rows of hangers along the stairway.  But as our family grows, we have been outgrowing our hanger space, and it wraps around the wall into the front of the car bay.  Since this is also a place where random stuff tends to get piled, and then the little guys can’t reach their coats, I took some pressure treated wood left over from another project and built an elongated three-step ‘storage-bench’.  This serves a few purposes:

  • the steps are hinged so sports equipment can be easily stored and accessed in the space under the steps during off-season;
  • mudboots are stored on top of the steps to keep the mess outside of the house;
  • the children can still climb the steps (when they are not a complete mess) to reach the jackets on hangers above.
Flip-top Garage Storage Steps

Flip-top Garage Storage Steps

Many thanks to Robyn for the brains and inspiration to help us get dressed and get to places.  If it were solely up to me, I am afraid we’d never get out of jammies.