Being a mom is the hardest thing I've ever done, but it has brought me so much joy! I want to encourage other moms on their journey, I'll share motherhood tricks, spotlight tips I've learned from friends, and I hope you will share your ideas. I will focus on secrets that help families stay balanced, healthy, frugal, creative, and closely knit. I will also share favorite fiction and nonfiction books that I have enjoyed. Many blessings to you on your mothering journey!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Spiritual Growth
My husband made a New Year’s resolution to more purposefully lead our marriage in spiritual matters. I’ve already been blessed by his efforts. We’ve been listening to Pastor Tommy Nelson’s sermons from Denton Bible Church in Texas. We’ve especially enjoyed his “History of the Church” and “Song of Solomon” series. This week we began his series on Romans.

If you and your spouse are looking for a way to seek God together, I highly recommend downloading these free podcasts and listening together. Tommy Nelson is easy to listen to, he’s funny, and his sermons are so applicable to life. Best of all, the sermons will give you something to discuss (other than the children!) when you get a few moments alone together.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Preschool Food Pyramids

For 5 years, my eldest son has listened to me casually reciting the food pyramid as I put together meals. He knows that we try to eat a protein, vegetable, dairy and fruit at every meal. (We usually get our grains at breakfast, with sandwiches and with snacks).

Since I’ve been juggling baby #3, my son has been helping more with the meals. I’m so proud that he understands healthy nutritional guidelines, and he knows to order his meals in a well-balanced setting.

That’s not to say that he doesn’t sometimes want candy 15 minutes before mealtime, but hey, we’re making progress!

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Community Easter Egg Hunt

Saturday, April 7
10am – 12pm
There will be free food, pony rides, inflatables, and an Egg Hunt for 3 age groups

West End Community Church
235 White Bridge Road, Nashville, TN 37209
For more information, call 615.463.8497

If you come, I'd love to meet you!

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Easter Eggs

We colored Easter Eggs with Gramma this morning. I never thought about all the concepts a child can learn from coloring eggs!
  • Science: boiling eggs, bacterial precautions, chemical reactions, nutritional values

  • Art: wax art, shrinking wraps, layering colors, color wheel, cutting out the ‘egg holders’ on the cardboard boxes

  • History: why eggs (I haven’t studied this!), why color eggs?, when did the tradition start?

  • Math: cost of eggs and supplies, color density in relation to time in the dye, counting as you leave the eggs in the dye

  • Spelling: writing the child’s name, Happy Easter, Jesus Lives, or other phrases on the eggs

  • Reading: reading the directions on the box

I'm sure there are a million more connections. My favorite part is laughing and making memories together. Oh, and waiting for the inevitable spill! My 5 year old made the first spill, but the grown-ups knocked over another cup, while we were cleaning up his mess! More on cleaning tips later...

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Free Trees

The Arbor Day Foundation will mail you 10 free trees with a 6-month membership, which costs $10. You type in your zipcode, and they give you a list of tree packages that are suitable for your climate. You can choose from flowering tree mixes, maples, oaks, evergreen mixes… I called the national office to ask about fast-growing trees that work well in my clay soils – the representatives were very helpful! Your 10 free trees are guaranteed to grow, or the Foundation will replace them free of charge. My trees came yesterday, so now I just need to figure out where to plant them!

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Monday, March 19, 2007


Bloglines is my favorite *new* internet tool right now. No longer do I need to visit all my favorite blogs, to see if there are new articles. I just log onto my free bloglines account and my favorite blogs are all listed. If my ‘system’ of reading blogs is interrupted by kiddos, I can easily tell what I last read. New articles stay bolded, and I can easily save any articles that I want to read later. In addition to blogs, you can subscribe (free) to get the news, the weather, sports reports, or almost anything you want to read. Thank you Meredith, for introducing me to this great tool! It has saved me a lot of time and frustration!


Friday, March 16, 2007

Devotions for Kids

I just heard about a really cool devotional book for children. The One Year book of Fun &Active Devotions for Kids was written by Betsy Elliot and illustrated by Lilllian Crump. My friend Karen really likes the cartoon illustrations on every page. The activities are quick, simple and require few props. I can't wait to review it at Lifeway!

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Making Puzzles

My 5-year old desperately wanted to help me cut apart the family pictures we picked up today. He was quite distraught when I said that only Mom and Dad cut these pictures, because we can't replace them. Finally I thought to let him cut something with his own *sharp* scissors.

We looked at a couple of coloring books for cutting material, then decided to make our own puzzles. I drew a puzzle design on top of his old colored pictures, then he cut along the lines. He mixed up the pieces, and reassembled them all. Finally, he put all the paper puzzles into plastic sandwich bags for re-use.

It was a great 30-minute activity station, and I hear that cutting with scissors is one of the best developmental tasks that a preschool bot can practice.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Happy Birthday Blog!

In honor of my 1ooth post, I will publish one of my favorite recipes. I love to make this gooey & rich chocolate bundt cake. I originally found it at, and I'm forever grateful to the recipe submitter. It's one of my favorite mommy secrets!

1 (18.25 ounce) package devil's food cake mix
1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and water. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into a well greased 12 cup Bundt pan.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake thoroughly, invert and remove from pan. Top with a dusting of powdered sugar.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Helmet Stories

My youngest son had a very flat head as an infant. My pediatrician diagnosed the problem as plagiocephaly, and sent me to visit a specialist at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Experts are afraid the extreme flattening of the skull could lead to brain and vision problems, so the use special helmets to reshape the skull.

I was horrified to learn that my cute little 7 month old was going to need to wear a plastic helmet 22 hours/day for 4 months. I was further troubled whem I realized that Blue Cross Blue Shield covers zero of the costs, because the consider it to be a cosmetic intervention.
My first blogging experience was a blog about Brendan’s helmet. If you have friends with plagiocephaly or you’ve just wondered about babies wearing helmets, you can read some of Brendan’s story here.

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The Best Mommy Secret

I saw this picture on the "Trophy of God's Grace" blog this morning. I was so touched by the verse with the picture. The best mommy secret truly is prayer. Prayer when I'm angry, prayer when I'm frightened, prayer when I'm overwhelmed, prayer when I'm lonely, prayer when I don't know what to do. God is our constant friend and he wants to strengthen us in our trials. He wants to show us that when we are weak, we are truly stronger because His power flows through us.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Easy Italian Favorite
My mother-in-law makes great chicken lasagna. Every time she visits us from Arizona, my husband asks her to make it. I have finally started making it myself. It takes more time than my usual 15-minute suppers, but I always double the recipe to make up for the extra time. I was glad to pull out a frozen lasagna this weekend, for a surprise visit from my family in Knoxville.

4 chicken breasts, boiled and shredded
3 jars ragu – chunky garden style
1 large package of shredded jack cheese
1 large package of shredded mozzarella cheese
1 large box lasagna noodles

Cook noodles approximately 6 minutes in boiling water.

Grease bottom and sides of large rectangular pyrex dish.

Heat the ragu in the microwave. Cover the bottom of the dish with some of the Ragu.

Layer some noodles, some mozzarella cheese, some jack cheese, some chicken and more ragu. Repeat to fill the dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Cover with shredded jack cheese and bake until melted. Let stand about 5 minutes before cutting into squares.

Optional: add a sprinkling of garlic salt between each layer.


Friday, March 09, 2007

Letters and Colors

A glimpse at what we've been learning this week. D is reading simple words using B is practicing sorting and colors with wooden blocks.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Volunteer Your Professional Talents Pt 4
More ideas to use your professional skills in a volunteer capacity. Today's focus is on "Creative Professions":

Perform at a nursing home, lead worship for a youth group, teach music lessons to low-income children, volunteer in a school music class, or write a jingle for a non-profit agency.

Design or paint a mural for a low-income school or community center. Plan artistic activities for children or senior citizens. Plan a crafts station for a Vacation Bible School. Start a job-training program teaching welfare recipients to make money from a craft trade.

Write newsletter or webpage articles for churches or non-profit agencies. Write curriculum for small group Bible studies. Write encouraging notes to shut-ins or missionaries. Write poetry to encourage the sick and frail.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Volunteer Your Professional Talents Pt 3
More ideas to use your professional skills in a volunteer capacity. Today's focus is on "Scientific Professions":

Volunteer on a non-profit or school building committee. Help with home repairs for a senior citizen or someone with a disability. Design efficient processes at a facility.

Teach groups about nutrition, prenatal care, exercise, childcare, and inexpensive home remedies for illnesses. Assist in low-income clinics. Serve in another country. Mentor a younger healthcare professional. Lead a Bible study for healthcare practitioners.

Help with job-readiness by teaching basic computer skills to victims of domestic violence or prisoners. Offer a workshop to non-profit agencies on word processing, building a web page, using Excel, or using Publisher. Teach children in an after-school care facility how to work and play on computers.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

No More Ice Cream??!!

My sweet husband loves to make jokes about the size of our family. We only have three children (ages 5 and under), but he is very convinced that our family is complete. His latest blog explains why he's cutting me off of my ice cream addiction. (just kidding - I can't give ice cream up!)


Volunteer Your Professional Talents Part 2
More ideas to use your professional skills in a volunteer capacity. Today's focus is on "People Professions":

Lead activities for a preschool class, teach parents how to teach children, plan Sunday School curriculum, make bulletin boards for after-school care, tutor a child, mentor another teacher, or help with GED study skills at a shelter.

Advise staff members on critical fundraising techniques and creative ideas to generating revenue. Help with a non-profit agency’s capital campaign, help with a church building campaign, or help groups raise money for mission trips and activities.

Marketing and Sales
Marketing is often too expensive for non-profit organizations. Design a publicity piece or a promotional strategy. Help on a marketing or publicity committee. Share inexpensive marketing resources with a non-profit organizations.

Volunteer as a counselor for children, Easter Seals, a crisis pregnancy center, or a program for people with disabilities. Write a pamphlet or teach a class on discipline for new parents.


Monday, March 05, 2007

Volunteer your Professional Talents

You probably take for granted the knowledge and skills that make you successful in your field. You probably forget that you have unique skills and talents that could be very helpful to a community organization. I will highlight different sets of careers and corresponding volunteer ideas throughout the week. Take some time to think about how you might use your professional talents in the community. Today I will list ideas for some business fields:

Non-profit organizations are usually grateful for financial advice in budgets, taxes and cash flow. Offer to be a resource, volunteer on a budget committee, or help in the office periodically.

General Business
Volunteer on a non-profit board, help with strategic planning, coach them on leadership styles and delegating work, ask if your company can make financial or in-kind donations for their programming needs, or help them with fundraising.

Financial planning
Teach financial planning to singles, new families, victims of domestic violence, widows, prisoners or teens. Volunteer on a nonprofit agency’s financial committee. Educate people on methods of giving to churches and non-profit organizations.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Breakfast Casserole

This is my standard dish for brunches, Bible study groups, showers and Sunday morning sleepovers. My sister made it this morning to surprise her husband on his birthday. I originally found the recipe at

1 pound pork sausage
1 (8 ounce) package refrigerated crescent roll dough
8 eggs, beaten
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Brown sausage in a skillet. Drain, crumble, and set aside.

Line the bottom of a greased 9x13 baking dish with crescent roll dough, and sprinkle with crumbled sausage.

In a large bowl, mix beaten eggs, mozzarella, Cheddar, and oregano. Pour over the sausage and crescent rolls.

Bake at 325 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.


Friday, March 02, 2007

Tools for Mercy Ministry

This has evolved into a week of book blogs, so I'll add one more entry. I asked my friends and colleagues what books had most powerfully impacted their views on mercy ministry and outreach. I haven't read all of them yet, but I'll provide linkd to the ones I've read. May God use this list to bless your life and ministry.

A Chance To Die: The Life And Legacy Of Amy Carmichael, by Elisabeth Elliot
A Framework for Understanding Poverty, by Ruby Payne
Being White: Finding our Place in a Multiethnic World, by Paul Harris & Doug Schaupp
Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller (multiple recommendations)
Compassion, by Henri Nouwen (multiple recommendations)
Divided by Faith, by Michael Emerson
Don’t sing songs to a heavy heart, by Kenneth c. Haugh.
Don't Waste your Life, by John Piper
Dynamics of Spiritual Life, by Lovelace
Evangelism: Doing Justice and Preaching Grace, by Havie M. Conn
George Muller of Bristol: His Life of Prayer and Faith, by Arthur T. Pierson
Heart of a Servant Leader: Letters from Jack Miller, by John Miller
In the Name of Jesus; by Henri J.M. Nouwen
Life of the Beloved, by Henri J.M. Nouwen
Lifekeys: Discover Who You Are, by Kise, Stark, Hirsch, and Krebs
Master Plan of Evangelism, by Robert Coleman
Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis
Ministries of Mercy, by Tim Keller (multiple recommendations)
Ministry and Spirituality, by Henri J.M. Nouwen
More Than Equals, by Chris Rice & Spencer Perkins
Parenting the Hurt Child, by Gregory C. Keck and Regina Kupecky
Real Love for Real Life: The Art and Work of Caring, by Andi Ashworth
Religion in Shoes (biography of Brother Brian in Birmingham, AL), by Blakely and Rice
Restoring At-Risk Communities, by John Perkins
Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger Upholding the Vision, by John Perkins and Ron Sider
Run with the Vision, by Tim Keller
Spiritual Leadership, by Oswald Sanders
The Bible (especially Isaiah 58, James 1, and Matthew 25).
The Emotionally Healthy Church, by Peter Scazzero
The Prevailing Church, by Randy Pope
The Road to Daybreak, by Nouwen
Through Gates of Splendor, by Elisabeth Elliot
To Live In Peace, by Mark. R. Gornik

Recommended authors
Frederich Buechner
Henri J.M. Nouwen
Jim Elliot
John Perkins

Secular Books with Good Teaching Principles
A Hope in the Unseen - An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League, by Ron Suskind
Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty, by Muhammad Yunus
Hero for Humanity - A Biography of William Wilberforce, by Kevin Belmonte
Magnificent Obsession, by Lloyd C. Douglas
Rachel and her children, by Kozol
Six Thinking Caps, by Edward De Bono
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Michael Lencioni
The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell
There are no children here, by Kotlowitz

Do you have favorite books that have impacted your view on caring for others?

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Use your Personality to Pick a Volunteer Project
God created you and your children with a thumbprint of very unique gifts and personalities. He designed you with a purpose, prepared to make the world a better place. Looking at your personality might help you find your niche for volunteering in the community. It will also help you find a good way to teach your children about the importance of serving in the community. Here are some examples:

Help with outdoor activities for a Big Brothers Big Sisters or a 4-H Club. Organize an adventure for the church youth group or a Young Life club. Plan a treasure hunt for children.

Make a puppet theatre box for children, help with home repairs for senior citizens, or build a Habitat for Humanity house. Help a single mother with yardwork and home repairs.

Visit patients in the hospital, nursing home, or Ronald McDonald House. Volunteer as a crisis pregnancy counselor or answer calls on a crisis hotline.

Decorate a room for the Renewal House or a YWCA domestic violence shelter. Paint a mural at a daycare center

Help children perform a simple drama, tell the gospel through dramatic stories, or read stories to children at a preschool.

Coach a sports team, lead recreational activities for children, chaperone a youth group trip, or help at Vacation Bible School. Babysit for single mothers.

Visit senior citizen’s centers, dress up as a clown at a hospital, or help with puppet shows at the library

Host an open house or help with a fundraiser for a non-profit agency’s collaborating partners, clients or the community-at-large. Volunteer as a foster parent for children or animals.

Offer to give a motivational speech at a school, community center or church. Use arts and crafts to inspire other people. Read stories to children. Mentor a child.

Help plan special events for a non-profit agency, or volunteer on their board of trustees. Tutor a child. Teach study skills to students.

Quick Thinker
Volunteer with CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates), coach a debate team, or lobby congresspersons on an important issue.

Visit with people with disabilities, read stories to children in a low-income preschool, or host a dress-up party for the Boys & Girls Club.

Teach money management and share shopping tips with singles, new families, widows, and former prisoners.

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