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!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Shadow Hands

Do you remember making shadow shapes with your hands? Look at this super-cool Volkswagen commercial that uses hand shadows. It's incredibly creative, and it's even fun to watch with your kiddos!


Great Group Games

My first book, Great Group Games is officially in bookstores this month, and I'm thrilled with the finished product! I hope you will share the book with teachers, pastors, and youth workers that might be able to use it. The cheapest place to buy it is $10.91 at, but you can see product reviews here. Thanks for helping me spread the word!


Great Group Games
175 Boredom-Busting, Zero-Prep Team Builders for All Ages

by Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor

Whether coordinating a 20 minute homeroom period, a four hour bus ride to camp, or an all day retreat, group leaders will appreciate this wide array of solutions for keeping young people upbeat, engaged, and unified. Icebreakers, games, and think-about-it/talk-about-it activities provide opportunities for staging meaningful and fun interactions. Participants are encouraged to think for themselves, work within a team, and follow-through to ensure trusting relationships. Organized in easy-to-reference sections that offer options for adapting to group sizes and ages, Great Group Games is appropriate for a wide range of people, session times, and age levels—and will help groups at all stages, from establishing relationships to celebrating long-standing partnerships.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

John Piper's books

If you love John Piper's books, you'll want to know that they are on sale for $5 tomorrow (Thursday). Justin Childers has written a great blog entry about his books with details about purchasing the super-great deals!

Piper has an amazing way of presenting deep theological truths in common language. I particularly enjoyed "Desiring God" and "Don't Waste Your Life". My Bible study group is constantly using his sermons in our inductive studies.

Happy reading and shopping!

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Rest Time

We've started something new for my 5 year old's rest time. I've been renting audio books from the library, and letting him listen to 1-2 CDs during naptime. So far, we've listened to several of the Henry Huggins books and the Frog and Toad books. My son LOVES them! If you have favorite books-on-tape for this age group, I'd love to hear them.

Educational, fun and free - that's always good, right? :)

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Cooking Easy & Yummy Dinners

I love reading recipes from The Aldi Queen. I doubled her Brushetta Chicken Bake to make for a friend with a new baby. I love doubling recipes. I love good food. I love good food that is easy to cook! Thanks, Amy, for a great recipe. :)


Friday, June 22, 2007

Kids Care Clubs seek to develop compassion and the spirit of service and philanthropy in elementary and middle school aged youth. Kids Care Clubs are at over 1000 schools, churches, Volunteer Centers, community centers, 4-H clubs...

Through hands on projects such as Eat Wise - Exercise!, Kids Care BookShare, Team up for Kids in Foster Care, Holiday Hope Chests, and Operation Kids Care members of Kids Care Clubs have helped the elderly, hungry, homeless, disabled, sick, and victims of disasters.

See if there is a KCC in your area. It's such an easy way to find meaningful volunteer opportunities for your children AND make a real difference in the lives of people in your community and around the world. And there's no cost other than the time you invest to serve.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Kids Cooking Camp

My friend Aimee showed me this resource to help families learn, laugh and cook in the kitchen. Each week of this Cooking Camp has a menu of foods to prepare together, as well as activities to do together in the kitchen. Recipes for older children are connected with world studies. Younger children’s recipes are based on silly themes. What great free fun!

Week 1 –Italian studies
Fun with food- Insects

Week 2 – French studies
Fun with food – Snakes

Week 3- Eastern European studies
Fun with food- Fish and fishing

Week 4- Asian studies
Fun with food- Sunshine and sunflowers

Week 5- Middle Eastern studies
Fun with food-Transportation and things that go

Week 6- American studies
Fun with food- Balls and Sports

Week 7- British studies
Fun with food- Homes

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Random Acts of Kindness

A way to intentionally spread kindness through small things we do everyday. It’s the perfect opportunity to show Christ’s love to others, spreading random acts of love and light to people around you. As Christ captures your heart with HIS love, share that love with people around you! Here are some ideas you might consider this summer:

1 Be kind to someone who least expects it
2 Memorize a verse about Jesus’ kindness
3 Listen to a friend that needs to talk
4 Start a kindness "pass it on" card
5 Invite a friend to dinner or dessert
6 Walk a dog for a travelling neighbor
7 Encourage someone
8 Help a student with a difficult subject
9 Memorize a verse about God’s unconditional love
10 Help someone who has fallen down
11 Brainstorm kind things you can do in your school or office
12 Send a card to someone who needs a lift
13 Pick up trash around the neighborhood
14 Be the first to say “I’m sorry”
15 Call a friend that you’ve lost touch with
16 Read a story about Jesus’ kindness
17 Babysit for parents that need a break
18 Send an unexpected thank you note to someone special
19 Thank your colleagues for something they’ve done for you
20 Volunteer for an extra shift in the church nursery
21 Teach a young child something new
22 Weed flowers for an elderly neighbor
23 Memorize a verse about helping the poor and needy
24 Write a letter to someone who needs an encouraging word
25 Read a book to a child
26 Bake cookies for a friend
27 Find a service project to do this month

"There's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end." Scott Adams


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Magic Meredith Has Done It Again

Meredith at Like Merchant Ships absolutely transformed a pepperidge farm cake into an elegant birthday cake for her daughter. She makes the most complicated-looking projects totally do-able for normal moms. Isn't this cake beautiful?


Friday, June 08, 2007

Grandma's Chocolate Ice Cream

This is the recipe we always make for ice cream socials, family gatherings, and neighborhood parties. It's a tradition in my husband's family and it's sooooo yummy!

6 eggs
2 c sugar
2 qts half and half
1 pint whipping cream
16 oz Hershey’s syrup

Beat eggs ‘til frothy. Add sugar and beat ‘til fluffy. Mix in half and half, one quart at a time. Mix in whipping cream. Mix in chocolate syrup. Pour into a 4-quart ice cream freezer canister and freeze according to directions.

IF there is any leftover, freeze it in a tupperware container, and enjoy it another night.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

A 2nd Life for Yogurt Cups

We went on a playdate today, and one of the moms brought snacks to share. She brought big bags of pretels and raisins, as well as a stack of clean empty yogurt cups to hold the snacks. So clever!

The cup is perfect for a child-size portion, it fits easily into a child's hands, and it's free! She says they also work really well for travelling in the car. No more pressure to buy multiple individual packages - buy one package and give a cup to everyone in the car. And if your carseats have cupholders, the yogurt cups will fit nicely into the holders.

I love it when recycling is so easy!

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Castles fit for the King and Queen

Scribbit has a great series on summer crafts for kids. I especially loved today's post about making castles with the kids. So simple, yet so creative - my kids will love making these!

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Getting Housework Done with Little Feet

Kelly's post today at ThriftyMommy is titled, "Top 10 ways to get chores done while hanging out with your kids". She has some very practical and creative ideas for engaging kids in (and around) household chores.

Here are some more ideas that split up the workload in our house:

Dishwasher: my toddler puts up the kid's bowls/plates, my preschooler puts away the silverware, and I put away the rest. With all of us working, it's a 3-4 minute chore.

Laundry: my toddler helps me sort the laundry into piles, my preschooler sorts and matches socks, and I fold clothes as my toddler hands them to me.

Toys: we try to follow the rule of "one set of toys out per person". My preschooler has this down pat, but it's a battle to win the attention of my toddler.

Gardening: the kids fill up buckets to water plants, while I do the majority of watering with the hose.

Breakfast: my preschooler helps get a cold breakfast ready for his little brother, while I feed the baby. It sounds little, but it's a huge help!

All the little things add up, and they result in a better functioning home, more responsible children, and a more sane mom!

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Volunteer at Church
A church's success in ministry depends largely on its pool of volunteers who are willing to jump in and get their hands dirty. Volunteering within the church is also a great way for you to get to know the other people in your congregation. Working side-by-side encourages conversations to go beyond traditional greeting rituals, to actually learning about each other's hobbies, histories, dreams, habits... Okay, maybe you don't want to tell people everything... :) Take a risk and get involved Invest your life in your church and in new relationships.

Play or sing music in the children's department
Greet visitors as they enter the church building
Call or visit new church members
Deliver a meal to someone in need
Volunteer as a teacher or substitute in children’s ministry
Thank other volunteers
Volunteer on a committee
Visit people in the hospital
Help the Sunday morning decorating crew
Help with childcare during Bible studies
Share your testimony during youth group meetings
Support your pastors and staff
Send care packages and letters to missionaries
Teach an adult Sunday School Class
Write an article for a church newsletter
Host a home fellowship group
Write a letter to a missionary
Teach new parents about childcare and discipline
Help plan special events
Help with Vacation Bible School

Host a 4x4 dinner group
Decorate a bulletin board
Host a brunch
Use your professional talents
Give from your personality style
Find something that's fun for you to help with

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Free Floats!

Sonic has free root beer floats on Thursday, June 7, 8pm-12am.

Can you meet family friends for free floats, and sit on the benches to play cards or dominoes?

Free food = great opportunities for building relationships and memories!

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Stains are Driving Me Crazy!!

Red clay mud in the backyard
Baseball games in white uniform pants
2 crazy boys that like to explore
2 kids in diapers with poop-out potential
1 baby girl that gets baby food everywhere

We have a lot of stains in our house. I was thrilled to find OxiClean stain spray, which gets all our tough stains out, but it's so expensive! I've tried several generic stain sprays, but I haven't found anything that works. I need something quick & easy & inexpensive.

What stain remover and laundry detergent do you use?


Free Magazines

Last month, I wrote about Pottery Barn's catalog being like a free decorating magazine. Yesterday I received another Food & Family magazine from Kraft. It's like getting a free cooking magazine in the mail. They do advertise, but there are so many good & simple recipes.

Here are some recipes I marked to remember:
Oreo & Fudge Ice Cream Cake
Tortilla Triangles
"Margarita" Fruit Dip
Southwest Stuffed Burgers
Lemonade Stand Pie

I haven't tootled around on their website, but it looks good too.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Who are the People in Your Neighborhood?
How many of your neighbors do you know by name? Do you know their occupations, their children’s names, or any of their favorite hobbies? Summer is a great time to get to know your neighbors, building friendships that can strengthen neighborhoods, provide opportunities to share the gospel, and fortify our faith.

How Can I Meet People?
*Host an Ice Cream or Popsicle Party
*Invite your neighbor’s children to Summer JAM Park
*Lead a Backyard Bible Club
*Start a July Fourth bicycle parade for the kids.
*Host a picnic at a local park or school
*Start a neighborhood 4x4 Supper Club
*Invite a neighbor friend to a summer Bible study
*Host a playgroup for same-age children
*Prepare a meal for a family in need
*Invite neighbors to a community group function
*Greet people as they walk or drive by your house
*Compliment neighbors on their yard work or home design

Other Tips
*Exchange phone numbers for emergency contact.
*Make a neighborhood map to chart all the families you meet.
*Offer to check mail, care for animals, or water plants during neighbor’s vacations.
*Start a neighborhood watch group.

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