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!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sugar Cookies
School snow days kept us home from school yesterday & today. No snow, but rumored ice around the county. No snowmen, snowball fights or snow angels for us. But we did make the yummiest sugar cookies. The recipe from Stephanie was super easy and we used a set of transportation cookie cutters that my mom gave us last year. We had a blast making, eating and giving away the goodies.

· 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
· 1 teaspoon baking soda
· 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
· 1 cup butter, softened
· 1 1/2 cups white sugar
· 1 egg
· 1+ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.

Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets. OR refrigerate for 30 minutes, then roll dough to make cut-outs.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

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Love and Marriage

I stumbled upon a song at the YMCA a few weeks ago. "Till We Ain't Strangers Anymore" is a duet by Bon Jovi and LeAnn Rimes. It's very well sung, it has great lyrics, and it's a powerful message for love and marriage.

"It might be hard to be lovers, But it's harder to be friends"
Especially with young children running around the house or shuttling older children around the city to a million activities, it's easy to let a quality marriage slip through our fingers. Spouses can become efficient house managers, parents, cooks, taxi drivers, and lovers - but forget to keep a friendship alive. What did your friendship with your spouse look like when you fell in love? What do you love to do together? Set aside some time to enjoy just being together. Make that 'time out' a habit, so you can strengthen and maintain the friendship of your marriage. Refuse to be just roommates and co-workers - determine to be soulmates and lovers.

"It would be so easy To live your life With one foot out the door"
This is a great phrase for life in general, but it's especially easy in 2007 to be in a marriage with one foot out the door, ready to cut bait and run when things get tough. But even if you are determined to stay married, it's still a challenge to be vulnerable with your spouse. To share the hard stuff. To seek to be your true self and accept your spouse for who he is. Jump in, be willing to dive deep, and learn how to live life together. Don't let fear or pride get in the way of a great, instead of just a good, marriage.

"It's hard to find forgiveness When we just turn out the light. It's hard to say you're sorry When you can't tell wrong from right. It would be so easy To spend your whole life Just keeping score."
Oooh - forgiveness - a HUGE part of a good marriage. Part of conflict resolution is agreeing to disagree. Part of it is growing to be humble enough to admit your wrongs and say you're sorry. Part of it is be willing to accept someone's apology - all the way down to the core of your heart - and let something go. Part of healthy relationships is knowing when to let something go, and when it's important to talk about before you turn out the lights. It's such a delicate balance. Pray desperately for wisdom, muster up your courage to do the right thing, and doggedly determine to keep communication lines open.

"Lets put our two hearts back together And we'll leave the broken pieces on the floor."
Two sinful people will never be perfect. But God uses each of us to compliment one another - to make us stronger - to make us more like Christ. Lean on each other. Let your lives become one. Don't expect perfection from one another or yourself as a couple.

The Great Deceiver would love for you to have a mediocre marriage. The Holy Spirit has something very different in mind. He wants you to have a beautiful marriage that reflects his perfect love for us. What can you do today to strengthen your marriage? What can you and your spouse work on this week?

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV)

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Masking Tape = Ready for Active Fun

It was oh-so-cold in Tennessee last week, so we were struggling to find good indoor activities for rowdy young boys. While visiting my mom, she said, "Too bad they can't go play hopscotch or something." Ah ha - that triggered an idea.

I found a roll of masking tape and created a make-shift hopscotch board on the hardwood floor. I didn't make the entire box for the hopscotch square - I just put a 4" strip of tape with a corresponding number where each 'hop' should land.

My 6-year old loved the challenge of hitting the 'squares' and following the 1-1-2-1-2-1-2 pattern. My 3-year old enjoyed stepping on the numbers in sequence and counting out loud as he walked.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Wise Woman

My mom just sent me this quote by Maya Angelou. She's a wise woman with great clarity and perspective!

“I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it
seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I've learned that
you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things:
a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I've learned that
regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're
gone from your life. I've learned that making a living is not the same thing as
making a life. I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.
I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both
hands; you need to be able to throw some things back. I've learned that whenever
I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I've
learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one. I've learned that
every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or
just a friendly pat on the back. I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you
did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Monday, January 28, 2008

House Prayers

I love Monica's post titled "Build your home on the Rock!" It includes a series of scriptures that she prayed over each room as they were building their house. She actually wrote the scriptures on the walls before they put up drywall (see right). It's too late to write on my walls, but I love the idea of walking around my house and praying scripture for my family and guests.

Praying is one of the best 'secrets' of being a mommy. It invites God to change circumstances and intervene in powerful ways. It lets other people know they are loved, as you tell them you are praying for them. But mostly, prayer molds our own hearts - it makes us attentive to God's work in our lives, which yields confidence, gratitude and faith. It reminds us that he is sovereign and goood. It reminds us to depend on HIM, not ourselves. It gives us great perspective in this hard journey of life.

So pray today. And I'll remember to pray too. :)

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Times to Treasure: Joyful Ideas for Families

I stumbled upon this cute little box of ideas at a friend's house. I immediately hopped online to find myself a box.

They are full of bright shiny cards with precious illustrations. Each card shares a fun family activity, a way to show someone you care, or a little moment of refreshment.
Their publisher says, "They're perfect for leaving on a coworker's desk, tucking into a child's lunchbox, or placing in a loved one's coat pocket. Give them to others to let them know you're thinking of them or pick one each day to give yourself a little boost.

This treasure trove of creative ideas and activities to enhance togetherness promises fun for the whole family. Go for a moonwalk, play rhythm in a family band, celebrate an un-birthday, eat a meal backwards, hone your attitude of gratitude: all you need is a sense of playfulness and the willingness to spend time with the ones you love."
$5 = a great collection of family ideas!

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Cool Moms Care

This is a message I just received from my friend Anderson:

Well, our friends at CoolPeopleCare have launched yet another exciting and informative website called Cool Moms Care! I thought you might want to check it out and pass it on to any cool moms you know. If you like these sites, I also recommend their new book New Day Revolution -it's full of easy ideas to help revolutionize the way we live our daily lives. The guys that started this are good friends of mine and I am a big supporter their work. Check them out!

They have a newsletter, articles and a blog listed at the Cool Moms site. The articles looked really good, so I just added the Cool Moms link to my bloglines account. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE bloglines?

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Jewelry and Stories and Other Good Stuff

I splurged today. A sweet friend gave me a gift certificate to Ten Thousand Villages, a fair-trade gift shop that sells beautiful wares made by artisans from villages in 30 countries around the world. I found a cute little necklace (I've been watching for a necklace for a couple of months now!) for $12, and now I have a great story to tell with the jewelry.
It's made by women in the Tara Projects from Delhi, India. According to their website, "TARA Projects defends the rights of the underprivileged, especially women and children, by opposing child labor, exploitation and poverty. They are aggressively lobbying and campaigning, holding rallies, and educating people about fair trade. Their goal is to end injustice and manipulation in the world mass trade system. TARA Projects also funds non-formal and vocational schools as well as literacy centers for adults."
Ten Thousand Villages has 160 stores across the USA and Canada - and they sell goods online. It's a great place to find fairly priced special gifts for loved ones. And it's really fun just to see their stuff!

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pork Chops

I stumbled upon a yummy pork chops recipe this week. It had 1600 4+ star reviews on, so I figured it was worth a try!

My picky 3yr old wouldn't eat it, but everyone else enjoyed it. It was a little more complex than I usually cook (I like 5 ingredient 15 minute meals), but it didn't take much time. My 3yr old and I had fun cooking together.


Ready to Vote

I voted early last week, because I hate waiting in line with the kiddos. If you're still trying to figure out your top candidates, you might peruse this Voting Guide. It outlines the viewpoints on some of the top issues for Democrats and Republicans. I don't think moral issues should be the sole foundation in your vote, but it is an important aspect, so this site might help you.

Rock the Vote is also a good site for young voters, so if you have teens or college students, check this site out.

Remind your family and friends to do their research and vote!

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Power of a Smile

"A smile costs nothing but gives much. It enriches those who receive without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None is so rich or mighty that he cannot get along without it and none is so poor that he cannot be made rich by it. Yet a smile cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away. Some people are too tired to give you a smile. Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give."

- Author Unknown

Think of all the places where your smile can be powerful. With your husband, kids, colleagues, friends, kid's friends, clerks, other moms... Even when we are exhausted, we can still smile. It's a little choice that powerfully influences our lives and the lives of many others. Use your power!

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Linky Love

This has been a great week of reading in the blogging world. Here are some posts I've especially enjoyed:

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Date Night!

My DH planned a date night for us last week. It was a surprise - we put the kids to bed, and he asked me if we could have our in-house date in 30 minutes. He had discovered a new card game, called Tunge, through the Sheldon comic strip. He printed out the directions, grabbed a deck of cards from our visit to the Coca-Cola Museum in Atlanta, and we figured out how to play. It's a fast-paced game that involves a little strategy and a lot of luck. Maybe you can try it this week!

In-house dates are a great way to keep your marriage thriving - without the expense of babysitters and traditional entertainment. What do you and your spouse like to do together? Can you plan an in-house date this week?

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Paper Doll Princess

My brother's family gave my son a make-your-own-finger-puppet kit for Christmas. We made one of them this morning - it's cute. I went exploring on The Little Experience (the puppet makers) website this morning and found the cutest paper dolls princesses! You print out their coloring pages, color the paper dolls, cut them out, and play! You're right - my only daughter is 16months old, so it will be awhile before we make paper dolls. But I can dream, right?
They have other free activities too - check them out! They're great for rainy & snowy day fun.

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Friday, January 18, 2008


My 2yr old decided to teach my 16m old how to play Cariboo this week. Of course there are different levels for playing Cariboo.

1. Using advanced cards to match letters

2. Using beginner cards to match shapes and numbers

3. Just using the key to open boxes and look for balls.

They were really cute to watch (playing level 3 of course!). B-bug is a gentle teacher and my youngest loves to learn.

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Pooping Patterns

My 16m daughter is so funny. She holds her poop until I give her a clean diaper. She never poops after she's had a diaper on for an hour or two. She always poops as soon as I give her a clean diaper. It's the funniest thing!

She has also learned how to say 'cheese' this week. She contorts her face in the goofiest way. Her 'cheeses' make me laugh out loud!

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Monogrammed Plates

Meredith at Like Merchant Ships led me to Kari & Kijsa's blog full of creative decorating ideas.

I love the plates they decorated - especially the beautiful monogrammed plate! And their directions make it sound so easy to do!

They also sell some of their wares on Etsy - look at this cute little print they painted and framed...

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Connect Four

I loved the game Connect Four as a child, and was excited when my mom gave it to the boys for Christmas.

My 6yr old is starting to enjoy the strategy of the real game, but my 3yr old (HAPPY BIRTHDAY B-BUG) enjoys a totally different part of the game. As you can see in the picture, he likes to organize the colors - sometimes in straight lines, sometimes alternating colors. He's not naturally very systematic or orderly, so this game is great for teaching him about simple patterns and systems - the foundation for math, science, languages and all kinds of learning!

Hooray for learning that's fun!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Movie Invitation for Nashville Readers

Free Friday Night Family Fun

Come see the new VeggieTales movie
The Wonderful Wizard of Ha
It is a movie about the Prodigal Son on the big screen

Friday night - January 18th
6:30-8:00 pm in the gym at West End Community Church
Free hot dogs, chips and drinks!!
Lastly, bring pillows, sleeping bags, blankets or a comfortable chair.

Email Judy Dorris at with reservations for food. Be sure and list how many adults and children for food.

Let me know if you're coming - I'd love to say hello!

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Free Recipe Book

Kraft's free quarterly Food and Family Magazine came this week. I always turn down the pages of several recipes I want to try. This month's picks include:

Happy Cooking!

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Parenting Struggles

We've been having one of the tough parenting sprees in our house. Thankfully if we have a 2-week tough time, we know there's a 2-week good time around the corner. Thankfully our heavenly Father gives us strength, grace and wisdom to parent our children, because I'd be in big trouble if it were up to me alone. The comic strip "For Better or For Worse" is one of my husband's daily reads - he left today's comic up for me to read. I laughed outloud, so I thought you might enjoy it too.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Cheap Dates

I talked earlier this week about the importance of finding special time with your spouse. I just read The Ringpop Bride's post titled "16 Five Dollar Dates". Her ideas are simple and practical - but very fun and creative. I hope you collect great ideas like I did!

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Freezer Meals - Poppyseed Chicken

My friend Shannon sent me a great recipe that she likes to freeze. This recipe makes two 8 x 8 pans (one for 2-3 people to eat & one to freeze for 2-3 people later) or one big 9x13 pan.

3 cups of rice, cooked
3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz sour cream
1 stick margarine, melted
1 Tbsp poppyseeds
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed

Set oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom of 9” x 13” baking dish with nonstick spray. Pour cooked rice into dish and spread even. Place chicken on top of rice. Combine sour cream and cream of chicken soup in a separate bowl. Pour this mixture on top of chicken. In a separate bowl, mix melted margarine and crushed crackers. Stir in poppyseeds. Sprinkle this mixture on top of entire dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Dish is done when soup mixture is slightly bubbly and the crackers are lightly browned. Serves 8-10.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A Favorite Christmas Gift

One of my favorite Christmas gifts was from my brother's family. It was simply a card from Samaritan's Purse card. The inside read:

"A gift was given in your honor for children in crisis: compassionate aid to fight exploitation, bondage and abuse. This gift enables Samaritan's Purse to sponsor Christ-centered programs to assist, protect, rescue, and rehabilitate child soldiers, exploited girls, and other young people vulnerable to human trafficking."

The Samaritan's Purse gift catalog has hundreds of choices like this one - helping to treat malaria, provide clean water, giving Christian books to children, building playgrounds or offering job skills training. It's a great gift for the person who has everything. And it's a great gift that your children can help select for other children and families in need.

I'll definitely try to remember this for next year!

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Time for Mending

I've had a little stack of items to mend for at least a month. It keeps growing, but I never take time to actually do it! I tried something new today. I took the mending with me in the car. My DH drove and I mended my son's blanket. It was actually my blanket as a little girl, and he has loved it to pieces. It's been mended many times, and I'm not sure how much longer the crocheted pattern can last. But I'll do my best!

Next time DH is driving, I'll tackle two velcro shoe straps that have come apart. Then I need to stitch the hem on one of my favorite skirts. But I'll have to use the iron to patch my DH's pants. I think that will get me to the bottom of the mending pile!

If you haven't yet learned to sew a button and make simple slip stitches, ask a friend to teach you how. It's super easy to do, and it will save you tons of money from repairs at the dry cleaner or replacing clothes.

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Family Time with Mom

Mom is doing much better, getting stronger and stronger everyday. It was really nice to spend a week with her - keeping her company and helping with house stuff. Really, it was much like being in my own home - cleaning, cooking, and caring. But we made good memories watching movies, playing cards, and snuggling. I'm super grateful for her life, and glad she has a renewed heart to keep living!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Gift of Experiences

My DH & I don't traditionally give big gifts to our kids (ages 6 and under) for birthdays and Christmas, but we love to give the gift of family experiences. Our eldest son has loved the music of Trans-Siberian Orchestra for 2+ years. He watched the concert on DVD once, and memorized all the scenes. Whenever he hears the music, he'll say, "Mom, this is when they do such-n-such in the Trans-Siberian movie". During the holidays, he loves to play the Trans-Siberian CDs at home and in the car.

This year, we suprised him with tickets to see them in concert. Sunday night, my DH & I had so much fun with him at the concert. He was mesmorized by the lights, the music, the performers and everything he saw. We know this is a memory he (and we!) will never forget.

We look forward to special date nights with individual kids in the future!

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