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Showing posts from October, 2008

Waiting Games

I just discovered a great post titled, "13 Ways to Pass the Time While Waiting with your Family at a Restaurant". Katey has lots of clever ideas for young children (and adults!!). Some of the ideas are also great for road trips and some are great for teaching the skill of creative thinking. If you home school, some of her 'imagine if' games are also good for writing prompts. So pick and choose your favorites to store away for future use.


Vote, Speak Up, and Pray

I don't want this to become a political blog, so I won't even mention any names in this post. But I wanted to remind you (and your family) to be a responsible citizen this week.

VOTE - go vote early, so you can take your kids with you to the polls. Tell them what you're doing, why it's important, why it's a privilege, and why you've chosen your candidates. This is a great educational opportunity for them in regards to character and responsibility. Then get a sticker for everyone and wear it proudly.

SPEAK UP - know why you support your candidate (BEYOND their party connection!), and educate people around you on the issues. Remind them to make time to go vote. Let them know where they can vote early, and offer a ride if they need it.

PRAY - I like the way my uncle Cliff wrote it in an email today, "Pray for God’s divine will to be done and accepted by our country. Please also pray for healing for the deep divisions that are hurting us as Americans at thi…

Fireproof and Love Dare

I've heard great things about Fireproof, but we haven't seen it. A few ladies in my Bible study are reading the companion guide to Fireproof. They really like the questions they ask spouses to discuss, and they highly recommend it.

So if you, your neighbors, or your colleagues have enjoyed the movie, you might want to look at the book too. A strong marriage is definitely a helpful part of being a great mommy!

Halloween Tips

My friend Susan just wrote two great newsletter articles for Halloween.
Halloween tips for ParentsHalloween tips for NeighborsI'd love to share them with you, but I can't post PDF files on blogger. If you'd like me to send them to you, just leave a comment below or email me at mommysecretsblog(at)gmail(dot)com.

A New Nashville Treasure

Nashville has a new bookstore called Fairytales in east Nashville. Their tagline is "Where Stories Come Alive". I visited their store for the first time last week, and I was thrilled.

It's a bright and colorful store that inspires creativity and imagination - a love for discovery. They sell books for children, teens, and caregivers - and they'll special order anything they don't already have in stock. They sell interactive toys such as paints, costumes, puzzles, word magnets, and puppets. They also sell beautiful hand-crafted jewelry.

They also host tons of special events. They have storytimes after school each day, and a special Saturday storytime. They do special crafts and activities at every storytime, so you and your child will have a great time creating together. They also have jewelry making classes, book clubs, workshops, and mom's groups. They have a cozy little room in the back that they rent out for groups and classes.

So if you're in Nas…

Neighborhood Tea Party

I smiled when I saw Lindsey's post at Passionate Homemaking. She's getting ready for an Autumn Ladies Tea - another great idea for neighborhood gatherings.

She shares about her philosophy of hospitality, some great resources for practicing hospitality, and some really yummy recipes.

Lindsey writes a very inspirational blog. She updates it regularly, sharing practical ideas for being a woman like God - loving, serving, encouraging, and engaging people in her life.

How to Host a Great Neighborhood Party

We had a great time hosting our neighborhood pumpkin carving and chili party Friday night. We had almost 50 people join us from all different parts of the neighborhood. The kids ran around like crazy, having a great time, while the adults sampled four different kinds of chili. Then we went outside to carve pumpkins together.

We believe that it's important to build and nurture a sense of community in our neighborhood. It creates safer community, where people care about one another. It creates a more joyful neighborhood, where people greet one another and actually talk to one another. And it's just fun!

It's easy to host a neighborhood gathering. You don't need lots of money, or a big house, or the best backyard in the neighborhood. You just need to plan ahead and ask for help!

Tips for planning an easy get-together
Outdoor parties are almost always easier, so use your patio or driveway if the weather permits. Some neighborhoods will even let you block off a street…

Morning Reflections

Psalm 139
1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
You know everything about me – my joys and fears, my strengths and weaknesses, my thoughts and concerns.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You pay attention to me, and your cognizant of my worlds (even though you are such a mighty God)
3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
You know all my patterns, habits and rituals. You understand the way I’m wired.
4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
You know my thoughts even better than I do. And you know the thoughts I don’t even understand or realize.
5 You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
You complete me. You guard me. You lead me. You polish and change me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
How could you care so much for us?
7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can…

Thoughtful Family Project

My friends Mary & Lauren have been doing a thoughtful family project to help people that are homeless. They help their children decorate lunch bags with cheerful pictures, then they fill the bags with nonperishable snacks like granola bars, raisins, peanut butter crackers, pretzels, juice boxes... When they drive past a homeless person asking for money, they share one of their bags of goodies.

This would also be an easy project to do with a class or afterschool club, and you can engage children ages 2-22. It's a safe and simple way to help people in need. It teaches your children to recognize people that are in need, and find ways to help. It encourages your children to be creative. It helps families combat the me-me-me attitude that creeps up on all of us.

Research says that there are 40 developmental assets (building blocks) that all kids need to succeed. This project helps to build at least 10 of those assets:*Adult role models. Parent(s) and other adults model positi…

Treasuring God in our traditions

I just finished reading Noel Piper's book, Treasuring God in our Traditions. I pushed myself through the first 30 pages, but after that I took a lot of notes.

We are always teaching our children, whether we mean to or not. Our children come to believe that whatever is repeated regularly has significance. [Our brains learn through repetition – that's why God told us to] "Talk of [God's words] when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." (Deut 11:19) (p34-35)

We are training our children both intentionally and unintentionally. We need to make sure we aren't leaving the important things to happenstance. We know it's crucial that they become familiar with God, our Heirloom and our only hope for real life. We yearn for them to love and trust and follow Christ. It would be foolish just to wait for them to learn that by chance. We must plan to reflect God and teach about Christ in the repeated …

New CD for your Collection

Our family went with friends to a little tiny coffee shop called Cafe Ameno last night, where we thoroughly enjoyed music by Jamie Reid, Jeff Durham and a guitarist. The adults relaxed to the melodies as we sipped yummy coffees and ate paninis. The kids were lulled for awhile, then they danced outside the open doors to the music. It was so much fun!

I wanted to share the music of Jamie Reid with you. He plays tenor sax, and his music is just as good (if not better!) than Kenny G's music. We bought his CD of Instrumental Hymns and decided that it's perfect background music for dinner or relaxing in the evening. The music is soothing and peaceful, and they call to mind the lyrics of the hymns you probably grew up singing. You can sample the music at the link above, and see more on his website here.

Jukebox Games at the Diner

My friend Mary & I took our kids on a spontaneous lunch date today. We went to a great little local diner called Strattons in Ashland City. Because it was spontaneous, we didn't have anything to entertain our 5 children under 6 years old. So we invented a game.

After the children finished pushing buttons on the mock jukebox, we used the letters (A-K) to play a game. We took turns around the circle, as I asked each child to pick the letter that started a word. After I said 'hat', they said 'h' and pushed the 'h' button on the jukebox. One of the boys (age 3) is just learning his letters, so we focused on words that started with the same letter as his name (it's easier for a child to hear words that start with the same letter of their name, because their name is one of the first words they learn to spell).

Then we switched to another word game. The youngest boy pushed a letter in the alphabet, and the other 3 boys thought of words that started wi…

Everything Halloween and More

I love reading the Crafty Crow's fun arts & crafts ideas each day, but she has OUTDONE herself with Halloween ideas this week. Within each of these topical posts, she has 8-12 really clever ideas! If you love the Halloween spirit or if you are hosting a Halloween party, check these out!
Halloween Party: Decorations & Atmosphere! Halloween Party: Food! Halloween Party: Treats and Sweets! Halloween Party: Crafts! Halloween Party: Games & Activities!

Kids, Creativity and Costumes

Kelly Curtis just wrote a great post about halloween costumes at Blissfully Domestic. She includes lots of SUPER SIMPLE ideas for costumes, but she also writes ab0ut viewing the costume frenzy through a different lens. It's NOT about having the perfect Martha Stewart costume. It's about encouraging kids to be creative and have fun. We can definitely do that withOUT spending $50 on a costume!

Kelly is also an author - she wrote a very practical book for youth workers, pastors and families called Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to Do Great Things. She also blogs regularly at Pass the Torch.

Yummy Side Dish - Asian Salad

I love this yummy asian salad made with ramen noodles, nuts and shredded cabbage. I took some to share with my neighbor last week, and the husband has asked me for the recipe twice! I clipped it to share with them today, so I wanted to share it with you too.

The first time I made it, I shredded the cabbage, but since then I've opted to buy the coleslaw mix. It saves TONS of time!!

Put this on your list to take to your next potluck dinner - your friends will love it too!

I copied this link 3 months ago, but I never shared it with you. It's a list of 100 things to do together over the weekend - spending zero cash!

On our list this weekend:
Play board games - with and without kids!Bake a loaf of homemade bread - a new friend just gave me some friendship bread starter!Meet your neighbors - we've been going door-to-door inviting neighbors to a pumpkin carving party. :)Play football / soccer - my sons have been playing sports with the neighbors a lot this week.Do some networking - I've been reconnecting with friends & colleagues, announcing our new book.Build some paper airplanes - with family friends coming to stay with us this weekend, the 4 boys in the house will love making and flying airplanes!And they have 94 more ideas for you and your family to do together this weekend!

Poor Man's Pecan Pie

My DH is a Physical Therapist, so he's always meeting people with cool stories and cool recipes. Last month he brought home this "Poor Man's Pecan Pie" recipe after enjoying the decadent dessert at his office. We made it for our community group, and we loved it.

It's called the Poor Man's Pecan Pie, because it doesn't have any pecans in it. But it tastes like it does!! It's a great conversation starter at a party!

2/3 c sugar
2/3 c softened butter
2/3 c minute oats
2/3 c dark karo syrup
2 eggs beaten
1 t vanilla
pie crust

mix all ingredients together and bake 30-38 minutes at 350 degrees
let it cool, then enjoy with friends

Print Summer Pictures this weekend!

Snapfish is running a print sale today and tomorrow.
You can buy 50 4x6 prints for only a penny each!
Additional 4x6 prints are 9¢ each - still a pretty good deal.
Go to and use coupon code FALLPENNY08 at checkout.

Saving Time in the Kitchen - great tips from Frugal Upstate!

Jenn at Frugal Upstate just published a great article about saving time in the kitchen - she actually titled the article "Avoiding the Take-Out Trap". I follow many of her suggestions, but I never thought about creating a list of all the different meals I could create with a few prepared meats. I love this list! Here are some of our favorites that I pulled from Jenn's list. Visit the link for about 40 great ideas!

Ground Beef
Pot Pie/Shepherds Pie: Mix with can of mixed veggies, white sauce or cream of soup. Cook in casserole dish with either boxed mashed potatoes or biscuits on top

Tacos/Burritos: Add the spice mix and serve either on burrito wraps or in taco shells
Sloppy Joes: Use your favorite recipe.

Chicken soup: Broth, veggies, chicken, rice or noodles
Stirfry: Mix with a bag of frozen stirfry veggies and some soy sauce, serve with rice

Meatballs - I need to try these for my family!
Meatball Subs: Add to spaghetti sauce, serve on a roll with cheese

The Art Station

Our kitchen island is transformed into an art station during many days of the week. My kiddos love to pull out construction paper, stamps, markers, crayons, glue, paint and whatever they can get their hands on to create.

According to the Search Institute, who has done extensive research on what kids need to succeed, Creative Activities is the least reported developmental asset out of a list of 40 basic building blocks that children need.. Only 17% of young people spend three or more hours a week involved in creative activities.

So my family believes in creating! This week, we've been making birthday cards for lots of October birthdays. We've been cutting pictures from recycled cards and coloring books to glue on our homemade cards. My 3yr old son made the birthday cake with candles on the left, and my 2yr old daughter is very excited her pasting in the photo on the right.

As long as you can tolerate a temporary mess, you can easily create your own art station to nurture the …

Welcoming Guests into Our Homes

We love hosting overnight guests in our home. Since moving further out into the country, we have a simple guest bedroom, and we love filling it with friends for multiple days.

I just read a really practical post from Simple Mom about Hosting Overnight Guests: 10 Easy Tips To Help Your Visitors Feel Welcome. It's a great list of easy ways you can welcome your guests.

Building Community - Authentic Community

I just read a great post on Frugal Hacks about being a good neighbor. It has journal entries from the Deputy Handmistress' great grandmother, as well as reflections on what it means to invest in friendships that will build a sense of community during hard times. It's an outstanding read.

More Cakes than you can Imagine!

Building Christian Character

My son’s school librarian just shared with me a great book series about building Christian character. Michael P. Waite tells stories in Seussical style with whimsical pictures and great rhymes. Each book has a letter to parents, exhorting them on their journey to raise children with strong character and giving practical ideas for nurturing children. Each book closes with a kid-friendly scripture – easy for young children to memorize. Here is a sampling of his great books:

My son’s school librarian just shared with me a great book series about building Christian character. Michael P. Waite tells stories in Seussical style with whimsical pictures and great rhymes. Each book has a letter to parents, exhorting them on their journey to raise children with strong character and giving practical ideas for nurturing children. Each book closes with a kid-friendly scripture – easy for young children to memorize. Here is a sampling of his great books:

1.Max and the Big Fat Lie: A Book About Telling…

Giving Gifts

It's time to shop for Gramma and Papa again. I love them dearly and I love giving them gifts, but they are sooooooo hard to shop for!

I'm exploring a new idea this year, after seeing the Samaratin's Purse Gift Catalog last year. Instead of cluttering their house with more stuff, I think I'll give a gift in their honor.

Here's a sampling of the gift categories you can choose from at Samaratin's Purse:
Nine Gifts that Bless Children in the Name of Jesus - Help for orphans, hungry babies, disabled children, poor schoolchildren, heart patients, exploited children, pregnant mothers, newborns, and moreFour Gifts that Fight Epidemic Diseases - Malaria prevention, tuberculosis treatment, HIV/AIDS ministries—and our new Epidemic Diseases Fund to make a world of difference where it’s most neededSix Gifts that Kids Can Give - Hot meals, warm blankets, sports gear, Gospel storybooks, Bible lessons, and musical toy lambsNine Gifts that Transform Communities for the Glory of …