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, December 31, 2008

Making New Year's Resolutions

SimpleMom has a great post about making New Year's resolutions. She challenges her readers to avoid making resolutions in haste, but instead, to ponder life carefully before making resolutions. Here are some of the questions she suggests asking:

5. Pick three words to describe 2008.
10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
19. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?

She has a series of 20 questions, so you should go read her article.

Happy New Year!

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Books for Preteen Girls

My 11-year old niece Gibsy gave me a list of her favorite books. I haven't read most of them, but I trust her judgment. She is part of a Christian homeschooling family, and they have conservative taste. If you share any of your favorite books for her age group, I'll pass them along to her!

Dulcie's Taste of Magic
Nancy Drew: Mystery at the Ski Jump
Beck Beyond the Sea
Meet Kit, An American Girl
Nancy Drew: Mystery at Moonstone Castle
Ginger Pye
The Wizard of Oz
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lessons Learned from the Great Depression

I just read a great article on Wikihow, titled "How to Apply Lessons Learned from the Great Depression". I feel funny posting it on Christmas Eve, but I couldn't wait to share the article with you. It talks about personal finances, spending, relationships, teaching children about money, home/car/clothing repairs, hypermiling (one of my DH's hobbies), meal preparation, recycling, and being grateful.

I continue to be grateful that frugality has been a long-time habit in our home. It has made this year's economy much easier to swallow. And I'm thankful to be able to share the simple tips I've learned with other moms - new moms, as well as moms with larger spending habits. I know so many of you are wise with your purchases and the way you manage your homes. I hope you are using those skill sets to nurture the women around you!

I also wanted to share a tidbit that my husband wrote in our Christmas letter. I cried when I read the letter, because it felt like such a perfect message to share with friends and family.
However, the neat thing about even these lean times economically is that there is never any doubt about who we live our life for. This season, the Savoir whose birth we are celebrating this season, will surely guarantee you eternal life if you place your faith in Him. Unlike sub-prime loans, the stock market, or the value of the dollar, trust in Him who will never fail or forsake you. The honor of worshipping him in heaven for eternity is much better than even seeing the Dow move past 14,000. If you don’t know Him, please ask us how you can have the joy we have in these down times!

If you already know Jesus, I hope you can be a light of his hope, joy, and peace during these topsy-turvy economic times (and always!). And especially this Christmas!

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wrapping Wrapping Wrapping

I've been blessed to be at my mom's house with the kids for almost a week. My DH doesn't get to be here the whole time, but we're having fun on the farm. Since my mom had foot surgery Friday, I've been helping her wrap family gifts. It has me thinking about wrapping tips, so I thought I'd type them out:
  • Wrapping Times: during naps or after the kids go to bed. I usually wrap for 30-60 minutes at a time, so it doesn't get overwhelming.
  • Wrapping Station: dining room table (I leave a station with wrapping paper rolls, tape, scissors, and gift tags)
  • Wrapping Environment: Christmas movies or Christmas music. My parents have Direct TV, so we've been enjoying the plethora of new and classic Christmas movies.
  • Gift Tags: when I'm feeling creative, I recycle old Christmas cards into gift tags. This year, I've been spoiled by my mom's gift tag stickers. It's a little thing - but they seem to save so much time!!
  • Gift Boxes: save them year to year, so you have plenty on hand.
  • Recycling fun: my kids are having a good time pretending that the empty wrapping paper rolls are light sabers. Instant (and free!) Star Wars fun!
  • Wrapping Help: Everything is better when shared with a friend! If you can wrap with your DH, a parent, or a friend, you get to share stories and build relationships while wrapping. It's a great perk!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Newest Book - Building Character From the Start

Our newest book is finally finished - well at least the first stage of publishing is finished. Susan & I just turned in the final draft of our latest book, which will be published by Search Institute Press in fall 09:

Building Character From the Start

201 Activities to Foster Creativity, Literacy, and Play in K-3

Here is a brief description of the chapters included:

  • Unit One: Finish the Pictures – Opportunities for children to draw and write stories that ‘finish the pictures’ on the page.
  • Unit Two: Experiencing Books – 98 books that encourage self-expression, healthy relationships, creativity, and strong character. Each book connects to talking points and activities for further exploration.
  • Unit Three: Masterpiece Creations – full of story starters, activities with food, and artistic explorations.
  • Unit Four: Play and Move - games that promote literacy, creativity and play.

We're very excited about the books, games, and writing activities that will inspire children in homes, schools and other youth organizations. We thank God for his many blessings!

If you want to receive an email when the book is released, leave your contact info in a comment box or email me at mommysecretsblog(at)gmail(dot)com.

If you want to take a peek at our other books, click below:

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

When You’re Too Tired to Deal with Your Kids - MVParents

I'm sure none of you can relate to the title of this post... "When You’re Too Tired to Deal with Your Kids". Lynette actually posted this earlier this month, but I haven't had time to write about it. I'm leading workshops in an overnight conference in Pigeon Forge, so I'm sitting in a quiet hotel room, taking a few minutes to write. The workshops went well, but the evening is also a treat - quiet dinner at The Old Mill, candlelit bath, and I'm about to crawl in bed to read the Bible and write in my prayer journal.

You should read her entire post, but here are some of the lines I appreciated from her wisdom for parents with young children:
  • Pace yourself. Parenting is not a race.
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Make sure your young kids are having either nap time or quiet time each day
  • Put a digital clock in your child's room, so they'll know when they can wake up for the day
She also includes tips for children ages 7-18.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hairstyles - Up-do's for Parties

We have a Christmas party tonight, so I'm searching for an easy up-do or a fun twist. I thought I'd share my finds:

Tips for an easy up-do
Hair up vs. hair down
Links to lots of styles of up-dos.
How to make ringlets
This up-do looks too hard for me, but it's definitely step-by-step

No more time for research - I need to go experiment!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Season of Giving – Volunteer Ideas for Families

Laura invited me to be a guest blogger at Joshua's House this week. It was my first guest post, so I was very excited - especially for a blog that is so empowering for christian families! She asked me to write an article highlighting ideas from my latest book, Ready to Go Service Projects: 140 Ways for Youth Groups to Lend A Hand.

I wrote an article titled "A Season of Giving – Volunteer Ideas for Families". It's a simple article about listening to your family's unique skills, talents & hobbies, recognizing needs in the community, and matching the pieces together to discover meaningful ways you and your children can serve together.

I hope it will inspire you and your family to find a way to serve - this holiday season and throughout the year.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Journey to Bethlehem

Katey at "Having Fun at Home" just posted a great idea for a Christmas Eve tradition.

Her family has a Journey to Bethlehem dinner. I love the way the tradition focuses a family's minds on Christ and the true meaning of Christmas. And I love the relationship building that naturally occurs during a quiet candlelight dinner. And a simple meal the night before Christmas definitely helps maintain the sanity of a busy mom!

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Gift Ideas that Don't Break Your Budget

Kelly Curtis justed posted a great article on Financial Discipline - Cost Saving Ideas for Christmas. Here are some of my favorite ideas from her post:
  • Support your child's hobby with the gift of basketball shoes, dance accessories, piano music or guitar tuner
  • Give the gift of activities together - “DQ trip with Dad” or “free movie rental” or concerts or museum field trips.
  • Create holiday traditions that don't revolve around gifts - play board games, make crafts, watch movies or play Bunko
You can read the full article at Kelly's monthly column at 5 Minutes for Mom. She also posts several times weekly on her on blog -

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Mission to Serve - Life in the Church

Two of my friends planted Fellowship Church Louisville a couple of years ago. They have a great vision for serving others. Listen to this paragraph from their newsletter:

"We constantly pray that one of the hallmarks of our church will be service. But, not just service for service's sake, service that builds relational bridges to our community through which the message of the Gospel can be shared. We desire for our service to be a demonstration of the love of God that opens doors for His message to be declared to our community."

So their November service project involved partnering with Here's Life Inner City (Campus Crusade's inner city ministry) and other Louisville churches to provide Thanksgiving dinner to almost 900 families in the city. But it wasn't your typical dinner delivery. Each of the 900 families took a spiritual interest survey before the boxes were delivered, so the Gospel could be presented in a meaningful way when families delivered the boxes.

Their prayer is "that this would be a time where people both see and hear God's love. Ask God to use the Boxes of Love to meet the physical needs of those in the depressed area of our city and that large numbers of people would come to Christ and get plugged into local churches."

If you want to know more, visit

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Great Trip to Phoenix, AZ

We just returned from a 9-day trip to Phoenix, to visit my DH's family. We had a fantastic time!

We saw Uncle Jared in the Flagstaff Fire Dept clown show.
We ate veggie sandwiches at Crystal Creek (my favorite sandwich shop!)
We made pancakes and waffles several times
We went to the Wildlife World Zoo with friends - really fun!
We visited with family at 2 Thanksgiving gatherings (recipes to come later!)
We took walks and played basketball and built airports in the desert sand.
We hung Christmas lights (beautiful LED lights from Sams Club)
We went on a date with friends (an in house date with yummy tea and quiet conversation)
We met 2 new babies in the family (great snuggles and hugs)
We ate lots of Gramma's yummy food and homemade ice cream.
We read several great books.
We celebrated my eldest son's 7th birthday.
We had 2 easy four-hour flights - praise God!

We are so blessed by our loving families, and grateful for the opportunity to spend time with them. We are very THANKFUL!