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!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Free Book at Barnes & Noble

Gramma & I took the kids to get their free books at Barnes & Noble today. With the BN Summer Reading Program, kids read 8 books, write the titles in their Summer Reading Journal, and write their favorite part of the book. Then take the Reading Journal to BN before 9/7/09 to redeem a free book from the Summer Reading bookshelf.

Download your Summer Reading Journal here.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

God's callings in our lives

I've always been fascinated and awed by the way God speaks to us, and guides us to do his work in the various aspects of our work and play and service. I like this devotional that a friend sent to me this morning.


From Compass Readings, 05-29-09

The following “marks of a call” are offered as templates to help discern whether or not our respective ministries are in fact activities to which God has called us. This list has been expanded from material developed by the Church of the Savior’s co-founder, Mary Cosby.

REMEMBER: These are only guidelines. God’s Spirit blows where it wills! Rarely will an individual call match all of these guidelines to the letter.

1. A call can be simply and clearly stated. Though it may be viewed in global terms it will be focused and manageable, e.g. “I believe God has called me to proclaim the Gospel through writing and performing songs,” or “I believe God has called me to care for families who are facing loss because of AIDS.”

2. It will have about it a sense of transcendence, mystery, and awe. It is more than just a good idea I have. When I ponder it, I have a sense of connection between God “in me” and God “out there,” a sense of being pulled closer to God as I do this work.

3. It will feel right. I will have a sense of destiny about this, a sense that I am meant for this work, made for this work. There will be a “yesness” about it.

4. It will persist. Though I may try to avoid it, it will keep popping up, until finally I must do it in order to have peace in myself.

5. It will bring joy – eventually, if not at first. It will be deeply satisfying, life-giving. As Elizabeth O’Connor says, “True vocation is that which makes us well when we are doing it even though we may not feel the joy.”

6. It will be costly. It is a “pearl of great value” which requires my total commitment, including a willingness to set aside other claims which may conflict with my call. I will need to trust that God will call others to complete what I am no longer called to do.

7. It will involve risk. What I am called to undertake may fail. But I am not called to be successful, only obedient and faithful in that to which I am called. And I am called to be faithful in what I believe to be my call, even though I may never have absolute confirmation that I have understood my call correctly!

8. It will call me to do the impossible – in human terms. I will seldom feel adequate to the task and like Moses, I will wonder, “Why me, God?” In so wondering, I will be led to rely on the grace and the power of God as the source of my strength.

9. It most likely will evolve and change over time. As I grow and develop “on the job”, God may refine my call. Call uses the gifts we bring, evokes new gifts from with us, and requires the gifts of others.

10. It may well come out of my woundedness, brokenness, and sorrow. W.H. Auden writes that “It is where we are wounded that God speaks to us.”

11. It will engage my deepest feeling. “To see visions or hear call without being faithful to one’s most ardent yearnings is utterly impossible” (Elizabeth O’Connor). It will be through my journey inward that the outward manifestation of call will become apparent.

12. It will stretch me and enable me to grow spiritually. If I find myself spiritually drained and diminished by my work, it is definitely not work to which I am called.

13. It will be counter-cultural, expressing kingdom values which will tend to conflict with the values and behaviors of the current social/ political/religious establishment. My calling may even expose me to ridicule and persecution.

14. It will contain within it an element of prophecy – a sense of, and an anticipation of, the promise of God’s kingdom that is coming. It will be about “Gospel living.”

15. It will be affirmed by at least one other person. Because God calls each of us in the context of a larger community of faith, this confirmation from the larger community is essential. But beware of others trying to determine for you what is your call. Other people can make mistakes based on their own enthusiastic but misguided desires.

16. It will involve some form of service to others and specifically to the poor, including persons who are economically, socially, and/or spiritually impoverished.

17. Call energizes, excites, and enlivens. Frederick Buechner writes, "Vocation is the place where your deep gladness meets the world's deep need."

So, are you on thread with God’s call to you? If not, what do you need to discern that call – and then to begin to move your feet in that direction?



Sunday, May 24, 2009

Phone #s At Your Fingertips

Numbers you might need when you're out and about - save in your phone address book:
Dentist (you never know when you might have an emergency)
Doctor (with a sick child, you don't want to stop and look for a ph#)
Pharmacy (so you can tell the doctor where to call in your prescription)
Pizza place
Your favorite takeout restaurants

Numbers you reference, but they change seasonally - save on a list in your planner:
Babysitters (I sort these by favorites, homeschool (available during the day), and referrals)
Teacher's phone #s
I also keep a few phone #s that I would need if I lost (yikes!) my phone

Numbers you need, but not frequently - in an address book or on a computer spreadsheet
Neighborhood association

Last Tip
Ask your cell phone store if they will print out a list of your phone #s that are saved in your phone. This is a LIFESAVER in case something happens to your phone! And with little tykes running around, you never know what might happen to your phone!

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Neighborhood Gatherings - Summer Party Ideas - part 2

Inexpensive Entertainment for Summer Parties

face painting
finger painting
guess how many jar (m&ms or peppermints)
play dough sculptures (homemade playdough)
sidewalk chalk competition
skateboard or bike ramp
Silly String Fights
water balloon toss
water balloon volleyball
hula hoop competition
bounce arounds (if families share the cost)

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Linky Love - Treasures This Week

I've been saving a lot of posts on google reader this week. Partly a sign of busyness with work and play, but mostly because I've stumbled upon some great events and articles that I thought you would enjoy:

Family Traditions: 10 Ideas To Get You Started from simple mom - you know how much i value family traditions :)
Creating Space for God from Joshua's House - this has been hugely on my heart this month.
Thrifty Thursday - Inexpensive Gift Ideas for Teachers from Women Living Well Blog - clever little gifts that appreciate thanks

Three posts from Faithful Provisions (can you tell that I like her posts?):
Regal Cinemas: Free Summer Movies - great free outings for hot summer days
Old Navy: $1 Flip Flops Saturday 5/23! - i lived in my one dollar old navy flip flops last year
Krispy Kreme: 1 Dozen Donuts for $0.99 on 5/23 - yum yum!!

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Neighborhood Gatherings - Summer Party Ideas

Free (or almost free) Entertainment for Parties

basketball shooting contests
charades stage
dance contest
four square
Kid's talent show
magic tricks
obstacle course
bicycle obstacle course
paper airplane flying competition
puppet theater (also make paper bag or sock puppets)
sack races
Slip and slide (homemade)
street hockey
three-legged races

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

National Backyard Games Week

National Backyard Games Week is May 18-25, 2009. I found some great articles with ideas to celebrate this fun week:

Outside Games for Toddlers - Celebrate National Backyard Games Week
Take it Outside! It's National Backyard Games Week
Philadelphia Family Entertainment Examiner: Celebrate National Backyard Games Week

You can also find 175 more games in our book, Great Group Games - and they're all zero prep ideas! If you use the "Going Deeper" questions at the end of each game, you'll also be 'playing with purpose' - using the games to build character, relationships, and leadership skills.

Whatever you decide to play, have fun being outside with family and friends - it's a great way to build family memories!!

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Neighborhood Gatherings - The Power of Getting People Together

You can greatly impact the people that live around you by taking time to gather them together.
  • People recognize faces, and they'll wave when passing by.
  • People learn one another's names, and they'll say hello.
  • People saying hello leads to a more friendly neighborhood.
  • People say hello, and they might ask for a cup of sugar when they need it at the last minute.
  • People that have a relationship are more likely to respect one another's property.
  • People that care about one another will watch out for one another and their children.
  • People that care about one another share resources with one another (wheelbarrows, flower bulbs, babysitting, tomatoes...)
  • People that know one another live in a safe neighborhood.
  • People that know one another might lead to people helping one another through tough times (new babies, sickness, grieving, death)
  • People that discover commonalities might start sharing life with one another.
  • People that converse with one another might have the opportunity to talk about Christ.
  • People that talk about Christ might discover or reignite a passion for Christ.
  • People that love Christ love others.
It's so easy to be friendly to your neighbors, and it's not hard to gather your neighbors together for a party or gathering. Recently I posted about How to Host a Neighborhood Party, so you can click the link to read strategies for hosting a neighborhood gathering.

This week, I'll be sharing simple and inexpensive ideas for summer get-togethers. And I'd love to hear YOUR favorite ideas!

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Treasures for You this Week

I have enjoyed this series on preschoolers from from Let's Explore. Here are some of her cool articles:
Emotions + Preschoolers
Problem Solving & Conflict Resolution
Listening and Following Directions
Initiative, Independence, & Responsibility

I always love to read the practical words and wisdom of Kelly Curtis, who writes about empowering youth: Positively Speaking - Be an Adult Role Model from Pass The Torch


Monday, May 11, 2009

Super Cute Tshirts for American Cancer Society - Fight Like a Girl

My DH got one of these shirts for me for Mother's Day. Thankfully, I haven't had breast cancer, but we have dear friends that have struggled. He also knows that I appreciate supporting philanthropic causes. They're super-cute, so I thought you might be interested in ordering one too! All proceeds benefits the American Cancer Society.

Update 10/09: they have sold out of the tshirts, but I'll repost info if they get more in stock.


Friday, May 08, 2009

Mommy Questions about Discipline

My strong-willed, albiet lovely, girl is getting the best (and worst) of me. She seems to like is not much of a deterent, and spanking causes her to hit me back. Do you have one or two favorite parenting books or DVDs you would recommend?

My response:

Oh, we've all been there!!

I definitely use time out and spanking, but I find that taking away privileges often works better for my kids. If they act out in the middle of playing a game, they lose the privilege of playing the game. If their favorite lunch treat is string cheese, but they throw food on the floor, they lose the privilege of string cheese. If they throw a fit about getting the legos out, then they won't be able to play legos until tomorrow. If they try to stand up in the stroller, they lose the privilege of riding without the straps. I try to take away privileges that are natural consequences, so it's an immediate impact.

When the kids are young, I also do a lot of redirecting behavior. If I sense that they're about to get in trouble, I try to redirect them to a positive choice. If I notice that their energy is getting out of control, I try to redirect them to a calmer or more focused activity. Sometimes they insist on the poor decision, and we have to discipline. But often they are easily swayed to do something else. That way I'm not always disciplining them!

Laura Armistead counseled me years ago to focus on 2-3 discipline issues at a time. Be willing to let other things slide a little bit, so you're not constantly correcting them, but really focus on respect, or first time obedience, or kindness, or whatever your child is struggling with. That tip has really helped my sanity at times!!

I'm also a big believer in praising good behavior - see notes here

Three of my favorite parenting books:
Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman (Based on Shepherding a Child's Heart) (my notes are here)
Creative Correction by Lisa Welchel
Parenting with Scripture (especially starting at age 3-4) by Kara Durbin (see my notes here)

Honestly, though, the biggest thing I've learned is to beg God for mercy, patience and wisdom. I know he gives me parenting trials so that I will depend on him. If I had easy children, I know I would be 100% autonomous, never leaning on God for guidance, strength or direction. But my struggles send me crawling on my knees to Christ, seeking his strength and love. I know it sounds trite, but God has taught me so much through the trials of parenting!!

Blessings to you!!

So, how would YOU answer Rhonda's question? What discipline strategies work best for your young children? What parenting books do you recommend?

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Modesty and Fashion

Connect with Kids just posted an encouraging article about modesty. They believe that teen fashions are trending toward a more modest style. They even give a few practical guidelines for talking with your daughter and her peers about modesty. They are not written from a Christian perspective, but it's good conservative advice. Such important lessons to discuss with girls!


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Activity Centers Part 5- Art Centers

I've been posting a series about Activity Centers this week. Today's focus is on the ART CENTERS that we often use in our home.

Hint - recycled materials are often the best for this dimension of play. The egg carton that you almost threw away can become the base for a child's homemade elephant; old birthday cards are great for cutting/pasting collages; and canisters are great for making a musical band. Teach your kids to be creative, and they'll find a use for everything. Yes, that's a little frightening, but you don't have to keep the new creations forever...

Dress up magnets
Coloring books
Markers crayons
Paint (watercolors, tempera or magic paint books)
Light brite
Decorate boxes
Make rubbings (with leaves or any bumpy surface)
Send cards
Make gift packages
Origami shapes
Paper airplanes (not traditional art, but great for young boys!)

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Activity Centers Part 4- Active Centers

Here are some of the stations my kids enjoy in the ACTIVE CENTERS.

Garage ball
Box bowling
Run up the stairs
Obstacle course
Run around the house
Crazy dancing
Follow the Leader
Bottle bowling (with 2liter bottles)
Fun-aerobics (we make up our own silly exercises)
Personal bests (how many sit-ups can you do? push-ups? jumping jacks?...)

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Treasures for You

Parenting: How to Get First Time Obedience from Women Living Well Blog - my 4yr old really likes the idea of this 'game'.

Barnes & Noble: Earn A Free Book (Summer Reading Program) from Faithful Provisions - my 7yr old is going to love this program!

Lots of Kids and Extra-Curriculars: A Guide To Managing It All from simple mom - I agree with the philosophy of one sport per season, but I'm nervous about entering the phase of parenting when I have more than one child in sports!

How to spend $32 a month from The Simple Wife - this helps put perspective on our finances and making giving a priority in our lives.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars from The Mother Load - I used to always make bar cookies, but I hadn't made them in years 'til I saw Amy's recipe. Yum yum!

Freezer Meals...Mexican style for Tasty Tuesday from Balancing Beauty and Bedlam - She shares some really fast & yummy-looking dinner recipes that she pulls from the freezer on busy nights.

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Activity Centers Part 3 - Imagination Centers

Here are some of the activities that we have in our IMAGINATION CENTER:

Farm animals in the barn
Little People Car garage with matchbox cars
Spy gear
Dress up
Train mat
Tea party
Tell stories
Lego star wars
Rescue heroes
Mr. Potatohead

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Activity Centers Part 2- Learning Centers

The activity centers can include whatever activities you have around your house/neighborhood/city, but here is a sampling of the activities within our LEARNING CENTER.

Dora ABC book
Wipe off books
ABC magnets
Letter Factory video
Talking Words Factory video
Leapfrog magnets
Dot to dot books
Organizing items (candy, snacks, colors, toys…)
Reading books
Books on tape
Computer games
Word World video
Lettery Factory game
Tic tac toe
Suduku animals
Science experiments
Making playdough

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