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!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Treasures I've Been Waiting to Share with You

Here are favorite blog posts that I think you'll enjoy:

Sidewalk Chalk Activities from The Crafty Crow - we've been doing portraits and tracings

Fit Friday - Squeeze It In from Women Living Well Blog - very clever!

Encouraging Healthy Habits from MVParents

9 Unique Ideas for Frugal Date Nights from The Mother Load

Giant Cardboard Rocket Ship from The Crafty Crow - i'd LOVE to make this with my kids!

Teaching Children the 10 Commandments from Women Living Well Blog

10 Summertime Boredom Busters from Our Busy Family Life

Fun with Familiar Songs from Let's Explore

Games for Traveling in the Car With Kids from Women Living Well Blog

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Homemade Ice Cream - Peach!

One of my DH's clients brought him this recipe for peach ice cream. She copied it from Southern Living, telling us it was delicious. It's really yummy - and super easy - so I thought I'd share it with you. I'll be shopping for the ingredients to make it next week & I can't wait!

Peach Ice Cream (Southern Living)
4c canned peaches, drained
1c sugar
120z can evaporated milk
3.75oz package vanilla instant pudding mix
1 can condensed milk
1qt half-n-half.
rock salt

Combine peaches and sugar in a blender – mix ‘til smooth. Stir together evaporated milk and pudding mix. Combine rest of ingredients. Freeze in ice cream freezer with ice and rock salt.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Helping Children Face Trials

These were the first words I read when I rolled out of bed this morning, the chapter chosen after a Facebook friend talked about the book of James last night.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

I've read that passage a lot thinking about my own life and how I wrestle with trials. But I haven't really thought about it as a mom and as an educator.

When our children and loved ones face trials, we want to jump in and fix things. We don't want to let people face tests and trials. And we definitely don't want to let 'steadfastness have its full effect', allowing people to linger through the healing process.

Nope, we want to distract people from their pain. We want to soothe and numb people from the pain. We want to act on injustices to punish the paingivers. We want to help people run from the pain. We want to get angry with our loved ones about the pain. It's not that we're malicious, we just want people to feel better.

But I think that sometimes cuts short the lessons God wants to teach us. What if we showed compassion for others in their distress? Just being with them, sitting beside them, holding them, and listening with them? What if we didn't rush to fix things, but instead gave the gift of supportive presence? How would that allow God to work in our hearts, as well as the lives of our hurting loved ones?

Now I need to think more about what this enlightment will mean in my life. I'll still be quick to put bandaids on my children's ouchies - ouchies in mind, body and spirit. But I need to work on my heart's response. I need to work on true compassion.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Building Strong Character in Children

We all want our children to have strong character, but sometimes it's challenging to define just what we mean by strong character. CharacterCounts offers a great set of 6 character pillars to build in children. Here is their list with ideas, and you can find more info on their website.

Be honest • Don’t deceive, cheat or steal • Be reliable — do what you say you’ll do • Have the courage to do the right thing • Build a good reputation • Be loyal — stand by your family, friends and country

Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule • Be tolerant of differences • Use good manners, not bad language • Be considerate of the feelings of others • Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone • Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements

Do what you are supposed to do • Persevere: keep on trying! • Always do your best • Use self-control • Be self-disciplined • Think before you act — consider the consequences • Be accountable for your choices

Play by the rules • Take turns and share • Be open-minded; listen to others • Don’t take advantage of others • Don’t blame others carelessly

Be kind • Be compassionate and show you care • Express gratitude • Forgive others • Help people in need

Do your share to make your school and community better • Cooperate • Get involved in community affairs • Stay informed; vote • Be a good neighbor • Obey laws and rules • Respect authority • Protect the environment

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Candles or Darkness? You Have the Power to Make Change

“It's better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness” (Confucius)

It's so easy to complain. Think about the complaints you've made or heard today. Negative words about children, spouses, houses, weather, body image, colleagues, food...

Why are we so quick to complain? It rarely improves a situations, and often it propels negativity to make things worse than they were to begin with.

Instead of succombing to the temptation to complain, use that energy to start making a situation better. What is one small thing you can do to improve the situation?

  • If you're overwhelmed by housework, pick one room that you can make better today.
  • If it's noncommunicative teens that 'push your buttons', look for a way to find common ground with them.
  • If you're frustrated with your body image, get out and walk around the block with your kids.
  • If you are always complaining about not having quality time with your spouse, plan an at-home date this week.

You have the power to make your world a brighter place. Silence idle complaints & start lighting candles today!


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Safari Greg at our Local Library

Our library has an amazing calendar of Summer Reading Programs each year. Today they hosted Safari Greg from Urban Safari. He kept 100+ children (ages 6mo to 60 years) completely enrapt with his humor, his magic, and of course his animals.

You can see some of the children holding his 13ft banana python snake in the picture below. The close-up picture from his website gives you a better picture of the snake.
But he wasn't just showing animals to the kids, he was building the asset of commitment to learning with the attending families. He ignited their curiousity and engaged them in learning about the animals' diets, habitats, and physiques. He involved the children in the show, so they were 100% active learners.

It's not surprising to hear that a library is building the commitment to learning asset, because libraries are places that we learn. But the Children's Librarian goes to stellar efforts to inspire these kids to read. Each week, children keep a log of the books they read (or have read to them), documenting the book title and the # of pages. The two children who read the most pages get gift cards donated by local businesses - and they are nice gifts like a $25 to a child-friendly restaurant or a 4 tickets to a local riverboat cruise. And she also does a drawing to give gifts to children who come to storytime and parents who make the effort to get children there. Most of all, the children's program just reinforces the idea that reading is FUN!

Their summer theme is imagination, which is a direct link to the Constructive Use of Time Asset of Creative Activities. The whole storytime room is filled with imaginative artwork, so it's a delightful atmosphere.

Isn't great that asset-building can be so full of energy and so fun?

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mom's Best BBQ

This is the BBQ recipe mom makes when we go home. It's an easy dish to serve a lot of people. And because it's a crockpot meal, you can do the minimal preparation ahead of time.

5lb pork shoulder
1/2t cayenne pepper
1t ground pepper
1 1/8t garlic powder
1T onion powder
2T chili powder
2t salt
2c BBQ sauce
3c beef broth
12 hamburger buns

Rinse pork and pat dry.
Mix all dry ingredients together and rub into the pork.
Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2-12 hours.
Cook in crockpot on low for 10 hours.
Shred the pork (discard fat); then stir in BBQ Sauce and beef broth.
Cook two more hours then serve on buns.
For a southern twist, add cole slaw or tomatoes to the buns.

You can also put half the BBQ in the freezer to use later, or put some in tupperware to share with a friend.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Favorite Side Dish - Hot Corn

My mom often makes this hot corn dish to take to potluck dinners. It is always eaten completely and people always ask for the recipe. So I'm taking it to a baseball team celebration tonight - my DH & I can't wait to eat it!

Hot Corn

1 cup butter
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese (one regular, one low-fat)
1/2 cup milk
4 (15oz) cans corn, drained
12oz chiles, drained and diced
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

In a 9x13 inch pyrex dish combine corn and chiles.
Melt butter, cream cheese and milk in a saucepan on medium heat. Stir until smooth, then pour mixture over corn.
Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes.


Friday, July 10, 2009

A Pure Heart - Keeping God First in All Things

I like this article by John Piper. My DH & I read it during our devotional time last night. After you read it, take time to ponder the things that are idols, or pose the danger of becoming idols in your life.

Think about your home, your marriage, your children, your solitude, your books... All great things, but we must keep them in proper perspective.

Pray that God would keep your mind keenly alert to a spirit of idolatry in your life.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Box Parties Part 2

The boxes from last week's box party are still around, but they continue to change shapes.

The kids have asked me to cut more windows,
they've glued coloring pages & pictures to the outside,
they've colored wall paper on the inside walls,
and they've added blankets to make Star Wars ships.

They've been playing in/around the boxes for 2 hours this morning!

I love the creative play!!

Monday, July 06, 2009

50 photos for 50 cents

Pictures are a great way to celebrate family and record family memories. Especially when the pictures are PRACTICALLY FREE!
Enjoy 50 4" x 6" mail-order prints for only 1 cent each!
Visit and use the coupon code PENNY at checkout before July 10.*


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Box Parties

One mommy trying to fight the boredom on long summer days
a stack of big boxes on the side of a building
a little creativity
an afternoon of fun!

We set up 3 big boxes on our back patio this afternoon. My 4yr old pulled out the crayon box, so all 3 kiddos could go to town decorating the boxes. They drew the windows and I carefully cut them out with a box cutter. Then we connected the boxes with an old sheet. Voila - a great fort!

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