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, February 29, 2012

Parenting with Scripture - Filling Children's Minds with God's Truth

Have you read Parenting With Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments by Kara G. Durbin .  It's power-packed with great scriptures and application ideas for your family.  I started using this book when my kids were 3ish, and I'm still using it with my oldest child who is 10.

This week, I decided to start putting a scripture on our chalkboard each week.  I think we'll use it as our focus verse - trying to memorize it and put it into action each day.  This week is a 1 Thessalonians verse about 'no paybacks' and 'being kind'.   We'll need a lot of practice on this one...

It's $11 on amazon, and you will definitely get double that amount of wisdom out of this little book!

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cabin Fever? Staycation? We've got you covered!

My friend Susan just wrote this article for ParentFurther, a national organization dedicated to empowering parents:

How do you respond when your kid complains about being bored or having NOTHING to do? When the sun is shining, and it’s warm out, it’s easy to say, “Go outside and play.” But during the unpredictable months of winter and spring, it’s tempting to spend money on rainy day entertainment or expensive vacations to beat the winter blues. Here’s a word to wise (and budget-minded parents): keep a few of the following creative activity ideas in your back pocket. Pull them out on a rainy day, during your upcoming spring break “staycation”, or when cabin fever starts to set in. Your kids (and your wallet) will both benefit from the quality time spent together and the money saved in the long run.

Read the full article here:

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lent 2012 - 40 Days of Beautiful Reflections

The Lenten season starts Wednesday 2/22/12.  Instead of giving something up for Lent, you might consider a commtiment to find quiet space each day to reflect on God's goodness, mightiness and love.  Check out this 40-day reading that my talented friend Emily Huff has written.  Each day has 2 pages of quotes and scriptures.  It's only $5 to get your own paperback copy to keep at your bedside or near your favorite chair.  Here's the intro to the book:

This collection of quotes that I have gathered over the last year is called “FORTY3”
because it is the third one of these that I have compiled and it is meant to be read over
a period of 40 days. These quotes are from some of the books, websites or blogs I have
been reading this year, and they reflect some of the truths that I want to sink deeper
into my heart. As one friend put it, these are like literary “speed bumps” that I hope
will help me slow down each day.

Eugene Peterson writes, “forty is a stock biblical word that has hope at its core. Forty
days is a period of testing the reality of one’s life—examining it for truth and for
authenticity. The forty days in Noah’s ark was used to cleanse centuries of moral
pollution. The forty years in the wilderness was used to train the Israelites to live by
faith in the promises of God. The forty days of Jesus’ temptation was used to explore
his calling and test his commitment. The forty days of Jesus’ appearances after his
death was used to verify his resurrection and characterize the new life of God’s
kingdom. In each case, the number forty works eschatologically: The last day, the
fortieth day, shapes the content of the preceding thirty-nine days. Each of the thirtynine
days experiences eschatological pressure- the days become a womb, pregnant
with new beginnings. If the span of forty days does its proper work, life begins in a
new way. (Conversations; The Message with its Translator, page 1416-1417)

As I shared in the last two compilations:
The number 40 holds particular significance in the Bible and refers to a precise
number, not just a long period of time…. A 40-something time period, whether days,
months, or years is ALWAYS a period of testing, trial, probation, or chastisement (but
not judgment) and ends with a period of restoration, revival or renewal. Thankfully,
God is consistent, so the meaning of a number in Genesis remains the same all the
way to the book of Revelation. Sometimes the spiritual significance is not revealed
directly, but in the case of "40" and its many examples throughout the Bible, we can
be certain of its importance and significance. (from

One other reason that I wanted to call this collection “40” is because Psalm 40 speaks
to me in this season of life for many reasons. U2 has put it to music in their classic
I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry.
He brought me right out of the pit,
out of my miry clay.
I will sing a new song,
How long to sing this song?
He set my feet upon a rock,
and made my footsteps heard.
Many will see,
Many will see and fear.
I will sing, sing a new song.
How long to sing this song?

So whatever season you are in, may these words bring you restoration, revival and
renewal. May God’s love be more real to you as you soak these words up over the
next 40 days. As the picture on the cover says, may this be a time in which you make
space to be listening for hope.

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Book Review: A Darkly Hidden Truth

I just finished reading a good historical fiction novel that is full of Catholic history and English culture:  A Darkly Hidden Truth (The Monastery Murders) by Donna Fletcher Crow.  It’s a suspense novel with many twist and turns.  The characters are well-developed and the stories rich with the blessings and struggles in friendship, marriage, family and community.  I appreciated reading about the main character’s struggle to determine her life calling in vocation and marriage.  I loved reading the wisdom from saints of long ago.  And I was inspired by the Catholic liturgy and rituals.  It paints a picture of life inside of a monastery – from the beauty to the visions to the practices and missions.  It is somewhat reminiscent of The DaVinchi Code.  t’s not always a fast-paced mystery thriller, but if you want to explore history while reading, you’ll enjoy this book.  It could also be a good homeschool reading for history and religion.  Happy reading!
Disclosure:  I was given a copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review of the book.

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

It's Raining! It's Snowing! Cabin Fever Busters for Families

I just wrote these fun ideas for ParentFurther, a national organization dedicated to empowering parents, and I thought you might like to see it, as well as their many other great resources.
When cabin fever starts to kick in, it’s time to get creative! Here are some fun ways to make indoor memories with your family when it’s cold outside. Get tips > 

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Book Review: Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie

I just read an advanced copy of the new children’s book Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie, by Laurie Jacobs and Anne Jewett, with my daughter.  It’s about two little girls who love it when Grandma Tillie comes to visit.  Though Grandma claims to enjoy simply knitting, she’s actually quite the entertainer.  She might transform into Tillie Vanilly with the bright pink hair, Chef Silly Tillie with the lampshade hat, or Madame Frilly Tillie with the sparkly eyeglasses and towel turban.
The text and characters easily lead the reader to use silly voices to match Gramma’s characters.  My 5-year old daughter especially liked the silliness, like when Tillie Vanilly sang the congo to dance to the kitchen.  She wouldn’t want to dip pickles into her chocolate milk, she thinks it would be gross!
The book is sure to spark your creativity, and inspire you in your own silly and loving ways.  You can pick up your own copy from your favorite bookseller in March 2012.  (Hint - it would be a fun Mother's Day gift for Grandma's in your life!)


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Establishing a Family Service Night - from Passionate Homemaking

Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking just wrote a post on establishing a family service night.  You'll love her simple and inspiring ideas that even your little tykes can help with!

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Book Review: Straight to the Heart Study on Acts

I’ve been totally enjoying the reading of the Acts Bible Study from the Straight to the Heart series by Phil Moore.  There are 60 “bite size readings”, with each being 5-10 minutes long. The writing is bold, unique and filled with scripture.  I really enjoy reading the background of the scripture passages, as well as the practical applications he includes in each reading.  I’ve found myself taking notes and thinking of quotes to share via facebook, twitter and email.   The readings are empowering and inspirational – designed to reawaken believers to the power of Christ yearning to work through us in our daily lives.
Here is how Phil introduces the book of Acts:  In 30AD, Jesus of Nazareth looked to have been an utter failure. If you don’t understand that, then you will miss the message of the book of Acts. It is a record of survival through adversity, triumph against all odds, and victory snatched from the jaws of defeat. It is the story of a group of ordinary people who turned the tide of history through the power of their extraordinary God.  His theme is that Acts wasn’t just written as a tale of the early church, but as a challenge for churches today.

Click here to see all the titles in this series, and download preview pages from the books.
I would highly recommend this as a devotional, a Bible study help, or just something to read.  It would also work for a group Bible study or small group, with members reading the entire chapter of scripture during the week, and one teacher leading the group through Phil’s text.  It’s for men, women or mature teens.  I look forward to checking out the other books in the series!

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Thursday, February 09, 2012

Children's Books during Valentine’s Season

Here's a list of children's picture books that promote friendship and love. I have not read all of them, but they look super cute. If you have a favorite book to share, you can leave it in the comments section - I'd love to learn from you!

A Valentine for Ms. Vanilla by Fred Ehrlich
Clifford's Valentine's Day by Norman Bridwell
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
How Do I Love You? by Marion Dane Bauer
I Like You by Sandol Stoddard
I Love You the Purplest by Barbara M. Joosse
If You'll Be My Valentine by Cynthia Rylant
Love Bugs by David A. Carter
Love by Lowell A. Siff
Love, Splat by Rob Scotten
Nate the Great and the Mushy Valentine by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
Queen of Hearts by Mary Engelbreit
Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli
The Best Thing About Valentines by Eleanor Hudson
The Day it Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
The Night Before Valentine's Day by Natasha Wing
The Story of Valentine's Day by Nancy Skarmeas
The Velveteen Rabbit by Marjorie Williams
The Very Special Valentine by Maggie Kneen
Today is Valentine's Day by P. K. Hallinan
Valentine Hearts : Holiday Poetry by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Valentine School Parties by Wilhelminia Ripple
Valentine's Day by Anne and Lizzy Rockwell
Valentine's Day Is by Gail Gibbons
Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! Mr. Valentine by Mara Conlon
You and Me by Martine Kindermans
You Are My I Love You by Maryann Cusimano

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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Book Review: Sweeter Than Birdsong (Historical Fiction)

I love historical fiction, so I thoroughly enjoyed reading Sweeter Than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliott.  I found myself picking up the book in every spare moment I could find.  Set in Ohio in 1855, it is the story of young Kate Winter’s journey in love, character and self awareness.   
It has educational themes such as women’s rights and women’s education, as Kate pursues her education as the first female graduate of her college. It’s full of the tensions of slavery just before the Civil War, as Kate stumbles upon the opportunity to help slaves escape slavery on the Underground Railway. It gives readers a clear understanding of some of the struggles slaves faced with their physical, spiritual and emotional well-being.
It’s a coming of age story, as the characters learn about their personalities and their passions, and discover ways to make their mark on their communities – whether through writing music, leading musicals, teaching, giving speeches, or just speaking out against wrongdoings.
It has many character struggles, including honesty, faith, responsibility, loyalty, forgiveness, ambition, wealth, and humor.  It also explores the friendship and love through relationships in marriage, courting, student groups, siblings, neighborhood, and service.
I especially enjoyed reading the last chapter, in which Elliott reveals the elements of truth woven throughout the novel.
It’s a great book for teens and adults.  If you enjoy historical fiction, you will not be disappointed.  I look forward to reading more of Elliott’s books.
I was given a free copy of this book through the BookSneeze program, in exchange for my honest review of the book.


26 Ideas For Lego Storage Containers

My two boys LOVE legos, so they naturally end up scattering lego creations and random lego pieces throughout the house.  Last weekend, we converted their closet to be a LEGO WORLD.  Now they can store lego (and knex) pieces in their lego world, they have instructions for all of their kits in a ziplock bag, and they have a place to display their favorite ships.  And I have a mostly lego-free kitchen and living room!!

I just stumbled upon a great article with ideas for storing legos, if you have similar struggles in your house!  Check this out:  26 Ideas For Lego Storage Containers

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