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!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Map Puzzle Game

We created a new map game today, and I thought you might like to try it to.  Get a map of the USA (or any country, for that matter).  Take turns giving each other clues to guess which state you are describing.

For example, my 8-year old gave the clue NAORI.
The answer?
Nevada, Arkansas, Oregon, and Rhode Island

My 11-year old gave the clue: GVURF
The answer?
Georgia, Vermont, Utah, Kansas, and Florida

My daughter challenged her brother to find her initials (AKS) twice on the map.
The answer?
Kansas and Arkansas

Finally, we asked our son Daniel to find his name in one of the states.
The answer?
Rhode Island

The 5 kids had a blast playing for 30 minutes!

Have fun learning,


Monday, April 29, 2013

Fitness for Moms - Is it Really Possible?

My goal is to do something active everyday – playing soccer with my four-year old Daniel, walking around the block, gardening, or dancing with my 14-month old Brendan. Here are some of the secrets that have helped me stick to a routine.

My favorite is to put the kids in the YMCA nursery for some mommy time & concentrated fitness time. We have a Cardio Social Cinema (a big screen where they play movies - it's surrounded by all sorts of cardio machines), spin class or the circuit center (like 'Curves') . After 30 minutes of cardio, I do a simple weights routine of squats, lunges, straight arm raises, tricep drops, and sit-ups. It seems to work best to go at 8:30am - before I find excuses to stay home!

Building Relationships with ExerciseI will use any excuse to be active while interacting with others. Partly because I'm terrible at sitting still (a bit ADD), but partly because time is so crunched! I walk while networking with clients. I schedule walking dates with old & new friends. We take family walks after dinner. Good workout buddies definitely help keep me accountable!

Great Nashville walking spots with strollers/big wheels/bikesRadnor Lake (free on Wednesdays)
Crockett Park
Centennial Park
Shelby Park
Granny White Park

Keeping the kids happy in the strollerBreakfast/snacks
Sing songs or play games (I spy, think of a word that starts with "T"...)
Walk to kids place (a playground, to see Ellington Agricultural Center's horses, the zoo...)

A lot of mom's feel guilty about taking time away from the kids, but you shouldn't! Modeling a lifestyle of fitness teaches kids to be healthy. If I take mommy time, I’m a better mommy. Exercising keeps my heart healthy, so I can live a long life with the people I love.

Other favorite fitness secrets**Mommies in Motion - a fee-based fitness time where moms meet in the park and exercise with their strollers!
**Check out workout DVDs from the library (Better yet, put your favorite DVD on hold!)
**Wake up a little bit early, and go for a neighborhood walk while your husband is getting ready for work.
I'd love to hear your fitness secrets!

PS - I write this article 7 years ago, but I wanted to share it with you again, because it's so important.  I know that I'm a better wife and mother when I am exercising regularly, and I bet you are the same way.  It does get a little easier when the kids get older.  You can play basketball or soccer together, hike together, and sometimes even bike together.  I often run while they kids bike with me.  I'll walk/run around the fields when they are at soccer practice.  We do running club after school together.  But it takes being intentional with your time!

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Book Review: afloat by Erin Healy

Erin Healy's newest book, afloat is a page turner full of suspense and intrigue.  The novel has very strong character development - I felt like I could see into the heart of Healy's characters.  It has a very imaginative storyline - I fully enjoyed the design and wonder of the floating development.  I appreciated the powerful struggles of hope vs. despair, love vs. selfishness, forgiveness v. bitterness, and faith vs. self-reliance.  I look forward to reading more of Healy's novels.  I would recommend this book for male and female readers age 17 and older.  And it would be great for  book club because it has thought-provoking discussion questions at the end.

Disclosure:  I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Giveaways related to the Christian Parenting Handbook!!

Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller are offering several giveaways during the launch of their new book, The Christian Parenting Handbook: 50 Heart-Based Strategies for All the Stages of Your Child's Life.  I'm excited to get to giveaway 5 of their products this week!!  So five of my readers will win a prize this week!

To enter the random drawing for the prizes, use the Raflecopter form below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget the Special Offers for purchases made between April 29 and May 5:  Buy The Christian Parenting Handbook and get a package with $400 worth of free resources!  Purchase 5 or more copies of the book, and you will get The Christian Parenting Handbook Companion Guide (a workbook with audio clips) and the audio package.  To  claim your premium, simply email your purchase confirmation to and the authors will send you your gifts.

Update:  the book has already sold out at most retailers.  The publisher is offering a 25% discount off the paperback book here.  You can still buy the eBook from your favorite online bookseller.

Good luck!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Summertime Projects to Promote Family Learning and Bonding

With all of the sunshine, fresh air, and free time, summer is the best season to get outside with your family to work on creative crafts and projects.  From learning about birds to homemade ice cream that will help to cool you down on hot summer days, these crafts will help your family have an amazing and educational summer.

Project #1 - Found Arts

All of the leisurely strolls and hikes your family takes in the summer can be used for a giant art project.  First, identify something your children are passionate about.  For example, a cartoon character, superhero, or even something like the summer night’s sky would all be great choices.  Recreating these characters or scenes with found natural objects can become a summer long project for your children.  To start, they should make an outline of what they want their project to look like.  To make the project even bigger and better, they can plan on creating a giant piece in your backyard. 

To gather the materials, take your kids hiking or walking in a park for a couple of miles each day.  As they explore nature, they can pick up interesting natural objects, like colored rocks, uniquely shaped pieces of bark, shiny bits of mica, and even snake skins.  Then, when they bring their collection home after each walk, they can find ways to incorporate the items into their art project.  Soon your kids may start getting excited to go for their walk so they can find a branch that is perfect for their creation’s hand, or so they can collect dandelion fluff to use for hair.  As their projects take off, they will not only be learning about nature, they will also be getting daily exercise and thinking in a creative manner.  Because their project will be laid out in the backyard, make sure to get some pictures of it before it gets raked up in the fall.  A fun idea can be to take a photo of your kid dressed up to match their project.  For example, if they made an image of Superman, they can wear Superman pajamas and pose next to their creation in the photo.


This post was written by Ryan who enjoys finding new craft ideas, hiking, and teaching his nieces and nephews more about nature.



Monday, April 22, 2013

Book Review & Free Resources: The Christian Parenting Handbook

I just finished reading The Christian Parenting Handbook: 50 Heart-Based Strategies for All the Stages of Your Child's Life, by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, co-founders of the National Center for Biblical Parenting.  
It's a comprehensive tool for parents of children ages 2-18, with strategies for a heart-based approach to parenting. As the authors say, "Instead of relying on rewards, incentives, threats, and punishment, you'll learn how to identify heart lessons to teach your child and implement them in practical ways."
It is full of practical ideas, great stories, and applicable illustrations for the 50 principles they discussed, such as dealing with emotions, conflict, building strong relationships, correcting, instructing and sett limits.

It's a great resource for parents to read straight through, or to pick up as a reference for specific behavior struggles, or to read as a parenting devotional (absorbing 1 chapter each night).
There is no 'school' for Christian parenting, but if there was, this would be one of the primary textbooks!
Don't buy it yet, because there is a Special Offer for purchases made between April 29 and May 5: 
  • Buy The Christian Parenting Handbook and get a package with $400 worth of free resources! 
  • If you purchase 5 or more copies of the book, you will get The Christian Parenting Handbook Companion Guide (a workbook with audio clips) and the audio package.
To  claim your premium, simply email your purchase confirmation from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, BAM (Books A Million), CBD or Parable to and the authors will send you your gifts.

I'll be hosting 3 giveaways related to this book over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!



Friday, April 19, 2013

I love Avocados - and Super Easy Guacamole

My friend Mary is a California girl, so she grew up surrounded by avocados.  I grew up in east TN, and had never had an avocado 'til college.  I now love them - especially when they are on sale at Aldi's!  Two favorite ways to eat them:

Sliced avocado & tomato on toasted cheese bread.

In guacamole - Mary taught me to make quick & easy guac by adding a few teaspoons of pace salsa into chunked avocados.  Yum!  That was lunch today.  :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dinner Tonight: Fish Tacos with Chipotle-Lime Slaw

Fish sticks

10 Corn tortillas



3 cups broccoli slaw (or whatever cabbage mix you prefer)

1 bunch  chopped fresh cilantro

2-3 T mayonnaise

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1-2 teaspoons chipotle pepper sauce

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Slap Your Mama Seasoning (optional, for those that like more zap)


In a large bowl combine the slaw ingredients and toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the wraps.


Warm the tortillas over direct high heat for about 1 minute, turning once. To assemble the wraps, put 2 small fish sticks in the middle of a warmed tortilla, then top with some of the slaw. Sprinkle with Slap Your Mama seasoning, if desired.  Fold in half like a taco. Serve warm or at room temperature.  Serve with black beans and rice.


Makes 10 small wraps

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Book Review: Revealing Jesus: A 365-Day Devotional by worship leader Darlene Zschech

From the Back Cover:  “Do you long for more of God's presence? Do you ache to see Him at work in your life? Do you desire His peace and rest? Renowned worship leader Darlene Zschech invites you to gather with her around the Word of God. Born out of her own yearnings that she poured onto the pages of journals, these meditations and Scriptures reveal Jesus and speak of His finished work--how He tenderly cares for you and wants you to know Him.  Honest, raw, and beautifully written, these devotions will inspire your journey and encourage you in every season. Come, sit at the feet of our Lord, be strengthened in your weakness, embrace His love for you, and breathe in His peace.”

I have enjoyed reading the devotional this month.  It has lots of great scriptures with fresh insights to challenge the heart and mind.  You can hear Darlene’s passion and love for Christ as she writes.  She is humble, powerful and challenging with her concise words.

The book is visually appealing and easy to read.

I would recommend this book for any woman who wants to grow in her walk with Christ. 

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest comments and opinions.

Book Review - Intentional Parenting: Autopilot Is for Planes

By Sissy Goff, David Thomas, and Melissa Trevathan

Crisp and fresh advice from this team of counselors that are very in tune with the needs of modern families.  They share great stories that readers will relate to, and use the stories to teach principles for purposeful parenting.  They ask powerful questions to help parents consider their strengths and weaknesses in parenting. 

They challenge parents to intentionally be:

The grown-up

Each chapter explore these characteristics, as well as providing questions and activities to help parents grow to be more intentional.
It’s a great book! I definitely recommend it to parents who want to learn and grow!

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest comments and opinions.

Book Review - Angelguard Trilogy #1 by Ian Acheson

I loved reading Frank Peretti’s books when they came out many years ago, so I was excited to read this book, which was said to be of the same spirit.  When it came in the mail, though, I was hesitant to read it.  The cover was dark and disturbing, so it took me awhile to start reading.  (I was also, however, engaged in reading several other books at the time.)

I finally decided not to look at the cover, and started reading.  It’s a very good story with suspense, relationships, emotions, and drama.  It’s a good picture of what I believe spiritual warfare is like.  Acheson tells his story through the eyes of the main human characters, as well as the angels and demons living in and among the characters’ lives.  It’s a very good reminder of the importance of prayer, as the power source of God working in our lives.  It’s a very good reminder of the very real presence of evil and Light around us everyday.  This story will stick with you, and challenge you to be more aware of spiritual things happening around you.

It’s a good read for men and women age 18 and older. 

Wanna learn more about the author?

Wanna see the book trailer?

Disclaimer:  I received this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Do you have a Parenting Plan?

From Guest Contributor Jonathan Blayney
children's pastor at 24 Church in Pleasant View, TN
father of one beautiful daughter, with child #2 on the way

Most of the believers I know have a strong desire to raise their children to be godly; to be passionate followers of Christ. With the birth of my daughter Ashlynn, I wanted to revisit a plan for fathering that God inspired me to ponder many years ago, before even having a child. Though at the time I didn’t put this on paper, over the years I have begun to write it down in an effort to encourage other parents to have a plan for their parenting in the area of spiritual development.  

This is an outline of my specific plan for spiritual development of a child. You will need to alter your plan to fit your own goals, life situations, and the individualities of your children.

Here are 10 suggestions for raising godly children:

Realize that raising godly children does not usually happen by accident. It will require proper planning and implementation.

Know what you want your child to look like as an adult. Ultimately we want them to be like Christ, so He became the primary model. Write out some of the Christlike characteristics that you want your children to live out.

Define what it means to be a Christ follower. For me that definition is one who knows what God requires of them and is willing to do whatever it takes to meet that requirement.

Strive to live like Christ personally. I am learning early in parenting that children will, in many ways, be a copycat of their parents. They must see us willing to live out our own definition of who a Christ follower is and being willing to walk by faith.

Determine basic principles of spiritual growth that you want each child to learn. For me those are:
- How to hear from God.
- What it means to be a student of God’s Word.
- The act of surrendering to God’s will.
Find practical teachings from God’s Word. Start by looking at the characters of the Bible and how their lives represented Christ, how they hear from and obey God, and also how sometimes they will fail. Reading through Proverbs and Ecclesiastes also helps implant wisdom in them.

Individualize teaching time for the child. We do not have to do the typical Bible study setting; although that may seem like the easy way. We should look for teachable moments with our children; for one child that maybe while pitching a baseball together and for the other it may be while kicking a soccer ball. Reading books together can also stimulate gospel conversations. Mealtimes can be a natural opportunity to talk about things of God. Bedtime is another opportunity time for teaching. It is amazing what children will do to delay bedtime, but if the discussion is productive I always feel their character development is most important.

Be purposeful to talk about the specific character traits you want your child to have. You can decide each year what is most important for each child to learn that year. We should intentionally bring up character topics, such as honesty or how to treat others and discuss it with them during teaching moments when we have their full attention.

Be willing to grow in your own learning of who Christ is. Over the years, my understanding of who Christ is and how He relates to us and the world around us has continually grown. We have to allow our children to walk through those changes with us. We cannot be afraid to let them know we don’t have answers or that we were wrong. Search for answers together in the Bible, or seek godly counsel together.

Pray and trust Christ. I know plenty of examples where parents did everything I have suggested, yet they haven’t experienced the same results. I know that only God’s grace can really build godliness and every child has the ability to resist that grace. Pray, pray again, and ask others to pray with you for the spiritual development of your family.

Embrace your as your child’s primary influencer and spiritual leader. I know it is one of my responsibilities as a father to see that this plan is implemented. I am thankful for a supporting wife who has worked with me to balance my role with her more nurturing role (which she is excellent at completing). So far our daughter is following after God’s heart in her own way.

Do you have a plan for your parenting?

Carve out some time to pray, ponder, and plan your parenting strategies. If you need help, ask a parent you admire for counsel, or call a pastor to help you. It will take time and discipline to write and carry out your plan, but eternal matters are at hand. The results will be worth it!

I would like to hear your suggestions or thoughts.

Fellow Parent, Jonathan

Monday, April 01, 2013

Charity Scavenger Hunt

If you are looking for a creative way to involve your kids in a food drive, consider hosting a charity scavenger hunt, like the one below, with friends.  Teams of children visit friends' houses in search of the items on their list, and they score points for the items they collect.  The team with the most points wins a small prize, but the real prize goes to the food bank which will receive donations from the proud children.


Charity Scavenger Hunt

Collecting food for local children & families


Delivering emergency food boxes to hungry people in Cheatham County


Item Needed
# Collected
Total points
Canned fruit
Canned soup
Canned vegetables
Pasta noodles
Saltine crackers
Mac & cheese
Dried beans
Canned tuna/meat
Peanut Butter
Total Points


Sponsored by 24 Church and the Pleasant View Kids Care Club