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, September 29, 2013

Book Review: Blessed Child by Ted Dekker and Bill Bright

I've heard Dekker's name for years, but Blessed Child is the first book I've read by him.  His fans are right - he is a very good author.  His writing had me sitting on the edge of my chair in anticipation and hope.  I especially enjoyed the adventure scenes and the many scripts on the character's self discovery.  I enjoyed pondering God's great and mysterious power, and the way that he can use his followers to make himself famous. I like how Dekker and Bright used a fiction story to talk about the power of good and evil, how easily we are tainted by evil, and how quickly God can redeem us as we repent of sin.  I love the reminders of how much we change when we submit to God's leading in our lives.  I love the conversations about healing - and how healing of our hearts is even more amazing than healing of our bodies.  Readers will be challenged and inspired as they read this book.  I would recommend it to male and female readers ages 12+.  I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Birthay - Afro Circus Style

My youngest child turned 7 this week, and she wanted to celebrate her birthday in afro circus style. She invited a few close friends to come over and we had the most fantastic time together. We picked several animal faces for face painting, and my sister, an amazing artist, came to help paint faces. While we were painting, the girls had paper plates that they decorated to look like circus animals. They were so cute!

When everyone had an animal face painted, we headed outside to play animal games. We played a version of charades where the girls picked out an animal cracker and had to act out that animal with no words or sounds for their friends to guess. We played bunny hop where the girls worked with a partner to hold a balloon without using their hands and hop together to the finish line.

But the funniest game was chubby bunny. The girls and grownups had to stuff marshmallows in their mouths one at a time and say “chubby bunny”. The goal was to get the most marshmallows in your mouth and still be able to speak clearly. We laughed so hard!

We enjoyed cake and presents, then started our afro circus dance party! My boys had made a playlist for the dance party so they picked out songs that were age appropriate and fun to dance to. We had found a disco ball at a consignment store so we set it up in the living room, to liven up the dance floor. The girls danced and danced. We would say freeze - act like a giraffe, or dance like a monkey, or dance in a line around the house. It was so much fun!

Happy birthday little girl you are a treasure!

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tips and Tricks for Practicing Spelling Words

My middle son does not like to study his spelling words. Unfortunately spelling is not a natural gift of his. We've been looking for creative alternative to practicing spelling words. I wanted to share three with you.

The first is technology oriented. It's a website called spelling city. They teach spelling words for their readers through games, flash cards, and other activities. It's free, and the kids really liked it.

When we study together we found two strategies that are working well for us this fall. The first is tandem spelling, where we take each spelling word and spell it together going back and forth. For example if we were selling the work truck I would say to my son “T”, he would add “R”, and eventually we would finish with the letter K. It takes some of the pressure off spelling perfectly, yet still lets children practice.

 The third tool that has been working well for us this fall is spelling hangman. My son creates a hangman board and I try to guess the spelling word. I get to look at the spelling list so it’s not incredibly time consuming for me, but it's fun for him to try to trick his mom. And when I guess a word correctly, he has to complete the word in writing. He gets the visual reinforcement of seeing the word as well as he gets to write the word.

We'll see if these strategies continue to work, and if we see his spelling grades improve. Meanwhile I would love to hear your tricks and tips  for practicing spelling words!

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book Review: Jody Hedlund’s "Rebellious Heart"

I just finished reading Jody Hedlund’s newest book, Rebellious Heart.
The historical fiction book is set in Massachusetts in 1763.  It has several plotlines that are woven together.  I particularly enjoyed the various inequities and injustices that Hedlund discussed:  the illegal smuggling of goods into the town that was under jurisdiction f the king, the injustices and abuses of indentured servitude, and the gender inequality in education.  I also enjoyed the more emotional storylines with the character’s relationships – courting, engagements, marriages, parent/child relationships, community alliances…  I appreciated Helund’s subtle challenges to her readers:
·         God’s mission for you will not necessarily be easy, but you are stronger than you think you are.  It’s often painful to correct injustices and create social change. 
·         Be courageous and do what’s right.  The government is an important authority figure, but if they are not doing what is ethical, than people must take a stand to do what’s right.
·         Don’t marry for money or personal gain.  Marry for love.
Hedlund does a great job packing so many historical elements into a beautifully written novel.  I loved every minute of reading it, and it was hard to turn the lights off to go to bed several nights!
This is the 2nd Hedlund book I’ve read, and I enjoyed this one as much as the first.  I recommend this to any woman age 17+.  
I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Book Review: Melissa Tagg’s Made to Last

Don't be fooled by the cover of Made to Last - the pages are full of thoughtful messages wrapped in the context of a light-hearted romantic comedy.  Melissa Tagg uses her characters to deal with messages of love, betrayal, friendship, family, forgiveness, trust, identity, and faith.  But I also found myself laughing out loud and tearing up over the storyline. 

The publisher describes the book like this:  Miranda Woodruff has it all. At least, that's how it looks when she's starring in her homebuilding television show, From the Ground Up. So when her network begins to talk about making cuts, she'll do anything to boost ratings and save her show--even if it means pretending to be married to a man who's definitely not the fiance who ran out on her three years ago.  When a handsome reporter starts shadowing Miranda's every move, all his digging into her personal life brings him a little too close to the truth--and to her. Can the girl whose entire identity is wrapped up in her on-screen persona finally find the nerve to set the record straight? And if she does, will the life she's built come crashing down just as she's found a love to last?
It only took a few days to read the book, because I found myself searching for quiet moments to read.  I would suggest the book to any female age 15+.  It's clean and surprising thought-provoking. Read it with a friend and take time to discuss lessons from the book.  Or read it with a journal, and ponder what you could learn from Miranda and her friends.

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

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Book Reiew: Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden

I love historical fiction novels - especially if they have a spiritual undertone.  Into the Whirlwind was captivating.  I loved reading about the emotional, physical and spiritual ramifications of the Chicago fire.  I loved reading about a woman business owner in the 1870s.  I loved reading about the minute details of watch-making and clock-making.  I loved reading the wisdom of a woman wrestling to understand the passions and longings of her heart.  I loved reading about characters struggling to find their sense of purpose in life.  I loved reading about camaraderie and friendship in times of hardship.

Can you tell that I loved this book?  I couldn't put it down.  It went with me to soccer soccer practice and carpool lines.  I read while my hubby watched football and a movie.  I even woke up early to read one morning (definitely not a norm for me!)

It has romance, but it's very clean.  I would recommend this book to any female reader age 14+.  It would be a great novel for teens to read with a mentor or a mom, because there are so many great conversations that could stem from the book.

I can't wait to read more rom Elizabeth Camden!

I received this book as a gift from Bethany House, in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Book Review: The Hero's Lot by Patrick W Carr

I just finished reading "The Hero's Lot" by Patrick Carr.  I had high expectations, because I loved the first book in this series - "A Cast of Stones".  Honestly, I didn't feel like the sequel lived up to the first novel.  It didn't have the stellar character development that I enjoyed in the first book - I actually kept getting the characters confused.  I wasn't as drawn to the story as I was in the first book.  It was easier to put down than the first book.  I still enjoyed Carr's imagination and plot development, it just couldn't measure up to the first book.  It is still full of epic fantasy, spirituality, heroes, character, politics, and good vs. evil in a medieval setting.  Carr is a very good author, and I look forward to reading more of his works.

The publisher sent this book to me in exchange for my honest review.