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, December 31, 2013

Family workout time

Mommy needs exercise, and the kids do too. We add some technology to make it more intriguing for the kids and workout together. Today we used the wii fitness coach game, so we did grapevine, sidesteps, kicks, lunges and sit ups together. how do you engage your kids in fitness activities when it's cold outside?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Book Review: Imagination Station #13: The Redcoats Are Coming!

Imagination Station #13: The Redcoats Are Coming!by Marianne Hering

I'm a big fan of the Imagination Station radio series: Adventures in Odyssey, so I jumped at the opportunity to review one of their books.

From the publisher:  The first of a three-book story arc about the American Revolution, The Redcoats Are Coming follows Patrick and Beth as they assist the revolutionaries by waking up the sleeping citizens of 1775 Concord before the Redcoats come. In this adventure, the cousins meet Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock. They help smuggle musket balls, sound the alarm that the Redcoats are coming, and deliver a secret message to Paul Revere. Along the way they learn that most of the revolutionaries leaned on God's direction and even pastors helped in the cause.  Learn More  ▶

It's a kid-friendly whimsical look at the time period just before Paul Revere's ride.  I loved getting a little bit deeper glimpse into the life of the revolutionaries and I always enjoy historical fiction.  It's an easy read that children will enjoy.  And it would be great to pair with history lessons in a home school setting or a Christian school.

I would recommend this book to boys and girls ages 7-10, and I look forward to giving it to my son for his 9th birthday in a few weeks.  I look forward, also, to reading more in the series.

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

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Kids Shopping at Christmas Time

We have a Christmas shopping tradition in our family, where the kids draw names and shop for each other.  We go to a bargain store like Dollar Tree, Dollar General or Walmart.  I give the kids a budget - usually $5-10.  We walk around the store together, considering our options and letting each child share what they like.  Then we split up and pick out items for each other.  The kids tell me their final choices and I give them money to go purchase the items.  They sneak their shopping bags home and wrap gifts for their sibling.  They are gleeful with anticipation to give gifts to one another, and we love watching them!

Delegating Chistmas Traditions

We do a lot of delegating in our house.  I want the kids to learn to do household chores and take responsibility for things around the house.  We also do a lot of PLAY, so they usually only do chores in 10-20minute increments.

But this year, we've been delegating a little bit for the Christmas season.  My 12-year old son is in charge of the elf on the shelf (shhhh!  don't tell his siblings!), and he has loved the job!  My 8-year old son is in charge of watering the Christmas tree every other day.  My 7-year old daughter keeps the art walls decorated with Christmas art, and she adds ribbons and bows to the packaging.

It's fun to share traditions with them and watch them grow.  :)

Book Review: Tyndale Chronological Life Application Study Bible

It is my pleasure to offer a review of the Tyndale Chronological Life Application Study Bible in the New Living Translation.  Wow!  This is an incredibly comprehensive Bible packed with scriptural references.  It earns 5 stars!

I'm a big fan of chronological Bibles, because they give such good context for reading. But this edition goes a step further, including a timeline at the top of every page and a cool historical timeline at the beginning of the Bible.  It gives classical history references such as Stonehenge, Iliad and the first Olympics alongside the historical events in the Bible - way cool!  There is also a chronological survey of the Bible that gives a textual summary of the whole Bible.  They have also included a canonical table of contents, so you can find scriptures in the Bible.

I've been using a Life Application Study Bible (not the chronological one) for 15 years, and I've always liked the included study tools.  The Bible text is at the top of the page, and study notes related to the scriptures are at the bottom of the page.  The notes include thoughts about the who, what, when, where, and whys related to the text.  These are great tools for actually applying the Bible to daily life.

But this version includes so many updated tools.  I love all the study tools - maps, charts, diagrams, personality overviews, pictures, notes...  It also includes a Christian workers resource that has tools for learning and sharing about your faith and practices to grow in your faith.  There is a huge index, dictionary and concordance in the back.

The Bible is currently offered in NLT and NKJV, so you have two choices on translations.

If you want to really study the Bible, you will love this comprehensive resource!  I would recommend it for male and female readers age 15+.

I received this Bible as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Book Review: Heart of the Country by Rene Gutteridge

This book is a novelization of the feature film Heart of the Country.  It's a very good Christian fiction story that deals with love and marriage, faith and loss, friendship and family, betrayal and forgiveness.  The overarching theme follows the story of the prodigal son, and the way we often run from those we love, make mistakes and return home.  It explores the story from the perspective of 5 or so different characters, so you get an all-around understanding of how one person's actions affect another person's life.  It's easy to get lost in the story, because it's very well-written.  I also enjoyed reading the interviews between the author and the movie director at the end of the book.

From the back of the book: 
"Faith and Luke Carraday have it all. After taking his inheritance from his father’s stable, lucrative business to invest in a successful hedge fund with the Michov Brothers, Luke is on the fast track as a rising young executive. And Faith, a beautiful singer turned socialite, is settling comfortably into her role as his wife.  When rumors of the Michovs’ involvement in a Ponzi scheme reach Faith, she turns to Luke for confirmation, and he assures her that all is well. But when Luke is arrested, Faith can’t understand why he would lie to her, and she takes off for the farm and the family she turned her back on years ago. Meanwhile, Luke is forced to ask his own family for help as he desperately tries to untangle himself from his mistakes. Can two prodigals return to families they abandoned and hope to be met with open arms? Will a marriage survive betrayal when there is nowhere to run but home?"

I would recommend this book to female readers age 16+.

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

Monday, December 16, 2013

Book Review: Hot Buttons Books on Bullying and Image

This week I have been reviewing two books by Nicole O'Dell. They are part of the hot buttons series- one is on bullying, and one is on image. These are good resources for parents, counselors, and youth workers. The books help to define the issues and explain the whys and hows. They give adults ideas for how to (and not to) respond to trouble areas. There is one chapter advising how to address the issue from a spiritual nature as well. But my favorite part of the book is a set of scenarios that she has written to help teens and tweens explore the various areas. They are very well done,  and I think they will lead to great conversations with young people.  These books will aid any adult who wants to understand and support youth.  I received these books as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Giving joy is as easy as 1-2-3

Singing carols at a nursing home with a group of 15 kids?
That's 15 toys or games that Hasbro will donate.
Hosting a school-wide food drive with 450 students?
That's 450 toys or games donated!

This holiday season, generationOn is asking kids and teens to Be a Joy Maker by turning acts of service into donations of toys and games for kids in need. From now through December 20, for every action a kid or teen takes to help others, Hasbro will donate a toy or game to Toys for Tots, up to 1 million dollars' worth. 

Help us get over 100,000 toys to kids in need this season. It's as easy as 1-2-3! 
1.         Go to
2.         Pledge your service using the form.
3.         Click Give Joy to submit. 
Now through December 20 at

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Children Share Joy and Toys

21 kids and 13 adults from the Pleasant View Kids Care club met at 24 Church for a JoyMaker project last week. They collected 30 coats and 55 scarves, gloves and hats to donate to needy children and families. They made 22 door decorations for Ronald McDonald House residents. They decorated gift bags and wrapped 100 toys that Hasbro donated for our Angel Tree children. And they celebrated by enjoying Christmas cocoa together.

The event was part of the national Joy Maker campaign led by generationOn, a global youth service organization that inspires kids to make their mark on the world. For each action a child or teen takes to help others as part of the Joy Maker initiative, Hasbro will donate a toy or game to Toys for Tots — up to 1 million dollars’ worth!

“We are very proud of these young people. We know the youth of today have the power, enthusiasm and creativity to make their mark on issues important to their community and beyond,” said Kathy Saulitis, senior vice president at generationOn. “We also wish to thank our partner, Hasbro, for their continued support and generous matching toy contributions to Toys for Tots.”

For four years, generationOn and Hasbro have partnered on the Joy Maker campaign– inspiring more than 100,000 acts of service by kids and teens each holiday season.  Kids and teens interested in being a Joy Maker in 2013 can still get involved through December 20.  The website offers a range of project ideas as well as an easy way to download a holiday card and send it to a child needing joy this holiday season.

Find out more about the Pleasant View Kids Care Club and local service opportunities at



Book Review: A Christmas Quilt

I just finished reading Vanneta Chapman’s “The ChristmasQuilt”, one of the stories in the Quilts of Love series.  It was a good story with good characters and several really good messages.  I particularly liked the way the main characters were struggling with distance in their marriage, both realized their wrongdoings, and both pursued restoration.  I also liked the lead female characters’ discussions on the fruits of the spirit, and the way they used their baby quilt to help them ponder and integrate the fruits of the spirit into their lives.  I also liked reading about the struggle between Amish and modern living – and how both groups are learning to live together with honor and respect.  And I loved the spirit of strong family and friendship in the community.  With so many good things, I’m not sure why I never really got hooked on the story.  I was a little bit bored reading it, so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.   Nevertheless, if you enjoy Amish fiction, then you should give the book a try.
I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book Review: A Simple Amish Christmas by Vanetta Chapman

I just finished reading A Simple Amish Christmas by Vanetta Chapman.  It was a cute, uplifting and inspiring Amish novel.

The publisher describes it this way:  "Annie Weaver always planned to return home, but the 20-year old RN has lived in Philadelphia for three years now. As her time of rumschpringe is about to come to an abrupt end, bringing for Annie an overwhelming sense of loneliness. She returns home and finds herself face-to-face with a budding romance with an Amish farmer and Annie has several important choices to make."

It explores some really important topics including family devotion, community care, love vs. duty, finding love, finding purpose, and mercy.  And it includes a lot of Amish vocabulary, so I was grateful for the dictionary in the back of the book.  All of the "lessons" are beautifully woven though Chapman's light-hearted fictional tale.

I would recommend this book for any female reader age 15+.

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

Book Review: A Wild Goose Chase Christmas by Jennifer AlLee

I read  Jennifer AlLee's "A Wild Goose  Chase Christmas" over Thanksgiving weekend, and it was a perfect way to enter into the holiday season.  It's from the Quilts of Love Series, a series focused on quilts and family tradition. 

The publisher describes it this way:  "Upon her grandmother's death, Izzy Fontaine finds herself in possession of a Wild Goose Chase pattern quilt that supposedly leads to a great treasure.  A quilt, a secret message, a dog, and a possible treasure make for an unforgettable Christmas!Of course, once the rest of the family finds out about the "treasure map," they're determined to have a go at the treasure themselves. And, if that weren't enough, Max Logan, a local museum curator, contacts Izzy and says that Grandma Isabella promised him the quilt.  A quilt, a secret message, a dog, and a possible treasure make for an unforgettable Christmas!What is it about this quilt that makes everyone want it? Is Izzy on a wild goose chase of her own, or a journey that will lead her to the treasure her grandmother intended?"

It's a light-hearted family Christmas story with a little bit of mystery.  It is easy to read, but also touches on many important aspects of love and family.  Some of the character struggles include bitterness vs. forgiveness, fortune in money vs. heritage, gifts of family vs. financial value, risk in business and relationships, assumptions vs. communication...

I've already shared it with a friend to read, and I would recommend the book to any female reader age 14+.

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

Monday, December 02, 2013

Book Review: NIV Ragamuffin Bible by Brennan Manning

NIV Ragamuffin Bible: Meditations for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Brokenhearted by
Brennan Manning has a gift for speaking emotions from the deepest parts of his heart.  Reading this Bible is like reading his personal ‘marked up’ NIV Bible.  It’s the normal text, plus his reflections on various passages and what appear to be entries from his journal.
Here is the publisher’s description:  Do you believe that God not only loves you, but that he also likes you? It's just one of the soul-searching questions posed by bestselling author Brennan Manning who confesses he has been 'John the beloved, Peter the coward, and Thomas the doubter all before the waitress brought the check.' The NIV Ragamuffin Bible offers a collection of Manning's raw, painfully honest, yet grace-filled devotions, meditations, and reflections of his journey limping back to---like the prodigal son---his overjoyed father. When you journey through this Bible, you will likewise find yourself returning to your Heavenly Father, basking in the knowledge that God not only loves you, he delights in you.
He has included 104 devotional readings and 250 personal reflections that are scattered throughout the Bible.  They cut straight to the heart.  They are insightful, challenging, and encouraging.  They speak the truth of Jesus in a way that will penetrate your heart.
If you have ever struggled to believe that God loves you more than you could possibly imagine, you should check out this Bible.  Read it, meditate on the truths (of scripture and in the extra readings), and ask God to change your understanding of his love.  And get ready to have your eyes widely opened!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze/Zondervan book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.