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, October 31, 2014

Book Review: The Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka

I was so excited to get The Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka in the mail.  It's beautiful!  It's full of favorite dishes that have been "skinnyfied" (made healthier).  Most recipes can be made with ingredients that are usually in my fridge/pantry  It's mostly simple cooking.  I dog-eared so many recipes to try!

In addition to the 300+ pages of pictures and recipes, there are 19 pages o tips for healthy cooking/eating.  The recipes are also connected to icons to let you know if recipes are vegetarian, gluten-free, slow-cooker, or freezer friendly.

This would be  great gift for the chef that loves to cook but wants to be thoughtful about the waistline!

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

9 Party Activities with a Soccer Theme

I was helping a friend brainstorm creative fundraising games to play at an upcoming soccer event.  These would also use these for a soccer party or a birthday party with a soccer theme.  I thought you soccer-crazed families might enjoy building off the ideas.  And of course, I'd LOVE to hear your ideas!
  1. have a kick off (like a free throw competition).  have 2 kicking lines- one for adults & one for kids.  each person gets 3 kicks.  if one of the kicks goes in, you get a prize.  every player is entered into a drawing for a XX.
  2. punting competition  (punt, retrieve ball, get prize based on how far the punt is)
  3. kick and hit the goalie ghost for a prize
  4. kick and knock over the 2-liter ghosts in the goal  (like bowling)
  5. a combo of cake walk/musical chairs.  $ to enter. kids on spray-painted & #ed circles. play Halloween song.  freeze when music stops. draw # from hat. person standing on that #ed square gets a prize.
  6. a modified bean bag toss.  put a netting over the goal with holes cut out.  designate points for various holes. kickers tally points by kicking in certain holes.  prizes awarded by points earned.
  7. a make-and-take soccer craft.  buy foam/wooden frames, paint and stickers.  let players decorate art for their rooms.
  8. sell helium soccer balloons.  or decorate your own helium soccer balloon.
  9. finger soccer competition.  "kick' soccer ball (ping pong ball) into a mini goal by shooting with your index finger.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

book review - Just Sayin' - a devotional by Carol McAdams Moore

Write ‘em, Draw ‘em, Hide ‘em In Your Heart

From the publisher:  "Just Sayin’ isn’t your typical 90-day devotional for girls. It’s an all-out open space for you to explore and learn more about yourself and your faith. Prompts get your mind thinking, ideas flowing, and help turn your thoughts and emotions into dynamic doodles and so much more! Let that God-given gift of creativity shine each and every day!"

This paperback devotional has a short & sweet activity for each day.  It opens with a scripture and an analogy, then the creative reflection is a bit different each day.  Girls might find space to doodle, journal, make a list, solve a puzzles, take a quiz, or even fill-in-the-blank for a prayer.  It's simple black/white art that is inviting for tweens.

I would recommend this to any girl age 9-13 who is interested in learning more about God and how he wants to be a part of our everyday lives.  I can't wait to share it with my daughter!

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

Monday, October 06, 2014

Book Review: Thief of Glory

I read Thief of Glory: A Novel by Sigmund Brouwer while I was traveling last week.  Wow! 

From the publisher:  "A boy coming of age in a time of war…the love that inspires him to survive.  For ten year-old Jeremiah Prins, the life of privilege as the son of a school headmaster in the Dutch East Indies comes crashing to a halt in 1942 after the Japanese Imperialist invasion of the Southeast Pacific. Jeremiah takes on the responsibility of caring for his younger siblings when his father and older stepbrothers are separated from the rest of the family, and he is surprised by what life in the camp reveals about a woman he barely knows—his frail, troubled mother.  Amidst starvation, brutality, sacrifice and generosity, Jeremiah draws on all of his courage and cunning to fill in the gap for his mother. Life in the camps is made more tolerable as Jeremiah’s boyhood infatuation with his close friend Laura deepens into a friendship from which they both draw strength.  When the darkest sides of humanity threaten to overwhelm Jeremiah and Laura, they reach for God’s light and grace, shining through his people. Time and war will test their fortitude and the only thing that will bring them safely to the other side is the most enduring bond of all."

I've never read a book about the Japanese/Dutch side of WWII, so I was riveted by the storyline.  It's very sad and hard to read, but also full of friendship, hope, faith, and determination to survive.  I was inspired by the characters as I could feel their pain, their struggle and their fierce spirit.  Brouwer has obviously done tons of research and he painted the pictures in living color. 

This is not a light beach-read, but if you're looking for a captivating story that will illuminate a different side of WWII than we traditionally hear, you should pick up this book.  I recommend this book for readers age 16+.  I think it would be great to read with a friend, then discuss the questions at the end of the book.

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