Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Join me at Homemakers Challenge Today

I remember before having children of my own how I would visit people’s homes who had children and would think to myself, “I will never let my children take over my house and have toys everywhere.” People without children always seem to make the best parents, am I right? Enter in my first child and almost every room in the house is starting to resemble a mid-sized toy store. Add two more kids to the mix and I couldn’t even guess what color our carpet was....
To read the rest please join me over at Homemakers Challenge where I address how I Tamed the Toy Clutter.

Monday, March 26, 2012

If a picture is worth a thousand words...

Sometimes no picture at all is worth more...

I love to take pictures of my kids. I love to capture those very special moments. I get out my camera and try to make sure I am capturing the beauty of the moment just right. I take 20 shots of one moment trying to make sure I capture how wonderful the moment is... I take a picture from every angle so I can remember exactly how wonderful the moment was.

And I miss the moment trying to capture it....

Yesterday we took our kiddos to Indian Camp Creek Park. We played in their little man made creek next to the playground. It was the most gorgeous day. The sky was so blue. The trees were so green. The kids splashed in the mud and water. They threw rocks. Every moment would have created a beautiful picture. But, I didn't have my camera. But, instead of trying to capture all of those beautiful moments- I got to live them. I got to throw rocks and get splashed with muddy water. I got to live the moment instead of trying to capture it. And sometimes that is worth even more.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Happy Wednesday! I thought I would just write some a little random list of things going on right now...

I meet with two of my good friends from my small group on Wednesday mornings for prayer. It is awesome. Those girls speak truth and love like nobody's business. I am making them these.

Oh, I felt I should clarify I am pretty decided on next year's curriculum. There are so many amazing resources out there and I think lots of them are good. Yesterday's post was more about my own fears and not really about curriculum. When I actually take the plunge and purchase I will share what we are using.

The hubs and I watched Forks Over Knives last night. We both found it really interesting. And I always love hearing about doctors that actually focus on diet rather than running to medication.

That last update reminds me I need to do a kid update. I haven't talked much about how Max has been doing since we were encouraged by our doctor to make some diet changes last year.

Yesterday was the first day of Spring and I am so excited! Although, we have been enjoying beautiful weather for a few weeks now. I took this picture last week...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I am a little bit of a worrier. I tend to stress about things. This has been especially true as I have been looking into homeschool curriculum. I feel such a huge weight as I take on my children's education into my own hands. I want to make sure I am not short changing them in any way. I have been stressing a lot.

I am reading "The Duties of Parents" By J.C. Ryle right now. When I came upon this section it totally stuck with me and made me realize a lot about my worrying. Ryle writes:

"But, I also know that God says expressly, "train up a child in the way he should go," and that He never laid a command on man which He would not give man grace to perform. And I know, too, that our duty is not to stand still and dispute, but to go forward that God will meet us. The path of obedience is the way in which He gives the blessing. We have only to do as the servants were commanded at the marriage feast in Cana, to fill the water-pots with water, and we may safely leave it to the Lord to turn that water into wine."

I only have to obey. I don't need to worry and fret about the outcome. I need to seek God daily and walk in obedience. Then God will do the miracle...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Blanket Training 101

I have been feeling a touch frazzled as a mom lately so I decided to revisit one of my favorite encouragers in motherhood: Michelle Duggar. Since I don't know Michelle personally I went back and read over some of their first book, 20 and Counting. I was encouraged right away. I also was reminded of an idea I had totally forgotten about- blanket training.

I never did this with my older two and honestly, I never had a real need. When I needed them to sit still for a minute it was pretty easy to get them to cooperate. But, our little Jack marches to the beat of his own drum and I knew blanket training could give me just the bit of sanity I needed. Blanket training is basically teaching your little one to sit still and stay on their blanket for up to about 30 minutes or so.

To get started with blanket time all you need is a blanket (the same one to use everytime that will only be used for blanket time) and a small box or bag of quiet toys and books that will only be used for blanket time. I opted for a bag for easy travel.
Then you get started with the "training". Once or twice a day we sit down. I very excitedly announce that it is blanket time and tell Jack how much fun it is going to be. I have him sit down on the blanket and when he is sitting I give him his toys. Any time he tries to get up or move off the blanket I set him right back down and tell him that it is "blanket time". We started out at 5 minutes at a time once or twice a day and are moving up. I started out sitting next to him but not playing with him since the point of blanket time is for him to entertain himself. Now I am working towards being several feet away working on something and we are working are way up to half an hour. 

When blanket time is over I announce, "all done" and he helps me put his toys back in the bag, we fold up our blanket and put it away. Then we usually do some serious playing to get all of that energy out after sitting still for awhile! 

Have you tried blanket training or something similar? How did it work for you?

I am linking up at Growing HomeRaising Mighty Arrows, Raising Homemakers and The Better Mom. Come join me!

On being a mom...

Being a mom really changes a person... or more than that, Jesus really changes a person. I have wanted to be a mom my entire life. Being a mom and wife has always been my big career goal. I went to college to get my MRS (I went ahead and got a Bachelors of Science while I was there... ) But, my vision of motherhood now compared to my vision of motherhood as a little girl has changed drastically.

When I was young I thought of motherhood in terms of caring for my future children's physical needs. I thought about feeding them and bathing them. I thought about dressing them up in cute, matching outfits. I thought of throwing them birthday parties and decorating their bedrooms. And I carried on with this as my mindset even when I was pregnant with my first child. I was consumed with decorating the nursery, buying clothes, picking out just the right bouncy seat and swing. These were the important things.

But, now that I am a few years into motherhood I feel like I was so shallow back then. I totally didn't have any grasp of what being a mom is actually about. Sure, I do have to meet the physical needs of my children. And this is certainly the most time consuming part of my "job". And let's be honest, putting a flowery headband on a little girl or a sweet sweater vest on your little guy is one of the perks of the job.

But, I find that the most important part of my job and the most mentally consuming part of my job is caring for the hearts and minds. Encouraging, teaching, talking with, listening, training and disciplining... the inside stuff. That is what being a mom is about down at the core. Giving love and affirmation to our children, giving them a vision for eternity- what else could matter more?

Anyone can care for our children's needs. And a lot of people do it well. I am not the only one that can dress my child or feed them breakfast. And, in reality, I am not the only one that can teach them about God or touch their hearts in some way. But, since I am their mom, I do know them better than anyone else. And I believe as my children's mom God has given me a heart for my children that no one else has. I can't imagine any one else loving my children more than I do, having the same vision for their lives, caring for their hearts quite like I do (except for Jesus of course).

I am not saying it is wrong to decorate our kiddos rooms or put them in cute outfits (I like to do these things to). But, those things can't be the priority. Because, to put it plainly, if our children had adorable bedrooms, perfect outfits, and the most outrageous birthday parties in the neighborhood but we did not take the time everyday to speak to their hearts and pour into their souls that I believe we have failed. Being a mother is not about helping our children keep up with the Jones's... it is about touching their hearts for eternity.

I want to encourage all of us as moms to take a step back and take a hard look at where we are focusing our energy. Have we prayed with our children today? Have we prayed for them? Have we read them a good book and asked what they thought about it? Have we snuggled and tickled and laughed and chased? Today, let's do the job that only we as their moms can do for them. I don't think we will regret it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Review: Frumps to Pumps

I recently had the opportunity to review Sarah Mae's brand new e-book, "Frumps to Pumps: Your one-month motivational to getting dressed and staying that way!" I was mildly obsessed with her earlier e-book, "31 Days to Clean- Having a Martha House the Mary Way". I gleaned so much wisdom from that book I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one.

Sarah Mae was one of the first Christian mommy bloggers I started reading a few years ago and I have always loved her honest, encouraging, and God-glorifying writing. (And if you do too she is currently co-writing a book with THE Sally Clarkson!)

When I saw what this book was going to be about I immediately knew I would benefit from it. I am one of those people who is much more productive when I am dressed with make-up on, and yet most days I find myself in sweats well past noon... or past dinnertime... Yep.

I read through this book and loved Sarah Mae's practical and encouraging tips. I love that she calls this book a motivational (part devotional part motivation) because that is exactly what it is. Practical wisdom encouraging women to be the best wives, mommies, and women of God that we can be.

I would have to say my favorite thing about this book was that Sarah Mae is very clear that this should not be a legalistic endeavor and we cannot win God's favor buy wearing a cute top rather than our ratty bath robe. But, she encourages getting dressed in order to serve God and our families well and I love that. 

You can get your copy of Frumps to Pumps right here! It is just $4.99 and I think it will be money well spent.

*I received my copy for free in exchange for a review. However, the opinions expressed here are 100% mine.

Linked up at Raising Homemakers and Women Living Well.

Monday, March 12, 2012

My new word

I am at a new season in life where God is teaching me to use a new word. It is a word that I really don't like to say and I avoid it at all costs. It is "no". Specifically, it is saying "no" to a lot of really fun things. 

I am a social butterfly by nature. I love to be with people. I love having friends and getting together. I love community. But, at this time in my life with three young kiddos, my husband's work schedule, church stuff, and homeschooling on the horizon I just don't have the free time I used to have. I need to be at home most days in order for things to run smoothly in our home and in order to get done everything I need to get done. 

It has been REALLY hard for me to say "no" lately. The hardest one just today was having to say "no" to being in a morning Bible study with some ladies at church. It is a group of really neat ladies! And come on, it is a Bible study! Surely God approves of studying the Bible! And He does! But, I just knew He was saying "no" to this one... at least right now. I knew if I said yes I would become too busy and I would be inconsistent in my attendance and inconsistent in getting things done at home. But, man, it was so hard to say "no" to such a great opportunity!

I also had to say "no" to getting together with some girls and an amazing older woman who is willing to help mentor us in homeschooling. It was a great opportunity. But, I know I can't do it all.

But, I also realize that as hard as it is to say "no". And if you know me you know that it is really, really hard... Everytime I say "no" I also get to say "yes". "Yes" to these sweet little faces who will only be little for a very short time...

Friday, March 9, 2012

InstaFriday {week 3}

Yay!  Time again for Instagram pics! I love recapping my week with these pics.

Last Saturday we had friends over for dinner. I asked Max to wipe down the dining room table. He chose his own method of doing so...
 I was rocking my apron as I was making dinner and feeling quite Suzy Homemaker. Maybe if I wore an apron all the time I would be more productive?
 It is a little hard to tell but Nick and I were cracking up about Max's hands. They are always covered in marker because Max colors pictures all day long.
 I love this picture because it is just SO Sophie! She is always in costume and being silly. I just love her so much.
 Jack got Scout's dog bed out of his kennel and then proceeded to terrorize our poor pup by laying in his bed.
 I decided to read the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds with the day of the month in addition to my Bible in a year plan this month. I love the book of Proverbs so much.
Some good friends of ours introduced us to this game and now I am mildly addicted. Nick ran to the store the other day and I asked him to pick up a deck of these cards while he was there. I shouldn't brag but I totally won last night...

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Random Thursday

Edit: This post has been updated with an additional link thanks to a comment!

Since yesterday's post was titled Random Wednesday and I have 3 or 4 things to post today I thought it was only fitting that today's post be titled, Random Thursday. So, here we go...

So by now most of you have probably seen this video circulating around Facebook

I watched it and was very moved. I absolutely hate that this is going on. However, after doing my own research I have decided that while I would love to do something I personally do not feel that this organization is the best use of my money. I checked them out on Charity Navigator and then found a few articles that were posted by people I respect. I encourage you to read these in particular to make your own decision. (In all fairness here is the response to these articles for you to read: http://allafrica.com/stories/201203080906.html) What stood out most to me was where the money is actually going.... to the Ugandan government which has proven itself corrupt. I just encourage everyone to do their research before sending money to any organization to make sure it is one that is actually improving people's situations instead of intensifying them. I think as Christians we have a responsibility to give to those who are poor and cannot help themselves. These children absolutely qualify as the least of these and deserve our attention. We sponsor two children through Compassion International and I love the work that they are doing within the communities to help children. I also love World Vision and Amazima.

On a totally unrelated note... the pot roast I made last night was amazing. It was not the dry, hard to swallow pot roast I am used to. I served it over mashed potatoes with lots of the juice. Yum-o! Here is the recipe. And a picture-
Looking at that picture kind of makes me want to run to the fridge and start devouring the leftovers. But, since it is not even 8:30 in the morning yet I guess I can hold off for a little bit longer.

And last but not least, how cute is my dog?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Random Wednesday Post

Happy Wednesday! Man, here in the midwest it has been so windy lately. I am getting sick of being almost blown away every time I step outside! It is like a tease to have such warm weather that can't be enjoyed!

Our Wednesdays are usually dedicated to me getting together with the girls in our small group in the morning for prayer and then small group in the evening. Both were cancelled tonight due to lots of illness so our day has been wide open. It has been nice to get a chance to do some much needed catching up on some things. The kiddos and I went to the grocery store this morning. I am trying a new pot roast recipe for dinner. I thought I would give the Pioneer Woman's a try. I want to love pot roast but most of the time when I have them they are so dry. Hopefully this recipe will deliver. I will let you know.

In other news, did anyone else happen to catch Pastor Mark and Grace Driscoll on the View today? You can see a clip here. I thought they did great! The ladies gave them a hard time... and you know how Whoopie and Joy get when someone disagrees with their beliefs... But, I think Mark and Grace spoke truth and were awesome.

I also really enjoyed this article over at The Better Mom today called "Dressing to Attract". I think they did a great job of getting to the heart of modesty. Such a great reminder.

Well, there is laundry to fold! Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I follow author Lysa TerKeurst on Facebook. She is always posting fabulous things. But, I was especially touched by her post this morning because it spoke right to my own heart and what I was feeling. Lysa says,

Oh how I thank God for the very common and ordinary spots of my life.
Standing at the sink watching the kids do their homework at the sticky farm table.
Sitting on the front steps to welcome home my husband.
Cutting flowers from the bush that just bloomed in my front yard.
Oh what the world calls ordinary, I call the best.

Photo Credit
I love that. It is the "very common and ordinary spots in my life" that I am most thankful for this morning.
I am thankful for getting to wake up to my 4 favorite faces in the world every morning. I am thankful that I get to stay home and raise my children. That I get to be the one to train them and teach them and kiss boo boos and read books for the 100th time. I am thankful for my hilarious husband doing dances in the kitchen... for the sole purpose of making me laugh. I am thankful that he makes me my breakfast every morning. I am spoiled. I am thankful for my coffee in the morning. I am thankful for all the people I get to sit around the dinner table with. I am thankful for my fluffy bed that I fall into at night... earlier and earlier these days. I am thankful for friends who pray for me and with me. And all of these things are ordinary but like Lysa says, "Oh what the world calls ordinary, I call the best."

Monday, March 5, 2012

Homeschool Curriculum

Photo Credit
Since our family is planning on homeschooling next year, Lord willing of course, I have been doing some major curriculum research. When we first decided to homeschool I had only heard of a few different options so I didn't think that choosing one would be too difficult. Well... it turns out, there are TONS of options. And lots of the options are great! So, now I am having the difficult task of choosing! Who knew this would be so difficult?

God is so good though. He has given me a life FULL of homeschoolers. My sister-in-law, my next door neighbor, many dear friends, and what seems like most of the women at our church all homeschool. I love that I have been able to ask around about people's real life experiences with different curriculum. And I know that everyone has different personalities and our children all have different strengths and personalities. But, it is still nice to hear some first hand experiences.

My friend Crystal offered to let me tag along with her to a curriculum expo at the end of March so hopefully getting to see some of the options I am considering in person will be helpful... or at least will help me narrow it down!

I am linking up at The Better Mom.

Friday, March 2, 2012

InstaFriday {week 2}

Happy Friday everyone! I had such good intentions to blog more this week. Somehow we managed to keep super busy this week! It was all fun though! I am linking up again today here:
life rearranged
Max is getting so big these days. I think he is looking so grown-up.
The kiddos wanted to make a dog house with a box. Soph wanted to be the dog.
Scout got a major haircut and now looks half as big. Nick and my mom love his new do... I am not so sure...
Do you watch Downton Abbey? You should. I am watching Season 2 online now and it is so good!
Daddy and Sophie doing some reading.
I was really bored and started taking pictures of myself. This was the only one I took where it did not look like my nose was taking up my entire face!
Still working on the eating breakfast thing...
Someone is always in costume around here.
I am very thankful for modern day conveniences. I had the crockpot and the bread machine going.
The hubs picked up sushi for us last night. It was incredible.
I hope everyone has a great weekend!