Friday, February 28, 2014

2014 February Bookmarks

*Bookmarks is an online book club hosted at Creative2xmom. Here we discuss the books we've read in the past month as well as the suggested reading. Our suggested reading for February was Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Anderson

These are the books I read this month:

The Reckoning by Beverly Lewis-- Since I read the first two books in the series last month, I had to finish it out to see what happened to Katherine and Daniel.  What becomes of them?  Do they ever reunite?  What of her new lifestyle vs his?  And what of their differing spiritual viewpoints?  As is to true to all good series, our two main characters do eventually reunite, but not before going through their own spiritual journeys.  However, Daniel's journey rings truer in this final book and the climax and eventual reconciliation seems incomplete.  I personally believe the ending needed to be handled better.

Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider-- See my review here.

The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck-- Very funny, lots of snappy dialogue, and cute story of a mouse searching for his true identity.  I found myself explaining some of the back cultural references, but it was intended for grades 3-5 and I was reading to a K and 3rd grader.  All in all a fun read.  A little slow at times, but the last few chapters more than made up for it.

The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden-- Chester Cricket finds his way into the New York subway station and tells of his adventures with Harry Cat and Tucker Mouse.  The first in a series of seven books, Chester finds a home with the Bellini family and has wonderful adventures with his new friends.  Falling into the magical world of animals, this story engaged both my 3rd grader and my kindergartner, keeping my entertained as well.  This was a fantastic book.

Our suggested reading for February was Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Anderson--  This book was ... uhhh at best.  It was filled with much of the same information that we've heard before.  And really the best information could have been better summarized in a blog post: establish your priorities, schedule your week, fill in the nonnegotiables, and pare down your "want to's."  Thankfully this book was a short read.  Skip this one.

So what are your bookmarks this month?

Tell us in the comments about the books you're chewing on. Or link up a review from your own blog. Let's share the books we're finding, good and bad. And give us your thoughts on Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Anderson.

And join us for our next bookmarks post coming March 28th as we discuss Praying the Scriptures for Your Children by Jodie Berndt.

*Linked to these Parties

Monday, February 24, 2014

10 Goals This Week

Here's how I did on my goals two weeks ago:

  • Do something fun for Valentine's Day
  • Get grades for LP 4
  • Plan for LP 5

  • Upload a vlog
  • Finish posts for vacation

  • Finish Disneyland project
  • Try one new recipe

  • Get 8 hr sleep/night (about 5 nights)
  • Workout 4-5 days
  • Do yoga
These are my 10 Goals This Week:

  • Take a parenting class
  • Finish our read aloud
  • 2 dr appointments, 1 evaluation, 1 teacher meeting
  • Upload a vlog
  • Read half of my review book
  • Scrap two pages and finish one card
  • Try one new recipe
  • Get house back in order

  • Get 8 hrs of sleep/night
  • Workout 4-5 days/one day of yoga

What are Your Goals for the Week?

Sesame Street Party Decor

*Linked to these Parties

Friday, February 21, 2014

While You're Waiting: Relationships with Family

(Image Credit: Jomphong)

*Recently I was thinking about all I would want my daughters to know before they get married.  Instead of wishing the days away until they walk down the aisle, how would I encourage them to live?  Living in the joy of who God created.  The practicalities and the dreaming.  What would I want to encourage... While they're waiting?  These are some of those thoughts.

I love the family that the Lord has blessed us with.  We are loud, noisy, fun, full of life, and love each other to the ends of the earth.  Did you catch that last part?  We love each other to the ends of the earth.  I know, we all get frustrated with each other once in a while.  We all need our space and we don't always agree.  But we do love each other.  There's no one who will be there for you through everything like your family.  

The truth is it takes a lot of work to stay close as you grow older.  People move, life gets busy, and time just marches on.  I guess if I could say anything to you about your family it would be to invest in our relationships while you still have lots of time.  Take the opportunity you have to spend time together.  Initiate conversation.  Go places together.  Speak the truth in love.  Laugh together.  Look for the good in each other.  Build a solid foundation of relationship.  One day you'll look back and wonder where the time has gone.  Now is your chance to build a strong relationship with your family that will carry you through when life gets crazy.

And don't just let this be for your single years.  My prayer is that your family relationships will continue to grow and blossom all throughout your life.  Your siblings will always be here, so invest in those relationships and grow them with love.  I will continue to pray that you each respect each other and desire a close relationship with each other.  Enjoy this unique relationship that you've been gifted with.  All my love to you...

*Linked to these Parties

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Adoption and Foster Care Movies

Lately I've found myself delving into these foster care and adoption documentaries in an attempt to understand a very complex world just a little better.  If you're interested in learning a little more yourself, these are the documentaries I've watched recently:

This one was very good and I felt it gave a balanced view of all of those working in and affected by the foster care system.

This documentary gave an inside look into girls adopted from China and how they're challenged to find their identity when living between two worlds.

Daughter from Danang follows a grown woman adopted out of Vietnam who returns to find her birth family and is challenged by the disparity between her dreams and reality.

As Avery comes of age, she is reaches out to find her birth parents and the effects ripple through this multi-racial family struggling discovery the meaning of family.

Although not technically a documentary, this is a good one to watch with the kids, as Whispers is separated from his herd and adopted by Groove, learning to become a mother for the first time.

International adoptions continue to be controversial, but this documentary follows a group of American families as they go to adopt their Chinese daughters.  Showing both the emotion on the American and Chinese side, this documentary also addresses the complex implications of China's one-child policy.

What Adoption or Foster Care Movies might you add to a "Must See" list?

*Linked to these Parties

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made: I finished off a couple of Disneyland projects and made a yummy batch of Cinnamon Swirl Bread. 

What I'm Reading:  I'm still working through Beverly Lewis' The Reckoning.  Very good, just haven't had the time to really read lately.

What I'm Doing: It's the end of the learning period to I'm busy putting together grades and planning for the next section.  School kind of took over this week.

What I'm Watching:  We've been watching the Olympics.  My 8 ear old now wants to do Skeleton.  Go figure!

What I'm Enjoying: Lots and lots of rain... 

What are you up to?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ballerina Birthday Party

Last month, my sweet little "baby girl" turned six years old.  

How can that be?  Six feels so grown up, no longer a baby.  And with her new found grown up maturity, she wanted a new grown up party... a dance party to be exact.  No steering this girl to Rainbow Bright or My Little Ponies.  She is all about dancing.

So we put our heads together, and what started out as an all dance style party, swayed into a ballerina party and the birthday girl was still quite happy.

But if you go searching for dance party ideas, there isn't much to be had in the way of ballet and jazz so we had to improvise.  What started out as quite a challenge, ended up in a party that was a lot of fun to plan.

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For decorations, I went very soft and girlie and recycled a lot of ideas from girlie parties of the past.  We reused the birthday banner from last year in pink and purple as well as adding lots of pink and purple streamers and ribbons.  I also hung streamers and balloons over the window behind the party table to cut the glare for when we took pictures.
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I also hand drew this ballerina fairy from clip art on the web and hung her near the food table.  She was used for a game later on, but made cute decor in the meantime.

The Food Table:
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Since it was an afternoon party, we kept the food simple: pretzels, stovetop popcorn, fruit and dip, jello cups, punch, and veggies.

We found some cute ballerina cup and plates on Amazon, and added the piñata to the table for additional decor.  Daddy also bought her flowers for her birthday and those had to go on the table too.

Games and Activities:
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While we were waiting for friends to arrive, we decorated wands made of skewers and foam stars.  I threw out a bunch of glitter glue, stickers, and other crafty items, and the guests went crazy.  Minimal planning and easy supervision.

Later on, we also used this craft table to make friendship bracelets with a kit I found 50% off at Michaels.  
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There's our ballerina fairy again...  We played pin the crown on the ballerina.  I had to be careful about where I hung her.  My kids are getting old enough to feel the wall for where the thermostate, etc is in relation to the game.  Getting tricky as they get older.

Finally we played freeze dance.  Since my daughter's birthday is right around Christmas, I pulled out a Christmas pop CD and the girls danced till they dropped.

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Grandma always does our birthday cakes and this year she did a new take on the bear pan from Wilton's.  Our cute little bear became a ballerina complete with a pink tutu.

The Piñata:
 photo IMG_1280_zps0887bfa9.jpg

The piñata this year was easy.  We took a cardboard pepsi box and covered it with masking tape to reinforce the seams.  Then we spray painted it pink and covered it in crepe paper.  Finally, I added music notes and stars and the kids went crazy.

All in all, it was a fun party, and I ended up with a ton of ideas that I never got around to:

*a balloon relay doing curtseys, arabesques, spins, etc
*dancing musical chairs
*pass the ballet slipper (like hot potato)
*follow the dancer (like follow the leader)
*watching an episode of Angelina Ballerina

Do you have a little ballerina in your life?

*Linked to these Parties

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Notes from a Blue Bike {Review}

Notes from a Blue Bike is a message of living intentionally in a society that vies for our attention.  Following author Tsh Oxenreider and her family's quest for simplicity, this book focuses on 5 key areas: Food, Work, Education, Travel, and Entertainment.  What does it mean to "live intentionally" and how do we get there?

Oxenreider's main message is about choices.  What choices will we make, moment by moment?  Organics expensive?  Make choices about where to spend your money.  Work pressing your down?  Make choices about HOW you will work.  Travel seem impossible?  Rearrange your priorities and your expectations.  Entertainment options abound? Choose the ones that will propel you forward to your ultimate goals.

Although Oxenreider speaks from a parental perspective, these principles apply universally.  Intentionally requires planning, thoughtfulness, and a focus on what we value.  An easy read, deeply thought provoking, and rich in content, Notes from a Blue Bike is a must read for anyone looking to breath in a chaotic society.

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy for this book for review.  All opinions are my own.

26 Intentional Acts of Kindness #15: RedBox Love

Hey there, Mamas,

Our last challenge was to leave a couple of diapers and wipes at a public changing area to bless another mom who might be in a tight spot.  We chose the library to make our drop.  Our library has a wonderful children's area complete with family bathroom and changing area.  So the kids and I borrowed the key and left diapers and wipes.

Our library is always very busy with a wide range of patrons.  From some of the most affluent of our community to some of the most down and out families.  Our hope is that those diapers and wipes served to be a blessing to a mama who found herself in need of a little encouragement in her day.  I've been praying that they would be found by just the right person.

Ready for our next challenge?

This next challenge is to leave some money at a Redbox to bless the next customer.  I know as a family on a budget, Redbox is often the surest way for my hubby and I to have a date night or to spend an evening relaxing with the kids.  It doesn't take much and that's what makes this challenge a great one.  It takes so little to bright up someone's day.  So get creative.  Think about your target.  And go find a way to pay for someone's Redbox (Blockbuster, etc) rental!

Share with us how your Intentional Acts of Kindness are going... Have you noticed a difference in your kids (or yourself)?  What has blessed you the most in these challenges?

*Linked to these Parties

Monday, February 10, 2014

10 Goals This Week

Here's how I did on my goals this week:

  • Plan February's field trip
  • Research one outdoor treasure to explore

  • Finish planning for VEDA
  • Record 2 videos, post 4 posts for vacation 
  • Upload a vlog


  • Complete one new craft and one new recipe

  • Get 8.5 hrs sleep/night
  • Work 4-5 days
  • Do yoga
These are my 10 Goals for the Week:

  • Do something fun for Valentine's Day
  • Get grades for LP 4
  • Plan for LP 5

  • Upload a vlog
  • Finish posts for vacation

  • Finish Disneyland project
  • Try one new recipe

  • Get 8 hr sleep/night
  • Workout 4-5 days
  • Do yoga
What are Your Goals for the Week?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made: I worked on a new sensory box for the toddler and some Valentine's Day cards for my niece and nephew.  It was Valentine central around here.  :-)

What I'm Reading: I just finished up Notes from a Blue Bicycle and picked up a Beverly Lewis book.  Have to finish that Heritage of Lancaster County series.

What I'm Doing:  Today we're celebrating my Grandma's birthday.  Several of the aunts and uncles, cousins and second cousins are getting together for lunch and we'll be spending time with them over the weekend.

What I'm Watching:  Olympics of course.  Yeah, the kids and I will probably be staying up way too late of the next couple of weeks.

What I'm Enjoying:  The rain.  If you follow me on Facebook, you know that California has been suffering from a severe drought and we've been praying for rain.  We're finally getting a little this weekend.

What are you up to?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

14 Books that Say "I Love You"

1, 2, I love you

The Way I Love You

I Love You Mommy

How Do I Love You?

I Love You As Much

Guess How Much I Love You

Love You Forever

How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You?

I Love You Through and Through

Don't Forget I Love You

I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love

Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You

God Gave Us Love

Mama, Do You Love Me?

*Linked to these Parties

Monday, February 3, 2014

10 Goals This Week

Here's how I did on my goals this week:

  • Take one kid on a date
  • Take CPR class


  • Plan for VEDA??? (started)
  • Post 4 posts for vacation (posted 3)
  • Upload a vlog

  • Complete one new craft and one new recipe
  • Clean up clippings in backyard, plant bulbs (bulbs need to cool more)
  • Get 8.5 hrs sleep/night (not a chance)
  • Workout 4-5 days
  • Do yoga
These are my 10 Goals for the Week:
  • Plan February's field trip
  • Research one outdoor treasure to explore

  • Finish planning for VEDA
  • Record 2 videos, post 4 posts for vacation
  • Upload a vlog


  • Complete one new craft and one new recipe

  • Get 8.5 hrs sleep/night
  • Work 4-5 days
  • Do yoga

What are Your Goals for the Week?

Saving Money on Food at Disneyland

Having lunch with Great-Grandma photo 180103_10150145038981276_8359379_n.jpg

We are a Disneyland crazy family.  There's just something about a singing and dancing mouse that gives us warm fuzzies.  Yeah, now that I put it in writing, it sounds a little crazy to me too.  Anyways...

Luckily for us, our extended family is just as crazy about that mouse as we are.  That's made for some really fun family vacations.  As we're gearing up again to go later this spring, I'm thinking more and more about how to save money and still enjoy ourselves.  Especially with these three bottom-less pits I call my children.  :-)

When it comes to saving money on food at Disneyland, these are a few tips and tricks that have served us well:

*Look to stay at a hotel that serves breakfast (or eat before the park)-- Many hotels in the area serve a continental breakfast.  Start out your day on budget by saving money in this area.  If your hotel does not serve breakfast, make a run to a local supermarket the night before and stock up on granola, yogurt, fruit, and other quick items to serve for breakfast.

*Pack a soft sided cooler-- While you cannot carry in a hard sided cooler or glass containers, Disneyland does allow soft sided coolers.  If we have an extra set of hands, we might pack a small cooler with an ice pack.  I can throw in hard boiled eggs, string cheese, go-gurts, packaged dips, etc.  

*Packing quick snacks-- Even if I'm not packing a soft sided cooler, I pack a ton of snacks in a backpack.  Pretzels, fruit, dried fruit, veggies, granola, bars, etc. are easily thrown in and ready to avoid a meltdown.  Not only will these handy snacks save you a ton of money, they're also great for when you're stuck in line.  I can't tell you how many times my kids have said their hungry right in the middle of the longest line in the park.  Luckily I almost always have something quick and easy with me.

*Drinks-- We're a big water drinking family, but the price of bottled water is outrageous.  So we carry our water bottles.  We fill them up with ice before leaving the hotel in the morning and a few hours later, it's melted nicely to drink.  Most restaurants in Disneyland will refill them free of charge throughout the day.  Additionally, you can always refill with filtered water in either of the baby stations found in both Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure.  On the rare occasion that we do drink something other than water, the kids know that it's a treat and sodas will not be bought at every meal.

*Snacks are overpriced-- I know.  I'm supposed to be giving you ideas on how to save money.  But walking into the day knowing that you will spend more than usual can actually be reassuring.  If I walk into my day not allowing any room for splurging, I get a little grouchy.  So know your limit.  It is one special snack a day or two?  A certainly snack allotment for the trip?  Or a special family treat at dinner?  Know that it will be somewhat pricey and PLAN when you're going to spend that money.  (for us, it's always a Dole Whip and a cinnamon roll)

*Check out menus before hand-- I try to grab means from the restaurants as we walk through Main Street first thing in the morning.  This gives me a chance to check out the selection and prices before we're all hungry and clamoring for food.  It's a lot easier to plan when the kids are happy rather than hungry.  My husband and I will skim what we feel is nutritionally acceptable (if there is such a word at Disneyland) and within our budget.  Then as we're walking to the restaurant later, we can tell that kids what their choices are within that.  Often times, we've also found items that can be shared between parent and kids or between two kids. This has saved us a ton.  Many of the menus can be viewed on Disneyland's website as well.

*Look for items you can split-- I touched on this already, but many of the restaurants have meals that are easily large enough to split.  My husband and I split a soup and sandwich at the Jolly Holiday and still count it as one of our favorite meals.  Rancho Zocalo have great items for splitting and an order of clam chowder in a bread bowl can easily fill two people.

*Food offsite is expensive too-- Know that food outside of the park is expensive too.  So if you're trying to save money by leaving for meals, it's probably going to cost more when you factor in lost park time and travel.  For us, it hasn't been worth the hassle.

  photo Disneyland109_zps29001e40.jpg

So what are your splurges?
And what are your tricks for saving money on food?

*Linked to these Parties

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Book List 2013

Christian Living
Coming Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst (see book club here)
Prayer Starts with a Relationship by Cynthia Bezekw (see book club here)
Days Like These by Kristian and Rachel Anderson (see book club here)
Fearless by Michelle Aguilar (see book club here)
Girl Meets God by Jennifer Winner (see book club here)
Victim of Grace by Robin Jones Gunn (see book club here)
In The Presence of My Enemies by Gracia Burnham (see book club here)
Forgotten God by Francis Chan (see book club here)
12 Days in Africa by Lisa Sanders (see book club here)
Fashioned to Reign by Kris Valloton (see book club here)
Encouragement for Today by the Proverbs 31 Team (see book club here)
Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph (see book club here)

Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson (see book club here)
Nuturing Creativity by Renee Tougas (see book club here)
Bringing up Girls by Dr. James Dobson (see book club here)
4 Moms, 35+Kids (see book club here)
Hope for the Weary Mom by Stacey Thatcher and Brooke McGlothin (see book club here)
The Christian Parenting Handbook by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller (see book club here)
Called to Adopt by Mardie Caldwell (see book club here)
The Mentoring Mom by Jackie Kendall (see book club here)
Steady Days by Jamie Martin (see book club here)
Growing Grateful Kids by Susie Larson (see book club here)

Homemaking, Just for Fun, etc.
Absolutely Organize Your Family by Debbie Lillard (see book club here)
The Bridesmaid by Beverly Lewis (see book club here)
Living Frugal by Jamie Walker (see book club here)
The Winnowing Season by Cindy Woodsmall (see book club here)
The Guardian by Beverly Lewis (see book club here)
Let Love In by Becca Fisher (see book club here)
The Family Camping Handbook by Katie Kimball (see book club here)
For every Season by Cindy Woodsmall (see book club here)
The Secret Keeper by Beverly Lewis (see book club here)
From Frumps to Pumps by Sarah Mae (see book club here)
Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine (see book club here)

Other books read:
Becoming Sister Wives by the Browns (see book club here)
Called Home by Karen DeBeus (see book club here)
Love Times Three by the Dargars (see book club here)
Home is Where the Learning is by Valerie Steimle (see book club here)
Happy, Happy, Happy by Phil Robertson (see book club here)
Grace, Gold and Glory by Gabrielle Douglas (see book club here)
Raising a Soul Surfer by Cheri Hamilton (see book club here)
The Duck Commander Family by the Robertsons (see book club here)
A Home for My Heart by Amy Mateer (see book club here)
Homeschool your First Grader by Beth Jones(see book club here)

Book List 2012

Christian Living
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (see review here)
Made to Crave by Lysa Turkerst (see book club here)
Kisses for Katie by Katie Davis (see book club here)
Crazy Love by Frances Chan (see book club here)
God's Story, Your Story by Max Lucado (see book club here)

Attachment Focused Parenting by Daniel A Hughes (see review here)
The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman (see book club here)
Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas (see book club here)
Raising Motivated Kids by Cheri Fuller (see book club here)
Don't Make Me Come Up There by Kristen Welch (see book club here)
Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp (see book club here)

Homemaking, Just for Fun, etc.
Reluctant Entertainer by Sandy Coughlin (see book club here)
Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron
Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule (see book club here)
The Table Experience by Devi Titus

Other books read:
Love Lifted Me (see review here)
Sisters of the Quilt (see review here)
Every Body Matters (see review here)
The Scent of Cherry Blossoms (see review here)
That's My Son (see review here)
You're Already Amazing (see review here)
Stand by Me (see review here)
101 Things to Do Before Your Kids Leave Home (see review here)
Money Saving Mom's Budget (see review here)
The Fiddler by Beverly Lewis (see book club here)
Mindsets for Moms by Jamie Martin (see book club here)
20 Things Adoptive Parents to Succeed by Sherrie Eldridge (see book club here)
Loving our kids on purpose by Danny Silk (see book club here)
The Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay (see book club here)
Running for My Life by Lopez Lomong (see book club here)
10 Christians Everyone Should Know by John Perry (see book club here)
A Season of Tending by Cindy Woodsmall (see book club here)
Share the Bounty by Benita Long (see book club here)
A Simplier Season by Jessica Fisher (see book club here)
Everything by Mary DeMuth (see book club here)
Fearless Daughters of the Bible by J. Lee Grady (see book club here)
Christmas at Apple Ridge by Cindy Woodsmall (see book club here)
Come to the Table by Neta Jackson (see book club here)

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made: Well, it's been a busy week.  But I did squeeze in a set of Mickey Mouse hair clips and I'm planning on picking up some stuff for February's DIY project.

What I'm Reading: I just finished Beverly Lewis' The Shunning (among several other books for January) and just reviewed Praying for Boys too.  I love this prayer guide.

What I'm Doing: We're working in the yard again this weekend as well as making some time for DIY.  Dave and I took a foster care class this week for continuing ed and hosted some family as well.

What I'm Watching: I've been catching up on Masterchef Jr online.  I missed it the first time it was on and am quite jealous of how these kids can cook.  They're amazing!

What I'm Enjoying:  I love working in the yard and I'm really enjoying getting some bulbs into the ground.  Just praying we  get some rain.

What are you up to?
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