Saturday, October 31, 2015

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made: Worked on halloween costumes... edited yearly photos... made a yummy Sesame Chicken in the crockpot...

What I'm Reading: Without a Word by Jill Kelly (the November bookclub selection)

What I'm Doing: school... dentist apt... and pricing out orthodontists... :-(

What I'm Watching: catching up on Once Upon a Time

What I'm Enjoying: a night to just have fun... having a plan

What are you up to?

Friday, October 30, 2015

2015 October Bookmarks

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*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 October was Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn by Melanie Shankle.

 These are the books I read this month:

When Love Returns by Kim Vogel Sawyer--See my review here.

Dear Mary by Sarah Jakes--See my review here.

The Chocolate touch by Patrick Skene Catling--A great take off the classic King Midas story... The Chocolate Touch follows a little boy who can't get enough chocolate.  Till one day, everything he touches turns to chocolate... what would life be like?  This was a super cute story that the kids loved and we can't wait to read it again.

Our suggested reading for October was Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn by Melanie Shankle--  I had no idea what to expect from this book.  I didn't know Shankle was a blogger, but I quickly fell into her humor filled story telling.  Shankle has a way of telling a story that pulls you in, has you laughing, and ultimate reminds you of the core of motherhood.  It's certainly not a perfect journey, but if you take it with a dose of humor, you'll bounce back just fine.  An easy read, enjoyable, and light at the end of a long parenting day... 

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 Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn by Melanie Shankle.

And come back Nov 20th as we discuss Without a Word by Jill Kelly.

*Linked to these Parties

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Dear Mary {Review}

This is the first book I've read by Sarah Jakes.  The title really caught my attention as I haven't seen much about Mary.  As Jakes concludes, we can learn a lot about Mary from Christ's testimony.  Often times we can learn about the parents by the character of their children.  It's a good premise, but Jakes falls short of reaching her goal.  

Dear Mary is essentially a collection of letters to Mary in which Jakes tries to relate her parenting journey to Mary's.  While there's parallels to be drawn in every parenting journey, Jakes seems to be reaching.  While I was hoping to read fresh insight into Mary's character, this is more a deep look into the author's own character and struggles.

The truth is Jakes does have a lot to offer in the way of insight and encouragement.  For any mom struggling in parenthood, she shares stories to encourage all of us.  She speaks truthfully about how her own poor choices sent her down a rough path, but the Lord extended grace and redeemed her story.

While this book wasn't what I expected, it was encouraging.  But if you're looking for deeper insight into Mary's parenting journey, this isn't the book.

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

Monday, October 26, 2015

Fall Hospitality

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With fall upon us, there's still plenty of opportunities to invite other families into your home.  These are just a few ideas for fellowshipping in the fall season:

*Bonfire--These cooler days and early evenings are a perfect time to host a bonfire.  Stock up on hot dogs, chocolate, and marshmallows, and you have the perfect outdoor dinner to share.

*Soup Potluck--After a full summer menu of salads and grilling, we're craving savory and comforting soups.  Soup is a perfect potluck food for the fall, and paired with a fresh loaf of bread, it's a fun way to gather around the dinner table.

*Crafting Party--The holidays are quickly approaching and a great time to start preparing those gifts and decorations.  Whether it's addressing Christmas cards, making a Christmas wreath, or preparing Thanksgiving decorations, it's always more fun with friends.  So invite a few friends over to spend time together and get some projects done.

*Carmel Apple Party--Carmel Apples are a perfect fall treat.  I've had this idea pinned on Pinterest for about a year and I'd love to try it.  It's a fun way to customize your treat and be inspired by others creations.

*Pumpkin Carving--It's not too late to carve those pumpkins.  Have a few friends over to carve pumpkins and then designate someone to roast the seeds for the group.  The kids will love checking out each other's creations and the adults will enjoy spending the evening together together.

What are you ideas for spending time with others in the fall?

Monday, October 19, 2015

25 Things to Teach My Sons Before They're 25

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1. Car maintenance-- This is the priciest investment that you're making and I want to make sure you know how to maintain it.  Even older cars can run for a long time with the proper care.

2. Opening the car door for a lady-- Yes, I know it's old fashioned, but it's a great sign of respect and one that values others.

3. Clean up your messes-- Picking up one activity before starting another, cleaning the kitchen, or cleaning the bathroom are all important if you're going to survive life, or even college for that matter.

4. Accept a compliment-- When someone tells you "job well done", accept the compliment gracefully. Nod your head and say "Thank you."  You don't have to boast, but acknowledge their compliment with dignity.

5. Be a good loser-- Life doesn't always go your way.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you loose.  They need to know how to lose well and congratulate their opponent.

6. Properly greet someone-- It's all about respect.  Shake someone's hand, make eye contact, and acknowledge them as a human being.

7.  Try your hardest-- Do your vest work.  Try your hardest.  Know that nothing comes easily and you never know if you can do it until you try.

8.  Don't let anyone shame about where you come from-- Your family and your home are where you came from.  Take all those lessons you've learned there and allow them to form you into the best possible version you can be.  And if anyone wants to say something about your past, send them to me.

9. Respect your elders-- The elders in your life have many lessons to teach you.  They've lived through situations and in times that we can only imagine.  And they love you beyond all reason.

10. Make friends with your in-laws-- Some day you'll meet a girl that you love... and then you'll meet her family.  And yes, they are a part of the deal.  Get comfortable, respect their opinion, and know they're going through a transition too.

11. Don't chase girls-- Before you meet THAT girl, there will be others.  Don't chase them.  Get to know them.  Make lots of friends and keep an open mind.  If she's the one, she's not going anywhere. Take your time.

12. But DO take initiative-- If you meet someone you want to get to know, let her know.  Don't play games.

13. Value others-- Find value in others for WHO they are, not what they DO.  Know that people are created in God's image.  And that alone gives them value.  Respect!

14.  Roll with the punches-- Life isn't going to always be fun.  In fact, it's going to be down right vicious at times.  But don't let it knock you down.  Get back on your feet and keep going.  Life closes a door?  Crawl through a window.

15. Laugh at life-- And while you're crawling through that window, have a good laugh.

16. Walk with integrity-- Let your yes be yes and your no be no.  Stand by your word and your principles.  Pick and choose your battles, but when you pick one, stand firm.

17. Take charge of your health-- You've been given a gift of life.  Value it.  Don't play with your health by abusing drugs or alcohol.  Fuel your body with good food, get enough rest, and exercise.

18. Value your body-- That goes for sex too.  Abstinence isn't an easy road.  In fact, it's d*mn hard.  But your body is yours.  Value it.  Be careful who you share it with.  Make sure who you end up sharing it with is worthy of it.

19.  Share your feelings-- Don't be afraid to share how you're feeling with others.  They can't understand how you're feeling and what you're thinking if you don't tell them.  Learn to communicate effectively and with grace.

20.  Building deep relationships-- Deep relationships and friendships are what will see you through your darkest times.  Put effort into them.  Let others know they're valued and be loyal to those around you.  You're never regret building deep relationships.

21.  Don't be afraid to admit when you're wrong-- We're all wrong from time to time.  None of us are perfect.  Others will respect you more if you're willing to admit when you're wrong.  And don't do it grudgingly.  Apologize with humility.

22.  Be on time-- Being on time shows others that you respect their time as well.  Make the effort to arrive a few minutes early and you'll go a long way in showing yourself to be dependable.

23.  Find something you love doing, then learn how to make a living doing that-- This one's tricky.  Sometimes the thing we love aren't the obvious choice for a career.  Use your creativity to find new ways to make a living.

24. Tell the truth--It's not always easy.  Sometimes it gets you into trouble.  Sometimes it can be taken he wrong way.  But speaking the truth in love is always the best choice and will save you from a world of heartache.

25.  Mom and Dad are always on your side-- We are ALWAYS on your side.  Let me say that again... ALWAYS.  From the time you were conceived, we've prayed for you, loved you, and dedicated ourselves to being the best parents for YOU.  There's nothing that you can do to surprise us or make us stop loving YOU.  Somethings may hurt, sometimes we may have to confront you with the truth, but we are ALWAYS, ALWAYS on your side.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made: This seems like it was a crazy busy week.  I was so busy running kids around, I didn't really make anything.  

What I'm Reading: This is what I've really been up to.  I'm readying Dear Mary by Sarah Jakes and If by Mark Batterson.

What I'm Doing: Learning about geckos... maybe that's really what I'm doing.  Having this new pet has definitely been a learning curve.

What I'm Watching: Survivor!

What I'm Enjoying: changing weather... back to school night... baseball games... 

What are you up to?

Monday, October 12, 2015

14 Ideas for Family Night

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 We love having a family night.  Friday nights in our family consist of homemade pizza, stove popped popcorn, and a movie.  Our selections range from Disney to old sports movies to horse movies with an occasional nature movie tossed in.

But every once in awhile, family night needs a little shake up.  We need something new.  So here are 14 Brainstormed, Super Fun, Fantastic Ideas for Family Night:

1. Movie Night--Of course, this if our favorite.  Our usually consists of pizza and popcorn.  But maybe your tradition includes a bowl of ice cream.  Or fresh cookies.  Whatever it is, make it special.

2. Dance session--Crank up the music and dance till you fall on the floor.  Then listen to some great music together.  Mix up the genres and expose your kids to new styles.  Then catch your breath and dance some more.  Giggle and laugh and break loose.

3. Ice Cream and cookies--Maybe it's cookies and ice cream around the table or picnic style on the floor.  Or a buffet of flavors and toppings.  Talk about your week.  Sweets create a bonding experience and open up conversation.

4. Serve others--Search out opportunities to serve together.  Sort clothes at a pregnancy center, serve meals at a homeless shelter, or hand out coffee.  Make sure you debrief with your kids afterwards.  This will open up your kids to so many life lessons.

5. Board Game night--Who doesn't love a night of Monopoly and Scrabble?  There are so many games to accommodate a variety of ages and interests.  This is a great idea for laughing together with your kids.

6. Bike Rides--This is a great time of year for getting outside in the evenings and taking a walk, or better yet a bike ride.  We're finally getting to the age where the kids can all ride and we're having a great time together.

7. Rollerskating--While I have yet to get my husband on skates, the kids and I have had a blast rollerskating together.  It's a fun way to be active together and there's nothing like rollerskates to keep you from taking yourself too seriously.

8. Camp fire with s'mores--Get a fire pit in the backyard.  Doesn't have to be anything too fancy.  Stock up on graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows.  Nothing says family time like a s'more.

9. Campout in the living room-- Whether you pitch a tent or just pull out the sleeping bags, be sure to make shadow puppets with the flashlights, snuggle in together, and tell ghost stories.

10. Host a potluck--Why not host a potluck night with a couple of other families?  Invite some families for dinner or dessert.  Family night can be laughing with other moms and dads.

11. Extended family dinner--On that note, invite the grandparents, aunts, uncles, the whole lot.. sometimes you just need to interact with the larger family.  And an extended family dinner is a great invitation for your kids to serve and learn from other generations.

12. Play restaurant--My kids have a play kitchen that they love.  But even a few little kitchen items like these felt foods can provide hours of entertainment.  Let them serve you for a change.  You'll be surprised how much they remember from their own eating out experiences.  Have fun with it.  Make a poster for the restaurant, change up the decor, and assign jobs.  This one's sure to provide hours of fun.

13. Picnic dinner--With the cooler season, it's the perfect time to enjoy a meal on the patio.  Just the change of scenery can open up a whole new set of ideas and questions and conversation.  Plus it's a great way to get some fresh air and open moves the fun to playing outside after dinner.

14. Funny pictures/video--Our computer has Photo Booth and my kids love to make funny pictures and movies on it.  It has some great filters and ways to change and distort images.  But they really love it when mom and dad get involved.  Not only is it fun to play with all the settings, but it's even funnier to flip through the photos afterwards.

What about you?

What are your favorite ideas for Family Night?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made: I finished the piñata and make a few other decorations for Noah's party.  I also made a pumpkin cinnamon pull apart that I couldn't keep my hands out of.  My sweet tooth is out of control.

What I'm Reading: I'm reading the Bookmarks book club selection for Oct as well as a review book by Sarah Jake.  It's a book about lessons of motherhood from Mary and it's taking an interesting look at motherhood that I never considered before.

What I'm Doing: Going to lots of baseball games... baking all things pumpkin...  celebrating my oldest son...

What I'm Watching:  We've started season 6 of Parenthood, but had to go off of Netflix to find the final season.  We've also been watching Survivor and love it! 

What I'm Enjoying: Cooler weather (only in the high 80's)... baseball...  chapter books... my crockpot... purging... the rowing machine at the gym...

What are you up to?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

When Love Returns {Review}

When Love Returns is book 3 in the Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy series and continues the story of Suzanne and Alexa, a mother and daughter team sorting out the past.  This book opens up with Suzanne back in her family home in Kansas running Alexa's B&B while Alexa is in Indiana looking for her birth mother.  Both women struggle with birth relationships during this season.  Alexa wavers between wanting a relationship with her birth mom and wanting to suffer for abandoning a helpless baby.  Suzanne aches for the daughter she never knew while fearful of loosing the daughter that saved her life.  Will these two women finally be able to sort out the past and move forward?  Or will family relationships forever hold them back?

This book is the culmination of all 3 books, building on the characters that we've come to know in this trilogy.  Paul, the lost love who is also a part of Suzanne's past... Shelly, Suzanne's sister that struggles with her own hurt feelings... Anna-Grace, the adopted cousin who preparing for her wedding... Linda and Tom, lifelong friends of Suzanne who come alongside Alexa in her journey...

All these characters collide in the third book of this series as we discover what's to ultimately become of this mother and daughter.  The themes of adoption, forgiveness, and reconciliation all ring true as they struggle through very real realities of life.  A very satisfying ending to a well-written trilogy.  

*Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge by the author for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Preschool Activity: Marble Painting

5 Things I'm Loving This Week

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Flannel Sheets
  It's finally getting cool enough to put the flannel sheets on our bed.  They're extra soft and snuggly in a way that cotton sheets just aren't.  And I'm loving this new sign of the season.

Reasonable Plumbing Bills
  Just before we left for the weekend, we noticed a major leak in our kitchen pipes.  Thankfully it wasn't draining into our walls, but still it was a huge inconvenience considering weekend plans and overtime.  So we headed out of town with plans to have it fixed Monday morning.  As Monday morning came around, I was dreading the plumber call.  Luckily, as it turns out, it wasn't that bad.  Living in an older home, plumbing issues make me nervous, but this time, it was just a T joint that needed being replaced.  A couple of hours and I was seeing clean dishes again.

Learning to Draw Books
  Lydia's taking an Art class at school this year and the teacher's focusing a lot on sketching.  And Lydia's really caught the bug.  So we've been checking out How To Draw books from the library and she's studying how it all relates to shapes and design.  It's really feeding into her creativity.

Pumpkin, Pumpkin, PUMPKIN!
  Tis' the season, right?  I've been loving hanging out in the kitchen baking pumpkin chocolate chips muffins and pumpkin desert loaf.  And loving the smell of all deliciousness baking... despite the 80 degree weather.  It may be hot outside, but it's fall in my house.

Being Outdoors More
  Since it's turned a lot cooler, we've been hiking, and trail walking, and waterfall exploring... we've been discovering all sorts of new natural treasures.  To see the look of wonder and amazement in my kid's eyes makes all the prep worth it.  We've been loving it.

What things are you loving this week?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

2015 Fall To Do List

 Well, I'm a few weeks into fall and just getting around to making a To Do List.  This is my favorite time to celebrate the season and we get to celebrate lots of birthdays as well.  And it's the gateway to the holiday season.  What's not to love about fall?  So without further ado, here are just a few items on our 2015 Fall To Do List:

*Celebrate Noah's 10th Birthday
*Go to the Pumpkin Patch
*Scrapbook through the summer
*Carve pumpkins
*Toast pumpkin seeds
*Try 2-3 new pumpkin recipes
*Make leaf rubbings
*Plan ahead for Christmas
*Plan ahead for Lydia's birthday
*Attend a couple of field trips
*Attend lots of Fall Ball games
*Go to a Harvest Festival (or maybe two)
*Take the kids' annual photos
*Hike a volcano
*Do a pumpkin science experiment

What's on your Fall To Do List?

Monday, October 5, 2015

13 Television Characters that are Adopted

Having walked this crazy foster care/adoption road, my eyes have been opened to how adoption is portrayed in media.  And for the most part, it's hard to find healthy adopted characters in film and television.  I want my son to see that adoption isn't a disability.  One can be adopted and functional and ... human.  So I did a little research and came up with a list of 13 Television Characters that are adopted.  Do any of these names ring a bell?

Victor Graham, Parenthood

Clark Kent, Smallville

Buddy the Dinosaur, Dinosaur Train

Natalie Green, Facts of Life

Punky Brewster

Albert Ingalls, Little House on the Prairie

Lily Pritchett-Tucker, Modern Family

Arnold and Willis Jackson, Different Strokes

Claire Bennett, Heroes

Amanda Tannen, Ugly Betty

Joey Donavon, Gimme a Break

Zola, Grey's Anatomy

Henry Mills, Once Upon a Time

Where else are you seeing adoption normalized in television?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made: Marble painting thank you cards... Lego birthday banner... started a Lego piñata...

What I'm Reading: Reading a new Kim Vogel Sawyer book in the trilogy, but almost done.  Picking up the Oct bookmarks book soon.

What I'm Doing: Full day... book sale at the library... farmer's market... healthy living family event...

What I'm Watching: Parenthood on Netflix... we're hook and over half way done with Season 5.

What I'm Enjoying: Working out on the rower... outdoor living... cooler weather... seasonal treats...

What are you up to?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Thursday, October 1, 2015

5 Fun Way to Enjoy the Fall

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 The weather is cooling off and the seasons are changing.  Our summer has been HOT.  So hot, in fact, that our main source of outdoor activity has involved swimming, swimming, and more swimming.  So in this interim season, we're itching to get outside and have some fun.

And if you're looking for frugal ideas to enjoy this fall, here's just a few things on our agenda:

1.  Hiking-- If you've been following any of our Youtube videos, you'll see that we've been doing a ton of hiking in the last 6 weeks.  We've picked some awesome places around us and dove right into exploring all the wonderful sites around us.  And it's been incredible.  Ask some friends, make a list, and pick a day.  Tie on some tennis shoes and enjoy where you live.

2.  Pumpkin/ Apple Picking-- Pumpking picking is a huge tradition in our family in the fall.  Stumbling through a pumpkin patch, breathing in the fresh air and finding the perfect pumpkin to carve... It's one of the highlights of the season.  We go every year and the kids are always asking when we're going again.

3.  Picnic in the Park--Whether it's a romantic picnic for two or lunch with the family, pack up some crackers, meat, and cheese... or plan a BBQ with extended family and friends.  Let the kids play, lay back and watch the clouds, kick the soccer ball around... and don't forget to finish off your meal with some apple crisp from those apples you're going to pick.

4. Bike Riding-- Since the weather's cooling off, Noah and I have been taking bike rides on Fridays.  Friday evenings work well for both of us and it's a great time for us to connect and get a little physical activity as well.

5.  Bonfire and S'mores-- We have a fire pit in the backyard and for most of the summer, it's just too hot to enjoy.  But with the cooler weather, I'm dreaming of  crisp Saturday nights, snuggled around a fire, cuddling up to my husband.  And sticky preschool fingers as we roast marshmallows and make s'mores.  Layer on sweatshirts and stock up on chocolate.

What's your favorite way to enjoy fall?

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