Friday, May 27, 2016

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made:  Curriculum plans... hahaha... I'm in end of the school year mode and I've been drawing up plans and making a list of curriculum for next year.  I so started working on fall birthdays.  There are quite a few things to get done for my 5 year olds party so I might start that this weekend.

What I'm Reading:   I just started A Well Trained Mind.  I'm hoping to work my way through some education philosophy this summer and I decided to start with the thickest one.

What I'm Doing:  Drinking Good Earth tea... spending time with Grandma... making a summer list... editing videos... scrapbooking...

What I'm Watching:  I finally wanted the movie Serendipity.  I've never seen in all this time.  But I loved it.  Watched it last Saturday and so good.

What I'm Enjoying: Cool weather... City of Ember series... chicken salad... 

What are you up to?

2016 May 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 May was American Frugal Housewife by Lydia Marie Child.

These are the books I read this month:

An Insider's Guide to Praying for the World by Brian C Stiller--See my review here.

The People of Sparks by Jeanne Duprau-- Following the City of Ember, The People of Sparks welcome the Emberites into their small community, but hospitality only extends so far in a post-Apocaliptic world where resources are short.  Stories of world wars emerge and both communities quickly realize the power of fear and uncertainty.  Started this series with my 5th grader, but I've took off on my own after I got hooked.

More by Todd Wilson-- See my review here.

Our suggested reading for March was The American Frugal Housewife by Lydia Marie Child-- So I picked a stinker.  I had no idea how dated this book was when I first picked it.  But it quickly became apparent when I tried to read it at the beginning of the month.  For awhile I tired to get past the language and antiquated ideas to see if there was any meat I could extract from this book.  But it became impossible for me to continue on.  It was all just too much.  Sorry guys.  This one was a poor choice.  Better luck next month?

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 The America Frugal Housewife by Lydia Marie Child.

And come back June 24th as we discuss The Purpose and Power of Love and Marriage by Myles Munroe.

*Linked to these Parties

Thursday, May 26, 2016

More {Review}

Author Todd Wilson's new book, More, explores the idea of Christianity, calling, and what does it mean to "live life to the fullest measure."  What individual hasn't wrestled with the question of identity and purpose?  "Is this all there is?  Why am I here?  What was I made for?"  Beyond the church strategies and programs, what we all long for is a vision bigger than ourselves.

Following the path of Be-Do-Go, Wilson takes his readers from finding their identity in Christ, to knowing their purpose, to identifying their area of influence.  It all starts in the general calling of every Christian to be a disciple making disciplines.  From that rooted position of living in Christ, readers find their specific calling blossom, leading into the More of life.

Outlined in simple identifiable steps, seeped with passion for Christ, and challenging to the core, More was one of the most life jolting books I've read in awhile.  Wilson's book is solid in theology and an easy read blend of Scripture, story, and action steps.  I currently have this book resting on my nightstand and plan to read it a second time.  Although an easy read, More is quite deep and deserves a re-read to effect deep change.

This is a definite read for anyone struggling with vision and purpose, and most Christians in general wanting to grow.  I can't recommend this one highly enough.

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

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

10 Easy Ways to Go Green

Going green doesn't have to be complicated.  In fact, going green is simply a million little baby steps stacked up over time.  So if you're looking a few more baby steps, these are some simple ways we're adding green into our home these days.  And despite the initial investment, these baby steps have saved us a little money as well.  Saving green while going green?  I'm in!

*Replace Disposable Sandwich Bags--If you have kids packing school lunches, disposable baggies can add up quickly, both in cost and trash.  We've found that our reusable sandwich boxes have lasted us for years and are easily cleaned in the dishwasher.  There are quite a variety available including these soft bags from Mixed Bag Designs.

*Replace Disposable Snack Cups--There's a HUGE variety of snack cups available from characters to portion control to stainless steel.  You name it, you can find it.  And with the amount of snacks a kid eats, these pay for themselves quickly.  Not a parent?  I love these for packing my own snacks in smaller portions.

*Carry a Reusable Water Bottle--We all need to be drinking more water and it's so tempting to pick up a plastic water bottle on a hot day.  But investing in a water bottle will keep you from buying all that plastic and save you some money in the long run.

*Stop using Paper Towels--I love using microfiber clothes to clean in my home.  They clean very well and are easily laundered.  For spills in the kitchen, I keep an extra supply of washable dishrags as well.  For about the past three or four years, we've been virtually paper towel free and going strong.

*Ditch the Plastic Grocery Bags--Our grocery store sells these inexpensively and even rewards customers for using them.  We get so much off our bill for each bag we bring in.  It's been a great incentive for remembering to bring our bags.

*Invest in Cloth Napkins--There's such a variety of colors, designs, and sizes, from very basic to these bright colorful napkins pictured here.  We have a couple of sets of dark colored napkins for family nights and a set of fancier napkins for fun.

*Use a Reusable Coffee Cup--These single cup coffee pots have become so popular, but that little cup gets thrown away every time.  What a great idea to keep all that plastic out of landfills!

*Purchase some Reusable Produce Bags--These too come in a variety of sizes including bags with smaller holes for spices and bulk items.  And because they're so light weight, produce bags don't add to the cost of your items.

*Use the Backside of Every Piece of Paper--As a homeschooling family, we go through a lot of paper, printing projects or logs to be turned in.  Or those times when I hit print before realizing this wasn't quite the file I was looking for.    All that paper goes into a pile on my desk to be reused for math problems or grocery lists or handmade cards.

*Bring Your Own To-Go Containers--Going out to dinner?  Why not take along your own to-go container?  With the variety available today, there are even collapsible containers that can fold flat until after dinner.  And you won't have to worry about throwing away the styrofoam container after you have your leftovers.

How are you taking steps to going green?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Ashland, Or's Agave Restaurant

Once a year my husband and I plan a quick weekend away to relax, recharge, and reconnect.  It's usually a couple of days filled with sleeping, reading, seeing a play, and eating ridiculously good food.  When we went away in April, I was obsessed with capturing images of this good food to share with you.  And hopefully inspire you to check out some of our favorite restaurants in the little town of Ashland, Oregon.

This first place is called Agave and my husband and I heard rumors of this place about 4 years ago.  We had a friend suggest it to us, and unfortunately we drove all over town into the countryside to find it.  We failed miserably.  But when we went back the following year we stumbled upon it at the end of E Main St and were astonished by how affordable and delicious it really was.

Fast forward to this past April and we were again on the hunt for  lunch at Agave.  Imagine our disappointment when we wandered down E Main St only to find it wasn't there.  I almost went into a panic, wondering where I was going to find fresh, affordable tamales.  Luckily this time, it only took a little wandering to find their new location  just off E Main St on Granite St.

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Agave's new location offers both indoor and outdoor seating with a larger dining room which we opted for on a chilly day.  The menu included so many wonderful options from soups and salads, to tacos and tamales.  It was hard to know what to choose.  I opted for the chicken and green chile tamale, while my husband chose one each of the grilled and fried fish tacos.

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We were absolutely blown away by the freshness and flavor of our selections.  The tamale practically melted in my mouth.  The chile sauce had just the first amount of tartness and the masa was moist.  My husband couldn't stop talking about his tacos, even preferring the fried fish which isn't typically his taste.  Our waitress also brought us a house sauce to garnish our lunch.  This light sour mayo was tangy to the taste and accented the flavors perfectly.

Our experience at Agave was simply wonderful.  I can hardly wait to visit again and explore more options on their menu.  I'm sure it won't disappoint.  

Have you been to this area?
What were some of your favorite finds?

For more information: check out Agave's website here.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made:  Lydia and I made Peanutty Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins for her art class party.  They were so yummy and brought back great memories of baking with my Grandma.

What I'm Reading: I'm reviewing an amazing books and also reading The People of Sparks which is a sequel to City of Ember that I read last month.

What I'm Doing:  The rodeo is in town and we're going to the parade this weekend.  The boys also have baseball this weekend and my husband is doing a bike race.

What I'm Watching:  EEEKKK!!!  Now that Survivor is over, I'm not sure what I'll be watching.  We have been catching up on The Amazing Race, but not much other than that.

What I'm Enjoying:  baseball... popcorn... homemade bread... The Amazing Race... 

What are you up to?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

5 Things Challenge (5/17/16)

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Are you ready for a 5 Things Challenge?

2nd Grade Egg Drop Video:

Last Day of School Video:

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Celebrating Our Last Day of School... at Homeschool!

 Even though we homeschool, we love celebrating the Last Day of School before summer.  How do we make the day special?  How do you celebrate in your homeschool?

Youtube Mommy Meetup Playlist:

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

2nd Grade Egg Drop

 Lydia's 2nd grade science class had an egg drop and we were challenged to protect her egg.  Will it break?

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Monday, May 16, 2016

My Top 5 Parenting Books

Throughout the years of blogging here at Creative2xmom, I've embarked on this crazy, grand journey of motherhood.  And like many things, the reality hasn't quite scripted like the fantasy.  Challenging, tough, and full of both tears and laughter, this crazy parenting road has taken more twists and turns than I could have ever imagined.

Along this path, I've reach for inspiration in friends and books, desperate to learn from those who have gone before me.  And through the years i've found that there are a handful of books that have both challenged me and changed the way I parent.  These are the books I reference again and again and learn from in each reading.

Here's a quick run down on those that are worth their weight in gold:

Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp

Several years ago, we did a book club series on this book and I was really challenged with the idea of capturing my child's heart in their growing years.  Discipline is addressed as restorative and the goal is a change of heart, not just a change of behavior.  

Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas

This book was much less a how to parent and much more a how is parenting changing you book.  The focus isn't on the child, but rather on how God uses children to "grow" parents.  What type of child am I hoping to raise?  And how can I lead them where I haven't dared to go?

Love and Respect in the Family by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

This book sits at the top of my list for how I want to parent.  It really opened my eyes for how males and females communicate, and developing my relationship with my sons.  Again, this book reminds us of the fact that we are here to "guide" our children, not control them.  And that requires a development of relationship and communication.

The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell

This book focuses on how we give and receive love.  Taking the idea of 5 Love Languages and putting them in the context of our children, Chapman and Campell give practical advice for communicating love to our children in a way that they can understand and receive it.

Strong and Kind by Korie Robertson and Chrys Howard

I had my doubts about this book when I first picked it up, but it's become my most recent favorite.  Robertson encourages parents to focus on what kind of family culture they hope to create and begin developing that culture one trait at a time.  It's not a one size fits all book, but rather an encouragement to seek the Lord in discovering how he sees your specific family.

So what about you?
What books have influenced your parenting journey?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Weekend Links

Assemblage Art: Part 3

This Week:

What I Made:  We made a yummy dessert for Mother's Day and have been finishing up Science Fair projects.  I have some scrapbooking on the order next.

What I'm Reading:  I'm reviewing a book right now that I'm not really ready to talk about, but it's very good.  

What I'm Doing:  I'm so anxious for summer break.  :-)  We're limping through the end of the school year.  So we're reading, doing experiments, baking, going to baseball games, and hosting family.

What I'm Watching:  Once Upon a Time... homeschool curriculum vlogs... 

What I'm Enjoying:  sunshine... muffins... reading... My Utmost for His Highest...

What are you up to?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Sensory Bottles for Toddlers #4

 Sensory bottles for little ones...

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An Insider's Guide to Praying for the World {Review}

Brian C Stiller's book is filled with insider information about how to pray for countries all over the world.  From Sri Lanka to Kenya, travel the world through Stiller's experiences, find yourself deeply moved by personal stories, and activated to a fuller prayer life for nations all across the globe.

What I liked about the book:
1. Short chapters
2. Story telling style
3. Specific prayer request for each country
4. Variety of countries covered

What I didn't like about the book:
1. Lack of maps/illustrations
2. Story telling misses the broader feel of the country

Overall, I really loved the layout of this book.  Each chapter includes a short story illustrating a need for that particular country, statistics about the country, applicable Scripture, and sample prayer.  Many of the countries listed in this book don't get media time and the issues happening there are hidden.  This guide provides a wonderful look into places I may never know about and gives me specific action steps for prayer.  I would absolutely recommend this book for anyone looking for more direction in their prayers or just looking for a way to pray for the world.

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

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Our 2016 Summer Bucket List

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Summer's coming and we're making out our bucket list.  Gonna take a few minutes to breathe and then jump into the fun.  

What's on your summer bucket list?

Make homemade lemonade
Make wooden hanger necklace holder
Stay up and star gaze
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Have a water fight
Play with water balloons
Make homemade ice cream
Go on a family bike ride
Go to the lake
Get snow cones
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Have root beer floats
Go to Lake Tahoe
Build your own pizza night
Plant some strawberries
Create an obstacle course
Feed the ducks
Roast marshmallows
Create geodes
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Make smores
Use the slip n slide
Scrapbook school photos
Make wind spirals
Take trampoline lessons
Learn 5 new hairstyles
Make fairy houses
Pick blackberries
Visit Grandma's
Make a Buckeye for Daddy
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Take swim lessons
Go to a dollar movie
Host a Desert Potluck
Check out the Farmer's Market
Read for the library challenge
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Try some new salad recipes
Make campfire cones
Go to VBS
Read for B&N challenge
Play croquet
Make sponge bombs
Create ice cream pops
Bake cookies
Keep a summer journal
Take summer dance classes

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

DITL May 10, 2016: IN N OUT Field Trip

 We had a great time visiting our local IN N OUT restaurant and going on a tour, plus the kids got lunch afterwards.

Our previous DITL:
April 14, 2016: Mary Poppins & Swimming Laps

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Top 10 Items To Keep In Your Car This Summer

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*My kiddos enjoying ice cream at Lake Tahoe (June '15)

 Summer is right around the corner and with it, adventure awaits.  For our little family of five, we've started planning trips to see the grandparents, hikes in our area, and lots of trips to the pool and parks.  But if there's one thing I've learned, it's that you can never be too prepared with kids.  So in an attempt to minimize the unexpected, I've come up with my Top 10 Items to Keep In Your Car This Summer:

1. Basic First Aid--Nothing fancy, but I pack band-aids, neosporen, and a spray cleaner for cuts and scrapes.

2. Extra Flip-Flops--I can't tell you how many times we've been out and someone's flip-flops have broken.  So I try to keep 1-2 extra pairs of $1 flip-flops in a larger size in case of emergency.

3. Jumper Cables--Not the most pleasant thought, but absolutely necessary if you're thinking of making a longer car trip.  Don't get stuck without them.

4. Picnic Blanket--We often find ourselves making last minute day trips to parks or hiking and it's nice to have the picnic blanket all ready packed in the car.

5. Sunscreen--We live where it's very hot and sunburn very quickly.  Having extra sunscreen means we always have lots to reapply at the lake or around town if necessary.

6. Ziplock bags--Perfect for wet clothes or simply being carsick, I always keep several ziplocks stashed away in the car.

7. Roll of paper towels/napkins--To go along with the ziplock bags.  Perfect for cleaning up messes and can be tossed in the ziplock when you're done.

8. Roll of toilet paper--Never get caught at an outhouse again without toilet paper.  When we're traveling up to Grandma's house, there isn't a lot of places to stop for the bathroom.  So we keep an extra roll of toilet paper in the car in case the outhouses are out.

9. Beach towels--Lots of trips to the pool and lake mean beach towels.  So as soon as ours come out of the dryer, they go right back into the car.

10. Tampons/pads--I don't even want to think about getting caught away from home and needing one of these.  Whether hiking, at the lake, or on a road trip, I try to keep several stashed in the car for an unexpected surprise.

Leave me a comment below and tell me, what are your Summer Must Haves for the car?
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