Book Review: Grandma Kisses

Did you hear?

I’m a grand-mama!! (I know, I know everyone here already knows. I just like saying it again anyway! :D)

Sweet little Gabe is surrounded by so many folks who adore him. What a sweet blessing he is for our family.

This month, Tommy Nelson sent me a copy of Grandma Kisses for review.

What timing! I already know exactly where this book is going… right to little Gabe’s house.

As I read through the pages of this book, I really thought about my Great-Grandmother. She always loved me tight.

She baked the best things.

She read to me and she singing would fill her home.

Thoughts of her flowers have inspired quilts and gardening projects of my own.

When I was young, I couldn’t imagine not being able to call her on the phone or spend summers with her. Now I miss her so much that my heart just hurts some days.

She was a lovely woman who was compassionate, warm and kind. She made many special memories for me and I loved her.

The Lord willing, I want to be that kind of grand-mama for my own grand-babies. I want them to know that I’m always praying for them, their parents and their siblings. I want them to know I call them by name before my Lord.

What a sweet blessing it is to be a grandparent.

This book was such a charming little book.

The soft illustrations are also bright and engaging.

Each page depicts a sweet scene between a grandchild and their grandma.
I especially love the page where the grandma is sitting that little one in her lap to read her Bible.

I spent so many afternoons in my Great-grandmother’s flowers. She would always send me home with a bouquet (as she did other family members). I remember my mama moving into a new home and buying a hydrangea bush for her yard because that is what her grandmother had and it just made things feel like home.

They are all such sweet memories!

This would be a precious gift to a new baby, or even a new grandparent. It’s 20 pages long and has rounded corners and a padded cover. It’s a perfect gift for a new baby!

Happy 3rd Birthday, Jackson!

Happy Birthday, Jackson. You are a sweet boy and we love you dearly!

It seems like yesterday, I was holding you in my arms and you were smiling sweetly at me.

These days, you love playdough and sharpie markers. You think my purse is your personal stash of “cool stuff” and I find various chapsticks, my keys, driver’s license, and whatever else stored away for you to find later.

You love to snuggle (which I love <3). You have an infectious laugh and can pout like a world champion.

At two, you were still such a baby. Now, I’m beginning to see you as a little boy.

I love this boy in this shirt. I have no idea why but it is my favorite shirt, *ever*!!!

 

Two of my men riding the carousel at our local mall….

Burp Cloth Tutorial

This burp cloth tutorial is actually a re-post from an old blog tutorial.

I’m asked quite often about these. They have become part of our “go-to” baby gift (especially now that we have the embroidery machine to personalize them).

This is part of how we prepare for babies and pregnancy. I gave up on store-bought burp cloths a LONG time ago.

I have started making my own because I found after one child, the gauze cotton burp cloth/cloth diaper things they sell usually don’t last more than a few months of washing before they begin to look horrible and I can’t imagine how they must feel for a little one who has their head rested on all those little fuzz balls!

…and this is even if it is washed with baby detergent.

(An update, I have found these that I adore. They are cool and wash well.

I am still planning to sew my own for our newest baby. I just like having matching sets and there is something sweet about a baby being surrounded by lots of handmade things that were stitched with love! I also know that my burp cloths hold up over time (I’ve had some now through several babies!). Baby needs are really an investment. I want them to last!

These don’t take very long and make and require very simple sewing skills.

They make super-cute gifts, especially if you make matching sets.

(BTW, if you have a serger, this process would be much faster and I’m sure somewhat easier…I don’t, so we’ll be doing it all on a standard sewing machine.)

To do this, you will need:

  • 100% cotton fabric
  • print (very small amount) to match blankets, if desired
  • trim to match blankets, if desired
  • cotton batting
  • thread to match

Cut Your Fabric

Start by cutting your fabric and batting. The measurements are 13″x17″. You need one piece of batting this size, and two pieces of white fabric.

Layer Your Fabric

Layer them, just like you would a quilt if you were sewing it on the machine: 2 layers of fabric and then the batting on top (this will make sure the batting is on the inside when you turn it).

Pin all layers together.

Stitch Layers

Stitch around all four sides, leaving a 2″ opening.

Trim seams, especially corners and turn right side out.

Stitch the opening closed.

Iron flat.

Mark and Stitch Folding Lines

Fold, lengthwise, the burp cloth into thirds and mark down this line with straight pins to create a stitching line.

Stitch. This is what the stitching lines should look like:

Adding Border and Trim

Using your leftover fabric from making blankets, you will need a strip about 5″x14″. Iron under 1/4″ on top and bottom edges.

Pin fabric at the top and bottom of strip. If you are using a trim, it will be pinned into place as well.

Stitch 1/8″ from edge on top and bottom. (Use a color thread to match the fabric on top and then white thread in the bobbin so that you won’t see stitching on the back.)

Trim the sides to 1/4″ and tuck them in to match the edges of the burp cloth. Stitch 1/8″ from the edge. Cut away dangling threads.

Press well, and you are done!

I would love to see your projects if you decide to use one of my tutorials. Leave me a comment and let me know how it worked for you.

If you would like to stay in touch, please follow my page of facebook or twitter.

Community Fellowship Reminder- September 8th

We would love to have you! Message me for details.

Homeschooling – Our First Week!

We’re beginning our second week of homeschooling for the 2015-2016 school year.

We have been homeschooling now for 21 years! Each year brings unique success and challenges.

Homeschooling for 2015-2016 is off to a great start. Teaching Textbooks, The Mystery of History, Illuminations, and The McGuffey Readers are our curriculum favorites, so far!

Each of these curriculum choices have some huge strengths I thought I would share-

Teaching Textbooks:

We are continuing to use Teaching Textbooks for math. We love it– there are no other words.

The children are learning. It is self-teaching and self-grading. You can read more about our experience with Teaching Textbooks here.

We currently have six students using this math curriculum.

Illuminations:

Most of our other curriculum is scheduled through the Illuminations software.

I was excited to give it a try this year and a little nervous.

I always have this fear of starting something new for two reasons: not being able to fully grasp how to use it properly before the school year begins, AND spending money on something I end up absolutely hating that I have to use for the rest of the year. (UGH! I really hate that second reason!)

My first week with Illuminations was AWESOME.

I love everything about this software.

I was able to choose the homeschooling curriculum choices I wanted to use and with one click, my entire schedule is created.

I posted about Illuminations here. There is also a short video here:

Yesterday, I created a quick video on a neat feature for those who might be interested in seeing a little more about how the curriculum works.

You can view it here:

The Mystery of History 1:

We are also using The Mystery of History 1 with the MOH supplemental collection. (I’m going to write a post devoted to this curriculum along. I have been so impressed with the creation-based lessons and how they are teaching my children to relate history straight to the Bible.)

Each day it tells me what I need to read through with my children, as well as the suggested assignments.

Emma and Meredith working on their creation notebooks:

We’ve been following the plan and MY CHILDREN are coming to tell me that they ADORE what we are learning!! (Now THAT is worth it’s weight in gold!)

Ben and Tim drawing self-portraits:

The McGuffey Readers:

Another addition to our homeschooling curriculum this year, are the McGuffey’s Readers
.

I can’t even tell you how many years I have wanted a copy for my home. I a very dear friend at church blessed us with a brand new complete set this summer. WHAT A HUGE BLESSING!

My littles are already several pages into one of the books. It is absolutely amazing to me that children can be drawn into such simple lessons. So many homeschooling publishers try and make everything bright and shiny. In the end, if it’s written well, chances are the children will love it!

Week 1 was a big success.

I’m looking forward to this school year more than I’ve looked forward to one in a very long time.

Just for the sake of keeping things real this week…homeschooling just makes a mess!

So how about all of you?

Are you using something that adore?? What didn’t you like about your last school year?

ETHAN Project: Enjoy the Mess!

The last week of the summer 2015 ETHAN Project assignments has arrived.

We’ve enjoyed each week of this project- each one brought an adventure.

We made lots and lots of memories.

“Enjoy the Mess” is the final assignment.

I’ll admit, this one gave me a little bit of a scare. I mean, I spend lots and lots of time trying NOT to make a mess, and now I’m supposed to make one?

I decided to just spend the day having fun with my kiddos.

We really didn’t worry about the mess we were making and there were lots of giggles…lots of “COOL” from my older children. We just had a good time.

I looked over my Pinterest boards, and one single project stood out in my mind.

I picked up my roll of duck tape and a roll of heavy gauge painters plastic and started taping.

For the morning project, I divided the tap in half and then in half again. I cut and taped along those edges to give me two wider sections. I then taped the long edges together.

I taped about half of one of the short ends together and all but about a foot and a half of the opposite short end.

We hooked up a fan and made our own indoor wind tunnel. The children and I played inside of that thing for hours! They brought Duplos and baby dolls.

They talked to Daddy on the other side of the tunnel. We had a great time.

After nap time, I taped one short end together completely and all but about an inch and a half of the other end. I added a tube of blue food coloring and started filling the plastic with water.

It never got terribly thick, but it was a few inches. My younger children stayed out playing on that big water mat a good bit that afternoon. My youngest was more excited about the mud puddles and enjoying life in his diaper.

I know it’s been hot but there is something about adding water to the warm summer air that makes for a perfect afternoon!

Definitely, FUN IN THE SUN.

This was one of my favorite projects of the summer!

…and “Mr. 2” who dressed himself for the water play:

How about you? Do you have a favorite memory from this last summer?

I’m sad to see this project ending.

I’ve learned a great deal from the ladies over at Grounded and Surrounded about blogging and they have given me great ideas for making memories with my own children.

If you have a chance, pop over and see how the bloggers are finishing their summer.

Thank you, Sammi and Sarah for all of your hard work and for allowing me to be part. It was a blast!

ETHAN Project: Enjoy the Drive

We have had the best summer.

There have been so many memories made and many projects completed. I don’t remember another summer when we were able to accomplish so much.

This week’s ETHAN project assignment was to Enjoy the Drive.

As it happened, Paul had a work trip to Tampa, Florida and asked me to join him for a few days.

It rained and rained and rained, but Florida is amazingly beautiful. It was still a lovely drive and it was actually a little cooler than here at home.

I tried Japanese food for the first time. It was delicious and light- I’ve already started pinning some recipes I would like to try. One favorite was a ginger/carrot/celery dressing. It was amazing.

We also stopped by Freddy’s. If you’ve never eaten at a Freddy’s, you really must.

We got to see alligators.

We visited Indian Rocks Beach. As was the case most of the entire rest of the week, it was raining, but we still walked along the coastline as the sun was going down.

The sand was different than any I’ve seen before. I’m always amazed how different the sand is between beaches.

We picked up shells.

Mostly, we just spent some time. He wasn’t by himself and I didn’t have to miss him this week.

It was a pretty perfect week and we enjoyed the drive very much.

If you would like to read along with some other Ethan Project adventures, pop over to Grounded and Surrounded to see what the other ladies have been doing this week.

Enjoy the mess is the last challenge of the summer. It’s not too late to do something memorable this summer. (Although honestly, this challenge scares me just a little.)

Community Fellowship Reminder- August 11th

We would love to have you! Message me for details.

Book Review: I Love You Even When



Never once did I ever doubt my mama loved me.

I have so many sweet memories of her.

She was never one to allow me to get away with just anything, but when I did make mistakes, she was always there to scoop me up, dust off my pain and tell me she loved me.

I hope my children realize the depths of my love.

I hope they know that no matter where they go, no matter what path they take, no matter where they end up in life, my love knows no boundaries. I am their mama.

I was loved with an amazing love by my mom. She knew I wasn’t perfect but she trained and loved me anyway, even when I strayed from the path she wished.

This month, I’ve been reviewing a little book for Tommy Nelson called I Love You Even When.

I love that the little bears have all come from different places to parents who made them their own.

I loved that the little cubs made mistakes, sometimes they just didn’t listen and their parents scooped them up, dusted them off, and loved them anyway.

I loved that even the parents made mistakes (after all, we sure do!). Life is one big exercise in making mistakes and learning from them. The children loved them in their short-comings because they learned from their parents.

What a beautiful story!

From the back:
“Misadventures, mishaps, and misbehavings lead these three adorable bear cubs to discover that Mama Bear and Papa Bear love them no matter what- even when they do wrong. Full of sweetness and silliness, this story reassures children that they are loved unconditionally- by their parents, their grandparents and God.”

I Love You Even When is a soft cover, rounded-edge book with 20 pages.

It would be a charming addition to any child’s library.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for a review. The opinions are completely my own!

Book Review: Say and Pray Bible

When my oldest was very young, I used to sit in her bed with her each afternoon and read through her favorite books.

The one that most stands out in my mind was a well known author who writes books with simple story lines. His books are full of colorful, fun illustrations and simple sight words.

Courtney and I would sit for hours in the afternoon as she read the words she was seeing.

It was a sweet time of bonding for us, and she walked away with a sense of having done something big!

I will cherish those memories always.

This month, Tommy Nelson send me a copy of the Say & Pray Bible for review.

A soft-covered book with rounded edges, this little Bible is 40 pages in length.

Each two-page spread has a simple Bible story, Bible verse and short prayer. It also has easy sight words for toddlers and new readers.

There are many Bible stories including the following: Joseph’s Colorful Coat, Baby in a Basket, David Sings, Brave Queen Esther and Jesus Grows Up.

From the back of the book:

“Say and Pray the Bible with Your Little Ones!

Curl up together and experience the Bible in a fresh, new way. Young children will enjoy pointing to and naming objects on each page for early learning. Most important, they’ll discover favorite, age-appropriate Bible stories with Scripture verses and short prayers that also hide God’s Word in young hearts.”

I was given a copy of this toddler book in exchange for my review. I was not required to give a positive opinion- it is all my own!

Preparing for Pregnancy and Babies

An “experienced” mom. That is what I am these days!

I don’t feel old enough to be “experienced”, but these lines on my face, this gray hair and all the photos lined up across my living room wall tell stories of days and months and years. Times that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

I’ve learned a little bit along the way. Not having grown up with siblings or around babies, these lessons weren’t always easy. I’m thankful for an understanding husband and that babies don’t remember, lol!

Most of you know I have recently found out that we are expecting again.

You can see our announcement video here:

We are just thrilled beyond words. I think I’ve been giggling since I first saw those little pink lines!

It seemed like a perfect time to organize some information on preparing for pregnancy and babies. I have learned so much over the last 23 years.

I’m preparing this list for my own girls, but also for any of you who may be wondering how to make the most of your time as you count down to bringing your little one home.

Creating a list is the easiest thing.

I’ve always had a routine, of sorts. It’s not something I really think a whole lot about- it has just become part of life while I’m pregnant. I’ve done it so many times now, it just seems like second nature.

(I’m sure this list will change over the coming months as I think of additional things to add that I may have forgotten!)

From an experienced mom to you:

Things I’m thinking about and doing, during my entire pregnancy:

      • I always make an appointment with my OB. I’m not in as big a rush these days since I know my body and I know what pregnancy is supposed to feel like (and what it feels like when things aren’t going so well). I stay on prenatal vitamins all the time. As a general rule, for most folks, going to see your OB early in your pregnancy is a must.
      • You will find me BUYING DIAPERS AND WIPES through my ENTIRE pregnancy. I just go ahead and add that to my grocery list each week.By the time our baby is born (the Lord willing), we are going to have more than 30 bags of diapers stocked in various sizes and more than 30 boxes of wipes.I do this because: having a baby is hard enough without running out of diapers, it saves us the expense of diapers and wipes during a time when there are extra expenses with doctor appointments, hospital bills, etc., it allows me to shop sales and use coupons to get the best price and it’s just fun to see those little diapers waiting on a little body to fill.If you are having your first, or even your second, you may end up with a ton of diapers from baby showers. I always just bought the diapers anyway knowing I could always exchange them.It’s just part of the routine of having babies in our home.
      • Also, I spend my entire pregnancy canning food for my pantry. We generally try to keep dried beans canned at all times but this is the time to make sure stock is made and stored along with your beans and other yummy things. Those first months with a new little one can be pretty hectic. Think of this extra stored food as an insurance policy for those nights when baby just wants to be held a little longer, you have unexpected company, or you are just tired.

Ok, so those are the things I’m going to be thinking about during my entire pregnancy.

For everything else, I generally divide my pregnancies in half.

The first half of a pregnancy, I try to do everything, EVERYTHING that I can possibly do before we learn the baby’s gender.

These are the things you will find me doing, particularly in that first half of a pregnancy:

  • Evaluating my maternity clothing as well as things I will need for nursing and purchasing those items.
  • Working on my hospital bag. I used to wait to do this until the last minute until I had an early-bird baby. It’s not the most fun to try and explain to your husband which socks and which undergarments you want from your drawers at home. Childbirth is hard. Packing early means you will be more comfortable while you recover in the hospital.
  • Organizing and re-organizing anything I know I’m not happy with at the house and that I want changed. I’m trying to wrap up any big home improvement projects we have going at the time.
  • Buying diapers, and wipes through my entire pregnancy but I also buy all the other necessary toiletry items
  • Stocking up on feminine supplies for after baby’s birth (I also stash these in my hospital bag since I prefer mine over what the hospital provides)
  • Planning school assignments and activities for my school-aged children
  • Buying all of the baby’s clothing that is not gender specific- things like white onesies, and white socks
  • Replacing any gender neutral baby supplies such as crib sheets, burp cloths, changing pads, etc.
  • Repairing and replacing any piece of baby equipment that needs to be updated…car seats, strollers, walkers, exersaucers, etc.
  • Creating a list of freezer-friendly meals to cook in the later part of my pregnancy so meals aren’t a worry for me

You know, life just happens sometimes and I can’t get to it all, but I give it my best shot! Any of these things done early are things I don’t have to do later when I’ve very far along and just not feeling well. (Doesn’t it seem like if you do put off important things, those are also the times when everything happens and you find you don’t have time to do what you wanted? It’s good to do things early and be prepared! You never know when your little one might decide to arrive early. You won’t be sorry later when it’s all done and you are just waiting on your new baby to arrive.)

I’m hoping this post will be part of a series. What we consider to be the most important things to pack for the hospital, what we gather for our babies, and the meals we cook are all things we are planning to include. I thought it would also be fun to do some simple sewing tutorials on bibs, burp cloths, blankets, paci- clips, and whatever else we end up making for our new little one.

Anything else you would want to know?

I’m still learning so many things myself, but I don’t mind at all answering questions.

If you would like my latest updates, you can follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

Book Winner!

Hooray!

Congratulations, Jennifer. You won a copy of The Just For Me Bible.

It is such a sweet book for little hands. I hope you enjoy your
copy as much as we have been enjoying the one in our home.

I have emailed you information on claiming your book.

Thanks for your entry!