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.

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.

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!

ETHAN Project- Enjoy the New!

When I began this summer, I never dreamed in a million years how amazing the ETHANProject would become for my family.

We have enjoyed each and every week this summer. Each one has been purposeful and fun. We have made memories and enjoyed time together.

We’ve revisited the place where my husband proposed.

We have painted. We have cooked. We have played.

During last week’s task, I heard my grandbaby’s (my very first grand-baby!) first cry.

This week’s assignment is Enjoy the New.

I’m typing and there are tears streaming and so much joy that my heart just overflows right on to the keyboard.

Just as I was beginning to find my own place as a new grandmother and with my family again (I was at the hospital for the beginning of the week), I realized I was not quite feeling like myself. On a whim (and assuming it would be negative), I took a pregnancy test and realized we are expecting a new baby.

My whole family is now rejoicing and enjoying the “new”.

My older children were here when I found out- my husband was away on business.

We are always so thankful for his return home but this return was filled full of extra excitement. We had planned to give him the news in grand style but in the end, his plane was delayed, as was his arrival home.

The news was broken quietly, but with no less excitement. It was my birthday which makes it all the more exciting. This little one is already adored.

The Lord is good.

The Lord has poured out more mercy and more joy on to me that I ever deserve.

It is with great joy that we announce we are expecting the newest addition to our family in April 2016 (I am so amazed to even be able to type those words!).

Please remember us in your prayers.

Thank you to the very smart ladies at Grounded and Surrounded who organized and planned this summer blogging project. If you have some extra time, drop in on them and see how other moms were “enjoying the new” this week! They spent a good deal of time organizing these projects to make the summer easier for moms.

Next week’s challenge begins soon. Enjoy the ride is bound to be full of adventure!

So what about you? Have you tried something new this week?

Community Fellowship Reminder- August 11th

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

ETHAN Project: Enjoy the Sound!

Are you still following the Ethan Project for summer ideas?

The summer is almost over. We only have a few challenges left but it isn’t too late to join along.

This week’s assignment is “Enjoy the Sound”.

Paul and I have had an extra-special blessing this week. It’s been easy to “enjoy the sound”.

Meet Gabriel Elijah, our very first grand-baby.

He was born just this morning.

He is absolutely beautiful and makes the sweetest sounds.

Today, I am a grandmother. I am a someone’s grandmother. That just feels odd and wonderful!

These were some of his very first sounds:

It’s one of the sweetest sounds I have ever heard. I’ll be posting more about his arrival later (when I’ve had a little more sleep!).

My first son with first son.
You can hop over to Grounded and Surrounded to read how other ladies have been “enjoying the sound”.

Next week’s challenge is to “Enjoy Something New”.

Do you have something new you would like to try but just haven’t made the time?
This is the week!

Homeschooling 2015/2016

I know I can not be the only homeschooling mama excited for the new school year to begin!

These school supplies being stocked in stores are a good reminder it’s almost time. I find myself walking down the aisles just to see what’s new this year!

Yesterday, I found a couple of pretty great posters in Target’s dollar spot (and the pencil jars from the top pic!).

I’ll continue to look and stockpile what we need for our homeschooling 2015/2016 school year to begin.

I still haven’t found all of the curriculum I want to use. How about you?

As usual, I’m stuck on grammar (anyone have a favorite?!). I’ve tried several things and never really been happy. I need to know the children are learning. I need something easy.
I need something affordable since I have to purchase pretty much every single grade level.

I have found a couple of things that *I LOVE*.

Teaching Textbooks  I adore!

It seemed so expensive to me for so long that in spite of hearing very good reviews from many friends, I just didn’t want to take the plunge.

Ahhh…how wrong I was! This curriculum completely changed our homeschooling.

I’ll post more about it here (and I was thinking about making a short video about that one), but in short:  no more grading. No more worksheets. No more planning.

It’s all done for me. The lectures, the practice work, the lesson plans. Done.

Obviously, I never thought through the cost completely. While each set is around $120, it is completely reusable for all of my children so that $120 is an one-time expense.

Illuminations 1-, by Bright Ideas Press, I am learning to LOVE.

It’s new to me this year. I’m still learning, but what I see, I adore.

Again, there is some expense, but all the planning work is done for you! (DId you catch that?! IT’S DONE FOR YOU. IT’S DONE FOR YOU!!  I have to repeat that part a few times. I’m still trying to grasp the idea of not having to do so much of that planning ever again.)

You set it up for the subjects and materials you are learning and it generates a lesson plan for you.

If that isn’t enough (and it would be for me as it reduces *HOURS* of work), it has tons of supplemental material built in to the software.

I was shocked.

Just the copy work alone is worth purchasing as a separate item.

I’ve been creating some short videos on Illuminations I’ll be posting during the coming couple of weeks. I’ll post them in the coming days but for now, this is a quick video on the ease of using Illuminations from the very start of loading the software:

How about you?

Are you excited about the new year? Are you trying new homeschooling curriculum?

Leave me a comment and tell me your favorites (especially if they are grammar selections!).

Not Just an Old Wive’s Tale…

When someone told me that ants wouldn’t cross a chalk line I thought it must be an old wive’s tale.

This morning, we noticed a line of ants crawling up our wall. I sent one of my older children for a piece of chalk and she drew a line of the wall to see what would happen.

No pesticides. No nasty anything…just a piece of chalk.

That’s just nice!

Book Review and Giveaway: Just For Me Bible

Most nights, after supper, our family gathers in the living room of our home to have devotion time.

Each member brings their Bible and their prayer requests. My husband teaches. My children are learning to use their Bibles and how fully the Lord can answer our prayers and guide our lives.

While each of my older children have their own Bibles, I’m always looking for simple Bibles that are child friendly for my little ones. They want to find the stories in their own Bibles and though they can’t yet look up and read the pages, having a Bible with photos and easy to read selections makes them feel like they have a very real part in our devotion time and gets them in the habit of reading a Bible for themselves.

This month, I was thrilled to receive a copy of Just for Me BibleThe Just For Me Bible from Thomas Nelson.

The Just for Me BibleThe Just for Me Bible is a 40 page toddler board book. It has a soft cover with rounded edges (I *LOVE* this about so many of the Tommy Nelson books!).

Each two page selection has verses that tell the well-loved stories from the Bible.

Each spread has fun, illustrations that are engaging.

One of my favorite parts of this Bible is the handle on the outside. It’s easy to carry for little hands. It’s a sweet little book for toddlers.

My little guy has been carrying his since it arrived!

I would love to help gift you a copy of this Bible. It would make a nice addition to any toddler library. It would also be a sweet gift for a little person you know.

Fill in the Rafflecopter form below AND leave me a comment to tell me how you would use this Bible. I’ll draw for a winner on July 27th!

Please only enter if you are a resident of the US. The winner will be given 48 hours to claim their book. If they do not respond, a new winner will be chosen.

(I’ve been given a copy of this book for review. I was not required to give a positive review. My opinion is all my own! :D)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Evening Routines

I’ve been working to post my home management/diligence card system today.

It is still a work in progress. I foresee cards for evening chores, a mid-day routine, school work, a reading list, and I’m not sure what else.

These cards have worked so well for us, I’ve found myself wondering why it took me so long to figure all of this out, but we really arrive at different times, don’t we?

I’m thankful the Lord gave me a vision for how my home should run and I’m really thankful He has given me ideas for how to make sure everyone is moving forward in our day.

I don’t like being a “drill sergeant” kind of mom but I was honestly becoming frustrated having to tell everyone every single day exactly where and what they should be doing.

Of course, there was also always that question in my mind when a child didn’t complete a job, was that an issue that needed discipline or was it really an innocent mistake?

Having everything typed out means I don’t have to think about everything all the time. My brain is happy. I am happy. All is well. (Well, normally.)

So, I explained the Diligence Board in this post. It is where I also explained my card system and listed by age what I was expecting from each of my children in terms of morning chores.

You can also watch a short video explanation here:

Those cards are not the same as our morning routine. This post explains morning routines, and why I differentiate between the two.

This third post is our evening routine. (My next set of cards will be evening chores…things like checking on our chickens and turkeys, laying out breakfast items, etc.)

Below, you can see what an evening routine looks like for our children by age. Again, I’ve left Jacob out since he works full time outside of our home and Owen is still too little.

Jackson’s Evening Routine (age 2)

Bedtime: 7 pm (This is bedtime, NOT get ready for bed time.)

  • Dress for bed
  • Brush your hair and teeth
  • Give Mama and Daddy night kisses!
  • Evening prayer and reading
  • Lights Out!

Darby’s Evening Routine (age 4)

Bedtime: 7 pm (This is bedtime, NOT get ready for bed time.)

  • Do one act of service for someone else
  • Straighten your room
  • Dress for bed
  • Brush your hair and teeth
  • Go potty!
  • Give Mama and Daddy night kisses!
  • Evening prayer and reading
  • Lights Out!

Meredith’s Evening Routine (age 6)

Bedtime: 7 pm (This is bedtime, NOT get ready for bed time.)

  • Do one act of service for someone else
  • Straighten your room
  • Dress for bed
  • Brush your hair and teeth
  • Give Mama and Daddy night kisses!
  • Evening prayer and reading
  • Lights Out!

Jonathan’s Evening Routine (age 8)

Bedtime: 7:00 pm (This is bedtime, NOT get ready for bed time.)

  • Do one act of service for someone else
  • Help straighten your room
  • Dress for bed
  • Brush your hair and teeth
  • Give Mama and Daddy night kisses!
  • Evening prayer and reading
  • Lights Out!

Benjamin’s Evening Routine (age 11)

Bedtime 9pm (This is bedtime, NOT get ready for bed time.)

  • Do one act of service for someone else
  • Straighten your room
  • Lay out your clothes for tomorrow
  • Dress for bed
  • Brush your hair and teeth
  • Give Mama and Daddy night kisses!
  • Evening prayer and reading
  • Lights Out!

Timothy’s Evening Routine (age 13)

Bedtime 9:30 pm (This is bedtime, NOT get ready for bed time.)

  • Straighten your room
  • Do one act of service for someone else
  • Lay out your clothes for tomorrow
  • Dress for bed
  • Brush your hair and teeth
  • Give Mama and Daddy night kisses!
  • Evening prayer and reading
  • Lights Out!

Matthew’s Evening Routine (age 13)

Bedtime 10pm (This is bedtime, NOT get ready for bed time.)

  • Empty AC buckets
  • Do one act of service for someone else
  • Straighten your room
  • Lay out your clothes for tomorrow
  • Dress for bed
  • Brush your hair and teeth
  • Give Mama and Daddy night kisses!
  • Evening prayer and reading
  • Lights Out!

Jessica’s Evening Routine (age 17)

Bedtime: 10 pm (This is bedtime, NOT get ready for bed time.)

  • Do one act of service for someone else
  • Straighten your room and bathroom
  • Lay out your clothes for tomorrow
  • Lay out breakfast ingredients for tomorrow
  • Dress for bed
  • Brush your hair and teeth
  • Give Mama and Daddy night kisses!
  • Evening prayer and reading
  • Lights Out!

Courtney’s Evening Routine (age 23)

  • Do one act of service for someone else
  • Lay out supper to defrost for tomorrow
  • Lay out your clothes for tomorrow
  • Lay out Jackson and Darby’s clothing for tomorrow
  • Straighten your room and bathroom
  • Dress for bed
  • Brush your hair and teeth
  • Give Mama and Daddy night kisses!
  • Evening prayer and reading
  • Lights Out!

Again, a couple of notes here…

First, we don’t really tell Courtney when to go to bed. I like that she tries to be careful to get enough rest but she’s a grown person. :)

Second, if you have a small family, you may think all of this is “over the top”. Having a larger family means you have to think a little larger and do things in a way that are efficient for everyone involved. That said, I think this would have been a great lesson in personal responsibility for my children even when my family was much smaller.

Third, many of my children have different bedtimes. Honestly, it’s easy to just get confused. I’m training each of the children to pay attention to the clock and their individual bedtimes.

Morning Routines

I wrote earlier today about the DILIGENCE BOARD and the morning chore cards we have created for our family.

I’m planning to make a little video a little later today about these cards.

Our morning routine cards are a little different than our morning chore cards.

The morning routines (especially the printed cards), lay everything out for my children in the morning. It tells the children exactly what I’m expecting from the time they wake up for the day.

These are just basic things most people do automatically- things like “brush your teeth”, which seems to elude some little people. It’s just easier for me if it is on a list. Then there are no surprises for the children. They know what I expect. They don’t forget.

It’s simple. I like simple.

When these are done (which shouldn’t take more than half an hour), they are to begin their morning chore cards.

I decided to break these things out for a couple of reasons.

First, our day is organized as a series of routines. For the sake of keeping everyone on the same page, it’s easier to just be able to say, “has everyone finished their morning routine?”. “Has everyone finished their morning chores?”

That just works for me.

Also, it’s not overwhelming to my children when they have smaller lists. It’s manageable. It’s encouraging to them to finish a list and flip it over for the day.

This whole thing has made my home management so much easier.

Jackson (age 3)
Morning Routine

  • Wake Up
  • GO POTTY!
  • Tell everyone good morning with a big smile!
  • Take your crunchy pants to the bucket on the washer
  • Take your dirty clothes to the hamper
  • Pick up misplaced toys in your room
  • Morning chores


Darby (age 4)
Morning Routine

  • Wake for Day
  • GO POTTY!
  • Dress/brush hair and teeth
  • Take your crunchy pants to bucket on the washer
  • Make bed/straighten room
  • Morning chores
  • Watch video until time for breakfast

Meredith (age 6)
Morning Routine

  • Wake for day
  • GO POTTY
  • Dress/brush hair and teeth
  • Take your crunchy pants to bucket on the washer (make sure Jackson and Meredith do the same)
  • Make bed/straighten room
  • Morning chores
  • Watch video until breakfast

Jonathan (age 8)
Morning Routine

  • Wake for day
  • GO POTTY!
  • Dress/brush hair and teeth
  • Take your crunchy pants to bucket on washer
  • Bible time
  • Make bed/straighten room
  • Morning chores

Emma (age 9)
Morning Routine

  • Wake for day
  • Dress/brush hair and teeth
  • Bible time
  • Make bed/straighten room
  • Get Owen up for day and changed– take him to the playpen
  • Morning chores

Benjamin (age 11)
Morning Routine

  • Wake for day
  • Dress/brush hair and teeth
  • Bible time
  • Make bed/straighten room
  • Start video for littles (see chart on entertainment center)
  • Morning chores

Timothy (age 13)
Morning Routine

  • Wake for day
  • Dress/brush hair and teeth
  • Bible time
  • Make bed/straighten room
  • Set the sprinkler on the garden beds
  • Morning chores
  • Turn sprinkler off

Matthew (age 15)
Morning Routine

  • Wake for day
  • Dress/brush hair and teeth
  • Bible time
  • Make bed/straighten room
  • Oversee little boys starting their day (make sure the littles are following their routines!)

Jessica (age 17)
Morning Routine

  • Wake for day
  • Dress/Brush hair and teeth
  • Bible time
  • Make bed/straighten room
  • Make Owen’s milk
  • Morning Chores

Courtney (age 23)
Morning Routine

  • Wake for day
  • Shower/dress/brush hair and teeth
  • Bible Time
  • Make Bed
  • Set out freezer meal for dinner
  • Morning chores

*One quick note, obviously Courtney doesn’t need a set of cards to be reminded to brush her teeth and take a shower. It’s just a reminder to everyone else where she is in the day and what we need her to do to help with our family.

I’m actually planning to make a set of cards for me. I haven’t quite decided what to include just yet.

Obviously, there are many different ways to organize routines and chores. I was hoping that this series of posts might offer a fresh idea.

Ok…as always, I would love to hear what kind of system you have in place for your family.

Do you have a standard routine for your children each day?