Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Up in the school room, teddy is relaxing.

You've experienced this.  It's St. Patrick's Day, but you can't find the St. Patrick book you know you own on any of your bookshelves.  But good news- you just found the Easter book you couldn't find at Easter... Familiar? 

Nothing makes me more crazy.

So when I decided to organize the books upstairs, I did a quick search for inexpensive book storage hoping to be inspired.  And I was.  I fell in love with this idea of sorting books by category in organized bins. 

Using IKEA magazine files-- at just $1.49 for a 5 pack,  I didn't need to reform my book hoarding ways, I could just sort my stash for $20!  So that's what I did.

They are now all sorted.  I have categories:

  • By topic (Apologetics, Art, Atlas, Biographies, Birds, Butterflies, Coloring, Christian Character, Dinosaurs...)
  • By reader age (Young Readers 5-7; Young Readers 8-12...)
  • The four history periods we cover (History- Creation to Greeks, History- Rome to Reformation, History- Exploration to 1950 and History- 1850 to Modern)
  • Holidays and Seasonal
  • Puritans
  • US Presidents

And so on.  Then, all of the categories are alphabetized so that I can actually find that St. Patrick book when I want it- there it is, right there in Holidays and Seasonal.  Tada! 

And more than that, when a reader needs a book I can guide them to all the choices that are appropriate for their age as well as make sure they don't miss out on any of the fun books along the way. 

Books by category.
I turned the magazine racks so that books are easy to grab and used simple 4x6 cards cut in half for labeling the boxes.  I didn't even use a printer to make it fancy. 
So for a $20. investment and very little time, we got completely organized.  Of course, then I went to our local Homeschool conference and bought more books... 
My husband should really be presented with an award for patience.  :)
Enjoy all your before school organizing! 
Blessings friends,

Monday, August 11, 2014


You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth;
you have made summer and winter.
~ Psalm 74:17

Summers are for gardening. 
For enjoying the brightest
and best tomatoes and the
freshest produce. 

Gardening together.
Summers are for watching 
bright flowers emerge from 
small seeds,
planted by eager little hands

A tree to climb.

Summers are for exploring. 
For climbing trees that are
one year taller and for
inventing ways to deliver
items up.

Sending smoke signals to let everyone know dinner is almost ready.

Summers are for Bar-b-ques
and for slow meals eaten
outside on the porch. 
Grilled everything.
Summers are for stringing lights. 
And for sleeping under stars.
Lights to string.
Little girls who camped under stars and in a tent quite a few nights!
Summers are for welcoming guests. 
And for making trips to see friends and family. 
Great to see you Jonescrew!
And Auntie Dale with baby Oliver!
Great to drive to see you Grandma and Grandpa!
Ernsts and Ottos!
Raffertys and Mitchells!
Wintons (pictured), Burns, Wards, Eckerts and others!!!
Summers are for cheering
at church picnics. 
Jesse, Madison, Faith and Morgan
For holding hands.
Lending a helping hand to this cute little skater.
 For painting projects.
Rock painting-- another item checked off the Summer Fun list.
And finally...
Summers are
for feeling super.
Super heroes.
Hope you are enjoying yours!

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights with
whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
~James 1:17



Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Summer is so full of promise. 
We begin to harvest fresh veggies from the garden.  We feel the freedom to set aside some of the book work and get outside for some exploring.  We barbeque just about anything we can get our hands on-- meat, zucchinis, peaches because really everything just seems to taste better and more summery that way, right? 
S U M M E R !
But, can I be honest?  Summer is also a little stressful to me.  I mean there is so much we could be doing that I have this fear that I am going to miss something.  And of course, that will ruin everyone's childhood.  And it will be all my fault. 
Do you see varying lists everywhere entitled "The 120 Best Things to Do This Summer So That Your Kids Don't Grow up Deprived and Ruined."  Well, that last part may not be an actual article title, but it does seem to be implied.
This is NOT that post.   
The truth is, I can't do the 120 Best Things this summer.  I can't do the Best 100.  I probably can't even muster up the Best 50. 
This mama is going to chose to be happy with a handful of accomplishments that my kids help me dream up.  How about you? 

This is what we are trying this year-- A Summer Fun list.  It's basically just a bunch of sticky notes with handwritten ideas slapped onto our whiteboard.  It's things we want to do.  The ideas get added and swapped, like they swapped hiking for Thrifty Ice Cream-- no sweat off my brow (literally!).   
The girls are encouraged to add to the list as they think of new ideas.  The only thing I ask them to remember is that we have not won the lottery.  Enough said about that.
The list has actually grown quite a bit since this photo was taken.
The ever changing list includes:
Mama Read Aloud
Break dance/ Dance party
Rock Painting
Girlfriend Days
Water Gun Fight
Family Camp In
Thrify Ice Cream
Children's Museum
Eat Dinner Blindfolded
Go Out To Breakfast
S'Mores by Firepit
Go To The Beach
Tricycle Race
Park Days with Friends
Kayak on Lake
Explode Mentos in Diet Soda
Family Tea Party
Picnic at Park
Pixi Woods
We've just begun to tackle a few:
One of my favorite summer treats-- going for Thrify ice cream!
It used to be just 15 cents a scoop when I was a girl.  It's still a pretty good deal.
One of the girls favorites-- going out for breakfast.  Yes, we seem to like to eat.
But there is something about a stack
of pancakes and choice of syrups that seems bigger than life somehow.  Yum! 
Girlfriend days give the older girls the opportunity to visit with their special friends.
The first one included making homemade Frappuchino coffees and painting masterpieces together.
How are you going to keep it simple and fun this summer?
Happy Summer friends!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


“Being a full-time mother is one of the highest
salaried jobs…since the payment is pure love.” 

– Mildred B. Vermont


Motherhood can be full of doubts. 
We question our abilities.  We easily identify our failures-- especially if we have a rare moment alone (like that 30 seconds in the shower between pressing childhood questions hollered through the door crack about math flashcards and grilled cheese sandwiches or as we quickly fall asleep at night).
Any moment of quiet reminds us how much we need mommy grace.

We wish we were more patient, more kind, more... how about all of 1 Corinthians 13?  It's our continual prayer and meditation. 

We'd like to feel more confident.  In ourselves; in our plans; in our goals.  Maybe if you are like me, you started out wanting to get through motherhood without making any mistakes.  Ha!  Well, welcome back to the real world where we find ourselves waffling between our failed efforts and seeking our good and gracious God. 
Each day we learn to count more on His grace and less on ourselves.  And He leads.

"He... shall gently lead those
that are with young." 
-Isaiah 40:11

We desperately want to keep our kiddos safe from every kind of danger.  And thanks to the ever present help of Facebook, we learn there are new potential dangers to fear about every two weeks!  Seriously, secondary drowning?  Thanks for that! 

But we are only human. 

We do our best to make good choices, but we are pretty sure that we can singlehandedly ruin our children's future with any misstep-- maybe they really should know more Latin; oh dear, they've never built their own telescopes and why do they have that blank look on their face when I ask them to spell something we have covered three times this week?

In fact, we give ourselves a lot of credit for the potential of ruining these people we are so carefully trying to bring up.  Why is that?  

"Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed."
- Psalm 139:13-16

Even when we do something with or for our children, we always see that we could do more.  Or feel that we should do more.

We pray, then we fail. 

We work and then we fail.   

And at times we think ourselves very poor choices for this very important job.

But maybe we were not chosen to do this job because we'd be good at it.  Maybe we were chosen to do it so that we could show these little people where fallen people are to look for help...

 "I look up to the hills.
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord.
He is the Maker of heaven and earth.
He won't let your foot slip.
He who watches over you won't get tired.
In fact, he who watches over Israel won't get tired
or go to sleep."
-Psalm 121:1-4

Even though we see all the "oops" moments, children seem to see their mommies through love colored glasses.

Each child thinks their mother is the best mother in the entire world. 

It's God's kindness to mothers. 

It's mommy grace.     

I am sure you have all seen this video of moms being interviewed about being mothers (how they see themselves), followed by their children being interviewed.  It was amazing to hear how their children viewed them. 

It is really worth the watch.  Even a second watch. 


Praise to the One who covers us with His love. 

May you enjoy mommy grace! 

"I prayed for this boy, and the Lord has given me what I asked of Him. So I have given him to the Lord. He is given to the Lord as long as he lives."- 1 Samuel 1:27-28 


This Mother's Day I asked my hubby to take photos of me with my girls.  I find that I rarely do that!   :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014



Big smiles-- last photo with Hailey's baby front tooth!  She's getting to be a big girl.
It's that time again.  Sunny weather and time for some fresh new lessons! 

Do any of you remember the song, Bullfrogs and Butterflies?  Remembering that song and wanting to teach it to the kids inspired this sunny day lesson. 
"Bullfrogs and Butterflies
We've both been born again!
Bullfrogs and Butterflies
We've both been born again!"

Singing "Bullfrogs and Butterflies" with our sisters and cousins!

The life cycle of the butterfly always makes an interesting lesson for little ones.  Making it edible adds to the fun. 

But it is also a great chance to talk about what it means to be born again

Edible Butterfly life cycle- Egg (mini marshmallow), Larve (gummy worm),
Pupa (Tootsie roll), Butterfly (cookie)

Jesus replied, "Very truly I tell you,
no one can see the kingdom of God
unless they are born again." 
~John 3:3

To be "born again" is to have a spiritual rebirth!  The Jews thought the promise of salvation was physical and came from being born of the "seed" of Abraham.  But Jesus explained the promise of salvation is actually through a spiritual "seed" which is by faith in Him.   

Colorful wings
We go through a change when we come to faith in Christ that makes us as different from our old selves as a caterpillar is from a butterfly. 

Reading about the Monarch-- hey look, that looks about where Santa Cruz is located.

Sometimes we can get a little hung up on theology and wonder if we can be saved.  For that reason, I love sharing this verse with young ones as well:

"All that the Father gives Me
will come to Me, and the one
who comes to Me I will by no
means cast out." 
~John 6:37

That language "by no means" sounds a lot like "no way, not ever, no way, Jose!"  And that's how the kids like to remember it.  ;) 

If we come to Christ, He will not cast us out.  "No way, Jose!"

Butterfly Stages free printables by MamaMiss

We did the school work of learning the names of the stages.  And we may refer to Tootsie Rolls as "Pupas" or "Chrysalises" from now on, but it was loads of fun. 

Big kids took a few minutes to join in, which always makes it more entertaining for the littles. 

Thanks for playing along, big kids.  I give you a big thumbs up!

I also  thought it would be fun to have the girls drink like butterflies from "flowers" with looooong tongues. 

Butterflies drink nectar or pollen from flowers from their proboscis (that works like a long straw).

Some left over dollar store plates and cups did the trick.  We always seem to have extra pink plates and cups around here.  I glued the cups to the plates the night before to avoid spills.  

Like this-- yum!

It was Toadally cool!  

Bullfrogs and Butterflies...  Joshie and Sarah Mae are sweet cousin buddies.

May you be blessed,


Wednesday, April 30, 2014


April is a busy birthday month for our family.  Add to that two bouts with flu symptoms, an emergency dog surgery, planning and hosting Easter and a handful of other pressing issues, and I found myself and our family-- tired.
So what could we do to celebrate our little Hailey who was just turning six as well as minister to the rest of the family?  How about a quiet afternoon at the park?
We packed up Sarah's canopy, a few blankets and pillows, some read alouds, milk and Hailey's birthday donuts (for some reason we always do donuts instead of cake) and we were off!
Hailey felt like a little princess in her fancy canopy house which pleased all of us.  It is so fun to celebrate our little (gulp) six year old punkin'.
Hailey and all of her girls (pronounced "ge-als").  Sister love...  there's nothing like it.
It's amazing how much fun little ones can have with bubbles or a croquet set in a park setting.  I love park days.  The phone gets left in the car and the household duties get left at home.  I get just as much enjoyment out of quietly watching the girls as the girls get from running and playing.


"And he said unto them,
Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place,
and rest a while..."
~Mark 6:31

May you have a restful day!