Dot to Dot

One of my new favorite stores is the Dollar Tree. I am usually not a fan of cheap stuff. Typically the phrase, “you get what you pay for” is true. However, what if you want I give your kids an experience but can’t afford the best version of whatever it is ($6 vs. $15) you need? Would you rather have the cheaper version or nothing at all? The Dollar Tree has proved to be good for craft items, positive reinforcement, etc. I was excited to be able to get these markers for several fun activities I’m finding on Pinterest. {keyword search: dot marker activities, bingo markers, dot markers, etc.}. Lots and lots of dots…and potential.

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Impress Them on Your Children

Parenting is a process- a marathon, not a sprint. Those who are closest to me know this is true, for they have seen me and my children in our natural habitat. They know the true story, the story behind the scenes that I don’t let people see on Facebook. (I should really do an “outtake” post.)

Because our family has chosen to use God’s Word as our baseline, Aron and I prioritize integrating it into our daily lives, teaching our children the promises we can believe in and the rewards that come through our faith-filled obedience. (It’s not easy to obey some of the things God asks of us.)

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 gives us a picture of how parents can plant the seeds of God’s Word into their children on a daily basis:

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”

This may look differently in each family, but I decided to share some of the resources that we use:

Adventure BibleNOTHING can replace putting a Bible into a child’s hands and letting them hold it, open it, flip through, and read it’s content.  We bought our two older children the Adventure Bible for Early Readers as an Easter present a couple of years ago.  We’ve been very pleased with it.  Sweet Tart loves holding and flipping through the tiny New Testament she was presented as a baby when she was dedicated.

Right now, we are doing a devotional with the kids right before they go to bed.  We use Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids.  {We ask our older two to look up the verses that are used in the writings.  For now, Sweet Tart holds her little New Testament and flips through the pages.}  I love these “letters” from Jesus packed with scripture and really relevant messages for children (well, anyone really).  I appreciate how they have enough content to make an impact, but short enough to keep their attention.

Devotionals

We have also loved the Jesus Storybook Bible.  I love how every single story points back to God’s Rescue Plan: sending Jesus to Earth to live, die, and rise again so that we can have a relationship with Him.

Devotional Covers

I truly believe that children will want to dig in their Bibles and value God’s Word if they are taught how to use it, its content, and its purpose.  I think a great place to start is teaching kids the books of the Bible so that when they open it, they know how to navigate it.  Something I’ve loved is a song used by the Awana program.  Our family doesn’t participate in Awanas, but I was searching through iTunes for a good song, and this was the least “hokey” version I could find. We’ve loved it.  It’s called “The Perfect Book.”  {A great way to help visual learners connect is to use a homemade poster listing the books of the Bible while they sing the song.}

Perfect Book Song

One of the best resources I’ve come upon EVER is the “Buck Denver asks…What’s in the Bible?” DVD series.  I cannot say enough about this series.  It’s a full on education about God’s Word. Please go to this link and watch the “Race to the Finish” video that gives a good idea of the content and value of this series.  Aron and I have been amazed at what we’ve learned along side of our children even though both of us grew up in great churches.  We love watching these together. I love knowing that, when I stick these DVD’s in to keep the kids busy while I finish something, that my kids are absorbing wholesome and useful info AND are entertained.  Please check it out…Sunday School Lady with her flannel graph is my absolute FAV!

What's In The Bible Series

Cover Volume 1

Volume 1 Back

{Jelly Telly, the company that produces What’s in the Bible, is a great resource to get to know the awesome characters and view some clips before you invest in the DVD’s.}

There are other things that can be done to teach God’s Word throughout the day that are FREE.  God’s Word is applicable in any situation, in any question that comes up, in any area of discipline or everyday living.  That’s where my daily discipline of devotions and knowing God’s Word myself comes into play.  Here’s where the rubber meets the road:  Do I really know God’s promises?  Can I weave God’s Word into any given conversation? Do I really know the “what” to my kids’ “whys?”

Thank God for His grace and patience with me and thank God it’s a marathon, not a sprint!

My Little Morning Helpers

When I was little, I had a security blanket. It was pink and so soft and, even, more importantly, my mom made it for me. Carrying it around made everything feel better. It enhanced my good times and comforted me in bad times. (Confession: it actually made it to college with me and into my first home with Aron after we got married. It met its untimely demise when our boxer chewed and shredded it to bits. I still have the tattered remains. I am realizing how strange that sounds as I type this…)

As an adult, I still have “security blankets” that I like to call “My Little Helpers” – just some things I put to work EVERY day without fail to make things a little more bearable and functional.

MY LITTLE HELPERS in the MORNING:

COFFEE in a CUTE MUG

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I usually make 4 cups of coffee, and drink a big mug in the morning. I take it with flavored cream, enough to make it tan and delicious!

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I LOVE Kahve coffee in House Blend. I’ve tried most of their coffee, but this is my favorite for the morning. It’s got the best flavor and one good mug is strong enough to give the pick me up I want. I also love Kahve because I order it online and it gets delivered straight to my door.

20130509-135925.jpg I always feel more confident and cozy if the mug I’m drinking out of is cute. My mug has to be big enough that my finger tips don’t touch when I clasp my hands around it. This one is from West Elm.

A SIMPLE SKIN CARE ROUTINE
I don’t put make up on my face every single morning, or even take a shower, but, like my mom taught me, I take care of my skin. My skin {hearts} ARTISTRY. I already use the Time Defiance stuff with the anti aging properties. I pamper my face, neck, and my eyes and it only takes 5 minutes.

Here’s my routine and, also… my morning face. These aren’t professional Before and After’s, the lighting isn’t the same in each picture (apologies to my fellow melancholy friends), but I’m pretty sure the results are clear, especially around the eyes and forehead. I always get a better start when I feel like I have a fresh face (and fresh breath.)

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AHHHH! This is my starting point. Gasp.

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This is after using the Time Defiance Cleanser. I also like following up with a toner. FRESH!

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This is where my face gets REAL happy! I dab some Lifting Eye Creme under my eyes with my ring finger. It really helps make those fine lines, dark circles, and puffiness settle down. I follow that with the Essentials Alpha Hydroxy Serum which exfoliates and smooths and gets my skin to the right texture if I want to use foundation. I think this makes the most dramatic difference in the whole routine and that’s why these are my two absolute favs.

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I always use a moisturizer or foundation with SPF in the morning. I have really dry skin and fair skin. This is the Time Defiance Day Time Creme.

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Just for balance’s sake, here is my face totally done with some concealer, tinted moisturizer, eyeshadow, mascara, and blush.

If I get a cute mug of good coffee and a fresh face in the morning, I feel so much better! Watch out World! Here I come!

{Most of these “good goods” are items that can be found in my online shop, http://www.hallteamsolutions.com. I used them and loved them even before I started selling them. I just made the decision to make some money from things I was already buying…I am excited about sharing them because they WORK and because helping people find products and services that they need has allowed me to be able to stay home as my kids grow up, a childhood dream/goal.}

Book Look

My husband knew I needed time to myself the other night, so I went to Barnes&Noble to relax. I got a small coffee and went right up to the “Christian Life” section, which is also surrounded by “Self Improvement,” “Psychology,” and “Biographies.” I was in my happy place for sure and did what I would now like to call a “Book Look.” I took pictures of the books I saw that intrigued me so I wouldn’t forget.

Books I want to read:

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(I definitely want more info on some of these authors before I read, because I’m not just going to read anything, but all of these titles got my attention.)

Book I want to own for reference:

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Book that I’m not sure about, but definitely tempting:

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Books I own and want to read again by Mark Batterson:

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Books I used to own and have no clue where they are and really miss and want to read again:

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This is literally like three years of reading…we’ll see.

Ready, Set, Go!

We have a business convention this weekend. Typically, the kids get a weekend with their grandparents while we go. This time, they are coming on the nine hour drive to Louisville, Kentucky with us. Road Trip!

About four days ago, I woke up and realized that all of us would be in the minivan for that long, all at the same time. I needed to get on the ball. I went directly to Pinterest, created a “Road Trip” board, and found a few really great blogs/websites with ideas that were right on the money.
{Random Thoughts of a Supermom}
{Kid World Citizen}
{Mom’s Minivan}
I took ideas from here and there, directly copying and improvising.

I made each of the kids a basket with a name badge on the front:

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I chose a basic font and printed their names onto fun scrapbooking paper, trimmed it up, and slid it into the badge holder. Easy Peasy!

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The baskets were from the Dollar Tree. Love it!
I added items that we already owned like coloring books, markers, and sunglasses. I bought a Mad Libs pad and the National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas.

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I also liked the idea of magnets on pizza pans. I found a the pans and a few little magnet sets at the Dollar Tree, but sets at other stores were too expensive, so I decided to make my own using felt and foamy items from Michael’s and magnet tape strips.

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Other things I packed that didn’t cost a dime:
Library books/books on CD
Games (Spot It is SO fun!)
DVD’s

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The last thing I put together was a Road Trip fun book, basically a brain jogger when anyone gets a little board.

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(All of these pages are in sheet protectors which can be drawn or written on with dry-erase markers, wiped off, and reused.)

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So, we’re all packed up!

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Ready, set, go!

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(I’ll definitely report back on how everything went. I know many folks are thinking ahead to the summer months and travel. I hope this may help someone in their planning. If anyone would like to share ideas that have worked on their road trips, I’d love to hear from you.)

Baking Soda

Over the weekend, I attended one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever been to.  Gorgeous couple, gorgeous weather, gorgeous location.  During the refreshments between the ceremony and reception, I did get bit by ants on both feet.  I didn’t know it until after waking up Sunday morning.

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If you look carefully, you can see the actually bites, but both my feet are very red and swollen.  I  almost went right to Benadryl, but then realized I’d be a drowsy mess during the day with my kids. (It’s just how my body reacts.) I asked my good friend for a solution that was less chemically zonky.  She reminded me of baking soda.

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I spent less than $2 and made a paste with it and water.  (I kind of eyeballed it, but it was like 2 parts baking soda to 1 part water.)  It definitely relieved the crazy itching.

As all this was going on, I was reading the info on the box.  Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate and it’s been a LONG time since AP Chemistry with Mrs. McInnis, so what did I do?  I googled it.  I found several medical sites and blogs with info, and they basically gave all the same info.  What’s cool is that baking soda is so inexpensive but has so many uses around the house, outdoors, with pets, personal hygiene, etc.  (Here’s an article that gives a good summary.)

Arm and Hammer’s site is also very informative and has a cool “Need a Solution?” search option that gives TONS of different uses for baking soda.

My box is currently sitting in my refrigerator  keeping my food fresh.

Spring Break at Home-Day 4

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Today was Cleaning Day and I was hoping my kids would get behind being “big helpers.” I even made a white board chart with clearly stated objectives and positive reinforcement. I was hoping that I could whip the kids into a productive frenzy by offering to let them cross off each item as they finished. Instead of the “Spoonful of Sugar” scenario I envisioned in my head, I entered into the longest, teeth-pullingest hour of the week. Now to give them credit, they did all finish their “have to’s.” They also helped me with their bathroom (I’m thankful for my green, Legacy of Clean products that are safe for everyone to handle) and their vacuuming. Then they went downstairs and turned the kitchen into a classroom. They played school for about five minutes and then the refereeing segment of my day started. I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d get my work done, but after a time out for all of us and a cup of coffee for me, I got back on the ball and got all but the downstairs vacuuming and the outdoor sweeping done. Not too shabby.

I took them to Whole Foods and let them pick out some gelato and then we had dinner at Rudinos. A little backwards, I know, but everyone did really well. When we got home, I had them pick up and get ready for bed. Then we took out the sofa bed and watched Toy Story 3. (I literally cannot watch the ending of that movie without crying.)

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Guess what still didn’t happen? Those poor eggs…

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Spring Breat at Home-Day 2

Today was a busy day.  It was a MOPs morning and they provided child care not only for my preschooler, but my school-aged kids as well.  We all had a nice break from each other and our speaker today gave us some really great info today about Kindergarten readiness and many general parenting practices.  She let us in on some good resources, including this book:  How to Behave So Your Children Will Too by Sal Severe.  I’m excited about checking it out soon.  (I love the self-test on the back cover.  It made me LOL.)  The kids got to play, craft, and snack.  We all came home better for it.

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We had a simple lunch and then I brought out the craft box to attempt the “recipe” I found last night, Coffee Filter Flowers, on Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom.

Craft box

Before I could get it together, the girls went off the grid and started to improvise with markers, clothes pins, and pom poms.

The clothes pins went from stripey worms to fuzzy caterpillars-a real metamorphosis.

We finally got to the coffee filter flowers and I realized I didn’t have a key ingredient for this recipe: the pipe cleaners.  Yet another opportunity for me to stretch my patience muscles.  They enjoyed coloring the filters with markers and spraying them with water to watch the colors run.  That was about the extent of that, but it was fun.

It was so nice, we went outside.  There was bike riding and running. My sister called and we met her and my nephews at the park for another hour.

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Another great day.  Lots of crafting and Vitamin D.

Obviously Not Obvious

Obviously Not Obvious

I believe that Aron and I are our children’s first and best teachers.  I think a lot of parents don’t give themselves credit for how many things they’ve poured into their children before they become school-aged.  I think that effective … Continue reading