Sunday, November 8, 2015

That time the Squirrel Dropped Dead

One Saturday morning, a month or two ago, while I was putting away laundry and the kids were playing outside, an ecstatic Anna came rushing into the house.

"Mommy! Mommy! You have to come see! It's so amazing! The squirrel that I was talking to up in our tree, fell down, and now she's laying next to me and playing with me!"

(Before I go further into this story, let me just briefly explain that Anna is our one true animal lover in this house. Every spring when the birds, rabbits, and squirrels start appearing in our yard, she sits under our tree in the back yard and talks to them and even names some of them. Her favorite this past summer was a barn swallow that sat in our tree chirping that she named Mrs. Cheep.)

Anyways, with that in mind, I'll admit that my kids come inside excited to show me anything remotely different that they've found in the backyard, and there are times when some could consider my enthusiasm and interest somewhat....lacking. 

This time though, I suppose, there was something about Anna's excitement-not to mention the fact that she was insisting that a squirrel of all things was laying next to her- that I stopped what I was doing immediately and followed Anna outside.

And wouldn't you know, there most certainly was a squirrel laying conked out in the grass right where Anna had been playing.

Immediately the urge to yell "Squirrel!!" at the top of my lungs and rush everyone inside came upon me. That and the overwhelming desire to not let anyone outside until Erik came home from work and let him "take care" of what appeared to be a dead squirrel laying in the middle of our yard.

But my kids had completely different reactions.

"Oh, mama, can we keep him?!"

"Mama, I think he's sick can you go get him some medicine?"

"Mama....did he die? Is he going to be all right?" asked Anna.

"Oh, I think he'll be all right,"declared Lily,"we just need to give him food and water!"

All the while I'm thinking, "You guys. Seriously. This is a dead animal. And it almost fell on your sister's head. This is disgusting, let's get in the house, and wait for daddy to get home."(Insert clenched teeth.)

But, I'll admit that seeing them get so concerned about something was pretty sweet, so after I told them not to get too close to the squirrel, I begrudgingly let Anna, Lily, and Jack fix him a plate of food and a cup of water.

Then they prayed for him, and Anna sang him a song.

And then, finally we went inside, washed our hands, and waited for Erik to come home from work.

The only problem was that Erik wound up having to work longer than expected, and ended up having to spend the night where he was working. But since it was a beautiful day outside it didn't feel right to make the kids stay inside all day.

So, finally, I went out to the back yard mentally preparing myself to have to pick up a dead animal out of our yard. But to my delight, the squirrel was gone!

Did a bird pick him up? Did he just simply take a hard fall out of a tree and get knocked out for awhile? I have no idea.

All I know is that my kids were overjoyed that the squirrel was probably all right, and that they(at least in their minds) had helped him recover.

And, really...that's all I need to know.

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

How our Family of Seven Saves Money(but still has fun!)

My husband and I often laugh about how our kids are going to give us such a hard time when they grow up and they realize all the things we did to save money on things.

I mean, seriously though, when it easily costs 30 dollars to go to a fast food restaurant, you learn to get creative.

We do Bookit! and Read to Succeed in order to get free six flags tickets every summer.

We love our local library.

We belong to a homeschool co-op that allows us to get discounted tickets to events and cheaper classes at the Y.

I make a lot of food from scratch, and we buy most of our groceries at Aldi.

We've dressed our kids(and ourselves) up as cows for free food at chik-fil-a.

We've taken advantage of happy hour at Sonic many times, and when they run their special for 59 cent corn dogs, we are. so. there.

But, really, that's just the tip of the iceberg of the things we'll do to save some money but still have fun together.

One of the funniest things we did was this past summer. Some friends of ours had invited us to a local water park that their parents' church had rented out. At the last minute, however, our friends weren't able to make it. But did that stop us from going to a free night at the water park? Even though we weren't going to know anyone else there?

Not even a little bit. ;)

Honestly though, some of our favorite things to do as a family is to pack a picnic and head to a local park or go on some local bike trails. 

On the rare occasions that we all do go out to eat, our kids know that they are usually going to have to get water, and that happy meals are reserved for special occasions(grandparents in town, birthday, etc.)

But even though going out as a family can be a lot of fun, there's also plenty of fun things you can do together at home. 

With the cooler weather coming on, we love to pop some popcorn, drink hot chocolate or cider and have movie nights as a family(we just put a sheet down so we don't make a huge mess everywhere.) Since some of my kids are so young, we don't play board games too much yet, but I definitely foresee our family having many game nights in the years to come.

Sunday nights are a favorite among our kids because we usually eat a big batch of pancakes for dinner. And then, because pancakes are clearly not a special enough treat(ahem), my husband instituted the idea of having a special desert on Sunday nights. We try not to give the kids a ton of sweets throughout the week, but I'm pretty sure we make up for that on Sundays.:)

Then after we've had desert(and gotten the kids hyped up on sugar...) we go into the living room and the kids have a dance competition. Sunday nights used to be the only time we'd let the kids play video games, so we used to have the kids have a dance off, and whoever won(which a lot of times we'd just say everyone wins) would get to take an extra turn playing the game. Sadly our xbox broke last month, so we haven't been able to continue this tradition, but hopefully we'll replace it one day.

There are so many ways go out and give your kids fun memories without having to break the bank to do it.

What are some of your favorite ways to have fun on a budget?

This post was inspired by the people of personal capital. They offer some great, free wealth management tools if you're looking to track your finances.

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Homemaker's Friend Planner Giveaway!!

Planning ahead has never been my strong point.

Oh sure, I like daydreaming about the days, weeks, and years to come, but when the time comes to actually sit down and plan for them, my brain just kind of shuts down from all the details.

Besides, I tend to like to be flexible. I kind of like not always knowing what or where we're going each day.

However, this year I have started to realize I can't just "fly by the seat of my pants" and expect our home school days to run smoothly. Especially not when I'm trying to homeschool three different kids, keep up with two preschoolers, and manage a home.

Thankfully the kind people at Homemaker's Depot graciously sent me one of their homemaking planners to review. They are also generously offering to give away a 2015 and 2016 planner to one of my readers here.

The Homemaker's Friend planner is divided into seven different sections(year, month, pages to plan each week, a place to plan specific projects, a section for personal contact info, and shopping lists to take with you.) Each day also has a place where you can write down your menu plan.

If you'd like to win this beautiful, easy to use planner, enter below! You can also follow Homemaker's Depot on Pinterest here, or subscribe to their newsletter here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

5 Ways I Plan to Enjoy the Homeschool Year

This coming school year, I will have three kids in my official homeschool. All of them will need my help and undivided attention in just about every subject.

Factor that in with the fact that I have a four year old little boy who is obsessed with all things loud, and a two year old who sees it as his main mission in life to destroy everything in sight.

And of course, I still have a house to keep semi clean, laundry to do, and meals to make.

Oh, and still be a loving wife and mama.

Somebody hold me.

Now, to be fair, I realize that I am being a tad over dramatic(just a tad!)

But I will still admit that the thought of homeschooling this year has been seriously intimidating me. 

Because, these last few years I have come to realize something very profound. hard!

That's not to say I regret our decision to homeschool, or that I'm doubting where God has led our family in this area. Just because something is hard, doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, right?

Coming to the realization that this is going to require a lot of hard work on my part, is actually a good thing. And it's caused me to evaluate some ways that I can try to enjoy this coming school year.

1. As much as I can, I will pick a curriculum that excites me. Last year I made the mistake of ordering school books based more on other people's recommendation than on my own teaching style. I'm not a super organized person, so any curriculum that has a bunch of tiny pieces that goes along with it is not going to work very well for our family. I am also not a very crafty mama, so buying books with a heavy emphasis on crafts isn't going to work well for me either.

I decided to evaluate what I actually enjoy doing with my kids and ordered curriculum based on those preferences.

2. I will stick with the curriculum. Confession time: I am a curriculum junkie. I'm constantly second guessing my decisions, and comparing what I'm doing with what my friends/mentors/strangers on the internet are doing with their kids.

Last year we did a program called classical conversations(I also tutored for it.) I also found an older edition of Adventures in My Father's World for a really low price so I bought that to go along with our CC. The problem with doing that(for me at least) was that I was constantly stressing myself out trying to keep up with both schedules. This year I'm going to try and keep things as simple as I can. This year, unless one of my children is really struggling and legitimately needs me to try something different, I'm vowing to stick with what I decided on at the beginning of the year.

3. I will continue to institute daily quiet times. My kids have had to take naps(or rest times when they grew out of naps) their entire lives, and it has been an awesome blessing for all of us. Sometimes I feel guilty that we do this, but honestly, we all benefit from a little alone time each day.

4. I will remember that this is a privilege.  A few years ago, I had a conversation with another homeschool mom that has always stuck with me. We were discussing all the issues that go along with homeschooling when she said,"Really, I think I need to just put a suitcase by the front door to remind myself that one day my kids will grow up and won't live here with me forever. Ten years from now, it's not going to matter if they learned a certain math concept in a day or if it took them an entire year. The thing that matters most is their heart, and letting them see that you're always going to be there for them.

Spending all day with my kids and being able to give them a Christian education is a blessing. This season of life isn't going to last forever, but I will always have a relationship with my kids. I want to remember to embrace this time in my life.

Not only that, but I have a supportive husband who helps with school when he can, and takes the kids frequently so I can plan(or just so I can have some alone time.)

5. I will make time to refresh my soul. Some days my kids wake up before my alarm and by the time nap time arrives I hardly have any space in my brain to study scripture. Sometimes I let these facts of life excuse me from spending time in the Word. Truthfully, on those days, I might not be able to spend as much time as I'd like reading and praying, but I can certainly get creative in making it work. My kids can be taught to have their own quiet times while I have mine.

And on those days when I really need to dig a little deeper into something(and drink my coffee in peace) I can give myself grace to turn on Netflix for a few minutes while I retreat back to my room(the kids will survive!)

Ultimately though, I can't do any of this without remembering to rely on the Lord's strength. As I have prayed and thought about this coming school year, this verse keeps coming to mind:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

That's my plan for trying to enjoy the upcoming school year. I'll let you know in a few months how it's working out. :)

What are some ways that help you enjoy homeschooling?

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Monday, August 3, 2015

14 days of Dinner Inspiration

Does anyone else ever feel like dinner time sneaks up on you? Or as if you’re just making the same things over and over again?
Recently, I’ve been feeling as though I’m in a cooking rut, so to speak. And while I have a pinterest board full of recipe ideas, most of them, when I start to really look at the recipes, sound a little too time intensive for my season of life.
With school getting ready to start, I’ve found that it’s extremely helpful to have a simple menu plan that can last me for two weeks...
Read the rest over at Raising Homemakers!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Surviving a 12 hour road trip(with no DVDS)

Last fall, when Erik and I started telling people we were taking the kids down to Florida, we were met with a variety of reactions.

We were told everything from,"That's so awesome! You guys will have such a great time!" to the surprised, slightly bewildered questions of,"You're going to take five kids to Florida? Like...alone, and stuff?"

But, probably, the most common question we were asked was if we were going to take our van on a 12 hour road trip. Seeing as how it's a twelve year old van, this was a perfectly legitimate concern, er, question.

When we first started planning our trip, we actually were planning on taking our trusty old Odyssey down to Florida. Erik's plan was to do a bunch of work and updates on it before we left, and my plan was to pray it all the way there and back. ;) But, as luck would have it, my mom and dad decided to buy an almost brand new van this past year, and graciously insisted that we borrow it for our vacation.

Their van was perfect for our trip, not only is it a bigger van(that actually seats 8 people, instead of 7 like ours) it was also very dependable and got great gas mileage. So when people heard we were taking my parents van instead of ours they would say,"Oh well, that's great! Is there a DVD player in it?"

But when I would say that,"No, there isn't a DVD player in our van or their van," I'd be met with more blanks stares and questions of how we were planning on doing such a long trip.

Now, let me be honest, and say that I was nervous about how this trip was going to go too. I'm not anti television, by any means, and my kids definitely enjoy watching their shows. I will also admit that the trip, particularly the last two hours on our way down to Florida, was a little rough with children-and parents- just wanting to.get.there.already.

But, thankfully, we were able to come up with a plan, that made taking a 12 hour road trip with five kids under the age of seven go fairly smoothly.

1. Buy some new coloring books/sticker books, and hand them out over the course of the trip. The Friday before we left, I made a dollar store run, where I stocked up on several activity books for the kids. I also splurged a little and bought Jack, Anna, and Lily an Usborne sticker book.

2. Pack special snacks and pass them out throughout the trip. For us that meant that fruit snacks, goldfish crackers, and teddy grahams were being passed out frequently. :)

3. Make your car as comfortable as possible. Our van was pretty much packed to the brim, but we gave each kid their blanket and their favorite stuffed animals to try and keep them as comfortable as we could.

4.Audio Books! We love audio books around here, and we are blessed to have a library that carries a great selection. Some of our favorites have been, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Sign of the Beaver, and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.

5. Tell stories to them about when they were babies, about when you were little, and make up some silly stories with them being the main character. This was something that just randomly happened on our drive, we started telling one of them a story about when they were babies and it quickly turned into more stories about when each of them were babies. My kids especially love it when we make up stories about them(i.e. Once upon a time there was a dinosaur named Maxosaurus and he loved to give Princess Lily rides to South Dakota. My kids really like South Dakota for some reason. Also, as you can see from the above story, I may lack a little bit of creativity when telling my stories.)

All in all our trip to Florida went really well, and now that we are home I can admit how surprised I am that it went as smooth as it did. ;)

What else would you add to this list?

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ripples of Faith

I first heard of Elisabeth Elliot when I was sixteen.
My good friend had loaned me the book,”I kissed dating goodbye,” in an effort to show me there was way more to life than having a boyfriend(which at that point in my life, was a fairly inconceivable notion.)
While reading that book, I kept noticing references to this book called, “Passion and Purity.” The author referenced it so much, that I ended up borrowing it from another friend of mine.
I don’t remember how much of Passion and Purity I actually read, but I do know that God used those two books to help shape how I viewed relationships before marriage.
Read the rest over at Raising Homemakers!

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Vacations, Family Pictures, and Princess Elsa

Two weeks ago, Erik, the kids, and I took a family vacation down to Florida.

It was our first family vacation we had ever taken "just" the seven of us, and we had such a good time(and now that it's over I think I can finally admit how surprised I am over how smooth it all went.)

We spent most of our time hanging out on the beach and enjoying some down time at the condo. Although we did take the kids to an aviation museum, and splurged a little on a dolphin cruise(the kids love dolphins, so we thought that'd be a fun treat for them...and in all honesty it was a treat for me too.;)

On the last night we were there we took the kids on one final walk on the beach. As we were walking along the shore I warned Erik that I was going to be one of "those" tourists and make the next stranger we saw take a family picture for us.

He sighed begrudgingly, but lo and behold when we finally came across another family walking along the shore, he snatched my camera out of my hands and walked up to them and asked them to take a picture of us(I love that man.)

I had no presumptions that this picture would turn out well, but I wanted to have something to prove that we'd all been at the beach. Getting all the kids to look at the camera at the same time is challenging to say the least!

But just as I was about to tell everyone to say "Cheese!" I happened to notice that the lady taking our picture was wearing an Elsa shirt, so I immediately yelled,"Everyone look at Elsa!"

And wouldn't you know, we actually got a picture where everyone is mostly looking where they are suppose to. One of my friends pointed out that Max looks like he's about ready to attack something. What can I say? He's three and he thinks he's a dinosaur. We still have years to teach him the proper way to look at ladies. :)

So now I know. If I want the kids to look at me when I take a picture, I need to wear a Frozen shirt.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Luke Turns 2!

I can hardly believe our little Luke turned two years old last month! These last two years have flown by so fast! 

Luke is such a ham. He's very verbal, has a lot of energy, and is always trying to make everyone laugh(that is, when he's not trying to steal cookies out of the pantry...;)

On his birthday we just had a laid back family day. His birthday was on a Sunday so we went to church, took naps, had pancakes for dinner, and ate hulk cake for desert. 

Seriously, what did we ever do without pinterest?!

Luke loves the Hulk. He loves to stomp around, and growl, "Hulk Smash!" So I knew I had to try and make him a Hulk cake. It might not be as beautiful as the picture I saw on pinterest, but it worked. :) Also, it cracks me up that when Jack turned two, I made him an Elmo cake, and I'm pretty sure he didn't even know who the Hulk was. And now Luke doesn't know who Elmo is, but loves the Hulk.

I'm kidding, Luke definitely knows who Elmo is. :)

Yes, even though it was "just" the seven of us I(with help from some excited brothers and sisters) still made an entire cake and 24 cupcakes. I go overboard sometimes, have I mentioned that?

All of our Avengers. :) At every meal the kids would sing "Happy Birthday" to Luke, so by the time it was actually time to sing to him he sang right along with them.

These last two years have been gone by so fast, but what an incredibly blessed two years it has been. Luke has brought so much joy and laughter to our home. 

Happy Birthday, Luke! We can't wait to see what the Lord does in your life!

Monday, April 20, 2015

My "Complicated" Life

Some days I giggle over how complicated I've made my life.

Motherhood is hard work, so we have five little ones in five years.

And then, once some of those children begin to reach school age, we make the decision to homeschool.

And, as if that didn't already make things "busy", we decide to seriously limit how much television and video game playing the kids do, because we can tell such a difference in their behavior when we limit those things.

Then there are the days, I find myself complaining about how hard this all is.

I whine about how needy they all are, and how I don't feel like there's enough of me to go around. I get frustrated by the messes, the child who isn't understanding a certain math concept, the other child who refuses to potty train,  and the fact that I want some more time to sleep

It's a good thing God pats me on the head and tells me that I'm totally justified in my feelings.

Oh. Wait.

Actually God says he will supply all the grace I need to get through the day. He gently reminds me that when I am weak(which is always) he is strong. I hear him whisper to my heart that I can do all things through him who gives me strength, and to work like I'm working for him.

These children that he's given my husband and I to raise and train, are gifts from him.

This is the life we have made for ourselves. And I wouldn't trade it for anything. No one is making me do this. This is the path that God has led us down.

That doesn't mean it's not hard, or that I'm not an exhausted, weary mess most of the time.

But God, in his mercy, provides all the grace I need to get through these days.

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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Easter 2015

With each passing year, my desire to create lasting memories with my family grows stronger.

Or maybe the fact that my mom was pretty big on holidays, and it's now been passed onto me. 

At any rate, we love holidays around here( husband might not love holidays like I love holidays, but he's a good sport and goes along with my rituals and ideas.;)

On Good Friday we dyed eggs.

They were very excited. :)

Max was completely mesmerized by his purple egg(he was also a fan of throwing the eggs on the floor, just to be sure that they really wouldn't break, ha!)

We also talked about how our sin is dark and ugly. To demonstrate this we rubbed some mud on our arms. Then we talked about how sometimes we try to fix ourselves and make ourselves better, and rubbed a mud soaked rag on our arms to show that even when we try to fix ourselves we can sometimes make things even messier. Finally we washed our arms with clean water, to remind us that only Jesus can wash our sin(thanks for the idea, Mrs. Gore!) I was pleasantly surprised by how much the kids seemed to understand and enjoy this analogy.

On Easter morning we made resurrection rolls .like we did last year, and read the Easter story.

After we rushed around trying to get everyone ready we were able to get some pictures before church.

Sweet sisters. :)

Silly brothers.

The combination of beautiful weather and melted marshmallows for breakfast made for lots of dancing, singing, and giggling. :)

Maybe one day, we'll be able to get everyone to look at the camera at the same time. :) I hope everyone had a great Easter!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

How we do Homeschool

Every once in awhile, I'll receive an email from one of you asking how our family does this "whole homeschooling thing." While I'm happy to answer these questions, I'll be the first to admit that this has all been a huge learning process for me, and that I'm always open to trying new ways of homeschooling. And obviously I've only been doing this for two years so I still have plenty to learn in this area. :) I have tried several different schedules and routines, but for now this seems to be what I default to.

6:30/7:30- Kids usually wake up, typically the girls are the first ones up, and everyone eats breakfast as they wake up. Jack, Anna, and Lily do their morning jobs(pick up rooms, make beds, brush teeth), and I help Luke and Max get dressed and ready for the day.

As soon as Jack finishes his morning list, he comes and sits down to do his math and copywork. I'll try and get Luke, Max, and Lily set up with some water color paints or play dough, then sit down with Anna to do her math and copywork. Whenever Jack finishes, he reads to Lily and Max(we try to let Luke be in that mix too, but it doesn't work out too well yet.) Luke usually ends up on my lap playing with the math-u-see blocks while I do Anna's reading lesson.

Once Anna and I finish up, we all gather in the living room for "circle time." We start off with our Bible reading-which I usually have Jack read to us, although sometimes Jack and I take turns, then we move on to talking about the calendar and what day of the week it is. We might also try and do our Classical Conversations memory work if everyone's not getting too restless by the end of calendar time.

Circle time moves into reading time. We usually read some picture books that the kids have picked out, and then we'll read some books that have to do with the history and science we're talking about at the time.

By this point everyone's tired and restless(including me, if I'm being honest) so we take a break and have a snack, and the kids play for awhile.

At some point I'll have Jack read to me from his chapter book we're working on, and then Anna will usually request me to read some American girl to her, which Lily is always more than happy to sit in on. The little boys are usually alternating between clinging to me and playing trains and dinosaurs by now. :)

Twice a week, I aim to do spelling with Jack and Anna, and do some copywork with Lily. While I do spelling with Anna, Jack does letter flashcards with Lily(having an older child is so helpful!) Luke and Max make huge messes do blanket time during this.

By the time we make it through all this, it's lunch time and everyone needs a break. After lunch, I try to clean up a bit, and then spend a little time playing with the little boys before I put them down for their nap. Before nap I try(although I'm not always great about it) to sing and read them one more book of their choosing.

Once Luke and Max are settled into their naps, I pull out the legos for the older three kids and I read to them from our chapter book. Once a week, they'll do written/drawing narrations from what we've read, and depending on the day we might do classical music study, a science experiment, or an art project.

I aim to be done around 2, and then the older three kids go have quiet time. They usually draw, play legos, or play with their dolls. When it's nice out they play outside, but since it's winter right now, they have to make do with more legos and drawing. :)

And...I usually squeal and giggle as I walk to the living room, and collapse on the couch for the remainder of nap time, thankful to have made it through another day of homeschool. :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lily Turns 5

Last week my spunky little Lily turned 5! Oh, my does this little girl keep us on our toes! :)

About a week before her birthday, I decided to throw a smallish princess birthday party for her during the week with a few of her friends. And then it worked out that both sets of grandparents were also going to be able to come in town on her party, and since her party wasn't even on her actual birthday, we had a lot of celebrating last weekend!

We started out the party by decorating cupcakes:

And, lest you think that there's a lot of kids in this picture...

We had the big boys decorate their cupcakes at a separate table. :)

Next we played the "Tangled" game, where the kids had to wrap each other up in Rapunzel's hair(also known as yellow crepe paper.) We tried to make it a race, but it got a little hectic, and then the kids decided it would be more fun to tangle up the moms.

Ha! Not a bad idea, I have to say. After the party my mom, mother in law, Anna and I took Lily to get her ears pierced..

But then she saw these Princess Elsa bears at Build a Bear, and changed her mind about getting her ears pierced. "I'll get my ears pierced next year!" She declared as soon as she saw the bears. Ha! I suppose if Disney doesn't come out with any new princess movies this year, that might be her birthday present next year. :)

On her actual birthday, we had a pretty relaxed day of church going and hanging out as a family. But we did eat nutella on everything for lunch, and had birthday strawberry cheesecake that night, so I think her birthday was a success.

Lily is so spunky, outgoing, and full of energy. Anna is her best friend, and she dotes on Luke. She has a big heart that loves babies, and she's always looking for ways to make us laugh.

Happy birthday, Lily, we pray every day that you will grow in your love for the Lord, and that you'll follow Jesus with your whole heart!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

My favorite books of 2014(plus a giveaway of some of my favorites!)

One of my favorite things to do when I was a child was cuddle up in my moms lap and read books with her. When I got a little older, and entered elementary school, my mom took a part time job at our local library, and I literally spent hours after school and during the summer surrounded by good books. Eventually, it got to a point where I would spend most of my free time reading, even to the point of keeping a flashlight in our car so that I could read on long car rides in the dark.

I have always loved to read, and while I might not have quite as much free time to spend reading as I used to, I still managed to read some good books this year.

First up is a book I read over the summer, called Atlas Girl. It's basically a memoir of the author, Emily Wierenga's life. The story takes you back to her childhood as a missionary/pastors child in Africa, through her battle with anorexia, to caring for her sick mother who has a brain tumor. It's a raw story, and I was completely hooked within the first couple of pages. In fact I finished it within two days.

Another favorite from this past year was Treasuring Christ when your hands are full by Gloria Furman. Every page of this book is full of gospel truth, and how it applies to us as mamas.Gloria's heart for the Lord shines through this book, and it encouraged my heart tremendously to keep seeking him and pointing my children to him. It was a needed reminded to not focus so much on the here and now, and to "stamp eternity on my eyeballs." If you are a mama in the trenches, do yourself a favor and get this book. 

This was more of a fun read for me. I grew up watching full house, and always loved Candace Cameron's character DJ. It was interesting to read about her childhood and getting a more "behind the scenes" look at what was going on while she was on the show. She also shares what life was like after Full House ended, and how she became a Christian. It's basically her life story so far, and it was a really fun and enjoyable read!

With 5 young kids and homeschooling, I think it's safe to say I have been in "survival mode" off and on for a few years, so I was excited to get to read this book by Crystal Paine earlier this year. Not only does she give you practical ways you can simplify your life, she also shares some of her own story of how she got out of her own survival mode.

Some other books I read this year were Trim Healthy Mama(loved it!), Educating the Wholehearted Child(also loved it:), and Large Family Logistics(this one was just ok.)

Would you like to win a copy of Atlas Girl, Treasuring Christ When Your hands are full, or Say Goodbye to Survival Mode?!

Just enter below and I'll pick a random winner by the end of the week. :)

Linked to the Modest Mom & So Much At Home.

(amazon links are affiliates.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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