Cutest Blog and Widdlytink

My Stick Family from

Dec 30, 2015

Chalkboard Vases and Jars

At co-op last year, we decided to have each family make or buy individual thank you gifts for our board members rather than give an impersonal gift card.  This is the craft I decided on.

I used Valspar Chalkboard spray paint to cover some inexpensive glass vases.  It was a really simple process and I was pleased with the results.  The finished product was nice and smooth.  I wrote a monogram on each vase and covered *just the monogram* with hairspray to seal it.  That left the rest of the vase to be decorated and changed by the recipient however and as often as they wanted.  Just an FYI, if you make this project, when I sprayed the sealant, the monograms became very light until it dried.  I would not expect the monogram to hold up to much washing.  But how much washing does a chalkboard vase need?

I also had these hinged jars.  They're a lot like old mason jars.  Since I had chalkboard paint left over, I removed the metal hardware and sprayed these two jars as well.  I gave one to Trish for her birthday (along with a "I eat glitter for breakfast" Tshirt).

I finished up with three small magnet boards.  I had purchased them at The Christmas Tree Shop ages ago.  I always want to spell that shoppe.  I hot glued magnets to some neat flat, white, glass pebbles I had.  Those were gifted to my mom, step-mom, and mother-in-law.  I was a little disappointed in the texture and am not sure if it was because I painted metal, the weather the day I worked on them, or because it was nearing the end of the can of paint.

Crafts / Handiwork Ideas and Tutorials

Dec 28, 2015

The Everywhere God Review and Giveaway

I've been included in a mini-launch for a sweet new, godly children's book. Cricket's father, Pastor Bob Nelson, wrote a lovely poem for a family member during a tough time.  The poem is warm and endearing.  Coupled with watercolor illustrations by Robin Tillman, it also makes a lovely book.  The Everywhere God is available in paperback or Kindle.

Pastor Nelson's poem is poised to become a children's classic.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading every line.  The tempo worked well.  The illustrated situations, both serious and silly, remind us that God is everywhere and with us always.  It's a great reminder for everyone.  If you're a grown up lucky enough to get to read this book to children, you will find a pleasant few minutes shared in conversation about the Creator who loves you.

My three year old, Merrick, declared this was his favorite book ever.  I often noticed the eight and ten year old also reading the story at random downtime moments over the past week.  With the hustle and bustle leading up to Christmas, it was a joy to see them redirecting their focus.

Enter the giveaway below.  Four readers will win.

The Everywhere God Giveaway This giveaway will have 4 winners. The grand prize winner will receive a new Fire 7" Tablet loaded with the Kindle edition of The Everywhere God.  The Fire tablet includes: 
  • Beautiful 7" IPS display (171 ppi / 1024 x 600) and fast 1.3 GHz quad-core processor. Rear and front-facing cameras.
  • All-new Amazon Underground, a one-of-a-kind app store experience where over $10,000 in apps, games and even in-app items are actually free - including extra lives, unlocked levels, unlimited add-on packs and more
  • Enjoy more than 38 million movies, TV shows, songs, books, apps and games
  • 8 GB of internal storage. Free unlimited cloud storage for all Amazon content and photos taken with Fire devices. Add a microSD card for up to 128 GB of additional storage.
  • Updated user interface - Fire OS 5 designed for quick access to your apps and content plus personalized recommendations that make it easy to discover new favorites
  • Up to 7 hours of reading, surfing the web, watching videos, and listening to music
  • Stay connected with fast web browsing, email, and calendar support
Three more winners will each win a print copy of The Everywhere God
The Everywhere God is a book about hope for children of all ages. Written for his young granddaughter during a particularly difficult time, the late Pastor Bob Nelson wanted to be sure she knew God was with her no matter what else was happening. Despite people and circumstances, his message is clear, God never leaves or forgets about us and His love never ends. Upon it's completion, he knew it was something special and wanted to make it a children's book. Unfortunately, time passed and things never fell into place for his vision to come to life. He passed away in 2008 before he could see it happen. More than 20 years after it's original writing, Bob Nelson's daughter remembered this treasured poem and like her father, felt it needed to be shared with the world. For many years she kept this special story in the back of her heart and always dreamed of making his vision for a children's book a reality.
To enter the giveaway, please use the Rafflecopter below after reading the terms and conditions.  a Rafflecopter giveaway Terms and Conditions: This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.  Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no away associated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. No purchase necessary for entry. Odds are determined by the number of entries. Selected winners will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prizes or another winner will be drawn. Entry into this giveaway will subscribe you to The Everywhere God email list.

Dec 24, 2015

Mac and Cheese with or without a Southwestern Twist

The original recipe from Hillshire Farm:


  • 4 Hillshire Farm® Turkey Pepper Jack Links
  • 1 pkg. (7.25 ounces) macaroni and cheese mix
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • ½ cup prepared salsa
  • 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
  • 1 cup corn chips, crushed (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut links into 1-inch pieces; set aside. Cook macaroni in a large pan of boiling water for 7 minutes or until tender; drain well. 2. In medium bowl combine cooked macaroni, contents of cheese sauce packet, milk and butter. Stir until butter is melted. Stir in salsa, corn, links and ½ cup of the cheese. 3. Place mixture in a greased 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining Monterey Jack cheese combined with corn chips, if desired. Bake, uncovered, 25-30 minutes or until hot.

This is how I changed it.
We buy a variety of Hillshire smoked sausage pretty regularly, so I just sliced up half of whatever I had on hand.  Rather than a boxed mac and cheese, I just cooked half a pound of rotini (or spiral, or whatever you call it in your area!).  I used a can of Mexican corn instead of frozen corn.  Lastly, I added more cheeses since I didn't make boxed macaroni.  It turned out pretty good, actually.

Now, recipe reviews where people say, "This recipe is amazing.  Here is how I replaced or omitted every single ingredient..." drive me up a tree.  That's why I'm not rating or reviewing the Hillshire recipe.  I'm posting for two reason.  1) I can find it again.  2) To encourage you to try a new recipe even if you don't have what seems like required ingredients.

Dec 21, 2015

Chocolate Cookie Train

This is not a review of this Chocolate Cookie Train Kit, per se, just a bit about our cookie decorating night which included said train.

We had talked to Beepa of the Forest (my mother-in-law) about her redneck gingerbread house when they visited last week.

So on a trip to Walmart, I saw the cookie train and knew my guys would love that.  I also knew Malachi would no-way-no-how-not-in-a-million-years eat those chocolate cookies.  I made a batch of sugar cookie trains for him, as well as some bells, stars, and trees.

Now, this is not my first cookie decorating rodeo with these guys.  I expected frustration, messiness, and grabbiness.  I was not disappointed.  They all came to the party.  *This time,* I was mentally prepared and I really didn't care.  I wasn't prepared for this whole fiasco, though.  I couldn't find food coloring or my sprinkles.  So, the white frosting I made remained white.  The cookie train came with frosting, too.  It was green.  And white...  Gumdrops, candy beads, and fondant were also included.  I scrounged up purple sugar and white decorating sugar and rainbow jimmies.

Also, it turns out, the train is supposed to be glued together the day before you decorate it. HA!  This thing wasn't actually going to sit around uneaten for days!  So, I finally had everything together and the boys started frosting train parts and eating the cookies I had baked.  I gave Merrick a bowl of frosting with a knife, Xav had the white frosting bag and Mal had the green frosting in a bag.  Merrick's frosting (which I had made) didn't stick to the cookie when he tried to spread it on. Xav blew out the decorator tip within seconds of starting, so he was squeezing giant blobs of frosting everywhere.  Mal did really well making nice lines of frosting and putting all the candy balls on his train.  ALL The Candy Balls.  Sigh...  By the time I sat down to decorate some cookies so Daddy would actually have a few frosted cookies, the candy balls and gumdrops were gone.  I may have stolen a few candy beads from Malachi's engine, since we weren't going to eat it anyway.

The boys were curious about the use of the "brick" cookies, as Merrick called them.  I showed them how we could have used them to hold the trains upright.  "Why would you do that?" they asked.  "Well," I said, "people put them together, decorate them, and leave them out to look at."  They were shocked.  Who doesn't eat cookies?

I got it into my head to try a chocolate cookie.  Good grief!  What was I thinking?!  Horrible!  Terrible!  F!  I realize that many people who buy a cookie kit, will display and never eat the cookie train, but seriously!  I can't possibly be the only mom with kids who would rather eat it.

Next time, we'll just do our usual bake, frost, decorate, and eat cookies.  Everyone will be so much happier.  I'll definitely look for more fun candy toppings than just sugar and sprinkles, though.

PS.  The train kit also included detailed instructions and a Wilton Cake Decorating class on Craftsy.

Dec 11, 2015

A Hike and a Drive ~ Field Trip Friday

This was actually a Tuesday field trip.  I'll just post it on a Friday.  'Cause it's my blog, I can do that. 

Over "The Notch".

This is a gorgeous narrow, curvy road that goes over the mountain.  It's seasonal and also is actually closed frequently even in the summer because tractor trailer drivers regularly miss the very large signs telling them not to proceed.  Sigh.  This is actually a pretty small sign.  There are several on each side.  One is *huge*.

We have lovely hiking there, though I have only been about halfway. There are a lot of stone steps in the beginning that are tough on my knees. I figure it's OK, it is a “difficult” level hike, after all. Micah always claims it's a nice *family* hike...

Once I've gone far enough, I head back to the car to read and people watch while the boys move on with dad. The people watching part is also good fun.

Dec 1, 2015

Merrick Loves "School"

I remember, back in the olden days, when a child of mine would go through an "I love school" phase.
It's been a few years since anyone here has loved school.  Including me. *sob*  But Merrick thinks he needs school all day, every day.  If I give him a stack of schoolish papers and projects to do, he would sit and work through it until it was done or time to eat again.

Just yesterday, he grabbed a piece of paper from a stack of math review sheets and asked me, "How many does plus times eight equal?"

Nov 27, 2015

Hey There, Delilah

There's nothing sweeter than a boy and his dad, singing a duet.

Xav made Merrick a "guitar" to play while he accompanied his dad.  Micah had a rough time keeping a straight face.

Nov 23, 2015

Funny Find - Snickers

I think the folks at Mars were inspired by a few members of my family when they labeled these Snickers bars.

Nov 15, 2015

Recipe - Creamy Banana Bread

The ripe bananas have been sitting on the counter calling to me for a few days.  I finally got around to making banana bread and we've all been scarfing down this amazing bread all afternoon.  We can't seem to stop eating it!  Merrick was my assistant cook.  He "reads" the recipe to me as well as any three year old can and he dumps the food I measure into the mixing bowl.

I used my usual plain old banana bread recipe, but I decided a few spices would be fun.  I added a bit of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and a tiny shake of ground clove.  Of course, I didn't measure any, but it really was just a taste of each.  That's just how I cook, if no one has an exact recipe.  I also add chocolate chunks because I don't love nuts in baked goods.  Then the party started.  I found this recipe and made the cream cheese filling for it.  The egg in the cream cheese kind of threw me off.  To me, cream cheese is mostly for bagels.  Who mixes it with raw eggs and bakes it?  Very smart people, let me tell you!

First, I used the small and medium Pampered Chef scoop thingies to make muffins.  One medium scoop of batter, one small scoop of filling, topped off with about half of a medium scoop of batter.  Then I still had plenty for a large loaf of bread.  I did the same thing in the loaf pan; batter, filling, batter.

Four out of five loved it.  Malachi refused to even try it.  His loss and the more there is for us!  Now I think I've eaten too much to exercise tonight!

Nov 9, 2015

My CFS chapel 2015

I can't believe we are on our *seventh* year at Christian Friday School.  Time flies.  Each year, all the kiddos are assigned a week to present on a topic of their choice or play an instrument.  Moms get to come up with a chapel presentation.  Some moms invite a guest to do their chapel.  I admit, every year I am sorely tempted to do the same thing.  I haven't yet, but I do half-heartedly attempt to get Micah to do it for me. He won't present, but he does sometimes help me prepare.  

My chapel presentation at Friday School this year was a mixture of Micah's idea last spring and some thoughts I had as I started to try to put it together. Every year, I think of some great chapel ideas. I never write them down. So when Micah suggested a topic along the lines of “Don't believe the lies you're told, you have value.” and mentioned someone trying to sell a rare comic book and being told it was worthless by the nefarious comic book store owner, I wrote it down. I've read it a few times since then and I've mulled over how to make it my own, keeping the great message.

What I ended up doing, was a game show. I invited three of our co-op drama kids to help me out as well as one mom. Each of the girls were given the assignment of finding some crazy object around the house and making up a silly story about it's origin, uses, and value. Then I (the crooked talk show host) would try to take advantage of them.

Two of my helpers were very quick to “sell” their items to me. One, in exchange for a “genuine” chicken egg (a pink, plastic egg) and one for a candle with the wick removed (so it could never be lit, natch!). The third girl flat out refused my offers of pocket lint, fame, fortune, etc. It was quite frustrating, actually. But our co-op mom stood behind her and kept telling her encouraging words about her value as a child of God. 

At the end of the show, I asked her how she was able to resist the wonders I offered. She had a Bible. And darn it all, she *read* it!

Then I spoke about the enemy's lies. The egg represented the false things we believe are true, how something can be nearly right, but deceives us. The candle without a wick could never be lit. The darkness can never overcome light, but without that wick, this particular candle can't shine.

The real “secret” is to hide God's Word in our hearts. Memorizing verses can seem tedious. Maybe we think we've forgotten all the verses we've memorized. But when the time comes and we really need a verse, it's still there. We find it when we need comfort, protection, and guidance.

What are some lies you've been told?  Do you know your true value?


Aug 28, 2015

What's a Parent Training Center? And a Book Review

As part of the Parent Training Center blog launch, I have had the opportunity to review Parenting is Heart Work by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller.  I love the idea of a heart based parenting approach and this book has been on my short list for a long time.  I think a lot of the Turansky/Miller books were at one time on my short list and are now on my book shelf or Kindle!

I have let bad parenting habits take root, just like the boys have some bad behavior that has become habitual.  They're just automatic reactions and don't require any real thought.  Together, we are working to change these harmful relational patterns.  I have *reasons,* or excuses, for why things get the way they sometimes do, but I know I wouldn't accept those excuses from my boys.  I really can't use them myself.

Parenting is Heart Work is divided into four sections.  Each part starts off with a look at a heart issue from the Bible.  We read about David, Abraham, Nehemiah, and Hezekiah and their struggles in their hearts.  Each of the chapters ends with a moving prayer.  You may use that or use the information covered in the chapter to raise your own prayer.

Part 1: Understanding the Heart
A Heart Story from the Bible
1.   What is the Heart? (Part 1)
2.   What is the Heart? (Part 2)
3.   Will I or Won’t I?
4.   Do It Like You Mean It

Part 2: Connecting With Your Child’s Heart
A Heart Story from the Bible
5.   Emotions Have Feelings Too
6.   Turn on Their Heart Lights
7.   Avoiding Congestive Heart Failure
8.   Making the Connection

Part 3: Working Out Heart Change
A Heart Story from the Bible
9.   Talking to Yourself
10. Teaching Your Child’s Heart
11.  Meditation Management
12.  A Light on the Path to Heart Change

Part 4: Touching Your Child’s Heart
A Heart Story from the Bible
13. Constructive Correction
14. Turn Around for Change
15. Defibrillating Your Child’s Heart
16. Cross Your Heart

Parenting is Heart Work is published by David C Cook.
256 page paperback
Retail $15.99

Why am I telling you about Parenting is Heart Work?  Well, because it is an essential part of every Parent Training Center.  And what is a Parent Training Center?  From the NCBPwebsite:  "It's a new initiative from The National Center for Biblical Parenting.  It is a church that intentionally trains parents, providing resources and tools both for discipleship of believers and for evangelism to families in the community."

The discipleship mandate applies to more than individuals.  Churches can be helping and strengthening their families by equipping them with the tools necessary to reach the hearts of children.  The National Center for Biblical Parenting provides the church with the guidance and support to equip families.

The cost: $200 the first year and $100 each year thereafter.  (The first 20 Early Adopters can receive a discount of $50 using code PTC5D upon checkout.)

Learn more:

Aug 4, 2015

This Giveaway is for You! from NCBP

A great new giveaway from National Center for Biblical Parenting.  This time the prize is for you.  I'll be sharing more about Parenting is Heart Work here on the blog very soon.  Good luck!

Heart Parenting Giveaway

We are back with another great giveaway from the folks at the National Center for Biblical Parenting. This one is for the parents and includes a great little camera, as well as a $50 Amazon gift card! Here's what your church could win: 

Parenting Is Heart Work ($15 value)

This foundational parenting book starts with a study of the 750 times the word “heart” is used in the Bible. That changes everything. God’s Word reveals new insight into strategies for change in a person’s life. Concordia University’s Family Ministry Program requires that every student read Parenting is Heart Work. Dr. Ben Freudenburg says, “This is our go-to book for parenting. It’s biblical practical approach is powerful.”

Parenting Is Heart Work Training Manual ($50 value)

The Heart Work Training Manual with Audio Sessions is designed to help you integrate key success principles into your family. Answer the questions in the lesson, look up the scriptures, reflect on the teaching, and watch yourself make significant changes in the ways you relate. When parents change, children change. You’ll love the difference.

Canon Powershot ELPH 170 IS ($150 value) 

High quality still images and video are practically effortless with the slim and stylish new PowerShot ELPH 170 IS camera. The ideal tool for capturing everything from daily fun to special occasions, it's equipped with a powerful 12x Optical Zoom for maximum versatility, plus Intelligent IS to make images clear and almost shake-free even at high zoom lengths. Sharp, high-resolution imaging is fast and easy thanks to the 20.0 Megapixel* sensor and DIGIC 4+ Image Processor. Beautiful 720p HD video is as simple as pressing a button, while Smart AUTO intelligently selects just the right camera settings based on predefined shooting situations, so all different types of shots come out perfectly. 

Amazon $50 Gift Card

A fun gift of $50 to spend at


To enter, please use the Rafflecopter below.
 a Rafflecopter giveaway Terms and Conditions: This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only.  Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no away associated with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.. No purchase necessary for entry. Odds are determined by the number of entries. Selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.  Entrants to this giveaway will be added to the email list for the National Center of Biblical Parenting.

Jul 28, 2015

Parent Training Center Giveaway for Churches

Several years ago, I purchased Hero Training Camp from the National Center for Biblical Parenting.  Since then, I've used quite a few of the parenting resources NCBP has available and I've been happy to tell you about a few of them.  This new resource for churches is no different.  I'm pleased to share this giveaway to help make *your* church a Parent Training Center!  Good luck!

A Parent Training Center is a church that intentionally trains parents, providing resources and tools both for discipleship of believers and for evangelism to families in the community.
The National Center for Biblical Parenting offers resources, and practical support to help you become the Parent Training Center God designed. The Equipping Program contains a number of mobilization tools to help you advance to the next level in your parent discipleship ministry.
With this program you'll interact with experts as well as other pastors and church leaders. Receive personalized guidance for your unique church situations. Use resources that will equip your parents to reach their children's hearts.
Parent Training Center Giveaway for Churches

To introduce your church to the Parent Training Center concept, we are hosting an awesome giveaway that includes some of our best church and parent training resources, along with a $100 gift certificate to the National Center for Biblical Parenting store. Here's what your church could win: 

Parenting Is Heart Work DVD Church Kit ($199.95 value)

Equip parents to touch the hearts of their kids with this biblically-based, practical training program. Parents and teachers of children 2-18 years will benefit from this life-changing curriculum. The Parenting is Heart Work Church Kit includes: • Eight 35-minute video sessions • A Leader's Guide with reproducible pages for attendees • A copy of the 256 page book Parenting is Heart Work
The videos were filmed before a live audience of parents and children. Using drama, Bible stories, and lots of illustrations, Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN will energize you and provide you with tools you need to strengthen your family. Use this eight-part video series in your church, small group, or even in your own family. Many times parents have to change the way they parent in order for children to change the way they live.

The Family Toolbox DVD Church Kit ($179.95 value)

The Family Toolbox has 8 lessons for parents, teens, or both in a small group setting. Each one has a 1-2 minute scene of a family living life and experiencing common challenges in their relationships. A discussion guide prompts dialogue among parents and a 10-minute teaching session featuring Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN gives practical tools to use right away.
As the group works through the lessons parents learn:
• How to focus on the heart instead of just behavior • The cues you give that tell your children when you mean business • Practical ways to remove conflict from the problems of family life • How to end correction times with impact • A tool for maximizing heart change in the correction process • The value of teaching kids to accept no as an answer • Ways to reduce anger episodes in children
The Family Toolbox is designed for families with children ten years old and up and is an excellent resource for small groups. Each lesson can be done in 20-30 minutes, but could also lead to discussion and dialogue lasting an hour or more.

Coupon to purchase resources in the NCBP Store ($100 value)

Visit the NCBP store to discover a plethora of church and parent training resources. 


To enter, please use the Rafflecopter below. a Rafflecopter giveaway Terms and Conditions: This giveaway is open to residents of the U. S. only.  Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no away associated with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.. No purchase necessary for entry. Odds are determined by the number of entries. Selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.  Entrants to this giveaway will be added to the email list for the National Center of Biblical Parenting.

Jun 10, 2015

Motivate Your Child Action Plan {Review}

This post may contain affiliate links.

I recently had the opportunity to read and now review another National Center for Biblical Parenting product.  This follow up book, Motivate Your Child Action Plan, has just been released.  Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller have co-authored another convicting parenting guide.  You do not need to have a copy of Motivate Your Child to use with the MYC Action Plan, though it is helpful.  It was an excellent resource and I reviewed it as well.  Motivate Your Child is referred to frequently in footnotes throughout the MYC Action Plan, letting you know when it would be a good time to read a specific chapter.

In identifying conscience prompters, I found a long list of traits of good character.  Each is to be marked Already Strong or Needs Improvement.  This section was a bit disheartening, and I know I wasn't the only reviewer who felt this way.  While it was encouraging to know others are in the same boat, I also hated to hear how many good people are struggling with their kids. The enemy is dangerous and these are troubling times. This book really brings to mind the very real war we are engaged in for our children's eternities.

Thankfully, we were able to get some clarification from Dr. Turansky who said, "If you have a lot of things and wonder which direction to go first, just choose one that the Lord impresses on your heart. The interesting thing about the heart is that when you work on one area often you'll see other areas of the heart change as well."  You are also encouraged to group like issues together.  Fifteen traits which need improvement can easily become four general issues to tackle.  That simplified matters so much when taken in smaller bites.  

"Meetings" have become more frequent.  I hold a conference with one boy or another every few days.  Sometimes we just chat about our concerns and sometimes we have an all out brain storming session.  The boys still tend to not be especially helpful here, I get a lot of "I don't knows."  Something that has helped give me insight into their minds and hearts was when Daddy asked them some of those interview questions you sometimes see.  How do you know Mom loves you?  What is something Mom is not very good at?  How old is Mom?  (OK, that last one wasn't relevant, but the replies really cracked me up!)  Some of their answers were eye-opening and gave me plenty to think about!

One of the things I've needed to do during our chats is try to remember to change up my vocabulary.  The boys have heard "obey" and "be kind" so much, they just tune it out.  I know they need more clear instruction and to hear words they aren't already sick of hearing.

I've been using far too much reactive parenting.  I don't respond well to issues that arise, mostly because it's the same issues again and again.

Likely, the change in your child will require change in you.
                                         page 14

I've found very clear encouragement and assistance in the MYC Action Plan in the form of dialog examples and fill-in sections for my own thoughts on each boys' specific needs (as well as my own!).  This isn't a book that was written as a "one and done" read.  I will be able to use the information to map a route to our character destination at each phase of their time with us in the family home.

Motivate Your Child Action Plan includes 12 audio session downloads which correlate with each chapter of the book.  The chapters are
  • Change in Forty Days
  • Where Do You Want to Go?
  • The Map to Get There
  • Working Together
  • A Place For Firmness
  • Visioning Moves You Forward
  • Teaching Shows the Way
  • Spiritual Energy Provides Strength
  • Coaching Sets the Attitude
  • Building Motivation from Within
  • Growing Together
  • Good Theology Makes it Work

If you've never heard Dr. Turansky speak on radio shows or at a conference, I think you'll really enjoy listening to him and to Mrs. Miller.

Motivate Your Child Action Plan is a 162 page paperback published by The National Center for Biblical Parenting.
List Price $39.95, is currently $29.95 (a savings of 25%)

National Center for Biblical Parenting on social media
NCBP on Facebook
NCBP on Twitter 
Motivate Your Child Pinterest Board

May 3, 2015

Not So Clean

Step 1.  Sit on the kitchen floor.

Step 2.  Pray hard.

Step 3.  When you open your eyes, look around before you get up.

You will be amazed by all the hidden dirt you can't see when you aren't praying.

Feb 15, 2015

Two Left Feet ...or, Something Like that

Did your kids ever struggle figuring out which shoe goes on which foot?  Mine have, and sometimes still do.  They would be struggling to cram a foot into the wrong shoe, I'd correct them and that same rebellious shoe would miraculously slide right onto the right foot.  Sometimes, they'd get both shoes on wrong.  I'd get them to switch while they bemoaned that they'd never get it right.  Sometimes, I let them stay wrong-footed.  No harm in that, I thought.

Today's high temp is below zero F.  It's "wicked cold," as the New Englanders like to say.  I ran out to care for the chickens.  Normally, the water stays warm enough with a lightbulb for heat that I can just knock the frozen ring off the surface of the water.  Not so today.  I brought the waterer in to thaw and refill, which meant kicking off my clunky winter boots.  You see where this is going, right?

Armed with fresh, warm water for Fluffy, Fluffy, Fluffy, Fluffy, and Fluffy (Xav named them.  Don't look at me like that.), I wrestled on a boot.  Immediately, I knew it was wrong, but I just wanted to get out and back as quickly as possible.  With both boots on, I headed down the back stairs.  It felt so wrong.  Then I went out front to grab the newspaper and I realized what a bad decision it was not to take the time to fix the problem.

When you are walking on soft snow or even semi-packed snow, walking is difficult enough.  Add in wrong-footed shoes and you are just asking for trouble.  There is NO support under the outside edge of your foot.  Zero.  Your ankles roll.  A lot.  Uphill.  In the snow.  Both ways.  (I crack myself up!)

I advise correcting your child's shoe placement every time.  And maybe watch yourself.  Sigh...  Someday I'll be all grown up.

Jan 31, 2015

Parenting the Heart and Motivating Your Child

This post contains affiliate links.

I was invited to read and review the book Motivate Your Child by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller.  If you aren't familiar with the National Center for Biblical Parenting (NCBP), I recommend you check them out.  At the website, you can commit to Parent the Heart of your child (nearly 1,000 people already have), listen to the weekly podcast, sign up to receive email tips, and read a great blog.

The newest release at NCBP is the book, Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told.  That's a long title.  It's also a great book.  Authors Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN have collaborated on another practical work which includes real-life conversations between parents and children or that he has had in his counseling sessions. All of the conversations in this book were realistic and very doable.  I didn't once read a dialogue and think, "who talks like that?" or "do other four year olds really respond like that?"

I may not have ever mentioned that one of the reasons I did not reapply to The Schoolhouse Review Crew this year was because of my conviction to free up some time to be more intentional about discipling (and disciplining) the punks.  See, I love my boys so very much and I want to be doing my best to raise godly, self-controlled, motivated children.  Dave was so easy to raise (thank God, because I did it alone), I thought I was an amazing parent.  My parenting skills would be like a shining beacon and all who saw my children would be amazed.  Ta-Da!
And then I had Malachi.
And Xavier.
And Merrick.
See that child tantruming in the produce section?  My kids will never do that.  Oh, and look at that little cherub there, throwing a toy train at his brother.  My kids...  Oh.  Wait.  They do that.

Oh how The Lord must laugh at our human prides.

Not one of these last three has been an "easy" kid.  They all have different personalities, which I expected.  I did not expect the range of "issues" we'd experience parenting them.  I learned, very early in this book, that children who are characterized as strong-willed actually have a lot of internal motivation.  I have one child who frequently tells me, "I want what I want when I want it."  Well, that kind of attitude certainly doesn't sway me, but I can see how very strongly he feels.  Motivate Your Child is providing me with valuable insight and plenty of tools to place in my parenting toolbox.

I found several wonderful bible illustrations and activities smattered throughout Motivate Your Child.  The first one in the book and the one I knew the boys would really love, is what Dr. Turansky refers to as "the stupid verse."

We *aren't supposed to* use that word (among others) in our home.  Xav was practically giddy to read it for me several times.  Sigh...  There was a great conversation in the book and I took it a bit further with some thoughts I had.  We have one boy who is incredibly hard on himself and every mistake makes him stupid or bad.  I wanted to begin a more thorough discussion with him than just saying the usual things we say, which don't seem to help.  I talked to Mal and Xav about how my whole job is to teach them.  Some things they just haven't fully learned yet.  We talked about babies and how little they are able to comprehend and how much they have learned in their lives and how very much they will still learn about later.  We had a wonderful conversation which I hope implanted some new thoughts about themselves.  Hopefully, just the first of the many heart parenting conversations we will have.  MYC provided a great jumping off point to develop a real training session about something very important to us.

"Too many kids say unhelpful things in their hearts.  
Parents can write the script of things that are more appropriate."
page 22

The advice in Motivate Your Child applies to all of us, every single person.  So many times I read "children" and knew that I would benefit from the information myself.  We've slipped into many bad habits of relating with each other in negative ways.  One thing I've noticed about myself, my tone of voice is sometimes harsher than I mean for it to be, even when I'm not irritated with anyone.  Habits get so deeply ingrained they are difficult to break.  I'm learning all kinds of valuable tips and actual steps to take to break free from my own attitude and build new relationships with each of my children.

Motivate Your Child sounds like the title of a book to get your children to do their chores and help around the house, but it's really about relationships and getting our hearts right.  Developing the heart qualities described in the book, will help us be caring, helpful, self-motivated people.  The people who will be the godly leaders of the future, people who can make an impact.

By becoming self-motivated, there is no longer a need for a reward system.  Children who are rewarded for good behavior and cooperation expect larger, more expensive rewards as they grow.  We've often punished by taking away a toy or privilege.  Usually, in our home, that means someone loses the one TV show they get each day.  Often that threat gets a response, but they are angry.  We're angry, too.  With Motivate Your Child, I'm learning better ways.  Parenting the heart means to train your child to consider the needs of others, use their time wisely, and to see what needs to be done and do it without being told.

"If you want your child to fly straight, teach them obedience.  
If you want them to fly high, teach them honor."
page 85

Our new rules when asked to complete something are
  • Do your best.
  • Have a good attitude (happy heart).
  • Make it better.
We're cutting down on grumping and stomping when given an assignment.  The boys are being reminded that we're all part of the family and everyone gets the privilege of contributing. What I mean by "make it better," is taking a look around a room or finishing a task and finding one more thing you can do.  It's sort of like the cherry on top of a job well done.

Micah told me his mother taught him that if you borrow something, you return it in better condition than when you took it.  He once told me about borrowing a baking pan.  It had the usual stuff baked onto it.  The kind of stuff that just seems to become part of the pan.  When he returned it, it was shiny again.  That's a great example of doing that "one more thing."

The second part of the book is a wonderful guide to spiritual development of children.  This section is also greatly encouraging to parents to help us be the main spiritual guide for our children.

"Send your child to church - spiritually feed him for a day.  
Live it out at home - spiritually feed him for life."
p 241

This section covers when you encounter resistance from your children, preparing children to face the challenges of life, how do train your children when you're going solo, and many other topics.  To be 100% honest,  I haven't finished this half of the book.  I have found myself reading, re-reading, and highlighting like a madwoman.  Or at least a mom who is tired of the status quo.  This mama is ready for the joy and peace we are promised in Romans 15:13. 

If you're dealing with anger, rebellion, or just plain laziness, I think you will really enjoy reading this book, implementing your new heart parenting skills, and seeing the changes in your family.

Motivate Your Child is a 266 page paperback published by Thomas Nelson.

National Center for Biblical Parenting on social media
NCBP on Facebook:
NCBP on Twitter:
Motivate Your Child Pinterest Board:

Jan 12, 2015

Motivate Your Child Book Launch and Ginormous Giveaway(s)

We're partying all month in honor of a great new Christian parenting book.  There are giveaways and freebies through all of January!  Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told is being released later this month and if you preorder any day through January, you will receive $150 dollars worth of free bonuses from the National Center for Biblical Parenting simply by providing your receipt via email to  Authors Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN have been writing parenting books together for ages.  They are committed to teaching parents #heartparenting strategies.  Learn more about heart parenting and the authors.

You can join the facebook party on January 29th at 9PM est.  You don't want to miss the fun!  Someone's going to win...

Do you hear angelic voices?  Perhaps Bach Cello Suite No 1?  Or maybe the Beer Barrel Polka?  I know.  It's music to your ears, right?

But wait!  There's more!  Enter the rafflecopter giveaway below for other sweet prizes.

To celebrate the release of Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told,  members of the Launch Team are sharing a wonderful giveaway filled with a Go Pro Camera, $50 Mardel Gift Card, $25 Amazon Gift Card, and book bundles from both the National Center for Biblical Parenting and Thomas Nelson Publishing! Three winners will win prizes with a total value of nearly $800!

motivate your child giveaway

Here’s what you could win: 

GRAND PRIZE  ($500+ value)

Go Pro HERO3+ Silver Camera ($300 value)

HERO3+ Silver captures gorgeous, professional-quality 1080p60 video and 10MP photos at speeds of up to 10 frames per second. Built-in Wi-Fi enables you to use the GoPro App to control the camera remotely, preview shots and share your favorites on Facebook, Twitter and more. Compatible with all GoPro mounts, you can wear it or attach it to your gear for immersive POV footage of your favorite activities. It’s waterproof to 131’ (40m) and built tough for all of life’s adventures. Combined with stunning low-light performance, high-performance audio and an ultra wide-angle glass lens, HERO3+ Silver makes capturing and sharing your life easier than ever.  

NCBP Book Bundle ($115 value)

 The Christian Parenting Handbook  and Companion Guide Parenting is Heart Work God's Awesome Story Hero Training Camp Children's Curriculum


Thomas Nelson Book Bundle ($90 value):

The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst  Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson   Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine  All Pro Dad by Mark Merrill  The Passionate Mom by Susan Merrill 


FIRST PRIZE ($165 value)

$50 Mardel Gift Card


NCBP Book Bundle ($115 value)

The Christian Parenting Handbook  and Companion Guide Parenting is Heart Work God's Awesome Story Hero Training Camp Children's Curriculum


SECOND PRIZE ($115 value)

$25 Amazon Gift Card

Thomas Nelson Book Bundle ($90 value):

The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst  Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson   Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine  All Pro Dad by Mark Merrill  The Passionate Mom by Susan Merrill


To enter, use the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway dates: January 12, 2015 @12:00am ET through January 28, 2015 @ 11:59pm ET Terms and Conditions: This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.  Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no away associated with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Amazon. No purchase necessary for entry. Odds are determined by the number of entries. Selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jan 10, 2015

New Math for the New Year

I was able to snag Life of Fred at a discount.  Trust me, that isn't terribly easy to do.  With a "deal" on and a discount code at Christmastime, I decided to try the first three books with the boys.  I ordered Apples, Butterflies, and Cats because buying any three was the best price offered.

I have stopped expecting miracles of math curriculum.  I keep hoping for The One Math Miracle.  I've tried many of them, several through the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  Some of those we have hands down loved and Xav is on track, but Mal is still struggling along.  There.  It's out there.  He's having a rough time with math. 

So far, we've read and "played along" for six chapters.  We have laughed and giggled our way through Fred's life story, well part of one random, snow-filled day in five year old Fred's life.  The boys love the illustrations and Fred's artistic doll, Kingie.

Xav loves how every animal Fred draws has Fred's head on it.

Mal likes not doing any worksheets. 

The few questions in each chapter are done in a notebook.  Right now, we aren't learning anything new, but the practice is fun and I'm using Life of Fred daily, in addition to other math work.  I can't think of a single kid who wouldn't love these stories.

Jan 4, 2015

I'm back for 2015!

After a most wonderful bloggy break, I'm back on the interwebs.  I have lots of new stuff to share, as well as some catching up to do.

Many people are talking about their new word for 2015.  I've been selecting a word for five or six years now and I always seem to not quite live up to the word I've chosen.  I have even forgotten half of them now.  This year, I'm doing something a bit differently.  Micah and I were talking about an idea for my next chapel (*next* school year!) and that reminded me of something else, which led me down one of those rabbit trails we tend to go down around here.  I ended up selecting a Bible verse for the boys and myself to study, discuss, and memorize.  I chose Ephesians 4 26,27.

I hope and pray you all had a wonderful Christmas and are on the cusp of the most wonderful new year yet!

Jan 2, 2015

Living in the Green Mountain State AKA Vermont

Learning About Vermont

I've been in Vermont for 12 years now.  I've seen so many amazingly gorgeous places.  You'd think for such a small state, I could have seen it all by now.  There are tons of places I'd love to see or think the boys would enjoy.  I hope you'll enjoy learning about these few events, locations, and people of Vermont and feel inspired to find out more about some of them. 

Interesting Events

In 1777, Vermont declared itself an independent republic named New Connecticut.  In 1791, Vermont became the 14th state.

St. Albans Raid - The Northernmost Land Action of the Civil War
This year was the 150th anniversary of many Civil War battles.  The St. Albans Raid happened on October 19, 1864, when Confederate soldiers attacked from Canada with the intention of robbing banks and forcing the Union to divert troops to the northern border.  Bennett H Young led the Confederate raiders.  They stole $208,000, and attempted to burn down the city.  This is a terrifically detailed account with a humorous moment or two.

Famous Vermonters

"Snowflake" Bentley - We first learned about William Bentley from a Download N Go unit study by Amanda Bennett.  Then we had to follow up here in Vermont because he is actually local to us.  Snowflake Bentley was a photographer of snowflakes.  He perfected the means of capturing snowflake images before they could melt.  Using equipment available at the turn of the 20th century, he was able to photograph over 5,000 unique snowflakes. 

Chester Arthur - Lawyer, VP under Garfield and, later, president after James Garfield's assassination.

Calvin Coolidge - 30th president of the United States.  His homestead is a state historical site.

John Deere - Founded the John Deere company which has created commercial farm equipment since 1837.

Ethan Allen - Founder of the Green Mountain Boys of the American Revolutionary War. Captured Fort Ti (Ticonderoga) from the British.

Other famous Vermonters include Joseph Smith (founder of Mormonism), Elisha Graves Otis (invented a safety device for elevators and founded the Otis Elevator Company), and John LeClair (first VT born NHL player).

Sights to See

Rock of Ages Vermont Granite Quarry - This quarry is amazing.  We learned how the granite is removed and formed into all kinds of art.  And it was featured briefly in the movie Star Trek (2009).

"The Notch" - This is a seasonal road between Jeffersonville and Stowe, a section of VT108 which goes over Mt. Mansfield (the highest mountain in Vermont).  Despite signage prohibiting tractor trailers and other large vehicles, someone(s) gets stuck every year.  When you no longer see a center line, the road is not two lanes.  There are several hairpin turns, which also happen to be narrow and blind.  It's a gorgeous ride for the seven or so months of the year that it's open.  It's also about as knuckle whitening as I care to get in my old age.

Tourists Traps that are Awesome!

Ben & Jerry's - Ice cream.  'Nuff said.

Vermont Teddy Bear Factory - I have assorted cuddlies, including the controversial Crazy About You bear.  We like to tour the factory every year or two.

Cold Hollow Cider - Fresh, cold cider samples, cider donuts, apple butter...  Oh, my happy tummy.

Cabot Cheese - We actually haven't been to the creamery yet, but it's on the list.  We like to stop at the outlet in Waterbury for samples when we head to Ben & Jerry's or Cold Hollow Cider Mill.

Here are some of the places we've been and I've blogged about.  I'll be adding to this list as I add more field trip posts.

Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium
The Great Vermont Corn Maze
Cold Hollow Cider Mill
ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center

I've linked up on AdenaF's Learning Through the 50 States.  Go see some of the other states represented there.