Wednesday, June 30


As I stated yesterday, we decided to keep chores and allowance separate from each other. We really agreed with Dave Ramsey’s view on that there are jobs within the home that just need to be done because you are part of a family and that allowance should be used to teach your child about the management of money.

Every month we give Abigail a $10 allowance. She must put $1 in savings and $1 in giving. We support Operation Christmas Child every Christmas and she usually saves all her giving to go out and purchase items to put in her shoeboxes. It is a fun charity because she can relate to getting presents, and it is fun for her to be able to choose toys that she would like to give to another child her age.

A few years ago we opened up a savings account for her and told her that whatever she put away in savings, we would match that amount. We are trying to encourage saving as much as possible.

We then allow her to spend her money as she chooses, giving her advice along the way, but the final decision is hers. When she runs out of money she must wait to buy something until the next allowance. I must admit she does an awesome job. When she is out of money, she will often not want to run to the store with me for fear of finding a toy that she doesn’t have the money for…we really feel that using money to teach good habits now is a very effective way to teach these skills. Thank you Dave Ramsey! We will more than likely start giving Maddie an allowance sometime soon as well. She is almost 4 and a half and has just started asking questions. I believe we started Abigail around this age.

We also allow our girls (mainly Abigail because of Maddie’s age) to do other jobs for money if they are interested in earning extra. Examples of jobs she has done are washing the car, picking up sticks in the yard, weeding small areas of our yard…jobs that she is able to do that help us out. We agree upon a set amount before the work begins so that she can take as long as she would like to complete the job. It is usually only a few dollars because of her age. These jobs are a win-win for both of us. I would love to hear your thoughts on allowance…have a great day!

Tuesday, June 29

Children and chores

I was struggling with what to start out with this week when I opened an email from Stacy suggesting I blog about chores and allowance…what a great idea…so here is my two cents worth on chores…(I will share about allowance tomorrow)

Jeff and I decided early on that we didn’t want to have chores and allowance connected. I think it was Dave Ramsey who inspired this line of thinking and it made sense to us. Basically doing age appropriate chores are just part of being part of a family…making your bed, keeping your room clean, brushing your teeth, setting the table…are all things we each do as members of a family and should not have monetary value. It is everyone doing their part to help our home run smoothly. While it is easy to say this…we needed a way to help remind our girls each day what their responsibilities were. So I made these adorable chore charts for our hallway.

On the top ten circles there is room to write each child’s chores. Then the bottom ten circles are little magnets that the girls move to cover the chore once it is done for the day. Then at night all the magnets are moved back to the bottom. This chart worked for about the first two weeks, then we realized that, while cute, it wasn’t very functional for us. My girl’s needed something more hands-on and a little more in your face for lack of a better term. I just happened upon Stacy Julian’s blog and copied her idea of a small clipboard with a list of chores for each child.

I set them out on the table every morning and they check off each chore after it is completed. So far it has worked really well of us. The girl’s love carrying around the clipboard and leaving little notes for me at the bottom of them.

One other thing that I would like to stress is to give yourself a little slack…if something isn’t working for you and your family, change it. Something may work for a while and then become more of a burden. Remember why you are doing something. I desire to teach my girls to do their part in our family…if I get caught up in the cute chore charts I have missed the point…I think as mothers we often look around and think we should be doing things just like someone else. Sometimes that works, other times it becomes a burden. Remember to think of the purpose, keep the end goal in mind…how you get there doesn’t matter as much as actually getting there. I would love to hear your ideas of keeping track of daily chores…you know me and ideas…

Friday, June 25

Pancake powder

A few months ago Betsy and I heard the author of Growing Grateful Kids share some key points from her book. We thoroughly enjoyed Susie's talk and both purchased her book on the spot.

One of her main points is that you cannot impart what you do not possess. You can not pass on gratefulness to your children if you do not have an attitude of gratefulness yourself.

Susie gives the example of having many medical bills and very little money. She recalls walking into her kitchen and only having pancake mix to prepare for her kids. Susie decided to make a very large pancake for her three boys, stuck a candle in the middle and made it a fun memory for all of them.

Susie chose gratefulness. Her children were not aware that there wasn't money to buy food. Susie took her role as a mom - provider, protector of their hearts and minds, role model - so seriously that she made pancake powder into a family celebration.

I have thought often of that story recently. While we have so much more food than a box of pancake mix, I desire to protect my young children from the realities of life right now. I don't want them to feel the stress and tension that comes with unemployment. I don't want them to experience fear or insecurity.

I want them to know love, comfort, stability and joy - even amidst the unknown future. So much of that rests on my shoulders. My words, actions, body language, facial children can see, hear and sense what is happening around them. 

So I have to choose. Every day I have to choose an attitude of gratefulness. It's up to me to choose to make pancake powder into sweet, sweet memories.

Wednesday, June 23


This evening I got home at 6:10. The kids and I had a long commute home from my in-laws after being gone since late morning. 

My husband was home most of that time and I had some expectations when I walked in the door. Like the dishwasher emptied and some food warmed up for dinner. Maybe some time spent on a house project or two.

Without going into unnecessary details, I'll just say that my attitude was not a positive one once I got home. In my head I was calculating all I could have accomplished in six hours home alone without any children. I was creating a mighty good argument in my head.

But my husband told me he had had a rough day and was feeling very discouraged about being unemployed. So I kept my mouth shut. I tried to understand what it would be like to be home when you'd rather be working and supporting your family. I probably wouldn't feel like tackling home projects either.

Nearly two hours later I walked into our bedroom and saw a card on my pillow. It was a card from my husband thanking me for supporting him during this difficult time.

I felt a big lump in my throat as I read the card and silently whispered "thank you" to God that I had chosen to give my husband a little grace today rather than the attitude I had wanted to give him when I got home.

I don't write this to say, "Look at what a great wife I am." I write this because it's times like these that I am so thankful for the grace God has given me.

I don't know how it feels to be let go from a job. I don't know what it's like being the sole provider for a family of four. I don't understand the stress and pressure that comes with desperately seeking to find another job.

But I understand grace. I've experienced it. And now I can offer it to a husband who has given me grace so freely, willingly and without any strings attached.

Monday, June 21

Unemployment: good for me?

As some of you may know, my husband lost his job almost a month ago.

Each week we are learning what that means for our family of four. As the clothes-buyer, grocery-shopper, food-prepper, coupon-clipper, sale-searcher and gift-giver for our family, I feel a lot of responsibility to reduce our spending as significantly as possible.

When Ryan and I were first married, I had a budget of $50 a week for groceries. I would take my coupons and my calculator to the grocery store, and I would add up my purchases as I went. I did my best to stick to under $50. 

Now it's not so much about sticking to a budget as it is about spending as little as possible...because how do you set a grocery budget when unemployment only covers your mortgage and health insurance? There's not much left for groceries!

However, I have hungry mouths to feed so there's a few things I'm doing to try and be as responsible and wise as I can in this season of unemployment (hopefully it's a very short season).

I'm reading articles, blogs and anything I come across that has suggestions on how to get more bang for your buck when it comes to food. There are plenty of sites that offer budget-friendly meal ideas and I'm trying out some of them or keeping the ones I already have in my recipe collection at the top of my menu-planning.

I'm trying to make recipes that include rice, pasta or potatoes rather than those that are just meat-based. Everything I read about preparing economical meals, suggests doing this because meat is expensive.

I signed up for coupons online from a local grocer ( I'm trying to pay attention to the double coupon days at another local grocery store so I can get even greater discounts on my groceries.

We got a coupon in the mail to receive the local Sunday paper for only $1.25 a week. If I double just a couple coupons inside each week, I can easily save more money than what we're spending on the paper.

I'm also learning to shop what's on sale. In the past I have certainly purchased items on sale. But now I really pay attention to what's on sale and that's the fruit or meat I purchase for the week(s). And I've been buying many more generic foods (canned and boxed items) than I have in the past.

I'm not gonna lie. It's hard. I have my preferences when it comes to the brands and type of food I like to eat and prefer to prepare. I'd rather not have to take the time searching, making lists, cutting coupons, going to multiple stores, and getting generic items.

But it's just not an option. I do not want to come out of this season with loads of debt.

And you know what? This isn't just good for the pocketbook, it's good for me. It's forcing me to choose wisely. It's encouraging me to be aware of mindless spending. It's challenging me to stretch myself in an area where I don't want to be stretched.

Yes, it seems unemployment just might be good for so many ways.

Sunday, June 20


Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
in the light of His glory and grace.

I love, love, love this song. I grew up hearing my mom sing it to me and now I sing it to my girls. Some of my fondest memories are when my mom would sit on my bed and sing me to sleep. I can even think of times in high school when I would be struggling with something that my mom would lay in my bed and sing me hymns. I received such comfort from the words she sang. This is something I want to pass down to my children. It is my prayer that someday the words that I sing to my girls will be much more than just a lullaby. I want them to know who it is that I am singing about and that every word that I sing is true.

Tuesday, June 15


Yesterday was my birthday and my husband bought me some new accessories for my favorite electronic device... the Barnes and Noble Nook. Upon opening these gifts, I was immediately convinced that I need to share with you some of the reasons I love the Nook. If you enjoy reading, I would highly recommend this little e-reader. First, let me tell you that I am not a fan of book shelves. I always feel like mine appear cluttered and unorganized which drives me crazy. Well, with the Nook all of my books are on my little device. No more need for bookshelves. Second, I love that any book is available to me at the simple touch of a button. I can shop for books in the comfort of my own home and even download a sample of them before choosing to purchase the book. Heavenly! Third, I can change the font size at any time in any book. This is helpful because I used to prefer reading books that are in large print when I am on the treadmill. Now, I can just change the font before running and change it back when I am done. And finally, books can be purchased at a discounted price. Hooray for saving money on books!

I have to tell you that this is not a tool you would want to use if you love to highlight or make notes in the margin. The Nook does have highlighting capabilities but I have found it not as handy. For that reason, I do not use my Nook if I am reading in a book club. It is easier to actually have a hard copy of the book for moments like those. However, if you love reading and you find yourself running out of room on your shelves, then the Nook is for you. :) Happy reading!

Monday, June 14

You are probably wondering who is that adorable girl in this picture. Well, let me tell you. It is my younger sister Jill and on Friday we celebrated her wedding. It was a beautiful wedding and believe me she was a stunning bride. :)

As I stood on the stage on Friday, I kept watching my parents. Thinking about how this is their third and final daughter to be married off. I was thinking about what they must be feeling. Because my kids are so little now, I honestly can't even begin to picture what that day would be like as a parent. A true mix of emotions I am sure. Happiness that your child is an adult who has fallen in love but also a little sad that you are no longer really parenting them in the same way. Your role as a mom still remains but looks very different.

That got me thinking about life right now and how my role is technically changing so frequently. Just this week my oldest daughter has decided that she no longer wants my help climbing stairs. She has decided she wants to do it and I just stand there to watch. My youngest daughter has started crawling and she loves to be on the ground exploring. She isn't as content to snuggle in my lap anymore and again I am left to watch. I celebrate these little steps of independence with pride but still have a little sense of sadness in how quickly children grow. This feeling is probably a similar to how my parents felt on Friday night.

As a way to document my child's accomplishments and my feelings as a mom, I journal. I have a separate journal for both of my girls and I write in them whenever I feel like I want to be sure to remember something or when I feel like someday they will relate to what I am feeling. Sometimes it is once during the month and other times it has been more frequent. Sometimes I just let them know how much they are loved and other times I use it as a way to write out a prayer for them. When they are older I will continue to write in these journals. They will be able to look at them whenever they would like and when they leave my home, they can take it with them. Someday, if my girls have children, I hope this will be a way to jog my memory on how it feels to be a young mom and also allow my girls to see that I went through all of the same emotions parenting them. More than anything I hope that it will be another tool used to introduce them to a relationship with Jesus and used to show them how incredibly loved they have been from the very start.

Friday, June 11

Why Men Shouldn't Write Advice Columns!

(A male client gave this to me...enjoy!)

Dear John,

I hope you can help me. The other day, I set off for work, leaving my husband in the house watching TV. My car stalled, and then it broke down about a mile down the road, and I had to walk back to get my husband's help. When I got home, I couldn't believe my eyes. He was in our bedroom with the neighbor's daughter!

I am 32, my husband is 34 and the neighbor's daughter is 19. We have been married for 10 years. When I confronted him, he broke down and admittd they had been having an affair for the past six months. He won't go to counseling, and I'm afraid I am a wreck and need advice urgently. Can you please help?



Dear Sheila,

A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Start by checking that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the vacuum pipes and hoses on the intake manifold and also check all grounding wires. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery pressure to the injectors.

I hope this helps,


(credit given to Steve Sanderson, Gilbert, SC)

Thursday, June 10


At the end of Homemakers this year, Betsy briefly summarized a topic we had been discussing throughout the year, "What makes a mom GOOD?'

When I was a young mom I often heard that so & so was very talented in music and she made a good mom. Someone else was very creative and she would be a good mom. It seemed like certainly qualities made a good mom, but if I didn't have those qualities, did that make me a bad mom?

I decide to pursue the question, "What makes a mom good?" and then proceeded to figure out what I could do, or learn to be good in those areas.

For example, I found that listening to my kids made me good. So I put that on my list to develop.

Loving my kids' dad made me good, so that went on my list.

Learning to be a friend to my girlfriends made me good.

The list got quite long as I asked myself what else it would take to make me good as a mom.

It really was just being intentional in many areas of life that I needed to pay more attention to. If I had not asked myself that question, I am not sure I would have developed in many areas and skills

One area I shared with Homemakers was the area of balance. I found what makes a mom good when she is finding balance in her life is to be ok with being off-balance when necessary. Let me explain.

Think of yourself balancing on a big exercise ball. In order to stay on top of that ball you need to stay in constant motion. To keep your balance, you need to tilt one way or the other to keep you balanced. In life, I think you need to sway quite abit from time to time to stay balanced.

Unexpected interruptions and life changes can throw you a curve, but so can everyday demands. A mom who is good is a woman who is pursuing a life that is commited to knowing God...and she sees life from that vantage point. She realizes that it is not all about her.

There is a quiet confidence that comes from being ok with being off-balance, provided that being off balance comes because of life circumstances and changes, not just self-induced upsets! Being off-balance is a time to identify priorities.

Learning how to be off-balance at time leads to 'inner beauty' I think. A mom is good...or can become good when she realizes that being off-balance is a time to trust God. In the big and small things of life.

Wednesday, June 9

A New Family by Friday:)

I was sadden to hear that Al and Tipper Gore announced this week that they were separating after 40 years of marriage. That is a long history to walk away from.

Wouldn't you like to think that if a marriage got past a certain number of years you would finally have mastered the art of making a marriage work? Like 10 years of marriage and you are home free?!

Marriage, like everything else will follow the Law of Disintegration if it isn't nurtured and given the proper attention.

Betsy is celebrating her 15th anniversary this week! Last week, she shared the book by Dr Kevin Leman, Have a New Kid by Friday. I'd like to suggest another book of his, Have a New Husband by Friday. This author writes with alot of humor and makes it an easy read but still has great insight into relationships.

The book is chocked full of good information so I am going to share the 'Top Ten Countdown to Having a New Husband by Friday here. There is so much more to glean from this book, you still will want to check out this book if you are looking for a way to bring back life into your marriage.

10. Respect what he says
9. Tell him how important he is in your life
8. Tell him how much you need him in your life
7. Pursue him
6. Don't correct him or make fun of him, especially in front of others
5. Don't talk down to him. He's your husband, not your child
4. Touch him physically. One caress can last a long time and will really get his attention
3. Say nice things about him and to him
2. Eliminate the words, why, never, and always from your vocabulary
1. Think about what you're going to say and divide it by ten

My husband and I will be celebrating our 39th anniversary next month. I know there was never a point when we could say we could finally put our marriage on auto-pilot and know we wouldn't crash and burn. We have had to work each and every year to maintain our relationship. It is in the working of it that we have grown individually and as a couple.

One of the basic premises of Homemakers with Hope is that marriage is hard...and a good marriage is even harder. As the older woman in this group, I can assure you that if you work on your marriage, you will not be disappointed. It will be worth it.

Tuesday, June 8

Praying for your Children

A frequent question I am asked at MOPS is, "How do I pray for my children?"

My quick response is, "Just do it!"

To give any real insight takes abit longer. I wrestled with this question as a young mom and tried many different approaches. When my kids were little I remember praying for things that seemed overwhelming and out of my control.

"Why is he crying all night, Lord"
"Help me to know how to explain my concerns to the doctor"
"I don't think I can do this on my own, Father"

As my children got older, I began praying that God would cover the areas I could not take care of...

"Be with Ryan as he goes off to camp"
"Help Rachel to do her best"

I found I was speaking to God in such generalities and often about things He already promised that I knew I needed to take a look at my prayer life.

I have prayed Bible verses for each child.

I have taken a day of the week and prayed throughout the day for a particular child.

I have found principles and qualities that I wanted manifested in my child's life and prayed specifically for those to be brought to my child's awareness.

I discovered that much of what I was doing that I considered prayer, was really just ME DOING something I thought God wanted me to do.

But, like everything else in my walk with the Lord, prayer is something He has provided for me, to draw me closer to Him...but He produces the results. It has nothing to do as to whether I pray for each child by name, if I find a verse to back up my request or if I eloquently said my prayer without error.

My prayer life has changed over the years. Prayer has changed me because once again I realized that what I wanted for my kids could only come by Christ living in them. I couldn't make them more compassionate, joyful or kind by praying for that in their lives. I could pray that my children continued to have a heart to know God. I could pray that they would trust God. That they would be humble in coming to God and simply rest in His promises.

I could pray that they would 'abide in Christ' and by abiding they would see the fruit of the Spirit become evident in their lives.

Much is written about prayer. Many 'programs' are taught, but it comes down to praying for a relationship for your child that will produce all the fruit of the Spirit because they simply abide in Christ.(John 15:5)

Is this different from what you have thought about prayer? Prayer is not an activity as much as it is BEING in the presence of God and letting Him live His life out through you. It is becoming REAL in relating to God.

Monday, June 7

The Number One Reason

I loved what Betsy wrote last week about Abigail's Christian Birthday! I must add that that is sooo Betsy. She consistently celebrates her kids...but more importantly, she lives what she teaches her kids. This is so important when you are talking to your kids about God

Let me ask you a question...

Do you know the number one reason kids leave the church when they are old enough to choose?

A poll taken among kids who had left the church said the number one reason they left was...

"God was never real to my parents"

That puts a pretty big responsibility on parents doesn't it? The responsibility isn't to make our kids be good, or to have them memorize scripture or tell them to love God or tell their friends about Jesus or speak nicely....

...our responsibility as parents (let's say 'moms' since that's probably the only readership we have:)) is to make sure our relationship with God is real to us as a mom.

That's it.

That focus alone will make a huge difference in our KIDS' life.

How do you do that?

I heard a pastor use a clever line when talking about teaching kids about God. He said, "Use the temporary to build the permanent." He went on to explain that when kids are young, kids believe their parents. Kids believe in their parents. This is the time we need to take the temporary faith our kids place in us and use it to build a permanent faith in God.

The window of opportunity for a child to accept Christ as their Savior is between 4-14 years of age...the ages that they are basically living at home and interacting daily with their parents.

Betsy would agree with me that it is easier to talk about Christ than to TRUST HIM at times, but it is in those times of trust that our kids will learn the most.

Friday, June 4

Celebrating the Everyday

I thought I would end my week sharing a video that Barb shared with me not too long ago. It is a great reminder that we should enjoy and celebrate each and every day. Have a great weekend...enjoying your "perfectly ordinary days" with your family!

Thursday, June 3

Celebrating with Abigail

This past weekend we celebrated with Abigail…we celebrated her Christian birthday. I posted a little about this back in February in this post: celebrating your kid’s Christian birthdays but I thought I would share what we did on her special day this year. We actually celebrated a day early since it fell on Memorial Day this year, that way we had two days of celebration…

Jeff and I spend a few moments the night before writing notes to her on heart cutouts about ways we see Jesus living through her: evidence of her faith, things she should be proud of, and behaviors we hope to reinforce. She loves waking up to these hanging from her doorway…it is a fun way to start her day.

The table is also set (I use my Valentine plates-double duty again). I also use a heart punch to make small heart confetti and write her favorite verses on hearts that I tape to skewers and use as the centerpiece. The main part of the decoration is her album that I made on the night she asked Jesus into her heart. She loves to read through and remember that day. (This is my favorite part of the day). We also always buy her a new Adventures in Odyssey CD to listened to. This is one of her favorite things to do and we love listening to them just as much as she does…it is a win-win. If you have never listened to them I would highly recommend them. They cover a ton of great topics and are great things to listen to with your children and then discuss with them. You can pick them up locally at Northwestern Bookstore or online at Focus on the Family.

The main thing we try to focus on for this day is trying to teach her ways to help her strengthen her relationship with the Lord. We want to provide tools and ideas on ways she can use to help her stay connected to the Vine and grow on her own. So we try to keep most of the activities of the day geared toward Christian activities. We are huge movie buffs so we have numerous videos that she can choose from to watch for our family movie night. We also love board games and have accumulated a few Christian versions of some popular games, and they often lead to good discussion. We played Answer That (a board game having to do with Adventures in Odyssey) before bedtime. We ended the night by reading from a new devotional we got called Did You Know Devotions. It is a devotional right up Abigail’s alley…fun little bits of trivia with a biblical perspective.

I love these celebrations, not only for our girls, but for me. I need reminders of what I should be putting into my mind and how I should be spending my time. I once heard a quote that went something like this, “You cannot impart that which you do not possess.” That is a very powerful statement and makes me really think as a mother how am I spending my day and what I am hoping to impart onto my girls.

I would love to hear your ideas on how you celebrate the everyday with your kids. Share a comment below…
Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, June 2

Have a New Kid by Friday

Today’s message is late (sorry) and will be short and sweet. (I have a sick little girl today). I hope to have more time to post tomorrow...

Jeff and I have been struggling the last few weeks with a few behavior issues in our daughters and to be quite frank…we have been discouraged. Parenting is hard work! We were both at the end of our ropes this past weekend and after praying for wisdom, a book popped into my head that I purchased a few months back as a possibility for our small group but put it to the side and life happened. It is this book…

Have a New Kid by Friday by Kevin Leman. We are only to Wednesday, the third chapter, but this could quite possibly be the best parenting book we have ever read. To quote Kevin Leman, “If you believe that you, as a parent, are to be a healthy authority over your child, this book is for you. If you don’t believe that you, as a parent, are to be a healthy authority over your child, put this book down right now and buy another. You won’t like what I have to say, you won’t do it, and you’ll complain about me to your friends.”

It is actually more a book about changing yourself as the parent than even your child. We have already tried a few of the techniques he has suggested and they have worked. It is a lot of common sense, reality based parenting, but I didn’t really realize how much I needed to change so that I can be the best parent for my daughters. It is a very humbling experience, but very good at the same time…so if you are looking for a good read this summer, and you have children, read this book! You will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, June 1

A few Memorial Day Ideas...

I absolutely love celebrating the everyday and Memorial Day was no exception. I thought I would share a few things that we did to celebrate. These ideas could easily be used for your 4th of July celebrations as well.

I absolutely love decorating the table to fit the holiday we are celebrating. I also love when I can use items I have for more than one holiday...I purchased these flags a few years back in the dollar section at Target and I keep them for all the patriotic holidays we celebrate. I just place them in small glass vases...very festive.

For lunch I made these red, white and blue fruit cups. The girls (and Jeff) loved them. So easy...just layer strawberries, bananas and blueberries in a glass dish. Add whipped cream and a cherry just for fun...

The girls made these "safe" sparklers at Lifetime Fitness on Saturday and I thought they would be so fun to make and use for the 4th of July. They just cut small slivers of red, white and blue paper. Then take a few of each color and place them inside one end of the straw about 1/2 inch. Staple the papers through the straw. See the first photo below...they look really cute grouped together as a table decoration.

Making and writing thank you notes to soldiers is a great activity to do on Memorial Day. Here is a sample of an easy card to make with young children. Just let them punch the stars along the bottom of a pre-made blank card and glue a piece of colored cardstock behind it. Stamp a sentiment on another colored cardstock and glue above the punches...
Hope you enjoyed a few of these ideas. I am always looking for new ways to celebrate so please share your ideas in the comment section below...Happy Tuesday!