Showing posts with label Tommy Nelson post. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tommy Nelson post. Show all posts

How My Parents Made Valentine's Day Special (Even When I Was Single)




I have many great Valentine's memories from when I was growing up...and the thing is, almost none of my memories have to do with actually having a Valentine.  I never had a boyfriend until I met Derek, and I met him when I was eighteen years old, so there are a lot of years in there that could have been lonely or depressing, especially when other girls my age started dating.

My parents are the biggest reason why Valentine's Day was never depressing.  There are three things we did as a family that made it fun:

1) We ate an excessive amount of candy hearts (a tradition I continue today).

2) We all broke out the construction paper and made paper valentines for each other every year.

3) My parents gave each other sweet Valentine's Day cards (it's good for a child's heart to see their parents loving each other).

4) My parents always got us a little gift that would be waiting on the table on Valentine's Day morning.

That was enough, even during those tumultuous teenage years.  I think we underestimate the impact of the love of a parent on Valentine's Day.  It doesn't have to be anything big and flashy, just something small to remind your kids that no matter their relationship status, they are seen and loved by you.

I plan to do these things with my kids, and I also am hoping to spread the valentine joy outside of our immediate family to our cousins and friends as well!  I think I have a subconscious goal to not let any children in my kids' circles to feel forgotten on Valentine's Day.

If you are of a mind to join me...I have a long list of Valentine's Day gift ideas for kids on Tommy Nelson this week! Ideas for classroom valentines, and Valentine's Day gift ideas for your own kids too!  Read all my ideas here, then come back and tell me if I missed anything, por favor!

And Happy (early) Valentine's Day to you!








Five Books To Give As Baby Shower Gifts


When I was registering for my first baby shower, I had one strategy - register for only the things I absolutely need.

No cutesy outfits.  No blankets. No stuffed animals.  No Sophie The Giraffe or womb-sound alarm clocks or knit hats.  Only the necessities.


How Important Is It To Teach Your Kids The Books Of The Bible?




When did you learn the books of the Bible?

I am willing to bet that most adults who have the books of the Bible memorized learned them as a kid.  Kids are such sponges! It's so much easier to memorize lists of information like that as children.

I think I was probably four or five years old when I learned the books of the Old Testament.  I went to VBS at a little mountain church, and there was a teenage girl there with an acoustic guitar and long brown hair who sang the Bible books song every day.  I have no idea who she was, but I can still almost see her in my mind.  I hope wherever she is, the Lord blesses her for her service at that VBS, because it has served me well to have the books of the Bible memorized, and it all started with that song.


Managing Baby And Toddler Schedules




A few months ago I went to a party of a friend.  She used one of those e-invite systems (I'm still not sure what I think about them, because I'm old-school and still send party invites through the mail).  With e-invites you can usually see everyone else's comments about their RSVP - and I was in a curious mood, so I read through some of the responses.

One comment in particular caught my eye - someone said they couldn't come to my friend's party because the party was in the evening, and their toddler usually went to bed at 7:00 PM.  

The comment struck me, I think in part because I understand even more than most how miserable things can get when your child is cranky and tired.  I have four kids under five, three of whom still nap and also go to bed at 7:00 PM.  When one of the kids cries, at least a couple more join in.


Why You Should Know Your Neighbors' Names




Last year, I found myself feeling restless, particularly about my walk with the Lord. Was this all there was?  Was my current pattern in life how things were always going to be?  It didn't seem like enough.  I wanted to do more to serve the Lord, and I had no idea where to start.  It seemed to me I would have to do something radical to break out of my rut.

Then one Sunday, I sat in church and listened to a guest speaker talk about how to be a good neighbor.


Five Uncommon Weekend Family Activity Ideas



Labor Day is coming right up, and we all know what that means - a three-day weekend!  Where I live, it also means lots of traffic as people travel for camping, parades, and other events.

Out of curiosity I looked up the history of Labor Day, because if I'm benefitting from the holiday it seems that I should know a little bit about it.  It turns out that Labor Day originated in the 1800's, when people often worked 12-hour days, seven days a week.  We don't have that some problem anymore, but it's still nice to have an extra day off to spend time with our families.

If you are like me, you are not crazy about the idea of braving the traffic and crowds to do some of the traditional long-weekend activities - so why not do something different instead?  Here are a few ideas of things you can do with your family this weekend!


On Busyness And Bible Time (+ Giveaway!)


Sometimes I get to the end of the day, and I feel like absolutely nothing was accomplished, even though I was literally running myself ragged all day.

I am not sure how it is physically possible to be busy all day and still feel like I didn't do anything.  I think there is a serious lack of rest in many of our lives, and I am no exception.  I just did a Bible study at my church that was all about taking time to rest each day, because often God will work in our lives if we will just take a breather and slow down!  I was definitely convicted, and I'm hoping to share more of my thoughts on rest in future posts.

Another problem with not taking time to slow down is that when I get too caught up in the busy, it is easy to let time with the Lord fall by the wayside - and that is not okay with me.  I want to make sure I am being a good example to my kids, and I also cannot adequately pour into my kids when I am not taking that time to be filled up with His Word.


Off Camping (Plus A Giveaway For You!)

Well, I am off this week on vacation - Derek and the kids and I are going to be camping in South Dakota!  I never really thought of myself as a tent-camping type of girl, but a couple years ago we went camping in Arizona, and I loved it.  I am excited to go again this year, and I'm thinking South Dakota will be such a fun place for the kids.  I think even Gwen, at two years old, will think presidential faces in the side of a mountain are pretty cool.

I spent most of last week packing - on the one hand, camping/road tripping is great, because you can bring snacks or whatever else you want without space (except for the size of your car) or airline rules being an issue.  On the other hand, camping with little kids takes a lot of prep work, and our van is packed pretty tight.  Plus we are still potty training . . . so yes, it will be interesting trying to get the kids out when we make stops!

I packed a few movies for the kids to watch on the road, as per usual, but this year I decided to bring some fun new books to read to them too!  I've been having a lot of fun reading Winnie The Pooh to Wyatt over the last month or so.  He is finally to the point where he is getting better at listening to a story without a lot of pictures, so I am going to bring some chapter books to read to the two big ones - I think they'll enjoy it.




I am also excited to bring along our brand-new devotional from Tommy Nelson to read to them as they go to sleep!  We always read a Bible story and/or a devotional with the kids before bed time, and I think it will add another element of fun to change things up on vacation with a new book.

Bedtime Devotions With Jesus starts each devotion with a Bible verse and ends with a short prayer of thanks to God of everything He does for us.  There aren't a ton of pictures, but that is okay with me, because my kids tend to get distracted by really detailed pictures, so the simple illustrations on every other page are a good amount, I think.

This devotion is full of comforting thoughts for little ones that I think would be appropriate and understandable even for young toddlers (like Gwen).  We haven't read through the whole thing, but I have flipped through several of the devotions, and it seems like a lot of them talk about how God loves us and takes care of us.  I feel like the topics in this book are perfect to get kids in a peaceful frame of mind for bedtime!

(I'm also on Tommy Nelson today, talking about more ways to get kids to think about Jesus before going to sleep - check it out!)



Tommy Nelson is offering to give one of my readers a copy of this great devotional book! If you would like a chance to win, just fill out the form below!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: I received a copy of this book for free from Tommy Nelson in exchange for an honest review.

I have a couple guest posts lined up for this week, one on blessing new moms, and one on beach trip essentials - keep an eye out for those, and I'll be back next week with a recap of all our vacation fun!


First Bible


I'm on Tommy Nelson and FaithGateway today, talking about how to make your child's first Bible meaningful - and including my own story of how my parents and grandparents made my first Bible meaningful.


"My children are pre-school aged. They can’t even read simple books yet, so it will be a little while before they will be able to read the Bible by themselves. Nevertheless, I have been thinking about the day that they are ready to pick out their first Bibles, and how I want to go about it.

When I think of my first Bible growing up, the one that always comes to mind is a thick, leather-bound book, with my name embossed on the front and childlike letters written inside the front cover. When I was about nine years old, my grandma gave a challenge to all her grandkids – memorize Psalm 91 – and she would buy us our own Bibles with our names on the front, and take us to a fancy Japanese restaurant for dinner…"



Head on over to Tommy Nelson to continue reading!


When did you get your first Bible?  Did your parents (if they gave it to you) do anything to make it special?

My Favorite Verse For Separation Anxiety

Hey guys!  Well, the last couple weeks have been weird to say the least.  Just lots of unexpected things that are totally throwing my blogging schedule.  Normally I would have some nice accompanying post, but today I have nothing, so I'm just going to point you over to my post on Tommy Nelson today! 

 

I wrote about separation anxiety, which I feel is ironic, because I would not consider myself an expert at handling it - however, we have found ways to cope.  And when I say we, I am not just talking about the kids, I am including myself!  I hope I am not the only mom who gets anxious for her kids sometimes.

A verse that my mom taught us in childhood reminds me that I need to point my kids to the One who will always be with them if they put their trust in Him.  And sometimes I need that reminder too!

To read all about my separation anxiety story and verse, head on over to Tommy Nelson's blog!

Black Friday Game Plan

Presents
(Those are all the presents I have already wrapped this year.)

Happy Black Friday!  Yes, I am one of those crazy Black Friday shoppers (except I actually don't get too crazy).  Shopping on Black Friday something I have been doing for several years, and I just like the hustle and bustle.  Plus it's a good way to cut down on my Christmas costs!  Which is helpful this year, because the Christmas budget is not what it usually is.  I usually save up for Christmas throughout the year, but I wasn't able to save anything for the first six months of 2014 between saving for Clyde's birth and maternity leave.

Despite my love of Black Friday shopping, I actually don't have too much to get this year.  Most of our Christmas gifts are already bought!  There are a few things I'll look for today though.


Toys For Clyde.  He's only seven months old, so I know he won't know the difference, but I feel like it's a matter of principle - I still have to give him some presents!  I'm trying to think of little toys that we might not have received for the other two.  One I was thinking of is one of those little switch/pop-up toys, that has like four or five different switches to pull - that sounds really confusing.  Like this:


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I'm open to any other suggestions.  Babies are so hard to shop for.

Movies.  It just doesn't feel like Christmas if we don't have a few new movies to watch.  Growing up, we always got movies, and we'd enjoy them during the week between Christmas and New Year's.  It felt like an extension of the Christmas fun.  You can get a lot of great movies on Amazon for cheap anyway, and I'm hoping for even better Amazon deals on Black Friday.  "Here Comes The Boom" and "Draft Day" are on my list of possibilities…

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A Game.  We kind of have a tradition of getting a new game for Christmas, but this year I might get two - one we can play with the kids, and one for Derek and me.  I'm thinking "Chutes and Ladders" for the kids, but I'm not sure what else.  Favorite family games, anyone?
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That is pretty much it.  It's a short list this year.  I will probably do mostly online shopping, but I'll also head to Target on Black Friday for Clyde's toys, because going out on Black Friday is just fun to me.  Plus I think they are having a 50% off deal on Baby Einstein toys.  I'll keep you posted on Instagram and Twitter.

Do you shop on Black Friday?  Are you hardcore, or do you just shop for fun?  What is your game plan?

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I am also over on TommyNelson.com today, talking about ways to make Black Friday a blessing (because it is notorious for the opposite).  Head on over there to check it out (and leave me a comment, if you are so inclined)!

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Popcorn

In the late fall of 2008 I was a newlywed, and as the holidays approached I was determined to find some new recipes to try for Christmas - recipes that could be "mine" and would become a tradition for our then family of two.   That was when I found a caramel fudge recipe that has become the bane of my fudge-making existence.

The first time I made it, it was a success.  It was the perfect texture, the perfect taste, and we loved it!  I was excited that I found such  cool recipe.

Every time I have attempted to make it since then, it has been a colossal failure.  It usually ends up being a plate of sticky goo that never sets.  I have made it so many times, and I cannot for the life of me figure out what I am doing wrong!  I don't even want to know how much sugar, milk, and corn syrup I have wasted trying to replicate that first plate of caramel-y goodness.


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However, I think I have finally figured out a way to use my plates of sticky goo!  The other day I was in the mood for some caramel popcorn, the kind that is a little more chewy, less crunchy.  After a little experiment, I stumbled upon a yummy concoction!

This recipe for Pumpkin Pie Spice Popcorn uses that caramel fudge recipe with some adjustments.  And despite my caramel fudge always turning out spectacularly wrong, this popcorn turned out great!





Pumpkin Pie Spice Popcorn

1 bag of popcorn, popped (either plain or buttered is fine)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 whole milk
1/8 cup (ie. 1/2 stick) margarine, melted
1 tbsp. light corn syrup

For the pumpkin spice mixture:

1/4 cup sugar 
1/4 brown sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1.  Pop the bag of popcorn in a microwave, then pour into a greased bowl or dish.  Set aside.

2. Mix together the ingredients for the pumpkin spice mixture.  Set aside.

2. Brown 1/2 cup of the sugar in a saucepan.  (If you don't know how to brown sugar - just let it sit on the heat until it melts.  Make sure it doesn't burn.)

3. Slowly add in the milk.  The sugar will sizzle and harden into a lump ( I haven't figured out a way to avoid this). Don't freak out.  Just keep stirring while the caramel cooks to encourage it to dissolve.

4.  Add the margarine, 1 cup of the sugar, and corn syrup.  Heat over medium high heat until mixture gets to soft ball stage.  (The soft ball stage is when you put a little of the mixture into cold water, and it solidifies to the point where you could form a soft ball with it if you wanted to.)

5.  Remove from heat and beat mixture until cool.  Add three tablespoons of the pumpkin spice mixture to the caramel mixture and mix well.

6.  Pour caramel mixture over the popcorn and mix to coat the popcorn.  Sprinkle the remaining pumpkin spice mixture over the popcorn.


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And that is it!  This popcorn has a great, fall-ish taste to it.  It would be perfect to much on while reading a book to your kiddos.  Or you could bring the popcorn along as a snack for some of your favorite fall activities (corn maze, anyone?).

What are some of your favorite fall snacks?


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Speaking of fall activities, I am also on the Tommy Nelson blog today talking about some ways to use fall fun to talk to your kiddos about the Lord.  I'd love for you to stop over there and say "hi"!  I'm also happy to say that Tommy Nelson is giving one of you a copy of "It Will Be Okay" by Lysa Terkeurst, which I reviewed earlier this month - it's an adorable kids' book, and perfect for fall.  Enter below!


Combatting Selfishness In Little Ones



I remember the first time my kids got in a real fight (my oldest is three, so it wasn’t that long ago).
We were enjoying a peaceful morning when suddenly it was disrupted by screeching. I rounded the corner and found two of my kids, each holding one end of a toy – and they were yanking it back and forth and yelling at each other.
Wow, I thought, this is like a scene out of a movie!
That was probably not the best or most mom-like first thought to have, but I was caught off guard. After I got over my initial shock, I took the toy away and we sat down and had a talk about sharing and being kind to each other. At least I recovered well, right?
The truth is, I shouldn’t have been surprised at my kids’ behavior. Selfishness is something that is ingrained into our fallen human nature. Selfishness comes naturally to kids – it is unselfishness that must be nurtured and taught…


To read the rest of my thoughts on combatting selfishness in kids, check out my post on TommyNelson.com!

Managing The Chaos






One of the things that has surprised me as my kids have grown older has been what I call the “happy chaos” that comes along with having toddlers. Before I had kids, I used to tell myself that my household would not be one of chaos – I was convinced that I could still maintain an orderly, peaceful house with children running around.

I can almost hear you all laughing at me, because any mom knows that with kids comes a certain level of chaos. A person can only maintain so much order with even one child in the house, and now we have three children, 3 and under, who make my life so much more fun . . . and yes, chaotic! People inform me that I have my hands full on a daily basis.
I have long since accepted that a chaos-free life with children is an oxymoron, but that doesn’t mean I have completely given up on keeping the craziness to a manageable level. The following are a few things that have helped me as I try to find a good balance...
Check out Tommy Nelson's blog to read the rest of my post on managing the chaos of life with young kids!

Topic Dump

You know when there are some things that make you think "I should blog about this", but they never seem to fit into a post?  I'm dumping them all into this post today.  You are welcome.



"Our Show"

Derek is starting to travel more again for work, and I miss him a lot.  The summer was far too short for us.  I want to try to think of more date-type things that we can do at home, but for now we have a standard date on Sunday nights, watching "our show", The Hunt.

For those of you who don't know, I have been hunting big game since I was twelve years old - but this show is pretty hard core!  It's all about hunting Alaskan brown bears in Kodiak, but the way it is filmed is so impressive to me.  I honestly don't know how the cameramen get such clear shots of the bears, and they do a great job of presenting the stories of the hunters and guides, and the reason behind hunting (conservation). It's very well done.

These big bears are cannibalistic, and they will kill off any cubs they come across.  They may charge the hunters at any moment, which makes the show pretty exciting and scary.

(I was pretty much completely paranoid about the kids getting too close to this rail at the zoo, especially afar watching this show.  Those bears are dangerous!)

Anyway, it's a fascinating show.  Hunting shows have come a long way since I used to watch them with my dad on the Outdoor Channel when I was growing up.



I actually need some shows that I can watch by myself during the week when Derek is gone though - does anyone have a favorite show I should check out?  I get so bored and lonely when he's not here.  I need distraction.



A Free Gift

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I got an e-mail from a company called Red Envelope a while back, saying that they liked my blog and they just wanted to send me a gift.  No strings attached.  They didn't want me to review it on my blog or anything!  That has never happened to me before.  It was such a pleasant surprise, so of course I had to mention it on the blog anyway.  They sent us this cute little "tummy time mat" for Clyde - personalized and everything!  It is so cute and soft.  They sell lots of cute baby gifts, if you want to check them out!

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MOPS Publicity Team

I am serving on the publicity team for MOPS this year.  This basically involves coming up with content for our group's blog and running all online MOPS group activity - so I have been working on a new blog design for the last few weeks. I tell you, I have never had so much to think about for a blog design (I usually just design for myself, or a friend occasionally).  It's just different trying to come up with something for a whole group, as opposed to an individual.  I think it's almost done, and I am so happy.  I'm ready to think less about HTML and more about content.  

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(I saw the title of the book above and I jumped at the chance to read it - hoping for inspiration.)

The theme for MOPS this year is "Be you, Bravely".  I thought that was very appropriate since it was a big deal for me to tell the MOPS girls that I have a blog.  I don't know why, but I don't usually mention it people.  Anyway, if you see any brave-related resources, send them my way!  I need all the ideas I can get for content.  It feels different writing things for our MOPS blog.  Here I can just write whatever I want (as evidenced by this completely random post).


Some Exciting News

Finally - I have some exciting news!  

I have been a part of Tommy Nelson's "Tommy Mommy" program for a little over a year - this is the program that allows me to review and give away most of the children's books I post about on the blog.
  
Well, a couple months ago, Tommy Nelson asked me to join a team of moms who write for their blog!  I'll be writing a post for them once a month.  I am so honored that they liked my blog enough to choose me for the position, and I am so excited about my first post coming up next week - so keep an eye out for that.



We're also having a Tommy Mommy meet-up in Nashville in September - they are flying all of us out for a weekend!  I have never done anything like that before, so this is a big deal for me.  Have any of you ever gone to a blogger conference or meet-up?  Anything I should do to prepare?


That is all I have for now.  I feel like these type of list posts can be clumsy, but it is the best and easiest way to handle those straggler topics that I want to mention, but that won't take up a full post.  Am I right?  
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