The Homestretch

Welcome to the final days before our boys are born. I am 37 weeks pregnant with twin boys if you missed the news. And while I think all the big things are in place, little things to clean, organize, or prepare keep pestering my mind. But at this point what will get done will get done. Rebekah and I both caught colds, so we are slowing down, resting, and recovering. I don’t imagine being sick when the boys are born is the best scenario! On my nightstand currently sets Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation (Amazon Affiliate Link) … Read more…

A Cute Combo and a Great Deal

A couple weeks ago we drove down to Springfield for our nephew’s first birthday. Though sadly, he got sick so his parents delayed plans. I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but here in Missouri the cold and flu season hit hard. My sister-in-law asked for books for boys, since their daughter is into princesses and the like, they wanted to make sure they had some quality boy books for our nephew. And if you know me at all, you know buying books is one of my favorite things to do! So I set about looking for a fun, … Read more…

Resources for Teaching Kids About Renewable Energy

If I’m honest, I’m intimidated by the thought of teaching science to my children. I enjoyed aspects of science as a kid. But, I was naturally drawn to subjects like history and literature. As a parent and educator, I whole-heartedly believe that science is a crucial subject to teach. Science teaches kids to ask questions and explore how things work. Our world is growing rapidly in the areas of science and technology. We can’t ignore this subject and adequately prepare our children for the future. I consider myself a nature nerd. Though I don’t know as much as I should about … Read more…

The Color Blue on my Mind

Blue. A serene, peaceful color. The color of Rebekah’s eyes. I’d long been saving some lovely blue yarn to crochet into a sweater for her because I knew it would look beautiful with her eyes. A couple weeks ago I finally decided on a pattern and started. But since December 27th, I’ve had blue on my mind for different reasons. I started reading Fantastic Mr. Fox (Amazon Affiliate Link) to Rebekah the other day. She seems to really enjoy it, though I decided not to read it to her before bed because it gets a tad scary for a 21-month-old! It has … Read more…

Confessions of a Writer and Recommended Book Purchases for High School and College Kids

I am hesitant to tell people I majored in English. People associate that with crazy things like being able to spell and use proper grammar. The truth is I struggle with both. I don’t think I am an awful writer, but I have to edit a lot. Otherwise, well, embarrassing things happen. Like, um, using the wrong grammar on the sign you scrawl out in 5 seconds for your announcement photos that you then post all over social media . . . Yep. That was not the fault our sweet photographer, Grace, that was all me. ” . . . then … Read more…

When Life Shakes You and Leaves You Broken

“We are made in the image of God. And wasn’t God’s heart made to be broken too? Wounds can be openings to the beauty in us. And our weaknesses can be a container for God’s glory.” – Ann Voskamp from The Broken Way When life begins to crumble around me, or doubts and fears flood my mind, I tend to tense and close up. My hands snap shut to grace. They form determined fists, ready to fight for a way out. Instead of opening myself up to walk through the trial ahead, I dig in. I retreat. I pull the shades … Read more…

Walking The Broken Way to Abundant Life

I think our long wait for autumn may be over. I dug out my sweaters from storage and started wearing them. Many trees are in garbs of orange, red, and yellow. Still, others are completely green. Rebekah and I keep examining our young Silver Maple in the front yard. It is holding out as long as it can before it turns red. This past week we’ve spotted a handful of leaves just beginning to turn. The red seems to travel up the stem then slowly encroach from the edges of the leaf. Catching a leaf in transition is one of my favorite things … Read more…

A Missouri Heat Wave

I kept spotting glimpses of fall in the turning of leaves and feeling it in the cool mornings and evenings. But this week pounded us with the resurgence of an Indian Summer heat wave. I even considered getting back out the wading pool. It feels odd to be crocheting on leg warmers and a winter hat when our heat index is pushing 100. But I found such easy and lovely patterns for leg warmers that I could resist. I made the simple ones for Rebekah to match her hat. But I think I am going to experiment with this pattern and some sparkly … Read more…

A Coloring Experience and Giveaway

We weren’t sure what the teens would think. At least the guys. Teen girls almost always love coloring, but boys tend to be “too cool” for such fun. But our teen guys took to it as readily as the girls. Maybe it was the cool designs that didn’t feel innately girly, like so many generic coloring books. The teens chatted as they chose their medium (colored pencils, crayons, or markers) and decided on a color scheme. Even parents and volunteers joined right in on the fun. The only complaint we received was that we did not give them enough time to finish. … Read more…

Yarn Along: Winter Hat Ready

I tend to be a tight hooker (good ‘ole crochet joke). But this hat I made for a baby fits my 16-month-old daughter just fine. I decided she could keep it as a warm winter hat. She loves wearing it, even in the summer. I have several projects stewing in my mind, including cute leg warmers for little girls and Rebekah’s fall outfit. I would love to knit her outfit, but I doubt I can pick up knitting that quickly. Meanwhile, I am reading through the moving novel Gilead (affiliate link) by Marilynne Robinson. Rooted in Christian spirituality, it was praised with high acclaim, even winning the … Read more…

Motivation

This week I sent off Benjamin’s blanket with a prayer and good wishes. Lately, I’ve had endless motivation to crochet. Mostly because in the evenings I avoided dealing with our taxes. I spent months attempting to resolve the issues with our 1095-A before we could send everything off. (Last night we finally put on our “adult pants” and tackled them. More on that later.) This week I bordered a light-weight receiving blanket for sweet Annabelle, our friends’ new daughter. She is all that is a sweet little newborn. We can’t wait to celebrate her birth at their shower this weekend. If time allows I will crochet … Read more…

For Benjamin

I keep thinking about starting new fall sweater for Rebekah. Yet, all the sweet new babies entering the world and the pregnant mamas that are due in the next couple months are foremost in my thoughts and prayers right now. As a result, I am crocheting around fleece and cotton blankets, and trying my hand at newborn clothing. As I mentioned last week, my dear friend from church embroidered Benjamin’s name for me on his blanket. I kept his blanket simple and cute, crocheting two coordinating receiving blankets together. This is one of my favorite styles of blanket to make because it is … Read more…

Inviting Imagination: Storytelling and Illustrations

Children are natural storytellers. They love to spin tales birthed in the purity of their imaginations not yet as tainted by harsh realities. Stories also draw children into new worlds. Storytelling draws adults in as well. Why else would we bing watch shows on Netflix like The Office or Doctor Who? We connect and relate to stories on a deep level. We compose them to preserve history and memories. Even throughout scripture, God uses stories to teach and preserve. Jesus’ utilizes parables to impart the wisdom and truths of heaven. Maybe God wrote storytelling into our DNA. As a result, some children are … Read more…

Yarn Along: Sweet Babies

It occurred to me today how far behind I am on making baby gifts. I’ve had three friends and a cousin-in-law have babies this past week alone. And that’s not counting my friends that are due very soon! I need to pull out and set up my sewing machine and spend a couple evenings sewing. After baby girl goes to sleep of course. Pins, scissors, and babies do not mix well! Hopefully I can finish this Angel Wings Pinafore for a friend who just had a baby girl. It has been an easy pattern to follow, and I don’t think it … Read more…

Freebie for the Fourth: Weather Unit for Kids

Keep your kids learning and having fun inside and outside this summer, and all year, with this free weather unit. It is adjustable for age, with several different activities. I am slowly beginning to create educational units to use with our children as they grow, so this is the first of many. I can’t wait to share it with you, wonderful readers! I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but here it has been rainy and stormy. So I thought, what better place to start off then a weather unit! I’ve created this weather unit complete with weather … Read more…

Teaching Your Kids About Quiet Time

This is a topic I want to talk more in depth about over the coming weeks; however, I am on a major time crunch today. First of all, this affiliate resource I am sharing is only available (in this amazing bundle) until the end of TODAY! Yikes! Also, we are in the middle of our move–so this may be one of the quickest posts I ever do. (You’re probably like–“Yay short!”) But I knew I had to share it with you. Putting affordable and quality parenting resources into your hands, especially ones that help build your kids’ faith, is one of … Read more…

Excitement All Around

I think this week can be summed up in one word: Exciting. The right house, for the right price opened up for us a couple months ago, and this week we closed on it. It is our first time buying a home, and it is a landmark moment for our family. Owning a home means we get to live somewhere longer than a year and a half. We have moved five times in five years. We are laying down roots. Maybe it won’t be a forever home, but we are anticipating all the memories that will resound within its walls: … Read more…

Thomas Locker Wins My Heart Again

Sometimes there are books that appeal to the teacher in me, or the mom in me, or the historian, or poet . . . But rarely do I find a book that wins the whole of my heart. Thomas Locker has a way of stunning me on all fronts. Every page in a Thomas Locker book is a work of art. His landscapes are worthy of being framed–and many are in prestigious museums. I am slowly buying all of his books for our personal collection. Home: A Journey through America (amazon affiliate link) celebrates the beauty of the different places across America … Read more…

Gathering Around Inspirations: Losing Yourself in a Good Book

This past week has not been my most productive. At least not in the practical sense of productivity. I have always loved reading, so much so that I have to be careful it does not consume all my free time. I could lose myself in a good book for hours. And this past week I have become totally sucked into good books. It started with Because of Winn-Dixie (affiliate link). I’ve read this book several times, but I decided to start reading it to Rebekah while nursing her. It is a quick read and hard to put down, even on your fifth time reading … Read more…

The New Recipe I am Obsessed With: Miracle Dough

Okay, so I could go on and on about how awesome this year’s Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is and how it is such a great deal. But I won’t. If you’ve checked out the bundle, you will realize that for yourself in seconds. And, to be honest, these bundles are a great value, but sometimes the amount of resources can be overwhelming. So I thought instead I would highlight the ebook that I have gotten the most use out of so far. I have started several of ebooks and one ecourse. It is hard to pick a favorite. I feel like I … Read more…

Gather Around Inspirations: Spring Learning Activities

I need to get outside ya’ll!  Spring is in full swing here, and I love it so much I could just cry with joy! To be fair, I love every season. But when winter turns that corner into spring, I feel consumed with excitement. It is like the whole earth is waking up and unfurling before our eyes after its long winter slumber. The birds are singing all day long, the grass, trees, shrubs, and bushes are all the richest of bright greens, the weather is that perfect 75 degrees with a light breeze, the rain makes everything bloom, the … Read more…

Gather Around Inspirations: The Life Giving Home

When you walk into somebody’s house and feel at home, what is it that makes you feel that way? Is it the physical environment? Probably not, though that can contribute to it. That feeling of home that embraces you like a warm hug is often a combination of things. But most of it is relational in nature. Casting a vision for your marriage, family, and home is crucial. We all need direction and focus. Without it, we wander aimlessly. Meandering about letting our days and precious moments with our families slip away from us. To recapture and engage the hearts of … Read more…

Gather Around Inspirations: A Special Gift of Love

I grew up knowing most of my extended family on my mom’s side. And I am talking extended family . . . like 4th and 5th cousins extended. Growing up we always went to family reunions and annually gathered at my great-aunt Margie’s for Memorial Day lunch after placing flowers on the graves of extended family in Arnold, Nebraska. My husband has always marveled at the interconnectedness of my family. Even in Phoenix, we had the blessing of getting to know my mom’s cousin (so my second cousin) Doris really well. In fact, on most family vacations we would visit some cousin … Read more…

Gather Around Inspirations: Unpacking My Childhood

I don’t have much to share by way of Yarn Along Wednesday, except a dream I have to crochet Rebekah a light yellow dress for this summer. I crocheted a darling little yellow flower for a hair clip to match her Easter dress, but I failed to get a fantastic picture of it. Now that she is walking, she is a busy body. I don’t walk away with many pictures that are not blurry. And our Easter family picture was a bit mopey. Rebekah was on the brink of sleep when we took it. As always, remember to check out more … Read more…

Gather Around Inspirations and Yarn Along Wednesday

Today I am blending my Wednesday feature with my Tuesday feature–sorry! However, I think that they fit together very well. I often talk about what I am reading during Yarn Along Wednesday, and what I was going to talk about this week is also one of my favorite “read-together books.”  After discovering what fun it was to crochet boot cuffs, I decided to make some more. This green pair is going to a friend who is having a rough time. It is my prayer that they brighten her day and let her know that she is thought of and loved. If you … Read more…

Gather Around Inspirations: Poetry

In case you missed what Gather Around Inspirations is all about, let me fill you in. It is about introducing quality literature (but also art and music) into your home. Looking for a good book to read as a family? I’ve got you covered! Through Gather Around Inspirations, I am sharing some of my favorite (past and present) read-aloud books. I believe we cannot effectively pass on a love of reading to our children by nagging them to read more. Instead, we need to be willing to come alongside them and share the joy of reading with them, together. Which leads me … Read more…

Yarn Along: Imaginative Play

One of my favorite things ever is to watch children imagine, create, and play. Many of my own best childhood memories involve imaginative play. Even now, I like to think I have a healthy and active imagination. 😉 Because I love encouraging imaginative play, I have been creating some whimsical crowns. I made this one for Rebekah, and though it turned out a bit tight, it fits great (I am a tight hooker). I decided to make a couple for my friend’s daughters because they are 3 and 5–the perfect ages for imaginative play! But, because I am a tight … Read more…

Gather Around Inspirations: Tap the Magic Tree

I love to wander the aisles of children’s books at the library. I always come home with way too many picture books. And I have the unfortunate habit of picking out books that I think look awesome, rather than thinking of what Rebekah would like. Right now, we are mostly reading aloud from Heidi while nursing, or enjoying board books together (which I often don’t like to get from the library because every baby chews on them). She loves turning the pages of board books and will sit while we read several. She does has a few picture books she … Read more…

Gather Around Inspirations: Heidi

As a young girl I dreamt of a loft bed of hay with a little window over looking the mountains and fresh goat’s milk for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I always remembered how Heidi  is described in the book and the vivid descriptions of the mountains and her loft bed. My mom had this old, large, edited version of Heidi. I can still see the blue cover with a picture of a small girl in her thin, white smock. I don’t know where that book ended up, but I hope I can find it again. As a pre-teen at a scholastic book … Read more…

Hospitality When You Have Young Children

I used to wonder how parents could manage to be hospitable when they were wrangling small kids, constantly picking up toys, wiping noses and bottoms, and trying to maintain children’s sleeping schedules. Fortunately, I have been inspired by many young moms through the years. Currently at church there are several moms who consistently open up their homes for playdates, small groups, bonfires, or other get togethers, despite having young kids. I love that young moms still stretch themselves to be welcoming and hospitable, even if their homes are not perfect or the sliding glass doors have finger prints. Hey, life happens. And … Read more…

If Only Life Came with a Pattern . . . Oh Wait, It Does!

In Psalm 142:3 David proclaims, “When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn.” Reading this made me feel both grateful and disappointed. I am thankful that God will breathe strength into our weary hearts and guide us when we are overwhelmed. Still, some days I want a pattern in life to follow that will reveal the finished product. What will the tapestry of my life be? Like the picture on the front of the puzzle box, I want to know how it all fits together. But, oh, how forgetful I can be! God gave us the ultimate pattern to … Read more…

Gather Around Inspirations

Gather Around Inspirations will be my new Tuesday feature, focusing on books, art, and music worth gathering around. Call me old-fashioned, but I love the imagery of families gathered in front of the hearth, sewing or relaxing while someone reads aloud or plays the violin. Often they read from the Bible or classics like Tennyson. It is idyllic, I know. It may not have involved a fireplace, but some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around books. Whether that meant reading through Laura Ingalls Wilder books with my mom, The Chronicles of Narnia with my dad, admiring pictures in picture books, scoping out … Read more…

Yarn Along: Finding Beauty and Finishing My Winter Projects

The other day I found myself thinking how all life is poetry if we look close and listen. Even the hard moments. The flecks of color in my cracker, a baby’s cries, dust on the window sill, and the dripping of snow off the house. I am trying to slow down and observe life, especially in the hard moments. There is beauty everywhere, even among pain and tears. Still, it is hard to slow down and see. Though my eyes may be open, my heart is often blind. And some days just don’t get off to a beautiful start. Not because beauty … Read more…

A New Take on Coloring: An Interview with Andrew Miller

Have you ever known someone who has inspired you to be more creative and to pursue your passions?  I have a couple of those people in my life who inspire creativity and courage within my heart simply by their example of embracing creativity and hustling after their goals. One of those people in my life is Andrew Miller. He was a college classmate and friend of mine and one of my husband’s college roommates. (Andrew with his wife Sonia and daughter Anya.) Mitch and I made a point to stay in touch, as much as possible, with Andrew and his wife Sonia after … Read more…

Blessings Big and Small: A Linkup

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, … Read more…

Yarn Along: So Many Babies!

What am I crocheting? I have a couple baby items I am sewing and crocheting for our nephew Blake. He is due this next month. We cannot wait to meet the little fella! I will share all my projects when they are done, but for now I am working on crocheting a sweet little vest. I am making it 9-12 months in hopes that it will fit next fall and winter. So far the pattern is easy and adorable. But I am about to start the arm holes, which tend to be tricky. When I made Rebekah’s fall sweater I … Read more…

Winter Picture Books

1948 winner of The Caldecott Medal. Its age shows in its faded, worn cover and mostly black and white pictures. The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader is one of my favorite winter picture books.  I recently found this book at Goodwill, and I am so glad I nabbed it up. (I am always on the prowl for quality picture books.) Not only is The Big Snow a classic, but it is perfect to read this time of year. It teaches about what different animals do during the winter. For the past couple months I have been watching the flocks of geese settle … Read more…

Motivational Books for the New Year

I’ve lost my rhythm with reading. I still love it. But sometimes it feels like such a luxury that it gets pushed off into a dusty corner of my mind and life. TV at least allows me to multitask: crochet, fold laundry, etc. I’ve been reflecting on changes I would like to make in 2016. I decided that reading needs to become a bigger part of life. Reading is more than recreation. And I need it to be more than an auxiliary activity in my life. Reading encourages my imagination, sparks ideas, motivates action, helps me relate to others, relaxes me, stretches … Read more…

Do Not Be Deceived

Deception is alive and well. Satan is the master of lies and a deception artist. Truth can be difficult to discern. Intuition can be muddled. Consciences can be dulled. Our world has lost sight of truth. A lack of truth has led to watered-down morality. It has also led to anger, confusion, and darkness. Desperate for truth, many people–like the youth persuaded to join ISIS–buy into extreme, radical lies. Our world is polarized between extreme, hate-fueled philosophies and a post-modern disillusionment.  But, there is nothing new under the sun. Paul addressed self-delusion in Romans. He explained how many people strayed so far … Read more…

4 Children’s Books That Will Make You Tear Up

More than once I have whisked a tear away while reading to our Rebekah. And more than once I have heard Mitch’s voice crack as he gets choked up reading to her. I could blame the hormones (at least I don’t cry at every animal youtube video anymore), and we could both blame sleep deprivation. But I believe the real cause is that sometimes a book perfectly conveys what we want to communicate to our child: never-ending love and comfort. These books hopefully remind our daughter that we love her, but they also refocus us on what is important–cherishing these … Read more…

Guest Post: Speaking the Love Languages of Others

Love languages. It does sort of sound a bit new age-y, or even like a different name for the Romance Languages like Italian and Spanish. But no, it does not have to do with foreign languages, although sometimes it can seem foreign. In the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, he explains what the five live languages are and how they work. In case you haven’t come across them before here’s a brief overview. (Read the book I promise you will love it and you’ll probably start assessing your friends! There are also versions covering teens, children and … Read more…

Steady Joy Amidst Chaos

Alicia Britt Chole

Steady joy: A joy that cannot be tainted by circumstance. A joy that persists on our darkest of days. This is what God offers.  Over the past five weeks I felt both more joy and more stress than I have ever experienced before. Who knew they could co-exist? If having a new baby for the first time was not stressful enough, we decided to add in traveling across the country when Rebekah was just over two weeks old, a job tryout, and now a cross-country move and another trip to see my family in Nebraska. Call us crazy, but I do believe these … Read more…

Book Review and Giveaway: The Magic of Family Meals

http://hollydoherty.com/

Does your family eat on the go a lot? Are you looking for ways to recover the habit of family mealtime? Does your family zone out in front of the TV or retreat to separate bedrooms during mealtime? Are you looking for more quality time as a family? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, The Magic of Family Meals: 115 Conversation Starters to Connect With Your Kids will be a helpful tool for your family. You CAN retake lost ground and reclaim family mealtime! Here at The Engaged Home I am dedicated to intentionally moving toward an engaged home life … Read more…

Inspiration from the Past

easy crochet project

Confession: my crocheting and knitting time has been abysmal lately . . . I am hoping to rectify that soon. This week, I am working off inspiration from the past. However, I do have a couple projects started that I would love to wrap up. I was looking back through old Yarn Along posts and found this picture of a blanket I made for a friend’s baby that is due this month. Shortly after I made it, I learned they are having a boy. Since we are having a girl, I decided to keep it. 😉 Crocheting around fleece blankets … Read more…

My 30 Days’ Journey to a Fulfilled Life by Ifeoma Samuel (Book Review)

In one way or another, we are all seeking to live a fulfilled life. But so often we seek fulfillment in things that can never truly fill us or satisfy our deep longings. In her eBook, My 30 Days’ Journey to a Fulfilled Life, Ifeoma Samuel lays out the simple truth of not just what, by who leads us to a fulfilled life. Though I have never met Ifeoma (she lives in Africa and I in America), I have followed her blog and was honored when she asked me to review her eBook. Though a bit rocky grammatically in portions, her content … Read more…