Should Learning Be Fun?

There is a debate currently going on among educators about whether or not we should strive to make learning fun for kids. Many believe it will help engage students, while others think it is important to teach our kids to persevere through hard things. Not everything in life is fun, but many things are still worth putting in the work and doing. I actually agree with both sides of this argument. Life, work, changing diapers with a squirming toddler, these things are not always fun. But they are worthwhile. However, if it is possible to make learning a fun and … Read more…

Tips for Moving While Homeschooling

When your home is also your children’s school, the idea of moving takes on a more terrifying slant than normal. Not only are you uprooting your entire lives and all the usual hassle that goes with that, but you’re also in danger of disrupting an educational program for your kids. It is stressful to say the least.  But one of the blessings of homeschooling is that it is flexible, and you have the opportunity to incorporate teaching life skills. While there are plenty of tips to sell your house, how do you keep your family functioning and sane during the process? … 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…

A Practical Home Education

Most people think of home education as homeschooling. And yes, it can be one and the same. But home education is so much broader. It encompasses what we teach our children about everyday kindness, how to follow Jesus, responsibility with chores, and home and car upkeep. You should strive for a practical home education for your child, whether you homeschool or not. So many of us graduate high school and move out of our parents’ house without much of the needed knowledge for adulthood. Now, while I agree experience is the best teacher–there are so many home projects and practical … Read more…

The Educational Benefits of Traveling With Your Kids

Whether you’ve chosen to homeschool your children or not, there’s no arguing that travel is beneficial for their learning and development. In fact, many parents within the homeschooling community are now traveling with their kids as much as they can afford. When families travel, children gain firsthand experiences and applications. Consider some of the benefits of traveling with your kids: A better understanding and appreciation of different cultures One of the most amazing things about traveling abroad, whether it’s to New York City, China, Africa, etc, is that it allows your children to learn about different cultures. While you could teach … Read more…

Our Snowy Day

***This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links at no extra cost or obligation to you. We only share products we love or have on our own personal wishlist. It does not cost you a cent extra to buy through our link, but if you do buy anything on Amazon through our link, it greatly helps us out! 🙂 Snow days and nostalgia: no school, sleeping in, tromping through the snow, sledding with friends, and warming up with a mug of hot chocolate. To most kids, snow days equate to bliss. I still remember sledding the hill by my middle school, and of … 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…

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…

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…

Beauty in the Details

This past week has been full of outdoor adventures: Running barefoot through the grass or squealing as we dart through the sprinkler. I lather Rebekah and I with sunscreen every day. We both have very fair skin. And if she is anything like me, the sun will blister her skin long before she ever tans. This Badger Balm Kids Face Stick SPF 35 – Tangerine and Vanilla works great and smells amazing. Though it is a bit hard to rub in. I worried about finding summer sunscreen that would not irritate Rebekah’s sensitive skin. Fortunately, this face stick hasn’t caused a single … 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…

How to Make Learning Fun at Home

A love of learning and a natural curiosity are traits I am seeking to develop in Rebekah and our future children. A heart that loves to learn (in my opinion) is more valuable in life that straight A’s or a 4.0 GPA. Part of cultivating young hearts to love to learn is realizing that most kids love learning already. It seems to be innate to their very being! They are curious about the world around them. Sweet Rebekah will sit and slowly flip through a board book, pondering each picture. (Though she is very much in the “independent” phase of reading. … 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…

A Family Tradition–Watching the Sandhill Cranes

Rebekah’s fever finally started to break and stay low enough to get out a bit. And by “get out” I mean drive around. After all, we didn’t want to overwhelm her. We had been wanting to drive around to the cornfields and river to look for sandhill cranes, so we packed up and set out. Most of the cranes have already continued on with their migration, but we still saw quite a few rummaging in the cornfields. Going out every spring to see the cranes is a favorite family tradition of mine. Some years, like today, we just casually drive the … 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…

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…

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…

The Benefits of Learning a Second Language

Yesterday, my mom called to tell me about a woman who called her for help but couldn’t speak English. “Nathana, while we visit, can you teach me some Spanish?” “Well, mom, I haven’t taken Spanish since my sophomore year of high school, I don’t really remember anything . . . “ “Oh sure you do, your teacher said you were a natural and so good you could teach it!” (I really wasn’t that good . . .) “It was a long time ago mom. I learned it fast, but I also forgot it fast. I mean, I only took it … 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…

What I’ve Observed on Raising Healthy Children

As a new parent, I sometimes find myself stressing out about whether or not I am giving Rebekah the best start in life possible. Crazy thoughts sometimes bombard me: Oh no! We haven’t started a college fund yet . . . Can I feed her non-organic food?! (Just typing some of my thoughts out loud make me realize how nutty they are!) One of my favorite things to do is to observe others. I know that makes me sound like a creeper . . . but I promise I am not! I like to observe couples and families who are raising healthy children … 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…

How to Encourage Your Child’s Education

Read the statistics. Ask the teachers. Ask the youth ministers. Parental involvement and encouragement are huge, whether considering your teenager keeping their faith when they reach adulthood, or your child or teenager embracing learning and education. Parents, please don’t underestimate your power of influence here, and the volumes that your example will teach your children. If you are homeschooling or your children go to public or private school, here are some ways that you can actively engage in their education as you encourage them to be lifelong learners. Educational Apps I will admit that I often resist technology. Just ask my husband. I … Read more…

Lengthening Your Baby’s Attention Span

First of all, I am not a medical professional. Also, I am right in the thick of this parenthood thing with you! But I have researched and learned many things from people with vast medical and non-medical experience with babies that I have successfully put into practice with Rebekah. We have seen positive outcomes. So I am excited to share these tips with you. All of that said, I do understand that each child’s development is done at their own pace.   Before I jump in, I do have three more disclaimers: 1) playing with your child is a good thing 2) engaging … Read more…

Helping Your Teen Find Their First Job

Do you remember your first job? I do. I worked as a hostess at Red Lobster. I was so excited that I did not have to resort to working in fast food or detassling! (Unfortunately, I did still end up detassling one summer during college. If you don’t know what that means, consider yourself fortunate!) I owe a lot my success to my parents encouraging and equipping me, and my high school English teacher drilling us on how to write resumes and cover letters. Ugh. To this day, I hate writing resumes and cover letters. But, knowing how to do it well can … Read more…

An Educational Christmas Countdown

    Many of us treasure holiday memories with our families because of unique family traditions. Mitch and I have formed a couple of our own since we got married (5 years ago!!!). We always make homemade pizza on Christmas Eve (or before we go to celebrate with family). We have certain Christmas movies and music albums that we love to listen to (you can check them out in my Amazon store under products that we love). Seriously, if you have not checked out The Star of Bethlehem, do so this year! We watch it every Christmas. I’ve seen it … Read more…

The Ultimate Thanksgiving Roundup

Thanksgiving is around the corner! For most of us anyways. This year we get to celebrate three times! We celebrated with my parents on Monday. We will get together with more family on Wednesday and then on Saturday. Strangely, we have no official plans for Thursday. However, we will be with my husband’s family in Springfield, so I am sure we all will soak up lots of time with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. 🙂 In celebration of this time of year, I have compiled some of my favorite recipes, crafts, decor ideas, and lessons. This is the ultimate thanksgiving roundup. Feel free to share your … Read more…

Tips for Creating a Functional Homeschool Space

This is a guest post by Ella Andrews.  Creating your very own homeschool space is not exactly an easy task, since you will need a location to not only hold school, but store your supplies. That being said, you will have a chance to make a lot of great choices both for storage and tutoring purposes, so make use of the following tips to make it work: Make your space more functional and comfortable, ensuring there is enough space to walk between the desks or other furniture. Basements and garages can be good areas to deal with this, especially if you work on them with … Read more…

DIY Baby Pat Mat (Free and Only Takes 3 Minutes to Make)

We are participating in Parents as Teachers, and a couple months ago we learned about this super fun and easy baby pat mat. The best part is that most people already have all the supplies needed to make it!  It is super simple, and if your baby is 3-9 months, chances are they will love playing with it. Plus, it teaches about cause and effect. Talk with you baby about “When you hit it or pat it, what happens? Did that blue piece move? What if you pat it here?” Supplies: water 2 gallon plastic bags (you’ll want to double bag) tinsel or … Read more…

Indoor Activities for Kids During the Cold Winter Months

You’ve probably noticed that over the past few weeks the weather has started to change. Winter is headed our way. When temperatures start to drop and rain becomes more regular, we can no longer spend as much time outside with our families as we would like to. For many parents, this means sticking the kids in front of the television to keep boredom at bay. While a little television is okay, like many moms, I don’t believe in letting kids spend all day in front of a screen. I believe that boredom is not always the enemy–in fact, I believe … Read more…

DIY Bible Box with Supplies From the Dollar Tree

Rebekah loves Bible class. I started dropping her off when she was only three months old. I honestly didn’t know how she would do, but she adores it! Sweet teachers, Bible songs and rhymes, and objects to grab and play with make it a fun experience for her. (I’m sure she will go through separation anxiety at some point, but for now she loves going to class.) I genuinely believe that babies can learn a lot more than we give them credit for. So, why not start teaching them about the most important thing: The fact that God made them and loves them!  … Read more…

Encouraging Your Child to Have a Healthy Self-Image

Now that I am blessed to be the mother of a 5-month-old baby girl, I am realizing how easy it is to slip into the comparison and labeling game. I am excited to unravel her unique personality. Yet, the sneaky sin of comparison sometimes sneaks into my mind. She doesn’t laugh as often as so-and-so, but she has more motor skills than that kid . . . etc.  These thoughts are unfair to her. They make me over-analytical and anxious. Plus, comparison is always a lose-lose situation. Either she comes out ahead in my mind and it feeds my pride (a sin I struggle with), … Read more…

Equipping Our Children to Engage a Broken World

equipping our children to navigate life

Some days I wonder about what type of world our children will live in. I think of the challenges we faced growing up and wonder what is in store for them. It doesn’t surprise me that more and more parents are trying to shelter their kids from the world. Yet, I do not think that approach is always beneficial. I believe we need to teach our children to navigate and engage the world around them in a healthy way. Teaching our children truth, so they can filter out lies is essential. How do you teach your children the wisdom they need … Read more…

When Your Child Asks “Why would someone do that?”

The "Why" question

I think one of the most intimidating (but healthy) questions a child can ask is why. Recently, a friend of mine mentioned how her young daughter came home from school, where they had talked about 9/11, and asked “Why would someone do that?” Why? I think we could jump into a discussion about how the terrorists believed false ideas of glory, how America was evil, etc. And historically, that is good to talk about if your children are old enough to understand it. But doesn’t why come down to hatred?  Whether you are Muslim, Christian, Atheist, or Buddhist, isn’t it hatred that causes … Read more…

How to Talk With Your Child About 9/11

Do you remember what you were doing when you heard about the terrorists attacks on 9/11? I do. I saw it on TV as I walked into 7th grade history after band class. Those images are forever imprinted into my mind. However, this is not the case for most children today. They were not alive, and if they were, they were too young to remember. So how do you introduce this historical subject to elementary age children? And should we?  First of all, yes we should talk about it. It is an important part of our national history, it lead … 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…

5 Ways to Support Your Child’s Self-Esteem by Holly Doherty

1) Don’t praise them just for showing up. I know this statement flies in the face of conventional wisdom, in a world where every kid in the soccer league gets a trophy just for being on a team, and some leagues don’t even keep score lest they hurt a child’s supposedly fragile self-esteem. But life doesn’t give you a trophy just for showing up. Teach your kids to work hard, to take pride in their work, and to do their best. To praise them just for showing up breeds entitlement and an empty, false sense of self-worth. 2) Praise their … 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…

Family Devotional – The Courageous Christian

Family Devotional on Courage Explore the Meaning: Courage. What do you think of when you hear the word courage? (Firemen running into buildings, policemen, standing up for what you believe in, etc.) Do you think God wants us to be courageous? If so, how? (i.e. standing up for our faith, talking to others about Jesus, living out God’s calling for us rather than being afraid to go where he calls) (For older kids) What is the difference between being courageous and being confident, or even cocky? The dictionary defines courage as “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person … Read more…

3 Simple Valentine Activities

In case you haven’t realized it already, I am a fan of simple. I am not inherently crafty. My ability to cut in a straight line is questionable at best. But I do enjoy taking on a fun DIY task. I love that they often save money, not to mention the feeling of accomplishment you have afterwards! I also am pushing myself to gather more fun and creative crafts for kids. This past weekend I found myself in need of simple Valentine activities for young kids. Here are three simple Valentine activities that would work great with kids ages 4-9: … Read more…

Building Character: Faithfulness

Faithfulness is something we can all relate to on a personal level. All of us have experienced the never-ending faithfulness of God. While we were still sinners, Christ loved and died for us. He is faithful, even when we are not. Many of us have also experienced unfaithfulness. Maybe even in a close friend or spouse. That breech of trust in an established relationship is difficult to overcome. Trust is not built over night, rather over time. Chances are, we know how deeply that unfaithfulness can wound. Yet, when we were at our most unfaithful, Christ still died to make us right with … Read more…

4 Ways to Empower Teens to Protect Their Hearts

Do you remember the old saying “Garbage in, garbage out”? It was a popular churchy phrase I heard a lot as a teenager. It was a catchy way of saying that what we allow into our hearts will overflow into our life in good or bad ways. We are all susceptible to this problem. We don’t outgrow it. It just looks different when we are children, teenagers, young adults, and then adults. Teenagers are bombarded junk and lies. They buy into the lies that they need to have a “thigh gap” to be hot or that the “right” clothes = confidence. As adults we too struggle … Read more…

Mental, Spiritual, and Physical Health

In 2015, I want sharpen The Engaged Home’s focus. Our core message is that learning and faith begin at home. We will explore ways to strengthen our families as a unit and as healthy individuals. In my opinion, there are three overarching aspects to a healthy family: Mind/Mental Health Spirit/Spiritual Health Body/Physical Health (Some people would also include a fourth: the heart. I believe the heart can fall into any of these three categories depending on how you look at it. The Bible does say that out of our hearts, the mouth speaks. I also know that if our hearts are … Read more…

Engage Life in 2015

“Don’t let your year happen to you–Happen to your year.” –Mitch Clay How will you engage life in 2015? This idea of actively engaging life goes back to the root purpose of The Engaged Home. At The Engaged Home, our purpose is to engage life, specifically our family life. If we live life passively, then we are like a paper boat carried here and there by the tide. Some days it is smooth sailing, but other days we run adrift. When we live passively, life happens to us and all we can do is react. It may seem easier, but it … Read more…

Family Devotional on Peace

Intro for parents: Sometimes we are guilty of simplifying the idea of peace to a quiet, nice feeling. The truth is that peace is powerful. Teaching your children the power of peace enables them to face the challenges of life with an anchor and a strength, not born out of the hardness of sorrow and failure, but rooted in a relationship with God, where they are living in the presence of their Lord and Savior. Our children need to not only learn what peace is and how to experience it, they need an example of peace in their lives, both from the … Read more…

The Star of Bethlehem

The Star of Bethlehem documentary was not on my to-watch list. I heard about different groups watching it at church while we lived in York. But to be honest, I just thought, boring! I didn’t think I needed science to prove anything to me about the star for me to believe it was true. Fast forward two years and we are in Missouri attending church with my in-laws over Christmas. And what video is their Bible class watching? The Star of Bethlehem . . .  Within minutes, my interest was hooked. About halfway through I was tearing up. Both my husband and I were so … Read more…

Teen Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daugther of Smoke and Bone is the first book in a series by Laini Taylor that falls into a currently popular genre for teens: Fantastical Romance. I must admit my bias against this genre. In fact, my dislike of it is so strong, that I almost quit reading this book after chapter one. I felt like I was reading Twilight. At times, I had to laugh, and sometimes gag, at the overly dramatic, sensual language. Bias aside, I have friends and family who genuinely enjoy reading this genre. I will not judge you, or hold it against you in any way if you like … Read more…

My Favorite Things: Usborne Books and Giveaway

Books are one of my favorite gifts to give and receive! As an avid reader, I love collecting books, and most years they are at the top of my Christmas list. I am also “that aunt” who’s always buying children’s books for my niece and nephews. I can’t help it! Children’s books are just too cute! Plus, many are both engaging and educational for young minds. In addition to buying for others, I have already started a personal children’s library at home in preparation for Baby Clay in April. I am a firm believer in reading with young children, even young babies. My mom … Read more…

Teen Book Review: Life As We Knew It

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer Life As We Knew It is most certainly a page-turner! Its storyline is one that has been very popular lately: There is a catastrophic event and the world changes forever. We see this over and over again today in Zombie lore, books like The Road, and movies like The Day After Tomorrow. It addresses questions such as “What would people do in this situation?” or “How would humanity cope?” Ultimately, it is a book about familial love and survival. In the book, a meteor hits the moon and moves it closer in orbit to the earth. This … Read more…

Thankfulness Family Devotional

Family Devotional I wanted to create a family devotional that you can start the week with together. This month we are focusing on thankfulness. Read the devotional and scriptures aloud as a family. The italicized questions are for you and your children to discuss out loud. “Explore the Meaning” introduces the concept and assesses your children’s prior knowledge. I tried to define words as much as possible, but depending on the age of your children, you may need to back up and explain some vocabulary (great learning opportunity). “Look It Up” offers some scriptures from the Bible to illustrate the concept. “Apply … Read more…

November Preview

Happy Halloween! For our church’s Fall Fest I was Deb from Napoleon Dynamite (80s girls to all the generations who don’t know that movie) and Mitch was making fun of his future self as a nerdy dad. However, after he shaved his beard and looked in the mirror, he said “I look just like my dad did when I was born! Gulp!” (Sorry for the bad camera phone resolution!) However, I know many families choose not to celebrate Halloween, and I respect that, so Halloween will not be my focus today. Instead, I want to give you a preview of … Read more…

Six Ideas for Nurturing a Generous Child

  The children I have observed are not naturally generous. They don’t want to share their toys. They want to do things their way. But let’s face it, selfishness is a problem people struggle with whether they are two or 52. Raising a generous child is something that you have to do purposefully. Helping your child understand the why of generosity is important. Within the why it is necessary to teach them that we are not generous for the recognition or praise of people, but we are generous because we love God and we want to share God’s generous love with others. That … Read more…

5 Ways to Practice Generosity as a Family

Yesterday we talked about things YOU, as the adult, can do personally. Your kids need to see you model generosity; they will learn through your example. But one of the best ways to instill values into your family is to practice them together. I know a lot of kids who watched their parents do this or that, but they never learned how to do it for themselves. Generosity is a wonderful character trait to practice together because there are so many opportunities and ideas. Today, I brainstormed five ways you can practice generosity as a family: 1. Decorate a jar as a … Read more…

Creating Character: An Education for the Whole Family

I was inspired by the Duggar Family (20 Kids and Counting on TLC, or in our case Netflix) to begin a journey focusing on developing godly character. They incorporate character building into their homeschooling curriculum and daily life. At first, I thought practicing good character was only for little kids, something taught in Sunday school. But, I was very wrong. Just because we are “adults” does not mean we have it all together. Building character is a journey you can begin whether you are two or 72. I am a work in progress and I pray God is not done with … Read more…

Teen Book Review: I am the Messenger

(As you can tell from the picture, it is a Printz Honor Book, which is a high honor. It was beat out by another young adult book I will eventually review: Looking for Alaska by John Green.) First of all, I chose this book for a teen book review because after The Book Thief became so popular, so did I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. I am glad I chose this book because I think parents need to be aware of some of the content, and while I think it is a worthwhile book with positive, solid themes, I would not recommend it for anyone under … Read more…

First Day of Autumn: Sharing a Love of Nature With Your Children

It is officially the first day of Autumn, my favorite season! I cherish something about every season: Summer’s recreation, Spring’s awakening, and Winter’s gusty, swirling snow. Yet, Autumn encapsulates so much of what I love: the way the first nip of cold comes sweeping in on the breeze; the coziness of breaking out knitted sweaters; clasping a steaming mug of apple cider as you sit around a fire; hayrides bumping around dry, sometimes shaved-to-a-stubble cornfields; pumpkin patches bursting with orange and red pumpkins and gourds, ripe for the picking; the smell of dry leaves falling; the color scheme of Autumn with … Read more…

Building Your Own Personal Children’s Library

Growing up, I adored my very own bookshelf. Not only was it handmade by my grandpa, but it had sliding doors, and it held my most prized possessions: books. I still love my bookshelves (plural now). As an adult, I am trying to collect a variety of genres and styles for our future kids. Here are some of my recent purchases: (In case you cannot tell, I almost always buy used books, especially children’s books!) I also tend to lean toward books with vibrant pictures and educational value. In fact, I am purposefully trying to find more “fun” books, so … Read more…