Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Grocery Shopping, Anyone?



Love it or hate it, grocery shopping is part of the American culture. Unless you live on a completely self-sustaining farm, you have to get out once in a while to get groceries. I am not Amish, but I'm pretty sure even the Amish have to go in to town every so often to get needed supplies that they can't produce on their own farms.  For many of us, this task falls to the woman in a marriage. I do have friends whose husbands do the grocery shopping, but offhand, I can only think of one. She is blessed.   If you are also blessed by a husband who prefers to do the majority of the grocery shopping, you can probably stop reading right now. Otherwise, I have finally found a system that works for me and you might find it useful.




As with other things we talk about on this blog (I am sensing a developing a theme here) intentionality is key. When I was first married, I went to the grocery store without a plan and often I took my husband along for company. This resulted in a lot of frozen pizzas, snacks, and few meal options. As a result, and partly because I had a job that required me to work odd hours, we ate out a lot. This was not good for our budget or our health. I don't recommend it.
I finally hit on a plan that worked for a while when I had 3 very small children and couldn't get out much during the week to get groceries. I was homeschooling my oldest and my youngest was still napping twice a day. This made grocery shopping during the week pretty near impossible. However, I was determined to save money, especially when my husband told me I could use any money left over from the grocery budget at the end of each week for whatever I wanted! WhooHoo! That was incentive, let me tell you. At this time we also lived in a small town with numerous grocery stores relatively close by. So, I scoured the ads and made meal plans around the sales ads for the week. I spent every Saturday running to two or three different grocery stores in order to get the most for my dollar. This is not a new tactic, and if you have the time and inclination to do this, it's a great money saver and a good way to meal plan. However, it can cost more in time and gas than it's worth. And if you are just running around hitting sales without a good plan in place, it's not necessarily helpful either. I think it was a good place for me to start. I would run to the grocery store that had pork chops on sale, but I didn't necessarily have a plan for those pork chops, so in the middle of the week I might find myself wondering what in the world I had to serve with them or even how exactly to prepare them with the ingredients I already had on hand. Not really a plan at all, was it?

I know this isn't really new news, but I was not taught this, dear daughter. My mother did not teach me to meal plan or grocery shop. So I hope this is helpful to you. Make a menu. Every week before you go to the grocery store, make a menu. If you are newly married and you are only shopping for you and your husband for the week, make a menu. Make a menu so you and your husband aren't eating lunch out every day. Make a menu so your husband can start dinner if you're late getting home from work one night. Make a menu so that you can plan on leftovers for lunches during the week.
If you have small children and you are all home together during the day, make menus for lunches and breakfasts as well as dinners. This all seems so obvious and almost silly to blog about, but it wasn't obvious to me and so, dear daughter, I am hoping you can take something from this that will be helpful.


ignore my Christmas note pad. It was a dollar at Target. :)


Make sure, especially if you have children in activities outside the home, that you have some quick go-to meals that can be prepared quickly. This will save you great amounts of money eating out. When  my middle daughter was playing softball at least twice a week and my husband was coaching her team, family meals were difficult and if we did sit down together, it had to be fast. But you know, I found out quickly that buying ingredients for submarine sandwiches was much cheaper, and healthier, than going to a fast food restaurant for the same sandwiches on game night.
Another tip that has been especially helpful for me as my children have gotten older is to have a whiteboard in the kitchen where they could write things down that they would like me to buy or that we are running low on. I don't eat ketchup on anything, really. But my kids do. So, if we're running low on ketchup, chances are I won't find out until we're eating hamburgers and one of my family members complains that we're out of ketchup. So, the rule is, if you find something like that is running low, put it on the whiteboard. If you don't, you can't complain when we run out. Before heading out to the grocery store, I write those things down on my list so I don't forget to buy them.
So, in conclusion, dear daughter, if you want to save time and money on groceries, make a menu before heading out. It's time consuming and sometimes I feel like I am beating my head against a brick wall trying to come with new ideas. But it beats the alternative. Once the menu is made and I have my list, it doesn't necessarily matter which day we eat what, as long as I can go to the list and know I have all the ingredients on hand to make whatever is on the menu. 

I realize there are much more high tech ways to do these things these days. If you are using a menu planning software and you keep all of that information on your smart phone, that is wonderful. But if you are more low-tech, like me, this is simple and it works. And by the way, if you have a menu planning app on your smart phone and you don't use it, you probably aren't saving any money. In fact, if you paid for that app and you aren't using it, you are losing money in the long run.

One book that really helped me in this area in the early years of marriage and parenting is Miserly Moms by Jonni McCoy. Also, DaveRamsey has so many great budgeting tips on his web-site, you can make worksheets and spreadsheets for everything. So, if you need help even coming up with a grocery budget, this might be a great place to start. 

Happy shopping, dear daughter. I've learned to enjoy my weekly trip to the store, even if I don't love the prep work. I hope you can find some enjoyment in planning and preparing healthy, delicious meals for your family.


Laura

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Guard Your Heart

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The topic of discussion today on the christian radio station I was listening to was guarding your heart. Oftentimes I don't think people take this issue seriously, especially women. We can be very vulnerable at times and those opportunities can be exploited by someone who does not have our best interests at heart. 

I'm not talking about courtship or purity in this instance. I'm aiming this discussion at women in any type of romantic relationship but in particular to those who are married. 

I'm sure you remember the blush of first love when your man could do no wrong. You loved all those little quirky things about him. That is what made him special and what helped you fall in love with him. Fast forward a few years. Your love has become almost rote. You live in the day-to-day dealings of raising children, taking care of the house, paying the bills, doing the laundry, getting the groceries, and the list goes on and on. You begin to become annoyed by all those quirky things that no longer seem so endearing. You begin to focus on all the things that get under your skin rather than the things you love about your spouse. 

Then one day you are at the gym. It's the only time you have for yourself after all. You notice the man on the treadmill next to you watching the same show as you so you strike up a conversation. Soon you are looking forward to those gym days more than ever - not for the workout - but to see if your "friend" will be there so you can talk. He's so much fun after all and he understands you so well. See where this is headed? 

Proverbs 4:23-27 
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. 
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

We are called to keep our focus on God. "Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you." By beginning a relationship with the man at the gym, you are setting yourself up to fall hard and fast and not in a good way. Women are very susceptible to "emotional affairs" where they seek out affirmation and companionship from another person. As I mentioned in a previous post, women need to feel loved. If they don't feel that at home, they will look for it elsewhere. It may never become physical, but even an emotional affair can have lasting damage. 

Do not seek out affirmation of your marriage outside of your marriage. Look to your husband. Work on that relationship. Marriage is work. It's worth it. No one ever promised it was easy and if they did, they lied!

Here's another scenario for you. You are out to dinner with some girlfriends. One of them, newly married, begins to complain about all the things her husband is doing wrong. Soon another chimes in with her list of complaints and before you know it, everyone at the table seems to be trying to one up the other in how badly their husbands treat them. 

You need to be careful about tearing your husband down in public. "Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk from your lips." Be the one who doesn't say anything negative about your husband while with a group of friends. In fact, be the one who praises him. Share something good instead. 

One thing I have noticed over time is that when you focus on the negative that is all you will see. If you focus on the positive, you will begin to see that more instead. If you can't seem to remember why on earth you ever married this person sharing a house with you, pull out your wedding album. Write a list of all the things you love about him. What made you fall in love with him? Keep it handy and refer to it as often as you need to so that that positive begins to overtake the negative. 

The heart you gave to your husband on your wedding day is his and his alone. It's your job to keep it safe for him. 


Lisa is a wife to Bob. They just began their 21st year of marriage. She is also a mom to three boys (ironic, no?). Her oldest will soon be 18 but still has one more year at home. Her middle son is 13 and her youngest is 10. She also stays busy by homeschooling her children and watching a two-year old (a boy of course) full-time as well as other assorted children as the need arises for family and friends. She is very active in her local and state homeschooling community. She is also a very avid reader, enjoys writing, loves dancing at Zumba class, and checking Facebook a little too often. Lisa strives daily to become more Christ-like. She is reminded often of the Lord's mercy and grace and is thankful that He is so gracious to extend to her on a much needed basis. She lives in Maine on her own piece of "no-where land" with her family.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Altered Journal


I recently attended a ladies retreat hosted by my church. The weekend's teachings were based on Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts. Her book talks about listing all the big, and more importantly, small things that happen over the course of the day that remind us of God's love. She encourages everyone to keep a journal of these gifts.

As a craft, we created an altered journal to keep a list of our gifts. I have made these in the past when I used to paper scrapbook. I really enjoy the creative process of it and it's actually easy to create one.

Step 1: Gather your supplies
  • A composition book 
  • Scrapbooking paper (mine was a package of 50-12x12 pieces) - 4 coordinating pieces
  • Letter stickers
  • A straight cutter
  • Ruler (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Modge-Podge or watered down white glue
  • Paintbrush
  • Any other decorative items you want to use

Step 2: Cut paper for the front cover

I like to leave the black tape uncovered on the binding of the composition book. I measure from the tape to the edge of the book which is about seven inches. Cut the piece of paper you want for the front cover (just worry about the width and not the length). 

Step 3: Glue it down

Using the Modge-Podge or watered down white glue glue the cover paper on. If you have a design on it, make sure you have it centered the way you want. Be sure to leave some paper hanging over the top and bottom edge of the cover. 


Fold the top edges over and glue those down to the inside of the book. 


Step 4: Cut inside paper

Measure the inside cover of the book. This will be longer since you don't have the black tape to compensate for. You'll want to be a bit more accurate with length and width this time so fits better.

Cut a coordinating piece of paper to cover the entire inside cover. Use the modge-podge to glue it down. Be careful of any excess glue as it will stick to the paper. I keep a paper towel handy to clean up as needed.


Step 5: Cover the back cover

Repeat Steps 2-4 to cover the back cover as well. If you want to add any type of closure to your book or bookmark, now it a good time to do this. 

For a book mark, take a length of ribbon and glue it near the top back cover before you glue the inside cover paper. Make sure to measure it longer than the book so it hangs out of the bottom of the book making it easier to find. 

Similarly, for a closure, glue a length of string, yarn, or ribbon near the edge of the middle of the back cover before gluing the inside cover paper in place. You can then add a large button or brad to the front cover to tie it around.

Step 6: Decorate the cover

I used some washi tape to cover the rough edges of the sides. You could also cut a two inch piece of coordinating paper and glue it to the edge as well. 


I also added some sparkle with stickers spelling out "Blessing." The sky is the limit to how you can decorate one. 


Add a pen and you have a relatively inexpensive gift for any occasion. I had many of the items on hand due to my rather, ahem, large scrapbooking stash. However, even if you were to purchase all the supplies, this should end up being about $8 for one. If you have a Dollar Tree store near you, you can find many of the items there making it a bit more inexpensive. 


Lisa is a wife to Bob. They just began their 21st year of marriage. She is also a mom to three boys (ironic, no?). Her oldest will soon be 18 but still has one more year at home. Her middle son is 13 and her youngest is 10. She also stays busy by homeschooling her children and watching a two-year old (a boy of course) full-time as well as other assorted children as the need arises for family and friends. She is very active in her local and state homeschooling community. She is also a very avid reader, enjoys writing, loves dancing at Zumba class, and checking Facebook a little too often. Lisa strives daily to become more Christ-like. She is reminded often of the Lord's mercy and grace and is thankful that He is so gracious to extend to her on a much needed basis. She lives in Maine on her own piece of "no-where land" with her family.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Love Languages

My silly family

Love Languages. We all have them. It's the way we perceive love. Even children have tangible ways they feel love from those around them. It's not just saying "I love you" either. It's in the actions and words that we say. 

Gary Chapman wrote a book on this subject called The 5 Love Languages. It was originally penned for couples to help them in relationships. He has since gone on to write similar books about love languages in children, teens, singles, and even military personnel. 

The five love languages are:
  1. Words of Affirmation - those people who have this as a love language need words to affirm that love. Things such as, "Great job!" or even "I really appreciate you."
  2. Acts of Service - for people who have this love language, it's all about action to back up the love. Making your spouse a lunch to take to work, doing your child's laundry, or cleaning up the living room are just a few examples.
  3. Receiving Gifts - gifts - large or small - are how people with this love language respond. And it doesn't have to be a huge gift or even an expensive gift. Sometimes it can be as small as a pack of chewing gum or even a homemade card.
  4. Quality Time - the person who has this love language just wants to spend time with you and have your undivided attention. It doesn't matter if you take your child on errands or sit in the same room without talking while watching a movie with your spouse - spending time together is all that matters.
  5. Physical Touch - this is pretty self-explanatory. Holding hands, a touch on the arm in passing, a hug and, if you're married, well, yes, that too.
Why are love languages so important? Simply because everyone has a different one. I'm sure you love your spouse or your children or even your parents. If you have a significant relationship in your life, you have someone else you interact with on a level that would benefit from knowing their love language. 

There is a very quick test you can take on the Love Languages website that helps you to determine what your language may be. They have a test you can take for yourself (they will ask if you are in a relationship or single). There is also one for children of various ages and even teens. The test just simply gives you a number of statements grouped in twos. You pick the one that you most relate to. At the end, it will rank your love languages for you. The results can also be emailed to you at the end and they give a much more detailed explanation of what they mean as well as what to do with those results. 

This afternoon I retook the test for myself although I have done so in the past and nothing had changed. My love languages are Words of Affirmation (10) and Acts of Service (9). This means I feel most loved through words and action. I'm complicated that way I guess. Not only do I like to hear the words "I love you" or "Great job!" I also want to have help in doing the day-to-day tasks or getting my "to do" list completed. 

My youngest son

I also had my 10 year-old son take the test. It wasn't surprising to me that he scored highest in Quality Time. He has always been my little shadow. It is a rare occasion for him to opt to stay home with his brothers when I head out to run errands. He also loves to just sit and cuddle on the couch while we watch a movie or TV show. He really doesn't care what we are doing as long as we are doing it together. 

I do have two teenager boys as well at home.  I had the ability to send them both an invitation to take the test so I did that rather than do the test with them. I'm interested to see what they get for results. I know it will help me grow our relationships.

I highly recommend everyone taking a few minutes to find out what their love language is as well as anyone else that they interact with on a daily basis. It doesn't take long but can help improve the way you relate to each other. That's always worth the time.


Lisa is a wife to Bob. They just began their 21st year of marriage. She is also a mom to three boys (ironic, no?). Her oldest will soon be 18 but still has one more year at home. Her middle son is 13 and her youngest is 10. She also stays busy by homeschooling her children and watching a two-year old (a boy of course) full-time as well as other assorted children as the need arises for family and friends. She is very active in her local and state homeschooling community. She is also a very avid reader, enjoys writing, loves dancing at Zumba class, and checking Facebook a little too often. Lisa strives daily to become more Christ-like. She is reminded often of the Lord's mercy and grace and is thankful that He is so gracious to extend to her on a much needed basis. She lives in Maine on her own piece of "no-where land" with her family.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Shabbat

About 10 years ago, when my children were young teens, we decided to begin a new family tradition. Actually, it's an old tradition, one with which Jesus would have been very familiar: Shabbat.

No, we aren't Jewish and we aren't even Messianic Christians, but we thought that the habit of sitting down to a special family meal with prayers and meaningful, precious time together was going to become even more important as the children moved into an older, busier season of their lives.
The table is set, bread covered with a cloth, white candles, a small bowl of salt, glasses for the wine.
Many families in the UK set aside Sunday Lunch for this special family meal. Often, Christians will share it with others. Being invited to Sunday Lunch with another family is always a privilege. This was never going to work for us. My family are (and the children were then training to be) worship musicians and we were frequently up earlier to set up the school where our church services were held, with the sound equipment and for a rehearsal. After packing everything away, we would often not be home until 1pm, far too late for me to prepare a complicated, full, hot meal!

So we settled on Saturday evenings for our Erev Shabbat. This means the evening before the Sabbath or the first evening of the Sabbath. I did some research and found a pattern of the prayers which I liked, printed them out and laminated them. We began with the lighting of candles and proceeded with prayers of thanks for the wine and bread (challah) and the dipping of the bread in the salt. We would then enjoy a meal and the conversation we always knew, would need to 'avoid affairs of the world and focus on the things of God'.

Two loaves of home-made challah, a plaited sweet bread, to remind us of the double portion of manna given to the Jews in the desert the day before Shabbat.
No matter how hard we had worked during the week, how busy our lives had been, or how fractured our family became, Shabbat remained as a longed for oasis of calm, looked forward to by us all, even through those turbulent teenage years.

Jamie would pray and asked for God's blessing on his children and always took time to praise his wife (moi). I cannot tell you how helpful, and what an encouragement, this has been throughout the last 10 years. Even if I'd been a horrible shrew that week, he'd find something precious and generous to say about me, in front of our children. It was the formalised nature of this which ensured it happened and was instrumental in my re-aligning my heart with God's.

It was also touching to think that the pattern of events would have been very similar in Jesus' family growing up and a lovely connection with millions of others throughout the world and through history.

As the children grew up, we'd invite their friends, or other families, to join us for our Saturday evening celebrations, which often concluded with singing God's praises.

Now Jack's wife and child join in when we gather. This has been a well worthwhile practice and I encourage you to consider it for your own young family, Dear Daughter.

Jack at about aged 11 and Grace, perhaps 14.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Blessing Your Home

My bathroom with just a few fall decorations.

Autumn is definitely in the air here in the Northeast of the United States. The temperatures are dropping and the leaves are changing. This is one of my most favorite times of year. My only regret is that it's so fleeting. It seems once the leaves get colorful they fall to the ground and winter sets in seemingly in the blink of an eye. 

However, summer always seems to give one last hurrah. This past weekend it made itself known one more time. The temperatures were in the mid-80s. It had folks digging back out their flip-flops and shorts. On Saturday I spent the day outside at our local Apple Pumpkin Festival. The 4H club I run had a bake sale booth there to raise funds for our club. 

Keeping with the fall theme, I had gone to our local dollar store to pick up some fall-ish decorations for our booth. I decided to purchase them with my own money so that I could use them for my own house after the festival. Sunday afternoon I did just that. 

While I went around finding places to drape some fake fall leaves, I thought to myself - "I'm blessing our home." It only took me just a few minutes to put up the few decorations I had. I also moved around a couple of wall hangings as I had recently purchased one that needed a home on my wall.

The big picture (literally and figuratively) in my dining room. 

Yes, I have a wall of books. I'm a homeschooling mom and a bibliophile. And those books are only the ones for school. My personal books are on a small bookcase in another room and my poor hubby still has all of his books in totes in the basement. 


I love this painting. At the beginning of the month I spent the day shopping with my extended family. At our last store I spotted a bunch of these canvas prints but they were all framed and just a tad too pricey for my budget. I kept browsing and spied this one. It was unframed and on sale! Needless to say I snapped it up and couldn't wait to find a new place for it in my home. It fits on this wall perfectly and I absolutely love the scale of it. It is roughly three feet by two feet. 




This wonderful hand tatted name was created for us by a friend when we bought our home. It used to hang in the dining room where the new large painting resides. This is now hanging right by our front door.

Even my hubby's moose antlers had to get dressed up for the season. 

It didn't take me much time or money to dress up my house for the season. Typically the only season or holiday I decorate for is Christmas. However, this year I decided to spend some time blessing my home and changing things up a bit for fall. Will I do this next year? Who knows. Sometimes it all depends on if my children feel it's a "tradition" that needs to be kept or if it's just for my pleasure. Either reason is reason enough.

Happy Fall!


Lisa is a wife to Bob. They just began their 21st year of marriage. She is also a mom to three boys (ironic, no?). Her oldest will soon be 18 but still has one more year at home. Her middle son is 13 and her youngest is 10. She also stays busy by homeschooling her children and watching a two-year old (a boy of course) full-time as well as other assorted children as the need arises for family and friends. She is very active in her local and state homeschooling community. She is also a very avid reader, enjoys writing, loves dancing at Zumba class, and checking Facebook a little too often. Lisa strives daily to become more Christ-like. She is reminded often of the Lord's mercy and grace and is thankful that He is so gracious to extend to her on a much needed basis. She lives in Maine on her own piece of "no-where land" with her family.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Mothers and Daughters (in-laws)

The Berry Family 2014
with all the inlaws and outlaws included.

When you are standing at the alter and say "I do," not only are you gaining a spouse, but you are gaining an entirely new family as well. This can be a daunting prospect depending on how your own family dynamics were growing up. 

Let me preface this entire thing by saying that I have been truly blessed by my in-laws. They accepted me without question and we have had a pretty smooth relationship over the last 21 years. I know exactly how blessed I am for this. I've heard all the mother-in-law jokes and listened as my friends shared their horror stories of in-laws who made their lives as seemingly miserable as they possibly could.

Until two years ago I lived directly across the driveway from my in-laws for eight years. Included on our little compound was my husband's grandparents. I used to jokingly call it the "Berry Commune." We lived on 100 acres and respected boundaries - literally and figuratively. My children spent many of their formative years there. My youngest was only eight months old when we moved on to the property. He was eight years old when we left. It was our own little piece of heaven. One of the hardest decisions we made was to move an hour away from our extended family for my husband's work. The mitigating factor that had us really thinking hard if it would be a good move or not was the fact that we would be moving so far away from family.

The relationship between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law has been fraught with strife from the beginning of time I'm sure. I won't go in to all the reasons for it as that would simply take far too much time for me to write or you to read. However, I will share some ideas on how to make it work from the perspective of one day being a mother-in-law.

I'm going to keep it very simple...if you had a mother-in-law who treated you poorly, do the exact opposite of whatever she did. If she was constantly giving an opinion when one wasn't asked for, resolve to not do that. If she dropped in to check up on things seemingly all the time and without notice, schedule your visits. If she offered unsolicited advice on how to raise her grandchildren, make every effort to only offer advice when asked. 

I'm praying that when the day arrives, I can eagerly welcome a daughter in to my life. I hope that you are praying for the future spouse of your child. Remember that as much as you love your child, God loves them more and has a wonderful plan in store for them. Our job as parents is to help guide them on that path but we can't force them to take the road we think they should. We need to step back and allow God to work in their lives. His plans are far better than anything we could have ever imagined.

Thankfully I have had two great examples to follow, my own mother as well as my mother-in-law. I know for a fact that there were times my mother did not approve of someone one of her children was dating (including myself). However, she held her tongue and prayed - a lot I'm sure! She allowed us to come to that realization ourselves (thankfully I did before I ever said I do!) and I'm sure she thanked God profusely. I'm also sure that there have been times when my mother-in-law wanted to give an opinion about something that was happening in our young lives when her son and I were first married but she didn't. We have a great relationship and I'm so very thankful.

If you have not been blessed enough to have someone to look to as an example, either your own mother or your own mother-in-law, look for another example. Resolve to be different. Resolve to follow God's instruction on how we should act with one another.

If we follow God's lead on our relationship with our married children, it's more apt to be easier. I'm not saying it will be easier, but I'm saying it can be easier. Remember, we are called to love everyone - even difficult in-laws. 


Lisa is a wife to Bob. They just began their 21st year of marriage. She is also a mom to three boys (ironic, no?). Her oldest will soon be 18 but still has one more year at home. Her middle son is 13 and her youngest is 10. She also stays busy by homeschooling her children and watching a two-year old (a boy of course) full-time as well as other assorted children as the need arises for family and friends. She is very active in her local and state homeschooling community. She is also a very avid reader, enjoys writing, loves dancing at Zumba class, and checking Facebook a little too often. Lisa strives daily to become more Christ-like. She is reminded often of the Lord's mercy and grace and is thankful that He is so gracious to extend to her on a much needed basis. She lives in Maine on her own piece of "no-where land" with her family.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Quiet Time for Moms

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I'm sure a few of you saw the title of this post and just groaned. Maybe you even tossed in an eye roll for good measure. I can relate. Here I am a mom in my early 40s and I still struggle with being consistent in my quiet time with the Lord. Yes, I know how important it is. Yes, I know I should do it first thing in the morning before the rest of the day gets away from me. I certainly know it's the most important thing I can do each every day. And I always seem to make time for all my other tasks each day.

But let's be honest. It's hard to get in the routine. So I'm not going to sit here and tell you all the things you should be doing. I simply want to encourage you to find a way that works best for you. 

Oftentimes as a young mom I would hear people say to get up before your children. That way you could have your quiet time when the little ones weren't being loud and vying for attention. However, if like me you are so not a morning person but birthed a child who is a morning person, you know how difficult that can be. I would have had to be up at about four in the morning in order to beat my middle son out of bed each and every day. He arrived in the world that way and at age 13, he's still the first one out of bed every morning. As a sleep deprived young mom of three active boys, there was no way I could have been up that early every day and been able to function adequately.

I remember trying one time to get up before my early bird child. I thought if I could get up around 6am, I would have time to exercise and do my quiet time before 7am. My middle kiddo was about 4 or 5 at the time. I placed a Thomas sticker on his clock on the number seven and told him that when the little hand reached that number, he could get up in the morning. 

The very next day around 6:30am I heard loud wailing coming from his bedroom which he happened to share with his two year old brother who was also now awake. The problem? "Mom, the hands are never going to get to Thomas!!" <sigh> So I understand the difficulty, ladies, I really do.

So here are some practical tips that you may find helpful.
  • Use naptime to your advantage. Yes, it's very tempting to clean the house or chill on the computer during that time, but take a few minutes and give those to the Lord first. If your children have outgrown naps, I recommend implementing a quiet time for them as well. Have them in their rooms looking at books or playing quietly on their beds. Remember, children model what they see. Make sure they have a picture Bible to look at and begin teaching them how to do their own quiet time. 
  • While mornings are best, if you are a night owl like me, you may find giving the Lord some time in the evening is what works best. Just make it consistent. I would also recommend not doing an evening quiet time while laying in bed. That always ends with me snoozing!
  • Find a Bible study to attend. I was very blessed when my boys were young to be able to participate in a wonderful mom Bible study. We took turns in the nursery watching the children so all the rest could enjoy some mom time and study time. Being accountable each week to others for having done my homework helped me to find the time each day to complete it. 
    • Mothers of Preschoolers or MOPS is a fantastic support group for moms of young ones. There is typically a book that is read and discussed each year. There is typically a nursery and MOPPETS for the children to participate in as well. I was active in my MOPS group for a few years when my youngest was small and I have some very found memories of that time and made some lasting friends as well.
    • Proverbs31 Ministries leads online an Bible study if the thought of getting out of the house with lots of little ones is daunting. In fact, their next study starts on this Monday, September 22nd. They will be going through Lysa TerKeurst's new book, The Best Yes
  • Include your children in your study. Read out loud from the Bible while you have lunch and then discuss what you just read. Do you have very young ones? Read a picture Bible and then talk with them about what you just read.
There is no right way to do a quiet time. The most important thing to remember is to make the time to just do it. Give your best to the Lord first and the rest of the day should go just a bit easier.




Lisa is a wife to Bob. They just began their 21st year of marriage. She is also a mom to three boys (ironic, no?). Her oldest will soon be 18 but still has one more year at home. Her middle son is 13 and her youngest is 10. She also stays busy by homeschooling her children and watching a two-year old (a boy of course) full-time as well as other assorted children as the need arises for family and friends. She is very active in her local and state homeschooling community. She is also a very avid reader, enjoys writing, loves dancing at Zumba class, and checking Facebook a little too often. Lisa strives daily to become more Christ-like. She is reminded often of the Lord's mercy and grace and is thankful that He is so gracious to extend to her on a much needed basis. She lives in Maine on her own piece of "no-where land" with her family.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Tot Time Fun


When I was home educating just one child, it was relatively easy to do so. I only had to focus on him and we managed to get most of our schoolwork done during his little brother's nap time. However, younger siblings tend to grow, more arrived, and then I even began to babysit for two little girls younger than mine by a couple of years.

Out of necessity I started to put together busy bags for the younger crew. These were activities that once they reached the age of about three, they could pull out to do on their own. Under the age of three, they were able to do most of the activities with direct supervision. All had an educational bent such as learning letters or numbers or working on motor skills. They also served the purpose of keeping little hands and minds occupied while I worked with the older boys. 

I had quite a stash of activities when my youngest was four and I had the extra two little girls. Miss L is pictured above. She was 18 months old and was putting blunt toothpicks into a spice container through the small holes. She loved this and it kept her occupied for quite some time as well as helped her to develop fine motor skills. 

During our school day I would rotate activities as well as "stations." Since I had two small toddlers in a small house, one would sit at the table and work on the activities while the other would play in a playpen with some toys.

My youngest at about age 3 working on his cutting skills.

All my activity bags were stored in a large basket. They were saved for school time only, but you could certainly use them whenever it best suited you. By saving them for a special time, it helped to keep interest in them high.

If you have friends with young children, one really fun thing I did was to participate in an activity bag swap. Twelve is a good number to have in such a swap. Each person picks an activity and creates 12 bags of the same activity. The host then collects all the bags from everyone and swaps it out so everyone gets back 12 different bags (their own plus 11 different ones). I did mine through the mail, but it would be even easier to put something together with a group of local friends.

Below I have listed some of my favorite resources as well as a couple new finds that look great! I am now babysitting a sweet two-year-old. Since we have just started back our school year, I need to come up with some more activities to keep him occupied during our learning time.

*None of these links are affiliate links - just provided for ease of finding info.


Lisa is a wife to Bob. They just began their 21st year of marriage. She is also a mom to three boys (ironic, no?). Her oldest will soon be 18 but still has one more year at home. Her middle son is 13 and her youngest is 10. She also stays busy by homeschooling her children and watching a two-year old (a boy of course) full-time as well as other assorted children as the need arises for family and friends. She is very active in her local and state homeschooling community. She is also a very avid reader, enjoys writing, loves dancing at Zumba class, and checking Facebook a little too often. Lisa strives daily to become more Christ-like. She is reminded often of the Lord's mercy and grace and is thankful that He is so gracious to extend to her on a much needed basis. She lives in Maine on her own piece of "no-where land" with her family.


Monday, 8 September 2014

Calm Corners of Your Home

I love my home. It's nothing special and we really stretched ourselves to buy it. We can't afford to renovate it, but are gradually picking off jobs that need doing,one by one. This process has taken 10 years,so far.
Because so much of my home is in a state of disrepair, I found that the only way to keep loving my home was to have little corners of it, which make me happy.
When I am too tired to work and need to relax,or sit and think,or just read my Bible and pray, I have a little corner or other in most rooms where I can look and see something which I think it beautiful. I think it was William Morris who said, 'Have nothing in your home which you do not believe to be beautiful or know to be useful.'
Well, the old carpet in our bedroom was neither useful nor beautiful. Ugly and worn, it was becoming a trip hazard and had to go. Now we have mats on the floor and are camping out without a bedframe until we can afford to buy a new carpet. It could take another few months.
 In the meantime, I delight in my calm, pretty corners.
When you are knee deep in nappies and toddlers, having one spot in the house which you believe to be beautiful can be really important for your peace of mind, Dear Daughter. It may be one uncluttered shelf, one picture on a painted wall, a vase of flowers on your kitchen windowsill.

Find somewhere. Make it your own. Soon, the peaceful corners could expand into whole rooms! You never know!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Recipe: Watergate Salad

Today I thought I would share a family favorite recipe that I grew up with and now we enjoy in my family. It is a simple dish that is easy to make with young children and that they enjoy. In fact, my daughter has now taken over preparing this dish any time we have a family gathering or need to take a dish to a pot luck.

Watergate Salad


1 small package of instant pistachio pudding mix
1 can (15 or 20oz) crushed pineapple, undrained
1 tub (9oz) thawed frozen whipped topping
1 cup miniature marshmallows
optional: 1/2 cup chopped nuts 
optional: 1/2 cup marachino cherries

Mix pudding with pineapple, stir in remaining ingredients. Chill until serving. 


Alex mixing the Watergate for Thanksgiving dinner.
Jen