Archives For parenting

Little Budding Artist

Little Budding Artist

Looking for a fun and educational gift for a child?

As a homeschool mom, I’m always on the lookout for items that can be used time and time again, in new and creative ways, and this writing, drawing and playing easel from Step 2 is perfect!

The vertical easel is technically for kids 3 and up (because of some of the small pieces made to place on the boards) But, this little handsome guy keeps wanting to play with it and draw!

Now, with the two sides, a big and little brother can both have a “piece” of Easel. There is a chalk board on one side and a magnetized dry erase board on the other side. When we put it together, it did take a strong shove to get all the pieces aligned, but once in place, it felt very sturdy. The Easel is simple to clean, with smooth plastic and storage bins that come off to clean as well. It is lightweight and can be moved from one room to another for use easily.

A nice addition to a  childs room or toyroom.

Take a look at the All Around Easel for Two on

Now, what is new out there for Moms AND kids that is fun?

My teenager puts it together for me!

My teenager puts it together for me!

Check out this Canopy Cruise Wagon! The adorable two-seater wagon is a wonderful item to make mom’s life easier, while allowing the kids to have a good time.

step2 wagon drink holders

I really like this lightweight yet sturdy wagon. The wagon has space for two children to be safely buckled in and shaded from the sun while going for a ride. I wish I had one of these when my daughter was younger! My daughter loved the little built in cupholders for little ones drinks and storage for snacks.

Emma checks the wagon out

Emma checks the wagon out for her younger cousins!

Yes, at age 7 1/2, Em is too big for this wagon! I let her sit in it though, to show how sturdy this wagon is! I think this would be a good wagon for a, say 1 1/2 year old to a 6 year old. The wagon was not hard to put together, with very few pieces and the canopy portion comes off for storage. The wagon handle also folds down under the wagon for easier storage and taking in the car.

I think this would be a nice way to take the kids to the beach, the playground…just makes it a little more fun when you have more than one child. Using this, they won’t feel “stuck” in a stroller, but more like they are on a grand adventure!

Check out the Canopy Cruise Wagon from


*I am a Step2 Review Mom and I did receive the above products for review. I received no additional compensation and I have given my opinion.

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The Pelser's Shepherding Book Club

I have been reading Ted Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart. This is the second edition, 2005 version. The original was published in 1995. Right off the bat, Tripp talks about what he has seen and experienced in the years since the first edition…things that only make him feel more strongly that a biblical approach to child rearing is totally necessary for families today.

He points out: “God is concerned with the heart—the well-springs of life. Parents tend to focus on the externals of behavior rather than the internal overflow of the heart, we tend to worry more about the “what” of behavior than the “why.” (xi)

His theme is that when we miss the why…and focus on what, we miss the opportunity to teach our children to understand their own hearts…to see that “straying behavior develops a straying heart.” (xi)

From what I see so far, this is not an easy book. Tripp asks parents to delve deep into their Christian beliefs and act on biblical principles whether that is comfortable or not.

I really hope that Tripp’s book will offer the practical helps that are hinted at in the introduction.

One thing that I see very early in the book, (chapter 1) is that I will need to truly establish my thoughts on authority in order to listen to the author. I have no issue with honoring Biblical precepts overall, but authority has always been a kind of grey area for me.

Ask my Mom, I was born a bit rebellious. I still, deep down, think often I know better than some authorities…and so, you can see, I have some issues with this. Tripp mentions authority from the get go in chapter one. He asks us to consider how in the 60’s culture, people broke away from established authority roles. How this continues in out day. I like how he discusses that the past wasn’t perfect either, and authority can be used incorrectly. He points us to Jesus as an authority figure. A figure that shepherds.

I like how up front Tripp is with his answers to questions. For example, he wrote this “People frequently ask if I expected my children to become believers. I usually reply that the gospel is powerful and attractive. It uniquely meets the needs of fallen humanity. Therefore, I expected that God’s Word would be the power of God to salvation for my children. But that expectation was based on the power of the gospel and its suitability to human need, not on a correct formula for producing children who believe.”(xxi)

From this quote I realize this book follows a path…maybe a process whereby parents can show their children the how and why of the gospel, and how it functions in society…even in family.

Because parenting is not about ruling, or hiding…but raising and shepherding.

I will talk about chapter 1 later as this is so long! Want to join in this book club and chat about the book?

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I am joining another book club! I love these. Today is the kick off for reading and sharing.

We read and chat about the chapters on facebook or by blog post. No worries, no pressure.

Amanda, of The Pelser’s A Shelter for the Heart, is hosting this and she has all kinds of information in the Shepherding a Child’s Heart Book Club announcement post.

Go check it out. I would love to see some old friends participate with me, hint, hint!

How To Have a HEART for Your Kids

This week in the How To Have a Heart For Your Kids Book Club, Chapter 2: Enrich Your Marriage

Yes. I meant 30.3444 or maybe 29? All I know is when I hear people talking about being a Proverbs 31 wife, I always think about how marvelous that would be, and how hard it is to really attain that.

It is interesting to me that in this book club, about how to have a heart for your kids, the author gets right down to business with what can really make or break a family. The first chapter is to put God first. And, next, your marriage. How do you protect your marriage? How do you get a great marriage? Well, I agree with the author that honoring your husband, serving him, and treating him like your best friend and ally, not just a work partner, is a good way to go.

Easier said than done! I think the sweeter your husband is, the easier it is maybe to take him for granted. I say that because my husband is very sweet and sometimes I take him for granted. Around here, I spend a lot of time with the few children who make the most noise. Anyone else have this dynamic?

And, when I am not being mommy, and not exhausted, I tend to try to find ways to be me. Maybe do something creative, or blog or even clean. Something not kid related. I don’t immediately go try to do for my husband.

This is funny to me, because when I was younger, I was a single, working mom of two boys. I always though once I had a good husband life would be so much easier…so magical. I saw married women treating their husbands poorly or ignoring them and I thought they were foolish. I would never be like that! Haha. Fast forward 10 years and I see that I am taking my husband for granted sometimes. But, there are only so many hours in the day.

  • So, how do you decide how to use your hours? Should I write a blog post, or sit and watch a football game with my husband?
  • Should I go get a new shirt I kind of need…or stay home and complete a project that I have been whining about?
  • Should I put a ton of effort into getting the children to bed so I can pay attention to some story from my husband’s day?

Well, when you really think about it, yes, yes and yes.

I should make my husband my number one priority. Still, I squirm about that, I mean, he’s not complaining and I have loads of things I want to do to make my life, my home nice. Right?

And, on top of all that, there’s the question of who is really the leader. I married a laid back guy who takes his time making decisions, and wouldn’t force anyone to follow anyway. I, on the other hand, love the idea of being the leader. I move fast! I have ideas! I get people on the boat and moving…sometimes, in spite of how anyone feels.

So which is right? Well, neither in every situation, which is probably why God has opposites attracting so often! But, if I truly believe the Bible and trust God, then I know that I am supposed to let my husband lead.

And that will make my home nice.

I know that, because when I am not stubborn and do that, it always end up lovely. No joke. Still hard to do!

So, how can I take this idea of serving my husband and make it real for him this week?

  • Well, I can try to not be stubborn when I think I am right about something this week
  • I can offer to do something for him ~ and mean it.
  • I can pray that God will help me to be the Proverbs 31 woman of our dreams. Because only God can do that.

*this post is loosely based on chapter 2. Really, get this book!

Would you like to join in? Visit for all the details!

Reward Earned!

Over the years, I have tried loads of charts and graphs and reward systems as I raised my kids. Some worked great, some not so well. As most of my children are now teens, the charts are fewer!

Still, I have a six year old, and as much as she mimics her brothers and sisters, she still deserves some focus, some help with goals and chore charts…instead of her mother just fussing at her.

So, turns out, we both love this new site that offers free chore chart systems for kids and teens, called

The site loads quickly and has bright and colorful chart graphics and loads of options for things to include in your charts. The options for little ones use pictures and words for chores, so even non-verbal young children can see what they need to do. Setup is so simple and they have over 50 templates to make your chart pretty. For example, Emma was much more excited to do her chore chart when it was designed all in hot pink, with a girl with a guitar. Haha!

We are able to print out a sheet for Em, but also, I let her login on the iPad and click on each of her completed goals. She loves doing that.  I would love a little app for this too!

Anyway, has free charts for tweens, teens and adults as well. I made a chart for Nick and a goal setting chart for myself. There are good instructions on how to use everything, complete with video instructions if you need.

You can use the site free, and I have three charts on there currently. You can set up your charts to share with friends, which might in itself be a nice incentive, to say, add grandparents to see progress. Older kids could share with friends. I always do better with my goals once I tell the world about them!

So besides for maintaining Mom’s sanity, why else should you use a chore chart? goalforit points out a few reasons below:

  • “Responsibility; A Chore Chart is an ideal way to help your kids feel like they are making a contribution to their family by doing their part around the house.
  • Understanding right from wrong; Setting behavior goals is an important way to help children strengthen their character and judgment.
  • Healthy Habits; Teaching good habits involving nutrition and physical activity are the cornerstone of prevent obesity in children and adolescents.
  • Money Matters; The optional point system teaches children three important lessons for managing money; earning, spending and saving.”

So far, the kids like this and I really needed a boost to get the household more under control for this new year. I am excited to use these to be more consistent. As a mom, I know the consistency is so important. makes it easy for me to be more consistent. If you like they will even send email reminders and parenting and goal setting tips.

Seriously, go check this site out and have a plan for the New Year!

The kids!

The kids!

With four children over the age of 15 around here, my husband and I find ourselves having loads of talks about lots of issues.

Often we are addressing the little day to day issues that are important to our kids. Like, they need jeans, or a ride, or a better phone plan…

Sometimes, we spend time talking about more important issues like dating, future plans, and our faith. I am the worst for talking about deep subjects while driving. The kids joke they’d much rather ride with Dad for fewer lectures…but that Mom is on time!

Anyway, I think as parents my husband and I do a pretty decent job talking openly about anything with our kids. I do think I did a crummier job with my oldest, as far as paying attention to the things that were important to him.

Now, I’m on my fourth 15 year old, Haha. So, it gets easier to keep track of what’s up!

I really enjoy talking to the kids about things on my mind, like should they wear this or play that or wear contacts, etc, so I was surprised to see the results of a survey from the Bausch + Lomb “Daily Talk Program” that showed that:

“ moms felt least prepared to talk to their children about makeup (33%) or to talk with a child who wants to forego glasses for contact lenses (21%).”

I wonder why some parents may not feel prepared talking about things like makeup and contacts. With my kids, this was easy because I wear contacts, so I know a lot about them. I suppose that helps.

All my boys wear contacts and it was an easy transition for them to move from glasses to contacts. Now, they tend to wear both. This year, though, I mentioned contacts to my daughter, as she is doing cheerleading. She was perfectly happy with her glasses, but I was worried she could get hurt while doing her sports, so we talked about trying contacts.

I feel that kids will be ready to try out contacts at all different ages. For a few of my kids, I felt they were ready to be careful with using contacts and taking care of them at early “tween” ages, while I made one kids wait and prove to me they were ready to be responsible for the contacts (and their eyes).

For my daughter, playing a lot of sports, contacts just make sense. I also think sometimes, contacts can improve kids self-esteem. I think all my kids look good in either glasses or contacts. But, if a kid needs a boost in self-esteem, I don’t see any reason to not try out contacts.

Now, I had already considered contacts for my daughter when I read that Bausch and Lomb had a new type—the daily disposables. I agreed to try them out with my daughter as I think that is a nice happy medium for a tween or younger teen. With the dailies, you do not have to worry so much, whether or not kids are being responsible with the contact solution and such.

I will note, I have always checked with our optometrist to see if contacts are a good fit for my children.

You can see the Soflens daily disposables site and learn more about contacts for your kids here:

“I wrote this review while participating in a Test Drive by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Bausch + Lomb and received Soflens daily disposables to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

My Dark Places

Heather —  February 16, 2011

I often seem to find myself in the exact same position each mid-February: frustrated by a lack of energy and an unorganized household.

As I have gotten older, this situation upsets me less, because I understand that to some extent, this is just me!

Seriously, I know I could DO more on many fronts and I wish to. But, in general, I am still feeding and teaching my family—my main “jobs”. I believe God has also led me in understanding that I although I am far from perfect I can face this season with less anxiety —because I know that I especially battle depression and perfectionism during the months of January and February.

So why is this season so hard for me?

  • Well, I am affected by the lack of sunlight and outdoor time in these months.
  • I also get very excited and full of plans during November and December—then I miss the family visitors and visiting that December often brings because we live far away from both our extended family.
  • We have a bunch of birthdays and little holidays like Valentine’s, that I am never doing quite “good enough” for my taste
  • As far as homeschooling, early February makes me nervous! For, I either see that I think things are coming along well, or I realize we are progressing too slowly and need to get it together to be “ready” for Summer. As I homeschool two and two go to public schools, I really do need to keep to a school schedule, I think…
  • And, then my homemaking suffers because I am sun deprived, tired, missing my family and trying to reschedule our homeschooling…so we are achievers!

Yes. It’s a mess, people. I hide it decently well, but my family knows. My mother jokes that she knows something is wrong if she doesn’t hear from me.

And that’s true. The worse my life seems to spin out of control, the more I distance myself from others, hide in my introvert shell.

And, so far, each year, where has this brought me?

Well, to my knees, really.

Back to fighting the urge to turn on the computer before doing my morning devotions. Back to doing morning devotions at all.

You would think I would have learned I need to be in this place all along. But so far, each year I’ve needed this reminder

—this place where I ask God each morning what needs to be done, and to plead with him to help me see what these needs are, rather than just seeing the dirty dishes and the lesson plans I want to do. The schedule I want to keep. All the things I think are so important all the things that SHOW I am accomplishing something—the clean mirrors shine for at least a day, yes?

And, I think my husband will be so pleased with the tidy house and homemade dinner…but I neglect to not be exhausted when he actually gets home. Even though he asked me to rest. Even though I know they will all love me even if they get spaghetti—they may not be as pleased, but it will be okay.

So, the main thing I do during these times is to beg God to care for my family and help me to focus. I find it absolutely amusing that God sends help in so many ways. I will see a post from a friend who has discovered the secrets of Vitamin D3, I see a housekeeping schedule list that I can use, I unpack a year old box from when we moved and my old managers of their homes scheduling book falls out…

I learn to like green tea instead of my strong coffee. I rejoice that I am already eating organics–that is helping some, I believe). I find my multivitamin. I learn to listen to my seasons. I learn to do it just a bit better than last February. I hope.

And I wait for Spring.

Lately, the evenings have been longer and the sun seems to sparkle brighter! Spring is around the corner…and not a minute too soon!

Although I like to say “I am not your activities director,” the truth is that during the cold, drab days of winter my children depend on me to encourage them use their imaginations. Little ones do need to know that the warm sun and gorgeous flowers of Spring are coming!

One thing my girls have always loved is playing picnic. In the Spring and Summer it is an uninhibited game played all over the yard with bits of flowers and juice as the main meal.

Today, we must create our warmth in the house…for hand-drawn flowers and berries and little treats are just a taste of things to come!

So, today, I asked my youngest to play Spring with me. She agreed that her dolls were in need of a picnic. So, I had a bit of quiet as she “set” everything up. Then, I pulled out some yogurt, blueberries, Cheerios, whipped cream, some small cookies and sprinkles!

What an easy game for mom~I relax while my daughter gets to show off how she can cook! At five, she has no trouble coming up with a yummy handcrafted Blueberry Cheerio Parfait and some Cream Pies (just little cookies with a bit of whipped cream on top)

The best part? She is so proud of herself and full of lovely thoughts of Spring and picnics. She offered to make more for dinner!

Sometimes the nicest things are the simplest!

For more Springtime inspiration, visit the Cheerios Facebook page to read posts from other Cheerios Blogger Circle Moms!
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