Tuesday, October 21, 2014

draw a dinosaur

We like to draw around here. I mean really, really like to draw. We go through art supplies like most people go through bread and toilet paper. A few favorite themes are superhero comic strips, cowboys on horses, knights and dragons, Star Wars scenes, butterflies, and dinosaurs.

That's why I was excited to receive a review copy of Draw-a-saurus, by James Silvani. The minute I saw it, I knew that it would be a book that my kids would love.

The great thing about this book is that it not only provides clear, step-by-step instructions for drawing all kinds of dinosaurs in all kinds of poses, but it also provides tons of dinosaur facts and pictures that make it a fun book to just sit down and read. Which is another favorite thing to do around here.

Give us a few good books and some paper and markers and we could be happily stranded on a desert island.

Christmas is coming and this would make a great gift for the little (or big) artist in your life.

For more information, click here.

To learn more about the author, click here.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


There are days that the weight of the world threatens to crush me, to overwhelm joy with its blackness. Heartache and pain, friends with cancer, babies who die, people who make wrong choices, ebola, the implosion (both morally and politically) of the country that I love, uncertainty of what the future will hold...they become a spiraling whirlpool of negative thoughts.
 I stopped listening to the news several years ago because I felt that it did nothing to help me to focus on what is good, lovely, pure, true, honest, and of good report. I still manage to get a pretty hefty dose of current events through my facebook feed, but I even try to keep that to a minimum. I like to know enough to stay aware and not become a complete ostrich with my head in the sand, but at the same time not immerse myself in darkness that I cannot control. When I begin to feel overwhelmed, I take it as a sign that I have lost perspective. Time for a reset.
Nothing resets me, rests me and reminds me of the good and the wholesome things in life like a walk with my girls down a quiet country road. Curly ponytails, tiny mud boots, drifting autumn leaves, the incredible cloud-scudded sky overhead...I soak them all in and I remember that the One who made all of this is the One who holds me, my family, my friends, the world in the palm of His hand. He spoke it into existence and He ultimately will bring beauty out of ashes and pierce and darkness with His light. "Therefore", as Scripture says, "We do not fear".
I return home with the quiet assurance of His presence and a resolve to embrace and enjoy the good things that He has poured out on me...the man that I married who is my hero, the five little people who call me Mama, my home, fellowship with good friends, a good book and my hands wrapped around a warm coffee mug.  Does the darkness grow? Oh, you and I both know that it does. But we rest in--we cling to--His provision, His hope, His goodness, His light. In this crazy, broken, shifting world, it is the one thing that that has never changed and that never will.
We become what we dwell on. If my mind is consumed with the ugly, the bitter, the sad, the frightening, then I will be bitter, ugly, sad and frightened. But if I dwell on the good, the joyful, the true, the beautiful, the faith-filled, then I will be a beacon in that ever-growing darkness.
The choice is mine. I choose joy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


This was our first year to celebrate the Biblical feast of Sukkot. In case you aren't familiar with what this is (I wasn't, until recently!), it is an 8-day celebration during which we remember the time that the children of Israel lived in tents in the wilderness, a reminder that everything in this world is  temporary, and a looking ahead to the time when Christ will return and "tabernacle" or dwell with us here on earth. It involves staying in a "temporary" dwelling (AKA a tent), which for us was just camping in the backyard. A fire pit, hot dogs and marshmallows, glow sticks...we had a blast.
Unfortunately, a massive thunderstorm that blew the tent down, shattered the tent poles and soaked sleeping bags, air mattress and bedding cut our camping excursion short. Then we got sick. So we didn't make it for the full eight days. But this isn't about perfection, it's about making memories, focusing on the important things in life, and teaching our children...both about the past and the future.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


I'm sick, for the first time in months. It's nothing terrible, just a head cold that leaves me feeling stuffy, tired and irritable. I was supposed to go to a rodeo with my family this evening but a late, damp, chilly evening just didn't seem like a good idea, so I'm home with the littlest girl.

I can think of a million things that I should be doing. The house looks about like you would expect a house to look with five children in it on a rainy day. But tonight I choose to give myself what I need most: rest.

I drank a cup of herbal tea with honey. Played with my baby. Watched a video on healthy eating (we are getting ready to revamp our diet--stay tuned!) and worked on a menu plan for this week. Walked around outside. Sat and drank in the quiet, grey, October stillness.  I'm planning an early bedtime.

I still feel crummy, but also somehow rejuvenated.

be a yes mom

One of the best pieces of parenting advice that I received right after I had my first baby was to be a yes mom. What this means is that when my kids ask to do or have something, unless I have a good, concrete reason, to say no, I should say yes.

It’s amazing how hard this is. My automatic response is almost always no.

“Can I paint a picture?” No.

“Can we make popcorn and watch a movie?” No.

“Can we go for a walk?” No.

“Can I wear this pink flowered shirt with these blue and green striped leggings and mud boots?” No.

I don’t mean to suggest that we should never tell our kids no. There are plenty of things that they might want to do that are not a good idea, or at least are not a good idea at the time. I am not going to buy a twenty dollar movie every time I go to the grocery store, neither am I going to let them eat ice cream thirty minutes before supper (at least not on a regular basis). There are times that they want me to play a game or go for a walk and I am simply too tired, or I have too much to do, or I just don’t feel like twister or candy land.

But I try to say yes more than I say no. I try to stop and ask myself, what would it really hurt for them to paint right now? Is it just because the mess would be inconvenient for me? Why don’t I want to go for a walk? Is it because I would rather waste time online? What would it hurt for them to wear an outrageously colored outfit? We’re going to be home all day and it’s a mix-mash of their favorite clothing items.

Most of the time, I say no to their requests because I just don’t want to deal with whatever they want to do. It’s too messy, too time-consuming, it requires my time and attention when I would rather be doing something else or feel like I’m too busy to give it to them. Sometimes I say no and I can’t even give a reason for saying it—it’s just what comes out of my mouth.  And most of the time, when I say yes, I am so glad that I did.

These days, these crazy, exhausting, beautiful days fly by so quickly. Already my ten-year-old is showing signs of maturity, is pulling away from me a little as he grows up. I find myself taking pictures almost frantically, trying to capture and preserve this outfit, this expression, this funny pose, this moment on the swing set, this day of perfect play. I don't want to say no to one beautiful moment.

Yes, let's make a memory today.

Monday, October 6, 2014

waldorf doll

Several years ago, I made my first and only Waldorf doll. I used this tutorial and it was so much fun, but a lot of work and not something that I have had the courage to attempt again! Anwyn played with it a little, but she doesn't spend a lot of time with dolls so I finally put it away and planned to pull it out when she got a little older and might enjoy it more.
Not long ago, I was going through some things in my cedar chest and Beatrice spotted the doll. There followed twenty minutes of hugs, pats and snuggles. I think that this baby has finally found her mama.
On a side note, Beatrice is a little rough with things and the baby is already showing some signs of wear and tear, but I am a firm believer in the fact that things are made and meant to be used and loved. A beautiful quilt, handmade clothes, knitted baby blankets...they do no good if they are kept hidden away in a closet so that they won't get messed up. We drag them out and use them on a daily basis. And if they wear out...well, then we have the fun of making more! It's a win-win situation!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

a letter to my children

I don't know where life will take you.

I don't know where you will live or who you will marry or how many children you will have. I don't know yet if you will be tall or short, if you will wear glasses, if you will love to ride horses or play the violin. I don't know if you will live in the city or the country, who your best friend will be, what church you will attend. I don't know if you will feel more at home in cowboy boots or a freshly ironed shirt and a tie, if you will want to hunt and fish or frequent art galleries and symphonies.

All parents have dreams for their children, but I recognize that each one of you is an individual and that my dreams may not be yours. I will not try to craft you into my picture of what you will look like as an adult.

But this one thing I unashamedly want and pray for you: that you love God with your whole hearts and walk in obedience to Him as a result of that love.

When your heart is fixed on the Father, everything else will fall into place. You will be men and women of character. You will tell the truth always. You will value His Word above all else. You will love and respect your spouse. You will disciple your children. You will love your neighbor and you will impact your world.

Money is fine, but I am not really concerned with whether or not you will have a lot of it. Education is important, but I will not be one bit more proud of you if you graduate from college than if you are a farmer or a mechanic or a stay-at-home-mom.
It's your heart that matters. Love Him. Pursue Him. Honor Him. Follow that path of blessing and it will be well with you, regardless of what may come.