10 Fun & Frugal Spring Activities

10 Fun & Frugal Spring ActivitiesThe weather is starting to warm up. It’s beautiful outside. Our kids are clamoring for an adventure so mom is scrambling to find something, anything, we can do which will equal fun without breaking the bank. Together, we’ve created a list of ten fun and frugal activities we plan to enjoy this spring.

I suppose before we talk about fun and frugal ways to enjoy the spring season, we should define exactly what we mean by frugal. Budgets being different in each household, we might have varying ideas on just how frugal, frugal is. For the purpose of our discussion today, frugal is as close to free as possible. The maximum being $20 for the entire family to enjoy this activity together. Can we do it, especially with six people in our home? Oh, yes; yes, we can!

10 Fun & Frugal Spring Activities

  1. Make Ice Cream – This is a fun, easy, inexpensive activity for us to enjoy. No ice cream maker needed. Just a few ingredients, a bowl or two, and a freezer. If we need a recipe? Pinterest has all the ideas we could ever want.
  2. Go Camping – Not the leave home, pack an entire truck full of supplies, kind of camping. Let’s camp in the backyard! All we need are sleeping bags, flashlights, and maybe a book or two to keep us company all night. The best part? Close morning showers and private restrooms.
  3. Take a Nature Hike – Most local hiking trails are free! With a sturdy pair of shoes, several bottles of water, and trail mix to keep us going, this should be fun. If we can find a trail with a stream; even better.
  4. Have a Picnic – This is not merely eating out-of-doors. Our plans are to pack a pretty basket full of lovely things (fresh fruits, croissants or rolls, tea sandwiches, cucumber, and more), visit a local grassy field, and enjoy a leisurely picnic. If we happen to bring along our current read or a guitar to pass the time, so much the lovelier.
  5. Host a Movie Night – Prices at the local theatre can be out of this world. Instead, we will host a movie night in our living room. Let us not forget the sugary snacks, cola, and buttered popcorn. For added memories, we’ve even gone so far as to print ‘tickets’ for our film.
  6. Go Fly a Kite – For that matter, we’ll build a kite! This project is not only educational, but tons of fun. This is the perfect season to explore this adventure.
  7. Build a Bird House – Inexpensive kits can be purchased at a local hardware store, but it’s more fun to build our own. Painted in bright, fun colors, these are great additions to our backyard.
  8. Blow Bubbles – The science behind bubble making is fascinating. Let’s see how big we can make our bubbles, and if we can get bubbles to land on our hands without breaking.
  9. Chalk Art – Before the pavement becomes so hot you can cook an egg on it, we’ll explore this creative medium. We’ve seen so many lovely examples of possibilities. This should be fun!
  10. Farm Visits – Where we live, local farms love having families come visit. For a nominal fee, we can even pick our own fruit.

Having fun doesn’t mean we need to spend tons of cash. It only takes a little creativity and a sense of adventure. What’s important is not how much money we spend, but how much time we are investing in our children.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
~ Matthew 6:19-21

Time to Chime In! : What budget-friendly ways do you spend time with your family and friends? Share your top five with us!

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So You Think I’m Wrong? (Personal Advice on Offering Objections)

So You Think I'm Wrong? (Personal Advice on Offering Objections)What should be our inspiration for offering correction when we see someone stepping out of line? A heart to see them right with God. A desire for righteousness. If you think our family is making a wrong move, here’s some personal advice on how to offer your objections to our family’s life choices. Hint: It doesn’t involve yelling!

Before overwhelming us with a verbal attack, here are a few solid tips on how to approach us when you think we might be stepping out of line:

Pray for Us – Before approaching us, ask yourself this question, “Is this Biblical wisdom or just your humble opinion?” If the Lord is prompting you to speak to us, kindly pray about not only what you’re going to say, but how to say it. Pray for us as well, that we would receive your helpful advice as it was intended. We, too, want this discussion to go well. It starts with humility and a desire to seek the Lord in all things.

Speak With Us – Please read that again, carefully. Don’t yell at us. Don’t talk at us. Don’t talk over us. And don’t talk about us to other people. We would love to work this out and resolve the issue, but we can’t do that if we don’t speak. Nicely.

Ask Questions – Odds are you have some questions, and we’d love to answer them for you. We understand not everyone is going to agree with our choices and you may want clarity on why we’ve gone in this direction. Just ask, we love sharing why we do what we do!

Show Respect – While we appreciate your good intentions towards our family, these children are our responsibility. You don’t have to agree with our choices, but you ought to respect them. Mocking us, muttering complaints under your breath, and posting on social media is not the answer.

Believe it or not, we appreciate your advice and questions. Our goal is to constantly grow and increase in wisdom. Maybe the Lord wants to use you, and your words are His tool. However, please consider we might already be following God’s plan and doing our best to be faithful. We don’t make our choices lightly or without care. Believe it or not, a great deal of thought, time, energy, and research goes into what we do and how we do it. It might look a little odd to you, but this is a grand adventure and we take it very seriously.  

May we be inspired to not only give instruction with gentleness, but receive instruction in humility; may we direct people towards Christ and His desires, not our own personal opinions and ideals; and may we be granted strength to stand against those who violently oppose.

(Please note: We are not discussing issues of abuse today. Such difficult situations would call for immediate action, not debate. Instead, we’re referring to differences in parenting decisions such as education, discipline, health choices, and the like.)

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

Your Turn!: How do you handle unsolicited advice?

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Show Me a Story

“As America’s industrial might grew, so did the conviction that the time had come for American illustrators to rise to the challenge of matching, or even surpassing, the high standard set by artists from across the Atlantic.”
~ Show Me a Story

Show_Me_Book_ReviewBeing married to an illustrator, I have the unique privilege of seeing behind the scenes. The difficult clients, the multitude of changes a project can go through, and the reward of a job well done never cease to amaze. I am very proud of my man and love sharing in his world. So when I spotted this book at our local library, into my basket it went.

Show Me a Story is a set of compelling interviews by the acclaimed Leonard S. Marcus. Twenty-one top authors and illustrators reveal their inside stories on the art of creating picture books. Max and Mickey; Miss Nelson; Pack, Quack, and Mrs. Mallard; Pigeon; Sylvester; John Henry; and a very hungry caterpillar – these are just a few of the beloved picture book characters discussed. We read about each artist’s childhood, their inspiration, their determination, their mentors, their creative choices, and more.

While this entire book is well worth reading, I especially enjoyed reading about each author/illustrator’s childhood. I wanted to learn about the creative and learning environment each artist experienced as a child. I also appreciated reading what inspired each artist. As a parent, perhaps there was something I could learn.

Many of the artists I had heard of previously and read many of their books. However, there were a few which were new to me. It was a pleasure to discover new works of literature to share with my children.

I will say I would like to see a sequel to this book; perhaps a series. There were many illustrators I was surprised were not included in this volume; artists such as William Joyce, Scott Gustafson, Tony DiTerlizzi, Brian Lies, and more. It would be great to hear from them as well.

This was a great book. I look forward to reading more works by Leonard Marcus in the near future. Learning and exploring the world of illustrators is a joy.

📢 Chime In!: Does your family have a favorite illustrator?

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Aromatherapy Sewing Fun!

Lavender-Aromatherapy_pillowI would really enjoy an electric blanket. Truly. However, we don’t own them. The idea of sleeping next to an electrical current doesn’t sit well with us. Instead, we use aromatherapy pillows!

In the past, I’ve purchased my pillows, paying quite a tidy little sum for these bundles of sweet-smelling warmth. When my children decided they wanted them too, we figured it was high time we learned to make our own.

Flaxseed and Lavender Neck Pillows

Directions – 

  • Choose your fabric. Something heavy but not too stiff, like brushed canvas or cotton ticking, works well.
  • Decide what size you’d like your finished pillow to be. Customize it to suit your needs, but a rectangle about 6 inches by 18 inches is a good place to start. (This is long enough to drape around your neck.)
  • Cut your fabric. You can cut two pieces of cloth, adding about half an inch for a seam allowance all around. Or you can cut one piece of cloth that’s twice the width you want the finished pillow to be plus half an inch seam allowance on each side. (In this case you’ll fold the fabric in half lengthwise and sew three rather than four ends closed.)
  • Place right sides of the fabric together and sew, using a half-inch seam allowance on each side. Leave one short side open for filling.
  • Turn your pillow right side out.
  • Fill your pillow about two-thirds to three-fourths full of flax-seed. Add about 1/4 cup of dried lavender flowers. Don’t overdo the flowers, because the scent will become stronger when heated. And don’t overfill the pillow or the seeds won’t be able to move around and the pillow won’t drape comfortably.
  • Sew the last end closed. (You can fold the ends in and sew by hand or by machine.)

Use – 

To use your pillow, warm it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Shake and warm for another 30 to 60 seconds, until the desired warmth. Note: Be careful not to overheat the pillow! It can get hot enough to burn you or even start a fire! For further options, take a look at THIS website. In addition to the instructions found above, you’ll find helpful ideas on how to customize your pillows.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 5.38.35 PM

In our home, we use these pillows as bed warmers. Even in California the nights can get pretty cold. A heavenly smelling, warm pillow is just the thing to help the kids fall asleep. And when mommy feels a little sore at the end of a hard day of yard work, these little pillows are wonderful on aching muscles.

Sewing is fun. Sewing with my kids is even better. Know what’s best? Finding projects which not only save us money, but serve an everyday purpose. This project was an answer to all three!

“Mint and lavender, and all herbs aromatic;”
Song of Solomon 4:14

🔔Time to Chime In: Which herb would you include in your aromatherapy bag and why?

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Curriculum 101: Foreign Language

Curriculum101One of the biggest struggles homeschooling families battle is which curriculum is best for their children. We become overwhelmed by the amount of curriculum available, struggle to find the right fit for each of our children, proceed to doubt each choice made for at least the first several weeks, and continue to search for new ways of teaching well after we’ve already begun our year.

To this end, we thought we’d spend the month of September launching discussions on all things curriculum.


You’d think, after taking Spanish for three years in high school, I’d be fairly fluent in the language. Unfortunately, it didn’t take. I learned only enough to pass my classes and scoot out the door with college prep knocked off my to-do list. Ask me something now, anything, and I’m pretty sure my eyes would cross and my head would start to hurt.

Okay, that might be a slight over exaggeration. I do, in fact, understand a decent amount of Spanish. My problem is being comfortable enough to speak it. Conjugating those pesky verbs still gives me the shivers.

If there is one thing I did learn from all those years of lessons, it’s that I don’t want the same for my kids. I don’t want them to understand just a little Spanish, I want them to be fluent.

We’re taking steps to ensure our children master their language of choice, giving them plenty of opportunity for practice. But, we’d love to hear how you tackle the art of foreign language:

  • Are your children currently taking a foreign language course?
  • Are you teaching foreign language, using a curriculum, or sending your child to a tutor?
  • Which languages are your children learning?
  • Is the language your children learning one you already speak?
  • If they aren’t learning a language already spoken by someone in your family, how do you ensure your child becomes fully immersed in the language and culture of choice?
  • Are your children permitted to learn more than one language?
  • If so, are they permitted to learn them side-by-side, or must they learn consecutively?
  • At what age would you recommend children start learning a second language?
  • Do you have a favorite language program you’d recommend?
  • Do you enjoy learning languages? How many can you speak?

I love languages. I’ve always wished I could speak Italian. Perhaps it’s time Mommy went back to school and did a little learning along with my kiddos. It might behoove me to brush up on my Spanish skills, finally learning the fine art of conjugation. (They’re only verbs after all. Nothing to be scared of, right? Right!?)

🔔Now, it’s your turn!! Share your thoughts on the above questions and let us hear from you. We’d love your feedback and appreciate those links you’ve been sharing!

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What New Thing Did You Learn Today?

Originally posted in February of 2013, I find it pertinent to remind myself from time to time of why we are doing what we are doing. This particular post keeps popping into my head lately, reminding me to not lose focus. Sometimes I forget these little nuggets I want to implement, but often put to the side. It’s time to renew this concept and start asking…


The Kiddos and Tia NeneDuring a recent visit, my sister-in-law asked the kiddos an important question; one that sparked something in the forefront of my brain… “What new thing did you learn today?” She explained, if I remember correctly, that she knew of a family in which this question was asked daily. When the father joined them for dinner each evening, they were asked to share one new thing they had learned during the day. Not only did this encourage open conversation, but inspired the children to actively find something about which to communicate. If the children hadn’t learned anything of note in their formal studies, they energetically set about searching for one! This question is one I truly appreciate and believe, from this point forward, will continue to be implemented in our daily living. To encourage our children, I believe we adults should also participate! Learning something new everyday should not be relegated to only the young; we too ought to continually be seeking to expand our minds and add those precious “wrinkles” on our brains. Whether it is menial or monumental, adding knowledge and wisdom to our lives is never a waste. Time to Chime In: What new thing did you learn today?

A City Broken

Wall by oceanThe Bible teaches us that a man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls (Proverbs 25:28). We are open, exposed, and basically waiting to be attacked. Our defenses are down, available to an enemy who seeks to plunder.

One advantage to homeschooling is that as we train our children academically, we are also training them in character. We are helping form the adults they will one day become. Training their character is just as important as training their minds; in fact, they go hand in hand.

So what do we do when our children are defenseless and vulnerable? How do we help them rebuild their fortress, securing themselves from the inevitable attack of the world and its influence?

Just like building a city, we build their character one brick at a time. We need to help them form their foundation, build their walls, and place guards to keep watch.

Forming the Foundation. In I Corinthians 3:11 we are told, “For no one can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ”. The foundation of all that we do, should be Christ. Our children should be steeped in the Word; knowing not only what they believe, but why they believe it. This will help them better understand why they need to have self-control.

Build the Walls.  In order to gain self-control, our children need to be given the proper tools; they need instruction and a lot of encouragement. There are some great steps that we can take to help them along the way.

  • Lead by example – You need to have self-control before you can teach your children.
  • Teach them to recognize – Children need to be able to identify when something is becoming a problem, long before it actually is a problem. Recognize the warning signs and instruct them how to avoid trouble.
  • Teach them to pray – The first, and best thing, to do when control starts to become an issue, is to pray! Let the Lord have control of the situation, not your emotions.
  • Teach them scripture – Meditating on the Word of God is a great way to help them be filled with the Holy Spirit and not hurtful emotion.
  • Teach them to think – Show the kids how to work through the emotion and be logical. Whether it’s taking a walk, doing some deep breathing, or distracting yourself with another activity, we need to take a minute to reasonably work through the situation.
  • Teach them to act – Identifying the problem is only half the battle, we now need to resolve the issue. Form a “game plan” and then make it happen.

Place guards to watch. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it,” Proverbs 4:23. Let forgiveness and righteousness be your armor; allowing nothing evil to enter in and being quick to overlook the fault in others.

Whether you are doing arithmetic, piano, or taking that fun field trip; self-control is a vital lesson being learned. With grace and a lot of encouragement, our children will learn to use temperance in their daily lives, growing into the people they were called to be.

Let the Lord build and guard your children; with Him, you can’t go wrong. “…Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)

Time to Chime In: How do you instill self-control in your children? Is there a practical way that you safeguard them from emotional outbursts?


Perfection is the Goal

per·fec·tion·ist  /pərˈfekSH(ə)nəst/
  1. a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection.
    “he was a perfectionist who worked slowly”
    synonyms: purist, stickler for perfection, idealist;

    “the just-so placement of every little figurine and throw pillow immediately gave him away as a perfectionist”

I admit it; I’m a perfectionist. I like to get things right and won’t stop until it’s just so. I like order, neatness, and cleanliness (it’s next to Godliness, right?- just kidding!). When you think about it, though; what is the alternative? If we aren’t aiming for perfection, what are we aiming for?

I always find it odd that people look down on perfectionism as if it’s evil. Being a perfectionist is associated with being overbearing, always anxious, and stressed at the slightest ball of lint being on a piece of furniture. Perfectionists always have things together (at least that is what we are told) and fall to pieces when even the smallest item is out-of-order.

What if we are looking at perfectionism all wrong? Maybe we ought to applaud those who seek to get things right. Instead of berating others for being ‘perfect’ maybe we should celebrate their effort. Look at the alternative…

Instead of seeking perfection, we have people who eagerly look to be bad. There are those more than willing to fulfill the ‘bad boy’ role and find new ways to get themselves into trouble. Instead of perfection, we have people who are content with being mediocre. Some are willing to simply skate by in life; they have no high aspirations outside of themselves and are okay with barely making it.

As Christians, our goal is to be like Christ. Christ was perfect. So, in essence, if we are trying to be like Christ, aren’t we trying for perfection? I think so.

Honestly, I don’t think the problem lies in trying to be perfect. No, the problem is in how this manifests itself. Perfection is a goal we should attempt, with the understanding that we’ll never actually reach it this side of heaven. Attempting perfection only becomes a problem when we allow it to overwhelm us and take over our lives. Instead of seeing perfection as our end goal, we panic over the fact that we haven’t reached it today. We need to keep the target in mind and simply take one day at a time; getting better with each passing moment.

As homeschoolers, we can be tempted to see perfection as a poison in our homes. Who needs the pressure of finding the perfect curriculum or the perfect routine? But, this isn’t what is meant by being perfect. Being perfect is who we are as people, not which day-to-day routines we follow through with. It is our character which we are seeking to perfect; not our chores.

As parents, this too can be overwhelming. Are we perfect parents; are we training our children to be perfect adults? Again, I think we are looking at this wrong. We are going to make mistakes, we are going to fail at times; this doesn’t mean we should not try to constantly do better, hoping to one day conquer a particular area of our life and move onto yet another area which needs work.

Perfection is simple; it’s choosing to not accept less than what is perfect. Not the perfect house, not the perfect outfit, but perfect character. So, yes; I am a perfectionist. But is this really a bad thing?

Time to Chime In: Do you think perfection can be reached this side of heaven?

Customized Parenting in a Trending World

“Conventional wisdom is any generally accepted set of beliefs and practices. Its conclusions aren’t necessarily followed because of their proven effectiveness, but simply because they are poplar.”

-Richard Blackaby

Book-Review_logoIf you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you will by now have realized that we are not what you would call trendy parents. Aside from our weekly ‘Pump Day’ posts, some might assume our ideals come from an entirely different era.

I believe we all need to evaluate our parenting and decide if we are following trends because they are truly what is good for our family or simply because that is what everyone else is doing.

Customized Parenting in a Trending World by Richard and Carrie Blackaby might be just the place to start our journey of discovery. This father/daughter duo writes with such heartfelt conviction and encouragement, one cannot help but enjoy this book. Their hilarious anecdotes allow us a glimpse inside their own home and help us better understand why it is important to abandon what the world views as right and follow a more noble path.

Customized Parenting in a Trending World is about wising up and teaching kids that status customized_parenting_front_cover quo is not always the best way to go. This book will help you find the courage and creativity to challenge conventional wisdom and customize your parenting to suit each child and help them thrive.  Richard and Carrie Blackaby offer informative content from both sides of the gamut. Challenges to societal normality pack the pages. Carrie’s charming childhood stories accompanied by Richard’s insightful wisdom make for an entertaining, yet informative read.

God takes great delight in creating unique individuals, so why do we teach our children to conform and be complacent?

Time to Chime In: Would you consider yourself a trending parent? How do you customize your parenting?

Homeschooling 101, Revisited

Homeschooling101We’ve been homeschooling over ten years now! Time sure does fly when you’re having fun. Over the years, we’ve learned a lot and discovered ways to keep our routine running smoothly. I wish I knew half of what I know now from the get-go! For all those new to homeschooling, perhaps you can learn a little from our previous mistakes and how we managed to come up with a solution. 

Homeschooling 101