June Loves

How is it already June 30th?! Today’s the day for the things I’ve been into this month. It’s one of my favorite posts to write!

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Music/Podcasts/Sermons/Movies/Books

Rend Collective: I know that they are probably totally old news, but I’ve just discovered them (they played at The Justice Conference) and their Irishness is simply delightful! I’ve been listening to all of their albums and I haven’t found one I don’t like.

Compelled – Living the Gospel in the City // Ben Knox This sermon was a perfect one to finish up our series on living the gospel in various aspects of our lives. Basically, it all boils down to the art of neighboring.

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I finished Siblings Without Rivalry this month. I hope to do a short review sometime in the future, but I’m just gonna go ahead and highly recommend this to you now if you’re feeling the stress of sibling fighting this summer. Easy read, FAST read, but some great information and perspectives are given.

Jake and I are working our way through the Harry Potter DVDs (we just finished the Order of the Phoenix last Friday). While the books are 150x better, I love sharing in the storyline with Jake during our Friday night at-home dates. We cuddle up on our bed, break open the guac and tortilla chips, and watch Potter. I treasure this time and will be sad when we’ve finished!

 

Blogs/Articles


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Red and Honey. If you haven’t checked out this blog yet, you simply must. It’s full of real food recipes, natural living ideas, as well as some fun other things thrown in there. It’s also important to me because I just started on as a Virtual Assistant for Beth! It’s been fun to begin to get to know her and her team, as well as do various tasks for Red and Honey. So I unashamedly tell you to skiddadle over there and follow her on FB if you don’t already! :)

 

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21 Surprising Statistics that Reveal How Much Stuff We Actually Own (Becoming Minimalists) A friend of mine shared this early in the month and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Since we live in an apartment without a basement, our physical constraints prevent us from having as much “stuff” as we probably would otherwise. But still. We have SO. MUCH. STUFF. We live in an apartment building whose dumpsters are regularly overflowing with nice items: new tall boots (still in the box), jogging strollers, big screen TVs, toys, desk chairs, lamps. Just a little while ago we found 10 trash bags full of girls clothes. All good stuff. But, apparently others’ “junk”. The stuff problem is out of control here in America. It’s out of control in my own home. We’ve been busy finding ways to give people the stuff we find as well as give away more of our stuff. I’m working on paring down my clothes to less than 30 outfits a month and we’re working up to another toy purge. Bonus: Less stuff= less cleaning.

 

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Teachers Transform Lockers into Great Books. I think this is FABULOUS! Can you imagine going to school everyday and walking down hallways with these bright lockers? I am a firm believer that our spaces REALLY matter. Great spaces inspire creativity and set the stage for the flourishing of people. Brava to these teachers!

 

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My Daughter is Not Giving Me a Hard Time, She’s Having a Hard Time. We’ve been doing some more experimenting in our parenting, and this post speaks to the type of mindset we’re working to adopt. When our kids are fighting and nagging one another, throwing tantrums and what not, we can choose to be exasperated with them and believe that they are just too dramatic, too sensitive, too ________. OR, we can see that they are having a hard time, and emphasize with them and try to love them where they’re at, recognizing that it’s tough for them too.

 

Stuff We Did

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We celebrated Juneteenth with other Madisonites at Olin Park. Juneteenth is the celebration of the end of slavery in the U.S.. I started out the morning hanging out with a few ladies, talking about the racial tensions in Madison, along with our hopes, prayers, and ideas for participating in racial reconciliation here in our City. We’re using this Bible study as a jumping off point for discussion and prayer. If you’re in the Madison area and want to participate, you can join our FB group to get updates on the times and places of the rest of the meetings. After the meeting, Jake and 3/4 of the kids joined me at the park where there was some yummy food, a huge tent of kids activities, music, and fun!

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 3.48.55 PMThe two younger kids have started ANOTHER 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, a challenge that’s pretty self-explanatory :). We finished the first one through the Madison Public Library in May. In June when we were at the Middleton Library (a library that’s as close to us as our favorite Madison library), they invited the girls to do it again! This one’s pretty cool because you write each book that the child reads, and then at the end, you get to keep the book. What a fun way to look back and remember! There are a ton of libraries around the country that are participating, so check out to see if your local library is doing it too!

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into posts! 

 

 

The Token in My Pocket

Summer vacation for us means that we’ll most likely find more of these little things lying around.

Our kids are drawn to those penny-smashing machines like a bee is to a flower. The gears. The pictures to choose from. The huge hard-to-turn crank. The penny-in, penny-out magic never gets old. The kids will carry these smushed down pennies with them wherever they go- in the car, on their bikes, and sometimes even wrapped in their little hands as they fall asleep.

By the time fall comes, these pennies will be forgotten. Sometime in late August, I will gather them all up from under the couch cushions and behind beds, and put them in their memory boxes, small tokens of the fun we had together.

As 3 of the 4 kids bound off to school, however, their pockets will not be empty. With the new school year comes a need for a different kind of token. A reminder of home. A reminder that someone loves them. A reminder that they aren’t alone, even when they’re on the playground and may not know who to play with or what to do. In the morning, if they need it, I’ll slip a penny or a note or a small picture into their pocket or backpack, telling them that if they get sad or lonely, they can feel for it and think of me.

I carry a different kind of token. It’s not physical and it isn’t in my pocket. Instead, I carry it around in my heart, and I touch it to ask the Holy Spirit to remind me of my purpose and my calling, especially when I feel bored or forgotten or insignificant in the mundane, day-to-day routine. While Scripture is not something to take out of context and use to make us feel good, sometimes choosing one verse of Scripture to hold onto (while knowing and understanding its place within the chapter, book, and whole story of Scripture) is incredibly powerful.

This month over at the Graham Blanchard blog, the Mom Mentors and I are sharing some of those tokens that we hold onto during our current season of life. We live in very different spaces and places, but we all have found that holding onto certain passages of Scripture helps us to persevere, find joy, be reminded of our calling, or simply keep our head above the crashing waves. Here’s what I shared, but please feel free to go on over and read more of the others’ if you want. :)

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  – 1 Corinthians 10:31.

I’ve been a stay at home or work from home mom for nearly 8 years (with a 1 year exception), and sometimes I feel, well, tired of being at home all the time! On occasion I am tempted to believe that my work caring for kiddos at home is not as Kingdom-building as some other things I could be doing if I was working outside the home. It’s during these seasons that I hold on to this verse, which reminds me that God asks me to glorify Him in WHATEVER I’m doing, even in those tasks that feel quite mundane. This verse also brings my attention back to the overarching call on my life to be a whole-life worshipper, and reminds me that I can do that ANYWHERE, especially in my own home.  So, when that feeling of restlessness begins to saturate my mind, this verse and ones like it helps me to regain perspective and patience.

What’s the passage or verse of Scripture in your pocket this season? 

Review: Keep Your Love On

Jake and I aren’t really marriage book kind of people.

It’s not because we don’t need them (I’m sure we do).

It’s not because we don’t value our relationship (it’s an incredibly important priority).

It’s mostly because we don’t find marriage books to be very… well, interesting, and also because they tend to be fairly predictable. I’ve read a couple since we’ve been married, mostly during the first year and what I’ve found is that they generally have more of a role of cheerleader than provide sizable amounts of new information.

I received an email a few weeks ago about reviewing Keep Your Love On: Connection, Communication & Boundaries by Danny Silk, director of Global Transformation Institute and also a leader at Bethel Church in Redding, CA. At first I was going to say no, because, well, I was reading Harry Potter, and we’ve already established how I generally feel about marriage books.

But then I said yes.

Maybe because I hadn’t read a marriage book in a while. Maybe because this book had been out for only a month and it had a crazy number of amazon reviews. As I’m writing this, it already has 493 reviews on amazon, 93% of them being five stars. This impresses me. It’s not easy to get that many amazon reviews so quickly. So I gave it a chance.

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Keep Your Love On! is a book that focuses solely on keeping the relational connection between the husband and wife strong. And while each person has a indispensable role, this book focuses on what the reader can do, despite how the other person responds or doesn’t respond. Danny helps the reader understand what keeps the connection strong, and also what weakens the connection.

Connection

Every relationship has one of two goals: connection or disconnection.

In relationships, we choose to behave and speak in ways that foster connection, or in ways that distance ourselves from others. Most of the time we don’t realize what we’re choosing. Sometimes, well, a lot of times, we do what we’ve learned. How our parents treated or didn’t treat one another is a huge influence in how we’ll react towards our spouses. Danny shares some helpful stories and walks us through some important questions to help us understand how all of that plays out in our lives. One of the key points throughout this section is we can only control ourselves. How we respond to our spouse is of utmost importance in our connection.

Communication

Danny opens up this section by explaining the 3 styles of communication: passive communication, aggressive communication and passive-aggressive communication. Knowing how you communicate is the key to learning to communicate better, with a focus on keeping the connection between husband and wife strong. He then builds from there, discussing how to have an effective conversation, what the goals are, what needs to be in place for both parties to feel understood and also to “keep the love on” during all of it.

This section was full of really insightful pieces of information that I somehow didn’t ever learn or perhaps learned and then forgot. Jake and I don’t do disagreements well. We both are so hard-headed and sometimes choose the desire to be right and “win” the conversation over the common good of the relationship. Some of you are laughing. Big shocker, I know ;).

One concrete thing I’m taking from this section is being applied to all my relationships, including my kids. Say what you need. And ask others what they need. My kids are totally passive, which probably reflects my passiveness at times. I would rather hint at what I need “Wow, I’m tired.” instead of “Jake, do you mind if I take the next 30 minutes off to read in a quiet place?”. Or, one of the kids will say, “I guess I’m just going to have to walk around like this all day (with her pajama dress stuck on top of her head).” and I’ve been a broken record saying, “Can you please tell me what you need?” instead of just helping her take it off. It sounds little, but I think it’s important to realize that I can’t read their minds, and that they can’t read mine, so it’s better for all of us if we’re explicit with our needs. I feel like this would probably solve half of the world’s problems. :)

Boundaries

Finally, Danny finishes up with a section on boundaries- basically choosing who you share what level of intimate information with as well as with who you spend how much time.

Overall, good book! Easy read, not too fast, no fluff. My only dislike about the book is the underlying goal of the reader to become a “powerful person” by choosing to be and do various things throughout the book.  I think he is using it in a “powerful in self-control” way, but the whole power metaphor sits wrong with me.

Anyway, If anything else, this title is a fantastic one to throw out there when you and your spouse are in a little tiff. Just look at them, smile warmly and say, “Hey baby, let’s keep our love on.” :)

A Day in the Life {June 17th}

This summer schedule is wee bit more than I bargained for.

The first day was a bit hectic, but by day 3, we’re grooving.

Morning

Today was my day to sleep in (yay!) so I (slowly) rolled out of bed around 7:30. I was up WAAAAY too late finishing up the last book of the Harry Potter series, and even at 7:30, it was still absolutely worth it.

Jake went out to work around the building, and I ate breakfast and got all of us dressed and backpacks packed for the various camps.

Ada was the first one to drop off at camp, and we spent a few minutes at the park before I met a woman at 10:00a to sell her some of our cloth diapers (we’re done, we’re done!). Asante and I played a couple games of tetherball, which was awesome and brought me back to my elementary playground days (expect in those days I was awful at tetherball, mostly because I was so short, but do you know who was REALLY good? A guy named Marcus Barringer. Tetherball champion).

After the diaper exchange (where we laughed together about “meeting up in the grocery store parking lot, making sales”, ha!), we headed to a different park where we played and hung out for an hour or so, and then swung by the library on our way home. I intended to just pick up a few books on hold, but the kids wanted to go in so we came out with WAY too many books (I didnt even bring a canvas bag to carry them all in! doh!), but with very happy kids.

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With hungry tummies, we headed home, I made a quick picnic lunch and then we all walked to the pool to pick up Ada, and then had our picnic lunch. I accidentally started an awesome routine of reading them Bible stories on our picnic, and today was The Persistent Widow. The kids were surprised that they could “pester” God with their prayers. Ada commented that if they did that to me and Jake, we would not be very happy. “You guys don’t let us have something if we pester you.” True story. Parents, think about that one :)

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Afternoon

After the picnic, we walked to Asante’s camp, dropped him off, and then headed back home. I put Anaya down for a nap while Jake took a break from reading and set the girls up with listening to stories with their new headphones (seriously love these- my house is QUIETER). I  was able to finish up a blog post and answer some emails before Anaya woke up after a short hour nap. This could have been because the girls decided to make a laboratory in the bathroom and kept on shutting and opening the door to get more “ingredients”. :)

So, Anaya and I played a bit and then walked to pick up Asante from camp, leaving the girls in their upstairs laboratory. When we got home, Jake took the kids over and I was able to spend some time doing internet errands, as I like to call them, as well as a little bit of reading.

Evening

Around 4:45, I packed a quick picnic dinner and we headed to Asante’s flag football camp. The school where it’s located has an AWESOME playground, so we decided to take the whole family. Everyone had a great time!

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Finally, when we got home, we showered the kiddos and got them to bed. It was Jake’s turn to put Anaya to bed, so I showered and came down to my desk to do some more blogging, answer more emails, and request some books from the library (Aly is getting into bird and wanted me to find some field guides for kids).

Whew! After a bit more time online, I’ll read before bed. I started Siblings Without Rivalry today and its really good so far. I think exactly what I need right now with the summer stretching indefinitely in front of us :).

What’d you do today?!

Practicing the Spiritual Disciplines with Kids (+Free Printable)

Spiritual disciplines are fantastic and frightening.

They are fantastic because they are often a really great way to help me connect with God. Whether it be through prayer, reading the Scriptures, practicing generosity, journaling, walking a labyrinth, WHATEVER, these are places and times when I’m being intentional about slowing down and focusing on what God is doing around me and inside of me. It’s a time for me to listen and/or to enter into the Kingdom of God living that I might now naturally do on my own.

Spiritual disciplines are also frightening because when I engage in them, I’m giving up control. While I can decide when and what to do, I can’t decide what God’s going to say, how He’s going to move, or even if I’m going to sense His presence at all. Especially at the beginning, it’s sometimes frightening to be vulnerable, even when it’s with our Abba.

When I became a parent, I settled it in my mind that I would help my kids practice developmentally appropriate spiritual disciplines early. By practicing and learning how to connect with God on their own, I’m hoping that these disciplines will give space for God to create markers in their faith where the kids “know that they know they have heard from God.”

A good friend of mine is the teaching pastor at Catalyst Community Church in Rowlett, Texas, and he recently invited me to help make a spiritual disciplines guide for kids. What can we do as parents to help our kids practice the disciplines? 

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The result of this collaborative project is this helpful sheet that we’re sharing with you. Feel free to download it, print it, share it, whatever!

 

Top 8 Reasons the Justice Conference Was Fantastic

Jake and I celebrated 10 years of marriage this past weekend by heading to the Windy City for The Justice Conference 2015. We had a fantastic time! Here’s why:

1. Chicago

I LOVE Chicago. Great people, great artists, great ideas. We stayed at the HI Chicago and it was a GREAT experience. I was a little unsure about hosteling, but now I wonder if I’ll ever NOT do it, given the option. The accommodations were clean, the people were friendly and interesting, and the location was PERFECT. We literally walked across the street to go to the conference.

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2. The Auditorium Theater

The Justice Conference took place in the Auditorium Theater- it is GORGEOUS! Every seat was a good one, and I thought it was so cool that some people could watch it all from little side boxes- ha (excuse Jake’s blurry face in the pic below, and look at those seats- so romantic :))! For those of you who aren’t familiar, the Auditorium Theater is just a couple block walk from Lake Michigan, and very near Millennium Park, which was a great place to walk around during the breaks.

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3.  The Expo

Across the street from the Auditorium, they had an Expo with a bunch of organizations and publishers represented. I was like a kid in the candy store with all of those publishers in ONE PLACE and selling books at a discounted price. IVP took most of my money (thank you very much!). A couple organizations represented that we particularly enjoyed talking with:

Plough Publishers: A publishing house from upstate New York, the woman at the table were so fantastic to talk with. This group has a deep commitment to resources that encourage people to put their faith in action, specifically in the areas of peacemaking, forgiveness, christian discipleship, the valuing of children, environmental consciousness, etc. As a bonus, they were giving away free books (I think the only one there at the conference doing so!).

Micah Challenge: I have come to really love this organization. I reviewed a book they just put out a few months ago, which was a must-have because it was SO PRACTICAL. So sure, perhaps we aren’t going to lobby in Congress or go to Palestine, but there are so many things that we can do in our daily lives that help make the world more just. I had a great discussion with a guy at the booth who explained about some legislature that Congress passed several years ago that isn’t being followed yet. It was a fascinating to hear about the process of going to Obama’s office, talking to his staff, giving signatures, etc. This is an organization making things happen in the name of Jesus.

4. Diversity of Speakers

I have been to quite a few conferences, and despite peoples’ (so-called) best efforts, I can almost guarantee that there will be 90% white men speaking, with 1 token woman (normally being interviewed), and 1 token minority. This conference was different. People from all different backgrounds were speaking or being interviewed on stage and IT WAS SO REFRESHING. I have a whole new group of amazing men and women to learn from and follow on social media. I feel sad that I’m just hearing about them now! Just to name a few: Eugene Cho, Soong-Chan Rah, Austin Channing, Rev Traci Blackmon, and Gabriel Salguero.

5. Worship (through music and poetry) Sessions

We were led in worship by a wide variety of people– Micah Bournes, Malcolm London, David Crowder, Rend Collective and a fantastic worship band (David Bailey, Angie Wong, and a few others– those of you who were there- help me out!). We even sang a song in Spanish and Urdu which I thought was really meaningful. I’d love to do that more often!

6. Hard Conversations

The topic of racial inequality and white privilege (or white supremacy) was a big topic discussed, preached on, and expressed through poetry and art. I learned a lot, was able to confront some of my own biases, and was reminded how much I’m unaware of a reality that exists for so many people. My toes got stepped on a little, and while I didnt agree with every word said about it, it was a great chance to listen and learn from people from different perspectives.

7. A Like-Minded Community

While I’m sure we were all different in a lot of ways, we all love Jesus and feel a deep commitment to loving our neighbors, both here and far, in ways that cause us to suffer and to sacrifice. As Dr. Cornel West said, “To love is to learn how to die.” It was great to be reminded that there are many others who see the essentialness of justice to the Gospel, and who aren’t so caught up in pursuing the American Dream that they lose sight of the call to love the marginalized. It reminds me that I’m not crazy. A girl needs that reminder every now and then.

8. Amena Brown Owen

If I ever have a conference (I mean, just pretend with me), this lady is at the top of my list to ask to host. Amena is a beautiful woman who is real, funny, and a little bit sassy. She was the perfect host for this conference!!

My main takeaway from this conference is that my necessary next step is to get serious about surrounding myself with other voices, voices that aren’t white men and women. I bought a couple books there that will start me in on the process, but I’m also subscribing to a few new blogs (and unsubscribing to others). In a week we’ll be having our next Racial Bridges study here in Madison, which is where the real life community discussion and movement is happening. I’ve learned a lot over the past couple years and commit to learning more from others who don’t look or sound or worship like me.

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If you’re interested about next year’s conference, check out their website or follow Justice Conference on FB And Twitter.

 

Review: To The Sea {Graham Blanchard board book}

Graham Blanchard is a publishing company that focuses solely on the spiritual formation of kids. Over the past couple years, they’ve put out a whole slew of books surrounding the ideas of learning about God, forming their identity (absorbing the truth of who God says they are) and praising God.

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Callie Grant, founder of Graham Blanchard, has written a new book for the Praise Collection called To The Sea. A small boy takes a day trip to the beach, where he experiences all the wonders of the ocean- mighty waves, fizzling sea foam, salty water, and the fresh breeze. He also experiences the effects of the sea– his sand castle gets washed away- but he rebuilds it on higher, sturdier ground. Perfect for summer and perfect for infants-preschoolers, this book is written in rhyme and the illustrations (done in oil paintings) are EXCELLENT.

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To learn more about this book or to download the parent guide that goes with it. visit Graham Blanchard’s website. Also on the website, feel free to poke around, check out the prayer wall and sign up for their newsletter and receive A Parent’s Guide for Children Growing Up in God.

If you’re interested, you can read my reviews on some of their other books:

 

What We’re Up to This Summer {Parent’s Edition}

On Tuesday I shared about what the family is up to this summer— mostly the kids.

But, behind the scenes, Jake and I got all kinds of business going on.

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While finished with classes, Jake will be “independently studying” all summer and into next semester. Basically this means he’ll be reading at least 8 hours a day, getting ready for the exams that doctoral students take after they are finished with their coursework and ready to start their dissertation research. He’ll also be working on his dissertation proposal and then IRB approval, in hopes that he’ll be ready to start in the field researching come January 2016. I’m really proud of him. He’s pushing the pace and everyone is quite amazed that he’s been able to be a TA (50%), take 9-12 hours of doctoral classes each semester, and still be involved in our day-to-day family life.

IMG_4544As for me, other than running this summer ship, I have some fun projects I hope to work on:

  1. Learn the countries of the world with Asante. We tried it last summer, and got a good chunk of them. We need to revisit those and also learn the ones we haven’t done yet.
  2. Finish up Ada’s 0-1 year scrapbook, which is a physical scrapbook. After this, I’ll be caught up with all the kids’ scrapbooks. This is a big deal for me. Once upon a time, I considered this may not actually be a doable goal. :)
  3. Create our family’s 10 Year scrapbook, which will be digital. We’re thinking a coffee table type scrapbook with highlights from our first decade as a family. I have it generally mapped out, but the hard part will be digging and finding those digital photos from the first 5 years.
  4. Catch up on Journey through Scripture reading plan. I was doing so well, and then May came, and well, it all fell apart. It’s never too late to catch up. If I can read a 700 page Harry Potter book in a weekend, I can catch up on some Bible reading, yes?
  5. Running. Last year I was well into my half marathon training by now. I loved it. It was so good for me. I haven’t run since that half marathon, and I’ve been feeling the effects of it. I’d love to start running a few mornings a week, as would Jake. We have a plan ready, but we’ve been pushing back the start date. Next week.
  6. Summer Reading Programs. Here in Madison they do a couple summer reading programs for adults too, and I’m ALL INTO THIS. Last year I won a gift certificate to a chocolate store and Jake won an amazon gift card! I totally geek out on this.
  7. Finish up the Harry Potter series. I have 2 more books to go!
  8. Simplifying Around the House. I’ve been prayerfully simplifying our house. We have so much stuff. I keep on simplifying and it all still seems like too much. I’ve gone through my wardrobe quite a bit. When I realized I could wear a different outfit everyday for a month, I just felt like it was time to trim back. I’ll keep on it this summer, hitting other parts of the house.

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What are you up to this summer? Any summer goals or projects you’re excited about? 

Review: Princess Joy: Sticker and Activity Book

A couple weeks ago I reviewed another sticker and activity book in this series (Princess Charity). I decided to review another one for a couple reasons:

1. The girls both wanted a book and because they are pretty thin, they aren’t the easiest book to share.

2. I wanted to see if they were so similar that if you had one, would it be worth getting another?

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So, Princess Joy Sticker and Activity Book (The Princess Parables) came in the mail yesterday, and in it we’re told about a Princess named Joy. The book is birthday themed: Joy invites the reader to help her decorate her birthday party invitation, her family decides to throw her a birthday party, and at the end, Joy decides that instead of getting gifts on her birthday, she’s going to give gifts to others. I don’t think I picked up on it last time, but apparently Joy and her sisters are a one parent family (her mom isn’t in the picture).

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The book includes many of the same activities as the other I reviewed: a small maze, some coloring and sticker pages, finding the difference between 2 pictures, and a word search. It also includes a “breaking the code” page and a counting page. I’d still say that this book is more for late preschool or early Kindergarten.

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If your child liked the Princess Charity sticker book, I think that this is different enough that she would enjoy this one too. I appreciated the simple message on generosity- it’s one of our family values!

 

 

What We’re Up to This Summer {Kids Edition}

While summer hasn’t actually yet started for us, I’m ready. The kids have 7 more days of school, which means I have 7 more days to finish getting things ready.

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While I hear the recommendations of having a “70’s summer”, filled with Kool-Aid, playing outside all day, and a general lack of parental involvement (what will you mommas do with your time?! I am a bit jealous….), we live squarely in 2015 up here.

Day and Sports Camps

For June and July, Asante and Ada will each be doing a couple hours of camp each day right here in the neighborhood. Lots of kids, running around outside, playing games, a little swimming, maybe a field trip here and there. Aly decided to forego the camp (she highly dislikes activities that include competition and if she suspects any amount of competition, she is so out of there) and instead will be doing a couple summer school enrichment classes in subjects she LOVES: art and science. A couple evenings a week, Asante will be doing a basketball camp and a flag football camp. We aren’t able to manage a busy sports schedule during the school year (he only does soccer in both the fall and spring), so we’re using this summer to let him try out some other sports.

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The schedules are all different, but everyone is within walking distance, so Anaya and I will spend a lot of time walking to and fro, eating picnic lunches, and playing on playgrounds.

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When the older kids aren’t in their camps/classes, we’ll have a general schedule that we create together each weekend. I asked the kids if they wanted me to schedule blocks of time to do various things, or if they just wanted to fill their days how they wanted, and everyone, hands-down, wanted the schedule.

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So, everyday we’ll have a devotional time in the mornings, and then when the kids aren’t in their daily camp, they will have some reading time, some artsy/crafty time for the girls (I think Asante will probably do chess during this time), a patch of screen time, a chunk of free time, and, a few times a week, some type of special project. The kids each have some things they’ve been wanting to learn or work on, so hopefully I can manage to learn some of those things along with them or at least get them the resources they need to teach themselves.

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Summer Reading Programs

We’re doing a ton of different reading programs this summer. The kids are huge readers, and are typically finished with one reading program after a couple weeks :). So, this year we’ll be doing 3 different library’s reading programs, the Barnes and Nobles summer reading program, and also the one at Half Price Books. Two we’ll be doing simultaneously, but most will just be back to back. Really, the kids will read no matter what; they need no incentive, but they think it’s super fun to earn free books and tickets to baseball games, butterfly gardens, local farms and stuff like that. Of course Jake and I like them to do that too– because going anywhere with a family of 6 gets expensive fast!

Family Field Trips

Each week I have a family field trip planned. They are all places that we’ve wanted to go, but just don’t have the margin to do during the school year (do you see a theme? basically we’re really lame during the school year. The zoo is about as crazy as we get). Hopefully we’ll be headed to a small kid-oriented amusement park, a local cave, the butterfly gardens, a few splash pads, a pool, some beaches, the movies and a few outdoor hiking areas. Because the kids will be passing each other during the day, it’ll be fun to have some family time too.

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August

August will feel more like summer vacation for us. We’ll go see the grandparents, have a week of vacation Bible school (3 of the 4 get to go this year!), a trip to the Dells, and a week to get our self organized for everyone to start the school year!

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This summer really is going to fly by. I think we’re all looking forward to these 3 months off, and while we still have things going on, it’ll be so nice to have the kids around more often. Sure, they fight a lot more and that’s stressful to me, but really, I know these summers are numbered. When the kids are all in school (which will be in just a few short years), I’ll probably be going back to work outside the home and won’t have summers like this with them. I’m excited to spend it having fun and making memories!

 

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