May Loves

The kids only have a couple weeks left of school, and I’m getting totally antsy. It’s this weird stage of summer/but not yet summer. Jake’s finished with his semester, but the older kids are still in theirs. Is it summer? Is it not?

Anyway, onto May Loves. I love writing these posts! Not only do I get to share what I’m into with all of you all, but I think it also keeps me looking for the bright parts of my days and weeks.

Around the Webs

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My friend and some of his friends just started a kewl new podcast- The Bible Bites Podcast. For 20 minutes, they talk all things Bible. They are a super great group of people and I like this because I CAN DO 20 minutes. Folding laundry, running, doing errands, laying in bed before falling asleep. 20 minutes.

Motherhood, Transformation by Interruption (featured on Her.Meneutics). Sarah Bessey shares how interruption, specifically as it relates to motherhood, has transformed her. Interruption happens– but the question is, how do we let it move us? Towards grace? Or towards bitterness? Sarah chooses grace again and again. I don’t always, so this was encouraging to me.

The Moral Bucket List (NY Times) — what if our bucket list focused less on our external ambitions and more on our internal character? Whew, a good one.

On my Bookshelf

 

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I’m all up in a Harry Potter craze, bordering on slightly irresponsible. I may or may not have left household cleaning gone completely undone in exchange for a few more pages or chapters of reading through the Harry Potter series. I just finished book 5, and while book 6 is staring at me from my bookshelf, I MUST NOT START until I’m caught up on some other books and projects I was in the middle of before this madness began. It’s been a fun shared experience for Asante and I. He is going to read book 5, but stop there for a year or so (you can only imagine that he thinks that’s an awesome idea), because the content is just a little too mature for him at this point.

 

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Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church is the other book I’m working on. Rachel Held Evans shares her story of drifting away from the church (but not from Jesus), and how she’s found her way back. It’s a beautiful, honest story. Her writing has matured greatly since her other books. I mean, I’ve liked her other books a lot, but this one takes a step forward. I should have a full review up by the end of next week.

Family Life

 

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Jakey and I celebrated 10 years of marriage. Well, by celebrated I mean we did nothing fancy on the day of our anniversary. I’m pretty sure he was busy writing a paper for finals week and I feel asleep super early. BUT, a couple weeks later, our friends and neighbors offered to watch the kiddos while Jake and I went out to dinner. We went to a chinese buffet– we didn’t realize until we got there how perfect going there was! When we were dating “friends” for 3.5 years in college, we frequently went to this great Chinese Buffet in Columbia, MO called The Great Wall. This little date brought us back and made us laugh. :) In a couple weeks we’ll be headed to Chi town for our REAL anniversary celebration- so excited!

We are SO close to being done with diapers. We’ve been diapering sweet baby bottoms for the past 7.5 years and I am happy, delighted, exuberant knowing that we’re on the homestretch. I even took Anaya out to Target in her undies- that’s how “almost done” we are. We’re good on daytime dryness, good on overnight and nap, but just got that, you know, other thing, to work on. After potty-training 4 kids, I’m convinced more than ever that potty-training is 95% child and 5% method.  

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Finally, our Life Group had a great going away party for our dear friends and neighbors, the Gonzalez’s. We cooked brats, ate Wisconsin cheese and did a lot of laughing, talking, and I may or may not have cried at the end. While them moving away is NOT something I love about this month, I do love that we have a really great Life Group who really loves one another. :)

Happy May! Here’s to a great summer for all!  

Linking up with Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into party

Cookbook Review: Cookie Love

Cookies are my absolute favorite thing to bake.

I can’t remember what age I began baking, but it was pretty early in life. My dad loves cookies, and I love my dad, so I would bake him cookies often enough to keep the cookie jar full. I started out by following recipes, and little by little, I would exchange this ingredient for that, and add a little bit of this to see what happened.

While I love making the classic cookies, I also enjoy cookies that are interesting, mostly ones that have an atypical combination of ordinary ingredients. Especially if they involve chocolate.

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Cookie Love by Mindy Segal is a cookbook all about cookies- drop cookies, shortbreads, sandwich cookies, egg white cookies, twice-baked cookies, bars- they are all in there! Not only does she include recipes, but she gives away some of her tricks, hints, and tool recommendations to producing perfectly delicious cookies.

All of the cookies she makes in this book are gorgeous and interesting. Lemon Goat-Butter Tea Cakes, Graham Cracker and Passion Fruit Whoopie Cookies, and Smokey Bacon Candy Bar Cookies (oh yes, she went there!) are just a few of the cookies that I thought looked delicious!

Being a more common-ingredient kind of girl, I found that most of the recipes included items that I hadn’t really heard of (muscovado sugar, bacon-chocolate candy bars, passion fruit puree, valrhona dulcey, smoked sugar), so I must admit that, while all of these cookies sound AMAZING, they aren’t really ones I’m interested in making at this point in my life. I have little desire to spend my days dragging 2 little ones around from store to store looking for mystery ingredients. :)

But, if you’re up for something new, love to bake, and have some time to explore the underworld of speciality grocery stores, then this is a fantastic cookbook for you!

Thanks to Blogging for Books for this complimentary cookbook in exchange for my honest review! 

 

Review: Princess Charity (The Princess Parables Series)

Remember that one time when I said I like to review books for girls that aren’t about princesses.

Well, sometimes I like to review books that ARE about princesses, especially when they involve stickers. Isn’t it amazing how fun stickers are to kids?

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Zonderkidz has a new series of 5 activity books called the Princess Parables (aimed at 4-8 year olds). It’s about a family of five princesses, the youngest of whom is highlighted in Princess Charity Sticker and Activity Book. Princess Charity loves animals, especially her horse Daisy.

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Mostly, this book is about the activities, not a real story, which the girls were totally fine with. I think they don’t have the expectation of a story when the do activity and sticker books. The book includes:

  • Stickers: 50 reusable stickers are included, and you can put them anywhere you like in the scenes of the book. The stickers are quality!
  • Coloring: there are a few pages to color, one of them is color by number and the others are not.
  • Puzzles: It includes one easy dot-to-dot, one easy word search, and one easy maze. I’d say these are late preschool/Kindergarten appropriate level puzzles.

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As for the Christian aspect to the book, there are 2 mentions of God. One page talks about how God makes beautiful things in their kingdom, and then another page shares how the reader is a princess too because she is a daughter of The King.

If your daughter is into activity books, this would be one I’m sure she’d love :).

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the free book in exchange for an honest review!

When God meets you while reading your child a book about monsters

We read hundreds of picture books in a month. I pay attention the first 20 or 30 times that I read, but then after that, I tend to zone out and think about other things (please tell me I’m not the only one!). When I reach the end of the book, I have the same feeling that I get when I drive home on autopilot, surprised to see that I’m puling into our parking spot.

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So, a few days ago Ada and I snuggled up on the couch, and I began to read a book called Marilyn’s Monster. I began reading, knowing nothing about the book and wasn’t really expecting much.

Some of at the kids in Marilyn’s class had monsters. It was the latest thing. Marilyn didn’t have a monster. Not yet. You couldn’t just go out and get one. Your monster had to find you. That’s just the way it worked.

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Some of the kids woke up to have their monsters beside them, others on the playground or in the middle of class. One by one, her classmates got their monsters.

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Marilyn began to get a bit restless and kinda-sorta began looking for hers, while trying to act as if she absolutely was not looking. Her friends were having so much fun with their monsters, and she wanted to experience that same thing.

Her parents tried to assure her that the monster would come, just to give it time.

Marilyn wondered if the monster got lost. Or saw her from afar and decided he didn’t want to be her monster after all. That was definitely it, she thought, so she began to do and be exactly what she thought a monster would want in a playmate. Neat, proper, kind… perfect.

After waiting and waiting and waiting, one day she got angry and decided she didn’t want to be  perfect and she wouldnt wait a second longer! Instead, she would just go look for him, even though that’s not how it was supposed to be. She looked for him at the library, under the bridge in the park, and in the woods, but no sign of her monster. She finally ended up in a big field and screamed at the top of her lungs:

where are you

And then, very softly, she heard a voice say,

here.

She followed that small, quiet, but awfully clear, voice and she found her monster, up in a tree.

As I was reading, I was overcome with emotion, because I thought to myself- I can relate to her. Off and on over the past several years, I’ve felt that way about God. I see the happy clappy, I love Jesus, He gives me big wet kisses Christians, and I feel myself waiting. Waiting to feel that way again. Waiting to hear His voice clearly. Waiting to have the warm snuggly easy relationship with him, free of cares and full of presence. Waiting for my monster.

I keep waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

Then I try to make myself better and more “presentable” to Him, thinking if I can do more good things, then maybe I’ll get those fuzzies back. More Bible studies. more worship songs, more giving, more serving.

Then I get angry and say, forget it. You can take me as me or don’t take me at all! I try and go find Him underneath new prayer techniques, refreshed journaling resolve, in the pages of my Bible reading plan, or on a jog through a scenic path. And then, still with that ache in my heart, I go to that huge, empty field, look up at the sky and yell,

WHERE ARE YOU??????

And then, very softly, I sometimes hear a small quiet, and oddly clear voice say,

here.

The journey of the soul is much messier than I ever imagined it would be.

When Your Child Asks Hard Questions about the Bible

Just the other day, the kids and I were eating dinner when the topic of the destination of the unevangelized came up. Of course, it didn’t come up in those words, but more like, “Mom, what happens to people who haven’t heard of God or Jesus before missionaries come to tell them God’s good news?”

If this topic hasn’t come up around your dinner table or while snuggled close to your kids at bedtime, then another one has. What happens to the baby that was miscarried? Why did the earthquake happen and kill so many people? Why does God allow people to do bad things to people because of the color of their skin? What will heaven be like?

As parents, we expect these questions to come, yet often feel the sense of surprise when they do. We have some general idea of how we answer the questions for ourselves, but when talking to our child about it, the ideas sometimes seem foggy, or the explanations “not enough”. We long for our child to have assurance of God’s great love for them, and also know that cutting off those questions, and that precious dialogue, may eventually be hurtful to their faith journey.

All that to be said, parenting is hard. Wading through tough questions about faith is hard. We need wise resources from people who have walked through it before us.

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One book that I’m reading through right now is called The Bible Story Handbook, written by Dr. John and Kim Walton. Married for many years and having raised three children themselves, John and Kim offer a theological sound, critical way at looking at the Scriptures that will allow us to teach our kids the intended messages of the Scriptures.

It’s tempting to read a passage of Scripture and then immediately figure out a way to connect it to our life. I mean, isn’t that what the Bible is for?

Well… maybe not exactly.

If a preacher or teacher is going to do a “leadership study”, you can pretty much guess what book of the Bible she or he is going to use… Nehemiah. But, the Waltons argue, leadership is not what Scripture is teaching in this passage. It’s not what the text is intending to teach, and “only the things that Scripture intends to teach carry the authority of the text.”

So, then, when we teach about Noah and the ark with all of the animals, what is the intended message of the Scriptures in that story? What do we teach our children about the story of Abraham? of David’s life? the creation of the world?

We are definitely good intentioned; at least I am. I want my children to find themselves in the Scriptures- to connect to them, to feel like the Bible is “applicable to their lives”. But all too often we pop the Scriptures of of their redemptive historical context only to make it into a nice packaged story with a good takeaway for our kids. The should be honest, obey, feed the poor,  be humble– things like that.

So if we’re not to just dive into the Scriptures to figure out how we should live, what should we do with them? The Waltons recommend first and foremost being careful to ask ourselves- what is the intended message of this passage of Scripture? What was the author trying to convey? Most of the time, it’s teaching about WHO GOD IS, not what we should do. They go on to say, “We want our students to be conformed to the image of Christ and their behavior to have been embraced as a way to imitate God. We accomplish this by helping them know God better, not by telling them that they should obey because Abraham obeyed.”

So, after this and much more (the introduction in itself is worth getting the book; I feel like I’m not really doing it justice), the Waltons go through the entire Bible and lay out lesson guidelines for parents or teachers to use when teaching on the various passages of Scriptures. They include:

  • a lesson focus
  • a lesson application
  • a short paragraph on the biblical context
  • interpretational issues in the story (this part is EXCELLENT. It will help with some of those tough questions that will come up if a child is thinking closely about the text)
  • Background information: Information about different parts of the story or words/images used that will help in gaining a fuller understanding of the message of the author
  • Mistakes to Avoid: a list of ways in which the passage of scripture is perhaps inaccurately taught to kids.

Another interesting thing that Waltons bring up is that it’s better to not teach your child a passage of Scripture than teach them the wrong thing about it. For example, one day their son came home from church and talked about how he learned about Cain and Abel in his class. Interested, they asked a few questions and learned that the lesson learned that day was “God created our bodies”. And while no one is going to argue that that is not a true statement, it’s not at all what the story of Cain and Abel teaches (acceptable and unacceptable sacrifices, murder of a brother, etc.). Most likely the teachers didn’t know how to teach this difficult passage to preschool children, so just tried to grasp at straws. There are passages of Scriptures that are inappropriate for young children to read. Skip them. Come back to them when they are older and you can teach them about it in an honest way.

Not only is this book helpful when teaching children, but it’s helpful to us as adults too. If we’ve grown up in the Church World, it can be hard to tease out the difference between what the Scripture says and what we may have been inaccurately taught about it.

Of course, as with any book, you read it and test it, but so far it appears to be an excellent resource. I HIGHLY recommend it to all parents!

 

Thanks to Crossway for a review ecopy of this book!!

Great Books when Traveling with Young Kids

Our family loves to get lost in books, but sometimes its hard to decide what to do with the non-independent readers of the group when we want to read on our own. We could always read to them, which we do a lot, or they could listen to a story on the iPod, which is also great, but only if you can manage to tune out the noise so that you can enjoy your own.

There are also those times when your readers don’t really FEEL like reading, but you’re all stuck in the car and they just need something to do to distract themselves while having fun.

Interactive books are a great way for kids to read in a different kind of way.

Interactive Books

Flap Books

For the youngest, flap books are the best. Kids have to find the flaps, of course look under each one a million times, and then turn the page again only to find a gazillion more flaps. In my opinion, the more flaps, the merrier.

Our favorites over the years have included Dragons (Usborne), The Seven Continents of the World, Little Pear TreeElmo’s Big Lift-And-look Book, Dora’s Lift and Look Book, and the whole set of Little People Life the Flap books.

Look & Find

A wide variety of these Look and Find books exist: easy, hard, and everywhere in-between. Some tell you what to find specifically, and others allow you to look and find things that are interesting to you! We even use the Mamoko one (below) to tell our own stories.

Our favorites include Littleland and Littleland Around the World, Where’s Waldo?, and The World of Mamoko in the Year 3000.

Magnetic

Magnetic books have hard pages that magnets can stick to. Many books have magnets that kids can use to “fill-in” missing pictures in the book.

Mostly we’ve used the Magnetic Learn and Play Counting book on road trips with all four kids! Their 2 year old selves have gotten the most fun out of it.

Doodle Books

Who says you can’t write in books?! Doodle books come in all kinds of themes. Some books are actually stories where kids can just fill in missing parts of the pictures. Other times, the pages are independent of one another and challenge the reader to use their imagination to make different animals, scenes, foods, etc.

We really like the The Bible Doodle Book, Charlie and Lola’s I Absolutely Must Do Coloring Now or Painting or Drawing , Mega Mash-Ups, Magical Mix-Ups,

You can find most of these in local libraries!

What are your kids’ favorite interactive books?  

20+ Great Audiobooks for Kids

Many people are surprised when they hear how early our kids go to bed. While Asante just got a promotion to 7:30, Aly and Ada are generally in bed no later than 7:00– and sometimes they are even asking to go to bed at 6:45.

While some of you may be a little jealous…. it’s not really what you think. One, our kids get up EARLY (no matter what time they go to bed), so by 7:00p, if they’ve had a nice active day, they are exhausted and are dragging themselves into bed. But, it’s also because they LOVE to listen to stories before falling asleep. While Jake and I used to tell them stories (Adventures of Asante, Aly, and Ada), we mostly rely on audiobooks loaded on our iPod, connected to our iHome so that the kids can all hear it well.

We also listen to audiobooks while in the car, whether it be on the way to our church gathering on Sundays (it is a bit of drive), or on a road trip to grandmas. If the kids are cranky and fighting with each other in the backseat, we’ll sometimes ask them if they’d like to listen to a story and PEACE falls over the car. Thank you Jesus for audiobooks. :)

In case you’re interested, here are some of our favorites!

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Short Books (Under 15 minutes)

Skippyjon Jones: A funny short story of a Siamese cat who pretends to be a Chihuahua. He goes on some great adventures! :) Every hardback book that we have checked out from the library has a audio cd inside of it, so that’s a great way to listen!

Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! Hungry bunnies are trying to get into Mr. McGreely’s yard, and he goes to great lengths to keep them out.

The Uglified Ducky and Rapunzel and the Seven Dwarfs by Willy Claflin: Super silly retellings of common tales. It takes awhile for me, as an adult, to get used to his voice, but the kids think it’s great. :)

medium audiobooks

Middle-sized Books (15-60 minutes)

The Bippolo Seed and other Lost Stories: These are a set of Dr. Suess stories that are read by some really famous people- Neil Patrick Harris, Anjelica Houston, and Joan Cusack, to name a few. Neil Patrick Harris HITS IT OUT OF THE PARK. It’s a really fun group of stories to listen to.

Mercy Watson: Mercy Watson is a pig who knows how to get into trouble. Each story is about 20 minutes long. These books in general are REALLY good starter chapter books for young readers because they include a lot of colored pictures to go along with the text. As of right now, I think there are 6 books in the series.

Leroy Nicker Saddles Up: This is also by Katie DiCamillo, and it’s a spin-off of the Mercy Watson series. The kids like it less than Mercy Watson, but they still enjoy it every now and then.

Where the Wild Things Are and other stories: We have a set of stories that include Where the Wild Things, In the Night Kitchen, Alligators All Around, Chicken Soup with Rice, etc. He’s a strange fella, but the kids love his lyrical books.

Magic School Bus: Normally between 20 and 30 minutes, these audio books are great for kids who already love the books and/or cartoons.

A to Z Mysteries– Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose come across a lot of mysteries in their small little town of Green Lawn! The characters are 9 years old, making it a pretty perfect book for a Kindergarten-2nd grader. These mysteries are fun, interesting, and the characters are really good kids. Each book comes in at right under an hour.

Calendar Mysteries– These mysteries star the younger siblings of Dink, Josh and Ruth Rose and are just as fun as the Calendar Mysteries.

Nate the Great: Short detective stories. I TOTALLY DISLIKE these stories. I refuse to listen to them with the kids, but again, the kids love them. :) They are each about 15-20 minutes long, so perfect for a going to bed listen!

long

Long Books (60+ minutes)

Charlotte’s Web: This childhood classic comes in at about 3.5 hours, so definitely one that will have to be broken up into pieces!

The Tale of Desperaux: Asante read this one last year in school, and he was eager to listen to it afterwards. The tale of a young mouse who is rejected by his family and falls in love with a Princess. This brings up some heavy topics, but it’s a beautifully told story. Asante didn’t have any trouble emotionally with this book, but there are some kids who may have a harder time dealing with some of the scenes.

Fudge series: These Judy Blume classics will be different than you remember them. I loved Judy Blume growing up, and it’s really funny to hear them again as an adult. It’s fun to pick up on the things that you wouldn’t pick up on as a child. Jake doesn’t enjoy these as much as I do, but these are fun ones for the car.

Then Underland Chronicles: This series, written by Suzanne Collins, shares how one boy who falls through a hole in his apt’s laundry room ends up trying to save a whole world underground. This tale is incredible. The whole series is about 37 hours long. We listened to this one last summer: in the evenings after dinner, on lazy rainy afternoons, and in the car traveling to and from the grandparents’ houses. Our kids really enjoyed this series, but it does certainly have some violence. You may want to look it up on commonsense media before deciding to listen to this one if you have young kids.

Magic Tree House: The well-loved books can not only be read, but listened to as well. We originally listened to each book after the kids finished reading it as a celebration, but now it’s fun to just listen anytime. Jack and Annie are fun characters who go on many magical, historically-themed adventures together! Each of these books are really close to being about an hour long.

James and the Giant Peach: Robert Dahl is fantastic, and his books have been capturing kids’ attention for years. This one is around 3 hours long and I found that my kids enjoyed this one more after watching the movie, perhaps because the movie helped them visually create a framework for what’s going on?

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: Another good one by Ronald Dahl. You’ll have fun listening to this childhood classic with your kids!

 

 

 

 

 

Who Can You Talk To When Mothering Gets Rough?

In a society that is constantly moving and grooving, mentors can be hard to find.

This month the Mom Mentors are talking about OUR mentors as mothers. The answers may surprise you. Here’s what I wrote:

I’ve spent a lot of my last 10 years moving around (making consistent mentors hard to find), but despite this, I’m so blessed with a few women in my life that I can reach out to for guidance and encouragement. There’s a friend in Pennsylvania whom I call when my elementary kids have caught some weird new habit at school and I have to know if it’s normal or not.

There are a couple ladies in Missouri who have 5+ kids who I email, asking for advice on intentional parenting or whatever current parenting struggle I’m going through. I’ve found that these ladies have been particularly helpful because they know the unique struggles of having a gaggle of kids. Most recently it’s been about how to parent children as individuals instead of a herd!

Here in Madison I have a few friends who are amazing sources of encouragement, reminding me that until my youngest is 3, I’m still in the parenting fog stage, so relax.Finally, I have one mom friend in Kenya who is an incredible source of wisdom and gentleness, and brings a sense of cultural clarity to my parenting for which I’m so grateful!

How about you? Who are your mom mentors- the people you can watch and observe in everyday life (or pick up the phone and call) when you need an ear or advice about parenting?

Cookbook Review: Milk Bar Life

As you know, we like to cook around here. Most of the time cooking is boiled down to the basics, because we’re all busy and I nearly always have a toddler hanging on my legs, which makes me just want to cook and be done with it already.

Aly pushes back on that, always wanting to cook more often and more interesting foods. We try to find common ground by letting her do the basics with me more often, but also cooking “interesting” foods for potlucks, snacks to send with Jake to school, playdates, etc.

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I can only imagine Aly someday writing a cookbook like Christina Tosi’s new Milk Bar Life: Recipes & Stories. Christina is the chef and co-owner of Momofuku Milk Bar, and will be one of the judges on MasterChef’s new season starting in a few weeks.

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Milk Bar Life not only gives some great recipes, but it also tells a bit of Christina’s story of how Momofuku Milk Bar came about, as well as some of the culture of the bakery. The employees do fun things like gather for meals, and they also serve one another, both physically and emotionally- a giant family!

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The recipes in here range from completely normal- Cocktail Meatballs- to totally strange, Fruity-Pebble Meringues with Passion Fruit Curd and Pickle-Juice-Poached fish (ha!). The cookbook is divided into sections that make sense with life- weekend recipes, recipes to cook around the bonfire, craft night recipes, as well as “weak nights” (oh you know the ones). This book is for people who love food, are interested in trying new things or interesting combinations of normal things. Think abstract art for food :).

Christina writes in a lovely, down to earth way. When reading her cookbook, I feel like we’re sitting on a vintage couch in a cozy apartment in a big city. She seems like a creative, brave woman with a love for food and community! So, if you’re up for something new, see if your local library has her cookbook and check it out!

 Thanks to Blogging for Books for the opportunity to review this book!

April Loves

This month has absolutely flown by. Between birthdays, out-of-town visitors, and lots of schoolwork for Jake, we’ve had our days full to the brim.

April Loves

Two of my absolute favorite people had birthdays this month.

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Aly turned 6.

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Anaya turned 2.

IMG_7099We had a super fun party for Aly, invited some of her friends over for a woodland creatures party, and got her ears pierced. She rocked it; didn’t even flinch.

Anaya had no party, just a Curious George cake (above). Must be sad being the youngest and not getting crazy fun celebrations. When she’s older :). We got a slide for her room (consignment sale find!) and it’s the best gift ever. She (and Ada) have used it everyday. I like that it’s just one more way to be active when we have to be cooped up inside.

Three of my favorite PEOPLE came to visit this month.

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Denise and Calvin. They came up to help celebrate the birthdays as well as enjoy our Spring Break with us. We did a lot of outside walking, exploring, biking, basketballing (a word, right?!) and a little ice cream eating :).

My momma. She came up also to celebrate birthdays as well as help me wrangle the kids while Jake was gone to an education conference in Chicago. She made the time go by so quickly. We also did a lot of outside stuff- zoo, park hopping, picnic-eating. We were busy having so much fun that I didn’t take any pictures.

Stuff

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Have I already written about these? I don’t even know, but if I did they are worth a repeat. These brussels sprouts have changed my life. Delicious. Healthy. Delicious. Aly and I eat them warm or cold (we prefer warm) and we will eat them anytime, anywhere. Aly asked for brussels sprouts for breakfast the other day. I mean, how could I say no?!

PicMonkey Collage

I do not shop for myself very often. If I have a few extra dollars in the clothes budget, it’s going to go to some clothes for the kids or for Jake. But, I realized that I really do need a few more pieces of clothes to replace some of my worn out clothes from my early college days (I’m not even joking; I keep clothes forever. If you see me on a regular basis, this won’t surprise you. Whatever. I’m a loyalist- I hang on to those I love UNTIL THE VERY END). All that said, I bought a shirt and dress online that I LOVE and FIT PERFECT. Dresses that fit me are kinda like unicorns- very rare. So, this dress in the picture looks like a super short dress. Well, lucky for me, because now I have a dress that hits just above my knee (I’m not even kidding).

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I found this adorable book garland decorating idea for a party, but I think I’m going to use it for my house  in the kids’ room or above our bookshelves. How cute is this?!

Articles

Daring to Love Your Neighbor: A great challenging article. Daring to love our neighbors may be one of the keys to the world we wish for.

Sometimes, Kids Don’t Need to Share: I think this is an interesting article. More than just the sharing issue, I think this brings into light the fact that we sometimes really rush for our kids be nice and generous and selfless and all of those fantastic qualities… at the ages of 2 and 3 and 4 and 7, without really taking into consideration that they are still learning and growing and their brains are still very much developing. Ease up, momma. The training is long- we’re in for a marathon, let’s not make it a sprint.

Love and Merit: On loving our kids unconditionally- really, and allowing their successes and failures to be completely untied to our deep, affectionate, obvious love for them.

I, as a white mom of two black children, do not share Baltimore’s pain. Instead, I grieve with you: Jen Hatmaker takes on a slightly different kind of writing, and really brings truth to an incredibly difficult, complex situation. I must admit that when I read my first book by Jen, I liked it, but I told my book ladies that I’d probably not actually be her friend in real life. My love for her has only grown since that time, and I feel like she’s been so courageous in using her platform of influence to not back down on the hard issues.

Today I’m linked up with Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into

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