Category: Daily Life

The Perfect Chore Checklist (for us)

perfect chore checklist

We finally found a chore checklist that works for us.

Historically, Jake and I haven’t been into charts and checklists and chores for our kids. We have the view that our kids are a part of our family and families work best when everyone is lending a hand. Chores aren’t done for money. They’re simply done because that’s what families gotta do.

While we’re still maintaining that general viewpoint, I knew that with going back to work soon we needed something to help us communicate effectively to them about what they needed to get done. I also needed something that would remind them even when I wasn’t here.


Making a Yearly Family Soundtrack

Make your own family soundtrack

Music is powerful, especially when it comes to memories and emotions.

Prime Examples:

Whenever I hear Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” I think about couple skating with Kyle in 4th grade. I was SO HAPPY that he finally asked me to skate with him, but equally as disappointed because in just a few short weeks I was moving to a new town.

Or Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic” — roller skating in 6th grade. I was very much in the middle of a teenage angst and this song sang right into my poor adolescent heart.  Middle school is hard, y’all.

Truly Madly Deeply by Savage Garden brings me back to high school– I listened to this song on repeat for an entire school year as I was going to sleep.  I’ll spare you the details of my emotions about this one ;).

So there’s that :). (more…)

2016: The Year of Positive Parenting

positive parenting


We’ve had a rough year or two with parenting.

Jake and I started out parenting with a whole lot of energy. Sure we were stressed at different points and made poor choices at others, but overall, we had more than enough patience, compassion, and stamina to parent our kids well.

We were committed to spending a lot of quality time with them, listening, asking good questions, looking behind the behavior into the heart, calmly redirecting and being generally playful.

Somewhere along the way things began to shift.

We got tired.

We got distracted.

We got tired some more.

Our patience grew thin and our words got lazy.


My Favorite 2016 Free Printable Calendars

While you all know how much I’m loving my Erin Condren planner and why in the world would I even need any other calendars around, I have found that at times, it’s really helpful to have a different kind of calendar for an alternative purpose.

We put a big calendar up in our common area so that the kids could see and write family events, outings, and appointments on it.

In past years, I’ve used a printable calendar for blog planning. And life group scheduling, PTO stuff, and prayer coloring.

I think I’m starting to sound like a planning weirdo, but the older I get, the more confident I am that I’m not alone in this organizational tendency. 🙂


That being said, here are my favorite 2016 FREE printable calendars, in no particular order.


New Goals for the New Year: 2016

2016 is already bringing about big changes for our family. We’re facing an exciting semester– Jake is officially a dissertator– which means he no longer has classes, but now is working on his dissertation proposal, IRB stuff, and then lots of reading and research! What does this means for our family this year?

We have way more flexibility in our daily schedule! And guess how we decided to make use of this flexibility?

Welp, I got a full-time job! It was a pretty great surprise. It was one of those situations where we thought maybe I’d start looking for a job over the next 6 months or so, and then a super great opportunity presented itself!

All this to say, my 2016 goals shifted a bit once I found out I got the job. I cut out a bunch of my writing and blogging goals, and while they will still be on the back burner, simmering on low, I’m not sure how reasonable any of that will be with going back to work. I imagine most of my energy going to doing my job well and spending quality time with Jake and the kids. Anything apart from that is bonus stars!

New Goals for the New Year

But, of course, you know how much I love bonus stars, so in that vein, here are my (fun) goals for 2016.


How to Be an Ally



One of the things we talk about with our kids repeatedly is the importance of being a good friend to others. One slice of being a good friend means reaching out to those who are looking for a friend and being kind to those who others are not kind to.

If someone is being bullied on the playground, we tell them that it’s their special job to be a good friend. We talk about what it may feel like to be excluded or to feel lonely. While each of our kids has a different level of empathy, compassion, and courage to reach out on a consistent basis, in general I think they are the kind of kids that look out for others.

We also want them to be in a habit of standing up against bullies– not only for themselves- but for others around them as well. We talk about how this might look like speaking up when others are name-calling. Or if they see another kid getting kicked or hit, they would intervene with words, and if that doesn’t work, to tell an adult in charge. We talk about how all kids deserve respect and kindness simply because they are humans. Our school calls this being an ally.

I also think being an ally is a part of Kingdom-living. (more…)

My 2016 Erin Condren Planner- Let’s Do This!

It’s no secret that I LOVE planners.

I’ve put a lot of hours into searching for the perfect planner over the years. Last year I logged 23 hours before I settled on the Moleskin. I was not disappointed.


Tonight I was telling Jake that I’m starting to get sad about leaving this friend behind. She’s purple and covered with stickers of organizations that I care about. She didn’t have a whole lot of frill but instead was compact and efficient and predictable. Perhaps there has never been a planner that I felt personified me more. Yep, my love for planners is legit.

I AM excited about my 2016 planner though. I’m trying out the Erin Condren planner this year. People I trust promise that I won’t be disappointed. 🙂 


I chose the vertical weekly layout and I must admit- I wish it had more room to write down my agenda and to-do’s every day. But the colors are bright and cheerful and I LOVE the feel and attitude of the planner already!

I stayed up until after midnight on Thursday night watching videos and reading blogs about how others use their Erin Condren planners. Not only did I add some great ideas to my new Erin Condren Pinterest board, but all that research made me feel way more normal in my obsession. Did you know that some people have ENTIRE BLOGS dedicated to planners?!

Awesome DIY Erin Condren Hacks:

In addition to my lovely planner, I splurged on a removable, dry-erase menu planner that I will use as my bookmark (AWESOME) as well as some extra personalized stickers that I can slap on the page instead of rewriting the same thing every week (Life Group, Bible Study, PTO meeting, etc.). I wasn’t quite sure which ones to get since I haven’t used stickers before, but figured for $2, I can’t go wrong!

If you’re thinking about splurging for an Erin Condren planner, feel free to use my affiliate link and get $10 off your first purchase! And for you EC veterans, let me know your best tips and tricks to maximize planning potential! 🙂

The-Not-So-Perfect Life: Advent Edition

Not So Perfect Life Advent

For Advent this year we’re keeping it simple.

After dinner, we read a chapter of the Jesus Storybook Bible and take a link off of a paper Advent chain given to us by our church. Each link has a discussion question or a small game/activity to do. Easy, right?

We missed December 1st altogether. Nothing says intentionality and awesomeness like missing the very first day.

On December 2nd, we played a hot potato game and tears were involved for one kid. And when we talked about what they were excited about for Christmas, several said presents, which is ironic, because I just posted about how we DON’T EVEN DO PRESENTS ON CHRISTMAS CHILDREN!!

And yesterday I stopped reading mid-sentence to say (loudly), “Can’t you guys just sit and listen to a short story for 5 seconds???!!”

Advent memories, baby.


Why My Kids Will Be Getting Toys for New Years

toys for new years

At our house, the kids get to open their gifts on New Years Day instead of Christmas. While it’s only a slight variation, it’s one that matters to us. For our family, Christmas is about waking up to Jesus in a manger, not gifts under a tree.

We also recognize that gifts are an expression of love to our kids and to each other, so we shifted the idea of gifts to the New Year. It’s a fun way to start the new year!

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s become best-practice to give experiences to our kids instead of toys. You know, because toys are wasteful and experiences create memories that last forever. But, despite the trend towards giving vacations, experiences, lessons, and money towards an education fund, our kids will be getting (three!) toys under the tree this year. Some of them will be plastic and all of them have zero educational value. And we’re happy with that. 

I can admit that I like the sentiment behind the “non-toy” gifts. Less stuff. Less waste. Simple.

But I resist the trend for several reasons:


November 2015 Loves


Today I’m sitting in my in-laws house, happy and full of food and family. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, mostly because, well, food (duh), but also because the whole center of the holiday is focused on gratitude, family, and just hanging out.

November was a stressful month overall for the family. Jake finished his prelims and is now waiting on feedback from his committee. A favorable response would mean that Jake has moved from coursework to “All But Dissertation”– a huge step in the doctoral student journey. The sense of progress is mentally energizing for both the student and the family :).

We also had a couple birthdays this month….