Parenting as an Art (and sometimes art gets messy)

Make your own-3

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared an update on our Year of Positive Parenting.

To be honest, it’s been really hard.

There’s nothing more I want in life than to get this parenting thing “right”. And of course, the reality of parenting is that there is no “right”. Math problems have right answers. Jeopardy questions have right answers. Parenting does not have right answers. (more…)

What I’m Into {April 2016}

What I'm Into-4I’m sitting here at the computer in a sweatshirt, jeans and a big cozy blanket laying across my lap. My cup of steaming vanilla tea is warming me because I refuse to turn the heat on and warm up my 65 degree house. It’s 40 degrees outside even though we’re nearly in May.

It’s hard to believe that last weekend we were running around the soccer fields in t-shirts and shorts, eagerly talking about all the things we’re going to do now that we’re for sure done with winter.

My solution to all this whining? I’m going to rewind 3 days and pretend we’re still in 60/70 degree weather and tell you about all the goodness that comes along with warmer weather.

First of all, April means birthdays in our family. We got to celebrate the lives of two of my favorite people in the world: (more…)

A Bible Project I’m Incredibly Excited About

Jake and I spent just 7 short months living in Nairobi, Kenya, but the land and the friends we made still hold a special place in our heart. Jake and I went to East Africa as learners. We wanted to get to know the people, the culture, and learn what it looked like to follow Jesus in their culture. While we had ideas of eventually living in East Africa long-term, we knew we needed to come and learn first.

We came to this conclusion about following Jesus in East Africa: It looks the same as here in the mid-west. And it looks different.

When we lived in Nairobi, I loved going to the bookstore on campus and finding books that I was familiar with – C.S. Lewis, N.T. Wright. But after I was there a bit longer, I began to realize that there was a lot more Western influence in that bookstore than African. I started asking questions.

These conversations resulted in mixed feelings for me. While I was so glad that they had great material by people I really enjoy, I was also sad that there was so much western influence — how much of this influence is for the good and how much is for the bad? (more…)

What We’re Reading (April 2016)

WhatWE're Reading

As we head into spring, our book lists continue to grow. Warm weather doesn’t mean less reading, it just means reading in different places (i.e. on a blanket on the sideline of a soccer game or under a big shady tree!)  Here’s what we’re reading this month!

My Reading List

The Sin of Uncertainty

Peter Enns

In his new book, Peter Enns explores what goes wrong when our need to “know the right things” is placed in the center of our faith experience, and he encourages readers to consider that the pursuit of right doctrine and right views might be distracting them from the very person they are supposed to be trusting in. I’m over halfway through and this book is excellent, written in Peter’s typical thoughtful, clever, and down to earth way. I’ll be writing a full review on this by the end of the month, so stay tuned!




I Got Stitched!

After spending months seeing some of my favorite people model their Stitch Fix boxes on Facebook, I decided to jump in and give it a try. I had some extra birthday money, and thought- why not?

Here’s how it works:

  1. You sign up for a Stitch Fix account and walk through the steps. They ask you a bunch of questions about your clothing sizes and style preferences. It probably takes 15-20 minutes.
  2. You choose when you want your first box delivered.
  3. You choose how often you want a box delivered (every month? every 3 months?)
  4. You wait! 🙂

My waiting ended TODAY. I’ve been down with a cold, and so when Jake came in with my Stitch Fix box, I had a very important question to answer. Would I get off the couch to try these clothes on? Or just wait until tomorrow because I had big plans of laying on the couch all night and watching Gilmore Girls after the kids went to bed?

Stitch fix won my internal battle, and here is what is inside!


Glimmer Girls: A Dolphin Wish {children’s book review}


Aly is in arm’s reach of turning 7, and her love for fiction is as strong as ever. While she loves playing outside, hanging with her friends, and playing with her siblings, the day would not be complete without her snuggling under her covers as the sun goes down to either read or listen to a good story.

As Aly’s interest in her faith gradually increases, I’ve been trying to find some interesting, faith-based books that would also nurture her soul. I’m at the beginning stages of this, and so the first series we’re trying out is the Glimmer Girls. This series is by Natalie Grant, and it’s a set of stories about the adventures of 3 sisters- twins, Mia and Maddie, and their little sister Lulu- as they travel around the country with their famous singing momma, their producer dad, and their nanny, Miss Julia.

[The general parallel to the author’s life is not lost on me– Natalie is a famous christian music artist who has 3 daughters- two of them being twins. I think it’s funny that the stories mirror that part of her life, and I can’t help but wonder if these adventure stories started out as bedtime stories for her girls!]


In this particular story, A Dolphin Wish (book #2), the family is on vacation in San Diego when they hear that the animal handlers at Captain Swashbuckler’s Adventure Park are having trouble keeping the animals in their right habitats. The girls smell a mystery, and they jump in, while getting into mischief along the way.

I read a good portion of it to Aly aloud, and while she was happy to cuddle up and read with me, we were both having trouble getting into the book. The writing is just fine, and the characters seem quite likable, but we both felt like it just couldn’t hold our interest. We decided to circle back around to this series in a couple years, but until then, we continue our quest for some interesting, faith-based books!

Are there any faith-based fiction books that your son or daughter has really enjoyed?? We’d love to hear about them!

Thanks to Booklook Bloggers for the review copy! 


The Book to Read When Your House is a Hot Mess

Once upon a time, before I had a cute hubby and a gaggle of kids, I was a really tidy person. Everything in its place and a place for everything? Oh yes indeed.

These days? I just can’t keep up.

I tell myself that a messy house is the necessary byproduct of fun and creativity and love. And I can believe it for a couple days.


But soon the adorable lovey dovey cards and paper bag puppets and castle cardboard boxes suddenly transform, and where I once saw creative exploration, I now see trash and chaos. My blood pressure starts rising and my brain feels like it’s going to explode.

It’s real weird.

I get a huge burst of energy and immediately begin tidying and cleaning like I’m on 2x speed. When the muttering under my breath begins, Jake and the kids recognize that the end has come. Jake rallies the kids and family clean-up begins.

The other day I was telling Jake that if we had less stuff, I’m SURE we’d have to tidy less. Jake wasn’t so convinced. He told me that we’d probably be tidying less in about 15 years when we no longer have 6 people living under one roof.

Good point.

Nevertheless, I’ve been reading up on the art of tidying. And who else would I go to than Marie Kondo, who wrote a bestselling book on this very topic a couple years ago called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She shocked the world with the preposterous idea that the key to keeping a tidy house is to have. less. stuff. Everything should have a place, and everything you own should bring you joy.

Spark Joy

Recently, Kondo published a follow-up book called Spark Joy: an illustrated master class on the art of organizing and tidying up. In this book, she gets into the details of HOW to declutter and then organize every part of the house, as well as teaching us to recognize what brings us joy.

The key to purging is knowing what to keep and what to get rid of. For the KonMari method, the secret is this: hone your sensitivity to joy. 

Do you have some clothes that you wear, but always feel uncomfortable or self-conscious in them? Get rid of them.

Do you have 6 ice cream scoopers, 3 pizza slicers, and 8 wooden spoons? Keep what you need (one of each?) and get rid of the rest. It will bring you joy to open your drawer and not have to dig through a gazillion utensils to get to the one you need.

Is there a sweatshirt you own that is SO UGLY, but you love wearing it? Keep it! It brings you joy.

After figuring out what items to keep and what to get rid of, Kondo equips readers with detailed methods of storage, organization, and folding.

She gives detailed descriptions and pictures of how to fold everything- regular shirts, shirts with decorations, tights, socks, UNDERWEAR for goodness sake.

She also offers some great advice on all the miscellaneous items that we have no idea what to do with. My personal trouble spots include jewelry, papers, and toys. I can’t seem to get a wrangle on a good organization method for any of them. Here’s what I learned:

Jewelry but no jewelry box? Place in dividers inside of a top drawer.

Papers? Discard everything. If you haven’t looked at the papers in several years, you’re probably not going to ever again.

But toys? Ah ha. She doesn’t offer a solution;  she only calls attention to the fact that toy organization is truly complex.

Spark Joy has given me some great ideas on how to tidy up, and has given me the  encouragment I need to give away some old clothes, throw out a crate full of magazine articles (organized by theme, of course), and think more broadly about what kind of home brings me joy.

The truth is, a home that’s full of the people I love brings me joy. Even if they are a bit messy.


What I’m Into {March 2016}

What I'm Into-2

He is Risen!

Easter (or Resurrection Day, as we like to call it around here) has become my favorite holiday over the past few years. It’s too easy for me to forget that this tiny portion of life here on earth is not all there is, and celebrating the empty tomb reminds me of the crazy hope I have that one day, this will all be made right.

Racism. War. Sex-trafficking. Premature death. Hunger. Bombings. Relational Strife. Competition.

It will all be made right. Praise. God.

In the meantime, we wait. And we gather together to remind ourselves of this good news each week. I used to kinda guffaw at people when they talked about how they needed to go to church on Sundays to “fill up their tank.” I thought, surely your tank can be full ANYTIME and why don’t you just spend time each day filling up on your own?

But, it’s true in the way that we NEED each other. We need to be reminded of the hope. Of the joy. Of the good news. Of God’s great love and compassion for us. Our human hearts have short attention spans, especially in particularly difficult seasons of life. I’m so thankful for community.


On a totally disconnected note, I’m sharing some of my favorite things from this past month. How’s that for a creative transition?! 


Things I’m Loving Around the House


green tea
Barney and Sons Coconut Green Tea // I’ve drank this coconut green tea everyday for the past 3 weeks. It’s heavenly.

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 3.34.04 PM

My Style Pinterest Board // I finally joined StitchFix because

  1. I have zero time to shop
  2. My clothes are getting pretty worn out, and
  3. When I do have time to shop, I have a hard time finding things that fit me well because I’m so short :).

We’ll see what they can come up with! In the meantime, I’ve been having fun creating my Style Board on Pinterest!

Easy Chicken Pad Thai // While this did take the hubby more than 30 minutes to make, it was delicious and used fairly simple ingredients.


Apps I’m Loving


Avokiddo’s ABC Ride // My sweet Anaya is nearly three and can identify one letter of the alphabet. This has nothing to do with her intelligence (I mean, I’m guessing), but 99% with Jake and I’s lack of intentionality. Although, now that I think about it, buying this app still doesn’t reflect any real amount of intentional parenting on our part (“Here sweetie, play this game.”). Whoops. 🙂 Anyway, this is a good one.


Books I’m Loving

Carry On

Carry On, Warrior (Glennon Melton) // I know, I know. Why have I only just now read this fantastic book? The truth is- I tried to read it a year ago and couldn’t get into it. Looking back, I think I thought my life was going pretty good and I just couldn’t relate. While nothing horrible has happened since then, God’s been opening my eyes to how incredibly fragile we all are. Oh how we need voices like Glennon’s that will help us to see how much we’re loved, and remind us that living graceful, authentic lives where we don’t have to strive for this THING (whatever that magical thing is in our lives– I have lots of things, ugh) is actually better than having that THING.


Articles I’m Loving

Sometimes We Just have to Quit // “In high school, you’re successful because you take on and do so much. But that’s not what makes you a success — or even an interesting person — in adult life.”

How to Create Stunning Blog Post Title Images // While I obviously haven’t put this into practice, I like the idea. To the dry erase board!

My to-do list and my wish list // This shift in perspective is huge.

Pineapples and Flamingos // These free planner stickers are adorable and they remind me of warmth (please, spring temperatures, come soon!!).

5 Weak Words to Avoid and What to Use Instead // I need to write these on a post-it next to my computer. 🙂

The Magical Key to Doing It All // No one is doing it all. We don’t have to either. If you need permission to just slow down and do less, read this!


On My Blog this Month

The Gift Drawer: 20 Birthday Gifts for Under $10 // Gift ideas for all the elementary school kids in your life!

Tripping Our Way Towards Gender Equality // Parenting with an eye towards gender equality. As if parenting isn’t hard enough ;).


Today I’m linking up over at What I’m Into on Leigh Kramer’s blog!

Tripping Our Way Towards Gender Equality


On the way home from dinner tonight, Aly was telling us how a classmate gave her candy in celebration of Polish Girl’s Day.

Isn’t it so fun that girls in Poland have their own day? But that got us wondering– is there a Polish Boy’s day too? And of course, since it is International Women’s Day, I was quick to tell them all about it and the kids were intrigued. Why did such a day exist? What about an International Men’s Day?

These kinds of conversations are some of my favorites to have with the kids. I love their natural curiosity and how unhindered they are in talking about the world as they see it. I’m also curious as to how they perceive the world. I know the version of the world I’m trying to point out to them; but as we all know, it doesn’t always translate how we hope.   (more…)

The Gift Drawer: 20 Birthday Party Gift Ideas for Under $10


Your child comes bursting out of the school doors and runs to you. In her hand is a bright purple envelope and as she climbs into the car, all out of breath, she excitedly tells you that one of her classmates invited her to a birthday party!

It’s the 3rd one this month.

I know some parents’ mojo is to ignore the invitation altogether. Grace and peace to you.

But us? If we can get our kid there and they want to go, we try to make it happen.

Because, well, you know this already- I love birthdays. I love celebrating others. So the idea of a kid throwing a birthday party, only to find a bunch of his friends aren’t going to be there? Soul crushing. And while I can’t help what other families do, our kids will be there, rain or shine. For better or for worse. It’s what friends do.

Which leads me to the topic at hand- presents. (more…)