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.


Review: Longing for Paris


Sarah Mae is a mom that many of us can relate to.

She loves her hubby and her kids like mad. But sometimes being around them all day, day in and day out, makes her feel like she’s GOING MAD! These are the times she dreams of heading to Paris and drink deep of all of the wonderful art, food, history and overall culture.

I think many of us have our “Paris” — a place or situation that has captured our curiosity, even maybe as early as our childhood– that we “go to” when life feels mundane. Australia. Disney World. The Mountains. The Beach. Some of us are super lucky that we get to GO to those places, but others of us are stuck only dreaming.

longing for paris (more…)

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.


What We’re Reading (January 2016)

December flew by and I had no time to share our favorite fascinating books! Here it is, nearing the middle of January, and I’m FINALLY sitting down to finish this post.

The kids took a 2 week reading hiatus last month– Christmas was filled with a lot of non-reading fun like playing with cousins and overdosing themselves on screen time. Now that we’re back from all of the holiday festivities and almost into the full-swing of school, their reading appetite has increased!

Sometimes even the most avid readers need some time to miss reading. 😉

What We're Reading-2



Whatever is Lovely: A Coloring Book for Reflection and Worship {REVIEW}

For the past week or two, my family has been on the road, visiting family just outside the flood plains on Missouri. While on vacation, things are a bit more lax. Kids get a bit more screentime than normal. They eat a little bit more and a little more junkier than normal. And since I’m not at my house and don’t feel the pressure of “doing one more thing” when I have some downtime, I also take the opportunity to color a lot more than normal :).

This morning, Ada, Anaya, and I spent an hour or two sitting around Grandma’s kitchen table, coloring in our new coloring books while hanging out with Grandma and Uncle Brycey.

One of my new ones is called Whatever is Lovely: A Coloring Book for Worship and Reflection. It’s my first worship-themed coloring book, and I really like it!

whatever is lovely


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! 🙂