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! 🙂

Book Review: Parable Treasury by Liz Curtis Higgs

parable treasury

The Parable Treasury (by Liz Curtis Higgs) is a compilation of 4 full-length books, one for each season of the year.

In each story, we’re given a life lesson, using examples from the changing seasons.

  • The Parable of the Lily tells a story of Easter forgiveness.
  • The Sunflower Parable uses harvest time to talk about how we can share God’s love with others.
  • The Pumpkin Patch Parable shows how God can make us new from the inside out.
  • Pine Tree Parable (which is my favorite) is a story about generosity.

Each of the stories includes verses of Scripture at the bottom, connecting each part of the story to a Scripture verse. While some of the verses work, others are a stretch. I get nervous about using Scripture in this way– pulling it out of context and relating it to something that is completely unrelated. For example, in the Pine Tree Parable, the text on the page says, “The next holiday season brought more neighbors to the farm. The perfect tree was taller than ever.” The Scripture at the bottom? “So the tree was taller than all the other trees in the field. Ezekiel 31:5” Do you know what happens just 5 verses later of that chapter? The wicked tree gets handed over to the enemies for its wickedness and pride, and the foreign nations cuts it down. Whoops! Pretty sure the editors should have thought that one through a little better.  🙂

Some may argue that these kinds of things won’t really matter. But I disagree. I think these types of elements of books teach kids to use the Scriptures to support what they want to support instead of looking at the true meaning of the passages. If our kids see this type of thing enough times, they may start thinking that by slapping a verse onto something, regardless of what it really means, will add God’s magic fairy dust to their lives. I want something much more for them than that.

Higgs has a gentle way of sharing wholesome stories that children who are interested in nature can relate to. While I really love the Pine Tree Parable story, I’m not as big of a fan as the other stories. They’re certainly winsome, but a little to wrapped up in a bow for my tastes.

Overall, I would not recommend this book. There are plenty of other good children’s books out there that don’t proof text with Scripture!

I received this book for free from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. 


Every Little Thing (A Grown-Up Coloring Book Review)

I have always loved coloring.

Smurfs. Strawberry Shortcake. Lisa Franke. I even had a Vincent Van Gogh coloring book that I bought at the art museum in my early 20s when grown-up coloring books wasn’t even cool yet. #trendsetter

Every Little Thing Coloring Book

Every Little Thing is a fun new coloring book by Payton Cosell Turner, an acclaimed artist, designer, and owner of Flat Vernacular.

If you’re not into that industry, you probably have never heard of her. That’s totally fine. I hadn’t either.

The pages are kaleidoscope-patterned so it kinda feels like you’re coloring funky wallpaper. Lots of hand drawn animals and vegetation fill the pages, but they’re paired with funny objects. Alligators and radios. Cats with cell phones and calculators. Panda bears with pinwheels and gumball machines.

While I totally would not want this wall paper up in my house (sorry, Payton), I do like the uniqueness of it. And while it’s not my favorite coloring book out there, it fits a unique homegrown style.


I received this book from Blogging for Books for my honest opinion.