A Little About Me

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Oh. Hey there!

I took last week off from blogging because the weather was fantastic, my husband had a few days off from school, and well, I just needed it. I needed to focus on my family and take care of myself a little bit, and leave everything else to another day. It felt good, but I missed you!

Hey! How are you?

It’s been awhile since I’ve introduced/reintroduced myself, so I thought I’d share a little about me. Here goes. Continue reading

Five Things

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I’ve been listening to some great podcasts lately, so I thought I’d share a couple!

1. That Sounds Fun With Annie F. Downs: Check out episode #23 with Michael Wear. It’s a fantastic interview and the most positive take on politics I’ve heard in maybe two years. Seriously so good. Also, fun fact, I’m super excited to check out his new book, Reclaiming Hope. It’s my next book to review, so stay tuned!

2. The Village Church – Culture Matters: Check out episode #42 with Makoto Fujimura. This podcast really inspired the way I think about art and faith. As someone who has always been a big art lover, I really connected with Fujimura’s ideas on creation, creativity, and faith. At the end of the podcast, I was really interested to hear the hosts’ thoughts on Martin Scorsese’s new film, Silence.

3. Stories Podcast: We’ve never played kid’s music for our kids because, well, it’s horrible. But, when we are in the van together and I want to entertain the kids without putting in a DVD, I rely on this amazing podcast full of fun kid’s stories. It’s great!

4. I started watching The Newsroom with Jeff Daniels on Amazon Prime. OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS. This show is amazing. I don’t know how I haven’t heard about this show before. Honestly, this is one of the most masterfully crafted pieces of entertainment – either from a tv show or movie – that I’ve ever seen. Daniels is brilliant as a lead anchor in a nighttime news show, and the show is so impeccably scripted that each episode leaves me feeling inspired. Also, though it does have strong language, it’s such a relief to find a show that isn’t 100% about sex. I get it. People like to have sex. Can we all just move on? It doesn’t make interesting entertainment for me. This show, though. SLOW. CLAP. Continue reading

Two Children’s Books, Reviewed!

Processed with VSCO with m5 presetI recently signed up to become a book reviewer and I’m looooving the gig. It’s been fun seeing what shows up at my doorstep.

Recently, I received two kids books that I was pretty impressed with, so I thought I’d share my thoughts with you. This isn’t a sponsored post. I was simply given an advanced copy of these books in exchange for my unbiased review. Take a look!

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Same Kind of Different As Me, by Ron Hall & Denver MooreProcessed with VSCO with m5 preset

Denver Moore spent years as a homeless man on the streets of Fort Worth Texas, until he met Debbie and Ron Hall who befriended him and gave him a fresh start in life. Together, they wrote this book and traveled the states, reminding others that we are the “same kind of different,” because we are all different from each other. Their story gives “homeless” a name, a story, and a face.

Same Kind of Different as Me is a touching and inspirational story of compassion, faith, and of the importance of becoming the hands and feet of Jesus. The story is told in a way that is easy for children to understand, but is sure to inspire readers of all ages.

The book is beautifully illustrated by Denver Moore, and would be a wonderful addition to any home library, inspiring us all with the important reminder that, “You can help somebody too.”

I. Loved. This. Book.

It inspired me. It moved me. I can’t wait to read it to my kids.

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Jesus Calling, The International Children’s Bible, with devotions from Sarah YoungProcessed with VSCO with m5 preset

First, let’s start with how the Bible looks. It’s a hard back, with lovely illustrations and regular weighted paper pages. The back of the Bible says it translated at a third grade reading level. Some third graders will be ready to care for this Bible, which looks and feels more like an adult Bible than the heavier weighted pages of a board book geared towards the toddler aged set, but some will not.

The Bible reads like a book, with the chapter and verses clearly marked. I liked that they kept the text simple, both in the translation and in the sense that they kept it free from extra notes or references. The appearance is clean, straightforward, and easy to read.

Scattered throughout the Bible are devotions that start to nudge kids towards understanding and applying the truth of the text. I particularly liked the “Jesus Calling Moments” where a single verse and truth is pulled out to help the little readers understand the heart of the message.

The back of the Bible has a fantastic dictionary, a quick reference guide titled “Where Do I Find It?,” a thoughtfully curated list of God’s promises and memory verses for young readers, and a space for notes.

I loved the translation, and found it easy to read and understand. Although translated at a third grade reading level, it is simple enough for even younger children to grasp if read aloud to them. For example:

The Lord listens when I pray to him.

Psalms 4:3

This Bible would best suit children who are already reading on their own and are ready to start spending time reading for their own personal interest and application.

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So, what did you think? Helpful? Let me know if you’d like to continue hearing my reviews of other books as I receive them. They will cover a variety of topics, genres, and ages.

Happy reading!

Show Me How You Hygge

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Hygge

Have you heard of it?

I’m so in love with this Danish concept and, truth be told, it’s offered some real inspiration for my home and life this winter. The Dane’s created the concept as a way to survive the cold, dark days of winter. Sound familiar? Can I get an amen??? I mean, pass the therapy light and extra large cup of coffee and count me in cause this girl needs her Hygge.

So what is it, you might be asking?

According to the adorable website, Hygge House, Hygge is:

Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is a Danish word that is a feeling or mood that comes from taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, every day moments more meaningful, beautiful or special. Whether it’s making coffee a verb by creating a ritual of making it then lingering over a cup to a cosy evening in with friends to the simple act of lighting a candle with every meal. Hygge is being aware of a good moment whether it’s simple or special.

Some refer to hygge as an “art of creating intimacy” (either with yourself, friends and your home). While there’s no one English word to describe hygge, several can be used interchangeably to describe the idea of hygge such as cosiness, charm, happiness, contentedness, security, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, kinship, and simpleness.

Ummm. Sign me up, sister. Continue reading

A Little Less Talk

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I read recently that sending your lover flowers for Valentine’s Day derives from an old fashioned tradition of sending flowers to communicate a non-verbal message, something that we still do today.

In this day of fast talking, instant access, always connected but never really connecting, constant stream of conversation that is life in the 21st century, perhaps we would all do well to just STOP TALKING so much.

Sure, we have some important messages to communicate. But maybe, just maybe, those messages would be heard the clearest through means other than our voice. A bouquet of flowers. A simple gift. A touch.

They say “talk is cheap,” and perhaps that’s because anyone can talk. It requires a special sort of someone to notice the non-verbal ways that communicate love to your Valentine. Anyone can say ‘I love you,’ but can just anyone show it?

Maybe we could take this Valentine’s Day, and every day, to talk less, notice more, and think of new ways to communicate our love and affection. Ways that are specific to the receiver. How do the best feel loved?

You know how the song goes. “A little less talk and a lot more action.”

You interpret those lyrics as you wish.

Happy Valentine’s Day, rosebuds.

PS Why yes, that IS a skull and cross bones painted on one of Theo’s handmade Valentine’s Day cards. I’m so glad you noticed. We were reading about pirates that day. Theo is the master of integration. 😉 Continue reading

Love Is Gentle

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The other night, I was in the kitchen working on dinner when I overheard a conversation between Theo and Oliver. Theo was telling Oliver that he loved him.

“I love you because I’m gentle to you,” Theo said.

I smiled to myself, because though they weren’t exactly being gentle to each other, I knew what he was getting at. And his heart was in the right place.

We try to steer clear of abstract terms and principles with the kids. It’s all fine and dandy to encourage your kids to say ‘I love you’ to each other, and we do, but it’s best when followed up with an explanation of what love looks like. Otherwise, it remains an abstract term, and it takes kids years before they start to understand abstract thought (most people say around the age of 9).

“Love is gentle,” I tell the boys. It looks like a soft touch, a kind word, a hug when the other person is crying.

Love does this.

Love is that.

This is what it looks like. Continue reading

On Enjoying The Journey

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A common question these days is, “So, how is homeschooling?”

I get the sense that people half expect me to regret my decision. That they wouldn’t be surprised one bit if I broke down in tears and said I hated it. That I couldn’t take one more day of it. And truthfully, that is kind of what I expected to happen. I really didn’t think this would work.

No one is more surprised than me that this is actually pretty awesome.

I want to be frank with you. If homeschooling wasn’t working, I would admit it. I’m not here to sugar coat anything. If you’ve been reading my blog for two days or two years, hopefully one thing you’ve come to expect is my honesty. So trust me when I say, I’m digging this whole homeschooling-unschooling experience.

Homeschooling is hard. It’s requiring a ton of work. And yes, I’m not getting much of a break from the kids.

But.

Guys, I’m having so much fun.  Continue reading

14 Unique Valentine’s Day Gift & Date Ideas

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A Guest Post by Ashley Hicks

Over the last seven and a half years since my husband and I met, we have tried to continually find new ways to show each other our love, devotion, and friendship! We are always up for a new, crazy adventure or just a night in watching sci-fi shows. Since Bekah was so gracious as to lend me her blog for the day, I’ll take the opportunity to share some of the ways my hubby and I have spoiled each other over the years:

  1. Fill a basket with your better-half’s favorite snacks (or drinks or candy or whatever is specific to them). My husband goes crazy for snacks. He can’t get enough! He is easy to please and loves when I randomly bring him home something special to munch on. He loves it even more with it’s a giant basket-worth of things for him to munch on!
  2. Beer connoisseur? Make their brew dreams a reality! You can buy sets of the six most common styles of beer glassware! Here is the same specialty beer glass set we have, and don’t forget to buy six bottles of coordinating beer to go with! I linked to World Market because it’s my favorite spot to find new beer, but a lot of local grocery or liquor stores will have a section for building your own six pack! Also, here’s a handy beer/glass pairing cheat sheet with recommendations for those to need some help figuring out what to fill those glasses with: http://www.craftbeerware.com/beer-glass-types
  3. Are you more of a DIY/kitchen junkie and want to try your hand at a new skillHere is a great recipe for Valentine’s Amaretto Chocolate Truffles and great instructions for chocolate covered strawberries (or, I guess any other fruit or snack item you would like to be covered in chocolate). This one is great for a surprise gift or as a sweet couple’s activity! Bonus points for decorating your own gift  box for the chocolates to go in!

Continue reading

Eight Easy Ways To Say ‘I Love You’

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Confession:

Ok, if I’m really, reeeeally being honest with you, my favorite holiday of the whole year is Valentine’s Day.

You read that right. Valentine’s Day. The day that people love to hate. This makes me SO SAD.

Valentine’s Day is one day out of our whole year where we get to be creative and go out of our way to tell the people we care about most just how much they mean to us. It’s amazing!

So many people say, “I don’t need a holiday to make me do nice things for my significant other.”

To that I say, “You are right! You GET a day to do it!”

Yay you! Yay us! Yay for LOVE!

This year, I’m looking forward to sprinkling a little extra love on the people nearest and dearest to me. I love celebrating the holiday with my kids. We always try to make a few fun crafts and even invite some friends over for heart shaped snacks and treats. My husband doesn’t care whether or not he receives cards (a tragedy, if there ever was one), so I take the opportunity to buy them for my friends. I DO have a few special ways that I treat my husband for Valentine’s Day, though, so if you are struggling for fun a creative ideas, look no further! Also, be sure to check out tomorrow’s post, where my good friend Ashley will share with us a few of her favorite, creative date-night ideas!

Here are a few of my favorite ways that I communicate my love for my main squeeze. Maybe use this Valentine’s Day as a fun excuse to try one or two of these ideas! Continue reading

Five Things

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1. Last night, my husband came in after working late and asked if he could run and get us a snack to enjoy while we watched a show together. That sounded like the best plan ever. He ran and picked us up two Chipotle burrito bowls right before they closed and then returned home for us to relax together on the sofa. It is these simple things that I might have taken for granted in the past, but now, I appreciate so dearly. I love this man. I love our home. I love our life together. And I LOVE CHIPOTLE.

2. I’ve used cloth napkins for as long as I can remember. They save money, are better for the environment, and look so much nicer. I don’t have anything fancy; they’ve all either been thrifted or passed along to me from someone else. My maternal grandmother gave me some beautiful hankies before she passed and I originally intended to add them to my napkin stash, not sure what else to do with them. But then we all got colds and as I don’t keep tissues in the house, I started to reach for the hankies. As with the cloth napkins, they are pretty to look at, save money, and are reusable. I’ve also found them to be much more gentle on the kids’ skin. I’m using her gift in the way they were intended and each time I reach for one I think of her. I think my grandma would like that.

3. I’m almost done reading Little Women and that makes me sad. What a difference it’s been, reading it at this stage of life! I found it to not only be the story I know and love, but also so encouraging and inspiring as a wife and mom. I’ve also been reading Speeches That Changed The World and that has been fascinating. Next up: Eight Flavors; The Untold Story of American Cuisine by Sarah Lohman and Just Kids by Patti Smith.

4. My brother and sister-in-law are coming over for dinner this weekend. I can’t wait to see them and hear all about their baby news (she is due in May).

5. We had a Red Tail Hawk hunting in our backyard all day yesterday. It was so gorgeous and majestic. Then, while the kids and I were in the woods on a walk, we stumbled upon a huge doe, just a few feet in front of us. She startled us and we certainly startled her. The walk was cold but utterly refreshing. Continue reading