DIY: Micah 6:8 Hand and Footprint Wall Hanging

One of my favorite Scripture verses is Micah 6:8. “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

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I happen to have three kids so I loved letting them each have a part in making this fun wall-hanging (including my little sweet baby). My baby lent his footprints, my daughter did the handprints, and my oldest made the heart with his fists. You can modify however you need to fit the number of children in your family.

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1. Gather supplies. You will need three 10” canvases (size can be changed if your kids are older/larger), paint (background color and print color), sponge brush, paint pens, ribbon, ruler, scissors and hot glue gun. I used leftover paint from my kitchen as the background so it matches my walls perfectly.
2. Paint background with sponge brush. Kids can do this part. Make sure to get the edges. Dark colors may require two coats. Allow ample time for drying completely.
3. Paint hands for handprint and press thoroughly onto canvas. One child could do both prints. Several children could do one print each if you have a larger family.
4. Paint feet (or foot) for footprint and press thoroughly onto canvas. If you don’t have a baby (think small foot), you may consider having only one footprint running lengthwise along the canvas.
5. Paint pinkie sides of hands, have student hold in heart shape, and press onto canvas. You can also outline the heart. If you child prefers, you could use a stencil to draw a heart or even freehand. There are tons of options on this one.
6. Add writing with a paint pen. I like the metallics. Different translations say “Do justly,” “Do justice,” “love mercy,” “love kindess,” etc. Choose whichever you prefer. I allowed my oldest son to freehand in cursive (after some practice on scrap paper) and my daughter to trace dotted print letters. I did the lettering on my baby’s foot canvas. You can handle divvying up writing responsibilities however you like.
7. Turn canvases over and glue ribbons along backs. I used a ruler to measure the space between canvases and ribbons so it would be equal. Cut a small ribbon hook to put on back if you want to hang over a nail. I mounted mine to the side of my cabinet with special wall mounts.
8. Enjoy remembering to honor God daily each time you see your children’s creation.

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I received no monetary compensation for this giveaway. The opinions are my own. I did receive a copy of Fast Transcripts to try. I hope you like it as much as I do. Good luck!

Linking up at: Literacy Musing Monday, Inspire Me MondayMom 2 Mom, Mama  MomentsManic Mondays,Life of Faith,  Raising Homemakers, Titus 2sdaysMissional Women,  Wise Woman, Tell It To Me Tuesdays, Works for me Wednesdays,  Coffee and Conversation,Hearts for HomeMom’s Library, The Mommy Club, and Grace and Truth.

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Birthday Blessings from Ugly Forks and a Tacky Cake

I had the best birthday cake plan ever. Now I’m no cake artist so it certainly wasn’t the fanciest plan ever, but it was the best from this cake-challenged Mama. (And it didn’t even include ugly, white Dollar Tree forks!)

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After pursuing numerous DIY posts and recipes, I stumbled across the cutest little minon cookies ever and SO simple. “I’ve got this one,” I thought. Yellow face, candy eye pieces, a little black icing for the mouth. Easy Peasy Lemon-squeezy (as my kids are fond of saying).

One problem. Dear Daughter had other ideas. She’d already asserted her uniqueness in Dollar Tree, begging me to exchange the lovely pink Happy Birthday plates and coordinated tablewear I’d selected for mismatched light and dark blue plates with white forks that scream, “We are really cheap white Dollar Tree forks.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly happy to use those nicely coordinated 24-pack-matching Dollar Tree forks, but really? The super-ugly, plain ones that come in packages of 48?
Okay. Not something to fight over. She likes mismatched blue. Mismatched blue we use. She likes the cheapest forks. The cheapest forks we use.

On to the minion…or not.

“I want an American Girl cake with pink frosted words and a big star” she said. Only one problem. The words are about five million and two letters longer than I could hope to fit onto a cake. (I’m cake challenged – remember?) She had in mind elegant trim, and elegant I cannot do.

“How about putting some of your American Girl Happy Meal toys on a chocolate layer cake?” I suggest, hoping she’ll go for it.

She dashes upstairs and I relax. Whew! No lettering this year.

Um. What is that armload of mismatched figurines I see? She’s trotting downstairs with every imaginable toy tucked into the basket she’s made with the hem of her dress. How am I gonna handle this one?

Helpful Hubby to the rescue! Daddy carefully explains that Grace can decorate her cake however she likes BUT placing every toy she owns on top will make a giant mess.
The reasoning wheels start to turn, and she cheerfully-enough selects just five female characters for her cake, including a fairly giant Happy Meal Furby and Hello Kitty.

“Honey,” I say, expanding on Daddy’s logic. “You did a great job narrowing things down, but none of the toys can be giant. Let’s make some changes.”

Again, logic wheels turn, and she selects a tiny My Little Pony and mini-Berentstain Bear to replace the offending Furby and Kitty.

Finally, here’s something we can work with. I plop the coordinating number SIX candle and Happy Birthday sign she selected on our cheap fork shopping trip. She begins setting her favorite little people around the cake. Add in a few toothpicks to prop up some leaning bears and ponies. Voila. We have a cake.

She’s beaming and suddenly my opinion is revolutionized. In an instant, the tacky cake is no longer tacky. It represents what my daughter holds dear and it will be forever remembered in our family as the “My Favorite Things” cake.

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Instead of ugly, I see beautiful. I’m reminded of Proverbs 9:6.
“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”(NASB)

I had certainly planned. Coordinated tableware. A lovely cake. A perfect fit for her princess self. But as I’d listened to my daughter and her desires, God directed my steps toward what she wanted.

I’m so glad I listened. They’re God’s children. Not ours. He has graciously entrusted us with them for a time. Our job is to train them as they grow into the people He wants them to be.

Please share about a time you’ve let God redirect your plans and the results.

Linking up at: Literacy Musing Monday, Inspire Me MondayMom 2 Mom, Mama  MomentsManic Mondays,Life of Faith,  Raising Homemakers, Titus 2sdaysMissional Women,  Wise Woman, Tell It To Me Tuesdays, Works for me Wednesdays,  Coffee and Conversation,Hearts for HomeMom’s Library, The Mommy Club, and Grace and Truth.

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Final Friday Family Faves: July 2015 Edition

*This post contains affiliate links to books we love.

What do our favorite books all have in common this month? They’re all children’s books. Yes, even my husband made his choice from the children’s bookshelf this July!

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Hunter (Daddy) loves Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: Deluxe Hardcover Classic (Puffin Classics). He’s enjoyed reading it nightly with the children and discovering the original tales behind many Disney Classic movies.

Leslie’s winner is The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall. We listened to the audio version read by Susan Denaker, and I cannot rave enough about what a wonderful reader she is. Each character has unique voicing, which brings the book to life. The author’s use of metaphor stirs the imagination in a remarkable fashion. She is one of the most vivid writers I have read. Birdsall has motivated me to use even more description in my own writing. Even though this story featured four female protagonists, my son hung on every word. This is the second book in the series. We’ve already started listening to the first and can’t wait to hear them all!

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Archie (7.5) ranked 100 Deadliest Things on the Planet as his favorite, making this the second month in a row a nonfiction book by Anna Claybourne claims top honors from my son. This book includes facts about animals, plants, weather events, and more! Information is presented in a compelling yet not gruesome or overly dramatic way.

Grace (6) was crazy about Grace (American Girl Today) by Mary Cassanova. We read the book aloud then watched the movie together. While the movie is cute, the book is definitely better. My Grace was enamored with protagonist Grace Thomas’ can-do spirit. It helps that they share the same hobby – baking! My only complaint is that Grace acted more grown up than any nine-year-old I’ve ever met.

Grant (15 months) is enamored with any bath book. He turns the pages carefully then chucks the whole thing across the room as hard as he can and repeats the process many times. I’m just thankful the soft covers and pages don’t cause any damage to the furniture or innocent bystanders.

*****

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*I was provided a free subscription to Fast Transcripts. Opinions offered are my own.

Linking up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Posted in Final Friday Family Faves, Literature | 4 Comments

Enter to Win Fast Transcripts Giveaway

Are you stressed out about preparing, updating, and sending out your homeschooler’s high school transcript? Are you concerned your computer will crash, and you’ll lose everything? Worry no more! Try Fast Transcripts available through the Homeschool Legal Defense Association store.

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While I’ve got a few years until my oldest child starts high school, I love being prepared now. I was blown away by how simple Fast Transcripts is to use, and I am so glad that transcript preparation is one concern I can take off the table.

What does Fast Transcripts look like? Here’s the sample I prepared:

Fast Transcripts Screen Shot

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I received no monetary compensation for this giveaway. The opinions are my own. I did receive a copy of Fast Transcripts to try. I hope you like it as much as I do. Good luck!

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Five Great Skills My Five-year-old Learned

My princess is turning six this week. It’s been a joy to watch her grow and change. As we raise her, we are striving diligently to cultivate growth in a variety of areas including spiritual, physical, emotional, academic, domestic/future-homemaking, athletic, family relationship, social, and presentation. I’ve selected five of my favorite skills she’s achieved to highlight.

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As you read, I  hope you will take a moment and celebrate your own child’s milestones from this year – whatever they may be. Not every five-turning-six-year-old needs to hit the same milestones. God has created all of our children wonderfully unique with different strengths and talents. Let’s not compare our children to each other. Instead, let’s use those natural giftings to develop well-rounded children who bring glory to Jesus.

Grace’s Top Five skills:

Skill #1 (Academic) Reading

What a life skill! It has literally opened up a whole new world. She uses the skill to memorize Bible verses on her own, and she has even read some of God’s Word by herself. Being more able to entertain herself is a nice bonus.

Skill #2 (Future-homemaking) Mopping floor

This chore has helped her make real contributions to our family. She actually enjoys the work  and the praise she gets from a job well done.

Skill #3 (Athletic) Swimming skills

While this is her second season on swim team, she made huge strides in becoming competitive this year. Not only is confident swimming a life-survival skill, it opens up the door to tons of fun!

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Skill #4 (Family) Entertaining baby

Grace has become quite the little Mama’s helper. She entertains the baby, feeds him, and performs various other helper tasks. My heart is touched by the way she is learning to care for others.

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Skill #5 (Presentation) Presenting herself through recitals

Through participating in piano and ice skating recitals this year, Grace has learned how to properly present herself to others and gained appropriate self-confidence.

What skills are you celebrating today? Please share in the comments.

Link parties I love:  Literacy Musing MondayMom 2 Mom, Mama  MomentsManic Mondays,Life of Faith,  Raising Homemakers, Titus 2sdaysMissional Women,  Wise Woman, Tell It To Me Tuesdays, Works for me Wednesdays, Coffee and Conversation,Hearts for HomeMom’s Library, The Mommy Club, and Grace and Truth.

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We Won Great Prizes Reading + The Cul-de-Sac Kids Series Review

**This post contains affiliate links to books we love.

Anticipation was building, building, building. My kids were reading, reading, reading.

Finally, the day arrived. We headed over to Family Christian Stores and picked up our cool, summer reading program prizes.

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I am amazed by how generous the store is! The program requirements are relatively simple. Children are only required to read six books and fill out brief, three-question reports on each book. They are rewarded with $10 gift certificates usable on any store merchandise.

The children’s books were 25% off the day we went, and we were also allowed to claim that discount. This allowed my daughter to select THREE Berenstain Bears books, including one hardback anthology called The Berenstain Bears Lessons in Love (Berenstain Bears/Living Lights).

My son chose two Cul-de-Sac Kids books plus More Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids. We were also invited to participate again for more prizes!

Since The Cul-de-Sac Kids series by Beverly Lewis is one of my favorites for younger readers, I am providing a REVIEW:

The Cul-de-sac Kids Books 1-6 (Boxed Set)

What’s it about?

Throughout 24 books, The Cul-de-Sac Kids series highlights the adventures of neighborhood children from Blossom Hill Lane as they learn real-life lessons in faith and friendship.

The things I love:

  1. It satisfies all of my ten standards for evaluating children’s literature with a few minor caveats. (The characters could be better developed in a longer book, but Beverly Lewis packs as much development in as possible throughout the relatively short stories. Vocabulary is kept at a pretty basic level, which might be a tiny ding off my enriching vocabulary standard.)
  2. The books teach explicit lessons based on Scripture in a fun way. The young characters often discover these lessons on their own without adult help, which keeps them from seeming preachy. For example, in the Mystery Mutt (The Cul-de-Sac Kids #21) (Book 21), the young Stacey Henry initiates a challenge for each Cul-de-Sac Club member to develop a Fruit of the Spirit in his or her own life.
  3. The books feature both male and female characters to make them more appealing for children of both genders.
  4. Plot conflicts are not overly dramatic. I like younger children to read books free from major drama and unnecessary angst. The antagonists are appropriate for young readers.
  5. Adults in the story are presented in a positive light, and children interact with them in a respectful manner. Although the adults may have imperfections, they are not treated as buffoons or made fun of.
  6. Although the stories were written in the late nineties and early 2000s, they do not feel dated. The author did an excellent job of using a timeless style. (I can overlook a book with CDs instead of MP3s when that’s the only thing dating it.)

The things I would change:

  1. Some details deviate substantially from reality. For example, in the first book, protagonist Abby Hunter’s family adopts children from Korea. They are supposed to adopt girls, but they are accidentally sent boys. The Hunters think about sending them back but eventually decide to keep them. In reality, adoption processes are extremely stringent, and the wrong children would not be sent by mistake. While the boys are heartwarming, they continue to speak broken English throughout the entire series. The writing does not reflect how their speech would improve as time goes on.
  2. The suggested age range is slightly off. The series is recommended for ages seven to ten. The stories are fairly short, and the situations and character interactions are a bit simplistic for many nine- and ten-year-old readers. Most children like to read about characters a few years older. A six- to eight-year-old range would be more accurate.

Recommended? YES! Pick up some books for your younger children. They’re sure to enjoy!

Linking up at  Literacy Musing MondayMom 2 Mom, Mama  MomentsManic Mondays,Life of Faith,  Raising Homemakers, Titus 2sdaysMissional Women,  Wise Woman, Tell It To Me Tuesdays, Works for me Wednesdays, Coffee and Conversation, Hearts for HomeMom’s Library, The Mommy Club, and Grace and Truth.

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Let all that you do be done in love

“All You Need Is Love.” Definitely a favorite song of mine! While The Beatles came up with a timeless tune, they certainly did not invent the love-is-sufficient concept.

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In Matthew 22 Jesus clearly articulates the first and second greatest commandments:

Love the Lord your God

Love your neighbor as yourself.

I love how He follows up the teaching. “All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” (v. 40). Wait a minute. All we need is love to follow the commands? That is the clear teaching.

Wow! That really cuts the quantity of rules I need to follow every day and that I need to make my kids follow. If we’re loving each other, we’re seeking the best for each other, being patient with each other, using kind words with each other, serving each other, and a million other wonderful things.

I don’t really have to say, “Don’t pester your brother.” Pestering is not love. “Don’t selfishly grab the biggest piece of cake for yourself.” Selfishness is not love.

This is a big idea! A big, big idea! How exactly are we implementing it?

While reading my Bible a few weeks ago, 1 Corinthians 16:14 leapt off the page. “Let all that you do be done in love.”

A message that powerful deserves some prominence. I sprang up immediately and wrote it at the top of our chalkboard door in the kitchen. We’ve made it our theme verse for the last few weeks.

It’s my self-check. Is what I’m saying said in love? Is this body language in love?

It’s my kids’ self-check, too. Am I treating my sibling with love?

Of course, children need guidance on the specifics of how to love. We have to diligently teach them ways to be patient, ways to be kind, ways to serve. But this quick self-check is making loving much easier.

What about you? How are you ensuring each word and action in your home is spoken and done in love? Please share in the comments.

Blog parties I participate in:  Mom 2 Mom, Mama  MomentsManic Mondays,Life of Faith,  Raising Homemakers, Titus 2sdaysMissional Women,  Wise Woman, Tell It To Me Tuesdays, Works for me Wednesdays, Coffee and Conversation, Hearts for HomeMom’s Library, The Mommy Club, and Grace and Truth

Posted in Holiness | 2 Comments

Five lessons my daughter learned this week from crafting

“Mommy, teach me to needle and thread!” My almost-six-year-old daughter has been begging me to teach her to sew for months now. I do not sew (much). I am not (very) crafty either. Until this week, I have been coming up with myriad excuses.

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No more excuses now! When my daughter begged to do something crafty this week, we headed down to the basement where, among miscellaneous bits of sequins and feathers, I found a sewing kit. I had started it as a child, and it was about 90% finished. This proved to be the perfect starting point for Grace since she could finish it in one session.

Here are the five lessons I learned this week while crafting with Grace.

1. Crafting is great for fine motor skills.

2. Crafting gives children a sense of accomplishment.

3. Crafting teaches children to listen and take direction from a parent or teacher.

4. Crafting provides children with FUN, FUN, FUN!

5. Crafting gives children the opportunity to reflect the image of God. We were created to create. We’re raising little creative people.

Linking up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers Weekly Wrap-up and Manic MondaysTitus 2sdays, Mom 2 Mom, Mama  MomentsLife of Faith,  Raising Homemakers, Missional Women,  Wise Woman, Tell It To Me Tuesdays, Works for me Wednesdays, Mom’s Library, The Mommy Club, and Grace and Truth

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My Writing Life: Lessons from my focus group

      What do you mean get rid of Chapter 4? I glanced at a survey one of my book reviewers had just turned in. Surely there must be some mistake! Who would want to eliminate a whole chapter of my brilliant writing? Send my carefully crafted words to the chopping block?

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    Writing a book is teaching me valuable life lessons. It’s my prayer that I can bring it to publication so it can one day bless your children. First, let me share a little background:

As I shared last week, fueled by my passion to provide older children with fun Christian fiction, I’ve begun the fumbling, bumbling yet somehow wonderful journey towards becoming an author.

Two weeks ago, a group of ladies from my homeschooling group along with their daughters blessed my socks off during a focus group on the first draft of my manuscript. I opted to be absent from the group, using a moderator to lead the discussion so everyone could speak frankly without fear of hurting my feelings. (Although, I really do have fairly thick skin!)

After pouring the coffee (because, really, how can you have a book group without some good coffee?) but before heading upstairs, I got my first casual feedback – a glimpse of one of the surveys that had already been turned in. There was nothing eyebrow-raising in the answers to any of the questions until the last one. My heart melted a bit when I saw the response to, “Is there anything else you’d like to share?” The suggestion was to eliminate a whole chapter!

My heart may have melted for a minute, but melting can be a great thing. Melting something lets you transform the shape into anything you want it to be! How would a lump of gold become a beautiful ring if it didn’t melt a bit?

When the last guest left and I locked myself away to watch the discussion video, I was bowled over by the rich and wonderful conversation. The group was fairly unified about the strengths of the manuscript and what needed to change. This must have been one group of brilliant kids because their insights were deep. They sent me happily encouraged and chuckling into the revisions.

Eagerly, I holed myself away and re-wrote, re-wrote, re-wrote and produced what I hope is a much better manuscript. (Yes, chapter four did go and another chapter got added because everyone wanted to know more about what was going on in one character’s head.)

I’m looking forward to more feedback soon and another focus group. Writing a book is such a fun adventure for me! I’ll be applying the lessons on melting and flexibility into other parts of my life and child-rearing, too!

Please feel free to share about your own writing experiences in the comments.

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Stop! Don’t Read That!

     I was horrified when I saw what my son was reading! Want to know what I did? I shoved the book back into the library bag.

stop-634941_1280 copy     “Don’t read that.” It’s one phrase I dread saying. I don’t derive any pleasure from censoring my children’s reading interests or creating family “banned book lists” but…
I am the parent. God has entrusted me with the job of training my children. I am aware of God’s standards for holiness. My children are still learning them. If I don’t teach them, who will?

My oldest son devours books. The older he gets, the harder it is to keep up with everything he reads. A few weeks ago he brought home a book from the library out of a new series he’d excitedly discovered. The title was eyebrow-raising but, per the publisher, the book was targeted at his age group so I didn’t say anything. I was busy. I told myself I didn’t have time to comb through his literature.

He brought more books home from the same series. I noticed one cover mentioned vampires. I flipped through it and decided it wasn’t a plot focus – not really vampire lit. I asked him if the books were appropriate. He said that he thought so.

I went along with it. Big mistake! Let’s be clear. I generally trust my son. He has shown himself to be a truthful boy. However, as a child he lacks mature discretion about selecting literature. He has not fully learned to apply my Philippians 4:8 standard or evaluate his books based on the ten characteristics I look for in children’s literature.

Finally, I picked up a novel and started reading. Red flags fired off during the first paragraph. The characters were rude, used strong language (words like hate, not expletives), reveled in the crass, and did not share my values.

“Honey,” I said. “We’re gonna put that stack of books back in the library bag. We’re returning them. You’re not reading another one.”

Was he disappointed? Yes, but the experience has provided a great training opportunity. We talked about how the characters were acting and what they were saying. I realized in his childish immaturity, he didn’t really understand just how disrespectful some of the language was.

I steered him toward another book I took the time to pre-screen. He’s reading it happily and asking for more by the same author.

Was banning the book trouble? Yes. It would have been easier for me to sit back and say nothing, but that’s not what God has called me to do. He’s called me to raise my children in holiness.

What about you? Has banning some form of literature ever provided a valuable learning experience for your child? Please share positive outcomes in the comments.

I may link up this post at Literacy Musing MondayTitus 2sdays, Mom 2 Mom, Mama  MomentsLife of Faith  Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers Weekly Wrap-Up,  Raising Homemakers, Missional Women,  Wise Woman, Tell It To Me Tuesdays, Works for me Wednesdays, Mom’s Library, The Mommy Club, Cozy Reading Spot, and Grace and Truth.

Posted in Holiness, Literature | 9 Comments