Friday, November 29, 2013

Pie for Breakfast?

{This post contains affiliate links.}

I know it is still Thanksgiving weekend.  In fact, you are probably savoring pumpkin pie for breakfast (my kids do!) and planning how to use all the leftovers in your refrigerator. However, Advent begins on Sunday.  How do you plan to prepare your children's hearts for Christmas?

Our family is a big fan of What's in the Bible? and their Bible-based teaching. You can order Everyday Emmanuel in PDF with Scripture cards, activities and discussion questions for busy families. Preview sample pages of Everyday Emmanuel here

What's in the Bible?
also offers a DVD that explains many of our modern Christmas traditions.

NEW!  What's in the Bible? volumes are now available on Amazon instant video. 

If you are a family with younger children, consider Truth in the Tinsel, an Advent eBook for preschoolers and early elementary children.  Truth in the Tinsel also includes age-appropriate discussion and ornament crafts.  The eBook is $7.99, but if you use coupon code  FROMMYLIFE20, you will receive 20% off of your purchase.

Come back Monday when I'll share a free download and tell you about what our family is doing in December to prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth and life of Jesus.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

10 Things I Learned in November

Linking up with Emily Freeman to share the things I learned in November, both serious and superficial!

10 Things I Learned in November 

1) How to utilize more of the features on my GPS running watch.  When I bought my watch in August, its primary purpose was to accurately calculate my distance.  Now I'm loving the pacing feature.  I can program it to pace me at a particular speed, and if I run too fast or too slow, it beeps.  I credit my watch with helping me run my 4th 5K at a 8:55 pace! 

2) Because of my competitive nature, my watch motivates me to run faster and longer even when I'm alone. 

3) Pencil marks wipe away easily with Mr. Clean Eraser.  Ask me how I know.  Okay, I'll tell you. While I was in the bathroom, Alaine decided to channel her inner artist and draw two tiny people on her bedroom wall below the light switch.  Then she drew a nice loooong line to connect them.  I wiped some of her artistry off with warm water, but the Mr. Clean Eraser was key. 

4) I love the Goodwill.  I like it more when I go with a friend...and when we go on half-off-everything-in-the entire-store night!  We had to get there an hour before the sale started, and even then there were no carts left.  I found Alaine this adorable sweater dress for $1 and a pair of sparkly Stride Rite shoes (that I forgot to photograph), plus I snatched up a hardback copy of the best book I've read so far this year!

5) Goodwill fitting room mirrors are the worst!

6) Bamboo burns well.  Totally random, but totally true.  We spent several weekends burning brush this fall and every time we planned to burn, it would rain the night before, soaking our kindling.  Just as we'd start to give up, someone would throw a few pieces of bamboo onto the fire and the fire would blaze and keep blazing!

7) Vinegar does wonders for sweat odor on running clothes.  Mix a few splashes of vinegar into a sink full of cool water and let clothing soak for an hour. For an especially potent stink, pour vinegar directly on offensive area.

8) I'm probably the last to arrive at this party, but I found out there is really such a thing as No-Shave November I'd never heard of it and when my husband mentioned that he and a few guys from work were participating, I thought he was kidding.  The event is intended to bring awareness to men's health issues, but I think it was more of a personal challenge for Brian and his friends. I've been asking him to grow a beard again since he shaved it over two years ago, but it took a challenge to make him re-take the plunge.  I'm hoping he keeps the beard.

1 week in
3  1/2 weeks in

9) Women participate in No-Shave November.   I'm sorry, but I can't go a month without shaving my legs. 

10) This year's Call the Midwife Christmas special airs on Sunday, December 29.  Cannot wait!

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Busy Week... and a Giveaway!

On Wednesday, I hosted a giveaway exclusively for my blog's Facebook page.  If you haven't liked my page yet, you can do it here:

Today I have another giveaway right here on my blog! 

This year I mistakenly thought that since Thanksgiving is falling so late in the month, I would have time to check off my to-do list slowly and methodically and that I would enter the holiday season feeling on top of things.  Instead, my time feels a precious as ever.  As jealously as I have guarded my days, I found that every one this week was jam-packed with activity.  Haircuts, post office, grocery shopping, gym class, school work, library, running... The beds needed clean sheets, the bathroom floor needed a good scrub, and tomorrow we are hosting Brian's family's Thanksgiving get-together at our house so extra cleaning and baking responsibilities were added to my list. 

This much busyness is outside of my comfort zone, but instead of fighting it, I've decided to embrace it for this season.  It makes for a more joyful family when we can accept our responsibilities instead of grumble about them. 

As we approach December, I'm pondering ways to keep our focus on the meaning of our celebrations.  That's why I'm excited to give away a copy of Truth in the Tinsel eBook to one of my readers. in the Tinsel will guide your family through each day of December with a passage of Scripture, discussion questions, and an ornament craft.   If a craft a day sounds too overwhelming, you can purchase printable ornaments to color for only $3.99 (not included in the giveaway)Truth in the Tinsel was written for preschool and early elementary school children, but any child who can color or likes crafts would enjoy the book. To view a sample page of the eBook, click here.

The eBook is $7.99, but if you use coupon code  FROMMYLIFE20, you will receive 20% off of your purchase. (Curriculum and the printable ornaments are excluded.)  If you make a purchase and then win the giveaway, your eBook purchase will be refunded.

To enter for your chance to win, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.  Giveaway ends  Tuesday, November 26 at midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Kindergarten: Then and Now

I'm going to start this post with a confession.

I feel like a kindergarten slacker.

Ben is five.  He loves to run and jump and yell and tear his jeans.  He's all boy, hates to sit still, and is always hungry.  He listens to me read stories while he hangs upside down from the couch cushions.  He is learning to read like a champ and can count to 20 and beyond.  

But at least once or twice a week,  I forget about kindergarten.  

Six years ago, when Gavin was in kindergarten, we carved out a neat little sixty- to ninety-minute window every morning where we sounded out words, talked about tall and short, full and empty, and learned to count to 100.  In Gavin's year of kindergarten, we also read through many of the Five in a Row books and performed a few corresponding activities.  After school time, we packed up our crayons and manipulatives and the rest of the day was spent playing outside, reading loads of library books, caring for a toddler (Maddie) and baby (Owen), cooking dinner with multiple children hanging on my legs, attempting to keep the house tidy, and falling into bed exhausted.

It was a crazy-busy season of life at home, but school was scheduled and predictable. 

Fast-forward six years.  Now Ben is the one in addition to the 6th grader, 4th grader,2nd grader, and preschooler.  Somehow kindergarten gets lost in the shuffle.  After reading a chapter of our science book aloud, checking math lessons, reviewing memory verses, and handing out handwriting assignments, I forget to take a few minutes to work with him individually. 

Kindergarten, this year, is not scheduled and predictable.  It is mortar in the bricks of our life.  It fills the cracks of everything else we are doing.  Kindergarten is letting Ben read me a storyand sound out the words as we sit together on his bed before I tuck him in for the night.   Kindergarten is going to the library to pick out new books.  Kindergarten is a quick economics lesson about money while we're waiting in the van (true story!). Kindergarten is letting Ben knead the bread I'm making for dinner.  Kindergarten is listening in while the older kids learn about ancient Rome.  Kindergarten is counting leaves and noticing their color.

I still feel like a kindergarten slacker, but I'm discovering the joy of a new way of learning.  I'm finding that, though it may not be structured, Ben is absorbing a rich education more suited to him than lot of seat-work anyway. 

Surely I'm not alone, though.  Do you feel like a slacker when it comes to your kids' education?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Details of a Giveaway

If you are part of my Facebook community, you already know about the pop-up giveaway that I am planning this week. If you aren't a part of the community, why don't you join us?

Sometime between now and Friday, I'll be hosting a pop-up book giveaway.  When I announce the giveaway on Facebook, leave a comment on that post to be entered for a chance to win. If you click like on that post, you will earn a second entry. 

That's not all, though.  You can begin earning bonus entries now by referring friends to my Facebook page.  If you refer a friend and they mention your name in a comment on any status, you receive an extra entry! 

Friday, November 15, 2013

November Twitterature

twitterature monthly reading linkup short reviews

I have more on my hold list at the library than I'll ever be able to read during the next few weeks.  I can't help it, though.  I'm addicted to reading. 

Speaking of reading, next week I'm having a pop-up book giveaway on my Facebook page.   Be sure to like my page so you don't miss out. 

Today I'm linking up with Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy to share "short, casual reviews" of the books I've read in the past 31 days.

{As always, post about books contain my affiliate links.}

Kate: The Future Queen by Katie Nicholl

The book was sort of dry in the beginning, but I still found it fascinating.  Fun read...if learning about royals is your thing. 

#biography  #lovethephotos   #sheisgorgeous

One Doctor: Close Calls, Cold Cases, and the Mysteries of Medicine
by Brendan Reilly, M.D.

Absolutely devoured!  First hand account from a hospital-based doctor written as he puzzles out difficult diagnoses.  #medicine  #uniqueperspective

In the Midst of Life
by Jennifer Worth

By the author of the Call the Midwifebooks, this one completes the circle of life and discusses terminal patients.  Heart-rending and thought-provoking.    #death   #dying  #notasdepressingasitsounds

The Winnowing Season
by Cindy Woodsmall

Only fiction I read this month. Better than the first in the series and piqued my interest for the third.  #amishfiction #lovetriangle

Dad Is Fatby Jim Gaffigan

I wanted to laugh out loud on every page.  I did read excerpts out loud to my husband.  Favorite line: "There is no difference between a 4-year-old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor."   #parenting  #icanrelate 

Love Is in the Mix: 108+ Family-Friendly Recipes, Tips, and Traditions
by Kate Gosselin

Picked this up at the library. Try to forget her TV show, but sample the kid-friendly pizza meatballs...or the Jamie broccoli.   #cookbook  #feedacrowd

Run Less, Run Faster: Become a Faster, Stronger Runner with the Revolutionary 3-Run-a-Week Training Program by Bill Pierce, Scott, Murr, and Ray Moss

Skimmed most of this one, but read enough to confirm that my current training plan will be effective.   #runless  #runfaster

With the kids...

Thanksgiving Mice! by Bethany Roberts & Over the River and Through the Woodby Lydia Maria Child, illustrated by Christopher Manson

Both have a place on our family bookshelf.  We do the majority reading from library books, but these are keepers. #thanksgiving  #seasonalfavorites 

Encyclopedia Brown and his Best Cases Everby Donald Sobol

Fifteen mysteries compiled from 50 years of Encyclopedia Brown books. Good old-fashioned reading, even if some of the solutions were a bit hokey. #dinnertimereading  #mystery  #kidlit

Problems in Plymouthby Marianne Hering and Marshal Younger

I was disappointed at the lack of plot depth, but the adventure captured the kids' attention. Hoping the Christmas book is better.     #history  #iloveshortchapters

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thrifty Autumn

We're experiencing a taste of winter in our area of the country today.  There is even a chance of snow flurries.  I do not like snow at. all.  My plans for the day include sipping apple cider and starting a few small sewing projects. And probably some reading with a blanket.  I think I'll hibernate until it warms up again.  I won't have long to wait because it is supposed to be in the mid-60s by the weekend. 

Today I thought it would be fun to share a few autumn deals for November.  I love a good deal!

{In the interest of disclosure, some of the links below are affiliate links. I'd tell you about these products anyway because I love them, but I thought you should know.}


I bought this  Vintage Owl Necklace with a few cents I had leftover from another purchase.  Yes, I said cents.

This owl necklace is 63 cents and that includes shipping! I was most afraid that the quality would be poor, but the affordable price convinced me to give it a try. I'm glad I took the plunge, because it's been one of my favorite fall accessories.


I'm a tremendous fan of the Call the Midwife TV series. Though I read the first book years ago, I became acquainted with the other 2 books in the series earlier this year.  The second book in the series, Call the Midwife: Shadows of the Workhouse, would appeal even to those who aren't a fan of the birth genre as it focuses on the author's time as a community nurse, away from her midwifery duties. I read the entire book this summer over 2-3 days on the back porch while watching my kids play. Grab your own copy while the Kindle edition is only $1.99! 


I burn candles year round, but I especially burn them in the fall and winter.  Brian works outside all day and  he loves coming home in the cold weather to a house that smells rich with dinner cooking and a candle burning. I'm picky about my scents, though.  It can't be too perfumy, but it has to give off enough of a smell to make it worth burning.  My all-time favorite candle can be found at... Walmart.  Who knew?!

The Mainstays Pumpkin Spice Candle is only $5 for a 20 oz. jar.  It is not available online so you have to purchase it in-store. 

There's a smaller version for $3, too, but doesn't last long enough for me. 


One last deal, and this one is free! If you are traveling over Thanksgiving, you might want to print out my  Doodling on the Road: A booklet of ideas for drawing in the car before you go.  We brought this along on our family vacation in September for our oldest kids (ages 4-10).

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