Subscribe: Clover Lane
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
book  books  children  christmas  don  favorite  fun  game  gift  great  kids  love  make  play  set  things  year  years 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Clover Lane

Clover Lane

Updated: 2018-03-24T00:21:05.862-04:00


Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas!

Encouragement For The Week



Let me not wrap, stack, box, bag, tie, tag, bundle, seal keep Christmas.
Christmas kept is liable to mold.
     Let me give Christmas away, unwrapped, by exuberant armfuls. 
Let me share, dance, live Christmas unpretentiously, merrily, responsibly with overflowing hands, tireless steps and sparkling eyes.

     Christmas given away will stay fresh—even until it comes again."

Some Teen Gift Ideas


Favorite Toys here.Favorite Games here.Book Gift Ideas here.Ok, ready?  Boys and girls mixed in, junior high into college, here's a list of ideas from Abbey and some of her good friends. (I begged only a few suggestions out of my boys.)  Also at the bottom, is a cute post my daughter wrote when a few years ago with more ideas.These are GREAT inexpensive headphones.Nike Men's Performance Cotton Cushioned Crew SocksNike socks-girls and boys wear them. I have bought so many pairs of these! Where do they all go?Adidas Soccer PantsALEX AND ANI Charm Bracelets ($24+)Very popular right now, lots of different choices.Makeup Brush Set Cosmetics Foundation Blending Blush Eyeliner Face Powder Brush Makeup Brush Kit (10pcs, Golden Black)  ($12.45)Makeup brushes. I am told they don't have to expensive to be quality.Urban Decay Naked Palette Eyeshadow ($29) Sanuk Women's Yoga SandalSanuk flip-flops.Soft PJ's.  The Aerie brand is popular.Scunci Effortless Beauty Basic Jaw Clips,9 Cm, 3-CountCrocodile clips.  Can be found at any drug storeNot Your Mother's Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt Spray, 8 OunceNot Your Mother's Beach Spray and Dry ShampooThese Lush bath bombs are a perfect gift and have a five star rating and are very popular.Personalized Coffee MugThis cute one is from Anthro for $8, but you can find these everywhere.Yoga matCamel Back water bottleLotion socksElectric Blanket-Abbey LOVES her electric blanket (and boy did it come in handy early this year when Janey and I had a terrible bout of pneumonia.)  I bought her one at Kohl's on sale.Fuzzy BlanketsWe have this one and this one-these are found everywhere, the softer the better.IPhone CasesMy niece uses the Otter Box  Commuter Series and really likes it-they are affordable too.Abbey uses a LifeProof (after having to replace the screen because of a breakage she decided it was in her best interest to spend a little more.neff gloves-boys or girls!neff beanies-again, boys or girls, lots of cute colors.Duffel bags-especially for college kids-Lands End has great ones, I love their sales, and you can get them monogrammed.Quad copters. This is the brand we chose and you can read about this fun toy here.Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Illustrated EditionA gorgeous book for HP fans.Here is a list from a couple years ago, written by my daughter:Shopping for teenagers is definitely harder than other ages (I would know, I am one) and one of the biggest problems is not knowing exactly what they want.  If you're stuck on this and need a few ideas, these are some of my favorite things that I have gotten, and some things I am asking for this year!Headphones. Definitely a broad topic. My favorite are the brand Skullcandy .  Lots of styles, affordable, and great quality! Pink and purple are my go-to colors.Something that I am in desperate need (okay, want, sorry Mom) of this year, this iPod adapter thingy for an older car like the one Isaac and I share.  Because radio music can get old too fast when they play the same songs over and over...The Wet Brush Detangle Brush . Last time I went to the salon, the lady who trimmed my hair suggested this because my hair is so long and gets tangled so easy. It works wonders.OPI Mini All Stars 2015 Nail Lacquer Set of 10 MinisOPI and Essie nail polish. great quality and true to color. New favorite colors: Gargantuan Green Grape by OPI (minty green) and Mango Bango by Essie. You can find Essie at Target and OPI at salons and makeup stores like Sephora and Ulta.Mauve is the "color" this year!A subscription to InStyle magazine.  Full of great ideas, new trends, fashion advice, cool pictures, and classy clothes!  Once I am finished reading a magazine, I look through it and cut out pictures that inspire me and my style and collage them onto my doors.Every girl needs something Vera Bradley! Such cute patterns and very durable. I use my bag for everything, school, shopping, etc. (Sometimes I see these at[...]

Easy Holiday Recipes


Food, food, food-my life seems to revolve around it, it seems, especially at this time of year.  Here are some simple recipes that make my life easier this holiday season.If I need to bring an appetizer to a party, my feta dip is super easy and I know it will be gone in seconds.  (It is my most viewed post, no kidding.)  No oven, no bowls, no mixer, no stove top.  Here is the easy step by step recipe.If I need to bring a dessert, I know Kitty's Brownies will be a huge hit.  I am telling you, these things are divine-and it's just brownie mix and 3 candy bars.  They are ooey and gooey and chocolately and taste like you slaved over them for hours.Caramel corn or shortbread cookies are usually my old standbys if I want to bake a gift. Here is the caramel corn recipe.Here is the shortbread cookie recipe.These pretzels are fun to make with kids and make a great snack.  My blog friend Sarah made them with her kids and they turned out prettier than mine ever do.  You can check them out here.My favorite cut out cookies are from an old-fashioned recipe my mom used every Christmas when we were kids.  The recipe uses granulated brown sugar-they are sweet, but not too sweet, look like gingerbread, but not too gingery.  My kids love them. Here is the recipe for Butterscotch Rolled Cookies.I have talked about meal planning and how it really saves me time and money and my sanity also-more than ever this season.  Sometimes I just about hate doing it, but if I don't we will end up eating take out pizza every night.  Here is an example of my menu for the week-I just want to prove that it does NOT have to be fancy-I always think "meal planning" just sounds overwhelming. I use notebook paper and tape it up where I can see it every morning. Grilled cheese and soup one night-or pizza night on Saturday-no gourmet dinners or five course meals here.  (Lots of my recipes are here and I've been adding new ones every week.)[...]

Christmas Guidance for Moms


I know I have posted some of this before years ago in different essays but I wanted to set it out again. (I sometimes I just wish I could tell my younger self these things.)   Christmas is what we decide it will be and that means there is a need to guard our hearts and homes a little-relatives, the media, the neighbors, friends, stores, your church, etc, will all come into play as an influence so it is right and good to set out in our heads what we want Christmas to look like for our family. ---If we want to keep it simple and religious, then deciding ahead of time how we will go about "guarding our hearts and homes" is a necessity.  What we allow into our home, is what will influence those little ones in our home-from the gabs of toy magazines, and commercials vs. the Advent calendar and Nativity.  We will be the thoughtful filter, the idea-shaper for how we want our Christmas season to look for our families. ---Start small, very very small.  We all know a one year old will play with the box.  (And I have had eight year olds have just as much fun with a box too?:)  The more gifts equals the more shopping and wrapping and planning and DOING (and the more stuff in your house to clutter it!).  And when children start remembering what last year was like there is a certain expectation (not ill-willed-we all have expectations) to look forward to.  Things get more costly, and life gets busier as one adds children to the family. It is much easier just to start as you mean to go along. There are SO many great ideas of how to keep things simple and the expectations in check, and all of them are neat traditions like the three gifts to represent the gifts of the Magi, or something to read, wear and play with, etc.  I've learned most of these cute little tidbits of genius through friends, but wish I would have learned them 22 years ago when I first started out. ---Find a way to make it relatively peaceful and fun.  It SHOULD be fun!  As I added babies in with toddlers and older children, my idea of fun had to become very simple I learned, because chaos day after day is NOT fun and the daily needs of children and the household still existed and must be met first. That means weeding out what made things chaotic, and narrowing it to a few traditions that really counted. We don't have to bake and craft and go to parties every day, maybe just once the entire month. If there is anything that we all have to struggle with today, it's too many choices, and opportunities and then there is Pinterest.   ---And expectations!  It isn't a requirement to make gifts for the entire neighborhood, and teacher's gifts can be very very simple and then after all guess what?  I have the best news!  There is NO Christmas elf that will come and arrest us and throw us in jail if we don't do teacher gifts or neighbor gifts or postman gifts or Elf on the Shelf, or if we skip taking your kids to visit mall Santa, etc etc etc.  We won't go to Christmas jail (but a day in solitary confinement might sound ok on December 26th? Will they serve hot cocoa and let us bring a book?:) So we must learn to let it go if we can't do it, or don't want to do it, or can't afford to do it, or just had a colicky baby (hello Andrew!) or are due on Christmas Eve with your fifth baby (hello Patrick!).  All of this extra stuff, like most of life, has gone hog wild in the last decade to the point where it's all almost laughable.  Such high expectations, such busyness, it's no wonder we feel overwhelmed. It should not be one bit about stress, but about peace and that comes in simplicity and discretion and thoughtfulness.  That is where the Christmas magic is found in the first place. And last, the most important thing: One day a mother's Christmas will change. And it hurts our hearts I assure you. It will make us shed tears of reminiscence and nostalgia and sadness for w[...]

Our Favorite Christmas Books


Here's an updated list of our favorite, most-played with, delivered-to-your-doorstep, Mom-approved toys.And here are our favorite games.And our favorite books.Here are some great teen gift ideas.My favorite are the classic ones from my childhood, and the Nativity books with beautiful pictures.I think the books we grow up with are so impressionable-they form the images in our mind of what Santa looks like, and Jesus in the manger, and elves, and the wise men.  Does it seem overly-thoughtful that I want to "choose" these images for my children?  I think it might, but I still choose carefully.The Night Before Christmas -The one illustrated by Leaonard Weisgard on the right is my favorite.Frosty the Snowman- I am working on getting my hands on the vintage Golden Book version of this story, but this one with vintagey-illustrations will do.I have a Golden Book collection and a few more (like the Frosty one) on my wishlist.The Littlest Christmas Elf The Christmas StoryRUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEERBaby's First Christmas Elves and the ShoemakerMy mom bought this years ago (she is the best book picker-outer) for my kids and they love this story.  Beautiful illustrated and just the right amount of words in this version of the classic fairy tale.This Is the StarI love this book because it is tells the traditional story, with beautiful illustrations.  Another beautifully illustrated book.  Mothers will love this book because Mary tells the story.The Nativity, Mary RemembersI Spy Christmas: A Book of Picture RiddlesWe love I Spy books.  They hurt my eyes but they are also so addicting.  Once I start a page I have to finish all the searching.Santa Mouseand Janey's favorite is the second Santa Mouse book:Santa Mouse, Where Are You?A Little House Christmas TreasuryAll of the great Little House snowy Christmas stories in one book, can't get any better than that!I love this reminder of simpler times, with less "buying", more "creating", and better "giving".The Gift Of The MagiI have always loved this story since I was a little girl. This is a beautifully illustrated book!Eyewitness Classics-A Christmas CarolThe story with all it's history in one book, appeals to older children and adults.  This really brings depth to the story and it all makes more sense with historical reference. Holly and Ivy(this copy with Barbara Cooney is out of print, but it can be bought used)We borrowed this book from the library and I promptly bought it I loved it so much. Definitely a "girl book" with a doll, and an orphan girl and a family finally found.  I would have loved loved loved this book as a child. Christmas Day In The MorningI can't get through this book without crying.  It is my favorite Christmas book ever.  The illustrations are beautiful, and the story of a son giving the gift of service for his hard working father is even more beautiful.  The Night Before Christmas(Another one that must be bought used.)I think we have every Gyo Fujikawa book because I am in love with her illustrations, especially her prolific babies.  This book is chock full of those babies.Mr. Willowby's Christmas TreeI feel like I've read this book 1,000 times in the last 2 weeks. So cute, and a favorite around here and a great message of sharing to boot.  [...]

Encouragement For The Week


We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give.

Winston Churchill

A Few Of My Favorite Things


Usually when I see gift ideas for moms they are way too fashionable for me, or much more than I'd ever spend on myself, or things I just would never use. One of my most favorite things is my new vacuum I bought myself last year for Christmas for my husband to give me.  No kidding. But there HAS to be someone else out there that thinks getting a new vacuum for Christmas is exciting? Maybe?Here is a list of my favorite things, lame or not:I really tried not to want a Kindle, but my son told me I just HAD to have one and I would love it and he was going to buy one for me anyways because he was just so sure it would be one of my favorite things.And it is! What I love most about it is the ease of reading at night-no head lamp that always runs out of batteries needed, AND since my eyesight has declined rapidly in the last few years, I don't have to hunt for my glasses-I just make that font bigger or smaller.  I borrow almost all the books from our library so it's not costly.Kindle Paperwhite E-readerHere is the case I bought for it.Shark Navigator Deluxe (NV42)I loved my first Dyson but when it bit the dust (we put that thing through hell) and it came to buy a new one I had sticker shock. Wow, those prices have gone up!  So I took my chances, read some reviews and bought something more budget friendly.  And I love this vacuum, in fact, I really think it has stronger suction that the Dyson (it puts vacuum lines in my Berber!). All the pieces and parts come apart also, in case a small sock or precious Lego gets vacuumed up or stuck. The cord is nice and long and the attachments are useful.This Vitamix 2-speed Blender is not inexpensive, but I bought it only after going through a couple "cheap" blenders that broke.  I LOVE this thing. We use it daily-smoothies, shakes, and my favorite treat ever-banana ice cream, which I eat just about every night.  It has excellent reviews on Amazon.Cuisinart Griddler Panini and Sandwich PressAnother kitchen appliance that I adore.  We use this at least two times a week, maybe more. It is easier and quicker than grilled cheese on the stove top.  We make ham and cheese and turkey and cheese mostly.  The kids can use this easily also. UGG Women's Classic Short BootMy oldest daughter wanted to buy a pair of these for me for years and years, and frankly I thought they were overpriced and ugly, and made everyone look like they have Big Foot feet, and also that I'm (a tad;) too old to wear them.  And they are expensive and they are sort of ugly and I am too old to wear them, but darn, she was right, I love them. I wear them all winter with everything and don't ever want to take them off.  I am always cold in the winter, but these keep my feet warm inside my drafty old house and outside too, and are so comfortable and easy.  The new gray ones are so cute too.I don't wear perfume because I am sensitive to fragrance, but I found this lotion in Seaside, Florida a couple years ago and it smells wonderful to me-just like the beach.  That is the same bottle I originally bought-I only use a little bit and it's just enough.  You can find it here.Mary Kay TimeWise Age Fighting Moisturizer, Normal/Dry Skin (3 fl. oz.)For daytime,  I have sensitive, dry skin and I haven't found anything that works better. It is light enough for under makeup, and strong enough that I use it in the evening too. It doesn't have a strong scent either. I go through about two bottles a year.Simple Life Mom Anti-Aging SerumMy face needs moisture, but it doesn't like all the chemicals in the drug store brands. Everything to me smells like a test tube of acid.  And NONE of it ever could keep up with dry skin. I found this brand on Etsy and ADORE this stuff.  I only put it on at night after I wash my face. It's straight oil, but has never made me break [...]

Our Favorite Games


Favorite Toys here.Favorite Books here.Teen Gift Ideas here.Ideas by age/interest level here.After reading my favorite toys post a week ago, Jeff informed me that I "forgot" to include all of the games the kids love.  I put "forgot" in quotations because I think I might have done that accidentally on purpose subconsciously.  I am not a game person-I can play a few: Scrabble, Candy Land,  Zingo.  Pretty much that's it.  I just don't have the patience, or the attention span, or maybe it's the lack of competitive spirit.  I am terrible at logic and deduction and all that fancy stuff. So here's a guest post written (and updated every year) by my husband, game nerd extraordinaire, who never ever takes a pass. Most of these games are for the five, six, or seven year old and up crowd, and quite a few are one-player for when Jeff's not around.Here's Jeff:Our favorite game 2017:Blink-even Janey can play this (a little slower) but the boys have had so much fun this year with this game.  You have to pay attention and quickly match the shape, count or color of your cards to get rid of them as fast as you's great for concentration!KataminoLike a Tetrus puzzle, there are different challenges to fit the wood pieces into the grid.  Six and up-the games adjusts to make it easier for younger kids.  All the kids in the family enjoy it.Ticket to Ride2,837 Five Star reviews!!!An awesome fun game that the whole family enjoys.  For two to five players, the object of the game is to travel to as many cities as you can in just seven days.SycloneLike an old-fashioned top, that needs to navigated through the maze by tilting it.Perplexus EpicWe have four of these and they are ADDICTING!  So much fun.  You guide a marble through the maze by tilting the ball in your hands.  Ages six to adult.  These are great to set around the house-they are irresistible. ThinkFun IzziThis if for ages 8 and above and it IS difficult. The edges of each tile must match black to black and white to white.All Think Fun Games get great reviews-they cater to all different ages from toddler to adult also.Rubik's RaceShake the cube and then match the pattern as fast as possible to win-a two-player game. Nowhere To GoThis is a great two player game where you try and trap your opponent before they trap you.  What is nice about this game is my 9 year old gives me a strong challenge every time we play.  It is very easy to learn, but once you play a few times you start to understand different strategies to win.  This is great when you are tired of chess or checkers.  Each game takes only about 5 minutes to complete.Rubik's Cube- Our kids have viewed tutorials on YouTube to help solve the cube.  Isaac can solve it in under a minute and Andrew under three minutes.  I tried to solve it 25 years ago without any technological assistance, but never did, until YouTube!Boggle-Our kids got onto a big scrabble kick this past year.  Andrew liked Boggle better.  You make up as many words as you can in three minutes.  We play together at night before bed and help each other try to set a new record for words found.  We sometimes re-shake it if the letter that come up are too tough.  LONPOS Rectangular and Pyramid Puzzle-This is really two puzzle/pattern games in one.  Each puzzle is gradually more difficult.  The pyramids are fun to build.  Rush Hour-We have Rush Hour and Rush Hour Two.  You just have to drive the red car out of the game by moving the other cars out of its way.  I think I have played this game more than the kids.Solitaire Chess This is also a puzzle game where you use chess pieces and moves to capture and remove all the pieces until there is just one piece left. &[...]

Encouragement For The Week


It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. 
It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

Our Favorite Building Toys


Here's a list of our favorite, most-played with, delivered-to-your-doorstep, Mom-approved toys.And here are our favorite games.And our favorite books.Here are some great teen gift ideas.An abridged list by age/interest.All updated!Here are our favorite building toys over the years:Duplos-We started with a basic set and then added a Thomas the Train set (they just sell a generic train now.) We've had so much fun with these.Legos-We have more of these than any family should have, but I think Legos are the best-they really teach kids concentration, precision (you can't miss a step!) and how to work through a project till finished-and how to go back and find a mistake and correct it....patience and perseverance!  I can't say enough about them.  We've always been a fan of the kits, but we started out with a big basic box.Yes, they are expensive (I think if you stay away from the commercial brands (Star Wars, Batman) they aren't too bad), but I always justified it by the fact they ARE so educational.  The kids worked up from little kits to more complicated ones at different rates.  I would suggest starting early (4?) with an easy set and moving up.  Lego Technic is great for those kids who don't just want models but really want to play with them-they don't fall apart at easy.Lego City was the favorite.  Matt was an expert and had the train set and some of the more specialty Lego like the Eiffel Tower. Lego Mindstorms is an investment, but will be handed down at this house so it was worth it (and a great substitute for parents who don't want video games or computer games played, but something more educational).  This is so cool and if your child is into robotics and computers AND Legos this is perfect.  Matt received this when he was starting his teens years I believe.This Wedgit set appeals to ALL ages from toddlers to adults. It comes with little cards to match, but it's fun to just fool around with also.  Train sets!  This is a collection for sure, added on to slowly over the years and the children, and appeals to boys and girls.  We love Thomas the Train, so the kids have had some videos and books and I have heard many of those stories reenacted on our tracks.  Our collection started slowly with a basic kit, and then we added on which is perfect for gift giving.Marble runs!  This Hape wooden set above is great, but I would suggest it for older children (it does come with photo of all different ways to assemble the run but it takes patience.)  The plastic one is much easier for younger children.  My kids have loved both of these.Another marble rail system, but requires more building skill-this one can spread out over a whole room and takes more engineering (more learning!).  The kids really work together with this one.The boys really loved Snap Circuit set-lots of different ways to make this work, and really fun to experiment.I have always sung the praises of these Magna Tiles-fom very little ones, to adult, these magnetized blocks are awesome.  They have been used to make sculptures but also homes for plastic animals, and dolls, etc. These will always be out in my living room for the rest of my life I think.This track is SO fun.  The kids have to learn how these tracks snap together but maybe around four years old, they can do it easily (before that I have helped them build.)  The motorized cars are fun and the batteries last for a long time.Kapla Blocks are awesome-another one that appeals to all ages and has many different uses (mazes to sculptures to Nerf Gun targets).  It's a perfect indoor winter activity.[...]

Gift Ideas Galore


For the little girl who loves babies:These books are Janey's favorites:Little MommyThe New BabyBaby ListensThis is a good little baby doll for very little girls (I bought this for Janey when she was two) as it is small:Corolle Calin Baby DollBigger girls:American Girl Bitty BabyI can't resist the packaging and quality......but I don't really think a little girl gives a hoot what "brand" a doll is, there are many affordable options like these for under $35.Melissa and Doug 12" Jenna DollBerenguer 15" Baby Doll with Gift SetAccessories:Set of four flannel receiving blankets (only $8)  Janey uses these all the time for her babies.A front pack carrier.A stroller: Patrick and Janey both loved to push a little stroller for our walks.For the little girl or boy who loves crafts:Play dough recipe found here (can be packaged up cute in air tight containers.)A large bucket of cookie cutters.Real rolling pin.A child size apron (these oil cloth Etsy ones are so cute!)ALSO:For basic art supplies we use:Pip-Squeek MarkersColored PencilsDrawing Books-  (These are great-Usborne Drawing Books.)Paper Cutter: This is a favorite item for all kids-obviously be careful as the blade is super sharp but covered-I started letting my kids play with this around 3 when I knew they would be careful.Construction PaperTracing Paper  (So good for learning to draw and hand/eye coordination.)Clipboard for tracing paper. (Don't forget to show them how to tape down tracing paper so it doesn't slip, or if tracing from a book use clips.)Watercolors.Washable paints.Set of real brushes. (they need decent brushes!)Activity books:Usborne sticker books are very nice.Melissa and Doug sticker books are big hits here, particularly this one and this one.A homework box is a great idea! Some of the art supplies above, with a notebook and paper in a clear box.  Also these stencils are used here often, (these stencils are super neat for kids!) and envelopes and stickers from the dollar store for notes. Crafts for older kids:We loved Shrinky Dinks jewelry, or this kit. And this paper fashion set-Abbey LOVED this.A super cute clay charms kit.String art for boys or girls-someone is getting this, this year.Friendship bracelet kit-a classic.The boys LOVED their rubber band kits.I think this is SO cute, I remember making these as a kid:Pom pom pets.For pretend play around the house:This grocery cart.Janey loves this cash register.This kitchen. (warning: lots of pieces to put together!!! but so cute and sturdy when finished)We have this food and kitchen set: Hape - Playfully Delicious - Gourmet Kitchen Starter Play Setand Melissa & Doug Food Groups.We love this cute tea set.Cutting food and the sandwich maker are a favorite also.I also found that the reusable kid's gift bags are great pretend grocery bags.She also might need a purse and a wallet, the more pockets the better! Janey sets up a "store" all over the family room and I sit at the register, she shops and I ring and put in the bag and repeat, repeat, repeat.This Fisher Price dollhouse has been a HUGE HUGE hit for Janey this year.  This dollhouse and so many accessories were borrowed from some cousins who have outgrown them and she has played, and played, and played hours with this set.  For the boy who loves football and soccer and every other sport:This basketball hoop is a huge hit and takes your living room decor to the next level (a trade off for burned off boy energy, so worth it!  And ours is still going strong with teenage boys playing on it.)These gloves.This football.Kicking tee.This play white board.These football guys (or soccer guys and baseball guys and hockey guys).Favorite sports magazine and books:Sports Illustrated for Kids. (my boys love the cards tha[...]

Encouragement For The Week


Gratitude is one of the shortcuts 
to finding peace of mind and happiness inside.
No matter what is going on outside of us,
there's always something we can be grateful for.

Barry Neil Kaufman

A Wonderful Movie and Some Books For Kids


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">This movie is so so good.  It is wonderful-a wonderful message, talented acting, beautiful character development.  I highly recommend it as all of us parents know-this is rare for Hollywood!It is based on this book, which all my kids, but Janey and Patrick (who will start right after he finishes the book he is reading now) have read - one of their favorites.WonderPatrick (3rd grade) is reading a Tim Green book right now and loves it-it actually mentions the book Wonder in it, so he was eager to see the movie as everyone else was.Kid OwnerThis year for Christmas we are doing something I've always wanted to do to simplify my life and set clear expectations-"something to wear, something to play with and something to read".  The one that will have me practicing restraint, but is so fun, is choosing the "to read" for each of them.  Patrick will be getting another Tim Green book I think.  Last year his dog book was such a huge hit with him (and everyone)-maybe I'll go that route again.  I'll have to decide.National Geographic Photo ArkMy high schooler has had this book saved in my cart for months, waiting for Christmas-that's easy enough! It looks beautiful-another book we will all enjoy, great for nature lovers and those interested in photography.My First Little House SeriesJaney-she has memorized every Little House book in our well-worn set and we have a couple more to make that set complete.  I adore the illustrations-and have read these to all of the kids again and again. Little House never gets old, and I love collecting sets of books.My eighth grader is asking for his final hard-back Harry Potter to complete his set.  Big thick hard back books with beautiful dust covers all lined up on a shelf-heaven! :)The Miracle MorningFor my college/career minded older children, I loved this book so much-this is on the top of the list of all the choices I have in mind-it just creates such good habits for a purposeful, grateful life, and to use our God-given talents every day.  It has made a difference in my life and I think even if they aren't motivated to do the little routine every morning, it's message sets high expectations.[...]

The Cutest Personalized Gift Idea


My friend's daughter started a booming business (while in college!) and is selling these cutest bags, and pillows and onesies like hotcakes. I love giving gifts like this-something different and original, handmade and meaningful to the recipient.It is always a challenge to find a gift that is unique and meaningful, but with this business, you can find affordable gifts that are sure to evoke memories, motivations, and moments.A little over a year ago, I shared this young entrepreneur who was just starting to grow her business, Anne Cate. It has been quite a year of growth for this college senior. Anne Cate began out of a passion for creating and has scaled immensely. Anne Cate’s skyline accessories make the perfect gift. With the classic skyline silhouette design in a variety of over 60 different cities, these accessories are unique and meaningful. Chicago, Detroit, Florence, St. Louis, Portland, New York, and so many more. Each product is created by hand by both owner Anne Skoch and by Esperanza Threads, a Cleveland-based manufacturer that seeks to improve the lives of refugee women who struggle with barriers to employment through sewing training.All products are completely handmade in small batches using 100% organic cotton twill and quality materials, all sourced in the US.This holiday season, gift a product that benefits the community and tells a story. Shop with purpose, with Anne Cate.Search for your skyline at: Instgram: @annecateFacebook:[...]

Encouragement For The Week


As you create a home, don't get distracted with a lot of things that have no meaning for either you or your family.
Don't dwell on your failures, but think about your successes.

Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Toddler Tips: Starting Out The Morning Right


This is another little miracle I found over the years in dealing with toddlers.  Sometimes they can easily react to the busyness of the day beginning-we have an agenda as mothers, especially the mothers of many, of things we want to do that day and things that need to get done.  And routines are so important for ALL of us.  But I found that many grouchy, obstinate, whiny toddlers can quickly change to having a great day if we just slow down, even for a few minutes and hold them, hug them, talk to them, or read to them, or set up some little toy for them---almost like they needed to 'touch home base' (literally connect with us through physical closeness) before they set off on their day.  Suddenly the clinginess can stop, and it changes their whole demeanor.

A Fun Family Game


"I won!" BlinkWe've found a new game that our family loves!This is the kind of game a busy 'non-lover of games' mom can play-it's quick and requires no huge direction reading (we've adapted the way we play it depending on who is playing-and it appeals to ALL ages!)  It's a great boredom buster and would be fun for Thanksgiving Day.The low down:Basically as quick as one can, you are matching the quantity, shape or color of the card laid in front of you and try to get rid of your cards as quickly as possible.I am AWFUL at writing instructions-and like I said, we do it differently depending on how many are playing and their ages (with Janey I just do a slow matching game). Here's the lowdown:Playing the Game1. Simultaneously players turn over the card that they placed in the center of the table signaling the beginning of the game.2. Players race to play cards from their hand on either of the piles. In order for a card to be played it must match at least one of the characteristics, color, shape, or count, of the card on which it is being played. For instance a card with four brown stars could be played on any card with brown (color), or on a card with stars (shape), or on a card with four symbols (count).3. Players may have up to three cards in their hand at a time and refill their hand by drawing from their draw pile.4. Play continues until one player is completely out of cards from their hand and draw pile.Winning the GameThe first player that successfully plays all their cards wins BLINK.[...]

Encouragement For The Week


Somehow, in our hurry to steer our children toward accomplishment and independence we see to have forgotten what childhood is all about.

Preoccupied with managing their lives, and our own, it is is so easy to lose sight of our children-their tenderness ad innocence, their joyousness their capacity of wonder their hunger for enchantment. 

A touch of magic can reawaken the chidlike spirit in all of us allowing us to revisit, for a time, the secret realm of childhood. 

Easy Crock Pot Chili


I have been making this once a week-I make a big batch and then freeze smaller meal-sized containers for me for lunch, or a I give a bunch of them to my older two kids so they have a back-up meal in their own freezers.  It's excellent reheated.

It is mild so the kids aren't dying when they're chowing down. If you like SPICY chili, just add some more chili powder!

1 pound of ground beef, browned and drained
1 26 oz. jar of traditional Prego sauce
2 cans of undrained kidney beans
2 cans of chili-seasoned diced tomatoes
(you can use plain diced tomatoes...just add a little more seasoning to chili!)
2 TBS chili powder
2 TBS cumin

Dump all in a crock pot and mix together.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Serve with chips or crackers, grated cheese and sour cream, sometimes with grilled cheese on the side for non-chili lovers.

PS.  The best thing I ever did was a buy a huge crock pot-well I have every size, but the big one is the one I use the most.

Encouragement For The Week


Our children are fully different creatures than we are, and we are in their lives for a time in order to nurture them, love them, and nudge then in certain directions.

We simply must accept that they are loaned to us for a time and then they are released into adulthood. 

When we believe this, we feel more joy and contentment in parenting them, we simplify our expectations of ourselves regarding parenting, and we experience a welcome levity in our relationships with them.

Meg Meeker

Ten Ways To Raise A Reader


Ten Ways to Raise A Reader
by Gladys Hunt

1. Restrict television watching drastically.

2. Keep the computer under control and where it can be monitored. Don't allow too many hours on the pointless computer games or in chat rooms.

3. Have books and other good reading material within easy reach, an enticement to read.

4. Let your children see you reading.

5. Read books aloud together regardless of age.

6. Talk about books together, play games together.

7. Have well-lit rooms with comfortable chairs that invite reading.

8. Balance activity schedules with reading time. Let your kids know the library is as important as the gymnasium.

9. Encourage reading in bed with good lights to do so.

10.  Visit the library often, and listen to books on tape when traveling. 

Encouragement For The Week


It is impossible to win the great prizes of life without running risks,
and the greatest of all prizes are those connected with the home.

Theodore Roosevelt

Our Favorite Pumpkin Cookies


1 cup butter, room temp1/2 cup sugar1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar1 cup canned pumpkin1 egg1 tsp vanilla2 cups flour1 tsp baking soda1 tsp baking powder2 tsp cinnamon1/4 tsp saltGlaze:3 TBS butter1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar1/4 cup milk1 1/2-2 cups confectioners sugarPreheat oven to 350 degrees.In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and the sugar together still fluffy.Blend in pumpkin, egg and vanilla.In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda and powder, cinnamon and salt.Mix flour mixture into the butter/sugar mixture.Drop tablespoonfulls 3 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheets.Bake the cookie for 10-12 minutes until golden around the edges.Remove warm cookies and transfer to racks.Let cool completely for at least one half hour, then frost with glaze.For glaze:In a medium sauce pan, heat butter and brown sugar over medium heat until bubbly.Cook, stirring constantly, for one minute or until slightly thickened.Beat in the milk.Blend in confectioner's sugar until the glaze is smooth and spreadable.Keep the sauce pan over the stove on the lowest possible heat to keep from hardening.[...]

A Favorite Autumn Children's Book


Janey and I read this book almost every evening.  I love the message behind it, written in form of a poem,  and the illustrations are beautiful.  (Thanks Mom, the world's best book-picker-outer.:)  It's a message of gratitude, appreciation, prayer, and duty.