Friday, May 24, 2013

When Making Friends Feels Like a First Date

Do you remember when you were in school and how effortless it was to make a new friend? You walked up to that little girl with piggy tails and said, "I like your pink dress." And then that little girl said, "Thanks! Wanna swing?" 

There were no worries that you weren't cute or funny enough. Sure you had to have the right pair of shoes to be friends with some kids, but for the most part, you spoke a few kind words and then ran hand in hand to the merry-go-round.

Making friends when you're grown up is considerably more challenging. You don't have a playground or classroom to find someone to talk to and play with. You have responsibilities, a job, and minimal down time. Now your world is diapers and after-school sports, grocery shopping and errands.

Yet as women we desire need friendships. Friendships are what connect us to the outside world, encourage us in the midst of adversity, and give us ideas when we've plum run out. Godly Christian friends are hard to find as we grow older, but they are essential to our growth and development. So, when we find someone who might be what Anne of Green Gables called "a kindred spirit," we want to make a lasting impression.  

Do you remember your first date with your husband? How you were so nervous and excited all at once? You wanted to look your best, and you probably spent hours getting ready, thinking about what you'd say and where you'd go, praying that he was "the one." You knew the importance of the first date: If it went badly, then there was no second date, no return phone call.

I feel like, as a mom in her 30s, making friends is a lot like that first date. I find someone I'm interested in pursuing as a friend. I ask lots of questions and try to get to know her well. I reach out and offer help if she needs it. I try to be a good conversationalist and learn more about her. I make a real effort to "be a friend."

Sometimes I see that this person is not "friend material" for me because we're in different places in life or we don't have similar faiths, backgrounds, or ideologies. But other times a potential friend just isn't that in to me. I call; she never calls back. I text; she never responds. And then I feel used and sad, wondering what's wrong with me. Even as a 33-year-old woman, it hurts when friendships don't work out the way we want them to. 

I've been praying on and off for years for a friend. Sure I have lots of "acquaintance-type" friends who bring food when I've had a new baby. Those friends are sweet and I love them dearly, but they aren't the kindred spirit I've been searching for. Someone who will call me right back if she misses my call, who will pray for me daily, who I can trust with my children, and who doesn't inwardly cringe at the fact that my child is not wearing underwear. Someone who gets crazy old me and my weird family. 

It's hard. We aren't kids any more. The jungle gym where I used to climb on with my friends is long gone, but I miss those easy friendships. In fact, now that I have kids and life is busy and complicated, I crave real friendships even more. They require serious effort and sacrifice on our parts, but to find a good friend is the richest of blessings.

What about you? Do you have a kindred spirit? If so, how did you meet her?

How do you find new friends? Where do you meet them?

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

May Twitterature: The Books on My Nightstand

I'm linking up with Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy again for this month's Twitterature, where we report what we've been reading--the good, the bad, & the ugly--in short, pithy blurbs replete with hash tags and affiliate links because, well, every little bit helps, right? :)

What I've Read


Hamlet (New Folger Library)

Hamlet, William Shakespeare

"Get thee to a nunnery!" Was Hamlet mad? Grief-stricken? Whatever the case, this classic tragedy is filled with parenting lessons, teenage angst, & humor. #revengeisneversweet

The Hidden Art of Homemaking

The Hidden Art of Homemaking, Edith Schaeffer

My go-to source for inspiration as a SAHM. Tons of ideas on how to make your home a haven and use your God-given talents in the process. #homemakingisanart

Mourn Not Your Dead (Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James, #4)

Mourn Not Your Dead, Deborah Crombie

4th in the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series. Highly respected major murdered in his home but mourned by none. Appearances aren't always as they seem. #Britishwhodunit #Texan author #beachreading


What I'm Currently Reading

All Shall Be Well, Deborah Crombie

3rd in the series (yes, I'm going backwards). Follows Duncan's investigation of his neighbor's suspicious death.  #veryAgathaChristie #morebeachreading #greatseries

Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert

One woman's quest for fulfillment, which continually leads to disappointment. Very evocative, especially for 19th century, pre-Hollywood lit. An easy read for a classic, but a bit disconcerting even in the 21st century. 

The Passionate Mom: Dare to Parent in Today's World

The Passionate Mom: Dare to Parent in Today's World, Susan Merrill

My new favorite mothering book that's really encouraging me to be more intentional with my time and attention to my kids. #passiontakesaction

That's what's been/is occupying my nightstand. What about you? 

Have you been reading any good books that I need to add to my Goodreads shelf? Please leave a comment sharing your suggestions.


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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Preschool Science: Ladybugs

  *Did you know ladybugs go through metamorphosis like butterflies? I didn't.

*Did you know ladybugs are actually beetles? I didn't.

*Did you know their bright coloring tells birds not to eat them because they don't taste good? I didn't.

These are just a few facts we learned from our recent preschool science project on ladybugs, which was inspired by Maureen of Spell Outloud's post "Spring Preschool Science Planning." As a mom of 7, Maureen knows how to homeschool a variety of ages, including toddlers and preschoolers, and she has a knack for making learning fun--something I definitely try to do with my kids.

Here's what we did:

First of all, I ordered the Insect Lore Ladybug Land from Amazon. Right now the kit is on sale for $14.06, down from $19.99 {price subject to change}. The kit includes the following: An observation habitat with magnifying lid and watering pad, pipette, activity guide, full instructions, & mail-in coupon for 15 to 20 ladybug larvae and food.

Once Ladybug Land arrives, you need to either mail in or order online the ladybug larvae. It will arrive about a week later in a plastic tube filled with all the food needed until the lady bugs become adults. It is imperative that you put the larvae into Ladybug Land immediately. I did not and we lost about 1/3 of the larvae. Also, be sure to add water with the pipette (included) every other day. 

Then wait and watch. There's a magnifying area on top of the observation habitat where you can see the larvae up close and personal. 

The larvae look like tiny crocodiles. I've never seen anything like it.

When the larvae began to pupate, we watched as they stuck to the side of their home. We talked about the changes that were occurring inside, comparing the lady bugs to butterflies and their process of metamorphosis. 

Approximately 4 weeks after our larvae arrived, we had ladybugs. They were in the pupa stage for about a week. Only 5 of the 13 larvae we received survived to the ladybug stage, but that in itself was a miracle because there were days I completely forgot to water them. Once the ladybugs "hatch" from the pupae stage, you have to add chopped up raisins or aphids (if you can find them) for ladybugs to eat. 

Once the ladybugs eat the raisins (or the raisins start to mold :) ), we set them free. We released the ladybugs in the morning in our front yard. The older girls were afraid to hold them, but the baby and I did. 

Books on Ladybugs

I highly recommend the following books, which I bought for our science project:

We also read these books, which we already owned:


Ladybug Coloring Sheets & Activities

In addition to ladybug books, the girls colored pictures of ladybugs from here and here and did various counting and pre-writing activities.

Links to other ladybug activities:

Ladybug Life Cycle Cards {FREE from Montessori Print Shop; beautiful photo cards plus coloring sheets}

 In Conclusion

All in all, learning about ladybugs and watching their metamorphosis was an amazing science lesson!  My toddler was too young to appreciate the process, but she did spend a lot of time looking at "the bugs" and asked LOTS of questions. My 4.5 year old enjoyed reading the books and doing the activities but didn't spend much time observing the ladybugs. Maybe she's still too young or ladybugs aren't her thing. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about ladybugs, and when my girls are older, I certainty plan to revisit this science project. I've cleaned my Ladybug Land so we're ready to use it again in the future.

Have you ever studied ladybugs? What about butterflies, ants, or praying mantises? What should we study next?

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Dear Single Woman, On Mother's Day & Every Day . . .

black and white
Photo Credit

Dear Single Woman, 

I know you. 

Not too many years ago, I was you: 

A single woman in her 20s who'd recently finished college, had a decent job, plenty of social activity, and everything going for her. 

Except one thing.

Marriage was first and foremost in my mind, too, largely because it seemed to be expected of me. At one point, in a moment of desperation, I seriously considered a proposal from someone I knew was not right for me. But thank you, Jesus, for giving me the courage to say "no" and continue in my singleness. It would only be a short time later that the man who would become my husband appeared in my life.

I know how it feels to desire something so badly that you'll think about, maybe even risk, compromising your own integrity to achieve it. 

I know what it's like to consider lowering your standards for someone who catches your eye, treats you decently, and seems like "a good enough person." 

I know how easy it is to think you can fix that guy and bring him to Christ (and, yes, that is a possibility...sometimes). But that doesn't always happen and marriage for marriage's sake is only a temporary solution, a band-aid for your aching heart that will so quickly lose its stick and require major surgery to fix.

Right here waiting for you #lonely #woman #waiting
Photo Credit

Single Woman, you are beautiful. Created in the image of our heavenly Father, you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). God knows the plans He has for you, and those plans are to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

You have high expectations for the man who will be your future husband. Cling to them, and don't ever lower them to achieve a momentary happiness. You will be miserable in the long run. Stop listening to people who say you need to "be realistic." Never settle.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. Trust in Him. Pray daily for God's will to be done. Believe in Him. Don't rely on your heart; it is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9).

Your heavenly Father wants to give you good gifts (Luke 11:11-13). Ask for them. But be content with His answer. It may mean waiting a long time for Mr. Right. Or he may be waiting just around the corner. It may also mean being single for life, but there is joy in living the life God has called you to.

Use this time of singleness to serve the Lord.

  • Be an encouragement to the youth at your church.
  • Teach a Sunday school class.
  • Serve on a committee at church that you've never been a part of.
  • Be a nursery worker.
  • Visit the elderly and shut-ins.
  • Go on a mission trip: see the world and be an ambassador of Christ to others.
  • Take every opportunity to pray, to meditate on the Word, to encourage others.
  • Count your blessings, and see how richly God has given to you. 

Find opportunities to be fruitful in this season of your life. Enjoy this season and don't wish it away. Put your hope in God alone, not in any man. Your Father loves & cares deeply for you. 

"...but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." 

Isaiah 40:31


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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A 5-Step Plan for Mamas on the Verge of Boiling Over

Strombolian eruption - Mount Etna Volcano
Photo Credit

This is my third consecutive week posting on anger. Why? Because I struggle with anger. And I venture to guess that some of you do, too, at times. 

I posted on Facebook recently about how rare it is to hear women share their struggles with anger. It's almost taboo to admit you have an anger problem. 

Here are two of the responses:
"...I struggle with it [anger], and struggled with it for a lot of my life. Its almost like if you voice it (that you have a struggle with anger, people approach you as if you are about to explode any second. It is a shame really, I think more women struggle than they want to admit...and we should come together to help one another."
"Maybe it is the whole needing to have people believe we women have that gentle and quiet spirit thing down or maybe it is just a need to look like a good, nice Christian?"

Anger is a real issue for {Christian} women.

Sin left alone will fester. Unless we confess our sins to God and are willing to share our struggles with Godly women who can pray for us and support us, then that sin will continue to grow until we are consumed by it.

In addition to daily prayer, I've devised a 5 step plan to help me in situations when I'm on the verge of succumbing to anger. {Note: This is my personal plan. It may or may not work for you in your situation, but it's what I'm attempting to help me. I suggest that if you struggle with anger you devise a plan that will help you according to your specific needs and situation.}


1.Take 5. 

"In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent."

Psalm 4:4
 Sometimes even Mommy needs a time-out. Send everyone to their rooms, put baby in the crib, and retreat for 5-10 minutes. Alone. Go to your bed, closet, bathroom, outside--wherever you can best think, relax, and calm down. If you're out and about, get everyone in the car and go home. The grocery store can wait but losing your cool in public could have devastating consequences.  


2. Pray.

"Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension."

1 Timothy 2:8
Once I'm home and have distanced myself from the children, I pray. I have verses everywhere: on my lampshade, in my household notebook, on the bathroom mirror, even on the refrigerator. Wherever I have retreated to, I take a few minutes and meditate on the verse and pray, asking God to fill my heart with love and peace and for the Holy Spirit to speak through me to my children. It's amazing how much calmer I am after spending just a few minutes in prayer.


3. Take out the emotion. 

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
Proverbs 15:1
When my kids are disrespectful, my blood boils, and I often act on impulse and emotion instead of in wisdom and love. If we're in public, concern with keeping up appearances takes precedence over the salvation of their souls. I'm more upset by their embarrassment of me than teaching them why we need to respect and love others. And if we're at home, repeated incidents of willful disobedience often lead me to say and do things that exasperate my children.

In recent weeks I've made a real effort to curb my emotions. To pretend that I'm the emotionless trooper who gave me a ticket earlier this year, despite three crying kids in the backseat--one with blue marker all.over.her.body. No remorse, no pity, not even a smile. It was "strictly business." I need to stop taking my kids' misbehavior personally and remember they're kids. I need to make discipline strictly business instead of a time to vent my anger and frustration at them. 


4. Love on 'em.

"[Love] is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs."

1 Corinthians 13:5

And once I've disciplined my children, I need to show them love, covering them with hugs and kisses and letting them know without a doubt that they are ferociously loved.  I don't do a good job at this. I usually discipline and move on, but our kids need to know that even though they make mistakes, they are still loved by me, their father, and their Father. They need to know that discipline is love and that even Mommy and Daddy have to be disciplined at times by our heavenly Father.


5. Pray some more. 

" everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

Philippians 4:6-7
This would also be the perfect time to pray with them and ask God to help them with that specific sin they're struggling with. That's real love, folks, showing our children that our sins will be forgiven if we take them to the Father. Teaching children to pray for help is big and something we need to model for them. When I sin against my kids, especially when I lash out in anger, they need to see me seeking God's forgiveness and finding peace afterwards. They need to know that even though we are "big," we still struggle with sin, but when we ask God for forgiveness and help, He listens and acts.

Anger is a real issue for Moms. Instead of ignoring it, we need to seek help: from God, our husbands, & our Christian friends. These 5 steps are my way of working on anger with my own children, but maybe it can work for you, too. I'm not there yet; the journey is long and every day I am challenged again & again, but I'm working on it. If you are struggling with anger, too, please email me or leave a comment below. I would love to pray for you.

 For another great post to help you deal with anger, check out:
"10 Things to Try Before You Lose Your Temper With Your Child" by momstheword 

Previous posts on Anger:
"When We Exasperate Our Children, We Put Their Salvation at Risk"
"When Our Anger Isn't Under Control"
"Secret Sins: Because Sometimes We Need to Stop Hiding & Seek Help"

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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Menu Plan for the Week of May 5th

So, it's getting to be that time of the year. You know, the time when school starts wrapping up for the summer, sports programs end, and the summer activities begin. For our family that means the end of Mother's Day Out, Bible study, and ballet and more time relaxing and playing at home. I'm looking forward to the break, but in the meantime, we've got a lot going on the next few weeks, so I'm posting my menu plan to keep me motivated AND so you can get some new ideas yourself.

We're also celebrating birthdays at my parents' house on Friday, so no Pizza Night this week.


Source: via Keri on Pinterest

Oatmeal with blueberries
Cinnamon toast & eggs
Peanut butter-chocolate chip muffins with fruit
Yogurt & granola
Sausage, eggs, & toast   



Mini deep dish pizzas with fruit
Turkey & cheese roll-ups, chips, & fruit
Macaroni & cheese 
Black bean quesadillas


Grilled balsamic chicken with fried corn, sliced tomatoes, & mashed potatoes

Herbed Greek chicken salad with leftover chicken & homemade Naan {this stuff rocks!}

Creamy chicken spaghetti casserole, salad, & whole wheat rolls

Northern (white) beans, fried cornbread, & sliced tomatoes 

Beefy-bean burritos with guacamole, lettuce, & tomatoes

Here's looking forward to a fabulous new week! 

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Happy 1st Birthday, Anna Elizabeth!

Annabeth, today you are ONE year old. Oh, how the days have flown by!

From the very beginning, you have been a joy to your Mama and Daddy.

When you decided to join us on the outside, you came quickly but easily. You rarely cry. You are a good sleeper, and you tolerate a LOT of sibling attention.

Annabeth, or AB as your family lovingly calls you, you light up the room with your infectious smile and giggling sweetness. Your lone dimple begs to be kissed.

Easily entertained, you will sit by yourself for long periods of time occupied only with a basket of toys and books. You don't need Mama or a sister to play with you, but prefer to be alone.

In spite of your "one little shiny tooth," you're a voracious eater. In fact, I would venture to call you a Marathon Eater: you eat and eat and eat at a rapid but steady pace. 

Yet somehow you manage to be covered with food when you're finished. Your Daddy and I think you might actually be messier than your sister Cora; that's no easy feat, girlfriend.

Annabeth, you still aren't walking and I'm okay with that. Really. With your big sisters, I was ready for them to walk, but, you, I just want to stay a baby forever. So crawl, pull up, and roll over to your heart's content.

AB, you are curious and devilish with your little 'tude. But you're also a sweet little angel. You have made your family's life so much richer than we could have ever imagined.

Thank you, Lord, for your precious gift of Anna Elizabeth, whom we fondly call Annabeth.

Happy 1st birthday, big girl! We love you!!