Homeschooling

A Review of Timberdoodle’s Bata-Waf

September 12, 2022
Bata Waf

We received Timberdoodle’s Bata-Waf in exchange for an honest review. We have so much fun with this game and it also taught my three-year-old some important lessons. Read on to learn more about Bata-Waf

Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. 

We have officially embarked on our homeschooling journey! In my search for a curriculum that balanced my desire for a STEM-based curriculum that incorporated gameschooling, I found Timberdoodle. It is a faith-based organization that also offers secular curriculum options as well. Their curriculum is robust, creative, and seems to check all of our boxes. So, I joined their blogging team! Which means that I’ll be regularly reviewing products that Timberdoodle carries, as well as reviewing their Preschool and Kindergarten curriculum kits. I’m incredibly excited about this and can’t wait for you all to learn about Timberdoodle as well!

Bata-Waf is a game from Timberdoodle that you can purchase on its own, or as part of the preschool curriculum kit. To learn more about Timberdoodle’s preschool curriculum kit, check out my unboxing video here.

How to play the game 

Did you ever play the card game “War” as a kid? This is basically an even simpler version of War that incorporates adorably illustrated dogs. Each card has a dog and 6 lines on the side to show the height of the dog. Each player flips over one doggy card for each round, and the player with the biggest dog wins that round and takes all of the flipped over cards. The goal of the game is to end up with all of the cards (or the biggest stack). 

If two players flip over the same sized dogs, then you go to “war.” (Remember: I. DE-CLARE. WAR.?!) Each player puts down one card (without turning it over) and then flips over another card on top of that. Whoever has the biggest dog wins all of the cards in the center. If you tie again, you repeat this same process. 

What my kids thought of Bata-Waf 

My 3yo loved the colorful, funny dogs and “the eating part” – when we played the game, the bigger dog would gobble up the smaller dog. We would make silly gobbling sounds and the kids thought it was hilarious. My 5yo said he liked the “war” part – if you have the same sized dog, you compete against one another and whoever has the next biggest dog wins all the cards. He enjoyed this part the most.

What we learned from Bata-Waf 

The most critical lesson my preschooler learned from Bata-Waf is how to be a good loser. The tides turn quickly in this game – one minute you have almost all the cards, and then the next you’re handing over half your stack. My 3yo did great if he was winning, but the moment he started losing, he struggled. Which is a great opportunity for him to grow and learn! This game led to some good coaching moments.

This game also helps kids to be able to quickly compare sizes (“which dog is bigger?”) and even counting and number recognition, if you help them focus on the numbered lines.

Have you played Bata Waf before? If not, what’s your family’s favorite card game? Comment below and let me know!

To learn more about Bata Waf or to purchase, click here. If you’d like to learn more about Timberdoodle’s Preschool curriculum, click here.

Homeschooling

Kindergarten Homeschooling Schedule Using Timberdoodle’s Elite Kit

August 29, 2022
kindergarten homeschooling schedule timberdoodle

We recently started homeschooling our two boys – our oldest is in Kindergarten (5yo) and our youngest is preschool-aged (3yo). As I searched for a homeschooling curriculum that fit our needs, there were a few things I was looking for:

  • Strong STEM-based curriculum
  • Incorporates games
  • Emphasis on problem solving and critical thinking skills
  • Bonus points for faith-based curriculum

As I reviewed what Timberdoodle offered, it checked all of our boxes, and more. Not only did it offer a strong STEM-based curriculum, the elite kit also includes a plethora of games, building/engineering tools, critical thinking workbooks, as well as offering faith-based options for social studies and science.

For my oldest son, we chose Timberdoodle’s Kindergarten Elite curriculum kit. Which, I have to tell you, has A TON of amazing material. Probably more than we’ll ever use in a year.

Over the summer, we started lightly implementing the curriculum in order to ease ourselves into a homeschooling schedule. But now that it’s officially the start of the school year, we are attempting to utilize the whole curriculum.

Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission when you buy through the links on this page.

Here’s what an average day (so far) looks like for us with the Timberdoodle Kindergarten kit:

7:30am – kids’ green light turns on, they can come out of their rooms and play with their morning boxes (see more about this below)

8:15am – breakfast & short devotional (we’re using this book right now)

8:30am – Reading & Math (~20 min each), critical thinking (~10 min)

9:30am – weekly add-on subject (science, geography, art, building activity, emotional intelligence)

10:00am – snack then free play while mama works OR other activity (homeschooling co-op, field trip, park, etc.)

11:30am – clean up, get lunch ready

12:00pm – lunch, reading time or play a game

12:30pm – quiet time

2:00pm – clean up time

2:30pm – TV time

3:00pm – play time

6:00pm – dinner

7:00pm – bedtime routine

Here’s how we rotate our “add-on” subjects:

Monday – Geography/History (we’ll do the world map puzzle, a maze from Around the World Mazes, and/or a couple pages from the Geography workbook, Here and There, or My Story K)

Tuesday – Science (experiment from Show Me Science Kit and/or read Look Inside My Body book)

Wednesday – Emotional Intelligence (“What’s Going on Here?” cards or Happy, Sad, Feeling Glad book)

Thursday – Art (Making Animals Air Dough Kit, I Can Doodle Rhymes book, Animals and Their Homes Kit, Aquarellum Animal Postcards, or Bug Scratch boards)

Friday – Building activity from ThinkPlay Gears Extreme + handwriting

My 5yo painting with Aquarellum Animal Postcards

What’s a morning box?

Morning boxes (or morning bins) are simply boxes that the kids play with when they first wake up while I’m doing other things – having a prayer time, reading my Bible, exercising or getting breakfast ready. The items in these boxes are reserved for this time only – they don’t play with these items at any other time, so when they see them in the mornings, it’s extra special.

Here’s what’s inside our morning boxes:

Monday Mad Mattr (kinetic sand + tools from Timberdoodle)

TuesdayPlus Plus (an open-ended play building set from Timberdoodle’s Preschool kit)

Wednesday – coloring/stickers

ThursdayThinkPlay (another open-ended play building set from Timberdoodle)

FridayMagnet Tiles

Saturday – play doh

Sunday – coloring/stamps

One of the building challenges from Timberdoodle’s ThinkPlay Gears Extreme

A few notes on what we’re NOT using from the Timberdoodle Kindergarten Elite kit:

Right now, we are not utilizing the science workbook all that much – to be honest, it’s pretty basic, but between the science experiment kit (which includes online videos before each experiment) and the body book, we’re plenty occupied and satisfied with science. We are not using the OLSAT prep book at all. Right now, as we’re still learning to read and in the thick of that, we’re not utilizing the handwriting book that frequently or the spelling book. I’m assuming that we’ll start using those more later on, but for right now we have enough on our hands with the All About Reading kit.

A final note about our schedule:

While I am thrilled about the Timberdoodle curriculum kit, I’m also not a slave to it. For example, today my son wanted to make paper airplanes after we were done with our math and reading. So instead of working on Geography, we made paper airplanes and watched a video about lift and drag (the physics behind why airplanes fly). It was great! But we totally skipped our Geography/History lesson. And I’m okay with that. We probably won’t get through *all* of the curriculum for the add-ons subjects, but my kids are learning and I’m letting them explore their interests – which is so important.

We are, however, pretty ‘strict’ about math and reading time – we do those two subjects no matter what because those form the foundation of pretty much every other type of learning. And it’s also good for kids to have to sit their butts in a seat for at least part of the day!

Stay tuned for more posts about gameschooling using Timberdoodle and reviews of Timberdoodle’s All About Reading and Math-U-See Alpha (1st grade math)!

Learning Chess with Timberdoodle’s Story Time Chess set

So far we are LOVING Timberdoodle’s Kindergarten curriculum! To check out the various elements of the curriculum kit, visit the links below:

Kindergarten Curriculum Kit https://timberdoodle.com/products/2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know https://timberdoodle.com/products/what-your-kindergartener-needs-to-know?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Spelling You See A https://timberdoodle.com/products/spelling-you-see-level-a?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

All About Reading 1 https://timberdoodle.com/products/all-about-reading-level-1?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Italic Handwriting A https://timberdoodle.com/products/italic-handwriting-book-a-kindergarten?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Math-U-See Alpha https://timberdoodle.com/products/math-u-see-alpha?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Wrap-Ups Addition https://timberdoodle.com/products/wrap-ups-addition?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Smart Farmer https://timberdoodle.com/products/smart-farmer?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Story Time Chess https://timberdoodle.com/products/story-time-chess?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Gobblet Gobblers https://timberdoodle.com/products/gobblet-gobblers?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Kumon Thinking Skills K https://timberdoodle.com/products/kumon-thinking-skills-k?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

OLSAT Test Prep A https://timberdoodle.com/products/olsat-test-prep-level-a?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Apple Twist https://timberdoodle.com/products/apple-twist?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

ThinkPlay Gears Extreme https://timberdoodle.com/products/thinkplay-gears-extreme?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Look Inside Your Body https://timberdoodle.com/products/look-inside-your-body?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Show Me Science: Slime, Crystals & More https://timberdoodle.com/products/show-me-science-slime-crystals-more?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Skill Sharpeners Science K https://timberdoodle.com/products/skill-sharpeners-science-grade-k?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Happy Sad Feeling Glad https://timberdoodle.com/products/happy-sad-feeling-glad?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

What’s Going on Here? https://timberdoodle.com/products/what-s-going-on-here-flash-cards?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Here and There https://timberdoodle.com/products/here-and-there?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

My Story K https://timberdoodle.com/products/my-story-k?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Faber-Castell Pencil Sharpener https://timberdoodle.com/products/faber-castell-pencil-sharpener?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Grip Colored EcoPencils https://timberdoodle.com/products/faber-castell-grip-colored-ecopencils-24-pc?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Mad Mattr Craftsman https://timberdoodle.com/products/mad-mattr-craftsman?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

My First Pencils https://timberdoodle.com/products/my-first-pencils?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Skill Sharpeners Geography K https://timberdoodle.com/products/skill-sharpeners-geography-grade-k?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Around the World Mazes https://timberdoodle.com/products/usborne-around-the-world-mazes?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Kids World Map Puzzle https://timberdoodle.com/products/kids-world-map-puzzle-100?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

I Can Doodle Rhymes https://timberdoodle.com/products/i-can-doodle-rhymes?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Bugs Scratch Boards https://timberdoodle.com/products/bugs-scratch-boards?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Aquarellum Animal Postcards https://timberdoodle.com/products/aquarellum-animal-postcards?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Animals and Their Homes Multi-Activity Box https://timberdoodle.com/products/animals-and-their-homes-multi-activity-box?utm_source=mommy_mayhem&utm_medium=brt&utm_campaign=2022-kindergarten-curriculum-kit

Are you homeschooling? Comment below and let me know what your daily schedule is like!

For tips on crafting a shared homeschooling/office space, check out this post.

Chronic Pain Tips Devotionals for Moms

The Battle with Unanswered Prayers

July 13, 2022
unanswered prayers

Have you ever avoided a topic because it scares you? You scroll quickly, quickly, past that article, lest it catches your heart and you’re forced to read. You nod politely when someone brings it up, but don’t let yourself delve deeper. 

That was me on the subject of unanswered prayers. 

For so long I thought the lesson was surrender. Peace, peace, deep inner peace for all the unanswered prayers. 

But really my heart was bleeding. God, do you hear me? Where is my healing? Where is this persistent widow’s answer? 

These thoughts would swirl, faster, faster, in my mind until I caught them. Forced them into that place where I don’t look. Take captive every thought…

But the place grew deeper, and my sadness lengthened. 

Where is my healing, Lord? 

One morning, on a prayer walk with my husband, I was so filled with tears. I’m alone, I pray. I feel unseen, unheard. By you, by everyone. 

I share my pain with friends, family, but it feels like no one cares. Does anyone see me? Can anyone else sense me drowning? 

In desperation, I pray: God, send me someone who will see me. Who will understand my hurt, my pain. Who can help me carry this burden. 

If I had been in my right mind, I wouldn’t have prayed this prayer. It didn’t serve others, only me. It was frivolous, unnecessary even. But I was in pain, hurting. My mind wasn’t right. It was desperate. So I prayed this prayer. 

That very afternoon after my desperate prayer, I get a message from a friend. Someone I hadn’t spoken to in months: How are you? 

And I knew. I knew this was an answer to my pray. I immediately knew, this person sees me. They’ve seen my pain in the past. We’ve cried together. We’ve mourned our losses together, hers greater than mine even. 

And so I tell her. In a way I hadn’t been able to express to anyone else how I’m really doing. The heartache and the despair behind every step, every breath. 

And she sees me. 

And it’s only later that I remember to thank God. He answered my prayer.

And I think of all the unanswered prayers and how they suddenly pale in comparison to this one, clear, answered prayer. 

And I feel the ice around my heart melting away, the bitterness that had dug a void in my mind, finally clearing. 

He answered my prayer, He hears me. I am not alone. 

Continue Reading

Homeschooling

5 Simple Tips for Creating a Shared Homeschooling Office Space

July 4, 2022
Creating a Shared Homeschooling Space

Are you trying to homeschool in a shared office space? We just recently opened up my home office to start homeschooling my 5 year old son. Today, I’m going to share with you 5 tips for creating a shared homeschooling space! Scroll down to download free printable homeschooling quotes for your classroom!

Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission when you buy through the links on this page.

Our “before” homeschooling space:

We didn’t have great storage options, and the space is pretty cluttered and doesn’t flow very well.

My desk is a mess and our seating isn’t functional!

Our “After” Homeschooling Space:

Pick a Theme

If your office already has a theme, great. If not, this is a good place to start. What do you want the vibe to be? For my office, I wanted a farmhouse glam look. There are some old, classic elements like my desk that I refinished and the built-in bookshelves, mixed with some gold metallics, a fun rug, and some soft textures. However, once we moved the kids’ homeschooling stuff into the office, it just didn’t mesh very well because it didn’t fit the theme. So, we had to make some adjustments in order for everything to flow. We knew we weren’t going to change the desk (it’s my husband’s desk that he uses typically at night or on the weekends). The simplest thing to change: the seating. I’ll get to that in more detail a little later! But for now here’s some simple things to add to solidify your theme:

  • Rug
  • Lighting
  • Cushions/pillows/throw blankets/curtains
  • Decorative elements like art, plants, picture frames, etc.

For inspiration, well, that’s what Pinterest is for, right?!

This is what we have in our home:

So, to sum up: what will your shared office theme be? What ‘vibes’ are you going for? This will guide your decision making from here on out.

Storage

One of the more challenging aspects of sharing an office is the storage! The first thing you’ll need to figure out is how much storage space you’ll need, and how to make that happen.

For me that meant cleaning out my desk (which needed to happen anyway!) so I could store my son’s homeschooling portfolio in there. The next thing I did was get collect some wire baskets I had around the house, clear them out, and put them at the bottom of my built in bookshelves to use for supplies.

Lastly, I got a corner bookshelf and that will be the dedicated area for the homeschooling curriculum. I love this corner bookshelf because it takes up minimal space (it’s in the corner!), it fits the theme, and it has an extension so that I can plug things in right to the bookshelf, which is super handy. The only downside is that the bookshelf cubbies are not tall enough to store our workbooks upright, so I have to lay them down. Which isn’t a huge deal, it’s just not as aesthetically pleasing. No biggie.

So, how much storage space do you need? Is there an existing storage space you can repurpose? Or do you need to get additional storage space? Will you need a whole bookshelf, some extra baskets, or space in your desk drawers?

Additionally, I have one of those plastic cubbies that I keep in the garage with craft supplies. I couldn’t find the exact one that I have, but the one listed below is even better. I used to keep it in my office, but I found that the kids would get into it whenever I wasn’t looking, and then I’d have a million googly eyes scattered across the house. No fun.

This is what we have in our home:

Inspirational Quotes or Reminders

When we started homeschooling, I realized pretty quickly that I needed some reminders, or quotes, set up in our homeschooling space. On a practical note, we needed some numbers and the alphabet for my son to look at when he needed a reminder. I found these printables on Etsy and put them in these frames from Amazon.

Next, I wanted to have some reminders or quotes that would help with our mindset (both my son’s and mine!) as we embark on homeschooling. The first was a reminder to both of us that we all make mistakes, have bad days, and don’t know everything. On my part, I want to enter into this homeschooling relationship with my son with humility and compassion. I also wanted a reminder for us to not give up – even if we get frustrated, even if we’re stumped by something, the only way we fail is if we stop trying. So I created this printable to serve as a reminder of those principles.

If you’re interested in this printable, you can download it for free!

The next quote I chose was from 1 Corinthians 13, a passage about love. This is something I’ve been trying to reiterate to my son as much as possible these days – how much we love him, and what love really means. Of course, no one (except Jesus!) is perfect with these principles, but it’s definitely something we’re striving for. This quote serves as a reminder to me to try to exemplify these virtues, and also serves as a reminder to my son that he will always have my love (and God’s love) to fall back on. And I think there’s no place these qualities are more needed than in the home (and the classroom!).

If you’d like to download this printable, you can! For free!

So, what reminders or quotes do you want in your shared office space?

This is what we have in our home:

If you don’t have any Command Strips or Command Hooks for hanging your pictures, whiteboard or other art, definitely get some! It’ll make your life SO much easier, and save your walls/paint from having a million holes in them.

Comfortable Seating (that fits the theme!)

This was key to our shared space working well because we had very different, mismatched chairs that made the room not flow that well. By getting matching chairs that fit the theme and fit the (now) smaller space, it created a better flow AND functionality. But it took me a while to find chairs that were comfortable, functional AND fit the space/theme well. It was worth it, though.

Ultimately, we’re going to be using this space every day for a long time, so I’d rather us be comfortable AND like the space we’re sitting in!

I found our chairs on Amazon – which is a bit risky in terms of finding comfortable seating, since you can’t sit in them before you buy them. But I made sure that the chairs I chose had lots of reviews and that the reviews consistently mentioned comfort. I was *very* close to buying chairs that people had reviewed as uncomfortable, but I ended up finding these other chairs and I’m glad I did.

So, do you have comfortable, functional seating that you feel good about? If not, what are your most important needs for seating?

For us, I knew that I wanted chairs that rolled (so I could easily push my kids closer to the homeschooling table), lower backs (so the chairs didn’t take up too much space and so that they were more comfortable for the kids) and preferably white/gold chairs to match the theme. I found all three! Woohoo!

So, what kind of seating do you have in your shared homeschooling space? If you’re not happy with your current seating options, what are your seating needs?

This is what we have in our home:

Make it Their Space, Too

So your office is obviously your office. But what would make it their space as well? You can accomplish this without letting it become ALL their space! For example, I moved some of their books and coloring books into the office space so that they have the option of doing that in the office. I also decorated the bookshelf with clay animals we made together. But I’ve kept my desk off limits – they can’t open the drawers or play on my desk. (This rule is especially for my 3yo, who seems to have a homing device for all dangerous objects.)

This is important because you want your kids to feel comfortable and confident in their homeschooling space!

So, what ways can you make your shared homeschooling space special for your kids? Even something as simple as writing your child’s name on the whiteboard could make it feel like ‘theirs’ too!

This is what we have in our home:

I hope this article has been helpful for you as you try to put together a shared homeschooling space for your family!

Comment below and let me know what tips you plan to implement in your homeschooling room!

Activities & Crafts Homeschooling

A Review of Timberdoodle’s Making Animals Air Dough Kit

May 28, 2022

We received Timberdoodle’s Making Animals Air Dough Kit in exchange for an honest review. We LOVED this kit and it occupied my kids for quite some time. Read on to learn more about this air dough kit!

Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission when you buy through the links on this page.

We have officially embarked on our homeschooling journey! In my search for a curriculum that balanced my desire for a STEM-based curriculum that incorporated gameschooling, I found Timberdoodle. It is a faith-based organization that also offers secular curriculum options as well. Their curriculum is robust, creative, and seems to check all of our boxes. So, I joined their blogging team! Which means that I’ll be regularly reviewing products that Timberdoodle carries, as well as reviewing their Kindergarten curriculum kit. I’m incredibly excited about this and can’t wait for you all to learn about Timberdoodle as well!

Making Animals Air Dough Kit is included in Timberdoodle’s second grade curriculum kit.

Timberdoodle’s Making Animals Air Dough Kit

Included in the Making Animals Air Dough Kit:

  • 60 individually packaged air dough packets (pretty small packets – about 2inx3in) – 6 packets are glow in the dark (and we tested them, they do lightly glow in the dark).
  • 13 different colors of air dough
  • 3 tools (that are mostly kid safe)
  • 5 sets of googly eyes
  • Two instruction booklets: one smaller booklet inside the kit, and another more robust book with 46 different animal creations

First Impressions

The first thing I noticed about the kit is that it’s pretty large. There are A LOT of colors, which are all individually wrapped in small packages. A very colorful, beautiful book was included that had instructions for how to create 46 different animals, all using the same techniques that they teach you at the beginning of the book.

How we used Making Animals Air Dough Kit

The first thing we did was go through the book, learn the techniques at the beginning (making a ball, teardrop and worm), and then select some animals we wanted to make. First we made penguins. My son had an easier time making a 2D shapes at first, but he eventually got the hang of it.

Timberdoodle Making Animals Air Dough Kit
My son making a flat penguin

After that, we tried our hand at making kangaroos, which was a little more complicated.

Making Animals Air Dough Kit: kangaroo
My blue kangaroo, next to the book’s kangaroo
Finn’s multi-colored kangaroo, which looked more like an alien than a kangaroo – but he was proud and had so much fun making it!

After this, I decided to let them have some open play with the air dough, to make whatever they wanted. Mostly they just wanted to squish it, make balls with it, combine colors, and make some monsters with lots of eyeballs. This was awesome! It’s rare that an activity will keep their attention for longer than 20-30 minutes, and they continued playing with the air dough for over an hour.

They returned to the kit the next day (at their request) and we made some really cute birds. My 5yo was more adept at the techniques the second day, and more capable of making his own creations with minimal help on my part. Our almost 3yo sat still long enough for us to make a chick together, which he was really proud of!

My (almost) 3yo with his baby chick

Again, I let them have some open play with the air dough and my 5yo made a snake, and then another monster. My youngest mostly liked combining different colors and making balls. I knew it was a real hit when a friend came over and they wanted him to play with the air dough, too.

I will note that the mini instruction book included in the kit was inside a plastic bag and it was damp and moldy. That went in the trash ASAP. So we didn’t do anything from that instruction book.

Another remark: the dough packets are small, so you might want to open multiple of the same color in order to make a bigger animal.

This really is the lightest, fluffiest dough and it’s VERY fun to play with! Definitely recommend for that reason alone.

Testing the claims on the box:

The box makes some claims about the dough, and I tested them: it didn’t stick to fabric or carpet, unless we got it wet. It really was pretty mess free. Occasionally some dots of dough would make it to the ground, but because they didn’t stick to anything, it was easy to clean up. Definitely easier than play dough! As I said before, we tested the glow-in-the-dark dough and it did lightly glow in our closed pantry. It also says its ages 3+ and my youngest is just under 3 years old, and I think he’s barely old enough to make creations, though I bet younger kids would still enjoy playing with it. The dough did dry overnight, but it still felt soft, though not pliable. It doesn’t harden into a hard clay, which is fine by me because that means the creations are less breakable.

My kids’ reactions:

Me: What did you think of the air dough kit?

Finn (5): It was awesome.
Me: What was your favorite part?

Finn: That I got to build with it.

Me: What was your favorite thing to build?

Finn: the kangaroos

Me: Was there anything you didn’t like about it?

Finn: No, not at all.

My almost 3yo said: (It was) “very special” and that he loved “mixing colors.”

Safe to say, the kids loved it!

Summary of Timberdoodle’s Making Animals Air Dough Kit:

This light, airy dough is super fun to play with and kept my kids very engaged for a long time. Making the creations in the book was fun, though our versions didn’t come close to the real ones, but that was perfectly fine by us! My kids had a ton of fun with open play with this dough – just squishing and squashing it, mixing colors, making their own creations, etc. As far as we could test them, the claims on the box were true. For the price ($37.95) I would hope that this kit would give us multiple play sessions, and it certainly did. The book included is beautiful and will last for a long time after the dough is gone – we’ll be able to use it with other dough or even play dough.

This kit would be perfect as an art add-on to your homeschooling curriculum, or as a fun indoor activity for a super hot or rainy day! To learn more about the kit, or to purchase one, click here: Timberdoodle’s Making Animals Air Dough Kit.

If you’re looking for more summer activity ideas, check out these posts:

5 Tips for a Fun & Easy Summer Schedule

Our favorite Outer Space Activities

Tissue Paper Watermelon Craft for Little Ones

26 Summer Date Ideas

Parenting

Sex Trafficking: What it is, How to Help & How to Protect Your Kids

January 12, 2022
sex trafficking prevention

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Sex trafficking is one of the worst things that happens in our world today. And, I’m going to be honest, it’s very difficult to write about. But it’s so important that we are aware of what’s happening in our world so that we can prevent it and protect each other and our children.

What is sex trafficking?

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act – which was passed in 2000 in the U.S. and officially made trafficking illegal – defines sex trafficking as:

The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.

22 U.S.C. § 7102

So basically what this means is victims of sex trafficking are those who are forced to have sex (or any kind of sexual act) in exchange for money or something of value. The ‘something of value’ can be food, shelter, or other necessities. If the victim is under the age of 18, there does not need to be force, fraud or coercion for it to be considered sex trafficking.

The definition here clarifies something that’s very important: there is no such thing as a ‘child prostitute.’ Children who are used for sexual acts are victims 100% of the time. It doesn’t matter how they ended up there, children should never be used by adults for sex.

How prevalent is human trafficking?

Trafficking can feel like it’s not that common – especially if you don’t know of anyone who has been trafficked or you don’t see evidence of it in your day to day life. But human trafficking is a $150 billion industry, affecting nearly 25 million people across the globe. Approximately 4.8 million of those people are involved in sex trafficking. Of course, there isn’t a reliable way we can know the true number of victims.

It can be easy to assume that sex trafficking happens to other people in other countries. However, it is a huge problem right here in the United States – to U.S. citizens. According to a study of the U.S. Department of Justice human trafficking task force cases, 83 percent of sex trafficking victims in the United States were U.S. citizens.

What’s worse is that more than 1 in 5 trafficking victims are children.

Source: International Labour Office. (2017). Global estimates of modern slavery: Forced labour and forced marriage. Geneva: International Labour Organization. Retrieved from https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@dgreports/@dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_575479.pdf

What are signs of a trafficking victim?

The Pasco County Commission on Human Trafficking created these fantastic graphics to help us raise awareness of common trafficking indicators:

Source: Pasco County Commission on Human Trafficking

What can I do to help fight sex trafficking?

Source: Pasco County Commission on Human Trafficking and Fair Trade International

Stop watching pornography

Pornography and the sex trafficking industry are undeniably linked. For example, if a child (anyone under the age of 18) is being used in pornographic material, this is defined as sex trafficking. And one of the most common searches related to porn include the terms ‘youth’ or ‘teen.’ If you are watching pornography that involves a person under the age of 18, you are watching a victim of sex trafficking and thereby contributing to the demand for sex trafficking.

Even if you’re watching porn with only adults involved, there is no way to know if that person has been coerced (and therefore is a victim of sex trafficking). In one survey of underage sex trafficking victims, 63% said they were advertised or sold online (source).

Additionally, sex traffickers often use pornography to groom and desensitize their victims.

To read more about this, read: Porn and Human Trafficking and Is the Porn Industry Connected to Sex Trafficking?

Learn how porn is rewiring your brain: Covenant Eyes Your Brain on Porn

If you want help with ending an addiction to pornography, or if you want to protect those in your family from accessing pornography, check out Covenant Eyes. Sign up with promo code MAYHEM30 to receive 30 days FREE.

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Devotionals for Moms

Hot Mess Mom: I See You.

August 16, 2021
hot mess mom

Hey there, hot mess mama.

I see you.

I see you trying to wrestle your kids into their car seats while they writhe and scream and make you want to give up trying to go anywhere with them ever again.

I see you trying to put together a healthy meal for your kids to throw on the floor eat – only to pour yourself a bowl of cereal in exhaustion.

I feel your frustration as your child throws himself on the floor yet again while you try to get him dressed so that you can be late yet again.

I see you as you try to read your Bible during nap time, only to fall asleep in the pages of Leviticus once more.

I see you showing up with no makeup, oatmeal in your hair, spit up on your shirt, with the contents of your diaper bag strewn across your car as you search for THE ONLY TOY THAT MATTERS to your child. The one you left at home.

I see you as you scroll through Instagram looking at moms who have tighter bodies, better schedules, cleaner homes, happier kids, all while they make more money through their side hustles and plan elaborate educational activities for their kids.

You wonder if you’ll ever NOT feel tired again, if your body will ever look the same, if your family will ever appreciate your work, if you’ll ever make the money you want to make or accomplish any goals ever again.

You wonder if you’ll ever have it all together.

I’m with you, and I am you.

I am the hot mess mom who never has it all together – the one who makes the other moms feel like THEY have it more together than they originally thought.

I work and plan and hope and pray to one day have it all together. I print schedules, make chore charts, meal plan, set alarms, scour Pinterest, read all the books and all the articles and pray all the prayers.

And I just know that this is the week I will finally have it all together. This is the day.

And here’s the honest truth: I won’t.

Perfection is a lie perpetuated by our own guilty consciences, social media, and Satan.

The moment we feel like we have arrived and are finally perfect – that’s the moment when we disown the work of Jesus to save us from our imperfections.

Here is the good news, my hot mess friend: you don’t have to be perfect, because God already is.

And here’s some more good news: God meets us where we are in our struggle to be more like Him.

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Isaiah 40:11

This idea that God gently leads those who have young is almost startling to me. The powerful, awesome God who created the stars in the sky and conjured up such terrors as crocodiles, Great White Sharks and super volcanoes – this same God is also…gentle?

So I dug a little deeper into this verse. What does it mean for God to gently lead me?

The Hebrew term used for ‘He gently leads’ means ‘to lead or guide to a watering place, bring to a place of rest, refresh.’ This is the same terminology used in such verses as Exodus 15:13, Psalm 23:2, Psalm 31:3, Isaiah 49:10, 2 Chronicles 28:15, and 2 Chronicles 32:22.

I don’t know about you, but I adore the idea of rest and refreshment. I picture God leading me to a quiet place by the water where I can rest on a blanket in the shade. I can eat (without someone stealing my food or complaining about theirs), I can close my eyes and sleep (without listening to a monitor for a crying baby), I can read a book leisurely without interruption, and I can breathe.

This is my vision. What’s yours? Where is God leading you for your rest?

So if you’re feeling like a hot mess mom today, remember two things:

1. You are not alone.

2. God is gently leading you toward rest.

We can follow David’s example and pray for God to lead and guide us:

Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.

Psalm 31:3

And lastly, let’s have faith and trust that God WILL lead us to a place of rest. In His timing, which is perfect.

In the meantime, know that you are not alone, hot mess mom – God is with you. And so am I!

Anti-Inflammatory Diet Recipes Chronic Pain Tips

Simple Anti-Inflammatory Stir Fry

February 24, 2021
simple anti inflammatory stir fry

A simple anti-inflammatory stir fry that’s easy to make and filled with inflammation fighting foods!

If you’re looking for a go-to anti-inflammatory meal, this is mine. This simple stir fry is chock full of inflammation fighting foods, it’s easily customized and very versatile depending on what veggies you love in your stir fry. Also, it’s dairy-free, gluten free, sugar free and yet, it’s NOT taste-free!! 😉

For more anti-inflammatory meals that the entire family can enjoy, check out this post: Anti-Inflammatory Meals for the Whole Family.

There’s so many different ways to make this dish – and that’s what makes it my go-to weeknight meal that we don’t get tired of. You can swap out rice for rice noodles or even spaghetti squash as the base. You can utilize in-season vegetables along with tried-and-true veggies your family loves. I’ll also occasionally include chunks of pineapple or mango for a sweet surprise!

So, pick your family’s favorite veggies, throw them on the pan with some olive or coconut oil and stir fry away! You can easily make this a vegetarian dish or include shrimp, seared tuna or beef.

One way to make this dish even simpler is to purchase pre-chopped veggies in your produce department. Some stores even have a “stir fry” bag with fresh (not frozen) vegetables that are perfect for a weeknight stir fry. Alternatively, you could chop up your veggies in the morning or the night before so that you can throw them on the pan right when you get home. I’ve also been known to use kitchen shears to make my chopping and cutting even easier! 😉

So, what makes this stir fry “anti-inflammatory”?

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Activities & Crafts

Outer Space Activities for Your Future Astronaut

November 11, 2020
outer space activities for your future astronaut

If you’ve followed the blog at all, you know just how obsessed my son, Finn, is with outer space. He wears his astronaut costume ALL. THE. TIME. In fact, when we were trick-or-treating this year for Halloween, we overheard a neighbor we didn’t know point to Finn and say, “I see that astronaut in the neighborhood all the time!” Yep, that’s my son. So, if you have a similarly space-loving kid, here’s some fun outer space activities and experiments to do with them!

Also, don’t forget to check out this Astro-Mom’s Gift Guide for the Best Gifts to Buy on Amazon for Your Space Loving Kid as well as this week’s devotional on Lessons I’ve Learned About God From Space.

Space Activity #1: Marshmallow Constellations

Supplies: 

  • Mini marshmallows 
  • Toothpicks 
  • Black paper
  • Chalk
  • Scissors
  • Tape
Finn’s astronomical sign, Libra.

Instructions:

  • Find a constellation you want to re-create. Here’s a link with 15 simple constellations.
  • For younger children, you may want to trace the constellation first 
  • The marshmallows are each a star in the constellation and the toothpicks are the invisible lines that connect the stars to create the constellation
My attempt at my astronomical sign, Sagittarius.

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Chronic Pain Tips Devotionals for Moms

7 Scriptures for Finding Joy in Trials

October 5, 2020
Finding joy in difficulties

Our church is going through a Bible reading plan together this year and right now we are reading the book of James. A passage in James 1 resonated with me and challenged me to my core about finding joy in trials. It led me to this Bible study on more verses about trials and hardships.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

James 1:2-6

When I read this verse, one question kept coming to my mind:

Why on earth would I consider it joy to go through hardships?!

One of the first things I did was look up exactly what this word ‘joy‘ means. In this verse, joy is the Greek word charan which can be translated joy, gladness, a source of joy. My favorite definition was “a calm delight.”

Again, I wondered, why would I be delightfully calm during hardships?! And…how?

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Activities & Crafts

Simple Seed Growing Experiment

July 22, 2020
seed growing experiment

This seed growing experiment is one of my favorites for so many reasons!

  1. It teaches kids about how plants grow.
  2. It gets them excited about vegetables (and fruit and flowers)!
  3. It’s simple and inexpensive.
  4. It’s genuinely incredible to watch these plants grow up close.

What you’ll need for this seed growing experiment:

  • Clear cups (glass or plastic)
  • Seeds of any kind
  • Paper towels (about 2-4 sheets, depending on the size of your cup)
  • Water
  • Dry erase marker or permanent marker (to indicate the seeds on the cup)
  • Patience

First, pick out your seeds. We did pea, green bean, cantaloupe, radish and an assortment of wildflower seeds – but you can use any seeds you want! It was fun to take Finn to Lowe’s and have him pick out which seeds he wanted to grow.

Next, take your paper towels, wrap them around your hand so they form a tight spiral (so they can fit in the cup in an organized manner). Then, wet the paper towels so that they are moist but not soaking wet. They need to maintain some structure inside the cup. Then, place them in the cup so that they are snug against the edge of the glass. If the paper towels are falling down, just reinforce them with more damp paper towels.

Finally, stick the seeds on the outside of the paper towel so that you can see them through the glass. You can use your finger (or a pen) to create a small tunnel on the side of the paper towel so they can slide down the glass. You want to paper towel to be snug against the seed so that the seed gets the moisture from the paper towel. This will help it to germinate!

Then, mark your seeds (so you can remember what they are) and place in a sunny spot in the house! A central windowsill is a great spot so your kids can check on them every day.

If you’d like to make this into more of a formal experiment, here’s what we did:

Question: which seed will germinate (grow) the fastest?

Finn guessed that the green bean would grow the fastest because it was the largest. I “guessed” that the radish would germinate quickly because it was the smallest. (Also because I read online that it would! Ha!)

Keep track of the results and once the seeds have sprouted, you can do some more research with your little one about why they sprouted at the rate that they did. You could also have a “competition” on which seeds will grow the tallest or test different hypotheses based on how much sunlight or water your seeds are receiving.

Watching these seeds germinate was really amazing! It took a little patience at first, but once they sprouted I was amazed by how quickly they grew.

After they outgrow your cup, you can (very carefully) remove them from the glass cup and replant them. Note: the roots will grow into the paper towel so you have to be careful to gently detangle them.

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Chronic Pain Tips COVID-19 Devotionals for Moms

When God Has Other Plans

May 4, 2020
When God has other plans
For the busy mom: listen to an audio recording of this post!

I’m a planner. Literally. My undergraduate degree was in Recreation, Parks & Tourism with a concentration in Event Planning. I enjoy planning things. In fact, one of my “hobbies” is planning vacations that I’ll (probably) never go on. 

The older I get, the more I bump up against this problem with planning: oftentimes, my plans don’t coincide with God’s plan. And it’s frustrating, and, at times, painful. 

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Proverbs 19:21

When God Had Different Plans for Me

At the beginning of 2013, I started to have debilitating pain in my joints. At the time, I was a riding instructor at a local horse farm. I would get home from teaching lessons at the end of the day and literally crawl up the stairs to our apartment because I was in so much pain. I started to see an orthopedic doctor and then a sports medicine doctor, and when neither helped, I went to a rheumatologist, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, a physical therapist… the list goes on. I got a knee brace, shoe insoles, a plethora of medications and side effects, and a myriad of injections in my joints. Instead of getting better, the pain only got worse.

With every new doctor, I would hope that this would be THE ONE. This would be the doctor who would know what was wrong with me. This would be the therapy to finally “fix” me. This medication would make it all go away. But it didn’t. I found the truth in this verse: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12).

Three years into my journey with pain, I was consistently walking with a cane and taking several medications daily just to function. The pain kept me up at night—I spent a lot of nights crying on the bathroom floor, praying to God, feeling so alone and defeated. I was unable to work, barely able to go to church. There were days when I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom without help from my husband. This obviously wasn’t part of my plans.

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Anti-Inflammatory Diet Recipes

Anti-Inflammatory Grain Free Blender Pancakes

September 18, 2023

If you’re looking for a simple grain-free breakfast option that fits within an Anti-inflammatory diet, I’m sharing my favorite blender pancakes with you today! This is a family hit in our household–my boys ask for these pancakes ALL the time. (If you’re interested in how to get your picky eaters to eat healthier, check out my tips here.) And they’re so easy to make, they can help me make them too.

We’ll explore a little bit about the anti-inflammatory properties of the ingredients and then jump into the recipe!

Bananas


Bananas are a versatile fruit that adds natural sweetness and creaminess to various recipes. In these grain-free blender pancakes, bananas serve as a binding agent, replacing traditional flour while enhancing the taste and texture. Moreover, bananas offer exceptional health benefits. Rich in potassium and magnesium, they promote heart health and help regulate blood pressure. Additionally, bananas are a fantastic source of vitamin C, which aids in boosting immunity and reducing inflammation. The high fiber content found in bananas also supports digestive health, preventing bloating and promoting regularity.

Eggs


Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse and a key component of this grain-free pancake recipe. They provide essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, making them an excellent source of high-quality protein. The proteins found in eggs aid in muscle repair, promote satiety, and stabilize blood sugar levels. Additionally, eggs contain antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, which contribute to eye health. When it comes to inflammation, eggs offer an impressive anti-inflammatory profile due to their choline content. Choline plays a vital role in reducing chronic inflammation and may even support brain health by protecting against cognitive decline.

These taste very egg-y so if you don’t like the taste of eggs, you’ll probably want to skip this recipe!

Better Body Foods Organic Super Seeds


Better Body Foods Organic Super Seeds blend, consisting of chia, flaxseed meal, and hulled hemp seeds, adds a nutritional boost to these grain-free blender pancakes. Each seed contributes its unique anti-inflammatory properties, making this blend a true powerhouse.

Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and support heart health. They are also packed with fiber, promoting digestive health and providing a feeling of fullness.

Flaxseed meal, another omega-3 powerhouse, offers lignans, which possess antioxidant properties that combat inflammation. Flaxseed also contains fiber, supporting digestive regularity and aiding in the management of blood sugar levels.

Hulled hemp seeds are a complete protein source, providing all essential amino acids. They contain gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty acid that can help reduce inflammation. Hemp seeds are also rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects cells from damage caused by inflammation.

Nutrition Information:


Each serving of these grain-free blender pancakes provides approximately:

  • Calories: 45 calories
  • Total Fat: 2.7g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 3.3g
  • Fiber: 1.5g
  • Protein: 2.5g
  • Sugar: 1.2g


This recipe makes approximately 12 pancakes and one serving is two pancakes. I recommend topping them with fresh fruit, honey or a nut butter. One of my favorites lately is Super Fat Keto Nut Butter made with macadamia nut butter.

Tips:

  • For a thicker pancake, add more of the seed mixture one teaspoon at a time.
  • These are much lighter than your typical pancake. You’ll need to let them cook on one side for a full 3-4 minutes before attempting to flip or they will fall apart.
  • Using a griddle with this recipe is recommended. I love this griddle: Eco Non-Stick 20 inch Griddle Teflon Free
  • These taste very egg-y so if you don’t like the taste of eggs, you’ll probably want to skip this recipe!
  • You could swap the seed blend for oats, which would make the recipe gluten-free but not grain-free.
anti-inflammatory diet pancakes

Anti-Inflammatory Diet Grain-Free Pancakes

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 38 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 banana
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup Better Body Foods Organic Super Seeds (Chia, Flax, Hemp) or other seed blend. Alternatively, could use oats but then it wouldn't be grain free.
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla optional
  • 1 tsp cinnamon optional

Instructions
 

  • Preheat griddle or pan to medium heat. Add banana, eggs, and seed blend to the blender. Blend until combined.
  • Grease griddle or pan with coconut oil. Pour pancake mixture onto pan. Allow to cook about 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Top with fruit, honey or your favorite nut butter.

Notes

  • For thicker pancakes, add more of the seed blend one teaspoon at a time.
  • These are much lighter than your typical pancake. You’ll need to let them cook on one side for a full 3-4 minutes before attempting to flip or they will fall apart.
  • Using a griddle with this recipe is recommended. I love this griddle: Eco Non-Stick 20 inch Griddle Teflon Free
  • These are very egg-y so if you don’t like the taste of eggs, you might want to skip this recipe.
  • You could swap the seed blend for oats, which would make the recipe gluten-free but not grain-free.
Keyword Anti-inflammatory, blender, grain-free, pancakes

For more Anti-Inflammatory Recipes for your Whole Family, check out this post: The Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Simple Meals for the Whole Family

Activities & Crafts

How to Read More in the New Year

December 21, 2022

If your New Year’s resolution is to read more, I’ve got you covered. First, we’ll discuss why you should want to read more in the new year and then I’ll give you some tips for how to read more. I have a free download available to help you decide each month which book to read! If you follow the printable, that means you’ll read twelve books this year.

Why should I read more in the New Year?

  1. Reading improves your memory and can help ward off dementia and Alzheimers. A really fascinating study done by Rush University followed aging adults until they passed away. After their deaths, they were autopsied for signs of dementia and Alzheimers. The adults who were avid readers showed a 30% less memory loss than the average person in the study and these avid readers had the least physical signs of dementia compared to the other adults in the study. Challenging your brain by reading frequently, doing puzzles, or learning new skills are all immensely beneficial in improving memory and warding off dementia, no matter your age. The old adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is just not true – as long as you keep challenging your brain, more neural connections will grow, and this will protect your brain against the natural decay of aging.
  2. Reading can help with stress and depression. One study showed that reading can reduce stress by as much as 70%. Another study discovered that reading for 30 minutes can minimize stress as much as a 30 minute yoga session! Not only does reading reduce stress, but it also can provide an escape when you need it, gives you opportunity to have a different perspective and allows for contemplation that other media avenues don’t necessarily provide. There is even a type of therapy for people with mild to moderate depression that revolves around reading called bibliotherapy.
  3. Reading improves sleep. Particularly if you read before bed, reading can improve your sleep for several reasons. If you’re reading a physical book, your blue light intake is reduced and this is very helpful for your sleep patterns. Reading also reduces cortisol (a stress hormone) and relaxes you, getting you ready to sleep. Of course, a good book can also keep you reading until late in the night…so take that into account!
  4. Reading makes you more empathetic. When you read (especially fiction) it allows you to see and experience something from another person’s perspective – which is, essentially, empathy. We may never know what it’s like to live through a war, compete on horseback, or learn how to do magic, but when we read about it, we experience those things as if we’re really living it. And the more we stretch this empathetic muscle, the more we can use it in real life.

Tips for Reading More in the New Year

  1. Pick a time to read. This has been the most beneficial for me. I’m a reader – I love to read. But I’ve read far more books this past year because of one simple change: instead of cleaning, doing chores, or working on the blog during my kids’ quiet time/nap time, I decided to read. In 2021, I read 22 books. After I made this small change, in 2022 I read over 70 books. 70!! So, pick a consistent time to read and find out for yourself what a difference that will make!
  2. Find books you actually like. This is a big one. We all want to line our shelves with classics that make us look smart, like One Hundred Years of Solitude or War and Peace. But that also might be what’s keeping you from actually reading. So this year, I give you permission to not tackle the classics – and just pick a book that calls to you. What are you interested? What kinds of movies and TV shows do you love? Read books like that.
  3. Turn off your phone. This is a hard one, I’ll admit. But putting my phone to bed a little after my kids go to bed has been so helpful for me with reducing stress, having good quality sleep, and reading. It’s not healthy that we’re so accessible all of the time to anyone. How many times have you checked your text messages right before bed and seen something that keeps you tossing and turning? Or how many times have you been scrolling through social media right before bed and you see something that makes you sad, frustrated or restless? Just put it away. Pick a time that your phone goes to bed, and put it out of sight. Then you can enjoy a good book, time with your spouse, or just quiet time.
  4. Read before bed. We already discussed that reading before bed can improve your sleep. This past year, my husband and I have decided to turn off the TV 30-60 minutes before bed and it’s allowed me to do A LOT more reading – in addition to healthy habits like stretching before bed, journaling and taking a bath. Trust me, this is a good habit to get into.
  5. Use audiobooks. I like reading physical books, but my husband doesn’t. He does, however, love listening to audiobooks and he ends up consuming A LOT of books that way. Don’t feel bad about your pension for audiobooks – embrace it and let it work for you. Listen to books while you work out, on your drive to work or your kids’ school or even before bed.
  6. Utilize your local library. Books can get expensive. Like I said, I read 65 books this year and bought a bunch of them – I know firsthand that they can add up. Especially if you’re reading physical books or audiobooks. However, the local library is an amazing resource and you don’t even have to step foot into a library to utilize its resources once you have a library card. There are a couple wonderful apps that connect you to the library’s resources – namely Hoopla and Libby. I’m sure there are others, but those are the two I use. Hoopla has a ton of audiobooks, so check there first if that’s what you’re looking for. Once you connect your library card to the apps, you can borrow tons of books for free. It’s amazing and it’ll save you tons of money!
  7. Have a plan. That’s what I’m here for! Below I have two options for a reading plan for 2023: a list of spiritual book topics as well as a list of fiction topics. So you choose which book you want to read, but I give you a topic to narrow it down and make it a little easier for you. Pin these to save them, and you can subscribe to my email list to get reminders, specific book recommendations, and a summary of what I’m reading on those months. When you subscribe, you’ll get the PDF print version of these lists so you can print them out and put them on your fridge or use them as a bookmark!

Fiction Ideas to Read in the New Year:

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Christian Book Topics to Read in the New Year:

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Comment below, what books are you looking forward to reading in the New Year?

Activities & Crafts Marriage

30+ Bonding Fall Date Ideas for Couples & Kids

October 31, 2021
fall date ideas - biking

Fall is my favorite season! I love the crisp coolness and the anticipation of the holiday season. It’s the best time for outdoor activities. If you’re looking for some fun fall activities to do with your spouse or even for a special activity with your kiddos, here are some of my favorite fall ideas:

For more date night ideas, check out 52 Stay-at-Home Date Ideas!