Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Quick Tips: Budget-Friendly Summer Ideas

Today author and speaker Dena Dyer shares ideas for inexpensive summer activities.

Budget-Friendly Summer Fun—in Your Own “Backyard”
Financially, the summer can be tough on those of us who have children at home. How do we keep them engaged without A) allowing them to spend too much time on screens or B) blowing our budgets? Thankfully, there are ways to do both, without even leaving our own area:
Libraries and Museums
Most public libraries have free children’s, tween and teen programs during the summer. And family memberships at museums—especially science/discovery ones—easily pay for themselves because of their variety of programming.

Local, State and National Parks
Parks are great for hiking, swimming, exploring, picnicking, and fishing. Many of them even have free explorer/Junior Ranger programs.

Movie Theaters and Bowling Alleys
Thousands of local bowling alleys participate each summer in the “Kids Bowl Free” program. All you pay for is the shoes! Also, check with the closest movie theater—they may offer special kid movies at drastically reduced prices.

Colleges and Theaters
Look up your local college’s summer offerings. These institutions often schedule low-cost children’s and teens classes during breaks from school. In addition, many community theaters host dance, acting, and singing camps for talented kids. (Ask about scholarships if the camps are pricey.)

Other ideas for kids of all ages: volunteer for charity; create their own business (lemonade stand/photography/dog walking); attend local VBS programs.

Bottom line? You can create a memory-making summer for your family. It may take some research and creativity, but the results will be worth it.

Here are some of Dena's books:

Dena Dyer is a professional writer, speaker, and teacher, as well as the author of eight books and hundreds of articles who lives in Texas with her husband, sons and dog Princess. Her interests include traveling, reading, cooking, time spent with family and friends and a lot more. You can connect with her on her webpage or purchase one of her many books here.

Other Quick Tips You Might Want to Read are:

Fresh Starts
Keeping Your Mind Strong

Monday, May 1, 2017

Parenting is Tough

Right now parenting is tough. For whatever reason, all sorts of issues are coming out in our twins. It's tough when you love a child but you are nothing more than a caregiver them. That is the reality of attachment disorder. I don't thing theirs is as severe as some, but I feel like I did all the right things when they got home to help them connect and attach. So why this is all escalating I don't know.

On the other hand, having two granddaughters only 15 minutes away is a blessing, as is watching how they attach with their mom, dad and other relatives.

River is a beautiful 16 month old toddler now. It seems like I was just posting about her birth. And Winter is ten days old. It will be fun to watch how she is the same and different from River, especially since they are so close in age and the same sex/gender.

Other random family  photos.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Winter in Florida

Winter Robin that is.

Friday 7:34 p.m.

7 lbs 10.8 oz

Monday, April 3, 2017

Quick Tips: Preparing a Child's Heart for Easter

Today author and speaker Crystal Bowman shares her tips for preparing a child's heart for Easter. Crystal is a mother, grandmother and the author of over 75 children's books, many of which have won awards.

Preparing Your Child’s Heart for Easter
When pictures of the Easter bunny decorate store windows, and Easter egg coloring kits are stacked on end caps, children know that Easter will soon be here. In our secular society, it can be challenging to help young minds understand and appreciate the true meaning of Easter. Here are a few tips for parents who desire to keep the celebration of Easter about Jesus.
· Choose one or two children’s books by Christian authors who tell the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection with kid-friendly language. Read the books at mealtime or bedtime, then talk about the story to make sure your children understand that Jesus is alive.
· In addition to sweet treats, add meaningful items to an Easter basket such as a small Bible story book, a devotional book, or stickers from a Christian bookstore.  
· Attend an Easter pageant as a family to allow children to experience the story of Easter through a dramatic presentation. 

Easter is the celebration of new life, new 

hope, and fullness of God’s love poured out 

through the blood of Jesus on the cross. So 

celebrate and share the message of Easter 

with the little ones God has placed in your 


You can learn more about Crystal and her books on her web page
You can order Crystal's books from amazon here
A complete list of her books is here. Why not add one to your child's Easter basket this year?

Other Quick Tips You Might Want to Read are:

Fresh Starts
Keeping Your Mind Strong

Friday, March 17, 2017

Quick Tips: Fresh Starts

Author Davalynn Spencer , who loves to write "inspirational romance about cowboys who aren't afraid to fight for (and find) faith, fresh hope, and lasting love," shares tips for a fresh start during this dreary months.

Quick Tips: Getting a Fresh Start

As spring approaches, I’m inclined to envy what I see happening in nature around me. Oh for a fresh start, a do-over, new growth. Is it possible? Can we regenerate like the flowers and trees in our yards? I believe the answer is yes.
· Forget about New Year’s resolutions and start a Spring Supplement, listing physical, spiritual, and relational areas in which you’d like to see growth.
· Set aside a new time of day—morning, afternoon, or evening—for spending a few quiet moments alone with the Lord. A new time may result in a new perspective.
· Put feet on your focus. Get moving physically with a new walking route, a new exercise routine, or a new exercise partner. Music can be an inspiring companion.

Spring is our annual reminder that life really does go on. It reminds us of God’s promise of revival and redemption—a great refresher course and another chance to hear Him say, “It’s not too late.”

You can connect with Davalynn on her website.Or find out more about her books here and here.

Other Quick Tips You Might Want to Read are:

Keeping Your Mind Strong

Friday, March 3, 2017

Fun Friday: Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chicken Chili

Life has been so crazy that I am simply going to share the recipe we are having tonight when another family comes over in a bit.

Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chicken Chili
4 chicken breasts
2 cans Rotel tomatoes
1 large can corn undrained
1 can black beans drained and rinsed
1 can red kidney beans drained and rinsed
2 envelopes ranch dressing mix
1 tsp chili powder
2 8 oz pkg cream cheese

Place the uncooked chicken in the bottom of the crock pot. Top with the Rotel, corn, beans, dressing mix, cumin and chili powder. Stir to mix. Top with cream cheese. Cook on low for 4-5 hours stirring occasionally. Shred the chicken before serving. Can serve over rice or baked potato or use as a dip.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Helpful Ideas for $1

This blog post has some really helpful ideas from the Dollar Tree. What can you add to the list?
Read here

Monday, February 20, 2017

Quick Tips: Showing Kindness Everyday

February is a month where thoughts to turn relationships, but really, focusing on relationships and kindness should be a year round theme. Author and speaker Linda Gilden shares tips for showing kindness every day.

Showing Kindness Every Day

My three-year-old opened the kitchen door and screamed, “Come here! Quick!” I hurried back inside.

“What’s the matter?” I asked expecting blood or worse.

She pointed to the kitchen cabinet. She had arranged seven folded potato chips. In our family, folded potato chips say, “I love you.”

Small acts or words can change the course of someone’s day. Be alert for ways you can encourage others with small deeds.

  • Be aware of things that are special to your friends. It might be folded potato chips but it could be the corner piece of the brownie, the front seat in the car, a single flower.
  • Some people respond to acts of service rather than gifts—unload the dishwasher, come to a meeting early to help set up chairs, wash the car without being asked, cook and take dinner.
  • Use kind words and make sure your body language matches them. Often because of our upbringing we say the right thing, but our slumped shoulders, rolling eyes, or stance indicate otherwise. Make it a habit to brighten someone’s day with heartfelt, encouraging words.

Many times the little things make the biggest difference!

Linda Gilden is a writer and speaker living in SC. She believes in the importance of finding everyday ways to encourage others. She is the author of 11 books many of which are about encouraging others. connect with Linda and find out more about her books and speaking engagements through her webpage HERE

A few of the books you may want to read:

Other quick tips you might want to read are:
Keeping Your Mind Strong

Friday, February 3, 2017

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Quick Tips: Embrace the Season

Having a blah day? Ready for winter to be over? Today author and speaker Grace Fox encourages us to embrace the season.

The Christmas season is over. New Year’s has passed. Songs about silver bells and snowmen are silenced for another year, but winter still lingers and can leave us feeling blah. How can we keep our spirits bright?

  •   Volunteer. Offer your services at your church, in a school or hospital, at a pet shelter, homeless shelter, or in seniors’ care home. Visit a shut-in and play a board game or work a jigsaw puzzle together.
  •   Learn something new. For instance, choose a country that interests you and read about its history, culture, and traditions. Search online for documentaries to watch and recipes to try. If you’ve always wanted to develop a hobby such as painting or photography, then take a class.
  •   Practice the presence of God. Turn everything you do, even your mundane tasks, into an act of worship. Invite Him into your day, and talk with Him as you would a close friend. Ask Him to open your eyes to evidences of His presence and write down what He shows you.

Embrace winter as a season for personal and spiritual growth rather than a time to be endured, and blessings will chase the blahs away.

Grace Fox is an author and speaker whose passion is to connect the dots between faith and real life so her audiences might live the life God intends. Drawing from Scripture and from personal experiences learned while living on Canada’s rugged coastline, in urban U.S.A., and in Nepal’s Himalayan mountains, she uses the written page and the public stage to build Christ-based confidence in audiences worldwide.
Grace’s quick wit, real-life stories, and biblical insight keep her in constant demand as a speaker. Everywhere she goes, she exudes a contagious desire to know Jesus Christ intimately and to love His word.

Her books include:

You can order Grace's books here.
Connect with her on her webpage here.   

Other quick tips you might want to read are:

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fun Friday: Basketball Star

Showed this to my kids to encourage them to work at what they want and use the abilities God gave them.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Quick Tips: Get Reading in 2017

The new year is 18 days old. How many books have you read so far this year? Author Sandra Glahn gives tips for reading in 2017.

Set Goals, Ignite Imagination, Get Reading in 2017  
English playwright Alan Bennett said, “A book is a device to ignite the imagination.” The apostle Paul encouraged readers to fill their minds with the good. For 2017, consider a plan to ignite your imagination with what’s good.
· One per week. One friend determines to read fifty books annually. She devours best-sellers, classics, fiction, non-fiction, and even old sermons. One year she discovered an unlikely favorite—a 1746 Jonathan Edwards message.  
· One per country. Books allow us to dream through travel. Another friend is reading one book set in every country. The Thoenes’ Jerusalem Chronicles take readers to Israel. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, takes readers to a Siberian labor camp. Isabel Kuhn’s In the Arena allows readers to witness the Spirit’s work in China. Bruchko does the same in the Amazon.
· Books by dead Christians. Author Eugene Peterson tells of a new believer disillusioned by contemporaries. He walked into a store and requested “books by dead Christians.” The result? Introduction to A. W. Tozer. Such books have been tested and vetted.
What will you read in 2017? Edwards? Kuhn? Tozer? Plan now to ignite your imagination and feed your spirit.

What are you reading right now? Share in the comments section. I am reading YA novel "Orbiting Jupiter" which is about a 13 year old boy in foster care.

Sandra Glahn (PhD, UT Dallas) teaches at Dallas Theological Seminary, her alma mater. She is the author or coauthor of more than 20 books, including the CBA bestseller and Christy Award finalist, Lethal Harvest. You can order it here.

Visit her website here.

Monday, January 16, 2017

First Home Study Visit

Remember a few days ago I posted about all the repairs we decided to do at once. Well, we didn't get them all done in time, so we hid what we hadn't finished. For example, there was a spot on the deck where the boards didn't line up quite right, so I lined up everyone's work boots on that board, and the flaw was no longer visible. Problem solved.

Our caseworker's name is Billy. Don't know his last name. But when he came in, he asked how we knew the Millers, a family we used as a reference. I said they were just down the street, and we got together at the bay for jet skiing several times a year. You've seen them in my photos.

(Josiah comes down often to see if Tyler is available because his own older siblings are all out of the house.)
It turns out that our caseworker knows the Miller family because their churches get together once a month. So we have a Christian case worker, which is nice. They are both pastors who  have small churches so work a "regular" job during the week.

At this first visit he said he was just going to do a quick walk through and get briefly acquainted, and then next time he'd talk to each of the kids. I told him the three younger ones were psyched up to talk to him, so he interviewed them one at a time. Adam, Tara, Sierra and Kealen all came in during this time. I'd made cream cheese chicken chili. It made the house smell good in case there were any pet smells. It was Three Kings day, so we had Three Kings cake with strawberries and cool whip. Later we tried it with caramel syrup. Yum.

 The caseworker said he'll look around more closely next time. I'm not sure when he comes back, but I hope we have the rest of the repairs done. Right now I am making wreaths to sell so the living room looks like Dollar Tree and Hobby Lobby threw up in it. 

Here are some of the wreaths I've done:
Diaper wreaths
 Frozen party wreath (once the little gifts are off it can be used as a holiday wreath)

Princess Valentine Wreath

I have some other updates that I'll try to get to on Wednesday.

Friday, January 13, 2017

"Fun" Friday: Track Cleats

I haven't had much time for my blogs lately and didn't come up with a fun Friday brain teaser. So I am going to post a story I posted yesterday on facebook.

So here's kind of a cool story. I took Kayla to counseling (that's not the cool part) and on the way back to school I decided to stop at Catholic Charities because I'd heard they had cleats in all sizes, and I figured she could use a pair to grow into. Well, there were none in her size so we left. When we got outside she asked if we could go back in and look in the cart of $1 shoes. Well, why not? I saw what looked like running shoes on the top of the cart and turned them over to look for a size, and they were track cleats! A size too big for her, but not for long I'm sure. But the cool part (besides getting track cleats for $1) was that there was a Scripture reference written in them. Habakkuk 3:19 which says, "The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights." I told Kayla that must be God's message to her for track this year.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Quick Tips: How to Start the Year Worry Free

The holidays are behind us, and the year is off to a good start for most of us. But for some people it's not that easy. The new year is anxiety-ridden and full of unkowns. Award winning author and speaker Cindi McMenamin shares how we can start the New Year worry free.

How to Start the Year Worry Free
Worry has a way of draining our energy, stressing us out, and even prematurely aging us.  If you’d rather experience peace than stress and a calm rather than worry this year, here are three ways you can be worry free in 2017:
·        Focus on one fact about your worrisome situation that you can be thankful for. For instance, if your child is out late with friends, thank God that no matter where she is, He is there with her and He can take care of her better than you can.
·        Write down everything that you fear about your worrisome situation. Getting it down on paper might show you how unrealistic – and maybe even ridiculous – your fears really are.  Then write over those fears the words “God is in control.” It will be a reminder for you to release it into God’s hands, instead of continuing to let it cause you to wring yours. 
·        Practice the instruction of Philippians 4:6 and “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything…” (NLT). As you take your concern to God and thank Him for what He can do with it, you will experience peace, rather than stress and you will be actively choosing to trust rather than fret.

Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker, helping women discover strength for the soul.

She has more than 30 years experience ministering to women and inspiring them to let God meet their emotional needs, grow stronger through their alone times, and pursue their dreams with boldness.

Besides speaking across the country, Cindi has made numerous TV and radio appearances on shows such as Family Talk with Dr. James Dobson, Moody Broadcasting’s Prime Time America and Midday Connection, At Home Live, The Harvest Show, 100 Huntley Street, Not Just Talkin’ the Talk, and His Love Extended.

Cindi and her husband, Hugh, live in the San Diego area of Southern California. They have been married nearly 30 years and have a daughter, Dana, who is a graduate of California Baptist University and is working for the Walt Disney Company. The family enjoys traveling together, staying active, and seeing what adventure God will bring them through next.You can find out more about Cindi and her books on her webpage

Here are some more Quick Tips you might enjoy: