Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Civility Experiment

This video really touched me today. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

10 Books That Have Stayed with Me

I've seen the "10 books that stayed with you" challenge going around Facebook, but I thought I'd post it here instead. Note, these are books that have stuck with me, not necessarily my top 10 favorite (though they are in the top 20).

10. The Giver by Lois Lowry

This book really opened my eyes to the value of agency, an important doctrine in my religion.

9. Holes by Louis Sachar

The intertwined stories show how our actions affect others whether or not we realize it and how trials can become blessings.

8. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

I loved this book for making the characters break out of stereotypes and discover who they really are.

7. The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley

When I had given up hope of ever finding a guilt-free and effective way to get my baby to sleep, this book came to the rescue and helped me find the balance I was looking for.

6. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

The symbolism in and depth of the stories have strengthened my testimony of Christian gospel.

5. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

My oldest brother introduced this book to me and it positively changed the way I interact with people. I have never had a problem making friends wherever I go.

4. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Ever since I read this book as a little girl, I have wanted to be just like Sara. She is a superior role model, albeit a fictional one.

3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Who hasn't been touched by this book? The story, the characters, the writing--everything about it is amazing!

2. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

This book has the power to transform any relationship and restore love.

1. The Book of Mormon

This book reveals the plain and precious gospel of Jesus Christ and testifies of Him. You can learn more at

Which 10 books have stayed with you?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Bible Bands Rubber Band Jewelry Book Review

If you have a girl, then you are probably familiar with the current rubber band loom jewelry fad. I was asked to review a new rubber band jewelry how-to book: Bible Bands by Katreina Eden. It contains 13 Christian-based designs, such as Joseph's coat of many colors. Each design includes illustrated instructions, extra tips and tricks, and a Bible passage to explain the inspiration for the design.

I asked my 12-year-old sister-in-law for help with the review since I do not have a loom. She made these two designs and shared with me her thoughts:

"Living Waters of Everlasting Life"

"God Created the Beautiful World for Me"

*The instructions are easy to follow, and colorful photos for every step are included.
*The designs are very enjoyable and addicting to make!
*There are designs appealing to young boys as well.
*The designs relate to specific verses or stories from the Bible that reach across all Christian denominations.
*Makes a great after-church activity or religious gift!

*Designed exclusively for the Rainbow Loom brand, with some patterns requiring two looms.

Get your Bible Bands book today through Amazon so your kids can start making this fun faith-based rubber band jewelry!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Since When Did Sharing Become a Bad Thing?
I'm tired of coming across articles of why a mom doesn't make her kids share. Since when did sharing become a bad thing? Since people have misunderstood what it means to teach your child to share, that's when! We live in a world of parenting extremes, where people think if you do or don't do something a certain way, [insert extreme outcome here]. Some moms fear that teaching their kids to share means their children will give everyone what they want when they want it, at their children's own expense.

Um, no.

That's called being unassertive, acquiescent, and indulgent, qualities usually found in people who are bullied, abused, or just plain insecure. Sharing teaches children to be polite, respectful, friendly, compassionate, selfless, and charitable. And teaching children to share is just as much about when to do it as it is about how to do it. Sharing doesn't mean sacrificing what you have, like some martyr. It can simply mean letting someone else have a turn or playing together.

Here are the rules we follow:
  • If you invite friends over to play, allow them to play with your toys. Otherwise, what's the point of them coming over? If there are special toys you don't want others to touch, hide the toys before your friends arrive.
  • If you are in a public place with your toy, you are not obligated to share but it is kind to do so, especially when another child is asking politely and not just trying to take it away. It's much more fun and friendly to let other kids play with you and your toys at the park or pool!
  • If it's community property, whether among siblings or strangers, you must take turns. It is rude to hog a toy. In the real world, you have to wait your turn for things and then move on so the next person can go. Same principle applies with toys that aren't yours. The exception is if no one else wants the toy.
It is also important to teach children how to act when they are ones that want the toy, not just when they are the ones with the toy.
  • If there is a toy you want that someone else is playing with, politely ask if you can have a turn or can play together with the toy. If the child says yes, say thank you, treat the toy nicely, and return it when you are done. If the child says no, respect his or her choice and find something else to play with. Do not snatch the toy away or throw a tantrum.
  • Parents, do not give judgmental looks or make snide remarks within earshot if another child doesn't share. Once you are gone, you can take the opportunity to talk to your children about what happened. For example, if your little ones don't like to share, you can ask them what it felt like to be on the other side of the situation.
There are countless possible scenarios, so these are just general guidelines. The point is to show children it is good to share what we have with others. Of course there are times when sharing is not required or even a good idea at all, but most times, sharing begets friendship, respect, gratitude, and happiness among all involved. And hopefully, learning how and when to share will help my children grow up to be generous, considerate adults.

So, yes, I'm teaching my kids to share!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Caden's Birthday & Party

Last month Caden turned 4. We asked him what he wanted to do on his birthday and he chose to go to the playground.

Afterward we got him and Gabriel balloons from the dollar store, which they played with every day until they deflated. They liked to run around with the balloons flying behind them.

I got Gabe the #1 balloon because he's always pointing at things. He preferred Caden's though.

After nap time we got ice cream at Nickey Doodle's and then went shopping to kill time before dinner. Caden wanted to eat out, so we chose Applebee's since we had vouchers for free kids' meals for reading 10 books. Gabriel wouldn't stop screeching the whole time! When I tried getting him to sign, the waiter was impressed we were teaching a hearing kid to sign. He signed as a kid because his mom used to be deaf.

This past Saturday we had Caden's birthday party. Caden helped me make the decorations and cupcakes the night before. We did a sports theme.

Three of his friends and their parents came. It was a short and simple but fun party. We danced to some children's music, decorated treat bags, played stick-the-nose-on-the-clown and a bean bag toss game, decorated cupcakes, opened presents, and then let the kids play in the boys' room. Little kids are so easy to please!

More Cadenisms: backworks (backwards), dooze (does; but he doesn't say this anymore), cheek (end slice of a tomato or bread), Mr. Mommy Man/Pants (what he calls me when he's being silly). There is a tall apartment building near the post office that Caden calls his work. And on his birthday he said, "I'm four now. I can put on my shirt by myself," and he's been doing so ever since. Every year I can't believe how much he's grown.

I didn't include an update on Gabe in his birthday post so I will here. He waves goodbye, gives open-mouthed kisses, and signs all done, eat, and water (the last two he does the same). On Sunday, August 24, he bowed his head for prayer! At our church picnic he chased a poor little dog around everywhere it went. He is so funny!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Featured Seller: Erin from Dramatique Designs

This week's featured seller is Erin from the whimsical, colorful shop Dramatique Designs, home of upcycled fashions:

I started Dramatique Designs about 3 years ago. I am self-taught; I never went to design school. I am an artist at heart, from acting to dancing, so it felt natural to start designing and sewing. I finally felt like I had chosen the right career for myself--and it only took 32 years!

I love creating something new out of something old. So much care, love, and fabulousness goes into my work. Every piece of clothing has a story to tell, and I love telling fantastical stories through my fashion. I have been an actor in theater for over 15 years, so it seemed only natural to integrate drama into what I create. I am heavily influenced by the dreamy designs of the past, from Jane Austen’s classic and delicate style dresses to the bright mess of color in the 60s. I do not limit myself to one era; I love to create it all! It was so easy to come up with the name for my business, as I have always had a flair for the dramatic.

I joined Etsy on the encouragement of my mother. She felt it would be a good way to showcase my wares, and hopefully sell them. I also have my own personal website where I sell my items. Like my Facebook page and comment or follow my blog and comment for 10% off your order! (Email me for code:

Check out Dramatique Designs for more fun fashions and accessories, including tote bags! You can also follow the shop on Twitter. For fall and winter knit fashions, check out Erin's other shop, HipKnitism.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Carrot Zucchini Bread

I made zucchini bread for the first time a few weeks ago, and now I'm hooked! Good thing too, since I had a lot of zucchini. The only drag is all the grating. The recipe I based mine on is a customizable one, allowing you to use 2 cups of a variety of fruits and vegetables. I added a couple ingredients from other recipes and my own tinkering and this is the final result:

  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil 
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup grated zucchini, drained
  • 3/4 cup grated carrot
  • optional: raisins, nuts, chocolate chips
  1. Sift dry ingredients and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl , beat the eggs. Add oil, vanilla, and sugar and mix well. Stir in zucchini and carrot.
  3. Add dry ingredients, mixing until incorporated but not overstirring. (Stir in optional add-ins if applicable.)
  4. Pour into greased loaf pan and cook at 325 F for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Let cool before removing from pan and slicing.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Wedding and a Baptism

When we first moved here, we became friends with a couple who were preparing to be baptized into our church. They have been nothing but amazing since day one, always willing to serve in any way they can. Dan is great with the kids, and Felicia is always thinking of others. She has a Vikings/Packers rivalry with Justin. She bought Gabe a Vikings onesie, planted it in the mother's room at church for me to change him into, and then I handed him over to Justin. The look on his face was priceless!

They were looking around for someone to teach them their first dance for their wedding and I volunteered. I taught them the waltz to their chosen song, Jason Mraz's "I Won't Give Up." They were fast learners.

The wedding day finally arrived. The rain did not fall, thankfully, as we were gathered outside by a park gazebo. The ceremony was short and sweet, and the bride and groom were radiant.

The reception followed later. They danced wonderfully and made me proud. The food and desserts were great. Then came the dancing, and the party really started! Gabriel fell asleep in a friend's arms, allowing Justin and I to dance our feet off. Caden ran around the dance floor holding a balloon and chasing the other kids. We had so much fun and only left once Gabe woke up, which is when things started to slow down anyway.

Hokey Pokey

The next morning they got baptized. Dan asked Justin to baptize and confirm him, and Felicia asked me to speak on the Holy Ghost. We were both flattered they made us a part of this special day when we came into their lives only a few months ago. Can I repeat how awesome they are?

They even thought of us while on their honeymoon in D.C! They brought back chopsticks for us and a fun planet book for the kids. I am so thankful to God we met and have become friends!
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