Monday, October 17, 2016

5 Ways to Connect to God {for Busy Families}

I remember years ago, as a newlywed and not yet a mother, I sat in an adult Sunday School class at our church and one of the other ladies spoke about being so busy and so exhausted at the end of each day. She said, "I'm so whipped at the end of the day that all I can do is say, 'Thank you, Jesus' before I fall asleep." At the time she was a working mom of two teenage children. "Thank you, Jesus" is wonderful. And I'm sure Jesus was delighted. However, this worn out mom was desperate for a way to connect to God throughout the chaos of the day. She needed Him for strength, for direction, and for that calming connection in the midst of a regular day. Since becoming a mom myself, I have thought about this mom's comment so many years ago. I can SO relate now. Though I am still a work in progress, here are some ways our family has made connecting with God part of our busy days.

1. Sing - Joy, Joy, Joy Down in my Heart!
I started this routine several years ago. On Mondays I pick up the neighbor girls to bring them to school too and my mom van is filled with children! We began singing this every Monday on the short drive to school. We even worked out special solo and duet parts that we consistently stick to and we end the song in grand fashion, belting out the last few words as I put the van in park. Even on the hardest Monday mornings, singing this lightens the mood and lifts the spirit!

Need a refresher of this song? Check out THIS VIDEO!

Then I will praise God’s name with singing, and I will honor him with thanksgiving.
Psalm 69:30

2. Pray together before leaving for school/work in the mornings
Every morning before my husband leaves for work he calls us all together in the living room. We all hold hands, bow our heads and daddy prays for each one of us individually before we part ways to begin our day. I love this routine and love my husband even more for making it happen!

Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
Matthew 18:19-20

3. "Thank you, God for________________"
I am a firm believer that finding a $5.00 bill in my pocket (that I didn't know was there) is totally a "God thing." I thank Him for little things. And my kids hear it - "Thank you, God, that we got home safely." "Thank you, God, that our homework is done." "Thank you, God, that we have a refrigerator full of food." The kids can also be heard randomly thanking God for the little things as well as the big.

I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness;
I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High.
Pslam 7:17

4. Stop & smell the roses.
Throughout the day, just stop. Stop and watch a nest of robins hatch, notice the wind in the trees, the colors of the sunset. Point out these things to your kids. Marvel at nature together.

Listen to a piece of music with your eyes closed. Notice the different instruments, the dynamics changing,  consider the singer/composer's talent. Listen to music with your children and talk about what you hear.

Stop and look at your children. Really look at them. They are a gift from God. They are fearfully and wonderfully made. He chose the shape of their hands, the color of their eyes, their sweet smile. Tell your kids you are proud of them. Tell them they are the best gift God ever gave you. Remind them they are fearfully and wonderfully made.

It's so easy (and so typical) for moms to just be on "auto pilot" doing what must be done. But if we take a minute and slow down and appreciate the simple beauty gifted to us by our Creator, it will reduce stress, put things into perspective and demonstrate gratitude to our children.

How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number -
living things both large and small.    Psalm 104-105                            

5. Have "messages" all over the house.

I have a chalkboard hanging in our dining room. I write Bible verses or uplifting messages on it and change them every now and then. In addition to the chalkboard, wall hangings, knick-knacks, magnets, and wooden signs can be found in our home reminding us of Bible verses or words of wisdom. Two of my three kids are readers and the youngest is almost there! Whether they are reading or not though, these special words become part of our environment and therefore, part of our life. We may read them together and talk about what they mean. I have picked up my son and pointed out the "Fruits of the Spirit" wall hanging I have to remind him God calls us to be gentle and use self-control!

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-3:17

See HERE for the tutorial how I transformed this garage sale find into a family chalkboard.
This chalkboard was purchased at a farmer's market booth a few summers ago.
It is in our dining room.
I got this FAITH sign from Family Christian Store.  It is hanging in our living room.
This is business card size and I have it near my kitchen sink.
God is with me in all that I do - even dishes!
My daughter Claire picked out this cross at Hobby Lobby a few years ago. I ordered the "Family Routine" sign online many years ago but unfortunately, I can't tell you where.
With intention, we can add small "God Moments" to our day and make it a habit. In doing so, hopefully our children will see that saying a prayer before bed or a meal is not the only time God wants to hear from us but rather, He wants to be involved in all parts of our life throughout the day...even ordinary, crazy, hectic days!

Friday, October 7, 2016

6 Things I am Loving this Fall

The trees aflame with vibrant colors, the subtle golden light in the evenings as the days get shorter, the crisp, clear air, the call of geese overhead, fields dotted with bright orange pumpkins, pumpkin spice lattes....oh, autumn! What's not to love? Today I am sharing some of my favorite fall things...

fall in love michigan Dishwasher Safe 15oz Ceramic Mug

I love fall and I love Michigan. This mug just feels cozy to me. This mug has been greeting me each morning before anyone in my family does!  I met the artist, Katie Doucette when I was in Saugatuck in August. She has tons of unique, charming gifts including lots more mug designs, signs, coasters and custom pieces. I own several of her items now and have given a few as gifts. Check out her Etsy shop to start your Christmas shopping and follow her on Facebook.

2. Gray Shawl

This Gray Ruffle Shawl by David & Young is perfect! #zulilyfinds:

I ordered this shawl through Zulily two years ago. It is perfect for fall days - you know how October may still be 70 degrees during the day but then chilly in the evening? Just wrap up in this. It's like getting a nice warm hug! Perfect for football games, campfires, or an evening walk in the woods. This particular shawl is made by David & Young but similar ones can be found at Target HERE or in cozy alpaca wool from this Etsy shop HERE!

I preordered this cookbook before it was released last year so I got it as soon as possible! My copy is filled with sticky notes - trying them all! I love cooking with the seasons and this cookbook hits the spot. My favorite recipe is the Grain Free Pumpkin Muffins. They are so easy and so good! The kids gobble them down. Perfect on busy fall mornings. If you are a pumpkin lover, you've gotta have this book!

4. White Pumpkin Soup Tureen from Better Homes & Gardens
Better Homes and Gardens Pumpkin Tureen with Ladle, Cream Mist

Is there anything more comfy and cozy than a bowl of soup? I don't think so. I love making soup as the days get cooler. A few years ago I instituted what I called "Soup Sundays" in our home - a new soup every Sunday from September through December. I enjoy trying new recipes and am always on the lookout for recipes that highlight fall produce. Harvesting squash, pumpkins, peppers, leeks, and onions from our garden to incorporate in my soups just make our Soup Sundays more special.

When I saw this soup tureen at Walmart, I knew it'd be perfect for my homemade soups. It is! It is a great price - about $15.00 and comes with a ceramic ladle. It keeps soups hot for a long time and makes for a pretty centerpiece on the table.

Check out some of my favorite tried and true soup, chowder, and chili recipes HERE.
This is one of my favorite stories to share with my students and my own three children each October. And honestly, I think when my kids are grown and I have retired from teaching, I will still read this every autumn. It is so good. In this story, the main character, Rebecca Estelle HATES pumpkins and does all she can to avoid them until one day a pumpkin accidentally tumbles out of the back of a truck as it passes her home. What to do? Rebecca Estelle teaches the reader hard work, generosity, independence, and making lemonade out of lemons....or rather, pies out of pumpkins! It is such a sweet story with glorious illustrations that makes you feel as if you are right there with her. This is a must read for all ages.


Have you seen this magazine?! Oh. My. Heavens. I am so in love with this magazine! It is not your ordinary magazine. For starters, it costs about $20. Pretty steep for a magazine, huh? Not at all. Not one like this. This "magazine" is more like a book, for one thing. It is thick and printed on great quality paper. The photographs pull you can't wait to turn the page to see what other gem you will feast your eyes upon. And here's the's not just a magazine. This book is like a get-away, an oasis, the calm after a hectic day. It's not one of those with "Miracle Diet" in bold on the front cover that you read and then donate to your doctor's office waiting room. Nope. This is a book you savor. It makes you slow down. It makes you relax and think and reflect. I'm telling you, you will hug it to your chest.

It is filled with writing prompts like "What would your perfect day look like?" and room to write. It is for journaling too. It is for list making. And not just blank, white pages but beautiful pages that make you want to touch it with your pen and make your mark, become part of it. This is a magazine like no other and this fall issue will not disappoint.

What are you loving this October?


Wednesday, June 1, 2016


I have been wanting a new bike for about a year. I researched bikes for petite women as I am only 5 feet tall. I Pinned lots of images of bikes that I liked and was going for that vintage-straw hat-sundress-flowers-French bread in the basket look that is all over Pinterest!

via HERE
Dreamy, huh?!

A friend noticed my Bicycle board on Pinterest (HERE) and asked me if I was in the market for a new bicycle. I told her I was, indeed! She then recommended a local bike shop in our little bitty town. Huh.....I hadn't even thought of checking there. So my husband and I went to see what they had.
We were pleasantly surprised. I tried out a couple bicycles in the parking lot of the bike shop and discussed the options available for a petite lady like myself. The bike shop owner is a man in his sixties who is 5'1". I know this because he told me. I found that I really liked the Nirve bikes - with the look of them, the smooth ride, the size of the frame, and the adjustments he made to the seat and handlebars to accommodate my short stature, I thought a Nirve bike might be the way to go. I told the owner I needed to think about it. I thought about it. And then we went back and got this beauty....

Ladies and Betsy!
Isn't she lovely? I love the cheerful yellow of the frame, the mint green within the tires, the subtle embossed flower design pressed into the seat and handle bar covers, and the sunflower detail. This bike is called the Nirve Sunflower Beach Cruiser. I got this Nantucket bike basket from Amazon.
Just for fun I donned a white sundress with yellow belt, straw hat with yellow ribbon, yellow flowered scarf, orange high heels, sunglasses and lipstick for a quick informal photo shoot with Betsy. A beautiful spring orange and yellow bouquet and a loaf of French bread completed the Pinterest look I was going for. Ahhh....

My daughter Claire (7) thought the whole photo shoot was fancy....and silly! What fun! Claire and I have been enjoying long evening bike rides all over town since Betsy became part of the family.
I am really looking forward to lots of bike riding time with the kids this summer.

I am so thankful to have found this bicycle. Footloose and fancy free! That's me this summer....I hope.

Monday, December 14, 2015

My Christmas Dinnerware Mix-up

My mom and my sister have Christmas dinnerware that they get out and use for Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas day brunch, etc. I have always been envious of their special dishes. I want some. For years, I hadn't found any that I completely fell in love with though special Christmas dishes for me. I do always make the table Christmasy for the special occasion meals though but with paper and plastic! :)

Anyway, last year I came across a set of Christmas dishes I really liked while doing some online shopping. I really, really liked them.  A lot. I debated but didn't order them. I figured the cost I'd be spending on myself would be equivalent to the price of a very nice gift for one of my family members. These are the dishes I was admiring...

 222 Fifth Winter Cardinal, See HERE

This year I found them online again at So this year, Black Friday cyber week + free shipping + a coupon.....I did it. I ordered them. And I was SO excited! I kept checking the tracking information right up until I knew they were sitting on my front porch! As soon as I got home I tore into that big box. And found this....
222 Fifth Andover, See HERE

I was so bummed. So disappointed. I checked the packing slip. It was right. It said 222 Fifth Winter Cardinal and had the correct price. That's just not what they sent. I immediately got on the phone and called Target. I was on hold a very long time. I finally got to talk to someone...sort of. He wasn't terribly helpful. He was just like, "Ok. Send them back." I was like, "BUT....Target made this mistake!" He said, "Yeah, we'll pay for shipping. You'll have to get ahold of FedEx and have them pick it up though." This was happening the week of two big Christmas program productions (that I was in charge of) at my school, the week of my daughter's birthday party, two weeks before get the idea. The Target representative said they'd send the right set when I sent the wrong ones back. That sounds reasonable except that they took 8 days to arrive! I wasn't looking forward to messing with returning the huge, fragile box and then waiting another 8 days. In the midst of this conversation with the Target rep, we got disconnected. Seriously?!?! I let the whole thing go for a few hours while I concentrated on one of the two Christmas programs. Then I explained the whole dilemma to my husband who really doesn't care what we eat off from, as long as we eat. I showed him the photos online of what I had wanted and then showed him what I got. His response?! "I like these better." He then pointed out that there is a log cabin on the Andover set - like his parents have and a horse drawn sleigh - like my parents have. I really do like the Andover set - a lot...but it's just not what I had wanted. I then whined the whole story to my mom who said I needed to consider if it was worth it to go through the hassle of returning a set that both Ryan and I liked. We also discussed that the Andover set cost more than what I had originally ordered. She said some day I may want to give this set to one of my children and then I could get another set I really wanted. I also pointed out that the Andover set I could actually see and liked whereas the Winter Cardinal set I had only seen online - never in person. So, I'm keeping them. And I must say, I am getting excited about them now. The red on them is a deep, rustic red. I have decided to make a rustic sort of tablescape with them for our Christmas day brunch. Maybe something like this...

photo via
or this....

photo via

And some centerpiece inspiration here...

photo via

photo via

Target sending the wrong item, getting disconnected from the Target rep, the design reminding us of our parents, the fact that my husband loves the pattern....perhaps it's meant to be. I'm really disappointed in beloved Target....but I'll forgive them. In addition to being pretty, the dinnerware is heavy duty and may stand up okay to use by my children. I'm looking forward to our first festive meal with our new dinnerware. I'll share photos when it happens!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Christmas To-Do Lists

Are you beginning to think about all you have to do to get ready for the Christmas season? Maybe you have already started. I do not have a tree up, nor will I until the day after Thanksgiving, but I have been plugging away at my Christmas shopping list and have begun to think through all I need to do to make the holidays magical for my family. I thought I'd share my Christmas to-do lists with you. Perhaps my lists are similar to yours and this may help you out!

1. Put up tree
2. Put up kids' bedroom Christmas trees
3. Put up mini tree in kitchen
4. Decorate mantel
5. Hang garland in arch to living room
6. Outdoor lights and porch display
7. Clean and decorate my bedroom (aka mom cave for some Christmas season R & R - see HERE!)

Gift Giving
1. Finish Santa Claus shopping
2. Get stocking stuffers
3. Begin Santa shopping for hubby (He's always last! Poor guy!)
4. Staff Christmas gift exchange - $25 gift
5. Teacher gifts - for 3 teachers
6. Gift for classroom volunteer
7. Gifts for aunts, uncles, cousins
8. Grandparent gifts
9. Sunday school teacher gift
10. Sunday school friends gifts
11. Wrap EVERYTHING!! Gah!!

1. Order Christmas cards
2. Send out Christmas cards
3. Plan and organize Christmas countdown stockings (See HERE!)
4. Pull out all Christmas storybooks and movies
5. Plan Christmas morning menu
6. Make reservations for Christmas vacation trip (a nearby overnight trip for fun!)
7. Plan each child's Christmas Eve outfit
8. And what am I going to wear?!?!

In addition to my mom/wife Christmas to-dos, I am also an elementary creative arts teacher and will be having two Christmas programs with 400 students the second week of December. AND my daughter's birthday is December 10th soooo.....I HAVE to be organized ahead of time. I have begun to feel overwhelmed but having it all in list form helps. Though the list is long, my shopping is well underway and I feel good about it. Everything else will fall into place! It always does!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Making Your House a Haven

Making Your Home a Haven 6th Annual Fall Challenge!

Last year I discovered Courtney Joseph's fall challenge to create a haven in my home. Author of the book, Women Living Well, Courtney shares how important it is for the mother/woman to make the house a home. Her tips include lighting a candle daily and praying for peace in the home each time you notice the candle. She also encourages women to bake bread, cookies, or some other delicious smelling treat that will add to the comfy ambiance in a home. She reminds us the important of remaining patient and calm and setting the tone of the home with kindness, gentleness, and self control. I've gotta admit - this is something I need to work on.

Proverbs 14:1 tells us "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” 

Hop on over to Women Living Well and see what this fall challenge is all about, You will be inspired to create and maintain a home that your family wants to come home to - a home that feels warm, cozy, safe, relaxing, peaceful, and a true haven from the busy world. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

7 Ways to Welcome Spring

This was our front yard Tuesday morning - March 31st! 
We had school but several schools in our area were closed! It would have been so pretty if it was Christmas rather than Easter. Enough is enough, I say! Here are some ideas for welcoming spring...

1. Get a Pedicure - Treat yourself to a pedicure with a bright, peppy color! Then put on your flip flops! (Even if it is just to flop around the house!)

2. Plant Some Seedlings - get one of those peat pots and seeds of your choice (marigolds do real well, real quickly) and get to planting! It will feel good to see some something green, new, and growing! In a few weeks, as your seeds sprout and grow stronger, you can replant the peat pots right into the soil outdoors!

3. Get Outside - just go out! Go for a walk, take the kids on a bike ride, sit outside to read even if you have to wear a coat and gloves! Just go outside. It is AMAZING what a little fresh air and daylight can do for you!

4. Open Your Window a crack each morning - when my oldest son, Hugh was little he used to stand on the toilet in the bathroom, open the window and yell, "Hellllllooooo, Spring! It's Hughie Walker!" I open the window every morning as I'm getting ready for work just to hear the birds sing! Even if it is a cool breeze, the sound of the birds is so worth it!

5. Add Some Color - hot pink, aqua, cheery yellow to your decor! A bright colored candle, a bright painting, or a springy wreath will perk things right up!

6. Pick Up a Vase of Tulips - stop by your local flower shop or pop into the produce section at Wal-mart. For just a few bucks, you can treat yourself to a bouquet of spring flowers that will brighten any space and again, give you something fresh and green to look at!

7. Wash the Windows - I can't tell you how good this feels! Washing the windows always brightens up a room, lets in more natural light, and provides you with a crisp, clear view of the awakening world outside!

It is April now and today our temperatures are expected to reach a high of 64! Way warmer than the last day of March was! Hopefully this is the start with many warmer days ahead!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

March is Reading Month ~ Door Decorating

I am a Creative Arts teacher in an elementary of grades Young 5s through 6th grade. I am also the March is Reading Month coordinator for our building. I have had this position for many years now. Each year every classroom decorates their door based on a specific book or author. They are SO good! The kids and adults alike love walking through the building checking out everyone's door!  Last year I asked my colleagues if I had their permission to share their creativity with my Sister-Dipity readers. I told them our creativity was just too good to keep to ourselves! We must share it with the world....or you know, Pinterest, at least!

This post is photo heavy and many pictures are just self explanatory so just enjoy....

Each child made an owl!

Each child colored a rainbow and a photo of their face was on the cloud!

Each child made a piece of candy to go with the door!

Each strawberry had a child's photograph on it! So sweet!

Each child drew a pigeon! So cute!

Lyle is our tech guy at our school and the office staff made this poster in honor of him!

This was my classroom door! This book is a HUGE favorite with my younger students. My Young 5s kids each made a shoe and their little school picture is on it!

Our paraprofessional staff did a door based on their favorite author, James Patterson! It was fun to see them share their love of reading with a popular adult author!

I am so excited to see what happens this year in our school for March is Reading Month!