Little Splashes of Color: Whimsical Art for Kids

I received these items to review from Little Splashes of Color.

The art that goes up in our home is very carefully picked for two reasons:

  1. We want the pieces we put on our walls to mean something to us.
  2. I am very indecisive, due in part to some perfectionism.

We have Scripture art and family pictures. National park posters and Green Bay Packers adorn the walls in one boy’s room. A professional photo of the Cornhusker Marching Band (from our days in the band) hangs in our basement.

I recently discovered a local artist who makes the sweetest artwork for children and I knew our boys would each find something meaningful to them in the collection!

Little Splashes of Color features the beautiful, whimsical work of Kathy Jurek. From construction vehicles to mermaids and everything in between, Kathy has captured all the magical loves of childhood in her watercolors. My boys had such a hard time picking out their favorite because they loved so many, but here are their selections!


Double J (5) changes what he wants to be when he grows up every week, but firefighter usually remains somewhere on the list. My grandfather and uncle were both volunteer firemen, so I love that he chose this red fire truck to hang in his room!


Little J (9) has wanted to be a veterinarian since before he could pronounce it correctly! He loves animals of all kinds, but I know he was thinking of our trip to the National Zoo in Washington D.C. earlier this year when he chose this adorable panda painting!

As the oldest boy, I was worried Big J (11) may have outgrown some of the artwork on the site, but he saw this plane and instantly claimed it. He has big plans for including flying in his future! This plane design came in blue, but Big J loves green (like his mama) and asked if she could customize it for him. It turned out just as he wanted!

I was able to choose my favorite, too…

I am a sucker for cute alphabet prints and these animals are C-U-T-E. I think I’ll keep it to myself in my office!

A beautiful piece of art from Little Splashes of Color would make a wonderful gift this holiday season! For the next two weeks, you can get 20% off your order with the code HOMEWITHTHEBOYS at checkout!

Take a look around Little Splashes of Color and tell me your favorite pieces!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Encouraging an Active Family Lifestyle

This post contains affiliate links.

I’m excited to be over at the Tommy Nelson blog today sharing our journey to a more active lifestyle as a family! Tommy Nelson is getting ready to release a young reader’s version of Finding Gobi, as well a picture book version, featuring the adventure of an ultramarathoner and a dog. My son really enjoyed the young reader’s version and it reminded me that inspiration for active living can even come from reading a book!

Here’s a little bit of our story…

There was a time in our life as a family where our children didn’t want to play outside. They didn’t want to go for a run or walk or play backyard baseball. The boys preferred to stay inside to build with Legos, watch TV, and read. Building with Legos and reading are excellent activities, but kids have a lot of energy, and especially my boys. When they aren’t active, that energy can (and will) be spent in unproductive and destructive ways, such playing recklessly in the house and fighting with siblings.

I know, at the time, my husband and I weren’t great active examples for our kids. Exercise was low on our priority list for a long time, but five years ago, we both started to run and take better care of ourselves. Soon, we were running several days a week and training for races. Running improved our fitness level and gave us more energy to play with the kids. Instead of sitting around watching TV with the kids, we were inviting them to go for a walk or to go play tennis…

Head on over to Tommy Nelson to read more about how the kids responded to these changes and a few of my favorite tips for getting your family moving and healthy!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

USA All the Way!

I received these shirts to review from Cents of Style. This post contains affiliate links.

One of my favorite things about the summer is the Fourth of July – the lake, the family fun, the fireworks! Our Fourth of July celebrations usually include a trip to my uncle and aunt’s lake cabin in Minnesota. It’s one of my very favorite traditions from growing up and now we get to take our boys there! With tons of family around and tons of things to do, the day just flies by and lots of memories are made. After tubing, jet skis, water skiing, front yard football and baseball, backyard badminton, and fantastic food, everybody loves to settle in around the campfire for stories and s’mores. It really is the perfect summer day!

There are two holidays for which I buy everyone in the family new shirts every year – St. Patrick’s Day and Independence Day! I just can’t help myself when I see all the fun new red, white, and blue apparel appear in stores and online. With the boys growing so fast now, they definitely can’t fit into their shirts from the previous year!

This year, I picked out the boys’ Fourth of July shirts from Cents of Style!

I love these baseball raglan tees so much and so do my boys! While are July days are usually quite hot, the nights can get quite chilly, especially at the lake, so these are a great option for layering as we head to the campfire!

The classic baseball raglan tee is perfect for any age because it never goes out of style! And these lightweight tees let my boys still be active without getting too hot! They even wore them for our newest favorite activity: shooting hoops in our driveway!

Gosh, I love being a boy mom! This new basketball hoop by our driveway has been the BEST thing for our active boys – I can’t get them to come inside!

 

Now, about those shirts…

Cents of Style has all kinds of fun and festive kids’ shirts on sale this weekend only! Use the code KIDSTORY to get 50% off all kids’ shirts – some will be as low as $5! Shipping is free, too! This deal ends Sunday, June 18th, so don’t miss out!

Which shirts will your kid(s) be sporting from this awesome collection?!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Dear Son, Be The Good

I received this shirt to review from Cents of Style. This post contains affiliate links.

Dear Son,

Yesterday you turned 11 years old. That just seems so impossible and so wonderful to me at the same time. You are my firstborn, the one who made me a mama, my mini-me in your love for history, learning, and the Packers. We have our differences, but we’re also alike in enough ways that we both “get” each other and butt heads often. I try to remember that God can and will use your stubbornness for good, so that’s what I’m praying for you every day.

This morning, the day after your birthday, was a little rough. I always hate the day after my birthday because it’s “just another day.” I can tell you were feeling that, too. But it doesn’t have to be. We have a choice every single day. I want you to choose to see the good around you and be thankful for it. And I want you to choose one more thing.

I pray you will choose to BE THE GOOD. This world has enough people waiting around for good things to happen for them. You don’t have to be those people. There are so many opportunities for you to be the good this world needs.

Smile at someone. Look for people who need a helping hand. Pray for a friend. Do something nice for your brothers. Find an injustice or cause that moves you and get involved in changing it for the better.

For as many things as there are going wrong in our world, there are as many (or more) ways for you to make a positive difference.

I know you love Jesus, and every good thing comes from Him. Stay connected to Jesus and not only will He help you see where you can shine some good, but He will also give you the strength you need to keep doing good for His glory.

Be the good, son. I’ll be right beside you doing the same.

Love, Mom

*****

Whatever you want to BE, the “Be Series” from Cents of Style will help you get and stay inspired!

All of the “Be Series” tees are just $15.95 with the code BESTORY this weekend! So many choices – there is literally a shirt for anything you want to be! I love all of my Cents of Style tees – great quality, soft, and so stylish! Grab your favorites while they’re on this amazing sale!

 

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Those First Years

This post was sponsored by WaterWipes as part of an Ambassador Program for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.

I’ve been through that first year with a little one three times. Thanks to WaterWipes, I’ve spent a little time thinking back on those first years. Each of my sons’ first years had lots in common, but they were also so different for me AND for them.

those-first-years

The first “first year” was full of new things for all of us. Every milestone was a first for our son, but also for us as parents. The first feeding, first diaper change, first time getting peed on during a diaper change – and that was just the first day! I remember lots of exhaustion, but I also remember being in awe of this little person and the fact that he was ours.

Big J birth_opt

The responsibility was weighty, but it also brought my husband and I together as a team like nothing before it. We were raising this little man and we couldn’t do it without one another. Marriage united us, but parenting together that first year elevated our teamwork to a whole new level. Of all the firsts – foods and words and steps – being parents together for the first time might have been my favorite part.

1007_100925185625_4298_n

1924303_113777620625_854_n

The second “first year,” with our second son, was a whole new world. With a two-year-old holding much of our attention, this little one learned to fall asleep on his own much faster and had built in entertainment AND competition from his older brother. We had joyful firsts, but we also had challenging firsts – our first experience with reflux and a teething nursing baby – YIKES! Where my husband and I solidified our unity during our first son’s first year, with #2, I was learning how to be a stay-at-home mom. And I started a blog. This blog. That first year of blogging is a whole different story…

JJ3mon1asmall

There was a longer gap between the second and third child, so I almost felt like I was starting over! Our third son’s first year was a little stressful as it involved moving to a new city, job change, and homeschool. When I think back on it now, though, our third little boy brought so much joy and laughter during that first year. Our oldest son was too young to remember when his middle brother was a baby, so both him and our middle son were fascinated by all the new things their youngest brother was doing! Remember that awe I talked about with our first son? I could see it on the faces of our older two boys when the littlest started to crawl, took on the stairs (way too early), and started forming words.

2015 Three Boys Bridge

How can it be ten years since that first year? When I think back on it all, it can be a blur, but it’s been a beautiful, messy, wonderful blur of life with these boys of ours. These memories helped me realize that it didn’t matter where we were or what we had during those first years. What mattered was this family and realizing those boys needed and loved us more than anything else. And we love them even more.

I’m thankful that WaterWipes is taking the time to discuss, celebrate, and bring transparency to baby’s first year. Take a look at this fabulous video from WaterWipes and moms just like you and me:

This is just another reason I love WaterWipes. Their product is pure and perfect for the first years that we are remembering and celebrating here! Whether you’re in that first year or down the parenting road a ways, WaterWipes can keep you and your kids clean in the simplest, purest way (99.9% pure Irish water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract).

Let’s talk about the first year! Favorite memories? Craziest moments?

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Why We’re Still Using Wipes In a Diaper-Less House

This post was sponsored by WaterWipes as part of an Ambassador Program for Influence Central. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.

I really wish I would have know about WaterWipes when we had babies in diapers. With all three babies, we used wipes and detergent with no added fragrances because sensitive skin runs in our family. Our middle son still struggles with sensitive skin and eczema, so we’ve kept to fragrance-free as much as possible.

We’ve been done with diapers in our house for over a year now – HALLELUJAH! We had a bunch of wipes left over and, even without bottoms to wipe, I found myself still using those wipes for everything. Over the baby years, I didn’t even realize how handy and convenient they had become to me for all kinds of messes. Ice cream cones, sticky suckers, marker-covered hands, and more were no match for my stash of wipes!

WaterWipes Car

Fast forward to several months ago and my introduction to WaterWipes – the timing could not have been better as I was running out of my previous fragrance-free wipes and needed to restock. I’m so glad I didn’t buy more because WaterWipes were just the thing I had been hoping to find over all these years!

WaterWipes are a chemical free baby wipe with just two ingredients: 99.9% pure Irish water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract. I feel great about using these for all sorts of messes with my family because there are no harmful chemicals! All of the usefulness of baby wipes with none of the extras – what’s not to love?!

Why we're still using wipes in aDiaper-less house

Why do I keep using wipes even though we are diaper-less? One word: convenience. My three boys are always getting dirty and I’ve been known to make a few messes, too. I keep a pack of WaterWipes in the minivan, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, and in my purse, so I am always ready when a mess pops up!

IMG_4907

I’m pretty sure our latest road trip to Colorado would have been a whole lot messier without WaterWipes! We used them on the car ride, for picnic lunches, and on our hikes. It was so handy to have them in my backpack to clean off hands before a mid-hike snack or clean up extra mud.

One more reason to love WaterWipesthis beautiful video on the importance of skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby!

My boys may be growing up fast, but this video has me fondly remembering those newborn skin-to-skin snuggles. Such a sweet time in motherhood! I love the emphasis on purity by WaterWipes, both in love and in the product!

How are you using wipes in your home?

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

How to Help Your Boy Discover His Gifts and Purpose

One Friday morning earlier this month, we made the trip to an area arts and academic meet for our oldest son. He had been chosen to participate in a math competition as well as have his artwork displayed at the art show. The fact that he was doing well in both math and art at school really got me thinking about the gifts God places in our kids and how unique they are for each child.

IMG_3206

As a mom to three growing boys, I have a front row seat to see these gifts being revealed in each of my sons. It is quite the show and I’m realizing I am not a passive viewer in this situation. God has a role for us as parents in helping our children discover and grow in the talents given to them by Him.

As my oldest is only 10, I don’t have any expert advice for you, but I do have real-life experience, right now in the trenches with you, and I’ve observed these ways to participate in this process without taking over the lives of my kids.

I’m sharing my thoughts on a parent’s role in this process over at the Tommy Nelson blog today! Head on over there to read more and join the discussion!

How-to-Help-Your-Boy-Discover-His-Gifts-and-Purpose-678x1024

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

3 Ways to Involve Your Kids in the Kitchen This Christmas!

I have included affiliate and referral links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

Confession: I love to eat.

Many of my fondest memories involve food. This especially holds true for the holidays. Christmas makes me think of my dad’s party mix, my mom’s plates of sweet treats, and big bowls of warm soup. The holidays have always included full days of baking in the kitchen with my mom and sister – measuring, mixing, baking, and decorating to share delicious food with family and friends.

I have three boys of my own now and I am so grateful they enjoy time in the kitchen as much as I do! Their involvement in holiday baking has evolved over the years based on their age and level of interest. My aim is always to make it fun for them AND productive for me with as little stress as possible. When I get started on my holiday baking list, I know they will want to join in, so I have several go-to ways to get them involved in the kitchen!

3 Ways to Involve Your Kids in the Kitchen this Christmas

Here are my three favorites:

Kids in the Kitchen Reading Recipe

Reading the recipe

It might not seem like the most exciting job, but as soon as my boys could read, they couldn’t wait to tell me the ingredients, measurements, and directions. I think they might also enjoy it because they feel like they are in control! It is helpful to me because I can go about measuring and mixing while they tell me what to do.

When the kids are in the kitchen with me reading handwritten recipes passed down from my mom or grandma, we end up sharing lots of stories. Family history has been passed down from generation to generation in our kitchens and I want to keep that tradition going!

Kids in the Kitchen Chocolate Chips

Measuring the mix-ins

I usually measure out the messiest ingredients during our baking sessions – flour, oil, and so on. Those are also the ingredients that need to be the most precise, so maybe it’s a little about me being in control! I’m trying to hand over the measuring duties little by little and even our youngest can help measure mix-in type ingredients, such as chocolate chips, nuts, and dried fruit. These measurements don’t need to be quite as exact and I don’t mind if they sneak a few to snack on along the way!

Kids in the Kitchen Egg

Cracking eggs

I know I just talked about control issues in the kitchen and this was probably the hardest for me to let the kids try. But here’s the truth: kids love cracking eggs. And egg cracking is a skill every person should learn at some point, so why not teach them early?

When the kids crack eggs, we follow a few simple rules. Eggs are cracked one at a time into a separate bowl, then added to the mixture. This prevents accidental egg shell pieces from ruining an entire batch of cookies! Hand washing is a must as soon as all eggs are cracked to prevent any cross-contamination. I’m all about preventing food-borne illness because there is already enough sickness going around this time of year!

On this particular day, we were making my grandma’s chocolate chip cookies, but holiday baking with kids could also involve frosting, sprinkles, rolling out dough, and lots of other fun!

And when the kids lose interest in the kitchen…

This happens all the time. The boys are so excited about baking with me, but after about 30 minutes, they lose interest. It pays to have a backup plan and I often choose a holiday movie for that plan. In keeping with the Christmas baking theme, check out A Fruitcake Christmas from the Hermie & Friends series by Tommy Nelson! There is fun, adventure, mystery, and all of it points to Christ, the true reason for Christmas.

I love to bake all year round, but there is something extra special about baking this time of year and I’m so glad my kids are a part of it! What is your favorite way to get the kids involved with holiday baking?

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Just When You Think He’s Not Listening

We have that one child who seems like he never hears us the first time around. Getting his attention and holding it isn’t always easy. While he is very smart and does so well in school, sometimes I’ve wondered if anything we say is soaking in.

Do you have a child like that? Let me give you a little hope today.

IMG_0151 2

As we drove to school one morning last week, our three-year-old asked: “When do we get to be with Jesus?”

That’s a pretty deep question for 7:30 in the morning while stuck in stop-and-go traffic. I took a big breath and readied my answer, but seven-year-old Little J chimed in first.

“We get to be with Jesus when we go to heaven! And in heaven, there is no pain or sickness or sadness. It’s all happy!”

This definitely got my attention in the best way possible. Double J (our three-year-old) seemed very interested as well and his big brother wasn’t done yet.

“You get to go to heaven if you ask Jesus into your heart! Big J and I have both asked Jesus to come into our hearts so we’ll be in heaven with Him. You can ask Him, too!”

Cue the big mommy tears.

Our rides to school in the morning have been a highlight of my day. We always start with prayer and then the kids take turns picking music to listen to and sing. It feels like some calm in the middle of a chaotic morning.

IMG_0162

But that morning last week. That morning topped them all. The child who doesn’t always listen, who seems to often be in his own little world…he has most certainly been listening. He has soaked up the true meaning of the Gospel over the years, and he was fully ready to share it with his little brother, without being asked.

His younger brother has been listening as well, because in the midst of hiding tears of joy behind my sunglasses and trying to keep my blurry eyes on the road, I heard his little three-year-old voice say:

“And Jesus is in heaven because He died on the cross and rose from the tomb!”

All those days of reading Bible stories over and over again, of memorizing verses and singing worship songs, of answering the same questions over and over again…they are 100% worth it, moms and dads. Our kids coming to know the love and saving power of Jesus is all His grace, but you are doing His good work when you share the Good News with your children day after day.

IMG_9989

In the days following, three-year-old Double J has talked a lot about heaven and death and what he will get to take with Him. So much of this is a mystery even to us as mature Christians, so I don’t have all the answers for him. He’s pretty sad that his Duplos won’t go with him to heaven. But I love the conversation that is happening in our home, all because our seven-year-old was bold in sharing the message of salvation he has been hearing all through his young life.

All this discussion led to a few little words with big weight from our youngest earlier this week:

“Mommy, I can’t wait to be with Jesus in heaven.”

Me neither, buddy.

May we all live with the boldness, the faith, and the joy of our children, soaking up every little bit of God’s goodness.

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Backyard Football Therapy

Saturday wasn’t the best day for our beloved Nebraska Cornhusker football team. We were crushed by the way it all went down, losing on a last second Hail Mary touchdown and all.

Backyard Football 15

The Hubby gets all the dad points, though, because instead of sulking, as we both wanted to do, he gathered the boys and headed to the backyard for a game of football. And I took my camera out there to capture the fun.

I think it was good therapy for all of us.

Backyard Football 13 Backyard Football 14 Backyard Football 12 Backyard Football 11 Backyard Football 10 Backyard Football 9 Backyard Football 8 Backyard Football 7 Backyard Football 6 Backyard Football 5 Backyard Football 4Backyard Football 2 Backyard Football 1Backyard Football 3

Recovering from football with more football. That’s how we do it in this Nebraska house of boys.

How did your team do this weekend?

 

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook