Summer is for S’mores!

I participated in a Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for OshKosh B’Gosh. I received an OshKosh B’Gosh gift card to facilitate my post and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Can I be honest with you? I’ve kind of always dreaded the arrival of summer. There have been parts of summer I’ve enjoyed – swimming, family vacations, no school – but I just wasn’t crazy about the heat and humidity and being out in it at all.

All of that has been changing this year. Maybe it’s me, but I think it has to do more with my kids. They’re growing up and we’re able to take off on adventures as a family more easily. We’ve been playing outside, exploring our city, staying up later, and I’m starting to think summer can be quite glorious.

OshKosh Happy Brothers
I think the most wonderful of all are the summer nights.
We’ve enjoyed have family play dates with friends in the evening so we can share the joy that is…

OshKosh Smores Supplies

S’MORES.

OshKosh J Fire Pit

We are blessed to have a beautiful fire pit and seating area in our backyard, the perfect location for the perfect yummy summer activity for a play date or sleepover!

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The combination of a warm fire, gooey treats, and kids is magical.

OshKosh FireOshKosh Brothers Roasting

It’s fun to have variety available when we make s’mores with guests! We mix it up with different chocolates – dark chocolate is my favorite, Big J loves peanut butter cups, and I’ll let you take a guess at the top choice of Little J…

OshKosh Hersheys

With all of the fun chocolate options, every kid can have a custom treat they will enjoy! We somehow ended up with one kiddo who just wants the roasted marshmallow by itself and one who wants all the parts of a s’more, but wants to eat them separately. I just don’t understand.

OshKosh Eating
S’mores and summer fun go hand-in-hand at our house and we love them both even more when we get to share them with friends!

We are also totally loving the new summer play clothes the boys picked out at our local OshKosh B’Gosh store this past week!

OshKosh Surf

I’ve always thought of overalls and denim when OshKosh B’Gosh was mentioned, but they are quickly becoming my go-to store for bright, fun summer looks for my boys. The boys were actually EXCITED to be shopping in the OshKosh B’Gosh store and that is a BIG DEAL!

OshKosh j smile

With sizes 0-12, we were able to shop for all three boys in one store and we had piles of tops and shorts they all loved. The deals at OshKosh B’Gosh were so great that we were able to get everything they wanted – ten tops and four pairs of shorts – for under $100!

OshKosh Shark Face

I can’t get the boys to wear anything excet their new OshKosh B’Gosh clothes and that’s fine with me! I love their bright colors, hand-drawn original designs, and great quality.

OshKosh Shirts

I think these outfits match their personalities quite well, don’t you?! And Little J’s dino shirt (top right) glows in the dark, which is so perfect for an evening play date!

OshKosh Whole Shark

I should probably mention that if you’re going to do s’mores for a play date, please allow some “burning off all that sugar” time. They’ll need it. Trust me.

OshKosh RoamingOshKosh ChaseOshKosh Tackle

See what I mean?!

I love my boys. I love spending summer with them. And I know you will love the new summer styles from OshKosh B’Gosh as much as we do, especially with this great discount through July 13th!

SUM15-Mom-Blog-CouponV2

Find your local OshKosh B’Gosh store here, grab your kids, and enjoy finding them some fun new summer clothes together with 25% off your purchase of $30 or more! You can also use this deal online with the code SUMMER25 at checkout.

You can join in on the #HelloSummerFun action and be inspired with OshKosh B’Gosh on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

 

Your turn: talk to me about your favorite s’mores combination! We are always looking for new ideas!

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Hands-on-Prints Books: Engaging Kids in Reading!

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Hands-on-Prints books. I received books to facilitate my review. This post contains affiliate links.

We are a book-loving household. We have books of all kinds coming out of our ears. I’ve really tried to trim down our selection over the years, but I can’t seem to stop adding to our collection when I find something that looks good!

The introduction of Kindles in to our home has helped slow the rapid growth of our stacks and stacks of books, but there is still nothing like holding a physical book in your hands, especially when it comes to children’s books.

Hands On Prints All

I’m thrilled to introduce a new series to you that will really engage your children in books through great content, wonderful illustrations, and their senses!

Hands On Prints Books

Christinia Cheung earned a Masters in Early Childhood Education and established a Montessori school that celebrates differences in personality, learning preferences and cultural backgrounds. Through these experiences, she was compelled to write her Hands-on-Prints books.

Hands On Prints Boys

This series of five books inspires simple and complex learning about the world, especially incorporating sight and touch to create an interactive visual experience for children. Hands-On-Prints books really are a unique set that my children and I are greatly enjoying!

Our family favorite is Around the World from A to Z!

Hands On Prints AZ

Around the World from A to Z takes kids on a journey to explore the activities, famous landmarks, and cultures of countries. Rock climbing at Mt. Rushmore, martial arts at Mount Fuji, and snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef are just a few of the fun adventures highlighted in Around the World. My boys loved seeing what activity would be on the next page and finding the location on the map in the upper right corner of each page!

Hands On Prints AZ Finger 2 Hands On Prints AZ Finger

Each page also features a raised, textured cursive letter of the alphabet for little hands to trace! Our oldest showed his younger brothers how to trace them correctly and I’ve caught them doing it over and over again. This book has so many things to get kids involved in learning! We are big fans!

Hands On Prints Chartres

Several years ago, The Hubby and I visited Europe and one of our stops along the way was in Chartres, France. We explored the gorgeous and incredibly unique cathedral in this town and were fascinated by the story of its construction. Because of that visit, this next book is a sentimental favorites. Geometry through Architecture: The Chartres Cathedral details all the ways shapes were used in the building, particularly as symbolism in the stained glass windows. I loved looking through this book with Big J and showing him our own pictures of the cathedral from our visit. He is his mother’s son – very interested in reading and history – so this was a great connection point for us!

Hands On Prints Coconuts

Other books in the Hands-On-Prints series include Nuts for Coconuts, A Persistent Vine, and Do I Have To? What If I Don’t Want To?

Hands-On-Prints books take children on adventures that develop their knowledge and a sense of discovery! I love how these books encourage kids to think outside of themselves and their normal circumstances. They truly do inspire the best in young learners!

Which Hands-On-Prints book would be most interesting to your child?

Leave a comment with your favorite to be entered to win! Giveaway ends Tuesday, May 26th at 9PM CST!

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Prayer + Motherhood

I’ve been on my knees a lot to start this new year. It seems that when one declares a word for the year, that very thing may be the thing you for which you have to fight the hardest.

I believe that also goes for anything to which we are truly dedicated. Our marriage, our children, our ministry. The enemy doesn’t want us focused on these good things. And so the most important things in our lives are also often the most challenging.

JJ puzzle blog

Motherhood is one of those for me – something I’ve always wanted, something I treasure, something I want to do well. And yet it is also more difficult than I could have ever imagined.

As I’ve tried to proceed in 2015 with JOY, I’ve grasped new glimpses where I didn’t see it before, but I’ve also been met with much discouragement in the form of distraction and arguing and disobedience. I often feel beat down by the end of the day.

I’m not saying this is all my children’s fault. I’ve made plenty of negative choices, particularly in my role as mom, that have left me worn, losing my focus on joy. But I haven’t given up. I can’t ever give up because I’m mothering with an eye on eternity.

j homeschool writing blog

Through it all, prayer has been my saving grace. Early morning prayers for wisdom and love. Midday prayers for a peaceful afternoon. Evening prayers asking for forgiveness and new mercies for the next day. Prayers all day long to find the joy in all of it.

Boys Reading BW blog

I don’t tend to write out my prayers, but the focus on the Tommy Nelson blog this month is on prayer and God just spilled these words out of me as I wrote my heart for moms of boys – and for me. I’m not writing + praying as a mom who has figured out this boy-raising thing, but as a mom who desperately wants God to show me what these boys – MY BOYS – need from their mother. I need His wisdom. I need His strength. I need His grace. And so do my boys.

J Knex Seagull blog

I used to think God was calling me to be a mother because I would be good at it. {insert my laughter here} Now I know motherhood is my calling because it is always refining me and keeping me dependent on my God. Motherhood draws me close to Him + prayer is our best form of communication.

Moms – join me in prayer this week, this month, this year? Whether you are a mom of boys, a single parent {or sometimes single}, a woman who longs to be a mom, or any mother – someone is praying the same prayer you are. And there are more motherhood prayers yet to come on Tommy Nelson this month, so stay tuned!

If you have a specific prayer request related to motherhood, share it in the comments or feel free to email it to me. It would be my joy to pray for you today!

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Great Gift Books for Your Guys!

I received some of these books to review. I was not compensated in any way for writing about them, and all opinions are 100% my own. I have also included affiliate 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!

As you know, I’m surrounded by guys. Add in grandpas and uncles and nephews…the number just keeps growing! I’m always looking for unique gifts to fit the interests and personalities of these guys and every year, books are a great option that don’t disappoint!

Gift Books

There are plenty of new great gift books for your guys this year and I wanted to share a few of my favorite with you! If you have Amazon Prime, you can order them today and still get them in time for Christmas with free two-day shipping! If you don’t have Amazon Prime, grab the free 30-day trial now and use it for your last-minute holiday shopping!  {Have I mentioned how much I adore Amazon Prime? So many reasons…}

And now for the books…

For the little guys

Diggit

Diggit Saves the Day and Tipper Tells a Lie are part of the brand new Building God’s Kingdom board book series by Andy Holmes. The stories center around a crew of construction vehicles who learn lessons about character and godliness. My little guy loves the trucks and I love what he is learning! I can’t wait for more book sin this series to share with him.

For the school-age boys

Action Bible

The Action Bible is a favorite in our home because it tells the stories of the Bible in comic-book style and my boys are totally enthralled by it. I’ve seen it capture their attention and, after reading it, they want to look up more about each story in their own Bibles. This is a definite winner with visual learners and comic book lovers alike!

Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels: The Visual Guide is a brand new book about this new series on Disney XD. Our boys love the show, but they love reading about the characters and settings just as much as they do watching the show! They checked this book out at the library and were so sad when they had to return it, so I think they’ll be thrilled to find it under the tree this year!

Star Wars 100 Scenes

Star Wars in 100 Scenes is one of my favorite finds because it covers the whole Star Wars saga in one book. I’m a big fan of the original three movies and my guys like the new ones, so this is a book we can all enjoy!

For the comic book fan

Marvel

Marvel Comics: 75 Years of Cover Art could be enjoyed by Marvel fans of any age thanks to the movies introducing a new generation to characters such as Captain America and Thor. I love that my guys can see the characters as they were originally imagined in this fabulous collection of cover art!

DC Comics

DC Comics: A Visual History is another great find along the same lines as the Marvel Comics book. Whether it’s a dad or uncle who has always loved Superman or your kids who are currently obsessed, this visual history is fascinating and a great gift!

For the athlete

Running & Being

Running & Being is known as the book that really got people running again. George Sheehan’s thoughts on running are applicable to newbies and veterans alike. The Hubby was so excited to receive this from his parents this year for Christmas!

For the traveler

Great Maps

Great Maps will captivate those who love to travel and those who have always dreamed of it. This book from the Smithsonian is not along informative, but also a fine work of art and a great conversation piece. The well-traveled man in your life would appreciate this handsome book.

What books do the guys in your life love? Are you gifting any books to the guys in your life this Christmas?

 

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They’re Speaking a Different Language, But I’m Still Listening

The Star Wars obsession in our house has reached full throttle. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like Star Wars, especially the original three episodes. Han Solo is my favorite. Who is with me?!

The boys, however, have taken liking Star Wars to a whole new level. They want to watch it all the time. They check out books about it at the library. They play Star Wars games and play with Star Wars Legos and have lightsaber fights with the pool noodle lightsabers I made for Little J’s Star Wars birthday party.

STAR WARS EVERYTHING.

So when we sat down to watch The Empire Strikes Back, I wasn’t just getting Luke + Leia + Han + all the droids. I was getting full commentary on every ship, weapon, planet, and character that came in to view on screen. My brain just about exploded. I know the boys get their ability to talk for hours from me, but OH MY GOSH.

I will fully admit here that I wanted to tune them out for much of the movie. I don’t really care whether Chewbacca is using a Bowcaster gun or the stormtrooper’s BlasTech E-11 blaster during the battle at Cloud City. Are you impressed with my knowledge there?! All from my boys. And I think I can recognize an X-Wing from a Tie Fighter, but I don’t mind if I don’t know all the names of the other ships.

My boys, however, care deeply. They love learning about Star Wars and they love telling me about it. Most of the time, they sound like they are speaking an entirely different language, but I’m still listening.

Listening to Your Kids

I’m still listening when they talk on and on about Star Wars because I want them to know THEY matter to me. Star Wars isn’t my whole world, but these boys are, and I can show them just how important they are to me by just listening. I can look them in the eye and ask questions when I don’t understand. Their handsome faces just light up when I ask them to explain the droids to me or on which planet everyone has now arrived.

I’m still listening because I want them to keep talking to me. I want to listen when they talk to me now about what matters so they know I will keep listening as they get older and the things that matter to them change. It may be Star Wars now, but some day it will be friendships and peer pressure and deep faith questions and even girls…so not ready for that. 

On the nights where I think we’re just settling down for a relaxing family move night and I, instead, get an earful about jedis and padawans, I am committing to listening and letting them know they are heard.

Listening to Your Kids 2

Keep speaking that strange language to me, boys. I’m still listening and I always will.

What do your kids talk to you about that you just don’t “get?” How do you make them feel heard in these situations?

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All the Feelings

Our sweet, squishy, super-energetic and super-loving Little J turns six today.

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All the Feelings 003 All the Feelings 004

Our confident, independent, way-too-old-already Big J left for three nights at church camp yesterday.

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All the Feelings 008

All the Feelings 001

All the Feelings 006

All the Feelings 002

And Double J…well, he’s two, so…you know…

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All the Feelings 010

Excuse me while I have all the feelings today.

*****

I’ve been floating around to different places on the web lately! You can check them out here:

The Making of an Affiliate Marketer – My podcast debut over at the Declare Conference!

Deep Breaths – one way I embrace motherhood in the middle of chaos at Thrive Moms

 

 

 

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Mighty {Five Minute Friday}

Five Minute FridayIt’s Five Minute Friday with lovely Lisa-Jo!

Set a timer and just write. Don’t worry about making it just right or not.

For me? An exercise in letting go and letting words flow. Five minutes only. {yes, I do set a timer and it quacks like a duck at 5 minutes, which totally makes me smile}

Today’s prompt: Mighty.

Stick around for why this week is so important!

*****

And go…

I’m coming up on eight years of being a mom and I’m still not sure of myself. The moment I think I’ve figured out what works for our family, our boys, things change – ages, stages, moods, circumstances. I’m a little lost and trying to find my place.

Mighty Men

But I do know one thing about these boys of ours: I want to raise them to be mighty men of God. I want them to recognize the strength and power that comes from the Holy Spirit when they are living in relationship with Jesus. To use that might for the Kingdom. To be mighty for God and to love mightily. To use their passion and strong will for justice and mercy in His name.

I know no other way to do this than to be a mighty warrior in prayer for them. I’m not a guy. I don’t know how to be a godly man. But I know how to pray and prayer is a mighty weapon. None of us will be mighty on our own, but in His hands, there is strength this world can’t come close to touching.

Mighty

I need to wear out the knees of my jeans in prayer the way my boys do playing hard. A mighty prayer warrior to raise mighty men of God. Only by His grace, I’m finding this is my place.

Stop.

*****

Do you ever feel lost and completely un-mighty in your role as a mother? You’re not alone. And even though our paths to motherhood are very different, I’ve never felt so understood as a mom as I did reading Lisa-Jo’s new book, Surprised by Motherhood. Mamas, this book is for all of you and it will rock your world. Go. Pre-order it now. For you, your mom, your sister, your bible study – all the mothers you know. I have more to share on this next week, but know that I laughed and cried and finished it in 48 hours.

And go read more fabulous posts on the topic of mighty at Lisa-Jo’s place today!

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Natural Room Sprays for Stinky Boys!

Happy first day of spring!

Between sports, playing outside, and just plain growing up, we’re entering the world of stinky boys. Yes, I still have one in diapers, too, so we’re covering all ends of the stinky spectrum! In all honesty, I contribute just as much to the stink with my smelly workout clothes!

We’ve tried all number of air fresheners and some of them smell simply delightful…but they are loaded with chemicals and we just don’t need that floating around our house! I would much rather freshen our “stinky boy” air that my guys are so proud of with natural room sprays and I have a few favorites to share with you today!

Natural Room Sprays

All of these room sprays use essential oils, a new world I am loving and learning all about! Just put the suggested oil and water together and give it a good shake to mix it up before you spray!

Purify Room Spray

What You Need:

  • Small spray bottle
  • 2-3 drops Purify essential oil blend {buy here}
  • Water to fill bottle

Purify is an amazing cleansing blend that I have found to be fabulous at eliminating odors and “clearing the air!” The scent is not overwhelming and it really does give the area a refreshing atmosphere!

OnGuard Room Spray

What You Need:

  • Small spray bottle {mine was 3 oz}
  • 2-3 drops OnGuard essential oil blend {buy here}
  • Water to fill bottle

OnGuard has a wonderful fall smell {my favorite time of year} AND it has great immune-boosting properties! Plus, the boys think the name is really cool, like something a knight would yell!

Room Sprays Big

Lavender Room Spray

What You Need:

  • Large spray bottle
  • 20 drops Lavender essential oil {buy here}
  • Water to fill the bottle

This is great to mist in bedrooms before bedtime. I’ve also sprayed it around our school work area to promote a little more calm – anything to help when homeschooling two boys and trying to keep a third entertained!

A few notes for these natural room sprays…

  • Even though my picture has cute colored plastic bottles, certain oils can cause plastic bottles to disintegrate. The ideal small bottles for these sprays are dark-colored glass bottles which you can find here. They will also help the oils in the spray retain their effectiveness.
  • You can make room sprays from many of your favorite essential oil scents! Just follow similar ratios as those listed above!
  • I use doTERRA essential oils because they are what I know and love. They are pure, therapeutic grade essential oils. For more information about doTERRA Essential Oils and how to order them for your family, please click here!

Essential Spring Cleaning Blog Tour

For more great spring cleaning with essential oils tips, visit these lovely sites today:

For a full list of all the posts in the Essential Spring Cleaning Blog Event, click here!

Have you made your own room spray using essential oils? What is your favorite scent?


I am a doTERRA Wellness Advocate and receive commissions and/or bonuses from doTERRA.

Disclosure: I am not a medical professional. The statements and suggestions given here have not been evaluated by the FDA. I am simply sharing ideas and suggestions on how to use essential oils in everyday life. I assume no liability for the way you choose to use essential oils. Use your good judgement and act responsibly.

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Our Favorite Bible Apps for Kids!

I love that even the iWorld – apps and iPhones and iPads and the like – can be used to further the Kingdom of God!

We’ve recently discovered two Bible apps for kids that are amazing and I had to share them with you! I’m even learning things as the kids play the games on them!

Bible Apps for Kids

Adventure Bible Games

We just received an email about this free app {for iPad only} late last week and, being lovers of the Adventure Bible {affiliate link}, I downloaded it immediately and started playing around before I handed it to the kids. This app has SO much great Bible knowledge for our kids to learn and review!

  • Leapin’ Lemur is like Wheel of Fortune with Bible verses! A few words are filled in and the verse book, chapter, and verse are given, but then the kids have to pick letters to figure out what the verse says!
  • Books of the Bible reviews the order of books in the Bible. I was shakier on this in the Old Testament than I care to admit, but we were all singing through the Books of the Bible songs from Slugs and Bugs trying to remember the order and it was great fun!
  • Leopardy = Jeopardy for Bible trivia! Pick your category and point value and answer the question!
  • X Marks the Spot deals with biblical geography! We loved this one because just playing it is a learning experience
  • Truth Quest gives you a question, a time limit, and three clues to figure out answers to various questions about the Bible. It felt very much like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and there are several levels and categories to go through!

The boys love the jungle theme that all Adventure Bible products bear, the games have them hooked, and we’re all learning more about the Bible each time they play! That is a successful Bible-related app for kids to me!

The Bible App for Kids

The other Bible app for kids we love is the Bible App for Kids from YouVersion. This app is amazing – great animation, several different Bible stories with more being added all the time, AND review questions at the end to check for understanding!

Each story has the choice to be read by the app, but the words are also on the screen, making it great for children of any age and reading level. And within each story, kids can collect points by clicking on different people, places, or things. Earning points and stars makes everything more fun and interesting for kids, doesn’t it?!

With Lent starting Wednesday and Easter to follow, both The Cross and The Resurrection stories are in the app ready to read and share with your children. And The Bible App for Kids is available for many different formats!

Are there other Bible apps for kids your family loves? Please share!

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Kid-Created Lego Snowboard Course!

I have included affiliate 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!

The boys would build with Legos non-stop if we let them. They may make a huge mess, but I LOVE the creativity that comes out in their Lego building!

Big J watched some of the X Games a few weeks back and caught snowboard fever. He’s never snowboarded before, but between the X Games, watching YouTube videos of Shaun White, our study of the upcoming Olympics, and the Disney movie Cloud Nine, snowboarding is totally on his mind. And it has showed up in his Lego building as well!

Check out his Lego snowboard course…

Lego Snowboard Course

Lego Snowboard Course Full

Lego Snowboard Course Side

The boarder is a storm trooper, obviously, because he looks like he’s wearing a snowsuit, mask, and goggles.

Lego Snowboard Course Boarder

And that’s his white, green, and red snowboard underneath him, sitting atop the course waiting for the go signal! I love all the details he added, like the flames as spotlights for night competition!

Lego Snowboard Course Boarder Side
There are also reporters on the course, a special second course, and a special snowmobile taking reporters around the course! I just had to share this and Big J was pretty excited when I told him I was blogging about it! I think it’s like an extra fist bump :)

If you couldn’t tell, we’re TOTALLY ready for the Winter Olympics around here!  My friend Stef and her son are ready as well with these AWESOME Lego Brick Olympics creations! My boys are so excited to try them! They already love the Winter Brick Activities ebook – perfect for these cold, snow days!

Are your kids excited about the Winter Olympics? Which Winter Olympic sports interest them most?

*This post and creation is not affiliated with, sponsored, or endorsed by The Lego Group or The Olympics.

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