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My Favorite Books I Read in 2018

I am a huge fan of reading! It keeps your mind thinking and learning and allows you to see things from other’s perspectives.

I set a reading goal for myself last year and didn’t  come close to making it.

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But that’s okay . Because after several off years, reading again became a habit and I made it through many good books. So that is a success.

This next year I hope to read at least double and am currently making good progress.

As you are choosing books to read, I suggest selecting a variety of genres. I’m reintroducing children’s literature into my rotation and so enjoying it. It’s been so great to re-read some of my childhood favorites.

This list  does include a lot of non-fiction but I’m hoping that this year I can increase the number of biographies I read.

I’ve divided my reads in these categories:

Children’s Literature (GREAT read aloud options for your kids)
Marriage
Biographies
Diversity
Other (Primarily: spiritual, self help, and parenting )

After the list, I’ll share a few of my favorites from the the past year. Most all of these books are worth reading, but I have a few that come to mind I enjoy talking about.

Children’s Literature

Sarah Plain and Tall
Skylark
Caleb’s Story
More Perfect Than the Moon
The Hundred Dresses
All of a Kind Family
Understood Betsy
The War That Saved My Life
Bud, Not Buddy
Shiloh

Marriage

What Did you Expect Paul David Tripp
The Meaning of Marriage Timothy Keller
When Sinners Say “I Do” Dave Harvey

Diversity

Under Our Skin
Just Mercy
I’m Still Here
Foreign to Familiar

Biography

The Lady of Arlington

Other (Spiritual, Self Help, Parenting)

Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus
Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes
Different
Your Best Year Ever
Book Girl
Hands Free Life
In Bloom
Seeing Yourself through God’s Eyes
Life Together
Nothing to Prove
Own Your Life
Raising World Changers in a Changing World
Just Open the Door
You Can Stay Home With Your Kids
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World
Sun Stand Still
Made to Crave

Let’s get to a few favorites. I loved, loved, loved Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus and Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes. My eyes were completely opened to how I have been reading the Bible with my own limited Western view. There is so much there that we miss out on when doing that! I learned so many things and I want to learn more. I highly recommend every believer read these books.

I also very much enjoyed Lady of ArlingtonYes, it was the only biography I read, but it was so interesting. I knew nothing about Mary Lee and basically nothing about Robert E Lee so it was like meeting and getting to know someone for the first time. Mary was a pretty amazing woman.

Paul David Tripp’s What Did You Expect was excellent! So convicting. I have his book Parenting on my list for 2019.

Different was an encouraging read as you parent kids who have their differences.  It’s an especially important read for parents with kids who have a lot of different diagnoses – OCD, ADD, ADHD, etc. It’s written by Sally Clarkson and her son Nathan who grew up struggling with being different.

I also discovered that I have a soft spot for children’s novels and rereading them and adult classics I read as a child. They are such a good comfort read. They made me feel at home and happy. Most of my childhood/teen rereads were better than I remembered!

Just Mercy was a hard, good read about inequality and  unfairness in our justice system. It is one of those reads that makes you sad and angry.

If hospitality is something that you are wanting to pursue this year, Just Open the Door is a great book! Hospitality doesn’t have to be flashy and impressive, just open your door where you are at.

What were your favorite reads of 2018? For some other great books, check out this list of my favorite reads from a few years ago!

Printable Goals Planner To Get It Done

Are you making some goals? I want to help you out with this goals planner you can print off and use as you are planning.

samples pages of the goals planner

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Goals are a great thing. Or great as long as they are the right goals for you and you actually follow through and take the steps you need to get them accomplished.

As moms, our focus is going to be different than what they would have been as a college student or if we were single business women.

We want our goals to help and set us up for success, not be a source of conflict and frustration with us and our families. I find goals help motivate me and also cause to to slow down and evaluate my life and my family.

Printable Goals Planner

Let’s start with making your goals.

I’m sure you’ve seen the acronym SMART. When you come up with your goals, you need to make sure they are specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound.

Let’s stop here for a minute. I just read a book by Michael Hyatt called Your Best Year Ever. He changes things up a little. His acronym is:

SMARTER

 In SMARTER the first “R” stands for risky. If you stick with super realistic goals, you’ll be setting the bar too low.  So be sure to realistically push yourself.

The “E” stands for exciting. Choose goals that inspire and excite you – it will help you stay motivated.

The final “R” stands for relevant. Please, make sure your goals are right for you and your season of life and what you are wanting/needing to accomplish.

As you fill out this first page, be sure to keep SMART/SMARTER goal making in mind.

Now, that you have your goals written down, use the next page to break them down into action steps. Give yourself a deadline as to when you want to accomplish your goal. You can even set a reward to help keep yourself motivated.

From here you will want to take your goals as a whole and break them down into quarterly steps. This way you will know what you are focusing on when instead of being overwhelmed by all the things.

Yes, certain more habit goals you will be doing throughout all 4 quarters but others will have steps you need to take.

After you have your quarterly goals figured out, each week as you plan the next 7 days figure out exactly what steps need to happen to get you to accomplish those quarterly goals.

I know some weeks won’t got as planned (all of us moms say “amen”), so break these items down into most important, would like to, and if I have time. Then when a kid gets sick, or you have an unexpected problem that pops up, you know what to focus on.

You probably know where this is headed, but lastly there are daily goals. Each day, looking at your weekly goals write down what needs to happen. Go beyond the goals here and also include household cleaning tasks, appointments, errands etc.

Taking a few seconds each day to think over what you are grateful for also helps keep life in perspective and can change your attitude.

Have you made goals this year? Do you struggle coming up with a good plan? Some of my goal categories this year are reading, fitness, Bible reading, health, business, and of course financial goals. Hopefully I can get them accomplished!

I have these goals planner printables available in my resource library for free to my subscribers! Sign up below!

picture of the goals planner and a sticky note that says set goals

Summer Bucket List for Kids

Summer Bucket list ideas for kids! Great ideas to make memories this summer.

Have you ever considered having a summer bucket list for kids?

School is almost done, it’s getting hotter (we were up to 90 degrees this week), schedules and expectations are changing. Maybe your kids aren’t yet old enough to be in school but you still want to make summer special. There might be a big vacation planned or maybe you are saving money this year and staying home.

One way to keep things fun is to have a Summer Bucket List. Have your kids help come up with fun summer activities and narrow it down to your top 10, 20, 30 or however many you think you have time for over the next few months. Write them down on a chart and tackle some each week checking them off as they are accomplished.

Having a Summer Bucket List for kids will make the summer of a staycation more exciting or help the weeks before and after a big vacation go by quickly. The kids will love having lots of little summer activities to look forward to.

I have a 6 year old, 4 year old, and a 14 month old. The older two would love all these ideas (and even helped brainstorm) and the baby eagerly does whatever her big siblings do.

I have 31 free ideas and then a bonus 21 extra ideas that begin at just a couple dollars. If you keep scrolling to the end of the list, I have a printable list of all 52 ideas and a blank form you can use to make your own bucket list to check off this summer.

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Ideas for a Summer Bucket List for Kids:

Free

  • Splash pad
  • Make popsicles
  • Fly a kite
  • Have a water fight
  • Read a chapter book aloud
  • Local beach at the lake
  • Story time at the library
  • Other library kids events
  • Star gazing
  • Park hop to all the good parks in your town
  • At home movie night
  • Camp in the living room
  • Swimming
  • Hike/nature walk
  • Picnic
  • Cookout in the park
  • Game night
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Relay races
  • Chalk mural on the driveway
  • Make a giant sheet fort
  • Free community events (parade, touch a truck, etc)
  • Family walks
  • Vacation Bible School
  • Bike ride
  • Feed the ducks
  • Fishing
  • Service project
  • Write cards/draw pictures and mail
  • Climb a tree (this is my 6 year old’s addition to the list)
  • Home Depot workshop

Almost Free

Paid Activities

  • Buy (and play) a new outdoor game
  • Buy (and play) a new board game
  • Go to a movie
  • Concert or show
  • Zoo
  • Children’s museum
  • Bowling
  • Ice cream shop
  • Go to a baseball game
  • Mini golf
  • Dollar store shopping spree
  • Local museum/historical site
  • Amusement park
  • Water park


Here is a printable list of all of the summer activities for kids!

Here is a blank form you can use to create your own summer bucket list for kids!

What are your favorite things to do during the summer?

Great Free summer bucket list for kids printable Continue reading

Painting Trim – Low Cost House Update

Painting trim. Doesn’t sound like fun, does it? It didn’t to me. Home improvement projects are one of those areas I have no skills in and my husband and I have to learn as we go. In fact, all things decor and home styling I know nothing about. It’s one of those areas I like to use much more talented friends’ and family members’ brains for.

Painting Trim - a low cost house update that makes a HUGE difference in your home's look.

 

So, as much as I disliked the idea of painting all the woodwork in our home, after consulting with much more talented people we decided to go for it. Besides, our house has limited natural light and the original wood trim made it feel darker than it was.

Painting Trim - a low cost house update that makes a HUGE difference in your home's look.

One thing that made the decision a little easier is the fact that it’s just paint so it would be a budget friendly update. So many house updates seem to cost multiple thousands of dollars and since we just finished replacing all our windows, painting trim was a little easier on the savings account.

We are newbies when it comes to this process, but I wanted to share what we did and the products we used for painting trim to help you jump start your research.

Process for Painting Trim

Sand the woodwork.

I used a coarse sandpaper and went over all the baseboards, door frames, and windowsills.

Wipe down the baseboards.

I used a damp rag and wiped off all the wood.

Prep.

My husband happens to love taping, so he taped all the walls. I can’t stand taping and would rather just paint carefully and wipe off the wall if needed. The problem with tape is that you’ll have more touch up work to do – removing tape almost always leaves some places messed up.

We also have carpet in our home so we bought a paint shield/trim guide to put under the baseboard. You can also use it in place of tape around the walls.

Prime.

Two coats of Kilz primer. We followed the instructions on the can and let dry at least an hour between coats.

Paint.

You’ll have to decide if you are going to use an oil based or latex paint. This article goes over some of the differences. We have friends who used oil based and love it and it’s actually more durable. We went with latex simply because the drying time is way less and the fumes aren’t as strong and know that we’ll periodically have to touch up the woodwork. So if you use latex, know that you will have to touch up periodically and also buy the highest grade you can.

Going from brown wood to white trim required good paint even after we primed. After returning one kind-of paint (cheaper) and consulting with an employee at Lowe’s, we purchased Valspar Signature.  Two coats were needed in most areas. The paint required a longer drying time of 6 hours. I used the paint shield/trim guide and put the metal edge under the baseboard as best I could to make sure to coat the wood well and keep the paint off of the carpet.

Touch Up.

This is the tedious part because you are so ready to be done. At least we were. And actually, we still have touch up work to do. But after all the painting is done and tape removed (if used) it’s time to go around and touch up the places paint peeled off or got on the wall.

Painting trim. With three young children and our regular jobs it was definitely a lot of work and took longer than we wanted. However, now that it’s done, I’m so glad we did it. I even wish we did it years ago. The walls colors pop (and even look completely different in some rooms) and our home is so much brighter.

Painting Trim - a low cost house update that makes a HUGE difference in your home's look.

You might have noticed from these pictures we also updated our doors. I’ll cover that in another post and share how my husband did that project.

Do you enjoy painting? Do you have any tips to share as we move on to our next house project (most likely the bathrooms)?

Painting Trim - A low cost house update

Oatmeal Lavender Bath Tea

These Oatmeal Lavender Bath Teas are amazing! They help moisturize your skin and relax your muscles. Who knew bath time could get even better. :-)

Oatmeal, lavender, Epsom salts, and coconut oil. Yesterday I guest posted at The Humbled Homemaker on how to make an amazing DIY Oatmeal Lavender Bath Tea using those ingredients.

“Most days, by the time bedtime has arrived I’m exhausted and more than ready for the day to be over. One of the best ways to end one of those days is to use these simple DIY Oatmeal Lavender Bath Teas. 

Being a mom is exhausting (even if your kids are perfect angels). Let’s be honest, life is exhausting kids or not. Trying to balance being the best mom and wife we can while living on a limited budget of money and time isn’t easy. . .

Projects that can be done quickly are a necessity – these tea bags will be done in minutes and you can easily adjust the amounts to make a larger (or smaller) batch. If you don’t have the time to round up the ingredients or put them together, check out my Etsy shop! They are available there (along with lip balms, room sprays, and earrings).”

Check out the whole post and how to put this bath tea together over at The Humbled Homemaker!

These Oatmeal Lavender Bath Teas are amazing! They help moisturize your skin and relax your muscles. Who knew bath time could get even better. :-)

Linking up to these fun parties!