nothing stays the same

Parenting advice can be annoying, right? But one thing I’m never afraid to share with new moms (and remind myself about) is this:

Just when you get comfortable with a rhythm, routine, stage or phase, something changes.

(The same goes for rhythms, routines, stages, or phases you’re uncomfortable in, too, They usually don’t last forever.)

Some regions have a similar mantra for the weather: If you don’t like the weather here, just wait five minutes. 

The weather is much more steady here where I live. It generally ranges from 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, all year long. Parenthood, on the other hand, sometimes feels like an ongoing series of transitions, and those steady plateaus in-between often feel too short for comfort.

I’m in one of those transitions right now. I had recently been extolling the glories of afternoon quiet time to some friends of mine. Summer had been great, an even more productive time for me than normal for writing and blogging stuff. We would play all morning and then after lunch the kids would each go in their separate rooms (Gigi in mine) for naps or Quiet Play Time. I would have a couple of (mostly) blissful hours to myself to do things like eat a complete meal in peace, surf Instagram, read a few chapters, or do some writing.

Then. We finally took Hallee’s paci away last week (cue music of doom: duh-duh-duh).

Let’s just say on the first day, after a pretty good night (surprisingly) when Daddy made the The Call, I texted him with the desperate, and dramatic, words: You killed naptime. 

I knew it was time. I wasn’t blaming him per se. But seriously, my afternoons as I knew them, seemed OVER.

We’ve had lots of crying. Poor Hallee is hoarse (I think she and Gigi are naturally prone to a raspy voice, especially during bouts of lots o’ crying). And I’m praying her through this, and trying to focus on the nice, cuddly moments, instead of on the throwing-board-books-at-the-door moments.

psalm 27

It’s been a week now. We’re still in transition. But things are improving. I may or may not have bribed my kids to have a good quiet time today. Desperate measures, I’m telling ya. Because my kids are different people when they get the rest they need. And today we needed a restful reset.

(I keep telling myself that if I had to suddenly alter the way I’d slept for my whole life, it would be a bit of a shock. That helps me be more compassionate and have more grace with her.)

So here we are, coping with the new normal. Which will, naturally, change again soon I’m sure… probably in the next few weeks when we go camping and road-tripping, or in a month or so when school starts.

Of course, we all know how fleeting childhood is, so none of this is really surprising to me. It’s just another one of those reminders to take a deep breath and remember it’s just a season, which, in turn, reminds me that the sweet, beautiful moments are fleeting as well.

So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
~Robert Frost


3 little apps making me happy

Today’s edition of 3 Little Things features a few favorite new apps I’ve downloaded to my phone. These are all great for simplifying and streamlining various aspects of life. {Playing along with Amy of MomAdvice again!}


I’ve barely scratched the surface of this one– it stands for “If This Then That”– and basically, you use and create “recipes” where your phone does something for you after you do something. I’m using the recipe where whenever I post a photo on Instagram, IFTTT tweets that photo as a full photo that will show up in my Twitter feed instead of just posting an Instagram link.

A really neat recipe I spotted in their is one where when you drive by a certain point, it will text someone. The app calls that one “text my wife when I leave work.” If I’m doing a bad job explaining this app, just download it (it’s free) and you’ll figure it out. ;)

2. ZipList 

A friend recently told me about this and I’m super excited about it. I’m using the web browser version to create my grocery list, both from my own mind, and from recipes– I can open a recipe I find on Pinterest for example with the Chrome extension (they also have buttons you can install in other browsers), and then it will import the ingredients and then I can select which items on it to add to my list.

I can save recipes in there, and, it also shows me what items are on sale at stores nearby (I inputed what my favorite stores to shop at are). Once I create my list, I just login on my phone app and there it will be! You can also print the list out, which might be helpful when I have a really long list. Membership/app are free, although there are ads to navigate around.

3. SheReadsTruth

This is a new free Bible app put out by the ladies at SheReadsTruth. I’m really excited about it because it has their plans built in (some plans are free, some aren’t), and it has a community aspect, where women can comment on the plans. The interface is simple (and beautiful) and it’s easy to share verses/passages.

What apps have you discovered lately?


I took these on the 10th, but am just finally getting them posted. It was a great day to document the beauty in the ordinary– a simple morning at home with my younger two (Gigi was my parents’ house), a quiet afternoon, and then our church beach night (one of our favorite weekly summer traditions), with the bonus of some wonderful time spent with a blogging-friend-turned-real-life-friend and her sweet family.

10 on 10 July 2014-1 10 on 10 July 2014-2 10 on 10 July 2014-3 10 on 10 July 2014-4 10 on 10 July 2014-5 10 on 10 July 2014-6 10 on 10 July 2014-7 10 on 10 July 2014-8 10 on 10 July 2014-9 10 on 10 July 2014-10
ten on ten button


summer reading challenge-1

We’re about a month into summer, and since school got out, boy has reading clicked on a deeper level for Gigi.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that right around the end of the school year we found out Gigi was farsighted, and needed glasses. She’s been reading and writing fine, but all this time she actually had a hard time seeing up close.

So maybe it’s the glasses that helped her really dive into reading chapter books, or maybe it was also the challenge I presented her with as summer began.

(We’re still using our summer learning plan as a guide but we’re not totally adhering to it every day.)

At the end of first grade, Gigi was able to read chapter books but also a little lazy and unfocused with them. Giving her a specific challenge helped her have some motivation to start a book… and finish it. Now, she’s been devouring books– staying up late to finish with a flashlight and reading in the car.

She’s been so excited to start new books that she has still had a hard time sticking to one at a time (where on earth could she get that from??). I keep telling her that when she’s older like me, she can read lots of books at once. But I’m trying to encourage her to stick to one at a time to help her comprehension.

I still have to remind her to actually pick up a book and read because she’s easily distracted (by Legos, her desire to play with friends, etc), but she’s not longer putting up a fight most of the time.

summer reading challenge-2

The challenge

I told Gigi if she read fifteen chapter books, she would earn a $15 gift card to Barnes and Noble. Lucky for her, her two grandmas said they would each match that. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me!

summer reading challenge 2014

I’m now certain that she will surpass my challenge, no problem (and I’m excited to see how many books she ends up finishing this summer). I originally planned to print out and hang up the list, but I think she enjoys going on my computer to type the books into the Word document as much as she enjoys finishing a book. ;)

Finding books at the right reading level

Since Gigi is mostly homeschooled, I didn’t have an exact reading level given by the school to go off. I emailed her reading teacher from the learning center and got a few recommendations based on what they had read in class. The first books she was interested in reading on her own were the American Girl books, so I did a little research and found that they were about a 5th grade reading level.

From there, I researched other books that were about the same reading level, but were a subject matter that a 2nd-grade girl would be interested in. The trick I’m learning, from other moms of advanced readers, is that sometimes it’s hard to match reading level with content appropriateness. We’re not really there yet but that’s something I want to be aware of– so that I don’t end up with her reading Flowers in the Attic in 5th grade like I did (seriously? That’s supposed to be an appropriate kids’ book??).

And I’m trying to steer her towards more classics than fluff (like those rainbow fairy books she always gravitates toward at the library– those are off-limits for now, until she’s ingested some of the good stuff).

great chapter books for grades 2-5

Here are the books I ended up setting up as valid for the challenge. I’m sure there are lots more great ones to add to this list (I’d love to hear ‘em if you have ‘em!).

I’m so proud of what she’s already accomplished. The more I get to know how God made Gigi, the more I see that likes to rise to a challenge… and she also loves earning rewards.

How do you encourage summer reading? What books would you add to my list?

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July Goals

by gidget on July 2, 2014

in life in general

beach camp

So June wizzed past me. Several family birthdays, lots of family members and friends hit with a tummy bug, an anniversary, a beach camp (pictured above), June gloom, beach nights, and more. I kept meaning to sit down and post my goals with grace but never got to it. Let’s just say I worked on May’s goals for an extra month. ;)

1. Finish reading 2 books. I loved reading these last two months. See what I’ve been up to over on GoodReads.

2. Finish my 2013 photo book so I can get it printed. This is a BIG project– I have culled through thousands to get it down to 1500 photos. Ugh. Didn’t even touch this project.

3. Get my eBook for sale both on my site and on Amazon. Yes! Made my first sales, too- so thankful.

4. Keep working on my Good Habits- get a string of 7 in a row for each item (reviewing memory verses, reading to kids, flossing). In classic ENFP/lazy person fashion I got bored with this app and deleted it after ignoring it for several weeks. Still working on those habits, but without the reminders.

5. Fix/sew 3 things in my (crazy, outta control) mending pile. Nope. I made a baby shower gift last month, but that’s it. :(

july 2014 goals

But now it’s July and I’m ready to get real with goal-setting again.

It’s summer so I’m keeping things simple.

1. Start my next eBook (!!), which will be very different from my first.

2. Do something with all those photos I take. Work on the 2013 book or figure out another system. But seriously, I have to do something.

3. Get caught up & backed up on 2014′s photos.

4. Go surfing!


What are you hoping to accomplish this month?

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alice waters on education


Sometimes raising a child can seem so complicated.

There are different styles, and priorities, and methods, and… sometimes it’s nice to just stop and take a simpler look.

When we look at life skills we want our kids to learn by the time they leave the house, I think this quote by Alice Waters really sums things up pretty succinctly: “Teaching kids how to feed themselves and how to live in a community responsibly is the center of an education.”

Even Jesus lived out these two priorities; just look John 6: 1-15 when He feeds the five thousand. Feeding Himself (and His disciples) and serving (and feeding) the community are at the center of this story.

kids in the kitchen

If we can give our kids the skills to feed themselves, and instill in them a sense of community, then they will be generously equipped to serve and love others as they live out their lives. 

I have to remind myself of the value of these moments when I’m in the kitchen and my littlest one drags in a chair, as she always does. It’s easy to get caught up in the tasks, and shoo her away, but then what am I teaching her?

Welcoming my kids into my cramped, cluttered kitchen so they can observe, learn and soak in the skills and the kitchen culture is one of the best ways I can prepare them for the rest of their lives.

And letting them help me feed others– whether it’s cookies for the local firefighters, a meal for a new mom, or friends joining us for dinner– is one of our family’s favorite way to live out this education.

What are ways that you teach your kids to be able to “feed themselves” and “live in a community responsibility?’”


keeping creativity and learning fresh

“Frequency makes starting easier. Getting started is always a challenge. It’s hard to start a project from scratch, and it’s also hard each time you re-enter a project after a break. By working every day, you keep your momentum going. You never have time to feel detached from the process.” ~Gretchen Rubin

The essay by Gretchen Rubin in Manage Your Day-to-Day, Harnessing the Power of Frequency, was a little beacon of truth for me. In it, I was encouraged to really try to do something creative or writing-related every day to keep my momentum going.

I often come to place, after days off due to scheduling, getting sick, or traveling, where I feel so overwhelmed with the things I want to do, that I am paralyzed and unable to start. And this from someone who’s naturally a good starter (and less of a finisher).

what I do every day matters more

I was sensing this about myself, and then upon reading Gretchen’s essay, I was convinced. The wonderful thing about summer for me is that our laid-back days seem to provide me more time to work than I had during the school year. So I’m trying to be intentional about creating more than consuming (although I’m reading a ton, too, so maybe it’s just less online consumption).

Here are the main ways frequency helps us, according to Gretchen Rubin:

  • keeps ideas fresh
  • keeps the pressure off
  • sparks creativity
  • nurtures frequency
  • fosters productivity
  • is a realistic approach

I can’t recommend this book enough for practical ways to be more intentional with our creative work, and really, so many aspects of our lives… even educating our children!

gigi making fake money

I distinctly remember that when Gigi started first grade last year, she had definitely lost some of what she had learned in kindergarten, simply due to “summer atrophy.”

So this year I determined that I wasn’t going to let learning slide as much over our summer break. I knew if she did a little each day it also would make the transition into fall easier, too.

I’ve only had a school-age kid for two years now, so I’m new to all this, but it turns out this is a pretty common practice. My friend Tsh calls what they do over the summer “homeschool light,” and I know my friend Jessica is “doing school” somewhat this summer, too.

I actually first saw this in action with a friend whose kids (older than mine) go to public school. She’s always had them do some kind of light homeschool work during the summer to keep things fresh.

I already shared our summer rhythm with you. Well, here’s what our {flexible} weekly schedule for learning looks like. We’re also hoping to add in some math, with dad, or on the computer, this summer. Some days we simply don’t get to this, but when we do, I don’t have to rack my brain for something- it’s already laid out for us.

Summer learning schedule

She’s reading a ton (more on the challenge I created for her soon), and I might get her going with some writing eventually, with Tsh’s summer writing guide.

Summer’s all about fun, right? I didn’t want Gigi’s learning activities to be a drag, so I created a little reward system for her. Some days I might give her an extra media ticket for doing her lesson/learning activity without complaining. But she also learns a “smart star” every day she completes that assignment.

smart stars for summer learning sessions

When she reaches twenty stars, she’ll earn a reward — this time we decided on getting a “professional manicure” (her term) with mom– something we’ve never done.


As for me, I’m thinking some kind of schedule or rhythm would help me with my creative pursuits as well this summer. Maybe I work on blog posts one day and bigger writing projects another day?

Right now I’m sort of writing and blogging and social-media-ing on the fly. And it’s working, because our days our more relaxed as it is, but I want to make the most of my productivity, so I’m definitely going to fiddle with this.

I’d love to hear from you. How do you keep learning and creativity– both yours and your kids’– fresh over the summer?


sewing school 101 blog tour

Over the next few weeks, a few of my blogging friends and I are going to be sharing some thoughts about my eBook, Sewing School 101: Simple Tips to Get You Stitching. I’m thankful for these ladies stepping in to tell their readers about my book and spread the word.

If you’d like to read what they have to say about– and also enter to win a copy of it from each of them– you can follow along with our little tour (I’ll update this schedule as needed if things change).


Sewing School 101: on tour

Tuesday, June 24 :: Jess @ If Only They Would Nap

Wednesday, June 25 :: Christen @

Thursday, June 26 :: Megan @ SortaCrunchy

Friday, June 27 :: Me @ The Art of Simple

Thursday, July 3 :: Stacy @ A Delightful Home

Friday, July 4 :: Breanne @ This Vintage Moment

Tuesday, July 8 :: Haley (& Daniel) @ Carrots for Michaelmas

Thursday, July 10 :: Rachel @ Mason Jar Values

If you haven’t gotten a copy of my book yet, you can read all the details on this page, and be on your way to sewing your way to some beautiful creations in no time.


what I'm reading in early summer

Normally I share a few things making me happy on Fridays. Today as I thought what my list would look like, I kept going back to books. Naturally my list would have more than three items on it, since I rarely read just one– or even three– books at one time.

So I’m taking a break to join my friend Anne, at Modern Mrs. Darcy, in her monthly Twitterature meme. What’s Twitterature? Simple. It’s just a post of short, tweet-like book reviews of around 140 characters.


So here’s what my summer reading is looking like so far.


Confessions of a Shopaholic

by Sophie Kinsella

A fun summer read with a clever plot and lots of British vocabulary, this is classic chick lit with a very flawed yet endearing protagonist.



by Jane Austen

I remembered little about it and thoroughly enjoyed this Austen novel. It moved quicker than I expected and featured an heroine I really liked.


It Won’t be Yoga

by Melissa Camara Wilkins

Motherhood at its finest: a mom of five tries in-home yoga alongside her kiddos and describes the mayhem that ensues. Written by a real-life blog friend.


Baby Steps

by Mara Altman

A funny– if crude & crass– memoir of one woman’s quest: to enter motherhood or not. My main draw to this was that a high school friend wrote it. Coming from a very different worldview than my own, it was thought-provoking and entertaining.




by Jane Austen

The first Austen novel I ever read is even better than I remembered, especially after I’ve been so enjoying Emma Approved. Join us in the book club as we read this one.


Shopaholic Takes Manhattan

by Sophie Kinsella

The humor and cleverness continues, but I can only take so much shopping. Becky Bloomwood is wearing on me so this will probably be the last I read in this series.


Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

edited by Jocelyn K. Glei

Meeting me right where I’m at in my search to embrace, refine and better direct my own creativity. I’m loving this one, and I’ll be sharing more about it.


The Discipline of Grace: God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness

by Jerry Bridges

Teaching me lots about grace, the gospel, and the pursuit of holiness, this is my go-to book to start the day with, and I’m learning a lot. Looking forward to discussing it with my small group this summer.


Coming up:

I recently checked out Mindy Kaling’s book and Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water, and I just got notification that my digital copy of JoJo Moyes’ Me Before You is ready, so those are next on my list to crack.

What are you reading these days? I don’t need any more books on my to-read list… but I can’t stop adding them. ;)

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loving the sun in 2008

My very first foray into natural living came about almost six years ago when I made a discovery about sunscreen. Those “trusted” brands that claimed to be “pediatrician recommended” were actually chock full of chemical ingredients that were quite dangerous.

I had slathered up my baby Gigi, starting when she was six months old, without realizing I was exposing her to ingredients that could do a lot more damage in the long run than just a little sunburn could do. (That’s us pictured above in May of 2008).

I soon found that there were ways to choose safer products, and I’ve since used several products that I really like (my most recent favorite is The Honest Company’s sunscreen).

The only problem with those products? The cost. You get what you pay for, right? Natural, safer sunscreen is darn expensive. It’s one of the areas where I’ve been willing to splurge though.

how to make homemade sunscreen

Until now! I’ve thought about it for a while, and finally decided that this was the year I would try my hand at a homemade sunscreen.

Armed with my copy of My Buttered Life: Summer Edition, I bought the ingredients I needed from my trusted source, MadeOn Hard Lotion. I’ve worked with Renee quite a bit over the years through blogging, and I love her hard lotion bars– I knew her store would be a reputable place to buy the ingredients I needed.

Gigi and I whipped this homemade sunscreen up in about a half hour.

Homemade Sunscreen – the recipe

easy homemade sunscreen

I made a double batch of what’s below, and it filled the jars you see photographed here.


Measurements & weights are given.

  • beeswax (pellets or pastilles are best): just under 1/8 cup (1/2 oz)
  • shea butter: 1/4 cup (2 oz)
  • coconut oil: 1/4 cup (2 oz)
  • non-nano zinc oxide powder: 2 tbsp. (1 0z)
  • optional: drizzle of apricot kernel oil (This is to help the lotion be a little softer, use up to 2 tbs if you’re sunscreen will normally be in >80-degree temperature. Grapeseed and olive oil work, too.)

These items can be bought together in a kit, or separately, if you already have some of them at home. Scroll down to enter to win enough to make a double batch of sunscreen!

how to make homemade sunscreen

How to make it: 

1. Measure out all the ingredients into a flat-bottomed quart mason jar.

2. Melt in a double boiler (I just used a little rack inside a pot).

3. Blend with an immersion blender until all blended (especially making sure the zinc oxide powder is blended). When you’re done, be sure to clean your blender well, while it’s still hot!

4. Pour into glass jar(s). The sunscreen will solidify as it cools.

homemade sunscreen-2

More tips and FAQs, and other summer-y recipes, can be found in the My Buttered Life: Summer Edition.


So far we really like this sunscreen. We’ve been using it consistently this summer, and as long as it is applied regularly it works great for us (we are not super fair, although my husband normally burns easily). I’m prone to cold sores when I spend a lot of time in the hot sun, so I use this on my lips, too.

It can be a little hard to rub in; I find that if my skin is dry it’s harder, so that’s one reason for me to remember to moisturize. :) Most zinc-based sunscreens leave you a little ghostly, so I don’t mind.

Cost: Renee estimates that this costs $4.25 for 5 oz, which is way cheaper than the store-bought natural sunscreens.


Renee sells a DIY lotion/lip balm kit that when purchased with 2 zinc oxide orders will make 2 batches (or one double batch) of sunscreen. It comes with the eBook of recipes as well.

Today she is generously giving away 1 DIY Kit + 2 zinc oxides to a lucky winner! Simply enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Giveaway has now ended. Thank you for entering!

If you’re ready to shop now, you can use the code GGH10 at checkout for 10% your order at MadeOn Hard Lotion (valid until June 30, 2014).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was not paid to do this review. I bought my supplies and loved the process so much that I wanted to share it with you! This does post contains affiliate links though. Than you for support!