Easter Neighbor Gifts {Thoughtful Thursday}

Thoughtful Thursdays on as Jules is going

If you've been here any time at all, you know we LOVE a good excuse to do something fun for our neighbors.


This week, my kids were wanting to make "Easter baskets". I'd already been considering making something to celebrate summer for the neighbor kids around us who are almost out for break. With summer for school-aged kids still over a month away, we thought we'd try to do both mixed together.

Bucket-O-Summer contents bucket, shovel, bubbles, sunglasses, jumprope, germX, chalk


Contents we used:

from the Dollar Tree

  • bucket and shovel
  • germX {pack of 3 Christmas themed- I pulled off the winter-esk sticker}
  • jump rope
  • sunglasses

from home {originally mostly from Wal-Mart}

  • sidewalk chalk in a large box
  • little bubbles that came in a pack of 8
  • assorted Easter grass
  • See Jane Work labels {on wicked sale at Office Depot}
  • blank note cards
  • post card invites to your Church's Easter service
  • pipe cleaners and rubber bands {we used the rubber bands to told the 7 pieces of chalk together in the shape of a flower and then made lil leaves around it}

How-to Make:

  1. collect bucket and gift items
  2. add grass to the bottom making it about 1/2 full
  3. place larger items in 1st
  4. mix in smaller items {dividing like colors from one another}
  5. *we color coordinated each bucket using ~2 colors for fun
    green and pink and purple and yellow for the neighbor girls and orange/red and blue for the boy
  6. create label {print our FREE LABEL here} using Avery Label Template 5450 in Word
    Bucket-O-Summer Label
  7. color in lettering for extra fun {sharpies worked the best without smearing the print}
  8. cover original cheap sticker on the bucket that wouldn't com off with new label
  9. write a cute little note about Easter linking items in the bucket {or print our cheesy FREE NOTE here}
    Easter Bucket-o-Summer
    I wrote out the note in yellow marker in a card and let my almost 6-year-old trace it {so it would all fit in the little cards we had}
  10. throw in a postcard invite to your church's Easter service hand-deliver with smiles :D

Delivering Neighbor Gifts

Happy Easter!!!

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Double Your Juice and Prevent Cavities {Thoughtful Thursday}

I have always heard you should dilute your kids juice to reduce the amount of sugar they're getting. Even all natural 100% fruit juice has lots of natural sugar that isn't good for their diet or their teeth. Since the first time my oldest had juice, we always done 50/50 water and juice. Starting them this way has always guaranteed they didn't know the difference. When my daughter had non-diluted juice for the first time she hated it and told me it was "spicy". On the other hand, the first time my niece had our diluted juice she was concerned and told me "Uhh, Aunt Julie. You juice has lost its flavor." LOL

Not only is this healthier for them but it double the juice and saves money! I use the large jugs to fill 1/2 way with water and then, most of the time, I combine different flavor juices to fill it the rest of the way. Turn

Double Your Juice and Prevent Cavities

Having always done this as well as fed them healthy diets and assisted them in brushing their teeth daily, I took my kids' for their first dentist visit feeling pretty confident about the condition of their teeth. Boy did I leave mortified. After the dentist let me know my 1st and 3rd had an embarrassing number of cavities and my 2nd had none, I talked with the dental hygienist for a long time trying to determine what made the difference. The conclusion?

Chugger vs Sippers

Yep, I always thought it was a good thing that my 1st and 3rd would slowly sip their drink throughout the day and it drove me nuts that my 2nd would chug the beverage like it was going out of style. Now, if you already knew this, please don't leave "duh" comments. I had never been told this and maybe someone else hasn't either.

Sipping on {even diluted} juice slowly throughout the day keeps a constant film of sugar on your teeth. Chugging it allows your natural saliva to "wash" off that film even if you're not brushing after each drink.

The new rule in our house is: the kids are allowed Milk and Juice at meal time only and they can drink as much Water as they want the rest of the day from the fridge door and are allowed to get themselves in their cool new {dollar spot} water bottles.

Prevent Cavities by giving littles their own water bottles and allowing them to get their own water

I am one of those parents who still has all of her children using sippy cups/lidded cups to cut down on the clean up during the day. I found these awesome water bottles in the Target dollar spot. I took Maggie to pick one as a reward for doing so well while they filled her first cavities and then Jamin. Izzie got to choose one as a reward for having NO cavities. Then the larger ones we got for my niece, nephew for a week with us during spring break.

The great thing about these water bottles are:

  • They are simple for them to pull the lid off to fill but easy to put back on to avoid spills.
  • They can tote them anywhere.
  • If they get left in get left in the car, there isn't soured juice or spoiled milk to stink up the car.
  • If they get messed up or lost, they only cost $1 each.
Do your kids love juice? Are they chuggers or sippers?
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Where did you learn the “F” word?

repost: originally part of a post published Feb 25, 2012

Remembering that children learn about beliefs through actions means we need to pull our junk together!

Where Did You Learn The F Word

I am weary of hearing parents complain that their children are conducting themselves in sinful ways but the child is simply mimicking what they've seen {somewhere- parents, daycare, TV}. Since we are all sinners the main thing we need to teach our children is the "F" word. Yep! The word we all dread.


We all dread it. We're scared to let it fly out of our mouths in fear of having to confess we've done something wrong. "Will you forgive me?" Yes, we need to not only say this word but SHOW it to our children.

After a long day of chasing my preschooler around reminding her of boundaries she already knew, I flew of the handle and screamed at her. Yes. I did to raise my voice. I did not yell. I screamed at her to get back in her bed for the Umpteeth time after she woke both her siblings in the other room. Ya know, the my throat hurts not kind of screaming at a ball game. Did I mention I was Running down the hall at her.  And yes, running looking like a fool down the hall. My heart pounding with its irregular palpitations, making myself sweat over a silly preschoolers defiance.

NOT my finest moment. It's actually taken me over 2 months to confess this to you.

After slamming her door I sat on the ground and began to cry. What the smack is wrong with me. God quickly brought to my attention that I can't expect her to obey the 1st time if I'm not going to demonstrate to her that I am obeying my heavenly Father the 1st time. I was not showing love to her by becoming quick to anger. Ugg. I had to go in and ask for her forgiveness even though I all wanted was for her to be sitting in tears over her bad choices. I dried myself up a bit and headed in...

"Maggie, mommy needs to ask for your forgiveness. I am sorry I screamed at you. I was throwing a fit and we know that both of those are bad choices. Will you forgive me?"

"Yes mamma!" No hesitation. No questioning how quickly I would jump back to this sinful behavior. Just, "Yes". I hugged my baby for a long time with more tears.

As I headed into the other room to quiet the other two children and comfort them back to sleep I see Maggie's door open.

"ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!" I thought. "This is ridiculous. Doesn't she know how hard it was for me to ask for her forgiveness and now she's going to get out of bed Again!?!" I shushed her and tried to wave her back into her room before she disturbed her sibling yet again and she began to stomp her feet before throwing herself onto the ground and sob.

I quickly put the baby back in his crib and rushed out of the room attempting to muffle the fit in the hall. I snatched her up, wrestling all the anger building up within me. Heart racing. Teeth gritted. Trying my hardest not to 'raise my voice' again- "Maggie, What Is the Deal? You are Supposed to be IN your bed!"

"But mamma, I needed to ask you to forgive me."I squeezed her harder than I ever have. "Mamma, I'm sorry for getting out of my bed and making bad choices. Will you forgive me?"


What are we showing our children. Are we 'practicing what we preach'? I am challenged to evaluate my behavior based on if Christ would want me training my child in the way I'm living.

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You Have the Battle Plan

I've been waiting for it since we had our 1st child and she began to talk. Waiting to see what my little mocking-bird was picking up from us. 'Us' being those she hangs out with most often: parents, grandparents, friends and teachers at church, cousins. It's interesting...if you really want to see what your child see's, just listen.

Those little sponges have what I like to call "mirror syndrome".

Children's personality will be a different as snowflakes even within the same family. I knew this was the case and prepared myself for our second child, Izzie to be opposite of our 1st child, Maggie. Sure enough- night and day. Yet, I was some how still shocked at how my 3rd child could be so different from BOTH Maggie and Izzie. I knew their could be 2 different personalities, ya know, "She's just like her father." "She's just like her mother." When Jamin came and he didn't seem to lean more toward either of the personalities of his big sisters I was nothing less than amazed at God's handy work. Children are born with unique personalities but a lot of who they will turn out to be depends on those who raise them. This is why it's so important to guard who the spend the majority of their time with. Yep, the old nature vs nurture. ScArY...

Just to clarify- we are ALL born sinners. Yep, there are no innate good kids we like to call angels. Sadly, when you gaze down at that adorable sleeping infant in your arms is an innate bad kid with a dark evil heart. They are just months {if not less} away from performing their very 1st, undeniable, visible to anyone, guilt-ridden SIN.

As parents, God's given us the task of training our children, starting with their hearts. Most people in general have an ideal model of behavior they'd like others to display. Even among the pagan world, there are ethics. Every behavior is rooted in a belief. Children may have innate personalities but belief systems are formed by those who are raising them {ie: those they are around the majority of the waking hours}. They are forming foundational beliefs in every situation, and I do mean EVERY situation not just the sit them down and teach them something specific. They are actually observers. Children learn to do things {eat, smile, roll over, cry, crawl, laugh, walk} before they learn the words for them so it will come as no surprise that children learn more about beliefs through actions they see than words they are told.

For the Christian home, our ideal model needs to be biblical. If it's not in the Bible then maybe it's not worth the fight or stress {ie: what color clothes to wear} but the black and white in the Bible are obviously well worth the fight/stress. "Pick your battles" by using scripture as your battle plan.


Read The Battle of "the F word" HERE.

originally part of a post published Feb 25, 2012
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This Season of Worship

I was nervous going in. I mean, I was the only crazy bringing in 6 kids ranging from 3.5 months all the way to 10-years-old.

THIS season of worship will be full of your child learning true worship on her mother's lap.

I'd prepped everyone. Laid out clothes. Brushed hair. Pouted when the matching clothes wear changed out of because they had food on them and replaced with a terrible combination of yuck. I wanted to feel like we weren't falling apart before we even arrived. We mingled the few minutes before finding a row large enough to seat us all but then decided it was possibly a better idea to divide if I was gonna conquer this. Even with my hubs planning to assist, I knew this night would be a test of the harder exam coming in two days. The music began. I counted heads. Took a deep breath and released it slowly. We began to sing. With the baby in a car seat next to me trying to drift into dreamland for a short evening nap, one little sitting with her daddy behind me, one big in front of me, one gently dancing loops around the pole in the aisle, and the boys filed in to the row with me trying to figure out what they were supposed to be doing, I felt scattered. I thought through lyrics and really did mean them as I sang them, broken, between whispers of explanation to those boys. I tried to focus on the words as they poured out of my mouth but then my dancer would get a little wild drawing attention away from the one we were singing praises to. I tried not to worry that my hubs needed me to take his little thinking he may need to be doing something else. Comforting the big in front of me, letting her know that the rhythm may be foreign but the heart is the same. Singing worship to my God while pulling a blanket to cover that baby to deter her from watching those around us. A community worship night is just what the community needed and possibly exactly what I needed. What I needed to be reminded of what true worship looks like in this season of life. This kind of worship was illogical. Attempting to train appropriate behavior in specific environments to my lots of littles takes so much effort, thought, and action. As they shuffled from row to row with reminders of volume and discreetness as to not distract those worshiping our Jesus, I had two options:

  • cry out of pure frustration at my lack-of-ability to worship in the same manner as everyone and feel cheated
  • OR I smile.

I chose to smile. Smile through the crazy. Smile through aching back because it meant I was blessed to be holding a giant, heavy child. Smile because as I held her and sang I could pause and ask, "Do you know who the 'you' is we are singing about?" I could gently answer, "What's a palm?" only to have the privilege to watch her eyes light up as I showed her and then explained how tight God holds us. This season of worship doesn't always look like the emotional high that comes with the brochure picture of hands raised in complete release. Some times it looks like a lap full of loving correction. It may not include a public bend knees in surrender but only a single knelt knee to spark the love of our savior. This season doesn't always allow for energy to shout praise. THIS season of worship will likely be full of your child learning true worship on her mother's lap. Sunday is coming. A celebration of a year in the books for The Valley. A celebration of those who have come to Christ and are following through with baptism. A celebration of the great God has done in this season. I will worship in this season. I won't pout about it, begrudge those not here, or wish it away. THIS season of worship is vital to their next season of worship. THIS season isn't about me and how I want to give praise. It's about guiding my children through meaningful utterances to our maker. It's about showing them God's peace amidst the chaos. It's about sorting through their confusion of new spaces. Worship is a lifestyle but corporate worship times are a time for showing my littles the wide array worship is given: posture, emotion, actions. They will learning how to give their gifts as offerings to thank the one who sewed those into them. They will learn their form may look different from those around them and thus proving the vastness of God's creativity. In this season of worship, the days are long but the years are short. I will wait with expectancy to see how my littles will begin to worship my their Creator.

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