Finding Work-Ethic & Generosity

One of the first "big" movies my kids fell in love with was Finding Nemo. It was actually the first movie we took our girls to at the theater; when it came "back to the big screen" for a brief time.

Find Nemo {2012}

It was a no-brainer when they finally announced they were coming out with Finding Dory, our family would be budgeting to go for our summer movie! We told our kids when we found out that we were planning to take them. We even mentioned on occasion that we were budgeting or saving to take the entire family to the theater. I tell you all that so you understand my shock when my munchkins announce one morning, "We're making a band. We are gonna play for our friends and raise money."

That wasn't the surprise to me, they often discuss "selling" bracelets or snacks they've made or shows they want to perform. I was kind of proud because I've had to explain myself to them before. When I began buying furniture, refinishing it, and selling it for a profit they seemed to think I was stingy by asking for money rather than giving it away. I want my kids to be beyond generous, always be on the look out for ways to "share" what God has blessed us with. At the same time, I also want them to understand work-ethic. I want them to be hard-working adults. I want them to appreciate the hard work of others when paying for goods and services.

Finding Work Ethic & Generosity

Then I ask what they were raising money for... "Finding Dory movie tickets!" I held my tongue. I didn't remind them of our promise to take them. I let them continue in their giddiness about the creative gifts they wanted to use to joyfully earn money.

Soooo, back to the band thing. My kids dressed up in random, crazy clothes, asked me to draw on their faces, played pretend instruments all the while a CD player is off to the side blaring Seed Family Worship music. Silly kids! They practiced this lil bit in doors for a few songs and then took it on the road. Well, on our driveway near the side of the road to be exact. With an extension cord for CD player, make-shift {preschool chair and pillows} drum set, broom guitar, and plastic mic, my kids rocked their current favorite song, Do Not Be Anxious. Maggie acted as the manager, helping plan, setting up, and even taking pictures and advertising. Knowing very few people trek down our street in the middle of the day, I decided to at least share about their efforts by using the new "Live" Facebook feature. To my surprise, they got 700+ views, 70+ likes, 10+ comments, and 3 shares. Not only did our sweet neighbor come out but a friend in town came by to listen to and *support them. LOL

After such a fast response to their efforts, they decided this "earning money" stuff was quite enjoyable. The next day they wanted to have "some kind of lemonade stand." Since we only had grape kool-aid, we decided that would have to work. I was also cutting them watermelon for snack so I decided to help by balling up the rest of the watermelon for them to sell. Thinking we may need a bit more traffic, we head to The stop light in town to set up shop with our quickly grabbed supplies: end table, trays of watermelon balls in cups, empty plastic cups, drink dispenser of kool-aid, and homemade 1/2 sheets of poster-board signs.

Between their collaborative efforts and a total of maybe 2 hours, my kids raised ~$35. {crazy eyed shock} But it didn't stop there. Amazing friends who weren't able to come to the kids' "concert" or "lemonade stand" Sent. Money. WHAT!? My sis-in-law, my MIL hair dresser, a former neighbor, and a blogger friend of mine. God blessed their efforts in an incredible way.

When I realized they had beyond earned enough money for our entire family to go to the movies {especially if we did the planned matinee}, I sat the down to talk about how cool all of this was. After several conversations about God's goodness and generosity toward us, we tossed around a lot of ideas about what do do with the left over money. We all decided that our youngest siblings wouldn't handle the movie theater very well, we would still have TONS left over, and wanted foster kids, who might not otherwise have the chance to GO to the movies, to have the chance by sharing what God had blessed us with.

I'm so thankful that God is allowing me to see this kind of fruit in my kids. It MORE than makes up for the tough days and all the times I fail at this parenting thing. It really is true; the days are long but the years are short. I love that I get to be home with them, soaking up all of it, investing when I can, and always growing more myself.

Finding Dory {2016}

Finding Dory review coming soon: ie Tomorrow!
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Why I Make My Kids ASK Me For Things

You know that thing where your kids mingle with other kids making you acutely aware of a random parenting strategy you're sold-out to and didn't even know it before the particular encounter!? Yeah, that. All the time. x10 with foster friends coming and going.

Why I Make My Kids ASK Me For Things

One that came to my attention recently was the fact that, early on, I make my kids ask for things politely. Like not just "please" added to the end of a statement but an officially-in-the-form-of-a-question ask me. We have met several children that will come to me with random statements and walk away totally confused at why they didn't get what they wanted. This particular strategy started because I didn't want my kids barking orders at me and/or assuming I could read their minds in order to fix their stated issues.

Example 1:

"I'm hungry." OR This or thirst are the Most common I hear. Am I the only one frustrated by this? Holy cow, just tell me what you want already. I've learned most of the time, they make this statement because they know the answer already- "It's not meal time yet", "____ is what's for snack", "Your water bottle is right there." Be best is when I say, "Can you ask me politly" and they say, "...I'm thirsty....please?" False.

Example 2:

"I'm bored." To which I usually respond, "Only boring people get bored...are you boring?" This usually solves it but occasionally they'll come up with something they'd like me to do in order for them to 'fix' their boredom.


Then it progressed to not wanted to play ref all day. I needed them to be able manage some of this on their own. I wanted them to understand norms {not "fair"} in our world and be able to deal.

Example 3: 

"They won't give me [insert random toy]." My job as a parent is not to police the usage of your toys. No I will not set a timer. No, I'm not going to make him 'be done' with it just because you walked in and wanted it. Thanks to Daniel Tiger, I can often sing my response, "FIND A WAY TO PLAY...TOGETHER!" 😉

Example 4:

"MO-om! ___ called me [insert childish name-calling]" Ugg, I failed AS I'm writing this with a response like "Tell ____ to change their attitude and words or they'll be going to timeout". Boo I'm wishing I'd said, "Are we supposed to talk to each other that way? [no] How would you like me to help with that?" To which they would ideally say, "Can you talk to ____ about how they're talking to me mean?"

Example 5:

"She won't do her part of the job." THIS one is the most rare but the hardest to not get involved in based on the statement presented. It never fails that in a 'group chore' someone doesn't pull their weight or there are too many bosses with ideas of their own. Once a request for my assistance is made, I try to talk to both sides reminding them that "sometimes people don't do their share and the job still has to get done" and "laziness is not an option in our family," "find a way to work together."


How I've began to eliminating these problem statements from my children's vocabulary: [insert awesome 90s Spice Girls' music] "Tell me what you want, what you really really want." Kidding, kinda not kidding.

"Please think about what how you would like me to help you solve that problem. When you have decided, ask me for something, to do something, to help you somehow."

After most of my acute-parental-awareness moments, I start thinking if it really matters. Does this parenting strategy not only make my life easier in some way but does it actually benefit my children long-term. I believe making kids ask me for things benefits them in the following ways.

Thinking Skills

Making my children stop and THINK rather than just "stating their problem" to me makes them learn to stop, think, and then act. This is a key skill in life that so many individuals don't have or need to build. If more people would stop and think about something BEFORE acting/saying, the world would have a lot less issues.

Identify Needs

When kids stop to think they are forced to identify their own needs. Most of the time, they've already stated what they perceive as their problem but in that moment of pause, they can then ID what they need/want in the situation. If they pause long enough, they could even decide if what they are complaining about is based on a Need or a Want.

Problem Solving Skills

When my kids stop, think, and then act, they will learn to problem solve on their own. In life, their will not be [nor should there be] a 'mamma' on speed dial or worse, standing next to them to help problem solve. My kids need to be able to identify their needs, and come up with a solution on their own.

Social Skills

Understanding how to present a well-thought-out problem, with everyone's needs in consideration, to someone my kids see as a resource for help requires a lot of social skills. Without being able to navigate society properly, our kids will either be constantly under our wing or failing about drowning.


Learning to work through the above skills on their own will train my kids to be healthy independent people. I'm not talking about little kids who just happen to care for themselves out of neglect or kids who roam alone because they're considered 'old enough'. I mean, I will feel confident in my kids ability to navigate tough stuff on their own if they can do these things.


Manors are the icing on the cake! Although many individuals can function in society without them, I believe it will not only benefit my kids, socially advancing them, but manors are also another way to show love/respect to others; putting others before ourselves.


Don't get me wrong, it takes a lot of reiteration. I'm better at reminding them for the simple things but I often find myself in the middle of their kid drama before I realize it. For some kids, it will take much longer and more detailed explanations the first few times. For most of my kids I can simply say, "can you make that a question" or "how would you like my help with that?"

Do you think there are benefits to making your kids "ask" for things or am off in left field here?

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DIY Built-In Bookshelf and Desk {Thoughtful Thursday}

Originally, I just wanted something in this awkward corner of my living room. It's the only thing in the room that causes it not to be completely square. This little joint out is created by the master closet and it's kinds fun, adding a little character to the room. Every week when our small group would come to our house, it bothered several friends. "What are you gonna put on that wall?" Ya know, since the rest of the room was covered in pictures and such.

Thoughtful Thursday

Here was my attempt to decorate this space. A cute dresser friends gave me and I painted, my awesome clock I'd been ogling and my hubs got me fr Christmas, and some other random decor items I had around the house. It worked for a while but seemed so minimalism compared to the height of the room and the scale of everything else in the room.  

I always loved the built-in shelves I've seen on Pinterest. But this wall is 12' tall and about 5' wide. I wasn't sure my hubs would be up for such a *big* change. I proposed the idea and when he didn't totally hate the idea, I sketched out what I was thinking and showed him several image ideas on Pinterest. 

At the end of the summer last year, I suggested maybe it could be my birthday present. He agreed 😀

A friend of ours visited from out of town and agreed to help Matt build my monstrosity over the weekend he was staying with us. Eek

There were a couple things that came up throwing a wrench in my plans but we worked around them. The main one was the carpet. We have hardwoods in our living room but the former owner chose to put carpet down with with a tack strip and a one foot of hardwoods showing around the entire room. We had never taken up carpet and discovered the take strip was installed with huge nails leaving big holes in the floor. We weren't ready to deal with holes in the floor every few inches so we chose to build the shelve up to the height of the baseboard. We added [mostly decorative] feet to the front of the shelf that we had intended to use on the bottom of the girls' dresser

In my mind I worked from the top shelves down. I knew I wanted bookshelves up top. Then I wanted a desk-like space for our printer and working on homeschool or other stuff. Below that, I wanted plenty of space to store paper, our laminater, and larger items like completed scrapbooks. Just recently, I caved and bought a cardboard paper divider to keep them sorted and from getting all torn up in a basket. Ideally, I wanted a wooden divider but I was never going to pay for one. After lots of finagling, the cardboard one fit perfect and does a perfect job. 

Yes, I chose to sort our books by color. Most of these books are on the same or very similar topics and have already been read or are only used for reference. Plus, I like color and makes the shelves more decorative since I ended up with more books to fill it than first expected and less room for other cutesy things. 

built in book shelf desk paper divider

A year later, having never posted the original post, I'm still loving this built-in. It adds a decorative aspect to this otherwise odd corner of the living room, stores all our book that would be in the attic if not here, makes them easy to read and or lend, makes printing, laminating, and working on things in general so much more practical.

Recently, I gave up on finding an affordable wooden paper divider the size I wanted and went ahead and bought a cardboard one from Target. With 15 slots, it has enough space for the kids construction paper as well as my printer paper, card-stock, and laminate sheets.

I am a huge fan of when norms are thrown to the wind, thinking up what could make life easier, and doing what works for your family. This giant shelf may not be everyone's design dream but it works so well for us!

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DIY Deck Curtains: What You’ll Want to Know {Thoughtful Thursday}

About a year ago I made over our back deck. Our deck is a great size but we weren't utilizing it well.

Thoughtful Thursday

Along with redoing an old bakers rack to use as toy storage and a gross looking outdoor table, I also decided I wanted to make some of the awesome curtains outdoor curtains everyone was pinning. You know the ones: drop cloths, pvc pipe, and clip hooks. I went to town, collected all my supplies, and got to work {with the help of my taller and wiser hubs}. I even took tons of pictures with the intent to share them with you because they were super easy to make! ...except apparently I never did. hehe

Well, in short, I still love the curtains. Or at least the idea of them and how I've recently adapted them to work better for our family.

DIY Outdoor Curtains what you'll want to know, a year later

Now for the longer explanation.


  • 4 khaki drop cloths
  • 4 packs of curtain rings with hooks
  • Rope
  • PVC pipe {I used really small/cheap pipe}
  • Pipe caps
  • Bracket pieces {choose based on size of pipe- it will likely be on the same aisle}
  • Screws
  • Nuts
  • Drill
  • Scotch guard spray*


  1. All the tutorials made it seem easy to just cut the pvc pipe, slide on the curtain hooks, hang with something, and clip on the drop cloths. Expect. No.
  2. The cutting itself was easy but the length I needed meant that the skinny/cheap pipes I bought ended up having these widened pieces on them because I had to add another piece to make it long enough. No big deal.
  3. Except the loops on my curtain hooks weren't large enough to make it over that piece. I had to be super strategic about which side I put how many rings. I wanted to be able to pull the curtains closed to block the sun but I also wanted to be able to pull them all the way open to be decorative or let their be more air flow.
  4. Then the hooks were too big to slide easily and would get snagged on the ditch parts of the siding where I was having to hang the pipe around the top of my deck.
  5. Screwing the U brackets in wasn't super easy either. It is hollow behind the siding making it cave in when you press the drill down trying to create the hole for the screw or pressing in the screw.
  6. We used 3 brackets on each side attempting to keep it from sagging.
  7. We did a quick-fix and added a bolt behind the brackets making the rod set further from the wall to help with the snagging problem.
  8. My drop cloths were a little too long between the combination of where I could install the rod and the hanging down clips so I had to finagle them over and over again to fold over some of the curtain to raise them slightly. I would lay them out on the floor, fold them while measuring to make sure they were straight, space the hooks evenly, and then thread the pipe through, trying to remember how many rings when on each side of the pipe bulge.
  9. We did the same thing on the east and west side of the deck and left the south side open- allowed us to see the yard more easily when the kids were playing, the sun didn't really come onto the deck from that direction, and trying to figure out how to do that one was really hard with the stairs to the off-centered right side.
  10. Simple pipe caps will keep bugs from getting in your pipes and/or making nests in them.

DIY Outdoor Curtains what you'll want to know DIY Outdoor Curtains


  • Over the first few months we learned a lot about those idealistic curtains that no one told you in their tutorials...
  • They don't stay clean
  • They're hard to take up and down to wash
  • They sag. Adding more brackets was the first answer I came up with but that creates problems again, opening and closing them easily.
  • They fly in the breeze, not blocking the sun
  • They get hooked on the roof/in the gutters in strong wind/rough weather
  • If you tie them back so they don't fly away in rough weather, they mildew {I used scotch guard after taking them down and washing them one time and that helped a little}
  • You can't see your children if you leave them hanging down long past the railing of your deck

After lots of annoyance, I ended up taking them down for nearly 6 months of this last year if not more because I was tiered of asking my husband or risking my own life to fish them off the roof, take them down to wash, re-hang, opening and closing them based on the weather or if I needed to see my kids playing, etc. When spring hit this year I had forgotten most of the frustration and was okay with not having the pinned version of what I was hoping for. I adapted the curtains to fit our needs.


I yanked down the entire rod on the east side. We rarely go into the backyard first thing in the morning and even if we do, the sun isn't that bad

I used all the hooks from that side to reinforce my new plan to have just the west side curtains

I only used the bolts from that side as well and doubled the spacing away from the wall to help the curtains pull open and closed easier

I still used 2 panels on the west side but I spun them on their side and made the long length run horizontally. This helped in a few ways--

  • it left the railing exposed so I could see the kids while they played under the curtains
  • the sun was still blocked during the heat of the day
  • they weren't flying as crazy because the length was almost cut in half
  • it makes the curtains look fuller, with lots of scrunch
  • I can just tie them in the middle and their still cute

DIY Outdoor Curtains issues

I hope this helps you see all the pros and cons about the reality of this project and what its like living with them. 😀

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Jack of Many Trades, Master of None

I think I've shared before about being a whiny junior higher. I vividly remember a conversation with friends where I complained about the travesties of  being ME in 7th grade. I nagged on and on during our choir class because during our voice range testing, I'd been placed as a "second soprano". Ah the days of non-sense drama.

Jack of Many Trades, Master of None

I explained how awful the assignment was. I apparently couldn't sing high enough to be a 1st soprano or low enough to be an alto. This was reassurance of one of my biggest fears: I'm mediocre. I was the middle child. I was in a middle class family. I considered myself not "hot" but not "ugly" and not "fat" but not "skinny". I was average height. I made average grades. I had friends but they were all from different "group" that I wasn't necessarily in.

I was ordinary. 

Okay, maybe a bit extreme but I think some of you might relate. Somehow, made in the image of the amazingly, loving, thoughtful, creative, extraordinary God to simply turn out ordinary. I felt, and often still feel like I'm missing something. My "calling". My "thing". My way to ooze all that God has pour into my creation as a way to shine His glory.

Chewbacca Mamma, Candace Payne described it best when she reassured students {and me} recently when she said, "...sometimes I wake up and feel like a jack of many trades yet master of none."

{you can skip to 7:00 minutes to get to the part I'm talking about}

That "creative buzz" going on constantly; stirring so many ideas and sometimes not allowing for completion before another one takes over sometimes makes me feel like a flake with no follow through. Maybe that's why I'm mundane- my passion shifts?

Then, amidst my devaluing thoughts, it occurred to me again and again. Adding up all the seemingly random things I've been involved in up until this part of my life have all been mixed into a casserole. A couple years ago, I would have thought that casserole was The Valley church that my husband and I planted her in central AR. I saw how God mixed in our years of youth ministry that included fundraising, creative/cheap space creation, sexual integrity programs, baby sitting, substitute teaching, community involvement, organizing trips, organizing/renovating/decorating multiple homes, leading volunteers, making videos, starting a blog, utilizing social media outlets, dabbling in graphic design, learning wise financial practices and the list goes on and on. Even living in multiple places around the state has created a large network of support in what we are doing at The Valley.

Let me just say, I will be 32 in a couple months and God's not done with me yet! I have decided I am refusing to let helping planet a church at the age of 28 be my High, life goal, sole purpose in how God wants to use my life. Not even this amazing journey as a foster family is the end-all be-all of what God could use my minuscule life for.

I recently found The Find {budumpbump}.

Listening to the stories in just season 1 made me realize that God prepared those families to through their thirties for what His ultimate plan was for them. They talked about unfulfilled dreams, mastering skills, saving, and then moving when the time was right. I'd even be willing to bet that even what they're doing now is NOT the end and all the things God used to prepare them for now can stand alone as significant in the ripple effect they have in God's plan.

With all that being said, this is me. Today. The day I am pouting once again. Believing the lie that I am ordinary and God might just leave me that way with all my hard head, dark heart, and lazy spirit. Wondering if I should... stick with blogging {I do love writing and rambling}, refinishing furniture {we could benefit from replacing another vehicle}, embark on new endeavors further within the Foster Care system {I do love babies}, finish and attempt to publish the books I've started writing, or so many other random trades I've dabbled in. Waiting for further direction and dreams to play out that I didn't even know I had.

How about you? Have you found your "thing" or are you a wanderer like me?

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