Friendship Takes Time

Friendship Takes Time :: EverydaySmallThings.comI began attending MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) when Rilyn was six months old. I really didn’t have any “mom” friends and was craving same season friendship. My mom was going to be speaking at a local MOPS group in a few months and I wanted to attend incognito for a while. I wanted them to know me for me and not for who my mom was. I was the only one with an infant at my assigned table and so at times I felt like I didn’t belong. I questioned whether or not I should continue to attend, as I didn’t seem to have much in common with these women because our children were in different stages of life. I decided to stick it out, and as the year continued I learned a lot from these women but never found a connection of friendship.

img_0560It took me three years to find my Strawberry Pink girls. Our table just clicked, all eleven of us. We shared tears, laughter, struggles, and encouragement. We rallied around the friend whose husband was deployed, encouraged the friend whose husband was living and working in a different state, and supported the friend whose son was killed in an accident. We prayed for one another, played in each other’s homes, and had girls night outs together. These friends held me up when my dad went through a midlife crisis and left for a few months. I had never experienced friendship like this and was relishing in it.

The following year, I moved away and was brokenhearted to leave these dear friends I had made. Facebook has been great in keeping us connected, and several of us make attending the Hearts at Home conference our annual reunion. I am so grateful I stuck it out with MOPS even when I wasn’t initially getting the deep connection I desired. I’ve learned that connection takes time. In our “instant” society, we are often inclined to believe that great friendship happens just as fast as “Confirm” is pressed on a Facebook friend request. That’s not the way it is in real life. Friendships take time to find and nurture. Then once we connect, it’s both the highs and lows of life that make us better together.

How about you? Have you given up too easily when you didn’t find instant connection with a group?

More Than Potato Soup – Daycare Kid Approved!

More Than Potato Soup // EverydaySmallThings.comThere’s nothing more comforting than a good warm bowl of potato soup. When we first started Whole30, potatoes weren’t allowed (they are now). At the time I was excited to discover this recipe for Baked (not) Potato Soup. While it was tasty, there is just nothing like real potatoes in my opinion. So when we were done with our Whole30, I tweaked the recipe and added even more veggies. As I was typing in this recipe I realized how different it is from the original recipe. This is daycare-kid approved! Yesterday, every kid finished their bowl and half asked for seconds.  I’ll take that as a resounding “Yum!”…there’s no need to tell them they ate five different vegetables.


More Than Potato Soup
A delicious soup filled with veggies!
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  1. 10 oz. bacon, diced (We use Naked Bacon brand)
  2. 6-8 potatoes, diced (I peel half of them to keep the soup white -- it's a personal preference)
  3. 1 yellow onion, diced
  4. 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small florets (or 1 bag frozen cauliflower)
  5. 1 large turnip, peeled and diced
  6. 1 large parsnip, peeled and diced
  7. 3 cloves garlic
  8. 4 cups stock (we use sugar-free vegetable stock)
  9. salt, to taste
  10. 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  11. 1 tsp. italian seasoning
  1. In a stockpot, fry the bacon until crispy. With a slotted spoon, remove bacon bits into separate bowl.
  2. Pour off bacon fat until 2 tablespoons are left in the pot.
  3. Saute 1/2 diced (peeled) potatoes, onion, cauliflower, turnip, parsnip and garlic in the bacon fat until soft, stirring frequently.
  4. Pour in the stock, stir, bring to a boil over high heat.
  5. After it comes to a boil, turn down to a simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. With an immersion blender, puree until smooth (or use a regular blender in batches).
  7. Add the remaining potatoes, salt, chili powder and Italian seasoning, continue to simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes.
  8. Serve topped with the bacon.
Adapted from Paleo Parents
Adapted from Paleo Parents
Everyday Small Things

A Look Back At Our First Year Homeschooling

A Look Back At Our First Year Homeschooling ::

Affiliate Link DisclosureA Look Back At Our First Year Homeschooling :: EverydaySmallThings.comWhat a year this has been! We made it through our first year homeschooling in the midst of running a home daycare and publishing a book. Sounds crazy, I know. I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now, but I was busy with, you know, homeschooling and running a daycare. 😉

The number one question we get is “How do you homeschool while running a daycare?” I think usually people are asking for the practical response but I think there’s also a philosophical piece that is important. It stems back to our approach on learning. One of the reasons we chose to homeschool is the opportunity for more relaxed learning through play and life. Looking back, I think one thing I did really well was having a laid-back attitude. If we were able to fit in some structured learning, great! If the kids were playing especially well for the day, let them keep playing! If the kids were curious about something, we’d explore that more. I would say we fit more into the “Relaxed Homeschool” approach.

On a more practical side, this is how we made homeschooling work for us while running a home daycare:

  • We did a lot of learning together. For instance, we’ve been learning about each state. Because of a trip to Florida, we learned about the ocean. If the daycare kids were interested, we did it all together. Reading aloud can be done with everyone.
  • We do “Rest Time” every day and most of the kids take a 1-2 hour nap during this time. This has been utilized as a more personal learning time in which we worked on math and writing.
  • We homeschool year round. This allows for flexibility in how often we sit down for structured learning. 
  • Technology was a great tool in having to balance homeschool and daycare.  Utilizing an online math program, and now a DVD program, removed lesson planning off my plate. All of my curriculum choices (aside from Science) were pretty much open and go. Very little prep required.

HomeschoolyearHere is the curriculum we used for Rilyn’s kindergarten year:

  • Math: and Math-U-See
    Rilyn had no interest in the beginning of sitting down and learning from me. We first tried Kahn Academy which she really liked but it doesn’t read the questions to you, so it required me to sit and do it with her. allowed her to be introduced to math in a fun way while giving her the independence she desired. This summer, we started using Math-U-See (Alpha for Rilyn age 6 and Primer for Landon age 4). We really like it so far. It uses a block system and is mastery based. This allows Rilyn, who is a visual learner, to see how the math works but also master the concept before moving on. It also comes with a DVD that teaches each lesson. 
  • Writing: Writeshop Primary Book – Teacher Guide
    Rilyn has always loved making books and this was a great tool for helping her understand how to write about an idea. Most of the year, she would dictate her stories but she has started writing them on her own. We found no need to purchase the worksheet pack that they also sell. We did all of her writing in a storytelling journal like this.
  • Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting
    This provided a more focused opportunity to work on her handwriting.
  • Science: Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day
    We took a road trip to Florida in May and so we wanted to learn about the ocean before we took this trip. Zoology 2 proved to be too advanced for my kids and so we eventually shelved it to be used sometime in the future. From what I’ve learned, it seems like Exploring Creation With Astronomy is more age appropriate. 

It’s hard to summarize a year of homeschooling into one blog post, but it truly has been a great year. Hard? Yes. But well worth it!

DIY Seek and Find

DIY Seek & Find // EverydaySmallThings.comWe are gearing up for a 12-hour road trip and I wanted to hop on here and share one of the things I’ll be packing up. They turned out so great and everything I used was found around the house!

This idea was found on one of my perusals on Pinterest for ideas on keeping kids busy on a road trip. I pulled together all kinds of foam stickers, beads and trinkets, took a picture of all of the items and put them in an old salsa jar (I always save them!). I then filled the rest with rice. Attaching a laminated photo of everything they could find in the bottle completed this super easy project!

This is a great little activity to have around the house and I’ll definitely save them for a future rainy day.

DIY Seek and Find //


Neighborhood Block Party

Block Party ::

Block Party :: EverydaySmallThings.comI think it’s safe to say spring weather is officially here to stay! Our neighborhood has started becoming active again with the sound of lawn mowers and friendly waves at people walking by. But let’s be honest, how well do you know the people you live by? In a world of garage door openers, its far too easy to pull into your garage, shut the door and never make any connections.

When a job change took us to a new city, we tried to make connections with our neighbors but we weren’t having much success aside from one or two of them. No one seemed interested in the act of neighboring. So we decided to take matters into our own hands and host a block party! We created an invitation and knocked on each door of the neighbors on our block to personally invite them.

I considered the block party a success when, out of twenty-five houses, we had eleven represented. We learned about one another’s families and learned a little bit of history about the neighborhood. Several of our neighbors have lived here for close to fifty years and they kept telling us how wonderful it was to get together and that no one had ever done anything like this. One neighbor even told me, “I’ve lived in my house for fifty years and I’ve never met any of my neighbors.” 

Block Party :: EverydaySmallThings.comBeing intentional about fostering relationships in your neighborhood is a benefit for you and your neighbors! Have you ever considered hosting or organizing a block party? If not, I encourage you to put a date on the calendar right now. Matt and I decided to do it again this year, but instead of August, doing it in June to allow for more connections over the summer. 

Something as simple as an intentional gathering of neighbors can make your neighborhood a better place to live.



Status: No Margin

No Margin :: EverydaySmallThings.comOver the last few weeks, I have been processing this concept of “margin” in my life. Actually its more than just processing, God has been hammering me with it!

You see, anxiety and a lack of margin go hand-in-hand. When I begin to notice the margin in my life narrowing, I also notice it has a direct influence on the number and severity of anxiety attacks.  

Margin: the amount available beyond what is necessary.
Margin in motherhood. When I allow my margin to narrow my little people suffer. I am less likely to engage in play with them or read them a book. My temper is much quicker which is not enjoyable for anyone. When I have margin in my life, I find that I enjoy motherhood much more. I’m excited for the day ahead, instead of dragging along.

Recently I found myself in the grocery store, staring at the long shelves of food. Darn it, my family needed to eat…again. Wasn’t I just here last night? Yep. Yep I was. Same spot. 24 hours earlier. Staring. Trying to mentally run through all of those fabulous pins I have of meals that we love or I’d like to try. And yet, the only meal that comes to mind is chili…again. With a small sigh, my shoulders sagged and I felt stuck. This is another result of having low margin in my life. Margin allows me to thoughtfully plan out meals for our family. Margin allows me to wisely stick to our food budget.

Margin: the amount available beyond what is necessary.
Margin in my marriage. My marriage could survive in low margin, but I want it to thrive. I want to be an active partner with my husband in life and ministry, but right now its taking a lot of work to be more than passing ships in the night. I’m a better mom if I’m a better wife to my husband first. If I’m being honest, in the last four months, I find myself being Daycare Owner first, Mom second, Wife third. The kids’ needs are screaming at me (literally screaming sometimes). Matt doesn’t need me to feed, bathe, change or hold him.
Margin: the amount available beyond what is necessary.
Margin in my faith and ministry. Sadly, what little time I was finding in the last few months with God, has become nothing. I’ll be honest, yesterday was the first time in eight weeks that I even opened my Bible. I’m empty. And you can’t (or shouldn’t) serve out of your emptiness. Romans 15:13 (The Message) says, “May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!” I can’t be filled with “the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit” without spending quality time with my Savior.
Margin: the amount available beyond what is necessary.
Margin for me. Personal care is an important part of life, but especially for those who struggle with depression and anxiety. Self care is one of the best tools we have. Often, moms put off taking care of themselves because they feel like they need to put their family first. But taking care of yourself is taking care of your family!
Margin: the amount available beyond what is necessary.
So, how does one start getting more margin? I don’t know the answer for everyone, but for me, it’s learning to say “No” and choosing to prioritize. Recognizing the places I can let go and others I need to engage. For instance, I haven’t blogged in a few weeks. I tend to blog in the evening and I found I needed that time to focus on my family.
So where are you at with margin in your own life? What are ways you protect your margin? Do you need to find more “white space” in your life?

A Book Review: Under the Sea Children’s Bible

Under the Sea Bible :: EverydaySmallThings.comIt’s amazing to me that there are so many options out there for Bibles. I was recently introduced to the new Under the Sea children’s Bible. If your child enjoys fish or sea life, then this would be a great gift. The cover has foil and sparkle cartoons that may be enticing. Bright colors and cartoons are on several feature pages throughout the Bible. 

I was hoping for more of an ocean / creation theme on the inserts, however the cartoons are appealing to my preschool age children.

Buy yours at Barnes & Noble.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Under the Sea children’s Bible in exchange for an honest review.


To The Mom Whose Family Doesn’t Look Like What She Imagined

To The Mom Whose Family Doesn't Look Like She Imagined |

To The Mom Whose Family Doesn't Look Like She Imagined | EverydaySmallThings.comEver since I was a young girl, I knew I wanted to be a mom.  
I also knew I wanted a lot of kids. Like. A loooot. Mothering instincts have always come naturally to me. Younger children were drawn to me and I enjoyed babysitting. In fact, I took babysitting so seriously that I created a “Babysitting Kit” full of fun activities!

I am the oldest of 5 children. Hustle and bustle was the name of the game in my house growing up. Dinner was loud, but fun. There was never a lack of playmates. I love looking at family photos and seeing how large my family is.

In college, I remember telling a friend that I wanted 15 kids. I was only half-joking. When Matt and I started dating, children were an important part of the conversation. I wanted a large family and Matt understood my dream.

Four years into marriage I had a baby.

Holy moly was my world turned upside down.

When she was 4 months old, I returned to work and that is when I began recognizing that I am a medium-low capacity momma. Capacity is the physical and emotional energy you have. It also may indicate how many balls you can juggle before it’s too much. By the end of the work day, there was hardly anything left for my little family.

When Rilyn was an active 23 month old, I gave birth to Landon. From the beginning, he had issues nursing and it didn’t help that Rilyn knew she could get away with anything when mommy was trying to nurse. At 4 months old he fell below his birth weight and was labeled “failure to thrive”. Between this and the toll pregnancy had on my hormones, I found myself deep into the baby blues.  So much so, that it took me nearly two years and trying different medications before my emotional and mental health was normal again.

Walking through that tough season was incredibly hard on my marriage and my motherhood. I am so grateful to have had a husband who stood by my side through the ups and downs. He understood this was not normal for me and fought for me and our family when I couldn’t.

Because of all of this and after a lot of prayer, Matt and I made the decision that, at least for the foreseeable future, we will not be adding to our family via pregnancy.

Enter grief for the loss of a dream.

Experiencing the loss of your family dream can look a lot of different ways. Maybe it was the dream of one boy and one girl and three boys later, you’ve decided not to try a fourth time for that girl. Maybe like me, for unforeseen personal reasons, you have made the choice not to get pregnant again.  Or maybe you’ve experienced infertility or the unimaginable loss of a child.

It’s ok to grieve the family you always dreamt of.

While I know and trust that we have made the right decision for our family, I have still had to grieve the loss of what I always dreamed my family would look like. When we make a decision that is best for our family, it does not take away the loss of our dreams. So you and I have to allow ourselves to grieve but also not lose out on the moment of now. We can’t let what we don’t have cripple us or define us.

Just yesterday, I was going between anger with God and grief yet again as a friend with 6 children posted family photos. This is what I dreamed my family would look like. While it could be easy to look at another mom with more children and feel inadequate,  I can’t allow Satan to steal away the joy of my family and you can’t either.  Regardless of whether your tendency is to shut down emotionally or dwell in your emotions, you can’t fall into the trap of not being the woman your family needs while walking through the grief.  

Recently, the longing and grief were weighing heavily on me and I finally shared what was on my heart with a friend of mine. Wouldn’t you know, I heard the words, “Me too!” What a reminder that none of us are alone in this journey of motherhood. There are other moms who may have a different story, but understand the emotions.

Better Together | EverydaySmallThings.comIn our book, Better Together, my mom writes, “Sometimes just having someone to listen can make all the difference in the world. Most women long to be heard more than to have their problems fixed. When we can be a safe person for a friend to be real and raw without judgment, we give them an incredible gift.”

Caring for others allows us to more easily share with others because we know that we all go through hard times. Taking off our masks is an important part of taking friendship to a deeper level.

So here I am, mask removed. Letting you know, “Me too!”

A Creative Way to Talk About Emotional Purity

The Easiest Way to Talk About Emotional Purity :: EverydaySmallThings.comNote: This post, written several years ago, was a readers’ favorite on my previous blog. As we approach Valentine’s Day, I found it fitting to repost.

For the last four weeks, Matt has been doing a series called “Opposite Sex” with our high school students. He’s been talking about guy and girl relationships and how God calls us to a lifestyle that is “Opposite” of culture’s. Tonight, he preached from Genesis 29:1-30:24, the story of Jacob, Leah and Rachel. I had always seen Jacob’s pursuit and waiting of Rachel as romantic or sweet, but in actuality, Jacob wasted 14 years of his life pining over this woman. Really interesting perspective!

After Matt’s message, we split the kids up between guys and girls. I was really praying about how to drive home this message of purity — both emotional and physical. God reminded me of this great visual that I had read about on Emotional Purity Blog. So last minute (while Matt was preaching) I ran around to grab supplies and kind of made this analogy my own.

I gave each girl a heart and I asked them to write out what makes them special or unique. Some of the things girls wrote down were: family, God, spaghetti, a boyfriend, friends, concerts, singing, plays, individuality, and so on. They covered their heart with these words.
Heart Glue ::

Then, I gave them a black piece of paper with the word boyfriend across the top. I gave them each a glue stick and asked them to glue their heart to boy #1, their “high school sweetheart”. I used Heather’s term of “heart glue” and how when we have a relationship with a guy, we stick to them — even if we are “just friends” but act like boyfriend and girlfriend without the title.

I said that statistically they will break up with their “high school sweetheart” and so we ripped the heart off after 5 minutes. Several girls left quite a bit of their hearts behind, while others seemed to get their full heart back. But what was interesting was all the black on the back of their hearts. We talked about how they may look good on the outside, but on the inside they still have a connection to that guy.

We continued to do this with boy #2 (their college boyfriend) and boy #3. By this time, their hearts were paper thin, ripped or barely there. It was interesting to hear what the girls had “left behind” with the guys. One girl said, “Boy #2 has God!” While another said, “Individuality was left with boy #3.” The conversation was running rampant with this analogy! It was so awesome!
Heart Glue ::

I gave them a white piece of paper with the word “husband” across the top. I asked them to glue their heart onto this piece of paper. One girl said, “My heart can’t take this anymore, I’m using extra glue so it doesn’t come off!” Another girl’s heart looked completely “normal” but she saw that you could see all the black on the back of the heart through the white paper. We talked about what was left for your future spouse — a broken and grimy heart. But we also made sure to talk about the restoration of God and how he can even use broken, gross hearts and create an awesome marriage! I wanted the girls to see that the decisions they make now may seem harmless or “fun” but they can have lasting consequences.

Praying For Future HusbandFinally, I encouraged them to start praying for their future husband. I told them that somewhere out there was a guy going on his own journey. This was the perfect time to start praying for him! I shared that I had started a prayer journal for my future husband in Jr High and actually gave it to Matt as a gift on our wedding day. Its really interesting to see the things God placed on my heart to be praying about and how Matt may have been facing a situation in his life at that moment that needed my specific prayer. Or how I only prayed for my husband’s sisters, never any brothers. Matt has two sisters, no brothers. Back to the activity, I gave each girl a print out that my youth pastor’s wife had given me of a prayer for your future husband. You can gain access to a printable version by inputing your email address below. 

All in all, it was an awesome night and it seemed to really drive home this whole month’s discussion on Opposite Sex. So, thank you Heather for sharing that craft idea so long ago! It definitely came in handy tonight!

Is emotional purity a concept you’ve talked about before?  

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“Paleo” Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Paleo Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip CookiesI will be the first to say that peanut butter is not considered paleo. But, there’s just nothing like good ol’ peanut butter…and yes, I’ve tried almond butter and sunflower butter.  Just not the same. 

One of my all-time favorite cookies is peanut butter cookies. So when my mom shared a different date based cookie, I decided to create my own healthier version of peanut butter cookies. And, they’ve passed the “non-paleo” friend test!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies :: EverydaySmallThings.comI prefer a really smooth texture for these cookies so I blend everything together really well in a food processor.  I’m not a fan of finding chunks of dates in my cookies.  Takes the fun of peanut butter cookies right out of it 😉

You can scoop out the dough just like any other cookies or our favorite method is to roll out the dough about 1/4 inch thick, cut into rectangles and place on a cookie sheet. Because these are made with a flax egg (don’t panic…all this means is 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal (ground raw flaxseed) and 2.5 Tbsp water) it makes a delicious raw cookie “dough” that is safe to enjoy.

Hope you enjoy these cookies!

"Paleo" Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Dairy-free, gluten-free yummy cookies
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
  1. 1 cup peanut butter (or any nut/seed butter)
  2. 1/2 cup chopped dates
  3. 1/4 cup almonds (roasted & salted) or any nut
  4. 1/4 cup maple syrup
  5. 1 flax egg (or regular egg)
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  7. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  8. dash salt
  9. 1/2 cup chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand)
  1. In a food processor, blend together dates, peanut butter, almonds, maple syrup, vanilla, baking soda and salt until smooth
  2. Add in egg and mix until just incorporated
  3. Stir in chocolate chips
  4. Cook 350* for 10 minutes
  1. You can either scoop out portions just like regular cookies or our preferred method is to roll out the dough about 1/4 inch thick and then cut out rectangles.
  2. If you use flax egg, this makes awesome cookie "dough"!!
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