Family Friendly Holiday Activities

I received these items free for purposes of my review. All opinions are my own.


I know we’re all staying home for the holidays, but I still want my surfaces clean for all the fun family activities we’re doing. So, before we get started, these hard surface wipes from Elyptol are perfect for wiping down the table or counter.

With natural ingredients and a Eucalyptus clean scent, these wipes are perfect for any solid household surfaces.

Elyptol has hand sanitizer, sprays, wipes, and liquid soap. Even if I wasn’t being extra cautious about germs this year, my 3yr old son is still struggling to accurately hit the inside of the toilet, so, I’m doing a LOT of bathroom cleaning. It’s nice to do it with a product that doesn’t dry out my skin and that leaves my bathroom smelling amazing!

Use code: germ free for a 20% discount when you order.

Adventure Challenge

Now that we have a clean work surface, the first thing my kids wanted to try out was this Adventure Challenge book.

There’s a plethora of fun family activities, you scratch off one, and have to accomplish it before you can pick another one. We just finished the one where you create a sculpture out of something from your fridge. It was so much fun!

There’s tape strips by each challenge for sticking on a photo of your adventures. When we’re all done it’s going to be an awesome book full of fun memories!

It’s hard to beat having fun AND being able to look back easily and remember it.

I’m loving the randomness of the activities, this makes them so fun and unique. And I love that I have a fun activity literally at my fingertips for those days when we just can’t think of anything to do.

So much fun!!!

You’re Pulling My Leg Jr

This game is simple, you ask a question – like tell me about a time an animal tried to bite you – the answerer flips a coin and doesn’t let anyone else see it, heads is the truth and tails is a lie.

The Answerer then answers the question by telling a story with the designated truth or lie and the listeners have to guess if the story is true or not.

We started this the other night and the kids did not want to stop! It’s so much fun coming up with random stories (or true stories) and trying to trick your siblings (and parents).

We got many laughs out of this game and have plans to play it again tonight.

The best thing is, you can easily play this game with a large variety of ages and everyone can have fun tricking everyone else. I plan to pull it out for our next extended family zoom call.


So this game arrived all wrapped up, with this cool note. I liked the game before I even played it! Obviously, the creators of this game are super creative, which is everything I could hope for in a get to know you trivia game!

This game works as a couples game, a group party game, and even as a family game. It’s funny how my questions my husband and I did’t know the answers to for each other!

The kids thought it was so fun to learn random information about everyone, and there really are so hilarious questions/answers that happened while we were playing.

This is another game that is perfect for family or friend zoom calls as well as family game night.

With all these awesome activities, my kids are well entertained this holiday season, while still learning about each other, and staying safe!


Outdoor Play over the Holidays

This post is sponsored by the Voice of Play

My kids love to play outside! Whether it’s at the zoo, up in Gatlinburg, our back yard, or the playground. It doesn’t matter. They just love to be outside!


Here in Tennessee, we’ve had a warm fall. As in up in the 80’s. So flip-flops and summer clothing were acceptable attire until just a couple of weeks ago. Also, the birds at the zoo are so interesting, I couldn’t get anyone to actually look at the camera 🙂

Imagine my children’s shock when I informed them they they had to take socks AND shoes with them (and coats, and hats, and gloves) when we visited extended family in Ohio over Thanksgiving.

Of  course, it was cold up there. So they were very happy to have their warm clothing.


We walked to the park up the street from my parent’s house and the kids had a blast playing. They just love slides and such. There’s a walking path here that my parents like to walk, so they got their walking for the day in while the kids played and occasionally joined them on their walk – but a new playground was just too exciting to resist for long!


The park had these rocking eagles that my kids had never seen before. So, they had a blast trying them out. Next time we visit they want to go back to the park again so they can play some more!


All in all, they had a great time at the park and can’t wait to go back again.

And then today, back at home, it’s almost 70 out and raining. So of course, they got to do one of their favorite outdoor activities. Play in the rain! They have umbrellas, but it’s way more fun to get wet from head to toe. I dumped cups of water from my little guy’s boots when he came in from playing.  He definitely found all the good puddles!


So, tell me in the comments, what does your family love to do outside for fun in the fall?

This post is sponsored by the Voice of Play. @Voice_of_Play #YearRoundPlay

IPEMA’s Voice of Play website

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Family Christian Store – Review & $25 Giveaway

I received a $25 gift card to Family Christian in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.


Family Christian Store is a one stop shop for all your Christian Book and Media needs. They have Bibles, Books, Music, DVDs, Kid’s Items, and even apparel.

They’re the exclusive retail partner for Active Faith Sports. A line of workout apparel with Christian-inspired designs and messages. You can check out their promo video for more information.

The closest Family Christian is 3 hours away from me so I chose to shop online with my gift card. I had way too much fun spending it and ended up spending a bit more because they have so much great stuff!

IMG_20160311_135336386_HDRI started by looking up Julianna Deering. I had read her book “Dressed For Death” a while back and liked it. It’s the third in the series and I’ve been wanting to get the first two. Since I can spend my gift card however I want I decided to get these.

Family Christian had a buy one get one 50% off sale, so with the sale price, I was still below my $25 with two books.

And I should add, that they were easy to find. I just searched for the author and all her books popped up and I added the two I wanted to my cart.

I still had a few dollars to spend.

I made the mistake of telling the kids they could help me pick something. They wanted about 20 DVDs so I think I did pretty good convincing them that they could live with 2. Of course, we had to get 2 since everything is buy one get one 50% off. And I can’t pass up a sale.

For the DVDs I  just browsed the kid’s DVD section. They have a huge selection of DVDs which was why it was so hard for my kids to choose. I browsed a few other sections as well just to see what they have and always found what I was looking for.


Family Christian has a buy one get one 50% off sale on their Books, Music, and DVDs until August 25th. This sale is good in store and online. And I just love finding books on sale!

You can mix and match items and categories to get the deal, your two items don’t have to be in the same department.

AND I get to give away a $25 Family Christian Gift Card to one lucky reader! Enter below for your chance to win.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

ESV Family Devotional Bible Review and Giveaway

I received this product free for purposes of my review. All opinions are my own.

The ESV Family Devotional Bible is a hardbound colorful Bible.  It retells 130 key stories from the Bible with full color illustrations for each story, as well as placed within the Bible text where it is found.  The stories are simplified and easy for children of all ages to understand.

The ESV Family Devotional Bible is designed to help families read and apply God’s Word together. This full-color edition features the complete ESV text interspersed with engaging illustrations and gospel-centered devotions related to key Bible stories—guiding families through the entirety of God’s Word over the course of a year. Each devotion also includes discussion questions and suggestions for additional reading, helping families develop a habit of reading the Bible together and applying its truth to all of life.

My family is really enjoying this Bible. Each of the stories is 1 to 1 1/2 pages long. The perfect story length for young children! Each story also has 3 discussion questions at the end. I’m not sure who’s enjoying these questions more. Me or the kids! They listen better to the story because they want to answer the questions at the end. And I love hearing their answers. It’s always interesting to me how they can hear things in a Bible story that I never thought of.

I’ve been using this Bible for our evening devotions and it has really helped to enrich this time together and to introduce the kids to Bible Stories that you don’t find in Kid’s Story Bibles. (Like Abraham rescuing Lot when he was captured by enemy armies).

Each story has an accompanying picture, so the kids gather close so they can inspect the picture while I’m reading. This also helps to keep their attention on the devotion.

I especially like that the stories are placed in context among the verses. This makes it so easy for me to look at the actual text and answer any questions the kids have about the story.

This is an awesome Family Devotional Bible!

To find out more about this Bible or to purchase it you can go to Amazon, or visit Crossway Books on Facebook or Twitter. (Note, they sent me links to their giveaway which has already ended – enter my giveaway below for a chance to win an ESV Family Devotional Bible)

Enter below to win your very own copy of this great ESV Family Devotional Bible to share with your family.


Homeschooling Mondays – Why Homeschool?

For my homeschooling series I thought I would kick it off with why we’re homeschooling.

I myself was homeschooled from 1st grade on and my husband was homeschooled his entire life so when it came time to pick what we are going to do for our kids education there was really no discussion, we both benefited greatly from the education we received and we want the same positive educational experience for our children.

So, now that you know how much I just love homeschooling here’s some benefits I see for my kids.

1. Education is tailored towards my child’s needs and aptitudes – For example, last year we used Saxon for math. And suddenly a subject that hadn’t been a problem, became a problem. For my 1st grade daughter, Saxon math just didn’t work. She dreaded it every day.

This year, I’ve switch to A Beka math, which was my favorite when I was in school. She complained about it the first couple of days – because that’s how she approaches math – but when I introduced her first “speed drill” a week in, it appealed to her competitive personality and she loved it. Just in case you don’t know, a speed drill is about 8 to 10 math and subtraction problems that she has to answer in under 1 minute. The A Beka curriculum comes with one a day for the entire year. I loved these when I was a kid!

Now, every time there’s a row of equations to solve I have to set my stopwatch app for 1 minute and time her. Usually she’s done in 30 to 45 seconds. And she begs to be allowed to do multiple speed drills per day.

Also, I don’t feel that I have to use the same method with every child. I’ve started teaching my K4 daughter to read and I find that I teach her differently than I did my oldest because she has different strengths and different areas of difficulty.

2. Flexible Schedule – This is one thing I just love. And honestly, after being homeschooled myself I’m not sure I would survive as a mom if I was locked into my local school schedule.

What this means is we can meet friends at the zoo in the morning and do school in the afternoon. We can take a vacation after peak season and have more of the beach to ourselves. If we’re just having a bad morning, we can all take a break, go play outside for an hour, then return and finish school when the kid’s are better able to focus.

I’m required to do 180 days of school per year but I choose what days those are. This past year, we did school through all the snow days. So, while other parents are going crazy with stir-crazy kids who are stuck at home all day, we did our school. And then we got out about 2 weeks before the local schools did in May.

3. Socialization – I know this somehow gets a bad rap for homeschoolers and from my perspective, it just doesn’t make sense. Here’s the thing, when my child gets together with other children – which does happen on a regular basis – I am getting together with moms and oftentimes moms and dads. So, I know the parents of the kids my child is hanging out with. I also get to observe how my child plays with other children and we can talk about it later when we get home. I will often observe something that while not something I want to call my kids out on in public, it is something that I want to have a conversation about in private.

For example, she was playing with some kids and one of the boys just got a little too rough and pushed her over. No big deal, she wasn’t injured, and he didn’t mean anything by it. It just happens when you have a group of kids playing. He apologized, and she didn’t play with him the rest of the day.

I wasn’t going to force her to play with him because he wanted to play more rough like little boys do and it was better that she not get knocked over again. But, when we got home we had a talk about how boys do tend to play a little rougher and it’s something to consider when she’s playing. At 7yrs old the boys often don’t realize how rough they’re being, so if she doesn’t want to get injured, muddy, or dirty playing army with the boys is not a good idea. It’s ok to say you don’t like playing something and do something else. We never would have had this conversation though, if I wasn’t there to observe.

Also, one thing I notice when you get a group of homeschoolers together. The kids do not normally clump together by age. My 2yr old son was right in there with the 7yr old boys plus all the other little boys and older boys. The older kids are aware of the younger ones and do a good job of playing with them while still playing their own games. You put together a group of children who are normally grouped together by age, and that’s the way the’ll group when they play.

4. Family Values – I know my children and they know me. I know everyone is so happy to have their kids go back to school after a long summer. And I get asked a lot, “so don’t you get a break?”, “you mean they’re with you all the time?”, “don’t you get any time for yourself?”, and many similar questions.

The answer is yes, I do get time to myself, from 2 to 4 when the baby naps. The kids are required to play quietly and they usually do. The key is, It’s not a problem that they’re with me all the time. Because we have worked out what behaviors are acceptable and not acceptable, what times of day are quiet or alone times, and they are used to being with me all the time.

If there’s a behavior that is disruptive, I correct it, I can’t just look forward to school starting again so I don’t have to deal with it. I’m also aware of when my child is unusually tired, cranky, or just bursting with energy and can make allowances for that throughout the day.

They also know me, they know when I’m having a bad day, when I’m just downright busy, and when I need extra help.

And subjects like bible, history, science, reading, art, music,…um well, all the subjects I guess, are gateways to talk about what I believe about something and our family values. And to get some feedback from them and see what they think about something.

For example, we studied freedom of speech in history the other day, so after talking about what it is, we talked about our responsibility with this freedom. Is it ok to call people names? Is it ok to lie? Is it ok to disagree with someone? and on and on. We also talked about how it is important to stand up for what you believe in and how to politely disagree with people.

5. Learning is fun – I like to use a curriculum for most of my subjects just to make sure I don’t miss anything, but we also do fun things that don’t involve books. A lot of basic math is learned in the kitchen, where the kids just love to help. At their current ages it’s basic counting, measuring, and learning to read a recipe. As they get older it’ll be measurement conversions, more science behind why something works or doesn’t work in the kitchen, and more freedom to experiment.

If we’re learning about elephants in science a trip to the zoo is always great. And science experiments are always fun – and often messy.

I like having my kids with me, I enjoy learning with them, and I enjoy teaching them. Homeschooling is fun.


The other day I pulled an old Kindergarten book of mine out of the drawer and added it to my Kindergartner’s stack of schoolwork for the day. Now, we have about 4 lessons left in her Kindergarten Hooked on Phonics so I’m about to order the First Grade set even though we’re only halfway through her first school year. So, I know she can read my old Kindergarten book, it’s 3 and 4 letter words, two to three sentences per page, and a picture to help. She’s read just about every one of these words in her Hooked on Phonics book, and the words she hasn’t read she knows how to sound out.

I hand the book to her and she takes one look at it and announces that she can’t read it. She’s convinced that because it’s a different book than what she’s used to it’s simply not readable (I am aware that this is a problem, she thinks she can only read her hooked on phonics stuff so my goal with this book is to prove to her that she CAN read other books and I waited until I was sure she could read this book pretty easily before handing it to her, I need this to be an easy success so I can get her reading other books). I informed her that she only needed to read the first page, it’s two sentences and about 8 words total. Pretty easy. It takes FOREVER to read that page because she’s convinced she doesn’t know the words, yet she is able to sound each of them out and read the sentences. The next day I have her read the second page, which is again two sentences and about 8 words total, this goes much better since she’s beginning to realize that she can read the book. The third day she reads the third page with practically no help, and then the fourth day she decides that she’s just going to read the last 3 stories in the book in one day because they’re so easy! After we finish the book I point out to her that this is book 1 (it has a big 1 on the front) and that I have book 2 for us to read the next day. She’s so excited because she loves stories and she’s realized that she can read these books that I’m handing her, chances are she’ll try to read all of book 2 in one day.

I knew she could read the books and I know what words she can sound out and which ones she needs help with (we’ve covered long and short vowels but haven’t learned things like “oo” and “st” yet) so I’m not expecting something she can’t do. She just thinks I’m asking her to do something that is impossible.

My oldest child reminds me of myself so much. I was reminded of how I reacted when I found out I was pregnant with her.

My husband and I had been married for almost two years, I had three months left of college and I wasn’t working at the time so really we were in a pretty good situation to have a baby. Only, I wasn’t ready for a baby. My brother-in-law was living with us at the time (was supposed to be 3 months with us in our 2 bedroom apartment and had been almost a year), I was heading into my Law School finals with terrible morning/all day sickness, I was really looking forward to getting a job when I finished school, and I didn’t want kids yet.

I’m the oldest of 8 kids and I had told my husband before we got married that I would probably want a child or two eventually but I did not want kids for quite a while. He would have liked a baby sooner but he was willing to wait for me to be ready. When I got married my youngest sister was 5 – she was my flower girl, so you get the idea. I know babies and young children, I grew up with them. I really wanted a few baby free years.

I was not happy to be pregnant, I was pretty certain the timing was all wrong, and I told God that I really did not think this was funny at all, seriously, I’m enjoying my “Hooked on Phonics” books, let’s just stay here for a while. I’m sure he does things like this to me because it’s funny – not a mean, malicious funny, but like how I felt trying to convince my 5 yr old that she can read a book that’s almost too easy for her. It is funny, why is she resisting so much, if she would just do it she would realize how easy it is…

I finally got over it when my baby girl arrived (by this time we had bought a 3 bedroom house and kicked my brother-in-law out, and I had successfully finished school), and I really felt like my 5 year old did when she realized that the book I handed her was something she could read, I wasn’t lying when I told her she could read it.

I’m the oldest of 8 kids, I grew up with babies. My Pediatrician probably thought I was the craziest first time mom ever. I never had questions, never freaked out over anything, and was very laid back about this whole parenting thing. But, really, what do you expect, the only thing I had to learn how to do was nurse, other than that, I’d done this baby care thing many times. I remember being actually bored with my first because I had so much free time after she arrived – she slept so much and I had no school, no work, and a clean house. I can just see God laughing at me and saying “I told you, you know how to do this”. (really, I think that if our society liked kids more, large families would be more normal, and there would be a lot less of this “freaking out over the first baby because I don’t know what to do with a baby” syndrome, but that’s a different topic for a different day)

Now, I have 3 kids and plan to have a 4th eventually (it’s like the stack of books hidden away in the drawer, once she found out she could read the first one she’s ready for the whole stack). I will admit, the third child threw me for a loop (plus my oldest started kindergarten and we’re homeschooling so imagine an infant and homeschooling for the first time! Scheduling Crisis!!!), I remembered the craziness that comes with multiple young children (I grew up with this, remember) and I’ve accepted it. Seven months in, we’re finally settled in, and my house is never clean. But, I honestly feel like I’ve just graduated from the “easy readers” or “I Can Read” as her books are titled to something a little bit more robust like a good mystery and I can’t wait to see what the next chapter holds.

I Am Thankful

It being that Thanksgiving time of year, I feel I should do a post about what I’m thankful for. Let’s go with the first 10 things I think of.

1. My husband. So, I’ll admit, it hasn’t exactly been a terrific year for him. We added a new baby and with 3 young children I’m pretty maxed out. By the time we get them all in bed for the last time it’s 10pm or later and I’m just ready for bed. He’s so sweet, longsuffering, and patient. He tries hard to understand, but you know ladies, even I don’t understand myself half the time, I don’t see how he possibly has a chance! He’s still staying with it though and I’m really hoping that with the baby getting older I’ll be a better wife this coming year (hmm…let’s add this to the list of New Years resolutions…I’ll get back to this in a month)

2. My kids. Yes, they wear me out. Like last night I just wanted a little before dinner nap but the baby was cranky for 3 hours and just wanted to be held. Really, baby, can you not play with your mobile for 15 minutes! Poor little fella, I did enjoy snuggling him and snoozing on the couch though. Of course, those time when they come up and give you a kiss, hug, or just tell you that they love you make it all worth it!

3. The Holidays. I really love this time of year. We get Thanksgiving to review what we’re thankful for. Christmas to celebrate Christ’s birth and to spend lots of time with family. And then New Year’s so we can stay up till midnight watching some random show that we’ll then decide was the worst one we’d seen all year. Mainly, this is because my husband and I cannot agree on our holiday movie selection so we watch something non-holiday related and we always wish we’d just watched one of the holiday movies. (we’ve been doing this since the first year we were married, so why switch it up now)

4. Horrible Movies. Speaking of movies, if you want to see something laughably terrible try Santa Clause Conquers the Martins (I won this at a White Elephant Party) or Soylent Green. Either one of these will leave you wondering why you even bothered and give you something to laugh about for years to come.

5. Family. As in, lots and lots of family. I can always call one of my relatives when I need help or advice. I’m so grateful for a wonderful family and wonderful in-laws.

6. Sunshine. I love sunshine, and especially this time of year I wish for more of it. I’m a summer person so I could totally do without the cold weather and I’m grateful for any warm days I can get this time of year.

7. Music. I love my music. I love playing my instrument, watching my kids learn to play, and participating in my Church Band. It’s always a place of relaxation and refreshment for me.

8. Food. I love steak, eggs, veggies, fruits, fish, chicken (but not when I’m pregnant), licorice (I love those black licorice holiday or party canisters), milk chocolate, and coconut. I’m picky about my desserts, I don’t like my ice cream to touch my cake and I do not like it when someone dips cookies in my milk. I love to cook and I love teaching my children to cook. I’m looking forward to the day when they can do more than stir the ingredients that I put in the bowl, I can’t wait to see what they come up with (I may regret this statement in a few years…I hope they’re good cooks). Food is fuel for living and something to get everyone together for a good time. It’s so much more than just eating, it’s fun!

9. Creativity. I love trying new recipes, making things for the house, decorating (but not rearranging furniture), and anything else that strikes me as fun. Life would be so boring (and probably a lot less messy) if I never got the urge to create.

10. Friendships. What would I do without my friends? I have friends who are in the same place I am, several little children, no time for themselves, but still loving life. We can cry together, laugh together, or just sympathize. They know how it is and we give each other lots of grace because we know we all need it. I have friends who are way past me with kids all grown and they fondly remember these days (one day I’ll be there). I have friends who don’t have kids and I try not to give them too much information, seriously, I don’t want to scare them too much, they may want kids one of these days…Friendships keep me balanced, in touch with the world, and their kids are friends with my kids so we’re just perpetuating this friendship trend!