Wednesday, February 25, 2015

March Madness

Disclosure: The links in this post are affiliate links. I was not compensated for writing this post, but Family Christian provided merchandise certificates for me to purchase some of the products you'll see below. All ideas included in this post are mine and the opinions are entirely my own.

All this snow and ice has really gotten me thinking about basketball. Here in the South we may not be huge football fans but we certainly love some college basketball!  As the season swings into high gear I've got 6 things you can do now to get ready for March Madness. So get your pom-poms out and get ready for some hoops!

Number One

Make a t-shirt to show your team spirit. I got some Tulip fashion paint from Family Christian and took some t-shirts I had stashed away and painted some catchy team related phrases onto these T-shirts. I made this one for my husband...

I'd rather be lost in Raleigh than found in Chapel Hill

...and this one for my son.

Finally, I made this adorable little one for my niece.

I only cry when Duke fans hold me

"See! This is how I cry!"

Number Two

Decorate your house with this trendy wreath. You can make one in your favorite team colors. You can get 10 yds of Deco Mesh Ribbon at Family Christian for $9.99 and that's plenty enough to make one wreath. Add some ribbon and other embellishments and hang it on your door to let guests know which team you're rooting for.

We made this one for our house.

We made this one for my mom's house.

Number Three

ACC Basketball Pennant printable made by yours truly for your personal use.


Just string it up and hang like a garland wherever you'll be watching the games. So cute and easy!

Free Printable

Note: My garland is missing the Duke pennant because we can't have that nastiness hanging around in our house. Kidding! It's because my printer ran out of blue ink at the last minute, but I'm not crying about it.

Number Four

Bake some basketball treats! You can get a cake pop pan or a mini muffin pan and bake up some basketball treats like the ones linked below. Wouldn't your kids love coming home from school to such a fun snack?

Basketball Whoopie Pies from MomEndeavors
Basketball Mini Cupcakes
Basketball Cupcakes from Betty Crocker
Basketball Cake Balls from Cutest Food

Or you can stash some basketball themed snacks into your kiddos lunch boxes. Here's an orange I threw into Julianna's lunch today and it took me less than 2 minutes to draw the bball lines on it. Easy peasy!

Number Five

Read a sports themed book, devotional, or watch a basketball related movie. There are lots of good ones listed below and there are plenty of lessons to be learned from the greats (both coaches and players). Plus, sports themes go well with Biblical lessons of perseverance, dedication, endurance, pursuit of the goal, strength, and training. I got this one to read through with my son each night.

Number Six

Go ahead and fill out your tournament brackets. My family has been known to put a giant white board up on our mantel and see who gets the most guesses right throughout the games.  Here's a link to the ACC Tournament bracket (games March 10 - 14) and the NCAA Tournament which starts March 19th.

Right now you can get free shipping on any $50 order at Family Christian and you can always ship for free to your local store. It's a great time to order some crafting supplies and get ready for March Madness!

Free Shipping Learn How

This post was a lot of fun! I hope it's encouraged you to get into the spirit of March Madness! Even if you don't decorate your house, host a basketball themed party, or read a sports devotional, I hope you'll enjoy watching a game or two. Goodness knows those of us who live here in ACC territory will be glued to our seats with our Wolf, I mean foam fingers raised high!

I'd love to know:
Do you like football or basketball best?
Which basketball team is your favorite? Is your house divided?
Who do you think will win the ACC Tournament?
How about that NC State/Carolina game last night, huh?

what i love Wednesday

Have you seen The Tonight Dough, Ben and Jerry's new ice cream flavor? Do I even need to say anything about this other than "Caramel and Chocolate Ice Creams with Chocolate Cookie Swirls and Gobs of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Peanut Butter Cookie Dough?"


Sequin Skirts
My friend from college is making these GORGEOUS skirts. They are coming soon to MyLovelyYou Boutique. Check out her Etsy shop to order.


Teach Your Monster to Read
You probably know that I'm a computer teacher and like most of the eastern side of the country right now, we've been out of school. Josh has spent a lot of time playing Teach Your Monster to Read and it's by the Usborne Foundation so you know it's gotta be good, right? He sits a few feet away from me and needs virtually no help to figure it out. He advances from skill to skill and he laughs out loud along the way. It's completely free and you can print parent reports to see your child's progress.  If you have a little guys learning to read, I think you should take a look at this site. (And no, they didn't pay me to say this.)


Coffee With A Story
Chick-fil-a's new coffee is scrumptious! Throughout February, nationwide you can get free coffee all day at your local CFA. My favorite is the Vanilla Iced Coffee, but it's really sweet so if you don't like coffee with your sugar I suggest you try the original. But do try it. YUM!


What are you loving lately? Leave me some love in the comments.

Monday, February 23, 2015


Yesterday I made a few things for us to eat on this week and I posted this picture on Instagram.

A few people have asked for the recipes so here they are.


Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

Chocolate Granola Bar Bites

1 cup oats
1 cup other mix-ins (I use shredded coconut, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, and chia seeds)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil

Melt peanut butter, coconut oil, and honey on low on stove top. Turn off the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir until mixed and spoon into mini muffin cups. Chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

You could use a glass baking dish if you don't have a mini-muffin pan. You'd just have to cut them into squares when they've set.

You could also use other dried fruits and a variety of nuts would work well. You could try other variations with butterscotch chips, white chocolate, etc. My entire family loves these and one or two of them satisfies my sweet tooth with a lot less calories than cookies or candy.


At Winter Jam a while back Josh kept asking me question after question and because it was so loud I had to lean way in and get him to talk into my ear. Then when I answered I would turn my mouth to him so he could hear. Well, after a half dozen questions he paused and turned to me and then politely said, "Mom, thanks for answering my questions but next time can you please not spit in my ear?"


Since there were ten music groups performing at Winter Jam there were a lot of set changes and they filled the time with preaching or commercial plugs for various organizations and collections for non-profits. During one of these down times Josh looked at me and simply said, "Mom, I thought we were coming here to hear people sing!?"


"Mom, my corndog has a butt!"
[followed by massive amounts of little boy giggles}


With all of the wintery weather we had last week Jules and I only had school on Monday but Josh's private preschool school went Monday, Thursday and Friday. Well, Thursday and Friday I had to repeatedly explain to a persistent five year old that he would be appreciative of those days that he went to school and we didn't when June rolls around and we were still going and he was not. He simply could not get on board with that kind of thinking and the whining was incessant. In one of the many conversations about how glad he'd be to be out of school in the summer when Jules and I still had to go he scolded me, "No I won't, Mom! There's mosquitoes in the summer!"


Julianna stayed with my mom and dad one day when we were out of school due to snow. She shoveled the ice off one section of their walkway and they paid her some money. When I came to pick her up she proudly showed me the money and said, "Look mom!" I asked her where she got it and she told me she shoveled snow and then quickly added, "I was going to do it for free but..." Mom said when she asked Jules how much she charged Julianna just looked at her funny. When mom asked, "About a dollar?" Julianna replied, "Oh at least a dollar and a half!"


On of my children said they were, "Hot. In both ways."


Thursday, February 19, 2015

incentives for grades, etc + why I believe running is good for my children

When I was growing up, my parents certainly believed in incentives. My dad is a forward-thinking man that's not afraid to do something a little different than everyone else and he is very financially motivated. He would often come up with ideas to try to convince my sister and I to behave a certain way or perform some way in particular. We were paid for good grades and even though that often came in the form of I.O.U. notes in our money jar I was still somehow a good student.

I don't think it was the money alone that convinced me to do well in school although I'm sure it helped. I think overall it was the expectation that my parents had that I do well. Nevertheless, the money didn't hurt their cause and I rarely got a C on a report card and I never got a D or an F.

This is the first year that Julianna has gotten a report card with actual grades on it. In Forsyth County students in Kindergarten through second grade only get report cards with E, S, N, and Us on them but when they finally reach third grade (the big year when state testing begins) their report cards show both a number and a letter grade (A, B, C, D, or F).

For Kindergarten, first, and second grade we rewarded Julianna with a special outing every time she received a good report card. We'd let her pick somewhere out of the ordinary that she wanted to go and then we'd do it. Josh just got to come along for fun. Usually she picked roller skating, ice skating, putt-putt, or Chuck E. Cheese. This worked pretty well for us and she never brought home what we considered to be a poor report card.

Now that she's in third grade, receiving actual number grades, and in HAG we really felt like rewarding her with something more when she brought home a first quarter report card that was straight As. Jonathan decided to give her money for each A and she was thrilled.

The new school and the challenge of being in a gifted classroom where suddenly she is not the smartest in the class has been really difficult for Jules. We're a little over halfway through the school year and there have been quite a few nights we've been in tears because she's felt like it has been a lot of work and she's also felt frustration at not understanding new concepts especially when the others in her class seem to understand. Mom and Dad have had added stress from the number of projects required outside of class.

Even so, we've tried to only pressure her to do her best and not worry about her project grades, not worry about the other kids, just be satisfied that's she's done what she's capable of. We've tried to emphasize that grades are important because they impact your future but they're more important because they indicate how YOU can perform and how hard YOU work. I hope we've gotten the point across that the end result is not as important to us as the process she takes to get there. If she's happy with how hard she's worked, then I can be happy with that. She brought home straight As on her second quarter report card and we paid her for those As as well.


A year or so ago when Julianna did the Run for God 5k with us I had the idea that perhaps I should pay her for running. I briefly discussed it with Jonathan and he didn't think it was as good of an idea as I did so we nixed it and went on with life. We all ran the 5k, Julianna placed first in her age group (pictures on that page linked above), and she has run off and on since then (the last year and a half).

Over Christmas break this past year I started thinking about how I could encourage my kids to get moving some more. Again, the idea popped into my head to offer a paid incentive for them to run around the neighborhood with me. Without being in the regular habit of meeting for Run for God, the kids had really gotten out of the habit of exercising at all other than what little they do at school. (What little exercise they actually get at school is a whole other soapbox topic that I could spout off about on another day.) Plus, Julianna had recently taken the dog on several walks and I thought maybe she'd like to do it more if I offered to pay her.

I talked with Jonathan again and he said he would support it if I wanted to pay them $1/mile so I told the kids that I wanted to give them $1 for every mile they ran this year. They seemed indifferent at the time but they weren't going to argue with someone offering to give them money.

Now every time they say they're bored I ask if they want to go run around the neighborhood with me. Most of the time they don't want to go. I still believe that they'll run more this year than if I hadn't offered to pay them.

Here's why I believe my kids should be encouraged to run and rewarded when they do.

I talked about the sense of community that running fosters here. It's important to me that my children see the relationships that running builds. When you feel like you're a part of something bigger than yourself it makes you want to be a better person. When you relate to total strangers because you have shared interests it makes you feel good and there's a huge bolster in morale when you receive encouragement from someone who doesn't know you from Adam. My kids may never win awards or break records, I surely don't, but they can also be a part of a special family that cheers for each other and lifts each other up.

Coping With Stress
Running Helps Young Girls Cope With Pre-Teen Stress. We don't often realize it but our kids are under a lot of stress too. "Adolescent girls are twice as likely as boys to suffer anxiety and depression," says the article. "Running skills such as breathing and endurance help girls connect with themselves at a time in their lives when they are under pressure to conform." Anybody can run, but young girls especially can benefit from it.

Builds Confidence and Lifts Mood
Running makes you feel powerful. It makes you feel like you can do anything. When you complete a tough run you get a huge confidence boost and wonder why you ever thought you couldn't do it. When you're thinking, "should have," "could have," or "would have" all the time it's hard to have high self-esteem. On the other hand when you're thinking, "I can't believe I just..." it's hard not it. Plus, I know my husband can take one look at me when I've had a bad day and he'll simply say, "You need to go for a run" and we'll need all the help we can get with mood swings as my daughter enters adolescence.

Running teaches lessons about quitting, endurance, and perseverance, all lessons that could not be more valuable in life.

Heart Health
Running is simply good for our hearts. Our hearts are muscular organs that have to be worked in order to stay strong. Running works our heart muscles and helps us stay fit. Running helps us maintain a healthy weight. In addition, kids who play sports are also less likely to smoke later in life which might prevent heart disease.

Quality Time
My love language is quality time and running with my kids allows us to spend quality time together. We can talk about whatever they want when we run together just like my training group and I complain about our busy weeks, our aches and pains, and discuss the latest books we've read. If they don't already, my kids will come to realize that they have my undivided attention when we run together and that is time well spent.

Healthy Competition
Running teaches you to compete with yourself more than you compete with others. The only person you have to be better than is the person you were yesterday. A mile is a mile no matter if it takes you twelve minutes or six minutes.

Athletes Perform Better in School
Time and time again studies have shown that athletes do better in school. They have higher grades and better attendance. Of course, this goes for all sports but runners are not excluded. When you're involved in sports your coaches encourage (or require) you to keep your grades up. There are extra tutors available. You have to be at school in order to compete in the games. Because you are disciplined enough to be an athlete, you are typically disciplined enough to do well academically.

Running is Flexible
My daughter has played soccer, softball, taken dance, and gymnastics at one point or another and she may or may not stick with those throughout her life but she can always run. She won't have to wait for the season to start and she won't have to wait for the right location or lesson. She can just run. And I hope she does.


I don't think I've ever mentioned it on my blog, but in 2010 when Julianna was just four and a half she ran her first timed race. It was the Mission Mile put on by Fleet Feet and benefited the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission. Jonathan and I did the 5k I believe and Julianna ran the one mile race.

At this point in her life she really hadn't participated in organized sports. She had taken dance and played soccer at a little camp but the girl wanted a trophy or a medal and she hadn't gotten one yet. Honestly, we wanted to do the race so we (selfishly?) talked it up to her and then we ordered her a medal ahead of time since we knew they wouldn't be giving them out for this race. It was only a couple of dollars from Oriental Trading Company.

She ran that whole stinkin' mile until she rounded the corner and came upon the finish line. All of those people gathered at the end cheering near the finish line corral overwhelmed her and scared her to the point of stopping in the middle of the street and refusing to move again for several minutes. Other runners passed us over and over again as we stood there looking at each other, me begging her to move. She turned and would have run off the course if she'd known where to go. I reached for her hand but she wouldn't come forward any more.

I never wanted to write about this publicly because I know it would embarrass her. The thing is that there are few times that I've been as proud of her. Somehow she got over the shock of seeing all of those people looking at her and she finished the race. I don't know how much the medal played a part of her finding the courage to run those last few meters to the finish line, but I do know that it's one thing I told her about to try to encourage her to get going again. For whatever reason, the kid finished her race and we gave Jules her medal. Proudly.

I want to know:
How do you reward your children? 
Do you use incentives to try to encourage your kids to behave a certain way?
Do you think I'm crazy for agreeing to pay my kids $1/per mile run this year?
Finally, how much do you think they've earned so far?


Don't forget about my review of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand or entering the giveaway for a $25 certificate to Family Christian. Hurry! Contest closes Friday at midnight!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

ten more ways to beat cabin fever

You've been through all of the board games and the kids are fighting and you can't even think straight anymore. What do you do? Honestly, I don't really know but I do have a handful of ideas. Last year I brought you Ten Ways to Beat Cabin Fever and today I'm talking about 10 More Ways to Beat cabin Fever.

We just got our first snow this year in WSNC but I know all of you northerners have been hit pretty hard for a while now so I thought it would be a good time to talk about what you could do inside to fight boredom. Grab your kids and sit them down for some of these fun indoor activities when the winter blues hit!

1. Make a T-shirt. There are a gazillion ideas on Pinterest for T-shirt crafts. I've got a post on creating your favorite team shirt coming up soon.

2. Make tic-tac-toe pizza.

3. Write a letter to the future you. Encourage your kids to sit down with you and tell their future selves some things. You can ask them some questions to get them thinking. For example, what do you wish for yourself in the future? What do you hope your life will be like? What do regret or wish you'd done differently? Do you imagine yourself as being happy? What's the most important thing in your life right now? You can write about those things.

You can also use this website to type the letter and it will actually be sent to you on that future date.

4. Plan your summer vacation. Okay, I simply have to give a shameless plug here for our condo at the beach but of course you don't have to plan your summer vacation to Myrtle Beach. There are lots of fun things that you and your kids can do to start thinking ahead to your big family trip. You can gather things from around the house and put together activity bags for the car rides. You can research activities to do while your there. You could give the kids a budget to stick to and see what they come up with. You can also write out a meal plan or itinerary and when the kids get to offer input they'll be more apt to not complain when you get there.

7. Watch some basketball! I don't know about where you are but I live in ACC territory and college basketball games can be relatively inexpensive and a lot of fun. On any given night of the week we can usually find a basketball game going on somewhere near us.

If you can't get to a game, then dig out your sand pails from the beach last summer and set them up Bozo the Clown style and see how many baskets the kids can make in succession before they miss one.

8. Create a new Zentangle. Here's the most recent one I started while waiting for Julianna to finish piano yesterday.

9. Give your kids your digital camera to play with. Send them to another room and see what they come back with. When they're finished you can even have a funny selfie contest.

10. Take out a deck of cards and a couple of dice. Have each kid choose a card and roll the dice. The numbers on the dice correspond to these twelve exercises and the card they choose tells them how many of that exercise they have to do. The game is over when everyone has finished 5 sets of exercises.

  • 1 = run up the stairs
  • 2 = tag the front door, the back door, and any side doors in your house
  • 3 = jumping jacks
  • 4 = arm circles forward and then back
  • 5 = sit-ups
  • 6 = leg raises
  • 7 = squat jumps
  • 8 = high knees
  • 9 = heel kicks
  • 10 = bicep curls
  • 11 = kids choice
  • 12 = 10 second wall sits

Bonus points if you can get your kids to alphabetize your bookshelves or DVD collection.

Now I want to know: How do you beat cabin fever?


Edited to add: Hahaha I just saw a spot on the TODAY Show about beating cabin fever and they included a few of my same ideas. Remember this? We took a piece of poster board and cut big holes in it and hung it in a door frame in order to fly our paper airplanes through.

Monday, February 16, 2015

unbroken review {+ $25 certificate giveaway}

I was not paid for this post, however Family Christian did send me a copy of Unbroken to read and review and an appreciation certificate. The links below are affiliate links. As always, the opinions expressed below are my own.

My husband and sister both read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand a while back and recommended it to me so I already had it on my To Read list when Family Christian offered to send me a copy to review. This best-selling book is the story about Louis Zamperini, an American runner with a difficult childhood and his fascinating survival of WWII.

Laura Hillenbrand also wrote Seabiscuit which my family loved so I knew if that was any indication then this would be a great book. I was not wrong. This true story will fill your heart with wonder and amazement as you marvel at what our bodies can do and withstand.

You know how sometimes you feel like there's no point in trying anymore? You feel like the enemy is dragging you down over and over again and you don't know how it can possibly happen one more time. I've been there and felt that despair. I've been jobless, depressed, hopeless, and while no, I haven't lost everything like Job did I most certainly have felt the sharks circling the figurative waters near me.

I really felt like God intended for me to read this book. I could relate to so many parts of it and I think at some point we can all say that we have been familiar with that feeling of going through a trial or tribulation and feeling like you're at the bottom. I still can't believe that I actually finished that first marathon. Many of us can speak firsthand about feeling like God used a nobody to do something great. We've all been broken, but God's message is clear; Only He can bring us through suffering to redemption. Louis Zamperini's story will have you rooting for redemption and mesmerized at his despair. This book is one you don't want to skip.

You may have also heard a lot about the movie. It's been in theaters recently and comes out on DVD on March 27th. I think it looks amazing and right now the movie is available for pre-order online.  If you sign up for Family Christian's emails you often get 20% and 30% off coupons or with the 20% off coupon here the book is only $12.80. Also, when you pre-order the Unbroken DVD from Family Christian you get a 3 DVD set called My Hope America for free.


Lucky for you, Family Christian has also offered to send one of my readers a $25 gift certificate! You can use it to buy the book, the movie or something else altogether. There are multiple ways to enter. Just use the widget below before Friday. Good luck!

Enter to win a $25 Certificate to Family Christian!

One final bit of good news:
Congratulations to Allison T who was selected as the winner of the Disney Prize Pack.
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