Monday, December 24

happiest holidays

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays
        from our family to you!

Wednesday, December 19

Saturday, December 15


All day my prayers have been that the Lord would surround every parent, sibling, relative and friend who lost a loved one today in Connecticut. That He would surround them, hold them, and comfort them. That He would provide the best people to support them, grieve with them, listen to them and cry with them in the days, weeks and years to come. My heart and prayers have gone out to them all day and I am simply overcome with grief knowing many parents won’t be tucking in their little ones to bed tonight. Please join me in praying for all who have been touched by this unimaginable tragedy.

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.
 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
 I call as my heart grows faint;
 lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
 For you have been my refuge,
 a strong tower against the foe.
 I long to dwell in your tent forever
 and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.

Psalm 61:1-4

Wednesday, December 12


... we cut some paper snowflakes and checked to see how well they fell before we hung them up.

The boys get better each year as their finger muscles get stronger!

I decorated the front door. This might be my favorite so far.

We inherited a nice train set from my father and my husband set it up in the basement and added some of his trains that were passed down from his father. The kids have really enjoyed playing with it. Thanks, Dad!

We went for walks in the woods.

my husband making "hunting" spears for the boys!

sailing a boat

We took our family Christmas photo over the weekend. I really like how it turned out and I will post it later.

And we have already started baking cookies. We made Snickerdoodles on Sunday and they are easy and delicious! Check out the recipe here.

If you want to make your own virtual snowflake, check out this little link!

Thursday, November 29

little advent envelopes

On November 30th, after the kids are asleep, I put up a ribbon and hang 25 little envelopes on it. Inside are little things to get the kids thinking about family, neighbors, friends and those in need. The next morning, the kids take turns opening and reading the cards inside and we follow the instructions. These are some of the things the cards say:

- Make and hang edible gifts for the birds

- Make potato stamp cards for family and friends

- Collect some toys and clothes of your own and give to someone in need

- Bake cranberry oatmeal cookies and share with neighbors

- Sing Christmas songs together as a family and drink some eggnog!

In today’s culture there is so much emphasis and focus on one’s self and I think it has gone a bit overboard. To counteract this tidal wave of materialism and consumerism I try to get the kids to focus on giving, getting them excited about ways serve others and enjoy simple family activities together!

This simple advent calendar activity is a way to implement all of those ideas in easy ways that work for our family. I customize each day’s activity according to who will be around and available that day. If it is an especially busy day, I slip in an easy peasy activity that doesn’t take up a lot of time and energy.

Here are a couple other things we did here, here and here!

This is where I got the inspiration to do this! There is an envelope template included!


Tuesday, November 20

being busy, thankful and not enough

I have been in more than I have been out over the last two weeks.
And it’s o.k.
I have packed quite a bit in since August and I am relishing this time of slowing down.

A brief rundown of things that filled the last three months:

Started up another year of home school

Signed the boys up for a weekly gym class – best thing ever!

Threw a fantastic 40th birthday party for my husband

Multiple trips to parks and nature hikes

Science Center field trip

Mummified an apple

Volunteered a lot at our church for various ministries

Slipped a lot of money under pillows – the boys have lost a lot of teeth lately

Ordered more home school books

Went to a women’s conference and heard Sharon Betters speak! She has written some very powerful books! If you have lost a child or endured incredible challenges lately, I strongly encourage you to get one of her books!  

Filled the role of a roadie twice

Was down and out with a terrible head cold for a week

Did a photo shoot that challenged me to figure more stuff out with my new camera

Did a ton of science experiments with the boys

Baked homemade cinnamon rolls, pretzels and pizzas

Said goodbye to our very old and dear television

Balanced wearing the nurse hat while two of my boys got sick

Pulled out and went through the boy’s winter clothes and was perplexed why all of my boy’s pants are now capris

Promptly measured my boys and smiled when I realized that they had both grown over an inch over the last four months

Became the landlord of a snail

Threw an Egyptian themed birthday party for my youngest

Hunkered down and survived Hurricane Sandy

Carved spooky pumpkins

Co-hosted a friends 40th birthday party

Tried out new recipes from Pinterest


Went to a campfire, sing-a-long, s’mores-fest!

Endured a painful, oh-so-painful root canal


Some pictures...

Fall weather has settled in Maryland quite nicely.
Tangerines, pomegranates and bags of mixed nuts at the grocery store confirm that fall has indeed arrived. Around this time of year, I succumb to my urge to crochet something and I pull out my yarn and hooks and begin to create something, anything.
Crocheting is relaxing to me and I am a big believer in keeping hands busy!

I am very thankful for lots of things in my life right now but mostly for knowing that I do not have the strength to do any of this stuff in my life by myself. I am reminded of that daily. I am human and constantly fail at reaching my personal level of achievement. I see it, my husband sees it, as do my kids. This keeps me grounded.
But at the same time it gives me hope knowing that I can draw on my Heavenly Father’s strength at any time, know that I am forgiven and that He sees me as perfect!

This song has been on my heart lately. Enjoy!

Have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving! ~ Inge

Oh, and I am making my delicious Carrot Soufflé again!!
Click here for this mouthwatering recipe!

Thursday, October 25

Link Love #3 ~ keepin' little hands busy

I have always loved making things with my hands. I remember my mother teaching my sister and me how to sew when we were very young. The first thing I made was a pillow. Soon I moved onto making heart shaped pillows with a single ribbon sewn and tied in a bow on the front. I remember giving one to a lady who was visiting us and she took it with her back to India where she was a missionary. I thought it was so neat that something I made was in India.

I think it is important that children’s hands have something to build, stack, mush, organize, dig, pour, balance, etc. That is one of the things I loved about my childhood: the environment my parents intentionally provided for us. My parents had a very modest income as they served the church and our community but they made sure that we had what we needed and my parents were very resourceful and creative with the rest. For building blocks, my father cut up two-by-fours into small, medium, large and triangular blocks and all five of us kids played with them for hours and hours and hours. I am not kidding. I remember going to the basement with my siblings to play blocks. Peter, my oldest brother, was in charge of dividing the blocks evenly between the siblings when we played Town. Those blocks were used for marble runs, castles, mazes, obstacle courses and countless other purposes that kept us entertained.

We also spent a lot of time building, drawing, cutting, painting, creating and using our imagination. Television was very limited until we got older. I think this is a major reason why all of my siblings are very creative in one way or another.

I love getting inspiration from these websites that help me think of new ways to keep my boys hands busy. They encourage me to do something fun, simple or challenging with the kids.

Take a look and see if you get inspired to make something too!

Made by joel has some really cute ideas to do with your kids. My boys and I made the zip line a while back and loved it!

The long thread has some really great ideas too.  I plan on doing this with the kids soon!

Tinkerlab has a whole section on fun science stuff for kids.

Check out this cute sewing basket over at inner child fun!!!

Make has some cool things to build with older children.

And for some brainy play, check out E is for Explore

My mom and dad and my siblings.  I am on my mother's lap.  There are a lot of little hands to keep busy!

Saturday, October 13

Link Love #2 ~ Scratch!

Our top favorite site is Scratch!

“Scratch is a programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art -- and share your creations on the web.
As young people create and share Scratch projects, they learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.”

It is Free to download and associated with MIT Media Lab. You can check out their website here! I like the fact that there are no bugs or pop-up windows on their site.

Within the first hour of playing around with Scratch, my then six and eight-year-olds were making their own animations. Brilliant! My boys are lucky because they have friends and cousins who are older than them and have shown them a lot of helpful hints and such. But even with out that, your kids (and you too) can figure it out by trial and error. They even have tutorials on the site as well. There is also a page set up specifically for educators!

It is really fun! I have played around with it and made my own little animations as well.

My kids don’t upload their creations to the site yet, as I think they are a bit young for that.  But they do build and create their own games and stories and could spend hours on them; if I let them.

My nine-year-old is now making his own games with Scratch. And they are fun and hard to win. When I play one of his latest games he has updated or tweaked, he is so sweet and changes the level to “easy” so I can play it.

The best way I can describe Scratch is that it is a super fun way of learning programming language but in an easy way using bricks to build it!

Check it out and tell me what you think!

Friday, October 5

Link Love #1 ~ LEGO® fun

Having three boys stretches me. It stretches me to grow beyond my circle of interests and I love it. I often peruse the internet to find videos or websites that take them to the next step in the things they are interested in. They love what I find and share with them. It inspires them (and me) to think out of the box, to build something or it merely starts turning another gear in the back of their growing brains and it shows up in a completely different way than I expected. They are sponges and soak up everything at this age and I try to take full advantage of it!

Over the next week or two I’ll share some links that the boys and I really like. So check back and if you see something you like, pass it on to a friend. I think the more collaborative parents can be the better it is for all of us! 

We Loooove LEGO®!!!

The boys often check the LEGO® website to play games and check for new products.

Some other cool things on the LEGO® website are:

~ You can download any LEGO® building directions for free here! This has come in handy many times as we have picked up a box or two of LEGO® at yard sales and didn't have the directions to go with them.

~ If your LEGO® set is missing some pieces you can order the pieces here!

~ You can sign the kids up for the LEGO® Club where they receive a free magazine every other month.

If you have a reluctant reader who loves LEGO® I would encourage you to check out some LEGO® beginner reader books at your local library. If they don’t have them, ask the librarian if they could order them.

Also, my boys look forward to getting the LEGO® magazine and read the entire magazine from front to back. They get stuck on some words but their desire to read the whole magazine has really helped their reading skills.

We bought a couple Power Functions motors and the kids love them. We plan on buying more as their ideas keep expanding on what they can build next. These are great for budding engineers.

There are also LEGO® leagues for kids to join where the missions is

“…to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.”

You can even start your very own LEGO® club!

We love LEGO® contraptions and really like this video:

and this LEGO® loom machine is cool too

Also, we have had our share of LEGO® themed birthday parties. Here are two links that have inspired me in one way or another!

LEGO® Party #1

LEGO® Party #2

I hope you enjoyed these links!

Have fun!!

Monday, October 1


I had the chance to hang out with my almost-nine-year-old niece this week and we painted our nails together. It was fun. My husband strongly dislikes the smell of finger nail polish so I rarely do my own nails. Also, being a mother doesn’t allow much down time for painting nails either. So, since I was at her house, I jumped at the chance!

She used a light-purple, crackle-polish over a bright orange. I used her Hello Kitty nail polish and painted my fingers in fun, rainbow colors. I topped it off with some glittery nail polish. I couldn’t stop smiling at how silly my nails looked, but it was fun spending time with her.

Note to self:

Skip the green Hello Kitty fingernail polish next time. I think it has permanently stained my ring-finger nails.

(I found out you can buff your nails or soak your nails in lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide to get the stain off. I buffered my nails and the stain came off just fine!)  

Friday, September 28

cinnamon buns & enjoying the ride

We made cinnamon buns a while back and even though the kitchen was a wild mess at the end, we had a blast. I am learning more and more how to step back and let my children do more for themselves. It is hard at times to let go…knowing I could pour the two cups of flour easily with minimal amounts of flour particles billowing into the air.

But I’ve realized over time that letting my children make mistakes is their best teaching tool; even in the kitchen. For some mothers, that sounds like nails on a chalkboard. But my kids know where the paper towels, napkins, rags, hand broom and dust pan are and when they inevitably spill something they say, “oops!” and scurry to clean it up properly. I tell them it is alright to make mistakes and that they now know how to be more careful next time; and they are.

Our fancy-shmancy cinnamon rolls came from my Betty Crocker recipe book.
 We had fun mixing the yeast and kneading the dough, watching the dough rise and their favorite…rolling out the dough.

I can’t decide which is sweeter:
 the cinnamon buns or my sons tiny hands pulling the thread around the cinnamon roll.

 "We have to bake them first!"

When the cinnamon rolls were finished baking, we poured a simple vanilla, powdered sugar icing on top. Yum!

I love how simple and yet tasty the Betty Crocker recipes are.

Their recipes are perfect for this busy stage in my life.

I know there will be plenty of opportunities in the future when I will have the time to hunt down obscure ingredients, but for now, I am focusing on making memories with my children and not competing for a blue ribbon.


I will leave you with my favorite quote from the movie Parenthood (1989).

[Gil has been complaining about his complicated life; Grandma wanders into the room]

Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.
Gil: Oh?
Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!
Gil: What a great story.
Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.

Bake something with your kids. Get messy. Enjoy the ride!

{ What do you or your kids love to bake? }

Thursday, September 6


I stumbled upon Color Me Katie’s blog a while ago and found it happy and, well, happy! When life gets blue, I bypass my regular news websites and choose to focus on positive things to keep moving. Those things are, in order; God’s promises in the Bible, going down my mental list of things I am forever thankful for, extra sleep, eating healthy food, saying no to unnecessary stuff, calling family, taking a walk and perusing happy/inspiring websites.

When I saw the little things Katie did around her neighborhood just to make someone smile, I giggled. Check out this link that inspired me to paint my own little rock. I have it outside my door and every time I walk in my house I smile.

I may just make some more and put them around the neighborhood!

Tuesday, September 4

little milestones

I remember when I was a little girl and I wanted nothing more than to learn how to whistle. My two older brothers and my older sister could whistle. In my head, they whistled like song birds and so I practiced all day long to try to make a single note. I clearly remember the pure joy and excitement that followed when I finally, finally learned how to form my little cheeks and lips to whistle! I was so happy to share my new talent with my siblings and parents.

Learn to whistle; Check!

This week my youngest experienced pure joy from reaching yet another childhood milestone; blowing a bubble with bubble gum. I know he is almost seven, but I rarely give my kids gum, because I am smart like that, and they have had few chances to practice. So when I handed the boys a piece of bubble gum this week my youngest was determined to learn this whole bubble blowing thing and practiced like an Olympian athlete. Chomp, chomp, chomp, silence…….chomp, chomp, chomp, silence…. “almost!” He finally got it and could barely keep the bubble gum in his mouth because he was smiling so big and giggling.

Learn to blow a bubble with bubble gum; Check!

If you are lacking in your bubble gum,
bubble blowing skills here is a little tutorial.