Monthly Archives: June 2014

5 Minute Homemade Playdough

imageI’ve mentioned in the past how much I love Invitations to Play. Many of these involve play dough which might just be because I enjoy making it so much. Today, I’m going to share with you, my all time favorite, “go to” play dough recipe. The best part? It only takes 5-10 minutes start to finish and uses all common ingredients. It’s also very flexible and forgiving!

HERE is the link to where I first found the recipe!


¼ cup salt

1 cup flour

2 T cream of tartar

1 cup water

1 t oil

2 t food coloring (or however much you want!)


You can also add fragrance, glitter, etc.


Mix the first 6 ingredients in a pan.

Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes stirring constantly,

It will pull away from all the edges and form a ball.

Dump onto wax paper or parchment paper and keep kneading until smooth.

Then add glitter if you want!

You can store it in a container or a Ziploc bag.

Some fun fragrance ideas:

  • Extracts
  • Fresh lemon, lime or orange
  • Scented body wash


This recipe is so quick and easy and personable, it makes wonderful last minute gifts or party favors in a cute container, it’s fun for a rainy day, and kids enjoy making it too!




A Letter to My Son

imageLately my almost-five year old has been using the same heart-wrenching phrase whenever he comes up against something he doesn’t want to do.

“But Mama! That doesn’t make me HAPPY!”

I wrote this letter as a pep-talk to myself, and I decided to share it because I thought other moms would relate!



My son,

It is not that I do not want you to be happy. I do want you to be happy. It fills my heart to nearly full when your eyes dance innocently and you break into exuberant laughter, when the pure joy of childhood seems to surround and embody you as you run around just enjoying it.

Yes, it fills my heart to nearly full when I see you happy.

But son, I have a job to do. During these few sweet years of childhood, I need to help prepare you to be a man. And adulthood is not all about being happy.

So while there are plenty of times for cuddling, playing ball, chasing each other around the yard, singing funny songs, and you telling me about your dreams, there must also be many times of learning to work harder than you feel like, having a good attitude when you’re tired, sharing a toy that you want to keep, sitting still when you want to play, being content when you don’t get something you want, being kind when someone has hurt you, and learning to trust God when you are scared.

All this and more must be learned during these years of childhood.

So while there will be plenty of fun and happy moments, there will also be many moments in the safest place possible – your home – to learn and grow and be prepared for times ahead.


Because when I see you respond rightly when tempted to get angry or share a toy you wanted to keep, you are winning spiritual battles and maturing into a man.

And those are the moments when I can see glimpses into the future of the wise and godly man you will become.

Those are the moments that my heart is not almost full; it is filled to overflowing.

- Verity

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them.” Ecc. 12:1 ESV


How to Clean Lampshades in 1 Minute

           I’ve been on a bit of cleaning kick lately. I’m not sure if it’s the fact my baby is slowly exiting the newborn stage, because my husband recently completed 6 years of seminary, because moving is on our horizon, or simply because it’s “that time of year.” Regardless, I’m exciting to share many fun cleaning tips and ideas with you over the next few (or several?) weeks!

            You know that feeling when you clean and dust your home, yet not EVERYTHING is clean? I decided to tackle an area that’s been bugging for me years. Ridiculous I know! It’s the lampshades in our living room. I had tried wiping them down at different times, but it didn’t work very well. I actually found myself getting stressed about it because they couldn’t just collect dust forever—eventually we’d have to get rid of them and I love our lamps. I knew that would be impractical. I finally looked up how to do it. I read lots of ideas, but one article made the most sense and was also the fastest, easiest and cheapest. How’s that for a win, win, win?! PLUS, it worked GREAT!

Here it is…

            All you do is grab a lint brush and rub it down your lampshade! TADA!!! I did 3 lamps in about 1 minute!


            Disclaimer: We just have normal lampshades—they feel pretty fabric like. This may not work perfectly for all types of lampshades, but it should work well for most.

            So, what are you waiting for? Go grab your lint brush (the sticky paper kind) and wipe down your lampshades. I bet you even have 1 minute to do it! Then sit back and enjoy the clean look it will bring to your home!


make a small room feel big

10 Ways to Make a Small Room Feel Big

We have 6 people living in our 900 square foot single story home. *

Our Living Room is essentially a hallway.

And 3 of our family member excel at making messes.

However, when people walk into our living room, their usual response is one of surprise and usually the comment. “Oh, you have a nice house.”

I attribute this in part to my long-running efforts (helped by my mom and mother-in-law and innumerable blogs) to make our living room feel roomy and spacious.

Here’s what I’ve used and a couple things I hope to use someday:

make a small room feel big

1. Hang Curtains High

Hanging long light-colored or sheer curtains will make the ceiling feel taller then it really is.

2. Dark Floors Drop Away

We have a white ceiling, neutral walls, and dark mahogany floors. The result is a feeling of openness. (Though if you have kids, I can’t say that dark floors are easy to upkeep…at all). They show every scratch and speck.

3. Solid Colored Matching Furniture

Patterned or furniture in a variety of colors is harder on the eyes. Multiple pieces in the same color have a calming affect. (Especially if it is a neutral color that blends with the walls.)

4. White or Light Walls

When we first moved in, we had the brilliant idea to paint our living room DARK forest green. While it was very striking, it felt VERY tiny! When it was repainted 3 years later, it felt like it doubled in size!

5. Mirrors Double Feeling of Space

I situated 2 large mirrors across from our single window to double the light.

photo 3

6. Get Rid of Clutter

Other then pictures on the walls, I’ve gotten rid of all decor and I’ve tried to store as many utilitarian items in nearby drawers.

7. Light Colored Curtains and Furniture

Light colored pieces will blend in with walls.

8. See-Through Furniture

My only piece that kind of does this is the high chair since its legs are so skinny.

9. Light

photo 1

We installed another light in the center of the room. Before that they just used lamps that gave off dim attempts at brightening the space. (ugh.) We also have bright sunlight-type of lights above the dining room table.

10. Quick Clean up System!

By the jumper you’ll notice a basket, that’s where I throw any toys that the kids leave in the living room. ThenI just pick up the basket and carry it into their room. Voila! Clean living room! :-)

I am by no means saying that my house is Better Homes and Gardens worthy. (What person with 4 children under 5 could attain that??), but by using these tricks, I am saying that our living room, the main room we eat, play, cuddle, tickle, do preschool, fold clothes, relax, do computer work, talk on the phone in, organize, feed baby, and umpteen other things in, usually feels clean and calming – even with 6 people!


A “Good” Mom

            “You’re a good Mom.” My kids have been telling me this frequently over the last few weeks. They got this idea from my sweet husband who would often reassure me with these words during the difficult last days of his seminary training. Why would he tell me this? I have no idea.  I am not a particularly GOOD mom. I’m a sinner like everyone else. I get angry with my children, frustrated at their slow rate, unhappy with my constant exhaustion and equally as constant cluttered home. I don’t like being up most of the night with a hungry baby or changing sheets yet again soaked by my 3 year old. I get discouraged day after day after day when I discipline my children for the same exact thing and see little (or no) improvement. Yet, they tell me I’m a good mom. Why?



            I recently filled out a baby shower questionnaire to give to a first time mom. One of the questions was “Why is ___________ going to be a great mom?” I thought about this question for days before responding. I was able to do this because I had left her shower early due to my own naughty children. I thought about how this friend was pretty, talented, good with children, her husband is established in a well paying job, they are involved in their church, they have family nearby, they have a lovely home, and on and on the list went. But are these reasons why someone is a good mom? How can we say that someone is a good mom when they have not yet had children? I realized there is one, and only one, reason why I can say that this friend is going to be a great mom: because she is the exact person God chose to be the mother of her baby.


            To the mom who is reading this, do you (like me) often struggle with whether or not you’re a good mom? God does not choose only perfect women to have children. In fact, he doesn’t even choose only perfect women to raise good children. He chose you to raise your children, and God has a perfect plan for you and for them.


            To the mom reading this, doing her very best to raise her children in the way God would have her to raise them, to the mom reading this discouraged by lack of results and exhaustion, to the mom reading this who feels inadequate despite her best efforts, you are a good mom because you are the exact person God chose to raise your children.




There is ALWAYS Enough Time

Good Pic of Kids

I have 4 small children under the age of 5.

But there IS always enough time.

There IS the time necessary to train, love, protect my children and enough time to be a helpmeet to my husband.

I know there is because I know that God would not bless me with more then I can handle, and I know that He commands me to train my children and help my husband.

Therefore, there HAS to be enough time.

On a more experiential note, I’ve seen again and again that there is enough time to fulfill my responsibilities as a trainer, mother, protector, and teacher, and if I make it a priority, there is (usually) enough strength to not fall asleep while my poor husband is talking to me at the end of the day. (Pacing around while we talk or a 5:00 PM coffee may be necessary.)

What there is NOT always enough time for is checking Facebook 27 times to see if people have liked my clever status, following more then a couple worthwhile blogs, staying in touch with more then just a few friends, and keeping up on more then one hobby.

There is NOT even the time to do the outside ministries I’d LOVE to do because right now – I need to remember this is my ministry.

There is NOT enough time to feel sorry for myself because I want more contact with others or more thank yous for my constant efforts to keep the house semi-clean, the kids alive, and food made. (Actually more then wanting thank yous, I’d at least like less complaining…)

It just gets down to realizing what IS important – and what’s not. When I realize what IS important, I realize there IS enough time for it.


Evaluating Minimalism when You Have Kids

photo 1People say that having kids breeds clutter.

People say kids make it difficult to embrace minimalism and simplicity.

I’ve also noticed that the majority of minimalists on the web are single – with no kids.

Why is that?

It is true that with kids comes stuff, but I think that there is also more opportunity to reevaluate values, and I believe that when you better know your values, you have more motivation for simplicity then you’d have without kids.

Is it HARDER to be a minimalist with kids? Yes! (What on earth is EASIER with kids?)

BUT it is also much more rewarding to be a minimalist with kids. You learn to cut away, cut away, cut away until you have only the valuable to pass on – only your faith, only your dreams and not all the excess that you wasted years pursuing.

And you hope they won’t lose the same time and energy on the trivial. You hope they will be happier, more content, more focused, and more mature as they learn what is necessary – and what is simply not.

This week I’ve been learning again what it is important – and what is not.

photo 2

3 years ago my son was given a set of 24 mega blocks, but with 3 kids sharing the set, the pieces were fought over so much that I was ready to toss the whole set!

But my mom came across a couple affordable matching sets at Goodwill, and I gratefully accepted them.

However, as I evaluated where on earth to stash the now overflowing tote of mega blocks in our 10X10 guest room/playroom, I wondered what I’d been thinking

After mentioning the dilemma to my husband, he asked why the answer to the kids’  fighting problem was to get more toys rather then deal with their bad attitudes.

And sure enough – after 20 minutes of elation they were fighting over the mega blocks again. (Both girls wanted all the pink, and the boy wanted to keep the little mega block man to himself – if you were wondering about the nitty gritty details.)

It caused me to step back and evaluate – again.

Did I want kids to build mega block towers or kids who were willing to share and wait their turn?

Did I want the convenience of 20 minutes to make supper in peace or kids who were content to make something out of our 24 former pieces?

I realized that too often my answer to character problems had been to purchase items to make the problem ‘go away’ rather then deal with the heart of the issue.

- A child who kept stealing her brother’s harmonica was ‘rewarded’ the following  holiday with a harmonica of her own because I was tired of having to punish her and deal with his frustration.

-A child who wouldn’t share the train set cars was ‘rewarded’ when I just picked up a couple more train set cars because I was tired of the shrieks and tears every time they played trains.

Like any parent, I love my kids, but it takes a tough love to stop what you’re doing, and help them to be content (37+ times a day).

For now, we’re keeping the big box in the play room, but I’m slowly learning my lesson. True love for my children does not come in the form of a new toy or set, and helping them enter life as content, joyful adults will be far better then me getting a little more done around the house during the few minutes I’ve bought for myself while they play with a new set or game.


Toddler Chore Chart

photo 2Several months ago we implemented simple chores into the kids’ morning routine.

The issue I immediately ran into was that toddlers need a way to keep track of what chores to do, but they can’t READ a list.

(And I REALLY don’t like nagging … er …having to be their verbal reminder)

All the charts I found online had the chore list written out and then a picture next to each item, but I decided to simplify the chart down to the bare bones, and this has worked wonderfully.

I also tacked each of the charts on their favorite color of card stock, put the first letter of their names on the top (because they can recognize ‘their’ name letter), and stuck it in protective sleeves.

As soon as we finish breakfast each morning, I put the charts in a central location, and they check their charts.

They usually race each other to finish, and I recently started rewarding the winner of the race with a nickel.

photo 1

On smooth mornings, we are dressed, with a clean house, and ready to start school half an hour after my husband leaves for work. (Not every morning is smooth, but even on rougher mornings the charts help the kids take responsibility, give us a stronger start and take pressure off.) I also made a chart for before supper. (The times I remember to use it, it works great, but we don’t usually get to it before my husband gets home.)

So these are the toddler chore charts that have worked for us. :-)