Picture Storybooks Worth Re-Reading

Favorite wholesome picture books worth re-reading There is one point that parents, researchers, and teachers universally agree on: reading to your children is incredibly important.

Reading enhances your child’s imagination, increases his vocabulary, introduces him to unknown lands, and provides a wonderful excuse to cuddle on the couch together.

I shared a few of our favorite picture books here and here but thought it would be fun to compile a growing list of picture books we’ve read again and again… and will read countless more times.

My criteria are simple: the books must be consistent with a Christian world-view (though not necessarily written by Christian authors) and be well-written and illustrated. Books that explore our rich heritage or introduce other cultures are extra-beneficial. Occasionally there is a line or two that I disagree with, but that opens up the door for great discussions, right?

“There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!”
—-Emily Dickinson

Picture books worth re-reading

You may notice that I don’t have any Bible story books. The Bible is the most important book to read aloud with our children, but after flipping through multiple children’s Bible storybooks, we came to the simple conclusion that reading the Bible, just the Bible, is enough for our family. (I’ve been pleasantly shocked at just how much little children can understand! The greatest theologians will never fully plunge the wealth of mystery and paradox in the grand story, but even a child can worship its Hero.)
What picture books get worn out through countless re-readings at your home? I’m always on the lookout for great books to add to our collection!
 I’ve not been able to find the artist of the image above. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know! 

  May be linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeHealthy 2Day ,Works for MeWalking RedeemedGraced SimplicityFabulously Frugal & Simple Lives

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

Look to Jesus

After a stressful and taxing week, I had a few quiet minutes in the van alone. I was feeling worn thin with tiring projects and overwhelmed by the chaos of my schedule. I had been snappy with the kids and prideful in my expectations of others.

Alone in the car, I grew more and more depressed. The more I looked at my attitude, the more discouraged I got.

Then the words that my dad wisely shared with me when I was younger and went to him discouraged came to mind. “Stop looking at yourself,” he’d say, “Look to Jesus.”

That simple encouragement, grounded in Hebrews 12:1, is the solution to so many of a believer’s problems.

When you’re wallowing in self-pity or self-despair, look to Jesus. He promised that by beholding Him, we’d be changed to be more like Him.

When pride’s ugly head swells up, look to Jesus. He spoke the world into being, commands the worship of angels, and humbled Himself to be made man and die for us. Any cause for pride dies away at that thought.

When the needs all around you threaten to overwhelm you, look to Jesus. He’ll give His grace to keep on giving or give peace to say “no”.

In all of life’s situations, look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. By beholding His glory, we’ll be transformed from glory to glory till one day we bow before Him face to face. (Heb. 12:1 & 2 Cor. 3:18)

Linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeWalking Redeemed, & Grace Simplicity

(photo credit)

Recipe: Homemade Granola

Granola was a staple in our house growing up. My mom rarely bought cereal, but we had granola at least twice a week. Homemade granola is simple to make, cheaper than cereal and much, much more nourishing which is why it’s one of our favorite healthy frugal breakfasts.

We eat it topped with raisins, chocolate chips, or craisins; with homemade yogurt; or as a layer in Eppli Cakka (a delicious Faroese dessert or breakfast).

Homemade Granola

Family’s Favorite Granola Recipe:

Ingredients: 

4 1/2 cups oatmeal (I prefer old fashioned oats)
1/2 cup whole grain flour
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/8 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup oil (or melted butter)
1/2 cup honey (or agave nectar)
1 tsp vanilla (homemade is delicious!)
2 T water

Instructions: 

  1. Mix dry ingredients.
  2. Combine wet ingredients and add to dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Bake in a 9×13 pan (glass seems to heat more evenly and avoid burning as easily) at 300° for about 1 hour.
  4. Stir after 20 minutes, then 15, then 10, then 5 until evenly golden brown.
  5. Cool thoroughly and enjoy!

  May be linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeHealthy 2Day ,Works for MeWalking RedeemedGraced SimplicityFabulously Frugal & Simple Lives

Mom Guilt

Mom guilt.

I’m not sure if it has been around since Eve rocked Cain and Abel to sleep or if it’s a relatively new phenomenon, but I’d venture a guess that our highly-public, yet singularly-isolated, modern lives have heightened Mom guilt.

Since becoming a mom seven years ago, I’ve felt twangs of guilt over all sorts of things, like…

Freedom_from_Mom_Guilt

photo credit

Some of the guilt I realized pretty quickly was laughable.

Sometimes though, it’s taken me a long time to realize that guilt over non-sinful-methods-that-work-for-our-family and imperfect-planning is silly.

We aren’t called to be Pinterest-perfect mothers. We aren’t called to be perfect homeschool teachers, chefs, or decorators (thank goodness!) We don’t even have to spend every waking moment with our children.

For years, even when the house was running smoothly and the children were playing happily together, I felt like I was failing as a mother if I opened the laptop. When I finally mentioned this guilt to Joshua, he said, “Honey, it’s good for the kids to learn to play together without you having to be involved in every minute detail of every moment of the day.”

So often the standards we set for ourselves, and the guilt we feel when breaking them, have little resemblance to our real standard.

We are called to love our Lord Jesus. We are called to love our children and raise them up in the love and fear of the Lord. It’s a simple, but all-encompassing, command. A command that might play itself out in my home with Twinkies, organic kale, or both.

So enough of this misplaced guilt. We’ll fall plenty of times pursuing the real goal, but God’s grace will always be sufficient for another day.

 Linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeWalking RedeemedGraced Simplicity, & Proverbs 31

Favorite Fruit Popsicles

The first real waves of summer heat are upon us and it’s popsicle season again (not that my kids would object to popsicles in the dead of winter.)

I have been doing my best to keep the freezer stocked with homemade, real food popsicles. The kids love helping make them, and I love knowing their favorite summer snack is not pumped full of sugar and food coloring.

Here are a few of our favorite fruit-sweetened popsicles.

Fruit juice popsicles

One of my favorite garage sales finds of the season was a set of old-fashioned popsicle holders that are just like the ones I loved as a kid! Need popsicle molds? Amazon has a great selection!

Fruit juice popsicles

Fill popsicle holders with leftover fruit juice: apple, orange, grape, mixed, etc. Freeze and enjoy. (I can’t think of many simpler ways to get happy grins from my kiddos!)

Creamy fruit popsicles

Mix plain yogurt with freshly mashed strawberries OR orange juice concentrate. Sweeten lightly, if desired (I use agave nectar, but sugar or honey would work great too) Freeze and enjoy.

Fresh fruit popsicles

Aren’t these just amazing looking? Freeze fresh fruit in watermelon puree or fruit juice for a gorgeous and delicious summer treat! Usually I’m not that fancy though.

What are you favorite hot-weather snacks? 

 May be linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeHealthy 2Day ,Works for MeWalking RedeemedGraced SimplicityFabulously Frugal & Simple Lives

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]