Forge Your Own Path

Sometimes, Mama, you have to forgo the typical way of doing things and forge your own path.

Maybe that’s doing schoolwork outside (or up a tree).

Maybe it’s leaning on frozen food or paper plates instead of choosing between takeout and homemade.

Maybe it’s napping on a Sunday afternoon—or sleeping late on a Saturday morning.

Maybe it’s never using your dishwasher…or running it twice a day.

Maybe it’s playing outside in every single summer rain…or NOT playing on playgrounds.

Maybe it’s never buying from XYZ store…or buying all your clothes secondhand.

Maybe it’s listening to all “kid” music. Or NO “kid” music, ever.

Whatever you do that’s different than what society or social media tells you to do, but is working for your family, and helping you to be the Mama you’re called to be, keep doing it.

Forge your own path, Mama. In doing so, you’re teaching your little ones it’s ok for them to forge their own paths someday.

What’s something that you do that’s uniquely you?

#ForgeYourOwnPath #UniquelyYou #MomTruth #IntentionalParenting #SchoolOutside #SecondHand #DebtFree #1000HoursOutside #UrbanBackyard #UpATree #ReadInATree

Loving Others Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated

Who are you called to show love to this week, Mama?

Loving others doesn’t have to be complicated…but sometimes it does take a bit of extra planning. Do you need to add a couple items to your grocery list, to prep a meal or make cookies for a neighbor who could use it? Do you need to clear a bit of time in your schedule one afternoon to watch your friend’s kids who really really needs a break? Maybe you need to pick up stamps so that you can mail a birthday card to a senior, or an “I’m Thinking of You Card” to someone struggling with loneliness or grief.

Take some time today to do a bit of planning so that you can love others well this week. Arrange that play date with the other Mama who you never have time to talk to. Send flowers to your great aunt, surprise your husband with his favorite meal, or send your kid’s teacher a gift card to get coffee. It doesn’t have to be complicated; but sometimes it does need to be planned.

Who are you going to show love to this week?

#ShowLove

#Neighbors

#RadicalGenerosity

#PlanAhead

#IntentionalMotherhood

#LivedOutFaith

#MomTruth

#LoveYourNeighbor

Stop Watching & Start Living

Sometimes we spend so much time looking at what others are doing that we never get to the “living” ourselves.

How’s your week going, Mama? Are you living the life you’re called to, or are you watching others live theirs while you scroll and wish things were different?

Here’s a gentle nudge to start living this week. Put down the phone and pick up a broom or vacuum. Turn off the tv and turn on the washing machine or dishwasher. Mute the podcast and tune in to your kids voices.

Take out that book you’ve been meaning to read, or sit in silence and ask your Father what His priorities are for you this week. Close Facebook and open up the windows—or better yet, stand outside for 5 minutes and just stretch and breathe.

Life doesn’t happen in the watching—it happens in the living. Take one small step today to live more and watch less.

*Pic of our tiniest “watcher” who awoke from his nap to hear the voices of his siblings playing outside. He joined them shortly after this pic was snapped.

#MomTruth #IntentionalParenting #IntentionalMotherhood #Motherhood #RealLife #GetOutside #Vacuum #Dishwasher #WashingMachine #Priorities #Values #StartLiving

How We Celebrate Birthdays

How do you celebrate birthdays in your home, Mama?

As the years have gone by, we’ve gotten simpler and simpler in our celebrations, and I’ve come to really appreciate the rhythm we have now. And with 5 kids, it’s been good to keep it simple!

We start the day with a simple birthday breakfast, chosen by the birthday kid. Today, Mr. 8 chose walnut chocolate chip muffins. There’s always a special birthday prayer said at the table, and taper candles set the mood. The other kids usually decorate our tiny eating area with drawings or coloring pages wishing the birthday child a happy birthday.

After breakfast, we head to the living room where the siblings give the birthday boy (or girl!) cards or a small gift. One or two presents from Mama and Daddy follow, and then all the kids spends time playing together till lunch. Although they are still expected to complete their schoolwork for the day, most of them will choose to work ahead so that they can take the birthday “off” together. We always include something special in the afternoon, perhaps a birthday three marker challenge, a board game, or time spent outside together as a family.

The birthday child gets to choose dinner and dessert too! Mr. 8 requested a pancakes with two kinds of homemade fruit compotes/syrups (blueberry & strawberry), followed by an ice cream buffet with assorted candies, cookies and other toppings. We’ll sing “Happy Birthday” and blow out candles with dessert.

And then it’s time for baths, family devotions, stories and bed…but before bedtime, we have a “birthday book”—a beloved family storybook of a family coming together to celebrate a little boy’s birthday. We’ve read it every year for each child since our oldest was four or five; and it wouldn’t feel like a birthday to our kids without it.

And that’s our simple birthday celebration. How do you celebrate birthdays in your family? Are there any traditions or rhythms that you do year in and year out?

#Birthday ##BirthdayCelebration #8YearsOld

#BirthdayIdeas #Rhythms #Tradition #LargeFamilyLogistics #Breakfast #WhatsForDinner #Pancakes #IceCreamBuffet

Recipe for Sofrito

Recipe for Sofrito

•2 Bell Peppers 🫑

•2 Onions 🧅

•One Bunch Cilantro 🌿 coarsely chopped

•One Whole Garlic Bulb 🧄 chopped

•1/2 cup Olive Oil 🫒

•1 tsp. Salt 🧂

Process in blender until all ingredients are combined. Store in covered jar in refrigerator up to one week, or freeze in ice cube tray, pop out cubes, put in sealed container or freezer bag and store in freezer.

Sauté in a bit of olive oil for one minute when you start cooking. Or throw a cube into a pot of soup! Lends a wonderful fresh flavor to chicken, fish, pork, beef, stews, beans and anything else you’d like to add it to. We even add it to guacamole!

My 14 year old enjoys chopping and prepping all the veggies for this—it makes the kitchen smell amazing, and will elévate your rice and beans from a staple to a gourmet entree. If you’ve ever used the pre-made stuff, once you try this, you’ll never go back!

Super easy, stores in the freezer (we make this about once a month), and not only brightens any dish, but also adds sneaky veggies in for your picky eaters!

What are some of your favorite easy meal prep tricks?

#Sofrito #SofritoRecipe #KidsIntheKitchen #FamilyMeals #MealPlanning #WhatsForDinner #PickyEaters #EasyRecipes #FreshIngredients #MomLife

Embracing the Less Than Perfect

Shout out to all the Mama’s embracing the less than perfect. To the ones whose backyards are far from Instagram worthy (hello, fellow city dwellers!), but get daily use, making mud pies and staining knees, patchy grass and all. To the ones who don’t have the dreamiest toys, but whose kids’ imaginations have the freedom and space to delve deep into uninterrupted play. To the ones who aren’t supermodels, but walk and skip and swim alongside their wee ones when asked. To the ones who can’t afford all organic, but are setting balanced plates in front of hungry mouths multiple times a day.

Real life isn’t perfect, and it certainly isn’t Instagram. What matters more than picture perfect is you, Mama, and the daily showing up you do for your kids, over and over again. You are the one that was chosen, handpicked for this role, and God knew what you’d be working with, patchy grass, ugly countertops and all, when He called you to it.

I invite you today to revel in the less than perfect. How can you celebrate what you’ve generously been given? You, yes you, with all your beautiful imperfections, are called to mother your children with the environment and resources you’ve been given; they are good gifts from a good God. How can you use them well today?

What are some imperfect gifts that you are thankful for?

#LessThanPerfect #MomTruth #UrbanBackyard #BackyardIdeas #1000HoursOutside #MindfulMotherhood #IntentionalParenting #Mudpies

One Thing Well

You can’t do it all, Mama. But you can do one thing well today.

Sometimes in the rush to get everything done, attend to all the needs, put out all the fires, check off all the boxes, we come to the end of the day and can’t even for sure say what we did.

The days meld into one exhausting day (or night) after another. Diaper changes. Cooking. Dishes. Car pools. Arguments. Spills. Schoolwork and emails. I’m here to tell you that even though I think you’re Superwoman, even Superwoman herself can’t to it all. It’s simply not humanly possible to finish well all the tasks we’re called to do in a day.

And so for some of them, it’s ok to be mediocre. And some of them, it’s ok to not do them at all. But at the end of each day, make sure that you have done one thing well.

What is that thing for you today? Reading and savoring a favorite storybook with your kids? Sitting down and setting a timer for 15 minutes and saying “yes” to your preschooler’s pleas to “play family” or “play cars” or “play Legos”? Taking 20 minutes outside with your kids, off your phone and simply savoring Spring? Sitting down for a 3 Marker Challenge with your oldest? Finally making those cupcakes you’ve been wanting to bake?

Doing one thing well doesn’t have to be a big thing. It can be one small thing. But day after day of “one thing well” builds a lifetime of treasured memories and relationships with those little people you’re called to love. And it helps you feel good about your day too, no matter how it may have veered from what you thought it would be.

What “one thing well” will you do today?

#OneThingWell

#MomTruth

#MindfulMotherhood

#Parenting

#IntentionalParenting

#3MarkerChallenge

#Legos

#Motherhood

Little Birdwatchers: A Nature Basket for Kids

Caught evidence of a little birdwatcher while tidying up yesterday afternoon.

For years we’ve kept a “nature basket” (a “nature capsule”) easily accessible to any child (or adult!) who wants to observe, learn or sketch about nature. It holds a small assortment of field guides purchased used (birds, mammals, trees and rocks & minerals); some books on animal footprints and wildlife native to NJ, and some kid proof binoculars and magnifying glasses.

Our nature basket has seasons…there are times when it sees daily use, and there are weeks and even months when it’s forgotten…but it is always returned to when Spring begins to bring new birds to the backyard, or when a new animal track is spotted in the mud.

It’s a simple tool that’s provided much joy and learning, and hours of fascination through the years—and it works for teens to preschoolers, allowing each to “research” and engage on their level.

How do you encourage your small ones to study nature?

#NatureStudy

#NatureBasket

#FieldGuides

#Birdwatching

#BirdwatchingWithKids

#BackyardBirds

#IntentionalParenting

#NatureCapsule

#LearningAtHome

“I’m Bored…”

It’s ok to let them be bored, Mama. The most wonderful play sometimes happens through boredom.

In our home, saying “I’m bored” leads to a few suggestions of things to engage in; “Perhaps you want to make an art project? You haven’t built with blocks in awhile. What could you create with Legos?”…or an invitation to join in with cleaning or household chores.

Sometimes, the child will choose to join me in whatever I’m working on. Sometimes, they’ll wander around a bit before settling in to the deep work of play. But I’ve come to realize that it is through boredom that the most creative and deep play can happen.

Why? Because kids are saying they’re “bored” because all their usual ideas aren’t appealing to them. And so allowing them to stay in that place, and creatively think and work through it, gives them the time and space they need to do well the work of childhood. Play.

The “I’m bored” statement in our home I’d usually a hopeful request for screen time. We almost never use screens as a solution to boredom; we’ve found it’s much healthier (and in the long run makes a much happier kid) when they walk through boredom into deep, engaging play.

*Pic of two of my “bored” kiddos and a timed building challenge they created out of being bored together.

#ImBored

#Boredom

#BoredomIdeas

#Play

#Creativity

#MomTruth

#Parenting

#TheWorkOfPlay

Some Thoughts on Capsules

There’s a lot of talk these days about “capsules”. I found a definition online that really resonated with me: a capsule is a concise, curated collection.

And I realized that I use capsules in a lot of places, not just in my clothing choices, but in much of life. In our family, we have a capsule pantry, a concise collection of groceries that we purchase over and over again to make the various meals that feed our family of seven.

We also have an art supply capsule, a simple collection of supplies that we always have on hand for whatever creative endeavors our kids or our family want to embark upon.

We have a toys capsule, with a carefully curated collection of toys that can be used by all ages, are flexible enough to use in a variety of ways and foster imagination. These are the tried and true “favorites” that have been going strong in our home for over 10 years.

We even have an outdoors capsule, comprised of a few items that we consistently use outside and suitable for small kids to teens.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing more about our family’s “capsule” approach, and the freedom and simplicity that has brought us.

What most intrigues you about this approach? Are there areas in your life where you are using a capsule, or where you think capsule use might be helpful?

#Capsule

#CapsuleWardrobe

#CapsulesandKids

#SimpleCapsule

#Organization

#SimpleLiving

#MealPlanning

#KidsToys

#MindfulMotherhood

#Simplify

#DeClutter