Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Christmas Letter 2018

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! 

Instead of a printed Christmas letter with the photo cards we sent out, we decided to summarize and reflect on 2018 here on our family blog.  It was a year of blessing, growth and changes through out the seasons.

During the winter at the beginning of 2018, we celebrated each of  kids in turn as they became nine, eight and seven years old with Harry Potter, Minions and Trolls parties respectively. The excitement of birthdays at this age is so much fun!  The boys continued to wrestle with several more tournaments over the winter and our daughter continued her weekly dance class.  The new year also brought us to the annual MN Weichert awards dinner where Jason celebrated his success as a realtor in 2017.

The start of spring was filled with tears as we said good-bye to Jason's grandma Evelyn right before celebrating Easter.  The spring was also included a big dance recital for our youngest, elementary track and field days for our boys, field trips, the end of a great school year and lots of time outside.

Our summer was filled with baseball games for our oldest, gymnastics for the other two, lots of camping, and participating in lots of parades with on the Weichert Realtors float (this mom prefers kids throwing candy to others instead of bringing it home).  Zman got to take a special vacation with Grandpa and Grandma with so many adventures, including horse riding and a rodeo.  At the same time, Ike went to Canada camping and fishing with Dad while Peaches and I had a girls week at home.  As a family we spent time up north camping at a favorite state park and then  at Camp House for family camp, an annual favorite. 

Then we ended the summer by road tripping to Colorado for my cousin's wedding seeing some great scenic points along the way.  It was an amazing and  full summer of family memories.

The fall brought us back to the school routine with a 1st grader, 2nd grader and 4th grader this year.  Weeks have flow by fast with the school schedule, apple picking, a special trip for Mom and Dad to the Bahamas, Halloween, and Thanksgiving (a poignant one as my parents are moving so it was the last holiday in the house I grew up in).  We just had a full weekend with a dance show and the first meet of the wrestling season (this year just Zman is wrestling) and look forward to the church Christmas program this weekend.

As the snow covers the ground and we decorate for Christmas, we turn our minds toward the reason for this special season as we treasure our memories from the year and wish you and your family the very best for 2019!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Book Review: Calming Angry Kids by Tricia Goyer

Calming Angry Kids: Help and Hope for Parents in the Whirlwind by Tricia Goyer

Tricia Goyer’s book “Calming Angry Kids”provides exactly what the subtitle state “help and hope for parents in the whirlwind”. The book provide accessible tools, biblical insight and wise advice alongside the real life experiences of the author’s family walking the road of healing during times of intense anger.

The book addresses so many useful topics from journaling your own anger moments, noticing the anger patterns of your children, understanding triggers from the past, anger cycles, and building up a child’s understanding of their feelings. Through it all the author stresses relationship and connection over unbending rules, helping to create a safe place for kids to process their big feelings and overwhelming stress. The encouragement and wisdom in this book, with biblical connections plus the experience of therapy and a seasoned parent (Tricia is the mom of 10 which includes several children that joined the family through adoption) makes this book a unique find and true resource.


I read this book slowly to really study the anger triggers in our home, to try to apply the advice within, to build new patterns of parenting the change the cycle of anger. This book is worth the investment, the money to purchase it and the time to read and really digest it. It truly is both help and hope for parents.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Tropical Getaway

Warm and Beautiful.  Quality time and rest.  A much needed vacation getaway for just the two of us.

Husband's work had a national conference and training in the Bahamas a last week.  He signed up and did all the planning to make the trip happen... budgeting, tickets, reservations, reminders to get my passport renewed.  I'm so glad he put it on our schedule and made it a priority.

It can be too easy to come up with excuses to not get away... too expensive, hard to coordinate care for the kids, too expensive, a lot of work to plan, too expensive, and so on.  

But for us, all the uninterrupted time together to  reconnect and rest is priceless.  Of course we could have saved a lot a money and just gone a few hours up north, but we sure did have fun with our adventure to Paradise Island.

We were so thankful my parents were able to stay with our kids and juggle school schedule, dance class, and a few days of fall break.  The kids had a great time with Grandpa and Grandma,  We returned to big hugs from our kids and SO MANY STORIES.

Treasuring our tropical getaway memories here at Life on the Gravelly Road.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018


The sign by my sink is a reminder...

* While I do dishes or cook, breathe in gratitude for all we have

* As the noise of my kids fill our home after school, breathe in the blessing it is to be their mom

* And before I turn around to handle rising tempers or fighting or other chaos, I breathe in grace and peace that He provides in hopes I can share it with my littles.

Surrounding myself with visual reminders to reframe my thoughts, to breathe before I respond,  to live and love well this Life on the Gravelly Road. 

Monday, October 8, 2018

Book Review: When Your Kid Is Hurting by Kevin Leman

Now that the kids are back into the school routine, I've been trying to get through a few new parenting books that I didn't have a chance to read this summer. Here's the first review, watch for a second one coming soon.

 When Your Kid Is Hurting: Helping Your Child Through the Tough DaysWhen Your Kid Is Hurting: Helping Your Child Through the Tough Days by Dr Kevin Leman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As much as we’d like it to be otherwise, our kids will walk through times of hurt and face hard things. Seeing your child hurting is difficult for any parent, whether its issues with friends, death of a loved one, or some other hard thing. So “When You Kid is Hurting” by Dr. Kevin Leman is a parenting book that will be an asset in your parenting library. This book is packed full wise parenting advice organized in a way that can make it a great reference for later. Dr. Kevin Leman gives great advice to parents to help keep the lines of communication open as kids grow, ways to improve the phrases you use when your kids are upset or facing a hard problem, how to support your kids when they are facing a big challenge and much more. The book covers issues that come at our kids from the world (like scary world events etc), hard things that become personal (friends, bullying, etc), facing big fears, handling grief and much more. He also helps parents to work at having a better understanding their child’s perspective and improving parenting habits and phrases. The book also includes a long Q&A section on specific issues that may come up in your child’s life. As our oldest gets closer to the beginning of middle school, I’ve been watching for more resources for the challenges that might be ahead. This book fits that need. I also appreciate that it addresses some specific hard things that kids face when adoption is part of their story. It’s a slow read but worth the investment.

View all my reviews

**I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own. **

Monday, September 10, 2018

Book Review: Crack Yourself Up Jokes for Kids

I have a different type of book review than normal today.  A kids joke book, specifically "Crack Yourself Up Jokes for Kids" by Sandy Silverthorne.  With three elementary school kids in our home, jokes are part of our day. We already have a collection of fun kids joke books yet this joke book by Sandy Silverthorne was a hit right away. 

As a mom, while I don't always enjoy listening to kids jokes, I love having clean kids joke books around as they encourage my readers to read out loud and figure out the words they don't know (you can't skip unknown words in a joke!).  It warms my heart to see my younger children asking their big brother for help with a word or watch them proudly read a practiced joke to dad after supper. Even better is that the jokes in this joke book were not just read and laughed about, but favorites were memorized to share with grandparents and friends.

The small size of the book makes it great to bring along in the car or to tuck in a bag for entertainment while waiting. This fun collection of jokes would also make a good gift for any joke loving kid in your life.

** I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my unbiased feedback. All opinions are my own. **

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Three Years as a Family of 5

Three years ago yesterday, we stood in a court room together and made promises before a judge.

Three years ago, we had a big backyard party to celebrate we were officially a family of 5 on paper, though our hearts were bound together long before.

So we remember three years ago.

We celebrate being a family of 5 and we help these three celebrate being siblings.

Each year we give them a new game to play together.

So blessed to be entrusted to raise these three here on the gravelly road.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

First Day of School 2018

Today is the first day of school for our three kiddos... 4th grade, 2nd grade and 1st grade.  One more year with all three in the elementary school!

It was a dark a rainy morning so first day pictures were inside and quick instead of outside and silly.  Maybe we'll try for a pic of all three after school :)

Ike starts fourth grade today.  He is excited to seeing his friends, especially since his two closest friends are both in his class this year.  This is his last year of elementary school which is hard for this mama's heart.  I'm looking forward to see how God uses his 4th grade year to grow and challenge him.

Zman is starting 2nd grade today.  He was less excited this morning than he had been the last few days counting down to school, but I think that the dark and dreary day had to do with it.  He was really excited about his teacher this year and to see his friends.  I have a feeling God has some big things in store for him in 2nd grade and I can't wait to see him soar.

Peaches starts 1st grade today.  When I woke her up this morning, she immediately sat up and fist pumped the air say "yay the first day of 1st grade!".  She has been counting down to the first day for several weeks and is beyond excited.  I can't wait to see all she learns and grows in first grade.

I'm looking forward to hearing all about their first days when they return home to the gravelly road.

Dear Lord - 

We ask for an extra special blessing on the school year adventure ahead of each of our three children. Each adventure is unique and will be used fore your purposes in their lie, though all three start a new phase today.

Guide their teachers as they give instruction, encouragement, and build the town of their classrooms.  Grand them wisdom for those moments when a child's tears or frustrated words are coming from a deeper hard place than just a tough morning.  May their classrooms be places of learning and inclusion, a safe place to try, fail and try again. 

Watch over our three as they start and strengthen friendships, handle challenges, try new hard things, work through conflict and learn the life lessons you have for them.  Guide their words and actions so that they are kind and compassionate to those around them.  Surround them with friends that bring out their best so that they can build each other up.  Help them to be part of the good and amazing things you are doing in their school.

Thank you again and again for allowing us to parent these precious kiddos.  They are each growing and changing so fast it often takes my breath away.  Continue to grow them into the people you called them to be and help me to help them see how you are working in their lives.


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Heading West (Photo overload)

Our last hurrah of the summer was a family road trip with the end goal being my cousin's wedding in Colorado.  Along the way we stopped at the Badlands in South Dakota and Mount Rushmore.  I took so many pictures but here are some of my favorites.

When we made it to Colorado, we were blessed to stair in a large house via air bnb with my parents, sister, brother-in-law and my grandparents.  So many precious memories with all of us under one roof.

I was especially honored to be the photographer for my cousin's wedding.  My sister was my right hand during the photo shoot, acting as my assistant, lining up everyone and keep me organized.

Fun family picture after the wedding.

Before we left Colorado, we spent time hiking and enjoying the mountains. (Then we went to my aunt's and my kids enjoyed some lego and nerf gun time).

Blessed by family time and precious memories on a summer vacation road trip from Life on the Gravelly Road.
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