Thursday, November 12, 2020

November of Thankfulness 2020

My mind is not ready to really think about Christmas or even Advent yet. In our household, November is for counting our blessing and recording our thankfulness, in the form of a paper chain we add to almost every day. It is so amazing to what the physical representation of our thankfulness grow and keep reminding ourselves how blessed we are.

And yes it is 2020 and one of our children included Toilet Paper in our Thankful Chain.

Just another tradition from Life on the Gravelly Road. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Sharing is Caring

Sharing is Caring I say... this post is full of affliate links which means if you use the links, I get a bonus in one form or another, but my opinions and words are my own... all these services and products are things we use/enjoy.

 Walmart Grocery Pickup -

Even before "Shelter in Place" orders, I was using Walmart Grocery pickup to allow me to work a bit longer at my husband's real estate office then get our groceries on my way home without LINES or CROWDS. Since March, it has been my go-to every week. Use my link to try Walmart Grocery Pickup and we both get $10 off.  Great right?


Shutterfly is my fav place to make photobooks for family, order cards and print photos quick. (I use other sites for high quality prints that are going to be framed long term on my walls). Plus Shutterfly has some great deals just about anytime you order (so I make sure to google for codes before placing any order).

If you want to give Shutterfly a try, below are some referral link deals they have going on this month

50% Off Holiday Cards

Free Photobook

Free Personalized Metal Ornament


My husband has been an audible user much longer than the rest of the family but we are hooked. My husband routinely listens to business books - investing, real estate, money management etc while on the treadmill or mowing. The kids all have favorite books they listen to before falling asleep on their Alexa Dot devices (there are quite a few free kids books included in the "Plus" library that is free with a subscription). I enjoy finding a book we all can try on longer car rides... something to listen to together without movies or screens.

See some of the best sellers on Audible here


I've tried several online rewards programs but right now fetch Rewards is my favorite, mostly because you can connect your Amazon account and email so it can electronically scan for orders, besides just scanning receipts. Plus no web browser plug-ins or log-ins to get credit for online shopping.  Reward points can be turned into Amazon gift cards which is another bonus. Give it a try and we both get bonus points.

Download Fetch Rewards for free here:


Ok, not really a online tool or hack but I love good books for me and the kids. Here's some of our favorites when our kids were younger: Books While We Wait

Our current read aloud series is Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson

Here's a list of books I've reviewed in the past: Book Reviews

Just a few of our favorites at Life on the Gravelly Road. What are some of your favorite online tools and hacks?

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Happy Halloween 2020

 from a King, The Madalorian and Dorthy (who was just about blown away to Oz during our little bit of trick-or-treating). We spent the evening with my parents and sister. Kids did a fun scavenger hunt my mom and sister put together and then we trick-or-treated a little. Somehow they came home with as many treats as usual even though, some amazing generosity and creative ways to give kids some fun safely.

Monday, August 31, 2020

First Day of School 2020


Today is the first day of school for our three kids, here on the Gravelly Road... first days of 6th, 4th and 3rd grades.  A day of new beginnings and new challenges for all of us. While this start of school is so different than past years (new routines and safety measures plus masks), all three get to start the year with in-person learning, build relationships with their new teachers, and see their friends!

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 ahead of each of our three children. Each journey is unique and will be used fore your purposes in their lie, though all three start a new phase today after being home both spring and summer. We especially pray for the safety and health of everyone at their schools and that wise decisions will be made to keep school a place of learning not fear and worry.

Guide their teachers as they give instruction, encouragement, and build the tone of their classrooms.  Grant 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 schools.

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.


Monday, July 27, 2020

Book Review: These Nameless Things by Shawn Smucker

This is a first for book reviews here at Life on the Gravelly Road... the first time I'm posting a review of a fiction book!

 The book "These Nameless Things" by Shawn Smucker is a haunting story that kept me pondering the layers of meaning long after I set it down. It pulled me into the story of Dan and his friends, their peaceful simple life in a rustic village on the side of a mountain after each escaping from something terrible inside the nearby mountain leaving them little memory of their life before. What Dan does remember clearly is that his own escape from the mountain mean leaving his brother behind, so he waits and watches for his brother's escape. Slowly you learn more about the characters, as their memories start returning, pasts are revealed and secrets uncovered. Themes of friendship, sacrifice, family, guilt and forgiveness weave together throughout the story as Dan must face secrets, his past as he slowly remembers it, and decide what he is willing to do to save his brother and help his friends.

As soon as I finished this book, I wanted to read it a second time, knowing a second read would show more connections and meaning I missed the first time through. The world the author builds for the story is captivating and he reveals new information into the story line with artistry. The book was hard to put down not because of action or suspense really, more a burning desire that I needed to understand what was really happening, what the character had not figured out yet, what the author was keeping just below the surface.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Book Review: The Connected Parent by Dr Karyn Purvis and Lisa Qualls

I'm excited to share with you about a new book that was just released... The Connected Parent by Karyn Purvis, Phd and Lisa Qualls.

This book continues the amazing work of the late Dr Karyn Purvis (renowned child-development expert and founder of the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University) and her passion of teaching others how to better understand and reach children from "hard places" to guide them along the road to healing.  At the same time, the book weaves the personal parenting experiences of Lisa Qualls, her family's adoption journey and working to implement many of the topics of the book into her home, making the wealth of Dr. Karyn Purvis's clinical and real world expertise even more accessible.  This book is an amazing resource for adoptive families, whether they are new to the work of Dr Karyn Purvis and TBRI or not.

TBRI training was part of our adoption training years ago and this book was an amazing review for me personally, reminding me of scripts and parenting techniques that had fallen away over the years.  It helped me examine some current parenting challenges in a new light with new tools to approach some of the tough stuff of our current seasons of parenting (especially with the uncertainty of COVID-19 and disruption of the "normal" which can be so difficult and unsettling for children from "hard places").  Connected parenting can feel frustrating or illogical at times so taking the time to read through the "why" again with encouraging real life stories was such a blessing.

While adoptive and foster parents are likely the primary target of this amazing new resource, it would be a great read for teachers and others that routinely interact with children who have lived through trauma of any kind. The more you understand the impacts of trauma on child development, the more you can make a positive impact on these kids regardless of your field/role. Absolutely worth the read!!

Find out more about the book and authors here:

Monday, June 29, 2020

Backyard Addition

Much of June, we have been hard at work at a special backyard project here on the gravelly road...

It is mostly due to my amazing hubby's determination and sweat equity plus some really great help from a few others.  There is something about working hard together to accomplish a big project. 

Here's some of the many "putting in the pool" pictures I took. So much prep work, leveling and dirt moving!

And now that its finished, it is something that is helping make summer family memories here on Life on the Gravelly Road.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Mother's Day 2020

We kept Mother's Day pretty low keyed here on #LifeOntheGravellyRoad My crew made me breakfast and spoiled me with homemade cards and a thoughtful gift. I haven’t had to cook or do dishes all day. But the one thing I asked we do no matter what was take a picture together, as we try to do each year.  Each kiddo is growing and changing so fast so I remember the wonderfulness and challenges and memories of being their mom right now.

 Wishing a Happy Mothers Day to all mothers, grandmothers, aunts and those special women who bless others by stepping into a mothering role for precious kiddos.

Taking time to treasure our family time, the blessing of being their mom, and life on the gravelly road.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Book Review: Made to Move Mountains by Kristen Welch

Kristen Welch's new book "Made to Move Mountains: How God Uses Our Dreams an Disasters to Accomplish the Impossible" challenges, encourages, and guides readers to really consider the impact and purpose of mountains in their life that they face (either by choice/dream or un-chosen challenges that surprise).

Throughout the book she authentically walks readers through personal stories of mountains of all types that author Kristen and her family have faced. She also delves into scripture and includes stories of faith to help readers consider how God uses mountains in faith journeys to shape/grow faith and often impact others for the kingdom, whether the mountain is one chosen by stepping out of ones comfort zone (like chasing a God-given dream) or a mountain that is un-chosen, surprising or knocking one down (like a disaster). She authentically shares the hard faith lessons she has learned on her own faith journey as well as her families ministry through Mercy House Global, encouraging readers to step out in their own faith and grow, even when staying stationary at the bottom of mountain might seem like a "safer" choice.

Larger themes covered in the book include identifying life's mountains, climbing instead of running/ignoring, the impact of climbing life's mountains with Jesus by your side, grieving the mountains you face (especially those unexpected/blindsiding ones), noticing the small mercies along the way (seeing God at work), taking the next step from where you are, and so much more. Each chapter includes questions to contemplate and apply to your own life as well as a journal page to keep notes, helping this to be more than just a book that you read but a faith journey you take yourself.

I have enjoyed other books by Kristen Welch and this one does not disappoint. This book has the potential to encourage and build up readers in many walks of life, leading them closer in to the God, making enduring mountains and even moving mountains possible.

*I was given an early release copy of this book as part of the launch team. My review and my words are my own.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Five Minute Friday: Relief

It has been a very long time since I've written a post for Five Minute Fridays ( encouraging bloggers to write on a prompt unedited for five minutes) but I've missed it so here it goes.

This week's prompt: RELIEF


It was "just" an email that needed a reply.
I thought I was too tired to handle the emotions of writing the message that night.
But the worry kept me up anyway.
Wording. Rewording. In my head all night long.

The situation was worrying.
Communicating my concerns clearly mattered.
Mattered especially because I was advocating for my child.
But I didn't want to make the issue bigger than it was.

So first thing in the morning, I sat at my laptop.
Typing. Reading. Deleting. 
Typing. Re-reading. Deleting. Typing again.
Working hard to be concise.

Tears streaming down my face.
Hoping my care came through.
Praying my words would be heard.

I hit SEND.
And the tears turned to RELIEF.


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