Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Randomness

  • Last week we watched Arthur Christmas for our Friday family movie night. It was cute.
  • I have been finding so many great Christmas book lists this year – lots of my favorite bloggers are posting their family’s favorites and my hold list at the library is long. Check out these lists from: Elizabeth Foss (here, here, and here), Heidi @ Mt. Hope Chronicles (here and here), Amy at Hope is the Word (here, here and here). And I took the time the other day to type our book list up here.
  • I had my first doctor appointment with an non-obgyn yesterday in way too many years. This dr. was recommended to me by my kids’ pediatrician and I love her. Nothing is/was wrong – I just didn’t have a primary physician to go to when Mama needs medicine and I was having to go to the walk-in clinic whenever the need arose. No more! Blood was drawn, shots were updated and a clean bill of health was given. Yay!
  • Except that she wants me to cut back on my caffeine. And that’s all I’m going to say about that for right now. Oy.
  • Heard: the other day as the girls were singing in the car, I heard a certain five-year-old belt out, “Old McDonald had a farm, the B-I-B-L-E.” May be one of those moments where you had to be there, but it sure was cute.
  • This recipe. Chocolate granola. And I added some coconut to the mix. Spooned over vanilla yogurt. So so good.

Needed to try it to make sure it was good. @edillow chocolate granola is a winner. :)

  • I am doing a December Daily album again this year … where last year I was itching to start as soon as I wrapped up Thanksgiving, this year, I’m waiting. Not pushing my pages that I’m going to add, but try and savor the season as it comes. I also pulled out my PL stuff yesterday and made a list of the weeks I need to wrap up. On the good side, I’m not as behind as I thought I might be. : ) A couple of weeks only need a card here and there journaled – it’s actually my current weeks I need to catch up on.

That’s all that I can think of for right now. Just a little randomness I want to remember.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Advent Planning

After a quick search on my blog, I realized I’ve never documented our Christmas / Advent activities for my munchkins. I found this post from 2007 and a list of our Christmas books from 2008 but that’s all that turned up in my quick search. (Lots of December Daily goodness under this tag, but that still only shares a bit). This post is to sketch out our ideas for 2012 and maybe help me remember for next year. : ) Please note: while I have listed many items here, the reality is that we not get to all of them – other things come up, kids get sick, mamas get tired. These are jumping off ideas. : )

What holiday planning looks like around here. Lots of lines and scribbles.

What holiday planning looks like for me. Messy. Lots of lines and scribbles. : )

Truly, though, the holidays are messy in general. Too many activities. Family drama (every family has it, some just more elevated that others!) The inevitable sickness that hits the family and threatens to derail carefully constructed plans. The goal of my planning is hopefully not to push us into a state of burnout and overkill because of too many good things. My goals are to:

1. Have options. Things change on a day-to-day basis around here with four kids and unexpected plans or germs and an arsenal of ideas that can be flexible is important.

2. Have a loose plan. More plan = less panic for me. : )

3. Make memories for our family.

4. See Jesus. We take time to read about the sweet baby that God sent and remind ourselves the baby came to seek and save those who are lost. (Luke 19:10)

With those goals in mind, here are some of our plans for the next 4-5 weeks…

Activities with Books (remember, we won’t get to all of these books or ideas, and I’d bet money that even with the best intentions there will be days we will miss on our Advent readings!):

Activities at Home:

  • decorating the tree (actually, deciding a plan for a tree. We got rid of our very old fake tree in our move last year and didn’t replace it last year with a one year old boy running loose.)
  • making chocolate covered pretzels and / or pretzel hugs.
  • making peppermint playdough. (We made our first batch of homemade playdough last week over Thanksgiving at it was a success so we’re going to try a Christmas version!)
  • lots of Christmas family Friday movie nights. (We have a stack of favorites that we pull out ONLY at Christmas and are packed away the rest of the year.)
  • a candlelight picnic in our family room on the floor and watching Little Women with the girls for the first time
  • ornament crafts
  • making homemade bird feeders for our backyard and for gifts
  • decorating sugar cookies
  • make snowflakes (out of coffee filters)Supporting local theater in a few weeks!
  • making gifts for teachers and neighbors and delivering them

Activities Out of the Home:

  • caroling with our Community Group
  • the little girls’ choir concert
  • a special outing to the Nashville Children’s Theater
  • a special outing to see a friend perform in a local production of White Christmas
  • looking at Christmas lights
  • Christmas Eve service

As I look at our list now that it’s typed out, it doesn’t seem like there is much on there. As much as I want to add a few more ideas, this will leave some room for spontaneity if something comes up, and it will also leave margin if we need some downtime. And the beauty of the internet, if I spot a good idea out there that I wish we had time to do, I can always pin it for next year. : ) I would also like to have a few more service oriented activities on there, but we have some limitations with ages of the kids (i.e., several places we have checked with in our area about volunteering aren’t geared for little ones to help and prefer for them to be older). Our caroling with our small group is at a long term facility that our church has a relationship with and I would love to develop a routine of going over there and not just at Christmas.

Happy Wednesday. We are having a slow school day today. I had one little with a very upset stomach at bedtime. (The kind that resulted in extra laundry and a bath before bed … ick.) She was up a couple times with it during the night, but we seem to be on the mend today. Ergo, she and Mama are running at about half-speed. There has been a slow start to our school day, lots of coffee and hot tea, and now we are about to get busy as soon as I put a certain boy down for a nap. So thankful for homeschooling for days like these. : )

Monday, November 26, 2012

Getting to Know You

My friend Carrie at Reading to Know is hosting a fun little post-Thanksgiving meme today and I’m jumping in. It’s been a while since I’ve written a post like this with a little background / get-to-know-you info on it or if I have it’s buried here somewhere! Without further ado…

1. Do you attend church and, if so, what denomination are you a part of?

Yes, we attend and go to a small non-denominational Bible church south of Nashville. My Dad has been the pastor of this church for almost 22 years and my husband leads music on Sunday mornings. It’s where I met T as well so a major part of our family’s life. : )

2. What social issue are you the most passionate about?

That is a tough question. From first glance, I would say that I’m not very passionate about a social issue. The back of my car isn’t covered in bumper stickers and most of the time, I forget my reusable grocery bags when I go to the store. (Those are the hallmarks of being passionate right?) : ) Some things I am passionate about, I think, could be classified as a social issue, but not in the eyes of most: being an active and present mama to my children and wife to my husband. Praying for, planning for, and, under the God and the leadership of my husband, glorifying God in how I am managing my family (Proverbs 31, Titus 2).

All that said, after having read Jen Hatmaker’s 7 (highly! recommend!), I am much more aware of areas that we could be involved personally and as a family with the responsibilities that God has given us to minister to those around us.

3. Do you home school/use the public system or enroll your kids in private school? Any particular reason why?

Starting with CC review.

We do homeschool and have since the beginning. This is something that we feel is the right decision for our family and will continue this way for the foreseeable future, unless God points us in a different direction. We have been part of a couple of tutorials over the years, and this year we have been very pleased with how Classical Conversations has fit into our school plans. I could see us sticking with this program for the entire run of our school days.

A new plan of attack with B.

4. How long have you been married? How many kids do you have, or want to have? Have you ever thought of adopting, or have you?

T and I celebrated ten years this past August, which amazes me because I still feel such a novice at this marriage thing. We have four munchkins, N1(9), N2(6), B(5), and the boy (2) and they keep us plenty busy. We have thought of adopting and are seriously praying about it (news to some, I’m sure!) 8'13'2012b

5. What is your greatest personality strength? Weakest?

Greatest strength is probably my organizational ability. Weakest is probably my lack of self-confidence (yes) and doubting myself a LOT.

6. What is your favorite Bible verse or passage? Why?

Longtime favorite has been Psalm 52:8-9:

But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever.
I will give Thee thanks forever, because Thou hast done it,
And I will wait on Thy name, for it is good, in the presence of Thy godly one.

Once upon a time, my blog was named after this verse.

Lamentations 3:22-26 and Psalm 121 have also been of great comfort to me at different times in my life and are very special! As well as major parts of Philippians. (Do I have a limit?) : )

7. What is your real name? What does it mean? (Sometimes I don't know your real name. Just a screen name. Sometimes that's intentional and if so, that's perfectly fine! I totally get issues surrounding online security. But if it's just an oversight that I don't know your real name, would you mind telling me what it is?!)

My real name is the one I use on the blog (Stephanie) and if you dig hard enough, you’ll find my kids’ names scattered around here. I typically just refer to them by their initials now – it’s quicker!

Then there are random fun questions:

1. What do you like best about your family?

The personalities that make up the mixture of our little crew. I love looking at the kids and seeing what is like their Dad and what is like me and how they can be so similar in some areas and so very different in others! The amazing creativity of God just in the six people He has brought together to be our family!

I also love our Friday family movie night tradition. We have a long-standing routine of rotating who picks the movie; as of January the boy will get to graduate into the picking rotation – I fully expect to watch Cars every six weeks when it’s his turn. : ) We order pizza and if I’m on the ball we have something fun for dessert (or make popcorn). I love our Friday nights.

2. What's your favorite color? Why?


Favorite favorite would have to be deep dark brown – it’s such a warm and cozy color. Then as the mood (or season) strikes, I can pick other colors to go with it. I’ve been on a big orange kick lately (that happens to me every fall) and haven’t shaken it yet.

3. Are you a bold and trendy dresser, or are clothes "not your thing?"

I’m not trendy in the least. I would like to be but that takes time and money and those are things that when I have one, I usually don’t have the other. : ) I don’t think I want to be especially trendy because truthfully, most trends to me look very uncomfortable! I spend a lot of my days getting up and down off the floor with small people and making messes in the kitchen so my hopes for my wardrobe would be that it’s somewhat cute, highly comfortable, and relatively free from stains.

4. Are you a foodie? What makes you love food so?

I love reading recipes and planning menus so if that makes me a foodie, then yes. Sitting around the table catching up with people is one of my favorite things, whether it’s my own little crew or the rare night out with girlfriends and food (or at a minimum coffee!) is a huge part of that.

5. If you were to write a book, what genre would it be? (Let's throw in a book question!)

Finished this book of N1's this weekend. Super super cute. Hoping to borrow her sequel and start it today. :)

When I was a kid, I dreamed of writing a book someday, but now, I don’t know. Some of my favorite books to read are junior/young adult chapter books (i.e.., Mysterious Benedict Society, Tumtum & Nutmeg, Little Women) so that is what I would think I would steer towards. However, I am also highly encouraged by mothering books by an author such as Sally Clarkson but feel far to unqualified to right anything along those lines at this stage in my parenting! : )

6. What is your favorite thing about where you live (country, neighborhood, etc.)? Least?

We live in an area that is developed but if we drive five minutes were are in the midst of cow fields and hay bales. It made for a hard decision last year when we moved because we were very torn – live in town, near church/work/etc. or move out a ways and find a little land. Right now, we feel like we have the best of both worlds because we are in a wonderful neighborhood with a small creek and overgrown common area that runs right behind our property. The only downside is that I can’t have chickens. : )

More creek.

7.  What is your idea of the perfect day?

Without it sounding terrible, because I do love life with my little people, a perfect day would be some time by myself, whether getting coffee and reading for a while, running errands quickly by myself, or just spending some time alone doing whatever! Lunch with T would be a must for that day. Then time with my kids doing something like playing at the park or going on a walk or maybe ending the day with popcorn and movie (at home in our jammies, of course).

When T and I celebrated our anniversary a few months ago, we had just such a weekend. We were able to finagle one night of childcare and spend the evening have dinner out (Greek is our go-to when it’s just us), run a few errands, and watch a movie (in our jammies, of course). : ) Then I spend Saturday morning drinking coffee, working on my Bible study, cleaning the school room until the munchkins arrived home around lunchtime. At that point, we loaded them all up and took them to the county fair for the afternoon/evening. A perfect mix of quiet time / husband time / family time. (Note: these perfect mixes do not happen often so I still look back on this weekend very fondly). : )

Thanks, Carrie, for hosting such a fun link-up. I’m looking forward to reading some of the linked-up posts later on today … for right now, it’s Monday and our Thanksgiving break is officially over. Time to get moving a get a little school done today. : )

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Zoo Day

I have a little kindergartener who has been asking and asking to go to the zoo. It really has been on our to-do list – we were actually going to go last Thursday unbeknownst to her – but plans changed when we had to attend a funeral. Yesterday was going to be a normal school day around here. However, I have another girlie that has been struggling with a cough for several weeks now (the dr. thinks it’s just allergies so we are trying to give her some relief from those) so we ended up with an unplanned dr. appointment yesterday morning. The afternoon stretched before after the appointment – to go home and do some school or to head to the zoo?

The zoo won. And I had a very, very excited five year old on my hands.

And a little boy that wanted to see some elephants.

Beware. Large quantities of photos ahead. I took the big camera to the zoo. : )

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The photo below is not a great shot of me (ha!) however, I thought it showed how brave I was when I was being attacked by lorikeets. 

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Elephant photo by N1.

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B was the only one excited about petting the goats. While were in the petting zoo pen, a goat started munching on a lady’s skirt and there was much shrieking and yelling. The boy stayed as far away from the goats as he could after watching someone almost get eaten by one.

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I am both fascinated and freaked out by the flamingos. Their colors are so amazing, but they are such awkward looking animals.

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We got to witness a flamingo fight while there – quite humorous.

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Pre-spring. The lemurs were super active today – actually most of the animals were. We never go late in the afternoon, but as we were walking around, almost all the animals were up and moving around. Our theory is that it was getting near their dinner time and they were all waiting for food.

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Baby clouded leopard.

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N1 took it upon herself to take some notes while we were at the zoo.

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Those teeth!

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The Ns. It took some persuading to get this picture.

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This is normally what I have to work with. : )

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Happy Wednesday! We are checking an orthodontist appointment off our list and picking up a few groceries to get us through the week. I cannot keep food around here it seems – I think everyone is having a growth spurt all at the same time! We are looking forward to lunch with family tomorrow and some quiet days at home over the weekend. There might be some Christmas decorating, but that would also involve purchasing a tree as ours didn’t make our move of a year and a half ago (and last year we just had a tiny tree since we also had a tiny boy into everything).

Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving. : )

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mid November Daybook

Outside my window ... sunny and cool.

I am thankful ... oh yes, I am thankful. Even if I totally gave up on posting thankful thoughts every day. I have been listing as I have time and remember in a little notebook in my purse. For a fresh haircut, for taking the little girls out for Chinese food as a surprise (they love it, N1 does not and she wasn’t with us), for grace, for celebrating birthdays of friends.

First away camp.

Thankful for a good weekend for N1 at her first sleepaway camp experience. She loved it!

In the kitchen ... for the first time in several weeks I did NOTHING towards a menu plan this week and it has not been pretty. : ) Yesterday I mapped out the rest of this week and most of next and need to spend a bit more time figuring out what we are going to eat the rest of the month.

I am wearing ... my jammies. Need to get moving here in a moment…

I am creating ... lists in my head that desperately need to get on paper. I’ve finished a few Project Life layouts and would love to share them here soon I hope.

I am going ... to have a day of both highs and lows today. This morning we are all going to a funeral for my brother-in-law’s mother (my sister’s husband’s mom) who passed away last Friday. Cancer took over her body much too young and we are very sad for them. Tonight we are going to see Andrew Peterson at a homeschool benefit concert so that will be a nice way to end the day. We have been trying to see one of his Advent concerts for a couple years now, but it is very pricey. This benefit was much more in our budget and it’s for a local homeschool group – a win-win.

I am reading ... oh, yes, I’ve been doing some reading! I am taking a short Facebook break and it’s amazing how much more reading I do when that happens. I’m a bit appalled and embarrassed by that connection! Anyway, I read through Not Your Mother’s Freezer Cookbook – lots of ideas I’ve bookmarked there to try; Jewel of Persia for the November Reading to Know bookclub selection – was not a fan; and am slowly savoring the first Mitford book.

I am learning … or relearning, lessons in time management. I’ve been slightly annoyed with myself and how easily overwhelmed I have been of late. Nothing terrible, let’s-put-the-kids-in-public-school, kind of overwhelmed, but just missing things and things slipping through the cracks. I am praying for focus and some self-control so that I can do what needs to be done well and the move on to the next thing.

In the schoolroom … we are plodding along and looking forward to our three day break next week for Thanksgiving. The girls are getting an unexpected day off today with our funeral plans – it’s right smack in the middle of our day with a 45 minute drive on either side of it so there will be a decent amount of Classical Conversations review happening in the car but that’s about it. I spent some time over the weekend looking at our calendar, and truly, in spite of how I feel like we haven’t been getting stuff done, we have done a solid job of nailing the basics. Math and language arts are happening (almost) daily, and we are only a couple days behind from where I want to be in those areas.

Monday might CC prep. While I wish I was a little more ahead that prepping the night before, it is very nice and quiet in my school room. :)

Around the house ... trying to tame the mess monster in my little girls’ room. My little girls really don’t have a ton of toys, but there are so many little bits and pieces and it’s been a while since I’ve gotten in there and helped them sort everything back where it goes and really straighten. On the list for next week.

I am pondering ... Christmas plans and how to include some fun activities without overwhelming. Craving very simple this year!

A favorite quote for today ...

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My apologies that I can’t remember where I found this quote – will link to it when I find it!

One of my favorite things ... the month of December and it will be here in the blink of an eye. The traditional family things we do, the slowness I try to carve into our schedules, the time with family (and hopefully getting to meet my new baby niece this month!), and (ahem) my birthday is at the end of the month.

A few plans for the rest of the week …you’ve heard about today’s plans today already. The rest of the week / weekend include:

  • Friday: Bible study, family pizza and movie night and cleaning out the van (woo-hoo!)
  • Saturday: home! all! day! and a girl’s night out in the evening.
  • Sunday: annual Thanksgiving service at church and potluck lunch; choir for little girls in the evening.

A peek into my day ...

Discovering leaves.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Winner of A Simpler Season

Congrats to my in-real-life friend, Mills! Comment #3 was chosen by random.org so I'll be emailing you a copy of a A Simpler Season today, my friend!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Review ::: A Simpler Season by Life as Mom

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I have been a follower of the blog Life as Mom, written by Jessica Fisher, for some time now and I am excited to share a review and giveaway today from her blog!
Several summers ago I purchased a copy of her e-book, Summer Survival Guide, and it has been one of my favorite resources. By the time summer rolls around, this homeschool mama is t.i.r.e.d. and ready for a break. And planning summer activities for my kids … makes this air-conditioning lover tired. : ) Her e-book was a huge help the last two summer, giving me some creative ideas and encouragement when I was needing a little mental help.
Because I enjoyed her summer book so much, when she published her newest e-book, A Simpler Season, I snatched that one up as well. Written to encourage and inspire as you plan for the holiday season for your family, Jessica has created an e-book full of suggestions and worksheets to help you plan a simple and meaningful holiday. She helps you think through what traditions are important and what expectations you need to let go of for your family for the year and season of life. There are monthly planning calendars, budget sheets, recipes, and many other planning forms that can printed and used year after year.
You can purchase the book directly from her site here or as a Kindle e-book here (the printable pages are not included in the Kindle version but you can buy them as a packet on her site). And, for the fun part, I have a copy of A Simpler Season to give away!
To be entered in the giveaway, please leave a comment with an email. If I don’t have a way to contact you, I will draw another winner. The contest will be open until next Tuesday, November 13, at which time I’ll close the comments and draw a winner. If you can’t wait to see if you win, Jessica has a sale on the e-book through this Saturday (the 10th) – enter the code SIMPLER3 and get $3 off.
I purchased my own copy of A Simpler Season and had read and loved it before I was sent a copy to review. All opinions are my own and I haven’t been compensated in any way for this review, although I have been given a copy to giveaway.

Comments are now closed. Random.org picked comment #3 - congratulations Mills!

Monday, November 05, 2012

30 Days of Thanks ::: Day 5

#Thankful to have found my charm bracelet which had been lost for almost two years!

Finding a special bracelet this weekend that I thought was long gone (…like missing for almost two years).

Finding a new tactic for working with my kindergartener. I don’t know how long we will stick with it, but today was a good day.

A new plan of attack with B.

For my B, with her twinkly deep chocolate-y eyes.

Boys in boxes.

Boy in a box.

Warm spaghetti for dinner (from yummy sauce in my freezer) after a day where I was chilled all day.

Counting my gifts this November.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

30 Days of Thanks ::: 4

An extra hour of sleep, capitalized on by falling asleep early.

Learning about “counting it all joy” in the book of James.

Watching a child overcome a fear and rejoicing with her.

Finding an extra good deal on a Christmas gift that a little one wished for and being excited to surprise her with it.

Planning for the week ahead and thankful for the gift of being home with my munchkins.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

30 Days of Thanks ::: 3

Thankful for a few minutes on a Saturday afternoon to work on #projectlife.

A few stolen moments to scrapbook on a Saturday afternoon.

The last day of Saturday soccer and for beautiful weather at 9am, though a wee bit chilly.

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For a girl that finished her season well.

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For the support of family that came out to cheer her on today, complete with “go B” sign and yells of “go Big B!” from her cousin. 

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For crazy toothed smiles.

For hot dogs and marshmallows cooked over an open fire, and fellowship with friends, even if it does get cut short on account of rain.

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Counting my gifts this November.

Friday, November 02, 2012

31 Days of Thanks ::: 2

Thankful for early morning time in the Word.

Early morning time in the Word.

Bible study and brunch.

Face-to-face time with a friend.

A wise husband that listens to whirling thoughts and ideas and gives needed perspective.

Little boys that never slow down to snuggle like this anymore. Thankful for the brief respite cuddling with him after a long week.

He fell asleep on me at 4:57pm. This never happens. Thankful for snuggles of a tired boy.

Counting my gifts this November.

Project Life Week 39 // October 7-13

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On the left:
  • the October birthday trio
  • a collage of pics of the boy opening his gifts (I used a little photo collage from Paislee Press)
  • T reading with B before bed
  • reflections on turning two
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On the right:
  • a photo documenting pumpkin love. I took a picture of the pan of pumpkin granola I made and taped two instagrams on top of it with a little Target washi tape.
  • finally caught one of my niece’s softball games this fall
  • Bible study – I was a teacher’s assistant in N2’s class today
  • moving day for my parents! Lots of little helpers (and some big ones, too). Again, I taped a few instagrams on top of a 4x6 photo for a little more mileage in my pocket.
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Have you seen the fun announcements that have been coming from Becky’s blog this week? Project Life is going to be available in stores (and still on Amazon), Studio Calico is putting together a Project Life monthly scrapbooking kit (this has me VERY intrigued!), and yesterday she announced the call for her 2013 Creative Team. I admit, I would love to be on her PL creative time so, with a little trepidation, I submitted a few of my layouts and information for consideration. I have no idea how many people will submit their names for the dozen or so spots, but I decided to go for it. We shall see. : )
Happy Friday! We’re off to Bible study here in a bit so I need to get moving. Hope you all have a good day and wonderful weekend. It’s our last Saturday of fall soccer tomorrow and we’re excited because the whole (extended) family may be turning out to cheer our B on. : )
Project Life is a product and a system created by Becky Higgins and available on Amazon.com. It can be anything you want it to be. You can view all my posts about Project Life here. I'm always happy to answer questions about how Project Life works for me, if you have any.