Dear Beginning Blogger, Learn

Dear Beginning Blogger,

It’s time for another tidbit of wisdom and encouragement from me to you.  Today’s message? LEARN.

Little by little, I’m writing to you with all the things I wish I’d known in those first months of blogging.

Step one: just focus on writing. Get comfortable with words and discover your voice.

Step two: just be awesome on social media. Engage in conversations and not just infomercials for your blog.

Step three: learn.  This blogging thing isn’t easy. There are a lot of different things to learn and you don’t have to do it alone.

It’s not just writing. It’s figuring out all the technical “hosting things”, the fiddly bits of HTML and CSS, and the incomprehensible logic of when to post what to where. It’s all the statistics you slept through in college. It’s the unspoken etiquette on Pinterest and Twitter.

It’s enough to keep you up at night. All night. Every night.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

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how to rekindle your passion as a mom

The idea of living your life with passion sounds great.

The idea of being passionate for God’s calling on my life sounds amazing.

Except…

Sometimes, God’s calling doesn’t sound very exciting.

Sometimes, my life feels about as passion filled and exciting as the tax code.

That endless parade of daily activities feels a bit like Groundhog Day and can drain the life right out of me.

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why i love ultimate bundles

I love Ultimate Bundles. Finding out what’s in each bundle (and what all the bonus offers are) is almost like Christmas for me.

You may have missed the Ultimate Christian Bundle, but there’s no excuse to miss the next sale. The Healthy Living Bundle, Homeschooling Bundle, and DIY Bundle sales are only a few months away.

Y’all. I love these bundle sales.  I’ve bought several of them and there is ALWAYS something amazing in them.

(Just to let you know, I love them so much that I’ve joined as an affiliate partner. But even if I wasn’t a partner, I’d be loving this bundle.)

Here’s my top five reasons why I LOVE these bundles:

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Why I changed my coffee habit

Starting in July, I made a radical change to my coffee habit.  A month of vacation had given my husband and I a LOT of chances to drink bad hotel coffee, over priced coffee drinks, and a few really spectacular cups of handcrafted heaven-in-a-cup.

I was looking forward to getting home and curling up in my favorite chair with my coffee every morning.  I’d expected to return to my time-tested routine.

Stumble downstairs, grope for the power button on the Keurig, count the seconds until it’s ready to go, and then inhale the fumes until I can actually DRINK the coffee.

Except…

We were out of k-cups. [Read more…]

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Singing for Joy (your life deserves a soundtrack)

singing for joyThis morning, I woke up singing for Joy.  Literally.

By the time we were getting dressed, they were singing right along with me.

I hadn’t had my coffee yet, and I am NOT a morning person.  To me, the day just isn’t worth starting until about 10am.  But put the right play-list on, and I’m a dancing fool at 6am.

When I start the day that way, it tends to set the tone for the whole day.  I can tell you right now that it’s going to be a great day at my house because I managed to start it with joy.

Want to know what had me singing in my hairbrush this morning? (my kids joined in on the chorus) [Read more…]

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Review: 75 Ways to Have More Fun at Home

75 ways to have more fun at homeAnna over at My Life and Kids has just released her new ebook titled 75 Ways to Have More Fun at Home.

It’s awesome.

Obviously, there are a bunch (75) of ideas to help you play with your kids and have more fun at home.  (At $3.99 for the book, that’s a little more than a nickel for each idea. Bargain!)

Most of them are free-ish, require no advance preparation or crafting skills, and can be spontaneously implemented.

FREE + EASY + SPONTANEOUS = AWESOME!

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Why Content Brew Rocks

content-brew-course-125-aI blog on a budget, so paying for Content Brew wasn’t an easy decision.  Any time I spend money for one thing, it means I have less money to spend elsewhere.

But I’m so glad I did.

Melissa Culbertson from MomComm made the class worth every penny, and then some. [Read more…]

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Magic White Sauce Dinner – The End of the Eggs

s simple dinner from thishappymom.comI’ll bet you are wondering what Magic White Sauce Dinner is, what it has to do with eggs.

When my mother-in-law shared her secret for peeling hard boiled eggs, she also gave me her treasured recipe for creamed eggs.  My husband was excited because it’s actually a recipe that he remembers fondly and wishes I would could for him.

Her recipe involves potato starch, cubed chicken boullion and powdered non-dairy creamer. Yummy (not).  I don’t even keep those ingredients in my house.  In my MIL’s defense, she has multiple food allergies.  She had to figure out how to cook gluten and dairy free back in the 70’s, and this was her solution. [Read more…]

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Learning American Geography The Easy Way (review)

Three products I LOVE that make teaching US Geography a breeze from thishappymom.comToday’s post features THREE products that work well together to make Learning American geography easy.  Any one of the three is a great way for your kids to grasp the basics (state names, locations, major cities).  The best part is that kids think they are PLAYING, not learning.

We aren’t a flashcard kind of family, but I wanted my children to know more basic American geography than what they had learned at school (they have completed Kindergarden and 2nd grade, I’m being ambitious).  Instead, I decided to approach teaching my kids the basics using tools they already love.  Since I couldn’t find a Lego state map kit, that translated into video games, puzzles, and family board games.

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Road Trip Game Review: Rory’s Story Cubes

I almost always have this little gem tucked into my purse or tote.  They can keep my kids quietly entertained and content - without batteries.These Story Cubes are perfect to tuck in your bag for road trip games or to keep your kids calm while you wait.

They really are a go-to item in my no-fail boredom busting super secret arsenal of mom tricks.

“Once upon a time, there was an unhappy boy. He needed to walk across a bridge to get home. He couldn’t see a way, so he called his friends. They helped him, and he was very happy. They all played a game together. The End.” Story by GoGo, age 6.

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It may not be great literature, but GoGo made it up on his own, in five minutes, while sitting at the dinner table. He did it using Story Cubes from GameWright.

I love my Rory’s Story Cubes

I keep these cubes in my purse (the box is about 3 x 5 x 1 inches in size) to keep my kids entertained when we are waiting for stuff. We take turns making up stories using some or all of the cubes.

At times, we even make the stories up collaboratively, or continue a story through more than one roll of the dice.

The boys look forward to playing, and have asked me to get the second set of cubes so we can expand our story telling. They love to hear the stories I make up, and I love the sounds of my happy children giggling and creating stories together.

They have NO CLUE this is supposed to be an educational game. They are having fun and that’s all they care about.

I recommend this highly for ages 6 to adult. It’s a great travel game for your road trips this summer.

Disclosure: Clicking on the link above will take you to Amazon. I bought the game from Amazon over a year ago, well before joining their affiliate program.

3/14/13:  Updated:

Rory has some new cubes and they are fabulous! The new set is Voyages.  Just when my kids thought they had run out of ideas, Rory comes out with a new set of cubes.  We now own ALL THREE SETS.

I mix and match to only cary NINE at a time, but each box would actually hold 12 cubes.

After almost a year of continually living in the bottom of my purse or tote, the box still holds up.  I don’t think I’ve EVER had the magnetic closure come open.

Why only nine cubes instead of 12?  Because the other three slots are reserved for math dice.

I love my math dice too.

I can fit two blue cubes and one white dodecahedron (that’s the name for the 12 sided thing).

Both of these are great road trip games.

In the car, I keep a small plastic container to let the kids roll the dice as we drive down the road.  When we use a clear container, they can shake the cubes and see them WHILE THE LID IS ON.  No lost pieces.

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