Blogs I’m Loving: January 2014

I’m always looking for good blogs to read!  I don’t look for a specific blog type to read (special needs, craft, christian, photography, etc), instead I look for blogs that inspire me.  Today I am going to share seven blogs that are some of my current favorites!

1)  Sacred Mundane

Kari (rhymes with sorry) is a mom, pastor’s wife, & believer who strives each day to share the beauty of the everyday.  When I first read her blog, I was struck by these words:  There is no ordinary work.  All of life is worship.  Every breath is a prayer.

Kari just released a new e-book called I Will Look Up:  31 Mornings Seeking Him First.  It is currently FREE on Amazon so snag it while you can.  I got mine yesterday and look forward to digging in!

2)  Beauty That Moves

First and foremost, Heather’s photography is AMAZING!  I am totally fascinated by all of her posts about gardening as I have a total black thumb.  She has inspired me to try my hand at a small garden!  I always leave her blog feeling refreshed and very calm, which are two things I really need!

3)  FIMBY (Fun In My Backyard)

I started reading Renee’s blog last spring and just found myself coming back. Renee’s family lives in Canada and they homeschool their 3 kids.  I’ve enjoyed reading her philosophy on homeschooling and learning…very refreshing!  Their family will be hiking through the Appalachian Trail this year.  I can’t wait to follow their adventures!  You can read all about their plans and preparations on her blog.

4)  I Love It All

I recently found Monika through Instagram.  When I went to her blog I instantly fell in love with her projects, printables, and tutorials.  I am looking forward to all the fun things that Monika will share this year!

5)  Steady Mom

I’ve been reading Jamie’s blog for a couple of years and I just love her encouraging style of writing.  She writes about homeschooling, adoption, and intentional parenting!  You are sure to be encouraged as well!

6) Life As Mom

I can not recall how I found Jessica’s blog, but I’m thinking it was through Pinterest. Jessica blogs about a lot of different things, but what really kept me coming back to her blog was her series of posts on frugal living and freezer cooking.  I have tried many of her freezer cooking recipes and my family loves them!  We are looking forward to completing her Pantry Challenge as we prepare for our move this summer.  She is currently doing a 12 Days of Christmas giveaway that you will want to enter!

7)  Lemonade Makin’ Mama

I bought something through Sasha’s shop last year and then started reading her blog.  I love her clean approach to photography and decorating.  Every time I read her blog, I want to start decluttering.  She has an adorable etsy shop with cute prints and towels.  Her heart for Jesus shines through her writing!

There you have it!  I hope that you will check out these blogs and be encouraged and inspired by them like I have been.

What are your favorite blogs?  I’d love to check them out!

Make it great!


I Seriously Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

Oh my goodness!  My girls make me laugh!  Today after school, Skylar came down the hill waving a paper with a list of songs on it.  She does this all the time as she LOVES to make a CD of her favorite songs and often times she will make her “play list” during 7th period at school.  It is pretty funny to see her collection of songs. The same CD can have praise & worship music, songs from Rent or Mamma Mia, and Josh Groban.  She has quite an eclectic taste in music.

So today as we were driving to pick Chris up from work (he had a tire issue) the following conversation took place:

Skylar:  Mom, I made my list today & I need dad to buy 3 songs from iTunes.

Me:  Ok, what songs are they?

Skylar:  Teenage Dream, California Girls (Katy Perry version), & Evacuate the Dance Floor.

Me:  Sky, we aren’t going to buy California Girls because it is just not appropriate to listen to.

Skylar:  It isn’t?

Hailey:  No it isn’t!  In one part of the song they say “sex on the beach”.  That isn’t appropriate, although I’m sure you don’t even know what it means!

Me:  (stunned & a bit confused) Wow Hailey!  Do YOU know what that means?

Hailey:  Why yes, yes I do!

Me:  Well what does it mean?

Hailey:  Seriously mom?  I am NOT going to talk about that in front of Skylar!

Are you kidding me?  I seriously can’t make this stuff up!  I’m thinking that I need to sit down and have a talk with Hailey sooner rather than later!

Hope you are having lots of laughs this week!

Make it great!


Morning Mayhem

I don’t know about you, but mornings around here are totally crazy!  I think my hair might actually go gray this year between Skylar being completely unyielding with her morning routine and Hailey moving at her own pace, which is NOT fast.  I’m so thankful to have Chris home with me in the mornings to help me get the girls ready and dropped off at school.  He has always been a tremendous help to me whether it be making the girls’ lunches, pulling Skylar’s meds, or just keeping the girls moving to get out the door on time.  The 7 months he was deployed to Afghanistan were quite interesting as I was working full time as a school nurse and we had to be early to school.  I remember waking each morning at 5 a.m. and saying to myself “Ok, here we go!”

This morning was no different.  The morning started off well.  Skylar woke up in a pretty good mood which was awesome!  After I wake her up, I wait to see what her response is going to be.  Some mornings she says “Uggghh!  I didn’t sleep well at all!” or “It is 6:34 mom!  You woke me up 4 minutes late!”  Those mornings I just brace myself for the roller coaster ride that will be our morning.  This morning she said “Hi mom!  How was your bunco?”  I played bunco last night and she was already asleep when I got home.  I was thrilled that she woke up in a good mood as I know that our morning should go a bit smoother.

Everything appeared to be going smoothly until Skylar took her medicine before she ate her breakfast.  Hailey was NOT happy with that at all and the following exchange took place:

Hailey: You can’t take your medicine before you eat!  What are you thinking?

Skylar:  Hailey! How dare you speak to me like that!  You are not my mother!

Hailey:  Shame on you Skylar.  Don’t ever speak to me like that.

Skylar:  Mom!!!  Hailey is being rude to me!

Me:  Seriously?  Both of you cut it out.  Skylar, finish getting ready.  Hailey, stop telling Skylar what to do.  Your dad and I have it under control.

Hailey:  Clearly, she needs more help mom!

Oh my!  I’m not sure why, but Hailey has taken it upon herself to be an additional parent figure to Skylar, which Skylar absolutely can’t stand.  I feel like a broken record that constantly repeats “Hailey, quit bossing your sister around.  Hailey, we are taking care of it. Hailey, stop parenting Skylar”.  I must say those words 20 times a day.

As the girls were getting into Chris’ car I said “Skylar, I love you!  I’ll be waiting for you in the pick up line!  Hailey,  I love you!  I’ll be waiting for you in the front of the school!”  They both hollered “I love you too mom!”  For years, when we drop them off or are sending them off to anything whether it be school, church, or grandma’s house, we say “Make good choices!”  This morning after I told them I loved them I hollered “Make good choices!!”  Standing at the laundry room door I could hear Hailey all the way from Chris’ car say:

“She MUST be talking to Skylar because I ALWAYS make good choices!”

Clearly, we still have more work to do!

Make it a great one!


The Power of Words!

Our words are SO powerful!  They have the power to build someone up or to tear someone down.  I have been on the receiving end of hurtful words more times than I can remember.  Sadly enough, I have been on the giving end of hurtful words more than I would care to admit.  I recently wrote about Words & Their Consequences.  You can read about that here if you missed it.  Today I want to focus on the power of using our words to encourage others.

Over the years I have learned that my girls do NOT respond well to raised voices.  In fact, Hailey will completely shut down if she gets yelled at by anyone. When I was a school nurse, one of the perks of my job was that I got to choose Hailey’s teacher.  I didn’t have a choice with Skylar as she was in the inclusion class. I was always blessed that, overall, she had great teachers. Many of those teachers are some of my best friends today!  Picking a teacher for Hailey wasn’t as easy a task as you might think.  She works at her own pace.  She doesn’t get in a hurry for anyone!  When Hailey was in Kindergarten, her teacher lovingly said that “Hailey runs on Hailey Central Time”.  I remember thinking that was a perfect description!  I’m pretty sure that all of her past teachers would agree with that!

When I chose her teacher for the following year I had many criteria, but the most important thing was that the teacher was firm, but loving.  Following that criteria has NEVER failed me.  When I think back on all of her teachers from preschool until now (5th grade) they have all been women who were firm, but very loving and motherly towards her. They were also women who were great encouragers! For that, I am eternally grateful!

Years ago I read a book by Gary Chapman called the Five Love Languages.  He also wrote a book Five Love Languages of Children.  There are also a bunch of other versions (teens, men, etc.). Basically there are 5 love languages (gifts, quality time, acts of service, physical touch, and words of affirmation).  Hailey’s love languages are definitely: words of affirmation & quality time.  I honestly believe that Hailey would rather hear us tell her we love her or that she is doing a great job than get a new toy or game.  She also loves to have one on one time with me or Chris.  Skylar on the other hand would take a new video game any day of the week!

We tell the girls that we love them probably 30-40 times a day, but I’m always looking for new and creative ways to love on them.  Earlier in the school year I put a rice crispy treat in Hailey’s lunch.  This wasn’t anything new, but it was one of those treats that is pre-packaged with a space to write something on it.  I decided to jot a quick note:  “Hailey…I think you are AWESOME!” on it.  The next morning as I was packing her lunch, she said “Hey mom, did you write a note on my rice crispy treat yesterday?”  I of course told her that I did.  She then said “I really loved that!”  Well that got me thinking on what other things I could do to tell her or show her that I love her. Last year, I saw a really neat idea on Becky Higgins’ website and decided to implement it in our own home.

I purchased these really awesome “I love you because” prints made from kikicomin. She sells them in various sizes, but I purchased 8×10 prints.  I put them in frames I bought from Hobby Lobby and hung them in our entry way.  I use a dry-erase marker and write directly on the glass. I love that I can just quickly wipe off the glass and write something new.  She also sells them as part of a set you can download, print off, and slip in your kids’ lunch boxes.  I LOVE that idea!!

Just a little side note:  Kiki sells these for a discounted rate if you buy multiples, so I bought 8 of these and gave 4 to my sister so that she could use them for her 4 kids.  I hung the 2 in my entry way, but I am planning on using the other 2 so that Chris and I can write notes to each other as well.  I just sent her a quick e-mail telling her what I needed and she was super quick in getting back to me.

I had NO idea that this would become such a hit with the girls.  Hailey especially loves them!  Every morning when she comes upstairs, the first thing she does is look to see what I’ve written on the frame.  And let me tell you, if I haven’t changed the saying, she lets me know!  She has even brought the marker to me and said “You need to change my frame mom!”

It’s been really fun to come up with different reasons for why I love them.  I try to do a mix of funny and heartwarming.  Sometimes it is a simple as “I love you because….you took the laundry to the laundry room”  or “I love you because….you changed out the toilet paper roll”.  The key is to show your loved ones that you love and appreciate them.  It has definitely been a wonderful addition to our home!

So today I am challenging you to find a new way to show your family that you love and appreciate them!  It can be something big or something small.  But remember, even if YOU think it is small, it could be HUGE to them.  Just like the rice crispy treat!

Make it a great day!


*Don’t forget about my giveaway that is going on through Sunday for a set of Goosie Cards.  Click here to read about it!

Not Alone…Finally!

When Skylar was diagnosed over 9 years ago I knew very few people that had children with Autism.  There was no Facebook, no Twitter, and very few support groups for parents of children with Autism.  I met Tina, who I blogged about here, and she was really my only friend and confidant in the world of Autism.  Over the past 9 years I’ve made some great friends that have children with Autism and other special needs and those bonds have remained strong.  There is just something about being with other parents of kids with special needs.  It is safe!  You don’t worry about being judged.  If your kid has a melt down, no one bats an eye, whispers, or looks at you funny.  It is just so comfortable.

Since moving back to Arizona this past spring I’ve struggled with finding my place.  I’ve felt really lonely.  The past few days were extremely difficult as Skylar has been sick for the better part of the week and I had only left the house once to pick Hailey up from school.  On Sunday afternoon I decided to hop on the computer and check Facebook, Twitter, and a few blogs that I regularly read.  When I signed into Twitter I saw that the hashtag “You might be an autism parent if” had started just minutes earlier.  I decided to jump in and share some of my thoughts and I LOVED reading all of the things people were writing.  I loved that it was not only parents, but siblings, therapists, doctors and authors.  I loved that people were sharing humorous stories and I was laughing and then the next minute someone shared something so heart wrenching that I would think “Yes!  I’ve been there too!   You are NOT alone!”

I spent hours reading and sharing and I hated when it was time for me to sign off.  The topic went strong for over 4 hours and today people were still sharing their thoughts.  I wanted to share some of my favorite things that have been shared so far and who shared them.

My delightful Twitter friends say “You might be an autism parent if”:

-you had to defend your child to his math teacher because he doesn’t “show his work” (@DefytheSpectrum)

-you still get nervous before an IEP no matter how many times you’ve had one (@gregoriouslife)

-sometimes you have to accept that you go to bed knowing you might not have done your best today, but you survived! (@calormom)

-your therapists are part of your family (@JennySKing)

-Some days you don’t have much to say to “normal” parents (@manyhatsmommyMI)

-you watch a movie via your child mimicking it back at you instead of watching it on TV (@thepyxie)

-you’ve left a full cart in the store and left because of a meltdown (@BeckyH_253)

-one moment you feel completely alone & the next, you’re a part of a large, passionate & supportive community (@autismfather)

-you’re reading these posts and wondering “where have you all been all my life??” (@MojoMamaBlog)

And, my personal favorite:

-the once-in-a- lifetime kid catastrophe that another family would never forget?  At your house, it’s called “Tuesday”! (@BobbiSheahan)

Seriously…I could list so many!  Head over to Twitter and follow the #youmightbeanautismparentif thread.  I know that you will laugh, cry, & maybe learn a thing or two!

I love the new people I met last night and look forward to following their journeys.  There is definite comfort in knowing “I’m not alone!”

Have a fantastic week!


*I was nominated for one of Babble’s Top Autism Spectrum Blogs.  I’m totally honored by this.  If you read my blog and you have found it helpful I would appreciate your vote.  I am currently in the 30′s.  You can click here and search for I Am JuJu, then click on the “I Like This” icon.  I believe you can only vote for one blog per computer/device. Thank you so much for your support!  I love sharing our journey with others and I truly hope that it brings hope and understanding regarding Autism.*