Thriving Thursday 9/11

Don’t miss my great list of nearly 40 free books for kindle that you can get right now…all from the best publishers and authors in Christian fiction, so definitely check that out.

What have you been up to this week?

There were so many FANTASTIC posts linked up last week and I can’t wait to see what you ladies have to share this week :)

Thriving Thursdays Link Up!!!

Thriving Thursdays is a link up for family-friendly bloggers, who are choosing to THRIVE in their lives. It’s a place for us to encourage and inspire one another to live life to the fullest–in Jesus Christ. Link up your posts about thriving–in marriage, faith, parenting, homemaking, relationships, in the kitchen, in frugality.

Everything we do can be a ministry and worship to our Lord. Link up as many posts as you want, and I hope that you’ll take the time to visit some other participants as well.

I am so blessed by the posts you all share! I really look forward to seeing all of the encouragement shared here each week. Keep it coming! Sometimes I highlight posts here, and I also pin my favorites to the Thriving Thursdays Pinterest Board.


Mom’s Night Out Movie {Review & Giveaway}

Disclosure: I received a copy of this for review from the publisher. I was not otherwise compensated, nor was I required to write a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Moms Night Out Movie


Back in the spring, I watched as facebook and other social media lit up with this ridiculous looking movie called “Mom’s Night Out.” I shook my head as women around me fawned over it. I was pretty sure I would hate it. I am not a fan of slapstick comedy or shows that make dads look like idiots, and this movie seemed to have plenty of both.

I appreciated that it was a positive, family-friendly movie, but didn’t think it was for me.

So, when a good friend of mine called and asked if I’d like to go see it with her and another good friend, I wasn’t excited about it. However, I decided to go because I wanted to spend that time with my friends.

I am so glad I did.

About the Movie

Just in case you haven’t seen the buzz about this movie, here’s the rundown…

All Allyson and her friends want is a peaceful, grown-up evening of dinner and conversation . . . a long-needed moms’ night out. But in order to enjoy high heels, adult conversation and food not served in a paper bag, they need their husbands to watch the kids for three hours—what could go wrong? 

This abstract is partly what made me not excited to watch the movie. The little info given here somewhat implies that all the problems of the night (and you can see from the trailer below that there are MANY), are the fault of inept husbands.

However, just a little spoiler here–the movie shows plenty of ineptness, and it’s not all from the husbands. There are also plenty of good parenting moments, and they aren’t all from the wives. So, in that respect, the movie is much more balanced than I first though.


What I thought

I really enjoyed this movie and was touched by it.

Yes, there is a lot of slapstick comedy. There are highly exaggerated and ridiculous situations, and sometimes the adults look more incompetent than I would like them to.

However, in the end, the message in this movie is just beautiful. There are plenty of opportunities to laugh. We laughed so hard we cried. And, if you’re sappy like me, there were plenty of opportunities to cry as well. But it was a wonderful, feel-good, family-friendly movie.

I loved how the movie dove right into Alyson’s insecurities as a wife and mom. It was scary how much I could relate, and how accurate her character was in depicting those thoughts that so many moms deal with.

The movie also offers a nice shout-out to homeschooling, which was fun for me. Fun fact: this movie was written, produced, and directed by The Erwin Brothers, who were homeschooled! You can read more from Jon Erwin about that here.

If you are a mom, I do believe you will enjoy this movie! I couldn’t wait to get the dvd so my hubby and I could watch it together on one of our at-home date nights. It is not just for moms. This movie is enjoyable for all audiences.

You can get your copy on DVD at Amazon.

A Giveaway Just for You!

Now for the exciting part…I get to give away one of these brand new DVD’s (just released Sept 2) to one of you!

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment letting me know why you’d like to win :)  This giveaway is now over. Congrats to Lora F.

The giveaway is only open to US and Canada residents, and ends at 11:59 9/16/2014. Winner chosen at random and prize fulfilled by Fly By Promotions.

Have you seen the Mom’s Night Out movie?




No-Bake Granola Bites

No bake granola bites--A yummy treat and healthy, too!

I received a review copy of the Gooseberry Patch Good-For-You Everyday Meals cookbook, and I am loving the great ideas I’ve found in it so far! I shared the Banana Nut Bread Muffins a few weeks ago, and today I’m sharing these healthy no-bake granola bites.

They are a great snack–leave out the mini chocolate chips and add some extra dried cranberries for a completely real food snack. I like these for when I am having a sweet craving. They are just enough to hit the spot, but not something that will lead to a binge. And, they are a healthy treat, packed with protein and fiber.

As always, I have changed up a few ingredients based on our preferences and/or our pantry contents. And, just being real, one of my “adjustments” was because I didn’t fully read the instructions, and poured all my coconut flakes in at once before I realized I wasn’t supposed to. Most were supposed to be reserved for rolling them in as a coating. However, “ain’t nobody got time for” all that rolling each ball in coconut flakes business. So, I just put it all together and it worked out just fine.

No-Bake Granola Bites


  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 2/3 cup natural peanut butter (look for only peanuts, salt on the ingredients list)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dried cranberries
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


Combine all ingredients. Mix with clean hands until well combined. If mixture is too dry, add additional honey or peanut butter. If mixture is too wet, add additional oats. Form into 1-inch balls. Store in air-tight container. Easy Peasy!

Note: I put mine on a cookie sheet and put them in the refrigerator until they were chilled. I then put them in a container and stored them in the refrigerator. They are great chilled and seem to hold together better that way.

no bake granola bites --delicious and healthy!


When the World is Your Classroom {Why We Don’t Use Formal Curriculum}

When the World is your classroom--why one family doesn't use formal curriculum in their homeschool.

I’ve had a lot of questions lately about our laid back style of schooling. So, I am going to do a little series, “When the World is Your Classroom” to share about some of our methods and philosophies.

I tend to be an out-of-the-box kind of person. Not in a unique and creative way, but in a more annoying, don’t-really-fit-in-anywhere kind of way. None of the defined homeschooling methods really describe us, so I just say that we are eclectic and laid back…with a leaning toward unit studies, unschooling, and Charlotte Mason. And probably some others thrown in there as well.

There is one thing we are not and that is traditional. We don’t use traditional textbooks or structured curriculum.

This fact has earned me many raised eye brows and dropped jaws over the past couple of years, so I thought I would take some time to explain why we chose this non-traditional route.

It all comes back to our philosophy about education in general.  I have shared before about our mission statement and vision for homeschooling, Here are some of the beliefs we hold that led us to a more laid-back style of schooling.

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. ~Albert Einstein

Learning should be fun

The Reading Game Review & Giveaway

My number one priority, academically, for these early years is to instill in my children a love of learning. I believe that is the single most important thing for a child to learn in these early years.

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. -William Butler Yeats

If I push and push, I can teach them a few things. Maybe even a lot of things. But if I inspire them with a deeply ingrained love of learning, there is no limit to what they can learn. And that passion will carry them far beyond a few facts and figures. I believe if the desire to learn is present, all the facts and figures will take care of themselves, naturally.

School is never forced for us. I facilitate, but we are very child-directed. Because of this, my children will spend a morning doing worksheets, playing educational games, and exploring the world around them. I check off those boxes of things they needed to learn, and they will tell someone who asks that they didn’t do school that day.

To them, they didn’t do school, they just had fun. But they were learning what they need to know, which I consider a win-win.

That’s not to say we don’t believe in and teach the value of being disciplined, we do that as well, just not with textbooks.

Learning is Natural, Textbooks are not

Babies are born with a natural curiosity.  Learning does not have to be forced. I have seen so many children begin their schooling with this curiosity and passion for learning, only to have it quickly snuffed out by lessons that are dry, boring, and forced.

My boys do worksheets as they desire, and it is an amazing thing. Some days, they don’t want to do them. So I don’t make them. Other days, they ask, completely unprovoked, if they can get out the workbooks. They have been known to do an entire workbook in one sitting!  By allowing them to have this bit of freedom, schooling remains fun for them. And we still stay “on track.”

Relaxed Homeschooling

The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives. ~Robert Maynard Hutchins

Learning Should Be Practical and Applicable

We believe that learning should be practical and applicable. We live in an area with a large Amish population. Their children attend Amish schools only through 8th grade. Yet they are very smart. They are successful tradesmen and entrepreneurs.

Among the general population, there is a growing trend of young people going back to trade schools rather than pursuing a traditional college education.

Caeden Name

Because it is practical, and applicable to the student. We believe that our children will naturally seek out the knowledge and skills as they are necessary for them. We don’t believe in forced fluff and busywork. It doesn’t make sense to us to deny our children’s natural curiosity and teach, instead, things that aren’t any more relevant to them just because someone said so.

Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants. ~John W. Gardner

Learning Should be a Life-Long Venture

We believe that learning is a life long venture, and that it can’t possibly be contained to school books and school hours. So, we don’t want to even try. We’ve been watching Little House on the Prairie lately and on Laura and Mary’s first day of school, the following exchange took place between Laura and her mother:

Laura: Mom, how long is all this learning going to take?

Ma: We start learning when we’re born, Laura. And if we’re wise, we don’t stop until the Lord calls us home.

DPA Settlement Boys

I have found that so often among students, they see learning as something that happens with textbooks, and ends with the school day or when they graduate. We want our children to associate learning with life and not with school.

Learning Should be True-to-Life

Building on the fact that we believe learning to be a life long venture, we believe that our boys’ education should prepare them for that. We want to teach them now how to take initiative and learn as adults, and not depend on a textbook to tell them what they should know, or learn, or be interested in.

They say that we are better educated than our parents’ generation. What they mean is that we go to school longer. It is not the same thing. ~Richard Yates

As adults, we should be constantly learning. But if we’re honest, most of our learning doesn’t come from textbooks. It comes from the wisdom of people around us, living books, and it comes from doing. We believe that education is more effective when it is hands-on. We are in a unique position to allow our children to learn through experiences rather than textbooks. We believe it is both more fun, and more effective.

For example, which would you be more likely to remember? Reading a textbook lesson about tree tapping and maple syrup, or engaging in that process yourself?

Tap My Trees Taste Sap

Closing Thoughts

I am not suggesting that everyone give up their textbooks. My boys have a love of learning. Is it because we have fostered this attitude, or is it something unique to them? That is hard to say. But because of their natural excitement for the simple things, this method of home educating works really well for us. I’m not saying it would work for everyone. However, I do believe in these principles.

This post is a part of iHomeschool Network’s dueling blog posts. Click here to see why my friend Judy prefers to school her children with textbooks.



When All Else Fails…He Won’t

Perfect Peace

The word of God is powerful. It is convicting, encouraging, comforting, and alive. God’s word can meet us where we are in any moment to provide exactly what we need. If we will only come to Him through His word.

Last week, I shared the above image (minus the verse which I added later), on my facebook page and asked the community to share one word that comes to mind. The responses were so inspiring and fun to read!

This image kept coming back to me throughout the week.

I can just see an elderly women with this well-worn Bible in her hands.

It is well-worn because she has turned to God’s word in many times of need, and it has carried her through many trials. Times of grief and sorrow, fear and uncertainty. Death, despair, financial problems. Regardless of what you are going through…there is a verse for it. 

I have been visiting a new church over the past few weeks where the pastor has been talking about trials and hardships and how we need those times, for so many reasons. But we can only get the full benefit from them as we draw nearer to Him. I am not saying that we should only turn to God and His word in times of hardship. Absolutely not.

We should be in His word daily, for so many different reasons. But, what I am saying is that when those times of sorrow and despair come, His word is there to sustain us. God should be the very first place we turn to in such times–through prayer and reading His word.

When I saw this image, my word was “peace.”

Peace that passes all understanding (Phil 4:6-7). I love the verse, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You.” (Isaiah 26:3). It is so true. If our mind is kept on Him, focused on Him…we can’t have anything else but peace. 

Paul calls us to set our minds on things above, and not on earthly things. That is the only guaranteed way to have peace in this life. Because the trials of this world are so small compared to the greatness and glory of God. When we focus on Him and His glory, and trust in His sovereignty, and know that we are held firmly in the palm of His hands, no matter what hardships and trials come our way…then we are kept in His perfect peace.

Because no matter the trial, He is there. He is still on His throne, and “it is well with my soul.”

When all else fails, He never will. And we can rest in that. 


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