2 Ways We Battle Technology at Our House (& Why Our Kids Keep Their Phone Chargers In The Kitchen)

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I have struggled to share much about what we do to combat the technology wars (because I know all parents have different views on this one!), but several years ago a friend of mine gave me the. best. advice for managing technology for our kids at home and I am so thankful.


So I decided it was time to share. 🙂 


Our kids are 15, 12, and 8, and for Christmas my middle one got her first iPhone. (We so scored a decent deal ~ she got a refurbished iPhone 4 on Amazon for $59, which so far has been the perfect choice.)


The problem is, our 15 year old son has gotten my phone used iPhones when I was ready for a upgrade, so there was no way we could purchase a brand new spankin’ phone for her (nor did we want to pay full price!) However, since we don’t have a home phone she really did need a way to get in touch with us some times, and sticking to iPhones is just easier for our family.




With those iPhones come a lot of things we don’t love. 


I don’t love that they have full access to everything. (We’ve set up monitors for that, but they’re smarter than me so I’m pretty sure they can see whatever they want if they really try.)


I don’t love that it makes it so much easier to access social media, and feel “less than” someone else at times. (This one just is so hard ~ while there are so many things that I really do like about social media, this one hurts!)


And I don’t love that so often they become more interested in their phone than our family.


Ahem. Often times I don’t like that I become more interested in my phone than our family. yikes. 


But there are two simple things we’ve done that have at least limited some of the battles, and I’m so glad we started out this way. Ready? 


Here we go.



Our kids don’t have televisions in their rooms. 


They just don’t.


In fact, for 18 years we only had one television for our family of 5, which (for the most part) was just fine. Since moving and having a basement in our new home we did add one TV there, but it doesn’t get used all that often (and my kids choose to hang out in our main living area if they can.) By limiting the television sets in our home, our kids just naturally kind of hang out in our main living area.


As they’re getting older and have friends over, I do love that we at least have the option of having the basement for them to hang out where we can still keep an eye on things but they are little more separate from the rest of the family. And for the record, I grew up with cable TV in my room way back in the 90’s, and I watched WAY TOO MUCH TV (all day and night long), and hid out in my room away from our family pretty much as often as I could. Because of that I’m glad we made this choice from day 1 ~ it’s just been a better choice for our family (although I know all families are different!)

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Seriously, HUGE. 






Which works perfectly because since their phones are slightly used, their battery life doesn’t last all that long.


Secretly? I love that. 🙂


So, why does that even matter you may be asking? 

  • Their phones have to be in the kitchen when they go to bed, or they won’t be charged the next day. This means the temptation to stay up all night texting friends or searching the internet is just gone. Done.
  • They don’t spend hours in their rooms unsupervised with their phones. Now, I’m not gonna lie, my kids are on their phones more than I want them to be (mostly playing games), but I’m usually within 10 feet of them while they play. This means they aren’t watching videos that I don’t know about, and if they’re scrolling through Instagram I can usually check what they’re looking at over their shoulder.


Now, I know better than to think that they don’t have plenty of time to look up whatever when I’m not watching, but at least when they’re in our home I have a good idea of what’s going on.


And, after spending the last 6 years in the world of social media I warn my kids a lot about the dangers of the internet.


Before blogging, I had no idea that every single thing you do on the internet is being monitored in some form or fashion. 


I tell my kids ALL. THE. TIME. that Google knows exactly what they’re doing, and there’s no way to hide if they’ve been doing something they’re not supposed to do.


If all else fails, my kids have a healthy fear of the internet (and people watching them) which really does help at least for now.


The truth is, I know there are still tons of opportunities for them to mess up, but these are a few things that at least help limit what they look at online a bit. 


It is hard raising kids in a culture when there is just so much out there. But I have a 15 year old who will be off in college way too soon and we’re working so hard to teach him some boundaries here before he’s out on his own. 


There is SO MUCH OUT THERE and it is so hard when they feel like “everyone else in the world” has full access to everything. 


I can’t fix that at all, but these few things at least help a little.


If you have other suggestions on things that have helped limit technology in your home I’d love to hear them ~ and goodness, surely we’ll all survive raising kids in such a different world than we grew up in! 


Thank you Lana for the advice way back when to have kids keep chargers in the kitchen – I’m so glad we started out that way ~ it really does help!

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50 Best Items to Pack in an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox


UPDATE: my friend Cydil is a missionary in Albania and delivered boxes there last year. Take a minute to see pictures of kids in her community opening boxes last year (I love this!) Also, I spoke with my contact at Operation Christmas Child and they said candy IS allowed in American boxes, however Canadian boxes are now allowing candy this year (they ship to different countries and some of the countries who receive Canadian boxes will not accept candy.) Hope that helps!



I’m so excited because we just filled our Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes! This is one of those ministries that’s just near and dear to our hearts, and I love that it allows my kids to help learn about ways to bless kids in other parts of the world.

Like I shared in the video, I highly recommend taking a few minutes to watch some of the Operation Christmas Child videos both on your own and with your kids. It will give you an idea of who you’re serving, and get you a wee bit more excited for the children who receive your boxes this Christmas.

A huge (huge, HUGE!) thanks to Hobby Lobby for sending us a $100 Hobby Lobby Gift card to fill our boxes with. We were able to fill 8 boxes with t-shirts, flip flops, bandanas, craft kits, yarn and so much more thanks to their generosity.


Curious what to pack in an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox for  younger kids? Here you go . . .

  1. crayons
  2. coloring books
  3. flip flops
  4. t-shirts
  5. ball
  6. bar soap
  7. bracelet
  8. bandana
  9. pencils & pens
  10. pencil sharpener
  11. duct tape
  12. travel size games – checkers
  13. deck of cards
  14. hacky sack
  15. harmonica
  16. yo yo
  17. hat
  18. glue sticks
  19. scissors
  20. small stuffed animal
  21. pom poms
  22. glitter
  23. small crafting kit
  24. post it notes
  25. highlighters
  26. small notebook
  27. chalk
  28. watercolor paint sets
  29. play doh
  30. small etch a sketch
  31. socks
  32. back pack
  33. plastic cup
  34. straws
  35. scarf
  36. jump rope
  37. glowsticks
  38. leftover halloween candy that’s not chocolate (be sure to place in plastic bags)
  39. matchbox cars
  40. finger puppets
  41. silly putty
  42. toothbrush
  43. toothpaste
  44. washcloth
  45. wet wipe
  46. travel pack of tissues
  47. lip gloss
  48. hair ties
  49. band aids
  50. hair brush


For Older Boys:

  • Tools – hammer, screwdriver, wrench or pliers, duct tape, measuring tape
  • Fishing supplies – add in a small fishing kit, fishing line, hooks
  • Binoculars
  • Kaleidoscope
  • Plastic Magnifying Glass
  • Watch
  • Handkerchief
  • Collapsible water bottle
  • Harmonica


For Older Girls:

  • Small sewing kit
  • Clip on earrings
  • Bracelets
  • Barettes
  • Coin purse
  • Sticky notes
  • Watercolor paint set
  • Yarn
  • Colored Sharpies, highlighters or markers
  • A friendship bracelet with extra string so they can make more
  • Ink pad and stamp set

Also, here are a few ideas that Operation Christmas Child shared on their site as far as suggestions for all ages (as well as some items not to include):

  • TOYS: Include items that children will immediately embrace such as dolls, toy cars, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, balls, toys that light up and make noise (with extra batteries), etc.
  • SCHOOL SUPPLIES: pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons, markers, notebooks, paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.
  • NON-LIQUID HYGIENE ITEMS: toothbrushes, bar soap, combs, washcloths, etc.
  • ACCESSORIES: t-shirts, socks, hats, sunglasses, hair clips, jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries), etc.
  • A PERSONAL NOTE: You may enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family. If you include your name and address, the child may be able to write back.
  • DO NOT INCLUDE: Used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures; chocolate or food; out-of-date candy; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans.


National Collection Week for Shoeboxes this year is November 16-23, and if you’re not sure where to drop off a box in your area you can go HERE to find a local collection site. They do ask that you also give a donation of $7 per box to cover the cost of shipping – learn more about that over HERE and donate online as well.


Additional tips that may help:

  • Pack toothpaste and soap in a plastic bag to keep the scent from taking over the whole box and so that nothing leaks.
  • Remove packaging from your items so that you allow for more room in your box and so that they don’t have much trash to throw away.
  • Don’t send anything that has directions/writing in English (i.e. toys with instructions, games that require kids to read English.) Since these boxes go to non-English speaking country it’s worth only including things that are understood internationally.
  • Read more great tips and suggestions from a missionary in the field over HERE.
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Thank You.

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I’m sharing this over on the PPP Facebook page later tonight, but wanted to share it here too. I have to say, YOU – the ones who read PPP directly and don’t only hop over from Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest – the ones who take the time to read PPP directly are oh-so-special to me because I know you come just to check in, and that means just the world to me. Thanks so much for reading PPP! 


Y’all, can I just say THANK YOU???? 🙂
Yesterday I was looking around the PPP main site. It looked okay, and I felt like the deals were great deals, but I was afraid that maybe I just wasn’t doing it well enough. I worried that I really just wasn’t doing an awesome job of this crazy blogging business.


Again when I sat down to work this afternoon (after a busy morning at Bible Study and lunch out thanks to some wonderful help to keep things running here!) I just thought to myself there was no way people would keep on reading this stuff.


But out of the blue two sweet readers took time to say they liked PPP within 20 minutes of each other. And it just kind of gave me the courage to feel like maybe what we do here helps somebody out. (I know, I know, with a few hundred thousand folks hanging out you’d think I’d figure a few people would stick around, but I’m the kind of girl who’s shocked every single day that y’all hang out here ever at all!)


Anyways, in a world where all too often I see mean comments, snarky reactions, and just plain ole’ hateful attitudes some days, those sweet comments meant the world to me.


I’m so thankful for you. (Yes, YOU.) YOU make my job SO. MUCH. FUN. and I wouldn’t be here typing each day if you didn’t take the time to swing by.


Thanks for reading. Thanks for sharing your kind words. And thanks for giving value to a kinda crazy passionately penny pinching girl who loves to save a buck. You guys mean oodles to me! 🙂


{WHEW! Sure didn’t expect that sermon tonight – but there you have it. Thanks for listening to a little random rambling today!} 🙂


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See What $395 of Donated Groceries Looks Like!


Note from Laurie: I love (LOVE!!!) all that Shannon was able to do to bless the people at 305 8th Street Group Home in Hunstville, Alabama! If you’re able, consider finding a group home, homeless shelter, or food bank in your area where you can donate an item or two this week. With over 1 million people visiting PPP each month, we really can make such an incredible difference! This really is the heart behind why PPP was started almost 6 years ago, and I love to think of the power we as couponers have to impact our community. Crazy blessed!

I am so excited to share this with you all!  Back in April I went to 305 8th Street Group Home to drop off some donations.  They handed me a Publix gift card for $188 that Publix donated to them, and asked if I could stretch it for items they were in need of.  What an awesome company to help the people in their community!

They knew that I’m totally a let’s-see-how-much-I-can-stretch-the-$188-gift-card-for kinda gal, but the items that 305 needed aren’t items that typically have coupons.  They do go on sale Buy One Get One free frequently at Publix, so throughout the past 5 months I’ve been buying items when they were on sale.  I ended up getting $395 worth of groceries for the $188 gift card!

This will help 305 8th Street so much.  So many group homes nationwide run on a shoestring budget. I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but imagine if your family took a night off of eating out, ate sandwiches instead, and went shopping to grab a ton of items for those who are in need.  Isn’t it amazing to think what just one meal out could do?!


After shopping, your whole family (kids included!) could swing by to drop the donations off.  It really could be life changing not only for you but also for your children as they see how they’re able to give.


Whenever we teach coupon classes, Laurie and I always share that donating is the real reason we drive ourselves a wee bit nuts to share deals with you each day and get a few deals ourselves.  It would be so much easier just to swing by the store, get what we need and pay full price, but because we pinch a few pennies each week we’re able to give to those in need.

If you live in North Alabama area, like the 305 8th Street Facebook page to see their needs each week.  And if you have time to swing by, you can’t help but to fall in love with the residents.  They’re always willing to help bring in the grocery items out of your car, and love talking college football. Such a wonderful ministry and a wonderful way to bless those nearby!

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How To Really Change Your Grocery Budget

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I posted this several years ago, but goodness they’re such good reminders and still work for us!  I have to confess that as I’ve gotten busier I have occasionally purchased (*gasp*) pre-packaged snacks, but this morning I was in the kitchen filling up my Dollar Tree containers for the kids. (And our grocery budget has gone up to $80-$90 per week as our kids have gotten older and I don’t have quite as much time to coupon.) I’d love to hear what other tips you all have for living frugally, beyond just clipping those coupons.


I’ve had friends ask me how I keep our grocery budget between $40 and $50 weekly (we have a family of 5, and this includes all toiletries, diapers, paper products, etc.) First, I think I’m a little genetically predisposed to living frugally. If you visit my Dad’s house he’ll probably tell you to use only half of the 2-ply toiletpaper – I think he’s kidding but I’m not completely sure!


Also, my husband provides very well for our family so that I can stay home with our kids, and I hate to see his hard earned money wasted on consumable groceries that don’t last.  So I work really hard to spend as little as I can on groceries, because I’d rather have money to do the things we really enjoy, like giving, fun things for our home, and vacationing (we love that one!)  Here are a few things that I’ve found work to pinch a few extra pennies in our home.


1. Constantly try to think of ways to use less.

We rarely use paper napkins (I have a huge stash of cloth ones) and we use rags instead of paper towels as often as we can (my hubby used to hate this one, but he’s finally come to a place where he sees the value in saving on these!)


The dishwasher doesn’t run until it’s completely stuffed (saving on dishwasher detergent, water and energy), and I use half a dryer sheet instead of a full one or a very small amount liquid softener (even that’s a luxury, when I’m being really cheap I just use vinegar!)  It’s rare that I even use disinfectant wipes to clean because they’re just too expensive, instead I buy cleaners at a really good price (less than $.50-$1 per bottle) along with good ole’ fashioned rags.  I also try to use grocery sacks (the plastic ones) as often as I can for trash bags so that I use fewer garbage bags (I can never seem to find a good garbage bag deal!)

2. When it comes to snack foods, skip the snack-sized bags.


My kids have to take a snack to school each day, so I usually stock up on the very cheapest snacks I can find (they’re getting a little tired of Chex Mix, but it’s just so stinkin’ cheap!) and pack it in small plastic containers that I found at the Dollar Tree so I don’t waste Ziploc bags. I also sometimes bake homemade muffins or snack mixes and they have those for snacks.


My kids don’t get often get juice boxes or water bottles, instead they get plain old tap water in re-usable plastic bottles. (I did pick up some of the BPA free ones in the fall, so I feel a little less anxious about that whole plastic thing!) We really do stick to milk and water in our house and very occasionally orange juice when I find a great deal on it.


3. Stock up on meat when you see a good price on it.

When I find chicken breast or ground beef for less than $1.99/lb., I buy as much of it as my grocery budget can afford.  I also stock up on any basic pantry items when they’re really cheap, such as pasta, canned goods, frozen veggies, and frozen bread.


If I have leftovers of meat that won’t get eaten, it gets frozen to re-use in another meal. It really does hurt me to see food wasted, so I constantly think of ways to eat up everything we cook (another one that my hubby doesn’t always enjoy, but he’s willing to sacrifice to reach our long term savings goals!)


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Make a menu plan and grocery list. (I use Eat at Home Cooks Menu Plan and grocery list this week and *LOVED* it. 

While I’ve always made a menu plan and grocery list, using Eat at Home Cooks Menu Plan is new to me but I love it. After one week I’m hooked and highly encourage you to try it out. (Her special sale ends tonight and is $10.50 for a 3 month subscription – hurry before it’s gone if you think it will help!)

Normally I make my own menu plan which takes a solid 30-45 minutes, so I love that she does all the work for us. (Especially for $3.50 per month or $.87 per week – well worth $.87 to save myself 45 minutes of time!)

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I chose the Whole Foods Menu Plan because we’re working on a healthier 2016, and the list was pretty simple to follow. (I loved that you got all three menu plan options though for one price!)


I sometimes worry that my kids will have way too much to talk to their therapist about after growing up with this penny pinchin’ mama, but every once in a while I see glimpses of penny pinchin’ even in them. They love it when I come home with a new fun freebie (the free Nesquik was a big hit last week!), and they’re always excited to sample something new when I find a coupon on an item we haven’t tried yet.


I really hope to teach them that we don’t always need everything all the other kids have, even when we sometimes could afford it if we chose to. And along the way maybe they’ll learn that we’re called to use wisely what God gives us, and to share with others, hopefully creating lasting, meaningful joy (you can’t get that in a juice box, even though my 2 year old would disagree!)

 aldisamscostcoDownload the Ultimate Aldi, Costco & Sam’s Club Price Comparison Sheet to easily compare prices before heading out to the store. 



Looking for more ways to save on your grocery budget in 2016? Here you go:

These are a few things that work for our family, but I know they won’t work for everyone.  I also know that a lot of you do way more than this to save money – do you have other penny pinching tips that help your family?  I’d love to hear them ~ leave a comment to share



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12 {Easy} Ways To Volunteer With Your Kids

12 EASY ways to VOLUNTEER with your kids


Last Friday night on the spur of the moment I decided to sign up to help at a local Free Store that serves a hot meal and gives free clothing to local folks in need. I’d heard from several people that it was a great place to volunteer with children, and goodness, I’m so glad we decided to do it.


When I realized we had a free Saturday morning, I went online to the Free Store Ministries website and noticed they had a few openings to help that day. I asked my girls if they’d be interested (and was thrilled that they both were!), and we headed out Saturday morning.


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We spent the morning helping serve food, and the girls helped clean up the children’s toy area as well as work on a few odd jobs around the store. They both said they’d love to go back again, and it’s brought up so many valuable discussions this week. While my kids learned quite a few things on the trip, I think it may have been even more valuable for me. Just getting out and doing something for someone besides my own little family was such a blessing!


The reason I’m sharing this is not because I did anything right – in fact, as a busy mom with three kids, I really haven’t done all that much in the way of volunteering. While I’ve helped out at church a bit and we donate to food pantries regularly, we don’t often go far outside our comfort zone, because honestly I’m not always sure where to start.


But after helping out for just a few hours this weekend I realized it’s so simple to do, and volunteers are needed everywhere. I simply didn’t know how to easily connect with a place to serve (especially with young kids), so I’ve hunted down a few easy ways to volunteer with your kids. If you’ve come up with other ideas, I’d love to hear them!

For younger children (7 and under)

1. Donate to a local food pantry.

This is one we’ve done since my kids were babies, and it’s been a great way to easily help someone when my kids were too young to really volunteer. For us, it’s just a super easy way we can make all that coupon clipping worth it, and it’s so easy to do. I keep a bag in my pantry for items to donate, and drop them off every few weeks at our local food pantry. If you’re not sure where to find a food pantry in your area, start HERE.

2. Help serve in your local Meals on Wheels program.

Meals on Wheels has several different areas you can help with, and if your children are young consider delivering meals in your community. They also need servers to help serve in community centers in some areas, so if your children are a little older that may be a great way to help those in need.

3. Donate food to a local adult group home.

When we lived in Huntsville, there was a small adult group home that was always in need of food pantry staples. I took my kids to drop off food a few times, and it was great for them to see the residents and tour the building, and I know my friend Shannon donates there all the time. It’s just an easy way for our children to see a glimpse of those in need, and the people love seeing the kids when we stop by!

If you’re not sure where to start, contact a local church who may be able to point you in the right direction of places like this to give, or call a few group homes in your area. These aren’t as easy to find but they are out there, and can use your donations so much!


4. Pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.

This is such a wonderful way for small children to get involved in giving, no matter how young they are. Take a few minutes to watch some of the videos sharing the stories behind Operation Christmas Child with your kids ~ those helped our own understand so much better why we give through that ministry! 


5. Have your kids color pictures and deliver them to a local nursing home.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

6. Bake cookies or brownies and share them with your local fire department or police station.


7. Help kids make fleece blankets to donate to homeless shelters in the winter time. 

8. Donate school supplies to your local school or to a homeless shelter.

When those back to school sales start, take advantage of the great deals and grab a few supplies to share with those in need. We’ve donated those before at a local homeless shelter that houses children, but they’re also great to donate to your local school or even an inner city school that could use those extra supplies.

For older kids (ages 8 and up)

All of the ones above and . . . 

9. Volunteer to serve food at a local homeless shelter.

Go HERE to find a local homeless shelter in your community – many homeless shelters have website where you can sign up directly to volunteer, or call one in your area to see if how to get involved.

10. Help out at a Ronald McDonald House or help work on a Habitat for Humanity home.
11. Host a lemonade stand and donate the proceeds to a local charity.
12. Donate rice (for free) through the Free Rice program.

I came across this one and couldn’t believe it was true (so I did some searching), but your older child can actually work on their vocabulary and send rice to those in need all at the same time. Go HERE to try it out (I was pretty impressed, and am going to have my kids start working on that one today!)


I know there are dozens of others way out there to volunteer with kids, but hopefully this gives you a good starting point! If you’ve had great experiences volunteering with your kids I’d love to hear about it ~ leave a comment to share. (I love hearing from you!) 😉


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Soaking Up Summer

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Here’s what I found lurking in my dryer last night. 


Dirty, stinky, nasty, creek-water-ladened-15-year-old-size-12 tennis shoes that had been dried (B-L-E-C-K) in my nice new dryer.


Needless to say, I wasn’t happy.


I mentioned it over on my personal Facebook page and the PPP page, and good gracious, folks had more than a few thoughts on that one. 😉


I talked to him about it, and the kid was simply clueless and thought rinsing them out for a few seconds before popping them in the drier would work just fine.


Then, a sweet wise mom commented on my own Facebook page (I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing it!)

“Vacuum out the dry dirt clumps and run some wet towels through it. It will be fine. I promise you in a few short years you will open an empty clean dryer and long for the day a boy tossed some muddy shoes in there. Promise.”




He vacuumed out the dried up clumps without complaint when I asked him to after reading everyone’s advice.  (And wiped it down with soapy water too.)


He mumbled “love you momma” when I tried baking cookies last night.


And he says “I love you mom” every single time he goes out the door.


No matter how long he’s leaving for.


No matter if we’ve been grouchy towards one another.


Just because he must know somewhere deep down his momma needs to hear it.


Folks, this kid has my heart. 


Since he hit high school, I feel like there’s this ticking time bomb and we’re just a few short years away from him going out to take on the world. Last summer honestly was just a mixture of tears and craziness as we moved into a brand new home in a brand new town. Honestly, summer passed by in the blink of an eye, and I didn’t stop to enjoy enough of it.


This summer we’re slowing down, savoring some quiet evenings, and just enjoying every minute of every day.


Even the dirty shoes.


And the mounds of laundry.


And the dirty dishes in my sink because three kids have been home munching all day.


Mommas, if you have little ones at home, be encouraged that those hard days – the ones that are just so long you’re dreaming of just five minutes to talk with another adult – those days will slow down.


The day will come when they can pick up their rooms all by themselves because you’ve spent years training them.

The day will come when they can make waffles for the entire family because you spent hours mixing up waffles every Saturday morning. (That job’s completely taken over by my sweet Caroline these days – success!)


And the day will come when you’ll tell them to pack their own suitcase without any help, and they won’t even forget their toothbrush.


It happens. I promise.


Today’s the day that mess of a boy of mine learned to clean out a dirty dryer. One more life skill he probably needs, right?


So when the mess happens, when it feels like too much, and when you just don’t want to keep at this mommy-ing-business a single minute longer, know that the amazing training you’re teaching today will eventually work yourself out of a job. 😉


And savor. every. bit. of. it. 


I promise, life changes. Soak it up, and just enjoy.


even the dirty-crusty-muddy-shoes.


ahem. still. bleck.  but thankful too. 🙂 


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The Best Mother’s Day Gift (That Didn’t Cost a Penny)


good. gravy.


 I am a lucky girl. 🙂


Remember last week when I rambled (probably a little too long . . . ), about struggling with measuring up?


Well, my husband took the time to read that mess (he doesn’t read everything here on PPP, but scans some of it every once in awhile), and on a blank piece of copy paper gave me just the best Mother’s Day card and gift I’ve ever received. 


I’d told him not to spend money (we’ve been working quite a bit on fluffing up our home, so I was perfectly content with that), but this little note was more than I ever could have wished for.

To spare you the gorey ahemgoofy details, I won’t share it all, but hope he’ll forgive me for sharing a few of my favorite parts. 

“Our marriage has not been perfect, but you have given me the perfect marriage. . .  . you are what I always wanted, not “Barbie.” 🙂 


Folks, this guy looks at this absolute mess of a mom with pudgy hips, saggy soft spots, and one crazy unorganized life, and loves (and cheers!) for me every single day. Back when I first starting working on PPP, when I was literally putting in 40 hours a week and not making a single penny, he stood by as my cheerleader, confidently encouraging me to keep at it, never once questioning my work here despite the extra load it often put on him.


The last year has not been our easiest. In fact, probably since our marriage I’ve cried more tears than I can remember. (And I’m not one to shed tears much ~ hardly ever!) Moving 8 hours from what had become our home has been a major adjustment, and we’ve had some other struggles that have popped onto our plate along the way.


(Add in parenting both a teenager and tweenager in the midst of that along with one crazy busy 8 year old? Yikes.) 


James is oh-so-different from me. He hates social media, rarely watches a movie, and in many ways is an old-fashioned-fuddy-duddy-born-100-years-too late.


Bless him. 😉


But he loves and encourages me as if I’m amazing (despite the fact that I’m so far from it!), and continues to be this person who just thinks I’m a rockstar even when he sees the truth every day.


(Isn’t it a blessing when those who know you best love you most? wow.)


Honestly? I’m not great at doing the same thing for him. I get frustrated that the dishes aren’t done, or if the laundry’s piling up, or if I just feel like I’m incapable of keeping up. I have got to work better at being his cheerleader too, but for whatever reason it’s not always natural to me.



If you’re lucky enough to have a cheerleader in your life too, whether it be your spouse, parents, or a wonderful friend, thank them because they will help you go so much further than you ever can go on your own.


And, if you’re like me and struggle to cheer someone else on, goodness gracious, join me and let’s start doing just that!


Sometimes just being cheered for is all we need to turn into our very best self ~ and I’m so incredibly thankful to have someone cheering for me. (Especially on those days I’m not so sure of myself.)


Anyone else get  just the most wonderful gift for Mother’s Day that wasn’t even all that much? Sometimes those gifts are just the sweetest, and I’m oh-so-thankful for that one today. 




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The ugly green eyed monster – and why I’ll never measure up.

Update: Read my sweet husband’s response to this post over HERE. I AM SO BLESSED.

Just last week I was thumbing through Facebook and felt a wee bit more than a twinge of the green-eyed-monster of jealousy rising up inside of me.


Okay, okay, I wasn’t thumbing through Facebook really, but it sounds a little more glamorous than scrolling down Facebook like I do every single day ~ don’t ya’ think? 


I was jealous of another blogger’s downright gorgeous home. 


It was perfect.


Amazingly decorated.


Seriously, folks, it could have been in a magazine. 


I scrolled on down a little further and saw an acquaintance I hardly know, skinny-as-a-rail and just jaw-droppingly beautiful with her oh-so-cute and just about perfect husband sharing their anniversary.


They looked so happy.


Obviously they had it all together.


And I’m betting she hasn’t counted a calorie in her entire. life. 


Yup. I hate her.


truth. sorry. ahem.


Ridiculously, I kept on scrolling.


Why look at that. There’s another friend sharing their child’s most amazing accomplishment.


And oodles of other mommas cheering them on, because really, their child is phenomenal. clearly.


All while my little family just kind of sits around looking plain and ordinary.


Then I bounced off Facebook to really get to work and started looking at a few other blogs. 


You know, the ones who are all doing it right.


The ones who have perfect web sites, perfect content, perfect pictures  . . . and a jillion comments on every. single. post.


they really are oh so put together. I’m so not cut out for this.



Oh-so-often I feel like I just never measure up.


I allow myself to be jealous of another blogger’s home.


I let myself get jealous of a skinny perfect person that I hardly even know.

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I compare my kids to other people’s kids. (For the record, I have some pretty cute kids even if they are just ordinary. Jeesh.) 


And when it comes to blogging? Well, it’s just a stroke of luck that this little website stays on every daySeriously.


So I started really thinking about it. Who really looks like the person I want to be?



Initially, I thought if I could just be more like her, I would totally be there.


But then I realized, while she has a beautiful family, amazing business, and, well, keeping it real here folks, she’s skinny, 🙂 she’s not all that in to fluffing her home. (Which is totally fine, but I kinda like a fluffed up home.)


So I moved on.


Then I thought well maybe if I could just be like this. Amazing home, perfectly-yet-kind-of-quirkily decorated, and of course skinny – but, well, I’m betting she doesn’t really enjoy clipping coupons. (I could be wrong – that’s just a hunch?)


Then I thought of another friend who I adore who runs an amazing business, has a beautiful home, and a precious family . . . but struggles some with other issues too.


I moved on. This one.  This is it. Perfect home, crazy huge business, gajillion followers on Facebook, Instagram, well, everywhere. Even a perfect husband.


and she can cook.


But really? As I thought it through, she’s not quite my “measure-up-to goal” either.




I want the body of Barbie (a little less curvy though, please), the business of Martha Stewart, the mommy-amazing-sweetness of June Clever, and a home smack on the cover of Southern Living.


Oh, and can I cook like Paula Deen? (right, but with Barbie’s figure, got that? hmph.)




The truth? My twisted standard of measurement is some kind of not-really-perfect-at-all-but-I-think-it-might-be-perfect.


And I’m just me.


Way down here.


I’ll never measure up.


Years ago, I read an illustration in Max Lucado’s book In The Grip of Grace (such a wonderful book, by the way . . .) describing what my heart struggles in a way with each day . . .



“Suppose God reduced the Bible to one command: “Thou must jump so high in the air that you touch the moon.” No need to love your neighbor or pray or follow Jesus; just touch the moon by virtue of a jump, and you’ll be saved.

We’d never make it. There may be a few who jump three or four feet, even fewer who jump five or six; but compared to the distance we have to go, no one gets very far. Though you may jump six inches higher than I do, it’s scarcely reason to boast.”



My goal is set too high.


The standard I’ve set for myself is perfection.


Only grace can fill in.


God’s grace is okay with me the way I am.


It’s okay with a slightly pudgy-hippy girl.


It’s okay with my Facebook reach.


It’s okay with my kids.


It’s okay with the number of people who visit PPP daily.


It’s okay with the way I handle being a Godly wife to my poor husband.




him. 🙂 


His grace is sufficient for me. 


Just as I am.


Ladies (sorry gents, I know y’all hopped off eons ago . . . ), you too are good enough. 


You are beautiful enough.


You are wise enough.


You are capable enough.








You are enough.


Don’t let your picture of perfection be anything other than the one God created you to be.


I promise. I’ll stop too.


And you’re so not the only one who feels this way.


But his grace (thankheavens.) covers us today.




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But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9




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Bag Lady

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I am a bag lady. 


I have a bag for my coupons, my Bible Study bag, a laptop bag, a gym bag, a donation bag, a we’re-going-to-watch-a-ball-game-and-I-need-entertainment-for-my-kids bag, a library bag, an emergency-snack bag . . .


and, then of course there’s my purse. 🙂

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My kids also have their bags. They have bookbags and soccer bags, gymnastics bags, a gym clothes bag, their lunch bags, and even a special bag for drumsticks.


Our loads of bags sometimes seem to take over every nook and cranny in our home. (However, as I’m thinking about it, it seems my husband has no bags . . . hmph.)


Some days those bags get too heavy to carry, for both myself and my family. There’s not always enough time to clip coupons from the coupon bag, dig through the Bible Study bag, pick up extra donations for the donation bag, and haul eighteen bags around with my kids to each event.


As we race between soccer and gymnastics and band practice I sometimes wonder “Why are we doing this?”  And yet, we wake up again the next day and we all pick up our bags again.

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Jackson, now 15, way back in 2011 taking our donation bag to church. I thought he was so big then!

But most of these bags are here for such a short season. 


In just a few years the drumstick bag will be off at college.


The gymnastics bag may be stuffed under the bed.


And those soccer bags might just end up at our local Goodwill.

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For everything there is a season.


(This hurts more than a wee bit to even type.)




If you’re feeling overwhelmed today by the bags that you carry, know that it’s okay to leave a bag by the wayside for a small portion of your life. If you can’t clip every coupon, donate to every charity, and read every library book it’s really okay. (I promise!)


Sweet mommas, most of these bags just aren’t gonna last. 


Embrace what you have, with who you have it, right here, right now, today. 


Take a deep breath, gather up those bags, and focus on your favorites as you race them around town today.  These bags won’t last, but who knows what new (cute?) bags we might pick up along the way.


(When these bags all head out the door, I’m thinking I’ll pick up a Kate Spade suitcase bag alongside a passport to just about wherever.  Anyone with me?) 🙂 



 Leave a comment to share your thoughts if you feel life fleeting way too fast too . . . I love hearing from you!


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