Books I Love: Chapter Books

Our family has a real obsession with books! We have TRIED to cut back the number in our house… but sometimes you just have to buy a new bookshelf and admit you have a problem!

Lately, I have found that I enjoy reading juvenile and young adult fiction because I am so excited about sharing stories from my childhood with my kids. Or maybe it is just because I can finish the story before my mommy brain forgets what is going on.

Here are several of the books that I loved growing up (and a few I discovered as an adult)!

  1. Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik- (AR Book Level 2.4)- We are currently reading this with the Champ. It is a sweet collection of tales about an imaginative baby bear and his loving mother bear. I may be cheating by calling this a chapter book, as each of the four “chapters” is a separate story. But, it is the perfect book to snuggle up with at bedtime.
  2. Sable by Karen Hesse- (AR Book Level 3.8)- When I was little, I went to a yard sale with my grandparents and found a ratty old book marked down to 10 cents and I had to have it. Much like the main character of this sweet story, I wanted a dog and my mom did not want something else to take care of. Lo and behold, this was probably my favorite book growing up.
  3. Ten Kids, No Pets by M. Martin Ann- (AR Book Level 4.4)- This is another story about not being allowed to have a pet (hmm… do I see a theme here?). This time, the story is about TEN siblings that are plotting to get a pet of their own. As an only child, I was intrigued by the possibility of a family this large. There is also a sequel called Eleven Kids, One Summer
  4. Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix- (AR Book Level 4.8)- This was my first exposure to dystopian novels. It is set in a society where the Population Police limit each family to two children. Illegal third children are referred to as Shadow Children. Among the Hidden is the story of a Shadow Child named Luke, who makes a friend for the first time in his life. This is the first book in the Shadow Children series.
  5. The Littles by John Peterson- (AR Book Level 3.3)- Like the title suggests, this book is about little people. The Littles look like people with tails and they live in the walls of the Bigg house. When the Bigg family rents the house out for vacation, the Littles have daring adventures with mice and cats! This is the first book in a series.
  6. The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh- (AR Book Level 3.9)- Sarah and her father travel to Connecticut to build a house on land purchased from the Indian tribe there. When her father must leave her in the care of the Indians, Sarah must be brave and learn to trust people from a different culture.
  7. Lassie Come-Home by Eric Knight- (AR Book Level 5.4)- When young Joe Carraclough’s dad is out of work, they sell his dog, Lassie, to the Duke of Rudling. The Duke takes Lassie to Scottland, where she escapes and makes a thousand-mile journey to meet Joe at the school gate as she has always done. This is one of the few dog books that does not attempt to humanize the dog. Instead, it focuses on the natural instinct, Lassie’s interactions with man, and how these two influences help her along her journey.
  8. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl-(AR Book Level 4.8)- When I was in third grade, I read this book because I loved the movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. I sincerely thought from the title that this book was it’s sequel. It wasn’t! The movie was based on this book and renamed.
  9. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien-(AR Book Level 5.1)- I would not read this book when I was younger because I was terrified by the movie “The Secret of NIMH.” However (based on a recommendation from a trusted friend), I decided to give this book a shot as an adult. Somehow, the book was not as dark as the movie. While I already knew what the The Secret of NIMH was, I was completely captivated by this story of a single mother’s attempt to protect her family.
  10. The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary-(AR Book Level 5.1)- Ralph S. Mouse lives in a hotel with an overprotective mother. The discovery of a toy motorcycle lures Ralph into a life of reckless adventure with an unlikely friend.

Remember that it is best to ALWAYS read (or get a review from a trusted source) the books that you allow your children to read to ensure they align with your family’s morals.


Bible Journaling for the Non-Artist

A couple of years ago, I never would have imagined myself enjoying Bible Journaling. I am not much of an artist. I don’t have pretty handwriting. I cannot draw beautiful pictures. This was not the right means of worship for me.

These were all lies the enemy whispered to me. Over the next year, I learned that Bible Journaling was not about skill. It was about finding a way to worship the Lord.

There are several ways to Bible journal even if you cannot draw!

I personally have not used stamps in my Bible. However, they are very popular when it comes to Bible journaling and I love using stamps for scrapbooking. Among my friends who use stamps in their Bible journaling endeavors, StazOn ink seems to be the favorite ink. Much like scrapbooking, you can use cling stamps that adhere to a clear stamp block. This allows you to easily see where you are positioning your stamp. You can also purchase pretty date stamps to record when you designed each page.

Stencils are great because you can use them with various types of media. You can use pencil, pen, colored pencil, watercolors, etc. with your stencil to create a beautiful image. You can even cut out a shape out of a piece of paper and use that as a stencil.

Washi Tape.
Washi tape is a special craft tape that originated in Japan. It looks and feels like masking tape. It comes in a variety of colors, designs, and widths. There are even tapes that are scalloped and reminiscent of lace. You may use a single strip of washi tape as a border (or layer a few of various widths. Or, use several strips to make a pretty background.

If you are uncomfortable with your own handwriting and are also nervous about the bleed through that you risk with paint and ink, there are so many stickers to choose from. You can use alphabet stickers for lettering or tons of pretty embellishments. Flat stickers work best for Bibles; however, you can find various 3D stickers that may add a little extra pop to your page. Be warned: it is very easy to find yourself addicted to the sticker aisle at Hobby Lobby.

One of the best things about the onion thin paper in Bibles is that you can see images through the paper. First, find a black and white clipart image that you like and resize the image to fit the margin of your Bible. Then place the image under the page you would like for it to be on and trace the outline. You can then use your colored pencils and paints to further decorate the page.

Find a Font.
You can dress up your own hand writing by adding some embellishments to it. Darken the down-strokes, add highlighting, or play with different types of pens.
Whenever I need inspiration for a font, I turn to Pinterest. Search terms such as “Hand Lettering,” “Full Alphabet,” “Typography,” or “Handwriting Fonts.” My Pinterest board has several fonts pinned already. With a little practice, your lettering will improve.

Write Instead of Draw.
If you are still uncomfortable with the tips above, you can still journal. Simply highlight the text and write out your thoughts in the margins. Using different colored pencils to write can make your margins a work of art!

What unique ways do you use to illustrate your Bible?

Check out all of my past posts in this series:
Why I Love Bible Journaling
Bible Journaling: My Routine
Bible Journaling: Tools of the Trade Part 1
Bible Journaling: Tools of the Trade Part 2
Bible Journaling on a Crayola Budget

*Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive a small compensation with no added cost to you. I only recommend products that I personally use or believe my readers will love!

Free Printables: I have, Who Has? Number Review Cards


Last week, I explained the game “I have, Who has?” for the letters of the alphabet. This game can also be used to review numbers.

Traditional Rules: Pass out all of the cards. Player one reads their first card. The player that has the next number goes next. Play continues until all cards are called.


  • Player One: “I have 4. Who has 2?”
  • Player Two: “I have 2. Who has 6?”
  • Player Three: “I have 6. Who has 3?”

The game can be played with 2-10 children (or 20 if you are using the 1-20 review cards).

To make the game more active, have each player perform an action for each card. For example, when player one asks “I have 4. Who has 2?” player two must hop two times. Activity suggestions include hopping, flapping arms, spinning in circles, clapping, etc.

Single Player Rules: Lay all but one card on the floor face side up. Read the remaining card out loud. Have your child find the next card and continue until all of the cards have been picked up.


  • First card reads: “I have 4. Who has 2?”
  • Find the next card: “I have 2. Who has 6?”
  • Find the next card: “I have 6. Who has 3?”

To make the game a bit more active, spread the cards around the room so that your child has to race around to find the next number. To add an extra challenge, place the cards face down so that your child has to remember where he saw the correct number.

Download my I have, Who Has-Numbers 1-10 Review“I have, Who Has” cards and I have, Who Has-Numbers 1-20 Review. Come back in the next couple of weeks for Shape Review and Color Review.

I recommend printing on cardstock and/or laminating the cards to make them more durable. I use the Scotch Thermal Laminator.


“Time flies when you are having fun.”

They should modify that to say “Time flies no matter what you are doing.”

My husband and I just celebrated our fourth anniversary. Four years ago, I thought we would be living an upper middle class lifestyle. Cal would be working as a professor of Political Science. I would be a stay at home mom. We would have all of our laundry in the basket, dinner on the table every night, and not a dirty dish to be seen.

Somehow, I have let the last four years slip past me.

Our son will be two this October. Unfortunately, my dreams of staying at home were not feasible.
I had to go back to work four weeks after Ethan was born in order to keep my job. Those four weeks at home were difficult for me. Ethan refused to latch on, so I had to exclusively pump. When you are pumping eight to twelve times a day for thirty minutes at a time, it feels like a full time job. I felt like I was spending most of my time hooked to a machine, while everyone else got to feed my precious baby. Looking back, I was probably suffering from mild postpartum depression.

Just before Ethan turned one, I took a job as a teacher. I went to work before he woke up in the morning. In order to lesson plan, I insisted that he nap for the first couple of hours after I got home from work. This gave me two or three short hours with him in the evening each night.

Right now, I am in the middle of what has been the best summer of my life. We moved to Nashville early in order to spend time getting plugged into the community before Cal starts law school this fall. I am home 24/7 with the two most important men in my life, Cal and Ethan. We have been to the zoo, the library, the park, a flea market, and a farmers market. We have read books, played games, sung songs, and danced around. We have smiled and laughed as a family more in the past month than we have in the last year. I have been stress free and happy. And, I don’t want it to end.

As I search for a teaching position this fall, I get a sinking feeling in my stomach. I want so desperately to stay at home with Ethan. I want to be the one to watch him grow and develop. I don’t want a daily report card on his potty training progress. I don’t want to guess as to what he is doing all day long. I want to teach him about Christ and the Bible and the alphabet and numbers. I don’t want to outsource mommyhood to some stranger at a daycare.

I have struggled for the past few days over whether this feeling is a God given one or a selfish desire. The Bible instructs us to train our children and it also tells us not to worry about being provided for. But it seems foolish to not work and stay home when I am not sure we could make rent each month.

We have been working on the Dave Ramsey plan to get out of debt as quickly as possible after law school so that we may buy a house. However, I cannot help but think that my child’s spiritual, intellectual and emotional growth are more important than being able to own instead of rent. Perhaps giving up on my own worldly grasp of financial stability would aid my own spiritual, intellectual and emotional growth.

Regardless of whether I decide to stay at home or work, one lesson I would like to incorporate into my daily life is “Time flies no matter what you are doing.” I want to be very intentional about every second of my time because I can never get those seconds back.

Time Photo

Where Would We Be?

When my husband and I first got married and moved into our little apartment in Oxford, Mississippi, I would have done anything to get a job as a staff accountant. I prayed constantly for a well-paying job that would have supported us as he worked on his PhD. Needless to say, that job didn’t come easily but a job scooping poop for the local animal shelter did.

My mind wandered this morning to how much simpler our life would be if I had that $45,000 a year job I had prayed for. Maybe we wouldn’t have the piles of student loans and I would have my C.P.A. license and an M.B.A.

Many times over the past several years I have asked why God did not answer my prayers.

Most likely, we would not be any better off if my prayers had been answered. My husband would not have had any of the experiences that led him to pursue a law degree. I would have never realized my calling for teaching. Our son would have spent his first two years of life in daycare. And, we probably would still have piles of student loans because expenses have a way of keeping up with income.

James 4:3 says “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”

God has a perfect plan for each of us and with time he reveals that plan. Sometimes even our best intentioned prayers are asked wrongly. We ask for healing for the sick, when it is their time to pass. We ask for well-paying jobs, when God wants us to learn to rely on Him. We ask for passing grades, when God desires we choose another course of study.

If I have learned anything through my unanswered prayers, it is this: Unanswered prayers are God’s means of revealing His plan for us. We need only listen.

Unanswered Prayers Photo

I have an addiction…

When my husband said I had a chore addiction, I laughed. There is no possible way that I have an addiction to something that I dislike. Then he asked me to go a day without work. At first I thought it would be easy. Five minutes later, I was experiencing tightness in my chest.

No work.  I couldn’t get caught up on laundry. What would we wear? I couldn’t do dishes. What would we eat on? I couldn’t cook. What would we eat? I couldn’t get around to cleaning the carpets, tidying up the pantry, going through my son’s clothes for the upcoming consignment sale, putting up our Christmas decorations, organizing the shed, or completing any of the projects that have been on my radar for months. I started to have trouble breathing as I realized that nothing would get done that day.

I then sat on my couch for thirty minutes petting the dog, staring at my sleeping son, and wondering what I could possibly do for the rest of the day. We just cancelled Netflix and Direct TV, so I couldn’t watch anything. If I started a book, I would not have time to finish it. I was not allowed to go grocery shopping. I didn’t have clothes shopping in the budget.

I loaded my son into the car and headed to work. The girls up at the store hadn’t seen him in a while and going to work didn’t constitute as work as long as I was off the clock. Of course, a customer had to waltz in the door while my coworkers were all busy. I had to make a decision: do I help the customer or make him wait. I got dizzy as excuses twirled through my head. He could be a secret shopper and if I don’t help him, we will get a bad score. He could be a new customer, and if I make him wait we won’t win him over. One of my coworkers stumbled back to the front of the store and greeted the man as I exited. Work was not a good idea.

I journeyed home and arrived just as my husband was coming home for lunch. I had made it three hours without doing anything. He finished eating and left a plate on the tray. I instinctively got up to put it in the sink, but fell back to the couch. I had to get out of the house.

We drove to a town an hour away to make some returns at a department store and spent the rest of the night watching DVD’s and playing with the baby. As we were getting into bed that night (early because I was tired of not doing work), my husband and I discussed my day.

Bottom line: we survived eating leftovers with dishes in the sink and clothes in the laundry room. I don’t have to rush around every day trying to get ahead on a million chores that will never get completed.

Addicted to Chores Photo

This weekend, we did get a lot of things done. I did countless loads of laundry and dishes, we went through the clothes the baby has outgrown, we put the Christmas decorations in the shed, and I cleaned out the fridge and the pantry. However, the most important thing we did this weekend was take time to relax and spend time together as a family.

“So don’t worry, saying ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” ~Matthew 6:31-34

New Year, New Me


New Year’s Eve! It is always a night of regret and hope.

Every year on New Year’s Eve I reflect on the past year and I think about how I should have lost weight, should have studied the Bible more, and I should have cleaned my house a bit better.

By the end of my reflection, I am typically disheartened and angry with myself for not being a better person. I usually end up making a list of well meaning resolutions. The list always starts off with losing 50 pounds, reading the entire Bible, and keeping my whole house neat and tidy.

On January 1, I am usually completely motivated and excited about the New Year ahead. However, by February, I am usually the same weight and have not studied or cleaned as well as I have hoped. That is when I lose sight of those original goals and give up on myself.

This year, New Year’s was a bit different for me. I started to think about the past year and how I never would have guessed how wild and crazy it actually turned out.

With all of the unexpected events I have experienced this year, I would never be able to complete my New Year’s Resolutions that I issued myself on December 31, 2011. So I experienced something amazing this year. I reflected on all of my accomplishments of 2012.

I cleaned out the house to make room for a nursery, I had the confidence to apply for a new job that I love, I only gained 12 pounds throughout my pregnancy, I spent most of the year without my ADHD medicine, I read two entire books of the Bible, I completed a month long daily devotional, I finished a book series, I started organizing my recipes, and I finally gave myself permission to let go of the CPA exam.

None of these accomplishments are as lofty as my usual resolutions, but together they seem amazing.

My resolutions for 2013 are simple: Love God, love my family, and love myself. If I can work towards these three things, I will spend December 31, 2013, once again celebrating a wonderful year.