best above ground pool

Basic Information about Above Ground Swimming Pools

For families who love spending a quality time in the summer, swimming in their own back yard, setting an above ground swimming pool represents a more convenient, cheaper alternative to digging in the ground and building a classic one.

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If you are thinking of purchasing a pool yourself, the following pieces of information may turn out useful:

This kind of pools can take a wide diversity of shapes, from round and oval to square or rectangular. The materials used most frequently in making them are metal, plastic or heavy gauged vinyl. The latter mentioned material is used especially in fabricating smaller sized, above ground swimming pools. The larger ones are built from ultra resistant materials, being designed to support not only a considerable amount of water, but also heavier weights compared to the small swimming pools. They can also have a depth of up to 6 feet.

Smaller pools are generally easy to install, requiring only minimum maintenance operations that you can perform on your own. If you want to buy a larger basin, you also need special equipment for filtering, vacuuming or pumping the water. As far as the installation is concerned, you should turn to a professional, in order to make sure that the structure is safe and the equipment functions properly. As you will probably hear from the pool specialist, you need to use certain chemicals in order to clean the water in your best above ground pool.

If you live in a region with a colder climate, draining the water from the swimming basin becomes necessary, in order to protect the tubing system from cracking or suffering other damages. Covering the pool to keep the dirt, leaves or bugs out of it is another thing that you can do to maintain it functioning for a longer period of time.

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Some cities, counties or even states have a strict set of regulations regarding the area around a swimming pool installed above the ground, so you have to make sure that they are followed, by surrounding the pool with a fence of the stipulated height. Also, you must check and see if your life insurance or accident insurance policy covers the accidents associated with using a pool placed above ground.

Not all the products that have affordable prices are made from poor quality materials, and swimming basins make no exception. When it comes to finding cheap above ground pools, that are also built to last, location and online stores alike abound in tempting offers, all you have to do being to choose the one that suits your needs better.

Trampoline Safety Awareness from Injury Lawyer Jeffrey Bowersox

“Most of us believe that exercise is good for our children, and many believe that some best trampolines, which are well loved by children, are a great way for our kids gets that exercise. But like a swimming pool, trampolines are not only dangerous when used in an unsafe manner, but are inherently dangerous in that one wrong move can subject a child’s body to some pretty severe forces, capable of breaking break bones, causing paralysis and worse. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against allowing children to use trampolines at home and school. If you chose to ignore their warning, you can still minimize the risks to your children, while not eliminating them, by becoming better educated about these risks and some basic rules to prevent injury. As an injury lawyer, I represent families who have suffered injuries due to trampoline defects and known safety issues, and agree with the AAP, if you are providing access to a trampoline for your children and their friends, it is important that you educate yourself on trampoline safety in an effort to minimize the danger.”

– Jeffrey Bowersox, the Trampoline Injury Lawyer

HERE ARE SOME RULES FOR USING THE TRAMPOLINE:

  • Make sure the area is clear of object, trees, fences, poles etc.
  • Set the trampoline where an energy-absorbing surface (grass) surrounds it with at least 10 feet (3 meters) on all sides and a minimum of 20 unobstructed feet (6 meters) above it.
  • Buy and use a frame pad that covers the entire spring system
  • Replace any worn or missing parts before use.
  • Set rules for the trampoline and discuss them frequently with your children.
  • Tell children of the risks of not using the trampoline correctly.
  • Have children remove all necklaces.
  • No child under 6 years of age should use a full size trampoline. Do not use a ladder to access the trampoline – provides unsupervised access to small children.
  • Allow only one person on the trampoline at a time
  • Do not attempt or allow somersaults because landing on the head or neck can cause paralysis. If you do attempt complex tricks or somersaults have spotters and ensure the person is experienced and skilled enough to perform these maneuvers.
  • Do not allow bouncing followed by jumping off the trampoline – most injuries occur on landing!
  • Do not use the trampoline without shock-absorbing pads to completely cover the spring system.
  • Keep your bouncing low, under control and to the center of the trampoline. Perform “stop bounce” after every skill or sequence of skills or if you deviate from the center of the trampoline.
  • Do not use the trampoline if under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Do not stand near the trampoline when someone is using it and do not go under it either!

A LOOK AT HOW MANY INJURIES ARE CAUSED

  • It is important right up front to note, almost 75% of injuries result when more than one person is on the trampoline at the same time.
  • More than half of injuries occur while a child is supervised by an adult.
  • Head, neck and spinal injuries are the most serious and can occur while:
  1. Trying to do back or forward flips, landing on the head instead of the feet.
  2. Colliding with another person on the trampoline.
  3. Landing improperly while jumping or doing stunts.
  4. Falling or jumping off the trampoline
  5. Falling on the trampoline springs or frame.

Pecan Pumpkin Bars

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‘Tis the season for pumpkin! You’re not really supposed to say “’tis the season” before Christmas but pumpkins and apple cider make me think of sugar cookies and coco. So it just can’t be helped!

A friend shared this recipe with me. I tinkered with it a bit and think they’ve turned out pretty yummy! At least I have 6 boys at home who can vouch for me on this.

So I wanted to share them it you!

The beauty is you cut the recipe into bars which means they are transportable. It’s like a taste of pumpkin pie to go! Not that you have to go anywhere but the chances are, if you are like me, you are driving someone to art lessons, picking up someone from drum lessons or off to the park!

And if you are like me, the moment you set foot outside your front door with kids in tow, someone is famished and claiming near starvation, so therefore they must be fed. So while you are driving, you can toss a few of these into the back seat and appease the pack of wild animals at least for the time being! Think of them as your secret to driving in peace!

Besides a drive-by snack, these pecan pumpkin bars make a lovely little dessert with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. So dress these babies up and take ‘em out for guests or just the most important people in your world, you precious family!

Ingredients for Pecan Pumpkin Bars

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 16 oz. pumpkin (1 can)
  • 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (or spelt)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. pumpkin pie spice (or 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, 1/4 tsp. ground cloves)

Pecan Topping

  • 2 cups pecans
  • 2 T. honey
  • 1 T. butter

Directions for Pecan Pumpkin Bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

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If using a fresh pumpkin, cut pumpkin in half. Scoop out seeds and strings. Place the halves, cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with foil. Bake until tender (approx. 1 1/2 hours).

I’m usually a canned pumpkin kind of girl. But I must admit, the pumpkin flavor was enhanced when I cooked it myself. Plus we roasted the seeds and enjoyed those too!

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Once the pumpkin is cool, scoop out the flesh and mash it with a potato masher, food processor, or mixer.

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Beat eggs, honey, applesauce, and pumpkin in a large bowl or mixer until smooth.

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Next, get a really good helper to assist you!

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Mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.

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Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a jelly roll pan (15 1/2 x 10 1/2 inch) with butter. Spread batter in pan. Bake 25-30 minutes or until light brown.

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In the meantime, melt 1 T. butter and 2 T. honey in a skillet. If necessary, pulse pecans to desired size and texture in a blender. Stir together while browning and caramelizing on stove.

Remove pumpkin bars from oven. Cool on wire rack. While cooling, top with warm, toasted pecans.

Cut into bars. Serve with ice cream or whippphoto33-1024x768ed cream. Refrigerate any remaining bars.

Welcome to My World Wednesday: A Week of Lists

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I’ve been making lists for as long as I can remember. Even in elementary school, I made checklists of things to do from homework to cleaning my room. Before iPhones there were daily planners. Mine was massive by high school. In college, I even scheduled some of my conversations with friends. To a fault, I’ve been a compulsive list fanatic.

Because, in the past, I took list making and the satisfaction it brought me to the extreme, I have strayed away from them. They used to offer me an illusion of control. I don’t want to drive my life or relationships with a list. Instead, I want them to be led by the Holy Spirit.

But, as the expression goes, I threw the baby out with the bath water. So this week, I’m embracing my administrative gift afresh in my home and making lists like crazy and having a good time of it!

We were lacking direction in some areas and there was uncertainty of expectations in others. So, I’m breaking out all sorts of lists to help bring order and clarity! But that’s not all.

I’m choosing to exercise this gift to truly manage my home, homeschooling and ministry with intentionality, vision and peace. I don’t have to use it for control. That’s the flip side. I’m inviting Jesus into my gift so He can take it far and wide!

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1. Monthly Meal Plan

I have always made a weekly meal plan. But I’ve needed to simplify my shopping, spending and time. So, I’ve started a monthly meal plan for this month. Since we are a big family, I keep needing to adjust how we function to reflect our big family needs.

The Goals: To shop at Costco 1x month buying in bulk my imperishable needs for the month. To create 3 monthly meal plans that I can rotate through the year.

The How-to:

  • Create a master list of dinners your family enjoys.
  • Create a weekly list for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for the week by day (a total of 7). This remains consistent for each week out of the month. Another great way to simplify!
  • Plug your dinners into a blank calendar. I found one I liked for free online. Check out a couple of my favorite meal planning templates!
  • To help simplify the planning, I chose to designate each day of the week with a particular meal style. For example:

Sunday= Crockpot

Monday= Pasta

Tuesday= Mexican

Wednesday= Soup & Salad

Thursday= BBQ

Friday= Pizza

Saturday = Jesse’s meal (my oldest, with my help, chooses and makes the dinner)

  • Write and highlight any advanced preparation needed the day before. For example, you might need to thaw the chicken or soak the beans.
  • Post the menu. With portions highlighted, you won’t miss the reminder of the beforehand preparations needed!
  • Select a prep day. I’ve chosen Saturday afternoon to do some food prep for the week. For example, I will bake a few batches of cookies for that week’s snack, make chicken broth or a veggie tray for nibbling throughout the week. I used to do this as needed during the week. But with the busy homeschool schedule we are on the verge of, I’m trying to set up a new system of doing meals so I can save time during the week without compromising on quality and nutrition.

 2. Cleaning List

In our house, everyone has a list of jobs from morning to evening. There is a lot to keep on top of after every meal. So the children are assigned tasks and even a “jurisdiction” (an area of the home they look after and clean each afternoon-got the idea from the Duggars). The idea of this cleaning list is to break down their weekly deep cleaning jobs into a checklist.

The Goals: To create more independent workers and cleaner results.

The How-To:

  • Choose a cleaning job. (We are tackling the bathroom).
  • Create a list of detailed tasks required from start to finish to thoroughly do the job.
  • Type or write it up. Use pictures for non-readers.
  • Laminate it.
  • Store it with cleaning supplies so your children can take it with them while doing the job.

3. Project Management List

I was becoming overwhelmed. I was juggling home responsibilities, my blog, my book, and a ministry. I couldn’t keep it all straight. Upon hearing my predicament, a friend used a business term to help clarify my load. I am a project manager not a juggler of disconnected parts!

The Goal: To make all the areas of my life manageable.

The How-To:

  • Determine the areas for which you are responsible. They could range from quilting projects, homeschooling, an online course you’re taking etc..
  • Weekly, create separate lists, separate categories on one list or an excel spreadsheet to differentiate the areas into achievable tasks for the week.
  • When the week is done, transfer any unfinished tasks to next week’s list.

What types of list do use in your home? Please share your organizational tips with us!

 

Montessori for Moms: Simple Activites You Can Do In Your Home

Recently, I made a matching game for my granddaughter Madeline. I bought inexpensive bags of plastic wild, desert and farm animals at Michaels. For each animal set, I made a name card that went with each animal and laminated it. I introduce each animal to Madeline using the Three Period Lesson which is used in presentations in the Montessori classroom.

Animal Matching Game

Place three animals on a solid colored placemat. Point to one of the animals and introduce it. Ask for it. Point to it again and ask for its name. Say,

  • This is a giraffe.
  • Can you give me the giraffe?
  • Which one is this?

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When the children get know what the animals are called, it’s time to bring out the name cards. Emphasizing the sound the letters make as you place it next to the animal adds extra exposure for learning the alphabet. It is amazing to observe how quickly kids catch on to the matching game.

This is an almost free way to introduce colors and their names. Rainbows of colors can be added once the basics are learned. Paint companies supply color samples for free at Home Depot or your local hardware store. Putting together a little color book is as easy as punching a hole in the corner of each color sample and then grouping the colors on an individual binder ring.

I write the name of the color on each sample. The color samples can be taken off the binder ring so the Three Period lesson can be followed.

Learning Colors

Point to one of the colors and introduce it. Ask for it. Point to it again and ask for its name. Say,

  • This is red.
  • Can you give me the red color?
  • Which one is this?

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I’ve adapted the individual binder ring idea for making alphabet books, using purchased sticker books for their colorful graphics. The Montessori method teaches the alphabet by introducing the letter by the sound it makes rather than its name.

A  like apple. B like ball. C like cat. Each letter is taught using the Three Period Lesson but it’s fun to just make the books and have fun any way you choose.

An Alphabet Book

Point to a letter and introduce it. Ask for it. Point to it again and ask for its name. Say,

  • This is A (say the short vowel sound, not the name).
  • Can you give me the A?
  • Which one is this?

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There are many books about teaching Montessori in the home. A wonderful way to really grasp the Montessori philosophy is to visit a Montessori school. You’ll get an idea of how the materials are set up and how a day goes in a school setting. You’ll see lots of learning opportunities and will come away with ideas for adapting the expensive store-bought materials to hand-made less expensive creations you can make at home.

The main thing is to make learning a fun time for both you and your child.  Whatever your interests, academic to practical life, the  Montessori Method  is worth taking a look at for bringing an aesthetic and independent learning style into your home.

What Montessori-style activities do you like to do in your home?

Tips 4 Beating the Summertime Heat in the Kitchen

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I love to cook and bake. I love tweaking recipes and tasting the results! I’m happiest puttering away in the kitchen. It’s summertime though, and sometimes, that heat just drives me out of the kitchen!

1. Plan Ahead

This winter, we roasted the turkeys taking up prime freezer space and pressure canned the meat for a scorching day. Canned beef, chicken, turkey, broth, beans; all these make-ahead items make dinner prep a snap when it’s hot outside or I’ve had a busy day.

Pressure canning is remarkably simple, once I got over the fear of it exploding all over my kitchen. I’m excited to expand my repertoire with canning beans one of these days when I have some spare time. Ha!

2. Cook Up Dinner While Making Breakfast

Getting the kitchen hot in the early morning coolness means the house can still cool off before the late afternoon. If it’s a meal that needs some ingredients cooked even though it will be served cold, I have that prep out of the way. Then I don’t have to stop in the middle of a late-afternoon project to put dinner together.

3. Use a Toaster Oven

We picked up a toaster oven for free off Craigslist. On hot days, we move ours into the mudroom that’s not part of the main house. I can bake pies, reheat leftovers, toast bread, all without using my main oven.

4. Use Non-electric Sources for Heat

During the dog days of summer, we pull out our solar oven which came with a recipe book. I’ve baked bread, cooked meat, casseroles, desserts… all using the sun’s energy. We also have a rocket stove and cast iron pans. I can get my husband to cook up the meal when there’s a fire involved!

Also, I’m collecting supplies to make a Wonder Box. The idea is to get the water boiling for a shortened time, then place the meal in the Wonder Box to finish out the cooking time. This strategy cuts back on the amount of electricity and heat output needed to cook the meal.

Do you have a favorite no-cook recipe your family enjoys? What ways have you found to beat the heat in your kitchen?

Welcome to My World Wednesday: A Camping Trip to Seward

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Welcome to Seward, Alaska! The mountains just drop right into the ocean. It is breathtaking! The bay is called Resurrection Bay. I like the sound of that :-)! It was a gorgeous, sunny few days camping with another family. I’m told rarely can anyone be found wearing shorts in Seward! I guess times are changing…

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Joseph, obviously an inspiring fisherman, asked to have his photo taken with the catch of the day. Adorable! The big white fish in the middle are halibut. The halibut is framed by silver salmon and sea bass are on the dock.

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Talk about the catch of the day! It doesn’t get better than this! We didn’t even need to freezer pack them to get them home :-)!

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If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, you know I have a thing for birds. I spotted this bird house and had to take a picture. The harbor in the background and the fire weed at it’s feet make it even more picturesque. The fire weed is everywhere this time of the year. This beautiful royal flower towers the grass along the roadsides and hillsides. Unlike Oregon, there are few daffodils here. But this weed of purple fire is a wonderful gift!

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We were blessed to visit Alaska Sea Life Center, an aquarium.

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The touch tank! This is always one of my favorite parts of a visit to the aquarium. All the boys loved it too! Samuel fell in love with sea otters. We got to see them at the aquarium but also in the bay. Bald eagles were everywhere.

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It is a privilege to be here in Alaska. We are enjoying getting to know our new home! Thank you, Jesus!

P.S. I know it’s Thursday, not Wednesday :-) But we got home late last night, too late to post the photos!

Montessori for Moms: A Tea Party

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The first thing I noticed when I walked into the Montessori classroom was a round, child-size, wooden table with 2 chairs set in the corner of the room. A vase of flowers was set on a square of brightly printed cloth that lay on the table. Next to the table and chairs was a hutch painted French blue that housed ceramic tea cups, saucers and a teapot.

Against the other wall a low, long table set up as a dishwashing station. On it was a plastic dishpan filled with sudsy water for washing, another with clear water for rinsing and a small bamboo rack at the end to hold the drying.

I was told a table for two is part of the curriculum in a Montessori environment. The children have tea parties! I was sold. Montessori was for me.

Being a homemaker, even 27 years ago, I knew I had found a curriculum that would be perfect for me to learn and teach.  My son was just one years old when I did my year-long training. I wanted more than anything to be a stay at home mom with my children.

After I was trained and certified as a Montessori preschool teacher, I transformed our basement into a Montessori preschool. I was open 2 hours a day in the morning, five days a week with 5-7 kids. I earned extra money and kept my own children close. I loved creating materials, preparing art projects and facilitating the learning environment for kids.

Maria Montessori had an incredible heart for children and used her skills as a Dr. and scientist to develop a method for learning that taught the whole child: body, mind and soul. She took poor Italian children out of their impoverished homes for the day while their mother’s worked and provided them with an enriching and stimulating home environment. If you’d like to learn more about Teaching Montessori in the Home, click on the link for a wonderful resource.

The children were treated with dignity and cared for in a way that valued their unique learning styles. They were instilled with a love for learning and self-care, even at their young age.

Six areas of focus in a Montessori Learning Environment

  1. Practical Life
  2. Sensorial
  3. Cultural
  4. Science
  5. Language
  6. Math

The tea party falls into the Practical Life category. All Montessori lessons are presented slowly with deliberate modeling by the teacher and specific steps to follow. Repetition is key in the Montessori Method.

How to Have a Montessori-Style Tea Party

  • First, they are taught to invite a friend.
  • The teacher (or mom) models for the two friends how to set the table with a cup and saucer and to place the flowers from the hutch onto the table. The children carry one piece at a time from hutch to table.
  • The teacher (or mom) fills the teapot with warm herbal tea. One child carries the pot to the table. A cookie or cracker may be an added treat for the other child to carry to round out the party.
  • When the children are finished at the table, they push in their chairs and carry their cup and saucer, one at a time, to the sudsy water. the same goes for the other dishes at the table. One child washes, the other rinses.
  • Tea cups, saucers, plate for cookies and teapot  are set into the drying rack after being washed and rinsed. At that time they may either be dried with a towel or left to air dry.

The children take pride in their independence. The tea party promotes a social exchange, exposure to the esthetically pleasing and practical task of setting the table and finally the sensorial splendor of washing dishes in warm  bubbly water.

Wouldn’t this be a fun thing to add this to your child’s day?

Opportunities abound for moms to be creative in the Montessori learning environment.There are endless possibilities to create matching games, books, counting and science projects and many more practical life experiences such as cutting flowers and folding napkins. More early learning ideas are featured here!

Stay tuned for more Montessori activity ideas!

How have you incorporated Montessori style activities into your home?

Unforced Rhythms of Grace

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I’m want to learn His “unforced rhythms of grace.” I like the sound of it. I want this kind of living with Jesus. But I’m not quite sure what it looks like practically speaking in my everyday life.

I want to know those rhythms and put them on like my favorite, cozy yoga pants which feel like the extension of my own skin. Soft, comfortable, homey. I want to be at home in His rhythms of grace.

The other day I was in the shower. That in itself can feel news worthy. Actually, I do my best thinking and listening in the shower. Can you relate?

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Camille (age 6 months) was with Samuel (age 9). I had asked him to play with her while I showered. Aahh. I could breath for a moment. Focus. And get clean.

What more could you ask for?

It dawned on me that having older children who can help with the baby is one of those “unforced rhythms of grace” for me. How did I ever shower before?

I remembered how I used to do it when I had only younger children. I’d time my showers around my husband’s schedule and give him the baby. Or, I’d bring the bouncy seat into the bathroom so I could keep my eye on the baby while I showered. Or, I’d wait until the baby fell asleep and with lightening speed, hopped in and out squeaky clean.

Wow. All that trouble for a shower. I told the Lord, “You waited 9 years to give me this ‘unforced rhythm of grace’?” Thankfully, He is oh so gentle and patient with me and my questions.

His response: “They were all unforced rhythms of grace. I gave you what you needed in that moment, in that season. You just didn’t recognize it as My provision.”

Jehovah Jireh. God Our Provider.

Was even Abraham walking the pathway of the “unforced rhythms of grace” as he wound up the mountain to offer Isaac? Just in the nick of time, there was the ram in the thicket without a moment to spare. Abraham saw the ram and recognized Jehovah Jireh on the mountain of what he thought would be his greatest sacrifice. This mountain of sacrifice became his place of great revelation.

“And Abraham called the name of that place ‘The LORD Will See to it’ as it is said to this day, “The LORD Will Show Himself on the mountain.”

Genesis 22: 14 One New Man Bible

Step Into Grace

These “rhythms of grace are unforced”, easy. It’s like a dance with Jesus. He leads. We follow. The provision comes and we step into it.

The grace is a gift. Unmerited. Just because He loves us.

The grace also empowers and propels us along into His rhythm. Without much effort, we just choose to position ourselves in the pathway of His Wind.

We, like Abraham, wind our way around the mountain in anticipation that the Lord will see to it and show Himself to us as we choose to place our feet into His footsteps over our own.

No resistance. Just surrender.

What is He teaching you about His “unforced rhythms of grace” in motherhood? They are there. Ask Him to open your eyes. As He shows you, just step into them, receive them and thank Him!

If you liked this post, please share it! Thanks!

Welcome to My World Wednesday

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Guess who turned 5 this week? When they were first born and everything was a blur for months, I couldn’t even fathom we’d ever make it to this day! Praise God we did it! They’re now 5 and starting kindergarten this fall. Such cuties!

Read the twins’ birth story and how God met me on bedrest and in the birth of my premature babies.

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The flaming cake pictured is dirt cake laden with gummy worms. Although hardly edible :-), this never ceases to be a hit in our house full of boys. Joseph is taking a big breath to tackle those birthday candles!

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Camille turned 6 months the day the twins turned 5! Things work like clockwork around here. She continues to be a joy to us all.

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My yellow dilemma has turned blue! Not that it continues to be a dilemma. I actually love this zesty turquoise that greets me cheerily as I enter the room.  My husband isn’t so sure…He says, “I’m happy if you’re happy.” which is a kind way of saying, “I don’t like it but I’m willing to live with it if you like it.” Somehow, in a quirky sort of way, I’m satisfied with that and we’ll live in this dreamy blue, green and yellow world for awhile now.

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One of my favorite parts of using a variety of paint colors in one area is the transition from color to color. You can notice how the yellow and green softly intersect in the corner of our dining room. The green moseys its way into our kitchen. Bliss!