Monday, February 29, 2016


Review: Faith Builders Bible

Faith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}

My kids are obsessed with Legos. Like, honestly obsessed. Their room contains a bed and ... Legos. It is their absolute favorite thing to do, play with, and talk about all the time. They are junkies! And it has always been my hope that they will become equally obsessed with living their lives for the Lord. And so, when an opportunity came to review the Faith Builders Bible from Zonderkidz  ... well, needless to say both of my seven-year-old boys were very excited about this opportunity.  Here are some pictures of the boys digging into the Bible right after we received it in the mail:

If you aren't familiar with the New International Reader's Version, don't worry. Neither was I. But there is a page near the front of the Bible that explains what this version is. Basically it is an easier-to-read version of the NIV Bible. It is perfect for children and for those new to the Bible. I found it very easy to follow and read with my kiddos.

For those of you who are used to Bibles, this one will feel exactly like other hard-cover Bibles you have held before. It is the typical size with the typical text and font size. However, what isn't typical are the pages scattered throughout the Bible featuring the stories illustrated using Lego. Here are just a few examples of the type of pages interspersed throughout the entire Bible:

Faith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}

Faith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}

Faith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}

Some things that I really liked about this particular Bible included: 
  • The dictionary in the back (perfect for homeschool lessons!)
  • The incredibly well-done Lego builds featured throughout the Bible. My boys loved looking at these pictures and reading the stories that went with them. There are actually 24 full-color pages of Bible stories. 
  • The listing at the back of the Bible of some of the great Bible stories and where you can find them in the Bible. 
  • An introductory page which broke down how to teach the books of the Bible using Legos. 
  • The Lego challenges. For example on a page talking about "The Fruit of the Spirit", there is a picture of fruit built out of Legos and then a challenge for a child to build their own fruit using their own Legos. 
Faith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}This book was not thrown together. It is well-done and obviously created in response to the Lego obsession circulating throughout our young people today. I would easily recommend it to a child who loves Legos. It is a neat way to give a child their very own Bible featuring something that they love. My boys loved looking at each of the scenes, and as always, were especially responsive to the mini figures included. 

Not only did we use this book in our house in a general way ... just reading the Bible together, but you can easily incorporate this into your homeschool curriculum. Just have the kids pick from one of the 24 lessons and build something to go along with it. Then discuss!

I love finding ways to have my children fall in love with the Lord and love finding ways to make them passionate about reading his Word. This is a fantastic option for any family with children who are Lego Enthusiasts. 

Faith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}

Crew Disclaimer

Could Your Problem Actually Be Your Provision?

A great article from one of my fellow The Glorious Table writers that really parallels with a lot of what I write about on my Blog. Sometimes, the thing that we think is a problem could actually be God's way of showing us something. He's so creative and cool sometimes!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

You can take the girl out of the gym ....

I grew up in a gym.


Like grew up there.

My husband said this is why loud noises don't bother me. All the kids can be yelling at once, someone playing piano, another person playing the drums on Tupperware, and I'm sitting there reading my book.

(Other things drive me crazy. Like having my name called 1,000 times in 47 seconds. But noise level, generally, does not.)

JB will walk in. "What were you raised in a gym or something?" he'll say. He said all the horns and buzzers have made me immune.

"Huh?" I'll ask pretending I can't hear him. This makes him smile.

But maybe there is something to his theory.

My earliest memories are chasing balls at my dad's practices, playing in the locker room while his teams practiced, creating unending adventures underneath the bleachers.

(Oh and accidentally getting locked in a locker. But that's a story for another day.)

My dad was a coach. I became a player. Then I became a coach.

At 26 years old I retired from the gym. We were in the midst of intensive infertility treatments. I was commuting an hour round trip in Minnesoa snow. I ended up in a corn field one day after running off the road. Hit two deer at the same time on another day. My husband was in medical school. I needed a less stressful job. Lots of reasons.

So I stepped away.

And I haven't been back since.

How have 12 years gone by before I could even think about it?

Two days ago, I got a Facebook message from a new friend in our homeschool co-op. She was the volleyball coach for our co-op. She's moving to a new school. She's coaching in a rec league. She needed help for a Saturday camp. Could I help?

We were processing chickens with some neighbors on Saturday. (Getting rid of a couple of mean roosters.) So I mentioned it to my husband thinking that he would quickly say, "I don't know how we can make that work."

Instead he said, "I think we can make that work."

I got giddy.

I spent the morning processing chickens.

I spent the afternoon in a gymnasium.

It is amazing how something you haven't done in 12 years can still be in you. It only takes the smell and sounds and feeling of being in a gym to suddenly feel like you are back being the person you always were. I instantly remember the things to say. My voice rose the appropriate level. I remembered how to hit, how to sit, how to serve, how to pass.

You can take me out of a gym. For 12 years actually. I can actually forget that I was an athlete. I can sit at Abigail's ballet, and collect chicken eggs, and check on a hurt goose. I can clean diapers and vacuum floors and help my children learn their multiplication facts. I can pull on big rubber boots and trek through the mud and fight against the snow. I can forget who I was.

But then when who I was comes right back at me, I instantly remember. And I like it.

I know this is where the Lord has called me right now in my life. I'm comfortable helping my husband on the farm. Educating my children. Running our adoption organization. Ministering to hurting women.

But underneath it all is just a big ol' tomboy. You can take the girl out of the gym. But I don't really think you can take the gym out of the girl.

stop using foods as a reward and more to share

A great article discussing our tendency as parents to reward children with food. I've been very aware of this and JB and I have tried to be very purposeful in our decisions to not teach our children bad habits regarding food. We specifically not to encourage our children to eat everything on their plate. We try not to say things like "Love that healthy appetite!" or other things that imply that eating a lot is something good. When eating pizza or another "not healthy" food we encourage the kids to eat 1-2 pieces and then pick some fruit or something else healthy before getting more pizza. We also try to pick rewards that aren't always food-related.

Love to hear what fellow moms think about this article and the concept of teaching our children healthy concepts related to food.

Why It's Great to Have a Stubborn Child

A really interesting article! 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

tests and quizzes

Should you or should you not, use tests and quizzes when homeschooling your children? Click here for an article from a fellow homeschooling mom and the appropriateness of it in a homeschool classroom.

Review: My Bedtime Story Bible

If you are looking for a sweet little book for that new little one in your life, My Bedtime Story Bible for Little Ones is a perfect choice. 

Written by Jean E. Syswerda and illustrated by Daniel Howarth, this puffy board book has sturdy pages -- just perfect for chubby little hands. Eight four page stories with beautiful illustrations walk your little one from the Old Testament to the New and is a perfect addition to the bedtime routine. And each story features a little "Tuck In" section which encourages your little one to ask the Lord for help with fear of the dark or to pray and thank the Lord for coming to the Earth. 

From its smaller size to its beautiful illustrations and pages that can handle extra love, this would be a great book to include in your next shower gift for a new mom. So sweet! provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

We Bought a Farm: All By Myself

I am sitting at my computer and there is not a SINGLE OTHER PERSON IN MY HOUSE.

JB had the 7am-4pm shift today. He got home an hour late. This doesn't happen often, but if he feels he can't release a patient or if there is a call he is waiting on, he may have to stay late.

(The fact that he gets paid hourly instead of salary like when he was in the military makes this so much easier to tolerate!)

He decided to drive his truck over to move the sheep and pigs and check on the five chickens who live at Grampa and Grama's house.

All four kids wanted to go with him. (They love riding in the truck around the farm.)

So not only are the kids and JB out and about, but my in-laws are out of town. This means that it is just me in the house ... all by myself.

Oh and the dog is here. (Only because the animals need moving and he can't be out when the pigs and sheep are moved because he will distract them.)

As I sat here, typing away (I often get many Blog posts done in bulk when I have free time), I started genuflecting, and I realized something ...

I have never been in my house all by myself for.


Oh I'm sure I've been in the house when the kids are playing outside. That doesn't count. I'm still in charge. I mean that I do not think I have ever been in my house without at least one child under my care. JB has taken three kids somewhere before while Hannah is napping perhaps. But outside of that, I do not know that I have ever not been in charge of at least one child while in my home.

It's exhilarating.

(And honestly a little bit scary!)

Friday, February 26, 2016

2015 in Review

January 2015

My brother comes in for a visit and we have all six grandkiddos together.

I drive back to Bowling Green to attend my first ever Alumni game. Okay, so I didn't wear red. Sorry!

My cousin's wife, Briana, comes to visit us for a week while JB is out of town.

February 2015

We spent a lot of February hunkered down in a snow and ice storm.

March 2015

We take the family to Legoland where we meet up with my parents and brother and family and then spend a few days at Disney with Joni, Bri, Robert, Aunt Danielle and Uncle Matt!

April 2015
My Dad comes to visit us! He meets us at the farm for a few days and then we drive back to our house in central TN.

I do a small sprint triathlon by myself.

May 2015

I compete in a triathlon with a friend from the Azores: Molly!

As we get ready to move to a farm, my good friend Stebbs prepares to move from Alabama to Nebraska which means we won't get to see her nearly as much when we get to the farm. 

And then it happens. We move to our farm!!!

June 2015

Cousins Nate and Grace come to visit the farm for a week.

A youth group from Michigan comes to help us for a week on the farm -- such a blessing!

I bond with the geese.

My brother and his girls come visit for a few days.

Veronica visits on the farm. LOVE that girl!

July 2015

My cousin Ryan and his wife come in for a visit at the farm!

Our little German-born Abigail gets her ears pierced and we go to lunch at a German restaurant for her 4th birthday.

My parents come in for a visit.

August 2015

Our friends John and Becky come for a visit with their amazing little boys!

We begin raising all kinds of wonderful animals on our farm: geese, ducks, guineas, pigs, sheep, and chickens!

The boys begin piano lessons with a wonderful teacher who comes to her house. And ... I start lessons at well. 

We start our first official day of first grade at our house. It is a terrible day and we decide to wait and scrap it until the next day.

Abigail starts ballet -- something she has been asking to do for a long time.

The boys and I head out to Vermont for a visit with Roy and Joan.

September 2015

Hannah turns two!

I get to spend three night with three of my great friends from my time in Turkey: Angelica, Rana, and Stebbins in our Nation's Capital.
Yes. Hannah. E'nuf said.

We start attending a wonderful homeschool co-op. Abigail is NOT impressed.

Joni comes for a visit!

We host our first ever conference at Bauernhof Kitsteiner. It is a great success!

Uncle Matt and Aunt Danielle join us the conference weekend.

October 2015

One of the most wonderful moments of my motherhood! A breakthrough as Abigail finally embraces homeschool co-op!

My sister-in-law drives up to visit us on the farm. The six cousins spend their last time together before #7 joins the family in December.

We drive to the highest peak east of the Mississippi together as a family. The last time we were at this spot was on our honeymoon.

Halloween comes and goes, and we spend the day at a local zoo.

November 2015

Mr. Shane flies over from Germany and spends a week with us on the farm. 

We complete the second chicken processing day on our farm. Exausting but very rewarding!

After four months, our first intern, Dan, heads onto new adventures. So long Mr. Dan!

December 2015

My brother and his wife welcome their 7th grandchild: Riddick William

We take our three olders to see Star Wars in the theatre! A great moment!

Joni comes to visit us!

Sixteen Kitsteiners spend Christmas together -- including all 8 cousins together in one place.