10 Random Books that I’m Reading

It's nice to have a variety of books on the night stand: spiritual, parenting, fiction and for the homeschool mom, curriculum.

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Am I the only one that likes to take a peak at someone’s bookshelf or night stand and check out what they are reading?  I thought not…  Today I decided to give you a peak into the random collection of books that I happen to be reading or recently read.   I’m always looking for new books and would love to hear what you’re reading right now!

1. Heidi

Remember when I wrote about 10 Adventure Books to Inspire a Boy’s Faith?  Well, a reader asked if I had a similar list for girls.  And it got me thinking…  So I’ve been researching and reading like crazy to put together my top recommended books to build a girls faith.  As I asked around, this book came up several times.  For some reason, I don’t remember reading this as a girl.  I have an uncanny ability to forget how a story ends when it comes to movies and sometimes with books.  I’m thinking that might be playing a part or I simply read it to young to remember how AMAZING and faith-inspiring it can be.  I definitely plan on reading this aloud to the kids and having Greta read it when she is older!  The nice thing about older books like these is that you can find them free for the Kindle.  No pictures, but free and immediate access sure is nice!

2. The Normal Christian Life

More than anything, I want to live the normal Christian life.  Note that this is different, vastly different, than the average Christian life.  After a recent conversation with my Dad, it came out that I’ve never read this favorite of his all the way through.  I remember wading into it a bit in highschool, but I’m diving in.  It is a slow swim because there is so much to ponder, but it is also so satisfying.


It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned Greta’s food allergies/sensitivities…  Her digestive system is still very delicate and she currently cannot eat DAIRY, GLUTEN, CORN, RICE, EGGS, STRAWBERRIES, POTATOES and PEANUTS.  Most days we truck right along, but I tend to break every once in a while and just feel overwhelmed.  I’m not content to just live with this limited diet for her.  I pray daily for God’s supernatural healing and continue the search to help heal her gut.  I’m reading right now to see if there is something here that might be useful for her.  Anyone ever tried the GAPS diet?

4. The Well-Behaved Child

I’ve found John Rosemond’s writing to be such a breath of fresh air in the parenting arena.  My dad read “A Family of Value” a few years ago and was so impressed that he bought each of his daughters a copy.  He doesn’t do this very often and rarely steps in to give parenting advice…  So my sisters and I knew he REALLY liked the book.  Needless to say we were not disappointed.  It was a great dose of old-fashioned parenting.  My sister Bethany, recently read this newer book of his and really liked it too.  I’m following her lead.  I love his perspective on parenting.  He explains in this book that the two important factors in parenting are leadership and love.  We are called by God to provide leadership to our children so that they can become the best people they are capable of becoming.  A good leader is one who calmly, but decisively leads those under him/her.  People {including children} want to follow a good leader.  I’ve found that the more I embrace the leadership God’s given me in this domain, the better my children respond.  In this age of wishy-washy parenting that tiptoes around children and vascilates between trying to appease them and avoiding them or counting down the time until bedtime every night {because you can’t stand their behavior}, he is a calm voice for a realistic solution.

5. Life Skills for Kids

I’m a big picture kind of person and also one who is not all that great in the housecleaning department.  This book has been great in helping me catch the vision for the day to day training of our children in preparation for sending them out competent and equipped with the skills to survive in the real world.  This book provides “inspiration and practical wisdom for preparing our children to live fruitful, God-honoring lives in the real world.”   She discusses age appropriate chores and training in a whole range of life skills including people skills, personal finances, organization skills and YES, housework.

iBlog - tips on blogging from 30 great bloggers6. iBlog

While I’ve been blogging for almost 7 years, I still have so much to learn.  I’ve been enjoying reading this new book out on blogging which tells you everything you need to know about getting set up with blogging that you could imagine!

7. Unwired Mom

I was immediately taken with the title and subject matter of this book.  I’ve found that I constantly have to set up boundaries so I can utilize the benefits of the internet without allowing it to rule me.  Sarah Mae is very candid about her struggles and what God has been teaching her through all of this.  I gleaned a lot of tips.  There is a 2 week challenge in the book that I’ll be doing with my sister and a friend next month, hopefully.  My sister wrote an excellent article on this topic – Bon Bons for the Modern Mom.

8.. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

This was our last read-aloud book.  My kids just loved the first two books, so I found myself scratching my head and pondering why they weren’t taken with this one too when a friend pointed out there is no clear antagonist in this story.  The antagonist is within each of the characters and the story is more of a journey instead of one with a clear climax.  While they weren’t begging for one more chapter, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmingly moved by the story and all of the parallels to walking out the Christian life.  We did all tear up at the end when the Lucy and Edmund asked about going to Aslan’s country.   And while they didn’t grasp some of the earlier imagery they totally got this part.

The Story of Doctor Dolittle - Read aloud!
9. Doctor Dolittle

I don’t have time right now for reading novels on my own.  It is an especially busy season with the boys, our homeschool volunteer work and working on my book!  So I am really enjoying the opportunity to get into some great novels with the kids.   They are captivated with The Story of Doctor Dolittle and constantly begging for one more chapter.

10. Spell to Write and Read

Tis the season for lesson planning.  I read a great comparison between the phonics/spelling curriculum I use and another one.  While I don’t recommend my program for everyone since there is a steep learning curve at the beginning, the critique of Spell to Write and Read actually inspired me afresh of the many reasons why I like this research based, truly multi-sensory program.   This prompted me to reread parts of the book again!  One of these days I’m going to post why I chose this program and discuss it in greater detail…



Let’s Educate Whole-Hearted Children {Giveaway}

WholeHeart WholeHeart6

I am just so inspired and encouraged as I read in the comments from Monday’s post about what kind of legacy you all want to leave your children.  Isn’t it so amazing to walk in community and unity in our goals?  Of course how that plays out will be unique as each family dynamic is different and we are all unique people.   Over and over again, you all said that you wanted to see the hearts and minds of your children turned towards Jesus!  I couldn’t agree more.

I’ve heard a lot over the years about ‘reaching your children’s hearts.’ In fact, in my early years of parenting, I would start asking for particulars.  What did that mean?  How did one go about doing that?  Most people seemed afraid to give any kind of practical guidance.   But I don’t just want to be inspired with renewed vision, I want some practical help as I go about living this out in my home.  And that is why I’m so excited to share with you another favorite resource in our home.

Educating the Whole Hearted Child.

This mammoth book is geared for homeschool families and is chock full of inspiration, help with honing a vision for discipling and educating your children and practical ideas to help live this out.  Clay and Sally Clarkson identify the crux of what so many parents are yearning for – raising whole-hearted children who love God deeply, delight in the adventure of learning and have rich relationships with the family.  While this book is certainly not prescriptive, it is full of principles that each family can take and weave into their home.

Educating the Whole-Hearted Child is not necessarily designed to be read from cover to cover, although you certainly could if you had the time and desire.  I love having it as a resource on my bookshelf.  I turn to it for inspiration on how to disciple my children.  I turn to it for a pick-me-up on what my mission is and why I’m homeschooling!  I turn to it for practical help and suggestions as I live out the beauty of creating a home where we learn instead of merely replicating school at home.  We get to focus on REAL books, REAL life and REAL relationships!

Tucked inside this book, you will discover how to:

  • Make your home and family the heart of your children’s education
  • Train your children to become creative, self-directed learners
  • Enrich life and education with living books
  • Identify and work with each child’s learning style
  • Help your children love to learn as naturally as they love to play
  • Gain confidence to teach with practical, commonsense methods

Their goal with this book is to give us a larger vision for what God can do in our homes and provide a model of home education that gives us the freedom to follow the Holy spirit for what our children need most.  Do I hear an amen? 

Each time I pick it up to read a section, I walk away encouraged and equipped, because I’m setting about the monumental task of raising Daniels.  I want to cultivate a home where the Spirit of God is present, invading our daily lives!  I want to cultivate a home where we read – alot and learn together as a family.   I want to cultivate a home where those character lessons are just as important as the academic ones. This beautiful book is seriously a gold-mine of information and inspiration that will bless anyone who reads it.  wholeheart2



The Clarkson’s have graciously offered to give a copy of this must-have book to one of you dear friends! I’m tickled pink.  You can find Sally blogging at I Take Joy.  She also runs a phenomenal site called Mom Heart | Coming Home to God’s Heart for Motherhood, and last but not least, you can find all of their books and updates on their ministry at their Whole-Heart site.  I encourage you to check out all three!

You can enter to win using Rafflecopter below.  Leave a blog comment and press the +1 button to unlock other options for more entries.  Giveaway ends right before midnight (AZ time) on Wednesday 03/20/13. The winner will be emailed and announced on the giveaway widget below. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to the email or a new winner will be selected. All entries must be documented within the Rafflecopter widget below. Giveaway is open to US residents only.

If you don’t want to wait and see if you win a copy, you can purchase it from Amazon, my usual default,  or buy it on sale at Christian Book.com.  Even with shipping charges, it still beats out Amazon’s price!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is part of my ‘house-warming’ party!  We’ll have a few giveaways posted each week in March as I share about things my family loves!  Welcome to my new website!  Check out the opportunity to win:

Hidden Art/For the Children’s Sake bundle (through 3/15)

Arizona Homeschool Convention and Curriculum Fair pass giveaway (through 3/20)

Playsilks: Unleashing the Imagination (through 3/22)

Block Play: Building Up the WHOLE Child (through 3/27)

Linked to: Hip Homeschool Mom’s Giveaway Day.

Nursing Some Good Reads

I nurse, therefore I read…

Am I the only one who does a whole lot of reading in those first few months with a baby?  While I don’t have nearly the time that I did with my first baby, I still find myself reading a lot when I am nursing my babies.  I have tendencies to get easily distracted and am usually in the middle of a couple of books.  The sleep deprivation or fluctuating hormones must be accenting that because I’m dabbling in more than usual.

I’m always curious to see what others are reading, so I figured I would share my current reads.  Since I think I’ve nursed her in almost every room in the house, I thought I would share the books I have located in each spot!

The Front Room

I love the lighting in this room.  We just have sheers up on all of the windows so this room is awash with indirect sunlight!  The kids spend a lot of time in this room, so naturally, I do too!

My Backpack Bible ~ This tiny Bible with a snap closure received its nickname when I bought it in college.  It travelled back and forth to school with me daily and has been a staple in my diaper bag.  I’ve been keeping it handy downstairs because I can hold it with one hand making reading it while nursing possible.  It is the Bible we grabbed when we did the first day of our advent devotional and pictured here.

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains
I knew I was starting my climb out of the post-partum fog when I started reading this book.  What can I say, brain research excites me as long as I’m not too sleep deprived.   This fascinating read delves into how surfing the Internet is actually changing the way we think and re-wiring our brains…  I’m sure some people are more effected than others.  A friend posted a recent CNN article about ‘popcorn brain’ on facebook this summer and it really challenged me.  So when I saw this book, I knew I wanted to read it.

A Family of Value
My dad found this when it was offered as a free Kindle book.  He liked it so much he bought a paper copy for each of his daughters.  I wish I had read something like this several years earlier.  It is just common-sense, old fashioned parenting.  The author is a psychologist who bought into the ‘nouveau’ ideology advanced by mainstream psychology until their firstborn reached the age of three.  They realized that instead of creating their dream of a the loving democracy that a dictatorship had arisen and the 3 year old was in charge.  That’s when they realized that they needed to return to time-tested parenting models.  His book hinges on the concept of raising children who “were endowed with traits of character that constituted good citizenship: specifically respect for persons in positions of legitimate authority; a willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own social behavior as well as assignment from authority figures; and resourcefulness, a hang-in-there, tough-it-out, try-and-try again attitude toward the many challenges of life.”  So far it has been eye-opening, convicting and intensely practical.  While he is a believer this is not a specifically Christian book.

The Living Room

A Natural Guide to Postpartum Health
I’m a science junkie who is fascinated with the health aspects surrounding fertility, pregnancy and babies. I’ve also had a growing interest in the area of post-partum care of women and nutrition. 
This book explains how the most common postpartum complaints are actually a result of nutrient and hormonal depletion and imbalance.  I found this book fascinating. It is changing the way I want to help women. I have been having conversations with my sister and a few friends over the years about how we can best care for each other post-partum and this book was very helpful. I checked it out through inter-library loan, so unfortunately had to skim through the last several chapters because I didn’t have enough time to read all of it. But with the science emphasis, I didn’t always have the brainpower for this kind of reading… I’m cutting myself slack though and reminding myself that I’m going through those very hormonal changes talked about and suffering from a bit of sleep deprivation. I would love to buy this book sometime so that I can use it as a resource when my friends and sisters have children!

Cure Tooth Decay Naturally: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition
I’ve been researching nutrition a lot over the last year and making more adjustments with how we eat.  When I came across this book during a library search for something else, it piqued my curiosity.  It is a fascinating book and while I don’t think his recommendations are very reasonable for those on a tight budget, I’ve found changes we can make and it has challenged how I’ve viewed oral health…

The Kitchen Table

The Black Stallion
We’ve been working our way through the Black Stallion.  One of my favorite times to read chapter books to them is at the kitchen table.  Sometimes I read while they are wrapping up lunch or during afternoon smoothies.  Other times, I give them paper and turn them loose drawing while I read.  Busy hands make for more focused minds.  Even the three year old can pay attention sometimes…  

The Nursery

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
She isn’t sleeping in the nursery at night yet, but when I’m in this room, sleep is on my mind.  Hence I reach for this book that I’ve read with each of my children.  This book really taught me how to read my children’s sleep cues and find a routine that worked for each of them.  It is always such a relief when I start to figure my kids out and when they reach the age of slipping into a routine.  That time is just around the corner for us!

The Master Bedroom

My regular Bible is on my nightstand.  I find I can read it at night for a bit while I nurse Greta one last time.

In the days after Greta was born and I was attempting to stay in bed, I also enjoyed rereading C.S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet.  His vocabulary is amazing and I felt stretched in a good kind of way.  I couldn’t help but reflect on how reading really helps boost and build one’s vocabulary.  This is what probably inspired me to try and increase my time spent reading books over the last 2 months.

While I’ve promised myself to not start anything else until I finish these, I’m always looking for new book recommendations!  I’m thinking a novel would be a nice break for my next book.  So I’d love to hear what books are being read at your home.

Confident and Grateful Graduates…

I loved my homeschool experience while I was in the midst of it, but my appreciation has only grown as I’ve moved in and out of the subsequent seasons in my life. I had the opportunity to share a bit about that this summer at the Arizona Homeschool Convention. It was fun to reflect on those benefits. Most of my friends who were homeschooled have shared similar stories and they are always inspiring to me, especially now that I’m in the trenches of teaching my boys.

So I was intrigued when a publisher contacted me and asked if I would be willing to review Tim Tebow’s new autobiography. I must admit, I was a bit confused at first. Never in a million years did I ever imagine that someone would ask me to review a football book… It took me a minute to realize the homeschool connection.

Since I live in a football crazed house, I was intrigued to read his story. With three little boys, I’m always on the lookout for parents who have raised men who love the Lord and love their families. I’m blessed to know many such wonderful families and let me tell you, I’m watching closely and peppering them with questions…

The first half of Tebow’s book, Through My Eyes, did not disappoint. It was a delight to get a peek into some of the ways that his parents influenced him.  He was homeschooled from the get-go and it was interesting to see the values and priorities that his parents brought into raising him and his 4 siblings.  The book made me excited to see how God will use my boys competitive and energetic natures for His purposes.

I sure hope he is able to make a go at it in the NFL because I would love for my boys to be interested enough to read his book when they are older. He has a strong moral compass and a desire to lead. He is certainly the kind of guy I wouldn’t mind my boys emulating.

One of my favorite ‘homeschool’ related aspects of the book is when he approached his parents about a weird protein drink regime that he wanted to embark on and how his mom turned it into a research project. She challenged him to ‘prove’ to her the safety and nutritional benefits of this regime beyond its faddish appeal before she would let him proceed. He went on to do that very thing and won 1st place at a local science fair for his efforts. That is totally something my mom would have done.

To be honest, I didn’t find the last half of the book as interesting -due to my lack of football obsession most likely.  The details of how many of his college games played out simply didn’t interest me.  But as a mother of 3 boys, I still found the book, overal,l well worth the read.

Homeschooling and parenting in general requires a level of dedication and diligence that can be enormous. And yet not only can we see fruit throughout our homeschool years as we prayerfully and faithfully raise our children the way God is leading each of us to, there is going to be long-term fruit that will keep coming in the years to come. I know this from experience, but it is always refreshing to hear someone else’s story too and remember that at some point in the future, our kids might just come back and thank us!

For the Children’s Sake and other reads…

For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

After a friend had mentioned reading this book, I scanned my mom’s bookshelf and found her well-worn copy that she bought back in the mid 1980’s. The cover art is obviously different from the new edition, pictured here, but I didn’t want to scare anyone away from this amazing book with the 80’s artwork.  (Although aren’t the 80’s back in vogue?!?!?)

As I read, I was inspired in the way I view my parenting and my children. While not specifically a ‘homeschool’ book (in fact her children were in all kinds of school both formal and at home), I really feel like she gets to the heart of what it means to parent and lays out a beautiful philosophy for raising children. It confirmed many of the thoughts I’d been having and confirmed the calling I felt to educate my children at home.

She really challenges modern notions of ‘school’ and ‘education’. Education is so much more than simply sitting at a desk and learning skills. Learning is a beautiful, creative and fulfilling way of life. It has been incredible to see our home transform into a place where we are all seeking to learn and respecting the different capacities and levels that each one is at – both child and adult alike. There is joy in the discovery and it has been a delight to watch my children discover more about the incredible world around us.

I also appreciate Macaulay and Charlotte Mason’s respect for young children and their need to ‘play to learn’. Both advocate a very developmentally appropriate approach to early education!

I can’t say enough about it. If you have kids, read it!

Other books I have LOVED include: )

Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk by David Elkind. Again, not a homeschool book, but an awesome book on what is healthy and appropriate learning in the preschool years. We live in a culture where there is a lot of pressure to build our toddler/preschoolers brain and ‘do’ formal academics with them. Elkind, a renowned developmental psychologist, dispels the myth that this is good and in fact shows how dangerous it can be to push academics at an early age. From the description on Amazon: “Development in toddlers, he cautions, can be seriously damaged by parents’ well-meaning rush to give them a head-start on education or in sports. Preschoolers ought to be encouraged in their spontaneous learning rather than given formal instruction that teaches them “the wrong things at the wrong time.” Incredible book, especially if you are feeling pressure from well-meaning friends/family or struggling with not wanting your toddler/preschooler to be left behind.

Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less. This super helpful book is chock full of information on scientific studies of how young children learn and cautions against the rush to cram academics. Like Dr. Elkind does, they point out that there is no evidence that early academic training has any long term benefits and in fact can cause harm. One of my favorite parts when I read it several years ago were the sections that layed out developmental milestones and ‘experiments’ (i.e. games) you could play with your children to see if they had reached certain ones yet. I found it a facinating, freeing and inspiring read perfect for those with 1-4 year olds!

Endangered Minds: Why Children Don’t Think and What We Can Do About It by Jane Healy This is the book that got me started on my fascination with the science of how children learn. I even explored the option of going back to grad school to pursue this further… (Back in my post homeschool student, post biology undergraduate and pre-kid stage of life!)  The review from amazon sums it up quite succinctly saying that this book is “a fascinating exploration of today’s much-deplored decline in school achievement….[Healy] clearly conveys the relationship between language, learning, and brain development, then explains why television viewing and present-day lifestyles sabotage language acquisition, thinking, and personal success. “

So those are some of my top picks… What parenting/education books have you found helpful?

Current Reads

So many books and so little time.  I’m finding that I need to be a little more intentional to actually sit down and read some of the many books that have recently peaked my curiosity.

As you can see, the list is long and ecclectic…

The Beautiful Fight: Surrendering to the Transforming Presence of  God Every Day of Your Life
It has now been re-released under the new title: Holy Available: What If Holiness Is about More Than What We Don’t Do?.  I’m embarassed to say that I’ve been working my way through this book for a while.  It is absolutely incredible.  I find myself pausing to reflect with each page I read which is part of the reason it’s taken me so long to read it…

He talks about what he has termed, “incarnational spirituality” and defines it as:

“the living, reigning, and ascended Jesus living through us and transforming us into different people ~ [this] does not exist to uphold a few rules but rather speaks of a process that creates an entirely new person who sees with new eyes, feels with a new heart, hears with renewed ears, and lives with a new passion.”

Good stuff.

Parenting in the Pew: Guiding your Children Into the Joy of Worship.
The title intrigued me.  She urges us as parents to have our “hearts fixed on being with our children before the Lord.”  I’m interested to read what she has to say…

The Art of Mingling
This book just makes me laugh.  Of course, I’m reading it because I am in a season where I am having to move outside of my comfort zone and meet new people.  I like to think that I used to be good at this once upon a time…  But one thing is sure, I’m not so great at ‘mingling’ right now.  It takes great effort to get my mind off of kids, diapers, etc and actually be able to have a coherent, interesting conversation with someone I don’t know very well.

Don’t Drink Your Milk
I recently went to a talk on pregnancy nutrition (no, I’m not pregnant) presented by my sister’s chiropractor.  He mentioned problems with milk consumption and recommends staying away from it.  This was news to me.  Our family drinks A LOT of milk, but I’ve had some suspicians that younger two boys might be having some issues from milk consumption.  I’m reading this book as a starting point, before I do more internet research.  (Just a small way that I’m trying to cut down on my accursed screen-time.)  I’ve reduced the boys milk consumption and after what I’ve read, my craving for milk has gone away…

Thankfully, not all of my reading is of the non-fiction variety…

Cheaper by the Dozen
With Xander’s roll in the play last fall, came a fascination with the story, so a friend of mine lent me the book.  It is hilarious and I find it interesting to compare how it stacks up to the play, the old movie and the new movie… 

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

This is our new family read-aloud.  The illustrations by Helen Oxenbury are beautiful and boys are excited that there are so many.  I don’t remember reading this when I was a girl, but I probably did.  Either way, I’m intrigued to read it now! 

And last, but certainly not least, especially since I’m the most faithful with this, is my Bible study.

My Bible study group is doing a Precept study on the book of Daniel this semester and next.   I love the inductive Bible study method that Precept Ministries uses.  I enjoy discovering God’s truth for myself rather than relying more heavily on simply how other people interpret the Bible.  It is so nice to have accountability.  It keeps me in the Word daily and just blown away as the Holy Spirit makes it come alive!  The diverse group of women in my study have become so precious to me.

I’d love to hear what you are reading right now!  I’m always looking for new titles to go in the queue!

For Grown-up’s

I love picture books.  There is something about beautiful or creative illustrations and a fanciful story that just has me hooked. 

Today we read one that was a hoot.  It mostly went over Xander’s head, but he enjoyed it as well.  I couldn’t help but think of my mom and her love of art when I read it!

When Pigasso Met Mootisse is a parody of the relationship between the great modern artists Picasso and Matisse.  The puns were hilarious and Nina Laden’s artistic interpretations of some of their famous paintings were hilarious.  It proved to be a great lesson in appreciating differences in personality and taste when it comes to artistic expression.

From one of our favorite pages:

Mootisse called Pigasso an “Art Hog.” Then Pigasso called Mootisse a “Mad Cow.”

Mootisse quipped, “You paint like a two year old.” Pigasso retorted, “You paint like a wild beast.”

Mootisse raged, “Your colors look like mud.”  Pigasso spat, “Your paintings look like color-by-numbers!”

Then things got really out of hand…

Xander liked it because paint was flying everywhere in the illustration!

So thankful for what I find in my random library catalog searches!  We will definitely be checking this out again when we study art history!  I can totally see the boys wanting to do their own Picasso or Matisse renditions in a few years after reading this book…

Makes me curious to try another book of hers: Romeow and Drooliet.

Hooked on Nature!

I’ve been freshly inspired of late after reading Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder to make sure that my boys have plenty of time enjoying and exploring the outdoors. Unstructured time to explore nature is a critical childhood experience. This book is a powerful plea for people to take the healing power of nature seriously – for kids, and also adults as well. The latest research demonstrates that when children have hands-on experiences with nature, even if it is simply in the weed lot at the end of the street, they reap the benefits. Researchers cite diminishment in levels of ADHD, fewer incidents of anxiety and depression, improved self-esteem, enhanced brain development, higher levels of curiosity and creativity, and a sense of connectedness to the community and the environment. I know for me, time out in nature continues to have a powerfully calming effect. It is where I unwind, relax and have sweet communion with God!

As a child, one of the ways, we enjoyed the great outdoors was by going to the zoo almost weekly. We live a little further from the Phoenix Zoo than I did growing up, so I’ve been trying to make it there at least once a month. Due to the cooler weather this last week, we made it twice in four days.

The boys and I enjoyed going on Wednesday before we picked up Evie from the airport! The weather was beautiful and we explored the Children’s Zoo. We ended our day playing in the creek at the front of the zoo. They have an amazing little park area with a cool tree house, several tunnels and bridges and a shallow creek. Xander just loved taking his shoes off and wading in the creek looking for rocks, sticks and BUGS!

The boys are checking out the Amazon River Rays on our way into the Zoo!

Pretending to be Wallaby babies!

Playing in his creek!
We enjoyed ourselves so much and talked to Daddy about it almost non-stop that evening, that he suggested we return on Saturday morning! It was a little bit warmer, but well worth the trip. The giraffe’s were right up close and the cheetahs were more active than I’ve ever seen them. It was a real treat. But of course, I think the highlight for the boys (and I mean ALL of my boys) was the creek play area. Rich loved playing with Xander and was quite enamored with the tree house!

Another wonderful resource that a friend of mine just sent me is The Green Hour. It is affiliated with the National Wildlife Foundation. This site has many wonderful ideas about how to help your children engage with the nature. This same organization publishes Wild Animal Baby, a magazine for toddlers that MiMa sent to Alexander as a gift last year. Each issue is always among his favorite reads…
If anyone has any creative ideas on how I can help my boys experience nature more, especially since we live in the confines of the city, I’d love to hear them.