Brown Bear, Brown Bear Handprint Project

Brown Bear Handprint Keepsake Book - this is AWESOME! What a fun and adorable way to teach colors!

As a teacher of 2 year olds, we don’t have a ton of rigorous curriculum.

We are mostly learning basic principles of SURVIVAL – like don’t hit or bite people and SHARE THE TOYS.

But these tender hearts are so ready to learn!  So each month we focus on a different shape, number, and color.

One of the books we read (almost every day of the year) is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin and Eric Carle.  This book is wonderful for little people because of its repetition and strong focus on colors.

As a yearlong project, I decided to make a special Brown Bear Handprint Book for each student and their family that would feature their child’s handprint while retelling the beloved Brown Bear story.

Since we read the book so much in class, it makes for a wonderful keepsake that the children (at 2 years old!) can ‘read’ to their parents and siblings because they have the story completely memorized by the end of the year!

This book requires very little materials (which is one of the many reasons why I love it so much).

Brown Bear Handprint Keepsake Book

*I found so much inspiration for this project from Preschool Ideas for 2 Year Olds

Materials –

  • 1 (1-inch) white binder
  • Clear, plastic sleeves
  • Paint
  • Googly eyes (In a variety of sizes.  Also the self-adhesive googly eyes were awesome and helped so much!)
  • Construction paper
  • Black pen and colored markers
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Directions –

Each month of the school year we do a new handprint featuring the color that we are celebrating that month.  For example, in September we talk about the color red, so we make the red bird handprint.  In October we talk about the color orange, so we make the goldfish.

After 9 months of school, our book is ready!  We stick each page in a plastic sheet protector and then put the whole caboodle in a binder.

I made a simple cover design using the Brown Bear image I found at 1+1+1=1.

Here are the photos of each page…Brown Bear Bear HandprintBrown Bear Red Bird HandprintBrown Bear Yellow Duck HandprintBrown Bear Blue Horse HandprintBrown Bear Green Frog HandprintBrown Bear Purple Cat HandprintBrown Bear White Dog HandprintBrown Bear Black Sheep HandprintBrown Bear Goldfish HandprintBrown Bear Handprint Keepsake Book

Isn’t it darling?!

The horse is a bit of a stretch, I KNOW, but I honestly could not come up with any other way!  And we fudged a bit on the purple cat by using the foot, but that one is probably my favorite – oh, those tiny toes!!

The parents were SO HAPPY with them when we revealed the final product at the end of the year party.  And the kids were pretty proud of it because they had been working on it ALL YEAR.

I hope this book is something you can use with your kids or in your own classroom!  I will definitely be doing it again this year.

– Julie :-)

*Did you love this?  Our class makes another special book every year about the Days of Creation.  You can find it HERE.*FREE Printable Creation Book Craft at

I’m In a Book!

the mom quilt - 2 (1)A few months ago I received an email from one of my favorite blogs, Meaningful Mama.

The email was a call for writers to be a part of a new eBook project she and a few other bloggers were starting called The Mom Quilt.

Here is what Jodi described about The Mom Quilt

We see a variety of moms in this world, each with their own unique stories of motherhood.  The stories are beautiful and unique, yet we are woven together through the common experience of motherhood.  The result is a beautiful tapestry that we want to celebrate.  “The Mom Quilt” will be a compilation of mom stories that unite us.  Think “Chicken Soup for the Soul” style, but with a focus on motherhood.  It will be a book that rejoices in our unique experiences and wonders at the similar ties that bind us together – the hope that we have for our children’s futures, the difficulties that we face, and the immense joy that motherhood brings to our hearts.

I was instantly interested, but then summer happened and we were busy playing with big boxes and surviving airplane travel.

The night before the submissions were due, however, I felt this gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit that I just had to write!  So I asked the hubs if he would bathe the boys and put them to bed so that I could write my chapter.

I sat down in my Prayer Chair and prayed for the Lord to guide my words (and to guide them quickly – haha!).  It was a close call, but I got the submission in before midnight and received a note several days later that my chapter would be included in the book!

My chapter is called The Happily Ever After We Didn’t Expect and I talk about how the Lord showed me the true beauty of motherhood through sacrifice and the laying down of my life for another.

I feel super honored to have my story alongside so many incredible mothers and writers – 64 to be exact!  I have no doubt that this book will make y’all laugh, cry, and be inspired as you press on in the mission field that is motherhood.

But WAIT!  I haven’t even told you the best part about this eBook…

The best part about this eBook is that 100% of the money made from eBook purchases will be donated to Kristen Welch’s Mercy House Ministry in Kenya.

The Mercy House needs a water well.  Currently, water is trucked in daily – which is time consuming and costly.  A new water well would not only bring a much needed resource to Mercy House, but it will also become an income generating opportunity as they sell the water to nearby villages!  In fact, Mercy House is already sitting on top of a water reservoir, but because it is located on a mountain, tapping into it will be an expensive process.  Through the selling of The Mom Quilt, we hope to raise $40,000 to bring water to women and children in Kenya.

You can read more about the project HERE.

buy-nowAnd you can buy an eBook and support this amazing cause by clicking HERE!

If you purchase the eBook – PLEASE LET ME KNOW!  I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on it as well as praise God for your faithfulness to help fund such a worthy endeavor.

Many Blessings,

Julie :-)

*Note – this book is an eBook and is not available in hard copy format.  You will receive a digital file after your purchase!

20 Little Phrases to Speak Life Over Your Kids

20 phrases to speak LIFE over our kids!There is a woman in my church who is famous for her saying,

“They will become what you tell them they will be.”

She is referring to our kids and how important it is to speak life into their precious ears.

Because if you’re fed a steady diet of, “You’re a bad boy,” “You’re not good enough,” “You are impossible!” “You are naughty,” “You make me crazy!”, “You always/never…”, “What were you thinking?!”, etc., then your inner voice gets programmed into believing those statements are true {{WHICH THEY ARE NOT}}.

Our kids sin because it is a part of their fallen nature.  But don’t forget that their sin does not define them.  The precious blood of Christ does!  Nothing – not even that tantrum they just threw in the supermarket – can separate them from our Savior’s love (Romans 8:28) – thank you Jesus. <3

The Bible says that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” (Proverbs 18:21).

As mamas, we get the high calling of being the voice our kids hear the most while they are little.  The older they get, the more voices they will hear (and this world carries a lot of voices that sound like death), so I am trying to focus now on speaking words to my boys that bring life to their hearts.  I want them to learn now how to rehearse truth-filled phrases in their minds when tempted by the enemy to head down a destructive mental path.

I want my boys to know who God says they are, to Whom they belong, and how to take hold of the abundant life He has for them.

Here are some of the little life-giving phrases I have used with my boys over the years, as well as a few others I gathered from some of my dearest mama friends.  I truly pray this resource blesses your happy home!

20 Life-Giving Phrases for Kids

  • “I see God working in your life.” (You can read more about this phrase and how I use it HERE.)
  • “I love you and Jesus loves you most of all.” (I speak this over my kids every night!  You can see a video and find details about it HERE.)
  • “God is always with you!” (Matthew 28:20)
  • “You are a beloved child of the King!” (1 Peter 2:9-10)
  • “You are a gift from God.” (James 1:17)
  • “You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength!” (Philippians 4:13)
  • “God has a good plan for your life.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • “You are strong in the Lord!” (Ephesians 6:10)
  • “With God, all things are possible!” (Matthew 19:26)
  • “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)
  • “You are loved – no matter what.  There is nothing you can do that will change that.” (Romans 5:8)
  • “Jesus loves spending time with you and so do I.” (Luke 10:38-42)
  • “Let me pray for/with you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
  • “Trust Jesus with (insert here – this situation, this fear, this desire, etc.).” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • “I love that God helped you (insert here something that your child did – be creative, work hard, think of others, do the right thing, bless someone, sacrifice something that meant a lot to them, be kind to a sibling) today!” (Psalm 28:7)
  • “God is concerned about every detail of your life.” (1 Peter 5:7, Matthew 10:30, Psalm 139:1-3)
  • “There is so much grace for you.” (Hebrews 4:16) I say this one while hugging a child who is broken over his/her sin.
  • “I’m sorry – will you forgive me?” (1 John 1:9) This is for when WE make mistakes and sin against them – our kids NEED to know that we are sinners and in need of a Savior – just like them, and “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
  • “Thank you, God, for this precious boy/girl!” (Isaiah 43:4)
  • “I am so happy/proud/honored/blessed that God made me your mama.”

As I was texting with my pastor’s wife about this topic, her teenage kids chimed in and said that the thing they hear their mom say a lot when they make inaccurate observations about themselves or situations they face is a passionate, “That is a lie from the pit of hell!  Get behind me satan!” (Of course not referring to your child as satan but to the one who brought up the lie).

It sounds extreme, but our kids need to be extreme when it comes to mental paths that don’t glorify God or honor His heart for His precious kiddos.  We have to nip those lies in the bud and point them to Jesus!!

How do you speak life over your kids?

– Julie :-)

Recipe – Turkey Cheeseburgers

Delicious Turkey Cheeseburgers - these have shredded zucchini in them! Kid-approved!

Can you tell that it’s summer because I am posting more recipes??  I love having the extra time to feed my family beyond the Mickey-shaped nuggets we get at Costco. ;-)

With that said, I still make these yummy turkey cheeseburgers during the school year because they are so easy to put together.

Plus, these turkey cheeseburgers have shredded zucchini hidden inside – a win for me and my picky eaters!

Turkey Cheeseburgers

*Recipe from Family Circle Magazine

Ingredients –

  • 1 pkg (1-1/4 lb) ground turkey
  • 1 medium-size zucchini, trimmed and grated (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • Lettuce, tomato (optional)

Directions –

  1. Mix turkey, zucchini, cheese, and spices in a large bowl.
  2. Form into 4-6 patties (sometimes I get even more if I don’t make them very big).
  3. Place burgers on a broiler pan and broil about 2 inches from heat for 6 minutes.
  4. Flip burgers and broil for 6 more minutes, or until burgers register 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.
  5. Serve on buns and add your favorite toppings!  I don’t know what my boys would do if they didn’t have ketchup.

Yummy turkey cheeseburgers with shredded zucchiniDo you like our paper plates?  HOLLA!

– Julie :-)

*Speaking of zucchini, did you know that August 8th (tomorrow) is National Leave a Zucchini on Your Neighbor’s Porch Day?  I KNOW – weird.  But REALLY fun.  We did it a few years ago and had a blast.  You can read about it and see our funny photos (and the best zucchini bread recipe) HERE.

Easy Countdown to School Idea

Easy Countdown to the First Day of School Idea! Your kids will love getting ready for school with this sweet idea!!

Well, we go back to school in just a few weeks!

I have a mixture of feelings on the matter…  Grief, denial, excitement…

I mentioned on Facebook recently that the school emailed me my class roster and I started to pray for my incoming little ones by name.  What a joy to shepherd their hearts and change their diapers!

While I am thrilled to be back in the classroom, I just want to linger a bit longer in these summer months.  I have loved being with my boys, staying up late because I know I don’t have to set my alarm at bedtime, thoughtfully planning grocery lists, making dinner, organizing our home, being able to have regular play dates with friends, and blog!  It has been so lovely to stay somewhat regularly connected with y’all.  I am afraid I might have to disappear for a bit once the crazy gets going!

Nonetheless, I am extremely pleased with the teacher Happy Buddy was assigned this year, so we are celebrating with an extra special countdown to school.

I grabbed a small jar and Happy Buddy counted out the amount of treats needed to have one each day leading up to his first day of Kindergarten.

No need to remind him to participate in this kind of countdown!

Easy Countdown to the First Day of School Idea! Your kids will love getting ready for school with this sweet idea!Eeek!  Kindergarten!  I can’t believe I have a Kindergartener.  I think there is homework in Kindergarten!  If I can’t even make dinner during the school year, then I don’t know if we’re going to survive this. :-)

Do you go back to school soon?

– Julie

*Check out my other great Back to School Countdowns at the links below!*back to school countdown prayer chain! have your child list several people at hisher school that you can pray for every day leading up to the first day of school!

Back to School Countdown Prayer Chain

Back to School FREE Printable Countdown

Survival Kit for the NICU Mama

Survival Kit for a mama who has a baby in the NICU - this is such an easy, practical, meaningful way to bless someone going through such a difficult time. And every item can be purchased at Target!

Many of you know that our second born, Happy Baby, had a pretty rough beginning to his life.

We ended up being in the NICU for almost 100 days!  It was a roller coaster of a season, to say the least.

Ever since then, my heart has become easily burdened for any other mom I know who has been given a similar path to walk.

A friend of mine from high school, Ally, emailed me several months ago asking for prayer for her unborn baby, Jaxson.  Halfway through her pregnancy they discovered that he had Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, which, for him, meant that most of the organs on the left side of his body were formed in his chest cavity.  They were told he would face immediate surgeries upon birth, as well as future surgeries, possible breathing issues, and, obviously, a long NICU stay.

Fast forward and Jaxson is here!  But there are still so many challenges and they have already been in the NICU for 2 months.

Wanting to help, I instantly thought of the hundreds of people who made an effort to bless our little family during our NICU stay.  The cards, calls, texts, goodies, food (you can read all about it HERE) – were all a reminder of God’s love and presence.  Every single kind act, word, or prayer was felt and carried us through the most difficult days.

I knew I needed to send something to Ally to lift her up and comfort her with the sweet knowledge that she isn’t alone.

So I headed to Target and put together a small Survival Kit for her to use while we pray them to Jaxson’s homecoming!

Here is what I put in the NICU Mama’s Survival KitSurvival Kit for the NICU Mama - love this!

1.  Lip Gloss – Just because lip gloss is necessary for all women, at any time.

2.  Hand Lotion – NICU parents have to ‘scrub in’ every time they step foot in the NICU facility.  This requires at least 3 minutes of scrubbing, using an extremely harsh soap and brush.  If you visit your baby several times a day, for several months, this equals seriously DRY HANDS.

3.  Tissues – For the extra hard days.

4.  Hand Sanitizer – Keeping the germs at bay.  NO NICU mama can afford to be sick herself and miss out on visits and snuggles with her little buddy.

5.  Target Gift Card – Besides Jesus, Target just knows how to feed my soul – lol.  Go get your therapy on, Ally – you deserve it!

6-7.  Post-Its and Pen – NICU mamas (and all mamas, really) need to stay in God’s Word AT ALL TIMES.  There are a lot of voices in the NICU – doctors, nurses, other parents, the enemy – that sometimes, if we’re not careful, we can let those voices drown out the One voice we really need to hear.  These Post-Its are for Ally to jot down her favorite Scriptures and post all over Jaxson’s room to cover him and their situation with TRUTH.

8.  Essie Nail Polish – Best thing about this nail polish is its name.  Are you ready?  ETERNAL OPTIMIST.  Because this is something all NICU mamas need to be.

9.  Healthy Snacks – NICU mamas are exhausted and often their own needs get shoved to the very bottom of the pile.  Having something healthy and satisfying on hand will give Ally the energy she needs to keep loving and serving her little man.

Throw everything in a small, travel-ready bag, and NICU mamas have everything they need to tackle another day of fighting for LIFE.

I can’t think of a greater mission, Amen?!

Would y’all please join me in praying for baby Jaxson and his sweet parents?

And if you happen to know any NICU mamas in the trenches right now, I encourage you to pray about finding a way to support them on their journey.

Happy NICU Mama Survival Kit-ing! :-)

Recipe – Super Simple Banana Bread

super simple banana bread recipe at

I have been searching and searching for an easy banana bread recipe that I can throw together when I have a pile of overripe bananas sitting on the kitchen counter.

Banana bread recipes usually call for buttermilk (which I don’t typically have on hand) and I am not always interested in lifting the mixer out of the bottom cabinet, so when I found this sans-buttermilk/sans-mixer recipe from Simply Recipes, I was THRILLED.

Then the hubs ate some and he was thrilled and I was thrilled that he was thrilled and so this banana bread caused a whole lot of thrilling.

Which makes it a recipe I will be using again and again!

Super Simple Banana Bread

Ingredients –

  • 2-3 very ripe bananas, peeled
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour

Directions –

  1. In a mixing bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until smooth (I let Happy Buddy do this and he had a blast!).
  2. Add the melted butter to the bananas and stir.
  3. Add the baking soda and salt; stir.
  4. Add the sugar, beaten egg, and vanilla; stir.
  5. Mix in the flour.
  6. Pour batter into a buttered 4×8-inch loaf pan.
  7. Bake for 1 hour or 1 hour and 10 minutes at 350 degrees (check the bread after 50 minutes).
  8. Cool on a rack.

the best banana bread at happyhomefairy.comSo easy!  Enjoy!

Happy Banana Bread-ing! :-)