“Stepparenting with Grace” Book Launch & Giveaway (Ends 8/20/18)

Are you a stepparent?  Or, if not, did you perhaps grow up in a blended family?

If you can answer “yes” to either of those questions, you’ll be interested in this brand-new book, Stepparenting with Grace:  A Devotional for Blended Families” by Gayla Grace.  I am privileged to have been able to serve on the launch team for this devotional.  I’d love to share more about Stepparenting with Grace with you…and I even have a copy to give away to one special reader!  (Giveaway details will be at the end of the post.)

 

 

So what is Stepparenting with Grace?

Stepparenting with Grace is a book born out of both the experiences and the ministry of Gayla Grace.  She cofounded a nonprofit, Sisterhood of Stepmoms, to provide community and retreat opportunities for stepmothers.  She founded the website Stepparenting with Grace ten years ago to support stepfamilies with coaching, encouragement, and other resources.  She also has completed a master’s in psychology and counseling.  And as a writer, she brings all these experiences to the reader in a voice that is at once practical, supportive, and hopeful from a Christian perspective.

The book itself is a collection of 90 different two-page devotionals on a wide variety of topics that speak to stepparents.  Each one includes a Thought for the Day, then an exploration of a topic or life experiences.  Gayla uses clear thinking, wisdom, Scripture, and sound counseling techniques to convey hope and practical helps to stepparents who are struggling with all the different challenges of combining two families into one.  The reader can either start at the beginning and read right through, or browse through the titles listed in the table of contents for topical help.  Here are some examples of what you’ll find there:

  • Live Fearlessly
  • Your Efforts Matter!
  • Let God Heal Your Hurt
  • Change Requires Adjustment
  • Maturity Required
  • Trusting God
  • The Price of Forgiveness
  • Coping with Difficult People
  • and more!

Topics that I haven’t seen addressed much in books (other than fiction, maybe) are lovingly unpacked and explored, with calm confidence and grace.  Each entry is short yet full of worthwhile material, so the reader who’s short on time won’t ever feel overwhelmed.

 

What I thought of Stepparenting with Grace

 

I am not personally a stepparent.  Yet, I did grow up as a stepchild or, to be more specific, a stepdaughter.  Combining two families to attempt to create one new family is just a whole different, and often difficult, proposition.  But how can a stepparent approach this enormous challenge with grace, with love, and with wisdom?  We’re all working out the issues of life as we journey along, and many different things shape us as individuals, including the families we grew up in.  So, when I received the opportunity to serve on the launch team for Stepparenting with Grace, my attention and my heart were captivated.  And I can’t tell you how very thankful I am to have had the opportunity to read this book.

 

 

I decided to begin at the beginning of the book and simply read through, as part of my quiet time in the mornings.  It has been a wonderful experience.  Some mornings I did the book version of binge watching and just read chapters upon chapters, one after the other.  Other days, I’d just focus on one.  I have to tell you, the words were just so rich, often so healing, and they spoke to me on a profound level.  I looked forward to reading it each time, and I always came away with something to think about, or something to put into practice.  Other times, I found something that deeply encouraged me.  In fact, I recopied many quotes or passages in my journal so that I could refer to them again and again.  Here are some ideas that particularly resounded with me:

  • “If you’re trudging through difficult days in your stepfamily, don’t give up.  Rely on God’s strength and power to sustain you—He will see you through to better days ahead.”
  • “Accept God’s unconditional love and move past your failure.”
  • “Allow His presence to heal your hurt.  And remind yourself of the magnitude of His love every day.”
  • “We’ll find contentment when we stop focusing on our expectations and trust God to give us strength for our present reality.”
  • “But God provides the tools we need for a sure and steady walk.  “The secret,” Elisabeth Elliott says, “is Christ in me—not me in a different set of circumstances.””

 

 

Sometimes as parents…and, I’d imagine, as stepparents as well, we desperately need someone wise to speak into our circumstances.  To tell us, “Yes, you’re doing this well.”  Or, “Have you considered trying this instead?”  Or simply, “I see you.  God sees you.  And He is with you and you will get through this.”  Gayla Grace, in Stepparenting with Grace, can do that for you.  Her words of wisdom are calm and kind, yet possess the kind of depth that only a person who’s been through the struggles—and come out successfully on the other side—can bring.  As a Christian, she also is convinced of God’s partnership for us as we parent.  I appreciate that as well.

I can, and do, recommend this book wholeheartedly to any stepparent who’s looking for a devotional to help them along on their stepfamily’s journey.  (And obviously, these ideas will resound with any parent, I’d believe, as they have with me!)  Check out Gayla Grace’s Stepparenting with Grace.  You will be lifted up and encouraged as you read her wise counsel.

 

And now, your opportunity to win your own copy!

I’m so pleased that Worthy Publishing is providing a copy of Stepparenting with Grace for one FINCHNWREN reader to win.  Simply click on the pink link below that says, “Enter here.”  That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form, where you’ll be able to enter in a variety of ways.  Giveaway closes 8/20/18.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

 

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

Disclosure:  From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinions, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations

A Stress Relief Set Giveaway for the End of the School Year! (Ends 5/23/17)

Good morning, friends!

I can’t tell you how happy we are that it’s May.  NOT that we don’t love the school year.  But we also love finishing a school year, checking off our to-do lists, and (we’re hoping) taking a bit of a break!  This week is pretty full for us.  We have Teacher Appreciation Week at our coop (which we adore celebrating) and I’m preparing my students’ art display for the semester Art Show.  Plus regular school, plus regular coop, plus some other things…so I think it’s the perfect time for a giveaway that helps with stress relief!

 

 

I do love popping into Bath & Body Works every now and then to enjoy their newest scents in lotions, candles, and body spray.  This week, the finchnwren blog is giving away Bath & Body Works’ aromatherapy duo, Stress Relief.  It’s a eucalyptus spearmint set powered by essential oils.  This set contains a full-sized Body Lotion and Body Wash/Foam Bath.

We’ll be blessing one special reader with this set!

 

To enter:

Simply click on the pink “Enter here!” link below.  That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form where you’ll have several different ways to enter.  One winner will be selected to win, and giveaway closes on May 23, 2017.

 

Enter here!

 

Best wishes!

Enjoy!  –Wren

My amazing Old Navy deals!

I got SUCH deals the other day!

 

 

And I was so excited about them.  I had to share them with you!

 

So, the story:

…was that I had to return a baseball shirt that I’d gotten Jackson that was too small for him.  While he and hubs did some shopping at a tech store, they dropped me off at Old Navy to do the return.

And of COURSE I did a little browsing after I’d returned the shirt, since they weren’t back yet….

Plus, I had a $10 off coupon.

 

And the deals!

Everything in the picture above was already on sale…some for gasp-worthy prices.  And after they applied my coupon, here’s the listing of what I spent:

  • Leopard cardigan sweater:  $5.82
  • Flannel pajama pants:  $2.70
  • Leopard fleece infinity scarf:  $0.77
  • 3-pack ankle socks:  $1.94
  • Stevie camel sueded pants:  $4.25

And my grand total:  $15.48!  (Clearly there is a kitty theme going on here, I realize that!)

 

Finch’s and my mom is usually the one who finds deals like this.  But this was so exciting, I had to share them with you!

Have a great weekend, friends.

Enjoy!  –Wren

The Family Honor Plate…A Fun New Way to Connect with Your Family (A Review)

Are you looking for enjoyable, meaningful ways to connect with your children and family…in a manner that will impact them positively?  I know that family life can get so busy with life, school, activities, and chores that chances to connect on a deeper, personal level can sweep by.  FlyBy/Propeller Promotions and the Family Honor Plate company were kind enough to send us the Family Honor Plate and Table Thyme Discussion Cards to review.  We’ve had a wonderful experience using these…and they truly have provided some neat new ways for our family to connect with each other!

 

 

The Family Honor Plate…

was created by Michelle Weber.  As a mom herself, she realized that she wanted to focus on blessing her family and modeling a positive attitude and spirit with her children.  She developed the Family Honor Plate and the Table Thyme Discussion Cards to provide opportunities and jumping-off points for moms and dads to use with their children…to recognize them, encourage them, and talk about topics and ideas that might not come up in normal conversation but are keys to understanding our kids and how they think and feel.  First, the plate is a cool craft that parents and kids can create and design together.  Then, both the plate and discussion cards (more on those in a bit!) can be used at meals in ways that will bless the whole family.

Weber’s thought process on developing this neat family activity is threefold:

  1.  That Mom and Dad are the examples their children follow and we’re to be their role models
  2.  We can notice when your kids and spouse do amazing things, and link them back to great character traits
  3.  Third, that we can celebrate them by serving a meal on the Family Honor Plate.  And we don’t just stop there, we can use the moments to talk about why their behavior was amazing and how it made others feel.

 

What we received…

was everything we needed to decorate and make our own Family Honor Plate.  The kit includes:

  • A white Family Honor Plate, which has the fruit of the Spirit qualities printed around the inside rim (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control)
  • A paint palette to mix colors on
  • A plate stand for displaying the plate in a special place in the home
  • 3 paintbrushes (and they’re wonderful, high-quality ones)
  • A paint set of 8 colors to decorate and personalize the plate
  • Simple instructions to follow
  • We also received the Table Thyme Discussion Cards, which are set up like a perpetual calendar and provide an interesting conversation starter on each page

 

Creating our own family plate

Jackson and I love doing art together.  Yet as he has gotten older–in high school–it seems like we have more to do in homeschool and less time for art in a day’s work!  So we both really valued and appreciated the opportunity to a) paint together and b) create such a wonderful tool that we can use as a family in our home.  We selected a design (you could paint ANYthing, really, but we chose one that was pictured in the company photos) and began to paint.

The paint colors are rich and the plate itself is a great canvas for them.  The paintbrushes are soft and apply color beautifully.  They were so fun to paint with!  And when we were finished painting, we followed the instructions to bake the plate in a conventional oven to set the paint.  It worked perfectly.  I’m hand-washing the plate just to keep the paint on and the plate in stellar condition, but the paint seems perfectly applied and set.

 

 

 

Table Thyme Discussion Cards

I’m sure we’ve all read the statistics on how good it is for families to eat dinner (and/or other meals) together on a regular basis.  Here are some of the reasons that underline how important meals together can be.  Children and teens who eat together with their parents are more likely to:

  • Eat more healthily overall
  • Be less likely to skip school (yes, there really is a meals together/truancy connection!)
  • Have higher GPAs
  • Have better vocabularies (really!)
  • Helps kids (both younger and older) feel closer to their family
  • and more!

 

Both the Family Honor Plate and the Table Thyme Discussion Cards can provide more ways for parents and kids to connect with each other at mealtimes.  Using the plate to recognize and honor different family members is one way.  But what if you’re looking for some interesting conversation starters?  Table Thyme to the rescue!

This perpetual calendar-ish set of cards (meaning that you can flip the cards over one at a time and get tons of ideas for questions to ask your kids…then flip the whole set over and start again) has questions that are fun, meaningful, and guaranteed to generate interesting conversations.  Here are just a few of the 170+ questions or directions you’ll find there:

  • Look at someone at the table and say something nice about them.
  • Describe a time when you were scared.
  • What is something that made you laugh recently?  Why?
  • If you could create your dream pet, what would it be like?

Tons of great–and sometimes deep–conversation starters!

Using the plate and the cards at mealtimes

We had an opportunity right away to use our plate to bless and encourage a member of our family.  Our son, Jackson, just had his wisdom teeth out so as you can imagine, his mouth is on the sore and swollen side just a couple of days after surgery.  So here is a shot of his breakfast this morning on the Family Honor Plate; poached eggs (nice and soft!).  He isn’t feeling great overall but loved having his breakfast on this special plate.

 

 

But, you don’t have to wait to use the plate for someone who’s ill or just had surgery!  Pull the plate out when someone has done something amazing that you want to recognize.  Or has exemplified some excellent character qualities or done something kind, or is living out the fruit of the Spirit that is written on the center of the Family Honor Plate.

Using the discussion cards are interesting, fun, and just plain wonderful.  Imagine the creativity that could be initiated from these—or learning cool stuff about your kiddos that they didn’t know!  We’re big storytellers in our house, meaning that we love to share details about favorite experiences.  Honestly, though, there were so many questions in Table Thyme that I’d never even thought of asking my child.  And I was captivated to discover his (and my husband’s) answers!

Some of the interesting questions we discussed recently were, 1) Which of your friends are you the most grateful for? and 2) Which Halloween costume that you’ve worn over the years was your favorite?  I loved hearing Jackson’s answers and thoughts on that.  (I can only remember a couple of my own childhood costumes!)

 

So who would enjoy the Family Honor Plate?

And the Table Thyme Discussion Cards?  People who’d like to…

  • bless their kids
  • hear more about their thoughts and ideas
  • create fun mealtimes
  • model great character qualities
  • help their families get even closer

If any of these sounds amazing to you, visit Family Honor Plate and learn more!

Enjoy!  –Wren

Social Corner for Family Honor Plate

Family Honor Plate website

More about Michelle, owner of the Family Honor Plate

Buy the Family Honor Plate kit here

 

 

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this product.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 

Brand New Magic Stix & Kwik Stix to Up Your Art Game! (And Giveaway!)

We have been fans of The Pencil Grip, Inc. for several years, ever since we tried out their amazing Kwik Stix tempera paint sticks. So when we discovered that they’d created a brand new marker–the Magic Stix–we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it! The Pencil Grip, Inc. sent us a set of the Magic Stix 12PK and the Kwik Stix Metalix 6PK to review and share with you. (Plus at the end of the post, you’ll find a giveaway to enter to win your own Kwik Stix Metalix 6PK!)

 

 

What are Kwik Stix?

Kwik Stix are amazing little tempera paint sticks that work a lot like glue sticks.  They are in a plastic capped container and you can roll the paint sticks up and down.  The colors are vivid and marvelous and work on tons of different media; everything from canvas, to paper, to cardboard, to wood, to rocks, and more…just pick an art surface and the Kwik Stix will probably work beautifully on it!

Kwik Stix are ideal for any artist (whether child or adult) and are safe for little ones aged 3 and up.  The tempera paint sticks are non-toxic, dry in 90 seconds (no more getting paint on the side of your hand as you work on your art!), and there is no need for water cups or paintbrushes (or paint shirts).  They’re even ideal for travel since they are so mess-free.  All you need are Kwik Stix and paper!

The Kwik Stix originally came in chubby 3 1/2″ long tubes (and they still do), 3/4″ wide.  Later, The Pencil Grip, Inc. developed Thin Stix, which are basically the same tempera paint sticks in a longer and thinner version (5 1/2″ long and 1/2″ wide).  We love both of these.  The Kwik Stix are available in assorted colors as well as in Neon and Metalix color palettes.  (You can see the Metalix paint sticks that The Pencil Grip, Inc. sent us to try out above!)

They are just a joy to work with.  They impart gorgeous, vivid colors, they are absolutely mess-free, and they don’t have any odor at all!  We have used them in fine art, in fun art, in free drawing, and we come back to our Kwik Stix collection over and over again because of the ease, enjoyment, and results of these amazing paint sticks.

 

What are Magic Stix?

The Pencil Grip, Inc. has created some fabulous new products for people who love to make art.  Now, they’ve introduced their own beautiful color markers, which come in 12- and 24-packs.  The 12-pack we received contained the following colors; red, orange, pink, yellow, light green, green, dark blue, light blue, violet, purple, brown, and black.  They’re housed in a sturdy, clear plastic slipcase.  And have you ever had a marker dry out because someone forgot to put the cap back on?  You’ll never have that problem again with Magic Stix 12PK…because they are guaranteed NOT to dry out for up to 7 days with the cap off!  Isn’t that amazing?  Like their Kwik Stix cousins, they’re also non-toxic and have no odor.  They’re also washable, so you don’t have to worry about colors not washing out of clothes.

 

All the art we did with them!

And now…the fun with Kwik Stix!

We already knew that we’d be able to use our Kwik Stix paint sticks for fine art, art journals and Bible journaling, and art study in our homeschool.  But, with the holidays approaching, we thought we’d also try them out on Christmas ornaments and decorations.

First, Jackson painted a Christmas ornament with the Kwik Stix Metalix blue stick.  You can see it has sort of a “Starry Night” feel to it.  That would be an incredible art lesson, by the way; reproducing famous artworks on Christmas ornaments.  The ornament took the paint well, but we recommend that if you try  this project at home that you use either ceramic, glass, or plastic ornaments that are designed for painting.

 

I found some darling wooden wall hangings at Hobby Lobby and painted them fun girly colors (for the girly corner of my husband’s and my bedroom).  The Kwik Stix Metalix laid down beautifully on the wood; I started with the Metalix fuschia polka dots, then used our older (yet still amazing) Neon green for the background.

 

I used the Metalix fuschia again for “Blessed” and the Metalix gold for “Thankful.” I love the finished product!

 

 

Last, we found some fun ceramic snowman ornaments.

 

 

We colored one with the Metalix blue with a silver overlay (choosing Hanukkah theme colors), and used the regular Kwik Stix colors on the other.  Both the Kwik Stix Metalix 6PK and the Magic Stix applied nicely onto the ornaments, but we decided to go with the Kwik Stix.  They go on so smoothly, they’re just a pleasure to use!

 

And…the brand-new Magic Stix!

Jackson and I LOVE the Magic Stix.  They produce great color on lots of different materials.  Just like their Kwik Stix cousins, the Magic Stix apply beautifully on canvas.  Jackson used them on canvas to paint one of his all-time faves; the LEGO Minifigure.

 

Are you, or your kiddos, people who like to color?  I personally love the adult coloring books that are so popular right now.  I have several, including a Pusheen Coloring Book that has huge, full drawings to color in.  Look how vivid and colorful everything looks with the Magic Stix!

 

 

Jackson and I also decided to try out the Magic Stix on serving plates.  Have you ever made or painted a plate or serving tray?  It is so easy to do.  We simply got some white plates at the dollar store.  Jackson used one to paint the logo of one of his favorite games:

 

Together, he and I free-handed a Hanukkiah (Hanukkah menorah) on a second plate.  We baked both of these in the oven to set the paint and it worked beautifully!  Just be aware that the vivid colors do lighten up a bit, so if you want darker colors you might want to go over them a second time.

 

 

So…what ideas do YOU have to create with Kwik Stix Metalix 6PK and Magic Stix?  They are just amazing.  If you’ve never tried them before, we so recommend them.  Non-toxic, beautiful colors, easy to apply…and wonderfully safe for kids 3 and up.  You’ll run out of Kwik Stix before you run out of ideas of art projects with them!

 

You could even win a set!

The Pencil Grip, Inc. is going to bless one of our readers with a set of Kwik Stix Metalix 6PK paint sticks!  All you have to do is click on the pink “Enter Here” link below.  That will take you to the Giveaway Tools entry form.  Giveaway closes on December 10, 2017.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

DISCLAIMER:  From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

 

Traceables for Bible Journaling…from Kelly O’Dell Stanley

Y’all might remember that I am a fan of both the creativity of Bible journaling and Kelly O’Dell Stanley’s fabulous Designed to Pray prayer journal.  (You can see my review of Designed to Pray by clicking on the book title.)

 

 

I do love Bible journaling.  In fact, as you can see in the image above, I actually even have a Bible journal with extra-wide margins made just for drawing, painting, and journaling.

Sometimes, though, I have a hard time coming up with what to do with those journals.  Sometimes the creativity is brimming over and sometimes the well is dry.

However, my favorite author on prayer, Kelly O’Dell Stanley (see my Designed to Pray review *smiley face*), published a really neat printable on her blog to jump-start Bible journaling creativity.  And it’s free for anyone to download at Kelly O’Dell Stanley.

Here’s just a sampling of three cool pages you can get:

With these, you just place the rectangle underneath your page in your journaling Bible, trace, and then you color or paint!  So fun–and they’re all Bible truths straight from God’s Word.  Paired with lovely images!

You can get these free from Kelly O’Dell Stanley’s blog.  Just click on Free Bible Journal Traceables to print or download your own.

Enjoy!  –Wren

Kwik Stix now at Toys “R” Us ~ And You Can Win a Set! (Giveaway ends 4/30/17)

Guess what??  Kwik Stix, our family’s favorite tempera paint sticks, are now available at Toys “R” Us!  And the lovely folks at The Pencil Grip, Inc. are providing a set of Kwik Stix for one giveaway winner here at the FINCHNWREN blog!

 

 

What are Kwik Stix?

Kwik Stix are wonderful solid tempera paint sticks that are perfect for children (ages 3 and up), families, and adults who love to create beautiful art!  They work like glue sticks, in that they’re encased in a plastic container with a cap.  To use, you simply remove the cap, roll the paint stick up, and you’re ready to color.  There is virtually no scent (like you’d find with most tempera paints), and you get the rich texture and color of liquid paint without the mess.  All you need are Kwik Stix and whatever medium you’d like to draw on, which could be anything from paper (of all kinds), canvas, wood, and more!

Kwik Stix come in two size types, the Kwik Stix Classic and Kwik Stix Thin Stix.  The Classic version sticks are 3 1/2″ long, with a chubby paint stick width of almost 3/4″.  This width is perfect for little hands, but also is great for coloring large areas quickly and easily.  The Kwik Stix Thin Stix are longer and thinner than the Classic ones, measuring in length at 5 1/2″ with a paint tip of 1/2″ wide.  These are wonderful for coloring in small areas, without getting outside the lines.  Personally, our family loves working with both types at once!

And what about colors?  There are so many to choose from, such as:

  • Kwik Stix Classics and Thin Stix come in 6-packs or 24-packs
  • Both the Thin Stix and Classics come in white, yellow, orange, red, pink, lime green, green, light blue, blue, purple, brown, and black.
  • The Kwik Stix Metalix packs include gold, silver, fuchsia, deep green, deep blue, and deep purple, all of which feature metallic or glittery accents
  • The Kwik Stix Neons packs are filled with bright orange, vivid purple, lime green, light blue, yellow, and bright pink…in brilliant neon hues.

How we’ve used Kwik Stix

We have loved allowing our imaginations to run wild with our Kwik Stix, not only in the surface we’ve drawn on but in the art movements we were studying in our art lessons.  Here are some ways we used them as we learned about Vincent van Gogh, Pop Art, and still life paintings:

 

 

We also love using them for creating art in our art journals.  They’re also wonderful for Bible journaling!

 

And now…the giveaway!

The Pencil Grip, Inc. is providing one set of Kwik Stix (size, style, and colors to be selected by The Pencil Grip, Inc.) for one FINCHNWREN blog reader!  Just click on the pink “Enter here!” link below, which will take you to the Giveaway Tools entry form.  Giveaway closes on April 30, 2017 at 11:59PM.

And don’t forget to check out Kwik Stix at Toys “R” Us!

Enter here!

Best wishes, and enjoy!  –Wren

From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog.  We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews.  We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products.  We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.