{Mama Tips} Grocery Shopping With Little Ones

Grocery shopping with little ones. It used to be something I dreaded, but I’ve come to actually enjoy this time–having my children close to me (and each other) in the shopping cart, experiencing a big piece of everyday life as a team, and answering a million questions about what they spot on the shelves. I thought I would share a few things I’ve learned that serve to make our grocery trips together more pleasant.

I realize that we’re all in different situations. At the time of writing this, I have just two littles who have recently turned three and one. I am also blessed to now be living in a home where I can pull the car right up to the front door. Take these tips for whatever they’re worth in your current season. :)

Limit the Number of Stores per Trip

I used to think it was best to just knock out all the shopping in one big trip, but I’ve since changed my mind. I try to buy my groceries at a maximum of two stores per week, and I usually split those into two trips. It may not technically be as efficient to go shopping twice in one week, but I find that we are all generally in better spirits if we put our combined energy into one store at a time. I’d rather have more hassle and less grumpiness. :)

Park Near the Cart Return

Parking as close to a cart return as possible means I can take my kiddos straight out of their seats and into the cart, and it makes returning the cart after unloading much easier.

Shop on Full Tummies

It is never a good idea to take hungry little ones into a grocery store. It seems obvious, but sometimes we moms need things like this pointed out to us, and I’ve made this grave mistake too many times (and ended up with Lara bars that weren’t on my list). And while you’re at it, make sure you’re not “hangry” yourself. ;)

Give Your Little Ones “Jobs”

Enlisting children’s help with holding groceries, setting produce on the scale, or unloading groceries onto the conveyer belt makes this outing a team effort and keeps little hands busy and little minds feeling important.

See Shopping as a Teaching Opportunity  

Is it fun to take little ones down a dozen grocery aisles full of appealing boxes and cans that are all within arm’s reach? No, it’s not. But it is an excellent opportunity to teach them about stewardship, work, wisdom, frugality, generosity, healthy eating, serving, self control, discipline, planning, efficiency, and many other important character qualities and life skills. Seize the moment!

These simple tips don’t make shopping with little ones a breeze, but they do generally help our trips go a bit smoother. I wish you many sweet shopping memories with your kiddos! Thanks for stopping by and be sure to let me know if there’s anything you’d add to this list! :)


Celebrating God’s Love with a Valentine Tree

In mid-January, I began casually thinking about Valentine’s Day. Holidays and events tend to sneak up on me and then I wish I’d given them a little forethought so I could do something special. Even simple things–like an easy craft–often take planning to have the needed supplies on hand, etc.

As I was considering options, I remembered how my mom made Valentine’s Day a memorable time for my brothers and me, and I knew I wanted to do the same with my boys this year. I recalled a little white tree she pulled out various years during my childhood. On its branches, we used yarn to hang construction paper hearts that had Scripture references written on them. At meal times, we would take turns getting to choose a heart from off the tree, and my parents would read the verse or passage.

So this year, I am planning to do something similar. I will begin with a bare tree and a box of hearts. Each day in February leading up to the 14th, Caleb will choose a heart from the box and add it to a branch, and we will read the love-themed Scripture passage written on it. On Valentine’s Day, our tree will be complete and we will end by reading “the love chapter”, 1 Corinthians 13.


Caleb and I found a tree on my parents’ property this week, and I used twine and pink and red yardstick for the hearts.

I thumbed through my Bible and chose references I had highlighted in it for the passages we will read. The references are listed below. I am so excited about this simple activity, which will hopefully spark some sweet discussions about our Savior’s love, and how we are to show that love to those around us.


What have you done or are you planning to do to make Valentine’s Day special for the whole family? I would love to hear your ideas!

Romans 12:9
Psalm 13:5-6
Psalm 37:28
Ephesians 2:12-13
1 Peter 1:8-9
Titus 3:5-7
Romans 8:35-39
Psalm 40:10-11
Philippians 1:9-11
Colossians 3:12-14
Ephesians 4:32
Psalm 36:7
1 Peter 3:18
1 John 4:10-11


{Mama Tips} My 2018 Reading Goal & Book List

Four years ago, I set a goal of reading for at least 10 minutes every day. Less than two months into the year, I had already finished ten books. Why? Because for me, the hard part about reading is actually setting aside the time to do it. I never feel like I have time to read. There are always clothes to be folded, dishes to be washed, emails to be responded to, sleep to be had…but in 2014 when I set the extremely manageable goal of 10 minutes, it made stopping to pick up a book feel so reasonable. And guess what–I didn’t usually close the book at the ten minute mark. Once I was reading, I often kept reading! (By the way, I found out I was pregnant a few months into that year, and morning sickness tanked my reading goals. Caleb was worth it.) :)

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find that playing tricks on my brain can lead to better productivity, and this is a great example of that.

The other objective that this small goal accomplishes is wiser use of my time. I find myself bringing a book into a waiting room instead of scrolling my phone, or tacking a few pages on to the end of my quiet time if the boys are still occupied. Seizing a little time here and there leads to pages, chapters, and books finished.

This year, I’m setting out to read 10 minutes a day, five days a week, and hoping to complete 12 books. As we anticipate growing ministry opportunities, another move (within the same county), and unforeseen events, I am willing to let these goals go if needed, but as things stand now, I think they are very realistic.

Below is my 2018 book list (Amazon affiliate links) in approximate planned reading order. Have you read any of these titles? What is on your list this year? I’d love to hear from you! :)


P.s. I’m about halfway through #2 in the list below from last year, and a chapter into #10…I always count books in the year that I actually finish them. :) 

  1. Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety by Elyse Fitzpatrick
  2. Letters to Pastors’ Wives: When Seminary Ends and Ministry Begins edited by Catherine J. Stewart
  3. Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahoney (re-reading this with a group of ladies)
  4. Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp
  5. Peace Child: An Unforgettable Story of Primitive Jungle Treachery in the 20th Century by Don Richardson
  6. For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
  7. Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
  8. Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung
  9. Operation Thunderbolt: Flight 139 and the Raid on Entebbe Airport by Saul David
  10. Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman
  11. Intimate Issues by Linda Dillow
  12. Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis by Tim Townsend

{Mama Reviews} Last-Minute Christmas Gifts

Christmas is less than a week away, but thanks to Amazon prime, there is still time for last-minute shopping without the crowds! Here are a few suggestions of items I personally use and love that would be perfect for one of the moms, babies, or preschoolers in your life. You can also check out my favorite meal time recommendations here.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I am always very intentional about the products I recommend and would never try to push something I do not fully stand behind. 

Nose Frida

This is a must-have for cold season. Say goodbye to the blue bulb from the hospital and don’t be grossed out by the odd concept of using your mouth to suction baby’s nose. It’s perfectly sanitary and so much faster and more effective! They sent this to me for free when I offered a review; I lost my first one and was desperate to keep one on hand.

360* Nursing Cover

I can’t imagine the last year without my 360* nursing covers. SO helpful for sporting events, library time, play dates, you name it. There are a lot of companies making this practical style now, but here’s an affordable one with good reviews that arrives in time for Christmas.

KMASHI Car Mirror

We have two of these and they are lifesavers for our rear-facing little ones. Well-worth the $12.99 splurge.

Inglesina Table Chair

Read my review on this here. A few weeks later, I’m still loving it!


Sticker Book

We haven’t actually used this yet but Caleb is getting it for Christmas and I know he’ll love it!

Picture Books

My favorite gift is always books, and you can check out my lists of favorite Christmas books and library finds for recommendations.

Lego Duplo

I can’t even tell you how many hours upon hours both my little ones (3 and 1) have spent playing with their Duplo blocks. They are such a worthwhile purchase at this age! It’s fun because you can keep adding on, with big sets or with really simple ones like this First Plane for $5.80. It looks like many of their bigger sets are restocking December 22.

Franklin Baseball Bat & Ball Set

This is another gift from over a year ago that we have spent countless hours with. Caleb LOVES playing living room baseball and this set has served us well.

Pixar Cars Mac Truck & Lightening McQueen

My husband came home with this gift from work, and my three-year-old cannot stop playing with it. He hasn’t even used the color change feature yet, he just LOVES putting Lightening McQueen inside Mac and the detachable containers, driving them around, and finding many ways to use his imagination.

{Mama Journal} 2017 Advent/Countdown

DSC_6630I tend to be all-or-nothing. I’m also a procrastinator and a dreamer. So every year when December rolls around, I think something along the lines of, Oh no! I wanted to do something special for Advent and now it’s too late! I’ll try again next year. 

But this year, I realized if I continued in that pattern, I may never do anything special for Advent! So today, on December 3, I made a paper chain with 19 links. We are moving to Washington on December 21, so the paper chain will serve as an Advent celebration and a moving countdown all at the same time. It is imperfect and unconventional and I am really excited about it. :)

This was the easiest thing ever, from a crafting perspective, which is certainly a must for me. I took three festive scrapbooking paper patterns and cut them into 1-inch wide rectangular links using a paper cutter. On the back (blank white side) of each one, I wrote the date, a simple activity, and the reference to a passage of Scripture.

Andrew kindly came up with the 19 passages for me. I am planning to read them to Caleb and discuss them together when we cut the link each morning.


For the activities, I kept it incredibly simple. I actually got out my calendar and for many of the links, I just wrote down the plans we already had scheduled for those days. Other activities included reading Christmas books (something we do nearly every day anyway), drinking hot cocoa, and watching a Christmas movie. I am going to be really relaxed about following the activities, too. No need to add stress or pressure to this season!

I am excited about this “Advent celebration” because the Scripture will direct our hearts to why and Who we are celebrating, and the activities will give us a fun way to incorporate the festiveness we love about Christmastime.

We’ll see how this goes, but I hope it helps us create some special memories together and quiets my heart to meditate on Jesus and His coming in the midst of a busy month.

Merry Christmas!


{Mama Journal} Our Day at Disneyland

In October, my grandma sent me $100 for my birthday and I immediately knew what I wanted to do with it: take Caleb to Disneyland! Kiddos are free up until age three, so I had about a month to squeeze in the visit! I originally arranged for someone to watch Eli, but in the end, both Caleb and I decided we would rather take him with us, and I am SO glad we did! I LOVVVE Disneyland (who doesn’t? Oh yeah…Andrew haha) so it was just SO sweet to get to enjoy it with my little ones.

We parked in the Toy Story lot because I didn’t want to wait in the elevator line in the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure. We arrived in the park around 9:30 AM. Here’s what I took with us:

  • Double stroller
  • Diaper bag
    • Plenty of diapers & wipes
    • A change of clothes for both boys
    • Their sweatshirts
    • Wallet, keys, & phone
  • Lunch and snacks
  • Water

We visited on a Thursday in November, and although the park was decorated for Christmas, it turned out to be the day before their holiday parade started. I think this made the crowds a little smaller, which was fine by me. We rode:

  • Story Book Canal Boats
  • Circus Train
  • Disneyland Railroad
  • Astro Blasters
  • Monorail
  • Dumbo
  • Pinocchio’s Daring Adventure (too scary!)
  • Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

There are a good number of others we could have done as well, but lines were long or they didn’t appeal to us. (I’m looking at you, Mad Tea Party.) It’s a Small World was closed! :(

Online, everything I read said that you couldn’t do three people in one Astro Blaster, but they allowed us to since Caleb and Eli are both small! We rode twice on that and Dumbo, as they were Caleb’s favorites. :)

We also met Mickey, Tigger, Eoyore, and Winnie the Pooh, saw the bird show in the Enchanted Tiki Room, and played in Goofy’s Playhouse twice. I felt like we hit a great number of attractions considering we had to work around Eli’s naps and feedings, and maneuver a double stroller.

Make sure your baby, no matter how young, is wearing either socks or shoes for ALL the outdoor rides! I was relieved I had packed socks for Eli, not having known about this rule.

I would highly recommend using the Disneyland Railroad for transportation around the park! It’s a fun, efficient way to get around, and doubles as a ride. I was personally comfortable leaving our stroller at the station while we traveled around the park, but you can also fold it up and take it on the train with you. (I’ve also seen some moms suggest a stroller wheel lock [affiliate link].)

Take advantage of the Baby Center on Main Street! They have a low toilet for small kiddos, changing area, and places to nurse or warm up bottles.

All-in-all, it was one of my favorite days to-date with my boys. Based on our magical time, I would definitely recommend taking your kiddos while they’re still free–it’s worth the price of the adult ticket! We made the best memories, ones that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.

{Mama Reviews} Inglesina Table Chair


Andrew has been saying since Caleb began eating solid foods that he would love a “high chair” that clips onto the table so the baby can fully join us during meal times. I finally did some poking around this fall and found Inglesina, which looked like it would fit the bill perfectly. I was then, of course, thrilled when they agreed to send me one of their chairs in exchange for a blog post featuring this product!

I am truly so excited about this chair and so is Elijah, because really, what 11-month-old doesn’t want to be right in the middle of the mealtime action? We’re officially done with the chair-top booster we’ve been using for almost three years, which makes me pretty happy since it’s a bear to keep clean and takes up a lot more space than its replacement.

I’ve already tried the Inglesina chair with success and ease of installation on three different dining tables, and tested its easy transportability. I love that it folds up into a compact size. The chair feels stable and sturdy when installed, has a quality feel to it, and is comfortably padded. It includes adjustable straps to keep the little ones safely in place. The website states that it can be used for children ages 6-36 months and up to 37 pounds! Available in multiple colors, it can be used without the plastic tray, which pops on and off and is a breeze to clean. (The tray covers the arms of the chair, so I won’t be wiping sticky messes off of those!)

You can purchase this product along with the plastic tray here on Amazon (affiliate link) or directly from Inglesina’s website. Any specific questions, just leave me a comment! Based on my experience thus far, I’m giving this two big thumbs up!


Fantastic high chair alternative for babies and toddlers

{Mama Reviews} JORD Wooden Watches

I received a beautiful JORD watch in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.

There is something timeless about a beautiful watch. That pun wasn’t actually intended as I began this post, but it works nicely, I think. ;) Watches and the holidays always make me think of the classic story The Gift of the Magi. Remember Jim’s precious pocket watch, which he sells to purchase a set of fashionable combs for his bride’s long hair? As the story goes, she cuts her hair to purchase a gold chain for his beloved watch, and neither gift can be put to use. It is a sad yet sweet Christmas story. But, I digress…

If you’re in search of the perfect Christmas gift for someone special in your life, a new JORD wooden watch may fit the bill just right. These unique timepieces come beautifully packaged in a classy wooden box and can be ordered to size, or sized at a jeweler. If you are looking to add a special touch, you can even have custom engraving added to the watch!

There are many beautiful options for both men and women. I had a difficult time choosing my model, but eventually settled on the Frankie featured in this post. I absolutely love the dark wood and large mint face. If is comfortable on my wrist and kicks every outfit up a notch. I have worn it every day since it arrived. I’d love for you to use this link to get 25% off your purchase: https://www.woodwatches.com/g/ordinaryjoymama.


{Mama Reviews} Meal Time Gifts for Babies & Toddlers

We are 11 wonderful months in with our second child, so by now through a lot of trial and error, I’ve definitely formed some opinions on products for the little people. I thought I would share a few of our favorite meal-related items for children in the age range of 0-3. All of these would make great stocking stuffers or shower gifts. I am including Amazon affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you purchase my recommendations, but rest assured these are all items I truly use and love–and some of them are even on my own kids’ wish list because I need more! :)

Gerber Graduates Kiddy Cutlery 

41fO2k9I86LThese are the forks and spoons we use every day for Caleb, who just turned three. They are my favorite because the size and functionality is ideal for him (from about age two on) and they have held up perfectly through dozens and dozens of washes. They also look nice, and I appreciate that the handles are good for small fingers to grip but the tips are stainless steel, so the jump to adult utensils won’t be that big.

Munchkin Snack Traps

81kuZiLHiZL._SX522_These are absolute lifesavers. How did my mom raise us without them? I’m really not sure. We must have just gone hungry in the car. I taught Eli to use his around nine months and now he’s a pro at eleven months, but Caleb still uses one when we are out and about at age three. You can use them for puffs, crackers, apple slices, berries, you name it. No road trip of ours is complete without them!

EZ-Clean Silicone Bibs

51+Ulbry4cL._SX522_I use cloth bibs for certain foods, but for especially messy meals where I know a lot of chunks or liquid will be dropped, I always reach for these. There are a few different versions of this classic style of bib, but these are my favorite brand that I have tried because the silicone makes them so soft and flexible. But my very favorite feature is that I can throw them in the dishwasher!

Spasilk Wash Cloths

61ouxmygujl-_sx522_.jpgThese are the best washcloths for cleaning my boys after meals because I personally prefer no ribbing and no edge on cloths. These are just the right size and softness for wiping up grubby hands and faces.

Munchkin Miracle 360 Cups

61KAh7R2AhL._SX522_After seeing these around for awhile, I finally gave them a try. They immediately became my favorite cup for Caleb, and for Eli around ten months old. Because you can drink from any part of the entire lip, these are frustration-free for little ones as soon as they learn to tip them back and suck. They also make the transition to cups without lids really natural. They are easy to disassemble and clean and I love that they offer them with or without handles.

Lolaland Dishes

7801343285888m.jpegThese immediately became my favorite plates and bowls for Caleb when I tried them a couple of months ago. They stack wonderfully, making them space-efficient, and hold up great in the dishwasher.


There you have it! My favorite meal-time gadgets for the little ones. I hope that some of these ideas can help make feeding your children a little bit more enjoyable. :) Happy eating!