Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Blogging through the Alphabet {Aging, Adorable and Audible}

Ben and Me

Today, I was invited to join in, and link up with, and ABC's blog link up. I thought it was a great way to inspire me every week, and give me a theme to blog around, so here we go!

Today, we have been celebrating 2 birthdays in our home. Elijah was born on his Daddy's birthday, 4 years ago. FOUR whole years. It really doesn't seem like that long ago, that I was about to have my VBAC. I was determined to not have another c-section (Abi had been an emergency, so theoretically they was no reason why it would happen automatically), and had researched all I could to have a better labouring experience. The Lord answered prayer, and I went into labour naturally, on Robert's birthday, and we realised that, as we had joked about (he was due 5 days before), that he would be born as a Birthday present for his Daddy! The labour was my best I had experienced. It all went smoothly, I coped without pain relief until near the very end, and I delivered with very little pushing and felt amazing straight away! I was handed Elijah, and immediately felt "with it" enough to look at him, and enjoy the moment. I even cut the cord myself, for the first time! That was the birth that made me realise that giving birth didn't have to be long, drawn out, and with endless hours of pushing. It was lovely!

Now, he's 4. I've had 2 more normal deliveries since, including my first home birth last November. Time flies.

My handsome, cute, 4-year old! Oh, with a minion...

Robert was 38 today. 2 years away from FORTY! How did we start getting this OLD??? I remember, as a child, people being 40, and me thinking they were ANCIENT! Yup - that's US now! YIKES!


It happens to us all, from the moment of birth. We often think of "aging" as OLD age - what happens as you start to look OLD. Aging, in fact, is what we are ALL doing, every single day. You can't halt it, stop it, or even truly delay it.  You can try to cover it, slow it down, or pretend it's not happening, but it is.

The Bible talks to us about our life.  It's like a vapour that appears and vanishes.  It's like a tale that is told.  It's like the grass that withers and perishes.

As I watch my children grow up so quickly, and Robert and I aging, I realise afresh at the brevity of life. I hear of a family, devastated by the tornadoes in the USA, and I realise the brevity of life. We all age, but our life can be cut short in a moment. I need to live it to God's glory, as if each day could be my last, and appreciate all God has given me.


I can't not mention my precious little ones. The things they do, the things they say, the little looks they give.  They are simply....


I know, I know, I am their MUM.  I have to think they are adorable.  Really, though, they ARE!

Simeon's latest?

To say the funniest little words, and two word phrases.

The one I love most - "COOL"!!

He sees something he likes and he says "cool!". It REALLY makes me chuckle!

(His first ever Duplo creation!)

(such a cheeky smile!)

He says something new every day, and we all smile and laugh about it.  All the family share in the pleasure it brings, to hear him express himself verbally.  Totally adorable.

(Simeon wanting to hold Tabitha's hand - ADORABLE!)

Then, there's this little treasure.

(She fell asleep in her Jumparoo, when she had a raised temperature on Sunday. Poor wee soul!)


She smiles, she laughs, she giggles (yes, there's a difference!), she bounces in her Jumparoo, she eats her feet, she watches her siblings with amusement and joy, she loves cuddles.


All of them have adorable moments, but I think it's a word particularly suited to the very young.


Then, my moment of peace, joy and huge enjoyment today.  After a busy morning, making a birthday cake for the boys...

 I finally got some "free" moments, later in the afternoon.  I had just been to put some recycling in the outside bin, and realised it was really lovely out there - warm, and still. So, I grabbed my iPod, and headphones, and headed out into the garden.  Robert recently put a swing in the tree, and I LOVE swinging.

 Honestly, I asked for that swing to be put up for the children...AHERM.... I stuck my headphones in my ears, and tapped on my new app I discovered last week....

my Audible app.

I can now access all my Audible purchases, without having to sync my iPod with my computer, or remember how to transfer my purchases from Audible, into my iTunes file. Tap a button, and there they are! BLISS! It was lovely to sit and listen to a story, and swing on the swing. Peace and quiet. For, erm, about 10 minutes, until Simeon appeared... and sat swinging with me. The little joys in life!

There you have my "A's" for this week.

Join me next week for "B" - what will they B??

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Tots on a Tuesday {Duplo Activities}

I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the activities that I do with my pre-schoolers, with you. Some of these may be things you do already, but maybe they are things you haven't thought about, and may be of use.  In the hope that the second thing is true of at least some, I will share!

I have quite a few different suggestions for playing with Duplo, so here goes!

The first, and most obvious thing, is building - which, of course, is what they are designed for.  Children can have a lot of fun simply building towers, or buildings. However, with the introduction of various sets, and themes, there are even more building possibilities.

Copying Duplo designs

One thing that I have found, just recently, is a fab  idea for getting a child to follow a picture instruction.  You build a Duplo creation, take a photo, print (and laminate if you want it to survive more than 60 5 seconds), then give it to the child.  Alternatively, do what we do, and have the images on your iPad, and open them up when you need it! They can then re-create what is in the picture, by looking at it and copying it! You can even get your child involved in some early photography, by getting them to make their own creations, and go through the same process. I will share some of the pictures we have taken, but you really need to do your own, as it will correspond with whatever bricks you actually have.


This is one of the most obvious things you can do with Lego, which is also educational. Nowadays, the possibilities are even more endless that the "Old days"! Not only do you have the primary colours, and the obvious secondary, but you have more shades of them all, too. Not to mention white, black and brown thrown in for good measure. Then, you have all the different shapes, including weird and wonderful ones!

 Firstly you could get them to just sort by colour. Then, you could also divide the colours up into shapes.  You could sort just by shape, too.


There is a lovely set available, which actually has the numbers 1-10 printed on the side, along with a train. We have that set, which makes counting more visual, but you could do it with any Duplo bricks.

You could also print numbers, and stick them with sticky tape to the side of some bricks, as it would come back off really easily.

I incorporated colour AND counting, and got them to do the right number and colour to match my number bricks.

Abi and Elijah working together.

Elijah, with his work of art! We didn't have enough of the colours for 9 and 10, so we made them multi-coloured!

You can also find printables, online, to use for sorting and counting.  I came across this one on The Measured Mom, which is ideal for my two little boys.  You print off the numbers, one to twenty, and then the truck. You put the number in which you want them to count up to, then they put the bricks in the dump truck! It's great fun, and they can build them up in the back of the truck.  I am sure there are more "girlie" options available, but this suits us for just now.

Maths Manipulatives

You can always use your Duplo bricks for doing basic sums - adding, taking away, or solving for the unknown. It's just a way to do your work, but making it fun at the same time.


There are many ways you can do patterns, but the most obvious ones are these.

1. Copying a pattern

For this, I make a pattern and they have just to make the same pattern underneath.  You can also do it by making activity cards, with the pattern already shown for them, or with the iPad, like I do. As you can see, you can change the direction of the bricks, to make it simpler or more complicated.

2  Completing a pattern

For this one, you have a pattern begun, and then they carry on, repeating it in a long line.

3.Tower patterns

 This is when they join all the bricks together, to make a pattern.  Then it can be repeated, building an ever bigger tower. This one is lots of fun, because then it can be knocked down - always a bonus for small person!

There you have it - some ideas about how to make Duplo an educational, but still so much fun, activity.  This is the joy of learning at home - it doesn't have to be dull and boring for learning to happen.

If you have any blog posts about Duplo activities you can share, please either link up, or comment below with links you have found. You can grab the button for "Tots on a Tuesday" below.

<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="TheJoyfulKeeper" width="125" height="125" /></a>

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Don't let Satan get an advantage {fighting ignorance}

I am loving how the Lord is using my husband's sermons to speak to my heart about issues that relate to women and the home. Loving that He not only speaks to my heart, and the heart of those in the congregation, but that I can share it on here, too.

Today's sermon was pretty hard-hitting, and oh so important.  This is the verse he preached about...

"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices." 
II Corinthians 2:11

I know that I don't like anyone taking advantage of me. Being used, in an underhanded way, to benefit others and negatively affect me.   You often see warnings on the internet, or TV shows, telling you how you need to look out for scammers and tricksters, and what you need to be aware of in order to not let them take advantage of you.

If we need to be careful about people taking advantage, how much more vigilant we need to be about SATAN taking advantage of us.  We can NOT be ignorant of his devices. Our lives are too important, and our hearts should so desire to honour God, that we cannot let the devil get in.

You know, that's what the devil wants to do in our homes.

He wants to start off in our lives, on a personal level. He wants to tempt us and try us in our physical appetites, spiritual attitudes and our earthly ambitions (husband's outline, not mine!). He finds out our weaknesses, and he seeks to get in and use them against us.  If that's what he's trying to do, we need to make sure WE know our own weaknesses.  We need to take a long, honest, hard look at our lives, and identify where we are weak, in order to fight against his attacks.  Do we struggle with gluttony, pride, selfishness, a bad temper, sinful habits, impatience, unkindness, lack of love?  We need to read God's Word, seeking His teaching and truths about our lives, then plead with Him to open our eyes and hearts to identify where we are struggling. If we know, we can be armed, ready to fight off Satan's attacks, with prayer and scripture, and God's strength enabling us to win the battle.

On a personal level, we need to remember that Satan came and tempted Jesus - God himself. He used scripture - God's own words - to try and tempt to sin.  Satan will come along like that in our lives - try and turn us away from faith and trust, and tempt us to sin, instead.  Trust God's Word. Don't doubt it's truth, and God's ability to be faithful and true.

Don't be ignorant of his devices.

Single ladies (yes, I know you're reading this...) - he wants you to think that being single is a desperate state, and finding a man is all you need to complete yourself.  He'll tell you that once you meet someone, you don't need to be fussy, and so long as there is a glimmer of spirituality, that's worth pursuing.  He'll tell you that if you see imperfections, you will be able to sort them out after you're married, with a bit of nagging and persuasion. He'll tell you that pushing boundaries in your physical relationship, before you're married, is ok, because, well, you are getting married at some point, right? He'll tell you that you don't need to see eye to eye on primary issues, because you'll work him round to your perspective, or else it will work out by compromising, or something, surely?...

Don't be ignorant of his devices.  Seek God first, and His righteousness. Be complete in HIM.  Make sure you have unity established before you even pursue a friendship, or there will be a hard, rocky road ahead, fraught with problems, once you marry. Set boundaries to avoid temptations of the devil.

He wants, more than so many other things, to destroy our marriages.

Oh, sweet sisters, don't be ignorant of his devices.

He whispers things to us, oh so subtly.

"You don't have to put up with your husband's behaviour - you deserve more than that - you need to leave him"

"You're not to blame - look for HIS faults, not your own - it's up to him to sort out the problems in your marriage, and you're not to blame at all"

"It's OK not to submit to your husband.  Submission is old-fashioned and you don't have to follow every rule in the Bible. Do your own thing, you don't have to do what HE says... you'll be happier if you please yourself"

"You can be out living like a single woman after you are married - two shall be one? - nonsense, you can still be your own person and carry on as you always did - it won't do any harm - he needs to let you have your way, or you'll be miserable"

"You don't have to change if he doesn't - wait for him to change, and then you can start worrying about your own life, otherwise it's not fair"

Don't be ignorant to his devices. Don't listen to his sly, destructive suggestions. Know what God's Word teaches you about marriage - don't doubt its truth - take God at His Word, and obey.

He wants to destroy our families.

He'll tell you that that what the world teaches is more important than what the Bible teaches about training our children.

He'll tell you that children know better than their parents, and you need to pander to their every whim.

He'll tell you that being their friend matters more than being their parent.

He'll tell you that so long as they're happy, you'll be happy.

He'll tell you that giving them everything you can, materially, matters more than anything else.

He'll tell you that it's better to make the easy choices, than the hard choices, so you don't look too "different".

Don't be ignorant to his devices.  Strive to seek God's wisdom as you raise your family, and make choices about their upbringing. Makes choices based on scripture, not the world's wisdom. Have an eternal perspective, not an earthly one.

Every day, every moment, don't be ignorant of his devices. Put your armour on. Stand firm. Have a walk that's so close to God, that Satan can't squirm his way in between. Keep your eyes lifted high, and off yourself.

Don't let Satan get the advantage.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

A lesson on making the best of things {self control - controlling myself}

I went to collect and eBay purchase the other day, and it went horribly wrong. An address not known by the SatNav (GPS), or on google maps. Got there 10 minutes after I arranged, and no-one was home.

I was very frustrated and disappointed. I had gone a long way, with 8 children, taking time out of a school day.

I was about to get really annoyed, and starting to boil up inside, when I stopped myself.

I was about to let a stranger dictate how the rest of my day was going to go down, and I was NOT going let that happen.

That was when I realised I was not far from a friend's house - a friend I had not seen for months, and I was missing. I rang her (which was a minor miracle, as my mobile, which hadn't been charging, HAD charged before I left, so I had her number!!), and she was in, and available for a visit!

My day turned around in a moment. I had a lovely time visiting, and it refreshed my heart. The children had fun (a family who are child-friendly, with toys, and games, and a helpful adult son...), and my soul was blessed, chatting with a like-minded friend.

It's so easy, in life, to be negatively affected when things don't go the way you planned or hoped.

Husbands can throw unexpected plans in our direction.

Children can do things that upset our nicely made plans.

Friends. Family. Colleagues. Totally random strangers.

They can all "upset the apple cart".

Most of the time, it's things that are outside of our control. We haven't MADE these changes - orchestrated or planned them.

It's what we DO with them, that we are in control of.

I simply REFUSED to let someone else spoil my day, and I was going to make the best of it.

I WAS in control of my own emotions, reactions and choices after the "wasted" journey.

God's Word tells us that we are to have self control.  Allowing myself to get upset, frustrated and annoyed, when something happened out of my control, would have been a lack of self control on MY part. The key is in the "control" part of that definition. We need to stay in control of our emotions and reactions, when things go wrong.

Trust me, I don't always.

Not nearly always at all.

In fact, how I responded the other day was quite momentous for me, and a huge step forward.

Life is so short, and I don't want to look back and regret that I didn't handle situations with the grace and wisdom that God expects of me.  I want to be a good example to my children, and teach them that we need to have self control, and be the masters of our own reactions and emotions.  Not to allow the behaviour of others to affect how we behave.

So, the next time something throws your plans off, control your "self", and make new plans.

I am certainly going to try and implement it in my own life, on the many occasions it happens, by God's grace.

Ultimate Homemaking Bundle Winners {drum roll...}

(This post contains affiliate links)

I can now announce the two winners of the give-away, each lady winning one set of The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle.

Drum roll, pleassssssssssssssssssssssse.....

The two numbers generated, at were..

Off I toddled back to Rafflecopter, to see who that was, and....

Congratulations to Debbie and Anna!

I so love - it saves making little pieces of paper with names on them, and drawing them out of a hat! 

You will receive your prize soon, and I believe you will get an email with the information about the prize and how to download it. I trust the bundle will be a blessing to you.

For those of you who didn't win, please don't miss out on this wonderful eBook bundle.  It's packed with wonderful titles, which you will find really useful, and a great blessing.

Head on over to The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle site, to learn more about the books available. 

If you want to go ahead and purchase the Kindle bundle, click the link below.

For the PDF bundle, head over via the following link.

There is also the option, when you get to the checkout, to bless 2 of your friends, on a GREAT 2 for 1 offer. Not only do you get the 2 for 1, but it's CHEAPER than the price you pay for your own! BARGAIN! A blessing, in the form of a bargain for you? More blessed to give, is what *I* say! Do you know someone who is just starting out on the journey of motherhood or home education? Perhaps someone you know has a birthday, or is struggling spiritually and would be blessed to have this as a gift?  Go ahead, make their day!

Remember, this offer ends on Monday, and this bundle is a one-time offer, not to be repeated again!

If you still need some convincing, by looking at what's included, click on the image above, and it will bring you to the details of the books included.

I can't wait to start looking at my books!

Oh, and I must point out, if you buy the Kindle version, it includes the entire set ALSO on PDF, so you can still print out anything that is in printable format.  That makes it an even bigger bargain, for just a few pounds more.

What are you waiting for? Go, buy, and don't forget to tell your friends and family about it, too.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Win a set of The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle {ONE DAY ONLY!}

I have decided, because it's good to share the love, that I am going to give away not one, but TWO sets, of The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, in Kindle format! (this means you get Kindle AND PDF to use - double bonus!!)

That's right, two of you ladies are in with a chance of winning one of these sets!

Who doesn't like to get something for nothing??

The give-away is simple, and there are just two, easy ways to get entries. You can comment on this post, and you can "like" The Joyful Keeper's page on Facebook. Simple!

Let's just remind ourselves why this Bundle is such a great thing to bag.

ALL these fantastic books to read and use, as well as some bonus extras!

It's simply one of the best book bundles you will find this year, and the set is only available for a few days.

So, to be in with your chance of winning a set, just enter in the giveaway below.  Don't forget to tell your friends about the giveaway, so they can be in with a chance of winning, too. Sharing is caring!

One day only - it ends at midnight (BST) tomorrow! (So, yes, just over a day!..... ) And, don't forget that if you are not the winner, this deal is still an AMAZING price, that's worth spending your money on, anyway!

Head on over to The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle site, to read more about what's included.

If you're just too impatient to enter the give-away, and want to buy it now, you can still do so below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle! {getting your nest feathered}

(This post contains affiliate links)

I am so thrilled to share with you about this simply fantastic mega bundle of eBooks, available for a fantastic price, for only a matter of days.

It is such a joy when Christian women desire to bless others.  It's a blessing, alone, that they produced these resources in the first place.  It's an even greater blessing that they are willing to allow us to purchase them at such an UH-MAZ-ING price.

For only $29.97 for the PDF bundle, and $39.97 for the Kindle bundle (and, ohhhhhh yes, my fair, British maidens, that means it's a SNIP at around £18/£24!!) you will receive a positive treasure trove of ebooks and other resources. There are over 70 - YES, SEVENTY! - eBooks for that price. You do the maths - that's NOT many pennies per book!

 Which one of us is not looking for ways to improve in their role as a woman?  Whatever area of your life you can think of, it's covered here!  In fact, you don't even need to be in a situation to benefit or need ALL the items, to benefit from it.  Say you are a wife, but not a Mum, then there's still plenty for you. A mum, but you don't homeschool? You'll still benefit from this deal!

So, what's in this fabulous-o offer?

Well, here's just a sample of a few of the books on offer.

There's much, much more, but that's just a taster of what you will find.

If you head over to the Ultimate Bundle page, you will find the full list of what is available. There, you can also find an FAQ page, that should answer any queries you may have.

There are freebies included in this bundle, but not many of them will be of so much use this side of the Atlantic. Those, however, are just a BONUS! The books themselves are the real treasure.

So, what are you waiting for?? The clock's ticking, and with only 6 days to grab this bargain, you will want to head on over and get your own set, toot sweet!

To buy your fantastic bundle, just click on the appropriate link below, and you can snap it up.

What are you waiting for?

Go, buy!  And, don't forget to tell your friends to come on over here and see all about it, and buy it for themselves. Share the blessing.

I'm off to get mine now!