Feast of St. Joan of Arc {Saint Picture Book Club}

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The Saint Picture Book Club saint for July is St. Joan of Arc. Her feast day is May 30. If you are unfamiliar with the virtual saint picture book club, each month I share a saint picture book to help you observe the liturgical year.

Joan of Arc Books Food and Craft Ideas

I’m not a crafty mom, but I do love to read-aloud and to make it easy, I try to share books easy to find on Amazon. If you have Amazon Prime, you actually still have time to get your copy before her feast day! If YOU are a crafty mom or are feeling a little more inspired this month, I have a few extra ideas for celebrating Saint Joan d’Arc!

St. Joan of Arc Children’s Books

Earlier this month, I briefly shared the featured selection Joan of Arc, but also wanted to share the other book I bought, The Story of Joan of Arc.

joan of arc cover 2

The Story of Joan of Arc

I had actually read the featured selection first because, I’ll be honest, I liked the pictures better :). At the end of Joan of Arc, the author included a bibliography. From what I can tell, she used much of the information from The Story Joan of Arc when she told her tale. So, if you want the book sourced from a Frenchman about a local hero, The Story of Joan of Arc, is the way to go!


I purchased the Dover Thrift Edition which includes the original illustrations. If you have younger children, this book might actually be better for you. There are two pictures (or one large one) with a lot of detail that can help keep a child engaged while you are reading the text.

The story is very well told. It is factual, yet personal and I like the urgent pace of the battle scenes and the slower pace where Joan communes with God. It also shares a high level overview of the trial and her death.

I am Not Afraid. I was Born for THis.

Joan of Arc

The Joan of Arc that I featured in my teaser post is a beautiful book illustrated in the style of the paintings of the day. The colors are very rich and vibrant and are beautiful to look at. The pages are thick & glossy, making this a book that will last a while. It is intended for an older child though. Perhaps 6-10. There is a LOT of text on the opposing page and may be better off as a page per sitting read-aloud for the younger crowd.

I’m not a student of the story of Joan of Arc, but Joan of Arc seems to be very factual, but not written in a textbook, just-the-facts-ma’am kind of way.


I do have a bit of a bone to pick with the detail of the trial, because they really made the Church look like a bunch of jerks. They were and corrected it 20 years later which she shared, but at 4 it might not be the time to explain that the church is made up of imperfect people, you know? It just had an unfriendly tone and I would skip portions of it for the younger readers.

My daughters, 4.5 & 7.5 did enjoy this book, though. Once they got into it, were no longer content to have it read in pieces. They insisted on finishing it. High praise from them indeed.

state of grace- st joan of arc

Food & Fun for Saint Joan of Arc

St. Joan of Arc was known as the maid of Orleáns and has a fairly large following in the city of New Orleans. As such, any French or N.O. fare could work. A few ideas that come to mind are:

  • Red beans & rice (and sausage because I honestly don’t do vegetarian)
  • Beignets (if you can find Cafe Du Monde mix, jump up & down!)
  • French picnic (French baguette, pastured butter, French cheeses, grapes)
  • Fondue
  • Flag cookies or cupcakes with a banner in them

For crafts, I found the following projects courtesy of Pinterest:

Or maybe some sort of fleur dis lis craft in whatever medium draws your fancy — embroidery, paper crafting, button pictures, painting, sewing, jewelry or even perler beads :).

What is your go to way to celebrate holidays? Craft, decorations, food, books, printables…

Jen S.

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4 Outdoor Games that Do Not Require Equipment

***This article originally appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Traverse Bay Family Magazine. It has been reprinted with permission.***


The days of kids playing in large neighborhood groups seem to be over and with them, games that can be played without prior planning and gear seem to be disappearing.

4 Gear-Free Games to Play Outside

I’ve found that there are always occasions where knowing these games are invaluable for keeping kids occupied and active — family reunions, graduation parties, barbeques, and more.  Here are 4 “lost” games that you can play and teach your kids when you have lots of space, but little “stuff.”


1. Come a Little Closer

Best played where there are many hiding places, whoever is IT closes their eyes & counts to twenty. Everyone else hides and IT yells out those who can see & where they are hiding. They are out. IT yells “come a little Closer,” closes his eyes & counts to 5, while everyone comes closer. The players can either find a closer spot or run for home. Game is over when everyone is caught or home free.

2. Stuck in the Mud

A variation of Tag, this version requires that you stand with your legs apart when tagged by IT. If someone crawls through the stuck players legs, they are free to rejoin the game. Play continues until everyone is frozen; last person frozen is the new IT.

3. Rabbits in the Warren

Two children stand and join hands in an arch. Everyone else marches around in a circle under the arches. Someone blows a whistle or yells and whoever is caught helps form another arch. The circle goes under all the arches. Each person caught forms more arches until everyone is caught.

4. Octopus Tag

This game requires a wide space to run and boundaries at either end. The players line up across one end. Whoever is IT yells “I am an octopus, full of black potion. See if you can cross my ocean!” Everyone runs from one boundary to the other. If the octopus tags you, you become a crab. One foot stays planted while you help IT tag the runs. The game continues until everyone has been tagged.



These are just a few of the fun games that can be played with a crowd of people of all ages with space to run and nothing else.

Do you have any favorite games that you love to play in a large group?

Jen S.

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The Single Greatest Way to Make Your Blog a Business in Less Time

Disclaimer:  This I received a discount for sharing this, but trust me, I would not be sharing it if I were not buying it.  It totally rocks that much.  If you decide to spring for it, I get a discount supporting my social media & blogging addiction. Thanks for your support!


Okay, so I consider myself a kind of a part-time blogger.  I want to make a little money from it (someday!), but not at the expense of my life.  I have three kids, work and homeschool.  That doesn’t leave me a ton of time.  I am (ever so) slowly working through Elite Blog Academy and just got back into planning the summer months when I ran across CoSchedule.

Go ahead, watch it.  I’ll wait.  Did you watch it?   Good.  Does CoSchedule not look like the most awesome thing ever?

coschedule social media schedule

I’ve been using it for about 10 days now and it not only solved my social media sharing problem (my reader and buffer are not playing nice so none of my posts have been shared anywhere for weeks…grrr), but allowed me to share the post the day of, the next day, a week later, a month later and even a year later in minutes.  I’d show you MY screenshots for these, but my stats are pretty lame and I don’t have a ton scheduled yet since it’s so new.


CoSchedule is super easy to use and literally took minutes to set up (maybe 20 — 5 per social media account).  Every blog post takes literally minutes to schedule sharing for the next MONTH.



You can even edit parts the blog post itself (or click to edit the WHOLE post) from the CoSchedule editorial calendar so you can SEE what you have scheduled and when.  I’ve been using a free plugin for this, but this one works just as well plus it has the added benefit of a drafts folder for unscheduled things you can just plug in.

coschedule top posts

And as a final awesome feature, it will show you your top posts.  But not the top posts in terms of traffic.  The top posts in terms of social media shares.  Your “viral” posts.  You can go in and schedule more to make your shared posts even more shared!

CoSchedule literally saving me SO MUCH time that it allows me to blog like a full-time blogger but keeps me very much at my part time work load.  That alone is worth every penny.  And I’ll probably be paying by the year because that saves me a bit more.

So if you are a blogger, too, and have an income or a little bit of $$ to spare, CoSchedule is the most awesome tool ever for WordPress and the first I have PAID to use.  It’s that good.   And if you click on my referral link, that helps discount my habit ;).

Are you a blogger?  Share your link in the comments so I can come visit!  I’ll even comment ;).

Jen S.

P.S. Part of my grown-up blogger fun is that I will be getting a new template up and running sometime in the next month or two.  It will be clean but girly.  So excited!



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5 Tips for Gardening With Kids

***This article originally appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Traverse Bay Family Magazine. It has been reprinted with permission.***


I’m not much of a gardener. All you will find in my yard are hostas, vinca and day lilies — all known for their ability to take abuse and/or neglect.

5 Tips for Gardening with Kids


That doesn’t stop me from gardening with my kids each year, though. Here are 5 tips for gardening with your kids, no matter what your ability.

1. Ignore your black thumb.

Even if you kill everything in sight, it’s still important for them to learn that even grown-ups can’t do everything and that failure is okay. Also, if you start seeds indoors, it’s fascinating to observe the seedlings that DO survive.

2. Embrace the space you have.

Even an apartment usually has a small deck or patio. You can grow a tomato in a pot, or one of those upside down hanging tomato planters. If your yard is well-manicured (or a wild animal habitat), set aside a small corner for experimentation.

3. Do what you know.

Everyone knows SOMETHING! Take some potatoes growing eyes already & plant it. Or an onion that’s old & sprouting.

4. Make them responsible.

For little kids, gardening can be a way to promote gentleness and respect for living things. (I.e. don’t pull the plant leaves off.). For older kids, it can be a good responsibility test for the pet they want. If they can’t remember to water to plant…well, they probably won’t remember to clean the turtle’s aquarium, either.

5. Let in the sun.

Most perennials, annuals, fruits and vegetables all require sun. Find a sunny spot. Very few yards have zero sun. If its not sunny all day, use planters you can move.


Instead of feeling pressure with having to grow food to preserve, instead plant to learn! Plant things at different depths, try different amounts of water and sun. See what happens. As Ms. Frizzle says, “Have fun. Get messy. Make mistakes!”

Are you a gardener or do you have a black thumb like me?

Jen S.

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S is for Smiling Sunrise {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

I am one of those mom’s who is all about multitasking.  Not necessarily doing multiple things at once, but doing ONE thing that has multiple benefits.  That’s why I LOVE reading!  It’s educational, conversational, family snuggle time.  S is for Smiling Sunrise is one of those books that we can all curl up with together and talk about.

smiling sunshine review

About WordsBright

WordsBright is an independent publisher whose goal is to create children’s books that are fun and educational, as well as working toward health and happiness.   S is for Smiling Sunrise is their first book.  In addition to the hardcover book, there are also several freebies you can get on their website — an MP3 of the Alphabet Song, which is the book set to music, a PreK parent printable, a K-3 Teacher printable guide and even a poster of one of the pages of the book.



How We Used S is for Smiling Sunrise

We added S is for Smiling Sunrise to my normal mommy book pile and read it several times a week.  My kids have a lot of leeway in what we read to them, but there are always books that *I* choose to read and I intersperse them in between their picks.  Sometimes they are review and sometimes they are not.  

We read it both with and without the MP3 playing, but they liked it better with the CD or being sung. In fact, I’m not allowed to NOT sing it now that they know the tune :).  If your kids are musical, this is great opportunity to incorporate some rhythm instruments to it.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I hear some rice shaker/maracas in the instrumental pauses between segments.

My ONLY trouble with it is that the MP3 is made to play/sing with the book, but I wish it had a page turn cue.  I grew up with the whole record/cassette tape and book thing :).  It would be handy to have.


If you have a preschooler or kindergartner in the house + older kids and do a letter of the week type thing, this would be a great alternative to reading the same alphabet books over and over and over again.

The illustrations are colorful and attractive and the subjects can lead to some great discussion with older kids. The text is easy to read aloud and has a good rhythm to it.



Check out what other members of the crew thought about S is for Smiling Sunrise!

Jen S.



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