Love in Action: Dress Up Challenge

Love in Action: Dress Up ChallengeIf I were a betting gal, and I’m not, I would wager a fair sum of my children’s savings that, before you married your husband, you always tried to look your best when you knew he’d be around.  After several years of marriage, a few children, a dog, and a pile of laundry the size of a Chevy Express van, looking good for your man has most likely been bumped down a few pegs on the priority list.

I’m sure he’d like to see it bumped back up.

Let’s face it. Men are attracted to their wives physically. And that’s a good thing. I mean, seriously, I wouldn’t want my husband to be repulsed by me. But many women think men are shallow for wanting their women to look . . . well, womanly.

Love in Action: Dress Up ChallengeLet’s face another fact. We women are attracted to our men, too. You may like your husband to be clean cut and preppy or, as I prefer mine, looking manly and rugged. You are attracted to your man when he dresses a certain way, showers on occasion, brushes his teeth. You get the picture. Does that make us shallow?

Long, thoughtful pause.

Physical attraction between a husband and wife is a blessing. Now let’s stop talking about it and get down to business.

Love in Action Day 3

Today and for the rest of the Love in Action series, you have a very simple task.

Get dressed!

But there are rules to the dress up challenge.

Don’t act so surprised. You knew there would be.

Love in Action: Dress Up ChallengeFrump is strictly forbidden! And that includes bedtime.

Love in Action: Dress Up ChallengeIf your husband hates it, you may not wear it. You may burn it, bury it, or donate it, but you may not wear it.

Love in Action: Dress Up ChallengeTry not to wear the same thing every day. Shake things up a little.

Love in Action: Dress Up ChallengeDon’t wear his clothes…unless he wants you to.

Do your hair. I don’t care how. Just do something your husband likes. Brush it, braid it, twist it, clip it, spray it purple. Just don’t look like you crawled out of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. On second thought, skip the purple.

Love in Action: Dress Up ChallengeDo your face. Does your hero prefer a made-up face or a fresh-faced look?

Love in Action: Dress Up ChallengeDo what he likes.

Love in Action: Dress Up ChallengeSo often I overhear women discussing the unreasonable requests of their husbands. Almost without fail the discussions end with the woman having chosen to do as she wishes, regardless of her man’s wishes, and the other women cheering her on. Oh, how it breaks my heart! So your husband likes long hair and you want it short. Is your hair that much more important than your man? He doesn’t want you to wear lipstick, so he can kiss you without fretting over face paint. The ogre! He likes you in a skirt, but you’ll only wear jeans. Where does your hero rank?

Dress for him.

And wear that smile.

In a few days, the family will stop asking where you’re going.

What will be the hardest aspect for you about the Love in Action Dress Up Challenge?

Helpful Tool: Throw an apron on over your lovely outfit and whip up a healthy, but tasty treat for your man.  Smart Sweets, the smarter dessert ecookbook, is 35% off through February 15.  Just use the code VDAYYUM at checkout.

Buy Smart Sweets here.

Read my review here.

Love in Action: Dress Up Challenge

Original artwork credit: My daughter Marissa

Photo credit: The Simple Homemaker

Disclosure: The Smart Sweets link is my affiliate link.  I use Smart Sweets and like it.  ‘Nuf said.

Large Families: Making Time for Everyone

Having a lot of children may take a toll on the waistline, but not on the hearing. Sure, when someone small cries out from the bathroom, “I missed,” we moms of many pretend we can’t hear in hopes that Daddy will go handle potty patrol.  In reality, however, the more children a mama has, the more highly attuned her sense of hearing becomes.  Therefore, the comments people mutter when our large family parades by do not fall on deaf ears.  

Large Families: Making Time for Everyone

The first thing I usually hear from the parade watchers is, “She has seven children?! Wow, she looks amazing!”  (Okay, so maybe I am just a little bit deaf.)

What I actually hear outside of my fantasy realm is, “How does she find time for all those kids?”

Is there time for everyone in large families?

My friends, I have an answer for you, and it is a mere click away!  I wrote about busting the not-enough-time-for-everyone myth over at Purposeful Homemaking.  

If you think parents and children in a large family have it rough, go have a read. If you think parents and children in a large family (or any family where they are loved) have it great, go have a cookie…or three.

While you’re here, I will give you a little hint about spreading myself around as a mom of many: 

It doesn’t require a superhero cape…although I do have one in a stunning shade of red.  No, you may not borrow it.

Read the post at Purposeful Homemaking.

Linked up to Big Family Friday.

Love in Action: Smile

Remember that special smile your husband reserves just for you.  You know the one.  It’s the smile that makes you go weak in the knees.

Oh, that smile.

I’m sure you have a smile that makes him go weak in the knees as well.

Love in Action: Smile

Love in Action Day 2

Your love in action for today is simple, but powerful.


Look your husband in the eyes, connect, and smile.  Oh, and mean it.

It’s easy to get absorbed in the worries of life, the busyness, the tasks, the child with the leaky diaper sharing its burden with your last clean outfit, the three-year-old regifting her fifth consecutive meal to the overweight (but happy) dog.

Sometimes we forget that, as husband and wife, we are in this beautiful mess of an adventure called “life” together.

We can each make it easier for the other with the simple beauty of a smile.

You and your husband have a connection that neither of you shares with any other human being on earth. Savor it.  Reinforce it.  Renew that connection as often as you can.

Cement your togetherness with a smile.

Show your husband you are happy to see him when he wakes up in the morning.  Smile.  Show him you appreciate him when he comes home from work.  Smile.  Show him that he is more important than whatever he is interrupting.  Smile.  Catch his eye when he least expects it and, you guessed it, smile.

Love in Action: Smile

Look him in the eyes and smile the smile that makes him go weak in the knees.

Who knows.  Maybe he’ll smile back.

Oh, you’re going to love how this one makes you feel!

Share your thoughts on today’s Love in Action task!

Fun Tools: Preserve your smiles on a free 8×10 photo canvas from Canvas People.  Upload your favorite week-in-the-knees-smile photo and the Canvas People will send you a free 8×10 canvas (nearly a $50 value) for the price of shipping (our shipping fee was around $15).  Or get $35 off a larger canvas.  Preserve those romantic smiles in style!

Love in Action: Smile


Top photo credit: Troy B. Thompson

Linked to Weekend Whatever.

Love in Action: Stop Criticizing

Why is The Simple Homemaker hosting Love in Action?

Establishing a simple, peaceful home environment involves getting back to the basics: the basics of housekeeping, the basics of feeding your family, the basics of managing your time and money, the basics of family relationships.

Love in Action: Stop Criticizing

When you take away all the trappings and externals of a family–the house, education, careers, outside distractions–you are left with what? Dust bunnies, yes.  But something better.  People!

And those people need love. It’s a very basic human need. Denying it doesn’t change it.

That is why The Simple Homemaker is focusing the Love in Action series on the simplest and greatest thing we can do for our husbands and children: love them.

Love in Action: Stop Criticizing

Love in Action Day 1

Our first goal in showing love in simple ways is the only “thou shalt not” in the list.

Stop criticizing your spouse.

Today and for the rest of the Love in Action series, stop criticizing your husband.

Don’t criticize in any way. That means no nagging, belittling, huffing, eye rolling, “joking,” sarcasm, meaningful sighing, or treating your man, your hero, like a child.

That doesn’t mean you can’t disagree or lovingly discuss a matter, but don’t make it a personal attack.

No matter what!

When you want to criticize, replace it with gratitude.

Whatever the circumstances, find gratitude and kick the negativity in the backside.

And when this “game” is no longer fun, think how belittling, how demeaning, how indescribably unpleasant it is for a man to live with a negative, critical, nagging wife. I wouldn’t wish that on my son, nor on any other mother’s son. Would you?

Better to live in a desert
than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.

~Proverbs 21:19

Are you ready to stop criticizing your spouse?  Let’s encourage each other in the comment section below!

Love in Action The Power of a Praying Wife Stop CriticizingHelpful Tool: Instead of criticizing your spouse, pray for him.  Stormy Omartian’s book The Power of a Praying Wife offers a month’s worth of guidance for praying for your husband.  My favorite paraphrase from the book reads something akin to, “Lord, give my husband a new wife…and let it be me.”

There is also The Power of a Praying Husband if the two of you want to read together…but separately.

Read more reviews here.


Original artwork by my daughter Marissa.

Love in Action: Building Strong Families

Monday marks the beginning of a 14-post series entitled Love in Action. This series encourages all of us to express love through simple actions that will work toward building strong families.

Love in Action Series: Building Strong Families (

I first posted this series last February around Valentine’s Day.  It’s easy to show a little mush on Valentine’s Day, but the kind of love we’re building extends beyond a one-day holiday.  It’s the nitty-gritty, down-and-dirty, baby-puke-in-your-hair, morning-breath kind of love.  It needs work, nurturing, and effort…more than once a year.  It is for that reason that I have chosen to revisit the Love in Action series. (Plus I need a little kick in the pantaloons, myself.)

Love in Action: Building Strong Families Details

There will be 14 Love in Action tasks.

Love in Action: Building Strong FamiliesWe will focus the first half of Love in Action on loving actions toward our husbands (or wives, for my male readers).  The second set of Love in Action posts will focus on loving actions toward our children.

Now, please don’t do your loving action for the day and check it off your lifelong love list.  Practice each day’s tip from the day you read about it throughout the rest of the Love in Action weeks. I’m sure your family won’t complain if you make these loving actions a habit for life.  (I know. I’m a pest. I get that a lot.  A lot a lot!)


Don’t be. These are simple, common sense (but unfortunately not common practice) ways to express love. You may well be doing all of them already. Me? Well, let’s just say I’ll be actively participating in all Love in Action tasks.

A simple home is a home where love is a priority. Let’s put building strong families back where it belongs–at the top of the to-do list.

Love in Action Building Strong Families

Love in Action Series: Building Strong Families

For my spouse:

For my children:

And the closer, Love in Action: All Wrapped Up.

Will you join me for Love in Action: Building Strong Families?

Love in Action Building Strong FamiliesHelpful tool: I received Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages from someone who had alienated most of his children and three ex-wives, so I read it only out of an I’m-afraid-you’re-going-to-call-me-and-see-if-I-read-that-book-yet sense of a duty.

Wow!  The basic premise is that, essentially, if you parlez vous francais and your loved ones sprechen sie deutsche, you won’t understand each other, no matter how fervently you exclaim “Je t’aime!” or “Ich liebe dich!” Mr. Chapman does an excellent job of explaining the importance of learning how to say “I love you” in the language of our loved ones. Highly recommended!

Read more reviews here.

Amazon Prime members can read The Five Love Languages free on Kindle.

Disclaimer: I in no way accept any responsibility for damages incurred by my creative use of foreign languages.  If you’re confused, get a dictionary here or here. Yes, those are my affiliate links.  I earn a small commission on anything purchased through them, and I will not be using the money to travel to a foreign country to impress the locals with my mastery of foreign languages.

Linked to Better Mom Mondays,  Weekend Whatever, and Marriage and Mommyhood.

Simple Exercise Plan: 10,000 Steps Challenge

The good news: My jeans finally fit comfortably again.

The bad news: They’re maternity jeans and I’m not pregnant.*

I seriously need to get back into my old jeans, primarily because they have pockets I can stuff with chewed bubble gum, used tissues, rocks, and every other imaginable treasure my little explorers hand me.  Therefore, I need to kick up the exercise a bit…as in, start doing it.

So…what am I gonna do about it?

I’m glad you asked.

To help me on my journey, some of my daughters and I have joined J-La-Sta’s 10,000 Walking Steps Challenge as she describes at A Work in Progress.  It’s really quite simple.

You need some of these (in your own size)

Simple Exercise Plan

and one of these (the pedometer, not the cutie, although I highly recommend a few of those around the house)

Simple Exercise Plan

and you do this.

Simple Exercise Plan

That’s it!

What are the details of the challenge?

The challenge runs for twelve weeks beginning on January 8 (but jump in whenever you can). 

Track your steps daily and enter your day’s total in the online log found through A Work in Progress, or keep your own records for a personal challenge.

Your goal is to work up to a consistent average of 10,000 steps a day.

While there is a small prize involved, the ultimate prize is improving your fitness and activity levels…and fitting into jeans with pockets.

I love the low commitment involved in this simple exercise plan.  All you have to do is walk—anywhere, anytime, wearing anything (but preferably something).  Walking Miss Colic back and forth counts.  Taking my three-year-old to the bathroom counts, too!  Taking laps in the backyard counts.  Running away from the neighbor’s dog while screaming like a sissy totally counts…maybe even double.

How do you sign up?

J-La-Sta has set up a team challenge board to keep each other encouraged (or challenged, depending on your personality), which you can access through A Work in Progress.  Leave a comment on her post and follow the link.  She’ll add you to the team.

Don’t have a pedometer?

J-La-Sta uses this pedometer you can slip in your pocket or hang around your neck.  Some people have phone apps that turn their cellphones into pedometers.  My family uses the cheapies from Walmart and some freebies we’ve picked up over the years.  If you want to spend a bit more, you can find pedometers that do everything except microwave your leftovers.

Are you with me on my simple exercise plan?

*To be entirely fair to li’l ol’ me, my baby is only 6 weeks, two days, and one hour old, so maternity pants aren’t really taboo…are they?    

10 Constructive Toys for Constructive (and Destructive) Kids

There are toys, and then there are toys!  Toys! are really great toys for really great kids.  Because keeping the clutter down to a minimum is important at The Simple Home, we tend to limit ourselves to toys!

Constructive Toys - Duplos

For a toy to fall into the toys! category and thereby be TSHM-approved (That’s “The Simple Homemaker approved.”  Yup, I’ve got my own approval rating system.  Sweet, isn’t it?), it must:

  1. offer endless hours of constructive play.
  2. stimulate the imagination or other sometimes sleepy corners of the mind.
  3. be useful for more than one activity.  For example, while an electronic race track is totally cool and I love ‘em, all you can do is race, so it doesn’t fit the bill…even though I have one.
  4. not need batteries…ever! No plugs either. Or solar!
  5. offer quiet constructive play possibilities (as well as the loud destructive stuff) so they can play during read-alouds or other times when their quiet presence is required, but they do not need to be still.
  6. be fun for them to play alone.
  7. be fun for me (or siblings, Daddy, uncles, second cousins once removed) to join in, because sometimes little voices ask, “Mama, will you play with me?” and Mama always tries to say, “Of course!”
  8. fit into a tub for easy storage in the garage.

Check out these terrific constructive toys!

Top Ten Constructive Toys for Constructive (and Destructive) Kids...great ideas from a homeschooling mama of seven.

 My Top 10 Constructive Toys

Constructive Toys - MagneatosMagneatos: Magneatos are neato and my children l-o-v-e them!  They are giant plastic-encased metal balls and sticks with magnetic ends.  That’s it!  The rest is up to you…uh, your children, I mean, because they will naturally be the ones playing with them.  Ahem.  The manufacturer now makes curved Magneatos, which make this fantastic building toy even neato-er.  I want some!  I mean…the kids…you know.


Constructive Toys - MagnetixMagnetix: This small version of Magneatos is also neato.  It is, however, a serious choking hazard, as are many great toys for the older set.  Nevertheless, it offers unlimited (well, I suppose eventually there would be a limit) options for design and construction.



Constructive Toys - WedgitsWedgits: Ooooo, I get all giddy just thinking about Wedgits!  A set of Wedgits will provide you with numerous rhombus shapes as well as a few diamonds for constructing whatever you want.  Wedgits cards are also available, which is a fun way to improve a child’s observation and duplication skills.  There are many expansion kits, including Wedgits on Wheels, although the wheels are tricky for the younger set, so our Wedgits generally remain stationery…and are then bombed. Wedgits are seriously awesome.

Constructive Toys - Lincoln LogsLincoln Logs: Well, of course! This is the constructive toy of all constructive toys! Build, play, bomb, rebuild.  Lincoln Logs offer endless hours of fun!  And somehow, it always gets us talking about Abraham Lincoln, so that officially classifies them as educational.  Don’t settle for imitations; they don’t mesh well with the real thing.



Constructive Toys - Tinker ToysTinker Toys: Do you remember these sticks and wheels from when you were a child?  The vintage Tinker Toys were smaller and more durable than the current versions, making the new and old sets incompatible.  If you have your heart set on the Tinker Toys of your youth, search out some vintage Tinks from Ebay, garage sales, thrift stores, or  If you’re looking for a new set, keep in mind that the smaller sets stocked on some store shelves are pretty puny, so opt for the bigger sets available online.  While I find the modern version inferior to the oldies, my children still have fun with them.  We used to make the most awesome space rovers and then, when my grandparents weren’t looking, we would launch them from…oh, never mind.

Constructive Toys - LegosLegos: Oh boy!  Be still my heart!  I remember when a bucket of Legos meant a world of imagination.  Now, Lego tends more toward (expensive) sets, telling your children how and what to build.  If at all possible, find a new or garage sale version of a big ol’ bucket of mismatched Legos and let your child have at ‘em.  Later you can move on to the sets, if you like, which, in all honesty, my whole family thinks are totally fun…but we don’t confine ourselves to the directions.  Either way, Legos are awesome…during the day.  At night, the errant Lego you step on en route to the facility is totally lacking in awesomeness.  ( has a VIP program giving you points for purchasing from them, but I almost invariably find better deals elsewhere.)

Constructive Toys - DuplosDuplos: Legos on steroids.  I love Duplos.  They don’t hurt as much when you step on them, they are only a choking hazard for a very large and determined dog, and they offer hours of constructive play.  My children like them, too, both the bucket o’ blocks and the farm sets.



Constructive Toys - Building BlocksBlocks: A big bucket of plain old blocks is a miracle waiting to happen.  Add a little collection of cars or some people, and you’ve got a world.  If your children are still at the throwing-things-at-each-other’s-heads-is-funny stage, opt for soft blocks.  (You could also try making your own blocks; TSHM absolves herself of all responsibility if you cut off your fingers!)


Constructive Toys - QuadrillaQuadrilla: The point of this set of blocks, marbles, and ramps that your children assemble is to get the ball from point A at the top of the set-up to point B, probably the floor.  Sound easy?  Ha ha!  It requires logical thought and sometimes a bit of trial and error (or the instruction booklet). I highly recommend a Quadrilla set to the non-choking-hazard crowd with one stipulation—ignore the manufacturer’s age recommendations. It is absolutely wonderful for the older set, perhaps seven and up, but not necessarily the fours and fives. The littles will love it once it’s set up or enjoy playing with a few pieces, but will easily knock it over and will likely be unable to build the more fascinating set-ups on their own.  Some sets are designed for younglings.

Constructive ToysDirt: It’s free, it’s messy, it’s everything a normal, well-adjusted child is drawn to.  Just add water and you’ve got dirt’s close cousin, mud, which is a perfect constructive toy—nice and sticky!  With a few sticks and a hose, you’ve got an afternoon of fun they’ll remember forever!  Dirt can be packaged as a Christmas gift, but I recommend dehydrating mud before wrapping.  If you have a lack of dirt, clean less often, or buy some online.

What are your favorite constructive toys?

Coming soon: TSHM-approved Toys! for imaginative play.

TSHM-approved disclosure statement: Some of these links lead to Amazon.  You are not obligated to purchase through my Amazon links—how on earth would I enforce that anyway? If you do make a purchase after following these links, I will receive a small commission.  You may rest assured that I will not spend it on toys…okay, maybe some Wedgits.