Category Archives: {inspired}

25 Inexpensive Summer Activities for Kids

Summer is winding down, and I know many families are getting ready for a new school year. Maybe you’re even counting the days until you usher your little ones onto the bus? (No shame in that! We homeschool and even I am counting down the days. I love the structure of school days!) These last few weeks before the new school year begins can feel long. Usually by this time, I’ve used up all my summer fun ideas, so I took to Pinterest this week to find fun things for Ella and Sam. (Technically, it’s winter here in Kenya, but since we can still be outside everyday, it feels like a cool summer.)

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Today I’ve Decided to Become a Domestic Goddess

Ok, maybe goddess is a bit much, but seriously! I woke up this morning and decided I want to be a domestic … we need a better word … a domestic … Well, let’s be honest. Even if I said I want to be a domestic woman it would likely be an improvement on how I feel most days. Housework is not my forte. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy it. I do! When I can have a morning to pull out my rags and cleaners and make my house sparkle, I am so pleased.


evidence that I cleaned my house today

The problem arises simply because I just can’t stay on top of the mess! Moms of littles, can I get an amen? I adore my kids but they can pull apart a room so fast, they would surely medal if it was an Olympic event. Also, Sam has this thing that we are having the hardest time getting around. As soon as he’s finished with his plate, bowl, or cup, he whips it off the table. We sit nearby trying to stop such actions, but he is seriously so, so fast. And he doesn’t always do it in the same direction, so we attempt to predict where it will be rocketed. Sam typically wins this game. As a result, the floor and wall and radiator next to his seat are usually a sticky mess. Where can I get a disposable floor?

Then there’s laundry. Don’t even get me started. Or do, maybe, just so I can document how horrible I am at this never-ending task. Oh. My. Goodness. Why is it so hard to successfully complete a few loads from start to finish? I know why. Too many steps.

Step One: Gather all soiled clothing. Check under beds, in toy bins, and in all random nooks & crannies.

Step Two: Sort gathered clothing. Don’t mix whites with colors. And if at all possible, sort into strategic, themed piles. For example: kids’ clothes, towels, sheets, dress shirts, scrubs, etc. Makes folding easier. (If, in fact, we make it that far.)

Step Three: Begin the wash/dry cycle. If all loads are to be washed in a timely manner, be sure to set a timer. Without a timer, all hope is lost. One will inevitably get pulled into another task and completely forget about the wet clothes in the machine. This will most likely result in the need to run them through another wash cycle.

Step Four: Fold each load as it comes out of the dryer. Or, if small children are present, make a pile of clean clothes out of their reach and wait until nap time. If this is not done, every beautifully folded pile will be strewn across the room.

// Step Four A: This is often the place I get stuck. I realize I cannot devote time at that moment to folding, so the clean laundry stays in baskets where it is collected on a need-to-use basis. Each morning, dig through the necessary basket to find clean underwear, matching socks, and a wrinkled shirt. Note: This does require more time in the long run and is usually accompanied by the hurried stress of needing a piece of clothing that can’t quite be found in the piles and piles of (clean!) laundry. In the case of Step Four A, laundry will go from clean basket to being worn to dirty basket. Or, as is often the case in our house, the two piles will eventually collide and all clothing will need to be washed since we no longer know what is clean and what is dirty. //

Step Five: Put all clean, folded laundry away. Even in a house as small as ours, this is a task. Actually, maybe it’s such a task due to our lack of space to store our clothes. Pete and I share one small dresser and a foot-and-a-half of closet hanging space. (Not an exaggeration. You’re welcome to measure my closet.) If all of our clothes are clean at a single moment, it’s a bit like putting together a puzzle to get them all in the drawers together.


During Sam’s nap. Nice & tidy.

If ever there is a day I successfully complete all above steps in a timely fashion, I rejoice. REJOICE. And yes, I take pictures. I feel I must, just in case it never happens again. I need evidence that there was a time when I did actually finish all the laundry from start to finish. Because we all know what happens next. Someone comes in during the wee hours of the morning asking if their white dress shirt or polka dot leggings are clean and the entire process starts all over. Oh, laundry. You will be the end of me.

Still, on top of all the laundry shenanigans, I am committed to learning how to keep my house on the cleaner side. I want to live in a place where I hold no fear of someone dropping by unannounced and finding my house an utter disaster. On the other end of the scale, let it be known that I don’t feel the need to keep my house perfectly tidy at all times. One, I don’t have the energy for that. And two, that’s not real life, people. Friends, you are welcome any time. Just know that I may be closing some doors to hide a pile or two. When I do, just look the other way. I promise to do the same when I visit your home. 😉


I set the box by the door to take to small group. My mistake.

I am currently reading For the Love by Jen Hatmaker, which if full of all these amazing recipes and dinner ideas, and it makes me want to cook. Cleaning, cooking, and laundry. I’m totally going to do this. Watch out, Pete, you won’t even recognize this house when you get home tomorrow. Prepare yourself, for I am a domestic goddess. (well, something like that anyway)

Update: I just realized that, while writing this post, Sam has completely emptied my bedside table. I thought the door was closed and he was playing in his room. I was wrong.


Disclaimer: I recommend the book only because I’m so enjoying it. I have not been compensate for that thought in any way.


{inspired} Women of the Word

Ladies, this one is (mostly) for you. Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin.  Since ordering the book following a short, online class I took last fall with The Influence Network, my time in Scripture has been impacted in a pretty powerful way. I would love to have read this book 15 years ago (even though it was only actually written two years ago), but I’m so very thankful to have this wisdom now!


One of the main ideas in Women of the Word is clear through its tagline: How to study the Bible with both our hearts and our minds. As women it’s natural for us to focus a great deal on our emotions. That’s wonderful, since God did design us to love and feel beautifully and deeply. But he also designed us to use our minds to think critically. I have picked up scripture many, many times to simply find an answer to my issue-of-the-moment needs, merely wanting to walk away feeling better about myself. In those moments, the Bible became what I wanted and needed instead of what it truly is – the inspired Word of God. Yes, the Bible includes feel-good verses and inspiring texts, but on a much grander scale, it is telling the story of who God is. Women of the Word walks readers through how to get to that big picture view by digging into the reality of the Bible (the culture in which it was written, the audience, the author, etc) with our hearts and our minds.

Honestly, I kinda wish it wasn’t only geared toward women. There are certainly a few small moments where the writer, Jen Wilkin, speaks directly to women, but they aren’t all that numerous. Pete read it after I told him how inspiring it was for me, and he gave it a thumbs up. So read it for yourself and then pass it around!

Disclaimer: I have written this post only because I so enjoy this book and want to share it with you. I have not been compensated in any way for my thoughts or for this post.

Local Moms

If you live in the Duluth area and you’re a mama of kids in elementary school or younger, I would love for you to join us for a small group study throughout the summer every Tuesday morning 9:30-11:30. (Child care is available.) We just finished reading Women of the Word together and are getting ready to use what we learned to study the book of James beginning the first week of June. Leave a comment or send me a message for more information!

Photo Friday is a little glimpse at our week in pictures. To see more, follow @TheMangoMemoirs on Instagram!

Photo Friday


Side Braid Hair Tutorial

Hair Tutorial

Today I’ve got something completely new! Honestly, I laugh at the thought of me making a hair tutorial video, but hey, why not? I’ve had a lot of questions about how I do my hair, which has become my every day hair style. It’s super easy and, as I mention in the video, I usually end up doing it while sitting in the car before heading in to wherever it is we’re going. It’s quick and can be done on messy, wild hair. A perfect mom style!

Here it is, in one quick take. I’d love to hear if you try it!


Side Braid Hair Tutorial // Elsa Hair from The Mango Memoirs on Vimeo.



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