By: Jennifer Murray

The Next American Ninja Warrior: Spider Jump

The boys were recently introduced to American Ninja Warrior, and of course were instantly hooked. It’s right up their alley with their climbing,  jumping, and anything daring obsessions. I’m telling you, these boys do the monkey bars until their hands blister {badly} and then go right back again.

Their favorite part of watching the show is reenacting the challenges either creatively inside or at the backyard play set. {Knock on wood, no ER visits yet!} In fact a lot of the time, they can’t get through an entire episode, because they can’t wait to try out a new challenge. And yes, I remind them daily that their mom is exceptionally kind for letting them climb on the stair banisters and jump off couches. It’s worth the trade of them getting out boy energy and keeping my sanity over having nice {breakable} things in our home. Our home is lived in and loved on, and that’s how we’ll take it for now.


Recently Brooks tried scaling the door frame again and realized he could make it all the way to the ceiling. Challenge accepted. I’m pleased to announce that the “Spider Jump” has been completed by all four future contestants.I don’t even hold my breath anymore when they jump from the top of “Level 2″ doorway, because I’m becoming a seasoned Boy Mom. They even wipe off their footprints from the well, like true Ninja Gentlemen.


And now you have a better understanding why my weekly groceries disappear out of plain sight. Protein donations now accepted. Drop them by and try out the Spider Jump.


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By: Jennifer Murray

Why We Aren’t Playing Minecraft This Summer…


We’re one of the few families left on the planet without Minecraft on our mobile devices. I’m sure it’s great, and creative, and entertaining.  I have nothing against the phenomena, and I’m certainly not here to slam those who have downloaded it for their kids.

So why not? 


Because I know it would cause us to miss days like these – days with our toes in the lake, exploring a new trail, enjoying the view from the top of the hill, trying to catch minnows, rock throwing contests, and blue skies.

In our family we’ve found that iPad games while entertaining and educational can cause discontentment in our home. There’s always a pursuit for more – the way it sucks you in for longer than originally planned, the never-ending format, and the need for the next level. I’ve found my boys do better with short games that can be played in 15 minute intervals – because by the time it makes it turn with everyone an hour has passed, and that’s often their screen-time limit.

As much as I LOVE the distraction and the quiet it brings, the aftermath isn’t worth it to me.  The transition after an extended iPad time often washes out the advantage of the entertainment. No one really walks away from playing the iPad for an hour feeling energized and cheerful. Even the boys have noticed that their moods are effected after they’ve been on the iPad or watching TV.

It’s a lot like consumerism that we experience in the month of December – a craving for something for more, and a feeling like what they already have isn’t enough. However the toy that looked so great on the commercial really didn’t give the happiness that they thought would be a sure guarantee.

The reality is, we need more reality.


Summers are meant to be made outdoors. The soundtrack of summer is the backdoor opening and shutting, splashing at the pool, cheers for a game of backyard baseball, the sprinkler squeals, and the sound of bike tires on the sidewalk.

There will be summer days when we’ll spend some downtime playing a game on the iPad, watching an episode on Amazon, or heading to a dollar movie, but we won’t look back on this summer – one of the 10 they have left – wishing we would have spent more of it glued to a screen.

Instead, I hope they have fond memories that look something like this…



Don’t forget if you’re looking for more ways to entertain your kids this summer – there’s a great ebook with 50 outdoor adventures that I happen to highly recommend! ;)

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By: Jennifer Murray

Prioritizing the Priorities


What’s that sound?  Listen – do you hear it?  {QUIET} 

It’s a rare sound around these parts, but this week the boys are spending time with Brad’s parents at Bible school (Bless You, Grandparents and VBS volunteers!), and we are getting a nice dose of quiet.

We’re taking this time to work uninterrupted, catch up on a few house things, purge some toys (shhhhhhh!!), eat some grown-up food, and REST, but we also wanted to have some time to chat about how we can make our home run even better.

I have been super inspired by Crystal Paine’s book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. And it’s challenged us to re-evaluate our priorities.

How can we manage our time better?  What things are taking our energy?  What isn’t getting done?  Where are we failing miserably? What are we getting right? 

Yesterday, wrote out all of the things on our plates and our weekly commitments by category.  I had a page, Brad had a page, and then we had a together page.

It was so nice to see everything in written form, listed out, and organized.  Was it a tad overwhelming to see it all and wonder how to make it all work?  Sure, but much better seen than thrown together without a plan.

I don’t want to look back on our lives and just see BUSY. 


I want our lives to be intentional, meaningful, and with purpose. 

After we listed and categorized our commitments, we took a good look at what we could possibly cut out, what was being neglected, and committing time specifically to each task.

Next we set goals we need to accomplish from our re-prioritizing.


  • Schedule a monthly date night.  (We know this is something that’s not only good for our sanity, it’s needed for our marriage, but we’ve neglected it in the busyness lately.)
  • Exercise 3x a week. (We have to plan to exercise or it’s not going to happen.)
  • Have a quiet time daily and hold each other accountable. 
  • Meal plan and grocery shop on Wednesdays. (I find myself stressed out most when our fridge is bare and I don’t have a plan for dinner.) 
  • Set a time each week to pay bills, budget and go over finances.


I cannot tell you how great it feels to prioritize the priorities again, and reevaluate how we are running our home. I think it will make a huge impact on our productivity, self-discipline, and peacefulness in our home.

Now back to some housework catch up and maybe even a couple of chapters of my book before the munchkins return!

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