My Favorite Family Read Alouds {For Cold Winter Days!}

three boy read book indoors

We love to get lost in books around here. I’m always on the hunt for titles to read to my whole crew…and I mean my whole crew. With four kids spanning the ages of thirteen down to six, I have to keep hunting for books we can all chew on and sit still for. We love to cuddle up on couches, on the floor or under the covers with big cups of tea and a great story. It is really the sweetest moments we make together. As the cold weather gets colder, we need this time more and more.

If you’re looking for books to warm the hearts in your home too, here is my list of favorite Read- Alouds that children (and adults) of every age will find captivating!

1.  A Wrinkle in Time- I used to imagine myself into this family as a child. Meg and her brother Charles Wallace must search for their father through space and time in order to save him and the Universe from a deep blackness. This book awakens something new in my soul every single time I read it.

2.  Mrs. Piggle Wiggle- This sweet lady has a  very unorthodox (ahem) remedy for every childhood ill you may be facing in your home. If whining, not sharing, laziness or bickering ever pop up in your house, you may have found a new favorite too! It has been the best way I have found to address bad manners in our home and we never read it without a complete giggle fit.

3.  Little House on the Prairie- I become captivated by the daily life and immersion into a childhood on the prairie every time I read this book- and the recipes are amazing! This series always makes my children count their blessings, want to bake and imagine just a bit more.

4.  The Chronicles of Narnia- I  cry every time we read this series. It is an allegory to our faith and world view, but it is also literature that awakens the best of our character, our longing for valor and courage to be real in our lives and quite literally opened up a whole new, quite cherished, world to our family.

5.  The Railway Children- This was one of the most pleasant books I have ever shared with my children. Three siblings loose their father to a false-imprisionment and head to the English countryside to live a simpler life, finding a sheer love for the railway and all those connected to it in their vicinity… and end up solving a mystery too!

6.  The Mysterious Benedict Society- Four very gifted and out of the box children are called upon to rescue their town and become under-cover agents for the Mysterious Mr. Benedict. My children are captivated by the adventure in this story and I love the loyalty and comraderie of the characters.

7.  The Saturdays- Four siblings in turn of the 20th century New York City determine to pool their allowance and each take a Saturday to do what they have always dreamed of. Each chapter highlights a respective adventure that is beautifully woven into the whole of the story of this family. It is lovely!

8.  The Burgess Animal Book- Peter Rabbit discovers his neighbors and gives you a naturalist’s education as you read and truly get to know the characters of the forest well. My children ask for this one again and again and even with higher language use, my little ones are in love and learn so much!

9.  Mr. Popper’s Penguins- This was my favorite as a child and I was so thrilled to read it to my own children. They loved the story of Mr. Popper, the unkempt house painter, his special Antartic penguins, and all their shenanigans, just as much as I did.

10.  The  Trumpet of the Swan- This is the story of a boy and a swan and the latter’s migration and struggle to be reunited with his family, all the while he overcomes an inability to “talk” learning to play the trumpet. This book made us laugh and learn and soak in the seasons all at once.

11.  Understood Betsy- Betsy is a frail girl who is sent to live with relatives on a farm in the country. They gently spur her to independence with love, extraordinary faith in who she truly is, and by requiring more of her than she thinks is possible. She soon begins to find her own inner strength and fortitude and leads young readers to do the same.

Ok, now it’s your turn! What is one {or more!} of your favorite read alouds? My library basket is waiting!



I’m Saving Money on Household Items & You Can Too!!


Well… (as you know :)) when I try something I love I always HAVE to share it with y’all! Recently I was asked by ePantry to try out their service and share my experience with my readers! I already love online shopping and of course I love to get a deal so this seemed like the perfect fit for me! I went online, signed up and within a few days received my box of items. It was so simple, convenient and the best part???… I LOVE all of the products I received. A few of them I already use in my home, but even those products are offered at a discount through ePantry. My three very favorite products I ordered were the Meyer’s hand soap, dishwasher pods and the ePantry soy candle in pear (LOVED this candle!!).

Sooo….. What is ePantry???

ePantry is an online subscription site offering mostly all-natural household products (such as Mrs. Meyers), where you get to choose what you want.

ePantry was started by 3 friends in San Francisco and grew out of a simple realization: there are products/brands that we trust, love and want to use every day, but choose not to, based solely on convenience and what’s available to us at a given time.

ePantry Candles

 Here’s How It Works:

  1. Sign up for an account here.
  2. Answer some simple questions specific to your family.
  3. Choose items for your box — ePantry will make suggestions for you. You can accept them or not. Totally up to you!
  4. Once you reach at least $20 you’ll be able to check out. (Don’t miss the special deal for TBM below!!)
  5. In a few days, your box of goodies will arrive in the mail!

Just so you know–>>>  You can edit what’s in your box, pause your subscription, or cancel your subscription at any time.

The products they suggest are by no means the only products you can select, but more of a starting point. You can choose whichever products you like. We know that you consume different products at different rates, for example, a family of 5 doesn’t go through a bottle of glass cleaner at the same rate they do a 6 pack of paper towels and that’s reflected in the delivery schedule they recommend to you (I LOVE this feature!). So the quantities and suggested delivery months are only suggestions and are fully flexible around you. That way you have them when you need them. Super simple!

And…. ePantry is offering The Better Mom readers a deal!!!!

Spend just $20 and you get: $10 FREE Credit, FREE Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap, and FREE shipping on your first order. Just click below to get started! 



Ruth Schwenk


Disclosure: The links in this post are referral links. See full disclosure here.

The Ultimate Christian Living eBook Bundle {limited time & quantity!!}

{{{Friends! I am so so so excited to share this HUGE bundle of fabulous resources with you!  Because there are a lot of details below, I will spare you a long discourse of my own. Just know that I love sharing Ultimate Bundles with you because of the rich content that I pray will encourage you in your walk with God and your family. So… happy reading…and don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end (once you purchase your bundle!).}}}

Who among us doesn’t want to lead a life worth emulating?

With great kids, a loving marriage, a successful career or business and a closer, faith-filled walk with the Lord. But for many of us, making that a reality is big challenge!

Balancing life’s priorities can seem a bit overwhelming at times. The pressures of work, the need for finances, the demands of parenting and the resulting strain on marriage can leave us weathered, weary and wondering what really works in life?

That’s where the Ultimate Christian Living Bundle comes in. called in some best selling authors, leading experts and top business professionals to address the most common challenges faced by families and individuals today – all from a solid, Biblical foundation.

For the ridiculously low price of just $34.95 (for the PDF version) or $39.97 (for the eReader version), you can get access to a carefully curated collection of eBooks and eCourses with a total combined value of over $1,140 that addresses these issues with stunning clarity and practical application.

For the family…

The bundle contains 10 wonderful books focused on incredibly inventive ways you can craft the marriage you signed on for. To complement that subject, they added 8 more books focused on parenting and passing on your faith to your kids. That wouldn’t be complete without books just for kids so they also included 8 children’s books that parents can read with their children. To close out the content for family life, the highly praised Singing Bible MP3 version was added (a $25 value all by itself). It actually teaches children the story of the Bible not just random stories.

For your professional life…

You will find John Muratori and Michael Pink’s six -hour Christian Wealth Building course ($77 value) which was complemented with Bob Lotich’s 31-day devotional Managing Money God’s Way. There are a total of 14 business related books and courses including Zig Ziglar’s powerful Born To Win course (that Seth Godin and Dave Ramsey rave about), Dr. James B. Richards, Wired For Success – Programmed For Failure and Untold Secrets for Creating Wealth by Brig Hart and John Beehner. You’ll even find one of the best selling Christian business books of all time, The Bible Incorporated – In Your Life, Job & Business.

To ignite your faith…

Rounding out the package, Bridge Logos and Moody Press made a series of classic Christian literature available from generals of the faith like Charles Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, A.W. Pink, E.M. Bounds, Calvin, Wesley, Edwards and more who wrote about grace, prayer, faith and an overcoming life.

In addition to these wonderful classics, the Ultimate Bundles team snagged 12 heart-stirring devotionals from authors like A.W. Tozer and Nancy Leigh DeMoss that speak to matters of faith that are sure to inspire. Let’s not forget Gary Chapman’s Extraordinary Grace or Ray Comfort’s Way of the Master for sharing your faith with others. Both heartbreaking and inspiring, don’t miss Philip Cameron’s, They Call Me Dad, the story of one man’s fight to save orphans from human trafficking.

So as you can see, the Ultimate Christian Living Bundle is an extraordinary value.

But it still gets better…

The Ultimate Bundles team asked several sponsors to step up to the plate and with no strings attached, provide meaningful BONUS GIFTS. One of the first to step up was Dayspring Greeting Cards who offered a choice of heart-warming gift card packages to choose from.  Another, is a downloadable DVD workout series for getting in shape and maintaining health. With a retail value of $62.99 it includes a Biblical study guide for stewarding your health. Bonus gifts alone have a total retail value of over $160

So now you know…

For as little as $34.95 you can receive over $1,140 worth of valuable eBooks and eCourses that address the issues of life most of us face at one time or another, from a profoundly Biblical worldview. The BONUS GIFTS alone are worth more than four times the price of the bundle! So, if you want to ignite your faith, strengthen your family and help your professional life, there’s no better place to start! All the hard work has been done for you…

The Ultimate Christian Living Bundle will only be on sale for 6 days – from 8am (EST) on Wednesday, November 5th until 11:59pm (EST) on Monday, November 10th.

But don’t wait until the last moment – there are only 18,500 bundles available and once they’re gone, they’re gone!

You can buy with confidence because your purchase is covered by the Ultimate Bundles 30-day guarantee: you have a full month to enjoy all the books and courses in the bundle, and if you don’t feel like it’s made a huge difference to your family’s life, you’ll get your money back in full!

Here’s what you need to know about the sale:

When? 8 a.m. (EST) Wednesday, November 5th until 11:59 p.m. (EST) Monday, November 10th (or until 18,500 bundles are sold).

What? 75 eBooks plus eCourses and more, PLUS over $160 worth of bonus products you’ll really use!

Where? Purchase the bundle HERE.

How much? Well now, that’s the best part. The entire package is worth over $1,140, and it’s yours for as little as $34.95. Sweet deal, right?

When you’re ready, you can either buy here directly, or right through the website. It’s fast and easy, and you’ll have your bundle sent to you via email within minutes.

Click here for more info or to buy now.

Remember, this bundle is available for 6 days only, from 8 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday, November 5th to 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Monday, November 10th (or until 18,500 bundles are sold).

Want to know exactly what’s included in the bundle?

Take a look through the categories, as well as the full list of included resources.

Business & Personal Finance

Christian Classics Series

Christian Living

Devotional Life

For Children

Inspirational Novels

Married Life


Reaching the Lost

Click here for more info or to buy now.

Remember, this bundle is available for 6 days only, from 8 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday, November 5th to 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Monday, November 10th (or until 18,500 bundles are sold).

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

And one more thing (phew)…….

I have a fun surprise!

I have this lovely bundle of goodies to give away to one of you!!! This bundle includes some of my very favorite things, most of what can be used while you are relaxing and reading your eBook bundle!!

How to enter:

1. Purchase The Ultimate Christian Living Bundle by clicking HERE through The Better Mom site.

2. Copy and share the following with your friends on Facebook—>>> Have you seen The Ultimate Christian Living Bundle?!?! Over $1000 worth of Christian Living eBooks, eCourses + music for only $34.95 for only 6 days!!

ONE winner will be announced next Friday November 14th, 2014!!

{Set of 3 Tea Towels from Anthropologie, Love Came Down Lantern from Dayspring, Set of 2 Owl Mugs from Anthropologie, Walk by Faith Notes from Dayspring, Matching Redeemed necklace and bracelet from Dayspring, Set of 3 Notebooks from Anthropologie}

The Ultimate Christian Bundle Giveaway

Happy reading my friends!!!


Ruth Schwenk


How We Spend Our Lives {The Daily Planner Review}

How We Spend Our Lives

I love planners. I love them big or small, pretty or professional, detailed or plain.  Mostly, I love how they get me thinking about how I spend my days.  Because, as Annie Dillard has said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

So, I was super-excited to review The Daily Planner designed by Sue Hooley, a wife married 23 years and a mom of six children ages 4-20.

2015_Daily_Planner_PicWhat makes this planner unique is that the layout specifically has a homemaker’s needs in mind. For example, it is rare that one day in the life of a stay-at-home mom will be the same as the next, and therefore not all her tasks will fit into the structured time-slots of more traditional planners.

Sectioned off into seven areas (yearly calendar, monthly calendar, weekly planner, tasks lists, projects, information, and shopping lists), it measures about 6” x 8.5” and easily fits into most handbags.

Features of The Daily Planner I especially like include:

Tabbed sections.  Each of the aforementioned sections have easy-to-thumb-through, rounded tabs making it a snap to flip from the year-at-a-glance area to the weekly schedule, etc. Also, within each section, there are pre-marked dotted lines that can be snipped to create even more accessibility to specific pages.

Year-at-a-glance pages. This planner has a page showing all the dates for both the current year and the following year as well as handy “dates to remember” sections for sketching in birthdays, anniversaries, or other special events.

Month-at-a-glance element.  Featured on two-page spreads, every month is laid out for viewing, and the date boxes are big enough to jot down short notes.

Weekly schedules. For every week of the year, there is a two-page spread of dated spaces for writing more detailed notes for each day.

Tasks lists.  Each of the weekly sections has a sizable, lined, blank space for daily tasks. Every mom knows that there are somethings that just don’t fit neatly into a daily schedule… things that might pop up.  This area is a great place to write details for those items.

Projects & Tasks tabs. There are two large, tabbed sections that include ample space for taking notes and jotting down ideas, for making lists and recording a-ha moments.  So many times, organizers fail in this area.  I love the amount of space for note-taking here!

Perforated shopping lists. This is brilliant!  There is a whole section with paper easily separated by perforations that are long and skinny — about 2” x 8” — perfect for keeping a running grocery list, tearing out, and slipping into a pocket.  Love this!

Bible verses. Each week focuses the attention around a different verse from Proverbs that specifically encourages a woman in her homemaking journey.

Price.  This planner is very affordable. At $13.99 each, it is comparable to planners available in big box stores.  And trust me when I say that after pouring over the planners in the big box stores, this organizer is a step above any you’ll find there for an equal price.

I’m excited to tell you that Sue Hooley is giving away TWO copies of The Daily Planner.  To enter, just follow the instructions below.

And if you’d like to purchase a planner (or two or three for friends!), here’s a great deal just for The Better Mom readers!

Happy planning!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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