Thursday, January 29, 2015

Decisions, Decisions!


     Tuesday's MOPs meeting, when four wonderful educators came to visit our group, blew me out of the water. I mean, at first when I learned we would be hearing from an "education panel" I was cringing on the inside. When it comes to education either you really, really know what you want to do, or you at least really, really know what you don't want to do. But God ... (say it with me now), “But God', our Awesome God, has a way of showing up and revealing things to us we never even expected.

       These four amazingly wise, wonderful women were so full of grace and love that they totally blew me away, and God convicted me real fast. It was very apparent that Michelle, Sharon, Suzi and Ali have huge hearts for kiddos and for the Lord.

        There was a lot of awesome info about public, charter, private and home schooling. All of it was so good and encouraging to hear. I thank God that we live in a country where we can choose what to do with our littles. Can I get an “Amen!”?
I learned a lot, but these were the main points I kept on hearing over and over and over again...

1) We want our kids to be Christ followers.

Whichever school we choose for our sweet babies, the number one goal is to have them love Jesus. 

Train up a child in the way he should go; when he is old he will not depart from this. Proverbs 22.6

2) We want our kids to be lifelong learners. 

Let's not just look at kindergarten but toward the future as well. We need a school, and homes, that will foster this. Our children need to be encouraged to ask questions, so that they can discover truths about life.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. Timothy 3.16

3) Pray, pray and pray some more!

It is so hard to wait. But if we don't know what to do, seek Him. Tuesday’s panel showed me how many options I have never even considered before, and it was wonderful. Options mean choices, and choices can be hard. But if you ask, HE will guide you. Our God always shows up for us!

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3: 5-6

4) God made you their mama for a reason!

This one is my most favorite and all of our panelists seemed to echo this throughout the meeting. You were made to be this child's parent for a reason. He chose you to care for them. Trust that He will guide you and equip you with everything you need to raise a Jesus follower! 

To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 2:14

Even though each year, let alone each day, brings about surprises, it is encouraging to be reminded by some pretty cool Titus 2 women, that He will provide a way! You can make this decision. The Holy Spirit will help you.

And don’t forget to trust that mama gut!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

It Works for Me - Char, Alex, and Amy's Tables!

Charlene H. - To avoid frustration at the breakfast time, turn on Pandora radio! Find some up beat kid music, like KIDZ BOP. It puts the family in a better mood before heading out for the day!

Stephanie E. - Keeps frozen peas on hand and gives them to the kids as an easy veggie option!

Lisa D. - Her daughter has a sticker chart for potty training. She enjoys sticking the stickers on the chart, and if she goes #2, she is rewarded with a marshmallow!

Heidi P. - Wakes up before kids to enjoy a little "me time" with a cup of tea or coffee!

Nicole - Uses flashcards with pictures with her kid's morning chores (ie- get dressed, brush teeth, ect.). Sometimes it helps the morning go a little smoother.

Rosa M. - 1.) To avoid eating out, she always has a homemade frozen meal stocked in the freezer. 2.) Gives her kids a pomegranate in the backyard for a snack/activity. It keeps them entertained for a bit.

Eileen P. - Read stories and nursery rhymes to her kids before nap or bedtime. This would help the kids calm down before they rest. They enjoyed picking out their favorite books to read and also learned to recite the nursery rhymes by heart.

Alex G. - To keep her 18 month old from climbing out of his crib, she cut up a onesie and attached it to the feel of her son's footed pj's. Now, he can't climb out of his crib!

Trisha - Her toddler is a picky eater, so she found a delicious gluten-free banana muffin recipe that she enjoys eating!

Sara P. - Uses coconut oil for diaper rash cream, cooking, smoothies, hair conditioner, shaving, eye make-up remover, and to whiten her teeth (with baking soda).

Lauren - She pre-makes breakfast burritos with eggs, sausage, and cheese, and freezes them. In the morning, she pops one in the microwave for 1:45.

Kelly - Bonds with her baby by singing to her!

Amy M - The "refill" box! She keeps a box for each family member full of supplies they use regularly (ie. shampoo, toothpaste, diaper rash cream). When they run out of an item, they can check their box. This method cuts down on making those annoying trips to the store at the end of the day!

Melissa F - Her daughter was having a hard going to sleep at night, so she created a routine for bedtime. She gives her daughter a bath using lavender soap (great for calming), then she reads her a story. This routine has helped her relax and go to bed.

Anna P - A circle scarf is great way to have a nursing cover with you at all times -- and it's a good excuse to buy more scarves!

Summur B - She has 3 little girls who were all attached to their pacifiers. When each daughter turned 2, she'd have them go around the house with a bag and collect all the pacifiers. Then, they put them on their bedroom door at bedtime. She tell the girls that the "paci fairy" would come and take the pacifiers for babies that need them in exchange for a bag of goodies.

Robyn - Recipe for an awesome bathroom cleaner: 1 cup of heated white vinegar & 1 cup of blue Dawn dish soap. Pour it in a squirt bottle and spray your shower. You can leave it over night too if your shower is extra grimy. It works like a charm!

Kimberlee H - She had the motto, "If your kids could, they should!" Each child was able to do their own laundry by age 11.

Ciara F - Her husband gives her a day off every month. She is not allowed to come home until after the kids go to bed. (Pssst...Ciara - Can you have your husband pass the memo onto our hubbies too?! ;-) )

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Being Brave... To Not Compare

Chances are, more than one of us has had this inner dialogue...

"I wish I was that mom, the one over there with the pretty hair (does she blow dry it every day??) and the put-together outfit. She looks happy too, she's always smiling. She probably doesn't yell at her kids or lose her temper with her husband. Wow, and she works out too?? I really feel like a loser..."

We all do this, don't we? As kids we did it, as teens we did it, and now we do it as moms. We compare ourselves to others, and it's so divisive. It divides our friendships and damages our peace of mind.

As moms, we are over-worked and under-appreciated. We're tired, and often dealing with a plethora of emotions and stressors, and because of that, are propelled into a very insecure state. Once in this state, we are then surrounded by other moms, all with unique gifts and qualities, and we notice.

But then we forget something vital: we are also unique and gifted.

Forgetting our own individuality, we focus on the seeming perfection of others, and remind ourselves of our own failures. We convince ourselves that we are the only one who... fill in the blank here. We assume that another mom isn't dealing with our issues, because her outfit says otherwise. Her outfit.

It's silly, really. But it's not, because it's very real. When we ought to be supporting and encouraging each other in this Mom Role, we instead foster jealousy for others, all the while putting down ourselves.

My fellow Mom: be confident in you! You are uniquely made and placed on this earth at precisely this time in history with the exact kids God wants for you to parent.

A few years ago I had to come to terms with some things about myself. If I was going to parent confidently, without comparing or slipping into a depression because of my need for perfection, I had to be real and honest with myself and with others. Here are some truths about me (as an act of self-love, I challenge you to make your own list of truths - be honest):

  • I hate the park. The idea of taking my kids to the park and sitting there while they play literally bores me right out of my friggin mind.
  • I enjoy knitting, but I despise any other kind of craft, especially paper crafts. 
  • I like Pinterest for pictures of food and finding recipes and storing recipes. I usually skip the craft stuff. But to each their own!
  • I love to cook. It's just my thing. 
  • I hate folding laundry. I do it, but I don't have to like it. I refuse to iron. 
  • I can be obsessive. I have to monitor my "hobbies" as they can quickly become obsessions. 
  • I yell at my kids when I'm frustrated (the first step to changing something about yourself is to admit it, so I admit this. I have yet to figure out another mode of venting, however)
  • I very rarely allow paint and play dough to be played with in my house. 
  • I enjoy being active, but I can't actually call it "exercise" or I won't do it.
  • I love to sing, but I'm not good at it. I also can't seem to recall any songs that are appropriate to sing to a baby when I'm put in that position. 

Here's how this helps me to be a better mom; I look at this list, and realize what my weaknesses are, and that it's OK. When I accept that I'm not perfect, that I'm not my own idealized version of what a mom should be, then I am free. With my list (which is not exhaustive), I can redefine what it means to be a mom. I accept me as a unique woman created to be who I am right now to my kids.

So I don't like the park? So what? Instead of wallowing in my "failure" and comparing myself to moms who like to take their kids to the park, I do something different. I take my kids to the mall. I love the mall, and so do they! Or I take my kids to KidSpace, or to Costco, or to a friend's house to play. I can go all down this list, and instead of shaming myself for what I'm not, I look at what I am.

Moms, be you. Don't be me, and don't be that other girl. Chances are, she and I don't have it all together. Those areas where you are rocking life? Those are probably the areas I struggle in.

Have grace for that other girl, even if her hair is pretty. And have grace for yourself, even when you haven't showered for the third day in a row. We are all doing life, and life is hard. We are all trying to be brave, even when we don't feel like it. Instead of focusing on what we aren't, let's look at what we are, and celebrate it! When we love and appreciate who we are, we are so much better equipped to love someone else, without comparing.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

January Mom of the Month!!!

Our January Mom of the Month (M.O.M) is....

Kate O.

1.) Who's in your family?

Our little family includes myself, my husband, Luke, and our two sons, Wesley (3 and 1/2) and Graham (7 months).

2.) What's your favorite thing about MOPS?

Being a mom can feel very isolating at times. You wonder if you are making the right choices as a mom or if you are the only one going through certain things. MOPS makes me feel like I'm not alone, and that there are other women just like me who are just trying to do their best for their families. I love the speakers who share with us, the adult conversation....and let's be honest, the breakfast is one of my favorite things too :)

3.) What was your favorite moment from Christmas?

My eldest didn't really get the whole Santa thing last year, so watching the magic of it all through his eyes was so much fun. He sprinkled "reindeer food" outside, worried about Santa getting burned in the fire, and spent an hour just in awe of his filled stocking. Who knows how many years of that kind of magic we have left?

4.) If you had a weekend to yourself, what would you do?

I would do all the things I'm not able to do on a normal day. Probably get a massage, go to the movies, read a book, eat out at a fabulous restaurant, and take a bunch of naps. Oh, and I'd sleep all night long. Did I mention I'd sleep?

5.) Who has been the most influential person in your life?

My mom, for sure. She has been my steady rock all my life, praying for me through every chapter. She always had faith in me, even when I didn't.

6.) What is one piece of advice you can offer other moms?

I guess one thing I've been working on is trying to find the joy in every stage, no matter how frustrating. My husband and I recently pulled out home videos for the first time, and I found myself sobbing after two minutes. It shocked me that our tiny baby had grown into a little boy without me even noticing it. I got so caught up in milestones and progress that I forgot to just treasure him being little.