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{on being} A Better Mom

It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about.  What’s hard is figuring out what you are willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about. – Shauna Niequist

I saw this quote on The Better Mom and think it is so true. I also remember reading on a friend’s facebook status something to the effect of being so caught up in what she wants her Christmas to look like that she isn’t enjoying any of the preparation. She doesn’t want to give anything up to make her holiday what she wants.

A Better Mom http://momistheonlygirl.com

I’m in the midst of a transition. With Sweet Pea off to Kindergarten this year I find myself wondering what I want to be when I grow up. My previous profession is all but gone (I was a medical transcriptionist who finds her work has been given to computers, and before that the person at the ad agency who made sure the product made it through all the steps and was released on time – a job integrated into another position.) I’m literally free to be whoever I want to be professionally. But I’m finding it is hard to decide what I want my life to be about – outside of being a wife and mommy.

I’m finding it hard mostly because I’m not willing to give up being at home, being the caregiver, launderer, cleaner, finder-of-lost-things, even while they are at work and school. At least not yet. And I’m not ready to give up all the family time that being a stay-at-home-wife-to-a-school-teacher brings with it in the summertime.

As moms, I know we all feel this way to a degree. I also know some have made the transition to working and love it, others wish for their lives they could be home waiting for their child to get off the bus and their husband to walk in the door.

I’m deciding today to do my best to think of Shauna’s idea in a more positive way for myself as I make this transition and attempt to ‘grow up’. Not that this statement is negative. I just want to think about it without the words ‘hard’ and ‘give up’. Would you like to as well?

Let’s decide to think more in terms of what we as moms can provide through this process of thinking what we want our lives to be about.       Love for others.             Feeling for those who are can’t be there.          Bettering ourselves to provide in the future for family.          Listening and spending time with others now, when we might not have that time in a little while.

Listening to our hearts. Seeking out our talents and skills. Embracing our desires to care for others.

Possibly through this process we will also begin to see more clearly what we do really care about and invest our lives in that while we are able.

Accomplishments

How do you feel when one of your kids accomplishes something? Do you shout it from the mountain tops or quietly revel in pride?

Do you fear gushing about it will make them self-conscious? Or not speaking up about it will make them strive to work harder for the next goal?

Violin http://momistheonlygirl.com

Praising our children for their accomplishments can totally backfire for some children, causing them to withdraw into a cocoon, not wanting the attention, or not wanting to have to strive for the same or better next time.

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Christmas Traditions

It seems like every family celebrates Christmas in some way in their home, whether atheist, Jewish, African or Christ followers. Each involves traditions of some sort. (I'm not going to go into semantics here.)

In our home, we try to celebrate Jesus' birth and our love for each other. We incorporate going to church and giving gifts to loved ones, decorating a Christmas tree with items representing us and our memories. In other homes there may be no gifts, no tree, or no going to church. There may be no celebrating Christmas with a focal point being Jesus' birth.

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Getting Kids Moving Indoors

As I sit writing this it is 20 degrees outside with a light wind that makes it feel -50! It seems like a good day to post a variety of ways I keep my boys active when it’s too cold outside to get that gross motor play in just by playing in the snow (or green grass as we currently have). Following are just a few of the ideas I turn to. I need a few more in my arsenal now that my almost-eight year old is getting bigger. Any ideas?

Indoorgrossmotorplay

Venturing Out

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Melted Crayon Homemade Ornaments

Have you been enjoying this week of simple homemade Christmas ornaments you and your child can make together? This last one I’m sharing seems like it should be for older children, but I think with supervision and help preschoolers would enjoy getting involved, too! I’ve provided an affiliate link for the ornaments for you below.

This homemade Christmas Ornament the boys and I made last year involved a heat gun (or hair dryer), crayons, clothespins and small glass ornaments. (Make sure they are glass! Using heat and glass makes this a no-brainer – adult supervision is strongly encouraged!)

Melted Crayon Christmas Ornaments

These came out so beautifully that we are making some for our own tree this year! I bought the ornaments from JoAnn Crafts this year, but you can also find them on Amazon by following this (affiliate) link. I’m going to warn you making these can be addicting! It’s strangely relaxing, so you might even want to make these by yourself!

Using a grater or whatever method you find easiest to make your crayons into small pieces, crush them up! It’s up to you if you’d like to group the shavings by color, but we found that to have the best results.

Be careful with little fingers
Be careful with little fingers

As you remove the ornaments from the packaging try not to ruin the plastic package, as this makes a neat, safe place for the ornaments to cool off.

Everything you should need
Everything you should need

Carefully take the top hook portion off the ornament by squeezing the round loop and pulling gently. Remember, these are made of glass. They are pretty sturdy, but can still break if squeezed too hard. (If it helps to know, we didn’t break any!) Set the loop aside for now.

Get those little crayon shavings in there!
Get those little crayon shavings in there!

Decide what color(s) you’d like your ornament to be, use your imagination, and place a few crumbs of crayon in your ornament. Experiment with color – its a great activity to review colors and introduce shades of colors and color creating to younger onese. Get the science lingo going if you’d like to make this into a mini science lesson! Then carefully put the hook back into the ornament. Clip the clothespin to the round hook and hold tightly as shown above.

Use your hair dryer or heat gun to melt the crayon. I suppose you could also hold your ornament over a stove burner as well, but be very careful with whatever method you use. We used the clothespin to help keep our hands away from the heat.

Keep turning the ornament and heat source until the desired swirling effect is achieved.

Let the melted crayon ornament cool!
Let the melted crayon ornament cool!

Get creative with your color combinations and pattern attempts! Even one swirl of a bold or shimmering color has wonderfully beautiful results! For some ornaments, we heated until just starting to melt and it created a spotty effect! I wish I had taken pictures of all the ornaments, or at least of a couple on a tree! I loved every creation for a different reason. You’ll know what I mean when you make your own!

Once the ornaments are cooled package them in a pretty container and wish the recipient a very Merry Christmas!

If you try this with your kiddos let me know what you think! And if you missed any of the previous kid-friendly ornaments I shared, feel free to check out the star ornament or the cutout ornament!

Thank you for letting me share these homemade ornaments with you! Go spend some time with your kiddos and create something beautiful!

Sweet Pea is Six!

leaves and rake
The family time spent raking leaves and jumping in them!

Thanksgiving break is never a relaxing time for us. We celebrate Sweet Pea’s birthday, celebrate Thanksgiving twice (once with each family) then celebrate my niece’s birthday. Then we are soooooo ready to relax into the meaning of Christmas and the Christmas season.

Seriously, though, Thanksgiving has always been special to me, but six years ago it took on an entirely different kind of special when we brought Sweet Pea home from the hospital on Thanksgiving day.

Turning six!

I love seeing life through my children’s eyes and this year’s birthday was a little milestone for Sweet Pea. He turned six, and to him that meant he could finally have that LEGO train he wanted – because, after all it was for ages 6+ so he wouldn’t have been able to play with it before then! Don’t you love how their minds work?

The joy of opening that one gift you were so desiring!

With all that excitement behind us I can rest and think about the special moments we had this past week with family.

I’m going to spend some time thinking again on January 1st. Not about the resolutions I will make or what the year will hold for me, but about the memories made in the Christmas season throughout December.

The peacefulness of fallen leaves…introducing the colors of Christmas.

Do I want to remember myself being stressed trying to find the right gift at the right price? The running around trying to get things done? Or do I want to remember the meaning of Christmas? The celebration of my Savior’s birth. The memories made as my family gathered together again…

Bright fall colors remind me that although the white of winter is coming, new life will follow.

May we all take time to rest in the thought of memories we will cherish when this Christmas season has faded into the New Year. I encourage you to think about how you want to remember the month of December and act on it!

Getting the new Mom is the Only Girl running

(This post contains affiliate links. Which means if you purchase the product by following the link provided, you will not be paying more in order for me to be compensated by the company represented.)

So what do you think of the new Mom is the Only Girl? Is it easier to read? Does it make you feel a little more relaxed and able to breathe with the white space? I’m trying to make this a nice place for you, so please shoot me a note and tell me what you think!

In rebranding and migrating from one platform to another, I’ve been doing a lot of searching for help on-line. One of the biggest helps to me was Blogelina. I even took a course from there!

Let me tell you what resources I utilized, maybe Blogelina will be a site that will help you, too.
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Welcome to the new Mom is the Only Girl

Hi there! Are you with me in my new home?

It took me a little longer to move than I ever imagined, but all the boxes are unpacked now, although not everything has found its proper home yet. I haven’t decided what colors to paint it, although my logo tends toward the purple, with a little pink and blue thrown in for good measure.

I’m excited about what my new neighborhood may bring with it. Maybe new friends? An item or two to give to neighbors? Maybe I’ll start a little shop out back where you can all stop and browse? We shall see in time!

What you will find here for certain is: Read more

Child-like Faith

The other night as I was tucking five-year-old Sweet Pea in bed, he was really adamant I pray for something. I thought it would be for a new train (he’s always reminding us he needs one). I paused like any good mother would and asked what I should pray for.

God to give me good dreams. Only good dreams.

My heart ached. I remembered for several nights before he had been waking up sweating and crying after horrible dreams and would cling to me like he would never let go.

As moms we want to take away all the scariness, make them feel safe and secure so they can sleep at night. We give them lovies, their favorite blankets. We play soft music to cover the noises of the night and give them night lights when they are afraid of the dark. What a simple thing for a child to pray in faith that God will take away the bad dreams – the dreams we cannot do anything about!

My child has the faith God can give him good dreams (we pray for this every night now). His child-like faith reminded me how gentle God is and how powerful He is in the same moment.

One way to ease home-from-school-time

When the kids first went back to school I was having a really hard time when they came home at the end of their school day. I was in my own world while they were gone. It was quiet, peaceful.
The kiddos would get off the bus, come inside and ~ LOUDNESS! My oasis was gone.

Have you felt like this or do you feel like this daily? They walk through the door and immediately everything changes, your little world is taken away. It’s not that you aren’t happy to see them, are curious about their day, or want them to be home with you. It’s just that the transition to them being home is so sudden and complete. It’s hard to make the transition.

To be honest, I was having a very difficult time switching gears until very recently. I reached out to mom friends on face book and asked for their advice. Most of them responded with after school routines that work for them, which were very helpful, however one response stood out above all the rest.

My friend’s words were so simple. About 15 minutes before the kids are due to come home stop and relax for a few minutes. End any projects in progress and put them away. Maybe have a glass of water or a snack and concentrate on how I want the kids to feel when they come home. Concentrate on them, what their day might have included (i.e. art, music, PE). Concentrate on being mom.

Now, my kids are still noisier than ever when they come home and have too much energy for me, but this simple change in my focus, in my attitude has made a huge difference. I’m able to handle the transition now with a little more grace and love.

My focus has become them, not my work. It is all outward, to welcome them home. It’s to make them feel loved. I am no longer concentrating on my tasks in my life that they’ve interrupted, but I’m loving them with my life.

A simple change in focus, planned and thought out, has totally changed home-from-school-time for this mom!

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Several years ago I attended my church’s ladies’ retreat and listened to a friend give her little devotional. I should say, I thought it was going to be a little devotional. What she said has stuck with me.

My friend began by sharing how much the ladies at the retreat meant to her. How she had come to rely on many of us for deep conversations and then she hit us with a bombshell. She had not been completely honest with any of us for the previous month.


I think none of us in the room knew what to think or say.

She paused, seemingly for us to ponder what she said, but went on to say she had found a lump in her breast and didn’t want to believe it was even there until she knew what it was.

She had lied every time one of us asked her how she was and said “fine” or “just plugging along” in attempts to block her reality from becoming truth.

I’m glad to say she found out the morning she travelled to retreat that the biopsy was clean and she did not have breast cancer.

So many women are diagnosed with breast cancer every day. My friend, Becky, is fighting it right now, as well as my friend Lisa. So is the wife of someone my husband works with, and a co-worker of my friend Jen. There are others, but I won’t mention them all.

Some have a huge support network carrying them through this struggle. Some don’t and are carrying through this fight alone.

Many survivors will willingly share their story if it helps even one person decide to get a mammogram or do a self breast exam, especially if the result is early detection. This month many clinics, hospitals and doctor offices are offering free mammograms to those who cannot afford one.

If you or someone you know is fighting breast cancer, know there are places to turn to for support. A good place to start is breastcancer.org, the  Susan G. Komen website, or check out the Noreen Fraser Foundation mentioned above.

If you don’t know how to do a self breast exam, check out Check Your Boobies. Straight from their site:

CYB is all about putting women into action about their breast health, giving them tools for early detection, prevention and self-advocacy.  We give healthy women, from all walks of life, a fun way to learn what they can do to feel more in control and less in fear about breast cancer.  We also give breast cancer survivors a place to share the stories that can save lives.

Here is a direct link to their instructions for a self breast exam.

My mom is a breast cancer survivor, so this cause is close to my heart. It is a disease that needs a cure, but if found soon enough many times can be treated. Please take a moment to get checked.


Separation Anxiety Resources

Five year old Sweet Pea has been going to Kindergarten Camp for three weeks and still has not gotten over his separation anxiety. The first several days was very excited to go to camp so I thought ‘finally he’s over this.’ However, today he was still clinging to me and screaming when I left. This is really stressful for this mom, although I try very hard not to show it, especially to him. Read more

Let the Light in

There are some mornings I want to open the shades, let all the light in. It feels clean, bright, fresh.

Other mornings I’d rather keep the shades drawn. Hunker down. Stay warm. Alone.

Still others I feel like I want to chase the gray skies away by turning on all the lights in the house, even though I know the gray remains.


I think in a lot of ways this is how we are with our faith. Some mornings we want to invite God in for the day. In fact, we can’t wait for a visit.

Other days we’d rather not even acknowledge Him, maybe even without reason, or realization. Then there are the other days when we yearn for his presence, but cannot feel it.

One thing I know, God is there every day, whether I greet Him anxiously, or not. I know, because after the gray is finally gone I can look back and see the whole picture, not just the part with me opening the shades, putting food on the table and getting the boys to bed. I see how I made it through the day with smiling, happy boys. I see it in knowing a friend received good news.

These may be simple things, but I know I am important to God (after all, he has counted the hairs on my head…why else would He do that unless He loves me?) and if I’m important to God, He must be at work doing something in the peripheral of the picture, the part I cannot see.

And that I am anxious to look back upon and see clearly.

Winter brings peace in spring

original poem by Tricia at Mom is the Only GirlThe sun greets us in the morning, pushing the gray far from sight.

Winter’s snow melts as the warmth delicately, hesitantly, spreads over it, at times so bright.

I shield my eyes or look away.

Small streams of ice-cold water trickle down the drive, little lines exploring.

Longing to leave winter coats, hats, mittens behind, but warmth hasn’t engulfed me yet.

Agitation, cold white stillness, slowly replaced.

First by brown, soon pokes of green leaves, purple.

Peace of color. Yellow rays of sun cradling us in its warmth once again.

Original poem. Property of Tricia at Mom is the Only Girl. Do not copy.

Remembering Winter

Spring is not here yet. I’m yearning for it. I love the snow, but with the weather getting warmer, then colder, then warmer then snowing again I’m trying to not get my hopes up. I mean, it’s just February, and around here that means winter weather.

So I’m remembering how much worse this weather could be. We were told to expect lots of snow one night in January. Unfortuntely, it fell during the wrong 8 hour period to give the kiddos a snow day. Well, my 5 year old and I tried to make it to afternoon preschool, but when you can’t see, it makes driving there a little dangerous, so we retreated to the comfort of home. I treated him to afternoon popcorn and a movie – something that we just don’t ever do here in the middle of the day and something I think we’d both enjoy if we did it more often. We definitely enjoyed our snow day!

It was the sort of snow that, while it’s falling, it looks like millions of shards of glass. Under the street lights that night it looked like we were surrounded by diamonds piled high, just waiting to be disturbed.

That night I sat, half watching Sweet Pea drive his trains around the family room floor, also seeing the swirling snow sparkling in the air as a gentle breeze blew it past the window. I remember hesitating to take the boys out the next day, wondering if I wanted to ruin the beauty of the sparkles in the landscape, or if it would be even more beautiful with paths all over it made by joyous playing boys.

So here I sit, remembering the sudden snow storm we had earlier today which left an inch of snow in less than an hour. Remembering the wind whipping, leaving my cheeks and hands so cold I could hardly move my fingers.

But I’m also remembering just how much fun playing in a winter wonderland can be…as long as I’m either bundled up like crazy or sitting inside sipping hot cocoa watching the boys and their daddy playing in it!

 

Loneliness

I’m feeling a little guilty today. See, I have this knee ‘condition’ for which I should work out regularly. I’ve also had this little cold for about a week as well as this numb headache since last night. Needless to say instead of working out today while Sweet Pea was in preschool (at the Y no less!) I skipped out and came home.

To be honest, it’s not just those things that made me just come home. Some days when Sweet Pea is at preschool and I have those precious couple of hours to care for me, I feel lonely. I mean, I’m in the gym working out, having time to take care of me, getting my body back (even though it’s been 5 years I still have that pudge) and am in the midst of other moms with the same desires to feel better, feel healthy…I still feel lonely. I don’t ‘connect’ with those other moms. I’m just in the same room with them. Maybe say a polite ‘hello’, but don’t truly interact with them.

It’s not that we don’t have anything in common. Maybe we do. It’s not that I feel less than them even though their bodies may be more in shape than mine, I know our goals are probably the same since we’re in the same place doing basically the same thing.

Some days after my workout I return to the preschool room, collect Sweet Pea and his things and think, ‘That’s what ‘me’ time looks like? It sure isn’t uplifting. I sure don’t feel encouraged or ready to finish this day.’

I just feel lonely.

Are you lonely, too? Whether it be at the gym or going to a mom’s club type of meeting, or a ladies’ church event…do you find yourself wondering if it will be easier to make friends when your kids are in the upper grades, or out of the house even though you thought it would be much easier to make friends once you had kids?

I think a lot of moms are lonely on some level. Whether they have little babies, young kids, teens, college kids, are empty nesters. I think we all have expectations of what our ‘community’ of moms will look like, how we will connect with others, but it is all so different than when we were kids and could simply play together or maybe share a secret.

I just was trying to get this headache to disappear and was just about to collect my mind and return to the Y to get my Sweet Pea, but thought I’d check facebook first, since that’s my usual source for adult communication throughout the day, and came across something that made me go to Finding Joy. I quickly came to this page about how “Motherhood isn’t meant to be lonely”. It spoke to me so much that I just had to sit down and type this out.

If you can relate to what I’ve shared today, please consider checking out Finding Joy. Let me know I’m not alone.

Mothering on Purpose

The Power of MomsYesterday I posted about how we talk with our children. I like to think I put thought into it most of the time, not just let it happen willy nilly.

I mean, we can just let mothering happen as in ‘life happens’ or let things just sort of happen on accident. But there’s an alternative to that. 

There is one place I refer to in regards to learning and being reminded of healthy ways to do this thing called Mothering. It’s The Power of Moms. They have lots free resources (as well as a few you have to pay for) like articles and podcasts, that are a great resource for mothering on purpose, or as they call it deliberate mothering.

I’d like to be more thoughtful about how I mother. More intentional in the decisions I make in regards to how I raise my kiddos. This is one reason I think it is important to truly think about how we talk with our children, making the connection with them when we do. (Of course, there will be times when you just goof around with them, but here I’m talking about creating a connection, making them feel secure, important and loved when we talk.)


Here’s what they say…

In a nutshell, we believe that deliberate mothers are intentional about the way they live, the way they care for their families, and the way they grow themselves, as women.


I am an affiliate with Power of Moms, but only because I truly trust the advice I can find there. There is a wealth of free information on their site, this isn’t just a plug for you to buy something. If you are looking for ideas for more ways to connect with your kiddos and affirm your own identity as a mom and individual, I encourage you to check it out!


What I’d like for you to take away from this is that there are alternatives to just letting mothering happen. You can be intentional about the decisions you make. Your kiddos can get through this mothering thing on purpose, not just by accident! There are many more resources out there than just this one to encourage you along!

Please comment if there is a resource you like to use for support in your mothering adventure!



Disclosure of Material Connection: This is not a sponsored post, however the link to Power of Moms is my affiliate link. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

I’m not Pinterest-Creative

Sometimes I find myself pouring over blogs or Pinterest overwhelmed with great ideas for the boys and know I will never be able to do them, or feel badly because I am not creative enough to come up with ideas like the ones I see, let alone have the time to even think about doing them to the same level as what I see.

Ever feel like that?

Sometimes I get so caught up in making things for the boys to do and learn from, and when I do find the time to make something pretty cool the boys destroy it within minutes or don’t play with it as it was designed.

We’re Heading Outside!

Lately I’ve decided to take a break from the making and being creative and trying to teach my boys something with every free moment I have in which they want my undivided attention, and just go outside and see what they want to do.

Often they ride bikes or scooters, try to shoot baskets or play catch. Other times they pick up a stick and dig in the dirt or gravel pit. ‘Old fashioned play’ I find myself calling it. Nothing fancy, just like the way I used to play as a girl.

All of the creative learning and play ideas out there are great, don’t get me wrong. I just wanted to remind other moms who feel they are maybe falling short, that there is nothing wrong with good old fashioned play!

Live in the Moment Mom

Just because you’re a mom doesn’t mean you can’t take care of yourself or love yourself.

I mentioned yesterday the thought that our kiddos will want to read and want to learn to read because they see us reading. In the same way, we should work on loving ourselves because our kiddos may just be learning how to love themselves by watching us. This is another idea I read about in Hot Moms Handbook.


If you don’t like who you are or the way you look, how can you expect your children to like who they are or the way they look? I catch myself a lot in this area. I tell others how Cutie Pie has my eyes, or that I was a tow head when I was little like he is, yet I find myself standing in the kitchen complaining to Hubby that I’m not happy with how I look. What is that translating into (or will translate into) in Cutie Pie’s mind?

You and I can decide to live in the moment, rather than always wanting change, being impatient. We can enjoy what is happening around us, who is around us and what they are becoming. At the same time we can try to become the best we can be, to be happy with ourselves or at least like ourselves a little more. We can improve ourselves for ourselves and for those we love. Imagine what an impact that could have on our family, on our kids.

I did not receive any compensation for writing a post about this book. It is simply one that got me to thinking about how I perceive myself, how I think about myself, not how I compare myself to others or fall short of what I think others think of me. This book has helped me to realize that although my family means more to me than words can express, I am in need of not being stagnant in my being to bring out the best in others, to keep my marriage fun and exciting and to love to my full capacity.

I’m going to explore how I found this to relate to the Proverbs 31 woman in another post (or maybe others – plural), but wanted to share what got me to this thinking since Hot Moms Handbook was not written from a Biblical perspective. I sincerely believe that God loves us as He has created us. If He created us and loves us how can we justify not loving ourselves, respecting ourselves and becoming all He created us to be?

The only reason why the Proverbs 31 Woman can be perceived as “perfect” is because she is a product of the God who lives within her. The only thing that’s perfect about her, is Him. – The Fulltime Girl


Mom Self-Esteem

How often do you read for entertainment? I mean more than just the newspaper gossip column.
We were at the library about a month ago and it dawned on me that I never read anymore. I mean, not for my own enjoyment. I read books to the boys all the time, but to read a book to stimulate my own mind is not anything I do when I have “down time” – usually it’s laundry, dishes, mopping…all the things a mom is supposed to do. But it is important for a mom to read, too, and not just so kids will copy us and read.
This book, Hot Moms Handbook, was sitting with it’s cover facing outward in the middle of a row of books lined up with their spines all neatly in a row on the parenting shelf in the library as if it was calling for my attention. At first glance it didn’t seem like something I would read, but reading the back cover peaked my curiosity. So it came home with me.

I read things like…

“I am important, as a woman”…and wife. – pg. 28

“you owe it to yourself…” – pg. 29

My thoughts for you at this point:

How is your mom self-esteem? How do you view yourself?
What descriptor words come to mind when you think of you?
Do you find you always compare yourselves to other mothers, other ladies, the Proverbs 31 woman?
Do you only see where you feel you fall short
(whether in your own mind or what you perceive as the view of others?)
I mention these thoughts because words answering them came to my mind when I started thinking about ‘owing it to myself’ to think of myself as important.

We all know we are important in the role as mom and in the role as wife or daughter but how many times do we actually think of ourselves as important as a woman? Do you ever think about owing it to yourself to like yourself, to improve yourself so that you can be the woman you are meant to be? And who were you meant to be anyway?

Each day is new. You can wake up tomorrow and start fresh with a new attitude and a new way of doing things, take control and stand firm…quoted from page 48.

You can decide that you are ‘worth it’ and that one of the best things you can do for your family is to be at your best. You can wake up and change your mindset when you find things repeatedly get you down.

How do you view yourself? How do you describe yourself?

This post contains an affiliate link to Amazon.com for the book Hot Moms Handbook.

Who are you?

Have you lost yourself as a mom?

Sometimes I think I have.

My 4 year old is going to 3 day preschool this year and full day Kindergarten the following and I’ve found myself contemplating what I’d like to do with my life. That in itself is sort of silly since I’ve been married almost 20 years and only the last 6 years of it has been ‘at home’ with my kiddos. You’d think I’d have an idea or would be going back to the field I left (medical transcription), but anyway…


I recently stumbled across a blog by Elisa Pulliam (a life coach) that has made me ponder that opening  question ~ have you lost yourself as a mom. I found her blog as I was doing a little searching after reading the book in mentioned later in this post.

I also started wondering about who I am after I read Hot Mom Handbook and was thinking about how to become me to the fullest, but in my case the ‘true’ me that God created me to be.

I saw an inventory of talents and skills on one of Elisa Pulliam’s printouts (which I just cannot find on her site – I get so sidetracked looking at all the info she shares!) in which you are to think of what you enjoy doing and what you do well and are given a list of ideas. I found myself simply reading, not being able to relate to any of them except maybe a few, and those only in the past tense. This is what made me think (again) about putting this question out there, as much for me as for you…

Who are you, Mom?

Do you have goals, dreams, ambitions for your life that are for you and not centered on your children?
Do you have girlfriends? Those you can truly talk with or are they all just acquaintances you made through your child’s friends whom you see every once in a while at child drop off or for a play date?
Do you feel fulfilled, nurtured, growing in any way?
Who are you? What defines you?
What are you trying to achieve? Mom perfection? To be the Proverbs 31 woman?
Have I made you think about who you are?

What kind of family are you?

sense of community family front yard back yard
Front yard play in our community

I’ve been reading a lot about community lately, or the sense of belonging (I posted about it earlier this week, too). Mostly this was in relation to the whole ‘who am I?’ idea, but this idea kept popping up in the articles. (Sorry I have no references for you, there were so many short little ones. I admit I should have kept track of them for you.)


I remember the mention of neighbors playing outside with their kids out in front of their homes and slowly other neighbors would come around and after a while evenings just became social gatherings or parties. A sense of community arose as a result of families being accessible to others, not secluded in their back yards, even if seclusion wasn’t the intention.

I found it very interesting that my sister in law brought this very thing up at our recent play date, er, well, I mean our kids’ play date, while we were chatting. L. told me that when she and her husband first had kids there were several families in the neighborhood with young children and everyone seemed to gather ‘out front’ and chat at night while the kids played together.

Slowly homes sold and the ‘feel’ of the neighborhood changed. L. said when new families moved in children began playing in their backyards more often and there seems to be little sense of community now. My niece and nephew still play out front, but neighbors have talked to her about the volume her children play at, which isn’t any louder than other kids playing in their back yards.

We play in both the front and the back, depending on what our kiddos want to do at the time. I think for us the communication between neighbors has more to do with the stage of life our neighbors are in. The communication is different, with simple hellos exchanged in the front yard between our family and singles or couples (with grown children who are no longer living at home) walking their dogs and meaningful conversations with immediate neighbors (who can watch the children play in our yard from their windows) in the backyard.

So I guess I’m not sure if I’m a front yard or backyard-er. Maybe a little of both? Playing outside, in back or front, with my family has definitely made me feel I belong in this community, though.

Are you a front yard or back yard family and do you think this relates to the sense of community in your neighborhood?



Where do You Belong

In light of the recent articles on community popping up here and there, I’ve been thinking a lot about where we belong, as individuals and as a family.

Growing up in the country sharing property with a young neighbor my sister, brother and I always had a friend to play with, but only her. We didn’t grow up in a neighborhood, with classmates living in other homes on the street, or other neighborhood kids to play with. We grew up knowing we ‘belonged’ there in scruffy clothes, climbing trees and log-rolling down the grass-covered hills without neighbors who could see us from their windows except when we climbed up the hill and played in the trees.


I also grew up very shy. It took me a very long time to overcome my shyness, and mostly as a result of being thrown into situations where extraverts befriended me. Hanging around them I met more people and slowly became more comfortable with myself as a person. Making friends and having friends gave me a sense of belonging, like who I was mattered somehow.

As adults this feeling of belonging differs in intensity depending on the person, the place…but as an adult watching my own children making friends, or finding their way to do so, it deeply reminds me of the (almost) pain I sometimes felt when faced with making friends and I hope and pray they find a sense of belonging like I did.

As an adult I sometimes wonder where I belong now and how I can define the sense of belonging. Is it just a feeling based on where and how I find myself fitting into a group, feeling comfortable around others doing the same as me – being a mom as part of a mom’s group, for example? A sense of community.

…And I wonder how I can help my child always remember they will always find a place to belong here at home.

Where do you belong?


My View

From up in the plane I look down and see clouds dotting a manicured landscape, one of neatly organized roads, obviously planned by someone or some organization. Other times I look down to see white clouds, some white and fluffy, building up in towers like cotton balls piled on top of each other sometimes letting the ground below peak through, some wispy and almost see-through, other times all I see is white.

As I sit and observe I am reminded how life is like this view. Sometimes everything falls in line, works out as if there is some ultimate plan designed for me with no obstacles. Other times little (or sometimes big) happenings seem to grow into an unclimbable hill, barring my way until I find a small opening to breathe and make my way again. Still other times everything seems cloudy, like I’m always searching for the end of whatever is on my mind.

My view from this plane reminds me that life is not always an easy road. Sometimes it intersects with others, maybe many others, like roads coming together neatly surrounded by many buildings that you can immediately recognize as a community. Other times the road may be lonely, dotted with only one or two buildings or houses, but surrounded by dark green fields that are sometimes lush with life, other times brown with trials.

Sometimes I look out my window to see the horizon. Maybe a coastline. Maybe the white clouds meeting the blue sky. The horizon reminds me trials end. The present is simply my dreams from yesterday being lived out today. Life goes on beyond the horizon, we just can’t see it.

Disaster

Have you ever felt such a desire to help a loved one but know there is absolutely nothing you can do? And that there is nothing you could do even if you were right by that person’s side (other than hug and cry together)? That’s how I’ve been feeling since first hearing about my mom being evacuated from her home due to flooding in the neighborhood June 29th after a dike broke. Oneida, NY should find out soon if they qualify for FEMA aid. Yes, it’s that serious.


Several friends of mine who are still in the area kept me updated on Facebook, and I am so thankful for Facebook pages like Oneida St. Paul’s Disaster and Early Response that posted updates and communicated to residents the details they needed to know to get help (although many didn’t have access due to not being in their homes). Without them I would have felt even more helpless. This way I was able to know what was happening from trusted sources. (I know it can get a little overwhelming to some to see these pictures, but to me seeing how everyone was dealing with the flooding actually helped me know it was possible to get through it.)

Here are two pics from June 29th, as taken by my wonderful photography friend from high school:

This picture shows a front loader/tractor that got stuck in the middle of the road shortly after the flooding began. I’m assuming it was being used to help evacuate people as in another picture taken at a later point in time the tractor had been moved and there was a boat returning to evacuate more people in the same spot. The blue arrow is about the position of my mom’s apartment, two doors past the green house. I was told the brown building just above and to the left of the tractor had 30″ of water inside of it.

This wasn’t exactly the start to summer that these poor (literally and figuratively) people had planned. This area hadn’t even flooded in years, and not nearly this badly. Luckily my mom’s apartment is in a home with a raised foundation and the water came within inches of entering, but didn’t. You’ll see in pictures I’ll post tomorrow that her neighbors were not so lucky.

Please pray for those in Central New York as they recover from this flood. Please pray also for those in the southern states suffering from droughts and fires. It has not been a relaxing summer so far for those in these areas.

If you are interested in seeing more pictures and to see a list of resources for emergencies like these, you can check out the Facebook page listed above or a blog I found through a friend, Dad’s Off the Path View, written by another person who no longer lives in Oneida, but whose thoughts are there at this time.

A Day

Pitter patter of rain on the roof. Tip tapping on the window.

          A chainsaw in the distance.

Gentle chirping of birds outside the window.

                  Sweet voices of my boys playing nicely downstairs.

The quiet sound of a car passing on the wet road.

     Tick tock hum from the (loud) clock in the next room.

A quiet mmmmmm from the computer.

                 Warm socks on my feet.

Thoughts of getting Cutie Pie on the bus.

      Is he dressed?

           Are his teeth brushed.

                  Did he get his shoes on?

How will I keep Sweet Pea busy today while I clean?

            Chores.

     It is Friday, right?

Comparing

I was talking with a friend about how I feel as a mom and a blogger. We both read blogs by homeschooling moms who seem to have it all together, being creative teachers, great homemakers, have beautiful blogs and printables…and sometimes I feel less than adequate. I know I shouldn’t compare myself to them, but that’s something we all do in our own way, isn’t it?


My friend said something when I told her after sharing my insecurities, “But you and your husband might have it right. you get down on the floor and actually PLAY with your kids.” (Meaning some of those I’m comparing myself to might just have different parenting and teaching styles, not that anything they are doing is wrong or to be criticized.)

Free Stock Photography: Thoughtful Spot. Image: 163567
© Photographer Alan Heartfield | Agency: Dreamstime.com

I felt so much better about myself after that. I think sometimes we get caught up in seeing what others do and achieve that we only see our weaknesses. We see how other moms appear to have it all “in order”, with sweet kids that ALWAYS listen and never do anything ‘wrong’ and we only see our lack of organization and children terrorizing other unsuspecting kiddos.

We read blogs that are beautiful, seamlessly put together and organized, teaching us new ways to teach our kiddos, leaving us longing to improve our writing, our blogs’ layouts and come up with a brilliant post to inspire others in a way they’ve never dreamed of. Pretty unrealistic, right?

I guess I’m just here today as your friendly reminder that not everyone is perfect in the same way. We aren’t all the perfect mom for every child, the perfect homeschooling parent, the perfect spouse…We will never be if we continue to compare ourselves to others.

I’m not saying be anything less of the best you can be. I’m just saying maybe the best isn’t what those around you or you, yourself, need. Maybe, just maybe, those you are comparing yourself to are hiding a horrible secret and aren’t the best they can be either (or they’re just really good at making it appear they are.)

I’m also saying our kids don’t need perfect. They need us. They need us present and loving them…to the best of OUR ability, not someone else’s.

To be a Better Mom

Have you ever needed time away, time to regroup, time to change your thinking so you can be a better mom? 

Have you ever desired a change of perspective but didn’t know how to go about it?

Have you ever just needed to hear that someone else has gone through the same thing you are going through and hear that they made it and maybe get some tips as to how?

There was a time a bit ago that I really needed to hear from others that they made it through the same challenges I was facing as a mom.
I didn’t need to hear it just to commiserate, but to be encouraged *enough* to make it through (even though I knew I would be fine.) And I needed to hear it from someone who wouldn’t judge, someone who wasn’t a friend, someone who wasn’t my mom. (No offense, Mom, but sometimes it’s hard to get reassurance from your own mom…sometimes.)

The Power of Moms

I’ve shared before about the Virtual Retreats offered by Power of Moms, whose tagline is ‘a gathering place for deliberate mothers’. I came across them at just the time I was feeling like that. Let me tell you, the sessions really helped me realize I am not alone in my ‘momness’, in wanting to find ways not just to cope through things, but to find tools that are tried and true that would refresh my love for being a mom. 

The Virtual Retreat through Power of Moms includes their ‘Family Systems’ and ‘Mommy is a Person’ retreat sessions. It is the full curriculum for their one-day Premium Retreats and now moms can enjoy the whole thing right in front of their computers. This is great if you’re far away, like me, or just can’t afford the time away from your family. They are right on the computer, and you can access them all at once, or in little increments, like I did. (And of course, if you’d rather just ‘attend’ one session and not both, you can do that too!)

I started to feel equipped almost immediately after ‘attending’ the retreat session Mommy is a Person. I was reminded that I can thrive as a Mom, not just survive, and was given several questions to help me find ways to thrive. Simple questions that really helped me think and find answers. Questions that I wanted to find answers to, not just answer half-thinking.

Power of Moms wants all moms to have access to these programs, even if you are not in a financial position to purchase them.  Their motives are focused on strengthening mothers. If you are a mom who needs a little help to be the mom you want to be for your kiddos, please check out Power of Moms and what they have to offer.

I am an affiliate for Power of Moms and the links within this post are affiliate links which I may or may not be compensated for. However, I am an affiliate because I believe in what Power of Moms stands for and I believe moms need all the strength they can get to be the best moms they can be and although I received access to the virtual retreats for free in exchange for an honest review, the review is based solely on my opinion of it.


I am a Person

Several months ago I was in a little slump. I had caught a cold, was feeling down and I ‘let my guard down’. After I was over my cold I noticed my kids were losing their politeness and I felt a little taken advantage of by them. 

Now I know many say ‘kids get away with whatever their parents let them’, but when you’re in the middle of it sometimes it’s hard to get the energy to get out of it again and get things back in order and its sometimes hard to see the ‘simpleness’ of the task at hand and you feel stuck. That’s about where I was when I stumbled upon the Power of Moms retreats, specifically the one called  Mommy is a Person. (I originally posted about it here but didn’t explain how I came across Power of Moms in the first place.)

The Power of Moms

The Mommy is  Person retreat videos are in 5-10 minute segments and come with reflection questions and action steps to help moms nurture themselves while they nurture their children. They feature Power of Moms founders April and Saren, as well as Saren’s two sisters, who are big bloggers, and Saren’s mom, who is a NYTimes Best-selling author. These ladies seemed so approachable and it was so easy to hear their encouragement and truly take their suggestions to heart.

Through their videos I was reminded of one very simple thing: I am a person

Basically, these ladies reminded me of the power I have in myself to regain my Momhood in my home and with the help of their simple questions I found the energy, gumption and strong desire to once again be Mom of an organized, comfortable home where we all can thrive while being who we are meant to be.

If you are finding yourself in a slump as a mom, or losing your gumption to keep your kids in line once again, please consider checking out Power of Moms, and specifically their video retreats. I truly think you’ll find encouragement and support there. I did!

Power of Moms Payment Philosophy:  We want all moms to have access to these programs, even if they are not in a financial position to purchase them. Our motives are focused on strengthening mothers.

Links within this post may or may not be affiliate links. In the past I have received the video retreats free of cost from Power of Moms in exchange for an honest opinion of the product.

Stay at Home Mom

The other day I overheard two moms talking while my kiddos were playing. They were talking about the buttons kiddos push, having to ‘deal with the brats on the playground’ and just the general stuff dealing with staying at home with children.

At first I thought they were putting stay at home moms down, but then one said something like, ‘I did it for a year,  not by choice, and every day I dreamt about returning to work to escape from it. I just wasn’t meant to be a stay at home mom.’

I left the play place after they agreed stay at home moms are amazing, but also wondering how many moms out there are hiding the desire to return to work, denying that desire for their children and families….sacrificing so much, but not considering it a sacrifice.

Mommy Monster

Sometimes I cringe when I hear my kids squeal this and run in the opposite direction. Especially when we are inside. But then I think ‘they are playing nicely together, why not play along and get some things done?’ But, sometimes I roar and run after them.

When we are outside it’s a whole new ballgame. Mommy Monster squeals mean ‘chase me, Mommy! Scoop me up when you catch me and swing me around while hugging me tight!’

I think I like the outside version better. Less housework.

Mom (Self) Forgiveness

The Power of Moms

I really needed to read this article from Power of Moms, but I didn’t know it until I read it. I haven’t been the nicest mom in the world lately…I admit the heat and humidity don’t just flatten my hair (which is already pretty flat!) but they flatten my mood, leaving me limp with no fun-mom left in me. I’ve been letting things get to me that really would make me laugh if I were in a better mood.


Darth Mom spoke to me, not because I’m her, but because it talked about growing and moving on from our stumbles and mistakes as moms. No mom is perfect all the time, and if she were I wonder if she’d be a good role model for her kids. I tend to look at things my kids do as a reflection on me, whether good or less than ideal, and then I judge myself for their actions. I think, I’m not a good role model because they did this. I’m not a good mom. We’re our own worst critics, aren’t we?

What spoke to me the most in this article was this:

While it is important to see how our actions affect others and acknowledge our shortcomings, love will cause more permanent change than punishment. Tell yourself in positive terms what kind of person you are- “I am a patient mom. I am a kind mother. I sincerely care about this child.” Whatever it is that you want to become, you can! But you must approach yourself with forgiveness and care.

I hardly ever think of myself in positive terms like mentioned above. I hardly ever forgive myself, I just get past the moment, then stumble again.

This article discusses four great points of how to “grow and move on from mothering stumbles” and leaves the reader with a few questions to think about as well as a challenge for when we find ourselves reacting in a way that is less than ideal in the future.

What do you do when you stumble as a mom? Do you think about yourself in positive terms? Do you forgive yourself?

I am affiliated with Power of Moms, however I am only sharing this article because it is something I feel I have benefited from. I am in no way receiving compensation for referring you to this article.

Boy Mom BlogHop!

Have you heard there is a Boy Mom BlogHop going on until July 23rd? I’m joining in the fun even if it is a little late in the game because I’m a proud boy mom and I love getting to know others!

(Don’t you just love their purpose!)

My little guys are getting bigger by the minute. Cutie Pie is my 5 1/2 yr old budding scientist/paleontologist. He loves it when we do science experiments together and every chance I let him use my iPad he’s ‘reading’ Dinosaurs by Rye Science to learn all he can about dinos! When he isn’t learning about dinos, playing dinos or talking about dinos, he’s playing with his Hot Wheels cars. Dinos and cars, that’s the life of my big guy.

Sweet Pea, my 3 1/2 year old just loves curling up in our laps like a kitty. Sometimes he’ll let out a cute little bark like a dog. He’s fascinated with LEGOs and trains. He’s not really much like his brother, who is 22 months older, but that’s just fine with me, but they do both love the outdoors and tend toward the science-y stuff. I love that my boys have their own identities.

Hubby and I are trying our best to raise our boys to love God, love family and love learning and life. I try my best to capture the science-y things we do and scatter my blog with some other things that interest me or are going on in our lives as well. Check out my links up above and to the side and let me know if you like anything! You’re always welcome to come back, to subscribe in RSS or on facebook and twitter!

So go on…hop away!

Memory Making

I love it when the boys are in to doing something ‘different’ than usual. I admit this is one of the reasons I had so much fun when we went creek walking the day Cutie Pie graduated from Pre-Kindergarten!

Birds all around, bugs, water bugs, no fish, different depths of the creek, different height steps down into the water, unpredictable depths near small waterfalls. These were a lot of the things Cutie Pie, Sweet Pea and I noticed when we explored the creek.

Sciency stuff yes, but it was so relaxing being in nature!
Even when Cutie Pie got wet up to his waist on accident I was able to take it all in stride. Partly because I was prepared for the possibility of them getting wet, but also because I was already having fun with them rather than just watching them have fun!
Not only did we get to talk with real scientists, but Cutie Pie got his hands wet and examined a worm he found, too! He wanted to fish with it and held it on the end of a stick for quite a while. That’s sort of what got us walking along the stream for a long time, exploring paths others had made to the waters’ edge. He was bound and determined to find a place to fish with that worm!
Of course, he also found some smelly brownish-green stuff that he picked up with that stick, too!
Moments like this make me realize sometimes I stop having fun with my kids and simply watch them having the fun and playing. While this is important, I think we can all relish in the fun sometimes and create memories with our boys…the kind they will remember us being present, not just our being there.
Enjoy making memories with your kiddos this summer!