Thursday, May 24, 2018

Losing Your Identity in Motherhood

Before we had kids I was a wife, a teacher, and me.  I knew who I was, where I was, and where I was headed.  I also knew that one day, we wanted to grow our family. 


When you bring kids into the picture things change within you.  Maybe you don't notice it right away, but at some point, to some, it feels like we loose ourselves, our identity of who we are.  Maybe this has happened to you, maybe not.
When you have a clear perspective and knowledge of your purpose, gifts, strengths it helps.  But after so many sleepless nights, all the diaper changes, loads of laundry, and more it seems that all too often we just become so in so's mom.  Don't get me wrong, I love my kids and I like being a mom.  It is what I wanted.  What I didn't realize was that for a period of time, I would loose sight of who I am.

We give and give until the day is done, often little to no time for ourselves.  At what point does filling up everyone around you begin to leave you drained?  You can't fill from an empty cup as the saying goes.  If you are always on empty, how can you continually fill everyone else?  Truthfully, you can't.  You do your best and just carry on.  But at some point you need to stop, slow down, and refuel.

It is through the filling up everyone else around and forgetting about yourself that we begin to loose some of who we are.  What are your passions?  What are you dreams?  What fuels you up?  What do you need?  Who are you as a person?

These are just some questions that have run through my mind over the years.  You see, I have always wondered what my strengths are, what are my hobbies, if I didn't teach what would I do, and the questions just keep going.  Rolling around in my mind.

I had lost my sense of me, who I was.  All to often, I would be the person that those around me wanted me to be (or I perceived they wanted).  Hiding me, placing a facade on.  And when becoming a mom, I began to wonder more who I was.  Why?  Because so many times I would start talking with other moms and they would introduce themselves as a (fill in the blank) mom: crunchy mom, helicopter mom, and the list goes on.  I began to compare myself, my parenting, where I was at to those around me.  Comparing my inside, to their outside while trying to find and build connections, friendships with others - for my kids and for myself.

Through it all I began to lay aside the things that really made me who I was and I missed doing.  Like photography, being creative, writing.  As time has gone by, I was beginning to realize that I was not the mom I wanted to be.  Too much yelling in the house, too much overwhelm trying to get to do lists done, too much trying to fill the schedule busy because I saw that worked for others, too much just hoping and waiting for the next nap time the next bedtime, too much loss (in my mind) of self worth and value.

As I began to feel less value, my impatience and frustration grew.  Always exhausted from keeping up with two kids and changing seasons in parenthood, lack of quality sleep, feeling like I had an every mounting to do list,  carrying the weight of my many emotions and those around me (especially my kids) I began to feel depleted in all areas of life.  And it started to show.

I knew something needed to change and it had to start with me.  So I decided to take an Abundant Mama Project course.  It had been on my bucket list since I started following Shawn through Facebook and her blog.  But I had always kept putting it off and finding excuses.  In February when I hit my breaking point of needing to change something, this course came back into mind.  At the time when I signed up, there was also a bonus trial couple of months in the Peace Circle that she created to continue the work from the Abundant Mama course.

Each day I was emailed that day's lesson and activity to work on.  I will admit, some days I didn't get the work done, but that was okay because at some point I would catch up and continue to work through it.  After completing it, the work continued in the Peace Circle where the year has an overall theme to it, as well as a monthly theme.  Abundant Mama had me digging in and opening up, but I knew that I needed to go deeper, open up more.  So I have been a part of Peace Circle for two months at this point.

Things have began to fall into place, I am more ease and flow in the day.  I can be more flexible and bendy.  I am taking who I am and incorporating it into my day to day, finding dreams, and still going on adventures.  I am able to refuel and help refuel those around me, especially my family.  I can teach and still be a mom.  I can do my writing, my photography, my creative projects and help my kids grow their passions to as they see me grown mine.  I can treat myself and my health as a priority, and keep the kids health a priority.  I can find a better balance in my day, so that I can help create a better balance and flow in our days.

Sure, I am still working on it.  Just like knowledge, we are never done learning.  But I also know I can take a solid step forward, knowing who I am and who I am is okay.

If you are interested in the Abundant Mama Project course, you can find out more about it here: https://www.abundantmama.com/abundant-mama-project/

Just know that it is home study now.  So, you get all the lessons at once to work through, instead of it being emailed to you daily.  It is still worth the investment in you.  Like it says, motherhood can be overwhelming.  But you can find a good solid footing to start where you are, move forward, and always have a spot to come back to if needed to reset.


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Combining the Love of the Norht Shore With a Rock Collection



My kids love rocks. Rocks to climb on, rocks to hold, rocks to load, rocks to save, rocks to try to skip across the water.  Any size, color, shape.  It doesn't matter, they love rocks and our collection in the house keeps growing.

My oldest has random rocks he has collected on a shelf in his room that generally sit there.  But every now and then he pulls down his favorites to look at them or place in it's own spot in a different area of his room.  He has such a fascination for rocks.

My youngest has some he has collected.  One he calls his turtle rock because it reminds him of a turtle shell and a penguin because well, it is shaped like a penguin.  He generally picks up a rock and either plays with it outside or brings one into the house every now and then.

Both kids have jars from a trip last Summer of rocks they collected along Lake Huron.  I have rocks set out near the kitchen sink and in my room that were given as gifts to me from oldest.

On a recent trip to the North Shore we walked along one of the beaches in hopes of finding some neat rocks, maybe some sea glass, and just be closer to the water.  My oldest enjoyed looking at rocks, tossing them into the lake and trying his hand at creating his own rock stack.  He kept a few that he like most.  My youngest just picked some as he went along and filled a bag until I said enough, tossing rocks in the water, and touching the water.  I gathered some because they look unusual or like ones I hadn't seen before, and also looked for rocks to create a couple of dragonfly projects.

So now, we are left with a bunch of rocks.  Some smaller we have decided to polish up and see what happens.  But the bigger ones and the rest of the little, what to do?  We decided on the ones too small from the kids' collections to get a cool jar to hold them for in their rooms.  The bigger ones we used to make rock stacks.  Each kiddo has one and I have a couple too.

We placed the kids' rocks outside to see when we come and leave, mine are in our bathroom.  It is a fun way to connect the love of rocks, the North Shore, our memories from the trip, and our day to day.


It is a quick and easy project to put together too.  All I did was use hot glue to hold them together.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Seasons Change, I Changed, & Reminders From a 5 Year Old

So as February began to come to close I started realizing some things.

My attitude and mood most days was landing me promptly on my butt in the land of bitter and sour.  When my wake up started out there, it was hard to climb out of that.  Most days I was hovering near that close edge, that line of in-between.  The one where even the simplest thing could make thoughts and attitudes sway way to quickly. 

I have come to understand that I do not like all aspects that come with motherhood.  I do love my kids and what they bring to our family and my life.  But there are just some aspects I don't like.  I had been under the impression for too long that by not liking the aspects meant that I was not good a being a mom. 

I have been given this job, this job of of being a mom.  Just like with other areas of life, we like certain things and we dislike other things.  This is a part of who we are.  And just because we may not like a part of something of the bigger picture, doesn't mean a whole we love it any less.

I knew some things needed to change and those changes first had to start with me.  I tend to get too inside my head and loose sight of what is in front of me.  I tell myself something over and over, it becomes so real to me, but in the grand scheme of things, it is just not the case.

I am my own worse critic.  Truly, I am.  I see all the mistakes, failures, expectations not met, dreams fall flat, and so on.  Sometimes those things, well those things become my inner voice...good or bad, that is what seems to happen.  And then I compare me to what I see on the outside of others around me.

I have lost sight of me...Liz.  I have lost sight of Liz.  My purpose, my value, my worth.  Who I am, where I am supposed to, is it all enough, am I enough, what are my strengths (yes, I know there are weaknesses too, but I tend to focus all to much on those lately.). 

Most days I feel like I can't even put two thoughts together let along get two words into a conversation before something pulls my attention away.  I haven't gotten my fingers to the keys to write often.  I get ideas of what to write or post about, but by the time I can actually get to it, the moment has passed and it seems to late.  Even then, I sometimes still go back and try to play catch up on ideas and posts because it doesn't feel right to let them blow away in the wind.

I add on stress load after stress load onto myself.  And then it becomes that everything feels like a stress load.  Oh, and if I have to lay something down I feel so much guilt from it.

Add in the seemingly long Winter weather already and the need for green and warm breezes.

All these things have added up.  I knew it was time to take a step in a different direction and really begin to dig down deep.  Dig deep and begin to release.  Not an easy task sometimes.

But with the help of taking the Abundant Mama Program, I began to build a toolbox to help me work through all this and more.  The course was three weeks long.  I will tell you that it is just what I needed to help reset my direction, perspective, and it has given me so much more.

I am going to begin to share about it all, along with hopefully much more in other areas of life from creative projects, adventures, day to day life, and whatever else this new season brings.

My son helped me remember the other day that there are some things we are good at and some things we aren't.  We are always learning, no matter our age.  We need to keep trying and despite the hard things and the mistakes, we can still focus on the good parts too.

All this from a 5 year old.  Sometimes, we just need to have a long talk with a kiddo to be reminded of the important things. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Letter of the Week ~ X


 Recognize upper and lower case letter
  • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
Activity
  • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
  • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
Adventure
  • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
    • I will be honest, I was not able to come up with a place to visit that started with the letter X.  But maybe near you there is a fun adventure place waiting for you to try out.
Art
  • X-Ray
    • Trace your kiddo's arm and hand onto black paper
    • Glue on q tips on the fingers and wrist area
You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Letter of the Week ~ Y


Recognize upper and lower case letter
  • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
Activity
  • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
  • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
Adventure
  • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
    • Yard~ go play outside in the yard.  I know, it sounds simple, but we are finally getting snow away and we can play more longer outside in the warm sun and not be in snow.
Art
  • Yellow Collage
    • My oldest's favorite color is yellow, so we collected yellow things and added them to a paper.
    • You could cut out a y letter shape and glue on to the letter
    • Or you could put the items in between two pieces of contact paper, squish it together, hang up in the window for a stain glass.
You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Letter of the Week ~ V


Recognize upper and lower case letter
  • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
Activity
  • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
  • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
Adventure
  • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
    • Vacation!  I add this because even if it's a stay-cation, you can still create a mini vacation.  I also know that it's Spring Break time and people are traveling more.
    • Visit someplace new
Art
  • Volcano
    • Cut out brown bottom part of volcano from paper
    • Add lava colors out the top and down the sides...for added fun, use glue and add glitter or glitter glue
    • Using cotton balls blue above to look like cloud of smoke
You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Letter of the Week ~ W


Recognize upper and lower case letter
  • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
Activity
  • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
  • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
Adventure
  • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
    • Walks ~ finally getting into more Spring like weather, so we are going on more walks again
Art
  • Watermelon
    • Using have a sheet of paper, draw outlines of a giant watermelon slice
    • Let the kiddos color it in, add seeds by cutting out seed shapes from black paper
You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Letter of the Week ~ F


Recognize upper and lower case letter
  • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
Activity
  • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
  • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
Adventure
  • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
    • Farm
    • Forests
    • Fort Building
Art
  • Flower Gardens
    • Give a blank piece of paper and have the kiddos draw a flower garden
    • Make flowers using coffee filters and using pipe cleaners for the stems
    You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

    Thursday, April 5, 2018

    A Change, A Catalyst, A Step Forward

     
    7 years ago I found myself at a spot that I never thought I would be.  We wanted to start a family.  I found out just before Christmas 2010 that I was pregnant.  At the end of January we lost our daughter, 17 weeks into the pregnancy. 

    No sooner had we found out and started dreaming on being a family of three, names, nursery stuff, went maternity shopping with my mom, even received a few baby items at Christmas, found out we were due within one day of my brother and sister in law...we found no heart beat and the doctor told me our baby had expired.

    Those words, that day, will forever will be imprinted in my mind, in my heart.  So will the following Friday, my birthday.  For every birthday card I opened, I opened a sympathy card.  The next day, we had a service and burial for our daughter.

    I turned to writing.  Just in a journal, but it was my outlet, my way of trying to work through all that was happening.  From that came My Infant Loss.  A site I created filled with resources I found helpful throughout my journey and my writings on the blog part.

    From it all, Samantha has been a catalyst for many things.  Samantha's Dragonfly was created from it and has since been passed onto 100s of other people.  She taught me a lot about life, a lot about death, a lot about my husband, my marriage, friendship, and myself. 

    As time went by, I wrote less and less on the site.  Then, I got pregnant again and had our first son in 2013.  After that, I didn't go back to the site and moved my writings over to here, My Mama Side.  It seemed to a better fit for the direction my path was heading.

    Some of what I learned had gotten placed far back after having one son and even more so after having our second son.  After my second son I faced high anxiety and post-partum depression.  My doctor (not the one we had when we were pregnant with Samantha) said it was no wonder.  With all that we had been through with pregnancies, c-sections, being a mom of two little kiddos, and all the other twists and turns life sends your way, it all made sense to her.  She said it was okay.

    Even up until more recent, I haven't felt much myself.  The one I knew deep down.  Always hard on myself and it starting to rub off on those around me.  I was frustrated with myself and impatient, so I began to get impatient with those around me as well.  The constant louder volume led to more raised voices and yelling at times.  Any little trip up I felt I faced led me to eating my emotions and inner self negative talk, never feeling good enough. 

    I have tried many things since the Fall.  Attempting to take the things I make creatively and sell them, even creating websites and Facebook pages to go with them.  Starting a group on Facebook for other moms and us to build connections through meeting up a different places around the city.  Reading books on specific topics in relation to what I was thinking and feeling.  Trying to figure out other's perception of me to figure out myself better.  Spending money when I probably shouldn't have.  Stepping out and joining a focus group of a favorite author of mine.  Being a part of a book launch team.

    If I am to be honest....it all has flopped.  I closed down those businesses I tried to get going.  I closed down the mom's group on Facebook after repeatedly posting activities and meet ups only to find that it was just my kiddos and I that would show up.  The  books, while good, I can't remember a whole lot from them...partially because it would take me so long to read one and partially because it was only dealing with the surface of things.  I wasn't looking truly at what was right in front of me.  The focus group has been hit or miss, a great experience to go through and got to help create some cool things (like Flirt Alert).  But I realized that I didn't really have much value added into the group most of the time.  Oh, and the book launch?  Great book, but the only reason I am guessing that I was a part of that was because the more people on the team, the more the book would get out there and noticed.

    From it all, I learned I needed to work on my prayer and quiet time.  But it still wasn't enough.  I was in a spot, that I don't know how I got to, where most days I couldn't wait for bedtime to come, that I needed to be out of the house with the kids, all things led to battles and negative behaviors seemed to be growing as quickly as the yelling was increasing.  It felt like so much was just unraveling and I didn't know where to start or how to get things back to an overall peace.

    I realized that so much of it and the dynamics stemmed from me.  The lack of sleep, strong emotions, carrying my own load and the load of everyone around me, striving for the unrealistic perfect, bad eating habits, and an entirely too long Winter all added to the constant spiral I was in.

    But how do you get out?  I have been creating a mental bucket list.  Things I want to do, classes I want to take, places to visit, sights to see, etc.  Do you have a bucket list?  What is on yours?

    One of the things that has been on my bucket list for awhile and kept being put on the, well, someday list, was a class called "The Abundant Mama Project" by Shawn Fink.  I have started her book "Savoring Slow" and liked what I read, but have not actually managed to finish it yet.  I have followed her on her blog through email and Facebook.  Her class has been something I wanted to sign up for. 

    With all that I have had going on and through my mind, I decided that someday needed to happen sooner.  I signed up for the class at the end of February.  I am so glad that I have and going forward I will write more about it.  I would highly recommend signing up for it, but at the end of March, she retired the program.  But hopefully something is in the works so that going forward, the lessons are still accessible to other moms, in a different format. 

    I learned a lot about myself going through the class, remember some of the stuff I learned after we lost Samantha, and found me.  I found the me that I know, the one that deep down had gotten left behind, forgotten about, the one God made me to be.

    Through it all, things have changed and a newer perspective is emerging.  There is more peace within me and more peace around me.  No life isn't calm and sure there is stuff that still needs work, but things are changing and going more smoothly (usually).

    I mentioned that Samantha was a catalyst earlier.  While going through the Abundant Mama Project, I found this come back to me again.  You see, the My Infant Loss side of stuff was coming due for renewal.  I had some decisions to make about what direction to go with it and what direction I wanted to go in.  For nearly 5 years I had been renewing the site without thought, just because I felt I should.

    She is my daughter, always will be and I love her and nothing will change that.  A part of me had thought that by giving up the site I was giving up on her.  With a new perspective, I understand and realize that she is the reason for the site, the site is not her and letting go of the site doesn't mean I am letting go of her.  I can set the site down and take a step forward on this path using what I know from it, what I learned and give myself a firmer footing on the ground. 

    Laying down some of the load that I have been carrying has been a blessing beyond words and they are the stepping stones that make up my life.  Working through the Abundant Mama Project is the beginning of the work I needed to move forward, instead of treading water.  I am not sure where this will all lead,  and I do know there is more I need to continue to do, but I do feel a peacefulness within me that I haven't felt for a very, very long time.

    Friday, March 30, 2018

    Letter of the Week ~ L


    Recognize upper and lower case letter
    • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
    Activity
    • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
    • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
    Adventure
    • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
      • Library ~ so many to choose from, such a great resource, go for a story time or to just explore and maybe find some new books to read
    Art
    • Ladybugs
      • Using coffee filters color on them using washable markers.  You can do read, or think outside the box and make other colors or tie dyed.
      • Spritz with water until colors start to run.
      • Let dry and add details the black head, the line down the middle and black spots.  Add google eyes too if you have them for a little more fun.
    You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

    Wednesday, March 28, 2018

    Mom ~ A Mix of Motherhood and Love


     
    When the quiet is defining and you get lost in your thoughts, listening to your heart and your inner you...

    My youngest, still asleep. My oldest, playing in his room.

    I stand in relative quiet in the kitchen. The only sounds I can hear...the fridge, the clock, the birds, and the cars

    Outside is snowing

    I listen and watch the birds

    Looking around the house are pops of Spring color.

    I get to thinking and listening to my heart...

    I am a mom...motherhood is hard, messy, and imperfect, but has a lot of fun, adventure, and wonderful moments too.  My personality has a hard time with the messy and imperfect side of things.

    Through it all, I still love my kids and I wouldn't trade what I have for anything.  I am blessed to be able to stay home with my kiddos.  To watch them grow, to learn, to be the awesome kids that they are.

    A friend of mine once said, "there are two parts to being a mom...Motherhood and the love for your kids".  You can watch her video on it over on YouTube at https://youtu.be/s8bnP1S-XPo

    Here's my take away from it and what got me thinking more on this whole parenting thing.

    Your love for you kids will never, ever change.  No matter how tough things get, no matter their age, no matter the life season you are in...it will not change the love you have for your kids.

    Motherhood~ all the ups, downs, and in-between, the good days the tough days, the simple days the busy days, the positive behaviors the negative, the successes and wins, the mistakes and failures, the discipline, the smiles the tears ~ all of that and more ~ the day to day.

    Two parts with an easy line in between that gets blurred sometimes, especially when you add in emotions, energy, sleep (or lack there of), and more. We moms know that we love our kids and we know that sometimes we don't like parts of motherhood.  Though, most of us will not say anything about the parts we don't like. On the surface it feels like if there is some aspect of motherhood we dislike than it is a reflection on our love for our kids.  But deep down and in reality, that is not the case.  Motherhood and our love for our kids can be separated into two parts.  And it is okay to not like motherhood at times sometimes.

    We love our kids.  We always have, always will, always do.  We may not love some of their choices, behaviors, aspects of motherhood, but our love for our kids will still be there.  If we can find a way to recognize these two pieces of being a mom, we can attempt to separate them into the areas they are for what they are. 

    Easy?  No, not always.  But with time and practice, we can begin to recognize the difference.  We can learn to accept that motherhood isn't always something that we like, but through it all we love our kids.   Our love remains strong, we learn more about our kids, and we can connect more deeply.  But also we can lay down some of the weight on our shoulders.

    Life is messy and imperfect.  There are going to be days that run smoothly and days that run rough, and days that run somewhere in between.  We may not like some parts of motherhood some days, but love it later or look back on it fondly or accept it as something we don't like.  And that is okay.  All of it.

    Through it all, we love our children for who they are and who they are becoming.  They are forever a part of us, no matter how old they are.

    You got this mama!

    Tuesday, March 27, 2018

    Been a Bit Too Long



    Hi All!

    It's Spring here in Minnesota and has been for about a week.  But now it is starting to feel more like it.  The robins have returned, the weather says 50 this weekend, if there isn't mud and puddles everywhere it is potholes. 

    It is a great time of year!

    I know I have been a bit M.I.A. for the past few months.  I have lots of ideas to write on, but when I could get my fingers to the keys the time had passed by too far.  Generally, I try to write what is currently going on, going through, etc.  So, if too much time goes by, I don't write it out.

    Lots has happened behind the scenes and lots to share. 

    My homeschool letter of the week lessons have been posting as I decided to write out the ones to come yet and catch up on the ones I missed.  I realized I put too much weight into trying to get something letter of the week posted about.  We still are doing letter of the week, but it doesn't always involve an art project or an activity or adventure.  It was great, in theory, when I came up with the lesson ideas back in September.  But as the year went by, I realized that even my art loving kiddo, didn't enjoy doing a letter of the week art project.  Nor did we know what to do with them all when done (times 2 projects, if my youngest decided to join in).  We have now look at what the letter focus is and just utilize learning about it throughout the week.  It is a great car ride activity to play I Spy using specific things that start with the letter or even just see how many words we can think of.  For now, it works and it works best for where we are at. 

    I have recently finished a class, Abundant Mama Program, which has left me with a lot more to share about, along with some ideas for others to try out.  It was a great, much needed, self care, perspective changer for me.

    Some of you know about my previous blog, My Infant Loss.  As the website is coming due for renewal I have begun to take a different phase and direction with it.  I am laying it down, as a stepping stone of sorts, and taking the next step on this journey.  It has been moved over to www.myinfantloss.wordpress.com, for now at least.  I have no plans on adding anything more to it going forward.  I will also be closing down the Facebook group that goes along with it.

    In the next weeks I am going to be posting fun things, creative projects, changes, happenings in the moment, digging in deep and tugging at the heart a little, and connecting with the moment.

    Thanks for sticking around and I hope you continue on this journey along with me!

    Friday, March 23, 2018

    Letter of the Week ~ O


    Recognize upper and lower case letter
    • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
    Activity
    • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
    • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
    Adventure
    • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
      • Sea Life Aquarium: You get to learn all about ocean animals
    Art
      • Ocean Scene
        • Draw onto card stock paper an ocean scene with crayon
        • Then with blue water color, or tinted blue water with food color, or very, very, very thinned out blue paint, paint over entire ocean scene 
        • Watch as you go along how the paint won't stick to crayon, but you still get an ocean colored background.
      You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

      Friday, March 9, 2018

      Letter of the Week ~ Z



      Recognize upper and lower case letter
      • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
      Activity
      • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
      • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
      Adventure
      • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
        • Zoo:  We have to awesome zoo choices nearby.  It may be too chilly for some animals to be outside, but you can still visit them usually.
      Art
      • Zebra or Zoo Scene
        • Draw, trace, or cut out the letter Z shape.
        • Draw on stripes, a nose, ears, eye, and some hair
        •  Draw a picture of the zoo you visit or a zoo scene
        • Picture found on Pinterest

      You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

      Friday, February 23, 2018

      Letter of the Week ~ J


      Recognize upper and lower case letter
      • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
      Activity
      • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
      • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
      Adventure
      • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
        • Just Jump: A trampoline park to jump around
      Art
      • Jelly Fish
        • Draw a J on the paper
        • Outline the jellyfish head
        • Add crinkly paper to make the tenticles
        • Googles eyes too for some extra fun
        • Picture found on Pinterest
      You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

      Friday, February 16, 2018

      Letter of the Week ~ U


      Recognize upper and lower case letter
      • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
      Activity
      • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
      • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
      Adventure
      • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
        • Underwater World: It is an aquarium to visit
      Art
      • Umbrella
        • Make the top of an umbrella shape (color and decorate)
        • Make a lower case u at the bottom of a blank piece of paper
        • Glue umbrella shape to top of paper
        • Draw line connecting the two parts to make the rest of the umbrella
        • Picture found on Pinterest
      You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

      Friday, February 9, 2018

      Letter of the Week ~ Q



      Recognize upper and lower case letter
      • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
      Activity
      • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
      • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
      Adventure
      • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
        • What ideas do you have? We just went to some of our favorites places as I couldn't come up with something that started with a Q.
      • Quilt
        • Using the letter Q shape on paper glue on tissue paper or construction paper cut into squares to make it look like a patchwork quilt.
        • Picture credit to Pinterest

      You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

      Monday, February 5, 2018

      Letter of the Week ~ B



      Recognize upper and lower case letter
      • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
      Activity
      • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
      • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
      Adventure
      • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
        • Beach
        • Too cold for a beach? create an indoor beach
      Art
      • Butterfly Stained Glass
        • Layout clear contact paper double the size of your butterfly template
        • Cut out a butterfly shape, using the wings to form the letter b shape
        • Peal contract paper baking off, place butterfly outline on one side of the contact paper, then press tissue paper into the wing area
        • Fold over the contact paper, trim around shape leaving a border of contact paper
        You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

        Letter of the Week ~ D



        Recognize upper and lower case letter
        • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
        Activity
        • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
        • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
        Adventure
        • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
          • We had a really cold snap in temperature and the kids didn't want to go anywhere, so we just turned on some music and danced around
        Art
        • Dinosaur Scene: My oldest got a giant bucket full of craft supplies for Christmas and there were foam dinosaur stickers in it.  So he used the stickers and then added some more details.

          You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

          Letter of the Week ~ G



          Recognize upper and lower case letter
          • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
          Activity
          • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
          • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
          Adventure
          • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
            • Gardens ~ We have a beautiful conservatory that has many different garden types and that is a great place to visit.
          Art
          • Gumball Machine
            • Cut out the bottom shape of a gumball machine and the top.
            • Cut out a bunch of circles
            • Draw a circle shape onto clear contact paper onto contact paper double in size.  Stick the circles on to the sticky side. 
            • Fold over.  Cut out circle shape
            • Glue bottom shape and top shape to contact paper circle

          You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

          Tuesday, January 30, 2018

          Moms, We Can Be Brave ~ We Can Raise Heroes


          I have been looking into deepening my faith, helping my kiddos to develop theirs, and setting aside my fears.  That is when the book "Brave Moms, Brave Kids: A Battle Plan for Raising Heroes" by Lee Nienhuis came into the picture.

          Back in November I was offered the chance to be a part of the book launch team.  I jumped at the chance to read along with other moms from across the country, some with itty bitty kiddos, some with grown up kiddos, some with grand kids.

          Through reading the book, being a part of book discussions and utilizing the free resources that come with pre-ordering the book I have been able to grow on what I wanted in my faith and can begin helping my kiddos grow theirs.

          (click here to pre-order, but do it fast because the freebie resources end today January 30, 2018 http://leenienhuis.com/brave-moms-brave-kids/?utm_content=buffer24bee&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer#preorder )

          Despite how mom life goes, and well life with some major holidays from November until the first of the year and kids being sick, I was able to finish the book this past Friday.  I will admit, it took me longer than I had hoped, but with life things are unpredictable.  I also spent a lot more time taking in the first part, the part all about fear.

          From the book I learned a new perspective on fear.  Fear is a gift given to us from God.  But, as Lee says "it is the enemy that takes it and turns it into anxiety, guilt, worry".  Realizing this has helped me change my perspective on those strong emotions and slowly begin to learn how to control them or in all honest, recognize them.  Then I can process them and figure out what is behind it.  Pray about it and let it go.

          Lee has taught ways to deepen my prayer and how to teach my kids that.  Sure, we say grace and my kiddos say the "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" prayer.  As my kids are growing we have added in talking about what we are thankful for each day and who we want to pray for, as well as what else we need to add to prayers depending on the season we are in.  But my oldest has been doing the prayer for the past almost 5 years.  He does it from memory (while rolling on the floor or skipping around his room).  After going through the book, I know now how to equip them and teach them to pray and pray more deeply.

          As mamas we are models.  Monkey see, monkey do.  We can talk, we can teach, but where are kids are more likely to follow is in our actions, in our literal footsteps.  "Modeling faith begins with our children catching us believing God".

          Believing God, is the first part of being BRAVE.  Then we move into R: Reflect, A: Ask Forgiveness, V: Vigilantly Pray, E: Equip Them.

          We work through the first part, our kids catch us and catch on, we can then equip them.  What better way to show kids about forgiveness than to be the one to go first.  Apologize when something goes wrong, when mistakes are made, emotions are off, when you are impatient, when you don't truly listen.

          If you think about it we are warriors.  We face battles every day.  From inside forces in ourselves to outside forces (the ones within others around us) to outside forces beyond the walls of our house out in society.  What armor are you putting on and how are you taking your stand?

          After reading the book, I am finding myself praying differently and more deeply.  Though I still do bullet prayers throughout the day.  I start my day off with a scripture and prayer to go with.  Then to end the day I give praise to God, give my thanks, ask him what I need, and close it out.  I also do a special prayer over each kiddo each morning.  I am hoping to start changing up my kiddos nightly prayer time to follow a similar path.

          I am starting to memorize scripture and turn more to it when I feel in over my head or my emotions and anxiety run higher.  I have these awesome brave cards with a scripture on one side and prayer on the other.  I use one at a time, right now each relating to the letters of BRAVE until it feels right in my heart to move to the next letter.  When I am done with those, I have a stack of cards I can just pick my way through.

          The picture above is from our vacation.  Hubby was driving and I was reading, kiddos were watching a DVD.  Yes, it is flagged.  I flagged stuff I want to write on, add to a prayer journal, find a way to have it in my line of site every day.  My thoughts are scribbled in the margins.  There things underlined, asterisked, bracketed.  Questions I asked myself to think more deeply and to go back to afterward.

          If you are looking for a book to add to your reading list, make sure to add this one.  Pre-order now, by the end of today and get some awesome freebies.  Otherwise, the book is officially released on February 1st.

          You can head over to Lee's website to order.  Yes, you can order from Target and Amazon, as well as many other book store options (see Lee's page for more options for ordering).

          Here is Lee's page: http://leenienhuis.com/brave-moms-brave-kids/

          Here is an amzon link: https://www.amazon.com/Brave-Moms-Kids-Battle-Raising/dp/0736970037/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1517367156&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=brave+moms+brave+kids&psc=1

          Target: https://www.target.com/p/brave-moms-brave-kids-a-battle-plan-for-raising-heroes-paperback-lee-nienhuis/-/A-53233995#lnk=sametab


          This book has truly given me a diferent perspective on how to face the day and how to raise my kids all while having God as a part of our lives. Lee takes you through fear and anxiety, then works through what it truly means to be BRAVE, and finishes with how to take it into action and move forward with a plan for you, your kids, your family. 

          The book takes you into a deeper relationship with God and connects that with your kids through you. As moms we are warriors who face battles every day, in every form, from every direction. We need to stand, put on our armor, and be ready to face them through believing God, reflecting, asking forgiveness, vigilantly praying, and equipping our kids to do the same. As you read through the book you will read about real heroes, everyday heroes...not just ones found in the bible, but ones that Lee has come face to face with. We all have a true hero inside of us, let's raise our kids up to be BRAVE and to be true heroes.

          If you pick a copy to read, let me know your thoughts.

          Sunday, January 14, 2018

          Brave Moms, Brave Kids Book Giveaway




          Thank you all who entered the giveaway for Lee Nienhuis’ book “Brave Moms, Brave Kids”.

          Congratulations to the winner Carla!

          If you didn’t win, you can preorder the book still through Amazon, Target, Barnes & Noble.
          Check out Lee’s page for more information about preordering the book and other places you can order.

          http://leenienhuis.com/brave-moms-brave-kids/

          Tuesday, January 9, 2018

          Our Strengths vs. Our Weaknesses


          Let's talk about strengths.

          Do you know what your greatest strength is?  Could you list off your top three strengths?

          On the flip side...weaknesses.

          Do you know what your greatest weakness is? 

          Let's go a little deeper.

          Looking at each of your children:

          Can you list their top three strengths?  Can you identify a weakness of theirs?

          If I am asking for you to answer those questions, I need to turn the questions on to me to be fair.

          My strengths: compassion, creative eye,

          My weakness: I am very hard on myself

          T: creative, imaginative, observant/has a hard time using words first instead of actions

          A: strong, determined, helper/he is two, he gets stubborn sometimes

          Knowing the strengths and weaknesses within ourselves can help us to learn more about who we are and our tendencies.  It helps to grow and helps to understand deeper.  If we focus for too long on one end or the other it can leave us feeling unbalanced.

          As it goes with our kids.  If we focus on their weaknesses, they never continue to build on where their strengths are.  They won't be nurtured deeper.  But, if we only focus on their strengths, they don't learn to identify it, how to handle their weakness in a suitable way, to understand failure is a part of life and it is okay.

          We can't all be good at everything all the time.  And we can't all be good at the same things.  Our strengths and weaknesses do define us to one degree or another.  But they also shouldn't limit us either.  We need to know where we are strongest and be able to identify where we are weakest.  Because through our strength we can help others and fill in where they are weakest.  On the flip side, through our weaknesses, we can gain help from others who are stronger in the area.

          If you want a chance to win a copy of the book "Brave Moms, Brave Kids" by Lee Nienhuis comment below by answering the questions:
          What is your greatest strength? What is your greatest weakness?
          or
          What is your child's greatest strength? What is your child's greatest weakness?

          And then head over to the "Brave Moms, Brave Kids" Book Giveaway blog post to enter.

          "Brave Moms, Brave Kids' Book Giveaway


          Starting today, Tuesday, January 9 at 3 p.m. you can enter to win a FREE copy of Lee Nienhuis's book "Brave Moms, Brave Kids".

          Just use the entry form below to get your entries in

          The contest ends on Friday, January 12 at 11:59 p.m.   A winner will be picked randomly Saturday and when the book is released a copy of the book will be shipped to the winner.

          I will notify the winner by email and also announce it on my website.

          You can enter the book giveaway below


          "Brave Moms, Brave Kids" by Lee Niehuis Book Giveaway

          Monday, January 8, 2018

          B: Believe God


          The first letter in the word Brave.  The start of turning moms into every day heroes and helping them realize this truth.  After working through fear and anxiety, learning that God did in deed give us fear, but it is the enemy who takes it and turns it into anxiety, I have begun to create a more solid foundation in which I can build my faith understanding on.

          Believing God, not just believing in God, but truly, wholeheartedly believing God. 

          Our lives are filled with ups and downs.  It is like Andy Andrews says "Well, if you think about it, the reality is that we’re all either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis, or headed for a crisis. It’s just part of being with us on this planet.".  These crisis are our battles.

          We face battles every day all day long.  We face them so often that we tend to pass through them without noticing, without knowing, because they have become such a part of our life that we no longer act on instinct, but we act on habit.

          For example, the first time your kid throws an all out tantrum.  It doesn't matter where you are, you try to diffuse it as quickly as you can.  But at a certain age, tantrums become commonplace.  As they happen often enough you learn the warning signs one is coming, how to handle them and work through them, and how to work towards putting an end to them altogether. 

          The in between time becomes a battle with emotions.  You are trying to help them work through them in the best way possible so they can learn how to work through them on their own, at some point.  But in the meantime, you are , in a sense, in war mode, battle mode. 

          You may be in the trenches each day, but there will come a time when you all crawl out onto the other side stronger, more courageous, filled with hope ready to face the next battle that comes.  Some battles are easier to face than others.  Some are shorter than others.  Those bigger ones, we come out with a stronger warrior in us.  The littler ones, those prepare us for the bigger ones.

          God doesn't give us more than we can handle.  Though at times it seems like it is too much, especially when the battles are much bigger.  It was never said that things will always be easy and easy to navigate.  But what if in those harder times, when we feel we are sinking more than floating we turned to God and instead of believing in him, we believed him?  Wholeheartedly, mind, body, soul believed him.

          Like Lee says in the book: "It involves knowing our God and knowing His promises.  The difference between desert and bounty in our faith all hinges on one thing: our ability to believe God."

          How strong is your ability?  If I were honest, mine isn't as strong.  Yes, I believe in God, but I am learning more each day to believe God. 

          We can face our battles and we can become stronger.  Why?  Because, as Lee said, "Christ is infinitely stronger than the Enemy".  And because of it we can be stronger.  Likewise, so will our kids.

          We have two choices every morning we get up.  Even before our feet hit the floor, we have a decision to make.  Do we thank God that he is directing our day and commit ourselves to Him? Or do we allow all the pressures of the day, all the hazards of motherhood direct our thoughts?

          Which one will you choose? Either way, your kids will pick up on it.  If we believe God and we model it, our kids will see it.  And on the flip side, if we show our kids to that we are allowing all the pressures direct our thoughts, they will see it too.  Both will have a profound impact on them.


          What if before we leave our bed, we put on our armor for the day and ready ourselves.  Prepare for what we can, let God handle the rest, and lead our kids in a way where they can be heroes of the day too. 

          Big or small actions will snowball, and will have a lasting affect on those around us.

          BRAVE



          As many of you know I am blessed with being a part of a book launch team for the book "Brave Moms, Brave Kids" by Lee Nienhuis.

          As I have been reading, I have been sharing some of the insights and things I have learned or found helpful along the way.

          But I realized that I haven't mentioned much about the word BRAVE.  I did it in all caps because each letter represents an action to delve deeper. 

          I do need to say that the book has a way of connecting with God and growing deeper in your faith.  So if you are looking for a great book that helps you grow and show your faith so that your so that your kids can follow in your foot steps, it is a great book to add to your reading list.

          The book talks about BRAVE, raising heroes, and allowing us to face our fears.  Helping to lead this next generation to know and follow God as well. 

          Well, what does BRAVE mean?

          B: Believe God
          R: Reflect
          A: Ask Forgiveness
          V: Vigilantly Pray
          E: Equip Them

          The first four letters how us as moms work through this plan, and the last letter helps us prepare our kids.

          We face daily battles and so do our kids.  How do we prepare ourselves and them for those battles?  Walking through each of the letters, leading us to be brave, allows us put on our suit of armor so we can prepare.  It helps us get our kids ready.

          I have been looking to grow more spiritually and this book is helping me.  It goes beyond and deeper, building connections of understanding scripture, realizing the fears we have and why, changing the perspectives I have had on some things.

          As I go forward in the book, working through each letter of the word BRAVE, I will share more about my findings.

          I hope to bring you along on this journey with me.  Let you have an inside to the book and see if it would be a good fit for your reading list.  The book doesn't come out until February 1st, but you can pre-order it now and get some awesome freebies too.  I use some of the freebies in my daily quiet time.  I use the bookmarks with a focus on one letter at a time and I use the My Child Be Brave card to pray over my kids. 

          There are many things you can take away from the book while reading and carry it through your day, each day.


          Saturday, January 6, 2018

          Being a Mom & Feeding Your Kid ~ What Breastfeeding Taught Me


          Breastfeeding is hard.  Let's just put that out there.  Sure, there is a lot of convenience in it, but there are also a lot of inconveniences.  There are a lot of benefits to it, but there are also good alternative options too.  But why, whether we choose to breastfeed, pump, give formula, or some combination, as moms we feel judged, guilty, and worry about the decision.

          I breastfed both my kids.  With my oldest, we made it until 11 months.  His choice to stop.  I was told by many other moms that kids don't self wean.  He would most likely go back to it.  Not my kid.  He went on a strike for a week when he was 10 months old where he would latch just long of enough to make things flow and stop.  My only choice was to pump and give it to him in a sippy cup.  I wanted so much to keep nursing, because well you know, everyone pushes to breastfeed until at least a year old.

          But at 11 months he downright just stopped.  He wouldn't even let me pump.  I still did, just to adjust myself to being done.  When he turned 1, that was my last week leading up to his birthday.  I was done.  He had been so scheduled with his feedings it was actually easy to be physically done.  It was the emotional side that was hard.  But once we moved forward a couple of months the new freedom was refreshing.

          In one hand, I was relieved.  Because I was just pumping to wean myself and freezing the milk.  I had nowhere to go with it during the time.  Later, I did find someone I could donate it to.  In some ways it helped with the transition and knowing I could help someone out who needed it was a blessing.

          But on the other hand, I felt defeated.  I felt that my body had once again failed me.  I couldn't even make it he turned one.  And then after I watched friends make it to one and even continue.  I only wondered what was wrong with me, why did it end, and why had I failed.  I thought by having to stop early, he would be missing something.

          After the fact, I realized he was just fine and would continue to be.  I greatly appreciate our pediatrician because at the time she listed off my options going forward: keep pumping and give it to him in a cup, switch to formula, or switch to whole milk.  I asked her what she would honestly do (being a mother of many kiddos, I wanted her mom option, not her doctor one).  She said that she would just make the switch to whole milk.  Pump until I was weaned.  That way he only had to make the transition to something different once. 

          Now, my youngest on the other hand was a different story.  He went until he basically 14 months.  I was pleased with myself and ability, I had actually made it to one year, which made me feel that my body indeed didn't fail me again.  It was just that my kiddo was done when he wanted to be before.

          By the time he was three months old I was ready to be done.  I hated nursing.  I disliked it for having to use a shield again, but I hated it for the fact that my oldest hated every time I nursed.  It made it that much more stressful.  I used everything to distract him while I had to nurse that I could.  Even more so, as time went by, I was basically an open buffet 24 hours a day.  I went from having one kid with scheduled feedings because that is how he rolled, to having one who would just graze and eat whenever. 

          Still, I wanted to try my hardest to make it to age one.  I wanted to know it could be done.  It did finally get better because I could nurse at times when my oldest was distracted (like while out and about) or while he was sleeping.  And I managed to get off the shield early on, which as nice as it was to have, it was such a blessing to be done with it too. 

          Once he got to age one though, I thought how can I be done with this all.  Well, he had a plan for it.  He dropped multiple feedings quickly.  So quick I never had a chance to adjust to it all enough before he dropped the next one.  In just a few short weeks we went from over feedings a day to none.

          While the sense of freedom was much appreciated, I was a mess.  As much as I wanted to be, it didn't seem to go the way I had thought.  And even , now my oldest still tells me how much he hated when I nursed his brother.

          Having kids changes you more than we ever know sometimes.  And it really is different with each kid.  But I have to admit that even though we made it past age one the second time around I still felt like I had failed and did something wrong.

          I am not sure why exactly, but maybe it is because of the perceived judgment that many moms face.  We all too often compare our lives, our insides, our happenings to the others around us and their outsides.  And even when do open up in honesty, sometimes we get shut down quickly because we are told that can't happen. 

          My oldest, I was told they can't self wean and they don't just give it up, they will come back.  Well he did and he never came back.  My youngest, yup, he self weaned too.  Just in a different way than his brother, but he did it his way. 

          No matter how you choose to feed your kids, you do the best you can with what your resources are.  And sometimes, the bond and connection with your kiddo can be better if you make changes in how you feed them.  I was given the suggestion, well the okay, that if for the sake of my bond and connecting growing I needed to give up nursing before age one that is okay.  I had at least made it as far as I did.

          The words of encouragement far reached deeper than I could have imagined.  My doula was the one who said, if you need to sacrifice nursing in order to have a better connection with your child, then it is okay.  If you needed to end it because you needed to tend to the connection and relationship of your other child as well because it was all to stressful for everyone, than that was okay.

          We learn to adapt as our situations change.  What helps the most through it all are the words of encouragement someone else can give to you.  Or the words of me too.  At the time of nursing my youngest, my sister in law was nursing her youngest.  She felt the same way and wanted to be done early on too.

          But as moms we push through, help each other, and continue to do the best we can for as long as we can.

          Just know, that wherever you are in your parenting journey, wherever you are in your feeding journey do what is best for all that is involved.  That is what makes the difference in the long run.

          It is easy, it is hard.  It takes a lot of patience and time.  There is bond and growing time that comes from it.  Having your kiddo fall asleep while in your arms nursing is an amazing site. It's okay to want to be done and it doesn't matter how far you got you tried.  However your kiddo is getting milk will make them stronger and healthier is the best way.  You are stronger than you realize.  You can do this.

          Thursday, January 4, 2018

          Closing Out the Day ~ Setting Up an Evening Routine



          With every good morning routine and quiet time, there goes an evening/bedtime routine and quiet time.  The two together round out the day and can even make sleep easier and better quality.

          Just with rising at the same time most mornings, going to bed at the same time most nights is just as important if not more.  Having a consistent bedtime, makes getting up in the morning easier (and easier at the same time), sets your day up, and also can end in better overall sleep quality usually.

          I put as much focus into my evening and bedtime routine as I did into my morning one.  Going through the "Rise & Shine ~ 10 Challenge" from Shawn at Abundant Mama helped to guide me through creating this important routine too.

          After the kids go to bed, I do a final walk around and pick up.  I do any prep needed for the next day and catch up on emails and social media.  I try most nights to set aside technology an hour (roughly) before I plan to go to bed.  Though I will admit, most nights I do end up watching some t.v up until bed time.  I just try to limit my multitasking.  After emails and social media are done, I work through my Gratitude Journal, (This year) the Happiness Project Book, and then read my current book. 

          Head to bed, pray before I fall asleep, and hopefully fall asleep quickly.  If I can't fall asleep, I close my eyes and start listing off the blessings in my life.  Then I usually drift off to sleep and if the kids sleep well, generally so do I.

          I have found that I need the quiet time to start the day and to end the day. 

          How do you end the day?


          If you missed my post about Why I Rise Early and the quiet time routine I go through when I rise early click here.

          Why I Rise Early



          How do you start your mornings?

          Nowadays, I tend to rise early, at least as often as I can.  This hasn't always been the case.  I used to sleep in in any chance I got and even on work days/school days I would hit the snooze 2 or 3 (or more sometimes).

          As with age and time, we go through different seasons in our lives.  These all change and as they do, so does our need for sleep.  Add in kids to the mix and now your sleep schedule tends to be dependent on them.

          There is an importance to tuning into your body clock.  Finding that natural sleep rhythm helps days go more smoothly, you have more energy, and things just overall feel more balanced.  It is natural for us to rise with the sun and go to bed when it goes down.  But what do you do in the middle of the Winter in Minnesota when the sun doesn't wake until 8, but goes down at 4?  It makes it hard to keep that same rhythm.

          I have found that the time I naturally wake up (during months when the sun is up at a more reasonable time) is right around 6:00.  So during the shorter sun days, I set my alarm to help continue it.

          Beyond getting up at the same time as often as we can, it can go a long way in the day by having a reason to get up.  Yes, kids are a reason, but when we are startled awake when we hear them, that changes things.  Having a reason to get up, to rise early, before the kiddos do makes getting up easier and you can ease into the day.

          For the longest time I would sleep until the last minute, quickly get ready for the day, and head out.  It went that way, day in and day out, that it became habit.  Then I had kids and my sleep schedule became dependent on them.  It wasn't until their sleep regulated, that I could go back and reset mine.

          I will be honest, in our house we are early to rise and early to bed.  My oldest, almost 5, starts his bedtime routine at 6:30 and is generally asleep around 7:30.  My 2 year old is 7:00.  But on the other end, both are up early, by 7 most days.  It works for us for many reasons and even more importantly it fits with their sleep rhythm the best.

          Now that both my kids have generally fallen into a more predictable sleep routine, I can reset mine.  I can regularly, with ease wake before the kiddos and gain some much needed quiet time to start the day.

          I have come to the conclusion of this:
          • If I choose to sleep in, it will leave me with less time to get ready for the day, less quiet time before the kids wake up.  Which, ever now and then is needed, but ultimately leads to feeling discombobulated if I let it happen too many days in a row.  Things just don't seem to run as smoothly, energy wears out quicker (patience sometimes too), and I am left unbalanced.
          • If I wake (and go to bed) consistently at the same time I feel like I have more energy, I get to have some longer quiet time, and have the time to get ready for the day.  The day seems less chaotic, I feel more ready for the day, and have energy (usually) to carry me through. 
          The flow of the day seems to be different either way I choose.  I choose to have the latter, where I wake more often (on my own) before the kiddos do.

          If you have a purpose to get up early, it makes it easier.  Turning over and starting to fiddle with your phone sifting through emails and social media probably isn't the best thing to do right away, but there are other ways you can ease into the morning.  Just save the technology until you are more awake.

          Making a morning routine out of it all, beyond getting ready for the day, can go along way.  But where do you start?

          I have done several things to get me started.  Reading and listening to Andy Andrews on the topic of rising early got me started years back, before kids.  But the "Rise and Shine~10 Day Challenge" from Shawn  was what I did, twice now since having kiddos.  Each time after my son's sleep schedule became more predictable.

          It is a free 10 day challenge where she sends tasks by email to complete to help set you up for success to rise early.  It all comes down to what you want your mornings to look like.  You can sign up for the challenge by clicking here.

          I finally got into a natural rhythm as we entered Fall.  I wanted to rise early as often as I could, to have some quiet time before the natural noises of the day take place once everyone wakes up.

          I knew I wanted to incorporate time with God each morning (and evening too) so I found a devotional that was a good fit.  I had come across the devotion "Sunset with God" years ago when it was gifted to me.  It has been by far my favorite one to read through.  So, I went with that and found a "Daybreak with God" version.

          I also began working through the book "Pressing Pause: 100 Quiet Moments for Moms to Meet with Jesus" by Karen Ehman and Ruth Scwenk.  This journal book offers a scripture, story, and a few questions to think on.  They are short and meant to do when you have a few minutes.  But you can also go deeper and take longer if you have the time.  I was blessed to be gifted this book.

          With the start of the new year, I am changing things up a little.  I still rise early, I get ready, I still maintain a focus on God, and I journal.  Then I run through emails and social media quickly.  If I have extra time or if an idea for my blog comes to mind or I need to write openly, I will write or at least jot down some notes so I can come back to it later depending on how much time I have.  Sometimes, if the thoughts are pressing, I save the emails and social media for later and write.


          I always keep a notebook next to me (a great idea I got from Jill Savage) to write down any wondering thoughts, things that needed to get done, or for some quick journaling on the side.  I also use the same notebook to take time to write out blog posts or at leas post ideas that come to my mind. I seem to be able to write better in the morning, but don't always have time to type it up.  So I jot down a few mental notes to help me remember so I can go back to it later in the day.

          But instead of using the devotion book and the pressing pause book, I am working through my Brave stuff.  What is Brave stuff?

          I got an amazing opportunity take part in a book launch team for "Brave Moms, Brave Kids".  When I received the book I received a "My Child Be Brave" card and Brave Bookmarks (where one side is verse and the other is a prayer).  I use one of the bookmarks as my focus for a period of time, reading through the verse and then doing the prayer.  I move onto the Brave card, then finish with the journal.

          My sister in law gave me the "Start Where You Are" journal for Christmas.  I am just a couple of pages into it.  I am trying to be intentional as I go through it  and seeing where it leads.

          I share this all with you, one because I want to share ideas of how one can rise early, even with having kiddos. And two, because I know it's hard to get started sometimes.  Sometimes we even have to start over and begin again.  So, I wanted to share how I have been managing it and working through it all.

          This year, I want to be more intentional with my time.  Those quiet moments are not only important self care, but they are important in the way I connect.  Connect with God, my family, myself, and the day.  To learn more about who I am and tap more into my heart.  To help move past the fear, the anxiety, and the negative self critical inside voice.

          So, how do you start your mornings? 

          With mornings, ending the day with a similar quiet time routine is a great way to settle into bed for the night.  If you want to read more on my evening routine click here.

          Wednesday, January 3, 2018

          Without Faith, It's Impossible


          I don't often talk about my faith or my faith journey.  To be honest, I feel so new to it and have felt I needed to learn more, connect more, find a deeper spirituality before I could feel like I had some knowledge.

          That's not to say that I don't believe in God, because I do.  It is just that my faith didn't start growing until I was in college.  Yes, I went to church growing up.  But after confirmation sports and school life took over, faith kind of took a back seat.  A seat at the dinner table when we said grace or in church on Christmas and Easter.

          I didn't get it.  Why the connection?  Why did we need it?  In fact (which I hate to admit) I even chuckled a little at those who had to get up early and head to church.  It wasn't until Freshman year of college that I began to feel something missing and a pull towards developing my faith more.

          As I started this journey, my boyfriend (now my hubby) told me how happy he was to have me going back to church and building my faith.  He wasn't sure how he would answer the kids one day when they asked "how come mommy doesn't go to church?"

          Yes, I know that faith and believing God goes beyond the church.  But the church can be a good foundational step on which things can be built.

          I began attending church, when I was back home.  Though I tried while at school, I just couldn't find the right fit or didn't quite feel comfortable.  But I did remember back to church camp how much I enjoyed evening vespers.  Sitting by the fire, reading scripture, answering questions, singing songs and occasionally being near the lake and hearing the waves on the shore as the sun began to set.

          To be honest, that sounds like the best way to go about church.  Though, when it's -15 below out in the middle of Winter in Minnesota...well I probably won't be sitting out by the fire and by a lake singing songs anytime soon with weather like that.

          What I did find while in college was the Newman Center.  Even better, was that it was located right across the street from my dorm room.  Every Wednesday found me there in the company of other college students, working through scripture, singing songs, reflecting, asking and answering questions, and more.

          With time I knew my faith began to deepen.  I have face some rough waters over the years, but God has been there and looking back, good has come out of it all.  But somehow, my spirituality moved to autopilot.

          It wasn't until recently that I began to rise early with a purpose.  That purpose was to spend some quiet time with God.  Through devotions, journaling that is based on bible verses, and prayer I began to refuel my spiritual tank.  Adding in a gratitude journal and some other journaling at night, along with reading books (especially ones that connected God, faith, motherhood) and prayers as I lay in bed have rounded out my day.

          My oldest has had a growing interest in God and bible stories, always asking questions.  And for a 4 year, he can ask some pretty tough questions.  But we work through them together, even surprising myself that I am able to answer sometimes.

          He now has a devotional we use in the morning to help guide him through the day.  And we have some really good books from the God Gave Us series that we pull from throughout the day.  He and his brother have been listening to Music Machine the car anytime we are driving somewhere.  It is their request and while sometimes I wouldn't mind the change (as we have been listening to them solidly since Summer) the lessons in the songs are important ones to learn.

          I tell you all this because recently I had an aha moment.  A connection made during my morning quiet time.  You see, for the past couple weeks I have been reading the book "Brave Moms, Brave Kids" by Lee Nienhuis.  When I got the book, it came with a few freebies.  One of the freebies were bookmarks.  Brave bookmarks.  5 individual bookmarks that are the essence of the book: Believe in God, Reflect, Ask Forgiveness, Vigilantly Pray, Equip Them.  On one side is a bible verse, the other a prayer.

          I made the decision that I would use one bookmark each week as a part of my morning quiet time.  Right now I am using the Believe bookmark as my focus.  I have been using it longer than a week, but that was because it didn't feel right to move to the next one yet.

          The verse is from Hebrews 11:6 "Without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek"

          Strong verse.  But it didn't hit me until I read it the other morning and after the umpteenth time of listening to music machine that I had an aha moment.  There is a song on one of the Cd's simply titled "Faith".  It starts out with the words "Without faith it's impossible...".

          That is when it all seemed to connect as I began to play the song in my head. Yes, without faith things do seem impossible.  But if we continue to have faith, to believe God, to grow our spirit the rewards are endless.  That is not to say that it will all be easy, it just means that even through the hard times, God is there and our faith can remain strong.

          If we refuel our spirit, we can help our kids to do the same.  When they are younger, we answer their questions as they come up and show them through us and our believing how to do the same.

          Here are the lyrics to the song:

          Faith

          From Music Machine - The Fruit of the Spirit (Available with full CD)

          Without faith it's impossible, it's impossible
          It's impossible to please God
          He who comes to God must believe that He is
          And He rewards those who seek Him

          All things are possible, all things are possible
          All things are possible. Just believe
          God will do everything that He says He will do
          And He rewards those who seek Him

          Without faith it's impossible, it's impossible
          It's impossible to please God
          He who comes to God must believe that He is
          And He rewards those who seek Him


          Sung by Frank Hernandez
          Written by Frank Hernandez & Sherry Saunders Powell
          ©Copyright 1977 Sparrow Song (a div. of EMI Christian Music Publishing)|(Admin. by BMG Music Publishing) Careers-BMG Music Publishing, Inc. (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)|(Admin. by BMG Music Publishing) Candle Company Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)|(Admin. by BMG Music Publishing)

          And if you want to listen to it, and it does actually have a catchy tune, you can listen here: