Say Cheese

End of school year pictures! I adore the idea of having all 3 kiddos together for a picture (truth be told we haven’t had a portrait of all the kids together in forever, in fact, the last time we did we only had two kids, haha!) and then have each child have their own as well. But there is no way my 3-1/2 year old would wait around for her sister and brother to get theirs’ done, especially when the pictures are being taken at a park that has a playground. She would literally bail on us and take off for the playground…God has blessed me with an extremely strong-willed and fearless child…3rd times a charm. Haha! Thus in an effort to hopefully achieve 3 awesome individual portraits and one of all 3 children together I am spacing it out in 3 trip. I realize it sounds crazy but it really is worth it. So today was our little Gracie girls’ turn. She was a hilarious. She did her own thing most of the time. She added a few jumps, dance moves, and flamboyant gestures.  But we just went with it and of course there was a little bribing towards the end…who wouldn’t smile for a cake pop, right!?  Thankfully we achieved a few successful pics and some that are just funny and basically capture her temperament at that moment. I am going to miss having a 3 year old around. Enjoy!

 

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And she wanted one of her with her favorite shoes….this girl cracks me up. Haha!

 

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So, how often do you get your child’s picture taken? What about family portraits? That’s another one we are past due on….I was pregnant in our last one, with the 3-1/2 year old.

A Faith of Their Own: An Experience Guide for Parents & Preteens

I was elated when I received an email offering me the opportunity to review the book, A Faith of Their Own: An Experience Guide for Parents & Preteens. Why? Because this book isn’t like all the other books, this book is one that is engaging, interactive, and encourages dialog about our faith. It is an experience guide for parents and preteens. So, what did I think? Did it meet, or even exceed my expectations? Here is my review of our travels through the experience guide, A Faith of Their Own.

My first observation was that the guide was organized nicely and user-friendly. The experience guide is broken into 52 experiences, one for each week of the year. Each experience is then further broken down into five sections,

  • Prayer: Open Up to God Together
  • Scripture: Dive into God’s Story Together
  • Experience: Do Something Practical Together
  • Debrief: Process What You Experienced Together
  • Journal: Write Out Your Takeaways Together

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But before you delve into the guide there are two quick words, one to parents and one to preteens. Each truly captures where most preteens and parents are this day and age and they speak truth in a none-confrontational, compassionate way.  They are honest and upfront about the fact that…”If you want your son or daughter to take seriously what’s in the pages that follow, you’ll need to actually pray and read scripture-not just for them but also for you. If those are new habits, take a step of courage and boldly try them on for size. Even if you feel awkward…you can expose your preteen to how following God is a growth curve for everyone, even you.” Thus, this guide not only encourages preteens to grow in their faith but also many parents who may have gotten lost somewhere along the way. It should also be noted that the language, context, and experiences in the guide are appropriate for parents who have been journeying with faith all their life or those who are just beginning their journey. There are no perquisites required in order to understand and enjoy this experience guide which is very refreshing.

 

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
(2 Timothy 3:14-15)

 

Another aspect of the guide I found to be quite refreshing and appreciative was the preparation notes at the beginning of each experience. There is nothing worse than getting your child, especially a hormonal and emotional pre-adolescent excited about their faith and eager to participate only to find that you don’t have all the necessary supplies to complete the experience/activity. The required supplies are written out clearly so that you can plan a week or even weeks in advance, ensuring you will have the necessary items when the time comes. This leads to another very important aspect that makes this guide appealing, variety. They say variety is the spice of life and this guide is a spice rack. The experiences are fun, each is so different from the last, and there is literally no room for boring.  One experience had us baking a cake, another had us going through the trash (this one was a little off putting for my daughter so we altered it slightly, you can definitely tell some of these activities came from dads, haha!), watching a movie, playing a video game, while yet another had us making greeting cards, I don’t want to spoil the fun (52 totally engaging experiences… and if you don’t happen to have various supplies on hand there are substitute recommendations). I even found myself becoming excited for the next experience.  And the best part, all five sections come together to provide a cohesive educational experience and growth in faith. 

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
(Mark 10:13-16 )

Chris Folmsbee and Tony Myles do a phenomenal job relating the prayer, scripture, and experiences/activities in order to have debriefing that really brings home the purpose and focus of that week. This guide takes the guess work out of ways to engage preteens in their faith. It is literally written out for you, all the hard work has been done.  Talk about an answer to prayers! All you need to do is invest the time, oh, and get the book.

In conclusion, A Faith of Their Own: An Experience Guide for Parents & Preteens  not only provides encouragement to preteens on their path of faith but can also help  jumpstart or redirect parents’ journeys as well. This guide is such an exceptional way to get children excited about their faith and better comprehend what is often otherwise lost in preteen translation.

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of A Faith of Their Own to review as a Beacon Hill Press Blogger. All opinions are my own.

Power of the Pen!

Some people would say that the cost of silence is free. Those people are not mothers. There is always a cost. Like when your toddler is having a full on tantrum during the 2nd hour of a 14 hour trip so you give him the remaining ½ of a chocolate bar knowing full well that it will leave the worst mess on him, the car seat, the car, etc. but your sanity and that of your husbands is well worth the mess.  Or maybe you plopped junior in front of the TV because you needed to do the laundry and now, thanks to a crazy yellow sponge he frequently calls things stupid. Thus that load of laundry has now cost you a weeks’ worth of aggravation (and perhaps a side of mommy guilt because YOU plopped him in front of the TV to be babysat for 10 minutes) trying to correct what he learned. Or perhaps you just wanted to sleep for ten more minutes on Saturday morning so you let the kids make their own breakfast and the cost for those ten minutes, 2 hours of cleaning, wiping down walls, windows, etc.  But let’s be honest, most of the time it is worth it! However there are those occasional exceptions when the mommy currency has dire consequences. This was one of those times.

We had had a long day and my 3-1/2 year old was, well, acting like a 3-1/2 year old. Very independent, wanting to do everything for herself, and we were having a 2 steps forward and 3 steps back kind of a day. I was counting down the minutes till quiet time. We needed a break from each other. And sometimes she actually sleeps but often she just plays quietly in her room for ½ hour or so which is fine by me. As long as we each get a few minutes to ourselves before the big kids come home so we can greet them refreshed and with a ‘back to happy’ kind of an attitude.  Finally, quiet time arrived. I placed her in her bed and turned on the quiet time music; pulled the shades, and quietly left her room…I might have been doing the happy dance on the way out. I then went about my mommy business.

I did some laundry, unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, and swept up the breakfast and lunch crumbs.  The entire time listening with one ear for her to holler down to me asking if she could get up but it never came. So I had assumed that she had actually fallen asleep. This was my first mistake, NEVER ASSUME ANYTHING! I totally should have run upstairs and peeked in on her. But I didn’t, nope, instead I basked in the glory and grabbed my book and started reading. Now, have you ever gotten into a great book that you just can’t put down? That was the kind of book I was reading and before I knew it a ½ hour had passed. It was time to pick up the big kids from school. So I ran upstairs to wake up our sleeping beauty.

As I approached the room I heard commotion, like she was rushing to hide under the covers. And then I opened the door and my mouth dropped! It was everywhere, the walls, sheets, pillows, fitted sheets, on her, and on her sister’s priced possession, the American Girl Doll. How was I ever going to live this one down? It was everywhere but where it should be, on paper!!! There was pen everywhere and what was worse, I didn’t have a moment to spare, I had to go pick up her big sister who was going to be furious at her and worst of all, ME! See, this is when that mommy currency has huge consequences and totally backfires.

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So we picked up the older kiddos and they went up to their bedrooms to change into their play clothes. Oh, the high pitched little girl screams that were coming from that room, it was agonizing, dogs were barking in the next town over.  And as her eyes met each of her little sister’s inked art (not to be confused with tattoos…there were no tattoos) she yelled her sisters name. And then she saw it, the American Girl Doll and it happened, she yelled, “MOM!!!”  Sure, when it was just the walls, sheets,  and pillows it was her sister’s fault but the doll, somehow that was my fault. I felt horrible. I instantly tried to fix my mistake; I sent out an SOS on Facebook and received many great suggestions on how to remove the ink but unfortunately nothing worked.  So we will be sending her to the American Girl Hospital…which made me a bit nervous at first because the doll doesn’t have health insurance but I am pretty sure she is covered under the affordable care act.

Moral of the story, sometimes the price we pay for our mommy time is too high and not worth it and…(in a whisper) never leave a 3 -1/2 year old alone in a room with pens. Chances are you will have to frisk those little ones, they are so sneaky…I am thinking about installing a pen detector at the entrance of their bedroom. Haha!

UPDATE:  (I always love updates on shows)

As of right now, as it stands, only mommy and daddy have pen privileges. Though I have to be honest, not a day has gone by when I pick up a pen and don’t recall this horrific incidence. Perhaps my pen privileges should be revoked, at least then I could sleep better at night. Haha!

Do tell, how have you spent your mommy currency? And was it worth it? Have you ever had a child display their artwork on the wall, furniture, etc.?

 

Mom Down, aisle 4!

 

I had 30 minutes till I had to pick up my youngest from preschool so I figured I would make the most of my time. I had just left Hobby Lobby where I tried my best to limit my purchase by only grabbing a basket and not a cart. Turns out you can really hold a lot with one hand/arm while the other holds a basket. It is all about determination and will power….where there is a will to purchase there is a way to carry said items. Haha! Well, I might have spent a little more than I anticipated but I figure it all balances out, I don’t need a gym membership…I do my weight training at Hobby Lobby. LOL! So after all that heavy lifting I worked up quite an appetite for one Grande iced hazelnut latté, weird right!? Bet you thought I was going to say water…we get that for free from the tap, as my husband puts it, so I figured I should make those dollars count. I am clearly always thinking of ways to save us money. Haha! (I can’t even type that with a straight face) but I digress.  Fortunate for me there just so happens to be a Starbucks in the Kroger’s that I was heading to, image that, what are the chances!? The Kroger’s I was going to was the one I use to frequent, more specifically every two weeks for our family grocery sphere. It holds many fond memories as you are about to find out.

As I walked through the entrance my first observation was that they had rearranged everything, or at least the produce section and that is how my path down memory lane was ignited. In my mind I could still see how it was laid out in the past, in my memories. I could almost see myself pushing that obnoxious cart with the car in the front that held a little toddler eating his snack that I had packed (or perhaps I grabbed a goldfish package off the shelf and torn into it…that portion of the memory is a little blurry) and a preschooler repeating “beep beep, excuse me, beep beep, excuse me” and my baby bump practically kissing the cart handle.  Just recalling that time in my life put a huge smile on my face. Oh how I wish my journey down memory lane ended there but it didn’t. As I started grabbing the items from my list that iced latte hit me fast and I had to go pee so off to the restroom I went. You know the same restroom I use to go to with my children when they were younger. I use to joke that I spent more time in the restroom than the actual store, between potty training and being pregnant it wasn’t unusual for us to visit “the potty” 2-3 time.

 

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As I washed my hands I recalled how I would pick up each child and help them wash their tiny hands and how I praised them for such a great job in the bathroom and their eyes would light up.  I would then promise that we were almost finished (I was totally lying of course but for some reason it helped) shopping and their smiles would beam from ear-to-ear. And then I remembered how good the younger two were once the baby was born. They would each take their turn watching the baby while mommy helped their sibling pull up pants, flush, etc. Then we would all go back to our obnoxious cart (I use to fear that on one of our trips to the restroom someone would take our cart and everyone would see a mom totally lose it…thankfully that never happened) with the car in the front and place the baby seat on top of the cart, man I loved that view! But I don’t know if I truly stopped long enough to enjoy the view of my sweet baby girl and little ones chatting and beeping away in the car. Granted I can recall bits and pieces but I do wish I would have looked up from my grocery list more often.  And how I wish this was the end of my journey down memory lane but it wasn’t!! I took a turn both figuratively and literally that I wish I hadn’t.

 

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You should never allow your mind to stay on memory lane long otherwise you could end up on the next bus to crazy town. What I should have done was take a jet plane back to reality but I didn’t, I stayed on memory lane. So, there I was in Kroger’s turning down an isle that had a large picture of a cat. And as many of you know we lost our cat in March and I am totally at peace with that, she lived a full and wonderful life.  And chances are if I wasn’t stuck on memory lane I would have been fine, possibly even normal, though that might be a stretch.  Now, the picture of the cat wasn’t what did it, it did compile the situation though.  It was the mother pushing an obnoxious cart with a car in the front filled with 2 laughing toddlers and she was wearing a wrap with a tiny baby in it….that was me 3 years ago coming down the aisle to buy cat food. I want to go back! And then it happened. The lump in the throat, flood of emotions, quickly followed by blurry vision, and finally the waterworks. My heart ached and it felt as if my soul was weeping right there in aisle 4. I quickly put my sunglasses on and starred at the cat food (same cat food I use to buy our cat…was totally not helping the situation). I was in a downward spiral and needed to get out. As the mom passed by me her toddlers started screaming, one threw something out of the car, the baby started to cry, and her phone rang. Yep that did it!! I snapped out of it…I was free!! I was back in reality. Phew that was a close one…I was fearful they would have to announce over the speakers, mom down aisle 4 and bring the Kleenex! Haha! So, as I tell my children, life is a learning experience. We can learn something from every situation, scenario, mistake, victory, etc. So what did I learn from this experience?

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And the lessoned learned today is that I should never step foot in that Kroger’s ever again, it simply holds way to many memories. Just kidding, we can’t avoid the things that stir up emotion in our lives we need to learn how to deal with those emotions. And this time of year can be particularly hard for moms and for those of us who have moms, which would be everyone. You can’t go back and do it again but chances are you are so busy that you don’t even realize the time is passing you by. So, my advice to ALL moms and children, SLOW DOWN!! I know you always have to be prepared for the next event or happening, or grocery list but don’t allow preparing for the future to rob you of your present. Remember it is called present for a reason, because it is just that, a big, beautiful, precious PRESENT! So, as you rush around in search of the perfect mother’s day gift or maybe you will be receiving a mother’s day gift don’t become too caught up with the materialist component for there is nothing more magnificent than time spent, mother and child in the PRESENT!

Happy Mother’s Day Moms!

 

 

Essential oil remedies you MUST try! (Giveaway)

As most of you know I am a huge advocate for living a sustainable and green life. I have had numerous arguments with my husband over my ban on paper products in our home (I draw the line at toilet paper…we can wash napkins, we have real plates, cups, and utensils that can be reused. We washed cloth diapers & wipes. (FYI, with the cloth wipes our youngest only had a diaper rash once, in 2-1/2 years! I firmly believe that most rashes come from the disposable wipes).  And we don’t need paper towels, there is this thing called a dish towel and there are also rags). Why a sustainable and green lifestyle? My reasons are threefold, first and foremost for my children’s future and their children’s future, for the environment, and lastly, for my own conscious, kind of selfish I realize but at least I know I can sleep at night knowing I did my best that day with regard to my children’s future on this planet. But I have to be honest, as Kermit the frog once said, it isn’t easy being green.

There have been many trials and errors in the process of trying to synchronize our family’s needs with a green and sustainable lifestyle. I have tried so many products and have unfortunately been green washed more than I’d like to admit….darn that persuasive packaging and creative marketing champagnes!!! I have learned to always read the fine print, ingredients( are there any parabens, phthalates, sulfates, petrolatum, etc.), company history; you basically need to be a detective. Unfortunately there is someone out their working just as hard to stump you and tell you what you want to hear about a product. So perhaps I have grown a bit cynical and become a skeptic but can you blame me? In fact, I have entirely given up on some products and just started to make my own.

I have come to the conclusion that water, baking soda, olive oil, and vinegar are all I need to clean EVERYTHING in my home, seriously! I have been cleaning my home with those for the past 10 years and they do a remarkable job at killing bacteria, scrubbing the tub, polishing the furniture, etc. And then there is also the financial standpoint, we save so much money, and that is something my husband can’t argue with, ha-ha! However there can be a downfall, or should I say dilemma with regard to trying to achieve a sustainable and green lifestyle, it is what I like to call waste vs. carcinogen. Which I realize as I type this the answer should clearly be waste and unfortunately I have learned this one the hard way.

Are you familiar with those electrical outlet plug-in home air fresheners? Well recently a few lavender ones fell into my lap and even though I realized there were probably bad chemicals in them I figured how bad could they really be? And for such a short period of time, could they really cause any harm? And lavender is such a soothing sent. And besides I didn’t want to waste, I hate it when food, products, clothing, etc. is wasted. So I talked myself right into plugging them into the walls. Two days later both my son and I had bloody noses. And I figured it was due to the dryness in our home so I plugged in the humidifier and kept it running for the next few days but the bloody noses continued. Now, you should know that I have only had 6 bloody noses in my entire life and those were when I was pregnant so this was very unusual for me.  By the third bloody nose I came to the conclusion that it had to be something environmental and the only thing new in our home over the course of a week was the air fresheners. I removed them and guess what? No more bloody noses! But that soothing lavender sent was also gone, but not for long! A friend of mine told me about doTERRA essential oils and offered a sample for me to review. The results spoke for themselves my only regret was not using essential oils sooner, especially for first aid and my complexion.

 

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Did you know that essential oils can be used for more than just fragrance? Many have strong health agents that are strong enough to kill viruses, bacteria, and fungi! While others help relieve headaches, calm hyperactivity, diminish depression, and stress and without any synthetic chemicals! I for one was surprised at all the benefits associated with essential oils. And I was surprised to learn that they can be administered internally, topically, and aromatically. After reading through all the amazing benefits and uses for essential oils can you guess what the first oil was that I used? Yep, lavender! I placed it in the humidifier at night and the children fell asleep fast, (and mom and dad shortly after), talk about magic. It felt like a spa in our home, it was so relaxing.

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The next day I was so excited to try out other essential oils since our experience with the lavender oil was so successful.   The next essential oil I tried was melaleuca. (MELALEUCA – is a must-have first aid item!  There are slews of uses for this oil.  You can mix a teeny tiny bit with some coconut oil to make homemade diaper cream. It is beautiful on cuts and scrapes!  Antiseptic, antifungal and promotes healing.  It will not burn on even a fresh wound so that makes it extra amazing for use on the kids!! Melaleuca boosts the immune system in a unique and extremely effective way).  Since it is also supposed to be good for acne, which I still suffer from as an adult, I figured I would give it a try. So I first did a facial scrub with olive oil and sugar then wiped/dabbed melaleuca on my face.  And the result was beautiful youthful looking skin. So much so that I even got carded when I went to purchase a lighter for the grill, no joke! My skin is amazing now….and to think of all the money and time I wasted, it makes me sick to my stomach. Where was this in high school!?

 

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Later that same day our daughter was showing signs of a cold so I applied onguard. (ONGUARD – Apply every 1-2 hours to the bottoms of the feet at the very first sign of sickness!  This blend contains oils that are very immune boosting and also anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Endless testimonials from people who have stopped even the flu in its tracks with this blend. Can use this to make nontoxic homemade hand sanitizers and household cleaners and this is a great therapeutic oil for anyone who gets sick frequently or has history of infections like mono, herpes viruses, etc.). The next day she was fine!

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Peppermint also proved to be extremely useful.  We hosted Easter at our home and during the commotion of the preparations, getting children ready, and ‘to do’ list running through my mind I had a horrific headache. I applied oil to the back of my neck and within 10-15 minutes the headache was gone! (PEPPERMINT – Headaches – back of neck.  Hot flashes or fevers – feet and back of neck.  Dilute with some coconut or vegetable based oil and apply to the tummy for belly aches.  Take a big whiff out of the bottle or from your hands for an instant pick me up.  Peppermint promotes focus so it is very nice diffused when the kids are doing homework).

I could go on and on telling you all the ways I have found this sample to be extremely helpful but your time is valuable and sometimes actions speak louder than words. So give essential oils a try, trust me, you will be glad you did! And as a special offer to readers my doTERRA consultant is offering a consultation for each of you (up to 30 minutes) so contact Tiffany today! Please feel free to email (tmparent@bex.net) or call (419-376-0931). Or check out her Facebook group, it is called The Essential Oil Life. She uses that group to share information about essential oils.

And now, the piece de resistance, the giveaway!!!

 

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I have saved the best for last! Wild Orange! I have been wearing this every day! I put it on right when I get out of bed and it gives me such energy and harmony for what would otherwise be a typical stressful morning.  (WILD ORANGE – is adaptogenic and it’s cool in that it will promote harmony to the nervous system.  So, if feeling sluggish and or down in mood you can use it to lift energy and spirits.  However, it works beautifully to bring down out of control energy (hyperactivity, nervousness, etc.)). 

Tiffany is giving away a 5ml bottle of doTERRA Wild Orange, the Spring ’14 doTERRA LIVING magazine, and a free 30 minute personal consult.

To Enter the Giveaway complete the following steps:

  1. Follow Mom on the go in Holy Toledo on Facebook
  2. Follow @Mamaof3onthego on Twitter
  3. Reply to this post with a comment expressing what essential oil interest you most.

 

Winner will be randomly selected May 12th @ 11:59PM