Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Free Books!

I'm pretty sure that if I read my boys a different book every night, no repeats, I would be able to go for about 6 months before running out. Yet, we read the same 6 or so week after week. Gradually some rotate out and others come in. Big Red Barn was a hit for a while. As was Curious George - Opposites. I can recite that one in my sleep. "George climbs up! Then jumps down. George rides forward... and backward, too!" I love it when he asks for Just In Case Your Ever Wonder by Max Lucado. It comes out "case wunda", so it's awfully cute, but the message of the book is awesome.  Other books we don't get past page two. They just don't do it for my discerning two-year-old. 

Liam's official seal of approval doesn't come easy, but it's been given to K.D. Brown's, Hi, God. She's a listener who reached out to me and said, "Hey, I've written some books for kids. Here you go! Do what you want with them!" That being said, I have two copies of Hi, God and Four Lucky Leaves, both by K.D. Just shoot me an email if you want one! Hi, God is about a little boy who can't quite figure out how to start a prayer and Four Lucky Leaves is about a four leaf clover that tries to change the way he looks in order to fit in. 

Another cool bit of info, K.D. is teaming up with I Matter Too, a locally-based non-profit organization that mentors and tutors orphaned, abused and neglected children through the love of Christ. Because she wants to give back and help kids, K.D. is donating 100% of her author proceeds from all online sales of both books  from now til September 30th to I Matter Too. Here's more on that!

My apologies for the bad punctuation of all of these book titles. Since I know I'm guilty, does that make it worse?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Parenting with Fear

If I let my imagination wander, it would probably take me about 3 minutes to come up with 99 reasons to be afraid as a parent. School shootings. Pediatric cancer. Autism. Peer pressure. Will he turn his back on his faith? Is the car seat installed correctly? Will he choke on a hot dog? Mmm... hot dogs... Wait, back to the fear. Will he make a bad choice that will dramatically affect his future? Will he slip and bust his head on the coffee table. It goes on and on. If I let it.

Last night a friend told me that her son who has special needs was hurt by a teacher at school. It's being investigated and a thorough body exam is going to be performed. My first reaction and question was, "Are YOU ok?" I don't know what I would do if it was one of my children going through this except that I would just want to hold him and not stop holding him. But we can't. We have to let go. We can't hold their hands all the time, and even if we could, there would still be danger.

Parenting with fear is not Godly parenting. God has given us these tiny people to care for. They are His, not ours yet we act like he's tossed them to us saying, "Best of luck!" That's not to say bad or even tragic things won't happen, but when we parent with the understanding and trust that we are supposed to parent with, it can bring about an entirely new sense of peace.

An article on TodaysChristianWoman.com, shares this insight:
Evelyn Christenson, author of What Happens When We Pray for Our Families, encourages parents to pray "releasing prayers" for their kids. By releasing your children to God in your prayers, you're acknowledging his sufficiency - a scary prospect. What if we surrender our kids only to have God respond by doing something awful? I had to pray a releasing prayer when I held my one-month-old son Christopher the morning of his open-heart surgery. I gave my son to God, and Christopher died five days later. But I know now that my prayer didn't cause Christopher's death. Instead, it prepared me for the loss because I'd already acknowledged that he belonged to God. Instead of anger, there was peace.

A final thought, I was recently talking to a friend about her children and a trauma they had been through, and I reminded her that God loves her children more than she does. As moms, we have to let that sink in. We think, NO ONE loves my kids more than me. It's not possible. But it IS possible and it IS true. God's love is perfect, all knowing, all consuming, and we must allow that to bring us the peace that will drive out the fears. All 99 of them!


Monday, June 16, 2014

Whoa

That's the response I got from a Facebook friend and via text from another friend when I shared this article on my Facebook page. The headline is, "The Day I Left My Son in the Car" and like most people probably did, I assumed the article was a tragic story about a child who suffered from heat stroke. It was actually quite different, but holy moley, did it make me think. I encourage you to read it and then come back here and compare your thoughts to mine.

The abbreviated version of my thoughts:

We now live in a society where most people believe a child can not be out of your sight for one second, where people think children need constant, total adult supervision. This shift is not rooted in fact. It’s not rooted in any true change. It’s imaginary. It’s rooted in irrational fear. I could not agree more with this comment. The internet enables us to know about a crime in a town on the other side of the country. We couldn't do this before. Of course, information is power, but is too much information fostering irrational fear? 

And maybe because we’re both so isolated and so “ambitious” in our parenting, we sabotage ourselves with impossible standards, live with a chronic fear of not measuring up in what’s supposed to be our most important calling. It’s almost as though, in the course of a few decades, we’ve all developed a cultural anxiety disorder around our children. 
YES! It's so easy for everyone to find a book or a quote attesting to one parenting style or technique being the "right" way that we are constantly afraid of being called-out for doing it wrong. Or when a problem pops up with our child - "He's throwing tantrums!" "She skipped school!", we'll be so hard on ourselves for something that could very well be out of our control. 

I worry that if I let my son play in the alley with the other kids and don’t follow him down because there are already eight responsible adults standing around, I’ll be thought of as the slacker mom who’s not pulling her own. And so I accompany when I probably don’t need to. I supervise and hover and interfere. And at least half of the other parents are probably doing it for exactly the same reason. This is America and parenting is now a competitive sport, just like everything else.
My mom took my son to the park one day and he was playing pretty far away, but she could see him. I'm not sure how the events unfolded, but my mom got a look from another mom indicating disapproval. I admit that I've hovered a little closer than I thought I needed to in cases like these because of what other moms would think of me. Is it a disservice to our children though, if all the other factors tell us it's safe? How many of our parenting decisions are influenced not by what is best for our child but what other parents or society will think of us? 





Thursday, March 20, 2014

Calling All Thomas Fans! All Aboard!

Day out with Thomas™: The Thrill of the Ride Tour 2014 is coming to the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish! And for the first time ever at Day Out With Thomas™, Thomas the Tank Engine™ will be able to talk to his fans.


This fun-filled event offers little engineers and their families the opportunity to take a ride with Thomas the Tank Engine, star of the popular Thomas & Friends® series. In addition, children will meet Sir Topham Hatt®, Controller of the Railway and enjoy a day of Thomas-themed activities including arts & crafts, storytelling and more.

Because you're a Mom Squad Blog reader, you've got a chance to win a four-pack of tickets for this SUNDAY! Your ticket includes a 25 minute ride with Thomas at 12:45pm, so to win, you'll need to be able to arrive at the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish by 11:45am. Don't worry though, there are a ton of activities to enjoy while you wait for your train to depart.

Email your answer to the question below to me - Abby@spiritfm905.com. I'll draw a winner from all the correct answers Friday (3/21) at 10am & post the winner's name here, on the blog. So hurry hurry! The clock is ticking. And remember, these four tickets are for THIS SUNDAY, March 23rd.


Here's your trivia question: Which of the following people has NOT narrated the Thomas TV series?

a) George Carlin
b) Tim Allen
c) Alec Baldwin
d) Ringo Star

For information on the event and Thomas & Friends, visit www.thomasandfriends.com

Florida Railroad Museum is located at 12210 83rd St East, Parrish, FL 34219. The ground will be open from 8:30am – 5:00pm for activities. Tickets will be at will-call. THESE FOUR TICKETS ARE FOR ADMISSION AND A 12:45PM TRAIN RIDE. The activities on site at Day Out With Thomas™ are for you and your children to enjoy for several hours, please plan to arrive at least one hour before your train time.


UPDATE: Congratulations to Lisette Moore! She won the four tickets! Oh, and the correct answer was Tim Allen. Can you believe Alec Baldwin did a voice over for Thomas?!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Choosing to Sacrifice

I was thinking the other day about how we, as moms are constantly sacrificing. I don't know what got me started on it. Maybe it was a conversation about the difference between a mom's home life versus a dad's. This is absolutely no knock on men or the job they do as fathers. I just think that for the most part and from what I've seen in my own life and in the lives of my friends and family, mothers are more inclined to make sacrifices for their children.

But why? Why do I hear so many women talk about the hobbies they've put on the back burner or the last bite of ice cream that went into another's mouth or the letting go of the desire to move forward in their career? I think it's because we have been made to give.

This is not a revolutionary thought, but it was to me. From the moment a child is conceived, we start to give. It is involuntary. If you've ever had morning sickness, you know that your body is putting you second and the baby first. You have to take extra vitamins not just to ensure the baby's growth but also to ensure your own health because your body will take care of that little one before you. We make conscious decisions to care for the life growing inside of us, by doing things like cutting down on caffeine or not eating sushi. But in so many ways, we don't even have to choose to care. Our bodies, our "being", is designed by God to care.

How can we expect that once that child is breathing air with his lungs, jumping on the bed, sitting at the kitchen table doing homework or walking down the aisle at her wedding that we can halt that action that is so deeply rooted in who we are?

Not that we should try to halt it, but why don't we change our perspective? Why don't we change our attitude? Instead of bitterness or frustration with the constant sacrifices we make as moms, why don't we see it as an extension of the sacrifice we naturally made for nine months? I was able to assist God in a miracle. He used me to bring a new soul into the world. I involuntarily gave of myself because it's what God designed me to do. Now I will give of myself because I choose to. I have the freewill to love or not and to sacrifice or not. Thank you, God for leaving it up to me. It makes the love greater. The sacrifice more meaningful. I will choose to continue to care for the child you entrusted me with.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Converting Souls

Moms do a lot of picking up. Toys, food messes, clothes, bodies (I mean live ones, like from school, not dead bodies). It can get monotonous. It can feel useless. Sometimes we say, "What's the point?"

Here's the point!

What a great reminder of the beauty and ministry in the small things. Thanks Mom Squad Blogger, Julie!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Two minutes, twice a day? Seriously?

The ADA came out with some news that now we SHOULD allow our under two-year-olds to have toothpaste that contains fluoride. By "have" they don't mean "allow them to squirt it into their mouths" but rather, take a grain-of-rice-sized amount and rub it on their teeth. It's hard to keep up with what is good one day and bad the next, but one thing I do know... getting my son to brush his teeth for more than 20 seconds is pretty much impossible.

How do you do it? I've heard that setting a timer gives them a tangible time frame to work with. I've heard rewards (like a penny for the piggy bank, not a wad of sugary gum) work. My nightly experience with Liam doesn't necessarily end in me having him in a head-lock, but it's close. Part of me wants to throw in the towel, but then I think of what I would do if one of his little bitty teeth got a cavity. Ugh. Horrible mom! 

If you're fighting the same battle or just are afraid that what you're doing isn't enough to ward off cavities, here are some tips from Dr. Sears. One thing that does keep Liam brushing for a few more seconds is when we break into song. Thanks, Elmo!!


Update: Last night I set the kitchen timer for 1 minute. It worked! We will gradually work up to 2 minutes. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Place to Dwell

I will not start this blog with a note about how long it's been since I last blogged. Oh, wait. Darn it!

One of my first favorite worship songs was "Better is One Day". The opening line, "How lovely is your dwelling place, oh Lord, almighty" just sets the tone. While I loved the song, I can't say I related to the psalm all that much. Yes, of course, one day in the presence of God is worth more than everything else combined, but the dwelling place part... I couldn't quite grab on to that one. The place God resides is lovely... We should make our hearts a place of love and life for Jesus to set up camp... Both statements are true and worthy, but until yesterday I didn't quite connect with that opening line of Psalm 84. Something that Sister Ann Shields on Food for the Journey said before the morning show started resonated with me.

When you look in the mirror, do you see God's dwelling place? You should. I should. I don't do the motivational sticky-note or lipstick on the mirror thing, but if I did, I think that verse would be what I'd want to see at the start of each day.  How could it change your self-esteem, the way you treat your body, the way you talk about yourself, the way you treat others if every morning the first thing you say when looking at your sleepy-eyed, stinky-breath, ratty-haired self is, "How lovely is your dwelling place, God!"

If you truly believe that you are the dwelling place for the creator of the universe, and that Jesus, His son who now lives and reigns with him has a home within you, would you not think a little better of yourself? Of course I don't mean you'd walk around saying, "Hello! You should think I'm pretty awesome."  But it could change the thoughts you have when you get dressed and the pants don't button as easily as they could or the feeling of hopelessness when you look at a magazine cover and wish you could have the clothes or hair or lips that the cover model does. It could change the way you compare yourself to your friends. Or maybe it will just make you like yourself a little bit more.

The closer we are to accepting that truth, the closer we are to treating others (our spouse, our neighbors, strangers, the less fortunate, our children) with that same truth in mind.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Celebrate Advent with Jolly Old St. Nick!

Happy Advent! Do you have your wreath up yet? Don't worry if you're behind. Remember the gospel about the workers in the vineyard? The master gave the same wage to those who joined in at the end. You'll still receive wonderfully beautiful graces even if you're a week (or two or three) late. I made my wreath out of plain white candles and ribbon. The greenery is just a long strand wrapped around the candle holders. Obviously, this is not portable!

One of my favorite lead-ups to Christmas is the celebration of St. Nicholas Day. I didn't realize that not everyone celebrates it the way we did growing up. Every year, on the morning of December 6th, my sister and I would awaken to find stockings filled with treats. The treats were small, like lip gloss and M&Ms. But we always looked forward to it as a precursor to Christmas. I found out recently that this tradition is strong in the state of Wisconsin, where I was born & where my parents spent their first 35 years. Makes sense.

I want to start this tradition in my own home as a way to teach my kids about the life of a wonderful saint. Not all the saints have the vivid illustration and attention of our kids' ears like St. Nick, so why not make the most of an opportunity. My plan? An orange or tangerine and a few other small treats in the stocking. I don't plan to say it's from St. Nicholas, but rather, the stockings are filled as a way to celebrate the life of St. Nicholas. Part two of this plan is to try to incorporate some act of service or generosity. After all, that's what St. Nick did!

One idea that's a little too old for kids my age, but is still a great idea is the Drive-Thru-Difference. If you haven't done it before, do it tomorrow to celebrate this feast day. The gist, pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru and give the letter explaining why you did it to the employee to pass on. It's a good idea to say a prayer too and ask God to put the right person behind you in line. He knows what he's doing! St. Nick would TOTALLY be into this as he was known for (among other things) blessing people in secret, hence the filling of the stockings in the middle of the night. Look at that! You're on your way to being a modern-day saint!