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 - 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

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!

Monday, November 4, 2013

All Aboard!

Choo Choo! The potty train is leaving the station! Yes, next weekend we are ditching the diapers and attempting the 3-Day Potty Training program. I've heard from a number of people that it works, but it's hard work and mentally exhausting for the primary "trainer". My best friend advised that I have a glass of wine handy for the end of the day.

I'm not going to lie and say I'm not enticed by the idea that it could be done in three days, but it's not totally selfish motives that have made me choose this method. I like that it's a cold turkey method. I can't remember being potty trained, but I imagine it would be kind of confusing to go from underwear to diapers, from potty to pants... Liam is excited to go on the potty and to not wear any diapers. I just hope his excitement translates to communication & cooperation.

Please pray for me. For the grace to be patient, persistent & wise. And please pray for my carpets.

What method worked for you?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Naughty Boy!

I am a blog-slacker! Forgive me! And now that I'm back with another post, forgive me again because it's just a plug for another person's blog. It's good though and worth re-posting.

We talked about this on the show this morning: What to remember when your little angel misbehaves.

Yours never misbehaves? Neither does mine! Wink. Wink.

It's a quick list and a good read. What spoke to me most was:

#1. You disobey God and He's the PERFECT father.

#3. God disciplines those he loves.
It hurts to say no sometimes, but we do it because we love our children and want what is best for them in the long run.

#9. It's not good behavior you really desire... you want his heart.
So many times I've heard parents force their kids to say "Yes, ma'am" or "Yes, sir". I understand why, but if they are only doing that because you make them and not because they have the respect for you that the phrase implies, then what's the use? That's just one example of "wanting his heart" but you hopefully get my drift.

#10. Your child is a person, not a project.
Preach it! I need to remember this one. It's kinda a "see the forest from the trees" type of mantra. Getting caught up in the discipline and goals we set for our kids can make us lose sight of the fact that they are little people with their own hearts and minds. We are entrusted with them and should help shape and guide them, but we can't look at their little lives with a list and check boxes.

Hope this helps you feel better about the job you're doing as a mom. Give yourself a hug and say, "You can do it!"

Sunday, September 8, 2013

God's Children

The other day I caught myself thinking unkind thoughts about someone. I honestly can't remember who it was or what I was thinking, but I do remember what made me stop what I was doing: Being a mom.

Several years ago my best friend and I were talking about people we saw at the local Wal-Mart who were less than clean and not using the most polite language. Let me just say, I'm not proud of this conversation, and I don't have any problem with Wal-Mart. I shop there all the time. Back to the point, we were putting them down and she said, "Well, they're God's children, too."

She's right.

That comment is so elementary but we sometimes cast off the simple stuff when we become more "spiritually mature." It has stayed with me for years and has taken on an entirely different meaning now that I'm a mom.

You see, the fastest way for someone to get to my heart is to be nice to my kids. And conversely, the fastest way to my bad side is to be mean to them. I took Liam to the play area at the mall a few months ago and he waved and said hello to another mom. She did a half-smile and kind of rolled her eyes at him. Excuse me? Did you not see, feel and hear the cuteness that was coming at you just then? What's wrong with you, lady? In a split second, she became my worst enemy.

I am so in love with my kids that whatever is done to them is done to me. When someone is mean to them, I hurt. When someone is kind to them, I feel all warm and fuzzy and want to give that person a big hug.

So if I say something rude about someone, I'm doing to God what the play area mom did to me. Yikes. Not good.

Thankfully, God is way more forgiving and understanding than I am, but that isn't a green light to speak unkindly to or about one of his kids. I want God to always want to give me a big hug, not be in pain because of my unkind words. Just like me, the way to God's heart is to be kind to his children. It's so elementary and so "what it's all about" all at the same time.