A Sweet Slumber Party for My Super Sweet 9 Year Old!

My sweet girl is 9! I really can’t believe that I’ve had this incredible blessing of a human being in my life for almost a decade! Words can never adequately express the depths of my love for Anya, she is my heartbeat and I’m so overwhelmingly grateful for her! This year we had a slumber party and since her birthday fell on President’s Day we had the sleepover on Sunday with 3 of her friends. We did spa treatments, made flower crowns, ate, watched movies and danced. It was a  great time had by all! Here are a few snapshots of the weekend.

I wrapped the chair with burlap and stuck a  butterfly on it for a little whimsy :)
I wrapped the chair with burlap and stuck a butterfly on it for a little whimsy 🙂
This was the spa station!
This was the spa station!
I made the goody bags myself and just added little touches like the rolled washcloths and bowls for soaking their hands
I made the goody bags myself and just added little touches like the rolled washcloths and bowls for soaking their hands
I made the banner out of scrapbook paper and doolies and added lanterns and balloons
I made the banner out of scrapbook paper and doolies and added lanterns and balloons
I wanted the table to be light and pretty
I wanted the table to be light and pretty
A of course is for Anya
A of course is for Anya
We made flower crowns. Warning this wasn't that easy for little kids
We made flower crowns. Warning this wasn’t that easy for little kids
Anya loves chocolate so this was a hit!
Anya loves chocolate so this was a hit!
I hope her wishes all come true!
I hope her wishes all come true!
My Beautiful Girl
My Beautiful Girl

Trying to Instill Better Organizational Skills in Your Kids? Read, “Smart but Scattered.”

Anya is really intelligent and has always done well in school, matter of fact she has achieved a 4.11 for two semesters in a row. But, recently her teacher told me that she needed to work on her executive skills. At first I had  no idea what she was talking about, I mean she’s 8 what kind of executive skills is she supposed to have? She explained that is it the task initiation, the focus, and organizational and few other key skills that kids need to develop . She told me about this book, “Smart but Scattered,” by Dr. Peg Dawson and Dr. Richard Guare that gives you tools on how to help kids reach their full potential by improving their executive skills. I told my mom and I think she heard the worry in my voice and had the book sent overnight, gotta love moms right?

I was concerned, I know there are times that Anya can easily bunny trail, I mean the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. But, I didn’t want this lack of focus to become a real issue. I dived into the book and it was so informative for myself as well. The book offers assessments that you take for both your child and yourself. It was amazing how closely these assessments figured us out. Then it gave tools. One of the tools we’re using is the checklist and it is working out great, but there are others I can’t wait to try. She earns tally marks and rewards for every time she completes a task without a reminder. I have seen an improvement in our morning and night routine almost immediately. She loves using her clipboard and checklist! Her teacher  said she has already seen improvement during her  school routine as well.

If you’re facing any issues with your children in task initiation, focus, organization or other skills, I highly recommend this book and if you’d like to improve your skills read it for yourself as well!

Download (PDF, 179KB)

Get A Jump Start on Breakfast! Have the Kids Help

Mornings… Some of us love them others not so much. One thing is for sure your day can start out a good note if your morning isn’t chaotic. Don’t take on all the responsibility of the morning routine hand some of it over to your kids. One of Anya’s chores is to set the table for breakfast, this consists of her putting out her plate, napkin, cup and if I’m eating breakfast she’ll put out my plate as well. This helps me out, gives her a little responsibility, and hey its one less thing I have to do! Get your kids to fix the table for breakfast the night before and shave a few minutes off of your mom routine in the am!

 

Don't you love how she makes the napkin a little fancy :)
Don’t you love how she makes the napkin a little fancy 🙂

The Little Moments With Our Kids Is What Makes Motherhood So Big!

The one lesson that motherhood has taught me is that it is the small gestures that mean the most. It is those little moments of love that matter more than anything else. Sometimes in our daily exhaustion that comes with all the big things we have to do we find the little things hard to do, even impossible. But, I always find that if I muster up the energy its the little things that create memories and put the biggest smile on my daughter’s face. Its the little things that give me the biggest, “I love you’s and hugs and kisses. Even when I feel like I can’t play dolls one more time or bake that batch of cookies at 7 pm that I never should have promised in the morning when my coffee had kicked in and my energy level was on high, if I just do it, I always heap blessings in the mom department.

It is so easy to let those big things in life take away the joy from the smaller moments. The quiet moments that we can’t get back, but will wish for years down the road. Sometimes we have to push the big things aside,  so we get to experience what being a mom is really about which is the privilege of being present with our children.

Tonight when my daughter begged me to go outside in the freezing wintry weather to make snow angels, I tried my best to turn her attention to something else. I’m not a cold weather kind of gal. But, I looked at her face drop with every excuse and knew it was a moment that she wanted to have with me and so after putting on 20 layers of clothing we went outside. After awhile the numbness in my fingers subsided as I saw her face light up as we made snow angels and snow castles. In the midst of it she gave me a kiss and said, “I love you mom,” ahh and that is the joy that makes it all worth it. So never pass up the little moments…seek them, embrace them and remember this is what makes motherhood so big!

That smile does it for me all the time!
That smile does it for me all the time!

A Gift From My Baby Girl

I’m proud of Anya for many reasons, but it is her heart that is so special. She is so giving, loving and caring that it melts my heart! This past week was insanely busy and as I was trying to clean up the house and getting ready for my parents to come she was busy in the kitchen! She kept telling me not to come in and although I really needed to get in there I waited. To my surprise she made us lunch and set the table so sweetly for us. How blessed I am to have this little one!

This table was completely bare before Anya got a hold of it!
This table was completely bare before Anya got a hold of it!
She even made napkin rings :)
She even made napkin rings 🙂

A Sweet Picnic For Me and My Girl

I’m always trying to create little memories with Anya. Today was a beautiful one that we’ll remember for a long time. I took her from school at lunch and we had a little picnic in the park. Below are some pictures of the little touches that made it special.

It’s Never to Early To Encourage Your Child’s Ministry

Anya’s lesson plan for her four year old friend!

I’m always struck by the wisdom that comes from listening and observing children. Children posses such incredible insight at all ages.  I’ve learned so much from Anya starting from the day she was born and I continue to learn from her every day. God in his workmanship created these lovely little people that he so generously gave to us to raise, lead and help to cultivate those gifts so that they can serve him. A big part of being a mom is to recognize those gifts, acknowledge them, make our children aware of them and to nurture them to fruition. I believe that is why it is so important to be present with our children and pay close attention to how they will contribute to the body of Christ.

Children have a ministry just as we all do and we should encourage and inspire them to pursue it whole heartedly. If we pay close attention, we can see the buds of some of those gifts. Personally, I believe we discover our spiritual gifts all through our lives and God is constantly revealing to us his workmanship in our own lives. So our children will discover other gifts they had no idea they had as they continue to grow. But, at whatever age your child is start watching them closely and observing what some of their gifts may be and how you can water those seeds so they begin to grow.

If you notice your kids like to serve find ways for them to serve others that are age appropriate. Anya has a friend whose mother runs an organization that helps school aged children in Uganda. Her friend has decided to try to raise money to purchase desks for the children. We were apart of her bake sale fundraiser at the end of the year and it was a wonderful experience. There are so many charitable organizations to give to, if you see your child has a passion to help others find an organization together and make a plan to raise money or give in a different way. The point is to have them seek out the opportunities.

Some children like to teach, my daughter loves to teach little ones. We have a friend who has a four year old and when she came over, Anya created a whole teaching plan for the day. She took great pride in being the older mentor. If you find your child finds joy in teaching ask the Sunday school teacher if they can assist them once a month, or if you have friends with younger children maybe have them read to them a couple times a month for story time. There are so many ways that they can teach others especially if they are older, they can be camp counselor, tutors, volunteers, etc.

These are just a couple examples of how to water those seeds, but what’s important is to start the dialogue. Ask your kids what they enjoy doing. Pay close attention to their heart and where it seems to be most tender and present opportunities for them to start building their own ministry. Check out different resources that will encourage them like books, documentaries or people that can contribute to nurturing their potential. Don’t forget to let them see you using your gifts mom! There is no better way to inspire than by actually being a living example of what it means to use the spiritual gifts that God has blessed you with!

Some Things You Want Your Kids to Catch You Doing

My mini me! Those aren’t prescription glasses, but she bought them from Claires so she can look like me 🙂

Do  you notice how your kids mimic you? It is amazing how many habits of mine I see Anya forming, some good and some not so good! It makes me really check myself. When they say kids are sponges they aren’t joking. Our kids are soaking in everything and we hope they’re soaking in all the good stuff right? But, we’re human and not perfect so all we can do is try to do our best. Here are a few things I think our kids should catch us doing that hopefully they can soak up:

Make God Your Priority- God has to be #1 and we should encourage our children through our actions to put God 1st in their life and to love him above all. When they see us doing this and the joy that comes from it they will want that kind of joy in their life.

Being Kind– Kindness is underrated in our society. Being kind goes a long way and can change someone’s day in a minute. Let them catch you giving a compliment and just plain old being nice!
I’ve also seen kindness change a person’s course and direction.

Persevering- When we push forward regardless of obstacles we teach our kids to never give up.

Laughing-Let your kids see you laugh and enjoy life! Laugh at yourself, laugh in good times and especially laugh during the rough times it always makes life easier.

Take Risks– Don’t be afraid and don’t breed fear in your home. Risks can lead to amazing outcomes, but if you never take them you’ll never know or grow. When your kids see you take risks they are more apt to not be fearful.

Standing up for Your Beliefs– Sometimes our beliefs aren’t popular among everyone and we can even be ridiculed for them, but when you stand up for them you build character. Let your kids see you take a stand and encourage them to do the same.

Pray-Prayer is so crucial in every aspect of our life. Praying with your kids is wonderful, but let them see you in prayer about all circumstances this is something you want them to have a mental picture of in their mind so they can draw from it when they are not with you.

Going to Church-When attending church is a priority for you , your kids will see the significance of fellowship and develop their own way of fellowshipping with their friends and the comfort that comes from being in a church family.

Volunteer- Serve, serve, serve! In a society where entitlement is running rampant modeling for our children service through volunteerism is a gift. Let them see you volunteering at school, church, in your neighborhood and I bet you they follow suit.

Being Generous-Generosity that comes from the heart is a blessing. Let your kids see you giving freely whether it is your time, your money, or your home.

Being a Good Friend- Teach your children about friendship by being a good friend. Let them see you interact with your friends in a way that that is loyal, kind, and meaningful.

Being Patient- Patience is a virtue that I struggle with every day. I believe modeling patience to our  kids leads them to have a calmer spirit and helps them to develop healthier relationships.

Reading the Bible- The scriptures are our blueprint for life and it’s important for our kids to know that and be guided by those verses.

Being Financially Smart-Our kids are watching how we spend our money. Being responsible with money, sticking to a budget, and showing how to give it away also is going to effect how they handle money when they get older.

Being Forgiving-When bitterness takes root in the heart it has the potential to destroy our lives. Be forgiving and explain to your kids why forgiveness is key to happiness. Especially as single moms and our relationships to the father of our children. Forgiving is all part of the healing process and they need to see this modeled so they can develop healthy relationships.

Being Healthy– If we have good eating and exercise habits we are teaching our kids to honor and respect their bodies.

Keeping Your Word- It is so important that our children know that they can rely on us and that we mean what we say. When we keep our word we are building a stable relationship with them that makes them feel safe and secure.

Being Positive– If we’re positive our household is happier. When we’re negative we are creating a dangerous energy. When life is giving us lemons and we can make lemonade we are teaching our kids that it is important to change your perspective and not dwell in the can’t do’s.

Love Yourself- Not in a vain way, but in a content way. Loving yourself with all the imperfections is a beautiful gift to give your children that teaches them about accepting themselves as God created them.

Being Loving to Others– This goes along with kindness and compassion. Our kids learn how to love from us. So if we love with an open heart chances are they will too!

Admit Your Mistakes– Kids need to know that parents screw up too! When you’re wrong apologize and make amends. It humbles you and allows your kids to see you in a vulnerable and honest light that helps to make  your relationship authentic. Teach them it’s okay to say sorry and admit to mistakes because there are no perfect people.

Showing Grace- Not everything has to be punishable. When we show grace to our kids we model the grace Jesus gives us. Our kids will appreciate that undeserved grace and give more freely to others.

Lastly make sure your kids catch you being adventurous, having fun and enjoying life! A happy momma makes for a happier kid.

Sunday Mornings Don’t Have to Be Hectic and You Don’t Have to Be Late Church!

Sunday mornings are always sweet to me, they always have been. There is something so cozy and peaceful about Sundays, especially when you attend church. But that mood can quickly change if you’re running late and trying to get everyone ready. We’ve all had those Sundays when were scrambling to find something to wear, trying to feed the kids breakfast while gulping down a cup of coffee. Getting to church on time can be a serious challenge especially with kids. I have one kid and I’m ashamed to say how often I’ve been late to church. Don’t get me wrong the important thing is that you made it there! I don’t believe God is marking you tardy, but it is nice to not be rushed and to be on time, it shows your kids that you put just as much importance on church as you do on other things in your life. Church is a priority.

When we arrive at church we should want to be in a cheerful spirit ready to worship and fellowship and not it a cranky mood.  Here are a few things I suggest doing to make your Sunday mornings easier:

  • Lay out your clothes and your kid’s clothes the night before. If they are old enough to do this themselves, make it a must do for them. This includes everything your outfits require. If they need ironed doing it on Saturday will give you those few extra minutes to get out the house.
  • If you have small children get them prepared the night before and make sure they get enough sleep so they aren’t cranky. Pack toys, diapers, bottles, snacks and anything else you need Saturday evening.
  • Have Bibles, journals if you carry one,  ready to go or at least all in one place so you can grab it and leave. This goes for your kids too!
  • If you tithe, have it ready to go whether it is a check or cash. Anya likes to give some money of her own, so I make sure she has it in my purse on Saturday night or an envelope.
  • Set your alarm. Ok, this is kind of silly but unless you have that internal alarm clock don’t forget to set your alarm. My internal alarm only works on vacation so I’m waking up to the buzz of my cell phone between 8:15 and 8:30 since my church starts at 9:30. (I also set my coffee maker to automatically brew at that time)
  • Make a simple breakfast. Sunday may not be the time to make a huge breakfast depending on what time your church starts. Also if you have your table set the night before you don’t have to worry about it in the am. Try breakfast casseroles they can be prepared in advance an are usually delicious! Check out these recipes http://allrecipes.com/recipes/breakfast-and-brunch/breakfast-casseroles/

Set a tone of excitement for Sundays and for church! Getting prepared for church shouldn’t be a chore it should be something we are excited about and if you can convey that to your kids they will be more likely to get it moving on Sunday morning. Throughout the week, talk about something your excited about for Sunday. Maybe it is the sermon, the songs, or seeing your church family. Ask them what they are looking forward to on Sunday and build a sense of anticipation. Get a routine going and Sunday mornings can be a time for your family to bond and have fun while worshipping!

Sometimes Discipline Means Work, Not for Me for the Kid

So, you all know I adore my girl, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t get a little sassy sometimes and when that happens it’s time to discipline. Now you all may not agree with this and that’s okay, but I thought I’d share a little parental discipline that I had to dole out yesterday. So here’s the story…

Yesterday, we were in the car and Anya had one of those bottle that she uses for her baby doll. Inside of it was this concoction she mixed together. I had been telling her not to open it and actually for her to take it out of the car along with a host of other things that piled up. Well, lo and behold the bottle of mystery fell in the car. I wasn’t so mad that it spilled but what I was annoyed about was the attitude I got when I told her to bring the bottle up to the house before we left for dinner. Well, Miss Anya stomped her way up to the porch and she threw the bottle down. OH YES SHE DID! Then when I addressed it in the car and told her she needed to bring the toys and the piles of other things in the house when we got back she had an attitude and said why couldn’t I do it. OH YES SHE DID! A few other words were exchanged and I knew something had to be done. Now she thought we were going to dinner so I was quiet and we were getting closer to the place we were going and she said something like, “Oh I didn’t know we were going there, great!” But instead I rolled right past it, I could see the confusion appear on her face in my rearview mirror.

Instead, we went to the gas station, the one that had a vacuum cleaner that you could pull up next to and that is where the discipline train pulled into. I explained that I didn’t appreciate her attitude and disrespect not only that she showed me, but our car. I reminded her that we were blessed to have a car and cars cost money. Then I dropped the bomb shell. I told her that I wouldn’t be cleaning up her mess she would. There were a few tears, but I didn’t let them distract me or her, I’m okay with working through the tears. She was to clean up all the junk she threw on the floor, put all her toys together that she’d be bringing in the house, wipe down the seats and then vacuum. I have a Hyundai Sonata so the back seat area isn’t that big, but big enough that it was a sizable job.

At first she tried handing me stuff to throw away for her, and I said she was on her own with this one. I told her she is responsible for cleaning up her own messes. I also raised the stakes a little higher and said if it wasn’t done correctly we would not be going to dinner out but instead be eating at home. I hesitated on this one ladies, because I was exhausted and used last night as our one night out to eat. So I said a silent prayer that she would rise to the occasion. There was a bit of pouting, but after she knew I was serious she did a good job. In the end I gave  her a hug and explained why I had her do this, which was to learn the value of things and not take what we have for granted and not to disrespect it either. I also told her that there are consequences to her actions and she is accountable. After a few kisses and her apologizing we were on our way.

We ended up having a great breakfast/dinner at IHOP and I think she got the gist of what I was trying to convey to her. Sometimes discipline is work literally!

Cleaning a car is hard work!