#MC #Sponsored: BGCA Keeps Kids #CyberSafe with the #CyberTribe

sponsoredDisclaimer: I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for BGCA. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating.

I will admit, I am a little more than protective when it comes to my kids and the internet. There is so much BAD out there, that I want to protect their innocent eyes for as long as I can.

Now, I am not dumb. I know that with technology today, it is easier than ever for kids to access the internet, and get involved in all sorts of situations that could potentially be scary.

Even when I was a teenager, the internet wasn’t the best place to “hang out.” Back then, it was chat rooms. I will never forget when I was 16, and I met a guy in a chat room. My boyfriend had just broken up with me, and I was young and vulnerable. This guy knew all the right things to say to make me feel better, and I fell for it – hook, line, and sinker. I ended up making plans to meet this guy, all without my parents’ knowledge. I told my parents I was meeting a friend that night, and instead, I met this stranger from online. When I got to the park where I was to meet him, there was a man there – probably in his early 30s. Definitely NOT the guy I had seen pictures of online, and not who I was intending to meet. As I drew closer to him, I noticed he had printed out my picture and was holding it in his hands. So, he was the guy I had been talking to all along. Not the 16 year old boy I thought it was.

Everything inside me was telling me to run, and so I did. Straight to my car, and I drove to my friend’s house, because I didn’t know where else to go or what else to do. I couldn’t go home and confess to my parents what I had just done. I knew it was stupid. I knew my life could have been in danger that night. And, looking back now, as a mom myself, I want to bang my head against a wall. That was probably one of the stupidest things I have ever done in my life. Thank God I was smart enough to get out of there. I don’t even want to think about what could have happened.

I wish that back then, we had had something like the BGCA CyberTribe. A safe place for kids to go to ask teens questions about online safety and bullying and get real answers. It’s also a fantastic resource for parents! In fact, I encourage you as a parent to take the “Are You a CyberSmart Parent?” quiz and see how your answers stack up. I ended up being a Cyber Survivor, and proving that I am doing my best to keep my kids safe while they are online.

I also encourage you to ask the CyberTribe any questions you may have about online safety and/or cyber bullying.

You can find the quizzes and ask your questions on the Boys & Girls Club of America’s Cyber Safe Website. All in all, it’s a great site that *every* parent needs to explore. Our kids are worth it!

Here are the two questions I asked the CyberTribe:

1. With easy access to cell phones, laptops, tablets, kids can access things they shouldn’t at any time – day or night. How can I protect my kids from seeing something they shouldn’t see if they click on an ad while playing a free version game on my cell phone?

2. I often feel like the “bad guy” because I won’t let my kids have a social media account until they’re old enough. I constantly hear, “But ALL my friends have one.” What can I say to convince my kids that it’s better for them to wait until they’re ready for an account instead of just giving in and letting them have an account?

I’m excited to see how the CyberTribe responds. I want to do right by my kids. I want to keep them safe while they are online, and I want them to always think before they post anything. This is something we will continue to talk about at length, especially given the number of kids I have!

Also, remember, that through today, June 30th, you also have the chance to win an ipad mini AND $500 to the Boys & Girls Club of your choice. But, hurry! Your chance goes away at midnight tonight! So, get your questions in!

How about you? How important is online safety to you? Have you ever had an experience where you or your child should have taken better precautions online? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.

One of My Toughest Days as a Mom

I’ve mentioned in the past that Gage has been dealing with seizures. Well, this past week, things spiraled out of control. Saturday was officially one of the toughest days I have ever faced as a mom.

It was supposed to be a great day, and it really started out that way. I went out to breakfast with a good friend from church, took an early afternoon nap, and then set out for our church’s Easter Egg Hunt at the home of one of our members.

When we arrived at the Egg Hunt, the kids were in heaven. The land these members own is amazing! They have a park, a pavilion, and even a kitchen outside – perfect for large gatherings like this. It was awesome. The kids all had a blast playing on all of the equipment, hunting Easter eggs, and just having fun.

Carly swinging

We finally sat down to dinner, and Gage sat across the table from me with my best friend, and I fed Carly. Hubby had been sitting with me, but he got up to run to the van and get the stroller for Carly. All of a sudden, I hear Steph say, “Angie.” I turn and look, and Gage is having a seizure in her arms. His mouth was full of food, so I quickly fought to clear his airway. I got it clear, and the seizure ended after about 3 minutes. By this time, hubby was back, and HE was who Gage wanted. Gene held him, and it took about 45 minutes for Gage to fully wake up and get back to his old self. Once he did, though, he seemed fine. He was playing, running around, and acting like nothing had even happened.

I did my best to keep my composure while we were still at their house, but inside, I was an absolute mess. When we got in the car to leave, I broke down, and I couldn’t stop.

That night, the kids were all to go to my best friend’s house and spend the night. As hard as it was to let Gage go, I didn’t want to “punish” him. The seizures aren’t his fault, and I knew that if anyone was going to take good care of Gage, it would be Steph. She loves him almost as much as I do. So, we left him with her and headed home.

I spent the next several hours crying uncontrollably. My poor husband tried everything to calm me down and reassure me. Nothing worked. I was an absolute mess. I have no idea why this seizure affected me the way it did. Maybe it’s because Gage wasn’t with me that night after it happened. If I had been able to hold him, maybe I would have been better.

I kept in close contact with Ash (my oldest daughter) and Steph. Checking in on Gage constantly. They both continued to assure me that he was just fine. He was having a blast playing with everything, and I didn’t need to worry.

And then, it happened.

At 10:30pm, my phone rang. It was Ashley. Gage was having another seizure.

Gene and I jumped in the car and flew to their house. (Thank God they only live 2 minutes up the road.) By the time we got there, he was already out of the seizure, and just sleepy.

But, that was it. Two seizures in one day is NOT normal. It was time for someone to listen to me. I called our pediatrician’s after-hours line and asked that I get a call back from the doctor on call.

I ended up talking to our pediatrician’s partner. She said that we needed to get Gage to a children’s ER as quickly as possible, because our local ERs won’t touch a child. Because of where we live, we have two options, and both are 2+ hours away: Scottish Rite in Atlanta, or TC Thompson in Chattanooga. Because it was 11 o’clock at night, and there was a chance Gage could have another seizure in the car, we opted to go to Scottish Rite. A 4-lane highway sounded way better to me than trying to drive over a mountain. And, honestly? With the experiences I’ve had with both hospitals, I prefer Scottish Rite over TC Thompson any day. (Both hospitals are fine, I’ve just had better experiences with SR.)

2 seizures in one dayWe arrived at the hospital shortly after 1am, and it was only minutes before they had us through triage and back into a room. Then, we waited for what seemed like forever to see a doctor. However, once he did come in, (around 2:30am), he was really really nice. I explained everything that was going on and told him that I was tired of feeling like no one cared about getting us answers. He assured us that HE cared and he would get us on the right path.

Around 3am, he wanted us to wake up Gage and get him fully awake. He needed to make sure Gage’s brain was functioning normally after the two seizures. We woke Gage up, and after a full exam, he was declared just fine… no obvious side effects from the seizures. (Praise God!)

After talking to the on-call neurologist, they started Gage on an anti-seizure medicine. (Praise God again!!) He will now take this twice daily. The neurologist also wants Gage to have an MRI of his brain, (in which case he will need to be sedated), as well as another EEG at Scottish Rite so they can look for some other things that TC Thompson didn’t look for in the first EEG. He also gave me a direct line to a neurologist’s office at Scottish Rite and told me to make an appointment with them. Because he was seen in the ER, they will now be able to get him in much sooner than our already scheduled appointment on June 23. He said it could take up to a month, but he said it could be as little as a week before they get him in. At this point, anything is better than June 23.

They sent us home, and honestly, I felt so much better. For the first time, it felt like someone actually cared and actually wanted to help us get some answers.

While Saturday may have been one of the absolute toughest days I have ever faced, it also ended up being the day before I finally got some help with Gage. Maybe now we can get him on track to healing… or at least to the point where I won’t be afraid to let him out of my sight.

As of this morning, I have called the neurologists’ office, and they can see him on April 30th. We have to see a nurse practitioner, but that’s just so we can become an established patient and get in with a doctor sooner. As of right now, the waiting list is 14 – 16 weeks for a new patient to see a doctor. This will help us bypass the waiting list, and get us answers that much sooner.

I am still waiting to hear from his pediatrician. I sent her several messages over the weekend and let her know everything that was going on, and that I would need her to call about the MRI and the EEG. I am praying she does this quickly. If she doesn’t, I’ll be forced to find a new doctor that will be able to help us.

The medicine they have Gage on makes him very hyper. Add that to the fact that he’s 3 years old, and I’m already exhausted. I’m hoping his little body can adjust to the medicine quickly and the meds actually do their job and prevent seizures.

And until we get some real answers, I will keep leaning on this verse:
trust in him

Why I Seem to Have Disappeared… Again

As a mom of seven, and a pregnant one at that, one can only begin to imagine the amount of chaos a “normal” day can contain. That being said, since we got home from our vacation, it has been one thing after another, and I have barely had the chance to sit down – let alone breathe.

Our vacation was wonderful, and I have 3 posts sitting in my drafts right now to tell you all about it. We survived a 5 night cruise to Haiti and Jamaica with all seven kids! And it was awesome! I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

However, shortly after we got home, my son Gage had another seizure. (I posted about his first seizure here: My Child Had A Seizure). The second one came on completely out of nowhere. There were absolutely no warning signs this time. It was my husband’s day off, and we had just come home from getting our taxes done. Gage was laughing and playing and running around the house, chasing my husband. All of a sudden, he hit the floor and went into a seizure. My husband stayed right beside him while I called 911, and we took another trip to the ER. Because he had fallen and hit his head, they ran a CT scan. The first scan came back with some abnormalities, and because those abnormalities were right in the area where they had removed the cyst, they did a more dedicated scan of that area. The second scan came back better, but we still need to discuss the results with a neurologist. He was already scheduled to have an EEG done, and that happened on Tuesday of this week. It required a 2 hour drive to TC Thompson Hospital at Erlanger in Chattanooga, TN. The test was over quickly, and Gage did GREAT. However, thanks to a wreck on the mountain coming home, a detour took us out of our way and caused it to take 4 hours for us to get home. By the time I finally did get home, I was beyond exhausted.

After dinner that evening, my two oldest sons started arguing over dessert. I told them to put the dessert away, get their pajamas on, and get ready for bed. Not two minutes later, one comes running out of the room yelling, “I didn’t do it!” and the other one comes out of the room bleeding from the nose. A trip to the ER and we discovered that my ten year old’s nose was broken in two places. The joy of raising boys! :)

brokennose

We had to meet with an ENT/Plastic Surgeon today, and they will need to put Zander’s nose back into place. Because this will be quite painful, he’ll need to be put under anesthesia. We’ll go back on March 12th to have it taken care of.

So, as you can see, things are quite chaotic around here, and I’m trying to find a moment to catch my breath. I’m doing my best to get things back to normal, but until I know more about what’s going on with Gage, I just can’t commit to anything right now.

Thanks for sticking with me… and if you have any prayers you can spare, I’d certainly appreciate them. I’m longing for things to calm down and life to return to normal chaos without all the doctors and hospitals.

I sure hope things are going well on your end! If you’ve got some good news you’d like to share, I’d LOVE to hear it! Just leave a comment below.

My Child Had A Seizure

trust in him

The title to this post is not something I ever expected to say, but it happened. Wednesday, December 18, 2013, my 2 and a half year old son had a seizure.

The day started out like any other. Gage was his normal self. At dinner time, he refused to eat, but that didn’t surprise me. After all, he’s two, and any parent knows that it’s not unusual for a two year old to decide they just don’t want to eat.

We headed to church a little early that night. The older kids had play practice, so they went upstairs to the sanctuary, and I stayed downstairs in the nursery with Parker, Gage, and Carly. Gage played and was just fine. Laughing, goofing around, playing like there was nothing wrong.

We went upstairs a few minutes before the service was supposed to start, and still, Gage was just fine. He was running from teenager to teenager, laughing and playing.

Then, all of a sudden, that was enough. He climbed up on my lap. This should have sent up a red flag, because he never climbs up in my lap at church. My best friend sits in the pew with us, and he always chooses her over me. It’s not a bad thing, but I should have known something was off when he wanted to sit in my lap.

The congregation started singing, and Gage kept taking his pacifier out of his mouth and looking at it funny. He wouldn’t keep it in his mouth, and he just kept acting like something was wrong with it. Another red flag.

At that moment, I kissed his forehead. I noticed he was a little warm. I thought to myself, “Fabulous. He’s coming down with something. Someone is always sick at Christmas.”

They started singing “Silent Night” and Gage asked me to take off his shoes. No sooner had I gotten both shoes off, and his entire body went stiff. His eyes rolled back into his head, and he started violently shaking.

I got up to leave the sanctuary, turned to my best friend and told her to call 911.

Then, I nearly lost my mind. I clutched Gage to my chest. I didn’t know where to go, or what to do. Somehow, I ended up on the landing between the two staircases in our church, with most of the congregation around me. I can’t even imagine what I looked like during his seizure. I have never  been so scared in my life. I remember praying over and over, “Please, Lord, just let my baby be ok.”

One of the new couples at our church ended up being the biggest blessing to me. I don’t know how, but they convinced me to hand Gage over to the husband. (I didn’t want to hand him over to anyone. I simply wanted to hold my baby and not let go.) But, I did let go. I let Bill hold him, and Bill’s wife, Kelly, held me up when I didn’t have the strength to hold myself up.

Once the seizure started, I lost all sense of time. It felt like an eternity before he stopped shaking. It felt like two eternities before the ambulance arrived.

The EMTs finally did arrive, and they checked Gage over thoroughly and then put him in the back of the ambulance. I climbed back in there with them, and my best friend called my husband at work, and then got in her car and followed the ambulance to the hospital. My husband immediately left work, and drove over the mountain to get to the hospital. I am pretty sure that was the fastest he has ever made it over the mountain. I’m just glad the Lord had his guardian angel on duty that night.

In the ambulance on the way to the hospital, Gage’s temperature was 98.4. No fever at all. When we arrived at the hospital, they took his vitals again, and still no temperature of any kind. His little heart was racing like he had just run a triathlon, though.

We spent the next several hours at the ER. The doctors didn’t really know what to tell us. “Some kids just do this,” they said, like it was perfectly normal that my son had just randomly gone into a violent seizure. “He doesn’t have a fever, but I would guess this was just a febrile seizure.”

I was baffled. Don’t you need to have some kind of temperature in order for a febrile seizure to occur? Gage’s vitals never showed a fever of any kind, so how was that even possible? Yes, he felt a little warm when I kissed his head during church, but not feverish. I know fevers. I’ve had horrible experiences with fevers and most of my children. There just wasn’t any fever.

In my mind, all I could think of was Gage’s surgery and the cyst they had removed from his head. Could these two things be connected? Was it possible that this seizure was some kind of side effect of that cyst? Was my baby going to have to endure more tests, more surgery, more poking and prodding?

(It’s pretty apparent that I am a worrier and do not handle emergencies quite well. That has definitely been established after all of this went down.)

The ER doctors sent us home, telling us that there was a 70% chance Gage would never have another seizure again, but to follow up with our pediatrician the following week.

As luck would have it, our pediatrician just moved home to South Carolina, and we were in the process of changing doctors. We hadn’t even had the chance to meet the kids’ new doctor before this.

We made an appointment with the pediatrician for the day after Christmas. She was so kind, and she really calmed my nerves. She wants to get Gage in with a neurology group, (hopefully the same group that did his surgery), and just be sure that this seizure had nothing to do with the cyst. She’s positive that he’s going to be just fine, but she wants to be absolutely 100% certain there isn’t something they’re missing. That makes me feel better.

While I am still recovering from the shock of having my 2 year old have a seizure in my arms, I am so thankful for God’s timing. I am so grateful that I was at church, surrounded by so many people that love me and love Gage. As soon as it happened, those who weren’t huddled around me, comforting me, were up at the altar praying for my son. The entire church pitched in, took my other children home, made sure they were comforted, cared for, loved, and not alone. I don’t even want to think of what might have happened if I had been home alone (or with just the 3 youngest children) when this happened. Even in the midst of the storm, God is still good.

Every part of me wants to worry about the “What ifs” and possibilities of another seizure, but I am resting on God’s promise in Psalm 56:3, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” I WILL CHOOSE JOY. Even when I am so afraid I cannot stand, I will still rest on His unfailing love.

Do you have any experience with seizures in your children? Were you cool under pressure, or did you lose it like I did?

Retro Baby #Book #Review #Sponsored

Sample Received

Disclaimer: This post is part of a campaign through RoleMommy. I received a sample in order to facilitate my review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own.

retro baby
As a mom of 7, I get asked all the time, “How can you afford all those kids?” My response every time is, “Kids aren’t expensive. STUFF is expensive.” So, when I found out about the book “Retro Baby” by Anne H. Zachry, PhD, OTR/L, that had the words, “Cut back on all the gear and boost your baby’s development with more than 100 time-tested activities,” I knew I would love it.

And I was right!

Dr. Zachry takes readers through a baby’s first year of life. She details what items are really necessary for baby to have, and she lets you know which ones you can do without. Throughout the entire book, there are pages and pages of age-appropriate activities you can do with your little one to get her developing right on track. The best part? Every activity requires items you already have on hand, or don’t require any extra “gear” at all. That means those 100+ activities are free. Did you hear that? It won’t cost you a penny to help your child develop. Awesome.

Another feature of the book that I really like is that at each stage: Birth to 3 months, 4 to 6 months, and so on, she lists all of the developmental milestones you can expect your baby to display during that growth period. They are really right on target at each phase.

I am super impressed with this book, and it is the one book I believe every new (and experienced!) mom should have on hand. This should be the first book a woman reads after she finds out she’s pregnant, and it should be the one book she continue to come back to month after month once her baby is born. It is easy to read, full of information, and incredibly detailed without boring you or overstimulating your grown-up mind. :)

My youngest child, Carly, is now 9 months old. I tried all of the activities in the Retro Baby book with her, and she definitely has her favorite activities. She loves the “If the Hat Fits…” activity where we put the hat on and off her head and my head. She just laughs when either she or I knocks the hat off. I just love this age. I also get the other kids involved in the activities. I’ve noticed Carly (and my other younger children) learn best when they are watching their older siblings. This is a great way to get them all interacting with each other and having fun together.

I have absolutely enjoyed this book, and this will now be my must-give Baby Shower gift for any new moms-to-be. I am so impressed with the book, and I believe it should be in ever household.

To purchase your copy of Retro Baby, head on over to Amazon.com, where you can find it for $13.22 for paperback, or $9.99 for the Kindle version. It’s an excellent value, and the book is worth every penny!

Also, be sure to follow Dr. Zachry on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the TYLENOL® #SmilingItForward Movement #Sponsored

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Disclaimer: I have received information and products from McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc., the makers of TYLENOL®. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks.

Smiling it Forward

There is nothing sweeter than a baby’s smile. Especially seeing that smile after your baby has been sick. It is so difficult to see your little one so miserable. Fever, runny nose, swollen gums. These are all things that break our hearts as moms. But then, all of a sudden, there’s a silver lining. That sweet baby smile that lets you know she is on the mend and is finally starting to feel better.

Being a mom of 7, I’ve seen lots of sickness, and I’ve seen lots of sweet smiles. And the one medicine I can always count on to comfort my little ones and get them on the road to feeling better faster, is Tylenol. Tylenol helps bring down their fever, dulls the pain of teething, and just helps make everything a little bit better.

Infants’ Tylenol is the #1 brand recommended by pediatricians when it comes to reducing fever, relieving pain in children, and making little ones start to feel better. It’s been used and trusted by moms for over 20 years. (I’ve been using it for 16 years with each of my children.) Infants’ Tylenol relieves minor aches and pains caused by headache, sore throat, toothache, teething, the common cold, and the flu, and it also temporarily reduces fever. For more information about Tylenol, and to view a full list of their products, please visit www.Tylenol.com. (Please be sure to discuss with your pediatrician the proper dosage of Infants’ Tylenol if your child is under the age of 2. If your child is over 2 years old, please follow the dosing instructions on the box carefully. Always talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your child or any medicines.)

tylenol

Right now, the makers of Tylenol have teamed up with How I Met Your Mother star, and mother of two, Alyson Hannigan, to launch the SMILING IT FORWARD™ campaign. Their goal is to set the power of giving in motion. By sharing smiles of good health, you can help children in need. And it’s so easy to participate! All you have to do is share a photo that makes you smile at www.SmilingIitForward.com. With every photo shared, Tylenol will make a $1 donation to Children’s Health Fund. These donations will help ensure a doctor’s visit is always possible for children in need. Children’s Health Fund was founded by Dr. Irwin Redlener and singer/songwriter Paul Simon. For more than 25 years, they have deployed a fleet of 50 mobile medical clinics to underprivileged neighborhoods. Because of this, thousands of children and families in need are being brought high-quality healthcare to thousands of children and families in need across the United States.

Moms (or anyone!) can log onto www.SmilingitForward.com right now to view the Tylenol Smile Gallery, get to know Mom Ambassador Alyson Hannigan, learn more about Children’s Health Fund, and even get tips to keep their families smiling all through cold and flu season from leading pediatrician Dr. Tanya Altmann.

While you’re on www.SmilingitForward.com, be sure to upload a photo (or two, or three) of your own to help raise money for this awesome cause. I’ve already uploaded my photo – I shared the picture of Carly at the top of this post. Her sweet, sweet smile makes my day… every day! I’d love to log on to the Smiling it Forward website and see pictures of your smiling children. Not only will we all be smiling at the irresistible faces plastered all over the website, but we can all smile knowing that we are helping to make a difference in the life of a child somewhere.

infant tylenol

To learn more about the Smiling it Forward campaign, visit www.SmilingitForward.com. To learn more about Tylenol, visit www.Tylenol.com. And to learn more about Children’s Health Fund, please visit www.ChildrensHealthFund.org.

#Sponsored: Giving the Gift of Sleep from @Pampers #DDDivas #DivasSleep {Giveaway}

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Disclaimer: This review was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Pampers. I was provided the featured product free of charge to facilitate my review, but all opinions are 100% mine.

Pampers Gift of Sleep

I recently had the opportunity to give “The Gift of Sleep” to a new mom in my community thanks to Double Duty Divas and Pampers. What an honor – and what fun I had!

First, I had to think of a mom who had recently given birth and I felt could use the gift of sleep. Having just given birth to my seventh baby this past February, I understand exactly what the gift of sleep could mean to a mom.

My mind immediately went to a sweet woman that I had the opportunity to meet through my local MOPS group. She recently gave birth to her 4th child, a sweet little boy named Jaxon. (Talk about a cutie!) I knew that with 4 children under the age of 9, Christy would appreciate the gift of sleep.)

Pampers sent me a $100 Visa Gift Card to put together my version of “The Gift of Sleep.” So many ideas started running through my mind, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun I had shopping for Christy, her husband Allan, and their new baby Jaxon. I purchased a bunch of items and put them all into a reusable tote. (After all, what mom doesn’t love somewhere to store stuff?!)

Pampers Gift of Sleep

Want to know what was included in the gift basket?

For Mom & Dad:

  • Large soft, snuggly blanket
  • His & Hers Fuzzy Slippers
  • His & Hers Mugs
  • Sleepytime Tea
  • Soothe & Sleep Bubble Bath
  • Lavender Scented Oil with a vase and decorative reeds

For Baby:

  • Pampers Swaddlers (of course!)
  • Fuzzy Elephant Sleep Sack
  • Soft & Cuddly Elephant Blanket Pal
  • Calming Baby Bath & Lotion
  • Baby Bedtime Washcloths

I wrapped the tote with a large bow, and headed over to Christy’s house to deliver her gift.

Giving the Gift of Sleep

When I arrived to deliver the gift, I discovered that my timing could not have been more perfect. Christy’s husband had been nominated for a very prestigious award, and they were preparing to leave for an overnight trip to attend a special banquet. It was going to be their first night away from baby Jaxon. I’m hoping the items in the basket helped calm them while they were away, and that the items for Jaxon helped him sleep through the night for his caregivers.

It was such a treat to be able to spoil another mom with this gift, and I am so thankful for Double Duty Divas and Pampers for allowing me to do just that.

win the gift of sleep

Pampers knows that sleep is important to moms, and that moms crave a diaper that provides superior overnight protection. It’s just no fun when your baby wakes up in the middle of the night soaked. :( So, Pampers has taken what they know, and they’ve designed a diaper that provides up to 12 hours of protection. No more 3am wake-up calls from a soaking wet baby! Be sure to check out the new and improved Pampers Swaddlers and Pampers Baby Dry diapers.

I also want to encourage you to get to know Pampers on a social level by checking them out in the following ways:

I’ve given one mom the Gift of Sleep. Now, Pampers wants to give YOU the chance to win the gift of sleep, either for yourself or for a new mom in your life. One winner will receive a Sleep Sheep Sound Machine, Cozy Blankets for Mom and Baby, and a $50 Gift Card. The giveaway will end October 28th at 11:59pm. To enter, use the rafflecopter gadget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

End of the Year Teacher Gifts

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This year, I did something very similar to what I did in 2011 at Christmas for teacher gifts. I just changed it up a little bit.

I started by having each of the kids write down 25 – 30 words and/or phrases to describe their teacher(s). I don’t help them with this at all. I make them come up with the words and phrases all by themselves. It sounds like a lot, but once they get going, it’s harder to get them to stop than it was to get them started.

Then, using my photo editor, I turned those words and phrases into a 5×7 sized word art and then put it in a frame. Each teacher also received a blue mason jar full of freshly picked buttercups.

Here are pictures of each of the teachers’ gifts….

First, is Lucy’s teacher, Mrs. Arnick. Lucy was in Kindergarten this year, and this was her first experience with any type of school setting. She ended up just loving her teacher and her class. She excelled in everything and has gone from not being able to read or write anything to reading level 2 books and writing full sentences. (Some sentences I have to have her read to me, but she’s doing great!) Her favorite subject this year was math. She was the first kid in her class to count all the way to 100. (And she does this at least 50 times a day for me at home.) I loved the phrases that Lucy came up with to describe her teacher: “She listens when I talk to her.” or “Reads to us.” “Super good teacher.” Lucy said that her teacher loved her gift. :)

kindergarten teacher gift

Next, we have Jace’s teacher, Mrs. Bridges. I was really worried about how Jace would do in school this year. Last year, he had the most amazing teacher. She is a good, godly woman, and she has become such a good friend to the family. I was sure, though, that Jace’s teacher this year wouldn’t hold a candle to Mrs. Evans. I was wrong. Jace ended up getting a teacher this year that is exactly what he needed: another godly woman who poured her heart and soul into teaching these kids. Jace took to her like glue this year, and he came home crying yesterday (the last day of school) because he’s moving out of the primary school next year and he won’t get to see Mrs. Bridges every day. Jace’s words to describe Mrs. Bridges made me cry, “She loves Jesus and isn’t afraid to show it.” “I can talk to her about anything.” “I can trust her.” Jace also said that she cried when she opened her gift. <3

second grade teacher gift

Lastly, Zander had two teachers this year: Mrs. Garrison and Mrs. Todd. We had a hard time with Mrs. Garrison, but luckily, Mrs. Todd was there to help pull Zander through this year. He finished the year with straight As and a perfect score on the English CRCT. (State mandated end of the year testing.) Plus, he exceeded in every other subject on his CRCTs. I really think that’s because of Mrs. Todd and her help this year. Here is Mrs. Garrison’s gift:

fourth grade teachers gift

When I sat down to work on these (at 11pm the night before the last day of school), the first paper full of descriptions that I read was Mrs. Todd’s. I absolutely lost it. Phrases like “A good person that loves children.” “A godly woman.” “A good influence.” all filled the page. But the one that got me most was, “I can talk to her when no one will listen.” That’s the kind of teacher Zander needs, and I am so thankful Zander got it in Mrs. Todd.

fourth grade teacher gift

I created the artwork with Photoshop CS, printed on cardstock, and put into a 5×7 frame from the Dollar Store. The blue mason jars came from Amazon.  The tags on the jars came from Party On Designs. (It’s a free printable.)

This is a fun, easy gift to create, and it comes from the heart.

Are you doing teacher gifts this year? If so, what are they?

Have a Bad Mother’s Day? Read This.

Something has rubbed me the wrong way today, and I just can’t keep quiet about it any longer.

My facebook newsfeed today has been full of moms complaining about their Mother’s Day. I’ve read quotes like the following:

  • My husband didn’t bother to get me the $600 bracelet I wanted.
  • All I wanted was a day to myself. So much for that.
  • What a crappy Mothers Day. I’m so tired of this. I just want to be done.
  • All I got for Mother’s Day were stupid handmade gifts from the kids. (This was a direct quote. Someone really said these exact words.) :(
  • Can you believe I still had to do laundry and dishes on Mothers Day?

Or my absolute favorite…

  • My kids wouldn’t leave me alone all day!

My heart hurts. When did motherhood become such a bad thing? And why, the one day of the year when we celebrate Moms, do we expect to get a day off from motherhood?

I’m going to remind you all of something you already know: Children are a gift from God.

Psalm 127: 3 – 5
Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed.

I’m not just talking about having a large number of children. Whether you have one child or twenty, you have been blessed by God. Our children should be treated as treasures and not as trials.

Mothers Day 2013

I cannot help but think of the fact that we are God’s children. I am certain that not a day goes by where we don’t disappoint Him. Aren’t you thankful that instead of lashing out at us, or being annoyed by us, He loves us anyway? He never takes “time off” from us, either. He is always there, listening, holding out His hand, wanting to be a part of our lives. He spends every moment wanting more from us, and the closer we are to Him, the better all of our other relationships will be. If we spend more time nurturing our relationship with Christ, we will be kind, gentle, loving, and slow to anger with our husbands and our children. Really.

Am I saying that as a mom I never get tired and want to give up? Absolutely not. But my kids don’t know when I’m feeling that way, and I can promise that my Facebook friends don’t know it either.

When I get overwhelmed, I turn to Jesus and change my attitude. I turn on the gospel music station and sing songs of praise, or I take a deep breath and whisper a prayer to pull me through. There are some days when I whisper LOTS of prayers. And at the close of every day, I can still say that I am truly thankful for all that God has given me.

Your children won’t be little forever. Your sink won’t always be overflowing with dishes. You won’t always feel as stressed out as you do right now.

One day, your children will grow up and move out. You’ll be left alone with nothing but your thoughts. If you took the time to love and cherish your children, one day they will love, honor, and respect you. If you spend your time every day letting them know how much they annoy you or what a bother they are, I’d be willing to bet they won’t come around to bother you once they have the choice. You’ll be stuck at home, all alone, just wishing for something as little as a phone call.

If you didn’t get the Mother’s Day present that you wanted, or you didn’t get to sleep in because the baby needed to eat, find a reason to rejoice and praise Him anyway. Be thankful that your child wants to be with you. Be grateful that your child isn’t lying in a hospital bed fighting for life. Be glad that your child loved you enough to make you 15 cards for Mothers Day.

Let your children know how much you love them. Let them know that you value them and WANT to spend time with them. Then, get out there and actually do it! Have picnics, make mudpies, and hug them until they pull away. You’ll both be happier.

Edited to add: Ask a mom that has been trying to conceive about her Mother’s Day. Or ask the mom that has lost a child. Ask them how much your comments about “quitting motherhood” make them feel. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t like their answer, because I’m pretty sure that they would give just about anything to experience those moments that we often take for granted. Stop thinking only about yourself and what you don’t have, or you’ll miss the whole world around you and all the blessings you already have.

What’s Wrong with Staying Covered while Breastfeeding?

Before I begin this post, let me state that I am a breastfeeding mom. I have breastfed 6 of my 7 children, and several of them made it past the one year mark. (One didn’t even wean until he was 19 months old.)

That being said, I support breastfeeding moms.

Except when it comes to whipping your breast out in public and not putting a blanket or cover over yourself.

I do not have a problem with breastfeeding. I have a problem with how “today’s woman” is so determined that it’s ok to flash an entire restaurant because she is feeding her baby.

Now, I realize I may be in the minority when it comes to this issue. After all, Luvs has a commercial out showing a second time mom that has no problem being uncovered. And don’t even get me started about the post over on The Leaky Boob about Fear and Breastfeeding. It has nothing to do with fear. Ok, well maybe it does, but not the kind of fear she is insinuating in her article. I fear the Lord, and I do not want to do anything that will cause Him shame. I fully believe that even how I present myself while breastfeeding in public can either bring Him glory or cause Him shame.

I understand the remark, “Everyone wants to see your boobs – unless you are feeding a baby,” and in today’s culture, that does seem to be true. BUT, there are many of us who DON’T want to see your breasts – whether you are in a bikini on the beach, wearing a “black tie” dress for your walk down the red carpet, or even if you are feeding your baby.

I do not wear bikinis. In fact, I cannot even remember the last time I put on a bathing suit and didn’t at least have a pair of long shorts or capris over it.

I do not wear low cut tops. If I do, I wear a camisole or tank top underneath it.

And when I breastfeed – even if I am at home with just the youngest 3 kids, I still throw a blanket over myself.

Why?

Photo Credit: Bebe au Lait. Click the picture to be taken to the website.

Photo Credit: Bebe au Lait. Click the picture to be taken to the website.

Because I believe in modesty, and I believe that as a woman striving to be like Christ, it is my duty to keep “private” parts covered and for my husband’s eyes only.

Like it or not, breasts are sexual as well as functional. Yes, God gave them to us so that we can feed our children. I can give you verse after verse in the Bible that references breastfeeding. But I can also give you many verses that refer to the breasts as pleasure for sex.

What about the man that struggles with a pornography addiction? And there you sit, right next to him, fully exposing your chest. You are causing that man’s mind to wander. Yes, he is responsible for his own thoughts, but as a woman, YOU are responsible for what you cause others to think. (Titus 2:5 – “To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”)

The entire topic of exposing yourself while breastfeeding makes me think of Proverbs 11:22 – “As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.”

My husband and I have discussed this topic many times over the years. I know firsthand that he appreciates the lengths I go to in order to stay covered up. I know he doesn’t want my breasts exposed for the world to see. He has always been my biggest breastfeeding supporter, and I truly believe it’s because I choose to do it in a modest and tactful way.

Now, I can hear you through the computer: “But, my baby doesn’t like being covered up.” … “But my baby will get too hot.” … “But I cannot bond with my baby if I cannot look at her.” … “But, but, but….”

To all those buts, I say, “Baloney.”

Please scroll back up and read the second sentence of this post. I have breastfed 6 children. Through summer and winter, with blankets, cover-ups, or whatever I could find to throw over me at any given time.

Yes, we did go through stages where baby didn’t like to be covered. But, my baby isn’t the boss. From an early age, they will come to understand that sometimes they will just have to deal with what they are given. If they continue to pull the cover off, they are taken off the breast and are allowed to nurse again after a few minutes. Not one of my babies has ever starved or suffocated from being covered up while nursing. I promise.

Nursing covers are fantastic when baby wants to try to pull a blanket off. Because the cover goes around your neck, baby can’t pull it off. And most nursing covers now offer a curved neckline that allows you to see baby (and vice versa) while shielding your chest from the world.

So, please, ladies. The next time you are out and need to feed your baby, take a moment to cover yourself – or even just pull your shirt down and keep yourself covered. I’m asking this on behalf of my husband, and many many other men out there that are trying to keep their minds and hearts focused on Christ and don’t want to see what you have to offer.

I’d love to see some women who are willing to take a stand with me and cover up while nursing. What do you say? Let’s show the world that there are still discreet, respectable, God-honoring women who want to please the Lord out there.

Edited to add: Thanks to the comments on this post, I realize that you can be discreet without using a cover. My problem is not covered vs. uncovered, my problem is with those that refuse to show any form of discretion and feel the need to be vocal about their opinion. This post is simply my way of voicing MY opinion about the topic. This blog is based on my thoughts, opinions, and convictions, and should be respected as such. 

Also edited to add: I am no longer going to take the time to reply to comments on this thread. Those comments that do not use foul language or outright attack my character as a person or a mother will be still be approved whether you agree with me or not. I have stated my opinion in this post and do not have time to reiterate the same opinions over and over. If you see this as you having “won” or having the last word, so be it. I know where I stand: Firmly planted on the Bible, and that’s where I plan to stay.

Photo Credit: The photo used in this article is from BebeAuLait.com – a place that sells some of the most beautiful nursing covers you will find online. I personally own and use several of their covers. This is not an affiliate link, and I am not making any money off of this post, I’m just thankful that companies like Bebe au Lait exist and believe their website should be shared.

Regarding Comments: I am sure there will be many who disagree with this post, and that is your prerogative. However, nasty, spiteful, or unnecessary comments will not be approved. Period. You are welcome to disagree, just do it respectfully.

Car Seat Safety Tips from Chicco {Sponsored}

Sponsored Post

For my time in creating this post, I will receive a gift card.

I am probably what many would call a “Car Seat Nazi.” I believe that it’s so important to understand car seat laws and safety guidelines in order to keep your child safe when you are on the road. I am never mean in my approach when I see something that shouldn’t be happening, but I will kindly point out what should be fixed. (Well, let me rephrase that. If I happen to stop at a light and the person in the car next to me is letting their 3 year old child jump all over the car and isn’t buckled in, I may not be very nice.)

The first time I purchased a car seat, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I just went and bought the prettiest car seat I could afford. Boy, have things ever changed. Six kids later, when it comes to purchasing a car seat, I find myself researching safety ratings, reading other user reviews, and checking out what other Mom Bloggers have to say about the car seat. Why? Because I need to know that the investment I’m about to make is the best investment for my child. I want to know that it is safe, reliable, and that it’s going to work well in my vehicle.

Chicco Logo

I want to share a few Car Seat Safety Tips from Julie Prom, the Car Seat Safety Advocate for Chicco:

  • Rear-facing is safest . The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommend rear-facing as long as possible. Parents should keep child rear-facing until at least 2 years old, longer if the car safety seat weight and height limit allows. Young children are fragile and are best protected in a rear-facing car seat. To ensure a child can stay rear-facing as long as possible, purchase a convertible seat when your baby outgrows the infant seat.
  • Most children younger than 5-years old are not mature enough to sit without a full harness. Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until at least 5 or 6 years old.
  • Always buckle your baby into the safety seat first, and then cover the baby with blankets. Avoid bulky clothing and add-on products such as car seat buntings. This can interfere with proper harness fit and crash performance of the seat. A good trick for older children is to buckle them in without their jacket and then put it back on them backwards over the harness. Not only do these techniques ensure proper harness fit, but also avoids overheating by allowing the baby to be easily uncovered or the child to take his jacket off once the car gets warmer.
  • Most common mistakes can be avoided by simply following manufacturers’ instructions. All car seats must meet stringent Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to be sold in the U.S. It is when they are not used correctly that makes them unsafe. Always read and follow the instructions for the safety seat. Also, read the vehicle owner’s manual section on child restraints.
  • Always use the top tether when installing a forward-facing car seat. The tether reduces movement of a car seat in a crash and helps to achieve a tight installation.

NextFit Gravity HiChicco has recently released a new car seat called the Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat. Here are some benefits of this car seat:

  • Protects your child through the next stage of growth. (5 – 65 pounds)
  • Fits your vehicle. Fits your child.
  • Simply. Accurately. Securely.

I hope you’ll consider checking out the Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat if you are in the market for a new seat for your child. We will soon be needing a convertible car seat for Carly, and the NextFit is definitely the one I will be checking out and considering for our baby girl.

For more information about the Chicco Next Fit Convertible Car Seat, please check out the following resources:

NextFit Logo
Disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Chicco and I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Getting the Super Mom Complex Under Control

beth moore quote

In my effort to PURGE this year, I have decided that my Super Mom Complex needs to be reigned in and brought under control.

I don’t know how you are as a mom, but I think I can do it all. The problem is, I’ve been doing so much for everyone else that I have neglected to take the time for myself and my marriage.

So often it seems like hubby and I get pushed to the side. The kids need this, the kids have to go here, the kids, the kids, the kids. And, I try to do everything I can. But, I’ve had enough. My relationship with Christ, my quiet time with Him, AND my relationship with my husband all need to come before anything else.

Now, hear me out. I am not saying that I’m going to stop doing things for my kids. What I am saying is that I’m going to be much more selective about the things I do for them. Do I need to run myself ragged  trying to get everything done they need to get done? (“Moooom, I need 4 dozen cupcakes by tomorrow!”) Absolutely not. I will still do my best to help them, but they are going to have to learn to be more responsible to do things for themselves.

On Tuesday, I went back to my OB/GYN for my 35/36 week ultrasound and check up. At my last appointment, I had been diagnosed with tonsillitis and treated with antibiotics. The doc took another look at my throat and told me that it actually looked worse than it did at the time of diagnosis. For the past 2 weeks, I have killed myself getting the boys to their surgeries, doing things for the older kids for school, ushering the kids everywhere they needed to go, and doing all the chores that the kids somehow seem to always get out of, that I neglected to take any time for myself and just rest. Now, I have to go see a specialist because this infection is so severe that it can actually become dangerous during pregnancy. If I had just taken a few hours here and there and taken a nap – or even just rested, I might not be in this predicament at all.

Then, yesterday, I was listening to the radio, and I heard the Beth Moore quote that I posted above, “No one can do a thousand things to the glory of God.” It was like a stone right between the eyes. Like God was speaking to me through the radio.

I try to do so much for everyone else, and I say that I’m doing it all to the glory of God, but I can’t be. If I am taking on so much that I can hardly function, I am not doing anything for His glory.

Therefore, I’m calling a mom time out. I’ve got a baby coming in the next 2 – 4 weeks, and I need to just chill out until she comes. The kids will be fine, and if they need something, they are perfectly capable of getting off the couch and getting it themselves. I need a break.

Are you suffering from the Super Mom Complex? What have you done to get it under control?

After Ear Tube Surgery

Recently, my 21 month old had surgery where they removed his adenoids and put tubes in his ears.

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

After we got home, I had about a bazillion questions, but the more I googled, the more frustrated I became. I just couldn’t find any answers to all the questions that I had.

So, I figured I would put up a post and tell you what you might expect to see after your child has a similar surgery. Please note that what Gage experienced after his surgery may not be what your child experiences, but since I couldn’t find any information out there, I want people to have a starting point.

First, the inside of your child’s ears will be gross. I mean really, really gross. There’s lots of drainage, and the gunk builds up in the ear canal and directly outside of it. This is normal. And, thankfully, it disappears within just a few days. (Where it goes, I have no idea… except for the chunk of gunk Gage pulled out of his ear and then handed to me. Ick!!)

There will be discharge for several days after surgery. With Gage, his ears actually started pouring out blood. This absolutely freaked me out, so we called the doctor that performed the surgery and then headed to the ER. It turns out that Gage’s ears were probably infected at the time of the surgery, and that is what caused them to bleed so badly and run a very high fever.

They started Gage on another round of antibiotics, and by the next day he was completely back to normal. No more bleeding ears, no more fever, just his happy little self.

Typically kids don’t have any issues after surgery, but it IS possible for complications to arise – especially if your child’s ears were infected at the time of surgery.

Also, if your child has their adenoids removed, they will have VERY bad breath for at least 2 weeks. (Though it can last up to 4 weeks.) If you are pregnant, the smell of their breath can literally knock you to the floor. It is bad. But, it is normal, and it is all part of the healing process. Their nose will also run quite a bit. Keep lots of tissues or Boogie Wipes on hand.

If you have any complications after your child’s surgery, CALL THE DOCTOR. They will be able to tell you exactly what is going on, or if you need to take a trip to the Emergency Room.

For the record, I have noticed a HUGE difference in Gage since his surgery. I absolutely believe he can hear better because now he is trying to talk so much more, and his words are so much clearer. He is sleeping through the night, and he is just as happy as can be. I am so glad we had this surgery done. Even though there were complications, I still think this was the best choice for him.

Did your child have tubes put in his ears? What was your experience?

Angry Dad Screams at Daughter: What Would You Do?

Photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net

Photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net

Today my 4 year old had his second dental surgery. I knew it was going to be more complex than his last surgery, so I was prepared to sit in the waiting room for awhile. I was not, however, prepared for what would go down in the waiting room while we were there.

My husband couldn’t go to Parker’s procedure with me today. His work schedule just didn’t allow for it. Since I had a sitter for Gage, I wasn’t too worried about it. After all, I’ve taken the kids to lots of doctors appointments and procedures alone. This wouldn’t be any big deal.

Shortly after we arrived, they ushered Parker back to get his vitals and give him a dose of happy juice. With Parker, the happy juice kicks in after about 10 minutes, and I cannot let him off my lap. He would seriously hurt himself if I did.

Just before Parker got his happy juice, a dad and his daughter walked into the dentist’s office. They signed in, filled out the paperwork, and then sat down. Just before they took Parker back to sedate him, the little girl received her own dose of happy juice.

Rather than sit his daughter on his lap, the dad put his daughter in the chair beside him – which also happened to be right next to me. Then, he hands her his iPad.

Ok, I thought to myself, he’s got a good 10 – 15 minutes before her happy juice kicks in. Hopefully he’ll be smart enough to take the iPad away from her.

Wrong.

10 minutes after she got the happy juice, the little girl decided she wanted to get up and walk. As she went to get up, the iPad flipped off her lap and landed face down on the wood floor. You could hear the screen shatter as it hit the ground.

The dad flies into a rage, screaming at his daughter for doing this. He’s calling her stupid, an idiot, and all sorts of other names that horrified me.

I couldn’t hold my tongue. I turned to him and said, “Sir. Calm down.” He then goes off on me… telling ME what an idiot his daughter is and if she hadn’t been so stupid, this never would have happened.

The poor girl is in tears by now. My heart is breaking and I say, “It wasn’t her fault. It was an accident.”

To which he replies, “Yeah, an $800 accident that never should have happened and only happened because she’s too dumb to hold onto the iPad.”

At this point, my blood is boiling. I mumbled, (making sure it was plenty loud enough for him to hear me), “You are the idiot that gave your six year old an $800 iPad to play with while she’s on happy juice.”

He tells me to “BLANK off,” and that’s the end of our conversation. (Although I had SO much more I wanted to say.) He then proceeds to call someone, (I’m assuming it was his wife), and tell them how stupid his daughter is…

I immediately sent a text to my husband, using my “angry thumbs,” and tell him how upset I am over how this guy is treating his daughter. All I wanted to do was snatch up that little girl and tell her it was ok… and then punch her father in the face.

They came out shortly after that and took her back to sedation, so I was left alone in the waiting room with this guy. I’m proud of myself for showing self control, because honestly – all I wanted to do was slug him. Hard.

I am not a perfect person, and I am not a perfect parent by any means. But, when I make the mistake of screaming at my kids, (which I do more often than I would ever like to admit), I always apologize. Usually immediately, but if not, I apologize shortly afterward. Then, that night, I make it a point to pull that child aside at bedtime and pray with them. I confess my sin to God in front of them so they know that not only do I need to make things right with them, I also need to make things right with God and get His forgiveness as well.

To watch this dad scream and yell at and about his daughter literally ripped my heart out. While I am thankful she was on happy juice, and she probably won’t remember this first hand, I have a horrible feeling that he will never let her forget it.

In my heart, I hoped that John Quinones with ABC’s WWYD would come out from behind closed doors and tell me this was all just an act. But, it didn’t happen. That poor little girl really had to suffer through a verbal beating from her father.

I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. I felt the need to step in and protect that little girl. Would you have done the same, or would you have made a different choice? I’m interested to hear what you would have done.

 

What Pinterest is Doing to Motherhood

pinterest vs motherhood

As a mom, we want everything to be perfect. We want the perfect children, the perfect house, the perfect husband, the perfect life. And with just a few clicks of a mouse, we can “pin” all our dreams and desires onto a board in the hopes that someday we will turn those pins into reality.

I am blessed to have lots of mom friends, and I am so thankful for those friends. However, my heart is heavy because some of them are feeling guilty because they can’t achieve a pinterest-perfect life.

One mom has 4 children and had to opt for store bought cookies for her kids’ school Christmas parties. When she walked into each room, her guilt intensified at the site of reindeer pretzel cookies, snowman donuts, and other pinterest discovered goodies that covered the tables.

Another mom friend has 2 children and confessed that she was feeling guilty that she had to buy the cheap disposable diapers when all the “good moms” were going the cloth route.

What is going on here? When did snowman donuts, reindeer cookies, and making your own baby food become so much more important than teaching our children the things that really matter? We are teaching our children that it’s important to do things better than everyone else, to always have “the best,” and that stuff is more important than the intangible items. We are no longer helping form our children for God’s Army, but instead we are showing them how much control the world really has over us.

And, believe me, I am SO guilty of this. I can’t point fingers at anyone, because I have 3 fingers pointing right back at me.

In fact, let me just share with you my biggest flub up of 2012… My head hangs in shame as I share this with you…

When I was hanging up Christmas decorations this year, I went all out. Snowflakes hanging from the ceiling, tree trimmed in all it’s glory, icicles on the window, wrapping paper on all the pictures… I honestly about killed myself making Christmas “perfect” in our house.

My husband asked why I decided to go all out this year, and my response was, “I want to have the most pinterest-worthy house around.”

Hand – smack forehead.

I totally screwed up Christmas. Sure, I wanted the kids to love it, but I had so much more in mind. I wanted everyone to want to pin my Christmas decorations, mimic them, and drive tons more traffic to my blog.

It honestly didn’t even hit me until I read a status update on Facebook that said, “As mothers, the measures I believe we should judge ourselves on are actually simple: its not the size or “pinterest-worthiness” of their first birthday cake. It’s the amount of unconditional love and affection we give to our children, the values and confidence we instill in them, the quality of the time we spend with them, the examples we set for them in our actions as their role models…

That one quote cut me to the core. What have I been doing?! Since when does what other people (pinners) think of my home, my family, my blog mean more than what GOD thinks? Am I doing things for HIS glory, or for the glory of man?

I pretty much answered my own question right then and there, and it brought me under a deep conviction.

Am I saying pinterest is evil? No, not really. I’m sure I will still pin things that I like. Thanks to pinterest, I have found some really great recipes that my family enjoys, and I’ve saved money by making our own laundry soap, fabric softener, and other things. There IS good in Pinterest…. in moderation.

However, from now on, my relationship with my Savior comes first, followed by my relationship with my family. No longer will I worry or fret over how “pinterest-worthy” my decorations, my family, my blog, or anything else in my life might be. Instead, I want to know how God-worthy and God-honoring they are. I want my goal to be to please my Savoir, not anyone that might happen by my blog.

If I have to give up time with my husband or my children in order to complete a pinterest project, it will wait until I have “me” time… when the kids are in bed and hubby is working late. If it takes months for me to find that me time, then it will take me months to complete that pinterest project. End of story. No longer will my family compete for my attention because I have a board full of “Must Makes” that I just have to complete.

And if I find that I need to buy disposable diapers, cookies made by the grocery store bakery, or candles that I don’t get to cover in glitter and give as gifts, that’s ok to. I will not beat myself up for wanting to give the time to my family instead of screaming “Look what I did!” for all the pinterest-world to see.

I wrote this post as a reminder of myself of how much I am missing out on by worrying about what everyone else thinks. These are my convictions, and my feelings. I am not writing this to upset or anger anyone, just to maybe make you think a little bit. We are all entitled to our own opinions. If pinterest has helped you, be thankful for that. For me, it became too much and I need to back off and use it in a way that will not harm my family.

What are your thoughts on the pinterest movement? Is it helpful or harmful to motherhood in today’s world?

Keeping Christ in Christmas with Jingles the Elf

Back in 2009, I did a review for Jingles the Elf. Every year since then, we have continued the tradition of Jingles’ arrival on December 1st.

However, this year, I am determined to do things quite differently.

I don’t know how it is in your house, but in my house, my kids seem to have caught a case of the “Gimme’s”. (“Gimme this, gimme that.) With my husband’s job situation being what it is, there just won’t be an abundance of gifts this year. And, besides… that’s not what Christmas is all about.

So, this year, I’m doing something completely different. Yes, Jingles will still arrive, and yes, we will still have fun finding him around the house. However, this year, Jingles has a very important job to do. And, Santa has given each of my kids a job to do as well.

Dying to know more?

Well, Jingles will arrive in a box from the North Pole tomorrow night. Only this year, the box won’t be the typical Jingles keepsake box. Instead, inside the box, Jingles will be blanketed in “snow” from the North Pole, and he will have a letter from Santa.

Thanks to Pinterest, I came across this blog post by a fellow Christian mom. Her Santa Letter was fantastic… but it didn’t exactly fit my kids. So, I used many of her ideas, but I put them into my own words and added things that would pertain to my kids.

Here is what my Santa Letter says:

Dear Ashley, Zander, Jace, Lucy, Parker, and Gage,

I hope you are all having a great Christmas season, and that you are being good little boys and girls for your mom and dad. I heard that you have a new little sister on the way. I want you to make sure you are helping Mom and Dad get ready for the new baby to be born. There’s going to be lots you can do to help, and if you don’t know what they need, just ask them.

A few years ago, I sent Jingles your way to play hide and go seek. But this year, I have given him a very important job! He’s not just here to play games and have fun, but he’s here to keep a very close eye on each one of you.

Right now, we are in what people call the Christmas season. Things can really get kind of crazy. It seems like everywhere you go, you hear people that have a horrible case of the “gimme’s.” What’s a gimme? They say, “Gimme this. Gimme that. Gimme all those things!”  I’m sure you have been telling your Mom and Dad what you want for Christmas. And that’s ok. It’s ok to want a few things, but I see people – both grown ups and children – that get very selfish. They want so many things that they seem to forget the whole reason we celebrate Christmas.

Do you know why we celebrate Christmas?

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son…” That means that a very long time ago, God gave the very first Christmas present to the whole wide world: His Son. And Jesus was born so that He could die on the cross and we could live forever with them in Heaven. Pretty amazing gift, isn’t it?

As you are getting ready for Christmas, I don’t want you to forget about Jesus. Yes, I want you to have fun. I want you to drink lots of hot chocolate (with extra marshmallows!), sing Christmas songs, eat candy canes, and give and open presents. But what I don’t want is you to forget the most important present: God’s love for all of us and the gift of His Son, Jesus. It is so important that you show love to others. Be kind to other people. Help other people. (Yes, even your mom, dad, and siblings.) By doing this, you will show people how wonderful Jesus is.

So, Jingles is here to help you kids, and your mom and dad, remember the most important parts of Christmas. Jingles will hang out at your house, watching everything that happens, and making sure that each of you:

  • Show love to one another
  • Always speak kindly to each other
  • Help each other without complaining
  • Help your friends if they need it
  • Give things to people who do not have all the wonderful things you have. (Doesn’t have to be objects, you can give them love, friendship, and other things.)
  • Remember that God loves you all so very much.

And, I’m giving each of YOU a job to do too! Every night, when you sit down to pray together as a family, I want every person to write down one thing they did to show the love of Jesus that day. Mom or Dad can write the list, and Jingles will share it with me when he reports back that night. I want you to find one way every day to be kind or help someone out. That’s not too hard, is it?

Take good care of Jingles, and have lots of fun sharing the love of Jesus this Christmas. I know you are all good kids, and I can’t wait to hear a good report from Jingles every night.

With much love,
Santa

This was printed out on fancy Christmas paper and will be tucked into the box with Jingles.

It is so important to me that my kids remember the true meaning of Christmas this year… and every year. I want them to show the love of Jesus whether they are at home or away, and I’m really hoping this helps make a difference.

I will keep you posted either here on the blog or through our Facebook page and let you know how it goes over with the kids. I’m also going to try (try!!) to post daily pictures of where the kids find Jingles. I hope you’ll stay tuned!

How do you keep Christ in Christmas?