Sunday, April 13, 2014

My Lack-of-a-Nap Breakdown & Moms' Night Out

I cried yesterday. I mean cried and cried and cried.

Want to know why?

Because I didn't get to take a NAP!

Oh yes, I'm serious.

I had my heart set on this long afternoon nap... I was going to put Selah down and force Eden to watch TV if she wouldn't sleep, and I was going to recover from the last four nights of which Selah has been in and out of my bed preventing me from sleeping.

But sweet, dear Eden refused to do anything close to sleeping or even quietly watching TV and instead banged around for nearly two hours.

And I felt like the whole world was caving in.

Please tell me you've been there before?

It's those Mommy Moments, when anyone looking in would think WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU GET IT TOGETHER IT'S JUST A NAP but to you it's lack of sleep combined with kids who don't listen and a dirty house and no one who understands and the pressure and OMG MOTHERHOOD.


Thankfully, Tyler ended up taking the kids to the park, and though I never got a nap, I got some quiet time and some cleaning time and eventually started feeling more like myself.

Though some people might think so, I know I'm not crazy in my lack-of-a-nap breakdown. I'm pretty sure all moms feel this way at some point and time, and I was reminded so a couple weeks ago when I saw a pre-release showing of the movie Moms' Night Out.

The movie doesn't come out in theaters until Mother's Day weekend, but we got to watch it early at MomLife Bootcamp, and I've never seen a movie I related to more!

In the movie, Allie and her friends want need desperately a Moms' Night Out. They're at the end of their Mommy Ropes and arrange for a night of high heels, fine dining and adult conversation. Of course, this means their kiddos will be left with their dads.... but really, what could go wrong?

This movie had me cracking up (it was especially fun to watch in a room of 400 women!), and by the end, I was in tears. (Who would have thought that Trace Adkins could remind us about the real value in motherhood?!)

The movie is a must-see for moms everywhere. Go ahead and plan your own Moms' Night Out for opening weekend... you'll laugh, cry and go home refreshed!

The winner of my "God Bless Our Easter" book giveaway is Colleen Inman. Colleen, I'll email you about claiming your prize!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ways to Make Easter Meaningful for Kids {& a Giveaway!}

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Tommy Nelson Mommies for Thomas Nelson, Inc. As a member of this group, I receive products for my use and to review at no charge to me. I receive no monetary compensation for my participation. All opinions are my own.

Sometimes it can be difficult to teach our children the real meaning of holidays like Easter and Christmas aside from all the hoopla that surrounds them. But I love that my girls are getting old enough to finally (at least somewhat) understand the stories about Jesus that give us reason to celebrate. So far this year, I've done a couple activities to help teach them the true meaning of Easter. I started off by telling them "Egg hunts and candy and bunnies are all fun, and we like to have fun. But the REAL reason for Easter is this...."

And then I showed them the Resurrection Eggs.

If you've never heard of Resurrection Eggs, they are the BEST tool for teaching little ones the Easter story. I bought these from Family Life, and my girls LOVED them! They come with a little book that tells you exactly what to say as you open each egg. Each one contains a different small toy representative of the Easter story (a donkey, a cup, a whip, a cross, etc.) My kids were giddy as they opened each egg to see what was inside. It kept them intrigued the whole time as they learned the complete Easter story with specific details they'd never heard before.

I also purchased Lily's Easter Party, a supplemental book to the eggs, which we read later that night. Both girls loved it and thought it was so cool that all the eggs Lily and her friends opened were just like the ones we had opened earlier.

Another activity we did this year was making "Resurrection Rolls." A friend had told me about these a couple years ago, and so I finally tried it. They were so easy and worked perfectly!

Here's what you do.

(You need 1 can refrigerated crescent roll dough, 8 large marshmallows, melted butter, cinnamon & sugar.)

1. Tear apart crescent roll dough and tell kids that each triangle represents the tomb.
2. Each child takes a marshmallow, which represents the body of Christ.
3. They dip the marshmallow in the butter (we stuck ours on toothpicks to do this) and roll it in the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Tell them this represents the oils and spices the body was anointed with upon burial.
4. Lay the marshmallows on the dough and carefully wrap it around the marshmallow.
5. Make sure all seams are pinched together well. (Otherwise the marshmallow will ooze out of the seams.)
6. Bake according to package directions.
7. Cool.
8. Break open the tombs and see that the body of Christ is no longer there!

These turned out so much better than the "Resurrection Cookies" we attempted last year! The girls were amazed to see that the marshmallow/body of Christ was gone when we cut the tombs open. This was a simple activity that we will probably keep doing each year.

And you all know how I love faith-based books that teach our children important messages. Well I am loving this new book from Tommy Nelson, God Bless Our Easter.

This sweet book emphasizes that every spring blessing (new chicks, bunnies, lambs and flowers) each comes from God. The pictures are precious and the story is rhyming, and I just know my girls will love it. (They haven't seen it yet because I plan to put it in Selah's Easter basket!)

And of course, I'm giving a copy away to one lucky reader! To enter, just leave a comment telling your favorite thing about Easter or a way you emphasize the day's true meaning. I'll announce a winner Monday, April 14.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

The Middle Years

Saturday evening I was bored. I looked around the house and I just wanted to get out. Tyler made casual remarks about wishing we could ride back roads or see a movie on a whim. But with young kids, our lives don’t really work like that. We stay home a lot. And when we do get out, it’s very planned. Very strategic. And very stressful.

We discussed our neighbors, who don’t have kids, and how they come and go as they please. A six-mile bike ride here. A ballgame there. Planning the next vacation. I’d be lying if I said we weren’t a little jealous. The years seem like yesterday when we were in that place. Of course, we were on a married-college-student-budget, but our freedom was aplenty. We stayed up late. We slept in on Saturdays. We spent afternoons running or lounging at the park – whatever fit our fancy.
Saturday, Tyler ended up building a fire in the yard and we spent the evening as a family enjoying it under the “night sky full of wonder” (as Eden called it). It turned out to be a great night. After bath time Tyler joked with the girls, “Y’all go ahead and put yourselves to bed. Mom and I are hittin’ the sack.” As far-fetched as that sounds right now, I told him I knew it wouldn’t be long before that was our reality. I know couples just a few years ahead of us who already have so much more freedom.
But it’s these years, here – these ones in the middle– that I think will make or break us as a family. I love the memories of our childless years and I look forward to the day we enjoy more freedom as a couple, but oh how I want to invest in the middle. These days of potty training and milk pouring and bedtime prayers and date night planning. They deserve the best of me and not the remnants of a soul that longs for something else.
I prayed that night that God would help Tyler and I stay knitted together during these trying, exhausting years. Because sooner than we know, we’ll be on the back side of this thing, with kids who are teenagers or even out of the house. If we spent the middle years just biding our time, surviving until things got easier, we may wake up as strangers with no desire to enjoy our “empty nest” together.
Instead I’m praying we keep one eye on the horizon, remembering that day will be here soon. But that we sink our roots deep down into the difficult, because this is what matters most. This is where the silly songs, princess tea parties, and belly-aching giggles beat out all the adventure in the world. And honestly, this is where so many couples wish they were. The temporary lack of freedom is so worth all of this.
And I have a hunch that one day, when we’re reading the newspaper in our clean house and sipping coffee we ground ourselves, we’ll look at each other and – with the world at our fingertips – we’ll have a longing for the middle.
Because this is where it’s at.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

MomLife Bootcamp: Be The Mom YOU ARE

We all struggle with comparison, don't we?

"I'm not as crafty as her. I wish I had the patience she has with her kids. My kids are eating chicken nuggets again and hers are enjoying their nightly three-course meal..."

Comparison is a beast. And it's so hard to slay.

This weekend I attended MomLife Bootcamp, and one of my favorite parts was hearing Susan Merrill, director of, encourage us to be the moms WE ARE.

God made me a natural leader, confident and future-oriented for a reason. My characteristics and my personality are not flaws. They are designed by God to be honed by me so that my children will benefit from them.

He made me their mom for a reason.

And He gave your children YOU.

Isn't that comforting? God didn't make a mistake when He gave you to your children, with all your quirks and traits. Y'all were made for each other. You are just what your children need.
Susan gave us this personality test to determine what "kind of mom" we were. And once we had figured it out, she praised us for our strengths. She assured us we weren't mistakes. And she gave us examples from the Bible of women just like us.

(go ahead and click over there and take the test!)

Are you the perfect mom? You are thoughtful and purposeful. You solve problems in your home and keep everything in good order. You are just what your children need.

Are you the popular mom? You are the life of the party. You make life a blast for your kids and they love being around you. They wouldn't want anyone but you.

Maybe you're the powerful mom. If so, then you are like me. We powerful ones are strong-willed and persistent. We see the whole picture and move our family toward goals. And yes, we too are just what our families need.

Or maybe you're the peaceful mom. You are relaxed, sympathetic and kind. You take time for your children and don't get upset easily. You are exactly what your children need.

I love the encouragement that goes on at MomLife Bootcamp. We are always reminded that we CAN do this mom thing. As crazy hard as it is, we have all that we need in Christ. And in Him, we are just who our children need.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I'm Headed Back to MomLife Bootcamp!

It's almost time! After waiting a full year, I'll be heading out bright and early Friday once again for MomLife Bootcamp! I am so very excited. So much has happened since last year when I won a free registration and headed to Bootcamp by myself. Never would I have dreamed that by the same time next year, I would be part of the very team that hosts this conference (MomLife Today). But that's what God had in store, and that's where I find myself. (And this year, one of my good friends is going with me. So I won't be traveling alone!)

Me with two of my new friends at Bootcamp 2013
My (Mom & Daughter) roomates on the left and two of my new friends on the right
Two amazing women I met last year who continue inspiring me (via social media) with their ministries and love for the Lord

I am also so excited to be returning to Pine Cove, where Bootcamp is held and where we attended family camp last year! Pine Cove is the best of the best.

Last year's Bootcamp was so impactful for me. I have NEVER felt more challenged or encouraged in my life. I was so inspired about my role as a mom and so anxious to get home and mother my girls! And all year since then, I've been waiting, waiting, waiting to go back and get refreshed again!

Here are my posts about Bootcamp last year...

MomLife Bootcamp: I'm Baaack!

MomLife Bootcamp: Be The Mom

MomLife Bootcamp: Winning the War Over Childhood Sexualization

MomLife Bootcamp: Loving the Institution of Family

MomLife Bootcamp: Pine Cove Camp

I anticipate having lots more wisdom and truth to share with you when I return next week! So be on the lookout!

The winner of my "Hermie & Friends" DVD is Kayla Riley. Kayla, I'll email you about claiming your prize!

Friday, March 21, 2014

"I Will Trust God" {DVD Giveaway}

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Tommy Nelson Mommies for Thomas Nelson, Inc. As a member of this group, I receive products for my use and to review at no charge to me. I receive no monetary compensation for my participation. All opinions are my own.

The other day we were riding in the car and Eden started asking questions about Noah and the ark. The story was fresh on her mind because we recently got a new "Hermie & Friends" DVD from Tommy Nelson that features the story (except with insects and a flooded garden).

"Why were Hermie's friends making fun of him?" she asked me. Since Hermie in the movie represents Noah, I explained that the others made fun of him because they didn't see the need for a giant boat. They didn't see any rain or even evidence of rain...

And then I really started thinking about that scenario. Can you imagine being told by God to build a gigantic boat? I mean your football field-sized boat is just hanging out in your hometown with you, the town's laughing stock, slaving away on it? I can't imagine how trying it must have been for Noah to trust God in that situation. He must have been thinking, "God, is this really what you want for me? Is this what my life is going to look like?"

How would this all work out? Would a flood really come? Would God keep his word? Would He be faithful?

I know people right now who are in Noah-like situations. They're faced with the choice of whether to trust God, whether to believe He has a master plan, or whether to let their sinful hearts pull them away and smother them with doubt and discouragement.

The people I'm speaking of are choosing the former, and I'm so proud of them for it. Because choosing to trust -- when all the circumstances (and sometimes people) say to "Curse God and die!" (Job 2:9) -- is such the harder thing to do.

But what they know is what the Word of God tells us -- God does have a master plan. And it's so, so big. Our lives and our stories are just tiny dots on the whole huge thing. And while every detail of our chapter doesn't work out as we would like, the whole book is going to bring God glory. And even in the hard times -- during those chapters we wish weren't ours -- He bottles our tears and turns the page. (Psalm 56:8) He doesn't leave us alone. (John 14:18) He provides supernatural comfort that the world can't understand and gives us the strength to say, "I will trust God!"

I'm so in love with this song from Hillsong United. Many times life is like a stormy ocean... God just wants to know if we trust Him enough to walk out on it. Or, you know, build a boat to float over it.

Today I'm giving away one "I Will Trust God" Hermie & Friends DVD. "Hermie & Friends" is created and narrated by Christian pastor and author Max Lucado. The videos are perfect for kiddos ages 2-7. To enter, leave a comment telling me your favorite Bible verse about trusting God or overcoming difficult times. Earn additional entries by liking me on Facebook and following me on Twitter. I'll announce a winner Wednesday, March 26.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Modeling Our Rhea Lana's Finds

Disclaimer: In exchange for these posts, I received an early shopping pass to Rhea Lana's. The opinions and purchases are all my own.

Saturday I kept my promise and went shopping at Rhea Lana's. I got the privilege of shopping at 10 a.m. on pre-sale day, and the selection was HUGE! Now, I'm not one of those "purchase entire wardrobe" mamas (Wow, did I see a lot of those!), but I did find some adorable things and came home with several purchases that my girls and I were really excited about. I talked bribed them into modeling them for you.

(Also, I decided to watermark these photos because I thought about someone snatching my kids' pics and using them for who knows what and it totally creeped me out.)

I got this ADORABLE Ralph Lauren swimsuit AND cover-up for Eden for $4! I couldn't believe the price on this one. So, so cute.

Pictured here is a super-cute tunic I got Selah, a summer shorts set for Eden, and pairs of Crocs for both girls. (I'm aware that Crocs are not the appropriate shoe for Selah's outfit, but she refused to take them off, and I didn't feel like picking a fight.)

Now, in this photo Selah is wearing a 4T! I found this "S" dress and couldn't pass it up so I grabbed it to save for a couple years. However, she insisted on modeling it for y'all. (So excuse the floor-lengthedness. And the Crocs.) Eden is showing off a little simple sundress. I love throwing these on the girls for easy summer play days.

I found this little outfit for Eden and thought it was so unique. I don't know if somebody's daddy brought it back from China or what, but I love it! :)

Love this little short set from Gap. Got it for like $5.

And check out these jeans! These are Gap jeans I found in GREAT condition for $3! Another one of my top bargains. They were a size 5 slim, which got my attention because most jeans are too big in the waist for Eden. I got them thinking she could wear them this fall, but it turns out they fit perfectly right now. And is my girl working them or what? :-)

I got this Mud Pie bunny dress for Selah for $9. It was the most I spent on any one item. And Selah obviously loved it because she would NOT take it off! (Also, please excuse how wrinkled all of these clothes are! My iron decided it would be a good time to break when I'm hosting our first fashion shoot.)

I got several more items too that are not pictured -- some play shirts and shorts for Eden, two pairs of athletic shorts, a play outfit for Selah, and an adorable pink ruffly pair of shorts for her too. I also got a set of six pink bins, a shoe hanger and a jewelry hanger to organize the girls closets for just $13.

Total I spent $106. I think that's a pretty good deal!

Rhea Lana's sale runs through this Saturday so go snag your own good deals before they're all gone.
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