This Beautiful Inheritance

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

McDonald's: The Perfect Summer Snack Stop

The FTC requires me to tell you that I am a brand ambassador for McDonald's of Central Arkansas. But mainly, I talk about McDonald's because I (and my kids) love the place.

Let's get right to the point. Did you know McDonald's now has cheese sticks?! And fresh, real lemonades? It's no secret this summer is blazing hot, and when you're out and about, you need some kind of relief from the heat. Or at least we do.

A couple weeks ago, the girls and I went to Splash Zone, our favorite water park. It was a hundred million degrees that day (or something like that), and when we left we felt the need to treat ourselves. So we drove over to McDonald's and tried out their new frozen lemonades and hot, Sargento cheese sticks.

You can choose your lemonade on ice or frozen in classic or strawberry flavor. We all opted for the frozen version (see- "blazing hot summer"); Eden got classic, and Selah and I opted for strawberry. Of course I tried them both, and I was happy with my choice. They were both delicious, but I loved the strawberry flavor -- not too tangy and plenty of sweet.

The best thing about these lemonades is that they are made with real lemon juice, sugar and water (and real strawberries) -- no artificial flavors.

If you can't tell by their faces, the girls very much approved.

We had to wait just a minute on our cheese sticks to arrive because they were being cooked up hot and fresh. But oh, were they worth the wait.

These cheese sticks come just three to an order so they're perfect for a snack, rather than a meal. When I bit into them, they reminded me of my favorite cheese sticks as a kid, which came from a place that starts with a color and ends with a shellfish....

Just like those cheese sticks I remember, these were buttery and garlicky and pure goodness. And as you can see, the girls very much enjoyed stretching their cheese. I think the key with these is to eat them when they're HOT. I got an order of them another time and drove for a while before indulging, and they just weren't the same. Ask for an order that's made fresh and eat them immediately. They are so good!

So there 'ya go. McDonald's is the perfect new summer snack stop.

Tell me, have you snacked at McDonald's recently?

Friday, July 24, 2015

{Be The Mom} Who Gets In The Pool

When our kids are babies, they're always in our arms or on our hips. This obviously includes when we're at the pool in the summer. But as they get older, we gain a bit more freedom, as they no longer need us to constantly prevent their drowning. (Thank you, floaties!) The temptation comes then to tap out when they hit the water, kick back in our lawn chairs, and work on our tans. I'm just like you -- I'm tempted to veg for a while, but something in me just won't let me do it for long. Because how will these kids know how to play "Fruit Basket" if somebody who was around in the '90's doesn't show them?!

So I suppress the desire to soak up some rays and hit the pool to make memories instead. Because my kids will only be little once.

Usually when we go swimming, we have other cousins and friends who join us. But there was one day this week that we went when no one else could. Eden was really bummed and kept saying how she wanted SOMEONE else to be there. I gave her my best offended face and told her that her mama knew how to have fun. I'd have to ask her to be sure, but I don't think she was disappointed. We played "Fruit Basket" and "Marco Polo" and "Sharks and Minnows" and "Mermaids," and this mama may have even jumped off a diving board for the first time in about 10 years... It was ugly but it happened. And they are, thankfully, easy to impress.

I am NOT a perfect mama so don't let this blog series fool you. I yell too much and lose my patience and yes, sometimes veg out when I should be playing. But then I'm always convicted because this mom gig is the most important thing I'll ever do. And as people say, the days are long but the years are short. (Summers are apparently short too; this one's almost over!) So I want to take advantage of every opportunity I have to crack a joke, make a splash, and imprint another fun memory onto my kiddos' minds. Every shared experience is equity in our relationship. And what a worthwhile investment it is.

This is my third post in the "Be The Mom" series I'm doing this month with Amanda Farris. In case you missed the previous posts, they were --

Be The Mom Who Gets In The Floor And Plays With Your Kids (mine)

Be The Mom Who Makes Root Beer Floats (Amanda's)

Be The Mom Who Plans a Fun Day (mine)

Be The Mom Who Is Their #1 Fan (Amanda's)

Remember to leave a comment on any of our "Be The Mom" posts for a chance to win the "Be The Mom" book by Tracey Eyster. And come back next Friday for our last week of the series!

Friday, July 17, 2015

{Be The Mom} Who Plans a Fun Day

Earlier this summer, I hosted a "fun day" for my kids -- which simply means the night before I told them we'd go outside the next day and do fun stuff all day long. They were ecstatic.

It was a day I knew we didn't have anywhere else to be or anything else to do, so I decided to scratch a few items off our summer bucket list and do them all in one day. Hence- "Fun Day."

Make homemade play-doh
Make homemade silly putty
Finger paint
Play in the water hose

As soon as they woke up, we ate a quick breakfast and got in our bathing suits. You never know what you might get into on "Fun Day" and a bathing suit is the perfect "I'll probably get messy" apparel.

We then set up a table in the carport and got to work on a homemade play-doh recipe I had found on Pinterest. It was so easy and the play-doh turned out really well (I used food coloring instead of gel dye), and my kids have played with this just-as-good-as-store-bought play-doh ever since.

We also made homemade silly putty (another Pinterest find), which was also really easy and took just two ingredients! This one wasn't anything worth keeping, but it was messy and felt cool between their fingers so the kids considered it a win.

We also finger painted and I even said YES when they asked if they could paint their bodies. It's Fun Day, why not?

And I pulled out a water toy I had purchased on clearance at the end of last summer (I highly recommend this by the way-- cheap summer toys!), and the girls had a blast jumping through their new water hopscotch. Mommy enjoyed it too -- I had forgotten how fun hopscotch could be!

The thing is, it doesn't take much for your kids to think you're a rockstar mom. Let them get messy. Say Yes. And just BE with them. You can easily plan a "fun day" in about 5 minutes (do some of those activities dormant on your Pinterest boards), and make memories your kids will keep for a long while.

This was my second post in the "Be The Mom" series I'm doing this month with Amanda Farris. Hop over and read her post today about Being The Mom that is her kids' biggest fan. And remember to leave a comment on any of the posts in our series for a chance to win "Be The Mom," the book by Tracey Eyster. In case you missed them, our posts from last week were --

Be The Mom Who Gets in the Floor and Plays With Your Kids (mine)
Be The Mom Who Makes Root Beer Floats (hers)

and check back each Friday this month for more inspiration to be the mom this summer!

Friday, July 10, 2015

{Be The Mom} Who Gets in the Floor and Plays With Your Kids

My girls' absolute favorite things to play are dollhouse and Barbies, which both are essentially the same thing. You sit in the floor and make little people talk to each other (and get dressed and eat meals, etc.). And I'm going to be totally honest. I hate playing dollhouse and Barbies. At 28 years old it's become surprisingly difficult to make believe I'm a six-inch person and try to come up with things to say to my six-inch husband. It's work, I tell 'ya! But this is what my girls love. They enter into the Fisher Price/Barbie world effortlessly and they thrive there. To them, this is what fun is! So reluctant as I may be, I need to enter in with them.

So most of the time, I do. I push aside the urge to suggest board games or coloring books or YouTube or... anything else! And I get on the floor and play. I set up the dollhouse. I fight off the giants. I sprinkle the pixie dust. (No conventional dollhouse playing for us.) And you know what else happens? I have fun. And my girls smile ear to ear and store up memories of their mama taking the time to play.

Whenever I need an extra push to pause my "schedule" and get on the floor and play, I think of Eden's Mother's Day gift to me this year.... at Mother's Day Out, her teachers had her smile for a picture while holding a sign saying what she loved about her mother. And do you know why my sweet, smiling five-year-old girl said she loves her mama?

Out of all the things she could have said, the thing that stood out in this sweet girl's mind was that her mama plays with her. I'm thankful she doesn't know how much of a struggle it sometimes is! But I'm also thankful she gave me this sweet little reminder which makes it a little easier.

Until the day they roll their eyes and refuse to let me, I plan to Be The Mom that gets on the floor and plays with my kids.

This post is my first in my "Be The Mom" series I'm doing this month with Amanda Farris. Now hop over to her blog to read about being the mom that makes root beer floats! (And leave a comment here to enter to win "Be The Mom" by Tracey Eyster.)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Be The Mom This Summer!

Here we are -- smack dab in the middle of summer. We're livin' in the moment, but some of us now have one eye on the horizon; August is in sight. For the first time ever, I'm among the mamas to whom that matters. My oldest will start school in just over a month, and I'm cliché enough to say I don't know how that's possible. This summer is slipping away. I've been teaching a summer program that has taken up a lot of my time so far, but today I finish that up, and I'm excited to make the most of summer's last few weeks with my girls.

I'm also excited to announce that for the rest of July, I'll be featuring a new series here on the blog with my friend Amanda Farris. (You may remember her, we've done a series together before.) And this time we're talking about "Being the Mom." Summer is the perfect time to Be the fun, crazy, intentional Mom that makes memories with your kids. For the next four Fridays, we hope to encourage you to do just that!

And to top things off, at the end of the month, we'll give away a copy of "Be The Mom" by Tracey Eyster, my favorite book on motherhood ever! Comment on any post during our series (mine or Amanda's) and you'll be entered to win.

Happy Summer! Enjoy being the mom!

Monday, June 29, 2015

For the Ciminos, McDonald's is a Family Business

The FTC requires me to tell you that I am a brand ambassador for McDonald's of Central Arkansas. But mainly, I talk about McDonald's because I (and my kids) love the place.

"A lot of folks think we're a machine," local McDonald's owner Louis Cimino said about his company. "We're really not a 'hit the button and a hamburger comes out' business. The folks that work behind the counter are people."

He should know. Louis started working at the McDonald's his father owned when he was 13 years old, in hopes of buying a pair of Air Jordan tennis shoes. His dad, Sam Cimino, bought his first McDonald's in Hollywood, Florida in 1985 after flipping burgers as a crew member for 22 years. Both Sam and Louis found their wives working alongside them in McDonalds' too. Louis and his wife Jennifer were married in 1997.

Louis, his wife Jennifer, and their two children
For the Ciminos, McDonald's is and has always been a family business. In 2004 the whole family packed up and moved to Arkansas to purchase six new stores and grow the family business. After selling three stores along the way, the Ciminos currently own three in central Arkansas. Louis runs most of the stores' day to day operations, while his father and sister run the office.

Yet McDonald's is not what Louis Cimino is known for. In fact, few people even know it's a part of his life. His "public job" is a captain with the Cabot Fire Department, which is more than full-time by itself.

"It's a way to give back," Louis says about firefighting on top of everything else he does. He's a person who loves to keep busy, which he said everyone does. "I'm just doing it in many different areas."

Louis and his wife also sell Advocare, a line of physical wellness supplements, and Louis offers nutritional advice and coaching to his clients. And when he's not selling Advocare, working at McDonald's or on shift at the fire station -- he's running. In the last six years, Louis has run an outstanding 32 marathons, 28 half-marathons, a half iron man, and many triathlons.

Louis Cimino wears many hats
Louis said he hopes to debunk the myth that you can't be a healthy person and love McDonald's. "I tell them it's all about the choices you make," he said. "The bottom line to being healthy is 80% what you eat, but you have to be active. It's making good, better, and best choices. I enjoy eating the Big Mac but I don't eat the Big Mac every day. The [McDonald's] menu is very diverse. You can get well rounded meals."

Louis is proof that that is true. And his family is proof that there's more behind your burger than a pushed button and a conveyer belt. There are real people with real stories and real American dreams. The Ciminos are just one example of how McDonald's has helped people achieve theirs.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

You Have Beautiful Feet, Mom!

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns! -- Isaiah 52:7

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.
Have you ever told your children how much God loves them? Have you explained to them that Jesus died for their sins? Have you prayed with them or read them Bible stories? Then the Bible says your feet are beautiful! Obviously this isn't talking about our natural feet (goodness knows, my toenails are neglected!), but our "spiritual feet" are beautiful because we are proclaiming the good news exactly where He wants us to -- in our homes!
Lately I've felt a little "fresh fire" if you will in my passion for motherhood. I don't know if it's summer and the long days with my kids or the fact that my oldest will start Kindergarten soon, but I'm just feeling so thankful for the privilege of being their chef, chauffeur, disciplinarian, hug-giver, booty-wiper, and a million other things. Before having kids, I often struggled with whether I was "evangelizing" enough. Am I doing my part to make disciples? Well then God gave me my very own little disciples, right under my roof. Their soul-shaping is left up to me and their daddy and it is the opportunity of a lifetime.
I hope you too realize the enormous privilege you have in sheltering, shaping, and discipling your babes. And I hope you realize that if you're fulfilling the role God's given you, even if it's just doin' the mom thang, your (metaphorical) feet are BEAUTIFUL!
We recently got a new book from Tommy Nelson called Jesus Calling for Little Ones. This version of the best seller by Sarah Young is so sweet for little hearts, and it's a great tool for reminding kids that Jesus is with them every second of every day. I remind mine before I read it that these words are spoken as if Jesus was speaking right to them. The phrasing is profound but simple enough that they can understand and be impacted by His words. My girls really loved this book and it got us talking about how Jesus/God can possibly be everywhere at once. He's in China and He's here in my living room? YES! Big concepts but great discussions -- just more stepping stones on the path to shape our kids.

To win a copy of Jesus Calling for Little Ones, leave a comment telling me why you're passionate about motherhood or one thing you do to teach your littles about Jesus. Then enter via Rafflecopter below.

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