Thursday, May 31, 2012

Every day is not your birthday

I love Pinterest. The ideas and inspiration make being a fun mom basically effortless. "10 ideas to make your kids birthday special", "Fun ways to show your kids you love them", "Surprises for your kids"... you see these pins all over (or ones like them, these were made up but you know what I mean!). And there are some great ideas! I love making my kids feel special, surprising them, and just having fun.

However, I think we need to remember that every day is not our child's birthday. Not every day needs to be filled with surprises, baked treats, lunches shaped like their favorite cartoon characters, eating out for dinner, etc. Our kids need to have normal days. They need to have days that aren't all about them and making them happy. Days where the meals are simple, they do their chores, read books, play board games, have family worship and go to bed on time. Our kids need to feel loved and affirmed and like they are an important part of the family. They also need to know that the world does not revolve around them, and that their happiness and joy is not at the center of every decision the family makes.

I think when we get too carried away with feeding our children's desire to be entertained and pleased we are raising a dangerous generation of children. One that seeks only their own pleasure. One that can't be satisfied in living a simple and quiet life but one that needs others entertaining them at all times and bowing to their every whim. We are not raising a generation that seeks not to serve, but to be served.

Simple days can still be filled with joy and laughter and fun. And raising our children to see simple days as joyful and fun is an amazing gift that we can give to our children. And I believe it makes days like Christmas or birthdays or the days that you do some extra special things as a family so special.  I think those special things lose their specialness when you do them everyday...

So how often should you have "extra special days" and how often should your days be routine. I don't know. I don't think there is a formula. I think your kids will make it obvious when they have had a few too many special days. I would venture to say that the majority of your days should be fairly routine and simple. And I know that my routine and simple will look very different from yours. We are all different and do things differently. But, if you are like me and your goal is to raise Godly children I think it is important to take a close look and make sure we are not "drinking the Kool-Aid" that society is trying to sell us. For our children to feel loved we don't have to act like everyday is their birthday...

*This picture is from an actual birthday last summer. You can see the details here.

I am linking up at Women Living Well.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

On the mend...

Is there still a world out there? Sickness hit our family and so we have been all shut in! It started out with Jack getting an ear infection Tuesday. He also somehow contracted hand, foot, and mouth disease. Then Sophie started running a fever on Friday.

Saturday morning I woke up feeling just fine. Nick was at his discipleship meeting when I woke up so I hung out with the kiddos and then when Nick got home Max and I ran to the store. Saturday afternoon I laid down for a little rest but when I woke up I had the chills. I took my temperature and I had a fever of 101. I stayed in bed the rest of the day and pretty much all day Sunday until Nick came down with it too on Sunday afternoon. Monday morning my fever was gone but my throat hurt really bad. I started thinking it might be strep so I went ahead and went to Urgent Care. I got hooked up with some antibiotics so I am on the mend.

I still don't feel 100% yet though. I am really hoping that happens today because being a mom and being sick just don't mix. My house definetely reflects having a sick mom over the long weekend (translation: it is totally trashed). I also have a lot to do because our small group at church is having a big garage sale this weekend to raise money for a center for serving our church is building.

So, all of this to say, I am working to get back into the swing of things! Being sick in the "summer" is just not the way it should be!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cleaning Glass Shower Doors

I have loved seeing so many new visitors come by my blog from Pinterest! Welcome to my little blog about my life and my family! This is a very rare cleaning post... because cleaning is not really what I am best at... but I hope you enjoy this tip, it is still working for me! And if you want to stay awhile please feel free to check out my "Popular Posts" on the sidebar or a few of my personal favs such as "Everyday is Not Your Birthday", "{Circumstances}", "The Lady at the Grocery Store" and "The One on Kids and Simplicity".

I am no Mary Maid, but overall I am okay at cleaning my home. But, one area that I have not been good at cleaning in the 3+ years we have lived in our home has been the glass shower doors in the master bath. But, I have found the secret which makes me really happy because, well... who doesn't love a sparkly clean shower? Best part of all? You only need two ingredients and they are totally natural.
 This could not be easier. Grab a lemon and cut it in half and grab a dish of kosher salt. Then proceed to dip half the lemon in the salt and get to scrubbing those shower doors. Dip into the salt frequently for best results. When you are done rinse it all off with clean water and enjoy your naturally clean shower doors!
And are you ready for the always impressive "before and after photos"? Well, turns out it is a little hard to take photos of a glass shower door. But, as you can see they are all scummy before and after I can't even get the camera to focus on the glass because they are so crystal clean.
I am in love...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rising Early

Photo Credit
"Someone may ask, "But why should I rise early?" To remain too long in bed is a waste of time. Wasting time is unbecoming to a saint who is bought by the precious blood of Jesus. His time and all that he has is to be used for the Lord. If we sleep more than is necessary for the refreshment of the body, it is wasting the time the Lord has entrusted us to be used for His glory, for our own benefit, and for the benefit of the saints and unbelievers around us.... Lying too long in bed not merely keeps us from giving the most precious part of the day to prayer and meditation, but this sloth leads also to many other evils. Anyone who spends one, two, or three hours in prayer and meditation before breakfast will soon discover the beneficial effect early rising has on the outward and inward man" -Excerpt from The Autobiography of George Muller

Can you imagine waking up early and spending one, two, or three hours in prayer and meditation before breakfast? When George Muller wrote this he was a married father and pastor who was running several orphan homes and schools... and he was not in good health! But, the amazing thing about Muller was that all of the finances for his homes and schools and even his own income all came from prayer. He never asked for a penny and yet all of his needs and the needs of hundreds of orphans were always provided for. Muller was obviously a very busy man and yet he never neglected prayer. In fact, he depended on prayer to provide for himself and many others.

I remember whenever I had a new baby and felt worn down and distant from God I was always given the advice that it was okay to miss quiet times and devotions and that this was just a season... And while I agree that it is a season which is difficult, it is not one in which prayer and communion with God should be abandoned in any way. In fact, when do we need God more than when we are sleep deprived and dealing with a brand new baby?

I want to encourage all of us moms of young children to not neglect rising early to be with the Lord. I don't always do this. Sometimes I wake up when my children wake up. When I do this I will usually try to turn on a PBS show and I will sit and do my "quiet time" while my kids are occupied. And while this time is certainly better than nothing it is so far from ideal. It does not begin to compare to the amazing communion with God that takes place in the quiet and still of the morning. We need that time with the Lord more than we need coffee my friends. That time with God is what sustains us on hard days... and not so hard days. It truly is our daily bread that we cannot live without.

I know when you have kiddos that wake up super early this can be difficult. My daughter used to wake up at 6 or earlier some days. At this point you have two choices... take some time and train them to wake up later or at least stay in bed later. (Have you seen these cool things? You set the time and it lets kiddos know when it is okay to leave their rooms!) Or wake up even earlier.

This is all coming from someone who is TERRIBLE at waking up early. But, I think George Muller is on to something. And I think being a mom and training up our little kiddos is hard work and we need to be as equipped as possible. And the only answer is time in prayer and meditation. Waking up early is hard but the pay off will be worth it.

I am linking up at The Better Mom today!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Whatcha Readin'?

I really love to read. This year I decided to keep a list of books I have read and books I want to read so I can keep track of how many books I have read in 2012.
Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary

It is one of the books we are reading for our church's discipleship program. Both Nick and I are reading it with the people who are discipling us. But, it is so neat to be able to read it at the same time and talk about what we are learning.

I also just finished reading Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper.
Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God
I finished it in 2 days if that is any indicator of how much I enjoyed it. Mrs. Piper goes through and shares short biolgraphies of 5 faithful women in history and how God worked in their lives. It was so inspiring and really encouraged me to read more biographies and autobiographies of faithful Christians.

And that book (and the loan from a sweet friend) have brought me to my next read. The Autobiography of George Muller which I will start reading as soon as I finish this blog post! George Mulller established an orphanage and cared for thousands of orphans and relied on God to supply for all of their needs. Truly a man of faith!
Autobiography Of George Muller

So, what are you reading?

Changing My Life and Rocking My World

More often than I care to admit when someone tells me about a book or sermon that is going to "change my life" or "rock my world" I put off reading or watching it for as long as possible.... Because, part of me is scared of my life being changed or my world being rocked. I am scared of being pushed out of my comfort zone. I am worried that once I have this new knowledge if I then don't do anything with it I will live out the rest of my days restless and unhappy. Yep. I kind of freak out.

So, when all three of my pastors posted this video on Facebook and several friends told me I really needed to watch it I put it off. And put it off some more. I wanted to watch it. But, I was nervous. The title of the sermon, given at Together for the Gospel 2012 by David Platt is, "Divine Sovereignty: The Fuel of Death-Defying Missions"... anything with the world "death" in it just seems like it could get a bit heavy...

So, last night the hubs and I decided to watch it together. My only regret after watching it was that I hadn't watched it sooner. Because while I was challenged and my world was rocked, more than anything watching this video gave me no choice but to worship... and today as I think back to the sermon my first reaction is to worship God even more.

So, if you get a chance, I encourage you to watch this video. Yes, there is much to learn in it. And yes, you will be challenged. But, you will also be moved to worship and mighty and powerful God who is worthy of it all. Friends, He is so worthy.

P.S. If you do get a chance to watch let me know what you think!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Last Day

Today is a big day. It is Max's last day of preschool! The above pics are from his first day of preschool. (A good mom would have taken pics this morning of the last day of preschool in the same spot). I can't believe how fast the year has gone by. He has grown and learned so much. And now we are officially crazy homeschoolers! I am super excited for this next phase in our lives. And I am very proud of my sweet Max P.

Also, here is my blog post from this exact day last year. Sadly, right now my shelves still have Easter stuff on them. Oops. I guess I was more on top of things last year!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Why I am not a good soccer mom...

Max played soccer for the first time this Spring. He has enjoyed it for the most part. But, during the process I have realized that I am NOT a good soccer mom. Not because I don't love watching my little man play soccer. I do! I love it. But, we have played one season of soccer through a Christian soccer organization and it felt like our life was taken over during the season. An hour long practice one evening a week (from 6:30-7:30) which in our world translates to... no family time that evening. Most weekends had one game smack dab in the middle of Saturday and a few weekends had a Saturday AND a Sunday game. So, the reason I am not a good soccer mom is because I do not think soccer is that important. I think family time is important. I think time with our extended family is important. I think time with our church family is important. It think time spent giving and serving our important. But, I just don't think soccer is that important. So, I felt like the time commitment was too big for something without that much value...

And it was all kind of a bummer because I am not against kids doing activities. And I love sports! But, I am against sports being more important or taking up more time than family and church. I think the benefit of my son spending the day playing outside with his dad far outweighs a soccer game. I don't regret Max playing this season and if he wants to play again we will look for a league that better fits our family. Or, look for an activity that will better fit in with our life.

But, this was hard for me because I feel like playing sports and being busy just seem to be how everyone lives their lives with little kiddos. Sports = childhood these days, right? But, I just can't do it. With the hubs' job, our family time (which is totally limited to evenings and weekends) is precious. While I want to teach my son the values of being a team player, determination, and good sportsmanship I think those things can be taught  through kicking a ball around with friends or through some other means. And I don't think that those values are more important than teaching my children to love God and love others. Which, is not exactly the lesson he learns by our life during soccer season revolving around his schedule and by saying "no" to time with friends and family.

So, tell me, am I the only one that isn't a good soccer mom?

Linking up at Growing Home and

Friday, May 11, 2012

Let's Hear it for the Moms!

The picture above is my mom and grandma with Sophie and I on her first birthday. I love this picture because these two ladies played such a huge role in who I am today. My mother and grandma have always been my biggest fans, encouragers, and cheerleaders. And now that I am older I can also say that they two of my best friends in the whole world. 

I have an amazing mom. I talk to her every single day. My mom is one of those people that if you need her... she is there. No matter what. My mother is one of the most selfless people I know. She worked when we were growing up but I always said I didn't really know it. Because, when she was home, she was just mom.  She always made us a priority. And now she is the most amazing grandma. She loves my kids so much and is such an important part of my life. Even when we lived farther away she drove up almost once a month just to see Max. She gives my kids her time and they love her so much for it. They have such a special relationship.

My own grandma was always my absolute favorite person in the world. She is everything a grandma should be! Loving, giving, generous... One of my favorite things about her is she has always talked to me like a grown-up, even as a little bitty kid. She has never talked down to me. She has always treated me as if my thoughts, ideas, and opinions mattered. It has meant so much to me and as I am a mom now I always try to do the same with my own children. It always made me feel so valued. And she was there for us when we moved to St. Louis and had no where to live. She took us in and let us take over her life and acted as if she liked it. I can never repay for her all that she has done for me. But, I hope to pass on her amazing legacy of love and generosity into the next generation! 

So, with that I must say Happy Mother's Day! Most of what I write in this blog is about my love for motherhood which I have because I have always seen motherhood done well. I am grateful for that and am grateful for mothers, especially the ones who have given so selflessly to me.'s So thank you Mom and Grandma! 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

When children don't feel like a blessing...

*Update: This post has been edited thanks to this e-mail from my husband:
Hey Honey!

Love the new post on your blog.  Quick note, though, I think it is spelled ‘banshee’.

Love you!

Psalm 127:3-5 NIV 
Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate. 

We "know" that children are a blessing from God. But, the truth is, that the day in and day out of taking care of little people can get pretty heavy. Let's be honest, not many mamas can look at their 2 year old laying on the floor in the middle of Tar-jay screaming like a banshee because they can't get a piece of candy and say, "oh, what a blessing you are!" 

It is easy to get worn down and get in survival mode and not see our children as the blessings that they truly are. When I find myself getting into this mode I find it really helps to be intentional and change my mindset. Some ways I like to do that are:

- Do something that YOU enjoy with your kids. We often cater to their likes when we want to have fun with them, but you will feel more refreshed if you are doing something fun for you too. Yesterday, after a hard morning I took the kiddos to lunch and then to shop for Mother's Day gifts at Target. We chatted through lunch and they helped at Target. I felt like I was hanging out with friends. So good for a mama's soul.
- Write a list of your 5 favorite things about your kiddos. As moms we are quick to focus on what needs work in our children. But, think about things they are doing well or problems they have overcome. Even better, share your list with them. Our kiddos love our approval.
-Look at their baby pictures. Put yourself back into those moments when you were so full of love and joy you could burst. It will help you see your kiddos through fresh eyes.
- Pray daily for God to help you to see and love your children the way he does. 
- When all else fails... take the night off. Get away and get reinvigorated. We all need a break sometimes. Let go of the guilt and just enjoy a little peace...

Being a mom is hard work but it truly is a blessing. God would not lie to us. And He does not leave us to do this task alone.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wednesdays are for craziness...

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Happy Wednesday Everyone! Wednesdays are a little bit of a whirlwind kind of day around here. I have some ladies over for prayer in the morning and we have small group in the evening. I usually also try to pack something in between as well... because I am crazy like that. But, today I didn't. So, we are going to go pick up some dog food and then spend a quiet afternoon at home. I think this mama needs it! 

What is your craziest day of the week?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Veggie Panini

In the spirit of healthier eating I thought I would share one of my new favorite lunches today. It is a veggie panini and I seriously can't get enough of these things. 

To make one of these babies you will need:
hummus (I will share my homemade recipe soon!)
whole wheat sandwich rounds
1/4-1/2 an avocado mashed 
onions, mushrooms, and peppers (sliced)
tomato (sliced)

After you have made your hummus (or opened a tub from the store, there are lots of yummy ones out there) sautee the onions, mushrooms, and peppers in skillet. I don't use any oil at all. I find that the onions and mushrooms release enough liquid to caramelize everything nicely. Then assemble your sandwich with hummus on one side, avocado on the other, then in the middle add your sauteed veggies, spinach and tomato. 

I have a Cuisinart Griddler that I use to make paninis but you could use whatever panini press you have or a skillet would work just fine too! 

The possibilities are endless with this little guy and it comes together fairly quickly. I have started sauteeing a big batch of veggies earlier in the week and keeping them on hand to throw into paninis or spaghetti sauce or whatever else I am cooking!

And the best part is that these will leave you totally full without even an ounce of guilt! 
 and linking up at Raising Homemakers!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Banana "Ice-cream"

My wonderful next door neighbor has been eating super healthy and trying lots of new recipes after watching the movie Forks Over Knives. And this has benefited me greatly as she has shared some of her new foods with me! Um, freshly baked bread anyone? She passed along this "recipe" last week and I have to admit... I was doubtful!

To make this banana "ice-cream" you need frozen bananas and peanut butter or vanilla.

Yep. That is it.

Cut up bananas and freeze for 2-3 hours. (I used a banana per person). Then put in food processor or blender and blend until creamy. Add a little vanilla or some peanut butter (it is up to you) and enjoy! It really does have the consistency of ice-cream. My kiddos gobbled it down which was awesome.

Who would have thought you could eat  ice-cream every day with no guilt?
I am sure the mix-ins and variations with this recipe are endless. I plan on trying it topped with berries at some point this week!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sibling Love

I remember a little over a year ago when I would pray every night that my children would like each other. They used to fight all the time. They still fight a lot more than I would like. But, they are the best of friends now and I find it beyond sweet. They share a room (totally by choice) and get sad when the other one isn't around. Even as I type this they are snuggled on the couch together watching Curious George. I am so thankful that they are buddies and I still pray every night that they will always be close and close to their little brother (who they currently fight with all the time!) Maybe 1-2 year olds are just hard to get along with?... 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sheparding a Child's Heart

I am reading "Sheparding a Child's Heart" by Ted Tripp and gleaning so much from it already. Which is basically hilarious because the first time I read it I thought it was absolutely awful and was the worst parenting book I had ever read. But, I was in a very different place spiritually then. A place where I was reading a lot of worldly wisdom and desiring for my children to fit in well in the world. 

I have been thinking a lot about how busy we are already. Our 5 year old is playing soccer this Spring and our 3 year old is in ballet. Then add to that small group every week, other church commitments, getting together with family and friends, and you have a schedule that is pretty crazy. And my kids are still little!

This passage from the book totally knocked me over the head this week. Mr. Tripp is talking about the worldview that we give to our children based on the business of our/their lives:

"If your objectives are anything other than "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever," you teach your children to function in the culture on its terms. How do we do this? We pander to their desires and wishes.We teach them to find their soul's delight in going places and doing things. We attempt to satisfy our lust for excitement. We fill their young lives with distractions from God. We give them material things and take delight in possessions. Then we hope that somewhere down the line they will see that a life worth living is found only in knowing and serving God." 

I am linking up today at Raising Mighty Arrows!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Toys, Toys, Toys

I have three kiddos ages 5 and under. And despite my best efforts the toy clutter monster seems to rear it's ugly head just about every month. Today I went into my five year old's room while he was at preschool (insert evil laugh here) and filled two laundry baskets full of toys and took them down to the basement. I am waiting to see if he notices. So far, he hasn't. 

But, while I do really dislike toy clutter I don't dislike toys in general. But, as I have gotten farther into this parenting journey I have become very picky about what kids of toys I do like my children playing with. As a rule I don't like toys that make a lot of noise or toys that "do all the playing by themselves". I prefer simple. well made toys that spark the imagination. And it doesn't hurt if all three kiddos can get good use out of them too!

Here are some of our favorite toys at the R household.
Our wooden kitchen from KidKraft. We have had this for a few years and it still looks brand new. All of our kids get lots of use out of it and I love the creativity it sparks.

Our little Jack loves cars. These ones have held up wonderfully through all three kiddos as well.

Instead of having a million different building sets I prefer to have a few that we can add to. By far the Lego Duplos still get the most play in our house. Max is starting to graduate to the regular Legos but these are still his favorite.

I don't know if you are aware but the R family is quite musical... or we try to be. We got Jack this musical instrument set for Christmas and it has been fun for the whole crew.

Of course markers are the most coveted art supply around here. My oldest usually spends at least an hour a day drawing. Usually pictures of Angry Birds.

Max has always loved dinosaurs and animals and my favorite toys for him have always been the basic plastic ones. They usually get the most play and are versitile for playing with around the house or in water or sand. He has a lot of Imaginext ones and frankly those just get on my nerves. They are noisy and plastic. I like how simple these ones are.

And of course the ultimate in imagination is dress up. Both of my kids love to dress up. Sophie is rarely without a princess dress on and Max is right with her putting together a Super Hero costume.

Those are our favorite toys around here. Anything else is fair game to get tossed at anytime! How about your house? What are your favorite toys?

I am linking up today at Raising Homemakers!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Loving when people don't love back

I just wanted to drop in today and offer some encouragement to any of you that are struggling in relationships with family or friends. I am an oldest child which tends to equal perpetual people pleaser. I love to have people like me and I have a desire to be friends with everyone. But, over the last several years I am learning that not everyone is going to like me or want to be friends with me and honestly, this still kind of kills me. I love people and long to be accepted! And there was a time (and are still moments) when I would do or say just about anything to make that happen.

I went through a period of really struggling in this area because I was struggling in a few relationships I had.  Christians in my life who were putting enormous pressure on me to "love my enemies" and it would fix everything. The thing was that I WAS "loving my enemies" they just weren't loving back! I was believing that if I did everything God's way that everyone would like me. But, God never promises us that everyone will like us. In fact, he kind of promises us the opposite. And in the past year or so I am realizing that loving our enemies is not something we necessarily do FOR our enemies. And it is not a formula to get people to like us. But, it is a way we can be obedient to God.

It is hard when people don't accept me or desire to be friends with me. But, I just want to offer encouragement that if you are in a difficult relationship the only one you need to worry about pleasing is God. If you are showing someone in your life lots of love and encouragement and they don't respond or if they respond negatively, remember the one who you are really doing it for.

I am linking up at Women Living Well!