Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Reality on a Snowy Day

An ideal rarely matches reality. Take playing in the snow for example. In my ideal "day in the snow", the kids get bundled up, go out to play, have fun, come in the house, drink hot chocolate, and rise up and call mommy blessed. Playing in the snow, a simple pleasure that creates warm, cozy childhood memories.

In reality, I get them bundled up, which typically takes longer than the actual playtime in the snow (I hope they appreciate the fact that I said Yes!). They head out into the elements. They have fun for 5 whole minutes.

Then Simon climbs up on top of the slide and refuses to come down. Mya offers to catch him. He declines. He tries to go back down the steps but can't. So he resorts to yelling for Mommy to come and rescue him. I yell back - "You can do it Simon." I think "Please don't make me come out in the snow."
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Simon attempts to climb down again. He makes it to the first step and then is apparently "stuck". He starts to scream. I finally decide to pull on my boots and coat and rescue him.

About this time the others decide to come in. Is Simon happy that he is rescued? No, he starts crying because he doesn't want to come in. While the others are removing their snow clothes in the house Simon is standing outside the door crying. He finally makes it in.

I have hot chocolate waiting (a very cozy gesture - it's what Mommy's are suppose to do right?). Of course, the drink is too hot. One decides they don't like it. One spills it (and cries). One plays in it. One decides hot chocolate after a "day in the snow" is highly overrated!

At the end of our "snow day" experience, "cozy" memories are still created for my kids. The memories for mommy - not so cozy. But all in all, worth the trouble!

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Power of a Prayer

Do you ever feel overwhelmed?

Last night as I was going to bed, I was feeling overwhelmed. I was feeling overwhelmed by several roles in my life, but especially my role as a parent.

How do you get two-year olds to listen? How can you motivate them to pick up their toys and not destroy things? How do you raise kids who want to love and serve the Lord?

I've been reading a great book this week: Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon. The main character, Father Tim, is someone I have learned a lot from over the years. In this book he is facing some tough issues and this is what his response was. He prayed:

"Lord, you got to do this thing, amen."

Those were the last words I read last night. They spoke to me. I realized all those things that were overwhelming me I was trying to do on my own strength. So I immediately followed Father Tim's example. I prayed. I committed all my worries to the One who can accomplish them. I prayed, "Lord you got to do this thing, amen."

And the peace came.

Earlier in the book, one of the characters made the following comment:

"It was all prayed about, every jot and every tittle. I wish everybody could understand what a powerful thing prayer is."

Prayer is powerful.

If you are feeling overwhelmed today, I want to encourage you to commit whatever it is to God. He can work all things out. He can do whatever thing needs done in your life.

Commit it to him and let his peace that passes understanding replace the worries that threaten to overwhelm you. He can do it, but you have to let go first.

"Lord, you got to do this thing. Amen."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

And the winners are...

That's right, I said winners. I decided to give away one more copy of Karen's new book so there will be two winners today.

Drumroll please...

Christine wins the autographed copy from Karen.

and posting at the last minute

Tamika Paige wins the second copy of The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized.

Christine I will send your mailing address to Karen. Tami, if you want the book sooner, this would be a good reason to come and visit! Otherwise I will get it to either you or one of your sisters.

Thanks for all of your Valentine posts, I really enjoyed reading them.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Interview with a Mom - Karen Ehman

Today I have a special treat - an interview with author Karen Ehman. Karen has written the newest Hearts at Home logo book, titled The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized. Honestly, this is one of the best organizational books I've read because it does not advocate a one-size fits all strategy. Instead Karen helps you find the way to an organized household that best fits your family. It is a very motivating read!

I am also excited to announce that Karen has offered to give away a signed copy of her book! So, if you want to win leave a comment by Tuesday February 19 at 5 pm. If you need something to comment about, feel free to share a special Valentine memory!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.
I've been married for 21 years to my college sweetheart, Todd. We have three sometimes quarrelsome but mostly charming children: Mackenzie 16- a drama queen and volleyball player; Mitchell 13- a southpaw pitcher and wanna-be guitarist; and Spencer- a wise guy, family clown who loves art and any sport.

Tell us a little bit about your new book The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized.
This book tackles both time and home management and helps you to craft your own plan to take care of the “have-tos” of life in an efficient manner so you can get around to the “want-tos” of life– spending time with God, connecting with your husband, playing with your little ones, hanging out with your teens, reaching out to that neighbor, pampering a friend or just getting around to reading the book, working on the scrapbook or some other hobby venture. It is full of doable ideas, uplifting encouragement, lighthearted laughter and practical strategies, as well as simple, family-friendly recipes.

Why do you love being a mom?I love being a mom because it is where I feel the most dependent on God. It is such an important role in the lives of my children and I want to make sure they don't end up on the Dr. Phil show someday. So, I have to lean hard on God!

What has been the most challenging part about being a mom for you?Having other people living in my home mess up my stuff! Just as soon as I get all my ducks in a row, one of them wanders by and knocks most of them down!

What advice do you have for moms in the preschool years?
I know it sounds like a broken record....but cherish each moment- even the ordinary ones. I can't believe my daughter will be a senior next year. It seems like just a year or two ago she was four. God resides in the ordinary. Drink in the moments on purpose. Someday you will not have children in your home and you'll wish terribly that you did! But also, make some alone time for yourself. It will enable you to return home and be a more relaxed mom.

How have you learned to combat "cabin fever" (defined as being confined in the home with small children during the long winter months)?Lots of library books read out loud. Lots of trips to McDonald's so they could jump in the balls while I sorted coupons, paid the bills or even read my Bible. They were happy. I got something done. Lots of play dates with other moms. We visited while the kids goofed off and occasionally, we'd save up money to go to a hotel for the weekend. We'd order pizza, eat snacks, play in the pool and crank the heat up high in our room since we weren't paying the heat bill! The kids looked so forward to a weekend like that each year. When they were sleeping, we'd take a baby monitor and go down to the lobby and have coffee and talk.

What do you like to listen to in your car (music, talk radio, nothing, etc.)?Talk radio or country music. Unless my kids are with me. Then it is TobyMac, Casting Crowns, Sara Groves or Carrie Underwood off of one of their cds. They pop them in before I can turn on the Sean Hannity show!

Share one good “mom tip” that you have learned over the years.As soon as you are pregnant with your first child, buy every pair of ice skates, roller blades and snow pants that you find at garage sales. You will use them all someday.

Do you have any parting advice for young moms?
Do not stress if you can't have a regular quiet time with God for an hour each morning. Meet Him in the everyday. Pray for your kids while you fold their laundry, read a short devotional in the bathroom, pray for others as you wash the dishes, read the Bible while you nurse the baby for a few minutes. He knows how busy you are and will meet with you all through the day.

Thanks Karen!

Friday, February 08, 2008

the train, the track and the challenge

My kids are big fans of Thomas the train. They love his videos (proof that kids don't need much to be entertained - the videos are very simple, they include the actual trains- no animation - and voice overs) and they love to "play trains".

Kory has joined them in this love affair (although he does NOT love the Thomas videos) and every night before bed he will build a train track for the kids (which they destroy the next day, if not sooner). The tracks are quite elaborate and they (I mean Kory) always want to show them off when they are complete.

I always enjoy that time of day. Kory is entertaining the kids (he is a GREAT dad!) and I enjoy some time with Sean or (even better) time alone! The other day, however, the gauntlet was laid.

"Megan, have you ever made a train track?" he asked.

"Me?" I replied, wanting to clarify that he was in fact asking if I personally had ever built a train track. "Why, do you think I can't do it?"

"I think it is tougher than you might think," he countered. "I challenge you to make a train track."

Well, yesterday, I took the challenge. I set out to prove to my husband, my kids and myself that I too can create decent train tracks. And, I think my end result was quite good!

The kids agreed that I created a decent train track (although typically the boys will agree to anything if it is presented to them in the right tone of voice with candy). But Mya informed me that Daddy does it better! Kory agreed with Mya's synopsis, but I think even he would have to admit that I created a decent track for a beginner!

Last night, the kids took up the gauntlet Kory had laid for me and created their own train track.

According to Mya, it is "the best track in the world." Maybe this one will last a little longer than the others before being destroyed. As for me, I think I'll leave the track building process to the experts and enjoy the free time Thomas and friends create by entertaining my kids!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Proverbs 22:6

My bible study group has just started Chuck Swindoll's Parenting: From Surviving to Thriving. In the first chapter, he dissects Proverbs 22:6 (Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.) He comes up with the following contemporary paraphrase:

Cultivate a thirst, initiate a hunger, create an appetite for spiritual things in the life of a child of any age, as long as he or she is living under your roof, and do it in keeping with the way he or she is made--disciplining evil while affirming and encouraging the good, the artistic, the beautiful. When the child begins to walk alone, his or her path will be aimed directly toward the Savior, and he or she will continue to walk in God's sovereignty.

I am inspired by the above quote. God had a plan for my children from the moment they were conceived (You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalm 139:16) My most importatnt job as a parent is to help my children discover His plan.

In order to do this job effectively, I need to be attached to the Vine. I need to pray that God will continue to "cultivate a thirst, initiate a hunger and create an appetite for spiritual things" in my own life, so I can model what that looks like to my children.

My prayer is that God will use my children to further his kingdom. I can't wait to see what He has planned for their lives!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Fired Up Open House

Leslie's paint your own pottery shop is having an open house this Saturday. If you are out and about tomorrow (weather permitting) you should stop by and see her!

Here are three more reasons to stop by:

1. Studio fees will be buy one, get one free
2. If you book a future party of 5 or more while you are there, you will get free studio fees for that party
3. You can enter a drawing to win a $25 gift certificate.

(Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and you can find the shop at 1713 Ft. Jesse Rd in Normal)

PS For a Valentine blog giveaway hop on over to Jill Savage's Blog!