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Holiday Traditions

Hey guys!  Today I just want to chit chat about Holiday traditions and trying to manage all the super fun things that we want to do until Christmas.  The Holidays are such a fun time, but it can also be a stressful time.  As we talk about traditions, I’d like to remind you not to take on too much.  That can be really hard, especially for moms.  There are so many fun things we’d love to do, but only so much time.  When we take on more than what we can handle it makes what should be a very special time, overwhelming and stressful.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you get a new idea, or become determined to carry on an old tradition that’s a lot of work, or someone asks you to do an extra task…..

  1.  Is this something that I will have time to do?  That seems simple, but we tend to overestimate our own time management skills!  That, or we have a hard time saying no, and put too much on our plate anyway.  Whatever it is that you are considering, decide rather or not you really have the time to do it.
  2. How much does it mean to me and my family?  Certain things that we do mean the world to my kids.  Our count down chain (which I can’t believe we haven’t made yet, but I assure you we will be doing that this evening!), their chocolate advent Calendars, hot chocolate by the fire on Christmas Eve, the list goes on.  But some things aren’t quite as important to them.   As a matter of fact they might not even remember doing some of it.  I’ve noticed sometimes we get very determined to do the things that we’ve always done, even though they don’t really mean a lot to any of us.  We have to realize it’s ok to let go of some traditions that aren’t working for our family.
  3. Will we be able to afford it?  This is usually my least favorite one.  I hate for money (or lack there of) to get in the way of things that I want to do!  But realistically, if something really is beyond our means, we might need to let go of it for a less expensive option.  (That weekend ski trip with friends might need to be a special dinner this year, and maybe you can put back money for a ski trip for next year.)

I suggest that you make a list of the things you’d still like to do, prioritize them, and schedule the fun until the big day!! There are only 12 days left…  Make the most of the remaining time and try not to overwhelm yourself or your family!!

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Choose love

choose love by crystal paineI’m soo excited guys!  I got my “Choose Love” and “Choose Gratitude” journal’s from moneysavingmom.com!!  Crystal has been an inspiration to me since I found her on periscope a couple of weeks back.  I’ve loved her motivational scopes and think she’s a lot of fun!  She has these wonderful journals available in her store and I’m so excited to share them with you all!

How many times have you yelled, or raised your voice, at your kids and then immediately started to feel bad?  Or if not immediate, it starts to eat at you later and you feel terrible.  I never thought I would yell at my kids.  I consider myself a pretty patient person, and I’ve always been determined to have a good relationship with them.  When the older two were babies I was so patient.  I didn’t foresee my future self with four, sometimes five kids, overwhelmed, exhausted, and at my wits end.  I also had no idea how other stresses could make it easier to lash out at the people I love, including my children.  But it makes me feel terrible.  And do you know what’s worse?  It gets easier to be cross.  Once you’ve allowed yourself to lash out, it becomes easier the next time you’re stressed and impatient.

I’m not saying that I just lose my mind and scream at my kiddos like a crazy person.  But I do lash out and let myself get angry more times than I feel is, or should be, characteristic of my personality.  After a couple of really rough pregnancies, including bed rest, then postpartum stuff, some other health issues, and other outside situations, I’ve allowed myself to become less patient.  It’s been bothering me a lot lately.  Thankfully it’s gotten better as I’ve noticed it and started consciously trying not to raise my voice.

It’s easy when everything is going right, and they’re being good.  I love to laugh with my kids, and we talk and have fun together a lot.  I’m really not talking about a constant thing, just the tense times.  The times when they push all my buttons. (And you know they know just what buttons to push!)  I’ve been trying very hard to do better during those times.  The other day I was watching a periscope by Crystal Paine and she was talking about her Choose Love journal I and.bracelet.  It was exactly what I needed!  I wanted to share with you guys early this month because it would make a great Christmas gift for the momma’s on your list. Or for yourself! 😉 It’s also a great time to get one because you can start it at the beginning of the new year.  I’m sure we could all resolve to do better with our attitudes is 2016…!

It’s a sweet, simple journal with the purpose of putting the focus on being grateful and loving.  It includes jchooselovecrystalpainereviewournaling prompts to get you thinking about how you can be intentional about your goal, and it’s full of inspirational quotes.  You also have a couple of lines to write down one thing from each day.  You can use it to record funny moments, things you want to journal in your scrapbook, or to write something you are grateful for.  I plan to use it for all of these purposes, depending on what’s happened that particular day.  Just something that sticks out in my mind that reminds me just how blessed I am, and just how much I love them!  I was lucky enough to get the bracelet, but it sold out shortly after the release.  They had been restocked but they sold out again!  If you are able to get the bracelet I would recommend it.  It’s cute and can be worn with almost anything.  Having that bracelet on is a constant reminder to choose love.

I will choose love more by taking myself out of the situation and trying to see why the child is behaving the way that they are.  I will also try to find the humor in a situation, because laughing always helps with any negative emotion!  I’ll try to keep in mind that they are people too, with real issues, and feelings.  And I have a responsibility to respect that.  If I need to leave the room, I will.  But rather than behaving based on often unfair emotions, I will strive even more, to choose love!

She also offers a Choose Gratitude journal.  It’s similar but more general, wchoosegratitudecrystalpainehile the Choose Love is more specific to Mom’s.  It also includes quotes for inspiration and room for journaling.  I ordered each of my older kids one for Christmas.  I do feel like the quotes and inspiration in it are more meant for an adult, but I still think it’ll be good for them.  (I heard that she’s coming out with one that’s specifically for childrechoosegratitudecrystalpainereviewn though!) I think it’ll be really great if they can learn to find the good in life and focus on gratitude.  Children often take things for granted, I’d really love to see my kids learn to recognize how blessed they truly are.  Let me know if you get one, and how much you love it!  I’m so excited to start using mine!!

Smile through the trials

Tiffany

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We love because he first loved us.

You know the verse right, “We love him because he first loved us.” (I John 4:19) Well, I always thought I understood it.  We love God because he first loved us.  To me it always meant like, we love him back.  So I could use the analogy of the sweet crush you find out about (not the creepy kind) and see how much someone has loved you from afar and you can’t help but love them back.  But as I’ve become a mother, I’ve realized it’s not just a love him back type of a thing.  It’s the fact that we love at all is because of his love.  We don’t simply reciprocate.  We have the capacity because he’s given it to us, and taught it to us.  We love, because he loves.

I was thinking about this when my two year old laid down with me on the couch and said “I love you so much Mommy.”  It’s so sweet, and I love it when he tells me he loves me.  But how does he know how to love me? Would he say that to me if he never heard it from me?  He didn’t call me Mommy until he heard the word mommy numerous times and figured out that that was the title for “The nice lady that does everything for me.” Or at that time, “My talking bottle.”  But does he love me?  Does he know what that means?  Does he just know it makes me happy when he says it?  If he’s saying it to make me happy, then it’s because he loves me, rather he truly knows what that means or not, right?  I think that when we say it to him, and show him affection, he learns more of what that means.  And when we say it to him with a big happy hug, he learns a bit more of what it means.  Then when he’s sad, and gets a kiss on his boo boo, and “I love you honey, it’ll be ok.”  He learns more yet.  How can you define love?  You can’t.  You can show it though, and express it.  I venture to say my two year old has a better understanding of love than some adults.

I have some experience with adults that were not shown much affection, or told they were loved much as children.  Do you know it’s hard for those people to become comfortable with the words “I love you”?  Not impossible, but it takes time.  Once again, they have to be taught.  When they are able to say it, and even if they really do mean it, it’s also often hard for them to know how to show it.  Not knowing what true unconditional love is, makes it quite hard for them to treat people like they love them.  Very sad, in my opinion, for someone to get all the way through their childhood (the time that someone should have cared for and guarded their heart) and much of their adult life, not really comfortable with love.  These people often learn to seek approval, in the place of actual love.

Of course, we know that the ability to love is natural to an extent, not just learned.  It’s something that God instilled in us from the beginning.  But if that ability to love isn’t nurtured, cultivated, and encouraged, it becomes much more minimal.  We are born with a God given capacity to love.  The feeling of comfort with, and esteem for, another person. Wanting to make them happy.  Wanting to see them smile.  That intensify’s if  we are blessed with children of our own.  It’s another time that we learn more about God’s truly unconditional love for us.  He tells us we are his children, and then gives us children so that we can understand more about what that love is.

My children could probably tell you lots of ways that I fall short as their mommy.  (If I would let them, but I won’t!)  But I don’t believe any of them would ever tell you that I don’t love them.  My son was leaving to go hunting with my husband once when he was about 7.  I was saying goodbye and said “You know I love you right.”  His answer meant so much.  He said “Yeah, I always know you love me.”  Similarly, I remember as a kid saying “I know no matter what, my mom loves me.”  Even as a teenager.  If nothing else in the world went right, or I felt like no one was on my side, I knew my mother loved me.  I’m so grateful to have had that assurance.  My mother isn’t perfect.  And I did have my rebellious years, during which our relationship really struggled.  But I always knew that she loved me and it was a no matter what type of love.  Maybe that’s why it’s more natural and so important to me that my children know the same thing.  Because that’s what I was taught, and I know how much it meant to me.

Please don’t underestimate your ability, and responsibility, to teach your children love.  Yes they have a natural capacity to love, but it’s your job to nurture that.  How many young girls do we see get into unhealthy relationships because some jerk is the first person to show them attention or affection?  They think that what they are involved in is love.  Please help them to learn appropriate love.  I know it won’t necessarily mean they won’t end up in a bad relationship or situation.  They will still make their own choices.  But I believe they have a better chance when they know what love should look like.  I’m not saying that we don’t lose our temper, or say things we regret.  That’s another post for another time.  But please don’t forget to tell them that you love them.  At the very least I say “I love you” to my kids every time we say goodbye or goodnight.  I think we should strive to tell our children how much we love them.  To show them.  To teach them to say it and what it means.  I’m very grateful when they tell me that they love me.  I’m most grateful for God’s love.  We couldn’t love had he not taught us, and loved us.  I hope that I can at least be a small example of that love for my children.  And think about this… There are many things we can’t do for our kids.  Things that it might break our hearts that we can’t get for them.  But there’s no limit, no matter what your finances are, or what your schedule is, to the amount of love you can give them.  And guess what else… it’s something that can never be taken away from them!  You can go very wrong by neglecting to show your children love.  You can’t however, go wrong by loving them too much!!

Smile through the trials!

Tiffany

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Balancing “Mommy time” with Mommy’s time

     I suppose there’s a fine line between multitasking and being dismissive.  For example: I was trying to get some stuff done, and my little girl asked to play a Barbie game on the computer.  Then a light bulb went off and I thought of my two year old’s new obsession with the movie Cats&Dogs.  So… right now, my four year old is playing her game on the other computer, my two year old is watching a movie, and I’m able to chat with y’all!

     If there’s something I really strive for, it’s balance.  I guess that means being caught between two extremes, and trying to weigh them against each other, in the best way.  I don’t like the idea of using technology to manage my children, but I’m not a person that’s totally against technology either.  So I feel a little bad about letting them get hypnotized into a screen so that I can get something done, but on the other hand I feel so blessed.  I’m working, and the three of us are sitting on my bed together, very content. I can help her with her game if she needs me, I can see and hear him when he laughs hysterically at the movie (my favorite thing about any movie!), I can take care of potty breaks, go get a cup of chocolate milk when they need it… You know, the important stuff!!

Being present with your children means so much, and we really get so little time to do it.  But when, and how often, is it ok to be partially present?  How much time do we spend nodding our heads saying “Oh” “Uh huh” “that’s cool” while they are talking to us and we are staring at our phones on instagram/facebook/twitter/whatever…?  I really can process most of what they are saying even when I’m looking at something else. But I wonder how it makes them feel to know that I’m really only half engaged with what they are trying to say to me.  I’m sure some children don’t even know to be disappointed in this lack of interaction, because it’s all they’ve ever known of talking to their parents.  I definitely don’t want to get to that point.  But I do want to check my instagram a time or two each day.  I definitely want time to type up my blog posts, make video’s etc.  I do have to take important calls.  And some personal calls so that I don’t lose my mind!  Not to mention my husband and I talk frequently and have to communicate.  Oh yeah, and I have to clean now and then! 😉

I want my family to know that they are the most important part of my life, but need them to know that they should be courteous to Mommy too.  Mommy is also a person, with feelings and desires, and kids often have a hard time realizing that.  I want my children to know that if it’s not an emergency, and Mommy is busy, it’s ok to have to wait a bit.  That being said, I’m bad about forgetting.  So if I say I’ll be there in a minute, that needs to mean that as soon as I finish the specific task I told them they had to wait for, I will be there.

So, how do we balance this?  Well, I’m certainly not an expert.  But there are a few things I’ve put into practice, and a few that I need to work on, listed below:

  1. Set a specific time, or times, each day that you check your social media.  I don’t let my kids turn the tv on after school until 7:00.  The goal is that all homework and chores are finished by then, and that I’ve cleaned the dinner mess.  I like to sit with them while they watch tv, but nobody minds if I’m busy on my phone/computer during this time. (If I’m not folding laundry that is.)  I also wake up before the kids, so sometimes I’ll watch a video on a favorite blog, or read something quick that I am interested in while I make breakfast, etc.
  2. Establish a specific word/phrase that means it’s time to be patient.  If your children are very demanding, or high maintenance (like mine are) then you might need to sit down with them and explain that while you love them, they also need to show you love and respect by allowing you to get some important things done.  (I don’t feel like social media is included in this, unless you run some sort of online business.)  “Mommy needs a minute.”  “It’s time for Mommy to do this.”  “Oh, I’m busy, but I promise what you are asking is next on my to do’s.” are all phrases that could trigger them to realize it’s time to wait.  For many taking that a step farther and agreeing on a specific word or phrase, could be even more helpful. I think I will use alligator.  I can picture smiling, giving a wink and saying “Alligator.” As opposed to a look of frustration and “Wait. A. Min-ute!!!” Sounds much  better to me. 🙂
  3. Be honest with yourself and your family about your priorities.  This might mean getting honest with yourself about what your priorities should be.  Maybe even make yourself a list to remind you of what really matters.  If you are working from home, then it is a priority that you work certain times of the day.  However, if you have become obsessed with social media, or some hobby that consumes you during the time that you could be with your family, something could be very off balance.  If so, admit it, apologize, and move on.  I can’t imagine much that would mean more to your child than for you to say “Mommy has spent too much time on ____ and that’s not my priority, you are.  So I promise from now on I will do better and keep you on the top of my list where you belong.”  Maybe even add that you do want to continue that hobby.  But again, set times that you can do it and stay within those limits.
  4. Have a schedule/ plan.  It’s amazing how much “It’s time for…” works with children.  For example, “Would you like to take a bath?” Is generally less effective than “It’s time for you to take a bath.”  So coming up with a schedule and sticking to it is a wonderful way to make the most of your time.  It will at the same time keep your children aware of when they get all of your attention, and when they won’t get quite as much, because “it’s time” for you to be doing ____.
  5. Give them tasks and goals to accomplish as well.  This goes along with point number 4.  But it won’t do most of us a lot of good to say “It’s time for Mommy to scrapbook”  and expect them to accept it and keep themselves busy.  It’s much more productive to say “It’s time for Mommy to scrapbook while you play with play dough.”  or “While I”m doing this, I want you to clean your room and then come sit next to me and do this crossword puzzle.”  Whatever they need to do, or will enjoy doing.  It will take more effort, but be totally worth being able to be more productive.  Especially for moms.  I think being able to accomplish anything with out getting frustrated and overwhelmed, is worth the extra prep time!!!
  6. When it’s time to be with them, BE WITH THEM!  This whole thing will work best if they know and trust that when you are able to focus on them you really will do it.  It’s hard these days to really enjoy the moment you are in and not have your mind in 100 different places.  It’s ok to tell yourself it’s time to wait too!  “Ok, it’s time to be with them now, I’m going to hang out for this hour and everything else will have to wait.”  I promise that’s a decision you won’t regret!!

I have lots of fun things planned for Christmas and I’m super excited!  I have some fun stuff to share with ya’ll too, so stay tuned!!  After Christmas my four year old will start learning to read, so that will take much more consistency than what we’ve done thus far with her preschool.  I have my blog, my house, my Close to my Heart business, and the list goes on.  All of these things are important to me.  But if I don’t remember these tips, plan, and stay on top of it all, very little will get accomplished to the level that I want to accomplish it.

Remember, we are all in this together and no one is perfect!  Give yourself and your kids some grace as you try to get more organized and productive with being Mommy, and who ever else it is that you need to be!

 

Smile through the trials!

Tiffany

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Letting go of little things

Hey guys!  Today I wanna talk a bit about letting go.  One day I might speak with you about letting go of deeper things.  Like moving past the death of someone you love, letting go of a relationship that ends and breaks your heart, moving to a new place, changing jobs…   (I have experience in some those areas and I know how hard they can be.)  But today I’m talking about letting go of little things.

I’m gonna be honest and tell you that my house is far from where I would like for it to be.  It needs to be organized and reorganized a few times to get things more functional!!  I know this full well, and I’m finally at a place that I am ok with purging as much as I can.  Anyone that’s known me for long knows that I have resisted this, fighting tooth and nail for a long time!  But we need to get rid of some things.  I need more peace and clarity in my home.

So why is it that when I look in the cabinet and see the bottles, bottles that my youngest stopped using a long time ago, I can not get rid of them?!  I’m talking some serious silliness here guys!  I see all those bottles, taking up almost half of the bottom shelf in that cabinet, and no one is using them.  I look at them and say to myself  “I need to get those bottles out of there.”  I feel fine about that when I say it, but then I start to do it and literally start to tear up!!  So I leave them there a little longer.  The Lord has blessed me with 5 beautiful children to love and watch become the people God has made them to be.  I get to experience life and love through each of them differently and 5 is more than many people get.  My last two pregnancies were very hard and I came close to losing both of them.  I don’t want to go through that again and I do not have the “baby bug” desire for another baby.  Besides the fact that I breastfed my kids.  So the bottles came later and weren’t as much of an attachment as nursing them was.  But I can’t take them out of my cabinet!!  I do admit I baby my baby, who is almost 2 1/2, but it’s not like I want him to take a bottle again.  I wouldn’t even let him if he wanted to.  So what’s wrong with me?!  I’m thinking it’s maybe because I do believe he will be my last. (Although I’ve learned to never say never.)  I think it’s not just about him, but about all my babies.  Like putting the bottles away for the last time is so final.  It doesn’t change the fact that I will probably never need bottles again, but maybe it finalizes that part of my life in some way in my heart and mind.

You might think I’m writing this to encourage you to let go of whatever little thing you are holding on to that really doesn’t make sense, but I’m not!  And I’m not putting those bottles away yet either!  I’m just wondering why we do that.  Is it helpful to us in some psychological way?  Is it healthy?  Or unhealthy (probably)?! In the big scheme of life it probably doesn’t matter, and it isn’t hurting anybody.  Although you could probably benefit in some way by letting go.  For me it would mean more cabinet space and a better organized cabinet.  And they will come out eventually.  Just not yet.  So here’s what I say about it… If you are holding on to something and you know you need to let it go, maybe you should.  But maybe there’s some reason that you just aren’t ready, and I think that’s ok too.  As long as your not being totally unreasonable, or hurting yourself or anyone else in any way by holding on to it.  I’ll be praying, asking the Lord to help me to know when it’s time to pack up those bottles.  And asking him to help me to accept it and have peace when I do.  Maybe he will also show me why I’ve had such a hard time with it.  So tell me my friend, what little seemingly insignificant thing have you held on to and for how long?  I’d really love to know!  Maybe we are just hopelessly sentimental!  And I don’t know that that’s a bad thing.  I will talk to you soon!!

 

Smile through the trials!! (big and small)

Tiffany

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Changing of seasons, of the year and life!!

I’m sitting at my kitchen table, my blinds are open because my kids are in the back yard playing.  The oldest is almost 12, but I still like to be able to see them while they are outside.  Sometimes I get all “Mommy nostalgic” and just stare at them.  I should be taking advantage of this time to get my house picked up.  And I was.  But then I decided I wanted to talk for a bit. 🙂  They want to take some pics playing the leaves, and I took a few earlier.  That’s the only way to capture this moment, even in the smallest way.  I love those kids with every ounce of my being.  I’m finding out it’s harder than we thought when we little girls with our dolls, to raise children.  When they are just babies, it’s easy.  I mean, it doesn’t feel easy.  Because you’re so tired!!  But loving and caring for them comes pretty natural.  When they get older things get more complicated.  They get a mind of their own and start to have opinions! Yikes!!  I never realized how different it is when your children are no longer basically an extension of you.  Accepting the fact that my older kids weren’t babies anymore was actually kinda hard on me.  And then pretty much as soon as I accepted it, I was pregnant again!  Then it all started over.  But not really because it was very different this time already having kids.  Can’t sleep when the baby sleeps, scheduling is different because everyone has there own stuff going on, etc.  It’s just different.  Anyway, I was just thinking about them playing in the leaves, and how much I love the fall.  And that made me think about the season of life we are in.  I’m very settled and happy in this season.  Very grateful for each of them and their vast differences and enduring similarities.  I can’t imagine the day when the little one’s will say “My big brother/sister is in college.”  They might get on each others nerves and drive me crazy with their bickering, but it makes me sad to think that there will be a time that they won’t see each other every day.  But looking at the four of them, holding hands and running and jumping into a pile of leaves together, makes me grateful for both seasons.  Fall; And this time, this moment in our lives.  Their memories…. Whatever season you are in my friend, embrace it.  Try to appreciate the good and live in the day.  We often spend much of our time in our heads, either reminiscing about a past time, or planning for later time.  And we need to remember, and we need to plan, but don’t forget to just be.  I like this quote. (Idk where it’s from, but I heard it on the A-team!) “Live for today.  Yesterday is but a memory, and tomorrow is just a vision.  But today well lived makes yesterday a fond memory and tomorrow a vision of hope.”  I hope we can live with that though in mind! I will talk to you soon!

Smile through the trials!

Tiffany