Monday, June 29, 2015

Mom-ing Through Faith: On Discipline, Part 1

Every momma makes her own choices from the moment her baby takes his/her first breath: To breastfeed or not? To co-sleep or not? To cry it out or not? To vaccinate or not? To homeschool or not? To require extra-curricular work or not? To buy a teenager a car or not? To offer rewards for good grades or not? 

Each of us makes our own, individual momma decisions each and every day. And every momma is unique. And every child is unique. 


There is one unifying issue that we ALL face: Discipline. 

That being said, though, there are a great many ways to discipline. And SO many questions and opinions on how to do it "right." 

What I present now (and over the next few weeks) is MY opinion. It's information that I find helpful. These are strategies that I use when parenting. I present this information not only as a momma of three who is 5.5 years into this parenting gig (which is still very much "rookie" status compared to the many mommas who have raised teenagers and beyond. Trust me, I have several mommas in my life who are rockin' the late childhood/preteen/teenager phase who I look up to and will be constantly soliciting for advice when the time comes), but also as someone who is doctorate-level trained in child and family psychology with lots of experience in helping children with severe emotional and behavioral disorders, which included lots and lots of parent training. So. Not only is this research-, training-, and educationally-based, but also (and maybe most importantly), experience-based. 

One caveat: My children are not perfect. Why in the WORLD would they be? Am I perfect? Absolutely not. So why in the WORLD would I expect perfection from my children? Or from myself? I don't. So. Please do not assume I have this whole momma thing down pat. I am NOT EVEN CLOSE.

As a Christian, I think the greatest thing we can offer ourselves as mommas is GRACE. We should not only allow, but be okay with, making mistakes. And allow the same courtesy for our children. Because not only are we on a lifelong learning journey as mommas, but our children are on their own learning journey, learning what is okay and what is not okay behavior. Mistakes are a crucial part of that journey.

Also, remember that last post? The one about gifts? Well, my gifts do NOT include cooking. They do NOT include interior design. They do NOT include  business-mindedness. They do NOT include spontaneity. Nope. But I do have experience in working with kiddos and their families. So. Hopefully, the training and experiences I've had will prove helpful to others. But also, please feel free to chime in via Facebook commentary if you have specific questions or other advice or opinions. Because, again, I want this to be a COMMUNITY forum, where we help one another, ranging from mommas of newborns to mommas of college-bound kiddos.  It takes a village, right?

Anywho, this is going to be a multiple weeks kind of topic because, well, it needs to be. There is just SO MUCH to dive into that it would be information overload to include it all in one post. In fact, it's hard to even type as fast as my thoughts are running right now, and I just can't WAIT to share all this information that is filling my child psychology-lovin' noggin. So. Off we go!

I want to start with something that I heard in an Andy Stanley sermon on parenting (this is an AMAZING sermon, by the way, that he presented alongside his wife, if you have any time to watch or listen). It has HUGELY impacted the way I view parenting ever since I heard it a couple years ago. 

Basically, Andy and Sandra talk about how our role as parental disciplinarians changes across age-defined stages throughout our children's development. Specifically, 

Ages 1-5: The Discipline Years. This stage is crucial in teaching our children right from wrong. These are the years when we will often feel like we are disciplining our children all.the.time. These are the years we are "in the trenches." These are very demanding years, as we are constantly shaping, modifying, and teaching appropriate behaviors. We are outlining rules and expectations and handing down consequences to help our children learn what is okay and what is not okay. But here's the thing, and this is IMPORTANT: not handling this stage of discipline effectively can have an adverse and long-lasting impact on later stages of development if the hard work of effectively disciplining is not done NOW. This is not the time to try to be your child's friend. This is not the time to strive to be well-liked by your child. If this stage is done correctly, you are setting the stage for a lifelong friendship with your child, albeit when that time in life comes (see below). This certainly doesn't mean we can't have fun with our children, make loving and lasting memories with them, and enjoy them. But. It is of GREAT importance that persistent and consistent disciplinary methods take precedence. When asked to define my parenting, I always say I am "firm but loving." I offer lots of praise and am a play-on-my-hands-and-knees and be present and fun kind of momma, but I am also not afraid to be strict and firm when I need to be. More on that later. And I am going to spend a good deal of time outlining much more about what I mean by "effective" discipline in the upcoming weeks. So, make sure you stick around...

Ages 5-12: The Training Years. Now it's time to work alongside our children, helping to train them to make good choices based on what they learned during the disciplinary stage. They will still need a good bit of help and guidance, but more in the form of reminders and revisiting previously learned lessons rather than constant, hands-on discipline. They are inherently given more independence as they enter the formal schooling years, which is why it is critical that appropriate disciplinary methods are used during those early years--in the hopes that they will take what they have learned and begin to be able to apply it without having a parent looking over their shoulders at all times. 

Ages 12-18: The Coaching Years. This may be an especially hard stage for "helicopter" parents (and trust me, I need to really work on pulling my plane away by the time I reach this stage!), as children are afforded much more trust to use what they have learned throughout childhood as they continue to gain independence. We parents are now the "coaches": giving them encouragement and guidance from afar (but, of course, being ready, willing, and able to step in when needed). Again, this is why it is critical to get the discipline right from the get-go; otherwise, behavior can regress as independence is gained.

Ages 18+: The Friendship Years. Now is the time for friendship. As our children leave the nest in pursuit of their own dreams and desires, we can take on the role of a friend, a confidant, a trusted and well-loved companion, while, of course, also being available to offer sound advice and help and guidance as needed. As Andy and Sandra say, "later is longer." While it would be much easier and more fun to take on this friend role earlier in life, those early years are such a short period of time in their life. Why not set them up for success by using effective discipline early on, especially since "later is longer" (meaning the 18+ stage clearly lasts for a longer time, allowing more time for true friendship for the remainder of life, especially if discipline is effectively introduced and maintained early on).

Whew. I think that's enough to chew on for this week. I have SO MUCH planned on this very important topic of discipline, including very specific recommendations and strategies that can be put to use immediately. In fact, next week, I'll present what I consider to be the CARDINAL RULE of parenting; so please make sure to check back in next Monday as Mom-ing Through Faith continues...

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6.

Friday, June 26, 2015

11 Years. Forever.

My Hub,

Today, the vows we said 11 years ago mean more than ever before. 

Through thick and thin
Through good and bad
Through easy and hard
Through light and dark
Through better and worse
Through it all

Our love has never, ever waned. 

You are my forever. I love you with all my heart, Rich. 

Remember this? 

Forever By Ben Harper
Not talkin' 'bout a year
No not three or four
I don't want that kind of forever
In my life anymore
Forever always seems
to be around when it begins
but forever never seems
to be around when it ends
So give me your forever
Please your forever
Not a day less will do From you

People spend so much time
Every single day
Runnin' 'round all over town
Givin' their forever away
But no not me
I won't let my forever roam
and now I hope I can find
my forever a home
So give me your forever
Please your forever
Not a day less will do
From you

Like a handless clock with numbers
An infinite of time
No not the forever found
Only in the mind
Forever always seems
to be around when things begin
but forever never seems
to be around when things end
So give me your forever
Please your forever
Not a day less will do
From you 

With All My Heart,

Your Wif

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mom-ing Through Faith: On Being Restless

Sometimes, okay, many times, I feel like I am missing something. 

Now, don't get me wrong. I am so very happy with my life. With my family. With my growing faith. But. Over the last year especially, I have felt, well, restless

Do you feel the same way? 

Maybe you are just trying to "get through" this newborn/toddlerhood/teenager phase one day at a time. That is DEFINITELY me, too, many days.

Maybe you are a full-time working momma, one who works her tail off all day long in the corporate world and then rushes home to sneak in a few hours with your littles before your exhausted head hits the pillow. 

Maybe you are a stay-at-home momma, one who works her tail off all day long in the household and tries to feel appreciated by the seemingly mundane tasks that dictate many of your days before your head hits the pillow. 

Maybe you are somewhere in between. 

In that case, imagine my surprise, jubilation, and overwhelming joy when I went on a women's retreat (my first ever) recently and the absolutely adorable and amazing momma of four, Jennie Allen, was the invited speaker and the topic was....wait for it....feeling restless. [insert heavenly harps playing and sunlight beaming down through the clouds]. Wow. Did I need this!

What is my purpose--as a momma? As a wife? As a daughter? As a sister? As a friend? As a Christian? As a human? 

Why am I here? Why am I on this earth? Why was I given the life I was given? Why was I given the roles I was given? 

How can I please God, even as I continue my own unique path in my faith journey? How can I change the world? How can I know what to do with my life?

And what's more, how in the world am I supposed to find the time to answer all these questions while I am knee deep in diapers, time outs, carpool, laundry folding, and meal planning? 

Do you feel the same way? Do you have the same questions?

Maybe you, too, feel restless but also, perhaps, a little overwhelmed

In today's world, in part became of the never-ending chase to "win" at mommahood (I'm looking at you, comparison), I often feel this underlying requirement to be all things to all people at all times. But. Here's a little secret: No one can be all things to all people at all times. In fact, God did not design us that way. And thank goodness, because what a terribly boring world we would live in if we were all good at everything. If we were all capable of being all things to all people at all times. 

Nope. That's not how God created us at all.

Each one of us mommas who are reading this post right now are uniquely and wonderfully made, by God, for our own specific purpose. We were not all made the same. We were not all created with the same gifts. We were not all created to fulfill the same purpose.

For example, there are two Emilys in my life who I just adore: 

One is a full-time working momma who not only spends her days educating impoverished children but also managed to create, develop, maintain, and run a very successful jewelry business, all while raising her young daughter. When she is in the room, she brings warmth, enthusiasm, light, and fun. These are some of her gifts

The other is a stay-at-home momma of two who has an unmatched passion for her faith. She is well-read, always ready to listen, and is taking steps to change the world by following where the Lord is leading her. When she is in the room, she makes everyone around her feel comfortable, at ease, well-loved, and important. These are some of her gifts. 

Two Emilys. Two different people. Two different passions. Two different mommas. Two different sets of gifts. Two different paths. One God who created them in such unique and wonderful ways. 

As mommas, we often strive to be all things to all people. Let's stop. 

Let's focus on the specific gifts that God gave each of us individually and use those to better ourselves as mommas, as people, as Christians. 

So. Here's the question. One that may feel arrogant or hard or selfish to answer, but important, so very important: 

As a momma, what are YOUR gifts? What are your unique and wonderful gifts that God purposefully intended for YOU to have and to use? 

I think if we can answer this question, we can start to feel a little less restless, a little less overwhelmed, and maybe, just maybe, can start to become more aware of our purpose at this stage of the mommahood game. 

'Cause here's the thing. Not only does God give each of us our own gifts, he also gives each of us our own individual life story that not only shapes us but also shapes the way we come to understand and use our gifts. 

Need an example? Want complete transparency? Here it is: 

When I was 9, my dad died, very tragically and very unexpectedly, leaving behind a single momma with four young children to raise on her own. That day, a deep desire to help others, children in particular, was born in me. This is MY story. These are the gifts that God has given me to use to fulfill the purpose He sees for my life:

A few years ago, MY role, MY purpose was quite different than it is now. I was working full-time as a pediatric neuropsychologist in a large children's hospital and trying to help children and their families who were faced with various medical, cognitive, and psychological challenges, with the ultimate goal of helping them achieve their potential. I was able to communicate effectively with the families, school, physicians, and treatment teams and help establish comprehensive treatment plans to best help the families navigate their lives, all through writing, research, and speaking engagements. I also supervised graduate students who were pursuing the came career path and did my best to do so in a supportive, educational, and meaningful way. Those were the gifts that God gave me that I was able to use at that time. Based on my own childhood, I wanted to help these children and their families, and I was ultimately able to do just that by using the unique gifts God game me. 

Things are different now, as I transitioned into a stay-at-home momma role almost three years ago. Currently I believe that MY role, MY purpose, at this point in my life is to raise kind, loving, faith-filled children who love Jesus and want to better the world. My babies are young and are home with me at this stage in their lives, which has allowed me to play a more hands-on role in shaping their view of themselves, each other, and the world. I am still helping children, only at this time in my life, they are my own. I am also able to squeeze in time to write this blog, and I believe that writing is one of the gifts that God gave me. So. I am currently using that gift to try to help, influence, support, and nurture other mommas around me. 

Two different times in my life. Two different roles. Two different ways to use the gifts I was given. All stemming from the unique path my life has followed. This is MY story. What's yours?

Already in this series, I've mentioned Jennie Allen several times. I do it because her words have been life-changing for me, and I wonder if they could be for you, too. That being said,  I'd likely to give my highest recommendation that you stop reading this post for a moment, open up, and order her book, Restless. You will not regret it. 

As Jennie says,
"We need to quit apologizing for using our gifts and start apologizing for not using them."
Knowing your unique gifts is not arrogant. We are uniquely and wonderfully made, with our own individual gifts, with our own individual purposes. 
" using my gifts, others would be released to use their gifts, and so on."

You never know the impact that your gifts, your purpose, can have on another. 

"Without some effort, we will waste our minutes, our days, our lives."

Let's not waste our lives. What are we waiting for?

"I waded through a decade of the seemingly mundane, but if someone didn't change my children's diapers, they would not be able to change the world."

Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

So. Again, I ask: 

As a momma, what are YOUR gifts? What are your unique and wonderful gifts that God purposefully intended for YOU to have and to use? 

I think if we can identify and use our gifts, we just may be able to change the world...and maybe a few diapers along the way.

Do not neglect the gift you have. 1 Timothy 4:14.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Five on Friday: Father's Day Edition

Thank the good Lord it's Friday, y'all! Summer is just rolling right along, isn't it? I mean, I cannot believe we are already over halfway through June. It's pure craziness, I tell ya. 

Anywho. Here's my Friday Five for today: 

My biggest boy had his first ever Vacation Bible School this week. For whatever reason, the first two days during drop-off he was very teary--it's so unlike our outgoing, confident boy! I'm not sure if it was because there weren't any familiar faces when we first arrived or if he was overwhelmed by all the kids and rockin' music. Regardless, he did great when I dropped him off the second half of the week and had the best time. He is already asking to go back next year, when Rals will be old enough to join him. I just adore their Jesus-lovin' hearts. <3

You guyyyyyyyyyys. Insomnia. Oh my word. For the last month, I have had the WORST insomnia. It reminded me of how badly I had it when I was pregnant (and no, no I'm not, thankyouverymuch). There have been days where I have been an absolute zombie. I am just not someone who can function without good sleep; so, this last month has been rough. I finally called my doc and am currently taking an OTC medication. I am so very happy to report that, for the last three nights, I have gotten GOOD sleep (as in 8-9 much-needed hours after weeks and weeks of terrible, disrupted sleep). I feel like a new woman!

This weekend, my oldest two kiddos are headed out for a weekend o' fun with Bammy and Digby. They asked if they could visit them for five nights, but I told them two nights would have to do for now. I know Bam and Digs have some fun plans up their sleeves, and I can't wait to hear all about their adventures when we pick them up on Sunday!

Meanwhile, my hub, Harrison, and I will be back home and carrying on a Father's Day tradition we started last summer. Tomorrow, my hub and 27 other friends/dads from the 'hood will be playing a round of golf before meeting up with us mommas and our kiddos at the pool for a little pool-side dining. Should be fun for all ages! We'll conclude our weekend by reuniting with Banks and Raleigh and celebrating our Daddy.

Next week is going to be a bit of a doozy. As I previously mentioned shouted from the rooftops, my hub recently started a new (NON-TRAVELING!) job. However. Next week, he will be in San Francisco for training, which means I'll be solo-momma-ing it all week. While the record-breaking heat 'round these parts continues. And I prep for our first of two family beach trips the following week. Gulp. ;) Luckily, the should be the last of any travel like this for the forseeable future. And I am so excited to hit the beach that the adrenaline and anticipation of our impending trip may just carry me through the week unscathed.

And with that, we're off to get this Father's Day party started! Thank you to the many, many awesome mommas out there who joined me for the first Mom-ing Through Faith post. The readership for the series continues to be absolutely amazing, and I was blown away, and in tears multiple times, reading over the wonderful, uplifting comments many of you so bravely and kindly posted on Facebook. Remember our "assignment": reach out to three other mommas in your life and let them know how awesome they are. 

And please check back in on Monday for another new Mom-ing Through Faith post. See you then! Happy Father's Day to the dads in your lives. Xoxo

Monday, June 15, 2015

Mom-ing Through Faith: On Comparison

"I've wasted a lot of my life. I grew up with a sickening chase to win people's approval that I could not ever catch. And so I have given most of my life to the cause of being liked. God was never enough for me." 

- from Jennie Allen's Restless: Because You Were Made For More.

Anybody out there able to relate to this? If you could see me right now, you would see me sheepishly raising my hand. I wanted to kick off this Mom-ing Through Faith series with a topic I think ALL mommas out there can relate to: the dangerous game of comparison.

A few other lines from the Restless book that are along the same lines (hard to admit but, for me at least, absolutely true): 

"Comparison is often why our important roles shrink to seem so insignificant. Comparison robs us of the joy of obedience."

"Most of us would love to make a name for ourselves, and we spend a lot of our energy trying and trying, but at the same time trying not to look like we are trying."

"We have hijacked the game, measuring worth with a scale that God did not create...doing things for the applause of others is where we muddy our purpose."

I'm not sure when or how or why, but for some reason, there seems as though there is a competitive edge to mommahood. Has it always been this way? Has there always been this pressure to be the best? Have mommas always felt the need to show just how great of a job we're doing to the rest of the world? Do other mommas feel less than when they perceive other mommas are doing a "better" job at mommahood than them? 

Are you guilty of this? 

I am.

One of my favorite sermons I have ever heard was by the most influential pastor of my life, Andy Stanley. During this sermon in particular, he talked about our constant need for "ER." As in, we all have this desire to be smartER, richER, thinnER, basically bettER, than everyone around us. But. As Andy so wisely stated,

"There is no win in comparison."

Because what then? Then comes the EST. The desire to be smartEST, richEST, thinnEST, basically the BEST, compared to everyone around us. 

And what then? Does this make us feel fulfilled? Maybe. Maybe momentarily. Maybe superficially. But you know what? I bet it's pretty lonely and exhausting and non-fulfilling constantly trying to be the best. And what's more, as mommas, it's hard to support one another if we're constantly trying to beat each other. 

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10.

So. Let's end the chase. Let's end the chase of trying to be bettER, or the bEST, and instead try to just be. Let's be supportive, let's be insightful, let's be self-aware, let's be loving, let's be what God designed us to be. 

And right now, right this very second, let's be a little brave. Let's be kind to one another and show each other that we mommas are in this thing together.

So, here's our "assignment for the week," if you're game: Under the link for this post on Facebook, tag a momma friend and tell her something you admire about her. It may feel a little silly, but you just may make her day. 

And then, if you're really feeling brave, contact three other mommas this week--text them, call them, email them, tell them in person--and tell them something really great about themselves. Maybe you are amazed by their patience with their children, their work-life balance, the love and support they give to their husband, their dedication to their friendships, their enduring faith. Whatever it may be, tell them. Let's see how many mommas we can postively impact with this simple but meaningful gesture. 

So. Rather than constantly compete with one another, let's start this series off by lifting each other up. Who's in? 

See you next week! 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Five On Friday: Let's Do This Thing! Edition

Just a quick post for today as I'm spending my other "free" (re: nap) time working hard on the new Mom-ing Through Faith blog series. So, here's my Friday Five for this week:

Speaking of the Mom-ing Through Faith series, I cannot tell you how very excited I am to get this thing up and going!!! I have so many ideas, and I just want to dive in and start publishing new posts every single hour of every single day! That last intro post I wrote was the most read post I have ever written. Ever. In the nearly three years I've been blogging. This tells me (1) we mommas are in this thing together; (2) we mommas want to grow in our faith; and (3) we mommas know it takes a village. So, let's do this thing! 

I'm thinking that "Mom-ing Through Faith" Mondays has a nice ring to it. Plus, that way we'll all know when to check back here each week so we can support each other, learn together, and grow, grow, grow. Also, publishing each post a week apart will allow plenty of time for each of us to reflect on what we learn and discuss and reach out to each other as a momma community as new connections are made and relationships are formed. So, make sure you're back here Monday and we'll kick this thing off together!

Banks and Raleigh had camp all this week, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm each day. One of the things that I love about my 'hood is that it is very child friendly, with lots of events and activities offered year-round, with summer being no exception (can you tell I am ALWAYS recruiting?!). All summer, different camps are offered each week, for kids of different ages. Because the camp this week was for children between the ages of 3 and 5, Banks and Raleigh got to go together. They had the BEST time! There were tennis lessons, art activities, daily pool time, a petting zoo, and a water day, and those kiddos were smiling from ear to ear each day I picked them up. :) Banks also put HIMSELF down for naps twice this week during his daily "room time." Yep, I'd say those kiddos had fun!

Meanwhile, this little guy and I got plenty of one-on-one momma time. It was really nice because we mostly just hung around the house, playing together for hours and hours. Such a dream boat, this little fella:


This was a busy week for our little fam, filled with kiddo playdates as well as grown-up gatherings. :) Then, last night, my hub and I joined seven other couples to head into Charlotte for the Kenny Chesney concert. Although I am dragging a little today, it was fun, fun, fun. We left at 5:00 pm, all riding together, and then stopped for a drink Uptown to kick off the night o' fun. After that, it was all about Kenny, country, and kickin' up our heels. Yeehaw, y'all!

Aside from a double date night tomorrow night with some dear friends, we are laying pretty low this weekend as we recover from our late night last night (I just can't hang like I used to). ;) I'm guessing a little Pure Barre and pool time is in my future...

I hope you have a great weekend, too. See you on Monday for the first official "Mom-ing Through Faith" post. <3 <3 <3

Monday, June 8, 2015

Mom-ing Through Faith: An Intro

Much of what I know about the Bible, I am learning through reading my children's Bible books with them. 

I am not a momma who can spout off scripture. I don't know most of the names of the people of the Bible. Not only that, I hardly know how to pronounce half the names I come across when reading the Bible. I know only a few of the most well-known stories (Noah had an ark. Jonah had a whale). I don't know how to quickly flip to specific sections of the Bible when they are referred to during church because I don't know where they are. 

All this to say, my fact-based knowledge of the Bible is minimal. There are reasons for that, that those closest to me know about. And that's okay. I will spend the rest of my life continuing in my faith walk and seeing where this beautiful life takes me.

What I do know now, today, is that my faith-based knowledge? My belief that Jesus died for our sins, that everything before, during, and after me is all thanks to God, that I will be saved when my time on this earth comes to end. Well, that belief, that knowledge, that awareness is steadfast. 

Over the last few years, I have taken steps to strengthen both. My hub and I joined a LifeGroup almost two years ago. We joined, and go to church, every Sunday we are in town, so that both we can learn and our children can learn. We volunteer in the nursery once a month. I attended my first ever women's retreat a couple months ago and meet up with my three amazing roomies monthly so that we can support each other and hold each other accountable. I am starting a new Bible study with 15 other amazing women from my neighborhood in just two weeks. This is the path that I am taking to continue to build, grow, and understand my relationship with Jesus. 

But. Here's the thing: No person's walk through faith is the same.

At this very moment, some are treading lightly, wondering what this Christianity thing is all about. There are more questions than answers. More doubt than belief. More "How can that be's" than "That must be's." 

Others are all in. They believe with all their heart, soul, mind, and body, that there is a God, our God, and that he is a good God. They have gone to church all their lives. They know the scripture. They know the stories. They know the people. They know the Bible.

We are all different. We all have our own unique paths. We all have our own unique stories. Isn't that amazing?

And you know what? The same can be said for mommahood, I think. 

Some of us are new mommas, who are treading lightly. We are full of questions, feeling overwhelmed, unsure of what to expect. With each new milestone comes new questions. We are uncertain. We feel alone. We wonder when things will get easier. We wonder if we are doing it right. We're not sure where to turn, how to grow, how to learn.

Some of us are multiple-kids-in to this whole momma gig. We are well-versed on the "facts" of babyhood (sleep-training; introduction of solids; acquisition of developmental milestones). We know the most effective means of toddler discipline. We know the steps to take to raise a loving, trustworthy, successful teen. We've got many of the answers because we've lived them and breathed them: the how-to's, the know who's, the what to do's. And yet? We wonder how to grow, how to learn.

So. Here's what I propose: I want to use this blog as an open forum for us mommas to provide for each other in a kind, loving, advice-seeking, support-giving way. Whether it be answering faith-based questions, such as 

"What kind of impact am I having on this world if I am "just" a momma?" 
"What kind of momma should I be if I want to truly honor God?"
"What does the Bible say about mommahood?"
"What is next for me in my faith walk?"
"How can I raise good, loving, faith-filled children?",

or focusing on day-to-day parenting questions, such as

"How do I get my baby to, please dear Lord, sleep?!?"
"What can I do to help prepare my kiddo(s) to be a big sibling?"
"How do I get through the threenager stage and come out sane on the other side?"
"What is the best way to prepare my preschooler/5th grader/8th grader/12th grader for the next stage in their education?"
"How can I ensure I am building and maintaining a loving, respectful relationship with my child?"

Because here's the thing: I 100% believe that we mommas are in this thing together. We ALL have questions about our faith or parenting or both, and I want US to work TOGETHER to help EACH OTHER. 

But YOU and I are going to have to let down our defenses, admit our mistakes, be ready to change, be prepared not to judge, and be willing to help each other. 

What do ya say? You in? 'Cause I am! 

And ooooh, y'all, am I excited!!!

Stay tuned....

Friday, June 5, 2015

Five On Friday: Stay Tuned Edition

Five On Friday, off we go!

I am planning a new and HONEST and EXHILARATING and (hopefully!) HELPFUL blog series. It's something that's really been on my heart the last few months, and something I've been putting to paper the last few weeks, and I am almost ready to put it out there. I really, really, REALLY hope you'll join me in participating. It will only work if YOU do. So. Please stay tuned and pretty please with sugar on top, come on back next week for the reveal. And then, pretty please with sugar on top, stick around and dive in with me! 

We got the photos back from our recent family photo shoot and ohmygoodness, I love them all so very much. I am so lucky that one of my nearest and dearest is an amazingly talented photographer and was able to capture such a special time in our lives. I'm waiting for four of the photos to arrive on big canvases as we speak and can't wait to print and frame many of the others that I just adore. Thank you, thank you, thank you, V!!! <3

We snuck in a few different playdates this week, between all the yucky rain showers, with several different sweet, neighborhood friends. I just love that my kiddos have such great buddies in the neighborhood whose mommas are such great buddies of mine. And when this is the end result of one of them, well, you know good times were had by all: 

I remember when I was pregnant with Sweet Baby Lu and asking other mommas for advice on how to manage three young kiddos, and one momma wisely telling me that things would be easy and then hard and then easy and then hard and so on. Actually, I think the same can be said for having one, two, three, or more kiddos in the family. And, I have to admit, we have entered one of the hard phases. Mainly because my Sweet Baby Lu, aka Harrison, has reached the oh-so-tiring into EVERYTHING phase. I just can't turn my back for a minute because this little fella is FAST. And he often thinks he can move faster than his little feet will carry him so there are lots of falls and bumps and heart-stopping moments. Unless he is contained somewhere (read: stroller, high chair, carseat, crib), I just can't relax. Now, I am not complaining in the least--these moments are what help a momma earn her stripes--but don't be surprised if my "dolt drink" intake increases in the morning (hello, coffee) and also in the evening (hello, wine). Whew!

My sistas and I are headed to my hometown tomorrow to shower my sister "in law" as we celebrate the impending arrival of cousin #8 (and boy #4) at the end of the summer. Although it'll be a day-trip only, I'm excited to see my sisters and spoil my newest nephew. Meanwhile, my hub will be holding down the fort back home with my trio, braving a pool birthday party with all three in tow. God speed, hub. 

And with that, I hope you have an awesome weekend! And I really hope you'll check back next week for my blog series reveal and then, perhaps, dive in with me. Whatdoyasay?! Have a good one!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Isms, Part 20

We've been laughing our way through the Spring, thanks to my hilarious little Lus. And there's nothing like a little comic relief right when you need it most, amIright? That being said, I now present Isms, Part 20 (Wow!):

Banks: "I'm confused. Will you tell me the answer so I can get un-confused."
Always a good idea to get un-confused.

Daddy: "What's wrong?"
Banks: "They're calling me a cheater out there."
Daddy: "Well, were you cheating?"
Banks: "Well...yeah."
Alrighty then.

Banks: "I have a super power."
Momma: "What is it?" 
Banks: "When I look up at the sun and then I look away, I can see green and orange. 'Jane' at school has the same super power, too!" 
That is *quite* the super power, I must say. Next thing you know, his vision will slowly adjust to darkness...

Banks: "Did you cut the grass with a real mow launder?"
Mow launder?! So close, buddy. You were so close.

Banks: "If me and my friends played outside today, we would get soak and wet."

(Loud thud, followed by crying...)
Momma: "What's wrong, Rals?"
Raleigh: "I hit my eyebrown."

Raleigh: "Daddy, the moon is following us."
I love that sweet innocence. <3

Banks: "My ma'ams are on vacation to Boston College."
Momma: "Well, then, your treats are on vacation, too."
Banks: "No, wait! My ma'ams are NOT on vacation!" 
Funny how fast those ma'ams returned!

Raleigh: "Can I have some of your drank" (this is how she pronounces /drink/ with her sweet Southern twang)
Momma: "Not this one, honey."
Raleigh: "Because it's a dolt drink?"
I do love me a good dolt drink.

Keep on, keepin' on, little Lus.