6 Things I’m NOT Doing So I Can Enjoy My Kids’ Childhoods Instead

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I know it’s cliché, but kids really do grow up too fast. Tater turned 8 a few weeks ago, and I was having a Mommy Meltdown about my baby growing up, and how on earth did this happen, and so on. I kept thinking about the last four years since Junior was born, and how stressed and busy I was, and how I just wanted a break–until I looked back and realized how much I missed because I was so anxiously awaiting the day that life would calm down. Life never really calms down, the challenges just become different. But, it really made me consider how fleeting time is, and how I really just need to enjoy the kids every single day. They will never be as young again as they are today. So, here are 6 things I’m not doing, so I can enjoy my kids’ childhoods instead:

 

1. Not Glued to My Phone
Technology is one of those double edged swords–phones and computers are useful and often necessary, but it’s also easy to become a slave to our devices. Instead of making it a point to check my phone for messages, emails, or anything else during the day, I’ve been putting it away and only checking it when the kids are in bed. My goal is that I’m never looking at a screen when they come looking for me.

 

2. Not Out and About All the Time
We have had a ridiculous amount of appointments since Junior was born 4 years ago. Several days a week, we are out of the house most of the morning, and once we get home it’s time to do school, cook, clean, and otherwise get caught up on life. I never feel caught up, and it’s stressful for everyone when you’re always trying to play catch up.

A couple weeks ago, we had no therapies or doctor’s appointments planned for an entire week, and I had forgotten how blissful it is to be home. We were able to play, do art projects, do school and get all the household chores done without feeling stressed. I’m moving our schedule around so we’re home more, so I can spend more time playing than driving.

 

3. Not Thinking About Tomorrow
I’ll admit it–I’m terrible when it comes to living in the present. I’m always thinking about the next thing…tomorrow, next week, my to-do lists, my life goals–that I often forget to be in the present. Right now. I want to enjoy my kids’ little faces while they’re still little, and not look back and regret that I didn’t fully enjoy the time with them. Instead of thinking about the next thing when I’m with them, I’m trying to stay in the moment–thinking about what I have right here and right now. What do I see? What do I hear? I just want to soak it all in and create memories in the now.

 

4. Not Spending Too Much Time On Meals
How many times have I heard “Momma, can you play with us?” while I’m trying to make dinner? Too many. I have to tell them later, but of course later never happens because too soon it’s bathtime and bedtime and tomorrow. So, I’ve started incorporating more slow cooker and freezer meals into our weekly menu so dinner is healthy and yet quick. My mom always used to tell people that it didn’t matter if she spent 20 minutes or 2 hours on a meal, as long as everyone was full and happy. Luckily, there are tons of healthy crock pot recipes that are a snap to prepare. (My slow cooker black beans and chicken tacos are always a family favorite.)

 

5. Not Forgetting to Have a Plan
Not so much a schedule, but in order to get the most out of our time, I’ve found it to be helpful to have a bit of a plan for the day. I may plan breakfast, outdoor play time, art project, lunch, school time, and a movie. Nothing too specific, but just a guide so I’m not standing around at 2pm wondering what on earth we did all day.

 

6. Not Ignoring the Little Moments
My doctor’s office has a sign that says “Never forget to enjoy the little blessings of today. Someday you will look back and realize they were the big blessings.” I love that. Right now I may take for granted when Junior wants me to pick him up and carry him to the car, or when Tater reaches up to hold my hand in the parking lot, but someday I’m going to look back and miss those little hands and that soft hair, and those sweet little voices.

Years from now, I’ll be wishing for “just one more day” with them being little, so I intend to enjoy that “one more day” right now.

 

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Book Review: A Beauty Refined

#2: A Beauty RefinedI haven’t read or reviewed any fiction books in a while which is so unlike me! I always enjoy having a good novel to read in the evenings. We just returned from a family vacation and I brought along A Beauty Refined, Tracie Peterson’s newest novel in the Sapphire Brides series.

The novel is set in 1907 in Helena, Montana. Phoebe von Bergen, the daughter of a wealthy German count, accompanies her father to Montana as he purchases sapphires for the German royalty. Phoebe begins to explore the city and becomes intrigued with the simplicity of the West.

Ian Harper is a lapidary working in Helena, and wants to get to know the young woman who has recently come to visit America. The more he learns about her, however, the more he realizes that he knows more about her family than even she does, and that her entire family dynamic is based on deception and lies. Phoebe’s father has many secrets he has not shared, and this places Phoebe in danger. Ian must reveal the truth to her and keep her safe at any cost. Her life will never be the same as she learns about the secrets that her father has, and what truly happened to the mother that Phoebe lost when she was only 12 years old.

I enjoyed this novel. It was an easy read that flowed nicely, and I really enjoyed the twists and turns that the book was constantly providing. The ending was bittersweet, but necessary, as the secrets that Phoebe’s father had kept finally came to light and were righted.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Book Review: The Spiritual Warfare Answer Book

We’ve all heard that nagging little voice in our head. The voice that says God doesn’t care about us, the voice that tells us to “just give up”, the cruel voice that causes us to doubt God’s love and plan for our lives.

That, my friends, is spiritual warfare. The devil is alive and well and wants to crush our joy and hope to make us ineffective in our Christian walks. Dr. David Jeremiah has written a little handbook that answers questions about the aspects of spiritual warfare using biblical support and examples.

This book is a great introduction to the whys and whats of spiritual warfare. Such questions that are answered include:

-Why study spiritual warfare?

-Why is it important to understand the enemy?

-What caused Lucifer to fall from heaven?

-What are the wiles of the devil?

-How powerful is Satan?

-What armor has God given me for warfare?

In addition to these basic questions, Dr. Jeremiah also takes an in-depth look at each of the six individual pieces of the Armor of God that is found in Ephesians 6, as well as the powerful weapon of prayer.

This book is a handy guide that helps you understand that we are all engaged in an unseen war whether we know it or not, but that we should not enter this warfare in fear, but in victory, since we have already been granted victory through Jesus. I would recommend this book as an introduction to spiritual warfare, since it answers many basic questions and gives a lot of scriptural backup for the answers provided.

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through Book Look Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

DIY Magnetic Travel Puzzle

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As you’ve probably already noticed, I love making travel games and toys for the kids. Between my felt funny faces, lap tray, and travel Lego tray (which always gets compliments while on airplanes), I really enjoy coming up with new ways to keep the kids occupied during long trips.

For our most recent trip, I wanted to figure out a way to make a travel puzzle. I knew they needed to be magnetic, but couldn’t figure out an easy way to make it happen. I happened to be wandering around Lakeshore, and saw magnetic dots–I knew those would be perfect. I found a puzzle on clearance at Target for $4.99 (it was a 48 piece and just barely fit on the magnetic cookie sheet I purchased at the dollar store so I would make sure to measure before you choose your puzzle), and got to work.

I put one magnetic dot on the back of each puzzle piece, and that was it. Like seriously folks, this could not have been any easier. I kept all the pieces in a zipper bag, and the kids were able to use the magnetic cookie sheet to keep the pieces secure and put together. This travel game was definitely a hit, and cheap and simple to boot!

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Seeking Gratitude Even When Life is Hard

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Sometimes life is hard, and in those times it seems like such a daunting task to find something to be grateful for. It’s so easy to look at all the things that are wrong instead of all the things that are right.

I’ve been really convicted of this lately. I’ve been tired, there have been a lot of things going on, and quite frankly, complaining is easy. But, there are so many blessings in my life, and I think it’s important to focus on those things. Of course I know it’s easier said than done. I might resolve myself to only think about the good things in my life, but two minutes later I’m back focused on my problems.

Recently, however, I read an article that really helped my perspective, and gave a simple, yet profound tip for counting your blessings. Imagine that everything you have, everything you are was suddenly taken away. It has all been returned to you. How thankful are you for those things you had once taken for granted?

God’s unending love…

My family…their laughter…their health…

My dishwasher and washing machine…

My hands that get things done and feet that take me where I need to go…

A reliable car…

The food in our cabinets…

Hot water…

Our refrigerator that keeps food cold…

Bookshelves full of books…

My son’s cochlear implants so he can hear my voice…

The warm blanket on my bed…

A soft couch for relaxing…

Cooking utensils…(have you seen Cutthroat Kitchen? I’m never taking a pan or spatula for granted again.)

I’m not perfect at this exercise yet; I think it takes a lot of effort to move to a mindset of gratitude, but I’m trying and am already feeling more thankful.

As a sign in my parent’s house attests: There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.