31 December 2013

My Favorite Daughter...Now 6

Who Said You Could Grow Up?

Once again, our Star Girl is having a birthday.  Last year we were able to take her to NYC to the American Girl Doll Store for the first time, to buy a new doll and have tea together.  This year we were able to see Annie on Broadway and have a fun Girl Day with Grandma Judy and Aunt Laurie.

Julia is our favorite daughter.  Well, she's our only daughter, of course, but let me tell you why she's our favorite.  I wouldn't trade her for all the world.  She is my right hand at home.  I can barely take a shower without her babysitting help of the boys.  She helps me pack the car when we have trips.  She makes sure everyone has their coat on, and you can always count on her to ask, "How can I help you?"

She is one of those people who have so much energy they make you dizzy.  She has an endless stream of questions.  Most of them deeper than any 5 year old would even think of, and usually about spiritual matters.  God has really blessed her in so many ways with her witty sense of humor, her nurturing abilities, her leadership skills, and her memory!  She memorized the New Testament books this year for Awana Clubs in TWO DAYS!  Honestly, I could brag about her all day, but my absolute favorite quality that Julia has is her tender heart, and her kindness.

When she was 3 1/2 on the way to Awana Clubs we were going over her Bible verses, talking about God, and about how sin makes our hearts dirty.  This was not a new topic or discussion, but as we talked more and more about it I think Julia started to see that since we all make mistakes, and since God is holy, He can't live in our hearts if we have dirty hearts...and He died on the cross so that He could clean our hearts and make us white as snow.  The next thing you know, as I pulled into a parking space Julia was asking me to pray with her to ask Jesus to live in her heart and make it clean...to which 2 year old Marky chimed in--"Me too!"

Ever since that talk, and the many ones after, I continue to see Julia seeking after the Lord, and really trying to understand the most she can about God.  It's amazing how we are all so thirsty for God, even at young ages.  And it shows you that parents can really guide their children and teach them from God's Word at very young ages.  I'm not saying Julia knows it all, or is perfect, we continue to work on self-control, and making good choices every day.  But I do see God working in her life and opening up her eyes to things that He is teaching her.

Julia has always been a great sister to Mark (Mark doesn't know what to do when she isn't around)...

I am so thankful that we have another baby in the house that she can "mother hen" again.  It is so beautiful to watch.  (Even when we tell her not to pick up Micah...I can see sometimes, she can't help herself, she is so in love with him)

Julia, my darling, you make us so incredibly proud everyday.  We love you just because you are Julia.  You bring us joy, you make us smile, you give the best hugs, (and back rubs!), you are such a great help to us, I am not sad that you are getting bigger, I am just so happy you are growing up to be such a wonderful little lady!  I get to see first hand all of the things you are learning and how God is growing you and stretching you each day.  You are wonderful, honey.  We love you so much.  You are our favorite daughter.  

Love, Mama and Daddy


30 December 2013


You Can Do It!

"Initiative prompts you to tackle the task, before you are told, before you are asked and before the last minute!"

This is a quote I live by.  I taught it to my third and fourth graders as a classroom teacher, and I have taught it to my kids.  

McInerney's do not procrastinate.  We get it done.  We do things before they are supposed to be done and before someone even has to ask us to do it.

This may be because I have that teacher mentality, or because the family I married into is all black belts, or it could be because I have a Type A personality.  Either way it's how Team Mac rolls!


27 December 2013

B-A-L-A-N-C-E in 2014

How Do I Possibly Do Everything I Need To Do?

Learning How To Balance It All In the New Year...

Part of becoming an adult is learning how to prioritize your life and hopefully become responsible.  I think of high schoolers as young adults because already they are learning how to budget and manage their time responsibly between school, sports, family life, spiritual life, and social life, and perhaps even a part time job.

I absolutely loved becoming an adult, going to college, working, doing my course work, and really starting to look for a career I would love and be able to be passionate about.  The one thing I lacked in college was really having a solid foundation in the Lord.  I'm super thankful for mentors like Pam Zollner and Christy Weaver who prayed for me and were available to me to give me godly counsel when I disregarded my parents.

I think God really blessed John and I as a couple because first and foremost we put Him at the top of our list in every decision we made.  I am so thankful to our Pastor at the time, Pastor Joe, who counseled us monthly before we got married and helped us to think out and plan out the family we wanted to become.  Life was never easy...but it sure was blissful in the beginning just being the two of us those first 4 years of marriage before kids.  We call that time BC.  Before Children.  Our priorities always started with God first and then each other.  It was much easier balancing God, home, work, ministry and family.  I guess it was easy because our family was just the two of us.

I never knew how hard balancing everything would become after one child...let alone 3!  There is just so much to consider and plan, and think about.  And to top it all off...I am responsible not only for my decisions and my future...but the lives of 3 human beings!  It goes beyond so much more than just keeping your baby alive the first few months!

One thing that a lot of my friends and readers ask me is...Kristi, how do you do it all?  To which I humanly answer: I HAVE NO IDEA!  It is only Jesus!  Sometimes, my prayer for the day is simply this..."Lord help me to feed everyone, and keep everyone safe today, because I don't think I can do much else!"  Have you ever had those survival feeling kind of days where you just have so much on your plate, or so many great expectations for your day, and it's only 7 a.m. and 10 things have already gone wrong?

This year...in 2014 I will have a 6 year old, a 5 year old and a 1 year old!  And we will be 11 years married!  If that is not a great accomplishment in and of itself I don't know what is?  And not only do I love the man I married 11 years ago...I really, really, like him.  Those people who say that marriage only gets better with time, are very right!  You fall deeper and deeper in love and grace and you can laugh at yourself so much more, thank goodness, for laughter.

My prayer for this year is to continue to put God first, pray without ceasing, listen to godly counsel, speak the truth in love, be authentic, share God's grace and love with others, teach my children to love to learn and be the woman God has called me to be, and most of all be a faithful servant.  All that for me is going to push me into the best balance for 2014.  

I could make a longer list and say I am going to exercise more, read more books, take more naps, plan my meals more efficiently, serve more at church, volunteer in my community...etc, etc, but I really am starting to realize that if I faithful put God first and pray and ask Him to show me what He wants for me...then those things will just come naturally instead of forced.  And hopefully if God is urging me to do those things then I will really stick with them and not give them up after a week or two.

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'--Matthew 25:23


26 December 2013

The Day After...

Decluttering after Christmas

We have a rule in our home.  Whatever new that comes in replaces something old that must go out.  

So today, I will help the kids go through their drawers, and closets and we will spend the day organizing their new clothes and toys, at the same time getting rid of ones that we can donate to Goodwill or throw out.

Mark's Room

Mark got a lot of Super hero costumes and new clothes so we definitely need to make more room in his closet.  I've noticed that Mark only wears a few of his shirts (because he wears his favorites over and over and over) so I want to make his clothes more accessible to him somehow.  Also, we store all of Micah's clothes in Mark's room and so I need to organize Micah's clothes as well.

Julia's Room

Julia got another American girl doll and a barbie head to practice hair styles.  I want to help her display all her dolls neatly!  My little string bean is growing like a weed.  We have lots of new clothes to replace the ones that just don't fit her tall body anymore!  She also got some great new books so I want to help her get rid of some baby books (maybe pass down to one of her twin cousins).

Our Room

John and I got lots of new clothes, new linens for the bathroom, and I really need to re-organize my closet!  Now that all the Christmas gifts are gone that I was hiding in our closets I can really do a deep clean in my room...finally!

Today will be an organizing type of day with lots of down time for the kids to play with their new toys...I'm still wondering why I bough Mark a microphone and Julia a guitar...my quest for quiet will not be had today!!!

Happy Decluttering!


25 December 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

Merry Christmas, From Our Family To Yours!!!

Luke 2: 1-19

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.


24 December 2013

Learning To Trust This Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve...

We are all getting excited over here to be together as a family.  The kids can't wait for Christmas morning to open their presents and see all their fun prizes.  Julia and Mark both told me one on one, "Mom, I know Christmas isn't all about the presents...it's all about Jesus...but the presents sure are fun!"  I love their honesty.  I am looking forward to just watching it all through their eyes...okay and maybe I am a little excited about the presents too.

On Christmas Eve it is our tradition to go to church as a family.  This will be our first Christmas Eve as a family of five!  I really can't put into words how much that means to me.  Mark and Julia were getting so big so fast and I wanted another baby so badly.  I had to wait until God's timing was perfect and it was hard to wait.  Especially since I was ready when Mark was about 6 months old!  Funny, huh?  Well, Micah is 9 months old on Christmas Day and I can tell you as plain as day, I AM NOT READY TO HAVE ANY MORE BABIES!  I am very content right now with this brood of mine.  But I can tell you I am super excited for the New Year and the Twin babies my sister in law is having.  Me and the big kids keep calling them "our babies".  Mark asks me regularly, "Mom, when will our babies be here so we can play with them?"  We are so excited to have cousins!  A boy and a girl!  How perfect is that?!

As I prepare my own heart for the next few days (focusing not only on myself and the gifts) I keep thinking of how trusting Mary was when the angel told her she was going to have a baby...the Messiah.  Here she was a very young woman (marrying age was usually 12-14 at that time) betrothed to Joseph and being told she was chosen to carry God's Son.  She must've known the dirty looks she might get, the ridicule, the misunderstanding people would have.  She must've known that this was going to be a huge undertaking to become a mom in less than a year.  She must've known how amazing it was that she was chosen to be Jesus Mother.

Here is the exchange between Mary and the angel in Luke 1:

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be calledb the Son of God.36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37For no word from God will ever fail.”
38“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

How was Mary able to just trust the Lord and say, "I am the Lord's servant, may your word to me be fulfilled."  She didn't put up a fight.  She didn't say, "Find another woman!"  She didn't run away in fear.  She just recognized that God was God, He picked her, He would be with her, and that was that.

It got me to thinking...in what ways is God giving me a higher calling or task?  What is my purpose?  What has He asked of me?  Do I answer Him in reverence and worship and say, "I am the Lord's servant."?  Do I trust God enough to be bigger than my problems and situations?  Can I put my troubles, worries, anxieties safely in His hands and leave them there?

If a 12 year old girl was able to do it, I think God has equipped me and challenged me, and stretched me enough to know that I can trust Him.  He has my back.  He loves me.  He watches over me.  He sees the bigger picture.  And He promises to never leave me alone.

This Christmas Eve I want to learn to trust God with my life the way young Mary did.  I want to be able to just say I, Kristi, am your servant, Lord.  May your word to me be fulfilled.  Whatever you have planned for my life I am going to trust that your ways are better than my ways.  I am going to trust that your plans for me are for good.  I am going to trust that you have a future waiting for me.  

Who's with me?

23 December 2013

Oh, For The Love of Meal Planning

Meal Planning 101

I truly love knowing in advance what to cook for dinner each night.  I like having all the ingredients in my pantry and fridge.  I like when everything is pre-chopped and right at my fingertips.  And of course I love cooking meals that are healthy and delicious for my family...BUT why is meal planning SO stinkin' hard? Right?  I mean you have to cut coupons to get the groceries, you have to write your list, you have to go grocery shopping, then you have to plan your meals.  I would love my own private chef and my own private assistant who goes food shopping once a week for me...hey while we are at it, can I have someone cut my coupons too?

December is almost over...and I am planning ahead now for my delicious and healthy meals for the month of January.  I felt January would be a great time to start anew.  In 2014 I really want to get my act together so that I can have even more time with my family and spend less time in the kitchen!

First Things First: What You Will Need

*Printing Out A Monthly Calendar
*Grab a few magazines with good recipes
*Get your favorite pen
*Grab a cup of coffee
*Get a pad for grocery list writing

Starting Anew

After I print out the month I am starting with (January) I block out the weeks by color and days of the week. We are very flexible on the weekend because Daddy cooks or we go out to eat, or we visit family so I really don't plan weekend meals unless a holiday or birthday falls on a Saturday or Sunday.

I choose the days that I have extra time to chop and cook for longer taking meals (Mondays, Wed., Fridays)  I choose super quick meals, or crock pot dinners for the nights or days that I know I need a short amount of time in the kitchen for prep. (Tues//Thurs).

Magazine or Pinterest Time

Then I gather some great recipes from my recipe box, magazines I love (Real Simple, Rachel Ray, Family Circle) or pinterest.  The internet or pinterest is a great source of ideas.  Especially if you want healthy meals. I have a healthy meal board that you can check out, a crock pot board, and yummy dinners.  Click on one or all three.

List Making Time

Then, after getting inspired, because let's face it, sometimes we need inspiration...you can start filling in your meals.  I am only going to do 1-2 weeks at a time.  I used to do monthly meal planning and I decided to bite off only what I can chew right now!

Here is my January calendar.

Planning the first week of January is easy because it's only 3 days! 

Wednesday: Tortellini Salad
Thursday: Grilled chicken and veggies

After you plan your meals you can make a list for the ingredients you need that are not in your fridge!  And do something new...try to make meals with items only in your pantry for a full week to use up lots of things before buying more!  It's a great way to save money, get creative, and clean out the pantry!

Happy Meal Planning!  When you plan ahead you leave extra time to spend with the people you love!


20 December 2013

Christmas Gifts That CAN'T Be Wrapped

You Won't Find These Things Under The Christmas Tree, But They Make Life So Much Sweeter...

*Family Time
*Baking with little ones
*Talking on the phone with your best friend for hours
*Girl time
*Rocking your little one to sleep
*Hearing the words, "Mommy, you look beautiful!"
*A clean house
*Singing in the car
*The first cup of hot coffee
*S'mores by the Fireplace
*Hug and Kiss from your spouse
*Date Night
*Christmas Music
*Holding a loved ones hand
*Gazing at the night sky
*Empty hamper (one can dream)
*Empty dishwasher (sorry)
*Bubble Bath
*Hot cup of tea
*Happy Family Memories
*Butterfly Kisses


19 December 2013

The Case For Homeschool Part 2

Time With Your Family

I taught in the classroom for 7 years after college and graduate school.  I was an Elementary Education major and minored in theater/dance.  In graduate school I was also an Education major.  And I loved every minute of those years of learning, growing, and teaching.  John and I felt so blessed that we both loved our careers.  He owned his own Taekowndo school in OB at the time and I taught at a private christian school.

I tell a lot of people this and they don't believe me, but when John and I first got married in 2003 (I was 25), I was not interested in having children at all.  I loved being a teacher and I felt my students were my children. I poured everything into my students and my class.  Just ask them!  I woke up at 6 am to leave by 6:45 so I could be at work by 7:15...we didn't have to clock in until 7:50...but I loved getting to school early, cleaning my students desks, writing on the white board/chalk board, getting our lessons ready for the day.  I was so excited to go to work every day!  I honestly would have done it for free!  I loved my job.

And my favorite part was greeting my students at the door.  I felt it was so important to say, "Good Morning!" and watch them drop off their back packs at their lockers.  I tried to always be cheery and enthusiastic and I would always crack jokes and tell my class how much coffee I drank and how excited I was to start school that day!  My class was my family.  I enjoyed spending all my time with them.  John and I had opposite schedules.  I left early in the morning, and he didn't leave until 3:00 just as I was leaving TCS.  He didn't get home until 9 pm most nights.  It was hard at first to come home and be alone, but I started to stay late at school, get grading done, plan the next week's lessons, and find ways to make our class time better.  I tried to make the most of every minute I had.

It wasn't until I turned 28 that the baby bug bit me!  And even before we started trying to get pregnant John and I always talked about how I would stop teaching and be a stay at home mom.  When Julia was born on Dec 31,  2007, (I stopped teaching 10 days before) I became a full time stay at home mom.  My time was now dedicated to raising this baby girl.  And once you become a parent you WANT to spend time with your family.  And you want that time to be valuable in quantity and quality.  

Quality time is my love language.  Growing up my parents worked round the clock.  I was dropped off at daycare, before care, took the bus to school, then aftercare.  Dinner time consisted of me and my sister at the table alone.  I looked forward to the weekends because at least then we were all together, but at the same time I dreaded the weekend because Saturday was chore day.  Because of the way that I grew up I knew it was important for me to make a new model for how I wanted our family time to run.  I know my parents were only trying to do what was best for their family.  They needed two incomes to make ends meet and so do many families today.  I feel really blessed and I try not to take it for granted that God has blessed John's two jobs, first the Taekwondo school, and then his financial planner job in the city that it allows me the freedom to stay at home.  I know not all moms can do this, and I consider it a privilege.  I am trying not to squander this time I have to build into my children and our family.

John and I started early with planning family time.  Even before kids came we told our families that Sundays in particular were sacred family day.  This way when the baby came there was no surprises.  That time was so important for us as a couple, especially since working two jobs didn't allow us a lot of time during the week.  Once Julia came we were able to spend such quality time with her and it was wonderful.  Homeschooling just came about naturally as we did "school" type activities with her at a young age.

What is so great about spending time with your kids all day?

For the past few weeks I have interviewed 5 women who have home-schooled or are currently homeschooling, or who have been home-schooled.  Each women was asked different questions depending on her situation.  I felt like their answers really solidified why I am homeschooling and would like to continue to while Micah is still young.  I have always felt gifted and called into the classroom, if God provides an opportunity for me to go back to teaching I would love to go back and of course bring my children to the same school I teach at, Lord willing.

Debi H.-(middle age wife/mom to 2 grown kids) home-schooled her son Eric since he was in second grade and he's now in his early twenties, and her daughter since 6th grade and she is now in her upper twenties.  Here is a benefit of home-school that Debi found, "A big benefit was no rush after school to come home and get homework done before after school activities and trying to get dinner on the table....less stress for me which translates to less stress for the kids and hubby."  "We did do homework four days a week.  I told them each day to do one lesson from the next day for one subject.  They did it during school hours, not after.  By Friday they had 4 less subjects to do and were done with school very quickly and pretty much had a free day!"  I loved doing it!  I felt like I got really close to my kids.  They were my buddies.  Going on errands and such with me.  We had so much opportunity to be together, especially in the car!"

What other benefits have you seen from homeschooling your kids?

Dorothy H. (middle age wife/mom to 5 kids...2 finished college, 1 in college, and 2 still in home-school) 

"Academically, they have been able to proceed at their own pace, whether that be taking extra time when needed or moving quickly through the material.  It enabled my children to learn how to interact with wide age range of people, not just people the same age as them.  It definitely brought our family closer together.  Although the reason we home-schooled was not for social reasons, we did reap the benefit of not having constant peer pressure, bullying, and exposure to foul language and mature topics that can sometimes happen in a school setting.  Three of my children have gone to college straight from being homeschooled and it did not affect their ability to attend the college of their choice, their ability to work in a classroom setting or to adjust to dorm life.  All of my children have strong friendships and active social lives."

Lindy I. (30 something year old, wife/mom newbie home-schooler to 3 children 6 and under) "My number 1 perk is flexibility!  We can travel when most schools are in session and at really discounted rates!  The kids and I visited the aquarium last week and practically had the place to ourselves!  We're able to do sports during school hours and reserve our evenings for family time.  Unless my husband Tom, is traveling on business, we're all gathered around the dinner table together each night.  I also love that we can skip ahead once Lucas has mastered a topic or slow down if more time is needed.  Plus, we're able to observe "heart" issues first hand and spend as long as needed to resolve them."

There you have it.  These moms, and myself included have seen the beauty of home-school unfold right before my very eyes when I see how close I am becoming with my children, I know how much one on one attention they are getting.  Not having to feel rushed or stressed at dinner time to get home work done before an extracurricular activity.  Quality time and flexibility and closeness.  I also loved how Dorothy mentioned that 3 of her children went to college right after being homeschooled and did totally fine in the college setting and dorm life.  So many people ask me am I worried about my children's social life?  I don't think they realize how social us homeschool moms are!  Every family is so unique and different.  Actually we may have even more time to do social outings because we don't have the restrictions of a 7-8 hour school day.

Next week: I will share my interview findings on two women who grew up being home-schooled and are now homeschooling and looking to homeschooling their little ones!

18 December 2013

Does Victoria's Secret Make Flannel Pajamas?

Am I Messing Up My Kids? 

Wednesday Book Club...book by Lysa Terkeurst

This book up until now has been all about how moms deal with raising their kids and feeling like how can we possibly do this huge task?  But this chapter was all about how too often as moms and homemakers we forget how we even became moms!  We forget the very first relationship that brought about this wonderful thing we call family.  Let's face it, sometimes we forget our husbands.

Oh, trust me, I remember my husband on garbage night, and when it comes time to paying bills, and fixing up our home, and planning our next vacation, but too often that love relationship can be put on the back burner while life goes on.  Especially after you just had a baby!  Seriously, all I want to do after I have a baby is sleep, and cuddle that baby, and drink a gallon of water, and please some more sleep!  I am not thinking about anything but flannel pjs, soft slippers, and a warm bed to sink into.

I love that this chapter reminded us that our husbands are SO valuable.  We should cherish them.  We should love them.  We should speak kindly to them.  We should give them the benefit of the doubt.  We should offer them grace upon grace.  And I fail completely at all of those.  I am a good wife as wives go.  I make dinner, clean the house, take care of the kids, provide clean clothes, educate our children, etc.  But, when I look at 1 Corinthians 13 on love...and I compare my marriage to the way I am supposed to fully love my husband...I FAIL.  Obviously.  I am not perfect.

"The greatest gifts parents can offer our children is the security of a solid love relationship between Mom and Dad."--Lysa T.  

I remember laying in my bed as a little girl hearing my parents bicker back and forth for hours on end in the evening and I would pray they would stop fighting.  I hated hearing them fight and be so angry at each other.  I knew my parents loved each other but I couldn't understand why they were so mean to each other.  It was so scary as a child to hear them fighting.  John and I vowed before we got married never to fight in front of the children.  We have tried to keep that promise of dealing with our disagreements behind closed doors in quiet voices.  Hearing adults scream and yell and say mean things to each other is frightening for little people.  I used to always think I'd wake up and my parents would be divorced.  I was so fearful of that.  Thankfully that was never the case.

Don't get me wrong, John is completely perfect.  Most annoyingly so.  (okay, he may leave a sock or two on the floor, but who's counting?) But so often in a marriage we can keep score and think about what our rights are, what we deserve, and get angry and bitter about stupid things.  Sometimes I long for date night every Friday.  We had a date last Friday and it was wonderful to just be childless for a few hours, turn off our phones, refuse to talk about the kids, and just hold hands and be Kristi and John and not Mom and Dad.
I think date nights should be required in a marriage at least twice a month!  They are so refreshing.  Do you make a point to get away and just be man and wife?  Do you have time built into your schedules to pray together?  Discuss family things together?  Do you check in with each other and see what the other needs most that week?  Something that John does that I really appreciate is he sometimes comes home and asks, "How can I be most helpful tonight?"  And every night is different, sometimes I just want to go to the gym, other nights I need computer time, sometimes I just need him to hold Micah while I do school with Julia or Mark.  But it is most helpful when he asks because sometimes I get so wrapped up in the moment I forget to stop and breathe and ask for help!

                            1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it is not rude it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

Lysa says, "This is not a passive, descriptive kind of love you inherit on your wedding day.  This is an active love."

Here is an assessment of your love...I challenge you (I took the test too) to see what your strengths and weaknesses are.  It helped me to see where I need to be better and where I fall short.

Lysa T. came up with this test and I love how she explained in details ways we can be better wives/husbands!

1. Am I patient with my spouse? (I am flexible and understanding)
2. Am I kind to my spouse? (I am kind in thoughts word and actions)
3. Am I supportive (not envious) with my spouse? (I do not keep score when I feel I do more)
4. Am I encouraging (not boastful) to my spouse? (I do not brag about my accomplishments)
5. Am I humble with my spouse? (I do not think my agenda is more important than my spouse's)
6. Am I gracious (not rude) with my spouse? (I build up my spouse in word in public and in private)
7. Am I selfless (not self-seeking) with my spouse? (I focus on my spouse's needs)
8. Am I self-controlled (not easily angered) with my spouse? (I do not have a quick temper)
9. Am I able to forgive and let go (keeping no record of wrong)? (Do not repeat the past or shortcomings)
10. Do I delight in being faithful to God? (not delightful to do evil)
11. Do I rejoice with the truth? (I actively pursue God's truth over Satan's lies)
12. Do I seek to protect my spouse? (I fill in the gaps where my spouse feels weak and vulnerable)
13. Do I trust my spouse? (I give my spouse the benefit of the doubt)
14. Do I keep hope alive in my marriage? (I trust God with our future)
15. Do I persevere in my marriage? (I look for solutions to our problems rather than a way out)
16. Am I committed to the permanence of our marriage? (I believe that divorce is NOT an option for us)

Really Blessed

This chapter made me realize how valuable my spouse is and how much my role as his wife can be used to be a blessing to him.  I want to fill in the gaps.  I want to be forgiving and loving.  I don't want to keep a record of wrongs.  I want to have more self control.  I want to be not just a good wife...I want to be the best wife God has for John. Taking the test also showed me what a great husband John is to me...he is such a gem.  I am really one blessed lady.  Someone once told John, "You really married well, John." Well, I feel that I really married well because John is a KEEPER!

Lysa started out this chapter talking about how when she found a gift card for Victoria's secret her first response was to buy some comfy flannel pjs, and by the end of the chapter she was thinking about getting quite a different outfit...one that just might bless her wonderful spouse a tiny bit more! (hee hee)


17 December 2013

Every Mom Has A Story: Michele Conte

Michele and husband Ronnie

Every Mom Has A Story: Michele Conte

I met Michele through my husband John.  Michele put her two boys into taekwondo when John had just opened up his first Old Bridge Taekwondo school.

After a short while Michele was looking to adopt a baby girl from China.  John had a school wide board breaking event to raise money for Michele's family to bring baby Noel from China to their home!  Ever since then Michele has seriously been my hero.  Not only does she homeschool, she loves the Lord, and she has 5 awesome kids, and 3 of which are adopted from all parts of the world!  She and Ronny are just the coolest people (besides being extremely down to earth and hysterically funny).

I asked Michele if I could interview her for my blog and she told me of course, but that she probably would never read my blog because blogs make her crazy and she is just too busy to read what somebody else is doing when she has 5 kids of her own and a house to run (I love her honesty).  Hopefully she will at least read this post so she can see how much John and I love her and think the world of her.  She is constantly encouraging me to homeschool (and you need a lot of encouragement in the beginning because it is so challenging) and she is constantly giving me advice (when I ask of course) on how to be a better wife and mom.  And we like to watch silly movies together and just be girls sometimes too!

Here is Michele's story...

1. When you first found out you were pregnant how did you react?

When I first found out I was pregnant I was stunned.  We had been trying for a while and then to all of a sudden be pregnant seemed unreal.

2. How did you feel when you brought your newborn home?

I was actually afraid to leave the hospital because I was overwhelmed.  We struggled with breastfeeding so that part was overwhelming.  We ended up taking him (Christian who is now a high schooler) to the hospital on the third day home because he was not peeing or pooping.  He wasn't latching on properly.  I started pumping and stuff so the whole thing was overwhelming.  The first few weeks were very hard.

3. Did you work outside of the home?  How did you manage family time?

I didn't work inside or outside of the home until 4 years ago.  All the kids were homeschooled at the time so I felt like it was easier to manage time together. I would always work when Ronnie was home and only work outside of the home 4-5 nights a month.  I never really got how to manage getting work done in the house though.  I still have a hard time managing it all and now that they are older and some in school I am limited.  My work nights out to only 2 per month.

4. What is the best family tradition you have that you are not willing to give up?

Our best family tradition is the Christmas store.  I go out and buy a bunch of presents for all the kids.  Then I set it all up in my room and one by one, they come in and shop  for their siblings.  (I LOVE THIS IDEA MICHELE...when my kids get bigger I am going to try this!)  I put price tags on everything and from Thanksgiving to that time, they earn play money for things like making each other's bed, cleaning up things they don't have to, you know, doing things that are not a part of their chores.  My kids love the Christmas store and look forward to it every year.  I will never stop that tradition because we all love it and it's easier than taking them out and shopping for each other.

5. Who do you look up to as a great mom?  Who inspires you to be better?

My friend Kathy Haring, who went to be with the Lord 2 years ago, inspires me to be a good mom because her children are so wonderful.  They possess amazing character, love the Lord, intelligent, wonderful, fun-loving ladies.  My dysfunctional past also inspires me to try and be a better mom. :)

6. What do you love about being a stay at home mom?  What is the most difficult part of being a SAHM?

I love that I have been able to be a part of every milestone, and every fun moment while being home.  I know each of my children and their personalities types and individual needs very well because I have been able to be with them all the time.  Which leads into what is most difficult when you are a SAHM.  The good definitely outweighs the bad but getting time away a night each week is for sure a necessity.  My husband has always been very good about giving me that time,  as well as taking over when he gets home.  He was always the bath dad, and always cleans up after dinner.  Whatever he can do to lighten my load since the days are filled with so much.  (Go Ronnie!!!)

7. What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind to your children?

I'd like to be remembered as a fun loving mom who loved The Lord so very much and did all she could to point her kids to the unfailing love of Jesus, since I fail though too often.  (I think you are a wonderful mommy!)

8. Any advice for new mommies?

The best piece of advice I can give to any mom, is to walk in the never ending grace and mercy of Jesus, lighten up, and enjoy your kids because it goes really fast!  Also never correct your husband on how he changes a diaper, or gives a bath or complain about how he dressed them because he will stop doing it and him doing all those things with your kids is part of his building the relationship with them!

Michele, thank you so much for letting me interview you!  I think you are an amazing mom, and Christian, Jonah, Faith, Noelle, and Jonathan are super lucky to have you!!!


16 December 2013

You Can Do It!

A Positive Word

Do you ever feel weak?  Maybe you are sick, exhausted, overwhelmed, or overworked?  Maybe you feel like you can't take one more step, go one more minute, or do one more thing.  I felt like that a few days ago.  I got this cold and it literally knocked me out!  I am not one to get sick, and if I do, I do not allow myself to sit down and rest (it's not a good trait at all) I figure, I can be sick when I'm older, right now I have too many people depending on me, and I just plow through and go, go, go....

Well, God gave me the type of cold that was like, "Hi, I will not let you go, go, go...I will wipe you out, lady!"  This cold made me lay down in bed, it made me sit and sip tea, it made me drink chicken soup (after I chopped all the veggies and put them in the crock pot of course).

Do you ever get the feeling that sometimes we are set still, for a reason?  Me too.  I know God does it to me every once in awhile to humble me.  I have this feeling that I can do it all, and nothing will stop me, not even a cold, or a bad day, or a sick child.  I keep plowing through, and sometimes God just wants me to SIT. STILL.  And let me tell you...I. Do. Not. Like. It.

There is a verse that says in Psalm 46:10...

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;    I will be exalted among the nations,    I will be exalted in the earth.”

Sometimes I don't want to be still because I am trying to be my own god.  I am trying do it all in my own strength.  And God humbles me and says tenderly, "Kristi, be still and know that I AM God."

I'm thankful for these times.  Because I know He loves me enough to slow me down, and to show me that He indeed is in charge.  And then it reminds me to give Him all the glory for all the things He has given me and allows me to do, instead of boasting or giving myself and credit.  

When I feel weak, and overwhelmed and discouraged another verse I cling to is Isaiah 40: 31...

but those who hope in the Lord    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;    they will run and not grow weary,    they will walk and not be faint.
This verse reminds me that God is my hope!  God is my strength!  And God will renew my strength.  I just need to keep clinging to Him, and relying on Him.

Today, my hope for you is that you get a chance to BE STILL and know that HE is God, and that you also put your HOPE in Him, so He can renew your STRENGTH and get you through whatever you need to get through!

Just like a Daddy loves putting his child on his shoulders, God loves being our hero, and giving us rest, hope, and strength, when we trust Him.


13 December 2013

Those Crazy Baby Hormones

After Julia Was Born...

The weeks after Julia was born, I was sore from an all natural delivery, hated breastfeeding because it hurt so bad, tired because my adrenaline was so high I couldn't sleep, and so completely overwhelmed with a newborn that at times I wondered...what was I thinking having a baby?!

And Julia never ever cried, she was happy and content and such a good sleeper.  It was just me.  I was so completely new at the mommy thing and every little detail had me reeling.

I have to share this crazy hormone story because looking back now it is hysterically funny, but of course while it was happening it was NOT!
It was about a month or so after Julia's birth, and I was finally ready to bring her to church.  I wanted her to have the perfect outfit, the perfect shoes, her hair all in place as she met friends at church for the first time.  John wanted to have a specific fish dinner that night (we were having guests over for dinner).  So he decided it would be a great idea to go to the fish market on Sunday morning on route 18 before we went to church.  Now, all of you know, life before kids is a piece of cake, you do what you want when you want to.

But now Julia was here, and she had her schedule, and I had to get dressed, get her dressed, feed her, and pack the diaper bag.  Well, John came home late.  Which meant we would be late to church.  Which meant the perfect church outing was turning out to be NOT so PERFECT.  Ummmm, did I mention I was a perfectionist?  Did I mention I HATE to be late?  Did I mention that I hate when things don't work out as I planned?  Did I mention my hormones WERE COMPLETELY crazy at this time?

Well, John pulls up in the driveway, with a big smile, because he got the fish he wanted.  I proceeded to take the car keys out of his hands and throw them, YES YOU HEARD ME, throw them across the street to our neighbors yard...OH MY WORD...I WAS LIVID.

YOU Made us late!  The baby and I have been waiting.  NOW we will be late to church and I don't even want to go to church.  (I always want to go to church).  Then I proceeded to slam the front door, people??!! Oh, my heavens I was a crazy lunatic lady.

John told me to sit down and calm down.  I proceeded to cry my eyes out for about 10 minutes.  And there you have it people.  I hat a 29 year old tantrum.  And who was to blame?

The crazy baby hormones.  (and my lack of experience, self control, and need to be perfect).

We ended up not going to church, but we did have a great story to tell our friends that night.  And we laughed, and laughed and laughed.

My advice now to new moms is to just enjoy those moments at home with your baby.  Don't stress about being perfect.  Don't worry if it doesn't all make sense just yet.  You will find your mommy rhythm and it will all make sense eventually.  And by week 6 you will be a mommy pro!  I promise!

Take it from me...three kids later, I love breastfeeding, and would have another baby in a heartbeat!  All the purposeful pain is totally worth it!


12 December 2013


The Case For Homeschool: Just A Normal Family

Just A Normal Family

We have been "homeschooling" since Julia was 6 months.  By that I mean, we have taken it upon ourselves as parents to school our children in letters, numbers, sounds, reading, holidays, weather, you name it we try to expose our children to a number of different things since they were little.  I can remember being up in the middle of the night doing late night feedings with Julia and watching the Your Baby Can Read commercials...I thought it was awesome how this particular dad wanted to teach his children how to read by memorizing sight words.  I was hooked, and ordered the complete set for my 4 month old...we waited a few months, but soon we were watching the videos and practicing the songs, and finger plays, and reading the words with her.  Wouldn't you know it?  By the time she was 7 or 8 months she was already saying words.  She has been by far our early chatter box.  We also taught her how to baby sign, and from there it just spiraled.

You know how it is when you only have one kid and a lot of energy.  You just start pouring into your child and introducing new things to them.  The funny thing is I never called it homeschool.  I was just a normal mommy teaching my baby how to speak.  Then Mark came along and he just fit right along into our teaching time.  We taught him baby sign when he was a few months old and so I had a two year old and a 6 month old signing please, thank you, more, milk, and eat!  Julia was my biggest helper when it came to teaching Mark how to communicate.  

I never ever thought of it as homeschooling my kids.  I was just doing what all of us parents do.  We say the same words over and over to our kids, we teach them good manners, we teach them respect, we give them chores and responsibility and we tell them "no" when they are not supposed to do something.  Right?  Doesn't everybody do that?

Then when Julia was 2 1/2 we started a different reading curriculum.  I felt that Your Baby can read was great, but it wasn't teaching my daughter how to sound out words, and to teach someone how to read you need phonetic spelling and they need to know the basics of what sound each letter makes.  I used How to Teach Your Child How to Read in 100 easy lessons.  At that point I knew...hey, not everybody buys reading curriculum for their 2 year old.  At that point I started reaching out to other moms at church, and that I knew who homeschooled for some advice.  I asked them, "Am I crazy?"  "Is this hard?"  "What curriculum did you use?"  "What worked for your kids?"  I was then told about a huge homeschool connection group at Calvary Chapel Old Bridge and joined their online group to stay connected with other families who did field trips together, and coops together.  I knew if I was going to do this seriously I needed a support system.

Then, I just started going online and printing out craft ideas, lesson plans for pre-schoolers, and started buying tons of kid books to make school at home fun.  I went to my first Homeschool convention in the Spring of 2010...Mark had just turned 1 and Julia was now 3.  I started getting really excited for what God had for us as a family.  I figured, hey I taught in the classroom for 7 years, I got my Masters Degree in Education, how hard can it be to teach 2 kids how to read and write and some Math facts?  I was used to a classroom of 25...2 kids would be a piece of cake, right?

Ummmm, no!  It was so fun at first.  I loved it!  Teaching pre-K is a blast.  Everything is all about teaching them to love learning.  You are introducing farm life, family life, library outings, growing lima bean seeds, reading about Flat Stanley, doing crafts, picking apples, baking, cooking, anything to stimulate learning in their brains, and all the while making it fun...I loved teaching, I am a teacher by trade, this would be easy...

Let's just say, teaching your own children is WAY different than a classroom of students.  It's harder.  I'm Mommy first.  Then I am their teacher.  We are just a normal family that wants to school our children at home because A. We feel God has called us to do it B. I feel very capable C. I am a stay at home mom who enjoys having my kids at home.  But homeschooling is not all fun and games.  It can be very hard at times.  And yet, I wouldn't trade it in for all the world right now.  I am truly loving it!  Kindergarten was hard because it is laying down the foundation and I really struggled with teaching Julia how to read (I needed to give her grace since she was only 4 and I know my expectations were too high).  Thankfully both my big kids love school time still and do not give me a hard time at all. 

For the next few weeks I am going to be interviewing some other moms I know who were homeschooled, who homeschool and I am going to ask them...Why do you do it?  What is the hardest thing about it?  What are the benefits? etc.

There is a lot of judgment out there on us moms who homeschool.  Let's face it.  It's very unique.  It takes a different kind of mom to do it, but it doesn't make us crazy!  People in the summer are constantly asking my kids, "Are you excited to start school and go on the yellow bus?"  And they say, "We are homeschooled!"  And then the adults look at me as if I have 6 heads and bulging eye balls.  I'm sure they are thinking, "Why in the world would you want your kids home all day if you can send them to school?" And my answer is, "Why wouldn't I want my kids home all day?" 

So, hopefully over the next few weeks I will make a strong case for homeschool. Hopefully you will see that moms who homeschool do not deprive their kids of social events/outlets or a good education...on the contrary!  We are normal families like you who want what is best for our kids too.  It just may be different. And different isn't bad.

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