30 November 2013

Tweaking, Growing, Learning: Home-school Front


Home School Front

Home School has been a challenge this year.  It has nothing to do with Julia and Mark.  Julia and Mark have been really awesome.  It is just me learning how to manage having a mobile baby around and schooling the big kids all at the same time.  And for some reason, Micah does not fit in a "box" like my other two did who followed neat schedules and napped when they were supposed to.  It's not Micah's fault either.  He's an amazing baby, but he is just his own little person, with his own little needs, and he just does not need the same amount of sleep the other two did.  He also is bigger, faster, more verbal, and so mobile.  Frankly, he's a genius at 8 months and mommy is mystified how to meet EVERYONE's needs.

This is life in the classroom.  As a teacher you are given 15-25 students each year, give or take a few, and it's like, "Here you go!  Good luck!  I hope they learn something!"  Each year is a challenge to meet the many needs of all those students, follow curriculum, go on field trips, plan special activities, pictures, field day, plays, concerts, fire drills.  You just have to roll with the punches, teach whom you are given, and pray they learn something!

My problem as a teacher, as a person, has always been that I have very high expectations.  When my expectations are not met, I do not like that one bit.  I think this is something that God has been teaching me for many years.  I'm so thankful He has been so patient with me, and it seemed as though now that I have Micah, I am learning that my expectations are not bad, it's good to expect great things from your students, and your kids, they just need to be appropriate for each child.

Tweaking-Growing-Learning

So, now that it is December, I have learned in November that we have a great flow in the morning.  We can get a good 1-2 hours of school done easily.  We work around Micah's nap schedule.  The kids take turns playing with Micah as I teach each big kid one on one.  Micah enjoys the play time with the big kids and the big kids appreciate one on one attention.  

After Micah wakes up from his morning nap we take a break from school.  We have a snack and try to do an errand (cleaners, bank, library, grocery store, post office) it is good for us to get out of the house.  Then we come home eat lunch and do another hour of school before 2:00 nap time.  Yes, my big kids STILL nap!  It is a Godsend.  I am so thankful for those naps!  During the afternoon nap I am able to clean sweep the house, fold laundry, prep dinner, blog, and cuddle/play with Micah.

After nap time we do Math homework (one sheet), spelling review (orally or handwriting), and go over any Awana verses and memorize books of the Old and New Testament.  I am thankful for this loose schedule.  And I also have added a Mommy helper once a week for two hours so that Julia and I can do more reading, history, and science while Hannah watches the boys.  Julia asks me a lot of questions during school that I just cannot answer or research all the time, so on the days that Hannah comes over I can give her more attention and dig deeper with her because she is just a sponge!  And she wants to learn, and so I really want to invest this time in her.





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29 November 2013

Awesome Mom Jobs: Lindy Imranyi

Awesome Mom Jobs!

I'm starting a new series spotlighting moms and the many ways they work inside and outside of the home to make life more wonderful for their family!

This week we are visiting Lindy who recently became a Thirty-one consultant!  Check out her awesome job and how she got it and how you can be blessed by it too!



What got you interested in Thirty-One?
About a year ago, my best friend’s Organizing Utility Tote caught my eye. I thought it was super cute and just had to know where she got it. I hosted a party to earn one for free and was really impressed by the product line and how much the consultant enjoyed her job.  Once I transitioned to staying home full-time with our 3 little ones (Lucas, 6; Logan, 3; and Emily, 1), I looked for an opportunity to make a little money for fun ‘extras,’ like date nights and gymnastics classes.  After spending a few weeks talking about it with my husband and praying about this opportunity, I decided to start my own business as a Thirty-One Independent Consultant.  
How are you enjoying being a Thirty-One consultant?
Working with Thirty-One has totally exceeded my expectations! The company offers so much help in getting started and constantly assures me that I’m in business for myself, but not by myself.  The Thirty-One Consultants I’ve met are always happy to share ideas and celebrate successes. We even have an online book club!
When I got started, I handed my business over to the Lord and asked Him to mold it into whatever He wants it to be. He has opened up so many opportunities to grow my business and led me to so many fun and encouraging women.
What’s your favorite product?
We’re in our inaugural year of homeschooling and my Fold N’ File has kept us really organized as we go through our day. It holds a folder for each subject with the teacher’s guide and student work. The outside pockets are perfect for keeping flashcards and math manipulative in easy reach.  Our ‘school room’ is our kitchen counter, so space-saving solutions are always my favorite! We store our pencils, crayons, and scissors in a Little’s Carry-All, so after-school clean-up is a breeze.
What are the company’s perks?
One huge perk is getting paid to party! I love getting out of the house about one night a week to celebrate my hostess, connect with her guests, and share the values of this awesome company. Thirty-One Gifts was founded 10 years ago to celebrate, reward, and encourage modern Proverbs 31 women.  As the Bible states, these women work with eager hands, provide food for their families, set about their work vigorously, open their arms to the poor and extend their hands to the needy.  Thirty-One Gifts provides me with a natural opportunity to share Biblical truths at each party and I count that amongst the biggest perks.
In addition, Thirty-One loves to bless the work of their consultants with free products, recognition, and free vacations!  It’s so fun to open the front door and find a reward on my doorstep.


Would you recommend this job to a sahm?
Absolutely! At first, I wondered how I’d juggle family, home, and Thirty-One, but it’s been a great match for my family. Thirty-One gives me the flexibility to work around our schedule. There’s never any pressure to fill my calendar with parties – I’m able to do what works for us.
Thirty-One is a great opportunity for women interested in working from home.  You can even try it out while working your current job to see if Thirty-One is a good fit. It’s only $99 to get started and the starter kit is yours to keep no matter what you decide!
Have you been happy with the income you are generating?
Thirty-One has provided ‘breathing room’ in the budget for Christmas shopping and hobbies. It’s been so great to treat ourselves to dinner out without feeling guilty about it. The extra income has really been a blessing to my family.

Want to keep up with the latest Thirty-One news or find out how to join Lindy’s team?

Be sure to join Lindy’s Facebook Group to find out about monthly products specials and more from Thirty-One Gifts. And if you’re interested in hosting an online party or becoming a consultant with Thirty-One Gifts (link to: www.mythirtyone.com/lindybeth), you’ll definitely want to email Lindy for more details at lindybeth01@gmail.com.

Get 10% Off Any Order!

In addition, Lindy is offering Keeping Up With Kristi readers 10% off all orders!
Here’s how to order:
·         Visit Lindy’s Thirty-One Gifts website.
·         Click on ‘Place an Order’ by December 6 and select ‘Keeping Up With Kristi Giveaway Event’.
·         Submit your order and get 10% off!
Please note: Lindy will have to manually deduct the 10% off after the online event is closed. The 10% discount will appear on your confirmation email after she manually submits the orders.


Win a Thirty-One Gifts product! One winner will be randomly selected to receive an Organizing Utility Tote and a small surprise from Lindy. Just leave an encouraging comment below to enter!

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28 November 2013

Thankful For Each One...

My Family: Team Mac

John

John, I am thankful for the way you love me so selflessly. The way you go to work each day to provide for us.  I love the way you make your immediate family your priority.  I love how you text me throughout the day to check in on me to see how I am doing.  I love partnering with you and I can't imagine a day without you in it.  
I love that God has put this go-getter mentality in you and how you are always working on a project.  I love that no matter where you are I know you are thinking of us always.  I am so thankful for the man that you have allowed God to mold you into being.  I am so thankful for your faithfulness, your passion, your thinking, and your ethics.
I am so thankful God gave me You, my beloved, my best friend, my heart.

Julia

Oh my darling.  I love you for your energy and enthusiasm.  I love how you take charge of any situation and work hard to do your best.  I love how you become the mother instantly at the park caring for all the little ones, even children and babies we've just met.  I love how you include everyone and love on your baby brother Micah.  I love how you put together an outfit (even if it doesn't match).  I love how you find excitement in any new challenge and you always find the bright side of any situation.  I love how your hair falls across your forehead and twists around your finger.  I love your handwriting and the way you talk when you are sounding out words.  I am so thankful God gave me you.  I love you my daughter.  You are my FAVORITE daughter.






Mark

Oh, buddy!!! I was so happy the day you entered the world and I found out you were a BOY!  I wanted a son so badly!  And you have been the best super-hero son EVER!  You always have something funny to say, and yet you have this very deep side to you.  I love how you are tender and fair, and how you long for justice to be in the world, even when it is not.  I love how you have started wearing hats again!  I love how you always put your hands in your pockets.  I love how you answer Julia's Math questions during school time and you are usually right (smarty-pants).  I love how your best friend in Charlie, and how you tell me that you love ME the most in the world (after God of course you always tell me!)

I love that nobody else in our little family of five has red hair like you.  You are so special.  And mommy is so thankful for my boy who loves to dress nice just like his Daddy.  I love how you are always wanting us to do family things together.  I am so thankful God gave us you!

Micah

Oh my goodness!  My baby boy Micah!  I am so thankful God had it in the plan for us to have one more baby! I am so thankful that he gave you chubby cheeks, chubby hands, chubby thighs, and such a squishy belly.
I am so thankful that you are nothing we expected, but even better than we dreamed.  I am so thankful that you have been the baby who defies all normalicies of what I thought a baby could/should do.  You have rocked our world, and yet, I am so so glad.  You bring us all such joy.  You make us laugh and smile.  All we want to do is cuddle you and take pictures all day.  You are our butterball turkey.  I am so thankful God gave us you.  You are the sweetest, calmest, happiest baby!  We all love you!


Happy Thanksgiving from my Family to Yours!


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27 November 2013

Why Am I Always Complaining?

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Am I Messing Up My Kids?: Book Club Wednesday

"Be thankful.  Cultivate an "attitude of gratitude."  Thankfulness is much more dependent on attitude than circumstance.  When you feel the lack of what you don't have, thank God for what you do have!  At any time, there is more going right in the life of a committed Christian than there is going wrong.  It's just that the "wrong" makes a lot more noise than the "right."--Jim Stephens

Lysa Terkeurst begins this chapter by saying, 

"The attitude of thankfulness can so easily become overlooked.  I'm talking about the art of saying "thank you."

Could this chapter 12 have been any more timelier as far as Thanksgiving goes!  I was so amazed at the timing that God has as I read this chapter earlier this week.  

Let's face it...we as Americans are SO blessed in this country...and yet we have so much stuff that we just forget to be thankful.  Today, I was able to go to the gym again.  I normally go three to four times a week and spread out my days, but this week I was able to do back to back days.  Man it felt good.  It felt good to get out of the house.  It felt good to run for two miles on the tread mill.  It felt good to be by myself.  It felt good to be taking care of my body.  And as I was leaving I ran into my trainer and a friend, and as I wished them a "Happy Thanksgiving" and ran to my car in the rain...I thought to myself...I should have told Christopher, my trainer, how thankful I was for him this year.

For four months I got to train with him.  I lost over 15 pounds.  I gained confidence, endurance, and muscle!!! I made friends at the gym because of him.  I now have my own routine, workouts, and am constantly seeing results.  I really should have thanked him, but I felt weird.  Trust me I baked him brownies and thanked him after my sessions were up...but I should have thanked him again for all that he did for me.  Many times I think we just expect people to know how much they mean to us, or how much we appreciate them, but we forget the art of saying Thank you!!!

You better believe the next time I go to the gym this week I will find him, and thank him again!  He's always there!  He works out everyday!


Sometimes, I think it's easy to spot the negative in people instead of seeing the many positives.  Do we see the loving husband we've been blessed with, or just the man who forgot to pick up his socks and take out the trash?  Do we see the bright, energetic, sweet daughter in our home, or do we grumble about how loud, and wild she is?  Do we notice the many times our baby wakes up in the middle of the night, or do see how advanced and healthy our child is?

If you are anything like me, sometimes we get hung up on the negatives instead of choosing to be more intentional about expressing our thankfulness to our kids and spouse.  Tomorrow, I am going to thank my kids in the car ride to Bible Study for the distinct qualities I see in their lives.  I am going to purposefully text John and tell him how much I appreciate how hard he works to provide for us.  I realize I need to model what I preach.  If I want my kids to be more thankful.  Then I better start doing the same!!!

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26 November 2013

Every Mom Has a Story: Kathy McCain

Every Mom Has A Story: Kathy McCain

I met Kathy as a little girl in church.  I always remember her as a sweet, fun-loving person who always had a smile on!  I distinctly remember her parents being great godly parents to be admired.  Her mom was always nice to me.

Kathy moved away and we both grew up in different schools and places.  Thank goodness for Facebook because once we became friends online we have stayed in touch ever since.  Kathy has been married longer than I have to a wonderful man named Chuck!  They have three beautiful children, Chris is 11, Alex is 8, and Jackie, her only daughter is 4.

Kathy is very special to me because she has the gift of encouragement.  Ever since I started blogging she would comment on my writings and always give me positive feedback.  Every single book club I have done she has bought the book and followed right along with me, chapter by chapter.  She's been such a loyal friend, and such a great big encouragement.  She is such a great mom and wife and I wanted to share her with all of you!

Here is Kathy's story:

When you first found out you were going to be a mom what was your reaction?
 1. When I first found out I was pregnant, I couldn't believe it!  I was worried how we were going to get everything ready in time.  When I was 4 months pregnant, I got dehydrated and got put in the hospital.  A week later, I was driving home from my parents because my husband, Chuck was out of town on business and my whole left side went numb.  By the time I made it to my house and tried to use my key, it took several attempts.  When I got to the phone to call my parents, I was slurring.  I went back to the hospital and found out I had a blood clot on top of my head.  I had to give myself shots twice a day due to being on blood thinners.  I couldn't take pills because it hurts the baby.  I was induced and actually had a great trip to the hospital.  I was so blessed to have been given a very healthy boy!  Well worth the trouble!

When you brought your newborn home did you feel ready or overwhelmed?  Explain those first few weeks.
2.  I felt very overwhelmed when we brought our Chris home.  I had an epidural which gave me a very bad headache and could hardly sit up to nurse him.  He also lost weight in the beginning and I took it as a failure as a mom.  I know better now after having 3 kids!  It was hard getting use to very little sleep and Chuck having to go to work.

How do you juggle working inside/outside of the home and family time?
3.  I was blessed and am blessed to be a stay at home mom!  We as a family try to go on a vacation every year!  When Chuck isn't working or going to school, we try to keep the kids entertained with activities close to home.

What tradition does your family have that you are not willing to give up? 
4.  Our family tradition for Christmas is reading in the Bible about Jesus's birth before we open gifts.  Jesus is the reason for the season and I never want my kids to think it's about the gifts!!!!!

If you are a stay at home mom, what do you love the most about it?  What is the most difficult?
5.  Growing up, my mom was a stay at home mom and after school, our house was where most of the kids were.  I love that now that I am the house where all the kids are.  I love just being with my kids!  The difficult days are when my kids can't go outside due to rain.  We are an outside type of family!  Also, it's hard when we don't spend a lot of time with their Dad, my husband because he can be a kid at heart and plays with them!

Thank you Kathy for sharing with us!!!

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25 November 2013

So Incredibly Thankful


It Is Good To Give Thanks To The Lord!

One thing I am so thankful for is the fact that John's CFP test is over!!!!!!!! We won't know until December 23rd if he passed but for now it is just so great to have ALL of him when he is home from work.  No more studying, no more library time, no more index cards, no more practice tests.  Thank goodness.  In my heart I feel he has definitely passed because nobody studied harder for that test than he did, but the fact that it is over is wonderful.



This year the biggest blessing has been having a baby in the house.  Julia is practically 6 and Mark is 4, and let me tell you I was really missing the baby stage.  Well, now that we are fully in it not only do I get to enjoy having a baby, but watching Julia and Mark fawn over Micah all day long is just the sweetest thing!  And he just loves crawling after them.  He always wants to be near the big kids.  I can see it in his eyes that he is so impressed with them!  He tries to talk to them with his baby sounds, and he just laughs and smiles at whatever silly thing they do.  


I'm thankful for the people that my kids are turning out to be.  Julia is very nurturing and hard working.  Mark is super funny and eager to please.  And Micah is just a ball of energy and joy.  God has been so good to us, as always.  When I look at this picture, and when John and I are in bed at night we look at ourselves and whisper "We have three kids!" in amazement!  Seriously, who would've thought we would have three kids?!  It's just so cool!  Thank you Lord, we are so very thankful!


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23 November 2013

Moving Beyond Baby Food


No More Mushy Food, Please!

This past week was when it first happened that I was completely aware of.  Micah cried through breakfast and most of lunch time, until it clicked.  This kid (7 months old) does not want this jar food anymore!  Poor guy was trying to let me know, "Hey mom, I'm moving on!  I'm ready for bigger, chunkier, meatier stuff, lady!"

At the end of lunch time I was at my wits end...so I put 5 blueberries on his high chair table and instantly (almost as if someone pressed a mute button on him) the crying stopped and the fingers got busy.  And within a minute the blueberries were gone.  Then I cut up some banana.  At dinner time I offered the poor kid steamed peas...you would have thought I chopped up chocolate the way he ate those peas so fast. Peas, for crying out loud!!!!

Lesson learned (of course this was after I bought 12 new jars of baby food)...Micah wants big people food. Now the joy and journey begins with what he can have, what I can try to give him, and pray no allergies.  For the past few days I've tried strawberries, chicken, carrots, potatoes, protein pancakes, eggs, and so far so good!

We are moving beyond baby food people!  And next Monday Micah turns 8 months.  How and when did that happen?!?!


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22 November 2013

Every Mom Has A Story: Suzette Ladouceur

Every Mom Has A Story: Suzette 

The woman you will be hearing about today is a true iron friend of mine.  Suzette and I have known each other for a very long time because we attended the same church in Old Bridge for many years before she moved to Florida.  I grew up admiring Suzette as a young girl, and even though she was older than me (only 3 years) she never made me feel like I was beneath her.  We went to the same youth group and I can remember always thinking she was AMAZING.

Unfortunately, we lost touch after I went away to college and she moved to Florida.  I didn't hear from Suzette for about 10 years, until the unfortunate news of her moms passing happened.  Aggie at our church was putting together a memory book from all the women at SW and of course I wanted to give my condolences.  Well, within a week I heard back from Suzette with a two page letter and pictures included of her family.  It looked just like my family.  A husband, and a baby girl!  Come to find out our girls were only 2 months apart.  Come to find out she was a teacher too.  Come to find out she was now a stay at home mom!  Come to find out she was going to homeschool Addie!  Okay...the coincidences were unreal!  We started chatting online through facebook, blogs, the phone, and in the past 6 years Suzette has been (okay now I'm crying) such a blessing to me!  I really can't put it into words.  I just love her so much and I admire all that God has done in her life.  She just SHINES for Jesus and I'm just so thankful God allowed our paths to cross again. 

The best part of last Thanksgiving was flying our family down to Florida to meet Suzette's kids and husband in person.  Suzette and I hugged for what seemed like 5 minutes!!! And she got to rub my bulging belly because of course I was pregnant with Micah.  I was so happy when Brian and my husband John hit it off, and Julia and Addie (our girls) became best friends.  Doesn't God give great gifts???


Suzette is clearly one of my best friends and I honestly don't know what I would do without her!  I call her when I'm crying, need prayer, have to tell her what Julia just said or did, need a recipe, you name it, I can count on her.  You will fall in love with her too as you read her Mom Story and also please check out her blog at www.godlyrose.blogspot.com The Joy of Homemaking is a great blog for women to encourage you and point you to Christ and uplift you!

Here is Suzette's Mom Story:

1. When you first found out you were going to be a mom what was your reaction?

We had to plan for both of our children, so neither came as a surprise. I was at home alone when I found out I was pregnant with our first. As soon as I found out (pregnancy test) I wanted to call everyone, but I knew I had to tell my husband, Brian, first. I spent the whole day planning how I would tell him. I ended up making a scrapbook page with the pregnancy test and announcement on it in addition to a tie with children's handprints on it that I had been saving for this special moment. I left it all on our kitchen counter where he always dropped off his stuff when he walked in from work. when he arrived home, I offered to go out and get the mail while he set his stuff down. I walked out the door, but stayed where I could look in to see his reaction. The look of surprise and sheer Joy was exactly what I was hoping for.

2. When you brought your newborn home did you feel ready or overwhelmed? Explain those first few weeks.

I did feel overwhelmed, but part of that was due to the fact that my mother had passed away 2 weeks before I gave birth. I almost felt like I didn't have a chance because my mother wasn't there to walk me through the early newborn stage. However, God brought other women alongside me to help me in those areas of uncertainty and both our daughter and I survived.

When my second came along, I did a lot of research- especially about nursing since that had been a total flop with my first. I went into the hospital with a better handle on things and feeling a bit more "in control," which if you know me being "in control" is an issue I have :) bringing baby number 2 home was a completely different scenario than it was for baby number 1.

3. How do you juggle working inside/outside of the home and family time?

Routine and schedule! Blogging and review writing happen during nap time and after bedtime. The rest of my time is used for homeschooling, laundry, regular home care items, fun day trips with the kids, and errands. After bedtime, I work for about an hour in the office (where my husband hangs out) and then we both migrate to the living room to actually spend time together.

4. What tradition does your family have that you are not willing to give up? Why is it so special?

Family dinner. We eat together as a family every evening (when Brian does not have to work late or out of town). There is just something wonderful about being at the table and having all 4 of our chairs filled. I know there are studies that talk about how important family dinner is, but for us it just feels good. We can share about our day, laugh, teach, and just be the Ladouceurs.

5. If/when you are/were a sahm what do you love the most about it...what is the most difficult?

I love that being a SAHM is my job. I am able to be with my children and be the greatest influence in their lives. We have chosen to homeschool, so I am also able to be their teacher and make choices concerning their education and planning activities to reinforce what we are learning.

Being a SAHM also causes me to be proactive about everything. I love being able to make a schedule/routine that works for our family. I love that I can also make adjustments when necessary.

The most difficult thing about being a SAHM is that I work 24/7/365. I didn't realize how hard that could be when I was a teacher in the work force and could turn off "work mode" when I left the school. That is when having a husband who sends me to get a mani/pedi by myself is a Godsend. It gives me the breathing room I need without leaving me with guilt for "jumping ship."

6. Who inspires you to be a good mom?

My mother. She was awesome! It is because of her that I want to be the best wife and mother that I can be. She was such an example of a godly wife and mother and taught me everything she could before she passed away. Her motto was "I love The Lord first, then my husband and children." Her life reflected that and because her priorities were in the right order, she accomplished more than anyone I have ever met.

In the here and now, you (Kristi) are my iron friend, helping me to sharpen my skills as a wife and mother and encouraging me to press on when I am tired.

7. What kind of mom do you want to be remembered as? Fun, firm, consistent, happy, serious, hard working, etc.

Can I say all of the above? :) I guess "love" would be my word. I want my children to remember me for my love for The Lord, their father, and them. And hopefully that love is seen through my actions- creating a loving environment called home, planning fun activities for our family because of my love of seeing Joy in their faces, creating an atmosphere of consistency because my love for them does not want to throw them for a loop by not having any type of routine in place, and working hard to provide for their needs as well as some of their wants because of our love for them.

8. What piece of advice would you give a new mom and even an experienced mom out there?

Do not compare yourself to any other mother. Don't compare your real life to someone else's Facebook statuses and photos. It is a completely unfair comparison. God gave your child to you because He knew you would be the most imperfectly-perfect mother for that child. And God also gave you the child that he knew you needed. Your family is made up of the perfect combination of people and personalities.

I would also say that there will be lots of opinions and "advise" on what you should do with and for your children. Listen, smile, evaluate, pray, and then decided for yourself what to do for your children. As their mother, you know them better than anyone else does, so only you can ultimately decide what is best for your family. Don't allow yourself to be pressured to do what someone else "recommends" unless you are completely confident that it is the right choice for your family.

Suzette (38)
Addie (5 1/2)
Ian (2)


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Meal Baby: Most Awesome Thing Ever


Meal Baby Plan

One of the hardest things to do as a new mom is cook a decent meal.  After all you just had a baby and all you really want to do is hug, kiss, nurse, hold, rock, and cradle that sweet baby (or babies) in your arms. 
It is such a beautiful gift when people bring you meals those first few weeks after a newborn is in the home.  It's one less thing to worry about and stress over.

Today I just set up a meal baby plan at http://www.mealbaby.com for a friend at church.  She is due in December and I wanted to bless her in this way.

I loved organizing this and setting up the link for her and it is something I plan on doing again in the future to help those mommies I know and love.  I had to share this with all of you out there who know someone you love is pregnant and you want to bless her with a meal plan so that when she comes home from the hospital she won't even have to think about making dinner!

Click here to see the website!  It's awesome!


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21 November 2013

Every Mom Has A Story: Danielle Pastor

Every Mom Has A Story: Danielle

First off let me tell you Danielle (38) is our cousin!  She is a busy mom of 3 great kids.  Matthew just turned 13 and she has twin girls who are 7 years old.

This is another awesome mom of multiples!  I honestly don't know how these moms do it!  The first Mom I interviewed on Tuesday also was a mom of twins click here to read Katie's story.

Here is Danielle's story!!!

1. When you first found out you were going to be a mom what was your reaction? I was very surprised,  but felt it was a blessing from God because my father had just passed away and knew my baby was a “gift from God” hence the name MatthewJ.  I know God sent me him then to me because it would be the only way to help me get through my grief.

2. When you brought your newborn home did you feel ready or overwhelmed? Explain those first few weeks.  With my first child I was very nervous and overwhelmed because I was new at it. I wanted to make sure I did everything right and hoped I was good at it.  With the 2nd time around I was REALLY nervous and overwhelmed…x2 – twins were a completely different challenge. So much so that I think I blocked out a few months from memory.  I have managed to get through it and looking back now it really wasn’t that bad J

3. How do you juggle working inside/outside of the home and family time? I’m lucky now to be working from home so when the kids are in school I get it all done. Once 3pm comes my 2nd/real full time job starts…I am thankful for this because I know how lucky I am to be able to do both.

4. What tradition does your family have that you are not willing to give up? Why is it so special? We have the most traditions with holiday’s- especially Christmas- baking cookies; sitting around the tree together in the morning in our Christmas jammies,  and baking cinnamon rolls every year for breakfast. The kids- especially the little ones- always remind me weeks before to “not forget”.

5. If/when you are/were a sahm what do you love the most about it...what is the most difficult? I was a stay at home mom for 2 ½ years with my twins.  I am grateful for the time I was with them but it was very difficult day to day to be alone with 2 infants.  There were many difficult times- like packing them up every day (it took me an hour) to pick up my son from school- a 10 minute trip took me 90 minutes! I loved being able to share the special moments between them together and having them all to myself for a few hours. 

6. Who inspires you to be a good mom? My children inspire me to be a good mom, especially those days I don’t think I am.  I lose patience and get frustrated, but every day I wake up hoping to do better than the day before.  I look at them and they make me want to be better.

7. What kind of mom do you want to be remembered as? Fun, firm, consistent, happy, serious, hard working, etc  I want to be remembered as a mom who did nothing better than love her children.  A mom who was hard working but always put her family first.

8. What piece of advice would you give a new mom and even an experienced mom out there? I would tell them to treasure the everyday things because you can’t get them back…they grow up so fast and you need to make the memories every day, not just the “special milestones”  Enjoy the little things and have no regrets.


Love you Danielle!!! Thank you for sharing!!!

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20 November 2013

My Facebook Page Launch


Keeping Up With Kristi on Facebook

Hi all!  I have been wanting to do a Facebook page for over a year now, but between being pregnant with baby #3 and then having Micah...my life got busy super fast and I couldn't add one more thing to my plate. Now that Micah is almost 8 months...the "dust is starting to settle".  And I am slowly finding my way back to my rhythm of life.  School is well underway.  We've been homeschooling since August and are even beginning to come to the middle of a lot of our curriculum!  

Now that we have more routine nap times with all 3 kids I actually have office time again!

I plan to blog at least 4-5 times a week, by doing a book club, sharing recipes, sharing homemaking ideas, discussing parenting topics, and even delving into the book of Matthew as a Bible study on Mondays starting in December!

Thanks for all of you who Keep Up with me!  I love blogging and hopefully will continue to bless you in some small way if I can!

Click here to view my page!  Be sure to click LIKE to Like it!


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What About The Gaps In My Life?

Wednesday Book Club: Am I Messing Up My Kids?

Romans 3:23
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

There it is.  Plain as day.  Black as night.  All have sinned.  I am not perfect and only God knows why I try so hard to be perfect.  It's totally impossible.

The first quote that Lysa Terkeurst stated in this chapter that struck me was on page 84: Then I felt God's gentle voice fill my heart with His wisdom.  "Any time there is a gap in your life, let your heart be drawn to Me."  On this side of heaven, there will always be gaps.  Life will always fall short.  Each time you notice the vein in your granite, let it be a reminder that I can fill your gaps.  Let it be a call to praise Me."

There are going to be plenty of things that don't meet your expectations.  Yes, it can be frustrating.  It can be annoying and even bothersome.  A gap may be that you are struggling with finding joy in the holidays which may only make you feel overwhelmed.  It may be a strained relationship.  It may be you fail every time fly off the handle.  It can be a budget that seems really hard to manage.  It can be a leaky faucet.  Cracked molding.  A car that won't start. We can have gaps in our parenting skills, our marriages, our friendships, our jobs, our health, even our walk with God.  

Just remember no matter what gap there might be, God is always there.  You may not sense it.  You may not feel it.  But it is your choice to call out and ask Him to fill your gaps.  This week I am asking God to fill my gaps as I budget my time between housework and homeschool.  Two very daunting tasks for me as a stay at home mom with three kids.  Sometimes I just want to give up.  This chapter reminded me to just ask God to help me fill my gaps.  To give me a new perspective.  To draw close to Him even when He feels far away.

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19 November 2013

Every Mom Has A Story: Katie Gale

I had this idea to interview a few moms and post their answers to my blog.  I reached out to about a dozen women, and almost every single one accepted!  I was thrilled.  At first I was just going to have a mommy week in December featuring some of my nearest and dearest friends and their Mom Story.  But since I have so many willing participants I am going to highlight each Mom on Tuesdays for the next couple of weeks.

Why?  Because Moms truly are great.  Let's be honest.  And, every single Mom has a story.  God has blessed me in the last 6 years to be able to meet some of the most amazing Moms.  I've met some at my MOPS group, some at church, co-workers, some are from my own family.  These Moms, have challenged me, inspired me, and left an imprint on my life and so, I'm really excited to share these Moms with you.

As you read each Mom's answers to the questions I gave them you have an opportunity to gain insight and wisdom from another woman who may have more children than you, or less.  She may be older than you, or younger.  She won't have your story.  Each of us has our own unique story.  And we are all on this journey we call life together.  And we can all learn from each other.

This first woman is super special to me.  I met her two years ago, and the day she arrived at my MOPS group we became instant friends.  I kid you not, we just clicked.  Katie has a sweet southern accent, she is gorgeous, and super likable and friendly.  My daughter Julia calls her, Miss Honey.  I found myself sharing my life story with Katie, and vice versa.  Katie can tell an awesome story.  She is so smart (she graduated from Norte Dame) and she is the funniest person I've ever met!  We both were desperately wanting to have another baby.  And last year God heard our prayers.  I got pregnant with Micah, and Katie got pregnant with TWINS!!!! Olivia and Thomas are 4 months old now...but let me let Katie share her story....

When you first found out you were going to be a mom what was your reaction?
1. When I first found out I was going to be a mommy was the day I said yes to Steve when he proposed. It is unconventional, but that is my life! Steve was married before and was raising his two young boys alone. When I knew I would marry him and wanted to be his partner, I also knew my life would change more quickly than I had originally planned. I became a mommy the day we married.

When you brought home your newborn did you feel ready or overwhelmed? Explain...
2. When I brought Ellie home (my first baby), I felt excited. Nick and Jacob were starting school in a few days, so my memory is that of folders and labeling and backpacks and pencils. I didn't feel overwhelmed with the new baby until about a week or two later. Ellie was an "easy baby," so she just fit into our lives and it was relatively seamless (as soon as I figured out that she liked to sleep in the swing all night long!).

How do you juggle working inside of the home and family time?
3. I am a homemaker full time, so my work is inside the home. I don't feel like I juggle this "job" with family time because it is all one vocation. It's all one joy, one blessing, one gift and one big mess everyday!

What tradition does your family have that you are not willing to give up?  Why is it so special?
4. Tradition that we have I'm most proud of? I don't know. . . maybe our Thanksgiving tree we do every year (was a MOPS idea!). The tree is made of construction paper leaves and a paper sack trunk. We add leaves each evening after supper--we each write what we're thankful for that day, and the tree becomes fuller and more colorful as we approach Thanksgiving. Looking at the leaves I've saved over the years is really fun! Lots of great things to be grateful for!

As a stay at home mom what do you love the most about your job?  What is the most difficult?
5. Being a stay at home mom is very challenging for me. It was not how I was built. It is not what I dreamed about being or "always wanted to do." But we can afford for me to be home, and I think it is the "right" thing to do for my family and my children. Therefore, I do it. I don't want someone else raising my children, but at the same time, I miss very dearly my days when I worked, had adult, stimulating conversations and wore makeup. :)

Who inspires you to be a good mom?
6. My sister inspires me to be a good mom. My friends here in Tyler who live their vocation so beautifully and simply and quietly--they inspire me to be better. My husband inspires me and the Holy Mother of God, the perfect Mother and our example of perfect earthly love and devotion--she inspires me to be a better everything!

What kind of mom do you want to be remembered as?
7. Big question. I want to be remembered as an intentional mother. One who did things and said things with meaning and purpose. I want to be remembered as generous, kind, compassionate, patient and just. Shoot--that's a tall order! I need to get working on that. 

What piece of advice would you give to a new mom out there?
8. Give yourself a lot of grace. Pray without ceasing. This is not an easy vocation, but that's why God called women to do it!

Fulton Sheen once warned his future readers about reading his lectures and thoughts. . . "There will come a moment in your life [when you'll realize I made many mistakes in my writing.] You will be somewhat in the position God must have been in when He made Adam. He looked at Adam and then said, "I could do better than that!" And then he made Eve. --Katie Gale



Katie (33 years old)  is married to Steve and they now have 5 beautiful children!

Nick-15
Jacob-12
Ellie-3
Olivia-4 months
Tommy-4 months

Check out Katie's blog at http://thedogwoodtrail.blogspot.com



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18 November 2013

The Family Meeting

Setting the Tone

In our home it is very important for our children to know that Dad and Mom are the authority.  We tell the kids that God is in charge of us and He has given us the job of being in charge of them.  We really do seek to honor the Lord in raising our kids.

One thing John and I have done since the kids were itty bitty (and I mean like 1 and 2 years old...the big kids are 17 months apart...I've always kind of felt I had twins :) is call a family meeting.

During the Family Meeting we would either share something really special that was about to happen (like the time we told Julia and Mark we were pregnant), or we would talk about how we would handle an issue that was about to arise (describe how we would sleep during Hurricane Sandy since we didn't feel safe having the kids in the upstairs bedrooms with all the trees in our backyard facing their windows) or we would discuss behavior good/bad or expectations.  For example, if we were going to go on a date to NYC and the kids would be with the Grandparents for the day we would call a Family Meeting to discuss what kind of behavior we expected while we were away.

You may ask yourselves, "Where did you get the idea of the Family Meeting?"  I would answer, "From the Cosby Show!"  Seriously, Clare and Cliff had 5 beautiful children and they did an excellent job of holding their children accountable for their behavior, setting their expectations as parents, setting the tone of who the authority was in the home, and I always enjoyed that show because I always felt they were such great parents.  John's Dad also called Family Meetings so we both were familiar with them and enjoy using them in our home.

Here is how it goes:

Call the Meeting to Order:

1. We announce to our kids where the Family Meeting will be and give them a 5 minute warning when it's about to happen.  For example, "Mark and Julia, meet us in the living room, please sit on the couch, we are about to have a Family Meeting!"  We keep the tone light (no matter if the meeting is for a happy occasion or not) and let them know exactly what we expect.  They are always excited for the meetings and usually run to the spot where we tell them we are going to chat.

United Front:

2. Dad usually speaks first, or if Mom is super passionate about the topic (behavior) sometimes Mom goes first.  Dad is the head of the home, but since Mom is the one home most of the day, I am the one who usually sees a gamut of different behaviors more often.  We find that addressing behavior as a team really helps because we don't want the kids to think one parent is the mean one and one is the softy.  We really try to have a united front.  I also like the kids to see that Dad does find out what goes on all day.  I want them to know that nothing is kept from Daddy.

Be Positive:

3. We try to start off positive and end positive even if we have to share something we are disappointed about.  Let's say we have to address bad behavior in the car, we may start off by saying, "You know what guys, we are so blessed that God has allowed us to have a new van.  Don't you like it?  What do you like about it?  Well, we've noticed that there has been a lot of fighting back and forth.  What can you two do differently so we can get along in the car?"

Pray As A Family:

4. We usually end in prayer.  Asking God to help us obey our parents and protect us from any harm, and help us to be kind to each other.  This is a family that really seeks to put God first.  Praying at the end of our meeting just reinforces that.  We can't do anything right without the help of God.  He is our strength.  He is also the one we go to if we are afraid or concerned.  This is a perfect time to model this to your kids.  God cares about us and he hears our prayers and listens to us and He answers our prayers.

Become Closer As A Family:

5. It has brought us closer.  I think by having Family Meetings we are showing our kids that we can talk things out.  We are showing them that when something special happens we can celebrate it together.  Having the Family Meeting about the pregnancy with Micah was SO exciting.  We even videotaped it on the Ipad.  I will never forget telling my 4 year old Julia and 3 year old Mark that we had a baby growing in my belly.  Mark looked me straight in the face and shared, "I have a baby in my belly too!"  Oh, how we laughed together.  Family Meetings bring us closer because many times apologies are said to each other, and sometimes it's parent to child and sometimes it's child to parent or child to child.  We want to model what it is like to say sorry, to forgive, to hug when you feel bad, or hold hands when you are scared.  We even held a Family Meeting before going to the dentist because we knew Mark was so scared.



I hope this encourages any of you out there who do this already to keep it up.  And if you've never had a family meeting, you can see how simple and easy they are, and really they are fun.  Even the difficult meetings, (sometimes you have to do the meeting with only one child at a time if the behavior was just the one child) can really help you to understand the situation better and it gives you an opportunity to learn more about your child and to love on them.

Train up a child in the way he should go;    even when he is old he will not depart from it.--Proverbs 22:6


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14 November 2013

Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Smiles All Around

One of my absolute favorite things to do during Christmas is to shop for the stocking stuffers!  As a matter of fact me and my mom and sisters still give each other stocking stuffer gifts because they are just so fun!

I think the kids like them too because it's an extra prize that they might even forget to open or check!  

I know some families who open up their stocking stuffers on Christmas Eve.  So what do you get to bring smiles to the faces of those that you love?  Here are some great ideas for your kids and for your spouse:

Kids Stocking Stuffers:

1. Favorite kind of candy wrapped in a bow
2. New DVD 
3. Soft socks with a cool design
4. New Mittens/Hat or Gloves/Scarf
5. New pad/crayons or journal/markers
6. Rainbow Loom (Julia's getting this one!)
7. Kid's CD for their room/car
8. New Toothbrush/Toothpaste


For the Hubby/Adults:

1. New Aftershave
2. New DVD/tied with a bow and a bag of microwaveable popcorn
3. Favorite Candy
4. New Leather Gloves
5. New Scarf
6. New Wallet
7. Engraved Key Chain
8. Framed Picture of the Family for Desk at Work

9. Personalized Mini-Calendar (include all family pics)

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13 November 2013

Is it wrong to treat myself?

Book Club Wednesday

Many moms struggle with the concept of taking time for ourselves.  We feel guilty when we go out and get a hair cut or a pedicure.  We feel guilty if we go and see a movie.  We feel guilty if we talk to our friends on the phone.  Why do we do this to ourselves?

Many of us would swim the English Channel for our children and our spouse.  We are not only homemakers but we do so many things to make things run smoothly for our families.  I don't know about you, but by the time homeschool coop is over on Friday...I am FRIED!  I've taught school all week, cooked meals, drove to gymnastics, awana, bible study, mops, field trips, playdates.  I've given baths, wiped noses, changed diapers, cleaned toilets, taken out the garbage, raked leaves.  You name it...WE as moms do it!  So why do we feel guilty when we spend 45 minutes without the kids?

It is never ever wrong to treat ourselves.  We treat our kids to chocolate chip cookies, or ice cream after a long day, we treat our husbands to a back rub after a tiring day at work, we know everyone likes treats, but why do we not fully enjoy our own treats!?

And if you are like me a treat may be something as simple as:

* a soak in a bubble bath or the hot tub
* a manicure/pedicure
* date with my spouse
* girl time with a friend
* a hot cup of tea and a novel
* a hot cup of coffee and blogging time
* time to create our Christmas cards
* listening to Norah Jones CD

Three points that stood out to me in this chapter were:

1. Motherhood does NOT mean life is all about what I do for others and that I should never stop to think of the wonderful benefits of treating myself!

It is actually super important to treat ourselves because afterwards we are even more ready to pour into the lives of the people around us.  We become happier, our burdens may be lifted, we are more free to do our many tasks with joy!

2. The best kind of refreshment IS found when we go to the Lord and ask Him to fill us!

However, just as we enjoy giving our own children treats throughout the day (cookies here, a trip to the park, a prize) so does our heavenly Father enjoy watching us receive things that make us happy!

3. A TREAT does not bring lasting joy, but it sure can lighten a heavy moment of feeling drained.

Think about the little things that bring a smile to your face.  The itty bitty treats that bring joy in the moment.  A piece of chocolate, a favorite song on the radio, a bubble bath.  Whatever it is treat yourself to something and don't feel guilty about it!  Thank God for these little treats in your days and weeks that little things that can make you happy.

4. Have something to look forward to so that when things get tough there is a glimmer of hope of something special.

I did this all the time as a teacher.  If my students completed all their homework for 5 full days we would have a pajama day or a bagel breakfast.  If we read a novel in reading class that we all enjoyed we would close the lesson/chapter with a movie and popcorn day.  These little things became big things.  These are the things that my 3rd and 4th graders remember looking back on their Elementary years.

As a mom, I look forward to homeschool coop days because it is a teaching free day and I get to be with other moms for a few hours.  My kids love it because they learn from all different teachers and socialize with their new friends.  As a mom, I also look forward to family dates when we take the kids to the movies, or when we go shoe shopping.  Anything that is different than our normal Monday to Friday schedule becomes a treat.  And we all look forward to it!

John has had this big CFP exam this weekend.  We promised the kids, after Daddy's test on Saturday we are going to have a family day.  We are taking them to the movies and out to dinner.  After all of Daddy's hard work and sacrifice and studying we want to celebrate togetherness.  And let me tell you I can't wait for Sunday Family Day.  It is going to be a real treat!

It is never wrong to treat yourself.  God has blessed all of us in this life and He wants us to take time out to enjoy the moments.  Life is too short not to take time to celebrate and enjoy the blessings.



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