31 March 2014

A Great Love Story: Tabitha and Jamie

And Then There Was Love

I really can't get enough of these love stories!  I love reading how God knits two people together.  I think it is awesome.

My friend Tabitha from MOPS is amazing.  She and I were recently preggo together we our boys Aiden and Micah.  Her children are adorable and Tabitha is such a laid back and fun mom.

Please read her love story with her hubby Jamie...

When did you two meet? 

(Jamie) In 1995 at Camp Calvary, a Summer camp that both our youth groups went to every summer and winter. 
(Tab) We were 15. We had mutual friends and we all hung out together. 
Who approached who first? 

(Jamie) We were introduced by mutual friends. If you want to be technical, I took the first step towards her, so I approached her first. 
(Tab) He approached me. I just remember thinking to myself, “Oh, he does talk!” 
Who spoke the most and who was shy in the beginning? 

(Jamie) Tab definitely spoke the most and still does! I was the shy one in the beginning! 
(Tab) YEP!
Where was your first date? 

(Jamie) Our first date was at the movies in Menlo Park Mall. We saw Cable Guy. How did it go? (Jamie) It went well, I was really nervous, my palms and arm pits were sweating. Good thing it was dark! (Tab) It was the dumbest movie, but I’ll still watch it whenever I catch it on television just because it’s nostalgic for me.
When did you know that she was the one! How long did it take to learn this. (Jamie) I knew Tab was the one while we were in high school. I knew if we could survive our first year of dating, she was the one! That first year was pretty difficult, we lived 1 1/2 hrs apart, we didn’t have our driver’s license yet, and we only saw each other 1 weekend/month!!!

(Tab) I knew he was the one when we were in high school. We were only teenagers, but I could seriously see “growing old” with Jamie. He was very thoughtful about making decisions when it came to our relationship. I remember him saying quite often “I don’t want to mess this up.” I love that!

How did he propose? Were you surprised? 

(Jamie) I actually talked her into cutting her family vacation short and told her I wanted to spend the rest of the week with her. We had left her family vacation in Ocean City early on a Thursday morning. She had no idea we were going until we arrived at the airport gate. Destination - San Diego, CA!!! On our last night, we took a walk after dinner. We were on a path on the La Jolla cliffs, looking over the ocean and watching the sunset. I was a nervous wreck, not only about the proposal, but about this ring that I was carrying all over the place! I had it during her family vacation, through the airport, and through 3 days and 2 nights in San Diego! I was checking my pocket 10,000 times a day!! I just wanted everything to go well. Thank God it did!
(Tab) I was shocked! Jamie planned everything perfectly! When we walked up to the gate at the airport I couldn’t believe we were going to SanDiego. It is one of my favorite places on earth! He’s great at keeping secrets and doing things “just because,” so I didn’t think he was going to propose. Although, after 8 years of dating, I was hoping it was going to happen soon. Our last day there, he sent me for a spa day, planned dinner at “The Cove” (a restaurant overlooking the ocean) and then a walk on the cliffs. I remember my feet were killing me because I was walking in 6 inch heels! I got over it quickly! During the wedding did anything unexpected/funny happen during the ceremony or reception? What was your favorite part? What memory sticks with you even now?
(Jamie) Besides being the hottest day of the year, nothing really unexpected occurred. I just remember the DJ playing the Cha Cha slide while we were outside our venue taking pictures with our wedding party! He made amends by playing it again for us towards the end of the reception! My favorite part and the memory that sticks with me is watching Tab walk down the aisle! She was so angelic, happy, and perfect! (Tab) I remember it being the hottest day of 2005, 105 degrees (August 13th)! I remember I wanted an old car instead of a limo. So I found a 1937 Roles Royce to take us to and from the church. When the driver showed up, I told him to keep the air conditioning on in the car so we would be cool on the way to the church. He looked at me an said, “Lady, you wanted a authentic 1937 Roles Royce. There was no air back then!” DUH! So one of my bridesmaids offered to take me (and my huge dress) to the church in her car so we wouldn’t melt. The car was just used as a prop in our pictures! I still laugh when I think of fact that I didn’t ask if there would be air conditioning in a car that old. My favorite part was our first dance. That’s when I felt like we were officially married. 
What is her best trait? 

(Jamie) Tab’s best trait is the love that she has for her family. She truly puts us before herself. She willingly sacrifices and serves us in anyway she can. She always wants the best for us and does not want us to settle or be satisfied for 2nd best.
What is his best trait? 

(Tab) Jamie’s best trait is that he allows me to be me. He accepts me for who I am as quirky as I may be. He is very logical, keeps me grounded and listens to me without judgement.
What is your secret to a great marriage? 

(Jamie) My secret is to be in tune with your spouse. Pay attention to the little things. Most of the time, it’s the little things that will satisfy your wife. (Tab) Take the time to learn what makes your spouse feel loved. It’s different for everyone. I know Jamie appreciates when I take the time to just sit and spend time with him without talking or trying to multitask. If you know me, it’s hard to do sometimes because I’m constantly talking and my brain thinks in “to do” lists. 
How do you solve disagreements? 

(Jamie) By biting my tongue!!! Haha! Usually we talk and regretfully, sometimes we go at it (when the kids are at asleep, of course). However, the Lord softens our hearts, usually mine first, and we apologize and make up! (Tab) Unfortunately, I am the yeller. I like to get it all out there and then it’s over. Over the last 8 years we have been married, I have learned to look at Jamie’s intentions rather than his delivery. His heart is usually in the right place, he doesn’t want to upset me. I realize I can’t hold him to a standard of perfection and hold myself to a standard of grace. We always apologize and then move on.
How do you share/divide housework? 

(Jamie) I usually vacuum, and collect and take out the garbage. I honestly try to help out with everything whenever I can. I’ll chip in with the laundry to washing dishes, from bathing the kids to sweeping the floors. I just stay away from the cooking!!! I only display my cooking skills about 5 times/year. (Tab) I am a stay at home mom for now so I have most of the responsibility of cleaning and keeping the house. However, Jamie doesn’t mind pitching in when he can or I ask him. He doesn’t mind doing laundry (a chore I despise) so it works out. What trips have you gone on as a couple that were very special? (Jamie) Wow, aside from our honeymoon in Hawaii, and our trip to the Punta Cana, we haven’t really taken any big trips alone as a couple. We’ve been to Ocean City as a family plenty of times, to California a couple of times, to the Mayan Riviera with Abby, and to Disney World with Abby and Ryan. (Tab) This question really makes me realize that we need to plan some time away as a couple. Our honeymoon in Hawaii was the most incredible 2 weeks, I loved every minute! Punta Cana was our babymoon and that was lots of fun too. We haven’t gone away as a couple since we had kids. I realize that the kids will only be young for a season and we will be able to to couple trips as they get older. I’m looking forward to that!
14. What is the best part of being married? 

(Jamie) The best part is coming home, sleeping, waking up, and talking to your best friend! It is something I try not to take for granted.
(Tab) The best part of being married is having someone who accepts all of me and makes me laugh. He still makes me giggle even if it’s for corny reasons. I love that we have jokes that are just between us. 
15. If you could go anywhere in the world on a vacation with your spouse where would you go? 

(Jamie) Within the US, San Diego, CA - Internationally - I always wanted to take Tab to the Boracay Islands in the Philippines. (Tab) Hawaii
16. If you could sum up your marriage in two words what would they be? 

(Jamie) Supportive and Fun
(Tab) Laughter and Respect
God bless your marriage guys!!!!!!!!! I loved reading your love story!  I even added it to my pinterest page!

28 March 2014

Sara's New Business Venture


My sister Sara is starting a new business venture to make extra money on the side!  I happen to love the faith-based company she has recently joined and I wanted to show case her so that she can start building her business.  I am so proud of her!

Sara is my younger sister and even though we are 8 years apart we have ALWAYS been close.  Since we were little girls we shared a room together and have always been a huge part of each other's lives.  I really appreciate how Sara has just always been there for me and has been such a great Auntie to Julia, Mark, and Micah.  I can call her at the drop of a hat and she will be there.

I am truly thankful for her and the joy she brings to everyone.  She lights up a room with her smile and charm and she is such a hard worker.

Sara let me interview her.  Here is her new business venture:

How did you first hear about Thirty-One?

1. I first heard about Thirty-One at the party you hosted!  Lindy was your consultant and was just so awesome and super friendly. I loved that when we first met she said, I'm a hugger" and hugged me hello, she is so sweet. That night was so much fun, I made new friends, had yummy snacks, and I bought my first two Thirty-One bags, which I am in love with!

What interested you in becoming a consultant?

2. Before your party, I was already thinking that I wanted to do something on the side to make a little more money. I already am in sales for my full-time job, but I was struggling with what I should do for a part-time job.  I didn't want to go back into retail, for a few different reasons.  Then that night, at your party, during Lindy's demo, I kept thinking, "I could do this, this would be so much fun!" Being a consultant for Thirty-One allows me to make additional money but at my own pace and schedule.  

What does your company stand for?

3. Thirty-One Gifts is a faith-based company and is named from Proverbs 31.  This passage talks about a strong and virtuous woman who is rewarded for her hard work. And so our motto at Thirty-One is to CELEBRATE, ENCOURAGE AND REWARD!  

What excites you the most about your company and new job?

4. I am excited for a lot of reasons, but I mostly excited for meeting new people. I am such a people-person, hence why I am in sales! I love making new friends, making people smile, shopping, and selling, and this job is going to allow me to do all four!  Who wouldn't be excited to make some extra money for having a girls night that includes shopping!  

What are your short term/long term goals? (this is such a big sister question)

5. This is such an important question, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Thirty-One is also invested in my goals. Thirty-One calls it your "Why" and this was one of the first questions my director asked me. So my why, which is my (semi) long-term goal, is to move out of my parents' house.  So I joined Thirty-one to save additional money so that in a year I can move out.  My short-term goal, is to simply meet wonderful women and broaden my social network. :)

So proud of you Sara!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good luck and God bless your new business.  Can't wait to host a show for you in June!


27 March 2014

Fernbrook Farms: Homeschool Is Awesome

Spring Is Here

Our Spring Semester at Fernbrook began yesterday!  We are taking an 8 week course at this farm and the cost was so little compared to the amazing work of all the farmers and teachers.

This program was booked within seconds of open registration.  All of my new homeschool moms friends raved about it and I told one of my awesome library friends, Nina, about it because she has been homeschooling her daughter at home.  

The Pre-K class is where I stayed since the big kid class age 6-11 is completely run by the staff and they don't allow parents to really tag along.  It was hard at first for me to just "drop" Julia off, but she knew tons of friends from coop and the 2 hour outdoor class was jam packed with learning experiences, a craft, and games that she didn't miss mommy for a second!  Julia's first class learned all about bats...and for the hour drive home...all we heard about was BATS!!!!!!!!! She learned so much and it was all hands on, and she played with her craft the entire time while she explained to me what they ate, how they slept, how they survived, etc.

I got to stay with my Mark in the pre-k class and they learned all about dirt and composting and soil.

Each kid got to observe their own paper with rocky soil, sand, and good soil.  We did a lot of looking, and touching and the teacher was awesome at having each child have a turn to share.  The kids were so cute.  They loved having their own magnify glass.  They loved touching the dirt.  And then the compost pile came with WORMS...

This was the favorite highlight for Mark.  Seeing all the worms and the compost.  Then all the children got a marigold seed.  They each put their seed in different types of soil and we will see which soil is best for planting over the next 7 weeks.  We put our seed/soil/cups in the window to grow and watered them.

The Pre-K class is only an hour so we wrapped up our class outside with the animals.  The sheep just had babies and so did the goats.  They were gorgeous.  We got to play with them and pet them.  We saw the cow T-Bone and the chickens and then hung out with our friends and waited for the big kids to be done!

I love Fernbrook!  I am thankful my mother in law kept Micah because it was 37 degrees and very windy yesterday.  But the rest of this week will be warmer.  I can't wait to bring Micah to this farm!  The hour drive is so worth it!  I love homeschool outdoor learning!

26 March 2014

I'm Not A Freak Out Woman

Book Club Wednesday

The book we started two weeks ago was Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst.  If you missed my review on chapter 1 click here.

Imperfect Progress Chapter 1

What I really liked about this chapter is that no matter how we respond during a "freak out" moment, there is hope of change.  You don't always have to yell, or scream, or cry, or blow up, you can actually teach your mind the right way to respond, and with practice really start to see changes in your life.  No matter how small they may be.

I love the verse in Romans 12:2 it says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."  
I believe in the Bible as God's truth and it is the foundation of my faith and my life.  With that said, that doesn't mean I always respond to stressful situations which are out of my control the way that would be pleasing to God.  Seriously, I need major help.  Don't we all?  That's the beauty of a relationship with God though, I am on a journey with Him.  He knows my faults, He knows my heart, He is renewing and transforming me to be the Kristi He wants me to be.  And when I fail, I can trust Him to be there to help me back up.

Lysa says, "Renewing our minds with new thoughts is crucial.  New thoughts come from new perspectives."

And who do you think gives us those new perspectives?  Have you ever looked at something with such a narrow view you couldn't see past the all the hard parts and rough edges?  Well, when you look at things from a new perspective (with God's help...a heavenly perspective) then you can see the beauty in the mess and chaos.

Lysa also says, "I can face things that are of my control and not act out of control."

For me that is really key because when things get out of control I really want to run, scream, or throw a 30 year old tantrum.  But that's the human way, isn't it?  With God's help I can act like the adult who may feel out of control, but still be a lady and not a CRAZY WOMAN.

So I am claiming the Romans 12:2 verse and praying that God helps me to renew my mind and changes my perspective so I can become the non freak out woman.  Even when Mark spills an entire cup of orange juice on the dining room table, even when Micah has a rough night of sleep because he's teething, even when John comes home from work and can't help out because he has work to do, or is sick, I can ask God in those moments to act in control even when I feel out of control.  And truly, there is freedom in that.  But it does take work on our parts!


25 March 2014

Happy Birthday Micah Quiz!

Micah Boy Quiz

We always do a quiz that we print out and give to all the guests at the big family birthday party.  This year all 53 guests got this quiz:

Happy Birthday, Micah boy!

1.    What was Micah’s birth weight?
2.    At 3 weeks old what did Micah weigh?
3.    When did he start to army crawl?
4.    What month did he start to climb the stairs?
5.    What did he weigh at his 4 month visit?
6.    What was Micah’s first vacation?
7.    How many siblings does Micah have?
8.    When did he start walking?
9.    What does he drink in his sippy cup?
10.          What is his favorite dinner???
11.          Fruit or veggies?
12.          How did Micah do at his photography cake smash shoot?
13.          Who does Micah resemble the most in the family?
14.          How many great-grandparents does Micah have?
15.          What words does Micah say?
16.          Who does Micah enjoy playing with the most?
17.          Who gives Micah the most attention?
18.          What is Micah’s favorite song?
19.          How many hours does Micah sleep at night in his crib?
20.          How much does Micah weigh now?
21.          What is Micah’s favorite bedtime book?

*********************************************** Answers
1. 9.2lbs
2. 11 lbs
3. 2 months
4. 6 months
5. 20 lbs
6. Camp of the Woods
7. 3 (2 older and one on the way)
8. 9 months old
9. apple juice with water and coconut milk
10. spaghetti
11. veggies
12. fail-he ignored the cake
13. Julia
14. 3!!! We are so blessed (they all came to the party!)
15. hi, mama, dada, iron man, ball, all done
16. Mark
17. Julia
18. Itsy bitsy spider
19. 9 hours
20. 23lbs
21. Caps For Sale


24 March 2014

Micah's First Year Tribute: By Daddy

Our Third Baby

Well, Micah Justice will be one years old this Tuesday.  We had a great time celebrating him this past weekend with a huge family party at my in law's clubhouse.  (Pictures will be posted tomorrow).

I wanted to attach this video that John made for Micah.  We do this for all of our kids.  The first year birthday party is pretty big to us!  It's such a milestone for the whole family.  And I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed watching my big kids enjoy Micah.

Three kids is A LOT of work.  But I wouldn't have it any other way.  John made the absolute best first year video for Micah and it starts out with us sharing the news that we were a few weeks pregnant with a baby to the big kids.  The first scene made me crack up laughing remembering that sweet moment.  Of course we sat the kids down and had a family meeting.  This was in August right before our vacation to Cape May.  Julia was paying attention so intently.  You have to watch her reaction as we tell her that there is a baby in my belly.  And then, you have to hear what Mark says!  Priceless.

The video is about 5 minutes and ends with the sweetest song Remember Me, which was sung at our wedding day.  The last minute of the video brings me to tears because as rough as this past year has been on me adjusting to 3 and homeschooling, and everything, man, I wouldn't trade one second without all my kids.  It just made me realize how blessed we are and not to take one minute for granted.  I love you guys.  Thank you John for making such a sweet tribute to our Micah!!!


21 March 2014

Beauty In Bloom

Awesome Mom Jobs

My Mops leader Jamie Cone, and her best friend Tara Silvestre both have the best job in the world.  They build and encourage little girls at parties.  They teach them about loving themselves, and self esteem, and about where true beauty really is.

The name of their company is Beauty in Bloom.  I interviewed Jamie this past week and was able to book Julia's 7th birthday party all at the same time.  I think this business they created is truly awesome and you will too!

Here is a video clip:

How did you come up with the idea for this business?

1. Beauty in Bloom was inspired by our own daughters.  Tara and I were seeking a business opportunity  that would allow us income and flexibility but also the ability to really impact lives in a positive way.  There was nothing like that out for us so we decided to pioneer our own company. As mothers our first instinct was to think of our children; we started with our oldest children; our daughters.  We designed a company that would be fun, on trend and meaningful. We wanted girls to have a great time at our parties but also learn something at the same time: Beauty in Bloom was born!

What is the message or goal of Beauty in Bloom?

2. The core message of BiB is vital to girls in today's society. As parents we have responsibility to teach our daughters about loving themselves, respecting who they are and being kind to themselves as others.  These are lessons that, sadly, some children never learn at home. We come across girls who are never told they are beautiful, smart and worthy of love.  At Beauty in Bloom we get to be a positive, uplifting voice to girls who may not have that.  In society that is constantly telling girls to conform, conform, conform; we are telling girls to be proud of who they are, just as they are because they were created perfectly.

What do you hope to accomplish at the parties?

3.  Many times at our parties and workshops we see changes before our very eyes!  We see girls who are shy and introverted blossom into bold, confident kids ready to conquer the world. We see girls who learn to encourage other girls by saying positive things and praising their friends at the party for sometimes the slightest things, it really touches your heart to see girls lifting up other girls in a positive way.  We once had a mom reach out to us after a party because she couldn't believe the change in her daughter. Her daughter had attended a friend's party.  This little girl, Danielle is her name and we still remember, was so quiet and shy. Her mom told us that she came home and couldn't stop talking about how her talents and gifts were special and she felt great about being who she was!  It's always so amazing to hear that kind of feedback.

What was the hardest part of creating your business?

4.  The hardest part of starting BiB was simply finding the time to follow through!  We have 7 kids between the two of us and we are busy mamas!  It's still a challenge to this day, but isn't that the gripe of all moms?...Finding the time to do it all!

How do you and Tara divide/share the work load?

5.  Tara and I work great together!  I love talking and being "on"; she prefers the behind the scenes mechanics of the business so we make a great team!  I can't tell you how many times I call tara with some crafty idea, tell about it and she just finds a way to make it happen!   She's amazing like that!  So it's pretty easy for us to split up the work, we both recognize the other person's strengths and capitalize on those and work to pick up the slack for each other's weaknesses.  Plus we're best friends, and what's better then working with your best friend!

1. What is the best part/your fav part of beauty in bloom?

Tara: My favorite thing about Beauty in Bloom is knowing that at each party or workshop that we do, these young girls are getting our message and all we can hope is that they remember it in the future. At the end of a party we go over everything we talked about and hearing the responses from the girls is so rewarding

2. What is your main goal in hosting the parties?

Tara: Our main goal in hosting these parties is that we help girls really understand where inner beauty comes from and help them to realize that they are special just the way they are. Beauty is not always about what is on the outside.

****** Jamie and Tara blessings on this business venture!  Praying that you are booked over and above what you could ever ask for or hope for.  You both are amazing role models for these girls and great mommies.  Love you Both!


20 March 2014

Date Night Once A Week

That's It!  We need to make "US" time a priority!

Many of you have spouses who work very long hours outside of the home.  By the time they get home, it's bedtime for the kids, clean up the kitchen, eat a quick meal, and head off to bed.  For me, it was allow John time to play with the kids, get some computer and blog work done, write out some cards, work on lesson plans, fold and put away laundry and collapse into bed.  Literally, I would get into bed and not even remember falling asleep.

I woke up this morning and said, NO!  That's It!  We need to make our relationship a priority and be the best parents we can be and the only way to do that is to make time for each other.  It can be impossible with work schedules. and taking classes (John is taking seminary classes to finish up his M DIV degree) and kids, but with God all things are possible right?  So I talked with John this morning and by talk I mean text and I said, listen, tonight is date night.  No work.  No blogging.  No cleaning.  No cell phones.  Just us, a movie, and tea and cookies!

And John loved the idea.

Our kids are super important to us and so is our marriage.

We may not be able to go out on restaurant or movie dates the way we used to, but we can take time out once a week at least, to focus on each other and really connect.

It was time.

So now we will have 4-5 date nights a month!  How cool is that?!


18 March 2014

Prepping for the Big Birthday!!!

Erin Nicastro Photography

First Birthdays Are Huge At Team Mac

My Micah turns one next week and this Sunday we are having a huge family party for him at my Mother in Law's house.  I am so excited!!! Today, I have to do some final things like order the sheet cake and pick up some colorful tablecloths to match our Super Bowl Football theme, and buy some face paint for all the kids.

Erin Nicastro Photography
I already ordered the balloons, cookie favors (Dina Newhard will be making them at Chloe's Creations) and bought all the games, decorations and goodie bags, and planned out all the food items.  He got his pictures done a few weeks ago by Erin Nicastro Photography.  She does all our family photos.

John is working on the year video of Micah.  We always show this at each child's birthday so you can see a progression of how they grew and changed throughout the year.  It always makes me cry to look back and watch them, and the big kids love to watch their video and hear the songs daddy picked out for them.

We are so happy to celebrate our Micah this year!  This has to be the fastest year of our lives.  So much has happened and  God has moved and blessed us in so many incredible ways.  I am very excited to share the joy with all our close family and friends!!!


17 March 2014

What In The World Is Man-Day?

Finding Ways To Bless Your Spouse

John is so great at allowing me "girl time" and he is always sending me off to get some time away from home to walk through a book store, or grab a cup of tea, or get a mani/pedi.  He knows how hard it is to manage 3 kids all day and he is super sweet to give me a much needed break here and there.

I felt it was time to return the favor and so this past Saturday after Chinese School (John is typically the one who drives the kids to school on Saturday and has snack with them during their break time) I told him to go to his "man-day".  

I was so afraid he wouldn't do it and I was right because he is always seeking to do things around the house, or study, or play with the kids, so I planned ahead and told my sister in law my plan.  We made sure her hubby Kelsey and John would go to the gun range (they've been talking about wanting to go) and have some guy bonding time.

John left around 1 pm and I didn't see him until 6-ish.  He had such a great time just having no responsibilities of wife/kids.  He got to do some errands, he washed his car, he got a manicure, he got some Starbucks, and then he and Kelsey met up at the gun range.  I was so glad he had time TO HIS SELF.  You feel so refreshed afterwards.  And he was so appreciative and thankful!  It was so worth it!!

If you ever think your spouse needs a day to get away, give them a few hours to do whatever they want, and I bet they will come home better than ever!!!  It's a sure way to bless your spouse!


13 March 2014

Awesome Mom Jobs: My doula Roe

Roe always makes me laugh!

Best Job Ever

My doula Rosemarie has the best job in the world.  She is a stay at home mom AND a doula!

She has helped me and John bring three healthy children into this world.  And in Aug/Sept we will be using her wonderful services again!  

She is awesome at what she does.  She truly supports the mom throughout the labor and delivery and all through out the pregnancy you can talk to Roe and ask for advice.  She is wonderful.  We don't know what we would do without her!

Sitting on a yoga ball during a contraction.

Here is a little more info about what a doula is!

1. What is a doula? A doula is a woman  experienced in childbirth who provides emotional, informational, and physical support to a birthing mother and her partner before, during, and following birth. 

My water birth with Mark.

2. What interested you in being one? I had a doula present during the birth of our son Nicholas 18 years ago due to a not so pleasant birth experience with our first child three years prior. The experience was so amazing. I researched it for many months, found a training in a local hospital and spoke with my husband John about his feelings. He was super supportive but reminded me that my first and most important job was raising our sons. If I could find a way to raise our sons without it getting in the way he would support me 100% of the way. At first I only did a few births a year, but as my husbands job became more flexible with him working from home when not traveling and my kids getting older it became easier and easier. I also had the help of my mom who would help if John was out of town when I had a client due. 

3. How many babies have you delivered? Here I am 17 years in and I have assisted 280 babies into our beautiful world including your three and looking forward to our fourth in the coming months. 

Eating ice chips and relaxing in the birth tub.

4. Do you do water births? Yes, I did my first water birth about 8 years ago and have been doing them ever since.  I currently have a few moms desiring a water birth. Most all of my moms use water to help them relax during labor whether it be using submersion or shower. Moms experience great relief throughout their body and they are better able to manage the contractions. 

5. What is the best part of being a doula? I have to say the best part of being a doula is witnessing life come into the world. For me, childbirth is a magical and mysterious experience. Magical in a sense that one minute you're in labor and the next there is this beautiful baby God has blessed you with. Mysterious in a sense you don't know the path that labor is going to take. Yes it always ends with a baby in mamas,  but I am there to suggest different positions and varied coping techniques guiding the birthing couple towards holding their baby in their arms and experiencing the most amazing and memorable birth ever.  

We were so excited to have a boy! (Mark)

6. How has being a doula allowed you to be a stay at home mom and yet earn a great income? I average one to two births a month so basically I am home when I am not assisting at a birth. I am also a Lamaze certified child birth educator and teach small group classes in my home which also enabling me to be around. It was great when the boys were small but now that they are young men, they don't need mama so much.  God has given me the ability to use my gift of servanthood  to serve mothers and babies. I feel totally blessed by my profession.

Thank you Roe for helping us bring 3 healthy babies into this world!  God knew we needed you!

12 March 2014

Spring Break

Because Everybody Needs A Break

I didn't plan on taking any days off this year except birthdays and holidays.  But, we are so far ahead of the game with only about another month of school work left that I decided to take 3 days off this week and two in April on Good Friday and Easter Monday.

It has been wonderful!  We've been going to different play dates with our friends, and going to the park to play, and the weather has been gorgeous in the 50s and 60s and sunny!  We are so thankful for this taste of Spring!

It will give us a much needed break so that we can finish the home school year strong!!! 


11 March 2014

For This Child We Prayed

Family Dedication

This past Sunday our family had a dedication at church.  A Family Dedication is similar to but different from a christening. Some families christen their babies at a certain age, and others focus more on the parents since it is our job and role to parent and bring up our children to know and love God.  

It is a special day.  It's a day of commitment.  We commit ourselves as parents to do the best we can (with God's help) to raise our children the way that would be pleasing to God, and our church body (the members of the church) commit to praying for us as we raise our families together.

It's really a beautiful event.  After all the Dads introduced their families to the church (there were about 6 or 7 families) extended family members and friends were allowed to come up and pray over us.  This was so cool.  And super special.  I loved having all the grandparents there and all my sisters and my brother in law there.  We were a complete unit.  And we were able to hear a sermon together and worship together!

Our biggest prayer for Micah is that he lives up to his name.  That he lives a life of humble service to God.  That he walks with God all the days of his life and truly seeks justice for those who don't get it.  

Micah 6:8 "He has shown thee, oh man what is good and what the Lord requires of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God."

I'm so thankful for my family and for my husband and children.  Our family supported us so well and we love them very much.  Thank you Mom and Dad McKinney, Paletza, Sara, Mom and Dad McInerney and Laurie and Kelsey for sharing the day and our joy with us.


10 March 2014

My Favorite Thing About Being Married

The Beauty of Oneness

You know how in the Bible when it talks about marriage it says, "and the two shall become one."  Well, for me the oneness is the BEST part of being married to John.

Yes, John is my best friend.  We can talk about anything and everything.  John and I are very similar and compatible.  But, we don't always agree or always get along.  There are times when I don't understand why he says what he does, or why he does what he does.  And trust me, I'm very sensitive and hormonal and I know sometimes John is clueless about how crazy I am!  I can cry at the drop of the hat sometimes.  I can get really angry about something that he would view as small.

But to me, the beauty of marriage and the best thing for me in our marriage is that John and I are viewed as one person to God.  John and I are one.  Ultimately, we are both accountable for the strength of our marriage and how we raise our (gasp) soon to be 4 kids!

And I count it such a privilege to pray for John.  Actually, it is for selfish reasons.  When I pray for John, for God to strengthen him, give him wisdom, protect him, bless the fruit of his hands and labor, I am blessed.  When I pray to God about the decisions we make as a couple we both benefit from that because God changes me and my heart and then God blesses, strengthen, and protects John.  It's a win win.  I have always loved praying for John because I see God working in his life and I know that in some small way I am a part of it.

And isn't cool how God can use our weaknesses and strengths in and through our spouses.  When I am weak, John steps up, and when John is weak I can step up.  God enables both of us to be one awesome team for Him.  As parents and as a couple without kids.  Have you ever taken a personality test between you and your spouse and seen how opposite you might be, but never really noticed because it just all evens out?  I love that.  I love that I can be the stricter and firmer parent at times, when John may be more soft or tender in other moments and how we can flip flop at just the right moment for the benefit of the kids.  That to me is just awesome how God designs that.  It's not by coincidence or a mistake, it's definitely providential.

I love the laughter we share as a couple and how we can tease each other and lighten the mood if a situation gets too serious or too tense.  God is always at work gifting us and balancing us.  And by us I mean all couples.

When I asked the question on facebook, What is your favorite thing about being married many of the answers were around this oneness answer.  "belonging to someone" "sharing life with my best friend" "being able to be myself with my spouse," are all part of the beauty of oneness.  I'm so thankful for it.


07 March 2014

Teaching Your Child How To Read Without Knowing It

Mark Is Reading

I have vowed that with Mark I would not push him as hard as I did Julia.  I was trying to teach Julia to read before she was 2.  We did TV programs like Your Baby Can Read, we bought Hooked on Phonics, we started homeschooling her at age 3 with curriculum and used How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons...and guess what it wasn't easy and she did not learn from any of those methods.

I was an over eager parent seeking to get her ahead of the game and be the poster child for reading at the age of _____! Whatever I thought would get me an award or a pat on the back I'm sure. Needless to say I got very frustrated.  Julia didn't start really reading until the end of last year (Kindergarten), and is now reading well as a First Grader.  What was the rush?

I think I was so determined to do it right with the first kid that I ended up doing it wrong.  So this post is really a post on what not to do and how by not doing any of what I did with Julia (of course I had good intentions) and just going with my gut with Mark.

Mark was not ready to homeschool at age 2 or 3.  He wouldn't write like Julia.  He wouldn't practice his words like Julia, and he didn't memorize like Julia.  And I didn't push it.  I wanted to, but I held back and let him enjoy circle time, reading book time, library time, etc.  I never made him do school unless he seemed like he was interested.

This year, oh my word.  I can not find enough curriculum to contain this kid.  We do school in shifts and Mark begs for his turn and wants to keep going and going and going, and mommy gets so tired.  He is only in pre-k doing Kindergarten reading and First grade Math.  And it has been all on his own.  He has wanted to and he has shown interest.  I can't tell you how many trips I've made to the teacher store buying him more books to keep him busy and satisfied.  He's like this learning sponge that won't be quenched.  It's a great problem to have.  So here is how I think it happened.

Read Books Daily and Visit Libraries Often

Family reading time is our favorite, that and eating ice cream and tickle fests.  Since the kids were in the womb we have read to them.  Even now with Micah at 8:00 pm, we sit on the floor with a pile of books and read to him.  He walks around the room sits on all of our laps and points to the books he likes and we all read.  There are always books that babies choose as their favorites and Micah has these two flap books that I literally have to read 5 times each and he keeps pointing and asking for "again".  

Mark and Julia are on to novels now.  Currently we are reading The Pilgrim's Progress for little kids and we read a chapter a night.  We do not skip a night or a word in the book.  They love it.  We also visit our public library at least once a week and sometimes twice because now Micah really loves going there!  Julia and Mark are allowed to go into the older preschool class by themselves.  Parents sit outside the door and wait for them.  The big kids love going and they love telling me what the theme of the day was and what books the teacher read to them.  I have found that the more I expose the kids to the library and reading they just want more and more books.


Since August we have filled up composition notebooks with journaling.  I bought the kind of book where there is space for a picture and then lines for words.  The kids LOVE journal time.  I started out the year by picking the topics but now they like to pick their own.  They draw a picture and then write sentences describing their topic.  I started out the year writing for them as they dictated to me but now Julia writes on her own, and Mark likes to do some words on his own.  The beauty of journaling is they are becoming their own writers, they are making up ideas, writing stories, and creating on their own.  They are broadening their vocabulary and using spelling words.  I can't wait to look back on these journals in a few years and smile at them.  They are works of art.  

Special Sounds

I believe Mark picked up reading just by exposing him to books, the library, and special sounds (Abeka curriculum)  For example ch is a special sound like in church, watch, chirp, and check.  We do flash cards 3 times a week and the kids take turns and love practicing.  We make a game out of it.  These special sounds help them to read not just one word but begin sounding out many other words they come into contact with.  I have found that constant practice and consistency has been my best friend.

Spell Everything

Some homeschoolers do not believe in taking the time to teach spelling words.  I am not one of them.  I want my kids to know how to spell and to build their vocabulary so we do spelling words each week.  We have completed our spelling curriculum for the year and we still review and practice and now make stories and write sentences from our spelling words.  Mark doesn't do spelling yet.  However, he will next year.  Mark is a spell-a-holic.  Every where we go he is spelling things for me, sounding things out, and reading signs, posts, bill boards, posters, cereal boxes, magazines, comics.  He loves to spell!  It can be very annoying though.  Sometimes we have to tell him it's time to eat right now we are not spelling!  He is so over zealous.  

I refuse to not feed this desire he has so instead of waiting til first grade to start spelling, my little happy kindergartner will do it next year!  I feel like, if he is ready, and he is willing and able, I will not hold back!

Just when I think my son and daughter are the smartest and most intelligent kids in the world they bring me right back down to earth.  Mark in the tub tonight told me when he grows up he is going to definitely be a super hero, it's a toss up between iron man or bat man....he thinks bat man because he gets the poison ivy lady.  It's times like that I remember they are normal kids, growing up like the rest of kids everywhere, happy to just be loved, alive, and learn and play.

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