30 June 2014

Team Mac's Beach Rules: Serious and Silly!

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Beach Rules...

Rule Number 1: Pack Light.  

There is no reason why you need toys galore, clothes galore or towels galore.  Pack a bucket per kid.  A shovel per kid.  A towel per kid.  And you are good to go.  We keep a change of clothes in the car at all times during the summer anyway so if a change is needed just keep in your trunk.  Gone are the days I could actually bring books to read or a kindle or a chair or a journal.  Julia brought at least 6 books, her journal, crayons, a pen and a pencil and I looked at her and said, "Julia...I love you...but those items are not leaving the car."  I had to carry Micah, the stroller and a thirty one bag...that was it!

Rule Number 2: Everyone MUST help. 

 This is just basic mommy survival skills talking here.  I gave the kids a pep talk before we even got to the beach.  I said, "Guys, mommy is super pregnant (I'm not sure what that means but it sounded important) and so I need you each to do your part if we are all going to have fun at the beach.  You each need to hold your bucket and your towel...and Mark you are going to hold Micah's bucket."  I never understood why parents are carrying 3 million things on the beach while their kids run ahead and have not a thing in their hands to help.  I'm teaching my kids now that we are a team and we all do our part.

Rule Number 3: Sugars and Salts are a must!  

Sorry to all of you health nuts out there, but in my opinion a beach day is a vacation day and on vacation you do not count calories.  I made sure we had lots of water and fruit at breakfast (watermelon, oranges, and grapes) but all the snacks I packed were granola bars, crackers, pretzels, etc.  The beach we go to has a huge food area which is totally covered so you can enjoy the shade and breeze.  I pack snacks but we order hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch so I don't bother with soggy sandwiches or eating sand.  I always pack a ton of fruit juices that may have sugar but after being in that hot sun we all need a little extra!

Rule Number 4: You splash your mom and you will get hurt!  

Okay, maybe not hurt! But watch out because mommy does not like to get wet at the beach unless it is my feet...it's a black woman thing I think bc my hair is my crown and glory.  Mark tried to splash me a couple of times and I just looked at him and said, "Mark...don't do it."  And he laughed and went back into the waves!

Rule Number 5: Ice cream is the last stop of every beach trip.  It's tradition!

We had to teach Daddy this rule.  Daddy does not like to spend money.  Daddy's pockets are sewed shut.  But we took him to the beach and me and the kids explained to him the importance of ending every beach trip with a treat at the ice cream shop across the street.  And...he...agreed!  Seriously, don't mess with a pregnancy craving...and don't mess with tradition!

Be calm and beach on!


Getting Away From It All...COTW

C. O. T. W.

Last August was our first experience at Camp of the Woods.  We went with a group of our friends that are more like family to us.  This year we had to go solo because our Amelia is due to arrive in August and so we switched our vacation week to this past June.

Canoe rides
Sand fun
Swimming in the lake
Camp fires at night
Quality time with Dad
All 3 meals every day together
Kids Club each morning and afternoon
Rock climbing
Mini golf
Shuffle board

The list of activities we did every day goes on and on.  We started each morning off at breakfast together.  Having all your meals cooked for you and warm and waiting when you arrive is such a blessing.  It is definitely a huge break from cooking and clean up for me.  And even though you have to walk to every meal, the family bonding and exercise is worth it.  After breakfast we would drop all the kids off to their classes...each child has their own classroom.  Mark was with the Kindergarteners, Julia was with the Second graders and Micah went to a different building just made for nursery kids ages 0-23 months.

Chapel each morning was taught by Rex Keener (each week the guest speaker/pastor is different) and it would be from 9:15-10:15 with worship included.  It was awesome to go to church for 6 days straight and get your spirit encouraged and filled.  Afterwards the big kids would go to Chapter 2 class, the ages were K-third grade and they would play games and hear another Bible story and make a craft.  The kids also memorized scripture!  We only had to pick up Micah from Nursery and we would head to the Tee Pee for coffee and sticky buns and John and I would talk about the chapel and what God was teaching us.

At noon we would pick up the kids and walk to the Purdy center for lunch.  After lunch we would either swim at the lake, play mini golf, hang out with friends, rock climb, go to the sports complex...there was SO much to choose from and do.  It was just great to always be together.  We never have quality time with John like that.

Heading to dinner around 5:30 and afterwards just relaxing by the camp fire, roasting marshmallows and talking to our neighbors while the kids played.  I was able to actually rest and take naps on this vacation while John would take the kids out to do fun things.  They LOVED quality time with Daddy.  He was really good about taking each child out one on one and spending special time with them.  On Tuesday morning at 5:30 am he took Mark canoeing and on Thursday morning at 5:30 am he took Julia.  They LOVED it!  The mountain air, the wild life, and the life skills John taught them will last in their memories for a long time I think.

We never made the kids nap so at bed time everyone was exhausted.  No one ever fussed about going to bed.  In fact sometimes they just climbed up to their bunk bed and passed out!  If you asked each of us what our favorite part of camp of the woods was, we would say, Julia: The Lake and the playground, Mark: Swimming in the Lake and rock climbing, Micah: The sand and the lake, John: Canoeing with the kids, and Tee Pee talks with me over coffee, and me....my top 3 favorites were: Chapel time (I took so many notes and felt so much closer to the Lord), having John's company at every meal, and watching my kids thoroughly enjoy themselves with new friends!

All in all it was a wonderful week long vacation.  The fresh mountain air, the beautiful scenery right outside our cabin, the chapels, the exercise of all the fun outdoor and indoor activities, and the delicious food that I didn't have to cook!  't was good for the mind, body, and soul for sure!  It was our last vacation as a party of 5...and now we wait patiently for our little miss amelia to arrive.  


27 June 2014

Guest Blogger: Suzette Ladouceur @ The Joy of Homemaking

Faith is Born

As a homeschooling mom, I have come to realize that the reason I homeschool is not only to give my children a high quality education, but to make sure the education the receive supplements what I am teaching them about faith in the God who created them and loves them even more than I do. 

Many times, what I teach them about God and His Word is not meant for me to see a result right away. It is just to give my children the foundation they need to hold their faith steady when tough times come.

As a young girl, my mother had us memorize Scripture on a weekly basis. 

It wasn't for some quiz that we were going to take later.
It wasn't so we could win every Sword Drill in Sunday school.

She taught us God's Word because she wanted us to have it close at hand when we needed it.

Will we always see the fruits of our labors? No. Our children may have a moment with God and we may never know about it.

But sometimes, God will give us a glimpse into how he is using the time we put into our children to give us the encouragement we need to keep pressing on.

We had a recent incident which showed me that the lessons that I teach my children about the Lord are taking hold, holding fast, and are building their faith.

I live in Florida, previously known as the Lightning Capital of the World (apparently Rwanda recently took the title away from us). When we haven't had rain for a few days, the heat dries up the brush and tall grasses and makes for a very dangerous situation when the summer thunderstorms roll in. 

On Memorial Day weekend this year, we had lightning strike the wooded lot across the street from us which caused a brush fire. (For reference, there is a dirt road and a retention pond between us and the lot so we were not in any danger this time, but it could have been a lot worse.) 

We called 911, my husband went across the street with a shovel, and the fire department arrived within five minutes of us making the call. Thankfully the fire never climbed the trees and the wind never carried the flames. Once the fire fighters arrived and began putting out the flames, God opened up the heavens, and it down-poured.

This was the first incident that my daughter (6 years old) has been old enough to be aware of. She did not understand that we were not in any danger.

She was terrified. 
She saw billowing smoke coming from the woods across the street. 
She knows that fire is dangerous. 
She knows that 911 is only called in the case of an emergency. 
She knew that Daddy was walking towards the fire to see if he could help control it before the fire department arrived.

She packed up her most precious belongings- her American Girl doll and all of its clothes, her favorite stuffed dog Taffy, and her new pair of swimming goggles- and was ready to evacuate. She came running outside with a look of pure terror on her facecarrying all of her stuff ready to leave, and she was reminding me not to forget my two year old who was napping. I had to hold her and tell her over and over again as she cried that everything was fine.

After it was all said and done, Addie came to me and said, "While the fire was still in the woods, before the firemen came, I went into my room, and I asked God to protect us. And he did!"

That is how faith is born.

Faith is not born in the number of verses memorized. Faith is born when we pull out God's Word and use it as the Sword of the Spirit that God has designed it to be to help us fight off temptation or to encourage us during the hard times.

Faith is not born in the amount of attendance pins you have on your lapel. Faith is born when you hear God speak to you in the quiet of your own home, and not just at church.

Faith is not born in the social gatherings and happenings at church. Faith is born when God uses someone at church to speak to you right where you need it, and they have no idea what a comfort they are being to you. 

Faith is not born in the number of prayers we have memorized. Faith is born when we cry out to God and see Him answer.

Faith is born when our children are able to take what we have taught them about God, apply it to their very own situation, and see God come through on their behalf.

For my daughter, faith was born when she called out to God and saw that He had protected her.

That is when faith is born.

Suzette is a childhood friend of mine!  We grew up at the same church for a few years before she moved down to Florida.  We recently reconnected and discovered many similarities in our family life.  She is a teacher by trade.  She is married with 2 children.  And she home schools both of her children.  Check out her blog at The Joy of Homemaking www.godlyrose.blogspot.com


23 June 2014

What Do You Look For In A Great Babysitter?

Abby Coyle, Junior at Liberty University

8 Things to Look for in a Great Babysitter!

1. Choose sitters who ENJOY what they do!

When you have babysitters that WANT to watch your children and LOVE what they do you will love paying them and your children will feel LOVED and CARED for.  Most of the babysitters we use are elementary education majors!  They absolutely love children, they love teaching, and they adore the little silly things kids do!

"I enjoy babysitting because kids aren't afraid to be themselves and aren't afraid to use their imagination--we have a lot to learn from children and their innocence."-- Abby Coyle

Hannah Coyle, Junior in High School

2. Choose sitters who want to learn more and have teachable spirits.

There is nothing sweeter than a babysitter who actually takes the time to listen to you and your requests.  I love paying a sitter that I know has listened to everything I asked of them and went above and beyond when they are in charge.  Have you ever had someone watch your kids who did the opposite of what you asked or left a mess afterwards?  For me, choosing a sitter is one of the most important things I consider because, after all, they are watching my precious babies.  I absolutely love when Hannah babysits, not only because my kids adore her (Mark my 5 year old would like to marry her) but because she really listens to my kids and explains things to my kids.  And Julia and Mark ask A LOT of questions.  Hannah pays close attention to details!  If I say, "Hannah they can't have any sweets."  She listens.  If I mention, "No liquids past 7pm." I know for a fact no one had juice after 7pm!

"I like babysitting because I love to spend time one on one with little kids, getting a glimpse into their world."--Hannah Coyle

Holly Terracciano, Early Childhood Education/Special Education Major at NJCU,  graduated college!

3. Choose a sitter who has a passion for fun and will NOT plop your kid in front of the TV the whole time!

All of my babysitters are HANDS ON!  They take the kids in the play room, the basement, outside, they do puzzles, read books, make crafts, the only time they put on a movie is if it is down time before bed or nap time.  I love that when I walk in the door I know my children PLAYED and had fun and they are always super tired after Holly visits!

"Kids are simple and often live in a state between the real world and imaginary world, therefore they say some of the funniest things causing me to erupt in laughter quite often."--Holly T.

Linda Rowan, Junior at Regent University, Education Major

4. Choose a sitter that you know is giving you their best.

Time is a very important thing to a mom!  And when a sitter is habitually late or not on time it can be a red flag.  I love that my sitters are ALWAYS on time, in fact Linda is always a few minutes early which allows me time to give her a run down before I head out the door!  When a babysitter gives you respect and shows up on time you know they are taking their job seriously and giving you their absolute best.

"Babysitting is fun because it gives you a chance to interact with kids and discover their adorable little personalities!" --Linda Rowan

Kimberly Lambertson, graduate of Messiah College, Major in Theater and Minor in Early Childhood Ed.

5. Choose a sitter that knows and loves your family.

John and I are VERY picky about who we allow in our home.  All of our babysitters are people we grew up with.  And oddly enough I went to church with all of their families and babysat most of my babysitters!  If I didn't babysit them, then I taught them in Sunday School class at church or youth group.  They are no longer just friends.  These girls are like our extended family.  All of them.  We love them all dearly and it is awesome to watch them grow as young women.  These young ladies all love our family as well and that love is felt by my children.  You can't ask for anything better than that in a sitter!!!

"I love to see how the different personalities of kids develop.  I find (most) children to be hilarious, and a lot of the time I'd rather hang out with kids instead of adults.  Children tend to be more blunt and honest, which I love."--Kim Lambertson (currently pursing her masters in elementary education through Liberty University online)

Bethany Lambertson,  graduated from Liberty University in Elementary Ed,  working on Masters at TCNJ

6. Choose a sitter that you can be proud of inside and outside of your home.

I think we all take choosing a babysitter seriously because we know even though they may only be with our child for a few hours once in awhile, they are still role models for our kids.  Our kids will look up to them and watch very carefully what they say and do and how they act around them.  I like to ask my kids questions after the babysitter leaves: What did you do?  Did you behave?  Did you have a good time?  Did you need to have a time out?  Were you in trouble at all?  I also like to hear their answers because it tells me how mature the babysitter is by the way they respond to situations.  It is very important to choose a babysitter that has a good reputation not only with your kids but in their community.  If they are considered a "wild child" or a "partier"  you might want to re-think if you want your child around them.  Something I love about all my babysitters is that they have awesome reputations in our home and outside in the real world!

"Babysitting helps me establish how to not only interact with children but how to connect with them, understand them and reach them as students."--Bethany L.

Becky Lambertson, Elementary ed graduate at Liberty Univ.  and earning her masters at TCNJ

7.  Choose a sitter that is going to be HONEST with you!  Trust is so important in any relationship.  Your babysitter needs to feel comfortable to tell you anything!  It isn't easy being honest about bad behavior or a fall or a possible "mishap" while you were gone, but you need to trust your sitter that she will tell you the truth.  Thankfully, I have never had an issue with honesty with my sitters.  They tell me exactly how everyone behaved even if it wasn't all good news.

"Babysitting allows for a person to make personal connection with children, in addition to learning how to properly communicate with parents, which are both vital aspects of teaching!"--Becky L.

Colleen Rowan, Junior, Education Major at Regent University

8. Choose a sitter who has a sense of humor!

Any parent knows that working with kids can be funny.  They burp, pass gas, and say the darndest things!  Your sitter needs to be able to not take themselves too seriously and laugh at the silly side of kids!  Hopefully your sitter isn't too intense or uptight.  Hopefully they enjoy hearing the same knock knock joke 50 times.  Hopefully, your sitter can smile if your child tells them that their hair is a mess!

"Babysitting is fun because it's never boring and always keeps you moving!"--Colleen Rowan

If you are interested in asking one of these babysitters to watch your children please email me at kristimac0601@gmail.com.  They are all absolutely amazing!  It is summertime and most of them are eager to babysit and make money for college!


20 June 2014

Hosting the Best BBQ

We LOVE Company!

My parents were the first in both their families to move to the suburbs.  Everyone else stayed in Staten Island, or Brooklyn, or the Bronx.  This meant we were one of the only families in our very large family of aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins to have a big backyard.  Most of our families lived in apartments and only had a small terrace.

So, that made our house the Entertaining house.  And I loved it!  I remember all my cousins coming over and hanging out in the basement, eating great food, playing board games, running around outside and having so much fun.

And my parents went ALL out for backyard BBQ's. I mean they must've spent a fortune in food!  They always played the best music, and everyone was always happy.  I never saw someone not smiling or laughing or dancing or not having a good time.

I give all my hostess credit to my parents.  I loved the way they entertained and once we moved out of our townhouse which had a minuscule backyard and moved into our Big House with a nice sized back yard I knew I wanted to have company!  Let me share some fun BBQ tips and tricks to a successful day of hosting the Best BBQ.

Be A Gracious Host

1. Set a time for your guests to arrive but be flexible if they arrive late.  Especially couples with kids who may have sports, or be caught in traffic, or just have a rough time of it being on time with little ones.  

2. Be sure to clean all the rooms of your home so that when company comes over and someone needs to take a nap in one of the bedrooms (small kids) or a mom needs to nurse a newborn you have a clean and neat space for them.  I will never forgive myself for the time I had a BBQ and I offered my room for the mom to nurse and later I saw I had laundry all over my bed!  I was so hung up on the food and the outside that I forgot the details.

3. Ask in advance if their are any allergies in the families that will be attending your BBQ.  In this day and age with peanut allergies, gluten-free, and milk allergies it is so important to plan your meal ahead of time and be prepared with dishes that everyone can eat.  There's nothing worse than seeing a guest of yours not eating because there's nothing they can have.  Remember to try to have a dish with no meat and no dairy for vegetarians.  I always try to have a pasta salad or a fruit salad because usually everyone can have those dishes!

4. If people offer to bring something say YES!  I used to always say, "Just bring yourselves!" because I didn't want to put anyone out.  And yet, I am the person who hates arriving empty handed!  So if your guests happen to ask what they can bring be honest and give them a side dish, a dessert, drinks, or a salad they can make.  People like to bring something because they know all the work it takes to host.  So, don't be afraid to accept their offer!

Plan in Advance

1. John and I always count the number of guests we are having and we make/buy more food than we need.  Have you ever been to a house where there was just enough food or not enough food?  It is uncomfortable for both the hostess and the guests.  I really try to have lots of side dishes because as the hostess my number one concern is to fill my guests stomachs!  I want them to eat to their hearts content and not feel like they can't have seconds.

2. We love to have back round music playing.  It creates a great mood for lively conversation and it just feels good to have good calm music in the background.  We love jazz music or norah jones, or corrine bailey ray.  

3. Remember to have appetizers, a meal, and a dessert planned.  Guests like to eat!  Eating is so much fun with friends.  If you want to focus on the meal then have your guests bring appetizer or dessert options.  If you like to bake then have your guests bring appetizers and a side dish.  Some great appetizers are cheese and crackers, (my mom used to make the best deviled eggs with paprika) chips and salsa, tomatoes and mozzarella, veggie platter, cheese and grapes or once I made these small meatballs with a raspberry glaze that everyone loved (I found the recipe in Real Simple magazine).  Appetizers are a great asset because as you are grilling and getting things situated your guests can still be happily munching away.

4. Have plenty of drink options, and ask your guests in advance if they are ok with you serving any type of alcohol.  Some people get very offended if alcohol is present and in that case it's best not to have it out.  If none of your guests mind then it is a non issue.  I love to have lemon water, iced tea, lemonade, sangria, sodas, etc.  I let John handle the beer and guy drinks.  And always have lots of water bottles around!  After dinner is over I like to put on a pot of coffee and ask if anyone wants coffee or tea with dessert.

Having a great BBQ is not only about the food and the drinks and music it is also about the conversations!  Keep topics light and really take time to LISTEN to your guests, this is a great time to get to know the people you invited.  Ask them questions about themselves and really really LISTEN. John is so much better at this than me.  Sometimes I get so hung up on the neatness and quality of the food and keeping all the kids happy that I forget to engage with my guests.  But the times that I do this is absolutely my favorite part.  We are people people and so having company over and getting to know them better really fill my social love tank up!

Enjoy all your BBQ's this summer!  I can't wait to host one in a few weeks!!!


18 June 2014

Restless Week 2

Study by Jennie Allen

Week 2

Words cannot express how much I am loving this Bible study with my mops friends.  Our group grows every week and this week it was so nice to have Cassie join us!

We started our time with Jennie Allen's video and what I like about her is her passion for God and the Bible.  She talked all about God's story and the men and women he used in His story: Abraham, Moses, David, the prophets, and how Christ entered the scene and how after Jesus died and rose again the disciples and then US.  We are all part of God's story and soon He is coming back for us!  How cool is that?!  And then she talked about how God used dreams and visions in the lives of his people so they would live out their story...the story He has planned for all of us...and there again she dropped the DREAM word and talked about the importance of dreaming.  She is definitely setting up the life of Joseph (the main person we will be studying in this book).

Hebrews 10:36-37

For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: For yet a little, while and He who is coming will come and will not tarry.

We all need endurance to run the race before us.  And God wants us to dream big.  Because when we dream we have hope and confidence that not only is He coming back but that we have a purpose and a huge part in HIS Awesome Story!

After the video we all went over our homework notes pages 36-54.  We discussed how the men and women in Hebrews 11 lived out their faith.  We talked about Moses, Abraham, Noah, Rahab, etc.  All of this regular people played HUGE parts in God's story.  Did you ever think to yourself, how they heck did they do it?  Faith and obedience! They believed God was real and they obeyed what He told them to do...it didn't matter if they were just regular common folk who made mistakes.  Look at Rahab!!! She was a prostitute and yet she believed in God enough to help those men and be part of God's story.  God can use anyone.  He does.  Everyday.  How awesome is that?  It's not about us...it's all about HIM.

We discussed questions like: 

What is the driving force of your life?

Who is God?

What does He want for me?

What are some mixed motives you need to deal with?

Have your motives ever stopped you from doing something you wanted to do for God?

Then we took time to share our own stories.  And we took time to pray.  And God, in his awesomeness, knitted our hearts closer together.  Like he always does.  And faith was born.  And friendships deepened.  And we left encouraged.  We prayed for our sisters who couldn't be there and we thanked God for all that He continues to do in our life.  How we are being shaped and molded by His great story.  


17 June 2014

Why New Experiences Are Great


I was so excited when Mark turned 5 this May because I knew this year he would be eligible to join Summer Quest at Timothy Christian School along with his big sister Julia.

Last year at gymnastics camp (we only did it one day a week) Mark had a VERY hard time leaving me.  I wasn't sure if it was because Micah was just born, or he is so shy, or he was overwhelmed, but every time I dropped him off there were tears, and I ended up walking to my car crying and calling my best friend Suzette to pray.

I knew that my kids needed to learn how to separate from mommy.  I knew that new experiences and challenges would make them stronger.

I just did not like pushing them to do something that was not comfortable for them.  Now, Julia, is a completely different story.  She tells me that she will miss me or that she is nervous to go, but she at least tries and makes a million friends in the process.  She doesn't let her fear paralyze her the way Mark sometimes does.  I know they both have different personalities and so I am working on helping both of them.

When we found out we were pregnant this year my first thought is what will I do during the summer when I will be SO pregnant????? I knew the big kids would need something fun and new and energetic this year so when I started seeing posts on Facebook about Summer Quest 2014 at Timothy Christian School I knew it would be AWESOME.

The Must Haves

First of all, it's at a christian environment.  That is very important to me!  I want my children to hear about Christ and be surrounded by His love wherever they go.  The first day of camp when Julia came home she goes, "Mom we prayed A LOT!"  It was so awesome to know that they are hearing about Jesus at camp and that the workers are people I've worked with and known and loved for years and years.

Second of all, it is pure fun!  At camp the kids get to sing, play at recess time, draw, create, do crafts, and go on Field Trips.  It is all about having fun and going outside to run and play.  We work hard during the school year so summer time HAS to be time for fun!!!

Lastly, they are together.  Julia and Mark ARE twins. At least they think they are.  At gymnastics camp they were separated by age and so they could not be together.  At Summer Quest all the kids are together.  However, they may break off into groups at times, but at least Mark can see Julia and feel comfortable.  He knows I am coming back for him.  He knows his sister is there and that she has his back.

The Skills 

By allowing your child to do something new and challenging them you are helping them to spread their wings!  I wasn't sure how Mark was going to do on that first day...I was scared.  I was apprehensive.  But John talked to him the night before and prayed with both of them.  We layed down our family rules and reminded them what we expected from them when they were there.

When I dropped Mark off his hands were in his pockets and he was quiet, but when I picked him up he was all smiles and telling me all about his day!  He loved it.  Of course Julia made 6 new girlfriends, two of which I met and loved, a little Indian girl named Critika and a Chinese girl named Chelsea...both first graders like Julia.  I love that Mark told me he didn't make friends that day, but that he still had fun and talked to the other kids.  (today he said he did make a friend, Aaron, I was so happy).

Children need to learn to be friendly, and social, and well behaved wherever they go!  Camp is a great place to practice all of those skills!  I am so excited for this summer adventure for them.  We still have the rest of this week and another week in July.

So far we love Summer Quest!!!!! Miss Ramunda and all the awesome helpers are so amazing with the kids.  They make sure everyone is having fun and feels accepted.  Thank you Becky and Bethany L. and Emma Sibilla and Sarah Hubler.  WE love you all!

16 June 2014

Disciplining My Kids

Raising Kids To Respect Authority

In our house it is very important to us to raise godly children who love and respect others.  It is also very important to us that our children respect authority and have courtesy and respect for all people.  Since our children could understand right from wrong we have used Time Out on our bottom step on the main floor of our home as our main form of discipline.

One of the sweetest things I remember about Julia and Mark when they were 1 and 2 1/2 is that when Julia would be put in time out on the step Mark would join her to keep her company.

Then we started to use the 1-2-3 method as they got to be around 3 years old.  First, give a warning and say that's 1.  Next time the behavior happens, you say "That's 2," and if it gets to "3" they get a consequence (lose a privilege, sit in time out, lose a beloved toy, etc).

Every child is different.  I don't think we had to use any form of discipline for Julia (She was such a good baby) until around 17-18 months.  Mark on the other hand once he got to be around 9-10 months old, if I said no about something (like no to going on the steps because I didn't want him to get hurt) he would look at me look at the steps, smile, and start to go right back to climbing.  I knew I had to start our time out routine a bit earlier with Mark.

Same with Micah.  Micah so far, has the strongest will of all.  He has thrown tantrums at home because he does not get his own way.  They are quick and short lived but I'm amazed at his will.  I have put him on his step at least 2 or 3 times already and he's only 14 months.  But what amazes me still is that he stays there.  He knows what is expected of him at this early age.  He's seen Mark and Julia be put on the step and he has even joined them as a sympathetic brother.

This is my advice for using these two methods of discipline.

Time Out Step

1. Make it age appropriate.  We have always kept our child on their step using the number of minutes to match their age.  Julia will sit for 6 minutes, Mark for 5 and Micah for 1 minute.  

2. Use it to prevent world war three with other siblings.

3. Use it to stop the negative behavior.

4. Do not lecture them while they are on the step.  Seriously, kids hate lectures, they tune them out, and the time should be used for calming down and thinking about better choices.

5. After the time is up, sit with your child, make sure you are at their level.  Remind them you love them. (I feel like they just always need to hear I love you even when they mess up).  Ask them why they did what they did.  Really listen.  Help them to problem solve for next time.  I usually say, "Oh, I see...so you screamed at your brother because you were really mad, what could you do next time instead of yelling?"  It validates their feelings and helps them to think and process out loud.

6. This is a great time to ask them to apologize to either you or the other sibling they offended.  

7. Always end this time with a hug or a kiss or words of affirmation.  For example, "I know you will make a better choice next time!" or "You are so sweet, I am really glad you apologized."

1-2-3 Then the Consequence

My friend Debi gave me two great DVDS and they were all about how to use this 1-2-3 method.  What I liked most about this method was that it warned the child (gave chances) about their behavior and gave them an opportunity to switch it up.  I also liked that it was consistent and the same every time so children could easily predict what would happen if they disobeyed.

I use this method a lot and usually we only got to number 2 and then the negative behavior stopped.  

For example, let's say the kids are in the backyard riding bikes on the deck (true story).  Child A bumps their bike into Child B.  Child B yells.  You can say to Child A: That's one.  They ride bikes around for a few more minutes and the same thing happens again.  You say: That's two.  The behavior stops.

Obviously you need to sit down with your children and explain the 1-2-3 method.  You tell them that if you get to #3 then xyz is going to happen.  That could mean they are grounded, they get a swat, they get a time out, they lose a toy, or whatever you and your family choose that works best for you.

I have learned that disciplining my kids and being consistent since they were little, although exhausting and tiring at times really has paid off.  We constantly get compliments when we are out from strangers about their good behavior in stores and restaurants.  We constantly see improvement in areas we are working on.  And although our kids are not perfect and will make mistakes, they know we love them deeply!


14 June 2014

8 Months Pregnant!

10 Weeks Til We Meet Amelia!

I am very excited to have this baby!  I feel very prepared.  However, I am in no rush for her to get here.  I think with every pregnancy towards the end I was like, "can I just meet them already?!"

And after having 3 kids, I am very very content to just carry this baby in my belly!  I know the minute she gets here life is going to drastically change (yet again!) and we will have lots of adjustments (and late night feedings) to make.  So for now sweet Amelia...keep growing, keep developing, and stay comfy and cozy in there!

This summer we are looking to sell our home, take our family on vacation, host some more BBQ's, and just enjoy the nice weather.  I'm most excited about bringing the kids to the beach in July.  It's our tradition to go once a week!  Do you think I can bring 3 kids to the beach, lug all of our stuff, and carry this baby belly!? I hope so!  We couldn't go last year because Micah was only a few months old and life was way too chaotic!

My goal the next two months is to really enjoy my kids.  I want to be present in each moment.  I want to listen to the big kids read, and enjoy our trips to the park and the library.  I want to watch Micah explore the sand and the ocean.  I want to eat ice cream with rainbow sprinkles.  I want to hold John's hand and watch the sun set and maybe put our feet in the hot tub.  Whatever we do, as long as I'm with my family, I'm pretty near perfectly happy!


13 June 2014

Our Father's Day Craft

Framed Love Notes

I saw this idea on pinterest and immediately LOVED it.  I love the black and white chalk board look!  I love that I was able to personalize each one for each kid to their Daddy.  And the best part was each frame was only $8 so it was quite an inexpensive gift! (which makes our daddy VERY happy)

The first thing we did was take a trip to the craft store to pick out the frames.  I envisioned the frames on my husband's wall at work and I liked black best.

Then I interviewed each kid (and for my 1 year old I just guessed!) and asked them: What is your favorite thing to do with Daddy?

Then we used chalk on black sturdy paper (not construction paper).  This paper pack cost $3.99 but the kids loved it because they were able to use chalk on it which shows up very nicely.

Since I have 3 kids I used pink chalk for Julia, blue chalk for Mark, and green chalk for Micah.

We finished the craft with hand made Father's Day cards!  We love you Daddy!


12 June 2014

Why is he the best dad?

Sometimes being the "first one" isn't always the easiest...

I love my dad for so many reasons but if I really think about why I am truly proud of my dad and what makes me admire the man that he is it would have to be how he always stood out in his family.

He was the first one to become President of his High School student council.  He was the first one to go to a University.  He was the first one to leave NY and move to NJ.

My dad always set his mind to achieving his goals.  He was such a well-rounded kid.  He did tap, played every sport possible (excelled in baseball and football, but he played basketball too), and he always did well in school.  He was so smart, and he still is.

My dad is a very quiet, shy person, but once you get to know him he is just the warmest, funniest guy around.  He makes all of us laugh!  My dad grew up with 2 brothers, but when he started his family he ended up with all girls.  Poor dad, we grew up in a house with one bathroom and four women!  Poor guy never had a chance in that room with all of us fixing our hair, doing our makeup and taking baths and showers!

Dad always made all of us feel loved and special.  Growing up he worked in the city at AVON.  He is an artist/graphic designer.  Before computers he did all his layouts for magazines BY HAND!  That's a lot of drawing/sketching.  He is truly talented.  I used to love pay day because he would come home on Friday with a special something for all of us.  I will never forget the bird that whistled, my glass peach, or the mirror that talked!  He loved shopping for us.

Most dads always put themselves last on the list.  They are the last to go to the bathroom, the last to get new shoes, and the last to eat at night.  I would always wonder why Dad never got new clothes or shoes, but now as a mom I understand.  He was always working very hard to provide for all of us.

The thing I admire the most about my dad is how faithful he is to my mom.  They have been married for 38 years and their marriage is truly a legacy of love.  It hasn't always been easy.  But they stuck it out and hung in there for the sake of their vows and the love of our family.

I also love how my dad moved all of us to New Jersey when all of our family was in Staten Island.  My parents wanted a better life for us.  And it meant a lot of sacrifice on their part.  They left the comforts of home to move to a safer neighborhood and better schools for us.  It was very hard for us at first because we were the first Black family to live on our block.  We were the only ones for a long time.  It was hard in Elementary school and Middle school too because I was usually the only Black girl in class.  But I saw where my parents grew up and I was thankful to be where we moved to.

Thank you Dad, for working hard, and being faithful and loyal to us for all these years.  I love you dearly!


11 June 2014


Because You Were Made For More...

For the next 8 weeks me and about 10 other women will be doing this Bible Study together.  I am so thankful for Danielle and Tabitha spear heading this and leading this study so that through the summer we can stay connected and grounded in the Lord.

Too often I get so busy making life wonderful for my kids that I save Bible devotion time for the evening and then by then...I'm too tired to read and study His Word.

This study will be SO good for us!  It's every week and we have HOMEWORK!  I get so excited about homework...I know I am a nerd.  But homework is awesome.  And this book has such great thinking questions that really causes you to pause and reflect, and dare to dream about what God has for you.  One of the questions we answered as a group today are what are your top 3 dreams for yourself.  This made us all really think!  That was hard!  And aren't we lucky?  We have the luxury to dream.  We don't have to worry about food on the table or wondering where we will sleep at night or how we will get from here to there.  We are so stinkin blessed in this country to have the luxury to have dreams.

What are your top 3 dreams?

1. I'd love to get my doctorate in education some day.
2. I'd love to be a well known speaker or author for women's ministry. (And in some way use it to bless other moms or young women)
3. I really want to see my children come to Christ at young ages and impact our world for His glory.

My three kiddies: Julia 6, Mark 5, Micah now1

What is my purpose?

1. To honor God with my life
2. Submit and love my husband John
3. Raise my kids to love God and serve Him, teach them the Word
4. Be a blessing in my neighborhood/community
5. Be committed to my church family

The author talked about in the book that many times we get so tired of "running our marked race" that we fall to the side of the road and just become a bystander.  We get hurt in the race, we get tired, we get numb, we forget why we are running, we may forget our purpose.  As moms, we get so hung up in the mundane every day "mom tasks" like cleaning, diaper changing, and cooking we essentially forget to dream, forget our purpose and maybe even stop running our race.

The four starting places

1. Comfortable- busy, surviving, somewhat content

2. Thirsty- You are hurt and longing for more

3. Running Free- You feel purpose and running full speed ahead in obedience

4. At the starting line- do you know God? do you have a relationship with him?

All I can say is this study is going to be awesome!!! I am so excited to see what God has in store for all of us.  Please feel free to grab your own copy of the book and read and learn and study along with us.  I will be posting after each meeting some of the main points and my thoughts!

I'm excited to Dream again and see all that God is going to reveal to all of us.


10 June 2014

The Dreaded Shots!

Well Visits

Some kids you can just prep and plan and know they will do fine at their well visit.

Other kids need no prep because if you prep them they will worry and have anxiety until the visit is over.

I believe in vaccinating my children.  I have done my own fair share of research over each one and I feel my pediatrician is on point, not out to get me, and wants what is best for my child.  It also helps that he is a father of 3 small boys and also vaccinates his sons.

However, I do not give my kids 4 shots at once, or allow the nurse to.  I space out our shots and if that means more trips for me, so be it.  I'd rather see how they respond to each vaccination and space them out.  It's what works for us as a family.

Mark is my tender, shy guy who witnessed his older sister getting her booster shot at 5.  He has NOT wanted to turn 5 for fear of this shot.  On today's visit, he did wonderful!  I did not prep him at all.  In fact my girl friend came over to babysit and he was wondering why he couldn't stay to play with her.  I told him we had to run a few errands together.

We did.  We went to the cleaners, the farmer's market, dunkin donuts, and then I told him our next stop was Dr. Shih's office.  He didn't seem worried at all.  My own heart was beating very fast.  I told him I couldn't wait to find out how tall he got this past year and how much he weighs now.  I kept it very positive.  Once we arrived and I filled out paperwork he started asking me, "Mom, am I going to get a shot?  I hope I don't get a shot mom."  "Mark, we will see what Dr. Shih says."

The visit went extremely well, he weighs 38lbs, he is 41 inches tall, he has 20 20 vision.  Dr. Shih was so surprised that he hadn't had to see Mark in a year.  (We have been very healthy; praise the Lord!)  He loved how chatty Mark was and I did too.  When it was time for us to visit the room and nurse with the shot he did tense up.  But he sat on my lap, chose the arm he would get the shot in and I had him practice squeezing my hand.

He cried for maybe 30 seconds.  After all, shots do pinch.  But he got stickers, lollipops for himself and his siblings and we were on our way!  So it looks like the less prep the better when it comes to Mark.  I'm so glad it's over.  We ended today at the Let's You frozen yogurt place...every brave child deserves a reward after getting a shot!


06 June 2014

The Case of the Sillies

Mommy wearing a clown nose!

Lighten Up

I have always wanted to be a fun mom.  You know the kind that is always smiling and has her kids cracking up and begging for more?  Unfortunately, once you have more than one kid it gets very complicated to have fun.  In order to have fun and be fun you have to be, well, relaxed.  And who, as a mom, is always relaxed?

I am one of those serious, goal-driven moms that needs beds made, dishes done, teeth brushed, floors swept, and kids dressed before 8 a.m.  (We wake up around 6:30 am in the Mac household).  I feel like the only time I'm not "on" is the moment John walks through the door in the evening.  And by then, seriously, I'm exhausted.

BUT--I am learning that I can still be a goal-driven mom and find moments throughout the day to "let my hair out" and be silly with the kids.  And they LOVE it!  They love when we do things out of the ordinary and shake things up.  Whether it be doing a silly dance, or singing a funny song, or just basically being a nut!

At one of our MOPS meetings this year (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) a bunch of moms shared what they do to lighten the mood so they don't get frustrated or explode or overreact.  You know those moments when you feel like you can't handle one more thing the kids do wrong, or you've picked up the same toy 40 times, or you have broken up a teasing match for the last time.  And my one friend says right around 5pm when everyone starts melting before dinner time and everyone is getting cranky she does a coffee dance/song and the kids love it and look forward to it.

I think when we realize that we don't have to take ourselves so seriously, when we stop a moment and look into their sweet faces, when we breathe and allow ourselves to relax, and we take time to just laugh and be silly with the kids they get to see the fun side.  They actually get to see that we are human too!  They learn that we can be a kid and have fun, and you know what, they relax, and breathe easier and can have fun too.  

One person I absolutely adore is Bill Weaver.  He is one of the silliest dads I know.  My kids love going to Uncle Bill's house because he does puppet shows for them, he wears wigs, he does voices, and he just lets them have fun.  His three children are awesome!  They all have such great senses of humor and when you are with them you just feel completely at ease.  Bill has taught me that taking time to be silly with my kids is a great investment of time, and you have to be intentional and think of fun ways to be silly.  If the moment is getting too serious or too intense for some reason do something to make them laugh.  It will make everyone feel better!


05 June 2014

Car Time: Making Good Use Of Your Time

10 Things To Talk About In The Car With Your Kids

1. Give them Right vs. Wrong scenarios.

2. Ask what they want to be when they grow up!

3. Ask them what qualities should they look for in the person they marry.

4. Ask them who the President is of the United States.  Pray for him and for all our government.

5. Ask, if you could change one thing about yourself what would it be? Why?

6. Ask them what they are afraid of and why.

7. Ask them who their best friend is or their favorite person to play with.  Why?

8. Create a goal with your child.  Ask them what they would like to accomplish this summer? (learn another language, read 100 books, plant a garden, learn to ride a bike, etc.)

9. Ask them how they can serve the people in their neighborhood/community.  Help them do it!

10. Pray for the people you see along the way or people that come to your mind.


04 June 2014

Why We Love DEAR Time

Drop Everything And Read

School is out.  Summer has begun.  But as a teacher by trade and a Mom who likes her children to succeed and grow and continue learning no matter the season, we will be reading every day this summer.

First of all, my kids love the library, they love books, and they love reading.  I wrote this exact post almost 3 years ago, and my son was only 2 at the time and my daughter was only 3.  I started bringing Julia to the library by the time she turned 6 months for the baby story time class.  I started bringing Marky when he was 4 months.  I think Micah was 2 weeks old the first time he went on his first trip to the library!

Now, reading is a whole new ball game!  Both of them are actually READING!  Julia started reading fluently this year in First Grade (technically she's a Kindergartner by age by I homeschooled her a year early because at 4 1/2 she was ready for Kindergarten material).  Mark started reading mid year and he is in Pre-K.  He just turned 5, 2 weeks ago.  

Before when we did DEAR time they were choosing books they loved hearing and reviewing the pages and reliving the stories by memory.  (A great starting point for babies and toddlers).  I will never forget picking up Julia from Sunday School class when she was 3 and hearing her teacher say, "Julia CAN read already?"  Julia was in the middle of the floor "reading" a book.  "Well," I answered, "Not quite, she's using her imagination, looking at the pages, and predicting what the story is about."  But because she was such an animated reader she even had the adults fooled!!!

Why Allotted Reading Time Works

1. My kids like to predict what they are doing next!  Since they know we do DEAR time 20 minutes before nap time, they grab their pile of books, maybe a pillow and get comfy on the rug or couch.  It's just part of our calm down routine in the afternoon.

2. Start kids young! Micah, who's only 1,  walks around during this reading time and listens to each big kid read.  He even joins them sometimes for a snuggle or he sits in my lap and wants me to read to him.

3. The kids can ask me how to pronounce words they don't know!  They are broadening their vocabulary by choice!  I just love it!

4. The kids ask me questions about the plot and characters or information they are reading.  It's like a school lesson without it being planned.  This past week Julia chose a human body book for kids and it showed how a baby grows and gets nourishment inside the mother's body, how it breathes, why it cries when it is born, etc.  Julia was amazed!  We talked about that for a lot during reading time and afterwards.  It was a great learning time for her.

5. Encourages the young ones to model the good reading they hear.  Mark is so determined to read Julia grade level books now!  He is pushing himself to read harder material because he sees her enjoyment of reading.

6. It gives parents (Moms) a time to read a magazine, a devotional, the Bible and model good reading to the kids.  Our kids should always see us learning more, and gaining knowledge.  We want them to see that reading and research and learning is a life skill, that it is important and that there is incredible value.  We have to model it!

7. It encourages my kids to want to read even more throughout the day because if they start a book they haven't finished they bring it to nap time and read it, or they wake up and want to finish it.  It cuts out "I'm bored!"  And it limits TV time.  We rarely watch tv during the day.  I want my kids playing outside, using their imagination, or reading, writing or coloring.  I don't want them in front of an IPAD or TV.  Seriously.  I don't.

How to Start it:

1. Grab some books for your kids.

2. Set the timer! We started at 10-15 minutes when they were 2 and 3, now we go for 20-30 minutes.  You know what your kids can handle.

3. Choose a cozy spot.  Add pillows, a favorite blanket or beach towel or find a soft rug.

4. Set some reading rules: Read quietly, Whisper read, After you finish a book start a new one, do not get up from your cozy spot, do not disturb your friends aka siblings, etc.

5. Model reading with them!

6. Try to do it at least once a day at the same time to start a routine!

Happy Reading!

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