31 August 2016

Start Them Young: Job Charts

Learning to be a Responsible

"The price of greatness is responsibility."--Winston Churchill
     I don't know if it is the teacher in me, or the fact that I grew up with week day and Saturday chores, but I completely believe in giving my kids jobs/roles around the house.  We don't call ourselves Team Mac for nothing!  How else do I teach my kids to be responsible?  I know so many other parents who agree with us.  Giving children jobs around the home while they are young is a good thing.  Of course they might not think so, but one day, looking back they will have to agree that learning to work hard is always beneficial.  No one intentionally raises lazy, entitled kids.

"Find joy in everything you choose to do.  Every job, relationship, home...it's your responsibility to love it or change it."  Chuck Palahniuk

    The difficulty with Job Charts and giving your kids responsibilities is being consistent with it.  I get all excited and ready to go every August, and then after a few weeks I find myself doing all the chores myself (because let's face it, sometimes it's just easier to do it yourself) and completely putting the lists aside.  I have found what helps is accountability with your spouse and your kids.  Have a quick family meeting talking about why these new jobs/roles are important and then (for the older kids) give them a list to keep in their room to remind them.  The kids can tape it to the back of their bedroom door or their desk so they don't lose it (with that cool colorful tape they have now!)  Also, start small, give your child 1-2 new jobs per week and once you have a good rhythm going then add another.

"Quit making excuses.  Putting it off.  Complaining about it.  Dreaming about it.  Whining about it.  Crying about it.  Believing you can't.  Worrying if you can.  Waiting until you are older.  Make a plan & just do it." -Nike

  Some jobs/roles I find important to start with first are in the kids bedrooms.  Making their beds in the morning and cleaning up their toys before bedtime should become daily habits.  Then move to the common areas like the kitchen, dining room, and bathrooms.  

We have 4 kids so here are their ages and the jobs they are able to handle.  Sometimes seeing what another kid the same age as your own really helps.  I was recently at a women's conference and the speaker was listing jobs her kids did and it was very convicting to me and eye opening because I had become very slack in this area.

Julia is 8 years old: Makes her bed, cleans the kids bathroom (puts away toothpaste/toothbrushes, replaces toilet paper rolls, wipes down the counter, uses the dust buster to vacuum), Julia also knows how to sort laundry and fold laundry, she clears the dinner table and empties the dishwasher at nighttime, she also watches the kids when I am in the shower or when the kids are in the back yard playing, and she feeds the chickens.

Mark is 7 years old: Makes his bed, collects all the trash from the bins in each room, brings trash to the curb, sets the table, clears the table, sweeps dining room floor, feeds the chickens, and Mark folds the laundry (THE BEST) and puts the laundry on everyone's bed for me.  Mark also watches the babies when I take a shower.

Micah is 3 years old: Learning to make his bed, he puts away his shoes inside the closet, puts dirty clothes in the hamper, puts the napkins and silverware on the dinner table.

Amelia is 2 years old: We sing the clean up song and she puts her toys away, Puts clothes in the washer machine (front loader), she also is going to put cups on the dinner table starting this week

"It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do."--Moliere

  One of the major reasons I am writing the post is to get myself back into the groove of holding my own kids accountable for their responsibilities in the home.  I figure if I am taking the time to write about it, I need to actually do it consistently!  And after writing this I realized how lax I have become with Micah and Amelia.  Julia and Mark were doing so much more at their ages and I really needed to step it up with the little ones!  

Quick Recap:

1. Family Meeting
2. Give 1-2 Age Appropriate Jobs
3. Print a List and tape to the back of their bedroom door
4. Be consistent 
5. Once a rhythm is established add another job

Awesome Responsibility Quotes Link

Age Appropriate Jobs For Kids Link


29 August 2016

Fall Meal Plan 101

Five Quick Tips To Make Meal Planning A Cinch!

1. Buy a large desk top calendar from Staples 

For some reason this was a game changer for me!  Having a large calendar hung up in our laundry room close to the pantry listing all of our meals has been super helpful.  I can check to see what meals are coming up and easily jot down what ingredients I need to pick up at the store, and what ingredients I already have I can pull out the night before or day of and keep on the counter.  It's really helpful to have your meals planned at least one week ahead of time so that you can remember to thaw the meat, pick up last minute ingredients or prep any sauces you may need.  Having this large calendar posted near the kitchen is just a helpful reminder and also keeps you on track with making healthy, well balanced meals as opposed to constant take out meals, or fast food, or meals that are carbohydrate heavy.

2. Take out your go to recipe binder/basket or google some new recipes you want to try!

When I am in meal planning mode for the month (or week) I like to look through my recipe basket and pull recipes I haven't used in awhile.  I also enjoy trying a few new recipes to keep John on his toes, and just because I actually enjoy cooking when I have everything ahead of time.  Nothing is worse than looking for a meal last minute and then having to run to the store with all the kids to pick up only 1 or 2 things that you need.  I just like that feeling of not being rushed or hurried when I cook.  I also keep binders of previous years that I have planned out the whole month and it helps to see what meals worked or what dishes were in season during Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall.  I also love looking for new recipes in the Real Simple magazine or on The Pioneer Woman website.

3. Ask the people in your home for their 2-3 favorite meals

One way to get some dishes/meal ideas is to ask the people in your home!  In my house John loves Chicken Francaise, Julia loves Shepherd's Pie, Mark enjoys spaghetti and meatballs, Micah really likes raw veggies and guacamole or salad with tortellini, Amelia loves the  spinach quiche I make!  I try to use those ideas at least once throughout the month and that's 5 meals right there!  Everyone isn't going to be happy every night but at least there will be a few times that you cook their particular favorite meal.  I also like to keep those particular meals on the rotation at the beginning of the month.   At every meal I like to have a protein, a salad and a small carb, and a fruit.  Sometimes I can't get Micah to eat anything but a yogurt and an apple or a banana but at least he ate something!

4. Choose one day a week to food shop!

I hate food shopping.  I try to have a good attitude about it but I just don't enjoy it at all.  I try to make it as painless as possible so once a week is enough for me.  Monday is usually the day I go, and John does Costco on Saturday for me to get all the bulk items like paper towels, granola bars (he has a problem) diapers, wipes, toilet paper, etc.  When you meal plan ahead of time food shopping is so much easier because you get everything you need for the entire week!  And you save money not stopping at the store throughout the week buying unnecessary things every time you go.

5. Choose a day on the weekend to cook 2-3 meals to get the week started off right and the freezer/fridge packed!

Saturday and Sunday I try to start prepping for the next week's meals.  If I know we are having spaghetti or red sauce I make a huge pot of it ahead of time and freeze it.  If I know we are having grilled chicken or chicken thighs I season them ahead of time and let them marinate in a large ziplock bag.  Soups and chilis freeze really nicely and can easily be prepped by chopping all the vegetables and then cooked in a crock pot.  I like to cook bigger meals for Monday-Wednesday and let Thursday (Our Awana night) be left over/buffet night and Friday can be an easy meal like homemade whole wheat pizza or baked salmon and salad.

A link to my Recipe Binder


26 August 2016

Our Fourth and Final

Amelia Susanna

God knows best and He certainly is in control.  He thought it right and good for us to have our sweet Amelia as the last of our team members and she is a fire cracker kid for sure.

I don't think we have any children that don't have a ton of spunk and personality, and that suits me just fine.  To think I am going to live a happy life holding John's hand, sipping  sweetened tea with ice cubes on our front porch in a rocking chair saying, "No!" and "Stop that!" While the kids run about and chase the chickens...I'm pretty ok with that.

As long as our dining room smells like hydrangeas and our hard wood floors are swept I will have lived a full life knowing that God wanted my quiver full and my heart fuller.

You can't plan everything.  Some things are out of your plan and in God's hands, and those are the things you thank Him for later, not knowing how valuable they are or how much you needed them at the time.  Some times God uses our children to teach us things we would never have been able to learn without them.  Some times he stretches us, refines us, and pushes us further than we ever could have gone, making us stronger all the way.

I clearly remember begging John for another baby after Mark turned 2 and Julia was 3.  I felt like someone was missing from our family.  It was the strangest feeling.  I didn't feel complete at all.  Life was just as busy then as it is now, except now I have an 8 year old chasing the 7 year old, and the 3 year old chasing the 2 year old.

So often our prayers consist of making our lives easier, instead of prayers of thanksgiving for the difficult things.  I have learned in all things to be thankful.  I have learned that what I may think is easy may not be what is good for me.  I have learned that by having 4 kids my prayer life and my NEED for God is that much greater.  He has me right where I need to be.  I get to be a mom who struggles to balance all of the goings on of life.  But I get to be a mom, and for now that has been such a gift.

Our Amelia was the biggest shock of our lives.  We didn't know how much we needed her.  She truly completes us and evens us all out.  We feel really blessed to have two beautiful daughters and two handsome sons and our biggest job right now is to point them all the to the One in which we are eternally grateful for.  My prayer for all of my kids has always been to come to know Christ at an early age, to have a soft heart towards God, to make wise choices when choosing friends, and to marry spouses that love God as much as they love my kids.

Happiest Birthday sweet Amelia!  We are so happy you are here and that you were born!  I am pretty sure 2 is going to be another fabulous year getting to know you better and I know you will teach us something new about ourselves that we never knew.

Two looks really good on you sweet thing!


21 August 2016

Made for More

What is my purpose?

Why am I here?

Is this all that there is?

When I had a job as a teacher I felt like I was making a huge difference.  I loved my students, I felt my gifts and talents were being used well, and I could see the impact I had on my students from September to June.  I was in my 20s and feeling really excited for my career,  my marriage, and all that life had in store for us.

Now 10 years later, things have definitely changed.  There are days I love being a stay at home mom, and there are other days when I feel like my greatest accomplishment of a homemade turkey chili just isn't enough.  I enjoy the hard work of keeping a home, the managing of the kids, the schedules, the cooking and cleaning, but sometimes I get to thinking...is this all that there is for me?  Is there more?  I feel like I have been given certain talents and I feel like maybe what I am doing is not what I am supposed to be doing, or wondering if it is enough?

Do you ever feel like your hard work in school, in college or in graduate school is not being fully realized in your day to day tasks?

Do you ever feel like what you do at home doesn't matter?

Do you feel over worked and unappreciated?

Is it sometimes hard to be thankful or grateful for the season of life that you are in?

Do you feel like you were made to do something else, something more, something that has real value, something that matters?

If I am being completely honest sometimes I have felt that way.  Sometimes I have felt like my Masters Degree was for nothing because all I did that day was nurse a baby or change diapers or make 3 meals and clean the kitchen and dining room all day.  Sometimes it feels like all the hard work and planning and teaching of my kids goes unnoticed and unappreciated (even though in my heart of hearts I know that my role as a wife and a mother is super valuable).

That's why, when our women's retreat leader, Sarah M. gave us all a copy of the book by Hannah Anderson, Made for More, I couldn't wait to read it.  But you know how it goes, you hear about a good book, you may even buy it, and then you never make time to read it.  This summer I made it a point to gather a group of my MOPS mom friends we met every Tuesday night in July and we finished the book.  

The book was a great reminder that we are made in God's image and we are to reflect that image and be His image bearers.  That all sounds very lofty but how do we actually live that out in our daily lives?

Made for More by Hannah Anderson link.

Some of my favorite points and Bible verses in the book were:
Romans 11: 36 "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things."  

So basically, God created everything! He said it and it was so.  He spoke and created light, people, animals, the earth, the water, the galaxies.  He created us in His image.  And it was good.  All of it.  Everything He made had a purpose.  To know who we are and why we are here we have to know Him, our creator.  I think it's just pretty cool to know that He wants us to know Him.  We all are created with that void that longing to have answers, that longing to know why we are here, that longing to know our maker.

I like how in the book she states, "Good times can initiate the search for identity as often as bad.  When we finally get that new job or finish that graduate degree, when we meet that someone we've been waiting to spend the rest of our life with; when the babies come and we're able to nurture our hopes and dreams with them.....we begin to feel detached and distant, outsiders looking in our own lives.  And the things that we once looked to for stability and identity begin to feel like burdens and obligations instead of blessings."  

Wow........it gave permission for me to be normal to feel not so bad about my questioning for identity in the midst of so much blessing.  I mean what more could I ask for?  I have a spouse, a home, 4 healthy kids, what on earth could I be questioning or searching for...but sometimes you may just feel alone or lost or forget who you really are and you just need to remember who you truly belong to.
 "We need something...someone...Divine."  

And the truth, that search for truth and wisdom really does set you free!  When you find truth in your Maker and get your worth from Him, He makes you feel whole again.  And no one can take that away.

 "He's the kind of God who welcomes our questions, who can wrestle with us through the confusion and still bless us in the process."   

As a new/young believer and follower of Christ I did things just because I was told to.  I believed everything and didn't question.  I had child like faith.  But as we get older and our minds expand and grow.  As we experience more of life and what it has to offer we do start to question more.  I see this in my children for sure.  And I love that it is okay with God.  We are free to dialogue and question and search.  And He is always there to guide us and give us answers when we are seeking after Him.

 "Faith does not pretend that it is easy to believe what God reveals about Himself.  Faith does not push aside or deny the difficulties.  Faith simply commits to taking the questions back to Him and believes that He will have the answers."  
And He does.  God has never failed me.  He may make me wait a long time.  But I have indeed learned that His timing is perfect and He gives me what I need not what I always want.  
But Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
No islands.  "No man is an island entire of itself.  Every man is a piece of the continent, part of the main."--John Donne  "So finding identity as image bearers means learning to live in relationship with other human beings."
So after God created man, right away he creates Eve because it was not good that man should be alone.  We are fully formed, equal image bearers but we are different from each other and therefore dependent on each other.  I liked this being pointed out because it proves that none of us can fully reflect God all on our own.  We find our identity together with other people.  This also just makes life a little bit more complex though, doesn't it?

 "Being an image bearer also means we are made to live in dependent communion with God."
 We all have that God shaped hole in our life.  The part of us that can only be filled with God.  We need Him and He wants all of us.  God does not want us to be robots.  He gives us free will.  But He does want our very selves.  And so often I think we give God our leftovers.  

I feel so guilty at times when I struggle to make 10 minutes to read the Bible and pray when I spend that same amount of time scrolling through Facebook.  So often I make other things the priority than giving God ALL of me.  Even doing this book study was a huge commitment.  I had to read ahead of time, write notes for my group and then prepare what I was going to say each night.  And it was only 4 weeks!  But I got so much out of it.  

We get such a blessing when we take time to give God our time.  When we take time to be with God, and learn from Him, and open up our hearts to hear what He is saying to us.  We are so dependent on Him and yet we often times do things in our own strength and feel very empty and unfulfilled because we forget who is really in control.

"Being fully alive means knowing yourself, God's image will radiate through your life, you will see who you are, you will see what you are to do!"  
 The more we get to know who God is the more he reveals to us who we are and what we are to do to bring glory to Him.  It's kind of amazing how it all works and how God designed it to work.  But He's God so of course He's amazing and His ways are amazing.

 "If you are honest, brokenness is part of your identity as well.  There is a division, a split personality, a longstanding identity crisis rooted in what you were made to be and what you actually are."  Romans 3: 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...
For me this is as plain as day to see.  Whenever I don't act in a way that brings glory to God.  Whenever I don't reflect His image of perfection, I am sinning.  Or to say it the other way, when I sin I am not reflecting His image.  This just shows how much we need Him. This is why He sent His son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins so that are sins would be washed and made white as snow.  I am so thankful for Jesus and His sacrifice for me.  I don't deserve it.  His grace was extending to me a sinner.

 "The paradox of personal identity is that once we accept that we are not what we should be, we are finally in a place to be made what we could be.  Once we acknowledge that we are dead apart from God, we are finally able to live in Him."
We are given new life in Christ when we accept Him as Lord over our life.   And the new life is not perfected right away.  We have a life time of learning and growing and becoming more like Him.  

Hannah Anderson says, "You will finally become someone who can embrace your unique identity in order to display the richness of His glory in order to love Him and serve others with humility and grace."

The world says we don't have much worth.  The world says unless we make a certain amount of money or drive a certain car, or have a certain degree or weigh a certain number or are a certain gender, race, or age we don't matter.  That is not what God says.  He made the races.  He made man and woman.  He knows how many hairs are on our heads.  He knitted us in our mother's wombs.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made.  We have so much value and worth that He sent His only son to die for us so that we can live a life that brings Him glory.  He has a purpose and a plan and even when things seem crazy or out of control. 

I completely enjoyed this book because it reminded me of so many truths I knew but really needed to hear again.  It made me remember who I am in Christ.  It made me thankful for the way God created us and His amazing plan of redemption for us through His son Jesus.  It made me realize that we are all broken and we all need Him.  And it reminded me to stay close to Him, to grow, to question, to ask for wisdom to change where there may be sin in my life, so that I can be a blessing to my husband, my kids, and the people in my life.

It reminded me that yes, right now I am a busy mom of 4, but God is using this precious time to mold and shape and make me into the woman He wants me to be.  He created me for good works (Ephesians 2:10) and the path He has laid out before me, although it may be winding or rocky at times, He is walking beside me.  He is guiding me and giving me wisdom.  He is not wasting my talents and gifts or my time.  He is refining and using them in new ways.  He has an amazing way of making all things new.  

I need to trust Him with all of my heart, and lean not on my own understanding.  I need to put Him first and He will be faithful to direct my paths and point me to the next thing, the next turn, the next thing He has made me for.  He has placed people in my path on purpose.  People who I will need and vice versa.  There are no coincidences!  Everything has been ordained by God.  All the details of my life and your life were created by Him and He knows us the best and He loves us.  How fantastic is that and how grateful and humbled we should be!


15 August 2016

The Mother in Law

Ruth 1: 16
But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 
I can't get this passage out of my mind today.  It is my Mother in Law's birthday today.  And to me she is just about the sweetest person to walk the planet.  I know that for everyone this isn't always so.  Sometimes mother in laws can be difficult, you can feel threatened by them or irritated, they can step on your toes or be too pushy, they can make you feel very small.  But Judy McInerney is not one of them.

When we first started to have children I was very insecure.  I didn't know anything about raising kids except from the information in books that I read, I was worried all the time I was doing things wrong, I felt like everyone was telling me what to do, and I just was an insecure hot mess.  I took out a lot of my anger and frustration and insecurity (and sleep deprivation) on the people I loved the most, and sadly one of those people was my Mother in law.  She was always good to me and I was hard to be around those first few years as a new mom.  Thankfully, we resolved things, got closer and moved on.  I think that the verse in Ruth reminds me that God wants us to be close to our family members, especially our in laws!  Those relationships can be so special if we develop them and really put forth the effort.  

My Mom is so good to us.  She loves her son John, she loves her daughter Laurie and she is very generous with her time and love and she is very fair.  She goes out of her way to make us all feel special.  And what speaks to me the most is that whenever I truly need her she is right there on my door step with a bottle of water in her hand and ready to help in any way that she can.

My Mom is not the type of woman that doesn't like to get dirty.  Don't get me wrong she is very lady like and loves to dress up but she also comes over with her jeans on and gets right on the floor with the kids and builds with them, she takes them for walks around the neighborhood or just plays in the backyard (even when it's really hot!)  She doesn't make you feel bad when she does stuff either.  She just does it.  

If I have a doctor's appointment or an errand to run that I can't take the kids she comes over, she babysits, fold my laundry, cleans my kitchen, tidies up after the kids, it's such a blessing.  And there have been many times that Laurie, my sister in law needs her the same day I do, she just comes to me first or vice versa and then leaves and goes there.  Her "retirement" is not retiring at all.  She is just as busy as ever and we appreciate her so.

Something I truly admire about my Mom is her sweet and humble faith.  She goes to church every Sunday by herself.  She puts God first.  She is honest.  She is kind.  You will never catch her saying a bad thing about anyone, even if there are really bad things about them!  She won't even say anything bad about people she doesn't agree with, she will just say, "They aren't very nice!" That's about it.  

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” ― C.S. LewisMere Christianity
Happy Birthday, Mom!!! I'm so glad we have you and that we are close.  You mean the world to us.  We love you!


10 August 2016

Through Their Eyes

In the midst of the hard parts of parenthood, take time to enjoy things through their eyes...

I shared earlier this week through an Instagram post that people often say to me, "How in the world do you take all 4 kids to _________" (the beach, the park, the library, food shopping, the dentist, the mall, shoe shopping).  My answer is always the same, "I just do it.  I have to!"  If I didn't just take all of them then we wouldn't do anything.  We would just be couch potatoes.  And I don't want to live like that.  I don't want to live in fear of doing things just because they might be hard.  To me, it's a "good" hard.  Meaning, although it's tiring, sometimes frustrating, and usually difficult I would still rather spend time with my kids and go on our mini adventures not only to create memories but because I enjoy them and I want to be with them.

Have you ever taken your kids somewhere and looked at what they were looking at and realized just how cool or fun or amazing something was that typically was no big deal?  For example, we recently took our kids to a photo shoot at Sayen Gardens in Hamilton...between takes the kids could not stop looking at the pond because they could see fish and frogs and turtle inside the pond.  It was really annoying because we needed to get the pictures done before we all melted (it was already 90 degrees at 8:30 am that morning).  But finally I walked over and peered into the pond and saw the big gold fish, I heard the loud ribbit of the toad and I could see the turtle swimming in the water and it really was amazing watching it all...no wonder they could care less about standing still and smiling for a photo.  Seeing things through a kid's perspective is so cool.  Everything is larger than life and new and amazing.  Nothing is dull or ordinary.

Today we took our 4 kids to Sesame Place for the first time.  This place was AMAZING.  The water rides, the parade of Sesame Street characters, the lollipops we bought, the Elmo the Musical show we watched, the rides we went on.  Everything was brightly colored and happy.  I felt like I was at Sesame Street!  I loved seeing John go with all the kids on the huge raft ride and seeing Micah giggle with delight on the Oscar the grouch rides, and I really loved just seeing the joy on Julia and Mark's faces when they were lifted off the ground like 10-15 feet in the air for the swing ride.  No wonder nobody wanted to leave.

Don't get me wrong, not every outing is a magical Sesame Place experience.  The day before we were at the beach and we almost lost Julia in the strong waves as the tide was coming in.  Micah started screaming because a seagull stole his grape.  The waves washed so far up it covered our entire blanket, sheets and towels, every time we called the kids to come in Mark would go deeper into the ocean.  Amelia decided that that particular day would be the day that she had no fear and she would go right into the crazy waves.  It was a literal 20 minute nightmare!  John looked at me and goes, "How do you bring them here by yourself???"  Honestly, it was never that bad before and most times Micah and Mia just stay close to me and play in the sand.  I think they were all so excited Daddy was home on a Monday that the giddiness got a bit dangerous.  But even that chaos...I enjoyed our time there.  We never get John all to ourselves.  I wasn't going to let anything ruin our day.  Sometimes in the midst of the chaos I just give myself pep talks, "I can do this."  "They are only going to be this little once."  "I want them to love time spent with their family."

A Few Tips When You Are Out

1. Remind your kids you expect EXCELLENT behavior, but know that they aren't going to be perfect.

2. Having a window of fun planned and then a window of down time for EVERYBODY is key.  Kids act like they can handle hours and hours of fun but really after 2-3 hours we all need a rest.

3.  When melt downs/tantrums start to happen its usually a sign to wrap it up. But sometimes a lollipop or a special snack (blueberries, grapes, watermelon) can turn it all around!

4. Always pack extra snacks!!! You just never know if you are going to need them! 

5. Try to make everything a teachable moment, whether it's social skills, or patient skills, or educational.  When you are out try to talk things out with your kids (even speaking to kids on a higher level helps them to rise to the occasion and act better).  Allow them to take part in whatever you are doing!

The Days are Long but the Years are Short

I have promised myself that in the midst of the hard parts of parenting that I will stop and take time to enjoy these moments.  Too many older people have told me that this doesn't last forever, that soon they will grow up, soon the house will be empty, soon I will get the complete sleep I need, soon there won't be finger prints on everything, soon they won't be this needy, BUT while they still do...enjoy it! 

I will enjoy this time. 

I will go on the rides at Sesame Place.  

I will sing through the aisles of Wegmans while food shopping.  

I will pray in the car when we see an ambulance (that's what my son Mark always asks me to do).  

I will read 3 million stories at bedtime for Amelia.  

I will have girl time with Julia and paint her toe nails blue.

I will play hide and seek with Micah even though it might be the first time I've sat down all day.

And I will hug their Daddy in front of all of them even though they all say, "EWWWWW!"

This time...this season will go quickly and I want to see things through their eyes.  I don't want to regret one moment of being their mommy.  


08 August 2016

A Few Marriage Secrets

The Secret to Our Success

*Jesus-He is our foundation!

*The second best secret about us is that when things get tough we run to each other for support.  We talk things out.  We tell each other how we feel really feel and we try to be each one's biggest fan with whatever that person is mastering.

*Intimacy is a huge priority!  We still go out on dates, we make alone time a necessity.  No matter how busy John is or how tired I am after being with 4 kids all day, we are always trying to reconnect and enjoy each other.

*We seriously love each other's company.  I love to hear how John's day was at work and how his mind works and John is always trying to make me smile.  He is constantly surprising me and doing things to make me feel special.

*When we speak about each other it is always in a positive light/tone.  We don't go around bad-mouthing each other or putting each other down.  I love that verse in Proverbs 31 that talks about how  "her husband is known in the city gates,"  well he is known in the city gates because of how well she spoke about him, his wife cherished him and she probably let everyone know how awesome he was.  (I love that!)

*During our pre-marital counseling our Pastor told us how important it was to get away at least once a year (if you can) for a night or a few days just to reconnect and be alone and this has always been a huge priority for us!  Never stop dating your spouse!

Happy Anniversary to my hubby!

Thirteen years and it has really been amazing being married to you.

August 8, 2003 is still my favorite day!


06 August 2016

My M. V. P. (Empowering Your Firstborn)

Empowering Your Firstborn

This girl right here is my right hand.  She always has been.  From 17 months old the moment she became a big sister to Mark, she would help bring me diapers, bring me wipes, get his pacifier, cuddle him and say, "Don't cry baby."  At two years old she learned how to help me with the laundry and put the wet clothes into the front loading dryer.  At 3 years old she was making her own big girl bed.  At 4 years old she was setting the dinner table.  At 5 years old she was "making breakfast" for everyone by getting out the cereal bowls, washing the fruit, cutting bananas, peeling hard boiled eggs.  Julia now pushes strollers for me, holds hands of Micah or Amelia, she does Circle Time with her siblings and teaches them songs, reads books, plays games.  You name it, she does it.  And I am beyond thankful.

It seems as if this is  just the girl she has always been.  Julia is a born leader.  She is outgoing.  She's smart, she's creative, she's confident and she can be sassy. But life at the McInerney household wouldn't run quite as well without her help and spunk and leadership.  I appreciate her in so many ways and all too often I forget to tell her just how much she means to me.  (I will be reading this post to her by the way so that she knows!)

But I am going to do something I don't often do...I am going to give myself some credit here.  Julia is the girl that she is because of the home that she lives in.  She wasn't raised to sit around and watch t.v. all day or play video games.  Don't get me wrong, she likes t.v. and she loves using the IPad.  But Julia is a doer!  None of us sit still in our home very long.  We like to have a job, a mission, a purpose.  Julia wakes up (like all the other mac kids) she hits the ground running.  "What are we doing today mom?  Where are we going?"  My favorite question that Julia asks, "What can I do to help you mom?"

It is one of my top goals for all my kids to have soft hearts towards God, be respectful to authority, be kind to your neighbors, and to be confident and strong!  I want to empower my kids to really become the person God wants them to be.  I want them to find out what they are good at and work hard at it.  I want them to know that they are special and that God has a purpose for them.  I grew up feeling like such an ugly duckling for so long.  It took me awhile to feel comfortable in my own skin.  I was a hard worker, I loved the Lord, but I didn't know what I was good at or who I wanted to be.  I think it needs to start at home.  As parents, we need to set the tone for our kids.

I think it is important for kids to hear they are smart, they are beautiful, and that they do have a purpose.  I am currently looking to surprise Julia one morning and have her mirror in her bedroom completely decorated with sticky notes that tell her just how amazing she is!  I want to include Bible verses, quotes, and just plain: Mommy loves you! You are awesome!  You can do this!  The more I encourage her, the more we can build our kids up, the more we tell them that we believe in them and their abilities, I think those voices will over power the inner voices of negativity and doubt.

By giving our children responsibilities and chores, holding them accountable when they make mistakes, teaching them how to be kind to others, helping them to give back and share, all of these things will help mold and shape them into the adults that they become.  I know I don't want to have grown up children who are lazy, who don't have any vision, who don't know the joy of working hard and seeing their hard work benefit others.

I think it's the small things that we do now that will have the great impact later.  So to all of you parents out there, keep doing your best.  Keep telling your kids to pick up their laundry, and clean up their room.  Don't be afraid to give your children chores (I know it may feel "mean" but chores are GOOD for them!)  Allow your children to try new things.  And teach them that it is ok to fail or not be great at everything, but to find what they are gifted at and really help them to pursue those things!

Parenting is so hard, but I really am starting to see the fruit of our labors.  And I really am thankful for my first born.  She is quite an amazing girl.  I just keep praying for her and the choices she will make in the future.  It all starts at home!

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe.

The most important thing a girl wears is her confidence :)

Proverbs 3: 5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.

The only time you should ever look back is to see how far you've come.

“You were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self, to live out your purpose, and to do it courageously.” ― Steve Maraboli,

Philippians 4: 13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Proverbs 31

“It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but even more to stand up to your friends.” ~ J. K. Rowling 


01 August 2016

My M.O.P.S Announcement

This is My Year to Give Back

For the past 7 years I have been attending MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) at Crossroads Baptist Church in Englishtown.  My childhood friend Bianca told me about it when Julia was about 10 months old and at the time I was already expecting our 2nd child and was excited to get out and make new mommy friends and just learn how to be a good mom.  I loved going to the meetings and just hanging out with other moms, drinking coffee, sharing ideas, sharing birth stories, laughing, listening to more experienced moms, all the while our kids were being taken care of by super sweet ladies from the church upstairs.

The mantra of MOPS is "Better moms make a better world!"  I fully believe that!  The more we encourage and equip moms to be all that they can be as moms while they are pouring into their families daily has this awesome ripple affect to their own families, people in the community and abroad.

Last year as I sat on the fence about what to do with homeschool and as I was praying about how I could be a blessing at home to Amelia and Micah I really felt God calling me to coordinate MOPS next year.  But I was scared and was wondering if I could really take this on.  At our last May meeting I felt the tug on my heart again that said, "Go for it!  You got this! You can do this! This is your year!"

I'm happy to announce that I will be coordinating this Fall!  I got my kit in the mail 2 weeks ago and I am really excited about diving in and being a blessing to all the Moms who come out this year.  Our theme is "Starry-Eyed: Seeing Grace in the Unfolding Constellation of Life and Motherhood."  I had a huge turn out at my first planning meeting at the end of May and I feel really blessed to have such a great team of supporters willing to step up and help out!

I will be clinging to Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!"I am excited to use my gifts and energies to this really fun task of journeying alongside moms who are doing an amazing job of raising little ones!  I know for a fact that MOPS helps Moms when they are in the trenches of diaper duty, nursing sick babies, balancing home life, making routine and structure, planning meals...it's a lot of work!

One of my favorite parts of MOPS is when we bond as moms by going on field trips or play dates and watching our children become friends as we get closer.  I remember those first few years as a stay at home mom feeling so cut off from society and so lonely.  I couldn't wait to go to MOPS on Tuesdays, and neither could my kids for that matter!  It was a great time of socializing, and planning outings, and drinking coffee, learning new recipes, doing a craft together, praying together, hearing from a guest speaker, watching short DVD snippets to inspire you.  I always left MOPS ready to conquer the rest of the day/week with full intentions of being a better mom!  I got "filled" on those days and I can't wait for this year to do the same for others!

Let's face facts, mothering is a very hard job.  One never feels that she has "arrived."  There is always more to learn and better ways and new ideas to handle disciplining, potty training, nursing, sleep training, the list goes on and on.  Learning from other moms, listening, giving advice, getting encouragement and giving back to other moms this is what it is all about.  We all know that this mothering season is just that...it's a season...and we all want to do our best at it while we have the chance.  God gave us our particular children for a reason.  We are the best mothers for our children.  Let's take advantage of this sweet time and do all we can to pour into and invest into our little ones.

For those of you prayer warriors out there please pray for me as I lead this year that I will have clarity and discernment and creative ideas and ultimately that I will be a blessing to each mom that sets foot in our doors.

If you are interested in hearing more about our MOPS group please don't hesitate to leave a message!

We meet on the 3rd Tuesday every month from 9:30 a.m.-12pm (we provide breakfast) and September 20th is our launch day! Our meeting spot is at Crossroads Assembly of God Church off Main Street in Englishtown.

I am getting so excited because Fall is almost here and that means MOPS will be starting along with all of our fun Fall playdates to go Apple Picking at Battleview Orchards and Pumpkin Picking at Green Meadows Farm.

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