Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Coupon Give-Away!!

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:17 AM 0 comments
I spent over an hour clipping coupons this morning and now have several hundred dollars worth that I don't need. Email me at themommyanswer@verizon.net and I'll put your name in a drawing for them. I'll draw two names on Friday at noon and mail them out next monday.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

After Christmas

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:46 AM 0 comments
I suppose sometimes there's a feeling of let down the day after Christmas. I'm glad that I'm not experiencing it. I feel almost more joyful today. Is it looking around at the gifts the family showered on my children? Is it the knowledge that we can get back to our routine? Is it that my children have been quietly (for the most part) enjoying their new toys and videos?

Maybe it's a little of each of these. Maybe it's that I know that no matter what, no matter what I have, no matter what I do, no matter what I lose, my God is always with me, loving me and working (even when I can't see Him working) all things for my good. Maybe it's that I know that although we set aside Christmas day to celebrate Jesus' birth, we really celebrate it every day we love Him, worship Him, and obey Him.

As I look around at the dust that needs knocked down, the crumbs that need to be sucked up, and the toys that need to be put away, I'm not going to allow myself to get overwhelmed or frustrated. No, I'm going to take care of the home and people that God has entrusted to me the best I can - and hopefully do it singing His praises, because, after all, it's all to Him anyway.

So, Merry after-Christmas Day! I hope the spirit of the Christ-child who became our risen Saviour will stay with you every day.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas for Mommies

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:35 AM 0 comments
Wow! How time flies!! Here it is December 22, three days before Christmas, and I think, "boy, it's been a long time since I've posted on my blog. Let me take a moment while the kids are playing nicely and the baby's asleep to post." Then I go to my blog and low and behold, it's been almost a month since I posted anything!

I suppose that's how it goes, though. I know some people are very good with routine, ritual, and schedules. I used to be a lot better. That is, before I became a stay-at-home mom with four small children. But I suppose I've never really had a routine that lasted any great length of time. My routines seem to come with limited time frames and seasons. But isn't life like that?

When I was a college student, routine was measured by semesters and breaks. I had one job and schedule during the school year and another on breaks. Even when I got my first after-college, full-time job, my schedule was flexible. I worked four tens, or two elevens and two nines, etc. For me, routine is a good thing, but so is flexibility. I think for our children, both are also important. The key is keeping them in balance.

As a homeschooler, as well as a mom of four youngsters, I've learned the great importance of keeping the two in balance. With no flexibility, what's the point of homeschooling? I mean, my reasons for homeschooling are vast, but flexibility is a great benefit. When Daddy's home we can cancel school for a family activity. When friends are out of town, we can do school on the weekend. When Christmas is coming and there is shopping to do, pictures to take, cards to send, and presents to wrap, school can be put on hold to get those time-sensitive things done. And oh, how grateful am I for that time at home while the kids play to get those things done!

But, we must get back to routine. That's part of what makes holidays special: they get us out of our routine. But if we never get back into it, we'll never get things done. It will take my daughter a year and a half to complete 2nd grade. Will my son ever make it to kindergarten? Not if I don't get us back on track. That doesn't mean a rigid, inflexible schedule once the holidays are over. It does mean keeping focused and recognizing the things that need to be done (for me as well as for them) in order to make progress.

I love the holidays - everything about Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year's: family get-togethers, festive music, lights, giving gifts, receiving and sending cards, remembering to be thankful, fresh starts, and family get-togethers! It's nice to have a break from the routine, but it's also nice to know what to expect once all the celebrations are over and things get back to "normal."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankfulness

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 3:19 PM 0 comments
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But THANKS be to GOD! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:56-58

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Time

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 12:53 PM 0 comments
If we don't have time to wait on God, then He has no reason to lead us into our destiny. If I truly want to do His will, I need to trust that when He asks me to wait, it is as much a step in the journey as each action I will take during other times of the journey.

I must not wait on the thing, however, that will exhaust me. I must wait on the Lord, then my strength will be renewed. (Beth Moore - Esther Bible Study)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thought for the Day

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:40 PM 0 comments
We all want to be useful.

None of us want to be used.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What to do?

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 12:18 PM 0 comments
Ever had a bad day? An emotional day? A hormonal day? Ever done something because you felt like it, only to drown in regret and guilt later? When we renew ourselves daily in God's Word, we will create a mind-set and have strength to draw on that will help us do the right thing, rather than just what we feel like.

"Temptations come and we either cave in because we're in the mood to sin or we quick-draw from a mind-set that is stronger than our our mood." - Beth Moore (Esther Bible Study, p.62)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Vote!!!!

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:59 AM 0 comments
Moms, make sure to go vote! Trying to figure out how to go with all the kids at home? Go with a friend and take turns watching the kids in the parking lot/car. There are no lines today and it doesn't take long - but it could have a great affect on things.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I'm Here - Kind of

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 6:54 AM 0 comments
I have not run away! I have not dropped off the face of the earth - sort of. I have been all consumed for six weeks now in a new world. God gave me a fiction book series and I have been using every spare minute to work on it. Neglecting my house and hopefully not my children too much has helped me complete book 1, now in revisions, and start on book 2. With all that writing and researching agents to send it to, I haven't gotten to blog. I will try to do better, but this is how I am - I hyperfocus on what's at hand.

I will not be posting any more Farm Fresh deals. It's one of those things I like to do and wanted to do, but feel led to give up.

I will do weekly menus when I stop flying by the seat of my pants for dinner every day. Maybe I'll write down last week's menu, since it's put together already....

I have an upcoming blog post on chores and at what ages children can do things - check back later next week.

For today, I'm going to go get moving, getting ready for Halloween, which we do celebrate by letting the children dress up (nothing scary) and go trick or treating. Mommy stays home and serves chili and apple cider to the parents and candy with scripture stapled to it to the kids. No scriptures this year because my printer broke a week and a half ago. I have a new one, and will be printing invites to our church.

Here's are links, for those interested, to some history of Halloween. Did you know there are Roman Catholic roots to the holiday?

http://www.theholidayspot.com/halloween/history.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Farm Fresh Deals

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:17 AM 0 comments
Prego Pasta sauce: $1.79; coupon $.75/3 doubled = 3 for $3.87 (1.29 ea.)

Crest Toothpaste: $1; coupon $1/2 doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for free

Crest Toothpaste: $1; coupon $.75/1 doubled = free

Silk Soymilk: $3.59; $.75/1 coupon doubled = $2.09 ea.

Jimmy Dean Breakfast bowl: $3.49; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $4.98 (2.49 ea.)

Jimmy Dean Entrees: $3.49; $.75/1 coupon doubled = $1.99 ea.

Pepperidge Farm Frozen Bread: $2.49; $.40/1 coupon doubled = $1.69 ea.

V8 Juice 46 oz: 2 for $6; $.50/2 coupon doubled = 2 for $5 ($2.5 ea.)

Campbell’s Chunky soups: $1.79; $.75/4 coupon doubled = 4 for $5.66 ($1.42 ea.)

Campbell’s Condensed soups: $.69; $.40/4 coupon doubled = 4 for $1.96 ($.49 ea.)

Swanson Broth Carton: $2.69; $.50/2 coupon doubled = 2 for $4.38 ($2.19 ea.)

Hostess Cakes Family Size: $2.50; $.50/1 coupon doubled = $1.50 ea.

Swanson Stock Carton: $2.79; $.50/1 coupon doubled = $1.79 ea.

Barilla pasta sauce: $2.69; $.55/1 coupon doubled = $1.59 ea.

Barilla Plus Pasta: $2; $.75/1 coupon doubled = $.50 ea.

Barilla Whole Grain Pasta: $1.39; $.50/1 coupon doubled = $.39 ea.

Beech Nut Stage 2 Baby Food Jars: $.50; $2/16 = 16 for $6 ($.38 ea.)

Tylenol Cold: $5.79; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = $3.79 ea.

Dial Multi Pack Bar: $2.19; $.35/1 coupon doubled = $1.49 ea.

Pantene shampoo/conditioner: $2.99; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $3.98 (1.99 ea.)

General Mills Cereal: $2; $1/3 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 3 for $4 (1.33 ea.)

Yoplait Fiber One Yogurt multipack: $2.50; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = $.50

Yoplait YoPlus Yogurt multipack: $2.50; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = $.50

Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks: $2.50; $.50/2 coupon doubled = 2 for $4 ($2 ea.)

Nature Valley Granola Bars: $2.50; $.40/1 coupon doubled = $1.70 ea.

Pillsbury Cookie Dough: $2.50; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $3 ($1.50 ea.)

Pillsbury Grand Biscuits: $1.69; $.30/2 coupon doubled = 2 for $2.78 ($1.39 ea.)

Pillsbury Sweet Rolls: $1.69; $.50/2 coupon doubled = 2 for $2.38 ($1.19 ea.; $.40 coupon $1.29 ea.)

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls: $1.69; $.50/2 coupon doubled = 2 for $2.38 ($1.19 ea.)

Betty Crocker Warm Delights: $1.69; $.50/1 coupon doubled = $.69 ea.

Betty Crocker Cookie Mix: $1.69; $.40/1 coupon doubled = $.89 ea.

Betty Crocker Potato Box: $1.69; $.25/1 coupon doubled = $1.19 ea.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Recommended Websites

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 12:16 PM 0 comments
For glue & paste recipes:
http://fun.familyeducation.com/crafts/toddler/37042.html
http://www.recipegoldmine.com/childsticky/childsticky.html

For Finger Paint:
http://www.creativekidsathome.com/activities/activity_42.html
http://tipnut.com/homemade-fingerpaint-recipe/

For Modeling Clay:
http://www.make-stuff.com/kids/clay.html
http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-Playdough-Play-doh/

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Farm Fresh Deals

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:35 AM 0 comments
I'm back!!!

Betty Crocker Helpers (Tuna, Hamburger, Chicken): on sale for $1; $.75/3 coupon doubled = 3 for $1.50

Tropicana OJ: on sale for $2.99; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $3.98

*Quaker True Delights Granola bars: on sale $1.75; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = free

*Quaker Oatmeal or Oats: on sale $1.75; $1.25/2 coupon = 2 for $2

*Aunt Jemima Mix or Syrup: on sale $1.75; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $1.50

* the above sale price is applicable ONLY if you buy 10 of any combination of listed products


DanActive 4-pack: on sale for $2.49; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 1 for $.49

Turkey Hill Ice Cream: on sale for $3.49; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 1 for $1.49

Kelloggs Raisin Bran Extra, Mini Wheats Little Bites, Froot Loops, Apple Jacks: on sale 2 for $5;
$2/2 coupon = 2 for $3

Kelloggs Pop Tarts: on sale 2 for $4; $.55/1 coupon doubled = $.90 each

Sunshine Cheez It Crackers 7.5 oz or larger: on sale $2.79; $1.50/2 coupon = 2 for $4.08

Tetley Tea: on sale $3.69; $.55 coupon doubled = 1 for $2.59

Aunt Jemima Frozen Pancake: on sale 2 for $5; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $3

Turkey Hill Tea: on sale $2.79; $1/2 = 2 for $3.58

Farm Fresh Deals

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:35 AM 0 comments
I'm back!!!

Betty Crocker Helpers (Tuna, Hamburger, Chicken): on sale for $1; $.75/3 coupon doubled = 3 for $1.50

Tropicana OJ: on sale for $2.99; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $3.98

*Quaker True Delights Granola bars: on sale $1.75; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = free

*Quaker Oatmeal or Oats: on sale $1.75; $1.25/2 coupon = 2 for $2

*Aunt Jemima Mix or Syrup: on sale $1.75; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $1.50

* the above sale price is applicable ONLY if you buy 10 of any combination of listed products


DanActive 4-pack: on sale for $2.49; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 1 for $.49

Turkey Hill Ice Cream: on sale for $3.49; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 1 for $1.49

Kelloggs Raisin Bran Extra, Mini Wheats Little Bites, Froot Loops, Apple Jacks: on sale 2 for $5;
$2/2 coupon = 2 for $3

Kelloggs Pop Tarts: on sale 2 for $4; $.55/1 coupon doubled = $.90 each

Sunshine Cheez It Crackers 7.5 oz or larger: on sale $2.79; $1.50/2 coupon = 2 for $4.08

Tetley Tea: on sale $3.69; $.55 coupon doubled = 1 for $2.59

Aunt Jemima Frozen Pancake: on sale 2 for $5; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $3

Turkey Hill Tea: on sale $2.79; $1/2 = 2 for $3.58

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Weekly Farm Fresh Deals

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:13 AM 0 comments
Progresso Soup vegetable soups: on sale $1/each; $.50/2 coupon doubled = 2 for $1

Colgate toothpaste: on sale $1; $1/1coupon = free

Pillsbury Toaster Strudel pastries: on sale $2.59; $.55/2 coupon doubled = 2 for $4.08

Turkey Hill Tea: on sale $1.79; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $1.58

Turkey Hill Ice Cream: on sale $3; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = $1

Yoplait Delights 4-pack: on sale $2.50; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = $.50

Danactive Yogurt 4-pack: on sale $2.50; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = $.50

Campbell’s Soup at Hand Cups: on sale $1.25; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $.50

Campbell’s Select Harvest soups: on sale $1.67; $.40/2 doubled = 2 for $2.54

General Mills: on sale $2.50; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $3

Blue Diamond Almonds: on sale $3; $.75/1 coupon doubled = $1.50

Ritz: on sale $2.89; bogo coupon = 2 for $2.89

Kellogg’s: $1.50 each when you buy 10 rice krispies treats ($1/2 coupon doubled)/cinnabon
snack bars($.75/1 coupon doubled)/cracker packs; if you have two of each coupon = 10 for $11

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

This week's menu

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 5:45 PM 0 comments
Sunday - spaghetti sause with angel hair noodles, salad
Monday - ham (glazed, spiral), rolls, fried potatoes (with onion and red pepper), green beans (steamed)
Tuesday - turkey, gravy, brocolli, corn, rolls
Wednesday - steak, baked potatoes, salad
Thursday - leftovers
Friday - ordering pizza!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sing joyful songs

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:23 AM 0 comments
David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals. 1 Chronicles 15:16

Music is a wonderful tool, that we are fortunate to have access to any time we want. Although tainted throughout the generations, music is a gift from God. When we listen to, sing, hum, or remember the joyful, worshipful songs we move closer to God and are filled with His joy. It can change the course of a day, a mood, or the perspective we have on things. What a gift!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Gambler Mommy

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 2:06 PM 0 comments
You know Kenny Roger's The Gambler, right? Well get the tune in your head and read below.

On a warm summers evenin the phone rang from somewhere
It was my girlfriend finally; we were both walking half asleep.
We’d both been wrapped up in babies, wiping noses and hinies
Til we didn’t know up from down, but we needed to talk.

She said, girl, I’ve made a life out of carin for babies,
And knowin what they’re about and how to stay a step ahead.
So if you don’t mind my sayin, I can hear you’re about at the end.
For a night of babysitting I’ll give you some advice.

So I agreed on a date and she wrote it on the calendar.
Then she sighed and I heard the door shut behind her.
And the night got deathly quiet, and her voice lost all depression.
Said, if you’re gonna outlive em, ya gotta learn to live it right.

You got to know when to hold em, know when to scold em,
Know when to walk away and know when to lunge.
You always count to a hundred when their pushing your buttons.
There’ll be time enough for punishin when the anger’s gone.

Now evry mommy knows that the secret to surviving
Is knowing when to let it go and knowing what to say.
Cause evry child’s a blessing and every child’s a sinner,
And the best that you can hope is for them to love your God.

So when she’d finished speakin, she stayed in the dark silence,
Stepped back into the house and started on laundry.
And somewhere in the darkness the mommy, she was praised.
And in her wisest words I found an ace that I could keep.

You got to know when to hold em, know when to scold em,
Know when to walk away and know when to lunge.
You always count to a hundred when their pushing your buttons.
There’ll be time enough for punishin when the anger’s gone.

Now evry mommy knows that the secret to surviving
Is knowing when to let it go and knowing what to say.
Cause evry child’s a blessing and every child’s a sinner,
And the best that you can hope for is them to love your God.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Farm Fresh Deals

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:44 AM 0 comments
Jimmy Dean Bowls: $3 (buy 2 get 1), $1 coupon (doubled on Wed.) = $1/each; buy three with two coupons get them for $.67 each

Jimmy Dean Entree: $3 (buy 2 get 1), $.75 coupon doubled = $1.50; buy three with two coupons get them for $1 each

Hot/Lean Pockets: $2, $1/3 coupon (doubled on Wed.) = $4 for three ($1.33 each)

Emerald Nuts: buy 1 get 1; $1.50/2 coupon

Crystal Light on the go Drink Mix Sticks: 2/$6; $2/2 coupon = $4 for 2

Betty Crocker Potatoes: $1.69; $.25 coupon doubled = $1.19

Wanchi Ferri Dinner: $4.49; $2 coupon = $2.49

Swanson Chunk Chicken: $1.99; $.75/2 coupon doubled = $2.48 for 2

General Mills Cereals: 2/$7; $1/2 coupon (doubled on Wed.) = $5 for 2

Ovrille Redenbachers Microwave popcorn: 2/$4; $.40 coupon doubled = $1.20 each

Hershey's kisses: $3.79, $1 coupon (doubled on Wed.) = $1.79

Ritz crackers: BoGo; use two coupons to buy for and get back $3 instantly (Nabisco special)

Tide: $10.99; $1 coupon (doubled on Wed.) = $8.99

Spray & Wash: $2.50; $.50 coupon doubled = $1.50

Airwick Freshmatic Ultra Kit: $9.99; $6 coupon (should work) = $3.99

Kleenex tissues: $1.25; $.50/3 coupon doubled = $2.75 for 3

Garnier shampoo/conditioner: $3.79; $.75 coupon doubled = $2.29

Campbell's chicken noodle or tomato soup: $.50; $.40/4 coupon doubled = $1.20 for 4

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

This Week's Menu

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 12:35 PM 0 comments
Monday - breaded fish, fried potatoes, green beans

Tuesday - swiss steak(brown 2lb floured cube steak in 1/4c olive oil, set aside; cook 3/4c celery & 3/4c onions chopped in remaining oil until soft. Add 1 1/2c ketchup, 1c water, 1/8c A1, tsp worchestershire, & 2T brown sugar. Return meat, cover and simmer on medium for 2 hours), mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables

Wednesday - chick-fil-a (first day of AWANA's)

Thursday - chicken taco ring (brown chicken in olive oil with taco seasoning, spoon onto flattened, staggered crescent rolls, top with cheese, close crescent rolls on top, cook 350 for 150 minutes), salsa, sour cream

Friday - leftovers

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pleasure or Joy?

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:34 PM 0 comments
We find joy not in taking the easy way out or doing what is fun, but pressing through the challenges and things we don't want to do for the long term rewards.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Breastfeeding and the flu

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 3:21 PM 0 comments
http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-20766-Richmond-Breastfeeding--Examiner~y2009m9d10-Breastfeeding-and-the-flu

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Farm Fresh Deals

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 12:31 PM 0 comments
Only one coupon that's a $1 that matches sale items this week. All other coupons will be doubled any day of the week.

Yoplait Yogurt Cups .40/6 coupon doubled; on sale 10 for $5 = 6 for $2.20 (.37 each)

Smithfield Smoked Sausage .55/1 coupon doubled; on sale 2 for $6 = 1 for $1.90

Land o Lakes spread/margarine .30/1 coupon doubled; on sale 2 for $5 = 1 for $1.90

Pillsbury sweet rolls .40/2 coupon doubled; on sale $2.99 = 2 for $5.18 (2.59 each)

Pillsbury cookie dough $1/2 or $.55/1 coupon doubled; on sale for $2.49 = 1 for $1.39 or 2 for $2.98 (1.49 each)

Quaker Granola Bars $1/1 doubled ; on sale 2 for $4 = free (doubled coupon on Wed. only)

Crisco Oil $.55/1 coupon doubled ; on sale $3.59 = $2.49

Huggies wipes $.50/1 coupon doubled; on sale $6.99 = $5.99

Huggies Diapers $1.50 coupon; on sale $9.99 = $7.49

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

This Week's Menu

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:14 AM 0 comments
Sunday - roast (cooked in worchestershire, water, and rosemary & herb, 325 for 2 2/1 hours) with carrots and potatoes, rolls, green beans

Monday - turkey (pre-cooked breast) stove top stuffing, brocolli & rolls

Tuesday - leftover day

Wednesday - sweet & sour meatballs (mix 1 1/2 lb hamburger, 2/3c crumbled ritz, liption onion soup mix, 1 egg, 1/4t ginger, 1/4c milk - roll into balls bake 350 for 10-15 minutes; sauce - mix 2T cornstarch & 1/2 brown sugar, add 1 can pineapple juice from pineapple chunks can, 1/3c vinegar, & 1T soy sauce - heat on med/high stirring constantly until thick; add meatballs and 1/2 can of pineapple chunks), rice, green beans

Thursday - pork chops (marinated and cooked in bbq sauce), salad, bread

Friday - parmesan chicken tenders (dip in egg, then parmesan/bread crumb mixture), noodles, marinara sauce, mixed veggies

Monday, September 7, 2009

How do You do it All?

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:31 AM 0 comments
"I don't know how you do all you do" is a statement that I hear quite a bit. It always gets me to thinking, do I really do that much? I'm an almost-stay-at-home mom (I work out of the house one day a week) of four beautiful children, a wife, a writer, a blogger, daughter, friend, women's ministry co-leader at my church, and have various other activities such making and canning salsa from my own garden during the summer. I guess it is a lot. So, how do I do it all?

Well, sometimes I do to much and get in over my head. For about three years in a row around this time of year I had to step back and step out of some things because I was getting overwhelmed. This year, despite having baby number four, I don't feel that way. I've learned tricks and tips and tools to help me focus on what I need to do when I need to do it.

The first is organization. When I'm organized I can get ever so much more done. While I find it more challenging to stay organized than ever, when I'm making my to do lists and planning menus and planning trips to the grocery store, things seem to go much more smoothly. When I know what there is to be done, and when I want it to be done, I can prioritize. And I can have the satisfaction of marking things off my list!

The second is to pray about everything. Well, this really should be first, because it comes into play before taking on anything extra. I'm still working on making this first. Should I do this? Should I give up that? I know that if I rely on God to lead me into the things He has planned for me, I won't get in over my head. I also know that I have to lean on Him for strength and wisdom to get things done. If I do it His way, it will be more efficient, more productive, and come with more blessings.

The third is to give up any sense of control over anything other than yourself and any notions of perfection. I think this is where many of us women who are used to achieving at a high level tend to send ourselves over the edge of stress oblivion. We like to live in the illusion that we have control over other people and circumstances. These things are really out of our control (even our children, we can influence and motivate our children through parenting them lovingly and with authority, but we don't have control over them) and trying to control them will use way more energy than we'll ever have. Perfection and expectations of perfection fall into this boat because perfection is usually about control. I don't have to control every aspect of my household (that would run me down) nor does my house have to be perfect. I like it to be clean and I like it to be straight, but with four children under 7, it doesn't stay that way very long. So I can spend all my time chasing after control and perfection and have a house worthy of Southern Living, or I can live in my house and enjoy it, my family, and the career God's called me to.

So, the answer is, I don't do it all. I do what I'm called to do and do it good enough. I'm a little slack on the housework at times, but the dust will eventually get wiped off (only to come back a couple days later) and the floor will get mopped (only to have something spilt on it an hour later), but in the meantime, I'm going to spend today working on building relationships and fulfilling my call to write to encourage others in their lives, relationships, and most importantly, their relationship with God.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Do Nothing Days

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:31 AM 0 comments
I'm a firm believer that we moms need a do nothing day every once in a while. With our busy schedules and demands on us they don't often just happen. We have to make them happen and be okay with leaving things til tomorrow (once in a while, not always.)

I had one of those days yesterday. I didn't plan it, it just happened. I had a to do list, but interrupted sleep was catching up with me (and I had a new fiction book to read.) So, I had a do nothing day. Well...not exactly NOTHING. I fed my kids three meals, put steaks on marinade and separated hamburger to put in the freezer. I checked in with FaceBook, email, and Twitter. I even sent out a few emails. But overall, I rested (in search of a nap most of the day until I finally got one around 2:30) and read most of the day. Although nothing on my to do list got done, I feel more refreshed and ready to tackle things today.

Ironic that I'm in the middle of writing my chapter on health, and just earlier this week wrote the section on resting our minds. Ironic, or actually putting into practice what I believe?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New Examiner Posts

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:34 AM 0 comments
Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work

http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-20766-Richmond-Breastfeeding--Examiner~y2009m8d30-Going-back-to-work-and-breastfeeding


Top 10 Benefits of Breastfeeding

http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-20766-Richmond-Breastfeeding--Examiner~y2009m8d31-Top-10-benefits-of-breastfeeding

The Truth about Breastfeeding

http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-20766-Richmond-Breastfeeding--Examiner~y2009m9d1-The-truth-about-breastfeeding

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Book Recommendation

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 7:14 PM 0 comments
Recommends "A Gift of Grace" by Amy Clipston.

Synopsis: When Rebecca Kauffman’s older sister, who left the Amish community when she was a teenager, dies in an automobile accident, Rebecca is left custody of her two modern non-Amish teenage nieces, Jessica and Lindsay. Will she be able to reconcile the two worlds in her home—or will the clash of cultures tear her world, including her marriage, apart?

Description: Rebecca Kauffman’s tranquil Old Order Amish life is transformed when she suddenly has custody of her two teenage nieces after her "English" sister and brother-in-law are killed in an automobile accident. Instant motherhood, after years of unsuccessful attempts to conceive a child of her own, is both a joy and a heartache. Rebecca struggles to give the teenage girls the guidance they need as well as fulfill her duties to Daniel as an Amish wife. Rebellious Jessica is resistant to Amish ways and constantly in trouble with the community. Younger sister Lindsay is caught in the middle, and the strain between Rebecca and Daniel mounts as Jessica’s rebellion escalates. Instead of the beautiful family life she dreamed of creating for her nieces, Rebecca feels as if her world is being torn apart by two different cultures, leaving her to question her place in the Amish community, her marriage, and her faith in God.

Farm Fresh Deals

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 2:29 PM 0 comments
Meant to have Farm Fresh deals posted today, but haven't been able to go through them. I am streamlining my process, though, and will be back up and running next Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

This week in the life of a writing, blogging, Jesus-loving, home-schooling, wife and mommy of 4

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:33 AM 1 comments
Monday - work, examiner article, clip coupons

Tuesday - budget proposal for women's conference to church staff, proposal for budget writing article, laundry (sheets, towels, adult clothes), Colby school, clean bathrooms, examiner article, work on book, county fair meeting

Wednesday - work on preschool curriculum, Colby school, dust, vacuum, mop, work on book, call hotel to confirm for women's conference, go to church for sign up night

Thursday - work on preschool curriculum, Colby school, examiner article, work on "The Best Birthday Ever," work on book (nap, maybe?)

Friday - hmmm...we'll see

Monday, August 31, 2009

This Week's Menu

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 5:44 PM 1 comments
Monday: Tyson breaded chicken tenders, mixed veggies (steamed), Cheddar/Brocolli rice (Zataran's)

Tuesday: Brown Sugar Pork Chops (ttp://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Brown-Sugar-Chops/Detail.aspx) with potatoes, green beans

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: spaghetti noodles with meatballs & marinara, salad, garlic toast

Friday: fish (whatever hubby picks up at Costco), plain rice, steamed brocolli

Saturday: leftovers/sandwiches

Sunday: roast, potatoes, carrots, bread

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wisdom and Knowledge

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:03 PM 1 comments
As moms, two things we need most are wisdom and knowledge. There's lots of "knowledge" available today in jsut about every form you can imagine. However, there is only one source for true, unchanging knowledge and wisdom. As I heard Beth Moore say the other day (on Life Today with James and Betty Robison), I'm ready to get desperate for something I can have. From prison Paul wrote to the Colossians that he was praying for them and "asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding." (vs. 9) That's what I want! To be FILLED with the KNOWLEDGE of HIS WILL through ALL SPIRITUAL WISDOM and UNDERSTANDING! I'm desperate God. Please fill me.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

10 Things You can do While Breastfeeding

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:27 AM 0 comments
http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-20766-Richmond-Breastfeeding--Examiner~y2009m8d27-10-Things-You-Can-Do-While-Breastfeeding

Friday, August 28, 2009

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 12:31 PM 0 comments
Join me on FaceBook. I have a group called Joyful Moms and a page called The Mommy Answer (go figure.) Join my group and become a fan of my page. I'd love to see you there!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Get Paid to Write!

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:26 PM 0 comments
Through Examiner.com you can get paid to write short articles on line. You have to apply, and if approved they ask that you write 4 short (300 - 500) articles a week. Go to Examiner.com and click to select your city. Topics include: entertainment, business, family and home, life, news and politics, sports and recreation. There's something for everyone. I've posted four articles in my first week and already have 18 hits (check me out - http://www.examiner.com/x-20766-Richmond-Breastfeeding--Examiner~y2009m8d27-10-Things-You-Can-Do-While-Breastfeeding.) If you apply, PLEASE put my name down (Tracy Wainwright) as referring you. I'll get credit, just like you will after your approved and refer others.

Happy Writing!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Breastfeeding on Demand

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:03 PM 0 comments
Third article on examiner.com

http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-20766-Richmond-Breastfeeding--Examiner~y2009m8d26-Breastfeeding-on-Demand

More Farm Fresh Deals

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 3:04 PM 0 comments
Dole Fruit cups - $2 - $1 coupon doubled = $1 each, must get two
Heluva Good dip - $1.99 - $0.50 coupon doubled = $0.99
Mueller's spaghetti & elbow shells - $1.25 - $0.55 doubled = $0.15
Nabisco Crackerfuls - $2.69 - $1/2 doubled = $1.94 each, must get two
Oreo cakesters - 2.69 - $0.75/2 doubled = $1.94 each, must get two
Reynolds recycled foil $3 - $0.75 doubled = $1.50 each
Van Camp's Baked Beans $0.75 - $0.30/3 doubled = $0.55 each, must get three
Solo cups - $3.00 - $0.75 doubled = $1.50 each

Farm Fresh Deals

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:28 AM 0 comments
Initial deals this week at Farm Fresh
Farm Fresh Chicken Breasts - $1.98/lb
Texas Toast - $2.79 - $0.40 coupon doubled = $1.99/box
Plain Cheerios - $2.79 - $1.00/2 coupon doubled = 1.79/box, must get two
Dole Fruit Jars - $2.00 - $0.55 coupon doubled = .$0.90/jar
Kellog's Cereals - 2/$5.00 - $1.00/2 coupon doubled = $1.50/box, must get two
Bob Evan's Sausage- $3.00 - .25 coupon doubled = $2.50/lb

More to come...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

This Week's To Do List

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 2:44 PM 0 comments
Monday
work
weekly menu
wash kids clothes
examiner article

Tuesday
finish kids clothes
wash sheets and towels
school
examiner article
submit writing piece to magazine
women's conference proposal to church staff
finish thank-you's
book

Wednesday
school
check Farm Fresh add & coupons
dust upstairs
dust downstairs
vacuum upstairs
go to Farm Fresh

Thursday
Apple Butter & Apple Sauce
Examiner Article

Friday
rest
work on book

This Week's Menu

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:06 AM 0 comments
Monday
baked chicken tenders(dipped in butter, then breadcrumbs, baked on 375 for 20 minutes)
fried rice (plain for the kids, just used soy sauce and an egg for mine, no time for veggies)
steamed brocolli
squash (stir fried on med-hi in olive oil)

Tuesday
leftover day

Wednesday
meatloaf (1lb hamburger, 2/3 c crushed Ritz, bbq sauce, egg, Lipton soup mix - 325 for an hour)
mashed potatoes (cube, boil, add butter, milk, salt & pepper and blend)
green beans (out of the can, boiled on medium 30 minutes with Tbs olive oil)

Thursday
pork chops (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Grilled-Pork-Chops-with-Balsamic-Caramelized-Pears/Detail.aspx)
noodles (flavored, out of a bag)
mixed vegetables (steamed from frozen - brocolli, cauliflour, squash & carrots)

Friday
curry chicken (brown chicken, add tomato sauce, tomato paste, 1/4 c apple sauce, crushed red pepper & curry powder to taste)
rice
stir fry veggies (from frozen)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mom Musings

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:00 PM 0 comments
My recent reading of John Rosemond's "Parenting by the Book" has really helped me to take a step back and evaluate my parenting. Although I believe in and agree with most of what he says, do I practice it? I've even written my chapter for my book on parenting, which says some similar things. But am I following my own beliefs with behaviors?

Yes. And no. As with most things, parenting is a growth process. (I just have to hope my ability to parent grows at a faster rate than my kids!) There are a lot of things I do right, but there are also a lot of areas in which I can improve. One I am constantly working on is correcting and leading my children without emotion. I know that emotion gets in the way of effective parenting, but when I'm tired, hungry, stressed, etc. I parent emotionally.

Tonight one of my children did something that they'd gotten into trouble for numerous times. At first I started getting upset. But then I remembered that getting upset wouldn't change the behavior (it'd already happened) and it would diminish any consequences I doled out. I calmly gave the consequences (despite a very sad face) and remained perfectly calm. And oh, HOW GOOD IT FELT! Better for me. Better for the child in question. Better for the children observing. No guilt for blowing up. No stewing in icky juices. Just consequences and moving on. A good reminder, one more effective practice, and a little growth.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Today's To Do List

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 6:30 AM 0 comments
Get up early enough to exercise and Bible Study.
Get kids up, dressed, and fed.
Go to church and worship God!!
Eat lunch at mom's.
Go see a movie with hubby and maybe take in a store or dessert before picking up baby.
Pick up ONLY baby and come home for a quiet evening.
Praise God a little more before falling asleep.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Satrudays

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 1:16 PM 2 comments
Satrudays are not a day off for mom. Sometimes, however, you do get to sleep in. And hubby is ususally home to help with/do stuff with the kids. And if your kids are in school, you actually get to spend a whole day with them. So, mothering, parenting, taking care of, feeding, still happens, but Saturdays are a nice change of pace. Not the care-free days they used to be, but then they didn't come with the best hugs and kisses in the world, either!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friendships

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 4:47 PM 1 comments
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

I am so grateful for the friends that God has placed in my life. At one time I just wanted friends and wasn't interested in good, quality friends. But I learned that those friends don't help you up. They laugh and abandon you when you're down. True friends help you up when you're down physically, spiritually, or emotianally. They encourage. They share. They let you lean on them.

As moms, we need to establish and maintain healthy, equally beneficial relationships. It's not about keeping score, but about loving each other and living the mommy life together. Friends (good, godly friends) make life so much more enjoyable. In our fast-paced, child-centered lives, we often forget to focus on these relationship. However, if we remember that we are women first, and foster these relationships we will be much better moms. I know I am - thanks, ladies: for your love and laughter!

To Do List Update

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:52 AM 0 comments
Made good progress on my list. It's amazing what I can get done when I'm focused and goal-oriented. I even have been able to read almost a whole book (one chapter left - Parenting by the Book: a book EVERY MOM should read!)

What's left to do today: water garden, thank-you notes, work on book, school, and spend time with the fam (hubby's home today!!)

Oh, how much better I feel when I can see what I am getting accomplished (in addition to the daily meals, having kids clean up their toys, emptying the dishwasher, etc.) And when I have the right attitude, it's even a joy to get things done.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Respect and Obedience

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:24 AM 1 comments
I'm reading a new book - Parenting by The Book: Biblical Wisdom for Raising Your Child by John Rosemond - and agree with one (a lot, really) of his premises. If your child does not obey you, it's because your child does not respect you. Wow! How powerful is that? If we don't teach our children to respect us, they will not learn to respect others or themselves. This will cause major relationship problems throughout their lives, and make it almost impossible for them to submit to God's authority and have a real relationship with Him. Not a new concept, but a renewed one.

P.S. Thanks to my fabulous, real friend Jennifer for the book. You're the best girl! Thanks for respecting me enough to bless me with this gift.

P.P.S. You can find this book at Amazon for around $6

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

To Do List

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:53 AM 0 comments
Here's what's on the schedule for the next couple of days:

Phone calls to get proposals for Abundant Life Conference for Women (Clarion, Great Wolfe, Eastover)

Wash: colored clothes, white clothes, sheets

Clean toilets
Vacuum downstairs
Mop downstairs

water garden
thank-you notes
work on The Mommy Answer
Excite Articles (first 4)
Excite links
Blog (each day)
Facebook page & Joyful Moms group (each day)
Twitter (can't believe I've started this, too)

Get AlphaBugs curriculum emailed (first 4 weeks)
School (each day)
Bible Study (each day)
Exercise (each day)

We'll see what progress is made by Friday - oh, yeah - and a date with hubby Friday night, which means I have to find child care!

Twitter

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:03 AM 0 comments
Ok, I give in. I'm now on twitter - themommyanswer

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Author Recommendation

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:46 PM 1 comments
Just finished "Between Sundays" by Karen Kingsbury. Great book, just like all of hers. Check out all her books at http://www.karenkingsbury.com/books/

Life

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:44 AM 0 comments
The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows.) John 10:10

Words of Jesus. He came that we might have life through Him. It's easy to accept Him, believe in Him, receive salvation and eternal life through Him. It is often much more challenging to accept, believe and receive the gift of enjoying life in abundance on a daily basis. Why is that? Are we missing something? Often, it's the ongoing, in-depth, ever-growing relationship with Him. I was talking with someone yesterday about being able to recognize the differences in my children's personality. She asked if it was difficult as a parent to pick out their uniqueness. For me, no, it's not. But I believe that's because I spend so much time with them. I know them intimately.

The same goes for Jesus. How much time we spend with Him, observing Him through His Word, listening to the quiet whispers He speaks to our hearts, and sharing our thoughts, feelings, hopes, and challenges with Him will have a great affect on how well we know Him. And if and how much we experience the grace, mercy, blessings, and abundant life that He came to give us.

I always know when I'm not spending enough time with Him, because I struggle with the daily challenges of life and motherhood. Fortunately, He reminds me to come sit at His feet and He will take my challenges. I just have to listen and believe. Today I choose to listen and believe.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Busy Days

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 5:00 PM 0 comments
Do you ever get to the end of the day and sit down in your chair or lay down in bed and wonder, “What did I do all day?” As you look around (or picture in your head) at all the things that are left to be done, you try to conjure up what in the world it was that you did that day. Although exhausted, and having been busy all day, it seems like there’s more to do than there was at the beginning of the day.
When this happens to me I find, upon reflecting on my day, that I allowed myself to be distracted and start a dozen things, finishing none. A little bit of this and a little bit of that got done, but nothing got completed. Which means that it looks like nothing happened all day except for more mess making. This happens to me in part because I’d much rather take on a project than work on the day-to-day items of running the house. Dust? No, that’ll wait. I’ve got clothes to go through. Toilets? No. Not when there’s an event to plan. And although the clothes do need to be gone through (at some point) and the event needs to be planned (but did I have to take it on?), the daily home-care needs to happen too. And it’s not going to if I don’t get myself organized.
There are bigger projects (like planning my son’s preschool curriculum for the year) that can’t be done in one sitting or one day, but there are many that often linger that should be done more succinctly. For me, I find that writing down what I want to get done helps me prioritize and accomplish more. And if at least one of those things helps improve the looks of my home, all the better. I feel like I’ve accomplished more (no matter what I’ve actually done) if I can visibly see the results. So as I look at the last quarter of my day, I realize that I can complete a task or two and wake up tomorrow with a little less to face, even if there is a baby who’ll probably interrupt me at some point and three other children to feed, spend time with and put to bed. It’ll be worth it when I sit down and can easily and quickly take stock of what got, not just done, but completed today.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Free PreSchool AlphaBugs Curriculum

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:30 AM 0 comments
Are you interested in a FREE PreSchool Curriculum? I'm more than willing to share what I have with you. THere are three ways to sign up for monthly emails including everything you need except the books for this Alpha-Bugs Lapbook curriculum. Sign up as a follower of my blog; become a fan of The Mommy Answer on FaceBook, or join my group Joyful Moms on FaceBook. Once you've done one of these three things, email me at themommyanswer@verizon.net and I'll send you four weeks of this fun, adventure-filled, phonics-based curriculum straight to your inbox each month.

Thanks and happy learning!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Nothing

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 4:05 PM 0 comments
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-9

How amazing is God's love! NOTHING can seperate us from it. When He doesn't feel near, we are not separated from His love. When we don't understand, we are not separated from His love. When we are hurt, we are not separated from His love. When we sin, we are not separated from His love. He is always there to offer whatever it is that we need. It may not be what we want. But it will always be what we need.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ten Minutes

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:35 AM 0 comments
While five minutes can make a difference in how my day or a situation goes, I find that much of the day gets broken down into ten minute segments. There is often ten minutes of peace in between meals, chores, arguments and needing to feed the baby. There is often a spare ten minutes before needing to leave the house. There is often only ten minutes to get things done before supper’s ready, time to go, bedtime. This time is easily wasted. If there’s only ten minutes to do something, is it really worth even trying? I say yes. And below is a list of things that can be completed in 10 minutes or less that will help move you along the chore list and getting things accomplished.

Make a bed
Shower, dress, brush hair and teeth
Read a magazine article
Eat an apple for a snack
Windex the bathroom mirrors
Pick up toys in a room
Hang up a load of laundry
Unload the dishwasher
Dust a room or two
Clean the toilets
Shoot a quick email to a friend on your mind
Do some stretching (better than no exercise)
Fix breakfast (if it only involves cereal or oatmeal)
Gather things needed for the day and put them in the car
Fix a salad
Vacuum a room or two, or three
Write a note to a friend or family member
Clean off a counter
Balance the checkbook
Drink a cup of coffee
Pray
Read a book to a child

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Five Minutes

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:35 PM 1 comments
In motherhood five minutes can often make the biggest difference. It only takes kids about five minutes to destroy a day’s worth of housework. On a really good day I can shower and get dressed in five minutes. Five minutes of spending time in the Bible really helps my day go better. Five minutes in the middle of a child’s temper tantrum can also make a world of difference. For me, and for that child.
There have been days where I lost my temper along with a child throwing a fit or exhibiting direct defiance. There have been days when I’ve had to hang in there for up to 20 or 30 minutes for a tantrum to be over. But for the most part I have found that within five minutes of a tantrum or incidence of defiance it’s over, and the end result is based on my reaction, or ability not to react. If I can hold on for five minutes (forget counting to five), the storm usually passes without any major damage.
When our children lose it, the thing they need most is for us not to. They need the stability of mom to be the calming, reassuring factor in the situation. They haven’t learned yet to temper their reaction (some more so than others) and need us to show them how to be calm. If we can hold on, just five minutes, and be an anchor that keeps them grounded while a storm of emotions is raging through their little body, they will feel safe and secure when it’s all over. Then we can talk to them about whatever the issue is and come to a resolution or consequence.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Playing Purposefully - part 2

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 3:16 PM 0 comments
The importance of Play
Although I’ve been focusing on unstructured, creative play, that doesn’t mean that there is no room for structured play as well. Play, in general, is an essential part of children’s lives because it “is the primary path to learning for the first five years or so.”1 Linn states that, “preserving and nurturing children’s capacity to play is essential to all aspects of their mental, social, and emotional development. Play is a fundamental component of a healthy childhood…”2Individual play helps children to develop social skills, the ability to concentrate, stick with tasks, and enjoy alone time. Creative or imaginative play helps children to work through feelings and frustrations, build language skills, practice social skills, express themselves, build self-confidence, and understand and gain a sense of control of the world around them. Interactive play helps children to learn skills such as taking turns, following directions, sharing, dealing with winning and losing, and respecting other’s abilities. Play is also helpful in preparation for formal learning as children work on their gross and fine motor skills, problem-solving, and creativity through play naturally. And in addition to the benefits listed previously, when you as a parent take part in your child’s play it allows you to broach topics that might not come up otherwise and teach behaviors and ideas that are important to you.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Playing Purposefully - part 3

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:17 PM 0 comments
What is play?
Play should be fun. It may seem that it’s not necessary to say that play should be fun, but it’s a good reminder. Especially when you look at the definition of fun. According to Webster (II New College Dictionary, 1995) fun means “a source of amusement, enjoyment, or pleasure.” So what does your child find enjoyable? What activities amuse him? And keep in mind that the root word that fun came from meant to act foolish. So it’s okay if the activity requires you to be silly.
Play, in general, should also be voluntary and spontaneous. You may have to pull them away from the TV or computer to get them started, but as soon as you’ve developed a habit of consistent play times (either with you, friends, or alone) they’ll be more likely initiate play more often. You can also give them the opportunity to pick the activity (within limits that encourage unstructured or interactive play) to help encourage play.
Play should also be active. This covers play that requires a lot of physical activity (tag, hide-and-go-seek, basketball) as well as imaginative play (having a tea party, play-dough, building blocks) and interactive play (board games, dominos). Computer games can be considered somewhat interactive, but play with another individual or with the imagination are much more stimulating. Watching television is the opposite of active, and although many find it enjoyable and do it voluntarily, it’s only useful for vegetating.
Lastly, play should at some point include make-believe. Younger children (beginning around age 3) do this very well and more frequently. However, there are many ways to encourage creative play in older children as well. Building things, making up stories, drawing, working on art projects, and reading help children to build on the skills of imaginative play.
So, now that you know all of the advantages of play, that it’s an essential part of development, and what play is, you can determine to make it a part of your lifestyle. You can make it a goal, actually written down or just kept conscious in your mind, to encourage your children to play more. Hopefully you’ll reap all the benefits of playing with your child and maybe you’ll even be reminded that play is an important part of life, even for parents.

Playing Purposefully - part 1

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:16 PM 0 comments
One day recently I sat down on the floor with my 22-month old son (okay I wrote this a couple of years ago, but it’s still true) and just hung out with him while he played. Every once in a while he handed me a toy and engaged me in play, but mostly I was able to just watch him play. I was truly amazed at the things I learned and was reminded of in that brief 30 minutes of down time.
The first thing I realized was how infrequently I just hang out with my children. When my daughter, now almost 4, was one I hung out with her while she played several times a week. Then I was working part time. Now I’m a full-time stay-at-home mom. But having more than one child, and often at least one in addition to my own, I had gotten into the habit of busying myself while the kids played. I would do activities with them, feed them, etc., but I had stopped hanging out with them.
Sitting on the floor of my son’s room I realized all that had been missed by not purposefully taking the time to just be with my children. First, I was missing out on the quality time that happens when we’re present with someone we love with no end or goal in mind. These special times silently build bonds that say, “I’m here. Not for any other reason than I love you.”
I was also missing the chance to glean immeasurable amounts of information. The information that can be gathered during free play include developmental, social and emotional. Often our children grow and develop new skills and abilities right before our eyes. However, because it happens so gradually and we parents tend to be so busy, we miss small developments. We no longer stand by to catch them as they teeteringly try to sit, stand, or walk on their own. In observing free play we have an opportunity to check out whether he is starting to pretend that toys are something else or if she is starting to truly play cooperatively with others.
Another bit of useful information that can be gleaned is about their interests. Is she changing her focus from horses to playing mommy? Does he tend to pick puzzles more of cars? Sometimes children’s interests and preferences are obvious (like my son who eats, sleeps, and breaths trains), but some are a little more subtle.One last piece of information that can be gleaned is what your child is picking up from the world around him. Children are sponges and, especially when they’re young, act as mirrors to their environment. Are there certain behaviors that are being picked up from you or your spouse? (Some of these may reinforce what you’re doing, others may encourage you to examine yourself.) What is your child learning from their peers and teachers? What parts of their favorite tv show is she imitating? All of these questions help you to determine how and what your child learns from his or her environment and may even lead to discussions on a variety of topics.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Random Mommy Tip #5

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:06 AM 1 comments
One way we help moms is by sharing recipes. I'm always looking for new, easy, yummy recipes. I'll share one I've been using for years, but just recently started eating again. When used within reason, this is a very balanced, low fat, healthy meal.
Ingredients:
pasta (spaghetti noodles, angel hair, shells, or twists, whatever your favorite is)
grape tomatoes
cucumber
shredded cheese (I prefer cheddar, but any will work)
Italian or Ranch & Vinaigrette (mixed) Dressing

A serving consists of 2/3 - 1 cup of pasta with your desired amount of cut up veggies, cheese and dressing. This dish can be made low fat by using low fat cheese and dressing. It's light, fresh and can be made up in larger portions to be quick. It's balanced because you have your carb, your veggies and your protein.

Do you have a great, quick and/or healthy recipe? Please share with me.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

4 Essential Elements of Parenting [part 3]

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:34 AM 0 comments
Now, consistency does not mean an out-of-balance rigid style of parenting. As important as love is to applying discipline, there also needs to be some flexibility in routine and rules. A child flourishes in a loving environment with consistent boundaries and discipline, but there often occurs situations which call for adapting. For example, if your child is sick, you are probably going to relax the television and eating rules. As our children grow, we must continue to reevaluate their personality and developmental level in order to ensure that boundaries and discipline are appropriate (Holden, 1996.) The results of a 15-year-old living within the limits that were set when they were 5 are disastrous. As observant parents we need to pay attention to what is going on with our children to see if a situation calls for a different reaction. In general, whining is not tolerated in my household, but invariably it shows up increasingly when my daughter is sleepy. Although it is made clear to my daughter that whining is not acceptable, at times it’s more appropriate to talk about her feeling sleepy and how we can express ourselves better, rather than putting her in time out or taking away a prized possession immediately. The rule doesn’t change, but circumstances are taken into consideration, just as they are if your child has a bad day at school or gets hurt.

So, all we’re called to do is to love abundantly, discipline effectively, remain consistent, and be flexible, at the right times. Lest this task seem too daunting, we need to apply all of this information to the knowledge that we are not doing this job of parenting alone or without guidance. All parenting advice and recommendations should be viewed in light of scripture and what God impresses on us through his Holy Spirit as we continue to grow in our relationship with Him. He is our parent, the Ultimate Parent and models perfect parenting for us to flourish in as parents ourselves.

Friday, July 31, 2009

4 Essential Elements of Parenting [part 2]

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 5:33 PM 0 comments
Often we don’t feel like we’re loving our children when we discipline them because it feels bad. We wish that our children would be perfect or that we could get them to understand through reasoning (which hardly ever works, no matter what age the child is.) Without a doubt we are called to consistently discipline our children. It’s dangerous to rely on our feelings or physical energy in applying discipline. Feelings are fickle. Our strength must come from our relationship with God. Knowing things like the fact that, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” is very helpful as a parent. I never realized that the unpleasantness of discipline also applies to the one who doles it out!

Most people can rectify the ideas of love and discipline as being complimentary in parenting, but consistency and flexibility seem to be obviously incongruous. They, however, like love and discipline, are both essential for effective parenting. The issue of being consistent continues to show up in parenting research and education classes (Sells, 2003; Welchel, 2005.) Children feel most comfortable when there is consistency in their lives. It feels safe when they know what to expect. Children need consistency not only in daily routines, but also in discipline. It completely throws a child off balance when they do the same action but get different results each time. Imagine what it would be like if you used your lunch hour every day to sit at your desk and catch up on some reading. On most days if your boss comes by he stops and chats a minute and then walks on. Then, randomly, he yells at you for eating at your desk. It would make you extremely uncomfortable and unsure of yourself. That’s exactly how our children feel when we let them get away with some behavior until we are “fed up” with it and yell at or punish them; or when we change the rules mid-game. As parents, it’s our job to determine what the rules are, make them clear, and then enforce them. If you don’t have the energy or desire to enforce a rule or boundary, it’s best to not ever make it an issue.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

4 Essential Elements of Parenting [part 1]

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:31 PM 1 comments
I have studied parenting for years, as a student and family counselor, long before becoming a parent myself. Then I became a parent myself and delved into parenting magazines and books. Throughout all of this research and learning, there are four themes that are necessary for effective parenting which have stood out and been repeated time and time again. They are: Love, Discipline, Consistency and Flexibility. It is keeping these characteristics in balance, along with a foundational relationship with God, which will help us be successful parents.

At first glance it may seem that these characteristics of parenting are somewhat contradictory. There are many beliefs about parenting in our world, and some of them believe that if you love your child you should not discipline him. Others promote strict discipline and warn parents not to be too affectionate with their children, lest they become spoiled. Reliable and well-respected research on parenting supports the theory that a balance between love and discipline is the most effective way to parent (Santrock, 1999.) Scripture actually tells us that if we love our children we will discipline them. Proverbs 3:12 states that, “… the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in” (NIV.) Just as God disciplines us to keep us focused on Him and His plan, He calls on us as parents to use discipline to keep our children on the right path. But even more than that, God’s Word says that “If you refuse to discipline your son, it proves you don’t love him; for if you love him you will be prompt to punish him.” (Proverbs 13:24, TLB.)

We don’t discipline out of obligation or because someone (or everyone) says we should. We discipline because we love. That also means that we are to discipline with love. Throughout the Bible there are numerous accounts of God disciplining His children. He tailors each act of discipline according to the infraction and child being chastised. The common factor, however, was that each correction was given in love. We are to follow the examples that God has given us through scripture. According to God’s Word, love is: patient, kind, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, rejoices with the truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-8.) This is the definition of the kind of love that we are to live out as we discipline our children. Discipline is applied with the best interest of the child in mind. It is meant to protect our children and guide them along the path that God has laid out for them.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Top 10 Reasons to Have a Baby

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:48 AM 3 comments
(1) You are getting too much sleep. You’ve really gotten into a bad habit of sleeping 7-8 hours consistently each night. You like a challenge and feel that life would be much more challenging on about 6 hours of sleep that’s been interrupted 2-3 times each night.

(2) You have too much free time. You’re days are spent listlessly and frivolously and need something to fill your hours with. If you have a baby you’ll be taking many more pictures. By the time you work on in your scrapbook and read all of the parenting books and magazines, surely you won’t be quite so bored with life.

(3) You have too much money. Your money is just piling up in a 401K or being thrown away on vacations and clothes that you really don’t need. You feel that your money would be better spent on diapers, clothes for someone else, and a college fund.

(4) You’re spending too much time with your friends. You get to hang out with your friends once, twice, and sometimes even three times a week. You are looking for a legitimate excuse to stay home.

(5) You’re getting tired of eating your meals uninterrupted and with two hands. It would be much more exciting to get to nurse, bottle-feed, or spoon-feed a child while trying to eat yourself.

(6) You only get to wear one outfit a day. Babies get all sorts of things on your clothes, and that will be a great excuse to change clothes two or three times a day.

(7) You take too long of a shower. There’s nothing like a screaming baby, sound of a crash, or worse yet – sudden silence to motivate you to conserve water.

(8) You want to branch out your tv watching. You long to find out who Dora, Calliou, Thomas, and Blue are.

(9) Your house is too neat and clean. You feel the need to add an assortment of baby items (swing, bassinet, bouncy seat, etc), toys, and books to your interior design. Also, you’d like the dust to pile up a little more so that you can really notice when you clean.

(10) You don’t get enough advice from people in your life. You need help to make daily decisions from the people closest to you (your mother, mother-in-law, sister, friend, stranger at the grocery store.) You’ll begin to wonder how you ever made it through on your own!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mommy Time

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:32 AM 0 comments
I had something the last two days that I really didn't expect so soon after having baby number 4. I had two afternoons that were quiet and uninterrupted for hours. Hubby was out on the boat with the older kids, so he was happy, and baby and I were at home staying out of the heat. Since both mornings were busy and she didn't get a long nap, she slept for 3-4 hours both afternoons. And I had mommy time!!!

Yesterday I got some writing done and some relaxing done. Today I took a nap and then got a little writing done. It reminded me how much I charish my alone time. It recharges me and helps me be a better mom (and wife) when everyone comes piling through the door. I think all us moms need some mommy time, although what we do with it to get recharched is probably very different. Researching and writing would probably add stress to many moms.

While we all need some mommy time once in a while it is also one of those things that needs to stay in balance. Even though I had about 4 hours to myself, I still wasn't quite ready when it ended. However, I had to embrace how fortunate I was to get that time and remember that now I had time to enjoy my little ones, who will never be who they are today again. I love my time with my little ones, but I'm also very grateful for a little mommy time alone to help keep my life in balance.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Two More Hands Please

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:01 AM 0 comments
When doing things around the house holding on to one child or another I often have the thought that it would be nice to have a couple more hands. But then I think of all I do with the two I do have and know that I would just get myself completely overwhelmed if I had two more hands to work with. God, in His infinite wisdom, definately knew what He was doing when He limited us to two hands.




However, I do believe that He meant for us moms to have extra hands another way. Throughout scripture we are admonished to love one another. As a mom, that loving of other moms comes through supporting each other and helping each other out. This is often easier said than done since we all have so many responsibilities in our own homes. However, if we make the effort to help each other out, we all benefit. We don't feel like we have to be perfect in front of each other. We build stronger friendships. And we get more done. I'm very grateful for the moms in my life (especially my mom and mil) who are willing to pitch in a be a part of my life in so many tangible ways in addition to just "being" in my life. They are true blessing to me and make me want to be a blessing too.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Calm in the Storm

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:47 AM 0 comments
Have you ever had a storm in your house? We've had a real storm. We thought we lived on high ground until Hurricane Isabel caused the river and canal met in our yard. We always wanted waterfront property, but this wasn't what we had in mind. During the storm we anxiously watched the water rise far above where we ever thought it would go. We even began moving furniture upstairs. It was not a very calm day in our house. We survived Isabel and fared much better than many of our neighbors.

There's been many days since that one that it has felt like we were hunkered down in a storm. Although, these storms are generally less destructive than a real hurricane (generally, I said) but much more emotional. These are the storms that come from tired, frustrated, and/or stubborn children. Since young children don't yet have the skills to temper their reactions to things, the smallest upset can turn into a fierce storm in a heatbeat. As a new mom, these storms often took me by surprise and threw me off course like a dinghy in the ocean.

Now I handle these storms much better. I always new that my children needed me to be calm and consistent as they lost it. But knowing and doing are not always the same. So what has helped me stay calm in the storms of mommyhood? Mostly a lot of time with my face on the floor and my eyes looking up. Instead of dwelling in the bad places I learned to throw myself on the floor and beg for strength from God. I also recognized that part of the problem was my short temper, so I did intensive Bible studies on this topic, as well as a few others. Over time, as I studied God's Word and began to rely on Him more, He provided me with the tools I needed to be the mom He designed me to be and that my kids need me to be.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

When Nothing Fits

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:14 AM 0 comments
Have you ever noticed that sometimes it's the little things that are super frustrating? Even when bigger things are going on, there are plenty of other things for me to be concerned (not worried) and pray about, I still walk in my closet and get disgusted at the lack of real choices. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty in there. But nothing fits. I always forget how frustrating this time is with my body and clothes. It's what I like to call the 4th trimester.

This is just one of the little frustrations of life that can take over. Although irritating, it's best for my own health and sanity to take it in perspective. The 4th trimester is the result of a small sacrifice (9 months really is a short time, no matter how uncomfortable or exhausting) for a beautiful, healthy addition to my life. A little more time and some hard work to get back into my clothes really aren't a big deal in the scheme of things. As aggravating as it is to find something to wear without repeating the same things dozens of times, I know that I can choose not to let it get to me. Instead, I can remember how many women went through a pregnancy but didn't go home with a healthy baby. I can remember how many people in this world don't have enough clothes to protect them from the elements on a daily basis. And I can remember that part of the reason my clothes don't fit is because I've never had to want for food. When I remember those things, it's not so bad to walk into my closet each morning.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Where Time Goes

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:35 PM 1 comments
Where does the time go? This question gets asked all the time. As I sit to write my daily bit, I can hardly believe that it's almost 9 p.m. It was a good day, but as I reflect on it I wonder what I really got done. I haven't been making my lists lately, so I actually have to reflect on the day. Well, lets see. I fed 4 kids breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I cleaned up after all those meals. I went to the grocery store and the consignment shop (sans kids, thanks to mom!) I washed clothes, but got none folded and put up. I mopped most of the downstairs. I picked some veggies out of the garden. I exercised and did my Bible Study. And I sat down with 2 of the girls for some reading time. Oh, yeah, and I nursed however many times it was that Emily was hungry and held her for however long she needed me to.

Whew. I guess I did get some things accomplished today, even though looking at my house you might not know it. I still see all the piles of things that didn't get done. Sometimes as a mom, and especially as a stay-at-home mom where there's people in the house all day to mess it up, it seems that most of my time keeping my head above water. Sometimes I get to swim a little (doggy pattle at best) and make progress, but mostly just treading water.

But that's just the way it is right now. I can see some calm seas ahead, as each child gets older and more capable of doing things him/herself. One day, I know, they will all be perfectly capable and then I will miss the moments when they were small. Even though sometimes it is crazy busy and sometimes a whole day passes without hardly a thought, moments like this remind me that tomorrow I need to make sure and take time to sit and enjoy being with my children. The toys will get put away and the clothes will get folded, but we will never have today again.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Spirit of Self-Discipline

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:58 PM 1 comments
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

Self-discipline. Oh my. Do I really have to go there? I guess since I started this, I’ll continue on until the end. I almost forgot. I covered love and power and then got distracted onto consequences. But I’m going to practice allowing the spirit of self-discipline to have control and return to finish this topic.

Self-discipline is a difficult concept. As parents we see that our children don’t have much self-discipline. I almost said none, but I saw an example of it just today. My son earned a time out for breaking a rule and decided to throw a screaming fit while in time out. I’m not sure how he thought this would make things better, but he’s four, so his logical thinking development is long from being fully developed. I let him know that his time out didn’t truly start until the screaming stopped, but this made no impact. He was not exhibiting self-discipline to stop crying. However, one mention of a spanking suddenly helped him access a spirit of self-discipline. The fit stopped immediately.

This was an opportunity for me to help my son experience self-discipline. (It wouldn’t have been if I’d had to actually follow through with my warning.) I find that I have multiple opportunities to exercise self-discipline every day. It may be in relation to making healthy food choices, doing laundry instead of checking email, or speaking in compassion instead of frustration. Giving up the will of my flesh to the will of God and spirit of self-discipline isn’t generally fun for the moment. The rewards, however, are far greater than not.

As I access the spirit of self-discipline I grow as a mom. I am much more peaceful. I am much more content. And the household runs much more smoothly. Within myself I fall short of exercising self-discipline. But with God providing the spirit of self-discipline and me practicing more and more to choose to access that spirit, I can make disciplined choices, reap the rewards of those choices, and better teach my children to access the spirit of self-discipline, which will benefit them in the long run.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Consequences

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 4:24 PM 0 comments
Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse-The blessing if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you this day; And the curse if you will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you this day to go after other gods, which you have not known. Deuteronomy 11:26-28

As I read these words I am reminded what great parenting wisdom is in the Bible. These words are the basic tenents of consequences. We set rules and expect our children to follow and obey them. If we are doing our job as parents (which is often harder in action than it is in principle) we will hold our children accountable for whether they choose to obey our rules or not. And as much as we beg and plead and repeat ourselves, our job is not complete and done well unless there are consequences to their behavior. We basically set a curse (negative consequences) and a blessing (positive consequences) before them. It's their choice which they want.

When we understand that negative consequences are something that our children choose, it decreases the guilt we feel when we have to withhold or take away something. No parent likes enforcing negative consequences, it's unpleasant. However, it's almost always the only way a child will learn to make good choices. Otherwise they'll grow up with the immature belief that they can do whatever they want and not pay for bad choices; and be shocked one day when they do face severe negative consequences and a string of ruined relationships.

No, we need to focus on the end goal, which is a fruitful and peaceful life, which comes from heading effective, loving discipline. (No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11) And remember that we set rules and boundaries for our children's safety, and if they choose to break rules and disobey (even in small things) they are choosing the negative consequence.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Spirit of Love

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:49 AM 1 comments
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

Love. Love is so necessary in life, but most definitely as a mom. Love of a mom is supposed to come naturally. Who couldn’t love a sweet, innocent baby. But feeling love and acting in love consistently to a highly demanding baby (or toddler, or child,or teen) are two different things. And acting in love is not always easy and does not always come naturally.

Some people were never taught loving actions from those who were supposed to love them. Some people are too selfish to give up their wants and desires to fulfill those of another. Some people become trapped in depression and a cycle of negativity and don’t have the mental or physical energy to love. None of us have it within ourselves to consistently act in a loving manner to everyone we come in contact with. Love as a human feeling comes and goes. It is not reliable. God’s love, however, is perfect, and if we fully embrace His spirit of love we can better love others.

This is especially true as a mom. Being a mom is the most demanding job any of us could ever have. It takes everything we have in ourselves and often more. Even though I've never stopped loving my children for a minute, there have been plenty of times I haven't felt like putting the effort into a loving action. Sometimes I'm too tired at night to read, tuck in, and do prayers. Sometimes I really want to get an article or chapter finished and don't want to stop to look at the newest drawn picture. I think as moms we've all had moments of wanting to stay in ourselves and not do whatever the latest "urgent" task is.

In myself, I would more often than not take the selfish and easy route. But with the power and love that comes from Christ, I can rely on His Spirit to making loving choices. I don't always make that choice, but knowing that He's given me His spirit of love is an essential part of making more consistent, loving choices.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Spirit of Power

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:48 AM 1 comments
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

Power is essential to moms. Not power over my children. Not power over my circumstances. Not physical power. No, the power I need as a mom is the power of the Holy Spirit. I need power to get up in the middle of the night and deal with a screaming child when I’m exhausted from months of being sleep deprived. I need power when I’m in the middle of something and am asked to stop in order to take care of someone’s needs. I need power when I don’t feel good and still have four children who need me to be a loving mom.

When I rely on my own power, I am inconsistent, temperamental, and often fail to be the mom I want to be. My power as a human waxes and wanes, but the power of God and His Spirit never does. As I examine what kind of mom I am, one question I ask is, “am I relying on myself, or on God?” The answer changes more frequently than I’d care to admit. But the more I ask this question, the more I am reminded to rely on God and His power in my every day life as a mom.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How do I measure?

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:47 AM 2 comments
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

As I reflect on what kind of mom I am I must consider where I get the measuring stick I use to determine how I’m doing, how far I’ve come, and what things I need to work on. If I use ever-changing, multiple-perspective worldly measures, I’d never have a settled identity as a mom. I’d never be confident as a mom, not knowing what different recommendation would come next. If I look to the infallible, never-changing Word of God, however, I can continue to grow in my abilities and confidence as a mom.

Paul used many words to encourage a young Timothy, left in charge of a flock of new believers. As Timothy tried to guide these new believers as Paul guided him, he needed to know who he was, not in himself, but in Christ. The spirit that God gives us as believers includes power, love, and self-discipline. As a mom, these characteristics are very important.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mommy Perspectives

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 2:10 PM 0 comments
Today my fourth and final baby is six weeks old. Yesterday I went back to work for the first time without her. Needless to say, I’ve been very reflective over the last few days. Knowing that this is the last baby I’ll have makes every moment more of a treasure than ever before. And it is so different than the when I had my first baby and was a new mom.

I love being a mom and wouldn’t want my life to be less filled with children. However, when my first baby was six weeks old and I went back to work for the first time it was like I had regained a bit of freedom that had been ripped from my life the day I came home with my new baby. As a naturally independent person, being on call and in demand 24/7 was extraordinarily difficult.

My first, sweet baby girl and I (and daddy) worked through all our adjustments that first year and grew to love our new life together and were soon expecting baby number two. Now that I’m a mom of four little ones I can’t help but to think about how much has changed in those short, fast six years. What kind of mom I was then, and what kind of mom I am now. What I’ve given up, slowly, sadly, gladly. What I’ve gained – endless hugs and kisses and smiles. Grimaces as my little ones became more and more adventurous. Grins and giggles at silly antics and tickle fests. Worlds of growth (not just for them) and major changes in perspectives. Gracious increases in patience (which will hopefully continue.)

I have lived and completely understand the reason people say children in the same have different parents. My oldest and youngest definitely have gotten different moms. And hopefully all of my children will benefit from everything being their mom has taught me.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Sowing and Reaping

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 12:55 PM 0 comments
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 2 Corinthians 9:6

When gardening the truth of these words play out before your eyes. Each year I've had a garden I've planted a little bit more and a little bit differently. The first year I had several squash and zucchini plants which produced abundantly. My husband was glad not to see a squash for the 9 months in between gardening time after that summer. Even though these verses are amidst discussion about financial gifts to support the work of God's apostles, it applies to any area of life, including parenting.

How much and what I sow in my children's lives will determine what and how much is reaped in their lives. Although there's no direct correlation (as in a garden where some plants do better than others, drought can affect production, and critters can steal and/or destroy plants/veggies) between sowing and reaping, there is a direct relationship. If I sow impatience with my children, they will be impatient. If I sow a love for reading with my children, they will be more likely to enjoy reading. If I sow inconstency with my children, they will not trust me. Just as the type of seeds I plant in my garden determine the types of vegetation I'll reap, the seeds I plant in my children in what I teach them through lessons and through modeling will help determine the types of fruits they will develop in their lives.

As I go about my day, with the abundance of responsibilities and desires pulling at my attention, it is important for me to be mindful and intentional about what I'm sowing in my children's lives. Am I making them feel loved and special? Am I teaching them to love the Lord, themselves, and others? Am I teaching them to be responsible and unselfish? Am I paying attention to their natural abilities and talents? Am I planting and nurturing Godly values in their lives? Little questions with big impact on how they develop.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pulling Weeds

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 5:19 PM 0 comments
One of the most time consuming tasks of maintaining a garden is weed-management. I'm old-fashioned and don't use any chemical weed killer. I pull my weeds. In previous years we've placed grass clippings in between rows to slow weed growth and this year the plan is to use newspapers - our own personal recycling program. Regardless of what we do, however, I still end up spending a lot of time pulling weeds. Part of the reason I won't use weed-killer is that I secretly (not so much now, I guess) enjoy pulling weeds. For one, I've discovered that it's fairly good excercise and helps me maintain healthy sugar levels. Second, it gives me plenty of time to think, reflect, and pray. Third, it's a reminder of how vigilant we have to be about the weeds that grow in our lives.

Weeds in our lives can be any variety of things, including negative thoughts, lack of self-control, anger, lack of faith, and bad habits. Anything that goes against God's perfect plan and will for our lives and keeps us from a faithful, consistent, deep relationship with our Creator is a weed. My garden reminds me how various they are - I have crabgrass, clover, and various vines and other things I don't know the name of. If I were to pick only one type of weed my garden would soon be overrun by the other weeds and my vegetables would be choked out. The same is true in my life. While I often put more energy into fighting a particular "weed" in my life, if I were ever to completely ignore the other weeds, they would quietly take over and choke out the relationships I have with my Lord and those people He's placed in my life.

My garden also reminds me how consistent and diligent I need to be in pulling weeds. They grow fast and increase greatly, no matter how clear I believe a spot is. Just a few days of neglect leads to a wealth of weeds. The same is true of my spiritual life. I must continually utilize my "weeding tools" (Bible reading and study, prayer, and fellowship with other Christians) to keep the weeds out. It only takes short periods of time of neglecting these areas of my life for weeds to creep up and threaten to take over.

My garden also reminds me how harmless many weeds look. I have one particular weed that grows on a vine. It will actually flower if I let it grow long enough. It even looks fairly decent - pretty green rounded leaves and little purple flowers. However, it doesn't belong in my garden and will take over and steal nutrients from my vegetables if I let it grow. There are many things in our lives which also look harmless and sometimes even pleasant, which mean to decieve us into thinking "it's not that bad. It can't be, it's too pretty." However, if God doesn't want it in our life, if it will not produce fruit, or help produce fruit, it doesn't belong and should be eliminated. That way the true fruit (or vegetables) have plenty of room to grow and flourish in our lives.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Perspectives from a Garden

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 3:59 PM 0 comments
One lesson I'm consistently reminded of while working in my garden is how different things can look based on my perspective. As I squat to weed I get everything I can see. When I stand up and lean over, I see a whole new set of weeds. As I move down the row or to the other side of the row I once again see weeds that were missed from my previous position and perspective. The different things I notice and see as I change my physical perspective reminds me of how important my mental/emotional perspective is.

As a mom my perspective has changed drastically over the years. I was talking with a close friend this week about my transformation from overwhelmed, stressed, tied-down-feeling new mom to a peaceful, joyful, love-being-home mom of four. Many things have changed in my life over the last six years, since I was a new, first-time mom. But none of them have created circumstances that would make life less stressful.

Being a very independent and selfish person (two qualities that are hailed and pushed in our culture) I was not ready to be on call for a demanding infant 24/7. I had always wanted to be a mom, loved my baby, and was grateful for her, but was stressed at what the reality of being a new mom meant. But when she was about a year old God put a Bible Study in my hands that began to change my heart and my perspective on myself, my focus in life, and thus on being a mom. As I began to change my perspective from "what about me?", "but I deserve...," and "I wish things were different," (so they'd make things easier on me) I began to truly grasp the things that I was desperately chasing. Instead my perspective became more focused on growing closer to God so that I could more clearly see His will and let Him work in my life. My perspective on myself began to change (seeing myself for the selfish person I am), my perspective on my husband began to change (seeing all the wonderful things he does instead of nit-picking the things he doesn't do), and my perspective on my children began to change (seeing them for all the wonderful things they bring to my life, not the work and energy they cost me.)

Having the right perspective is still something that I pray about and work on consistently. God has to remind me through His Word and every day things like moving around in my garden to see new weeds to remind me that I also need to check my perspective on my life and make sure that I'm seeing things from His truth, and not from my selfish desires.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Lessons from a Garden

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 6:44 AM 0 comments
Each year, for the last four years, I have planted a vegetable garden. Each year it seems to get a little bit bigger and a little bit more diverse. And each year God uses my garden to feed not only my body, but also my mind and spirit. As I spend hours a week in my garden - checking my plants, pulling weeds, harvesting vegetables -there is lots of time to think, process and pray, even though I always have one ear and the frequent eye on the children to make sure they're doing what they should be doing.

As I work, I'm reminded of many past lessons and occasionally receive new lessons. It has been quite amazing to me to see all that God can do in me while performing the simple tasks of gardening. The first, and not least, of which is the fact that I am gardening at all.

Growing up my mom had a garden. No, not just a garden, she had a yard full of vegetables. We lived on two and a half acres, and the garden took up at least half an acre. And I hated it. I didn't want to spend my precious hours pulling weeds and picking vegetables. I had more important things to do, like call my friends, listen to the latest top 40 hits, and sunbathe. But even though I hated the work of the garden, I loved the produce from it. Our favorite dinners growing up were when my dad wasn't going to be home to eat, because we would have a fresh-out-of-the-garden dinner (you know how men are about meat and potatoes.) And it's that love of fresh veggies that God instilled in me early that brought me to planting my own garden and opening myself up for Him to work in me through it time and time again.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Another Great Website Found!

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 12:17 PM 1 comments
If you have children in grade school, whether you homeschool or not, this is a great website. I found it looking for cursive templates that I could personalize - I found so much more! www.kidzone.ws has information and worksheets by topic – including animal facts, geography, language arts, lesson plans, magic tricks, math, science, and thematic units – or by grade – preschool through grade five. Preschool includes alphabet recognition games, learning letter sounds, color recognition worksheets, scissor skills, shape recognition worksheets, and much, much more. First grad has consonant recognition and practice, tracer pages, math worksheets, Dolch (sight) words, phonics, science experiments and facts and thematic units. The tools for other grades are just as good and various (those just happen to be the grades I’m teaching right now) as these.

We use websites to supplement learning all the time and I’m always excited to find new ones. Ones we stick to for games are www.pbskids.org, www.nickjr.com, and www.starfall.com. Another great website for customizable worksheets is www.handwritingworksheets.com. www.schoolexpress.com is also a great resource website for parents.

Do you have a great parenting website? Please share it! Happy learning!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sick Days

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 6:49 AM 1 comments
Sick days aren’t what they used to be. When I think back to high school and college days, sick days were usually days when I wanted a break. They were days to do nothing and go nowhere. I’d flip through the channels until that got old and then maybe curl up with a book. Anything went for food, but soup or a bowl of pasta was typical fair. Sick days were days of rest and recuperation. Even when I got my first “real” job after college I was able to take a mental health days. I worked in healthy place that believed that mental health days helped employees be more productive when they were at work. I didn’t even have to use my vacation, I could actually schedule a sick day.
Now I’m a mom and sick days have taken on a whole new meaning. There are no days off, with rest, relaxation, reading, and flipping channels on the agenda. When I do get a day “off” – meaning the house with no children for a day – it’s generally spent catching up with chores and used to do special projects that have been put off for who knows how long. True sick days – those days where I’m truly sick – are still not days of rest. Generally, as a mom, you keep on keeping on even when you feel bad. There are still children who need to be taken care of, fed, and loved. Their needs don’t vaporize because mommy doesn’t feel good. On occasion help can be recruited (my husband has been known to stay home to help out, but a day is about max tolerance for being in the house with a sick wife and a bunch of little ones.) Usually, however, you don’t want to share your germs, and no one want to take the risk anyway. So sick days, even true sick days, end up trying to function through a thick fog with every thought focusing on the next time you can crawl into bed, but knowing that just getting to lay down on the floor and being crawled on would suffice.
Sick days as a mom also include when the kids get sick. Life stops. Routine stops. Chores stop. Rules lax. Even more so than when mommy’s sick, everything comes to a screeching halt. Although all kids deal with feeling bad differently, they tend to want mommy. They want mommy to hold them, snuggle with them, and just be there. The focus becomes medicine schedules, and fluid intake, and temperature readings. Oh yeah, and dragging sick (and all other non-sick) children out to the doctor’s office and then to the pharmacy to wait for half an hour for medicine. Housework waits. Showers wait. Sleep waits.
Hopefully it passes in a day or two, although sometimes it’s a week or two. It’s exhausting and trying, but worth every minute. The laundry will eventually get done. The dishes will eventually get done. The dust will sit and wait. But just like everything else, when we put our kids first, it is completely worth it. Sometimes it takes sick days for us to stop and focus solely on these precious gifts. Sick days: no fun, but a wonderful opportunity to stop and say “I love you” one more way.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Laundry

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 6:24 AM 2 comments
I never knew how much laundry would dominate my life! With a household of five I do between 6-8 loads a week. I'm learning to combine things a little better and stuff loads, which helps with the actual number, but doesn't change the amount to fold, hang, and put away. I've tried various methods - one a day, only putting an extra load in when the one out of the dryer is put a way - but right now I've settled on the laundry day, where everything gets done in one (or two) days.

That isn't always enough, however. For added fun this week I decided it was time to switch out my youngest's clothes. She's 23 months and starting to potty train herself, so there really was a slight need. She's growing out of some of her 18 month clothes and I needed to find the training panties I knew were with the 24 month/2T clothes. In the meantime I found several bags of clothes where I had thrown items as the girls have grown out of them. That means there are a few things of every size (from 12 months to 6) all jumbled together. I hate finding a cute outfit that wasn't with the right size after it's been grown out of (and it's easier to make the switch if everything's together.)

So now my den has been taken over by clothes. It's very overwhelming looking at the mountains of clothes everywhere, but I sit down and take it piece by piece. It's something that needs to be done, and I thank God for the more than generous supplies we have for our children. I know with baby number 4 on the way I'll start the every 3 month clothing turn over again soon, and will probably be overwhelmed with laundry again with tons of baby clothes (little, yes, but there's so many with babies that cover outfits with spit up and/or have a blow out at least once a day), summer laundry (towels, swim suits, etc.), and all the regular stuff. When that happens I'll just have to come back to this post, and remind myself that it doesn't last forever - and one day they'll be old enough to do it all on their own! (yes, they are in training.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Throwing a Child's Birthday Party Under $100

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:08 PM 0 comments
I’ve been to a couple of Birthday parties lately that have cost (to my best guestimate) between $300-$400. One was a location party and included ordered pizzas. The second had Cinderella come visit. In between these two parties my husband and I threw a party at home for our two oldest children (who’s birthdays are conveniently 3 days apart.) We’ve never gone all out or spent a lot on Birthday parties and the children always seem to have a blast. This year I decided to try to keep the spending to a minimum. We threw two parties, one for our children’s friends and one for family. Both were held on the same day. Our goal is always to stay under $100, including providing dinner for the family. This year we came well under our goal, with the total expenditure being about $86. Here’s how we did it.
First, we hosted the parties at home. I created post card invitations on my computer and hand delivered as many as possible. We only blew up balloons for decorations (no helium – kids like it better if they’re within their reach to play with anyhow.) We bought minimum numbers of paper products and made the drinks from scratch. I didn’t put out any other food, as we had the party at 2:00 p.m., right after lunch. The cake and icing were home-made, decorating and creating is part of the fun for us and the kids to see what we’ll come up with next. We get cake ideas from coolest-birthday-cakes.com (we also have one posted there under Thomas – Island of Sodor.) I also got party game ideas from partygamecentral.com. We played the spoon race using potatoes instead of eggs (they’re usable even if they get dropped) and the spin until your dizzy game.
I’m not a big fan of gift bags of plastic trinkets and candy for giveaways for guests. Last year I bought dollar books and made paper crowns for each child. This year I bought small clay pots, a bag of seeds and some soil (of which I could use the remainder for my plants I start inside for my garden.) We used paints, glitter glue, and paint brushes that I had in my craft collection for the kids to decorate their pots after they planted their seeds. They loved the craft and fortunately it was warm so we were able to do this outside and let the pots dry while we continued with the party.
The kids party went very well and we stayed right at $50 with everything included. Later in the day we hosted the family party and provided dinner for everyone. We grilled chicken, made a home-made salad from fixing I had around the house from what we normally by at Costco (also where we got the chicken), and made two box rice mixes (just because I forgot to put the real rice on to soak and cook early enough.) There was enough cake left to feed the family as well as some left over. Everyone had a good time and was well fed. The kids had a blast and each had a personal gift take home. I’m sure someone may be able to come up with an even more frugal party, but we’re very happy with our full day of celebrating for under $100.

Here's the expense break-down:
Kid Party (10 young guests)
12 Clay Pots $9
Bag of Seeds $1
Soil $4
Art supplies $0
Invitations $0
Stamps $2
Plates, Cups, Napkins $12
Game ideas/supplies $0
Balloons (bag of 24) $2
Cake (4 boxes, ice cream cones) $9
Icing (home-made) $6
Ice Cream (generic, 2 cartons) $7
Drinks (tea, lemonade, water) $0
Thank You’s (home-made) $0
Thank You postage $4
Total for Kid Party $56

Family Party/Dinner (15 adults)
Chicken Tenders $13
Marinade/oil $2
Rice Mixes $3
Salad fixings $9
Thank You postage $3
Total for Family Party/Dinner $30

Grand Total $86

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Coupon Give-Away!!

I spent over an hour clipping coupons this morning and now have several hundred dollars worth that I don't need. Email me at themommyanswer@verizon.net and I'll put your name in a drawing for them. I'll draw two names on Friday at noon and mail them out next monday.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

After Christmas

I suppose sometimes there's a feeling of let down the day after Christmas. I'm glad that I'm not experiencing it. I feel almost more joyful today. Is it looking around at the gifts the family showered on my children? Is it the knowledge that we can get back to our routine? Is it that my children have been quietly (for the most part) enjoying their new toys and videos?

Maybe it's a little of each of these. Maybe it's that I know that no matter what, no matter what I have, no matter what I do, no matter what I lose, my God is always with me, loving me and working (even when I can't see Him working) all things for my good. Maybe it's that I know that although we set aside Christmas day to celebrate Jesus' birth, we really celebrate it every day we love Him, worship Him, and obey Him.

As I look around at the dust that needs knocked down, the crumbs that need to be sucked up, and the toys that need to be put away, I'm not going to allow myself to get overwhelmed or frustrated. No, I'm going to take care of the home and people that God has entrusted to me the best I can - and hopefully do it singing His praises, because, after all, it's all to Him anyway.

So, Merry after-Christmas Day! I hope the spirit of the Christ-child who became our risen Saviour will stay with you every day.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas for Mommies

Wow! How time flies!! Here it is December 22, three days before Christmas, and I think, "boy, it's been a long time since I've posted on my blog. Let me take a moment while the kids are playing nicely and the baby's asleep to post." Then I go to my blog and low and behold, it's been almost a month since I posted anything!

I suppose that's how it goes, though. I know some people are very good with routine, ritual, and schedules. I used to be a lot better. That is, before I became a stay-at-home mom with four small children. But I suppose I've never really had a routine that lasted any great length of time. My routines seem to come with limited time frames and seasons. But isn't life like that?

When I was a college student, routine was measured by semesters and breaks. I had one job and schedule during the school year and another on breaks. Even when I got my first after-college, full-time job, my schedule was flexible. I worked four tens, or two elevens and two nines, etc. For me, routine is a good thing, but so is flexibility. I think for our children, both are also important. The key is keeping them in balance.

As a homeschooler, as well as a mom of four youngsters, I've learned the great importance of keeping the two in balance. With no flexibility, what's the point of homeschooling? I mean, my reasons for homeschooling are vast, but flexibility is a great benefit. When Daddy's home we can cancel school for a family activity. When friends are out of town, we can do school on the weekend. When Christmas is coming and there is shopping to do, pictures to take, cards to send, and presents to wrap, school can be put on hold to get those time-sensitive things done. And oh, how grateful am I for that time at home while the kids play to get those things done!

But, we must get back to routine. That's part of what makes holidays special: they get us out of our routine. But if we never get back into it, we'll never get things done. It will take my daughter a year and a half to complete 2nd grade. Will my son ever make it to kindergarten? Not if I don't get us back on track. That doesn't mean a rigid, inflexible schedule once the holidays are over. It does mean keeping focused and recognizing the things that need to be done (for me as well as for them) in order to make progress.

I love the holidays - everything about Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year's: family get-togethers, festive music, lights, giving gifts, receiving and sending cards, remembering to be thankful, fresh starts, and family get-togethers! It's nice to have a break from the routine, but it's also nice to know what to expect once all the celebrations are over and things get back to "normal."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankfulness

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But THANKS be to GOD! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:56-58

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Time

If we don't have time to wait on God, then He has no reason to lead us into our destiny. If I truly want to do His will, I need to trust that when He asks me to wait, it is as much a step in the journey as each action I will take during other times of the journey.

I must not wait on the thing, however, that will exhaust me. I must wait on the Lord, then my strength will be renewed. (Beth Moore - Esther Bible Study)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thought for the Day

We all want to be useful.

None of us want to be used.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What to do?

Ever had a bad day? An emotional day? A hormonal day? Ever done something because you felt like it, only to drown in regret and guilt later? When we renew ourselves daily in God's Word, we will create a mind-set and have strength to draw on that will help us do the right thing, rather than just what we feel like.

"Temptations come and we either cave in because we're in the mood to sin or we quick-draw from a mind-set that is stronger than our our mood." - Beth Moore (Esther Bible Study, p.62)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Vote!!!!

Moms, make sure to go vote! Trying to figure out how to go with all the kids at home? Go with a friend and take turns watching the kids in the parking lot/car. There are no lines today and it doesn't take long - but it could have a great affect on things.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I'm Here - Kind of

I have not run away! I have not dropped off the face of the earth - sort of. I have been all consumed for six weeks now in a new world. God gave me a fiction book series and I have been using every spare minute to work on it. Neglecting my house and hopefully not my children too much has helped me complete book 1, now in revisions, and start on book 2. With all that writing and researching agents to send it to, I haven't gotten to blog. I will try to do better, but this is how I am - I hyperfocus on what's at hand.

I will not be posting any more Farm Fresh deals. It's one of those things I like to do and wanted to do, but feel led to give up.

I will do weekly menus when I stop flying by the seat of my pants for dinner every day. Maybe I'll write down last week's menu, since it's put together already....

I have an upcoming blog post on chores and at what ages children can do things - check back later next week.

For today, I'm going to go get moving, getting ready for Halloween, which we do celebrate by letting the children dress up (nothing scary) and go trick or treating. Mommy stays home and serves chili and apple cider to the parents and candy with scripture stapled to it to the kids. No scriptures this year because my printer broke a week and a half ago. I have a new one, and will be printing invites to our church.

Here's are links, for those interested, to some history of Halloween. Did you know there are Roman Catholic roots to the holiday?

http://www.theholidayspot.com/halloween/history.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Farm Fresh Deals

Prego Pasta sauce: $1.79; coupon $.75/3 doubled = 3 for $3.87 (1.29 ea.)

Crest Toothpaste: $1; coupon $1/2 doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for free

Crest Toothpaste: $1; coupon $.75/1 doubled = free

Silk Soymilk: $3.59; $.75/1 coupon doubled = $2.09 ea.

Jimmy Dean Breakfast bowl: $3.49; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $4.98 (2.49 ea.)

Jimmy Dean Entrees: $3.49; $.75/1 coupon doubled = $1.99 ea.

Pepperidge Farm Frozen Bread: $2.49; $.40/1 coupon doubled = $1.69 ea.

V8 Juice 46 oz: 2 for $6; $.50/2 coupon doubled = 2 for $5 ($2.5 ea.)

Campbell’s Chunky soups: $1.79; $.75/4 coupon doubled = 4 for $5.66 ($1.42 ea.)

Campbell’s Condensed soups: $.69; $.40/4 coupon doubled = 4 for $1.96 ($.49 ea.)

Swanson Broth Carton: $2.69; $.50/2 coupon doubled = 2 for $4.38 ($2.19 ea.)

Hostess Cakes Family Size: $2.50; $.50/1 coupon doubled = $1.50 ea.

Swanson Stock Carton: $2.79; $.50/1 coupon doubled = $1.79 ea.

Barilla pasta sauce: $2.69; $.55/1 coupon doubled = $1.59 ea.

Barilla Plus Pasta: $2; $.75/1 coupon doubled = $.50 ea.

Barilla Whole Grain Pasta: $1.39; $.50/1 coupon doubled = $.39 ea.

Beech Nut Stage 2 Baby Food Jars: $.50; $2/16 = 16 for $6 ($.38 ea.)

Tylenol Cold: $5.79; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = $3.79 ea.

Dial Multi Pack Bar: $2.19; $.35/1 coupon doubled = $1.49 ea.

Pantene shampoo/conditioner: $2.99; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $3.98 (1.99 ea.)

General Mills Cereal: $2; $1/3 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 3 for $4 (1.33 ea.)

Yoplait Fiber One Yogurt multipack: $2.50; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = $.50

Yoplait YoPlus Yogurt multipack: $2.50; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = $.50

Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks: $2.50; $.50/2 coupon doubled = 2 for $4 ($2 ea.)

Nature Valley Granola Bars: $2.50; $.40/1 coupon doubled = $1.70 ea.

Pillsbury Cookie Dough: $2.50; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $3 ($1.50 ea.)

Pillsbury Grand Biscuits: $1.69; $.30/2 coupon doubled = 2 for $2.78 ($1.39 ea.)

Pillsbury Sweet Rolls: $1.69; $.50/2 coupon doubled = 2 for $2.38 ($1.19 ea.; $.40 coupon $1.29 ea.)

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls: $1.69; $.50/2 coupon doubled = 2 for $2.38 ($1.19 ea.)

Betty Crocker Warm Delights: $1.69; $.50/1 coupon doubled = $.69 ea.

Betty Crocker Cookie Mix: $1.69; $.40/1 coupon doubled = $.89 ea.

Betty Crocker Potato Box: $1.69; $.25/1 coupon doubled = $1.19 ea.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Farm Fresh Deals

I'm back!!!

Betty Crocker Helpers (Tuna, Hamburger, Chicken): on sale for $1; $.75/3 coupon doubled = 3 for $1.50

Tropicana OJ: on sale for $2.99; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $3.98

*Quaker True Delights Granola bars: on sale $1.75; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = free

*Quaker Oatmeal or Oats: on sale $1.75; $1.25/2 coupon = 2 for $2

*Aunt Jemima Mix or Syrup: on sale $1.75; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $1.50

* the above sale price is applicable ONLY if you buy 10 of any combination of listed products


DanActive 4-pack: on sale for $2.49; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 1 for $.49

Turkey Hill Ice Cream: on sale for $3.49; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 1 for $1.49

Kelloggs Raisin Bran Extra, Mini Wheats Little Bites, Froot Loops, Apple Jacks: on sale 2 for $5;
$2/2 coupon = 2 for $3

Kelloggs Pop Tarts: on sale 2 for $4; $.55/1 coupon doubled = $.90 each

Sunshine Cheez It Crackers 7.5 oz or larger: on sale $2.79; $1.50/2 coupon = 2 for $4.08

Tetley Tea: on sale $3.69; $.55 coupon doubled = 1 for $2.59

Aunt Jemima Frozen Pancake: on sale 2 for $5; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $3

Turkey Hill Tea: on sale $2.79; $1/2 = 2 for $3.58

Farm Fresh Deals

I'm back!!!

Betty Crocker Helpers (Tuna, Hamburger, Chicken): on sale for $1; $.75/3 coupon doubled = 3 for $1.50

Tropicana OJ: on sale for $2.99; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $3.98

*Quaker True Delights Granola bars: on sale $1.75; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = free

*Quaker Oatmeal or Oats: on sale $1.75; $1.25/2 coupon = 2 for $2

*Aunt Jemima Mix or Syrup: on sale $1.75; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $1.50

* the above sale price is applicable ONLY if you buy 10 of any combination of listed products


DanActive 4-pack: on sale for $2.49; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 1 for $.49

Turkey Hill Ice Cream: on sale for $3.49; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 1 for $1.49

Kelloggs Raisin Bran Extra, Mini Wheats Little Bites, Froot Loops, Apple Jacks: on sale 2 for $5;
$2/2 coupon = 2 for $3

Kelloggs Pop Tarts: on sale 2 for $4; $.55/1 coupon doubled = $.90 each

Sunshine Cheez It Crackers 7.5 oz or larger: on sale $2.79; $1.50/2 coupon = 2 for $4.08

Tetley Tea: on sale $3.69; $.55 coupon doubled = 1 for $2.59

Aunt Jemima Frozen Pancake: on sale 2 for $5; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $3

Turkey Hill Tea: on sale $2.79; $1/2 = 2 for $3.58

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Weekly Farm Fresh Deals

Progresso Soup vegetable soups: on sale $1/each; $.50/2 coupon doubled = 2 for $1

Colgate toothpaste: on sale $1; $1/1coupon = free

Pillsbury Toaster Strudel pastries: on sale $2.59; $.55/2 coupon doubled = 2 for $4.08

Turkey Hill Tea: on sale $1.79; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $1.58

Turkey Hill Ice Cream: on sale $3; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = $1

Yoplait Delights 4-pack: on sale $2.50; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = $.50

Danactive Yogurt 4-pack: on sale $2.50; $1/1 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = $.50

Campbell’s Soup at Hand Cups: on sale $1.25; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $.50

Campbell’s Select Harvest soups: on sale $1.67; $.40/2 doubled = 2 for $2.54

General Mills: on sale $2.50; $1/2 coupon doubled (Wed. only) = 2 for $3

Blue Diamond Almonds: on sale $3; $.75/1 coupon doubled = $1.50

Ritz: on sale $2.89; bogo coupon = 2 for $2.89

Kellogg’s: $1.50 each when you buy 10 rice krispies treats ($1/2 coupon doubled)/cinnabon
snack bars($.75/1 coupon doubled)/cracker packs; if you have two of each coupon = 10 for $11

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

This week's menu

Sunday - spaghetti sause with angel hair noodles, salad
Monday - ham (glazed, spiral), rolls, fried potatoes (with onion and red pepper), green beans (steamed)
Tuesday - turkey, gravy, brocolli, corn, rolls
Wednesday - steak, baked potatoes, salad
Thursday - leftovers
Friday - ordering pizza!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sing joyful songs

David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals. 1 Chronicles 15:16

Music is a wonderful tool, that we are fortunate to have access to any time we want. Although tainted throughout the generations, music is a gift from God. When we listen to, sing, hum, or remember the joyful, worshipful songs we move closer to God and are filled with His joy. It can change the course of a day, a mood, or the perspective we have on things. What a gift!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Gambler Mommy

You know Kenny Roger's The Gambler, right? Well get the tune in your head and read below.

On a warm summers evenin the phone rang from somewhere
It was my girlfriend finally; we were both walking half asleep.
We’d both been wrapped up in babies, wiping noses and hinies
Til we didn’t know up from down, but we needed to talk.

She said, girl, I’ve made a life out of carin for babies,
And knowin what they’re about and how to stay a step ahead.
So if you don’t mind my sayin, I can hear you’re about at the end.
For a night of babysitting I’ll give you some advice.

So I agreed on a date and she wrote it on the calendar.
Then she sighed and I heard the door shut behind her.
And the night got deathly quiet, and her voice lost all depression.
Said, if you’re gonna outlive em, ya gotta learn to live it right.

You got to know when to hold em, know when to scold em,
Know when to walk away and know when to lunge.
You always count to a hundred when their pushing your buttons.
There’ll be time enough for punishin when the anger’s gone.

Now evry mommy knows that the secret to surviving
Is knowing when to let it go and knowing what to say.
Cause evry child’s a blessing and every child’s a sinner,
And the best that you can hope is for them to love your God.

So when she’d finished speakin, she stayed in the dark silence,
Stepped back into the house and started on laundry.
And somewhere in the darkness the mommy, she was praised.
And in her wisest words I found an ace that I could keep.

You got to know when to hold em, know when to scold em,
Know when to walk away and know when to lunge.
You always count to a hundred when their pushing your buttons.
There’ll be time enough for punishin when the anger’s gone.

Now evry mommy knows that the secret to surviving
Is knowing when to let it go and knowing what to say.
Cause evry child’s a blessing and every child’s a sinner,
And the best that you can hope for is them to love your God.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Farm Fresh Deals

Jimmy Dean Bowls: $3 (buy 2 get 1), $1 coupon (doubled on Wed.) = $1/each; buy three with two coupons get them for $.67 each

Jimmy Dean Entree: $3 (buy 2 get 1), $.75 coupon doubled = $1.50; buy three with two coupons get them for $1 each

Hot/Lean Pockets: $2, $1/3 coupon (doubled on Wed.) = $4 for three ($1.33 each)

Emerald Nuts: buy 1 get 1; $1.50/2 coupon

Crystal Light on the go Drink Mix Sticks: 2/$6; $2/2 coupon = $4 for 2

Betty Crocker Potatoes: $1.69; $.25 coupon doubled = $1.19

Wanchi Ferri Dinner: $4.49; $2 coupon = $2.49

Swanson Chunk Chicken: $1.99; $.75/2 coupon doubled = $2.48 for 2

General Mills Cereals: 2/$7; $1/2 coupon (doubled on Wed.) = $5 for 2

Ovrille Redenbachers Microwave popcorn: 2/$4; $.40 coupon doubled = $1.20 each

Hershey's kisses: $3.79, $1 coupon (doubled on Wed.) = $1.79

Ritz crackers: BoGo; use two coupons to buy for and get back $3 instantly (Nabisco special)

Tide: $10.99; $1 coupon (doubled on Wed.) = $8.99

Spray & Wash: $2.50; $.50 coupon doubled = $1.50

Airwick Freshmatic Ultra Kit: $9.99; $6 coupon (should work) = $3.99

Kleenex tissues: $1.25; $.50/3 coupon doubled = $2.75 for 3

Garnier shampoo/conditioner: $3.79; $.75 coupon doubled = $2.29

Campbell's chicken noodle or tomato soup: $.50; $.40/4 coupon doubled = $1.20 for 4

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

This Week's Menu

Monday - breaded fish, fried potatoes, green beans

Tuesday - swiss steak(brown 2lb floured cube steak in 1/4c olive oil, set aside; cook 3/4c celery & 3/4c onions chopped in remaining oil until soft. Add 1 1/2c ketchup, 1c water, 1/8c A1, tsp worchestershire, & 2T brown sugar. Return meat, cover and simmer on medium for 2 hours), mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables

Wednesday - chick-fil-a (first day of AWANA's)

Thursday - chicken taco ring (brown chicken in olive oil with taco seasoning, spoon onto flattened, staggered crescent rolls, top with cheese, close crescent rolls on top, cook 350 for 150 minutes), salsa, sour cream

Friday - leftovers

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pleasure or Joy?

We find joy not in taking the easy way out or doing what is fun, but pressing through the challenges and things we don't want to do for the long term rewards.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Farm Fresh Deals

Only one coupon that's a $1 that matches sale items this week. All other coupons will be doubled any day of the week.

Yoplait Yogurt Cups .40/6 coupon doubled; on sale 10 for $5 = 6 for $2.20 (.37 each)

Smithfield Smoked Sausage .55/1 coupon doubled; on sale 2 for $6 = 1 for $1.90

Land o Lakes spread/margarine .30/1 coupon doubled; on sale 2 for $5 = 1 for $1.90

Pillsbury sweet rolls .40/2 coupon doubled; on sale $2.99 = 2 for $5.18 (2.59 each)

Pillsbury cookie dough $1/2 or $.55/1 coupon doubled; on sale for $2.49 = 1 for $1.39 or 2 for $2.98 (1.49 each)

Quaker Granola Bars $1/1 doubled ; on sale 2 for $4 = free (doubled coupon on Wed. only)

Crisco Oil $.55/1 coupon doubled ; on sale $3.59 = $2.49

Huggies wipes $.50/1 coupon doubled; on sale $6.99 = $5.99

Huggies Diapers $1.50 coupon; on sale $9.99 = $7.49

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

This Week's Menu

Sunday - roast (cooked in worchestershire, water, and rosemary & herb, 325 for 2 2/1 hours) with carrots and potatoes, rolls, green beans

Monday - turkey (pre-cooked breast) stove top stuffing, brocolli & rolls

Tuesday - leftover day

Wednesday - sweet & sour meatballs (mix 1 1/2 lb hamburger, 2/3c crumbled ritz, liption onion soup mix, 1 egg, 1/4t ginger, 1/4c milk - roll into balls bake 350 for 10-15 minutes; sauce - mix 2T cornstarch & 1/2 brown sugar, add 1 can pineapple juice from pineapple chunks can, 1/3c vinegar, & 1T soy sauce - heat on med/high stirring constantly until thick; add meatballs and 1/2 can of pineapple chunks), rice, green beans

Thursday - pork chops (marinated and cooked in bbq sauce), salad, bread

Friday - parmesan chicken tenders (dip in egg, then parmesan/bread crumb mixture), noodles, marinara sauce, mixed veggies

Monday, September 7, 2009

How do You do it All?

"I don't know how you do all you do" is a statement that I hear quite a bit. It always gets me to thinking, do I really do that much? I'm an almost-stay-at-home mom (I work out of the house one day a week) of four beautiful children, a wife, a writer, a blogger, daughter, friend, women's ministry co-leader at my church, and have various other activities such making and canning salsa from my own garden during the summer. I guess it is a lot. So, how do I do it all?

Well, sometimes I do to much and get in over my head. For about three years in a row around this time of year I had to step back and step out of some things because I was getting overwhelmed. This year, despite having baby number four, I don't feel that way. I've learned tricks and tips and tools to help me focus on what I need to do when I need to do it.

The first is organization. When I'm organized I can get ever so much more done. While I find it more challenging to stay organized than ever, when I'm making my to do lists and planning menus and planning trips to the grocery store, things seem to go much more smoothly. When I know what there is to be done, and when I want it to be done, I can prioritize. And I can have the satisfaction of marking things off my list!

The second is to pray about everything. Well, this really should be first, because it comes into play before taking on anything extra. I'm still working on making this first. Should I do this? Should I give up that? I know that if I rely on God to lead me into the things He has planned for me, I won't get in over my head. I also know that I have to lean on Him for strength and wisdom to get things done. If I do it His way, it will be more efficient, more productive, and come with more blessings.

The third is to give up any sense of control over anything other than yourself and any notions of perfection. I think this is where many of us women who are used to achieving at a high level tend to send ourselves over the edge of stress oblivion. We like to live in the illusion that we have control over other people and circumstances. These things are really out of our control (even our children, we can influence and motivate our children through parenting them lovingly and with authority, but we don't have control over them) and trying to control them will use way more energy than we'll ever have. Perfection and expectations of perfection fall into this boat because perfection is usually about control. I don't have to control every aspect of my household (that would run me down) nor does my house have to be perfect. I like it to be clean and I like it to be straight, but with four children under 7, it doesn't stay that way very long. So I can spend all my time chasing after control and perfection and have a house worthy of Southern Living, or I can live in my house and enjoy it, my family, and the career God's called me to.

So, the answer is, I don't do it all. I do what I'm called to do and do it good enough. I'm a little slack on the housework at times, but the dust will eventually get wiped off (only to come back a couple days later) and the floor will get mopped (only to have something spilt on it an hour later), but in the meantime, I'm going to spend today working on building relationships and fulfilling my call to write to encourage others in their lives, relationships, and most importantly, their relationship with God.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Do Nothing Days

I'm a firm believer that we moms need a do nothing day every once in a while. With our busy schedules and demands on us they don't often just happen. We have to make them happen and be okay with leaving things til tomorrow (once in a while, not always.)

I had one of those days yesterday. I didn't plan it, it just happened. I had a to do list, but interrupted sleep was catching up with me (and I had a new fiction book to read.) So, I had a do nothing day. Well...not exactly NOTHING. I fed my kids three meals, put steaks on marinade and separated hamburger to put in the freezer. I checked in with FaceBook, email, and Twitter. I even sent out a few emails. But overall, I rested (in search of a nap most of the day until I finally got one around 2:30) and read most of the day. Although nothing on my to do list got done, I feel more refreshed and ready to tackle things today.

Ironic that I'm in the middle of writing my chapter on health, and just earlier this week wrote the section on resting our minds. Ironic, or actually putting into practice what I believe?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Book Recommendation

Recommends "A Gift of Grace" by Amy Clipston.

Synopsis: When Rebecca Kauffman’s older sister, who left the Amish community when she was a teenager, dies in an automobile accident, Rebecca is left custody of her two modern non-Amish teenage nieces, Jessica and Lindsay. Will she be able to reconcile the two worlds in her home—or will the clash of cultures tear her world, including her marriage, apart?

Description: Rebecca Kauffman’s tranquil Old Order Amish life is transformed when she suddenly has custody of her two teenage nieces after her "English" sister and brother-in-law are killed in an automobile accident. Instant motherhood, after years of unsuccessful attempts to conceive a child of her own, is both a joy and a heartache. Rebecca struggles to give the teenage girls the guidance they need as well as fulfill her duties to Daniel as an Amish wife. Rebellious Jessica is resistant to Amish ways and constantly in trouble with the community. Younger sister Lindsay is caught in the middle, and the strain between Rebecca and Daniel mounts as Jessica’s rebellion escalates. Instead of the beautiful family life she dreamed of creating for her nieces, Rebecca feels as if her world is being torn apart by two different cultures, leaving her to question her place in the Amish community, her marriage, and her faith in God.

Farm Fresh Deals

Meant to have Farm Fresh deals posted today, but haven't been able to go through them. I am streamlining my process, though, and will be back up and running next Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

This week in the life of a writing, blogging, Jesus-loving, home-schooling, wife and mommy of 4

Monday - work, examiner article, clip coupons

Tuesday - budget proposal for women's conference to church staff, proposal for budget writing article, laundry (sheets, towels, adult clothes), Colby school, clean bathrooms, examiner article, work on book, county fair meeting

Wednesday - work on preschool curriculum, Colby school, dust, vacuum, mop, work on book, call hotel to confirm for women's conference, go to church for sign up night

Thursday - work on preschool curriculum, Colby school, examiner article, work on "The Best Birthday Ever," work on book (nap, maybe?)

Friday - hmmm...we'll see

Monday, August 31, 2009

This Week's Menu

Monday: Tyson breaded chicken tenders, mixed veggies (steamed), Cheddar/Brocolli rice (Zataran's)

Tuesday: Brown Sugar Pork Chops (ttp://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Brown-Sugar-Chops/Detail.aspx) with potatoes, green beans

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: spaghetti noodles with meatballs & marinara, salad, garlic toast

Friday: fish (whatever hubby picks up at Costco), plain rice, steamed brocolli

Saturday: leftovers/sandwiches

Sunday: roast, potatoes, carrots, bread

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wisdom and Knowledge

As moms, two things we need most are wisdom and knowledge. There's lots of "knowledge" available today in jsut about every form you can imagine. However, there is only one source for true, unchanging knowledge and wisdom. As I heard Beth Moore say the other day (on Life Today with James and Betty Robison), I'm ready to get desperate for something I can have. From prison Paul wrote to the Colossians that he was praying for them and "asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding." (vs. 9) That's what I want! To be FILLED with the KNOWLEDGE of HIS WILL through ALL SPIRITUAL WISDOM and UNDERSTANDING! I'm desperate God. Please fill me.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Join me on FaceBook. I have a group called Joyful Moms and a page called The Mommy Answer (go figure.) Join my group and become a fan of my page. I'd love to see you there!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Get Paid to Write!

Through Examiner.com you can get paid to write short articles on line. You have to apply, and if approved they ask that you write 4 short (300 - 500) articles a week. Go to Examiner.com and click to select your city. Topics include: entertainment, business, family and home, life, news and politics, sports and recreation. There's something for everyone. I've posted four articles in my first week and already have 18 hits (check me out - http://www.examiner.com/x-20766-Richmond-Breastfeeding--Examiner~y2009m8d27-10-Things-You-Can-Do-While-Breastfeeding.) If you apply, PLEASE put my name down (Tracy Wainwright) as referring you. I'll get credit, just like you will after your approved and refer others.

Happy Writing!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Breastfeeding on Demand

Third article on examiner.com

http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-20766-Richmond-Breastfeeding--Examiner~y2009m8d26-Breastfeeding-on-Demand

More Farm Fresh Deals

Dole Fruit cups - $2 - $1 coupon doubled = $1 each, must get two
Heluva Good dip - $1.99 - $0.50 coupon doubled = $0.99
Mueller's spaghetti & elbow shells - $1.25 - $0.55 doubled = $0.15
Nabisco Crackerfuls - $2.69 - $1/2 doubled = $1.94 each, must get two
Oreo cakesters - 2.69 - $0.75/2 doubled = $1.94 each, must get two
Reynolds recycled foil $3 - $0.75 doubled = $1.50 each
Van Camp's Baked Beans $0.75 - $0.30/3 doubled = $0.55 each, must get three
Solo cups - $3.00 - $0.75 doubled = $1.50 each

Farm Fresh Deals

Initial deals this week at Farm Fresh
Farm Fresh Chicken Breasts - $1.98/lb
Texas Toast - $2.79 - $0.40 coupon doubled = $1.99/box
Plain Cheerios - $2.79 - $1.00/2 coupon doubled = 1.79/box, must get two
Dole Fruit Jars - $2.00 - $0.55 coupon doubled = .$0.90/jar
Kellog's Cereals - 2/$5.00 - $1.00/2 coupon doubled = $1.50/box, must get two
Bob Evan's Sausage- $3.00 - .25 coupon doubled = $2.50/lb

More to come...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

This Week's To Do List

Monday
work
weekly menu
wash kids clothes
examiner article

Tuesday
finish kids clothes
wash sheets and towels
school
examiner article
submit writing piece to magazine
women's conference proposal to church staff
finish thank-you's
book

Wednesday
school
check Farm Fresh add & coupons
dust upstairs
dust downstairs
vacuum upstairs
go to Farm Fresh

Thursday
Apple Butter & Apple Sauce
Examiner Article

Friday
rest
work on book

This Week's Menu

Monday
baked chicken tenders(dipped in butter, then breadcrumbs, baked on 375 for 20 minutes)
fried rice (plain for the kids, just used soy sauce and an egg for mine, no time for veggies)
steamed brocolli
squash (stir fried on med-hi in olive oil)

Tuesday
leftover day

Wednesday
meatloaf (1lb hamburger, 2/3 c crushed Ritz, bbq sauce, egg, Lipton soup mix - 325 for an hour)
mashed potatoes (cube, boil, add butter, milk, salt & pepper and blend)
green beans (out of the can, boiled on medium 30 minutes with Tbs olive oil)

Thursday
pork chops (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Grilled-Pork-Chops-with-Balsamic-Caramelized-Pears/Detail.aspx)
noodles (flavored, out of a bag)
mixed vegetables (steamed from frozen - brocolli, cauliflour, squash & carrots)

Friday
curry chicken (brown chicken, add tomato sauce, tomato paste, 1/4 c apple sauce, crushed red pepper & curry powder to taste)
rice
stir fry veggies (from frozen)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mom Musings

My recent reading of John Rosemond's "Parenting by the Book" has really helped me to take a step back and evaluate my parenting. Although I believe in and agree with most of what he says, do I practice it? I've even written my chapter for my book on parenting, which says some similar things. But am I following my own beliefs with behaviors?

Yes. And no. As with most things, parenting is a growth process. (I just have to hope my ability to parent grows at a faster rate than my kids!) There are a lot of things I do right, but there are also a lot of areas in which I can improve. One I am constantly working on is correcting and leading my children without emotion. I know that emotion gets in the way of effective parenting, but when I'm tired, hungry, stressed, etc. I parent emotionally.

Tonight one of my children did something that they'd gotten into trouble for numerous times. At first I started getting upset. But then I remembered that getting upset wouldn't change the behavior (it'd already happened) and it would diminish any consequences I doled out. I calmly gave the consequences (despite a very sad face) and remained perfectly calm. And oh, HOW GOOD IT FELT! Better for me. Better for the child in question. Better for the children observing. No guilt for blowing up. No stewing in icky juices. Just consequences and moving on. A good reminder, one more effective practice, and a little growth.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Today's To Do List

Get up early enough to exercise and Bible Study.
Get kids up, dressed, and fed.
Go to church and worship God!!
Eat lunch at mom's.
Go see a movie with hubby and maybe take in a store or dessert before picking up baby.
Pick up ONLY baby and come home for a quiet evening.
Praise God a little more before falling asleep.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Satrudays

Satrudays are not a day off for mom. Sometimes, however, you do get to sleep in. And hubby is ususally home to help with/do stuff with the kids. And if your kids are in school, you actually get to spend a whole day with them. So, mothering, parenting, taking care of, feeding, still happens, but Saturdays are a nice change of pace. Not the care-free days they used to be, but then they didn't come with the best hugs and kisses in the world, either!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friendships

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

I am so grateful for the friends that God has placed in my life. At one time I just wanted friends and wasn't interested in good, quality friends. But I learned that those friends don't help you up. They laugh and abandon you when you're down. True friends help you up when you're down physically, spiritually, or emotianally. They encourage. They share. They let you lean on them.

As moms, we need to establish and maintain healthy, equally beneficial relationships. It's not about keeping score, but about loving each other and living the mommy life together. Friends (good, godly friends) make life so much more enjoyable. In our fast-paced, child-centered lives, we often forget to focus on these relationship. However, if we remember that we are women first, and foster these relationships we will be much better moms. I know I am - thanks, ladies: for your love and laughter!

To Do List Update

Made good progress on my list. It's amazing what I can get done when I'm focused and goal-oriented. I even have been able to read almost a whole book (one chapter left - Parenting by the Book: a book EVERY MOM should read!)

What's left to do today: water garden, thank-you notes, work on book, school, and spend time with the fam (hubby's home today!!)

Oh, how much better I feel when I can see what I am getting accomplished (in addition to the daily meals, having kids clean up their toys, emptying the dishwasher, etc.) And when I have the right attitude, it's even a joy to get things done.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Respect and Obedience

I'm reading a new book - Parenting by The Book: Biblical Wisdom for Raising Your Child by John Rosemond - and agree with one (a lot, really) of his premises. If your child does not obey you, it's because your child does not respect you. Wow! How powerful is that? If we don't teach our children to respect us, they will not learn to respect others or themselves. This will cause major relationship problems throughout their lives, and make it almost impossible for them to submit to God's authority and have a real relationship with Him. Not a new concept, but a renewed one.

P.S. Thanks to my fabulous, real friend Jennifer for the book. You're the best girl! Thanks for respecting me enough to bless me with this gift.

P.P.S. You can find this book at Amazon for around $6

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

To Do List

Here's what's on the schedule for the next couple of days:

Phone calls to get proposals for Abundant Life Conference for Women (Clarion, Great Wolfe, Eastover)

Wash: colored clothes, white clothes, sheets

Clean toilets
Vacuum downstairs
Mop downstairs

water garden
thank-you notes
work on The Mommy Answer
Excite Articles (first 4)
Excite links
Blog (each day)
Facebook page & Joyful Moms group (each day)
Twitter (can't believe I've started this, too)

Get AlphaBugs curriculum emailed (first 4 weeks)
School (each day)
Bible Study (each day)
Exercise (each day)

We'll see what progress is made by Friday - oh, yeah - and a date with hubby Friday night, which means I have to find child care!

Twitter

Ok, I give in. I'm now on twitter - themommyanswer

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Author Recommendation

Just finished "Between Sundays" by Karen Kingsbury. Great book, just like all of hers. Check out all her books at http://www.karenkingsbury.com/books/

Life

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows.) John 10:10

Words of Jesus. He came that we might have life through Him. It's easy to accept Him, believe in Him, receive salvation and eternal life through Him. It is often much more challenging to accept, believe and receive the gift of enjoying life in abundance on a daily basis. Why is that? Are we missing something? Often, it's the ongoing, in-depth, ever-growing relationship with Him. I was talking with someone yesterday about being able to recognize the differences in my children's personality. She asked if it was difficult as a parent to pick out their uniqueness. For me, no, it's not. But I believe that's because I spend so much time with them. I know them intimately.

The same goes for Jesus. How much time we spend with Him, observing Him through His Word, listening to the quiet whispers He speaks to our hearts, and sharing our thoughts, feelings, hopes, and challenges with Him will have a great affect on how well we know Him. And if and how much we experience the grace, mercy, blessings, and abundant life that He came to give us.

I always know when I'm not spending enough time with Him, because I struggle with the daily challenges of life and motherhood. Fortunately, He reminds me to come sit at His feet and He will take my challenges. I just have to listen and believe. Today I choose to listen and believe.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Busy Days

Do you ever get to the end of the day and sit down in your chair or lay down in bed and wonder, “What did I do all day?” As you look around (or picture in your head) at all the things that are left to be done, you try to conjure up what in the world it was that you did that day. Although exhausted, and having been busy all day, it seems like there’s more to do than there was at the beginning of the day.
When this happens to me I find, upon reflecting on my day, that I allowed myself to be distracted and start a dozen things, finishing none. A little bit of this and a little bit of that got done, but nothing got completed. Which means that it looks like nothing happened all day except for more mess making. This happens to me in part because I’d much rather take on a project than work on the day-to-day items of running the house. Dust? No, that’ll wait. I’ve got clothes to go through. Toilets? No. Not when there’s an event to plan. And although the clothes do need to be gone through (at some point) and the event needs to be planned (but did I have to take it on?), the daily home-care needs to happen too. And it’s not going to if I don’t get myself organized.
There are bigger projects (like planning my son’s preschool curriculum for the year) that can’t be done in one sitting or one day, but there are many that often linger that should be done more succinctly. For me, I find that writing down what I want to get done helps me prioritize and accomplish more. And if at least one of those things helps improve the looks of my home, all the better. I feel like I’ve accomplished more (no matter what I’ve actually done) if I can visibly see the results. So as I look at the last quarter of my day, I realize that I can complete a task or two and wake up tomorrow with a little less to face, even if there is a baby who’ll probably interrupt me at some point and three other children to feed, spend time with and put to bed. It’ll be worth it when I sit down and can easily and quickly take stock of what got, not just done, but completed today.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Free PreSchool AlphaBugs Curriculum

Are you interested in a FREE PreSchool Curriculum? I'm more than willing to share what I have with you. THere are three ways to sign up for monthly emails including everything you need except the books for this Alpha-Bugs Lapbook curriculum. Sign up as a follower of my blog; become a fan of The Mommy Answer on FaceBook, or join my group Joyful Moms on FaceBook. Once you've done one of these three things, email me at themommyanswer@verizon.net and I'll send you four weeks of this fun, adventure-filled, phonics-based curriculum straight to your inbox each month.

Thanks and happy learning!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Nothing

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-9

How amazing is God's love! NOTHING can seperate us from it. When He doesn't feel near, we are not separated from His love. When we don't understand, we are not separated from His love. When we are hurt, we are not separated from His love. When we sin, we are not separated from His love. He is always there to offer whatever it is that we need. It may not be what we want. But it will always be what we need.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ten Minutes

While five minutes can make a difference in how my day or a situation goes, I find that much of the day gets broken down into ten minute segments. There is often ten minutes of peace in between meals, chores, arguments and needing to feed the baby. There is often a spare ten minutes before needing to leave the house. There is often only ten minutes to get things done before supper’s ready, time to go, bedtime. This time is easily wasted. If there’s only ten minutes to do something, is it really worth even trying? I say yes. And below is a list of things that can be completed in 10 minutes or less that will help move you along the chore list and getting things accomplished.

Make a bed
Shower, dress, brush hair and teeth
Read a magazine article
Eat an apple for a snack
Windex the bathroom mirrors
Pick up toys in a room
Hang up a load of laundry
Unload the dishwasher
Dust a room or two
Clean the toilets
Shoot a quick email to a friend on your mind
Do some stretching (better than no exercise)
Fix breakfast (if it only involves cereal or oatmeal)
Gather things needed for the day and put them in the car
Fix a salad
Vacuum a room or two, or three
Write a note to a friend or family member
Clean off a counter
Balance the checkbook
Drink a cup of coffee
Pray
Read a book to a child

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Five Minutes

In motherhood five minutes can often make the biggest difference. It only takes kids about five minutes to destroy a day’s worth of housework. On a really good day I can shower and get dressed in five minutes. Five minutes of spending time in the Bible really helps my day go better. Five minutes in the middle of a child’s temper tantrum can also make a world of difference. For me, and for that child.
There have been days where I lost my temper along with a child throwing a fit or exhibiting direct defiance. There have been days when I’ve had to hang in there for up to 20 or 30 minutes for a tantrum to be over. But for the most part I have found that within five minutes of a tantrum or incidence of defiance it’s over, and the end result is based on my reaction, or ability not to react. If I can hold on for five minutes (forget counting to five), the storm usually passes without any major damage.
When our children lose it, the thing they need most is for us not to. They need the stability of mom to be the calming, reassuring factor in the situation. They haven’t learned yet to temper their reaction (some more so than others) and need us to show them how to be calm. If we can hold on, just five minutes, and be an anchor that keeps them grounded while a storm of emotions is raging through their little body, they will feel safe and secure when it’s all over. Then we can talk to them about whatever the issue is and come to a resolution or consequence.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Playing Purposefully - part 2

The importance of Play
Although I’ve been focusing on unstructured, creative play, that doesn’t mean that there is no room for structured play as well. Play, in general, is an essential part of children’s lives because it “is the primary path to learning for the first five years or so.”1 Linn states that, “preserving and nurturing children’s capacity to play is essential to all aspects of their mental, social, and emotional development. Play is a fundamental component of a healthy childhood…”2Individual play helps children to develop social skills, the ability to concentrate, stick with tasks, and enjoy alone time. Creative or imaginative play helps children to work through feelings and frustrations, build language skills, practice social skills, express themselves, build self-confidence, and understand and gain a sense of control of the world around them. Interactive play helps children to learn skills such as taking turns, following directions, sharing, dealing with winning and losing, and respecting other’s abilities. Play is also helpful in preparation for formal learning as children work on their gross and fine motor skills, problem-solving, and creativity through play naturally. And in addition to the benefits listed previously, when you as a parent take part in your child’s play it allows you to broach topics that might not come up otherwise and teach behaviors and ideas that are important to you.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Playing Purposefully - part 3

What is play?
Play should be fun. It may seem that it’s not necessary to say that play should be fun, but it’s a good reminder. Especially when you look at the definition of fun. According to Webster (II New College Dictionary, 1995) fun means “a source of amusement, enjoyment, or pleasure.” So what does your child find enjoyable? What activities amuse him? And keep in mind that the root word that fun came from meant to act foolish. So it’s okay if the activity requires you to be silly.
Play, in general, should also be voluntary and spontaneous. You may have to pull them away from the TV or computer to get them started, but as soon as you’ve developed a habit of consistent play times (either with you, friends, or alone) they’ll be more likely initiate play more often. You can also give them the opportunity to pick the activity (within limits that encourage unstructured or interactive play) to help encourage play.
Play should also be active. This covers play that requires a lot of physical activity (tag, hide-and-go-seek, basketball) as well as imaginative play (having a tea party, play-dough, building blocks) and interactive play (board games, dominos). Computer games can be considered somewhat interactive, but play with another individual or with the imagination are much more stimulating. Watching television is the opposite of active, and although many find it enjoyable and do it voluntarily, it’s only useful for vegetating.
Lastly, play should at some point include make-believe. Younger children (beginning around age 3) do this very well and more frequently. However, there are many ways to encourage creative play in older children as well. Building things, making up stories, drawing, working on art projects, and reading help children to build on the skills of imaginative play.
So, now that you know all of the advantages of play, that it’s an essential part of development, and what play is, you can determine to make it a part of your lifestyle. You can make it a goal, actually written down or just kept conscious in your mind, to encourage your children to play more. Hopefully you’ll reap all the benefits of playing with your child and maybe you’ll even be reminded that play is an important part of life, even for parents.

Playing Purposefully - part 1

One day recently I sat down on the floor with my 22-month old son (okay I wrote this a couple of years ago, but it’s still true) and just hung out with him while he played. Every once in a while he handed me a toy and engaged me in play, but mostly I was able to just watch him play. I was truly amazed at the things I learned and was reminded of in that brief 30 minutes of down time.
The first thing I realized was how infrequently I just hang out with my children. When my daughter, now almost 4, was one I hung out with her while she played several times a week. Then I was working part time. Now I’m a full-time stay-at-home mom. But having more than one child, and often at least one in addition to my own, I had gotten into the habit of busying myself while the kids played. I would do activities with them, feed them, etc., but I had stopped hanging out with them.
Sitting on the floor of my son’s room I realized all that had been missed by not purposefully taking the time to just be with my children. First, I was missing out on the quality time that happens when we’re present with someone we love with no end or goal in mind. These special times silently build bonds that say, “I’m here. Not for any other reason than I love you.”
I was also missing the chance to glean immeasurable amounts of information. The information that can be gathered during free play include developmental, social and emotional. Often our children grow and develop new skills and abilities right before our eyes. However, because it happens so gradually and we parents tend to be so busy, we miss small developments. We no longer stand by to catch them as they teeteringly try to sit, stand, or walk on their own. In observing free play we have an opportunity to check out whether he is starting to pretend that toys are something else or if she is starting to truly play cooperatively with others.
Another bit of useful information that can be gleaned is about their interests. Is she changing her focus from horses to playing mommy? Does he tend to pick puzzles more of cars? Sometimes children’s interests and preferences are obvious (like my son who eats, sleeps, and breaths trains), but some are a little more subtle.One last piece of information that can be gleaned is what your child is picking up from the world around him. Children are sponges and, especially when they’re young, act as mirrors to their environment. Are there certain behaviors that are being picked up from you or your spouse? (Some of these may reinforce what you’re doing, others may encourage you to examine yourself.) What is your child learning from their peers and teachers? What parts of their favorite tv show is she imitating? All of these questions help you to determine how and what your child learns from his or her environment and may even lead to discussions on a variety of topics.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Random Mommy Tip #5

One way we help moms is by sharing recipes. I'm always looking for new, easy, yummy recipes. I'll share one I've been using for years, but just recently started eating again. When used within reason, this is a very balanced, low fat, healthy meal.
Ingredients:
pasta (spaghetti noodles, angel hair, shells, or twists, whatever your favorite is)
grape tomatoes
cucumber
shredded cheese (I prefer cheddar, but any will work)
Italian or Ranch & Vinaigrette (mixed) Dressing

A serving consists of 2/3 - 1 cup of pasta with your desired amount of cut up veggies, cheese and dressing. This dish can be made low fat by using low fat cheese and dressing. It's light, fresh and can be made up in larger portions to be quick. It's balanced because you have your carb, your veggies and your protein.

Do you have a great, quick and/or healthy recipe? Please share with me.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

4 Essential Elements of Parenting [part 3]

Now, consistency does not mean an out-of-balance rigid style of parenting. As important as love is to applying discipline, there also needs to be some flexibility in routine and rules. A child flourishes in a loving environment with consistent boundaries and discipline, but there often occurs situations which call for adapting. For example, if your child is sick, you are probably going to relax the television and eating rules. As our children grow, we must continue to reevaluate their personality and developmental level in order to ensure that boundaries and discipline are appropriate (Holden, 1996.) The results of a 15-year-old living within the limits that were set when they were 5 are disastrous. As observant parents we need to pay attention to what is going on with our children to see if a situation calls for a different reaction. In general, whining is not tolerated in my household, but invariably it shows up increasingly when my daughter is sleepy. Although it is made clear to my daughter that whining is not acceptable, at times it’s more appropriate to talk about her feeling sleepy and how we can express ourselves better, rather than putting her in time out or taking away a prized possession immediately. The rule doesn’t change, but circumstances are taken into consideration, just as they are if your child has a bad day at school or gets hurt.

So, all we’re called to do is to love abundantly, discipline effectively, remain consistent, and be flexible, at the right times. Lest this task seem too daunting, we need to apply all of this information to the knowledge that we are not doing this job of parenting alone or without guidance. All parenting advice and recommendations should be viewed in light of scripture and what God impresses on us through his Holy Spirit as we continue to grow in our relationship with Him. He is our parent, the Ultimate Parent and models perfect parenting for us to flourish in as parents ourselves.

Friday, July 31, 2009

4 Essential Elements of Parenting [part 2]

Often we don’t feel like we’re loving our children when we discipline them because it feels bad. We wish that our children would be perfect or that we could get them to understand through reasoning (which hardly ever works, no matter what age the child is.) Without a doubt we are called to consistently discipline our children. It’s dangerous to rely on our feelings or physical energy in applying discipline. Feelings are fickle. Our strength must come from our relationship with God. Knowing things like the fact that, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” is very helpful as a parent. I never realized that the unpleasantness of discipline also applies to the one who doles it out!

Most people can rectify the ideas of love and discipline as being complimentary in parenting, but consistency and flexibility seem to be obviously incongruous. They, however, like love and discipline, are both essential for effective parenting. The issue of being consistent continues to show up in parenting research and education classes (Sells, 2003; Welchel, 2005.) Children feel most comfortable when there is consistency in their lives. It feels safe when they know what to expect. Children need consistency not only in daily routines, but also in discipline. It completely throws a child off balance when they do the same action but get different results each time. Imagine what it would be like if you used your lunch hour every day to sit at your desk and catch up on some reading. On most days if your boss comes by he stops and chats a minute and then walks on. Then, randomly, he yells at you for eating at your desk. It would make you extremely uncomfortable and unsure of yourself. That’s exactly how our children feel when we let them get away with some behavior until we are “fed up” with it and yell at or punish them; or when we change the rules mid-game. As parents, it’s our job to determine what the rules are, make them clear, and then enforce them. If you don’t have the energy or desire to enforce a rule or boundary, it’s best to not ever make it an issue.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

4 Essential Elements of Parenting [part 1]

I have studied parenting for years, as a student and family counselor, long before becoming a parent myself. Then I became a parent myself and delved into parenting magazines and books. Throughout all of this research and learning, there are four themes that are necessary for effective parenting which have stood out and been repeated time and time again. They are: Love, Discipline, Consistency and Flexibility. It is keeping these characteristics in balance, along with a foundational relationship with God, which will help us be successful parents.

At first glance it may seem that these characteristics of parenting are somewhat contradictory. There are many beliefs about parenting in our world, and some of them believe that if you love your child you should not discipline him. Others promote strict discipline and warn parents not to be too affectionate with their children, lest they become spoiled. Reliable and well-respected research on parenting supports the theory that a balance between love and discipline is the most effective way to parent (Santrock, 1999.) Scripture actually tells us that if we love our children we will discipline them. Proverbs 3:12 states that, “… the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in” (NIV.) Just as God disciplines us to keep us focused on Him and His plan, He calls on us as parents to use discipline to keep our children on the right path. But even more than that, God’s Word says that “If you refuse to discipline your son, it proves you don’t love him; for if you love him you will be prompt to punish him.” (Proverbs 13:24, TLB.)

We don’t discipline out of obligation or because someone (or everyone) says we should. We discipline because we love. That also means that we are to discipline with love. Throughout the Bible there are numerous accounts of God disciplining His children. He tailors each act of discipline according to the infraction and child being chastised. The common factor, however, was that each correction was given in love. We are to follow the examples that God has given us through scripture. According to God’s Word, love is: patient, kind, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, rejoices with the truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-8.) This is the definition of the kind of love that we are to live out as we discipline our children. Discipline is applied with the best interest of the child in mind. It is meant to protect our children and guide them along the path that God has laid out for them.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Top 10 Reasons to Have a Baby

(1) You are getting too much sleep. You’ve really gotten into a bad habit of sleeping 7-8 hours consistently each night. You like a challenge and feel that life would be much more challenging on about 6 hours of sleep that’s been interrupted 2-3 times each night.

(2) You have too much free time. You’re days are spent listlessly and frivolously and need something to fill your hours with. If you have a baby you’ll be taking many more pictures. By the time you work on in your scrapbook and read all of the parenting books and magazines, surely you won’t be quite so bored with life.

(3) You have too much money. Your money is just piling up in a 401K or being thrown away on vacations and clothes that you really don’t need. You feel that your money would be better spent on diapers, clothes for someone else, and a college fund.

(4) You’re spending too much time with your friends. You get to hang out with your friends once, twice, and sometimes even three times a week. You are looking for a legitimate excuse to stay home.

(5) You’re getting tired of eating your meals uninterrupted and with two hands. It would be much more exciting to get to nurse, bottle-feed, or spoon-feed a child while trying to eat yourself.

(6) You only get to wear one outfit a day. Babies get all sorts of things on your clothes, and that will be a great excuse to change clothes two or three times a day.

(7) You take too long of a shower. There’s nothing like a screaming baby, sound of a crash, or worse yet – sudden silence to motivate you to conserve water.

(8) You want to branch out your tv watching. You long to find out who Dora, Calliou, Thomas, and Blue are.

(9) Your house is too neat and clean. You feel the need to add an assortment of baby items (swing, bassinet, bouncy seat, etc), toys, and books to your interior design. Also, you’d like the dust to pile up a little more so that you can really notice when you clean.

(10) You don’t get enough advice from people in your life. You need help to make daily decisions from the people closest to you (your mother, mother-in-law, sister, friend, stranger at the grocery store.) You’ll begin to wonder how you ever made it through on your own!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mommy Time

I had something the last two days that I really didn't expect so soon after having baby number 4. I had two afternoons that were quiet and uninterrupted for hours. Hubby was out on the boat with the older kids, so he was happy, and baby and I were at home staying out of the heat. Since both mornings were busy and she didn't get a long nap, she slept for 3-4 hours both afternoons. And I had mommy time!!!

Yesterday I got some writing done and some relaxing done. Today I took a nap and then got a little writing done. It reminded me how much I charish my alone time. It recharges me and helps me be a better mom (and wife) when everyone comes piling through the door. I think all us moms need some mommy time, although what we do with it to get recharched is probably very different. Researching and writing would probably add stress to many moms.

While we all need some mommy time once in a while it is also one of those things that needs to stay in balance. Even though I had about 4 hours to myself, I still wasn't quite ready when it ended. However, I had to embrace how fortunate I was to get that time and remember that now I had time to enjoy my little ones, who will never be who they are today again. I love my time with my little ones, but I'm also very grateful for a little mommy time alone to help keep my life in balance.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Two More Hands Please

When doing things around the house holding on to one child or another I often have the thought that it would be nice to have a couple more hands. But then I think of all I do with the two I do have and know that I would just get myself completely overwhelmed if I had two more hands to work with. God, in His infinite wisdom, definately knew what He was doing when He limited us to two hands.




However, I do believe that He meant for us moms to have extra hands another way. Throughout scripture we are admonished to love one another. As a mom, that loving of other moms comes through supporting each other and helping each other out. This is often easier said than done since we all have so many responsibilities in our own homes. However, if we make the effort to help each other out, we all benefit. We don't feel like we have to be perfect in front of each other. We build stronger friendships. And we get more done. I'm very grateful for the moms in my life (especially my mom and mil) who are willing to pitch in a be a part of my life in so many tangible ways in addition to just "being" in my life. They are true blessing to me and make me want to be a blessing too.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Calm in the Storm

Have you ever had a storm in your house? We've had a real storm. We thought we lived on high ground until Hurricane Isabel caused the river and canal met in our yard. We always wanted waterfront property, but this wasn't what we had in mind. During the storm we anxiously watched the water rise far above where we ever thought it would go. We even began moving furniture upstairs. It was not a very calm day in our house. We survived Isabel and fared much better than many of our neighbors.

There's been many days since that one that it has felt like we were hunkered down in a storm. Although, these storms are generally less destructive than a real hurricane (generally, I said) but much more emotional. These are the storms that come from tired, frustrated, and/or stubborn children. Since young children don't yet have the skills to temper their reactions to things, the smallest upset can turn into a fierce storm in a heatbeat. As a new mom, these storms often took me by surprise and threw me off course like a dinghy in the ocean.

Now I handle these storms much better. I always new that my children needed me to be calm and consistent as they lost it. But knowing and doing are not always the same. So what has helped me stay calm in the storms of mommyhood? Mostly a lot of time with my face on the floor and my eyes looking up. Instead of dwelling in the bad places I learned to throw myself on the floor and beg for strength from God. I also recognized that part of the problem was my short temper, so I did intensive Bible studies on this topic, as well as a few others. Over time, as I studied God's Word and began to rely on Him more, He provided me with the tools I needed to be the mom He designed me to be and that my kids need me to be.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

When Nothing Fits

Have you ever noticed that sometimes it's the little things that are super frustrating? Even when bigger things are going on, there are plenty of other things for me to be concerned (not worried) and pray about, I still walk in my closet and get disgusted at the lack of real choices. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty in there. But nothing fits. I always forget how frustrating this time is with my body and clothes. It's what I like to call the 4th trimester.

This is just one of the little frustrations of life that can take over. Although irritating, it's best for my own health and sanity to take it in perspective. The 4th trimester is the result of a small sacrifice (9 months really is a short time, no matter how uncomfortable or exhausting) for a beautiful, healthy addition to my life. A little more time and some hard work to get back into my clothes really aren't a big deal in the scheme of things. As aggravating as it is to find something to wear without repeating the same things dozens of times, I know that I can choose not to let it get to me. Instead, I can remember how many women went through a pregnancy but didn't go home with a healthy baby. I can remember how many people in this world don't have enough clothes to protect them from the elements on a daily basis. And I can remember that part of the reason my clothes don't fit is because I've never had to want for food. When I remember those things, it's not so bad to walk into my closet each morning.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Where Time Goes

Where does the time go? This question gets asked all the time. As I sit to write my daily bit, I can hardly believe that it's almost 9 p.m. It was a good day, but as I reflect on it I wonder what I really got done. I haven't been making my lists lately, so I actually have to reflect on the day. Well, lets see. I fed 4 kids breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I cleaned up after all those meals. I went to the grocery store and the consignment shop (sans kids, thanks to mom!) I washed clothes, but got none folded and put up. I mopped most of the downstairs. I picked some veggies out of the garden. I exercised and did my Bible Study. And I sat down with 2 of the girls for some reading time. Oh, yeah, and I nursed however many times it was that Emily was hungry and held her for however long she needed me to.

Whew. I guess I did get some things accomplished today, even though looking at my house you might not know it. I still see all the piles of things that didn't get done. Sometimes as a mom, and especially as a stay-at-home mom where there's people in the house all day to mess it up, it seems that most of my time keeping my head above water. Sometimes I get to swim a little (doggy pattle at best) and make progress, but mostly just treading water.

But that's just the way it is right now. I can see some calm seas ahead, as each child gets older and more capable of doing things him/herself. One day, I know, they will all be perfectly capable and then I will miss the moments when they were small. Even though sometimes it is crazy busy and sometimes a whole day passes without hardly a thought, moments like this remind me that tomorrow I need to make sure and take time to sit and enjoy being with my children. The toys will get put away and the clothes will get folded, but we will never have today again.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Spirit of Self-Discipline

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

Self-discipline. Oh my. Do I really have to go there? I guess since I started this, I’ll continue on until the end. I almost forgot. I covered love and power and then got distracted onto consequences. But I’m going to practice allowing the spirit of self-discipline to have control and return to finish this topic.

Self-discipline is a difficult concept. As parents we see that our children don’t have much self-discipline. I almost said none, but I saw an example of it just today. My son earned a time out for breaking a rule and decided to throw a screaming fit while in time out. I’m not sure how he thought this would make things better, but he’s four, so his logical thinking development is long from being fully developed. I let him know that his time out didn’t truly start until the screaming stopped, but this made no impact. He was not exhibiting self-discipline to stop crying. However, one mention of a spanking suddenly helped him access a spirit of self-discipline. The fit stopped immediately.

This was an opportunity for me to help my son experience self-discipline. (It wouldn’t have been if I’d had to actually follow through with my warning.) I find that I have multiple opportunities to exercise self-discipline every day. It may be in relation to making healthy food choices, doing laundry instead of checking email, or speaking in compassion instead of frustration. Giving up the will of my flesh to the will of God and spirit of self-discipline isn’t generally fun for the moment. The rewards, however, are far greater than not.

As I access the spirit of self-discipline I grow as a mom. I am much more peaceful. I am much more content. And the household runs much more smoothly. Within myself I fall short of exercising self-discipline. But with God providing the spirit of self-discipline and me practicing more and more to choose to access that spirit, I can make disciplined choices, reap the rewards of those choices, and better teach my children to access the spirit of self-discipline, which will benefit them in the long run.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Consequences

Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse-The blessing if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you this day; And the curse if you will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you this day to go after other gods, which you have not known. Deuteronomy 11:26-28

As I read these words I am reminded what great parenting wisdom is in the Bible. These words are the basic tenents of consequences. We set rules and expect our children to follow and obey them. If we are doing our job as parents (which is often harder in action than it is in principle) we will hold our children accountable for whether they choose to obey our rules or not. And as much as we beg and plead and repeat ourselves, our job is not complete and done well unless there are consequences to their behavior. We basically set a curse (negative consequences) and a blessing (positive consequences) before them. It's their choice which they want.

When we understand that negative consequences are something that our children choose, it decreases the guilt we feel when we have to withhold or take away something. No parent likes enforcing negative consequences, it's unpleasant. However, it's almost always the only way a child will learn to make good choices. Otherwise they'll grow up with the immature belief that they can do whatever they want and not pay for bad choices; and be shocked one day when they do face severe negative consequences and a string of ruined relationships.

No, we need to focus on the end goal, which is a fruitful and peaceful life, which comes from heading effective, loving discipline. (No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11) And remember that we set rules and boundaries for our children's safety, and if they choose to break rules and disobey (even in small things) they are choosing the negative consequence.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Spirit of Love

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

Love. Love is so necessary in life, but most definitely as a mom. Love of a mom is supposed to come naturally. Who couldn’t love a sweet, innocent baby. But feeling love and acting in love consistently to a highly demanding baby (or toddler, or child,or teen) are two different things. And acting in love is not always easy and does not always come naturally.

Some people were never taught loving actions from those who were supposed to love them. Some people are too selfish to give up their wants and desires to fulfill those of another. Some people become trapped in depression and a cycle of negativity and don’t have the mental or physical energy to love. None of us have it within ourselves to consistently act in a loving manner to everyone we come in contact with. Love as a human feeling comes and goes. It is not reliable. God’s love, however, is perfect, and if we fully embrace His spirit of love we can better love others.

This is especially true as a mom. Being a mom is the most demanding job any of us could ever have. It takes everything we have in ourselves and often more. Even though I've never stopped loving my children for a minute, there have been plenty of times I haven't felt like putting the effort into a loving action. Sometimes I'm too tired at night to read, tuck in, and do prayers. Sometimes I really want to get an article or chapter finished and don't want to stop to look at the newest drawn picture. I think as moms we've all had moments of wanting to stay in ourselves and not do whatever the latest "urgent" task is.

In myself, I would more often than not take the selfish and easy route. But with the power and love that comes from Christ, I can rely on His Spirit to making loving choices. I don't always make that choice, but knowing that He's given me His spirit of love is an essential part of making more consistent, loving choices.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Spirit of Power

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

Power is essential to moms. Not power over my children. Not power over my circumstances. Not physical power. No, the power I need as a mom is the power of the Holy Spirit. I need power to get up in the middle of the night and deal with a screaming child when I’m exhausted from months of being sleep deprived. I need power when I’m in the middle of something and am asked to stop in order to take care of someone’s needs. I need power when I don’t feel good and still have four children who need me to be a loving mom.

When I rely on my own power, I am inconsistent, temperamental, and often fail to be the mom I want to be. My power as a human waxes and wanes, but the power of God and His Spirit never does. As I examine what kind of mom I am, one question I ask is, “am I relying on myself, or on God?” The answer changes more frequently than I’d care to admit. But the more I ask this question, the more I am reminded to rely on God and His power in my every day life as a mom.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How do I measure?

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

As I reflect on what kind of mom I am I must consider where I get the measuring stick I use to determine how I’m doing, how far I’ve come, and what things I need to work on. If I use ever-changing, multiple-perspective worldly measures, I’d never have a settled identity as a mom. I’d never be confident as a mom, not knowing what different recommendation would come next. If I look to the infallible, never-changing Word of God, however, I can continue to grow in my abilities and confidence as a mom.

Paul used many words to encourage a young Timothy, left in charge of a flock of new believers. As Timothy tried to guide these new believers as Paul guided him, he needed to know who he was, not in himself, but in Christ. The spirit that God gives us as believers includes power, love, and self-discipline. As a mom, these characteristics are very important.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mommy Perspectives

Today my fourth and final baby is six weeks old. Yesterday I went back to work for the first time without her. Needless to say, I’ve been very reflective over the last few days. Knowing that this is the last baby I’ll have makes every moment more of a treasure than ever before. And it is so different than the when I had my first baby and was a new mom.

I love being a mom and wouldn’t want my life to be less filled with children. However, when my first baby was six weeks old and I went back to work for the first time it was like I had regained a bit of freedom that had been ripped from my life the day I came home with my new baby. As a naturally independent person, being on call and in demand 24/7 was extraordinarily difficult.

My first, sweet baby girl and I (and daddy) worked through all our adjustments that first year and grew to love our new life together and were soon expecting baby number two. Now that I’m a mom of four little ones I can’t help but to think about how much has changed in those short, fast six years. What kind of mom I was then, and what kind of mom I am now. What I’ve given up, slowly, sadly, gladly. What I’ve gained – endless hugs and kisses and smiles. Grimaces as my little ones became more and more adventurous. Grins and giggles at silly antics and tickle fests. Worlds of growth (not just for them) and major changes in perspectives. Gracious increases in patience (which will hopefully continue.)

I have lived and completely understand the reason people say children in the same have different parents. My oldest and youngest definitely have gotten different moms. And hopefully all of my children will benefit from everything being their mom has taught me.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Sowing and Reaping

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 2 Corinthians 9:6

When gardening the truth of these words play out before your eyes. Each year I've had a garden I've planted a little bit more and a little bit differently. The first year I had several squash and zucchini plants which produced abundantly. My husband was glad not to see a squash for the 9 months in between gardening time after that summer. Even though these verses are amidst discussion about financial gifts to support the work of God's apostles, it applies to any area of life, including parenting.

How much and what I sow in my children's lives will determine what and how much is reaped in their lives. Although there's no direct correlation (as in a garden where some plants do better than others, drought can affect production, and critters can steal and/or destroy plants/veggies) between sowing and reaping, there is a direct relationship. If I sow impatience with my children, they will be impatient. If I sow a love for reading with my children, they will be more likely to enjoy reading. If I sow inconstency with my children, they will not trust me. Just as the type of seeds I plant in my garden determine the types of vegetation I'll reap, the seeds I plant in my children in what I teach them through lessons and through modeling will help determine the types of fruits they will develop in their lives.

As I go about my day, with the abundance of responsibilities and desires pulling at my attention, it is important for me to be mindful and intentional about what I'm sowing in my children's lives. Am I making them feel loved and special? Am I teaching them to love the Lord, themselves, and others? Am I teaching them to be responsible and unselfish? Am I paying attention to their natural abilities and talents? Am I planting and nurturing Godly values in their lives? Little questions with big impact on how they develop.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pulling Weeds

One of the most time consuming tasks of maintaining a garden is weed-management. I'm old-fashioned and don't use any chemical weed killer. I pull my weeds. In previous years we've placed grass clippings in between rows to slow weed growth and this year the plan is to use newspapers - our own personal recycling program. Regardless of what we do, however, I still end up spending a lot of time pulling weeds. Part of the reason I won't use weed-killer is that I secretly (not so much now, I guess) enjoy pulling weeds. For one, I've discovered that it's fairly good excercise and helps me maintain healthy sugar levels. Second, it gives me plenty of time to think, reflect, and pray. Third, it's a reminder of how vigilant we have to be about the weeds that grow in our lives.

Weeds in our lives can be any variety of things, including negative thoughts, lack of self-control, anger, lack of faith, and bad habits. Anything that goes against God's perfect plan and will for our lives and keeps us from a faithful, consistent, deep relationship with our Creator is a weed. My garden reminds me how various they are - I have crabgrass, clover, and various vines and other things I don't know the name of. If I were to pick only one type of weed my garden would soon be overrun by the other weeds and my vegetables would be choked out. The same is true in my life. While I often put more energy into fighting a particular "weed" in my life, if I were ever to completely ignore the other weeds, they would quietly take over and choke out the relationships I have with my Lord and those people He's placed in my life.

My garden also reminds me how consistent and diligent I need to be in pulling weeds. They grow fast and increase greatly, no matter how clear I believe a spot is. Just a few days of neglect leads to a wealth of weeds. The same is true of my spiritual life. I must continually utilize my "weeding tools" (Bible reading and study, prayer, and fellowship with other Christians) to keep the weeds out. It only takes short periods of time of neglecting these areas of my life for weeds to creep up and threaten to take over.

My garden also reminds me how harmless many weeds look. I have one particular weed that grows on a vine. It will actually flower if I let it grow long enough. It even looks fairly decent - pretty green rounded leaves and little purple flowers. However, it doesn't belong in my garden and will take over and steal nutrients from my vegetables if I let it grow. There are many things in our lives which also look harmless and sometimes even pleasant, which mean to decieve us into thinking "it's not that bad. It can't be, it's too pretty." However, if God doesn't want it in our life, if it will not produce fruit, or help produce fruit, it doesn't belong and should be eliminated. That way the true fruit (or vegetables) have plenty of room to grow and flourish in our lives.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Perspectives from a Garden

One lesson I'm consistently reminded of while working in my garden is how different things can look based on my perspective. As I squat to weed I get everything I can see. When I stand up and lean over, I see a whole new set of weeds. As I move down the row or to the other side of the row I once again see weeds that were missed from my previous position and perspective. The different things I notice and see as I change my physical perspective reminds me of how important my mental/emotional perspective is.

As a mom my perspective has changed drastically over the years. I was talking with a close friend this week about my transformation from overwhelmed, stressed, tied-down-feeling new mom to a peaceful, joyful, love-being-home mom of four. Many things have changed in my life over the last six years, since I was a new, first-time mom. But none of them have created circumstances that would make life less stressful.

Being a very independent and selfish person (two qualities that are hailed and pushed in our culture) I was not ready to be on call for a demanding infant 24/7. I had always wanted to be a mom, loved my baby, and was grateful for her, but was stressed at what the reality of being a new mom meant. But when she was about a year old God put a Bible Study in my hands that began to change my heart and my perspective on myself, my focus in life, and thus on being a mom. As I began to change my perspective from "what about me?", "but I deserve...," and "I wish things were different," (so they'd make things easier on me) I began to truly grasp the things that I was desperately chasing. Instead my perspective became more focused on growing closer to God so that I could more clearly see His will and let Him work in my life. My perspective on myself began to change (seeing myself for the selfish person I am), my perspective on my husband began to change (seeing all the wonderful things he does instead of nit-picking the things he doesn't do), and my perspective on my children began to change (seeing them for all the wonderful things they bring to my life, not the work and energy they cost me.)

Having the right perspective is still something that I pray about and work on consistently. God has to remind me through His Word and every day things like moving around in my garden to see new weeds to remind me that I also need to check my perspective on my life and make sure that I'm seeing things from His truth, and not from my selfish desires.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Lessons from a Garden

Each year, for the last four years, I have planted a vegetable garden. Each year it seems to get a little bit bigger and a little bit more diverse. And each year God uses my garden to feed not only my body, but also my mind and spirit. As I spend hours a week in my garden - checking my plants, pulling weeds, harvesting vegetables -there is lots of time to think, process and pray, even though I always have one ear and the frequent eye on the children to make sure they're doing what they should be doing.

As I work, I'm reminded of many past lessons and occasionally receive new lessons. It has been quite amazing to me to see all that God can do in me while performing the simple tasks of gardening. The first, and not least, of which is the fact that I am gardening at all.

Growing up my mom had a garden. No, not just a garden, she had a yard full of vegetables. We lived on two and a half acres, and the garden took up at least half an acre. And I hated it. I didn't want to spend my precious hours pulling weeds and picking vegetables. I had more important things to do, like call my friends, listen to the latest top 40 hits, and sunbathe. But even though I hated the work of the garden, I loved the produce from it. Our favorite dinners growing up were when my dad wasn't going to be home to eat, because we would have a fresh-out-of-the-garden dinner (you know how men are about meat and potatoes.) And it's that love of fresh veggies that God instilled in me early that brought me to planting my own garden and opening myself up for Him to work in me through it time and time again.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Another Great Website Found!

If you have children in grade school, whether you homeschool or not, this is a great website. I found it looking for cursive templates that I could personalize - I found so much more! www.kidzone.ws has information and worksheets by topic – including animal facts, geography, language arts, lesson plans, magic tricks, math, science, and thematic units – or by grade – preschool through grade five. Preschool includes alphabet recognition games, learning letter sounds, color recognition worksheets, scissor skills, shape recognition worksheets, and much, much more. First grad has consonant recognition and practice, tracer pages, math worksheets, Dolch (sight) words, phonics, science experiments and facts and thematic units. The tools for other grades are just as good and various (those just happen to be the grades I’m teaching right now) as these.

We use websites to supplement learning all the time and I’m always excited to find new ones. Ones we stick to for games are www.pbskids.org, www.nickjr.com, and www.starfall.com. Another great website for customizable worksheets is www.handwritingworksheets.com. www.schoolexpress.com is also a great resource website for parents.

Do you have a great parenting website? Please share it! Happy learning!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sick Days

Sick days aren’t what they used to be. When I think back to high school and college days, sick days were usually days when I wanted a break. They were days to do nothing and go nowhere. I’d flip through the channels until that got old and then maybe curl up with a book. Anything went for food, but soup or a bowl of pasta was typical fair. Sick days were days of rest and recuperation. Even when I got my first “real” job after college I was able to take a mental health days. I worked in healthy place that believed that mental health days helped employees be more productive when they were at work. I didn’t even have to use my vacation, I could actually schedule a sick day.
Now I’m a mom and sick days have taken on a whole new meaning. There are no days off, with rest, relaxation, reading, and flipping channels on the agenda. When I do get a day “off” – meaning the house with no children for a day – it’s generally spent catching up with chores and used to do special projects that have been put off for who knows how long. True sick days – those days where I’m truly sick – are still not days of rest. Generally, as a mom, you keep on keeping on even when you feel bad. There are still children who need to be taken care of, fed, and loved. Their needs don’t vaporize because mommy doesn’t feel good. On occasion help can be recruited (my husband has been known to stay home to help out, but a day is about max tolerance for being in the house with a sick wife and a bunch of little ones.) Usually, however, you don’t want to share your germs, and no one want to take the risk anyway. So sick days, even true sick days, end up trying to function through a thick fog with every thought focusing on the next time you can crawl into bed, but knowing that just getting to lay down on the floor and being crawled on would suffice.
Sick days as a mom also include when the kids get sick. Life stops. Routine stops. Chores stop. Rules lax. Even more so than when mommy’s sick, everything comes to a screeching halt. Although all kids deal with feeling bad differently, they tend to want mommy. They want mommy to hold them, snuggle with them, and just be there. The focus becomes medicine schedules, and fluid intake, and temperature readings. Oh yeah, and dragging sick (and all other non-sick) children out to the doctor’s office and then to the pharmacy to wait for half an hour for medicine. Housework waits. Showers wait. Sleep waits.
Hopefully it passes in a day or two, although sometimes it’s a week or two. It’s exhausting and trying, but worth every minute. The laundry will eventually get done. The dishes will eventually get done. The dust will sit and wait. But just like everything else, when we put our kids first, it is completely worth it. Sometimes it takes sick days for us to stop and focus solely on these precious gifts. Sick days: no fun, but a wonderful opportunity to stop and say “I love you” one more way.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Laundry

I never knew how much laundry would dominate my life! With a household of five I do between 6-8 loads a week. I'm learning to combine things a little better and stuff loads, which helps with the actual number, but doesn't change the amount to fold, hang, and put away. I've tried various methods - one a day, only putting an extra load in when the one out of the dryer is put a way - but right now I've settled on the laundry day, where everything gets done in one (or two) days.

That isn't always enough, however. For added fun this week I decided it was time to switch out my youngest's clothes. She's 23 months and starting to potty train herself, so there really was a slight need. She's growing out of some of her 18 month clothes and I needed to find the training panties I knew were with the 24 month/2T clothes. In the meantime I found several bags of clothes where I had thrown items as the girls have grown out of them. That means there are a few things of every size (from 12 months to 6) all jumbled together. I hate finding a cute outfit that wasn't with the right size after it's been grown out of (and it's easier to make the switch if everything's together.)

So now my den has been taken over by clothes. It's very overwhelming looking at the mountains of clothes everywhere, but I sit down and take it piece by piece. It's something that needs to be done, and I thank God for the more than generous supplies we have for our children. I know with baby number 4 on the way I'll start the every 3 month clothing turn over again soon, and will probably be overwhelmed with laundry again with tons of baby clothes (little, yes, but there's so many with babies that cover outfits with spit up and/or have a blow out at least once a day), summer laundry (towels, swim suits, etc.), and all the regular stuff. When that happens I'll just have to come back to this post, and remind myself that it doesn't last forever - and one day they'll be old enough to do it all on their own! (yes, they are in training.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Throwing a Child's Birthday Party Under $100

I’ve been to a couple of Birthday parties lately that have cost (to my best guestimate) between $300-$400. One was a location party and included ordered pizzas. The second had Cinderella come visit. In between these two parties my husband and I threw a party at home for our two oldest children (who’s birthdays are conveniently 3 days apart.) We’ve never gone all out or spent a lot on Birthday parties and the children always seem to have a blast. This year I decided to try to keep the spending to a minimum. We threw two parties, one for our children’s friends and one for family. Both were held on the same day. Our goal is always to stay under $100, including providing dinner for the family. This year we came well under our goal, with the total expenditure being about $86. Here’s how we did it.
First, we hosted the parties at home. I created post card invitations on my computer and hand delivered as many as possible. We only blew up balloons for decorations (no helium – kids like it better if they’re within their reach to play with anyhow.) We bought minimum numbers of paper products and made the drinks from scratch. I didn’t put out any other food, as we had the party at 2:00 p.m., right after lunch. The cake and icing were home-made, decorating and creating is part of the fun for us and the kids to see what we’ll come up with next. We get cake ideas from coolest-birthday-cakes.com (we also have one posted there under Thomas – Island of Sodor.) I also got party game ideas from partygamecentral.com. We played the spoon race using potatoes instead of eggs (they’re usable even if they get dropped) and the spin until your dizzy game.
I’m not a big fan of gift bags of plastic trinkets and candy for giveaways for guests. Last year I bought dollar books and made paper crowns for each child. This year I bought small clay pots, a bag of seeds and some soil (of which I could use the remainder for my plants I start inside for my garden.) We used paints, glitter glue, and paint brushes that I had in my craft collection for the kids to decorate their pots after they planted their seeds. They loved the craft and fortunately it was warm so we were able to do this outside and let the pots dry while we continued with the party.
The kids party went very well and we stayed right at $50 with everything included. Later in the day we hosted the family party and provided dinner for everyone. We grilled chicken, made a home-made salad from fixing I had around the house from what we normally by at Costco (also where we got the chicken), and made two box rice mixes (just because I forgot to put the real rice on to soak and cook early enough.) There was enough cake left to feed the family as well as some left over. Everyone had a good time and was well fed. The kids had a blast and each had a personal gift take home. I’m sure someone may be able to come up with an even more frugal party, but we’re very happy with our full day of celebrating for under $100.

Here's the expense break-down:
Kid Party (10 young guests)
12 Clay Pots $9
Bag of Seeds $1
Soil $4
Art supplies $0
Invitations $0
Stamps $2
Plates, Cups, Napkins $12
Game ideas/supplies $0
Balloons (bag of 24) $2
Cake (4 boxes, ice cream cones) $9
Icing (home-made) $6
Ice Cream (generic, 2 cartons) $7
Drinks (tea, lemonade, water) $0
Thank You’s (home-made) $0
Thank You postage $4
Total for Kid Party $56

Family Party/Dinner (15 adults)
Chicken Tenders $13
Marinade/oil $2
Rice Mixes $3
Salad fixings $9
Thank You postage $3
Total for Family Party/Dinner $30

Grand Total $86
 

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