“Super Mom”

I’m not sure how I ever got that title of “Super Mom” or why people want to use it loosely with me…

it could be because I have a bunch of kids whom I’ve managed to keep alive,
because I stay at home with them 24/7,
because we home school,
because I have a strong-willed child whose challenges I now speak openly about, or
maybe just to encourage me in all of these things.

I’m not sure, but it’s definitely not a term I would’ve ever given myself.


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I do always try to stay positive, especially when it comes to social media and dealing with the challenges I face as a mother. However, I sometimes ONLY post the positive or the really funny things that are just so bad that I have no choice but to just laugh through them. (Laugh to keep from crying, right?) So because I’m only posting my “highlight reel” of positivity, maybe people think that I’m that way all around.

Well, I’m here to tell you that I’m not. If you’ve ever played the comparison game with me, I’m about to burst your bubble. While I don’t want to ever portray motherhood in a “negative” sense… I do want to be real with you here. It IS hard. It IS real. And sometimes it’s raw and emotional – even for me.

There have been times where I feel like I’m “killing it”… but for the most part I actually get really overwhelmed, stressed out, and anxious fairly easily as a mom – especially when we aren’t in a good routine and I don’t feel like I’m managing things well (which is not unusual for this season we’re in). I’m working really hard to “give myself grace” in all the areas, but it doesn’t keep me from feeling these things and feeling out of control.

This is something that I never really noticed about myself until I was a mom, but as I read the chapter about “Highly Sensitive People” in Anne Bogel’s book “Reading People“, it was like a light bulb went off. It was me.. to a T. I don’t say this to use it as an excuse – certainly not. But I do find it ironic that this motherhood gig brings about many of the triggers that tend to affect me as a highly sensitive person. It’s the only thing that has pushed me so far out of my comfort zone and made me realize these things about myself. I truly and firmly believe that while we think our children are put here for US to raise and teach and grow, they actually in turn, do the exact same thing for us as parents. God has used my children to teach me so many things in life – things I would’ve never faced or dealt with otherwise.

“Being highly sensitive means that you have a highly tuned nervous system, and it affects 1 in 5 people. High sensitivity describes people whose nervous systems are more receptive to stimuli than those of the general population. This means they are more attuned to subtleties in their surroundings and are more easily overwhelmed by highly stimulating environments.” -Anne Bogel

Common Triggers for Highly Sensitive People:

1. Noise… Sometimes it’s loud noises, but for me it comes when there is “non-stop noise of any sort” (aka kids).

2. Clutter… Messy spaces are draining because of all of the visual input (aka kids).

3. Texture… This one affects some people, but doesn’t affect me too much personally.

4. People… People can definitely be overwhelming (aka kids… yall noticing a trend here?).

5. Consecutive errands/meetings/appointments… This one comes from having constant, varied input with no time in between to recover. I deal with this on shopping days because I have to go to multiple stores since we are out of town. I’m no good for anything productive the rest of the day when we get home.

6. Big Feelings… Emotions are overwhelming to me, so I avoid them usually. There’s no such thing as a little bit sad or a little bit happy or a little bit tired…. We feel things very deeply.

7. Information Overload… While I LOVE learning new things, there are times that I have to just turn it all off.

8. Media… I notice this one affecting me when something major gets a ton of attention in media, especially when it’s something that would cause me to have those “big feelings” I try to avoid.

9. Decisions… Decisions are a major source of energy drain. Decision fatigue kicks in sooner with HSPs and lasts way longer. I make a bazillion decisions in a day with my kids, and my personality type makes it even worse.

Anne Bogel says, “Armed with a little knowledge, you can be more prepared to deal with your highly sensitive responses to the world. Sometimes simply understanding brings instant relief. You understand that you’re not alone, and you’re not crazy. And in addition to bringing relief, knowing you are an HSP can bring a new appreciation for not only the hardships of bearing the trait but also the benefits.”

Here’s a free assessment if you’d like to see if you or maybe your child might be highly sensitive.

Giving an HSP What They Need:

  1. Quiet… Whether working in an office or staying home with ten kids, HSPs need some noise-free zones in their day. (This used to be why I would wake up at 4:30am, but that’s proving to be harder and harder when I’m also waking up with a newborn during the night. However, I might have to strive a little harder to accomplish this one – just for my own sanity.) Another way to get a little more “quiet” is to have some automated systems and routines so that I don’t have people asking me things that they can answer for themselves, “Taco Tuesday” for example. If we always have tacos on Tuesdays, that’s one day they wouldn’t have to ask me, “What’s for dinner?”.
  2. Peaceful, Clutter-free Environments… Not always, obviously, but especially when it’s time for an HSP to recharge.
  3. Privacy… When HSPs need to focus, they often prefer to work (or read or walk or think) alone. They notice all of the little things that others wouldn’t like sighing, laughing, keyboard clatter… things that seem miniscule to others, can put HSPs on high alert.
  4. Downtime… HSPs have to be deliberate about this and do something that actually fills their tank instead of draining them more.
  5. Minimal Information Intake… Smartphones make this especially hard because it’s tempting to listen to a podcast during downtime or check emails, social media, etc. but all of these are just additional stimulation that I need to take breaks from.
  6. Routine… Smooth routines makes for fewer decisions. Since HSPs are more prone to decision-fatigue, consistent routines help. They also give the bonus of “less talking” which can zap energy from an HSP.
  7. Boundaries… This should be the goal of HSPs so that they don’t intuitively take on the negative energy of other people and places.

“HSPs can be intense. They are passionate by nature, and can make others feel their passion too. They have laser-like focus and dedicate boatloads of attention to the things they care about. They’re able to explore issues in depth, seeing the nuances that others miss or choose to ignore. They’re extremely perceptive, picking upon all sorts of things nonsensitive types miss. They are creative and able to turn their hyper-awareness within to generate new ideas. When we think of high sensitivity in that light, it sounds like a super power.” -Anne Bogel

In addition to knowing what I need as a highly sensitive person, something else I’m working on is portraying motherhood in a positive light instead of a negative one. This is something I’ve been convicted about lately… there was a series of posts made on Instagram by my friend (I’m claiming her as my friend), Phylicia that really hit home with me. There are so many memes out there that portray motherhood in a negative sense and just focus on how hard it is. Yes – motherhood IS hard. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but as I said earlier… I believe that God uses the hard things in our lives to teach us and to grow us. Even the hard things, like motherhood, that we choose and desire for ourselves.  Here are the things Phylicia encouraged me in… maybe it will be an encouragement to you too.

“What if we as moms united around our SUCCESS instead of around our FAILURE? We might love our motherhood more.

When we trash talk motherhood in front of the world, we’re telling them Jesus isn’t good for what He promised.

It’s not ‘Take heart, for I have overcome… unless you’re a SAHM’. It’s ‘Take heart, I have overcome’ everyday you disciple your children.

Christian moms, we have a responsibility for how we portray motherhood to the world. Do we portray it in the lens of our worldview, which is that Christ has overcome the world, or do we focus on the negative and the hard?

There’s no denying that there are hard days. And Not all motherhood memes are bad. And yes, there are some situations (foster /adoption /special needs) that do demand more from a parent. But we need to be a voice for positive motherhood and emphasize the GOOD much MORE than the hard, and let that be our uniting factor.

In those hard days and seasons, learn to ask yourself…

What part of this can I control?
What part of this do I need to release to God?
How can I live out my identity as an overcomer here?
We are capable of more.” -Phylicia Masonheimer

No matter what situation or season of motherhood you are in… It doesn’t matter if you are highly sensitive, have a child who is, or are dealing with newborns, fostering, adoption, or special needs… No matter what – Christ has overcome, and so can you. You may not be or feel like a “Super Mom”… that’s okay, because we serve a “Super God”, and he is the strength in our weakness. We can go to Him in the chaos of our lives and find His supernatural power to keep going and overcome. My prayer is for you today, mama. Go get it!

My January 2019 “Ta Da!” List

The idea of a “Ta Da” List is that we focus on the things that we accomplish, the ways we are successful…. maybe even things that weren’t even on our original “To Do” or “Goals” lists. It’s a way of celebrating the wins – the big and the small, instead of focusing on the negative and feeling guilty for not getting things done. I loved this idea so much that I decided to use it to title and formulate my monthly recap posts as well! This is a monthly blog post I will publish that will hold me accountable to the goals and New Year’s Resolutions that I set for myself for the year.

**This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission – at no extra cost to you.

  • Took Lyndon to his 2-week check-up, and learned that he made it into the 8 lb. weight class
  • Supported Justin and Lawson in his first ever CrossFit competition, where he took 2nd place in his division
  • Went out for a Girls’ Night / Post-Christmas Get Together Dinner with friends
  • Started meal-prepping and eating healthy again
  • Hosted a Play date with two different friends of mine and their kids this month
  • Signed Lawson up for the next season of T-ball
  • Showed our house to some potential buyers
  • Purchased a gift for an upcoming couple’s wedding shower
  • Planned our second semester of Homeschooling
  • Wrote a flexible, daily, routine for us at home… it’s changed a little now that we have a newborn in the house
  • Kon-Mari’d the kids’ clothes
  • Kon-Mari’d my clothes (including the maternity clothes I never want to wear again)
  • Shopped for new clothes that I feel good in postpartum
  • Finished reading the book Together by Carrie Ward
  • Made a Home school Reading Log for the Books we currently own
  • Laminated Tot School Vocabulary Development Cards
  • Repainted our Lockers (This was my household project for the month.)
  • Rearranged the living room and playroom
  • Kon-Mari’d the Kids’ Books
  • Cleaned out our spice drawer, Relocated them, and Re-organized the drawer
  • Kon-Mari’d some Kitchen items & re-organized some cabinets and spaces
  • Worked out twice at home… It’s a start. 😉 The first time, I got a terrible muscle cramp. I must get back to this slowly.
  • Sent a friend some educational gift ideas for her preschooler
  • Wore my Fitbit watch and started tracking my steps again
  • Started our second semester of home school
  • Organized our Files
  • Organized the hall closets
  • Straightened the bathroom cabinets
  • Enjoyed my frothy coffee at home this month (after an aversion to coffee during my pregnancy)
  • Began reading Essentialism by Greg McKeown
  • Finished the Book of Numbers with the kids in Bible Roadtrip
  • Began the Book of Deuteronomy with the kids in Bible Roadtrip
  • Had a Cleaning Lady come to help me get our house in order for our house showing
  • Posted some video stories on Instagram (so scary for me, lol)
  • Combined my personal and business Instagram accounts and started being more active on there since it’s more easy for me to do during the day
  • Eased back into writing and published a couple blog posts this month
  • Ordered clay bentonite powder and apple cider vinegar to detox and new, all natural, good-for-me deodorant to try (as part of my goal to switch over to more healthy beauty and body products)
  • Journalled and logged my daily food intake
  • Kept up with my daily skincare routine (most days)
  • Began paying back my student loans this month (We’ve been paying Justin’s, but now we will be paying mine back monthly as well.)
  • Paid all our bills for the month (We may not be ahead on anything, but we aren’t behind on anything either. It’s worth celebrating too – even if it’s just the way we always do things.)
  • Fed all my kids and kept them all alive this month (This one just makes me smile every time… especially with having a newborn in the house and three other littles.)I no longer make long to-do lists for myself… at least not in this season. I may give myself like one goal for the day (that may or may not get done), but mostly I just do what I see that needs to be done when I have a moment. And this Ta Da list makes me feel like it was a very successful month – even though the days were quite a bit more stressful and demanding than I’m used to.

    Whatever you do, let’s make a Plan to be more Purposeful!

19 Things in 2019

I saw the idea of “19 things in 2019”, and I fell in love. Yall know I love lists. While 19 does seem like quite a large number, I’m giving myself the entire year to complete the list. I will break it down into bite-sized pieces, as always, and give myself grace for what I don’t get accomplished. But it sure is a fun way to begin… am I right?


*This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase through one of these links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

So here’s my 19 things for 2019…

1. Read through the Bible with my kids using the Bible Roadtrip curriculum.

Instead of trying to do my quiet time totally separate, I’m going to focus on our Bible Roadtrip Curriculum with my kids, and kill two birds with one stone so to speak. This idea was inspired by the book I just finished, Together by Carrie Ward, and by an instagram friend, Phylicia (She doesn’t know me, but I am claiming that we are totally bffs.) This is one way that I’m giving myself grace as a mama, but I am hoping that I’ll be able to go more in depth with it and that we can focus on some scripture memory as well.

2. Explore verse-mapping.

I’m going to try to include this idea with our studies as well, but it’s new to me so I’ll have to learn all about it first.

3. Worship daily with my kids.

My kids and I all love music. Singing together in the car is one of our favorite things. I want to try to incorporate this more when we are home as well. Music calms me when I’m anxious, and I think it will work well for my kids as well. It’s just not currently one of my go-to things that I think about.

4. Journal daily and do “writing sprints”.

This one comes from an idea that came to me a while back. I can’t tell you how many times our kids ask us questions about spiritual things that I feel are just well beyond their years. They already know so much at their young ages than I did at their age for sure. Even the one that I don’t think is listening to me can recall and relate different biblical concepts, and I’m so amazed. I really don’t think it’s because of anything we’ve done – maybe just the prayers we’ve prayed for them… but I want to explore it more. I want to somehow capture these little conversations we have as a means of memory-keeping for them, but also maybe even to publish in some way as well.

The concept of “writing sprints” is just to write… no editing, no formatting, just writing whatever is on my heart. I need to get in the practice of doing this and just see what comes from it.

5. Gradually replace our cleaning products with all-natural versions.

I’ve already done this with our All-Purpose cleaner since I use it the most. I purchased glass bottles, essential oils, castile soap and made my own disinfectant/all-purpose cleaning spray. I wanted a healthier version because this is what I clean my counter tops and tabletop with several times a day. I wanted a chemical-free version so that I can feel good about kneading my bread-dough right on my counter tops and be confident than I’m not adding in any harmful chemicals to my dough by doing so. I already love this spray, and I even made up a few to give as Christmas gifts.

I’m not sure if I’ll continue to make up my own cleaners with essential oil recipes or if I’ll use Branch Basics, which I’ve also looked into. I will do a little research before I make my final decision, and I might just do a mixture of both.

6. Begin to replace my beauty products with all-natural versions.

This one, I’ll admit, is a little scarier for me to commit to. I have products that I already love that I use on a daily basis when it comes to skincare, make-up, and even bath products. I think the easiest way to do this, though, is to just do one thing at a time, as I run out of them. Just like I did with my all-purpose cleaner first for cleaning products… in this category I’m starting with deodorant. I’ve ordered Bentonite Clay Powder that I will use with Apple Cider Vinegar to detox my skin, and then I will try out ClayDry Deodorant from Zion Health. I’ve heard good things. I’ve also seen that you can use the Clay Powder for other purposes as well, such as for shaving so I’m going to probably try that out as well since I have it.

7. Read 6+ books this year, one of them being a fiction book.

My goal for the past few years has been to read 12 books, but I don’t think I’ve actually ever met THAT goal, even though I’ve come close some years. I do believe that it is good to read and be learning constantly so I won’t give it up completely, but I’ve lowered my standards to make them more attainable for me. I have absolutely no shame in doing that. I’m going to try to read 6 books this year, with one of them being a fiction book. I can’t tell you the last time I read a fiction book, other than a children’s book. I’m not sure if I will even like it, but I’m hoping it can be a good “me time” or leisure activity if I can learn to enjoy it.

8. Get back to my healthy self.

There are lots of mini goals wrapped up in this one. I’m so excited to work out again and get back to CrossFit! I’m ready to lose weight, eat healthy, and feel good about myself again. However, this goal comes second to feeding and nourishing my little one through breastfeeding… so instead of focusing on “losing weight” which is sometimes hard to do while breastfeeding, I’m focusing on eating nutritious well-balanced meals instead. I’ll be fueling my body for breastfeeding and workouts. In the past, doing this proved to be great for my milk-supply, and I did end up losing weight as well as an added bonus.

I’m going to start wearing my FitBit watch again. I’ll track my healthy journey’s progress in my planner using the Happy Planner Fitness Extension pack that was gifted to me – I’ll keep a food journal, workout log, and track my progress with pics, weigh-ins, and measurements. I really like to celebrate ALL the wins!

9.  Continue with my daily skincare routine.

A few months ago, I splurged on a new skincare line for myself. I bought the Littles Kit from the Drunk Elephant line so that I could sample all of the products. Some of them, I have fallen in love with, and so now I know which ones to buy the bigger sizes of, and which ones I can probably do without.

10. Plan and participate in regular phone detoxes.

I’d really like to get to a point where I intentionally take regular breaks from my phone… one hour a day, one day a month, and one week of the year will be my goal for this.

11. Cultivate a thriving home school.

This is one of those ongoing goals, but I’m constantly evaluating what is working or not working for us… how my children learn best, and what we can do differently to create a healthy love for learning in our home.

12. Plan, budget for, and complete one household project/month.

I’m making a list for this. It’s something that I often just put on the back-burner, but I want my home to be a place that I love, that sparks joy, and that I’m proud of. I want to be more hospitable and loving our home is going to help me to want to do that even more.

13. Upgrade our dining table to fit our “large family”.

I’ve always dreamed about having large family that could gather around a big ole table. Well I’ve got the family, but we’ve outgrown our table. We are currently squeezing in extra chairs from another dining set we had so we can all have a place to sit, and to be honest – it annoys me when we aren’t sitting at the table because I can’t push all the chairs in at the same time. It’s a minor thing because we do make it work, but I’d like to go ahead and upgrade it this year to a larger table if we can make it happen.

14. Stick to my Flylady cleaning routines.

This is an app on my phone that has different daily routines that I can use for morning, afternoon, and evening. It also has a “Weekly Home Blessing Hour”, and different zones that I clean weekly and can rotate through the house so that it never gets too out of control. It’s a really good system, and I love that it can be edited as well to fit my specific needs.

15. Repeat the KonMari process.

I went through this process for the first time probably about three years ago. Funny that it’s now becoming a trending-hot topic because of the show that just aired this month on Netflix. I’d like to go back through this process because I know I’ve grown since that time, and I’m embracing minimalism more and more as time passes.

16. Pay off 1-2 Student Loans this year.

This one is pretty much self-explanatory. Our student loans are our only debt right now, besides our mortgage. We’ve had them in deferment for several years because our income hasn’t been enough for us to cover them. This past year we were able to start paying on Justin’s, and now we have to pay mine monthly as well. I recently did a debt calculation that said we would have them paid off in seven years if we keep up with paying them monthly. (So basically if we had been able to afford them, they could already be paid off by now.)  Oh well. Anyway, we’d like to be able to continue with the monthly minimum payments all year, but also use our tax refund to pay off one of the smaller portions or two entirely if we can.

17. Establish basic Sinking Funds.

This is something I learned about last year but haven’t been able to carry out just yet. Hopefully we’ll get to a point where we are able to plan more for our future purchases and be in control a bit more, but if not – we’ll be okay with that too I guess. We’re just trying to do the best we can with what we have, and I can confidently say we are doing that.

18. Study the Enneagram.

Originally this one on my list was to “learn about and try new wines” this year, but my husband wasn’t too fond of that being one of my goals so I changed it to this one. I’ll just stick to ordering the one or two wines I know I like when we go out to dinner. Lol.

The Enneagram is something that’s becoming increasingly more popular now. I read about it in the book Reading People by Anne Bogel last year, but I didn’t spend much time on that chapter because I wasn’t as familiar with it. I’d like to learn more about my own type and what it means this year as well as the types of those in my family and those closest to me.

19. Learn to do a Hand-Stand Push-Up.

This was the same goal I set for last year in CrossFit, but I didn’t know I’d be pregnant most of last year so it wasn’t a goal that actually got met. Since I wasn’t already confident with being upside down (it’s actually a big fear of mine still), I REALLY didn’t feel confident in continuing to work on it while being “with child”. So… here it is again. A fear for me to overcome, and a goal for me to hopefully achieve and just a fun item to complete my list for the year.

I hope to be able to share with you monthly how it’s going with this list, and what I’m specifically doing to accomplish the goals I have set here. I’d love to have you as my accountability, and I’d love to know what your goals are for the new year.

Do you set New Year’s Resolutions? In what ways are you Planning to be more Purposeful in 2019?


My Word for 2019

I love the idea of having a focus word for the year. I started this back in 2016 with the word “Intentional”. That was the year I really began to use planning as a way to be more purposeful or “intentional” in my life. I didn’t choose a word at the beginning of 2017, but it was a hard year for me, and I learned a lot about my “identity” that year so I summed up the year at the end with that word. My word for 2018 was “Increase”, and I saw many aspects of that word throughout the year.

Just like I didn’t fully understand what God had planned for us in relation to my Word of the Year for 2018 until the end of the year, I’m sure it will be the same for this year’s word as well. While I already have my word for 2019, I don’t really know what it means for me yet.

I always like to tie a scripture in with my word of the year to focus on. This year, because I don’t know yet what is to come – I have three. So as the year progresses, we’ll see if we can narrow it down, or if God somehow just uses all three.

Last year, my word was Increase. God used that word in so many different ways – not just one. We saw increase in our faith, increase in our finances, and increase in our family as well with the blessing of a new baby. I’m sure it will be the same with this year’s word as well.

My Word of the Year for 2019 is IMAGINE.

Now to the one who can do infinitely more than we can ask or IMAGINE according to the power that is working among us. Ephesians 3:20

In this sense, I am going to IMAGINE the things that God is going to do. I think this is God giving me permission to dream. I’m going to imagine and dream big. Then, I will be praying those dreams back to God and see what He has planned. His plans and desires are always greater than our own. The bigger we dream and imagine, I believe the bigger things He will do.

Brethren, I do not IMAGINE that I have yet laid hold of it. But this one thing I do – forgetting everything which is past and stretching forward to what lies ahead of me. Philippians 3:13

This, I think, is in relation to the purpose that God has for us. We will not look to what we have done in the past or maybe even what we’re doing right now, but we will stretch ourselves (maybe even out of our comfort zones) to the bigger, eternal purpose that He has for us.

Then God’s peace which goes far beyond anything we could IMAGINE will guard your hearts and minds in union with the Messiah Jesus. Philippians 4:7

No matter what… we will have peace. It’s the unshakable peace that we cannot even fathom or understand, but it’s the one only God can give. No matter what fails or goes wrong or breaks or comes to an end, we will trust that God has it all under control.

The word Imagine is not a word I would’ve ever probably chosen on my own, but I’m excited to see what God has in store for us this year in relation to this word.

Do you have a Word of the Year? I’d love to know what your word is and how you use it to be more purposeful in your year.

Our Minimal Christmas

We decided last year to take a minimalistic approach to Christmas, all in the efforts to make Christmas more of an enjoyable season and less of a financial burden for us. It was probably our best Christmas ever in that sense! It was a tough call we had to make to stay within our means, and it didn’t come easily. We had many tough conversations in our house wondering if there was any other way, but we believe it was the right decision for us. I’m really glad we did it, even though it meant that we weren’t able to give gifts to everyone on our list.

Our family and friends were very understanding of our situation and our desire to stay within our budget. Many also let us know that they felt the same way about the burdens of Christmas. Since we prioritized giving gifts to our children and the children in our families, we weren’t able to give well-thought out gifts to the other adults in our lives that are important to us. However, they still desired to give gifts to us… This has been the hardest part. It’s hard to receive a gift well and not feel guilty at the same time for not being able to reciprocate by having a gift for them also. We have some pretty awesome people in our lives that bless us in so many ways… I’d be lying if I said that it doesn’t hurt my heart to not be able to give them a well-thought-out gift. We have just had to somewhat get over this though and realize that we couldn’t spoil someone else’s joy of giving just because we aren’t able to right now. Whenever it fits into our budget, you better believe that we will be purchasing nice gifts for them again. We can’t wait for that day. But for now… this is where we are, and this is what we do.

*This post contains affiliate links. I will earn a small commission if you make purchases through these links, at no extra cost to you, but I thank you for helping to support my family in that way. 


Here is how we navigate Our Minimal Christmas: 

 

We set a Christmas Budget.

To be honest, I had every intention of setting up a Christmas Sinking Fund so that we had actual money to pull from for this… but alas, that didn’t happen. Sometimes plans just don’t work out like we hope, and that’s okay. It’s a part of life sometimes. So basically, we just do the best we can and cash flow our Christmas to make it work for us, and it does help when we find great deals and start early so that it’s spread out over several months instead of just two. The Christmas Budget we set is more of a means of helping us keep track and keep it to a minimum. Going into debt for Christmas is simply not an option for us.

Here’s our Minimal Christmas Budget for 2018:
$50+/- per member in our family (We will have 4 children by Christmas, plus the two of us, so this equals $300.)
$50+/- for other children in our immediate family, collectively (We used to spend $30/each on them, but then I realized that we were spending almost as much for them as we were our own children so it may have been a bit excessive. We can still find them great gifts that stay within our set budget.)
$50 +/- for stocking stuffers for our family (This is one of my favorite traditions, but those things can add up quickly.)
$100 +/- for all the extras (This includes gift wrap, decorations, supplies for handmade gifts, gifts needed for gift swaps, ingredients for holiday meals, traditions, etc.)

Our minimal Christmas Budget for this year is $500. I realize this number may seem extravagantly low to some, but for others it may also seem ridiculously high. We are all in different economic and financial seasons, and that’s okay. I would actually love to have a bit more to spend on Christmas so that we could give gifts to more people that we love. Heck, I would even love to be able to pay for another family’s entire Christmas someday! But for now, this is where  we are, and we are making the decision to live within our means… even at Christmastime. If you’re unsure where to begin with setting a Christmas Budget, I recommend this series from Jordan at FunCheaporFree.com. She also offers some great tips in this video where she shows exactly what they bought for each of their kids last year.

We decorate minimally and use what we have.

There was a time when I used to have a themed tree where I would buy new ornaments and decor every year, but then I realized that I’d rather spend that money on gifts for my children or things they would enjoy instead. So now we decorate our tree with rolls of burlap that were given to us and the handmade ornaments and crafts from the kids instead. It’s definitely nothing fancy, but I still love it so much! We do enjoy still picking out a special ornament or two each year when we see ones that we really like. I really love how different ornaments are made unique and can tell a story on a Christmas tree. And as you can see from my picture, my tree usually gets “undecorated” by my children on a daily basis anyway. I usually keep a box or basket near the tree to collect the ornaments, and I re-decorate it several times throughout the season. Memories, right?

We make Christmas Wish Lists.

We ask our kids what they would like for Christmas, and I make a Christmas list in my planner or in the notes section of my phone. We don’t have a TV service with commercial advertisements so my kids do not really know what’s out there, unless they see it in a store. This one comes in handy for us though. We have always let our kids look at the toy section, and they are always quick to tell us what they like. Sometimes, I’ll snap a pic of the item with its price so I can remember it for later. One thing that’s great about this, is that I also always have a list handy for family members who ask what to get them for Christmas. We decide which of the gifts will be special gifts that we can purchase for them to give them on Christmas morning and which ones we can delegate to other family members to purchase for them.

We research, watch for sales, and keep our eye out for good deals.

I subscribe to MoneySavingMom.com as well as a few others, and I always check my email for special deals of things I might be looking for, and I buy things when they go on sale. I’ve been checking these daily for months so that I’ve been able to purchase several gifts early when I found things on a great sale.

We let our kids do their own Christmas shopping for each other, us, and other family members they’d like to give gifts to.

To do this, we take them to the Dollar Tree. We help them, of course, but we let them choose gifts to give to everyone on their list, which takes a few different trips so they can buy for extended family and also for each other without them knowing. Then, we let them wrap these gifts up to give away at our Christmas gatherings and on Christmas morning. Even though it’s a super, inexpensive idea – I love that it lets them focus on the aspect of giving instead of receiving. They get really excited to pick out, wrap, and then give their gifts. This also gives us more presents under our tree to unwrap. Most of the smaller boxes in the picture above are their Dollar Tree gifts wrapped up.

We celebrate Advent.

Contrary to popular belief, Advent is not actually about opening a little present or piece of candy every day until Christmas. 😉 Advent is the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event… hello, Jesus?? Yes, the actual reason for the season. I loved the Advent Bible study from Kari Denker at Stone Soup for Five that focuses on the Old Testament Prophecies and how they are fulfilled in the New Testament. It even has a coloring book and “Countdown” page for your children to color so they can do it alongside you. This past year, I also printed a set of Advent Countdown cards where we listened to a different Christmas song everyday that helped our family to focus on the real meaning of Christmas.

 

We give handmade “happies”.

Last year I embroidered hand towels. I used fabric and thread that I already had on hand. Of course, I also already had an embroidery machine too so this helped. I purchased hand towels for about $30 total and made many of them. Yes, it required a great deal of time on my part, but time is a resource that’s easier for me to find than money.

We get creative with how we wrap gifts.

Since there aren’t quite as many gifts to wrap, I don’t need to purchase much for this. Last year, I used Christmas-colored fabric, clear treat bags, and ribbon I already had on hand to wrap the hand towel happy gifts. I think they turned out great!

I don’t always do this, but I’ll also let you in on another secret for my gift wrapping… I love to buy a simple roll of brown paper. The brown paper can be used year-round for birthdays as well as Christmas gifts. My other secret is to buy gift bags from Dollar Tree. I’ve always been able to find simple, brown paper neutral gift bags there 3/$1.00 or 2/$1.00, depending on the size you choose, and they work perfectly! You can easily dress up the brown paper wrapped gifts and bags with colored tissue paper, colored ribbons, or other art supplies you have on hand.

We focus on Christmas traditions.

Some of our favorite Christmas traditions include making Christmas cookies on Christmas Eve, finishing our Advent countdown on Christmas morning, opening our stockings, and then taking turns opening presents to make it last longer. We also have a special Christmas morning breakfast… something easy that I can make ahead and put in the oven while we open presents.

Stockings were one of my favorite things I remember from Christmases growing up so I tend to go a little overboard here collecting things throughout the year. The kids usually get things that they “need” in their stockings like new toothbrushes and bath soaps as well as some fun items I’ve found for them too. I love to include things like snacks and special treats that we don’t have on a regular basis…. like a box of fruit snacks that I’ll open and disperse among their stockings or fun candies that we’ll add to our candy box later to give as treats and rewards. This past year, I even bought a box of Froot Loops with marshmallows and wrapped it up like a regular present, and they were thrilled!

2017 Stockings & The Chalkboard We Gave the Kids as one of their Shared Big Gifts

Would you like to see what each of our kids are getting for Christmas this year?!

I’ll share with you… only if you promise not to tell them. Can you help me keep it a surprise for them please? 😉

Linkin (Age 4)

The Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescuer is Linkin’s big gift that he requested. I saw it at Wal-Mart for around $55, but then I found it on Target.com for $44. I’m sure this one will still be on sale or at least go on sale again before Christmas as it’s a popular, newer item. He also requested the Guess Who game that he played with Daddy on one of their father/son outings to the ice cream shop in town.

 

Lawson (Age 6)

Lawson asked for a remote control airplane or drone this year, and I found this one at Sam’s Club for $30. (I wasn’t able to find an online link for you guys anywhere there. This style must’ve been a last-in-stock item. But I did see them in store again when I was there last week.)  He also asked for the Checkers game.

 

 

Layten Bradleigh (Age 2)

We decided to get Layten a kitchen because she’s always very interested in what I’m cooking and making in the kitchen. She also brings me foods she’s made for me all the time from the playroom and the kitchen-type toys she has now. It was important to me that I find one that would look nice and not “like a toy” because I want it to go in out kitchen/dining area so she can cook alongside me. This was a more affordable option ($79.99 from IKEA), and since the boys will probably play with it too, I justified spending a little extra on it. (I was way under budget on her birthday gift in October, and I also spent less on Lawson’s gifts so it rounds out to be about the same.)

I knew that we would probably assemble this one on Christmas Eve after they go to bed and set it out for her to find, but since she’s still so little, she’ll probably love unwrapping presents as well so I didn’t want her to miss out on that experience either. Luckily, I’ve saved some of the well-made kitchen toys we’ve had in previous years from the boys, and they’ve been in storage. She’s never seen them, so we’ll wrap those up for her to open and use with her new kitchen. I call that winning, and we didn’t pay a thing for them this year!

 

Baby #4 (Due just before Christmas)

Since we are literally going to have a newborn this Christmas… and one that’s probably going to just sleep right through our Christmas celebration…. we’re getting this baby something practical. I found a really good deal on a product I’ve been eyeing for a while. We’ve had a baby play gym with all three of my littles… a little mat that they can lay on with some dangly things over them for them to look at and focus on. It’s probably one of my favorite baby items, but unfortunately we don’t still have the one my other kids used anymore. I fell in love with this one when another mom on Instagram shared it. It’s so neat, yall! It was designed by child development experts and has Montessori, wooden, and organic accessories that all detach for greater learning experience. It’s meant to be used for the entire first year and even comes with a play cover that makes it kind of like a tent for more imaginative play. I’m sure my older kids will love it too!

**I contacted the LovEveryBaby company, and they’ve agreed to give my readers $10 off the purchase of this play mat or their play kits which are also really neat and would make fantastic Christmas gifts for the babies in your life. I will earn a small commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you, so I’d like to thank you for doing that!

 

Family Gifts

Sometimes we will give a gift to all of the kids together, to share, but not always. We have no real rules here. Last year we did give them a chalkboard/dry erase easel from Ikea ($14.99), and that was a great (and inexpensive!) big gift for them.

Our family has been really into games lately, and I happened to find this Scrabble Junior game while I was in Dirt Cheap one day so I grabbed it for the kids to open together. I love that it has different levels. I can use it with Layten for letter-recognition, Linkin can match the letters on the printed side, and Lawson can begin to spell his own words with it so…Three different ways to play! I also bought a set of magnetic building blocks and a set of Play-doh tubs for them a few months ago when great deals were posted! I love taking advantage of deals like this throughout the year so it makes the burden of Christmas spending a little lighter.

So here’s an estimate of what we ended up spending on actual kids’ gifts this year…

$44 Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescue (after sales & discounts)
$10 Guess Who Game
$30 Video Camera Drone
$8 Checkers Game
$10 Scrabble Junior Game (purchased from Dirt Cheap)
$80 Ikea Kitchen
$16 Play-doh Set  (after sales & discounts)
$40 Magnetic Building Set (after sales & discounts)
$70 Baby Play Gym (after sales & discounts)

$308 Total
So yes, I spent a little more on the younger two and with the family gifts, so I ended up spending a little more than I thought I would. When I did my Christmas Budget planning, I had forgotten that I had already purchased and put away the two family gifts of Play-doh and Magnetic Set, so those were technically paid for a long time ago, but I wanted to include them in our total cost, of course.

However, I’m not upset by this technically “going over budget” at all. We didn’t go into debt to do it, and It’s all already paid for. We spent about $300 to provide Christmas for 4 children, and I don’t look at that as a bad number.

Just remember not to compare your Christmas to others. Every family is different, has different financial situations, different methods of saving up and affording Christmas, and different values. If you need help setting up an appropriate Christmas Budget for your family, here’s the post I recommend from Jordan Page at Fun Cheap or Free.

Our kids are going to have a great Christmas this year. Especially remembering our past Christmases and how they open one gift and want to immediately play with it… then they usually don’t even care about the others, and we have to remind them that they have more to open. I think Christmas is definitely more fun for us as parents than it is for them anyway. 😉

In case you missed it, here’s another post of how our family takes a minimalistic approach to Christmas… how we decided to make our Christmas more enjoyable, less of a burden, and how you can too! 

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!
Best holiday wishes to you!

Vision Series

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Vision… why it’s important, how to write it out, and how having a big vision can help us to be more purposeful in life.

Vision – the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom; a mental image of what the future will or could be like; a vivid mental image, especially a fanciful one of the future

Do you think it’s important to have a Big Life Vision, or is it something you’d rather not even think about? If i’m being honest, which I always try my best to do here, I would tell you that although I consider myself a big dreamer and LOVE to think about the future and what I want to accomplish in life… other times – those big, lofty things are just daunting to me… they sometimes seem impossible, and I begin to ask “What is the point?”

Well, I’ll tell you the point. The point is that if you have NO vision, you are living a very purposeless life. That’s something I definitely don’t want to do.

Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

If I were to stop there, I could easily read into scripture and think what I wanted that “the vision” is all about me and whatever hopes, goals, and desires I have for myself in life. It would be all good, all positive, and there would be absolutely no hardships or effort involved. I would just wake up one day, and life would be grand.

However, as I study this verse a little deeper and read it in different versions, I can gain more clarity from it. I did that, and I’m going to just share a summary of the different versions I read for you here…

When we have no vision…
When we have no revelation of God and His word…
When we don’t have guidance from God…
When we have no word from God, no prophecy…
When we can’t see what God is doing…
When there is no message from God…
Where there is no understanding of the Word of the Lord…

…then…

….we perish.
…we are unrestrained.
…we get out of control.
…we have no law and order.
…we stumble all over ourselves.
…we do whatever we want to.

And those things are no good. So you see, we NEED vision. But not just any vision. We need to ask God to reveal HIS vision to us, and pray that our desires and our hearts would line up with that vision.

I’d like to explore this idea of having a Big Life Vision more with you, but I want to also make sure that I do it in the right order. We can’t just write out the vision without God’s help. We can’t do this in our own efforts, or it just won’t work. (Ask me how I know that.) I’m going to break this down into a Vision Series where we explore each of the steps. I’d like to share at least some of the vision that God has placed on my heart, and I’d LOVE to share with you all of the aspects and ways that He brings those things into fruition. That part might be ongoing, but I’m okay with that as long as it’s all in His plan.

So, let’s put things back in order…
1. Delight yourself in the Lord.
2. Truly seek to obey Him in whatever you do.
3. See that your heart’s desires line up with His plans and purposes for you.
4. Watch him bless you abundantly, even more than you could think or imagine.

This will also be the order in which I’ll share my thoughts on this topic of Vision….
Monday, October 15th – First, we’ll talk about what it means to delight ourselves in the Lord. We’re going to get back to the basics here, and I’m going to give you a challenge for the week on how we can do that.

Monday, October 22nd – We’ll discuss Obedience… why our plans fail sometimes, how it sometimes falls on us, and what we can do to change that so that we’re ready and obedient to God, no matter what.

Monday, October 29th – We’ll talk about how we can actually write out our Big Life Visions… visions that line up with God’s plans for us. I’ll share with you some steps for doing this, and I hope to share with you some of the vision that God has placed on my heart as well.

We’ll wrap up there, but I hope to also be able to share with you, ongoing, how God is blessing me and my family abundantly… and I would LOVE to hear how he’s blessing you abundantly too. This is going to lead nicely into the month of November where we can easily focus on Gratitude and Thank God for all He’s done! See you on Monday for the first post of this three-week series!

Sign up for this 3-Week Vision Series! 

Join us as we refocus our hearts, seek God’s plan for our lives, and watch Him begin to reveal it to us so we can be more purposeful and join Him in that incredible plan! 

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    10 Parenting Strategies I’ve Learned By Having a Strong-Willed Child

     

    Parenting is one of those things that you are never truly prepared for. No matter how excited and ready you think you are for it, there’s going to be at least some aspect of it that totally throws you for a loop. For us, we thought we had it going on! You know, before we had our kids! Actually, we were still pretty prideful even for the first two years with our oldest. He is like the model child of high standards set for all our children to follow. Bless their hearts. I even thought I was going to write a book about parenting back then saying, “If everyone just did exactly what we did, then they would have perfect children like ours too.” Wrong. Wrong. I have never been more wrong.

    Our second son came along, the strong-willed one, and we quickly learned that we have no idea what we’re doing here, and I threw that book out. If I ever write a book on parenting, it will certainly NOT be about what awesome parents we are and how we do everything perfectly. We learned our lesson. Pride comes before the fall. We fell, and we fell hard. We have struggled for years learning how to do this parenting thing again as all of our original ideals were easily turned upside down, shaken up, and had to be reassembled into something new with child #2. In case you didn’t know, all children are different, and you have to parent them all differently as well.

       

    Our strong-willed child is four now. I really don’t like calling him that because those words tend to give off a negative connotation in these early years, but it is what it is, and we are just doing our best to steer it in the right direction so that he’ll use it for good as he gets older. We know that it really is a GOOD thing, and that will begin to show up when he’s a little older. My husband has often said, “I wish we could all be like Linkin. He just does his own thing and does not even care what anyone else thinks about it.” It true. He has his own ideas about EVERYTHING. He is super smart and intelligent… especially in the ways that he thinks. I often just wish I could see what’s going on inside his brain because he is just so creative and often totally unexpected in HOW he thinks about things and processes things.

    But as a parent, it puzzles me. I feel that he is so intelligent sometimes that he is always one step ahead of me in his thinking and his scheming… which can be a scary feeling for a parent. Sure, I do have some wisdom myself and the experience that 28 years of life has given me, but it often doesn’t feel like enough.

    It doesn’t feel like enough when he finds a loophole or argument in literally everything I ask of him. Obedience doesn’t come easily for him. Accepting that fact hasn’t been easy for us as parents. We expected our children to just obey because we are the ones in charge, and they are the children. We knew it wouldn’t just happen naturally, but we thought if we were consistent enough by following up their disobedience with a consequence and discipline, they would learn. But the truth is – it WASN’T working. Our method of discipline wasn’t what THIS child needed.

    We’d always heard that with strong-willed children, your will as the parent has to be stronger. Now, I’ll admit that I’ve never read the popular book by Dr. James Dobson that everyone recommends, but I always took that quote to mean something different. As it turns out, “strong” doesn’t necessarily mean what we think it means. I’ve looked up the definition for you to demonstrate this point. Thank you, Google.

    “Able to withstand great force or pressure”
    Synonyms: secure, well-built, indestructible, well fortified, well protected, solid,
    -(of a person’s constitution) not easily affected by disease or heardship
    -not easily disturbed, upset, or affected
    -(of a person’s character) showing determination, self-control, and good judgement
    -firmly held or established

    Being strong as a parent is not about exerting great force and performing physically demanding tasks. It’s about being strong enough to weather the storm, that is your child. It’s about having a good solid, foundation and being sturdy enough ourselves, as the parents, that we can endure the hardships that parenting brings us through.

    Now, I never want to come across as “I’ve got this all figured out.” In fact, that would be very untrue. I feel that God gives us our children, and he uses them to teach us. We THINK we are training and teaching our children, but really they teach us so much more. God uses these little humans to teach us and shape us, and I’m so thankful that He does. I’m so thankful that He loves me too much to leave me the way that I am, the way I often feel about my children as well. Here are some of the things He has taught me recently.

    10 Parenting Strategies I’ve Learned By Having a Strong-Willed Child:

     

    1. I’ve learned to not give up.

    I’m so glad that God had never thrown his hands up and given up on me… Lord knows there have been plenty of opportunities where He surely could have. So we just can’t do that with our child either.

    Just the other day my husband, Justin, said to me, “I wonder what things we are just so stubborn about that God is just up there shaking his head wondering when we’re gonna learn to trust Him.” It’s so true. We are just as stubborn and strong-willed as our child, and God has never once given up on us.

    2. I’ve learned to give grace and patience.

    As much grace and patience has been given to us, is how much grace and patience should be given to others… including our own children.
    (I’ll give you a hint… it’s a lot.) It doesn’t mean that I let them get away with every bit of disobedience, but I’ve learned that it’s about disciplining them in a different way to teach them the same lesson. God has never been harsh with me to teach me a lesson. I’ve suffered the natural consequences, sure… but he’s always given me grace and been patient with me. I can do the same for my child.

    3. I’ve learned how to be gentle.

    I’ve learned that I should keep gently steering their wills in the right direction, especially the strong ones. We have to be especially gentle with those. Harsh punishments aren’t always the best way for a child as each child will respond differently to these things. Sometimes when a will is strong, these harsh approaches only make those wills stronger and harder to turn. I have personally found that the more gentle we are, the more easily the wills begin to turn.

    4. I’ve learned that I should let go of anger.

    It’s easy to get angry when our children just don’t obey or they have plans of their own that aren’t lining up with ours. You might even think it’s righteous anger, as we did, because “you are the parent” after all, but I would like to challenge that and encourage you to take a different approach the next time you feel angry with your child. Think instead about how God would respond to your own disobedience to Him… and in turn, pray and ask how He would have you respond to your child. You might find yourself getting angry less often, the more you practice this.

    I learned so much about this by reading the book Pitchin’ a Fit by Israel and Brooke Wayne. You can read more about that in my post here.

    5. I’ve learned to love my children unconditionally.

    I want my children to know that there is absolutely nothing they can do that would make you stop loving them. It’s the way that God is with us, and our children need to feel this from us as their parents.

    6. I’ve learned how to be my children’s safe place to express their thoughts and feelings.

    In addition to letting them know that I love them, no matter what, I want to be the one that is always going to listen to them and hear what they have to say. I don’t always have a practical or appropriate response either. Sometimes, I just let them talk, and am there to listen.

    Before language skills were where they are now, this was much harder for us. I saw that strong will working, and I had to ask questions to try to figure out how my child was feeling and why he was acting out a certain way… “Are you tired? Are you angry? Do you feel sad? Are you hungry?” Now he is at an age where he can begin to tell me himself what’s going on and how he’s feeling.

    It’s important that we don’t just brush these things off. We can let our child be free to have hard moments, moments of strong emotion, real feelings – as long as we steer those in a way that’s not hurting anyone else. (Remember – sometimes we have real feelings and emotions too, hard days.) It’s good to have real feelings and learn how to express them in healthy ways. It’s taken me most of my life to learn how to do this, so I want my children to hopefully learn it sooner than I have.

    I also think this is going to be so important when we hit those teenage years. If your child doesn’t find you as their safe place to confide things as a young child, they surely won’t do it when they’re older. If you are worried about how you will respond to what they tell you and fear that you won’t understand and might even reprimand them for those things, they will instead keep those feelings inside instead of learning how to deal with them in appropriate ways. You are their parent, but part of that job is listening and helping to gently guide them to find appropriate responses to their real feelings and behaviors.

    7. I’ve learned to submit my own will to that of my Heavenly Father.

    Just like we can be that safe place for our child, God is always that safe place for us. We can tell Him our thoughts and feelings, and He is always there to listen. Then, we can take time to hear what He says to us too, and see how He gently directs us into handling things in the best way. We can let Him lead us in our parenting.

    8. I’ve learned to see my children as God sees them.

    God is such a creative God, and He’s done a remarkable job with each and every one of His creations, especially people -His favorite things that He has made. We can seek out the positive in our children. Look for the great personality traits and the gifts and talents they have been given. Thank God for these things. Praise Him for how he has made each of your children unique and special. Let them hear you doing this. Call out the positive traits and behaviors you see in them, and pray these things over them as well.

    I challenge you to try your best to only speak positively about your children. It doesn’t mean that you have to lie, but it does mean that you should be actively seeking out the positive things you see in them instead. Don’t call your children “bad”. Yes, all children are born bad and sinful beings. We all were born bad. (Romans 3:23) It’s our job as parents to teach them to be “good”. When you continue to call them bad and let them hear you say this, they claim that as their identity and accept it to be who they are. Continuing to call children bad is just an excuse to be lazy and not parent them well, in my opinion.

    9. I’ve learned how to develop a Family I.D. that gives our family and parenting direction.

    We did this through a church small group we lead, and you can read more about it here.  Ask God to give you a specific vision and mission for your family. This will help you so much in your parenting, because it gives you direction and a language to use with your children as you parent them. It gives you specific and strategic words to pray over them as well. We know we should pray for our children, but we sometimes don’t know how so this helps us to do that. We know we should steer and guide our children, but how can we if we don’t know which direction we’re headed? This vision gives you that direction, and the mission gives you a plan to carry out that vision and a specific route to take with your family.

    10. I’ve learned to be proactive in my parenting and to use the spiritual tools I’ve been given as a Christian.

    As parents, and Christians in general, we have to always be prepared to engage in the spiritual battle that is at hand. We have to be on guard ourselves. We have to be in the Word daily and girded up with truth so that we have the tools we need to fight… the spiritual armor of God. We have to do this ourselves, so that we can teach it to our children. We have to lay the foundation in our homes so that when we walk outside those doors and send our children out, they are ready to fight too. You know that the battle our children are facing today is even harder than the one we faced as kids, right? Our kids are being targeted so that they grow up to think things such as “sin” are normal and accepted. We have to keep a vigilant eye out for things they are being exposed to in media, in conversations with their peers, in their educations, etc.

    I’m definitely not perfect at these 10 things, and there are days I still struggle with getting angry or not being gently when I should. None of us are perfect, but we can learn from our mistakes and grow from them. We definitely don’t have it all figured out as parents, but we are learning. Each new child we receive from God is an opportunity for us to learn something new that He has for us. We are blessed, and we are thankful for these lessons learned and for these special blessings we call children. We are thankful for God’s grace for us and the direction He gives us daily. We celebrate these things as often as we can! I hope this has influenced you in some way. I’d love to hear from you if it has or if there’s something you’ve learned from parenting a strong-willed child. 

    My Monthly Goals

    After reviewing my yearly goals, here is an update for September and a preview of the things I will be working on for the month of October…

    I like to share my Monthly Goals with you here because it holds me accountable for one, and also I just hope that it can inspire you in some way to create goals of your own and find something that you can be working on. I believe that to be purposeful and intentional, we have to sometimes make an effort to do so. I like to make a plan of how I will accomplish certain goals, and I’ve found it to be really helpful for me. Your plans may not be as detailed as mine, and that’s perfectly okay. I’ve been doing this for quite some time now. Just start somewhere with something, and make a plan to be more purposeful. You’ll be glad you did!

    Spiritual Goals:

    Continue reading the One Year Bible & praying strategically

    Mothering/Family Goals:

    • Football season with Lawson.
    • Bi-weekly trips to the Library with my kids
    • Linkin has a special goal he is working towards for a prize, but I won’t share it here. (He’s almost finished!)

    The boys also asked how they could earn some extra money so that they can buy things they want when we go shopping, so I considered this. We don’t give a regular allowance for chores that are expected of all of our family members, so this would have to be something extra. I did come up with a few extra things that I would pay them to do. Lawson took me up on this twice, but since then nothing. I’ve offered it to Linkin too, but he really would rather not do extra work, so there ya go. 😉

    Homeschooling Goals:

    This month I started grading some of Lawson’s work to help me to better track his progress and to also make sure that things like handwriting and spelling actually get done correctly. I don’t know the correct way to teach this, other than to have him “fix” the mistakes so he doesn’t continue to make the same ones over and over. I introduced the “You Can Read Sight Words” curriculum to Linkin to test out. It’s a more hands-on approach, so I think we may either switch over completely or at least add in some of these activities each week. Layten is continuing with her Tot School Printables. For more on our Homeschooling… you can visit our Homeschool Page. 

    My Personal Goals:

    Blogging –


    I’ve got several small goals that I’m working on currently with this blog, and it’s all just kind of a big learning process for me. I actually merged my blog to a whole new hosting site this month, and you may have noticed my new newsletter feature. I’m trying to work at it at least a little each day and hopefully, I’ll get even better at consistency and gain some momentum. It’s all part of the bigger goal and vision that I have, but I’m just working through one thing at a time. Thank you for your patience with me and support!

    Home Organization –

    (Kids’ Clothes)

    I went through all of the kids’ clothes storage this past month to see what we have/what we needed for the upcoming Fall/Winter season. Turns out, we have plenty for them from all of the hand-me-downs we’ve been given, and it wasn’t necessary for me to take a shopping trip to the kids’ consignment sale this year.

    (Desk Solution)

    I didn’t purchase a new desk, but I did reorganize all of my office, home school, and planning supplies into bins on a 4-cubby shelf that I moved into the dining room. I purchased two chalkboards that we can use for school or our memory work. I can use the dining table as my “work surface”, and I just have to put everything away when I’m done. It’s working well for now, because everything has a place.

    (Baby Items)

    This month I will be going through all of the baby boxes we have. Since we don’t know the gender of our baby coming in December, I will get all of our newborn things for both genders together to see what we have and what we still need. We’ve got 10 weeks left, but I’m working on this mostly during our home school break week.

    Marriage Goals:

    • Weekly Budget Meetings as a Couple to keep us on Track with our Goals (Sometimes these happen through text messaging, but we try to stay on track and keep each other updated.)
    • Weekly Quality Time Together at home (This one has been hard to come by because our kids are so needy and demanding *insert chuckle*. We have movies we’ve started but not finished. We’ve got to get better at this one.)
    • At Least One Date Night This Month – We had an at-home date night this past month with take-out sushi, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and a movie.

    Health & Fitness Goals:

    Health, Smealth! I’m kidding, but this has been a FULL month so it has not been something I’ve been able to prioritize as much. I had several deadlines and things that needed to be completed so I didn’t prioritize making it to the gym to workout as much. I still made it about once-twice/week but it’s definitely not where I was used to.

    Financial Goals:

    • Continue in the grocery store & drugstore game for saving money with our food, toiletries, & household purchases.
    • I know I’ve mentioned sinking funds here before. We have tried for two months and four pay periods to make them work for us, but so far, we haven’t had much success in that area. I’ve had to cut some lines from our budget, and of course the sinking funds/planning ahead were the first to go, unfortunately. Maybe one day we will get it. It doesn’t mean we aren’t trying.
    • Prepare for Christmas. (Baby coming in December – I’ve gotta get on it!) I purchased a few gifts this past month, including one for our children, collectively, and I’ve been working on solidifying their Christmas lists with the things they tell me. I’d like to purchase or make a few more gifts this month.

    What goals will you be working on this month?

    If you’re just starting out, you can read my series on My Purposeful Planning. Choose one goal to start working on, learn how to reach that one goal, and I think doing this will only lead you to want to achieve more.

    Whatever you do, let’s go make a plan to be more purposeful! 

    Introducing… Commonplace Corner

    One thing that I love to do is to look at houses… I love seeing layouts of homes, looking at home pictures as people post their houses for sale online, real estate sites, design, decor, from the outside in… It’s just such a fun thing for me!

    Recently we were invited to the home of some friends of ours, whose home we’d never been to before. I loved the set up they had outside with such a great entertaining space, but of course I was curious what the rest of the house looked like as well. I think I may have asked a question of what a space was used for or something and maybe she could tell how interested and curious I was, so she asked if I’d like to see the house. Well, of course, that was a “yes”, so she gave me a quick tour. I just love to see how different families create a sense of “home” with the spaces that they have. I love that this family, in particular, regularly opens up their home to guests and create such an inviting atmosphere of fellowship and generosity with friends, family, and pretty much anyone they meet. It’s beautiful.

    Sometimes I get the idea that things like decorating and design aren’t really necessities in life, even though they are things that I really enjoy and feel a great love for. Some of my favorite Instagram accounts to follow are decorating and design accounts. No, I don’t have the budget to purchase new things for my home on a regular basis or to do many of the ideas that I see on those accounts, but I still just love to see them – how they are creating such warm, inviting homes… places of comfort for their families. I just love it! And it does give me ideas! I think I have a list of ideas always running in my head of things I’d like to do in my home to make it a little more functional, a little prettier, or a little more cozy.

    I want it to be a space that functions well for us as we play, home school. prepare and eat meals, and even have guests over from time to time. Sure, I’d love to have a free budget and space to decorate however I want to, to make the space truly display my favorite design styles. But for now, it’s using what we have – our very limited budget, to create the atmosphere of home that will benefit us now. Most of the ideas I have are quite simple – to repaint this piece of furniture, hang something on that wall, or organize this closet to function for a us a little better. Sometimes it’s just a matter of thinking about our things a little bit differently, and I can use the things we already have in a new way to bring life to an area. I just love doing that, even though it seems that my project list sometimes never ends.

    So the more I think about this, the more I’m convinced that these are definitely not bad things… and perhaps, they ARE very important. You see, I am a homemaker. And you, you who are reading this – if you have a home, you can be a homemaker too. No matter what your current “work” or “vocation” is, you too, can create an atmosphere of “home” for your family and guests to come back to each day and relax, and to be restored.

    “Home is a place where we can serve, love, and encourage within the safe walls that contain the secrets, fears, dreams, life work, and love that knit the hearts of our family together.” -Sally Clarkson

    Have you ever heard of a Commonplace Book? It’s a book that often accompanies one that you are reading, where you write down the thoughts that strike you or speak to you. I’ve done this before, actually, but I didn’t know that there was a name for this type of thing, and mine has never been organized into one particular book- but rather a scrap piece of paper or sheet from my planner. However, I love the idea, and sometimes as I’m reading – something inspires me and I want to ponder the topic even further. It’s actually how this very blog post came about. I was inspired in my thinking and to write to you. My inspiration today is from the book, “The Life-Giving Home” by Sally and Sarah Clarkson. So I want to insert a few quotes or paraphrased quotes from this book to hopefully inspire you too in this idea, as I introduce to you one of the newest features on My Purposeful Planning…

     

     

    Jesus gives us a great example and model for serving our families when we think about that last meal that he prepared for his disciples before his death. Just think about how he probably hired the best chef in town to prepare that feast of succulent roasted lamb and the best wine. Even though he must’ve been so weary just thinking about what he was about to endure, he served graciously. He intentionally took things even a step further as he knelt down to wash each of their feet. He spoke to them his most life-giving words as he taught them the greatest principles he wanted them to know before he left them…

    Always His heart and words were focused on His beloved band of friends. Always He was thinking of how to prepare them, to strengthen them. Not even in His death did He focus on His own needs.

    Home is one of the places of refuge that many in our world have not valued or known in a personal way. There is no prepared place where they can come expecting to find solace, welcome, comfort, acceptance, truth, and ease. But I am determined that those I love will have such a place. And so, following Jesus’ model of service and hospitality, I choose to prepare for and serve those who share my home and those who enter my doors.

    It is the giving rhythms of home that provide the right atmosphere for passing on the essential heart attitudes and warm relationships in life. I reach hearts by cooking meals, by washing sheets and fluffing pillows, by reading a favorite book one more time even though I have it memorized. I do it when I clean and decorate a space to make it beautiful and comfortable and inviting. I do it when I choose to respond graciously to a question. Both literally and metaphorically, in my home I have the privilege of washing feet every day.

    Service begins with serving those who are closest to us, making home the very best place to be.

    I hope you have been inspired by these words from Sally, just as I have, and I hope you enjoy my blog’s newest feature. We can be homemakers and we can serve our families well. We can start today. 

    Let’s make a plan to be more purposeful.  

    Our Family I.D.

    This Summer, Justin and I led a small group at our church called Family I.D., and it was phenomenal! I’ve been wanting to share with you the things that God gave us for our family through doing this small group…. Our Core Values, Our Vision Statement, our Mission Statement, and our Family Slogan.

    We weren’t sure how this small group would go. There were a lot of hands-on activities that required each family represented to do some “homework”. We didn’t know if it was something they would grasp ahold of and actually take the time to do or not. To be honest, we weren’t super excited to do the work ourselves. But as the weeks went on, the process became clearer and clearer, and God spoke to each of the families represented in our small group and gave each one a clear Family I.D.

    We started by selecting our Family Core Values. You’ve heard my mention these on my blog. The worksheet printable I created for you here at My Purposeful Planning is very similar to the one we used for this small group. We compared our lists with that of our spouse and discussed the similarities and differences in our lists. We took it home and also talked to our children about our lists. We narrowed our lists down to which Core Values we would like to best represent our family.

    In no certain order, here are the Core Values our family chose…
    Family & Relationships
    Humor
    Knowing God / Prayer / Worship
    Personal Growth / Growth
    Teamwork / Unity

    At first I thought that “humor” seemed like a silly thing to be included in our core values, but the more I thought about it, the more I loved that it was one that we chose. We want to laugh and be silly with our kids always, and we want to laugh and enjoy having fun with friends, family, and guests when they come to visit our home as well. Laughter and humor are good things. I think the rest of the values we chose are probably self-explanatory.

    We added verbs to help solidify these for our family…
    Celebrate Family & Relationships.
    Embrace Humor.
    Prioritize Knowing God, Prayer, & Worship.
    Pursue Personal Growth.
    Praise Teamwork & Unity.

    Next, we worked to write our Family Vision Statement. 
    “Having a well-defined vision statement will help ensure that no matter what life brings, no matter where we find ourselves, we can still get our bearings and stay on course.” – Greg Gunn

    “Your family vision statement describes where you are going in words that greatly motivate you to take action.”

    “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” Habakkuk 2:2 ESV

    Our Family Vision Statement is… 
    “To collectively know who we are in Christ and use each of our unique giftings to fulfill God’s Purpose”

    After coming up with our vision statement and knowing the direction we wanted our family to go, we came up with a Family Mission Statement that would help us get there… “We will build solid family relationships that are grounded in God, Growth, and Grace.”

    And finally, we came up with a simple slogan that our entire family can easily remember to sum up all of these things… Our Family Slogan is “We’re Grounded!” I’m thinking it’s going to be fun to have shirts made for our kids to wear that tell the world they are grounded… (Pun intended). Of course the Mission Statement will probably be there somewhere on the shirt to, and hopefully we’ll all be able to explain what it means to us, in case people ask.

    It’s so important that we aren’t “just winging it” as parents. It’s too important of a responsibility that we’ve been given. Having a vision for WHERE we want our family to end up and then coming up with a mission for HOW we will get there is vital. Think about what you want your kids to be like as adults. How can you start encouraging these things in your children now?

    We personally love that this small group and these things have given us the verbage and language we needed to talk to our kids about the things God gave us for our family. It’s given us specific things that we can pray over each member of our family daily, which is really strategic in helping us move forward with the direction God wants our family to go.

    If you’d like more information about this particular small group curriculum, here’s a link to the videos we watched in each group session as well as the website with more family resources available.

    Have you done something like this for your family? Really pray about this, and take the time to do this with your spouse or partner in parenting. I’d love to know what you come up with!

    Whatever you do, Let’s Make a Plan to Be More Purposeful!