Most Recent Posts

Our Gender-Neutral “Nursery” Set-Up

*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. 

Today I’m sharing with you our “Nursery” Set-Up for Baby #4.

When we found out we were expecting again, I got the opportunity to “problem solve” and figure out how everything could work for our family, using what we already have. As an INTJ personality type, problem solving is really one of my favorite things. I excitedly accepted the challenge!

We live in a 3-bedroom home, and at the time of finding out we were pregnant again – our two boys shared a room with bunk beds, and our daughter had the other room as her “nursery” still. I didn’t really love the idea at first, but I made the decision to move her into the room with the boys. We moved her mini-crib into the boys’ room and moved ALL the toys and books and things into the other room to use as a “play room”. I wasn’t really sure exactly what I wanted to do yet, but it soon became very clear. As soon as Layten’s crib was moved into the boys’ room, she learned how to climb in and out of it – making it pretty pointless to have in there as an additional piece of furniture that we would later need for Baby #4 anyway. We actually took apart the bunk beds (originally a full on bottom, twin on top), and put them on either side of the room with a dresser in between. The boys could share the full size bed, and Layten could sleep on the twin size. The twin size that was originally the top bunk has made the PERFECT toddler bed because it already had those rails built in so she couldn’t roll off the bed. So that was easy!

The next step was figuring out where our new baby would sleep and where I would nurse and change diapers during the night, as to not wake up the entire family. That was actually the whole reason for moving Layten to the boys’ room and not forcing her to share a room with a newborn that would wake up and cry during the night. I decided to leave the comfy rocker in the “play room”, set up a changing station there, and put the crib and baby’s clothes in our master bedroom. This way, baby could nap in the crib during the day, and the older kids would still be able to use their playroom as well.

So here is our Gender-Neutral “Nursery” set up that we have in our master bedroom.


It’s a mini crib that was purchased by a family member when we were expecting Layten. I LOVE the size of it! It’s absolutely perfect! We had custom bedding made for it with Layten, but since we don’t know the gender of this baby – I’ve kept it simple this time. Simple white crib sheets… these are actually the same size sheets that fit inside play-yards or pack-n-plays. This blanket was handmade for us by a sweet friend, and I’ve used it with all my children. The cart is actually from Michael’s, and it’s an Everyday Value product for $30, but it’s also very similar to the IKEA RASKOG cart.


I love how the three tiers of this cart offer easy organization! Right now we have a shelf for girl things, a shelf for boy things, and a shelf for other baby essentials like burp cloths, bibs, blankets, and extra fitted sheets. Of course when this baby is born and we find out the gender, we will gain another shelf back – which we can use for more blankets, clothes, our sleep sack, and our Baby K’Tan newborn carrier. Currently, these things are all washed and ready to go in an extra laundry basket in our closet.

I decided to leave this comfy rocker in our “play room” so that I can use that room for night feedings and not disturb the other family members in the house. I definitely recommend getting a really comfortable rocking chair because you will be using it A LOT, especially in the beginning with a newborn. This one was a lucky find by my parents when I was pregnant with Layten for $20. No, I did not leave off a zero there. I’m so glad they found it and got it for me! It’s been perfect, and it’s also so great for snuggling up and reading books together. Layten often climbs up in this chair to look at books by herself as well – it’s her favorite reading spot!

I’m going to be adding a lamp or soft night light to this area soon, as well as a basket or tray of nursing supplies (and snacks!) to have on hand for those nursing sessions. I’m on the lookout for the perfect light. I don’t want it to be too bright so that baby will easily confuse night and day. (That battle is hard enough already – am I right?) I just need enough light to be able to see what I’m doing and be able to change a diaper during the night if I need to without turning the main bright lights on. We’ll get all that figured out though.

This is our changing table set-up. It’s very simple… just a changing pad we already had with a new gender-neutral cover and this caddy from Thirty-One stocked with a pack of diapers, wipes, diaper creams, and lotions that we already had on hand. Simple simple. The credenza is a piece I’ve had since I was in high school, and it’s so function. It stores some of the larger toys like the big Paw Patroller on one side so that it’s accessible, but hidden. The other side has “some” of the diapers and wipes so they are easy to grab. Our closet is also stocked with diapers and wipes…. we have been so blessed with those for this baby!

And that’s it! Our “nursery” (if you want to call it that) set-up is pretty simple and minimalistic, I think. I wouldn’t have it any other way… less to organize, less to clean, and less to take up my time with. It’s so funny how you let go of so many things… the more children you have. I have done this in so many ways this time around… Minimalism is the way to go!

40 Week Bumpdate

 

Current Pregnancy Stats…

How far along: 40 Weeks, 1 Day

Countdown: Well the countdown has counted down… I guess, technically, I still have a maximum of 13 days before I reach 42 weeks and I’m strongly encouraged to be induced for safety reasons. I’m pretty sure, baby will decide to come on his or her own this week though. 41 weeks has been the optimal time for delivering my last two babies.

Size of Baby: Soccer Ball, Watermelon, Pumpkin…. etc.

My Body Changes: I had a cervical check at my most recent appointment. My cervix was dilated already to 2cm, but easily stretched to 4cm. I did let my doctor go ahead and strip my membranes as well so since then I’ve had some show, cramping, contractions, and pelvic pressure. Of course, all of these are still random and seem to come and go so we’re just waiting it out to see.

Must Have Items: Tums is still a necessity for me… sometimes I feel like the heartburn or indigestion are just attacking me, even when I’m sitting up straight.

Sleep: I’m really trying to get as much rest and sleep as I can right now, but I’m so anxious that it’s really not an easy task. I’m thinking about baby and labor and delivery and pregnancy symptoms 24/7 now… just waiting on go time.

Cravings: At this point, I would say I’m craving hospital food… just because I’m so ready to be there and have this baby. Really, I’m past the cravings. Food isn’t that exciting to me right now. I’m just trying not to make too big of a mess in the kitchen so we have been eating out more this past week. I’ve got some easy meals prepped and ready to go for this next week as well.

Baby Movement: It seems like baby is moving a little bit less the past couple of days just because I feel like he or she is getting engaged and in position. I do feel movements enough during the day not to worry though. All is good.

Gender: Since this is baby #4 for us and we already have both genders and clothes for both, we opted to not find out the gender of this baby until it’s born. Yes, I’m tired of saying “it” or “the baby”, but we’ll be able to call it by name soon enough. 😉 We really don’t have a preference for either one this time, and we just think it will be fun to be surprised!

Trust me- I’m just as anxious as you are to know!

Names: We do have a name picked out for both genders, which we are keeping a secret until after baby is born. Both names do start with letter “L” though, of course, and they are unique in that we don’t know anyone personally who has these names, but we didn’t just make up names either. We can’t wait to call our baby by name and share this with you!

Challenges this Week: Hurry up and wait. It’s funny how you spend so much time planning and preparing for a baby to come… getting all the things done. And then – you just have to wait until they are ready. I really have tried as best I could to mentally and emotionally prepare myself for going past my due date again (but let’s be honest- no mama REALLY wants to stay pregnant any longer than she has to). The biggest challenge is overcoming all of that growing impatience and anxiousness.

Nursery Progress: We are not doing a nursery for this baby, but here’s how we’ve decided to work this out. All three of our children share one bedroom. Our two boys share a full-size bed, and our daughter has her own twin size bed. Our second bedroom is used as a playroom… but this is where we’ll keep the baby’s things mostly. We’re going to set up a changing station in that room for the baby, the baby’s clothes will be stored in that closet, and there’s a comfy rocking chair in there for night nursing sessions so that we don’t wake the others in the house. The mini crib is in our master bedroom currently.

And that’s it. So now… we wait!

What’s In Our Hospital Bags

The time has come to have our hospital bags packed and ready to go “just in case”…

I thought I’d share what I have packed for us in case it might be helpful to you in some way. I will say, there might be some TMI things shared in this post that are female and birth related, so if you are male… you might want to go ahead and excuse yourself from reading any further on this one. Just an FYI.

Here is baby’s bag all packed and ready to go!

*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. 


This diaper bag was purchased from Amazon when we had Layten, and it was fabulous so I’m using it again with this baby too! I’m super-picky about organization when it comes to diaper bags. I like pockets and compartments and “everything in it’s place”. This one has like 7 pieces to it, and it’s a very affordable price too!

Here are a couple of those inserts. It also has a changing pad, a bottle holder that attaches, and another smaller bag that I’m currently using in my purse. It has stroller attachment straps as well.


Here are the outfits we’ve packed. Remember, we still don’t know the gender of our baby so we have packed for both. As soon as baby is born, I can send home the un-needed sets with grandparents to make some extra room in our bag. I’m not a minimalist packer for sure. I never have been, and I’m not sure that I ever will be. I just remember that when I had Layten, I’m not sure why, but I actually requested that grandparents bring us more outfits from home because I didn’t pack enough. So I’m hoping we’ll have enough this time around.

I purchased a super sweet outfit that I’d been eyeing on LouLou and Company. It is the softest material I’ve ever seen, yall! It’s a gender-neutral gown that knots at the bottom. I purchased the hat in case this baby is a boy, and I grabbed a coordinating bow from our collection in case this baby is a girl.

I’ve also got another gender-neutral outfit that my mom purchased, and I went ahead and matched bows and socks with it as well.

I included a few other sets of outfits for each gender, and I went ahead and matched the socks, hats, and other accessories that go with each one. Matchy matchy sets like this are my fave for newborns!


Isn’t this the sweetest little outfit ever?! I can’t wait to put it on our sweet baby! If you can’t tell from the picture, it’s cream colored with maroon stripes.

Here are a few blankets I’ve packed for baby. Two are gender-neutral options, and the others match some of the outfit sets from above.

And finally, in baby’s bag – here are few of the other essentials I’ve packed. The mesh bag is for baby’s laundry as they are soiled or worn to take home to wash. There are washable nursing pads and Lanolin balm for nursing. I can’t even remember if I needed either of these in the hospital before, but I packed them just in case. I included our bottle of Honest Company Soothing Bottom Wash to use for those first “really sticky” diaper changes of Meconium bowels. This little spray is great for any of those “sticky” diapers as they get older, but I thought it would probably work just as well for this too. You, mamas, know what I’m talking about.

I purchased a Pat Pat and Cutie Clip from Ryan and Rose for this baby, and I just think they’re super sweet. I don’t know if we’ll even use them in the hospital or not, but I’ll have them just in case. (And yes, I will be washing and sanitizing them first.)

And now – here’s Mama’s hospital bag(s)…

These bags are from Thirty One Gifts. They are a few years old, so I’m not sure if they are still available. There are lots of great bags on their site for organizing so I’m sure you’ll find something there you love if you are in the market for new bags.


Here’s what I have packed for myself…

  • 4 Pajama Sets including one nursing gown with robe, and one that is a nursing tank
    Like I mentioned earlier, I do not ever pack “minimally”. I just remember when Layten was born needing “extra” pajama pants due to some postpartum things so I’m packing more this time.
    How cute is that “Snuggle” Pajama top?! It’s from Walmart, but it’s unavailable online right now.
  • Robe for modesty when guests visit
  • My own Hairdryer
  • Flip Flops for the Shower and Walking around
  • Slippers
  • Socks
  • Nursing Bras
  • Several Pairs of Maternity Underwear
  • Comfy, Maternity “Going Home” Outfit
  • Toiletry Bag (Flat Iron, Hairbrush & Rubber Bands, Toothbrush & Toothpaste, Makeup, Skin Care, the works… nothing out of the ordinary)
  • My Purse: Has my planner, money, hair ties, bobby pins, chapstick, my planner, gum, etc.
  • Things that I will make sure we have as we head out the door: (I’ve got a checklist on my phone for these items.) Baby’s car seat, Dad’s bag, Kids’ Bags (depending on time of day and what the plans are), Our Pillows, Our Phone Chargers, Our Toothbrushes, My Shaving Cream from the Tub, Letter Board and Box of Extra Letters, Snacks and Drinks for the Hospital Stay, Laptop, and anything else I might need.Here’s What I DON’T Bring…
  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Baby Toiletries
  • Boppy Pillow or any other Baby Items
  • Breast Pump (not usually needed before my milk comes in anyway; We’re usually home before this occurs.)
  • Sanitary Pads
  • Medicines like Dulco-Ease or Dermoplast Spray (I never needed these with my natural births – only for my first birth where I had some tearing. I only hope that the hospital provides a peri-bottle, because that’s absolutely necessary… but I’m sure the others are available upon request as well if they are needed.
  • I just use what the hospital provides for all of these things while we’re there, and it saves room in our bags.

And that’s pretty much it! Is there something you think I might need but is missing from my list? Be sure to let me know!

My Top Three Favorite Black Friday Deals

Ready to see my favorite Black Friday Deals?! The best part about these deals is that you can get them from your couch, using your phone, and in your pajamas! No crowd-fighting for these online deals!

1. LovEveryBaby Play Gym or Baby Subscription Boxes 

$10 off Play Mat or Subscription Boxes Just for Using my Link
-Plus-
$20 off $100+ Purchases using code BLACKFRIDAY20

This means you can get a great deal on the Baby Play Gym, Prepay for a Subscription, or Gift 2 or more Play Kits! This is a great gift idea for any baby on your Christmas shopping list. We just ordered this play gym a while back for our baby that we are expecting soon. I love a good baby play gym, and this one exceeded my expectations! I had already read all up on it and fell in love with it before I ordered it, but when it came in – it was even better that I thought! It’s definitely one of my top-recommended baby products now!

2. Amazon Books: $5/20 Any Book Purchase 

This is one of my favorite promotions that Amazon does, and I take advantage of it pretty much every time it comes around! We use it for Home school books on our list or just books I have saved in my Amazon cart (which is always).

Use Code NOVBOOK18

Here are some of the books I have in my Amazon Cart right now… I wonder which one’s I’ll choose to order this time. 😉

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

The Better Mom Devotional: Shaping our Hearts as We Shape Our Homes by Ruth Schwenk

Missional Motherhood: The Everyday Ministrry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God by Gloria Furman

So Many Littles, So Little Time: A Worn our Mom’s Guide to Mothering Little Ones by Amy Roberts

Large Family Logistics: The Art and Science of Managing a Large Family by Kim Brenneman

From Grouchy to Great: Finding Joy in the Journey of Motherhood by Ruth Schwenk

Together: Growing Appetities for God by Carrie Ward

Grace-Based Discipline: How to Be at Your Best When Your Kids Are at their Worst by Karis Kimmel Murray

3. Crystal Paine’s Courses

I’ve been following Crystal’s blog for YEARS! We actually have the same personality type so all of her stuff really resonates with me. I also know that all of her courses are amazing, because I’ve taken some of them myself. She’s very personable and helpful. I emailed her after signing up for one of her courses and ask her a question on how to practically apply something, and she emailed me back with some really helpful advice! She’s the real deal!

With the code BF2018, you can get any of her courses for 50% off! 

Happy Shopping!

36-Week Bumpdate & Baby-Prep Checklist

*This post does contain affiliate links. What this means is that if you click any of the links and make a purchase, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. I just linked to similar products of those that we currently own and love in case you might be interested in them too.  

Current Pregnancy Stats…

How far along: 36 Weeks, 2 Days

Countdown: 5 days until we’re considered “Full Term” / 27 days until due date / 41 days max until the 42 week deadline
(I usually carry my babies later than my due date so I’m mentally preparing for that.)

Size of Baby: Last Ultrasound Baby Measured over 5lbs! Baby is the size of a Honeydew Melon this week.

My Body Changes: I was told at church yesterday that it looks like baby has “dropped”. Of course, I’ve never been able to notice this feeling myself in any of my pregnancies. I know that in my pregnancy with Linkin and Layten, I carried them both so low the entire time that there was literally no where for them to drop down to. I haven’t felt that way with this pregnancy, but I also don’t feel any recent differences either so I don’t know.

I’ve also had noticeable Braxton Hicks contractions this week, which I’ll have to admit just excites me very much.

Must Have Items: I’ve now reached the point of my pregnancy where I have “Purse Tums” and “Night Stand Tums”.

Sleep: With the exception of the heartburn, I am actually sleeping pretty great lately. I think I’ve mastered the pillow situation, and some nights I can even sleep all the way through without having to get up to use the bathroom!

Cravings: I’ve been really into hearty soups lately, and I’ve also really enjoyed mashed potatoes this pregnancy. This is definitely a Barrett baby, because that’s what Justin’s mom craved during her pregnancy with him.

Baby Movement: Baby’s movements are getting bigger and stronger now, and my whole belly moves sometimes. Baby also gets hiccups at least once a day now.

Gender: Since this is baby #4 for us and we already have both genders and clothes for both, we opted to not find out the gender of this baby until it’s born. Yes, I’m tired of saying “it” or “the baby”, but we’ll be able to call it by name soon enough. 😉 We really don’t have a preference for either one this time, and we just think it will be fun to be surprised!

Names: We do have a name picked out for both genders, which we are keeping a secret until after baby is born. Both names do start with letter “L” though, of course, and they are unique in that we don’t know anyone personally who has these names, but we didn’t just make up names either. We can’t wait to call our baby by name and share this with you!

Challenges this Week: This week I stepped on a Paw Patrol pup, and something happened. I felt a shift, and it felt like something broke or got misplaced internally. I literally felt sore and uncomfortable for the rest of the day any time I walked, lifted my leg to get dressed, or got up or down. I messaged my chiropractor before I went to bed, and she gave me an exercise to try. I felt a pop, and I was able to have a good night’s sleep. I woke up feeling MUCH better. Pregnancy is weird sometimes. I’ll be sure to have my kids pick up their toys a little better. 😉

Best Moment of the Week: I love how excited our older kids are about this baby. Lawson (age 6) is one who’s always hugging my belly and saying hi or bye the baby when he leaves. He also often prays for the baby at bedtime. Linkin (age 4) prays for the baby as well sometimes as well as for my tummy and back to feel good. Layten (age 2), although we don’t really know if she understands what’s about to happen, she sure talks like she does. The best moment was this week when she wanted to talk to the baby. She talked to my belly and said, “Hey, baby. I Dayten! I’m the baby girl! Bye, baby.” It’s almost like she was claiming her girl territory just in case this baby is also a girl. It was pretty funny.

Nursery Progress: We are not doing a nursery for this baby, but here’s how we’ve decided to work this out. All three of our children share one bedroom. Our two boys share a full-size bed, and our daughter has her own twin size bed. Our second bedroom is used as a playroom… but this is where we’ll keep the baby’s things mostly. We’re going to set up a changing station in that room for the baby, the baby’s clothes will be stored in that closet, and there’s a comfy rocking chair in there for night nursing sessions so that we don’t wake the others in the house. The mini crib is in our master bedroom currently.

Things I Miss: I miss working out. There have been days where I just have the urge to go in and lift some weights, but I also know all of the aches and pains I’ve felt recently due to the Relaxin hormone and just things shifting and changing and how just the simplest things have hurt me… so I’m playing it safe right now.

Fears: I’ll have to admit that I’m a little afraid about how big this baby will be. Baby measured over five pounds at my last ultrasound, and I calculated that if baby grows half a pound a week for the remaining six weeks, that it will be over eight pounds. I know that eight pounds isn’t really THAT large, but Layten was over eight pounds when she was born, and I just know the difference of how much more difficult her delivery was from delivering Linkin who was only seven pounds. I also know that I usually carry my babies later than my due date, so I’m a little worried about this one being too big for me to deliver naturally. I’m trying to just think positive and not worry too much about it, but it’s just something I keep thinking about.

Eats: I’m hungry all the time now, and I’m open to anyone cooking for me or taking me out to eat in this final month. ;-D

Baby-Prep Checklist

By now, if you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that I’m a planner and a goal-getter. I’m especially good at this when I have a clearly defined deadline in sight, and a baby’s due date is the perfect opportunity to get on the ball and get some things done!

I planned our Homeschool terms to accomodate our baby’s due date. We started our school year in July so we could take a good, long break in December when our new baby comes. I also finished our Christmas shopping super early so I wouldn’t have to worry with all of that while I’m home with a newborn. It’s great to have a good deadline to work towards.

Because I’m a little nerdy, and not ashamed to admit it, I researched on Pinterest what items a baby needs just for the sake of list-making. For the most part, I already know what we need and like to have for a baby, and what’s not really necessary. This comes from having three children already, BUT I’ve also done lots of minimalizing and purging since having our last baby, and I wanted to make sure we had enough of everything for this baby. I’m determined to think minimally when it comes to this baby, because I know I have a big hoarding tendency – especially when it comes to all these sweet baby things!

Since we don’t know the gender of this baby, it’s hard to know exactly what we need, but here’s what I did…

I took all of our baby clothes that we had in storage and separated them by size and gender.
I took out all of the Newborn size for both genders and washed them up in that good-smelling baby detergent. In the past, I would’ve washed and organized ALL the clothes that I could possibly fit in baby’s dresser and several month’s worth, but since we don’t know the gender yet – I only did this with the Newborn clothes this time to keep things to a minimum.
I labelled the other storage boxes properly, and I do have easy access to the 0-3 month clothes in both genders so that I can easily wash those after we get home with baby and as we start to need them.

So here’s the list I found and adapted of what’s needed for baby…

  • Infant Carseat (We were given one, though I’m keeping my eye out for one that’s more gender-neutral.)
  • Crib (We still have our mini-crib and sheets from our last baby.)
  • Dresser/Changing Table (Check.)
  • Special Gender-Neutral Coming Home Outfit (I ordered one I’ve been eyeing for a while. It’s so soft and sweet.)
  • 10 Bodysuits (We have 11 for girl & 10 for boy.)
  • 4-6 Outfit Sets (We have 3 for girl & 2 for boy.)
  • 5 Bottoms (We have 5 for girl & 6 for boy.)
  • 7 Sleepers (We have 7 for girl & 4 for boy.)
  • 2 Swaddler Blankets (We have 3 for girl, 1 for boy, & 3 gender-neutral.)
  • 2 Sleep Sacks (We have 1 gender-neutral.)
  • 10 Wash Cloths (I don’t know why you’d ever need 10 wash cloths, but we have plenty for both genders.)
  • 3 Hooded Towels (We have hooded towels for girl, but I need to get some for boy or gender-neutral.)
  • 8 Bibs (We have 2 for girl & 1 for boy. (Gender-neutral bibs are in my Amazon cart.)
  • 8 Burp Cloths (We have 3 for girl. Gender-neutral burp cloths are in my Amazon cart.)
  • 2 Hats (We have 5 for girl & 7 for boy. I love little hats on a newborn.)
  • 6 Sock Pairs (We have 8 girl & 10 for boy.)
  • Newborn Diapers – 1 Box or 148 total (We have 64.)
  • Size 1 Diapers – 3 Boxes or 648 total (We have 478.)
  • Size 2 Diapers – 3 Boxes or 558 total (We have 651.)
  • Size 3 Diapers – 4 Boxes or 900 total (We have 244.)
  • Wipes (We have lots of diapers and wipes from our surprise shower…What a huge blessing!)
  • Diaper Rash Cream (My favorite is in my Amazon cart.)
  • Baby Shampoo (We have a few bottles already that were given to us.)
  • 1 Diaper Bag (We’ll be using the same one I used with Layten because I loved it’s organization.)
  • 1 Boppy Pillow (Check. We also have a few different boy and girl covers that are washed and ready to go.)
  • 1 Rock n Play (I’m on the lookout for one of these, but I know it’s also not completely necessary since we have a crib.)
  • 2-3 Pacis (I will be purchasing a few Pat Pats and Cutie Clips from Ryan and Rose.)
  • Hamper or Basket for Baby Laundry (I’m on the lookout, but I could easily just use a basket we already have too.)
  • Baby Play Gym (I ordered this one, and I’m so excited about it.)
  • Swing or Bouncer (We don’t have either of these, but I’m still trying to decide if we really even need them or not.)
  • Stroller (I have a double-umbrella stroller that will work when they get older. I prefer a baby carrier when they are small.)
  • Baby Carrier (I have a Baby K’Tan for the newborn stage and a Tula for as they get a little bigger.)
  • Breast Pump & Accessories (I debated ordering a new pump all together, but I think I’m just going to order a new accessory kit to go with my current one.)
  • 4-6 Bottles (We have way more than this. It really shows me how much a hoarder I’ve been in the past. I think I will use them mostly for freezing milk though since I have so many instead of purchasing the milk storage bags.)
  • Bottle Brush (It’s on my list.)
  • Nursing Pads (I have some washable ones.)
  • Nursing Bras (I do have some, but I will be purchasing more.)
  • Pajamas for Mom at Hospital (I have a nice nursing gown and robe, but I will probably buy a pants set too.)
  • Robe for Mom at Hospital (I want to get a nice robe that will match with everything.)
  • Slippers for Mom at Hospital (It’s on my list.)
  • Toiletries for Mom & Dad to Pack & Keep in Hospital Bag (It’s on the list.)
  • Is there anything missing from my list that you think we’ll need? Let me know in the comments of this post!

And here’s what’s on my personal Baby-Prep Task List…

  • Purchase any of the priority things we still need from my list above
  • Print my birth plan
  • Register at the hospital
  • Prep some Freezer meals (dinners, easy grab-n-go breakfasts for the kids, & lactation cookie dough)
  • Sterilize Pacis, Bottles, & Breast pump parts
  • Select & confirm new pediatrician
  • Set up changing station
  • Pack Mom, Dad, and Baby’s hospital bag.
  • Install car seat. (This would be a great time to also clean out my car really good. It’s a “mom car”.)
  • Plan for a housekeeper to come and do a good deep cleaning
  • Plan a final date night (kid-free)

Anytime I’m working on a big project or getting ready for something big… I like to start with the big picture and work my way down to all those tiny details. I’m very detail-oriented so I love this type of thing. I love creating a system so that I don’t forget anything that’s really important. It really helps me to make sure that I have enough time to get everything down and money in the budget to afford the things we need as well.
Step One: Research what’s needed, what needs to be done, etc.
Step Two: Adapt the list or research that I find to suit my needs and make my own list(s) from it.
Step Three: Plug these tasks into my planner and add the needed items to my various shopping lists. (Amazon and Wunderlist for things I’d rather buy in-store.)

So that’s what I’ve done. This past week, I did a few things like Order the Baby’s Coming Home Outfit, Raised the Crib Mattress, and purchased a couple nursing bras. I also grabbed a few extra things during my grocery shopping trip that will hopefully keep us stocked for a while after baby comes so we won’t have to rush out to get those at any point… pull-ups for our toddler, paper towels, etc.

Next week I’ll make sure to print my birth plan, purchase the needed toiletries and items for the hospital, pack our hospital bags, and install the infant car seat.

See how that works? Like a charm hopefully! Help me to know if there’s something I might’ve missed… because “Baby Brain” is a real thing. 😉 

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!

My Monthly Goals

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

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 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:

This month I am studying, writing out, and praying God’s promises. I’m not following any specific guide or anything, but I might possible compile them all for a project later on. We’ll see!

Mothering/Family Goals:

  • Football season with Lawson – We ended our regular season undefeated, so we will be advancing to the playoffs this month.
  • Bi-weekly trips to the Library with my kids (They have been choosing to go spend time with Dad at work instead of going with me on my shopping days so this hasn’t happened like we planned.)
  • Linkin has a special goal he is working towards for a prize.. (Linkin met his goal and picked out two small monster trucks as his prize. Go Linkin!)
  • Lawson also completed one of his reading charts and got to pick out a small prize as well this month!
  • This month, I’d like to take the kids to the local children’s museum a few times. We need to use our membership there before life gets crazy with a new baby in the family. There are some Thanksgiving-Themed story times that I think will be great to go to.
  • We’ve also got some Christmas-prep type activities that I’d like to finish up with them this month.

Homeschooling Goals:

I might be reaching a point of home school burnout for this semester, but we’ve been chugging along still. It’s very possible that it’s pregnancy-related, and I’m just tired. I started doing what we’re calling “Math Drills” with Lawson where I give him a worksheet with addition or subtraction facts and time him to see how fast he can answer them. This is to replace our “Flashcard Drills”, and he likes it so much better because it’s a challenge for him to be competitive with himself and his timed scores, even though the problems are always different. I remember doing this in school with multiplication facts, and it was helpful to learn the facts the more I did them. Lawson will also be working on his first Reading Fair project this month.

Linkin is still doing the “You Can Read Sight Words” curriculum, and he loves the hands-on approach. We used one of my erasable, friXion highlighters and read through one of our books to find all of his current sight words in it, and he really enjoyed this activity. We are also still doing the Raising Rockstars Program as well, and his favorite part of this one is singing the song of the week. He loves music!

Layten is continuing with her Tot School Printables. We are currently learning letter “Jj”, and I’m impressed that she’s really learning things… especially the things that we repeat from week to week like colors and shapes. She can name several of them, and she does really well matching things up one-to-one so this has been a great way for her to learn – whether it’s using felt shapes with her shapes page or printing off two copies of her pages for her to match up. She loves to do school!

For more on our Homeschooling… you can visit our Homeschool Page. 

My Personal Goals:

Blogging –

This has been such a fun few months for me with blogging. Although, I haven’t been putting out a ton of posts, I’ve been doing lots of working and writing and learning behind the scenes for some future things. I did do a Vision Quest Email Series this month, so that was exciting for me since it was my very first series to send out solely by email. This month I hope to be sharing with you some Christmas-Themed Posts as well as some Baby-Related Posts as we are in our final month of counting down this pregnancy.

Home Organization –

(Kids’ Clothes)

As you know from my How to Put Together a Kids’ Capsule Wardrobe Post, I went through all the kids’ clothes in September to figure out exactly what we needed for Fall and Winter. Since doing that, I found another box in storage of really nice clothes for Linkin that we had missed, Lawson was given a big bag of hand-me-down clothes and had a grandparent purchase him some nice things as well, and Layten was gifted clothes for her birthday. We are for sure, all-set now! What a blessing!

(Baby Items)

Since we don’t know the gender of our baby coming in December, I used our last Home school Break Week to sort through all of our newborn things for both genders together to see what we have and what we still need. It’s funny that I put those baby things away in storage and then took them out to find that some of them were really stained. I learned that baby stains are different than other stains, as they have enzymes in them that are especially hard to remove. But alas, I did find the perfect solution that got 98% of the baby stains out that I will share with you this month. It was so much fun to sort though all of those little clothes and get excited about another baby that will get to wear them.

This month I need to do a little more baby-prep… Here’s what’s on my list:
  • Decide if we will stick with our current pediatrician or switch to a new one.
  • Get an infant carrier and install it towards the end of the month.
  • Decide if there are any other big baby-items we would like to get besides the crib and car seat.
    (Swing, Bouncer, Play Gym, etc.)
  • Prepare some freezer meals to make the postpartum adjustment period a little easier.
  • Prepare a Lactation Cookie Dough Recipe to freeze for later use.
  • Raise the crib mattress, and make up with bedding.
  • Register at the hospital.
  • Purchase accessories needed for nursing.
  • Check breast pump and sterilize its parts.
  • Print my birth plan, though I doubt I will even need it (especially if this labor is faster than the last one).
  • Set up the diaper changing area.
  • Pack hospital bags.

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.) These will definitely continue. It’s going to be a super-tight month as we finish up Christmas prep, prepare for baby, and do some traveling this month. We will definitely have to prioritize financial things this month.
  • Go out on a date. We haven’t gone out on an actual date since early September so it’s definitely needed this month, especially before baby comes.

Health & Fitness Goals:

This goal has definitely been put on the back-burner for now. I’d hoped to be able to work out throughout my entire pregnancy, but I have given myself lots of grace this past month. It’s mostly a mental thing, and not so much a physical thing. As much as I love CrossFit and don’t mind modifying things, having to modify literally everything is annoying. There are so many things I’m not allowed to do during pregnancy and so many lifts that I’ve had to decrease weight on so that my form wouldn’t suffer too much. So while I physically am just not allowed to do certain things, it was the mental aspect that got me. Don’t worry… as soon as I’m able to ease back into it, I’m so excited to do so. 2019, I’m coming for you!

Financial Goals:

  • Continue in the grocery store & drugstore game for saving money with our food, toiletries, & household purchases. We’ve been stocking up extra on things like toilet paper, cleaning products, and now diapers so that we won’t have to rush out and get those things when the baby comes. Nobody wants to have to venture out with a newborn.
  • Prepare for Christmas. I am proud to say that we are “almost” done! All that we’ll have left to get is what Justin and I will get for each other, if we’re able, and stocking stuffers. Everything else is done, and just needs to be wrapped.

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!

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! 

    We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Powered By ConvertKit

    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!