Thursday, July 30, 2009

We have a lot to live for...

I will never forget this one beautiful morning, when my good friend and I went for a walk to the beach with my 8 week old and her 4 month old.... We were still in our "new mama fog"... trying to recover from sleep deprivation and figuring out breastfeeding, naps, colic, and other newborn-related issues... This peaceful stroll was much needed for our exhausted minds and bodies.

As we were relaxing by the ocean and sipping our warm chai tea lattes... an elderly woman walked by us and took a peek at our sleeping babies. She then looked at us with a kind smile and said, "You have a lot to live for".

To be honest, at first her statement was a bit shocking and intimidating... I felt like saying, "My baby is only 8 weeks and I'm already tired...I can't go on living like this.." But as soon as I got over my whining and complaining, I understood what this sweet lady meant. She knew exactly what we were going through and was trying to encourage us by helping us to see a different perspective. In her one short remark, she intended to say... your children are precious, what you're going through is temporary, you have so much to look forward to, your life will be filled with many fun and joyful memories...

My daughter will be 3 years old this year and I feel like I already know exactly what this lady meant. The first few months of adjusting to being a mom and taking care of a newborn was rough to say the least... but it's such a short period of time and it just gets better and better and better... And I'm sure I have a whole lot more to live for.

I am thankful for this kind woman and for her words of encouragement (and thank God for sending her our way!). And now, I pass it on to you new moms out there... who may be struggling, confused, frazzled or just plain worn-out! "You have a lot to live for" too!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Saving on Groceries

In this economy, and during this time of financial instability, most of us are having to cut costs however we can. You may be buying less clothing and toys for your children, dining out less often, finding free entertainment for your family by going to the beach or the pool.... I believe a lot of us are on the same boat.

Recently, I have been trying to cut costs by spending less on groceries. This is a HUGE challenge for me because I love eating and cooking for my family. Here are some great ideas/ways to save on groceries (suggested by friends and people I know that have already mastered this!):

1) Use coupons!...Grocery Saving Tips says "Try to think of them as cash and you might be a little more motivated to use them on a regular basis".

2) Stick to "the list"... this takes a lot of self-discipline.. I always find other "goodies" in the store that end up in my cart.

3) Plan meals around sale items... a brilliant idea!

4) Cook in larger portions... it's cheaper and you can save leftovers for nights you don't feel like cooking!

5) Buy store brands.. typically less $$

6) Buy organic items from "The Dirty Dozen" list (below)

The Dirty Dozen- Top 12 Foods to Buy Organic:
1. Meat
2. Dairy
3. Coffee
4. Peaches
5. Apples
6. Bell Peppers
7. Celery
8. Nectarines
9. Strawberries
10. Cherries
11. Kale
12. Leafy Greens

The Clean 15- Foods You Don't Have to Buy Organic:
1. Onions
2. Avocado
3. Corn
4. Pineapple
5. Mango
6. Asparagus
7. Sweet Pea
8. Kiwi
9. Cabbage
10. Eggplant
11. Papaya
12. Watermelon
13. Broccoli
14. Tomato
15. Sweet Potato

Decreasing our grocery budget and disciplining myself to do the above seem like a monumental task... but I am praying that once I get in the habit, it will become easy.... and hopefully fun!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Jana Alayra

Have you heard of Jana Alayra?

My neighbors brought over a "Jana Alayra: Live in Concert" VHS when my 2 year old was sick last month... and ever since then, my daughter has not stopped singing her songs!

Jana Alayra is a wife, a mom, an artist... She is an amazing singer that adores children and has been using her gifts to minister to them and to glorify God. In this particular video (right) she sings to a huge audience of children.. and you can tell just how much she cares for them... and the chidlren LOVE her too!

It's a blessing for a mama when you hear your child singing:

"The greatest thing I could ever do,
Is spend my life loving you,
With all of my heart,
With all of my mind,
With all of my strength Lord,
I give you all my life!"
(All My Life)

Or.. she asks me to sing this song when she is not feeling well:

"Whether it rains,
Whether it pours,
Wherever I go,
I will trust you Lord!
In the light of day,
Or in the of dark of night,
I will trust you Lord with all my life! "
(Rain or Pour)

I wanted to tell you about her, if you don't know about her already... because she has been a blessing to my little one and to me too! It's amazing how God can use children's songs to draw us (parents) closer to Him!

Here's a clip of her on YouTube singing at a church in Pasadena.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hubba Hubba Hubby

This has been a very challenging week. My car broke down in the desert. I was admitted to the ER for heart trouble. My son is very allergic to walnuts, apparently. And there's actually more to the list, but through it all, my husband has been my comfort and strength, encouraging me with prayer and loving support. The dynamic of husband and wife as a pair, as teammates, in taking care of each other and their children is powerful. Take time to appreciate and bless your God-given companion.

For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
Ecclesiastes 4:10

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Baby Shoes

Shoes are one of those things I dread buying for my kids (others are diapers and wipes)... They wear them for a few months and then their little feet grow out of theml! This is why kids end up owning a TON pg shoes! One thing I suggest is, don't even bother investing in shoes until your kiddos learn how to walk (unless you want them wear shoes just to look cute). There are some brands such as Robeez and Pedipeds that are both darling and crawl-friendly.

The tricky part about buying shoes for kids is that they can't be too cheap and/or uncomfortable, or they won't wear them at all. But you also don't want to invest too much $$ on them since they won't be wearing them for too long.

Try to look for bargains at department stores and/or at the outlet. Stores such as Target, often times have inexpensive, cute and comfortable shoes and sandals. Garage sales and hand-me-downs are also a way to go!! Below are a few brands/shoes that may be worth your investment:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Power of a Praying Wife

Stormie Omartian says that the power of a praying wife is "laying down all claim to power in and of yourself, and relying on God's power to transform you, your husband, your circumstances, and your marriage..... It's a gentle tool of restoration appropriated through the prayers of a wife longs to do right more than be right, and to give life more than get even. It's a way to invite God's power into your husband's life for his greatest blessing, which is ultimately yours, too."

I love her book, "The Power of a Praying Wife" which helps you to understand and pray over every area in your husband's life... Below are the areas she urges us to pray over:

His Wife
His Work
His Finances
His Sexuality
His Affection
His Temptations
His Mind
His Fears
His Purpose
His Choices
His Health
His Protection
His Trials
His Integrity
His Reputation
His Priorities
His Relationships
His Fatherhood
His Past
His Attitude
His Marriage
His Emotions
His Walk
His Talk
His Repentence
His Deliverance
His Obedience
His Self-Image
His Faith
His Future

Friday, July 17, 2009

Undivided Attention

Whatever happened to undivided attention?

With cell phones, iPhones, e-mails, youtube and even blogs.. it is almost impossible to do things without getting on the phone or going on the computer. Even though these items are convenient and entertaining we are also TOO easily distracted by them.

I feel convicted (this is my own personal conviction) when I get a phone call while having a meal with my kids... or feel the need to check my e-mail while playing with them... I know that by answering the phone or going on the computer in their presence, I'm saying to my kids, "my business is more important than you".

Recently my husband and I had this discussion.. Usually after the girls go to sleep, we get on the computer to check our e-mails, look at the news or window-shop on-line... and we realized that this was taking away from us spending quality time together. So we decided on a "no computer" rule on our date nights (friday nights) so we can give each other our full attention.

Even with my kids, I make a conscience effort to not answer my phone (unless it's important) while having quality time with them. I now also go on the computer during their naps and/or at night after they are asleep. You can also set aside time where your little ones are playing on their own and you have your time also.

I heard recently that "children know when you are not paying attention, and if you do not give them undivided attention, they will do the same to you when they are teenagers." As moms, we are already distracted as it is (especially if you have more than one child) and it seems like we are always multi-tasking. I know that one thing I can do... or one way I can be more attentive to my kids is to simply turn off the computer and/or put my phone on silent when I am spending time with them.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

youtube It!

As a fun supplement to reading books with my son, I sometimes accompany the topic we read about with a youtube video. For example, if we're reading about jet planes and helicopters landing and taking off, I look it up on youtube. If there is a great video of a plane taking off into the big, blue sky, then I will show it to him.

Think about fun topics your child is curious about -jumping kangaroos, kids riding bikes with training wheels, astronauts, flower girls walking down the aisle... it could be a fun complement to your storytelling time.

I recommend watching the video first before showing it to your child in order to make sure it's good content. Keep viewings brief & related to the topic your child is learning about.

Explore and enjoy!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Crockpot Recipes

I never cooked with a crockpot before I had kids. In fact, I didn't even own one... but I soon discovered how great the crockpot is.. especially if you're going on an outing with your kids during the day, you can prepare the crockpot in the morning and "voila!" your dinner is ready when you get home!

Here is my favorite crockpot cookbook. "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook" by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann. Easy recipes, simple directions and yummy food!! I give it five stars!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Toddler Teaching Tools

You don't have to wait for your child to go to kindergarten before developing your child's reading skills. There are resources in your local bookstore, like Borders or Barnes & Noble to begin teaching your child basic reading and writing skills. Your child can be as young as 2 years old. Here are a few examples:

Kumon is a fantastic workbook that encourages children to write through tracing. "Mastering basic pencil skills builds a firm foundation for writing letters and numbers . . . a fun introduction to using pencils." The following are sample pages:

It's a fun, non-frustrating way to learn and build a foundation for writing letters and numbers. The workbooks also focus on coloring, number games, telling time, drawing, and much more. My son loves his Kumon books because the colorful images of sailboats, trains, candy and swimming make sitting and writing more like storytelling and play!

Another great resource is the Brain Quest series. Brain Quest asks many fun, practical questions that encourage your child to engage in conversation, sharpening language development, communication skills and social interaction. The following are a few sample questions:

What is Max eating for breakfast?
What is he drawing?
What activities do you see the kids doing at school?

"Brain Quest creates an atmosphere where children strive to do well and take pride in demonstrating what they know."

"Questions are intended to start a dialogue, not to test or drill."

This particular set comes with Max the monkey, a fun toy that is used to answer questions by pointing with it, adding to the fun in learning.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Gardener of Souls

I recently got back into my hobby of gardening.. I love how flowers and plants add life and interests to our backyard. When it comes to gardening, choosing your favorite plants and planting them is fairly easy... but maintaining and cultivating the garden takes effort and careful attention.

I love this parallel that Sally Clarkson (from the book "Mission of Motherhood") makes about gardening and mothering:

"If our gardens need cultivating to grow well, our children need that attention much more. Seeds of excellence and grace must be planted and tended. The weeds of selfishness and bad attitudes must be plucked. The plot must be protected so that the wild storms and prevailing winds of culture will not damage the fruit. In addition, wise food for thought and the finest of art, music, literature, hospitality, and creativity must be fed to fertilize the soul so that the child may grow fruitful and productive...

There is such a vast potential of spiritual, emotional, and intellectual aptitude hidden in each of my children's personalities. Becoming a gardener of each of them is like planting and tending the unique flowers and plants suited to the soil and climate of each child's heart and mind. To neglect this kind of cultivation can only have negative consequences in their lives."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Homemade Playdoh

My neighbor gave me a recipe for homemade playdoh from and I made it with my daughter yesterday. Homemade playdoh is GREAT for various reasons:

-it is safe and edible (especially good for little ones that put everything in their mouth)
-it's a fun activity to do with your children... you can even teach math while you're making it!
-you can get really creative with the colors (like using one of these neon food coloring- pic below)
-the texture of homemade playdoh is very amusing and entertaining... even you'll get hooked!
-it's great to give as gifts for other kids and families
-it gets a little messy but it's SO easy to make!

Below are the simple recipe and instructions.. Hope you have fun!!

1 cup flour
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon oil
1/4 cup salt
food coloring

Mix all ingredients, adding food coloring last. Stir over medium heat until smooth. Remove from pan and knead until blended smooth. Place in plastic bag or airtight container when cooled.
Will last for a long time.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Be Anxious for Nothing

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,
let your requests be known to God."
Philippians 4:6

Jon Courson's Application Commentary for this verse says:
"The way to remain in the place of rejoicing, the way to avoid being caught up in extravagance of any sort is to remain in prayer. In this context, prayer refers to communicating with God, while supplication speaks of making specific requests to Him. Both are to be done with a spirit of thanksgiving for the abundance with which the Lord has already blessed us both materially and spiritually (Psalm 68:19)."

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Celebrating Independence Day

Happy Birthday America!

I was researching on-line to see how I can introduce my toddler to Independence Day and teach her the history of our country in very simple and fun ways... Below are some websites I found with great activity ideas:

Toddler Homeschool
Explaining Fourth of July to children
Pledge of Allegiance for Preschoolers
Finger Plays
Having a Parade
Make a poster

Clever Toddler Activities
Independence Day Crafts
Patriotic Photo Frame
Independence Day Door Hanging
Independence Day Streamers
Fourth of July Fruit Salad

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mission of Motherhood

If your desire is to be the godly woman and mother that God has created you to be..... pick up and read "The Mission of Motherhood" by Sally Clarkson. This is a beautiful book that is filled with wisdom, knowledge and guides to help you understand what His word says about parenting and motherhood.