Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Mommy Must Haves for Babies

Being pregnant with my sixth blessing, other Mommies tend to ask if I have any recommendations for them.  With Mother's Day around the corner I thought I would share  a few Mommy Must Haves that I have come to love and depend on.




222a by hugabub.com, on Flickr

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  hugabub.com 

I am a firm believer in baby wearing.  It makes life so much easier when you can snuggle your little one close and get a few things accomplished around the house, or even just go for a walk.  Nab yourself a carrier of some sort and allow your hands to be free! :)  We use a Moby wrap as well as an Ergo.  Both have saved my back and my sanity and by having multiple carriers I have flexibility.
By using a carrier I am able to go on a long walk, vacuum, do dishes and laundry, play in my garden, grocery shop with both hands, bring the kids to the park, and have many other adventures.  Both the Moby and the Ergo come in a variety of colors/designs from something neutral to something whimsical so you can express your personality while showing off your sweet bundle.



For Sleeping:

I have found the joy in swaddling my babies. Swaddled newborns sleep better and I found it hard to wrap my baby up like a burrito in a receiving blanket.  I just could not wrap my squriming little monkey tight enough . Then I came across these swaddle blankets and now I own five.  They are WONDERFUL.  The velcro helps the blanket stay nice and secure during bedtime which means baby sleeps longer and stays at a constant temperature without becoming unwrapped in the middle of the night.  The fleece ones are a bit too warm for summer babies but work well for winter if you live in a cooler climate.   The Swaddleme blanket keeps baby snug by using velcro so your little wiggle worm cannot squirm free of the confines of her cocoon. Our babies have enjoyed being snug and will sleep longer which means, Momma can sleep longer too.

Adri Atlantis, 2 days old by t r e v y, on Flickr

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  t r e v y 

White noise of some sort is welcome by all in our home. We downloaded Ocean Waves from Itunes for our Ipod.  My kids have always needed a bit of noise while they sleep and something as simple as a sound machine has been a lifesaver for us.

Cloth Diapering:


Fuzzi Bunz Diapers was our first experience with cloth diapers when our second son arrived.  We have been cloth diapering for over seven years now and we still love it.  Our Fuzzi Bunz lasted through three babies before I decided to switch to cotton prefolds and wool covers.  The FB's were in such  excellent condition (even after washing daily for years) that I was able to sell them at a decent price and use part of that money to buy our current diaper system.  For someone just entering the cloth diaper world I would highly recommend a pocket diaper such as Fuzzi Bunz.  They are easy to use and are very close to disposable diapers in their style/ease.

Fuzzi Bunz has excellent customer service as well.  There were a few times we received a defective diaper and all we had to do was contact the company, mail the defective diaper back and they replaced them as well as sending us free inserts/wipes.

We purchased our FB's through  Kelly's Closet... the service has been wonderful and the prices are the best around.  It may look like a lot of money up front but when you consider how much it costs to use disposables (around $3,000 from birth to potty training including disposable wipes) it saves you thousands to buy cloth.

We made the switch to prefolds and wool covers because we wanted pure cotton on our babies skin. We go through Green Mountain Diapers for our cotton prefolds and buy Disana covers via amazon.

Both Kelly's Closet and Green Mountain Diapers have excellent customer service and a wealth of information on their sites to encourage you in your diapering journey as well as wonderful FAQ to help you along the way.  If you have any questions I would be more than happy to share with your our cloth diapering journey.  Just zip me an email by clicking "email me" in the sidebar or post a comment below with your question(s).

Natalie & Fluff Stash by moohaha, on Flickr

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  moohaha 
Ever since the beginning of our cloth diapering journey we have been using Charlies Soap.  It is great for cloth diapers and you can use it for all of your laundering needs.  We purchase a 32 lb bucket and it lasts us almost 2 years.  We use it for all of our laundry and wash 3 loads a day.  A little goes a LONG way.  We have children with sensitive skin so this laundry soap has been a perfect fit for our family and leaves my laundry fresh and clean without harsh chemicals.


Another nice investment when using cloth is a diaper sprayer.  This little gadget hooks right up to your toilet and works like the sprayer in your kitchen sink that you use for your dishes.  The sprayer comes in handy to knock off the ickies into the toilet, especially once baby starts on solid foods.


For Nursing:
 My nursing pillow is invaluable to me... these wonderful inventions really help with comfort while bonding with your sweet babe.  I bring mine to the hospital when I go into labor so I can have it after birth and it stays with me at all times until my little one is weaned.

My Brest Friend nursing pillow is my  bedside companion.  I used to be a die hard Boppy fan until I discovered this sturdy pillow.  With the Boppy I had to prop pillows all around me while using it so my boys could get a proper latch.  With the Brest Friend it is made of foam so it is not super squishy and it has raised bumps for baby's head to make for a comfortable latch.  The pillow also has a plastic buckle so you can fasten it securely behind you and my favorite part... it has lumbar support.  For those of us with ferocious nursers it is nice to have that extra support for our backs when we spend half of our day nursing those first few months. If your baby spits up a lot consider purchasing an extra slipcover.

The Bebe au Lait nursing cover is one of my favorite purchases as a breast feeding Momma.  Not only is it beautiful to use but it is practical and such a security saver.  When I nursed the boys I would cover up with a blanket and they would tug it off... since the Bebe au Lait cover is placed around your neck and is secured with a D-ring, the kiddos cannot yank it off.  Plus there is a rigid, plastic curve at the top of the cover so air can reach your baby and you can peek on your precious one while nursing.  That little piece of plastic is what makes Bebe Au Lait stand out from other nursing covers I have seen... it is great to be able to look in on baby PLUS it keeps your little one from getting all sweaty.
The nursing cover has been especially wonderful to have when out in public and I have received many compliments on it.  There are a variety of fabric choices from funky to feminine and the material is top quality.  There are also terry cloth pockets sewn on the inside of the cover for you to stash a pacifier, burp rag, or nursing pads.


 I also recommend grabbing a stack of Gerber prefold diapers.  They are a plain, white cotton that is nice and thick and are perfect to use as burp rags.  They are affordable and useful well after nursing, they make the best dust rags around!  :)  Or, you can use them as doublers for night time if you are cloth diapering your baby.

Nursing tank tops are a necessity for a new Mom. I have a rotation of five tank tops and I wear them underneath my shirts rather than by themselves as I am rather conservative when it comes to fashion.  The tank tops are comfortable and are easy to use one handed.  I wear these shirts every day while nursing and I wear them while I am pregnant since they are long and can cover my belly bump and keep it from being cold. They have stood the test of time and are definitely worth investing in.  It is hard to find a bra that fits AND is comfortable, especially once your milk comes in,  I have found that using the nursing tanks I do not need a bra underneath as they provide support and coverage. Plus it is  easy with the nursing tops to find one that fits and they are very easy to nurse in.

These tanks by Gilligan & O'Malley have proven to be of good quality as well as comfortable and stylish.  Mine lasted me about two years and I wore them daily.  I then upgraded to nursing tank tops from  GlamourMom.  These tanks are pricey so I wait until they go on sale but the support they give "the girls" is astounding and so far they have lasted me the past three years and i have worn them daily for that time.


A bottle of Lansinoh will quickly become your breast, I mean, best friend.  I used this cream profusely the first few weeks of nursing while my body became used to a little person being attached to me like a Hoover vacuum.  Lansinoh is made of lanolin (a.k.a. sheep sweat).  It is completely safe for Mom and baby and you do not need to remove it before nursing.  It is wonderfully soothing.  My reccomendation is to buy two tubes of this magical cream, one for your nightstand and one for the diaper bag.


Breast Pads.
Wish I had a wonderful brand to recommend.  I have yet to find ones that are 100% perfect, they tend to show through clothing at times.  However, I do prefer the cloth, washable ones over disposable.  I think cotton pads are more comfy and the fact that you can wash and reuse them is great.  I purchased mine off of ebay.  I bought 5 pairs for $10 including shipping.  They have worked well but are not always the most discreet.

Soothing gel pads are a life saver for those first few weeks with a newborn.  These disposable, cooling gel pads from Lansinoh are a must have when you begin nursing.  They are a bit of an investment but I only needed to use them the first two weeks while my body adjusted to having a little leech on it at all times.


Breast Pump:
 I have an Avent Isis and I love it.  I have had it since my first son was born, thirteen years ago, and it has worked great with all of my babies.  It is affordable, manual (the electric ones scare the bejeebers out of me), and has stood the test of time.  Not to mention it is comfortable, believe it or not.  :)  If you are a woman who has been blessed with a larger chest then you may want to invest in some inserts that attach right to your pump.  I use the inserts from  Pumpin' Pal,   They come in three different sizes and work beautifully for those times when you are engorged or just have gone up a size.  Having the inserts have saved me from much discomfort.  They are affordable and easy to use.


Bottles:
we use standard Gerber glass bottles.
 Nothing fancy, easy to clean/sterilize.


Baby Accessories:
I find that you do not really need a whole lot of accessories for babies.  I tend to bathe little babies in the sink or in a large bowl until they are able to use the tub.
Most play mats and marketed baby items are over stimulating for my kiddos so I just stick the basics... a blanket on the floor with a few toys scattered about.  You will find that kids enjoy playing with simple things the most anyway rather than noisy items.  With that being said, there are a few items that I have found I cannot be without.

A well made diaper bag:
This versatile bag by LL Bean holds enough necessities for a newborn and a toddler without being overly huge.  Plus, it comes in a variety of colors that do not scream "baby".  I am not a person who wants to tote around a diaper bag with the cow jumping over the moon.  I want something that is neutral and can serve a purpose outside of being a tote for diapers.  The LL Bean diaper bag is labeled as a "diaper bag" but can be easily used as a messenger bag as your  child grows.  Superb LL Bean quality, affordable price, stylish looks, and it meets all of my picky standards.  Definitely a keeper in my book.

portable high chair  is a wonderful item to have.  We had been given a very nice Eddie Bauer high chair but the thing was HUGE and hard to clean.  It was pretty to look at but that was about it.  we found that we got much more use out of our inexpensive, multi-colored portable high chair.  It was small, folded up so it was compact and easy to travel with, and plastic = very easy to clean.  It has done the job for the last decade so why mess with a good thing.


When our little ones are older I have found some kind of a play station invaluable.  I do not invest in a play mat or other accessories because they outgrow them so quickly but someone purchased an activity center for us when our second child was born and it was awesome.  It takes up space, which is the only downside, however it keeps baby in one spot while Momma is cooking and is well worth the money in my opinion.

A stroller/ car seat.
We have never used an umbrella stroller so I cannot vouch for them but a good, solid stroller is necessary when Momma wants to take a walk or do a small shopping trip.  When we had our first son we loved the Graco stroller (similar to the one in the link).  The infant car seat fits right inside of it and once they outgrow the car seat the stroller is still wonderful until they are old enough to walk by themselves.  Now that we have two stroller monkeys, we have a double stroller which is nice but it is not as easy to maneuver as the single stroller.  All in all, I find Graco to be the best brand for strollers/car seats.

What are some of your Mommy (or Daddy)  favorites outside of chocolate and a good book?  Please leave your ideas below in the comment section.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

YOU are the Best Mom for your Children.

It is easy to feel isolated in a world of busyness.  The tugs and demands of everyday life seem to take over at times - the baby is crying and needs to be fed, laundry is taunting me from the corner, the dishes stacked on the counter are waiting for a sudsy bath... come to think of it, when was the last time I bathed our five year old?  Can I throw her in with the dishes and tackle two tasks at the same time?

There are days when the thoughts creep into the recesses of my mind and it starts with a whisper that, if not squealched, becomes louder and Louder and LOUDER until I start believing "I am a failure".  "I am incompetent because I cannot keep up with the demands of every day life".

Oh how I long for a mentor on days like this.  Someone who can take my hand during this season of busyness of having lots of littles and tell me it will be okay.  Someone who can share stories of ink drawings on walls, spilled milk, sibling rivalry, lack of sleep, and finances that are stretched so thin you know it is only by the grace of God that you remain where you are.  Unfortunately, not everyone has the blessing of a flesh and blood mentor and so when I have days of longing/needing like this I try to turn my eyes to the Lord and call a close friend who is also in the thick of it and have her pray with me.

I cannot help but smile when I think of how the Lord knows what we need, when we need it.

Photo from pixabay
 Last week I had had a trying day with the children.  ( I have five blessings with our sixth due in eight weeks.  The youngest four came about in six years so we have a whole bunch of little people in our house.)  I raised my voice, I cried, and I thought about how inadequate I was as a mother.  I tried redeeming what Satan was attempting to destroy but it was still not a joyfilled day as I had hoped it would be.  That night while getting ready for bed my seven year old came up to me and wrapped his arms around my waist.  He looked into my eyes and said "Momma, you are the best Mom ever".  My heart almost stopped.  Didn't he see the same woman this morning having a big girl tempertantrum over chores not done?  Didn't he hear the same woman spouting and sputtering under her breath as she cleaned up the third spill in twenty minutes?

My response came from a heart of guilt...
"Oh baby, if I was the best Mom ever then I would not lose my cool like  I did today.  You deserve a better Mommy... one who doesn't get upset as much."
My boy, my seven year old, with his wavy white blond hair and brilliantly blue eyes looked up at me hurt and spoke sternly.
"Don't ever say that Mom.  Don't ever say that you aren't the best Mommy because when you do, it sounds like there are other Moms out there for me and... well... there isn't.  You are the only Mom for me and even when you are upset, you are still the best and I love you."

I swallowed the lump in my throat and with a wavering voice, apologized to my darling son who spoke so much life into me that I do not know if he will ever know the impact of his words in that dimly lit hallway as we stood together in our pajamas.  The fact of the matter is that he loves and forgives me even when I am an idiot, just like the Lord does.  He loves me with my many shortcomings and flaws and does not want anyone else to be his Mommy other than me.


 The woman at the grocery store who has the perfect figure, perfect hair and makeup and she walks about pointing out the colors to her toddler who giggles with delight may be a wonderful Momma and seem to be all put together but that is not the Mommy he wants to tuck him in at night.  The Mommy who can put her children in as many extracurricular programs as they want and buy them a toy when they ask for it  because she has the means to may be such a fun Momma but that is not who he wants pushing him on the swingset in our yard.  The Momma who is always smiling, who speaks calmly in the midst of chaos and trying times, and who appears to have the patience of a saint may be an amazing Mom but that is not who he wants by his side when life comes crashing in.  He wants me... with my ever changing figure, my quirky personality, my homemade crafts and zany science experiements that don't always work.  He wants me even when I crash and crumble in front of him because of my own sins and he sits next to me as I pray and seek forgiveness.  The other Moms may be wonderful but they are not ME and your children want the same.  They don't want the perfect Mom because she is not going to show them why they need Jesus. They don't want the "other" Moms, even though they may be awesome Mommies to their children, they are not you!  They want you... with all of your flaws and brokeness and bad breath and crazy hair days.  They want you even when you lose your cool and say words you wish you could take back, they want you to be their Momma even when you just don't feel like it.

And that my friends... is what we call the gift of grace.  We all have rough days and we can beat ourselves up relentlessly and then God reminds us, sometimes through our beautiful children, that there is only one Momma in this world for these precious ones He has blessed us with.

You are doing a GREAT job!  You may not have a mentor to pat you on the back (or maybe you do in which case... give her a big ol' hug from me!)  and keep pouring encouragement into you but you have a Savior who hears your heart even if you have a hard time speaking it out loud to Him.  You have children who are watching in the wings and waiting... waiting for that chance to give you a hug or a smile to let you know that YOU are the best for them.

Lifting you up today,
Dawna

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

When The Sky Falls


My heart was at peace.  The sun was shining, the kids were all happy, the laundry was folded, dinner was prepped,  and although there are things that are not going well right now in our lives, I was keeping my focus on the One who has everything in control.  I was expressing this to my Daddy, letting him know that I was surrendering to the Lord and not allowing my thoughts and fears to overtake me and then... after I hung up the phone, the sky fell.

Doctors appointments did not provide answers for questions, they only yielded more appointments thus more bills.  The dentist appointment also led to more appointments and more bills.  The vehicle appointment led to future appointments and... you guessed it, more bills.
Image from TheGraphicsFairy

That peace I was feeling earlier was no where to be found.  Anxiety, fear, frustration all crept in.  The sun was shining outside but I was not seeing it.  I began to focus on all of the papers, quotes, and appointment dates staring at me.  I checked our budget and began to freak out.  Enter my darlin' husband.  He puts his hand on my shoulder, looks me in the eye and says "It's going to be okay, honey".   I should have thanked him for his encouraging, Godly words.  Instead I looked back at him and said "You go ahead and keep thinking that.  I am just waiting for the other shoe to drop."  Yup.  That was me.  Miss Positive... Miss. My Heart is at Peace.

Why is it that when we feel like we finally have a grasp on things, that is when life throws a curve ball at us?

After taking some time for self reflection I realized that this is a testing ground.  Will I continue to let it be well with my soul even with this new information that is staring at me in black and white, taunting me, threatening our financial security?  Will I live out what I believe deep in my heart, that the Lord will provide for us in ways that are beyond our understanding or will I continue to shake my head in disbelief at how so many things can go willy nilly in 24 hours?

It is all about focus.

I allowed my circumstances to distract me. 
 I took my eyes off of Him... and I fell.  
I fell from peace and contentment and entered chaos and insecurity.

I decided that I was not going to allow this new found information rob me of my peace.  I had sulked and whined long enough (several hours if you are wondering).  I directed my gaze back to the heavens... the sun was still shining, the children were laughing, and my God was still on the throne.  I prayed over the situation at hand, apologized to my husband, and got back to life.  I pushed my blue eyed, giggling toddler on the swing.  I had a tea party with a Princess.  I played chess with my six year old and I embraced my teenage son and told him how special he was to me. I chose to have joy in the moment. Mind you there are plenty of times where I do not choose joy and I wallow in my pity party. The results are vastly different and I wish I had the mindset to always choose "the path less traveled" because it truly does make all the difference.

Are there areas in your life where you are trying to change your mindset?

Praying for you today,
Dawna


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Surviving the LONG Days With Littles


Ring, ring, ring... I pick up the phone and talk to a friend whom I have not been able to connect with in over a month.  As soon as I wander to the kitchen fighting ensues.  You know... the kind with screeching at decibels that make dogs whine.  Yup.  As I nod and listen to my friend I calm little ones and wipe tears.


Then the baby poops.

Then the toddler poops.

Then my six year old son runs into the corner of the couch bruising and scraping his face.  I grab some ice, wrap it in a washcloth and tend to his boo boo.

My four year old princess tugs on my sleeve and motions me to come close.  I put my nose next to her nose (phone still attached to my ear) and she says softly with twinkling eyes, "Can you help me brush my teeth?"  Her dragon breath begs for an emphatic yes so we saunter off to the bathroom where she stands on the stool and giggles as she squeezes copious amounts of blue sparkly toothpaste onto her Cinderella toothbrush. I glance at the clock and think "It is almost noon and I am just brushing kiddos teeth now.  My, oh my, I am running behind today".  I proceed to help her when there is a crash followed by screaming in the kitchen.

My two year old had been running on the linoleum with stocking feet.  He was now face flat on the floor and when he lifted his head up, blood was gushing from his mouth.  I fetched another washcloth with ice cubes and plopped little man on the couch and as I was doing that there was yet another crash and screaming.  Princess  had flipped off of her stool and was now on the bathroom floor, wedged between the legs of the stool with a gash in her foot and a scrape on her belly.

It is truly amazing how many children can get hurt in the span of 8 minutes.

I hung up the phone as I proceeded to get the last washcloth in the house... of course all of the accidents happen on the day when I am washing towels and trying to squeeze in a phone conversation.  Reminder to self... we need more band-aids and it is okay to hang up the phone in the middle of chaos at home.

I would like to say that the day got progressively better... I guess in the accident department it did.  There were no more injuries.  But there were plenty of attitudes that needed tending to, arguments that needed monitoring, and temper tantrums that ensued because my two year old is going through a clingy phase.  Add in the everyday stuff of cleaning a home, teaching the children, wiping up cat puke, and constantly pulling things out of my one year old's mouth (no... it wasn't the cat puke), ...the day was LONG.
Fruit of the Spirit- word Art by mercyrains
Image by mercyrains under Creative Commons license
It is days like this, when I am worn out and weary, when I have to be on guard and remind myself of the fruits of the spirit.  Self control... patience... kindness... gentleness, these things often go out the window when I am bombarded with the chaos of everyday life in a busy household.  My blood pressure rises and I can feel the heat creeping up my neck, my whole body tenses and I feel like I am on fire.  The little ones testing their boundaries, the older ones frustrated and overwhelmed, everyone at their breaking point... and I need to guide them.  I need to be the one to speak the kind word rather than hissing out orders.  It is at times like this when I need to gather them up and love on them - freely giving hugs, snuggling on the couch and just calming everyone down rather than crumbling and spouting about how frustrated I am.

They don't need a Momma who is hollering, 
they need a Momma who is helping.

Some days I succeed... I stop and process before I open my mouth and the loving mother I so long to be shows her radiant face.  She wipes the tears, comforts the hurts in a soothing voice, corrects lovingly, and at the end of the day... it is well with her soul.  It is only by God's grace that the loving Momma exists at all... and I need to remind myself that it is not by my efforts that I am a Godly parent, it is only by His grace and love.

Other days I am not as blessed.  My mouth rushes ahead of my brain, the tears spill over and we all end up an emotional heap trying to grasp some semblance of sanity. Can you relate?  I just want you to know, whoever you are, that we all have days like this.  

There are days where we are going to do it wrong... 
and what makes the difference is what we do 
AFTER 
we have done it wrong.

Do you apologize to your children?  Do you let them see you raw, before the Lord, with a contrite heart?  Let them come before Him with you.  Usher your family alongside you, ask forgiveness and then try to laugh.  Try to regain the ground you lost and start anew.  We are not perfect, we will mess up, there is no magic formula to raise our children perfectly or to be Super mom, but we do have a Super God and you can count on Him to get you through these trying years.

In the trenches with you,
Dawna





Friday, January 16, 2015

Be A Champion For Your Children


As mothers we make a huge impact on our children... for good or for bad.  Our children view themselves often times through our eyes.  Is your Mommy lens focusing on their flaws and faults or their strengths and gifts?
The World Through A Child’s Eye by Steve Corey, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  Steve Corey 



There are enough people in this world who will tear our children down, who will taunt them and ridicule them, who will demean them and try to take away their self worth... we do not need to be added to that number.  Moms need to be their child's cheerleader, their champion.  When the whole world seems like it has turned their back on them, we need to be there with open arms willing to pick up their broken pieces and mend them back together... because if we don't, then who will.

I have seen the effects of Moms who have not stood beside their children.  Moms who wanted to forsake embarrassment and have turned their cheek and let their child be dragged through the mud for something they may not have even done.  I have known Moms who have held their tongues rather than defend their child because it was easier to say nothing at all rather than becoming tongue tied and looking like a fool.  I am daring you to play the fool because what may cause you embarrassment for a few minutes of your life will save you a life long relationship with your son/daughter.

Hypothetical situation:
Your son Jimmy is playing on the playground with some new friends he just made at the park.  You join the the other Mommies who are standing around talking, holding their Starbucks coffees while bouncing babies on their hips.  The other Moms welcome you into their circle and you join the discussion about rising grocery prices, how to pinch pennies, and small talk about where your kids go to school.
  You watch as Jimmy interacts with four other children around his age.  The other Moms are talking about affordable places to get a manicure while you notice a scuffle breaking out among the children.  Jimmy gets pushed down and the children's voices start to escalate.  The other Moms stop their talking and go to see what has happened.  One of the boys (Mike) accuses Jimmy of swearing at him.  You know your son and you know very well that he would not say such things.
   Jimmy is wiping dirt off of his pants and  tears are  threatening to spill over from his eyes.  Mike's Mom walks over to you and demands that Jimmy apologizes for saying such foul language to her dear boy.  Do you decide to flesh things out even though it will take time trying to get the truth out in the open (and it may not be well received) or would you make Jimmy say he was sorry and then promptly leave the park and talk to him in the car saying "Sometimes it is just easier to apologize and be done with it, even if you did not do anything."  It may be a hypothetical situation but I have seen variants of it happen on several occasions leaving damage in it's wake.

Make sure you are listening to your children.  Give them the benefit of the doubt, let them explain themselves and hear the whole story before judging, if you do so it will save you a lot of regret later.


Be a champion for your children.  Let them know that you are in their corner. Enjoy building that road of trust and love that will last a lifetime if it is tended with care.

"the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down." 
2 Corinthians 13:10

Some ideas on how to build up your children:
* Look during the day to see what they are doing right and take hold of that opportunity to celebrate those victories no matter how small. Example: "Wow, you did a great job making your bed.  It looks really nice."  "Thank you for playing so well with your sister.  You are a great big brother."

* Leave an encouraging note on their pillow or in their lunchbox.  "I'm so proud you are my son/daughter."

* Listen to them when they are talking and look them in the eyes.

* Take them on dates and let them know they are special.

* When things are not going right (messed up during the big game, did not do well on a test, was made fun of because of their style of clothes,...) remind them that you are there to support them, to listen, and to help.

Let your children know that you believe in them.

* What is a way your parents encouraged you as a child?* Leave a comment below.

With love,
Dawna





Tuesday, January 13, 2015

20 Affordable or Free Date Night Ideas

You don't have to spend a lot of cash, or any at all, to have a memorable evening with your spouse. With small children in the home we are not always able to leave our lovely abode to get out with each other, which is why we savor those special away moments all the more when we get them. Here are some ideas that you may want to try out for your next date night.

1. A candle lit dinner for two at home.

You can set up a picnic for the kids in their bedroom while you and your darlin' have a romantic dinner for two at the table. Or... if you are able, send the kiddos off to spend a few hours with a friend/relative and take advantage of a quiet meal just the two of you. Set out a tablecloth, nice china, wine glasses with a sparkling beverage, candles, and flowers. Make it special. Soft music provides a nice background and you can dance after dinner if you'd like.


2. Go on a picnic.
Pack cloth napkins, pretty plates, wine glasses, candle, a blanket, and something delicious to eat. Then drive off to a special site and enjoy dinner together. It is fun and free!

3. Count the stars together.
Bundle up if it is cold and head out to explore the evening sky. We did this in the fall time and packed a blanket and a thermos of hot cocoa. The sky was brilliant with stars. We watched and marveled at God's creation while snuggling and reminiscing.

4. Go to the park and act like a kid again.

Whether swinging, sliding, playing hide and seek or playing tennis, sometimes it is just fun to be a kid. Enjoy the laughter that such simple pleasures bring.

5. Stay home and have a movie night.
Once the kids are tucked into bed it is nice to snuggle up and watch something other than CARS.  (I love Cars  as much as the next person, Pixar makes great movies, however sometimes it is nice to watch something that is not animated once in a while.)  Maybe pop in a black and white classic or snuggle up to a romantic comedy, with popcorn and your loved one by your side, you can't go wrong.

6. Give your sweetie  a massage.
Nothing relaxes me more than a nice foot massage and it is even better when it is a surprise. Grab some lotion/oil, light some candles, and give you darling a massage to say "Thank you for loving me".

7. Games!
Grab a board game for two players or a deck of cards and enjoy beating your honey over a bowl of ice cream.

8. Dream/reminisce together.
Make a list of questions to ask each other when you have a few moments to yourselves. This is nice to do at night when the kids are in bed. Some questions might be:
* If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be and why?

* Talk about your first date together.

* What is your dream job?

* Where do you picture yourself/us in five years/ten years?

* Tell him/her about the first time you saw them.

* Tell me about something you have always wanted to do but have yet to do it? What is preventing you from doing so?

* What charity/mission is most near/dear to your heart and why?

9.  Dance together.
Whether you sign up for swing classes, teach yourselves how to tango (yup, the local library often has "how to" videos for dancing), or just crank up the radio in your car and dance in a field - grab your darling by the hand and have fun!


10.  Mini golf, bowling, billiards, roller skating or some other fun, affordable "sport" that will get you laughing together.

11. Take a bath/shower together.

12. Make a list of your spouse's best qualities in alphabetical order and read them to him/her.

13. Take a walk/hike together.

14. Go to a museum/zoo/art gallery.

15. Go camping on the living room floor. :)

16. Take a tour of a local brewery or winery - they are usually free and sometimes there are samples along the way.

17. Go sledding/ice skating/build a snowman.

18. Go window shopping together.
We like to visit Home Depot and dream about the things we would like to do with our house... we don't spend money we just enjoy having time together and dreaming.

19. Rather than going out for a meal, share a dessert together. It is affordable and fun!

20. Find ways in the every day to show your spouse that they are loved and cherished.
Leave him a note in his shirt pocket or mail him a card at work unexpectedly. Pour her a bubble bath so she can have a few moments to herself. Make him his favorite dessert. Buy her flowers. Compliment and encourage one another. Invest your time into each other and your marriage will flourish.

I know many of the ideas above are centered around conversation.
Conversation will make/break a relationship. It is so important to communicate with the one you love. Here are a few books that we have used in our home.

The Language of Love by: Gary Smalley

10 Great Dates by: David and Claudia Arp

Creative Romance by: Doug Fields

For women only by: Shaunti Feldhahn

For men only by: Shaunti Feldhahn

The Five Love Languages by: Gary Chapman

Now all that is left to do is to grab your calendar and plan a special night with your help-mate Have a blessed time!

:)  Dawna

Friday, January 9, 2015

Everyday Chaos and The Joy Found Within

I was going through my "drafts" and I found this post that never made it to the blog.  It is from December 2013 and I thought it a worthy read for the beginning of a new year.  Happy 2015 and enjoy the journey!

The snow clings heavily to the branches of the trees outside my window like His redemption that clings to my soul.  


White.  Pure.  Simple.  Just like His gift.

I am so grateful for His grace and mercy that are new every morning.  I fail so often and I become weary but as I change my perspective, and focus on His love, I regain joy and peace.  It IS well with my soul even when chaos threatens to swirl and spin around me.


Be it known that this is not uncommon chaos, it is the chaos of every day life that threatens to overwhelm and consume me most days.
The butter that exploded in the microwave AFTER I cleaned it.

Contractions that keep me awake at night so I wake up groggy.

Helping my toddler potty train and thus burning the bagels that are under the broiler for breakfast... for the second morning in a row.

My beautiful new dish, shattered on the floor because of little hands that were not paying attention.

Another argument to referee and provide direction with.

Dishes to wash, laundry to fold, a floor to mop.

Little ones screaming because they don't get their own way.

A boo boo to mend.

A friend who calls who just needs a listening ear and someone to tell her she is loved and all will be well.

Making dinner while my wee ones tug at me wanting a story, wanting a snack, wanting to stop and have a tea party.

A dirty diaper to change.

A last minute glance at the calendar that tells me... tomorrow I have a group of ladies coming over for a Bible study and I am not prepared, I don't know what I am serving for a snack, I skipped vacuuming the library (where we all meet) because I had to wipe up a spill and became distracted, and I cannot remember when my last shower was.

Sometimes I throw my hands up in the air and with tears in my eyes I let the children know I need a few minutes and I lock myself in the bathroom.  I just need to still my racing heart.  To focus on what is true... to focus on the BLESSINGS in this crazy, messy, beautiful life.  Life can rush at me so quickly at times I forget to focus on the JOY.

Satan loves to distract us with the mundane and try to make us feel like what we are doing is not worthy.  But beloved readers, these seemingly monotonous tasks of feeding/caring for our children and our home are MORE than we realize.

“No act of kindness, no matter how 

small, is ever wasted.”




― Aesop-

Changing diapers, doing daily tasks around the house to help keep our homes tidy and orderly, making meals, kissing boo-boos, reading the same book over and over as your little one squeals of delight because they recognize the word "cat" now... these are all acts of kindness.

  Each time we place clean, folded laundry on our children's beds we are saying "I love you",

 each runny nose we wipe and dirty diaper we change we are telling our children "we care". 

 Each tea party we have, game we play, coloring page we color, story we listen to... we are telling our children " you MATTER to me".

It is easy for me to lose sight of the big picture and become inundated with these daily tasks of life.  I can become the worst version of myself, losing it over the little things, like the Christmas tree. In those moments my children see the real me... the  imperfect, sinful Mommy who NEEDS a Savior.  They see me make mistakes, they watch me fail, they see me ask forgiveness and repentance and they KNOW it is going to be okay, they KNOW they don't have to be perfect to be loved and cherished by their parents or by their God.  It is good and healthy for them to see I don't have it all together - that Jesus died for Mommy's sins and failures just as much as He died for theirs.

I exhale and let go and allow God to move.

I gaze out the kitchen window, across the meadow to those beautiful trees, glistening white.  Redemption is here.  I look back at my day and see His hand in the midst of those crazy moments - holding it all together and bringing the beauty.


He loves us... right where we are at.  What a beautiful Savior we serve.

 Praying that you have JOY today in the midst of whatever life brings you.

With love,
Dawna