Mother’s Day is tomorrow. And for most moms with little ones, it’s not always a day filled with relaxation, breakfast in bed, massages, and mimosas.
Most of us will still be changing the dirty diapers, wiping sticky fingers, chasing after little people, and preparing family meals.
Motherhood is hard.
I don’t think I ever realized how hard it could be until I was suddenly thrown into it when my son was placed in my arms. Yes, we are well past the newborn stage, but there’s always a new stage. And the new stage only lasts a few months. And then it’s on to another stage of life.
The new normal is getting used to the constant change that comes with my son’s growing body, heart, and mind.
In the middle of all that I have experienced in young motherhood, the most important lesson I’ve learned is to dance.
Why is dancing so important you ask?
Because when I remember to dance, I’m reminded not to take things so seriously. I remember to enjoy the little moments of togetherness. To treasure young motherhood in all that it encompasses. The crazy. The emotional. The snuggles. The food thrown on the floor. The little hugs and kisses. The numerous diaper changes. The chubby legs. The diaper explosions. And the best little laugh in the world.
With all the ups and downs of motherhood. With all the flops, mommy do-overs, and extra tissues for the days with teary eyes… this mom needs to dance.
Our family dances.
We dance to The Temptations, Taylor Swift, The Beach Boys, Sam Cooke, Chicago, Daft Punk, The Killers, The Beatles, Selena Gomez, Chris Tomlin, Temper Trap, The Newsboys, Frank Sinatra…you name it, we dance.
It’s usually completely spontaneous, but we dance. The music takes over and we just have fun, enjoying the moment.
I love watching my son dance. He’s now at the age where if any tune comes on the radio or television, he wants to move his little body. One arm will lift up high to touch the sky, and his other arm will stay at his side. He’ll occasionally do a spin or bounce. But, he loves music. It doesn’t matter if it’s a commercial jingle, a cartoon theme song, or the number one song on the radio; he just wants to dance.
In the midst of motherhood, momma, will you remember to dance? Yes, I’m talking to you (and myself).
Will you remember to take some time to sway your body, move your feet, and sing at the top of your lungs?
Last year, our family took a vacation flying with our then, 7-month old son. We were nervous to take our first flight with our little one, but it went pretty well.
My husband and I were nervous about how our son would react to the change in pressure (thankfully, nursing helped a lot). We also wondered how diaper changes would go in a tiny plane bathroom. That ended up going okay too.
But most importantly, we had a wonderful realization on that first trip thanks to two different women who were both moms to four older children. Both women were sitting alone on our flights, but they reminded us that most people know what it’s like to travel with small children. It’s difficult, but most people are understanding because they’ve been there or ARE there, like us.
There are usually parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles who have been in a situation where a toddler was inconsolable, or an exploding diaper made it a headache to change a baby on a plane.
But from what my husband and I have observed in our travels, most people understand and are even willing to help when there is a crisis on hand. And even if people aren’t understanding, you will most likely never see these people again, and life goes on…
Needless to say, we were MORE anxious this year to take a flight with our now 1.5 year old. He’s a ball of energy, loves to move, and is always doing!
He’s not interested in television, and he’s not at the age where he would understand why he needs to sit still for a longer period of time.
With that said, we actively prepared ahead of time for our trip. Thankfully, we had a successful 3 hour flight to our destination (and back). Wahoo!
Here is what helped us have a smooth flight:
1) I Bought New Toys
No, I did not go out and spend lots of money on new toys, but I did get different toys that my son had never seen before.
With it being Easter and spring time, I bought a bunch of cheap, plastic Easter eggs at the dollar store. I then filled them with different snacks. This helped my son keep busy by opening, closing, and finding little treats inside each egg.
I also found a GENIUS idea from another blogger who had traveled with a toddler, and so we decided to try it out for ourselves. This mom suggested buying window clings. I bought a bunch of plastic-gel window clings at the dollar store. My son then used these to stick onto the plane window throughout the flight, and we also had a child’s clip-board, so he could stick them onto the clip board as well.
This was one of his favorite forms of entertainment, especially on the initial flight because it was something completely different. He also ended up using them while we were waiting in the airport on the large windows overlooking the runway.
Besides the window clings and Easter eggs, we ended up checking out some books from the library, we bought a coloring pad (which my son was not too interested in at a 1.5), and we bought some toddler Legos. My son did enjoy the toddler Legos on the plane, but the window clings and the Easter eggs were a big hit!
We did bring out tablet and ended up downloading a couple of shows and a toddler balloon popping game app. Yes, I know, the American Pediatrics Association recommends that a child not watch television or be on electronic devices until the age of 2, but life isn’t perfect and a toddler’s attention span doesn’t last very long.
As I stated before, my son doesn’t find television very interesting, so that lasted about 5 minutes, and the balloon popping game app, maybe another 5-10 minutes, so in all it wasn’t successful for us. We also purchased some toddler earmuff headphones. These can be seen in the toys first toys picture above (fox earmuff headset). The headset hooks into any electronic device. My son wasn’t a fan of them at this age, but I think they may be more useful for a future trip when he’s older.
2) We Packed Lots of Snacks
Thankfully, my son is a great traveler. But, I think it also helped that we packed plenty of snacks for him. This was a great distraction from turbulence and the discomfort that can come from take-off and landing.
My son is no longer nursing, nor is he bottle feeding, but he does drink out of a sippy cup. We filled the sippy cup with water we had purchased after going through security, and this helped unclog his ears throughout the trip. We also bought several fruit and vegetable squeeze pouches. These are a healthy and easy snack to bring along. My son would suck on the nozzle throughout the flight, and this helped his ears as well. A pacifier can also help with this.
Along with crackers, yogurt bites, and other typical toddler snacks, we also brought chocolate. My son doesn’t normally eat a ton of candy or sugar, but when he was starting to get a little fussy after going through all his toys for the hundredth time (especially on the flight back), I’m glad that we had it!
We gave him small bites of chocolate (or tried to). Chocolate does seem to get everywhere, so be prepared to have wipes on hand if you should decide to do this! I don’t regret bringing chocolate on the plane, and I will probably do so in future for our travels or some toddler-friendly candy.
3) Fly Early & Mid-Week
Now, this may not work for everyone, but we chose to fly early and in the middle of the week. This benefited our family in several ways.
For one, we had a cheaper flight by going in the middle of the week, compared to flying on the weekend or on a Monday. Also, by choosing to fly early, it allowed our son to be able to sleep in the car on the way to the airport. He was then ready to burn some energy in the airport by walking around, exploring with Mom and Dad, and playing with some toys before getting on a long flight (where he’d mostly be sitting).
Usually when flying early, it’s easier to get through airport security. Our initial flight was at 5:30AM, and our return flight was at 8:30AM. We found both of these times to work well with our child. Obviously with each family, and with multiple children, what may work for you may look different than what worked for us.
Unfortunately, my son didn’t nap on either flight, but our flight was never during his usual nap time. Plus, he usually will only fall asleep in his crib, car seat, or pack & play, so this was no surprise to us. Thankfully, since it wasn’t his nap time, he was in a mostly pleasant mood throughout both flights since he had plenty to do.
Also, since we left early in the morning and mid-week, OUR FLIGHT WASN’T FULL! We didn’t pay for a seat for our son; therefore, he had a FREE seat to himself.
We had intended for him to sit in our laps, but with the flight not being full, we were able to have him take the middle seat (in a row of 3). My husband took the aisle, I took the window, and my son was able to move back and forth between us throughout the flight.
Our little guy was even able to stand on the floor in front of the middle seat to play with his toys when the “fasten your seatbelt” sign wasn’t lit. This helped us out so much! I’m not sure if this is “allowed”, but the flight attendants did allow our son to do this on both flights, which helped quite a bit.
4) Fly Southwest Airlines
Unless you can get much cheaper plane tickets elsewhere, I would strongly suggest flying Southwest. Each person can check two bags for free, plus strollers and car seats are free to check as well.
We ended up checking our car seat immediately, but then we used our stroller until we got to the gate. It was then checked for free with our luggage, and when we immediately got off the plane, it was set-up and ready to go for us.
When traveling with little ones, there is always a lot to load up in the car and onto the baggage cart at the airport. Plus, there’s the unknown stress of not knowing how your little one may travel, and just going through airport security can be a headache. We always find Southwest to be accommodating, efficient, friendly, and inexpensive compared to other airlines.
Hopefully, if you are traveling soon, you are able to travel safely and smoothly to your destination with your little one(s). Let me know what you have used or are using to keep you baby or toddler occupied. I’d love to hear about it!
“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different…” -C.S. Lewis
“Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.” -Psalm 144:4
“So teach us to number our days so that we may get a heart of wisdom.” -Psalm 90:12
Time is Fleeting
Before having my son, the weather never really interested me that much.
I constantly wished I lived somewhere in the south (and maybe I secretly still do), but the weather was just another part of a busy day. The weather always seemed to be something that was just there. And occasionally an obstacle to my “planned” day.
But my son is fascinated by the weather and the changes outside. He wants to take the time to stare out the window and watch the rain fall. Not only that, he wants me to take him outside to feel the rain on his hands and face and watch it fall from the sky.
When it snowed, he wanted to go outside and see the glimmering white fall until it hit the snow covered ground. The texture and consistency fascinated him, and he just wanted to feel it, walk around in it, and experience it.
Today, as I write this, I reflect back on how he delighted in being outside on this beautiful spring day.
He walked around our yard and felt the trees. He walked between them, grabbed the bark, and felt the dirt around them. He wanted to walk in the grass, pick up leaves, and take in the sites of our backyard.
He wanted me to continually push him in the swing. He’d laugh and giggle, showing the eleven teeth that can now clearly be seen when he smiles.
The sense of wonder, newness, and appreciation is continually seen in his captivation with life.
My son’s experiences and sense of wonder has made me appreciate and take in the magnificence that comes with each new day. It’s continually reminding me to be thankful and to slow down, to stop thinking of what needs to happen next, and just be present.
I’m reminded that with the change in seasons, there is a change in my own life, and in my son’s life. Time is fleeting, and these moments only last so long.
It’s a new day where my baby, is now a toddler- running around our house and tackling our dog who is now smaller than my son.
It’s a new day where my son has figured out how to climb up on our couch and look out the window. (Which scares Mom!)
It’s a new day where he listens to what I say, and often understands what I’m asking, and he’ll be bring me his socks and shoes.
It’s a new day where he quietly sits and skims through the books in his room. Alone. Like a young boy who is just fine with entertaining himself without his mother present.
These God-ordained moments of time are precious and priceless. I’m reminded that time doesn’t stand still, and the days are moving forward and onward whether I’m paying attention or not.
Where is the urgency in my heart? And I don’t mean the urgency to get things done or finish my to-do list. But rather, where is the urgency to take advantage of the time I’ve been given?
I’ve only been given so many days with my son.
How will I use that time?
How will I direct his little heart to know of the love that is given to us through Jesus?
How will I live out my life so that he understands that love is more than just words, it’s actions, thoughts, and a committed daily sacrifice.
What time have I already wasted and could have used differently?
What time did I use in a way that pointed his little heart to a bigger Person than myself?
And how will I direct his little heart to one day understand that he, his parents, and everyone that he knows has a fallen nature (sin), and that Jesus is the only cure? (Rom. 7:18- 8:4)
Time is fleeting my dear child, and you must know the Truth.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” -John 14:6
Spring Reading Favorite
I have just one spring favorite. I could add more, honestly, I could! But, this one was worth posting alone. It’s life changing, and I’m so glad I stumbled across this book thanks to Jaimie Kight’s vlog.
This book, this book, this book…oh, my! I will read it again and again. I had never read a Gloria Furman book, and with this being my first, I can honestly say it won’t be the last book I read from her.
Gloria Furman is an American who moved to the Middle East with her husband and four children. Her husband has certain debilitations that have limited his physical abilities to assist his wife with the needs of their family and home.
I love that Furman shares her own experiences throughout this book. She is honest and open about her family’s struggles and triumphs, and her beautiful writing continually points back to the One that matters and IS the bigger picture- Jesus.
This book truly brought me to tears. It’s what I needed to read, and what I continually need to be reminded of as a woman and as a mother.
I found myself wanting to underline, and highlight, and underline again on almost every single page. Furman is a marvelous writer. Each chapter was concise and to the point. Nothing else was needed. I found myself in awe of how real, honest, and direct she was with each chapter.
Furman clearly wants her readers to know that this isn’t a to-do list book for mothers or a book with Biblical advice for mothers. But rather, it’s a book that shares the gospel’s essential message of Jesus’ love so that we can better love ourselves and others because we have been set free from the weight of sin. (1 Pet. 1:18-19).
The Gospel is carried throughout her writing. She holds the message of Christ as sacred and clearly wants others to know the freedom that comes in Him despite one’s hands being full in the busyness, the mundane, the chaos, the repetition, the hardships, and the joys of motherhood.
She wants her readers to see the gift of motherhood for what it is, and to show how all the aspects that encompass motherhood point back to our Savior.
There isn’t anything more I can say about this book, other than directly quoting from it. Listed below, are some of my favorite quotes from the reading.
When I view motherhood not as a gift from God to make me holy, but rather as a role with tasks that get in the way, I am missing out on one of God’s ordained means of spiritual growth in my life. Not only that, but I am missing out on enjoying God. No amount of mommy angst can compare to the misery that comes from a life devoid of the comforting, encouraging, guarding, providing, satisfying presence of our holy God.
The image of God is most gloriously displayed in Christ Jesus, who is the exact image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15). By God’s common grace, a mother’s instinct to suffer, to love, to exercise patience, to endure pain, and to work for the good of her children is a reflection of the image of God. Through the grace shown to us in the gospel, there is something distinctly Christ-like about a mother’s love for her child.
In our noble efforts to practically raise our children to grow up to be adults, we often miss something. We miss the rising sun that signals another day of grace in which God has entrusted us with nurturing his little image bearers to love and honor him first and foremost and forever.
Sometimes God uses our children to remind us of the eternal perspective that we’ve forgotten.
When you discover that you are the unworthy recipient of God’s lavish grace, you cannot help but share it with others.
The Bible describes motherhood as neither a diminishing of a woman’s personhood nor the sum of her personhood. Womanhood, ultimately, is about a different Person altogether. Likewise, motherhood is about a different Person all together. The highest aim of womanhood is not motherhood; the highest aim of womanhood is being conformed to the image of Christ. The multifaceted goal of motherhood points us in the same direction. One of the gifts of motherhood is that God uses it to trace the image of his Son onto our lives.
Her writing is beautiful, and I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to re-read this book.
If you’re looking for a book for Mother’s Day to give to an expecting mom, a new mom, or a mom with young children, this would definitely be it.
Furman, Gloria. Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms. Wheaton: Crossway, 2014. Kindle Edition.
“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” -Mother Theresa
“Love is friendship that has caught fire.” -Ann Landers
Dating My Spouse: Planning a Year of Date Nights
I love my husband.
And like many couples, we have had a difficult time planning date nights this past year because of our chaotic schedules.
Yes, there were a few occasions in the past year where we planned a small getaway or a date night. But, the date nights didn’t show up on our calendars very often. They were usually scheduled at random when we realized we had a day off together.
Reading over that, it sounds terrible to me that we didn’t put more emphasis on our quality time together this past year. Cringe!
My husband and I both value our marriage and the commitment that we’ve made before God, our family, and friends. In order for our relationship to continue to grow and flourish, we need to put in quality time and effort into it.
Thanks to watching Jordan Page’s vlog post on planning out their family’s entire year, we decided to follow suit. We sat down this past month with our calendars and planned out our year, including our date nights. Yes, date nights for a whole year!
Initially, it does sound a little crazy to actually plan date nights for a whole year. Schedules change all the time, including ours. BUT, we realized that if our date nights are on the calendar, we will value that time and make the effort to keep it in our schedules.
Our goal for this year is to plan two date nights a month.
When we initially agreed on two date nights a month, I thought it would be so easy to plan, no problem. And then as I looked at our calendar for each month, I realized just how crazy our work and family schedules can be.
Just to give you an idea of the craziness, usually when my husband is working, I’m at home with our son, and when I’m working, my husband is at home with our son.
There’s usually only a few hours within each day to where we see each other or are able to catch up. And sometimes that is nonexistent if my husband gets called in to work early, has to stay late, or there are other obligations for the day, like doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, errands, etc.
We don’t want our work schedules to get in the way of spending quality time together, and so we realized that putting these date nights on the calendar for two days a month is really needed in order for our marriage to thrive and grow.
Looking back at the month of January, I shutter realizing we didn’t have a single date night. This month flew by, and we did have some quality family time together, but the date nights were not on our schedule.
So, fittingly enough, we are starting our date nights in the month of love: February. And our goal is to continue these two date nights a month throughout 2017.
I’m looking forward to this opportunity, and I’m thankful for Jordan Page’s vlog post about this great date night-planning idea! You can check out her vlog post here.
What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. -John Steinbeck
To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. -Ecclesiastes 3:1
It’s the middle of winter, and who couldn’t use some pick-me-ups with some winter favorites? Hot cocoa, fuzzy socks, a good book…gotta appreciate the little things!
I love when I come across a blog post or a YouTube video where someone shares their favorite things for the month or season. It’s a nice surprise to come across some new products, places, activities, books, technology, etc. that might be fun to try.
My favorites for the season include…
A great book for parents who have children in athletics
The wonderful FREE activities offered at the local library
A YouTuber who is so creative and helpful in her hair tips
An adorable video taken of a Snow Day at the Oregon Zoo
Some of my favorites are not specifically winter related, but they have definitely uplifted my spirits during these cold winter months. So, without further ado, here are my current favorites for the season…
Oh, my goodness, as a coach and a mom I was thrilled to not only hear about this book through Focus on the Family, but to have the opportunity to read it.
No, my child is not quite at the age where we are engaged in youth sports (On a side note, baby swim lessons are adorable), but youth sports have been and still are a big part of my life thanks to being a swim coach.
Since the young age of six, competitive swimming has been a part of my life. As a competitive swimmer, I had many ups and downs in my swimming career. There were both physical and emotional highs and lows in the sport. But I continued through college, and loved the challenge that it brought to my life every day.
And I now have the privilege of being on the pool deck, on the other side of the sport, as a coach.
It’s such a rewarding job, where I get to help develop not only the swimmers’ strokes in the pool, but more importantly, I’m helping teach valuable life lessons and character skills that will hopefully endure throughout my swimmers’ lives.
What I really enjoy about Overplayed is that it breaks down the myths that we (parents, coaches, well-meaning adults), often believe about what’s best for a child in athletics. It looks at what our culture is telling us about athletics, and how parents and children can easily lose sight of what sports and activities are really all about.
The book gives common sense answers and questions for families to consider when discussing what’s best for the child and for the family before signing up for that travel league, high-profile sports team, or shelling out the money for all that equipment.
One chapter that I enjoyed reading, breaks down the myth that “Good Parents Attend All Their Children’s Games”. It discusses the mindset behind this thought, and how this idea is interpreted by the athlete and other family members.
One of my favorite quotes from this chapter is as follows,
When parents attend every game, family time is redefined because it becomes centered on the athlete. Children experience security when they know that the adults are the glue that holds the family together. A family that begins to revolve around an athlete, especially when there are other siblings, becomes lopsided. While we love our children, they should not rule our lives. Yes, we need to give them unconditional love and the time they deserve, but we are also responsible to take care of ourselves. It’s well known that during the child-rearing years, parents often focus their relationship on their children instead of each other. And in this season of life, when parents can’t afford to forsake their relationship, practices and games actually offer built-in time to nurture it! Skipping a practice or even a game to have coffee, go shopping, or visit a museum with your spouse will likely be more beneficial to your entire family than getting tense on the sidelines.
Another chapter I really enjoyed reading discussed the myth “My Child Should Specialize in One Sport”. A quote from this chapter that really impacted me and that I could identify with from seeing friends specialize in a sport early on in life is as follows:
Mark Messier (NHL alum and winner of 6 Stanley Cups) notes that .007 percent of kids who play hockey make it to the NHL. “If your kid is in hockey to become an NHL player, you’re missing what sports is really about. Sports is about the mental and physical and emotional well-being of the kids.” He adds, “Youth sports have got to be about the life lessons that you’re learning, the camaraderie… and the way you become good teammates.” Messier recognizes that early specialization is robbing children of what sports should be about. Age seven, he claims is not an appropriate age to begin one sport year-round. Nor is ten. He even claims that age twelve is “young”. Messier suggests age fourteen, offering, “At fourteen they’re old enough to realize themselves exactly where they want to go.”
Some of the other myths discussed in this book include, but are not limited to Because We Owe Our Children Every Opportunity, We Can’t Say No to Youth Sports, There’s No Harm in Participating in Youth Sports, and possibly my favorite, The Money We Are Investing into Youth Sports Will Pay Off.
The best part about this book is its emphasis on knowing your child. Each child is different and not every child thrives in an environment of competitive sports, leagues and tournaments where tons of money is being thrown into equipment, travel, etc.
This book emphasizes the importance of family and Christian values that should shape the decisions we make when putting our children in youth sports.
Do you have to be a Christian to read this book and find it beneficial? Absolutely not. I would find this information helpful to anyone looking at putting their child in youth sports or who have a child in youth sports.
The winter months definitely bring lots of challenges when it comes to finding things for a toddler to do, other than hang around the house.
Between my dog getting stir-crazy and my son getting fussy going through the house and playing with the same toys over and over again, this mom gets to a point of needing to leave the house for a bit!
Earlier in the summer, I had the opportunity to try out a wonderful KinderMusik class near our home. If you haven’t heard of KinderMusik, it’s a wonderful experience for children to get involved with music, song, and dance, and meet other babies, toddlers, and children, while in the process.
We had a wonderful experience. The instructor was great, and her education background was in teaching music. The other parents and their babies were wonderful as well, but the one problem I had with the class was the expense and the distance for us. The class takes place about forty minutes, one way, from our house. And that’s a lot of driving just for a little guy. Sorry, son, momma has other things to do.
The expense was also not too appealing. I love the idea of my son being around singing, dancing, and instruments, but I knew there had to be some other options.
Thankfully, we quickly discovered the Wee Read program through our local library. It’s free (well, I mean we pay taxes, so yes, I guess we do pay something), but I was surprisingly shocked with how similar it was to the KinderMusik class that cost so much.
Our librarian reads the babies and toddlers a book (please note, the babies and toddlers were welcome to move around during this time- yes, not that many sat still, unless they weren’t mobile yet). The librarian then offers a music and dance time for the kids with scarves and bubbles. And the class came to a close with a sensory-toy play time.
Each class is about thirty minutes in length, so it’s the perfect amount of time for the little ones to have some fun and wear themselves out a bit before a nap.
My little guy has gone several times, and I have to say it’s been a great opportunity to get out of the house, and for my toddler to enjoy some socialization time, and for mom to have some adult conversation.
The local library is such a great place, and I’m very thankful for librarians and the work they put into the children’s programs.
I’ve briefly talked about Kayley Melissa in a previous blog post from the summer. I love watching her hair tutorials, even though it’s hard for this mom to find time to do her hair. But, I still enjoy seeing her creativity, positivity, and great ideas year-round.
Recently, Kayley posted a great video about taking care of your hair during the winter months. Did you know silk pillows help your hair have less static? Did you know a dryer sheet in a hair brush will help quickly get rid of static in your hair? Yep, neither did I.
Feel free to watch her winter hair tips video here.
If you made it this far, congratulations! Sorry, there’s no prize, but there is a cute video.
Who doesn’t love a good snow day? At least, when we were kids, right? Check out this cute video taken at the Oregon Zoo of the animals enjoying the snow. Who knew animals could have so much fun in the snow.
Those are my four favorites of the season. Do you have any favorites that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about them!