Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Grace

"Your grace is enough. Your grace is enough for me."

These are lyrics to one of my favorite songs. I've liked this song for a long time. I can really rock to it in the car and feel close to God. But until recently, whenever I belted it out I focused more on the second part of the lyrics I quoted above - "Your grace is enough for me." Because I'm vain, egotistic, and selfish.

Then, I was blessed to go to the MOPs convention in Orlando in August. And I heard this song in a completely different way. Christi Nockels was leading us in worship through this song and as we got to the end, she riffed a little. And prayed a little. And whispered a little.

She whispered into our ears that His grace is enough for our children. And this His grace is enough for our husbands.

And I was stopped in my tracks. You mean, I'm not enough? I thought that was my role, to be enough for them. That I had to fill their needs and be perfect so they could be their best. One little whisper and my mothering world was rocked!

I was free! I no longer had to be everything to everyone. God's grace was enough for them. God's grace fills the gap that exists between my efforts and perfection.

Do you realize how amazing this is? As mothers, we do not have to do everything under the sun to ensure our children grow up to be healthy.

We don't have to ban television.
We don't have to serve salad with dinner every night.
We don't have to nurse them until they are 2 years old (but great if you do!).
We don't have to teach our children to memorize the Lord's prayer by 3 years old.
We don't have to teach them to read by 4 years old.
We don't have to make sure their clothes match every single blessed day or that every hair is in its place. 

In the end, I realized that there has to be room in their lives for God's grace to be enough... otherwise we teach them to rely on human efforts instead of supernatural movements.

What has rocked your mothering world lately?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Dinner Time Blues

I'm currently sitting at my dining room table listening to my sweet, darling, angelic Charlotte pitch a fit. This is uncharacteristic of her. But I did find it slightly amusing when she told me to "go away to bed and stay there FOREVER and ever and ever."

You see, she is not happy about our new dinner time rule - she has to eat her dinner.

A couple of weeks ago we tried a timer method because when she does it, she dawdles. Not that she has to rush, but if she doesn't have the attention span or ability to sit in her seat for 45 minutes, then she needs to finish her dinner sooner. Unfortunately, that just resulted in her not eating more than a couple of bites for dinner in the 20-30 minutes allotted to her

The girl is tiny. I don't expect her to eat a huge plate of food. I've done the research and she gets about 1/2 cup of food at dinner. I've seen the girl eat a lot more than that when she wanted too, but I try to keep her portions reasonable, especially if it is a new food or one I know she isn't crazy about.

So now, after watching hours of Super Nanny on the DVR (remember, I'm a reality TV addict), I have decided to take Jo Frost's approach. That is why Charlotte is going to stay at the table until she either finishes her dinner (potato with veggies, ham, and cheese) or it is bed time (8 pm).

Our first attempt is not going well. She has already been at the table for 45 minutes and has another 30 to go before it will be time to go upstairs and get ready for bed. Super Nanny makes it look easy, but this is no picnic.

I don't think it is asking too much for her to eat a healthy, nutritious dinner. We've let her do as she pleases for so long, but unfortunately that has left her diet filled with little other than boxed mac & cheese, lunchables, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Oh, and yogurt with fruit. That last part isn't so bad, but her diet is no longer as well-rounded as it used to be and that has to be fixed.

I'd do the sneaky chef tricks but it is hard to sneak the veggies and fruit into her chosen foods. Fortunately, she is accustomed to whole grain bread for her sandwiches and pasta.

I've threatened to give it to her for her next meal, but she doesn't eat it the 2nd time it is heated. And by the 3rd time, most food is just gross and I can't make her eat it.

We've played games with our food, all sorts of games, to try and entice her to eat. But they only work so long as we are playing them. And that isn't reasonable.

Charlotte has helped me in the kitchen. I read that kids are more likely to eat their food if they help prepare it. Apparently, they haven't met Charlotte because that has not worked in the many, many times I've tried it.

I hope this doesn't take more than a night or two to work. If anyone else out that has a different idea... I'll be needing it after that. 90 minutes of food drama is almost more than I can bear.

(Oh, and on a side note... we are doing things different with  Mary from the beginning. She happily ate her carrots, turkey, and wild rice for dinner.)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Guest Post: The Art of the Written Note

I've been talking to Abbe Mazer Lunger, the mompreneur who founded PrintArtKids, and she sent me a sample of the products they can create using your child's artwork. I was impressed with the both the quality of stationary created and the concept of using children's art to engage them in the etiquette of hosting a party. I asked her to share more about how to engage children in gratitude and how her shop works.
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In the current age of email and texting, it’s only a matter of time before the hand written note is all but forgotten. As parents, we must challenge technology by continuing to teach our children the art and importance of personalized correspondence. Involving children in the planning of their birthday parties is the ideal time to introduce them to this necessary life skill. Creating their own unique invitations, thank you notes and birthday cards using their own art is a fun activity, and will enhance both fine motor skills and creative minds. Your children will feel so proud to see their “masterpieces” celebrated and cherished by family and friends. What a great way to build their self-esteem and confidence!

A one-of-a-kind invitation, birthday card or thank-you note created by your child will become a treasured keepsake, a perfect way to document and save their clip_image002childhood creations. To create invitations for the party, have your child draw a birthday themed picture or phrase, then scan or take a photo of the art. Upload the image onto a PrintArtKids invitation template, type in the party details, and voila, your one-of-a-kind invitation is complete! Use the same birthday art or another of your child’s masterpieces to create thank-you notes and matching return address labels.
One of the most important lessons to teach a child is the importance of saying “thank you”. No child is too young to show appreciation for a gift or kind gesture. There are many creative ways for children to show appreciation. Even those who are too young to write a note can create a message of appreciation.

clip_image006One of my favorite thank-you notes came from a friend’s daughter expressing her appreciation for a first birthday gift. Laura was obviously too young to write a note or even to sign her name, but her mother, Sharon, was quite clever with how to express their appreciation. She dressed Laura in an oh-so-cute outfit and hand wrote THANK YOU in big, colorful letters on a large piece of paper. She then took a photo of Laura with the sign and created the most precious thank-you note! Thirteen years later, that thank-you note has a special place in my scrapbook.

clip_image004Postcards are another great option for invitations and thank-you notes. For invitations, use the child’s art or a favorite photo on the front, with party details on the back. For thank-you notes, a preprinted thank-you message on the back of a postcard is the perfect solution for the child who is too young to write a message, but can write their name. A fun idea is to have the child “sign” their name with a handprint! PrintArtKids also offers the option to insert two art or photos from the event to the backs of the postcards, adding another creative twist.

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A great way to involve your child in celebrating other’s special moments is to have him or her create their own unique set of custom birthday cards to send to family and friends. A birthday greeting with a child’s unique “masterpiece” is so much more creative than a generic store-bought card! Preprint a birthday message, or have your child hand write their own special wishes for their special friend or relative. What a special way to say “Happy Birthday!”

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By teaching our children the social grace and art of hand written correspondence, we are providing them with a necessary life skill that will stay with them through adulthood, a tremendous asset to possess in their future personal, social and business relationships. A simple hand-written note sent as thanks for a special gift or a good deed, or simply to say hello, is an easy, yet much appreciated gesture. It’s just the right thing to do.

Abbe Lunger, mompreneur, is the creator of PrintArtKids, an award winning web-based business. PrintArtKids transforms your kids’ art and favorite family photos into useful, one-of-a-kind treasures. www.printartkids.com

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Happy 1st Birthday Mary

My dear Mary,

You turned 1 today. I can hardly believe how fast this first year of your life gone. One year ago, right about this time, you went swimming in a big blue tub and took your first breath. Only God knows how many you've taken since then! Or how many are yet to come.

I just laid you down to sleep after a pretty rough evening. You have a cold. You just wanteeed to be in Momma's arm until you fell asleep and rolled over. While you are drifting into dream world tonight, I'm thinking about the dreams I have for your life.

Sometimes my dreams are basic, like I dream you will sleep through the night soon. Sometimes they are a little harder, that you will catch up with your peers and be discharged from therapy. But my real dreams, are so much bigger than either of these temporary ones. I dream that you will find the path God has for your life quickly... so that you don't waste any years walking away from him.

You see, as much as I love you and as much as your daddy loves you... it is nothing compared to how much God loves you. He has a plan for your life that, while unknown to us now, will undoubtedly lead to indescribable adventures and certain challenges. But don't worry, he will give you all the resources you need to face them with courage and grace.

For your first birthday Mary, it is my prayer that God will give you a mother worthy of such a special little girl. I pray that he will continue to grow me into a proper example for you of how a Godly woman thinks about the world, treats other people, worships, and brings glory to God.

Happy birthday Marykins! I love you!
Momma

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Giveaway: Chocolate Cake Club

Do you have those moments in life that just scream for chocolate cake? Those special events that need a special treat to go with them?

I recently was introduced to an online company, The Chocolate Cake Club, that can help you create those moments, to be inspired, and to have more fun even if your family is busy. They call these "Chocolate Cake Moments." Their tag line is - "Products That Make Life Easier For Busy Parents." What parent couldn't appreciate that.

And while they offer all sorts of organizational tools and things for daily life, I want to share with you something they sell that makes life easier when you are planning a party. They are called Birthday Party Entertainment Kits.

Birthday Party Entertainment Kits come with an activity that doubles as the party favor, goody bags for filling, themed invitations, themed thank you cards, a game, a party and entertainment guide, as well as one or two more things to round out the theme.

Themed kits include a Pirate Party, a Garden Party, a Fun In The Kitchen Party, as well as a Slumber Party. What makes these kits unique is that they provide the activities for the party planner so he or she doesn't have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to keep 8 kids busy and happy. You still might need to grab some themed plates and napkins to match your theme, but will all the pretty stuff included, you could stick to solid dinner ware to cut down on expenses.

These Kids' Birthday Party Entertainment Kits include items from the Melissa & Doug line, so you know you are dealing with a quality product.

If you'd like a chance to sample the Garden Party Birthday Entertainment Kit, then today is your lucky day! Sue, the president of the Chocolate Cake Club is offering one of the activity kits, a goodie bag and the birthday planning guide from the Garden Party Birthday Entertainment Kit.

How to Enter: There are five ways to enter and you can do any of them you like, for up to five entries:

1. Visit Chocolate Cake Club and leave a comment telling me which item you might like to order,
2. 'Like' Chocolate Cake Club on Facebook and then leave a 2nd comment telling me you did so,
3. Subscribe to my RSS feed or subscribe by email, and leave a 3rd comment telling me you did so, or already are subscribed,
4. Link to my giveaway on your own blog, leaving another comment with the permalink to you post, or
5. Follow Family Musings and Chocolate Cake Club on Twitter, then tweet this giveaway and leave a 5th comment with the permalink.

That's it. 5 ways to win and 1 lucky winner. This giveaway will end Saturday, September 11th at midnight. Read all contest rules here.

FTC Disclosure: I received the same item I am giving away in order to facilitate my review.

Giveaway: Sudz N Bubbles

Unique and unusual party favors are one way to make your child's party memorable. I had the opportunity to share several unique ideas at Charlotte's party. One of them was a cupcake soap that we shared as a party favor. Sudz N Bubbles makes and pre-packages these to match any party color scheme.

We had one extra to keep for Charlotte,  but she doesn't want to use it because it is so pretty. Fortunately, she doesn't want to eat it either.

These soaps are a nice way to avoid cheap dollar store toys that will break before the party is over. And they can also prevent sugar overload from giving a favor bag full of candy.  Finally, these glycerine soap products will last longer, letting the recipient remember the good time for weeks to come.

Not only can these Sudz N Bubble soap cakes be personalized by color, Cindy, the mom-preneur who founded the company, can make a custom label to go on the bottom of the cupcake package. Cindy says "Sudz N Bubbles was born out of a need for a specialized soap for my youngest son and has become a real labor of love for me. Over the years we have taken a simple white bar of soap and turned it into fun products such as pies, cupcakes, and even Sudz pops. My vision is to see this company grow from a cottage industry to a house hold name within the next few years."

We received 10 cupcakes as party favors and another 5 with red and purple packaging to give away. How to Enter: There are five ways to enter and you can do any of them you like, for up to five entries:

1. Visit Sudz N Bubbles and leave a comment telling me which soap you might like to order,
2. 'Like' Sudz N Bubbles on Facebook and then leave a 2nd comment telling me you did so,
3. Subscribe to my RSS feed or subscribe by email, and leave a 3rd comment telling me you did so, or already are subscribed,
4. Link to my giveaway on your own blog, leaving another comment with the permalink to you post, or
5. Follow Family Musings and Sudz N Bubbles on Twitter, then tweet this giveaway and leave a 5th comment with the permalink.

That's it. 5 ways to win and 1 lucky winner. This giveaway will end Saturday, September 11tht at midnight. Read all contest rules here.

FTC Disclosure: I received 10 cupcake soaps to facilitate my review.

Giveaway: Strawlution

Kid parties are often known for concluding with a big mess for the hostess to clean up. There are cake crumbs in the carpet. Little bits of paper being chewed up by the dog (or the baby if you live at my house). And inevitably, some kid decides to make a big pink stain with his juice cup right in the middle of the living room. Right?

Recently, I came across a product call Strawlution. It is a straw that goes in, but doesn't come out. That ought to foil the neighborhood brat's attempts to ruin your carpet for sure. You can use it in juice boxes, yogurt or pudding cups, or anything else that is drinkable through a straw.

I've let Charlotte use these straws when she has a drink in the car because the number one no-no for us is pulling the straw out. It works especially well with those little chug milks too that you get in the drive thru. For those extremely rare days when nothing else is available. (Was I convincing enough?)

Enough of my fast food habit... back to the straws. These work. Period. And they are dishwasher safe, BPA free, and reusable. Unless you leave them in the half-drank milk chug in the car for days. Then you should throw them away. I am just guessing on this on though. Because we don't eat food from a drive thru. Ever. (Am I protesting too much?)

This product was so neat and original to me, that I asked if I could give one away to one of you. The 12-pack means you will have enough for the typical kids party. And if you have more than 12 kids coming over for a party... I hope you hired a nanny.

The Strawlution comes in 4 colors - blue, yellow, green, or pink and cost $4.99/12-pack. If you are a subscriber, you can more read about Strawlution in the September issue of Parenting Magazine.

How to Enter: There are five ways to enter and you can do any of them you like, for up to five entries:

1. Leave a comment telling me which drink or food your kid would use a Strawlution with,
2. 'Like' Strawlution on Facebook and then leave a 2nd comment telling me you did so,
3. Subscribe to my RSS feed or subscribe by email, and leave a 3rd comment telling me you did so, or already are subscribed,
4. Link to my giveaway on your own blog, leaving another comment with the permalink to you post, or
5. Follow Family Musings and Strawlution on Twitter, then tweet this giveaway and leave a 5th comment with the permalink.

That's it. 5 ways to win and 1 lucky winner. This giveaway will end Saturday, September 11tht at midnight. Read all contest rules here.

FTC Disclosure: I received 1 pack of Strawlutions to facilitate my review.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Lots Of Winners Tonight

I had fun with the random number generator tonight and here are the winners from all of my closed giveaways:


The Sewing Loft - #90 by Jeannine

Peppers and Pollywogs - #16 by Naomie

hoops&yoyo - #36 by Brandy

Chocomize - #69 by Angie

NYC Subway Line - #57 by Julie

Cake Crystals - #78 by Melisa Bass, #68 by Heather, #37 by Sophia, #44 by Lona728, #71 by
Supreme Vision

Sassy Signs - #37 by SJT42075

DaSweetZPot - #7 by Shairbearg

Congratulations! I'll be emailing all of you shortly to get your contact information!

Birthday Bash Is Almost Over

Life sure does get busy when school starts... even for those of us who don't have school aged children. My hubby went back to work. MOPs started again. And a "new friend from China," as Charlotte calls her, moved in with us. (We are hosting an exchange student this school year.)

So that means I still have a handful of reviews/giveaways to write up. Look for those to all be posted in the next few days. The participating companies include:

Bloomin' Books
Strawlution
Chocolate Cake Club
My Punch Bowl
Monkey Monkey Music
Sudz N Bubbles
Squishy Press
Print Art Kids (review only)
Z Wind Ups

Leave an comment on this post letting me know which company you are most interested in and I'll give you an extra entry on that giveaway!