Friday, August 31, 2012

Week One: Simplifying FOOD

Simplifying Life is never easy. To hear why I chose this journey, Refer to the Beginning.

Well, I can honestly say that this week has been a bit more difficult than I thought it would be. Let me give you some examples:

Monday:  In-laws came over for dinner and didn't arrive until later than we normally have dinner. "Rule: NO Eating After 7 p.m" broken first night out of the gate. Lovely. But I cooked one of our 7 Meals for the week, so at least we were on track there.

Tuesday:  I seriously struggled with whether or not the Nutella in my cupboard was, indeed, considered "chocolate". I mean, it's hazelnut spread really. It shouldn't violate my Rule of "NO Chocolate", right? Yea. . .I didn't think I could justify it either. So I convinced the hubby to eat it as fast as he possibly could so it would stop being a temptation.  The things he does for me. . .:)

Wednesday:  All I wanted to do was grab a quick pizza for dinner. There's always so much rushing in between school and getting the kids to church and then to our couple's bible study.  A cheap "hot and ready" would really hit the spot right now, but that goes against the Rule "NO Fast Food", so I came home and made our cheeseburger macaroni meal that was planned. And wouldn't you know, we were still on time for everything.

Thursday:  I ran out of bread. This is not something that should be allowed during this whole 7 experiment since all I can have for lunches is sandwiches or protein shakes. In order to avoid breaking my Rule "ONLY ONE shopping trip per week", I improvised and made us turkey wraps with tortillas instead of turkey sandwiches. Same diff.

As you can see, I'm struggling a bit with the boundaries that I've set up for myself.  I've also had to answer a bunch of questions as to why I can't have this or that or why I've made up these rules for myself. Most of my answers include the phrase, "As a means of fasting. . .and just to see if I can pull it off".  Really, it's causing me to do the one thing that I set out for it to do.  This whole process is making me extremely aware of the fact that I'm very used to food being readily available and at my disposal.  I realize how often I eat without really putting a lot of thought into what I'm eating.  I'm coming to grips with the fact that food is a means of security for me.  It's my comfort.  In turn, I'm really learning how to cope with the stresses of daily life without using food as a crutch.  As something I can reach out to when I'm bored or vulnerable.  I'm learning that I've seen food as a hobby, something that I do socially, and something that is meant to be enjoyed and not what it really is--nutrition.  I've removed the convenience of food by doing this experiment. It's no longer something that I can do without thinking. At least for the duration of these three more weeks.

I will say that I have focused so much on myself this week and what I could not have because of the rules that I have set for myself. This was not my intention and I really hope as this fast continues, my focus will move from food to inner change.  I pray it will bring me more to a place of thankfulness for what I have.  And I pray it will bring me closer to God. I feel like this turning point is just around the corner. I so want for this time of surrender will bring me to a place of hunger for God that I've not known for some time. I know Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days. Even HE fasted, in order to get closer to the Father, to get closer to God. I want that hunger. I want to turn every stomach growl into a reminder to pray.  I want for every craving to remind me that I need to physically crave Jesus more and more as well. I want to leave this four weeks of fasting in the food department  full of God.  After Jesus' fast, He then began healing, rescuing, and redeeming.  The Spirit filled up the emptiness Jesus created, launching Him into ministry.  In some supernatural way the abstinence from food was the catalyst that Jesus needed.  Never again would Jesus fly under the radar.  His powerful ministry was activated after His fast from food. After thirty years on earth, His story truly began.

"He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them, he was hungry." (Luke 4:2)

I want to be that hungry.

Here's to three more weeks!

Want to hear what I learned in Week Two? 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

15 TV-Free Activities for Kids

Am I the only one who's kindergartner comes straight home from school to his iPod and checks completely out?  Or tunes into Disney and is immediately hypnotized for the rest of the afternoon? . . . .I knew it was just mine. He's obsessed with technology and the over stimulation that it provides. I'm so thankful that he's in school all day now, and forced to stretch his mind and engage with others. Sometimes he likes to escape into his own shell under the cover of technology and not come up for air for hours. I can't help but believe that he's missing out on childhood. Running and jumping and skipping and hiking and playing. Unfortunately, this is all my fault.  It's also something that I am trying desperately to change. In doing so, I've comprised a cute little list of afterschool activities that I think may occupy his time and encourage more active play without the help of the technology. Here's some FREE ideas that steer clear from the TV or iPod:
 Take A Walk
We're lucky to have sidewalks in our neighborhood and a park right 
around the corner. The last time we took a walk, Mr. Grouch
 complained that he was exhausted after we were just a few houses 
down the road. This signaled to me that he is most 
definitely not active enough.  Or he's lazy.  Both are possibilities. 
But taking a walk every few days after school will get him outside,
 in the fresh air, and hopefully create a new sense of exploration for him.
Declare a Family Pillow Hop
This is something my boys love to do.
Gather a bunch of pillows from around the house and 
set them up on the living room floor.
The name of the game is to never touch the floor!
Ready, set, HOP!
Have A Picnic Snack
My boys love to eat outside. And because of their constant
ability to get everything they eat ALL OVER THEM,
I love that they love to eat outside as well.
Take a fun snack and cop a squat in the backyard
or take a blanket to a local park and let them 
enjoy it in the sunshine.  There's no distractions
and I might even pull out of Grouch what all he 
did at school that day. Here's hoping! 
The Goldfish Game
Most moms have goldfish in the house. Isn't this a staple food?
If not, I apologize. Go out and get some and repent
for your naivety into all things parenthood. 
Most also have eggs, therefore, egg cartons are inevitable.
Use both to create this cool game that doubles as a snack!
Use a marker and write numbers in the bottom of each
egg carton space and give your little monster a handful
of fishies. Let them count out the right number
of fish into the designated spaces. 
So we're continuing to academically stimulate after school. . .
I doubt they will notice. 
Board Games
If he's not watching TV, Mr. Grouch wants to play Candyland.
It's constant. It's such a fun game for him.
Of course, I have to let him win most of the time. 
Many board games encourage group play
and teach kids how to be happy whether they win or lose.
(we're working on this. . .)
Guess Who, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, etc
are always a good time!
Magnetic Tunnel
Take a bunch of old toilet paper rolls and color them fun colors.
Attach them to your fridge using the magnets that you have.
Race a car down your tunnel, or drop a marble or cotton ball.
Rearrange the rolls for different tracks.
Take a Library Break
My boys love to go to Barnes and Noble.
There are plenty of reading nooks and things to look at.
They love books and I'm taking full advantage of this.
If there is not a bookstore, visit the local library.
Mix/Match Mr. Potato Game
If you ever visit my place, don't be surprised to find
an extra nose or arm underneath the couch cushions.
Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head parts are all around.
Here is a fun game to play with them,
(once I round up all the pieces, of course!)
Take pictures of the potatoes dressed up different ways.
Use these as "keys" for the kiddos to copy.
They will enjoy sitting down and trying to replicate
the photos. Good times.
Build A Blanket Fort
This is one of our favorite activities, as you can tell above.
My children love to steal every single blanket from every
corner of the house in order to build a bigger fort than the one before.
We build ours in the living room and they think it's hilarious
when Mom climbs in with them.
This is a good rainy day activity as well!
Alphabet Egg-Stravaganza
What mom doesn't have a surplus of Easter eggs at any given time?
Well, not this one! I'm going to dig out the bags that I've stored
and put them together for a game they can use year-round.
My kindergartner is learning all about letters,
capital and lower-case.
Here, he can learn to match the letters up and do a
little practice at home afterschool!
Make Snack Necklaces
We like to do this right before we go on a little walk.
I use regular yarn or fishing wire for the string
and let them thread some of their favorite treats on their own.
Fruit Loops, Cheez-its, Pretzels, Apple Jacks,
Marshmallows, etc. work great and make for
a easy healthy activity and snack!
The Clothespin Spelling Game
We have a stash of clothespins from forever ago that we had
nothing to do with so we are going to make this fun learning tool.
Write a different letter of the alphabet on each clothespin.
Then let them coordinate their pins to index cards with
vocabulary words on it. Another great one for my
kindergartner.
Get Your Rock On
My hubby is a part time musician.
Some of the tendencies that these little monsters of mine have
to make constant noise is genetic.
I reign them in by turning on MY favorite songs FULL BLAST
and we all dance around with our instruments pretending
we are the ones putting on the concert.
This activity really helps when you just can't stand one more minute
of their voices or bickering. Make sure the volume is up
all the way, take a few moments to tune them out, and then
Viola! Good fun for them and a 2.5 minute break for Mom!
Park Play
Parks are easy. Parks are fun. Parks are FREE.
It's as simple as that.  And when you have kiddos who just
need to run off a little steam (or YOU need to run off a little
steam. . .) this is the cure all. I hope wherever you live, there
is one around every corner like there is here.
I'm not sure what I would do if I didn't have this go-to activity.
Recruit a New Cook
I used to try so hard to keep my kids occupied while I cooked
dinner only to have no luck. Now, I've recruited help.
Most of the time, they love the idea of climbing up in a chair
and helping stir the spaghetti or mashing the potatoes.
I'm trying to get these boys of mine ready to cook a romantic
meal for their wives someday!  We're on the right track!

Okay, so these are the ideas that I've had thus far. Obviously, I could use a TON more. Having kids in today's society is hard enough, much less keeping their noses out of every form of technology that seems to try to drag them away. I want my kids to be present. To make friends. To have fun. To play outside and get dirty. To explore and learn and make believe. I know you all are with me! So let's hear it. . . .what are some of your ideas for afterschool activities that are TV-free?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Simplifying


We've all felt the clutter of life at one time or another. I think that it comforts us to a certain degree. Having more "stuff" makes us feel secure, distracted, and accomplished.  I've truthfully never been very materialistic. Stuff doesn't mean very much to me. Just ask my husband in the way that I take care of my mess of a car, continuously pile clutter in every corner of my house, and resolve to the fact that we will never have super nice furniture because we have kids. I'm okay with it. To a certain extent, I've been a horrible steward of my stuff. I should take better care of what I'm given/what we afford. I've just always had a very "disposable" mentality about stuff. It's here today, it's helpful, if it breaks/is stolen/goes through the ringer, it's okay. It's all disposable and we will just get something else. I trick myself into thinking that my stuff does not own me.  Maybe it doesn't. But my perspective on my stuff does. Just because I don't cling to my stuff, doesn't mean I don't take it for granted. I'm not concerned with it being gone, because "out with the old, in with the new". Do you struggle with this? Or do you hold on to your possessions as if they define you? 

Enter the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker and my life is wrecked. 

Well, great. 

I was scrambling to find interesting books to read on our vacation to South Padre Island last week.  Remember, it was a grueling 13 hour car ride one way and I needed something to distract me in the car as well as on the beach. Boy, did I find something worthwhile! Well, little did I know at the time (God sure knew at the time!  He’s so sneaky) that this simple-looking book carried a BIG message.  A message that would stick with me all vacation.   


I wonder how many people have sat at a beautiful ocean condo pool and read a book about EXCESS?  It sounds awfully ironic – doesn’t it?  Well…for me, it just didn't set right. And since I've started it (and many months leading up to this as well) things didn't seem right for us as a family. Don't get me wrong, we were enjoying a beautiful week on the beach, thanks to a gift from my parents and were oh, so thankful for this time. We have been blessed more than just about anybody, but our souls have been unsettled for some time about the lifestyle/world we live in. 

Yes, that photo above is me being convicted in South Padre and naturally I posted it on Instagram (Yes, I like Instagram…sue me!) The caption should have read, “Not an easy book to read while on vacation.  Try reading it at the pool…in your ocean condo…while your kids argue about cable TV stations.”  It did feel wrong.  I was so spoiled at that moment.  No, it wasn’t wrong to go on vacation.  Actually, it was an amazing free blessing/gift to our family and we are humbled by the love that has been shown to us.  It just wasn’t an ideal place to read about excess. Not at all.  We just have so much stuff and are so selfish.  Don’t you ever get tired of how greedy we have become?  It seems like the more we get  -  the more we THINK we need.  We feel like we DESERVE it all.  It’s a terrible cycle and I am ready to get off.  Something definitely has got to give.  I soaked in each word and let it simmer in my mind and heart.  This stuff isn’t new but Jen Hatmaker did something about it.  She put feet to her words.  I spilled my many thoughts and feelings to Hubs.  He probably thought that this was just “one of those books” and I would be fine in a few days.  But he was wrong.  The earlier simmer has come to a full blown boil.  Well, do you know what is next?  I will not just be another woman who simply reads this book and says that it’s a “life changing” book.  I want to do.  I want to act.  I want to be wrecked to the point of change.  Reading isn’t enough for me.  This has shaken me to the core.  It’s official.  I don’t want to be comfortable anymore.  It’s been coming.  God has been working. And now, more than ever is the time to step out and do something about the culture that we've been living and consuming in as a family. 

I've decided to devote the next seven months to this experiment that Jen Hatmaker outlined in the book.  She focuses on seven areas of excess in a person's life, and dissects each, choosing a way to fast, so to speak, from each area. The 7 areas are: Food, Clothes, Possessions, Media, Waste, Spending, Stress. Everyone is different, every family's needs are not the same, and everyone finds their life "excess" to be different.  I will not be conquering 7 the same way that Jen does. I will be making minor modifications so that this time of reflection and fasting really resonates with us specifically. And I'm not gonna lie, I'm making modifications because Jen is a HERO in the fasting department and there is no way that I could actually pull off some of the stuff she has come up with! So I will improvise. Bare with me. :)

Before you start thinking that I am a radical or that this is just yet another one of my things. This is not just a social experiment.  This is a grasping for the new life God has for us as a family. For that, and two main reasons, I'm pursuing this time of fasting. The first and foremost is repentance.  7 will be a tangible way to bow low and repent of greed, ungratefulness, ruined opportunities, and irresponsibility.  It's time to admit that I'm trapped in the machine, held by my own selfishness. It's time to face our spending and call it what it is: a travesty.  I'm weary of justifying it.  So many areas are out of control, so much need for transformation.  What have we been eating?  What are we doing? What have we been buying?  What are we wasting?  What are we missing?  These questions grieve me, as they should and I'm ready for some deconstruction in my life. 

The second reason is for preparation.  Most of my life is in front of me. I'm only 30 years old and only 5 years into my assignment as a mother.  The bulk of my life-work lies ahead of me. My children are young--still entirely impressionable.  It's not too late to untether them from the lie of "more".  Our new mission as a family is really just beginning.  I'm hungry of the reconstruction of something so much bigger than ourselves. 

This whole thing is so WEIRD. Really, it's okay to think I'm becoming one of those Christians. But in the words of our pastor, "I welcome WEIRD. Normal isn't working anymore." It's not. I'm sure that most of Jesus' ideas werent' so popular either.  I'm convinced that He got the "I-thought-you-were-normal-but-now-I-see-I-was-clearly-wrong" face plenty of times. He seriously knew how to thin out a crowd.  He always gunned for less, reduced, simplified.  He was the most fully and completely unselfish, ungreedy, unpretentious man to ever live, and I just want to be more like Him.  It's as simple as that. If limiting myself of my favorite things for 7 months can help Jesus overcome me, then so be it.  I'm okay with an oddball label. 

This first month, I will focus on food.  I've picked only 7 meals that our family will eat for the entire month. We may get tired of these 7 meals, but we will cling to the fact that this is all we have to eat. Shouldn't be too hard, right? Well, you are correct. With kids, there are only so many meals that they will eat anyway, so I thought I'd better step this up a knotch, at least for me.  I've also added 7 rules for myself in the food department that may cinch the line in a bit and really make the fast this month more uncomfortable. These 7 extra Food Rules Are: *NO Fast Food.  *NO chocolate.  *NO pop/soda.  *NO alcohol.  *ONLY ONE grocery trip per week.  *NO Pork.  *NO EATING after 7 pm. 

I'm starting this first phase this Monday (TODAY!).  Every Friday, I'll give a summary on the blog as to how it is going and what kind of spiritual/emotional knowledge I am gaining from this time. In the meantime, I HIGHLY recommend you go buy/borrow the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker. Eye-opening, I tell ya! And very motivating if you are in a place where you are seeking God to do something NEW in you! Wish me luck, folks!! 

Now excuse me.  I must go have my morning coke, chocolate pop-tart, mimosa, cup of water. :)

Follow my journey to 

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Little of Dis, A Little of Dat


I realize that I just got back from vacation, but my mind is REELING. Unlike most family holidays, this one proved to give me some much needed "think-time" out on the beach to reflect, observe, listen, and decide some nagging life quandaries that I've been dealing with lately. Things may start to take a couple of different turns here on the old bloggity-blog.  Don't get your panties in a wad, I will inevitably be consistently sarcastic and cynical at times.  I'm not sure how to live my life not seeing the ironic and humor in the daily grind. But there are some things that my soul is sorting out, and I find it necessary to PURGE that on my viewing audience. My apologies. :)

For one, I am starting a new blogging experiment in conjunction with a book I am reading. I picked up 7 by Jen Hatmaker and I can already see my wheels turning and my perspective changing.  I'm on Chapter One and the conviction has set in. I know that I (along with many others) feel the constant burden of EXCESS & WASTE in our lives. I can walk in my little ones bedroom and am overwhelmed with guilt. Toys line the floor and walls and spill out over the designated toy boxes.  Their closet is another realm entirely. There are so many articles of clothing, that I have run out of room to hang, thus creating mounds and mounds of outfits lining the shelves as well. It's pretty pathetic. Some would say, at least you are not in need, to which I would reply, yet everyday, one of us thinks we need something new. Good gracious, the CRAP is abounding. Not only are we not in need, and not only do we have MORE than enough, we have WAY. TOO. MUCH. Here's a small peak into our situation:
Pay no mind to the naked toddler. As if he has no clothes to wear!
I'm realizing that stuff and clothes are not the only two categories where we are living in excess. I feel the sense of dissatisfaction every time I open the kitchen cupboards to see mountains of food I'm "not in the mood for. . .". You know you've all been here. There's nothing to eat! you say after just returning from the grocery store with a $200 receipt. What do we do?. . .let's order out, or swing thru the drive-thru. I'm not in the mood to cook tonight.  SPOILED. BRATS. You know we are. There are starving people in Africa, you know!? Isn't that what our mom's and grandmas used to say?  It's true though. Millions of people around the world will go to bed with less than a cup of plain rice in their bellies from the entire day. Makes our PB&J's sound a bit more sufficient. 

All this to say, I'm starting a new family experiment based on this inspiring book. For the next 7 months, I will take on a mind-set of SIMPLIFYING. I'll focus on 7 different areas of life and will write about how the fast is going at the end of every week. Stay tuned for that. 

I've also decided to start focusing more on the empowerment of parents. I can be real honest and say that I didn't have the best of the best in the parental department. My mom and dad struggled, to say the least. I love them dearly, but dysfunction was the name of the game in our household. There was a lot of manipulation, anger issues, depression, lack of spiritual guidance, divorce, selfishness, emotional/mental/physical abuse (at times) and an overall theme of survival growing up. I'm thankful for some of the ways that the past has grown me through the years, despite some of the turmoil and heartache. The one thing that resounds in my heart about it all is that history inevitably repeats itself. You give what you get, you teach what you're taught. Not in my family.  I realize my parents didn't have the best teachers themselves. They didn't have an outlet or a community of parents all doing it together. They didn't have a place to go to vent and/or receive advice or help. Believe me, I am not saying that this blog can be that outlet. Lord knows I consistently do it ALL wrong most of the time!  Just read any one of my posts to figure that out! Ha! But I hope to be able to offer some tips that I'm picking up along the way that are reshaping the way I parent. Some been-there-done-that-and-totally-screwed-it-up moments for others to gleam experience from.  And I am meeting a whole slew of peeps along the way, a community, so-to-speak that are constantly speaking words of life into me as a parent that I can hopefully pass along. A HUGE influence for me recently has been a friend of mine's blog EpicParent.  I've guest-posted over there some, and hope to be more involved in the future. I'd like my pitfalls as a wife, mother, and woman, in general, to be used to better others. So expect some more exploitations of my embarrassing moments, hopefully with an added lesson mixed in as well! 

For now, I'll just bide some time with you guys by giving you a glimpse of our family vacation. Enjoy!
First time at the ocean!

We be stunnin.

Daddy and Mr. Stinky Pants

The boys LOVED the ocean! I may have future surfers on my hands!

Highlight of the trip for the kiddos....feeding the seagulls! They even named their two favorites--Cantelope and Pancake.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Hello, My Name is "Mom". I Will Be Your Referee Today.

For the first two years of my parenting career, I had a single child. He was a great child and I loved him dearly, but I always regretted that he was an only child. Until I had more children. Just one more.

Dear hades, the bickering.

It seems that there is always someone getting their feelings hurt, someone is forever taking a toy that another is playing with, playing a game that the other does not want to play, yet the other is insisting on playing with the first.

My children have NO social skills.

There is a large chunk of my day that is spent arbitrating disputes, mediating offenses and disciplining wrong-doers. I am judge, jury and MMA referee. I hate these jobs. Hate. Them. At some point, I lose my frickin' mind and my patience snaps like an overloaded rubber band. At that point, my children are united in their terror as I deposit them in separate corners and forbid any communication.

FYI, that never works.

Something else that doesn't work is the saying "Do as I say, not as I do".  For I've noticed that it's super difficult for me to preach to the "Pants" family that arguing is inappropriate when they hear me bickering with their "Aunt Sissy" on the phone about something as ridiculous as who's hot rollers were left at our moms. "I'm NOT going to take them home because they AREN'T MINE!". . .thus the arguing insues. . .the snide remarks, the (slight) name-calling, and the bossiness.  Shame on me.

Titus 2:7 resounds in my brain on those stellar parenting failures: 
"In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity. . ."

Thus, the realization forms that my referee skills need to be second to my walking example.  But the sibling rivalry continues. . .and out comes my whistle.

 There are times, however, when the disputes becomes so ridiculous that I can do nothing but laugh. Because when my children are arguing over whether one of them "killed" the other and Mommy is going to call the policeman? That's some funny stuff. Stinker, I will avenge your death with a fiery...um...fire, but if you can tattle about it, it sort of undermines your claim.

"Mommy,  Noah killed me!"

"Buddy, if you can talk, you probably aren't dead."

"Yes I AM!" And he falls to the ground with a tremendous groan, tongue hanging out of the side of his mouth. He then cracks an eye and asks, "See?"

So I had a long talk about why we don't "kill" people and how we need to play nicely. And then I tickled them into submission. I find tickling to be an underrated discipline tool. Which may be why my children continue to bicker, tattle and commit murder in their hearts. And why Mr. "Thinks-He-Wears-The-Pants" remains ever-positive that we are DONE having children.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

This Just In!

If you are new to the Miss Banana Pants scene, you should know 3 things about me. . .first, my kids drive me crazy. This is a "deliriously-happy-yet-tear-my-hair-out kind of crazy". I love them. This is obvious. But sometimes I need to be 500 yards away from them or I may duct tape them to a wall. Why? Because they are curious. . .about EVERYTHING. The questions ABOUND. Raising a five-year-old is like playing a daily game of 20 Questions. . . .6,578,923 times in a row. I know that I have been put here to teach, instruct, guide, and foster their growing mind and love for learning. But sometimes their curiosity is JUST. TOO. MUCH. I don't have all the answers. I don't know what to say! Secondly, you should know that I love facial hair. My husband uses this fact against me and sports a healthy growth of scruff to tempt me on a daily basis. I will admit that men everywhere know my secret as well. If you see a boy with a little afternoon shadow walking around Wal-Mart in Edmond, Oklahoma, just know he's doing it on purpose to try to catch my eye. I will not buckle under pressure. I will remain faithful to my first love. (Swoon) What does this have to do with anything?. . .well, it brings me to the third thing that you should know about Miss Banana Pants. . .I have an extreme heart for parenting parents. You see, all kidding and sarcasm aside, I didn't have the best parents myself. My dad had a mustache (probably contributed to my affection for facial hair later in life) But really. . . Who's were perfect?! Sometimes (almost daily) growing up, I would wonder what in the world God was thinking when He paired me with such a dysfunctional home-life. I had so many questions, so much I wanted to know and be taught, and my parents were too wrapped up in their own drama and the turmoil that comes with a nasty divorce to recognize that I needed TEACHERS. I needed someone to mirror, to look to for teenage advice about boys and life and God, and so many times, I was left to experiment and find all the answers by myself. I don't want my boys to have this dilemma. I want to be there for their incessant questions. And more than that, it's my desire to ultimately help other parents get to that place where they realize the amazing responsibility that they have right in front of them. Parenting. What a hard job. . .especially as they get older, and the questions turn from superheroes to sex, drugs, and rock & roll (well, maybe I'm looking forward to the questions about rock & roll. . .)

My good friend, Chris Spradlin who blogs over at EpicParent shares this same passion! His website provides ALL KINDS of relevant parenting advice and tips from someone who knows and is walking this road with us! He's put together an E-Book (HIS FIRST) that is just plain AWESOME and I just had to share it with you!!


Why should you read it?
  • According to research from Family Safe Media, the largest group of viewers of Internet porn is children between ages 12 and 17.
  • In 2001, a study by social psychologists at the London School of Economics showed that 9 out of 10 children (ages 11 to 16) had viewed pornography on the internet.
  • National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl.com reported that 20% of teens overall have sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves.
  • According to the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey:  47.8 percent of High School students are having sex.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services  found that 30 percent of 15- to 17-year-old girls had experienced sex.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services reports that 13 percent of girls and 15 percent of boys have had sex before the age of 15.
  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that by the age of 20,  nearly three fourths of all teens have had sex.
  • The Centers for Disease Control reports that 70 percent of teenagers ages 15 to 17 have engaged in oral sex.
NUFF SAID!
You can download it HERE. 

As if you can't just take my word for it. . .here is a little sneak peak into what this who e-book is about. . . .

SAMPLE EXCERPT FROM SEX, LUST, & XXX

For several years I lived in the snow globe winter wonderland known as Steamboat Springs, a ski resort in Colorado. This is a town where the marching band “marches” in cross country skis, businesses open late when there are eighteen or more inches of fresh powder, and dogs have more rights than people.
For years I was on staff at Euzoa Bible Church, situated in the “Beverly Hills” area of Steamboat Springs. The property that Euzoa sat on would absolutely blow your mind: Thirty acres in the mountains, epic pine trees that stretch to the clouds, a spring-fed pond where we played ice hockey in the winter, and foxes, owls, porcupines, moose, and black and cinnamon bears. In fact, I’ve had more than my fair share of frightening, wet-my-pants encounters with these bears. But that comes with the territory.
My oldest son, Cole (a.k.a. Coletrain, a.k.a. Train), was once sitting on the pier that stretches over Euzoa’s pond. He had just tugged his shoes off, taking a moment to contaminate the pure water with his nasty junior high boy feet, when suddenly he spotted a huge, monster-headed, cinnamon bear heading his way. Cole jumped up, thrust his chest out, stood on his very tippy toes, stretched his arms to the sky, stared the bear down, and started praying his guts out as loud as he could.
Even if you don’t know much about bears, you probably realize that this approach is not recommended for bear scaring. But I hadn’t led Cole through his official Team Sprad “What to do when you encounter an eight-foot bear when Dad’s not around” course yet. I guess Train was just hoping that this Goliath would feel (and smell) the Mighty Wrath of Cole and hightail it back into the woods. But I’ll tell you the rest of this little episode later…
Another time several years ago, I was out at the Euzoa Church property, burning a little midnight oil trying to get some work done. When I finished, I walked out the front door of my office only to be greeted by a monstrous black bear standing right in front of me. When this twenty-foot-tall beast saw me, he reared up on his tree-trunk hind legs, raised his two-foot-long claws into the air, bared his ninja-sword fangs, started thrashing his bulldozer head around, and let out a deafening growl that cracked the earth beneath him. (And worse, he got his slobber all over me.)
At that moment, I may have wet myself…just a little bit.
So we were standing there, face to face (or I guess, more like face to bellybutton) and time stood still. And then, in that slow-motion moment, I pulled up my Daniel-san Karate Kid crane technique from the Eighties. I raised my arms, lifted my left knee, and then let it drop it–BAM! He never saw it coming. I kicked that giant bear square in the gut with my right foot, knocking the fight clean out of him!
No? Okay. Then try this one:
I screamed like a seven-year-old girl and darted back into my office, slamming the door behind me. Then I crouched, shivered, and cried under my desk for what seemed like at least an hour.
I don’t remember exactly. It was pretty dark that night. But it was one of those two outcomes.
Parents, there is a monstrous, eight-foot bear looming over your kids, poised to devour them!
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.” –John 10:10a
Mom and Dad, this bear’s name is Satan, and he is a destroyer! He has deadly claws and fangs that rip flesh, and he is hovering over your kids. If you don’t act, he will steal your daughter’s virginity! If you don’t DO something, he will steal your kids’ innocence! He will kill their relationship with Jesus! He will kill their purity! And he will destroy their lives!
We live in a world today that is saturated with Lust, Sex, and Triple XXX. And it is OUR responsibility to protect our kids’ hearts.
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” –Proverbs 4:23
It is our job–no, it is our great privilege–to guard, surround, protect, stand up for, and fight for our kids’ hearts.
Throughout this ebook, I’m going to share with you expansions on stories and ideas that I’ve written during the last couple of years. I am passionate about helping parents just like you cultivate purity in your family–even in this sex-saturated world.
Okay, so go get your copy! Again. . .you can download it for FREE HERE. If your kiddos are small, as mine are, get it and file it away for the future! Someday, those questions about Dora the Explorer and Sponge Bob will turn to the opposite sex, God, and what all this "sex stuff" is about. . .Be prepared! 
Happy Wednesday, folks! 

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Post That's Going Nowhere. . .

As you read this, my familia grande is headed to the beautiful beaches of South Padre Island, TX. Be very jealous!  This is our first beach vaca as a whole family and we decided to take the grandparents as moral support. Okay, really, they invited us, and we accepted the offer of an amazing condo on the beach with promises of a view to die for and some "private time" for me and the Mr. while we're there.  How could we say No!?

Did I mention that we're "road-tripping" it? This is also a first. Two toddlers in a car for 13 hours one way may just be the death of us all, but we started praying for peaceful travels about a week ago and I invested in really trendy zebra print duct tape as a last resort. No seriously.  I wouldn't do that, but what I have done is extensive research in how (Pinterest/Google/Mommy Bloggers everywhere) advise on keeping wee monsters busy in the car for that long without major meltdowns. Another post will outline how exactly that worked out for us. My fingers are crossed. Twice. Start sending prayers our way! I'm not entirely ecstatic about being in the car that long myself, so I'm hoping that I don't have the hubs drop me at a random rest area a quarter of the way there. . .

Speaking of Pinterest and other Bloggers (we were talking about them right? I can't seem to keep up with my own thoughts today. . .) Have I mentioned in awhile that I have another blog as well? I'm going to be honest, I'm not as witty and hilarious over there.  It's about going From Couch Potato to Marathon Mom in less than a year.  I'm not gonna blow smoke your way, folks. . .it's not looking good. Mainly because it's 118 degrees everyday here in Oklahoma and the wind is not "sweeping down the plains" lately. It's hotter than Hades, and that's an understatement.  Who wants to run in that shaz?! Not this mama, I'll tell ya that much! But if you like learning an ametuer's tips and tricks for leading a healthy lifestyle, or just think it would be mildly entertaining to hear all about me tripping over my shoelaces every other day, then check it out. Really. . .right now.  Tell me your thoughts. . .I'll wait for your return.  I have nothing better to do with my time tonight. . .

Except maybe child wrangle. That's right, it's 9:30 p.m. and my children are still awake. Can I hear all you "perfect mothers" GASP?!  First of all, how in the heck do you do it? If you truly exist. . .these moms that I hear of that keep their little ones on a strict schedule and put them to bed promptly at 7:30 p.m. and cuddle up next to their love on the couch for some peaceful grown-up time. . .the idea is so elusive to me. Like Bigfoot.  (Speaking of which, have any of you seen the show Finding Bigfoot??? Show of the year, I tell ya!)  Back to why my rugrats are still up and going strong. . .their parents are big screw-ups and our need for an afternoon nap at 4:00 p.m. won out over keeping our precious duo's routine in check so ALL OF US slept til 7:00 p.m.  I have a feeling it will be a long evening. We also happen to be enjoying pizza and breadsticks for dinner. At 9:30 p.m. Sometimes you can just tell that someone is looking at you and thinking, "How in the world did any hospital let them take these children home?" and to that I say, "Good question. I have NO idea." We're winners.

So the point of this post (I promise that there was one to begin with) was to mirror so many of these bloggers "Get To Know Me" posts.  The ones where you tell everyone everything that they never really wanted to know about you in the first place.  I realized that I've never done one of those. And I'm not even sure who started the whole idea, so here is me giving credit and linking up to Anonymous Brilliant Mommy Blogger whose idea this was in the first place. You can thank them when you realize that you now know more about me than you ever wanted to know.

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? 
Nope, not that I'm aware. My dad said "Let it be" and my mom didn't argue.  I think they did alright. I can think of a LOT worse than Miss Banana Pants --Okay, really it's Michelle Nicole, but same diff.


2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? 
Probably the last time that my in-laws told us they would take the kids for the whole weekend. Or when my 3-year-old went #2 in the potty chair. It's a close one. 


3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? 
I seriously have amazing handwriting.  I wish you could all see it. You would be so incredibly jealous.  I attribute it to the many years I was in cheerleading and forced to practice doodling "GO BRONCOS" in giant bubble letters. 


4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT?
I've always had a hatred for lunch meat.  Mainly because I don't do edges on things. It's a texture thing.  Can't stand the way it feels in my mouth. I realize that I'm odd. But since you are forcing me to choose, I'd say turkey. Edge-less.


5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? 
I have two adorably mischevious boys. Noah Scott--Mr. Grouchy Pants is 5 and starting kindergarten this year (Hallelujah!) and Micah Benjamin--Mr. Stinky Pants is barely 3 and leading us on a heckova potty-training adventure.


6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON, WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? 
Absolutely.  But I'd be a bit annoyed at me at times. I can be irritatingly witty and humorous and possibly make all my friends seem boring in comparison. I'm also super humble. The whole package, folks. 

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? 
Never. That's ridiculous.


8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? 
As a matter of fact, I do.  I also still have my toes, tongue, wisdom teeth, gallbladder, and hoo-ha. Some of these questions. . .why would anyone even care. Moving on. 


9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?
Not if you paid me a million zillion dollars. The feeling of falling for me rates right up there with the desire that I have to allow 10 giant tarantulas crawl on my naked body. 

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? 
If I were to be honest with you, I would say Reeses Peanut Butter Puffs.  But since I'm trying to make you (and myself) think that I'm on a healthy lifestyle kick, I will say Special K Vanilla Almond Flakes.  That's my final answer. 

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? 
I try pretty hard to not wear shoes. And when I do, it's flip flops 99% of the time. Come to think of it, I don't remember tying or untying shoes in years. 

12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? 
Physically, I'm working on it . Emotionally I’m a Rock of Ages.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? 
Probably Strawberry. I like pink things. 

14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? 
Whether or not they are smiling. And whether or not they have facial hair.  If you're a guy, this is a GREAT thing.  If you are a girl. . .NOT so much. 

15. RED OR PINK? 
Underwear? Socks? Bow Ties? Be a tad more specific people. 

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? 
My second child was ripped from my body through a very attractive incision just below my belly button.  I show it to everyone. It's the highlight of my battle wounds. Nah, really, it sucks and I hate it. I will probably never wear a bikini again and this brings great grief to my heart. 

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? 
I have to say, in all seriousness, my grandma.  She was the crankiest, most sarcastic, yet loving women I've ever met. I like to think that I recieved all of her greatest attributes. 

18. WHAT'S THE FIRST THING THAT YOU THINK ABOUT IN THE MORNING?
Food. And whether or not I should go for Peanut Butter Puffs or Special K. 

19. WHAT COLOR SHOES ARE YOU WEARING?
We've went over this. I abhor shoes. Therefore, I am barefoot.

20. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE?
The pizza that we bought for dinner just didn't hit the spot, so the hubs stopped and got me a Caramel Apple Empenada from Taco Bell. It's heaven in a hot pocket form. 

21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? 
The sounds of my little monsters fighting over who gets to be Buzz and who gets to be Woody in their pretend  world. 

22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? 
Yellow.  I like to "Liven". That's my thang. 

23. FAVORITE SMELLS?
Freshly mowed grass and the scent of a campfire. 

24. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? 
My sister. She works the night shift at the ER and has the funniest stories of all the crazy reasons these weirdos find themselves in the ER at midnight. She should really have her own blog. No lie. 

25. MOUNTAIN HIDEAWAY OR BEACH HOUSE?
I would live on the beach. End of story. 

26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? 
Thunder Basketball and OU Sooner Football. 

27. HAIR COLOR? 
Which season is it? Naturally, I'm a dirty blonde. That's a color, not a personality trait. 

28. EYE COLOR? 
(The color of the ocean) blue. 

29. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? 
I've got perfect vision. Just ask my kids. I don't miss a thing. 

30. FAVORITE FOOD? 
Queso. (I just said that in a very hispanic accent too.)

31. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? 
Happy endings. Preferably if they happen on a beach somewhere.  

32. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? 
Batman: Dark Knight Rising

33. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? 
I'm in a red striped sundress. Without a bra. Because ain't nobody got time for that. 

34. SUMMER OR WINTER? 
Currently, it's smoldering here in Oklahoma.  Like 118 degrees and that is void of exaggeration. So I vote for a mild winter. 

35. HUGS OR KISSES? 
I'll take both. Wrap them up.

36. FAVORITE DESSERT? 
Caramel Apple Empenada. oh em gee. 

37. STRENGTH TRAINING OR CARDIO?
I'd much rather run around that lift heavy things that don't need to be moved. 

38. COMPUTER OR TELEVISION?
TV. Law & Order Marathons. Enough said. 

39. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? 
Reading "Momfluential" by someone that I can't remember right now.  I'm terrible.  But it's a good one. Go out and get a copy. 

40. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? 
I am on a laptop so it has a cute touch pad. No mouse pad. 

42. FAVORITE SOUND? 
Silence. Something I don't get very often. 

43. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? 
They are both old and classic. I'd much rather tune into something full of janky rap lyrics about booties and droppin it like it's hot and hammer time. Let's keep the momentum up, yo.  

44. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME?
Ghana, Africa. Never felt so lost and so found all at the same time.  I'll have to do a post about that soon. Note to self. 

45. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? 
I'm a certified professional child wrangler. Don't try this without proper training. 

46. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? 
Oklahoma City, OK

47. WHERE ARE YOU LIVING NOW?
Edmond, America. Where you'll find bison statues around every corner and the smell of dogfood permeates the streets every Tuesday, courtesy of the Purina plant. It's heaven on earth. 

48. WHAT COLOR IS YOUR HOUSE?
A vibrant beige color. 

49. WHAT COLOR IS YOUR CAR?
An equally vibrant brown color. But at least it's not a mini-van. No, I'm not hating. I just hate them as much as I hate edges on my deli meat. 

50. DO YOU LIKE ANSWERING 50 QUESTIONS?
It's been an exciting time. 


And here, for your viewing pleasure is a photo of me at this very moment. Taken, ever so professionally by Mr. Grouchy Pants. :)


(**And then of course, edited slightly by me because I can't afford to have you see my zits and/or my lack of bra. You're welcome.)

Friday, August 10, 2012

She Must Be Trippin!. . . ROAD Tripping With Toddlers

Aren't road trips the best? For weeks before a vacation, I envision the fun of packing up the family vehicle, everyone smiling, as we drive down the road, leaving our cares behind us for the next several days. We have our route planned out, we've remembered to pack everything, and it's pretty much picture-perfect right down to the cute luggage and my perfectly-polished toes.

I've personally had me and the kiddos bags packed for almost two weeks.  I'm BEYOND ready to hit the beach!  This will be our first family beach vacation. . .jumping waves, building sandcastles, collecting seashells, late night talks on the patio listening to the ocean tide. . .I cannot imagine a more perfect week! (Can you tell I'm pumped?!)  There's only one problem. . . South Padre Island is 13 hours away. Let me say it again, THIRTEEN FREAKIN HOURS in the car with two toddlers who can barely get along in our own living room for 5 minutes.  The thought of being trapped in a moving metal box with them for that long rates right up there with terrorist torture techniques, I'm sure of it.  Which is why we've never braved this massive feat before. We were scared we wouldn't make it to said destination alive.  No matter how many times I envision the perfect road trip situation, I have my doubts as to the amount of sheer desperation I will feel as we finally pull up to the condo on Monday afternoon.  Because as high as my hopes are for this family road trip, I also am well aware that 750 miles down the road, 2 fighting toddler boys, and dozens of spilled slushies later, I'm bound to look a bit more like this. . . 
I know, scary, right?! 

Whatever I do, I am intent on not turning into Momzilla and ruining this vacation for everyone. I've researched for weeks, gathered resources and advice from other moms I know in the "road-trippin biz" and have compiled a whole bag of activities to keep these little monsters busy and from stealing me of my sanity. I've decided to share them with you, and will do a follow-up post prior to vaca to let you know how we all fared this adventure.  After it's all said and done, the only advice I may have for you in the end is bring a pink flask full of Malibu and musician certified ear plugs.  But for now, here are the plans I have for surviving our first family roadtrip:

Let's Talk Snacks:
If it's one thing I don't want to spend money on, it's JUNK at every single gas stop.  I found this idea on Pinterest. It's a snack kit, made from a school supply organizer.  Pick out all your kids favorite small snacks and fill it up.  One thing we are doing in addition is bringing a mini ice chest full of ziploc bags of refridgerated snack foods, such as: bite-sized cantelope slices, blueberries, baby carrots, grapes, juice boxes, sliced cucumbers, and mini lunchables. All these healthy snacks should make it the whole 13 hour trip.  We'll stock up at a Wal-Mart and replenish for the trip back home as well!

Let's Talk Technology:
As far as entertainment for the kids, my favorite is the TV.  I know---totally original, and a big parenting faux pas. But, I personally think that the person who invented a way to put TV's in vehicles that kids can use with headphones deserves to have a day named in their honor.  I love this person, whomever they are.  And just for the record, I'm not a fan of TV watching at home all day.  I try to limit it when I can, but boy is it helpful!  When kids are trapped in a car anyway, the TV becomes one of the best inventions known to moms. Also, we've loaded up the kids ipod with about 50 games (most free actually) that they have access to at different times on the road trip. The use of both of these items may just save my sanity!

Let's Talk Activities:

DVD Coloring Case-
This was an idea that I found on Pinterest! How convenient! Take a DVD case and cut blank pages of paper to keep on one side, then store colored pencils in the other side for a quick and easy way to allow the kids to do one of their favorite things. My kiddos want to draw or color every single day. I'm so excited to try this idea on the roadtrip.

Pipe-Cleaner Fun-
This is something that I never would have thought of for the car! Another Pinterest find! I bought a couple of bags of multi-colored pipe cleaners and plan to let the boys (especially the kindergartener) practice their alphabet using them.  What a cool way to keep them busy, have no mess to clean up, and provide some educational stimulation in the car! It's a win/win!

Road Trip Bingo-
Let me just admit that my homemade bingo cards didn't turn out nearly this cool. So I found the mock-up I found online to post for you. You're welcome. I don't think you would have been able to decipher my "cow" or "gas station" symbols. Hopefully, the kids will. I just love this idea! I laminated my cards and am letting the kids use a dry erase marker to mark off each item they see as we drive along. I also brought little Dollar Store toys for them to win when they get a bingo. I think we'll really h ave fun with this one!

Reading Time-
I hope my kiddos aren't like me when they attempt to read in the car. I get sooooo motion sick! But I've brought a ton of books (a few new) for them to enjoy on the way down and back. My 5-year-old loves looking at each page and making up the story himself.  Hopefully this will make for long periods of storytime between him and brother on the way to and from! I'm counting on it!

Color Books and Crayons-
There is not much that my monsters love more than new color books and crayons. (Except maybe superheroes.) Since it's Back-to-School season, I got lots of cute books for $1 each and packages of crayons for $.50 a piece! We are bringing along cookie sheets to act as mini tables for them to have a solid service to color on as well! 

i-Spy with Books-
Okay, we all know how to play i-spy in normal everyday play, but how do you do it in the car?! With planning. My kids would play this all day long, so I had to figure out a way to adapt this game for travel. I took four of their favorite books and looked them over, front and back and made cards to coordinate with each book, listing off at least 10-15 things in each book for them to find. They will have loads of fun flipping through the pages trying to find each item and it's a great way to interact with them while they are in the backseat. At least, I hope. I'll let you know.  Theoretically, it sounds like a fabulous idea! LOL.

Stickers Galore-
Kids never get tired of stickers. My kiddos almost won't buy books anymore that don't come with stickers. Packages of their favorite characters can be found in the card aisles usually for super cheap.  That's where I grabbed these Angry Birds. I included a few sheets of paper in the ziploc bag with them so that I don't end up finding these little guys all over my seats and windows. This will be an activitiy that certainly won't buy me a lot of time, but they may enjoy it for about 20 minutes. 

Magnetic Travel Puzzles-
This activity better pay off because it sure took some time to figure out! I got the idea off Pinterest (yes. . .again!), and picked out 4 different puzzles, each about 15 peices, to magnetize. Crafts stores have craft magnets that you can cut to size, so I grabbed a roll of that and went to town. However, the sticky side wasn't all that "sticky" and kept pulling away from the puzzle pieces. I ended up hot gluing the magnets on each piece. We will use the same cookie sheets that we brought as coloring tables and put puzzles together as they stick to the cookie sheet. Brilliant, eh? I thought so too!

Stamp It Out-
I found packs of stamp toppers at the Dollar Store and decided to make an activity out of it. I included a few sheets of paper in each ziploc packet as well. This can be fun to encourage counting skills. . .I plan to ask the kiddos to say, "Stamp 4 in a row" and so on. This should keep them busy for a bit. 

When All Else Fails, Signal Batman-
Okay, I cheaped out on most of the activities and snacks for the road so I thought I'd make up for it in the things that count. . .Superheroes!  I bought my duo two new superhero action figures, one for the road up, one for the road back.  Truthfully, these little men in capes will keep them occupied for about as long as a full movie. They will be battling it out against bad guys in the backseat for at least an hour or so each time. New toys are the best! And eavesdropping onto conversations such as, "Being a hero is dirty business!", "Take your shot, punk!", and "I'm about to rock your world, bad guy!" is just the kind of entertainment that I need after 500 miles. Hopefully, I'll get some much needed laughs out of the deal too. :)


Well, we leave in just TWO days! We plan to come back rested, sunburned, and just a little bit tired of each other. It should be a great time. Do me a solid and pray for our little family's safety over the weekend.  I'll sure have some fun stories to tell you whenever we return! Until then. . .I'm off to make memories. . .