Thursday, December 5, 2013

Celebrate Advent with Jolly Old St. Nick!

Happy Advent! Do you have your wreath up yet? Don't worry if you're behind. Remember the gospel about the workers in the vineyard? The master gave the same wage to those who joined in at the end. You'll still receive wonderfully beautiful graces even if you're a week (or two or three) late. I made my wreath out of plain white candles and ribbon. The greenery is just a long strand wrapped around the candle holders. Obviously, this is not portable!

One of my favorite lead-ups to Christmas is the celebration of St. Nicholas Day. I didn't realize that not everyone celebrates it the way we did growing up. Every year, on the morning of December 6th, my sister and I would awaken to find stockings filled with treats. The treats were small, like lip gloss and M&Ms. But we always looked forward to it as a precursor to Christmas. I found out recently that this tradition is strong in the state of Wisconsin, where I was born & where my parents spent their first 35 years. Makes sense.

I want to start this tradition in my own home as a way to teach my kids about the life of a wonderful saint. Not all the saints have the vivid illustration and attention of our kids' ears like St. Nick, so why not make the most of an opportunity. My plan? An orange or tangerine and a few other small treats in the stocking. I don't plan to say it's from St. Nicholas, but rather, the stockings are filled as a way to celebrate the life of St. Nicholas. Part two of this plan is to try to incorporate some act of service or generosity. After all, that's what St. Nick did!

One idea that's a little too old for kids my age, but is still a great idea is the Drive-Thru-Difference. If you haven't done it before, do it tomorrow to celebrate this feast day. The gist, pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru and give the letter explaining why you did it to the employee to pass on. It's a good idea to say a prayer too and ask God to put the right person behind you in line. He knows what he's doing! St. Nick would TOTALLY be into this as he was known for (among other things) blessing people in secret, hence the filling of the stockings in the middle of the night. Look at that! You're on your way to being a modern-day saint!

Monday, November 4, 2013

All Aboard!

Choo Choo! The potty train is leaving the station! Yes, next weekend we are ditching the diapers and attempting the 3-Day Potty Training program. I've heard from a number of people that it works, but it's hard work and mentally exhausting for the primary "trainer". My best friend advised that I have a glass of wine handy for the end of the day.

I'm not going to lie and say I'm not enticed by the idea that it could be done in three days, but it's not totally selfish motives that have made me choose this method. I like that it's a cold turkey method. I can't remember being potty trained, but I imagine it would be kind of confusing to go from underwear to diapers, from potty to pants... Liam is excited to go on the potty and to not wear any diapers. I just hope his excitement translates to communication & cooperation.

Please pray for me. For the grace to be patient, persistent & wise. And please pray for my carpets.

What method worked for you?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Naughty Boy!

I am a blog-slacker! Forgive me! And now that I'm back with another post, forgive me again because it's just a plug for another person's blog. It's good though and worth re-posting.

We talked about this on the show this morning: What to remember when your little angel misbehaves.

Yours never misbehaves? Neither does mine! Wink. Wink.

It's a quick list and a good read. What spoke to me most was:

#1. You disobey God and He's the PERFECT father.

#3. God disciplines those he loves.
It hurts to say no sometimes, but we do it because we love our children and want what is best for them in the long run.

#9. It's not good behavior you really desire... you want his heart.
So many times I've heard parents force their kids to say "Yes, ma'am" or "Yes, sir". I understand why, but if they are only doing that because you make them and not because they have the respect for you that the phrase implies, then what's the use? That's just one example of "wanting his heart" but you hopefully get my drift.

#10. Your child is a person, not a project.
Preach it! I need to remember this one. It's kinda a "see the forest from the trees" type of mantra. Getting caught up in the discipline and goals we set for our kids can make us lose sight of the fact that they are little people with their own hearts and minds. We are entrusted with them and should help shape and guide them, but we can't look at their little lives with a list and check boxes.

Hope this helps you feel better about the job you're doing as a mom. Give yourself a hug and say, "You can do it!"

Sunday, September 8, 2013

God's Children

The other day I caught myself thinking unkind thoughts about someone. I honestly can't remember who it was or what I was thinking, but I do remember what made me stop what I was doing: Being a mom.

Several years ago my best friend and I were talking about people we saw at the local Wal-Mart who were less than clean and not using the most polite language. Let me just say, I'm not proud of this conversation, and I don't have any problem with Wal-Mart. I shop there all the time. Back to the point, we were putting them down and she said, "Well, they're God's children, too."

She's right.

That comment is so elementary but we sometimes cast off the simple stuff when we become more "spiritually mature." It has stayed with me for years and has taken on an entirely different meaning now that I'm a mom.

You see, the fastest way for someone to get to my heart is to be nice to my kids. And conversely, the fastest way to my bad side is to be mean to them. I took Liam to the play area at the mall a few months ago and he waved and said hello to another mom. She did a half-smile and kind of rolled her eyes at him. Excuse me? Did you not see, feel and hear the cuteness that was coming at you just then? What's wrong with you, lady? In a split second, she became my worst enemy.

I am so in love with my kids that whatever is done to them is done to me. When someone is mean to them, I hurt. When someone is kind to them, I feel all warm and fuzzy and want to give that person a big hug.

So if I say something rude about someone, I'm doing to God what the play area mom did to me. Yikes. Not good.

Thankfully, God is way more forgiving and understanding than I am, but that isn't a green light to speak unkindly to or about one of his kids. I want God to always want to give me a big hug, not be in pain because of my unkind words. Just like me, the way to God's heart is to be kind to his children. It's so elementary and so "what it's all about" all at the same time.

Monday, August 19, 2013

"It's not forever" vs "It's not forever"

Introducing Graham, aka, Mr. Grammar
After a long hiatus, I'm happy to be back. My maternity leave was not technically from the Mom Squad, but if you've ever had a toddler running around, you know how difficult it can be to find time to sit at the computer.

At this moment, I'm sitting in the handicapped stall at work... pumping. Too much information? Yes. I also have to escape during the 6am hour for a quick session because Graham would normally eat at 7. Poor Fernando. He knows things that no single, 20-something guy should know. Escaping during a quick-paced morning show to be strapped to a machine is not advised in Radio 101. It's surely not easy and it's not fun. I find myself saying, "Don't worry. It's not forever." 

I also said that during a few hectic moments this summer. Like when Liam poured out my glass of water before I could grab it from him because I was feeding the little one. Or during one of the middle of the night wakings that pulled me out of a much-needed restful state. "It's not forever, Abby. This phase will pass."

I also found myself saying, "It's not forever" during some of the most cherished moments. Like when Liam, Graham & my husband all snuggled in bed together or when Liam "boops" Graham's nose. I watch them and think, "It's not forever that we'll be in this place. They will be grown before I know it."

It's funny how the statement can be said in two different ways. One way with a hope in the promise of things getting better or easier in the near future and the other with a sad realization that the moment won't last forever and we'll soon be looking back longingly.

It's an overused phrase, but "carpe diem!". Seize the day! For while it might be filled with challenges, it's a gift and what a shame it will be to look back when they are all grown up and realize you always wanted tomorrow. That might just leave you longing for yesterday.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

False Alarm!

My husband commented last night that TV and movies have really messed with his head. He has this image of what it looks like to go into labor and our experiences so far have looked nothing like that. I figure there is no better place than the Mom Squad Blog to share the story of our false alarm, so here goes.

I woke up around 12:15am Monday (10 days til my due date of the 23rd) to go visit the little girls room. I've been doing that since I was born and think I have the whole peeing thing down pat, so when I woke my husband up to tell him that while I was in the bathroom my water broke, I was pretty darn confident. We called the doctor's office and the on-call nurse returned the call. I said with confidence, "My water broke." She asked if I'd had any contractions and I'd only had one. She said go ahead to the hospital. After our phone tree system totally broke down, my poor husband had to go next door and knock on the window of our 15 year old neighbor. He knocked and said, "Ashleigh! It's Josh. Don't freak out!" If you'd ever told me my 33 year old husband would be banging on a teenage girl's window in the middle of the night I would have had some serious questions to ask!

We headed to the hospital and arrive around 1am. Cutting to the chase, they did two different tests and reported back that my water had not broken. I think my reaction was, "Are you serious?" They sent me to get an ultrasound to measure the amount of amniotic fluid and there was plenty. The tech did say that since I hadn't had an ultrasound since my 20 week appointment he can't say if I'd LOST any fluid (no levels to compare it to) but that the amount he measured was perfect and baby looked fine. He also estimated that the little lad is already at 8lbs. Ouch.

While we were having the ultrasound, which took about 25 minutes I had three very strong contractions. I was almost squirming and I like to think I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, so even as he was saying, there's plenty of fluid and the other tests came back negative, I was still thinking that we were having this baby.

We head back to our other room and the painful contractions stop, although I'd been having mini ones since 12:15. The doctor said it was probably because I had to lay flat and my oxygen levels were down that the contractions got stronger.

At this point it's about 3:30am and my husband comments that our alarm is going off in an hour to get up for work. The doctor asks me what I do for a living and I say, "I work on the morning show at a radio station." She stares at me and just says, "You're Abby."

There are certain instances in life where an amount of anonymity is desired. This is one of them. She said, "I listen every morning!" I said, "You just saw my nether-region".  Awkward!

The doctor is ready to send us home except for the fact that my blood pressure is sky-high. She keeps asking me preeclampsia type questions and they turn down the lights so I can relax before getting one more reading on my BP. All ends up well and we get in the car to head home around 5am.

Honestly, I still don't believe it. You know the whole, "You know your body best" women's intuition thing. I still think it was my water breaking in some form. Not that I don't trust the doctors or their tests. I do! I just keep replaying that moment in my head and am so confused.

The other odd thing is how this is the complete opposite from what happened when Liam was born. My water broke and I had no idea. After about six hours I finally called the doctor and they told us to go in. No contractions. When I got there the test read positive, still no contractions. When the nurse said my water broke, I said, "So what does that mean?" Duh. It means you're having a baby today! This time, I was sure it was my water, and I had a few contractions and we got the boot!

The good news is that I have my 38 week appointment today and it's with the same doctor as the other night, so we don't have to do a recap, just cut right to the chase!

Anyone have a similar story? Of course I looked online and saw a woman's post that two tests came up negative and the fluid levels looked fine and they had the baby the next day. What's your crazy labor story? 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Prize for MOM!

First things first, yes, you can nominate yourself. Voting is open now for our Momentous Mom contest. Listen to the calls here and help a mother out with your vote! For the rest of us, we have our Mother's Day Prayer bookmarks. Just email with your name and address if you want one and we'll pop one in the mail.

And exclusive to the Mom Squad Blog is another sweet prize. I have a gift pack from (a t-shirt and copy of Susan Merrill's book, The Passionate Mom, Dare to Parent in Today's World) and a one hour massage from In His Hands Massage Therapy. The massage can be in-home or at the massage facility.

To enter to win the prize, just leave a comment below telling me your FAVORITE part of being a mom.

Bedtime is not an acceptable answer.

If I could win, my entry would say: The last five minutes before bed when we cuddle and hug and say our prayers. Liam is practicing making the sign of the cross which pretty much means he taps his shoulder and his chest, and then says "men" after I say "A". It's the best moment of my day!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Prayer Craps

I had a feeling that headline would get your attention. I'm referring to the dice game, craps, of course. I came across this idea and think it's awfully cute. I don't know what age is the right age to try this since the older kids might think it's lame, but who knows. Maybe you can put a spin on it that would make it more appealing to the "mature" crowd. If you have a brood of children you could also have a second cube (more authentic to the actual game of craps) and write a name on each side. Whichever name comes up is the spokesperson for the prayer time.

If you aren't Catholic and don't have the selection of written prayers (although I encourage you to check out  the "Guardian Angel" prayer and the "Glory Be" especially) you could have on one side, "Pray for a friend" and on another, "What are you thankful for today?". The sky is the limit! And it's a dice game where you'll be a winner every time!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Not that I need an excuse to eat ice cream...

Mercy never tasted so good!
On Sunday I was thinking about ice cream during church. Oops. Can I use the pregnancy excuse? Here's the back story though: A new ice cream joint opened up in Brandon and I mentioned it a couple of times on the air. Apparently my enthusiasm for the ice cream was contagious and more than a few people ended up going in and saying they heard about it from me. By the way, if you want to go enjoy some wacky & delicious ice cream, check out The Revolution. Yum...

My mom and I were chatting about the number of people who referred to me at The Rev and I said, "I must speak pretty passionately about ice cream. I'm pretty convincing!" She said, "You DO!" So on Sunday, I'm in church thinking about this and this question entered my mind: Abby, do you speak as passionately about your faith as you do about ice cream? It's clear that you love ice cream. Is it clear that you love your faith?

Maybe you're not a fan of ice cream. Unless you're lactose intolerant, I take serious issue with that, but I'm now is not a time to argue. Is there something else in your life that you love so much that in just one or two sentences you could "sell it". Because that's really all the time I devoted to talking about The Revolution on the air. Wouldn't it be cool if our love for Jesus was so alive and exciting that it wouldn't take a long sit-down chat or argument to give someone else the desire to know Him too?

I shared the above thoughts on the air the other day and my buddy, Colleen sent me this link with the comment, "I'd like to think you we're just tying your faith into more tangible 'loves' here on Earth...CLEARLY you were thinking about these at Mass!" This past Sunday was Divine Mercy Sunday and the link is to... wait for it... DIVINE MERCY SUNDAES!!!

I missed the boat on these and I don't have children old enough to use as an excuse for making them as a way to illustrate our faith, but who cares! I say make 'em anyway! Apparently the site also has "Trinity Sundaes" and "Pentecost Sundaes" (and both are coming up in May)! They are a great way to treat and teach the kiddos at the same time!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


This is not an easy thing to admit and I don't say it flippantly: I am often tempted to lash out physically when I get angry. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I find it natural to express myself with my hands and through touch. Yes, my name is Abby and I'm a toucher! I hug on impulse!

I knew that this short fuse when it comes to anger and frustration would be challenged when I had children. I remember sitting in my friend's kitchen, about 5 months pregnant and crying, saying, "I swatted at the cat out of anger the other day. What if I'm tempted to hit my child?!" She laughed at me and my irrationality, but I was seriously concerned. What if I got so angry that I couldn't control myself? This has been tested over and over again on the changing table. How many times could I flip him back over when he squirms and wiggles and tries to crawl away? One time I lost it. I grabbed his arms so tight, smacked him on the leg, screaming in his tiny face, "LAY! STILL! NOW!" I immediately felt bad and looked at his arms to see if there were hand prints. From that day on I prayed that God would help me with my patience. "Lord, please! I don't want to be this kind of parent. Give me the grace to be patient!"

Mark 11: 24 says, Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours. The light bulb finally went off in my head a few years ago that God will quickly answer our prayers when they are aligned with His will. The ones that aren't He WILL answer, but those answers might not come in the way we expect them or in the time that we wish. Often He wants to take some time to work on our desires and our relationship with Him. 

I say all that because since I started praying for the grace to be more patient with Liam, I have felt it! I haven't had that teeth-clenched rage build up inside of me and when I have had real moments of anger, I've had the piece of mind to know that I am on the verge of losing it and I need to take a deep breath. 

Tomorrow morning we're going to discuss this article from Susan Merrill of iMOM. She, too struggles with patience. Do you? Honestly, I can't imagine any mom who doesn't! Our children test us, push us, aggravate us... they NEED us. That need is just communicated in ways other than "Mom I need you." Whether it is patience or another fruit of the spirit (self-control, peace, kindness, joy...) that you are in need of, ask God to provide it and He will! Listen tomorrow at 7 for a chat about this!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Do I Listen With Talking Ears?

Last week during prayer time, I reflected on that question. Do I listen with talking ears? A friend sent me a text later asking where I got that from. I got to report back to her that it came from my own brain. For once, I had a profound thought! Check back in 364 days for the next one!

I figured I'd share a bit more about it since I know it's something that I need to focus on again and again.

The Thought for the Day that morning was from the gospel of John chapter 5, versus 39 and 40: 
You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life.

Jesus is pointing out that these folks who knew scripture backwards and forwards were using it to serve themselves instead of hearing the truth that the words held. He goes on to say that they claim the words of Moses are true, but here those words are, in the flesh, right in front of them and they are not seeing it. 

They were reading what they wanted to read and hearing what they wanted to hear. 

Are we guilty of this?

My takeaway was to reflect on all the times I've "listened" to God through a sermon or the words in the Bible  with "talking ears" or "self-serving ears" instead of "hearing ears". Every morning I listen to Food For the Journey with Sr. Ann Shields. It comes on around 5:10am. She reflects on the daily readings and often times something she says will be the spring board for my reflection during the Thought for the Day segments. So I'll often find myself listening to her, trying to think of how I could reiterate her sentiments or lesson. Then I knock myself in the head and say, "Abby! Just listen! Don't worry about how to share this on the air. Just hear it for yourself." Who knows, maybe the message she's sharing on a particular day isn't meant for others, it's meant for Abby. 

This idea of "talking ears" also applies to hearing God's word with the intent of forcing it upon other people. If you listen so you can spit it back out to prove a point, you are probably not hearing it with the right heart. Wouldn't it be much more effective if you take those words and lessons into your heart and become a walking, talking example of them instead of just a parrot? It is easy for people to detect a phony. If the words that come out are empty or from a place of pride and judgement, then they are just a playback. However, when they are knitted into your core being, when you hear them with ears eager to learn and accept, they become not just arranged letters, but truth and life and love. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Rest Your Head, Little One. Just Not There.

Warning: Gross factor of about a 2.5 ahead!

I've heard grumblings aplenty from moms regarding the lack of privacy when it comes to time in the ladies room. Yesterday I experienced this on a new level. Liam likes to walk around the bathroom but I usually stop him when he tries to head towards the back of the toilet. That's my limit! Well, yesterday while I was going to the bathroom he must've either felt very loving or very tired because be decided he needed to rest his head on my lap. I was slightly disgusted, but more flattered.

There comes a point in every person's life when the gross outweighs the love. I love my mom and my husband, but resting my head in their "lap" is just not gonna happen!! And I have a feeling they are just fine with this. But there is something so beautiful and pure about the connection a child feels to his mother. It's so strong that there is no other thought of what could be proper or expected at this moment. He just wants to be by mom! Who cares if she is mid-pee!

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Sacrificial Lent

Considering a pregnancy takes three-quarters of a year, chances are, you're going to be pregnant for a particular season or holiday. One season that sticks out for me in both of my pregnancies though, is Lent. I was newly pregnant for the Lenten season of 2011 and this time I am in my third trimester. Both times, I feel like God has been sending me a message about how we act when that little life is growing inside of us.

A couple of days ago I was chatting with Julie Musselman, one of our Mom Squad Bloggers. I'd asked her what she gave up for Lent and how it was going. We chatted for a second about pregnant women being exempt from the fasting portion of the Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting & almsgiving. My thought to share with her was that I feel like Lent is a great time to be pregnant because it keeps the self-centeredness at bay. An expectant mother comes in a very close second to a bride in the race for most irrational women on earth. In both cases, we give excuses - stress, most important day of her life (for the bride) and hormones, discomfort, "I'm carrying a life here!" (for the pregnant one). Yes, one of those scenarios seems a little more excusable, but it's still not nice! (acknowledging my use of a 5 year old's word)

I have really enjoyed the very gentle reminder during these 40 days that it's SO not all about me. God is kind; He doesn't whack me over the head with it or send a messenger with a snarky comment to put me in my place. It's just that constant nudge that while I might be "exempt" in a way, I still need to focus on others more than myself and that even more important than taking care of the human that is kicking me from the inside out at this very moment, is the need to take care of my relationship with Him.

Julie's reassuring words were, "You know that you ARE sacrificing more than ever at this time." I agreed, aware that my rear end & thighs were expanding and my back was aching, but my reply was, "Yes, but I don't need to make everyone else sacrifice along with me and make their lives miserable!"

The perfect example of this self-sacrifice even in the moments where it is not expected is Mary. She was in her first trimester and traveled to be with Elizabeth to help her with her final months of pregnancy. It's nice to think that maybe since she was going to endure some serious emotional agony ("And a sword will pierce your very heart", Luke ch 2), that God had mercy on her and neglected to "bless" her with morning sickness, but chances are, she had at least a few moments of queasiness. She rode on a donkey for goodness sake!

She put aside her own needs and aches and took the long journey to serve. What a beautiful way to experience this season of sacrifice!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

You Ate Cereal Today!

Today, you dragged the crock pot
to the patio!
I am happy to say I filled out a baby book for Liam. It's not complete, but I did my best to write on most every page. There's one child who won't need therapy! Baby #2 is another story. I'm the second born and I remember the day I found my sister's baby book. I found a second book right under it and started thumbing through, excited to read what my parents wrote about my first months of life. Alas... the book was for the dog.

I'm not bitter though...

I have always struggled with journaling on a consistent basis, so I knew that any kind of record-keeping for my children would probably face the same fate. Then I heard of a neat idea. A way to "journal" some of the special moments in a 21st century kind-of-way. Create an email account for your child and email him or her when you want to share something special. Then on a particular birthday, you give them the username and password. They get to peruse the emails you've been sending them over the years and laugh, cry or blush. I know, I know. Who knows if that particular email provider will be around in say, 16 years when you give your child this "gift" but it's worth a shot, right?

I love this because, thanks to my phone, I can email Liam at a moment's notice with a special thought or message of love. It also makes me send him more "minor" things and I think those emails are the ones that will really mean something special. He won't just know when he got his first tooth or what his first few words were, he'll also know, for example, that on February 20th, 2013 he ate cereal with milk for the first time! He's eaten dry cereal before, but this was the first bowl, spoon, cereal & milk event. It was Honey Nut Cheerios (yes, I should have opted for regular Cheerios) and he got to drink the milk afterwards too. He LOVED the milk! I love that I will be able to share how I'm feeling about his special moments, too. Anxiety over his first day of school or excitement in the lead up to his First Holy Communion. It's a great way to share how God is leading you in your parenting. You can even share what prayers you've said over the years.

If your child is already 7 or 10 or 15 years old, start this anyway. It will mean something to them. I guarantee it!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Observing Lent with the Kiddos

I'm still alive! These past two weeks have been hectic, so the Mom Squad Blog has taken a back seat. I wish I could have posted about Lent last week at this time, but alas, better late than never, right?

Our kids are so bombarded with eggs, bunnies, chickies, candy and a regurgitation of pastels on Easter that it can feel like we're fighting a losing battle to preserve this holiest of holy days as an actual holy day! We have a secret weapon though- LENT!  We have 40 days to prepare their little hearts and minds for what we are really celebrating on that glorious Sunday.

Here are a ton of ideas on how to make Lent more interactive for the kids. Again, I wish I would've posted these a week ago. I hate starting a few days in. It makes it feel like cheating, BUT when Easter rolls around, the blessings and graces will surely be the same, even if we missed a couple of days.

My favorite ideas from

The Lenten Countdown Calendar - It's like a Christian Candy Land!
Stations of the Cross Eggs - The Stations of the Cross have always been one of my favorite parts of Lent. So beautiful!
Almsgiving Craft - A good way for the kids to save up $4.00 to give to the poor.

And if you're not Catholic, don't sweat it! These activities are perfect for any Christian family that wants to make this season of Lent 40 days of drawing closer to Jesus.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Did you FF?

The DVR is one of my favorite pieces of modern technology. I love recording shows and skipping commercials or flipping away for a few minutes and being able to rewind when I come back late. Neither my husband nor I had a vested interest in either team in last night's game, so we watched mostly for the commercials. Some of them were pretty clever and some were, in my opinion, a waste of big dollars. Here and there though, was a commercial that I'd be red-faced to watch in front of my parents.

The first ones that come to mind are the GoDaddy make-out commercial, and for once, instead of a half-dressed woman, we saw a Calvin Klein ad with a lot of man without a lot of clothing.

Then came the half-time show. I'm not gonna lie, I'll sing along with Single Ladies till I'm outta breath, but why did Beyonce have to be nearly-bare from the waist down? I know that's kinda her thing, but can we not reach an agreement socially that when it's a "family event" that we raise the taste level a notch?

On a bright note, Jennifer Hudson looked the best she ever has and sang beautifully.

Did you fast-forward through any commercials or the half-time show (or wish you could have)? And more importantly, what kinds of comments did you get from your kids if they saw those ads?

The truth is, we want to see the commercials. We want to know what people are talking about the next day. So how do we not hide our eyes from these pop culture moments, but still have the right answers when our kids ask, "Mom, where are her pants?" Budget cuts?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Quittin' Time!

I was a thumb-sucker. Big time. I didn't quit the habit until I was 12'ish. I can't really recall what made me finally "just say no". I'm pretty sure I just grew out of it (took long enough). I remember being at slumber parties and working some strategy to lay at the end of the row of sleeping bags so I could be hidden. If I was between two friends, I had no protection!

I saw this silly "Thumb Sucker" and, while it's not being marketing as a tool to curb thumb-sucking, it got me thinking about all the things my parents tried on me. Tabasco, vanilla, band-aids... threats of me having to get a part-time job to pay for braces (praise the Lord for child-labor laws!).

What worked for you and your kids?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Oh, So Chic!

Have you ever asked yourself what your personal "style" is? I think about this when I see articles in magazines that make it look so simple to have a particular look. Preppy, boho (what?), classic, retro... Honestly, I am so-not-connected to that world that I don't even know the different categories. I do know that what fits and is unwrinkled(ish) will often determine my style du jour. I've done the argyle sweater with pearls on a Tuesday and then a pair of jeans and a long sleeve T on a Wednesday.

One category I would pretty much say I do NOT fit into is "chic"! This is mostly because I am pretty cheap when it comes to my clothing purchases. I'm a Marshall's/TJ Max kind of girl. If I can leave the store with 5 shirts under 50 bucks, I'm on cloud 9! Sadly, chic typically doesn't come cheap.

Until now! I was so excited when the ladies of Agape Chic Consignment Boutique approached Spirit FM with their support. I saw an ad of theirs in a coupon magazine (Clipper, maybe?) and the tag line, "Where Style is Reborn". I thought, with "Agape" in their name and that tag line, they have to be Christian-owned. I've got to check them out! Next thing I know, they are coming on board as Spirit FM underwriters!

I love Ann Taylor and Ralph Lauren and they have both, along with BCBG, Michael Kors and the fancy purse companies too! They are celebrating their 1st anniversary with a sale this Saturday. Their prices are already 40-80% off retail, so it's gonna be a doozy!

I know what you're thinking. "Abby, you haven't blogged in a week and now you blog a commercial?" Yep. It's important to support the companies and organizations that are run with Christian principles. So if you want to chic-up (not a real word) your wardrobe and not kill your wallet, swing by Agape Chic on Saturday. Here's their website.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Grandparents & Footprints (Not the Poem)

I think the reason grandparents have so much fun with our kids is not only because, as the joke goes, they get to return them at the end of the day, but also because they've finally got the joy of parenting figured out.

A few days ago my parents stopped by for a quick visit. When they arrived Liam and I were playing in the front yard. It had rained a few hours earlier, so the shady parts of the yard were still a little wet.

We got our toys together and headed up the sidewalk. My mom said, "Look at those little feet!" I looked back and both Liam and I had left footprints on the sidewalk. His tiny prints were perfectly formed and perfectly cute. I thought to myself about how I never would've noticed them if she hadn't said something.

We don't always have a chance to "check out the footprints" or step back and take it all in. Many times there is some disciplining or cleaning up that needs to be done or we just don't notice. I think that's ok. We can't be too hard on ourselves, but I DO think that we need to take a break from being parents every now and again to see God's amazing work manifested in our little ones. And for the record, I don't mean we need to take more pictures. Increasingly so, our lives are in jpg files instead of our hearts.

There is so much beauty in those little moments or footprints in this case. Let's all try to look for them, instead of needing them to be pointed out to us or missing them all together. I don't know about you, but I have a feeling the little print I saw will be as big as mine before I know it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

All the Wrong vs the Right

Deep thoughts come to me on my morning commute. It's dark out, so maybe there are less distractions with the lack of sunlight. Perhaps this isn't the deepest thought ever, but I wanted to share it anyway in case you are finding yourself questioning how you're doing as a parent.

I can question and point out a bazillion things that I am probably doing wrong: Is he napping enough? Am I keeping his teeth clean? Is he eating too many processed foods (see picture)? Does he know what "NO" means yet? Is he on track with his verbal skills? I know these questions will grow in number and complication as my boy grows older.

One thing that I can say without a doubt though, is that this kiddo knows he is loved. The hugs and kisses and smiles and affection he receives MUST communicate to him that he has people in his life who think he's the bees knees and would lay down their lives for him in a fraction of a heartbeat. So while the plaque builds, and the tantrums ring out, I can take a deep breath and say, "We are doing something right." And thankfully, it's the most important thing.

In case you ever doubt that you're doing a good enough job, tell your son or daughter you love him or her and you can have a moment of rest.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fun Family Event

If you're looking for something to do this weekend, Hyde Park United Methodist Church is hosting a fun concert for the whole family. Christian artist, Yancy will be there Sunday at 5pm. The show is being billed as, "A Praise Party for the Whole Family!", so you know it's gonna be a good time. Tickets are just $5, but you need to get them in advance, here or through iTickets at 800-965-9324. Hear samples of Yancy's music and read more about her here!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Celebrate the Epiphany this Sunday

Thank you "Catholic Icing" for the pic from 2011! 
A Church tradition my family has just started participating in in the past two years has quickly become one of my favorites. On the Sunday when we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany (when the three kings, after following the star find the new baby Jesus), we are given pieces of chalk to use to bless our home. The chalk is blessed by the priest, but I would venture to say God will still honor your request to bless your home even if you don't have the "special chalk".

Wanna do it too? Here's what you do:

Above your door (on the outside) write this:

The "20" and the "13" represent this calendar year, 2013 and the "C, M & B" are the first initials of what tradition tells us are the names of the three kings, Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. The “C, M, B" also stands for the Latin blessing Christius Mansionem Benedicat which means “May Christ Bless this House”.

There is a pretty extensive blessing here you can say where the priest or head of the household leads and everyone else responds. But for the abbreviated version, which I am pretty sure is what is handed out with the chalk at my church, use this prayer:

Lord God of heaven and earth, you revealed your only begotten Son to every nation by the guidance of a star. Bless this house and all who inhabit it. May we be blessed with health, goodness of heart, gentleness and the keeping of your law. Fill us with the light of Christ, that our love for each other may go out to all. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

You can involve all the kids where each person gets to write a different letter or number and every time you enter your home you'll be reminded that it is a home filled with people who know and serve the Lord!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

10 Things Your Family Can Focus on in the New Year | iMOM

10 Things Your Family Can Focus on in the New Year | iMOM

I'd bet the vast majority of resolutions are for the individual. After all, it's not very nice to tell someone else they need to lose a few pounds. I can hear it now, "Dear, this year, you're resolving to stay away from the cupcakes!" Yikes. But wow about a Family New Year's Resolution this year? It's something you can focus on to improve the way your family loves and interacts with one another and those around you. A big plus of the family goal is that you can keep each other in line. You have multiple accountability partners!

I love some of these suggestions from iMOM. My favorites:
1. MORE SLEEP! Ain't nothin' wrong with that!
2. MORE SURPRISES! I love surprises! (See, Baby # 2) The gist of this is to have a "Surprise Captain" each month. He or she gets to come up with an idea that is a surprise for the rest of the family. Fernando's first thought, "What if the Surprise Captain says 'Ice cream for dinner!'?" I say- it's only one time and yum! If you have multiple young children who might need assistance in being the S.C., maybe assign one to your husband so you're not bearing the brunt of the work each moth.
3. MORE PATIENCE! This goes for everyone. Parents towards kids. Siblings towards each other. Husband towards wife. Great idea!

I'd add to iMOM's list, Family Prayer Time. Now don't feel the need to bite off more than you can chew. Just try adding little moments to your day. Maybe as you start the car on the way to school you say a quick thank you to God for the day ahead. Or maybe instead of individual bedtime prayers you gather in one bedroom and pray together, listing what made the day special.

Just because it's not January 1 that doesn't mean you can't take this idea to "your people" and start fresh next week. Try one a month and see what happens!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy 2013!

Is it just me or do you also know more people who don't make resolutions than do? I don't know a single person who has made a resolution this year. I think part of the downfall for the New Year's resolution is that we (possibly on a subconscious level) think that the time frame for this new habit is one whole year. As adults, we know what a year feels like, but it is still a pretty lofty goal to sustain anything for that long. Ask any fitness or weight loss expert & they'll tell you that setting small goals is key. Aim to lose 5 lbs, not 50. Try to walk three days this week, not 12 this month. In my efforts over the years, that is truly what has worked. Small, attainable goals.

If you haven't made a resolution yet, why not take a cue from Mom Squad Blogger, Julie? Yes, it feels nice to fit into your skinny jeans and you don't want to over-commit in the resolution department, but how about this year, we resolve to pray more? In essence, we're resolving to strengthen a relationship. A pretty important one!!

Check out Julie's blog entry here and may our Lord be with you and your loved ones in this New Year!