Bittersweet Goodbyes and New Beginnings: The Final Post

Monday, July 11, 2016

This is my final post for PARDYMAMA. But, before you get all tearful and wishy-washy, it's NOT the last you'll hear from me!

This blog has meant more to me than you'll ever know. At times it was like a best friend, listening to me rant on and on about motherhood antics and the craziness of trying to keep my head above water. Sometimes it was pure therapy for my soul, a place I could sort through my thoughts and feelings, no matter how ugly or raw.

Most of all, it has been an incredible journey of connection. When I started this little blog I never knew if anyone would ever read it. Over the years, I'm still shocked that anyone has taken time out of their busy schedule to glance at my thoughts. It's been an honor and a privilege to hear from my readers and to reach out to you with words from my heart. Thank you.

God has been so good to bring me encouragement through those connections, and if it weren't for your support and high-fives, I wouldn't be able to take the next step in this journey. So, here it is, I'm venturing by faith into the next chapter of my lifelong dream.

I'm starting up a private practice here in Nashville, TN and launching a new website and blog that will be geared to helping couples transition into parenthood!

READY NEST COUNSELING will help couples in the midst of conception, pregnancy, post-partum, and infertility as they navigate the next phase of their relationship.

This is IT, guys. This is BIG. I can hardly contain my excitement in letting the world know about this. The website will offer a new BLOG that will be able to reach people everywhere who have stories to share from all perspectives. YOU can contribute your own submission and help build a whole network that strives to embrace the milestone of becoming a parent as we help encourage healthy relationships!

Please pray for Ready Nest Counseling as I take this leap into the real world of helping others. It's my hope, prayer, passion, and honor to prepare relationships for the joys and challenges that come with this life phase.

Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your encouragement over the years. It's my hope that you will be just as enthusiastic about Ready Nest Counseling as we look forward to all God has in store.

With gratitude,


Good Mama: Savoring the Salty Moments of Motherhood

Monday, June 13, 2016

I see you, mamas. I am you. And I gotta say - I see a lot of gratitude out there.

I constantly see and hear reminders about savoring this precious time of having little children and babies. Not a day goes by without some comment or status update about time moving too fast and kiddos growing up at lightning speed. Most of all, if you're like me, you get the "awww" glances from other parents who are reminiscent of their own children and can't help but utter "enjoy it now, it goes too fast" as they take notice of my young crew.

It's inevitable. Someday that will be me. Someday I will longingly look at a baby and fight back tears in my eyes at how fast this all flew by me. I will yearn for these times of physical exhaustion in exchange for the more emotional toll their teenage years will undoubtedly take on me. I will wish I could go back in time and relive the moments of nursing, getting up at 3am to comfort them through nightmares, or have my biggest worry be related to diaper rash and wetting the bed. I know I will crave these concerns over the great, big, monster ones that await me.

I see you doing the same thing, mamas. I see you hugging your little ones closer as you hear about loss and grief in the world. I see you posting photos of the good, the bad, and the ugly, taking pride in your work (and it is WORK) as if you've just completed the Mona Lisa or the Boston Marathon. I see you reaching out for connection among other moms in the thick of it, clinging to the hope for bedtime and quiet with relentless drive as you muster through the laundry and dishes yet again.

Just because it's hard, just because we complain about it and need to vent together and post updates about cringing at our children's antics and barely making it through another day, just because we get all worked up with anxiety over things like sharing and snacks and bath times, don't think for a second that you don't appreciate the here and now. You do. I do. It's all part of it.

I'm savoring the moments NOW. So are you, I see it. I'm thankful RIGHT NOW for this mess! For these naughty children who yell at me to get them their sippy cup two feet from where their sitting, for the tantrums in the grocery store that require me leaving my cart and carrying out my screaming child back home with no milk or bread in tow, for the stupid, stupid bickering over who gets to sit in the middle seat on the drive home today [insert rolling of eyes here] - all of it. I'll take it. It's hard, way harder than I ever imagined, but it's exactly what I signed up for.

I have always shuddered at the passage of time. Believing that my soul is not of this world, my heart has an eternal longing for all beautiful moments to coexist within the present. Heaven will consist of something like this, filling us completely with awe and gratitude of what IS, with no concern of what has been or is to come. But until then, all I can do in this very moment is my best and pray for the rest. That's it. So, while I brace myself for the nostalgic stares of others who remind me yet again how these moments pass to quickly, I know I'm doing all I can to hold on to it for what it is: beautiful, awful, messy, lovely, endearing, sweet, salty, and temporary.

We ALL know it's going to fast. And it's killing us inside. What's more, it's racking us with unnecessary guilt over wanting to just get through the day in the midst of wanting it to last forever! We can't have it both ways, mamas. Yet, it is what it is. It's okay to love it and hate it at the same time. It's okay to want to fast forward through poopy diapers and hit the pause button on the storytime. That's motherhood. It fills us up with extraordinary wonder and love, while draining our brain cells, patience, and energy all at the same time. Gratitude is not contingent upon our perfection. Our appreciation of this sacred life phase can transcend even the craziest of tantrums (ours OR the kids!)

Good job, mamas. Keep holding on. I know that you are grateful for these hard days too. It's okay to grieve the present as your heart prepares for the future. It's okay to be sad about the past we can't relive. It's okay to look forward to bedtime every night even though you miss them the second they drift off to sleep.

All we can do is our best. All we can do is pray for the rest. And someday, all too soon, we'll be the one looking at other young moms holding babies and get that lump in our throats (yes, the one you feel there right this second) and remind her how it all goes to quickly. Remind yourself now, you didn't let it go by without appreciation. You loved it, and you savored it in the moment when you could. Good mama.

Pre-Pregnancy Weight: No Ifs, Ands, or Big Butts

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

"Nine months on, nine months off." This is the mantra of any new mother seeking consolation in her old pair of skinny jeans. We hear this timeline and tell ourselves it seems reasonable to "get back to" our former bodies as if counting calories or taking walks was an actual time machine for our thighs.

For some, nine months is nine days. For others, nine months is years and years or never again. But, one thing is true for any mother - your body is never the same after having a baby. This isn't a story about weight loss, though. No, there's a much bigger lesson here than cracking the code to losing weight. (Otherwise I'd be sharing terrible tips like how to survive on a steady diet of Goldfish crackers and frozen waffles.)

Since driving myself crazy with body image issues in my youth, I strive to keep a healthy and reasonable outlook when it comes to my self-talk and body image.  But, it's not easy. I don't step on the scale very often, but last week I weighed myself and to my surprise saw my magic number: I'd reached my pre-pregnancy weight. I felt a sense of relief and pride as any semi-normal, semi-neurotic, red blooded American woman would. With my baby approaching her 9 month milestone, it seemed I'd met the goal right on time. I slipped on my Spanx, buttoned my jeans, and headed out the door with my head held high.

I took my middle daughter to Preschool as usual, toting her backpack and baby sister on my hip as we walked her to class. The hallway is always bustling with kids and moms in the morning, so it didn't phase me when another child walked up and started smiling at baby Vivian. Then, the child turned to me and said the words every non-pregnant woman cringes to hear: "Are you pregnant? You look like you're going to have another baby!"


After I punched the kid in the face...(Okay, I'm kidding, but in my imagination some version of that story definitely took place)

After I politely (and rather directly) corrected the youngster, I caught myself being completely deflated by what I had been proud of only moments earlier. I sucked in my stomach and silently retorted with a million "Seriously?s" in my head, frustrated by the false announcement. I paused. I sighed. An innocent, tactless, little twerp had put me in my place and I was ready to hand over my body image rights to the opinion of a five year old. Hmm. Who was being more ridiculous in this scenario?

Like most women, I've grown up in a society that has taught me to value a pound of flesh over an ounce of character, so my worth gets easily wrapped up in thoughts of cellulite and muffin tops. The world bombards us mamas with images of celebrity-bumps-begone, invading our realities with unattainable expectations that if we really had our acts together the jiggly belly that once housed a human would disappear before we checked out of the maternity ward. Our reality lines get blurry at the crossroads of "enough" and "perfect" to the point that we doubt the beauty of our inside the moment we question the beauty of our outside.

If we let the world decide how we're supposed to look, and we allow that judgment to affect us, our big mama butts don't stand a chance. 

I've never met a mama who didn't admit her soul was changed the moment she held her baby for the first time. Motherhood changes us, inside and out. Yes, my jeans will never fit quite the same way again. My booty is flat and my tummy is puffy and scarred forever. Don't even get me started on the nursing boobs (heading south like their trying to make it to Rio in time for the Olympics). It's true, my physical body is full of evidence that I've carried creatures into this world. Beautiful, magical creatures...that turn into the very people I sit with and laugh and discipline and hug every day.

I look like a mom, and it's awesome. Because for every little pooch or sag that shows on the outside, there are a million more signs of life on the inside that are far more important. 

My pregnancies taught me to be patient, to sit in awe, to truly feel life, and to love the unknown. My children grow me, challenge me, strengthen me, stretch me, and enlighten me daily. By getting to know who they are, I'm forced to shake up my instincts and be intentional with my thoughts and actions according to their needs. They have made me more creative, selfless, generous, patient, or loving than I ever thought possible. It is suuuuuuper difficult and uncomfortable, constantly learning how to parent these magical creatures that keep changing and growing along with me...but, I wouldn't trade it for a Victoria's Secret figure no matter what.

Mamas, it's time to love our whole selves, inside and out. Let's really own this mom body thing. Let's set the scale aside and buy new jeans and laugh off ridiculous comments from silly kids that are still trying to figure out how that baby got in your tummy in the first place. Let's compliment each other more often and smile when we are too tired to think of anything to say. Let's have the beauty of the soul-changing miracle we endured be evident in our self-talk and show up in how we care for ourselves.

I'm not saying this is easy or happening overnight.  Maybe it will take another nine months to believe all the truths I start to tell myself today. But, we can do it, mamas. You and me, and our beautiful baby-making-bodies at every weight, in every shape, full of treasures from the inside out. No buts about it.

2 Corinthians 4:16 
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

Psalm 139:14
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

Momming Hard: Celebrating the Single Mama

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

My hubby is out of town this week. He flew to Arizona to be with his folks while his dad had heart surgery (all went well, Praise the Lord) so I'm single-momming-it for the week.

This is not a big deal. I mean - it was planned, it's temporary, and I know that my husband is coming back on Friday so the chances that I actually drown in the sea of laundry that's accumulating is slim.

But, whoa man. There are mamas out there right now, doin this single-bit every day, and I am on my knees bewildered at their survival. I know some single moms that are truly ROCKING it, churning out edible lunches, kids with matching socks, and children who actually say please and thank you without prompting.

Single moms, my hat's off to you. As Mother's Day is right around the corner, I want you to know that you are seen and loved and seriously amazing the crap out of me right now.

Maybe you are widowed or divorced or separated. Maybe you're not technically "single", but you might be single-handedly ruling the roost for now. Maybe you are married but your husband is overseas or often called away on work. Whatever. You are truly momming hard.

I'm sorry that the world has shoved you under such a semi-deprecating stereotype as "single mom". As if it's any of the world's business how or why you have the jersey but no teammate in the crazy game of parenthood. I'm here to verbally hug you and say I really don't care how or why you are single, but I think we should come up with a new term altogether that embraces your amazingness at thriving partner-free. How about Super Star Mom? Momtastic Gal? Hmm. "Grand" Mother is already taken, so we'll have to keep brainstorming I guess.

Nevertheless, if you are momming hard on your own and your children are alive and well - BRAVO. I don't know how you do it.

Some of you may have not chosen this exact path for yourself. You may have had hearts broken or dreams shattered at one point in your life. There have been looks of judgement and glares of disappointment. No doubt someone has been unkind in their effort to "fix you" or been condescending in their unsolicited advice. I'm sure I've done my part in overlooking your needs or extraordinary selflessness, and for that I sincerely apologize.

I don't think you are living a "Second Best" life. There may have been bad people or bad choices or bad examples in the past that have led you to where your feet are planted today, but that doesn't mean you can't grow and flourish into something beyond your wildest dreams. God can use you exactly where you are, and He's already blessed you with children who stretch your patience and love boundlessly, giving you opportunities daily to see God's goodness. If that's not life's BEST, I don't know what is.

You are brave and beautiful. You have probably faced impossible choices and maybe no one was there to hug you or high five you when you put your children's needs above your own. You can be a living example of a loving sacrifice, and that is everything in parenthood, and God honors that. You are cared for by a God who knows your every need. You are more than enough for your children, and God has given them a whole, made-in-His-image, perfectly-chosen-for-this-position mother in YOU.

This Mother's Day, stand proud. Be that Mawesome... Shazam-a-mama....Ma-mazing, (nope, still striking out on this renaming thing) but BE THAT and know this mama is sitting back and praying for you to feel all the love and comfort and hope that you need. I hope your kiddos drench you in blessings and that the Holy Spirit fills you to the brim with peace in the assurance that you are His forever and ever.

Happy Mother's Day

National Infertility Awareness Week: How to #StartAsking and Support Family Building

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I don't know what it's like to receive a diagnosis of infertility. When it took me nearly a year to conceive our first child, my fertility appointment got changed to my first prenatal visit as I found out I was pregnant after months of trying. I don't know how devastating that diagnosis can feel, so I'm not going to act like I can understand what a couple is going through as they learn that news.

Many of you are like me, in the 90% of couples who are able to conceive within a year of trying. But, apart from actually having the babies in our arms, we are exactly like the other 10% of mothers and fathers waiting to hold their precious bundles of joy. We have felt the desire to want an expression of our devotion to raise as our own. We have known the gut-wrenching love inside of us waiting to erupt into the next generation. We understand the soulful yearning that echoes beyond our own purpose into something bigger than ourselves. In this, we are united. We are parents...with babies or without.

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, and it's a silent epidemic on relationships that many are too confused or uncomfortable to address. But, as long as we're all here on this crazy planet together, I think we need to do our best to raise awareness and support for those couples who are holding up love and patience in the wings. If it takes a village to raise a child, then the village helps now and not just after the pregnancy test turns pink.

You probably know someone who has had trouble conceiving or sustaining a pregnancy. Most of us know stories of miraculous conceptions, incredible adoptions, or IVF success. When we know a couple is trying, it can be awkward and difficult to know what to say or how to help. But, many times, we don't know the intimate details of a couple's struggle. Often, as the topic is sensitive and unique for each couple, we simply don't know who may be walking through this tender and challenging season.

RESOLVE.ORG is the website for the National Infertility Association and they've started a campaign to help #StartAsking how to support couples dealing with infertility. There is a myriad of resources and information on the website for couples, family, and friends who want to help with this issue.

Not sure where to start? 

Here's a great List of 25 Things To Say (And Not To Say) To Someone Living With Infertility

You can also learn about Fertility Facts here or Reproductive Facts so that you can educate yourself and build the support you or your friends need through this journey.

While I may not personally know the journey of infertility, it's a topic I study a lot in my research for helping couples and families. I fill in the gaps of my experience with facts and testimonies that help me gain understanding. And I try to empathize as much as possible, using other experiences I've had that remind me what it's like to have dreams crushed or hopes unraveled.

The feeling of disappointment is universal, so you have something to offer to this community even if infertility hasn't been part of your personal narrative. 

Building awesome families is close to my heart, and my own little brood was loved long before I held them in my arms. If you're reading this, you probably relate!

Pray for those couples still waiting in the wings, be sensitive and compassionate, and do what you can to learn more. You never know who God will place in your path that might become part of the incredible village that is raising our next generation.

For those waiting to hold babies... I love you. I might not know who you are, but your patience and strength are incomprehensible. I hope with you. I pray with you. I believe that God has placed a calling on you in this time and season for a purpose greater than anything we can know or feel right now. And I have faith in the Heavenly Father that the beyond-yourself-love that you possess will not go unused. I lay your desires at His feet and I wait with you.

Psalm 130:5 NIV
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.

UPDATE: Below is a helpful info-graphic made by the team at who offered it to me to share with you! Check out their website for more helpful tips about #NAIW and how to #StartAsking.

Cry It Out: What My Sleepless Baby Taught Me About Prayer

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Last night, we let baby Vivian "cry it out" a couple times in the night. Before you applaud or criticize, let me tell you that my philosophy for sleep training primarily centers around the idea that everyone in the house should simply take "the shortest route to rest". 

Sometimes this means nursing her for five minutes to get her back to sleep. Sometimes this means jumping up at her first cry to silence her before my other two daughters wake up. Sometimes this means turning up the whitenoise in everyone's room so we can hunker down into hibernation mode. If you've ever raised a zombie-baby (and this is my third) then, you can understand!

Vivi has been waking up every two hours on the dot for the last several weeks. At times this has fluctuated (as often as every hour, but only as long as 4 hours max) so yes, all that to say, I am quite exhausted. She's almost 8 months old, so the time of her "needing" food in the night has passed, but that doesn't stop her from needing me! I don't mind spoiling a baby, but when it comes to seeing her yawn and rub her eyes throughout the day because her own rest has been compromised, something's gotta give.

Besides, when I say "cry it out" what I really mean is "yell it out". This baby isn't sad, she is just AWAKE! She will shout from her crib and blab nonstop until she either crashes back to sleep or someone comes and sees what all the squawking is about. So, through all the "MAMAs" and the "DADADADAs" last night, I found myself praying and praying that she would find peace and comfort in our absence.

Honestly, I wanted to yell through the door back at her, "YOU'RE OKAY! YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED! WHAT YOU REALLY NEED IS SLEEEEEEP!" But, of course that wouldn't have done any good. She was fully convinced she needed me, whether for entertainment, comfort, or milk, she wanted to be snuggled up in my arms. While my mama heart was aching to give her all she desired, I knew that her needs were best met in what she could not see. The girl needed sleep, and if I had gone in to help her, I would have only stimulated her more which would have set us all back.

It was around 3am when it occurred to me how often I do this to God in my own prayer life. I shout my demands, telling God what I think I need help with, ordering my blessings like I'm reading a fast-food menu! Too often I am distracted by what I see (or want to see) that I totally forget the fact that God is working behind the scenes on behalf of my own good, to provide what I truly need. I'm bratty and short-sighted, while God is thumping me over the head with His Word and shouting "YOU'RE OKAY! YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED RIGHT HERE! TRUST ME!"

Well, God is much more merciful than that, thank goodness! He covers me in grace and I'm once again reminded at how many gaps there are in my prayers. I'm so grateful He fills in the blanks for us and has already set in place the provision for what will bring Him the most glory. I'm reminded how Oh yeah, duh my prayers are actually not a checklist for things I want, but rather a sacred communication and form of worship that connects me directly to my Creator.

Sometimes I cry it out. Sometimes I yell it out. Sometimes it feels like God is silent and nothing is happening and I'm stuck. And somehow my needs are met, all the same. God has already provided what I need, regardless of what I think I need. I just need to trust in Him. Wow, thank you Lord!

Now, when I hear that yelling baby in the night, I will try to focus on the presence of peace that will follow. I listen closely for the hush that follows the cries, for the calm that settles in after the confusion has faded. When that happy, well-rested baby wakes up in the morning, I am grateful that the temporary cries brought about much longer-lasting peace.

Psalm 66:19-20
But God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! 
Philippians 4:19
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Momtropolis: Who's In Charge Around Here?

Friday, April 1, 2016

Ever feel like you're running a small city of crazies? Wondering how you became Mayor of Loudville with skyscrapers of laundry and towers of dishes as your empire?

Welcome to Momtropolis.

Sometimes there are days when I get up on time, wash my face, make my bed, have the lunches already made, get the laundry folded AND put away, sneak in a phone call over nap time, and prepare an edible meal for my family before the sun sets. These days are RARE.

Usually, I'm fighting chaos. It's a valiant effort, but I almost always feel ill-equipped, underprepared, and utterly exhausted. I find myself overwhelmed by tasks and to-dos, beating down demons of insecurity and envy, and doing my best to combat mommy guilt or the disappointment of not getting enough done.

Sigh. Running Momtropolis is hard work, right? It's easy to ask "HOW did I end up here? WHY are these yahoos ordering me around? WHO is in charge around here?"

Kids are irrational little beings, demanding attention and needing constant supervision while incessantly asking questions as they explore new territories of the world around them. In short - they are crazy people. Even when the day runs smoothly, these tyrants are fighting for authority.

It's easy for me to look at my kids and think I couldn't possibly be the best person to be in charge around here. Surely there is someone better suited for the job, some other mother who they'd rather have bossing them around and teaching them with far more patience and love than I have to give.

Then I remember - Momtropolis is not a Democracy. My kids didn't vote me into office. They didn't have a say in what kind of mom they got. They got me. And I was placed here by the King Himself.

Momtropolis is a Monarchy. As a daughter of the King, I'm poised for the distinct honor of carrying out His purpose for our little domain. I inherited these blessings, to oversee with His guidance and protection. I'm going to make mistakes, I'm going to totally blow it at times; but, my loving Ruler is consistently there for me to lean on and turn to and gain reassurance that He entrusts these things to me because I totally entrust them to Him.

I can't do this job without Jesus. Bottom line. I'm so grateful that I'm not the be-all-end-all final word when it comes to raising these adorable lunatics. I'm so glad my salvation doesn't depend on my ability to fold laundry. I'm incredibly humbled that my relationship with God isn't contingent on how well my kids turn out. It's these truths that offer me peace in the midst of Momtropolis. And, when I look around and feel lost in the middle of my own town, I turn to the King for direction.

Be encouraged, mamas, you Mayors of Toddlertowns and Babyvilles. You don't feel in charge because you don't need to be! You have a sovereign King who appointed you to your privileged position with the title of MOM, and He is there to provide you the support, guidance, and hope you need to make it to tomorrow.

Let this passage from Ephesians encourage you today:
I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit - not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength - that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all the followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love...God can do anything you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. - Ephesians 3: 15-18, 20

Early Easter: Teaching Your Kids About the Death and Resurrection of Christ

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Easter is early this year. It feels strange, shopping for chocolate bunnies and hiding eggs before the grass even needs to be mowed. Spring break has sent me into a tailspin of parent-overtime, keeping my kids from fighting and trying to make the most of our time together while maintaining my sanity (no easy feat!)

It's easy to get overwhelmed by everyday life, let alone the prep for a major holiday. I get easily distracted by the pastel brouhaha that Easter brings with it. One step into any retail store and you're practically accosted with spring fever.

With Easter being this early, I'm particularly overcome with the responsibility of appropriately teaching my children the true meaning of Easter. I get hung up on nuances of doctrine or which passage to read to them, then I get frustrated when they won't sit still and listen or if they change the subject back to bunnies and candy. I worry about whether the Scripture will sink into their hearts or if the power of the Resurrection will ever make its way past their ears and into their souls. I get anxious about the story being too scary, too gruesome, or whether I'm making it too child-proof for it to have the impact it needs. Good grief!

Do you have these worries? Do you second guess yourself enough that you avoid the topic altogether? You are in good company, friend!

When I get perplexed by where to begin, I take a breath, I give up, I thank the Holy Spirit for His presence and allow Him to actually do His job (which I have failed at yet again). I don't know about you, but I'm a terrible Holy Spirit! I so quickly take it upon myself to drive truth into the hearts of my children that I can completely discount the power God has on their individual hearts. I'm so glad I have the privilege of being their mother - and not their Savior! 

Easter may be early this year, but it's always the right time for truth. I absolutely believe that reading the Scriptures aloud to your children is wonderful and beneficial. But, if you're kids are squirrelly like mine and you both need a digestible way to learn about Easter, check out The Jesus Storybook Bible. Our church gifts this children's Bible when babies are dedicated, and I absolutely adore it.

For Good Friday:
I couldn't find an easy online version of "The Sun Stops Shining" chapter which is perfect for reading about the crucifixion, so, this is the best I could do... (credit to Zondervan for the material below and hopefully they don't make me take down these photos of their beautiful book)

For Easter:
But, I did find this video version (below) of the Resurrection chapter titled "God's Wonderful Surprise" that you and your kiddos can watch for Easter! ENJOY!

When you feel overwhelmed by the wonder of Christ's sacrifice for us - let your kids see that! It is normal to feel strong emotions when we reflect on the truth about Easter. I do my best to trust God to fill in the blanks where I fall short as a parent. I know I can't perfectly dictate His Words into their little hearts, and I'll never be the example of His love that Jesus was.

But, this early Easter, I'm compelled to TRUST - wholly and completely - in His power, His perfection, His plan. Thanks be to God for sending His Son, for the death and the Resurrection.

Happy Easter - He is Risen!

Introducing: Recommendations!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Check out the new tab above to see the latest PARDYMAMA RECOMMENDATIONS!

In a world where we all need STUFF, it can get confusing and frustrating to get a straight answer about what works. I'm here to lend my honest feedback about the stuff I use, love, and would recommend to any mama out there!

You won't see a lot of negative feedback on my site because frankly, if I don't like it, I don't waste your time with mentioning it. But, when I love something - I want the world to know about it!

I never get paid for my reviews, so you can know that when a product gets the Thumbs Up from me, I truly mean it.

You can always click on the Recommendations tab at the top to keep up to date with any new products that get my stamp of approval (and sometimes DISCOUNTS)!

If you think you know a product that deserves my attention, hit me up! Contact me here and I'll give you the details!

Go Green: Why I Love Pure Haven Essentials

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day! What better day to make a change and GO GREEN?

If you're like me, when you first hear the words "non-toxic" you might think "not as effective" or "too expensive"- (which is what I've experienced in the past with many so-called-natural products). It's just so hard to know what products to trust these days. Can you relate?

I often turn to my friend Jessica when I have questions about health and wellness for my family. Jessica Hodson is a mom of two, a strong Christian, and a friend of mine from way way back - which is why I trust her advice completely!

I'm super excited to introduce you to her, because she's also an Executive Leader for Pure Haven Essentials - awesome non-toxic products for your family!

I want to tell you about the PHE products I've tried for the past few weeks - because they WORK, they are LOVELY, and most of all they are HEALTHY for everyone in your family!
Check out Jessica's website for yourself to see what products might fit your family's needs!
Here are my favorites:
Dream Cream
Addicted! This thick lotion is yummm in a bottle. Seriously.  I'm kinda sensitive to scents, and this delicious cream is like vanilla-birthday-cake-meets-clean-laundry-on-a-warm-spring-day. So um, yeah, you're gonna want to try this.
It's no surprise this is one of the most popular PHE products - it's downright AMAZING. Between winter weather and breastfeeding, my skin has been extra dry. This Dream Cream has been the only thing I've found to keep my skin moisturized throughout the day without having to reapply (a little goes a long way!)
It also has a zillion uses! I also used it on baby Vivian's cradle cap, and it washed out easily, smelled lovely, and I haven't needed to use it again since!
How they packed all this into one cream truly is a dream! This gets my TOP recommendation, for sure.

Body Butter (This product is COMING SOON, but I got a sneak peek already!)
For those extra-dry spots, this is your answer in a jar. It's similar to the Dream Cream, but thicker and with a more "lemon-drop" scent. I like to apply it to my cuticles, elbows, and knees at bedtime for an extra boost of moisture. I love that it's safe to use on my kids (after playing outside all day, their skin needs extra TLC too!) and it's scent is gender neutral enough that even my husband can use it!

Lavender Bar Soap
Love me some lavender! I'm not usually a fan of bar soap, but when I saw this lavender gift set, I was so excited to try it! The soothing, calming qualities of lavender (great for sleep too!) are evident in this soap. It didn't dry out my skin (like usual soap does) and it lathered up nice and sudsy too. What's more, it didn't get all gunky on the bottom from sitting on my shower shelf! In a pinch, I even used it on my face a couple times and it never made me break out which truly attests to it's purity. If you love lavender, this is a must!

Moisturizing Hand Soap (This product is COMING SOON, but I got a sneak peek already!)
How many times has your husband commented on how good your hand soap is? Probably never, right?! Well, you can imagine my surprise when I hear my beloved from the bathroom say "Where did you get this hand soap? It's so nice and I love the smell!" Haha. True story.
This soap is a family favorite. It's clear, so it looks good filling any container, and it's soft scent leaves your hands feeling smooth and clean. It's everything you want in a hand soap, but with none of the harsh chemicals! Yay for clean hands!

Night Serum
This was a BONUS with the order I received (yes, there are tons of PERKS offered each month and ever-changing!) and I was thrilled to add it to my skincare regimen. I'm always timid about trying new things on my face, but this mild, sweet-orangey-smelling serum left my skin super soft by morning. I was fearful that putting "oil" on my face might make it break out, but instead the opposite was true!? I had a blemish vanish within two days of using it, along with some winter dryness on my cheeks. Better yet, it only took about HALF a pump to cover my face and neck, which means this little bottle will last me a long time.

For Babies
Baby Wash & Shampoo 
I always say it's impossible to spoil a baby because they deserve the very best - but, if you were going to try, start with this! This wash is mild enough for baby's delicate skin, and my Vivian loved splashing in the bubbles it made (many times "natural" products don't suds up the same as synthetic products). The scent is extremely mild too, very clean and fresh, but left my baby smelling like her sweet self and not some overly-powdery-bundle-of-joy. Most of all, it's incredibly reassuring to know I'm bathing my precious girl in something that will leave her truly clean, free from any chemicals that could possibly harm her.

Baby Lotion
DEFINITELY purchase the lotion when you buy the shampoo - it's worth it! This yummy cream is thick enough that a dime-size will cover your whole baby (I used WAY too much the first time!) and it absorbs completely. Many lotions I've tried have left a tacky residue, but this lotion leaves my baby's skin moist without being sticky. All the better to kiss!
The fresh scent is very gender neutral too, so it would make a great baby shower gift for anyone with a little one on the way.
100% honest & never paid
for my recommendations

Ready to shop? Want to learn more?
Pure Haven Essentials makes it easy to take a step towards non-toxic living because they offer products for your whole family! Jessica would be thrilled to tell you more about everything PHE has to offer, and you can contact her any time to find out more!

MARCH 2016 Customers can use Party ID 138824 and will receive a FREE SKIN TONER with their $95 order! There's a new special each month, so be sure to check out her Facebook Page to keep up with all the great deals!

Choosing Pure Haven Essentials for my family is a no-brainer; not only are the products highly effective, luxurious and completely safe, but they are products with a mission. A mission to change lives and a mission to change the world for the better. 
-Jessica Hodson, Executive Leader with Pure Haven Essentials

Breaking the Internet and the Hearts of Mothers Everywhere: Reposting My Open Letter to Kim K

Thursday, March 10, 2016

(This is a repost which is wildly relevant again today in light of recent events.)

Dear Kim,

Let me admit right off the bat that I have zero expectation of you ever reading this.  I understand you are in the one-zillionth percentile of celebrities who could probably care less about normies like myself who have an opinion about our perception of who you are.  This is more than a letter, it's a format for me to use my tiny space on the web to get the word out on how I feel about your recent actions.  So, let's call a spade a spade and get that out of the way.  Fair enough.

You broke the internet this weekend.  You posed for a cover of a magazine and fully exposed your derriere for the world to gawk at.  It's not the first time you've given the masses something to get bug-eyed about, and I'm certain it won't be the last.  But, you broke more than the internet - you broke my heart.

From what I can tell, you and I only have one thing in common - but, it's a big thing (no, not that big thing, my flat booty holds no contest to your curves).  We're both mothers of girls.  We're raising females in a world where individuals with money, looks, and power are considered "successful".

We're raising girls in a society that values dominance and accumulation over integrity and virtue.  And while you and I might stand at very opposite ends of these spectrums, I would gather that you know these things to be true even more than I do.  You're in it.  You're living it.  You are the proof that these things get noticed, shared, and applauded.

But, here's where we part ways.  I don't get how you can do use your platform in that way and raise your daughter in this world.  Why, Kim, why?

There's an astronomical amount I want to teach my daughters, and not one of them has to do with the size of her ass.  I want my girls to know they can be smart and beautiful, full of integrity and authoritative, compassionate and assertive, and while they can play with their Barbies and watch Disney Princesses fall in love, they hold so much more in their unique little hearts than their body will ever ever ever be able to reflect on the outside.  They are more than their booties.  More than their someday-breasts.  More than their clothes, hair, or perfect skin.  Barbie ain't got nothin on my babies!

Kim, you are more than your backside.  You may have first been noticed in the celebrity world because of your curvy booty, but you are greater than the sum of your parts (or one part in particular) if you'd give us a chance to notice that too.  We have NO IDEA who you really are, and you aren't helping us get to know you.  In fact, your backside is preventing us from seeing who you might actually be, and the platform you've been given in this life could be used for so much more for our daughters.

We live vastly different lives, no doubt.  But, you and I have girls who would laugh and play and share silly stories about tutus and dolls if we got together, I guarantee it.  They would color pictures, sing songs, and at the end of the day the glare of the world's view of their value would melt away in the sound of their giggles.  We're not just raising girls, we're raising future mothers too.  No matter what they grow up to look like - whether they have model curves or model noses or model waistlines, let's remember this - we're raising the next generation of role models.

If you could do me and mothers everywhere a favor and just sit on that truth (pun intended, of course) then maybe you can gain some perspective of how crazy and massive this whole parenting thing really is.  I'm not here to hate you cause you're pretty or bash on you cause of the choices you've made.  This isn't some call to judgement about why I think you're a terrible person.  It's an invitation.  An invitation to engage more than your looks and your power - an invitation to take a step towards empowering the girls we're raising to someday become leaders and rockers and artists and musicians and scientists and engineers who change the world for the better.

Then maybe we'll see magazine covers of women exposing their brilliance rather than their bodies.  Maybe it's possible.  Maybe you could help.


Emily Pardy

Little Women: 5 Myths About Raising Strong Girls

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Today is International Women's Day! As a mother of three girls, it's important to me to acknowledge days like today, taking a time out to pass on some gratitude for strong women who have forged the path ahead of us and helped paved the way for a more equal future for my daughters.

A lot of my friends, family and readers tend to cringe at the word "Feminism" thinking it is reserved for those with picket signs, narrow agendas, or just those conspiring to rid the world of bras. As a Jesus follower and a Feminist, I'm not interested in any of those things. I'm a strong-willed woman with a passion for knowing and loving Jesus and striving to raise my girls to seek their identity in Christ and know their value full well - equally, uniquely, beautifully. Celebrating women is a great way to encourage this!

There are a lot of moms out there who struggle with this concept, and I invite you to continue struggling! Wrestling with questions and doubts is what makes us seek change and it motivates us to keep learning and praying. I hope that we can encourage one another as mothers to raise our children up in a world that respects differences and welcomes the opportunity to involve the strengths of others.

Here are 5 common myths that many mamas deal with when it comes to raising strong girls, I hope my words offer you a good hug and a high five if you are in the midst of it just like I am!

5 Myths About Raising Strong Girls

1. She needs to be good at things "boys do".
False. The world wants us to believe that particular strengths are gender-based. So maybe your daughter is good at sports, and maybe she's not. Maybe your girl is great at baking cookies, and maybe she hates to help in the kitchen. Not everything is a competition, and your daughter is simply going to have preferences all her own as an individual. While we have hurdles to conquer in getting more girls involved in things like science, engineering, and math, the voice of a strong woman should make a mark in all facets of society.  So, help her grow wherever she plants her feet! Simply ASKING what she likes and why she likes it is a beautiful way to encourage your girl towards discovering her unique gifts and allowing her to use them wherever the road leads.

2. She can't see me as a role model if I'm a stay-at-home mom.
False. If you are home in this season, congratulations. You've chosen an admirable profession for the time being, and it's most likely not forever. Thrive where you are, and use your time and presence with wisdom and gratitude. You are wearing MANY hats right now and have the opportunity to showcase what feminism truly is: freedom to choose what is best for you. If, on the other hand, you are working outside the home in any capacity - you also bear this responsibility. You are no less a mother just as you are no less a woman because of what you do. Share with your daughters why it is important to you to be doing whatever you are doing! Teach her that each person has something worthwhile to contribute and work for.

3. She'll believe she can really be anything she wants.
False. Some parents have this fear that raising a strong girl will give her a skewed view that she's fantastic at everything or deserving of more than the world can actually offer. This belief falls somewhere between believing all women are naive and all women are spoiled - neither of which are accurate. More girls struggle with knowing their true value than from being too vain. If you think you shouldn't nurture your daughter's worth because you're worried about her being too full of herself - stop worrying. For most, the world will take us all down a notch or two when we least expect it. As her parent, limiting your daughter ahead of time only hinders natural progress. Faulting on the side of support, on the other hand, will show her you are there for her whether she succeeds or not.

4. She'll become a bitch.
False. Sorry for the language, but of course you worry about this. Yes, someone in her life will call her that, guaranteed. But, if it's because she is speaking truth, choosing love, or showing kindness, she will be the kind of woman who can withstand the taunt. If you are worried that helping her stand up for equality will turn her into a harsh, snarky, pantsuit-wearing, she-devil then you have probably just watched too many movies from the nineties and you have bought into a stereotype. "Career-minded" is actually not a social death sentence for many successful women, and the world only benefits when women make strides in leadership. A strong girl needs to see equal examples of integrity, respect, and humility from men and women in leading positions. When that's done well she will know that kindness can truly drive action.

5. She'll believe she won't need a man and not get married.
False. Is your goal for your daughter to simply marry her off? I doubt it. If raising a girl with a smart head, a kind heart, and a loving spirit is too intimidating for a particular gent, then by all means let him keep walking. While I pray for the potential sons-in-law I may embrace someday, I know that a husband is not a requirement for what's best for my girls. Every characteristic I possess as a wife I hold on my own as a person first. The fact that I'm married simply allows me to express those same qualities in a way that's unique to my spouse. Marriage is not a safety net to co-parent your daughter in her later years. Remember this when you are playing dress-up or dolls and watching Disney movies. Relationships of all kinds benefit and grow us in extraordinary ways. Your daughter will not be "lesser than" if she doesn't find a spouse and let you plan the wedding of her dreams (which she probably won't let you do anyway, so just let that go!) Help equip her for success regardless of what's in store - teach your daughter about finances, safety, vehicle basics, and household repair tasks, allowing her to thrive beyond gender role constraints. As she develops her worldview, she'll be able to look beyond the complements of a partner, seeking out traits like honesty, integrity, trust, and respect that matter in all relationships.

We don't live in an easy world, but women from every walk of life bring beauty and strength to the diversity around us. A woman's voice benefits everyone - so don't be afraid to use yours! When we speak the truth in love, we break down barriers far greater than gender inequality.

Happy International Women's Day - and many blessings to you and the strong girls in your life!

Why I Asked My Husband To Buy Me Flowers: Confessions of a Rotten Receiver

Thursday, February 18, 2016

I'm a rotten receiver. Getting gifts is NOT my love language, to say the least.

It's not that I don't like "stuff". I love stuff! I buy stuff all the time! But, I get gift anxiety when it comes to receiving from others. I worry about how I'll react when I get it, if they'll know I truly appreciate it, or if I'll thank them enough, or if whatever I got them in return is a proper "match" for what they got me. I feel a nagging sensation of guilt if it is something I don't need and even more guilt if it's something I don't actually want.

As you can imagine, I'm hard to buy for. I usually ask for consumable things like food or gift cards, stuff that I can use up or apply toward something practical. I loathe surprises, so I would rather pick an item out ahead of time and know I'll like it rather than risk the possibility that someone might actually find something I'll sincerely like.

Like I said, rotten.

I'm admitting this now because I suspect I'm not alone. I would gamble that there are other mothers out there that have become just as pragmatic as I have. In the world of clipping coupons, collecting Box Tops, Pampers points, and Grouponing, we're molded into a form that demands we cut corners where we can. On top of that, the needs of our family are growing and it seems wildly irresponsible to be spoiled by others.

Also, if you're like me, I'm not striving to be a martyr here. I genuinely take greater pleasure in seeing my kids open gifts than opening one myself. But, it wasn't until recently that it dawned on me that by short-changing myself on gifts, I'm actually depriving them of something greater than anything I could wrap up or stick a bow on.

My kids need to see their mom get spoiled rotten, not be a rotten receiver.

This Valentine's Day, I asked my husband to buy me flowers. I asked him to buy flowers for our girls too, and start a new tradition that will help them set the bar high when it comes to "how a lady should be treated". Of course my husband was thrilled to do it - poor guy has been kept at bay for years trying to shower me with this or that! (Did I mention that gifts is his love language?!)

I want my girls to grow up seeing their mother receive well. Not just politely, but deservedly. Not just graciously, but with humility. What good do I serve them if they see me buying my own Christmas gifts? What am I teaching them if I only ever get what I want? I want to be a better recipient of the blessings around me, crediting God and the thoughtfulness of others, and attempting to show them that I recognize I am valuable to many!

Made for each other.
If I want them to grow up and get spoiled by men who are worthy of their love, then I need to model it now. It may take a long time for me to turn the corner from making this change "for them" to taking it on as how I really feel about gifts, but that's okay. Actions can speak louder than words, and I'm hoping this change will shout out to them "YOU ARE WORTHY OF THIS!"

The sunflowers my husband bought me brought more than just beauty to our home. They helped mark a turning point for me as a wife and mother. The flowers will wilt and die, but their sentiment remains. And when I kissed his face with gratitude and got a resounding "Ewwww!" from my girls, my heart knew it was the right move.

Calling All Parents!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Are we ready to start a family?

This is the question many couples ask when they come to the crossroads of entering parenthood. If you are already a parent, then you know it's daunting to step through the threshold of having a baby.

In a new survey I've constructed, I'm evaluating that very topic: How prepared did you feel when you became a parent? I'm gearing up for a new project regarding parenthood preparedness, and I NEED YOUR HELP!
I'll be keeping the survey open for several weeks, so please feel free to SHARE the link with your friends, neighbors, co-workers, family, that nice gal from Bible Study and so on... The more the merrier!

Your answers help me understand your unique experience through conception, pregnancy, and the first year after your baby was born.  It's anonymous, there's no "right" answer, and it only takes a couple minutes to complete.  Best of all, your input will contribute to helping couples in the future as they approach this sacred life stage for themselves!

Please encourage all parents you know to TAKE THE SURVEY and give their much needed input! You can even take the survey on your mobile device (woohoo for multitaskers!)

Thank you in advance - and be sure to keep your eye on the blog for future updates about this!

Y is for Yawn: The Mom Alphabet

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I've got one in Kindergarten and another headed there next fall, so the alphabet is a popular topic in our household these days. Every day we are spelling new words, learning sounds, and practicing writing those tricky curves and bumps that make up the language we love.

I love it...but it can get wearing.

So, this one's for the moms of alphabet-learners out there! Next time you are up to your neck in vowel sounds, crossing t's and dotting i's, maybe you can think of this and get that smile back on your face.


The Mom Alphabet

A is for Appetite, as I eat your leftover goldfish crackers for breakfast.
B is for Backwash that you leave in my water bottle after only ONE SIP.
C is for Crumbs that I vacuum up in your bed, car seat, and anywhere you've ever been.
D is for Drool that pools on your pillowcase when you finally crash for a nap.
E is for Evite for the birthday parties you get invited to nearly every weekend.
F is for Free, which you know how to spell because they are the only apps you're allowed to buy.
G is for Grocery cart that you won't sit in until it's too full of food to have room for you.
H is for Hamburger Helper which is way more work than the box makes it sound like.
I is for Instagram that lets me  filter out how tired mommy really is.
J is for Juice, which you want more of as soon as I sit down.
K is for Kale, and kale is for suckers.
L is for Laundry that never ever ever ever ends.
M is for McDonald's play land when it's winter and mommy gives up.
N is for Netflix. Enough said.
O is for Oh no, when it gets too quiet around here and I know something is up.
P is for Popcorn, which I will be vacuuming up from under our couches for the next decade.
Q is for Quarter, that I don't have for that video game over there and never will so stop asking.
R is for Reheating my coffee again and again and again.
S is for Sweaty head when you wake up from your nap and I could just eat you up.
T is for Timehop that makes me swoon and sob inside my heart each day.
U is for Uh-oh, which is never good to hear from the other room.
V is for Vacuuming. Again.
W is for What did I forget to buy at the store/put in your backpack/mark on the calendar today?
X is for eXactly how many times do I need to ask you to find your [ anything ] before we can leave?
Y is for Yawn as I tuck you in for the millionth time.
Z is for Zzzz as I fall asleep watching Downton Abbey way past my bedtime.

Ain't No One Got Time For That: True Self-Care For Mamas

Thursday, January 14, 2016

I'm really good at chatting about self-care. I have my Masters in Marriage & Family Therapy, after all. I have three children and put on deodorant today, for heaven's sake. I have a marriage that still makes me smile and remembered to schedule my six-month dentist check-up only 10 months after the last one! I mean, I'm seriously good at this self-care business, right?

If you're like me, you are great at telling others how to take better care of themselves, but slipping slowly down the sub-par slope yourself. Cringing yet?

As mothers, we deal daily in the chores of sympathy, compassion, care, and inevitably spread ourselves too thin across the needs of our family, all in the name of love. This is wonderful. This is often necessary. But, this is not sustainable. 

Yesterday, I joined a Bible Study that "I don't have time for", "It's just far enough away to be too far", "I don't even know if anyone I know will be there", "I'm not even sure what they are studying", and "I'm not sure I want to commit or feel obligated to keep going".

Sound familiar?

I can easily think of a million reasons not to go. I have plenty of dishes/laundry/cooking that I could fill that time-slot with. I didn't even want to tell anyone I was considering going in case I backed out at the last minute.

Then I remembered that in the last two years, God brought me through the absolute busiest time of my life. With two children, I got through grad school, held a part-time job, and had a book published, and somehow managed to not completely have my brain melt.

God was faithful, and while I have no desire to relive that kind of manic schedule, I know that He provides what I need when I need it - including time (and especially time to worship Him)!

I often forget that true self-care starts from the inside out. Soul care doesn't just happen on its own. 

I don't just feel joyful because of the "stuff" I have or the blessings around me. I don't just automatically desire to read the Bible every day because it's the "right thing to do". I don't constantly thank Jesus for saving me simply because I should. AND I SHOULD...but, reality holds obligations, deadlines, crying babies, phone calls, and dentist appointments that I allow to get in the way.

It's easy to think that something so basic as taking care of ourselves should come naturally. But, I'm here to tell you that it's OKAY to schedule it in. Do it!

You don't have to join a Bible Study. That's not necessarily the answer for you in the season you are in. But, how are you taking care of yourself? Wine nights with girlfriends and the occasional mani/pedi might be what most mommy blogs are urging you to do - but I'm here to ask, What are you doing to pamper your soul?

I'm learning how to do this right alongside you, mamas. I am thick in the struggle of balancing all the spinning plates while riding a unicycle, just like you are. I pray every day that I will appreciate this season, even through the groggy fog of sleep deprivation and the sounds of whiney children and the reheated cups of coffee.  It's hard.

But, let's remember who is truly spinning all those plates. It's not us. It's certainly not by my strength that my children get hugged and disciplined all in the same day. It's not by my faithfulness that food is on the table or the unfolded laundry keeps us warm day to day.

Give yourself the time-out that a mama sincerely deserves, and let us encourage one another to focus on the One from whom all blessings flow. We all got time for that.
If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. - Jeremiah 29:13 NLT 

Ten Resolutions for Normal Mothers (That Have Nothing To Do With Kids)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Happy New Year! It's 2016 - the year we're all going to be healthier, calmer, and happier. Right? [Insert fear and loathing here.]

As a mother of three, every night feels like New Year's Eve to me. When my kids are finally in bed and the house gets eerily quiet, it's all I can do to fend off the mommy guilt and combat my insecurities of the day. And as the thoughts of would've-should've-could'ves come trickling in, I commit to doing better the next day.

Tomorrow I won't yell at her when she can't find her other shoe and we're ten minutes late. Tomorrow I'll have supper ready at a normal hour and it will include a vegetable. Tomorrow I'll wake up earlier and take a shower before the kids wake up. Tomorrow I'll fold that pile of laundry that's taking up the entire couch. 

This is a wearing cycle. Do you relate?

Not every day is New Year's Day. I can't keep starting over like this. Who's with me?

I need practical solutions I can conquer throughout the day so I can look back in the evening with a feeling of triumph and not disdain. I want goals that are not only attainable, but progressive and have lasting impact.

So, I've come up with Ten Resolutions for NORMAL Mothers that will help keep you focused on the true priorities that offer your kids an example rather than a new set of rules. You can do these as often or as little as you like - but, when you are feeling bogged down that "nothing got done today", try one out and feel a sense of accomplishment instead!

Here we go!

1. Thank Jesus out loud. 
It's awkward and cheesy, but nothing stops complaining like saying "Thank you Jesus for this house that keeps us warm!" in front of your children. Maybe they will even join in.

2. Hold your spouse's hand. 
At dinner. On the couch. In the car. It doesn't really matter where or for how long. But if each of you has one hand free at the same time (i.e. the planets are aligned just right) then go for it.

3. Cereal for dinner.
If it's good enough to start the day, it's good enough to end with. Your kids will thank you. Your husband will survive. Just make it a thing and when the pantry is low and your guilt starts to creep up surprise everyone with bowls on the table that night. Voila.

4. Like stuff.
What do you like? I like coffee and I like cardigans and I like red lipstick even though I don't really wear it since I smooch my baby a lot and don't want her covered in splotches. There, was that so hard? When you feel worried about irrational things or have negative thoughts, start naming things you like and get to know why you like the stuff you like. It's amazing how much time can pass without someone asking you what you like - so ask yourself!

5. Get hooked on a TV show.
Congratulations! Chances are good you've already conquered this one. Keep at it. I know this sounds crazy, but in this chaotic phase of life with diaper blow-outs and Kindergarten politics, I need some seriously out-there fictional drama to look forward to now and then. It's okay to escape. It's okay to be entertained. And if you can't add this to your list of resolutions that you accomplish this year, I'm not sure we can be friends. Just sayin.

6. Wash your face, breathe, repeat.
You have time for this. It feels great. You need to do it. I know it feels silly to say these things, but when you are packing lunches and wiping little bottoms all day, even the most basic self-care can get tossed to the side when all you want to do is sleep. But, I have found that washing my face even in the middle of the day or to kickstart the morning or just before bed (so, anytime ever really) is more than cleansing for the pores, it just makes me calmer. It's a reset button that's just one washcloth away. You can do it.

7. Put shoes on.
I don't know if there's any research on this, but I get at least twice as much done in a day if I'm wearing shoes. It feels like I have somewhere to go, something to do, some place to be.  And I do! Even if it is, right here, sitting, folding laundry for my family.

8. Drink a glass of water.
I don't know anybody who drinks enough water. If the whole day is shot - then drink a glass of water and pat yourself on the back. Your body with thank you and it forces you to slow down for at least that moment. Bonus points if you say a prayer of gratitude for having clean water to drink while doing it!

9. Read a verse. 
Just one. Any book of the Bible. Any chapter. Yes, it would be lovely to sit down for an hour and sip coffee while getting out a Beth Moore study or highlighting a series of topics throughout the Word. There are days for that, and I hope they are many. But, some days your Bible gathers dust and you can't seem to recall if Hosea was in the Old Testament or the New Testament and you just need a hug. YOU ARE A NORMAL, CHRISTIAN MOTHER. And just one verse can travel to your core and give you peace that surpasses your understanding. On the days you just can't get any quiet time - google a verse and read it. You have time for that.

10. Smile in the mirror.
Be a dork. Just do it. Enjoy your face and try to see what everyone else gets to see the rest of the day. Even if your hair is a mess and you have spinach in your teeth (and by spinach I mean Oreos, of course) you look better with a smile. The action itself releases endorphins in your brain to trigger happy chemicals that can help you stay calm when you find your toddler coloring on the wall in the next room. Smile at yourself - it makes it a lot easier to smile at everyone else too.

This may not be the year you get out of debt or lose 30 pounds or cook every meal from scratch. Maybe you've already blown your resolutions and are frustrated with your willpower. It's going to be okay. You're in good company.

My kids don't need a thinner, perfectly organized, robot-mother. They need me. And I didn't decide that - God did! So, the best thing I can offer them in the new year is an honest human who's depending on Jesus openly. The other stuff will get done as always does.

This year I'm trying to focus less on what I'm doing and more on what I'm learning. I'm trying to stay honest with myself and keep my priorities centered more around the things that last forever (Jesus, relationships, gratitude) and allow myself the freedom to let go of the things that are temporary (dirty dishes, crumbs in the bunk bed).

Tonight, as I inevitably fold the clothes I'm neglecting in my dryer right now, I'm going to choose to thank Jesus out loud for the opportunity to live today and enjoy the little faces I get to hug on and kiss goodnight. And, instead of saying "I'll do better tomorrow", I'm going to rest in the assurance that today had plenty of purpose all its own.
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