Author Archives: Emily

The Christian Mama’s Guide to Parenting a Toddler by Erin MacPherson

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toddler

What happens when your little baby morphs into a whole different person over night, leaving you with a child who thinks he can defy gravity and that cookies are the new broccoli? Gone are the days of endless cuddles. There is a new kid in town, and he has many great adventures in store for you. But there is something much greater than rescuing your child from swinging on the kitchen chandelier.  Saving his heart, pointing him in the direction of Christ, outweighs every other aspect of raising a toddler. Teaching your child to read at one or solving quadratic equations by two is not an essential. Raising a child who sees the love of Christ all around him, who is taught about God and the redeeming power of the Christ’s redeeming love, is far greater.

When I opened the envelope to find The Christian Mama’s Guide to Parenting a Toddler, I quickly put down every other thing I was doing and reading and dove right in. Why? Erin MacPherson is hysterical and I loved reading her book The Christian Mama’s Guide to Having a Baby. We’re also on the brink of entering toddler-dom. I need all the mental prep and wisdom I can get before heading into the adventure that awaits. As expected, I found myself laughing out loud, snorting at times, and finding the need to share many Dino nuggets of insight with my husband.

With topics including how to handle the toddler tantrums while avoiding your own meltdowns, how not to potty train your child, special sections for both stay at home moms and working moms, and what to do when even the pediatrician hasn’t seen a case quite like yours, The Christian Mama’s Guide to Parenting a Toddler is a perfect and easy read for all mom’s (and even dads) who find their homes and lives being hijacked by chaos. MacPherson includes prayers, tips, and quality advice on how to focus our hearts toward finding joy in the Lord even during the most trying of situations.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Spring e-Cleaning

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I’ve been thinking about some of the things that bog me down during the day. My computer is one of them! Ok, my computer is pretty much the only big one. There is so much online that wastes my time.

Some of these time wasters are:

  • Email that I have to wade through. As of yesterday, there were thousands of messages in my email inbox, about 300 unread ones.
  • Facebook- be it groups I don’t participate in, pages I “liked” to claim coupons or enter contests, and people who really have too much drama in their lives and I really don’t need to know about the every detail of their day or their fight with so-and-so.
  • Twitter notifications, even though I’ve not done much on Twitter in the few years I’ve had an account.
  • Followings on Pinterest. I *love* Pinterest, and I’ve used it to better our home and life in certain ways

But Spring is nearing and before I tackle the madness in my house, I’ve started to clean up my little portion of the internet!

  • I’ve weeded out my email. I no longer have 3,000 or so emails in my inbox or 300 unread emails. There are now less than 150 emails in my box (most of which contain some level of importance) and less than 20 I’ve not read. I no longer have folders and folders of unread mail either. They’re all gone!
  • I’ve unsubscribed to roughly 50 different mailings I would get on a daily or weekly basis. If I don’t visit the website within a week or two, why bother continuing my email subscription?  And can I just say, LivingSocial and Groupon are the two worst offenders of email spam! They have so many sub-category email groups. I don’t need Groupon goods or LivingSocial escapes. One email a day from their company is more than enough, not ten!
  • Facebook has been trimmed too. Over the course of the past few weeks, I’ve deleted roughly 200 friends. Maybe that sounds mean, but I’ll explain my reasoning. I’ve been a part of the Facebook world since the beginning of 2005, and thus accumulated a number of friends from all areas of my life. If I’ve not talked with the person in the last five to ten years, are we really “friends” or do we just stalk each others news-feed?  If the person hasn’t been active on Facebook in years, why are we still “friends”? If you have more drama in your life than a tv soap opera, do I really need to be subjected to it on a daily (or hourly) basis? Nah! Cleaning out my “friends” list has been so freeing!
  • Twitter. Oh Twitter. I really don’t like you and have never really used you. In fact, my account has now been deleted. One less thing to worry with or to clog my email and iPhone
  • Pinterest followings. I don’t follow a ton of people on Pinterest. But there is a reason for that. Not that I don’t like my ~1500 followers, because believe me, I do! The problem is, when I start following a lot of people, I can EASILY find my ADHD kicking into high gear. Instead, I’ve pared down the list of people I follow to a small handful (less than 30). It makes life a little more simple for me. And, I can easily click-through my friends and followers when time allows (not often here lately) to see their pins.

Cleaning up my little slice of internet pie is making things so much more breezy! Instead of having to delete 50-100 emails a day and respond to maybe 1 or 2, now I can respond to 1 or 2, and delete 4 or 5! And, less drama on Facebook is always welcomed!

Failing

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I looked back at my goals for the year this morning in an attempt to see if I’ve accomplished much over the past two months. Only a few small things I can check off my list…reading more, paying off one of our student loans, and making my bed on a regular basis (well, I’ve failed at that this past week). I’m failing to accomplish a lot of the things I really want to do this year.

This past month has taken a lot out of me…emotionally, spiritually, mentally.

In the end though, I feel as though some changes are due in order to get back on track and accomplish some of the things I need and want to get done.

Next Door Savior: Near Enough to Touch, Strong Enough to Trust by Max Lucado

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Lucado

Sometimes it feels as though God is far away.  There is clearly no way God understands what we’re going through right now. How could He even have a clue what its like to live on earth in the twenty-first century, facing the problems that we do on a daily basis.

How often we forget that He created the world we live in. We think because we have a disease, God doesn’t understand what its like. But did Jesus not heal so many that were suffering? Did Jesus not mingle with the most despised people of his day? Did God not understand the mother who suffered a broken heart at the loss of her child? Of course He understands! Even the temptations Satan throws at us on a daily basis…the Lord comprehends our struggles!!!

Next Door Savior is an incredible book that shows just how clearly the Lord understands. He meets us right in our place. He meets us in our mess we call life. Lucado does a brilliant job of showing that the God who created the world knows our pain. He doesn’t just show up in church, he’ll show up right where we are, even if that’s in the worst part of town.

Reading this book came at the perfect time in my life. Losing the life of a baby you never were able to hold is such a gut-wrenching thing. It is often easy to blame God for not understanding our pain and question why He would allow such a thing to happen. Being reminded in these pages that the Lord does understand was so comforting. He knows what it is like to lose a beloved child. He lost His too! Sometimes it feels as though He is so far away, when in reality, He’s right next door. He lives where I live, He goes right where I go. He knows my name, He knows my story, and He is willing to meet me right where I am. Even in my mess.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Recent Reads

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My goal for 2013 is to read 1-2 books a month. It’s the end of February and I’ve done quite a bit of reading. Hopefully over the next two weeks or so I can get a few reviews posted for you! I really read a few good books and ebooks last month, some that you should check out and consider reading for yourself!

More Than Enough

More than Enough by Dave Ramsey was a great read. I had originally purchased this book to give someone for Christmas, but decided to keep it for myself for various reasons. I’ve read other of Ramsey’s books and am a frequent visitor of his website. I agree a lot with the principles behind his teachings on financial and debt freedom. The book discusses different approaches to changing your financial destiny. Dave is a big advocate in giving back, to your community and to the Lord. More Than Enough focuses in on your core values and goals and what you must do to be prosperous in your life, marriage, job, and with your faith.

Jon Acuff

If you’ve never read a book or blog post by Stuff Christian’s Like author Jon Acuff, you’re missing out. He’s quite a writer and I often find myself laughing out loud! In this quick read (finished in a day), you can learn to not only Baby Proof your basement from your 27-year-old, but you will also learn a lot of practical advice. I loved reading that Dave Ramsey’s team lives out loud what the “preach”. Jon tells the story about the first time he had to go on a company trip and was given an envelope of cash to pay for everything. No company credit card exists! The book is filled with useful knowledge and tips on handling finances, while being entertaining at the same time. Go read it!

sex

Oh Good Lord! I read a book about sex and I’m going to talk about it on the blog. Pick up your dropped jaw and come back to reality. Sex happens. God designed sex for a husband and wife and The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex is a great book to get a Biblical perspective on the topic. From engaged women to those who have been married 30+ years, this book is for you! This book is beautifully written on the details of having an intimate marriage the way God intended. The book is not risque by any means. A definite read for ladies.

Cole

 

When I saw this I Want It Now by Julie Dawn Cole for free on Kindle ebook one day, I grabbed it because, quite frankly I loved Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory! Cole, who played the infamous Veruca Salt, tells of her journey to and through stardom and what life was like on the set of the great Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Did you know that the chocolate room set was off-limits the entire time they were filming the rest of the movie? The directors wanted to get the casts first impressions of it on camera. In fact, the scene that made the final cut was their initial reaction to the chocolate room. How awesome! Cole talks about her friendships with the cast, her homesickness, her rise to (and from) fame.

While I didn’t get super excited during the final parts of the book discussing her adult years, the book was overall a great and fun read.

Tripp

 

Shepherding a Child’s Heart has so many conflicting reviews on Amazon, but I wanted to read it for myself to have my own opinion. I fully believe that the goal of parenting should be to point the child’s heart to the Lord and Savior, which Tripp discusses. This biggest part of the controversy lies with spanking, I do believe. Do I believe in spanking? Yes I do.  I don’t believe spanking is right in certain situations (special needs children), in certain environments (public), and never when the parent is upset/angry because it runs the risk of becoming more than a spanking.  (Please note, those are my opinions. You’re entitled to your own. This is not meant to spark debate so please keep it that way.)

Overall, I’d probably give the book about four stars out of five. The book is subject to each parents personal convictions, so you would need to read it yourself. I will, however, not use it as my main guide for parenting. I believe the Bible does a good job with fulfilling that role!

Budgeting & Saving

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I’m a huge Dave Ramsey fan. I’m also very thankful Joe and I have the same mindset on finances. Don’t live above your means, pay your bills in full each month, and pay off your debts as soon as possible. Which is great because that’s pretty much the basis of what Dave Ramsey teaches. I hate debt. I hate “owing” people.

One of my/our goals for this year was to be more mindful of our expenses and try to cut back where possible, while also paying off a small student loan. I’m really excited that not even a sixth of the way into 2013 and we’ve paid the loan off!!! Now to start tackling one small thing, our house, and the medical school loan!

The thing is, we can’t pay things off faster if we don’t watch our everyday expenses. I’ve been using Dave Ramsey’s cash envelope system only for our grocery expenses. You have to start somewhere, and that’s the best place for us. Last month we saved more on grocery expenses than we did the previous month. I’m hoping this month will produce similar results!

Another area we’ve found to cut back is with our cable package. Time Warner is not only increasing rates AGAIN, but their service is getting worse. We love our tv time, but we don’t watch certain things anymore, like HBO. So we’re got rid of it. We also don’t watch much tv in our bedroom, at least not enough to warrant having cable in there. Got rid of it too! Those two things alone will save us a couple hundred dollars a year.

Saving money is incredible, and there is a little adrenaline rush you get when you pay off a debt. Hopefully over the next few months we’ll find other ways to reduce expenses and/or pay off the rest of our debt quicker!

Dear Military Moms

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Can I just start by saying I cannot imagine how you do it. And by “it”, I mean raising children on your own and/or being without your husband because he’s deployed or out training somewhere for extended periods of time.  I don’t envy you. I do, however, admire you.

Joe was gone from 6:30 am yesterday, until the late hours of the night. Hospital rounds, work, meetings galore. This happens once a month. And I don’t get to talk with him much that entire day (sometimes less than 10 minutes). And yes, I want to whine because of it. I MISS MY HUSBAND!

I don’t know how you all do it. I see some of my Facebook friends posts…dads who Skype with their kids and read them stories, moms doing big countdowns until the day the love of her life is once again in her arms, the stress of doing it alone.

Military moms, you deserve a medal!

(And I’m guessing that a lot of this holds true to military dads who’s wives are deployed, but I’m not a man/dad, so I don’t know the emotional ups and downs that you go through)

One week later

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I’m writing this post on Wednesday, the 13th of February. I have no idea if I’ll ever hit publish, or if I’ll just keep it safely stored away in my private settings. It has been one week since the loss of our little girl started. One week ago our life was changed forever. My heart trusts the Lord has a plan with all of this, but it still doesn’t take away those moments of sadness that sneak up on me.

Moments where another person joyfully announces they are pregnant. I don’t fault them, I would have been in their place eventually, had things progressed differently. Moments when you forget that you reactivated your baby registry at a store, simply to get coupons started again and to excitedly browse baby furniture, and the store calls to congratulate you on your pregnancy and to thank you for signing up for their registry. Moments where you look into your little boys eyes and think of what a great big brother he would make, even if he’s still so young.

But I’m trying to find joy. Trying to find hope. It’s not in the big stuff. The little stuff is quite significant right now. The kiss of my loving husband who would do anything in the world to take away any ounce of pain. The nonstop laughs of the cutest little boy on the planet. Watching my little guy try to play the piano, but if he were a few more inches taller, it would be easier. The phone call from a concerned pastor just wanting to check on me, and reassuring me of my baby’s existence and significance. The text messages from friends who want to make things better. A book that says just what I need to hear confirmed.

While we may never kiss our sweet baby’s cheeks, I’m thankful to know that she’s safe in heaven. She’s safe from the sin of this world. She’ll never have to experience heartache like we do here on earth. She gets to experience true joy for eternity. And that alone makes me happy!

No Title Fitting Enough

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A few years ago we met with a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) to discuss our battle with infertility that had gone on for over two years. After multiple tests, the doctor came back with the results and told us it was unlikely that we would ever conceive a child without invasive procedures such as IVF. While we had (and still have) no problems with others pursuing IVF, we did not feel the Lord leading us down that path. We strongly felt that if His will was for us to have our own biological child(ren), he would provide other ways. We decided to try a less invasive fertility treatment, and were beyond blessed with Jonathan.

The road to pregnancy was a long, painful one. The emotional turmoil was incredible. At one point I knew close to 60 women who were pregnant at the same time. I prayed, I cried, I even threw a few temper tantrums at God. There were ladies popping out baby after baby, and some were not taking care of them. They weren’t loving and appreciating the gift they’d been given, and I was mad. I was hurt that while we waited, friends were getting pregnant with their second and third child. I had so many questions for God. I wanted answers.

God blessed me with a friend who had walked the road before me. While it didn’t take the crushing pain of infertility away, it did ease it. I didn’t feel so alone anymore.

Jonathan is now 9 months old. He’s growing up and maturing faster than I’m ready for. I love every minute of being his mom.

I love the calling of being a mom. But now Joe and I can no longer say that Jonathan is our only child. Our lives have drastically changed again.

Recently we were shocked to find out that the Lord had blessed us with another pregnancy. Shocked at the timing. Shocked at the fact that we got pregnant without the use of fertility treatments. Overwhelmed with God’s graciousness. Honestly, I took the test to rule out pregnancy. I knew I was pretty late, but attributed it to the fact Jonathan was going through a growth spurt and I was nursing more. Our world quickly entered into fast forward.

While the excitement abounded, I was actually pretty nervous. I think I have some strange form of PTSD because of the sheer stress Jonathan’s sleep issues have caused. I went months with sleeping in 30 minute increments it felt like. We’ve come a long way, but what if the second baby had similar problems? How on earth could I be a good mom to Jonathan and a new baby? Would I be adequate enough?

And then the heart-wrenching began. I started spotting. I kept trying to remind myself that this, along with strong cramping, happened the entire first trimester with Jonathan. I was trying my hardest to stay calm, but fear struck. And it struck hard. Over the course of 24 hours, the spotting turned to full force bleeding and passing clots. I knew what was happening. Having spent years working in pathology, I knew what I was seeing. Our little baby, the one we’d only had the chance to celebrate its life for a few short days, had left us. Tests and ultrasounds the following day confirmed what I already knew.

The heartache has been real. While my little baby may not have survived for very long, it won’t be forgotten. I want to tell the doctor that told me “it’s as if it never happened”, that yes, yes it happened. The Lord gave us this child. For reasons that I will never know, He allowed it to be taken from us soon thereafter. I’ve wanted to be mad at God, but deep in my heart, I know that’s not the answer. Getting mad at God gives the devil victory. I have to trust that the Lord has a plan in all of this.

 

But we can’t allow our little one to go unrecognized. Albeit short, there was a life within me. A life that has passed straight to heaven. Instead of one baby, we now have two. One living here on earth, one celebrating in heaven.

To give our little one’s life the recognition and respect it deserves, we have chosen a name. Some people may never understand our desire to do so. In Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, she quotes another author on the significance of naming.

“Now, in the Bible a name … reveals the very essence of a thing, or rather its essence as God’s gift … To name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave it, to know it as coming from God and to know its place and function within the cosmos created by God. To name a thing, in other words, is to bless God for it and in it.”

It was too early to determine if our baby would have been a boy or girl, but we felt strongly about picking out a girls name. So, our little girl, who is dancing in the streets of heaven is named Giana, which means “God is gracious” in Hebrew. She was important to us. Her short life has impacted our lives greatly.

9 Months

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9 months

This post is a wee little late, but nevertheless, I wanted to document our amazing little guys 9 months here! I cannot believe time is passing by so quickly. I have flashbacks to when we were on our way to the hospital and the craziness that ensued! Over the past month you have grown so much!

On the 12th of January, you decided it was time to start standing up on your own. Once you figured this out, it wouldn’t be long before you started learning to cruise. We finally had to block you in with a fence so that you wouldn’t mess with the television or you wouldn’t escape when we weren’t looking.

You love being read to. Your love for books grows constantly.

When I carry you through the hall and you see your daddy’s picture on the wall, you get so excited!!!

You’ve started learning to give kisses too!

kiss

You love it when we put you on our bed and flip you over. You think that is one of the greatest things ever!

You’re eating more and more food and loving it. We gave you your first Popsicle this month too! You were really cranky, we think due to teething problems. Chewing on toys and a teething ring just weren’t cutting it. So we broke out the good stuff! And you LOVED it!

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is also a favorite. While mommy doesn’t let you watch much television during the day, she does let you watch Mickey!

One of these days your sleep problems will subside…we just know it! But for now, we’re just trying to make it through!

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