Friday, January 29, 2016

Love From Above: A February Family Valentine's Activity

This month we're attending a class held by our youth minister, Pastor Sami (give me a minute to wave to her folks, she's a reader!), on equipping households of faith. I've loved the class for many reasons, but mostly because it's the gathering of people who genuinely care about what works and what isn't with desire to grow the home nurturing environment.

Last week we were talking about exchanging highs, lows, and God-moments. While we do daily highs and lows, God-sightings are not often part of our discussion.

I don't have reason for why other than we've never thought of it. But, my man and I both decided this was a practice we wanted to implement.

It's good for the kids to think about God being with them in the everyday. It's good for us adults to remember that no matter what the weight of the world there are moments of blessing, reminding us He is near.

The next night at dinner we started. "What was your high?" "What was your low" "Where did you see God?" We circled clockwise around the table with meaningful discussion filling in the gaps. When we gathered to the table the next night, Grace asked about our God moments before we could even get to it.

I absolutely love this about children! They are so receptive to trying new things.

This got my wheels spinning.

My family hasn't ever done an ongoing activity for Valentine's Day. Honestly, I find the day kind of overrated. We're supposed to love each other everyday so why the need to focus one calendar day on the emotion besides excuse to get people to buy stuff? I usually find myself telling my husband, "Don't spend a bunch of money on flowers today. The cost of one bouquet could pay our water bill" because I"m totally a Proverbs 31 wife like that. Say a prayer for Charlie. He's a hopeless romantic married to me :)

This year is going to be different, though. We're going to make this new discussion we like into habit.

The items are purchased.

The cute kiddos are pumped, as is the hopeless romantic.

From February one until Valentine's Day, we are each going to write one God-sighting on a foam heart or "XO" of the person's choosing.

I found these at Target in the dollar section. They even have glitter, which is like the ultimate bonus to my littles. I swear that place is like a mini heaven.

Then we went to the Dollar Store because I'm so cheap frugal and purchased a tall candle + some crinkle paper stuff.

I already had a brown tag and knew exactly which verse I wanted to put on it.

Voila. We have a dining room table centerpiece with eternal value.

Pretty cute for only a few bucks, huh? I'm SO EXCITED!

Each night at dinner we'll tape our God-sighting onto the dining room glass sliding doors, giving visual of God's faithfulness in a place we'll all see it every single day.

I can't help but imagine as the moments multiply our trust will grow right along with it.

There's extra foam pieces in the centerpiece for any guests here in early February to participate. I can't stop smiling so clearly this is going to be the best Valentine's Day/season yet. :) One where we focus on the only Love that carries through life.

I think this could work for a single person, couple, or family so if you think it would bless your faith life, give it a try! It took all of a few dollars and 5 minutes to prepare.

xx Melissa

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

All Dolled Up: The Deeper Implications of the New Barbie on our Young Girls

I teach a self-designed mother-elementary daughter dance line. Each week focuses on an issue key to students’ hearts, two of which highlight varying aspects of beauty. Every time I teach it at least one mom leaves the private conversation with her daughter teary for what she’s heard. My heart was made butter for what my own girls said.

Young girls’ issues are too oft over looked. Don’t believe me? Respond to the email I just did from a twelve year old who fears never being desired by a boy because she’s “fat.” Or, sit in on elementary snack time where students sometimes throw parts of their packed item away to save calories.

Statistics back me up.


The age of puberty in America is on the decline, with more girls developing breasts by 7 than in the past and elementary girls menstruating not out of the norm, drawing more attention to parts and looks as their bodies change than was true in the past.

Can we all take our heads out of the sand now?

We have a problem.

Today Mattel announced that Barbie will now come in tall, petite, and curvy form. This comes on the heals of added skin tones, eye colors, and hairstyles.

It seems likely that this response comes from longstanding criticism over the body-type Barbie projects for the children playing with them. We’ve certainly become a more parent-conscious society, trying our best to prevent problem where possible.

To be clear, I DO NOT think Barbie alone is to blame for the statistical tragedy stated above. I let my children play with Barbie, remember? And, I actually think it can be a good outlet with children to see how they are processing the world through their Barbie interaction and conversational play.

Changing my Barbies is what I most loved as a child. My girls dig the fashionista aspect themselves.

However, as we see the body-image statistics continue to impact younger and younger ages, we must applaud all efforts that contribute to the collective influential whole.

YES! These are things I want to be discussing with my girls.

Despite the positive intent, there is already crazy backlash. In just a matter of minutes, I saw tweets criticizing the ability to use the same clothes on the different Barbies, harsh judgment that we’re projecting adult insecurity on kid toys, and claim if your daughter’s self-esteem is contingent on looking at her Barbie you’re a parent fail. (Interestingly, that came from a non-parent. The only time in life when we know everything about parenting.)

I suppose in purchasing different Barbies there will be need for different clothing styles and a few more dollars required of the pocket book. But, it is time that we at least acknowledge that these are not solely adult insecurities and no self-doubt appears from thin air. It is fostered over time.

Our girls are taking cues from people, media, and toys around them. They are forming perceptions based on what they see and, often, what they hear from mom (sorry, ladies, we have to accept responsibility in this too before anything is going to change). So, if Barbie wants to remind people that their unique shape and size is doll-shape worthy, then let’s CHEER THEM ON.

At its root this is about a plastic doll. We can all agree on that. It is a figure for girls to play dress up with and live out imaginative scenarios. BUT, also undeniable is the way these children are imbibing look, design, and potential from everything they see and hear into their not yet fully mature brain.

ANYTIME we have opportunity to cheer our girls on- to tell them, “You are beautiful,” to explain that they were made perfect by their Creator and that dolls they may play with or images they see aren’t reality- it is a win for all of us. And, if toy makers want to make that effort easier with healthier cues, then I say, “PRAISE BE TO GOD.” One less battle.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

If You Want to Heal, You've Gotta Peel Off the Band-Aid

I remember my mom telling me we needed to take off my Band-Aid because the wound needed open air to heal properly. It always went against everything in me to remove the covering that protected the injury from snagging, tearing deeper, or becoming infected.

Today I find myself repeating that to my girls and see the same fear in their eyes.

Exposing pain doesn’t make sense when hiding from the elements is possible.

Not to our bodies.

Not to our hearts.

I wish I could say my adult awareness of this physical concept has helped me adopt it emotionally but that would be a lie. I walk into areas of pain and.... 

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Real Mom Confessions: An Open Letter to My Kids on Delayed Bedtime

Nothing makes it harder for me to be the mom I always imagined myself to be than delayed bedtime. If I were drawn like I cartoon, I would have smoke coming out of my ears.


photo credit 

This is me.

Kids, Let me assure you that being your mom is my favorite thing in the world. I would never trade it for anything. You are all miracles and I LOVE being your mommy.

Your bedhead in the morning provides the first smile of my day. Volunteering in your classroom allows me to celebrate in your successes. Watching you do the activities you are passionate about paints a smile on my face arguably bigger than yours. When we snuggle, I never want to move.

I actually think playing countless rounds of Old Maid with you is fun. Your reading voice makes my heart sing. Playing house with you puts me in awe of your imagination. And, dance parties are my favorite because your belly giggles are THE. BEST.

Parenting is a better than I dreamt it to be. You keep my days fresh and through the many ways you teach me I find myself inspired.

But…BUT…eventually our happy happy joy joy has to end for the day.

For everything there is a time and a season and that includes watching Fixer Upper in complete silence with a handful of M&Ms WITHOUT someone going, “Hey, where did you get those?”

When we go through our highs and lows of the day and then pray as a family every single night, that is the end of our blessed day together. Mommy needs to accomplish some things impossible to get done if I am still parenting and your precious little body needs sleep because God said, “rest” … and it is good.

Once we have said, “Amen” it is not the time to ask me a really good, profound theological question like how our bodies go from a box to Jesus after we die or how He “glues” our bodies together. I want to tell you all about God’s great plan for our salvation. I want to tell you how He knit you together perfectly and amp up your self-esteem with God-love but my parent tank is on empty. So, I give you a lesser answer and don’t offer the typical, “Do you have any more questions” opportunity because we are past question and answer time of the day. We are on sleep time.

I want you to know that I care deeply about your need to use the restroom and provide you with relief for your injuries + dry skin. But, how do these mysteriously arise after prayer time and not when you are, say, using the restroom and brushing your teeth as you do each night or AT ANY POINT between school and bed?

I’m glad to know that you think I’m so cool and deeply loved. However, when you come out and say, “I just need to give you one more hug” my inner self is torn between, “Get your little patootie to bed before I blow” and “Oh, I love you too.”

These post bedtime strategies induce all kinds of parent guilt and we're able to visualize beyond the moment. As time ticks, I see your immune system decreasing and wonder if I should Clorox the thermometer now in prep for all the gross germs flying around school. I can hear your whiny voice saying, “I don’t waaaaaaant to get up for school.” I can feel the emotions that will bubble out of you tomorrow as your energy wanes.

There is a very simple solution to this problem, children.

Smoke does not need to come out of mommy’s ears and I don’t need to raise my voice to bring ruin to the end of our beautiful day. We can have happier happy happy joy joy tomorrow, my loves, if we share all of our meaningful conversations and smiley playtime and tight hugs and nursed owies between wakeup and “Amen.”

Let’s aim for that, okay?

I love you to pieces, Mom  

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Friday, January 15, 2016

The Bookmark Every Kid Should Own

As an author, I obviously love books. Reading is a gateway to learning, imagining, and self-exploration. As the mom of littles, I love reading because I know a student’s ability to read fluently increases success in every subject.

That is why I have to tell you about my family’s new discovery.

The Mark-My-Time booklight.

If you’re child(ren)’s school is anything like ours each student has assigned reading goals. Everyday my girls have been asking me to set a timer. Their goals differ so I'd have timers going off everywhere and kids echoing, "Is that mine? Is that mine?"  While this is a real first world problem, I love that my girls now have their own inspiring timer.

This cool looking booklight can count upward or be set at a specified amount of time that will beep (plus shut the light off) when the goal is set.

The bookmark attaches to pages and an LED light on an arm extends upward to illuminate the page if your child is reading in their bed or on a car trip. Added bonus? If you have a set "lights out" time the bookmark shows clock time as well so no, “I didn’t know what time it was” excuses. *first bump, parents*

This simple tool has naturally increased our girls’ stamina because they are impressed by their accomplishments AND it'll log up to 100 hours of time so they see their achievement quickly blossom, making for happy kids + happy parents.

To find the Mark-My-Time booklight in your area visit their website. Sioux Falls parents, Barnes and Noble or Target.

*I was not asked to review this product. Opinions expressed are solely my own*

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