31 days of training my kids: don’t despair

imageIt’s taken two days to write this silly thing. And it’s not even that profound or deep or anything. Here’s how it started out, two days ago: 

Today did not start out super great. I woke up late -happens more than I’d like to admit. We finished breakfast at…

I don’t even want to say.

Then to clean up at least a little, get all the girls settled playing, make sure the homeschool space is ready… start school, take care of Mckayla who just easily hopped over the baby gate…

All the while my mind is eating at me, “If you had… you can’t even… even when you… it’s still…”

Mornings like that are no fun.

I’ve learned from experience that the worst thing to do is despair. Sometimes it feels like you can’t walk away from that voice in your head.

*Digression: it is my personal opinion that at this point the worse thing you can do is follow the popular advice of the day, “Remind yourself that you’re a great mom! Think of ten things right now that you’re awesome at! It’s so shallow. We know deep inside how messed up we are.*

Even when I know that I’m behind and in less-than-desirable circumstances, I can’t go back and change anything. In the moment, I have to do what’s right. Keep fixing breakfast. And be joyful and thankful.


Seriously, the last few days have felt like 600,000 inner battles one right after another. Then go to bed, then do it again.

Not giving in to despair or discouragement or feeling defeated is a victory. Just because the temptation is there to wallow in all those emotions doesn’t mean we don’t have a choice.

The moment, minute, and hour at hand have not been messed up yet.

Ever felt like this?

Task. Frustration. Discouragement. Repentance. Hope. Task. Thanks. Rejoicing. Repeat. 

Every ninety seconds.

Not fun, but good.


I have to say that yesterday was even harder than the day before with crazy things coming out of all sorts of places. If you’re having a day like that, don’t give in. Don’t despair. 

…hope thou in God:  for I shall yet praise him,…

31 days of training my kids: expectations and birthdays

imageMy sweet little Mckayla is turning two tomorrow. (today for those of you reading)

And boy did she ever finish off her year with a bang. = / But we won’t go into that.

So tonight I’m thinking about birthdays. What I want them to be, and what they end up being.

I love looking at pinterest and birthday celebrations just look so fun to me. But… I know that I can’t really do them. As much as I wish I was that creative, organized mom who could pull off an amazing event for her child and be happy and cheerful and actually spend time with said child on that special day, I’m just not. Lest you think I’m despairing, at some point I will hopefully get better. Thankfully for me, my kids are at the age right now where they do not care at all and whatever we do, they love.

I have one major problem when it comes to birthdays: preparation.

There are always tons of plans in my head, but somehow, it’s always the night before and I’m thinking, “Why? Again?!”

So, I have developed a few criteria for birthdays in our house that are well within the realm of something I can do.

1. Do something fun that they will really enjoy that day. I used to try to think of something that would be really cool, like the coolest thing of the whole year; but sadly, toddlers have no clue what a year is. Happily, this makes picking something fun for them to do a whole lot easier.

2. Make a special cake or dessert that they will enjoy. Again, my definition of special is probably a lot lower than most. However, it’s about pleasing my kids, not my unrealistic expectations. And they get very excited for cake!

3. Decorate in a way that the girlies will feel like something is special. We usually don’t do parties, but I still want the day itself to feel festive.

4. Take pictures to remember the day. This is a recent one. It is out of my comfort zone; so see, there’s improvement. = ) See Gracie’s pictures here.

Now with all that said, here are my desires/plans for Mickey J’s special day tomorrow.

1. Go play at the park. Take buckets and shovels and play in the sand. (we don’t normally do this) Be okay with getting all dirty and sandy.

2. Eat a Monkey Cake! (lovingly made by her sisters and Nana) There is no better choice than a monkey for Mckayla this year. = )

3. Decorations have been foregone, but homeschooling has been postponed. No school on birthdays! It’s a new rule. = )

4. Take pictures. I already have her outfit picked out. It’s her red fuzzy hoodie with a pink Minnie Mouse.  I want to remember when I look back at the pictures how much she loved that “Ginnie Mouse!”

And yes, that’s about it. More than anything, I want to look at her, and listen to her, and tickle her, and enjoy seeing how much she is loved by every person in this family.

Do I hope I do better next year? Absolutely. I’m already thinking about sweet Hopey’s birthday. Considering my preparation problem, I should probably start gift shopping for her day after tomorrow. = )

But this is Mckayla’s day and I don’t want to waste it wishing for things that aren’t.

So tell me (and this isn’t just one of those questions your supposed to ask at the end) how do you get ready for birthdays? It escapes me!

31 days of training my kids: lyrics i love


Praise to the Lord
Who o’er all things so wonderfully reigneth
Shelters thee under His wings
Yea, so gently sustaineth
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth

Praise to the Lord
Who doth prosper they work and defend thee
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do
If with His love He befriend thee

Joachim Neander

31 days of training my kids: favorite books

Today, I picked four of my favorite parenting books to share with you. Nothing fancy, just a few thoughts and an amazon link.

Shepherding a Child’s Heart. I read this before Hope was born, but I really need to read it again as I am now in that stage of life. It is one of the best books on this topic. (not just my opinion)

imageLoving the Little Years. Short, humorous, encouraging and convicting… it’s by a mom of little’s for moms with little’s. Highly recommend!

imageDon’t Make Me Count To Three. A friend recently lent this to me; I had never heard of it. It’s excellent! At first, I wasn’t too crazy about the writing style, but was definitely won over by the Biblical truths and practical helps. I just finished this last week, and it’s a must add to my collection.

imageFeminine Appeal. This is one of my favorite books for women. It does have chapters specific to motherhood, but also describes how the godly characteristics outlined in Titus 2 will adorn the gospel when practiced in a Christian woman’s life. We all want to be good moms, but underneath we first have to be in a right relationship with our Creator. I found this book to be helpful to all of my life, not just in parenting. Though I certainly remember many of the things it said about that!

imageHope you enjoy! What are your favorite Mommy books?


I keep forgetting to tell you that my sister is doing the 31 days challenge! Check out her super fun series, On-the-go Pianist!

31 days of training my kids: over and over

Thanks to my sweet friend Liz who takes such fun pictures of the girls!
Thanks to my sweet friend Liz who takes such fun pictures of the girls!

When my sweet little Hopey was learning to talk I remember how curious it was to me that she would say words over and over. Being my first, it didn’t bother me at all; I just found it so interesting. (Clearly I had not spent much time with babies)

At some point it occurred to me that that was how she learned. That was how she mastered her words and concepts. I’m pretty sure she didn’t think, “That word ‘cracker’ is hard one; I better say it over and over so I don’t forget!” But even at a young age, the idea that practice makes permanent is built into our bodies.

When we practice something over and over, we will eventually be able to do it without thinking.

This is the beauty and the hardship of training children. We can teach them to obey even as very small children, but it takes a fair amount of effort.

Over and over.

Thankfully, we’re given plenty of opportunities. (even without “Here, let me show you what I expect and let’s think of a fun way to practice” times)

Kids have to eat… over and over.

Brothers and sisters have to play together… over and over.

Toys have to be cleaned up… over and over. (even if it is a few days in between on occasion) = )

Seat belts have to be buckled… over and over. Oh what a happy day in our house when the oldest two could do this without complaining or getting frustrated!

Wants have to be put aside… over and over.

Mommy has an opportunity to practice patience… over and over.

Mommy has an opportunity to model confession… over and over.

We go back to the gospel after being all out of sorts… over and over.

It can be so frustrating when kids slip back into habits or attitudes that we thought had been taken care of. But it’s always worth it to keep talking, keep teaching, keep disciplining, keep modeling… over and over.


The grand and glorious things we’ve been working on this week have been no more than sitting in your chair correctly at the table and obeying with a good attitude. This is not the first week we’ve worked on these things, nor will it be the last.

What have you been working on this week?