Monday, July 28, 2014

Favorite Family Recipes: Vegetarian Lasagna

My favorite kind of meal is one where everyone eats it, maybe has seconds and the meal was stocked full of healthy veggies.

Insert lasagna. I've made this recipe in the past but had a gut feeling I could tweak it to make it more simple and even healthier.

Here are the ingredients you need:
9 lasagna noodles
1.5 cups of chopped mushrooms 
4 cups of spinach 
1 container of soft organic tofu 
2 pieces of broccoli ribs
2 jars spaghetti sauce 
2 cups mozzarella cheese
8-10 olives

Preheat oven to 385 degrees.
Cook the noodles as box indicates, while they are cooking take spinach, broccoli and tofu and blend until creamy.

In a rectangular baking pan put 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce down and move pan side to side until bottom is covered. Place 3 noodles side by side, put tofu/spinach mixture on noodles, spreading evenly with spatula. Sprinkle mushrooms, layer next with spaghetti sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Repeat 2 more times. 

Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes more, let cool for 10 minutes, then enjoy!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Seasoned Moms Speak Out- April with Cheryl Wood (part 1)

Well I'm sad I got behind on my posting my last interview- this was actually from April- eek!

It's only fitting that a Sullivan is crying in the background... when I've tried to find time to type this interview out, life or should I say "mothering" takes priority. But truly this is such a unique mom and interview I can't wait to share it. I've known Cheryl Woods through her children and really they speak volumes for the kind of mother she is- her children are all amazing! I think I've mentioned this before but I wanted to pick moms who had children that loved the Lord,  loved their siblings and liked being around their parents after growing up. Sounds like a simple enough criteria, right? Well it's been harder then you think to find all three. Without any more rattled from me- here's my latest interview:

1. How would you describe yourself as a mom?

 Very practical, but fun. Or at least I try to be fun! I have a super practical side, so sometimes it's a big effort to balance that with fun. I can also be super goofy to the point that... wait a minute... I need to get a little more serious. My goal has been to find balance in the middle.

>>How has your husband balanced you in that?

Charlie is a very steady person. He doesn't get super excited about stuff and very rarely does he get super mad about things either. He is a stability factor that I can gauge my up and down by.

2. When you were first married did you have the same roles or tendencies as you do now?

Yes, actually we used to describe our families like this: visiting my family was like visiting the set of a sit com and visiting Charlies was like visiting the set of a PBS documentary- ha! He has always been steady and responsible. We met while performing around the world in Toy Makers Dream and I say that we never really dated, we just lived on a bus with 30 other people, then got married. We just become really good friends. I was drawn to the fact that he was responsible but fun.

3. How long did you wait before you had kids? Did you always want to have a large family?

We waited about 3 years before having kids and Charlie used to say that he wanted to have 12 kids. I think he was serious, but each time we had a child that number went down by a couple. Then we ended up with 5, I think I knew I always wanted at least 3 or 4.

4. What were your days like when you were first parenting?

Well we lived in Virginia Beach, pretty far away from any family. Charlie was a student in grad school so we didn't have a lot of money. But we lived in student housing with a lot of students who didn't have a lot of money. So I didn't really ever feeling discontent. Because I wasn't comparing myself with people who were in a different situation. Charlie's first teaching job was in Mississippi and we had 4 kids by that time, it was a wonderful little town with a University. He taught there for 2 years and then was offered the Job at Tulsa University. Which was the goal all along, to get back to Tulsa. After a couple of years being back we finished up our family with our 5th child Lydia.

5. What were some things that got your through having 4 little ones close in age?

One of things we did when a new baby was born was to get naps synchronized as quickly as possible. So that there was a little time in the day were everyone was down and I put a sign on the door that said "mom and baby napping" and I think I kept that sign until Lydia was about 6 years old- ha ha. On the weekend, Charlie would take the kids out on Saturdays and since we didn't have any money he would take them to Toy's R Us and they would play. It didn't even occur to them that they could take those toys home and play with them. Charlie was really helpful to make sure I always had a little time each week to have a little space in the house. As far as staying close to the Lord, I had always been a morning quiet time person- but when you are raising little kids it seems like someone is always awake ahead of you or as soon as you sit down. I remember getting frustrated over that but finally coming to the conclusion that well they are just going to have to have quiet time with me!

6. You home schooled your kids when they were young why did you decide to do that?

Well Charlie was still a student when the 3 older boys were starting school and we weren't happy with the public school available to us, we couldn't afford private school. I had known lots of great home- schooling moms and had good examples of that. Susan Newman still to this day is a big influence, they traveled with 4 kids and home schooled on the road. I still find myself saying things Susan would have said or done.  She was the opposite of me- steady and even keel.

7. You had 3 boys and then 2 girls, what's some advice for moms out their with both genders?

My girls were never decked out in matching dresses and bows but they weren't tom boys either. I'm pretty sure each girl has worn her brothers hammy downs before. It's just not been a big deal- I'm grateful that my boys have helped their sisters be low drama girls. I would say if you have a house full of girls, make play dates and find friends with boys so they can just play and interact with boys. You don't want them to suddenly become teenagers and not know how to interact with the opposite gender. That's got to be a recipe for drama! The other thing I see with boys is that they get over corrected for just boyish behavior, Dr. James Dobson is great about addressing that. We listened to a great CD series called Preparing for Adolescence, he gave us amazing ideas. One idea he had in that was to differentiate between will defiant behavior and behavior that's just being a kid. Don't over correct because a boy was loud running through the house, a girl on the other hand will not do the physical stuff but in contrast do the attitude. Each one needs correction, the girls attitudes can sometimes be over looked because it's not as obvious.

8. What were some specific characteristics you taught your kids?

We taught them to apologize to each other after offenses. One thing I said a lot to my kids was "Don't let his bad behavior get you in trouble" sometimes they would retaliate or make a bigger deal out of things then it needed to be. Forgiveness was a big deal, when we would spank we would always go to another room privately and then make them go to that sibling and apologize.

...well unfortunately I lost the rest of y interview before I got to type of the rest. Insert tears here :( 

I'm going to do a part 2 and summarize the rest of the interview! 


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Seasoned Moms March Interview with Gayle Sackett

Well March was a blur.

I traveled to Phoenix for my first ever training as a natural health consultant and then the month flew by. It's ironic that the mom featured this mom is by far one of the most disciplined and healthy woman I know!

She has always amazed me- I met her also at Lincoln Christian School and her energy is unprecedented; I would try to listen closely to the things she would share and I heard things like "got up at 4am this morning" or "made my own bread for my family" the sort of things that make you stop and think- did she really say that? Is she here at 7:30am and full of energy? How does she do it? How does she juggle a family, work and still keep her health a priority? Well grab a green smoothie or herbal tea (he he) and learn with me about a truly amazing mom!

1.) What were your preconceived ideas about motherhood?

I had no idea what I was doing! Mark and I were the "jokers" in lamaze class-we didn't really pay attention and we had no idea what we were doing. My water broke 2 weeks early and Mark said " There's no way- it's NOT November yet" i just thought I was peeing on myself, I took a shower, ate and sat on the edge of the bed and looked up "water breaking" in the book What to Expect When You're Expecting. It said call the doctor- oh! We should call the doctor- ha ha. We were just winging it!

>>So What Changed?

When Clayton was sent to kindergarten in a private school- he came home knowing more about the Bible then we knew. We were super involved with our church but we weren't really learning anything. Mark and I were sent to a music conference in Dallas, it was the most amazing thing we'd ever done in our life. All we knew was that at the end of the service- they were so joyful and happy and what they had we wanted! We knew we needed to leave our church because you can't change from the middle,  we knew it had to come from the top. So we were in between churches when Mark and I got filled with the Holy Spirit. We attended some John Bevere revivals and got prayed for- we were changed. Then we found Church on the Move and knew that's where we were supposed to be. Every Sunday after Pastor George spoke we would look at each other and say "we've got some changing to do" that was our line in the car. Everything was so new, we had lived our wholes lives thinking differently. We changed together- God supernaturally helped us move forward. Everything changed!

2.) What was your daily schedule like with 2 boys close in age?

Oh we did everything together- we just never stopped going. Grant never slept, he was not a napper. Clayton could sleep at the drop of the hat. They've been night and day since the very beginning- Clayton came out calm and quiet, Grant came out screaming. Clayton can sit still for hours, Grant cannot. From the time they were little, Grant climbed out of his crib right after he learned to walk.  We've always been creative and fun.

They've never known life without somebody else living with us, we've housed maybe 6 or 7 interns. People who have lived with us, they don't know life without sharing their home. God placed it in our hearts when we moved to a larger home. It taught our boys from an early age that you continue to serve God when you get older. We've always opened our home- and we make it fun! We always wanted to be hospitable toward other people, not just come over and watch TV.

3.) I admire your commitment to a healthy lifestyle- when did that start?

I'll be 50 this summer, but I feel more like 35ish and I FEEL amazing! I've been somewhat of a pioneer in health. Around 20 years ago I was learning about eating right, exercising and natural medicine. My kids said "Mom you've always kind of been ahead of the curve" My kids don't know life without being healthy- I will tell them you are a spirit, soul and body: you nourish your spirit, you feed yourself on the Word, you build yourself up in the Word. If you don't feel good, if your mind, will and emotions are in the garbage because you've fed it garbage- how can you be spiritually your best? You don't want a dull mind or body! I never gave the boys junk in their school lunches, because they needed to be smart for the rest of the day. My husband is 56 and he eats great too- I'll leave the juicer on the counter and I've found that if any of the boys are hungry and want a snack I'll say just make yourself a juice and I'll clean up. It's the cleaning up that they don't want to do. I wish I had known what I know now- at your age.  Clayton had strep throat all the time when he was little, he was on antibiotics all the time- I mean that's all I knew. Then when we started eating better, we took out things from our diet and all of our family felt better!

4.) How do you live such a disciplined lifestyle being a busy mom?

People want to go to church, they want all the blessings of God, they want to prosper and tithe once and have their world changed. It doesn't work like that, people want to go on 1 diet and have everything be different. It doesn't work like that- it's called the spirit of self-control. At some point you have to ask yourself- do I value the life that I have? It's a blessing... if I don't take care of me- look at all the lives that are affected! Your body is your temple, it is a gift from God. 

The main thing is this: once the Lord has given you direction in your health, DON'T compromise! Don't ever let the excuse "I'm too tired" keep you from getting up early and spending time in the word and exercising. Don't compromise, once you know what your body truly needs give it that! Go back to the basics and don't let it get so complicated. Listen either your life can control you or you can control your life. Don't let circumstances and the devil ruin your life. Just don't compromise on what you need to do to be healthy!

5.) What characteristics have you consciously taught your children?

We told them to never compromise on who they were made to be- we wanted our kids to always know who they were in Christ! Not who the mean kids at school told them they were- but what the Bible says about them! We also tried to expose them to real world stuff, we took them to New York City and saw things they had never seen. Homeless people all over the streets and drug dealers on the subway trying to talk to our family was a real eye opener.  We also wanted them to understand real world government and finances. 

6.) What's a piece of advice you'd give a new mother?

You know more then you think you do. Babies don't come out with an instruction booklet, but you have the Holy Spirit.  You figure it out, you gave life to them, you figure it out. Don't over think it, when you start to over think it you miss the joy in the process.

You're not going to be perfect, you're going to make mistakes. The first time you do everything it will be wrong, think about the first time you changed your babies diaper- it wasn't the best way! Think about the first time you tried anything- you messed it up. Why would parenting be any different? Don't beat yourself up about it. We used to say- are you bleeding? Is anything hanging off? Then you'll be just fine. Don't stress- babies sense that. God gave them to you- don't you think he's going to help you the rest of the way? Don't freak out! Did you know what was going on every minute he was inside your belly? People over think things. No baby has ever died from crying. Let them cry, they will be just fine. So what they didn't have a bath last night? You may be the only one smelling them-who's smelling them but you? Seriously. Enjoy your journey- if you don't enjoy your journey you've missed the whole point in having kids.

I also think moms make things too hard. They put too much pressure on themselves- to be the perfect mom and what's the "right thing"? Ya know, it's back to the BASICS. Feed them: Spirit, Soul & Body. Nurture them spiritually, their mind, will and emotions.

Remember that when you compare yourself with other people you become discontent, you have to look straight ahead and do what God's called you to do! Not what that other person or your besy friend is doing.

Lastly, when your kids aren't with their dad, talk about him. Say things like "Dad would love this" or "Dad would be so proud of you" and "You are big and strong like daddy' Even though dad may not be home at that moment the kids are always on his mind and this way you keep dad on the kids minds too! Keep dads in their minds with a verbal presence and  this helps honor dad as well!

7.) What are some of your boys favorite childhood memories?

 They said it was never boring growing up- when Clayton wanted to be a ring master in the circus- we bought him the costume and encouraged him, when he wanted to be a zoo keeper, we would spend lots more time at the Zoo!

Our puppet shows- we always had the BEST puppet shows! We always loved to make something out of nothing, we were driving by one day and saw this old Coke sign at a QT right around our house. So we asked if we could take it out of the dumpster and bring it home. It needed more screws and had to be put back together- but we made the coolest puppet theater! It wasn't just a puppet theater- they used their stuffed animals! We added curtains and "Coke" was out sponsor- ha ha! Clayton always had a script and Grant never said his lines right. 

When they wanted to be Archers- we set up targets out of old t-shirts and painted them! I wanted them to think differently- if they wanted to try something new, instead of thinking let's go buy all the gear- what about making it first? See if it's something we really want to do.

They said I always told them who they were in Christ. I always reminded them who they were- no matter what, good day, bad day- I always went to the Word and told them who God said they were!

They said they loved the discipline of praying in the car together, everyday no matter what from the time we got in the car until we got to school we prayed! We prayed for the nations, we had our list. If we had extra time we would pray in the spirit.  We give our angels charge over us, we plead the blood and we take authority over the enemy. I'm not someone who could memorize the chapter and verse  of a scripture easily, but it's in my heart.

My kids said they were glad I trained them to eat healthy. And more importantly they are glad I just never really gave them a choice, we were just going to do it. It was never an option to not eat what you put in front of us- to this day they eat everything! I didn't give them an option- they just ate the healthy food I made.

I always encouraged the boys to write down miracles, write down the things that the Lord has already done for us. So that we can rehearse the little things to help build our faith.

They were grateful I didn't let them watch TV all day- I made them go outside and play. We would play in boxes, cut holes out for faces, paint the boxes etc.

They also told me they were grateful I didn't let them compromise. Compromise on their integrity, on their health issues- no matter what others are doing- THIS is what we're doing.

8.) Now what was one of your favorite memories with the boys?

We never allowed the boys to purchase greeting cards for special occasions... they had to make them. I have 20 years of heartfelt homemade cards... more valuable to me than anything. The cards reflect their artistic ability, what phases they were in, because that is what was usually drawn on the card and their verbal expression. It was awesome to watch them go from "I love u mommy you are the best because you make me yummy food" to "thanks for all you do in helping me grow into the man of God I'm called to be"

>>Wow! I was really challenged by this interview (have I said that every month?) I've started setting my alarm earlier and spending that early morning in the Word and praying. I knew I was using the excuse of being tired and boy oh boy did Gayle hit the nail on the head! It's not really an excuse. Somehow when we give the Lord our first moments of the day he gives us the extra energy, clarity and wisdom throughout.
I'm so blessed and grateful for each mom who's let me interview her! Can you believe I only have 9 left? What other new things will I learn this year... I'm excited :)



Monday, March 3, 2014

Seasoned Moms Speak Out- February with Gail (Part 2)

I'm very excited to share {Part 2} of Gail Andersen's interview with you all! I've had lots of excellent feedback from part 1 and I'm bold enough to say it just gets better. If you missed {Part 1} please take the time to read it and get yourself acquainted with who Gail is and get some details about her family.

1.) What was it like homeschooling and being a pastors wife?

Interesting...In Tulsa it was fine, people at least respected us. But when we went to WI we were the only people homeschooling in the church, of course the church was very small and the church was used to older pastors who's wives who were in the church full time. It was difficult for people to take at first and it takes awhile to earn respect for what you are doing and have people hear your heart. But then to see good results within our kids and then all those things were enough for people to like the idea and then it became more popular.

2.) What sort of characteristics did you want to see in your children as they grew? Did you and Kirby sit down and talk about those?

Oh yes! Constantly. I'm sure nobody does this anymore but we did morning devotions together during the week, we had all our meals together. There was no- Hey grab this when I'm hungry- some of that happened when they were teenagers. We went through all kinds of things we talked about, it was me at the beginning leading them and doing most of the discipline. Because sometimes it's hard for dads to get into the discipline, they've had a long day at work and they don't want to walk in the door and hear you say- this person needs a swat for this and this person needs a swat for that. Instead they want to get them up out of bed even though it's 10pm, they haven't seen them all day. This is the stuff that was really hard when I was structured and more strict. My friend Christie advised me to continue almost like he's not there, so instead of thinking that the minute he comes in the door- he's the head, he's the lead- he may not the lead in that area yet. Just in that area, so you keep doing what you're doing. You get up and move, it's easy with parents for dad to come home and mom expects dad to take care of the issues because he's home- but then neither of you do. And the kids know- they know when dad comes home things are looser. To communicate with my husband respectfully I would say something like- Honey I know you're really tired would you mind if I take care of that-

I really wanted my kids to be independent and also being able to manage a home- part of our schoolwork in high school were business skills taught by Kirby and I taught home management. I wanted them to know you had to change the air filter, you gotta do this and you gotta do that, this is the way we manage housework- there are things we do every 3 days or twice a week, things we do weekly, monthly, things we do every 6 months. That stuff may not be totally real for them until they have their own place, but at least they've been exposed to this stuff.  I wanted them to love the Lord and look for Him first and to be able to fulfill whatever gifts the Lord had given them. We were really big into finding what those things God had blessed you with and be able to use those skills and talents for Him.

 For the girls I intentionally taught sewing, cooking and house management. But the boys still got exposure to those things. My husband couldn't even run the washer when I was gone! So that determined me to train the boys to know house management skills. We wanted all of our kids to work hard to have a good work ethic- by the time they were in 7th grade they had to figure out a way to make money- this trained to be entrepreneurs!

3.) You say you are structured and scheduled could you give an example of that during the day?

I got up at 6am I would shower or get ready for the day and I would have my quiet time. If I had to get a digital clock for the kids rooms I would. If they wake up before- I put some books by the side of their bed and they could sit and read or visit with one another- but they could not leave their rooms.

>>>Oh Gail I don't do that now- BUT I want to start doing that with my older child! How do I transition into that wake up routine?

You start by explaining it and explaining the benefits, then you have some rewards to encourage them. Give them a reason to want to do it. I don't know what that is for your kids, but most things with kids are systems of rewards and consequences. They are different rewards and consequences for each child- depending on what they like and what they don't like. It's not a bribe- it's a benefit beforehand and they can choose not to and they don't get the reward. We train for a long time with only rewards before there are ever consequences, if they got out of bed they would have to go back to their room without a reward. To train your kids to do something different there has to be a benefit- lunch on the back porch or a popsicle after lunch- when they are younger the rewards need to be closer to the training though. But really that was just salvation for me- I couldn't have done it with 5 small children without wake up training for the older kids.

Once the children were older and didn't need me to help them with everything they could get out of bed and start their day. We got into a routine of having big breakfasts together and each day we had 1 big meal scheduled- there were not options. We had a cycle of what we ate one day we had pancakes, then eggs, oatmeal and then muffins there weren't choices. In the winter we made bread in the bread maker and they could have some of that- but other days they weren't allowed to eat anything until lunch if they didn't eat their breakfast. They didn't starve, now if they wouldn't eat any of it not even 2 bites- it went right in the fridge and they would have that for lunch. I would warm it up and then they would have the regular lunch afterwards. Sometimes my kids would get tired of sandwiches- so I gave a slight variation: PB and jelly or bologna. But that's it, no other options. That's just what we were all going to eat. Listen- you have to be tough, you are setting the example, you're setting the boundaries- your children are not your friends- you are in charge of them, you are over them, so you should not be feeling like- Hey Buddy do we want to eat right now? OK we don't- Do we want to nap right now? OK we don't- you aren't going to get anywhere with that.  You are going to have a child who is way off the radar.

4.) I'm sure you did, but did you ever just get worn down with the dailiness of it all?

Of course! In fact if you were to ask me right now what's your biggest regret in parenting- I would say the fact that I could not be as consistent as I wanted to be- it was very hard. Well I had 5, that's a lot of intermingling and opportunities for not obeying.

This will help: I heard a teaching one time about how pilots in a plane actually are off course 90% of the time! They constantly have to make course correction, so that's what parenting is; we know where we are going, we know it's here, but we go off and we have to course correct, every time the Lord shows us we are off we need to course correct. We do it and we come back- that's what we are looking for- as long as you are course correcting and doing what the Lord shows you- you are OK. Don't beat yourself down. There's always going to be opportunities when you feel good about what's going on and there will be opportunities when you feel bad.  That's how homeschooling was- felt good, felt good, felt good: oh now I want to quit. Ha ha.  That's when bouncing things off my husband would help.

Your kids aren't there to prove you are doing a great job. That is a trap. And as a pastor's wife, can you imagine how we felt? We always felt like our kids were a reflection of us- but we had to break that. Our kids are there own people, especially when they get to the point where they are teenagers, you are still influencing them, you are still effecting them, but they are there own person. They are not with you 25/7 nor should you be with them 24/7 so they will stub their toes. They will do things that are wrong, they will do things that will embarrass you- but you cannot completely lose your confidence in what you are doing. You've got to know the confidence inside that you've done what's right, God has shown me this, I believe I'm doing what's right- even though it's looking bad, even though this child is reacting strongly to what I'm doing- God am I making a mistake? Please show me!

My scripture when I had the twins was- Isaiah 50:7 "For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed."  Because I kept thinking that I didn't know how I was going to do this with 5 kids! But I knew the Lord would show me! I will set my face, I will not be confounded or confused and I will not be ashamed- now you see why I had to have prayer time! Ha!

5.) What were activities you did just for yourself while your children were young?

Exercising and sewing. Those were the 2 major things, when I had all 5 I would go to an 11:30 workout class at a fitness club, then after lunch shower when they napped. Then when we didn't belong to the gym anymore we did Hooked on Aerobics which I think was on PBS, I would have the kids try and do it with me. It's hard to exercise with the kids at home, sometimes there were times I would just go take a run.

6.) What were some ways you kept your marriage strong with 5 kids?

Being consistent with the kids with discipline, keeping everyone on a schedule, because when you are keeping things on a schedule you are honoring your husband. If you know the kids stay in their rooms until 7am then you and your husband could have 6am-7am together, yes that might be your quiet time- but that might be the most spiritual thing you could do! Having the kids stay in their beds at night, not letting them keep getting up and interrupting your time. Having the first 10-15 minutes when your husband comes home, where he greets the kids and gives them a kiss and they go play and you sit and talk. That was hard for us to do but that was our goal- sometimes Kirby would come home during lunch time-we would have a quick bite and then have a "meeting" in the bedroom, same thing at night- I may feed the kids and Kirby might take a few nibbles and by the time the kids are all in bed (like around 8pm) we would have a nice candlelight dinner at the dining room table. That's what's so important about having the kids under control and on a schedule.

7.) Raising 5 kids is tough- how did you remember what age the first child started to do new things?

I had a book called the "Book of Ages" and I had specific times at specific ages- what time you went to bed at different ages, at what age you could spend your own money and so on. When the kids go to bed at different times it gives you more quality time with each one of them. Another way to get special alone time with your kids is to take only 1 of them on an errand with you. It gives them a chance to talk about anything, you can sing- you can do all kinds of things. And you never get that time at the house. So taking them one by one is fantastic.

8.) Your family is all very close- what were some things you did as a family to keep them close?

Traditions! Lot's of traditions, I'm a firm believer that they need to be apart of something that is bigger then themselves and that thing is basically the family. That is their unit, that is the unit I want them to identify with- I don't want them identifying with their peers and thinking they don't want to be with family. So fun things- every year we did a "Kidz Day" because Jesse hated that every year there was Mother's Day and Father's Day- and he said when is it going to be Kidz Day? I thought what a great idea! So we started having yearly Kidz Days- it's not a specific date, it's always in the summer and it's always a surprise! I would wake them up at midnight ad tell them it was Kidz Day and give them badges, an invitation to what we were going to do for the day, placemats and ice-cream at midnight!  Usually it involved a trip out of town, or an overnight at a hotel, day trips, something special, it was written on their invitations.

Our weekly family nights, we started that before it was a national thing- we also journaled about the night. We traded who planned it, the only ones who could spend money were mom and dad, the kids had to plan a family activity that did not involve money.

I have a ton of traditions written up, we had a Fall walk every year when the leaves would start falling off the trees, our vacations- we took one big vacation a year- we named it, we had a vacation cry! We also had special school days: Red Day, Green Day, Backwards Day,  No Socks Day,  Green Eggs and Ham Day, School in Bed Day, Pajama Day we had loads of special days- just to keep the fun in school! We had a Summer Day in the winter- we turned the heat way up and wear swimsuits, shorts and a t-shirt, picnic in the living room with hot dogs and lemonade.

But do you see there how nothing about those special traditions or fun days have come off the schedule or off the consistency I'm trying to establish in my home?

Well if Gail doesn't inspire you to be disciplined & scheduled BUT fun then I don't know who could! Ha ha, but seriously how amazing are all her traditions and special family moments? Is that what our current society is missing? With all the convenience and tech toys around us- are we missing out on being creative in our own homes? Have we left the creativity to Apple, Disney and Pixar? I say we rally up our families in 2014 with new traditions, Kidz Day and schedules! Do you like how I slipped that discipline in there with a schedule for your family? Well it's important but you can be a fun mom amidst all the consistency.

I'm so grateful to Gail for her godly wisdom, these interviews are having a huge impact on how I mother by sons and how I approach the years coming ahead. Join me soon for our next interview coming in a couple of weeks! (Do you see I did it again! I've posted part 2 late- eek. Sorry!)


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Seasoned Moms Speak Out-February with Gail (Part 1)

My sister Becka married this amazing man named Josh. He is amazing because of his parents; his mother Gail is really one of the wisest mothers I've ever talked with. She let me interview her this month and I couldn't help but feel humbled that she would take the time to teach and share with me on her precious Sunday afternoon.

Gail has raised 5 incredible children who are talented (the list goes on and on of what these kids can do!) loving, grateful, fun, silly, respectful and most importantly: they LOVE Jesus. She taught them to be disciplined, independent and how to care for each other and their home at a young age. Her list of family traditions is out of this world (really a "vacation cry"?? You've got to be kidding me- I want to be this family!!!) She shares how having a large family pushed her into training the older kids in household chores at a young age and how teaching them independence was so important for helping them discover their own passions, skills and life ambitions.

Grab a latte and cozy up with February's Seasoned Mom: Gail Andersen.

1.) I think of you as a disciplined, no-nonsense mom-were you always that way?

Yes! It's my tendency, to be structured and disciplined.

2.) Were there women in your life you admired or gleaned from when you were a new mom?

Yes! Christie Wildly went to church with us and her impact was huge in my life. My family life was dysfunctional and my mother was not always the best example for me; my parents lived in Dallas and my in-laws were out in Colorado. Nobody was close enough to babysit or help us, even when my mom did visit she was still parenting.  So that's one of the reasons now I want to be a help to my sons and daughters so much.

I had to find people I could glean from; I looked around in the church and saw people who I did not want to learn from, some people who were doing OK and then there was Christie. I gleaned in the area of discipline, even when it was new to my husband and I, Christie was very specific in that area. One of the first things she helped me with was in my marriage- she gave me great advice on how to honor my husband and let him take the reigns in our finances and working to support our family. I would wake up early and pray scriptures over my husband, I would speak over my husband the things that I was believing to see in him. He is not the man today that I married, not at all.

3.) This is skipping ahead a little bit- but what was it like having twin girls after having 3 boys?

Oooooh Fantastic! Ha! Well you must realize we prayed for twins. We always kind of wanted twins, our oldest Josh was not quite 7,  Jared was 4 and Jesse was 1 year old when the girls were born. And I knew that after I had the twins that nothing could come close to that experience, as far as the excitement. It was a heck of a lot of work. But it was exciting. So I never could have had a singleton after that. So 5 would be it, the number of Grace!

4. How did you train your older boys around the house.

Oh my! This is my teaching background- 3 of my younger siblings were handicapped. One of them (my sister) went to a Montessori school and I would sit and watch for hours. At Montessori school there is a place for everything and everything has its place. Everything is broken down into steps, so when I wanted to teach my boys how to run the washer and dryer; I would break it down into steps. But before we even got to the machines, you have index cards with all the steps on them (a little drawn picture) The laundry was presorted in color-coded baskets, we had step-by-step cards and markings on the machines- but we PLAYED with those cards and put them in order, its a game, I believe if you teach your children early enough- it's a game! This stuff is part of being in a family, especially a big family. It's part of being a good husband or wife or roommate. These are life lessons. Part of my homeschooling was teaching those things, I had lists: OK today we are going to learn to dust or learn to clean the sink. It's a game and its fun for a long time. I'm real big into rewards and consequences. So when you are trying to teach something new there can be rewards, then the rewards lax of because then its expected.  Depending on their age, once they hit a certain age they were completely responsible for that chore.

5.) Why did you decide to homeschool?

My friend Christie- recommended a book called Better Late Then Early by Raymond Moore. He explains why kids especially boys do better if they start late or aren't pushed. So I made the commitment to the Lord at that point to keep them home until 2nd grade. But once my oldest got to 2nd grade I was loving what I was doing, there were more people doing it, there was more of a following at that point and I took every single year as an option, OK Lord what do you want me to do this year?

By the time my oldest was in junior high he had the desire to go to school and get more social interaction in- so we got him involved in a Campus Life ministry. That was his social outlet and he was apart of a discipleship team and in leadership. Each year I prayed the Lord would help fill in the gaps of where I wasn't able to be everything for them as a teacher. Another area of socialization for the kids was the church, every time the door opened we were there. And we created time into our schedule with other families, we had friends over on Fridays and it was our day to lax a little bit.

The kids also saw the value of working diligently on their school work, sometimes they would bring their Mondays work to church on Sunday and get ahead a day. Then on Monday morning they have the freedom to get up and decide what they want to do, they aren't waiting on mom for the lesson. They can choose to practice an instrument or pursue a hobby. It trains them to discipline there time and discover their own interest. When I was growing up I played piano and I didn't want to practice after school- I wanted to play when I got home. So I would get up 30 minutes early and practice before I left. Then when I came home from school- I was free, I had my day to myself!

Scheduling your day is very important, your kids need a schedule and they will thrive within one. I am a fun teacher mom so I love taking breaks from that but there is always a schedule to come back to, and you have to look at what you are characterized by. Are you characterized by the schedule or are you characterized by the laissez faire (doing whatever you wanted to do) Every child craves creativity within structure. Do you realize that's why they misbehave!? They are misbehaving because they can't find the boundaries and when they hit the boundaries they stop. We as parents train them to misbehave, misbehave, misbehave because we don't stop them, they don't hit the boundaries until way to late. The parents set exactly where they are, when the boundaries are small the children will stay within them, as the parent you are in control. When they know where the boundaries are they can function, have fun and be free. But they have security in that boundary.

Wow what insight and wisdom. Gail really challenged me to think about what my boundaries are with my kids and what a difference some Montessori style teaching could bring to simple house hold jobs. I'm so grateful to learn early on in my mom "career" if you will, these ideas and strategies for teaching and discipline are really exciting!

Check back soon for {Part 2} there's still LOTS of amazing stuff (and don't forget about the famous list of family traditions! Eek, I'm so excited to share those)


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Seasoned Moms Speak Out- Whitney (part 2)

Are you teachable? Are you willing to learn from others? Are you adaptable? These are the questions that I've been reflecting on the last year, I want to sit and learn from others. Every person has value, they have an amazing story. Do you act like you know everything? Do you have all the answers? When I meet people who aren't teachable it makes me sad for them. There are so many amazing moms out there with wisdom and lessons to teach. Join me for part 2 of my Janurary interview (oops is it February already?) with Whitney!

If you missed part 1 CLICK HERE


Q- Are you a laid back mom or a strict mom?

A- I consider myself laid back. My boys said that one of the things they liked was that you always gave them the pros and the cons, but I always let them make their own choice. Even when they were young, they remember me saying "well let's talk through that. Here's what's going to happen if you do that and here's what going to happen if you don't. And here are the positives and there are always positives, even with sin there's positives. Unfortunately. The end result is death- The wages of sin is death. I probably said that 1,000 times. But you always have a choice. So you have to make your choices on your own." So I think I'm probably really laid back, but I also tried to make conscious choices with my boys. For instance, I always chose to have my boys friends at our house, we would have parties and invite kids that they didn't necessarily hang out with and my boys said that made them be more social, it made them be more kind to people they really didn't know, it made them branch out. And they appreciate that now because they said it always made them a better person, it helped them to feel confident in talking to whomever as they got older. They said they felt like they had never met a stranger. 

Q- Do you ever have those days when you wish you could go back to when your kids were little? 

A- There are times when I walk into a room and I see their faces and I see them as if they were little laying in the their bed.  I looked at Cole the other day sitting on the coach with his new little dog and I could see his little boy face again! This time with a beard (ha!) but it was like I was right back at that time. I do, I really miss that time when they were dependent on me. There are definitely those seasons in your life you will miss. And you will want to go backwards. I miss that time of being needed so much. I think now I have to find other people who need me. Being a mom for so long, you are so needed by everyone in your family. 

Q- What habits do you see the fruit of now?

A- I would say hard work. Our kids were always made to work, they had chores that started when they were really little. We made them work outside, anytime we were outside working- they were outside working. We started family chore day on Saturday when our youngest son Cole was around 6 years old, we would all get up in the morning and draw cards for which room we were going to clean. The boys were responsible for their own room, but all the other rooms were written on a card and thrown in a bucket. And that was something I had to really let go of was that it might not be done perfect. But at least I was teaching them a skill. Those family chores didn't have allowance allotted to them -these were just expected. If they wanted the latest something or wanted to earn money we had extra chores for them on the refrigerator. And the amount of money was earned based on how well they did the extra chore, and if I had to tell them to do it then they weren't getting paid for it. Sometimes at the end of the week or a month we would pay them for the extra chores or go buy them that thing they were really working hard to buy themselves! And we would thank them for their hard work. 

Q- What were some of your favorite memories of the boys when they were young?

A- One of mine is that I rocked my boys to sleep every night. I really valued that time I spent with them. I remember so many nights just holding them and not putting them down right away. Going to their sporting events, we didn't ever miss a game of theirs- the only time I even remember is when I was coaching and in a tournament we were winning. Those are such great memories because we used them as life lessons of losing and winning. That's a really great time to teach your kids a lot of things. Some of our best talks were coming back from games and sporting events.
  Other memories are hanging out at the house on the weekends. We had a pool for forever, we don't now but we need another one. The summers in the pool, just hanging out with the kids. Putting the phone away, really if there was anything I could tell parents today: put your phone away, put your computer away and just enjoy your time to be with your kids! We made a rule a long time ago it was no phones at the dinner table. Make quality time where everyone unplugs. When our boys got older we picked Sunday night and did a short devotional as a family. We took turns so we each led once a month. Then we would talk about our week, we kept a journal, a prayer log, seeing answered prayer for others and ourselves. Then we would spend time after that playing a game or watching a movie. Those Sunday nights really helped us stay connected as a family. 

Q- What's a regret or something you would have done differently?

A- Teaching them better financial management skills. We were not good at that ourselves so we didn't teach them very well. Also I really coddled them when it came to their schoolwork. Being a teacher, a lot of it was pride. I wanted them to be good students because I didn't want people to think I'm a bad mom. Sometimes I would help them to the point of enabling them. When they played sports and came home exhausted the last thing they would want to do is homeowork. So I would help them. Looking back I wouldn't enable them, I would let them fall were they may. I wish I wouldn't have helped them out everytime. 

Whitney thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and life lessons as a mother! Do you have anything else you want to share? 

A- Yes! Here are some comments from my boys: 
- Thank you for teaching me priorities. To put God first, from a very early age. 
- Even when I made mistakes my parents never made me feel ridiculed or judged. I always knew I could go to them and talk to them because I knew they would love me no matter what.
-Some of my insecurities led me to make bad decisions. Make sure parents are continually aware of the excuses your kids are making for these, they may just be insecure about that area.
-One thing you never said was that you were disappointed in us. You might have said "that's really disappointing" it was never personal, it was never an attack. 
-Our mom taught us to find a woman that's filled with Gods beauty. So that our eyes could see what the heart sees. That beauty comes from within and it radiates from an inner being. 
-We've never been rich but we've had a very rich life! 

Wow! Tears. I got really emotional with that last thought from Whitney's son! So many times my thoughts are consumed with providing for my children and it's not about the stuff. It's about the love and time you put into your children. I will always remember that. A rich life is so much more then our society says it is, it's about parents who put down their phones and have family night. Parents who take the time to teach a life lesson after a game. Parents who teach the inner beauty of others. 

I want to be a parent like that. Do you?


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Seasoned Moms Speak Out: January with Whitney (Part 1)

Ever since I became a mom I've been asking other parents advice. I've wanted to know how to be a great mom. A mom who's kids love her, respect her, desire her company. A mom who showed them Jesus, a mom who wasn't perfect but trained them carefully.

In our society now, there isn't a community of women teaching and training younger moms. And sadly young moms don't seek advice or even listen to it for that matter. It makes me sad that when a gal gets pregnant she goes to the bookstore for advice before talking with other seasoned moms around her. 

I'm truly fortunate to know some really amazing moms who have been through "the trenches" with little ones and who have lots of wisdom to share. 

Let me introduce you to Whitney. I met her through Lincoln Christian school back in 2005. She's one of those teachers who everyone likes, she has the respect of her students and faculty alike. She's warm, kind and I've always felt drawn to her. I've always wanted to know her better and to learn from her! She has an amazing husband and 2 awesome young men she raised. To me she's been successful in motherhood. Her boys love her, each other and Jesus. What a combo! Join me for an interview with January's Seasoned mom:

Q- Tell me about your transition into motherhood

A- I went back to work after 6 weeks, I was there for a week and I said I can't do this anymore! I have to be with my child, I have to find a way. Financially there was no way, but through prayer I said God you can make a way for us, I'm supposed to be a mother, so show me how I'm supposed to do that. I think that in itself made it undaunting to me, I never felt like it was a rough day, of course I say that- I had days that were rough. But I never regretted staying home. Even those days when we had no car and no way to get anywhere because we went to a 1 car family. I kept telling my husband Gods going to make a way and every month we always had our bills paid. And all the sacrifice was worth it! 

Q- What was your daily schedule like with your baby?

A- My first son Kent was my late sleeper. I say God must have known that I needed any easy baby so that when the next one came around I would be humbled. Because I thought oh I'm a great mom, I'm so good at this, man I could have 40 kids- I'd be fine! Then Cole came along and I thought oh man I'm a horrible mom and I don't need to have anymore children.
  Kent would sleep in late, because I kept him up late. And now looking back I think I would have done that differently. Just because it did take away a lot of time from husband. I mean we had time together, but not that quality time. I would stay up late and have time to myself but not time with my just husband. 
  The schedule was get Kent up around 7 or 8, eat breakfast and when he was little he was really into puzzles, and building things so we would spend the majority of our time playing. I just remember spending my time with him and I don't remember spending time with the TV. And it definitely was a conscious choice. I think those were building blocks to my relationship with him before his brother came along. When his brother did come he was in the hospital for 50 days because he came premature, the doctors told us he wouldn't live and then we battled all those thoughts. We prayed over him Jeremiah 29:11, we were young Christians at that time, but God showed us he was our child and he's got great work and plans for Cole. That's when my faith started building, and all that seed I had planted into Kent he knew that he was loved. That was when motherhood took on a whole new meaning to me, those trying times, when I had to rely on God outside of myself, to know that He was in control. 
  Once we brought Cole home he was in and out of the hospital for months, on a heart monitor, on breathing machines- so those first 2 years with him were really trying. And he didn't sleep and when he did you were afraid he was going to not wake up because all of the bad reports, it was overcoming fear and speaking the Word. As far as schedule there was no schedule, it was whatever Cole wanted to do, I remember getting up early or trying to get up earlier then they did so I could have time with The Lord and some days that was really hard because we never knew which schedule Cole was going to be on! Doctors wouldn't allow us to take Cole to church so we went about 6 months without going to church and there was no online church back then, it was me trying to feed my own soul. Sometimes it was dark, dark places when I felt like I needed a friend, I felt isolated but I felt The Lord telling me I had him, I had my husband, my mom and my kids. So who are you going to rely on? Who are you going to trust? So that was my growing time with God, but it was also my time with my kids to really invest with them. 

Q- What were some of the things you prayed over your children?

A- I always prayed Jeremiah 29:11, that's my go to scripture because I believe with both of them God said "I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Also Proverbs 3:5- Trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not into your own understanding. I always prayed Isaiah 54:13- "All your children shall be taught of The Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children" I always wanted peace in our home because my home was not one of peace. I would also get out books and pray specific devotions over them.

Q- Tell me what life was like with a family full of boys 

A- I grew up with 1 brother, 2 sisters and my mom. My brother is very passive, he's a great role model and a great leader but he is very passive when it comes to women. So I kind of expected that, and that's not how it was. My husband is extremely strong, the alpha male, his parents yelled in his home, so we had to have lots of talks privately about the fact that we aren't going to raise our voices at our children, we aren't going to yell at them. We had lots of talks about the differencing in parenting style. But when the boys started getting older they were so aggressive, they would want to hit and fight constantly, let's wrestle, let's go outside. The fighting really bothered me, I would say stop fighting, quit it, if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything to each other. You know all those things you said you would never say when you became a parent, and here I am saying those things over and over to them. And as they got older it just escalated, it's just part of being a boy. I would read about it, I would ask other people about it, is this normal? But my husband would say they are fine, that's what boys do. They were never aggressive to me, we set those boundaries, that was my husbands thing- he said they were never allowed to be rough with me or hurt me. He said if you hurt your mom I'm going to hurt you. My husband is very protective to me even to this day. Now my boys aren't as rough with each other, they are more competitive. But it's a guy thing. It's a whole different world, but I think you have to let them be physical. Sometimes my husband would say go run around the yard (we have 5 acres) and they would say where? He would say the whole fence line, just run the fence line! 

Q- What were specific characteristics that you consciously taught your children? 

A- One of the things I told my kids early on and it was something my mom told me "Don't act good, BE good" never be an actor, always be who you were called to be and be confident there's nothing wrong with that. I wanted them to be good sportsmen, I wanted them to be funny, because my husband is really funny. Growing up they would be funny, but at the wrong time- and my husband would tell them- being funny is all about timing, you have to have good timing. They are personable, I wanted them to be good with people and have good people skills. In our group of friends, most of the other couples didn't have kids yet or had young kids, but we still brought them around so that they were around adults a lot. They knew about adult talk so they learned how to tell stories. And I think that's part of being around adults. Too many times parents separate their kids and go out with their friends and kids don't get to hang around with those friends. I think that's important, having your kids socialize with other adults is just as important as having them socialize with other kids. We also taught them good leadership skills, we would talk to them about how other people look up to them. I explained to them that I wanted the world to look at me and see something different. Anytime we would see things out of the ordinary, we would bring it back to leadership skill. Like in sports, why do you need a quarterback? Because you always need a leader on the field- if no ones leading then everyone's confused. We would talk about being a silent leader, you don't always need to be the quarterback, sometimes people are looking for your character outside of that role. How do you act when you don't get chosen for the homecoming court, when you don't get all those positions. Are you still a good leader?

Q- If you could give one piece of advice to a new mom what would it be? 

A- Make sure you allow your children to see that you aren't perfect. And if you were perfect, find some people that you trust who've made some bad decisions that have turned out to be great people and let your kids experience communication with them as they get older. Especially in their teenage years. Even when they are little, admit your mistakes to your kids. Too many times parents try to make themselves be perfect, I made that mistake with some of my past and not bringing it up earlier. It came to bite me in the butt when my kids got older. Kent said I wish you would have told me that before, but I thought I was saving him from having to know about my past. I wasn't trying to hide anything, but I thought he didn't need to know because I thought it might change who he was, well it would have changed who he was, but it would have for the better. 

Wow! Aren't you loving this? Such amazing insight. Check back for part 2.