Thursday, June 9, 2011

A mommy's confession

Today was a hard day. Seriously, I quit as a mom. I reached the point of being beyond done with my children. After the girls were finally in bed (an hour after bedtime) I sat down at the computer to just veg. Check facebook, have {several} conversations via text, and just let this day roll off me.

My plan after the girls went to bed was to study the book of Acts. It's what we're studying as a church right now on Sunday's and my women's small group is going through an in-depth study of the book. But as I started to decompress at the computer, I felt God calling me in a different direction...

As I updated my facebook status and saw that I was not the only mommy who had a rough day, I began to think about why I had handled it so poorly. Both with my words and actions. Sure, I can chalk it up to "I'm just human - I am" and "we all have bad days - we do" and "tomorrow's a new day - it is", but what does that teach me about how I handled TODAY. How do I make it so that tomorrow is different? What can I LEARN from today about God, and who He has made me as a mommy?"

I have an amazing mentor in my life - Darcy Kimmel - and at one point I asked her, what verse do you recommend for those days where you're just DONE as a mom. She recommended Ephesians 4:32 "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ok, I thought, well...I could see teaching that one TO your kids, but how does that help me when I just want to cry "UNCLE!". If you've heard the name Kimmel, it's probably in association with their ministry - Family Matters. Her hubby Tim has authored numerous parenting and life-living books including Grace Based Parenting.

So, as I sat here at my computer, a random thought {hello God} popped into my head, I'm going to do a word study on "grace". I know the word, I've experienced the word, I can recite tons of scripture using the word. But, I thought, do I LIVE the word. Today, did I show my kids grace??

I immediately say, well, yes, I did!! They got warnings, they got time-outs, they got spanked, they got hugs - all of which were deserved and needed. All of those show my kids grace. Then, in my word study, I came across this verse:

"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:6.

Uh-oh. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are days (like today) where God just wants to shake me and scream at me and say "WHAT ARE YOU DOING??!?!?!?" But he doesn't. With His never-ending patience, He says come here, find comfort, rest, let ME renew you, let ME give you strength. That's HIS grace. And I totally failed to do that with my girls today. Instead of being a comforting, restful, patience-filled mommy, I was on edge and snappy - all day.

I find it WAY easier to show grace in my actions, than my words so this verse has hit me hard! I also find that my words are often more grace-filled for others than they are for my kids. So, I have no choice but to go to bed saying this:

"Lord, I praise you for today. For the trials that were brought, because they showed me more of YOU. You're grace is amazing, not only in action but in word. Thank you for bringing me into your arms and lovingly showing me how to be a better mommy to these beautiful children. I pray you continue to remind me of Your graceful words and that I can be a messenger of them to these precious gifts. Amen."

I know I will fail at this. But I know that God gives me endless mercies and the grace to try again tomorrow. As long as I remember to keep coming back to Him...because it's not something I can do on my own.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Grocery Deals: Coupon Clipping Service?

If you've watched the show "Extreme Couponing", you've probably heard mention of a coupon clipping service. I've heard (known) about them for a few years now, ever since I started with the Grocery Game back when Izzi was an infant. But, I've never thought that I would actually use one.

Well, that's recently changed! My friend Erin posted the following about how she gets her coupons: Fast and Cheap Way to get Coupons While I agree that is certainly one way to get your coupons, and for sure, on weeks where the Sunday paper doesn't have ANY it certainly saves you :). But I just couldn't see myself using a clipping service as my sole coupon delivery method for two main reasons:

First, I love being hands on. I need to flip through and look at everything because if there's a good coupon, I might just change brands or try something new. Plus, what if I MISS something because I didn't click a link...OR it's sold out at the clipping service (yes this happens frequently)! Second, I only pay $1/week for the Sunday and Wednesday paper to be delivered to my front door. You can get this by just searching for newspaper deals online. AZ Republic ALWAYS has a renewal code for the $1/week subscription. So as long as I clip 2 coupons each week, it's more than paid for itself already.

BUT! I have started using the clipping services to get some coupons. For example, this past Sunday had a Soy Milk coupon for $1 off one carton. This is huge for us as we go through 1-2 cartons a week (Jeff and Maddi both drink it). The best part about the coupon is that it doesn't expire until 12/31/2011. Hello!!!! Wonderful. So, I ordered 45 copies of this coupon from a clipping service. Which means $45 off what I am ALREADY spending. I don't have to "store" or "stock pile", every week when I go to buy Soy Milk, I grab my coupons. Oh~ and the 45 coupons cost me $5.00 total after shipping. So, even after the cost of ordering them, I will still save $40 ~ on something I buy coupon or not!

So, I think it's valid for you to know that even if you aren't into creating a stock pile or a grocery store in your garage, you can still gain from the use of a clipping service to get some extra coupons and savings on items you already use in your house. If you see a coupon that you would love to have more of - go ahead, and give it a try ;)

Here are the two services that I've used:
The Coupon Master (slightly less expensive and no handling fee)
The Coupon Clippers

Have you ever used a Coupon Clipping Service? If so, is there one you can recommend?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mom Tips: Summer Sleeping

So, I don't want to brag...but I have GREAT sleepers. Don't get me wrong, the first year is ALWAYS rough, but after that, my kids are just great sleepers. I read post after post from moms who have trouble getting their little ones to nap, sleep through the night, or are even up at the crack of dawn (which is 5am here in AZ!). So that got me thinking...

First of all, for all curious readers, here is just how much my girls sleep: Maddi 7:30pm - 7am (age recommendation is 10-12 hrs); Izzi 8pm-7am and 2-4:30pm nap (age recommendation is 12-14 hrs) and Sophia 8pm - 8am and 1:30-4:30 nap (age recommendation is 13-16 hrs).

As I was putting Sophia down for her nap just now, there were two key things I could think of that help my girls sleep like they do.

1: Consistency. Yep, it sucks. It's annoying...but it works. We don't stick to the above sleep schedule minute for minute (I'm so not a "schedule" mommy). Last night we had a family movie night so Maddi and Izzi went to bed at 9. BUT - we don't change it up every day and keep them on a consistent sleep routine 90% of the time. We also have bible study every Friday night in which the girls don't go to bed until after 10 usually. But because we've built up a consistent sleep pattern in them, it doesn't throw them off to have one day (nap) or night be different and they swing back into their great sleeping behavior.

2: Black Out. If you know me, you know I love black out. I think that this is because I can't sleep with light blaring in my windows. I wake up consistently every day when the sun hits rise - usually around 5:15. No wonder kids do as well - with one exception...I go back to sleep. Also, when I talk black out, I mean black out...not a black out curtain.

The problem with a simple black out curtain is that it still lets light in. This is a HUGE issue when the sun starts rising before 5am. I've noticed that any slight change in the wee morning hours wakes a baby/toddler at the end of their sleep cycle. And for me, I'm just not a 5am kinda girl (who am I kidding, I'm not a 7am kinda girl...).

So, I came up with a wonderful solution. My old "cheap" solution was nixed pretty quickly by the HOA - what I call WT BlackOut - which was aluminum foil on the windows. Ugly - yes. But sun reflective (cooling) and 100% light block was a huge win. Anyway, as I said, HOA sunk that ship. So, my next "cheap" solution has worked wonderfully and the HOA can't say a peep. I used black upholstery vinyl - the window just looks like a room with the light off. I tacked it over the window opening then hung my curtains over it. It works a-mazingly. And at 2pm nap time - we have pitch-black rooms as if it were the dead of night. Plus, I have 5am sleepers!

So that's all the tips I have - not much, huh? But at this point, I haven't really needed anymore :)

I love hearing what other mom have learned! What are your tricks to getting your kids to sleep solidly? Any other solutions to the wee ones learning to sleep through the early summer hours you can share with all us mommies out here??