Must Verses Might

Mom_EssentialsWEBToday’s post is a guest post by Kasey Johnson who is the author of the brand new book/Bible study Mom Essentials: 10 Words Successful Mothers Live By.

Kasey is also a Hearts at Home blogger and one of her blog hop posts appeared in No More Perfect Moms: Learn to Love Your Real Life  (see the hilarious sprinkler story on page 57 if you have the book!)

If you’re looking for a renewed connection with who you are as a woman and a child of God, Mom Essentials may be just perfect for you!

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KaseyHe was in tears as I empathetically explained to my son that he couldn’t join his brothers on the trampoline. You see we had made a deal. He needed to pick up his room and complete his chores for the day before heading back outside to play.

Instead of using his time wisely like his brothers, my youngest discovered his love for Legos and made a really cool truck/trailer combo.

I saw him playing with Legos and I thought about saying something, but we’d been in this situation before and without my constant reminders and redirection he would have never finished his task. This time was different – I knew we didn’t have to leave for an activity and all he’d miss out on is playing with his brothers (but let’s be honest – that’s a BIG deal when you’re 5!)

In our house we have a T-Chart with the words “MUST” and “MIGHT” written on each side.

The musts are things that simply aren’t negotiable – they are a requirement or at minimum a prerequisite to the items in the might column becoming a reality.

I explain it to my boys this way: I must pay the mortgage. I must shower. I must be on time to work. In exchange for meeting my list of musts I MIGHT be able to buy that pair of shoes I’ve been wanting. I might be able to go out for coffee with my friends.

Teaching our kids the difference between the “musts” and the “mights” in this life will help them prioritize their time, talents and treasure.

How to define a “must”:

  • Has a direct influence on your family’s financial well-being and situation
  • Although perhaps difficult to complete, the return is greater than the investment either short-term or long-term
  • Carry with it an opportunity to exercise discipline, focus and/or accountability
  • Directly influence others (in a negative or positive way)

As mothers we need to do the same thing. What are some of your “musts”? Things that simply have to be done in order for you to enjoy your day, or for your life to continue running smoothly?

What are those fun extras, or the “mights”, you get to enjoy when you complete the items defined as a “must” in your life?

Staying focused on the items that need our attention will keep us from spending our energy on activities or (shall I say it?) people, that aren’t a MUST in our life.

We have limited time, energy and resources – let’s use ours wisely and continue teaching our children to do the same! You’re doing an amazing job with all the “musts” in your day – I hope you are also able to enjoy some of the “mights”!

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What about you?  What are some of the “musts” in your life?  How about some “mights?”

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Post-Cancer Nutrition Changes

When I met with my oncologist after my last treatment he told me that I now have three jobs:

1) Exercise Regularly
2) Eat Right
3) Keep my weight down

As he explained, lifestyle changes can make a difference in “turning on” the cancer cells in our body.  There’s nothing we can do that will 100% remove the cancer risk, but there are things we can do to lower the risk as much as possible.

So I’m changing the way I’m shopping, how we’re eating, and my exercise plan.  I’m determined to do what I can do to stay cancer-free.

The Cancer Center offers the services of a dietitian, so I’ve been taking advantage of that and meeting with her to discuss food choices and nutritional improvements.

Here are some things that are now appearing in the Savage household. I’d love to hear about any changes you are making to pursue healthy choices!

Berries...filled with antioxidants. We're eating alot of fresh fruits and veggies these days.

Berries…filled with antioxidants. We’re eating alot of fresh fruits and veggies these days.

Dried plantains have replaced chips in our house! They are so yummy!

Dried plantains have replaced chips in our house! They are so yummy!

I hesitated using coconut oil because I don't like the taste of coconut, but it doesn't taste like coconut at all!

I hesitated using coconut oil because I don’t like the taste of coconut, but it doesn’t taste like coconut at all!

Rather than fish oil capsules, I'm taking liquid fish oil as recommended by my doctor and my dietitian.

Rather than fish oil capsules, I’m taking liquid fish oil as recommended by my doctor and my dietitian.

We're trying to get more healthy oils into our bodies, so the dietitian recommended flax oil. I pour it over our salads. I like it as my only salad dressing.

We’re trying to get more healthy oils into our bodies, so the dietitian recommended flax oil. I pour it over our salads. I like it as my only salad dressing.

While I love me some Jif, I'm learning to like natural peanut butter, made with only peanuts. This brand is the creamiest I've found.

While I love me some Jif, I’m learning to like natural peanut butter, made with only peanuts. This brand is the creamiest I’ve found.

Aluminum Free Deodorant is all I'm using these days.

Aluminum Free Deodorant is all I’m using these days.

 

Posted in My Cancer Journey | 3 Comments

Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together.”                                                            

                                                                ~ Robert C. Dodds

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Do You Love The Ordinary Parts of Your Day?

HAH-Blog-Hop-graphic-2This week I’ve had my grandchildren and at times it feels as if I’ve gotten nothing done!

As I surveyed my day yesterday, it was tempting to say that I didn’t get much done. But then I thought again. There are many things accomplished in the ordinary parts of life: connection, relationship, rest, nutrition, laughter, music, conversation, and words on a page sinking deep in my heart.  The ordinary parts of our life are sacred. They are the “stuff” of life, the content of memories, and the joy in our heart.

Yet too often we miss them.

We look for the big accomplishments, only to miss the small effort.  We desire check marks on our to-do list, but miss the dozens of deeds done that we’d never write on a “to do” list.  We chastise ourselves, our spouse, and our kids for the “more” that could have happened, blinded to the energy spent and the gift(s) given.  We spend the entire school concert behind a video camera, losing the opportunity to capture the moment in our heart.

The ordinary parts of life are a gift rarely unwrapped. Motivated by a society that says bigger is better, we move faster and faster, reducing the everyday moments of life down to interruptions of efficiency. Mislabeled, these precious moments fall by the side unnoticed and unappreciated.

Just for today: Slow down. Increase margin. Embrace ordinary. See the effort. Feel the emotion. Accept limitations. Enjoy the meal. Laugh hard. Connect. Refuel. Listen. Hope. Marvel.

Do you want to love your life? Take a step today to see, embrace, and love your ordinary. While you’re at it, find encouragement from other moms who are learning to embrace their ordinary.  It’s our Third Thursday Blog Hop where you have your very own online moms group each month.  (If you receive my blog through email, you can find the blog hop links here!)

Posted in Miscellany | 5 Comments

Parenting in the Early Years: Take Care of Yourself

hammockI remember the day well. I had a newborn, a four-year-old, and a six-year-old. As a stay-at-home mom, I’d been with them all day and I was exhausted.

Mark walked in the door from work and I said desperately, “I wanna make a deal with you.” He looked at me, surprised.  I’m sure I sounded like a crazy woman.

“Thirty minutes. That’s all I want is thirty minutes.”

“Thirty minutes of what?” he asked.

“Thirty minutes to myself, in my bedroom, with the door closed. That’s it.”

“Well, if you think it will make a difference, I can make that deal.”

That was the beginning of “daddy wrestle time” at the Savage house.  And that was the beginning of a new me.

Parents of littles need time to rejuvenate. They need a plan to recharge their batteries. They need to fill up their emotional and spiritual fuel tank before it hits empty.

They also need to understand that self-care is not selfish.  Self-care is an important part of your job description as a mom.

Little ones take alot of physical energy. You are dressing them, feeding them, playing with them, watching them, answering a ton of questions, breaking up arguments, bathing them, and more!  It’s alot of work!

A parent of preschoolers needs to take me time. Here are some practical ways to do that:

1) Trade childcare with a friend.  Find a friend who has kids about the same age as yours and set up a regular trade. One Tuesday you watch her kids and the next Tuesday she watches your kids.  The kids get to play with friends and you get a good sized break a couple of times a month.

2) Ask your spouse for some me time.  My 30 minutes a day that I asked Mark for gave me time to read my Bible, read the newspaper, or just take a short nap.  It gave me a much-needed respite so I could make it through the evening.

3) Plan a night out once a week.  During that same busy season of littles, I also had one night out to myself where I could meet a friend for dinner, walk the aisles at WalMart, or go to the park or the library to read.

4) Give your kids a consistent bedtime.  They need sleep and you need some time without them underfoot.

5) Take care of your marriage.  Taking care of your marriage is also taking care of yourself. Parents need time without kids around to talk without interruption, have fun together, and enjoy some couple time. If you live near grandparents, ask them to babysit on a regular basis, or trade sitting with another couple, or hire a high schooler to care for your kids on a regular basis. Regardless of what childcare strategy you use, stop the excuses and start make it happen!

6) Keep yourself in God’s Word.  When my kids were little I kept a Bible in every bathroom.  As they entered school and I became the taxi driver, I kept a Bible in the glove compartment of the car. Now I have a Bible on my smartphone.  You can also write Bible verses that encourage you on an index card and post them on your bathroom mirror or your kitchen cabinet.

7) Be intentional about sleep, nutrition, and exercise.  It’s easy to go to bed too late, survive on the crusts of your kids peanut butter sandwiches, and consider your trips up and down the stairs doing laundry as your exercise.  However, that won’t serve you, or your kids, well for for the long run.  Resist the urge to stay up too late. Take the time to plan and make healthy meals. And put exercise into your day in some way, even if it’s just loading up the stroller and going for a 30 minute walk.  Your body and energy level will thank you.

Taking care of yourself is an essential responsibility for every parent. We have to be proactive about filling up our emotional, physical, and spiritual fuel tanks.  When we do that, we ensure that our kids get our best instead of our leftovers.

What about you? What strategies do you use to take care of yourself? 

Posted in Parenting | 2 Comments

Parenting in the Early Years: Rhythm and Routine

readingThe early years are important years for developing security, self-discipline, and emotional safety.  Routine and structure play important roles in setting those foundational elements in place.

When you think about it, life is filled with changes.  Even in a child’s life, change is happening all the time. They move from the breast to a bottle. Their body is growing and they outgrow their favorite pair of pants.  They sleep in a crib, then a bed.  As they enter school they change classrooms and teachers every year. They move to new classes at church.  Change is a part of growing up.

In the midst of all that change, they need some stability. Daily routines teach self-discipline as well as provide stability.

Here are important routines to set in place when parenting in the early years:

1) Morning routine–Breakfast, brush teeth, fix hair, snuggle, read books, and make bed–some of these may make up your preschoolers morning routine–you decide what to include and what not to worry about.  If you can do them in the same order each day, it develops into a rhythm that translates into self-care habits as they grow older.

2) Meal Routine–Can they help set the table. When we sit down, do we pray together before we eat?  Do we put on a bib?  All of these can be an important part of a meal routine.

3) Nap/Rest Time Routine–Little ones need a daily nap or rest time once they outgrow naps.  Naptime after lunch might involve finishing up lunch, helping to clear the dishes, and then reading a few books and laying down to sleep.  Once they start to grow out of naps, they still need some quiet time where they read quietly, play with Legos in their room, or just have some time to lay on their bed and listen to music.

4) Bed Time Routine–Little ones need a set bedtime usually somewhere between 7:30 pm and 9 pm.  As we established yesterday, preschoolers don’t make good leaders. Don’t put them in charge of their own bed time.  Sleep is an important part of their physical development.  Once a bed time is determined, a routine can be set such as bath, story, prayer, bedtime.

What about you?  What other routines would you add that are important for the early years? 

Posted in Parenting | 1 Comment

Parenting in the Early Years: Be In Charge

LandonMark and I have the joy of having 2 or our 3 grandkids all this week while Mom and Dad take their church youth group to a week-long youth conference.

I’m knee-deep in diaper, sippy cups, and cutting up food at mealtime.  Because of the age range of my five kids, we had a preschooler in our home for 17 straight years.  I can tell you that even though it’s not a part of my everyday now, Mark and I have slipped right back into the rhythms and routines of the preschool years.

This week I’ll be sharing strategies for parenting in the early years.  Today’s strategy is: BE IN CHARGE.

Have you ever played pinball?  You shoot the ball into the pinball machine and it is bounced around from boundary to boundary.  Parenting preschoolers is very similar. Our little ones are looking for their boundaries.

The early years is when we establish a respect for authority that will serve our child well throughout their lifetime.

Often it feels like they are pushing the boundaries, but really they are just looking for them.  We all long for structure and consistency in our lives–preschoolers are no different. That’s why it’s important for parents of preschoolers to BE THE PARENT.

What does this look like from a practical perspective?

1) Be the leader. If you don’t lead, your child will lead and you and I both know that a four-year-old is not equipped for leading adults effectively.  They can lead you and they will try to lead you, but you have to resist the urge to give in to their influencing actions.

2) Don’t be manipulated. They will whine, throw a temper tantrum, beg, and cry to get their way.  Don’t take the bait! They need the adults in their life to be a strong boundary and to set and keep direction.

3) Untangle emotions.  Sometimes their tempers come to the surface out of frustration, being tired, or even being sad.  Redirecting, snuggling, and even separating a child from others for a few minutes will help untangle the emotions that are inside of them.

4) Make small tweaks. Yesterday I took Rilyn to the store with me. She was the average four-year-old who wanted everything she saw.  I was having to say “no” every five seconds.  Then I remembered how I resolved this when my kids were little.  I told Rilyn that she couldn’t ask me for anything at the store but she could show me the things she’d love to have for Christmas.  No more need to say no and instead I could connect and engage with her interests.  It was a small tweak that made a huge difference.

Remember, you start raising a teenager when they are a toddler.  Being in charge during the early years will help set the stage for still being in charge during the teen years, where the concept of respecting authority really comes into play.

What about you?  What strategies would you add for being in charge and staying in charge in the early years? 

Posted in Parenting | 2 Comments

Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.”                                                                                                             ~Marcus Tullius Cicero

Posted in Miscellany | Leave a comment

My Favorite Travel Apps

On our recent road trip I discovered a couple of apps that made travel so much easier!

rest areaThe first was Rest Area Finder.  If we needed to make a potty stop, the first thing I’d do is look at how close the next rest area was. This helped us know whether to exit and find a gas station or wait a couple of miles and hit up a rest area.

images (1)The second app that was incredibly helpful was a historical marker app called Markers. Yes, I’m one of those people who loves to stop at every historical marker along the way! Mark accommodates my requests, but it drives Austin nuts. I was soooo excited to find this app because I could read what was on the historical marker while we were driving! No stopping needed!

wagonI also learned to look ahead at the markers on our route to discover if there was a real need to stop.  As we were driving through Wyoming, I looked ahead and discovered a historical marker that said, “This is where the Oregon Trail crossed Wyoming. Just beyond this sign you can still see the ruts in the ground made by thousands of covered wagons heading west.”

After reading that I promptly announced that we were stopping at the next marker.

Even a grumpy teenager thought the covered wagon ruts were pretty cool.

What about you? If you have a smartphone, what smartphone apps have you found helpful when traveling? 

Posted in Miscellany | 5 Comments

A Time of Rest

Austin, Mark, and I just returned from a much-needed two week vacation.  I chose to unplug during that time–I scheduled a few Facebook posts and blog posts so it didn’t seem like I disappeared.

But in real life, I did.

And it was wonderful. photo 3

We started our 4000 mile road trip by heading to Oklahoma City to spend the weekend with my sister and our son, Kolya.  We met Kolya’s friends that we had heard about, but never met. We also visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial which honors the victims of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

10356699_10202939814109002_6887911926297150264_nWe then spent a day on the road to travel to Colorado Springs. I pulled in just in time to spend the evening with dear friends Tammy Maltby, Lorraine Pintus, Lori Wildenberg, and Yvette Maher who joined Michelle Cushatt and I in celebrating a “we kicked cancer’s butt” evening. (We missed you Juli Slattery and Linda Dillow!)  It was so good to laugh, share, pray together, and have a wonderful time with sweet friends that I don’t get to see often enough!

IMG_0533The next day was spent at Focus on the Family.  It was the only “work” day of our trip. Dr. Kathy Koch and I recorded a 3-day Daily Broadcast on No More Perfect Kids that will air sometime in September. I also recorded a show on my book My Hearts at Home, as well as one about my cancer journey.  When I know the air dates, you’ll be the first to know!

We then spent a day in the Rocky Mountains visiting the gold mine cities of Cripple Creek and Victor. photo 2Austin had been asking to go to the mountains so he could practice his photography skills.

My friend from high school, David Smith, is a landscape photographer who lives in Colorado Springs, so he served as our tour guide for the day!

photo 1The day we were in the Rockies was our 31st wedding anniversary.  We had honeymooned in the Rockies so it was a treat to be able to spend our anniversary there!

We then began to head north towards Yellowstone, stopping along the way to see family in Eaton, Colorado.  We spent one evening in Jackson, WY and then traveled through the Grand Teton National Park to get to Yellowstone.

photo 3 (1)Our second night in the Yellowstone area was spent “glamping,” that’s short for glamour camping.  We slept in a tent, but in real beds at Yellowstone Under Canvas.  It was a beautiful setting in the mountains, but it was COLD! The temperature dropped to 33 degrees that night and we had no heat source, just a ton of blankets.  Some tents had pot belly stoves….we wish we’d gotten one of those tents!

photo 2 (1)Yellowstone was incredible. I’d been as a teenager, but Mark and Austin had never been. We saw a moose, a bear, elk, and bison….just meandering along the side of the road!

photo 4The geological features of Yellowstone are fascinating with geysers, mud pots, and more! The scenery is breath-taking, although I will admit that Austin was the average teenager at times.
photo 1 (1)We’d come around a corner to another breathtaking scene and Mark and I would gasp, “Oh my goodness…that is so beautiful.” Austin, in the back seat, would respond blandly, “It looks just like all the other mountains we’ve seen the past three days.”  Gotta love those teen years!

After three days in Yellowstone, we began our trek home stopping at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota and spending the night in Nebraska along the way.

It was a long road trip, but a wonderful time with friends, family, and God’s beautiful creation!

Some summers we’ve had no vacation, some years we’ve done a staycation, other years we’ve spent a week at my mom and dad’s condo in Ft. Walton Beach, FL, but this was only our second major road-trip vacation since we had kids (we made a trip to California when Anne and Evan were 2 and 4!)

The break was much needed and it refreshed my soul in so many ways!

What about you?  What are you doing to unplug and pursue some rest and recreation this summer? 

Posted in Taking Care of Me | 6 Comments