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Recently, I had the privilege of helping to take a friend’s senior pictures.  We met out at a sculpture park that I had never heard of and I absolutely had a blast!  I LOVE photography and I’m constantly snapping pics of the kids, or sunsets, or whatever.  But I decided it was high time to take some “official school pics” of my kids.  The last time I officially dressed Belle up, did her hair and got some keeper photos was when she was 18 months old.  Wow.

We scheduled it for a Saturday night at dusk.  Jason ended up not being able to come, but I plowed ahead anyway since I really wanted to get this done.  Plus, Kodak was running a special for 200 prints for $1.99 shipped to my door! What a perfect time to order 170 prints (yes, I ordered that many from just this photo shoot!) for the kids to hand out to all their friends & to give to all the relatives!  With my husband’s approval, I told the kids if they could smile and obey momma for a while so I could take their pictures, well, we might just find our way to the Starbucks drive through for a kid’s hot chocolate.   Wowza- did that do the trick!  We got to the sculpture park and Johnny ran over into the grass, sat down and folded his hands and gave me the biggest and cheesiest smile ever!  Good start to the night. 🙂

Here are a few of our outtakes for your enjoyment!

He made it about 4 photos into our shoot before the goofiness starting eeking outa him!

I think her face started to hurt from smiling, but she really wanted this pose with the flower since it was

one that I tried with Sam (who’s senior pics I took).

“Hold on mom, I have something in my toe.”

“Why are we all laying in the grass???”

“And then I went to the store and bough a LION!”

Is it just me or does my son look like a baby Yoda? 🙂

“I like to smile without my teeth.”

“Can we have some hot chocolate yet?”

And yes, I will post our keepers soon!

I came across the following from Neva Whitney (writing about what verse helped her the most in being a mother to her children) and it hit home today! I’m going to write this verse down to keep at my kitchen sink!

“And I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls. If I love you the more, am I to be loved the less?”  2 Corinthians 12:15

Spend and be expended – that pretty much says it all. Moms lay down their life day after day, night after night, week after week, and year after year. They do this for decades. It’s hard work. Yes, there are rewards. But the work is hard, nonstop and relentless.

The verse says “gladly” spend and be expended. That always was a ‘check’ to my spirit. I did not always succeed, but I sure tried. I felt it was my responsibility to smile, as that’s what God always wanted from me. Being a mom is not just a duty; it’s a privilege. Being a mom is a work that can only be done well, if it is done with joy.

As wives and moms, we cannot fall into this world’s way of complaining about the time children take or the interruptions and inconveniences they can cause. We tend to hear so much complaining! Our children are our God-given disciples and they will define most of our daily schedule and when all is said and done – our life’s work!

A joyful mother should set the atmosphere in the home, even when sleep-deprived or buried under a pile of laundry and bathroom messes.

Being a mom is such a God-given privilege.  Our children are a blessing and a gift – from God’s own hand.

– Neva Whitney

Not sure what God is doing in my life, but refining me as a mom sure has been on His to-do list.

Not that I mind, I really do want to grow.

But sometimes it is hard, I don’t see that I’m making any progress and raising kids of character is sometimes exhausting and overwhelming.  This week is one of those such times.  It has been a crazy long month ending with an even crazier long week.  Jason has been gone for 4 days and I’m staring down a brand new week and haven’t seen my honey yet. Wowza.

I read this post last night and it was perfect timing on God’s part. Praying today that I can keep the long view in my sight.

I’m a “giver” by nature.  It is what I love to do.  I love to give to my friends, family and anyone really (yes, I’m the crazy lady in the store who will walk up to someone and tell them about a deal somewhere else in the store-ha!).

I was reminded today (as mom’s will be celebrated this weekend) that I believe one of the greatest things we as moms can give to our kids is to pray for them.  Yes, the healthy eating, money managing, personal hygiene, and green living skills are good, but praying for them? Man!! I really want to do that more.  I want to affect their lives for now and for eternity and I can do that through seeking the Father on their behalf.  I found a similar list a few months ago that I have been aiming to pray through on a daily basis for my kids (yes, I have a long way to go to say this is a “habit” my life).  But as I was typing this list for church this week, I realized how cool it would be to pass along to anyone else who would like specific ways to pray for their kids.  I just pray for whatever number on the list matches with what date of the month it is.  For example, today, May 6th, I would pray that they would glorify God and rejoice always.

Would you like to join me in creating this prayer habit for our kids?  I am confident that their lives will forever be changed!

Biblical Prayers for Children
“Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace.” -Psalm 144:12

1) That God would draw them to Himself at an early age (John3:3, 6:44, Psalms 78:5-7)

2) For them to obey and respect authority (Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:1)

3) For their moral purity (Psalm 119:9, Proverbs 5:7-23, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 2 Timothy 2:22)
4) That they would be protected from the deceits and schemes of Satan (Psalm 91, Ephesians 6:10-11)
5) That they would know and love God’s Word (Psalm 119:9-11, 2 Timothy 2:15, 1 Peter 2:2)
6) That they would glorify God in whatever health or life circumstances He gives them, rejoicing always (Philippians 4:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:18)
7) For them to be wise in the wisdom of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7, 2:1-7)
8 ) That they would have and be a special friend (David & Jonathan: 1 Samuel 20)
9) That they would endure hardship in fellowship with Christ (Colossians 1:24, 2 Thessalonians 3:13, 2 Timothy 4:5, Hebrews 10:36, 12:7)
10) That their yes would be a yes and their no would mean no (Mathew 5:37, Psalm 15:4)
11) That they would be equally yoked with a godly spouse (1 Corinthians 7:32-35, 2 Corinthians 6:14-20)

12) That they would always be humble, desiring for God to have the glory (John3:30, James 4:10, 1 Peter 5:5-7)

13) That their life would be used to promote God’s kingdom (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 20:24)

14) That they would understand grace and so live out the law of Christ (Titus 2:11, James 4:6, 1 Peter 1:13)

15) That my girl(s) would have a quiet and gentle spirit and my boy(s) would be the spiritual leader of his family (1 Peter 3:4, Ephesians 5:23, 1 Timothy 3:4)

16) That they hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness (Matthew 5:6, Proverbs 20:11)

17) For them to identify with femaleness/maleness and be protected from gender confusion (Romans 1:25-28)

18) That they hate evil, avoid it and get caught when they disobey (Psalm 34:11-14, Proverbs 4:14, Provers 15:3)

19) For them to be hard workers (Romans 12:11, Colossians 1:28-29, 3:17, 3:23-24)

20) That they would think Biblically (John 8:31-32, 2 Corinthians 10:5, Romans12:1-2)

21) For them to be an encourager to others (Ephesians 4:15,29, Philippians 2:1-2, Hebrews 10:24)

22) That they would love the church (Ephesians 4:14-16, 1 Peter 1:22)

23) For them to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16, Colossians 4:5-6)

24) That they be secure in who God has made them to be (Psalm 139:13-16, Romans 8:1, Ephesians 1:3-6)

25) That they know they are deeply loved (Psalm 103, Lamentations 3:22, Titus 2:4)

26) That they love the Lord their God with all their heart (Matthew 22: 37-39

27) That they love others as they love themselves (Matthew 22:37-39)

28) That they would have honesty with the Lord, themselves and others (1John 1:1-9, Psalm 15:2)

29) That they be faithful stewards of their God-given talents and their money (Luke 16:10, 1 Timothy 6:6-10, Psalm 112:5, Proverbs 11:24-25)

30) For them to live by an eternal perspective (Acts 20:24, Romans 12:1-2, Philippians 2:20, Colossians 3:1-2, Hebrews 11:13)

31) That they would be men and women of prayer (Colossians 4:2, James 5:16, Acts 2:42)

Yep, pretty sure my son is nearly three and a half months old and our tummy time still looks like this.  The kid hates it!  He just turns his head to the side and starts screaming.  I’ve tried letting the Belle and Johnny get down on the floor with him, I’ve tried having him at the end of the bed so I can kneel on the floor and have him look at me and also propping him up on a pillow to give him some added “umph”.  It is still a no go.

Which leads to the next issue, head control.  He really does not have very good head control.  He will hold his head up if I hold him and have him face outwards so he can watch the kids.  He really likes that, but since his head control is not the greatest, I can’t keep him in the mei tai facing out so that leaves me to holding him.  Did I mention that we are packing up to leave the state and I have two other very active (I have yet to find someone who says they have in-active) toddlers?  Needless to say, I do not hold him facing out that much- but I’m working on it.  It is much easier to strap him in the mei tai snuggled up next to me or let him swing in the baby swing.  However, neither of those options are helping his head control or his ability to learn to push himself up.  Oh, and as I was thinking about this more today- it is a lot harder to let baby #3 just hang out on the floor all the time than baby #1 or #2 since the older ones are running around all the time!  I just don’t feel like it is a good idea to set him down very often on his tummy- it is just an accident waiting to happen.  AND- did I mention that he just screams?  Not the most pleasant sound in the world….

However, I have to give the little man props- he is at least trying this week.  A few times he has picked up his head and looked around.  I’m trying to catch some tummy time shortly after he eats so he is happy and not tired.  He still has yet to push up with his arms, but the fact that he lifted his head up most of the way last night and flashed me one big toothless smile gives me a little hope that we will not be 2 years old before we get this figured out!

Did your kids do this?  My other two did not have this issue at all, in fact John Boy was so good at tummy time, the kid rolled over when he turned 2 months!  I know comparing your kids is not a good idea- but what is a mother to do???

We have all heard of what is happening in Japan right now.  It is heart wrenching.  When I see pictures or videos, I want to turn away because it is easier to just not think about it.  But that is not what my heart wants to do.  I want to be there, to love on someone, to give them a hug or a clean glass of water or cry with them.  While that is not an option for me right now, there are two things that I can do.

Pray.

Give.

Jason and I were talking this weekend and I mentioned what he was thinking we should do to help the people of Japan.  We decided we would give some money.  I was thinking a certain number.  When I asked my husband how much he thought we should give, he more than doubled the original number in my head.   I winced for a half of a second (remember, I’m a frugalista and get excited about $.50 coupons!), I realized he was right.  We have made it a priority of our marriage to be generous whenever we can. This crisis in Japan is a big deal.  These people need help, now.  And God is good all the time, he has blessed us beyond what we deserve (especially recently when he allowed Jason to keep his job and work remote for Beisser) and has asked us to give with a cheerful heart.

“A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” – Proverbs 11:25

So yesterday during nap time, I was able to make our donation.  I literally checked “Japan” off of my list of to-dos yesterday.

But then this morning during our morning quiet time I felt God tugging at my heart that I needed to get the kids involved.  They had no idea that we (as a family) had even given money to help.  Since generosity is a very important character trait that Jason and I really want our kid’s to grasp, I knew what I needed to do.

During Kade’s morning nap, I gathered Belle and Johnny around the computer and we watched a short video of what was happening with the tsunami in Japan.  I kept it short, but made sure they knew what was going on.  Then we googled some pictures of the earthquake and we talked about how people had lost their homes and some of them had no food or clothes.  And how people from all over the world were showing up in Japan to help people.  I told them that yesterday mommy and daddy were able to give some of our money to help people over there.  Then came the part that I was not sure how they would react.  I asked them if they would give some of their money to help.

Let me set the stage here, the kids have been saving and saving and SAVING all of their money for a trampoline.  Like the 12′ kind.  It has been fun to see how far they have come in the last 2 years since we started putting all their coins and birthday/Christmas money in this fund.  They have done a great job!  And while Jason and I plan to put money towards the purchase as well, we really wanted to teach them about saving.  In fact, I was gearing up for a “How to teach your kids to save!” post in the very near future.  While I’m all about saving, I’m also all about being generous with those resources God has so graciously blessed us with.  Anyhow, just a week or two ago, we had taken their penny jar to the bank to cash it in and put that cash in the savings account.  (It helps that their aunts, uncles and grandparents all know they are saving for this trampoline, so they regularly get pocket change when we have vistors!)  So, we cashed that in so their piggy bank is sitting empty on their dresser.  Just this last weekend we visited Jason’s parents and they had quite a little stash of change for the kids to put towards their trampline fund.  They were pretty excited to put that money in their jar. So that is what we are working with here…. money they had just received… I knew this was going to be close to their (mostly Belle’s!) heart.

At first Belle’s eyes got all watery and she said “I don’t want to give ALL our money (see above) away!”  I decided to asked her a hard question.  If she was somewhere and only had her shirt and pants left and had no food or water- would she hope and pray that someone would be very generous with her?  (Yes, I realize this is pretty deep for a 5 year old, but she was tracking with me, so we went ahead). She said yes.  I was able to share concepts of these verses with her:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.”- Matthew 6:19

“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”- 2 Corinthians 9:7

And I asked her again (and Johnny, but he was more interested in looking at the pictures on the computer 😉 ) if she would give her money that Grandma and Grandpa had generously given to her to help someone over in Japan.  Much to my surprise, she said yes!  I asked if we should give all of their coins (I do not plan to ask for “all” of their money each time we give to something, but I was asking this time and reminding her that we could trust God to take care of our needs and ask Him to help us continue to be able to save for the trampoline in the future) and that is what they decided to do.  Here they are counting up what they had to give:

We counted everything and they had $6.52 to give!  I told them we would take it to the bank to deposit the coins and then we could tell the computer how to give the money to Japan.  (Hey, explaining online donations to a 2 and 5 year old is hard!) 😉

I’m so proud of Belle and her ability to trust God, her parents and her heart to help some other kids somewhere.  Little does she know that we don’t need her and Johnny to save up any more money for the trampoline.  We are quite pleased with how much they have contribuited.  And hopefully with a few more savings from Jason and I over these next few months, we are hoping (don’t tell the kids!) that we can make that purchase this summer for them.  Super exciting on all fronts.

I’m am praying that through our prayers and us leading by example that our kids will grow in their character of giving generously with cheerful hearts.

 

 

I’m no midwife or nurse, but by golly after 3 kids, I think I could take any of them in time and excellence when it comes to swaddling.  I wonder if I could even do it with my eyes closed… 😉  But my kiddos have loved them some swaddling.  With each one we would swaddle them at night and then not during the day so they could get their days and nights figured out.  Belle and Johnny adjusted beautifully.  Worked like a charm.  They figured out their days and nights and we were on a schedule (not necessarily “we eat at 5 each day” but rather “we eat every three hrs” ) kind of schedule.  My little Kade?  He will not have any of it.

Seriously, this kid is an entirely different ballgame.  I have not figured him out.  And while I am in no way complaining, I’m more in awe of the fact that is is 10 weeks old and we still have no schedule. He likes to eat every 1.5-3.5 hrs during the day….depending on if he falls asleep.  And the kid does not- I repeat, DOES NOT like to sleep anywhere –anytime –without being swaddled!  It only took me a six weeks to figure that out. 🙂  Once I tried swaddling him during the day?  Wow, naps went so much better.  I still have no idea how long he will sleep or how often, but if I know he is tired and I wrap him up?  The kid is out like a light.

And while the “no daytime schedule” is frustrating at times when I am trying to plan something, I really don’t mind.  You want to know why?  This kid LOVES to sleep at night!  My first baby who does- but ’tis true!  I wondered if it would really be this way when he was 2 weeks old and slept like 6 hrs straight one night.  I held my breath each night wondering if he was going to snap out of this and start wanting to eat every two or three hrs like his siblings.  But I don’t think so.  The last two nights he has went 8-9 hrs!  I’m completely at a loss for words and can not think of one single thing I have done to try to get him to do this.  He just seems wired this way.  I had no idea babies could do this!  Actually, I did.  I knew of people whose babies started sleeping for longer periods at night with no prompting from them, but figured it would never happen to me. Johnny nursed through the night every two or three hrs until I weened him when he turned 1.  And then it was when he turned 2 years old that he finally started sleeping through the night- so you see how E-X-C-I-T-E-D! I am about this! 🙂

Three cheers for sleep!!

Photo Credit

Parenting is hard work.  There is joy scattered here and there, but those times of “Wow, I really love being a mom!” are not a daily experience for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids and I would do anything for them.  But they are a lot of work.  My parents used to say (and probably still do) “Parenting is about 95% work and 5% fun, so you better learn to enjoy your work”.  So true.

Yesterday I had one of “those days” with my children.  The older two most of the time are the best of friends.  They play so well together.  Johnny is finally at an age that he can pretend play with Belle.  They come up with some of the most creative ideas from forts to playing “life” like the grocery store, story time or house.  I love how much they enjoy each other’s company.  However, there are the days that they are the worst of enemies.  And yesterday was such a time.  Nothing was going well.  Every time I turned around I heard Johnny yelling (which is usually followed by him hitting, kicking or throwing something) which is followed by wailing from his older sister. For the life of me, they could not get along. It was a constant “IT’S MY TURN!” with every little thing.

I was exhausted.

I wanted to give up.

Thankfully reinforcement came when daddy arrived home bedtime came at the right time last night.

I woke up this morning not wanting to face the day.

Thankfully, I have incorporated sitting quiet time around here every weekday morning during the week from 8-8:30am.  Belle sits on the couch with a few books and Johnny sits on a little 3’x3′ blanket with a few books and usually some duplos.  They sit quiet for that half an hr and I get a few minutes to finish cleaning up the kitchen and make a plan for the day.  But most importantly to me is that I use that quiet time to read my Bible.  I am so thankful when God is able to speak to my heart.  Here is a verse I read this morning.

“According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it.” – 1 Corinthians 3:10

Now, I in no way consider myself a master in the art of parenting! Not even close.  But it got me thinking this morning  and I felt God tugging at my heart about the foundations I’m building in my kid’s lives.  It is a brick by brick process.  Every day I am with them training their hearts, every prayer we pray, every loving word said, every situation resolved, every act of kindness we ask them to do, and every training opportunity, these will all add up.  One day they will (hopefully and by the grace of God!) have a solid foundation in which they will love God with all of their hearts, minds and souls.  I realize there are no promises in the Bible about raising your kids.  Principles, yes.  But promises of “if you do this, then your kids will turn out this way every time”.   I just have to trust that while I will not see the finished product for a very very long time, I know that I am laying a foundation and that each day counts.  The good days and the bad days. God can use them all.

We have had many people tell us the Kade is most definitely a Rohlf baby.  But they are not sure why or who he looks like.  It is about an even split with people saying he looks like Belle or Johnny.  Sometimes I see both of them, other times I see my brother John.  Someone said maybe even Aza? Anyway, Jason and I had fun looking through old pictures last night to see similarities of our babies.  My goodness they grow up so fast… and yes, they are all Rohlf babies!

isabelle

john

kade

I personally see that they all have the same nose and Belle and Kade have the same big, bright eye shape (I guess you can’t see it so much in these pictures… but in real life anyway) But then John Boy and Kade Man both have that “little man” look.  So I guess if you put Jason and I in a blender 3 different times you get 3 different kids that all look the same. 😉

What do you think?  Who do you see?  Is there any luck that one of my kids will turn out looking like me?  Not that I mind that they look like their fine lookin’ daddy though!

Ha!  Wish I knew the answer to that.  It would have helped last week when my 2 year old battled that flu bug for more than 5 days.

It was a rough go of it- the little man was down and out.  Laying on the floor, sleeping on and off and on day 3- he hardly had the strength to walk.  I’m not sure who it was harder on.   There is nothing like watching  your weak child cry telling you  that he is hungry and trying every imaginable “soft and bland” food out there only to watch him give it back 30 min later.  We had several times that we thought he was getting better, a little energy here and there or him able to keep food down for 2 hrs instead of 30 min.  But no such luck.  We were in conversation with our doctor, nurse and doctor on call at the ER several times making sure that we were doing the right things.  Honestly if it was up to Jason and I, I think we would have taken him to the ER.  But because they kept assuring us that as long as he was not vomiting on water alone and still having at least 1 wet diaper every 8 hrs… the best thing to do was to wait it out.  So wait we did.  But wow… that was a long 5 days.   Some I hope never to have to repeat.

We did try something new on Saturday evening.  Not sure if it was the cure all or not.  Maybe he was just at the tail end of his stomach bug.  But, I do know that if we ever find ourselves in this situation again of going on days without someone being able to keep anything down, I plan to try it again.  Want to know what we did?  Well, let me tell you!

Yep, that is it my friends.  Coke.  My mom mentioned to me that our childhood chiropractor recommended it to my parents when 2 of my sisters had the flu for days on end.  Apparently, if you let some coke go flat (very important otherwise the fizz will just upset a tummy even more)  you are left with a syrup that will coat the stomach and kill the bacteria there.  And while I know coke has caffeine and HFCS and I have never given it to my son before- we were getting desperate for something to work.  We really did not want to have to take him to the ER.  So we gave it a try (he really only had about 10 or 15 sips total- we just poured it in a cup to get it flat faster) on Saturday evening and woke him up a few times during the night on Saturday night so it would have a chance to get in his stomach while there was no other food.  Guess what?  The kid ate breakfast on Sunday AND lunch AND dinner with no vomit!  WOOT!  Again, not sure if it was the coke or not, but I’m definitely keeping this one in my bag of tricks for next time!

Also an FYI-  I just read this morning in Prevention Magazine that kids and adults who consumed a tsp of honey on the days they had the stomach bug had 40% less vomiting and recovered a day faster than the people who just “waited it out with clear liquids”.  Might be worth a shot next time- plus this plan has no HFCS! 🙂