What's the big deal about Young Living

Online Mom Retreat – Camp Gimmeabreak

Are there any other moms out there who feel a little overwhelmed with all the activities and trips and vacations and unstructured time and kids wishing you would fill their every hour with one fun activity after another? Not to mention the H.E.A.T.

It's almost enough to make a mom hide in the bathroom and take extra long showers just to get a few extra minutes of quiet. Or so I've heard.

Annnnnnyway... if you are up for meeting new friends just like you in a private Facebook group, receiving daily encouragement, sharing prayer requests, and receiving tips from a mom of 9 on how to find your joy in the midst of chaos, I have just the thing for you.

Camp Gimmeabreak

My friend, Lisa, from The Pennington Point has put together a Moms' Summer Camp full of encouragement and fun just for moms. We need some summer fun too, right?!

This is all online and will go from July 4 through August 12. It's light, easy and uplifting, and Lisa has named it, get this, Camp Gimmeabreak. We could all use that, amiright??

Camp Gimmeabreak is a fun, 6 week time of refreshing and encouragement for moms. It will include:

  1. An email each Monday with a video of encouragement and some steps to take for finding joy in your life!
  2. A private Facebook group where we will have discussions, prayer requests, live videos and weekly nighttime "bonfires" which will include special guests and fun prizes.
  3. An opt-in to a daily text of encouragement during the camp to help keep our focus on joy!
  4. We will be going through my book, "Mama Needs a Do-Over" with added ideas and bonus material.
  5. Easy, playful weekly challenges to encourage us all to see our days as filled with blessings and sweetness.

I'll be joining this online summer camp for moms, so come on. Let's be encouraged together!

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Spending One on One Time With Kids

Several years ago, when my oldest was twelve or so, she tearfully confided to me that she felt like she was never able to have a conversation with me without being interrupted by one of the other kids, whether it was a spill that needed wiping up, an explosive diaper that needed changing, or an opinion that one of them felt they needed to share, there was always an interruption.

I realized then that she saw herself only as a part of a large group, and not as a special individual. It broke my heart that my sensitive girl (and all my other children) felt overwhelmed with so many needs and opinions in the house. I wanted to be able to hear all of her dreams and concerns and wishes and fears, but I had to admit that she was right. It really was hard to be able to focus on one single child when there were so many that needed me just as much.

Mom and Peyton at Braums

That's when I instituted the Half Birthday and Birthday Month Special Day With Mom. During a child's half birthday month and again during their birthday month, they may choose up to 3 activities and plan a full day alone with just Mom. Sometimes these activities are local.

Peyton ice skating

Most of the kids love to go to the mall for ice skating and ice cream.

Mom and Jackson at Chilis

Going out to eat is a treat, no matter what your age!

Mom and Emelyn at the zoo

The zoo is also a popular choice. Any one on one time with Mom is a cherished activity.

Mom and Katherine at The Breakers

Occasionally we have an opportunity to travel for the birthday or half birthday special day. My 12 year old qualified to compete nationally in level 8 gymnastics, so we got to fly to Rhode Island! This was a VERY special Birthday Month Special Day With Mom.

Mom and Reagan at Padre

My 10 year old was invited to play in a competitive soccer tournament at the coast! The two of us hit the road and spent the whole weekend together enjoying the sand and surf for her Half Birthday Special Day With Mom.

Kathering bowling

Different years have brought financial limitations or financial blessings, so my children know that we must plan accordingly. One special outing may be limited to a matinee movie, IHOP with a coupon, and window shopping on the square. Another time, if money and the opportunity is available, we may be able to take a flight to a fun destination.

Laser tag with Reagan

Wherever we go and whatever we have planned, just being together for the entire day (or weekend) and being able to listen intently to all the heartfelt thoughts each child pours out is worth more than all the gold in the world. It does require sacrifice on the part of those left at home. They must make do without Mom until she gets back, but they willingly do this, knowing they are soon to take their own turn with me. They each look forward to their special days and spend months planning them.

I really feel like this is such an important way to ensure that each child in the family knows that I value each one of them and care about their thoughts and feelings.

Here is another way I make sure my kids get regular, individual attention.

How do you make sure you spend individual time with each of your children?

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Why I Love Hamilton, the Musical

*This post contains affiliate links.

(Click on the pic to preview the cd.)

Have you heard about the hottest ticket on Broadway right now? If you are my real life friend or you follow Smockity Frocks on Facebook you probably know I am obsessed with this musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of our founding fathers, George Washington's right hand man, and the creator of our financial system (his face is on the ten dollar bill), among other accomplishments.

One of the incredible things about Hamilton's story is that he overcame incredible odds and was extremely driven to accomplish as much as possible in his life. The musical is almost completely historically accurate. It has a few places where the writer took artistic license, but almost every single detail is backed up by letters from Hamilton or one of his associates. I know this because I have been so drawn to the story that, since falling in love with it, I have read biographies on Hamilton, Washington, and LaFayette. It really is amazing how much material from the actual letters was incorporated into the lyrics of the musical!

This musical is NOT kid-friendly, though. Think History Channel documentary, rated PG-13-ish. There are some cringe worthy instances of lewd conversation and swearing, so my youngest children have only listened to certain songs. During his lifetime Hamilton was involved in war, politics, and infidelity so there are lots of topics not appropriate for children. (Be sure you use ear buds to preview first.) My teens and young adult children, ages 16 and older, have listened to it completely and adore it as much as I do.

It is such an inspiring real life historical story of overcoming, of determination, of forgiveness that I think it's worth overlooking the bad language in a few spots.

I won't go into how fan girl crazy I am about the writer, Lin Manuel Miranda, and all the performers in the show but just know they are all my pretend BFFs.

If you think you or your older teens would be interested in this fascinating glimpse into our country's beginnings you can *preview the cd or see it on iTunes.

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On Mom Encouragement and One Rep at a Time

I have 3 baskets of laundry sitting at the foot of my bed. They've been there for a while. There. Now you know.

I look at those 3 baskets and think, "I really need to put those clothes away. But first I'll have to clean out my dresser and get rid of all the t-shirts, jeans, and pajamas I never wear so I can fit those clothes in." And then I realize we are out of big black trash bags, and I would need to make a run to the store to pick those up so I would have something to put the give away items in to take them to the donation center.

And then one of the kids hollers from the kitchen that they just spilled a gallon of milk all over the floor, and the clothes stay in the baskets, forgotten, for another day.


My long time friend, Michele, called me this week. Do you have a friend like her? We can go months without talking and pick up as if only a day has passed. I love having friends like that.

She was calling because someone had invited her to join her local CrossFit box (that's what they gyms are called in CrossFit) and she wanted to know the reasons I love it and have continued to go every single morning for the past 11 months.

(Stick with me, now. This actually relates to those baskets of laundry up there and isn't about gym memberships at all.)

Here's what I told her.

This morning's CrossFit workout was SO HARD that I thought multiple times about quitting before the 45 minute time limit was up. I couldn't feel my arms. I was gasping for breath. I was thinking, "This is ridiculous. It's TOO HARD. I CAN'T DO THIS."

But I kept going. Do you know why?

Because the others were cheering me on. They were standing next to me (since I was the last one and they were already finished) shouting, "You can do it! Just do one more rep! Now ONE MORE! You are strong! DON'T YOU DARE STOP! You can do one more. KEEP GOING!"

They were repeating an often stated mantra at my CrossFit box. "One more rep." You may have heard, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." The idea is that you don't think to yourself, "There is no way I can do 50 sit ups." You think, "I can do one sit up. Then I can do one more. And then one more."

There is no other place I go, no other activity I participate in, where people gather around me to tell me not to give up, that I am capable and strong, that it isn't too hard for me. 

Now, what in the world does this have to do with baskets of unfolded laundry? Just this.

This is what we should do for one another, Mom Friends.

When the days get so tough that we think we can't go on, we can come along side one another and say, "YOU CAN DO THIS! I am right here to hold you up! You are doing a great job! YOU ARE ABLE!"

But the thing about our mom struggles is we have to let one another know what they are. Since we don't gather at the gym to fold our laundry together, since we are each really doing it in what amounts to adult solitary confinement, none of us realizes the others also have 3 baskets of unfolded laundry at the end of their beds, too.

So, let's be real and vulnerable with one another. On those days when we think we just might fall apart, let's say, "Sometimes this all feels too big. I just don't know if I can really do this whole mom thing well. Honestly, some days I don't know if I can do it at all."

And that's when we can gather around and hold her up with our encouragement. Wouldn't it be amazing if we felt like we had a team of moms who were right there in the trenches with us cheering us on? Moms who really had managed to fold and put away those 3 baskets of laundry and were telling us, "It's not too hard! It just feels that way way right now. YOU CAN DO IT! One more pair of socks! DON'T GIVE UP! YOU GOT THIS!"

Encourage one of your Mom Friends today. Yours may very well be the voice that keeps her going.

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It’s Not My Fault

Broken iPad

It was the kind of pounding that made me wonder if I needed to turn off the water with the shampoo still in my hair and call 911 from the bathroom.

"MOMMY! I need you!" she sobbed.

I grabbed a towel and shouted through the door, "What is it? What's wrong?"

I could only hear indiscernible sobbing and mumbling from the other side.

When I got the door open I saw her holding the shattered tablet. All at once I was relieved and furious because she had had me thinking there was a dead or dismembered sister somewhere on the property.

"What happened?" I asked. This was the tablet she had saved her money for, the tablet she had debated for months about buying.

"It's not my fault!" she cried.

I thought she must have accidentally dropped it down the stairs or knocked it off a table.

"It's okay. Just tell me what happened."

That's when the real story came out. It turns out that she had left it on the seat of the recliner in the living room when she had gone to bed the night before. Someone must have unknowingly sat on it in the dark room.

"Hold on," I said. "Dropping it accidentally is a very different thing than leaving it a dark room on a surface WHERE PEOPLE SIT. If you had dropped it, I would say you were right, that it isn't your fault. As it is, you KNOW that people sit in chairs. You KNOW it is hard to see in the dark. You KNOW that your tablet is made of glass. It IS your fault. If you cared about it getting shattered, you could very well have put it in a better place before you went to bed."

I then asked her a series of questions which she answered.

"Why was the recliner a bad place to put your tablet?" (Because people sit there)

"Where would have been a safe place to put your tablet?" (My desk drawer)

"Why is your desk a better place than the recliner?" (Because no one sits there)

I went on to discuss with her how unhappy her life would be if she continued to have the "It's not my fault" attitude that doesn't take responsibility for her mistakes. We all make mistakes, but it is the learning from those mistakes that gives us the freedom to not repeat the same mistakes time and time again.

If she would accept the responsibility for making a poor choice about where to put her tablet before going to bed, then she would be sure to never again leave a breakable glass item on a seat in a dark room. She would realize that she does indeed have control over whether someone sits on her tablet. If she holds onto "It's not my fault" then she will always think that someone sitting on her tablet is a completely random possibility.

Don't we all know adults who seem to be perpetually in a downward spiral of "bad luck"? One negative happening after another seems to plague them, but upon closer inspection it becomes evident that the negative happenings are a result of poor decisions. They lose one job after another, go through several abusive marriages, are constantly worried about having their car repossessed or being evicted from their apartment. Why are some people so bad at making good, healthy decisions?

I firmly believe this cycle of "bad luck" can be a result of not taking responsibility for poor choices. If something bad that happens is completely random, then there is no controlling if or when it might happen again. However, if something bad that happens is the result of a poor choice, and the chooser realizes this and learns from it, then there is an element of control over happenings in life.

My speech may have been difficult to hear and even hurt my 10yo daughter's feelings, but more importantly, I hope it impressed upon her that there are happenings in life that we can control.

Accepting the responsibility for our mistakes is the first step in controlling those.

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Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting this page with your purchases. 

Are you the type that convinces the family to let you buy your own Mother's Day gift?

I love all the hand-made cards, the crayon-drawn gift certificate booklets, and the crocheted bracelets, but when it comes to anyone spending money on me, I have finally gotten to the point that I ask my family to allow me to do the honors myself.

This year, with some of my blogging income, I got one of these for my own Mother's Day gift:

Garmin step counter

(Please, ignore the hairspray residue.) It is the *Garmin Vivosmart HR step counter ($129), which keeps track of my steps, stairs, heart rate, shows my texts and phone calls, wakes me up in the morning, and controls the music on my phone.

I won't comment on how mortified I was when my 8 year old was fiddling with it during the quietest moment in church on Sunday morning and decided to press "play" while I wasn't paying attention. Let's just say all my music isn't altogether appropriate for sacred contemplation during church. (Think: Hamilton Cast Recording.)

small quick freeze ice cream maker

Here's another nifty gift idea for under $40. My daughter requested a *small, quick freeze ice cream maker for her 8th birthday, and her grandmother got her this one. It only takes about 10 minutes to whip up a frozen treat for us. We all love it and use it weekly!

Another perfect Mother's Day gift for a few more dollars than you would spend on the Garmin step counter would be *this Premium Starter Kit:New Premium Starter Kit3Our family uses these oils EVERY SINGLE DAY. Here is the recipe for the face cream I use each morning before I put on my makeup. Frankincense is SO good for the skin! Here is the spray we use whenever we are going to be outdoors so nothing will bug us. Here is the formula of essential oils my kids use every night as their "sleeping oils."

What does your Mother's Day usually look like?




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