Thursday, May 11, 2017

Is this really "Mother's Day"?

Oh, Mother's Day. A day we love to celebrate our mothers. To give them the acknowledgement and their "due" for the hard work they put in all the other days of the year.  A day to honor and lift high our mothers. A way to say "thank you" for making us who we are and everything we do possible (did I go too far there? I mean, it's true....we totally rock!;)

Posing in 2014 for a Mother's Day picture - we were waiting to travel to China to bring home our Liliana :)

My "Happy Mother's Day" door a few years ago boasting numerous crafts and cards from my family!

My family for last year's (2016) Mother's Day

One of my favorite Mother's Day memories - May 2016

The card my then pre-school aged, Parker, (now 10 yrs) gave me.....I was not even close to 41 - at the time! ;)

Now, bear in mind that I am at a stage in my life where I still have young children. My oldest in 15 years old and my youngest is 5 years old and we have everything in between with our five. What I am about to write will apply mostly to those moms out there who are in a similar stage of life.  For those mothers out there with grown children who have gone before us - I pray that you will get to spend some quality time with your adult children who you probably look forward to getting special time with on this day each year. I look forward to the day when I can experience that with my crew :)

Okay, so on with my rant.....yep, it's about to become one so hold on!

Most of my life we have celebrated Mother's Day with a brunch, lunch or dinner out with my mother, my mother in law, my sister in laws, maybe even grandma's.  Basically whoever is in town, available and willing and their children and spouses. We end up with quite a large table of guest in a local eatery that quickly turns to chaos. This typically turns in no adults (okay, well the men seem to manage) actually being able to talk over the constant barrage of "mom" being yelled out by various children. Or orders being decided with the help of, you guessed it, Mom. Or the ever present bickering, arguing, laughing, crying, etc. of the various children at the table. Or the need for at least one of the numerous children to be requesting an escort to the bathroom pretty much on an ever constant rotating basis throughout the mealtime. Now, I know I left out the spilling of drinks, crawling under the table, crying over what they order or how quickly what they ordered comes out or need to order more, but I didn't want to send you precious mothers out there into a panic attack as you recall these very instances from your own life as you read about mine! And don't even get me started on the when we make the decision we are going to do the meal at our house for everyone and the guys are going to take care of, no. Never actually happens.

So what is my point?  Well, does any of the above sound like a celebration of moms to anyone else? I'm just going to go ahead and lay it out (think of me what you will!).....It doesn't to me!
It sounds like pretty much a snippet of any regular day of any mom's year. This is what we do. It doesn't mean we don't love it (okay, so maybe "love it" is too strong here ;), but it doesn't sound like an appropriate way to celebrate moms to me.  In fact, it actually makes me quite anxious to think about. Every year I really want to do the whole brunch, lunch or dinner celebration thing with my family. I am actually the one that is typically organizing it so it's not like I am drug along kicking and screaming or something. I think in my head and heart this sounds like the "right" celebration for Mother's Day.
It sounds down right blissful when I say it to myself each year. We will wake up (often times I am served a sweet little variation of breakfast in bed and given multiple hand made cards and/or crafts that I cherish!), head to church as a family and then enjoy a beautiful meal together as a family.  I picture sunshine and birds chirping. Me in a darling dress having an incredible hair day with my make-up applied just right. All of my children dressed equally cute and well groomed and well behaved and, of course,  my knight in shining armor (I mean husband) skipping up the sidewalk to our intended eatery.  As a matter of fact, I think I build it up in my head so much each year that when the actual event doesn't measure up I feel like I need to smile through it anyway to show my adoring children and husband that this is exactly what I wanted anyway. Because, after all, this is Mother's Day and this is what I should want to do right? Spend it with the people that are responsible for that title?  And adore Every. Single. Minute. I mean what kind of mother would I be if I didn't?

I'll tell you. I would be the mother that I actually am - and it has taken me many many years of motherhood to be able to admit this to myself, let alone the 3 of you that have continued to read this far!
I am a mother that LOVES my children with every fiber of my being. All five of them. Every day of the year. Each year of their precious lives. No matter what! I am a mother that is eternally grateful for each one of those children. The ones that came from my body and the ones that came to us through the miracle of adoption. I am a mother because I chose to be one - five times over (I know that several of you are questioning my actual sanity now - I don't blame you!;). I am a mother that loves doing all the "mothery" (just made up a word - go with it) things like going to the zoo, the library, school events, serving on the PTO, cheering loudly and embarrassing my kids at every sporting event they are part of.  I am a mom who loves to cook for my family - every day of the week if I can.  I actually love to serve them, truly love it (well, except for serving them by doing laundry - I could really pass on that serving opportunity!).  I am a mom who enjoys bath time (mostly because I know bedtime comes next!!). I am a mom who loves to read stories and sing songs and take my older ones on driving lessons and to pick out a tie for the next high school dance. And so so much more. I am a mom, like almost every other mom out there, hangs on every moment of our kids lives and falls all over herself to make their lives as amazing as we can.

But, just this one day of the year....the blessed Mother's Day...I would like to actually take a break from all of that. Not because I don't love it - most of the time. But, because it would be awesome to have just one day a year, since becoming a mother, that I have to think only of myself.  And what could be even better than having just one day where I get to think only of myself - taking care of just me, me, me?  How about throw some other moms in there for some great conversation, laughs and relaxation and it is starting to sound like EXACTLY the way I would love to spend my day being "celebrated"!

So this year that is exactly what I am doing! I have gathered up 5 of my girlfriend's and we are heading out to a mom's only dinner and a very "girlie" destination! We will not be worrying about what our little people are eating for dinner that night or how much of it they eat or when and how it gets cleaned up. We will not be giving baths and washing a drying hair or cleaning up the splattered water all over the bathroom. Or putting on pjs or reading the 5th "just one more" story for the evening. Or answering whatever need it may be that takes us back into their rooms or has us getting back out of bed to answer the knock at our door for the 12th time.  Or threatening, cajoling or begging for them to put the electronics away, do homework, get off the phone or just get to sleep so they can get up for school the next morning. No way.....not this day!

We will be sitting at a table dressed in our darling dresses, having incredible hair days with our make-up applied just right while we have amazing glorious uninterrupted conversation about whatever we feel like talking about (which will most likely be our children :).  Our orders will be taken by a waiter who will tell us he can't believe we are mothers because of course we all "look way to young and carefree to possibly be" (that's how I am picturing it of course!).
We will enjoy incredible (HOT - like not lukewarm, but actually HOT!) food that we did not have to shop for, cut coupons for, prepare or clean up. We will sip incredible drinks and indulge in rich desserts all while taking as much time as we want to enjoy.  Then when we get home the house will be cleaned up, toys put away and kitchen back in order. The kids will all be tucked in bed where we can look in on their angelic little faces fast asleep and sigh to ourselves that we love them more than life itself. And we will fully appreciate that having been refreshed and renewed and feeling totally "celebrated" in the last few hours of sweet freedom that will carry us through the next 364 days (again, this is how I am picturing it, of course :)
Selfish? Maybe. But can't we have just ONE day of the year where we are allowed that?

And, finally, to all of you mothers out there - I hope that you enjoy your day of celebration however it is that you chose  (or are dragged) to. ;)  Without mothers none of us would be here, that's for sure. And to all of you who are blessed to still have your mother here on earth; give her a big heartfelt "thank you" for being your mom and for the 364 days of the year that she does so without recognition or fanfare.
Me & my mother in law :)

My mom, my grandma (her mom) and my girls :)

Happy Mother's Day beautiful ladies!

And one more thing to help you all out:

Are you having trouble coming up with a great last minute Mother's Day "date" idea? Looking for something fun and different that is more than just simply dinner out? Check out DateCrawl on the app store. It's a free app that will lay out the entire date for you. "Datecrawls" are submitted by other users and verified before being added to the site.  My husband and I assembled a great team of programmers and developers a little over a year ago to build our latest app - Datecrawl. We felt there was such a need for this and based on our users the public agreed!  There is nothing like it out there and it will CHANGE the way you date :) 
Check it out and have a great Mother's Day ladies!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New Year's Resolutions? Service calls!

I can not believe that this is the 3rd week of 2017 AND that I haven't written a post in 6 months!  Life is beyond busy....just beyond.  It is that reason exactly that I was both determined and terrified by what I knew had to be my "New Year's Resolution".  

Do you make resolutions every year? I confess that usually I do not. The few times I have made a resolution I have never managed to stick with it or see it through.  I realized that making the resolutions typically just leave me feeling like a failure when I don't stay with it.  However, this year I decided to make a resolution for my entire family (yep, dragging them in with me and I didn't ask their permission!) and we are going to see it through!  

I have a ton of excuses for why I don't volunteer as much as I used to or as much as I want or as much as I feel I should be.  "For who much has been given much is expected."....can't remember who said it but I do believe it.  We are a blessed family and I know that. While we have a lot of responsibilities and challenges within our own four walls I know that we still have a lot that we can give outside of those walls. I used to do a lot on my own in regards to volunteering with church, school and even, for a couple of years, with a local pregnancy care center, but as our children increased my time decreased until I feel like I do almost nothing any more outside of my home.  We also used to spend a lot of time giving back to our community as a family, but with the addition of my littlest ones over the last few years we have also nearly stopped doing any volunteering as a family. Well, this year that is going to change. 

My "resolution" this year is really about being intentional more than anything else. I am resolving to be intentional about something that is important to me - giving back, volunteering, loving and serving others. And it is something I want to model to my children (even if that means listening to them grumble and complain about it - let's be honest!)  the way that my Savior modeled it for us and to hopefully teach them it's really an important part of our lives.

We actually started our resolution back in November, but I officially handed the mandate down to my children while on vacation as a family over the holidays a couple of weeks ago.  
The resolution: "We will be participating in serving, volunteering and/or giving back to our community and others around us in at least one intentional way each month." 

Typing that out doesn't make it sound like a lot, but I have to tell you that I was already panicking about what we were going to do in January as I looked forward to the rest of the month and realized that we had no more available weekends!  So this past Friday night I realized we had some time on Saturday and I planned our "give-back" activity for Saturday afternoon. After some grumbling and fussing about it, the kids (all 5 of them!) actually got into it and were happy to participate by the end of the activity. 

What did we do Saturday?  We collected sporting equipment for a charity that's local branch was started by a family that we are connected with in our community called Ohio Cleats for Kids (C4K).  You can check them out on Facebook here

We designated an hour for our family to "divide and conquer"! My husband and I tackled the mudroom and garage areas and we sent each kid to his or her room to go through closets, drawers, under beds (lets be real - that is where most of their unused sporting equipment ends up and I have no idea why!), etc. and come down with everything they have that cold be donated. We ended up with a good bin of supplies including gymnastics outfits that no longer fit the girls (sniff, sniff - they are growing too fast), cleats, gym shoes and both soccer and football pads and equipment.  After loading it all up with all piled in the car and drove it to a drop off bin so they could all participate in seeing the entire project through. 

We chose this bin at Scene 75 in Milford, OH since we were going to be in that area.

That was all it took and I know that small amount of time and effort (even though it felt much bigger trying to get all 5 kids to participate "joyfully"!) it will be a BIG impact on others in our community. 

In preparation for the coming months I have reached out to many different area charities to find out their volunteer policies (ages, times, place, etc).  In case anyone reading this would like the info on the charities I reached out to so that your family can spend some time giving back this year, I have listed them below with links:

FreeStore Foodbank: Volunteer opportunities for ages 5 years old and up. During months of harvest they have a farm in Melbourne, KY that you can visit with your kids and help them by spending some time working in the fields. Learn more about Giving Fields Farm here

Matthew 25 Ministries:  volunteer opportunities year round for all ages. No need to call ahead or plan your visit - just show up and they will put you to work :)  We have volunteered here many times as a family over the years and it is really a great place for the family to work together with other families and the projects are always changing. 

Hands Against Hunger (A Child's Hope International): I LOVE this ministry and what they believe and how they support families and children not just around the world but also right here in Cincinnati. Families can go to their facility and work together for 2 hour time blocks to package enough food to feed a child for 1 YEAR! Imagine if everyone you knew just gave 2 hours a month?! Go to their website here to see the packing schedule and sign up for your day of service.

I had mentioned earlier that our family started our volunteering/serving back in November. We started by going to a woman's home who we knew was ill and unable to work in her yard to clean up all the leaves that had fallen over the last month. My husband and I talked about how we could assist her and briefly talked about sending our landscapers out to her house and paying the bill for her. In the end we decided it would be more meaningful for her and our kids if we helped her as a family so that is what we did. We packed up the kids, our rakes, and leaf blower and headed out. Unfortunately the morning we had set aside to do the work it began raining and it was cold. The kids were grumbling and upset that we were "making them do this"! I can't tell you how many times they complained and asked why we had to do this and why she couldn't have someone else do it.  I stuck it out. It was cold and it was hard work - there were WAY more leaves than I realized and our little couple of hour job ended up taking us the half of the day. 
The best part though was that the kids got to see how this act of service impacted this woman. They realized how she was a real person who needed help and how much what they were dong was truly making an impact in her life. She just couldn't believe that we would come out and do all of this work and not ask for anything in return.  That we were just there to show her love. The next day (yes it took and entire day for them to come around!) my boys were starting to talk about how cool it was that we were able to help her and to do it as a family.  And we were even talking about naming something that was a good memory for you over the last few weeks at dinner a couple of weeks later and my youngest son said that he really liked doing the leaf raking together - WIN!

Then in December we had to opportunity to volunteer with Hands Against Hunger where our church hosted a family event packaging 30,000 meals!  We volunteered together for 2 hours in that event and even my little ones (4 year olds) got to help fill the packages. I am looking forward to going to their warehouse and doing this again with the family soon. 

Of course there are many many ways to volunteer and help serve others in our community and around the world but I hope that this gets you going and helps you to step out with your family. What a difference in the world we can make if we can just set aside a little of our time each month or week or year to love and serve others :) 

Happy New Year and make this a GREAT 2017!


P.S. I have had some messages about doing "outfit posts". I know I haven't done one in a long time - even before the last time I posted. I will do my best to update with an outfit post soon. Thanks for reading and being patient!