Friday, October 28

My Name is Mama

"Oh, that's a nice drawing," I told the little boy in my first-grade class. "Are you done?"
"Just a minute," he said, "It's for my mom, I just need to write her name on it." Then he carefully scrawled, in his best six-year old writing, the letters "M-O-M."

My mind went back to an earlier conversation I had with my own daughter, who is his age. "Look Mama! I made this picture of you. It even has your name on it. See? It says 'Mama!' And I wrote 'I love you' a bunch of times because I love you a LOT!!"

That's when it dawned on me. To her, my name is Mama. The more I thought about it, the deeper I felt this statement. There's no other role I play that changes my entire name. I don't go by wife, or cousin, or teacher, though I am all of those things. I retain my identity, who I've been my whole life. But being a mom is different.  It's not just a part of my life - it changes all aspects of it. And it doesn't matter whether you carried your child for 9 months or you brought him home from 6,000 miles away. The moment you hold that child in your arms, a mama is born, and there's no turning back.

Mama cheers on other people's kids in t-ball, and wipes their faces after cotton candy. 
A mama's heart rages when she sees any kid being treated unfairly. 
Mamas cry at sad movies and movies with happy endings too. 
Some of mama's best friends are under 4 feet tall and live in her house. 

Being a mama changes who you are, and that's ok. I'm not Liz to my kids. My name is Mama, and I love it. They have no idea that I had imaginary friends to keep me company as a kid, or that I was class president in high school (some turnaround huh?), and they really don't care. I'm Mama, and that's all that matters. I'm the one that gets up with them in the middle of the night, who holds them when they're sick or afraid. When you're a mama, you might not get 8 hours of uninterrupted beauty sleep each night, but you don't mind [too much]. It's all part of being...who you are. Mama.

And while only time will tell, I suppose I'll probably stay a mama forever. If I'm anything like my mom (and I hope I am!) I'll go over to my daughter's house in twenty years or so and I'll instinctively pick up stray toys and help her fold the mound of laundry by the couch. Then I'll ask her how her day was and if she needs anything. Not because I have to, but because I'm her mama, and that's just what mamas do.

Question: How has being a mom changed you?

Thursday, October 20

Science Fun

School is really rolling along, as you can see. :)

Having 7 kids together (I do a co-op with a friend) from 6 months to 8 years old is challenging, but the kids are having a great time, and so are we.

First grade is studying weather right now, and I just had to share these cute devices we made!

The first one is a weather vane. I was so suprised that it actually worked!! You can find directions for a similar vane here, though ours didn't call for the plastic cup. It was really easy!

The second device is an anemometer, used for measuring wind speed. Directions are very basic:

1. Tape 2 straws together to make an "x."
2. Punch a hole in each styrofoam or plastic cup about an inch away from the top.
3. Poke a straw end through each cup about an inch or so, bend, and secure with tape to the inside of cup. Be sure cups are all facing the same direction.
4. Push a tack through the center of the straws (where the "x" is formed) and push gently into the eraser of an unused pencil just far enough to secure. Straws should spin easily when blown.

The kids love going out and recording the weather using devices they've made, and I feel like a cross between Handy Manny and Martha Stewart - it's great!!

Saturday, October 15

Digital Scrapbooking Software Winner

And the winner is....

Wait for it...

Mom4Less! (Number was chosen through  She has been contacted and has one week to contact me for more information, otherwise a new winner will be chosen.

A big thanks to all who participated in my first giveaway, and there's more good news!! Even if you didn't win, you can still get this great software at a great price, and just in time for the holidays! My Memories Suite has given me the go ahead to offer a $10 discount for their basic software,  (bringing it to less than $30!) PLUS another $10 in downloads from their site. Just follow this link for the software and copy and paste the code STMMMS73689 in the coupon/promo code box. That's it! 

Thanks again for joining in, have a great day!

Wednesday, October 12

He Said, She Said...Nothing

My husband, who is a pastor, occasionally asks me to do a skit with him as an introduction to his message. Not too long ago, he was teaching on communication in marriage, and our skit went something like this:

    (Tom walks through door)
    Me: Hi, Sweetheart! (kiss) How was work today?
    Tom: Ok.
    Me: Did anything exciting happen?
    Tom: No.
    Me: Oh, ok. Well, what do you want for dinner?
    Tom: (Man grunt).
    Me: Your mom wants us to come over for dinner next week, do you think Tuesday sounds good?
    Tom: I dunno.
    Me: She really wanted to set a day. Please can we go Tuesday? I checked and our calendar is wide open.
    Tom: Sure. Whatever. 
    Me: Oh, thank you, Sweetheart! (big kiss on cheek)

For the record - HE wrote this. Not me. I hadn't read it until we started practicing, and about halfway through, somewhere around the man grunt, I started sounding a little frustrated as I tried to pry answers out of him. After all, we wanted this conversation to sound realistic, and that's how I usually respond! But Tom stopped me, "No, no, Sweetie, don't sound like that in the skit. Act like you did when we were dating." Ouch.

I totally understood what he meant, but his comment stung. I thought, He's right. Why did I have all the patience in the world for him before we were married, and now I don't? What happened?

After 10 years of marriage, any wife can tell you exactly what happens. We have one too many conversations like the one above. We put ourselves out there too many times and get tired of being hurt or ignored. You can probably relate. But when, really, is it ok to give your spouse a piece of your mind? to lose your temper? to stop talking altogether? I don't know the exact answer, but here are a few I found in the Bible:

Forgive "seventy times seven..." (Matthew 18:22)
"Let your speech be always with grace..." (Colossians 4:6)
Be "kind...tenderhearted...forgiving one another..." (Ephesians 4:32)
"The fruit of the Spirit is love...peace...patience...gentleness..." (Galatians 5:22)
Don't repay "evil for evil, or railing for railing." (I Peter 3:9)

Ouch. For the record, I didn't write those either.  And I'm not saying they're easy. I'm saying those responses are much more biblical than mine often are. And, if I'm honest, that's exactly how I want others to treat me. To be kind to me when I'm in a bad mood. To forgive me and love me when I'm not very lovable to them.

So let's test this: What if, for just one week, we treated our spouses the way the Bible tells us to? The way that came so naturally when we first met? Just for a week. How might our relationship change? I don't know, but I'm pretty sure it would improve! So, for the next week, I'm going to try my best...
   1) not to respond to or talk about my husband in an unkind manner,
   2) to forgive easily, and
   3) to encourage daily.

You know, the way I did "when we were dating." I'll let you know the results, and I have to tell you... I can't wait to see them myself!! If you want to try this too, let me know so I can pray for ya! I have the feeling we're gonna need it. :)

Friday, October 7

My First Giveaway!! Digital Scrapbooking Software

I have been tossing around the idea of doing a few giveaways and reviews for awhile, so when My Memories Suite emailed and asked me to host a giveaway for Amazon's #1 ranked digital scrapbooking software, I jumped at the chance!

I love traditional scrapbooking. I've done several books of my own and some for friends, but having a lot of small children around and a lot of small (expensive) scrapbooking material is a bad combination, especially because I don't have a workroom to close off. Over the past few weeks, I've fallen in love with digital scrapbooking. The Memories Suite has so many options - when I make a digital scrapbook, I can add video, text, embellishments, music, you name it! I started with some of their templates (tons of options!) to save time and learn my way around the program, then I customized them a bit. Plus, you can go online after the initial download and choose from even more layouts, or start from scratch and make your own book. You can even print it! Here are a few pages from one I'm working on, from a recent trip to Chicago with my youngest:

For me, digital scrapbooking does exactly what I need for this stage of my life - it preserves family memories in a fun, creative way, without the hassle and expense of a bunch of equipment and embellishments that my toddler will probably eat at some point.

And - here's the best part! I am allowed to give away one copy of their digital scrapbooking software for FREE!! All you have to do to qualify is:

1) Follow/Friend me via Google Friend Connect or Facebook :)

2) Go to, find a layout or "scrapbooking kit" you like, and leave me a comment with the name of the kit and what kind of subject you'd use it for (i.e. daughter's bday, wedding, etc.). You can do this every day if you want!!

Bonus entry: Follow me on Twitter here (leave me a comment that you did)
Bonus entry: 'Like' MyMemories on Facebook (leave me a comment that you did)

That's it!! I will take entries through next Friday, October 14, and randomly choose and announce the winner on Saturday. (Winner will also be notified via email.)

Do check back on Saturday, because if you don't win, I will be giving out a code that will give you $10 off your digital scrapbook software plus a $10 coupon for additional downloads, that's a great deal!! So enough talk, go to now and check it out yourself!

Sunday, October 2

Field Trips

Everyone knows the best part of school is going on field trips! Between teacher meetings, appointments, and even a couple of planned educational activities, our school year so far has been packed with fun places to go.

The kids loved these carved trees at a nearby park!
Nattie climbing her first tree... stump :)

My kids are enrolled in a virtual online academy that uses the K12 curriculum. It's creative, innovative, challenging and fun. I love that the school organizes (optional) activities and field trips for the kids to do. They also let us know about businesses in our area that offer homeschooling events, such as Six Flags, Legoland, and the local Performing Arts Center. (if you homeschool, these are worth checking out!) We couldn't possibly attend every event, but a few weeks ago we had a great time a school-sponsored park day where the kids got to make their own t-shirts, eat ice cream, and just have fun!

2nd field trip: A nearby library has a huge booksale twice a year. There was an entire wall of kids books at $.25 apiece! Most other books are $.50, which is still a great deal! The kids sat and looked at books for the longest time and each walked out with a bag full. We won't even talk about how many books the mommies bought!! If you've never attended one of these, just google "used book sales in [your area]. You can get some great deals!

Aren't they a studious bunch??

So I'm looking for ideas... whether you homeschool or not, what are some of your favorite field trips for elementary-aged kids?
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