Tuesday, May 19, 2015

My Stay-at-Home Mom Summer Survival Guide





Are you home with your kids this summer and worried about boredom? A recent article making the rounds online argues that kids need more free time and “boredom” in the summer than we’re used to allowing them. I actually agree with the blogger in the article, but I also know that I need to get out of the house regularly, too. I’m an extrovert, and unlike my introverted friend Rachael, I don’t enjoy large amounts of time at home.

During breaks, my kids and I enjoy getting out in either the morning or afternoon and spending at least half of the day out of the house (the rest of the day is “free time,” which keeps things in balance). But if I wake up each morning without a definite plan, then it could take us half the morning to decide what to do, pack up any needed supplies, and get out the door. So much for free time!

A couple of years ago I had a summer teaching job fall through, so we had to watch our pennies. I knew I’d want to get out of the house with the kids, but I also knew that if I didn’t have a good plan, it could get expensive. So I created a Summer Activities sheet that I kept in a binder in the kitchen. I did all of my research and organizing ahead of time so that each day I could just wake up, glance at the binder, and get ready

I plan for two types of activities: 1) activities with a fixed date, such as a special event at our local library, and 2) ongoing activities we can enjoy any time during the summer. I look up any library events, plays, or other one-time activities available during the summer and put them on my Google calendar. It doesn’t mean we “have” to do them, but having them in writing keeps me from forgetting something special and regretting it later.

We love going to the zoo in the summer!
 Image via flickr.com
The “ongoing” activities are the most useful to keep organized. This is where the activity sheet comes in handy. Here’s how to create yours:

1. Click here to download a Word document of my Summer Activities Table.

2. Brainstorm a list of fun things to do in your area. Do you like outdoor activities, like parks, water play, or zoos? Or would you rather go to air-conditioned places like children’s museums or malls? There are a ton of blogs and articles online for “best things to do with kids” in major cities, and many small towns have information on parks and activities on their city websites, too. I live in the St. Louis area, and my favorite go-to sites for free activities are STL Parent and the St. Louis County Library.

3. While searching, keep track of costs, days/hours open, and distance (especially if you’re trying to work around nap schedules!) Record these in your table as you find them.

4. Consider if certain days are better than others for popular events/places. For example, our city zoo is less crowded Mondays-Wednesdays than other days of the week. I discovered that by asking an employee which days are best to visit. If you’re concerned about crowds, then ask your friends or even call ahead of time to find out the best time to visit. Record this in your table.

5. Post your table on the fridge or keep it in a binder where you can easily reach it. Refer to it in the mornings to quickly plan your day.
Summer picnics: fun and cheap.

It takes a little time to set up, but once you have your activities table in place, you don’t need to waste time each day figuring out what to do, how long it takes to get there, how much it costs, or whether or not you can bring food along (since it’s cheaper to pack a picnic than pay for lunch).

Finally, remember to keep things balanced. As much as I love getting out of the house, my kids need free, unstructured time in the summer, too. A good rhythm for us is to get out in the morning, enjoy a picnic lunch, and then come home for a quiet afternoon of free play. Being active does not mean entertaining your kids 24/7. A good balance of structure and free time helps everyone have a fun, organized, and relaxing summer break. 

Elizabeth is a full-time stay-at-home mom, part-time minister, occasional professor, and enjoys traveling and cooking with her family. Contact her by e-mailing her at Elizabeth@mumblingmommy.com. 



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Sunday, May 17, 2015

4 Reasons to Enjoy Your Last Baby the Most



By Katie --

I swore off having more kids after I had two babies and gained two stepchildren in a matter of four years. With four children in the house age five or younger, I was understandably spent when it came to bringing another needy being into my life. Between school schedules for the older ones, a custody schedule for my stepkids, my husband's sometimes-nights/sometimes-weekends work schedule, and the hours I was putting into my own freelance writing and business, the time for the swollen ankles of pregnancy and up-all-nights of a newborn were over. I was done.

Which is why my fifth child Teagan was a surprise baby. Not so much a surprise like those stories you hear about babies being conceived despite vasectomies or tubal procedures, or in a broken condom kind of way. It's never been surprising how she came to be -- but I was shocked regardless, especially since in my own mind I was completely done having kids. I mean, c'mon universe -- couldn't you see that?

Medically speaking, I can now say with certainty that Teagan is my last baby. She turned six months a few weeks ago and as cheesy as it sounds, I caught myself gasping and asking "Where has the time gone??"

She's our family's caboose, the final piece to our puzzle, our "you complete me" kid. And it seems that I'm not the only one who realizes this truth. I've caught my older kids telling Teagan to "not get any bigger" or to "not grow up" because they want her to stay a baby forever.

"You're my last baby sister," said my Kindergartner last week.

I remind the kids (and let's be honest, I remind myself) that Teagan won't be a baby forever, but she will always be all of our baby. She will always be the littlest sister. We can't stop her from getting bigger, but we can sure enjoy the heck out of each day with her and revel in her babyness.

If you are in your final baby stage, too, I want to encourage you to take those extra moments to snuggle with him or her on the couch, even if there are dishes to do. It's okay to just stare at your baby and it's okay to remind that baby that he or she is "perfect" while planting 100 kisses on the top of the head every five minutes. If you are like me and this for-real-this-time last baby was unplanned, count your blessings. You've been given one more chance to have a baby in your home.

Here's a few more reasons that you should kiss, smush, hug, and sniff the daylights out of your last baby every chance you get:


Because they grow so fast.


The worst is when you pull out that adorable baby sundress you've been saving for six months, only to find it barely fits over her burgeoning brain and that her long legs make it look like a shirt. Your favorite baby outfit is worn once and awkwardly. You remember washing that dress and putting it on a little baby hanger seven months prior. You remember looking at it the day you brought her home from the hospital and laughing at how big it was in comparison to her seven-pound body. Suddenly, it seems, that same dress is too small. In the first year of a baby's life, the development is astonishingly fast -- physically and otherwise. You really do have to cherish the moments when you can, because they pass too quickly.

Because you've earned it.


The first baby is inherently stressful. You want to be perfect. You have zero idea what to expect. Your body goes into a form of shock (this is science, people) at the lack of sleep and extreme emotional roller coaster that is postpartum life. You scour parenting messaging boards, looking for the right answers to everything from "is baby acne cancerous?" to "is it bad that my three-month-old isn't talking yet?" In my case, I did the early years of my firstborn's life as a single, working parent. I enjoyed parenting but I didn't take time to ENJOY just having a baby. With my second, the stress of a newly combined family and a high-needs baby sucked a lot of the enjoyment out of the scenario again. This time I was ready. I had dad on hand for the baby hand-off when I really needed a shower. The older kids are old enough to grab a stray diaper here or there, or to bring me a glass of water when I'm nursing a baby who is nearly asleep.

Beyond the extra help, I've let myself just be happy that I have a baby, despite what else is going on. I'm finding it easier to shut off thoughts of work or home responsibilities that have in the past made me want to fly off the couch and set my baby down. Sure, there is still a lot to be done in my typical day but I hold her a lot. I sit still with her. A LOT. I talk with her, snuggle her, and wear her on the front of my body a lot. I'm not always looking for the next opportunity to set her down and almost (almost!) look forward to hearing her fuss when she wakes up from a nap or in the morning. After 7+ years of parenting, and 4+ of stepparenting, I deserve to enjoy this baby -- my last one. I've earned it.


Because the grandparent years are still a long way off.


Though I'm sure those grandparent years will come faster than I realize, once Teagan is no longer a baby it will be a decade+ before we have another little one in our immediate family. My two oldest have already told me they plan to have zero children (though I realize time may change this) and who knows what our others will decide in the long run. In the meantime I can hug and love the babies of relatives and friends but I won't have another one that is MINE for a long time. Well, partially mine. With every hug, I'm trying to memorize the way my baby's body feels in my arms, the way she smells when she's just out of the bath, the way she coos when she's close to mommy. This raw babyness is fleeting and won't be duplicated for many years to come, and even then it will be on a different scale.

Because in the end, the little things will be the big ones.


When I think back to the issues that worried me with my first and second child as babies, and my stepkids as pre-K kids, there aren't many that I can pinpoint anymore. What I remember are trips to the beach, afternoons at local parks, weekends south at Grandpa and Grandma's, and road trips/flights to visit family in Indiana. I know that parenting comes with its own proverbial pair of rose-colored glasses but now that I've gone this route a few times, I know even the longest, hardest days/nights come to an end. 

It's the little, happy moments that you'll remember later -- the sheer joy of a toothless smile, the smell of the top of your baby's head after bath time, the way your older kids huddled around her when they got home from school - each one telling her about their days simultaneously while she awkwardly jerked her neck from one person to the next and moved her mouth as if trying to respond.  If my four older ones are any indication, all of those little moments will go by too quickly and for me, there won't be another baby behind her to duplicate them. So I'm going to enjoy them all -- even the exhausted ones -- because she's my last baby. And I've earned it.

Katie Parsons is a mom of five who also writes for websites and publications worldwide. Before she was a freelance writer, she worked in news media in Chicago, Orlando and Shelbyville, Indiana. Before that, she earned a Creative Writing degree from Ball State University. Katie is writing a memoir about the time when she was single and pregnant. She is also an independent brand partner at Nerium International and shares her love for anti-aging skincare with anyone who will listen.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

And Then She Was Three: Watching My Daughter Grow


We just celebrated my daughter's third birthday. We had a terrific day opening presents from family, blowing out her birthday candles, attending swim lessons, and playing outside. She loved her cake with colorful balloons and recognized her name written in icing on the top. 

She's three!
On the outside, I held it together for her. On the inside, this day rocked me to the core – more so than her other birthdays or my son's birthdays have. While I’m a sentimental person through and through, this day was really different and I haven’t been able to put my finger on the reason why. I wanted to write this to take a moment to reflect on the first few years of her life. Parenthood has really changed me, but for the better.

I used to spend nights awake nursing my baby girl, basking in the night’s silence other than the sound of her quiet sucking, sometimes wishing just for a second that she could sleep through the night. You hear from strangers, “They’ll sleep through the night soon enough,” but “soon enough” didn’t seem soon enough. She didn’t stop waking at six months, or nine months – or even a year. The nights were short, and my sheer exhaustion was an understatement. Will she ever sleep, I wondered? Alas she can now make it through the night by herself. While I can't say I miss waking up with her, I can say that I look back at those exhausted nights and wonder how I did it -- but I know I did it because of my love for her.  

And then she was three.

In her earliest days, I rubbed her baby-fine, dark, soft-as-downy hair and wondered what she would look like once her hair grew out.  I hated when people would say she was almost bald or mistake her for a boy. That thin hair on her round head finally did grow out. Her hair is long, wavy and wild, and she loves it.  She says, “My hair is long and pretty – like yours mommy.”

And then she was three.

Wasn’t she just riding in the Baby Bjorn, needing me to carry her, enjoying hearing my heart beat and snuggling up against me? She evolved from the Bjorn to the stroller and then eventually, the shopping cart. Today we spent the afternoon together for her birthday. She requested we get her a Frozen balloon from the party store. We got there, and I heard the words “I want to walk right by you mommy. I'm a big girl.”

And then she was three.

Gone are the days when mommy was unable to leave the house to even grab the mail during her waking hours—she was a mama’s girl so no one else would do. Separation anxiety is very common among toddlers, but the days of crying and tantrums when I leave have slowly dissipated. As long as I tell her where I am going and when I will be back, she reassures me to go ahead and leave and waves bye-bye and blows me a kiss. She says, “It’s okay, mommy. I’ll see you soon. Love you. Bye.”

And then she was three.
My baby, just a few days old.

I used to wonder what she’d be like when she got older. I couldn’t imagine holding a conversation with her. Now I get to hear her excited voice each and every day telling me she had the best day ever. She tells me that she loves the beach and can’t wait to build sandcastles. She asks me if she can help me water the flowers and wonders, "Can we plant more and watch them grow?" She tells me how much she loves me and that I’m the best mommy ever.

And then she was three.

Gone are the days of a baby who smiles that big, dimpled grin, moves her arms up and down and reaches out to me to let me know that she is happy and wants me to hold her and hug her. Now are the days when she runs up to me and gives me a great big hug and kisses me with those freshly licked, puckered lips. She's always bursting with excitement and has something she can't wait to tell me.

And then she was three.

My daughter’s third birthday means another year of life we were able to spend together and another year to be thankful for. It means that much more laughter and that many more kisses. Instead of thinking about the time that has passed or sadly counting down the months until Kindergarten, I want to live in the moment. I want to really enjoy each and every day and not get caught up in the small stuff. After all, what you do today -- those moments playing kickball in the backyard or drawing pictures that didn’t seem extra special at the time -- will soon become beautiful memories.

After I read to my new three-year-old down and cuddled with her until she fell asleep tonight, I watched her in silence. I kissed her flawless cheeks. I smoothed back her soft, fine hair and I fought back some tears, too. And I realized how many memories we have yet to make and how much more fun is yet to come.


And then she was three.

Lori is a work-at-home mom living in Noblesville, a suburb of Indianapolis. She is mom to two children ages 4 and 3 and enjoys watching them grow. Lori also enjoys taking walks, shopping, spending time with her husband, reading, decorating, photography, and traveling. Leave her a comment below or email her at mumblingmommy@mumblingmommy.com


 
 

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Navigating Music With Kids: "Dad, What's a Booty?"

A guest post by Kyle --

Upon entering parenthood, I discovered that one of the hells I was not prepared for was children’s music. I blame the countless hours of mind-numbing classical music we endured in the hopes that we were creating little geniuses, along with overly enthusiastic renditions of classic ‘Americana,’ and children’s programming themes (I’m looking at you Wonder Pets. There is no need to sing about the damn phone ringing. Just pick it up.). 


For what? For making my wife Sarah and I forget that music was once a major part of our lives. We went to concerts. We blew money on CDs. In high school, I easily had over 40 band bumper stickers on my car, and Sarah loved that car. Hell, I even had Stone Temple Pilots stickers on my car and I could only hum a couple of their tunes. We were music hipsters, finding music before other people, driving to different states to see bands we liked. And now … I am listening to a Chinese duck mispronounce Rs in an adorably yellowface cartoon.
 

We were thrilled when Yo Gabba Gabba introduced us back to the bands we loved, albeit in kid form. And then an idea, a revelation if you will, began forming. What if we exposed the kids to the music we liked? We could turn on the radio instead of the kids’ CDs. Pandora could play what we wanted to hear. Sure, there were rules. Certain songs - okay most songs - needed to be skipped. Any overtly sexual or vulgar songs should be skipped right away. When you start listening for it, you find it. Ben Folds, Elliott Smith, Modest Mouse ... all of them had to be carefully monitored.
 

Then the questions started. Namely, "What is this song about?" We had great experiences …
 

“Give Me Hope, Joanna” by Eddy Grant

This song is about Apartheid. Not too long ago, people in South Africa (which has relevance for our girls as our minister is South African) kept people apart from each other based on the color of their skin. They couldn’t go to the bathroom, go to school or even the same pool as people who didn’t look like them.

The girls were appropriately horrified. They made an interpretive dance. This was probably the high point of our discussions, made very relevant by timing and geography, as we live relatively close to Ferguson, Missouri, and this was around the time of the shooting and subsequent riots.

“Muerdete la Lengua” by Francisca Valenzuela


Our eldest adopted this song as her anthem. For every play "Let It Go" got in our house of three preschool girls, this song got two. I have the iTunes stats to prove it. Unfortunately, it is in Spanish and our Spanish is at Dora levels. I told our eldest that it meant "bite your tongue." I then got to explain what an idiom was and meant. The idea that a collection of seemingly random words could be agreed upon by everyone to mean something was a hard concept, but she definitely learned it here.

“Kate” by Ben Folds Five


The girls loved that the "heroine" of the song was so carefree. Great! “Dad, what’s smokes pot mean?” Crap.

“Anna Sun” by Walk the Moon


They would request the video and watch it often, as college-aged kids danced around a house and in a field. I tried to explain about finding yourself after you are done with school and completely went over their heads. Not a win, but still a catchy song.
 

“Brandy” by Looking Glass

I would sing this song to them when they went to sleep. It originated as my drunken karaoke song in college, but I like to think I’ve gotten better. I like to think that this song introduced them to the idea that sometimes a song, or a movie, or real life, doesn’t end with two people happy and together, or at least cushioned the blow when Hans was revealed to be the bad guy in Frozen.

“I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You” by Colin Hay


Thank you, Garden State Soundtrack. This bedtime stalwart became the hallmark of what love could be defined as. Which is mostly a good thing. “Dad, what’s strong whisky?” And now we skip that verse.
 

Pop music also was fun. The girls love Lady Gaga, based almost entirely on the fact that prior to her discovery, the twins had built a multi-tonal language on the word gaga. And now there was a LADY gaga. Win for everybody. Sure, I had to turn off Beyonce ("Drunk in Love" is pretty much completely inappropriate) and strictly monitor for any surprise Ke$ha or Katy Perry (I don’t care that she sang "Firework." She also sang "California Girls" or the nausea-inducing "I Kissed a Girl," which can teach our girls that their sexual preferences can be open, as long as "my boyfriend don’t mind it." Rant done.) 

I loved Megan Trainor’s "All About That Bass" until my eldest asked me what a booty was. They were familiar with pirate booty. I got to explain that it was also a term for bottom. Then, my eldest asked again, "Why do boys like to hold girls’ booty at night?"

Crap. Maybe we should have stuck with Mozart, "My Darling Clementine" and Ling-Ling the offensive duck. Wish us luck as we continue to navigate music we love.


Kyle is a father of 4 wonderful kids (Claire, 5; Sophia, 3; Grace, 3; and Walter, 6 months), husband to Sarah, and owner of a beagle named Pete. Professionally, Dr. Coble is a professor of marketing at a mid-size private university just outside of St. Louis, where he researches individuals’ willingness to engage with the unfamiliar. This is useful research, as he has been engaging with the unfamiliar on a daily basis since fatherhood began for him. In his spare time he enjoys board games with the girls, dates with his wife, and reading science fiction, fantasy, and history.  

  

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Other posts you may enjoy:

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This post brought to you by Katie Parsons, independent Nerium brand partner. Buy Nerium anti-aging night cream day cream and body cream here. Coming Aug. 1 2015: Nerium EHT brain supplement.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

7 Things Fitness-Loving, Clean-Eating Moms Don’t Want to Hear


Women’s bodies are beautiful. When it comes to what a woman can accomplish, the possibilities are amazing. Women truly are strong, wonderful beings. Women come in all different shapes and sizes. Women have powerful, thoughtful brains and are able to create welcoming, supportive communities to bring each other up.

Body shaming is nothing new. We've all heard of it and many of you have been there. I do not in any way condone it. Body shaming, though, comes in ALL forms. This is women’s downfall. We are constantly obsessed with HER size/shape/lifestyle. 

I recently ran my first half marathon. I've been running since my twin girls were just 5 months old. (They will be 4 years old in December.) Our family eats very clean whenever possible, including lots of whole grains and organic and local produce and meats. We make many of our own treats and meals over store- or restaurant-bought options. I am not overweight, so what the heck do I know about body shaming, right? Wrong!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Lessons from Grandma

My grandparents, shortly before they were married. 
(Love the matching sweaters!)
By Elizabeth --

My grandmother passed away a month ago today, and I miss her terribly. This will be a bittersweet Mother’s Day for our family.

Grandma and I were very close, and I would not be the person I am today without her love, support, and gentle guidance. I’ve been thinking constantly about the things she taught me, by word and example. I’d like to share the five most important lessons my Grandma taught me. These are lessons that can make anyone’s life better, but especially for us moms.

1. Be comfortable in your skin.

My grandmother was tall and large-boned in an era when women’s clothes were all designed for an average-to-petite body size. In the 1950s and 1960s, she frequently made her own clothes or had clothes altered to fit well. But unlike many women in her generation (and younger), she didn’t agonize over her size. She was not one of those women who constantly diets or complains about weight. She was comfortable in her own skin, and she dressed well.

When I was a teenager, she counseled me about body image. She told me that when she was a teen, she was embarrassed by her body’s changes and tried to hide her curves. (Especially in her day, if a girl “bloomed” early, people assumed she was sexually active early, too.) She told me that contrary to what she had thought in her youth, a woman’s body is nothing to be ashamed of. She told me, “Stand tall. Have good posture and don’t slouch or wear baggy clothes to hide your shape. You’re beautiful, and you have nothing to be ashamed of.” That’s a lesson I still need to hear from time to time! 

Clockwise from top: my dad, my mom, me,
Grandma, Grandpa

2. Never stop learning.

Both of my great-grandparents were schoolteachers, so my grandmother learned to value education at an early age. Her own mother went back to school for a Master’s in Education in the 1940s  -- an era when advanced degrees for high school teachers were rare, and even rarer for women. My grandmother was the valedictorian of her high school class, obtained her degree (in education) and prided herself on how much she read and how many “facts” she could remember.
Grandma never thought that a woman had to choose between intelligence and femininity. She never “played dumb” in front of men or believed that women should only go to college to meet a future husband (a common assumption when she was a young woman.) In her generation, these ideas were fairly radical.

Many of our best conversations were about books, and we frequently recommended titles to each other. In her later years, she lost much of her vision, and reading became harder and harder for her. She still loved to hear about new ideas and would often ask me about my own reading or teaching or studying. She passed on her thirst for knowledge to her children and grandchildren, and I hope to pass it on to my children, too.

3. Be generous with your creativity.

Grandma loved to cook, sew, play the piano, and china paint. But she almost always did these things for other people. We went to Colorado each Christmas to visit my grandparents, and I could count on many homemade cookies and special meals. When my mother was growing up, everyone, even the kids, came home each day from school or work for lunch. So she prepared three hot meals each day for the whole family -- no cold cereal or Lunchables or take-out. And I think I’m doing well to just make supper most evenings!

She also made me new dresses every Christmas and Easter (which I had little appreciation for), from birth to my teens. She made almost all of the clothing my mother wore growing up, too. She was an accomplished pianist and played for her church, which was a form of service for her. After her children were grown, Grandma learned to china paint. She made beautiful pieces, but she gave away most of it to friends or family.

Like Grandma, I enjoy being creative. I love to cook, I enjoy embroidery, and of course, I write. What I learned from her is that creativity is best when it’s used to make other people happy, too. I also learned to pursue excellence at all times, even in hobbies, and that no craft or project is too large or too complex when you’re doing it for someone you love.

4. Savor guilty pleasures.

My grandmother was a strict Southern Baptist, so she never drank (or danced). She still had her guilty pleasures, though. She loved sweets, especially chocolate. I often make special desserts for family gatherings, and I always looked forward to her reaction. I could count on her savoring, analyzing, and discussing every cake or pie that I created. And even when something went wrong, she acted as if it was perfect, or blamed something outside of my control (“They just don’t make baking powder like they used to, honey. It’s not your fault the cake was flat.”) 

She also loved bubble baths, expensive sheets, and daily naps. She didn’t apologize for taking time off for herself and didn't think that a woman should be all things to all people, all of the time. In our work-obsessed culture, we need to remember to stop and take care of ourselves

5. Have faith (but still think for yourself).

Christianity is a major part of my family heritage, but we don’t all agree on the details. I was raised Southern Baptist with a couple of non-denominational detours along the way. In high school and college, I went through a long period of doubt before embracing my faith in the United Methodist Church. Considering that my grandparents met at a Baptist college, and my parents met at a Baptist Student Union, jumping ship to another (and especially more liberal) denomination was a Big Deal.

After the initial shock, my grandparents respected my decision and even attended church with me at Christmas and Easter. Grandma taught Sunday School for many years, and I lead a women’s Bible study at my church. We often talked in-depth about theology and social/ political issues, such as women’s role in the church (Southern Baptists usually won’t ordain women, whereas the majority of UMC clergy are women.)  Frequently we agreed to disagree, but it didn’t hurt our relationship.

My grandparents in 2010, celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.
My grandma was more interested in me being able to think critically about my faith than in agreeing with her on every point. She wanted me to be educated, analytical, and not be afraid to question authority in the church. I’ll never forget a memorable argument she had (in my hearing) with a former pastor about whether women could teach in the church. She said, “So you’re telling me that a woman’s job in the church is to either cook or watch little children? Well, I’m tired of cooking, and I don’t like little children!” He was so shocked by this 70-something, dignified woman calling him out that he couldn’t even answer. Of course, I was incredibly proud.

(L-R): Mom, Grandma, my mother-in-law,
my dad, and my two boys at my sister in-law's wedding in 2014.
I miss my grandmother, but I can honor her memory by living my life in such a way that would make her proud and by sharing her lessons with my children. On this Mother's Day, I will grieve her loss but be grateful for her presence in my life.

Elizabeth is a full-time stay-at-home mom, part-time minister, occasional professor, and enjoys traveling and cooking with her family. Contact her by e-mailing her at Elizabeth@mumblingmommy.com. 

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