Nov 27

Our Top Picks: Holiday Gift Guide from Raising Soldiers 4 Christ

Black Friday

We love the Holidays. Christmas is such a special time for us. Several years ago we made the decision to be more purposeful about the gifts we give our kids for Christmas. So I am  excited to share with you the very first Christmas gift guide here at Raising Soldiers 4 Christ! The gifts are not in a certain order.  We loved many things about them all. :) Consider clicking through the links for small business owners like bloggers this Christmas season. Using our affiliate links helps keep the website going. Thank you!

1.  Lilla Rose:

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LR-Black FRiday-3

Lilla Rose is a wonderful gift for little girls, young ladies, teens, and adults.  I love all my Lilla Rose products! You cannot go wrong with a flex clip or headband! They fit all ranges of hair from fine to thick. Also, if your hair is super short and you think you cannot wear them, you can! They make wonderful scarf clips!

2.  Young Living Essential Oils:

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This is a gift for the whole family! From babies, kids, teens, to adults! There is really an oil for just about everything! I would love to help you be able to pick out more what your family could use! Frankincense is one of the gifts that was brought to Jesus by the wise men. Young Living has it as an oil! Young Loving Oils make a great stand alone gift, stocking stuffer, and we also have gift sets!

3. Amazon:

Check out the Amazon gift guide! There are a ton of gifts from Legos, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Magnablocks, etc. Click the link above and check them out!

Amazon also has KINDLE’s on Sale!!! HURRY this sale is only for a few days!!!

Books for Young Readers:

Camera Deals!!! HURRY on this one too! It ends the 28th!!!

Need a Dyson? We LOVE ours! Now is the time to get one! Check out this sale!!!

Powermatic Product Sale!!!

BLACK Friday TOY Sale!!!

MORE Black Friday Savings!!! NO lines, NO waiting, have it shipped right to your door!!!

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Instant Video Sale!!!

4. Family Christian Bookstore:


Family Christian: When you shop, you give:  100% of our profits are donated to Christian Charities

I hope you have enjoyed 2014 Top Christmas picks and maybe it helped you find something for your little ones!

In Christ,

Laura

 

 

 

 

The post Our Top Picks: Holiday Gift Guide from Raising Soldiers 4 Christ appeared first on Raising Soldiers 4 Christ.

Nov 27

Words of Thanks on Thanksgiving

For me, the fourth Thursday in November is a pretty ...

Nov 27

The Season of Thankfulness

With the aroma of a turkey cooking, pies being made and the promise of a parade with big giant balloons, we gather together with friends and family to give thanks. It is a time that we all look back and reflect on the good things we had happen to us and the people that helped us along the way.

For a lot of us out there, we have so many people who have helped us out on our journey. The people who have been there through the toughest of times. Or the ones who go out of their way to make sure you are ok. These are the people who take the time to remember the littlest of things, knowing that those things will make your life run a little smoother. They are the ones that should us that the human race isn't full of mean spirited people. That acts of kindness still happen. I am thankful for those people.

Most of us have people that have a profound impact on our lives. The people who have made a difference with either your live or the lives of the people you love and hold dear. They are the teachers that have gone out of their way to make sure your child has confidence in themselves or the ones who will fight to get you something your child desperately needs in order to grow. They are the aides and therapists who love doing their job and are there to keep either you or your loved ones on track.  They are the Doctors that don't see you or your child as just another number. Who will do their professional job to make sure you and your loved ones remain healthy and taken care of. I am thankful those people.

Family and Friends will always have my gratitude, not just on Thanksgiving, but all year round. These are the people, who, when you are having a tough go at things, will be there to lend an ear and a should to cry on. They are the people that will travel across a country or even half across a country just to make sure you have family during the holidays when your spouse is deployed or not there. They are the people who will be there to help you pick up the pieces when it seems the world is crumbling down around you. Your friends will be there with a good bottle of wine and laughter just to see a smile. Friends are like your extended family. And good friends are the ones who know you best as they are the ones you trust when you need someone to cheer you on. They are the people who don't give up on you when you are at your worst. They are also the people who will support you. Whether it be your online community or you close inner circle, they will be there to share a laugh and tears. I am thankful for those people.

Finally, its the people who challenge us. The ones who test our strength and resolve. I know what you are thinking. Why would you be thankful for those people. Well, its those people who show us everyday just how good we do have it. That we are happy and not miserable. That we are not ignorant, but open minded. That we are good people. They are the reminder that life can still keep us on our toes, but despite their insecurities, you are grounded  in the type of person you are. You believe in what you want to believe in. You fight for what you want to fight for. But you can walk away from these challenging people, with your head held high being thankful that you are a good person.

This Thanksgiving be thankful for yourself. Look back on the year, reflect on all the good things you have done. Whether it be getting through difficult IEP meetings where you fought hard for your children or advocating for them when things weren't what you though. or getting through a difficult time in your life. Be thankful that you are person worthy to be here.

I wish everyone a safe Holiday. May it be filled with Love, Laughter and Warmth. Happy Thanksgiving!








Nov 27

Keeping CHRIST in CHRISTmas: Lessons from a Shopaholic

Keeping Christ in CHRISTmasShopping-2

Hi! My name is Laura and I am a shopaholic.  I love to shop.

By all accounts, the argument could be made that I am a “fashion” blogger of sorts.  Think about it.  I post a different outfit almost every Monday, not to mention the random pictures you occasionally see on my social media sites.  Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy offering options and examples on dressing modestly.  Have I mentioned I love to shop?

If you are unfamiliar with my path to modesty or just want a refresher, you can read it HERE, HERE and HERE.  In sharing my path, I briefly described Bookworm’s (my oldest son) first Christmas.  Looking back, I think I wanted to make up for everything he was lacking.  How does a shopaholic give their child everything?  Shopping, of course!  So I bought him EVERYTHING.  He hadn’t turned one year old yet and he had every toy you can imagine!

Andrew's first Christmas

In addition to the gifts from this shopaholic, he also received gifts from his grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and many of my friends.  It took half the day to unwrap everything.  I would like to tell you how many rolls of wrapping paper and tape it took to wrap these gifts, but I don’t remember.  I can tell you that it took A LOT!  Again, I was making up for what he was lacking.

Before I continue, allow me to explain exactly what I thought Bookworm was lacking.  I had him before Clay and I ever met.  I won’t get into the detail surrounding my pregnancy or the aftermath, but a father was someone Bookworm did not have.  I guess I was trying to make up for the lack of a Daddy with gifts, gifts and more gifts.

Exactly one month after Christmas is Bookworm’s birthday.  Want to take a guess what that means?  More shopping!   Come to think of it, I never had to look hard to find a reason to shop so much.  If it wasn’t Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, or special occasions, it was easy to find an excuse.

A little over a month before Bookworm turned two, Clay and I were married.  I was still living in my hometown and he was in Ohio on recruiting duty until all the paperwork was processed and he found a place to live for all of us.  When he came down to celebrate Christmas with me and Bookworm, he was in utter disbelief when he saw the amount of gifts Bookworm had around the tree.  He and my dad spent hours assembling toys, a train table and train tracks.  If you owned stock in the Thomas the Train company during this time, you can thank me for your hefty dividend.  Getting back to Clay, I didn’t understand why he was uncomfortable with the amount of gifts for Bookworm.  He also didn’t understand why I was comfortable with the gifts.  I am a shopaholic and he just needs to accept that.  He vowed to love me for better or worse and that included my addiction to shopping. Right? RIIIGHT?

Christmas 2013

The following year, Bookworm had probably the same amount of gifts as the previous year, but this time I was also pregnant with TurtleBoy.  Anyone want to take a guess what that meant?  More shopping!  I had to make sure TurtleBoy had gifts, too.  Besides, as a shopaholic, I really didn’t mind.  I had another excuse to feed my addiction.  So, I continued to shop, shop, shop and shop for Christmas.  Bookworm would get so much stuff that he really didn’t care about a lot of it.  He would rip it open, toss it to the side, and move on to the next package.  By this point, a sane person would assume the light bulb would finally light up and I would finally realize my addiction was ruining his respect for his belongings and also getting carried away with my shopaholic addiction.  But it didn’t.  For whatever reason, I felt like this was important.  I just couldn’t miss a gift he MAY want.

A couple of years later, Clay’s family came to our house for Christmas.  Bookworm was four, TurtleBoy was one and I was pregnant with Nemo.  Another reason to shop until I drop.  I had bought so many gifts that we could not see the Christmas tree.  The gifts surrounded the tree and were stacked incredibly high.  I could see my Mother-in-law’s face as she looked at all the “stuff.”  I didn’t have to look at my husband to see how uncomfortable he was; I could feel it.  As I think back on this Christmas, I can see now how inadequate they may have thought their gifts were.  They bought nice gifts and they really did try to buy things the boys would like.  But how can anyone compete with the amount of toys already purchased?  I can not blame them for the awkwardness my shopaholic lifestyle caused.

Before and after every Christmas, Clay would talk to me and share how uncomfortable he was with the amount of money we were spending on gifts for the kids.  However, this particular Christmas, he seemed more stern than years past.  I could see that he was not budging on this anymore.  He wanted to cut the gifts and the spending down; WAY down.  I felt the anxiety take control of my body.  It began in the pit of my stomach and I could feel my knees begin to buckle.  Why did the thought of not giving my kids everything they could possibly want freak me out so bad?  It was almost like grieving the loss of something.  I had absolutely NO idea how to cut down.  I didn’t know where to start.

So what did I do?

I cried.  I got upset.  I worried about it.  I stewed.  I wondered how I could buy stuff and him not realize it was as much.  Maybe I could combine gifts and tell him they are all part of larger sets.  There had to be a way to manipulate the situation to get what I wanted!  All very Christ-like behaviors wouldn’t you say?  However, these horrible thoughts and behaviors were how I felt.

Shortly after listening to Clay ruin my future shopping plans, I started reading a book.  I enjoyed the first couple chapters of this book so much that I became angry and tossed it across the room.  I wanted no part of this propaganda and refused to read another word!  What made me so angry about this book?  Because it told me BIBLICALLY why I should listen to my husband about Christmas.  Well, technically, the book wasn’t about Christmas, per se.  It was about being a HelpMeet.  God said that it was not good for man to be alone SO He Created a Helpmeet for him.  I was there to be a helper to my husband.  Wait just a minute!   There has to be an exception to Christmas, yes?  Right?  Isn’t there?

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives. 1 Peter 3:1 

Scroll back up and read that verse again.  I will wait…….

I had to read that verse more than once myself.  Isn’t there supposed to be a disclosure or exception for Christmas shopping?  BAM!!!  Then it hit me.  What is the meaning of Christmas?

Listen, I have attended church my entire life.  I have sung and acted (dressed like a lamb is still acting…lol) in numerous Christmas plays throughout the years.  I have read, listened to and shared Christmas Story more times than I can count.  I know that CHRISTmas is about Christ.  Although my parents tried their best to always give us a good Christmas, my mom kept Christ as the focus.  My brother and I received gifts, but my mom made sure the focus wasn’t on the gifts.

When I was a little, banks used to have a special savings program designed specifically for Christmas (not sure if all banks had this program, but my mom’s bank did).  Every month, she would deposit what she could afford to ensure my brother and I had presents under the tree.  Needless to say, I didn’t use a Christmas account at our bank.  In fact, I didn’t use any type of account.  Instead, I just bought and bought and bought.  I didn’t care because my kids would have what I thought they needed to have.  I spent way too much on material items.  Somehow, in my path to be the perfect mother who gave her child everything (lol—NO that did NOT even make me close to the perfect mother!) I lost the importance of Christmas.  I discarded the reason for the season.

Listen below:

CHRISTmas isn’t about the plethora of gifts, the fluff and all the over commercialized drama.  Christmas is about Christ because without the birth of Christ there is no CHRISTmas.  It was time for me to redirect my focus.  I began by reading 1 Peter 3:1.  Then I read the second chapter of Luke.  Then I returned to 1 Peter 3:1.  Finally, I swallowed my pride, dusted off Created to be a Helpmeet, and finished reading it.  **Disclosure-I know the Pearls can be controversial. I don’t agree with all their practices but I did agree with this book and how it helped my marriage at the time.**  I am happy to report that I did not throw the book across the room this time.  Instead, I read it with an open heart and a desire to refocus my attitude toward 1 Peter 3:1.  Deep down, I think I was also ready for change.  However, that change did not come easily.  The words of my husband were echoing in my ear as the words of Peter were running through my mind.  I was steadfast in prayer seeking God’s message, reading scriptures, allowing the Holy Spirit to have its way with me before I laid my pride and my personal desires to the side.  It was a hard road to travel.  Then it was time to really swallow my pride.  I went to Clay and I apologized.  I apologized for not seeing what he was seeing; I apologized for not being on the same page as him with the gifts and spending; I apologized for not seeking his guidance as the spiritual leader of our family; I apologized for not respecting him as the head of the house.  I also vowed to make some big changes next Christmas.

It was time to make good on my promise.  When Christmas came around I struggled!  Maybe I should have taken baby steps and promised to cut down in increments of $10 or $20.  It was not easy for me to cut back.  I am a shopaholic, alone in the store, my mind wandering from one toy to the next, trying to talk myself into keeping with my promise while grabbing everything in sight.  I kept thinking of more items the boys would like.  I tried to stretch the decision we had made.  In the end, I fell short.  However, I made a huge stride in the right direction.  This Christmas was noticeably different from years past.  Clay even noticed and commended me on my efforts.  I continued submerging myself in the Word of God.  Along with the Advent studies and Christmas books we would read as a family, I continued with my own studies and devotions.  Keeping CHRIST at the CENTER was a HUGE changing point.  He as always been at the center for our family, just slightly off-center during the Christmas season! :)  The second year of us cutting back I did an even better job.  Each year after I have made significant improvements with my promise to my husband.

I believe last year was the best year gift wise.  The boys did receive a lot of gifts.  Originally, when we decided (well, when I finally agreed that is) to cut back, the original plan was to buy the boys three gifts each.  We were also more involved in certain outreach ministries.  We were engaged in many activities at our church, we participated in several activities in the community and we put more focus on giving to others.  We made cookies for the neighbors and opened our doors again to Soldiers to come and share the HOLYday with us.  We put a concentrated focus on being the hands and feet of Jesus.

Christmas Town

Homeschooling is a pivotal point for my family in keeping Christ in Christmas.  Each year I piece together a Christmas Around the World study from materials I already have.  Along with our Advent study, we also studied the Jewish traditions by reading a fantastic book called A Family Guide to Biblical Holidays, lighting a menorah and playing dreidel.  We want our boys to know the traditions of the time when Jesus was born but also more rounded in their knowledge as well.  During the Advent season, instead of counting down to Santa (we don’t do Santa) we count down to Jesus’ Birthday Celebration.  Whereas in years past, gifts were the center of our celebration.  Our renewed focus is on Faith, Family, Church, Service, and Food before gifts.

Christmas with Andrew

So how did I make the switch? Here are some tips

  1. Talk to your husband.  Be ready to hear an answer to your questions you probably don’t want to hear.  Seriously ladies, speak heart to heart with him and come up with a plan.  You need to be in agreement with how much money is spent and how many gifts are bought.  Clay wasn’t as concerned about the dollar amount as he was the amount of gifts.  I’m not saying he was comfortable spending our life savings, but he was comfortable with a set dollar amount.  We did set a limit to ONLY three gifts.
  2. Allow your husbands to have the final say.  Ladies, I could have avoided some uncomfortable moments if I would have submitted to my husband’s desires and feelings early on in our marriage.  I know, believe me I know, how incredibly difficult it is to submit and allow someone else to have control.  Trust me though, you will be blessed by it
  3. STOP–JUST STOP spoiling your kids!  I say this more so to myself than anyone else.  Kids do not need every single toy or game that they ask for.  Reality is that we must save and plan before making purchases.  Some things that we want and yearn for is simply out of reach and out of our budget constraints.  We can not win our kids over with “stuff” so stop trying.  Kids need to learn that Christmas is NOT about them, although commercials and advertisements will tell them otherwise.  Christmas is about Jesus.  Whether you decide to do a 3-gift Christmas or a 4-gift Christmas (something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read), set a limit.  This is for your own good as a parent but it is also for your kids own good as well.  Teach them the importance of the season, but also teach them the importance of budgeting.  It’s okay to purchase them a big gift.  Teach them the importance of prioritizing their desires based on what can be afforded.
  4. Kids will not die by missing out on that gift.
  5. Remember, if you spoil now, your child will expect bigger and more expensive as they grow up.  Unfortunately, gifts get a lot more expensive as their interests change.
  6. Focus on service.  Find some activities that you can do as a family to serve the community during Christmas.  Be the hands and feet of Jesus.  Ideas for this are baking cookies for a neighbor, serving in a soup kitchen, making goodie bags for the homeless, going to the Veterans home and visiting with them, taking food and candy to sick and shut ins, gifts for orphanages, serving at a food pantry, and the list goes on.  Pick a needy family to adopt and making their Christmas bright!  Take them food and gifts.

Those are some ways that we cut back.  We LOVE Christmas.  We love the lights, the sounds, the decorations and the season. However, we love it much more with less.  Giving to others warms my heart.  Teaching my kids to give to others warms my heart. I am still a shopaholic, but now I’m a shopaholic with a renewed focus and a sense of purpose.  Instead of shopping with a blank sheet of paper, I prioritize my kids’ interests and put more thought into bringing Christ as our focal point.  I take a lot of effort to pick things they REALLY like and want.  Ultimately, they receive less gifts, but the gifts they receive are no longer chucked to the wayside.  Instead, they play with these gifts for years.

I have one more tip for keeping CHRIST in CHRISTmas.  SHOP early!  I have learned through shopping earlier the season is much more enjoyable.  You can get better deals, avoid the crazy crowds, avoid the long lines and can focus on your list.  As I write this I am completely finished with my Christmas list and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.  As December rolls around, we are completely focused on the reason for the season.  We put our emphasis and focus in Christ, our Advent studies, our Christmas Around the World studies and our service to others without all the distractions.

Happy Birthday Jesus

Happy Birthday Jesus-2

Hi! My name is Laura and I’m a shopaholic with a renewed focus!

How do you keep the amount of gifts down at your house? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

If you want to read more of my Christmas posts, click HERE.

In Christ,

Laura

The post Keeping CHRIST in CHRISTmas: Lessons from a Shopaholic appeared first on Raising Soldiers 4 Christ.

Nov 26

Being Thankful Despite the Hard Days

It’s the night before Thanksgiving, the kids are in bed and I am left with wondering. Wondering how I can put into words how I am feeling, and wondering how I can be so thankful and yet struggle so much with a heart of thanksgiving.

It’s been a rough year for my family. My daughter has been hospitalized seven times so far this year and as I look at everything around me, it’s hard for me to not feel so very lonely.

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hitdelight | Dollar Photo Club

I see the kid’s toys all over the floor, the smooshed cheerios in the carpet, and the crumbs that are still there despite what seems like constant vacuuming. I see the stains all over the rug where my daughter’s feeding tube formula spilled and from when she decided it would be fun to yank her extension loose.

I see multiple dirty plates from my son who currently is using two “special plates” on his current feeding regimen. He goes through so many I can barely keep up. I see the food I’ve not had time to put away, and my daughter’s medicines and feeding tube supplies spread out all over the kitchen.

There are multiple shoes and socks thrown off all over the house, dirty clothes that haven’t been washed in days, and boxes that have yet to be unopened from our move this past August. Discouragement fills me, as I see the formula stains on the wall of my daughter’s room – signs of feeding tube troubles and mishaps, and when I look at myself in the mirror I can’t remember the last time I have showered or even eaten a good meal that wasn’t fast food.

There’s the preparation of Turkey and other foods that need to be cooked looming over my head, and the loneliness of friends and family far away. I’ve been running on little sleep due to my daughter’s current fever, and her infection – partly due to her sleeplessness, and partly due to my anxiety-ridden state. The thought passes that I might feel worse than she does, but I know that’s not true.

Inspite of it all, inspite of all the things that have me down and have me wondering how I can make it just one more day, I am still seeing the small things. And those small things are the very things that make me the most thankful. Amid all the messiness of my home and my heart, God has still shown me that He is here and there is more than plenty to be thankful for. And I am thankful.

I’m thankful that I have two beautiful, loving kids that are here to make messes and to smoosh cheerios in my carpet despite all the vacuuming I do. I am thankful for the feeding tube that gives my daughter life and helps her to contiue to gain weight. I am thankful for medicine that will hopefully help her feel better and that can take away her symotoms and the pain.

I’m thankful for shoes inspite of never being able to find them when it’s time, and for the clothes we all have even though I tend to see just how much weight it takes to not fit into them. I’m thankful for the stains on the wall that remind me that things could be worse and for the reminder that my daughter is currently home and not at the hospital and that she is smiling at me.

I am thankful for the money that somehow is somehow always there to buy us food and to keep our water running. I am thankful for my mother’s intuition that knows just what my baby needs and that I can be there for her no matter what. I am thankful for the bed that I have and that despite many sleepless nights I can rest on it and pray.

I am thankful that I have my family, my husband, and my two kids and while many friends have moved away, and while in-between churches we have not had many people to celebrate with, I am thankful for the several people that have reached out to us and reminded me that they cared.

I am thankful for the dinner that was donated to us – a full Thanksgiving dinner that I will make tomorrow. I was shocked upon seeing how much we were given and so very thankful that once again God had us in mind. HIs thoughtfulness and kindness is beyond measure and His love amazes me every day.

Some days it’s hard to be thankful, but even on those days there’s always something to be thankful for. And this Thanksgiving that’s what I’m so thankful for.

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” - Psalm 106:1


“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” – Psalm 106:1
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The post Being Thankful Despite the Hard Days appeared first on Singing through the Rain.

Nov 26

Valentia Even Glow Serum Review

Now, I’m not really a girly girl. Sure, I like picking out clothes, and shopping for clothes… but beauty stuff? Not really my thing. 90% of my outfit posts feature me with a bare face. And I’m totally cool with this; no regrets. However, as I get older (gag) I’ve noticed that it’s not quite so easy to get away with my no makeup look as it used to be. On the days I’m tired, I look dead…and that is most days. Blech.

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So when I was contacted by Valentia Skin Care about adding an easy step to my skincare routine, my initial response (to myself) was “Hahaha, what skincare routine?” The most I normally do is put lotion on my face after a shower. But, with its promises of anti-aging via repairing, refreshing, and renewing my skin, I figured I could give it a shot. I used their antioxidant treatment for two weeks, and was fairly pleased with the results.

It was easy to use too; I just slathered it on, waited for it to dry, and then put my regular lotion on. The hardest part was remembering to do it every day, and that’s just me being lazy.

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First thing I noticed, probably about a week after using the Vitamin C serum was that my skin looked healthier. It looked as though I got all the sleep I needed, and drank all the water I was supposed to. Even when I was feeling like I was on my deathbed when my cold was at its worst, I didn’t look as bad as I felt I should have. The above pictures don’t give the best picture of the results, but I honestly think that if I keep using it, the results will be more dramatic. My skin tone is definitely more even, and my skin is so soft after I use it!

It claims that it reduces fine lines and wrinkles, and for that, I’m not quite sold. SUPER fine lines/emerging wrinkles, yes. I would say that for sure. I’m starting to get some fine lines around my smile lines, and those disappeared once I started using the serum. But all those well established wrinkles on my forehead? Still as deep. Crows feet or whatever by my eyes when I smile? Still squawking. So, I’d give this a 60% in the “reduces wrinkles and fine lines” department. I have heard that it can take up to four weeks for full results, so maybe I just need to keep using it. Other than that though, I’d highly recommend this. It smells really good too; like oranges!

End rating: 4 out of 5 hearts
Overall, I think this is a good product. I think a pretty good value too. Over the course of the two weeks, I used maybe 1/5 of the little bottle. Anti-aging stuff is crazy expensive, so for $35 per bottle, it’s pretty economical. I had to knock it down a heart though, because I didn’t really see any difference in the few wrinkles that I have. Maybe that’s a good thing though? That I don’t have enough wrinkles for it to work? Let’s look at it like that. I will say that this stuff will continue to let me walk around looking ok while not wearing makeup, so ultimately, it wins.

This post was sponsored by Valentia Skin Care. I was given this serum in exchange for this blog post and a review on Amazon.com.
All opinions are my own.

Nov 25

Away for the Weekend

Thursday night I laid out all the gear for three days, two nights away. That is three outfits for the big kids, 5 for the littles.  Also two guinea pigs and all their gear and 1 dog. My Mother-in-love is … Continue reading

Nov 24

Small Talk {Review and Giveaway}

Small Talk

Amazon Says:

Almost every day, one of Amy Julia’s children says something or asks something that prompts her to think more carefully:  “What ‘lasting’ mean?”  William wonders when he hears a song about God being an everlasting God.  “If the children who died went to heaven, then why are we sad,” Penny asks, when she passes by a funeral for a victim of the Sandy Hook shootings.  “I don’t wanna’ get ‘tized!” says Marilee about baptism.  These conversations deepen her relationships with her children, but they also deepen and refine her own understanding of what she believes, why she believes it, and what she hopes to pass along to the next generation.

Small Talk is a narrative based upon these conversations.  It is not a parenting guide.  It does not offer prescriptive lessons about how to talk with children.  Rather, it tells stories based upon the questions and statements Amy Julia’s children have made about the things that make life good (such as love, kindness, beauty, laughter, and friendship), the things that make life hard (such as death, failure, and tragedy), and what we believe (such as prayer, God, and miracles).

Amy Julia moves in rough chronological order through the basic questions her kids asked when they were very young  to the more intellectual and spiritual questions of later childhood.  Small Talk invites other parents into these same conversations, with their children, with God, and with themselves.  Moving from humorous exchanges to profound questions to heart-wrenching moments, Amy Julia encourages parents to ask themselves—and to talk with their children about—what matters most.

My thoughts:

As a parent, I believe we are put here to teach our children.  Sometimes, however, that role is reversed and it’s my children who teach me.  Everyday I am reminded how much of a blessing my children are to me.  In Chapter 1, the author, Amy, was describing to Penny, her daughter, about the day she was born.  After she finishes the birth story, well what we thought was the end, she admits to Penny that she was scared after her daughter was born.  Why was she scared?  Because Penny was born with Down Syndrome.  Penny’s mother was haunted by thoughts of hopelessness because her daughter was not an average child; she was not the child parents pray for – “It doesn’t matter if my child is a boy or a girl, just as long as he/she is healthy.”  She was worried and terrified of raising a child with Down Syndrome and how this disorder would negatively affect her daughter’s life.  She was left with the question of how Down Syndrome would hurt Penny.  However, she goes on and tells Penny that Down Syndrome didn’t hurt her.  It didn’t hurt them.  “We are so happy, every day, to have you in our lives.”

WOW!  I want to stop there for a moment.  For those who have read about our family or who have followed me for a while, you know that my oldest has Aspergers.  You also know we have an alphabet soup of all the “DDs” (Development and/or Deficit Disorders) that you can imagine.  My oldest is diagnosed with Aspergers, ADHD and ODD.  My middle son is diagnosed with ADHD, SPD and has had his share of hearing and digestive track issues.  My youngest had a stroke in utero and we spent the first weeks of his life in the hospital or driving back and forth from the hospital.  While my two older sons have been a struggle at times, my youngest brought the most worry to my husband and me.  We knew immediately after birth something wasn’t right, whereas my other two sons took a couple of years for the diagnosis to surface.  The weeks following my youngest son’s birth was difficult, traumatic, emotionally and mentally and physically draining.  Although we knew something was wrong, it took the medical staff weeks to figure out what was wrong.  He was born at a poultry 9 lbs 7 oz and dropped below 7 lbs within the first 2 weeks of his life.  We were so happy to have this baby boy, yet we were scared that he wouldn’t survive.  If he did survive, we were scared not knowing the effects his stroke had on his life.  Reading Small Talk mentally thrust me back into my emotional roller coaster, back to the beginning of all of those “diagnosis” moments, back to the time when I felt my being yanked out and not knowing the how and why.  Reading this transported me back to the feelings of hopelessness as I felt the dreams of what I had envisioned for my boys being crushed because of their disorders.

In Chapter 2, Amy talks about things she has done or hasn’t done that she views as failures.  For example, forgetting about a party at Penny’s school.  Yet, while Penny was disappointed that her mom forgot about the party, she just brushed it off as an oversight.  Penny also wanted to take tennis lessons.  Although many people would think this was an unnecessary expense and ultimately a waste of money because of Penny’s limitations, Amy thought otherwise.  Each tennis lesson increased her confidence and I’m not talking about Penny’s confidence, but Amy’s confidence in Penny.  Instead of getting discouraged, Penny remained positive at each lesson and found something to praise God about. ” I hit the ball!” “I was a good listener!” “I did a great job!”  As Amy looks back at her list of failures, she sometimes wished that she couldn’t have a bit of her daughter’s positive attitude.  This reminds me of my oldest.  Bookworm is much the same as Penny.  Blessed with athletic abilities he was NOT.  However, he has proven to me over and again to not underestimate his gumption and positive attitude.  One year he wanted to play soccer.  I admit I missed many sign up deadlines because I was nervous for him.  I was scared to let him fail.  Sigh.  Then one year there was a church led soccer camp and he begged to go.  How can I say no to church activities like that?  He was faithful to get up each morning ready to go in his shiny new soccer cleats.  He had a blast!  The last day of camp there was a game.  I was excited to watch him play!  Each day he had come home from camp with a lesson learned and positive attitude.  He absolutely loved the sport.  During his game on that last day I was humbled as I watched him go back and forth across the field.  His love for the game, his sheer happiness touched my soul deep down!  He was pretty good at playing I found out, too.  That boy who constantly tripped over his own feet with nothing around, proved to his mom that he could be like Penny – strong, competitive, and positive.

I encourage you to grab a copy of Small Talk and read it.  You will be blessed by Amy’s wonderful story.  I really enjoyed it! There were a couple of small parts that I feel I need to point out to my readers though.  I know many of you are not okay with Santa. There is a chapter in here addressing Santa and I didn’t agree with her take on it.  However, it did not affect the heart of the story.  Also, there is a chapter where the author received an email from their Pastor speaking about Baptism.  She then turns to her son William and asks him if he wants to be Baptized.  She explained what it was and its significance to him and he agreed to get Baptized.  To be honest, I struggle with this more than I do the Santa thing.  My beliefs are that you must first accept Christ as your savior before baptism.  Baptism is an outward sign of our inner faith in Christ.  When my kids have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, we follow their acceptance with a study on Baptism.  We explain its importance and what it means.  After our study, my children meet with the Pastor and they must share their desire to be baptized.  After all, it is their choice, not mine, their dad’s, or anyone else for that matter.  It is a commitment between them and God.  The book in itself is very well written.  It is very heartwarming but I do feel I need to point out those things to my readers.

I give it a 4/5. If you want a copy of the book you can get it below:

I also am having a giveaway for the book! If you want to enter click below:

In Christ,

Laura

**** I received a copy of this book from Propeller Entertainment in exchange for an honest and fair review****

The post Small Talk {Review and Giveaway} appeared first on Raising Soldiers 4 Christ.

Nov 24

15+ Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Wife

It’s that time of the year again, where we get to try and find the perfect gift for the ones we love! Last year I did 245+ Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Husband and this year I want to focus on gifts for the wives.

A lot of wives tend to ask for gifts that they need instead of what they want. This year, instead of getting the love of your life something she might just need, get her something she really wants!

Find the Perfect Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Wife Here:

Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Wife

1. A Beautiful Pearl Necklace – This year, get your wife a beautiful pearl necklace, something almost every woman would love to have. She may not have asked for one, but I’d be willing to bet she’d love a pair. One of our readers says: “Some pearls would be nice but I asked for a new vacuum…” – Samantha.

2. A Rhythm Clock – This idea comes right from one of our readers. These clocks are absolutely gorgeous and definitely a unique gift, sure to delight your wife! Christina says, “I fell in love with these type of clocks when I first saw them. They are mesmerizing.”

3. Anything Chevron – Chevron is IN and buying something in this pattern most likely means you can’t go wrong! Try one of these items to start with: Pink Chevron Pillow Case or A Chevron Laptop Bag.

4. A Flirty Apron – I am a huge fan of these aprons. I have wanted one for awhile (hint hint husband), and I love that there is a style for everyone. They are cute, flirty, and fun!

5. Corningware Bake Set – Does your wife like to cook or bake? These are the perfect gift this Christmas! How do I know? Because they were gifted to me and I LOVE them!

6. AlphabetPIX Art – Easy, yet very detailed word art. You could get your wife’s name or “I love you.” Very sweet and personalized gift. Check it out today!

7. Hot Cold Lavender Eye Mask Pillow – Does your wife need some stress relief? This is the perfect and unique gift to show her that you care. Give her this gift and also some time to use it!

8. A Diamond – Looking to buy your wife diamond jewelry? Try Blue Nile! Beautiful and unique diamond jewelry, perfect enough for any woman.

9. An Origami Owl Necklace – If your wife doesn’t have one of these already, this gift is a definite MUST! It’s a charm necklace that is personalized. Giving your wife this gift, will show her that you know her better than anyone else by the charms that you choose.

10. Pewter Heart – Melt your wife’s heart with this unique and personalized pewter heart to hang on your wall. She’ll hold it near and dear to her heart for years to come.

11. Essential Oils – Essential Oils are all the rage right now. While there are many to choose from, a few simple oils or a few oil kits will most likely make your wife very happy.

12. BOOKS – For the most part you really can’t go wrong with books. A lot of women like to read, it’s just knowing what kind of books your wife likes! Here are a fews suggestions to get you started: The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics, You’re Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are…Women of Courage: 31 Daily Devotional Bible Readings, Happy Wives Club.

13. A Mom Vacation – This isn’t a tangible item, but it’s something your wife (if she’s a mother) will LOVE. This Christmas give her the gift of 24 hours away. See tips here: Moms on Vacation: Pure Bliss for 24 Hours.

14. A Cleaning Service – Your wife works hard. Give her the month off, by getting a cleaning service to come clean the house once or twice. This really is the ultimate gift for those hard-working moms out there!

15. Gift Cards – While this is not a unique gift, it can be special. There are some gift cards that are just a must!

  • Gift card for a Massage – Let her get away and relax to an hour massage away from home.
  • Spa Package – Does your wife love beauty treatments? Send her to the spa with a nice spa gift card!
  • Target Gift Card – What wife doesn’t like Target??
  • Starbucks Gift Card – Every wife needs a little coffee. Whether it’s to keep her going during the day or to use with friends, she’ll love that you thought of her in this way!
  • Victoria’s Secret – What lovely lady wouldn’t want something sweet or sexy to dress up in? You can give her a gift card or better yet, you can pick something out yourself!

Not sure if any of these are the perfect Christmas gift ideas for your wife? Try one of these ideas!

What about YOU? Wives, are these things you would love to have?

The post 15+ Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Wife appeared first on Singing through the Rain.

Nov 24

Modest Monday: Modesty and My Trip To Korea :) PART 1

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If you guys remember, back in June my handsome Soldier hubby left on a jet plane to Korea for a year.  This “vacation” is compliments of the US Army.  Now, I could have went with him and this is something we considered.  However, it would have added another year to his assignment in Korea.  Also, he had started talking about retiring and we wanted to make sure we were debt free as much as possible.  We wanted to afford ourselves the opportunity to build or buy a house in a place we could truly call home.  So, we made the hard decision for the kids and I to remain in the states.  Also, we would have been losing money believe it or not.  This time of “military separation” has been incredibly difficult for several reasons.  However, God is ever faithful!  After a few months of my husband being gone, we talked and decided that I would visit him in Korea!

I am not normally one to leave my boys for for any period of time.  If they aren’t with me, they’re with Daddy.  It was hard getting past the thought of leaving them.  Although my mom said she would take care of the boys, I struggled with so many emotions that last night as I tucked them into bed.  Bookworm (my oldest) cried and said he didn’t want me to go.  Turtle Boy (my middle) asked why both Daddy and I had to be gone at the same time.  Nemo (my youngest) asked if he could go with me.  They all wanted to see Daddy and, yet, they all wanted me to stay.  We had considered bringing them along, but with the cost of passports and travel expenses, we just couldn’t budget it.  They love their Daddy so much, but Clay and I never had a honeymoon to speak of.  It was bitter sweet to say the least.

I have so much to share about my trip and I hope you will join me in this series!  I will be sharing the outfits I wore but I will also be sharing the many wonderful sights we took in as well.  God was there through it all from the details in planning, providing for the boys while I was gone, the travel arrangements….everything.  I actually had a pretty easy trip and was seated with some very nice folks on my flights.

The first item on my agenda while preparing to leave was planning my outfits.  I tried to pack outfits that I could mix and match to give me more variety.

Suitcase

I also had to plan for cold weather outfits.  South Korea in November can be very tricky.  Some days are warm while others are bitterly cold.

I was also limited to two suitcases weighing no more than 50 pounds a piece.  This included my shoes, clothes, hygiene products and items the boys wanted me to give Daddy.  If you’ve never packed for an extended, international trip, you’d be surprised at how quickly 50 pounds adds up.  It was tricky, but I made it work. So what did I wear while I was there?

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The first day I was there, I didn’t have time to adjust to the 14 hour time difference or get past my jet lag.  We had an appointment at JAG to update our will.  We agreed this would be the best time to update it because both of us would be present to sign, but it’s also a free service offered to the military by the military.  We also had some errands we needed to run. I woke up about 5am because of the time difference and was WIDE awake despite the 17 hour plane ride over there!  Needless to say, it was nap time for me before we left for our appointment with JAG…HAHA.

Clay has four methods of transportation in Korea (taxi, bus, train, walk).  Notice that car wasn’t one of them.  Although he could buy a hoopty, we decided against it because of the budget.  Anyway, I decided to go for something very comfortable that first day because we would be walking, riding a bus, train or taxi everywhere.  I wanted to be sure that on the first day, jet-lagged and all, comfort was taken care of.

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This was us the first day walking from Clay’s apartment to post.  The most direct route was through a tunnel built under the main road.  The artwork in the murals in this tunnel are amazing.  (Pay close attention to the above photo.  Notice anything particular? Hint: Clay is a stickler for proper spelling…lol).

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More pictures of the tunnel. Isn’t it gorgeous?

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While on post we went to the Dragon Hill Lodge and ate lunch.  Clay took me on a tour of the lodge as we walked to JAG and showed me this beauty!  I just loved it!  So pretty!  It was very peaceful and would have been an excellent place to read my Bible, pray and reflect on God’s Word!

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The last three pictures above were also taken on post at the Fire Station.  Pictured is a memorial statue for the Assistant Fire Chief Yi Chae-Kon who served at this fire station and lost his life in the line of duty in 1977.

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As we finished our appointment, Clay and I walked to the Post Exchange (similar to a Walmart minus the groceries).  We happened upon this display.  This only the first row of flags.  Behind this row are three additional row of flags displayed.  It was pretty huge.  Displayed were all the flags of the nations who participated in the Korean War.

My Outfit pieces:

Headband: Lilla Rose

HalfTee: www.HalfTee.com

Sweatshirt: Purchased at a clearance sale at Macy’s

Skirt: Another sale I found at Macy’s! I got it for over 50% off!

Boots: They are new this season and I love them! I wore them several times in Korea while walking ALL over the place, yet they remained totally comfortable! Bought at Macy’s on sale.

Well, I hope you enjoyed these pictures from my first day in South Korea! Come back and join me for the rest of the series.  If your not subscribed, click at the top of the blog, enter your email, then go to your email and confirm subscription! This will keep you from missing any of my posts. :)

In Christ,

Laura

The post Modest Monday: Modesty and My Trip To Korea :) PART 1 appeared first on Raising Soldiers 4 Christ.

Nov 22

The Family Dinner Project: My Army Thanksgiving

This year, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t really feeling Thanksgiving… Not in a “I’m going to decorate for Christmas right NOW!” way, but in a “Meh, why bother?” kind of way. With John being deployed, I just thought about all that food prep, all of those left overs, and really just me to eat it… (History has shown me that my boys aren’t big on the Thanksgiving food.) and it didn’t seem worth it. All of our friends are going home for Thanksgiving, so we’ll be by ourselves for the actual day. It was all kind of a bummer.

However, I recently got a big reminder that Thanksgiving isn’t about the food, but about acknowledging what you’re thankful for.

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I’m sure I’m not the only spouse that feels sad around the holidays with their husband deployed, so it was nice to be able to go to a Thanksgiving meal with my army family. It kind of broke up the lonesomeness of the season. If I can’t be with biological/marital family, these people are a great bunch to be with instead!

Last Thursday, John’s company‘s (battalion‘s?) FRGs threw their Thanksgiving dinner for the families of deployed soldiers and Rear D soldiers. It was a pot-luck style dinner, and everything was delicious. If there is one thing I’m thankful for this year, it’s the support of my army family. I’ve kind of glossed over it here, but over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sick. For the most part, it wasn’t too serious, but all of that came to a head on Thursday. I was not able to function.

The Munchkin’s ABA tutor, also an army wife, had to feed the boys breakfast. After ABA ended, my friend Jina, another army wife, came over to put The Munchkin on the bus, feed The Bean and her boys lunch, and watched The Bean for the rest of the afternoon. She got The Munchkin off of the bus, and kept them at her house until dinner time. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have been able to go to the FRG Thanksgiving at all. Because of these women’s help, I was able to sleep off basically the plague, and felt human again by 5:30. I tested the waters by eating a small soup dinner at Jina’s house, and then felt well enough to take the boys to the Thanksgiving dinner.

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The Munchkin was pretty full by the time we arrived, and only ate some rolls, grapes, and a cupcake. The Bean, always the good eater, had some stuffing, mac & cheese, a roll, some grapes, and a cupcake. I decided to play it safe and didn’t eat anything. I was just happy to have kept the soup from Jina’s house down, and to be able to be out amongst the living again, haha.

There was a great turnout for the event; about 150 people showed up in all, and everyone seemed to have a good time. A lot of planning went into this dinner, so I was pleased that so many people came, and that it went so well. It really was a great event.

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This is only “my” second deployment, and I’ve been really lucky to have a great support system of friends and acquaintances around me. When John deployed the first time, I was a new mom, working full time, and then planning a move by myself. My friends in Rochester kept me sane. Once at Fort Drum, my FRG friends taught me the basics of army life, and I value the friendships I made there immensely.

Now, it is time for me to do my part. Our battalion has welcomed a new baby into the ranks, and the father is deployed. A meal train has been set up so that the mother doesn’t have to cook dinner for a couple of weeks. I can only imagine how hard it is to give birth alone, during the holidays, and can’t wait to get my dinner for her together. I love how supportive our army family is, and even though we come from all different kinds of places, and all walks of life, it doesn’t stop us from sitting down together for a meal, or coming to the aid of another when they need it. For that, I give thanks.

This post is part of a compensated editorial partnership with The Family Dinner Project. All storytelling/opinions/pics/etc. are my own.

It’s The Family Dinner Project’s mission is to inspire families to enjoy food, fun, and conversation together. It doesn’t have to be fancy; the point is actually, to return to a simpler and more meaningful way of being.

To participate in #familydinnerforward, simply snap a dinner/giving-related photo and share it via Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #familydinnerforward. You can share as many photos as you like and all photos tagged on Twitter or Instagram with #familydinnerforward between December 2-16 will be entered to win prizes from Lenox! Click here to learn more.

Nov 21

Why I Don’t Feel Inferior to “Pinterest Moms”

I hear a lot of talk about “Pinterest Moms.” You know, the ones who throw big birthday parties, only cook the cutest and healthiest foods, and do Pinterest-inspired crafts all day long.

Can I be honest? I am not a Pinterest mom. While I absolutely love Pinterest, and I use it a lot to come up with ideas for dinner, my blog, and social media, I am just not one to go crazy for crafts or huge parties.

Does this mean that I think moms who love doing these things are bad? Of course not, some of these moms are my friends! And you know what? I admire their talents and expertise in areas that I am not good at. I don’t see it as something to compete with, I see it as something my friends are good at that I am not. And that’s okay!

Pinterest Moms

Valua Vitaly | Dollar Photo Club

3 Reasons Why You Should Not Feel Inferior to “Pinterest Moms”

1. Everyone Has Their Talents
Maybe you aren’t good at crafts (I know I’m not) and maybe you aren’t the best cook, but your kids love you for YOU. Your kids don’t expect lavish parties or perfect food, they just want you to spend time with them. Some moms are good at cooking throwing parties, and crafts, and some moms aren’t.

What’s YOUR talent? Maybe you can sing your child to sleep, or maybe you are good at organizing. Maybe you have a knack for cleaning or maybe your talent is sewing that hole in your child’s favorite stuffed bear. Whatever it is, it’s YOURS and that’s what makes you amazing!

2. You Don’t See Behind the Scenes
What you see on Pinterest is just a little bit of someone else’s life through pictures. You don’t see the behind-the-scenes stress and mess. You don’t see the whining kids, the exhausted moms, or the days where doing something fun is just too much. Everyone has those days. Don’t compare your life with someone else’s Pinterest photos.


Don’t compare your life with someone else’s Pinterest photos.
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3. It’s Just for Fun, It’s Not a Competition
While I know there are a few moms out there that may have more of a “competitive side,” the majority of moms don’t think that way. The majority of moms out there want to have fun with their kids. They love making crafts and throwing their kids big parties, not because they want to be the best mom on the block, but because they love their kids and want the best for them. Here is just one example of that from the Study at Home Mama: In Defense of the Pinterest Parent.

Whether you are a “Pinterest Mom” or just “mom”, you are amazing! Don’t feel inferior to anyone or anything because you are wonderfully made! Your are loved for exactly for who you are.

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” – Psalm 139:14 (NKJV)

Have you ever felt inferior to a “Pinterest Mom?” What do you do to remember that you are amazing just the way you are?

The post Why I Don’t Feel Inferior to “Pinterest Moms” appeared first on Singing through the Rain.

Nov 21

Free To Be Me {Review & Giveaway}

Free to be Me

Who am I? How do I figure out what to do with my life? Does anybody really care about me? Why can’t I be as pretty as her?

Stasi Eldredge understands the doubts, struggles and fears you are facing. She has been there! Now Stasi invites you to walk with her as she helps you understand the lies this world tries to sell you, and believe that God sees you as beautiful and worthy—right now. With honesty and grace, Stasi will help you see the hand of God in your story and trust Him with your every hope and dream.

Stasi Eldredge’s heart was captured by God through the Sacred Romance and she has never gotten over it. Or rather, Him.  She is the co-author (with her husband John) of the New York Times Bestselling book Captivating and Love & War. Their ministry, Ransomed Heart, has been used by God to transform the lives of men and women all over the world. They make their home in Colorado. The mother of three grown sons who no longer live in her home but take residence forever in her heart, Stasi is a writer and conference speaker passionate about women embracing the value of their heart and life to Jesus Christ and risking everything on that!
My thoughts:
The Greek philosopher Aristotle lived three hundred years before Christ and had a huge effect on the world as we know it. He believed that women exist as natural deformations or imperfect males. He was not alone in his belief and that belief has had an adverse effect. I am not sure how much you have studied misogyny, but I barely glanced at the subject until I read this book. Misogyny is the hatred of women.  As Stasi explains in her book, misogyny manifests itself in many different ways – from jokes about women to treating women inferior; from sex trafficking to domestic abuse.  We have heard the profane jokes that slander women in general.  Studies have proved that these comments have led girls/women to suicide, plastic surgery or eating disorders. We have witnessed in movies and news reports of the women sold into sex slavery and the horrible effects it has on a woman’s mental and physical state.  Nowadays, you rarely hear the term misogyny; instead, you hear the terms “sexual harassment, sexual assault, abuse, trafficking in persons, bullying, and the list goes on.  These are all forms of misogyny though.  Unfortunately, women suffer from this hurt everyday. For centuries before Christ, women suffered from this hatred.
However, then came Jesus! When He came onto the scene He stomped misogny! Instead of engaging in the old rules of not speaking to women in public or being touched by women who were not your wife or close relative, He engaged in conversation with women many times! He spoke to them, touched them, taught them, and esteemed them. Women ministered to Him by touching Him, washing His feet, anointing Him with oil, and with their tears.
I could continue for days talking about this book! I have ALWAYS enjoyed Stasi’s writing and have grown more each time I have read her work.  This book is no different.  WOW, it is packed full of wisdom and advice and it is also scripturally sound!
  • Chapter one: The Heart of the Matter
  • Chapter two: What’s your story?
  • Chapter three: The landscape of your life
  • Chapter four: Your mother, yourself
  • Chapter five: Be you, not them.
  • Chapter Six: Beauty Secrets
  • Chapter Seven: Stumbling into Freedom
  • Chapter Eight: A little Rain
  • Chapter Nine: Friendship
  • Chapter Ten: Those Boys!
  • Chapter Eleven: Extravagant Love
  • Chapter Twelve: Your True Name

Check out Free to Be Me! You will love it! I give it a 5/5!

You can buy a copy here:

Also, I am offering a giveaway sponsored by Family Christian Bookstores!!! So click below to enter. :)

In Christ,

Laura

 **** I was provided a copy of “Free to be Me” by Family Christian Bookstores for an honest and fair review. The thoughts are mine, and mine alone. ****

The post Free To Be Me {Review & Giveaway} appeared first on Raising Soldiers 4 Christ.

Nov 20

What We’re Currently up To: Week 50

This past week, we’ve been…

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Finding ourselves with lots of electronics time. I just haven’t had the energy lately to occupy the boys, so I’ve been letting them play on the tablet/phone/computer a lot, and watching lots of TV. I still try to stick to my “no electronics after dinner” rule, but some days… I just don’t have it in me. No regrets though; I’m feeling too crappy to care.

I’ve been writing out my blogging schedule. I find that I’m much better at updating this blog if I plan out my blog posts in advance. I’ve been doing it since October, and I think it’s looking much better around these parts. I really should be writing out our Christmas cards, but maybe next week. I still have time.

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We’ve been dressing in pajamas as much as possible. See above where I’m feeling too crappy to care. The Munchkin gets dressed for school, and The Bean and I stay in our pajamas all day long. I think the only day I got dressed maybe was Wednesday, and that was only because we had to leave the house to go to The Munchkin’s speech & OT appointments. I’m ok with this.

The Munchkin has apparently been thinking about bowling a lot lately. He asks to go bowling all of the time, and plays bowling apps and computer games, but this love for that game has carried over to school as well. He got a little note on his daily sheet one day that said he was “obsessed with bowling today.” Hahahahaha! I guess I’ll have to take the little man to the bowling alley again soon. They’re having a Turkey Bowl event this weekend, so maybe then. We’ll see how I’m feeling.

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The Bean is beginning to really impress me with his ability to teach himself letters and numbers. I’ll have to look up where he should be, I think he’s a little advanced. Sure, he still says “1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, yay!” but he’s trying. He actually knows quite a few numbers past 10, which I think is impressive. He likes to skip the middle of the alphabet too, but we’ll get there. The boys were hanging out at my friend Jina’s house one day this week, and she said that my boys and her boys (her boys are the same ages as mine) were sitting around the table, and they were all singing the alphabet song. How cute must that have been????

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Pictures: TB sleeping on the floor during our sick day | The boys in coats | TB coloring
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Nov 19

Tiny Swag, FabKids Edition, November

It is officially starting to get too cold to take outfit photos outside. What’s a mom to do?! Luckily, it was in the 40s today, and that seemed super warm compared to the temps we’ve been feeling lately. Sure, we actually had to wear coats today, but it was warm enough to be able to run out on the deck for a few minutes and snap some photos. There were almost 20 cows out today, but sadly, they’re all hidden by the deck railing. *shakes fist*

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Anyway, onto the FabKids outfit! This month, I chose the Punkster Outfit, and it’s so cute. Oddly enough, I think the shirt is a bit darker than these photos and the ones on the FabKids site imply, but if I didn’t show up in either set of photos, I guess the color can’t be that far off!

This outfit came with coated black denim skinnies, which The Munchkin has received before, but I ordered again because he needed a bigger size! I was pleased to find that I needed to roll them up a couple of times. The cargo pants we have from FabKids in the same size can be worn as is now; no rolling up required. These still look cute rolled up, and that means that I’ll get lots of use out of them!

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The Munchkin got lots of compliments on his outfit today. He had speech and OT today, and people commented on his outfit there, and then he was called a “fashionista” when I dropped him off at school. In response, one of the other aids said to the one who made the comment, “He is always a fashionista, what are you talking about?” with a grin. While I give a lot of credit to FabKids for making The Munchkin look fashionable most of the time (since we get a new outfit every month, the bulk of his wardrobe is from FabKids) can someone come up with a male version of “fashionista” please???

Outfit Details
Beanie – Walmart
Shirt & Pants – c/o FabKids
Stickers – c/o school
Shoes – Adidas

Heads up: I got this outfit for free from FabKids in exchange for writing this post, but all opinions and photos are my own.
This post also contains affiliate links.

Nov 19

What Makes a Church-Ministering to Military Families

What Makes a ChurchMilitary

We have lived in many cities throughout the U.S. We have lived in Ohio, Texas, Maryland, West Virginia, Washington and soon Tennessee, since 2005. My husband has lived in more states than these, including different countries since enlisting in the Army. The point to this is we have attended numerous churches across the country and internationally. Once we receive orders for hubby’s new assignment, one of the first items on our list is researching the churches in the area. It is not easy being the “new kid” anywhere, but it makes it harder if we don’t have a church family to connect with. I have noticed a huge difference in how churches in “military towns” minister to military families than churches located nowhere near military towns.

Prior to my husband’s reassignment overseas, we made a decision toward retirement. We had many plans when we left Washington, as my husband would travel overseas, and I would move back to my hometown and closer to family. I didn’t realize how incredibly difficult it was going to be to go from where we were back to my hometown. Throughout the years, I have learned to bloom where I have been planted. However, this move, mentally, has been quite draining.

As I mentioned, we have lived in many areas and some I have adored and others, well, not so much. There have been pros and cons to each place and memories that I will cherish. Regardless of my feelings toward the area, I will always cherish the relationships I have made. These friendships have lasted throughout the years, and I am truly blessed by each and every one. On my personal Facebook, I have many friends from all over the world. A good number of them are military wives I have had the pleasure of befriending. Military and Civilians look at life differently. So what does a civilian church need to know about military families and how can they help minister to them?

  • Military families are not used to taking months, sometimes years, to make connections.  In my experiences in civilian churches, people seem to take their time with building relationships and friendships.  As a military spouse, months are not a guaranteed because we move all the time.  Military spouses understand that we are not guaranteed tomorrow.  In fact, one of my best friends moved from Washington to Oklahoma within 6 months of meeting each other.  We met at church and became fast friends.  We connected on Facebook, texted and called each other, and hung out.  Our families did things together outside of church and we became very close.  She was my prayer warrior, and I was hers.  She moved in January and despite the distance; we are still very close!  When a military family attends your church, please do not waste time getting to know them.  They are new to the area, even if they are “returning home.”  They need people to call, text, invite them places, and get them out of the house.  They are not used to having months, sometimes years, to wait on things to happen.  Often, they are unsure where they could be used, but military families waste no time jumping right into a ministry to help.

 

  • Military families want to serve.  We are unselfish and unwavering in our commitments.  One of the issues I have noticed in civilian churches is that many of them have had the SAME people on the SAME committees for years. Military wives are used to throwing themselves into many activities and community service projects simultaneously.  When a military family moves to an area that is not predominately military, it is often a difficult adjustment for us.  It is a HUGE adjustment to not have a “purpose.”  If a military family attends your church, ask them to help.  Listen to their ideas.  Give them tasks they can do. If there is a new committee that can be started consider asking them to take this on or contribute.

 

  • Military families will not ask for help.  Some call this pride, but it’s not.  When their husbands deploy for a year, (sometimes more) at a time, military wives have to face challenges alone.  They have babies; they take care of sick children on their own while ill themselves. They learn to be plumbers and mechanics, they mow the grass, clean the house, cook dinners, volunteer in youth activities and community projects, they must be both the disciplinarian and loving embrace.  Military wives serve their communities and then serve some more.  This act of servitude, especially for Christian military wives, is ingrained into their character.  I am friends with many civilian wives who serve as much if not more, but military wives often serve while their husbands are at war and in harm’s way, or at training and overseas.  Military wives need an outlet to get keep their minds clear and free from the worry.  Ask a military wife how she is doing.  Ask her to lunch or a playdate with the kids.  Ask her to serve in the church and find ways to be a blessing to her.  We see the cliché posts on Facebook about supporting the troops, about respecting military families, and even people asking how they can help. If you know a military wife whose husband is overseas, have you showed up with dinner one night? Have you offered to watch her kids so she can get dinner out? Have you showed up when a child is sick to pray in person or hold her hand?  Military wives will not ask for help because we’re not used to receiving help from the civilian sector.  I hope that doesn’t sound too harsh, but it is true. Military wives  are a rare breed who grow accustomed to doing it alone.  As I mentioned before, military wives are not used to taking months, sometimes years, to make connections and grow friendships.  We know our time is limited with one another, and we dive right into a friendship head first.  Yet, it’s those fast-made friendships that last.  Those same friends are  the ones who drive the wife and sick child to the hospital in the middle of the night, then run back with the rest of the kids and watch them until Mom gets back. They are the ones offering to run over Sprite or medicine. They are the ones who are dropping food off without being asked, asking other kids over for playdates to get them out of the house. They don’t wait for the spouse to ask for help, they just do it anyway because she would do the same thing for you. Friends, if you have a military spouse in your church—find ways to do some of these things. If you ask her if she needs help, she will tell you no. Because in truth, she doesn’t. She is perfectly fine to carry on, alone.  Yet, she will never turn away a helping hand.  I ask you, what does Jesus say about serving others?

 

  • I know many churches have a food train committee. This committee is usually comprised of several ladies who organize dinners when someone passes away; there is a sickness, or there is someone who has had a baby. However, there are churches who organize food trains for the spouse and children when a military member deploys. I cannot tell you what a blessing this is! I can tell you from personal experience that it is difficult to focus on dinner, grocery shopping and everything in between for days, sometimes weeks, after my husband has deployed.  Eventually, I had to snap out of my depression because I had to carry on for the sake of my children.  Also, I can not put into words the blessings received when ladies from the church brought food!  I recently asked several military wives about ways churches, specifically in non-military towns, could bless military and this is one that repeated.  One lady said that she knew of a church that did a food train for eight weeks after a deployment! Now, I don’t think it has to be that long at all but I was blown away.

 

  • Learn your subject. Friends, in order to learn more about Jesus we must study the Bible and immerse ourselves in His Word.  If we want to learn more about history, we study history.  The same goes for the military and spouses. If you have even just ONE military family in your church, it is important to get to know them, to learn about them. There are many books out which I will be sharing in another post that are great resources for Pastors, Deacons, church committees, and so on, to read which will help them learn the best ways to serve the military and their families.  One of the best ways I can honestly think of though is to ask.  However, be prepared to hear the answers because you may not like them. It may also encourage a positive change in your church.  Military families sacrifice so much, but if you truly want to support the troops and want to help, take time to support those who they leave behind. I can say speaking for my husband personally; he is much better able to focus on his mission and his tasks while away if he knows I have a good support group and resources available.  It takes a huge worry off his shoulders.

 

  • Stop empty platitudes. I know this may strike a chord with many but if you say you’re praying for someone, you really need to mean it.  Post your Facebook comment but then immediately pray for them.  Write their name down and pray for them during your prayer times.  Use Facebook as a tool. Many people post their thoughts, struggles, triumphs, and unique situations they are currently facing on Facebook.  Use that as a chance to serve.  Do they seem stressed out? What can you do to help? Remember, most military wives won’t ask for help, so you have to think outside the box and make the first move.  Can you take her kids for a while? Schedule a play date? Can the church congregation assist with chores like mowing lawns, minor house repairs, minor car maintenance, etc.?  What about babysitting her children so she can go out to eat with friends and just get away?  This small gesture is significant with a military spouse, and she will beg you to watch your children so you can have a date with your husband.  A military spouse will not accept no for an answer.  The food chain is great as well, especially if she has sick kids or other emergency situations.

 

  • One other suggestion I got for churches from military wives is that all church events should have childcare available.  Many military spouses just don’t have others to watch their kids, especially if they are new to the area. So having child care available is a huge relief to them and allows them to plug-in to more church activities.

We are all busy.  We all have our own lives and honestly, your family is your ministry first. However, I think all of us, myself included, can reach out to military and find out ways to serve the spouse. The Pastor of our previous church in Washington is retired military.  We won’t mention he was in the Navy instead of Army, HAHA! Kidding!!! The church was such a blessing to us! They were always there for any need. If one was sick, someone showed up at the door, called, texted, offered any help they could. One time when Clay was away for a few months at training, it seemed EVERYTHING had gone wrong. Furniture was breaking, and my landlords were coming by for an inspection. Isn’t that just how it works? Long story short, it wasn’t long before half the church was in my house. They all helped me work to get repairs made quickly. Then we had pizza and fellowship afterwards. This church was very close to a military post, had a Pastor, who was retired military, it also had many others who were Veterans. When they say, ANYTHING you need, you let us know. They meant it. Even though I never asked for help, they were always there. They did not wait for me to ask. They got to know us, to know our needs.

Here are some helpful links:

A letter from a military spouse to churches

Military Friendly churches BEST practices

How Churches can help Military Families

Operation we are here: How to Start a Military Ministry

In Christ,

Laura

PS: You may be interested in my review of Wounded Warrior’s Wife by Hannah Conway. You can read that review HERE.

The post What Makes a Church-Ministering to Military Families appeared first on Raising Soldiers 4 Christ.

Nov 18

KS House Tour: The Bean’s [Old] Nursery

I’m a little behind on my Kansas House Tour posts, and a little sad to be sharing this one, because the nursery doesn’t look like this anymore! Since the boys started sharing a room, I’ve begun moving some things out of the nursery and into their room. The nursery is looking a little bare now, but once upon a time, it was a Peanuts/Snoopy vintage dream. (Is it weird to call my own nursery a dream?) Anyway, I still wanted to share it, because I’ve been inspired by other people’s nurseries, so I thought somebody out there might get some ideas from mine.

If you’re just tuning in, so far, I’ve only shared the playroom/classroom so far in this tour. You haven’t missed much!

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This is what you saw when you walked through the door. You had to watch your step, but there was enough room to walk between the train table (left) and the cradle (right) that holds stuffed animals. The bookshelf holds most of our board books, as well as some stuffed animals, and a few toys. Most of the toys are in the playroom, but it’s nice to have some in their rooms in case they want to play there instead.

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On the wall between the changing table and crib, I have this shelf and hook setup. It was so convenient to be able to grab a hoodie and a hat if needed, and those Peanuts cups held little goodies that I didn’t want the boys to get. (Snot suckers, nail clippers, etc.) I got them from the dollar section of Target, if you can believe it!

Also featured are the crown I made for The Bean’s second birthday, a vintage Snoopy and Woodstock truck I bought off ebay, initial letters I made in Columbia, a little white noise machine, the medallion The Bean got at his first communion, and one of his “newborn” photos. (I think he was over a month old for that shoot, but it was the closest to newborn we got!)

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I think I’m going to miss those curtains the most when I eventually remove all of the Peanuts stuff out of the room. I love them so much. I made them out of a thrifted flat sheet. They don’t do much to block the light, but they’re super cute. That cool canopy above the crip is from Ikea. I love the crown molding in the room, but it did force me to hang the canopy a little lower than I would have liked, and I keep hitting my head on it when I lay The Bean down! Eventually, it will move into the playroom. I think a lot of the framed artwork will move down there too, and the puzzle that hangs above the changing table will go back to it’s original use.

It’s funny; now that this room isn’t used that much, it’s become the “time out” room. Ha! I sit in the big rocker, and set the timer, and the boy in time out sits in the little rocker facing the wall.

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I thrifted the crib set back in Columbia. You can’t really tell from this picture, but it has Snoopy playing sports on it. I got the comforter, crib bumper, and crib ruffle. I almost didn’t get it, because the rest of the room is pretty much primary colors, but then… how could I pass it up?!

Oh, and do you see that? The boy has three binkies. THREE. Homeboy has a problem.

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A better view of the train table. This thing was a thrifted steal at $7! Sure, that $7 was just for the table itself, and we already had the tracks, trains, and buildings, but still! $7! Worth every watched step coming into the room, and every stubbed toe.

I tried playing with the position of it, but this was actually the best place to put it, and the best way to lay it out. *shrugs* I didn’t want this giant thing in the playroom though, so it worked for the length of time it was in there. It’s much better in its new home in the boys’ room.

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Well, that was tour of The Bean’s old nursery! As you can see from his hair, these pictures are pretty old. From August, actually! I hope they bring you guys some inspiration though, and I hope you enjoyed this stop on the tour!

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Nov 18

The Wounded Warrior’s Wife

Wounded Warrior-2

I have been a military wife for quite a while now.  Clay has served this country in CONUS (Continental United States), OCONUS (Outside the Continental United States), and has deployed several times on combat tours.  As a military wife I have tried to educate myself on the Army.  I took all of the AFTB (Army Family Team Building) courses offered, including becoming an AFTB Instructor.  I also became CARE (Casualty Assistance Relief Everywhere) team qualified.  I submerged myself in reading material, attended every class offered, attended the numerous briefings, watched the videos, but nothing could ever prepare me for PTSD.

Hannah Conway contacted me and asked me to review a copy of her book, The Wounded Warrior’s Wife.  I was excited to not only read her book, but, honestly, I was equally thrilled to know another wife who understood what I was going through.  As much as Clay does quite well most of the time, he does suffer from PTSD.  It also hasn’t always been so easy for him. For many years of our marriage, after his first deployment to Iraq and then his second, his PTSD struggles were very difficult!  Through his incontestable faith in Christ, his struggles have gotten better.

In her book, Hannah shares about being a newlywed but living worlds apart from her husband. I know from experience what this is like because of deployments and military separations.  As the story unfolds, we see how much this young spouse needs her husband NOW.  However, the Army doesn’t work that way and, unfortunately, “now” means the service member must request leave.

As we girls plan our wedding, we have this picture perfect idea.  We get lost in our “Prince Charming mentality.”  We believe our husbands to be this knight in shining armor riding his valiant steed coming to save us, woo us, adore us, and shower us with flowers, butterflies and love.  When a woman marries a military man, we’re actually marrying into the military.  That knight in shining armor is more like a knight with dirty boots who works long hours and is gone for long periods of time, sometimes more than year.  Instead of having thoughts of Prince Charming, we pray he comes back home alive.

Military marriage is not easy. Your marriage is constantly being tested through deployments, military separations, TDY’s, late work hours, training exercises, weekend duties and the list goes on.  In order for military life to work, a spouse must be equipped with heaping amounts of grace and even greater amounts of patience.  I love that Hannah doesn’t shy away from the hard parts of military marriage, but she addresses it with truth and grace.

PTSD affects many of our military. About 30 percent of the men and women who have spent time in war zones experience PTSD. An additional 20 to 25 percent have had partial PTSD at some point in their lives. More than half of all male Vietnam veterans and almost half of all female Vietnam veterans have experienced “clinically serious stress reaction symptoms.” PTSD has also been detected among veterans of other wars. Estimates of PTSD from the Gulf War are as high as 10%. Estimates from the war in Afghanistan are between 6 and 11%. Current estimates of PTSD in military personnel who served in Iraq range from 12% to 20%.

I am thankful that Hannah’s story is bringing awareness to the military life and to PTSD.  I think this book could be a valuable resource to those who are new to the military or really anyone who works with military or Veterans.  This may be a wonderful book to hand out to spouses in the deployment briefings, Newcomers briefings, Family Readiness Groups, and even for Chaplains to have on-hand.

Thank you Hannah for allowing me to review your book, I am truly blessed by it! You can get a copy by clicking the link below:

In Christ,

Laura

The post The Wounded Warrior’s Wife appeared first on Raising Soldiers 4 Christ.

Nov 17

You have to refuel

This is the take away from today’s therapy session. If there are a series of stressors all lined up in a row and you don’t take the time to recover…then you break. I think over my 37 years I have … Continue reading

Nov 17

Welcome Home, Daddy!

Nov 17

Education Week



It's Education Week and Flyboy was invited to read a book to James' class today in the library! How fun! Eli got to join in the fun too! Soooooooooo cute!

James insisted on the Halloween book, Hallo-Wiener.(Thank you, Auntie Toni!)  I tried to talk him into a Thanksgiving book, but he said he wanted to make the class laugh. (It ended up being a great choice because Eli loves that book too and he sat and listened the whole time!)


The boys are part of a deployment group at school. The Spanish teacher and the counselor do a fabulous job sending pictures and newsletters to Flyboy. They are doing an Operation Celebration after school on Thursday that we'll be missing, so they had James and Eli give us our own special presentation and gifts today after we read the book. So sweet!  


Nov 17

Let’s Catch Up with The Bean

The Bean and I are feeling under the weather, so you’ll excuse me if I share some pictures that I took right after his first hair cut, back when it was nice and warm, right? I had this “Let’s Catch Up with…” series of posts planned for September, but things kept getting in the way, and I only wrote about myself. Well, now it’s time to catch up with The Bean!

I feel like life moves so quickly, that if I don’t mention the small stuff in a Currently post, it goes undocumented, and that is unacceptable!

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General Loves

The Bean still loves cows, and loves watching them from the window. He also loves spotting airplanes and helicopters as they fly by from the base. He pretty much loves all modes of transportation, and his favorite toys are trains and cars. He likes Thomas the Train, but I suspect that it’s only because Thomas is a train, not because the character itself is awesome or anything. There aren’t a whole lot of train-based shows to choose from, you know? I think it’s pretty much Thomas or Chugginton, no? When he pushes his trains around, he goes “Choo-choo, chug” which I think is pretty cute. His car noise isn’t quite “vroom,” but I don’t know how to spell it out to describe it to you.

He loves (LOVES) watching TV. He doesn’t really even care what he’s watching, but prefers Creative Galaxy, TumbleLeaf, (both Amazon Prime shows) Kratts Creatures, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. (Both PBS Kids shows) He is perfectly ok with having The Munchkin pick a show, and then getting to pick a show, as long as you remind him that this is how the rules work.

He love love loves playing with his big brother. The two of them have sword fights in the trampoline, crash cars on the road rugs, and play “snow ball fights” which is a game I’m not so much a fan of. They basically decide that something (socks, balls, Little People figures…) is a snowball and then throw them at each other. It’s all fun and games until someone gets a balled up sock in the eye.

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Talking

The Bean is a little talker. Well, more or less. He’s probably where he’s supposed to be, but compared to The Munchkin at this age, he’s quite the chatter box. We were a little worried at his 18m appointment, because he didn’t exactly have five words, but we had a couple of ladies come out from the state’s early intervention program to evaluate him, and they ultimately decided that he had enough base language skills (sounds, etc.) and that he would probably be talking by his second birthday. I was really afraid that The Bean might have a speech delay or something, so it was quite a relief to hear their decision, and I’m glad that I pushed for someone to come out and evaluate him, instead of taking the doctor’s word that he would start talking by age 2. (Which is what I did with The Munchkin.) Sure, the results ended up being the same, but what if they hadn’t?

As of right now, he speaks in two or three word sentences, and can pretty much express what he wants. He might not always get the words correct (example: He asked for milk on his salad, because he didn’t know it was called “ranch” haha.) but I can pretty much always figure out what he needs. If all else fails, I’ll ask him to show me what he wants, and he’ll drag me over to the item. That in of itself is an improvement too, because he used to just generically point towards the kitchen when I’d ask him to show me what he wanted.

The only bad thing about The Bean talking is that he calls me “Colleen.” I mean, I get it. Everyone else on the planet except for The Munchkin calls me “Colleen,” so why shouldn’t he? Except I’m his mommy and he should refer to me as such, you know? It’s funny too: You can ask him who Mommy is, and he’ll point to me, but when you ask what “Her name” is, he’ll say “Colleen.” *facepalm*

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Potty Training

I tried out potty training The Bean for a full four days, and gave up on it. We didn’t have one successful pee in the potty, just a lot of wet underpants. He’s just not ready. I don’t think he realizes that there is a difference between the underpants and his diapers, so I’m going to wait a month or so and try again. For a weekend. If he doesn’t get it over the weekend, then we’re not doing it into the week. I really don’t feel like spending another two years potty training. Don’t get me wrong; he’ll sit on the potty and potty seat just fine; but he doesn’t do anything but kick his feet while he’s on it and giggle. So, someday. Just not this day.

Next thing I’m going to try and break him of? Dependency on the binky. He only uses it for naps and bedtime, but it’s time that thing went. I’m not sure if he has all of his teeth yet, but once he gets them all, BYE BINKY!

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Eating

The Bean is still my good eater, and for that, I am grateful. For the most part, he’ll eat what I eat for dinner, which is nice. The Munchkin still isn’t there, so a lot of the time I end up making two different meals, but it’s better than three different plates! Textures don’t seem to bother The Bean, and he’ll eat salad, veggie sushi, soups, casseroles, and various breads, which is great. He still isn’t a fan of ground meat though, but I feel like that might be ending soon. He ate some taco the other day, but mostly ate the shell, lettuce, and cheese.

He prefers apple juice to orange juice, which is funny because I do too, and likes milk in his cereal. He’s not too bad at eating cereal with the milk either, but if he spills, he must immediately clean it up with a towel. He has gotten on a straw kick, and must have a straw with every drink. Here’s the kicker – the straw must be the same color as the cup. OCD much?

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He is Stubborn

The Bean knows what he knows, and even if he’s not right, you’re the one that is wrong. When I was potty training him, we’d do letter flash cards. He wouldn’t know most of them, obviously, but he still liked going through them. On the back of the cards, they would have a picture of something that started with the letter that was on the front. For example, “D” has a donkey on it. So I’d say “D is for donkey.” and he’d reply “No. Horse.” I’d tell him that it was actually a donkey, which is like a horse, but he wouldn’t accept it. That card had a picture of a horse on it, and there wasn’t anything you could do about it.

He does that kind of thing every once in a while, and he gives you this condescending look that I feel like he’s too young to possess, while his brain is clearly thinking “How are you in charge if you don’t even know this?”

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Speaking of Stubborn, He is a Picky Dresser

To this day, The Munchkin doesn’t give two craps about what clothes I put him in, but there are days where The Bean will flat out refuse to wear the shirt I’ve picked out. He can’t quite take them off by himself yet, so he just refuses to let me put it on him in the first place. Lots of complaining, wiggling, kicking, and shaking his head. His clothes are on the lower bar in the boys’ closet, so sometimes we’ll flip through all of his shirts before he’ll decide on which one he wants to wear for the day. Luckily, he doesn’t care about pants, but he sometimes refuses my choice in shoes. *sigh*

When it was warmer out, he’d prefer to walk around the house in just his diaper, and prefers bare feet to feet in socks if we’re hanging out at home. I’m hoping gloves and hats won’t be a problem this winter. I’m not really expecting them to be though, because he’s been ok with it all the couple of times we’ve had to wear them so far this season.

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So there. I think you’re pretty much caught up with The Bean now!

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Nov 17

Modest Monday: Holiday Outfit Ideas!!!

I’m one of those people who is usually somewhat prepared for the holidays. I even tend to have a plan A and plan B. One year plan A was to deep fry the turkey, which only takes 20 minutes or so. Hubby decided to dry the pan by putting it on the fire to evaporate the water from it… Next thing we knew it had a big hole in it! Yep, he burnt a hole in the pan and we were expecting company to show up in 30 minutes. Plan B was then enacted with stealth and precision (okay, I was frantic for a bit, I admit it!). We pre-carved the raw turkey and pressure cooked it a little at a time. (I have a small pressure cooker.) It turned out wonderful and everyone was thrilled.

Despite my natural inclinations to be prepared, I hardly ever know what I’m going to wear for the holidays. Each little activity and function has me in my room trying on various combinations to get a look I’m happy with. This year, I’m looking for ideas early. What do you think of these?

eggplant loveliness

toasty tan modesty

Western Modesty at Harvest Time

First, remember to start with the first layer. Leggings and a Cami (we’ll skip the obvious). Let’s keep our legs warm & ourselves covered. If you are going to be around the hot stove a lot (like me) or tend to have hot flashes (like me again), you may want to go with light weight cropped leggins and a modesty panel neckline insert/ mock camiIf you are cold natured, Debra&Co. has Fleece lined tights:

Deborah and Co fleece tights

and a 3/4 length HalfTee

Halftee

that is sure to help keep you toasty.

Now, pick a skirt. For the holidays, dark is always dressy and tends to not show those inevitable stains. (I’m a klutz and so are my children. If I don’t spill it on myself, one of them will.) My favorite skirts are from http://www.hannahlise.com/categories/Misses’/Skirt so nice and look good for YEARS. They are only $25 and I have several. Some I got from their sale page for less. If you’d like to be a bit more casual, I have the http://www.hannahlise.com/v-yoke-denim-skirt/ and I love it. It’s full, flowy, and flattering. I’ve had lots of complements when I wear it.

Next, a top. Usually, I like a simple t-shirt with a decorative vest, long sleeve shirt, or pretty sweater. This year I found some beautiful sweater-tops on sale that I’m looking forward to wearing for the holidays. One is dark teal and the other is burgundy. Great holiday colors.

Last, accessories. Of course, Lilla Rose hair accessories are the best! If you have little ones, you’ll be taking a bag of some sort. Practicality is key in my thinking. I love Thirty-one bags! The seasonal prints are irresistible! Scarves are versatile and fun. And in winter, I like boots or comfortable loafers.

Whether you can purchase a new holiday outfit or have to dig through your closet this year, I hope these give you a few ideas. No doubt your style is quite different from mine, but you can use the same simple concepts to get YOUR look and feel fresh and feminine this holiday season. (Don’t forget to put on your apron! I never remember until the first powdering of flour is already on me…)

Have Blessed Holidays!

Dawnita Fogleman is a fifth generation Oklahoma Panhandle Pioneer. She and her husband, Paul, have six amazing children. They have homeschooled from the start and now have two graduated and starting their own businesses. With the family business and their little farm every day is a surprise. Dawnita blogs about life on the “funny farm” at FoglemanForerunner.com.

The post Modest Monday: Holiday Outfit Ideas!!! appeared first on Raising Soldiers 4 Christ.

Nov 16

The Birthday Ballons

A couple of days ago my youngest celebrated his 5th Birthday.  It was a simple affair. There wasn't a party at the local bounce house place or at the high priced amusement palace for kids. It was celebrated with people who matter the most to this child and in a way that helped him celebrate on his terms.

As a non verbal child, that has a host of interesting quirks, the mainstream idea of birthday parties for children doesn't work for him. He is happy to celebrate his birthday in a way that makes him feel happy and loved, not overloaded and over stimulated. For him, a small cake and balloons were what made that child's day.

Now, I don't expect the outside world to understand that. I just don't. And some might view my approach to birthday parties with autism a bit lax. A day where he can get balloons, cake and presents to unwrap. Its a day he knows that people who love him, come together, and make him feel special. And just because We don't do what the norm does on birthdays, doesn't mean that thought wasn't put into this child's special day.  

My son loves balloons. Balloons with his favorite things on them. Trains, school buses, Sesame Street, colourful ones and ones that sing. And if that was all he got for his birthday, that kid would be golden. Its a very simple thing.But he loves them. But he knows that something special is going to happen to him, when he sees balloons. So on his birthday, I take him to the grocery store for him to get his birthday balloons. This kid knows as soon as we get to where the helium tanks are that special things are coming to him. The shopping cart is practically vibrating. For me as a parent, there is nothing more special than to see your child in absolute sheer joy over something as simple as mylar balloons. And the balloon lady knows who we are. She takes the time to make sure that there is lots of ribbon and makes lots of curls as she knows that he is fascinated with them. Once he has his treasure, we continue  on our way. And yes I am the parent that is doing the rest of her shopping with a child that very loudly expressing his total joy over his balloons. To be honest, I don't care how everyone else sees that. But its the comments that get to me.

"Does he even realize it's his birthday?"

" Oh it must be so hard not to be able to throw him a party like the other kids."

Here's the thing. People celebrate things differently. Autistic persons, are no different. Some people are low key and some people aren't. But to sit there and ask me if my child even recognizes his own birthday, well he does. Just in his own way. No he doesn't understand age, but honestly, what child does at this stage in life? And its not hard to throw him a party, where he feels special. So what if it is a party of the four most important people in his life, surrounded by the things he loves in a place that he feels comfortable in.

Celebrating a person's life on this planet, should be about them. And if that means you buy them an ungodly amount of balloons, as that is what gives them the most joy on their special day, then so be it.

My son celebrated his 5th birthday in a way that was easy for him. He knew he was loved. And at the end of the day, that is all that matters.


Nov 16

Shared Bedroom, Whaaaat?

It’s been over a month now, so I’m making it blog official. This is still crazy to me, and no surprise to you if you follow me on other social media channels, but I felt like I needed to document it here. It came totally by surprise. I had no plans to transition The Bean out of the crib and into a bed. I mean, we only moved The Munchkin out of there because The Bean was going to be born, and that was a nightmare. So, I was planning on waiting at least all year, if I could, since The Bean didn’t seem to mind the crib, and wasn’t climbing out or anything.

mommy-panda-blog-shared-bedroom

Back in August, he would occasionally express interest in sleeping in the bottom bunk (maybe two or three times?) but wouldn’t last for more than 30 minutes before getting out of the room and trying to play. Then, one night in early October, he said “No. Bed.” At first, I thought that he was saying that he didn’t want to go to bed, so I told him it was bedtime, and put him in the crib. He stood up, and said “No crib, bed!” and I realized that he wanted to sleep in the bed in The Munchkin’s room. I put him in the bed, fully expecting him to climb out and goof off a little later… except that he didn’t. He fell right to sleep. And continued to do so every night since then.

I couldn’t believe it was so easy this time around. Sure, he stalls like you wouldn’t believe, and I’ve actually had to replace time outs with “You’re sleeping in the crib tonight” as punishment for stalling, since he seems to like time outs at night… but other than that, easy!

After a week or two of successful big bed sleeping, I moved The Bean’s train table into the room, and it started becoming their room. I’m having a little bit of a problem figuring out how to merge Peanuts and Mario themed rooms, but other than that, I have no complaints!

Best of all, he still naps in the crib during the day. When The Munchkin transferred to the big boy bed, naps ended, so I was a little worried, but The Bean still loves his naps, so whew. I hope those stick around for quite a while longer.

mommy-panda-blog-shared-bedroom2

The bedtime routine for a while was pretty detailed, and almost comical, but luckily they seemed to have eased up their demands. At one point, besides all the diapers and PJs and what not, they also needed a story each, a graham cracker each, a sippy cup with water, multiple hugs and kisses, The Bean needed his binky, and The Munchkin needed a towel. (In case his sippy cup leaked.) As of now, they’ve dropped the water and graham cracker requirement, and as such, The Munchkin doesn’t need that towel. It doesn’t seem like they stopped much, but it oddly enough makes all the difference!

With it getting dark earlier now, they go to bed earlier too, which is amazeballs. Total amazeballs. I’m just doing happy dances all over the place, you guys.

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