Parenting Book Challenge Update – Parenting On Your Knees: Prayers and Practical Guidance for the Preschool Years

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Well, the website that I was doing this challenge on has since disappeared, but I’m still going to try to read 6 to 8 parenting books anyways. Because while I like reading, these challenges really push me to make time for it and get me reading perhaps some new and different books that I may not have read before.

So I just finished up my third book, Parenting on Your Knees: Prayers and Practical Advice for the Preschool Years by Vicki Tiede. This was another free Kindle download because when I see a book to download for free, it’s hard to resist downloading anything that even sounds remotely good. You find some good ones and you find some not so good ones. Just part of the process. It’s currently $4.99 Kindle, $13.49 paperback, or free on Kindle Unlimited.

I will have to be honest here. I only found this book to be so so. There were some parts of it I really liked. I thought the prayers Parenting On Your Knees: Prayers and Practical Guidance for the Preschool Yearswere well written and for the most part, found the chapters on character encouraging and helpful. However, once I got into the chapters on development, social skills, and behavior, I was less impressed. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with some of the advice. But what I don’t like is when people take advice that’s neither here nor there and attach it to the Bible as the right thing to do. Example: how to potty train. The Bible really doesn’t give a lowdown on the way to potty train as long as you’re not sinning in the process. I also didn’t like the end about salvation. It was definitely decision theology and it totally neglected the power of infant baptism. So overall, I’d probably not recommend it.

3 more to go! Oh and Happy Independence Day if you live in the States! We enjoyed a low-key day at home here, with blue Jell-O in red Solo cups. It was all good though, it allowed me to get caught up some on my housework and to finish reading this book!

Slowing Down – ETHANProject Enjoy the Sky

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Wow, this summer is just flying by! I can’t believe it is July already and that we’re already halfway through the ETHANProject.

ETHANProject Enjoy the Sky Challenge

I have to admit that I didn’t come up with anything terribly original for this week. I just took a towel outside and laid on the grass looking up at the sky. I tried to get Dominic to lay with me, but that only lasted about 15 seconds before he just played in the yard. It was nice though, just to slow down. I don’t always take Dominic outside without specific plans because that’s just my comfort level. But he really enjoys this. I need to remember that more and do that more in the future. Unstructured, outside play time. It’s good for them. Allen really enjoyed the day too, even though I have to take things out of his mouth every second.

Allen Enjoy the SkyI really enjoyed these posts from last week about enjoying the water.

Enjoy the Sky ETHANProject

See you soon!

My Comfort Zone

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Your comfort zone

Someone in one of my Facebook groups made this image – I wish I remembered who – but it’s perfect for this post.

Anyways, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of SuperBetter but this has been an ongoing thing that I’ve been taking part in, based on this awesome TED talk. And I really do like it – I feel like I’ve grown and that it helps me to be more self aware and that it pushes me.

Anyways, today one of my quests told me that I should write a journal or an e-mail to a friend about my comfort zone. Well, I decided that if I wrote a blog about it, that would be in the spirit of the quest as well.

Everyone, I think, has a comfort zone. And it’s not a bad thing. I think we need a comfort zone to survive and to feel safe. But sometimes we can get stuck in our comfort zone, too afraid to step out.

If I am honest, I like to stay in my comfort zone. I like it quite a lot. I like to do the same old same old. And I like to stay close to home. I feel awkward about making small talk and am afraid sometimes of just initiating conversation with people because I feel like Ack! What will I say?? What will they think of me??

But the majority of the time, stepping out of my comfort zone feels good. That’s part of what I do when I run this blog and do my challenges. Those largely help to push me out of my eating/reading/watching/living/thinking comfort zones. And I feel especially good when I step out of my comfort zone and talk to people. Today I had the awesome pleasure of attending the Birth Without Fear Meetup here in Milwaukee. And I got to talk and connect with some awesome mammas. I shared some things I don’t normally share. I cried. I laughed. And I felt community. I felt connection. All because I took the risk to go in the first place, then took the risk to talk to people, then took the risk to open up. And it was worth it.

Sometimes, stepping out of my comfort zone isn’t worth it. Sometimes I face some backlash or hurt or mean words. Some choices don’t work out. But more often than not, stepping out of my comfort zone leads to new discoveries about myself, the people around me, and the world. And most of the time, I am really glad that I did it. So, then, why is it still so scary? The unknown, I think. Our comfort zone is what is known and the stepping out – that’s the variable. But most of the time? It’s been worth it. It’s been so very, very worth it.

So I hope some day when I’m feeling like I shouldn’t step out of my comfort zone, that I shouldn’t rock my own boat because I might fall out. But even if I fall out, sometimes the fish that you see underwater are amazing. You can’t always see them from the boat.

What about you? Tell me about your comfort zones and what it feels like when you step outside them.

How Enjoying Water Made Me Appreciate the Little Things (ETHANProject)

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Another week, another ETHANProject Post. I have loved how this project has helped me grow, not only as a blogger, but in my personal life as well. It’s pushing me to do things that I’ve thought about doing but haven’t done or things that I might not normally do. One of the best things about this challenge is that it has been getting me outdoors more. I am 100 percent not an outdoorsy person. Today’s challenge is no exception!

This week’s challenge is Enjoy Water!

ETHANProject Challenge Enjoy Water! We got out and had some fun with water balloons! Dominic got some water balloons for his 3rd birthday and I got some more from my sister that she wasn’t using, so I decided they would be perfect for the enjoy water challenge.

Enjoy Water CollageLet me tell you something I learned out of this. Water balloons are hard to tie. Like ridiculously so. I thought for a moment we were going to have to quit before I got even one done because I could not get it tied. Eventually I did, I tied some, but I also just gave some to Dominic to squirt out – which he had just as much fun with, if not more, than the tied ones, because he doesn’t really have the strength to throw them yet in a way that makes it fun. I tried to get him to throw them at me, but he just came over and basically dropped them on my arm, at which point they fell to the ground and then burst. So the squirting was a lot more fun for him.

This made me think though and I came up with a list. These are things which I either didn’t appreciate as a kid or that I under-appreciated and I’ve recognized it now that I have my own kids.

5 Things I Did Not Appreciate Enough As a Kid

1. All the water balloons at church picnics. Guys, someone tied allllllll those water balloons for church picnics. And that is not a small amount of water balloons. And it was probably not easy. That is a labor of love to the kids who are going to go through them in probably less time than it took to tie all of them. Thanks, water balloon tiers.

2. All the times my parents took care of me when I was sick or injured. It is totally exhausting and stressful taking care of a sick kid and I don’t think I fully realized this until now. So thanks mom and dad. Also, sorry about that time I puked in the sink because I always heard you should go to the bathroom if you needed to throw up and I thought that you were supposed to puke in the sink, not the toilet. So sorry you had to clean that up.

3. Helping babies sleep. It can be hard, really hard, and I know my dad used to drive around with me in the car to get me to sleep. Thanks for helping me get the rest I needed to grow.

4. All of my diapers that they changed. And potty training me. Enough said.

5. Just how much they loved me. I’m sorry to say that I took this love for granted. At times, I felt like my parents didn’t love me. And I told them that. And I now know how much that must have hurt them. I’m sorry, really and truly. Being a parent has made me realize just a small portion of the hard choices you have to make that your kid doesn’t like, how hard it is to be patient and loving and kind all the time, and just how deeply you truly love your children. I hope I never take it for granted again.

I realize after writing this that these are pretty big things. But they are and they aren’t at the same time. A lot of these are just things that you do as parents without thinking too much about it because you want what’s best for your kids and for them to be healthy.

Oh and this week happened to line up perfectly with us starting to study W for Water! We had some inside water play today too when it was threatening to storm.

Dominic and Allen with some indoor water play

Week 4 Graphic WATERLast week was Enjoy Flavor and we sure had a lot of fun with it! My favorite post is from Misty at Joy in the Journey when she blogged about Choosing to Enjoy the Flavor.

See you all next week!

Skunk Tales Winners!

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We have some winners for the Skunk Tales giveaway! Suzanne H. and Amanda G. you are the winners! Check your e-mail, I’ll be sending one out shortly, you’ll have 48 hours to respond!

If anyone else still wants a copy, you can check out the Skunk Tales website! Happy adventures!

Sausage, Rice, and Veggies (#ETHANProject Enjoy FLAVOR)

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I have been having just such a blast with this #ETHANProject! I look forward to sharing about it every week and I feel like it has been really beneficial for me.

This week is enjoy flavor! (If you need to do so, click on the picture to make it clearer!)

Week 3 Challenge ETHANProject Enjoy the FlavorSo, at first I was going to pick something off of my American foods challenge. So I picked sausage, peppers, and onions on a hoagie. And then two things happened. One, I am pretty sure that I ate this food at the church picnic last Sunday and two, I bought the wrong kind of sausage – oops!

But part of the goal is to make something that is new and fun and challenging. Well, for me, I am not a natural cook. I have really worked hard to learn how to cook, but I always, always stick to a recipe. I am not just a throw it together kind of a gal. But on Wednesday, I decided I would try just that. And that was how sausage, rice, and veggies was born.

Sausage, Rice, and Veggies

Sausage, Rice, and Veggies

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground sausage – your choice of heat (we prefer mild)
  • 1 cup corn (we used leftover corn, but you could use canned or frozen)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano added (we prefer the no salt added variety)
  • 2 tsp Wildtree Absolutely Onion seasoning (could substitute regular dried minced onions)
  • 1 pepper, diced – your choice of color (we used orange)
  • 2 cups instant rice
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

Brown sausage and pepper, drain if necessary. Meanwhile, prepare rice according to the directions. Add corn, tomatoes, and onion seasoning. Simmer for 5 minutes or as long as desired. Once rice is finished and you are done simmering, remove meat and veggie mixture from stove. Add rice and mix together. Top with parmesan cheese if desired.

Sausage, Rice, and VeggiesIt was a hit!

Allen enjoying sausage, rice, and veggies

I have been really trying to push myself in trying new things in the food realm the last couple of years. I am/was a picky eater and I have worked really, really hard to get better. I have so far yet to go, but I have made a ton of progress. Here are some of the other new flavors we tried this week.

Fresh cucumber and tomato saladTomato and cucumber salad from the Simply Summer cookbook. I only ate one tomato and one cucumber, but that’s progress. Baby steps. Baby steps. 2 years ago I wouldn’t have tried it at all. Oh and Allen loved this one too. Okay, that kid loves all food but still.

Firetruck snack

Firetruck snack from Motherhood on a Dime as we study F is for Fire! Dominic really loved this one.

Week 3 ETHANProject Enjoy the FLAVORHere are my favorite posts from last’s week, Enjoy the View.

Don’t forget, there’s still a few days left to enter my Skunk Tales Giveaway! It’s a great family devotional – I promise you’ll love it.

 

A Lesson in Flexibility (ETHANProject 2: Enjoy the VIEW)

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Welcome to ETHANProject part 2, Enjoy the View! Let’s jump right in!

ETHANProject Enjoy the View Challenge DescriptionWell, I had super great intentions for this week. We were going to go to the beach! We live right on Lake Michigan, but we almost never go. Mainly because I am not an outdoorsy person in the least bit. But I was trying to push myself to get out of my comfort zone and do something that I thought the three of us (Dominic, Allen, and me) would enjoy.

Well one of the downsides of sharing a car is that you can’t just get up and go. You have to pre-plan pretty much everything in your life. So this was the day I planned to go to the beach because I could get the car then.

So, we got there and I get out of the car. I sunscreen myself first. Then I get Dominic out and start changing him into his swimming suit. He’s all changed into his swimming suit and then it starts to rain. Oh. So I change Dominic out of his swimming suit and get him all buckled back in his carseat. I guess the beach will wait for a different day.

This is a picture I snapped when we first got there. At least I got to enjoy the view of the lake driving along it.

Lake Michigan at Bradford Beach Now, there was a time where I would have let this really upset me. Where I would have let my ruined plans make the whole rest of my day a bad day. Because it is disappointing, especially when I work really hard to get up early and get all our stuff together so we can take Nick to work. But, parenting has really been helping to teach me a lesson in going with the flow. Especially with having two kids, you can plan the best you want, but things don’t always go that way. So, I said, what could I do with this rainy day? I thought, well, there’s a mall nearby with an indoor play space, I bet my kids would like that just as much.

And I was right. Allen climbing on a fish

Dominic on a train slide

 

What's that noise mom? They were doing construction next door.

“What’s that noise mom?” They were doing construction next door.

ETHANProject #2 Enjoy the View

P.S. Don’t forget to enter my Skunk Tales giveaway! This is a great family devotional! Also, feel free to share your stories with me about how you enjoy the view – I’d love to feature them!

 

Skunk Tales Giveaway!

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So, do you remember when I reviewed Skunk Tales a little while back? I’m pleased to say that Lynn Marie has graciously offered me not just 1 copy to give away, but two! That means for this giveaway there will be two winners!

downloadSkunk Tales is a great family devotional and I know it will bless any family who receives it. Lynn Marie uses her many life experiences (including with skunks!) to help teach children to see God all around them in their lives and how he can work out challenges for our good in this family devotional. Every devotion has a fun fact, discussion questions, scripture verses, song suggestions, activity suggestions, practical application suggestions, an idiom to learn about, and a prayer idea.

Don’t want to wait to see if you are the winner? You can buy your own copy here or on Amazon.

Giveaway will run through June 24th and then I will get the book to you ASAP! Winners will have 48 hours to respond to my e-mail. Open to 18+, US only.

Skunk Tales Giveaway!

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Extending Friendship to New Moms (ETHANProject #1: Enjoy Friendship)

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If you’re not familiar with the ETHANProject (Enjoy the Here and Now), you can catch up by reading the introduction post here

I’m excited for the first challenge of the ETHANProject! This week’s challenge is enjoy friendship. So let’s dive right in!Enjoy Friendship Challenge DescriptionVery soon, I will be enjoying friendship with my good friend who is going to be a mom for the first time! And that’s all I’m saying on the matter, because . . . well, you’ll see in a moment when I explain four ways to encourage your friends who are pregnant with their first child!

4 Ways to Encourage Your First Time Mom Friend

When I was pregnant with Dominic, I was pretty young. As a result, I didn’t have a ton of friends who were already moms. That has its downsides and its upsides, but one of the upsides is that now I get to watch the friends I had before become moms for the first time. That’s more special to me now than it would have been before I had kids. But let’s be real, I don’t know about you, but when I was a mom for the first time, it was sometimes scary! So here are four ways that you can encourage your friends as they become moms for the first time.

1. Let them share. If you’ll notice, I was very brief on the details about my meeting with my friend. Why? Because I don’t want anyone to figure out who it is I’m talking about. It’s her pregnancy, she should be the one to announce it. Same goes with labor details. If she tells you she is in labor/has had the baby, assume that is not your news to share. And don’t post congratulations on her Facebook wall – people can figure things out from that! Wait to say anything publicly until she herself announces it unless you have explicit permission. I know you’re excited for them, but imagine how you would feel if someone else told everyone else your very special news before you did.

2. Let them feel. Everyone feels different during pregnancy. You can feel wonderful and excited. Or you can feel nervous and scared. Or you can feel everything all at once! There’s not a right and wrong way to feel. We feel what we feel. However, there can often be immense pressure on pregnant women to only feel the positive emotions. Be a safe place for your friend to express whatever emotions she is feeling and be supportive of her – don’t dismiss anyone doubts and fears that she might have. Those are real feelings that she needs to work through too.

3. Let them ask. Sometimes when you are a first time mom you have a lot of questions. Let them know that you are a safe place to ask questions and there are no dumb questions. I try to be this person for my friends because sometimes I know there are just things you need to know but you feel silly asking your mom or your care provider. Or sometimes you just want to know what it was like for someone else.

4. Don’t tell them freaky stories. I don’t know why, but multiple people felt the need to tell me about their cousin’s uncle’s sister’s friend’s daughter’s hidden twin. You know, where there were two babies but the second baby hid behind the first during the ultrasound the whole time? Yeah, things like that totally freaked me out when I was pregnant. Same as labor horror stories. Now if your friend asks you what it was like, be honest. But there’s a way to be honest in a kind way and there’s a way to be honest in a scary way. Don’t be scary. Be truthful but be kind about it. Don’t say things like, “You will never sleep again.” Cause it’s not true. You do eventually sleep again and there’s no reason to freak your friend out.

So there you have it. What are you best tips for encouraging your friends as they become moms for the first time?

Enjoy Friendship EthanProject Challenge

photo credit: via photopin via flickr (license). Text added by me.

Kicking Off the Summer with #ETHANProject

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I have to admit that I love the warmer weather. But the summer can be a challenging time for me. For one thing, I feel like I should be spending more time outside during the summer, especially since we only have limited nice time in Wisconsin before winter rolls around again and Dominic certainly loves being outside. But I am not really the outdoorsy type of gal (I know, you never would have guessed). The other problem is that summer can be overwhelming with all the things there are to do! There are so many festivals and awesome events going around in our city sometimes it’s hard not to just let it go if you aren’t doing all the things. In the month of June alone I (and my family) have a wedding, Father’s Day, family pictures, Awake and Alive, and the Birth Without Fear Meet Up.

Ethan Project Kick Off Summer 2015

Enter the ETHANProject. I know I already talked about this some in my review of the kit, but guess what? It is time to kick it off! It is time to officially start the ETHANProject. And I couldn’t be more excited. There’s a fabulous group of ladies on board and we are going to have ten weeks of awesome activities that I’ll be inviting you to participate in. The goal is every week to set aside one day to do something creative and fun and to think outside of the box to enjoy your summer!

The purpose of the #ETHANproject (ENJOY the HERE and NOW Project) is to inspire your creativity, motivate you to be a better mom and support you through the summer months. There will also be a weekly link-up so be sure to check GroundedAndSurrounded.com every Friday for the blogger link-up and to see a re-cap of our favorite photos & stories from the week!

I personally think that everyone could benefit from doing the ETHANProject challenge, because it’s a great way to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. I think we can be stuck in ruts and do the same things over and over again, but it is new experiences that grow us the most. Life can be an awesome experience full of personal growth and learning, but only when we are willing to step outside of our comfort zone and try new things. Rebecca over at Letters from Sunnybrook asks “What’s Your Meaningful?” And I think for me, spending time with my family is my meaningful as well as trying new things, so the ETHANProject is definitely going to be helpful for me in those regards.

So check out the schedule below and tell me what week you are looking forward to the most!

Ethan Project Schedule

If you want to be even more in-depth involved with the ETHANProject, you should definitely join the Facebook group. All summer long there will be idea sharing. One of the things that I really love about the internet is how it has been able to bring us together to share ideas and this Facebook group is one of the great ways to get ideas. And if you are a blogger, consider purchasing the ETHANProject Blogger Kit (Note: I have previously reviewed the kit here after I received it for free). The more involvement, the more we all benefit. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

 

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