Our Special Christmas Announcement!

It feels so special to be able to share this news during the Christmas season when you are dwelling on the birth of baby Jesus.

We are expecting a baby!

*Insert squeals and shouts for joy*

Baby Allen #7 is due in August and we are all so excited to welcome a new little baby into our home!

We tried to let Sophia announce it to family by wearing this shirt, but they totally didn’t get it. They thought it was just a hand me down shirt she was wearing. Ha! Our children finally sang them a cute little song they had made up about the baby coming. It was really sweet!

For those of you who remember my pregnancy journey with Sophia, I am on Progesterone again. We have come to realize it’s the only way that I can carry a baby now. I had my first ever really early miscarriage earlier this year, and after testing my progesterone levels they were horribly low and just unable to sustain a pregnancy.

I’m incredibly thankful for the Doctor that takes care of me (he works along with my midwife but he is my care provider managing my medicine). I have been going for weekly blood draws and we have had to tweak my medicine and add more, but so far I’ve managed to avoid doing the Progesterone shots. Praise God! I wasn’t sure if I could go through another pregnancy doing those horribly painful shots.

For those of you who are curious, or think we have totally lost our mind to be adding a 7th baby to our family, here are some fun facts. 

We already have a 12 passenger Ford Transit van, so we have plenty of room to add another car seat!

Since we just moved to a larger house, 2 children are in each bedroom. We have a huge unfinished basement and plan on finishing a bedroom downstairs at some point, and will probably move our boys down there when they are little older. So we have plenty of room for one more!

I always wanted a large family. All through high school I said I wanted 12 children (not my current goal!). Sean never once thought about how many children he wanted, but I’m so thankful that he loves children and wants a large family as well!

We don’t have children based on our finances. This is such common concern and a big reason behind why families don’t have more children. Our children have so many more things compared to what I had growing up, and they are happy and healthy. We don’t plan on paying their way through college, but besides that every need is provided for and lots of extras.

Yes, we really wanted this child. It wasn’t an accident or a surprise.

The children are all hoping it’s a boy, but we are ok either way!

 

Let’s Admit It – Motherhood Is Messy

I’m a second generation homeschooler. I’ve never been in a classroom and have no intentions of putting my children in private or public school.

But last week I seriously looked up the private schools in my area that I would consider sending one of my children to. At $10,000 a year the answer was a firm no. I think every family has that one child that stretches them and pushes all the buttons as a parent, and last week I was at that breaking point.

I had high hopes of our new house being perfectly clean and beautiful. My children have decided the living room is their favorite place to do school and by the end of the day it’s a royal disaster.

Dirty diapers, mounds of laundry, dishes and more dishes – the life of a mother is busy all the time!

After 14 years of being a mother I’m learning something more and more.

Motherhood is messy. 

It’s intense and truly a battle. It’s harder than many paying jobs but you get no monetary reward.

Most of the time it doesn’t look like the fairy tales, or the lovely visions that Sally Clarkson so elegantly weaves together in her book. Homeschooling is not full of happy children sitting on the couch while mom reads aloud the Charlotte Mason books in a perfectly clean house and then afterwards go on the nature walk and watercolor.

That doesn’t mean that you are doing something wrong. 

I feel like I’ve written these posts before on the blog, but I keep hearing of mothers who feel like I do over and over again.

You feel desperately inadequate. You feel like no matter how hard you try, you fall into bed each night feeling defeated, exhausted, and not wanting the next day to come. Because you end each night so discouraged the next day starts late, and the nasty cycle goes on and on.

A scripture verse really stood out to me in Sunday school last week. We were reading in 2 Timothy 3 and one part made me really stop and think.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Those verses made me stop and wonder if our job as parents are more difficult because of the perilous days we live in.

Children can be so very difficult to parent. It can be easy to cast blame on the parent when a child goes astray, but a parent can pour their whole life into raising a child up in the way they should go and they still choose a different path. I’ve witnessed it in my own family, my sister and brother and I were all raised the same but my brother has chosen a very different path than my sister and I.

If you feel defeated as a mother right now, trying to raise that terribly difficult child, stop and consider what things in your family need to change. Do you need to turn off the tv, unplug the gaming systems, evaluate what books they are reading and what friends they have? Or have you done all of that and you still can’t seem to get through to your children?

 

Then it’s time to simply pray and keep pressing on, trying to be the very best mother you can be. Yes, you will lose your temper at times. You will go to bed and know that you could have done better that day. But you also can rest knowing that your child is ultimately in God’s hands, and they have their own agency to do with what they will. You can’t force your 16 year old child to have a walk with God. They have to hunger and thirst after that.

Set rules, be firm on those rules, mother in love, pour into them time and attention but don’t do everything for them, and create an environment in your home that would welcome the Lord to be there. Have a vision of what type of adult you are trying to raise, yet knowing that they have their own vision as well. You can’t force your child to have a personality that is different then the one they have.

I’d love to share some of resources that are encouraging to me as a mother right now below.

https://characterbadges.com/shop/character-badges-complete-set

Character Badges – Some parents desperately need to establish more routine in their home that the child can count on. Character Badges helps the parents train their children in good character and correct the poor behavior. Sean created it when our family needed help years ago, and then made it available for other families. This is good for children ages 3-12. Our youngest is so excited about starting this in the spring when she turns 3!

You can get free shipping in the USA with the code MODESTMOM through Thursday, December 21st.

The Life Giving Home (and anything else by Sally Clarkson) – This book will give you a vision of what a thriving, loving home can look like. I highly recommend it!

Hello Mornings: How to Build A Grace-Filled, Life-Giving Morning Routine – This is a brand new book by Kat Lee and I’m enjoying it so much! I was reading it during cello lessons yesterday and trying not to cry right there in front of my son and his teacher! I honestly haven’t even gotten to the point of how to have a good morning routine. The first few chapters about her journey into motherhood has touched me.

Why Motherhood matters: An Invitation To Purposeful Parenting – Again, I haven’t read all of this book yet, but you should be warned that I did cry ugly tears over part of this book. This one speaks to the heart and it’s very encouraging!

The Intentional Mom’s ToolkitThis is a new resource that I’m loving. Would you like someone else to tell you what meals to make, what your daily scripture reading should be, a home chart checklist (no more thinking up what chores need done each day!), and more? This is a monthly resource that is emailed to you, and I think it’s an excellent idea to help busy moms! It comes with 20 meals and the recipes, a budget page, and family connection ideas.

Blessings on your mothering journey as you press on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Shabby Chic Baby Shower!

My sister and brother in law (who is my double brother in law, my older sister married my husband’s younger brother!) recently were incredibly blessed to adopt a newborn little girl. They have not been able to have biological children, so they now have 3 beautiful children that are in their family through adoption. They adopted twins as toddlers, but also really wanted to experience life with a baby from the beginning.

They had to wait a long time, pray, and almost give up hope before my sister received the call that they were matched with a birth mom the day before her 40th birthday! Talk about an amazing birthday gift.

I knew that I wanted to put on a baby shower, and not just any old baby shower. It had to be absolutely perfect for this day.

My sister loves roses, and so I went with a Shabby Chic Floral theme for the shower.

Baby shower for my sister and her new little girl. We did a shabby chic floral theme!

My sister (wearing the floral maxi dress from Deborah & Co.) and her new little daughter! I put pink tulle up behind her and then hung white lights up between the tulle. They had some amazing newborn pictures taken that were available right before the shower, so I framed one of the pictures and hung it at the top.

The baby quilt behind the rocking chair was my mom’s baby quilt (who passed away seven years ago, we miss her so much). I tried to put little touches of my mom out as much as I could. I used her candlesticks on the mantel, I put a picture of her out in the kitchen, and my sister and I both thought about her a lot that day. It was so hard. She would have been crying tears of joy that day to see my sister finally holding a baby in her arms!

Floral Tepee for a shabby chic baby shower.

I had this crazy idea that I could pull off every project I had in mind, but I finally admitted defeat and called my mother in law! She is really crafty, and when I told her I wanted to make a lace tepee to put all the gifts in (and then later use it as a reading nook for my girls in their room) she jumped right in and said she would make it! Sean cut out the poles for her, and she painted them, drilled holes and connected the tepee together with white rope, and then draped the lace around the poles. Some pretty flowers went on top! I love how it turned out!

Baby Shower Tables set up for girls to eat.

We had 50 people come to the shower, and almost half of that number was girls. I didn’t want them eating in the living room with carpet, so I set up these tables in our dining rooms that has wood floors and they ate there. It was perfect!

You can clearly see we are not done with our dining room! That back wall is going to have white shiplap on it, and my grand piano will go in here, along with a table that Sean is going to build for us. It’s going to be amazing one day, once we get all these projects done and trim up.

This was the dessert table, and it was fun to decorate. I used my letter board to write a message out about Anna, and then put pictures on the table from the photo shoot they had. I taped white paper lanterns to the ceiling, and found a picture at Hobby Lobby that said “Such a Big Miracle in Such a Little Girl” and put my first nail in my newly painted walls to hang it up. Ha! It was a big deal to all of us. We worked so hard to get all the wallpaper down!

Dessert time!

I made brownies but put them in little mini muffin pans for a brownie bite. And isn’t my niece adorable?!!!

Mini cheesecake bites and cream puffs, plus we had a chocolate cake.

For food I had:

Croussant rolls with chicken salad or deli meat and cheese.

Mini Quiches

Cheese and Crackers

Veggie Tray

Build your own Yogurt Parfait (greek yogurt, berry blend and granola to top), they put in small pink containers.

And then we had Passion Tea and water.

I have a drawer that needs fixed. I’m married to a cabinet maker…but you know how that goes. It’s on the list of things to do. 🙂

I passed out these baby favors when people left. I found the little boxes on Amazon and filled them with yummy chocolate from Costco.

I put together this activity for the younger girls to do while the moms were writing advice down for Jennifer that we put in a beautiful rose theme scrapbook. They used the Sharpie markers to write fun things on the diapers. Honestly though….I’m not sure if she will be able to use the diapers. A mom said she had marked the size on a package of diapers with a sharpie marker and it bled through to the clothes. :/

This isn’t the best picture but I had to cut out some ladies sitting below the mantle because I didn’t have permission to post their pictures on the blog. 🙂 We whitewashed our mantle, and I love how it turned out! I framed a large picture of Jennifer and Anna, and then had pink candlesticks on the mantle along with these white rose lights I found at Target.

I had so much fun putting this all together for my sister and I’m thankful for all of our friends who came and blessed her with a lot of nice gifts for her new daughter!

If you want to read more about their adoption journey, you can read these two posts. 

An Adoption Story Written By God!

Adoption Fundraiser post that has their infertility story. 

 

 

 

5 Ways To Help Your Child Sit Still In Church

You might be feeling like I do right now…that it feels like a dream when you actually get to sit in a church service and participate. I’m on my sixth toddler, without huge breaks in-between each toddler. There is hope though…I’m going to share with you 5 ways to help your child sit still in church and hopefully in time you can get back in that church service!

There are so many different opinions out there on teaching a young child to sit still. Some expect a child to sit still in church by the age of 1. Others think it’s amazing if a 5 year old can sit still.

I’m here to tell you there is no one-age-fits-all standard.

 5 ways to Teach a Toddler To Sit Still In Church! It can be frustrating as a parent to want to sit in church and listen to the message, but as parents of younger children it's not always possible. We are currently training our sixth child to sit still in church, and here are some tips!

Children have such different personalities that it’s really not fair to expect every child to be ready to sit still for 1-2 hours in church by the same age. I’ll tell you what’s normal for our family, and you might be horrified that we wait so late, or you might think we are crazy for trying so young.

It’s really subjective to what your own standard is, but my goal is not to be the model poster family for getting our children to sit still in church.

Years ago we used to be super firm about getting our children to sit still at a young age. We would take them out and spank them, make them sit still on our lap in another room; they would cry and cry….and make our Sunday morning pretty miserable.

Guess what? They all pretty much started sitting still around the same time whether we took them out and corrected them or not. For our family that is around 3 years old.

Here are 5 tips and tricks for teaching children to sit still.

Have sit time at home.

You want a moment of honesty? This is incredibly hard for us to do in our season of life. When we only had 1 or 2 children this was a huge priority.  Now that we have six children it’s not on my daily to do list. I’m trying to get all the homeschooling in each day, and I just don’t have 30 minutes for daily sit time practice.

Other excellent times are family devotions, however our youngest has screamed (very loudly) during those times. Her personality is intense, so those times have not worked.

If you don’t have a toddler with an intense personality (some might call it strong willed), then family devotions or when you sit down to read a book to your older children is an excellent time to grab that child and let them practice sitting on your lap. You know your child so only you can determine if it’s a good time.

When my oldest three children were younger I had a wooden bench that I bring into the living room and have them sit there while I read to them. They knew it was a learning time to practice sitting for church, but they also were able to listen to mama read to them.

Set Realistic Goals

Some people might think I’m stepping on some toes here, but I’d like to beg of you not to take your 12 month old out of church multiple times to spank them.  I’d venture to guess that if you just give that baby some more time they will learn to sit. I speak from experience here as a mother who has tried to follow all the parenting books that give the perfect way to teach a baby to sit still. It doesn’t always work like the books say.

Parenting requires a lot of patience. I’ve definitely had my patience tested with our current 2 year old, and all my friends heard about it when she finally sat in a church service. I was so excited that I had to share!

Your goals can be more optimistic for your toddler who is a very calm, peaceful baby. They need to be adjusted for the super active toddler who might take a little bit more time.

Go Sit Somewhere Else

Can you sit in the balcony at church? Is there a room where you can still see the service but not be in the sanctuary? Can you walk the child around but still hear the message?

At some point you have to feed yourself spiritually as a mother. If it means you are walking the child around to keep him/her happy so you can hear the sermon, that’s what has to happen. I’ve had some Sundays where my main goal was to focus on training my child. Other Sundays I desperately needed the encouragement of listening to a sermon, so I knew I would be walking the child around so I could hear.

I’ve even brought my Tula carrier to church and carried our youngest in that, just to give my arms a break.

Whatever you do, try to avoid the nursery full of toys if you are in the middle of teaching them to sit still. Right now I’m trying hard not to bring Sophia in the nursery, but instead take her to an overflow room that has a tv to watch the service so she is still learning we have to sit. When you take them to the nursery any sort of training for the day is gone when they see the toys. 🙂 If it’s a younger child and your goal is not for them to sit still yet, by all means use the nursery if need be.

Bring a Church bag

I have a special bag that I’m using just for Sophia right now. It’s full of quiet activities that keep her busy in church. I will say you really have to know the personality of your child when you decide on bringing a busy bag along. For some of my children it just made it worse. They became so distracted with everything that they never sat still and it was easier to just train them to sit on my lap.

Sophia is so incredibly busy that this slows her down, and we managed to make it through a Sunday morning and Sunday evening service in church recently! I was thrilled. 🙂

Matilda Jane Bag for quiet time bag at church.

I found a steal of a deal on this Matilda Jane Messenger bag this year! Normally a $75 bag, I got it brand new for $15! This is our church bag, and I love carrying it because it’s so pretty! 

Here are things I put in a church bag:

Coloring books – I’ve found that the smaller the coloring book, the easier it is for a toddler to quietly use it in church. Here is a cute coloring book that is a smaller size for a toddler.

Melissa and Doug Water Wow Books – These are the best ever! Just make sure the little water pen is full and this will keep your child busy! Sophia loves the one she has and I’m getting her more for Christmas.

Sticker Books – This keeps Sophia busy for quite awhile! She loves putting stickers on her hands and arms, and on paper. Then she peels them off and puts them back on her hands. Anything to keep her busy and quiet! You could look at the dollar store to stock up on inexpensive stickers.

Board Books – Sophia absolutely loves the Fisher-Price Little People books. I’ve tried different books and these by far keep her quiet and busy the longest. She loves all the flaps to lift up and every page has so many different pictures for her to look at. I definitely recommend these books for church! You can see the whole list of the Little People books here.

Magnetic Dolls – Don’t bring the whole set along as that could get overwhelming. I have picked out one magnetic doll and a handful of clothes to bring along, just enough to keep her busy without dropping tons of pieces and sorting through a whole box of clothes.

Notepad and crayons – Sometimes they just want to doodle on plain white paper! Don’t forget to throw in a simple notepad in the bag.

Matilda Jane Quiet Time Bag for Church.

The important thing is to not let your toddler be in control of the bag, and only get one thing out at a time! If the toddler has the bag they are easily distracted and they start pulling out all the toys at once.

We don’t do snacks in church when they are toddlers, it’s just what our family has decided on.

Teach them to sit still on your lap and on the pew.

I’m finding that my five year old is struggling to sit still in church right now. We recently started attending a new church and we don’t have our extended family there. She used to sit on her Aunt or Nana’s lap almost every service, and now that she doesn’t have that it’s a struggle for her.

Make sure that as they get older they can quietly sit next to you, as well as on your lap. Snuggles are lovely, but if you are having more babies you really need that older one to sit still in a pew.

Encourage the Positive Behavior

If you are teaching an older child to sit still make sure you encourage the positive behavior instead of just threatening what their punishment will be if they don’t sit still. Using the Little Character Badges chart for children ages 3-5 is an excellent way to do this! Use the empty line on the chart to write the goal for the child, and encourage them through daily sit time at home.

Little Character Badges Chart for children ages 3-5.

I hope this gives you some ideas! Teaching children to sit still doesn’t happen overnight – it takes a lot of hard work but the end result is worth it! 

If you liked this post, pin it to Pinterest to share with others! 🙂

5 ways to Teach a Toddler To Sit Still In Church! It can be frustrating as a parent to want to sit in church and listen to the message, but as parents of younger children it's not always possible. We are currently training our sixth child to sit still in church, and here are some tips!