Working on Something new!

Hi Everyone! I am back!

I want to take a minute to apologize for how quiet it has been here the past year, but I have been working on relaunching this blog with a whole different feel. So bare with me as I reconstruct this site, and start adding some new content!

Some fun things to look forward to is that I will be doing a weekly devotional you can follow along with. We will set a monthly theme and there will be a new devotional daily to help bring your mind and body closer to GOD! We will gear this towards mommies and woman at first, then start branching out.

If you follow me on social media make sure to look for my update that this site is ready! If you do not follow me, make sure to!

See you all soon!

Teens, Apps, and What to Look For….

This is a topic that I am super passionate about. It not only affects our family personally, it affects so many other families, most do not even know they have a problem. Today we are going to talk about kids and dangerous apps that you need to be looking out for.

In a world where everything is at our fingertips, it is hard to remember what the world was like before phones, devices, and social media. I scroll through Facebook way more than I should, and my phone is never to far away. This is something I personally am going to start working on, but it is also hard for me because I am just starting this blogging adventure, and social media is how I get the word out. I am always reading other individuals posts, and learning and growing through what I have researched. At this point, it is my job. But, when does it become a problem?

One of the things I really want to touch base on is apps kids are using today, that are extremly dangerous, and ones parents NEED to look out for. If you are allowing your children to have their own device, you need to take that device right now, and look for these IMMEDIATLY:

HIP or HIDE IT PRO
  1. HIP (Hide it Pro) is an app on the phone designed to look like a simple music site. Teens and kids use this app to hide photos, text messages, videos, or any other inappropriate or sensitive materials from their parents. It uses a PIN to allow the kids to safely remove material from their phone into a “vault”.

WHY IS THIS DANGEROUS?: This app is expecially dangerous because if you are one of those parents who checks your kids phone or tablet for inappropriate things, this app allows them to hide anything going to that device from you. This could be inappropriate conversations, contact info on strangers, pictures, anything. It hides it all.

2. CALCULATOR+ has been on the news a few times, and every time it goes public the app creaters actually change the apperance of the calculator. This is very similar to the HIP app. It allows teens or children to hide content they do not want their parent seeing, the only thing different with this app is that it also allows them to hide browser history or browser searches. It also allows more content to be stored.

WHY IS THIS DANGEROUS? Pretty much for the same reason as the HIP app it allows children to hide sensitive or inappropriate material from their parents. This app is hidden better, because when parents see it on their child’s phone it looks like a normal calculator. What you want to look for is the plus sign after the words, that will let you know that this is an app that is hiding material.

Another app that allows children to hide their home screen on their phone to look like a normal screen is called POOF. You can go into your child’s app store and search if this has been downloaded.

3. Snapchat is a social media app that allows kids to send pictures and chat, and the material disappears. You can not track pictures that were sent or conversations that were had unless your child has taken a screenshot of something. Another reason why snap chat is dangerous is because you can screen shot anything your child has sent without their permission. So if your teen daughter sends a risky photo to another individual, that person can screen shot it, and send it out for the world to see. It seems innocent enough with silly filters, and funny pictures, but it can also be a place that puts your teen at risk for bullying, sexual content, and strangers accessing them.

WHY IS THIS DANGEROUS? Snap chat is dangerous because almost any teen I know, uses this app instead of texting for the simple reason of what they are saying and sending disappears. This allows them to pretty much say and do whatever they want, and there is no history of it. It is also dangerous because if your teen is sending someone risky pictures, the recipient of the material can screen shot it, save it, and then send that picture out to anyone they want, including sex trafficers and child preditors.

4. LINE is an app that allows free text messaging, video chatting, and sharing photos. Your teen can choose how long they want a photo to stay up, whether it be a few seconds or a week or so. As long as your teen is connected to wi-fi they can use this app to pretty much do and say whatever they want to whoever they want.

WHY IS THIS DANGEROUS? Any app that allows your teen to video chat with anyone they want is dangerous. Any app that allows your teen to send photos that do not stay on their device is also dangerous. This is how teens get groomed into sex trafficking, and this is how child predaters gain access to inappropriate materials.

5. WHISPER is an online forum where teens can share their thoughts, or other things “annonymously”. I use the phrase annonymously lightly because there is an option on this app where someone can put on their “location”and it connects the individual to people in their area. It will also give strangers their location. It also gives access to teens to communicate privatley. This opens up the door to predators to find out exactly where the teen is while they are talking to them. Whisper is NOT an app I would ever allow my child to use.

WHY IT IS DANGEROUS? Well, first off, it is dangerous simply by the materials your teen can access. From online bullying, to posts about drugs and alchohal, to even posts about how to committ suicide. Not only does it allow them access to these things, it gives them access to complete strangers to chat who are near them. NOT only does it give access to strangers to chat, it gives the strangers there actual location. I can not stress this enough, if your child has this app on their phone you need to act immediatly in deleting it, blocking, it and having a serious talk with your teen on who exactly they were talking to and what was said.

6. KIK, oh how I hate this app with a passion!! KIK is an app that allows teens to send video messages, chats, gifs, pictures ect. The problem with KIK is there are absolutely no parental controls and your teen can connect with anyone in their surrounding areas. KIK has been a app that has personally affected our family with our teen. She had connected to a stranger in the area that started grooming our daughter. After we found the information we turned it over to local authorities and it was found that the individual posing as a normal teen to our daughter, was actually running one of the largest sex trafficking rings in the Chicago area. She honestly thought she had just connected with a boy around the area her age, who seemed to have a lot in common, and the end result was and still is absolutely frighting.

WHY IT IS DANGEROUS? The main reason this app is dangerous is because anyone can use it. There are no parental controls to where you can set who they can and can’t talk to. It also connects your kids to strangers around them, with no background information on who this person is. This app is definitley by far the most dangerous app available to children today.

Another website I would like to bring attention to is a website called OMEGLE. This is not an app but you can see if your child has been using this website by searching their browser history.

OMEGLE is a website that allows children to talk to strangers through video chat and messaging. You go onto the website, put in your location, and it connects you with anyone in your area, or you can choose a different area to connect. I obviously do not have to go into details on why this is incredibly dangerous.

Some other apps that you need to look out for are:

  1. Tinder
  2. Blendr
  3. Ask.fm
  4. Houseparty
  5. VINE
  6. YOBO (Formally Yellow)- This one is like a Tinder for kids who are 13-17

There are so many more apps and websites out there, but these are the top picks that I wanted to touch base on because they are the most common. I can not stress it enough that you need to make sure you are monitoring your children and their devices. I am very anti-device as many of you know for certain reasons, and not being able to 100% monitor is one of them. You can ask my 6th grader who begs us all the time for a phone, with the simple answer of No. I am going to write a few more in depth posts in the future about how technology is affecting our children’s development, how it affects their social skills, their emotional health, and what really happens when a child becomes addicted to their device. These are all things we have dealt with personally in our home, so to say I am an expert, no, but to say I have lived through the nightmare of these apps and issues, yes.

I know it is really hard to wrap your head around it because so many parents think “Not my kid” and “We have had talks about the safety of the internet, they would never do those things” believe me I know. I have said all of these lines myself. But they are, and there are child preditors out there on all of these apps grooming, and getting to these kids. So, just be aware.

(I used Google Image for a picture of these apps so you know what to look for)

GO TEAM!

Being a parent is by far the hardest job anyone can have. Raising tiny little humans can be by far the most frustrating, yet rewarding thing you will ever do. When those tiny little humans look to you for guidance, protection, love and information on a 24/hr basis, it can feel like you can never catch a break. But, what happens when you have married someone, or you have had a child with someone and they all of a sudden do not parent the way you do? What happens if their parenting style is actually the complete opposite of your parenting style? It can make a frustrating and emotionally draining process even worse.

In today’s post we are going to touch base on how to parent as a team, even if you do not see eye to eye on everything. I have a lot of friends who are just now starting their families, or are just now welcoming their second or third into their homes. As someone who has been a mommy for pretty much half my life, I am really lucky I can add in some tips, on how to co-parent with your spouse, and stay off SNAPPED.

Communication is key:

“Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.”- Rollo May

I can not stress this one enough, and we are going to start with it. YOU HAVE TO COMMUNICATE PEOPLE! I can not tell you how many times I have sat with my friends and they are complaining about their husbands not doing anything, or not helping with the kids, or they didn’t do this, or they didn’t help with that. But, when you ask the same individual “Well did you let them know you needed help?” or “Did you ask?” their instant answer is “No, they should just know!” or “Well he could see I was angry, he should of helped” Ladies (and gentleman) unless you are a mind reader, the other person is not just going to “know” you need help. This is something you need to communicate with them. Now, with that being said it does not mean you bark orders at the individual. It does not mean you dehumanize them, or try to degrade them for not helping right away. It means that you need to open up on what you would like from them in a respectful manner.

“Honey (or sugar plum, or whatever cute nickname you call each other) Do you think tonight you could put the pajama’s on after bath, I would really appreciate a few minutes?”

“Sweetheart, thank you so much for everything you did today! I appreciate it all, do you think you could do one more thing for me?”

“Sugar Pie, I am going to go give the kids a bath, do you mind handling the dishes? Or would you like to do bath, while I do dishes?” (Give options, it always helps)

See, not to hard. Pretty doable right? Now this goes both ways. If he has had a really long day at work, and you have had a really long day at work, or at home or whatever your day may be, it is easy to blame the other individual for not stepping up their game even though they know you had a long day. We all do it. I do it. He does it. We all do it. But, if you are not open with communication on what you need from that person, you can not give them the death stare from around the corner. It is not fair to them.

With communication, you need to communicate on what kind of parent you want to be. This is SO important. That way the other individual is not thrown for a loop when you are Major Payne, and he comes out acting like Phil Dunphy. Because two very different parenting styles will work, as long as those parenting styles are discussed. In our home I tend to be more of the nurturer, the cuddler, the if I am hurt and I am crying I am going to my mom because she is going to kiss my ouchie, and tell me she loves me. My husband is more of the hard ass (pardon my language). If they run to him crying he is going to look at them like Chow from the Hangover like “But did you die?”. The kids know this. We know this. It is a mutual understanding in our house because it is a conversation my husband and I had.

I was very honest that I am strict, I have expectations of my kids, I expect them to meet those expectations (See my previous blog post about “Being the Mean Mom”) That I encourage chores, and life skills, and that respect is number one. I was also honest that I tend to let things slide, that I may baby the younger one a little bit, okay, I baby all of them a little bit, that they sleep in my bed some nights, and that I will forever kiss them and hug them even if they have outgrown it. He on the other hand, agrees with my first few, but not so much the babying, or the letting things slide. With these differences we communicate when he thinks I need to step it up a little more, and I communicate when I think he needs to step it down a little more. This is never done in front of the children, parenting is never discussed in front of the kids, period. The kids need to see you two as a team, and discussing things you do not like about the other person in the moment will only confuse them. We say “Hey! Do you mind coming into the room with me really quick? I have something I need to ask you.” and whatever we need the other person to adjust, is discussed. Now, my husband and I are also probably the two most stubborn individuals you will ever meet. So, hearing that the other person needs you to change something is not the easiest thing to swallow. But, in the long run, it is always appreciated that you know you can tell the person something.

So, during those 9 months of waiting for your little bundle of joy, or crotch midgets from hell as some people like to say, usually they have a two year old at this point, discuss these things together. Discuss what kind of mom or dad you want to be. Talk to each other about your expectations, talk to them about the things you will both need from each other. Lay down the laws you will not budge on, and listen to them. That way 4 years of sleepless nights later, you are not thrown for a loop.

I am not always good at communicating. It is not one of my biggest strengths. I can write like crazy, but throw me in a situation where I have to communicate my feelings and I shut down. So having a partner who is really good at communicating has really helped me step over this hurdle. Communicating can also be really hard sometimes. When you have to tell the person you love, that you do not like something about them at that particular moment can sometimes seem impossible. But, let me tell you, it is so worth it. We have grown so much as a couple the past few years, just by communicating, and it has made us not only better as a couple, but better partners, and parents.

Listening:

This one goes hand in hand with communication. You NEED to listen to your partner, even if what they are saying you do not want to hear. You or your partner can talk until they are blue in the face, but if you are not listening to them, or they are not listening to you, what is the point in it all.

I am very guilty of turning a deaf ear sometimes because I tend to be a little sensitive. If Dominic is coming to me, saying he does not agree with something I have done, or said regarding the kids, I tend to take it personal. So this is something I am really working on. Listening to his concerns, and then being respectful of those concerns, and trying to change my approach to those concerns are key in parenting as a team. That does not mean that you just go with whatever they are saying all the time. It means that you listen to what they need, and you try to adjust your own parenting to work together.

Respect:

“Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners”- Laurence Stern

You need to respect your partner. No one is perfect. So you can not expect them to be perfect. So make sure that first off you respect them as an individual, and as a parent. Do not undermine them, ever. If they are trying to parent your child, and you go and do the opposite this will confuse your child in the long run. This is one thing I am very proud of in my relationship with Dominic. We always stick together. When you are outnumbered by crazy kids, you need to stick together, or they will chew you up and eat you alive.

I love the respect we have for each other in our relationship. It is one of our strong points. If you do not respect your partner, how are your children going to? We get compliments all the time on how respectful our kids are to others, and it starts with them seeing the respect we have for one another at home. With that, you need to respect your children too. They are growing into adults, and you need to show them the same respect, you expect them to have for you.

One thing with respect is that it is okay to be frustrated with them, but that does not mean you loose respect for them. Every one in the relationship is doing their best, and if it is not their best, you have every right to voice your frustrations, but never do it in an non respectful way. This goes with the undermining. Lets say that your child is throwing a tantrum, and your partner says “If you do not stop, we are going to take away TV time for the rest of the day” Now the behavior doesn’t stop, so your partner gets up and turns off the TV, and walks away. A hour or so goes by, your little demon child is annoying you, they wont stop talking, they wont stop saying they are bored, they keep asking questions, and in your mind you are wondering why, why has your partner has also punished you?! So you go and turn the TV on, in your mind, you just want some peace and quiet, so it is no big deal. This is a big no! Undermining a parenting decision just because you are frustrated is one of the biggest forms of disrespect in the parenting world. It will not only hurt your relationship with your partner, it will hurt the way your kids see you, and them. So keep it respectful. If a decision has been made, stick to it, and if your child is annoying you because daddy won’t let them watch TV, send said kid to daddy. It’s a win win.

Encouragement:

I think this one is almost as important as communication. You need to encourage your partner. Your partner also needs to encourage you. Think of it as a sports team. I don’t know about you, but some of my favorite memories in life are from being on the cross country team in high school and listening to everyone cheer each other on. It was simple encouragement from others that helped you do your best. So if you are not encouraging your partner, how do you expect them to be the best parent they can be? Lift each other up! Give them compliments, cheer them on! I can not tell you how many times a day when Dom is interacting with the kids I say “You guys have the best daddy!” Or when Dom gets the baby to sleep at night for me to give me a break “Good Job Dad!” It is simple encouraging words that keeps the positive in our life. He does the same for me. If you are constantly telling your partner everything they are doing wrong, and never anything they are doing right, they are going to stop wanting to do things for you.

I had a friend one time complain to me about her husband because he refuses to help with housework. They are both working parents, and she was voicing her frustrations on never getting any help. She felt like she was pulling the weight of the entire house, and she was done. It is hard to hear that from people you love, so I asked the simple:

“Have you asked him to help?”

“YES!” Numerous times, and then he pouts and starts doing things, but he does them wrong!!! So I tell him, you aren’t loading this right, you didn’t clean that right, that is not how you do it!

“So, he is trying, but because he isn’t doing it the way you want, your reaction is to tell him everything he is doing is wrong? Well, no wonder he doesn’t jump in to help, there is no encouragement.”

The same goes for parenting. I am very guilty of loving things done my way. I tend to control how things are done with the baby, and how things are done in the house. But, one thing that I have learned in my years is that just because I do it one way, and they do it another way, does not make them wrong. Because in the end, it still gets done. I am very lucky that Dominic is a very hands on dad, and I am equally lucky that he loves being a dad. I know there are some dads out there who are not hands on, it is just who they are. But, if these things were not discussed in the beginning on expectations, then you can not be frustrated with them at the end of it. If you are not encouraging them when they are trying, then you can not get mad when they stop trying. If you are not listening to them when they are frustrated, you can not get upset when they stop listening to you. If you are not respectful of them, do not expect them to respect you back. It all goes hand in hand.

Remember, at the end of the day you two are in this together. So you need to stick together through it all as a team, or it is just going to get harder as they get older, and as you get older. Just love each other through the bad days, and celebrate together through the good! Remember, you made these little blessings together, so you need to parent together.

What are some ways you encourage your spouse? It is easy to focus on the negative, but let’s share some positives! Leave your responses in the comments!

Raising Your Child With Religion

This post is not for everyone. I fully understand that not all individuals believe in God, and that there are so many other religions other than Christianity to follow. I am here to say that I fully support your choice in whatever makes your heart feel full. Some of the most judgmental people I have met in my life are Christians, and some of the most genuine were Atheist, religion does not define someones character. With that being said we are going to dive into some ways you can raise your child with a healthy idea of religion, and how to support them during their own journey.

We are a Christian household. We pray together, we go to church together, we learn together, and we grow together in our faith. Every night at dinner one of the kids says a prayer. They are simple, and to the point. Name a few things you are thankful for that happened that day, name something you want to pray about, and thank God for the dinner in front of you. This is actually one of my favorite things about the day. Because listening to things they are thankful for really helps with those one answered questions most parents get after asking “How was school?” with the response “Good” EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. It helps give a little more insight into their day, and some of the things they say are actually pretty entertaining. Next they go into something they want to pray about. During these cold winter months they are usually praying for those without proper shelter, sometimes they will pray for a friend, or a family member, sometimes they pray for themselves. We do not expect them to get into huge details about anything, because this is their prayer. Not ours.

A family that prays together, stays together.

Teaching your kids to talk to God is one of the key essentials to helping build that relationship. We always say just talk to him like you talk to your friends. If you are having a hard time it is okay to confide in him, when you are having a great day it is okay to thank him, and if you have some questions about life, it is okay to ask him. We also let them know that sometimes God does not always answer us the way we think we need answers, but he will always answer you one way or another. It is just important to look out for those answers at times. We also teach the kids that just like normal relationships you should not talk to him always asking for something, you need to also thank him for the things he has already provided to you. No one wants to listen to someone who is always asking for things, and never thanking the individual for the things they have helped with.

One of the things I want in their journey is to take the
“pressure off” the idea of GOD. One thing I love about kids is their innocence. They tend to get fabricated ideas of how things are, and who people are because their minds aren’t fully developed to comprehend such large things. Which is what makes them so much fun! Presenting God as an all or nothing mentality can cause them to be confused on what it is to “live a Christian lifestyle”. I have always introduced religion to the kids as something Mommy believes, something Daddy believes, but it is not something we expect you to believe right away. I would never expect my nine year old son to devote his entire life to Christ and to fully understand what that means. Kids need to know that Christianity is a lifestyle, and a choice. It is not something you have to believe in, and not something you have to choose. But, my job as a Christian mom is to expose them to it, answer questions about it, and to love them through it. It is also my job as a Christian mom not to force them into it. I fully feel parents who shove religion down their kids throats is a very unhealthy way to introduce them to God. I also think in doing so causes and unhealthy ideology of God, and what he stands for. I do not know one adult Christian who has not gone through a journey to get there. I also do not know one adult Christian who has not strayed away at one time, who has not questioned it, and who has not been lost at some point through it. Expecting your children to not do any of those things is setting them up for failure in this journey. I had a conversation a few months ago with a close friend who is frustrated because her daughter told her she does not believe in God and she will never believe in God. During this conversation I was letting her rant via text about it all, how she told her she doesn’t care what she believes, she is going to church and she will like it. I stopped her right there with the simple question “What are you doing to help her through this journey? Because, I know when I was a kid I did not understand why I had to get up early on Sunday, put on tights that I hated, and sit in a boring church with adults for a hour. So have you talked to her at all about any of the things she doesn’t like?” “No” Then maybe she is associating God, with just Church on Sunday. Maybe she doesn’t like Church, so she is saying she doesn’t believe in God. Have you talked with her about those things? No.Well I am sure if you have a conversation with her, and allow her to vent her frustrations, and listen to her, instead of forcing her, you will come to find out that why she doesn’t believe is probably a very innocent reason. She texted me a few days later and the reason was because she thought her Sunday school teacher had smelly breath. I definitely had a good chuckle at that one.

Our youngest getting baptized a few weekends ago. My husband is the strongest man I know, and his faith inspires me to keep going with mine. He is a very proud father, and we work together in raising our children with the love of God in their hearts.

Another thing we teach our children is God is love. Period. Anyone who has read the book, studied the word, and who practices Christianity and still chooses to hate certain people or certain peoples lifestyle is NOT living the Christian life. It is not our job here on Earth to judge anyone. Ever. Our job here is to live how Christ lived and that is to spread love, acceptance, and peace. To preach his word when his word is welcomed, and sometimes when it is not. It is also our job to teach our children the same mentality. I remember I was sitting in a bible study and a very hot topic came up, that comes up a lot in these sort of settings. It was getting pretty heated, people ranting and screaming their thoughts and saying so and so is going to hell for eternity because of a certain sin. Pretty much everything I hate about people who claim to be christian was unfolding right in front of me, and being a person who hates confrontation in any way shape or form I kind of slinked into my seat and observed these individuals just judging others. I finally cleared my throat a little, and spoke up:

“I guess I missed the chapter in the bible where God had tallies for how big a sin is? Can someone show me that part? Because unless you are living a completely free life of sin, who are you to judge someone else’s? It is my understanding that sin is sin, it is bad, but we all do it. When you die, and you get to heavens gates, you are not there yelling about what everyone else did wrong, God is telling you everything YOU did wrong.”

My favorite words from my husband when anything like these topics come up is “I would hate to be the one at heavens gates trying to explain to God why I turned them away from him, because I thought their life was not good enough, or that their lifestyle was not something I agreed with.”

These two concepts are how we teach our children to follow Christ:

To raise your child to FEAR God will give them a lifelong battle on who God really is. And, who they are.

But to teach your child to LOVE like God will give them the understanding that everyone makes mistakes in life. That it is okay, but you have a pretty cool understanding guy in your corner rooting for you to make good choices, just like we are. But, if a bad choice is made, we will forgive you, and if you ask, he will forgive you too. Because everyone makes mistakes in life. It is how you handle that mistake and how you learn from that mistake that makes you who you are.

I also have the understanding that my children are going to stray away at some point. It is normal, and I actually hope they do. I know that is a weird hope for your kids, but let me explain a little more. I remember when I was at my most rebellious of teen years I told my mom that I did not believe in God anymore, and that I was now a Buddhist. Now, I grew up in a very small rural, mostly white, town. I had no idea what being a Buddhist even was, but I saw it on a TV show and that is what I wanted to be. So my mom, said okay, and took me to the library, and the book store and bought me tons of books on the religion. She allowed me to research it, and to learn about it, and then to make a decision if that was the path I really wanted to take. I think this is something all parents need to do with their kids when it comes to any lifestyle. Even on an Atheist standpoint. Just because you choose not to believe in it, is it fair for you as a parent to shove that ideology down their throat without giving them the chance to even learn about anything else? To shield your children from other forms of religion, or to not allow them to learn there even are other forms of religion is hurting them more then just being accepting that people choose to believe what they want to believe, even if it is not something you believe yourself. As a Christian mother, I have a responsibility to teach my child about God. But, as a Christian mother I would never tell my child that they are wrong, because they do not believe in God. I would also never tell them they are going to Hell because they want to learn about something else. That type of Christianity is what grows hate. I do not and will never allow hate based thinking in our home. Like I said in the beginning, it is my job to expose them to it, to show them what living a “Christian Life” is, and to be open minded through their journey. My job is to be there when they have questions, my job is to be supportive when they are questioning, my job is to be open, honest, and loving. My job is to educate them, my job is to allow them to educate themselves, and my job is to teach them love, and teach them acceptance. That is my job as a Christian mom.

No matter what you are going through, knowing that you are surrounded by God is one of the main points to teach your child. God is around you no matter what, even in your darkest hours.

The last thing I want to touch base on is how to show your children what being a Christian is all about. Being a Christian is not just going to church on Sunday and spending an hour listening to someone else talk, sing a few songs, and then once you leave those doors, your job is done. You did your “God” thing for the week. Being a Christian is so much more than that. It is about serving, it is about learning, it is about teaching, it is about compassion. So let’s break those things up really quick, with just an idea on how to show your kids, and get them active in it.

Serving: What does it mean to serve? To me this means helping others and not expecting anything in return. This could be as simple as giving a homeless person extra change and a hug, it could be paying for someone else’s meal in the drive-thru, it could mean opening a door for an elderly lady, or a mom struggling to get through. This could mean working at a soup kitchen, animal shelter, or non-profit, simply volunteering your time to help. Serving others is the point. Unselfishly helping those who need help.

Learning and Teaching: As a Christian you are constantly studying, you are learning God’s words and what it means. That is why we go to church on Sunday’s, to learn about God. As a new Christian you are learning who God even is. You are constantly learning. For your children you are the teacher in this, it is your job to open up that door for them to learn. It is your job to surround them around people who will also help them learn. This could be a weekly bible study at home, this could be them reading a little bit of the bible on their own and then you discuss it together, for smaller kids this could be you reading them some stories of the bible at bedtime, just to start the understanding of God. My children are a little older so we like the family bible study. It is based off their ages and we are all learning together, with the youngest one (9 months old) it is just simple baby books with the basic stories at bed. We are just introducing, and opening that door. It does not have to be complicated, it does not have to be a chore, it just has to be a little time a week you set aside so your children can see your excitement about God, and also for you to teach them why you are excited about God.

Compassion: Teaching your children compassion for others is probably one of the most important thing you do for your child. We are lacking compassion in the world today, so much. It hurts my heart watching the news, reading articles, even just looking on social media, the amount of hate in people these days. WE as parents need to stop this. WE as parents need to teach our children how to be compassionate to others. It does not matter their color, their lifestyle, their religion, their situation, it does not matter. This one does not need examples, if you need examples on how to show your child to be compassionate, then you are part of the problem.

To wrap this up, I want to stress the importance of talking with your kids. That is going to open up the door so much. When your child feels frustrated, angry, hurt, sad, or even happy, allowing them to have those open conversations with you, and plugging in scripture, or a story of someone from the bible that had the same experiences will really help them relate. It will also give them the understanding that they are not alone in this world. That no matter what they are going through, God is always there for them. That is really the key point here. That God will never turn his back on them even if everything they do is not always right.

What are some ways you are introducing religion into your home? What are some other ideas you have for these sort of topics?

It’s Okay to be “The Mean Mom”

“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory bank of our children”. -Charles R. Swindoll

There are so many different parenting styles these days it is hard for anyone to even know where to start when they get the news they are expecting their new bundle of joy.

I have had a lot of people come to me in the past years for “parenting advice” or “tips and tricks” on how to handle certain situations. I always have had a hard time with that, because what works for one child does not mean it will work for another. I can tell you out of my four children, every single one of them has their own style, personality, emotions, and uniqueness. With that, I have had to take very different approaches to them on effective parenting when it comes to simple discipline. But, one thing that I do all around the board for every single one of them, is know that I am not their friend right now, I am their mom. My sole purpose on this parenting journey is to understand that I am raising these tiny little humans to become respectful, loving, independent adults, and with that comes the responsibility at understanding that sometimes I will in fact be:

The Mean Mom!

“What does a mean mom entail?”, you may ask yourself. I am here to break it down. First off, let me start by saying that I have actual had the title “mom” or “mommy” for half of my life. Yes, you read that right, I welcomed my first at the age of 16, and being such a young mom, it took me a really long time to figure out how to really do this mom thing, because I was still trying to figure out who I even was. At the age of 32 I am STILL trying to figure out who I am. Hey, that is another blog post, no one has time for that! Let’s get back to the point shall we? Being a mean mom does not mean that anytime you are around your children you are screaming at them, yelling demands, breaking their confidence, beating them. It is actually very far from that. Being a mean mom means that you have certain expectations for your children, and they are expected to do their best to meet those expectations.

Now, that does not mean put unreasonable expectations on a child who developmentally can not achieve that. Because, then you are setting your child up for failure and that is not what we want our children to grow up thinking. In our home our expectations are very reasonable for the age of our children.

MEAN MOM REASON #1: School is number 1, you will always do the best to your ability at school, that does not mean you need straight A’s, but it means that we know your potential. If you are struggling in math and you end up with a C but you did your absolute best, then we will hang that C up on the fridge in celebration. If you are very capable of getting a A, but because you refused to do your homework, you did not study for the test you knew you had, you simply did not apply yourself to your ability, then you are grounded until the grade is up. That last part is mean mom material. Being grounded. It is not easy grounding your children, because honestly it is more of a punishment on my part, having them hanging around me all the time. Just staring. That is why being a mean mom is so hard, sometimes you too are being punished.

MEAN MOM REASON #2: You have chores once a week. Now, do I expect my house to be ready for the queen on a weekly basis as I slave labor my kids into having to “gasp” clean the toilet they spent the last week peeing all over (boy mom’s will get this). No, absolutely not. Do I expect you to know what chores you have, and do them right the first time because I have shown you numerous times how to achieve that? Of course I do. What happens if you slack on your chores and purposely do them wrong, or not at all, then the next week you get to do ALL the chores in the house instead of the very small chore you were asked to do in the first place, while your siblings sit and relax. Once again, that last part is where the mean mom comes in.

MEAN MOM REASON #3: Laundry. The dreaded, dreaded laundry. I remember when my now husband and I moved in together I had a laundry pile the size of Mt. Everest hidden in the laundry room. I was working full time, I was a single mom, I had three children, and I just did not have time. I remember the first time I showed him my dirty little secret of laundry he looked at me very confused and said “Why are they not doing their own laundry?” Now, this was a foreign concept in my brain. I had never even considered showing my kids how to do their laundry. And that is when my life changed forever. Yes, my three older children do their OWN LAUNDRY! They each have a designated laundry day once a week. You are expected to start your load in the morning before school, you change it when you get home, and then you fold and put it away when it is finished. The mean mom part is that if you forget your laundry day, you have to be reminded of your laundry, if it is 9:00pm and you still have not changed loads of laundry, then you do not get TV for the next day, or Play Station, or whatever else you were planning on doing. I would like to clarify though that I am fully aware that life is life. Even I forget to change loads every once in awhile, or we are just busy that day. I get life happens! So if you have been on your A game, and it slips your mind every once in a great while, or we were running here or there that night, then you are obviously allowed to make up your laundry day at a different time. You just have to wait until your other siblings finish their days, so they are not punished. I will also change your load for you if I know we are doing something that evening. So it is done and ready for you to put away. It is all about balance. Once again, we are not here to set our kids up for failure. We are here to teach them life skills, along with life lessons. But, you are solely responsible for your underwear, have you ever seen an 11 year old underwear? NO THANKS!

MEAN MOM REASON #4: Our children are very limited in technology. Now, this one is a touchy subject for many parents. It is also one that comes up one debates on any and every mommy site I am apart of. This is something my husband and I decided for our own family, for our own personal reasons, that does not mean I am judging you that your toddler has an I Pad in the grocery store, or that your 7 year old has their own phone. That is not the case AT ALL. We made a choice on limiting their devices because we saw what happened when our daughter had one when she was in 6th grade. It was like we lost her completely. She constantly had her face in her phone, she was always moody, her attitude went from a fun loving 6th grade girl, to a girl who was tip toeing with a very severe case of depression. We made the choice at the end of 7th grade to take said phone away, and we never looked back. That one got me mean mom of the year! I graciously accepted my award, and thanked her for the nomination. I also thank my son who is now in 6th grade for a second nomination when he came to us asking for a phone, and we both laughed and laughed through our absolutely not. One thing I do want to say is that it is also okay to take a device away, to check devices, and to monitor your child! You may feel like you are invading their privacy, but from a personal standpoint, seeing what your children are doing, talking about, or what apps they are on may save their life. The rule in this house now is, if you can pay for it, you can have it. We stick to our guns on this and they are all thriving and surviving very well without it. I personally believe that our children are loosing their sense of wonder and imagination at a younger and younger age due to the push of devices, but again, this is my own personal feeling, do what works best for your family. But, do not think your child will not thrive if they do not have the latest and best device out there. Or feel like they will be left out from their peer groups or from things that may hurt them socially. We allow our children to use our phones to chat or text when needed. We also allow them time on their Chrome Books from school to chat with friends if all homework is done for a certain period of time. I am here to tell you, they will be just fine. With that being said we also limit their games and game time. These things have to be earned in our house. You can earn game time by reading. For every minute your read, it is the amount of time you get to play your game (This is week nights only, as long as you had a good week, you can play as long as you want on the weekend). So if you come home, and read 30 minutes, you get 30 minutes of your game! This has actually really helped our middle son who was really struggling with reading. It gave him a reason to read, and now he loves to sit down with a book over grabbing the game counsel. He just got into Harry Potter, if I could tell you how proud that makes me! You can be the mean mom, but also a Potter fan, I know from experience.

Now that you know the top reasons why I am a mean mom, even though there are many many more, like my daughter loosing her bedroom door for 3 years after slamming it during a very lovely pre-teen meltdown one to many times, let’s talk about all of the above a little bit.

Our youngest started doing his own laundry at the age of 6, and he was supervised the first few times he did it to make sure he understood everything. If he had any questions about what to do, if he needed help learning the buttons, or how to fold, we were there right next to him to encourage him and teaching him. I know I have said it a few times in this post but you can not expect your children just to know how to do things, this is not to set them up for failure, this is to set them up to flourish. Even our 15 year old at times has questions about a chore, or laundry, or why oh why they didn’t have a door. Questions are good! We encourage it!

It is okay as a parent to not be liked by your kids at all times. It is okay to tell your children no, it is okay to set certain expectations, and to have consequences. It is okay to hold your kids accountable for their actions when they do something wrong. All of these things are okay, and will not cause your little one to run away, resent you, or hate you later in life. It will help them grow, and learn, and it will help them to learn a little more about the adult world, because in the adult world it is not all rainbows and sunshine. We have family and friends who joke and laugh at the way we run our house at times. They call it “Bootcamp”, they will even say to their own kids, you better stop talking back to me or I will send you to “Bootcamp”. This actually upsets me at times because I did not know teaching your children how to do simple life skills is now considered military training? But, hey, when my kids enter the cruel, cold world of adulting, they will have a better understanding on what they are capable of to make it. They will be in college, and able to get their laundry done, apartments clean, cook a good meal, and how to be socially present for their friends, and for their academics. Because obviously that is all my little angels will be doing in college, right?

There are things we as parents really need to do to raise successful adults, being their parent and not their friend is #1 in my eyes. That does not mean that they are not loved or encouraged every single day. It does mean they understand what is expected of them to make a successful household and to become successful people. And they take pride in their work when it is done! My daughter actually just rolled her eyes at me the other day because I walked across her clean floor! I will take that eye roll any day! Always remember, being a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world, but being a child in today’s society is equally hard, so make sure you are not only teaching your children, you are also listening to them, because listening to them will help relieve the nominations of meanest parent in the world, most days at least. Hope everyone has a great week!

What are some chores you do around your house, or what qualifies you as the mean parent this week?! Comment below!!

Beginning 2019 With A Grateful Heart

It is hard to believe that another new year is upon us. I feel the older I get the faster the years fly by. It seems just like yesterday I was a carefree child, climbing trees, and exploring the world around me. I have never been an individual who really stuck to my new years resolutions. I would always make a goal, and be really on track until a few weeks later, the ambitious me would fizzle out, and old habits would come back faster than they left.

Two years ago New Years was a whole different world. I was in love with the man of my dreams, we had a brand new beautiful baby boy, we were living on cloud nine. We celebrated the New Year with friends and family at the house. We drank, danced, sang, and all yelled Happy New Year with excitement on what the future year would bring us. A few days later, that excitement would fizzle out, and our new reality would hit us harder than anyone would have expected.

As many of you know our son Nico passed away after a 7 week very courageous battle of a very rare genetic disorder. My new year was spent wondering the hospital halls, living every day in what I call my own personal hell. I watched my son go from a healthy beautiful 2 month old baby, to being hooked up to so many machines they had to give us the biggest room on the floor to fit them all in. He went from smiling, laughing and learning the world around us, to being incubated with a breathing tube, put into a medically induced coma to help keep him calm, and pumped full of so many various medications, just to keep him alive. On February 11, 2017, that journey ended, and we said goodbye to our sweet baby boy. What was supposed to be the happiest year of our lives turned into our nightmare, one that so many parents experience, and one that would forever change our little world we had built.

Loosing a child is something that no one should have to go through, but it is an experience after talking with so many people, that happens more often than it should. But, with that, we pulled ourselves together, and we continued on our path to happiness. I always said 2017 was the worst year of my life, but it ended as one of the best, I got to marry my best friend. Our wedding day was full of love and laughter, it was exactly the day that so many of us needed.

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Nico was born with a very rare genetic disorder, only 10 kids in the world had it, and with the form he had, he was the first. This disorder was always fatal, some kids lived into their teen years, but most of them lost their battles before the age of 18. We were advised very strongly by everyone in the medical field to never have any more kids. So we took that advice, and well, we got pregnant again (OOPS). I remember after the wedding I was thinking to myself trying to remember the last time mother natures monthly arrival had come. I was so wrapped up in work, our three older children, and wedding planning that I had completely forgot that it had not come that month. I remember thinking to myself “No way, God would not do this to us, he would not put us through this again” and as I sat in the bathroom shaking with the lovely test in my hand, and the words “PREGNANT” came on the little screen, I just started laughing. I may have said a few choice words along with it, but all I could do was laugh.

My husband and I talked for a very long time that night about our plan. We knew the odds were against us, but we were also very hopeful that maybe, just maybe this was the miracle we so desperately needed. We came to a joint decision, that no matter what, we would keep the baby. Because in our minds, even though Nico was very sick, he also knew he was very loved. So if this baby only makes it a few months in this world, he will be loved every single day, and that is not something I would take away from this tiny little bean growing inside me, I would not take away the feeling of being loved.

I went to the first doctor appointment like a deer in the headlights, we went through all our medical history, all of Nico’s medical history, and the first words out of the Dr’s mouth after reading over Nico’s chart was “I would terminate this pregnancy”. My husband and I together said “Absolutely not”. So our new journey began that day. Specialists, tests, ultra sound after ultra sound, conversation after conversation of the risks involved of allowing this child to be born. Every time a new Dr. would enter the picture the same conversation would happen: “Are you sure you want to continue this, there is such a small chance this child will be healthy” and as all good Dumb and Dumber fans will unite on “So you’re saying there’s a chance?”

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We started the year 2018 in a whole new ball game then a short year before. We were broken-hearted, we were unsure of our future, we were holding on to a slim chance that this year would be our year. One thing though, one thing that was the same, was we were in love, and that was all we needed at that time. The first week of the New Year we were scheduled for our Amniostesis, this test would be able to tell us if the little guy kicking me nightly would have the same genetic disorder that is a big brother in heaven had, so we started our New Year with the same helplessness and uncertainty the year before had brought us. The results would take weeks to get in, and let me tell you, waiting to hear if the child you are carrying would even make it, is one of the most gut wrenching feelings anyone could bear. We didn’t buy anything for the new baby, we hadn’t started the nursery, I could not bring myself to even enjoy the pregnancy, to allow myself to connect to this tiny human growing inside me.

The week of the one year anniversary of our first sons death, my phone rang on the way home from work. I was driving, totally exhausted from a very long day, I saw the number pop up on my phone, and my heart sank. This was it, this was the call. I actually thought about cancelling it out and calling back later. I had gone over the scenario in my had so many times. I picked up the phone, answered “Hello?” “Mrs. Petrucci, this is the genetic team, we have your results.” I don’t think I took a breath, what was probably seconds seemed like hours as I waited for the words. When you are what I like to call “If I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all” you always assume the worst. “You better start preparing, because you are going to have a perfectly healthy baby boy”. I was at a stop light and immediately burst into tears. I looked over to my right and as my luck would have it, a police officer was pulled up right next to me. I had answered the call on my phone and I knew I was about to get pulled over. It is my luck after all. He had been watching me, and then saw that I was sobbing uncontrollably and probably thought, he was not going to deal with that crazy today.

From that point on, the darkness lifted. We began to plan, we started buying baby items. We even picked out the name. On June 4th, 2018, we welcomed our healthy baby boy into our family. He was perfect. He was absolutely perfect.

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We spent the rest of 2018 cooing and gushing over this absolute miracle that we were given. As each month passed, new milestones were hit, and he began to grow into the chunky little meatball he is today, the feeling of gratitude started really building in my soul.

I have always been a gracious person, but I have also been somewhat a selfish person too. I never really took the time to really stop and look at the blessings around me. I always just assumed those blessings were deserved because of the things I had gone through in the past. I had this mentality that one bad thing should equal one good thing in life, Karma right? But that was just a horrible mentality to have. Because anytime something bad happens in your life, you are looking around for the next good thing. But you are not grateful for the good, or accepting of the bad. You do not grow through the good and the bad when that mentality is who you are.

So this year instead of making a resolution on loosing weight, eating clean, on being off social media more, stop comparing myself to others, all the other resolutions I had made in the past that always fizzled out after a week or two, my resulution was to work on being grateful for what I have, and accepting of what I do not. It is easy when you lose a child to always compare certain memories on “What if”. What if they were here, or “what could have been”. It is easy to forget the good that you still have in your life, even if your life is not what you had originally planned it to be.

So this year for the year 2019 I am going to spend my year with a grateful heart. Gratful for my husband, grateful for my 4 amazing healthy children, grateful for the roof over our heads, the laundry that needs to be done, the dishes that need to be done, the people and family we have in our lives, the life that we have built together, for the money that is in the bank account even if it is a very small amount some months, the clothes in our closets, the fact that even though we only had less than 4 months with our angel, we still got time to show him love.

Having a grateful heart is something I think we all really need to work on. In the world today with so much fake, realizing what you have is very hard. I still find myself comparing my body, my life, my reality to others. But, when I start self-doubting I remember that this year I need to be grateful. I am greatful my body has carried 5 babies, I am greatful my life is what I have made it, and that even though the person I am comparing myself to may seem to have a better life, maybe they are looking at mine and comparing themselves to me with the same feelings.

“Expressing gratitude for the miracles in your world is one of the best ways to make each moment of your life a special one”

What are some things you are grateful for this year?

Welcome to Restless Honesty

Thanks for joining me!

Hope for the best, expect the worst, life is a play, and we are unrehearsed- Mel Brooks

Working on the site! Bare with me 🙂

 

A little about me while you wait for things to kick off!

I am a SAHM of 4 amazing kids, and one angel baby. I am a wife to my soul  mate, and I am a dog mom to three crazy fury animals, and a hamster who is surprisingly still alive. I have worked in the day care profession for close to 8 years along with Property Management. After our little meatball came we made the choice that it is time for me to stay home and enjoy the little guy, and it has been one of the best, most exhausting experiences of my life! I am also homeschooling our 15 year old daughter this year after a very hard decision that the current school she was in was not a very good fit at the moment.

This blog will be about life, parenting, learning experiences, some homeschooling tips, mommy tips, faith tips, thoughts I have at 4 am when I am up patting a babies bottom praying he will go back to sleep, fitness journey, and anything and everything else in between.

 

Hope you enjoy!