Honest Mom Series – Feature #4, Kristina

Welcome to the fourth feature in the Honest Mom series! Click here to read the previous interview.

Our next mom is 31 year old Kristina, wife to Bruce and mom to 3: Big Brother, T (6), Little Sis, A (almost 3), and Baby Brother Z (1). I’ve always respected that Bruce & Kristina have such confidence in the decisions they make, doing whatever is best for their family. Kristina is a very sweet friend, super creative lady, and a homeschooling SAHM.

A little about her:
Kristina is very enthusiastic about peanut butter – and ice cream. Even better? Peanut butter IN ice cream! She’s always had the travel bug, studying abroad in England and Scotland, where she’d love to return for its beauty. She would also love to go to Greece, where her grandparents are from.

When asked about her parenting style, she says she keeps these words in mind: “Love, nurture, and enjoy.” She depends on God and her own experiences, trying her best by relying on convictions from the Holy Spirit to continue or change her ways. She admits that doesn’t always happen: “A lot of times my parenting style and choices are a reflection of how I was brought up – which are sometimes good, and other times bad. I have read a few parenting books, most of which are about “Hot Topics” that have either convicted me to change my thoughts on a subject or confirm that what I am choosing for my family is right.”

Can you describe a typical day at your house? My oldest son is the early bird and typically wakes up between 6-7 A.M. and will play in his room until someone else is up. If his little sis wakes up next, he typically will play with her and/or his baby brother. I am so NOT a morning person… so it takes me a while to want to get out of bed! Once I do, we head downstairs and I make breakfast and the kiddos watch some T.V.—usually Curious George and Cat in the Hat. Afterwards, we will either do downstairs to do some school stuff, play, or head up-stairs to get ready for the day. Lunch is anywhere between 12-1 P.M, depending on what we are doing that morning. After lunch, Little Sis takes a nap and/or has quiet time for a minimum of an hour. Big Brother and I will then do some more school stuff. Afterwards, he has some play time and I get on the computer to blog, check email, etc. Around 4:30ish, I’ll start figuring out what is for dinner. After dinner, we play some more, watch some t.v. and kiddos get to bed around 9. The bedtime routine is more go-with-the-flow, because I’m still nursing our little one. Typically I read a couple of books to Big Brother, lay with him for 10 minutes, then go to Little sis’ room and read a couple to her. More often than not, I lay with her until she falls asleep. However, if I’m busy with Baby Brother, Daddy takes over reading duties! Every day is a little different, but we pretty much stick to that schedule, adjusting for everyone’s moods, weather, or special plans.

You’re a Homeschooling mama! What would you like to say to other homeschooling moms? Oh wow, this is kind of a loaded question! We’ve been homeschooling from the get go, meaning that when Big Brother was around 3ish, I started to involve more learning activities in our day. We then continued on using a literature-based curriculum for his 4K and 5K year.  And now here we are in his 1st Grade year! I still feel like such a “newbie,” however I would encourage a homeschooling mom by telling her to remember it is a journey.  Do not focus on what others are doing and/or learning—You know your children best and know their needs and what works best.  It is so easy to think of all they eventually need to know, but take it day by day.  I would encourage her that yes, the days may seem long, it may feel like your child will never learn his/her math facts, remember simple spelling rules, how to form his/her letters, etc… but when frustration strikes, step back and know they WILL learn it eventually.  And it truly is a beautiful thing to get to experience that with your child.  With Big Brother, I really feel like I made many mistakes pushing him and being hard on him by expecting too much; I suppose it happens with the first.  In this journey, I just would want them to know that YOU are indeed capable and able to teach your child what he/she needs and wants to know.  There are so many great resources out there to help you along the way—you are not alone.
Oh, and give your kiddos and you plenty of GRACE!  It isn’t always easy (isn’t that parenthood in general?!), but remember tomorrow is another day.

What is the best part about homeschooling? There are so many great things about homeschooling: being able to spend time together is huge; these moments go by so fast and I love that we are together everyday, learning and playing side by side.  I believe that homeschooling is a lifestyle and it allows us to follow the lead of my children by getting to learn what they are most interested in at the moment.  Another one is getting to experience new things together!  When learning about “amorphous solids” (aka Oobleck), Little Sis and Little Brother were able to have some messy fun, too!  It is a family affair. : )

What is your least favorite part about homeschooling? Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t all sunshine and roses.  Many days I am just flat out exhausted by mid-morning! 😉 There have been many times that my son and I have butt heads and we’ve been “in the trenches” trying to get things done.  However, I think most of that stems from my unrealistic expectations. Bad attitudes and resistance to doing anything school related come and go, but that is when it is time to step back and evaluate what you are doing and why. Also, when starting your homeschooling journey, I believe there is a great deal of pressure to make sure your child is learning like his/her peers and homeschooling starts looking like “school at home.”  Playing the comparison game is a sure-fire way to kill your child’s curiosity and love of learning.  It makes homeschooling a “chore” and school time is thus fun for no one.
But then this circles back to one of the great things about homeschooling: you are on your own child’s learning schedule; homeschooling allows you the freedom to go at the pace set by your child.

I love that you turned that back into a positive! What are your suggestions to get started homeschooling? First I’d like to encourage you that if you have any sort of inkling that this is something that would suit your family, I say pray and “Just Do It.”  Some people have no desire to homeschool, but some do and it honestly saddens me when they talk themselves out of it by saying, “ I just can’t teach my child….  Or I could never do it.”  Mama- you ARE fully capable of teaching and leading your child!!
So once the decision has been made, I would check out what your State Requirements are—each State is different; some are very lax and some are very rigid, so it is very important to know.  You can check out https://www.hslda.org/laws/.
There are many ways to homeschool; another idea is to figure out your child’s learning style and YOURS!  There are many schools of thought on how to homeschool your child—Unschooling, Classical, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Eclectic, etc.  Check your local library for books and it’ll explain the different philosophies in greater detail or search the web.  You will truly be amazed at how many resources are out there to help you!
Once you have an idea, next you’ll need to find a curriculum.  They can be boxed- meaning every subject is lined out and provided for you or you may choose to pick and choose products from different companies.  Just remember to find what works for YOUR family. Research if there is a curriculum fair in your state and if so, attend one.
If possible, find other homeschooling mamas that have been there & done that—whether that is through a local Co-op, homeschooling group, homeschooling bloggers, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.  We are all on this journey together!

What do you think is the biggest challenge involved with homeschooling? I think the biggest challenge in general, in ALL areas of motherhood, seems to be this ‘you vs. us’ mentality; it’s sometimes referred to as the “Mommy Wars.”  It just seems like there is always something or someone telling us we are doing it wrong: that we should be homeschooling or not, breastfeeding or not, vaccinating/not-vaccinating, eating this and not that. I think we all should just agree to disagree instead of mocking each other’s choices and telling them they are wrong. In the end we should be doing what is best for our children – and what is best for mine may not be the best for yours. Our children, our experiences, strengths and weaknesses are all different, so who am I to judge your choices?

Well said. That is part of the reason I chose to do this series in the first place!

Other than mother and teacher, are you also homemaker? Are you responsible for the housework as well? Yes, I guess. I do the cooking, cleaning, etc. Hubby deals with making the money and with the stuff outside and whatever maintenance inside. However, he is great at helping out if I need it!

How about the kids – do they do chores? Yes, but not consistently. The kiddos are very helpful- most of the time, and will help if I ask them. Big Brother is much more inclined to help if there is a reward or it is made into a game. Little Sis is a typical toddler—may help, may not help… you just never know! 

How do you discipline them? First they are given a warning. If they repeat the behavior they get time out or something taken away. Sometimes it works. Big brother can get quite sassy sometimes, so daddy usually has to have “a talk” with him. Sometimes they are effective. Sometimes, no. We just have to make sure they know that kind of behavior is NOT acceptable.

What are your nutritional guidelines? The kiddos LOVE fruits, so we’ve got that covered. Big Brother eats most veggies—it wasn’t always like that though! Little Sis is adventurous and will try new things more than the boys, but her tastes change daily! Little Brother still nurses several times a day, so I know he’s eating well. Otherwise, I try and make three meals a day from scratch. I try to stay away from boxed foods- but it doesn’t always happen, and I refuse to beat myself up over that. We don’t buy many snack type foods as they never last more than a few days and well, they just aren’t good for you anyway! I’ve taken to the phrase, “everything in moderation.”  

What about you? Do you ever get time to yourself with all you’re doing? I’m definitely an introvert and NEED time to myself! Although with a house full it doesn’t happen much. Yeah, a bathroom break involves one or more of the kiddos opening and closing the bathroom door and/or getting into the cupboards, toilet paper, or something they are NOT supposed to. This is also the time when everything -i.e. good behavior- seems to unravel and chaos breaks loose. Thus, I probably end up spending too much time in the bathroom! Ha! I will also venture to the store childless or with one… so much different and EASIER with one. Geesh! That’s always a good time!

Do you have hobbies to help you focus your energy? In the summertime, I work in the garden. I like to craft for myself and with the kiddos. I browse Pinterest a lot. And I blog, which started out more of a family blog detailing our homeschooling activities with my oldest, but it has grown into crafts and other learning activities too. I’ve always wanted to write a children’s book, and while that still has yet to pass, I enjoy blogging for now. I just shared my 300th blog post not too long ago! It’s so crazy to think I’ve had 300 things to share!

I’ve seen your blog. There’s a lot of content and it looks so professional! How do you find the time to do it, what with everything else you do? I probably get a bit obsessed (okay, it’s not probably– I do. ha!) and stay on the computer a bit too long during the day. Sometimes I do it in the mornings while the kiddos play after breakfast.  Sometimes it is after Big Brother and I finish school work and he plays while Little Sis is still napping and/or having quiet time.  Sometimes it is after dinner when we are all just hanging out.  Sometimes it is when the kiddos go to bed and I stay up a little too late.  Most days it is a mix of all of those. And of course it’s always right when I’m about finished that the kiddos have gone wild! But it’s something I enjoy and is “my time” and a way for me to beat cabin fever!  As for the kiddos beating cabin fever we try to take advantage of our Rec Center activities, do field trips, or crafts.  And sometimes it means putting on a show and/or movie!

Tell us about your struggles and challenges as a mom. Time management is my biggest struggle, mostly due to our go-with-the flow, loose daily schedule. Seems like there is so much to do, that I want to do, need to do, that just doesn’t happen. Patience is another one… yep, it wears thin some days! And some days I didn’t get the memo that I need a lot of it! I need to improve at being quick to LISTEN; it’s real easy for me to see or hear something I do not like and put an end to it without getting the full story.

What is your greatest fear as a mom? That I am doing it all wrong!

What are some of your proudest moments? As I sit thinking about it, so many things make me happy and proud. That my children are happy and healthy; that they are great friends and loving playing together… to my son’s 1st goal in soccer or when Little Sis loves on her baby brother.

What is your greatest hope for your kids?  I hope for success in all areas of their life; that wherever they go and whatever they do they know God loves them and wants them to be happy and prosperous. To know they can dream big and to pursue those dreams. To know they are loved and special.

You can read more about Kristina, get ideas for kid-friendly educational crafts, and their adventures in Homeschooling at School Time Snippets.

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Honest Mom Series – Feature #3, Kelly

Welcome to the 3rd feature in the Honest Mom series! Click here to read the previous installment.

View More: http://studiopopinc.pass.us/kelly-and-dave-1

Meet 33 year old Kelly, wife to Dave and mom to 2 adorable boys: smart, particular Rory (4 1/2) and easy going, charming Ian (2 1/2). Dave and Kelly are very entrepreneurial-minded. They’re great at DIY projects – in the traditional sense, around the home, but also on yourself – fitness, health, and bettering yourself are all areas they seem to incorporate in their every day life. Kelly is a SAHM, but always involved in projects – real estate, for example, and her new online fitness/health business.

A little about her: Dave and Kelly met in LaCrosse, Wisconsin at college. She has a degree in marketing while Dave has his in Exercise Sport Science with a minor in business. They’ve been married 8 years. Kelly’s been home with her boys for 5 years while staying active with various interests. Dave owns a sports training center and she’s getting her online fitness program off the ground. She loves steak and sushi, and calls herself crazy for liking activities like skydiving, hang gliding, bungee jumping, and rock climbing. She would love to go back to Mexico where she and Dave were married, and some day take her boys to visit all the castles in Ireland. (Dave and Kelly have a thing with castles!)

When asked about her parenting style, Kelly says they do whatever feels right for their family. She likes to take in all the advice from others and choose what works for them – this includes discipline, food choices, sleep ‘training’, etc. When asked about their parenting philosophy, she says, “We just want to have fun and see everyone laugh every day.”

Can you describe a typical day at your house, including bedtime routine? The boys wake up around 7:30 and we leave a banana or orange out for them. They turn on cartoons until one of us gets up. Dave and I alternate mornings. It’s pretty great! We have a real breakfast together around 9 (unless it’s a preschool day). Lunch is around noon, snack around 3 and dinner around 6 (but we are VERY flexible). Bed between 7:30-8pm in their shared room. Bedtime routine includes baths every other night, brushing teeth, reading books, and singing a few songs of their choice. They have been going right to sleep. I can’t believe I can finally say that after many struggles! Rory didn’t sleep through the night until 13 months old, but Ian has slept through the night perfectly since about 8 weeks old. They are SO different. My favorite part of our schedule is 8-10:30pm. Dave and I almost always spend it together: talking, watching whatever series we have on our DVR, and we sometimes (well, pretty often) have a glass of wine and cheese & crackers. Then we get ready to start over.

Can you tell us in more detail about your bedtime struggles? Rory has never liked to sleep. We tried EVERYTHING with him. After 12 months of getting up every night we finally let him cry after I stopped nursing (at 13 months old) and it took 33 minutes before he passed out the first night, 23 the second night, 5 the third night and he’s been sleeping ever since. I know that’s controversial but it worked for us and I have no regrets.

What kind of activities do you do with the boys? We try to do fun games and projects at home. We also take the kids out to lunch weekly and they usually want to go to Chick-fil-a to play at their play area or the TreeHouse in Lake Zurich. In the summer we walk to the beach and park everyday.

How do you split up the housework? Dave takes out the garbage, makes some of the meals and does a lot of the grocery shopping. I (try my best) to keep the house/toys/dishes/laundry under control.

What are the boys responsible for? They have clean-up time for toys at night, and Rory has to dress himself.

How do you discipline them? We mostly follow “1-2-3 Magic” and give timeouts or alone time to cool off. I’ll just say that having little kids is not easy. I had no idea how frustrating they can be. We don’t really have house rules – we are pretty easy-going. Except – no yelling in the house has been the biggest one lately.

Do you have meals or nutritional guidelines? Yep, we eat mostly real, unprocessed food at home so that we never feel guilty about birthday cake, special treats etc. Breakfast is usually eggs & bacon or a green smoothie, they would eat PB&Js for lunch everyday if I let them, sometimes I make homemade chicken nuggets or deli meat rollups. Dinner is usually meat and a couple veggies. We usually skip the breads/pastas but we don’t obsess over our diets or rule out any particular food.

Tell me more about the method you use to teach your boys nutrition. I am really against feeding kids junk. Special treats and parties are great but they really need to be eating unprocessed foods most of the time. We teach Green light, yellow light, red light foods (foods that are always, sometimes, rarely ever okay to eat). They also love to learn what different food does for you: build muscles, make you taller, give you energy, etc. We consider a mostly unprocessed food diet to be non-negotiable in our home. It’s a priority for me to help our kids learn healthy habits right now that they will take with them through life. Plus, they don’t get sick as often and less doctor visits saves money too 🙂

 What do you say to parents who are afraid feeding their kids almost all unprocessed food is outside of their budget? There are definitely ways to keep costs down and still eat healthy.
1)Growing your own vegetables in the summer (the kids love this)
2)Shopping at farmers markets for fresh produce.
3)Stock up on frozen veggies and even buy fresh berries in bulk and freeze them.
4)Start reading labels and choose better alternatives to what you are already buying.
I recently found a spaghetti sauce on the shelves right next to the one I used to buy (for the same price) and it was SO much better. It had all ingredients that I would use if I were making my own sauce and had no added preservatives, sugar, food dyes, or words I couldn’t pronounce. WooHoo!
These are my 6 Simple steps to start label reading:
http://www.fitfamilylifestyle.com/#!Food-Label-Reading-for-Beginners-6-Simple-Tips/cwmm/FF27B29D-BEB2-4780-A7AF-475A31F9CDEC

Focusing on you… Do you get time to yourself? When and how? I’ve been taking time to myself to simply workout (at home) and shower…sometimes that seems like a luxury. Dave and I also build art and tables and have an Etsy Shop called BuiltConcrete.

When do you find time for that – do you involve the boys in the building? We are blessed with a lot of time. Dave works for 3-5 hours each afternoon so we have most mornings together. One of us plays with the kids while the other works on whatever project we have going on. Teamwork! They go to preschool 3 mornings/week too. Sometimes the kids help out if we are working on something that they can do like gluing blocks on a board to make an art piece. 

What do you consider to be your greatest strength? Love. I’m pretty good at making up art projects, dancing, and tickling bellies too.

What do you struggle with most in daily life? The fighting. The boys are 2 years apart and fight all the time. When I hear myself yelling I usually stop and try to figure out what other ways we can solve whatever problem is going on without involving my emotions.  I’m also realizing that I used to judge parents for so many things that I now find myself doing. We always said “our kids won’t do that!” It’s pretty funny. I feel bad that I had those thoughts about other parents before I had my own kids. 

Ian crying because I gave him the wrong sippy cup.

Ian crying because I gave him the wrong sippy cup.

Rory crying

Rory crying because he didn’t want to leave yet

What do you think is the biggest challenge for moms in this generation? It feels like there is a lot of pressure to do everything and do it perfectly. Keep kids happy/entertained/educated, keep house clean, meals prepared, workout and even do something professionally and/or have hobbies. I realize that I can’t do it all. So usually the house is a mess and the kids are playing on their iPads or watching TV at some point since it’s winter. But we are all happy!

What’s a lesson you’ve learned the hard way from parenting? Try not to judge difficult children (and their parents!). Rory has been a handful since birth and I really think parents that have all calm or even children with regular temperaments will still judge and never quite understand. Like I talked about, naps and bedtime used to be a huge struggle, and Rory was the type that had NO flexibility with naps. We could not stay at a friend’s house and nap later or skip naps. For a year of my life I drove around to get him to take naps – but I actually started to enjoy it. I would make a hot drink and grab a book or magazine (since he would fall asleep then I could park someplace).  Now Ian is the opposite – he has been VERY flexible so it’s interesting having both sides.

What is your greatest hope for your boys? That they will grow up to be great friends and be happy and successful.

View More: http://studiopopinc.pass.us/kelly-and-dave-1

You can check out Kelly’s new fitness site (specially tailored for busy moms!) complete with free 14-day workout program, 20-minute at home workouts, meal ideas, and encouraging Facebook group here: www.FitFamilyLifestyle.com .

Honest Mom Series – Feature #2, Heather

Welcome to the second feature in the Honest Mom series! Click here to view the first and here to read the third.

Kalis family sit

Our next mom is 30 year old Heather, wife to Joe and mom to adorable Emery, 8 mos. Joe & Heather have always been a hardworking, go-getter couple who like to have fun. She loves her mom’s ‘good good chicken’  (She explains, “She had a recipe that we called the good chicken, and then she started making one we liked even better!“), and can’t live without chicken eggrolls. She would like to go back to Australia since her dad was born there, and she has family there, and also travel Europe. The most spontaneous thing she’s ever done is go white-water rafting when they were supposed to be driving home from West Virginia. Heather is a SAHM, but does some work from home.

A little about her: She and Joe both grew up in the Chicago area, but didn’t cross paths until college at Illinois State University in 2003.  They both have bachelor’s degrees: his is in business and hers in Elementary Education.  They had an on and off relationship until they joined Amway in 2005, had a common goal, and found their faith in God.  They’ve been married since June of 2007. Joe is a manager at an internet feedback company, and Heather is a SAHM, after 6 years of nannying.

When asked about her parenting style, Heather explains that as a Christian she’d like to say God is her compass, but that’s not always the case, and that she’s trying to figure it out as she goes. She explains, “Unfortunately I’m not sure.  I ask other moms their thoughts and just try and do what I think is best for her. I definitely pray about big decisions and for strength in certain situations, but probably not as much as I should!” Right now her philosophy is keeping Emery safe, fed, and well rested.

If you had to choose a mission statement for you as a mom, what would it be? To raise my children to love God, respect others, and know that they are loved no matter what they do.

Can you describe a typical day at your house, including bedtime routine? A typical day starts between 7-8am when I hear Emery chattering on the monitor.  I look at the video monitor and see she’s standing up, waiting for me.  We head downstairs for a diaper change, let the dog out, nurse, bottle, feed the dog, pump, then eat breakfast.  By the time all that gets done around 9:30, we play in the basement for an hour or less until it’s time to nurse/bottle and go down for a nap.  I have gotten into the habit of laying in the bed with Emery next to me.  It’s nice because sometimes I read, sometimes I go online, or sometimes I sleep.  I should probably just put her in her crib, but sometimes she wakes up early, crawls over to me and falls asleep on my chest for a little while longer.  She usually naps from 11-12:30 or so.  We get up, nurse/bottle, pump, mom eats lunch, and then it’s play time again.  Around 4 we nurse/bottle feed, and then it’s nap time.  She tries to fight this one even though she’s clearly tired, rubbing her eyes, and crying.  Sometimes I have to rock or nurse her to sleep.  She wakes up around 5:30…nurse/bottle feed, pump, play with daddy.  By 8:30 she’s ready for bed.  So she gets a bath, jammies, bottle, some yogurt, read a book, nurse, and then she is in her crib by 9 or 9:30…then I pump and go to bed. I try to be go with the flow. Obviously if someone is over or we go to someone’s house, she sleeps in the car and then everything gets thrown off…I’ve learned not to stress about it because she still sleeps through the night and it all works out.

What kind of activities do you do with Emery? When the weather was nicer, we would go to story time at the library a few times per week.  With the snow/cold, and sickness going around, we have stayed home.  We still try to meet up with a friend once a week for a playdate, but so many people have been sick, that hasn’t happened lately!  I’m looking forward to going to the park, playing house, and doing art with her when she gets a little older.

Emery2

Do you discipline Emery? I have flicked her on the hand if she gets too grabby and pulling hair…not sure it’s working but I haven’t been consistent.  Other than that, there isn’t much discipline needed…yet. We don’t have house rules yet, other than: 1. Keep the baby alive!

A different kind of discipline, housework: are you fully responsible for those duties? I am extremely blessed to not only have my awesome husband, but my mom lives with us!  She makes dinner every night…bless her heart!  I usually do the dishes.  She does the laundry…I put it away.  Joe is awesome, but doesn’t do the daily chores.  He’s more of the moneymaker/project doer.

What are your nutritional guidelines? Right now we are mostly still breastmilk and formula, but when I do give her solids I try to give her a variety of foods…not too much fruit, things with good fats, etc.  I’m sure as she eats more, I’ll be even more conscious of putting good things in her.  I definitely am more conscious of what she eats than what I eat.

What about time to yourself? I think it’s very important but haven’t figured out how to get this time or what to do with it!

Tell us about your struggles and challenges as a mom. We haven’t had much struggle happen, since she is so young. A turning point for me is when I realized that in every situation, I can only do my best and that is good enough.  Things are not going to be perfect and that’s ok. Having time to myself is my biggest daily struggle…and when I do have a few minutes of time to myself, figuring out what to do with it!  I’m so used to not having any time, that I just busy myself with games on my phone, doing dishes, showering or cleaning up.  It’s like I forgot what other things there are to do, like reading or working out. My biggest worry is making the wrong choices on food, health, play, etc. I realize that I make every decision for her and I just hope that I’m doing the right thing. There are so many different opinions on what is right so no matter what you choose, there are people who say you’re wrong.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for moms in this generation? I think the biggest challenge is knowing who to listen to.  There are so many “experts” with conflicting advice.  We have access to too much information and it’s overwhelming and confusing!  To deal with it, I try to gather opinions from other moms who have been there, done that.  From there, I decide which advice would best fit our situation and family. I think there is also pressure to have “perfect kids”.  You go to the store and your kid is most likely going to act up.  You have so many people judging you on your poor parenting because you “can’t control your kid”.  I think people who either don’t have kids or haven’t been around them in a long time forget that no matter how well you discipline your kids, they are going to act out and sometimes there isn’t much you can do about it.  I haven’t really had to deal with this as a mother, but definitely had times with the girls I nannied for that I had to deal with this.

What are some of your proudest moments? I am always really proud when Emery learns to do something new like crawling, standing, and waving. It’s cool how things happen so quickly and the smallest new thing that they do seems so amazing.

What is your greatest hope for Emery? I just hope and pray that they grow up knowing that they are loved.  I want them to be healthy physically, spiritually, and emotionally…knowing they can do anything they put their mind to!

Emery1

You can read a little more about Heather on her occasionally updated blog: www.heatherkalis.com.

Honest Mom Series – Feature #1, Charlotte

Welcome to the first feature in the Honest Mom series! Click here to read the next installment.image

Our first mom is 28 year old Charlotte, wife to Ben and mom to 2 adorable boys, Preston (3 1/2) and Mason (15 months). From knowing Ben & Charlotte, I admire their commitment to one another. They’ve always seemed very sensitive to one another’s needs and selfless in the desire to make the other one happy. Charlotte is a SAHM.

A little about her: Charlotte’s story starts in England, where she was raised until the age of 10, when they moved to Michigan for her dad’s job. She attended Western Michigan University and graduated with a bachelor’s in Fashion Merchandising and a minor in psychology (she understands this is random).  She & Ben met while in college, through a mutual friend, in 2005. They were engaged in 2006 and married on Aug 4th, 2007. Once married, they moved to Chicago and lived there for 6.5 years until this past April when they moved back to Michigan to take over Ben’s family business- a Christmas Tree Farm! Charlotte loves her dad’s lasagna, Chuck Norris jokes, visiting family in London, and wants to see the 7 Wonders of the World.

When asked about her parenting style, Charlotte says she and Ben look to God for guidance, and rely on their parents advice in some areas. She believes her greatest strengths are being understanding, approachable, and patient, and can sense when her boys are uncomfortable. She wants to soak in every moment with her boys, and picks her battles. She says, “I never want my boys to think that spilled milk is more important than them.”

If you had to choose a mission statement for you as a mom, what would it be? I am here to protect, guide, and teach. I see it as my purpose to shape my boys into Men, with my hubby leading. I want to show them how to treat a lady and how a lady should treat them in a relationship.  I want to instill into them Godly principles and what their true worth is.

Can you describe a typical day at your house, including bedtime routine? The boys wake up around 7-7:30. They come out and get to watch Disney Jr. while I get them their breakfast (PB on toast with bananas, or waffles with strawberries, or cereal). We then get dressed for the day and either make our way to a playdate, or the library, or grocery store. If we are going to be at home I make sure to have at least one craft for the day, whether that be helping me cook dinner, make cupcakes, coloring, painting, etc.  We do best if we stay busy with playdates.  We usually have at least two playdates a week scheduled. They love them and it gives me time to chat with other moms.  We also go to the museum, for a walk, etc. We try to be home for lunch so I can give them food, then Mason will go down for a nap for 2-3 hours.  During that time I get to spend quality time with my Preston: we do puzzles, or read, or play whatever he wants. I let the daytime schedule be more easy going, mainly because I don’t want to hold Preston back from doing anything just because Mason has to nap.  Mason learned to adjust to napping in the stroller and car early on.  I do follow betimes closely though; my boys have always been good sleepers, but they NEED their sleep!  Once Mason wakes up, the boys have a snack, then usually play together while I prep dinner.  We eat dinner around 5pm as a family up at the table.  We then play some more till about 6, then its bath time and the start of our bedtime routine.  They take a bath, get to watch some more Disney Jr, then we read them a book and they are in bed by 7pm.

On to housework! Are you fully responsible for those duties? No! Thankfully my hubby is awesome and helps out completely! Even though I stay at home and he works, he knows that I need help. We don’t really have anything set in stone as to who does what, its kind of on the spot, seeing what needs to be done everyday.
How about the boys – do they do chores? I JUST started to have Preston do chores.  He has to pick up his room every night, and also help pick up the living room.  He now knows to put dirty laundry in his hamper in his closet, and has to put his dishes in the sink after eating.  Mason tries to help with picking up toys which is awesome – he just wants to be like his big brother! I had a hard time instilling these; I never had any chores growing up, but I want to teach them to serve and be good husbands. We use a reward system (M&M’s work well!).

How do you discipline the boys? We will put them in time out or take toys or privileges away from them if they do not listen repeatedly.  We will ask twice, and if they do not do as we say, then we will take things away.  It works well for Preston, he is very sensitive and does not respond to yelling, and honestly I’ve never tried spanking, nor will I ever.  I’m not much of a disciplinarian, and that’s been something I have had to overcome, and realize I cannot just be friends.  I had a huge fear (but now have victory over) that something bad would happen after I disciplined one of them, and then that would be the last thing they would remember of me, and not feel loved. Our house rules are basic: pick up your toys when you are don; put your dishes in the sink; put trash where it belongs; say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’; no hitting or pushing.

What are your nutritional guidelines? We have a meat, veggie and starch with each meal. Fruit for dessert unless it’s a special occasion, or if they are sick then I really will give them whatever they want!

Let’s focus on you for a minute. Do you get time to yourself? When and how? Without time to myself, I would not be a good Mom.  My hubby is great about helping me get me time.  I go get my nails done, go grocery shopping(yes that counts!), going to get coffee with a friend, my MOPS meeting. I’m sure I could start a hobby, but I’m still trying to figure out what I would want to pursue that I would be passionate about.

Tell us about your struggles and challenges as a mom. After Mason was born, I just didn’t feel right.  I was overjoyed that I had two healthy boys, however, I could not get an anxious feeling away from me.  I was so worried that I wasn’t giving BOTH boys 100% of me, now that they had to share.  I was worried that I would step away to do something with one and the other would get hurt, or feel unloved.  Ben had started to notice things, and finally asked me when Mason was about 2 weeks old if I was ok. I broke down.  I was completely honest that I was having a mini breakdown daily.  He suggested I go talk to my Doctor, and he also talked to his boss at the time who was awesome and gave him more flexibility at work.  Of course I was still in denial and didn’t go to the Doctor right away.  When Mason was 6 weeks at my checkup, I just broke down and was diagnosed with post partum anxiety (after a very long appointment with him).  I knew I didn’t feel depressed; I had honestly never been happier that I had two healthy boys, but there was a feeling I could not shake.  He recommended me to a family therapist who specialized in Moms with post partum.  I saw her for a few months and she helped me a ton. Now, Mason is 15 months and I feel I have complete victory over this.  I now wake up daily SO excited that I get to spend every minute of every day with my boys, without the daunting feeling I had. I struggle with social pressure to be perfect, and to do everything because I am a SAHM. My greatest fear is my boys will get something that I can’t fix, and I will lose them.

Speaking of social pressure… What do you think is the biggest challenge for moms in this generation? To be it all! To be super mom.  I think there is so much judgment that comes along with ‘mommyhood’ nowadays.  We are judged on how we give birth, how we feed our babies, how we sleep train, how we school them, etc.  I think its hard to really be true to yourself sometimes and do what you know is right in your heart.

What are some of your proudest moments? Preston starting preschool and doing so well with it – at his parents evening we were told that he is such a big helper and so polite.  Seeing my boys play together so well and give each other kisses.
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What is your greatest hope for the boys? Health and happiness.  Happiness meaning whatever makes them happy; if they are happy, I am happy.
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Honest Mom Series

I am embarking on a new adventure I’ve titled the “Honest Mom” series, in which I interview several moms about their daily life, challenges, and victories. This series will be several weeks long with a different mom featured every week. There are many subjects we will discuss, including:
Parenting Style
Daily Routine
Housework
Discipline
Meals & Nutrition
Struggles & Challenges
Generational & Societal Pressures
Proud Moments and Hopes

The goal of this series is to act as a reminder that while we aren’t necessarily all in this together physically, we are not alone. Seeing the similarities in other moms can help to remind us that even if a mom makes different decisions for her family, we all choose based on what we believe is best for our family. We need to encourage one another and share what has worked for each of us – because God knows sometimes we just run out of ideas. In those moments of almost desperation, it is good to know other moms have been there too, come up with effective solutions, and come out better on the other side.

I have taken something from each and every interview, and it has by far been the most popular topic on the blog yet!

I truly believe that if we put away our proud attitudes and focus on the ways we are ALIKE, we can really help each other succeed in being the best we are able to be – and feeling confident in who we are.

Proverbs 15:22 – Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.

Meet our Moms: Charlotte, HeatherKelly, and Kristina.