Encouraging an Active Family Lifestyle

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I’m excited to be over at the Tommy Nelson blog today sharing our journey to a more active lifestyle as a family! Tommy Nelson is getting ready to release a young reader’s version of Finding Gobi, as well a picture book version, featuring the adventure of an ultramarathoner and a dog. My son really enjoyed the young reader’s version and it reminded me that inspiration for active living can even come from reading a book!

Here’s a little bit of our story…

There was a time in our life as a family where our children didn’t want to play outside. They didn’t want to go for a run or walk or play backyard baseball. The boys preferred to stay inside to build with Legos, watch TV, and read. Building with Legos and reading are excellent activities, but kids have a lot of energy, and especially my boys. When they aren’t active, that energy can (and will) be spent in unproductive and destructive ways, such playing recklessly in the house and fighting with siblings.

I know, at the time, my husband and I weren’t great active examples for our kids. Exercise was low on our priority list for a long time, but five years ago, we both started to run and take better care of ourselves. Soon, we were running several days a week and training for races. Running improved our fitness level and gave us more energy to play with the kids. Instead of sitting around watching TV with the kids, we were inviting them to go for a walk or to go play tennis…

Head on over to Tommy Nelson to read more about how the kids responded to these changes and a few of my favorite tips for getting your family moving and healthy!

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USA All the Way!

I received these shirts to review from Cents of Style. This post contains affiliate links.

One of my favorite things about the summer is the Fourth of July – the lake, the family fun, the fireworks! Our Fourth of July celebrations usually include a trip to my uncle and aunt’s lake cabin in Minnesota. It’s one of my very favorite traditions from growing up and now we get to take our boys there! With tons of family around and tons of things to do, the day just flies by and lots of memories are made. After tubing, jet skis, water skiing, front yard football and baseball, backyard badminton, and fantastic food, everybody loves to settle in around the campfire for stories and s’mores. It really is the perfect summer day!

There are two holidays for which I buy everyone in the family new shirts every year – St. Patrick’s Day and Independence Day! I just can’t help myself when I see all the fun new red, white, and blue apparel appear in stores and online. With the boys growing so fast now, they definitely can’t fit into their shirts from the previous year!

This year, I picked out the boys’ Fourth of July shirts from Cents of Style!

I love these baseball raglan tees so much and so do my boys! While are July days are usually quite hot, the nights can get quite chilly, especially at the lake, so these are a great option for layering as we head to the campfire!

The classic baseball raglan tee is perfect for any age because it never goes out of style! And these lightweight tees let my boys still be active without getting too hot! They even wore them for our newest favorite activity: shooting hoops in our driveway!

Gosh, I love being a boy mom! This new basketball hoop by our driveway has been the BEST thing for our active boys – I can’t get them to come inside!

 

Now, about those shirts…

Cents of Style has all kinds of fun and festive kids’ shirts on sale this weekend only! Use the code KIDSTORY to get 50% off all kids’ shirts – some will be as low as $5! Shipping is free, too! This deal ends Sunday, June 18th, so don’t miss out!

Which shirts will your kid(s) be sporting from this awesome collection?!

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Dear Son, Be The Good

I received this shirt to review from Cents of Style. This post contains affiliate links.

Dear Son,

Yesterday you turned 11 years old. That just seems so impossible and so wonderful to me at the same time. You are my firstborn, the one who made me a mama, my mini-me in your love for history, learning, and the Packers. We have our differences, but we’re also alike in enough ways that we both “get” each other and butt heads often. I try to remember that God can and will use your stubbornness for good, so that’s what I’m praying for you every day.

This morning, the day after your birthday, was a little rough. I always hate the day after my birthday because it’s “just another day.” I can tell you were feeling that, too. But it doesn’t have to be. We have a choice every single day. I want you to choose to see the good around you and be thankful for it. And I want you to choose one more thing.

I pray you will choose to BE THE GOOD. This world has enough people waiting around for good things to happen for them. You don’t have to be those people. There are so many opportunities for you to be the good this world needs.

Smile at someone. Look for people who need a helping hand. Pray for a friend. Do something nice for your brothers. Find an injustice or cause that moves you and get involved in changing it for the better.

For as many things as there are going wrong in our world, there are as many (or more) ways for you to make a positive difference.

I know you love Jesus, and every good thing comes from Him. Stay connected to Jesus and not only will He help you see where you can shine some good, but He will also give you the strength you need to keep doing good for His glory.

Be the good, son. I’ll be right beside you doing the same.

Love, Mom

*****

Whatever you want to BE, the “Be Series” from Cents of Style will help you get and stay inspired!

All of the “Be Series” tees are just $15.95 with the code BESTORY this weekend! So many choices – there is literally a shirt for anything you want to be! I love all of my Cents of Style tees – great quality, soft, and so stylish! Grab your favorites while they’re on this amazing sale!

 

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Supporting Your Kids During Standardized Tests

Oh, boy – it’s standardized testing time. Is it for your kids, too?

Our school puts a big emphasis on standardized tests, but they also do so much to ensure kids are prepared for them. While it’s a big deal, my kids have felt pretty calm and relaxed about the actual tests because they’ve been practicing and studying in class for so long.

I know every kid reacts differently to standardized tests, but every kid needs our prayer and support leading up to and during test week. They just need that support in unique ways!

I’m over at the Tommy Nelson blog talking about ways to get your kids through standardized testing, however they might feel about it!

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The True Story of the Three Little Pigs at The Rose!

I attended a complimentary preview of this show at The Rose Theater.

The Rose Theater is an Omaha treasure. The Rose puts on the most wonderful children’s theater performances and our family enjoyed everything about it last year! The talent is top notch, the stories are unique and fun, and the whole family can enjoy the music, humor, and beautiful theater atmosphere.

I really didn’t think I could love The Rose more, but then yesterday happened. They took one of my very favorite children’s books and performed as a musical. I died from happiness. And now I’m sharing it with you.

First, please tell me you and your children have read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka. If not, I’ll wait while you go order it from Amazon or request it from your library. Go ahead. No, really. Do it.

I fell in love with this brilliant children’s book as a child and I still have so much of it memorized. Scieszka cleverly tells the the story of the three little pigs from the wolf’s perspective. It is just delightful.

Take that delightfully clever story, add 60s-style clothes and music, and involve the audience in the performance as the jury for the Big Bad Wolf’s trial, and that is the magic we witnessed at The Rose yesterday! The five-member ensemble cast took us on a captivating journey into the courtroom of Judge Juris Prudence (HA!) where the Mr. Wolf is getting a not-so-fair trial from the pig-biased judge and prosecutor.

The little man and I had so much fun following the story of Alexander T. Wolf (left) as told by courtroom reporter Lillian McGill (right). These two are rockstars, with amazing voices, great dance moves, and lots of hilarity! Lil McGill keeps the audience engaged and informed throughout so they can decide what will happen to Al in the end – is Mr. Wolf guilty or not guilty? The kids went crazy when they got to chime in and celebrated as the cast sang about their verdict – NOT GUILTY! The fun part – each show could end differently based on what the audience decides!

The show is recommended for families of children ages six and up, but my 4.5 year old loved it, too! The show is approximately 60 minutes long without an intermission.

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs at the Rose Theater runs January 27 through February 12, with performances on Fridays at 7 pm, Saturdays at 2 pm and 5 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm. Tickets are $20. Discount ticket vouchers are available at all area Hy-Vee stores. Members of The Rose receive four free tickets to the production.

I have FOUR TICKETS TO GIVE AWAY today!

That’s right! One of you will win four tickets to the show of your choice (based on availability)! Just leave a comment below answering this question: Do you think Alexander T. Wolf, aka The Big Bad Wolf, is GUILTY or NOT GUILTY of intentionally killing the piggies? Do you think you’ll change your mind once you hear HIS side of the story?

You can also earn extra entries by sharing this post on Facebook and Twitter!

CLICK HERE TO TWEET THIS >> The True Story of the Three Little Pigs is at @RoseTheaterCo! Win 4 tickets from @homewiththeboys!

Just leave an extra comment for each way you share the post on social media! This giveaway runs through Monday, January 30th at 8PM CST. One winner will be chosen at random and notified via email.

*****

The True Story of The Three Little Pigs is sponsored by Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Baird Holm, the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. Special opening night activities are sponsored by Kiewit Companies.

SPECIAL NOTE: The 2 pm show on Saturday, Feb. 4 will be interpreted for people who are deaf or hard of hearing; the 5 pm show on Saturday, Feb. 4 is designated as sensory-friendly, with special accommodations made for families attending with a child on the autism spectrum. The 2 pm show on Saturday, Feb. 11 will include audio description services for audience members who are blind. Contact The Rose Box Office at (402) 345-4849 for more information.

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Those First Years

This post was sponsored by WaterWipes as part of an Ambassador Program for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.

I’ve been through that first year with a little one three times. Thanks to WaterWipes, I’ve spent a little time thinking back on those first years. Each of my sons’ first years had lots in common, but they were also so different for me AND for them.

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The first “first year” was full of new things for all of us. Every milestone was a first for our son, but also for us as parents. The first feeding, first diaper change, first time getting peed on during a diaper change – and that was just the first day! I remember lots of exhaustion, but I also remember being in awe of this little person and the fact that he was ours.

Big J birth_opt

The responsibility was weighty, but it also brought my husband and I together as a team like nothing before it. We were raising this little man and we couldn’t do it without one another. Marriage united us, but parenting together that first year elevated our teamwork to a whole new level. Of all the firsts – foods and words and steps – being parents together for the first time might have been my favorite part.

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The second “first year,” with our second son, was a whole new world. With a two-year-old holding much of our attention, this little one learned to fall asleep on his own much faster and had built in entertainment AND competition from his older brother. We had joyful firsts, but we also had challenging firsts – our first experience with reflux and a teething nursing baby – YIKES! Where my husband and I solidified our unity during our first son’s first year, with #2, I was learning how to be a stay-at-home mom. And I started a blog. This blog. That first year of blogging is a whole different story…

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There was a longer gap between the second and third child, so I almost felt like I was starting over! Our third son’s first year was a little stressful as it involved moving to a new city, job change, and homeschool. When I think back on it now, though, our third little boy brought so much joy and laughter during that first year. Our oldest son was too young to remember when his middle brother was a baby, so both him and our middle son were fascinated by all the new things their youngest brother was doing! Remember that awe I talked about with our first son? I could see it on the faces of our older two boys when the littlest started to crawl, took on the stairs (way too early), and started forming words.

2015 Three Boys Bridge

How can it be ten years since that first year? When I think back on it all, it can be a blur, but it’s been a beautiful, messy, wonderful blur of life with these boys of ours. These memories helped me realize that it didn’t matter where we were or what we had during those first years. What mattered was this family and realizing those boys needed and loved us more than anything else. And we love them even more.

I’m thankful that WaterWipes is taking the time to discuss, celebrate, and bring transparency to baby’s first year. Take a look at this fabulous video from WaterWipes and moms just like you and me:

This is just another reason I love WaterWipes. Their product is pure and perfect for the first years that we are remembering and celebrating here! Whether you’re in that first year or down the parenting road a ways, WaterWipes can keep you and your kids clean in the simplest, purest way (99.9% pure Irish water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract).

Let’s talk about the first year! Favorite memories? Craziest moments?

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In Case Your Kids Want to Talk About the Election…

I have never wanted to NOT talk about an election more than this one, but because of the nature of our overly-connected, social media world, that seems to be ALL people are talking about right now. I’m thankful to have a four-year-old at home with me all day who wants to talk about Legos and coloring and Star Wars, but it’s different with the older kids. They hear things at school. They see political commercials. They overhear conversations between adults. They have questions.

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While I don’t want to talk about the election, I am raising American citizens and I am also raising Christian young men. I put aside my distraught feelings for a while to write out a plan for talking to our children about the election through the eyes of my faith. You can read my thoughts over on the Tommy Nelson blog today.

Yes, I feel great despair about the direction of our country, but I also look to my children and to Jesus and find hope. Let us speak words of life to our children and lift up words of prayer to our God:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. -1 Timothy 2:1-4

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Life Is Tough, But So Are You

This post contains affiliate links. I received the tee to review for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

I have a problem when life sends tough stuff my way. I tend to focus on the tough stuff and not on the way through it. I wallow. I worry. I complain. Life is tough, and I don’t like it.

I’m really thankful God is growing me in this area and doesn’t allow me to stay in that place for long. Life IS tough, but so am I. I didn’t always think this way. Strong and tough were not labels I would have always claimed. That has changed over the past fifteen years because I’ve been through moments that required strength I didn’t even know I had. Rather than focus on the fear, worry, or discouragement I felt in those tough moments, I choose to focus on the toughness inside of me that carried me through and brought me out a better person on the other side.

What are those tough moments in your life that uncovered your strength?

For me, three particular times of my life come to mind. These are all very positive events in my life, but they each required (or still require) all the toughness I could pull together.

  • Childbirth
  • Motherhood
  • Running a marathon

Childbirth and running a marathon tested my body beyond what I ever imagined, but they also maxed out my mental toughness. I have so much joy associated with the memories of giving birth to our boys and crossing that marathon finish line, but I also knew that I could do just about anything if I could make it through those exhausting feats.

Motherhood is a whole different kind of tough and this is where I needed (and still need) the biggest mental adjustment. It is also where I need the strength of God inside me most. Raising children is no joke, people, but it is some of the most important work I will do. My children will make mistakes, butt heads with me, and need the same lessons taught to them many times. We’re all sinners and life together is messy. When it gets tough, I need to not feel defeated or discouraged, but rather repeat to myself: “This is tough, but so are you.”

Now I have the shirt to remind me:

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When I don’t have the toughness I need, I know God is there to strengthen me and to surround me with family and friends that will hold me up and call out that strength. We need to be those people for each other.

I know so many people going through hard things – illnesses, divorce, natural disasters, job loss, etc. I wish I could give each of you a great big hug, pray with you, then remind you that you are just as tough as those circumstances. Let’s be done with despair and defeat and worry. I’m ready to embrace my toughness with a smile.

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The new “Life Is…” t-shirt line from Cents of Style captures all of life perfectly. Life is tough, but it is also beautiful, sweet, grand, and an adventure. However you see life or WANT to see life, one of shirts will speak to you!

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The “Life Is” collection launches today with a fabulous sale! Pick your favorite shirt and use the code LIFEIS1 at checkout to get it for just $15.95 with free shipping! That is a huge steal for these gorgeous, high quality tees.

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How do you see life? How do you want to embrace this life? Grab a shirt today to claim that vision!

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Think About Their Eyes!

This post was sponsored by Think About Your Eyes as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. All thoughts and opinions are completely my own.

I remember our oldest son mentioning a few times here and there that he couldn’t see a clock that was far away, but he didn’t talk about it that much, so I didn’t do anything about it. As someone who has never had vision problems, it didn’t occur to me that he might be having trouble beyond what he said.

At his first yearly checkup at our pediatrician after the first mention of difficulty seeing, he was still able to pass the vision test, so I thought we were all good. We were also homeschooling at the time, so he wasn’t sitting in a classroom struggling to see things written on the board. As the next year went on, however, I heard him say, “I can’t see that,” more and more often. By the next year’s physical, it was confirmed that we needed to see an eye doctor.

As I said, I don’t wear glasses or contacts, so this was new territory for me. Thankfully, my husband has worn glasses since childhood, so he has been able to give Big J advice and support from another glasses-wearer. He was nine-years-old when he had his first eye doctor appointment and we found out he was quite far-sighted. A prescription was given and glasses were ordered.

I will never forget our oldest son’s reaction when he first put on those glasses. He could suddenly see so many things he had never seen before – the individual leaves on a tree, our kitchen clock from far away, and much more. He was so excited and I was so emotional! I thought glasses might bum him out a little, but it was the exact opposite – it was all joy!

Big J Glasses

All of this happened right before he started going to school and I am so grateful for that timing! As we’re starting a new school year, I know that he is not impeded by poor vision in the classroom. No child should worry about their education suffering because they cannot see. And eye doctor appointments are not only for kids with glasses or contacts as 50% of parents believe. That’s why this new program, Think About Your Eyes, is so important!

August is Eye Exam Awareness Month, so now is the time to prioritize your child’s eye health. I’m partnering with Think About Your Eyes this month because 25% of school-age children have vision problems and I don’t want you to miss them in your child like I almost did with my son! 24% of parents are like me and wait for their child to complain about vision trouble before getting an exam. He didn’t know what “normal” vision was, but one comprehensive eye exam showed us that he needed help. I really wish we would have had his vision checked sooner.

80% of what children learn comes through vision, so getting those eyes checked as school starts up this fall is crucial. You will help ensure there are no visual obstacles to learning and you could prevent more serious complications that could occur from untreated problems.

Check out this video from Think About Your Eyes:

Need some help scheduling those exams? Check out this doctor locator from Think About Your Eyes! They’ve got you covered for making this important task easy on you!

Let’s celebrate Eye Exam Awareness Month by scheduling eye exams for our kids!

Have you had your child’s vision checked lately?

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It’s a Sister Thing

This post contains affiliate links.

My sister and I have not lived in the same place during our adult years. Despite the miles between us, we are closer than ever. Marriage and motherhood have given my sister and I so much to bond over. She is a wonderful aunt to our boys, and her two daughters and my three boys just adore each other! We only live less than three hours apart, so I’m thankful we get to see each other in person several times a year. And phone calls are a must, when we can find a few minutes of quiet!

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Now we’re adding another bonding experience. This fall, my sister and I will do something we’ve never done before: take a sisters-only trip! The trip is about sister time and being able to chat for hours without kids interrupting us (YAY!), but it’s also about another shared interest: running!

Sisters First Half

My sister ran my first 5K with me and I had the fun privilege of running with her for her first half marathon last fall. Next up is our sisters trip to run another half marathon together! We’ll also get some fun shopping and relaxing time before and after the race and I CANNOT WAIT!

Sis, if you’re reading this, I am super thankful for you and for the way our relationship has grown better and better over the years. I have a little present for you to celebrate our trip and our friendship. (I just borrowed it for a few minutes for this photo shoot, but it’s all yours!)

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I like to wear reminders of the things that are important to me and I like to give gifts that do the same. This rose gold “Sister” necklace is both meaningful and fashionable – does it get any better?! I know it will look perfect on my gorgeous sister!

Sister Necklace

Cents of Style has so many great necklaces to celebrate the things important to us in their Tribe collection and they are just $11.99 each with free shipping when you use the code TRIBE4 at checkout! Just look at all the amazing choices in this collection:

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At this price, I think I need go order a few more for myself (since the sister one is for my sister!) and as gifts!

What Tribe necklace will you be ordering during this sale? Don’t forget to use the code TRIBE4 and order before this sale ends!

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