Just When You Think He’s Not Listening

We have that one child who seems like he never hears us the first time around. Getting his attention and holding it isn’t always easy. While he is very smart and does so well in school, sometimes I’ve wondered if anything we say is soaking in.

Do you have a child like that? Let me give you a little hope today.

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As we drove to school one morning last week, our three-year-old asked: “When do we get to be with Jesus?”

That’s a pretty deep question for 7:30 in the morning while stuck in stop-and-go traffic. I took a big breath and readied my answer, but seven-year-old Little J chimed in first.

“We get to be with Jesus when we go to heaven! And in heaven, there is no pain or sickness or sadness. It’s all happy!”

This definitely got my attention in the best way possible. Double J (our three-year-old) seemed very interested as well and his big brother wasn’t done yet.

“You get to go to heaven if you ask Jesus into your heart! Big J and I have both asked Jesus to come into our hearts so we’ll be in heaven with Him. You can ask Him, too!”

Cue the big mommy tears.

Our rides to school in the morning have been a highlight of my day. We always start with prayer and then the kids take turns picking music to listen to and sing. It feels like some calm in the middle of a chaotic morning.


But that morning last week. That morning topped them all. The child who doesn’t always listen, who seems to often be in his own little world…he has most certainly been listening. He has soaked up the true meaning of the Gospel over the years, and he was fully ready to share it with his little brother, without being asked.

His younger brother has been listening as well, because in the midst of hiding tears of joy behind my sunglasses and trying to keep my blurry eyes on the road, I heard his little three-year-old voice say:

“And Jesus is in heaven because He died on the cross and rose from the tomb!”

All those days of reading Bible stories over and over again, of memorizing verses and singing worship songs, of answering the same questions over and over again…they are 100% worth it, moms and dads. Our kids coming to know the love and saving power of Jesus is all His grace, but you are doing His good work when you share the Good News with your children day after day.


In the days following, three-year-old Double J has talked a lot about heaven and death and what he will get to take with Him. So much of this is a mystery even to us as mature Christians, so I don’t have all the answers for him. He’s pretty sad that his Duplos won’t go with him to heaven. But I love the conversation that is happening in our home, all because our seven-year-old was bold in sharing the message of salvation he has been hearing all through his young life.

All this discussion led to a few little words with big weight from our youngest earlier this week:

“Mommy, I can’t wait to be with Jesus in heaven.”

Me neither, buddy.

May we all live with the boldness, the faith, and the joy of our children, soaking up every little bit of God’s goodness.

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Pete the Cat: The Musical! {Giveaway}

This weekend, my guys will head to The Rose Theater to experience a whole new kids’ musical that debuted here in Omaha just last week and I know they will totally love it! How do I know? Double J and I got a sneak peek last Friday!


Pete the Cat: The Musical is based on the beloved character of the same name from the children’s books. He’s a rockin’ and rollin’ blue cat and, in the musical, Pete and his friends are headed to their first day of kindergarten. Their day is filled with new experiences, lots of fun, and great music!


The show covers a wide range of topics relevant to kids, particularly emotions and colors, but the music is what will captivate your whole family! While the story will appeal mostly to preschoolers and early elementary age children, the quality of the music and vocal performances are top notch and will be appreciated by everyone. It delights me so much when something intended for children is of the highest quality – they deserve the best, too!


And all of this is why we love The Rose! Great theater experiences for kids are hard to find, but not here in Omaha. With most performances running around an hour, even our three-year-old is able to pay attention to and enjoy the whole show. The Rose also adds extra special touches just for the kids: booster seats, post-show Q&A, and the most delightful atmosphere! For all of these reasons, we didn’t hesitate to get a family membership for this year and I know we will enjoy every single show.


Pete the Cat: The Musical started last weekend at The Rose, but it runs through September 27th and we want to help your family experience it! You can grab your tickets for $18 each or you can find ticket vouchers at your local HyVee for just $14 each! After getting your vouchers, you will need to make reservations directly with The Rose.

OR you could WIN four tickets to see Pete the Cat: The Musical right here!

Just leave a comment on this post telling me who you would love to take to see Pete the Cat: The Musical! For extra entries, share this giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter and leave a separate comment tell me how you shared!

This giveaway will close Thursday, September 17th at noon CST to give the winner time to make reservations for the show of their choice!

Who is ready to groove with Pete the Cat? Do you already have plans to attend?

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3 Ways to Motivate Your Kids for Monday Morning!

The older our kids get, the harder it is to get them up and moving in the morning. Our three-year-old will still often bound out of bed, all smiles, well before any of us are ready wake up. The nine and seven-year-old? Not so much. The alarm goes off, I go in to make sure they’re getting up, open the curtains…and sometimes they don’t move an inch. I know there are other moms with me in this experience.

Mondays are usually the worst. After a weekend of family fun, my tired boys need some extra motivation to jump start their Mondays. I try to give them some extra things to look forward to on Mondays so they are ready to tackle another week. Here are a few ideas that have worked well for us:

3 Ways to Motivate Your Kids for Monday Mornings

Make a special Monday morning breakfast

“Special breakfast” can mean a wide variety of things and is different for each family. For my kids, pancakes or muffins on a Monday morning would be a special treat. These guys get pretty excited about food, so knowing they have something extra yummy waiting for them for breakfast actually gets them moving pretty well! Your children might like cereal, so save a special kind just for Monday mornings. I have one kiddo who loves eggs, so this would be a treat for him. Find a family favorite that you can make ahead of time or without much effort to bless your family to start the week! Can I recommend these chocolate chip scones that are our back-to-school tradition? The boys ask for them for every special occasion!

Talk about the week ahead

Does anybody else have calendar-watching kids? My boys area constantly checking the calendar to see what is coming up – holidays, events, lessons, days off – they want to know it all. They thrive when they know the plan and they get excited about what’s coming. We like to talk them through the week ahead on Sunday night or Monday morning. They know what to look forward to and what we expect of them for the week. It might sound less-than-thrilling, but in our family, it works as a great motivator!

Morning devotions

You might not see your kids get all excited about reading a devotion before school, but having time with God before they head out or get to work at home is the most important motivator I can think of! Whatever has happened the day before or over the weekend, I want our children to go about their days motivated by the love God has for them and the love He wants them to show others. That’s what it’s all about, people. The love of Jesus in and through our kids. We have a copy of Every Day a Blessing that has been worn out by two kids going all the way through it during morning devotions. It’s easy to understand, short enough to fit into even the busiest morning, and packed with truth. If you’re looking for a great daily devotion for your elementary kids, I highly recommend this one! Your reading kiddos could read it on their own or you could read it aloud to them during breakfast.

Monday can be rough or Monday can be the start of something epic (my son’s favorite word right now). Try some of these ideas or pick something that would energize and encourage your kids and make Mondays the best part of your week!

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Backyard Football Therapy

Saturday wasn’t the best day for our beloved Nebraska Cornhusker football team. We were crushed by the way it all went down, losing on a last second Hail Mary touchdown and all.

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The Hubby gets all the dad points, though, because instead of sulking, as we both wanted to do, he gathered the boys and headed to the backyard for a game of football. And I took my camera out there to capture the fun.

I think it was good therapy for all of us.

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Recovering from football with more football. That’s how we do it in this Nebraska house of boys.

How did your team do this weekend?


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Back to School with OshKosh B’Gosh!

I participated in a Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for OshKosh B’Gosh. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

You may recall how my boys fell in love with OshKosh B’Gosh clothes this summer. They seriously love shopping at OshKosh B’Gosh and wear their OshKosh clothes all the time. The active clothes and graphic tees have been their favorite!

We headed back to our local OshKosh B’Gosh outlet store to do some back-to-school shopping and we were not disappointed!

OshKosh Back to School

Back-to-school season is completely different this year as we are sending our boys to school for the first time. They are going to school in style with the great shirts they picked out from OshKosh’s new Black, White, and Indigo collection!

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Little J is in second grade and is a big fan of this glow-in-the-dark baseball tee. It is a great piece to transition to fall – long-sleeved but lightweight and super fun – just like my Little J!

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Big J just started fourth grade and he likes to look sharp. I think he looks very handsome in this dark denim shirt that pulls from the OshKosh jeans tradition but with a modern twist. OshKosh B’Gosh jeans are well loved and always in style. I think we can say the same about this shirt!

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Double J is home with Mommy and loving the one-on-one time, but he didn’t want to miss out on the back-to-school styles! He went with glow-in-the-dark like his big brother. This another great fall piece with a little more warmth than the baseball tee and lots of fun details!

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All three of these fabulous shirts are from the Black, White, and Indigo line which also includes jeans and comfy pants. You’ll want to head to your local OshKosh B’Gosh store to check out this line as well as the B’Gosh Blue Jeans and the World’s Best Overalls! And you can save while you shop with this 25% off coupon that is good through the end of September!

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OshKosh B’Gosh is going beyond great clothes for kids in their stores this fall. The B’gosh Jeanius Campaign is all about providing kids in need with all the back-to-school essentials – everything from clothes to books to school supplies!

OshKosh B’Gosh, alongside K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers, Inc., and DonorsChoose.org, gives you as the customer the opportunity to donate a new pair of jeans or make a cash donation to a students in need this school year. All jeans donated through September 16, 2015, will be delivered to local children in need through K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers, and all cash donations will be dsitricbuted to local DonorsChoose.org.

That’s not all! The Carters Charitable Foundation will match all cash donations up to $50,000 and all denim donations with a new item of clothing. Isn’t that amazing?! Give kids a leg up and donate a new pair of blue jeans or make a cash donation at the register when you head there to shop for your own kids! You can read all the details about the B’gosh Jeanius Campaign here.

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OshKosh B’Gosh made back-to-school shopping a breeze for my boys and I know you’ll love everything they have in the store for your kiddos, too! Grab that 25% off coupon and run to your nearest OshKosh store!

Have you been to OshKosh B’Gosh recently? What OshKosh clothes do you love for your own kids?



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Changes at Home + School

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Change has abounded for us this year. Big change and little change, making life more complicated, but also better in so many ways. I’m reading a fabulous book by my friend Kristen right now called Girl Meets Change and it could not be more timely. I’ll be sharing a full review when I finish it up, but I remember this quote from her from a blog post a while back that goes perfectly with the book as well as my life circumstances:

“The old thing may be familiar, but the new thing may be fantastic.” – Kristen Strong

That’s what I’m holding on to this week because this is happening:

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After four years of homeschool, our older boys are going to school for the first time (other than preschool). It is a big time of transition, but I am so thankful to say God has our whole family on the same page and we’re very excited for this new season! How big and handsome do they look in this pic?! This was taken at the school open house when they met their teachers and brought in all of their school supplies and I got a million papers to deal with!

There was a time when The Hubby and I knew God wanted us to move in this direction and the kids were less than excited about the idea. But God… He led us to a school we all fell in love with and we are so grateful. I know every school decision comes with its own challenges, but it also comes with new opportunities for adventure. Shopping for school supplies and planning lunches both count as adventures for Mom, right?!

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As we get ready for the first day on Wednesday of this week, I’m focusing on the joy of a God doing a new thing in our family! And it could not be more perfect that I have a post up today over on the Tommy Nelson blog about embracing the joy of back-to-school. It’s for anyone and everyone starting up the school year – homeschool, public school, private school. I hope it will be a blessing to you and your family! I know I will be praying these verses with and for my kids throughout the year.

The little guy, Double J, is only three and will still be home with me. He says we’re going to go on dates to the children’s museum when the boys are at school. He also says he is going to marry me. Cue the heart melting. I haven’t been home with just one kid since the summers when I was a teacher and Big J was super little, so this will be very interesting! I know we will have tons of fun.

And now I’m diving back in to figuring out schedules and lunches and all the things…pray for me.

Talk to me about your kids and school! When did/do they start? What grades? How can I pray for them and you this school year?

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Weekend Snapshots

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As I write this, The Hubby is taking his boards, that last test before his life as a “real” physician commences. It’s a ten-hour test. That sounds like torture, right?! Please pray for him during the home stretch this afternoon!

To give him a relaxing, QUIET weekend before his test, the boys and I went up to my parents and all sorts of fun was had!

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The cousins, Urkel style. We decided this needs to be recreated in twenty years.

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Grandma made a family-style dessert to die for. Eating it outside was a genius move because ICE CREAM AND CHOCOLATE EVERYWHERE. Messy and delicious go together well.

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I finished one book that I’ll tell you about tomorrow and started this green gem by Kristen Strong. It could not be more perfect for this season of life.

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My sister and I ran eleven miles Saturday morning which was great except for the humidity and heavy legs at the end. Go away, humidity. I rewarded myself with a maple bacon donut. No further explanation needed.

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Today is my sweet mom’s birthday, so us girls had pedicures and did some boutique shopping to celebrate! My last pedicure was for my sister’s wedding five years ago. My toes are happy right now. And my niece’s fingers and toes were so adorable.

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My oldest friend – as in the one I’ve been friends with the longest – is moving away from our hometown and I am absolutely thrilled for her! We got together this weekend to process and celebrate. Macarons were involved. I was a macaron virgin before this, but the salted caramel one (on the left) from C.H. Patisserie will have me coming back for more every time we visit. HEAVEN.

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Baby niece snuggles are just the best. That is all.

WS 8-3 8Last but not least, I am the mom who took her child to church Sunday night with a giant marker scribble in the middle of his shirt. According to him, “I look cool like this.”

There was lots of other fun and games, but this is our weekend in a nutshell! What were you up to this weekend?

I’m linking up with Weekend Snapshots over at Her Heartland Soul!

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These Kids Are Runners!

I’ve been a runner for just over three years now. The Hubby started running a few months before me. Running has changed so many things about our lives for the better and our boys have taken notice.

This spring, our nine-year-old, Big J, mentioned he would like to do a 5K. We looked at the calendar and picked out a race in our area for the end of July. Big J and I sat down with the Couch to 5K plan and made a training plan for him to check off for eight weeks.

He amazed us during those eight weeks. If you don’t know about the Couch to 5K plan, it starts with long intervals of walking and short intervals of running. As the weeks progress, you walk less and run more. Big J did some runs with The Hubby or I outside, but many of them were on the treadmill. He was so dedicated and got through every single training run, even during the week he went to camp.

Along the way, Little J, our seven-year-old, decided he wanted to try the one-mile race on the same morning. He did some treadmill walking and a few spontaneous runs during his big brother’s baseball practice, but no formal training.

On race day, the one-mile race was first and Little J had Daddy by his side. We really had no idea what to expect from him, but when they took off, I thought it might be a while before they made their way back.

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Imagine my surprise when we saw Little J headed towards the finish line less than ten minutes later!

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The Hubby was surprised as well because Little J ran the whole time and finished with a time of 9:50! He came in second!

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Little J says he can’t wait to do his next race to get better and get another medal. I love it.

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Big J’s 5K race started a half hour later and I had the privilege of running with him. We said a little prayer before we started – for strength, endurance, and a fun experience!

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Summer races in Nebraska are not my favorite. Even with an early start, the humidity was no fun and the sun was shining down pretty bright. All of this just makes it even more impressive that Big J only walked for a few seconds a couple times the whole race. And he’s just like his mama – talking most of the time.

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I peeled off at the end of the race to let him finish on his own, sprinting those last few minutes with cheers and pictures and an announcer calling his name, telling everyone a nine-year-old was coming in at 34:53!

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Yes, I cried. When both kids crossed the finish line. The perseverance and determination they showed through training and the race left us incredibly proud. We saw a new side of them. Running means so much to us and we could see how much our boys enjoyed this running experience. These kids are runners and are already thinking about what races they want to do next, maybe when it is a little cooler!

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Our boys also know the best way to celebrate after a great race. We teach them well.

Are your kids interested in running? Have they ever run a race?

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The Baseball Experiment

Our boys tried out several different sports and many of them have been through our local YMCA. They have an excellent fundamental program for many sports that allows kids to learn the basics of a particular sport before trying it in a team and game setting.

Big J has tried out soccer and basketball in this fundamental format and went on to play on a rec basketball team this year. We love the low-pressure opportunity to try out a sport before they commit a lot of time to it  – and it keeps them active!

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This summer, Big J decided to give baseball a try. For eight weeks, he has gone to clinic-style practices every Saturday morning, practicing the proper form for throwing and hitting and learning all about the fundamentals of America’s pastime.

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This past Saturday, they wrapped up the program with a scrimmage game that was both great for practice and hilarious to watch. When you have about twenty boys ranging from first grade to sixth grade who are just learning the game of baseball, the first time they play a real game is full of chaos and excitement. I loved it.

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This scrimmage game was also the first time the boys tried to hit a thrown pitch from the coach. Big J got a single on the second pitch and ran the bases hard each time a teammate got a hit! He also had some good fielding plays in the outfield.

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He really enjoyed his time playing baseball, so this experiment was a success! I think he makes a pretty handsome baseball player, don’t you?!

What sports do your kids play in the summer? Did they try any new ones this year?

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Summer Love at the Courts

I started taking tennis lessons at the age of five. Tennis was a huge part of my childhood, but not in an intense, competitive way. Sure, I did some tournaments here and there and played freshman tennis in high school, but tennis has mostly been for fun in my life. I still love playing and watching the game. This is my awesome parents and sister showing off our strong love for tennis…

McCarthy Family Tennis Rock

Yeah. We’re cool. We know it.

I never want to push any activity on my kids just because I love it, but the boys took an early interest in tennis and we signed them up for lessons through our local tennis association. We have a beautiful outdoor tennis complex not too far from our house where the boys have been taking lessons for three summers now.

Little J Picking Up
We spend two hours at the tennis courts two mornings a week for most of the summer. That might not sound like much fun for some people, but I just love being at those courts, watching our boys fall in love with a sport I adore so much. When Big J hit his first serve over the net AND in, I just about jumped out of my seat with excitement!

Big J Hitting

Big J Water

While I love almost everything about our time at tennis, there is no shade and the sun can be brutal for those two hours. We’ve left the courts with extra pink skin more than once, but not this year. We go to tennis lessons armed with great sun protection from Banana Boat®!

Summer Love at the Courts

Whether we’re headed to the tennis courts or the swimming pool, planning ahead is key! This definitely applies with sunscreen. Before heading to your family outing, consider how long you will be outside and how many times everyone will need to reapply. This even goes for activities in your own backyard!

Be sure to apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to you and your kids’ entire bodies 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating. One application of Banana Boat® Kids Tear-Free Sting-Free SPF 50 Sunscreen is usually good enough for us at the courts, but on extra sunny days, I reapply after an hour because they are so sweaty!

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Fair skin runs in our family, so I pay extra special attention to the face, ears, and back of the neck. The Banana Boat® Ultra Defense® Stick Sunscreen SPF 50 is great for quick, mess-free application for our whole family.

Little J Court

I have lots of love for our summer court time, and even more so when we don’t leave the courts with skin burnt to a crisp by the summer sun! Now if I could just get out there to play tennis myself a little more!

What summer sports is your family involved in? Do you have great summer sports memories from growing up?


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Banana Boat® . The opinions and text are all mine.

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