Raising Girls

Everyone always said raising girls was different from boys…. I agree 😉  I have 4 boys and 2 girls and they have their own unique quirks, challenges and of course, personalities. When my first daughter was born after having 2 boys, I was so excited to have a girl, and all things pink and frilly, when Little A came along as #5 I was happy for not just another girl but a sister for our Big A. But with these girls, comes the responsibility of teaching them and showing them those “all things girls”; teaching them about their bodies and how they are created and how things function and raise them to appreciate and be comfortable in their bodies.

{Oh goodness, so little & cute!}

{Side note- yes, we need to do this with our boys too, and I do- and dads can be involved too- perhaps more with the boys than the girls, but yes, this is important to encourage and support and teach well to all our children and to have good affirmation and love from both parents….. but for this post, I’m just focusing on me and my girls 😉 }

As my girls grow and mature, I am realizing how inadequate I feel to teach them well. It can be uncomfortable to talk about some of these subjects and how the body works and matures. And sometimes its hard to figure out how to approach various topics, what information do they need to hear, what ages to start being more intentional about sharing with them the “girl things” of life…. these things are running through my brain as my oldest girl is quickly approaching her 9th birthday. So, I was thrilled when, over a year ago, Beth at Fit2B started talking about creating a girls course. A course designed just for girls, to teach them these things we older ladies and moms all wish we had learned about sooner than we did. This course has finally come to fruition and I was privileged to part of the pilot group going through the content before its formal release to the public.

“Fit2B Girls is a radically different body education course for young girls ages 9-14. If you’re raising a girl, you will love how this course empowers her to respect her body and keep it healthy. It’s not about sex or boys. It’s just all about girls.”

I am so excited that this course is now available and you can go buy it right now! But before you do, let me tell you a few things I really loved about it.

First, it’s broken down into small chunks, a short video accompanying each topic along with a written portion as well. Each topic has a note from Beth expressing some of her thoughts and notes on the topic and then each section closes with a short and simple quiz. to review what was covered. The videos are short enough to hold attention and not get into too much detail but yet, enough to cover the subject and teach the girls.

Next, because it’s all wonderfully broken up and the topics don’t blend too much, we as the moms, can determine what content our girls are ready for without going into content that needs to wait for later. For example, some of the topics are great for the girls at any age and other topics may be better to wait and share with them after they have started cycling and still other topics may be better once they are much older and approaching adult life.

Plus, this course is still growing and when you purchase it now, not only will you have access to it forever, but as new content gets added, you will have that automatically as well.  {And, if you already have a premium membership….go look at your account, you already have access to this course as well as all the other courses Fit2B offers!}

And, the topics are not all taught by Beth! While she has some notes to share on each topic, most of the topics are covered by others, experts in their fields, moms (and dads!)  with hearts to share this knowledge and a vision to see this next generation of women grow up strong and knowledgeable in all aspects of their life. It is all presented in a simple, straight-forward -using proper terms, but not explicit in their content- way, with the ability for moms to take the subject and content and expand on it personally and as needed with their girl. While the course is fairly broad and covers much of what a girl may need to know, it also leaves many avenues open for further discussion and learning as the girls grow and learn more. It is a great way to springboard conversations and provide a way to start talking with your girls and allow them the freedom to learn and then ask more questions and learn some more!

 

“It can be done all at once in a special weekend. It can be done as part of a science study over a semester. It can be done in pieces as your girl needs each lesson. A few lessons can be done now, and a few more next year, and a few more the year after that.”

Overall, I cannot praise enough the value of this course. I am excited to go through it with my girls. My oldest has already listened to several topics with me as I previewed it. I am already culling through several of the topics and figuring out how to share them with my boys as they are ready; because they need to understand the differences between male and female and they need to learn to appreciate and value those differences and grow in their respect of girls and ladies, knowing that someday they may be married to one! I know she will appreciate their being aware and have a basic understanding of them as well.

This course is all about empowering girls to understand and respect their bodies and to learn how it works and how to keep it healthy. What mom wouldn’t want this kind of content in her arsenal of raising her daughter well?

You can read more about the course on this blog post HERE – or watch the short intro video about it HERE – and you can go buy it RIGHT HERE!

This course has just released this week – and it is currently being offered at a discounted rate. It will be on sale NOW through Cyber Monday Sales but there is a special coupon offer for a free Luna pad to the first 100 purchases of the course, so don’t wait too long!

A Life for His glory

As moms, each of our children are precious to us, beyond comprehension. But there is a special place in many of our hearts, a place where we keep the memory of those babies we don’t have on earth with us. While I know loss has not touched every mama, it has touched many. Whether once or more, a shared or private grief, the fact that the life was here and given is a blessing. It is a sorrow and heartbreak when it quietly slips away. When you hold a little life in your womb or your arms and that life you love is now gone, a part of your heart breaks and will never be the same again.

But, what do you do with that brokenness? While it makes us sad, we cannot allow it to become bitter; while it forever changes your perspective, let that changed perspective be beneficial to you and those around you. So many who suffer an early pregnancy loss grieve in silence, and this makes me sad. We need our families, our friends to not just rejoice with us in the life but to grieve alongside us in the loss. We can encourage each, help heal hearts and remember those short lives, calling them by name, remembering their lives and acknowledging their live was precious and a gift.

“If we choose to let the moments make us and not break us,

motherhood leaves an imprint of beauty, even when brokenness formed us.”

As we take the hearts that have been broken, what is the imprint left in our lives. Will we allow it be used and form us for God’s glory and His use? Will we let Him break us and mold us to be more Christ-like”? Is it possible that little life was designed and given to shape our perspective and allow our lives here to reflect His glory more?

“But without walking through the long, deep places of release,

our view from up high would never be the same.”

As I think of my own “glory babies”, those little ones gone before we were ready, I often wonder “why”…. Why would God give their lives to us, and then “take them away”. I have come to realize it must be for His glory, He is glorified in their short lives and I must see their lives as for His glory and then live in such a way that reflects that.

My life will never be the same since having their lives in mine, but that is a good thing. Their little lives have shaped mine into who I am, still an imperfect wife and mama but one with a clearer sense of mission and perspective, a longing for heaven and a greater desire to be the mother I need to be for my children here. Through their lives, my life has gained much and I will be eternally thankful for each one and the impact they have on my mothering.

And not just those little ones, my 6 precious ones here are faithful to remind me often of the treasure they each are, how much I need Christ daily to be able to mother them well and give me reason to be intentional, purposeful and humble each and every day. 

And so today, I remember with each of my mama friends, the countless un-named little ones and the ones I do know….. Gedaliah, Aderyn, Tristan, Violet, Whitney, Jonathan, Peter, Noah ….. They are not forgotten and each are precious in His sight.

 

Quotes in burgandy above are from the book {Why} Motherhood Matters by September McCarthy, a read I highly recommend to any mom

More on my thoughts on miscarriage…..

 

 

Gospel Centered Mom {Book Review}

I was recently given the opportunity to read through, study and review this book before it’s release date. The title intrigued me when I first saw it. As a Christian mom, I desire to point my children to the gospel regularly and in every aspect of their lives but I don’t always know exactly what that might look like or practical ways to incorporate it into our daily lives.

As I was reading through the book several thoughts stood out to me as key to the whole thought of a gospel centered mom…. the first was the idea that there is “more than just now”- that concept that as we keep eternity in view, the rest of life starts to fall into place.

This was especially meaningful to me as while I was reading the book some events happened that really caused me again to look at life in light of eternity, trust in God’s plan even when it is not what “I” wanted and was reminded once again of the reality of the hope of heaven and the sweetness that day will bring.

The next concept is really what I feel most of the book was about…. and that is, it’s not our kids, our home, our life….

It’s US….. it’s us turning to Jesus at every point, every turn, every hour, to immerse ourselves in the Word and as we grow and live out our faith, our kids are watching us and learning from our example.

Our kids see the change or the impact Jesus and the Bible have in our lives and they are able to mimic us. As we become more like Christ and focus our thoughts on truths in the Word; our actions, our words and our lives reflect better the Gospel message to our kids and other around us.

There are definitely many other wonderful truths in this book, Brooke has done a wonderful job writing out her thoughts and then backing them up with Scripture references as well. A mom in any season of life will benefit from this book and it would make a wonderful small group study as well with discussion questions in the back. I am glad I was able to read this book, it was especially poignant in this season of my life, and I would highly recommend it to all of you moms!

The book releases today, August 1, 2017….. Read more about the book and purchase it HERE!


{affiliate link, thanks for your support!}

Love this quote and need a reminder on your fridge? Check out our shop here……

Rhythms of Life

As each moment passes, each day, each week…. the weeks turn into months and the months into another year. I realize that life keeps marching on, some days pass quickly and others I just want to push fast forward, the next day I am looking for the pause button but through it all life keeps moving. Each day has a rhythm of its own, sometimes fast, sometimes slow but those rhythms flow together to make the song my life is playing.

I realize I want to make the most of these days, the kids are growing quickly and yet seem to last forever in that stage in which we are struggling. There are days when I wish for a circle of moms to give evening awards….. “good job for you, you made 3 meals today;, “mom of the day for realizing your child’s snow boots are 3 sizes too small”; “wife of the moment, you were actually ready for bed the same time he was”; “teacher of the week, you got 2 pages of math finished”; “lady of the day, you got out of bed and made it through the day”…… that circle of friends that realizes and appreciates what an effort something was and rejoices with you in the large and small victories of the day. A circle of friends to encourage and spur on to another day, another step toward living with intention, cherishing each moment, loving always and speaking with grace and kindness. 

I love to read and I have read many encouraging books. In fact, its a rare moment I am not in the middle of at least one “mama, encouraging, wife, parent” style book….. {currently I am reading Life Management for Busy Women by Elizabeth George and Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller and The Life Giving Home by Sally Clarkson} But there are a couple books I will re-read each year. Pursue the Intentional Life by Jean Fleming is one of them. It’s one I like to read this time of year as we begin another calendar year and remind myself of the need to live with intention, regardless of the season of life I am in. Jean Fleming is an author I have read many times over the last 12 years, her “A Mother’s Heart” book being one of the first books on mothering I ever read and another one I have read numerous times.

To start out this year, I have decided I’d like to read through this book with some of you. Perhaps its a book that sounds interesting to you. Maybe you just need some accountability to be building God’s Word and good truths into your life, maybe you need a circle around you to encourage you on a daily basis….. this is for you. Because it is the easiest format for many people, I have created a small group, a private forum on Facebook for this group. I have quite a variety of ideas of what we could do in this group and while I am still meshing some things together in my brain, this is something I have been mulling over for awhile already, I decided I just need to start somewhere and see what may come together. 

My plan is to post daily, Monday through Friday, a short something on each chapter in the book. Conveniently there are 31 chapters, however, in order to give some room to catch up and with the weekends, we will take a little longer to go through the book. I have a Bible reading to go with each chapter with the intention of being in the Word on a daily basis as well as gleaning truth and encouragement from the words of this book, Pursue the Intentional Life. My plan right now is to start Monday, January 9th.  In addition, I hope to use this space as a place for us to encourage each other, get ideas for struggles in our daily life, bring some joy to each day and accountability to build habits into our lives. I hope to read through some other good books through the year, as well as e a place for habit building in the areas of menu planning, exercise or other areas the habits need built up in.

If you are interested in joining us, go HERE and request to join the group. You can also email me at jen@claffs.com for more information. And if you would like to join in and aren’t on Facebook often, you can download an app for Facebook that is just for groups, you do need a Facebook account but then you can access just our group from this app and not the rest of Facebook if that is something that works better for you.  Access Google Play store HERE or the iTunes store HERE, it’s a free app on both!

You will need to purchase this book that we will be reading through, but trust me, it is well worth the money and is a wonderful read! Click here for the best Amazon price currently, plus it’s my affiliate link, so I get a little tiny kickback though your price won’t change!  {Oh and look, look….. it’s available in an audio format too if this is an easier way for you to read!}  Once you are in the group, I will make sure you have the daily Bible reading plan that you can download or print and of course, there will be the daily posted encouragement and thoughts for each day.

I’ll be using the #rhythmsoflife and #rhythmsoflifemama hashtags in other social media venues and blog posts, if you would like to use as well you may!

So…. who’s in? 😉

 

Comfort Chicken {A Recipe}

This is one of our favorite casseroles. I actually don’t make many casserole dishes, but this has won a place on our dinner rotation. The recipe evolved from a clipping I found in a “Cooking for Two” magazine I read soon after getting married. Of course, making dinners sized for just the two of us was a challenge for me after growing up in a large family and then coupling that with the fact I had been eating vegetarian for a number of years, I always on the lookout for recipes I could make and would turn out well. I think I first made this recipe for a Valentine’s Day dinner and it was a hit. Over time I have tweaked the recipe to make it more family friendly and here is the result. I have made it several times for company and it is always a hit. The leftovers warm up nicely for lunch the next day but I have never tried freezing this. I usually serve with rice on the side to help soak up the sauce, a green salad and perhaps some homemade bread.

 

Comfort Chicken
Serves 6
A chicken based casserole with bacon, mushrooms and broccoli in a creamy sauce topped with cheese
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Prep Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2-3 chicken breasts;
  2. 1# bacon;
  3. 8-10 ounces mushrooms, sliced;
  4. 1# broccoli, trimmed to your liking;
  5. 2-3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  6. Sauce; (for a 9x13 pan, adjust for other sizes accordingly)
  7. 1 cup mayonnaise
  8. 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  9. 1/2 cup honey
  10. 1 tsp garlic powder
  11. 1 tsp onion powder
  12. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook the bacon and set aside {I have made with less than 1# and it works fine, but since bacon is so yummy and the kids love finding servings with bacon, I usually try and do a full pound buy you can certainly do less!};
  2. Cut the chicken into large chunks - perhaps 2-3" size, slightly larger than bite size but this makes it way easier to serve kid portions without having to cut up a chicken breast after the fact;
  3. In the same pan with the bacon drippings, lightly sear the chicken pieces, turning once and then placing the chicken in your pan;
  4. In the same pan, add your sliced mushrooms and lightly sauté and then add to pan with chicken;
  5. Add the chopped broccoli to the pan {I have used both fresh and frozen and they work equally well, though I usually cut down from the size so if using frozen you might need to slightly thaw in that same pan you've been using!};
  6. Add the bacon to the dish {I usually break up into smaller bite size pieces, but anything from large slices to more bacon crumbles works fine};
  7. Mix up the sauce and combine well, add to dish and gently stir to coat all meat and veggies;
  8. Top with mozzarella cheese {I use at least 3 cups, but heavy cheese is preferred around here, you can certainly do 1-2 cups and have a nice dish};
  9. Bake 350 degrees until chicken is cooked through and cheese is bubbly and brown;
Notes
  1. I often serve with rice to help soak up the sauce as well as a green salad and bread.
  2. I have also made this in a large cast iron pan, combining the pan I cook the bacon, etc in with the baking pan, making it a wonderful "one pot wonder", however a 12" pan will just barely serve our family so I use the 9x13 when we are including friends or I want leftovers.
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The Alexapure Filter {A long-over due review & incredible sale}

alexapureOH MY! I just saw this sale come across my email and I almost wished I hadn’t bought my Alexapure a few months back!
 
I absolutely love my Alexapure filter, after months (maybe years!) of running to the grocery store to refill water jugs or replacing old jugs with new water jugs, we received one for our anniversary – best.gift.ever 😉 I truly do not miss visiting frequently with the ladies at the grocery store (who kindly asked ‘no water today’ for weeks after!) – I end up grocery shopping often enough just to keep food in the house 😉
Anyhow – our tap water is technically ok to drink, it’s on a city water system. However, it tastes awful. So, getting a filter has been on my wish list for years.
The Alexapure sits on our counter, the kids water cups nearby and I fill it up around twice a day. Usually, after cleaning up the kitchen in the evening, I make sure I empty out the reservoir filling the coffee pot, water pitcher or water bottles and then fill up the upper reservoir to filter. Typically, it take a 2-3 hours for the upper to completely filter down into the lower reservoir. Then sometime during the day, depending on our water usage, I will top off the upper reservoir and let it filter through. The upper and lower reservoirs hold approximately 2.5 gallons of water each which works out fine, even for our large family. I have filled several gallon jugs I leave in the pantry for the occasional time when I need a lot of water at one time (filling a soup pot, replacing my kombucha water or making a large pot of rice or pasta…..) Then that evening or next morning, I will refill my jug and put back away without draining the entire drinking water supply just before dinner 😉
 
The water filtered out of the Alexapure tastes wonderful, clean and pure. Even my rather particular and taste sensitive husband agrees it is wonderful. And after several months of using it, I cannot hardly stand the taste of our tap water anymore. Plus, knowing that our main beverage around here is water, I know I am supporting my kids bodies well using good water and not water that may have been compromised in some sort.
 
Another added benefit to this filter is its portability. Since it doesn’t permanently install, we can easily take it with us for overnight camping trips, long road trips or when we move. If we were ever faced with a natural disaster such as a wildfire or weather concern and we needed to leave, I could easily put the filter in the car and fill it up with water from anywhere and have fresh and safe water for my family to drink.
 
So seriously, if you have been contemplating a water filter for your family….. THIS IS THE WEEK TO DO IT!!!!!
Now thru November 18 APRIL 4th!!!! (New sale this week!)- any Alexapure filter will come with an additional filter – an $97 value FOR FREE! The filter system already comes with one, so this will give you two…. having 2 in the reservoir will speed up the filter time as well as extend the life of both filters (typical lifespan of a filter is 5000 gallons)
 
Click this link below and head to the Alexapure sale page – Sale is NOW thru April 4th, 2017!!!

You can also click the below link to find the Alexapure information page for additional information on the product!

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Lifestyle Learning

_Think Outside the Classroom_

It’s a little book with a pretty aqua and cream cover. A short read, only 56 pages long. But, as you read it, prepare to be encouraged, strengthened and renewed in your homeschooling vision and direction. Think cover 1

I don’t know that I read anything new to my brain personally, {however, if you follow a strict “school classroom at home” format, you may be greatly challenged by some new concepts!} but I was so encouraged as I read through the book one evening because as Kelly shared her family’s approach to their home-school, I found myself agreeing. Those truths I knew in my brain and heart Kelly was able to articulate in writing. Those dreams and goals I have for my children, those ‘end results’ I desire to have in our own home-school, Kelly and her family were using and achieving. 

Kelly Crawford is a lady I greatly admire and consider one who is worthy of offering advice, truth and encouragement into my life. Though I have never met her in person, her blog posts and the life she lives has shown me that she is a mama ahead of me on a similar journey, a mama of many children, a mama who has “graduated” several of them and so I know the words she speaks come from not only Godly wisdom but practical life experiences too.  Her other book “When Motherhood Feels Too Hard” is one I keep near and have read through often over the last few years.

A Lifestyle of Learning(1)

I would encourage any homeschooling mama to pick up a copy of this book and read it through. The concept of “Lifestyle of Learning” is so key, I believe, to a quality education. That concept that we are teaching our children to not just recite facts and figures back to us but rather teaching them how to learn, how to find answers to their questions, how to think and how to articulate clearly their own thoughts. Kelly includes in this book not only a concept and style of learning, but practical ways to implement this in your own home.

 

“With life-learning, there is no start of finish, no taking off, no being behind….. just a constant readiness to learn something else.” ~ Kelly Crawford

 

This short phrase sums up so well this book “Think Outside the Classroom”, a desire to teach our children to learn, to view each day and each moment as an opportunity to learn and grow. A lifestyle, that once mastered in the childhood years will carry on throughout their lives, well preparing them for their lives ahead.

highest goal -3
For this print and other encouraging quotes and verse on learning, visit our shop page!

 

 

{I did receive a copy of this book to read and review, however all thoughts and the review above are my own!}

{Affiliate links used, thanks for your support!}

 

Save

Save

Who is your ‘everyone’?

everyone1

 

As I read this verse a couple weeks ago, I was struck by the words in these few sentences. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” is the overarching theme, this is bottom line, Christ is in us and we have the hope of heaven and glory with Him.

And then I was struck by the “everyone” that is repeated 3 times….. “warning everyone & teaching everyone” – this pretty much sums up the life of a homeschooling mama 😉 Most days if I am not actually teaching the kids something at any given moment, it seems that I am disciplining, training or reminding of rules or manners…. and yep, “everyone”, all 6 kids, going from one to the next all. day. long. From keeping the bigger boys on track to complete tasks, school and chores, to spending time teaching the kids and making progress there, to training them in words, actions and attitudes. It never ends.

And yet, keep reading….. what’s the goal dear mama? “to present everyone mature in Christ”. Honestly, this is my bottom line goal with my kids. Yes, schooling and learning is important. It is good that they know to flush the toilet and wash their hands, they need to be motivated to complete tasks and take pride in their work. But at the end of the day it’s growing these little souls into strong, deeply rooted and mature in Christ and that their hearts and souls belong to Him.

It seems to be an overwhelming task. But I love how the verses close out….. it’s with HIS energy that HE powerfully works in me. Yes, we toil and yes, we struggle but He gives us the strength to complete the task He has set before us. In His energy and His power He chooses to work through our lives to reach their little lives.

As I read this and saw my children in “my everyone”, they are my focus and task in this season of my life, but perhaps you are in a different season. Maybe your “everyone” is different from mine. It doesn’t change the fact that God desires for His energy and His power to work within you, to reach those in your sphere for Him, to show His glory and truth to those around us.

Who is your everyone? How can you be encouraged today by these words?