Moms Know Moms 2013

You are cordially invited to participate in . . .

Moms Know Moms 2013

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What is that, you say?

If you are not already familiar, the Moms Know Moms series is an annual series that we run during the month of October on the Little Kids Grow blog. It’s a fantastic month of interviews with moms from all over the blogosphere who are professional jugglers (life, family, careers, blogs), you name it. The Moms Know Mom series is when we pull back the curtain and debunk the super mom myth. It’s easy to read a blog or look at someone’s life and think, “Wow, they really have it together”, but the reality is that most of us moms struggle with the same issues. We make tough choices everyday. We battle insecurity and aren’t always sure if we’re making the right decisions.

I’m really excited about the interviews we have lined up for this year so far. We have a little more than half of the month filled up already, but there’s still room for more! If you’re interested in participating, here’s how it works.

1. I send you a list of interview questions. Most of them are centered around how you balance family life, careers, sewing, blogging etc. You can share as much or as little as you like.
2. Send your responses back to me. That’s it!
3. If you don’t have a blog or website that I can get pictures from, I will ask you to provide those for the interview.

*** I’m not looking for perfect moms, just moms who are willing to share how they do what they do.

Here’s an interview with Susan Yates (Crafter Hours Blog) from last year’s series.

Want to sign up or have questions? Send me an email littlekidsgrow (at) gmail (dot) com

Keep doin’ what you love!

Shannon

I had a beautiful, relaxing weekend. I don’t get a chance to say that very often because life this way is usually pretty hectic. We took a nice drive down  the beautiful countryside to spend some time with Mama Clark (My husband’s lovely mom). It’s only a 4 hour drive, but with 6 young kids the trip down there and back has always been somewhat of an adventure, not necessarily in a “happy” way.  I’ve seen the inside of more Walmarts off the main highway (for potty breaks) than I’d care to mention and the “Are we almost there yets?” make me want to to dig my fingernails into the dashboard  after about the 12th  time. But not this time. Things were different. We only stopped once for a quick drive-thru meal. And, I think I only heard one, “How many more hours?”.  I kept looking back thinking, “Are these MY kids?”.

Surprisingly, I felt a little saddened by the shift. Our kids are growing up. No more car seats, only a few boosters. My oldest is learning to drive and my youngest no longer reaches for my hand in the grocery store. My girls are almost as tall as I am and starting to talk about boys a little bit. ACK!!! It’s funny how when the kids are young and everything is a whirlwind, you keep wondering when the season will end. Then the new season comes and deep down inside you secretly long for the first season to return (Except for the sleep deprivation. NEVER!).

My youngest crawled into our bed this morning because he couldn’t sleep. He snuggled up next to me, put his hand on my shoulder and was out like a light. I just watched him, smelling one of my roses and taking in the beauty of the moment.

If we’re always rushing toward the finale, we miss all the wonderful acts in between.

Take the time. It will be over before you know it.

Have a great week!

Keep doin’ what you love!

Shannon

11pm . . . 2:12am . . . 4:31am . . . 5:17am . . . Okay. I’m up.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m HIGHLY uncomfortable with uncertainty, which is really crazy because having children and just living life in general is a sure guarantee for craziness at some point.

2 weeks ago my 5-year-old was playing around with his older brother. He lost his footing and fell head first onto the corner of a bench in their playroom. Immediately he had a giant gumball sized knot (looked like a basketball to me)  swell up between the bridge of his nose and his eyebrow. He screamed. I cried. My kids stared. Thankfully, my husband intervened and got some ice to reduce the swelling. It worked. By the next day the gumball was considerably smaller,  but it was at least 7 days before he no longer looked like some strange kid living in our home.

Why am I not used to this by now? We have a house full of boys. They wrestle. They fall off of things. They run around 24 hours a day whether inside or out. They climb trees, higher. . .higher . . .no, let’s go just high enough so we’d only break a bone if we fell, but nothing too serious. Everyday is truly an adventure in” let’s see if we can cause mom’s heart to drop just one more time”. I know they don’t really think this way, but from where I’m sitting, that’s what it feels like.

So, last week when my son was napping,  I noticed a slightly raised area near his brow where he’d fallen, so I ran my finger lightly across the area to check it. Was that a small piece of bone protruding? Seriously? Of course I shift into doctor mode. I’m on the internet looking up pics of facial anatomy. I’m looking at him and then back at the picture. Sinuses? No cartilage. Okay, no, bone. ACK!!!! I couldn’t tell. So, I go grab my husband and make him come into the room and look at our son. “What is that? “I ask pointing toward his face, already fidgeting around because I’m keenly aware of uncertainty’s presence in the room.  My husband shrugs his shoulders, leans in closer and rubs his finger across the protrusion. “I’m not sure what that is, but he’ll be fine”.

Umm. That’s not the answer I was looking for. You’re a guy, a boy, a male. Tell me that you did the exact same thing when you were his age and that you know with every ounce of certainty in your body that he is perfectly fine.

So then I call my dad. Another guy, boy, a male.

“Hey Dad, there’s this protrusion thing  just under the skin of his eye. What do you think it is?”

“Oh, it’s probably just a small piece of cartilage floating around”

“Huh?? What? Um. That doesn’t make me feel any better. “Cartilage floating around? What does that mean?”

“Well,  let me take a look at it tomorrow and I’ll let you know”. I have to wait another day? The suspense is killing me here.

So, the next day Grandpa Doc (He’s not really a doctor. He just plays one on TV. Ha! Ha!) examines the area and determines a doctors visit is probably in order. (Second and third opinions before the doctor’s opinion. Truly a village effort here, my friends.)

So, that’s where I am right now. 5am on Monday morning, typing some very raw (though slightly comical as I look back) feelings about motherhood, uncertainty, and just wishing for once that life didn’t have so many bumps, twists and turns. I’ll be taking my son to the doctor in a couple of hours which I’m not looking forward to. X-rays are sure to be on the menu today. Meanwhile, our little patient, climbed into our bed during the night and is now snuggled comfortably between my husband and me. It’s amazing how our children are able to rest in uncertainty. They generally don’t worry like we do. Their faith is in tact. I’m pretty sure that’s why JESUS said that we are to be like little children. They get it.

My prayer this morning was this:

FATHER, I trust you with all of my heart, but today, I’m not feeling like that’s very much. I’m trusting YOU to take the little that I have to give today and turn it into something great. Help me to walk in uncertainty and remember that YOU have it all under control.

Here’s hoping you’ll have the strength to look uncertainty in the eyes today without flinching!

Keep doin’ what you love, my friends!

Shannon

UPDATE:  x-rays were NOT required. Whew! The doctor said it was calcified scar tissue from the original injury that should disappear within a month or two. Thank you so much for your lovely comments and encouraging emails and support. Big hugs!!!

[green_box]For the winner of last week’s giveaway, click here.[/green_box]

[yellow_box]Motivation Mondays is a series that I started to share encouragement with moms. I use my past struggles as well as triumphs as a backdrop for my writing in the hope that just as others have helped me along the way, my readers will find something beneficial to carry along with them throughout their week. I believe that community is important as well as honesty and transparency.Want to chat? Send me an email: littlekidsgrow (a) gmail (dot) com. My welcome mat is always at the door.[/yellow_box]

 

Happy Monday, Everyone!

I hope your Thanksgiving was filled with lots of good food and family. This time of year is especially exciting for us because the majority of our family’s birthdays fall between October and November. I love the family time, but truthfully, if I didn’t see another birthday cake for a year or so, I’d be just fine :).  Between 2 birthday parties, a Thanksgiving dinner, family visits, and an out of town guest (all within 3 days), everything is a blur. I missed it. I was there, but I wasn’t present. . . in the moment. So now, as the dust begins to settle, and the sugar rush from the cakes and heaviness from a super full tummy have begun to wear off, I’m left wondering, “Is that it?”  Shouldn’t there be a more lasting impression from the events of the last few days besides crumpled wrapping paper, empty toy boxes and a few extra lbs. around the midsection? (Yep, my dusty elliptical trainer is calling my name.)

So, here’s the reality check for me: It’s not enough to just be present, if we’re unable to engage. I tell my children all the time to not be in such a rush to grow up; to enjoy the moment; to relish the journey. How much more does this apply to me, to us? When I talk to my mommy girlfriends, most of them are facing the same frustration. How do we actively engage in the moment, when the sheer weight of responsibility on our plates precludes us?

It’s something to think about.

I must remind myself to slow down and smell the cake.

Happy Week!

(Join me tomorrow for another Pinterest Sewing Tip)

Keep doin’ what you love!

Shannon

[yellow_box]Motivation Mondays is a series that I started to share encouragement with moms. I use my past struggles as well as triumphs as a backdrop for my writing in the hope that just as others have helped me along the way, my readers will find something beneficial to carry along with them throughout their week. I believe that community is important as well as honesty and transparency.Want to chat? Send me an email: littlekidsgrow (a) gmail (dot) com. My welcome mat is always at the door.[/yellow_box]

 

 

[yellow_box] October is Moms Know Moms motivation month at Little Kids Grow. If you have a unique perspective to share or just want to encourage other moms, there’s still time to participate. Click here for the original post and more information.[/yellow_box]

ICEBREAKER:  Did you have a nickname growing up? If so what is it, and how did you get it?

My dad often called me ‘Gasoline’ as he wanted me to be called Kathleen, but my older brother and cousins couldn’t pronounce the ‘th’; then by the time I could walk – I mostly ran!  My school nickname was ‘KK’ for Kathy Kennedy and Kathy was a popular name in those days and KK separated me from the others.

Q: You sew, craft AND you’re a phenomenal cook. How long have you been doing each of them and which is your favorite?

A: I joined 4-H when I was 10 with cooking, food preservation and sewing as projects that were continued until I left home at 18 for university/college.  By the time I was 12, I cooked almost every week night meal having been left the menu and page numbers of cookbooks by my mother.  I learned to sew on a treadle sewing machine and commenced making most of my own clothes.  Until college, craft would really have been related to sewing.  In college, I did a Craft unit where each week we choose a different craft and had to put a minimum of 10 hours to it.  I did weaving, embroidery, knitting, crochet, tapestry, patchwork/quilting – some others that I can’t think of right now.

Kathy Mumford Baby Quilts

My husband bought hand woven Irish wool for me to make him a suit since I had a tailored a coat for myself as a senior in high school and another when in college.  But I didn’t cut the fabric for almost 10 years, working up the courage by making him pants, shirts, and a cotton suit.  That was probably my biggest challenge until my younger son was married and I made the wedding dress, bridesmaid dresses, and my son’s suit – as well as my own dress – all in ten weeks while working full-time.  There have been many times that when looking back, I’ve said, ‘How did I do all that then?’

I was recently at a second hand shop and bought an old table loom.  My mind says that I should be able to continue weaving after I can no longer thread a needle!  I don’t know but I will not spend my old age watching TV!

My current craft is patchwork/quilting.  I Love handquilting.  I primarily make baby quilts but with my mother moving into assisted living care, I now have 27 boxes of fabric and 9 boxes with the quilt pattern and all fabrics needed to make up the quilts of double/queen size.  And I’m making a ‘two needle’ quilt with a friend, of pattern and fabric of her choice.  I have my older son’s designed quilt top for his 21st birthday to quilt but that should be started to finish when he is 40 or 50 years old!

Cooking has been a great creative outlet.  I love cookbooks and trying recipes. The Mumford Chocolate Cake is a favorite with Fudge Icing and/or 7 Minute Boiled Icing.

Q: You have  two adult sons and now 4 grandsons (All boys!). It must be amazing to have 2 generations of boys grow up right before your eyes. How old are your grandsons? Are your concerns for your grandsons, now, any different than what they were for your own boys growing up?

A:  2 generations – I wonder if my sons, 36 and nearly 34, think they are still growing up….But they must be if their father is still maturing.  (Have never used LOL but just did that!!! ) Grandsons are 2,4,7 and nearly 9.  It is amazing watching the sons – they’ve picked up good and bad habits from their parents – both of us!  And because my mother lived with us from the time they were nearly 7 and 4+ until they left home – some of her too (but I don’t see that as much).

CONCERNS: 

  • TV –[too much of  it]
  • Becoming responsible, kind, truthful and compassionate – these morals were hard to teach in the past and just as hard now.
  • No bullying – be kind!  Practice this with your brother(s).  Bullying includes ignoring and not including them when they ask to join in.  God gave us family to learn how to treat all people.
  • Be a brother to all.  Brothers protect sisters and look out for each other.  Brothers are safe to be around.

Q: I have 4 boys of my own who will be teenagers in a couple of years? What was the biggest challenge for you as a mom when your boys were growing up? How did you handle it?

 A:  A thought provoking question! Was it how to get their father to spend more time with them?  How to get my mom from scolding them so much?  Building a ‘fence’ to constrain amazing creativity and energy without quelling the spirit?  Was it the boat accident with friends when our son lived and their’s died and all the related questions of a 6 year old and 4 year old, let alone a range of other repercussions?  Allowing our older son to travel alone from Australia to Canada through the US to represent Australia in a sailing competition when he was 18, knowing he would possibly fail that year in school, knowing this is the one who forgets/doesn’t pay close attention…..? Being considered strict parents by most everyone and yet wanting our sons to grow up to be men who were safe for our friends’ daughters to be with; strong to resist the temptations and seductions of girls and boys of any age; respectful, accountable and honoring of all people no matter how different; inquisitive, resourceful, and open to learning, even if only for understanding?

I think it helped a lot that my husband and I talked a lot before we were married about what we didn’t like about how we were raised and what we wanted for our children. We knew that our parents did what they thought was best from the experiences they had and how little they communicated with one another.  We prayed together, with our sons, over our sons after they were asleep, before – during – after every life stage.

Because we talked out so many things and many of the ‘whys’ before they were asked, because we expected increasing responsibility as the boys grew up, the high school/teenage years were far better than we imagined they might be.  We had ‘family’ time almost every morning – Bible reading and discussion over breakfast.  Sermons, movies and the newspaper (especially history and social studies were discussed.  Many people lived at our house over the years – usually from church but also university music staff and/or music students, summer schools with usually another 10 people crammed in our home – tutors, interstate/international conductors, students.  Musicians who would come for after rehearsal snacks and really need dinner.  Music students who would come to talk at all hours of day/night.  as well as Japanese girls learning English. Many of these people have no idea the influence they had on our sons.  We also traveled – both as parent helpers for scouts, and as a family.  And to do that, many things that friends and cousins had, our sons did not and they knew why.

Kathy Mumford Family Pic

Q: There are so many questions that I’d like to ask, but so little space. How did you get involved with the Somali immigrant/refugee public school in Minneapolis? That’s a long way from Australia where you currently reside?

My husband retired in 2003.  His college roommate called, left a message on our answering machine that there was a music position vacant at a private college he was teaching at and maybe they could teach a few years together if my husband was successful in the application.  He was successful, I retired and we moved to Minneapolis.  After a year and a half of temporary administration positions, I was successful in securing a Personal Assistant/Executive Officer position for the Principal and later the Director and Assistant Director of the school.  My previous position in Australia was as the Equal Employment Opportunity Officer for the University of Tasmania and the school was looking for a basic skilled and minimum experienced secretary. I had skills they didn’t imagine they could get for the offered pay, and I got a very flexible secure position in an environment that for me was a dream (most of the time) to work in.  I had experienced on a small scale the racism and discrimination these people were experiencing.  I had advocated for better working conditions and led equity focus groups to propose changes to university policies and practices.  I had chaired, set agendas, taken minutes at high levels of accountability.  I had dealt with questions and complaints of harassment and discrimination, and had accompanied staff when they wanted to raise issues with their supervisors as well as speaking on behalf of students regarding harassment by other students.

Q.  You seem to have fond memories of the experience. How long did you work there and what type of impact did this have on your life?

I worked there for three school years.  Impact?  It was great being able to talk freely about the differences I perceived in the 21 years I had lived outside the US.  There was the ‘free speech’ which I argued did not mean you could say whatever you wanted about another or call them or their family members names nor harass or bully a person.  I understood that knowing English does not mean that the words mean the same between cultures or ethnic groups.  I understood that poor student behaviour is often a reflection of poor teaching skills.  I understood that these immigrants/refugees were educated but not accepted by many of the Americans they were in contact with.  I understood the need to keep their culture, their religion, their way of doing things.

When I gave my farewell speech that I was asked to give to the grade 8 students, I talked about how the school had enabled me to be valued for putting into practice what I had advocated to the University staff and students – fairness for all: dignity, courtesy and respect.  That these are basic human rights which we should all model.  And that here at this school it was possible for staff and students to develop and practice these social skills.

Q.  You mention “home management” on your site. As a mom of young kids, I find managing a home well can be a great challenge. What advice would you give to moms who are looking to develop their home management skills?

A.  I should ask my daughter-in-law mom for a picture of her refrigerator!  She has posted there : a calendar with everyone’s activities  (this year’s includes weekly Bible memory verses), chart of chores for each day and child, as well as her own chart of house cleaning/maintenance and time with each family member and a list of non-routine jobs.

Both my sister-in-law and I did something similar.  I still make lists and find that most management – home or business – have that as a key feature of being organized.

Also develop a realistic budget to be, and remain, out of debt, give the Lord (be generous) 10%, and learn to save 10%.  Do without, make do, use it up.

Learn to cook, clean and garden.  One doesn’t need to be a gourmet/chef nor a professional cleaner.  Basics – one step at a time.  Its quite amazing to eat veggies you grew yourself or strawberries!

Q:  Best mom advice?  

A:  Love, honor and respect your husband, the father of your children.

 

Thank you, Kathleen!

[yellow_box] If you’d like to learn more about Susan or just say “Hello”, follow this link to her site KMum’s Mutterings.

Little Kids Grow is now on Facebook![/yellow_box]

Are You an Organized Mom?

I’m not.

Really. I’ve tried, . . . many times,. . .  but alas, I’ve failed miserably.

In my dreams my house is perfectly organized, beautifully decorated, functional, and always spotless (Woo! That last word was kind of hard for me to type).

Since we are a large homeshooling family that spends a lot of time together, we have a very active home. This includes 4 rambunctious (in a good way) and always wrestling little boys who at last count had over 3,000 Lego and Kre-o toy pieces (yes, they counted them)  that I find myself sucking up with the vacuum cleaner on a regular basis, not to mention the truckload of Bendaroos, action figures, trains, and tracks, that I keep stepping on in the wee hours of the morning as I stumble down the hallway trying to make it to our kitchen.

I also have 2 lovely princesses who move seamlessly between being fashion designers, beauticians, film producers and artists within the same hour and have a tendency to leave their trail of inspiration from their bedroom upstairs to wherever they land downstairs. I would include our dog, but he stays outside and unfortunately, can’t be held accountable for anything that goes on inside.

Have I mentioned that our 4-year-old doesn’t like to wear pants?

He gets dressed in the morning, but somehow by mid-day I find his pants either in the hallway, bathroom, on the stairs, under my bed or his, and he’s running around the house as free as a bird.

And, then there’s their mama. Poor helpless case that I am. (They had to get their free flowin’ ways from somewhere, right?) I’m a big multitasker which means  I read while I cook. Sew while I grade papers. Teach class. Work. Teach class. Work some more, and because everything that I do is somehow connected into this long fluid tapestry of activity, I’ve been known to leave a nice little trail behind, too.

Then there’s my dear quiet organized soul of a husband, who bless his heart, can do absolutely nothing but close his eyes and shake his head at the complexity of it all. If I look at him close enough I can almost see  the phrase “SURELY, at least one of my offspring has my organizational gene.”  swimming around in his head (Ha! Ha!)

Have you seen those commercials where the person talking is moving at a regular  pace but it looks like everyone in the background is moving 100 miles per minute? Well, I suspect that this is how my husband feels when he watches us :-).Poor guy.

But, all is not lost! While I joke a lot about the craziness of our days, I’m very serious about getting it under control. I tried home management systems years ago, but realized that most of them didn’t take into consideration the dynamics of a large family, and  when our kids were little, I was so tired most days that the most I could do was just go with the flow.

About a year ago we started talking to the kids about working together as a family to keep our home organized and functional. I made a giant chore chart that I have displayed prominently in their homeschool room which, amazingly, has worked very well for us (Should have done it years ago. So slow this one.) I’ve also learned to confine my own activities to “my space” which is my crafting room/office. I still multitask like crazy, but once I defined my space and stopped trying to be “everywhere” and do everything, my time became a lot easier to manage.

I didn’t grow up in a large family, so figuring out how to make things work for a family of 8 has been a slow process. But, thankfully, we’re getting there.

If you’ve ever struggled with home management skills, I’ve listed some really great sites below that I’ve run across recently that have been very helpful. Even if you are a super organized diva mama, you might find some tips to help you tweak what you’ve already been doin’.

Here’s to all you fantastic mamas out there tryin’ to make it work.

Have a super fantastic weekend!

Keep doin’ what you love!

Shannon

 

Organization Links

SimpleDimples: Tips on organizing a home binder plus printables.

I Heart Organizing: Super site for organization inspiration. I like her idea for organizing your child’s school work:  Make sure you stop off at her Tour of Our Home for some awesome “before and after” pics.

Professor Poppins: Great, great, ideas for organizing your home life with young kids. I don’t believe she updates the site any longer (a shame really, such good stuff), but you can still peruse the pages for a tummy full of organizational gems. Her idea below on creating chore cards (especially for the little ones who aren’t reading is a great idea).

Where are you sitting on your Happy Meter today?

Maximize Your Moments

I spent a little time this weekend taking personal inventory. You know, that deep introspective kind of assessment where I began asking myself the difficult questions like, “Am I satisfied with where I am in my life right now?” and, “Am I doing everything that I can to maximize each moment?”

I remember how it felt when I was little to wait with expectancy for a special day like my birthday, or Christmas, or some other really cool thing that in my mind couldn’t come fast enough. I knew that my birthday was certain to come around every year, but for me, it felt like an eternity. Everything seemed to take so long (except, of course, summer vacation from school which flew by). It was nothing for me to waste hours, fantasizing about the next “big event” in my life.

Now things are different. Oddly enough, it  feels like my birthday comes around every 2-3 months, seriously, and just when I finally settle in to Monday’s tasks, I go to sleep and Friday is here already. I’m almost certain we brought my oldest son home as a newborn from the hospital just a few years ago, and yet, he’ll be a teenager in less than a year.

My mind tells me that there are still 7 days in a week and 365 days in a year, but somehow my reality paints a different picture.

When does life start moving in fast forward? Is it when you turn a certain age? Or, when you have kids? Or when your life becomes filled with . . .  well,  . . .  life?

I think it’s a little bit of all of these. While maturity has some welcomed perks like experience, wisdom, and character, it also comes with the not so pleasant reminder that at some point you’re going to be closer to the end of your life than you are to the beginning. And this can be very sobering and for many, like me, a wake up call. There’s nothing like having “advanced maternal age” slapped at the top of your medical charts to remind you that you’re not getting any younger.

So, these days I’m thinking a lot more about how my choices (like how I spend my time) will affect not only me, but my children, and hopefully one day, Lord willing, their children and so on. I’m more determined now than ever to leave something for them that they can build upon — a legacy. I’m not talking about the tangible stuff like money and property. Those things are all fine, but things can never be a substitute for a meaningful life.

Every moment that we have is a gift, so I’m choosing to live each day with expectancy and purpose.

I still have some more thinking to do on the subject, but I’m working on it. I don’t want my legacy to be based on happenstance.

Life is too short to wait around for the next “Big Thing”.

Maximize your moments!

Keep doin’ what you love!

Shannon

[yellow_box]Motivation Mondays is a series that I started to share encouragement with moms. I use my past struggles as well as triumphs as a backdrop for my writing in the hope that just as others have helped me along the way, my readers will find something beneficial to carry along with them throughout their week. I believe that community is important as well as honesty and transparency. Feel free to send me a PM at littlekidsgrow (a) gmail (dot) com. My welcome mat is always at the door.[/yellow_box]

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