Category Archives: Family Life

All You Need to Know About Disney World With Little Ones

Disneyworld

Walt Disney World.  

A magical place.  The funnest place on earth.  That recognizable trademark on many of your kids toys or movies.

Well, we too have joined the ranks of millions that choose to vacation in this fabulous world where imagination explodes.

Yes, we took our children, ages 2, 3 & 4, to Disney World in February of this year.  We all had a marvelous time!  My parents and my mother-in-law also went with us, which certainly helped.  And it was my husband’s first time as well.  So that was a bonus!

EPCOT_WSGERICON_7235199932

Although I personally have been to Disney World many times in my life, I knew that we would have to make some adjustments with my 2, 3, & 4 year old.  So, I did a little research-on Pinterest of course- about the “Do’s and Don’ts” of traveling with little kids.  Very helpful!

However, I discovered a few things that would have been helpful to know in advance.  So, now having lived the experience, I would love to share my thoughts with you.

All You Need to Know About Disney World With Little Ones

1. Do NOT plan to go to the parks on the day of your arrival.  This is HUGE!  Use this day to relax and settle into your hotel.  The kids have most likely been traveling all day and it’s good to let them unwind before heading to the parks the next day.  We made this mistake.  Heed my warning.

2.  Plan to spend most of your time at Magic Kingdom.  This is the most popular park and has the most for children under the age of 5, in my opinion.  All the parks have attractions for their ages, but Magic Kingdom was our favorite.

3.  Try to avoid traveling during the busy times of the year.  A good travel agent can help you with this.  My good friend, Leslie, is a certified Disney Vacation Planner.  And late February, turned out to be a great time.  We had warm weather and, although always filled with people, the lines were very manageable.

4. Avoid going to Magic Kingdom on the weekend if possible.  This will be the busiest time for this park, as more of the locals will head out on the weekends.  We went on a Saturday and then again several times during the week and it does make a difference.  Less congestion during the week.

5. Get cheap prizes at the Dollar Tree before you leave.  This was a tip I gleaned from someone else.  Saved us a ton of money.  At their ages, they just like to get any little trinket.  And a simple surprise periodically kept them satisfied.  They honestly didn’t ask for anything at the parks.  Buy the glow in the dark necklaces and wands from Dollar Tree for night time.  That way they won’t ask you for the expensive ones sold at the parks.

6. Bring rain ponchos from Walmart.   You never know when it will rain in Florida.  Thankfully, we only had 1 afternoon of mild rain, but having those ponchos saved us money from having to buy them at the park.

IMG_2480

7.  Consider having a day of “NO PARKS” mid week where you can enjoy the hotel.   This is one thing I would have done differently.  There is usually a lot to do on site at your hotel.  And it would have been nice to just have a day in between to just relax and reset.

8. Plan to have their nap schedules off.  We tried the first day to have them come back and nap at the hotel.  Are you kidding me?  It was like a crazy house.  They were so wired from the excitement of the day, there was no way they would take a nap.  We still came back usually everyday for a few hours, but there was no napping.  If they napped, it was usually later in the afternoon, or early evening in the stroller at the parks.  Which then enabled us then to stay out later at the parks when it was less busy at the attractions.

9. Rent a stroller from Orlando Stroller.  A friend recommended this the week before we left.  What a life saver!  The strollers that you rent from Disneyworld are just old and not comfortable to sit or nap in.  The stroller we rented was a nice Baby Jogger Double stroller.  We spent about $100 for the stroller for the week, but very worth it.

IMG_2449

10.  Put a flag or bandana on your rented stroller.  There are a LOT of strollers at the parks and there are only certain designated stroller parking areas, so the workers tend to move your strollers around without you knowing.  This will help locate your stroller much easier.  Also, we put on a flashing bike light that worked great to find our stroller at night.

11. Plan for the kids to to get 1 prize at the end of the trip.  We told them upfront they could get 1 thing before we left.  They were completely satisfied to pick out one thing.  We got ours on our last evening at the Magic Kingdom.  Totally did NOT have an issue with them wanting things.  The little $1 trinkets they got daily, were sufficient.  Probably wouldn’t even need to give them one daily.

12.  Purchase the Memory Maker from DisneyWorld.  This allows the Disney photographers to take your photos throughout the parks.  This will allow you to enjoy many of the moments without having to battle your kids to stop and take a gazillion photos.  Keep you enjoying the moment instead of digging in your camera case.  And you can add fun characters and stickers to your prints!

MK_MSCONFEC_7249973392

13. Purchase the dining plan.  We were lucky enough that Disney was offering FREE dining plans for the month of February.  Score!   But it was so nice NOT to have to fork out cash every time we wanted to eat or knowing that we were racking up a bill on our debit card.  They just scan your wrist bands to deduct the meals.  We got 1 quick serve meal, 1 sit down meal and 1 snack for every day we were at the parks.  This was more than sufficient.

POLY_OHANA_7200647357

14. Reserve character dinners in advance.  We spent 5 days at the parks so we had 5 sit down meals to plan with or without Disney characters.  I recommend eating with the characters for sure.  We planned this 2 months in advance and there were still some we couldn’t get.  So, do this as soon as you book your trip at MyDisneyExperience.com.  If you have a daughter, plan for the Princess Lunch at Epcot.  My daughter loved it!

Princess Lunch

15.  Pick one thing each day that you really want to do.  The rest is then bonus.  This helps to calm your spirits a bit and not try to do EVERYTHING at each park and feel overwhelmed.  You got that one thing done…awesome.  Walk slowly.  Enjoy your time.

16. Sign up for the attraction Free Passes to help cut down with wait times.  This was very helpful.  Again, this is done on MyDisneyExperience.com.  Very easy to do.  You are allowed 3 per day for each family member. Sign up as soon as possible.

17.  Bring snacks from home.  We brought these in a separate suitcase, along with our prizes, blankets, rain ponchos, etc.  These helped tremendously at this age when they are hungry every hour.

18.  Take a backpack to the park.  This kept all of our kids snacks, prizes, sweatshirts, sunscreen, hats, etc.  Much easier than carrying around a diaper bag.

19.  Buy the Hopper pass.   I was hesitant about this one, but indeed it proved to be very beneficial.  Like I said, we only went to Hollywood Studios and Epcot for half days, then went back to Magic Kingdom in the evenings.  Very worthwhile, especially if you have character dinners planned at multiple parks.

20. Go to the Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom.  I am pretty set on my kids going to bed at their bedtime of 7:30pm, however, at Disneyworld, everything was changed up a bit.  This parade is way worth it.  Also, during the parade it’s a great time to hit up the rides you missed or ones your little ones want to ride again.

IMG_5891

21. Download the My Disney Experience App on your smart phone.  Very helpful to organize before and during your vacation.  Also helpful to check wait times for attractions while at the parks.  Cool technology.

22.  Pre-plan your days at the parks.  I used MyDisneyExperience.com to plan which parks we attended each day and I mapped out where all of the Free Pass attractions were.  That way we had somewhat of a plan each day and weren’t just wandering aimlessly through the parks.

23.  Stay on Disney property.  If you are able, I highly recommend staying at one of the Disney hotels.  There is something magical about the Disney atmosphere.  There are a wide range of affordable hotels there.  A place for everyone.

24.  Go ahead and buy the toddler leash. Quit feeling guilty about putting your child on a leash.  No they are not a dog, but do you realize how many people there are?   Do you know how quickly those little little buggers can get away from you?  Let them play with it beforehand and it won’t be an issue.  Well worth the money.  I bought mine from Amazon. It had a little backpack on it, so Cruz thought it was cool.

IMG_5936

25. Lastly, and most importantly…HAVE FUN!  Be flexible.  Do not try to get it all done the first day.  Nor do you need to hit every attraction in each park.  Smile!  Laugh!  Be goofy.  Let them blow milk bubbles, stay up late, eat chocolate!  Enjoy this time!  Although you may always be able to come back to Disney in the future, you will never have this time again when they are these ages.

IMG_2342 IMG_2543

We had so much fun.  There are so many people with young children there and we all survived and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

So, there you have it!

ALL you need to know about Disney World with little ones!

STUDIO_HBFIVEDM_7249968902

If you have any suggestions that I may have missed please add to the comments!  Also, if you have any questions for me, please feel free to contact me.


12 Character Traits I Want to Build in My Children

Who doesn’t want their kids to have a strong character?  I know I certainly do.  But “hoping” they develop good character traits and being intentional with building these are two different things.

Last year I began focusing on one character trait per month.  There are so many character qualities I want them to have and it just seemed overwhelming to focus on ALL of them at the same time.  So, breaking them down into monthly bite-size pieces just seemed to make sense to me.

I choose one character trait and one verse per month.

For example, this month’s word is ATTENTION.  Our verse is Proverbs 4:20-21:

“My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words.  Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart.”

I repeat this verse at least once a day for them to hear it and hopefully memorize it (mostly the 2 older ones).  As we go about our day, I will remind them often that God is asking them to pay ATTENTION to mommy.  We talk about paying attention with our eyes, our mouths, our ears and our hearts.  We played a game today on the swings where I was not listening to them, or looking at them and they had to tell me whether or not I was paying attention.  They were laughing and having fun.  I try to incorporate this mostly in our normal daily activities.

Honestly, many times, it doesn’t seem they are even listening to me.  (Toddlers and preschoolers tend to be great at tuning us out!)    But, then at some random point, Gavin will repeat what I’ve said or Annabella will repeat the verse with me and I’ll remember that they are absorbing it.  Repetition is key with little ones!  But then again, as God reminds me, repetition is key for me to learn as well!

And yes, there are days when I don’t even talk about our character habit.  We get busy and life happens and I forget.  I am learning God’s grace is sufficient.  It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress.  Moving forward.  Staying in the game.  Trusting God.

12 Character Traits I Want to Build in My Children This Year

1. January: Trust.

Proverbs 3: 5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.”

2. February: Love.

Matt 22: 37-38 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

3. March: Attention.

Proverbs 4: 20-21 “My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words.  Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart.”

4. April: Obedience.

Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (We did this one last year as well!  At my children’s ages, I feel this is worth repeating!)

5. May: Thankfulness.

1 Thes 5: 16-18 “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

6. June: Courage

Deut 31:6 “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

7. July: Forgiveness

Luke 6:37 “Forgive and you will be forgiven.”

8. August: Self-control

1 Pet 4:7 “Be self controlled and alert.”

9. September: Joy

Proverbs 15:30 “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart.” (Focusing on the importance of a smile)  And repeating 1 Thes 5:16-18 “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

10. October: Usefulness

1 Timothy 5:10 “She is well known for her good deeds…helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.”

11. November: Gentleness

Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

12.  December: Serving

Gal 5:13 “Serve one another humbly in love.”

Resources for Habit and Character Training:

1. Laying Down the Rails for Children: A Habit Training Companion

2. ESP Character Training by Kim S. Doebler

3. 1001 Ways to Introduce Your Child to God by Kathie Reimer

3. Pinterest

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest.  I have more pins than I’ll ever do in my lifetime, but if I’m working on Thankfulness, for example, I will type in “teaching children thankfulness” and it can give me several ideas to implement that month. Pick a FEW ideas, and let the rest go.  You can’t do them all!

Charlotte Mason, in Laying Down the Rails, recommends changing habits every 6-8 weeks.  You might say, “Wow, that is only 6 habits per year!” But, if you consistently work on habits regularly, you will have instilled at least 60 strong character traits in your child in the course of their first 10 years.  Remember, training our children in strong character isn’t a race…it’s a marathon, it’s a journey.  We have 18 years to love on and train them.  I feel developing their habits and their character is one of the most important aspects of our parenting and worth the extra attention.

There are SO many character traits to build in our children.  Make your own list, be intentional and have fun!  Let me know what you are working on this year!

Remember, Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Share how you have helped to build your child’s character!  I would love to hear from you.

 

 

 


He Was Chosen: Gavin’s Adoption Story

IMG_1315Gavin’s birthday was July 6th.  He turned 4 years old!

God has great plans for his life!  And has been intimately involved in his life since he was conceived.

But I’m sad to say, we missed his 1st birthday.

We weren’t there for his birth.

But rest assured, this child has been prayed for immensely!  He is loved,  he is wanted.  HE was chosen.

We may not have experienced every day of Gavin’s first 14 months of life, but we are here now.  We are here today and will be here for his tomorrows!

(more…)


Worth the Wait: Annabella’s Adoption Story

Annabella 055

Three years ago God blessed us with an amazing gift.  Our sweet, beautiful, precious daughter.

On June 24, 2011 at 5:04 pm, Annabella Jane Perez was born into this world.

But she was born in our hearts, oh so much earlier than that!  You see, we had prayed for Annabella years prior to her arrival.  We longed for a baby and after several years of agonizing procedures, devastating news, failed adoptions and much waiting, God answered our prayers.  The wait was hard.  We were ready to be parents.  I was so very ready to be a mommy.  Ready to hold MY sweet baby, ready to love the child God would give us.  The waiting was so hard.  It seemed the Lord was not listening, that maybe he hadn’t heard our prayers.  Everyone told us it would be worth the wait.

And it was.  So very much worth the wait!!

(more…)


How to Create a Good Bedtime Routine

How to Create a Good Bedtime Routine

Bedtime.

It’s either the time you treasure as a mom of toddlers after a busy day, or the time you absolutely dread because your baby WILL NOT go to sleep.   You are emotionally exhausted and frustrated by the time you fall into bed.

For me, it has been both.

For the last year, Annabella has been our little night owl.  She would continue to come out repeatedly after we put her to bed.

But I’m happy to say, that we are pretty much back on target with our bedtime routine.  We have made a few adjustments but overall, for the time being, we have found a routine that works great for us.

And allows for mommy and daddy to have some peace and quiet for awhile in the evenings.

(more…)


What I Appreciate More About My Husband Since He’s Been Gone

IMG_3803

What I Didn’t Appreciate About My Husband Until He Was Gone

No, nothing has happened to my husband.  He is alive and well, safe and snug…in Georgia at a Christian men’s retreat.

Where there is no cell coverage and the only way I can contact him is by an emergency number if absolutely necessary.  In our 6 1/2 years of marriage, this is the first time we’ve been away from each other without any phone contact.  He has only been gone for 4 days.  It’s not like he’ll be away for weeks or months, which I’m thankful for.  But four days without my spouse has helped me to realize even more what I appreciate about him!

20 Things I Appreciate About My Husband

1. He always takes out the garbage.

2. He always brings the trash can back to the house (Can you tell I’m not one for liking the garbage?).

3. He changes the smoke alarm batteries.

4. He always helps with the kids baths at night.

5. He always helps put the kids to bed.

6. He mows the lawn.

7. He makes sure all the windows are closed before we go to sleep.

8. He makes sure the doors are all locked at night.

9. He always helps clean up the kitchen after dinner.

10. His arrival home after work gives us all something to look forward to every day.

11. I miss him playing with the kids while I’m finishing dinner.

12. He does all the watering outside (with our recycled tub and shower water of course-we are in a severe drought).

13. He plays with the kids.

14. He helps get everyone ready for church.

15. He always listens to me as I share the days events with him.

16. He fills the humidifier with water.

17. He always checks on the kids before we go to bed.

18. He helps get kids breakfast on the weekend.

19. We enjoy popcorn or ice cream together after the kids go to sleep.

20. He lays next to me every night….and so much more!!

IMG_3804

As I was getting ready for bed tonight, I just thought, “I don’t want to miss those things my husband does everyday in our family.  I want to be thankful for ALL he does for us and with us.  I don’t want to wait to be appreciative until he IS really gone someday.”

This isn’t about telling you all the wonderful things my husband does for me and the kids.  It’s about inviting YOU to be appreciative about the little things YOUR husband does for you and your family.

It’s about cultivating a thankful heart to recognize the blessings God has given you.

It’s about learning to express our gratitude to those we love.

Don’t wait until it’s something you would have liked to have said.  Say it now.  So, you’ll be sure he hears it today.

IMG_3794

 

What do you appreciate about YOUR husband? Have you told him lately? 


What Our Kids Really Need From Us

 

My daughter has been sick for several days, and she just wanted to lay in her bed all day and sleep.   As you know, for a two year old, that is very uncommon.  It has been a rough few days.  I was worried about her.  A headache and fever just make for a concerned mama.

When I went into her room to check on her one evening, she looked up at me from her crib with her sad eyes and said, “Mama, I just need you.”  Of course, I picked her up and rocked her.  As I held her close, she started to doze off, her eyes fluttering.  She would close them and after a short while, she’d look up at me with those sweet eyes that seemed to say, “Mama? Are you still there?”   I’d smile at her and then she’d doze back off again.  She just kept checking to see if I was there.

And again, the other night when I was laying beside her crib on the floor in the middle of the night when she didn’t feel well, she just kept peeking over the edge to make sure I was there.

IMG_3756

 

And I thought to myself…she just needs me.  That’s it.  She just needs me here beside her.

IMG_3694

 

So often we think our kids “need” so much.  So much stuff.  But, our kids don’t need extravagant things.  They need extravagant love.   And they need us…

1. To just be there
2. To help them
3. To smile at them
4. To encourage and lead them
5. To reach out and touch them
6. To pray with them
7. To believe in them
8. To teach them about God and His word
9. To introduce them to beauty in the world around them
10.To love them…unconditionally

Our kids really just need US.

I can remember after we had adopted Annabella and Gavin; Gavin was 14 months and Abba was 2 months at the time.  Someone said to me, “Just love them.”  Really?  Certainly they need so much more than that.  I made the beginning of my parenting much more difficult than I needed to.  Being a mommy is hard enough without the extra stress you place on yourself to be super mama!

I tried SO VERY HARD.

I was exhausted.

From lack of sleep of course, but also emotionally from putting too much pressure on myself.

I certainly don’t have motherhood figured out.  Nor will I ever!  But after almost 3 years and 3 babies later, I’m learning to lighten up on myself.  To relax a little bit.  To not try to do it all.  Be it all.  Or give them everything.  I don’t need to make them into perfect children.  I don’t need to impress anyone.  I don’t need to make myself look like a good mom.

I need to enjoy them.  To embrace them.  To embrace mommy-hood.  To just nurture the relationships I am developing with these three precious children God has given me.  They just need ME.  I will fail in many areas of motherhood according to the world’s standards.

But God’s word tells me in Romans 12:2 ” Do not be conformed to this world, Alissa, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”  

I have an audience of one.  I am to mother according to the will of God for our family- that which is good and acceptable and perfect-not according to the world.  I am learning that as I trust God and focus my attention and intention on serving Him, my perspective on being a mom is changing.  For the better.  Praise God for His transforming power!  Praise God for His Holy Spirit!

And the fruit of the Spirit is just that…fruit.  As I rest in God, and allow His Holy Spirit to work in and through me, He alone will produce the fruit of His spirit in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.  Praise God that I don’t have to produce these on my own.  As I walk more closely with the Spirit, He will naturally develop these characteristics in me as a mom.  Thankfully as I continue to grow, my children will continue to grow, my marriage will continue to grow and we will become a family that bears good fruit.  And isn’t that what it’s about?

Becoming all God intends for us to become.  “So that we may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that we will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9-10)”

We need to start with the end in sight.  What is your vision for your family?  When we see it from God’s perspective, it changes how we look at our days.  If I am to give extravagant love to my children, then I must first experience extravagant love from a God who adores me.  We can only give what we have been given.  As you are singing your babies to sleep tonight, take to heart what you may be singing…Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.  Jesus loves YOU.  Oh, the beautiful simplicity of this song.  Oh, the beautiful simplicity of our children!

So moms, rest easy tonight.  Keep it simple!  Your children don’t need much.

They need YOU.

They need God.

They need you to lead them and to love them.  It seems too easy, doesn’t it?

Well, being a mom isn’t easy, but when we get our priorities in alignment, simplify and renew our minds and let God have control, we will spend less time stressed out and more time enjoying the journey.

 


Making Room for Us: The Importance of Managing the Stuff Monster

IMG_3656

Last weekend some friends came down to visit.  I was standing in the kitchen busy doing something, when Gavin asked me for help.  My quick response, “Just a minute buddy, mommy has to…and then I paused.  But, with saddened eyes and a low tone he filled in the blank for me, “do stuff?”

IMG_0330

Really.  That is what he thinks I do.  Stuff.  But at that moment it hit me.  I DO STUFF.  Not only do I DO stuff, I have too much stuff.  I spend more of my time managing my STUFF than I do enjoying the people around me.  Now, don’t get me wrong, as mamas we have a lot of “stuff” to do.  We are managing an entire household and all the people in it and raising a generation of future leaders, encouragers, lovers and, by God’s grace…believers!  We have A LOT on our plates.

But, is the “stuff” in our lives, taking priority?  It was like a lightbulb came on for me.  I’m tired of moving stuff, managing stuff, putting away stuff.  I decided that I’m tired of talking about how much “stuff” I have to do and instead I’m going to start eliminating some of the unnecessary “stuff” in my life.  And isn’t that the reality?  Much of our “stuff” is NOT necessary.  I am putting on a new pair of lenses.  I have been praying for God to give me new vision for what is important and what is not in my home and in my life.

I want to LIVE DIFFERENTLY.

Today and forever.  I want to be that person, be that family that others see as “different” and that God sees as being obedient.  I want to enjoy my children, spending time with them, being creative with them, helping them to see the genuine, God created beauty in this world and not be consumed with products and materialism.

They already at 2 and 3 have a well developed “wanter”: “Mama, I want that!  I want a new batman house!  I want a batman cape!  I want that… (any toy they see at Target)!”  They are foolish, just as we are.  They have learned that when you want something, you get it.  I honestly believe we are all born with a “wanter”.  It’s always been there.  But just like any sinful part of our nature, we must learn to control it.  But sadly, they are imitators.  They watch our behavior.  They learn from watching us.

Do we have our “wanters” in check?  Or are we guilty of feeling like we have to get what we want.  For most of us, life in America isn’t about getting what we need, it’s about getting what we want.  And sadly, we generally feel entitled to get what we want.  What we don’t realize is we have masked the lie by slightly changing the words.  Instead of “I WANT a new TV”, we say, ” I NEED a new TV”.  We have convinced ourselves that our wants are indeed needs that need to be met.

Oh, how sad a generation that we have created.  I am as guilty as everyone.  I enjoy being comfortable and running to Target is way too easy to buy what I “need”.  But when I walk out of Target and spend $100 every time I visit, am I really just feeding my “wanter”?  Because the truth is, the more we have, the more we want.  There is always some new gadget or item that will make our lives easier, less stressful, and more comfortable.  So then, after we have accumulated all these gadgets, why aren’t our lives any easier, less stressful or more comfortable?

So, my mission is to live differently.  What does that look like for me?  For my family?  It looks, well,……different.  In so many areas of my life.  Praise God He isn’t changing me all at once.  Whew!  Thankfully He works on us with love and grace and equips us to pursue the life HE desires for us, the life that we were meant to live.

So, I am waging war with the stuff monster that has invaded my home.  It has been keeping me hostage with busyness and spinning my wheels for so long, it’s grown to a pretty good size.  But, if not now, when?

So, my first battle…the toy department that has overtaken my house.  Now, let me be very clear, I have nothing against toys, but we my children live with excess.  I’ve tried to decrease the toy inventory in our home in the past, but honestly, I have become more attached to their toys than they have.  I always feel guilty.  But after last weekend, the light came on and I knew it was time.  No, I didn’t get rid of all their toys.  They still have more than I think they need, but I took probably 1/3 of their toys upstairs.  It’s been almost a week.  Do you think they have missed them or even noticed they are gone?  Nope.  Not one comment about a missing toy.  I honestly haven’t decided yet whether to just get rid of them or rotate them with the ones that remain.  I’ll probably do a little of both.

The reality: Toys are not important to our children.  We are.  Those precious cherubs will always ask for more things, but they really are craving and needing more time with us.  Now, as a mom we cannot, nor should we spend every waking hour  with our children.  They need independence and play time away from us for sure.  Nor do we cater to their every demand when they verbalize their immediate needs.  But for me, my “stuff” was keeping me stressed and constantly mentally focused on what needed to be done.  When I was playing with kids, it was because I was taking a break from doing my “stuff”.  My main objective seems to be my to-do list.  My ever growing to-do list.  The to-do list will ALWAYS be there.  Always.  And forever, I might add.  But my children will not.  Someone reminded me today as her son was getting ready to graduate from college that my children will be gone sooner than I can even imagine.  I don’t want to miss these moments.  I don’t want to look back and think, “Wow, I just lived stressed out and never caught up and focused on the wrong moments.”

And let me assure you this definitely isn’t about removing toys so I can have a spotless house.  I’m not interested in that.  Really.  I have three children age 3 and under.  My house will never be spotless.  My house will never be completely picked up.  Thank goodness.  I have children!! I want my children to be creative and use our home in that process.  I want them to drag their boxes around and play pretend.  I want our house to be THEIR HOME, for their enjoyment and growth.

My objective is to remove the “stuff” so that we can make room for us.  I have been emotionally pushing the most important people in my life to the side, so “stuff” can take priority.  And I keep doing it.  Isn’t that the definition of insanity?  To keep doing the same thing and expect different results?

I have a framed copy of our family mission statement on our wall and it says this:

The Perez Family Purpose Statement

We will trust God and make people and relationships more important than accomplishing tasks.

God has called us to make people important.  What God says is important.   I am on a mission to remove the clutter, the “stuff”, to make room in our home for the people that God placed here.  Why go to the effort of creating and displaying a purpose statement if I’m not going to live it?  Why claim to believe in a God who is loving and gracious, if I don’t show it?  Why pray for children, if I’m not going to be fully present to enjoy them? One word: hypocrisy.  Ouch.

From our front porch you can see the beautiful Texas sunsets.  Last night we sat on our front step and watched the sun go down.  It was a beautiful, peaceful moment.  The kids were running around us just laughing and playing.  Then they sat in our laps and just snuggled into our arms.  And as I held them close and looked out over the setting golden sun, God gently whispered in my heart…THIS is what is important.  Make room for this.  I looked down at their beautiful, smiling eyes.  I’m sure I heard from their hearts…Make room for us.  

How has “stuff” taken over in your home?  Please help me and share what you have done to make room for your family!  I look forward to hearing how God has been touching your hearts!


5 Reasons to Quit Barking Commands at your Children

5 Reasons to Quit Barking at Your Children

“Image courtesy of James Barker / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

I was just now trying to round up my three munchkins for nap time.  And as I stood in the kitchen, finishing up a task I was engrossed in, I yelled, “Gavin, go get your pull-ups on and get in bed.  Abba, pick out your pull-ups and go tee-tee, it’s time for nap.”  They ran by me laughing and giggling and went to hide from me.  I continued on with what I was finishing up.  I started putting the dishes away from lunchtime.  This time when they ran by I said a little more sternly, ” Come on, it’s time for naps.”

Seriously, Alissa? What was I thinking?  And it dawned on me.  What I am doing is ridiculous and meaningless.  The verse from Ecclesiastes 1:14 came to mind, “I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after the wind.”  This hollering at the kids from afar, barking commands at them, and thinking that I’m doing anything good or worthwhile is pointless and like striving after the wind.  You cannot catch the wind.  You cannot train a toddler or preschooler by barking commands from afar.  I know this.  I’ve read books about training your children.  And most of you know this too.  But we still do it.  Is it out of habit?  Or because that’s how we were raised?  Is it because it’s easier in the short term?  Or possibly because I’m not being intentional with my words?  That was it for me.  I find myself lately just saying things.  Not really even thinking about the words that come out of my mouth.  I didn’t say any “bad” words, I didn’t even scream at them…this time.

But immediately God gave me…

5 reasons to quit barking commands at your children.  

1. They aren’t listening.  When I holler at them from afar, they are usually engrossed in some other activity, be it playing, reading, or just laughing and having a good time.  They are children.  They are toddlers and preschoolers.  They are the most impressionable they may ever be.  And they can only focus on one thing at a time.  Thankfully they aren’t into multi-tasking like I am and so many of us are.

2. They think it’s fun to run away and hide.   Notoriously, if I tell them something when I’m not in the room with them, they automatically think it’s a game.  Let’s run from mama!  They are all about laughing and enjoying life at this age.  Oh, I’m so thankful for that.  I want to learn to enjoy life and have fun from being with my children.  I want them to enjoy being with mommy and see me as being fun and enjoyable to be with.  But do I want them to learn that anytime I speak, it’s their job to run away and hide?

3. I’m teaching them NOT to listen to me.  This one was like a blaring red light to me.  I’m teaching them that my words aren’t important.  That what I have to say is not worth obeying, or listening to.  I’m teaching them that the first time I speak, they can disregard the command.  They are learning that it’s only when mommy gets angry or raises her voice that she means business.  What am I doing?  Is this how I want to train my child?  If I want my words to be important to them, then I must teach them that when I speak, they are to listen.

4. I am breeding my own frustration and anger.  Really.  Why do I become so irritated and frustrated when my kids aren’t listening to me?  Because most of the time, I’m not being clear with my instructions.  At ages 2 & 3 they still have to learn what it means to obey mommy and daddy.  They are learning all the time and processing what is important and what is not.  When I tell them something and they don’t listen, I obviously didn’t communicate effectively.  The next time I become frustrated, irritated or angry, I must stop and think, is this because of them, or most likely is it because of who I am or what I’m doing in this moment?  How could I be more effective with my communication?  It will take more time.  It will take more thought, but in the end, when I’m more at peace and gentle with my children and even my husband for that matter, it will all have been worth it.

5. I’m speaking meaningless words.  God has been bringing to my mind the power of words lately.  Every word we speak as the power of life and death.  Words are powerful.  They can build up and encourage or they can tear down and destroy.  It says in Proverbs that a wise woman builds her house.  I believe that encompasses the words we choose.  When we choose to let words loosely slip from our mouths, we aren’t being intentional with “building our home.”  In Ecclesiastes 5:3 it says, “For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words.”  Oh, I love this verse.  It penetrates to my soul.  Do you see what it says?  A FOOL uses many words.  Do you find yourself talking and talking and saying things over and over and it seems like no one is listening?  Could it be your family has learned that your words ramble on and are not meaningful?  Have they learned that mommy is always talking, always hollering, always barking at us and they have chosen to tune us out?  Now, it is imperative for our children to obey and respect us.  But are the words we are choosing worthy of being obeyed and respected?  Ecclesiastes 5:7 also says, “For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness.  Rather, fear God.”  Many words are empty.  I must choose my words carefully, especially at the young age of my children.  I want them to learn early on that mommy’s words are meaningful.

So, what must I do to be changed?  Did you catch it? In Ecc 5:7… Fear God.  I must seek God and His spirit will do the nudging, the changing deep within my soul.  The words of this blog post will not change you.  And even I, with engrained habits, will continue to shout things to my kids, but little by little as I seek to know God more, as I pursue a life transformed by the Holy Spirit, he will make these nudges more noticeable, like he did for me today.  Today, as I hollered at them to take a nap, I felt God tell me to “Stop.  Go to them.  Gently explain what is expected of them.  And lead them.  Again.  And again.  And again.”

God doesn’t just convict us and show us what we are doing wrong.  He gently leads us and shows us a better way.  Oh, that I would choose the better way.  That I would choose words that build up my family.  That I would choose right actions over many meaningless words.

I love it when God gives us direction and wisdom.  He doesn’t dump it on us.  He doesn’t scream it at us.  He gently opens our eyes to show us His way, the better way, the way of righteousness.  Today, I commit to God and to you reading this, that I will be intentional  in choosing the words I speak to my children.  I know that my dream of having my children be wholehearted followers of Jesus Christ, of being loving and kind, patient and peaceful, servants and leaders will only come with much effort and training.

Lord, help me to lead them as gently as you lead me.  When I am speaking to my children, help me to choose few words wisely, and to go to them and speak with gentleness and kindness.  When I’m becoming frustrated, may I remember that the source of my irritation is probably me and help me to recognize where I need to make changes in myself.  I love you Lord, and trust you with my children as you love them even more than I do.  Thank you for showing me how I can love them better and train them in how they should go.  Amen.

 So, how are you communicating to your children?

Are your words effective or meaningless?

How is God nudging you to choose the “better way”?


How I Want to Be Remembered…

Have you ever thought about how YOU want to be remembered?  Have you ever thought of your life with the END in mind, first?

I’m sitting in Starbucks, creating my life plan for 2014.  I started listing my priorities for this current year and was inspired to think about how I want to be remembered.  I’ve heard others talk about writing their obituaries.  To me, writing my obituary is not inspiring.  It’s depressing.  But thinking about “How I Want To Be Remembered”, now that is inspiring.

As I started writing, I started dreaming of and envisioning my future.  I started really thinking about what people will say about me someday…maybe when I’m gone, or maybe when I’m seasoned and gray sitting and reflecting on the one life God had given me.  Who was Alissa Perez? Writing about who I want to become, most assuredly helps me to create who I want to be today.

This is who I hope to become…

how I hope to be remembered…

and who I will intentionally strive for being today.

052perez

 

Alissa Perez loved her family and friends, and her love for her God was contagious.  Her faith in God was evident in how she lived her life.  She taught others to seek first God’s kingdom and her time with God was sacred.  She was a devoted wife and her husband was blessed by her all the days of his life.  She loved, served and respected him in all he did.  Her children adored her and felt calm and peaceful in her presence.  She devoted her life to training her children well.  She taught them a love of reading, to fear, love and trust God, to respect themselves and others and a genuine love of learning.  She showed her children the importance of serving others.  She lived selflessly, caring for the needs of other above her own.  She had the best smile.  And people felt welcome in her presence.  Her strong character was apparent to all: integrity, gentleness, compassion, patience and kindness. She cared about others and their circumstances.  Her parents always received her heartfelt respect and honor.  She invested in her relationships with her friends and family.

She never seemed rushed or in a hurry.  Commitment was important in her relationships.  She was devoted to prayer and passionately loved to share the message of Jesus with others. The Bible was her book of wisdom, instruction, guidance and truth.  She exuded joy-even in difficult circumstances.  Thankfulness was in her heart and on her lips.  She tried to live simply in a world of abundance.  She stuck to her budget and did not desire excess.  She was fun to be around and brought humor and grace into her home.  She loved to travel and teach her children about the world  She listened to jazz and classical music and loved exposing her children to the fine arts.  She was quick to listen and slow to speak.  When she spoke, she chose words that brought life.  She responded with gentleness and grace, not anger and condemnation.  She sought God’s wisdom above her own or the opinions of others.  She sought order, not chaos but lived a life of freedom and spontaneity.  She chose what was better and turned away from that which deterred her from a full life in Christ.

She was confident in who God created her to be and was thankful for the gifts she had been given.  She used her talents to the best of her ability in serving the body of Christ.  She was not envious but found joy in the blessings of others.  She focused on pleasing God, not pleasing man.  She loved unconditionally.  She lived purposefully.  She chose freedom in Christ over fear from the Enemy.  She passed on an inheritance of strong faith and character to her children.  They will forever be reminded of her love by the intentional memories she created.  She was authentic and real.  She chose to live for today and hope in tomorrow, rather than regret her yesterdays.

She lived a life full of faith, hope and love.

And above all else she chose LOVE.

 

How do YOU want to be remembered?