Inspiring Mom Angie Keith Part two

For Part One of Angie Keith’s Inspiring Mom Story click here.

 

The week after Palmyrs death was a true nightmare. Angie had no time to grieve. They were immediately questioned by the detectives and coroner. The police came to the house and took all of Palmyr’s bedding. It was an open investigation.

After the autopsy, they very sorrowfully told Kyle and Angie that they were unable to find anything wrong. Her heart, lungs, brain, and everything looked completely fine. They had no answers. In these cases, they refer to the cause of death as SUDC (Sudden Unexplained Death of a Child). It is similar but less common than SIDS.

On top of all that, Palmyr’s twin sister Paylinn was brought in for testing the next day. They found a slight elevation in her platelets and called Angie saying that she had to be admitted immediately. Because of the nature of the unexplained death of her twin sister and her abnormal blood results Paylinn was put in quarantine.

The infectious disease people were on high alert. Everyone that entered the room wore masks and full protective gear. There were no visitors allowed.

Then big sister Pyper started having difficulty breathing so she was admitted to the Emergency Room. At five years old she was unable to cope with all that she had witnessed in the past 24 hours and her body went into a state of shock.

All at once Kyle and Angie had a child in the morgue, a child in the hospital, and a child in the ER. Angie was starting to lose her mind. She describes it as the darkest time in her life. She had no strength left and the last thing she felt like was turning to a God that she felt had abandoned her.

While sitting by her daughter Paylinn’s hospital bed for four days straight mourning the loss of her twin sister she looked up at the nurse through weary eyes framed in dark circles and she said “I cannot do this. I can’t”. The nurse looked back with compassion and came down to where Angie was both literally and emotionally and she said “You can. You have to.”

While all of this was going on the family was preparing the funeral and all the arrangments were made. Angie’s one request was that in lieu of flowers donations could be made to the church nursery. Angie was the director of the nursery and it was in desperate need of some updates. Since Palmyr really loved being in the nursery it seemed like a good fit and it would be called “Palmyr’s Playhouse” in memory of her.

Once Pyper and Paylinn were given a clean bill of health they returned home and attened the funeral and buriel of Palmyr. The money poured in in response to building a new nursery and Angie got a vision for something even bigger. This wasn’t just for her personal church nursery. God told her He was taking Palmyr’s Playhouse to the nations. Angie had no clue what that looked like or if it was even possible, but as months went by Angie felt the prayers of the body of Christ and she felt restoration and healing come to her.

In March she had a vision of lime green doors and knew that that was where the next Palmyr’s Playhouse would be. For three months she kept this vision close to her heart and prayed for more direction. She even googled School or building with lime green doors and came up short. Then in May Kyle was away on a mission trip and Angie was looking at a friend’s photo album from a mission’s trip that they went on to Kenya Africa. Angie started crying as she saw all the little children being cared for at this orphanage. Then in the very last picture, she saw it. The orphanage was a large building with lime green doors!

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Angie immediately called Kyle to explain and she could hardly get the words out because of how overjoyed she was. Because of Kyle and Cleddie’s connections as pastors, they know the missionaries (Becky and Matthew Murray) who oversee the orhanage. They later met with the missionaries and Becky said “we have been praying for someone to come to build a playground”. And that was what started the first step of the miraculous journey to seeing Palmyr’s Playhouse go overseas.

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It was a year to the day, November 28, 2014 that the children of Kenya were able to be on a playground for the first time in their lives and the joy that they exuded in that moment was like no other. In February Kyle and Angie went over for the official opening and dedication; it was an incredible celebration that would hold a special place in Kyle and Angie’s hearts forever.

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It was so fulfilling to know that God was using their loss for something far greater than they could have ever imagined. Angie says that she will always miss Palmyr. She will always cherish the memories of her precious baby. But she left all of her grief in Africa on that trip.

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The following year another Palmyr’s Playhouse opened up in Sri Lanka.

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There are currently three Palmyr’s Playhouses around the world and the next one is in the works.

 

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While Angie says there are a few things that need to line up before she can disclose the location, she did tell me that it is a mostly Islamic nation.

It takes a lot of money to build these playgrounds around the world and God has miraculously provided every step of the way. One of the annual fundraisers is taking place this Saturday and if you live in the Cincinnati area you can be a part of it. Breakfast with Santa is a delightful experience for kids and families to come and make crafts, treats, and Christmas memories! Of course all proceeds go toward the new location for Palmyr’s Playhouse.

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The Palmyr’s Playhouse motto is Extenidng Joy. Palmyr’s short life was full of joy and now God is taking that joyous memory and extending it to little children all over the world!

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Angie wanted a miracle. She prayed for one. But she wasn’t expecting it to look like this. This miracle is evident in her words when Angie testifies “I can honestly say that I am thankful for a broken heart”

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By | December 11th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Inspiring Mom Angie Keith Part One

When Angie was pregnant with her first daughter Pyper, the whole process start to finish was less than ideal. She experienced so much medical complications that she felt like one precious daughter might be all their family needed, and for 5 years it was.

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Then there was a surprise pregnancy in 2011 that started out even worse than her first. They did an early ultra sound on Angie to see what might be causing the extreme nausea and it immediatly revealed that Angie and her husband Kyle were expecting twins. Angie began to weep. She was ready and even excited about welcoming another baby, but two at once!? Thoughts flooded her mind. How they could afford it? Would she be able to keep her job?  Was her body up to the challenge physically?

But everything fell into place and the twins came on May 21, 2012.

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Kyle and Angie were so in love with their three daughters Pyper, Paylinn, and Palmyr.

 

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Palymr did have some medial concerns early on. She was even tested for a terminal illness but thankful all the results came back negative. Then around 5 months old Palymr had to wear a special helmet after being diagnosed with positional plagiocephaly.

 

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While the treatment is not uncommon Angie babied Palmyr and it was really difficult for her to think of her child having any kind of special treatments and obstacles to overcome. At the time Angie says that seemed like a huge deal. In the end it was just a short season before the helmet came off and Plamyr was fine.

As each challenge of motherhood presented itself Angie felt like she wasn’t strong enough to withstand what was next, but each time God’s strength was sufficient. What Angie didn’t realize was that she would need to hold onto God’s strength more than ever because she was about to walk into what would be the biggest heartbreak that any mother could ever imagine.

It was November 28, 2013. Thanksgiving day. As Angie was preparing everything they needed to head to their in-laws house for the big gathering she could hear the TV on upstairs. Kyle was watching “Super Why” with the girls. Palmyr began to get fussy so Angie made her a bottle and laid her down for a nap. She had so much to be Thankful for on this day. Despite all the fears she once had, she loved being a mom. She loved having twins. She loved each of them so deeply.

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Shortly after Angie left Palmyr in her crib Paylinn started to become sleepy too, so they laid her down too in the same room as her twin sister. Palmyr was still sleeping peacefully. Angie tip toed out of the quiet dark room so that she wouldn’t distrub the sweetly sleeping toddlers.

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Later there was a phone call from Angie’s mothe- in-law asking if they wanted to come over a little earlier than planned. Angie agreed because she could hear that one of the twins was already waking up anyway. So Angie and big sister Pyper went into the twins room to get them ready.

Palmyr was still asleep so she got Paylinn out first and started to get her outfit out when she glanced at the crib. That was when she realized something was wrong. Palmyr wasn’t breathing.

Angie immediatly picked her up to find that she was unconcious. She screamed the shrill cries that would come from any mother who found her baby in trauma. She told Pyper to go get her daddy and Angie called 911. She laid Palmyr on the bed and started doing CPR. Part of her job in the medical field is to have regular CPR training and she had just had her CPR training only two days before!

She waited what seemed like forever for the ambulance to arrive. At this point Kyle’s dad Cleddie, who is a pastor and a very involved grandfather, had arrived. When the paramedics picked Palmyr up they said “she’s still warm” and Angie felt a sense of relief. She believed that Palmyr was going to be fine. This was all just a bad dream. They would take her to the local children’s hospital and it would be over soon. As they loaded her into the ambulance no one was allowed to go except for Kyle and he had to ride in the front. Angie asked “Are you taking her to Children’s?” the paramedics replied “We don’t have time for that! We are going to St. E” (which was only a mile away). Angie didn’t like the distress in his voice. She frantically got in her car and started following them.

When they arrived at the hospital they weren’t allowed to go back at first until the team was assembled. It was hard to stay calm. Angie just wanted to see her baby!

Once they were cleared to enter, Angie’s last shred of hope had diminished. She knew enough through her work in the medical field to know that an EpiPen was not a great sign and doing CPR for longer than 20 minutes was not normal. They started doing chest compressions and one nurse said she got a faint beat. As the nurse looked up she locked eyes with Angie and said Oh my God. She recognized Angie! They went to highschool together! It was Angie’s friend Christy. Christy got another nurse to take her place and Christy ran to be by Angie’s side.

Angie asked what was going on, but Christy couldn’t give an answer. Not one that Angie would want to hear. After over an hour of trying to resetate Palmyr, Angie heard the voice of God as clear as she ever has. He said “I’ve taken her home” and then she walked out of the room.

Kyle, Cleddie, Angie and her Highschool friend Christy were all standing there when the doctor came out crying and said to them, “I am so sorry”. Angie describes the next hour as a blur. As she remebers that painful day she says “I can’t even tell you how I made it to the next room. All I know is that I was mad. I was wondering, where is our miracle!? I was mad at God. I was mad at Cleddie. I was so furious that this was happening after all that we’ve seen God do in other’s lives!” She was able to hold Palmyr in her arms one last time. As they are saying their goodbyes in walk two detectives.

For part two click here
By | December 10th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

12 Snowflake Crafts for Kids

12 snowflake crafts for kids

 

What better way is there to get into the holiday spirit than to craft with your kids? Am I right?

My kids and I love to turn on some holiday music, bake some cookies, and spend the afternoon working on Christmas ornaments or some Christmas cards for some of the elderly people in our community.

Through crafting, we have learned that we can use it to bring so much joy into our home and into the homes and lives of others.

 

 

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So, with the holiday season upon us, I wanted to share some of my favorite snowflake crafts for kids. Each of the following crafts utilizes various materials to put a spin on your traditional snowflake cut out of construction paper:

 

  1. Wrapping Paper Snowflakes
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    No matter how much I tell myself I will only buy as much as I think I will need, I always end up with far too much wrapping paper. Either I overestimate the amount I will actually need or I just see too many cute designs and just have to have each of them.

    Either way, rather than throwing them away I have started incorporating them into our holiday crafts. Now, my kids use some of them to make wrapping paper snowflakes!

    You simply cut off a small section of wrapping paper – depending on how big of a snowflake you want – and do the traditional folding and cutting of the paper to end with a snowflake design.

  2. Stained-Glass Snowflakes

    With a little bit of construction paper and tissue paper, you can create the perfect window decoration!

    Cut out your snowflake from the construction paper and then using a light-colored tissue paper, fill in the empty slots of the snowflake. Hang your finished product on your window for some cute décor and an easy and simple stained-glass design!

  3. Cardboard Snowflakes

    This is probably one of our family favorites this time of year.

    Although you can’t paint them with watercolors, you can paint them using a much thicker paint and the cardboard is incredibly sturdy – making it last all through the holiday season.

    Simply grab some thin cardboard and cut out a snowflake shape! If you find it difficult to cut the little holes inside the snowflake, you could always paint it as a snowflake instead.

  4. Coffee Filter Snowflakes

    I have used coffee filters to make snowflakes for as long as I can remember. And, now, it is the easiest way to create them with my children because they are so light and easy to cut!

    They are also incredibly easy to hang using some clear string!

  5. Doily Snowflakes
    White crochet snowflakes for Christmas decoration of package gift. Selective focus

    White crochet snowflakes for Christmas decoration of package gift. Selective focus

    Next in line as my favorite is a doily snowflake. It is super easy to work with – just like coffee filters. But, then you can use them as décor on your table!

  6. Cotton Swab Snowflakes

    So, enough with all of the cutting snowflakes out of different materials, right?

    Let’s try something new:

    Grab a cotton ball and a few Q-tips, align the Q-tips around the cotton ball to form the shape of a snowflake and glue them on. Voila! How quick and easy was that?

  7. Sensory Snowflakes

    I don’t know about your kids, but mine love something a little more intricate. They love something that has an interesting texture and they especially love to use an ordinary item in an unordinary way.

    So, in comes the sensory snowflake:

    Grab a piece of construction paper and line glue on the paper in the shape of a snowflake. Next, have your child cover the glue with grains of rice.

  8. Pipe Cleaner Snowflakes

    For those of you looking for a nontraditional snowflake craft that doesn’t involve glue, listen up:

    Grab some pipe cleaners and simply twist the bottom of each one to attach them all in the shape of a snowflake. Tip: Start by attaching two of them just one above the other, forming a straight line, then add on around the sides from there.

  9. Tape Resist Snowflakes

    This snowflake craft is so fun and different!

    Grab a piece of plain white construction paper and place tape on it in a few places in the shape of a snowflake, then paint the entire rest of the space blue. It will give the appearance there are snowflakes floating through the cold, blue winter sky.

  10. Cotton Ball Snowflakes

    This craft is another one that will keep your children busy for a little bit and offers more than just some construction paper.

    Grab a piece of blue construction paper and line it with glue in the shape of a snowflake. Then, have your kids add cotton balls to cover the glue (in a line) and it will look like a big, fluffy snowflake.

  11. Craft Stick Snowflakes

    Start by grabbing some popsicle sticks and decorating them. We love to use blue and/or white paint and some glitter to give them a little shimmer.

    Next, use glue to attach them to one another in the shape of a snowflake by simply overlapping them and adding a new dab of glue in the center each time.

  12. Button Snowflakes

    Start out by doing the craft stick snowflake. But, there is just a switch up in one step:

    Instead of decorating them with paint, attach them first and then decorate using colored buttons and some glue

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Now you and your kids can enjoy a cool weekend of snowball crafting fun!

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A beautiful woman sewing on a sewing machine and smiling at the camera. Vertically framed shot.This fun-tastic post is from Annabel Short. Annabelle is a writer and a seamstress of more than 5 years.

She loves making crafts with her two children, Leo (age 9) and Michelle (age 11).

Annabelle likes to write about crafting, sewing, and parenting. She splits her time between London and Los Angeles and writes for Wunderlabel.

You can visit her blog to learn more about her and her handmade creations.

By | December 4th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Drawing Noses With Kids

I love art, and drawing used to be my forte. So watching my kids create and use artistic expression is one of my favorite things.

Z and SJ have always impressed me with their drawing skills, but I am their mother so I guess this should come as no surprise. Not to imply that I am completely biased no matter what they present me. Case in point- I noticed the kids kept drawing triangles for noses. I let it go and complimented them on their work for a long time, but eventually I saw all aspects of their drawings improve except for that dang triangular nose.

Unless you are drawing Phineas Flyn (whose name I just had to google) then there is no need to draw a triangle!

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So one night I decided to dust off the old drawing skills and do a little lesson in noses. I sat all four kids down at the dining room table and showed them exhibit A:

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This drawing of Mega Mind is great, but Mega Mind is not a jack o lantern.

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Then with pencil and paper in hand, we began to practice. 

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Step 1, draw the nostrils which look like commas that were flipped on their sides (or tadpoles for the younger kids who haven’t learned about commas yet).

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Step 2 is to add the parenthesis around the nostrils.

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Step 3 is to bring in the hook. This is the nose.

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We don’t have flat noses and there are no lines on our noses.  What we are really trying to do is draw the shadows which would fall over a three dimensional surface. The hook can go to the left or the right, but to keep it realistic only do one or the other. One thing you can do to demonstrate this is have the child take a selfie on the phone with light coming in at an angle. Then allow the child to observe how their nose casts a shadow on their face.

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Almost all of lines we see on our face are really just shadows. This realization will make your art work come to life!  

So there.

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This isn’t award winning portrait drawing, but it is better than a triangle right?

Z did an excellent job.

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I was really proud of SJ too.

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Ezie looked down at his unidentifiable nostrils and said “Why don’t mine look like yours?”. I smiled at my precious little preschooler. I told him he was doing a great job and assured him if he kept practicing he would get it eventually.

A week later I stumbled upon this notebook paper.

I believe it is a drawing of a boy with some excessively large backward nostrils. Ezie had been practicing alright, but I was beginning to wonder if maybe I had placed too much emphasis on the nostrils. Who nose?

By | November 30th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Wonder: The Books, The Movie, and The Real Life People

 

We’re Big Wonder Fans!

Z and I both read Wonder over the summer and fell in love with Auggie, his family, and the characters that R.J. Palacio created in her New York Times Best Seller.

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It really hit home for me on a  personal level because not only do I have a special needs child, but I also have hearing aids. When Auggie describes his experience of getting hearing aids for the first time and hearing the white noise become quiet I knew exactly what he was talking about. I’ve experienced that! The part about genetics was really insightful too and describes our situation well in terms of deafness.

Z really loved the book and it’s perfect for his age group (he is 10). A lot of people have asked me about if there is any questionable material for younger children. There were a couple things in the book and movie that involve a tiny bit of kissing (the older sister and her boyfriend) or a secular worldview implying that what we experience is all because of the universe. None of it was heavy or pushy at all, but if you are really sensitive to stuff like that, as I can be, it’s nice to know about it ahead of time. Also, the book talks briefly about girls who are flat. It was so subtle I wasn’t even sure if they were referring to girls chests or not, but it is in there. Nothing shocking I can assure you!

We loved the book so much Z was the one that begged me to check out Auggie and Me.

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Wonder is written from different perspectives throughout the book. Auggie and Me is not a sequel but it gives more side stories that are related to the book. I personally LOVED Auggie and Me. Julian’s story was incredible. It was so heartfelt and deep. I won’t give any spoilers but it brought up some great discussions for Z and I. Some of the parts he brushed over and didn’t really get as emotional about allowed me to explain to him what happened in this part of our world’s history, why it was so horrific and why we need to remember the lives lost.

Okay, next up is Wonder Boy.

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When I saw that 20/20 was doing a segment about a real boy that had the same kind of cranial deformities as Auggie I knew I wanted Z to see it. I warned him that while the movie was fake and made up by Hollywood costumes and makeup, the disorder is real and this is what it really looks like to be impacted by it. The show was extremely touching and informative. I learned a lot from watching it and if you have some kind of cable provider you can still watch the segment online. It is really good!

Lastly, Z and I had our annual mother-son outing on Sunday. We’ve been counting down the days until we could see Wonder on the big screen.img_0500

 I’ll be honest, the whole movie from start to finish was one giant tear fest for me.

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I cried probably a dozen times. I don’t think other people will cry that much but it really affected me. The very first part is about Auggie going to mainstream school for the first time in his life and how nervous his mom is. In just 9 months I am going to be in that same position sending SJ to mainstream school for the first time in her life, so that scene hit me like a ton of bricks. I did laugh throughout the movie too and I clapped at the end with the rest of the audience in our theater. Z and I both agree that the book is better because there is just no way to cover all the material from the book in two hours. In fact, the hearing aids are one of the things they cut out. It was still a good representation of the book though. They stayed true to the original story.

At the end of the movie Auggie is graduating and his parents (played by Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson) are sitting in the crowd. Z leaned over to me during this part and says Hey! There is the author! I turned toward him a little bothered that he was interrupting another crying scene. What? I whispered back. It’s RJ Palacio in the movie! Z said pointing to the screen. Then I saw her too. I was impressed that Z picked up on that. R.J. Palacio’s photo is in the back of the book and she is interviewed in the 20/20 segment, but I would have never noticed her cameo appearance.

So I googled it later and wouldn’t you know I can not find a single shred of evidence that the author of Wonder makes a cameo appearance in the movie. But check out these pictures and tell me that’s not her!

 

This image released by Lionsgate shows Julia Roberts, left, and Owen Wilson in a scene from "Wonder." (Dale Robinette/Lionsgate via AP)

This image released by Lionsgate shows Julia Roberts, left, and Owen Wilson in a scene from “Wonder.” (Dale Robinette/Lionsgate via AP)

 

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RJ Palacio the author of Wonder

If it’s not her, then it’s a look-alike that’s for sure!

 

Between book one, book two, the Wonder Boy and the movie, I think it is evident that we are pretty big Wonder fans. When my other kids are a little older I plan to introduce it to them too! 

By | November 24th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Ten Ways Develop a Child’s Attention Span

10 ways to develop a child’s attention spans for long term success.

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I just got back from Word Camp which is a conference for people that use the website platform Word Press. The crowd there was extremely diverse, but we all had one thing in common: websites, or more specifically Word Press websites.

One thing I heard over in over in the sessions was about the latest research on the attention span. The average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds, which is shorter than that of a goldfish. The point of this information was that we have to have eye-catching designs and content that will grab our visitors attention immediately before they move on. We want people to stay at our websites and we have less than 10 seconds to make an impact!

While other attendees are nodding and taking notes the mama bear in me is thinking Let’s back this truck up. Did I just hear that humans attention spans are now shorter than a goldfish? And we are supposed to be catering to that!? This is an epidemic! Not just because I am old school and want everyone to go back to the slower paced lifestyle of the 1950’s. I am a major multi-tasker and I love my modern, fast-paced conveniences. I do have one major concern though and that is the selfish implications that come with short attention spans.

The selfie lifestyle.

The entitlement mindset.

The era of entertain me now.

YUCK!

That is not what I want for my kids and I think we can do better.

Phil Vischer did an interview 6 years ago about the effects of certain types of media on our children and it has always stuck with me. He says:

What we’ve learned through recent brain reseach is that the part of our brains that process facts and data can be trained to go faster, but the part of our brain that process emotions and make emotional connections can’t be trained to go faster. So in some of these cases, like churches where they are wanting to speed things up because kids are used to faster tv, we are discovering that while they can collect the data faster they can’t have a feeling about it faster. So if we are trying to teach kids values or help them have compassion for people in worse situations than they are we have to slow them down. 

When I really think about it, it sounds like common sense. You can teach a kid reading fluency or to do multiplication tables at a rapid pace, but you can’t teach them to hurry up and feel compassion! Our generation is better than ever at multitasking, but you can’t multitask true empathy.

That’s what concerns me about the lack of attention spans. We aren’t taking the time to pay attention! So I thought about how to cultivate an attitude of long term attentiveness in the next generation.

Please keep in mind this list is not for short-term attention span improvement. It is also not professional help for those with actual attention deficit disorder. I have plenty of loved ones, adults and kids alike, in that category. There is no shame in that. This is just a list that I thought would apply to my children and might be helpful to some others.

1. Discomfort

It’s easy to want to shield our kids from feeling uncomfortable, whether it’s boredom, not wanting to share, or detesting chores. I’ve read two books on this subject that I love. Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch and Cleaning House by Kay Will Wyma. I recommend either one.

2. Focus on Others

Putting our attention outward through community service or acts of kindness is a great way for children to pay more attention to the details and needs around us.

3. Sleep

This is a practical way for all of us to increase our attention span. On a side note, you sleep more peacefully without electronics in the room.

4. Exercise

Robert Melillo, a professor and specialist in childhood neurological disorders says “Lack of physical activity in early childhood is actually the biggest single problem that will hurt the growth and development of the brain.” Melillo talks more about this mind-body approach to attention span in his book Disconnect.

5. Passion

I’m not so stuffy that my whole list is going to be about diet, exercise, and chores. Help your child find what skill or hobby that they are passionate about! This is a great way to increase attention span in a healthy way.

6. Hydration

Drinking water has been shown to improve focus while dehydration can impair your attention span, memory, and motor skills. 

7. Reading

Reading helps us to use our imagination, ask questions, think about other points of view, and with practice can definitely lengthen our attention spans.

8. Turn off electronics

I’m not anti-technology at all, but this is the biggest culprit of our shrinking attention span and it has to be balanced. Hamlet’s Blackberry (excuse the outdated title) is a fantastic book about how technology isn’t awful and the addiction to it is not even necessarily a new problem. However, it does have to be balanced with time unplugged in order to get the most out of it.

9. Prayer

I’ve read a lot about using meditation to improve attention spans and I am sure that helps, but as a Christian I think prayer is even better! When we teach our kids to pray, they begin to process the world through communion with God which brings peace, purpose, and clarity.

10. Old Fashioned Playtime

Puzzles,  board games, dress up etc. The simpler the toys the more focus for the child. We have to tone down all the stimuli.

 

I admit I am preaching to myself with this list. I am the worst when it comes to going to my computer to look at my calendar and two hours later I have been on Pinterest, Facebook, and Email and forgot to ever even look at my calendar. I am also guilty of reaching for my phone when I’m  on the toilet for more than 12 seconds (TMI? Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about).

The goldfish information was a wake up call though. The good news is I don’t think this situation we find ourselves in is irreversible. We can expand our attention spans and I hope to be the first to model this for my kids.

 

By | November 16th, 2017|Parenting Tips, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Inspiring Mom Amanda Huffman

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With Veteran’s Day coming up this weekend, I thought it would be fitting to highlight a veteran for this month’s Inspiring Mom. So I contacted my blogging friend Amanda Huffman and she graciously accepted my request.

Amanda served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer including a deployment to Afghanistan.

She first thought about joining the military in college. She was experiencing a season of confusion and a lack of purpose during this transition into adulthood. Amanda’s major was in math, but she wasn’t even sure what she was going to do with this math degree when she graduated. So she ended up looking into enlisting in the Air Force because it provided direction for her life and it would also help pay for school when she completed her training.  Amanda originally set out to enlist in the Air National Guard. She was actually in the process of doing the required paperwork to enlist when she learned about the Reserve Officer Training Program. It peaked her interest and she went to an open house. Amanda liked what she saw and was ready to give the military thing a try. If all of this worked out she could still finish school, but with a scholarship. It seemed like a win-win! It ended up being a great opportunity for Amanda and she has no regrets about the decision she made. 

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 When Amanda joined the ROTC program she switched degrees from math to Civil Engineering. Then in 2007, Amanda was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and her job type was coded as a Civil Engineer. During her six years of service in the Air Force for six years she worked on various projects and programs ranging from environmental, construction, energy and her deployment to Afghanistan. Amanda’s role in the airforce is a little more complex than some because she was loaned out by the Air Force to complete an Army deployment. Amanda said she never expected to leave the safety of the base and interact with the people of Afghanistan and if you asked her before she left if she could do it she would have said no, but she proved herself wrong. 

Looking back Amanda said she enjoyed being a Civil Engineer in the Air Force. She describes it as a cool job that it takes you out from behind the desk and out in the field.

I can tell that despite the challenges and surprises of the military Amanda has fond memories of her time in the Air Force. I asked her what made her decide to get out and here was her answer:

When I was deployed to Afghanistan, I saw moms who had to call their kids and miss part of their lives. The whole experience of being deployed was difficult. And being away from my kids would have made the whole experience harder. My career field (Civil Engineering) had a high deployment tempo. The military has a 6-month window you can’t deploy after having a baby, I didn’t think that I could do that.

So, when I got pregnant with my son Luke, I decided it was time to leave the Air Force.

Another factor was the fact that Michael is in the service too. We never actually moved to a new assignment at the same time while we were in. This was inconvenient when it was just us, it would have been a whole lot harder with kids.

The best choice for our family was for me to leave the military.

Amanda assumed that after coming home from Afghanistan, doing the mom thing would be easy. She watched many of her friends take on the role of motherhood and they made it look effortless. It turned out parenthood was way harder than she expected and unlike the military it didn’t come with lots of training or a built-in support network.

While transitioning from combat boots to diaper bags was really hard, Amanda had kicked self-doubt to the curb before and was ready to do it again.  She remembered her experience of deployment and the feeling that she couldn’t face the unknown, but she did it. She adapted. She gave it everything she had and motherhood would be no different.

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Amanda says that in the past four years she has seen a lot of growth within and has slowly adapted to mom life. She explains further “It doesn’t mean motherhood is easy, it is still hard, but I have found myself learning to give myself grace.” 

I asked Amanda if she has any advice for Military spouses and she said:

I think military spouses get a bad rap. People think they are along for a free ride, but military spouses play an important, vital role. Without the support of military spouses the military would cease to exist.

Military spouses may not be wearing the uniform, but they serve and make sacrifices. I admire military spouses and am right there with them in not liking the military some days and dreaming about what it would be like to stay in one place forever. Just remember that what you are doing matters and you serve too.

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My final question was about whether Amanda could envision her children following in their military footsteps. It turns out that because Amanda’s oldest son was diagnosed with asthma when he was very young he can’t serve. Luckily, he has grown out of this diagnosis, but for now the current military rules still disqualify him from service. No matter what they choose Amanda says she will support whatever choices they make. She hopes that they will have positive memories from their life in the military and the adventures they take. The boys will be about to start high school when their dad reaches 20 years of service. Amanda wonders what life would be like without Military. It’s been such a huge part of her for so long. Then she shakes off the thought of it, there is plenty of time before she has to focus on that. For now it’s all about diaper changes, Disney Land (their favorite place to visit), and singing the ABC’s. 

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I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Amanda in person yet, but as I’ve followed her blog and seen her passion for her country and her family there is no doubt in my mind that her boys will have the utmost respect for the military and all of those who have selflessly sacrificed. I am sure they already view their mom and dad as heroes. I know I do. 

 

 



 

The Huffman family is currently stationed in Southern California living the dream and making frequent trips to Disneyland. To hear more from Amand you can follow her blog, Airman to Mom where she incorporates stories from her past military life and  her unique experiences as both a veteran and military spouse. You can also find Amanda on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

By | November 6th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

5 Years with Cochlear Implants


This week marks five years since SJ got her first cochlear implant.

I looked back at the blog post I wrote about her surgery and it brings me to tears.

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Then I look at the blog post about the time I had to fish for her cochlear implant off of the downstairs neighbor’s deck! I’m able to laugh about it now, but my heart still pounds a little just thinking about it.

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Then there was the first time she muttered some hardly intelligible words into the microphone for the school Christmas program and I beamed with pride.

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When I am old and grey I might remember this 5 year stretch as a blip on the radar of life. However, let me put it in writing that it was not! It has been a long 5 years. There have been ups and downs, challenges and rewards, but by the grace of God, we have made it to this very significant milestone.

What is so significant about 5 years?

1. It’s half a decade so that’s pretty big in my book.

2. She is in second grade now which is as far as you can go at her school. So this is her “senior year”. She graduates this spring.

3. The Cochlear warranty is 5 years and then you are eligible for an upgrade. You know how some people go berserk about the latest phone upgrades? Imagine that times one hundred!

For the record, the upgrade is for the sound processor. That means all the external parts which come off and on: the microphone, battery, and magnet.

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A lot of people ask if she ever has to have another surgery as the technology improves and the answer is no. I remember watching promo DVDs from each of the three manufacturers that we had to choose from for SJ’s CI (cochlear implant). One thing they raved about was “backward compatibility” That means that whatever technology they come up with will work with the electronic medical devices that are implanted in her head. I know it’s very sci-fi but stay with me.

When SJ’s was implanted in 2012 she received the Nucleus 5.

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The processor is hooked on her ponytail because her ear was still healing from surgery.

A couple years later Cochlear released the Nucleus 6 and the audiology world was abuzz with what all the new features would be. Some of SJ’s friends got upgrades. There weren’t that many noticeable changes except that it came with a snug fitting aqua accessory to make your processor waterproof. CI processors are like glasses. You take them off for “the three S’s”. Sleep. Swim. Shower. There are disposable baggies that you can order to allow you to swim with sound processors on, but they are pretty bulky so they’re hard to keep in place and it’s tricky to keep the right amount on hand for everytime you go swimming. Kind of like swim diapers, except you can’t just go to the store and pick up a pack if you run out.

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That’s why the new aqua + was such an improvement.

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The next time I caught wind of a new CI device was last year when they released the Kanso.

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This is the same as the Nucleus 6, but instead of having an over-the-ear sound processor there is a round processor that attaches to your head and that’s it. I guess it’s more discreet. I was freaking out for a little bit wondering if SJ would want that or the traditional style that looks more like a hearing aid. J and I both decided to stick with the over-the-ear for a number of reasons, especially since she’ll be starting a new school and be responsible for all of her equipment. We want it to be something she is used to.

Now here we are at the end of 2017 and they just released the Nucleus 7 which is what SJ will be eligible for. The coolest part of this new CI is that it the first hearing device ever to be compatible with Apple products!

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Okay this is where I geek out!!! I am a long time Apple user and it’s exciting to think about deaf people, including my daughter, being able to stream from their phones and iPads directly into their CIs and change their settings without carrying around an extra remote. The REALLY cool part though, the thing that makes me shriek for joy, is the FIND MY PROCESSOR feature.

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You guys. This is a huge game changer.

Over the past five years,  SJ has temporarily lost her processors dozen of times. We’ve driven back to parks in search of a missing processor. We’ve gone back to a playmate’s house searching every inch of area she may have crossed that day. Or the story I already mentioned where SJ slid her processor through the crack in our porch. It is so stressful and these things are not cheap. We are talking $20,000. Yes, I meant for there to be four zeros. The good news is if your child flushes their processor down the toilet or has it fly off on a roller coaster (I know people who experienced these examples first hand) you get a ONE TIME loss at no cost.

 

After all the headaches and heart attacks we always managed to track down missing processors. So we never needed the loss insurance, that is until a few weeks ago. SJ was rolling downhill in a Tonka truck (one of my kids’ favorite activities) and when she came in that night and was getting ready for bed I noticed she was missing a processor… again. Ugh. So we went out looking that night. We went out looking the next day. We talked to the neighbors and they were looking. One or our neighbor friends even had a metal detector.

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Despite our best efforts the CI never turned up and I had to file a claim for our one time loss. The good news is we are months away from getting new ones anyway so I feel like we already reached the finish line.

That’s life with bionic ears. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely a blessing.



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By | November 2nd, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Operation Christmas Child 2017

It’s already that time of year you guys. Two months until Christmas and two weeks until Operation Christmas Child. We’ve got our boxes and just need to gather a few more things to be ready to send them off. If you’ve never participated in Operation Christmas Child or don’t know anything about it go to samartinspurse.org for all the details or feel free to send questions my way. Every year there are some details that change to make this massive operation run smoothly. Here are some of the changes for 2017.
 
1. National Collection Week is November 13-20
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2. You can find a list of drop off locations at samaratinspurse.org It’s so easy to find a place even though the list may vary from year to year. They are everywhere! 
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2. No toothpaste or candy this year! I already had kids toothpaste so I guess I’ll be keeping those.
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3. This year you can get official OCC boxes at Hobby Lobby for $2.99. That’s what we did this year. They are so festive and then the kids have a little “toy box” to keep!
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4. The labels are available at Hobby Lobby, or certain churches/drop off locations or even sometimes at Chick Fil A! You can also just print out this label cut out which gender and mark what age your box is for then tape it on top of your box. 

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5. One thing that hasn’t changed about Operation Christmas Child this year is the emphasis on prayer. I like to show the kids videos that are available online of what happens with the boxes and how we want more than anything to spread the love of Jesus and pray together for the children receiving these gifts.

I’ll never forget three years ago when we brought our little box into church and SJ (who couldn’t talk much at the time) started signing airplane because the logo is a shoebox airplane. The sign for airplane or fly when held upward is I LOVE YOU! I have the full story here.
Those are my 5 little tidbits to make this year’s Operation Christmas Child a success. For all other information please visit www.samaratinspurse.org
By | October 25th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How I Got My New Converse Sneakers Using the Ibotta App

A couple months ago a friend of mine (a younger single friend mind you) posted this about an app called Ibotta.

 

“Sooooo, Brin and I are obsessed about a new app.

And okay, I hate when people post gimmicky crap or try to message me about the latest pyramid scheme. But this is one of those rebate apps and I’m super apprehensive about those usually…but Brin told me about it so I was like, well…Brin is smart this should be okay.

Anyway, I downloaded it and since yesterday I’ve made like $11.75 for stuff I buy anyway… and I’m not even trying. Like I could try, but I’m not.”

 

I figured that was an app for young single girls so I didn’t pay much attention. Then she posted this and I was intrigued. 



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I am also very apprehensive about gimmicky crap and I don’t like to sell stuff for commissions, but since it was free I had nothing to loose, so I used her code and signed up. 

I started at the very beginning of September and got the automatic $10 bonus with my first rebate.

From there I just looked at what rebates were available in the stores I shopped at and I check off what I might be interested in. I have a grocery budget and I stick with it! I use some coupons and always look for generic/clearance/sale items. With Itoba I strayed from my list just a little bit knowing that I was earning money for some converse shoes that I wanted. I DID NOT go over budget though. I repeat I DID NOT spend more money on groceries in order to “save” money or “make” money.  

What I did do however is modify my usual list to make room for some items that I wouldn’t normally purchase. I like to treat myself to a candy bar pretty much everytime I shop so instead of my usual I tried the Oreo ones that had an awesome rebate. I also tried a new shampoo (which I really like now by the way). I added pork tenderloin to the menu because there was a rebate, but the pork tenderloin is something we enjoy and it’s a really economical meat. I can feed my whole family for 6 bucks with that meal. So you get the idea.

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In full disclosure it doesn’t always go as planned. Some of you may hate the idea of worrying about rebates. The cash back may not be worth it to you. 

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Sometimes I checked off rebate items then I got to the store and realized they cost too much and I was no longer interested so I didn’t buy them. Some items I could never even locate. One time I bought some sliced cheese and when I went to scan the barcode for the rebate it didn’t match so I guess I bought the wrong kind. That really frusterated me.

Even with all that I have managed to make $71 in less than 2 months!

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I say earned not saved. When I go to the store I don’t deduct the rebates in my head. I stack coupons and sales and if I don’t want to pay the asking price without the rebate I will not buy it. I look at the rebate as a bonus, not a coupon. 

 

The minimum cash out is $20 which is not hard to get to and you can get it sent to your bank account through pay pals with no fee!

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Or if you don’t want to mess with PayPal there are tons of gift cards to choose from. That part of it was surprisingly simple!

The video below is a very brief account of how I got my new shoes using Ibotta and keep in mind this is without any referals!

 

*I can’t get the video small enough to load, but you can watch it on Facebook*

 

 

I have since started getting referal bonuses including my husband who was amazed and jealous at my shoes and wanted to sign up! I told him he won’t get as much as me because I buy the groceries, but there are some other options besides groceries on there. Anyway with that said I certainly won’t mind if you do use my referral code *wink wink*. It’s cdwuljf and here is another link if you are interested. 

 

Ibotta App

https://ibotta.com/r/cdwuljf

 

One last way you earn besides rebates and referrals is you get bonus dollars here and there just for getting a certain number of rebates or if your team meets a goal.

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I know team sound very scammy, but your team is anyone you know on Facebook using Ibotta. I have never talked to these people about being on my team. I didn’t even know that I had a team! I just clicked on that part of the app one day and realized not only do I have dozens of Facebook friends using Ibotta some of them have earned hundreds of dollars. 

 

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That’s my personal experience and if you want to save up for some new shoes are Christmas gift for someone special I’d give Ibotta a try. Okay enough already. 

By | October 18th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments