Tuesday, April 21

Encouragement For Moms as We 'Shelter From Home'

"Therefore we do not lose heart..." (2 Corinthians 4:16) 

If you came here looking for an answer to what "thriving" looks like right now, you might be disappointed. 

I don't have clear answers or easy tips-- I'm not sure those exist at the moment. What I do have are questions, and faith that God is at work no matter what is happening around us, so if you're in need of some extra encouragement in your faith today, or just want to know that you're not alone in your wonderings about what is "normal", then you've come to the right place. 

I had another post started-- it was Part 2 to last week's post, "Moving From Surviving to Thriving With Your Kids At Home." After jotting down my ideas I went back and forth on whether or not to publish it...not because I don't believe in the power of a few suggestions to help-- similar suggestions have pulled me out of ruts time and time again.  Ideas are good. Suggestions are helpful. Tips for thriving are a welcome friend on the days you feel like you're just surviving as a mom. I know from experience. 

But, the truth is I'm not sure what the word "thriving" looks like right now. 

I don't say that to sound pessimistic. We're doing pretty well, honestly. 

In my heart of hearts I feel like this time is good for our family-- even needed on some level. We're getting to know one another better. We're learning how to live with each another on far deeper levels than any of us probably want to on some days, but because we're a family I happen to think that's a good thing.This bumping into each other and working through a real sense of living together.  My guess is that this time is shaping and molding our family in ways that will impact us for the rest of our lives. 

For the most part, I believe we are thriving...some days. 

We're definitely doing better than surviving...most days. 

Is there a word for that? A word for somewhere in-between the two? Somewhere in-between thriving and surviving? 

I feel blessed and grateful, and don't take what we have lightly or for granted.  We honestly have everything we need: printers, computers, enough tables and spaces and room for the girls to spread out while they're doing their schoolwork. We have food and shelter (even on the days when it feels like we've outgrown our house!), clothes and toys, craft supplies and lots and lots of games that were collecting dust and are now seeing the light of day. 

I know we have much and I am grateful for it all, but lets be honest, we miss things too. 

I miss hanging out in coffee shops when I need an hour long break-- just to read a book and write words in a journal without distraction. 

I miss playgrounds when my kids are antsy and I need to take them somewhere to run off their energy. 

I miss church and the fellowship that accompanies it--worshiping together, checking in with one another, getting my weekly fill of hugs and "how are you's?" 

My girls actually MISS school...I think this time will help them appreciate their teachers and having a school to attend for the rest of their lives! 

The reason I was struggling to write the post about "thriving" is that many of these things that we are missing were part what helped to pull me out of the bad days before--they were the things that filled me up, the things that helped me be able to get through the end of the day when I needed a change of scenery, or a word of encouragement, or simply a hug from a friend. They were the things that helped me to thrive

We have good days and bad days at our house, just like many of you. It depends on the weather, and emotions, and hormones (I'm not joking about that in a house where 4/5 of us are female!). It depends on the school assignment and whether or not I remember where the password is for the 7th website for my 3rd child on this 5th week of homeschooling. 

This isn't easy for anyone-- we're all ready to take our kids to playgrounds again, grab a coffee from a drive-thru, or buy our groceries without feeling fearful. We're ready to have our extended family over for dinner and celebrate birthdays in person. I miss my daughter's elementary school teacher and my aerobics instructors at the YMCA. 

I'm not saying I want everything to go back to the way it used it be,  but I'd love for some things to return to normal simply because they're the good and beautiful parts of humanity. 

The one thing  I can offer universally to anyone who is struggling right now is the truth of God's presence. No matter what any of us is going through, no matter how much things have changed, God remains just as steady, constant and sovereign as ever before. 

So, while I don't have tips to offer today, I have this truth about God:

He loves you. I promise. 

He is with you. I swear. 

He is beside you, even when things are difficult. I have felt Him. 

He whispers wisdom and grace into our hearts. I have heard Him. 

His mercies are new every morning. I have received them. 

If you're struggling this week I would encourage you to spend time in prayer. Whisper your prayers in quiet, write them in a journal, yell them in the car while you're driving circles around the neighborhood because there is no were else to go. Lock the door to the bathroom and pray for five minutes-- your kids will survive, I promise! 

God hears you. He sees you. He loves you. 

I came across this verse in my quiet time this week-- it's a verse I've read before, but that felt like it had new meaning in the midst of this season of viruses and quarantines: 

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes on on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

I love that! 

Friends, let's NOT lose heart! Even though sickness, and brokenness, and viruses seem to be affecting the entire world, if we have Christ at the center of our lives He will continue to renew us each and every day. 

There is one catch- it's up to us to spend time with Him. To pray, to renew our minds with scripture, to make time for a Bible study or devotional that helps us fix your eyes on what is unseen.  Lets face it, a lot of what is seen right now is a little crazy anyways! 

If you have a specific prayer request please send me a message on Facebook or an email or text. I'd love to pray for you and your family in whatever specific ways you need prayer. 

I will continue putting new posts up here at the beginning of each week...I try to shoot for Monday, but...well...the kids, the house, the homeschooling...some weeks it ends up beingTuesdays. 

I do actually have a list started of ways to "thrive" during this time at home that I'll share with you next week-- it's the list I started for today, but wasn't ready to share. I hope you'll stop back if you're looking for some alternative suggestions to what you may already be doing, or are simply curious as to how other families are making the most of this time! 

You can always check my Facebook page, which is where I'll post the links to make it easier. If you put your email into the little box on the side of this blog page you'll receive an update when new posts go up. 

Friday, April 17

How to Move From "Survive" to "Thrive" While Quarantined With Kids, Part 1

Being a full-time stay at home mom for 10 years (a decade!), while a  privilege, was also one of the hardest things I've ever done-- one of the hardest jobs I've ever done. The days were long, the needs unending, the tasks mundane. There were some days, and weeks, that it all felt like the grandest version of Bill Murray's experience in Groundhog's Day that ever existed. 

I often wondered if I would actually survive the season, and if I did  survive I wondered who I was going to be on the other end of it all. Being a stay at home parent can make you feel like you are losing yourself (and your mind) one slow day at a time-- your ability to think clearly, your broader worldview and perspective, your desire to embrace life and adventure, and maybe even your ability to discern whether or not the jeans you are wearing are still "cool" or have fallen into the not so desirable "mom jean" category all become...questionable.  

As beautiful as I had imagined it all to be prior to becoming a stay at home mom I was so exhausted and walking around in such a fog that, for quite some time,  I lost perspective and the joy I had hoped to experience during that season. Which is why, when one of my mentors recently suggested I write about how to thrive while being home with the kids I thought...I'm not so sure I'm the one that should write that. 

The conversation started innocently enough. She asked how we were doing and I responded with a, "Oh, we're fine. You know, managing like everyone else. Honestly, I think the years I spent at home with the kids helped me to develop coping skills that I'm falling back on now." 

"You should write about that," she said. 

Um. Ok. Maybe

Honestly, I wasn't so sure. 

Even though it's completely true: I do feel like we're doing ok right now and I do attribute some of that to the fact that I have learned how to live in the chaos that ensues when a family is cooped up in the house for long periods of time, I wasn't convinced the coping mechanisms that I developed over years of being at home would translate into anything helpful for others. 

There were days during those ten years that I wanted to pull my hair out. Hide under my blankets. Run away (the girls joke that I do actually "run away" sometimes. As a runner, when I'm having a particular grumpy day, I run from the house to find my sanity, always to return!). There were more days than I'd like to count where I felt discouraged, exhausted, overwhelmed and frustrated. There were days when I thought I was not at all, not in the least,  not even a little,  cut out for this job of being home with my kids all day long, and that maybe the hiring manager was completely off her rocker when she hired me. 

And then I'd get up and do the next right thing. I'd muster the strength to make the next meal, read a book with a toddler, or clean out one drawer in the kitchen because it helped me to feel like I had just a little bit of control over something. 

I'd tell myself that mom crying in the bathroom wasn't the image that I wanted my girls to grow up with in their heads, at least not all the time. Even though I believe it's good for them to see me cry and be discouraged at times, it must eventually be followed with showing them how to "pull up their bootstraps" and get on with life. They might be moms someday too, I often thought, and I need to teach them grit. 

And grit is what I gained in those 10 years. Maybe some wisdom too, and a lot of grace. I also learned how to turn my tears about my day into prayers to God, which is really what always turns things around. 

I learned patience, and flexibility, and the 27 layers of learning to "let it go". Letting ALL OF IT GO-- the hard days, the tears, the fights, the mess, (Oh, the messes!), the discouragement, the perceived failures, and most importantly the lie that I believed for a long time that I needed to get it all "right" to be a good mom. 

So, taking my friend's advice I took some time to think about the things that have helped me the most, and what I've learned along the way. I'll use my next few posts to share those things with you. 

You should know there are still days I feel like I'm simply surviving, especially now. Yesterday was one of those yucky days. The quarantine, the weather here, the kids being all stir crazy...But I'm back up and at it this morning, with hope for a new day. His mercies ARE new EVERY morning. 

If you're struggling right now I'd love to pray for you. Please shoot me a private message on Facebook, or a text, or an email. I don't say that to be trite, I say it because I mean it. There have been many, many, many days when I wished I could email someone my honest feelings so they could offer up an honest prayer on my behalf. 

And for those of you feeling like you're hanging in there...by a thread...and you're not so sure...I'm praying for you too!

(If you're wondering when my posts go up because you don't want to miss a word, I try to shoot for Monday mornings. I was off track this week, but after today I'll be posting next Monday, and every Monday afterwards). 

3 Tips to Move From Surviving to Thriving While Quarantined with Kids:

# 1  Surrender. Surrender. Surrender.

Alright, this isn't like raising the white flag and giving up, BUT if I had to pinpoint one key characteristic that I learned in my ten years at home it was to surrender my expectations. 

I can't tell you how often I woke up thinking I'm going to do A, B, C, and G today and we'd end up doing F, Q, R, Z, P, L and M...in no particular order of course. 

I'd get to the end of my days feel EXAUSTED and questioning what we had actually done all day.  I'd look around and see that the house was a mess, my to-do list stood unchecked, and we had eaten bagged lettuce and string cheese for dinner (even though grilled chicken, roasted broccoli and rice pilaf is what I had written on my meal plan).  

For a long time I felt like a massively disorganized failure because I couldn't follow through on my own instructions for the day, and then I eventually realized that the only way to survive this time well was to surrender my "instructions" for the day. I started to realize that I could certainly write down A, B, C and G on a given day, but I couldn't be mad at myself or the kids when that's not what happened.  I had to surrender my expectations of how I thought things should go that day and yield to the reality of what was. 

Often what was wasn't bad, it just was. The house was messy because the kids had creativity played in it all day. Dinner was less than superb because, well who knows on any given day-- we went for a walk, an entire box of rice spilled all over the kitchen floor, my sensitive child had a massive meltdown of epic proportions and I needed to be intentional about responding to it- the list goes on and on, but you get the point. 

#2 Get Up Before the Kids

I know, I know-- this is SOOO hard sometimes, especially when the kids aren't sleeping. There were many, MANY mornings that our own kids weren't sleeping and I did not get up before them. Sometimes sleeping as long as possible, or handing a kid an I-pad in your bed IS the best choice. But, if you can get up even 15 minutes before your kids it makes a big difference in the morning. I try to get up at least 15-30 minutes before my girls. I use this time to drink hot coffee quietly, think thoughts without interruption, pray, read my Bible, and journal. It sounds so simple, but it makes a huge difference. 

I would also add that right now, during this unique season, that you should use this time for good things that fill you for the day. Try to resist the urge to get up and start checking work emails, or going straight to the news or social media. Make your coffee or tea, grab your Bible, a book, a journal, a pen...and sit down and fill your soul. 

The news, your emails, social media- they'll all be there later (and will likely be just as soul sucking then!).  There have been too  many days where I've grabbed my phone to check the news, ended up on Facebook, and then Aubrey wakes up and I've lost the precious time I had to fill my soul with good things. Don't do it! 

#3 Write a "Did-Do" List

I haven't done this in a while, but when I do it really helps to shape my perspective. A "Did-Do" List is kind of like a gratitude list (kind of) except that even on days when you're feeling a little grumpy you can still write down what you did do that day, even if you're struggling to be grateful. I encourage you to try this for a week-- put a notebook and pen next to your bed and commit to jotting 5-10 things down that you DID do that day. 

How often have you gotten to the end of your day feeling flustered and wondering what you actually accomplished? The "Did-Do" list is an antitidote to that discouraged feeling. I promise you, even though you feel like you didn't do anything all day, you most certainly did do something (most moms I know aren't sitting on their butts eating bon bons all day, despite popular opinion of stay at home moms!). 

Your "Did-Do" list might look like this (names will be different- obviously!): 

1. Did a 48 piece puzzle with Aubrey
2. Baked chocolate chip cookies 
3. Sent out an email for the business/freelance project I am working on
4. Made it to the grocery store and got all of the groceries put away
5. Watched Sugar Rush with my 12 year old
6. Called the insurance company to take care of that claim that needed to be fixed 
7. Pulled a sliver out of Ella's toe
8. Ordered that book for Ella and multi-vitamins for the kids. 

I could go on and on, but you get the idea...it's a collection of what you did accomplish during the day. I promise you, that even if you didn't mean for it to be a gratitude list, it has a sneaky way of making you feel a little bit more grateful for your day anyways. 

That's it for today. I'm off to figure out which X, P, Q, Z, R, L and N's we're going to do here, and I'm praying for some warmer weather as well! 

Love you all and please know this...You are a good mom and you are blessed, even when everything feels a little crazy and unexpected. 

Friday, April 10

Celebrating Easter 2020- Good Friday

Happy Good Friday, Friends!

We made it through the week! Many of us have now made it through 4 weeks of quarantine/schooling/full-time-at-home-life with kids!

Congratulations! Seriously.

One of the highlights of my day yesterday was facilitating a Zoom call with some of my momma friends from our church (theWELL Buffalo). There were babies running around, toddlers screaming and older children popping in to "wave" hello. We shared stories of homework woes, the ups and downs of the last four weeks at home, and our hearts on the good, the bad and the in-between in regards to this current, unique,  stage of life.

It was SO good to connect. It was so needed to hear each others stories-- because as moms, we can so often feel alone, even though we're rarely physically alone. And as moms in quarantine, with husband's still working (some from home and some not), and the extra stress of more meals, noisy hours, and anxiety invoking grocery shopping trips, we are all in yet another phase where the days can seem very, very long...but I will say the 4 weeks, in some ways, has already flown by (like the infamous analogy for young motherhood that the days seem long, but the years are short!).

This is going to be my last post for the week. I'm going to spend tomorrow and Sunday coloring easter eggs, prepping casseroles, prepping Easter dinner with my husband and kids (it's always a family affair around here!), catching up with friends and family via Zoom and FaceTime and hanging with my peeps (not the marshmallow kind, but maybe some of those too!).

We've enjoyed our time at home this week, although Ava still wakes up every morning lamenting the fact that we were supposed to go to Florida in 5 days. 4 days. 3 days. 2 days...

I'm not kidding. Every morning we hear about it.


It didn't help that the ground was covered in snow this morning...Lol. 

I keep telling her that she's going to survive and there will be plenty more Florida trips! 

But all in all, we are healthy and have had fun together. I even organized a salad bar at lunch yesterday and got a whole bunch of, "Wow, mom(s)!" from my kids (the shining standard of mom compliments!). 

Yesterday we finished writing Easter cards (not something we usually do, but wanted to send some extra love this year because we can't see anyone). Finally made and decorated our Peep houses (photos below), and freshened up our Resurrection Eggs, which we'll use at some point this weekend while talking with the girls about the Easter story.

We are planning to watch a Good Friday service through a local church here tonight, and will watch Easter Sunday services through our church on Sunday morning (as many of you will, I'm sure!).

All in all, it's a strange April for sure. A memorable Easter. A different kind of year altogether...

But one thing remains the same: 

Hebrews 13:8-- my key verse during this time of quarantine: 

Jesus Christ remains the SAME yesterday, today and forever

Blessings to you all. Have a Happy Easter. I'll be back early next week with some encouragement on surviving l-o-o-n-n-g-g days at home with your kids from a momma who has 10 full-time years of stay at home mom tricks up her sleeve! 

Thursday, April 9

Celebrating Easter: Day 5 (Thursday)

Yesterday was a whirlwind of a day, so much so that I never made it over here to post. Sorry about that. Though I have a feeling that many of you, like me, are finding your days so full with meals, and groceries and navigating the kid's school work that finding time for other things that you hope to get to (crafts, blogging, reading, whatever-you-like-doing) is proving challenging. 

It dawned on me this week week that even though our schedule has changed dramatically that our days still feel very, very full. Initially, when the schools announced that the kids weren't going back to school and that everything was shutting down it felt like we were going to have ALLLL of this time. I suppose we do have more time in some ways, but less in others, if that makes any sense. 

As moms our days are packed to the brim with so much-- we're navigating emotions, and interpersonal dynamics, and meals, and then trying to orchestrate everyone's help to clean up the mess, or at least clean off the kitchen table (which is covered in schoolwork, craft supplies and all other manner of stuff) so that we can eat dinner (at least that's what happened at our house yesterday!). 

Yet, in the middle of it all...

In the middle of it all we make time to love, and connect, and celebrate holidays with as much energy and intention as we can because we know that memories are in the making. 

So, I started my day in scripture (I'm reading through the end of the book of Mark right now)
to center my heart and mind for the day, and then tried to write some intentions down (aka: a very loose to-do list) so that I know what direction I'm heading when everything gets noisy and busy in about an hour. 

We'll be working on the Easter cards we started yesterday-- the girls colored pictures and paper eggs  to put in some of them, and signed their names in all of them. The plan is to mail cards to close friends and family (today) and put them in the mailboxes of many of our neighbors on Saturday as well. 

For us, the card making and delivering is a small act of worship during this Easter season.

As I was reading through Mark 14 this morning I was moved by the story of Mary pouring her most expensive oil over Jesus' head to anoint him-- an act of worship towards him in his last days. What struck me most profoundly was that as others gasped at her actions, Jesus says this, "Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing...She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare me for burial." 

She did what she could. 

The whole story is a beautiful reminder of what it looks like to worship Christ wholeheartedly.
Mary did not have much, but she gave what she had. She might not even have been sure of how to express her heartfelt love for Jesus, but she did what she could. 

During these times of our own uncertainty,  when it feels like we're not sure what to do or how to celebrate because so much as changed, I'm reminded by this story to simply do what I can to express Jesus love to those around me. To do what you can to worship Him. 

Doing what we can will look different for each of us-- we all have different family dynamics, personalities and resources. Perhaps it's making a phone call or dropping a card off at an elderly relatives house. Perhaps its finding a way to say Happy Easter to your neighbors. Perhaps it's spending a few quiet moments reading the gospel stories on your own today to prepare your heart for the Easter weekend, and then praying about how you can share these stories with your family in a way that is age appropriate for them. 

Whatever it is, do what you can. 

After our cards are done we're going to be working on our Resurrection Eggs today. As I mentioned earlier this week, we made these a couple of years ago and they have been well loved and used (so much so that they are now a tradition in our Easter celebration each year!). We're going to freshen them up with new craft paper and re-fill some of the eggs that have lost their pieces along the way. 

The very best instructions I've found for making them are in this website right here: 

We will probably sit down and walk through the Easter story with ours on Saturday night, and then bake resurrection rolls with the girls on Sunday morning (another favorite tradition). 

If you are local and you haven't downloaded the "Walking Through Holy Week" packet from Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church I would highly recommend it (remember, scroll down to "download swag bag printables"). There are still a lot of great suggestions and activities that you can do with your kids/family this weekend to celebrate Easter, including a beautiful summary and description of a traditional Seder Passover meal (which is what Jesus would have been sharing with is disciples at the last supper). 

Eastern Hills is also passing out Good Friday kits from 12-5 today-- it's a drive-thru pick up and the they'll be broadcasting adult and children's (separately) Good Friday services tomorrow. You can find the details here. 

We'll post before and after pictures of our Resurrection Eggs tomorrow! 

Tuesday, April 7

Celebrating Easter: Day 3 (Tuesday)

Good Morning Sweet Friends!

It's going to be a beautiful day here in Buffalo today (sunny and 60!) and that is a very good thing when you're home with kids. I suppose it's a very good thing for anyone who is home (which is EVERYONE right now), but when you're cooped up in the house with three kids and your husband is trying to work from the basement it's a whole different level of crazy.

Needless to say, mom (and Dad!) are happy to see sunshine in the forecast today!

So, about yesterday... out of ALLLL of the links/ideas I posted the only thing we got around to was reading through the tiny Monday section of the "Walking Through Holy Week" PDF we've been using (I'll put the link to the PDF at the end of this post), talking about the Monday Bible verse from my Easter Week Scripture Plan (also linked at the end of the post), and making string eggs (which were just as messy and fun as we anticipated!).

Aren't these cool though?! Granted, they don't all look like easter eggs, which was the idea, but they were still fun to make!

Here is the link to the website where I found them again...all you need is string (we used the friendship bracelet kind), Elmer's glue and some balloons.

Back to what we were going to do and we we actually did do yesterday...

We talked about making the bread from the Holy Week packet, and never got around to it. We also talked about the girls making a video from yesterdays verse, which was John 3:16, because the know the verse so well and I thought it would be a fun way for them to personalize it. 

But, just as in my teaching days, when I had WAY to much jammed into one lesson plan, we'll continue we're we left off today.

We'll be making bread, coloring the easter egg printables I also printed out yesterday, and the girls are excited (and have already started planning for!) their John 3:16 video-- I told them to keep it a total secret and that they could reveal it to Scott and I at dinner (which they're thrilled about).

They're also very, VERY excited to make these Peep Houses I found online. Lol. We make a LOT of jokes about Peeps because he girl's grandmother (Nanner!) absolutely HATES them. Like, really, really things they're gross. So much so that we usually find a way to sneak some into her lap, or onto a plate, or in her purse at Easter time.  I also think they're pretty disgusting, but if ever a Peep had a good use, this would be it. 

Aren't these cute?!

(This is a GREAT website for crafts and homeschool ideas as well)

If you don't have the wafer crackers, I would imagine you could build a house out of graham crackers or whatever you have around the house and decorate them with frosting. Frosting always covers over a multitude of sins (hey, I think there is an Easter metaphor in there!).

Lastly, I wanted to share my Easter Pinterest Page with you-- just in case you, like me-- love to browse creative ideas (even if you never get around to them!).  I've pinned a bunch of crafts and coloring pages, some of which we'll use throughout the week, many of which we'll never get around to, but nonetheless, they were fun to look at and now I feel resourceful when the kids are driving me nuts...ahem, I mean, need something fun and productive to do this week. 

That's it for today! 

Blessings to you all.

Tomorrow we're going to work on making cards for many of our family members and neighbors. I picked up 30 cards at the Dollar Tree last week (for .50 each). We'll mail some, but plan to use Saturday to pop many of them in people's mail boxes.

Our Easter Scripture for Today: 

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 

1 John 4:9


Link to Walking Through Holy Week: Bring the Easter Story to Life For Your Kids (scroll towards the bottom where it says "swag bag printables"- this is one of the swag bag items).

Link to Free Printable: EASTER 2020 SCRIPTURES

Have a great day!

Monday, April 6

Celebrating Easter 2020: Day 2

Happy Monday Morning Friends! 

It honestly feels like a strange Monday morning-- it's foggy here, and Mondays feel a little bit, hmmm...what's the right word right now? Ambiguous?

Monday's feel a little bit ambiguous these days.

Where are we going (with school work)? What are we doing (with school work and around the house)? Who needs my laptop at which hour of the day for which Zoom call or Google classroom assignment? 

And, maybe we should attempt to fold the laundry that we had good intentions of folding and putting away this weekend.


I'd be lying if I said I feel fully ready for this Easter week with the kids-- this Easter week at home. 

I do a really good job at being the mommy cheerleader with a smile on my face in front of the kids. I've told them (with my super big mom cheerleader smile) that this is going to be a GREAT week and a WONDERFUL Easter, despite all of the changes that have happened, but on the inside...

On the inside, I'm feeling a little bit unsure. Not about Easter itself...the truth of Easter is profound and powerful and never changing, and that is something that we can communicate to our children over and over this week. 

But it is a year without all of the hoopla (Easter egg hunts, activities, Easter bunny visits, the Broadway market (if you live in Buffalo), etc.), and for better or worse our children have grown up with all of these traditions that are suddenly not part of their experience this year (as hoopla-ish as they might seem to us).

My girls also still wishing we were going to Florida and Aubrey was lamenting yesterday that we won't be eating the corn soufflé made by grandma, or Aunt Katie's potato casserole.

"Ooohhh, that corn thing, Mom," Aubrey said of Grandma's corn souffle.  "And the potato thing...they're SOOO good! And we're not going to Grandma's," she said sadly.

"I know, kiddo, but we'll still have a great dinner here! I'll try to make all of those things," I promise... with my cheerleader smile.

Of course I will attempt to re-create the dishes that my family makes, but they always taste better in community made by the family people who usually make them, and as we struggled to create an intentional Live Stream church experience in the middle of the living room with the kids yesterday morning, I was lamenting the fact that we couldn't be in a sanctuary worshipping and listening in real time, with our real, in-life worship leaders, and pastors and Sunday School teachers.

 I keep reminding myself of this though, if this time is teaching us anything, it is teaching us to not take many, many things for granted: People. Life. Time together. Fellowship at our churches...and the list goes on. And that's a very good thing.

In the meantime, despite some ambiguity and uncertainty, we do what we do best as moms...we jump in and make the most of what's in front of us, with a smile on our face, for our kids. 

So, here's what we're up to to celebrate Easter today and this week: 

*For My Own Quiet Time: 

I'm using the YouVersion Bible App Devotional

If you search "Easter" in the Bible App on your phone, you can find quite a few reading plans. I picked a simple one to use in my morning prayer time, along with my own reading of the scriptures where I'm moving between the gospel accounts of Holy Week.

*With the Kids: 

Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church Family Resources:

We are using the "Walking Through Holy Week: Bring the Easter Story to Life For Your Kids" booklet that we received from a local church (Eastern Hills Wesleyan) during an online family Easter event they did last week.

I thought the booklet was posted online, but couldn't find it when I looked this morning. I'm going to reach out to their children's director today to see if I can get the link and post it here for you (so check back later today if you're interested).

They do have some great resources posted on their Children's Ministry page that you can access from home though:


And here some links to other FREE Family/Children's resources I found online to help you celebrate Easter as well: 

-Saddleback Church's Kid's YouTube Channel: 


-Children's Ministry.com Website:

If you search "Holy Week devotional" in their search bar, a list of links to multiple family activities and reading plans comes up. Here is the link to that search:


-Focus on the Family:

This Holy Week Family Activity Guide also offers some great suggestions for activities and readings you can engage your kids in throughout the week (broken down by age). I really like the white t-shirt activity suggested in the "Tween" section.


-Some other Easter activities we're going to try today,  just for fun:

Paper Easter Egg Templates

 I found these Easter Egg templates online. I'm going to print them out on cardstock and have the girls decorate them with markers, glitter glue, washi tape, and whatever else I can find around the house later (photos to come tomorrow!)


String Eggs

This craft description actually uses the word "messy", but hey, we're home, the house is kind of a mess anyways, and these look really cool if they actually work! (Again, pictures to come tomorrow!).


Resurrection Eggs

These have become one of our favorite ways to talk about the Easter story with our girls. We made ours three or four years ago and they are in need of some updating, so we're going to work on them this week. We always pull ours out on Good Friday as a kid-friendly way to talk about the Easter Story.

Here's a photo of our well-used Resurrection Eggs that we're going to update this week:

This was my favorite link to making them online. We'll be working on ours on Thursday, but I wanted to share the link today so you could start looking for the items around the house, or add them to your list if you're heading to the grocery store (though please don't go out on an extra occasion for anything you weren't planning on this week):


One last thing...

One of my favorite sources for online printables is a website called the Hope Ink Blog. I don't know Emily Hope, but I love her work and when I popped into my email this morning I saw this link to her free Easter Printables. I've ordered cards from her website before, and have printed out a number of her Images for use around the house. They feel like little rays of sunshine to me when I need some visual encouragement in my week. Here's an example of one of her printables (that I LOVE), and the link to them online:

Lastly, here are our crafts from yesterday...our palm leaves and coloring pages (mine is the one that is still unfinished!):

 I hope you all  have a fun and blessed day!