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my little Zoe… my little THIEF

By on Oct 30, 2015

Just before settling down to write this post I came across an article about Doris Payne, an 85-year-old International Jewel thief. Earlier this month she was nabbed for stealing from Saks, and was discovered to have a number of warrants for her arrest.  She’s gorgeous, poised and now behind bars. Which brings me to my little Zoe…my little thief. It’s hard for me to imagine anything bad about my girls. I birthed the little cherubs and I’ve watched them figure out this vast confusing world of do’s and don’ts. They are my little innocent creatures because they haven’t learned how to do bad things, right? Wrong! I learned recently that they too are inherently flawed creatures from birth (sinners if I might be so frank). I know…I know…not only does it sound harsh to label your own kid a “sinner,” but it’s also not a PC term either. But trust me, it simply translates to “someone who is willfully disobedient”. It’s this universal and innate nature that encouraged my Zoe to try her hand at thievery. A few Saturday’s ago,  Jada ran upstairs with what looked like play doctor tools. She held a plastic syringe and plastic reflex hammer tightly in the palm of her hand while she wildly gesticulated about some new revelation she had to make known. As she waved her hands (just shy of my nose), I realized that I, the gatekeeper of all toy purchases, had not purchased those toys. In fact, I’m pretty much aware of every toy item they own and when it was purchased or gifted. I asked Jada where she had gotten the toys and she disclosed that the toys were from Zoe. I turned to Zoe, who at this point was looking rather sheepish. It didn’t take much probing to uncover that the toys were taken from school the previous day. I launched into an entire discussion about why it is bad behavior to take things that not only don’t belong to her, but also denies other kids the opportunity to play with them. We also discussed how Mommy and Daddy work so hard to buy the things she likes (as evidenced by the room full of toys downstairs). She nodded with understanding and promised to return the toys to school. Phew! Crisis averted… …well, not really. I don’t know if my sweet-innocent- first-born- baby- girl, who could do no willful wrong, was testing me to see JUST how much I would actually notice her bouts of thievery, but on Sunday afternoon the bandit struck again! Upon returning from church I realized that she had a baby bottle stashed in her Sunday school bag, just underneath her bible stories and drawings of Jesus (how ironic)! I was so confused! Had I crafted the entire interaction that transpired the previous morning? Did she think thievery at school was off-limits, but church (of all places) was fair game! Did I botch the explanation? As I held the bottle in my hand she immediately began explaining that she would return the bottle next Sunday. I could see the guilt and remorse pulsing through her body and probably knotting up her little tummy. It’s painful to be exposed for wrongdoing. I wanted to keep it between the two of us, but I knew that I needed to alert the Big Boss for back-up…Papa Phil. I encouraged her to disclose her behavior to Daddy, but the utter embarrassment was too much for her. She cried and tried to hide. I wanted so much to provide her the cover…but I didn’t. Papa Nevels and I stood strong and united. We chided her behavior and likened it to the behavior of Jade in the book “The Missing Cupcake Mystery.” Spoiler Alert: Jade is the cupcake thief who confesses to her family. Though she disappoints her parents, they are proud of her for coming forward to tell the truth. We read the book as a family (in case any other Nevels member required a moral refresher), and Zoe hugged me and tried to hide in my arms again. This time I let her. She’d suffered enough. As we cuddled, I told her that I didn’t like the behavior but that I absolutely loved her! She assured me that she would return both items to their respective places…and she did. In fact, after each offense was resolved she would return to me explaining her good deed, beaming and proud.  Apparently, redemption feels good no matter how old you are. From that day forward she has been positively fervent about the importance of not taking things that don’t belong to her. In Zoe’s word’s, “it’s just not nice…it’s not right…we don’t do that kind of thing!” Then again, maybe those were my hasty and awkward words as I struggled to weave moral fiber into a 4-year-old. I shudder to think how small decisions (like lifting a baby bottle from the church toy bin), can lead to  bigger decisions (like becoming an International Jewel Thief). How would Zoe’s moral compass have changed if I hadn’t caught the second offense? Am I prepared to confront a third offense should it arise? More and more I realize that this parenthood thing is not something to take lightly. It requires constant watering (teaching) and pruning (reprimanding) in order for our little garden of flowers to bloom in the soil that they’re rooted in. I...

Momma Got Paid!

By on Oct 26, 2015

I got paid today in hugs and kisses! I know …I know, getting paid in hugs and kisses is like a running joke for us Momma Bears. But believe me when I tell you that this paycheck was different from the others. After a busy morning of grocery shopping (for the week) with 2 toddlers and a babe strapped to my chest like a koala, I was beat (a definite understatement)! Of course you know the job doesn’t end there. Upon arriving home I had to prepare lunch for toddlers and babe (who is still on a breast milk diet) and then put the groceries away. After lunch, I ushered the girls to bed for their afternoon nap, while I cleaned the refrigerator and put the groceries away. That’s when I got paid! Little Jada came running out the room first, followed by Zoe. “I want a hug and a kiss,” she said. But instead of doing my usual “half bend and let them hug my hips while I pat their back and kiss their foreheads,” I decided to kneel down for a full on hug. It was the best paycheck ever! They wrapped their skinny little arms around my neck (I think Zoe wrapped her arms around me twice), and I squeezed their little bodies so tightly. We gave each other big kisses (including Eskimo kisses) and they ran off saying, “you’re my best Mommy!” Sure I’m their only Mommy too, but I still felt like I’d just received a little bonus in my check this week. I think I’m going to slow down more regularly so I can really enjoy my paychecks. In fact, I think this might be the only scenario in which it’s okay to live paycheck to paycheck. Are you taking the time to really enjoy your paydays? Share this:ShareClick to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...

I’m a Stay-at-Home-Mom because God said so!

By on Oct 24, 2015

It hasn’t been easy for me to submit to being a stay-at-home-Mom. Prior to walking this path, I’d worked since the age of 14 and had spent my entire life believing that obtaining degrees and working were not just the only pathway toward financial stability, but that it would undoubtedly bring personal fulfillment. As a result, I approached every phase of my life as if it were a sacrifice leading me toward greater success. Unfortunately, I approached motherhood in the same way. I intended to stay at home with our kids while they were small, while simultaneously holding down a job that would afford me the flexibility to remain abreast of the changing career landscape. Motherhood was just something to get through until I could get back to establishing a fulfilling career (of which I still hadn’t experienced). While my decision to be a stay-at-home Mom was a challenging one, I thought my husband supported it whole-heartedly. However, whenever I shared the difficulties of my day or whenever he witnessed just how worn out I’d become, he would say, “You don’t have to stay home. We can get a nanny so you can work. I just want you to be happy.” His words were meant to be supportive, but they always seemed to undermine the “sacrifice” that I was making for our family. My efforts seemed unappreciated, and so I wanted to hurry through this Motherhood chapter so that I could get back to rebuilding “me.” After digging into precepts class and understanding the role of the Holy Spirit, I began to pray that God would stir up the Holy Spirit in me. I knew the Spirit was there because I said I believed in the Gospel, but I wasn’t actually walking with God as if I believed the Gospel. I was a worrier and a planner. I wanted God to prove to me he was there. I wanted to be a devout witness to His miracles and wonders. I wanted to experience the crazy irrefutable signs of His hand all over my life like that of the Apostles. They were pierced by the gospel, but for me, it wasn’t totally real. I also prayed that God would show me what he had planned for my life. I knew I was supposed to be His witness, but how? Clearly being a mother of 3 kids, ages 4 and under, was not His ultimate will for my life. I prayed that “despite” my current season of motherhood, God would reveal his plan for me …just in case I needed to prepare for it beforehand. (wink, wink) A few days later I got an answer…I was offered a part-time job as a Grant Writer. It promised ultimate flexibility, I could work from home, get paid a solid hourly rate, and would pave the way for future writing opportunities. Shazam! God wanted me to be a grant writer. But, surprisingly, after my initial excitement about the opportunity, I started to feel uneasy. So I prayed for the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom and discernment. After all, wasn’t this job God’s gift to me since it fell in my lap? There was no effort required…I just needed to say, “YES”. But I didn’t want to dismiss the uneasiness I felt. It stemmed from my concern that my part-time work would interfere with time with my kids. I’d spent 4 years half-heartedly committing to the job of motherhood (physically present, but mentally preparing for work outside of the home), and I didn’t want to end up completely checked out! Hence, I prayed over this new opportunity and here’s what God revealed to me through the Holy Spirit: On Tuesday, after precepts class, I chatted with a friend and seasoned Mom (Jan) about Motherhood and our conversation veered toward my new job opportunity. She shared with me the pros and cons of part time work while mothering and affirmed that the decision was not one to take lightly. As we parted, Jan said that she would pray for me. On Wednesday, I still felt conflicted about fitting in 20 hours of work per week while mothering 3 babes and hence contacted the hiring director to request the weekend to think it over. On Thursday I received an email response from the director stating: “don’t overthink. As long as we both go in promising to be upfront with each other, prioritizing what’s good for [the organization]…I think its got a very good chance of befitting all.”  This made me even more uncomfortable and all sorts of red flags, sirens and foghorns were waving and going off in my head. But the same day, my husband had disclosed to me that he would be disappointed if I didn’t at least “try” the job. I spent the weekend at a retreat with my Moody bible study group, and upon arriving, I ran into Linda (my precepts facilitator and wife of the pastor who leads our bible study), who instinctively began pouring God’s word into me, and encouraging me as a Mother. She shared her experiences and emphasized the importance of being readily available to my kids for teachable moments. She said she’d pray for me. I think you already can guess what I was feeling at that point: uneasy and conflicted! Still I remained prayerful that God would reveal His will to me. And so the Holy...

I Lost 5 LBS in 5 Days By Following These 5 Principles

By on Jul 13, 2015

Most people think that losing weight means that you have to deprive yourself of not only yummy food, but food…period. But last week I learned that depriving oneself of good food is a myth. In fact, the key to losing weight is in what you eat, how frequently you eat it, and your water intake. I lost weight by eating! I actively try to be a healthy eater, but after birthing my 3rd baby in 4 years I felt it was high time to call in the professionals. Not just for the sake of weight-loss, but for the sake of giving my family a strong healthy relationship with food. So this past week I decided to embark on a Clean Eating Challenge lead by a personal trainer and dietitian. My coach defined clean eating for me (nothing out of a box, bag or can…besides tuna) and gave me the flexibility to take the lead on my own meal planning while offering suggestions along the way. So what did I eliminate? I eliminated breads, pastas and rice (even brown). I cooked and prepared my own food everyday and I ate frequently instead of waiting until I felt famished. My meals included all kinds of meats (YES…even BACON) and a host of yummy fruits and veggies. I drank 1/2 my body weight in fluid ounces of water, and I was rarely hungry. I ate a total of 5 complete small meals a day composed of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Now I’m still working on portion control…but here’s a sampling of the meals that I prepared and enjoyed!. I lost 5 pounds in 5 days by staying hydrated and EATING regularly. I didn’t have any major cravings until the hubby brought home my favorite treat TWIZZLERS! But instead of reaching for them I pulled out a bowl of sweet sweet watermelon. It wasn’t easy…but I stuck to it. And you can to. Below are the 5 principles that helped me surpass my goals: 1. Find a Coach or an Accountability Friend Accountability is HUGE! The good thing about my Awesome Coach was that she encouraged me to eat frequently and educated me on why. She checked in with the group (via FB) and shared reminders and tips as needed. Sometimes it helps just to have someone go through the journey with you. If I didn’t have a coach or a group of determined women to hold me accountable, I certainly would have opted for Twizzlers over Watermelon! 2. Plan Ahead The weekend before the big Clean Eating Challenge the group was instructed to purchase all groceries (for the week) over the weekend. This wasn’t a totally new concept for me, but it was a kick in the butt to make it a conscious priority over the weekend. I mapped out my meals for the week, crafted a grocery list and went to the store without the kids to minimize distraction. Everything was within reach when it came time to prep a meal. 3. Set your goals – Goals should be realistic and achievable Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from this challenge with regard to weight. So my goals were to learn how to eat healthier, actually eat healthier and resist artificial sweets. The weight loss was just an awesome by-product of my disciplined eating habits. In fact, I bought my first scale the weekend before the challenge…and I’ve quickly become obsessed. Uh Oh! 4. Share photos of your meals Each of the participants in the Clean Eating Challenge would share photos of their meals. So each day there was an expectation of one another to share 5 new photos representing the 5 balanced meals each person consumed that day. Sharing photos of your meals is a great way to hold yourself accountable for what you are eating AND it’s a great way to share meal ideas! Lettuce wraps in our group were a big hit! 5. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your weakness to the group…you’ll find help It was Thursday evening when the Twizzlers appeared on the scene. The girls had gone to bed, Phil (the purchaser of said Twizzlers) was working late and I was alone…knowing that the Twizzlers were somewhere within reach. I had the notion to tip-toe downstairs and ransack the house looking for the bag, but decided to check-in with my on-line clean eating group first. I confessed my moment of weakness and they came to my aid. “You’re so close, Amina,” “You’ve been doing a great job so far, just eat fruit,” and my favorite piece of advice “Just go to bed!” As a result, I didn’t succumb to my craving, but instead reached for a bowl of cool, sweet watermelon! Yum! I learned so much in just 5 days, and I’m slowly starting to see the ripple effect. I’ve lost weight, I’m energized and waking up earlier, I’m always satiated and hydrated, and lastly, my eating habits are encouraging my Hubby to eat better.  It’s been a win…win…WIN! So go ahead…challenge yourself for 5 days and see how it can change your life too! Are you eating balanced meals…regularly? Don’t be a stranger! Follow us here and come hang out on Facebook to get the scoop on the latest news, tips and all things Motherly.   Share this:ShareClick to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on...

Why You Should Never Agree to be Photographed on a Whim!

By on Jul 2, 2015

Do you recognize this meme of Jamie Foxx? It has been floating around the internet serving as a reminder to my fellow Average Joes to be selective about who captures our image. Now I’ve taken absolutely wretched photos in the past, but an impromptu “photo shoot” on Father’s Day proved to be hands-down one of my worst! It was the perfect day for a picnic by the lake; great weather, great food and even better company. But as we laid out on the grass basking in our contentment we were interrupted by a gentleman lingering nearby with a camera. Now I’d been nursing Sydney at the time (wearing my breastfeeding cover of course), and was a bit alarmed to see him inching closer and closer to our picnic locale. Was he a perv? A peeping Tom? A Chester? Who knew! So I whispered to Phil about our lurking stranger when suddenly he breached the silence and asked if he could take a photo of our picnic scene for the Hyde Park Herald Newspaper in honor of  Father’s Day. We hesitated but ultimately agreed. I mean… could this be any more random?!?! He immediately began taking a few shots, which I assumed were test shots because clearly we weren’t “ready” and I was still breastfeeding our baby. But before I knew it, he was proudly shoving the camera in our faces to show the image he’d captured in pixels. In my haste to unlatch baby and re-latch bra I nodded in approval. Bad idea! Fast forward to Thursday morning and my shower is interrupted by Phil remarking that the photo that we’d taken at the lake had actually made it into the Herald… and that unfortunately I wouldn’t like it. Of course I demanded that he show me the photo and to my horror… YUP! That actually happened…   Are you bold enough to poke fun of and post one of your worst photos?                           Don’t be a stranger! Follow us here and come hang out on Facebook to get the scoop on the latest news, tips and all things Motherly. Share this:ShareClick to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...

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