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Mommy Advice, Personal

15 Things I Want My Kids To Remember When Starting School

Tales of a Peanut 15 Things To Teach Kids


My oldest daughter is starting kindergarten today.  While most of these things won’t come in to play this year, I’ve been thinking about what I want her to remember as she goes through her school years.  These are only a few of the things that I hope to teach her over the years but I think that these are all critical to her success in life.

Your academic performance does not determine your value.

Excelling in school is important, but it is not everything.  And your grades will never mean that you are more or less worthy.  We want you to try your hardest, but as long as you are doing that we will always be proud of you.

Your teachers deserve your respect.

Your teachers work so hard and they deserve your respect.  That means they deserve your attention and quietness.  They are trying their best to teach you and your classmates in a way that will benefit you all and in order to do that they need you to respect them each day no matter how you feel.  If you have a question or don’t understand something, by all means ask them about it.  But always express respect to them in your tone and attitude.

Your peers can not tell you what to do.

Your friends will be so important in your life.  It’s critical that you choose your close friends wisely.  Those who you associate with will shape how others your age and adults view you.  And no matter if the person is your best friend or an acquaintance, if they tell you to do something you do not have to obey them.  If something feels unsafe or unkind to you, leave the situation and find new friends.

Regardless of your feelings, treat everyone with kindness.

There will be days when you don’t feel good.  When you’re tired or angry or upset.  Remember that everyone else has those days too.  By showing kindness to everyone even when you don’t feel especially kind, you can show Jesus’ love to others and can make a positive difference in their life.

You are free to make your own choices but know that every choice has a consequence.

As you get older you will have the freedom to make more and more of your choices.  Choose wisely.  Consider the implications, both good and bad, before you make a decision.  Know that God gave you free will and as you earn our trust and respect, we will give you more and more freedom to express it.  But always remember that every choice that you make has a consequence and you will have to live with that consequence for the rest of your life.

The adults in your life only want what’s best for you.

Even now there are times when you seem to question whether a decision that I’ve made for you is arbitrary or not.  But I can promise you that every decision that I make is because I think it is the most beneficial decision for you.  The other adults in your life, family, teachers, youth group leaders, friends, all want the same.  We want you to succeed and so every choice and decision that we make will be to advance that goal.  Sometimes you won’t be able to see the big picture and will not understand our reasoning, but I promise you that we are only trying to do our best to help you succeed.

You don’t need to be like everyone else to be awesome.

You are you and that is awesome.  God made you EXACTLY like he wanted you to be.  Your big heart? God’s idea.  Your creativity? A gift from God. Your stubbornness? Something that God placed in your life to allow you to use it to your good and overcome any negative impact.  You have a unique sense of style, humor, thought process, intelligence, feelings, and goals.  These don’t need to look like anyone else’s to be great.  You are great because you are you.  And please never believe it if anyone tells you otherwise.

Sometimes people will be mean.

I want things to be always rosy and easy for you.  I want to protect you from harm and from meanness and from anything bad that might happen to you.  But that isn’t real life and sometimes those hard things will be what helps us grow and learn the most.  People can be mean.  It’s an unavoidable fact of life.  Some days, you might be the one being mean.  Try to let the things that others say in meanness roll off your back and give them (and yourself when you mess up) the grace to correct their behavior and learn from it.

You will mess up.

On that note, know that you are going to make mistakes.  Some of them will be little and won’t cause many problems.  Some of them will be huge and you’ll still be reeling from them years from now.  When you make those mistakes, because you will, I want you to remember a few things.  First, the only perfect person on this planet was Christ.  And He was perfect to forgive you of your imperfections, no matter what they are.  Second, your Daddy and I aren’t perfect either and we don’t expect you to be.  Do you hear me?  We don’t expect you to be perfect and our love is in no way conditional on the mistakes that you do or don’t make.  Just like Christ will always forgive you, we will always forgive you.  Thirdly, while we need to learn from our mistakes, God forgives and forgets for a reason.  Give yourself a break and forgive yourself.  Take time to examine your mistake and learn all you can from it and then give it to God and get it out of your head.

Above all else, we are most concerned about your relationship with Christ.

Do we want you to get good grades? Yes.  Do we want you to choose good friends? Yes.  Do we want you to make good choices? Yes.  But more than any of that, we want you to love God.  God loves you more than anyone else in this world ever will.  And His love will never, ever change.  He sent his only son to die just for you.  He wants to have a relationship with you every day of your life.  In the end, and every day that you are alone, it is just you and God.  We pray every single day that you fall more and more in love with Jesus every day of your life and that you choose to accept him into your life as your Savior.  There is literally no decision that you will make that is more important than this one.

Extracurriculars are just that, extra.

There might be a time when we tell you that you can’t do an activity or join a group or do something that you’re sure will be the best thing to happen to you.  While we believe that there are things outside of school that are important, we also believe that school is extremely important.  If you’re falling behind in class because you’re too busy outside of class then something will have to change.  It is not a requirement that you participate in every sport or activity or club.  Our top three priorities for you will always be church, our family, and school and if other things need to be cut in order to prioritize those things then they will be.

You can’t be everything to everyone.

You also can’t be everything to someone.  Don’t let anyone manipulate you or place all of their responsibility on you.  You are not responsible for making anyone else happy.  You are not responsible for the decisions that anyone else makes.  Never get too dependent on anyone to forget that you are smart and capable and that the only one who you are responsible for is yourself.

You can ask me anything and I will try to be as open and honest with you as is age appropriate.

I want you to come to me with anything and everything.  Boy problems? Come to me.  Questions about school? I’m your girl (or if not I can find someone who is).  Wrestling with a decision? I can try and help you figure out the way that you should go.  Confused about the lunch table gossip? I want to be the one to help you make sense of it all.  Know that a lot of what you hear at school is not going to be true or factual or realistic.  When you’re hearing something from a peer you’re hearing it from their skewed perspective that can be influenced by many different things that you don’t know about.  I will always try to answer any question without embarrassment and with honesty in a way that is beneficial to you at your age.

Your Dad and I really do remember what it was like to be your age.

Right now you think that Daddy and I are the coolest.  You want to dress like me and do things that we do and be just like us.  I know that soon, sadly, that will change.  Even if it doesn’t seem like it, we remember what it was like to be your age.  Even if it seems like it was eons ago, we were your age and faced much of the same experiences that you will be facing.  Sometimes we’ll be able to look at a situation and see more of it then you can simply because we’ve already lived it and learned from it.  Give us a chance and we’ll try to help you as much as we can.

This life is a gift.

You were born with a purpose.  I don’t know what you’re going to do.  Maybe you’ll cure cancer.  Maybe you’ll be President.  Maybe you’ll be a Mom with three beautiful children.  Whatever you choose to do, know that life is a gift and you only get one of them.  You will be important and can serve God just as well from the kitchen as from the board room.  And you can change your mind and go from one to the other.  But also pursue the things that God places on your heart because you only get to live this life once.


What did I leave out? I’d love to hear from you!


Friday Peanuts – End of Summer Edition

Friday Peanuts

Well, it’s the last Friday before school starts.  I think this has been the longest summer for all of us since we’ve been homebound with an infant for most of it.  I’m not sure if I or the kids are more ready for school to start but we’re all definitely ready!  Despite my eagerness to have the kids in a structured environment in the morning’s I am pretty emotional already about Charlotte starting kindergarten.  I anticipate that next Tuesday is going to be a lot of tears kind of day.

In more interesting news, here’s what I’m thinking about and loving today.

#BecauseJesus – A very thought provoking piece on whether the Christian culture in America is selfish

A Love Letter to All the Daughters Everywhere – “You are loved because you are” Exactly what I want my girls to know.

What to Do About Tattling – Jason and I are thinking about instituting this method to curtail tattling in our house.  Any other ideas?

Beginning of Kindergarten Coloring Sheet – I think it’s a neat idea to have your child color this sheet at the beginning of kindergarten and the end to see how their coloring has progressed.

Free Back to School Printables – Last year I put together some free back to school printables to remind yourself in years to come what your child loved at the beginning of each year of school and how big their hand was.  (I also do this at the end of the year.)  I wanted to link to them in case you want to use them.  There’s also a teacher questionnaire if you want to know what you can do during the year to bless your child’s teacher in a way that they will really appreciate.

Christmas Stockings – I just ordered these as our forever after stockings and I can’t wait for them to come in! I think they’ll look beautiful hanging from our mantle.

Personalized Champagne Flutes – Saw these on Etsy and wish I had a need for them or a place to give them!

Comfort Colors Monogrammed T-Shirt – Seeing as I’m wearing t-shirts basically every day these days I think a monogrammed comfort colors shirt would break up my typical game t-shirts and various travel shirts.

bikn – I like the idea of this device that you can have your kids keep in their pocket and then you can track them with your phone.  Sounds like a great idea for trips to theme parks or other large crowds.  My only question is about the security and whether other people can track my kids too.  I guess that’s the computer scientist in me thinking but it’s a real concern.

Ebola patients brought back to the USA – While thinking that Ebola is on US soil is scary, this article by the lead nurse at Emory reminds me that the purpose of medicine is to help others.  And if I was in their position, I would surely want to be brought back to the US for treatment as opposed to staying in Africa!

Blurb – I’m still working on updating our memory books and in case you’re working on them too here are two coupon codes: Save 25% on print book orders of $75+ on 1st purchase only and Save 15% on all purchases.  Both are good through August 25. (These are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase through them.  See my link/review disclosures for more information.)

Have a great weekend!


Friday Peanuts

Friday Peanuts

Here’s what’s been happening and what I’ve been thinking about over the last few weeks….

How do I balance my kids so that they’re motivated and yet not put too much pressure on them?  This article by Drew Magary (warning, there’s some language) shows how important it is to get this balance right.  And the letter from a student at that high school paints a very scary picture of the high school culture today.

I’m so thankful for the new Frozen-inspired design in my shop.  Charlotte now has a placemat and a lunchbox that she loves and associates with Frozen without me seeing Elsa and Anna everywhere.  Now if I could just get her using her beautiful comforter again instead of sleeping under a kids sized blanket with Elsa and Anna on them!

Last Friday, one of my online mentors, Courtney DeFeo, shared a post I wrote about girl drama.  I never thought it would start so young and hopefully if you’re dealing with it too my post sharing what we’re doing to combat it will help you too.

Called “The Most Important Article You’ll Ever Read on Child Safety”, this Mom shares her reminder that God is in control which has helped me let go of some of the fear and anxiety that has come along with parenting.

Gun safety seems pretty obvious to me and so I’ve never thought that it might not be that central to others regarding their handling of guns.  This article showed me that I need to be aware that everyone might not share the same views of the proper storage of guns as I do and I need to ask that question before letting my kids visit their home.

I have lots of differing opinions about drinking in general but drinking in high school is not a gray area for me.  I loved this “Open Letter to my Teenage Son About Drinking“.  Some of my favorite quotes are: “no good has ever come from a group of teenagers drinking”,  “Don’t every follow up a bad choice with one that’s worse because you’re afraid of disappointing us or making us angry”,  and “We love you so much we don’t care if you hate us.”

Ann Voskamp is pure gold and her recent post about good and evil made me really think about my views of God.  With the world in such an uncertain place we often question why bad things happen.  But Ann ponders if we should be instead asking (or also asking) why there is so much good in the world.

And just to throw this out there.  In addition to the blog, did you know that I’ve got a Facebook page, an Etsy shop, a Twitter account, an Instagram profile, and a Pinterest account?  I’d love it if you would join me in one or all of those communities so that we can get to know each other better.  And if there’s something that you’d like to ask me or something that you’d like me to share about, leave it in the comments or email me (just click the letter icon at the top right of the page).

Charlotte, Personal

Frozen Dance Camp

Charlotte’s biggest love right now is “Frozen”.  I’m sure it’s the same for most girls.  Well, obviously it is, because our dance studio hosted a Frozen Dance Camp for the preschool ages this summer and they booked it solid!  Charlotte was so excited about dancing to Frozen songs all week!

Dance Camp_2014 06 20_0006_edited-1

Not only did they dance to Frozen songs, they also made Frozen inspired crafts all week like her Elsa crown and Frozen necklace!


But the highlight of the week was when Elsa came!

Dance Camp_2014 06 20_0002_edited-1

We didn’t know who Elsa and Anna were when we went to Disney in December so we had no desire to stand in the very long lines to see them.  But now that we’re aware, Charlotte is a little sad that we missed them and it will be years before we go back.  (Jason and I are hoping by the time we go back the lines will be less than 5 hours every day like they are now!)  So when Miss Michelle announced that Elsa was coming on the last day of dance camp Charlotte was elated.  That is the biggest grin I’ve gotten in a posed picture in a while!  Thanks Elsa for making some little girls dreams come true!


Charlotte, Family, Personal

Rite of Passage

When my cousins and I were growing up, our grandparents had our parents get a professional portrait session when we turned five.  Even though we’ve had plenty of professional sessions over Charlotte’s life (I counted 12 before this one, yikes!) Mom and I still wanted to continue this tradition with our sweet girl.  So we scheduled a session with Erin at her cottage and what resulted were, of course, gorgeous shots.


This beautiful girl has my heart.  She is as precious at five years as she was as a newborn.  Maybe even more so because now her sweet personality shines through every day!


She looks a little different than I’m used to without her glasses but she’s gorgeous either way.  Her glasses have transitions lenses in them so they turn into sunglasses outside.  That’s why she doesn’t wear them in our outdoor sessions.


And her session would have been incomplete without the session patron jumping in for a few shots.  I am so thankful for the special relationship that my Mom has with my children.  I am so blessed to be able to call her Mom but even more so that my kids get to call her Memma.


If you’re anywhere close to north Alabama (or want to travel to it), Erin Cobb is a phenomenal photographer who we have trusted with all of our important milestones.  She has a beautiful studio/house called The Cottage where she does a lot of sessions these days.  It comes replete with great interior shot spaces (like the bed we used in Hadley’s newborn shots) to luscious front and back yards with exquisite landscaping.  In addition to the beautiful Cottage, if you’re local Erin will gladly meet you at your home or another location to do a session.  In the past we’ve had sessions done at our house, my parent’s house, the neighborhood greenway area, and an old plantation.

To help you experience the joy that is an Erin Cobb photography session, I have one $150 (!!) gift card to give away today!

To enter, you must leave a comment on this post saying what type of session you would have with Erin if you win and then enter via the Rafflecopter widget below!

Disclaimers the giveaway: the gift card was provided by Erin Cobb to me with no requirement to write a review, all opinions are my own, the gift card should be used on a new session booked with Erin, you must be local or be willing to travel to the Huntsville area for your session.  See my links/reviews disclosures for more information on this site’s policies.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Five Minute Friday – Belong


Today I’m finally getting back on the Five Minute Friday horse.  All the details can be found here.  This week’s link up is being hosted on Crystal Stine’s blog.


It seems like my whole life has been a search for belonging.

In elementary school it’s who to play with on the playground.  In middle school it’s can you fit in with those around you.  In high school its whether you fit in with your peers in your class.

Even as a “grown up” the search for belonging doesn’t end.  Are you going to belong to this group or that?  Who will your close friends be?  Are you doing everything right?

The beauty of the internet and the blog community is that it provides a place to belong for those of us who feel like it’s a struggle to belong in real life.  Not that we don’t, but sometimes it’s more comfortable to put yourself out there online.  Where you can be criticized but not to your face and not in person so it might be, sometimes, a little easier to handle.

But why do we have this need to belong?

I don’t think God places this need in us so that we will continue searching for friends or peers or for acceptance in this world.

I think God places this longing to belong in us so that we will search for Him.  So that we will find that we truly only belong when we rest in him.

We belong with God no matter what.  No matter what you do or don’t do.  It doesn’t depend on your past mistakes or accomplishments.  We belong with God every day.  Under any circumstances.  He is always there to accept us, flaws and all, with open arms.

What a wonderful thought.  And something that I need to rest in more.

I belong.  Maybe not with every ground in my town.  Maybe not with every group online.

But I always belong with God.  Forever.

There’s no place that I’d rather find my home than in Him.

I pray today that you and I run to God when we feel the urge to belong and look to him for acceptance.