Category Archives: Mom of the Month

May 2017 Spotlight Mom!

Meet Angelita!
dsc_7321           Angelita enjoys all things relating to math, numbers, zumba, dance and working out at the gym. Although her parents moved around a lot while growing up because her father was in the military, she claims St. Louis as her home. Her and husband Tom have been married 20 years and have six girls. Her eldest daughter graduated from high school this week, and her youngest child is five years old.

         She met her spouse during her freshman year at Missouri State University. Over a period of ten years, she completed a degree in Business with an emphasis in Accounting from Columbia College through online classes.  Being a mom gave her a different perspective about learning, and she found herself enjoying her coursework more as time went on. Once she got her degree, she took on a small part-time job as an accountant/bookkeeper for a local company where she could work from home. Despite all her accomplishments, she feels her greatest work and joy is her family and being a Mom.

          I was pretty impressed with meeting Angelita and hearing that she has six girls! I have four and know it is not easy sometimes so I was very interested in getting some advice from this wonder woman in my neighborhood and church group I kept hearing about that had six. Haha! I know the number of children you have in no way raises or lowers one on a scale of motherhood but for the sheer sake of curiosity, I knew I had to ask for her advice!
I really enjoyed having this interview and getting to know her better these last couple of months. Here are some of the pointers that stood out from our discussion. Hope this helps you, too! I have already started applying some of these suggestions more in our family. What excellent advice!

1. Don’t feel guilty about teaching your kids to work and really relying on them to help you. Angelita has three older daughters each about 2 years apart in age and then five years later had three more. With the five year gap the older ones have been old enough to babysit and do a large portion of the work around the house. She felt guilty about this for a while because she was having them do so much all the time, babysitting, changing diapers, doing dishes, cleaning, you name it. None of their friends seem to have to do any work or at least very little. However, her mother helped her to reconcile these feelings and to realize that by teaching them to really work she is giving them one of the greatest gifts she could ever give them for when they are on their own someday. They don’t get paid very often and everyone helps- not just the older kids. (Wow, I love this.)
2. Sometimes you can’t fix things for your kids – they have to do it on their own. We all know life is not all perfect skies and smooth sails, and if we fix everything that goes wrong in our kids’ lives then we are missing opportunities for them to learn. For instance, if they are having problems with friends at school or didn’t make a team, etc. She definitely recommends being sympathetic and giving advice but not fixing the problem. This is hard sometimes because we want to help them, and often it is easier to fix it for them. However if we do this, they won’t know what to do on their own someday. We have to teach them now on the easier problems to build their self-confidence and sense of responsibility for future problems that will come.
3. Be okay with the way you enjoy motherhood. She hasn’t done so many crafts, visits to the park, and playgroups as she did with her older girls, and for a while she felt guilty about it. She now realizes that she is at a different stage of life. She spends more time with her little ones supporting the older kids at their dance competitions, school, or church functions, and that is perfectly fine. The younger ones are still learning a lot and taking in the world as they watch and learn from their older siblings. With a little laugh, she said it helps her to think that they don’t know any different.
4. Angelita’s final point is you just can’t get through motherhood without prayer. She stopped and really looked me in the eye when she said this and then repeated, “Really you can’t.” This touched me, and I know she meant this from her heart. She said this means praying for kids that are having a hard time or often for their protection. Really pouring her heart out in prayer makes a huge difference and gives her strength to do all the things that are asked of her.
Thank you Angelita! What wise words! We love you and appreciate your concern for us and your wise and heartfelt advice. You are an excellent Mom and an example to us all!

dunakeyfamily

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Mom of the Month: March 2017

Meet Mom of the Month Tracy!!!

dsc_6496dsc_6488atracyzhoufamily I am sad in writing this one because Tracy has become one of my really sweet friends out here in Kansas and is now moving across the country to China where her husband will begin a new job.  But, I told her if she didn’t mind I had to spotlight her and showcase her for what a sweet, driven, and inspiring Mom and person she is.  You will not be disappointed in taking few minutes to read about Tracy!

Tracy grew up in Shanghai, a more prestigious and well known city in China. She was raised in the more rural part as an only child in a home of both her hard working parents and grandmother who were farmers and mother who worked in a factory as a seamstress. She described them as honest and very humble people. All through childhood and even High School she wore only homemade clothes. It was not until college that she first started wearing clothes that came from a store.  Even today you will rarely find her wearing earrings or a necklace because of her humble background. It just makes her feel uncomfortable “drawing so much attention to herself.”  Because her parents often worked many long hours, her grandmother played more of the role of nurturer and caretaker. Tracy’s sole responsibility was to study.  When I asked her what she remembered doing most as a child and teen, like if she had had any favorite toy or activity she did, she said she honestly “just studied.”

Being the top student in her school was very important to her parents.  Once as a child she took a test and was placed as the third best in her class, her parents responded by not talking to her for days because it was such a huge tragedy in their eyes. She learned quickly that to keep her parents happy she must work very hard and that she did. While attending college, she discovered her talent for Linguistics and English and went on to complete a degree in English Language & Literature from the Shanghai University of International Studies and a later a masters at the University of Pennsylvania. She met her husband Joe while in Libya, Africa on a business trip with her first job after completing her degree from Shanghai University. While they started out as acquaintances at the beginning they soon learned they clicked well together and had really enjoyed spending a lot of hours after work sight-seeing and adventuring around Africa.

At the end of the business trip, Joe  presented her a list of several more travel destinations he wanted to take her to. She thought to herself at the time that it was a little strange since they weren’t married or engaged?  It was like he was asking her where she’d like to go on their honeymoon.  Then he surprised her by telling her he didn’t want to lose her and asked if she would marry him.  She had never met anyone quite like him but she had felt so close to him and couldn’t quite explain it but didn’t want to lose him either. Then just like that, on the whim of trusting their hearts above all their friends and even parents who strongly disapproved when they got the call, they eloped!  They got married right there in Libya and continued working there for another two years until their adventuring eventually led them to Kansas City where I met Tracy!

Once in Kansas City she was accepted into a doctorate program at the University of Kansas. Although excited and grateful she felt the timing wasn’t right since she was also pregnant with their first.  Although honored and she decided she wanted to forge her energy into being a stay-at-home Mom, which she is currently pursuing. Tracy is now a mother of two beautiful little young children ages 2 and 4. She loves being a Mom and finds the greatest joy in the simple moments of just playing on the floor, snuggling with them, or when there is a quiet peaceful moment in reading them a story.  She has also loved how being a mother has helped her discover new talents and see new depths to her personality.

Although being a mother has been very challenging at times she says through it all she feels she couldn’t be doing anything more important. Older people she doesn’t know from the grocery store or who are coworkers of her spouse have told her that these years with children are some of the best years and to treasure them. She feels this is “double evidence” that although it can be hard when they are young it is a special time to be treasured.

When asked what would be her top advice that helps her through challenges she says:

  1. Take Care of Yourself. She didn’t always think this was important because she was grew up so humbly but she has learned taking extra effort towards herself now amidst so many demands makes a huge difference in how she feels and how she mothers. Specifically she says to make time to exercise, learn new skills, and set aside a personal budget each month to get things for herself like makeup, clothes, or something special just for her.
  2. Meet up with other Moms, Talk, & Ask Questions! Tracy is a star example of someone who always wants to learn and improve and has carried this attitude forward in her mothering. Talking to other Moms she says she has learned so much. People are always willing to share and it is really helpful to hear different points of view. It is a challenge to her to get out sometimes because she feels she is naturally reserved but that it is always worth the initial uncomfortableness.
  3. Another thing that helps her is Prayer. Prayer helps her keep her priorities in line and gives her peace.  God is only a prayer away. It helps her to pray throughout the day and strive to feel that spirit of peace.
  4. Lastly, don’t feel guilty, no one is perfect. Just do the very best you can remembering to always stretch yourself a little. Things work out.

Tracy’s Disclaimer: Is that she has “really struggled with the balance of taking care of her family and knowing herself in this new role” but as she does these things above she finds peace and is learning a new depth of happiness than she knew before her family.

Thank you Tracy for sharing and being so open and honest! You are such a talented, thoughtful, smart, gifted person and good friend. You are an example to all of us.  We love you! You are going to do great in Shanghai!!!

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Mom of the Month: January 2017

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Meet Mom of the Month Aubrey!

Aubrey grew up in Fort Worth Texas as the 4th of 6 kids. She grew up loving sports and holding her own among her 4 brothers.  She met her future spouse through a letter as a friend of her brothers while attending Southern Virginia University on a Soccer & Basketball Scholarship. He was on a mission for his church serving in the country of Argentina. Her brother was serving there as well and thought it would be fun for him to write Aubrey on a whim that maybe they would end up getting together someday.  Aubrey and Greg wrote back and forth with mostly small talk and get to know you questions but eventually lost touch.  Then a year and a half later they ended up meeting, as both had through different circumstances of their own, wound up transferring to Brigham Young University in Utah.  How it turned out was one day Aubrey’s roommate had gone on a blind date and the next morning Aubrey asked her how it went. Her roommate began to tell her all about Greg. The more she talked, the more familiar he sounded. In fact, she thought “wait, what is his name?” haha. She was shocked to learn it was the guy she wrote over a year on his mission. They ended up living a block away from each other. He came over to meet her that same day! Although they became instant friends, it wasn’t until meeting up for a board game night a little while later that they finally hit it off when Greg got to see Aubrey’s competitive feisty side brought out while playing the game of Life.

Not too long after, they were engaged and married in the Mesa, Arizona where Greg is from and then returned to Utah to complete their studies. I know both of these two especially well because they are my brother and sister-and-law!!! So, I can also personally vouch for what a wonderful Mom and parents they are.

At present, Aubrey is a Stay-at-Home Mom of four kids of the close ages of 7, 4, 2, and 1. She is not only talented, kind hearted, and service-oriented but an amazing cook and homemaker.  Her husband is currently serving active duty as a Captain in the Army & Dentist which means she has to hold the household together while he is away, take care of the kids, and keep up with the day to day urgencies. Despite these odds, she has beautifully decorated her home on a limited budget, often has freshly baked homemade granola, muffins, and cookies for her family each week, consistently makes and plans out healthy homemade meals, keeps atop discipline and chore clipboards for her kids, and has a shelf full of digitally crafted Scrapbooks she has made every year for years of her family and their adventures together.

With all this and more that she does, she was hesitant for me to spotlight her because she said she doesn’t really know what I could say about her. I asked her if she was kidding???  Is this not like so many of us? We are giving our all and serving in so many ways and yet we somehow lose sight of how incredible it all really is. I know because I do it, too. We Stay-at-Home Moms may not be earning our way up the corporate ladder, have a paycheck to affirm the hard work we’ve put in, or whatever it is some deem as most important. But, what we are doing is something amazing.  We may not always get a pat on the back from our spouses or children, some Moms may never get this, but we are making MAGIC! That magic translates into care, love, and charity this world desperately needs. Thank you for your example Aubrey, for following the inspiration to be a Mom, and caring for your kids with your own imprint of how you feel it should be done.

Aubrey’s Advice:

When I asked Aubrey what advice she would like to impart to us Moms out there, her thought out advice was this:

1. Don’t be so hard on yourself because there are days where things don’t go right and that is okay. Kids get sick. It’s okay.” She says it helps her to do a lot of self talk which means to talk herself through things, even out loud sometimes, and be fair about the situation at present. It helps her also to see the eternal perspective she says. In the scheme of things these couple of months that maybe they have been sick or not sleeping as well will pass and they will get it together again.  She says she reminds herself that to everything there is a season. Right now her kids are young and are needier and that is just the season she is in.

2. She also says to remember everyone is different. Some of the Moms she knows and really loves are totally opposite of each other. Some swear by everything organic, some don’t think twice about this stuff, some it is really important to be super trendy looking or have a super cute home, and some could care less about that and have other ways they are amazing. Be okay with what you do. Don’t judge if people aren’t the same as you.

3.  Keep it simple. Somedays you may go to bed with a dirty kitchen. Listen to your heart. It is okay to watch TV sometimes or rest. She keeps a schedule and to-do list but it helps her to write these things out in a prioritized manner so that she feels good even if she doesn’t get very far on the list. She knows if she has focused on the priorities than she is successful.

Aubrey’s Disclaimer:

“I would say that when I get tired I tend to get nit- picky at my kids when I should be letting things go. I also have always struggled with comparing myself to other women and other Moms. I have come a long way, but it is still something that I work on. I often get overwhelmed with the things I need to do, should do, and want to do. But once I take a step back, I can prioritize and know that I am doing or working on the best thing for the time. It is a constant struggle :)”

Thank you Aubrey! You are an amazing Mom and person! Thank you for your example and light! We look up to you and love you!!!!!

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Mom of the Month: Stephanie!

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Meet Stephanie our wonderful Spotlight of the month for November! She comes from Edmonton Alberta, Canada and is the eldest of 3!! She met her spouse back in Canada during her High School years, where he was serving a mission for his church. While on the mission, Jakob and his missionary companion got to know their family as her parents would often invite them over during holidays and slow periods. Through these times Stephanie and Jakob became fast friends carving pumpkins, playing Disney Scene it, and singing Christmas carols. It wasn’t until two years later, shortly after completing his mission, he told her he had loved her all that time.

Now after being married 7 years, she is still grateful for choosing her sweetie. She sees her husband as a gem. One who will put the kids to bed, support her in her projects, and encourage her with occasionally doing her own thing. Every once in a while she says, he looks at her like she is pretty out there with some of her project ideas but doesn’t say a word. Later when she shows him the finished product, he is always in shock at how well it turned out while at the same time, acts like he knew all along it would be great. Ha ha! Regardless, she loves seeing his reaction. They have now expanded their family to 4 members with their 2 little ones ages 4 and 3. And, they recently announced one more is on the way!!

Stephanie says she wasn’t always project minded nor naturally creative, which I am not sure if I believe! 😉 Back in Nevada when she was first married, while attending a year of business school, she brought home a shirt she had paid $80 for after a long day. A price that was “for a shirt a lot more than they could afford,” she said. When her mother-n-law discovered this she felt a glimpse of inspiration. It was time to engage in thrift training! This began their “Daughter-n-law Training,” where they met up several times a week to hunt out and work on different creative projects together. Stephanie says she looks back on these times as wonderful memories.

From an early age Stephanie had learned to sew from her own Mother, a Home Economics Teacher, and had grown up doing so. But she didn’t really know how it would be useful in her adult life until her Mother-in-law began these lessons with her and started showing her how useful it was in thrifting! She showed her how she could change up already made clothing with a few sewing tweeks into something she would love for a fraction of the price of buying new! This led into other areas of being thrifty like making homemade laundry soap and sewing activity/quiet books for her kids to do during church.

Just this year she began venturing into reupholstering and woodworking furniture projects. Stephanie also credits her creativity to pinterest and how convenient it is with technology to share ideas. There is so much out there to create and learn, she always has a list of things she wants to do next!

I think a lot of us have experience trying to be thrifty but just don’t feel so good at it or maybe are a little burned out because of a few too many not so wonderful finished projects!  This is where we need Stephanie!!! Please, I told her, tell us your advice to get pumped again! With this she was very understanding and glad to pass along her honest advice of how she is able to side step this. Yay!

Just go for it–  “Don’t be afraid to try something that you are uncomfortable with and keep a good perspective about it.”  You are learning each time you try, so you really can’t go wrong even if it doesn’t exactly turn out as planned. Just enjoy learning and be open to developing different skills.

Patience– “Be patient,” she says “with finding things on your ‘want’ list. You don’t need it right now. You will find it cheaper or even free by just waiting it out a little.” She keeps a running list of her wants in her head. Then when she is occasionally browsing thriftstores or out and about, she eventually finds these items. She isn’t necessarily looking for them but since they have been on her mind recently, they just seem to stand out. “Don’t be so eager to check it off your list, it may take a little work” she says. “You can’t be lazy or impatient about it. Just like working for money you are working to save money.” Practice just a tiny bit of patience and you will reap great dividends.

Learn from Friends– “Call a friend, find out what they are interested in. See what they do, then hang out, and work on a project together. Have a specific project in mind and say ‘I want to make this, can you make this?’ Then set a time work on it together.” By doing this, she says you will learn a wealth of different skills and have way more fun with a friend by your side.

What wonderful advice! Okay, so I interviewed Stephanie mid-month last month which means I’ve had some time to put this advice into practice. It works!!! All three of these points really helped me. I know they will help you, too. TRY it!

You are amazing Stephanie! Regardless of what you may say, you are most definitely creative and uber talented! Check out her creations at her Etsy shop Little Baby Bliss or her craft blog at getyourcraft.blogspot.com!! Thank you Stephanie!!

Disclaimer: Stephanie’s disclaimer is that meal planning and getting kids to eat what she eats is definitely a struggle. With doing Cheerleading growing up she struggled with body image and feeling good. She has learned that when she is active and engrossed in creativity, she is her happiest. Thank you for being so open with us Stephanie. You are so talented, clever, and inspiring. We love you!

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Mom of the Month: September 2016

 

dsc_4984sm-705x1024Hey Friends!

This Month’s Spotlight Mama is Kiely! All of you Moms are so amazing I would love to spotlight every one of you! You do not realize the good you are doing often by working behind the scenes day in and day out, keeping things together for your family and helping those around you.

Perhaps some of you can relate to Kiely?! She balances working full-time with raising her young family. She is a mother of 4 and has been married for 5 years. And yet, Kiely’s story is also unique just like all of us have our unique blend of life events that have brought us to where we are.

To begin, Kiely has an associates degree in photography from a University in Idaho. She worked several years at a photography studio in Utah but decided this wasn’t the right field for her. She then went back to school for X-ray training and later trained on the job for her position now to work with CAT scans. She now works helping patients get cat scans for all sort of needs whether it be head injuries or problems in the abdomen, pelvis, facial regions.

Although she claims to mainly have grown up in Washington State, same as our last Mom of the Month(!), she moved around a lot as a kid due to her fathers job. Kiely met her spouse only a little over 6 years ago when she was 27.   At the time when she met him, her spouse Rafaal had two kids from a previous marriage and was raising them partly on his own- sharing responsibilities every other week with his ex-wife.  I asked Kiely if it was a little hard marrying someone who had already been married before when she has never been married herself. I was a little hesitant in asking this as maybe I was stepping out of line to ask but she surprised me with such a noble answer as to say that she “knows that all families have issues, hers would just be known to her from the beginning.” I love that. How right she is. What a sweet and strong person she is to see past that, to the reality of what a wonderful guy she has met who is such a sweet father and supporter of his family.

Kiely has arranged her schedule so that she works night shifts so that she can be with her kids most of the time. On those three nights of the week,  each a 13 hour shift(!),  she is pretty much out of commission because she has to sleep during the time she is home.  Her husband takes care of the kids during this time when he gets back from work while the younger ones spend a couple hours in daycare on Mondays. She said one of the perks of him having been married before and single for sometime after being married is that he is pretty good at pulling his share with doing laundry and dishes. How cool is that.

Kiely is thankful that she loves her job and that she can work it out like this. It has taken a few years to get to this point. Although I can imagine it is probably difficult sometimes, especially if she is not able to sleep very well, she is very positive and such a good example to us all who have work in different forms. I also noticed what a clear-sighted view she has of keeping priorities in mind and being patient in balancing her responsibilities.  She mentioned that at work she sees a lot who have made poor decisions due to getting drunk since it is in the late hours of the night. It is a good reminder to her how fragile life really is and to focus her energies on things that are of most worth. I love this. What a beautiful reminder this is to us all.

At the end I asked if she would give us all some tips to manage our households better-she seems to be doing an amazing job balancing it all and keeping things in line. With this she laughed and said, “Really, is that how people view me? Because although I try, I don’t exactly feel like this myself.” 🙂 I love this response because that is how every one of us thinks sometimes and yet we really do have so much to offer. After giving it some thought she said she “tries to figure out what is most important and do those things. Then I let the other things go and try not to feel guilty that I am not the ‘perfect mom’ like so many it seems around me! I try to choose one project or bigger task a week to accomplish like organizing my kids closet etc and be happy if I get that done. The day to day stuff I just try to stick to a loose routine. Like having the laundry done and put away by Friday… “

Thank you Kiely, you are more of a Role Model “Perfect” Mom than you know. Thank you for your example and strong character in working toward what you feel is right. You are amazing!!! So bright, talented, and service-oriented!! Thank you!!!

P.S. An additional tid bit here is that Kiely loves dancing. For many years, she would be country, swing, or latin dancing three nights a week! So fun!!!

Here is Kiely’s Disclaimer, “I really dislike meal planning. It is just so hard for me to take the time writing it out each week. Rafaal has learned not to ask ‘about dinner’. Ha ha. I am a chips and salsa kind of gal or anything pre-made. I would like to get better at this, I really would. ” 🙂

 

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Spotlight Mom of the Month: August 2016

August 2016

Mom of the Month

Meet Lindsay!

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           Lindsay is an amazing person and Mom! Thank you for letting me interview you Lindsay!

Lindsay and her husband are the fortunate parents of 2 little adorable girls. She grew up in a large family with 5 other siblings in Tri-Cities, Washington. She has a Bachelors degree from BYU in Rexburg, Idaho in Childhood Education. Lindsay met her husband Travis there as a student. He was a friend of her roommate and came over with some buddies when invited over for a game and dance party one night. She said they didn’t talk much at first but she remembers she thought he was really cute and had a contagious laugh. When he finally asked her out a month later she was so excited she jumped out of her seat!

When I told Lindsay about this blog and asked her what things she would want to share with us Moms, she said she thought about it a few days and decided that the main thing she wanted to share was to “keep it simple.” I like that.  We need to hear that more often, don’t we?  I know I do.  She said, “know your limits, don’t feel bad.  Just take a break when you feel you need one. Even if it means taking a nap or just rest for a little while before getting back to whatever it is that needs to be done after you feel ready again.”  It has helped her to pay close attention to she feels and strive for balance in her interests and responsibilities.

Another thing she wanted to share was for each of us to “find something you love. Something separate from being a mother and a wife. Sometimes we can get lost in our roles. We need to keep defining who we are and keep taking care of ourselves.” Lindsay has more recently discovered exercising, running, and sewing.

She started learning to sew on her own when she was pregnant with her first baby. Now 4 years ago, she made her first swaddling blanket.  Since then she’s learned a lot by trying to make things that really reach out to her that she sees on Instagram.  These cute animal dolls pictured below are her latest creation.  She now has an Etsy Shop and is on Instagram with all her latest creations at SoftiesandSuch.  She continued that, “striving for this balance of motherhood and continuing her talents has really brought me a lot of joy.”

She says she keeps things in check by having herself earn “my me time/sewing time.” She does this by first doing a load of laundry, starting dinner in the Crock-pot, or some other Mom duties.  She also takes a lot of breaks such as dance breaks with her kids or to get on their level and play with them.  She also plans for her sewing time to be while they are napping. She enjoys communicating with followers and thinking of new things to sew. It is fun to have her own things to be excited about and share with her husband about while he talks about school and his endeavors.

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             Here is her cute shop set up near the kids play area so they can hang out together. She would love to have her own sewing room when they get a house someday but for now has a nicely organized space on a side wall in her apartment. She enjoys seeing all the bright fun colors and projects she has completed, too.

Overall, she feels one of her greatest strengths is  loving her kids and spending time with them. I love that. That is really what it is all about.

Thank you Lindsay!!! You are amazing and inspiring to us all! Check out some of her latest designs!

P.s. Don’t forgot to check out the Mom of the Month Disclaimer at the end!

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 Lindsay’s Disclaimer: “I despise cleaning. Especially laundry. I’d rather get a tooth pulled everyday for the rest of my life then fold and put away laundry. Hate it! But I make myself do it. It just takes me longer than most. Sometimes I’m finally putting laundry away a week after I washed it. Whoops!”

Love it! I think I am the same way… wait I have laundry from 5 days ago waiting to be put way.

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