Sunday, October 14, 2018

MOMcon: First Year Experience

Last month my friend Beth and I left our children with the dads and traveled to Louisville, Kentucky for a three day conference put on my Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS). This is a conference I have had my eye on for three years but it just didn't workout to go until this year. And I'm so thankful we went.

Mothers of Preschoolers is an organization I have come to love; they bring moms into community all over the world. Essentially, it's a moms group. We meet twice a month in San Francisco, but there are over 4,000 meetings happening worldwide! MOPS provides us with a curriculum, support, encouragement and reminds us of a bond we share with women around the world.

This year, I attended their annual conference (MOMcon) with two hopes in mind. 1) That I would be inspired to be a better mom and 2) grow as a leader (of my family and also my MOPS group I currently coordinate). And the conference did not disappoint. I will admit that on the first day I found myself tearing up multiple times for the sole reason that I was overwhelmed that I was actually there and I think deep down my soul was preparing for change.

The speakers they had on the main stage were amazing. Each one delivering a super-encouraging word of truth I so desperately needed to hear out loud. Some of the strongest words spoken all weekend were "You are loved." Have that on repeat and I started to actually believe it. "I am loved. I am a child of God. He cares for me. He has a plan for me." I tell my kids that all the time and know it is true for them, but often discard it for myself. But it is TRUTH. The Best Truth.

The worship was led by Vertical Worship and they were amazing. I learned a lot of new songs and enjoyed worship in a way I haven't experienced in a long time. Release. Trust. Love. Adoration. Restored.

The workshops I attended were on a wide variety of topics but I really loved each and every one of them. I'm just going to list them for my own sake below:

Mobilizing Your Community to Fight Human Trafficking and Slavery - International Justice Mission
Deciphering What we Put on on Our Bodies - Lisa Bronner
Helping Your Stressed out Brain Chill Out - Jennifer Degler
The Art & Beauty of Living and Loving Beyond Race - Lucretia Berry
Are My Kids On Track? - David Thomas and Sissy Goff
Ending Shame - Hillary McBride

The other things the conference offered were a marketplace to do some shopping which was really fun (no kids to stop you there!), a mom's night out where Beth and I went out to eat and then chatted with my sister late into the evening and a 90's themed MOM PROM (dance). Yes, my sister Molly came from Wisconsin which was totally icing on the cake.

We stayed a few blocks away from the convention center at an AirBnB which worked out perfectly. We had our own space, it was quiet, we had a kitchen and made our own meals and it was nice to get a walk into our busy days.

Okay, to recap the things I LOVED about MOMcon:
 - Meeting Mandy Arioto (president of MOPS) and hearing her speak several times
 - One-on-one time with my friend Beth. We spent so much time talking I didn't even read the books I brought with me!
 - Hearing so many great speakers and coming away with so many resources
 - Meeting other women in leadership roles from our area and really getting to connect (in airports)
 - Feeling more connected to MOPS in a global sense and more equipped to lead my local group.
 - Getting to hang out with my sister and dance together

If you have a chance to go -- I would say "GO!" I am hoping to go again in 2020. Next year it's in Florida and it's just too far for me, but it might not be for you!

Book Club: Caroline

I grew up reading and watching the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder so when one of my book club friends recommended Caroline: Little House Revisited by Sarah Miller for our September read I was all in. 

Caroline is a novel about the move from Big Woods to the Kansas prairie from Ma's perspective. The 1800s were (needless to say) very different from our present day in regards to travel, homemaking, raising children and even marriage. Ma's life was hard and submitting to your husband's dream of moving across unknown lands to stake claim in Indian territory would be right there at the top of things I don't know if I'd do . . . loading up all your possessions into a horse drawn wagon for not only a few weeks but months with your preschooler and toddler and a baby on the way, cooking over open fires, rationing provisions, crossing frozen lakes and forging rivers sounds nothing like my move to California!

The book was really interesting in that the author retells a story I knew so long ago with an adult perspective and more facts than Wilder shared. But excited as I was to read the book, I can't say it was an easy read. It seemed a little slow at times and I had a hard time coming back to it. 

I did appreciate the scenes about their marriage as that was never really shared in the original series. I also appreciated getting an insiders take on Ma's restraint in showing emotion and speaking. I can't say I agree with how the culture was back then but I found it interesting and a good reminder of how strong women were. I admired her ability to hold herself together in such difficult circumstances while having so much being physically asked of her. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Super Birthday Boy

We had William's 5th birthday party last weekend -- it was super hero themed for a couple reasons. 1) my kids are constantly playing super hero vs. bad guy or good guy vs. bad guy and 2) I had a lot of t-shirts that could be recycled into super hero capes for zero dollars!

William was so excited to have a superhero themed party and couldn't wait for his friends to join him. While we were setting up in the park, he kept asking, "How much longer until my friends come?" Too cute. Patience little one.

William requested a vanilla cake with chocolate frosting. Easy right? Well, not if you're trying to make a "healthy cake!" For some reason I thought I needed to save all the little guests (all younger than William) from the sugar high! The cake I went with was an almond flour cake which was gluten free and dairy free if you didn't eat the frosting. The chocolate frosting was low-sugar. But then I had to go and add the icing decoration (get it, it's like the Superman emblem?) which was neither low in sugar or healthy... sorry friends.

We had just a few other munch-able snacks which everyone seemed to enjoy. For the first time ever I didn't end up which a bunch of leftovers after the party!

The kids had a great time running around in the masks and capes. And Stephen ran around so much I barely even saw him! And then there was this (below) . . . thankfully Chris was standing watch and caught him!

William Bradley, we love you so much. Sometimes I look at your face and feel overwhelmed by how much you've grown, how much you've learned in the last year, how much I love you. When you laugh and your dimples really show I just can't look away. You are so beautiful (I mean handsome!).  You make me laugh with your playfulness and I'm thankful for the fun you bring to our family. 

We love you SuperBoy.