Category Archives: Mommy Muscle Monday

Mommy Muscle Monday ~ Switching out Seasons

An era has ended. Another begins. Life seasons sneak up and overtake and, before you know it, pass by. My life has been and is and continues to be so very full. So very uniquely….mine.

My summer has come to an end, and with it my Mommy Muscle Monday series.

When I set out to strengthen my Mommy Muscles I wasn’t sure where I was heading. I was eager to see what I would look like by the end of the summer. Would I be a more engaged mommy? Would my household be running smoothly with the aid of my little helpers? Would I be strong enough to push through a hard, unpredictable week and come out on the other side? What about meals? Would I ever get around to planning them?

What do I look like now that my summer has ended?

I look like my children’s classroom teacher.

I smile, because at the beginning of the summer, I had no idea this is where I was headed, but God knew, and writing this series was just one of the many kind ways I was prepared for this full-circle change.

I’ve done it before. I have taught my four older children in various capacities, then took a 12 year hiatus during which four more came. The baby is now five and starting kindergarten, and while I wasn’t looking to return to teaching, a classroom came looking for me.

It is a room full of precious children and comes with an amazing assistant teacher, and while this blog continues to be about heart composting and not my classroom adventures, devoted readers will understand a bit more about one of the many life transitions that is presenting in my world these days.

I am switching out a season of at-home-mommy for a season of teaching-at-school mommy, all the while hoping to seize each season of my life, as I grow into who I hope to become.


Mommy Muscle Monday ~ Believing the Positive

It is easier for me to listen to and believe the negative that I hear from my children so much more than the positive. An angry tirade begins about how there are Never any clean clothes around here, because NOBODY does the laundry, and I shrivel up inside and start to believe it. All because someone is upset about having to wear something they don’t want to. Or because they failed to put their favorite outfit in the hamper after wearing it. It’s not about me or the laundry, but I quickly make it that.

In the same way, when a child comes to me to sort out feelings of anxiety about growing up, I hear her words Because grownups don’t like to do fun things, and I don’t want to be sad all of the time and begin to personalize it. This does nothing to help her process her own feelings and, once again, it becomes about me. It’s a vicious cycle.

So for today’s exercise, I am going to focus on believing and dwelling on the positive things my kids say. Rather than allowing the negative to fill me, I will believe and embrace and feel the love. Because it’s there.


Mommy Muscle Monday ~ Letting Go

Mommy Muscle Monday

Mommy Muscle Monday

This week my letting go muscle will be working overtime as I travel away from home, leaving things to run without me. You know they can, right? I don’t always believe it, though.

Things around here will run just fine without me. Sometimes better. Or I should say differently.

Different is okay. It doesn’t mean better. Or worse. Just. Different.

I don’t have a link to insert here to take you to the ten steps to getting your home to run without you so that you can travel out of town. I have this, though. It’s a gift, really, being loved so well through my broken places.

Because letting go is one of those places. I struggle with defensiveness and with feeling undeserving. I struggle with expectations and shoulds placed on me by none other than…myself! I struggle to let go and have fun. If this trip were for tragedy rather than pleasure, it would be easy.

I will. Let go. I will trust that I can live in the moment and enjoy my time away with sisters and mom.

That is a gift.

Now I’m off to finish the ironing and prepare freezer meals…(juuuuust kidding!).

Mommy Muscle Monday ~ I Wish

Mommy Muscle Monday

Mommy Muscle Monday

I wish that my outside body was working out as much as my inside one is.
I wish that I could see amazing external results.
I wish that things could be easy and predictable and not so chaotic.
I wish that this were a life-changing series to click on and wow everyone with 8 easy steps.

Truth is…I was in much better physical shape over winter when it WASN’T bathing suit season.
Truth is…my externals mirror what is going on inside. Nothing amazing. Daily struggle.
Truth is…I am sitting in the fallout of another family trip that was disruptive and chaotic. Even good things can be disruptive and chaotic and need recovery time.
Truth is…this is MY life and not a spectator sport, and I will continue to choose to live and engage with it.

That said, enjoy some images from the week…

We are a happy family, we love each other, too. And in our happy family, this is what we do...

We are a happy family, we love each other, too. And in our happy family, this is what we do…

The dynamic duo.

The dynamic duo.

Come on, ride the train...

Come on, ride the train…





Fireworks. Of every kind.

Fireworks. Of every kind.

The rest of July is full of people and travel and summer and celebrations and Bible school and birthdays. In the midst of all of this, I hope to continue to work on those mommy muscles that need strengthening such as planning and organizing and staying on task. Not my favorites!

How are your mommy muscles holding up?

Mommy Muscle Monday ~ Insanity Workout Version

Mommy Muscle Monday

Mommy Muscle Monday

Last week I attempted an intense mommy workout. It was one of those insanity types, where you don’t know if you will make it to the end.

I survived.

If you follow my blog or have any type of memory, I was going to have my kids help me in the kitchen. Remember how that didn’t really work? Well, I had an opportunity to redeem that situation by directing an entire week of culinary arts camp with three of my children in attendance.

Last week, I taught a group of children ranging from ages 9 – 14 (not including my 6 and 8 year old girls who also participated) various cooking skills. We cooked bacon and cut up fruits and veggies and grated cheese and mixed up dough and concocted fruit dip and baked cookies and learned to cooperate with each other in the kitchen.


I faced fears and silenced lies and loved on budding chefs and listened to my children’s voices and cleaned up lots of messes.


I learned that Kirkle is competent and Coco is eager and Roo pays meticulous attention to detail.

I learned that it’s not all about me. I am not responsible for the feelings and reactions and experiences of others, and that I don’t have to constantly defend myself or my plans or decisions.

Here we go!

In the end, each budding chef took home a certificate of achievement and a wooden spoon to remember our time in the kitchen, along with a decorated apron and cooking binder. I took home memories and three of the budding chefs who are now even MORE prepared to help me in the kitchen.

Funny how that works, huh?



Today kicks off the month of July, which is pretty much packed with workout opportunities for this mommy. I am going to be strengthening some roadtrip muscles, organizational muscles, and lots of relational ones, too. I think those are akin to the tiny micromuscles that you feel intensely when you finally figure out where they are.

How are your mommy muscles holding up this summer?

Mommy Muscle Monday – Interlude

Mommy Muscle Monday

Mommy Muscle Monday

Good Morning! Last week’s plan of having little chef’s helpers didn’t exactly come to pass. Monday’s leftover hotdogs didn’t need much assistance, Tuesday’s dinner at Grandma’s was fully prepared and ready to go when we arrived, Wednesday’s date night I fixed spaghetti and garlic toast for the kids, Thursday’s late day at the pool meant meat and cheese crackers, leftover porkchops from Grandma’s, and anything else I could pull from the fridge when we got home. Friday I extracted pizza dough from the freezer to thaw during the day and then made up the usual family night pizza myself.

No, that’s not entirely true. I had a chef’s helper….my 20 year old daughter!

Sometimes things don’t go according to plan!

I have a feeling I will MORE than be making up for it this week, though. You will have to check in next Monday to see what is meant by that vague statement.

I will leave you with a story from Father’s Day Sunday.

I was on worship team, and each of us contributes something to eat backstage, since it is a long morning. We bring a protein, sweet, fruit, juice, etc… I often fix an egg casserole. Father’s Day Sunday seemed a good day for that.

After second service, Coco and Roo were with me backstage straightening up the worship room. I received compliments on my egg casserole from others on team as they were leaving.

One particular man said to Coco in his southern drawl, Your mom is a gooooood coooook. I bet everything she cooks is deeeelicious.

Not really. There are three things that she cooks that are NOT good. Shepherd’s Pie. Chicken Pot Pie. And EGG CASSEROLE.

True story.

8 kids – 3 adults who don’t eat at home any more on a regular basis x 3 things that I fix that are not liked per person = 15 things that I make that are not enjoyed by all. It’s complicated to prepare meals that everyone likes unless they are bought at Costco, dumped from a bag, and heated in the oven.

But I keep trying.

Check back next Monday to see what kind of Mommy Muscle Insanity Workout Blitz took place this week!

Mommy Muscle Monday ~ Training Little Helpers

Mommy Muscle Monday
Mommy Muscle Monday

This week found me focusing on working with children alongside of me. I didn’t have a plan other than to invite a different child to help with whatever I was doing, keeping mental track of who was asked, to give all a chance.

Of course, sometimes this backfired. If I phrased my request as a question, certain ones were fine, thank you, and didn’t need, or want, to help. Then a power struggle may or may not have ensued, and I had to re-evaluate my strategy.

Success in the laundry room was felt, as a little helper would stand by and fold and sort and clean the dryer vent.

The sweetest time was Thursday’s meal planning, though it didn’t feel sweet in the process.

Throughout my homemaking and mothering career, I have had seasons of wonderful menu planning and seasons of soup and bread and seasons of survival eating. Lately, it’s been a bit meh. We eat each night, but nothing spectacular, and it seems to take so much for me to be motivated to plan and grocery shop and cook.

So when I asked Coco what we should have for dinner and she said Stromboli, I went with it. Even more, I invited her and Little Mae to help fix it.

I pulled out the simple dough recipe and ingredients for them to mix up and tried to breathe deeply as flour spilled around during the stirring.

They did it!

They mixed two batches of dough and layered turkey and cheese down the middle (unconventional Stromboli, but we use what we have around here) and baked it, and it was delicious.

Identifying menu planning as a flabby-ish mommy muscle and seeing as how much Coco and Mae enjoyed helping, I am going to work on using Chef’s Helpers this week.

Ok, you moms out there…what works for you when you invite kids into the kitchen?


Mommy Muscle Monday ~ Active Engagement

This week I worked on active engagement. It was easier to do with four extra littles for a few days. That pretty much demands constant engagement.

For me, the hard part wasn’t planning the activity but the sitting and DOING WITH. The engagement.

Melty beads were popular this week. You know, the tiny plastic circles that are put on a tray and then ironed together under waxed paper. We have in our collection a fish, dolphin, octopus, heart, square, and freestyle board.

I got them out, and various children would randomly stop by the dining room table and start creating. That was fine. It was the Can you do this with me? that offered up a challenge. Doing with means sitting by and sitting by means not doing a whole host of other things. Like dishes and laundry and organizing and writing. Do you know how many shades of blue beads are NOT true dolphin blue?

I had a lot of people to do things with. A lot of things to do.

There were babydolls to get out, melty beads to iron, laundry to push through the machine, snacks to prepare, outside play to supervise. Do you know that when you are supervising bubbles and sidewalk chalk and doll stroller pushing outside, you are not getting things accomplished inside?

Active engagement this week looked like a walk to and from the library for books, a trip to the children’s museum with a picnic lunch, playing a game of Life, filling water balloons (the ultimate Genesis 3 toy…you spend hours filling them and tying them off, seconds throwing them around the yard at each other, hours picking up bits of water balloon), reading lots of stories, answering lots of questions, and actively trying not to stress about all that was NOT getting done.

Active engagement helped to head off much conflict at the pass. It kept situations from escalating and allowed small voices to be heard. It made breakfast more appealing, because the eggs were cracked and scrambled by a little helper. It made things messy.

For some of you this is obvious stuff. For me it is hard. Somehow, people see that I have lots of children and think that I can naturally do it all. But I can’t. And I struggle to be around them.

Working on active engagement has helped me to recognize which mommy muscle group to exercise this week…the children coming alongside to help me and learn tasks one. How shall I put it? Training little helpers.

This week I will actively engage my little helpers in picking up after themselves, helping me with the laundry, working with me in the kitchen, etc… If I am to stop to help them with things, I need them to help me, too.

I would much rather fold the laundry myself, as you will read about tomorrow.

What do you plan to work on this week? Do you have any workout tips for me? Comments are open, and I would love to hear from other moms whose mommy muscles are more toned in this area!


Mommy Muscle Monday

Many of my mommy muscles are weak. I realize this the more time I spend with my children. I’m not talking about my core, being stretched out eight times bearing babies. I’m talking about my heart. The one that is supposed to love and feel, not the blood pumping kind.

There are places inside that need exercise and work to firm up and strengthen and build stamina to keep on trying to mother well. It is a daily struggle.

Unlike a body that is out of shape, you can’t see an out of shape heart. You can observe its effects, though. Flabby patience, weak boundaries, exhausted escape techniques, atrophied engagement are a result of mommy muscles lying dormant inside.

This summer, as I observe which of my mommy muscles are weak, I hope to process, practice, and persevere in strengthening them. As with any form of exercise, it will be difficult, exhausting, uncomfortable, and not instantly gratifying. I will want to quit trying.

I plan to chronicle my progress in a Mommy Muscle Monday series.

This week’s muscle group, active engagement. I have several little friends coming to be my trainers.

Check back next Monday to see what I learned.