Obstacle Course for Kids | Fitness 4 Kids

Indoor obstacle course for children

When thinking about ways to keep children healthy and fit, its quite simple really.

Keep them active!!

During the summer time it’s even more crucial to get them out and about. Summertime builds character, builds confidence, and is a great place to build routines and try regimens.

Unfortunately summertime is when kids get sedentary because they are stuck inside watching tv and playing video games for most of summer. They gain weight because they snack more often than eat healthy meals. According to NHANES, the national childhood obesity rate is 18.5% affecting 13.7 million children!! The prevalence being 13.9% of 2-5 year olds, 18.4% among 6-11 year olds, and 20.6% among 12-19 year olds.

As you can see it varies with age and gets higher with age. Kids need to have healthy habits enstilled in them earlier so they grow up thinking it’s the way and nothing else. They need to grow up with the tools and information so they have a fighting chance against childhood obesity. It’s a serious problem in the United States and it’s putting children and adolescents at high risk for poor health. The sad part, is low income and low educated households are the ones that suffer the most. The poor choices they use, as in unhealthy choices, are due to low income. “Healthy food is just too expensive” or “Buying a dollar cheeseburger is cheaper and easier.”

Truth is though if you buy a happy meal every day for a week, besides your belly hurting, your wallet hurts in the end as well. You’re better off buying a $5.78 1.4lb package of beef stew meat at Target mixed with potatoes, squash, carrots, broccoli, and your own blended mix of sauces and can feed all of your family up to 5 (like ours) for supper + lunch and dinner the next day. Meanwhile giving your family nutritious caloric intake. Dollar for dollar buying your own food and making it at home will always be the cheaper route than buying cheap, unhealthy greasy fast food any day. So then why, why is this the problem?

I can go on and on about unhealthy choices made for the younger generation. My early years as a personal trainer I wanted to specialize in children’s fitness and health. I used to help hold little boot camps at schools for elementary school aged children. Our mindset is anything added to their routine was better than not doing anything at all.

Which is why I want to share with you a great indoor obstacle course you can set up for your children to keep them active. This took me less than 2 mins to set up and they played on it for an hour. Now this course isn’t limited to inside but it’s a great way to keep the littles active for a long time without dying of heat. Now, you don’t need to have all this equipment to be able to set up an obstacle course for kids. When I look at Pinterest I find all kind of courses made out of cups and pool noodles. All you have to do is have the mindset and drive to want to help your LOs and you can come up with all kind of fun ways for your kids to stay active.

Now that all the kiddos are back in school they are ready for their little bodies to get to moving once they get home. I wanted to create an environment just for that. I hope these help you get inspired to find ways to keep your kids active. If you’re like me though and don’t want to do all the searching then here’s some ideas.

Fitness obstacle course for children:

I set this one up with 7 stations. Now when setting up a course for kids you can set one thing up, have them do an exercise then set up another. Repeat. It doesn’t have to be this extravagant.

We just bought the water limbo sprayer and I though before we took it outside it would be a great way to start the course! The kids love it inside more than they do outside with the sprayer. It’s a hit.

The equipment:

Foam Mats

Stepping stones

Cheese Mat

Mini Trampoline

Mats

Sit n Spin

The course:

I had them limbo, then roll down the cheese mat with a forward roll, head to the grey mat and do another forward roll.

Walk on the stepping blocks with alternating feet for Ayden who’s 6 and any way Aliyna, who’s 3 wanted to walk through it she could.

Then I had them go to the kiddie mats I got at Walmart on sale. They are the mats that are made to sleep on in preschool. But I love them because they have extra cushion. I had them crab crawl on the outside of the mat for Big A and Aliyna just crab walk down and this was a little bit of a challenge for her. I was shocked because when I was learning to do my handstands we started with crab walk for 5 mins a day. I think the challenge for her was to get her little arms and feet spread far enough apart.

then I had them jump for 30 seconds and immediately go spin themselves around for 30 seconds. This little course was a hit and now everyday after school they are racing into the gym to let loose.

I hope you and your LOs are staying fit, making healthy choices, and have fun doing both. 🏃🏼‍♂️🏃🏼‍♀️

~~whisper~~ “if you build it, they will come to play.”

A Weekend Getaway | Road Trip Across West Texas

Go Across West Texas + Big Bend  in One Weekend

Are you trying to squeeze in a quick vacation before school starts like we did? I really wanted to take our kids somewhere before school started this year. After all, this is Ayden’s first year at school full time! I’m starting to have those anxious thoughts that moms have about school starting and school is still a week away!

I hate the idea of not having the freedom to just go when ever I want, or wherever I want. Until now, I could just take the kiddos on any lil day trip or weekend getaway starting on a Wed or Thursday and go. Now, this option for us is out of the question starting next week. It’s lame, makes me angry and all kinds of different emotions and thoughts that I can’t explain.

This alone made it very important for me to get us away on a lil mini vacation that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg, and I wanted adventure so the kids could remember.

Josh and I discussed that this would be the first vacation that our 6 year old would probably remember for the rest of his life. We can recall as far back as 5, some little moments, but definitely anything big that happened from 6 and up we remember. With that thought in my head I really wanted to go to Disney, but due to the short time with Ayden this summer we just couldn’t swing that trip. Somewhere tropical? Well, we weren’t mentally, financially, or emotionally prepared for a trip like that with the kids. Besides, you can’t go somewhere like that with three kids for a weekend and expect to enjoy it when most of the trip you’re flying there and back.

I wanted our trip to count, be meaningful, connect us, and to add adventure and dreams to our lives before we all go through this new chapter of our lives. My hubster asked me one night, how bout we just take an RV somewhere? I was ecstatic! I was all in and put together this fun and adventurous road trip for us. We left on Wed night and came back on Saturday night. If you’re trying to get a way for a weekend that’s quick, easy and cheep– this is the trip for you!!!

If you’re interested in what we used to help make the trip easier see this guide of Five things to take for kids on road trips.

The RV

We rented a RV from our favorite place, American Dream Vacations. We’ve rented a RV 5 times now from them and each time the RV’s get better and better. We’ve considered investing in one and keeping it there with them because their service and upkeep has been great for us. If there was ever a problem they were fast to make it right or credit us if they couldn’t solve the problem. They have 24/7 helpline and are always willing to help us out when we need them.

Alpine, Texas FREE

We chose Alpine for our first stop on our way to Big Bend. This stop was 7 hours from Austin, Tx and was a great stopping point for sleep. It was a great way to kick off our adventurous outdoorsy trip. We took I-10 the whole way.

We stayed at Lost Alaskan RV Park and I’m not even going to lie, to wake up with the mountains around us, was so refreshing! This was seriously one of the best RV parks I have ever seen. They had tent set ups, tiny homes to rent, and spots for your own + all the accommodations for RV travelers. The kids swam first thing in the AM and played on the playscape and I could’t get over the views. Let alone everyone there we met had traveled our trip countless times, shared great trips, and had awesome stickers, and memorabilia that kept our interest peaked.

Hike Hancock Hill

Our first adventure in Alpine was to hike Hancock Hill at Sul Ross University. We pulled into gate 4 and parked  right in front of the museum but to get right next to the trail, you can park at the uppermost parking lot by Mountainside Dormitory. Three students carried “The Desk” in 1981, with a notebook left inside so all who comes can sign it, and leave a little part of themselves behind. The desk is the endpoint after a 20 minute hike. Once you pull in head towards the …building and the path is right there. It looks like ummm, should we do it, there’s no signs, or navigation guides so you have to take a chance but it is the only path there. Once on the path it does split so it’s easy to get confused but all the info I read said go directly up the hill to the big pile of rocks. Along the way we did see a message letting us know we were going the right way.

Well, sadly we never found the desk. I started to see little hints along the way, like some rocks being painted with white spots along the path, but they got farther and few in between. Once we were at top the path had many splits. So we never made it to the desk although online it says, once you get up the hill the desk is easily to find. We got to the top after a 20 minute hike with the kids, looked around, walked for five minutes down one path, and saw multiple paths and had no idea which way to go from there. So, unfortunately that was a bummer, but we didn’t let it affect any of us. The two big kids made it all the way to the top on their own, even after our 3 year old kept telling herself that her legs were too tired. Then would take a drink of water and say to herself, “You got this! You can do it!.” We were so proud of them. They were so excited to be on top that they were screaming.

There was an awesome pile of rocks on the top that they got to climb on and see the whole town from up there. All of alpine and it’s small quirky character was visible. I will admit if you are taking kids with you it’s doable, but the weather at this time of the year might be a little much for the kids. We got super lucky, or as I called it the whole time, a blessing from God, because there was a rain storm happening literally right next to us, but never got to us. Josh was a little concerned because it was lightening but literally the storm stayed in the town like it was stuck in between all the mountains. The breeze made the climb so bearable, and easy to deal with. It even sprinkled a few times and it was so nice!! The views here were quite beautiful, the scenery was amazing and I’ve never been high enough on foot to see a whole small town right in front of my eyes.

Parenting Tip: Frozen water

If you’re going on any hikes with littles, freeze bottles of water and grab a few to take with you. The kids are in love with the frozen waters, and it takes about 20 – 30 minutes to start thawing out. Right when you’re ready for replenishment the cold water is ready.

Musuem of Big Bend

The museum was easy to go to next, as it is at the University. So, this spot is definitely a twofer. I think this slot was great for the kids becuase not only did they see the history of the area we were going to visit but they saw a preview of where we were headed. So it made them Uber excited to get to big bend.

The museum had some really cool interactive models for the kids with lots of buttons to push. It was a highlight. Plus the interactive videos along the way made the tour a little more interesting.

Marfa, Texas- FREE

Marfa was a 35 minute drive from alpine so it’s a great next stop during the day while traveling with kiddos. We went specifically to see the Marfa Lights. It’s something to see because it’s a very mysterious and unexplained activity. Unfortunately, like the desk, we didn’t see the lights. It was cloudy and rainy so we were told that most likely we wouldn’t see them. However we tried anyways and it was a fun adventure for the kids and us because we pulled out our night goggles and explored. And what kids don’t like being night explorers? They all said they saw lights, and other people around us said they saw them but I have no idea what they saw because Josh and I never saw anything.

Prada Store. Another great photo op in Maria is the cute little Prada store.

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The Capri

If you do go to quirky Marfa, then you need to stop at The Capri! It has an eclectic relaxing and quaint vibe going on. With the hammocks, and fire pits buried in a garden it was a lucky find for sure. Marfa’s restaurants close at 5:00 pm so you have to be careful not to miss out on the good food. We got lucky because this place didn’t open up until 5:30. However if you have picky eaters this is not the stop for you. The only option they had for the kids was Duck Liver. Luckily, it was sweet and the kids mopped it up, along with their Mexican Street Corn. Of course we had to end the meal with some yummy ice cream.

Marathon, Texas- FREE

On the way to big bend leaving Marfa we drove through a town called Marathon and got to stop at the little Target store. This was my favorite because I am obsessed with target lol. So to find a store that I could take with me in my pocket, I was in love!!! Plus the views!!

It had a cool post to leave your logos, your message, or your stamp behind!!

McDonald’s Observatory

We didn’t make it to this destination, although we really wanted to but after the hike and the museum we would have only had about 30 – 45 minutes to be there. So we opted for a nice restaurant instead.

If you schedule enough time then this is a must stop!! Joshua was a little bummed because we weren’t going but even he knew it requires the appropriate amount of time. But just look—>  HOW COOL IT IS

Big Bend National Park $33

After a full morning of driving we made it! The kids were excited. We watched the mountains go by and get bigger and bigger. Our favorite game we played was I spy and the littles loved when we got the chance to spy a Sand Tornado. We drove by several and the kids had the same reaction every time.

The entrance fee is $33, but it was for a whole week pass so that’s not that bad at all.  I recommend to grab all the literature from the park guide when you pay, because it was completely different literature than what we found at travel guide places, RV Park, or the Museum. I had originally planned for us to hike two trails, The Lost Mine Trail, and the Chisos Basin Trail. The Lost Mine Trail is a 4.6 mile hike, and the Chisos Basin Trail is a 2.5 mile hike. Just remember while you are out there you are the only one who knows you’re limits and you have to always remain flexible. When we arrived the map that we received had two colored paths on it and one was red saying no big trucks or RVs could pass on those roads, well both our trails where Red Trails.  Which both hikes we planned where on those. So we did the safe kid friendly touristy route without hikes and there was still plently to keep our day full + without wearing out the kiddos, It was actually a relief becuase our youngest started getting a heat rash, so being able to go right back to the RV every 20 minute after a small  adventures was perfect for her. I mean honestly, if you have kids, the RV at Big Bend was a nice retreat to have.

Discovery Fossil Exhibit

First Stop–Dinosaur Bones!! When we had to quickly change our POA I was super nervous, but the fear quickly went away once I saw this attraction on the map. It’s easy to miss when driving by so keep your eyes open for the one sign that points to it. It also says no RV turnaround but we went down there and parked with plenty of room. However yes, if the Park is full of tourist then no, we couldn’t have fit, but considering it is the the 8th least visited national park, I doubt you will have anything to worry about. We spent about 3 hours there and we only saw maybe 4 other cars pull up.

To think we almost parked our RV on the side of the main road and walked down a mile. WHEW, so glad my husband is a risk taker.

Overlook Hill (View)

At the exhibit up just right of the Discovery Exhibit there is an awesome Overlook Hill with a stunning view of big bend! We got so lucky to come across this view. The climb up is made for visitors with stairs and a smooth sidewalk leading up to it making it very kid friendly, but keep your kids near because there are no rails. The winds up here were strong and felt amazing. It was very refreshing!! We all felt close to God, imagined that’s what it would be like to be birds  and just took in the scenery.

The Exhibit

This was another unexpected treat considering we only planned our trip 15 mins before. Again the views!!! I mean views for mom, fossils for Dads and Kids, it’s perfect!! The fossils were really cool too, it was filled with things I’ve  never seen before. It had three huge rooms of fossils that were found there at big bend with signs of information and facts of everything. We saw the huge (bird fossil) that was highly spoken about at the museum, and the kids got to play with the Dino heads and were amazed at their teeth. I personally loved the last room as I saw countless fossils of water creatures were the coolest. Give me a sec while my inner geek …

Moms, another cool spot for kiddos!!!  Joshua and I both made constant comments on how we were shocked how great the breeze felt. The breeze and our frozen water was perfect combo. This exhibit had several photo ops but by this point kiddos weren’t having nothing with me, it was all about the Dino’s.

DID YOU KNOW:

That horses came from this little guy. 😮😮

Adventure Hike

Ayden wanted to go exxxplooooore, “the unknown lands” as he calls it. We let him choose a place that he wanted to see, and  found a cool little grotto/cave to play around in that was right next to the exhibit. I wasn’t too nervous about snakes or anything like that, but mind you, the ants here where the biggest ants I’ve ever seen. Then there was the pesky horse flies but other than that we didn’t have too many critters that were bothersome.

The big kids enjoyed the 5 minute hike to the cave and loved climbing through it and on top of it, with yet another beautiful view of Big Bend.

After the kids were done playing around in the cave we walked back and the kids stopped to play in the dirt. They made piles and kept putting little flags in it, so it inspired me to leave our mark behind with rocks. Aliyna and Addie both jumped up screaming “like Moana!” Since they were excited about it we went ahead and did it and the look of sincerity in Aliynas eyes is too much sometimes. Guys you don’t always have to do big things to impact our kids, something so small as stacking rocks and leaving our mark somewhere can define them, and allow their hearts to become full of wander, and adventure. She now knows she’s a voyager that traveled across Texas.

Panther Junction Visitor Center

This is a must if you have kids. I had done research before and this visitor center is one of the 2 in the whole park that has amazing interactive exhibits that provide an overview of geology and natural and cultural histories of the park. It was a  great center for the kids to retreat to for another adventure with AC, and it has water fountains, and restrooms, making it a great stopping point + have fun with all the interactive guides. The visitor center also has a theater, with a park orientation movie shown every 30 minutes, 9:30AM to 4:00 PM.

The visitor center complex includes a Big Bend Natural History Association bookstore, U.S. Post Office, and restrooms. The Panther Path, a self-guided nature trail, begins adjacent to the porch of the visitor center.

The second Visitor Center is Chisos Basin but we didn’t go to that one since that was the one close to the red trail. But it is said that this is the second best visitor center to go to if you have children.

Honestly, if you are doing what we did and don’t want to do big hikes that they have mapped out, just drive around Big Bend and you will see plenty of little mountains that you can climb and get shots with stunning views. Not to mention along the way there’s little drive off spots on the side of the road for pics. My favorite is the one by The Panther Junction Service Station, 200 yards west of the visitor center, its open every day.  It had rocks that we could stand on and take cool family pictures.

This store closes at 6 but the pumps do stay on. If you are traveling with a card then you have nothing to worry about. We were terrified we weren’t going to get gas and were concerned if we could even make it out of the park. So don’t pass up the gas station while you’re there at the park after all it is 800000 acres. If hiking isn’t your thing, then tour the visitor centers there each one showcases different things, but keep in mind each one is atleast 30-45 mins apart.

If you haven’t traveled to Big Bend, try it, it’s beautiful and very doable with kids. I can’t believe it’s one of the least visited spots, it’s beauty alone took my breathe away. I can only imagine if we did complete some of the hikes and got to actually be in the heart of the park. The hikes I read about were beautiful, easy, an hour long, and you would see plyographs along the way. So maybe another time when we have a car we will actually complete these hikes.

We ended our night with eating supper under the stars and sat there viewing the meteor shower with nothing to get in our way. Except the moon, it was a full moon so it cast a ton of luminous light but it didn’t stop us from seeing ten or so long tailed shooting stars. I can only imagine the stars on a night the moon isn’t lighting up the sky. Plus, we saw a weird desert  kvmtm/j jY  ju o98ob9phenomenon that looked like a spaceship casting down a light from above down on to the ground. It gave us the biggest goosies, and I’m not even going to lie, I was afraid to look up and see something that I didn’t want to!! It was nothing though, we looked it up, and turns out the moon reflects light through the desert that creates these eerie lights. We may not have seen the Marfa Lights but we did see the Big Bend Mystery Lights.

Waco, Texas

Josh really wanted to go to Waco first because he couldn’t wait to have some water fun. The slides are worth the drive, giving Waco another attraction than just magnolia silos. With Waco just an hour and half away go for it!! I’m dying to go back so I can do a wall art hunt there!!

BSR Cable Park

BSR Cable Park was an adventure for sure!!! This was our first “water park” adventure with the kids. It has four 50 foot water slides at various levels and a about a 25 foot slide for the kids. A cable Park with ramps and rails for the advanced wake borders, a wave pool for surfers, and a lazy river. The two oldest kiddos loved the water slides. They were a little nervous but overcame their fears and did the slide twice!! They were so brave!!! The lazy river was small and simple for us so it was good for the first time for our family but get there early because people show up fast around noon on the weekends.

This trip can easily be done in three days if you’re just doing BigBend trip. Any of these can be split up into separate weekends. However I think if you do it like we did and just hit up the main attractions along the way, it keeps the trip moving along and helps keep up the morale. I hope you have enjoyed going along with us on our trip, and if you have any questions please feel free to email me.

On the Night Before Kindergarten

As a mom going through this the first time I have one thing to say…WOW!

I can’t believe this day is here. It’s crazy how all the thoughts, emotions, fears, and concerns run crazy in your head but somehow mix with pride, awe, love, and courage that makes this magical mixture of moments.

I’ve realized my son is watching me like a hawk. If I even show the slightest bit of sadness it makes him turn inward and become an introvert. I want him to be excited for this day and to feel encouraged to be himself. I’ve been reading articles left and right from Dr. Laura Markham and they’ve been such great reads with amazing tips for the week before school, and how to prepare your child for kindergarten/ school.

✔️ I’ve been giving all the verbal cues, talking about schedules,

made up a rhyme for us to use everyday when we say goodbye.

✔️ We’ve met the teacher and took a picture with her so we could print it out and he could have it at home so she becomes another friend in our family.

✔️ I’ve been asking him ways he’s going to solve problems when I’m not there.

I’ve done all the things I thought would be necessary to help him with this soft push out into this new journey.

Nothing prepared me for the night before kindergarten though? Nothing prepared me for the uncontrollable crying outburst fighting inside me, meanwhile I’m sitting here filling my kid with motivation. I’ve literally had to tell myself over and over again, think about him, think about him. Now no, I’m not afraid to cry in front of him, he’s seen me cry plenty. I just know if I cry, it will change his view of school. I want him to be nothing but confident, brave, and excited. I know he’s nervous, of course, but I don’t want to feed that wolf inside him.

So I only wanted to talk about ways to build his brain up for tomorrow. So I planned these 5 easy small things to do with Ayden to help him get ready for school tomorrow.

1. Family Appreciation Time. I wanted today to be about reminding him who he is, and what our family values are. I kind of piggybacked a little off of the conversation we had last Friday during our “Tentative Family Meetings.” Click in link if you want to know more about ours, but it’s a great idea not only to talk about family to dos, POAs for any upcoming events, but to focus on our family values and discuss who we are as a family. So tonight during supper I brought them up, and had everyone go around the table and speak appreciation about another. To explain how they appreciate them for… and to state one thing they liked that they did with them during the summer.

2. Read Books

I found these books at target and had the kindergarten fairy drop them off during supper so when he went upstairs to get ready for bed, they were there. Ready to get read and to prepare his little mind for his big day tomorrow. These books were so helpful to put an image of what his future holds. He asked so many questions throughout the book. He talked about how he didn’t want me to cry cause that would make him sad. I’m so glad we discussed that because I was planning on crying in front of him. Now, I know that is not the best way to go about it. He needs that constant encouragement. If I show sadness that big ole heart of his empathizes with me and will get down and hug me, and cry with me. So…NOPE. Don’t want to make that mistake. Here I was thinking it would be sweet and motherly, I couldn’t wait to express the amount of pride through glistening tears rolling down my cheeks.

3. Discussed His New Schedule. They say when practice meets preparedness success happens. I’ve discussed with him many of times how our morning schedule will be, we’ve practicing it all week. Yet, I haven’t once told him about how his day at school will look like. At our Knights United night where we meet the his Teacher I received a daily schedule and I just thought hey, I should tell him this. Ayden is a very detailed-oriented boy. He wants to know everything about everything that he can get out of ya. Typical boy. Little engineering minds, always analyzing the hows and whys. At our wedding he wouldn’t go and meet Mickey and Minnie Mouse characters that we surprised them with until he figured out exactly what they were. He came up to me about five mins after they arrived, and asked, “Mom, those are people right? I remember thinking, what? Spoiler alert! He stated, well mom, I know they are, because I saw Minnie Mouse’s wrist between her glove and suit!” He’s an analyzer for sure and needs to know in order to feel safe, confident, and ready. Just like every kid needs and should feel. I want that for him. Especially when I see what confidence did to him at the the meet and greet.

Ayden has this suit with a vest and a tie. We got it for him on Easter and he didn’t get to wear it because he ended up going to his dads this year. He asked for the loooooongest time to wear it places that it would be like completely unnecessary to wear it to. He finally got to wear it for the Parent/ Child dedication ceremony, a month later but that has been it.

Well I’m cheesy, and I set up a whole photo sesh with him to commemorate this moment. It’s kind of my thing I do with them that’s fun and Ayden usually enjoys it quite well. I asked him to pick out his outfit he wanted to wear and he immediately no holds bar “I want my suit!” I smiled and was stoked because that’s what I was hoping for!! The pics came out great!! I am obsessed with them, he’s so stinking adorable. I don’t know you tell me what do you think?

The best part though is to see him being cocky, confident, poised and literally pushing himself up in a way that I’ve seen a handful of times. I was screaming out loud, I was so happy to be apart of it and to be able to capture it was awesome as well. All that the he exhibits Ted and showed me for the pics, he carried that with him to meet his teacher. Principles and directors were commenting on his outfit, and he was shaking hands, introducing himself, ran up to his teacher practically, and when I asked them to take a picture he instantly sits with her on her lap 😍 my heart is so relieved and in love with him. This is everything I could have hoped for in this moment of time. He even asked to go back because he had to say goodbye to his teacher and give her another hug! This guy was too cute. I saw how he when he feels confident he’s a whole different kid. I’m telling ya, I’m going to do my darnest to always make sure he feels that way. So all he has to focus on is the dreaming. Fear blocks so much growth, I don’t want that for him. That’s why when I saw that schedule I thought it would be best to share it with him. I want my big man to float tomorrow. I cant wait to hear all about what his day was like.

4. Summer Flashback – We counted brave moments where he may have shown fear, nervousness, or disbelief in himself. We pepped talked, changed his thinking, then boom he told himself he could, which led him to success. We did a lot of big things this summer, that challenged him to overcome a lot of fear and doubts. It was awesome to go over them all and then when he started recalling some on his own I couldn’t be any prouder, I could see him breaking out of his shell before my eyes. To see yourself overcoming obstacles despite your fears is a huge stepping stone for kids, heck for everyone. Mindset is everything. Especially for Ayden, he tends to focus on the “I cants” and retreat to sulking, I don’t know why, when all we ever tell him for literally four years now, “To never say I can’t”. We focus on changing that language to “Its hard, I just need a little help, or it’s too difficult right now, but if I keep trying I will succeed.” I mean it’s a daily task to keep this kid believing in himself. So to see himself think about ways he has overcome doubt tonight gave me the goosies!

5. Pray

For him, for his new friends and their families, and for all the teachers. It’s been awesome to see him pray for others above himself. It’s one thing to pray for family members, but now he’s praying for other people he doesn’t even know.

I’ve come across these Prayers to Pray with your child during the first two weeks of school from faith gateway’s newsletters.

I think these five easy things helped prepare him, and get his mindset where it needs to be as he embarks on this new journey. He mentioned being s little nervous vs all last week being he didn’t want to go because he was really nervous. He went to bed excited and with a smile, so I really do feel like these things helped so I wanted to share them. I hope everyone’s first weeks at school goes smooth, with safe travels, and many good stories.

Big Life Journal | Kids Mental Growth

I’m always looking for new ways to grow LO’s brains. Their mental capacity as well as how their brain tells them to respond to situations. I came acrross BLJ, Big Life Journal, a guided journal that is the world’s first growth mindset book created specifically for children.

It is full of growth mindset activities that help children to recognize their ability to respond in a proactive manner. In a hard, tough, and stressful situations. Science says 92 percent of people don’t achieve their goals. Perhaps, its because most of them have never learned how to effectively set their goals. I personally dislike it when my children say “I can’t”. That is not a statement allowed in our house. Long before I came across BLJ, however I do like how they gave me plenty of examples of the type of phrases I can use with my child instead of I can’t. Before I would say, I’m sorry I didn’t understand you when you say those words, because I believe you can do it. Plus, I know if you try harder, you might find out that you can. SO, do you want to try again?’ It was good, because they would laugh, but now with BLJ’s phases I’ve used:

“When it’s hard, it’s because you’re brain is learning something new.”

“You’ve just got a new wrinkle in the brain, that’s why it feels hard.”

“Don’t say I can’t, just say, I can do it, with a little help from a parent or an adult.”

Just to give a few examples.

BLJ seriously has so many resources that I need and want to use with my children, that I can go on and on about how each one of their blog aligns with what I say here. But if you’re a parent, check this site out. I promise, you won’t regret it. I purchased a few items but I started out with the package Growth Mindset Printables Kit. These printable challenges provide fun activities which help children develop growth mindset, cultivate an attitude of gratitude, and improve their self-esteem. you can also help your child learn the skill of goal-setting, which is critical for developing grit than just simply getting what you want out of life. This kit includes:

5-Day 􏰘 growth 􏰊mindset challenge

7-Day􏰘 gratitude challenge

7-Day 􏰛positi􏰜vity challenge.

27 pages of printable worksheets, puzzles, and writing activities.

The first activity that we had to do was to learn about how our Brain Grows to begin with. SO, we started out with I Can Grow My Brain worksheet. It was fun because of the size. The kids were amazed at how we made it, and then to put it together and see the size of it made all their eyes huge!! They were excited to hold such a huge brain. I loved how they had the fill in the blank spots because to hear their answers not only made me laugh, but to see that they understand and recognize the points that we are discussing.

 

I’ve loved it alone for the activities, the quotes, the explanations, phases, examples, challenges, goal setting action plans, and the stress regulator. Every page in the package is something that I will use, and need to be reminded of. I’m so glad I stumbled across the resource. Joining with them has been great for the family, especially since my middle child has issues regulating her emotions. The facebook group and weekly challenges given by the leaders are also great ways to stay engaged and challenge yourself as the parent.

It is impossible to focus on your child’s growth mindset without growing your own. I loved going through these because it not only helps them with their obstacles and challenges, but it helps me model that behavior for them.

Besides the journal they also have other resources for your child:

Growth Mindset Printables Kit is a collection of engaging worksheets, posters, and coloring pages for children. It also includes printables guides for parents and teachers. Recommended age range is 5-11. Some posters can be used with younger and older kids.

Growth Mindset Activity Kit is a collection of fun activities and games which promote growth mindset and help develop important life skills. You can start using them with kids ages 4 and above. 

Challenges Kit is a collection of our most popular 7-day or 5-day challenges for children which promote self-love, growth mindset, gratitude, and positivity.  Recommended age range is 5-12.

Famous Failures Kit is a printable set of worksheets highlighting famous people from around the world who have failed and struggled on their way to success. Recommended age range is 5-14.

Inspirational Quotes Kit is beautifully illustrated collection of inspirational quotes for kids, parents, and teachers.

Each Friday they have new and improved LESSON PLANS to teach growth mindset 💡 that provide key life skills — persistence, self-confidence, learning from mistakes, & more!

Check out Big Life Journal to get your big brain pdf and find a world of opportunities to help your child’s growth mindset and mental stability. If you use any of them and like them or need further information contact me. I’d love to chat with you.

Ashly Williams, ATEAM MOM

 

 

 

5 Ways To Enjoy Summer For Free | Pflugerville Tx

5 Ways to do summer for Free!

Summer is a time of wander. Yes, I said wander not wonder. I think it’s a time to wander outdoors and find mysterious areas. Gain confidence, bravery and enhance our imaginations. OLD or Young, Summer is a time to knock something off your “Bucket List”. It’s a time to shut off the noise, go outside, look at the stars at night, and jump off into anything new,  Outdoors I mean really summer days are meant for the outdoor life, lets not forget to mention how useful outdoors are for children’s mental growth.I like to keep the kids active so finding the right resources that keep me current are important. As always FB is a great place to look for events, but don’t forget to look at local libraries, hospitals, and churches. 

1. Go to your local lake. Find WATER! There are so many options for people who don’t live near a beach. Lake Pflugerville is our go to but there are so many places in Austin to find water. Brushy Creek, Zilker, Barton Springs, Lady Bird Lake, Resevoirs, and creeks. However some of these do charge.

2. Splash Pads.-  Are our kids favorite right now just because of their age, but obviously anything with water makes summer days fun. We love these no only because of the fun, but we make it into some sort of fitness challenge. There are so many splash pads that are free in our local neighborhoods that I never knew were around us until I did a search and found 5 just within .5 miles from us. There are more than you think and they’re FREE!!!!

3. Church Events – They always have free and fun ways to keep your children connected to a community that will build them up, and share same beliefs, and show your children how much they are loved. Meanwhile, the kids are having a blast. Backyard Bible Clubs are the best and each church has at least 10+ BYBC going on. We have one that gets hosted every summer right at our community pool area. Last year we did it and I felt recharged, ampted, and excited with the kiddos. To this day we still sing 🎶 grandpa shark doooo doooo doo doo dooo 🎶 lol. The End of the year church events are the best, from socials, meet-ups, to Summerfest. HCBC Summerfest was a blast!!!! There were rockwalls, games, bouncy houses, bubble pools, water catapults, and endless inflatables. I mean honestly it was too much for us to do it all. Besides we enjoyed the bubbles way too much.

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4. Have a picnic. It costs what ever you bring along with you. But this something that you can do anywhere, anyplace, anytime. Something that is easy and gets you all out of the house together.

5. Newspaper Events- If you’re trying to beat the heat, there are many options for you, Local Libraries are always holding awesome craft events, learning events, and have some sort of petting zoos, or fun events for the kids. Coffee Houses, Art museums, Art Crafts,  police departments, and radio stations have many events indoors that provide mental growth. Having local newspapers really are the best resources to help find events. I religiously look at IMPACT a local newspaper, which for me is the Impact for Pflugerville| Austin. that we recieve in the mail, and it always has fun things to do that I don’t find anywhere else!! An added bonus is staying current with your radio stations as well, I follow and subscribed to Spirit 105.9 and they list events that grow you and your family spiritually, from music, seminars, events, and trips.

Library and Hospitals- Libraries host so many informational, educational, and exciting events during the summer. Our local library has had petting zoos, comic cons, camps, book clubs, science camps, stem camps, princess days, reading days, craft days, robotic days, and I can literally go on forever.

Stay current, prepared, and you will create an amazing summer for you and your family without paying a dime. As you are reading this with hopefully sunkissed skin, my hope for you is to enjoy these long  summer days, because soon we will be back in hyper speed. I hope you crank up your speakers as loud as they can go to Luke Bryan’s new song Sunrise, Sunburns, Sunsets…and Repeat dance around and let it become your summer motto. I hope the sun rays, waves and summer winds take you to a place of wonder, adventure, and magic times in your life. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, remember to relax, enjoy the moment, and just take advantage of these long free days that will leave you with a faint dream.

Kiwi Co | Kids Mental Growth

We are a fan of anything to do with STEAM. We’ve loved it since it was STEM! Heck, I’ve loved science very early on. I remember asking for a microscope for my 8th birthday and I got it!! My brothers made so much fun of me because they didn’t understand why I would ask our parents to buy me that kind of stuff. They called it a waste. I on the other hand, was in love. I grew up saying I was going to be a Crime Scene Investigator. My first two years of college was a blend of basics and criminoloy. I loved it!

The only thing that changed my perspective on it, was time. I literally gave up because of time. I was too impatient, I started questioning if that is what I really wanted to do, because well I would be going to school for another 8 +years. Nevermind the fact that I paid for my own college so that was another little factor in the equation.

So of course, I jump at any idea that allows me to be able to add the coolness, funness, and amazingness of science into our homes. The fact that my husband is an Engineer with a minor in astronomy, may be a slight bonus. He loves it as much as I do, which only adds obsession to our addiction. It allows us to be passionate about encouraging and influencing our kids. We are a family who watches How It’s Made, Outrageous Acts of Science, Planet Earth, and The Weirdest Animals just caught my attention because of the amazing mutations and survival tactics that some creatures have that I had no idea about has B L O W N our minds. The kids get excited about the things we learn from the show just as much as I do. The Science Channel and History Channels are seriously our jam. We never feel guilty giving kids screen time when they are watching those channels.

Besides the fact that science is a clear visual aid of cause and effect reaction that helps our children minds grow.  I think it was said best by Sagan; “Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.”It’s a great tool to use as a way to explain so many things in life- from the obvious things such as health, physics, logic, all the way to making choices,  faith, Jesus’s love, etc. There’s a never ending supply of projects and activities, to choose from that adds value to our children’s mental growth.

For my children I’ve always used ABCJesusLovesMe, as my curriculum for the kids. It has been a great supply of blended Science Activities to do for fun and to be as an aid to explain God’s Promise, Jesus’s Love, and the Holy Spirits power. I’ve been so grateful to come across that website 4 years ago. However, as I have become the teacher for three kids, who print out my own curriculum and activities, I have felt at times a little overwhelmed. I’ve searched for other activities and have come across many blogs and resources I have mentioned before, but I think the new Kiwi Co has caught our attention because of the STEAM aspect. It has a ton of engineering projects that we haven’t really done with the kids before. I mean yes, we’ve done engineering activities with them, like the Easter egg catapult but it was made of spoons and rubber bands. We’ve made a ton of cool things out of paper towel rolls, old crayons, styrofoam, and really anything we can use. You definitely get creative when three kiddos brains are on the line. But the quality of what we get in the boxes beats a paper towel roll any day. That’s why when I signed up for the monthly program I was beyond excited. It convenient and adds to our curriculum.

What Comes in a KiWi BOX

                                

Each box has at least three activities worth of supplies, a book that they can read and learn from, and another book with other ideas, inspiration, and instructions for other cool projects. One box literally will keep us busy all month. Not to mention staying connected with KIWI through social media and newsletters gives us access to DIY projects that you get sent along with the box to add further knowledge on what ever that month is teaching the kids.

Having a six year old boy who is starting his first year in school takes that much more precedence because it’s important to us to keep his brain growing, it’s a priority to us just as much as his spiritual growth. He is all boy and loves science as much as we do. This year for his birthday he picked a Dino Theme Party and last year he chose an Astronaut Themed Birthday Party. We enjoy setting up really cool, and challenging activities and games at his birthday parties and usually during his birthday month I create activities around those themes. His imagination play is one of my favorites because he chooses to dress up as an astronaut 75% of the time and loves to go all out with it. We’ve flown to the moon, discovered rocks, and have ran experiments. Of course it’s all ateam affair so it’s always fun to fly to the moon with these amazing astronauts.

It’s so much fun raising a boy because we have a mandatory reason to always dabble, experiment, and get dirty! I mean how can you not love making volcanoes, slime, rockets, and things that make you go oooo and ahhhhhh. I want him to always stay intrigued by STEAM that it forces his little brain to innovate, explore, create, and problem solve. That’s just what KIWI co does. After all they say, science today, is technology of tomorrow. I can only imagine what kind of cool things my kids will be making in 9-10 years when they are in high school.

For now, I will settle with these innovative and fun projects that we receive each month. Each kid gets their own box so they feel special doing something of their own, at their own level. Normally we are all doing the same thing with it being modified to his or her own level. But now this adds even more excitement to these boxes because they all have their own “special” box.

This is our first month with it and we are already hooked. All the smiles, jumps, and “mom, look!!!!!”s that I have received has been beyond worth it. It’s always so much fun seeing our kids grow and learn but to see their faces light up is a great way to give yourself a thumbs up mom. The best part, is it’s one more thing we can do together. Although each kid has their own box, we focus on one at a time and allow each kid to help in some way with their other siblings box. Just so the greed, and “mines!” don’t come in full swing.

Just to show you how cool it is below I have split the three kids ‘crates’ separately so you can see what we received. I will include y’all in our Kiwi Co journey and hope you join in on the fun. If you have any questions or concerns feel free to email me or comment below.

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If you are interested in signing up click here and use MY CODE hereand receive $10 for your first purchase. That’s getting your first month 50% off!!!!!!

Kiwi Crate – Arcade

Koala Crate – Rainbows

Tadpole Crate – Hide and Seek Animals

Click Here To JOIN KIWI CO

 

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5 Ways to Lead Children – Healthy Kids

5 Ways to Lead a Child

Parenting is so much fun. It has its funny moments, silly times, and moments that our children take you by surprise. There are even moments when your child acts out in a way that makes you so proud to be their parents. You don’t know where they got it from or where they saw it. What you don’t realize is that most of the time, they get everything from you.

Do you want more of those moments? Do you want to know how you can help your children through life were they can manage their feelings, emotions, and live an intentional purposeful life? No child is too young to learn to love, to give kindness, and most importantly to feel loved. Children give what they receive and when we pour ourselves into them and fill them with purpose, value, and direction, children will walk through this journey with full tanks. Having a full tank is important for a child because then they won’t search for other avenues to fill their tanks, this is discussed in 5 love languages of Children by Gary Chapman. They will lean on themselves confidently, trust in hope, and remember that you are always there for them. On Mother’s Day we celebrated by joining with our church community and dedicating our selves to be parents that steward over our children. To be parents that lead in a way that fills their hearts up with nothing but the true words of God.

In today’s society our children are fighting for their lives everyday. On all SM there is bullying, degrading, hot or not list etc. In school there is constant emotional bullying, and mental corruption that it makes it very hard for any child to want to push through and enjoy being a child. My sister is 11 and has been bullied for 2 years consistently. Girls that were her friends turned on her, and they just say and do mean things that I can’t even try to imagine why.

It is our role to lead our children in a way that gives them a future. The most important thing I think any child needs in this moment of time, is hope. The belief that there is something bigger and better than the here and now. They need to know that all of this is temporary and that with God, there is so much they can overcome.

Our children are 6, 3, and almost 2. They all faced losing a baby brother this year. Yes, children are resilient, but there are moments were they break down, moments were they wonder about what happened to him after we buried him. They seek comfort knowing he’s in heaven, and that even though it was hard, God has a plan for him, and for all of us. My daughter was putting everything together one time, and she walked up to me and she said, “Mom, you have two babies in heaven?’ I responded accurately telling her yes and what she said  silenced me for a minute. She said,

“Well that’s mean!” 

I snickered a litte and said, “Yes, it’s very mean! and it’s very sad. I get sad thinking about it quite often. Do you think mommy is sad though all the time, or do you see me happy?” She said she sees me happy. I resonded with, ” That’s because I know that both of your brothers are with God, in heaven, and they have nothing to worry about, they are safe, feel loved, and know that we love them very much.” She said, “I’m happy we can visit with them in heaven anytime we want.” I didn’t know how to respond to that one except “yes, we are lucky!” I’ve discussed before how well she’s kept an open relationship with her deceased baby brother, she speaks of playing with him quite often.

I felt though that this was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I had to speak more of God’s plan for us. So I went further to explain to her, that life will have many moments of sadness and things that happen that are mean. Fortunately though, God carries us through them all. I talked to her about how we all have gotten stronger together, how we pray more together, and how grateful we all have become for one another. Her response was the cutest because she says things backwards sometimes but yet they are so impactful that you can’t help but smile and not correct her. She said, “Mom, I sure am grateful I looooove you.” Boy is she right, I’m very grateful she loves me too. LOL.

Moments don’t always approach us that allow us to straight talk our children, Some families may never go through a hardship that they need to overcome together and use that to allow their faith to grow from. Either way, there are always moments, 3000 waking hours with your child to be exact, moments in the morning and after school, and even after adding up all the extra curricular activities. We have 3000 waking hours. Spend them all wisely. I’ve talked before that we use Parent Cue app to help us with these times. We as parents can lead our children to know and love God in a way that feeds their souls in so many easy ways, and activities that illustrate God. It’s so important for children and their mental health to have spirituality in their lives. To live their lives out in a manner that  isn’t just inward. Their way of living becomes purposeful, god-serving, and intentional giving. So, I’m sharing with you five things we learned from our Parent/Child Dedication to help you lead your children to know, love and serve God.

1. Remember your beautiful Gift

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.

-Psalm 127:3

Your calling is your assignment, we can all live up to it, because God handpicked each of our children for us. He knew we were the best fit for each of our babies. You can do this mommies, daddies, grandparents! He believes in you. God is hungry for his children, we are all born Children of God, so he is waiting for them to seek him. He so desperately wants them. We can do this by raising our children with a Christ-centered parenting method vs a child-centered parenting method. I’m sure we all struggle with this one. I know I have so many times. Especially because as babies they take up all our time, need us, and our world revolves around their every need. We forget though that once they hit a certain age, to change that. It then carries through, and every need, and every want your child asks for is still given to them. They grow up to be self centered children, that turn into self centered adults. Not thinking of anything or anyone else than themselves. We want our children to grow up caring for others, caring for their world, and caring for what they stand for. You take them from Meism –> Weism.

2. Be Disciples

Biblical Parenting = Disciple your child well. We are the primary leaders. Discipling is all about impressing on them, unfortunately though we have until our children are about 10 to keep impressing on them deep rooted values and morals. Yes, we have the 3000 waking hours to impress them, but once they hit a certain age, they will want to listen to other, friends, and what their activities are will be of importance.

 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

-Deuteronomy 6:4-9

So it’s important to always build a community around your family that represents your values and beliefs as well. Building the team is crucial. That even means the team in the house. If your marriage is rocky your Childs stability will be as well, you need to focus on creating a stable, safe environment that feeds them with love and allows them to see partner parenting. When you have great communication with your spouse you both will raise like minded children. My husband is my team mate, and our little A Team is our main focus, so we want to provide and offer them a stable home that builds strong foundational roots to grow upon. To help build who they are.  If you want to learn more about partner parenting read the blog to see 5 easy ways to build that bond with your husband or wife. 

We have to understand though, with or without your child’s other parent, that it is our main role to dedicate ourselves to our children. We were shown one thing during our Parent/Child Dedication, that we must dedicate ourself  to our children. not rely on their teachers, or their friends, or their school. That we must make the choice to be the one to disciple our children. 

3. Purposeful Parenting. Our purpose and desire is to raise kids who love God with their whole hearts and want him forever. We do this by passing on knowledge and love of God into our children. He wants our children to grow up with hearts for him. We help with this by parenting in RED. 

R-Relationships– Always be aware of the relationships that you are making. Have friends that share the same beliefs so you can raise your child in a community 

E-End in Mind – What you are teaching your children matter for their eternity. I actually liked this one because it sort of gives you permission to relax a little as a parent. It resolves a lot of the fights before they even happen. For instance, if you’re arguing with your child about doing the dishes, and getting on them, and telling them you can’t go to insert here before you finish doing them. You harp and harp and harp until you’re blue in the face. Now, if you change your perspective to focus more on conversations that matter for their eternity then you won’t put so much pressure in those moments that are difficult between your child and you. Does that mean they won’t happen, of course not, just that then your focus won’t be so centered on those minute things. 

D-Destination – The end goal is to raise a loyal, christ-follower, generous, and gracious little being, so when you are purposeful in your actions you too will reap these benefits and everyone around y’all will as well. 

4. Be the Parent God wants me to be.

 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

Remember the relationships you are making, and try to pay attention to the teachable moments like the one I discussed earlier. Ask God to daily gibe you wisdom, courage, and strength. especially on those hard days that our kids are going crazy on us. Those are the days you stand up as a Chaos Coordinator and you make it work! Embrace our roles that we are given and take charge of it. We need to make our children a priority!!

We also have to realize something though, that we simply can’t do this without having a close connection with Christ ourselves. We need to know him too. I don’t know about you, but I need to seek him the most when I’m having hard days, for in those moments I’m weak and I want to just close the door and give myself time away, but now with him, I can manage through them. Calm my children down, and we can all work together. Before I would just rage out, but now I want gas

5. Lead by Example. It’s not science it’s factual, children learn what they see. So be the person you want your children to be. There’s no way to raise children to be kind, if you can’t simply be kind to people around you. if you can’t show kindness to your servers, extend grace to people in supermarkets, and on the road. If you can’t work out the relationships in your own life, you simply can’t lead your children. You have to want to be better for you and your children.

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.

There are always ways to learn how to be better at this role, constant reading, constant growth, constant feeding yourself so you can feed them. But in case you don’t know where to start, and need something to constantly tell yourself to help with leading your littles;

We can do this by following the 3R’s:

R-Reverance for God + his word.

R-Respect, for God’s Authority. God gives you authority over your children.

R-Regard for God’s Way.

Remember these three things to help push yourself to be a great leader. I leave you with hope, hope that you make the choice today to be your child’s disciple, to lead them in a life full of love, hope, and faith. may you all live a life that serves our God, for the better good of this world. For we all desperately need kind and loving people to flood this earth. I challenge you, step up to God’s Plan for you. Are you ready?

Ephesians 6:3 

So that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.

Remembering a Death of a Loved One | Healthy Families

Count Down to Atticus’ Due Date.

Miscarriage is something I never knew I would talk about so much. I never thought I would be in this category. It has been a rollercoaster of emotions. Although there are the foreseeken inevitable moments that bring you down to your knees but we have also had some amazing moments that we relish in. We have found beauty in this chapter because it has brought us all so much closer and has strengthened our marriage. We’ve learned that Gods plan is strong for us, and that we need him.

We’ve learned to rely on one another. Believe it or not, but that we can also lean on our own children. They truly are blessings from God. Their innocence is beautiful and has a way of catching you off guard in all the right moments that just melt your heart. My sweet Ali-girl (Aliyna) has spoken of her baby brother every day. Not one day does she leave him out. She prays about him, plays with him, and has even gotten him his own cup, or plate from time to time.

She speaks of her baby brother like she knows him deeper than any of us, even me, she carries him with her and it’s quite beautiful. They say it’s the way to keep our families alive, is to keep them present here with us. It was difficult though, to get used to her speak of him so freely. It used to break us down, Josh and I would talk about how we barely could handle it. We didn’t want to tell her to stop and just assumed it would eventually go away, it hasn’t. Five months later, it hasn’t. So we’ve accepted it, and now find peace and joy in it. One day she was rocking him (a stuffed animal) in a carrier, I thought it was the cutest thing ever. I saw a glimpse of what my life would have been like. All three kiddos got around and kissed on him, sang to him, and covered him with blankets to keep him warm. It was cute to see Addie play along, bc I always wondered what she would do with a baby in the house, I thought she would be an angry type, but she chose to share her bouncy chair, didn’t throw a fit, and played along. Now if u know her and her bouncy chair , this was an incredible move on her part. I cried, wiped the tears from my cheeks and even played along, I think every mom should play along if they’re presented with this moment, it was healing in its own magical way. I thought every moment with him was robbed from us, that I’d never be able to delight in moments like these. Although they’re just pretend, they mean so much because I came to the realization that we can all still share intimate moments like these even though he’s not here. Not everything is gone or unattainable like I thought it would be. Yes, he’s not there, but the moments with the other kids aren’t entirely lost forever.

So to say the least we’ve learned to roll with this phase. We’ve set the table with food just for Atticus, placed bottles on the high chair for him. These little things that Ali-girl just randomly does to include him have become memories that I won’t forget. It’s also a sweet reminder to send my boy some love. That he’s with us, and will always be apart of our family.

So as we approached the due date I was nervous. I mean it’s all been such a process. First month- fighting against depression. becoming emotional stable again. 2nd month – Finding myself again, getting back to my core, finding my mission, spirituality awakening. 3rd month- spent focusing on Meditation, becoming mentally stable again. Fourth month I was trying to find passion again. I was deliberately taking steps that I believe to be necessary to stay healthy but every month anniversary it would seem like I would just get broken all over again.

I didn’t know how I’d be on this day, if I’d handle it so well or if I should even bring it up with kiddos. I knew I had to because they’re apart of everything. I felt like we needed to celebrate him in one way or another. After all, I celebrated Valek’s first birthday with friends and family, it was a great way to remember him, and I had to do the same to remember our sweet Atticus. I came up with the idea to have a chalk party to remember him by. I had purchased these chalk bombs for maternity pics for when my belly got bigger. I couldn’t wait to use them. So when he passed away we thought about using them at his funeral but then I decided to go with the balloon technique so the kiddos could write special comments to their baby brother to send to heaven instead. I’m glad I didn’t use them then, because I didn’t realize how much healing I would feel from this.

Letting go of Balloons to send to Heaven

Now before I share all the awesome pics, I wanted to say, it was hard getting the bags out of the closet, getting all the supplies together, and setting everything up, getting the initial pics before sent me into tears. I could hardly swallow. It was one of those moments were you want to stop doing what you’re doing if it hurts that bad, but yet, I knew better- it was a moment that I had to go through. It was one of those moments I wore the tears proudly because I wanted them there, I wanted to feel the warmth of them, because they reminded me of why I was there to begin with. This was my something to recognize the day that I would have held him. Kissed him, brought him home.

I started thinking about what that would have looked like, and I thought well there would have been a thousand pics for sure, so I decided to take pics with a bear that we received in the hospital. After I delivered Atticus the nurses put him in a crocheted pouch blanket so we could hold him in. All of this little baby could fit in there with just a little glimpse of his face showing. It was a way to cuddle him and love on him before we could never hold him again. At first josh didn’t want to hold him. When my water broke and they told us what would happen he said he thought it be best to not hold him. But once he was here with us. We both wanted to. Had to! It was a must! It was also something we’ve been so happy that we did because there’s no going back. If we opted out and then buried him without ever holding him, giving our son kisses, or laying with him, it wouldn’t have been something we wouldn’t be able to live with. The blanket was a nice touch, and we were so thankful the hospital assisted us with this all.

Then the nurse came in and gave us this box with all kind of things in. It was a box from an org called Luke Lives On. One of them is a swatch that matches the crocheted blanket that Atticus was in. So we could always have a piece with us. The ‘Attucus’ bear, paperwork explaining the org was created by parents just like us, a willow tree angel statue, prayers, and a book. All of it touched us so deeply that we couldn’t help but be thankful that these people went above and beyond to help others like them during this hard time. My favorite however and most meaningful gift, was a bracelet. A leather bracelet that had a verse on it, can u guess which one?

It had the exact verse that I have spoken of sooo many times. The verse that was read at my first sons funeral by two different people, the verse we have hanging in our house, the verse I have in the tag line on this site! It was a moment that God was there with us. I put it on and have never taken it off. However, I take it off when I shower and there’s always one person to help me put it back on, my son. No one else can do it but him. He’s said that. It’s something he likes to do for me, he said mommy I’ll always be here to put this on for you, I know it’s important to you, so it’s important to me. Are u crying yet!! These kids I tell you they just get to you don’t they!!!

He’s exactly right though, it’s a bracelet that I’ve found identity in, for so many reasons that I can’t even go into detail just yet. I’ve tried making a video and speaking about it but I guess I’m just not there yet. My main point though, I’ve kept it near because I feel like it’s God’s way of letting me know his hands are still on me.

Little did we know that that bracelet would connect us in so many more ways to Gods plan for us, let alone, for me. – Ashly Williams

We received a call about a month later from the Drs after they did an autopsy on our son. What they found has sent us to a whole other level of wow-ness. The doctors said that Atticus shared the same genetic disorder that his older brother in heaven had. G a s t r o s c h e s i s. Not only did he have that, but his liver, and his gall bladder were on the outside of his belly as well. Now, when I talked to my OBGYN once these results came in, she explained to me how rare this was. For a mom to have one child with Gastroschesis is rare enough, but to have the same mom give birth to two kids with it, ASTRONOMICALLY RARE. She sent my results to two Drs she knew and they all said the same thing. We have no idea what this means for the me, for our family, but we do know that I have to go see a geneticist to find out. This appt has been set. Can you imagine being told that you are an astronomically rare case and to hear these words come from several Drs.

I was confused at first, I don’t understand quite yet how that can happen to me. Especially after I’ve had three healthy kids. I didn’t understand why with my first and last boys. I’m still at a loss. One thing was made clear for me though, that this community that I moved away from before I was all of a sudden thrown back into. I was reliving Valek’s death, along with Atticus’s death. It somehow connected us all together. I was living in this loop that kept coming back to the beginning. The beginning were I found God. When I was pregnant with Valek I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior. After he came home from the hospital I was baptized at Zilker park with him there with me, with my church HCBC along with my friends and family. I heard God speaking so loud to me, that this is where I’m supposed to be again. My faith needed to remain that strong, needed to be moved, and willing to do his good works again. I’ve rejoined with Hand 2 Hold an org that helps parents adjust during their time in the NICU.  I’ve come to contact with someone who works, builds, and campaigns for Agape- a pregnancy resource center,  where I accepted Jesus Christ. Discussed how crazy it was that we ran into one another at Re|Engage, a place we never would have been at if we didn’t have a miscarriage, and discussed volunteering there. I’ve rejoined Gastroschesis groups and feel like that voice that I had before is burning brighter and deeper.

We don’t have a lot of the answers, some we will get from the specialist, and some we won’t but I know one thing is for sure. That during this time in my life, I have never felt so close to God. I’ve wondered what would have happened to my son if my water never broke, if I carried him for another 15 weeks before they did another ultrasound to find out then what he had…I can’t even imagine the weight it would have put on our family, on Josh, on our kids. It’s so hard to try and imagine, there’s so many what ifs that it doesn’t play out just one way in my brain. I’ve thought about this loop He keeps putting me on, and how everything keeps pointing to one thing, HIM. He works in mysterious ways, His plans for us are so magnificent that we can’t even fathom. Through all this I’ve found a purpose again, and the will to pursue it. I don’t need the answers, I just need him.

I am < God therefore_sign.png I NEED Him

So, this brings us back to the Chalk party, crazy how the chalk I purchased for the gender reveal are the same colors as Miscarriage Awareness. The kids loved it, Aliyna ate some and her teeth and tongue were blue for over four hours no matter what she ate, or drank. LOL, and the coolest part, once again, my bracelet. Look how it turned out. I’m never washing it out!!! It’s just how it was meant to be all along.

Moms Boho Bracelets covered in blue chalk after mom commemorates her son.

I know it’s crazy to think a miscarriage has meaning, or that it’s all a part of a “plan” but I have to believe that all of this realigns together just so perfectly that I can’t help but know that all of it, all of this, is in Gods hands. If you have experienced a miscarriage, I send hugs to you, and am so sorry for your pain. I just say to you now, try and rejoice in the moments that bring you closer to your baby, remember them, and celebrate them. The healing from it alone is worth it. Plus you never know you might get an angelic visitor like we did during our chalk party. Call it what you want, but we think someone came to play with his family.

Do you see the glowing angel?

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How To Fix Your Marriage | Mental Growth

Two Steps to Fix Your Marriage

Marriage faces so many different bumps along the way. Some poeple’s are mounds, or hills, while others have to climb through valleys, and overcome mountains. Here’s two easy ways that show you by maintaining self awareness it can help save your marriage.

The faculty of a person that enables them to be self aware of themselves, and others is known as, the mind. You have to be completely conscious at all times and present with yourself to constantly be looking inward. To fully understand what is going on with you. In Re|Engage we focus on ourselves, we draw circles around ourselves and focus on ways to work on our struggles, emotions, and problem areas so we can better serve our spouse. Believe me, it’s not so easy at first, every week I have to remind myself to do just that. I literally have to draw that circle around myself to remind myself what I need to be doing. That alone has helped so much with stopping  little bickering before it has even started. The one thing that we are constantly reminding ourselves with is that “I’m my own marital problem.” It may sound silly, especially if your spouse is lying and cheating. but it’s a helpful reminder to focus on your actions and to see if you’re coming from a place of love. if you’re ready to fix your marriage then take two  steps, just two, that will help you allow your marriage to move freely, and openly. Are you ready to start?

Focusing on yourself by following two easy steps:

1. Be Honest. I think we all have problems being honest with ourselves. Sometimes it can be scary to look inward and see just who you’ve become. Especially if who we are is someone stuck on the bathroom floor, feeding our own addictions. In hard and dark times, it’s very hard to look inward and to hold ourselves accountable for our own actions. I know from experience it just seems so much easier to find a reason to blame it on other people. To hang on to the anger, pride, walk around with hatred, and even hold on to guilt or even fear. The best thing is that Fear is a Liar! Don’t let it destroy you! Overcome the fear and rise above it because life is waiting for you. They always say, you’re the only one holding yourself back. If you are a timid person or the opposite spectrum carrying around anger because of fear listen to Fear is a Liar, by .

We have nothing to be afraid of: God is there for you. There’s is freedom found when we lay our lies down at the cross. We can be who we are meant to be once we let go of all that baggage. Don’t waste your life holding on to all that that shame and darkness when your already been freed. Your freedom is just waiting for YOU!!

2. Self Awareness. Be honest with yourself as well. Combat the fear of being honest, don’t blame the people around. Being aware allows you to be authentic with people, allows real relationships to happen and allow God to move in the real vulnerability of the raw friendships that you have. How can u be real if you don’t know your self? Honestly, repeat that question, how can you be real if you don’t even know your self? Besides being self aware allows you to be your own driver of your own life, not a victim of your past.

Start It, Commit to it, Succeed in it!

Ashly Williams

How to Have a Successful Marriage When Times Get Tough

Steps for Wives and Husbands:

My husband and I go to weekly marriage to get tools we need to fight for our marriage. Atfirst, I thought it was going to be something good for us because of our recent struggles, but honestly it doesn’t matter what phase of marriage you are at, every married couple should go through something to get you closer together. If you so happen to have a Christ -Centered program available, GO! If you are struggling like we were, close to divorce, dealing with addictions, GO!

I’ve mentioned before at Re|Engage we discuss how to focus on ourselves vs. our spouse. We have to face the notion that we are all broken. Now if you understand that you yourself are broken, and so is your spouse and you want to love them anyway, be there for them despite their problems, then take these 2 Easy Steps to Help you Become a Great Spouse. Despite the fact that you are still filled with hurt, and pain, you can move forward. Now if you don’t want to, just remember they love you despite all your struggles, moods and unpleasant sides. They love you and are not you’re enemy. Someone far greater is the enemy. If you decide you are still willing to support your spouse then here are acronyms for each one of you to help the other spouse through their battles, struggles, and addictions. Now if the roles need to be changed depending on  who is currently struggling then do so, but these two acronyms are ways to just show you how to be there for one another.

Men – You are the leaders of your own home, so use LEAD to guide you to lead over your marriage.

L– Let go and let God – Build a team for accountability. Men tend to keep everything bottled up. We all know this, they’re told to be tough, they need to be strong. But in hard times no matter what we need the help of others. Especially if you are the one struggling with addiction, cheating, or lying. Men, need to learn they can’t control everything, can’t fix everything, and can’t do it alone. Reach for God, let him take control. Place it at his feet even if it is just to take the weight off your shoulders.

E– Engage your helpers. Enlist them to be there, call upon them. Only you know when you need help, so don’t be afraid to ask.

A– Accept counsel even when they suggest to do the hard things. When you hear what you don’t want to be told, the last thing you want to do is listen, but just try and remember they are removed from the situation so they are coming from a perspective of love, and truth. Take the words they say, and atleast try it out and see what happens. In the end, it could be the best advice you ever received, and you won’t know unless you try. Doesn’t your marriage deserve the effort?

D– Don’t settle! Ever!! God has something better for your marriage and more for your life. When u better yourself, spears around you reap those benefits WOW!! Amazing! Can you imagine, by fixing myself and constantly drawing that circle around myself, focusing on what I need to change, changes my relationships with my wife, my children, and my friends. My whole life! That can be you! Reach for progression not perfection- perfection is unattainable- again strive for progression and that will take yourself + marriage out of the rut.

Women – Extend grace, hurt is natural, the feelings will always need time to heal, like everything else, but to extend grace to your husband will fill them with love and comfort, and show them you are their partner not their enemy. They will want to come to you even when they know they bear bad news. It’s okay to have those feelings and emotions I’m not here to tell you not to feel. But now you have the chance to respond to those previous actions and emotions in a loving way and in a helpful way. Therefore, use HELP to allow you to be that helpful companion vs an argumentative and cold partner. When your husband needs you especially when he’s at his weakest because he’s struggling with something, this can help you help him.

H- Hang onto God. Woman we must accept that perfection is unattainable so we need to strive for progression not perfection. We also need to keep in mind that progress doesn’t mean that conflict doesn’t exist. It’s the time of the fight and argument that changes when you have the tools to work through them. Things get better and fights become fair. So trust in God, hang onto him, and let him lead you in your marriage.

E– Enlist others. The same for Men applies to woman.

L– love with grace + Truth. In everything you do love with grace and truth. It also important to set yourself up with friends and the community who are like this too. Yes the friends who you can call upon immediately to vent to, the runs that always talk you down and are on your side is great. But they speak with emotions first. So when your telling them all your problems of course they’re going to take your side. In the hard times you need someone who is willing to tell you the truth that you need to hear. The truth that will align you back to where u want to be. You need to have friends that align with your beliefs it’s crucial!

P– Promote Christ in Him calling out goodness!! Tell him he’s worthy, praise him for his actions. Build him up. It sucks to say, but your husbands are like children, if you’re not there to build them up, then they will seek it other places. I hope these two acronyms will help you if you’re currently trying to overcome battles in your own marriage. Marriage is hard, living with someone else’s mood swings, life stages, and their challenges is a lot of work. But I believe that God sends you your spouse for a reason. You’re meant for one another. He wants your marriage to be full of great things. If you’re not struggling with major issues and you just need help getting through your marriage day to day these will help you too. These will help you to focus on what matters through all the crazy chaos in life- that’s your spouse. They are not the enemy. They are mostly good, so give your marriage the effort it deserves. Put in the work. I hope this motivates you to atleast try to take steps to build up your marriage. I also hope you learn a lot about yourself so you won’t put the whole burden of making your marriage work on your spouse. If you need prayers or help with any of this or want more info on Re|Engage feel free to reach me.

Start It, Commit to it, Succeed in it!

Ashly Williams