Moms in the Word {Sneak Peek}

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Moms in the Word.png

 

We don’t need to do this alone. And we moms? We need to represent.

More details to come.

If you are subscribed to Joyful Mothering, watch for a special announcement, detailing this new feature. I will be sharing the inside scoop with you before releasing anything public.

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For His Glory

5 Things to Pack for a Homeschool Convention

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

This post is sponsored by Great Homeschool Conventions and contains affiliate links. 

It’s not unusual when you head to a conference or convention for the first time to wonder what some of the most important things are you’ll need to pack.

5 Things to Pack for a Homeschool Convention.png

I’ve learned after attending conferences, there are definitely some “must have’s” on a trip like that. This, of course, will vary if you’re bringing along a baby or the entire family. But for now, let’s just stick with what to pack for yourself. I’ll offer a few bonus items for anyone who would need to bring their baby along.

  1. A Handbag. This is important to carry around the convention so you can store a notebook, snacks, mints or gum, convention and vendor literature as well as have the ability to carry things back to your room from the vendors if needed. If you’re looking for something durable, I highly recommend the bags from Freeset (which also help keep women in India out of the sex slave industry because they are employed by making these fantastic bags.)
  2. A Binder. While not totally necessary, some people keep organized using a small binder  for note taking, jotting down email addresses from people met along the way, vendor websites to look up later, etc.
  3. A Cardigan Sweater (that matches all the outfits you pack). I cannot tell you how many times I’ve attended sessions when I was freezing! It’s really  hard to concentrate when you’re shivering, so be sure to pack something universal and warm enough if a room is chilly.
  4. Laptop or iPad (or Smartphone at the very least). It’s great to be able to look up prices to compare while you’re shopping for curriculum. It will also help keep you connected with those who couldn’t make it or don’t understand what’s so great about a homeschool convention. You can share in pictures!
  5. Comfortable Shoes. Yes, this is important. While the idea of dressing fancy (even in a nice pair of boots with heals) is nice, comfort should probably take precedence in this case. Because you’ll be doing a lot of mingling and be out and about, and a long way from home (typically). You’ll want to bring shoes you can last the weekend in!

Great Homeschool Conventions in Greenville, South Carolina actually begins TODAY starting at 2:00pm EST and tickets can be purchased at the door.

Other convention locations include Cinncinnati, OH – April 24-26 and Ontario, CA – June 12-14. It’s not too late to register online for those two locations!
Homeschool Convention Locations, Dates and Speakers

GHC is planning some blogger meet ups for SC and OH. Be sure to follow them on Facebook and/or Twitter for updates!

Related Posts:

3 Reasons You Want to Hear Ben Carson Speak

5 Ways to Attend a Homeschool Convention

4 Reasons to Attend Great Homeschool Conventions

Trim Healthy Mama {Life: Simplified}

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One of my goals to simplify in 2014 includes my diet. Simplifying the foods that I eat so I can live out my days with optimal energy.

Right now, that is my biggest offender: I always feel tired. I am a big carb loader and a junk food junkie. Sugar has become so much a part of my diet that I don’t even realize all the things I eat that contain sugar. But what I didn’t realize? All those carbs that I load up on? They break down into sugar and after a while, I have a sugar crash.

Fighting Fatigue with Real Food

I struggle to get out of bed in the morning and I frequently crash in the afternoons.

After reading some rather interesting information in the Trim Healthy Mama book, it makes complete sense why I am always tired and having crashes throughout the day.

While I am continue my journey of eating real foods, I remind myself that perfection isn’t the goal here. I am not aiming to never eat a lick of sugar again. Maybe someday I’ll get to that point, but right now, that’s not the goal. After feeding my body {pretty much} toxins for much of it’s existence, shifting that is going to take time.

So, right now my goal isn’t to cut out everything toxic, but rather to include more whole foods. Including more whole foods will automatically push out some of the toxic foods I’ve been accustomed to.

What I am loving about Trim Healthy Mama is that, though this plan has you eat certain foods together, it doesn’t force me to eliminate some of my favorite foods (such as potatoes!). It just has me eat them coupled with the right kinds of foods for optimal performance, and of course in the right portions.

Because I eat so many carbs (carbohydrates), and carbs break down into sugars, I was overloading my system with excess insulin, causing me to crash and store fat.

I am not completely cutting out carbs, I am merely controlling my portions. That’s a start. Last night, I created a meal already part of our regular menu that closely fit the Trim Healthy Mama plan. I will continue to use what I have on hand as I purchase new items to include in the THM plan as I go.

Lemon Pepper Chicken and Jasmine Rice

(Quick recipe: Lemon Pepper Chicken – Take chicken breasts and cook in butter, sprinkle with Lemon Pepper seasoning, splash fresh lemon juice on top! Asparagus – Cook in frying pan with butter and season with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cook until tender, but not mushy.)

My ultimate goal isn’t weight loss, though I’m sure that will be a lovely perk to this continuous change. No, my overall goal is to have more energy and mental power for my family and myself. I don’t expect any plan will be perfect, but this one seems to deal with some of my personal eating habits.

Each month I will share an aspect of what I’m learning and how my habits have changed as well as the results of those changes. I will also share some new recipes and tidbits from Trim Healthy Mama.

What about you? Are you on a real food journey? What plan are you using?

Follow my Life: Simplified Pinterest board for more resources on simplifying your life.

Follow my new Trim Healthy Mama Pinterest board for all resources Trim Healthy Mama related! 

Are We Mothering Our Children With Entertainment?

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We live very busy lives in this culture. There are endless options of things to do and be involved in. Technology has made life SO easy, it might be TOO easy.

Technology and Children

The Ease of Technology

I don’t mean the mental or emotional state of life is always easy, but the physical aspects, which play a vital role on the mental, are seriously lacking in our culture. It’s just a simple fact. Technology plays a huge roll in entertaining our culture.

But we don’t need to be dominated by our culture. Sure there are plenty of great things about the ease of technology and many different options. However, they can cause just as much harm. Let me explain.

When we constantly rely on technology to do the work for us, we become lazy and reliant. The same goes for our children. When we allow them to constantly or consistently play games on the iPad or watch TV instead of working their brains with a good book or hands-on project, their brains become lazy. The more we allow it, the harder it is to get them to bounce back and work their brains. They can no longer see images in their head from reading a book because the TV has done the work for them.

Going Against the “Norm”

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I fall into the guilt trap of feeling like the “mean mom” for being so limited on the electronics. So, I’ll offer more time. But when I try to reign them back in to their lessons, it becomes a battle that is met with complaint and whining and, “It’s too hard!”.

Come on, we can admit it’s easy to just say, “Yes you can play a game or watch that show.” And some days I believe it’s a necessity for sanity. But just like our children, it can make us lazy moms. I know, not what anyone want’s to hear. Why put the work in when iPad apps can do it for us?

We pay for convenience, but at what cost?

It’s a tough paradox. Our culture is now driven by technology. We can’t just disconnect from that reality. But we can still be wise and use it as a tool.

And technology isn’t the only thing that entertains our children. How often do we push and bribe with toys and movies and gadgets that do little but keep kids busy without significant benefits? But we have grown so accustomed to being entertained, that it seems abnormal to minimize it. To our children, it may seem unfair. As if they were being deprived of a “normal” life.

How can we turn this around so our children have a future filled with active minds who think for themselves? Just because we live in this culture, doesn’t mean we have to be subject to it. And going against the culture is not an easy thing to do.

Equip Our Children

We all want what’s best for our children — I do not doubt that. But are we actively pursuing that goal, or merely “hoping for the best?” We need to be a generation of moms who stands up against the norm and raises warriors for Christ, who are ready to battle the evils of the world rather then join them. I’m not saying technology or even entertainment is inherently evil. But too much can certainly be devastating. We should not ignore it’s long-term effects from excessive use and pleasure.

The last thing we want to do is lull our children to sleep by making them blind to a world who desperately needs Christ.

Resources:

These books are part of a HUGE Bundle sale going on now through April 28, 2014. Over 80 resources for under $30! Find out what else is included in this incredible offer.

This is part 2 of a 10 part series on Biblical Motherhood

3 Reasons You Want to Hear Ben Carson Speak

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

This post is sponsored by Great Homeschool Conventions and contains affiliate links.

Ben Carson has a fascinating story. I read his autobiography and watched it in movie form a couple weeks ago. An incredible, real life hero who our children can learn from.

Gifted Hands

Dr. Carson dreamt of being a physician beginning in elementary school. The challenges he faced made him even more determined to excel and despite his circumstances, he grew up to become one of the top pediatric neurosurgeons in the world.

“An individual must believe in himself and in his abilities. To do his best, one needs a confidence that says, ‘I can do anything, and if I can’t do it, I know how to get help.’” -Gifted Hands

He is a living example that we do not have to be defined by our circumstances or position in life if we are willing to put the work in to rise above it. Today, I want to share a few reasons why I believe you’ll want to hear Ben Carson speak live at Great Homeschool Conventions. Oh yes. He will be there.

Ben Carson

He overcame his circumstances.

He made no excuses for his upbringing, his living conditions, the difficulties his mother faced, how kids treated him at school or his violent temper. He truly rose above all the garbage and was determined to do his best. There was no substitute for hard work in Ben’s life. If he wanted to know something, he went and sought out the answer.

He didn’t allow his circumstances to define him and he learned that from his mom he could do what anyone else could do. His mom is really where his story begins. His mom is the one who encouraged him to push beyond his limits. His mom.

Mothers, do not doubt the power of your role in your child’s life, regardless of your circumstances. Your words matter and your encouragement matter. Challenge your children. Do not let them give up and do not hand them everything. Make them work for it.

Our children need real life inspiration.

Hollywood doesn’t have what our children need. It isn’t real and what is real in Hollywood is a hot mess. If you have never read the story of Ben Carson, I highly recommend it before going to hear him speak at Great Homeschool Conventions. Even better would be to allow your {older} children to read his autobiography for themselves (or as a read aloud) and have a discussion.

was inspired reading his story, to not only excel as a writer, but as a homeschool mom as well. He didn’t need to come out and specifically say, “You can be a better homeschool mom”. His story alone compelled me. I believe it can inspire and compel our children to excellence as well. In today’s culture, children need to be reminded by people outside of their parents, that success requires real hard work. Things aren’t just handed to us nor should our children expect everything to be handed to them. Let Ben Carson’s story speak for itself and then go beyond by hearing him live at GHC.

Because this is a great opportunity.

How often do you or your children get to have the opportunity to meet someone who’s made history in such a remarkable way? Not only as a doctor, but as someone who rose from their circumstances rather then using them as an excuse. This is an awesome chance to shake hands with a man who is a great example for us all!

He’s the kind of leader and role model this country needs.

GHC Registration

So, what are you waiting for? If you haven’t yet, grab your Great Homeschool Conventions registration here. If you are attending South Carolina or Ohio conventions, Dr. Benjamin Carson will be speaking at both.

Now, find out more reasons you want to hear Ben Carson here!

How To Transition Well

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I have been learning some valuable lessons as I have been dealing with a lot of transition in the last weeks and months. I haven’t handled them very well. Not as well as I could. The transition between selling and buying a house, and then moving, for example, has been more difficult then I anticipated.

Even though things have been moving along relatively quickly, I find myself antsy to just get on with it so we can get moved in and settled. As a result, I tend to put “life” on hold through this transition just waiting for things to happen. But I find it only further frustrates me.

Transition is a journey we should embrace

A few things I have learned about how to transition well include:

Stay close to God.

Sometimes when we face change or difficult situations, we can automatically cling closer to Christ, drawing from His strength.

But there are times when we begin to withdraw. Through difficult times, we can believe things told to us or brought on through our own imaginations that simply aren’t true. But they are very believable lies. Not hard to fall for. Not hard to be deceived by.

Once we begin to entertain these lies, they push away the Truth and it (He) becomes harder to hear. And even harder to believe.

Even transition is a journey we should embrace, because it’s an important step in the process of change. It gives us an opportunity to pray for what lies ahead and how God can use and change us for good. Not necessarily a painless process, but a good one.

Be intentional.

I think being intentional during transitions are vital for stability. Trying to live our lives as normally as possible may be the best thing we can do during a transition. Or, if you need to change the schedule up a bit, at least having a schedule will help maintain a sense of balance. It helps us not focus on the upcoming change too much and keeps us in the loop of life, rather than withdrawing from it.

Not all transitions can allow for this. But I believe many can. I have recognized that withdrawing during the wait or transition only wastes precious time as well as keeps me on edge as I feel like I am constantly thinking about what’s to come. I’m robbing myself of the present by thinking and waiting for the future in unproductive ways.

Consider it all joy.

Transitioning isn’t always easy.  But we can walk this journey with joy. Having joy doesn’t always mean we’re happy and smiling. But it does mean we carry ourselves in a way that people know (i.e. our children and those especially close to us) we trust God’s got this and we can rest in Him. That doesn’t always mean our emotions will follow suit. But we can keep them in check when they begin to take over. David and Job cried out to God in their distress and it wasn’t considered sin.

Give your emotions to God when they begin to push you around. He will offer you peace.

What’s the hardest thing about transitioning for you?

Life: Simplified ~ Moving Edition

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The last few weeks have been no picnic as we have been forced into living rather simple lives in a staged house. Living a simple life doesn’t mean living an easy life. Oftentimes we forgo the simple for the easy.

Simplifying helps us see better

This move has bumped my goals into overdrive in the Home department of my Life: Simplified project.

Here are a few things I’m learning about simplifying during a move:

Purge as You Pack

Now that we have an offer, I have been able to relax a bit in that area of moving and begin to focus more on packing. As I pack, I am also purging. Since this time requires I touch almost every single object in my home, it allows me to really see what we have that hasn’t been of use.

Although moving is a ginormous task, it is also a wonderful way to jump start a huge purge and start fresh.  I want to start life in a new home where I can breathe easier.

It’s not that we’re big hoarders, or anything. It’s just that we often don’t realize how quickly things can accumulate. A lot of times it’s accepting things from others without really thinking whether we really need them or not.

I am especially focusing on what we have in storage, since those things aren’t items we see on a daily basis.

Live With Less (at least for a while)

Packing and waiting pretty much forces us to live with less. This opens up our senses a little wider since we are limited to what we can pull out. There are less books to choose from, so reading becomes more in depth because there aren’t a million books visible to choose from waiting for me (or my children) to hurry up and finish.

Having fewer options staring us in the face helps minimize those kinds of distractions. It allows us to live more fully in many respects.

Adjust Your Expectations

Expecting everyone in my home to be comfortable with change or understand why they cannot pull out certain toys (such as Play-Doh) during a season of house showings is a bit much.

While I may have a large grasp on the situation and time frame of what’s involved in selling and buying a new home, my children do not. Waiting, for children, seems longer and harder in some respects, than for adults. And it has still been difficult on me, as an adult!

What does this have to do with simplifying? Well, it’s part of recognizing that “simplifying” is not equated with “easy”. I am learning, while also teaching my children, how to be content with less – even if it’s only temporary.

What are you learning about simplifying? Link up your post below! Next week, let’s talk about simplifying our time/schedules. 

Follow our Life: Simplified board on Pinterest for encouraging and helpful resources on simplifying in 2014.

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We Got a Buyer! {Coffee Break}

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So, the last time I wrote a Coffee Break, it was to share that we were getting ready to list our house. That was 4 weeks ago. Our house was listed for 3 weeks before we received an offer.

I know many would say, “Wow, that was fast!” and I am thankful to hear that. But hauling 5 kids and 2 dogs out of the house for 3 weeks of showings seemed to crawl by. Keeping a home staged for that long with that many people in the house is no easy task, let me tell you!

God Had the Perfect Buyer

Last week we had one potential interest and by Monday this buyer had decided that between our house and one other, ours would best suit his needs. Anyone who knows real estate knows time is of the essence and when you have a time limit to sell your home in order to buy the home you want, it puts you on edge a little bit, no?

After we received the offer and counter-offered which was then accepted, we ran into a hiccup with the buyer. For about four hours I was pacing the house in prayer and in dialogue between my flesh and spirit. It went something like this:

Flesh: This isn’t God’s will. This all something you just want. 

Spirit: We didn’t ask for this house. We weren’t even looking. God brought it to us and we prayed and tested this by asking for the doors to remain open if this was truly Him and His will. The doors remained open for us to sell our house.

Flesh: This is a material item, nothing eternal and you’re being materialistic by being worried that the whole thing might fall through. So many other people are going through such harder things then this. 

Spirit: It’s not so much worry as it is battling in the Spirit. I am fighting to stand on God’s word amidst the lies of the enemy. I am not everyone else and they are not me. God has written a different story for each of us. Does that mean I should just give up on it?

Flesh: You cannot justify being emotional over an object. God never made promises about giving people material possessions.

Spirit: God promised Abraham land for his family and people. 

Flesh: You trying to cope with the idea that you may not get it means you lack faith. 

Spirit: It’s not that I lack faith. I fully believe God is capable of making this happen. I just want to be sure my heart is in the right place by being OK if it doesn’t happen. 

I am beginning to wonder if there is anything in life that just goes smoothly, but I realize that because we are part of God’s story, the enemy is always on the prowl. He wants to weaken us; make us lose heart, lose faith, and forget all the things God has promised us.

I read an article the other day that someone posted on Facebook titled something like, “Obedience Doesn’t Mean Success”. I tried to find it again, but I can’t. Anyways, the point behind the post was to teach that just because you’re obedient to God, doesn’t mean you’re going to be successful.

I cannot honestly say I have ever encountered such a road. Whenever God has told us to do something, we always check to make sure it was in fact God and not our flesh or imagination. Typically we ask for a few signs or confirmations. Some things we ask are very specific, some more broad.

When it came to selling our home and purchasing a new one, it wasn’t something we were looking for. The opportunity quite literally fell into our laps. We prayed, “Lord, if this is something you want us to pursue, show us by keeping the doors open.” There were many hurdles we had to jump over and to our eyes, it was a long shot. But He continued to keep the doors open.

I cannot speak for how other people hear from God, but I know that for me, I have never experienced God telling me He was going to do something, and then decide to change His mind.

Coffee Break with Christin

What’s a Coffee Break? Coffee Breaks are more personal updates about me and what’s going on in my life. Kind of like a personal journal that you can read. To read past Coffee Breaks, simply click the image above. 

Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

This is a sponsored post, which means I have been compensated to review this program and offer my honest opinion of it. 

A Comprehensive Music Program

Music Appreciation

What’s a great way to introduce your children to great music and great composers? Use a great program.

I have not come across anything quite like the Music Appreciation program put out by Zeezok. It is the most creative, engaging, comprehensive program I think I have ever come across.

Music Appreciation

Zeezok takes music appreciation to a new level. Not only did my children learn some great music composed by some extremely talented and devoted musicians, they learned a great deal about those composers’ lives.

Biographies

Biography of Composers

Paganini Biography

This program comes with the biographies of seven composers: Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Paganini, and Schubert. These biographies are very well written and can either be read by a fluent reader or read aloud by you. I chose to read them aloud so my 3 eldest children could enjoy them at once. The stories even kept me rather fascinated.

They begin at the childhood of each composer and illustrate just how each composer came to be famous and what it took for them to accomplish that.

As we read about Paganini, a very poor boy who had an ear for a tune, it was amazing to me to read how his life unfolded and he could develop and play some of the most difficult compositions ever heard of in his time. It was so interesting to learn the impact and power of music in that time. Without all the noise we have today, people really had an ear for excellent music and they were more than entertained by it. It was soothing and relaxing.

The Workbook

Weekly Lesson Outline

The study of each composer lasts four weeks, though I admit we sped up and slowed down as we desired. That’s the beauty of homeschool flexibility!

Each week consisted of a variety of activities that engaged different subjects surrounding the study of each composer. We would read and draw out different observations such as character qualities and historical facts.

For example, there were several people surrounding Paganini throughout his life. We would draw out their characteristic qualities and discuss how they helped Paganini succeed as a result.

Also included within the workbook pages was locating where these composers lived on the map. In the case of Paganini, my 6-year did a color by number page of Italy.

Music Appreciation Workbook

Music Appreciation Workbook

 LapBooks

Another excellent, hands-on way this program includes to engage is through lapbooks. The Music Appreciation program comes with a LapBook CD-R which includes all the templates needed to create a lapbook for each composer. Each lapbook is unique and helps to solidify geography, musical concepts, parts of the composers’ lives, etc.

The helps with memory retention because it sets our children’s hands to work.

Paganini lapbook pictures

Overall, I without a doubt, recommend this program to all those looking for a Music Appreciation curriculum. Everything you need is included. It has been one of our favorite things to study in these past weeks. You can check it out on the Zeezok website.

Another thing I loved about this program is there is very little prep work involved. I’d say the most you have to do is print out the lapbook templates. Everything was prepped and ready to go otherwise.

Giveaway

Music Appreciation Collection Giveaway

We are giving away one complete program. Woot!

If you’re reading in your email, be sure to click over to the post so you can enter the giveaway!

The Details

If a customer purchases the set during the giveaway, and subsequently wins it, Zeezok will issue a refund of the purchase price.

  • Prize shipped only to US mailing address.
  • Enter Feb. 17, 1:00 AM to March 20, 11:59 PM.
  • Winner will be chosen and notified Friday, March 21.

Discount

A 10% discount on all orders Feb. 17 to March 21 with coupon code: ihomeschool

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When You’re Tired of Being Out of Control

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Many of my frustrations lie within my inability to control most situations. From our adoption, to selling our house, to the dog barking incessantly for what she wants until she gets it.

God Controls the Wind

Out of {My} Control

It’s frustrating to me because I’m simply unable to control these situations. I cannot control how my kids will react when I tell them what I’m making for dinner, or when it’s time to pull out lessons, or when I tell them they cannot watch anymore TV. Their reactions are out of my control. I can discipline them and teach them, but ultimately the decision is up to them.

It’s exhausting to constantly hold on to what I think I can control because when I’m unable to control it, I become frustrated. I take it personal. I don’t understand why things can’t go the way I expect them to.

Sounds kind of like a toddler having a temper tantrum, doesn’t it?

The only thing I have in my control is what I choose to believe about where God has me in this season and how I choose to act (or react) as a result. Will I choose to believe that He has my best interest at heart? Even if I don’t get what I want when I want it, so to speak?

My best interest may not be what I think it is.

There are so many circumstances that are just out of my control, yet I continue to hold on and try to navigate things I don’t even have access to. It’s like trying to drive a car from the passenger seat. I don’t even have a steering wheel, but somehow I think my ranting, complaining, whining, and woe-is-me attitude will move the car in the direction I want to go. And quite frankly, it’s exhausting.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am in the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5

Not Our Burdens

I see a pattern of this behavior when I’ve allowed myself to try to do things on my own. Like I’ve allowed myself to become disconnected from God and believe that I need to do everything and control every situation. But that’s not how God designed us. We have to remain in Him or we cannot do anything. That’s not to say that we’ll be able to control things, quite the contrary. We’ll learn to give up that control and be OK with it.

He never meant for us to carry such a burden and trying to control everything is a burden. Most of what we want to control really isn’t in our power to control anyways. The illusion of control does nothing but drain us of energy and joy.

When the wind picks up or changes direction, God still holds on to us, directing us to fall in with the wind. We can choose to follow His leading, or be crazily blown about trying to gain control of what we cannot control. When God calls us into the air, He’s the one controlling the wind, not us.

Mommy Control

This is no different in motherhood. In fact, I think in some aspects it’s amplified. And because we may have this illusion of control, when things don’t go our way, it can cause some major frustrations, leading to mommy anger that gets vented on our children.

I have been doing a lot of reflection on my own mommy anger and it’s root cause and I have a feeling I’m not alone. I also know that I’m tired of constantly trying to control things I really have no control over. There is a big difference between influence and control. We lose control through anger when we feel like we’ve lost control of people or circumstances.

I will be diving more into this in the coming weeks. Please tell me I’m not alone. It’s not that I am eager to have an epidemic of angry moms, but rather a movement of moms who recognize the root of their anger and want to eliminate it. I think for many of us, it starts with control.