What your kids really want

Happy Father’s Day everyone. I want to share a really powerful story my coach told me recently. I’ve been sharing it with my friends recently and it’s all hit them pretty hard, so I know it’s ready for you.

I want you to think about how much you want for your kids. You want them to be happy. You want them to be successful. You want them to avoid pain. You want to give them opportunities. You want to make sure they feel loved and you want to make sure they are safe.

You want a lot for them, don’t you?

Now, let’s consider what all that wanting for them means. It probably means you’re busy, you’re stressed and you’re anxious trying to do for them. You’re probably weighing mom guilt and feeling stretched thin trying to do for them.

But what do your kids really want? More than all you’re doing “for them?”

Your kids just want YOU to be happy.

Yes, they see you sad, distracted, anxious. They just want their mommy to be happy. They probably try so hard to do things to make you happy, don’t they?

Yes, your kids just want you to be happy. They just desperately want to see you happy, laughing and carefree more than anything else.

All of this toil we go through and the one thing they really want is for you to be happy. Then they can really be happy.

What’s more, then they have a model to follow. If they don’t learn from you how to be happy, they won’t know either.

So, I want you to stop and think about that today as we celebrate Fathers. (Sorry Dads) How can you as a parenting team model happiness but also give your kids the peace that they can only get from having parents that are happy.

Kiddo rituals

The planner I LOVE and use incorporates this amazing idea of rituals. There are four of them:

  • Morning routine
  • Workday start up routine
  • Workday shut down routine
  • Evening routine

Each of these rituals includes the things you need to get done at each particular point of the day to set you up for success and to allow for the transition necessary. For example my morning ritual looks like this:

  • Pray
  • Teeth / dressed
  • Devo
  • Plan day
  • Write

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 10.21.00 AMI’m now in the process of adopting what I do to what works for my kiddos. Last year for the kids I had a huge to do list for them each day that they’d check off. It kind of worked kind of didn’t. After using this planner for the last quarter, I realized that it’s partly because it was sectioned off in this manner. That kind of breakdown would probably help my kiddos.


Kiddos need routine too! Routines for the kiddos typically include things like meals together, reading and singing at bedtime and even consistent family playing time. Researchers from the National Center for Education Statistics examined over 8,500 children and their routines that included those specific activities. They found the social-emotional health of those kiddos who had routines was higher which affected everything from social skills to performance in school. Scientists also found routines at bedtime, along with a consistent bedtime, produce better sleepers up to the age of six. The more consistent the routine, the better the impact. A routine family meal improves the likelihood kids will eat healthier (by 24 percent) and reduces chances they’ll have an eating disorder (by 35 percent) or even be overweight (by 12 percent) according to Cornell University researchers.

Routine acts like a safety net to a child where so much is constantly changing. It’s so hard being a kid. You know, having someone cook for you, change your diapers, carry you everywhere and provide for all your needs.

No wait, that’s not the hard part.

What’s hard is that their brains, their bodies, their grade level and their eating habits are constantly changing. It can be pretty tough for a little person. Having a routine means they have something constant, they have reassurance that some things are predictable. Some things don’t change. Much. This routine also allows kiddos to get good at something. You know, getting up, brushing teeth, going to school. If they do that the same every day then they’re going to get pretty good. That’s a nice little confidence boost for a person who is learning and developing so rapidly it can seem like nothing gets mastered.

In fact, a routine is actually freeing in that it allows those young brains to focus on other stuff rather than wondering what spiral of events things will occur in today. And, anytime you think routine isn’t important, try not getting a toddler their nap and see how well it works out. Hint: not well. It works out not well.

So, let’s do this together. Let’s brainstorm this together. I’ll put some of the basics here. And there will also be a spot for you to allot time. So many times we underestimate how long it takes us (or our kids) to do things. Then we’re rushed and yelling. This is a chance to fight back against that! Be realistic with your time. Then count backward from when the deadline is. My daughter can get her stuff done in 30 minutes. My son takes an hour to do the same amount of stuff. So, I have to have him up at 7am in the morning in order to not need to yell!

Print out the blank template and make it for your kiddos. Discuss it, display it and use it! Watch the wonders it works. Print here: Kiddo rituals

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 10.21.00 AM

Kid morning routine:

  • Wake
  • Bed
  • Teeth
  • Dressed
  • Pick up room if needed
  • Hug mom
  • Breakfast
  • Dishes / table

Kid school day start up routine:

  • Pack lunch
  • Do hair
  • Shoes
  • Prayer
  • Affirmations

Kid school day shut down routine:

  • Unpack backpack
  • Lunch dishes in dishwasher
  • Homework / forms
  • Repack & Hang up backpack

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 10.21.00 AMKid evening routine:

  • Clean up
  • Bath
  • PJs / teeth
  • Story & song
  • Hugs & kisses & prayer

Of course, these routines won’t work every time but that’s okay. The expectation is set and the possibility is there. This is our best case scenario! This is what will really help our kiddos win the day!

The planner I use is Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner. I highly recommend it. Buy the planner. Get the code first here, then go to the shop. Browse about the planner here, you can flip through EVERY page, it’s pretty cool.

Also, if you’d like to edit the document itself, here is a link. Just make a copy, save to your google drive and then make changes!

Picky eater solutions

Last night I was at football practice listening to parents lament about their kiddo’s eating habits. Oh yes, this is something we can all relate to. If you can’t, you have some miracle parenting method that I really need to soak in!

We all face the picky eater issues to some degree. Sometimes that’s a toddler testing independence, a kiddo with texture issues or even a child who has never developed a palette for anything other than chicken nuggets and macaroni.

I always say I ruined my first kid, then I figured it out from there. Because I’d not ever learned how to eat correctly, I had no way how to feed him. To make matters worse, he had a gag reflex, made worse by the tool they gave me to feed him because of the reflex. Now I know it made things worse, but I just didn’t know then.

I fed my first kiddo Nutrigrain bars. I don’t really remember what else, but that was probably as nutritious as it got. As for texture issues, he would vomit spaghetti and other foods his mouth couldn’t handle.

As for my other kids, I literally just cooked down or blended whatever we ate and gave it to them. By the third kid, I had it down. Her first foods were avocado and eggs and she still drinks a shake everyday.

The road has been long. I don’t want to tell you all of my woes but I do want to tell you picky eaters can definitely be CAUSED by us parents and fortunately, they can also be REMEDIED by us parents. Today Zach eats eggs and oatmeal for breakfast and his favorite vegetable is raw spinach. He’s not perfect, but we have made great strides in his future. My goal is for my kiddos to leave my house with healthy eating habits so they don’t have the health issues or learning crisis I had as a grown woman.

Here are some strategies I’ve used and I recommend to you if you have similar goals:

Reduce portions.

The first strategy to help your picky eater is to reduce portions. We often put so much more food on their plates than they can or even should eat. They’re little people. With little bellies. Start with really small portions for the kiddos because it will seem less daunting to them as they look at their plates. I’m talking like two green beans. Then you can easily celebrate success because it might be one or two bites you have to get through. And you better celebrate. I mean, make this the biggest deal in the history of the world. Then maybe next time they’ll eat three green beans. Gains. We’re all about the incredibly slow, microscopic gains.

Choices empower.

The second strategy is that choices empower. When it comes to your picky eater, you can give them choices. A while ago I wanted all of the kids to try cherry tomatoes. To be fair, their dad doesn’t even like them. I wasn’t expecting much. I gave my son the choice of trying one tomato for dinner or ten pieces of spinach. Do you believe he chose a huge handful of spinach over the one tomato? I can. With this strategy he still gets nutrition (it wasn’t one tomato or candy) but he feels a little more in control. Control is a key factor with picky eaters. I let my kids pick their choices in their lunches. I control what they can choose from, they get to choose. Would you believe my son now chooses spinach every time as his lunch veggie? This is the kid who hadn’t even tasted a raw vegetable until he was 3 or 4 years old.

To eat or not to eat.

Another variation of this strategy is to allow your kiddos to choose whether to eat or not. You see, for so many of us meal times can become a nightmare. We are either making a million different foods or begging people to eat the food in front of them. It can be so draining. And we want meal time to be nice. I’ve given you some overall strategies for kiddos above like ensuring there is always something they like on the table, something worth fighting for. For your picky eaters, you should also consider allowing them to choose not to eat. Also, let them choose how much to eat. Consider allowing them to dish it out on their plates themselves. Then, sit back and ignore their choices. Choose not to engage in coaxing, nagging or arguing or any of it. I’m here to tell you you cannot out stubborn a picky eater, or at least not without unneeded consequences. Science shows it typically makes matters worse anyway.

Instead, serve it and let it go. Just ask about their day and get about the business of enjoying meal time, regardless of their choices. If they choose to go hungry, that’s their choice. Most mealtimes will offer something they will eat so they probably won’t starve. But if they do, they do. They’ve made the choice not to eat. Empowering them also means allowing them to feel the consequences of their choices. Your job is to give them the choice and then leave it alone.

The kitchen is closed.

The third strategy is to close the kitchen and it’s probably the one that can make the biggest difference in our lives. Stop allowing kids to eat all day. Most kids don’t eat because they are not hungry. They’ve been snacking. ALL DAY. You’ll be amazed at how this simple trick can change your picky eater’s habits. Also, don’t offer any other options for dinner or after dinner. They will learn. And no, they will not starve. You also win in this situation because you can be done with food battles in between meal times. That includes dishes. Yay!

Repitition is okay.

Fourth, I want you to be okay with repetition. If you can only get your picky eater to eat a few healthy things, that’s fine. Celebrate the win and understand that their palettes will eventually change. As they continue eating healthy, their taste buds will adapt to desire (or at least not hate) more healthy things. Remember how many times they watched that one show or wanted you to read them that one book? Kids are all about repetition, so use it as a tool in your toolbox.

Lead the way.

Finally, lead the way. One study showed the variety of fruits and vegetables purchased by the parents directly correlated to the amount the children ate. In 2005 researchers showed that kiddos were more likely to try something new if they saw an adult eating it first. This strategy also means eating as a family. 

So, what do you think? Do you think any of these strategies can help you?

Fierce Faith Friday: One simple prayer for the kiddos

My kids have really been shocking me lately with their awesomeness.

I guess that sounds kind of bad. I’m their mom, I shouldn’t be shocked by how awesome they are right?


But I am. Their level of awesome has risen so much in the two weeks they’ve been out of school. Those two weeks, by the way, have been quite the tumultuous time for their father and I. Examples:

  • Melanie playing with her sister all day, no electronics. Playing. With minimal fights!
  • Zach doing the dishes and trash without being asked.
  • Both offering to help when they see it’s needed.
  • Melanie reading to her sister, without being asked, so she can pick a prize out at the library.
  • They brought in and put all the groceries away yesterday.
  • They’ve been working out with me without complaining.
  • Zach worked out with his CrossFit instructor uncle who said he “was very easy to coach” and a “really good runner.”
  • Melanie picked and ate raw green beans at the farm this week.
  • Ayla helping more with chores and not whining as much.
  • Zach opening doors. And reading the bible when he could’ve been on his iPad.

I mean, the list goes on and on. Consider me shocked. It’s like they’ve grown so much overnight. I know I’ve tried to be more intentional about my momming lately. So, that helps.

Earlier this year, I wrote about choosing bible verses for my kiddos.  I chose a scripture for each of them. I also mentioned in that post that I wanted to pray the verses over them.

The way that looks each day is I pray two lines for each kid each day. And I’ve just realized that that is the reason I’ve been shocked at how awesome they’re being.

I have that weird only child over achiever complex. I’m always trying to achieve, I rarely stop long enough to note when I have. And honestly, my faith is another manifestation of this. I do many things I know I should, and I honestly believe in them, I believe in God, I see him show up daily in my life. I am Jesus-powered.

And yet.

I am still shocked when my prayers are answered gradually. Right? Like most of the time it seems like prayers are answered obviously or when we’re looking back with hindsight. It’s like when you lose weight slowly. You might not see it daily, but if you look at a photo from six months ago it’s obvious!

And that’s how it has been with my kiddos. I woke up and realized these prayers are working! WAY more than I would’ve expected! (Gosh! What could God do in my life if I DID expect more?)

Without further ado, here is the simple prayer I say for each kiddo:

  • Common sense and success belong to Zach. Insight and strength are his. Father, help me to be the mom he needs today.
  • Help Melanie to guard her heart above all else and know it determines the course of her life. Help me to be the mom she needs today.
  • Jesus you are with Ayla, she will not fall. You will help her at the break of day. Help me the mom she needs today.
  • Show me the little moments I can be the mom they need today.

That’s it! My prayer time does take a few minutes, but a bit of that is me getting distracted and refocussing. These simple prayers have been a huge gamer changer! You can see why, right?

Because they’re focussed on what I can control: Asking God to intervene on their behalf and asking Him to help ME see and BE the mom they uniquely need.

By focussing on what I can control and allowing God to lead the way, I have a recipe for success. Apparently. I’m still reeling from Zach doing the dishes without being told.

Happy Fierce Faith Friday! Comment below, how do you pray for your kids? Do you think you could start with one simple line today?

  • “Help me be the mom/dad my child needs today.”


5 Elements of Harmony (for women married w/ kids)

My girls are watching Saturday morning cartoons, My Little Pony to be exact. I heard something about “Elements if Harmony,” and being the nerd I am, it piqued my curiosity.

Or maybe it’s just that I am not feeling harmonious at the moment. I worked too many hours, my husband’s been gone and off the grid all week, the kids finished school this week and I did not eat well last night so my gut is wrenched in pain this morning.

Yeah, not harmonious.

So, I of course Googled the ponies and what their elements of harmony are.

  • Magic.
  • Honesty.
  • Kindness.
  • Laughter.
  • Generosity.
  • Loyalty.

It made me think about what my elements of harmony are. Then I realized, I already knew, I’d come up with them years ago! They were just hiding as goal sets.

  • Faith.
  • Family.
  • Fitness.
  • Fun.
  • Finances.


Faith is the first element of harmony for me. Have you ever heard of the Israelite cycle? I mean, that’s not the technical term, but I’m no theologian. The Israelite cycle refers to how we read the Old Testament and watch the Israelites come back to God, and everything’s so good and awesome. Then they go back to serving idols and sin. Things get worse and worse until they finally turn back to God. And then poof! Things are good again. We see it from a distance and think, they’re kind of dense. How can they not see this cycle?

We have the same cycles in our lives though, I know I certainly do. Every once in a while I’ll wonder why things seem so hard lately. Not just regular hard, but swimming-upstream-holding-a-baby-hard. Where it seems like it’s coming from every angle and it just doesn’t make sense (it’s almost laughable) how hard things are.

That’s usually about the time I realize I’ve stopped leaning on God like I need to. When I realize I’ve been trying to do it alone. I realize my faith is out of harmony. When I hook back up to my power source, things don’t necessarily get instantly better, but my ability to handles them certainly does. In fact, it’s like poof! My entire perspective and attitude are different. And it’s like 🤦‍♀️. Shana, you’re just like the Israelites, minus golden calves.


Next up is family. I’ll tell you, even as a stay at home mom, this one being in second place is tough. It’s tough because sometimes I put it first and then I fall wearily flat on my face. It’s also tough because as an entrepreneur I can sometimes put other things before my family (mostly my marriage) but also enjoying my family. I’ve learned to keep them in this order, in priority, in order to keep harmony.

That’s not to say I’m a maid on call all the time. It just means I make sure I’m present with my family when we are together. It means I prioritize the when and the way I spend time with them. It means the home they live in and the food they eat are a priority too. Things that make my family feel out of harmony are:

  • Being in separate places in the world. This is inevitable as a military family. And I do enjoy affording my kids the opportunity to go elsewhere and learn and be with others. But I just don’t sleep as well as I do when they’re all in my house.
  • An unclean home. I’m NOT OCD trust me. But I realized I can’t truly relax and enjoy my family if the home isn’t in decent order. I don’t spend more than 30 minutes most days on upkeep, it it’s a definite priority. And my family helps. We have a work hard, play hard philosophy. And none of us are quite at the top of our games if the home isn’t cleanish.
  • Quality time ain’t happening. When we are rushed, when we are all in our own little worlds, that’s when I feel out of harmony. I’m an only child, so I relish my alone time. However, we are a family. And we do things together as a family. On purpose, not according to other people’s agendas. So, if we aren’t doing that, I feel off.


Fitness encompasses my mental health, my rest and, duh, my physical fitness. I’ve finally learned, after all these years, that this is such an important priority. I walk into the gym a lion, I come out like a lamb. It makes me a better mother, wife and overall human.

When I get enough rest, I literally feel like I can take on the whole world. I’m pretty stubborn about my ten minute cat naps in the afternoon. Not because I’m lazy but because it’s like a brain reset each day. I get up less stressed, more focused and rejuvenated.

Likewise, going to the mental gym is a big one for me. Putting good things in my brain, thinking about big ideas, how I can improve myself, self-correcting if I’m being mean to myself are all part of getting my mind right.


Somewhere along the road, I apparently adopted the idea that being a married, adult woman with three kids meant I wasn’t allowed to do things I like to do. I know that sounds crazy and younger me needed therapy. But I bent my will so hard for everyone else, I rarely did just what I wanted to do in my late 20s and earlier 30s.

In my book I write about my nap time epiphany. I’ll tell you, once I took some time to just do me and what I wanted to do, I noticed immediately it was like a baptism of joy. Like, whoa! It completely changed the game and now I now if I don’t get time for fun (doing what I want to do) and friends (this is another f word, but I tuck it in fun) then things are definitely out of harmony. My husband knows this too, he’s seen the reward of a Shana who’s had some fun. So he is always gracious about letting this pony run. (Pam Tillis)

I definitely have to work hard for fun. In fact, of all of them, it’s probably the one I struggle with the most, even though I know the rewards. It’s another cycle, one best described by T-Boz.

Every now and then, I get a little easy,

I let a lot of people depend on me

When I force myself to have some fun, it all comes back into balance. I have standing dates with friends like weekly coffee. I have once a month friend dates prescheduled because if I don’t, I won’t. But I need to.


For me, finances are all about work and money. I have an entrepreneurial heart. I love my work. So much that I would put it all the way at the top. I’ve never had a job I didn’t like. I’ve been working since I was 14. I’ve had like ten different careers. It’s fine. I’m working on it. I remember a few years into our marriage, my husband went off to training for a few months. I had just landed my dream job (at that time). I got to build our training program from scratch. And I got to pick my team. Y’all, I was in heaven. It was glorious. I was working 12-14 hour days. Because I wanted to. There was no requirement. There was no deadline. No one even knew I was working that much! Except my husband. He came home and was like…Shana, this is not normal. It was a first of many red flags. God certainly gave me Chris to help me figure out how to balance this fire I have inside. I have a really hard time just relaxing. Or just being. Or staying still in the home I pay a lot of money for. Slowly, he has helped me try to find some balance with my ambition and my priorities. On the contrary though, if I’m not working on something I feel passionate about I’ll also feel out of balance. I’ll look like Branch from Trolls.

Copyright Dreamworks.

That was another hard fought lesson for me. I’ve gone back and forth with work since becoming a mom. I think we all probably do. I’ve learned that I’m in harmony when my family comes first but I am also doing work that lights me up.

The other part of finances for me is security. Dave Ramsey says women like to feel secure when it comes to finances and he is right. It’s like the day when I go grocery shopping and my pantry is full and my fridge is full, I feel SO GOOD. How weird is that? Like, I can go to the grocery store any day. For some reason, having loads of food at home, ready to nourish my family makes me feel secure!

And so it is with my finances. When money is out of whack, I feel out of harmony. On the contrary, when we know where our money is going and those places are in alignment with our family goals, I feel good!

So those are my elements of harmony (we typically hear this as “balance” these days).

What are yours? Did any of that ring true for you too?

If you liked this post, please comment & share!

Attempting to achieve harmony without systems is futile. Listen to me as a recovering stubborn system refuser. I’ll be leading 10 women through a 90 day mastermind planning group where we will attempt I get all of that 👆🏻out of heart and into a plan. Join us, it will help you. It’s only for 90 days, what do you have to lose?

Take the frustration out of clean rooms

You know the golden rule? Treat others the way you want to be treated. I’d like to apply that today to our kids and their “clean” rooms. You know what I mean, when they’ve “cleaned” them but they are so not clean. That’s frustrating and it wastes a lot of time, doesn’t it? Not to mention the goodwill that dissipates during this battle.


But you know what? When I’m given a task from someone else, I really like step-by-step directions and clear definition of success, you know what I mean? Like, putting together a kid toy. I need directions AND I need to see what it is supposed to look like when I’m done.

cleanroompngSo, how about we afford the came courtesy to our kiddos? I’ve got this cool checklist for you to download. Here’s what I recommend:

Clean the room so it’s “mom clean.” Take photos. Print this checklist and those photos. Tape or glue the photos to the checklist and then post it in your kiddos room. Explain what each of the reminders are along with how the picture shows them exactly when they’ve achieved a clean room.

This is a great way to empower your kids. It gives them all the tools they need, it gives them clear steps on how to win. But it also puts the responsibility on them. So long as you don’t give in and require the full level of clean to be achieved before they’re done (hello, that’s more time to drink coffee uninterrupted mama, you can do this!) you’ll train them. If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll buck the system at first. It might take them forever to do it like my son. Eventually, through the years I’ve encouraged him so he knows he has all the power here. He’s in charge of how well and how quickly he cleans his room. How well and how quickly determines what he can do next. And no one controls those things except him. THAT is what I mean by empower.

Moreover, this is just another habit we want to send them out into the world with. We want to empower them so when we go to their homes in the future we’re not stepping over things as we walk in the door, you know what I mean?

I think we often think our kids know what we expect but we haven’t laid it out as clearly or explicitly or taken the time to actually teach them properly the first time. For example, the other day Chris was on Zach about the way he was cleaning the glass door. I told him, “I don’t think we’ve ever actually shown him how to clean a glass door.” I think we vague told him how maybe. And he’s been doing it for years. But then we took the time to truly teach him. And now he’s empowered, there’s no question! And our investment will pay off in clean glass doors!

The same thing happens when it comes to clean rooms. We say, “Clean your room!” We say, “Your room’s not clean.” We might even give a few specifics. But, I like all of the steps and a clear definition of success when I’m doing something. Why not do the same for the kiddos?

Get the checklist here!


The morning after I gave the lists to the kids and explained them a bit the kids almost TOTALLY nailed it. I was so impressed!

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10 ways to encourage your child

I’m so excited to be running my first group of ladies through my 4Es Journal for Moms. The 4Es are Embrace, Encourage, Empower and Enjoy. That’s the good stuff about motherhood!

Today in the group we’re talking about Encouraging our children. With that in mind I want to chat with you about 10 ways to encourage your child:

  1. Praise hard work. As in praise effort, not just success or natural ability.
    1. You’re working really hard on this project.
    2. Not everyone can run as fast, but not everyone is trying as hard as you either.
  2. Tell them something you’re grateful for about them.
    1. I’m so grateful that you are such a good hugger. It makes me feel all ooey gooey inside.
    2. I’m so grateful you are so funny. You always make me laugh.
  3. Express what you find unique about them.
    1. The fact that you love math is neat. Sometimes I wish I could love it like you.
    2. Your drawings are so creative and colorful, not everyone has an imagination like that.
  4. Positively reinforce good decisions.
    1. I am so proud that you did your chores without me asking!
    2. Thank you for coming right inside when I called you. I was so relieved I didn’t have to say it more than once.
  5. Get specific: tell them WHY & HOW what they did was good, smart or creative, not just that it was those things.
    1. Not everyone would have thought to write a letter to their friend to make them feel better. Your kind heart is somethign really special about you.
    2. The fact that you set up that tent shows you have a brain that can solve problems and figure out hard puzzles. Sometimes people give up when it gets hard, but you didn’t!
  6. Encourage the process, not just after it’s complete. Give praise that is not contingent on results or completion.
    1. I know it’s taking you weeks to learn how to do a cartwheel. I’m really proud of you for sticking with it.
    2. No matter what happens at the science fair, I think it’s really cool that you had this idea and wanted to share it with others.
  7. Set goals with them and encourage each milestone.
    1. If you save up $20 you can buy those cards. How long will that take you? Can you save $5 a month? Wow! You have earned $10 so far, you’re half way to your goals.
    2. You can learn that routine in one month if you practice for 10 minutes each day.
  8.  Remind them of how far they’ve come.
    1. Remember how you used to think running was so hard? Now you can run an entire mile without stopping!
    2. Remember when you could only sound out letters and now you can read this entire book!
  9. Imagine their future with them and relate it to why what they’re doing now is important.
    1. Won’t it be so cool when you can read your favorite books by yourself whenever you want? That’s why we are studying these words now!
    2. Won’t it be cool to be able to swim with the big kids this summer? That’s why working hard at these swim lessons really matters.
  10. Tell them how what they’ve done has impacted others.
    1. You being such a good girl at brushing your teeth has made your sister want to brush her teeth too. Now she’ll have good habits and probably not get cavities, all because of you!
    2. When you gave Daddy a hug before he left, it really made him feel loved before he goes for a hard day’s work.


What are some examples you can implement in your life right now?

31445095_861761277336983_3352419203721199616_oIf you’d like to order a copy of my journal, click here!


Teaching kids personal autonomy

Have you ever seen one of those Facebook posts where people brag about their childhood? You know, the ones that brag about how the streetlights were the curfew, garden hose the water fountain, how bikes were ridden without helmets and how dirty the childhoods of yore were?

When I see those posts I remember my childhood fondly. Then I get tad bit sad. And I wonder if all of these people who brag about their childhood are giving the same childhood to the next generation.

Childhood these days is so wrapped up in control, busyness and being germ free it seems all but impossible to give our children the same experience we had. In some ways, maybe we’ve improved. In other ways we’ve set them up for failure.

Personal autonomy is the capacity to decide for oneself and pursue a course of action in one’s life.

When we bubble our kids in so many rules, activities and safeguards, they aren’t able to exercise their own decision making skills. That’s a bummer because they’re going to need those skills a lot as adults. They need the space away from our grasp to make their own decisions and grow their own character.

When they don’t have those skills, they end up back home. When they don’t have those skills, they end up rethinking or overthinking every decision they do make as adults. They end up with low confidence. With anxiety.

A little independence goes a long way. A little room to grow into a confident adult will pay dividends.

I know you’re thinking about all the ways you try to reinforce personal autonomy in the lives of your kiddos. Or maybe you’re thinking about the ways your parents did the same for you. Put those in the comments below, let’s share ideas and help each other out!

I know my parents “let” me walk to school and the bus stop, even in elementary school. And they were blocks away. I am trying to balance the joy of going to the bus stop with my kids with this idea.

I know my parents had “fend for yourself” dinners. And weekend lunches. A lot. Sometimes I let my older kids make their own dinner. They also meal prep their lunches and get to pick whatever they want (to my nutrition shame) at school lunch on Fridays.

The other day I wanted to let my daughter buy the envelopes she needed to send a book she made for her grandmas. It was part of a whole lesson on entrepreneurship. The lady was so shocked a kid would do such a thing, I guess, and she wouldn’t even let her check out! It was interesting. She was my generation. At the post office we had a different experience. That lady was on it, totally played into the lesson. She was from my Nana’s generation.

Those are just a small few, but I think it’s great to be intentional about this. Tell me your ideas!

Applying the bible to your kiddos

TWO years ago one of my awesome tribe members recommended an awesome book to me. When doing so, she summarized some of the key takeaways for me (how nice of her).

One thing she impressed upon me was selecting a life verse for my kiddos. It was a quite a revelation to me. I’m always looking for ways to dig a little deeper spiritually. But I’m not into lip service, gimmicks or legalistic stuff so that can be hard to come by.

When she suggested this to me I’d just come off a year of beginning to discover who my children were as individuals. In the whirlwind of three kids, it started out as a matter of keeping them alive. Once that was handled, and the other areas of my life improved and therefore offered more clarity…I was able to really take note of these little people I was raising. They are very different, yet you can tell they are children of mine. And my husbands. Woowee, kids make exceptional little mirrors don’t they?

Fast forward a YEAR AND A HALF. God has dropped ENOUGH hints that I need to read The Circle Maker. Yes, it took me a year and a half. And soon I will write the amazing, ONLY GOD story that came from reading and putting that book into practice. It’s really…incredible. #spoileralert. In fact, I’ve now committed to giving that book away once a year for the rest of my life. That’s not MUCH, but it is a small return to the author and for God to work in other people’s lives.

In this book, Circle Maker, Mark Batterson teaches us a powerful way to pray. One of the main ideas is that scriptures are PROMISES. He also identifies the need to circle around, be consistent, be persistent these prayers.

The idea, for me, the imperfect, making-it-up-as-I-go-along Mom I am was to find a scripture in the bible that I wanted to pray over each kid separately (I have one for the family as a whole). I wanted it to be specific for what I see in them as their mother. This in and of itself is kind of a gut check. I don’t often see myself as an authority on my children. No really, I have these mixed emotions of being TOO CLOSE to see along with having that self-doubt WE ALL share. I feel that God wants me to step more confidently in my motherhood. To OWN it, not just try hard. To TRUST in my discernment, in my wisdom, that of course I’m looking to him for.

So, for me to say, THUSLY CHILD I HAVE CHOSETH A SCRIPTURE FORETH THOU was a big deal for me. I’m not a life-long church goer. I have no idea. I’m not a lifelong mom or knower-of-children. And yet. I felt this was something I really wanted to do.

I felt it SO MUCH, I waited two years to do it. HAH!

This past weekend, God gave us a cool, crisp, sunny morning where I was somehow able to sit on the porch, uninterrupted, AFTER A NICE RUN, to read through my Bible, research, pray and think.


This concept goes along with the idea I advocate that you don’t build a house without a blueprint and you certainly don’t want to build up children that way. You want something for your kids as a whole, don’t you? And you see individual things in each of them, don’t you?

If you ADD the POWER of prayer using the POWER of God’s word to that…I just don’t know. It’s kind of mindblowing. And at the very least, it sounds like a good idea.

So, without further ado (was there any ado?)…here we have it.

Zachary is my special little guy. He is REALLY smart. His brain moves faster than he really knows how to handle. I know God is going to use that in awesome ways.


I know he is going to be successful. He’s a first born, he LIKES school, he is so loving and sweet. He’s also an incredible smarty pants. What I want for him is wisdom. I want WISDOM to go along with that intellect and quick wit. I want strength to balance it out as well. Look at this amazing promise God has for my little guy.


The plan is to pray this over him every day. I am also having him say it as an affirmation. I believe in the power of both, especially when it comes from God’s word.

Then there is my little Melanie. Melanie has a HUGE heart. HUGE. She is 100% eager to help anyone, anytime. She is also a people pleaser. She has a bit of that middle child syndrome. She wants people to like her and I see her adjusting what she wants to do or what she likes in order to appease others…so that they will like her. It makes me catch my breath because she really is a remarkable little lady. She has so much energy, she makes me laugh, she is super competitive, she loves learning, she is always up for anything…she has SUCH A UNIQUE IDENTITY.


That’s her heart, that’s who she is. I don’t want her changing or conforming to appease others. At one point she asked me if (name has been removed to protect identity of a cute little 5 year old-boys are boys y’all) was going to be her husband. I said, “Is _____ nice to you?” She said no. It broke my heart. HONEY! You will have your choice of amazing men if you focus on being an amazing you. You certainly don’t have to marry someone or be friends with someone who isn’t nice to you!

I want her to guard her heart, be who she is, KNOW who she is and everything else will flow from that.


It’s a lifelong lesson I can see I’m set up for teaching her. If I can do a good job, I can’t even imagine the things she’ll accomplish. If I can truly teach her her own worth and that she’s awesome the way God made her, then I will be happy.

Then there’s my little Ayla bean. When I read hers, I caught my breath. I knew instantly it was her verse!


Ayla won’t need a lot of help. I’m not saying that to be mean. I’m saying that because she’s number 3. She was the last of the great Shana-as-mom experiences and I think I did pretty well this time around. Plus, #3s are pretty much known to be firecrackers. She is still developing into who she’s gonna be but as for now I know she is unstoppable, she commands love and attention and she LOVES to entertain others.


She has been praying since she could talk and she loves to tell me, “It’s okay Mom, Jesus is amazing.” What else I know about her is she’s a Sunshine State kid born at 12:08 am. She has had an issue falling her entire young life and had to wear braces on her feet because she wouldn’t want “flat footed.” When I saw her verse, I knew it was a promise I wanted to circle for her, but one I have already seen come to fruition in her short life.

Those are all AMAZING promises for my kiddos right? Why WOULDN’T I want to speak them over them every day? I 100% believe in the power of positive speech. Add some Jesus to it and whoa!

I was a little insecure about Melanie’s though. I wasn’t sure if it was…good enough?

You know what? The day after I did this exercise, the MAIN scripture for the sermon at church was Melanie’s life verse. The entire sermon was the exact intention I had for it for her. It was a nice little God nudge confirming what I needed confirmed. It was incredible. Thank you Jesus.

Then, two days after, I wanted to DO something with these scripture. I’ve made notes, highlighted them. But I want to see them everyday other than my journal. But, WHAT TO DO? I was listening to a podcast with an amazing business woman. She mentioned post it notes. Ding ding ding! Because, First I searched for other images folks have created. Then I considered designing my own. Then I considered getting prints made. I found myself finding all of these ways to prolong the power of these words visually each day.

That’s not what I want! So, we went with post it notes for now. We will begin. Beginning is how you start, then you can make it better!


So now they will stick right there when they grab their bags for the day. (Right below my main #momgoals sign). It’s not fancy, but it’s something.


I’m excited to be adding this to my list. No really. Yes it’s a long list, but MOST of my development, honestly, can be in the mom area. I default to efficient, skill-making and other tasks as a Mom TBH. Getting in the meat like this is something that I have to WORK at. But I have seen the power of adding prayer and scripture to other areas of my life and I feel this is part of my duty as their mama.

What about you? Do you have a life verse? Have you thought about doing this for your children? Have you read Circle Maker? Do you think I’m crazy? Do you want to be crazy too? Do you love those scriptures?

Teaching kids to win with $

We’ve been listening to Dave Ramsey for a while now but we really JUST started following the program recently. Like any other life improvement skills you learn, I think it’s natural to want to teach your children.

I want to launch my kiddos into the world PREPARED for awesomeness. I was taught the value of hard work, earning a living and being *kind of* frugal, not terribly materialistic as a child. But I wasn’t necessarily taught how to “win with money” as Dave says. And I’ve had a lack mindset most of my life, a paycheck to paycheck mindset, a car payment mindset. What’s annoying is we certainly don’t lack. I’ve long been aware of God’s blessing, but it’s just recently that I’ve been able to see it moving to ABUNDANCE.

I want to teach my kids everything I’ve learned before they leave. I want them to be able to be successful with money as they graduate. That requires work and intentionality. Luckily, Dave has laid much of it out. In fact, one of the things that inspires me the most for them is Dave’s Ben. Vs. Arthur example.


My goodness, if we can get our kids started NOW…the implications! Money affects our lives in so many ways…makes us take jobs we might not like, causes us to miss out on certain opportunities…might even cause us to bend our values here and there. Of course, in a relationship, money can be one of THE biggest sources of stress. And, if we teach them now, maybe they won’t be worried about being able to retire like most people I know. Even more, the implications of being able to be generous, to live life with one handful of tranquility and the other hand open with generosity. That is a vision I have for my entire family.


Teaching them these things requires me to be more diligent than I ever could do on my own. They’ve been doing chores and helping around the house since they could walk but I’m not as disciplined about it as I could be. And I’m not that way with paying them either. So, that’ll be part of truly teaching them.

What we’re doing now is a take on Dave’s “work for pay.” Dave wants you pay your kids on commission. As in not an allowance. You get paid when and if you work. If you don’t, you don’t get paid. He has a junior version of FPU you can buy for $25. His goal is for you to teach kids the value of work as well as of money. PS: He also teaches us that there should be some things they’re doing just because they get to live there. We call that family duty. So, for my kiddos that’s going to school and doing their homework, keeping their room clean and their personal hygiene. And things like unloading groceries, helping with their sister and setting the table. Just basic things. Their “chores” are doing the trash and recyclables, kitchen duties, cleaning the bathrooms, laundry and cleaning out the car. They can earn an extra quarter by doing certain yardwork or if their dad or I need extra help with something.

We decided we wanted them to make about $10 a month, so they get $2.50 a week and have the ability to earn more. We have a checklist on the fridge, each chore is worth a certain amount of money. Mine is pretty boring, but check out this one. She did a wonderful job.

We also want to teach them the principles of giving and saving. So, at the beginning of the month, they set aside $1 to give. They set aside $0.50 each week to save. Then they get to do what they want with the rest. My son wants to save every penny and his sister already has it spent before she gets it.

Rachel lays out the basics in this video. In FPU, she says she had a clear container (think cheese balls or pretzels) where she saved cash as a kid. It was a rule and it allowed the Ramsey kids to see their money. I like that idea, and so would my son (especially the eating cheeseballs part). But…

Goodness, that’s a lot of stuff. AND THAT’S NOT EVEN ALL OF IT!

We are fortunate that the local credit union partners with their school. The kids opened a savings account and are able to make deposits every other Friday at their school. They get prizes, deposit slips and general money skills with it and it’s really an awesome program. I am very grateful the bank does that-though I know they have their aims-because it is assisting us. It just happened to line up that they started this school right when we started Ramseying (I’ve made it a verb). I mean…no it didn’t just happen. God happened, am I right?


As far as giving, my church has taught my oldest about tithing pretty well. I also want them to save money to sponsor a child themselves next Christmas. I’ll do an entire thing about…I think it’ll really teach them about giving and generosity.

As I said before, the goal here is to put them out into the world with wisdom! Especially with wisdom that I wish I’d had. By giving them wisdom and requiring discipline now (that’s really the trick to it, isn’t it?) I HOPE they’ll be able to win with money. When we attended our first FPU class and went around the group, nearly every single person said teaching their kids these principles (and the rest of the 7 baby steps) was a huge motivation for them. As it is with us. Dave always says we can “change our family tree.” I think teaching them these things is a BIG BIG part of that. Sure, I hope that we get to step 7 soon and can be outrageously generous. But I REALLY want my kids to be the first ones that don’t worry about money in our family tree. The first ones that don’t panic when someone mentions retirement. The first ones that don’t live paycheck to paycheck for decades. The first ones that don’t see spending less, doing less, abstaining as the only way to make ends meet. I want them to see ways to build wealth, not reduce expenses. I want an abundance mindset that is rooted in faith, discipline, hard work and generosity!


What about you? What are you teaching your kids? What’s working? What doesn’t work? What are your hopes for them?