Crafts of the Year

This year, we decided to alternate meetings with speakers and meetings with crafts. It always did feel a little uncomfortable to be cutting and pasting while someone was trying to talk to us about something! Now we can focus on either our speaker or on the craft at hand.

So far, we’ve made sets of coasters that work as great gifts, especially when customized with pictures of our kids.

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Another fun craft was a Valentine’s Day decoration. The more buttons, the better! We like our hearts to be FULL.

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Annual Cookie Photo

Well, we failed to get a photo of all the moms this Christmas, but we did get a portrait of our delicious creations. Excuse the wine glasses.

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Mama Bears

Our speaker this fall introduced us to all kinds of gear for keeping ourselves safe. Who knew that pepper spray could be such a cute accessory??

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This glove with a small can of pepper spray would be great for walking or jogging on a wooded trail:

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Our speaker reminded us that one of our best defensive weapons is our intuition and our sense of confidence. We walked out of there feeling like tougher mamas!

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Mom’s Night Out: San Lio

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We had a last-minute change of venue for Mom’s Night Out when we found out that Cantina had closed. We decided to try a new Chinese restaurant, San Lio, on Dickson Street.

It’s hard to tell, but the appetizer pictured above is eggplant chips. They were a first for most of us, and quite delicious! Who knew?

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Welcome Back!

We had a great kick-off meeting in September to prepare for the MOPS year ahead. I always love the mix of old friends and new at our first meeting of the year. We always miss the moms whose kids have started kindergarten, but it’s also fun to welcome new moms or moms who have just moved to Fayetteville.

This year, we’re talking about starting a book club in addition to our Moms Night Out and Play Dates. We put several dates on the calendar of things to look forward to.

And, we had a great brunch, as usual!

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Of Moms and Money

Maybe it was the time change, but most of us were running behind today. Fortunately in MOPS, there is no shame in showing up late! Everyone understands. Although . . . we’re especially understanding if you show up late bearing goodies like this:

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(A mom of four made this banana bread, by the way!)

We were still playing our ice-breaker game when our guest speaker showed up, but he was a really good sport and joined in. He’s the father of two little boys (2.5 yrs & 3 mos) and husband of a SAHM, so he fit right in . . . even if he was wearing a suit :)

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Stephen Spicer is a Certified Financial Planner. Sometimes it’s hard for us to think about money matters beyond paying bills and buying groceries. It’s also really hard to think about tragedies that could affect our families. But by investing a little time thinking about protecting our families financially, hopefully we can bring ourselves a little more peace of mind.

We spent most of our time talking about managing risks, especially by updating our disability income-protection and life insurance. For those of us who aren’t the primary wage-earners in our households, it’s sometimes easy to underestimate how much we contribute to our families. But it’s important for even married SAHM’s to have life insurance, so that, if something happened to us, our partners would have the freedom to work less or not at all and put our kids’ needs first.

The important thing is to focus on what gives you peace of mind now and what you would want for your family no matter what happened to you. If we take care of these things now, we don’t have to dwell on them, and we can enjoy every precious moment that life sends us all the more.

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Trivia Night at Smitty’s Garage

We all pooled our knowledge and gave Trivia Night our best shot for Moms’ Night Out this month. Our team name was MOPS Moms.

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Our final scorecard shows that we came in 13th place. What it doesn’t show is that there were at least 16 teams, so we didn’t come in last! Of course, just getting out of the house was a victory in itself. At least two of us were posting on FB that we’d be there soon while we were nursing our babies to sleep.

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Blogging Mamas

(Appropriately enough, I’m writing this post with an 8-month-old baby girl playing on my lap!)

Our guest speaker today was Jacqueline Presley, who started her blog Creative Outpour when her first child was born. She eventually leveraged that blog experience into some great part-time work as Social Media Manager for Oh Baby Foods. Today, she works about 15 hours per week, and her youngest child is 3.

Jacqueline had some great practical advice for those of us considering ways to add a little income to our families, especially through blogging:

  • Connect with groups like Arkansas Women Bloggers or NWA Bloggers so you can learn from each other
  • Watch YouTube tutorials and teach yourself design, editing, etc.
  • Use Pic Monkey to edit photos
  • Earn revenue through Collective Bias and Social Fabric
  • Have “play” dates with other work-from-home moms. The kids play and the mamas get some work done!

More important than these practical tips, though, were the principles that Jacqueline shared. It seems like two things make this type of working work for her. First, have a clear sense of your priorities as a mom. If you know your priorities, you have an easier time setting limits and boundaries and continuing to put first things first. 

But even when you know your priorities, it can still be hard to tell your boss “no” or just feel like you’re not going all-out for a project or assignment. That’s where the second principle comes in: Have a clear sense of God as our provider. Instead of grasping at every opportunity or fearing that something will dry up, we should trust God to give us all that we need.

Overall, it was great to hear about how we all keep our priorities clear as moms and as children of God.

Since it’s almost Valentine’s Day, we also spent time talking about how we strengthen our relationships during this season of having small children. Like last February, our crafts were Valentines for the ones we love.

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Good Old-Fashioned MOPS

Today’s meeting started with a blast from the past, courtesy of a guest speaker from the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. She showed photographs and told stories about the many women who were mamas in the Ozarks just like us. We heard about a mother whose intuition helped her save a daughter who’d been paralyzed from polio, a mother who had twins that people came from miles around and lined up just to see and hold, and a mother who got tears in her eyes when she remembered how her firstborn of six children got his name . . . or her name. I’m not sure whether “Duell” was a boy or a girl!

The talk reminded us to take and preserve photographs of the precious and fleeting moments in our lives with our children. The speaker advised us to write on our photographs in pencil rather than ink and to identify the people in the photographs for future generations. She also reminded us that simple snapshots are sometimes more precious to later generations than formal portraits are.

Here are some glimpses from the presentation:

What mothers of preschoolers looked like a century ago.

What mothers of preschoolers looked like a century ago.

Check out that beautiful baby carriage! And I thought my B.O.B. was fancy . . .

Check out that beautiful baby carriage! And I thought my B.O.B. was fancy . . .

Casual snapshots are rarer than formal portraits from the past, but sometimes they capture moments so much better.

Casual snapshots are rarer than formal portraits from the past, but sometimes they capture moments so much better.

This man is visiting his mama while on leave from WWII.

This man is visiting his mama while on leave from WWII.

FYI, if you need some unique baby name ideas, look no further than these photographs. Some examples: Ona, Oleta, Cora Belle, and Eula. Also, twins named Ronald and Conald. Seriously.

For our craft today, we assembled Friendship Soup. Everyone brought a soup ingredient to put in a mason jar, and we attached cooking instructions on the outside. This soup just might save the day for someone if it’s too cold and icy to go out for groceries this winter!

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We wrapped up our meeting by scheduling a play date and a Mothers’ Night Out for the month. We’ll be heading to Brick by Brick with the kids one morning and to Smitty’s Garage for dinner and trivia one evening. Check our Facebook group for dates and times.

This Mopette definitely has all the important dates on her calendar:

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Perhaps we should elect her to be our event planner for the year! Or maybe we should wait until she’s at least three :)

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Another Year Passes

And now for my husband’s favorite MOPS event of the year: our Christmas cookie exchange! I always come home with a plate full of incredible treats, and this year was no exception:

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(Don’t they look delicious??)

The cookie exchange in 2012 was the first MOPS event that I ever went to (besides my first meeting). It was also my first night out since my first child was born. I had a great time, but I’m pretty sure this mama left early :)

So much can change in just one year. Four of the moms pictured in 2013 had babies before the 2014 cookie exchange!

Christmas Cookie Exchange 2013.

Christmas Cookie Exchange 2013.

Christmas Cookie Exchange 2014.

Christmas Cookie Exchange 2014.

It’s so great to have traditions to hold on to during the whirlwind seasons of our lives. We also love seeing new friends and old each year. I’ve reassured my husband that the next cookie exchange will be here before we know it.

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