Christmas Traditions

We kept our December meeting nice and simple, which felt great during this very busy season of the year. We love every minute of MOPS meetings, but we sometimes have to rush through our crafts without giving the paint or the glue time to dry! Or, we have to finish up that last sip of coffee or savor that last moment of adult conversation before we pick up the kids from the nursery.

Today, though, our craft was nice and easy–but still lovely. We filled glass ornaments with feathers and wrote the year and our initials on them.

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Our conversation topic was Holiday Traditions . . . especially traditions other than that pesky Elf on the Shelf! Here are some of our ideas and traditions:

  • Going to Sam’s, filling a grocery cart, and donating all the food to the NWA Food Bank
  • Going to Silver Dollar City
  • Buying everyone in the family brand new pajamas to wear on Christmas Eve after church
  • Giving half of our toys away a few weeks before Christmas
  • Putting up a nativity set, but placing the three wise men together around the house and moving them every few days as they journey to see Jesus
  • Filling Operation Christmas Child boxes
  • Shopping at the Little Craft Show

Several of our moms fill the pockets of an Advent calendar with activities for each day of December up until Christmas. The activities are a mix of simple fun, giving to others, and bonding together. Here are some great examples of Advent calendar activities:

  • Donate dog food to an animal shelter
  • Tell everyone in the family why you love them
  • Buy a toy to donate to Toys for Tots
  • Eat a candy cane and drink hot chocolate

Some moms also put Bible verses or a piece from a nativity set in the pocket to help tell the Christmas story throughout the month.

We are especially thankful at Christmas for the workers who take care of our Mopettes during our meetings, and we pitched in to get them a thank-you gift. Of course, some of our kids insist on staying with their mamas instead of going to the nursery, like these two sweet girls:

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All in all, today’s meeting helped us slow down and discover how to be intentional about having a meaningful Christmas season.

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4, 3, 2, 1 . . . Mothers’ Night Out!

Four of us MOPS ladies met up this month for a Mother’s Night Out at one of Fayetteville’s newest restaurants, Wood Stone Craft Pizza. We each left a different number of kiddos home with their daddies tonight: one of us has 4 kids, one has 3, one has 2, and one has 1. No matter how many kids we had, we probably all counted down the minutes until our fun night: 4, 3, 2, 1 . . . !

Although we didn’t get our picture taken, we all looked great :) We did snap a picture of the pizza, which looked (and tasted) amazing.

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Two salads and two pizzas were perfect for our party of four. We especially liked the pizza pictured on the bottom, called the Bloomington. We’ll probably all be back soon, but probably not soon enough!

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Pumpkins and Playtime

We celebrated Fall today by making pumpkins. Both the moms and the “Mopettes” (our kids) made pumpkins using different materials. Although it’s not always easy to tell whether my crafts were made by me or my two-year-old, I’ll let you guess who made which of these pumpkins:

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Our speaker today, Marie Vukin from Project Play, was absolutely fantastic. She had so many great ideas for playing with our kids. For example, Marie made a beautiful Memory Bowl that she filled with lots of family artifacts. She rotates the items in and out so the bowl is never too full. At bedtime, her kids get to choose one item, and Marie tells them the story that goes with it. Here she is holding a first-birthday candle that she keeps in the purple Memory Bowl:

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Marie told us the story of that candle, which involved going to a lot of bakeries in Germany trying to get a cake for her child!

We couldn’t keep up with all of Marie’s ideas and suggestions, but the biggest takeaway was simply to make time for play. Even a 10-minute, mini-play date is so helpful for our kids. Marie also designs the pre-school play dates at Crystal Bridges, and she’s teaching a series of Kreative Kids classes right here in Fayetteville. The classes are for kids ages 3-5 to take with a parent. She’s letting me enroll with my 2-year-old, though 😉 I can’t wait to learn more from Marie.


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To Tell the Truth

How many cups of coffee does it take to get our year off to a good start??  We MOPS moms are great at getting our fluids, apparently.  Check out all those cups on the table:

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Of course, the real fuel that charges us up is a smile like that little guy is giving us.  It’s always good to see familiar smiling faces at the start of the year!

But even with familiar faces, so much seemed new and different today.  For one thing, everyone’s kids have grown so much over the summer!  Some are taller, some are chunkier, all are changing right before our eyes.

Also, we got to learn new things about familiar friends (and new friends!) by playing the game “Two Truths and a Lie.”  Here are some interesting truths about the moms in our group:

  • One is the niece of a famous pro golfer.
  • One has sung in the world’s largest church (in Seoul, Korea).
  • One has two sets of twins for siblings.

Who knew???

We had other opportunities to tell the truth during our conversation time.  We each shared one thing we are rocking as moms, and another thing that we need advice on.  Here’s what we are awesome at:

  • Having a 2-yr-old with sweet manners, who says “please” and “thank you” . . . and “excuse you” when Daddy burps :)
  • Saying “yes” to more things, even when they require energy or are messy, like playing with play-dough.
  • Giving a 3.5-yr-old greater independence.
  • Helping kids have a good bedtime and encouraging them to eat different foods.

When we shared our struggles, several moms had great advice.  For example, some moms have helped their picky eaters by showing them veggie-eating episodes of “Daniel Tiger,” or by setting out a tray with a variety of foods that the kids can graze on.  When it comes to kids who have an almost inexhaustible list of questions (“Why did God make birthdays?”, “Where do shoes come from?”, “Why do moms where bras?”), we don’t have to provide answers ourselves.  We can look things up on google or do research in other ways with our kids, showing them how to investigate their questions.

Our group didn’t have advice for every struggle, but we could definitely offer sympathy!  Sometimes that shared understanding is even better than specific suggestions.

Today’s speaker told us some things about Tri Cycle Farms, which is right across the street from Trinity United Methodist Church, where we meet.  It’s great to know about this hidden gem of a garden.  This Saturday, they are having a Pesto Fest from 4-9, with the first two hours geared toward kids.

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Like many of our MOPS speakers–and like MOPS in general–she inspired us to break out of the rut of staying home or sticking to our nuclear families.  We’re all looking forward to a year of new friends and new adventures in a community where it’s totally okay to tell the truth.

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Online Registration for MOPS

We kicking off a new year for MOPS at Trinity United Methodist in Fayetteville.
Click here to register.

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Stay Tuned . . .

The MOPS Steering Committee met today!  We plotted a year full of fun, reflection, crafts, relationships, and more.

We can’t wait to see each other again and to meet the new moms who will join us.

Oh, and we really really can’t wait to meet at least one new baby :)

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May Munchies

We don’t usually post food photos on the MOPS blog, but rest assured: We have a great breakfast spread at our meetings.  Today we tried something new for breakfast, though.

Quinoa, jazzed up with a hint of cardamom.

Quinoa, jazzed up with a hint of cardamom.

Our speaker today was Deborah Keazer from Root Family Health Coaching.  She gave us tips on how to serve our families healthy and frugal meals.

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One of her tips was to simplify menu planning by just choosing 4-5 things to make in a week.  You don’t have to assign them to a day–just have the ingredients on hand.  Some should be easy to prepare and others can be a little more difficult.  You just make the more difficult ones when you have time to cook.

Another tip: The frozen tamales at Ozark Natural Foods are healthy and delicious.

For our craft, we assembled boxes of activities that we hope will keep our kids busy on long car trips.

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Speaking of things that are long and seem endless, summer is almost here and we’ll miss seeing our MOPS moms!  Thankfully, we still have play-dates and Mother’s Nights Out from time to time to tide us over until September.

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Best Spring Ever

Worst. Winter. Ever.

That’s what most Fayetteville parents have to say about Dec-Mar 2014!  Schools were closed, roads were iced over, and our poor kids were stuck indoors for days on end.  We are sooooo excited to see spring.

Easter is almost here, so we stuffed Easter eggs for the church Easter-egg hunt.  The Trinity United Methodist Church where we meet is having an egg hunt with a spiritual message . . . not just bunnies and candy!  As you can see, kids can open these eggs and find the good news that Jesus Lives:

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Our speaker today brought all kinds of fun ideas for getting outside and gardening with our kids.  The easiest way to get them interested in growing things is by going to the Little Sprouts programs at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks.  We also got handouts on activities like growing a sprout in a plastic bag or a cup.

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Even us moms who aren’t big gardeners will probably jump at every chance to get outside with our little ones.  It was great to be reminded of all the wonderful ways that our city encourages us to get into the soil.

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Barre3–Photos Banned! (Almost.)

It’s really, really tough to find time for exercise when you have little kids.  Today we got some great advice from Megan Hurley, the owner of our local barre3 studio.

Some of us have worked out at the studio before.  Others have used the online workout videos that let you squeeze in even just a 10-minute session while dinner is in the oven (or the microwave!).

Megan led us through a 10-minute workout that had our muscles quivering.  It’s amazing that just a small bit of exercise could challenge us!

Megan has two young kids of her own, ages 1 and 3.  She gave us some great mom-to-mom tips for staying in shape

  • Move all day
  • Find what your body loves to do–and do it!
  • Find your accountability style–whether it’s working out with a friend, blogging or Facebooking your workouts, checking off days on the calendar when you exercised, etc.

For obvious reasons, we don’t have any photos of us doing the exercise moves.  Instead, we have a photo of us with the lovely and inspiring Megan.

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Will You Be Our Valentine?

Today’s meeting was all about love . . . and potty training.

First, we each took the coins out of our pockets or purses.  Then, we had to come up with a date idea that would cost us no more than the change we had on us!  That was tough.  We mostly came up with things that were free:

  • A walk or a bike ride on the Fayetteville trails
  • A trip to Crystal Bridges
  • A free concert at the Botanical Gardens, Gulley Park, or a church

We also spent time making Valentines for our loved ones.

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We were also fortunate because our fantastic MOPS president had won a house party for pull-ups.  She shared some pretty nifty products with us, like this potty training chart.

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Ah, the things we do for the people we love!

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