Grocery Shopping Alternatives for the Busy Mom (or “I Can’t Go to the Store with All My Kids!”)

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Going through those sliding glass doors with all the kids, armed with my shopping list and a well-planned route through the store, can be likened to a “mission impossible”. So, when I come home with all the groceries intact and all the children accounted for, it’s mission accomplished!

But, I admit, there are days when I’m willing to forego the thrill of grocery shopping with the kids because, well … it’s safer to stay home. So, my wonderful husband receives that all-too-familiar text message in the afternoon: “Sweetie, can you stop by the store on your way home? Milk, eggs, bananas, chocolate hazelnut gelato.” (Yes, the gelato is for me … don’t judge.)

Here are 5 more ways to get your grocery shopping done without having to buckle any kid in their car seat.

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Shop When the Husband is Home

If you like to compare prices or do complicated coupon transactions, it’s probably easier for you to do the shopping instead of sending your husband to run that errand. Even though lines tend to get longer at stores in the early evenings and on the weekends, this is usually the best time for me to go by myself because the hubby is home from work.

Shop swap

Do you have a friend in the same predicament? If you and your friend shop at the same store, perhaps you can arrange a swap, as in “I’ll buy your groceries for you while you watch all the kids, and next week, you can shop while I babysit.”

Shop online

Reese, Hacker.
If you want to avoid going out altogether, let’s remember that you’re living in the age of online convenience. Many grocery stores offer a delivery service. I’ve never done this with our local supermarket but have taken advantage of ordering household items on Amazon, where sometimes, the deals are better than what you can find in the store. Not to mention the nice perk of having everything delivered to your door … and even better if you’re an Amazon Prime Member and you have a 2-day free shipping advantage. [affiliate link]

 

Shop and pick-up

Maybe you like the ease of purchasing groceries from your laptop but don’t want to fork out the delivery service fee every time. Some stores have begun launching a curbside pickup option for their customers. A friend of mine has taken advantage of this service at her store. She orders everything online and picks up her items at the designated time. And I thought the Starbucks drive-thru window was a genius idea!

Shop Your Pantry

The best way to avoid going out to the store and save money at the same time is to use up what you have. Look through your pantry. Take inventory of your fridge. Come up with a meal plan using the items you have on hand first, and you may find that it’s not necessary to go to the grocery store after all.

… except to get that gelato. :-)

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If you have kids, how do you get your grocery shopping done?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Thank you for your support! I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Click here for more information on my disclosure.

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Just an Ordinary Day: Books, Baking, and Baby

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I thought I would start another semi-regular series on the blog, giving you a glimpse of an ordinary day in my life.

Now, an ordinary day may not be the most exciting day.
Then again, it may contain a bunch of extraordinary little moments.

It may follow a perfectly planned route (yeah, right).
Or, it may be full of unexpected detours.

It may fit into a nicely outlined blog post.
Or, it may be a hodgepodge of stories called life.

However it turns out, I wanted to document a typical day–the good, the bad, and whatever’s in between. Perhaps in my ordinary day, you will see just another wife and mom, trying to do her best, often failing, but depending on the grace of God every hour. Perhaps you will see someone just like you.

So my ordinary day began like any other day. My baby girl actually had a longer stretch of sleep during the night, so I felt a bit more energized upon waking up … just a bit. And, since it’s summer vacay, the kids have been sleeping in a little … just a little.

I was able to get some alone time, planning out my day and checking email. I was also looking forward to doing my Bible reading, but alas, the first child awoke from dreamland and came into my room. This used to be so frustrating for me, but God has been faithful to free up my time later in the day so I could spend some time with Him. And now, I welcome my kids’ sleepy-eyed faces and even their funky morning breath. A little bit of cuddle time, and we’re off to start our day.

We normally keep going with homeschool during the summer … just a lighter version to keep those wheels turning. But, with the new baby here, it’s taking me some time to get back into school mode. No one’s complaining though, especially since we’re all savoring the time with the newest member of the family.

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The kids have been able to find ways to keep busy. My oldest, Owen, has been working on a book series. He has 12 books already planned out, and he’s currently on Book 3. If he keeps at it, he may finish it all by the summer’s end.

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We also had a huge library haul the other day, so the books are keeping them occupied, especially my daughter JJ. Just a year ago, she had trouble with reading and was so discouraged. But, within the year, she learned how to spread her wings, and she is flying through these chapter books!

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Months ago, my husband picked up a package of dark chocolate/mint chips at a store’s clearance rack after the holidays. I had forgotten about it until now. I took a look at the “best by” date and knew we had some emergency baking to do.

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The Mrs. Field’s cookie cookbook (pictured above) has always been my favorite. I “stole” it from my parents’ house long time ago after I moved out. The butter-stained pages, flour stuck in between, and old pieces of cookie dough that have hardened on the paper just show how well-used this book is.

Baking is one of the main ways that I get to spend time with the kids. Sometimes only one of them will come into the kitchen and ask to help. But given that the plan was to make chocolate chip cookies, they all wanted to help.

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It was nearly time for our quiet hour, but I thought it would be torture to have them wait for their first bite of cookie after all their help in making them. It’s hard enough to wait just the few minutes for the first batch to finish. Pictured below, this has become their favorite spot, waiting and watching the timer count down, after putting something yummy in the oven.

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After dinner, we had movie night, a DVD we picked up from the library. Surprisingly, it wasn’t badly scratched up, and we were able to watch the movie all the way through. Then, some more baby-watching and baby-snuggling that by the time it was lights out, my little Lovey (as we like to call her) was tired of all the wet kisses.

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What are some highlights of your day? Tell me in the comments or if you blogged about it, include the link.

 

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5 Things Daddy Does Better than Mommy

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In an effort to simplify my writing process, I will try (emphasis on the word try) to do a series once a week or every 2 weeks or 3 weeks … ok, I will get to it when I can. Anyway, I will call it “5 Things”. How’s that for open-ended? For each post, I will share 5 of anything that strikes my fancy.

And since Father’s Day is tomorrow, I present to you 5 Things Daddy Does Better than Mommy, as seen through the eyes of my precious children.

1. Building Stuff

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I’m not a handy person, but boy, am I glad I married someone who is! Whether it’s building Lego blocks into something cool or putting together a new deck, Daddy definitely does it better.

2. Cooking

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Though I do most of the cooking around here, Daddy is, hands down, the better cook. Unlike my husband, I’m recipe-dependent, so as long as I have a good recipe on hand, I can put together a decent meal. The father of my children, however, can add a pinch of this and a little of that, and the result is culinary heaven!

Even when Daddy prepares a simple lunch for the kids, they will go on and on about how that’s the best sandwich they’ve ever had. “Wait a minute,” I protest. “Didn’t I just make you the same sandwich the other day?” Honestly, I think he just slaps on an extra layer of Nutella in their peanut butter & Nutella sandwiches.

3. Play-fighting

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Karate, wrestling, and even stick-fighting (yes, this is really a form of martial arts from the Philippines, called Arnis). Daddy does it all! Mommy just nervously looks away, trying not to think about possible trips to the E.R.

4. Driving

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My husband says I drive like a nervous grandma, both hands gripping the steering wheel too tightly, neck tense, and sitting too close to the wheel. So what if I failed my driving test the first time? That was a long time ago. I think I’m a pretty good driver, but according to my kids, Daddy wins this one.

5. Giving Piggy Back Rides

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I have racked up a combined total of 45 months of back-straining, sciatica-producing pregnancy. And once my youngest child outgrows the Baby Bjorn, my kid-carrying days end. Fortunately, Daddy is still strong enough to give piggy back rides.

My kids have done a good job of convincing me … I think I can share the title Super with Daddy. :-)

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How to Keep Nap Time Alive

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Though it was a few years ago, I remember it vividly. On a typical afternoon, I was walking my oldest child of 2 years old to his room for nap time. It couldn’t come any sooner when I could finally have some peace and quiet, but it was abruptly interrupted by a loud crash. My toddler decided that nap time would be play time, as he noisily pulled out toy after toy and scattered them across the floor. And even after my continual reminder that he should stay on his bed, he interpreted that rule as, “Cool! Mommy said I can jump on my bed for the next 2 hours!”

My world, as I knew it, came tumbling down. What would I do without that 2 to 3 hour window of time that I needed just to get through the last part of an already exhausting day?

Have you found yourself in the midst of this sleep war with your toddler? Stand your ground, tired Mama! You don’t have to give up. Here’s how you can keep nap time alive.

Give It a New Name

Some kids just want to declare themselves “too old for naps”. But you know better. Like my 4-year-old … he’ll try to stay awake, but by the end of the hour, he’s often dead asleep. So, call it something else, like “rest time” or “quiet hour”.

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Establish Some Rules

Calling it “quiet hour” but allowing the kids to jump on their beds is a surefire way to multiply your gray hairs … so set some clear boundaries. For children that don’t need to sleep, you can allow them to do some quiet activities on their beds. Books are a no-brainer or maybe having a couple of action figures. One of my sons brings his phonics workbook and does a few pages. Over-achiever, I know.

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Take Baby Steps

You may be anticipating some fierce resistance, but don’t back down too quickly. Perhaps start with 20 minutes and increase a bit each day until your child can handle one hour of quiet time.

I’ve set one hour for 3 reasons (but you can determine what’s best for you and your kids):
1. It takes about this long for the most stubborn nap fighter to finally go down.
2. It’s not torturously long for my older kids, who clearly no longer need naps.
3. It’s just enough time for me to cook dinner, do some light chores, or take a nap myself.

Is your child showing signs of outgrowing naps?

What are some obstacles you face in maintaining a nap time routine?

 

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StickerKid Labels {Product Review and Giveaway!}

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In our family of 7, we go through quite a number of dishes on a given day. In an effort to minimize the pile that builds up in my sink, I implemented the one-cup rule. That is, each person gets one cup to use per day. Since the beverage of choice for the kids and me is usually water, I didn’t see the need to use a different cup with each meal and snack.

Doesn’t sound too complicated, right? Until I hear from the kitchen, “Mommy, what color was my cup again?” or “Ewww, you just drank from my cup!” Masking tape to the rescue!

But the tape didn’t always adhere to wet or cold things. This is the cup after it went through the dishwasher.

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There’s a better and more fun way to label the kids’ cups as well as their other belongings!

StickerKid specializes in durable labels and stickers to solve your children’s “stuff” problem. We were excited to receive some of their products to try out. [affiliate link]

Their labels come in a variety of sizes. They are also water-resistant and safe in the dishwasher, microwave, washer/dryer, and freezer. And, you can personalize them with your own message, color, and icon.

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So, as you would expect, when we received our stickers in the mail, the first items we tried them on were those cups. My kids gave them 5 stars for the cuteness and fun factor. And this Mommy gave the stickers a happy thumbs up for passing the dishwasher test.

I’ve tested them out in the microwave and freezer as well, and there are no signs of peeling. The iron-on labels for clothing (unfortunately, we didn’t get to try these out) are guaranteed to be washer & dryer safe. Sounds like they thought of everything!

You can find many uses for these labels.

Does your child have a hard time keeping track of his/her things at school? Believe it or not, even though we homeschool, we have this issue too! Is it too early to think about back-to-school shopping? Believe me, this summer will go by fast.

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Will your kid be going to camp this summer? Make sure he comes home with all the things he left with by using these labels.

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Does your child go to a nursery or daycare, where they require you to label all of your child’s belongings?

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So, give your kids a fun, little incentive to keep track of their things. Go to StickerKid and start personalizing their labels today. Use coupon code US29BL1136 to get an extra 5% off your order! [affiliate link]

But there’s more!

StickerKid is giving away a $20 credit + free shipping!

To enter, just “like” their Facebook page. This will unlock 3 more ways to enter to increase your chances of winning.

Giveaway will end on Tuesday, June 30th. Click below to enter!

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Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored giveaway.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Click here for more information on my disclosure.

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The Power of a Smile

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Going to the store with four children in tow is not an easy feat for this mother, but sometimes, I do what I have to do. One place we visit on occasion is our local warehouse store, Costco. Before we leave the warehouse, there is an employee stationed near the exit, checking everyone’s purchases and receipt. Believe it or not, this part of our trip is a highlight for my kids. I’m being serious … they will sometimes fight over who gets to hand the receipt to the “checker”. Why all the competition over this seemingly mundane task?

Because they want to be the recipient of the smile.

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Some employee must have been bored one day or just in a good mood, and started drawing happy faces on everyone’s receipts. Well, this simple gesture apparently caught on because almost every receipt checker at our store does this. (I did notice that this only occurs when I’m with my kids, though.) Whether this is a company-wide policy or it only happens at our store, I’m not sure, but it certainly makes my children happy. What is it about a smile?

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To be honest with you, I don’t have a naturally smiley face. My natural, just-walking-down-the-street facial expression may be interpreted as sad, mad, or serious. I sometimes have to work at displaying a more pleasant countenance. But I’ve seen how a smile can, not only turn my day around, but someone else’s as well.

Have you ever smiled at the cashier, who was clearly having a rough day? I used to work in a large movie theater, and when people were late for the show, they were not too happy about waiting around in long lines. The few patrons, who took the time to smile and say “thank you” brought some peace to the chaotic rush of opening weekends.

Compared to my brief career in the movies, my days as a homeschooling mom are more busy than ever. And when I’m busy, I forget to smile. My children are great about reminding me, whether directly or indirectly, by their silliness and funny commentaries.

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Did you know that the Bible talks about the power of a sincere smile?

“A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.” (Proverbs 15:13)

“The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones.” (Proverbs 15:30)

Not to be underestimated, that small movement of our facial muscles can lift up the heaviest of burdens. And when my countenance is fueled by my joy in The Lord, I hope the world will see a smiley face. :-)

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Why I Would Rather Be Home With My Kids Than Go Back to My Corporate Job

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After college, I worked in a major brokerage firm in the big city. I was thankful to have a job, but I didn’t love it. I had always hoped that one day I would get married, have kids, stay home with my little ones, and say goodbye to Corporate America.

So when my husband and I decided I would quit after finding out we were expecting, the countdown began.

At the time, one of my co-workers had just returned from maternity leave. I ran into her at the elevator and excitedly said, “Welcome back! You must miss your baby.” Her reply wasn’t at all what I expected.

“Not really. But I missed the guys here.”

“Oh, ok” was the only reply I could come up with, while I thought about the guys she was referring to … a group of salesmen, occupying two rows on the trading floor of our office. Only a file cabinet separated my desk from their space. All day, they talked, belched, flatulated, yelled, and told crude jokes. I was confused. She missed them??

Well, I guess I had a totally different experience from her. Don’t get me wrong … I did work with some nice people. Nevertheless, when I handed in my resignation, I did not look back. I’m thankful that God gave me the opportunity to stay home. Sure, I have crazy days now, but I would still rather be home with my rambunctious kids than go back to my corporate job. And I’ll tell you why.

My kids are way cuter than my co-workers.

imageThat’s good enough for me, but I’ll give you a few more reasons.

My kids watch their language.

I always had to give my ears a good cleaning after a full day of hearing curse words at the office. My kids, on the other hand, look at me in shock if I accidentally say the word “stupid” in front of them.

My kids’ tantrums are more bearable.

When my child throws a temper tantrum, it’s nothing compared to enduring the irrational yelling from a financial broker, who is cursing at you for requiring him to submit more paperwork that the law mandates. Yes, this happened to me a few times.

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I’m sure you can tell this is staged. They would never team up and give me attitude all at the same time. They know better. :-)

My kids face consequences for bad behavior.

If my kids ever speak to me, even with half the disrespect that the guys at the office displayed, they get sent to their room to face the consequences. Unfortunately, at my former job, as long as you made money for the company, rude behavior can be overlooked.

My kids have better hygiene.

Even the most challenging potty-training days were better than being around grown men passing gas without a care who heard or smelled it.

My kids don’t get drunk after hours.

Sure, my kids will get an occasional sugar high and run around like crazy monkeys, but when they finally crash, I get to soak in the peace and calm of watching them sleep so soundly.
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I have plenty of crazy, pull-my-hair, did-I-even-take-a-shower kind of days, but I would still rather be exactly right here. I don’t know if I’ll get to be a stay-at-home-mom forever, but right now, I want to treasure every moment that I have with my kiddies.

 

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8 Must-Do’s Before Delivering Your Baby

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I really try not to procrastinate, but sometimes life just gets very full, and you have to … well, prioritize. That’s a better way of putting it, right?

Historically, I’ve never delivered earlier than a day or two before my due date, but not all pregnancies are created equal. And I knew I was going to have to step it up if I’m going to be ready before this baby decides to come out.

So, I may not have the baby’s clothes for her first year all neatly organized by months in the closet, but I think I have the most essential things covered. If you are expecting, here are 8 things that you should have done before that eventful trip to Labor and Delivery.

1. Get a Car Seat

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Unless you’re having a home birth, make sure you have a car seat and know how to install and use it. I don’t think hospitals will let you leave unless you have one. By the way, in case you didn’t know, car seats have an expiration date. So if you are having baby #2 or #3 or if you are getting a used car seat, check the date.

2. Set Up the Crib

The baby’s room doesn’t have to look like it came out of the pages of a pottery barn catalog. All you really need is a place for baby to sleep in: a crib, bassinet, or playpen.

3. Get Diapers

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Have some diapers on hand, but don’t stock up too much on the smallest size. Some babies outgrow the newborn size very quickly. And if you’re cute bundle is prone to diaper blow-outs, better go a size up.

4. Arrange Childcare

If you have other children, make sure to arrange for someone to watch them while you’re at the hospital. Your next door neighbor may not be ready for an unexpected knock on their door at 3 am because your water broke.

5. Wash Clothes

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You don’t have to have complete matching outfits washed, ironed, and hung. Some newborn onesies, sleepers, and burp clothes will do. Having them washed and ready means one less chore for you to do after you get home from the hospital … because you will not be thinking about chores for a while.

6. Camera Ready

Maybe it’s time to listen to that “storage is full” message on your phone, and clear some space to document a very important event. Bring your charger or extra batteries. You will not want to forget these moments.

7. Pack Your Bags

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Unless you’re at some luxury hospital, all you’re getting from them are ugly hospital gowns and mesh underwear. Include in your packing list a towel, some toiletries, and stretchy clothes for going home (sorry … you probably can’t fit into those pre-pregnancy jeans yet). Also, don’t forget to pack a going-home outfit for your baby.

8. Paperwork Ready

You would probably rather not spend all afternoon navigating through the automated phone menu of your insurance company. But it’s even worse if you have to do this in your hospital room after giving birth. Get all the insurance details for yourself and the baby squared away beforehand. Bringing the necessary paperwork and phone numbers with you to the hospital can save you some headaches.

If you go into labor earlier than expected, you may not want to be scrambling to get things done in between painful contractions, so don’t procrastinate too long. :-)

What other essential things should expectant moms do before the baby’s arrival?

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Lessons from the ICU

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Mother’s Day is this Sunday. Mothers are a peculiar bunch. They love and adore their children one minute, and then scream at them the next. They gush about the joys of motherhood, but have a growing list of woes since giving birth. They give so much sacrificially, but hope for some kind of recognition in return … especially on Mother’s Day.

There was a time in my life, though, when I thought I would not live to see another Mother’s Day or any other day. My son was almost two years old, and my daughter was 5 months.

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It was like any other day. Towards the evening, I felt feverish, but like most moms, a little fever wasn’t enough to halt all household activities. But as the evening drew to a close, the slight fever turned into nausea. It must be the flu, I thought. I spent most of that night hunched over the toilet, vomiting.

The next morning, I thought I would feel better, but I didn’t even have the strength to pick up my daughter. My husband took the day off from work and promptly brought me to the doctor. What I thought would be a quick visit became a day of being wheeled from one hospital department to the next. My last stop was the ICU, where the doctors inserted an IV line in my neck, and shortly after, I was alone in that dimly lit hospital room. Everything happened so quickly.

What just happened? This was only the flu. When a nurse came in to check on me, I could barely speak, but I mustered up the strength to whisper, “Can I go home now?” The reply was not at all what I expected. “I’m afraid you will be here for a while.”

The doctors discovered that I had a serious staph infection, which entered my blood stream and sent my body into septic shock. My body was pumped with fluids and all sorts of antibiotics. During my hospital stay, I wondered if I would see my family again. My husband brought pictures of my precious babies, but it was not enough to kiss and hug those pictures. I longed to hold them again.

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All my typical complaints about sleep deprivation and endless chores seemed insignificant while I laid down in that cold hospital room.

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By God’s mercy and grace, one of the antibiotics worked, and the symptoms of the infection eventually subsided. However, I came home weak and thinner than when I was first admitted to the hospital. Not exactly the weight loss plan I was hoping for.

That experience seems like such a tiny speck in my life, but as I recall those events from 8 years ago, it’s as if they just happened yesterday. Life, of course, went back to normal. And this mother, who once thought she would never see her children again, has settled back into her frequent frustrations with parenting. But, God mercifully brings me back to that hospital room time and time again and reminds me of the precious lessons He taught me there. I will always remember …

  • That our next breath is not guaranteed to us.

“… you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)

  • That celebrations, like Mother’s Day, are reminders that everyday ought to be spent in continual rejoicing.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)

  • And, that my children truly are precious gifts from my Lord.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127:3)

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