October Activity Calendar

Here is a fun October Activity Calendar provided by MOPS.org!

Use it to spark inspiration for you and your family this month and of course add a few ideas of your own (pumpkin patch, corn maze, pumpkin carving/seed baking, ext…)

Share your great ideas and photos from your excursions this month on our facebook page!
CaptureDownload the October Activity Calendar

Blog: A Beautiful Mess

Hello Bigfork MOPS moms! Well after a summer full of play dates, hot weather, ice cream, swimming, and bees (wow, were there bees this year!)…I am so excited for Fall to be here and a routine to get back in to … Continue reading

Summer Challenge!

A special thanks to Jan for her challenging, helpful, encouraging talk last week! We’ve posted it here for your convenience! Happy summer MOPS! 



This summer, you will be very busy…

You will be:

  • Working more than full-time
  • Teaching, training, leading by example
  • Nurturing a small human or multiple human beings
  • Creating a family culture in which these little humans can thrive
  • Setting limits, explaining “why”, keeping little humans safe and healthy
  • Creating lifetime memories for your children
  • Determining how they will view themselves and how they will approach life

You will busy; I know this because you are a mom.  And you thought the summer might be relaxing?! Being a mom is like running a marathon and training for it at the same time…you really don’t get time off –even in the summer

 About a month ago, I was in the Portland area helping my mom after surgery.  It was a gorgeous late spring day with everything in full bloom. Next to the house is a green space and playground.  As I worked outside, I watched a young mom come and put her young daughter in a child’s swing and sit down in a swing beside her.  The mom talked on her phone for a while, texted and then got up and took a picture of her daughter swinging and sat back down and continued to relate to her phone.  In the half hour that I worked and watched them, the mom hardly took her eyes off of her phone and there were no words exchanged between her and her little one.  They were outside together on a beautiful day and yet they were worlds apart. This is only a snapshot of their whole day. I don’t know anything else about the rest of it, but this picture arrested me and I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

In the “olden” days, when my kids were preschoolers, we had no devices to entertain us or our kids.  It fact, none of  your moms had any of the devices we have now.  The “I”things…Ipod, Ipad, Iphone and others have exploded in the last 10 years as have dvd players, games and apps. I don’t need to tell you that we live in an extraordinary technological age.  It is wonderful in many ways, but it comes also with problems and challenges. With this explosion of technology comes more potential for moms to be distracted away from their kids and more potential to use “devices” to entertain or distract children away from their parents. More, in this case, can mean less.

So in view of this, I’d like encourage you with some ideas and challenge you to keep on excelling as a mom even as we all look forward to summer. I think you are all up to the challenge.  You are good moms and are always learning new ways to be better moms.

Summer of Challenge:

UnplugIntentionally cut down on your use of “devices” when in the company of your family. Don’t be available to everyone all the time. Be available to your family and put everyone else on hold sometimes.  Instead of planning some time “off” of your phone or ipod, try setting aside time to be on and limit that time.  Just say “no” to too much “I” stuff in order to say yes to the little ones who really want your face time.

Connect-Intentionally plan for relating to your kids as persons worthy of your time and attention. {My pet peeve: a friend talking or texting on the phone to someone else when she is spending time with me.  In a similar way, I think children can feel jealous of your time on the phone and conversely, very much valued when they get your full attention.} You are your little one’s favorite attraction.  From birth to about 3, 4 or 5, depending on the child’s personality, children want most to relate to mom…more than toys, other kids or other people-even sometimes dad.  It won’t always be so…this is probably the only time in the life your child that they want to so intensely relate to you.  In ten years, they won’t even want to be seen in the same space with you!  Plan to give full attention to your kids this summer.

Get active and explore with your kids-Intentionally plan to enjoy activities together.   The brain is tripling in size between birth and 3 yrs of age.  Children need lots of multi-dimensional, sensory, tactile and cognitive activities as their brain develops.  The less time on any screen and more real time activities can build in them longer attention spans and more impulse control for success in later life. Studies have shown the negative effects of too much screen time in children and researchers recommend zero screen time for children under 3 years old.  Children need to be exploring, moving, climbing, touching, building, holding, throwing, lifting, drawing, scribbling, smelling, rolling, listening, looking, imagining, creating, running, jumping, hugging, and talking. 

Even in the summer, they need learning activities and they need plenty of your undivided attention.  This is a good time for you to give it to them.

So, I throw out a challenge to unplug and connect this summer with your children.  In order to help with this challenge, I am going give a lot of tried and true ideas for activities. I have used these with my kids or other people’s kids.

Things to do with kids at and around home:

  • The very best stuff for kids in the summer…water, stones, sticks, and dirt! Kids can be entertained with the basic elements of nature.
  • Tub, bucket or bowl of water outside…cups and pitchers and pouring things, things to stir with.  Add soap for even a longer event.  Has the added benefit of calming your child.  (washing dishes, doll clothes)
  • Dirt or sand for digging.  Add cars and trucks if you want.
  • Paint brushes and water…house,car, sidewalk.
  • Hose on car, house, driveway, plants.
  • Squirt bottles of paint on an old sheet hung up
  • Bubbles and fly swatters
  • Sidewalk chalk dipped in water
  • Paint clay pots or wooden bird houses, decorate picnic table with paint, paint old furniture outside
  • Tent, sleeping under stars, camping out, and cooking on a camp stove (practice in your yard)
  • Backyard obstacle course
  •  goofy golf course that you set up in your backyard
  • scavenger hunts for natural things
  • collecting stuff in bags on walks
  • Life size giant Candyland board on driveway drawn with chalk, kids are the pieces and draw cards
  • Idea jar for when they say I’m bored or as I always said to my kids, you must be tired, go take a nap. Or assign chores when they say this and they will think of things to do very quickly!

Creative Inside: dress up, kitchen band, car garages and towns out of cereal boxes, decorate paper tablecloth (news roll ends), office supplies for playing office

Learning activities: counting everything-pretzels, m&Ms, toys to pick up, etc; identify letters when you see them, sounds in the car and make signs, lists, scribbling for writing; listening to books, reading lots and having much conversation with you.


Out and About

Amtrak, libraries, kites, car wash, Baskin-Robbins, Sweet Peaks, Brookies-Cookies, Kalispell school playgrounds, WF park, WF city beach, Lkside Volunteer Park, Glacier Apgar bike trails, Yellow Bay picnic area, Lone Pine State Pk, Danny On trail-WF mtn., Birch Lk in Jewel Basin, Bike trails in Kal., Swimming lessons-(BF club, Summit, Woodland Pk pool), Upick fruit, Wayfarers Pk, Swan Lk, Greenhouses, Petco, Hedstrom’s dairy

What to do in the car-Road trips large and small…

Group stories, abc game, Fortunately-Unfortunately game(Unfortunately there is a lion coming, Fortunately I have had lion taming lessons), Write or draw out scavenger hunt to look for things while in the car, claim a car color

Dry erase pages, magnetic letters, dimes to spend, bags with treats, activities etc, audio books, plastic bags with activities

Id’s, first aide, snacks, water, towels, extra clothes and shoes, entertainment packs

Avoid Meltdowns-be proactive and prepared: Too hot, tired, hungry, too much activity, changes, stimulus, not enough “mom” time, no schedule; always have food and water on hand!



Book Review: The Artist’s Daughter


I’ve recently discovered that there really is no type of book I’d rather read than a well-written memoir. There is something truly special about the glimpse one gets into another’s life that moves and inspires a soul, my soul. Alexandra Kuykendall’s new release, The Artist’s Daughter is no exception.

Kuykendall has presented us with a stirring book that delves into the heart of what true belonging, acceptance, and healing mean to the soul of a woman. While in many ways my story doesn’t share the same details,  many of the heart issues she wrote about could have been penned from my very own hand.  Raised by a working single mother, the daughter of an absent father, and a girl with a drive to be perfect, Alexandra and I could likely share coffee and tears reminiscing about our similar triumphs and trials.

Serving as the MOPS International theme book for 2013, The Artist’s Daughter is spot on when speaking to many of the key heartaches, joys, and challenges for a mother like me. However, the overarching theme of God’s beautiful plan and workings in humanity and in Alexandra’s life bring a sense of true healing and grace to a tender heart. Seeing His gentle care for her has only reminded me of His gentle care for me. What an encouraging book it is when, after reading the final chapter, you can sigh and whisper, “Thank you God for being so good.”

You can purchase The Artist’s Daughter at MOPSAmazon or request it at your local bookseller. If you’d like to win my copy, head over to my personal blog and enter!

(Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review)

Everything Passes…even gas

Tonight my baby has gas. It’s just a fact of life. BUT; she was NOT happy. As she screamed, I found myself having to search high and low through a basket of “baby” things she has already outgrown for the gas drops we hadn’t needed in so long. In my haste, newborn pacifiers fell to the ground and bounced among the teethers and toddler toys scattered on the floor. They bounced between a pair of shoes whose only giveaway to childhood is their sparkly pink flowers – you sure can’t tell from the size of them. One of those blue nose bulb sucker deals (torture devices if you ask me!)  rolled under my chair and I sent my little boy under to get it. He complied as if he has been a capable big brother forever. After I got the baby  calmed down, I started to look around at all the newborn pacifiers and teeny tiny outgrown newborn clothes all folded and set aside for the newest baby in our family (my niece) to be born.  I have to admit, I got a little teary. You see, it all passed by so quickly.

It doesn’t seem that long ago I was walking around in circles, eyes barely open and arms aching, thinking my daughter would never be big enough to soothe herself to sleep. Now she does. And I just can’t believe how quickly it has gone.

You know those nights when you just can’t imagine doing the sleep walk carry around the room again?  It’ll pass.

You know that temper tantrum that has lasted for 20 minutes (seems like hours)?

It’ll pass.

You know the frustration that comes with 3rd time you have cleaned up the same toy before your

 in-laws arrive?

It’ll pass.

You know that moment when your baby spits up all over the outfit you have carefully chosen for your first date night since he was born?

It’ll pass.


All the moments pass. Some of them pass quickly as if in an instant. Other situations take a little longer—like the “terrible 2’s”- or whatever age feels terrible right now. But; they all do eventually end.


With each pacifier I put back in the basket, I thought to myself how quickly my littlest is growing up and how I am going to cherish everything as a last moment instead of a first this time around. And in the meantime, the gas drops and itty bitty socks are going to stay right where they are. I’m just not ready for anything other than the gas she has to pass. 


(I needed to hear this today! Find more musings from our very own, Kayla at Mommy’s Soap Box.)


Beautiful friends!

What an amazing meeting we had last Wednesday. Thank you again, Marshelle, for sharing your beautiful story!

Easter really is all about Jesus. I want to encourage you to participate in one of the many opportunities to celebrate Easter. Here are just a few ideas:

Read the story here in Matthew 26-28.

Stop by Crossroads for the Journey of the Cross:

Sorry, had some technical difficulties, be sure to check out the video here: 


Check out the community Good Friday service at the Bigfork Chapel, March 29th, 3:30 PM.

Attend one of the services at the Majestic put on by Fresh Life Church.



Or, visit any of the wonderful churches in the area. You may find some familiar faces at these ones: 

Crossroads Christian Fellowship

Bethany Lutheran

New Covenant

Fresh Life

Cornerstone Community Church

He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said! – Matthew 28:6

Happy Easter!!!!

Who is the bully?

What a wonderful morning we had with Barbi Webber last week.

I think each one of us has been bullied and/or been the bully at one time or another.

We women often find ourselves in the grips of judgment, comparison, and just plain self-preservation by whatever means necessary.  At times another bullies us, but most often don’t we bully ourselves?

We endure as our own worst enemies as we dwell on what we don’t do right, why our kids don’t act like “her” kids, where our bodies are squishy, and why we aren’t the embodiment of our pinterest boards or why our meals and crafts are far from Martha’s.


Maybe it is time to apply Barbi’s advice to ourselves.


  • Firmly tell yourself what you know to be true – “I am a good mom.”
  • Fairly assess the situation – “Right now is not my best mothering moment, but we sure had a lot of fun this morning and more to look forward to this evening.” “ I can handle the next time better”
  • Be friendly. Would you say the same thing to your dearest friend that you are saying to yourself? No WAY! You wouldn’t have any friends if you spoke to them the way you speak to yourself. Encourage your heart – “God knows I am the BEST mom for MY kids.” Believe it!


I’ll try not to be a bully, if you’ll try, too.  Starting with ourselves!

“Love as if your life depended on it” –  1 Peter 4:8

Just in case you missed Barbi’s information and would like to be in touch with her you can reach her at the Hope Line: 212-0478 (completely confidential) or by e-mail: bwebber@krmc.org








Shopping and “things” with kids

After a trip to JoAnn’s with my kids today, I needed to read the following wisdom from our very own, Jan Roberson. Find more of her writing at Flathead Living

Just say “No”!

I was standing near a couple in a line in Target one day.  The mom pointed to the object in the cart and told the dad that “she wants it”, referring to their young daughter.  They discussed several reasons why it wouldn’t be good for her, yet it still remained in the cart.

Perhaps this is an obvious statement, but children need to hear the word “no” from their parents especially in regard to acquiring stuff. They need to know that they can’t have everything they see and that they don’t need to have every whim supplied.

Stores are laid out to entice children (small and large). It’s called marketing, attractive packing and strategic placement. My children taught me that even though they desired everything they saw, it didn’t last long.  Mostly, for them, it was truly “out of sight, out of mind”.  Of course, this fact never stopped the pleading, whining and begging for things…

I could not afford to hire a sitter every time I had to go shopping, so the kids were almost always with me in the stores.  If that is the case for you, some shopping strategies might help.

Here are a few ideas that I tried or wish that I had!

  • Give them each $.25 a trip to the store (or whatever works for you) and tell them that it is theirs to spend or save for another time and keep it in the car for them.  They will have to save a few times just to start!  Also, you will need to put a time limit on their shopping or it could take forever to decide.
  • Have a budget and stick to it! If you often buy spontaneously or randomly, have a budget for miscellaneous spending.
  • Think up synonyms for “no” ahead of time.  I’ll need to think about that; Let’s wait till next time and see; Wow! There is so much to look at in here!; I don’t think that’s the very best for you right now; Yeah, there are things I wish I could get too; Let’s add that to your wish list.
  • Take the offense, especially with little ones, and distract them.  Try a running dialogue: What color is that? What shape?  Let’s find blue things, round things, etc.  Keep them looking for things in the “game” instead of things they want to buy for themselves.
  • Tell them ahead of time what is on your list and engage their help in looking for it.
  • Have a policy of one in and one out.  If you get a new____, you need to give one _____ away.

Even if you are fortunate to be able to shop alone, kids still have wishes and expectations.  They see advertisements in magazines, TV, catalogues and see what other kids have. For us, this was the worst.  They didn’t watch TV and we didn’t have many magazines or catalogues, but they did have friends with more stuff! When they got to school, the refrain became, “everybody I know has one!”  “I am the last of my friends to have one.”  This was often true! (Try not to answer this with the sarcastic “So, we aren’t everybody”.)

Work out your family’s standards and perimeters for stuff often and early with your kids.  It will help when the pressure comes.  When your kids want something big, perhaps they could get together and come up with some “big” reasons why we should buy this, i.e.- convince me. Their reasons should be guided by the standards already set in your family. Or you could come up with a list of questions to ask before buying a larger item.  Examples: Do I really need this? Where will this be in 6 months? Is it over packaged and unrecyclable? (environmental concerns) Does it fit the budget for such things? How do you keep up the toys/things you have now? (Note: I would avoid the “if you do this, then you can have this” situation as it may circumvent the above evaluations.) Ultimately, the parents have the final say and the children should know that they cannot manipulate, whine, or otherwise control the adults’ decision.

Parents can be proactive with buying toys.  I invested in small quality items like playmobiles and legos which promote creativity.  So when a present was in order, the kids could pick a small addition to the set we were collecting.  We still have these sets and every child that comes over wants to play either with the “little people” or the legos.

How do you decide what kind of toys for your children?

  1. Observe your child or children over a couple weeks’ time…what do they really play with?  How do they interact with a particular toy? Are there some that promote creativity? Some that provoke wild or loud behavior?
  2. How many toys are you willing to deal with-clean, pick up, corral, find a place for, toss or give away? How much time do you want to spend managing “stuff”?
  3. What can really engage your kids (besides TV, movies, and electronics?) so that they can be creative and think; so that you can get needed things done around the house? Look for engaging toys.  Given a choice kids will usually chose a flashy, eye-catching, “candy”-like toy. Give them something more.

Examples: playmobiles, legos, duplos, large cardboard boxes with a door cut into them, playdough, tea sets, sets of small cars, anything small that fits in small hands to carry around; dress up clothes-thrift store or old clothes from you! Something that works as a pretend kitchen for them; anything that mimics what their parents do…office “supplies”-tape, glue, pens, pencils, paper pads, coupons, envelopes, ink and stamps; kitchen utensils and kid dishes; cleaning things-small broom, etc; gardening utensils..small gloves; shopping-basket, play money, a place to set up cans and other food items; games, puzzles, books; put them outside!

Wise Women of the Web …


Having this extra week in between meetings is giving me withdrawals! I hope you all gleaned some helpful tips listening to Dr. Bury share some of his wisdom with the group on the 16th. I can’t wait to see everyone on February 6th.

In the meantime, I just wanted to share some quick reading that might encourage you this week. Check out some of my favorite bloggers:

Happy reading! I hope it tides you over until we meet again.