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COVID-19 and at-risk children
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Review: Social CBD drops
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Review: Kids Smart High DHA Fish Oil Chewable Burstlets
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Five birthday treats to send to school when cupcakes aren’t allowed
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Let them be little… and have conflicts
6
Christmas Cheer? An honest look at how I’m starting the season.
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A letter to my son
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Family Travel: Ethiopia
9
Sideline Talk
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» It Takes a Village: Summer Safety

COVID-19 and at-risk children

The work I’m blessed to be a part of professionally reaches around the globe. You can imagine the impact something like COVID-19 has on such work. We can’t currently reach our partners physically but thanks to technology we can check in on them frequently and support from afar. This perspective has given me some serious things to ponder and share. Just yesterday I saw some amazing little infographics for kids circulating on Facebook. This is the graphic that literally stopped me in my tracks:

Using this graphic parents, grandparents, guardians and other caregivers can talk to their children about the virus and assure them that they will be safe, that there is an adult who will keep them safe. The child is prompted to write the caregivers name there on the line.

Why did this excellent and therapeutic exercise stop me in my tracks? Because I know thousands of kids who don’t have a name to write on that line. I know thousands of kids who haven’t even heard that COVID-19 is a threat to them. And honestly, they are hungry, they lack security… COVID-19 is the least of their concerns. Whether that child is in this country or one across the ocean, we must not forget them in our panic and toilet paper searches.

Doing our part now, to flatten the curve and continue to support our economy in creative ways here ultimately affects vulnerable populations served through nonprofits and even government programs. That means yes, I think taking a second to distance, to clean more to halt some travel to pull back is the best option in the short term to affect the long term. Without measures now, the economy continues to dip, travel is suspended further… funding for nonprofits and programs suffers and ultimately at-risk kids and teens who don’t have a name to write on that line have little hope.

Let’s be good neighbors… globally and locally. There is no me without you, there is no us without them.

Review: Social CBD drops

We all need a bit of support when it comes to our immune system and stress levels. Our pain levels, inflammation and even our mood link directly into how well these things are supported. I typically look to whole foods, teas and vitamins to support immune systems and overall health but recently looked into how CBD oil could benefit me as well.

And I’m so glad I did.

Enter Social CBD drops. Perhaps it would help if I break this down a little for you before launching in to what I, personally, gleaned from use. After all, I had some concerns around the product in general and a little bit of education went a long way in helping me understand why CBD oil really is a great fit for moms like myself.

First of all, CBD is not a substance that can give you a high. There are no psychoactive effects whatsoever. It is a substance made from the hemp plant and contains 0.0% THC. Social CBD, specifically, is third-party tested 5 times for CBD, THC and pesticides. The suppliers are farms located in Oregon, Kentucky and Colorado and are all registered with the USDA.
 
CBD supports the endocannabinoid system, which is the second largest neurotransmitter system in the body and present in the central nervous system. It’s obvious a substance that interacts with this system may be useful in supporting mood, immune system, stress and a host of other things. On to my experience!


I started with a lower dose than recommended as I’ve read CBD can have different effects based on dosage for different people. Over a few weeks I worked up to the suggested dose and found the most benefit at that level. I specifically struggle with typical headaches and inflammation which lead to difficulties finding rest. After using Social CBD for some time I found my rest and peace multiplied and felt very supported in tackling my busy days as a mom of four. Hopefully my experience takes some of the stigma out of CBD usage for you! Let me know if you have questions in the comments below.

If you are looking to add CBD to your wellness regimen I recommend picking up some Social CBD, in fact, you can grab a 25% discount by using code MOMSMEET25 on your order. Click here to shop. CBD drops start at prices as low as $35, which makes my wallet happy. 

I received this product for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet. com) to use and post my honest opinions. Compensation for this post was provided and this page may contain affiliate links.

Review: Kids Smart High DHA Fish Oil Chewable Burstlets

We love good supplements around our house. In fact, if you’ve hung out around here before you’ve likely read several posts from me on how to choose great supplements for every member of the family. It’s always a treat to discover a new supplement that will benefit my kids while adding something playful to their morning routine.

Kids Smart Chewable Burstlets are just about the cutest little things ever. Each burstlet is shaped like an adorable little fish. Kids simply chew the little fish OR give the fish a little squeeze and twist to pop a fruity tasting, omega-3 filled little treat directly into their mouths. My youngest promises that the purple fish tastes the best.

Why take DHA? DHA and EPA can support healthy brain and eye function as well as the nervous system. I feel good sending the kids into a long day of school knowing that these vital systems will be supported after taking Kids Smart. Our bodies don’t produce DHA and EPA on their own so it’s important to either eat foods that provide this or take supplements. Kids Smart has 10 times more DHA than most brands on the market.

Where can you find these adorable little fish? Amazon of course. Simply click here to grab a bottle for your family. At $9.99 (and sometimes less on sale!) this fun and healthy buy won’t break the budget. Use promo code 20MM20KS at check out to get an additional 20% off!

I received this product for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet. com) to use and post my honest opinions. Compensation for this post was provided and this page may contain affiliate links.

Five birthday treats to send to school when cupcakes aren’t allowed

I began my career, fresh out of college, as a teacher. I didn’t spend a long time in that field but I lingered long enough to realize that birthday cakes were a disaster in the classroom. They crumbled, kids licked only the frosting off the top and the resulting sugar high made the afternoon super pleasant. As a mom, I see the cupcake issue from yet another angle. Food allergies are a real issue for many kids and cupcakes have a lengthly list of ingredients, lots of sugar and often artificial food dyes. Perhaps food treats aren’t the best choice to send off to school and into the hands, and mouths, of children we don’t know well. Today I’m proposing five options for elementary aged kids that aren’t food and won’t break the bank. Each item is linked for you convenience.

Squishy Mochi Animals

What’s not to love? These adorable little guys are squishy (sensory input!) and tradable. They come in at $12-15 for sets of 20 or 30 and your child and their classmates are bound to have an extra fun recess that day squishing, stretching and sharing their new little creatures.

Play-Doh

Play Doh is a classic and these mini, party size options give each child just a little bit to enjoy. The party packs also come with little stickers that allow your child to add the names of each friend in class. The price is right at five dollars for 15 mini tubs.

Novelty Food Erasers

Your child’s teacher will be pleased with this “treat” that doubles as a school supply! For $14 you can snag 50 erasers that span every food group. From pizza, to pie and popsicles there will be a favorite (or 2) in the mix for each child in the class.

Mini Rubiks Cubes

My 11 year old chimed in with this option! These little cubes are adorable and will keep hands busy during transition times, recess or the bus ride home. The price point is right at $9 for 18 cubes and it’s just a really fun and cool little treat to share. Great for older elementary.

Friendship cord bracelets

This little treat serves a dual purpose. It’s fun AND it promotes friendship and unity in the classroom. This $12 fifty pack comes with styles that will work for both genders and has plenty of colors to choose from. Bonus points for not being a distraction! This is another treat that could work well for older elementary.

 

Let them be little… and have conflicts

Mom… the neighbor is coming to talk to you. Elliott yelled this in a hurry as he and a neighborhood buddy came bursting in the front door. What did you do? I asked. The conversation that followed included some details about a tomato from his friend’s garden, and how they were tossing it and then some older boys entered the scene and somehow this tomato ended up being tossed at/to one of these kids. So did it ruin his shirt, was he hurt somehow? My questions continued. Both boys answered that no, neither had taken place. I told them not to worry and to just go play, and to keep their tomatoes to themselves.

About twenty minutes later I went out to the driveway to retrieve something and I saw the parent  coming full speed toward me. This man had an intentional stride, body-builder arms and probably 150 pounds on me. And yet he came, bowed up, like he needed to make an impression on his 5 foot 3 inch neighbor in yoga pants.

Is that your son? He pointed to Elliott. I believe so, I said. He proceeded to tell me how the boys had been throwing rotten tomatoes at his boys. He wasn’t present for this bloodbath, he was simply retelling a story without either party present. And his boys? They are older than the boys I was currently representing. But what was particularly amusing is that this daddy proceeded to tell me he was trying to pay it forward, one parent to another because it seemed that my son could care less.

Well neighbor. I bet he doesn’t care. Because it’s summer. And boys throw things. And no one was hurt and their clothes aren’t stained. This certainly wasn’t a charge to your neighbor’s house event and I’m concerned about what will happen if we ever do have one of those!

Parents I’m worried that we’ve driven our helicopters a little too close. We are literally clipping the hairs on their heads with the propeller at this point! Bullying is all over the news, and certainly should be dealt with. But what will happen if our children grow up without these little summer break conflicts? If we handle ever scrape and mean word and tomato for them… man, good luck with your first job. Good luck navigating interpersonal relationships in college and the Comcast guy who comes to your door when you buy a house. We are cutting their legs out from under them.

At some point he headed back before I could say much, because really, I didn’t have much to say. I gathered the boys up and explained that while I expected them both to be respectful to the adults in our neighborhood I wasn’t upset with them. I suggested that perhaps they stay clear of the older boys for now, as it didn’t seem like a good fit and they agreed. And then I thought about it again, and shouted to them as they ran off with some random concoction that resembled a bunny trap… play with who you want, but think about what you do and be prepared to deal with the consequences! They exchanged a look that said she is such a weird mom, but yelled okay! and went on their way.

I’ll sleep easy tonight knowing that hopefully, someday, these kids of mine will make choices, reap consequences and handle conflict with grace. Besides, a little tomato never hurt anyone anyway.

Christmas Cheer? An honest look at how I’m starting the season.

Christmas does funny things to my heart. It brings back memories of enthusiastically unwrapping roller blades and portable CD players… but it also has the ability to drag me into depths of self-doubt and disappointment.

Before we go further, this isn’t a blog about the “reason for the season.” We all know that I’ll end up there… thankful for Jesus and what He’s done. Truthfully, I’m there already, thankful that Jesus doesn’t require me to look one way when I feel another.

My son and I went shopping a couple of weeks ago when the Christmas trappings were just being hung with care. I noticed a definitive lack of joy when my eyes hit them. More lights, more bows… some giant candy canes. The more I saw, the more oppressive they felt.

When we got home that evening I tried to process these feelings with my husband, like a good self-aware individual does. “It’s the end of the year, I said, and for some reason the Christmas cheer on every corner is just another reminder that time is moving and I’m not accomplishing what I hoped I would.”

The past couple of years have been fine guys. Not easy, but fine. We went through things as every family does: financial setbacks, trying our hand at raising preteens, loss of loved ones… Nothing that we couldn’t handle with time and patience and prayer. But I’ll tell you a little secret… I’m a 3 on the enneagram. Look it up, I’m mildly embarrassed by it. I’m competitive, driven and ambitious, to a fault at times. And guys, as we near 2020, I’m just nowhere near the goals I’ve set for myself.

Christmas, this year, is a big fat reminder that I just didn’t make the cut. And before I get to the good part of the post, I want to tell you that I’m grieving that. Please hear this: it’s okay to take a second and sink down in that and feel abundantly sad that things have not gone the way you would like them to.

What is not okay is staying down there for too long. It’s also not okay to project those feelings on to others.

If you’re with me in these difficult-end-of-year feelings maybe it’s time to look up. I needed to remind myself that my life and what I’ve achieved, is likely a very attractive life to others. My life is FULL of goodness and if I stay down to long I’ll miss it all.

It’s also time for me to make changes. It’s not all about just recognizing your blessings, because sometimes change is needed for growth, it’s needed to thrive. I made gratitude lists and action plans. Action plans that I might completely fail at, but I’ve made them nonetheless.

If you struggle during this season, or any other for that matter, please reach out to others. Don’t stay down too long, and if you can’t drag yourself out of the pit get some help from a professional or friend.

We may be coming to the end of one thing, one year, but what comes next is all new, and it can be so good.

A letter to my son

We are standing at the edge of something new, son. I just peeked over the edge and realized that the next phase of knowing you is a steep downhill, just like the ones you power through in cross country. Life is going to move fast from now on and I’ll have trouble keeping up with you at times.

Until now I’ve led the way. Uphill is hard, son. The days were long as I carried you, brought you into the world, fed you and taught you to do things on your own. It takes strong legs to climb UP. But it also takes strong legs to avoid collapsing on the way down.

So here we go, heading into this newness together. Here are a few things you should know:

  • You can always bring your friends home, I’ll feed them.
  • You can always count on your dad and I. We chose to create you and the Lord blessed that. We are committed to you.
  • You can always come home. Or call us to find you and get you there.
  • You can always ask us why. Sometimes we won’t have the best answer, but you’re allowed to ask.
  • You can always trust us. Your best is always on our mind.
  • You can ask us hard questions. If we don’t know the answers, we will sit with you in the wonder.
  • You can count on us to embarrass you sometimes. Because we are parents.
  • You can tell us ANYTHING. We won’t overreact. We’ve been practicing not overreacting for years in preparation for this time in your life. (really, we have)
  • You can expect that there will be consequences if you make super poor decisions. That’s just life bud, and we are going to be good parents.
  • You will be given boundaries and you will be given freedoms. Make good choices and the second will expand.
  • You can believe us when we say we understand you. Middle school is fresh on our minds, even though we are super old.
  • You can be unkind to us, and you will hurt us. But we will do our absolute best to model a response that bears only love.
  • Son, we are your biggest fans. There are no two people in this world that want to see you succeed more. We are standing here cheering you on as you navigate sports, faith, fun with friends, taking quizzes and making it to class without being tardy.

We love you, son. We accept you for who you are and we anticipate who you will become. And we do this without expectations. Do you. Be you. We can’t wait to see it all unfold. We will be running steadily behind you on that downhill and if you reach a hill that’s hard to climb? We’ll be there too.

Family Travel: Ethiopia

I’ll admit it. It’s been an adjustment returning to life in Tennessee after being together, as a family, for a month in Ethiopia. It’s a gift that I’ll be forever thankful for. So often I serve in other countries and return to my family, mind full/heart full, and find it a challenge to re-enter life with all I have seen and done. This time, we all came back with the same thoughts. We know the same people now, we love the same people now.

Working with our Bete Hosanna girls daily was a privilege. Our kids became little brothers and sisters. They laughed and worked alongside the girls seamlessly. Our kids shared who Jesus was to them personally and participated in Bible studies and sharing circles. They helped us welcome teams and they even ate every bit of spicy food handed to them.

I get a lot of questions about how the kids did on the long flights and how their tummies held up in country. The flights were honestly a piece of cake. Movies were enjoyed, games were played and airplane food was eaten. Lufthansa, the airline, was also very kid friendly. They added fun experiences like handing out little stuffed planes, taking polaroids of the kids and randomly bring by little card games or chocolates.

As far as the tummies go. There were definitely a few bumps in the road there. Liam had a couple of sick days and Elliott’s plane ride home was nothing short of miserable. BUT nothing was serious and they rebounded quite well. It’s a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things.

Charlotte and I head back to Ethiopia in just five short weeks. We are leading (I say we because let’s face it, she’s a mini-adult) a team of thirteen people to continue investing in Bete Hosanna and a few other ministries in Ethiopia. To say we can’t wait is an understatement.

I have missed the girls so much since we left. I think of their futures and plan for their futures daily. I have so much hope for them. We all do now.

Sideline Talk

I’ve been a soccer mom for almost seven years now. From the group ball chasing days of four-year-old soccer to a fast paced travel league I’ve seen it all from my folding camp chair. Have ya’ll listened to the things people shout at their kids during soccer?

Some of my favorites:

You’ve got time!
Take a touch!
Get it boogie!  over and over (I think boogie is a nickname??)
Space, Space! Spread out!
Fresh legs! First five minutes!
Think ahead!
That’s the way!
Dig!
You’re all on top of the ball! Space!!!
Cross it!
Wasted opportunity!
Look center!
You’ve got all the time in the world!
Take it up the field!
Come on Red, it’s your ball!!!

So for just a second switch places with your kid and ask them to shout a bunch of random stuff at you while you either mow the lawn, do the dishes or you could even invite them to work and let them shout at you while you work on an excel spreadsheet. I’m sure you would love that right? And your productivity? Super high I’m sure.

All that stuff up there is pure nonsense and these exasperated little sports learners are just trying to get through a game and get the ball in the net, or the basket or just hit it or whatever the game calls for. Calling for them to look center, or get to the corner or dig deep is the coaches job. Maybe sticking to enthusiastic good jobs and great plays is the best route for all involved. Honestly, the kids can’t really hear you any way, so perhaps sparing your sports watching neighbor is really the focus of this post.

And listen, if you’re the mom yelling go boogie through the whole game, I get it. We’re all proud of these kids. The first time I saw my son crest the hill running cross country, tears filled my eyes and I turned red yelling at him to dig deep and cross the finish line. It’s overwhelming to watch these little pieces of ourselves perform athletically. So lets keep the chatter encouraging, uplifting and for goodness sakes be sure the things you yell actually make sense.

(Bless your heart.)

» It Takes a Village: Summer Safety

Remember the kid who ended up in the gorilla pit? I have one of those kids. I remember reading that story and all the outcry and thinking, it’s a good thing we weren’t at the zoo that day because there would have been two kids in the gorilla pit. Kids can be impulsive, unwise and make idiotic choices. They are learning the world, testing boundaries and pushing all the envelopes they can get their grubby hands on. As parents we are here to keep them safe, but we only have two eyes and two arms… despite the rumors about what’s on the back of my head.

Today at the pool while my eyes checked in on one of my four, another mom spotted Liam doing some… shall we say unwise… jumps near her seat. “Don’t jump like that on the edge of the pool little guy, you are making me very nervous!” she exclaimed. I looked over as she said it and gave her a nod and proceeded to back her up. She shouted across that she was sorry, but she just couldn’t keep quiet. My reply? ALWAYS tell my kids to stop if they aren’t safe!

Friends, parents… can we get together on this? If my kid is being unsafe, if your kid is being unsafe let’s let them know. I don’t care who you are or how harsh you are, if my child is being disrespectful, unsafe or unkind in your earshot or line of sight please say something. Alert me if you’re not comfortable, but please don’t stand by if safety comes into play. Of course unkind things may be said between children, and honestly, sometimes they need to just work that out but you’re an adult and maybe a parent and you know when enough is enough. 

Safety talk is on autopilot for me. Especially with boys in the house. Don’t run with sharp things, don’t run on the side of the pool, don’t throw rocks at each other (I’m not kidding) and on it goes. I think my kids are as immune to my utterances as I am! A fresh voice telling them not to make stupid unwise choices every once in awhile might be just what they need!

Bottom line. None of us have this on lock. It’s summer and kids are feeling wild and free as they should. Let’s recognize that we all hold a little power to reign them in from time to time and help another momma or daddy out! As I said two eyes, four kids… something is bound to happen and I hope someone will have my back when and if it does.

All Content © Erica Ho, Goodbye Normal