Who Do We Represent?

Who Do We Represent?In the world of business, employers look for people with demeanor which would properly represent their companies. Big business understands that each person within a company represents the company as a whole; a poorly dressed lawyer might misrepresent the firm and a bad mannered clerk will be a turnoff for business. While homeschooling families are not subject to these same rules and regulations by any means, I can see where the same principle might apply.

In our outings, conversations, and behaviors, we need to be careful of what we represent. As Christians this is especially true as who we represent is synonymous with what we represent.

There is no dress code in our family, our children to do not have to wear a uniform. There is no ‘code of conduct’ our children are made to memorize. We do, however, have one family policy: Remember who you represent! When we leave the house for any reason (and often while we are still in it) our children are gently reminded of who and what they represent to the world.

As much as we hate to have anyone judge us, the fact is people do. For a brief moment in time people have the opportunity to view our behavior and make an assessment of our life. While their evaluation might not hold value to us, it might have a bearing on their futures. Our actions and attitudes might influence their thinking and decisions.

Are we ultimately responsible for their possible turning away, either from homeschooling or Christianity, simply because we had an off day? Of course not. The decision to homeschool or not homeschool is completely their own personal choice. A person’s belief in Christ rests solely on their own shoulders. However, if I have an opportunity to represent either, I want to do so in the best possible light. I want people to see homeschooling at its best; I want people to be encouraged by what they see and enlightened as to what this opportunity presents. More importantly, I want people to see Christ in our family. I want them to see love, grace, kindness, respect and righteousness in action.

While there will be moments when we are less than ideal, both in our learning and in our daily living, the ultimate goal is to represent our worldview in the best possible light. Before we ever reach people with our words, we reach them with our actions. What do our actions say about us?

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
~ II Corinthians 5:20

Your Turn!: What do you represent?

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Will Someone Help Me, Please?

Will Someone Help Me, Please?I had gotten myself into this mess. Needing help but not asking for it. No one else was to blame for me standing in a kitchen by my lonesome, washing dishes, staring at a dirty floor, and thinking on the multitude of tasks I still had to finish before getting to relax for the night. I wanted to scream out, “Will Someone Help Me, Please?” Instead, I stood in my kitchen stewing and that can only lead to trouble.

I do this to myself far too often. For a myriad of reasons, I allow myself to become overwhelmed by responsibility, then look for somewhere to cast the blame when I should be reorienting my thinking and asking the Lord for help.

Praying About My Perspective – I am reminded of Pastor Lusko’s words of wisdom. We should not pray for what we will not pay for. In other words, I shouldn’t pray for God to use me, then complain about feeling used. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by the cares and responsibilities of this world, this is the perfect time to pray. God knows what I can handle and how to help me move forward. I only need to reach out and ask for wisdom.

p.s. I also need to be on the lookout for those pesky messages the enemy will send my way as means of attack. He wants me to feel used, abused, and overlooked. He wants me to think of myself as undervalued; for my pride to take over and anger to take hold. Why should I give in to his foolishness and let him win?

Biting Off More Than I Can Chew – Truth be told, I often find myself in this situation because I have overstepped my bounds and gone outside of God’s will. I said, “Yes” far too often or added more to my to-do list than anyone asked of me. I need to learn to say, “No” and/or limit my tasks for a given day. I am not Superwoman.

Swallowing My Pride – Because of that Superwoman tag, I often fail to reach out due to my own silly pride. Somewhere along the line, I got it into my silly head seeking assistance was weak. I can do it on my own. This is my job, after all. If I ask for help, I’m not earning my keep. Unfortunately, I buy into this lie far too often. This is pride talking, and it needs to be quiet.

Asking For Help – Why am I in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room… by myself? I didn’t ask for help! Instead of making this a fun, family time – one where we can laugh over chores together, while making memories – I pridefully told everyone I could do this by myself. Now, my family is off enjoying a game and I’m all alone working. Together we could have had fun and gotten the job done faster. Together we could be playing after the satisfaction of cleaning up. But, it starts with me and a simple question.

If I’m feeling as if I’m overworked and needing aid, it’s more than likely because I allowed myself to fall into this trap. There is danger in thinking I can do everything by myself; that I don’t need help. It can also be a problem if I am unable to ask for help, either due to pride or embarrassment. I need to be open to receiving help, communicate my need for assistance, understand this doesn’t make me week, and graciously accept an offer of help.

Through God’s leading and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I am learning to swallow my pride and ask for support. In prayer, I will bow my head, asking to be reminded of the true heart of ministry and help to keep my eyes focused on His vision for my family. Will someone help me? Yes; if only I ask!

“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
~ John 14:13-14

Your Turn!: Do you have trouble asking for help?

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Psssst… Your Tank is On Empty

2.Your_Tank_Is_On_EmptyThat fateful gauge is staring you in the face, glaring at you in an angry red, reminding you of your failure to pay attention. Anxiety begins to take over, and you fearfully look around, praying a station will magically appear before you stall on the side of the road. You’ve failed to fill your tank and you’re running low. You, my friend, are on empty. Again.

Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Who in their right mind would let their gas tank become so empty they are now running on fumes? But let me ask you this: Are you being filled with the Holy Spirit, or are you running on empty?

Let’s face it, we’re busy people. We get up early, fill our days with endless activity, rush around finishing errands, shove food into our mouths when we find a moment, and stay up late to get just one more thing done. It can be all too easy to push aside our need for spiritual filling, choosing to instead focus our attentions on the multitude of tasks in front of us.

Just like that silly gas tank, we need to make a point of refilling with the Word. We ought to be carving out time each and every day to allow God to speak to us, renewing our strength and filling us with His peace. When we choose to not make time with God, we slowly (sometimes not so slowly) begin to run dry. That is the real danger. Running on empty is ugly and dangerous.

Now I’m the first to admit I don’t know much about cars, but I do know this much, if we run on empty often enough, our engine starts to suffer. We start pulling up the gunk and junk which has settled to the bottom of our tank. When our tank runs out of gas, that junk starts circulating throughout our engine and can ruin our car.

As with that overworked car, our life will start to show the consequences of an empty spiritual life. We start running on our own steam, and the junk we’ve been carrying around in the bottom of our hearts starts overtaking our daily living. We become bitter, short-tempered, and act out in response. Our relationships with others start to suffer, and our ministry becomes jeopardized. Try as we might to continue pouring out to those around us, the fact is we are dry. Because we have failed to fill up, we are unable to pour out.

Unlike our car’s gas tank, which can run safely until the gauge nears quarter tank, I highly discourage allowing our spiritual life to reach that danger point. In fact, our goal is to be always leaning toward ‘FULL’; being constantly filled with the Holy Spirit, gleaning from the Word of God.

One thing I have noted, sometimes God will allow us to run on empty. He will permit us to run, and run, and run, until we hit a point that we are dry. Why does He do this? To show us how much we need Him! He will not forcefully fill us or chase us down to be filled. He will patiently wait until we hit a point that we recognize just how empty we are without Him. Then, He will fill us to overflowing.

Here’s the exciting part, God wants to fill us. He wants to have a relationship with us and renew our spirit. But He will not force Himself on us, He is a gentleman. We have to choose to spend time with Him, sitting at His feet.

I wish I could say my spiritual tank is always on ‘FULL’, but that would be a lie. On occasion, I get caught up in my own goals and activities, pushing aside much-needed fellowship with Christ. By His grace and mercy, the Lord quietly waits for me to realize just where I’m headed and prods me to remember He is waiting.

I cannot begin to explain the vast difference between doing things on my own steam and doing all things through Christ who gives me strength. On my own, I am nothing. In Christ, I have peace, grace, love, and understanding. In Christ, I am able to continue pouring out His affection to those around me, ministering to those who I come in contact with. In Christ, I am full.

“And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 13:52

Your Turn!: How full is your spiritual tank?

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Waiting For ‘Real’ Ministry to Begin

Waiting For 'Real' Ministry to BeginDo you ever feel as if you’re not moving forward in ministry? You desire to serve the Lord, but where would you find the time? There’s learning which needs to be done, a house which needs to be cleaned, meals which need fixing, and a world of responsibility sitting at your feet the moment you open your eyes each morning. My friends, if you’re waiting for the ‘real’ ministry to begin, it already has!

The ministry which surrounds us daily might not be glamorous; no one outside our immediate family may ever know our name or see the impact we make on the world around us. This does not make our ministry less real. The roles we are currently playing are vital and as real as it gets.

The Ministry of Marriage – The Lord is constantly reminding me that marriage is more than a relationship, it is a ministry. We are connected, but it is a bond which requires work and a call to serve the Lord together. Done right, our marriage will point people to God and His saving grace.

The Ministry of Parenting – We have a unique call to train and disciple the next generation of adults. Positively a full-time role in ministry. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.

The Ministry of Education – As we teach our littles, we have the unique ability to reach their hearts, souls, and minds for Christ. Every lesson builds and strengthens, helping our children increase for God’s glory.

The Ministry of Friendship – We thank God for the few people He has brought into our lives who minister to us in this capacity. That girlfriend who just stops by to say hello? You just made our day. The gentleman who calls to encourage my husband and ask how His Bible study is going? Love that! Where would we be without awesome friends who take time just to ask how we’re doing, and occasionally stop in for a visit.

The Ministry of Edification – We might not have physically met, but our goal here at A Homeschool Mom is to edify everyone who reads these pages. While we’re perusing your thoughts, questions, and helpful tips, we’re often edified. Together, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we use this blogging community to edify one another, encouraging closer relationships with Christ.

Whenever I start feeling as if I’m not doing enough to serve the Lord, I remember a line from Francesca Battistelli’s song, “He Knows My Name“. It’s not important that my name be in lights. I am not living for applause. The God of the universe knows my name and loves me; just as I am, just where I am. He has me here for a reason, and He’s asking me to be faithful with what He’s given.

‘Real’ ministry is here and now. It’s not ten years down the road, it’s not ten minutes down the road. It’s right where I am. The real question is, what will I do with the ministry He’s given?

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

~ Acts 20:24

Your Turn!: Show of hands… Have you read The Ministry of Motherhood?

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So You Think I’m Wrong? (Personal Advice on Offering Objections)

So You Think I'm Wrong? (Personal Advice on Offering Objections)What should be our inspiration for offering correction when we see someone stepping out of line? A heart to see them right with God. A desire for righteousness. If you think our family is making a wrong move, here’s some personal advice on how to offer your objections to our family’s life choices. Hint: It doesn’t involve yelling!

Before overwhelming us with a verbal attack, here are a few solid tips on how to approach us when you think we might be stepping out of line:

Pray for Us – Before approaching us, ask yourself this question, “Is this Biblical wisdom or just your humble opinion?” If the Lord is prompting you to speak to us, kindly pray about not only what you’re going to say, but how to say it. Pray for us as well, that we would receive your helpful advice as it was intended. We, too, want this discussion to go well. It starts with humility and a desire to seek the Lord in all things.

Speak With Us – Please read that again, carefully. Don’t yell at us. Don’t talk at us. Don’t talk over us. And don’t talk about us to other people. We would love to work this out and resolve the issue, but we can’t do that if we don’t speak. Nicely.

Ask Questions – Odds are you have some questions, and we’d love to answer them for you. We understand not everyone is going to agree with our choices and you may want clarity on why we’ve gone in this direction. Just ask, we love sharing why we do what we do!

Show Respect – While we appreciate your good intentions towards our family, these children are our responsibility. You don’t have to agree with our choices, but you ought to respect them. Mocking us, muttering complaints under your breath, and posting on social media is not the answer.

Believe it or not, we appreciate your advice and questions. Our goal is to constantly grow and increase in wisdom. Maybe the Lord wants to use you, and your words are His tool. However, please consider we might already be following God’s plan and doing our best to be faithful. We don’t make our choices lightly or without care. Believe it or not, a great deal of thought, time, energy, and research goes into what we do and how we do it. It might look a little odd to you, but this is a grand adventure and we take it very seriously.  

May we be inspired to not only give instruction with gentleness, but receive instruction in humility; may we direct people towards Christ and His desires, not our own personal opinions and ideals; and may we be granted strength to stand against those who violently oppose.

(Please note: We are not discussing issues of abuse today. Such difficult situations would call for immediate action, not debate. Instead, we’re referring to differences in parenting decisions such as education, discipline, health choices, and the like.)

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

Your Turn!: How do you handle unsolicited advice?

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Don’t Talk About Me! (Discussing Our Children With Others)

Don't Talk About Me!It’s amazing how our children cannot hear us when we’re standing right next to them, talking in their ear. But, somehow, through a noisy room, their ears perk up when mom mentions their name. They give us that look, and we know what it means. “Is this good or bad?” Perhaps, it might even be, “Please, don’t talk about me.”

Truth be told, we all have hard days. Whether it be a struggle with parenting or a homeschooling concern we’re dealing with, some days are just plain difficult. Maybe it isn’t just days. It might be weeks or months. When we finally have an opportunity to fellowship with friends, we let it all out. It felt so good to get that off our chest. It felt good to us. But what about those little ears listening across the room?

Understanding the Boundaries of Family – Are there things we’d prefer not be discussed outside the family? Maybe my husband only wants certain issues shared with him, and we can tackle these concerns together. Before I go to the “village”, I need to understand what is permissible to share and what is best left at home.

Understanding My Children’s Boundaries – If we enjoy our privacy, shouldn’t we afford our children a little of their own? I don’t wish to damage the relationship I have with my kids by over-sharing struggles they are currently working through. Openly discussing a learning disability with anyone and everyone might put a damper on that or cause them shame. I want to be selective about when and with whom I share.

Being in Prayer – Am I looking for help or an outlet for my frustration? Before I open my mouth, I need to pray about what’s going to come out of it.

Being Selective – There is such a thing as TMI. I can get help with a learning disability or character development without explaining every detail of my child’s issues. I want to leave them with some dignity. It might be enough to simply explain we’re dealing with lying, and ask for prayer.

On this note… Being a blogger, and having a minor presence on social media, I should also point out our need for being selective online. My kids read my blog – crazy, I know – they see what I post and how I address each issue. Generally, I don’t discuss matters which are personal to them and never that which would cause them shame. This goes for ALL medium.

Being Gentle & Kind – How I speak will determine how people see my children, and my parenting. Will I leave them with the understanding we’re not perfect, but genuinely seeking the Lord’s will, or an angry mama who can’t stand her kids? I might be frustrated now, but ten minutes from now regret the words I spoke. Gentleness will prevent harsh words.

Being Positive – This isn’t an opportunity to trash talk the kids. (Even if you’re positive they’re being ridiculous.) If we need help, I definitely should speak with a councilor or close friend. However, this isn’t time to complain. It’s time to get answers and be honest with where we might need improvement.

May the mediations of my heart be pleasing to the Lord, and the words of my mouth be edifying to the hearer. May I speak from a humble heart and listen with the intent to grow. And may my children learn God’s love towards others by how I love them.

I need to remember little eyes are watching. If I’m not careful, our children will pick up bad habits and begin to repeat my mistakes. And, really, what parent wants to hear their child trash talk them?

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
~ Ephesians 4:29

Your Turn!: Here’s a question… Do you feel comfortable sharing photos of your children online?

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When Pop Comes Home

When Pop Comes HomeI frequently read lovely posts about preparing for Daddy’s arrival back home at the end of each day. The ladies might perhaps put on a pretty blouse, touch up their makeup, and spritz themselves with perfume. Moms are wonderful about making sure the house is straightened up, the kids are in decent order, and dinner is just about finished. I wonder though, what do those women do whose husbands are home all day?!

I find myself in this predicament and often wonder how many other women are in the same boat. My husband, generally speaking, works at home. There is no touching up makeup before he gets in the door, there is no sprucing up the house, or cleaning up of kids; he sees it all.

While we are together the bulk of every day, I would like to think there are a few things I can still do to bless him. They might not be astounding, but every little bit helps!

I make sure we are groomed. This might seem silly to some ladies; I mean sweats are clothes, right? While my husband doesn’t mind what I wear, I still prefer to get up before everyone else and get dressed. I put on “street clothes”, no sweats or pajamas. I put on just a little makeup and do my hair. I want my husband to know that I look nice for him, not just when I leave my house. Periodically I will touch up my makeup, as needed, to ensure I keep looking fresh. My kids are also trained to get up, get dressed, and be presentable.

I make sure the house is fairly decent. While messes can’t be avoided, we do try to keep things more livable. We have trained our children to keep their toys to one room or area at a time. This ensures that the mess can be cleaned up fairly quickly and if my husband walks out of his office, he is not overwhelmed by disorder.

I make sure to touch bases. While we might both occupy the same house, that doesn’t mean we are actually communicating. At various times throughout the day, I make sure to pop my head into his office and see if he needs anything. Perhaps he might like some fresh coffee, a snack, or a hug? Near the end of the day, we talk about when he would like dinner and I get busy.

When my husband does leave the house, I try to walk him out and greet him on his return. I want to be the last thing on his mind when he leaves and the first one to welcome him home.

While I don’t have the benefit of preparing our home before Pop’s return at night, I believe we are doing our best to make him feel welcomed and appreciated whenever he steps out of his office.

Your Turn!: How do you prepare for Dad at the end of each work day?

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The Dilemma of Sleeping Children in Parents’ Beds

The Dilemma of Sleeping Children in Parents' BedsFor years, no matter how hard we tried, my son would not sleep through the night in his own bed. Oh, he would start the night out in his own room, but somehow in the middle of the night he always managed to sneak into the room and tuck himself in with his Pop. We tried having him sleep in his sisters’ room, we tried keeping a nightlight on, we tried any number of things. There was no substitution for Pop.

When he was little, it had been suggested that we train (read = paddle) him to stay in his own bed. Helpful friends mentioned we should lock our door. Others were adamant we let him cry it out. My guy and I didn’t care for any of those solutions, however. Sure, any number of them would have worked, but why?

While we weren’t getting as much sleep as we could and there were some nights we were wrestling with our son to stop moving around so much, it was nice to have him close. We only have our children for a short time and we appreciate the closeness they have with us. It would seem a shame to prevent them this brief moment in their lives. It won’t last forever.

While our son no longer sneaks into our room every night, on occasion I will wake to find him sleeping on the floor alongside the bed. It seems something bothered him during the night or he felt lonely and needed our company. He needed comfort and security.

I’m not sure where you’re at right now. Perhaps your littles are still in need of constant attention, and you’re about ready for them to grow out of this stage. Maybe you’re where we are with kiddos who still sneak into the room in the middle of the night. You might even be ‘done’ with these foundational years of parenting, with children grown and ready to move out. No matter where we are, may we learn to embrace each moment and rejoice in its gift. For a gift it is, indeed.

And, hey, we can sleep when they’re older, right?

“And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
~ Malachi 4:6

Your Turn!: Do your children sneak into bed with you?

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Are You For Us or Against Us?

“Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us or for our adversaries?'”
Joshua 5:13

are_you_for_us_or_against_usI’m sure we’ve all read this story hundreds of times, both for ourselves and with our children. The object lesson is usually along the lines of teaching God can do anything, even bring down walls of a city. Nothing is too big for God. And this is true. But it wasn’t until quite recently an entirely new lesson was brought to my attention, speaking to my heart.

For those who might be unfamiliar with our story… Joshua is the new leader of God’s people, Israel. After forty years of wandering in the desert, God has brought them to Jericho and the promised land. The only problem? A huge city, with a seemingly impenetrable wall, stands in their way.  While out perusing Jericho, Joshua sees a man and asks his question, “Are You for us or against us?” An understandable question. The response, “Neither.”

If I were Joshua, a flood of emotion would be coursing through my blood. Relief. Disappointment. He isn’t here to kill me, but help would be great too. Frankly, I would be missing the point entirely. The question isn’t whether or not this man – an angel of the Lord, by the way – was with Joshua. What mattered was whether Joshua was with God.

Now that, my friends, is the question of a lifetime.

Often, I find myself praying for God to be with me. (Read: To be on my side.) I want Him to make my homeschooling day successful. Meaning easy and fun. My budget to be prosperous. Oh, and having fewer parenting woes would rock. Who doesn’t want God on their side?

But, what I want is not really important. I should not be asking myself if God is with me and my silly plans. Instead, I should humbly be confessing my desire to be on the side of my Lord. It is His plans which matter and His plans which always succeed. The question is whether or not I am going to seek Him out, asking for vision and clarity.

In Joshua’s story, we see a lesson in obedience and faith. The Israelites do as God planned, and God is glorified. We see the people blessed beyond imagining. If we were to keep on reading, do you know what else we would see? A history of obedience to disobedience and back again. Another lesson. When we stop asking ourselves if this is God’s plan, and start following our own, we end up in trouble. 

Today, may we be encouraged. I pray the Lord would humble me, reminding me of where my heart belongs. May each of us be filled with faith to the fullest, able to follow God no matter where He leads, even to the walls of our own Jericho; knowing God is greater. May we not stray from the path, whether through a valley or mountaintop; continually asking God to lead.

Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.'”
James 4:15

Your Turn!: You’re walking through the valley, with fruit trees all around. Which fruit?

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How Can We Pray For You?

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
~ I John 5:14

how_can_we_pray_for_youToday we are stepping out in faith. Truth be told, stepping out of a comfort zone. How we’re doing can be a touchy subject and one not easily approached with even our closest of companions. Even so, join us as we ask, “How can we pray for you?”

That’s it. A simple concept, if not always an easy one. How can we pray for you today, friend? Perhaps your homeschooling year is giving you trouble, your routine is still experiencing kinks, or your children are struggling with lessons. Maybe finances are in a jumble, work is slow, or your marriage needs a boost. On the plus side, everything could be going great and you have a prayer of thanksgiving. (Gotta love those!)

No matter what the need, we’d love to join you in prayer. This is what community is for. Share with us how we can pray for you today, and in the coming weeks.

A few guidelines… Not rules, per say, just things to keep in mind.

  • Share only what the Lord has put on your heart.
  • Be careful little fingers what you type. While we desire to lift everyone in prayer, this isn’t the opportunity to bash our spouses or bosses under the guise of seeking prayer. Let’s be mindful of our words; even those which are typed.
  • If you see a request listed which speaks to your heart, please feel free to pray on that person’s behalf.
  • If you do pray for that family, ‘Like’ their prayer to let them know you’re praying.

Let us step out in faith together, lifting one another before our Father in heaven. No matter where we are, there is always a need. What’s yours?

” I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.”

~ Psalm 17:6

Your Turn!: Pray with us!

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