What Do Our Kids Want From Us?


Obviously an endless supply of Sourpatch kids candy, DS games, new bikes and a new iPhone would be top on their list, but apparently our kids want a few other things from us too. I’ve been talking with Tommy and Brook on Star 105.7 for the last several weeks about survey results of what else our kids want from us. You can listen to my segments on my Star 105.7 page or read about them here:

  • Come into my bedroom at night, tuck me in. Come say goodnight. Another good idea is to talk about what they are thankful for from the day. Studies have proven that on common quality of happy people is: gratitude!
  • During dinner, talk about what you could do together on the weekend. Kids love to have something to look forward to! Unless your weekend plans are to clean out the garage, then be nice and skip this one.
  • Let them play outside, A LOT. Summer’s coming Momma, send them out that screen door!
  • Tell them stories about when you were little. Keep in mind ‘little’ let’s not talk about those college years!
  • This one might surprise you, but when kids were asked to look back and tell what they remembered and loved most about their moms…one of the things is that they were thankful that she disciplined them. The reason is that they said: it made them feel like she cared. “She took the time to teach me how to be a good person.”
    I should emphasize discipline- not just punishment. There’s a big difference, discipline is about disciple-ing not just grounding them with no guidance for their future.
  • Give them room to grow.  The older they get, the more we need to step back so they can do things on their own. I think we really start to see this in junior high. They are going through crazy growth and hormonal changes and we are going to need to adjust how we parent them. Instead of doing it all for them, it’s time to start guiding them and being more hands off.
  • To continue the idea of giving them room to grow, one of the biggest ways we help our kids is by teaching them to make decisions. When they’re little, we help them recognize when they’ve made a good versus a poor choice. The older they get we coach them along the path of decision making and help them with three ideas:

As they get older we want our kids to ask themselves these three things when it comes to decision making:

  1. Why do I want to do this?
    You want your children to understand what motivates their decisions.
    Is it peer pressure? Is it selfish?
  2. What are my options?
    When they’re little we can help them by narrowing choices and as they grow we help them see the choices they have.
  3. What are the consequences or benefits?
    Do they really want the outcome of this decision?
    Kids tend to make impulsive, immediate gratification decisions (Don’t we all?!)
    And often when we ask our older kids why they did something wrong, they’re response (if being honest) is that they just didn’t stop to think about the consequences.


Ok, so that was a lot to take in, I think you deserve a good cup of coffee and some dark chocolate!

Point your kids in the right direction— when they’re old they won’t be lost.
Proverbs 22:6

If you’re not in the West Michigan area you can listen live on iHeart Radio anywhere in the world!

Check out Tommy and Brook’s page online at West Michigan STAR: Tommy and Brook

Their Facebook page: Tommy and Brook

And their Twitter: @TommyAndBrook

Moms, What You Are Doing Matters

Taken from my segment on Star 105.7 in West Michigan with Tommy and Brook

Last week as I spoke to a MOPS group I looked at the tired eyes of those moms who feel buried in laundry and overcome with planning dinners and driving to practices and doing homework (on the way to school because the night before they said “no, mom I don’t have ny homework”), and I just want so badly for them to grasp how important their roles are in their child’s life.

I have 4 kids, three are grown and we adopted our youngest and she’s 8 yrs old.

I remember with (as I fondly refer to them) ‘my first batch of kids’ how I felt like the house keeper, room service and chauffer. I was a taller, blonder, unshowered Benson that lived in the suburbs in a house with so little heat that we put up a blanket in the stairway to keep ourselves warm all day. I didn’t feel like my role mattered except to keep the kids from killing each other and putting a few groceries in their busy little bodies.

Fast forward a couple decades and my oldest is married and second son is engaged. This past weekend we helped our son and his new wife move. Watching my grown sons interact and seeing how they treat their wife and fiancé ….it made me so thankful and I realized even more how much moms matter. Thankfully, I also thought about how little all the mistakes I made along the way, mattered. We’re real moms, we’re not perfect but being there for our kids, taking care of all the mundane tasks that we must do…it really matters.

I just want to tell moms (and dads)…that what you’re doing…this sometimes exhausting and seemingly thankless job…it matters. You are nurturing and raising the next generation.

No matter the age, whether your kids are picking up everything they see and putting it in their mouths or sassing back with the same lips a few years later, your role in their life matters.

If they are biological, adopted, foster or step children, you matter. You make a difference.

It wasn’t until we adopted Lauren that I came to understand the depth and power of attachment in a child’s life. It was a rocky first year with a little girl that spent her first 26 months in an orphange, and the several years since have been a learning experience. Even though she’s strongly attached, there is still a glimpse of that “survival” tendency in her that keeps me on my toes.

So when I saw this on the wall of her school, my heart melted.

feb 2013Yup, it matters.

Give yourself a break Moms, you’re not expected to be a perfect mom. Be a REAL mom.

If you missed this segment, listen here: Real Moms: What you are doing matters!

You can listen to my ‘Real Moms of West Michigan’ segments on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook every Tuesday morning around 7:05 AM. If you are not in the West Michigan area you can listen on iHeart radio

I’m Unglued! Also a contest…

Edited to add:
And (by drawing with random number generator) the winner is: Jenn Soehnlin

Congrats Jenn and thanks to all who entered!! And especially the ones who signed up to receive our updates!!

Comments closed.


So I took an impromtu camping trip this week, as in I tossed Lauren, some snacks and few articles of clothing in my Expedition and sped to Pentwater, MI to hang with a girlfriend and her kids. We had a blast! Lake Michigan is so accomodating in the summer, I suggest you all spend time there. If you’ve never been, you’re missing out!

But in my haste I completely forgot my post with a giveaway for New York Times bestselling author Lysa TerKeurst’s latest book “Unglued.”

I am thrilled to be a part of this giveaway and blog tour, not only because I know this book will powerfully touch womens’ lives, like Made to Crave did, but also because I had the crazy honor of having a chapter of it read to me last year by Lysa herself. She was also in the process of hashing out the ending and I loved throwing out ideas and talking about it with her. I talked about it in this post.


Here’s some info about the book:

God gave us emotions to experience life, not destroy it! Lysa TerKeurst admits that she, like most women, has had experiences where others bump into her happy and she comes emotionally unglued. We stuff, we explode, or we react somewhere in between. What do we do with these raw emotions? Is it really possible to make emotions work for us instead of against us? Yes, and in her usual inspiring and practical way, Lysa will show you how. Filled with gut-honest personal examples and biblical teaching, Unglued will equip you to: Know with confidence how to resolve conflict in your important relationships. Find peace in your most difficult relationships as you learn to be honest but kind when offended. Identify what type of reactor you are and how to significantly improve your communication. Respond with no regrets by managing your tendencies to stuff, explode, or react somewhere in between. Gain a deep sense of calm by responding to situations out of your control without acting out of control.

Can anyone else identify with raw emotion?! Hand raised and head hung in shame.

Thankfully, Lysa gives us great info to help us hold our shoulders high again and let the Lord be the lifter of our head.

Made to Crave was about what went INTO our mouths, Unglued is about what comes OUT of our mouths.

If you would like to win a free copy of Unglued, leave a comment on THIS POST and I will draw a winner on Monday, August 27th.

So tell your friends and enter to win!

Tips for Teaching Our Kids Honesty

I’m not talking about those times when our little ones asked someone in their 60’s if they have a baby in their tummy. Not good. This is not the honesty we’re going for, that’s a whole separate issue.

I’m talking about teaching our kids not to lie.

Lying in our home has always been one of the most serious offenses our kids could commit because it’s something that- when a child becomes accustomed to lying about things, they become known as a liar and if people don’t trust you…it affects all your relationships.

So, we really want our kids to learn to be honest at a young age.

A couple tips to help our kids do that are:

1. Reward honesty-I think this is huge! Reward those times when they tell the truth- when a lie seems much easier and without negative consequences.  Praise them, applaud that behavior!

2. Grab those teachable moments…seeing someone lie on TV or if a friend lies to them…use these moments to talk about how lying hurts others and causes people not to trust us.  Talk about how they could have responded differently. If they have a friend that lies often, you might want to limit their exposure to them if possible. Sadly, we tend to become like those who we surround ourselves with.

3. Little eyes are watching us. Lead by example. If they see you fudging the truth, so will they. When we go back in the store and pay because the cashier missed that water under our cart, our kids are learning to be honest- even when it would be easy to get away with it.

Moms, let’s help our kiddos learn honesty!
Click the “Star 105.7” tab above to hear today’s segment.

I do the ‘Real Moms of West Michigan’ segments on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook every Tuesday morning around 7:05 AM. If you are not in the West Michigan area you can listen on iHeart radio

Moms, Don’t Lose Yourself In Motherhood

Being a mom is loads of fun right? Laundry pun intended. *Insert rolling eyes*

Raising our children is one of the best times in our lives, but often we get so busy with soccer, laundry, cooking, cleaning, playing, laundry, homework, lunches, bath time, laundry, reading, scraped knees and then more laundry, that we lose ourselves and identity as a woman.

This week I want to encourage moms not to lose themselves in motherhood.

We don’t want to be that woman who, when her nest is empty, has a complete meltdown because she forgot to invest in her own life.

A few ways we can avoid that:

  • Think about the things you loved to do before the kids came along. What are your passions, what do you enjoy? Try to fit some of that into your life now.
  • Take a class. Craft, photography, dance lesson, maybe you’ve always wanted to learn more about photoshop: take a class, scrap booking, Zumba…go for it!
  • Date nights, spend time with your husband! Arrange a sitter and put it on the calendar.
  • Make time for girlfriends! Not just play-dates, but get out without the kids for some much needed girl time! Moms, we need that even more than we know. If you are in the Plainwell, MI area: come on out to our Praise and Coffee Night this Thursday!

So, moms…don’t lose yourself in motherhood…make time to nurture who you are as a woman.

Your family will be better for it because when Momma’s happy…

I do the ‘Real Moms of West Michigan’ segments on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook every Tuesday morning around 7:05 AM. If you are not in the West Michigan area you can listen on iHeart radio.
Click on the Star 105.7 tab to hear today’s segment.

Radio, Magazine and Online, a 3 Part-er!

Part 1:



It’s Tuesday so that means that it’s time for my “Real Moms of West Michigan” post!

And I have to tell you, I phoned this one in, literally!
I was in the parking lot of a MOPS group in Coopersville waiting to go in and speak to the group as I shared this with Tommy and Brook.

Today I talked with Tommy and Brook about one simple word: remember.



Remember what it was like to be little.
Remember the things you worried about.
Remember how it felt when you mom was too busy or always on the phone.
Remember how it felt when mom and dad argued.
Remember how it felt when you parents took you somewhere special.
Remember how it felt when your parents cheered for you!

Sometimes it helps to put ourselves in the place of our kids and think about how they feel, it just might help us to be a better mom.

Remember, simply remember.

To listen to the segment, click on the Star 105.7 tab.

Part 2:

The Spring Praise and Coffee Magazine is out!
We focused on moms this issue so we have some great articles and encouragement for mothers.

Also some great stuff about marriage from Sheila Gregoire and Lori Byerly!

And some wonderful fashion input from Andy Paige, yes THE Andy Paige that you’ve seen on the TODAY show and TLC and heard on Star 105.7!

We hope it connects, encourages and inspires you!!


And Part 3:

Don’t forget to join us for our online Praise and Coffee Night this Thursday!

To join us, click on this link at 7pm EST or 7pm PST:
Online Praise and Coffee Night Webinar

Spring Break STAYcation Ideas for Moms


It’s that time of year! Spring break is next week! That is really exciting if you are heading off to the Gulf Shores or some place amazing but if you are staying home you might be thinking, what am I going to do with these kids?

NOW is the time to make some plans!

I’ve got a few theme day ideas for Spring Break Staycations.



  1. A DIY Day in the Kitchen.
    Get all the fixins for some of your kids favorite foods and let them go to town.
    You could do pizzas, tacos, cupcakes or homemade sundaes.
    Add some fun by stopping at the dollar store and picking up some cute containers.
  2. A Picnic in the Park Day
    When is the last time you actually packed a picnic for the kids? Spring break is a great time!
  3. Movie Day: go to the theater (many theaters have free movies during spring break, check out Celebration Cinema if you’re in the Grand Rapids area!) or stay in the PJ’s and have a movie marathon day right there in your living room. Let each of the kids pick their favorite movie and plan ahead by surprising them with their favorite movie theater snack at home.
  4. For rainy days, Build a Fort Day: kids love to build forts… have plenty of extra sheets on hand that they can use to build a fort in the living room or find some big boxes this week and let them build a fort city. Make sure you have batteries in the flashlights too!
  5. A Friend Over Day: let each of the kids have a friend over for the day or if you’re really brave: overnight!
  6. Have a Wii Olympics Day, complete with special little awards- again the dollar store would be a great place to find things…for the gold, silver and bronze winners.
  7. VBS Day: get together with a few other moms (share the responsibility) and host a mini VBS at one of your houses.  The kids can do crafts and scavenger hunts based on the story that you share with them.

Moms, you don’t have to take the kids on a plane ride to have fun. If you’re having a stay-cation, start planning this week and you’ll have a great spring break.

If you are in the West Michigan area, check out Maranda’s great ideas too!
Maranda’s Spring Break Best Bets

Share some of your ideas in the comments, we’d love to hear them!

If you missed the segment, listen here:
STAYcations for Real Moms this Spring Break

Tips on Raising Middle Schoolers

Ok, so that beautiful little cooing baby that you held just five minutes ago has grown up to be a middle-schooler. Those little rosy cheeks that were once irresistible to squeeze are now speckled with acne.

Remember when they were a toddler and their squeals would lead us to say things like, “oh my, he’s found his voice.” And now staring eye to eye, they argue with us and we think, “oh good gravy, he’s found his voice.”

Raising kids reminds me a little of that show Wipe Out. It’s a muddy obstacle course that requires you to jump across giant slippery balls.

Yup, I’d say it’s pretty much exactly like motherhood.

But don’t lose heart moms, we can do this. Here are a few tips to help us navigate this exhausting wonderful time of transition in our child’s life.

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Moms, we will have plenty of major things in life to lose sleep over, don’t give it up for the little things. Pick your battles wisely. Remember, these kids have hormones and emotions that are spinning wildly inside of them and they might just need us to let them vent a bit.

2. Be careful to be encouraging and not critical. They are hearing critical words all the time, let your words be filled with hope and not criticism. This may take some creative thinking on your part at times, but you’re a MOM, you can do this! Build up instead of tear down, even when we see things that put us on the shady side of crazy.

3. Don’t talk too much! I raise my hand as a guilty party here. I can get rambling and before I know it all that my kids are hearing is white noise. Stop the lectures, they tune us out anyway, why waste the breath. Do speak, but not too much…try to find the balance or you’ll end up like this.

The most important thing to remember is that our kids need us. They need us on their side, fighting FOR them in this world not against them.

God has given us an incredible job, and He really does know what He’s doing. You ARE cut out for this…quite perfectly in fact.

I’d love to hear what things have helped you navigate these precious years.

Listen to the Real Moms of West Michigan every Tuesday at 7:05AM on STAR 105.7.
If you are not in the West Michigan area, you can listen online at iHeart Radio: STAR 105.7

And visit Tommy and Brook at:
STAR 105.7
STAR 105.7 on Facebook
@TommyAndBrook on Twitter

How Can We Help Our Kids Do Well in School

This is good news for REAL moms!

Tutors are great but studies show that the best students are not ones with tutors but instead a strong family support makes a child a better learner.

It turns out that the family environment is crucial in forming good habits early on in a child’s life. Who’da thought?!

Here are a few ways we can help our kids do well in school:

1. Give them a place to study and do homework. Try to keep the noise to a dull roar distractions to a minimum and as much as possible have it be a consistent time each day.

That being said…this REAL mom has practiced spelling words in the car on many occasions.

2. We’ve talked about this a few times but it bares repeating…communicate with your kids, ask them how things are going in their classes. Which classes do they struggle in, which class is their favorite and why.

3. Communicate with teachers, find out if homework is getting turned in and how they feel your child is doing in class. And as your child see you doing this, the accountability may be good incentive to work harder.

4. Help your kids learn HOW to study. This will really help them as they get older. If you’ve ever been super tired like me at the end of a day (like I was in this post) and then you realize that they didn’t do their homework and you are tempted to just give them the answers, because I have not that I’ve done that… but we really shouldn’t. A better (more patient and rested) parent will teach them how to find the answers. 🙂

5. And the most important (well not really but it seems that the last one should always be the most important) remain supportive even when they struggle.

Homework is not ever always a fun time of the day, but investing in our kids is worth it!
Real moms like you and I can make a huge difference, in fact the MOST difference in our kids education.
I’d love to hear any tips you have!

If you are not in the West Michigan area, you can listen online at iHeart Radio: STAR 105.7

And visit Tommy and Brook at:
STAR 105.7
STAR 105.7 on Facebook
@TommyAndBrook on Twitter

Tips for Busy Moms!

If you’re stopping by because you heard me on STAR 105.7…welcome!

Another in the Real Moms of West Michigan series heard Tuesday mornings on STAR 105.7…
Real Moms are Busy!

I kept telling myself that things would slow down after the holidays but that hasn’t proved to be true and I have a feeling many of you moms feel the same way!
So I have a couple ideas to help us slow down- at least a little.

1. If you are anything like me you have excellent intentions to delegate jobs to the kids but don’t actually make a plan. It’s time- make a plan so the kids know that at meal time…Josh has to help cut up veggies, Sam has to set the table while another will be helping clean up. If these things are delegated ahead of time, it’s much easier because the kids already know and plan on it.

Unnecessary commentary: Obviously the more children you have, the lighter the load for you…so go ahead and have a few more.

2. Don’t worry about what all the other moms are doing. Everyone taking their turn is important but you don’t have to run the committee and organize the whole event if you don’t want to. It’s easy to get caught up in comparing ourselves to what all the other moms are doing but I’ve found that that’s not a good reason to be busy with things.

More unnecessary commentary: Plus that mom that is doing EVERYTHING at your child’s school is probably compensating for something lacking in her life and since you don’t carry those insecurities you don’t need to have your hand up for every single thing.

Don’t worry about what the other moms are doing…which leads us to the last thing I have:

3. Say no to the things that are not necessary or beneficial to your family. Set those boundaries around your family. Teach the kids by example to make good choices with your time and say no to some of the extra time consuming things.

Like Facebook and Twitter, you should stay far away from those things.

I hope things slow down enough for you to take some much needed time and catch up on my blog though! Much love to ya busy moms!!!!

The “Real Moms of West Michigan” airs Tuesday mornings at 7:05 AM EST.

If you are not in the West Michigan area, you can listen online at iHeart Radio: STAR 105.7
And visit Tommy and Brook at:
STAR 105.7
STAR 105.7 on Facebook
@TommyAndBrook on Twitter

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