A Prayer for My Children

a prayer for my children (poem)

 

 

a prayer for my children

My boys, stalking sea lions in Monterey, just like their mom.

Today I was walking around my backyard, feeling thankful for the Nerf bullets in the grass and the bare dirt spots on the lawn because they are signs that my babies still live here.

They grow so fast, but for today they are still here with us, and I was feeling ever so thankful. This poem/prayer fairly burst right out of my heart, so I came inside and jotted it down. I hope you like it.

All of my children are boys, and there are 4 of them, so this is a little unique to that. However, a lot of it I know you may be able to relate to.

 

 

Dear God,

Thank you for these boys.

Thank you for Nerf bullets in the grass,

for a living room floor littered with their toys.

Thank you for their sass.

For tiny Lego men in the laundry basket and the noise,

Thank you for the noise.

 

Thank you for popcorn kernels in the couch,

for little plastic Batman in my bathtub,

and even the moments I beg them not to slouch.

Thank you for the way he runs when I approach with the washcloth to scrub

All that sunbutter off his adorable cheekies and his mouth.

 

Thank you for their fighting,

and their running, and their bouncing,

Their snacking, video-game playing, yes, even their messy hand-writing.

Thank you for the sounds of laughing, crying, and being rowdy.

 

Thank you for their tuition bill,

their baseball and basketball games,

The way they hug me, even when they smell.

And of course sometimes call each other names.

Thank you for the way they look after each other.

 

Thank you for all the dirt and clutter

and all the lessons to teach and walls to scrub clear.

Because what it means is that for now we are all here together.

And love is filling the house, and we are growing good men here.

Thank you for making me their mother.

~April Alan

 

 

 

 

How to Save Money Using Dealspotr.com

 

What is “dealspotr”?

I first heard of dealspotr.com a few months ago, and I didn’t know what to think of it at first. It’s a place to find good deals to save money, and you can share deals that you find too.

You can find coupon codes as well as sales on there.

My Experience with dealspotr

I thought, “Okay, you can post deals when you find them…eh…”


I found an exciting deal at Papa John’s, and if you know anything about my family, you realize this MATTERS to us, so I posted it on dealspotr to share the happiness. It wasn’t hard.  Past that, I kind of forgot about dealspotr.com.

Then came spring break. Saving money has been not just nice but necessary.

dealspotr coupons

Y’all! You can save some serious buck-a-rinos with this website.

The whole point of this website is to compile tons of good deals for all different types of things in one place. It’s the kind of thing thrifty people dream of.

Some merchants even offer exclusive deals through dealspotr.

When I use it, I head straight to the search bar.

Type in the place you are going or the thing you are trying to buy, and see what pops up. You never know. You could save hundreds on a vacation or just save $1 on your meal, but you won’t know until you search.

When I hear about a site that gives you deals, I like to see proof. Just how good are these deals? Are they worth taking the time to dig up?

Here’s what I found, to give you a few examples.

These are coupon codes that I found on dealspotr. I had spring break on the brain.

Legoland Discovery Center ——Get free child ticket with purchase of adult ticket coupon code (to be used to purchase tickets online)

Legoland Theme Park— Free child ticket with purchase of adult ticket. Copy code and purchase online.

Papa John’s Pizza—- 25% off code

 

Most deals that I found on there do NOT require a coupon code. These are sales. You can just click on the link and purchase at the discounted price.

How to save money using dealspotr.com

 

This swing set is $342 at Walmart right now (March 20th, 2017), as opposed to the regular price of $586!!!!!

And this deal was my personal favorite with Easter coming up:

Before I went to Starbucks, I typed in Starbucks. There was a 10% discount on there for Starbucks. Awesome.

I need to buy tennis shoes for one of my sons, so I typed in “Nikes”, and I found about 5 different pairs of Nike tennis shoes, on sale, that would fit Caleb.

40% off your purchase at the GAP was another exciting deal I found on my personalized feed. They offer suggestions for you on your homepage, but to me, using the search bar was the most helpful way to use this site.

Now, you may need to create your own dealspotr.com account to be able to see all of these links that I’m including.

But the good news is that it’s free to join, and you can adjust your settings so that you don’t get unwanted email.

Do you think I can talk Alan into buying the boys that discounted swingset I found? 

You can also actually earn points and money from this company.

Fill out your profile, and upload deals that you find to start collecting points.

The points you earn by posting deals for them adds up to gift cards to places like Amazon!

Pssst! If you are a blogger or you have a ton of social media followers, you can earn even more! So be sure to check that out here. And be sure to use one of these codes:

lIAVKePx   or ESoM2F54

Have you tried Dealspotr or another program like it? Tell us about it in the comments! 

Happy saving!

 

 

****This post is sponsored by dealspotr.com, a community to find coupons, coupon codes, and sales and even share deals that you’ve found as well. All opinions are my own, for better or for worse.****

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Break Day 1: The Shirt War, Full House, Jesus, and The Vote

 

***This post does contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, April receives advertising fees.***

As we speak, Joshua and Caleb are playing basketball in the driveway while John David and Daniel are rolling around on the trampoline together. Alan is eating supper, and I am updating my blog for the first time in a week. Slacker.

I’ve been working on photo albums through Snapfish lately. Y’all, photo books are 70% off this month (March), so I am making as many photo books as I possibly can. I have about a hundred I could make since the last time I was caught up on photo printing was 2013…

One of my newly created albums came in the mail today, of photos from 2 years ago. One of the boys was a little embarrassed to realize that in this album was an adorable photo of the 4 boys reading together in a chair, and he was in his underwear. Just his underwear. I might have jokingly threatened to share said photo album with future dates. He might have retorted back that the page will definitely be torn out long before that. Sigh. Oh well.

The photo is safe for now, and the picture is so cute. I’d show you, but well, I am at least nicer than that.

I’m trying to hold the boys to just family parties this year. Well, family parties + just 1 or 2 friends.

I took a vote this morning, asking everyone here if they’d rather go hiking today or stay home. Everyone but Daniel voted to stay home, so here we are.

I tried to go walking, but it started raining on me so I cut that short. I passed Joshua on my way inside. Apparently, rain drops don’t phase him. He came in with soaking wet hair.

Y’all don’t want to know how many squabbles I have refereed today. Ugh. This should definitely count as a special skill on my resume. I am extremely experienced at sending everyone to different rooms.

We did have an epic game of driveway birdie tonight, though…wait. No, that’s not what they called it…badminton! I had to ask them what the game was called. Ha! But it was super fun!

Remember that Mother’s Day that they bought me a Badminton set, and so we played that for Mother’s Day? Only now, the boys are actually way better at it than I am!

Joshua, Alan, and I were sitting in the living room today getting quite a show from a new sport taking place on our trampoline. Daniel and John David were out there together, and we watched them take their shirts off and have a shirt war.

Joshua observed, “John David sure is good at whipping Daniel with his shirt!” They had a better view than I did, and they kept saying, “Ohhhh Owww  Whoa! Ho! hahahaha! Is he okay…..yeah.”

For some reason this game made Daniel and JD quite happy, so we didn’t intervene. Perhaps we should all try it…. ha!

**************

I came home a couple of weeks ago with the complete DVD set of the original Full House. Why? Because I’m the world’s worst person at sticking to any sort of budget…..also because we have already watched Fuller House, so I felt like the boys had to see the first series to understand it better.

Alan took so long at Walmart this afternoon, on a trip to buy Daniel’s birthday present and Tostitos, that we watched 4 episodes of Full House while he was gone. Our family is all about it right now, so don’t be surprised if you hear the boys say “How rude!” or “Have mercy!”

*************

I heard 2 funny quotes this week that I wanted to share.

1.”Who is I love Lucy? Were they zombies?”

2. A leprechaun visited John David’s school. He left them Skittles and a messy classroom of confetti and such. I asked J.D. who the leprechaun was. He didn’t miss a beat, “Jesus.”

**************************

I came across some encouraging Bible verses in my reading today:

“Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.”   John 6: 15

I’ve been thinking lately about how apolitical Jesus was. He was never interested in power or rule or talking politics. He wanted to teach about God, love, and healing people. I feel like as Christians we need to persist in getting our message of love out to the world. Things of this world are temporary, but our souls are eternal. Love is eternal.

“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”    John 6: 27-29

 

Believe. Faith. Hope. Love. Against such things there is no law.

And now on to the rest of Spring Break. 1 day down, 8 days to go. I’m excited. I still have a  great deal of refereeing ahead of me, but it’s worth it because I also have days of Badminton and shirt-whipping.

I’d upload photos for you to have a peek into our adventures, but my computer is so full it won’t let me upload anything new. Issues. I can only give you pictures that I can steal from Facebook. Triple sigh. You know that’s driving me crazy. But don’t worry. I will not rest until I fix this problem!

Okay, one more hilarious quote from tonight:

“Hey, Mom, I am five, and you are thirteen. No! 14. You are 14.”

hehehe Nope. I didn’t correct him. Is that wrong? I say no.

Have a great Spring Break, y’all!

 

 

 

 

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

**This post does contain affiliate links, which means that when you purchase through links on this page, April collects advertising fees from Amazon.**

 

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

Was I always a little flaky? I don’t know. For years, I could get away with being very loosy-goosy with my planning because I was a stay-at-home mom of preschoolers. We moved all the time too, so by the time people developed expectations of me, we were off and away to the next town.

Over the years, I have slipped into a routine of planning as little as I can get away with planning. I’ll procrastinate decisions until they are made for me. Yep. Guilty of that. Sometimes I get this fear of commitment. If I sign up for things, I’m going to have to figure out how to actually accomplish those things with toddlers in tow.

And I never knew when my husband would be here or not be here, so making plans felt like shooting darts– real darts–in a room full of people, blindfolded.

No thanks.

So friends, that is how I became the version of April you have today.

April, are you going to the yada yada yada meeting?

**Total deer in the headlights**

Ummmm. Uhhhhhh.  Umm, yeah, you know, I might…

(Inside my head I’m thinking……IF all 4 kids are well, IF Alan is in town, IF I have energy left that day…..IF I am not supposed to actually be at Dan’s tee-ball game or some Army function that I can’t remember the exact dates for…..If, If, If…..)

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

I love to rock me some babies. Go away, world, until I finish this.

 

Actually, for the past 11 years those were all perfectly good reasons to be flaky, indecisive, unprepared, uncommitted, and unsure. Did I shut the world out a little bit? Yes, yes, I definitely did.

In fact, I had to google the word “twerking” not too long ago. I’m so out of touch with pop culture, and I kept hearing that word. All I can say to that one is ew, girl! Ew. Somebody get that poor girl a sweater and some capri pants.

But things keep popping up on our calendars, and I’ve re-entered the world of work with my blog. I actually HAVE to FORCE myself to plan and be less free-spirited, more grown-up like.

You people who have a plan amaze me, and I mean that in a good way. You totally have my respect.

You know when you are going on vacation. You’ve actually committed to specific dates, and you probably even know how you are gong to pay for that.

You have a budget.

You know when people’s birthdays are, and you plan for that accordingly.

You keep some sort of planner or calendar.

 My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan
About that….Y’all! I have purchased TWO different “planners” this year. They are both mostly blank. I have a calendar hanging in my kitchen too, which makes 3 planners, really. All I’ve written on that one is what the kids are doing for lunch and when their dentist appointments are.

I even downloaded an editorial calendar plug-in to try and start planning my blog posts. (It’s actually extremely helpful, fellow bloggers, check it out. It’s called “editorial calendar.”)

Only I’m so anti-structured in my thinking, I can rarely bring myself to write about what I’m ‘scheduled’ to write about.

I also have 2 different e-books I’ve written half of, and now they are just sitting on my hard-drive taking up space. My hard drive is so full, my computer has actually stopped letting me download or upload new things.

And suddenly I find myself wanting to change.

See, I bought all those planners. That’s the first step. I WANT to do the right thing and be all responsible again. I always was one-half responsible and one-half not at all, even back in high school and college. I used to make myself plans and stick to them, sort of. Well, I used to make plans. Maybe I never did really stick to them. I almost always turn in everything on time, actually, but I live in fear of signing up for extra things.

So I decided to pray about this today.

And this was my answer:  If you can plan out each day by making a list and crossing things off, then you can apply that same strategy to weeks. Then apply it to months. Then do that for years. Do it at the start of each week, each month, and each year, just like you are doing now for days.

Huh. Brilliant. Maybe even doable?

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

My planning tends to never go past the day that I’m on. This is the typical extent of my planning.

 

What I do now for each day is this. After I have safely delivered all of my children to school, I come home and have a little time for Bible study and prayer. You have to pour inspiration in to yourself if you expect to pour any out, right?

I close with prayer, and I ask God to help me make my to-do list for that day. I write the list out on the wipe-off board in the kitchen. Then I mentally prioritize the things that HAVE to get done.

That’s why I usually cook supper in the morning, by 12:00, because I know everyone HAS to eat, and I don’t want that task hanging over my head. Also, I have no energy left at 5:00pm.

I see no reason why this method for planning each day could not be applied to my weeks, months, and years, with one of the 3 planners I’ve purchased laying open on my lap.

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

And don’t even say that I should use my phone as my planner. I can’t do it. This falls under scatter-brained people problems. The minute I open my phone to use the calendar or some other useful, productive app, I immediately forget what I was doing and end up reading Instagram or my email or something.

So watch out, world! I now have a plan for how to plan!!!! Who knows? Maybe next week I will make a budget, a meal plan, or catch up on my 2,809 emails…….nahhhhh…

Please share your best planning tips in the comment section! We would love to hear more ideas! Thanks, y’all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the Articles I’ve Ever Written About Blogging

How to Blog Index: Every article I've ever written about blogging

What? You don’t have huge ink blotches on your desk? No toddler scribbles? I can’t even imagine a world without toddler scribbles….

Lately I’ve had a few different friends email me with questions about starting their own blog, setting up a blog Facebook page, and making all sorts of blogging decisions. I am certainly no blogging expert, but with 3 years of public blogging now under my belt, there are a few good tips that I’ve picked up on.

So whether you are a brand new blogger or an experienced one looking for new ideas, here is a list of all the articles that I can find that I have written on the topic of blogging, websites, and social media.

Now, in case you have already read all my stuff, see this first one, just published March 2017, so chances are you haven’t read it yet:

This one was my biggest lesson of 2017. In January and February alone, my blog saw more traffic from Pinterest than I got in ALL of 2016 total. Lesson learned: never ignore Pinterest.

 

no matter what your blog niche is, Pinterest CAN bring you traffic!

Never ignore Pinterest.

 

If you’re looking for all the basics in one place, this is my most comprehensive how to article.

10 Blogging Tips for Beginners

 

Need to grow your social media following, but don’t know how to go about it? I found Crowdfire app extremely beneficial, especially for Twitter. Read more on that here.

How I used Crowdfire to gain over 50 new, legit followers/month

 

Understanding hashtags and how to use them to grow your blog traffic is also beneficial. I explain that here.

How to Use Hashtags to Grow Your Business

 

Hmmmm…All of those were articles that I wrote for Monterey Premier. Perhaps I should occasionally write some blogging or social media how-to articles right here on Stories of Our Boys. The reason that I haven’t is that it I make more money if I write them for Monterey Premier, and you know money does come in handy…

So I’ll leave you with one last blogging tip. Money. Don’t do it because you love money. Do it because you love writing about your passion or creating images and community online. Then gradually the more time you give it, the more paid opportunities will come your way. The very easiest way to start making money is affiliate marketing.

Next time you want to write about a product or service that you love, go to their website, scroll all the way to the bottom, and look for the word “affiliate.” Then click on it, and sign up to be their affiliate. Insert the link they assign you into your article, and if people buy it, you get a commission fee, usually a small one, but if you do that for each product or service you promote, it will add up. It’s a great way to start.

Psst…Even Etsy and Amazon have affiliate programs! (My serious thanks to whoever bought the Fitbit I recommended. I was about ready to give up on Amazon links.)

Shoot me any blogging questions you have. I will do my best to answer. If I have lots to say on the topic, I might even write my next article in answer to your question. Don’t worry. I won’t use your name in the article….unless you want me to…

You’ve read all my articles and you want MORE info? Here are 3 more articles that I have found helpful, written by other bloggers, more fabulous than me:

Making Photos Pop with Picmonkey— Learn how to use Picmonkey to make awesome photos for your blog from the pros at Just a Touch of Crazy.

5 Blogging Tools You Need Now— by my friend Jen over at JenerallyInformed.com.

and How to Make Money Blogging–by Crystal Paine

 

Happy blogging, y’all!!

 

 

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