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Susan Wanderer has worked with families in kids ministry for 20 years, with the last ten years serving as Kids Minister at Mount Ararat Church in Stafford. Susan and her husband Ed reside in Fredericksburg and have three amazing kids who joined their family in 2011 and who fill their days with adventure. Come join the conversation over at www.susanwanderer.com 



My Stomping Grounds

Counseling Is A Gift

I love Thursday mornings during the school year. It's the day after our evening counseling sessions on Wednesday nights. This past school year Ed and I decided we needed to gain a little wisdom as we navigated the ebbs and flows of marriage, parenting, working full-time, teenagers, elementary kiddos and ministry. We jumped full force into a counseling adventure.

We experienced  a bit of refreshment for our weary souls. We woke up on Thursdays with fresh perspective and tools in our tool-belt to help us invest in this very important relationship of family.

And at 7:00AM on Thursday mornings we had AMPLE opportunity to test out what we learned from our counselor the night prior. One particular Thursday we were greeted by a few grumpy cherubs as they arose from their slumber. They did not desire for the sun to greet them this early. The rays of sunshine were complete irritations for their little souls.

I adored winking at my hubs, as if to say "I-GOT-THIS" and tried out a few of the techniques we had learned the previous evening.

Our dawning of the day was actually a smooth, wink-filled morning. 

"MOM! She just...."

"MOM! I forgot..."

"MOM! Can you...?"

Check, check, check... the peace was kept, nurture was given and most importantly: Mama and Daddy didn't lose their junk!

Mamas, counseling is WHERE. IT'S. AT!

It has given us a third party to help speak truth and life into our family. And my gosh, we need strategic people in our lives to help nurture our marriages, raise these little people and impact this world for good.

Counseling helps spur us on towards love and good deeds. The new perspective, truth and tools in our tool belts that counseling brings are well worth the effort, time and co-pay.

Helpful information and truth in this journey is precious and valuable as we help navigate these little hearts in this journey of life.

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A Mama's Summer Mantra: WE WILL LIKE EACH OTHER!

In the middle of the beautiful moments of mama-hood, there are also hard, remarkably frustrating, scratch-your-head seasons of WHAT IS GOING ON?

When you have younger kids it may look like those lovely little temper tantrums in the middle of a public setting where passersby stare and shake their heads while whispering under their breath about how differently they would be handling the situation.

And the exhale of every mama to the passerby: Whatever man.  

For our elementary school-aged kids it may take on the picture of playground turbulence among seven year olds. Clearly your little cherub is the one without any offense in the drama of the day because Mama-I-Neeeever-Would-Do-Something-Like-That!

Riiiiighhht, kid. (eye-wink)

And our teenagers. Bless them. They honestly are truly so much fun at this stage. But they also know so very much. About everything. In all of life. (Insert a Mama-Eye-Roll). 

Who cares that we have lived a good two decades longer? Our precious teens clearly know way more.

It’s hard for a mama to stay sane during all the phases of the WHAT IS GOING ON drama? (head scratch)

I recognize I am called to fight for the hearts of my kids for 365 days a year, even when I am at my weariest. And as my counselor reminded me: During hard moments of parenting, sarcastic parenting is not always the most helpful parenting.

Drat. I am stellar at SSL. (Sarcasm as my Second Language)

During these seasons, I want to build a mantra around our home and remind all members of Team Wanderer that: Our family is going to fight hard for one another even when we don’t want to.

I want them to experience:

We will cheer for each other. Even when we may not believe they will win.

We we comfort each other. Even when it feels awkward.

We will stay up late for each other. Even when we are tired.

We will pray for each other. Even when we ourselves are experiencing silence. 

We will listen to each other. Even when we would prefer to speak.

We will share our highs and our lows and believe in each other.

We will like each other even when we don't.

If the generation cominng after our kids (their own children) is going to be a generation of sharers, carers, lovers, listeners and prayers, then we have to do the hard work now and and pour in those things. Even when mamas, daddies and siblings don’t feel like it.  

Because mamas, let’s be honest, there are days when we Just. Don’t. Feel. Like. It.

Summer is here and a lot of WHAT IS GOING ON? is coming for my lips.

I’m trying to develop this mantra:

We are going to fight for each other's hearts even when it's hard. We are going to laugh at each other's jokes even when they are not one bit funny. And we will go hoarse cheering each other on, even if we are coming in dead last. Because family. And family is hard and awesome and painful and beautiful. Family is worth all the mess and fun and all the feels.

And after five years it still chokes me up into an ugly-cry to hear these three humans, who were born to another woman, call me mom.

So, parents, here's to 365 days of fighting hard for the hearts of our families.

We can do it! I'm cheering us on! 

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Confessions of a Fat Mom FAQs!

Women, you amaze me. The depth of your hearts is astonishing.  After my first Confessions Of A Fat Mom post, you showed up BIG time with your personal stories and genuine estrogen-filed encouragement.  If I could reach inside the internet, grab all of your hands and sing a long chorus of We Are Family, I would. You ladies are a gift.

And then I ran into gals in restaurants and stores and and we stopped to hug in the middle of produce sections. My goodness. We hardly said any words at all except a big never-let-go embrace and mutterings of, “Your article” with repeat hugs and an “I know."

Passersby thought we were old friends reunited after much time apart. Nope, total strangers with a common bond connecting our hearts: the desire to be UNCONSUMED.

Sisters, we can do this! We can be warriors in our health and experience victory!

Many of you had questions… and requests for more Confessions of a Fat Mom Posts. 

 

While I work on few new posts, here are some FAQs from you ladies:

Q Is there a group we can join to motivate, inspire, cheer and laugh together?

 

A Technically no. But organically, yes. In our posts on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter that talk about our decisions to move more, eat less food and hold tight with our thoughts, we can use the hashtag: #moremovelessfoodholdtight  That will help us stay connected organically. If you use this hashtag, I may use your posts in upcoming articles.  I will message you to ask permission before using.

 

Q May I have contact information on the Personal Trainer you used?

 

A His name is Clarence Stokes and HE IS AMAZING! Truly, the best of the best.  Here is his Facebook Page: Get Stoked By Clarence

 

Q How do you keep your mind from being consumed with failure?

 

A That’s hard, isn’t it?  It’s the secret to this entire battle. Mind, Diet and Body success revolves around our minds not being consumed. I personally read scriptures (and plaster them everywhere) about freedom. It helps keep me focused on the goal.  The goal is so much greater than simply being thinner. The goal is freedom and health.

We can do this, sister-friends! Until my next Confessions Of A Fat Mom Post, I will be waving my woman-wings and cheering you on to FREEDOM!

Today… we CAN move more, eat less and hold tight to our thoughts! 

Go to social media and tell me what you are going to do today! #moremovelessfoodholdtight

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My FitBit and My Over Extended Arm Swing

On Mother’s Day my incredible teenager gifted me with a long-wanted Fitbit.  Joshua downloaded the app to my phone and set it up for me to begin my journey of counting steps.  Each day I tap my wrist with pure hopefulness and watch the numbers climb.

Last week my hubs and I went on a field trip with our fourth grader to Jamestown. Each Virginian knows this field trip well.  It’s a rite of passage for every elementary school kid in our Commonwealth.

The night prior to the bus leaving I was hopeful to get a maximum number of steps during our time in the land of John Smith and Pocahontas.

As we experienced the colony, the ships, the colonial people, I discovered something: I have developed an Over-Achieving-Arm-Swing. (OAAS)

Throughout all of Jamestown and Yorktown I produced an over-extended arm swing with an obnoxious full range of motion. And due to the OAAS I refused to miss one swing, errrr, I mean step throughout my time with these very active fourth graders.

As we strolled by the canons and colonial dwellings, my sweet hubs would swoop in to hold my hand. You would think I would be completely giddy for a full day of hubby-hand-holding. But if Ed at all grabbed my FitBit arm, I immediately moved to his other side to insure the steps were actually counted on my stepping device. Which actually was a win-win-win. I was able to hold his hand, get my swing in, and gain a few extra swings since I did the quick step to his other side.

Later that evening we arrived home from the field trip and my first grader asked for a walk to the playground.  Of course! On. It. My. Cherub.

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As we walked, she insisted on holding my FitBit arm. I pondered the situation and her need for connectedness as well as my need to keep her on the safe side of the road. I then began to swing our arms super high, as if playing some weird let's-see-if-we-can-touch-the-sky-game.

She bought it and in a few steps my arm buzzed with fireworks from the 10,000-step-delight. The OAAS was worth it!

So, all you FitBit Over-Achieving-Arm-Swingers Unite!

Onward to more steps & opposite hand-holds of our hubs and kids!

Win-Win-Win!

 

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My Disgusting Mom Mobile

Each year our Kid and Student Ministry Teams from Mount Ararat Church in Stafford take our annual pilgrimage to Atlanta for a Family Ministry Conference.

This year our voyage, with 16 fellow colleagues, was scheduled to depart at the end of April. I did what all wise girls do when they are about to take on three days of exceptional learning. 

I had my toes done (sandal weather in the ATL) and my eyebrows waxed (because every girl needs good eyebrows to take on a conference).

The day before we left I discovered I would be one of the drivers to help transport 16 adults to the airport.

I immediately became flushed, my heart began to beat wildly and panic nestled into my nerves. MY MAMA-MOBILE IS DISGUSTING.

mom mobile

I immediately drove to the nearest car-wash spot. I only had an hour in my time-belt before I needed to pick up my kids from school.  Isn’t that always the way it goes?

This was not looking good.  

As I entered the car-wash line, a young-twenty-something-bearded-boy motioned me towards the starting point. His eyes peering over his sunglasses told me he had seen my type before.

I didn’t care. I had a mission to accomplish.

Before I came to a complete stop and while my window was still lowering, I began (all in one breath): "Hey there. Listen, I have somewhat of a personal emergency. I am a mom. This is a mini-van. It houses five plus people every day (plus my kids' friends). It is gross. The cup holders look like a science experiment is happening inside, the carpet on the floor clearly is summoning Hansel and Gretel, the dashboard has the remnants of sneezes, pollen and dust and under the littlest Wanderer's car seat I think I heard the rustling of a small animal that has now become our unofficial pet."

I looked deep into the sunglass eyes of the young-twenty-something-bearded-boy and begged for complete mercy: "I need your great assistance to transform this thing into a houseable-mobile for adults to travel to an airport tomorrow morning. And, if possible, I need it done in an hour so I can go pick my kids up from school. I’m not too proud to grovel and beg."

The young-twenty-something-bearded-boy stared at me, blinking and speechless: "Ummmm, ma’am, lemme go talk to my manager."

"Would it help for me to plead my own case? I can. I will. Just give me the nod."

"No, I got it, ma'am." (he says it slowly as if to convince himself this is real life)

Five minutes later, I found myself next door at Stabucks, beverage in hand, answering emails and waiting on the AMAZING CAR WASH PEOPLE to work some serious magic and whip that mom-mobile into shape.

I arrived back to the car wash one hour later, fully refreshed from my St. Bux Chai.

When I stepped one foot into my newly renovated Mom-Mobile, I thought I’d arrived into pure luxury.

It was so beautiful! I wanted to make that lovely Sienna my permanent dwelling. The clean car aroma was sensational. No more sour small, no more crunched up pretzels on the floor, no more sneezes on the dashboard. Pure. Luxury.

I decided I immediately would contact the post office for a residence change card. I am moving from my home to the blissfulness of wherever that little Black Sienna is parked.

Disgusting-Mom-Mobile-Owners, there is hope for us!

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Pouches' Community Corner

Bikers Against Child Abuse, Inc. (BACA) exists to create a safer environment for abused children by empowering children to not feel afraid of their world. Imagine how an abused child feels when a group of large bikers rides up to their house, inducts them into their club and then escorts them to court to testify against their abuser.

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