March 4, 2014

Easter ebook for preschoolers

Looking for a creative and meaningful way to teach your children about Easter? Here is a new ebook full of activities to help your child (and whole family!) get a sense of the resurrection. The author also wrote Truth in the Tinsel, which is an Advent program I have used with my 4 year old daughter Meredith the past 2 years and loved. I am so looking forward to using this new Easter book with her this year. I have read through it already and wholeheartedly recommend it. Sign up for the Oh Amanda newsletter and you will receive a discount code for the ebook (good until March 12).

A Sense of the Resurrection

November 5, 2013

Interview with Mentor Mom Annie Martinez

Since the MOPS theme this year is "A Beautiful Mess: Embracing Your Story," we will be featuring the stories of the Castro Valley MOPS community. Here is the story of one of our lovely mentor moms, Judy Poling.

Tell us about yourself and your family.
I'm a stay-at-home mom. My husband Joel is a marketing manager at a Silicon Valley high tech company. I have two teenage girls--Chelsea, 16, and Hayley, 14--and they both go to Redwood Christian High School. We attend church at Redwood Chapel.

Tell us about your experience and involvement in MOPS.
I attended MOPS when my kids were preschoolers. I loved its ministry to new moms like me and benefited from the wisdom and teaching. I find it interesting that I've gone full circle and am back at MOPS after all these years.

What is your favorite thing about MOPS?
I love how MOPS encourages and equips young mothers in this very important God-given role. There is a huge need for this kind of ministry. MOPS is meeting that need.

What is the wisest mom advice you have ever received?
In early childhood, the days are long, but the years are short. I heard this at a MOPS meeting when I was a new mom. The speaker was encouraging us to focus, not on the hardships or difficulties, but on enjoying and savoring these days because they will be gone before you know it. It was an enlightening message that I needed to hear at the time.

What is your favorite Scripture verse/passage and why?
My favorite Scripture verse/passage changes according to what is going on in my life at the moment. When I study the Bible, I find it amazing everytime God gives me a verse or passage that happens to exactly correlate to my current situation/challenge/difficulty. Then I grab ahold of this verse and meditate on it, act on it, and sometimes memorize it. At times I write this verse on an index card and put it on my minivan dashboard so I can read it or memorize it as I drive my kids around.

As a new mom, what kinds of things did you do to treat yourself, for fun and to stay relaxed?
I made friends with other young mothers and considered it a treat to spend time and build relationships with them, whether over coffee sans kids or (more often) with our kids in tow during playdates.

What is your favorite "mommy memory" when your children were preschoolers?
I have too many fond mommy memories and can't choose just one. I enjoyed the simple pleasures of reading to the kids, singing and dancing with them, going on trips with them and introducing them to new experiences.


How has motherhood changed you?
It made me less selfish and self-centered--it helped me to focus on someone else's needs at the expense of my own.


What was the one most important principle you wanted to teach your child(ren)?
I felt that the most important thing I need to teach my children was:

1) they need a Savior, and that Savior is Jesus, and by trusting in Jesus, who died for their sins, they can be reconciled with God,

2) they need to grow in their relationship with God, in their love for Him, in their obedience to Him, in maturity and wisdom.

I know that they have since gotten #1, but #2 is a lifelong process that they will need to continue to work on long after they leave the nest.


What is your mom motto or favorite mom quote?

"Motherhood is a ministry." With this in mind, since God entrusted us with this high calling, we are to embrace it and strive to be good stewards of this awesome responsibility. This truth helps me set my priorities for my time, money and goals, especially in a society that pressures mothers to invest in things the world values instead. It also encourages me to have a better attitude over what can be perceived as menial, repetitive chores.

October 25, 2013

Interview with MOPS Mom Monica Hubbard

Since the MOPS theme this year is "A Beautiful Mess: Embracing Your Story," we will be featuring the stories of the Castro Valley MOPS community. Here is the story of one of our MOPS Creative Activities coordinators, Monica Hubbard.





Tell us about yourself and your family.
I've been married to Bryan for 11 years. We are doing our best to raise our 3 kids: our athletic 8-year-old son, our outgoing and silly 6-year-old son, and our pink and princess-loving 3-year-old. 

I am Castro Valley born and raised....and still living here. 

Tell us about your experience and involvement in MOPS. 
I joined MOPS when I was newly pregnant with my second son. I found instant playmates for my son, and friendships for me through my table group. It was nice to have new connections in this new stage of life and other moms to share mommy advice with.

This is my sixth year on the creative activities team. 

What is your favorite thing about MOPS? 
The food. I do love to eat, but it is actually the company of the moms at my table I enjoy even more than the food.

I also love craft time. ;) 

What is the wisest mom advice you have ever received? 
This little piece of simple advice came from Judy a few years back. She said she did a lot of marching with her young boys. You know those times when the toddlers can't make it from Point A to Point B because they are tired, throwing a fit, or just distracted? Well, Judy said to have them march. The point is to change the behavior into something engaging, playful, and silly. Count the stairs as you go up, skip together, sing a song, race, or try not to step on the cracks...because you know what happens next in that rhyme. Trying to playful and creative as a mom is more beneficial than giving into the demands of a tired cranky toddler. 

What were your thoughts when you found out you were pregnant with your first child? 
Ahhh, now I really do have to go through labor! Of course, the prize was worth it, and the epidural was beyond amazing. 

What is a must-have kid product that you recommend? 
Scooters. They are easy to toss in the back of the car for a trip to the lake or park. When the kids get really fast, you'll have to run to catch up which them. Instant workout.

October 6, 2013

Harvest Activities

Save the dates for these harvest activities at various churches around the CV area!



San Lorenzo Japanese Christian Church
Thursday, 10/31 @ 5:30-7:00PM
Games, stories, photo area, and more!
Light dinner and snacks provided. Everything is free!
http://slzjcc.org/2009/10/10/harvest-festival/

Creekside Candy Company
Friday, 10/25 @ 6:00-8:00PM
Decorate cookies, make a craft, carnival games, life size version of Candyland.
Admission is two bags of individually wrapped candies per family.
http://creeksidecommunity.org/events/2013/10/25/creekside-candy-company


Redwood Chapel Community Church Harvest Festival
Thursday, 10/31 @ 5:00-8:00PM
Food, games, candy!
Admission: $2.50/child
Food tickets: $0.50/booth
http://storage.cloversites.com/redwoodchapelcommunitychurch/documents/PPFOnlineFlyer.pdf

Neighborhood Church Fall Festival
Saturday, 10/19 @ 10AM-12PM
Petting zoo, pumpkin patch, dunk tank, inflatables, and games!
Pumpkins and snacks are for sale, but everything else is free.
http://www.3crosses.org/theadventure/pages/2558-fall-festival

First Presbyterian Church of Hayward Trunk or Treat
Thursday, 10/31 @ 6:00-8:00PM
Food and treats!

September 24, 2013

Interview with MOPPETS Worker Robin Gomez

Since the MOPS theme this year is "A Beautiful Mess: Embracing Your Story," we will be featuring the stories of the Castro Valley MOPS community. Here is the story of our MOPPETS coordinator, Robin Gomez.

Photo Credit: nan D photography

Tell us about yourself and your family.

My name is Robin Gomez and I'm the MOPPET's Coordinator. I've been married to John for 22 years on September 14th! We have three kids who all help in MOPPETS! Ben is 19, Alex is 17 and Tori is 15.


Tell us about your experience and involvement in MOPS.

I attended my first MOPS when I was pregnant with Ben - that will be 19 years ago in January. In June I was asked to be the Coordinator for the following year! I encouraged my friends to join me so I wasn't in it alone! Besides Coordinator, I have also done Crafts, Hospitality, Publicity, and now MOPPETS. There was also a homeschool room that I helped in after Tori graduated Kindergarten. I started helping in MOPPETS 2 1/2 years ago because my daughter wanted to help and she couldn't help unless I was there. It has been a joy to serve alongside her in this ministry.


What age group do you work with? Which room?

I work in the Nursery with the babies.


What is your favorite part of working in the MOPPETS ministry?

Knowing that you MOMS are getting some adult time and conversation. I enjoyed my time in MOPS so much, that I want to give back so that other moms can experience it, too.


When you are not serving in MOPPETS, what are you doing? Work/hobby?

I homeschool my kids (the first graduated in 2012). I am a Creative Memories Consultant (18 years) and a LifeVantage Distributor (9 months). I enjoy walking and exercising and cooking healthy food. I enjoy camping (I only wish I could do more of it!) and spending time with my family.


What is your best MOPPETS memory?

I like seeing how God provides just enough volunteers every week to watch your kids. I also love seeing special smiles from babies and moms!


Anything else you would like to share with the MOPS moms?

Enjoy your MOPS years! They will help you be a better mom and wife. They sure helped me!

September 17, 2013

Interview with Mentor Mom Judy Poling

Since the MOPS theme this year is "A Beautiful Mess: Embracing Your Story," we will be featuring the stories of the Castro Valley MOPS community. Here is the story of one of our lovely mentor moms, Judy Poling.






Tell us about yourself and your family.
Wife of Rick Poling for 37 years.   Mother to Ryan/Charissa Poling and Nathan/Aimee Poling.  Grandmother to Caleb 9, Logan 7, Maile 5, Dylan 3 1/2, Landan 3 and Jacob 21 mos.

Tell us about your experience and involvement in MOPS.
I think this is my 7th year in MOPs as a Mentor Mom.

What is your favorite thing about MOPS?
Connecting with young women

What is the wisest mom advice you have ever received?
Will this really matter in 5 or 10 years?

What is your favorite Scripture verse/passage and why?
Philippians 4:20 - "I can do everything through him who gives me strength".  When life gets hard (and it does) this verse helps me to have more of a 'can do' attitude in the midst of the tough stuff reminding me that it's not about me and my abilities, but Christ and Christ alone.

What were your thoughts when you found out you were pregnant with your first child?
Oh my - this isn't easy to admit - but I cried like a baby at the doctor's office.  I had only been married 5 months, we just put a down payment on our first home &  thought I was going in to see the doctor to have a DNC procedure.  Of course after the shock wore off we were excited.

As a new mom, what kinds of things did you do to treat yourself, for fun and to stay relaxed?
I surrounded myself with other moms going through the same age and stage of motherhood.  We didn't have MOPs, but my church family was a great support system.  LOL- not sure I was ever a 'relaxed' mom, but on occassion I did try to take a 'one night a week' evening class to help keep my sanity.

What was your favorite thing about being a mom of preschoolers?
The hugs and kisses & seeing the world through their innocent eyes.

What is your favorite "mommy memory" when your children were preschoolers?
When one of my sons was 5, without my knowledge he emptied his piggy bank of all of his money and gave it to a little boy of a single mom at school so that his new friend could buy a new pair of shoes.

Share about your most memorable family vacation.
We have several - but one memorable camping vacation we had a mouse in our tent in the middle of the night AND our path crossed with a disturbed bee hive on a hike - we all got stung :(.  Plus, the friends we were camping with accidentally set the wooden picnic table at their site on fire.  And Yes, we still enjoy camping as a family!

How has motherhood changed you?
It's taught me how to give complete unconditional love.  The kind of love that our Heavenly Father has for us.  Not based on performance or expectations.

What has been your proudest parenting moment?
Watching our two sons interact with their children.  They are both very loving daddies to their little ones.

What was your biggest challenge as a mother of preschoolers? Did you overcome it? How did you overcome it?
Having a 'strong willed child' had some very difficult moments. 
Hmmmm overcome it - Well, thankfully we didn't kill each other - LOL. 
It wasn't easy, and I don't think I always did the 'right thing', but I tried very hard to be consistent.  I prayed alot, read some books like James Dobson's "The Strong Willed Child" and tried to apply biblical principles.

What was the one most important principle you wanted to teach your child(ren)?
To be a 'Christ follower', not just a 'church goer'.

What is your mom motto or favorite mom quote?
"What would Jesus do?"  It's a life motto for me.

Any last words of wisdom to share?
Enjoy the moment - the years pass by quickly.

September 10, 2013

Interview with MOPS Mom Christy Mast

Since the MOPS theme this year is "A Beautiful Mess: Embracing Your Story," we will be featuring the stories of the Castro Valley MOPS community. Here is the story of our MOPS coordinator, Christy Mast.





Tell us about yourself and your family.
My name is Christy Mast. I grew up mostly in Georgia and spent my 20s working as a nurse and volunteering in youth ministry. Seven years ago I married Steve, and after a 2 year "honeymoon" in New Zealand, we moved to San Leandro. We have 2 children - Meredith is 3 and Philip is 5 months. We also have a cute little Chihuahua mix named Koa. Our family vacations almost always involve mountains or Disney parks (last summer we even combined the two).

Tell us about your experience and involvement in MOPS.
I joined MOPS just a couple weeks before I was due with my first child, 4 years ago. The following year I was a Discussion Group Leader. The next year I was asked to be Coordinator, and this will be my third year in that role.

What is your favorite thing about MOPS?
MOPPETS! Almost everything I do now involves my kids, so it is nice to have something that is for me.

What is the wisest mom advice you have ever received?
Pick your battles. This saves a lot of strife at our house. When you see my daughter wearing a red dress with hot pink leggings, you will know that was a battle I decided not to fight!

What were your thoughts when you found out you were pregnant with your first child?
This was a long hoped for baby, so I was happy, but the overwhelming emotion was worry. At just 6 weeks along my doctor thought I would have a miscarriage - that was a nerve wracking several days. Of course everything turned out to be fine, but I still find myself worrying about new things at every stage of development. I used to be an ER nurse, so those memories feed my worries.

What did you learn about being a mom from your own mom?
My mom was a big encouragement when I was approaching my due date and thinking about childbirth. She would say, "your body was made to do this." While labor and delivery was certainly difficult, everything went well and I wasn't anxious about the process.

How has motherhood changed you?
I stay home a lot more and shower a lot less.

What is your biggest challenge as a mom? Have you overcome it? How did you overcome it?
Time management! Without an employer to keep me accountable for my time, I can often get sidetracked from doing the things I really need to be doing. I have some days when I am more productive than others, but it is definitely an ongoing struggle. I find that if I get lots of things checked off my "to do" list one day, then the next day you can probably find me on the couch! I need to focus on moderation - completing a reasonable amount of tasks each day and not wearing myself out.

What is the one most important principle you want to teach your child(ren)?
Grace. I want to ooze grace - walking that fine line between setting and enforcing boundaries and also letting them know they are deeply loved no matter what.