One of My Favorite Places to Drink Coffee

coffee, my mission

One of my favorite places to drink coffee is at Keen Bean Coffee Roasters in Mt. Vernon, MO. I found this place when I moved to Mt. Vernon in 2007 and was so excited about having a place in town that reminded me of the cute little coffee shops I frequented in Boston. It reminded me of home. It reminded me of the times I would head to the tucked away local coffee shops and study for my exams in college. It was perfect and I miss it. I moved out of Mt. Vernon one year ago last weekend and while I love Arkansas and all that it has to offer – I miss the people of Mt. Vernon. They made this east coast transplant feel welcome and loved and wanted and for that, I am forever grateful.

Tracy and Darrell Bradshaw, owners of Keen Bean, are some of the nicest people you will meet. It’s evident that they love what they do and they love their community. When I asked Tracy if I could have one of my book signings at her shop this summer, she said yes. And when I asked her if she would donate some gift certificates to my “Overwhelmed to In Control” Facebook group of women, she said yes. So supportive and encouraging are my friends in Mt. Vernon and I do not take that for granted. I have waited a large part of my adult life to meet people who would make me want to be a better person and believe in me enough that I would believe in myself enough to make some of my wildest dreams come true. Women, friends and mentors like Terrie, Shannon, Jolene and Donna, have all left imprints on my heart that I carry with me everyday. Friends and people that I know God placed in my life at the exact moment he knew I would need them, like Amanda, Nichole, Candace, Jene, Kristina, Katrina, Chelsie, Lauren, Angela, Kayla, Bridgette, Cortney, Theresa and Alexis included me when I was a brand new mom looking for my way. They also let me walk alongside them when I was learning about my faith and asking question upon question.

I love that I can connect with them and stay connected with them through social media. I also love that I will get to see them again soon – towards the end of the summer when my debut book, “I See You,” releases later this year.

Summer Bucket List 2016

My kids have been asking if we can do this and do that this summer so I decided to come up with a summer bucket list (with their help, of course). I thought this might be a fun idea center for any of you who are looking for things to do with your kids.

Ruffing Summer Bucket List 2016

1.) We used to go to Bass Pro all the time when we lived in Missouri and that is the number one thing that Dylan wants to do. So, we will be heading to the flagship store pretty soon. They always have fun stuff going on and this year is no exception. They usually have a family summer camp program that is free and a lot of fun.

2.) Hannah loves Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO and she is BEGGING  to go but as you know it is kind of pricey. So, I’m not sure if we will go this summer or not but I do know they offer half off on Thursdays. You can usually pick up these half off tickets at a grocery store.

3. The Candy House has awesome candy making classes that I’ve been taking my kids to for the past few years now. I highly recommend this place and it is well worth the $10/$15 that it costs per kid.

4. We have a season’s pass to the Amazeum and usually go once a week so we will definitely continue to do that. You can pack a lunch and eat in their little dine-in lunch place. Their cafe is kind of overpriced in my opinion and very limited with what they offer.

5. The Dickerson Park Zoo is one of our favorite places. We can easily spend most of the day there and my kids love feeding the giraffes and riding the train.

6. Parks. I love parks because they’re free but I we don’t go much in the summer because of the heat…so, we usually go to the Splash Pad. It’s free, it’s outside and it’s fun. There’s also this awesome icee truck nearby that hits the spot for my sweet tooth every.single.time.

7. The pool at our community center is amazing. It’s brand new, clean, convenient and affordable.

8. The library has a great summer reading program so we will try and go there once a week for storytime and to log our hours to earn prizes.

9. Barnes & Noble also has a free summer reading program and they have a wonderful storytime every Saturday at 11am. I enjoy getting a cup of coffee at the Starbucks while I sit with my kids and listen to someone else read a book for once 🙂

This is what we’ve come up with so far but I know we’ll be adding to this list. Feel free to comment on my page and add your own things so that we can all see them! Share this page with friends to give them some fun ideas for the summer and don’t forget to sign up for my free newsletter!

What if???

cats and milk

What if we lived in a place where moms were allowed to be moms? What if we lived in a judgement free zone where moms could make mistakes? What if…we gave ourselves a break from doing it all? What would that look like? Well, it might look like this…No, that’s not my house, or my kids or my cat. I don’t have a cat…I have a dog. Anyways, the point is – who cares? Who cares if your house is messy. Sometimes I do but you know what, it will get cleaned. Give yourself time to rest and be human. If you don’t get to the dishes until the next morning – that’s okay.

I’ve come to realize that I am my worst critic. I really am. I expect a lot out of myself and when I don’t deliver on my own standards – I put myself down. Not out loud – but in my head. I tell myself I need to do more, I need to play more with the kids, I need to read more to the kids, I need to make healthier dinners. I tell myself I need to be working out more than I already am and when I see another grey hair in the mirror, I can’t believe I’ve let myself go. No one else puts that pressure on me. Well, sometimes I think my kids do because they’re constantly asking for things, but in reality, I am not giving myself room to breathe and to be human. I’m not allowing myself any margin in my life to have down time or quiet time. My kids have quiet time but I generally do things around the house or write during that time. I need to be more intentional about self feeding. Meaning, carving out time for me. No one else is going to put that there except for me. What would your day look like if you gave yourself 15 minutes of uninterrupted time? Would you be a better mom for it? Would you be a sweeter wife? I’m constantly lifting my friends up when they pull themselves down but what I really want is for them to look inside themselves and see that they’re already the most amazing mom. They’re already the mom they need to be for their kids and they’re already the wife who loves her husband. I bet you are too. I bet  you are just as amazing as I think you are and if I could tell you that in person, I totally would (and maybe I already have). xoxo Meagan

The Middle Child Dilemma

helping moms go from overwhelmed to in control

I have three kids. Dylan (7), Hannah (4), and Elinor (2). Hannah, of course, is my middle child. She is the child I prayed for when Gabe and I were trying for our second baby. When we found out we were pregnant with a girl, we had two names in mind; Hannah and Reese. I let Dylan choose and he chose Hannah. It wasn’t until after she was named that I came across this verse in the Bible, 1 Samuel 1:27, “For this child I have prayed…” I later learned that this verse refers to when Hannah prayed for the Lord to give her a son. There’s that name again, Hannah. I had no idea. I can’t help but think God had this all planned out for me. He knew I would get pregnant with a girl and He knew I would name her Hannah. There was no one in my life at the time whose name was Hannah and so I wasn’t carrying it on or using it as a namesake.

Who knew that this child would someday be my most treasured human being. All of my children are but Hannah is special in her own way. She is the middle child and with that comes all sorts of challenges. She demands more of my attention than the other two. Is it because she’s the middle child? She wines more than the other two. Is it because she’s the middle child? She talks back more than the other two. Is it because she’s the middle child? I started to look into this. This idea that there really is a middle-child syndrome that they speak of. The one where the middle child feels left out, forgotten, overlooked. I started to look at my own parenting of her and questioned whether or not I was doing things right. Was I spending enough time with her? Was I giving her enough praise? Was I making enough eye contact? Was I on my phone too much when she was trying to get my attention?

All of these thoughts started swirling around in my head and started to make me feel like I’d all of a sudden messed up my child’s entire life. I started to put that awful, crazy, heavy word as a label: GUILT. The mother of all words. I wasn’t doing enough. I wasn’t present enough. Some days I was so ridden with guilt that I would do anything and everything just to appease her. I would let bad behavior slide and I would make excuses for her attitude. When Gabe delicately said to me one day, “Why do you give her so many passes? You don’t do that for Dylan.” Ouch. Convicted much? But he was right. Why was I allowing her to get away with these things and not Dylan? Simple. She is my middle child. The point of this is – don’t let guilt be the reason for any part of your parenting. Let your parenting be a reflection of God’s love for you and for all of His children. Treat each of your children with the same love and the same grace that covers us all.

I’ve stirred things up a bit over here. I’ve started following through on my threats to take away TV time. I’ve started following through on losing play privileges with her friends. Not because she is my middle child but because she is one of my three children.

When I start to feel guilt creep back in like a nasty bug, I squash it right out of my head and instead, fill myself with truth and grace and love. I remind myself of all the things I do right by being Hannah’s mom and I take hold of the less than proud parenting-moments and I ask for forgiveness. Whether that’s out loud or in my heart or both. I do it because I want my middle child to know that she is loved just as much as her brother and sister. 
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The Behavior Jar

Dylan has started play therapy and while this form of therapy is not new for us – we are hopeful that this time it will work since Dylan is older and better able to cooperate. Watch this cute little video of me showing you what the jar looks like and how it should be used.

If you decide to use marbles, you can move your marker/level up a little bit higher. Since I used really tiny beads, I want to keep Dylan engaged and interested so I made his first goal about a half an inch high. His dad and I talked about the different goals and went over them with Dylan. Here’s what that looks like:

  • $5 at Target
  • Chuck E Cheese
  • Movie with a friend
  • Sleepover

These are in order of him reaching each goal. You can’t take any beads away since the point of the reward system is to have a “safe” place where the child can see their good deeds and good decisions. Once you start taking things away, the system becomes unstable and the idea is that the child will lose interest. Today is day one for us. I’ll keep you posted!

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Reason behind the book

I am blown away by the immense amount of support that I have received for my forthcoming book, “I See You” which comes out later this summer. Friends, family and even strangers  have continued to encourage me every step of the way and I am just so thankful for all the love. I have had a few people ask me what the book is about so I thought I would answer that here.

“I See You” is a parenting book about raising my son Dylan. The book is divided into two parts. The first half is about the struggles I experienced with Dylan when he was just a baby and not understanding why I could never soothe him or calm him down. Each chapter is a personal account of our family’s life through the years as we sought help for our son’s tantrums, meltdowns, and strong-willed attitude.

The second half of the book is about taking care of yourself. I have included worksheets to help you breakdown big things in your life that may be overwhelming you into bite-sized nuggets of truth to help you on your way. I share tips and tricks that have helped me over the years to parent my own children when I’m feeling depressed, run down and like a flat out failure. This book encourages, equips and gives parents hope to keep going when they feel like they can’t go anymore.

You will be the first to know about the book’s release date and all of my local book signings. Thanks again for your support!

Hang In There Sweet Mamas…

An open letter to my sweet mama friends…

Dear Mom Friend,

I saw you today. I saw you checking your phone and looking up at your child when she yelled over at you to watch her go down the slide just one more time. I saw you look over at her and I can tell what you’re thinking. “Have I been on my phone too much today? Does my daughter think I’ve been on the phone too much? Does she know how much I love her? I want to check my emails just one more time but I’m afraid she’ll see me checking them and then she’ll grow up thinking that her mom was too busy looking at her phone IMG_1757to play with her at the playground. Oh my gosh. I’m a terrible mother. Why can’t I just want to play all the time? I wonder if other parents get bored of going to the park?”

I heard you today. I heard you telling your son to stop acting that way. I heard you tell him that you weren’t going to buy him the ice cream you promised him for picking his room up. I heard you tell him that if he didn’t stop saying bad words that you’d wash his mouth out with soap. I also heard you crying on the phone. You were telling someone on the other end that you felt like a failure. I could read your mind and I knew that you were thinking these moments of you yelling and threatening and being the mean mom were the only things your child would remember from his childhood. I also heard your prayer. I heard you asking God for wisdom and patience and grace.

Sweet mama friend, hang in there. Hope is just around the corner. Wisdom, patience and grace are just within your reach and you are doing a great job at raising this child of yours. Just because your parenting looks different than another mom’s – doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. It just means you’re doing what works for you and your family. Remember that. Don’t compare. Stay in your lane. Encourage other moms. Believe in yourself. You’re a good, good mom.

xoxo, one mom to another

Have You Ever Felt Like You Didn’t Deserve It?

I’m on my second day of a 10-Day Detox and if I’m being honest, I’ve been tempted more than once, twice…okay…a bazillion times to scrap the whole thing. I mean really, why am I doing this? My husband started with me yesterday and by the time he got home, our conversation went something like this. (Heads up – this is funny stuff…)detox
Gabe (walks in the door from work) – “This is awful.”
Me (smirking at him) – “Yeah, I know. It’s hard, isn’t it?”
Gabe – “No really. When I was driving home from work I thought, ‘I’m a danger to society’. I’m so tired I can’t handle it.”
Me (laughing hysterically) – “A danger to society? Really? That bad, huh?”
Gabe – “That’s it. I’m ordering a taco pizza from Casey’s. And you’re nuts by the way. No way am I doing that cleanse thing.”
Me – “I know, I know. I want to see what my body feels like after though. I’ve never done anything like this before and I’m excited to see how I feel.”

So this whole thing started when I went to visit a friend in Missouri and she mentioned this cleanse that she was going to start in April. After I asked her a million questions about it, I decided to buy the book myself and go for it. I’ve either been pregnant or nursing for the last six years and so my body hasn’t really been “my body”. I’ve either been cutting back on coffee because of pregnancy and nursing or I’ve been loading up on food to keep a good milk supply. I’d say in the last year, really, just the last year, I have started to take care of myself again. For me, this looks like going to the gym again, trying new workout classes, drinking more water, getting sunshine on my face and now, starting this detox thing.

For whatever reason, I struggle with feeling like I don’t deserve certain things. Does that make sense? For example, if I go out and buy a new outfit, I feel guilty about doing so because I think I should be spending that money on my kids or saving it for something else. Since joining the gym, I have felt this tug of war with myself. I love the hour I get to myself (childcare is provided) and I absolutely love, love, love the way my body feels after getting in a good workout. The other half of me says I don’t deserve it…like I should be at home reading to my kids rather than dancing my heart out in Zumba. But I just can’t shake the feeling of how good I feel after sweating all my pent up stressors out and just letting my mind be free from anything other than a deep stretch or a hardcore round of abs. Then I think…I can’t be the only mom who feels this way? In fact, I know I’m not. I have a friend who wants to workout but doesn’t because she doesn’t want to leave her kids in childcare. I have another friend who goes at night so that she doesn’t have to be away from her kids. And I have a lot of friends who don’t work on themselves at all because they’re so busy with their kids that they don’t even think about taking care of themselves. Why is it this way? When did we become moms who only took care of others? I don’t know. But I do know that each of us have to come to that decision on our own. What feels right for me and my life might not feel right for you. But I do challenge you to ask yourself, what is it that I want to do? And do I believe I deserve it?

Minecraft Mommy Time

My son has recently gotten into Minecraft. His neighbor friend has it at his house and Dylan had a routine every day after school where he would race out of the car and into Sat’s house. I asked around to some of my friends to see if Minecraft was appropriate for his age and was told, yes, it’s a great game and lets kids use their imaginations by building, creating and surviving on different levels. It was something that was making him happy and I was so excited that he’d finally found something that he was interested in…like REALLY interested in. I loved the fact that I got some quiet time, too. I was never ready for the rough and tumble of my boy at 3 o’clock when my littlest was still snoring away in her crib. To be quite honest, I selfishly just didn’t want to deal with having to go from snuggling on the couch and reading books with Ellie to disciplining, yelling and being stressed out with Dylan. Harsh – but the reality of our situation.
I knew my laissez-faire attitude about Minecraft would eventually catch up to me. My sister Laura was visiting this past week and I found myself a bit embarrassed at the amount of time I was allowing Dylan to enter into his virtual world. Instead of planning activities for him or preplanning how I would deal with his behavior from not playing Minecraft – I chose to avoid it and let him play whenever and wherever he wanted. I knew I couldn’t let this continue. I had to take the bull by the horns and be the parent. So, my sister and I went to Barnes & Noble to pick up a few things and while we were there, I ran into the gal who runs storytime there every Saturday. I’d seen her children at her storytime hour before and her son looked to be about the same age as my son so I decided to ask her, “Does your son play Minecraft and how often?”
Our conversation went on for quite a while and even included another mom joining in with her two cents on how much screen time is enough. My sister jokingly said, “You guys should meet back here next week for Minecraft Mommy Time!”
So my question is this…for those of you who have children who like to watch the iPad or play virtual games…what’s your limit?

Mommy Guilt 101 – How To Let it Go

What if we took all of that guilt that we feel as moms and turned it into one-on-one prayer time with God? What would our moments with our children look like? How different would we feel if we knew that He still loved us in spite of yelling at our children for the umpteenth time? This happens on a daily basis with me. I find myself in constant prayer almost every moment of every day through the sweet moments and sour moments with each of my kids. If they are acting great, I praise God and thank him for these blessings but when they’re acting out, I ask God for guidance and patience. Feeling guilty and hanging on to that guilt is what cripples me so I pray for myself too, that the heavy weight I feel as a mom would be turned into something that would bear fruit for other moms going through their own parenting journey.
I wholeheartedly believe that God gave us the kids He wanted us to be moms to. Who else could put up with their shenanigans? So when you find yourself up in the middle of the night because your baby won’t go back to sleep or you just can’t fathom how you’ll get the house clean, make dinner AND look put together…know this. God sees you. He sees all of you and covers you with His grace even when we feel undeserving. All He wants is to know us and for us to continually seek Him before all else. Having this kind of relationship might not shed your guilt overnight – but it will keep things in perspective; that you are the right mom for your child. Knowing this truth and believing it will help you feel more in control of that guilt…and that moms, is a beautiful thing.