Monday, October 14, 2013

Appreciating Our Bodies

There are a lot of things that I love about being pregnant (including a few that I don’t).  One of the things I love most, however, is having a renewed awareness of the functional role that my body plays in the miraculous process of growing a human life.  In our culture, it is so easy to view our bodies in terms of our appearance and whether we are happy with our appearance.  At least for me, though, being pregnant reminds me of the far grander purpose and miracle of the female body. 

For two years prior to this pregnancy, my husband and I struggled with infertility in our quest to have a second child.  Throughout this process, I became very well educated about the intricacies of human reproduction.  There are literally thousands of tiny little processes that have to work just right in order for a healthy baby to be born.  Now. whenever I hear about a friend’s pregnancy, I want to jump for joy and exclaim, “It’s a miracle!”  This probably makes people think that I’m crazy, but I really believe it to be true!  Our bodies are amazing in what they are able to do. 

Beyond being pregnant and giving birth, our bodies are integral to our jobs as mothers.  Even if our children are adopted, are stepchildren, or came into our lives some other way, we still need our bodies to love and care for them.  We hold our babies and wrap them in our hugs with our arms.  We feed them, change them and play with them with our hands. We listen to their first words, smell their delicious baby smell, wipe their tears, and the list goes on and on.  Our bodies carry us around our homes and our communities as we go about our mothering tasks. 
Throughout our lives, our bodies allow us to experience the full bounty of love and life that God has given us.  We can smell the air after a fall rain, marvel at the beauty of God’s creation, hug the loved ones we are so lucky to share our lives with, and engage in all of the wonderful things that life has to offer.  I have been blessed with mostly good health.  When I remember all the good things that a healthy body allows me to experience and enjoy, I am reminded of how silly it is to be concerned with what I sometimes consider to be my body’s imperfections. 
Romans 12: 1-2 says, “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”  According to God, our bodies are holy and acceptable.  To have a healthy body with which to love, live and mother is an amazing, precious gift from God.  As far as God is concerned, my body is holy and acceptable.  On good days I am able to remember this.  I hope you will too.  

--Emily Fountain

Books in Abundance--Baby Board Books

Hello fellow MOPS moms,

It's never too early to start introducing the concepts of early literacy with your children. Thankfully, libraries and bookstores have made your task of helping the birth to 2 year crowd enjoy books even easier with sturdy board books that are just right for little hands to hold, turn and explore.  What makes a good board book for this age?  Here are some general criteria to look for that I have found to be true, both in my home and in working with children in the library world.  (Many of these books can be found in both paper and board book versions because they stay enjoyable past the age of "less gentle" readers.)

- Simplistic pictures

Two authors who do a great job with simple illustrations are Eric Carle and Byron Barton. Eric Carle is well known for classic books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?  These books are also nice because they have a repeated text that is easy to predict.  Even before children can enjoy the whole text, you can use these books to talk about what food or animals are on the pages.


Byron Barton is famous for books on simple concepts with child-like illustrations.  My son really loved his vehicle themed books like Trains or Trucks.  I also enjoy his Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs book which names some common dinosaur species with very simple text. Dinosaur lovers start young.

Realistic photographs


Looking at realistic photographs with babies can help them build vocabulary and language skills.  Roger Priddy authors the Bright Baby series of books, like Animals, shown above. They can spark great dialogue about animal sounds or where you might see each animal.  I also like the Say and Play series of board books by Sterling Publishing Company.  One title is Colors.  Each page has just one picture and one word like "green" and some grapes.  

High contrast shapes

Babies focus very well on high contrast shapes, such as the ones featured in Black and White by Tana Hoban.  Hoban has several books that follow this idea, so you can get several. These are great for dialogue on shape identification, which will eventually lead to letter identification and other symbols.

- Touch and Feel Books


Babies are very sensory and love to touch things to better understand the world around them. Touch and Feel books are a great way to interact with books beyond just the text or the pictures.  You can use these books to introduce some texture words like "bumpy" and "furry." One of my favorite touch and feel series is That's Not My ____.  (Duck, Train, Dinosaur, Monster, Princess, etc).  DK Publishing also has a large selection of great touch and feel books like Wild Animals.

Simple Rhyming Text


I know of no author who does simple rhyming text for babies better than Sandra Boynton. My son loved these books, and they are readily available at libraries and thrift stores. Boynton blends the rhyming text well with silly plots and likable animal characters.  Hippos Go Berserk and Moo, Baa, La La La! are sure to be two of your favorites as well.

As this list of board book criteria is in no way comprehensive, it will at least give some good places to start.  The best thing is to start sharing books with your children, whether they end up approving of my book picks or find their own favorites.  Look forward to next month when I will explore books with more of a seasonal theme (think Thanksgiving and Christmas).

--Emily Hawkins

October Recipe!

Happy Fall everyone! 

If you find yourself with a few extra minutes for a faux-fancy dinner, this is the ticket! You can make it all in one pan too, you just have to switch a few things out. Serve with some brown rice and a green veggie and you are good to go! It tastes better the next day as well, so pack for your spouse or enjoy yourself during nap time! It's so yummy! Enjoy!  

--Katie Hanchinamani

Recipe type: Dinner, Entree, Chicken, Main,
Prep time:  
Cook time:  
Total time:  
Serves: 4-6
I followed Nigel’s recipe but amended the quantities slightly as I needed to feed my family.
  • 50g butter
  • splash of olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 125g bacon/pancetta, sliced into thin strips
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 8 chicken pieces on the bone (I used 4 thighs and 4 drumsticks)
  • 250g portabellini mushrooms, sliced
  • 500ml Riesling (or dry white wine of your choice)
  • 250ml cream
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • handful chopped parsley
  1. Melt the butter and oil together in a large pan.
  2. Brown the chicken pieces all over and remove from the pan.
  3. Add the onions and bacon and allow to fry until the onions are soft and translucent and the bacon has rendered it’s fat.
  4. Add the garlic and allow to saute for another 30 seconds before removing the mixture from the pan (leaving the fat behind).
  5. Season the chicken with salt and pepper (I used white pepper) and place in the pan, skin down.
  6. Allow to brown all over then add the mushrooms and allow to fry for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the onion and bacon mixture back to the pan.
  8. Pour in the wine and allow to come up to a boil. Turn down the heat and cover. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
  9. After 15 minutes, uncover, turn up the heat and add the cream. Allow to cook for another 5 minutes.
  10. Add the chopped parsley and season to taste.
  11. Serve with rice, pasta or crusty bread.

Date-Night Restaurant Pick--Bar Dojo

Bar Dojo:

Going on a date with the hubby and want to stay local just in case you get the dreaded, “Hi____, I am really sorry but____ just threw up all over that afghan in your room (the one your grandmother so lovingly made for you)”… ok I digress. Point is, go to Bar Dojo, it’s in Edmonds located at Five Corners, and has delectable fare! This restaurant is fabulous, and while they do have a kids menu, it is not a spot that I would necessarily recommend taking children to- though your child may have a more sophisticated palate than mine! 
The only drawback to this establishment is the location. It’s in a weird spot. However, the food is divine. Think creative Asian fusion cuisine; favorites of mine are the Hurricane Popcorn (only $3 on happy hour!), Avocado Tempura, and the Crispy Shallot Beef Sliders.
 I am a self-proclaimed happy hour connoisseur, and Bar Dojo does not disappoint in this department. Discounted food and drinks are available on their happy hour menu Tues-Sun 4-6pm, and as a mom used to serving up dinner at 5:30pm, this time hits my hunger sweet spot and who doesn’t love a bargain, especially when you don’t have to do the dishes?! 
Check out this local gem for your next date night, or meet up with a girlfriend.
4.5/5 stars.
*Bar Dojo is participating in Seattle Restaurant Week, which is a really fun way to try new restaurants; they provide options from a fixed 3 course menu for $28/person.  This runs Oct 13th-17th & Oct 20th-24th.

--Quinn Manning

Sunday, October 13, 2013

India Village--International Service Project

At our last MOPS meeting we talked about the international service project we would be participating in this year. I would like to introduce you to some of the kids in Bendigeri, a little village in South India. These kids really need basic hygiene products and school supplies. Depending on how much we raise, we also wanted to give the village a fun gift--a keyboard, because the kids enjoy learning music! Because the cost of shipping items over is a lot of money, we have decided to just send money over to my cousin and his wife (who teach the kids music and are very involved in the village) and they will buy the necessary supplies.

This is Kavita. She is in the 5th grade and is 11 years old. Her mother died giving birth to her and her father remarried and left Kavita in her grandmother's home, while he moved on with his new family. Since then, her grandmother has been taking care of her, but is now unable to work due to her age and health. Kavita and her grandmother are currently struggling to make ends meet and afford basic needs. 
This is Yeshawanth. He is in 5th grade and is 11 years old.
He has one older sister and one younger sister. His father is blind so his mother is working in agriculture to support the family. She makes very little money and is struggling to provide basic needs for her family. 
 This is Deepa. She is in 4th grade and is 10 years old. She has an older sister in 7th grade and a younger brother who is 3 years old. Her father did electrical work and in 2001 he fell from an electrical pole and hurt his leg very badly. He has not been able to work ever since. Her mother is now responsible for taking care of the whole family and doesn't make very much money. They are also struggling to afford basic needs. 

This is Prashant. He is 16 years old and is mentally disabled. His father had a heart attack while he was driving and passed away. His mother is now alone, working as a daily labor worker and is earning very little money. She is having a hard time paying for the extra care and treatment he needs.
This is Nagamma. She is 24 years old. Her father hanged himself and since then, her mother had been taking care of her. Nagamma is now studying for her Bachelors of Education, but her mother has been diagnosed with Tuberculosis. She is now struggling to continue her education because her money and time are going towards taking care of her mother.

These are just a few of many stories. When I was there visiting, these kids wrecked me. The moment we got there they were holding our hands and laughing with us and stealing our hearts. Most of them didn't have shoes and had dirty, tattered clothes. Boys as young as middle school weren't out playing soccer, they were working in 100+ degree heat, making bricks for their families to sell. This is sometimes where life gets them to. Working in fields at very young ages.
When we were leaving, they all surrounded our car and asked us to stay. When my dad asked where we would stay one little girl said 'they can have my bed.' This girl didn't have much to offer and was willing to give what she had. This is what made me want to give back to them. Their soft, selfless hearts.
Have you ever watched Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? You know...MOVE. THAT. BUS!!! Well, whenever I watch it, I notice that the people doing the giving always seems so honored to make someone else's dreams come true. Wouldn't it be cool to do something like that for someone else? These kids in this random village have never had a group of people from the United States shower them with love. We can be that! We have the opportunity to know the joy that comes from giving to others.
We will have jars out at the MOPS meetings for those of you who want to contribute money. This is not mandatory. There will be the opportunity to give all year, but we really wanted to send something over to them during the holidays. So, if you want, start thinking about how you could make this meaningful to you and/or your family to give during the holiday season!
--Lisa Barton

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Teen MOPS-- Local Service Project

At our last MOPS meeting we introduced our service projects for the year! For our local service project we will be providing for Westgate Chapel's Teen MOPS.

Our first two dinners for Teen MOPS are Monday night Dec. 16th and Monday night Jan. 13th.

Teen MOPS leadership can help you with menu ideas if you need that.  A little idea of what to expect - Typically we have around 30 girls plus leadership, but the Dec. 16th will have a higher attendance because it is our Christmas meeting!!!!  The food needs to be at Westgate Chapel ready to serve at 6:30pm, dinner is over by 6:50pm and so you can be done serving and cleaning up by 7pm (7:15pm at the latest). 

Let Wendy know if you would like to participate. Email her (, blog comment, or sign up at the next MOPS meeting!!!

Thank you in advance!!!!

--Wendy Carroll 

Recap of Meeting-10/8/2013

Oh, how I love October!  The craziness of September with changing schedules and back-to-school madness gives way to a new routine and the rhythm of fall settles in.  I couldn't help but smile a bit while scanning the MOPS room on Tuesday seeing how quickly it appears our group is settling in to the MOPS year.  The breakfast table was full of delicious dishes, the coffee table had no less than five varieties of creamer to choose from, the kiddos were hard at work playing in the nursery and MOPPETS classrooms, and of course the boisterous chatter of Moms enjoying adult conversations are all beautiful rhythms of our MOPS meetings.

This week we heard from Anne Marie Canlis, member of MOPS and SELAH at University Presbyterian Church, and whose family owns the restaurant, Canlis. Anne Marie’s presentation, Making Mealtime Meaningful, shared her desire and passion for feeding people in every way through rituals and traditions along with insights from a theology food course and her personal research about the food industry. Her spiritual and poetic presentation highlighted not only eating real foods over processed, but also creative ways families can interact at the dinner table in order to build relationships and share in fellowship, even with small children. Citing her research, Anne Marie said that family dinners are a greater influence over children’s behavior than church attendance, school performance, and even the highly touted initiative of reading 20 minutes a day with your child. Isn't that a ray of hope for some of us harried moms?

It is not just the physical dinner itself, but what happens at the table that makes the magic happen. Using this special time to create family unity through conversations, shared stories, and celebrating gratitude are paramount for strengthening these family bonds. Anne Marie shared ideas to start conversations and rituals for families with small children to try.  A few that really struck a chord with me were:

*At dinner, make a master list of activities the family could do together for the season.  Allow the kids to draw pictures of activities, then hang them up to use for planning your schedule.

*What’s the Difference - What is the difference between New York or California? A door or a window?  A tree or a bush? Allow everyone to answer.

*Good/Bad or High/Low - Allow everyone to share the best part of their day and then the low part of their day.  This sometimes can provoke important conversations by providing insight to your child’s day and also promotes empathy between siblings.

Anne Marie also provided a long list of resources and suggested books to read if you want to learn more for yourself.  We should have a few copies of these handouts available at our next meeting if you missed out.  I know I was motivated when I got home to rethink some of our habits and thoughts about family meal time. I hope you were also inspired by Anne Marie’s idea of “feeding people in every way,” and  that you will be able to apply some of this in your own home to make meal times more meaningful.  

--Kristine Manz

Monday, October 7, 2013

MOPPETS in October

While we were enjoying our first MOPS meeting by catching up with friends, eating yummy food, and reviewing what the year was going to look like, our kids were also enjoying their morning catching up with friends, exploring, and learning in their MOPPETS Classrooms!

Last meeting "God's colorful world" was the theme for BOZ Treehouse Time at MOPPETS. We focused on the variety of colors that surround us. To follow up on this topic,you can help your child identify various colors, both indoors and outdoors. After naming a color help your child find another object with the matching color.

"Celebrating God's gift of imagination" is the next theme for BOZ Treehouse Time at MOPPETS. We will explore the world of creative thought with your child, who is just learning to distinguish between what is real and what is pretend. This might already be a timely topic for your family as fantasy-based costumes and seasonal decorations become more obvious this month. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Recap of First Meeting--9/24/2013

So if you noticed an unusual amount of happy mommies around town last week, it wasn't a coincidence, Tuesday was the first Westgate Chapel MOPS meeting of 2013-2014! The excitement and energy in the MOPS room is always a highlight for me. Whether you were hugging friends you missed over the summer or looking around anxiously for kind faces, or possibly searching for the coffee and creamer like I was, I offered three words to you: You made it! You managed to get everyone out of the house and to Westgate “early” in the day. The children were placed in the appropriate loving care of someone other than you! The next 2 hours of our meeting were designed for you to enjoy time apart from your sweet darlings and embark on a year-long journey together of community, support and encouragement.  
After a delicious breakfast, I briefly introduced our theme for this year, A Beautiful Mess... Embrace Your Story.” Moms live in messes. The toys, crumbs, and spit-up are our natural surroundings. Moms often feel like a mess. We are exhausted, under-showered, and hormonal. Our past and present circumstances and decisions can leave us feeling inadequate of love and without a purpose. A Beautiful Mess — Reminds us moms that beauty can come out of our difficult spots. The grime of mothering young children brings the beauty of motherhood. The bruises of life can bring redemption. Embrace Your Story — Reminds us moms that our past, present and future can be used for good. God knows where each of us has been, where we are today and has set in motion where we are headed.
Next we introduced the Leadership Team for this year. We are all here to serve you and make your MOPS experience the best we can, so please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or suggestions. 
Coordinator - Sheralee Cochran
Assistant Coordinator - Kristine Manz
MOPPETS Coordinator - Hally Thorp
DGL Coordinator - Tifani Hoornstra
Registration - Emily Hoornstra 
Finance - Heidi Conklin
Blog - Lisa Barton
Creative Activities - Kristina Udodik
Leadership Mentor - Wendy Carroll
No kick-off meeting would be complete without some ridiculous ice breaker, so I hope we did not disappoint with our rousing game of “Would You Rather: Mom Edition.” I just love that we could all be in a “mess” together choosing which is best: engorged breasts or incontinence? I’m also fairly certain I scratched my head all day after trying to decide if I’d rather have lice or a stomach virus run through our home. How funny and sad that we could all relate to these wonderful moments of motherhood. 
Hopefully, you all received a MOPS handbook in the mail just before the meeting. If you did not, please let Emily know when you arrive at the next meeting and she can get you a copy. Although we only covered the highlights in our trivia game, this little gem of a book will answer most of the questions you may have about how MOPS works. We have tried to cover most everything including: breakfast, MOPPETS, meeting dates, Moms and Tots, snow closures and more! I could probably write a whole posting just about the handbook, but what fun would that be?
Lastly, we did a simple yet adorable craft lead by Kristina. Since part of our theme this year is “Embrace Your Story,” we thought it would be appropriate to make journals for you to write down your thoughts, dreams, memories, whatever part of your story you wish. I’ll admit that journaling scares me to death, because I’m not quite sure what I’m supposed to write about. Oodles of deep, soul baring words are not just about to burst out of me and onto paper at any given moment. I realize there are moms out there capable of this, but if you are like me and at a loss for what to say, we are going to be posting some journaling prompts to help you on the blog. 

While I’m talking about the blog, I do want to urge you to stay connected to what’s happening at Westgate Chapel MOPS. You can do that by liking our page on Facebook so that our updates will appear in your newsfeed. We would also love for you to subscribe to our blog at By subscribing, you will receive an email when we have new information posted to the blog, which will happen about once a week. Also, if you have questions that you aren’t sure who to ask, you can always reach us at We hope that you want to be connected with us and much as we want to connect with you!
I’m already looking forward to our next meeting on October 8th. We have more food, fun and fellowship in store for you. We will have a special guest speaker, Anne Marie Canlis, coming to share with us about the importance of family meals. And because most of us moms can’t get enough, we will have our first official table discussion time! So much good stuff planned for this year! Our hope is that your experience at MOPS this year will be filled with laughter, encouragement, compassion, and friendship as we come together as Mothers of Preschoolers. 
--Kristine Manz