Mom Interviews

Enjoying the Magic of Daily Life

March 10, 2020
interviews with moms

Interviews with Moms in Different Stages

I am so excited for this blog post! I have always found it helpful to get other viewpoints from different moms. This segment of the blog is for that purpose: to offer perspective. For each of these interviews with a mom, I’ll be talking with a mom of young children (babies, toddlers, etc), a mom of older kiddos, and a mom of adult children.

I remember reading an interview like this on another mom blog that helped me to realize that it was okay for my kids to play by themselves. It honestly had never crossed my mind that my (at the time) two-year-old could play in a different room while I did something else! I’m sure that sounds insanely basic – but you just don’t know what you don’t know! Like I’ve mentioned before, I was not a “kid person” before having my own children. So it’s been helpful for me to learn from other moms, hear some different viewpoints, and just start a discussion about topics that are relevant to me as a mom.

I’m so grateful for these women who took time out of their busy schedules to answer my questions. And wow did I learn so much!

Note: These interviews were edited for clarity and length.

Mom of Littles: Alana

Christian & Alana Spolar

First up, I’d like to introduce you all to Alana Spolar. She has been married to her husband, Christian, for 8 years and they are the parents of three beautiful boys: Kai (7), Devlyn (3) and Emory (1). Christian works as the Chapter Development Specialist at All Pro Dad. Their family is incredibly warm and FUN! I was really inspired by Alana’s organization (which you’ll see throughout the interview) and how thoughtful she is – which must be the only way to get through the day when you have three rambunctious boys!!

What’s an average day like for you and your family?

Daily Schedule:

  • 5-5:30 am: wake-up and have quiet time. 
  • 6:30 am: work-out
  • 7 am: everyone is up and doing morning chores 
  • 8 am: Breakfast and Bible lesson (start of school day) 
  • 12pm: School ends and time for lunch
  • 12:30-1 pm: Clean-up
  • 1 pm: Naps for baby (1 1/2-2 hrs) and Dev (30 min- 1hr) 
  • 1-2:30 pm: Chores
  • 3 pm: Outside time 
  • 4:30 pm: Make dinner
  • 5-5:30 pm: Eat dinner
  • 5:30 pm: Family walk
  • 5:45 pm: Get ready for bed (chores and roll-call [we call the boys over and we go over the charts to make sure everything was completed.]) *We don’t include baths in our bedtime routine, it’s only as needed which is better for our skin because Kai and I have eczema.
  • 6:30 pm: read, sing, pray (Monday nights: devo) 
  • 7 pm: Dev and Baby in bed
  • 8 pm: Kai in bed
  • 8-9 pm: “us” time/ prep from tomorrow
  • 9- 10 pm: We’re in bed

Homeschool schedule

  • Mondays: Math, L.A/grammar/writing/poetry/phonics, Geography, Nature walk
  • Tuesday:  Math, L.A/grammar/writing/poetry/phonics,Science/Health, Coding/robotics/engineering, “Toddler Time”- 1 hr toddler education 
  • Wednesdays:  Math, L.A/grammar/writing/poetry/phonics, arts & crafts
  • Thursday:  Math, L.A/grammar/writing/poetry/phonics,Science/Health, Coding/robotics/engineering, “Toddler Time”- 1 hr toddler education 
  • Fridays: Review, field trips, play dates
  • Saturdays: Music lesson

Special family Days:

  • Mondays: Megabed, movie or Minecraft Monday
  • Tuesday: “Stay”te (stay at home date) night
  • Wed: Christian’s west coast work nights/church
  • Thursday: Budget night
  • Friday: Flick Friday/ Host-hang out time
  • Saturdays: open
  • Sunday: Ohana time ( either getting with a couple or having dinner with parents) 

What’s the hardest part of motherhood for you?

The hardest part of motherhood for me is not being able to help them understand the world the way I understand it as an adult. Seeing them becoming frustrated or upset with something but I know that perseverance is good for them. The miscommunication and frustration behind them trying to communicate what they want and need and sometimes I just can’t understand them.

What’s your favorite part of motherhood?

My favorite thing about being a mom is being able to teach them simple every day things (that I usually take for granted) like clapping, praying, singing, dancing, eating, walking and them being filled with so much joy and wonder! I love seeing their faces light up and shrieks of joy when they overcome an obstacle or when they make this super cool hot wheels track and the car makes it in the basket at the end and they all scream and jump up and down. Those are my favorite moments. They really help me to see God’s majesty and power in the every day.

Pin this!

What’s the best piece of parenting advice you’ve gotten?

  • Wake up at least an hour before your kids. 
  • Your kids need to see how much you love and respect God and your husband. When I’m off and not as close to God or my hubby it’s clear in the children’s behavior and our day is usually chaotic and miserable. 

Tell me more about your decision to homeschool your kids. What are some of the benefits and challenges?

Homeschool is probably my favorite subject other than nutrition!

Benefits:

The benefit for me is that I’m able to tailor each child’s education to their style of learning. I’m able to teach and talk freely about God, and the curriculum I use is called The Good and the Beautiful, and every subject incorporates God in some way.

I love being able to have a community of other moms who have gone before me, or are also going through all of the same hardships as me. Another benefit is I can have school wherever, whenever (we do year-round schooling with 6 weeks on 1 week off unless it’s a major holiday). We’re basically outside all of the time. 

Challenges:

It can be intimidating and overwhelming when you’re trying to figure out where to get started, what method of homeschool you want to do, what curriculum you want to use, etc. This is why it’s super important to find a community!

Also, with curriculums, each child may need different curriculums which means more work for you, and it usually takes time. It’s pretty normal to jump around to different curriculums throughout the year or by year, as well as piecing different ones together, which is what I do. I love the one I have, it is a Charlotte Mason inspired curriculum built around the foundation that “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life.” Charlotte Mason is an old school approach where learning is from reading living books rather than facts from “dry” literature or textbooks. They do not use technology whatsoever, so the curriculum I use takes the best of that approach and makes it more modern.

I add my own Bible lessons/worship, and science/coding to the routine. With this method they don’t recommend starting a child on a curriculum until they are age 6. They can be a part of the lessons and should be, but only to spark curiosity and start laying a good foundation. Kids ages 1-6 should be outside and exploring as much as possible. Sometimes this can make it more difficult for me when Kai has a lesson that needs me to be more involved, but I’ve learned to just save that one until nap time. You adapt so fast though, and you get the freedom to do what’s best for your family. 

Christian & Alana with their three boys (from left to right): Emory (1), Devlyn (3) and Kai (7)

What are some of the particular challenges with raising boys? What do you love most about being a boy mom?

Boys have A LOT of energy and are unable to sit still or stay quietly occupied with something like girls can. I’d really recommend all boy moms reading “Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys.” It has helped us so much!

Something I’ve learned with my boys is that they need a daily routine. If they don’t have one you’re really just asking for a hard day. Boys need daily nature/outside time. If they’re acting up, they probably need some fresh air! 

Best thing: Boys are so much fun! They are up for anything! They just always want to have an activity, allowing me to be creative.

What are some snacks your boys love?

  • Parfaits: Favorite fruit (I use frozen fruit a lot because it is flash-frozen when harvested so it preserves all of the nutrients and is usually a better deal!)  Non-fat Greek yogurt plain or vanilla (make sure no added sugars!) Granola with natural sweeteners or no granola at all. 
  • Fro-yo pops: same ingredients as above but no granola and put it in mold of your choice
  • Hummus and veggies (start them young and be persistent and they’ll eat it)
  • Apples & PB
  • Applesauce/veggie pouches
  • Homemade trail mix (macadamias and walnuts are some of the best! I would avoid cranberries and stick with raisins because of the added sugars) you can add sugar-free or pure dark chocolate too which is actually really healthy for you! 
  • Grapes and aged cheese and if you prefer, add crackers of choice
  • Multigrain or gluten-free chip with salsa
  • Fruit salad
  • Sweet potato chips
  • Veggie straws
  • Pure organic layered fruit bars
  • Bison or venison jerky with string cheese or similar (aged cheddar, parmesan, and swiss are best and can even be eaten by someone who  is lactose intolerant or dairy sensitive because they don’t contain lactose or casein) 
  • Cottage cheese and half an avocado 
  • Smoothies are great! I add flaxseed and their fish oil for the omegas!
  • Chia seed pudding with berries ( I have a recipe to make it taste exactly like a chocolate pudding cup but healthy!) 
  • Banana and apple chips
  • Kale and broccoli chips

Do you have any “mom hacks” to share?

Yes! if you have boys (or girls too but definitely boys) I would create a clapping cadence (or call and response) to get their attention rather than yelling or screaming or repeating yourself multiple times. I have a clap that I do when I want their attention and I will continue to do the cadence until each one of them listen to my clap and then repeat it back to me in unison. 

Another tip is to try and say Yes more than no. One way to start would be if the child asks to do something and before you say no think to yourself “why not?” If you can’t come up with a good reason then it’s a yes. 

I’ve downloaded some great free printables off of imom.com and meetpenny.com!

Mom of (slightly) Older Kiddos: Lacy

Lacy Gregory has been married to her husband, Ryan, for 15 years this May. She has two sons: Beckham (10) and Davis (7). Lacy serves as the Curriculum Coordinator for Anchor Point Church. Ryan and Lacy are some of the most hospitable people that I know. One of the things I love about their children is that they are SO generous – which I think is a direct reflection of their parents!

Lacy with her husband, Ryan, and her sons, Beckham (10) and Davis (7)

What’s the hardest part of motherhood for you?

The hardest part is finding balance. My dad raised us to be super independent. We knew how to be on our own. We washed our clothes in high school, helped out with chores, etc. It was different with one parent in the house. My struggle is knowing what is expecting too much vs. doing everything for them. I didn’t really get to see a two parent household, especially not one with a parent that stays home. I feel pulled in a million directions with all the opinions out there.

What’s the best part of motherhood for you?

Unconditional love. There just isn’t another relationship like it. The love you have for them and the love they have for you feels like a peek into the love God has for us. I love it so much.

What’s your go-to parenting scripture?

Ephesians 6:3: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right, so that it may go well with you and that your may enjoy long life on earth.” We love this one for the kids. We talk about why they should obey and it’s hard to argue with things going well and living a long life.

What’s your favorite parenting book?

Raising Awesome Kids by Sam & Geri Laing

If you could go back to when your boys were little, what’s something you would do differently?

Leave them in the sandbox! It’s something I read about that really struck home. When they were little I was always ready to move them onto the next thing. If we were at the park I would take them from one thing to the next even if they were content doing something. They would probably fuss having to leave whatever they were doing but I thought they would be happier doing something else. Like just because I was bored they must be too.

What was your favorite part of mothering babies/toddlers?

I loved their innocence. They way they would belly laugh and smile.

How do you and your husband prioritize getting time together?

We just make it happen. We have family in town so it’s always been fairly  easy to get someone to watch the kids. I’ll just text him on a Friday and say we’re going to dinner. I don’t wait for him to plan it because I know its something I need. I have more time than him and he’s always grateful that I plan that time for us. He needs it too and it’s important for the boys to see we prioritize each other.

What’s the best piece of parenting advice you’ve gotten?

Disciple their heart. I can be a real nitpicker. Its like those “don’t sweat the small stuff” books were written for me! I don’t want my kids to remember me for being critical of every little insignificant thing. Focusing on the heart issue behind the problem helps me find perspective.

The Gregory family hiking in Zion National Park

How do you handle screen time/electronics with your boys?

I’m a person who believes most things (treats, electronics, etc.) are okay in moderation. I set timers and the boys know when they can get the iPads without asking and when they need to ask before using. On the weekends they can get up at 7am and come out quietly and use their iPads (we get to sleep in now that they are older)!!

What do you think are some of the particular challenges with raising boys? What do you love most about being a boy mom?

Their energy. Boys just have a different amount and different kind of energy. I’m around a bunch of girl moms and it’s wild to see the difference in the way they interact. Boys are much more physical in nature. Seeing girls at restaurants always shocks me too. They sit so quietly coloring for such a long time. The coloring pages last about 2 minutes with my boys before they are squirming in their seats. I have to be really careful comparing because God just made boys special.

I love the way my boys see every tree, railing or even the balls at Target as something to climb. From the time they were around 1 they wanted to get on top of those balls at Target. I would have to put them up there and let them stand on them every time. They are always looking for adventure.

Have you had to have any conversation with your boys yet about sex/impurity/pornography or anything of that nature?

We just started the conversion with Beckham (age 10) about homosexuality. He heard about it at school as he was innocently telling boys that gay just meant happy! We went to the Bible and talked about it. No sex talk yet but it’s coming soon. We monitor their iPads and the things they watch. They are not allowed on social media and neither of them have phones yet. I plan to check their phones and educate them on the risks of “sneaky adults” once they have more access.

Any sleep/naptime/bedtime advice for moms of littles?

I’m a fan of sleep so naturally it was important to me that my kids learn to sleep well. I say LEARN because I truly believe that kids need our help learning to sleep well. Neither of mine slept through the night until around 6 months. We used the baby wise method (Eat, Play, then sleep) and hoped it would come on its own but it just didn’t. They had already learned to soothe themselves to sleep. Meaning I didn’t nurse them to sleep them put them down. Around 6 months we did the cry it out method. It took one night of them crying for around an hour and then they started sleeping through the night.

I also like teaching them to stay in their beds until a certain time around 2 years old. We used a bunny clock. When bunny was sleeping they had to stay in their crib and then bunny would wake up and they knew it was time to get up. It took some time but it helped during that time period where they wanted to start their day at 5:30am.

I also suggest having them keep their pacifier in their bed around 1 yr old. We would show them how to throw it in their crib as we were picking them up from a nap and they quickly learned that it was only for sleeping.

Any mom hacks to share?

Warnings and preparation: Giving the 10 minute warning before you are leaving a playdate, fun place, birthday party, etc helps with meltdowns. You may even need to give a 5, 3 and 2 minute warning also! 😉

Preparing them for success. I wish I had done this more. Simply preparing, praying and talking about expected behavior, before you leave the house or on the way somewhere, can make a huge difference.

Mom of Adult Children: Lisa

This final interview is from my mother-in-law, Lisa Chacon. She has been married to Jeff for 34 years and she has three adult sons: Tyler, Kyle & Ryan, and four grandchildren (so far!). She worked for over twenty years as a women’s minister and is a founding partner at Chacon, Diaz & DiVirgilio Wealth Management.

It’s difficult to quantify just how much of an impact Lisa has had on my life: she is my second mom, my next-door neighbor, one of my closest advisors and dearest friends. Her name is on every emergency contact form I sign. (Along with my mom – who’s my primary care doctor! I’m #grateful 😉 )

A few of the things I love about Lisa is that she is deeply spiritual, highly logical, and just tells it like it is. Thankfully, she passed these qualities (and more) onto her son. 🙂

Lisa with her husband, Jeff, and their three sons: Kyle, Ryan & Tyler along with their wives: Amanda, Andrea & Tiffany (that’s me!). Lisa has four grandchildren: Finn, Sophia, Lily & Justus.

What was hardest part of motherhood for you?

The hardest part of motherhood and marriage was when the kids were little. Because you’re so physically exhausted. And there’s no way to get out of it, you just have to go through it.

What’s your favorite thing about being a mom? 

Nurturing, cooking, snuggling, being a coach and encourager. That doesn’t ever end. I still feel very full in my heart being able to nurture the kids, the grandkids, my daughters-in-law.

Did you ever mourn your kids getting older because you could “nurture” less?

Yeah, I think so. I mean I don’t remember feeling so strongly about it. But the kids would say, ‘what’s your favorite age?’ and I would say, ‘Every age is my favorite age!’ They’re so different at each age – there’s things you don’t do, but there’s also cool things you get to do. Like they can actually converse with you, there’s more communication. You lose things, but you gain things along the process of parenting. And now, it’s just so wonderful to see my boys being dads. It’s so heartwarming, so wonderful. And of course when they’re babies, you don’t have that.

If you could go back to when your boys were little, what’s something you would do differently?

I couldn’t think of anything. Not because I was perfect – but because I really enjoyed them. I feel like I thoroughly enjoyed them. Jeff says he would teach them to do chores (earlier on). Which would have been really nice.

What was your favorite part of mothering babies/toddlers? 

Exploring the world through their eyes. Walking with the kids down the street, pointing out different stuff. It’s fun to be in their world, to be out of the “adult world.”

What were some of your favorite experiences/activities to do with them at that age?

We went to the park ALL the time, the whole family. We were always outside. Thankfully most of their childhood we lived in Florida and California, so we had sunshine and good weather most days. Whatever we did, we did together. It was pretty much always the five of us.

Every day was like living at WWE wrestling with the boys. There was always something going on.

I tried to make routines – it’s really a good thing to have routines. When we lived in San Diego we had Sea World passes and would go every Monday. That sort of thing. Dinners were always routines, too. We had regular meals that were already planned, that made it easier for me, too. Monday nights were always family time and it rotated through our family who would be in charge of the activity that night.

Lisa & Jeff with their grandson (and my oldest son) Finn

What’s the best piece of parenting advice you’ve gotten that you saw great fruit from? 

A friend told us to shut off the phone from about 4pm until the kids were in bed. Having that focused family time was really nice. Especially when your kids are in school and you’re sitting down to dinner, you’re not distracted. And the kids learn conversation and important things at the dinner table.

Favorite parenting book?

Making Children Mind without Losing Yours by Kevin Leman. The idea of the book is to allow natural consequences to run their course with your children. For example, if your child forgets their lunch at home, don’t rush out to bring it to them. Let them learn.

What do you think are some of the particular challenges with raising boys? What do you love most about being a boy mom?

The big challenge for me was how active they are. They don’t just sit there. You’re constantly managing how active they are. Always trying to get them something to do. I think that’s why we put them in sports, just to get the energy burnout. I read that Michael Phelps’s mom put him in swimming to try to manage his ADD and to get him to burn some energy off.

Boys are quick to forgive. There’s not a lot of drama. If something happens, we talk about it and move on. Go play.

Any advice for protecting kids from pornography?

You have to try as best as you can to protect your kids from that. Pornography, drugs and alcohol – these were the three things we were the most vigilant about because of the addictive qualities. Addiction changes your brain chemistry. Those were our preaching points. You may not succeed 100% but you do your best. They may go and get it somewhere else, but they’re not going to get it here. We had one computer in a family/community space where it was completely out in the open.

They couldn’t just spend the night anywhere, we regulated that pretty strictly. Their friends could always come here. We were always the stricter parents.

How would you go about making parenting decisions? Especially ones that are not super clear-cut, such as how to discipline your kids? There’s so much information out there…

I didn’t live in that world. It’s harder for you guys right now because there’s so much information. We had the Bible and some parenting books, and then we had our friends. People that we respected the way they raised their kids, so we would get advice from them.

Something we would tell our kids is: You’re a Chacon. God gave us the kids we have, and he gave them the parents they have. That he is able to use our sins and weaknesses for our children. He’s not in the business of torturing our children by giving them us. We would tell our kids: we’re the only parents you have. We’ve never done this before, this is what we think is best and that’s what we’re going with. Of course we look back and say “well we could’ve done this or that differently” but who’s to say that God didn’t use those mistakes?

I never had the feeling that I was going do everything “right” – I didn’t have that expectation. That’s kind of a new expectation. You’re all looking for the “right thing to do” – I wasn’t necessarily tortured by that thought.

I wouldn’t diminish a mother’s instinct. Don’t let doctors or “experts” dissuade you from that. And maybe your instinct is wrong – but you’re the only mother they have! Trust yourself.

There’s too much judgment from everyone about everything right now. Like, oh I’m going to give you four stars for that parenting tip. But we live in a fallen world! No one is perfect. Ultimately, you have to decide on something and go with it. Don’t let yourself be tortured by the “right thing” all the time.

What do you see as some of the particular benefits and challenges of raising kids in this day and age (versus when you were raising kids)? 

The cell phone. We didn’t have that. People have access to you at all times. You can’t get through a conversation with someone without being constantly interrupted. It’s bad for us, it’s bad for our relationships. It’s strange that people can reach you so easily and quickly but yet we’re losing true connectivity as a culture.

It’s not all bad: I recently had a FaceTime conversation with Ryan (her youngest son) across the country and it was wonderful.

We have to make sure we’re using technology and it’s not using us.

If there’s anything you’d want to share to moms of little ones, what would you say? 

This time passes quickly. Enjoy the daily magic of life.


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