Creating TIME In Your Marriage

Last week we heard Pam Ferrell speak on the topic of Red Hot Monogamy. I really enjoyed when she challenged us to look at our TIME. How we could date our spouse and create time to foster intimacy with one another on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. Though this may be a great goal for our marriages it can feel daunting and near impossible when we have littles at home.

Here are some creative ways for those of us with littles and tight budgets to still be intentional and yet not feel like we are breaking the bank or asking grandma to babysit every Friday night.

  1. Co-op babysit with other couples– This is a great way to not pay the $1 million dollars for a sitter, and bless your friends at the same time. PLUS, your kids will be playing with other kids and it’s just a win all around. Ask your friends first, “Hey! What night can I watch your kid(s) so you can get a date?” You’ll be amazed at how quickly they find a day! This is a wonderful way to let your friend know how much you care about her and her marriage.
  2. Go out for happy hour/mid-week dates– Happy hour isn’t just for drinking. There are a great many places (Wokano, Lazy Dogs, LARSONS!!) that offer amazing prices on appetizers and small plates during their happy hour in the bar. You can choose a high top table and order soda, then enjoy all the other benefits of the half off or better prices. Plus, no kids in the bar, so you know you’ll have a kid free date!! Choosing a mid week date rather than Fri/Sat means less wait time and crowds, that means less time you are paying your baby sitter. You can also choose to go and just have dessert! My husband and I have done that a few times and it’s so fun! We never have dessert in the house let alone something fancy like a Sisley’s cannoli!
  3. Go somewhere you could spend $0-$5 only– We love to go to Barns & Nobble. Getting to walk around and look at books and magazines makes me feel like a grown up again. There’s also a Starbucks in side most, so if you wanted you could get a coffee (decaf!) and maybe a cookie to share. This way, you are only paying for a sitter. (or if you do #1 then you are paying nothing!!!!! Winning!)movie-night-pin
  4. Have a back yard movie night– This could be so much fun! Pop some popcorn while he gets the mattress and blankets set up, surprise him with his favorite candy, and stream a movie you’ve been wanting to see on the lap top or tablet!!! So easy, so fun! We just might try this one this summer!! 32d7515fc162c407239273adc110b258
  5. Sit outside and make s’mores– One of our table leaders shared how she loves that her husband will make her a s’mores almost every night! You can make them over the burner in the kitchen, a fire pit, or even in a pot outside! Make this fun with cookies instead of graham crackers, Reeces or Nestle Crunch instead of standard chocolate! Then while you sit outside enjoying the kid free treats you didn’t have to sneak in the bathroom, TALK TO EACH OTHER!
  6. Cook together– In our home, I do the majority of the cooking. This does not mean that my husband is not a fantastic cook, just that he doesn’t have the time to cook for us during the week. Why not plan a grown up food menu and evening where you can cook together? Put the kids to bed early, turn movie on in the other room and just enjoy cooking a recipe you found in Souther Living, or watched the Barefoot Contessa make. You can make this more fun by adding a movie and theme. Make an Italian dish together and then watch the Italian Job. Try your hand at Indian food and watch Eat, Pray, Love. You get the gist!
  7. Take Out and Red box– We love going out to eat. However, we have far too many people to take to a restaurant and it never ends well. Most of the time they changed their mind between the time they ordered the mac n cheese and it arrived. Now they want a hamburger. You know how this will end. So, we stopped going to restaurants. Instead, once a week or every other week, my husband and I order take out from one of our favorite places to enjoy after our kids are in bed. This really helps with the bill too! Kids are expensive to feed, and if you are in the restaurant you’ll probably get an appetizer and dessert. We also love movies, but these days it is far too expensive to go see all the movies in the theatre, so now we red box them. It’s so much easier. We get take out and can watch the newest blockbuster or Oscar nominated movie in our pjs. Which is great because after I’ve had my full of Grand Panda I really need my stretchy pants.
  8. Ask for date night gift cards for Christmas– We’ve been doing this for years. Whenever the grandparents or anyone asks what we, my husband and I, would like for Christmas we say movie tickets or restaurant gift cards so we can go on a date. The cost to hire a baby sitter can be a biter pill to swallow, so this helps afford more dates!
  9. Take a staycation– When Pam mentioned getting away a few times a year I know that sounded impossible. If the budget is super tight, one option is a staycation. Drop the kids off at grandmas, or split the kids between the grandmas like we do, and then go home. NO CLEANING, just enjoying one another and saving money on a hotel. Save your money for a few months so you can drive out of town to a nice restaurant to still feel like you “got out of town” but save the hotel fee by sleeping at home! Sleep in (sweet Jesus I don’t even know what that is!), go to brunch (Hey! Plan this over your birthday, then eat at Egg Plantation and your your meal is free! Winning again! BOOM!), see a matinee, walk the mall, drive to the beach with a picnic, all while you haven’t had to pay to go away! Who cares if the kids had chocolate for breakfast and watched Cailou? It happened at grandma’s house and it’ll stay at grandma’s house!

We hope you feel encouraged and excited to try a new date night idea! Do you have any great ideas for dates, or ways to help create intimacy in your marriage?? Comment and let us know!!!

Speaker links

We’ve had some amazing speakers this semester and so blessed to hear their words of wisdom. There were many who had books to sell and websites with great resources.

If you weren’t  able to pick up a book or lost the flier with their website, you are in luck! We’ve got a list of the speakers and their sites for you!!

February 18- Kristie Chrisite “Eliminating Entitlement: Raising Compassionate Kids”

March 3- Leanna Tankersley “Finding Breathing Room When Life Feels Overwhelming”

March 17- Amber Lia “Angry Mom: Biblical Gentle Response to Your Trigger”

April 7- Jim Burns “Teaching Your Children Healthy Sexuality”

April 21- Pam Farrell “Red Hot Monogamy”

If you’ve missed any of the speakers check out our speaker downloads and listen at home while you wear your yoga pants and drink your microwaved coffee!!

Welcome Back!!

Ladies! Mops is back. I don’t know about you, but it was long awaited over the holidays. So glad to see the familiar faces and some new ones.

As the semester gets rolling we will be doing blog posts and sharing them on the Facebook site and our Instagram account. This way you’ll never miss a thing!! Oh, wait, you didn’t know? We have a new IG account. Search for us, our account name is gbcmops! Both ways are great for keeping in touch with your fellow mops moms at your table and the group as a whole.

Our first speaker’s talk is up on the new link for the semester. Feel free to share with friends, family and those at your table who might have missed the talk. You can find it under the ‘speaker downloads’ page or click here. Let your friends and family know that due to microphone difficulties the audio cuts in and out for the first three mins, but to keep listening because the entire talk was recorded.

We hope you will feel blessed and a sense of community at MOPS! We love walking along side of you and can’t wait to see what this semester holds!

Registration is live!

Hello ladies! Ready for a new semester?! This year we are using an online registration system to help streamline the process and to conserve our resources.

This will also allow you to pay with a credit/debit card.  If you choose online registration, the complete payment is due at the time of submission.  You will only list the children in MOPPETS/homeschool room, not all of your children, which is a change from Fall registration. Here is the link to register!!
If you prefer to turn in a hard copy of your registration instead, you can definitely still do so. We have emailed around a copy of this document, and I’ll also attach it here:
Spring meeting dates are: 2/4, 2/18, 3/3, 3/17, 4/7, 4/21, 5/5, 5/19
Can’t wait to see you all in the spring!!

What to Do Wednesday – Sylmar Wildlife Learning Center

What to Do Wednesday posts are meant to give you fun ideas for things to do in and around SCV. Grab a MOPS friend and try out these great places!

Today’s activity-place is not in Santa Clarita itself, but its *just* outside, in Sylmar. Plan for a 15 minute freeway drive. The Sylmar Wildlife Learning Center is a tiny, cute animal attraction focused on educating the public about animals you’d often find in a zoo. I particularly love the mid-sized cat exhibits, though they also have a bald eagle, sloths, and (one of my favorites) fennec foxes!


Groupon always has deals for this place, because they’re trying to increase attendance in order to help pay for larger animal exhibits. Right now its $9 for two people, kids 2 and under are free. Last time we were there, we paid a little extra to do a “Fennec Fox Experience” and we got to pet and “hold” one of those cute little critters.


I like this place because it takes about an hour to get through all the exhibits, the animals are right in front of you and not lost in huge enclosures, and the staff is dedicated to protecting and preserving the natural habitats of endangered species. Go check it out and let us know what you think!

Here’s the address: 16027 Yarnell Street, Sylmar, CA 91342

Please note that we are not affiliated in any way with the Center. We just thought it was a fun place to go!

Preparedness Tips from Erin

Here’s a follow-up blurb from Erin after last week’s FABULOUS safety fair!

Thank you for letting me share about preparing for an emergency at MOPS today! I got a lot of great feedback but wanted to make sure you all had some take-aways and a place to turn if you have questions.

First of all, I’m usually a bury my head in the sand disaster won’t hit us kind of girl. My husband is not. It’s taken 5 years to get to the point we are at and I do not want any mom to walk away thinking that it has to be an all or nothing proposition. So, let me break it down for you.


Get a pre-packed backpack with supplies. Add a couple of things of water, an extra pair of shoes, a couple blankets and maybe a change of clothes for everyone and done! You’ve got a car kit ready to go.

If you want more, check out lists online:

  • FEMA
  • American Red Cross
  • SOS Supplies in Van Nuys
  • Centers for Disease Control

My kit does take space in the trunk but I’m a mom and I like to be prepared – over prepared really!


Pack a pair of tennis shoes, a jacket, some extra water and some food in your place of work in case you are stuck longer than you’d like to be or have to get out.


Five years ago, we bought two pre-packed backpacks and hung them in the hall closet and called it emergency ready! Little by little we’ve added to it

KEYS ARE: Food, Water and Shelter. Then there are the extras. 

If you have camping gear – tents, sleeping bags, outdoor blankets, utensils, pull all of those together and place them in an easy to reach location. If you don’t have camping gear, get a tarp and some rope and you can make shelter.

Next, pull together CLOTHES that fit or are big for everyone and put together a box. Each year we clean out our closets and I take tennis shoes, pants, shorts, tshirt and sweatshirt and put them in the box. Then I take out the old stuff and donate or recycle that stuff. It’s more likely to fit and may last a little longer. If I ever see clearance clothes for cheap in a bigger size I buy a couple cheap (think $1-2) and put that stuff in so my kids are covered too.

For FOOD, we have the food bars that last a couple of years. In addition I have some comfort foods like canned fruit, protein bars, cereal, and canned chili with a can opener. Super important – that can opener!  We buy food twice a year and make sure it’s good for at least 9 months so we have time to cycle it back through our pantry. We don’t eat peanut butter but that’s another good thing if you do.

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 9.44.42 PM

For WATER, we purchased the large 55-gallon drum for water. We filled it and it lasts for 5 years with drops you add when you need to access the water. It was about $60-80 for the drum, cover and supplies. You can get all different sizes but it’s one less thing I have to worry about cycling in and out. We also have some bottled water I can use to clean my hands, etc. but probably not drink.

So if you have those things you are good! Here’s my list of extras:

  • Stuff to keep the kids comfortable and occupied if we are stuck outside for days
  • Bucket to act as a commode
  • Everyday supplies – tampons, wipes, diapers, diaper cream, toothbrush, toothpaste, brush, etc.
  • Extra blankets to keep us warm
  • First aid kits – plus ace bandages, ice packs, baby receiving blankets to make slings or tourniquets, old magazines to be used to set an injured arm, belt – can be used as a tourniquet or sling or lots of other things, medications (Tylenol, motrin, etc.) disinfecting wipes
  • Batteries for a flashlight(s) and for a radio
  • Paper and pencil to make notes
  • Duct tape, rope and a whistle

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 9.44.49 PM

That’s really all I have in my kit. Just looks like a lot. Use the lists you find online and decide what’s right for you and your family and slowly add to it. Set a timer on your phone to remind yourself to clean stuff out and replace what’s expired. Mark on the boxes of anything that expires so it’s easy to see when you need to change everything.

Keep your food and first aid supplies together so that you can get to the boxes quickly and you can change out those items rather than mixing everything up.

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 9.44.33 PM

Use the 21 weeks to prepare and start slowly. Add a couple things at a time and when it’s easy to do for yourself and works with your family’s budget.


Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 9.44.11 PM

We just moved to the shed and it works for us. Before that we had giant boxes on the side of the house. It worked for four + years for us. My neighbors use a trashcan on wheels (and apparently you can get an extra green waste or recycle bin from Waste Management and Burrtec) that could work too. Keep your supplies layered so you can reach the first aid and food first since you’ll need to change that out.  Remember, we started with backpacks in the closet and we still have those in the big kit now in case we have to walk out we can carry what we need.

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 9.44.20 PM

Again, it took us 5 years to get here – start small and work on it a little at a time. It’s a work in progress and hopefully something you won’t need ever! I told you I was a wishful thinker.


  • Have $100 per person in your family in $1s and $5s ready in case you have to evacuate.
  • Don’t let your car get lower than ½ tank of gas whenever possible so if you have to evacuate you don’t have to stop for gas or get stranded
  • Put in extra prescription glasses (get cheap new ones every time you purchase/get a new prescription. You can get find websites that sell them for $12-15 a pair. They may not be super pretty but they’ll be the correct prescription.
  • Take a picture of your prescriptions on your phone when you get them. Then you’ll always know what you take if you aren’t home and need more medication.


If you are told to evacuate and they give you 5, 10, 15, or even 30 minutes, have a plan as to what you’ll take. We have a list on the side of the fridge of things that are important to me and what I’d be devastated if I didn’t have. In an emergency you aren’t thinking clearly but if I have a list then I know. Some people have a 5 minute list, a 10 minute list, a 30 minute list, etc. Depending on your style you can also write the location and who is in charge of getting what. For me, the list just ensures I’ll take things I want – pictures, a couple irreplaceable sentimental items, medications, clothes for a couple days, etc.

Take your emergency backpack (unless your car is good to go) with you in case you need it as you leave your home.

I hope this helps to calm the fears, the anxiety, the desire to bury your head in the sand and pretend it’s not going to happen to you. Start small and you’ll feel ready in no time!       

What to do Wednesday – Toddler Activity Bags

Looking for a collection of fun stay-at-home activities? These also double as great car or travel distractions, depending on the contents of the bag!

1. Velcro Craft Sticks – I mean, who doesn’t love velcro?? I bet you could take this one step further and print out shapes for the kids to copy with their sticks (squares, triangles, etc)

Velcro Craft Sticks

(found on Living Life Intentionally & Desert Chica Ramblings)

2. Add some markers or crayons to a bag with these Blank Faces and kids can use their imagination to add all sorts of fun expressions!

Blank Faces

(found on U Create, with free printable!)

3. Always a hit, these lace cards can fit in a busy bag, and they’re easy clean up. Either you can make your own by punching holes around the edge of foam shapes, or you can buy them pre-made:

lacing cards

(Found on Amazon)

4. Paint Chip Matching: AT LAST! Something useful I can do with all those paint chip cards I’ve collected :S

Color Match

(found on The Rigneys)

5. Paint with water: This is genius. All you need is construction paper, a kid-friendly paintbrush, and water. No mess (except for water spills of course!)

Paint with water

(Found on New England Nanny)

We want to hear from you!! Okay Mommas, what about your great ideas? Any “Activity Bags” that your kids love?

Foodie Friday – Chicken Verde Enchiladas

This recipe is so fast and easy it’s ridiculous. It takes about 25 minutes start to finish. WIN! I know it looks like a lot of ingredients but they’re easy ingredients, trust me. And they’re what make this whole dish so tasty. Serve with a side of rice if you like, and black beans or refried beans.


  • 1 cup pre-chopped onion
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup green salsa (salsa verde)
  • 5 tsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I buy the jar stuff cause I HATE cutting garlic)
  • (optional: 2 Tablespoons sliced pickled jalapenos. These come in a can by the salsa and enchilada sauces)
  • 8 oz shredded rotisserie chicken (for a cheaper option, boil a chicken breast)
  • 3/4 cup chopped tomato (or canned diced tomatoes to make it faster)
  • 3 Tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 ripe avocados, diced
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • (optional: cilantro leaves. I always leave this out though, cause aint-nobody-got-time)


  1. Preheat broiler on high.
  2. Combine first 8 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Let simmer 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in chicken, cook about a minute or until its heated through.
  4. Remove from heat, add tomato, sour cream, avocado.
  5. Spoon chicken mixture into tortillas, about a cup of mixture each tortilla. Roll them like an enchilada.
  6. Arrange enchiladas in foil-lined, cooking sprayed baking dish, side by side.
  7. Top with cheese.
  8. Broil until cheese is melted. Top with cilantro.
  9. EAT!

I don’t have any cute photos of these things because we eat them too fast every time. But they are SO tasty and easy. Plus they freeze really well. If you make a double batch, you can freeze half for later. Then, defrost, heat, and serve. YUM.

What to Do Wednesday – Hart Park

Are you looking for fun things to do in and around the SCV? Grap a MOPS friend and check out our “What to Do Wednesday” posts, then pick a place and go!!

I love free stuff. I love free activities even more. Our MOPS tables have visited Hart Park a couple times now, and it’s certainly on top of my list of “free” stuff to do around here.

They have a tiny little farm-zoo, complete with crowing rooster and the biggest cow I have EVER seen. My kid loves running around and screaming the names of all the critters he recognizes. “RABBIT! ROOSTER! DONKEY! DEER!”


Yep. They have a deer too. She’s not shy, either, so make sure you go all the way to the back of the animal enclosures to get a look at her. I’ve been there before when she walked right up to the fence. You can feed the animals for a quarter using the little feed dispensers so if your kiddo’s old enough to not eat the food himself (unlike mine *ahem*), then bring some quarters, too.

After we browse the animals, there is a huge park (no playground, though) in the same lot where you can bring a picnic lunch and let your kids run around. It’s a good idea to bring balls, kites, blankets, or other outdoorsy entertainment to keep yourselves occupied.

Have fun! Have you been to Hart Park before? Let us know if you go!