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Monday, December 31, 2012

A letter to Moms

Note - read the following in a whisper voice
Dear Moms,
Please stop yelling at your kids and husband.  As soon as you start raising your voice, the message you want to get across gets lost in the noise.  All you are doing is showing that you are not in control of yourself.  How would you feel if someone you respected overheard you while you were ranting and raving at the ones you love the most?  How would you feel if someone else were treating your kids or spouse that way?  I know you get frustrated and irritated and angry but you don't have to show it by yelling.  You are capable of adjusting the volume of your voice based on circumstances.  Try doing it with your family.  It takes self-control but isn't your family worth it?  The alternative is they will either tune you out, lose their respect for you, resent you or fear you.  None are good options.  Use your soft voice (unless it's an emergency)
Thank you.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Reflections on 2012

Reflecting on 2012, I never would have guessed the things that happened in the lives of my children.  It was a year full of happy beginnings and sad endings.  A year of growth and challenges.  A year where I was constantly reminded of how blessed I am as a mother to have such wonderful children.

During 2012, three new babies were born to three of my children's families.  (ok, one was born on Dec. 30, 2011 but I count her too).  Two little baby girls and one baby boy.  Two were born strong and healthy but one we knew was going to be born with congenital defects, the extent of those defects was unknown but the prognosis wasn't positive.  This beautiful baby girl was born premature, lived two hours and died in her father's arms.  Although she lived such a short life, she is loved and remembered.  She reminds us about the fragility of life and how precious it is.  She reminds us not to take each other for granted but to appreciate every day together.

Two new families were created this year when two of my daughters married their handsome young men.  One of those wasn't a surprise as M and R had been dating steadily for over a year.  It was a joyous occasion to see them finally kneel at the altar and become man and wife.  My other daughter's courtship and marriage were more of a surprise.  Daughter L didn't think she was ever going to get married until one early February day when she met M.  There was an instant connection and a whirlwind romance that culminated in their beautiful wedding in August.  I never would have imagined that seven of my eight children would be married by the end of 2012.

So, that leaves one child at home, daughter K.  Nope!  2012 was the year that she went away to college for the first time.  My baby has grown up!  But I'm happy to report that she maintained her strong A GPA while enjoying a social life and I learned how to use Skype this year to keep in touch with her.  I miss her.

With my newfound time, I discovered the world of blogging.  It's been almost one year since I started Momcoach and I have had such positive feedback from it.  Thank you.  I try to write every day but I'll admit that it's sometimes hard to come up with a topic.  I welcome any ideas for suitable topics you might have.

With 2012 at an end, I'm not sure whether to be excited or scared about 2013.  Who knows what the new year will bring.  I guess it doesn't matter - 2013 is coming, ready or not.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The last two days of the year!

There are still a few days left before the new year starts.  What are you going to do with them?  Well, tomorrow is Sunday so it would be a great idea to end the old year by going to church and showing your gratitude for the blessings you received during the year.  Being thankful helps keep our troubles and problems in perspective.

Then comes Monday.  Have you thought about spending the day doing some heavy-duty clutter purging?  If we're getting rid of an old year, why not get rid of some old stuff too!  Invite your children to do the same.  Take the stuff you no longer need to the nearest Goodwill or Deseret Industries and get a tax deduction while you're at it.  (Ask for a receipt!)  Your discarded stuff might be just the thing someone is looking for.  Don't keep it around thinking you might need it someday.  If you haven't been using it already, chances are good that you're not going to miss it in the future .  Give yourself the gift of more space!  Let it go.

Let's make the most of the next two days so we will be ready for a great new year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mothers ARE important!

This morning I had a heated discussion with someone about the importance of mothers in the home.  The person I was talking with has the opinion that while having a mother in the home is a good thing, it's even more important for her to be able to have a career and contribute to the family income.  He feels that just about anyone can raise a child.

Well, that's one of my hot buttons.  Raising children isn't of secondary importance.  It is THE most important thing a mother can do for the future generation.  It is a full time job.  Her dedication (or lack thereof) will determine how well adjusted her children are as adults.  She is the one who teaches them what is right and what is wrong.  She reinforces standards and values for her children to see and live.  She instills in them a love of learning.  She provides a warm and loving environment for them to thrive in.  Her influence is far reaching.

To say that anyone has the same feelings and dedication to your children is just not true.  There are wonderful child care providers but there are also ones who do a mediocre to poor job.  Why leave it to chance if you don't have to? 

Being a mother is often a thankless job but that doesn't lessen its importance.  Those mothers who truly devote their time and effort to the righteous rearing of their children will reap the rewards of their effort someday and no professional award will compare with what she has accomplished.  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Post Christmas

Someone needs a nap!  :)
I don't know about you, but as soon as Christmas is over, I'm ready to put things away and get back to normal. This usually elicits a cry of protest from the kids so I try to compromise.  The tree can stay up and still light up the room with all the twinkly lights (until New Years) but the gifts need to be put away and all the wrappings need to be gathered up and put in the trash.  The leftover cookies and goodies need to be eaten or packed up and frozen for eating later.  I'm tired of sweets (at least for a few days!)  I don't want to see any more elves on shelves. I think they're creepy anyway!  :)

Most of all, it's time to get back to the routines of living.  Kids need their usual bedtimes and mealtimes.  Too much partying and celebrating can be stressful on everyone!  Kids often show their stress by being hyper or cranky so go easy on them for a few days.  Returning back to familiar routines will help.

One thing that we don't have to pack away until next year though is the feeling of love and gratitude for family and friends and the desire to help one another and be kind.  Let's keep those up all year long.  

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

If you're reading this on Christmas day, it's time to shut down the computer and go have a Merry Christmas with your family and friends!

I wish you all a wonderful day full of laughter and love!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Twas the day before Christmas...

Twas the day before Christmas and all through the house
All the creatures were stressed out, yes, even the mouse.

With Mom in the kitchen and Dad in the shop
They're determined to finish even if it means they will drop.

And kids, oh how crabby, are bouncing off walls
In anticipation of the presents you bought at the malls.

Ok, so I'm not a poet  :)  The big day is almost here and it's time to stop shopping, stop frantic holiday baking and settle down to relax with your family.  No matter what didn't get finished or how things didn't turn out as envisioned, you can give your children a wonderful, memorable day by just being happy with what you have and showing appreciation for the blessings that your family received this year.  You kids will probably forget the gifts but will always remember the laughter and the love.

Don't stay up too late now wrapping presents!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The most valuable gifts

With all the time spent looking for just the right Christmas presents for your children, it might be good to remember that the most valuable gifts you can give your children aren't things at all. 

The gift of a calm and peaceful mother.  This one is one of the hardest and yet one of the most appreciated.  Your children will behave better and your home will be a place of joy and happiness.

The gift of listening.  When your kids are talking to you, do you really listen to them or are you distracted with something else?  It's so easy to let your mind wander but what they have to say is important to them and therefore, should be important to you.

The gift of security.  A tough one.  While there is little security in the world today, your children need to feel secure in their home with their parents. 

The gift of time.  The argument says that quality is as good as quantity when it comes to time.  Not so.  Your children need you for the routine, mundane things in their life as well as the scheduled, special times.

The gift of patience.  Your children aren't little adults.  They will make mistakes.  They will annoy you.  They will have accidents.  This is all part of growing up.  Be patient with them.

The gift of unconditional love.  No matter what they do or say, your children need to know that they are loved and that you will always be there for them.  Always.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thrifty Thursday - Stocking Stuffers

A few days ago I read an article in Yahoo News about inexpensive stocking stuffers under (gasp!) $20.00!  I don't know about you, but any present over $10.00 qualifies as a real gift and goes under the tree.  Filling stockings for the kids with trinkets that add up to $50.00 or more is not my idea of wise use of spending, even at Christmastime.

What is your family's tradition concerning Christmas stockings? In my family we usually give everyone an apple, an orange, some candy (Lindor balls are my favorite!), granola bars or trail mix, some packets of hot chocolate mix, a individual sugary cereal box or two, maybe some socks and a little (and I do mean little) surprise of some sort. Guess what the kids have for breakfast on Christmas morning?  :)

Christmas stockings are more the prelude to opening presents, not the main event.  So, why spend lots of money on filler that will most likely be hurriedly tossed aside in the hurry to open the big stuff?

A good place to find inexpensive stocking stuffers is the dollar store.  Except for the fresh fruit I mentioned above (and the Lindor balls), everything else can probably be bought for under $10.00 per stocking...and that's being very generous!  Use your imagination and creativity!  Make it an adventure to see what fun stuff you can come up with!  Just one word of early in the day to avoid the crowds  :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What's Coooking? Wednesday - Cranberry Chicken Roll Ups

I love leftovers.  Maybe that's because I get another meal without all the work!  I'm lazy that way  :)  My husband, however, isn't fond of leftovers so I have to be creative when serving him something twice in a row.  Today I achieved it!  He didn't know he was eating chicken from last night's meal.  Yay!

Cranberry Chicken Roll Ups
Leftover chicken (or turkey) breast, shredded *
Flour tortillas or wraps
Cranberry sauce, whole berry would be my preference but I only had jellied
Cream cheese
Lettuce, broken into small pieces
Tomato, sliced thin

For each wrap assemble as follows -

Spread cream cheese over 1/2 of the tortilla.  Spread cranberry sauce over other half.

Arrange shredded chicken over top.

Sprinkle lettuce over chicken and top with tomato slices.

Roll up firmly.  Looks like slugs  :)

Slice and eat!

  *To shred chicken or turkey - Put chicken pieces in a pot and bring to a boil.  Boil until chicken is so tender it shreds when pulled apart with a fork.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Winter Weather Reminder

As I'm writing this, the wind is blowing strongly and the rain is pounding down.  It might even snow tomorrow and there's a chance of a power outage.  I know, this is not a weather blog  :)  but it reminds me of important things.

Does your car have emergency survival supplies?  If your car were to become disabled, do you have what it takes to wait it out until help arrives?  It's amazing how quickly a car can get cold and how hungry you can get when you realize that you are stuck somewhere and have to wait.

So, before you need it...
Find a plastic container, backpack or duffel and put in it -
Quick energy snacks for every family member (like trail mix, granola bars, pop tarts)
Individual bottles of water
Heavy weight gloves
Winter scarves or hats for everyone
Extra socks
Diapers, wipes and formula for baby 
Put the backpack or container in the back of your car.

Now don't you feel better?

Oh, and I'm assuming that you have a cell phone and basic car equipment (like car jack, spare tire, wrenches, jumper cables and that kind of stuff)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Helping kids deal with tragedy

Our world is a scary place.  The shootings in the Connecticut elementary school serves as a stark reminder of how vulnerable we and our children are.  It's always a tragedy when someone dies at the hand of another but random gunning down of innocent children is beyond comprehension.

Even though it's difficult for us to understand, our focus needs to be on our children, helping them cope, reassuring them and teaching them.  Here are some ideas to help you...

1. Limit the amount of time you watch news coverage of tragedy in front of your children.  They don't need to see or know all the horrific details. 
2. Along with #1, limit the amount of discussion you do with other adults when the children are within listening distance.
3. Children mirror their parents.  If you want to lessen their anxiety, be calm and in control of yourself.
4. Be truthful and honest with them.  Remember to be age-appropriate when discussing things with them.
5. Keep your routines as normal as possible during times of stress.  Everyone needs that sense of normalcy when the world around them is going crazy.
6. Your children will probably need extra love and reassurance while they are coping with the effects of a tragedy.  Give them the time they need to deal with it.
7. Turn to God to give you strength.  He is the ultimate source of peace and comfort.

We have little control over things that happen in the world but we do have control of how we respond to them and how we help our children cope.  We can't live in fear of the unknown but must continue living and loving our families to the best of our abilities.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thrifty Thursday - Low cost Christmas activities

Some would have you believe that to have the perfect Christmas, you have to spend tons of money on elaborate gifts, decorations and activities.  It doesn't have to be that way.  Christmas doesn't have to be a budget breaker.  It's possible to enjoy many varied activities during the holiday season without spending a lot of money.  In fact, there are probably more inexpensive options to choose from than any other time of year.  Here are a few ideas...
Chuck set up this Nativity scene.  :)  Can you find the pterodactyl and Noah?

1. Set up a Christmas themed jigsaw puzzle to work on during the month.
2. Invite friends over for hot chocolate and cookies.
3. Go caroling.
4. Drive around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights and decorations.
5. See if your community is having a Messiah Sing-Along.  Great fun!
6. Rent Christmas movies and watch a different one every evening.
7. Make Christmas cards for far away family
8. Get a friend to trade taking family pictures.
9.  Depending on location, drive up the mountain for a snow day.
10. Act out the Nativity.
11. Read aloud a Christmas book during the month.  My kids loved "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever"  Others I remember are O'Henry's "The gift of the Magi", "The Bird's Christmas Carol"(an older tear-jerker) , Dickens "A Christmas Carol", Grisham's "Skipping Christmas"
12. Make gingerbread houses.
13. Have a family campout in the living room with only the twinkly Christmas tree lights on.
14. Put jingle bells on sneakers.
15. Get everyone silly Christmas socks.
16. Listen to Christmas music as much as possible.  Pull up Pandora or Grooveshark on your computer, play CD's or tune into an all Christmas music radio station.
17. Take cookies to neighbors
18. Help a family in need.
19. Make homemade decorations with the kids.  Construction paper chains, popcorn garlands, paper snowflakes, wreaths from evergreens and pine cones, etc.  Use your imagination or use Pinterest.  :)
20. Trade babysitting with another mom so you can both do holiday shopping without little distractions.
21. Always read the story of the birth of Christ found in Luke 2 on Christmas Eve.

How's that for a start?  There are so many more ideas but I am running out of time today.  You're welcome to add to the list!  What are your favorite low cost things to do at Christmastime?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What's cooking? Wednesday - Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo
This sounds like more work than it is.  Do you really think I would post a difficult recipe?  As with most of my recipes, you can vary the amounts depending on whether you want more (or less) broccoli or chicken.  This is a good main dish on a cold winter night when you are in a hurry to eat!

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1 can Campbells Condensed Cream of Chicken soup.  I use the Healthy Recipe version
3/4 c. milk. I use skim milk
2 c. fresh or frozen broccoli florets, rinsed.  Break them into bite sized pieces if they're really big.
1/2 lb. eggs noodles or fettuccine or some other flat noodle
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese

In large pot, cook noodles in boiling water for 10 minutes.  Add the broccoli during the last 4 minutes of cooking. 

While noodles are cooking, cook the chicken in large frying pan over medium high heat until it starts to turn lightly brown on the outside.  Add the soup, milk and 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese.  Stir until hot.

When noodles and broccoli are done, drain off water and return to pot.
Add the chicken mixture to the noodles.  Stir gently to combine.
Serve with the extra Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.
Add a green salad and maybe some rolls or toasted bread and you're done.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dates with your kids!

I am stealing this idea from my daughter.  :)  You know how important it is for you to have a date night with your husband, right?  Well, my daughter and her husband also have regular date nights with their kids!  Usually on a weeknight, they each take either their son or daughter out for an hour or so and just have fun with them.  That might mean an ice cream cone at the ice cream parlor or a walk in the mall or a special library trip.   These aren't elaborate or expensive outings but by doing them regularly, they guarantee needed one on one time with their children.

My daughter has found that her son shares more of the things going on in his life with her while they are on a "date" than at home.  No distractions, no interruptions, just undivided attention for an hour each week.  And my granddaughter loves her daddy and feels so special when she has him to herself.  What a great bonding time!

Wish I'd done it when my kids were at home!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Yearning for home

I grew up surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and various other family members.  Everyone from both sides of the family lived within about 40 miles from each other.  I guess I took it for granted, having big family gatherings and knowing that I was part of a large family group.  I always thought I'd grow up, get married and live close to my family.  It didn't happen.

I went away to school where I met my future husband and where we lived depended on where he got a job.  Going back home was reduced to hurried holiday visits where I felt more like a guest than family.   I spent many a year feeling sorry for myself during holidays, when I heard about family reunions that I couldn't attend, when I missed milestones, when someone was sick or when a loved one died.

But...this is not a pity post.  For many women, part of growing up is learning how to enjoy where you live, wherever it may be.  If you have a husband and children, your home is with them first.  You have a responsibility to make that home a place of love and peace.  You have a responsibility to make the best of your circumstances.  It won't help to complain to your husband or make him feel bad for the choice that was made.  What the husband and kids need is a supportive wife and mother who isn't sitting around feeling sorry for herself and making everyone miserable because she isn't where she wants to be.

Maybe we should be thankful that we don't live when pioneers left their families for a new land and never saw them again.  At least we have the technology that allows us to be part of far-away family even from hundreds of miles away.  Little consolation sometimes, I know, but it's better than nothing.

Also, did you ever think that maybe you live where you live because there are things for you to learn that you couldn't learn elsewhere and experiences for you to have?  Sometimes we just don't know what opportunities are waiting for us when we step out of our comfort zone, have courage, and take a chance on something new.

Do I still miss my family?  Of course I do, especially this time of year.  But that's ok...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Winter Warmth

Unless you live in the Sunbelt, it's probably pretty cold where you are right now.  Where I am the temperatures have been in the 40's during the day and the 30's at night.  That means dressing appropriately for the weather.  And that means dressing your little ones appropriately too.

It never ceases to amaze me when I go to the store or somewhere outside and I see a baby in a stroller who has bare hands and a bare head.  Hey Moms!  If you need a coat, your baby needs one too.  If your hands are cold, hers are colder (she puts her fingers in her mouth).  And her head is bald.  Don't you think she could use a hat?

Then there are the moms who go to the opposite extreme.  Baby is bundled up with five or six blankets and the poor little thing is obviously uncomfortable.  No wonder Baby is crying.  I would be too!

When it comes to dressing your babies and toddlers, use common sense and use your own comfort as a gauge for what Baby should wear.  If you don't have mittens for her, use a pair of her socks.  They have snug elastic on top and stay on pretty well.  And all bald babies need hats, says the mom who had eight bald babies!  :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Home improvement...Aarrgghh!

No where is the difference between men and women more apparent than when the two of them are  working together on a project.  How do I know this?  My husband and I are doing remodeling work on our home.  I am going crazy!  How can two relatively normal people think so differently?!  However, to give him some credit, I probably drive him crazy too  :)

Here are some examples of what I mean.  I like to sew.  I decide on a project, make a list of the materials I need, check to see what I already have in my supplies, go to the fabric store and buy the materials, go home, set up my work area and proceed to make the whatever.  Then I clean everything up and put things away.  This usually takes less than a day from start to finish.  The end.

My husband is far more meticulous.  Projects need to be planned just right.  The materials need to be exactly what he envisions.  The old adage "Measure twice, cut once" is taken to new levels.  When I go with him to the home improvement store, I feel like a little kid being forced to go clothes shopping with her mother.  All my childlike tendencies, like sighing, pacing, shifting from side to side, checking the time and whining all rush to the surface.  Poor husband.

This project WILL get finished!
So, I've been working on being patient.  It isn't easy.  I thought I was a patient person but I guess I'm not there yet  :)  I keep reminding myself that his way of doing things might not be my way but the projects will get completed and will turn out fine and we'll enjoy the end results.  But in the meantime...sigh.

Maybe next time I go to the fabric store, I'll bring him along with me  :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

All weddings are unique but...

Every story has a moral and this one is no exception.  Several years ago on this day, I married my college sweetheart.  Like every newly engaged couple, we planned our wedding down to the last detail.   We would get married right after the Thanksgiving break so our families could join us (they  both lived out of state) and it wouldn't interfere with the semester finals.  Then during Christmas break, we would have an Open House to celebrate with family and friends.  We thought we had it all figured out.

All went well as we approached Thanksgiving.  Our families arrived from California and Arizona (in a huge snowstorm!) and we moved the last of our belongings from our dorms to our new apartment.  Everything was going according to plan.  Until...two days before the wedding, my husband-to-be woke up feeling sick.  He was feverish and covered with a bright red rash.  A trip to the local emergency room confirmed that he had measles.  He wasn't going anywhere for several days.  So much for our plans!

Our families had to return to their homes.  My husband-to-be was miserably sick and we didn't know what was going to happen.  So, we waited.  About a week later, he decided he was well enough so we decided that we would get married the next morning.  Luckily, we had all the paperwork completed and licenses and all that stuff. That was one extremely small wedding!  It consisted of my sister and her husband, the officiator, an unknown witness, my husband and me in the beautiful Salt Lake Temple. 

Even though our wedding didn't go as planned (it wasn't even on the DAY we planned), we're still together after all these years. 

Moral of the story...
1.  Get your kids vaccinated!
2.  Sometimes the best plans don't go as expected but you'll have quite the story to tell your children someday  :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What's cooking? Wednesday - Banana Bread

With a bunch of bananas that were clearly past their prime, I had no choice but to make banana bread today.  :)  This is a family favorite!  Quick, easy and inexpensive.  What more can you ask?!
Moist and delicious!  Banana Bread

Banana Bread
3 ripe bananas
1/2 c. oil
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In blender container, combine the bananas, oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Blend until smooth.
In mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.  Add banana mixture to dry ingredients and mix until no longer lumpy.  Pour into one 4 1/2 X 8 inch loaf pan (or two smaller pans).  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool.  Eat.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

An antidote to holiday stress

After spending several days talking about the stresses of the holidays, I will switch gears and write about one sure-fire way to bring genuine happiness to you and your children.  I'm talking about kindness...looking for ways to do something nice for someone else.  When we stop thinking so much about ourselves, our wants, our needs, our worries and think instead of what we can do for someone else, our burdens are lightened and we feel the peace and joy that we are searching for during the holiday season.

This is something we can and should teach our children.  We can encourage them to look for ways they can be kind or look for things they can do to help their siblings or their parents.  Maybe every evening at dinner, you can go around the table and ask everyone to tell one kind thing they did that day.  Although some of the most rewarding service is anonymous, children need positive reinforcement to help them get started.   You might even reward them with a treat (maybe a small candy cane) or a gold star on a chart to give them incentive.

 Everywhere you look, there are opportunities to show kindness, especially in this crazy, fast-paced world we live in.  Whether at home, at work or out about town, there are ways to brighten someone's day.  We're not even talking about something big, elaborate or time-consuming.  A small gesture can have a great impact.  Not only will you make someone happier, you'll have good warm fuzzy feelings too.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Holiday Stress - Part 6 - Too much to do!

Everybody loves Christmastime.  There are parties to attend, lights to see, decorations to put up, cookies to bake, gifts to make, presents to wrap, family and friends to visit, activities to participate in, plays, movies  and musical productions to watch, caroling in the neighborhood, and of course, snuggling around a warm fire, sipping hot chocolate, watching the lights of the Christmas tree and listening to beautiful Christmas music.  Sounds idyllic, doesn't it?

So, how are you going to accomplish all this?   If you're like most moms, you're not unless you are planning on stressing yourself out and everyone around you.  But that's ok.  You don't have to do everything.  Just because there's a smorgasbord of delightful activities to choose from, doesn't mean you have to participate in them all.

Here's an idea.  Tonight for Family Night, gather everyone together and ask them what is their favorite part of the holiday season.  Write down their answers and then have everyone rank them in order of importance.  Depending on other obligations, choose the top 4 or 5 (or whatever number) and focus on them.  You might be surprised.  You might think that the homemade knitted sweaters that you've been making everyone for the last ten years are the highlight of the family's Christmas and then find out that they didn't even make the top ten list.  So, why do it?  Use your time, energy and money for things that make everyone happy and (hopefully) reduce some of the stress you put yourself through.  You might even find that the favorites change from year to year.  That's normal.  Kids grow up every year.

If you put your focus on a few well planned activities and experiences, you might find yourself actually enjoying the holiday.    Now go relax with that cup of hot chocolate...  :)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A case of misplaced priorities

This incident gave me a lot to think about.  What do you think?

Two school age children (a boy and a girl) wanted to do something to make their mother happy.  She had been under a lot of stress lately and the children noticed her sadness.  They decided to surprise her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.  While she was gone on an errand, they picked an armful of wildflowers and arranged them in their mother's favorite heirloom vase that had belonged to their grandmother.  When their mother came home, they went into the kitchen, picked up the heavy vase and proceeded to take it to their mother in the living room.  Unfortunately, the vase was both heavy and slippery and it slipped from the little girl's hands and shattered all over the floor.  What would you do if you were the mom?  What did the mom do?

The mom gave in to her first instinct and berated the children harshly for destroying something that was very valuable to her.  She demanded that they pay her for the damage to her vase to teach them that if you break something, you have to pay for it.  The children were heartbroken as they gathered all their saved money to give to their irate mother. 

Let's talk about this story.   Did the kids do something malicious?  Did they intentionally break the vase?   Were they roughhousing, causing the vase to be knocked over and broken?  The answer of course is no.  What happened was a complete, unfortunate accident.  They love their mother and were trying to please her.  They didn't mean to break anything.

Sure, the heirloom vase is broken beyond repair but what is more important, a broken vase or a broken spirit?  A vase is an has no feelings.  It may represent a dearly departed loved one but it isn't that person.  A child is of far more infinite worth.  Their spirits are young and tender.  Surely a mother can realize the difference.  In the above story, a mother's opportunity to grow closer to her children was lost in the emotion of misplaced priorities.

We are the parents here.  We should be the mature ones.  Hopefully we will treat our children with love and understanding and build them up rather than tear them down.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Holiday Stress - Part 5 - Who is Santa?

How do parents tell their kids that Santa isn't real?  I think this is a case where it's possible to worry a little too much.  Of course Santa isn't real.  Neither is Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the red nosed reindeer or the Grinch.  To a very small child, these characters probably seem real.  This is normal.  Developmentally, they haven't yet learned how to distinguish between imaginary and real.  Just wait a few years and they'll figure it out for themselves just like they figured out that Spiderman and Big Bird aren't real.  They won't be scarred for life.  It's part of the growing up process. 

Something you can do is treat Santa like the holiday figure that he represents.  When you are at the mall with your kids, you can point to him and say, "Oh, look, there's a Santa" (emphasis on the a) just like you might say, "Look, there's a Christmas tree!"  Make Santa part of the holiday experience if you wish but don't overpersonalize him. 

A couple of my kids had a different problem when it came to Santa.  They were really bothered by the idea that a strange man with a white beard and red suit would watch them while they were sleeping and would (basically) break into our home.  Never mind that Santa was supposed to bring them presents, they didn't want anything to do with him.  I had no problem reassuring them that Santa was not a real person and that he wouldn't be coming down our chimney or peek in on their sleep.

All children are different.   Take your cues from them.  If they're afraid of Santa, don't push them.  If they ask if he's real, they're old enough to be answered truthfully.  Remind them though that Santa Claus represents kindness and giving and those are some of the things we should be focusing on during the Christmas season.  They'll be ok.

PS...My mom still signs her Christmas gifts to me as From Santa  :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Holiday Stress - Part 4 - Shopping

Unless you are super organized and bought all your Christmas gifts during the year, carefully choosing each item especially for a particular person and getting it on sale (of course), you are faced with one of the most common stresses of the holidays.  I'm talking about fighting the crowds, finding what you want sold out, and not being able to figure out what to buy at all.  I know, you were planning on doing things differently this year but somehow here you are and it's less than a month before Christmas.

Well, it's no use wishing you had more time.  What you need to do is sit down (real soon!), make a list of the people you need to buy gifts for and make a plan.

This is why you don't take children shopping with you  :)
There are better times to go shopping than in the middle of the day on Saturday.  Luckily, most stores have extended hours in the month before Christmas so use that to your advantage.  The best times to shop are early in the morning or late at night.  And you DON'T want to take your kids with you!  Trade babysitting with another mother or have your husband sit with the children.  This is a must!

Did you remember to bring your list?  Do you have your credit card or money?  Can't forget that!

Even if it's freezing cold outside, leave your coat in the car.  It gets hot really quick inside stores.  That's one of the things I dislike about dress warmly for outdoors and then are hot when you get inside.  Oh well, you don't want to carry your coat around.  Being a little cold between car and store is not a big deal.

Stick with your list.  It's easy to get sidetracked when you see all the glittery, sparkly displays but try to remember what you are there for.

Maintain self control.  Too many people are rude and inconsiderate this time of year.  You don't have to take it personally.

Treat the sales clerks with respect.  They have a tough job, low wages, lousy hours and they have to deal with all those rude people every time they work.  Make their day a little easier by being polite and making sure to thank him or her.

Above all, breathe deep and remember that everything is going to be fine.  Even if you can't find that sweater in the right size, life will go on.  Christmas is about much more than gift giving or gift getting and when you stress out so much on shopping, you don't have room to enjoy the beauty of the season, and the love of family and friends.

Good luck with that shopping!  And if all else fails, shop on the internet  :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What's cooking? Wednesday - Cheater's Chili

Cheater's Chili
I admit.  I'm a cheater.  Whenever I make chili from scratch, it turns out really bland (I'm not that good with adding spices) so I cheat.  I open a can or two of chili and use it as a base for a large batch of chili.  Canned chili is really high in sodium and tastes too strong anyway.

 Tonight I made chili for eight people so I used two cans of Nalley's Chili, a quart size freezer bag of pinto beans (I made those from scratch so does that count as homemade?), one half pound of ground beef, one small onion and a bag of frozen diced tomatoes.  You can add anything else you want, such as corn or olives or omit the ground beef.    

Cheater's Chili (for 8-9 people)

2  15 oz. cans chili (any brand)
1/2 pound ground beef (optional)
4 c. cooked pinto beans
1  15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped fine

In large pot, cook ground beef and onion until brown and crumbly.  Add  rest of the ingredients and cook on low for 10-20 minutes.
To serve, put a handful of tortilla chips in a bowl.  Put on a cup or two of chili.  Top with grated cheddar cheese and/or sour cream.

Super easy! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday stress - Part 3 - I WANT!

I was visiting with four and a half year old Chuck and he told me what he wants for Christmas.  He wants an iPad and a chainsaw.  :)  The iPad is a definite NO and unless Fisher Price makes a real working chainsaw, I think he's going to be disappointed.

Our children are bombarded with commercials and advertising telling them what they should want.  Those commercials are very enticing and our children are not immune to their allure.  They are also influenced by the movies and TV shows they watch and things the people around them have.  They are led to believe that they can ask for anything and see it under the tree on Christmas morning.  Yes, they can ASK for anything, but they need to know that they might not GET everything they want.

So, what do you do when you know your child isn't going to get what he says he wants on Christmas?
It depends on the age.  In Chuck's case, he's too young to get the "We can't afford it" or the "There's no way in heck you're getting that!" explanation.  Keep your explanation simple and short.  You can say that real chainsaws can only be used by people who are at least 14 (or whatever age you want) so you're sorry but he's going to have to wait on that one.  As for the iPad, you can remind him that Daddy already has one and he can still use it.  You can go with him to a store and carefully direct him to toys you think are appropriate and talk them up.  You can as him for other suggestions.

For older kids, I think it's ok to be upfront and let them know that you have a budget that you need to stick to.  You can say, "I know you're 16 and you want your own car for Christmas but it's just not going to happen.  We are keeping our gift purchases for you kids to $------ this year."

Be careful about substituting a knock-off product for the real thing.  If your child really wants an American Girl doll (and knows exactly which one she wants), she might not be happy with the imitation doll from Walmart.  Again, be upfront with your kids.  If the budget won't allow certain gifts, help your child come up with something more reasonable.

I don't think it's ever too soon to introduce children to the idea that they can't just make a wish list and expect someone (Santa, Daddy, or whoever) to come up with everything on it.  Start now and try to turn the focus away from what they get to what they can give.   

Monday, November 26, 2012

Holiday stress - Part 2 - Traditions

If you were to spend the holidays with a family in China or Germany, you would expect the customs and traditions to be different than what you are used to.  You would be respectful of those customs and try to blend in.  Well, here's a surprise for you...every family has it's own culture and traditions.  Even if your husband grew up in the house next door, you'd soon find out that his family does things differently that yours does.  At no time is this more evident that during the holidays.

My advice to you?  Relax and don't try to change them.  You may think they're weird (and they may be) but it's probably best not to voice that opinion  :)  Maybe you don't even like them.  That's ok.  You don't have to.  But you DO have to be pleasant and cordial when you get together with them.  You are talking about the family your husband grew up with and loves.  It's not going to hurt you to participate in your in-law's holiday traditions.  What you will be doing is being supportive of your husband and building a relationship with his family.  And his family is YOUR family.

There is plenty of time to develop your own traditions within the walls of your own little home.  Take the favorite traditions of both families, incorporate them and build on them and you will have your own unique family traditions that your children will love and look forward to. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Holiday Stress - Part 1

Christmastime is coming and you know what that, happiness, joy...and tension, stress and frustration.  That's right.  Holidays have a habit of bringing out some of the more negative emotions we all have.  In the quest to produce the perfect holiday, we tend to get carried away with things that don't matter at the expense of things that are important.

How can you reduce tension and stress during the holiday season?

1. Reduce your expectations.  The table doesn't need a perfect centerpiece and the tree doesn't have to color coordinate to make an enjoyable get together.
2. Accept the things you can't change.  You have no control over the weather, illness and other unexpected situations.  Make sure you have a Plan B in case your original plans fall through.
3. Laugh.  When you realize you forgot to put a main ingredient in the showcase dessert, it does no good to get mad. Learn to laugh at your (and others) mistakes.  Laughter can lighten the darkest mood.
4. Serve others.  Instead of focusing on the difficult things in your life, find ways to help someone in need.  Encourage your children to do the same.
5. Remember the reason for the season.  What are you celebrating? Keep that the main focus of your holiday.
6. Be thankful.  No matter how humble your circumstances, you have much to be thankful for.  Count your blessings every time you feel down.  Never forget how much you have. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Playing games with kids

Have you ever tried playing Monopoly with a six and ten year old?  Even in the best of circumstances, Monopoly is a long, sometimes boring game.  Take a couple of kids with short attention spans (who really want to play the game) and you have the potential for a looooong afternoon.  So, what did we do?  We made up our own rules to fit the kid's level of interest.  It was a mercifully short game, pretty fun, and the six year old won  :)

One of my favorite comic strips is Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes.  Calvin is an imaginative six year old with his stuffed tiger, Hobbes (who is alive in his world).  One of the recurring themes of the strip is Calvin and Hobbes playing "Calvinball", which boils down to making up their own rules to the games they play.    

"Other kids' games are all such a bore!
They've gotta have rules and they gotta keep score!
Calvinball is better by far!
It's never the same! It's always bizarre!
You don't need a team or a referee!
You know that it's great, 'cause it's named after me!"
Part of the Calvinball theme song.

For some reason, when people play games, they think they need to "play by the rules".  Who says you have to do that?  Play however you want! Games get too complicated anyway.  Have fun!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Too pooped to post today  :)   Happy Thanksgiving and may we always be thankful for the blessings we have in our lives and in our families.  Life is good.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What's cooking? Wednesday - Pies!

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I like to make food that is quick, easy, and inexpensive.  The exception to this is Thanksgiving.  It's one of the few times of the year that I make things from scratch...cranberry sauce, rolls, stuffing, pies, yams...prepackaged or precooked just won't do.  So, today I've been making pies.

My well-used ancient cookbook
It's been a while since I've made pie crust so I got out my ancient Better Homes and Gardens "New" Cook Book.  I was planning on making two pumpkin pies, two banana cream pies, one "better than pumpkin pie" pumpkin dessert, and one pumpkin custard.  That meant two pie crusts needed to be made and cooked without filling.

Oops!  Forgot to prick the dough!
I followed the recipe and popped the crusts in the oven.  About ten minutes into the cooking, I realized I forgot to prick the crust with a fork to prevent the crust from puffing up.  Oops!  I peeked in the oven and yes, the crust had large bubbles.  Darn!  I thought about using them anyway but no, I'm going to do it right.  So, I let them finish cooking and started over again.  This time I got it right.  I'll break up the puffy crusts, freeze them and use them for pie shakes later. 
I'll save the oopsies for later  :)

Second time - no mistakes!
The rest of the pies and desserts turned out surprises.

Better Homes and Gardens Plain Pastry  (for 2 single-crust pies)
2 c. flour
1 t. salt
2/3 c. shortening
5-7 T. cold water.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Put flour and salt into bowl.  Cut in shortening with forks until pieces are the size of small peas.  (If forks are hard to use, use your clean hands to gently incorporate the shortening into the flour.)  Sprinkle cold water over the mixture, tossing with fork until all the mixture is moistened.  Form into a ball.  Flatten on lightly floured surface with your hand.  Use rolling pin to flatten dough until about 1/8 inch thick.

Fit pastry into pie pan.  Trim to fit.  Tuck under edge and flute edge (that's the zig zag pattern you see on crusts).   To bake the crust without filling, prick all over the bottom and sides with a fork (I forgot to do this the first time).  If you are baking the crust and filling together, do not prick the pastry.

Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Life is precious

Today is my fifth child's birthday.  When you have gone through pregnancy and childbirth four times already, you're familiar with what's going on and don't expect any surprises.  This particular birth seemed especially easy...only four hours of labor, a healthy baby boy and I felt great.  We went home the same day and settled in to life with five kids under the age of eight. Thanksgiving was two days later and my husband made the entire Thanksgiving dinner (except the pies - I made those).  Everything was going smoothly.  The next few days were spent preparing talks for church on Sunday for my three oldest children and myself.  Why I didn't decline the opportunity to speak that Sunday I'll never know.  I had a five day old baby!  Anyway, the talks went fine and everything was going smoothly.

Then came Monday.  We had to take our baby into the city (about 40 miles away) to get him circumcised.  An odd thing happened while I was sitting in the waiting room at the hospital.  I got a splitting headache and started getting chills and a feverish feeling.  It came on suddenly.  Fine one minute and horrible headache the next.  Odd.  After leaving the hospital, we drove to my husband's work, where I dropped him off and went on home.  I still felt sick.  I took some Tylenol but that didn't seem to help so I gave my midwife a call.  She heard my symptoms and told me to get my husband home immediately and get to the emergency room at the hospital.  If he wasn't home in 30 minutes, I was to call an ambulance to take me.   That got my attention!  Hey, it was just a fever and headache.  However, I did what she told me and we went to the hospital.  I figured the doctor would look at me, maybe give me some antibiotics and send me home.  Wrong.  Somehow, I had developed septic shock from childbirth and my organs were in danger of shutting down.  I was seriously sick.  I had never been sick before!  My husband took our new son home with him and I was stuck in the hospital, hooked up to tubes and crying miserably.  I spent nearly a week in the hospital, alternating between feeling sorry for myself and feeling totally grateful to be alive.   I missed my kids.  I was supposed to be bonding with my new baby and I couldn't even see him.  One of the highlights of that stay though was a card my six year old son made for me.  It said, "Violets are blue.  Roses are red.  How's your head?  We're glad you're not dead."  :)   Oh, how I love that boy!

Well, the story ended well.  I came home.  Everyone survived.  I developed a new appreciation for life and a new respect for healthcare providers.

Key learning - If something seems out of the ordinary concerning your health, check with your doctor, especially concerning pregnancy and childbirth.  Don't delay.  If I had waited, the consequences might have ended differently.  Life is precious.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Emergency Entertainment

The pic is blurry because of the rain on the camera.  It's a blustery day!
Today I'm sitting in the living room listening to pounding rain and heavy wind.  We've had a couple of power outages already and the internet is periodically going out.  All this makes me think about emergency preparedness.

I've already written a basic blog post on the subject but today I think it's important to remember that if the power goes out, most of our usual entertainment goes out too.  No TV, internet, video games, music, anything that requires electricity (unless you're lucky enough to have a generator!).

How are you going to keep your children happy and content in the event of a power outage?  In your emergency preparedness supplies did you remember to include activities, games and books to entertain the restless masses?  How about for you and your spouse?  What are you going to do if you're stuck in the house with no power and maybe even snowed in?

Dollar stores are wonderful sources of cheap entertainment for kids and adults.  You can get a supply of coloring books, crayons, paint sets, marker sets, play dough (although I prefer real Playdoh), little plastic army men and animals, craft sets, crossword puzzle books and other books, playing cards and games, and lots of other things.  For less than $20.00, you can get enough stuff to keep most kids busy, hopefully for the duration of the emergency.  Store your goodies in a plastic container and hide it from the kids.  You want them to be surprised with fun things to do that are unfamiliar to them.

Most emergencies are stressful but there are things you can do to make the time pass more pleasantly.  The time to gather things for an eventual emergency is not when the storm hits.  It's now.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Moving outside your comfort zone

Remember when you were in elementary school and you only associated with kids who were in your grade?  You didn't interact with those who were even one grade lower or higher.  Then as you progressed into junior high and high school you started branching out a little to include kids of different grades.   You'd think that as adults it would be easier to have friends of different ages but there is still that tendency to stick with people of your own age.  That's really too bad.  Some of your closest friends might be women who are old enough to be your mother or young enough to be your daughter.

When I was a young mother, I lived far away from my mother and sisters but found friendship in several women who shared their wisdom and talents with me.  Let's see...Mary Ellen taught me how to can fruit.  Marge (who was raising five children) gave me child rearing advice.  Ruth, who was severely disabled with rheumatoid arthritis, taught me how to quilt by hand.  Ila taught me how to grow a garden.  I loved those women.  Much of what I learned about being a mother, I learned from them.  How I would have missed out if I had only interacted with other young mothers who were as clueless as I.

Several years later, I am still learning a great deal from dear friends of all ages.  I am thankful for those friends, not just because I learn from them but I enjoy their company.  My life is richer because of that bond of friendship.

After you get married and start having children, age means very little.  A woman having her first child at age 40 is experiencing many of the same struggles as a 20 year old having her first baby.  All of a sudden, there is much in common.  You might make a new friend if you step out of your (age) comfort zone and get to know women who have either gone through or are going through the same challenges that you are experiencing.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bathroom conversations :)

Lilly is a 2 1/2 year old little girl with an extensive vocabulary.   We had this conversation while she was using the bathroom the other day.  I was sitting on the edge of the tub keeping an eye on her and she was taking her time.   Oh, and the family bathroom shares a common wall with the master bathroom.
Lilly, not in the bathroom  ;)

Lilly (after listening intently for a few seconds) - "What's that noise?"
Me - "That's the water from the shower.  I think Grumpy taking a shower in his bathroom."  (the grandkids call their grandpa "Grumpy")
Lilly - "That's the shower?  And Grumpy is taking a shower?"
Me - "Yes, Grumpy is taking a shower."
Lilly - "Is he naked?"
Me - "What!?"
Lilly - "Is Grumpy naked in the shower?"
Me - "Uhhhhh, I guess so."
Lilly - "So, is Grumpy naked?"
Me - "Aren't you finished going bathroom yet?"

Talk about being taken by surprise  :)  I related the story to Lilly's mom later and she laughed and explained.  Lilly had walked into their bathroom while her daddy was taking a shower and he told her to go out because he was naked.  Kids remember more than we think.  :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thrifty Thursday - Over budget and over time

I still need to add a mantel but that can wait a little while.
Two weeks ago, I posted about a project my husband and I were working on...building a new hearth for our pellet stove.  (post dated 11/1/12)  Well, I am happy to report that the hearth is completed.  It passed inspection and all clearances are up to code.  As usual, it cost twice as much as we anticipated and took waaaaay longer than planned.  But it's finished and it works beautifully.

Most do-it-yourself projects DO take longer and cost more than planned.  To cut down on too many nasty surprises, plan on twice the amount of time you think a project will take and double the estimated cost.  You still might go over but at least it won't be as much of a shock.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What's cooking? Wednesday - Meatball Sandwiches

Whenever I make something new for my husband, I ask him to rate it on a scale of 1-10.  This sandwich rated a 9.5 on the husband approval rating scale.  (I gave it a 10)

Meatball Sandwiches - YUM!
You can use any kind of bread for the sandwich, although a baguette-style loaf  works particularly well because it isn't too much bread in proportion to the meatballs.  I admit to loving Panera Bread's Asiago Cheese Demi Loaf when making this sandwich.  It's a little more expensive than what you'd buy at Safeway or Albertson's ($2.99 a loaf vs $1.99 a loaf) but I think it's worth the difference in cost.  Whatever you decide, it's sure to be a hit!

Meatball Sandwiches

For the meatballs -
1 lb ground beef
2 slices day-old bread
1 egg (or 1/4 c. egg replacer)
1/4 c. finely chopped onion or 2 T. dried onion
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper (or to taste)

Mix everything together in a bowl.  Form into one inch balls.  Cook in large frying pan over medium heat, until the meatballs are brown all the way through.

For the Sandwiches -
Cooked meatballs
1/2 c. to 1 c spaghetti sauce (canned or homemade)
2-3 oz. cheese (mozzarella, provolone or gouda work well), shredded
Parmesan cheese (to sprinkle on top)
Sandwich rolls, french bread, baguettes...some type of sturdy loaf-type bread

Turn oven to broil.  Mix the cooked meatballs with the spaghetti sauce.  I don't like mine really drippy so I don't use a lot of sauce but that's a personal preference.  Slice bread lengthwise.  Lightly toast bread under broiler.  Take out of broiler and put meatballs (and sauce) on one side of the loaf.   Sprinkle with shredded cheese and top with parmesan cheese.  Put under broiler again and broil until the cheese is melty and bubbly.  Yum!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tidy Tuesday - Thanksgiving is coming!

In case you aren't aware, Thanksgiving is in one week and two days.  Is it my imagination or does it seem too early for Thanksgiving?  I'm still buying Halloween candy  :)

Anyway, if you're hosting the gargantuan Thanksgiving feast at your home this year, this would be an ideal time to start getting the house clean and ready for the onslaught.  Even if you're not hosting, Thanksgiving means the Christmas season is fast approaching so you might as well take the time to get the house ready for the holidays too.

To get things ready for Thanksgiving, the first place to start is the refrigerator.  Clean it out.  Use up those leftovers or throw them away.  Having a cleared out refrigerator will give you space to put all the goodies for the big meal.

Next, do you have a list prepared for the things you will need next week?  Do you have the menu planned?  (It should be in the reverse order...first plan the menu, THEN make the list).  Check your cupboards.  Do you already have some of the ingredients?    Watch for the grocery ads to come out later this week.  The best prices on turkeys and other traditional holiday food should be in this week's ads.

Has the bathroom had a thorough cleaning lately?  At least clean the guest (or main) bathroom really well and stock it with the necessities.  You don't want any awkward moments...

Head turkey dissector
With a little planning and advance preparation, you don't have to be frantically running around on Thanksgiving day.  Enlist as many people as possible to help you (either by making special dishes, keeping an eye on little ones, washing dishes, running errands, setting the table, etc.).  Whatever you do, don't decide to do a major cleaning of your home on the morning of Thanksgiving.  Too late...

I know it doesn't seem like it when you're up to your elbows in turkey guts but Thanksgiving is for you too, you know.  Spend a little time this week so you can enjoy the holiday with the rest of the family. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Kindness begins with me

Yesterday at church there was a lesson on the power of kindness.  After the meeting, I was talking with a group of people and we were discussing the lesson.  Someone said that he felt people use kindness as a way of manipulating others to their point of view.  HE'S MISSING THE POINT!  Kindness isn't about how others treat you.  It's about how you treat others!   When you try to guess the motive for someone else's behavior you are putting your own prejudices and assumptions into the mix and distorting their motive and intent.   It's no wonder people have problems with communication!  Let's not worry about why other people are saying or doing something.  Let's just focus on our own behavior.

There is a cute little children's song that tells the point simply and beautifully.  It goes -
I want to be kind to everyone for that is right you see.
So I say to myself, remember this
Kindness begins with me.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Breast Milk Baby doll - What will they think of next?

This morning I saw an article about a new baby doll...called the Breast Milk Baby.   Yes, it imitates the suckling sounds and motions of a breastfed baby when the little girl (presumably) puts on a special halter top with attached nipples/petals.  (The "nipples" have sensors that activate the doll's response.)

How do you feel about that?  I have conflicting emotions about the whole thing.  While I believe that breastfeeding is the best option for babies (I breastfed all 8 of my children),  I"m not sure that children need to have dolls that are quite so realistic.   Baby dolls already can drink, wet, burp, crawl, and who know what else but do children derive more pleasure and enjoyment out of those dolls than the basic simple doll?  Do we need to have a doll that gets diaper rash, fevers, throws up, spits up, has a runny nose, and drools?  If we want children to have a realistic experience with their dolls, do the dolls have to do more?

Personally, I think we should let our children use their imaginations with their dolls and toys.  They are creative naturally and don't need us to concoct imitation experiences for them.  I remember most of my children "feeding" their baby dolls by clutching them to their chests.  They didn't need a special halter top to simulate the experience.  I am rolling my eyes as I type this  :)

Again, remember that this is just my opinion.  If you want to know more about this doll (if only to creep you out) you can look up the manufacturer's website,  To its credit, the doll is quite cute.  But obviously, this is not an endorsement or paid testimonial.  :)  If you want a high quality baby doll, choose one by American Girl or Corolle.  No batteries, no weirdness, just lovable doll.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thrifty Thursday - Confusion

It's that time of year again where every store is competing for your business.  Beware.  Don't be fooled by advertisements that seem too good to be true.  Before you get all excited about a great deal, look around and make sure that you are really getting the best price for your money.

But Mom, she's 20 percent off!
Example - Target sells women's fashion scarves for $14.99.  That is their everyday price.  Shopko sells comparable scarves for $29.99.  BUT...Shopko is advertising a whopping 50 percent off!!!  Hmmmm....are their scarves REALLY worth $29.99 or did the store mark the price up so they could give a deep discount?  You decide.

There are many stores that use this ploy to bring uninformed customers into their stores.  Stores that regularly have big sales where everything is 30, 40 or 50 percent off are probably not giving you that big of a bargain.  Their bottom line is to make a profit, not to sell you things super cheap.  Keep that in mind when you are out shopping. 

There are legitimately good sale prices out there but just because something is advertised 30 percent off or 50 percent or whatever, doesn't mean that it is a real bargain.  Know your prices so you'll know a good deal when you see one. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post election

Well, the election of 2012 is now over.  Half the country is jubilant and half the country is bitterly disappointed.  I can't remember a time when the choices were so clear-cut and (pardon the expression) black and white.  But whatever happened yesterday, today is a new day and life goes on.  More than ever, it is our responsibility as mothers to instill the values we think are important for our children to learn and set a good example for them. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tidy Tuesday - The end

Every project or activity we (or our children) do has a beginning, a middle and an end.  That would seem to make sense, wouldn't it?  Yet how often do we forget about the last part...the end?  Don't know what I'm talking about?   Here are some examples...
You plan a sewing project.  You get out the sewing machine and all supplies, spend the day sewing and don't bother to put away the supplies or gather up the scraps and throw them away.
You make a wonderful dinner.  It was well received and delicious.  You don't clean up afterwards.
You decide to paint a bedroom.  You prep the walls, paint them and neglect to wash the brushes and rollers.
Your kids have a great time making pictures with markers.  When they are finished, they leave everything on the table and disappear to make a mess somewhere else.
You go grocery shopping.  You lug all the bags into the house and leave them on the put away later.

Don't forget to put the markers away when you're through...
Do you see what's missing?  The key part of every activity that is just as important as the beginning...the cleaning up, the putting away, the ending.  No project is completely finished until every tool, every supply, every piece of equipment, every toy, every piece of trash is put in its home.

If we could just teach our kids this and do it ourselves, it wouldn't be such a big thing to clean up our homes and keep them that way.  Is there something waiting for you to put away?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Conflict resolution policeman style

Have you ever been pulled over by a policeman for speeding?  I have...but that's not the topic of this post :).   What I want to talk about is conflict resolution.  Policemen are an excellent example of how to deal appropriately with disobedience and we can learn from the way they do it.

So, you were speeding down the road and you notice the lights flashing behind you.  Darn!  Caught!  You safely pull over to the side of the road and go over in you mind what you did.  Mr. Policeman slowly walks over to your car window and politely asks if you know why you are being pulled over.  You either come up with a lame excuse or are honest and tell the truth.  Either way, Mr. Policeman then describes the facts as he saw them.  No arguing, no emotional diatribe.  He asks for your ID and registration, takes them to his vehicle where he checks them against his records.  When he returns, he either gives you a warning about following the laws or he writes you a ticket.  Again, he's totally in control and calm.  Then he gets back into his car and drives away.  No yelling, no lectures, no threats.  As you drive away, you vow to be more careful and not go over the speed limit.

Can you see how this kind of response to disobedience can be useful in dealing with kids?  You are the voice of authority and when you respond in a calm and in control way, you have more impact than if you are yelling, screaming or threatening them with all kinds of bodily harm.  They can hear the message you want to give them because it's not hidden in all the emotional noise.

When a policeman pulls you over, his goal is to inform you that you are breaking the law and strongly discourage you from doing it again, either by way of warning or ticket (punishment).  The same is true with you as a parent.  When your child misbehaves, your goal is to inform him that he is breaking a law of the home and that it is unacceptable.  You enforce this by either giving him a warning or having him endure the consequences of his behavior.

Policemen have to learn how to reign in their emotions as part of their job and so do you as a mother.  It's possible.