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Sunday, September 30, 2012


Motherhood is like being on a roller the dark!  Thrilling, terrifying and full of twists and turns.   So, buckle up and prepare for the ride of your life!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Don't look back

A new job.  A move across the state.  A career change.  A school change.  Decisions, decisions, decisions.  It's so easy to worry about making the right decision.  You want to do what's right and you're faced with the unknown.  There are pros and cons to each choice.  You do your research, take a big breath and make the decision.

It's scary to make major changes in your life.  Even if you are sure you made the right decision, doubts and worry tend to creep in.  Change is rarely easy.  It involves going out of your comfort zone and into unfamiliar territory.  No one enjoys that.  But along with insecurities come new adventures and experiences. Without stepping into the unknown, you might miss important opportunities for you and your family.

So, don't look back.   Don't dwell on what might have been if you had made a different decision.  That is not an option.   Give yourself time to adjust to new changes and make the best of the opportunities that are before you.  It'll be an adventure!

Friday, September 28, 2012

The angry child

As an adult, you probably learned how to deal with your anger.  When you're upset at a cashier, you don't yell at him or hit or kick him.  The reckless driver who cuts you off might get a angry look from you but you're not likely to crash your own car into him.  When your husband doesn't like the dinner you made, you don't throw it across the room.  Sometime before you reached adulthood, you learned the skills to act in a socially acceptable manner.  And if not, now is the time to learn...quickly!

Now you have kids.  How do you teach them to respond to their anger in an appropriate way?  There are a few ways that might help.

First, what kind of example do you set when you are mad?  How does your husband act when angry?  Sometimes the problem lies with the parents and the kids are merely imitating them.  If you have a hard time dealing calmly when you are angry (especially at the kids), you need to work on learning calming techniques yourself.   We always have to start with ourselves.

When your child is in a good mood, talk with him about what makes him angry.  Listen and don't argue with him.  You want to hear his perspective.   What he has to say might surprise you.  He might have a legitimate cause for frustration.  If he does, see what you can do to alleviate the problem.  Younger siblings often know how to push their older brother or sister's "hot buttons".  Sneaky little things  :)  Some of my kids were extremely adept at knowing exactly what to do to make each other mad!

Tell him that everyone gets angry but some ways of expressing it aren't acceptable and won't be tolerated.  These include hurting another person, hurting property, or doing something dangerous.

Work with him to come up with acceptable outlets for anger that you both agree on.  You could then make (or have him make) a poster that lists those ideas in a prominent place.  They might include taking a deep breath before doing or saying anything, leaving the room to get in control, going outside to get some physical exercise, writing down the angry thoughts, a punching bag (not a sibling  :)  )...  He needs to know that he WILL get mad sometimes but he has to learn how to control himself.  

Work with him to come up with consequences for angry outbursts and behavior (again, while he's in a good mood).  Having him help come up with consequences makes him part of the decision making process and will increase the likelihood that he will cooperate.  Then, follow through when you need to.

Dealing with anger in an appropriate way is not learned overnight.  What you want to look for is progress in the right direction.   Your child is still just that...a child.  He hasn't reached full grown maturity, physically or emotionally.  Your job is to set a good example and offer encouragement for his efforts to learn to control himself and apply consequences when he forgets. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thrifty Thursday - Time is money

Money.  We spend money.  We save money.  We budget money.  We waste money.  We squander money.  We never have enough money. 

Now, exchange the word TIME for the word MONEY.  Did you ever think about how closely those two words are used?  Yet there is a huge difference between them.  We might not have a never ending supply of money but we always start out the day with the same number of hours, regardless of how we spent our time the day before.  That makes time a pretty important resource.

When trying to be frugal (or thrifty), we sometimes focus strictly on money and forget to factor in time.  An example of this happened last week.  I needed a new pair of jeans and was planning on driving to the outlet mall about 30 miles away to buy them.  Then I did some thinking.  Let's car gets about 20 MPG so I would be spending a minimum of twelve dollars on the cost of gas alone.  Then there's the extra hour of driving.   All to save maybe five or ten dollars on the jeans.  I could go to the local mall and come out ahead, even if the jeans cost a few dollars more.  That's exactly what I did.

There's more to a bargain than the cost of the item.  Going to four or five different grocery stores to save a few dollars might not be the best use of time or money.  Your time is valuable.  Spend it as wisely as your money.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What's cooking? Wednesday - Celebrate!

These Oreo tiny cakes are great when you just want to tell your child (or husband!) that you appreciate them, you're proud of them, or that you love them!  Life's little accomplishments and successes should be celebrated!

I came across this idea several years ago in the American Girl book, Tiny Treats.

Oreo Tiny Cakes

For each cake you need two Oreo cookies any flavor, frosting and whatever decorations you want.

Stack two Oreo cookies with a layer of frosting between.  Frost sides and top.  Decorate.
That's it!

Happy Autumn!
I used cake tattoos to decorate this little cake. 

Oh, just for your information... homemade frosting works better than canned.  Canned frosting tends to stay slippery and sticky longer so the little cakes tend to slip around and the piping doesn't hold its shape.  Today I used canned because I happened to have a can and wanted to use it up.  Should have made the frosting...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tidy Tuesday - Our stuff is not us.

Many years ago, my grandmother was getting ready to move in with one of her daughters, she asked me to come over to her house and pick anything that I wanted.  Of all her belongings, I chose two cookie sheets and three mixing spoons.  Odd choices I know, but I think of my grandmother whenever I use them, which is often.

More recently, I had the same experience with my mother.  She could no longer take care of herself nor her home and was moving in with my sister.  She too asked me to take anything I wanted.  I told her that all I wanted was copies of the family pictures, not even the originals.  To me, my mom wasn't in her stuff.  My mom is in my memories and in my heart.  I don't need her stuff to remind me of her.

How often we forget that our stuff is not us and we are not our stuff.  Our stuff is just that...stuff.  True, some things have sentimental value and are treasured for reasons known only to the owner.  But most stuff either serves a function or takes up valuable space that could be used in better ways.

It's so easy to look at other people's stuff and be objective about whether it should be kept or tossed.  But with our own stuff it's not so easy.   I have been cleaning out my garage and finally tackled five large plastic bins containing a collection that I've had most of my adult life.  I no longer have any interest in keeping up the collection or adding to it and about three years ago, I moved the entire collection to the garage.  Obviously, they serve no purpose packed away in the garage.  I know I'll never display them.  But, being objective and getting rid of many of them was more difficult than I thought.  They have little monetary value.  My children aren't interested in the collection.  Most of them have no sentimental value.  Yet, they were still hard to part with.

We all have to remember that we can't keep everything that comes into our lives.  At some point, we have to say goodbye to the baby crib and the baby clothes.  We can only keep so much of our children's artwork.  We can't even keep the beloved minivan that took us on so many adventures. They (and many other things) served their purpose but they aren't our loved ones.  Our loved ones are what we should treasure...not our stuff.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Easy Christmas craft project

I usually give my children an ornament every Christmas and this year I decided to bypass Hallmark (sorry Hallmark!) and get creative.  A good friend and I got together with all sorts of crafty bits and pieces and this is what I came up with :)

Your kids might enjoy this project too, especially those who are just learning how to read and spell.  It's quick and easy (my favorite words!).  All you need are Scrabble tiles (watch at garage sales and thrift stores for used Scrabble games), ribbon, glue (or use a glue gun if you don't have really small kids) and any tiny Christmas decorations to embellish the little word ornaments (bells, buttons, sprigs of greenery, glitter, etc.)

You can't see it very well but the ribbon is looped at the top for hanging.

These words are glued onto a thin piece of cardboard and wrapped with a ribbon.
Have fun with the kids!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Political discussions with your kids

Even though it's only September, I am overwhelmed with the number of political advertisements bombarding my home.  On the TV, in the mail, over the phone, everyone wants to sell me on their candidate or cause.  There is no doubt in my mind that this upcoming election is going to be a hot topic for us all.  This includes our children.  If they are old enough to go to school, most likely they are going to have lessons about our Presidents, the election process and even some of the causes of the day.  Their peers are going to talk about it.  They're going to hear discussions from teachers and other adults.

Your job as a mother is to be informed yourself and find ways to bring your children into conversations concerning the election in November.  They need to know what you believe in and why.  You need to be open with them so their questions can be discussed and misconceptions cleared up.  Even adults get confused with all the conflicting information swirling around!  Your children may be too young to vote, but they are old enough to start forming their own opinions and values.

One rule that I have is if I want to know about a person running for office, I will NOT look at or listen to information about him or her that is furnished by the opposition.  Why would they give me an accurate depiction of someone they want to defeat?  Instead, I'll search the particular person's record and values and weigh their supporter's endorsements to see how closely their beliefs match mine.  I'll look up his or her official website.  You can tell your older children to do the same, or better yet, do it together and learn together. 

It's going to be an interesting couple of months coming up.  I already keep the TV remote close by so I can mute the political commercials.  :)  I suggest you do the same!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Happy First Day of Fall!

Happy First Day of Fall!  As I write this, it's a beautiful warm, sunny day and yet the reminders of Fall are everywhere.  The leaves are starting to turn yellow, the tomatoes are (finally) ripening, the days are getting shorter.  And with shorter days, the cold weather is not far behind.

Are you ready?  There aren't many days left to work and play outside.  This is the time to take advantage of whatever warm, dry weather we get.

Are the kids outfitted for Winter?  Time to do an inventory of last year's clothes and current clothes and see what can be handed down and what needs to be bought.  There are probably still yard sales going on so check them out, as well as thrift stores and discount store sales for winter gear and supplies.  And if you're thinking really far in advance and have the room, summer stuff is at its lowest price so stocking up on future needs will help you be ready for next year too.

It's also time to check the furnace and get the fireplace cleaned out before the cold weather hits.  Calling a repairman to fix a furnace in September is no problem but try waiting until November!  I hope you have lots of warm blankets!

How about emergency food, heat and light?  Where we live we usually have at least one power outage each year that lasts at least 1-2 days, often more.  Having the basics on hand gives us extra peace of mind when nasty storms are forecast. 

Whatever you need to do, do make sure and take some time to enjoy the Fall season! 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Everyone experiences failure

One of the hardest things to accept is that failure is part of life and we're all going to experience it.  No one is exempt.  How's that for a downer?  Now, let's turn it around and make it positive  :)

Failure shows that we are willing to learn, to try, to take a chance.  Failure gives us the opportunity to start again, with new determination to succeed.  Failure teaches us humility and patience.

It took awhile but she succeeded!
When you or your child struggles with a sense of failure, ask, "What can I learn from this?"  "How can I be successful next time?"  Turn the negative experience into a learning experience.  As Thomas Edison famously said, "I have not failed.  I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."  Hopefully, we (or our children) won't have to do something 10,000 times before succeeding but if it's important and that's what it takes, it's worth it. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thrifty Thursday - Keeping food costs down

Let me start out today by saying that I'm not a vegan, I am not gluten-free, I don't have allergies but I DO care about feeding my family healthily and frugally.   There are certain things we can all do, regardless of special needs and diets.  Might I suggest the following...

1. Cut back on restaurant and fast food meals.  This is probably the number one killer of a food budget.
2. Learn to recreate your favorite restaurant meals at home.  You can find knock-off recipes easily online.  You'll spend MUCH less than going out!
3. Serve your family at least one meatless meal each week. 
4. In general, the more processed a food is, the more expensive it is.  Try cutting down on pre-packaged food at the grocery store.
5. Incorporate more whole grains in your diet.  They're inexpensive and good for you.  Learn to cook them!
6. Buy fruit in season.  It's cheaper (and sweeter) in its peak freshness.
7. Try to get rid of the soda habit.  There is nothing nutritionally redeeming about soda, diet or regular.
8. Shop the sales but only buy what your family eats.
9. Stock up on frequently used items.  Buy those things in bulk.
10. Beef is more expensive per pound than most other protein.  Try to use it a little more sparingly.
11. Use your crockpot for less tender cuts of meat and soups and stews.
12. Have an occasional breakfast for dinner night.  Pancakes and eggs make great dinners!
13. Comparison shop.  Don't assume the larger package is cheaper per pound than the smaller size.
14. Try to shop when you're not hungry or under pressure.
15. Try to leave the spouse and kids at home.  They are notorious for adding impulse items to your grocery cart!
16. Shop from a grocery list.  Stick to it.

These are just a few of the things you can do to keep your food costs down.  They're relatively painless too  :)  If you have any more ideas, please let me know and I'll add them!  Thanks!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What's cooking? Wednesday - Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies

The following is a new recipe, adapted from one found on Pinterest*.  It looked intriguing with its combination of chocolate and pumpkin in a brownie so I just had to try it, didn't I?  :)  I think it turned out really time I'd double the recipe and bake it in a 13 X9 inch pan.  Notice it has no egg and very little fat.

Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies
Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies

1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c. flour
2/3 c. sugar
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t.  salt
1/2 c. canned pumpkin
3 T. oil
2 T. milk
2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In medium bowl combine the dry ingredients.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until well mixed.  Pour into greased 8 X 8 inch pan and bake for about 18 minutes.  Let cool completely.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar or frost with chocolate frosting.  Enjoy!

*Original recipe found on  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tidy Tuesday - Computer distractions

Computers are both a blessing and a curse.  A blessing because we can keep in touch with loved ones near and far, we have unlimited information at our fingertips, we can share our ideas, we can take classes, we can store and share photographs, we can even watch movies and the TV episodes we missed.  How amazing when you think about it!

A curse?  Soooo many ways but I am going to focus on the fact that computers can be a BIG distraction.  There can be dishes to do, laundry that needs folding, dinner that needs to be fixed and yet it's so easy to sit glued to the computer, checking the news on Facebook, trying to beat your high score on your favorite game or looking for good ideas on Pinterest.  The time seems to fly when you're in the middle of a good chat with your friend in LA or you just want to finish one more game of ...

Recently I tried something that has been working for me pretty well.  Before I log onto the computer in the morning, I have to complete the basic things on my To Do list first.  That way it becomes a reward for getting the things I didn't want to do done.  It's been surprisingly easy to implement although occasionally I've caught myself getting ready to hit that Power button but then I remember my promise and I close my computer and tackle the the more mundane tasks of the day.  Self control!

This idea of hooking something you LIKE to do with something you HAVE to do works with anything.  It's motivating to have something to look forward to when faced with never-ending tedious or boring jobs.  Now I'm going to go check my Facebook  :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Being idealistic today...

Funny how our perspective changes as we get older.  When we are young we want to make the world better.  When we get older we want to make our families better.  When we get a little older still, we want to make ourselves better.  I wonder what could be accomplished if we reversed improving ourselves we would be in a position to improve our families and when our families were stronger, then families, working together, could make the world a better place.  It seems like the place to begin making a difference in the world is at home, starting with yourself.  Idealistic, I know. Just a thought today.  :)

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Just when we think everything is going well, something unexpected happens.  Whether it's something big like a job change, a move, a pregnancy, or an illness or even something smaller like a dinner that burns, a backed up toilet, a cancelled appointment, kid problems at school or an unexpected visitor, we learn quickly that adapting to situations is going to be an important part of being a wife and mother.   It does us no good to wring our hands and complain or worry about any situation.  It only adds to the problem.

Several years ago, a friend taught me a lesson I'll never forget.  She was the president of the local children's church organization (Primary) and I was her counselor. I was young and stressed out over any change of plan or problem.  She was always calm and laid-back, even in the midst of a crisis.  She introduced me to the concept of Plan B.  Whatever happened, she always had a solution in her head in case the original plan fell through.  I know it's not a new concept but it was new to me at the time and it changed the way I looked at things.   There's always a Plan B to any problem or challenge.  We don't need to stress.  Plan B might even end up better in the long run.  It doesn't matter.  Being able to adapt is what will make the difference between a temporary disruption and a full blown crisis.  It's worth the effort!

Remember that the tree that doesn't bend will eventually break. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The further adventures of Chuck

Chuck (name changed, as usual) is my four year old grandson.  He's one of the sweetest, brightest kids...and also one of the most stubborn and intense kids I know.  When he doesn't want to do something, watch out.

So...when Chuck was about two, he had separation issues when he came to visit me.  He'd throw the usual tantrum, screaming and kicking, making it hard for his parents to leave for a much needed break.  Of course, after they were gone, he was fine.  I found that when I distracted him and had him run upstairs to wave bye bye to his parents from the front window, he'd stop crying and wave happily to his relieved parents as they drove away.

I love the little guy!
All was well until about six months ago.  He was fine leaving his parents- by then the routine of running to the front window to wave bye bye had become the habit of him and his younger sister.   The problem became leaving my home when his parents came to pick him up.  The same thing...kicking, screaming, refusal to leave, etc.  It wasn't fun trying to get a kicking, squirming, hitting, scratching little guy into his car seat and then going back in the house to get little sister and baby sister buckled up too.  Time to try something new. When his mom came to pick him up the last time, I asked her if we could put the little girls in the car first.  Chuck was doing his tantrum thing in the house but the girls went peacefully to the car.  Now, to see if my idea would work.  I knelt down beside Chuck and told him that if he got into his car seat, I'd run upstairs and wave bye bye to him from the front window.  He stopped crying, ran to the car and his mother quickly strapped him in his seat.  He happily waved to me as I waved from the window and they drove out of sight.  Could it really be that easy?

Sometimes it is.  Most problems have a solution just have to find it.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fall Bucket List

Can you believe it's almost officially Fall?  I will say I'll miss Summer but Fall is such a beautiful time of year and there's so much to do as the weather cools down.

Here are some ideas for your Fall Bucket List -

1.  Take the family on one more hike and/or campout.
2.  Get your yard and garden ready for its winter nap.
3.  Gather leaves and make leaf prints with the kids.
4.  Find the biggest, bestest pumpkin.  Don't carve it yet though!
5.  Go to a Corn Maze.
6.  Pick apples.
7.  Make apple pies.
8.  Plan and make Halloween costumes.
9.  Start preparing your home for the holidays.
10. Take family pictures for Christmas cards.
11. Harvest and preserve fruits and veggies.
12. Winterize your home.
13. Rake leaves and play in the piles.
14. Make a bonfire and roast marshmallows.
15. Go on a picnic.
16. Take the family to a football game.

I love this picture even though it didn't scan very well.  :)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thrifty Thursday - Dollar Stores

Almost every community has at least one dollar store.  Bright and clean, they attract money-conscious people with the allure of bargain goods for only one dollar.  Are they really such a bargain?  It depends.  Some things are definitely worth buying while other items are iffy and others are a definite no. 

The best buys - 

Party supplies - Decorations, balloons, invitations, table settings - Hard to find a better price elsewhere!
Gift wrapping supplies - Gift bags, wrapping paper, tissue,'s all there.
Kids socks - That's right, socks!  Kids go through socks so quickly, it doesn't really matter that the quality isn't the best.  They have lots of fun colors and patterns.  Kids love them!
Disposable baking pans.  If you ever have to take food to a potluck or to a friends house, these are great!
Organizing containers - Caddies, bins and buckets...useful but can be flimsy.  I wouldn't suggest using dollar store containers for kids stuff.  They are easily broken.
Storage containers - same as the organizing containers above.  Great for light use (kitchen, pantry, crafts etc.) Wouldn't use them for kids stuff.
Books, coloring books, activity books - Not a great selection of books but occasionally you can find something useful.  Lots of coloring books, kids books and activity books for trips and rainy days.
Seasonal supplies - A great place to buy stuff for holidays!

The things that aren't such a great buy at dollar stores include -

1. Toys.  Usually of poor quality and broken easily.   Use caution.
2. Medications and vitamins.   Too many unknowns about quality.
3. Most food - Deceptive packaging, possible expired product, some products made in countries not regulated by U.S. standards.
4. Back to School supplies - Can usually be bought cheaper during sales at stores like Walmart and Target.  Quality of items like crayons and paint pretty bad at dollar stores.
5. Batteries and electronics.  Poor quality.

As with all shopping, it's good to compare not only price but quality of the goods.  Sometimes, spending a little more will get an item that lasts longer.  Some things it doesn't matter.  It's all up to you.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tidy Tuesday - Who's job is it to clean, anyway?

I think it's a well known fact that a mom can do a better and quicker job at cleaning a house than her children.  And yet, she prods, fights, and nags her kids to help clean up after themselves and contribute to the workload.  If she really wanted something done, she'd do it herself or hire a housekeeper to do it.  But, the purpose of having kids help around the house is not for her.  No way.  It's for them.

Habits are formed over time and learning new skills takes time too.  Children need this education.  They need to know that Mom is a person, not their personal slave.  They need to know that it takes work to run a home and they can either make that work easier or harder, based on their cooperation or carelessness.  Even young children can contribute.

It might seem easier to do all the housework yourself (and it IS in the short run) but you're doing your children no favors in the long run.   The day will come when they have to take care of their own belongings and living space and they will be so much better off if they are prepared for it.

She's learning early!

 It's still nice to dream about a housekeeper though  :)

Monday, September 10, 2012


Would you believe that Christmas is only a little over three months away?  I know, I just made your day, right?  Bear with me...if you do a little planning and preparation over the next couple of months, you will actually be able to enjoy the festivities of December.

In my family, we treat gift giving for Christmas and birthday's differently.  Birthday's are personal and individual so gifts are chosen with the specific birthday person in mind.  Christmases are family affairs so we focus on family gifts...something the whole family enjoys or benefits from.  I usually come up with a theme each year to keep me focused.

Here are a few ideas for themed gifts -
1.  A bookish Christmas.  This years theme.   Everyone is getting books.
2.  The Night Before Christmas.  Everyone gets jammies, slippers, pillows etc.
3.  A Homemade Christmas.  Everything is homemade.
4.  Snowed in.  Gifts are emergency supplies, candles, blankets etc.
5.  Skipping Christmas.  Get away to a cabin in the mountains or beach as Christmas gift.
6.  There's no Monopoly on Life.  Games of all sorts for everyone.
7.  Fun all year long.  Annual passes to museums, gyms, zoos etc.
8.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  Focus is on giving service throughout the season.
9.  Roughing it.  Camping theme - tents, sleeping bags, flash lights, other equipment.
10. Christmas around the World - Pick a country and base food and gifts on that particular culture.

These are just a few ideas.  I'd love to hear some other ideas.  If you have any, please share them!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

So you've had a bad day...

It happens to all of us.  Nothing goes right.  Everything goes wrong.  What's a mom to do?

Well, acknowledge the fact that you are having a bad day.  The earlier you realize that you aren't handling things very well, the sooner you can deal with it.

Do your husband and kids a favor and tell them straight out that you are having a bad day.  With luck, they'll get the message and be careful about what they say or do.  Maybe they'll even try to help a little.

Don't make any decisions until you're in a better mood.   That means no nasty emails, no irate phone calls.  When you're having a bad day, it's hard to see things clearly. 

Do as little as possible.  That's right.  Take care of the necessities but put off the rest of your obligations.  Most things can wait a day.  This is not the time to start something new.

Indulge yourself with something that makes you feel good.  This could be curling up with a good book, taking a warm bath, watching an uplifting movie (no depressing ones though!) or eating a handful of chocolate chips  :)

Get a good nights sleep.  I know, lack of sleep is one of the main reasons we get cranky but do your best.  If you have a baby or sick child, there's not much you can do but most of the time we have some control over when to go to bed. 

Our kids need us, our husbands need us, and we need us to be our best.   Hopefully, if we can acknowledge our bad day and don't do anything to make it worse,  we can put our bad day behind us and face the new day with hope and gratefulness for the blessings we do have.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Excellence vs Perfection

Recently a good friend mentioned being discouraged because no matter how hard she tried, she didn't feel like she was good enough.  I think we all strive for perfection in some way or another and when we don't reach it, we think there's something wrong with us.  So we hold back, which causes us to stop trying which causes us to feel bad about ourselves, etc...

I think perfection should be banned from our vocabulary and replaced with the word EXCELLENCE.  No one is perfect!  While we cannot be perfect in something, we can certainly achieve excellence.  Think of the recent Olympics held this past summer.  I don't recall anyone getting a perfect score in gymnastics yet no one would deny that the winners excelled in their sport, the best in the world.  And how did they attain such excellence?  They set a goal, worked hard, and didn't quit, no matter how many times they failed or how long it took. 

Several years ago, I wanted to learn how to make bread.  I carefully followed the recipe but when I took the loaf out of the oven, it didn't look like I expected.  My husband called it Brick Bread (good thing I love him).   I was frustrated but I really wanted to make an acceptable loaf of bread.  So, that was my goal.  Over the following weeks, I experimented with water temperature, room temperature, oven temperature, timing, ingredients and anything else I could think of that might affect the outcome.  My long-suffering family ate brick bread.  Eventually, I was able to consistently make a decent loaf of bread.  I could have stopped after the first loaf and declared that it was too difficult and that I'm no good at making bread.  But, that wasn't acceptable to me.

No matter how big or small the task is that you want to achieve, the steps are the same.  Make a realistic goal, work hard, don't quit.  It's that easy and that hard.  Don't try for perfection, strive for excellence.  Perfection discourages, excellence motivates.   And, don't be so hard on yourself.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

Learning from Harry Potter

Last night my husband turned on the Harry Potter movie, The Order of the Phoenix and I couldn't help watching it too :)  Of all the villains in all the Harry Potter movies, the scariest one (to me) is Professor Umbridge.  She is positively sickeningly sweet on the outside and pure evil on the inside.  Her form of "punishment" is to torture the students, for their own good of course.  Yes, she controls the situation and the students learn their lesson...but it's not the lesson she intends.  They learn to both fear and hate her.

Even little angels need an occasional correction  :)
I know the movies and their books are fiction but while watching the movie my mind wandered to the subject of discipline, effective and counterproductive.  Having no discipline produces children who don't know how to follow rules or get along with others and who control their households.  Too harsh discipline produces children who comply outwardly but harbor resentments, yearn for the opportunity to rebel, or become cowardly and fearful.  Neither is healthy for well-adjusted children.

The best form of discipline comes from the mom who remembers what discipline is all about...which is training and teaching her children to behave in an appropriate manner.  The mom acts on the situation; she doesn't react.

So, whether it's a time-out, a withholding of privileges, or whatever seems appropriate for the misbehavior, if you respond in a firm yet gentle manner, your child is more likely to get the message you want him or her to receive. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thrifty Thursday - Know your options

Several years ago while my husband and I were still going to school, we bought a small, older home.  Built in 1919, it was...quirky.  I learned how to live with its idiosyncrasies, mainly because we didn't have money to fix anything.  One of the things that was particularly annoying was the oven...only the broiler worked.  Try making bread or cookies or cakes with a broiler  :)  I did.

After a few years, we needed to relocate so we rented the little house.  The first complaint from the renters was the oven.   No surprise there.  WE could live without a working oven but we couldn't expect OTHERS to live without one.  We told them to call a repair person and give us an estimate to fix it.  Well, the report came back...there was a small piece loose which prevented the oven from baking.  The cost?  $5.00.

I still think of those five years, living without a working oven and I shake my head.  I just assumed that it would cost too much to repair so I didn't even pursue it. 

Explore your options.  Sometimes repairing something is the right thing to do.   Sometimes buying new makes more sense.  Sometimes buying second-hand is the answer.  But don't just sit there doing nothing.  Most of the time there a solution to your problem that works with your budget.  You just have to find it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What's cooking? Wednesday - Pina Colada Cake

Happy Birthday!
Happy Wednesday!  The week is half over!  Today is my daughter's 23rd birthday and even though she's married, she wants me to make her a Pina Colada Cake for her birthday cake.  Who am I to deny such a simple request?  :) So, here it is...

Pina Colada Cake
1 pkg yellow cake mix, prepared as directed on box
1 can sweetened condensed milk *
2 t. coconut extract *
1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple
1 8 oz. container Cool Whip (I used Fat Free)
shredded coconut, optional
* The recipe calls for Cream of Coconut and today I couldn't find it at the grocery store so I substituted sweetened condensed milk and coconut extract.  Either works fine.

Prepared cake as directed and let cool.  Poke holes in cooled cake with fork, chopstick (that's what I used) or end of wooden spoon.  Combine the sweetened condensed milk with extract and pour over cake.  Spoon crushed pineapple over top.  Refrigerate for several hours.  Top with Cool Whip and sprinkle with shredded coconut, if desired.  Sing Happy Birthday and eat!

Poke holes in cake

Pour sweetened condensed milk + coconut extract over cake

Spoon crushed pineapple over top of cake

Top with Cool Whip and shredded coconut (optional)
P.S. Labor Day was special the year this daughter was born...I was in labor that day!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Internet Safety for Moms

If you google "Internet Safety" you get hundreds of sites aimed primarily at children's use of the internet.  While that is extremely important, I think we Moms need to follow a few rules when WE post on social networking sites.  Sometimes we get a little careless...

1. NEVER post extremely personal or identifying information about you or your family (addresses, phone numbers, where your kids go to school, etc).
2. Get permission before posting pictures of other people (especially if they're unflattering pictures!) and ask your friends to do the same.
3. Don't post that you are going to be out of town for an extended period of time.  Wait until you get home and then post all the fun vacation pictures.
4. Don't look up or Friend old boyfriends from high school or college.  EVER.
5. Be courteous when commenting on someone's post.  If you have anything negative or critical to say, do it privately.
6. Don't post anything that you would be ashamed of your mother, employer, or church leader seeing.

Of course, these are only a few of the things we need to remember when we use the internet.  If you think you're a little rusty on safety issues, there is an excellent website put out by the Washington State Attorney General's Office.   Check it out!

Monday, September 3, 2012


There are some things that kids seem oblivious to or just don't care about.  One of those things is hygiene.  Some kids will wear the same clothes day and night if you let them (especially underwear!).  Some kids will go days without bathing or showering.  And teeth?  You'd think they'd notice the furry stuff growing around the edges of their teeth but somehow, they don't.  So, it is up to you, dear mothers to see to it that your children are showered, teeth brushed, and cleanly dressed every day before they go to school, church, preschool, or anywhere in public.  It is such a subtle yet obvious thing that affects how they will be accepted by their peers and treated by adults. 

If you ever sat next to someone who didn't follow basic hygiene rules, you know what I'm talking about.  It's not pleasant.  

Teach your kids very early on the importance of being clean.  Help them learn the techniques of brushing teeth and cleaning all the parts of their bodies.  Be sure that they have clean clothes to wear and don't let them out of the house until they are truly ready to face the public.  No negotiating here!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Kids grow up :)

This evening I was visiting with two of my daughters and one of their good friends and I asked them what I should write about in my blog today.  Michelle (name changed, of course) immediately said she knew exactly what I should talk about...accepting that kids grow up and not bringing up embarrassing stories from their childhood.  She raises a good point.

Sometimes it's easy to forget that your teenagers are growing up and are no longer little children.  They should be given increased responsibility as they show they can handle it.  They need to have opportunities to make their own decisions.  The teenage years are a time of transition not only for them but for you.  Your relationship will change...hopefully for the best as they grow and mature into adults.  You can make a big difference in how hard or easy that transition is.

Along with this, you may have numerous embarrassing and/or blackmail-worthy stories or pictures of your children.  Try not to share them  :)  I know it's hard not to but if you want to maintain a good relationship with your teenager, you won't do it.  Any "interesting" stories are best left to your son or daughter to share with others.  If you feel like telling a story, ask yourself if you'd want that story told if it were about you.

The teenage years are some of the most challenging yet enjoyable years you will have with your children.   They're growing up.  This is good. 

This post is for you, Michelle   :)