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Thursday, November 27, 2014

What's cooking? Wednesday - Better than Pumpkin Pie!

This is a repost from 2012, back by popular demand  :) 
I'm so excited for Fall!  That means I can make this dessert more often!  It's easy (no making pie crust), and makes you feel like you're eating something healthy because it's pumpkin.  :)  If I had to pick a non-chocolate dessert, this would be first on my list!

Better than Pumpkin Pie 

1 pkg. yellow or white cake mix, dry
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 29 oz. can 100% pure pumpkin
1 c. sugar
4 eggs or 1 c. egg replacer
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger
1 t. salt

Mix dry cake mix and melted butter together until crumbly. 
Pat 1/2 of the crumbs on bottom of a greased 9X13 pan.
Mix pumpkin, sugar, eggs, and spices with wire whisk until blended.
Pour over crumbs.
Sprinkle remaining crumbs evenly over top.
Bake in 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned on top.
Let cool.  Serve with whipped topping.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A smile for the day :)

While driving through downtown, I saw this sign in the window of a corner restaurant.  Laughed so hard!  A lady in a car saw me taking the picture, gave me the thumbs up sign and smiled.   Hope it makes you smile too  :)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Social media tips for moms with teens.

Having raised eight teenagers and lived to tell about it, I'd like to share some tips about social media for moms.

1. When your children are old enough for their own Facebook account, make that privilege conditional upon them "friending" you.  As a parent, you need to have some level of control over what your children are doing and who their friends are.
2. Respect your kids and refrain from commenting regularly on their status messages and friend's updates.  No LOL's please!
3. Don't "friend" their friends.  If their friends "friend" you, accept.
4. Don't embarrass them with baby pictures or unflattering pictures without their permission.
5. Teach your kids about social media safety.  No "friending" strangers or even casual acquaintances.  No giving out personal information like phone numbers and addresses in a general post.  If they need to give someone personal information, tell them to message them privately.
6. Along with #5, don't announce vacations, trips and other reasons the family won't be home to the general public either.
7. Save serious discussions for in person.  Facebook isn't the place to "air dirty laundry".

And just for you moms,
8. Don't "friend" old boyfriends.
9. Don't overwhelm your friends with political posts (especially if you are of a different political party).
10. Respect the opinions of others. 
11. Remember, anyone can see what you post online.  Make sure what you post reflects the best of you. 

It's amazing how many teenagers and adults post things that are dangerous, uncomfortable and/or cringe-worthy.  Be wise!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Do you know what your children are being taught?

Our kids are trusting and impressionable!
When you send your children off to school every day, you trust the teacher to teach the basic educational curriculum that will prepare them to reach their future goals.  You expect them to become proficient in math, the sciences, literacy.  You expect them to be treated with fairness and be protected from harm.  You expect that the things they learn won't clash with your values and standards.

Teachers are wonderful people who devote their lives to teaching and training young minds and should be respected for their dedication to their
profession.  Too often though, teachers have little control over the curriculum they are required to present.  They are required to adhere to the dictates given them by school boards and federal mandates.   These may or may not reflect your standards.

Do you know what your children are being taught?  Don't assume you know.  I strongly recommend that you ask permission to check over the textbooks and other material your children are being taught.  Pay attention to laws passed as they concern education.   Know what your children should be mastering at each grade.  Become involved in their schools.  Volunteer.  Ask for parent/teacher conferences if necessary.  Join the PTA and other organizations.  When parents get involved, change can happen.

There are many options for our children's education that weren't available even a few years ago.  Many schools are willing to work with families.  When that isn't a possibility, there are schools, charter schools and/or homeschool, even a combination of some or all of the above. 

I believe that you have the right to see that your children are taught in accordance with the values you hold as a family.  Your children are impressionable and believe the things they are taught in school.  Be a responsible parent and educate yourself.   Know what they are learning!  Stand up for them and the values you hold dear.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Take control of the holidays!

The scariest part of Halloween is that it signals the beginning of the holiday season.  Sure enough, today while shopping, I heard Christmas songs playing in the stores and was bombarded by endless holiday "sales".  It's enough to make me want to run home and put my pillow over my head!  :)  I'm not ready for winter!  I'm not ready for parties and decorating and buying presents. 

But, it does me no good to fight the less than two months it will be the beginning of a new year.  Christmas IS coming.  Thanksgiving IS coming.  I might as well enjoy it.

Instead of dreading the stress of the holidays, let's try something different this year.  Let's take control of our time and plan things around what WE like!  Gather your family around you sometime this week with a calendar and a good attitude.  Discuss what activities, programs, parties and other obligations you ALL want to participate in.  Mark these on your calendar in pen.  Now, in pencil, write down activities that are specific to certain family members (like school holiday activities and office parties) and which are open to negotiation.  Throw in some special traditions (like looking at Christmas light displays and/or caroling).  Now, very important...schedule in some days that are quiet home days!  Consider those as non-negotiable prior commitments!  Those are the days you can watch favorite holiday movies, make cookies, drink hot chocolate and relax. 

Much of the stress of the holidays is self inflicted.  We choose to say "yes" to too many things.  We forget what the holiday season is most and love and gratitude.  We can take control of our time to make time for those closest to us.  So, dig out those Christmas CD's (my favorite is Handel's Messiah!) and start playing them softly in your home.  Light some sweet smelling candles in the evening (maybe cinnamon?). Decorate when YOU want to, regardless of when everyone else is doing it!  Embrace the things that make you happy.

This season, give your family the gift that money can't buy...a happy, calm, relaxed mother and precious holiday memories.  They will love you for it!

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Three Musketeers

My vote for favorite costume this Halloween  :)  My three little nephews are definitely the Three Musketeers!  Their mommy did a fantastic job making their tunics!  With jeans and white shirt underneath, these costumes are both fun, practical and inexpensive!  Way to go!

Happy Halloween everyone!  Have fun and be safe!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Developing a healthy relationship with your parents

Today I read an article from a mom of two young children, telling readers not to take advice from their parents.  I could take issue with the content of the article (it wasn't well supported) but I think the author has deeper issues than she realizes.

Developing a healthy relationship with your parents (especially your mother) can be a tricky endeavor.  Although you are still (and always will be) their child, you are also an adult who has children of your own.  You and your husband establish rules and practices that you both feel is best for your family.  Hopefully, these decisions take into account the successes and challenges of the families you were raised in, as well as things that are uniquely your own.

If your relationship with your parents is solid, you won't dismiss the advice they give but will listen with respect and consideration.  They might have some good ideas.  Hopefully, you are comfortable talking with them, discussing your problems and concerns, and not intimidated by their suggestions.

The problem arises when you haven't developed a healthy adult relationship.  It's understandable if your parents were truly horrible.  In that case, it might be necessary to distance yourself and your family from their toxic influence but that is extremely rare.  In most instances, your parents were loving, although imperfect, people who tried their best.   It's to your advantage to accept them and their efforts.  You are no longer a child and shouldn't react to them as a child.  It's ok to disagree but it's not ok to be rude and insensitive. It's time to put childish insecurities to rest for the sake of your own children and your sanity.

The adult relationship you develop with your parents will have a big impact on your family over the years.  They are the grandparents of your children.  Try to work with them.   This is an opportunity to create a new, healthy relationship with the people who loved YOU as a child, just as you love YOUR children now.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Dressed for Success

Perfectly dressed for learning and play!
Last week I helped my daughter with her volunteer job supervising the running club of the local elementary school.  Children gather twice a week before school to run laps at the park adjoining the school.  Watching the kids led to some interesting observations.

Do Moms see what their kids wear when they walk out the door?  Do they care?  If not, why not?

A six year old little girl was wearing what could only be described as dress-up shoes.  They were shiny red high heeled pumps.  Really?!?  How could they possibly be good for her feet?   How can she participate in active sports or any activities?  I realize the little girl probably loved those shoes but were they appropriate for school?  I think not!

A girl of probably eight or nine was wearing a tight, short dress.  Again, how can she be comfortable or modest in that apparel?  The simple addition of leggings underneath would have made her outfit far more appropriate for school.

Too short, too long, too baggy, too skimpy, too revealing, too ... And this was only elementary school! 

I know you want your kids to be able to choose but teach them what is appropriate.  Don't let them out of the house until you've checked to make sure they are clean, modest and comfortable. 

Sometimes, I wish kids wore uniforms to school.  :)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Making a quilt - Part 2

A couple of months ago, I bought the materials for making two baby quilts.  Summer got in the way of working on them...who wants to spend beautiful sunny days inside bent over a sewing machine?  :)  Now, the weather is cooling down, it's raining and time to get back to the quilts!

I cut the multi-patterned fabric into 6 inch strips and the plain fabric into 2 inch and 4 inch strips. Then I laid a large sheet on the floor and played around with different combinations.  Sewing them together was super easy!

Next it was time to get the batting for inside the quilt.  I settled on a 100% cotton batting.  The backing was laid on the sheet, followed by the batting and then the top.  I pinned the layers together and headed to the sewing machine. Each strip was machine quilted in an easy straight line.  Nothing fancy!

Sewing the layers together.

After all the strips were machine quilted,  I trimmed the layers so they were all even.

Trimming the layers.
 Now the only thing that's left is the binding.  I decided to bind it with the polka dot material but didn't have enough so I had to send away for more.  That's ok.  In the time between the first order of fabric and now, I found out I have another quilt to make so I ordered enough for another quilt and binding for all three!
The front of one and the back of the other.  Maybe I should machine quilt around the caterpillars too?  Hmmmm
  I love the happy, bright colors and warm, cozy feel of the flannel.  Soon they'll be finished!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It's all in the perspective!

Thanks Hubby!
After a fitful night, I didn't want to get up and do anything today.  I was tired.  I was cranky.  Everything could wait, right?  I deserved a day off.  Then that little (annoying) voice in my head reminded me that my husband gets up early every morning, whether he slept well or not.  He goes to work and puts in a full day even if he's tired or cranky.  He makes it possible for me to be a stay-at-home mother by providing for our family's needs and being supportive of me.

That thinking made me feel pretty selfish!  So I don't want to do laundry or dishes or take care of all the little details that are part of being a mom.  That's my job, my profession.  Instead of griping I should be counting my blessings and thanking my husband.

Life is good.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What defines YOUR family?

If someone were to ask you to name four things that define your family right now, what would they be?  In my family they'd be faith, learning, work and music. 
The things you do as a family represent what is important to you.  Some families I know are very involved with their children's sports.  Others are very creative and art plays a big part of their family.  What about your family?  How do you spend YOUR time?
What do you want for your family as your children get older?  When they are grown, what will they remember most about their childhood?
If you don't like the direction your family is heading, you can work on changing it to represent the priorities you feel are best.  Sometimes, we let outside influences and pressures dictate how we spend our precious time with our family.  It is possible to say NO to those commitments that don't reflect our
values or conflict with other, more important obligations.
What defines YOUR family?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

12 Things you should not say to your children

Parenting is a frustrating job.  No doubt about it.  However, no matter how frustrated or mad you get, there are a few things you really shouldn't say to your children, regardless of the situation.  Just off the top of my head are the following phrases that have no place in your vocabulary.

1.  Shut up.
2.  You NEVER ...
3.  You ALWAYS...
3.  Why can't you be more like...
4.  Grow up.
5.  You're just like your father.
6.  ANYONE can do it, why can't you?
7.  When I was YOUR age...
8.  You're stupid.
9.  You're lazy.
10.  You're a bad girl/boy.
11.  #%$*@#  (translated - any swear word)
12.  And we can't forget...When you grow up, I hope you have one just like you. 

You can be a better parent than that!  No name calling.  No belittling.  No comparing.  If you treat your children with respect, they will be more likely to have respect for you.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Be the mom!

Another one of those "Hey lady, be a mom!" moments...

I was sitting at the food court at Costco, eating my slice of pizza and a family sat down at the table across from me.  The dad's attention was completely on his iPhone.  He appeared oblivious to the antics of his boys or his wife.  Two of the boys looked to be about 5 and 7.  The littlest was probably 1 1/2.  Well, the youngest was having fun tormenting his brothers.  Seated between them, he had easy access to kicking, hitting and poking them.   His older brothers were not happy and vocalized it quite audibly.  And then there was the mom...yelling repeatedly at the kids... "Knock it off!", "I'm going to count to 3!",  "How many times do I have to tell you to stop?",  "You're going to get in trouble!", "Stop teasing your brothers!", "You're not going to get dessert!".  Not once did she do anything.  She didn't separate the boys.  She didn't enlist the help of her husband.  She didn't physically restrain the toddler from hitting, etc.  Just a bunch of empty threats.  Sigh.

If you're going to have children, you need to take an active part in raising them!  You can't just sit by and watch them misbehave.  Idle threats don't count as discipline either!  Be proactive.  Be consistent.  Be firm but kind.  Be the mom!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Family Preparedness Month

Did you know there is a National Preparedness Month? Surprise!  It was in September so you missed it!  :)  But you can rest assured, it's not too late to address the subject within your family.  In fact, it's a really good time to not only talk about it but actually do something about it.

Are you prepared?  :)
When we think of preparedness, our minds usually turn to natural hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, fires.  And while those are truly devastating, we are more likely to experience the need for preparedness in lesser, more personal ways.  Things like the birth of a baby, an illness in the family, surgery, job being relocated, an unexpected home emergency...those types of things can disrupt the family routine but most of them can also be prepared for in advance.

Here are a few suggestions -
1. Teach your children how to prepare simple meals from an early age.  Five and six year olds are not too young to learn how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  An eight year old can make oatmeal in a microwave.  A twelve year old can make spaghetti (especially if you use canned spaghetti sauce).  You can assign each child to become the family "expert" in making a particular dish or two so when something unexpected happens, they are able to help take care of the family.
2. Along those lines, when you go shopping, pick up a few cans of soup each time for just-in-case. 
3. Occasionally, when you make a casserole or other one pot meal, make extra and freeze in family-sized portions.  They can not only be helpful for your own family but when a friend is in need, you can share those meals with them.
4. If your husband isn't used to cooking, teach him along with the children.  You aren't the only one in the family who is capable of making meals for everyone. 

Along with the above ideas, you should also be teaching your children (and husband, if necessary!) how to run a household.  Children CAN do dishes, laundry and basic cleaning.  Hopefully, you are doing this already just because it's important for kids to learn how to do them but in an emergency when you aren't available to take care of things, it's comforting to know that your family can carry on.  Not do without you! but get along until you are able to return to normal.

Preparing for personal and family needs is an ongoing process but the peace of mind you feel when you're recovering from childbirth (or can't attend to your family for another reason), knowing that your family knows what to do, is invaluable!  It's all in the preparation.

Let's make October, Family Preparation Month!


Monday, October 6, 2014

Super Power Smoothie

 It's said that you can't judge a book by its cover.  Well, you can't judge a smoothie by its color either  :)

Being the good health conscious mother that I am, I bought a big bag of "power" greens from Costco last week.  The bag was full of kale, chard and spinach.  When I got home, the idea of making a salad out of the greens didn't sound too appealing though so I thought I'd try putting them in a smoothie.  I've done it with spinach with good success so, why not?  And besides, I didn't want to waste a whole bag of "good stuff".

I got out my trusty blender and put two big handfuls of power greens in the container.  Then I added one chopped apple, a handful of frozen pineapple and about a cup of cold water.   I blended it all until super smooth and tried it.  It actually tasted really good!  I can handle healthy greens this way any day!

If I have to eat dark green leafy veggies, I'd rather drink them in a smoothie than have to suffer through chewing them in a salad or cooked or whatever other creative idea someone comes up with. 

If you're brave, give it a try  :)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Magical, Wonderful Books

As technology becomes more and more integrated into our children's schools, traditional bound books are taking a backseat to the educational process.  What a pity!

There's something magical about a book.  Maybe it's the feel.  Maybe it's turning the pages.  Maybe it's the simplicity of it.  Wherever you are, a book can be a comfortable friend.

If your children's schools are heavily into laptops and tablets, make sure to devote time at home to reading to and with your children...with real books!  Your children are never too old to gather together for reading aloud.  They should have easy access to all kinds of books, not just learning books but fun and silly ones too.  Start a tradition (if you don't already) of giving each of your children a book at Christmas and/or addition to other gifts, of course.  Visit the library often.  Have bookshelves full of books in a prominent place at home.  Show by example that books are important to you.

Children who read have better vocabularies, writing skills and critical thinking skills.  Teach a child to love books and you will have created a life-long learner. 

Note - Pictures taken by Melody Frees.  Used with permission.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Today I hid the chocolate chips and all the other "grab a handful" unhealthy snacks in the house.  It doesn't seem to matter how many healthy snacks are available, if chocolate is close, it's picked over anything else.  So why tempt everyone?

Sure, we all need to develop self-control but putting temptation in easy reach only makes it harder.  Replacing healthy snacks for unhealthy ones is great in theory but those healthy snacks have to be as accessible as the bag of chocolate chips or potato chips (and as tasty!).  If I put grapes on the counter, they do get eaten.  If they're in the refrigerator, they'll rot.  Same for other fruits and veggies.

Nuts can be a healthy alternative.  They don't require refrigeration and don't spoil like fresh fruits.  Their problem is that they are so calorie-dense that it's easy to eat waaaaay too many!  When I'm on top of things, I pre-measure 1/4 cup portions and put them in baggies.  If I'm lazier, I put a 1/4 cup measuring cup in the container of nuts as a subtle reminder that that is how much should be eaten.  Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

I'm just as guilty of reaching into the chocolate chip bag as anyone.  In fact, it's because of me that I'm hiding them!  I know where they are but they are nowhere near as accessible as they were.  It's going to take some effort to get them and that is what I want.  Wish me luck!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Child-centric or adult-centric?

Should a family be child-centric or adult-centric?  That's not as easy a question as it might appear.  Children play a very large role in the decisions parents make and consume most of the time of the mother, especially in the early years...ok, whatever age they are!  :)  And yet, if the spouse is ignored, the marriage suffers.  Achieving a balance is as hard as walking a tightrope over a deep canyon during a windstorm!

I would like to suggest that you work on being family-centric...with the needs of the family, individually and collectively, being forefront in all plans and decisions.  Life is not a smooth, even journey from one point to another.  There are detours, highs and lows, challenges and unexpected events that shape what we do each day.
Having a tea party with his daughter  :)

Children's needs are ever-present and cannot be put off.  But, that isn't a bad thing.  Children also bring inconceivable joy and an opportunity to be a little child-like yourself!  Who doesn't like to swing on a swing, run through a puddle, throw snowballs or watch a Disney matinee from time to time?  Children don't have to be a burden or inconvenience!  In fact if they seem to be, then maybe your focus is too adult-centered and quite honestly, selfish.

Tired parents can still find time to connect as a couple and enjoy each other...without the kids.  And, those are the times NOT to focus on the children!  No griping or complaining allowed!  Try to concentrate on your relationship in those few precious hours you have together.

Being a successful family takes work.  But with work comes happy, well-adjusted children and a strong marriage.  So, when you're walking that swaying tightrope, hang on, keep your eye on the final destination....and DON'T LOOK DOWN!

Friday, September 26, 2014

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was in junior high school, we had an assignment to write about how we imagined our lives would be as adults.  That was easy!  I already had it all figured out.  :) I was never going to marry or have children.  I was going to be a librarian and have a cat or two.  My life would be bliss.  :)

Fast forward a few years.  In high school I was sure I was going to be a home economics teacher.  Still wasn't sure about the marriage stuff but it didn't seem quite so abhorrent by that time.  Kids?  Maybe one or two.

Fast forward a few more years (ok, a LOT of years!) and I'm a happy stay-at-home mother of eight wonderful children.  I can't imagine life without them.  Who would have thought?!

Our kids are a blessing!
Sometimes the life we were meant to have is far better than the life we thought we wanted.  Having children was the one of the best things that ever happened to me.  Because of them, I had to learn things like patience, tolerance, self-control, and selflessness.  I learned what unconditional love is all about.  I would do anything for them.

Sure, there are frustrations and challenges but I wouldn't change the life I chose.   What a blessing children are.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A watchful eye and protective presence

Good Mom, walking her daughter to school.
While running an errand early this morning, I noticed a little 6 or 7 year old girl walking to school.  She was alone and still had 4 blocks before getting to the school grounds.  I wished someone was walking with her.  She was too young to be walking alone.  Where was her mother?  Who sent her out the door this morning?

It's easy to become complacent about our children.   "She'll be ok.  It's only 6 blocks."  But who wants to take that chance?

Last week, two children (with whom I am acquainted) were hit by cars in two separate instances.  One survived with a broken knee, cuts and bruises.  The other, a sweet little toddler, died.   Such a tragedy and at least in the case of the toddler, preventable. 

The safety of our children is one of our important responsibilities.  Bad things happen.  And although we can't protect our children from everything, we CAN protect them from many things.  We can see that they get to and from school safely.  We can be watchful as they play.  We can know who their friends (and their families) are.  We can be diligent in using appropriate car restraints.  We can provide a safe environment at home. 

Hindsight is a powerful teacher but it can also be a heartbreaking lesson that no one wants to happen to their precious children.  Take good care of your little ones.  No one or nothing can replace them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Grandma used to say...

This well-known saying has been around for generations and is as appropriate now as it was when my grandmother said it. 

Do you really need it?
Can you live without it?
What would happen if you didn't have it?
Can something else work in its place?

If those questions were asked every time you went to the store or drove by a yard sale or saw an advertisement in the newspaper, would you bring home as many impulse items?  Would your closets be as full of duplicate (or similar) clothes?  Would there be more room in your home?

So much of what we own falls into the "I wanted it" category rather than the "I needed it" category.  There's nothing wrong with buying things we want unless we don't have the money for it or place for it or the money could have been spent more wisely elsewhere.

Bringing back some of our parents and grandparents values isn't such a bad idea.  It worked for them and it can work for us.  Worth a try, anyway!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Yummies from the garden!

Now, this was a fun salad to make and eat!  I went into my garden and brought in several kinds of lettuce, three kinds of tomatoes, cucumbers apples and one lone broccoli floret.  Chopped everything up (except the broccoli), put it in a bowl, added a handful of cashew pieces and some grilled chicken and topped it with the broccoli floret  :)   Served it with a pretzel roll and ate it! 

Fresh veggies from the garden are soooo good!

Monday, September 15, 2014

A different perspective

Each generation can learn from the previous one!
As a child, you watched your parents from the eyes of a child.  Now that you're a parent yourself, you might understand why your parents did the things they did.  That realization might come when you hear yourself sounding just like your mother or doing the same thing your father did.

Your parents were not perfect.  They made mistakes and had their own struggles.  You might not have been a perfect little angel yourself!  :)  But looking back, you can learn from their successes and even their failures.

I'd like to suggest you ask yourself two things.
1. In what ways were your parents successful in raising their children?
2. What don't you want to repeat as you raise your own children?

From my own experience, I can say that my mother was extremely patient and had a calm presence.  If she was stressed out, I didn't notice it (as a child).  She was active and involved in the family and community.  She didn't allow any swearing or crude language.

Less mother was somewhat indifferent to housekeeping.   Maybe because of that, I don't like clutter or messes.  Also, I wish religion had been more important to the family as I was growing up.

Doing this little two question exercise will help you identify traits and behaviors you want to pass on to your children and which things you want to change.  The good things your parents did should be implemented in your own home, while the things that didn't work out so well should be replaced with better methods.

Build on their successes and bury their shortcomings.  Learn from them!


Friday, September 12, 2014

One of those days!

Well, it's been one of those days.  Actually, it's been one of those weeks!  You know what I'm talking about...too much to do, to little time, add a crisis or two, can't sleep.  No matter how well you plan things, it seems like something comes up to ruin all those well-laid plans.

Today started out with me waking up about an hour later than I needed to...husband kindly turned off my alarm before he left for work at 4 am.  So when I woke up, I was already behind.  Not a great way to start the day!  And it didn't get any better.

Instead of freaking out though, I mentally thought about what HAD to be done today and focused on them, in order of importance.  Yes, the dishes needed to be done but they could wait.  Other things couldn't wait.  I finally got to the load of laundry that needed to be done this evening at 9 pm, but it did get done and that's what mattered.

It doesn't do any good to panic about things.  Do what you can, take care of the important stuff and look forward to the moment when you lay your head on your pillow, close your eyes and breathe a sigh of relief that the day is over.

Good night!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Principles and Practices

I've been thinking about principles and practices lately.  Isn't that a blunt way to start a post?  :)

Really though, knowing something and actually doing it are not the same thing...for our kids and for ourselves too.  Most of us recognize that the principles of patience, work, consistency, kindness and discipline are positive traits to have but it's quite another thing to practice some of those traits on a regular basis.  Doing so will make our lives easier and more fulfilling so why is it so hard to put into practice the things we know to be right?

I would say it's mostly habit that holds us back.  We're used to responding and reacting in a familiar way and it takes effort to change...even if it's exchanging a bad habit for a good one.   It's comfortable to leave things as they are.  Change is an unknown and most people aren't excited to delve into the unknown.

If you're having problems implementing good principles into your life as a mom, start out slow.  Take baby steps and work on one thing at a time.  Replace that old familiar (but ineffective) method of doing something and teach your brain to respond in a different manner.  Slow improvements are more likely to last than spectacular bursts of greatness that fizzle out just as quickly.  Remember the story of the Tortoise and the Hare?  Spoiler alert...the Tortoise wins.  :)

Friday, September 5, 2014

A boy bunny and a girl bunny make...

On the front page of my local newspaper, there was an article about a man who is creating a video game for children to "show kids message of love".  Sounds harmless, doesn't it?

Reading further, the motivation gets a little murky.  In the game, "cupid" shoots arrows at bunnies.  When a boy bunny and a girl bunny get hit, a new bunny appears (that's logical).  However, if two boy bunnies or two girl bunnies get hit, a rainbow appears and new bunnies start appearing in different colors.  The object of the game is to get the most rainbows.  Or in other words, to make as many boy/boy and girl/girl couplings.

My objections?  Two boy bunnies or two girl bunnies can't make baby bunnies and teaching little kids that they can, is just plain wrong.  Also, to "win" the game, the player is encouraged to make as many rainbow pairings as possible.  What does this teach young children?

I admit, my perspective comes from a traditional christian background.  Even then, I have taken enough classes in anatomy and biology to know that it takes a girl "bunny" and a boy"bunny" to make a baby "bunny".  I also believe that that configuration is the healthiest for the baby "bunny".  The male species and the female species each contain certain gender-based characteristics which compliment each other in creating a family. 

What is the world coming to?  Sigh...

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Moving with little ones

In my first ten years of marriage, my family moved nine times.  These moves were due to my husband's job as a computer consultant and required moving from one end of the country to the other and places in between.  I learned a few things about moving with children!  :)

When you learn that you and your family are going to be moving, you usually have some time to prepare. However much time you have, don't delay!  You're going to need all the time you have!

First, start the process of paring down your belongings.  This includes furniture, clothes, books, toys, hobby supplies, everything!  Remember that everything you keep, you have to pack and move.  Ask yourself, "Do I really want to move that?"  "Can I replace it in our new area?"  Be ruthless!

While you're at it, start decluttering and organizing the possessions you WANT to keep.  Make sure everything you choose to keep has a home. 

If at all possible, buy a large supply of standard sized moving boxes, packing tape and Sharpie pens.  Boxes can be bought inexpensively at Home Depot and Lowes.  They are worth the cost and when you are through with them, you can knock them flat and store them or sell them on Craig's List to someone else who is moving. 

Tackle a few boxes at a time...starting with things that you or your family won't be using in the near future.  Label well on the top and at least one side of each box.  Color code according to room, using a different colored Sharpie or buying a pack of multi-colored duct tape.  A strip of bright pink tape across the top of a box leaves no confusion where that box is supposed to go.

Also when packing, don't fill large boxes with heavy items...unless you want your husband to get a hernia!  The smaller boxes are made for books and things like your cast iron pots and pans  :)  Save the large boxes for bulky, light things.

Designate a place in the house where packed boxes will be stacked.  As soon as a box is packed, take it to the designated place.  That keeps the rest of the house relatively normal.  :)

Try to do most your packing after the kids go to sleep at night, or during naptime or while they are at school.  The less you disrupt their normal routine, the less stressed they will be.  And because they are less stressed, you will be less stressed.

Obviously, pack the kid's belongings last and make sure they are the first things unloaded at your new house.

This is not the time to take on other projects or to work on fixing your child's new obnoxious habit.  That can wait.  Focus on the moving project.  Tell friends and other people "no" when they ask you to do something.  Don't make unnecessary appointments.

During the actual move, enlist the help of friends and/or family to watch your kids at their house.  It's chaotic enough without having kids underfoot.  Safer too!  If that isn't possible, set them up with movies, games, non-messy snacks and anything else that will entertain them...preferably in a part of the house that is relatively out of the way.  But, don't forget to keep a close eye on them!

Moving is definitely stressful but it's also pretty exciting to move to a new house and new community.  You'll all have an opportunity to make new friends, explore your new area and set up a nice, clean, new (to you) house.  Try to keep a good attitude and things will go much better for everyone!  Repeat the phrase, "This is only temporary, this is only temporary..."  as often as you need to remain sane.  :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ultrasound magic :)

Is it a boy or a girl?!
It's a PUPPY! 

LOVE those early ultrasound pics!  :)

Monday, September 1, 2014

September means...

Finally got the chimney repaired! 
Today is the first day of September and that means fall is fast approaching.  The days are already starting to shorten, there is a crispness in the early morning air, and the first dry leaves are starting to carpet the trail near my home.

There is a sense of urgency to take care of projects while the weather is still warm and dry.  Do you get that feeling also?   Now is the time to get the yard ready for winter.  If you have outdoor painting projects, better get them started!  Gather all the kid toys strewn around the yard, clean them and store them until next spring...same with garden tools, equipment and outdoor furniture.  Harvest the rest of your garden veggies.  Any home repairs that need doing?  Don't put them off!  How are the tires on your car?  If worn, replace them before you realize you have no traction during a rainstorm!  (That happened to me last week during our first big storm of the season...not fun!)

Although we still have a month or so (if we're lucky!), it's much less stressful taking care of these things now instead of waiting until it's cold and nasty out.  Have fun!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Four important school skills

Ready for her first day of school!
Two kids might have the same high IQ and similar home environments but one might excel and another struggle.  Why the difference?  You'd think that being smart was enough to guarantee success but there's more to success than pure intelligence.

The children who have mastered (or are in the process of mastering) the following skills and behaviors are more likely to have a positive experience at school and later as adults.

1. The ability to follow directions and its companion (2.) the ability to listen.  You've been teaching this since your child was a baby.  Just a couple of examples - Giving her chores commensurate with her age helps her learn how to follow directions.  Asking her to repeat what you said if she seems distracted, helps her learn to focus on what you say.  Keep working with her on this skill...she definitely needs it for school!

3. Reasonable self-control.  Ah yes, being able to control himself!  This includes refraining from tantrums, hitting and other physical no-no's; yelling, swearing and other verbal no-no's;  keeping hands and other body parts to himself; not taking things that don't belong to him.  Even some adults haven't mastered self-control yet but it's something your children will greatly benefit from learning, and the sooner the better.

4. Basic organizational skills.  Some kids are naturally neat and tidy and others need LOTS of help!  To succeed at school, your child needs to be able to keep track of assignments and other papers, school supplies and things like jackets and lunch boxes.  Losing these can cause stress and lost time for you, your child and her teacher. 

These are skills that can be taught, starting while your children are young and then expanded upon as they grow.  As you interact with your children every day, you are teaching and reinforcing these important life skills. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Birthday Traditions

My daughter's favorite birthday cake!
Birthdays mean different things to different people.  For kids it's their own personal holiday.  For parents it's a yet another year flying by.  Whatever it means to you, it's still a special day to celebrate.

What are your family birthday traditions?   Ours are both quirky and traditional.  Let me see if I can get most of them...

-The birthday child got to choose what to have for dinner.  Usually, that meant macaroni and cheese.  Sometimes, we'd take him or her out to dinner...again their choice.
-He or she got to choose the birthday dessert, which was not necessarily cake.  Sometimes we've had pie or fruit cobbler or doughnuts or cake.  One daughter always requested that her cake be a wild rainbow of colors (see the picture above).  Whatever the dessert, before blowing out the candles, everyone always said, "Swallow!" so he or she didn't spit on the cake accidently  :)  Ewwwww....
-While eating cake, it was time for the birthday story to be told.  That was my time to relate the events surrounding the pregnancy and birth, with as much drama as possible, while leaving out the gory details. Now that my children are grown, maybe I should give the uncut version  :)
-Then it was movie time...again their choice.  To their credit, the older children rarely complained about sitting through Curious George or Scamper the Penguin. 

Any wonder that I lovingly referred to the birthday child as the birthday tyrant?  So much power in one day can make a child a little demanding!  But, so worth it!  Each birthday is a reminder of their anxiously awaited arrival into our family...truly a celebration!

What are YOUR birthday traditions?


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

You know you're a mom when...

You know you're a mom when you look forward to going to the dentist.  Where else can you lay back in a lounge chair (with heat and massage!) with your eyes closed, listening to soft music, with no distractions during the middle of the day?  Ahhh, peace and quiet for one whole hour!

Monday, August 25, 2014

How to create a book lover :)

If you want your children to love books, you need to make books part of their life.  Surround them with books they can love.  Introduce them to a variety of genres.  Read to them.  

Is it any surprise this little baby grew up to be an avid reader?

Raised on classic Disney...

And classic board books...Love Goodnight Moon!

And books that can be properly "devoured"  :)

Throw in a little geography for balance...
So careful with the pages!
Same little girl, same love of books  :)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Elevator

Shopping with my husband and three young children turned into quite an adventure for our three year old!  We were upstairs in a large department store, heading to the elevator because our youngest was in the stroller.  I was holding our three year old son's hand when suddenly, he let go and started running towards the open elevator.  For such a little guy with short legs, he sure could run fast!  Before I could reach him, he got in the elevator and the door closed shut behind him.  The blood-curdling screams could be heard all over the store as the elevator began its descent to the first floor.  My husband raced to the escalator, in hopes of getting to the elevator downstairs before the door opened but it didn't matter.  His screams were so distinct, that there was no question where he was.  :)  The little guy learned one of those natural consequences that day.  Stay with Mom and Dad!

I'll have to ask him someday if he remembers that experience and if he's still afraid of elevators.  :)

Thursday, August 21, 2014


I was driving around, running errands this morning when my cell phone rang.  Because my state has a law prohibiting cell phone use while driving, I let it ring and continued on.  But my brain started thinking.  I truly understand a law prohibiting texting while driving.  THAT is incredibly dangerous.  But I know of some things that are far more distracting than talking on a cell phone while driving.

Have you ever been hit on the head with a toy by a toddler with very good aim, who is sitting angelically in her car seat in the back seat?
Have you ever driven with your left hand while your right hand is trying to stop a fight between two fighting siblings?
Have you ever been driving innocently along when, all of a sudden, the back door swings open?
Have you ever heard to words, "Mommy, I don't feel good" at the same time you hear retching, throwing up sounds?
Now, THOSE are distracting!!!

Let's face it.  There are more distractions than phones and the number one distraction is the kids you haul around every day.  If there is one place where rules should be clearly in place and firmly enforced, it's in the car.

Make sure your child safety seats are correctly secured in your vehicle and your baby/toddler safely strapped in.
If your baby/toddler has toys, only allow those that have little straps to attach to their seats.
Have a strict NO FIGHTING rule.  Pull over and deal with it when you are at a complete stop.
Have a strict NO TOUCHING rule.  Kids can be very subtle in the way they annoy their siblings.
If you're going on a long drive, consider putting some empty plastic bags under your car seat...just in case one of your little darlings gets car sick.
If your car has child locks on the doors, use them.

Probably the most distracting time I can remember is the time I was driving at a high speed when I felt something on my leg.  I glanced down to find a hornet casually crawling up my leg.  I stayed focused on driving while I smacked that hornet and smashed him dead all over my leg.  Ugh!   Even in such circumstances, you can't lose control.  Some people have died from accidents where a bee flew in the window.  It's not worth it.  Concentrate on driving, no matter what!  Whether it's children or insects or anything else, getting to your destination safely is the number one priority.  Teaching your children to behave properly in a car is one less distraction you have to worry about...hopefully!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Small and simple things

When you get overwhelmed with all you have to do and how great your responsibility as a mother is, remember this quote.  You don't have to perform great miracles.  You don't have to be Supermom.  You only have to consistently do the little things that some day will add up to become big things.  Love your kids.  Teach them basic principles of honesty, obedience and virtue.  Work beside them.  Discipline when necessary.  Set a good example for them.  Be patient.  Simple doesn't necessarily mean easy but remember that your efforts will pay off with children who love you back and appreciate you for never giving up on them.  Give it time.

Note - This quote is actually a paraphrase of a verse from the Book of Mormon which reads, "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass." (Alma 36:6)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The lay off

At the beginning of May, my husband was laid off his job.  Although I knew his time of unemployment would be temporary, all of a sudden the future became one big unknown.  I hate that feeling!  My anxiety went into overdrive!

The first thing we did was put ourselves on a spending freeze.  No unnecessary spending.  We carefully went over our budget and reviewed each item to decide if we really wanted to spend our drastically reduced income on it.  Out went the gym membership (we rarely used it anyway!).  A phone call to our insurance agent lowered our monthly premium.  Turns out, we'd been overpaying for a couple of years due to children no longer on our policy.  A call to our internet provider got us a lower monthly price also.  And so it went.  Nothing was sacred.  Well, except for tithing...and one tenth of nothing isn't very much anyway!

We cut out eating at restaurants.  We stopped recreational shopping.  We were more careful with the groceries we bought...careful not to waste!  We worked on home projects that had been started and not finished.  We spent more time working in the garden and yard.  Our "movie nights" were in our living room, courtesy of Netflix and Redbox.  In short, we simplified our life.

Simple pleasures are the best!
A funny thing has happened since that day in May.  Even though my husband got a new (and better!) job in mid June, I still have no desire to spend money.  That spending freeze was just the thing I needed to put my spending in perspective.  Sometimes we need a crisis to wake us up and help us remember our priorities and goals.  Money is a wonderful resource and everyone needs it to live but often we get careless and use that resource unwisely.  I do not take it for granted any more.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Normal vs average

Precocious little one!
As a mom, you want to be reassured that your child is developing "normally".  As you look around at children who are the same age, you notice that some reach milestones earlier while others are later.  Is that normal?  What is the difference between "normal" and "average"? 

One of my babies was walking at nine months.  Another didn't walk until he was fifteen months.  One chattered away using clearly distinct words at one year.  Another didn't talk until he was three.  Both of these examples are of normal development.  Neither was average.

Average is a mathematical formula where you take a group of numbers, add them up and divide by the number in the group.  The resulting number is the average.  Normal, however, is not nearly so precise.  It describes something that is typical for a situation, based over a long period of observation.  So, while the average age of a baby walking is 12 months, normal is somewhere between nine months and sixteen months.

You are probably very aware of the charts and apps that describe typical ages for developmental milestones.  Just remember, that they are guidelines, nothing more.  There never seems to be any worry when your child reaches milestones earlier than usual but if not, then the uncertainty creeps in.  Regular check-ups with your child's doctor are ideal for bringing up your concerns about his or her development.  If all appears to be well, don't hurry or pressure your child.   Enjoy her just the way she is. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Unstructured play

Yesterday I was looking at a parenting magazine and was amazed that probably 90% of the content concerned entertaining kids and filling kids lives with mother-created activities and projects.  There was one article about sex and another about sibling rivalry but not much else.  Is this what parenting has become?

Is it in our children's best interests to focus on entertainment?  Who are those cute crafts really for, Mom or the kids?  Sure, they look great but maybe our kids would get more out of making the craft themselves.  Or, maybe they might like to play with different materials without an end product in mind. 

Please don't misunderstand.  There is a place for well-planned out activities and outings.  But they should be the exception, not the rule.  Children need opportunities to create, not just copy or recreate something.  They need unstructured time to play and explore.  When Mom fills up their day with pre-planned activities, classes and excursions, children develop expectations that that's what life is all about.  They get bored easily.  They think they have to be entertained constantly.  Then, Mom gets exasperated and tells them to go out and play.  Funny thing though...they don't know how to play.  Sad.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Making a quilt. Part 1

It's been a long time but I'm going to make a baby quilt.  Not knowing the gender of the baby I'm making the quilt for, I wanted something neutral but not boring.  I looked at our local fabric stores and couldn't find anything that jumped out and said, "Buy me!"  So I went home and got on my trusty computer.  When I saw this fabric (found on, I knew it was what I wanted.  Based on the classic children's book "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle, the flannel fabric is lively and bright, as well as super soft.  Perfect!

Today I washed all the fabric so I won't have problems with shrinkage later.  I washed the solid blue by itself in case the dye bled.  I'm not taking any chances!

Tonight, I'll use my rotary cutter and cutting mat to make strips of varying sizes for the front of the quilt.  The back will be one solid length of fabric, the white with green caterpillars.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A lazy cook

Who says I'm a lazy cook?!?
In a conversation with my husband recently, he casually mentioned that I was a lazy cook.  I immediately and indignantly responded that I was NOT a lazy cook!  While the conversation ended shortly thereafter, in my mind I continued to mull over his words.  Me?  A lazy cook?  How could he say such a thing?  I bake bread from scratch (even grind the wheat for flour).  I make pies, cookies, cakes and brownies from scratch and even make homemade noodles when making chicken noodle soup.  A lazy cook indeed! 

Then my thoughts turned to cooking in general.  I DO like using short cuts.  I like simple food.  If I find a recipe book and it's full of recipes with unfamiliar ingredients, I put it down and walk away.  My style of cooking is basic and healthy.  (Those pies and goodies I make from scratch?  I don't make them very often!)  There are so many other things I'd rather do than spend hours in the kitchen, cooking.  If that makes me a lazy cook, then I'll wear the label proudly.  :) 

Lazy cooks of the world, unite!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What's cooking? Orzo Summer Salad

Orzo is a cute little pasta that, when cooked, looks like long-grained rice.  It makes a great base for a summer salad.  Here, I substituted orzo for the usual penne pasta in an Italian main dish salad.  Try it yourself and see if you like it as much as my family does.

Orzo Summer Salad
1 c. uncooked orzo, cooked as directed on package.  Drain and cool.
1/4 to 1/2 c. bottled Italian dressing (I used Bernstein's Fat Free Cheese & Garlic Italian dressing)
Lots of fresh veggies, chopped in bite sized pieces.  I used two zucchinis, 3 roma tomatoes, 1/2 red pepper, 1/2 head broccoli florets, and 1/2 red onion
2 oz. pepperoni 
1 oz. olives, sliced (I used Kalamata olives)
1 to 2  oz. mozzarella cheese, diced or shredded OR feta cheese
Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

In large bowl, combine the cooled orzo and the veggies.  Mix with the dressing.  Add olives, cheese and pepperoni.  Cool in refrigerator, at least one hour.  Serve with parmesan cheese.  All the ingredients can be adjusted based on personal preference. 

Just one cup makes enough pasta for a large salad

Lots of veggies!  Whatever is in your garden or your family favorites

To cut down on grease, cut pepperoni into bite-sized chunks (or use pre-sliced pepperoni) and arrange on plate, covered with two layers of paper towels.  Cover with another two paper towels and microwave for 40 seconds.

Pepperoni after microwaving has better flavor and less grease!

Finished salad, minus the feta cheese and parmesan.  My husband doesn't like feta!  (I LOVE feta!)