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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!