5/31/11

Something About a Worn Path



Here is something I'm sure most of you don't know about me.  I love paths.  What am I talking about?  I love a picture or painting that draws the viewers attention to a path.  I did not realize this for a long time.  One day I looked around at the artwork we had hanging around our house, and every single picture that was not a photograph (and even a few of those) had a path in the picture. 

I'm sure this says something about my personality although I'm not sure what.  It has to mean something since I am always drawn to these images.  These paths are always well worn and lead to an unknown destination.  It may go around a bend, or lead to a set of stairs.  Or maybe the path just goes straight ahead until it is too far away to see what is at the end. 

These paths can be through a field, on a sand dune, through the woods, at any time of day.  It doesn't seem to matter.  As long as I can't tell where it ends.  Maybe I just like to use my imagination in the moment each time I look at the picture.


I find these images to be peaceful.   Being the type of person I am, I'm not surprised that I am not attached to the idea of Forks in the Road.  Nope, that would represent making decisions to me.  I don't like having to make choices.  Every day things are not too much of a problem, but the picture of two roads brings to mind a major choice.  One where each choice changes the direction you were headed.  Ok, so I think I know why I don't care for art work of trails that lead to a split of any sort, but I'm no closer to understanding why I do love the picture of a trail that seems to never end. 

Do you have any thoughts on my fascination with the path that leads to no where?  Have you noticed a theme in the art that inspires you?  Please post a comment sharing your ideas. Thanks! 

*The images were copied from Google Images.  I searched "paths" and chose a these three pics to get my point across. 

5/30/11

Home Made Sugar Scrub

Okay ladies, most of us like a little pampering. Guys, (if any of you are reading, lol) impress your lady with this thoughtful gift.  Here is a quick recipe you can make with things you have at home.  You get to enjoy the benefits of a sugar scrub without the hefty price tag you pay at retail stores.  This is a basic recipe that you can make for yourself or as a gift for someone else.  I made this in just a few minutes and LOVED it!  I will not buy another scrub again!!!!

You will need:
1/2 C white granulated sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C olive oil
5 or 6 drops of an essential oil (this time I used peppermint  b/c its what I had but next time, I will buy a different oil)

Mix the white and brown sugars thoroughly.  Add olive oil and mix.  Then add your drops of essential oil.  Stir very well.  Store in an airtight container.  You can use a glass container but b/c this is very slippery, you may drop it so plastic may be better.  This does not need to be refrigerated unless you use a recipe that has any dairy product in it.  This recipe doesn't so just leave in the tub or by the sink or where ever you will remember to use it. 

To Use:
Grab a blob (that's the technical term, haha) and spread it all over your hands, feet, elbows, etc.  Rub it in well, then rinse with warm water.  Feel the difference!

I found a recipe for a banana sugar scrub I will be making next.  I'm very excited and can't wait.

5/27/11

Seeing Fear Through a Child's Eyes

A child's fear is so real. Yesterday throughout the early evening hours, some pretty bad storms went through. We were under tornado watch. There was hail, heavy rains, extreme wind and a very ominous looking sky. I had a few intense minutes where I had to remember to stay calm.

My kiddos were really scared. They kept asking questions while we had the news on. My husband and I were getting frustrated at the many questions, often asked repeatedly. Then I would see the fear in their eyes and try to take a minute to explain as best I could.

Eventually, when it got really intense, the kids, dog an I headed to the basement. My husband said he wanted to keep watching and he would be down if things got worse. I didn't agree with this but I wasn't going to argue. If I had it to do over again, I would insist he join us. My kids were clearly stressed that daddy wasn't with us.

Daddy did join us which made things a little better. That was one less thing the Mini's were worried about. We were all together and I was able to take the opportunity to show my kids that when we are scared, we can pray to God. That He can bring us a sense of peace when we are afraid. My son asked if our house would be safe. I told him I didn't know but that we were together and that is what mattered. We could find a new place to live if we needed to.

The funniest moment was when my son was so panicked that he said,"I didn't even get married yet!".  He is only 6.  While I smile at his words I realized he was so afraid this storm was going to be the end for us.

Time went on. The power flickered but we were lucky, we didn't lose it. The storm ended but my the kiddos were still a bit shaken so I let them have a sleepover on the floor of my son's room. Being together seemed to be enough. This morning, there were lots of questions about the storm and any damage. Both kids were concerned about their friends.

While I would have been happy to never have had this experience, I'm glad to see my children's compassion for others. I also realized how fear affects our little ones. I'm also glad we had a happy ending so the next storm shouldn't be an automatic trigger for panic. As grownups we experience all emotions. I think it is easy to forget that our children have those same emotions only they often don't know what to do with those emotions yet. Love those babies and give them extra hugs today. I know I will.

5/26/11

Comfort Foods

Unfortunately, I suffer from chronic pain. It sucks but it is just how it is. As mentioned before, I had worked extremely hard to loose a lot of weight. And for a good four years, I had kept it off. Then it started to slowly creep back. Just a little bit compared to what I has lost but still noticeable. My reason for mentioning this up and down is because today I have had a realization. I have seen a very strong correlation between when I am in pain and a very strong desire to take comfort in food.

Since January,I have lost the weight I had gained. This had me very happy but a bit confused. I hadn't change anything so why now after trying to get my weight back down with no success, did it just fall off?

It was at the end of December that a pain management doctor put me on a medicine to control my chronic pain. Looking back, I really think that is what led to my renewed weight loss. I was not in pain every day which meant I wasn't turning to food to feel better. Of course, while I was eating as a way to calm my pain, I had no idea why I was doing it. Yes, I realized that I had started to slip more and more with my choices of what I was eating. But I still didn't see a connection.  I'm sure I didn't want to see a connection.

I was back in that stage of knowing I wasn't eating right (FYI...if you have to eat it in secret then it probably isn't a good choice for the moment). I knew my clothes didn't fit right. I had even started to buy my clothes a little bigger. I just didn't want to admit why.

So, I started to take the medicine for pain and the weight seemed to fall off. It didn't really. Eventually I realized that I wasn't binging anymore. Why not? The only thing I could come up with was that I wasn't suffering from pain.

I have never seen this connection more clearly than tonight. My hip started hurting this afternoon. I had to be somewhere after dinner. On my way, I kept thinking that I could run by Starbucks and grab a coffee and a scone. I was strong and did not stop. By the time I was ready to leave my first stop to go to my next stop, I hurt so badly. As I pulled away, I thought, I can still stop by Starbucks. I didn't. Then I wondered what I could grab at a McDonalds that wouldn't make my hubby's car smell like fast food. I didn't stop there. My next thought was, "ooh, Dunkin Donuts! They have ice cream!". I kept driving. Meanwhile, I still keep thinking about all these foods that I just had to have. As I got closer to home, there was one more Starbucks so I still had a chance for that scone. I wisely decided not to stop and to go home and take a pain pill so that I could enjoy the rest of my evening with some friends.

It was amazing! By the time I got to our meeting place, enough time had passed that I was no longer hurting. AND...I was no longer obsessed with the idea of eating something unhealthy... right now! I was able to have a terrific night with a great group of ladies. We laughed, talked, and laughed some more. As I was driving home, I saw this strong correlation and  was intrigued. I have no idea why I was able to keep driving passed all those delicious foods that were calling out to me. It was such a strong urge at the time. But I am glad I was able to be in control this time. We all turn to food for the wrong reasons at some point. I'm hoping that now that I have seen how these two things are so closely linked in my life, I can recognize it for what it is a lot earlier and I can make the right choice next time as well.  Seeing this connection makes me feel that I am a little bit wiser and a little bit stronger.

5/25/11

Half Day vs. Full Day

This is a hot topic. As a certified teacher and a mother, I have my own opinions on half day vs. full day kindergarten.  I have one kiddo who is almost a first grader and another one who will be entering the Big K this upcoming school year.  In our area, there are school districts that have changed to full day kindergarten but most are still half day.  Our school district is only half day. 

I have shared my thoughts on this topic with lots of people and have decided that maybe this would be a good topic to create some discussion so its time to write about it.  Personally, I believe that we should have full day kindergarten.  I am okay with high standard for our kiddos.  But I think we are asking the teachers and the kiddos to accomplish too much in a 2 1/2 hour day. 

If you know anything about the school day, you know that just because you are in school, does not mean you get that you get a full day of learning.  It doesn't matter if you are there for half day or the full day.  There are so many distractions. You have specials for the kids to get to.  In our school, K gets 3 days of specials...Music, Gym and Library.  All great experiences but they take away from learning time. 

Then you have to take a break to have snack.  And of course, these kids need to get outside for a few minutes and run off some energy.  I have no problem with either of these activities.  I am just saying, they take away from the time that is given for the teacher to teach our little ones. 

The biggest challenge I feel is the behavior problems.  As a teacher and a mother who helps out in the classroom, there are so many disruptions throughout the day due to poor behavior.  Often there are a few children who take up so much of the teachers time with redirection and consequences that the rest of the class is just sitting around waiting for the instruction to begin again. 

Let me be clear, I do realized these kiddos are only 5 or 6.  Yes, they are still young and need to be kids.  I agree.  My son is learning things in kindergarten that I was not taught until first grade.  He is reading real books and doing real math.  Adding, subtraction and working with money.  What I remember about kindergarten is learning the alphabet, playing, and learning my address. If they are going to keep pushing our children to master more and more then I feel very strongly that we need to provide more time in the day for this to happen. 

If the kiddos had a full school day, there would be ample time to learn, play, practice skills, have snack and  go to Gym/Music/Library.  The behavior problems will still be there but the teacher will not be so hard pressed for time so I don't feel the other students will be missing out on as much instruction.  These interruptions wont be as time costly because there is still more time in the day. 

Okay, I've shared my opinions on this topic.  What do you think about Half Day vs Full Day Kindergarten?  Leave a comment and lets see if we can have a good discussion.

5/22/11

My Grocery Store Transformation

As a busy mom, the last thing I need is another trip to the grocery store. Over the past 6 years I have learned a lot about eating healthy to lose weight and maintain that weight loss. I still marvel that I lost over 70 lbs. and have kept almost every one of those pounds off.  It was hard work and unfortunately, it still is. But living healthy, eating healthy and teaching my children these things are well worth it.

One of the first changes I made was the amount of food I prepared. This was pretty easy at the time because my son was still eating baby food. I made two servings for dinner and when it was gone, it was gone. I also learned to cut back on those yummy carbs. (who knew that half a bag of tator tots wasn't a serving?) I also learned to make myself eat my vegetables. And by make myself, I do mean that I forced myself. The vegetables that I served my hubby and I were of the frozen variety. There is nothing wrong with frozen veggies, just know that you get more nutrition from fresh veggies than frozen. But a frozen veg is better than no veg at all.

The next step was buying more fruit and salad in a bag. The fruit was great but the salad in a bag gets old pretty quick. I was always on the lookout for a new "crunch" or dressing to keep it interesting. I guess some things don't change because I still do this.

Slowly, out of complete boredom with what I was eating and also desiring to find some veggies my son and eventually my daughter would eat, I started shopping for fresh produce. Over the past two or three years we have gotten more adventurous in the produce we try. This has worked out well for me because I have really taken an interest in cooking fresh, healthy meals for my family.
I do not judge the freezer or pantry of anyone else. I just got to the point where I couldn't shake the thought of all the "extra" stuff in my food that enabled it to have such a long shelf life. Once I began cooking with fresh ingredients, there was no going back. The food tastes so much better. It is healthier. It looks prettier. And I feel good knowing that this is my little way to provide for my family.

Back to the grocery store...These days, we do most of our shopping in the produce aisles. We swing back, pick up our deli order. Grab a few canned goods (mostly beans). Grab whatever meat we will need for the week. Any paper products and end up in the dairy/bread aisle. Our trips to the store tend to take less time than they used to. But I do find myself stopping by the Giant once or twice more throughout the week to replenish the produce we've used or grab something we didn't get the first time. It certainly was easier to have a freezer full of frozen food.  It was always there, just take it out and pop it in the nuker.  But adding an extra trip or two to the store is a small price to pay when I feel the benefits for my family and myself are so great.

Have you ever wondered how to cook a specific veggie? Post a comment stating which veggie and I'll post a recipe for you to try.

5/20/11

Must Use Daily



In my opinion, the best stick vacuum I have ever used is the Electrolux ErgoRapido.  I found this super lightweight wonder at the local Target.  And it has changed my daily cleanup for the better. 

As you can see, I have a carpet under my kitchen table.  When that idea was suggested, I thought "no way!  not with two kiddos that are in preschool! I don't want to have to clean that up every day."  Who can blame me for that, right?  Unfortunately, I really liked how it looked, so the carpet went down.  I was resigned to two types of days.  The first day was the one where I pulled out the big heavy vacuum and cleaned up all the leftovers from our meal.  The other day was the one where I just let the pieces that fell to the floor stay on the floor.  Neither option was all that great.  After many, many, MANY months of this cycle, I decided I needed something that could quick clean up under the table.  I had tried a few different types of vacs and they were ok. 

When our last one broke, I found this one and POOF!  What a difference.  I still have to do the work but it is so light and the suction is so great, it is no biggie.  I use it several times a day.  It is fantastic on the carpet under the table.  It is easy to get under the chairs and legs of the table.  I use it on my wood floors that are throughout the first floor.  I am also able to use it on the carpet runner that goes down the staircase. 

Not only is this a fantastic stick vacuum.  It also comes apart very easily and can be used as a hand held vac.  To empty the dirt, crumbs, dust and hair is amazingly easy.  And I am shocked by how much this little thing sucks up! 

We paid $100. for this vac.   I have had it for several months and I still use it multiple times a day.  It isn't strong enough to do the wall to wall carpet but I do use it when company is coming over if I just need to pick up a few pieces of dirt that was tracked in by the kiddos or the dog.  I really think this is the best money I have ever spent on a cleaning instrument.  My house gets cleaned up quickly so I'm not stuck feeling like Cinderella, missing out on my life so I can keep a clean house.

Do you have a Daily Must Have that you use to clean?

5/19/11

Zumba, the Safe Zone.

I know, I'm writing about Zumba again.  But I cannot stress how much I love this activity.  Last night, as I was dancing the night away, I started to look around the room and again was struck by how Zumba was such an accepting environment.  Which led me to keep thinking about what I like about Zumba and how I think the world could benefit from a Zumba Mindset.  So here goes...

First, there is no age discrimination.  There are girls in their preteens who take the class with their moms.  There are women in their 20s, 30s, 40s and easily 50s in my classes.  I am sure there are even a few ladies that are still "Living La Vida Loca" after the half century mark. 

Second, no one cares what you look like.  We are all there to dance and sweat for the next 60 mins.  Our hair is a mess and thrown up out of the way.  You don't have to have any special outfits or a specific pair of shoes.  One time I saw a woman wearing jeans and I cannot imagine that was very comfortable, but if that is what she wanted to wear, no biggie.

Third, our size does not matter.  In a world where we as women are constantly comparing our bodies to everyone else, this is a great place to be.  There is no reason to feel threatened.  The skinny dance right next to the overweight.  We are all huffing and puffing.  Feeling the music and dance, dance, dancing!  We are all having fun and making lots of noise.  Being in a room filled with lots of women dancing, sweating and hollering seems to make sense at the time :) While we are in the Zumba Room, we are all equals.

Fourth, your ability doesn't matter.  You do not have to pass a test to take the class.  I have never taken a dance class in my life.  I don't even remember having a semester of dance in gym class like I've heard other people share.  The instructors always remind us, to keep moving.  If you can't get a step, it doesn't matter, JUST KEEP MOVING!  No one is there to judge you, score you or compare you to any one else.  This is just for fun, just to be fit, and just to feel good about YOU.

Finally...Have fun. Let loose.  Don't be so uptight.  Forget about the stresses you brought with you.  This is an hour that you get to think only of you, while you are doing something really great for yourself.  Both physically and mentally.  I was sure Zumba was not for me.  I was totally intimidated by the music and styles of dance.  But I am so glad that I finally gave in to my curiosity and went.  It also helped that I had a buddy to go with so we could make fun of ourselves while we were learning.  I highly recommend the buddy system.  It was highly entertaining.  Once you become a regular, you start to see the same faces each class and you form a bond with a very diverse group of women.  Women of different race, age, financial status, and a variety of life stages that I would never have met in any other way. 

Zumba is such a great all around experience and I really do think that you should get out there and try it.  Grab a water bottle, double knot those sneakers, remember when you squat to stick your butt way out, and get ready to party!

5/17/11

This Is My Story

This is my story.  My story may look like your story.  There is comfort in that.  According to the CDC, depression affects 1 out of 10 Americans.  That is a lot of people.  I am 34 today.  It took me at least two years to admit I was suffering from this disorder and that I needed help.  Most of why I decided to get help was for my children.  I was horrified at what my kiddos would remember of me when they grow up, so it was time to get help.  Nothing else had worked, so what did I have to lose? I started my medication over a year ago. And it has changed my life for the good.

My first problem was admitting to myself, much less any one else, that I had a problem.  My life is great.  I have blessing after blessing surrounding me.  What could be so wrong with me when everything around me is so right?  I shouldn't be depressed.  I can't be depressed.  I was so easily irritated.  I would scream at my kids and then I would be in tears as I apologized.  The guilt would haunt me all day long.  It was awful.  That was just one example, I could go on and on.

The first time it was suggested by a doctor that I try some medication for my symptoms, I tried to play it off saying it was hormonal and being on these pills would help even me out those few days before my period. My hubby, who is a pharmacist and very understanding said,
"you don't want to mess with the chemicals of your brain, its only a few days, its fine". There went that excuse...


Another year went by...the more I tried to get myself together, the more I kept falling apart.  Anytime, I would get to the point that I would consider trying medication, I would have a good day and think, "nevermind, I was just in a rough patch.  I'm better today". 

Of course, it seems like every one says they are depressed and on a "happy pill".  So this is so over diagnosed, right?  I was very concerned that there is something wrong with our culture when so many people turn to drugs to be happy and I wasn't going to be that way. 

Finally, a friend said to me, that if I got migraines, I wouldn't think twice about taking medicine to fight that.  She was right.  About the same time, I realized, that life was not supposed to be this hard, day after day.  God did not want me to struggle like this and neither did I.  So with these two thoughts guiding me, I told my husband I was going on the medicine.  I was going to give it a try.  Nothing else had worked so it was time.  He was supportive of me.  I made my appointment. 

I started my medication and after the first three months, I noticed a big change in my anxiety level.  It was strange because I never realized how much I struggled with anxiety.  After an increase in the medicine, I really began to notice a difference in my depression as well. 

I cannot explain why so many people in our culture suffer from depression.  I know how much better I feel when I am on my medication.  I feel like the person I am supposed to be.  Don't get me wrong, I still have bad days, and I'm kind of glad for that.  It means that I am human and that the medicince doesn't change that.  But I function so much better as a wife, mother, and friend.  Thank you for reading my story.

This is a heavy topic.  Please leave a comment if you have anything to share.

5/16/11

Homemade Gifts :)

My daughter graduates from Preschool on Wednesday.  I am sad to say goodbye to both of her teachers.  These are terrific women.  So full of energy and ideas.  They taught my son last year and all summer my little girl was excited to be in their classroom.  And now it is over.   I am going to miss this great team of women.  As a way to say thank you, my daughter and I worked this afternoon to make a homemade gift for each of them. They turned out so cute, I wanted to pass it along.

Milk Bath Cookies
2 C dry milk powder
1 C cornstarch
5 drops of fragrant oil (We used vanilla cupcake and they smell FABULOUS)
2 Tablespoons canola oil
Decorating sugars or candies (optional)

Do Not Eat!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with foil, Set aside.

Mix all ingrediants except decorating sugars/candies in a large mixing bowl.  If mixture is too dry to hold its shape, slowly add 1/2 teaspoon more oil until you get a good molding consistency. (I had to add quite a bit extra)

Pat down dough with hands until 1/4 inch thickness.  Using a cookie cutter, cut out soap cookies and place each on cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with decorating sugars/candies, if using.

Bake for 10 to 12 mins., remove from oven and cool.  Place in a covered container or wrap in cellophane and tie with ribbons.  Soap lasts up to 2 months.

Use 1 to 2 cookies per bath by adding them to running bath water. 

My kiddo and I had a great time making these together.  They were very simple to make and she could be very hands on with this project.  They look so pretty and she is so proud of the work she did.  I wrote a little tag with the directions and attached with a ribbon. 


Recipe from Spa Princess Cookbook by Barbara Beery

5/15/11

Lessons Learned on a Saturday Morning

As I was watching my Little Man play soccer this Saturday, it occured to me that some of the skills we are trying to teach our youngsters are lessons that we as adults should be putting into practice ourselves.  As I was cheering for Team Brazil, I was struck by the thought that this world might be a nicer place if more people took these life skills to heart.

First, we need to celebrate all good plays, no matter who made it.  Its seems in our culture we are so concerned with being the best and having the best that we forget to enjoy being a part of a group.  We have families, friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc.  In these groups, we should spend less time trying to be better, do better, have more and spend more time sharing in the successes of each other.

Along the same lines, don't be a ball hog, give others a chance to play.  As adults, this is more about giving others a chance to participate and even more importantly, to help.  Part of this attempt of being superior is the need to do it on our own.  This is a lonely struggle that does not need to be.  I believe the Lord puts people in our lives to help us in both big and small ways.  This also means that it is our responsibility to help those around us.

Next, it's not enough to kick hard, you need to aim first.  This may sound funny.  But with so many distractions today, it's easy to feel we are running in circles.  Never getting anywhere.  We need a purpose.  We need direction.   If we don't know what we are working towards, how can we know when we have achieved our goal?

Finally, it's not always the score that counts.  The soccer program my son is playing for does not officially keep score.  Next year, he moves up to the next level and making a goal will take on a whole new meaning.  But for this season and the sake of this post, the score does not count.  You may have heard the saying, "its the journey, not the destination".  The good and the bad things of our lives are what shape us to be the people we are.  It is what we do with the ups and downs of our lives that count.  And it is how we handle this life that we will be remembered for long after we are gone.

5/13/11

Is It My Turn Already?

I realize that reading is not a fun activity for everyone. Personally, I did not like to read until I was in eighth grade. My mom couldn't even get me to read comic strips for entertainment. Now, reading is one of my favorite things to do when I get a minute to myself.

I spend a lot of time sitting in waiting rooms. What do most people bring to pass the time while they wait? A book! I really enjoy talking about books that I've read. Often when I am waiting my turn, I strike up a conversation with a fellow "wait-er" about a book that one of us is reading. The fun thing about these conversations is that for a few minutes, I've made a connection with someone I will likely never see again.
A great icebreaker is, "Are you reading _____?" or "I see you are reading _______, I've heard about that.". Simple statements like these usually lead to a sharing of favorite books and authors, etc. The best times are when you discover that you have both read the same book. Then you can talk about the book without giving away any spoilers.

Talking with a fellow reader is like being a part of a club. You have a similar interest in reading books. It doesn't matter if you've read the same books. Most avid readers love to share books they have read and feel others would enjoy. This is a great way to find new books to read.

You may think to yourself that you are just fine playing a game on your phone, texting a friend, flipping through a magazine or reading the book you brought to pass the time. You have no desire to talk to a stranger. There is nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. But for me, assuming I don't have any kiddos with me, I love having 'grown up' talk about this favorite pastime. Usually this chatter gets going and time flies by. Before you know it, one of you has been called to move to the next place of waiting. This brief connection is over. It was fun while it lasted. Not only has my need of social interaction with an adult been met but if I'm lucky, I leave with a few new books in mind to read in the near future.   :)

5/10/11

Okay, play along with me. I'm interested in finding out what job around the house you hate doing. I'm not talking about the job you wish you weren't doing. I'm not talking about the job that you do for no other reason than it must be done. I want to know what job you would never do again if there was a way to make it so.

For me, I don't even have to think about it. In fact it was while doing this very thing that this blog idea came to me. I HATE touching raw meat so I wish I never had to cut another chicken breast in half again. It grosses me out way more than it should. I don't mind eating it but I absolutely mind cutting it prior to being cooked. There are lots of jobs that annoy me because of their never ending repetitiveness, like laundry and the emptying the dishwasher. But I would much rather do these things than touch cold,slimy chicken...yuck!

So let's hear it. What job would you never do again. Leave a quick comment to share. Thanks!

5/9/11

The Art of Looking Away

Being a parent is hard work. It is never-ending work. But think about the purpose of all the work, as parents, we are raising a new generation. Wow! That's big. Too big for today.

Ever have a day where you feel like all you have done is listened to tattling, bickering, and nasty tones coming from your wonderful offspring? Ever want to take that referee jersey that you wear figuratively and burn it? You know you have. I know I have. It is exhausting to keep on top of siblings when they are not "playing nice" like we all envisioned when we thought, "Sure, let's have another kiddo. They can be friends!". I am not giving up hope that at the end of this journey called Childhood, my children will be friends. In fact, I specifically pray this for my children.

Of course, when my Mini's get along, it is sometimes just as stressful. You know, the noise level is just as loud and often someone ends up hurt.  There are definately times when, just to survive the day, hour, even minute, you just have to look away.  There is nothing wrong with that.  But there are a few things we as parents need to keep in mind as we make the choice to "unnotice" what is going on around us.

1. Use the Look Away Method sparingly.  If you never break it up or calm it down, your kiddos may begin to think it is always okay to be so loud that the neighbors know who did what to whom first. 
2. Image is Everything. You may not have eyes in the back of your head but for many years, if done correctly, our children believe we do and this is an excellent way to keep them in line.  If you are consistantly "looking away" then you loose that method of controlling the behavior of your kids ;)
3. Actually Look Away.  Know what is going on but let them work it out.  They have to figure out how to compromise, win/lose, share, and such on their own anyway, right?  So let them practice.  And who better to practice with than a sibling who always be there no matter what?  As long as no one is getting hurt and no obvious rules are being broken, let it go. 

I'm sure there are other things to keep in mind as we referee, I mean, help foster healthy, fun relationships between siblings.  I don't think this part of parenting is every easy or very fun but it is a part of the job description.  Learn the Art of Looking Away and use it.  This is one way we hang on to our sanity throughout the sometimes very long day. 

Any thoughts on Looking Away?  Please share. 

5/8/11

My Feathered Friends












I used to think bird watchers were strange people who wore funny hats and had clocks that ring in each hour with a different bird chirp. Once again I am learning that some ideas I have assumed during my short life are silly and wrong. As my life gets busier I am learning to find peace an joy in many new ways.


One of my new sources of pleasure is my cheap bird feeder that I bought from good old Target. I bought the feeder and some seed, then stuck the Shepard's Hook in one if the flower beds in the back yard. Then...presto! I have a very busy backyard. I had hoped that I would see a few birds from time to time. I have been so surprised and very pleased with the busy bird traffic I get. It seems there is usually one, two, three or even more birds fluttering about. Either eating from the ledge, under the feeder or sitting on the fence while the birdies wait their turn to grab some grub.

I've seen big birds like mourning doves and cardinals. And a variety of little birds. If I'm inside, I can't help but keep checking to see if I have any friends outback. On a nice day I sit outside and just listen to the different chirps and tweets. This feeder is in a great spot because it is far enough away the birds feel safe enough to come. But it's close enough to the patio that you can see the birds who stop by.

One of my Mother's Day gifts was a bird identification book. I love it. I love my kiddos have seen the pleasure "my" birds bring me. And I'm looking forward to figuring out what types of feathered friends are enjoying my backyard. No one needs to worry about me though, I do not own and don't ever see myself owning a chirping clock no matter how much I enjoy birdwatching in my little corner of the world ;)

5/7/11

Did We Win?

I am officially a Soccer Mom. My son is playing on a real soccer team for the first time. It is not much fun being at the field at 9 am on a Saturday morning. But watching the kiddos run around and play is so worth it.

What I don't understand is why at this age (6) they do not keep score. The kids try to keep track. The parents keep track. But officially, there is no score keeping. So far the teams we have played it has been pretty obvious which team is winning (ours. Go team Brazil!). A quick clue has been that the three on three game usually turns into a game of three on four because we are too far ahead. They know we are ahead somehow without keeping score ;) Today we played the first team that was similar in ability. As responsible parents we try to reinforce that it isn't about the score. "Have fun, do your best and don't focus on the score".

But why? I understand that this is a league for learning. I get the emphasis should not be on the final score. But what is the harm in knowing the score? In a game there is always a winning team and a team that looses. Thats life. There should be no shame in that. At the end of the game, the players were all asking their parents if they won. If they want to know, why can't we tell them? Of course this is not the place for smack talk but I don't think keeping score has to lead to negative talk.

I'm curious if other parents feel the same or if you agree with the No Keeping Score policy.

5/6/11

My SuperMom Cape Must Be At the Cleaners

It's official. I'm human. I may not want to admit it but it's true. I realized this as I was driving to pick up my son from kindergarden this morning. I was enjoying the sunshine and music while we (my daughter and I) were on our way to school. When I got a text from my friend and fellow kindergarden mom asking me if I was coming today.

At first I was ready to respond yes. I looked at the clock, I still had 15 mins. to get there, it was only 11:15. Okay, it was 11:18. Anyway...oh yeah! Today was early dismissal and I was to BE there to pick him up at 11:15. This was my moment of enlightenment. I messed up. We remembered today was Pajama Day. My daughter and I left our playdate a little early so we could get to school on time. Ironic, isn't it?

Lucky for me, my son said he wasn't worried. He was mostly concerned about eating lunch. The school secretary wasn't impressed and hardly acknowledged my heartfelt apology. Oh well. I guess someone else gets to wear the SuperMom cape today!

5/4/11

One of Lifes Lessons

On the way home from school, my son hands me a folded up dollar bill and says he found it in gym class.  This was an unexpected discovery so I told him that he should have given it to the teacher.  I thought it was only a dollar so my first thought was he could keep it but I explained that in the future, he should give it to the teacher because someone lost that money.  It may have been their lunch money.  After we got home, he handed it to me and I counted his newly found "treasure".  To my surprise it was actually $4.00.  I think this really is someone's lunch money.  Now I felt guilty for saying he could keep it. 

I remembered one of the Junie B. Jones books I read to the kids.  In this book, Junie finds a pen that doesn't belong to her and she doesn't understand why she has to turn it over to the lost and found.  Soon, she discovers her new gloves are missing and she is devastated (If you know Junie B. then you know she has a tendency to be dramatic).  Then she knows what it is like to be missing something and want to have it back.  I mentioned this story to my son but had already told him he could keep the money so I wasn't going to push anything.  I said that if he wanted we could take it to school and give it to the secretary just in case someone was looking for their money. 

Much to this Proud Momma's pleasure, he said that is what he wanted to do.  It was great.  We went back to the house (at this point we had gone out to run errands) and he grabbed the money.  We went to school and explained how he found the money in the gym.  On our way out, he said he felt much better.  I can't help but smile as I think about how my Little Man made a very good choice.  I told him I was proud of his decision.  I know it would have been nice to spend the money but he did the right thing.  Then we called Daddy and I told him how proud I was of our six year old. 

What Gets You Out Of Bed?

What gets you out of bed in the morning?  Some days are easier than others, I'm sure that is true for you as well.  My motivation to get out of bed on Monday through Friday is simple.  Quiet Time.  I get up each week day one hour before my kiddos are allowed downstairs.  (I trained them very young that they are not allowed to come downstairs until the clock says 7)

My special chair :)
This is my time.  My husband has already gotten up, eaten, read the paper and is already exercising (either in the basement or outside on a run) so I am awake and by myself.  I use this time to quickly see what happened on Facebook while I was sleeping.  I check my blog.  Pour my first cup of coffee.  I eat my breakfast.  Maybe browse through the paper while I'm eating.  And then I land in my special chair.  In this chair, I read.  I enjoy the quiet and I read.  I have a special little book light that I use when it is too dark to read by natural light. 

I do not feed the animals, worry about the Mini's or talk with my hubby.  I enjoy the quiet, read for pleasure and watch for birds eating at my bird feeder.  It is a peaceful way to begin each day.  That first hour ticks away very quickly each morning.  The clock "says 7" and then boom!  Kids want to be fed immediately, one cat has been extremely vocal for the past hour as she has been begging for food.  The dog needs fed and to be given her medicine.  Lunches and snacks need to be packed.  The dishwasher may need unloaded.  Outfits need to be found, teeth brushed and hair done.  Did I mention this is all before we get into the car to start our various dropoffs at 8 am?  You get the picture.  I cherish my quiet time each morning.  The next time I get a moment to myself is after the kiddos are tucked in at night.  I am so blessed with two children to care for and watch grow, a great husband who is a terrific daddy, a home to clean and pets to share our home with.  But this mommy needs her quiet time in order to deal with the demands that I will face each day. 

What gets you out of bed each morning?

5/3/11

Things I Would Do Differently

I don't think I really have regrets and for that I feel very blessed. At 34, I don't look back with regret, but there are a few things I would do differently. The difference may be subtle, but I believe there is a difference.
1. I would be more serious about learning to play the piano. I would spend my time practicing and learning how to read music. I was in 8th and 9th grade when I took lessons. Playing songs about A Bug In A Rug was embarrassing but if I had worked harder when I had the opportunity, I would be able to play a beautiful instrument.

2. I would have had more fun in college. I studied all the time. I worked very hard and took my studies very seriously. I graduated with honors to show for all my efforts. I'm not sorry I worked so hard. I just wish I had given my achievement focused side a break and had more fun. I'm sure there is a good balance put there, I just missed it. Instead I took things too seriously, did well, graduated, subbed in the local schools for a few years and then became a stay at home mom.

3. I wish I had held my babies more. Recently it has struck me how big my Mini's have gotten. My youngest goes to kindergarden this Fall. When they were small, I was so concerned of creating a habit I would then have to break so I made sure I didn't have to hold them all the time. Don't get me wrong. I held them. Loved them. Snuggled and rocked them. But I also put them down. In the swing, bouncy seat and on a blanket on the floor. They were not forgotten or neglected. I talked to them constantly. Looking back I just wish I could hold my babies a few more times. They are growing into great kids. The snuggles and kisses are getting less frequent so I have decided to pay attention to each act of affection.

These are not regrets. Just a few things that I would do differently if given the chance. I guess what I have been learning about myself is that I don't have to take life so seriously. I will always be responsible and I'm learning to have fun too!

5/2/11

Goals

So the instructor for two of the classes I take each week has this list. During class, the regular attendees joke it is her "bucket list". One of the goals she has is a 5 min. plank. So every class we "train" for this goal.

We all think she is crazy. We complain, we tease, we drop to our knees. But there is no doubt that I am getting stronger. I was less than thrilled when I realized that our fearless leader was serious about this 5 mins. of torture. I have moaned and cheated my way through two mins. more times than I care to admit. In class, we are up to a 3 min. plank. I already told you how I get through 2 mins. 3 mins. hasn't been any prettier.

I am so excited to share tonight that a few moments ago, I was inspired to try a 3 min. plank. I put an upbeat song on my iPod and decided to hold throughout the entire song. Now I am celebrating because I did it! 3 mins. and 23 secs.! Now this 5 min. goal has become my own. I cannot wait to get to class tomorrow. I will do it again and I will encourage my fellow classmates to hang in there.

5/1/11

Confessions...

Ok, I did it.  I don't think I've ever done it before, but I did it today.  The hubby and I took the kiddos out to see a movie (it seemed like the perfect thing to do on another rainy day).  Before we left, we decided to air pop our own popcorn and take it with us.  I hang my head in shame.  This is so wrong.  I feel guilty that I even suggested it (yes, I was the one). 


The cost of the movie tickets and snacks alone is a blog topic for another day.  It actually cost over $10. to buy 1 small drink and 1 medium drink.  That is ridiculous.  Like I said, another topic for another day.  My reason for providing my own treats for the movie is the calories.  According to Answers.com, a small movie popcorn with NO butter added, is....570 calories!  And who eats movie popcorn without butter?  Not me.  For some reason, I love my air popped popcorn from home.  About.com says that a serving of air popped popcorn is 3 cups and you can enjoy every last crunch because those three cups will only cost you 93 calories.  At 93 calories, feel free to eat more.  I love air popped popcorn and I do not need to add anything to it. 

So I made my popcorn at home.  Bagged it, and stowed it away in my big purse.  I actually told my kids that we were not really supposed to do this so don't ask for it.  I assured them when the lights went out I would pass it out.  I was just not going to win today.  I would feel guilty if I ate the movie popcorn and I would  feel guilty if I smuggled in my own popcorn.  I know I always have the choice to skip the popcorn but seriously people, what is a movie experience without popcorn?  When are the theaters going to start providing a choice in popcorn that isn't going to consume more than half of my daily calorie intake?

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