5/27/16

What Makes A Hero?




What makes a hero? As children we hear the firefighters are heroes. People who have served in the armed forces are heroes. And of course, as children we watch and read about many several super heroes. But what makes a person a hero?

It's obviously not having super powers because there is no such thing. No matter how much money we dump into Hollywood, super heroes of that kind do not exist.

I like to think that a hero does something that the majority of people do not want to do. Sometimes it's by choice, such as choosing to be a firefighter. Sometimes it's someone who can maintain a positive attitude as they face horrible news.

A hero is someone who goes above and beyond for the sake of someone else. That may look like making a meal during a difficult time. Or donating an organ. Bringing extra food at lunch to share with someone you know will be hungry. I would run out of space for this post before I run out of examples of how we can be a hero to someone else.

Another characteristic of a hero is humbleness. If you provide for someone in need and shout about it from the rooftops, it just isn't the same as someone who just meets a need because it needs to be met. Both individuals are doing great things by meeting a need. But I would argue that anyone who needs to talk about their contributions would not be considered a hero. They are helping mankind but I wouldn't call them a hero.

In a world that is full of so much ugly and pain, wouldn't it be nice if we all showed up as a hero to someone? We all have gifts, talents and abilities. This world is filled with hurting people. What if we took a minute to notice how blessed we all are. And then take the next minute to think about who in our lives, we could come alongside and help in some way. In any way.

Being a hero shouldn't be our main goal. Loving the people in our world should be. If we all took some time to make someone else's life a little easier, think of what our communities would look like. There would be a lot of people who would benefit from our help. And I would imagine that a lot of people out there would say they know a hero.




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5/25/16

Difference Between Motivation and Anxiety?




What is the difference between motivation and pressure that produces anxiety? This is one of those topics where I don't actually have an answer. I'm really trying to work through this idea. Specifically related to grades.

For the majority of my life, I've been a good student. Almost always on Honor Roll. Although Straight A's was something I never accomplished. But I worked hard. Harder at some subject matters than others but I was never a slacker. And I have a list of accomplishments that I feel can back up these claims.

When it comes to the grades of my kids, I want to know they have honestly done their best...then I'm satisfied. At this point in their educational journeys, both of my kiddos do very well academically. I'm very proud of both their efforts and accomplishments.

I can see in one child that striving for all A's is currently a motivator. I can see in the other child, this same goal is beginning to produce anxiety. I work very hard to assure them both that I am proud of them. And that if a B is your best, that's great! At some point they will both come across a topic that will be a real struggle for them and we will have to tackle how to handle "failure" at that time. Because failure is a part of life. It will be ok, we will learn what we can and move forward from there.

Of course I want my kids to succeed. And I want them to be motivated to do well for themselves. Not for anyone else, for themselves. Isn't it funny how different people react to the same "pressure" in different ways? This is not a new idea but it is what is weighing on my mind today.

As a child myself, I watched my younger sister suffer from anxiety about her grades all the time. I didn't understand it but I saw it was real for her. As an adult, I have personally struggled with many anxieties. Now, I definitely understand that anxiety isn't rational and we can't really control it. I also know I don't want my kiddos to suffer from it.

I want my oldest to continue to be motivated by good grades. To use that motivation to keep working towards more good grades. But how do we keep this desire for good grades from sliding into pressure which causes anxiety? This morning he said to me he hopes he doesn't get a B on his reading test. This was the first time I heard him sound concerned. I asked if he was prepared. He answered, yes. So then I asked him, "if you get a B, what happens? Do you lose your home? Will you die? Will I love you less?" Sounds silly (I know, that escalated quickly) but I don't want him to think a "B" is a terrible thing. Because guess what? A "B" is not a terrible thing.

My youngest already seems to be showing anxiety due to her grades. Not because she does poorly. It's just how she is responding the pressure of getting ready good grades. It makes me sad to see this in her. Because anxiety for any reason, sucks! And she is a great student. She doesn't need to be anxious or fearful. I tell her all the time, I want an honest answer...."did you do your best?" She knows if she can say "yes", I am proud of her because I tell her.

Both of my kids are great students. I keep saying this...because it is true. Yet I struggle with talking about grades. I never want them to think it is a competition between each other. It will never be that. Yes, grades are important. But they aren't THAT important. Not in the big picture. Learning how to learn is important. Learning how to overcome struggle is important (as well as a confidence builder). Learning to be "the best" is not that important to me. Am I wrong for not verbalizing they should always be the best? I don't think so.

I find it very interesting that these two live in the same (two) home(s) with the same two parents. And at this point, they respond very differently to this type of pressure. How do you keep this pressure as a motivator and not a source of pressure. Can you share any ideas that will help me guide both of my kiddos? If you have any suggestions, please post them below. I appreciate it.


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5/24/16

How I Feel Connected




I've mentioned before, I am divorced. I've also shared that I have two kiddos. Their dad and I have 50/50 custody. Which means 50% of the time, I'm a typical mom. The other 50% of the time, there is a big whole inside.

I have adjusted to this life of Mom On Duty/Mom Off Duty. And I'm not going to lie, it is nice having a set schedule that I don't have to find childcare to do what I want to do. But that little luxury was definitely not the motive and it comes with a big price.

It is really hard being a way from the kids for a week at a time. Originally, the lawyers suggested this 2 days on, three days off schedule which equaled 7 days out of every 14. Did you follow that? It worked but was kind of crazy to keep track of. The first summer we switched to week on/ week off for childcare. Where would I find someone to watch the kids 2 days on, 3 days off? What we found for all four of us was that week on/week off was much better.

The kids had a good sense of where they were sleeping each night. Which alleviated some anxiety for them. It was just easier for all of us. So we decided as a group that this would be our new schedule.

Our schedules ran smoother but it meant that we now go a week without seeing them. And the biggest help for me is FaceTime. I love Apple products because they allow me to iMessage and FaceTime my kiddos.

Each night before they go to bed at their dad's house, they call me on FaceTime. I hear about their day and I see their faces. It brings me comfort and sometimes it makes me a little sad. But overall, I am so thankful for this technology that allows me to feel connected to my kids while they are at their dad's house.

I have other little routines that we've developed to help feel connected even though we have so much time apart. Last week I shared the "I Love You Because" picture frames. It goes without saying that I love having the kids home. But since they can't always be home with me, I love that I live in a time when I can still feel close to my kids while they are away.

If you have to share your kiddos, what are some of the things you do to stay connected with them?

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5/23/16

UGH...I Don't Want To




Don't laugh. It's true. I can do many things. But there is one little job that really annoys me. Which with the exception of once a year, it really is a little job. But I don't like doing it. I think it's a waste of time and money.

What could I possibly feel so strongly about, that I will whine almost every single time I have to do it. I know you are wondering. If you know me well, you may have a guess. The little task that pops up throughout each and every year that I would be happy to never, ever do again.....is wrapping presents. As I stare at my sister's unwrapped birthday gifts across the room (which I've had for over a month!), once again I realize how much I dislike wrapping gifts.

I love to buy gifts for people. The shopping. The process of finding something I really think the recipient will enjoy, I love that part. But wrapping presents? Ugh, please. I will put it off to the last possible moment and then I'll be mad because "what's the point? They are going to tear it off within the next two hours anyway?" If I give you a gift, know that a lot of thought went into what you were given. Also know, if it's wrapped, I was grumpy the during the entire process. I am who I am, and I'm not sorry about this. I have been learning to love myself just as I am, and this is part of the package (package, haha!).

I can certainly admire beautiful gift presentation. There are such creative ways to wrap a gift. I consider myself a pretty creative person, so to be honest, it surprises me how much I dislike wrapping gifts.

The gift bag has made my life much easier. Whoever invented the gift bag was a genius in my book. All the paper everywhere...The tape that sticks to everything, including itself!...The scissors catching paper in the wrong spot...And when you are finally done, you are left with all the loose, odd shaped paper pieces that you never know what to do with....like I said before, UGH!

Gift wrapping is a small task that comes up in life. I'm sure some of you light up at the thought of wrapping presents. That's great for you, any chance we could work out an on call system so you can wrap mine?

So you know the goofy job that makes me grumble. What is a small task that you dislike doing but must be done? Let's share and all have a laugh. It's great we are all made so different so the list should have a variety of jobs we wish someone else would take care of for us. Post in the comment section what that UGH job is for you. Thanks!

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5/20/16

Growing Old Gracefully





I know I'm not old. For me, 39 is a great place to be. I've lived part of my life. I've learned many lessons, good and bad. I'm comfortable with who I am. I'm looking forward to the many experiences I have yet to have. "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be", I love this saying. I look forward to what is ahead in my life.

All that being said, I do not enjoy the aches and pains that accompany each new year. But compared to the pains I've had in the past with my hips, I won't even complain about any current aches and pains. I may not complain, but they exist and are a sign that I am getting older.

Each new day is a gift that I am truly thankful for. Most days I don't feel my age. But I am finding more and more when I look in the mirror, I'm surprised by the amount of gray aka "sparkly" hair I see in my reflection. I know this is coming. It happens to everyone. There's nothing wrong with it. Sparkly hair tends to send some people running to the salon or the local drugstore to buy a box of dye to hide the evidence of time. The younger me thought this would bother me more than it actually does.

I must be weird, for some reason, I don't mind my sparkle. It is sprinkled throughout the crown of my head. And there are thin streaks on the sides of my face. And I kind of like it. I'm not sure why it doesn't bother me. Maybe because these sections of hair really do look shimmery in the sunlight? It really does sparkle. I definitely do not want my skin to look "old" but I don't mind having more and more sparkle in my hair. I guess that is good for me because getting into the cycle of dying your hair adds up quickly and can become very costly.

Maybe some day these streaks will bother me, but for today, I'm comfortable with them. I'm happy for each new day. With each day I laugh...I work hard...I enjoy the company of the people around me....and I may be growing more sparkly hair. I am not judging anyone who chooses to dye their hair, not in any way. There are some really fun ways to color your hair that can be done for a variety of reasons. I simply find it interesting that having more and more gray hair (see, I can say it, gray hair...I call it sparkly hair just because I love sparkly things) and it doesn't bother me at all.

Growing old gracefully looks different on each of us. And the more time we have in our bodies the more challenges we face for sure. I have a feeling I am just beginning to discover those challenges. Is there something that has bothered you more or less than the younger you expected it would? If you would, please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.


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Please Play Along...

                                                     

I just finished reading the book, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.  This was a very long but interesting book.  One thing that I found to be fun was how the author commented on how the "it" question was, "what's on your iPod?"  This question, was followed a few years later by, "what's on your iPad?" .  His point being that what we as consumers put on our iPod/iPad, is very personal.  This information can tell you a lot about a person.

I do not have an iPad.  I do have an iPhone and this device is never far from my reach.  My most used Apps are Blog related, Email, Facebook, my calendar (Cozi is the name and I LOVE this app), and my web browser.  My phone is constantly plugged into some set of speakers throughout the day so I can listen to my music.  In my bathroom while I get ready, in the kitchen while I do just about anything, or in my car as I drive from here to there.  I like to keep my music on shuffle.  Right now the most popular songs for me are from three different artists.  Rob Thomas, Kelly Clarkson and Uncle Kracker.  I have a few hundred songs on my phone but currently, these are the songs I am drawn to and will often skip ahead until I land on one.

So...here is where you get to play along.  What's on YOUR iPod, iPhone or iPad?  Leave a quick comment below and let's have some fun!

5/19/16

Mom Guilt Strikes Again...




It is very hard to juggle working full time and being able a part of your child's educational experience. I'm not talking about supporting the academic goals of school. I'm talking about the social/activities of school. With the end of another school year closing in, I'm struggling with the inability to "do it all".

The last few weeks of every school year races by in a blur. You have sports wrapping up. Church programs coming to an end. And everything school-related being squeezed into these last few weeks. All of which are fun activities. All of which you want to see your kiddo participate in. But how do you do it? Like most people, I work 8-5, Monday to Friday. During the hours that the kiddos are in school.

Yesterday the fifth grade was transported to the middle school for the graduation ceremony for the TEAM Program. This seems to be the modern DARE program from when I was a kid. Led by local police officers. Being taught about the dangers of drugs and how to be safe....in your home, around guns and on the Internet. My son really wanted me to be at this ceremony. He asked me for weeks if I was going. I arranged to take a long lunch (at 10 am) so I could go and watch the closing ceremony for this program. It was very moving. (On a side note, it was a little scary to realize that I no longer control the who, what, where and whys of the choices my kiddos will make.). The problem is that the program went on for a very long time. I had to leave after an hour and a half, and I didn't get to see my son walk across the stage. I left feeling like I was letting him down.

Every year the school takes the kids to a local state park and they have an environmental field day...filled with activities. Today was that day. As I see pictures on Facebook posted by the parents that were able to be there, I get sad. I missed out on this....again. The reality is I could request PTO. But I rarely do unless it is due to sickness....because I am banking it to take a full week off with the Mini's this summer for vacation. I'm not complaining about PTO. I'm not complaining at all. In fact, I'm thankful to see the pictures. I'm thankful to the moms that tag me in pictures that my kids are in so that I can see them. I'm blessed because I have one friend who always takes pictures of my kiddos and texts them to me throughout whatever event is going on. I've never asked. She just does this. And I am so thankful for it. To have a little snippet of the day. But...I'm also sad because I'm not there.

It is hard to juggle work and being Mom. We can only do the best we can with what we've got. I need to work. I have a good job. I am able to to provide for the kids and I but the tradeoff is I am unable to be at the school functions on any consistent basis. It will be ok. My kids will be ok. I will be ok. I just don't want them to be disappointed, to feel like I've let them down.

I know there are lots of parents in the same situation. This is nothing new and I'm not a special case. How do you do it? How do you ease this guilt that pops up? I'd love to hear your ideas so please share any you may have below.


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5/18/16

I Love You Because....





I've mentioned before I am a Pinterest junkie. It's still true. Pinterest is my Go-To for many things, crafts, recipes, hairstyles, design ideas, etc. One of my all time favorite Pinterest crafts was something I made for each of my kiddos. I made them frames that says "I love you because" and every week when they come back to my house, I have something new written there. The picture above is the one I made for my Girl Mini. It's pink and sparkly!




This is the frame I made for my Boy Mini. His is made with the colors of his favorite ice hockey team...the Caps.

I thought this would be fun to do for the kids and I enjoyed making it happen. What surprised me is how much they look forward to reading my message each week. If I forget to write something new, I hear about it. Which is ok by me, it means that what I say matters to them. And sometimes this Mommy just need a reminder.

I saw this on Pinterest as an idea for a couple. It is a neat idea for a couple as well. But I'm so happy I pulled this together for my kiddos.

This was a very simple project. I bought two picture frames and two pieces of scrapbook paper. I cut the paper to the size of the glass. I put the paper behind the glass, closed the frame. I got a sharpie marker to write on the glass "I love you because". Each week, I take a dry erase marker and fill in the blank. Super easy. Super quick. And super special.

I made these frames as a Valentines gifts for my Littles in 2014! It is more than 2 years later and we love this method of communication. I hope that this is making many memories that my kiddos will remember for many years to come. It is difficult to share my kids, week on, week off. But this is one way I've found to bridge being separated. It makes my Mommy Heart happy to know that my little messages mean so much to my children. It's something so small but helps so much.

Who do you think you could make a similar craft for? What a difference you can make in someone's day.




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5/17/16

Living Life Well





What does Living Life Well mean? I'm sure it means something different for everyone. But for me, what does it mean?

To live well, I think you need to be content. It's really not about having more but being happy with what you have. Having "things" isn't wrong but in my experience, it gets harder to be content when you are always looking for something more, something new or better things.

To live well, I think you need to focus on the relationships in your life. With technology literally at the tips of our fingers, it is so easy to be focused on our devices and not on the people we are with. I am guilty of this and am working to put my phone down more often and make eye contact with the people I'm with. We have no guarantee of tomorrow so we should fill our days with the people we love. Making memories, not staring at our screens.

To live well, I think we need to be thankful for the little things. There is so much to be thankful for every day. It's easy to get overwhelmed by daily life. Sometimes we need to work harder to see those things but the more you recognize the gifts, big and small, the happier you will be.

To live well, you need to laugh. I spent too many years taking life too seriously. There is a time to be serious for sure, but not all of life needs to be so serious. Take the time to do things you enjoy, surrounded by the people who make you laugh.

How to accomplish Living Life Well, will be different for everyone. We are on different journeys and have lived through different experiences. What are some qualities that you feel would make Living Life Well? Leave a comment below and share what you feel should be added to this list. I'd love to hear what you feel Living Life Well means.


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5/16/16

Most Embarrassing Moment As A Parent, So Far




Kids, they are so cute. We love them with our whole hearts, more than we can can express. It's such an amazing experience to see the world through a child's eyes. To celebrate their milestones (are you hearing the happy music is the background?)...and then it happens. That moment when your most prized possession does/says something that makes you want to crawl into a hole and disappear. Let me tell you about my most embarrassing Mommy Moment.

My kiddos were in preschool. So we are going back a few years. The fact that I can recall this experience so clearly just reinforces the depth of my mortification. Please note, I am not judging any parent with this post. This was simply something I felt was right for my kiddos at the time.

Here it goes....so when my Mini's were in preschool, it was very common for their classmates to come to school with a Lunchable as their meal. Just in case you don't know, a Lunchable is a packaged meal you buy at the grocery store. Personally, they have always grossed me out. Fake meat, loaded with sugar, etc. I can appreciate the convenience, but they were not for me. Anyway....my kiddos would beg me to buy Lunchables but it was so very rare I ever gave in. So one time, I told my whining offspring that "making your lunch is one way I feel I am showing you I love you". Please understand, lunch was not a three course meal, a typical lunch had a sandwich, yogurt, fruit, occasionally chips, etc. I felt this was a better option for my children to eat for lunch.

So the next day, I go to school to pick my precious little ones up and out it came (cue the record scratch here)....my son announces to all the parents that "there were a lot of parents that didn't love their kids today!" Oh boy...nervous laugh, dart my eyes, let's get outta here!

I honestly did not know if I wanted to laugh or cry. I do believe laughter won. But what a moment. One I will probably never forget. And such a lesson about communication! In no way did I ever intend to send the message to my children that parents who send Lunchables to school don't love their children. But that is what my 4 1/2 year old heard. And so did all the parents that afternoon.

Kids are great. Really they are. They teach us so much. They are a source of stress too but luckily we get the laughs to help soothe those sometimes raw nerves.

What is one of your Embarrassing Parenting Moments? I know you've had them. We all do. Leave a comment below to share your story from in the trenches.


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5/13/16

The Lone Sock




No one likes to be nagged. It's true. To be told over and over the same thing, it's annoying and that frustration can build up and lead to an outburst. We don't like it as kids or as grow ups. Being nagged is such a drag.

My kiddos are pretty great. Not perfect but they are pretty respectful, have decent manners and listen fairly well. And at 9 and 11 years old, they are getting better at these things each day.

With all that said, my girlie has a real problem. One I just don't understand. I don't know how one constantly finds themselves in this situation. What could my darling Mini be guilty of on a daily basis? She leaves socks all over the house. I can understand she takes her socks off and walks away (as annoying as it would be to constantly find pairs of socks around the house) but this girl, she leaves a single sock, all over my house. I find one sock everywhere. Just one. And when I say one sock, I don't mean she carries a specific sock with her and leaves it laying around (that would be weird!). No, she will start the day with two socks and at some point she is minus one. Eventually she has bare feet. Do you think those socks will be somewhere together? No.

I can find a sock in the living room. One under the kitchen table. I usually find about 5 or 6 around the floor of her room. There will be socks in her book bag. My favorite is when we were at her last horse show and she took off her barn boots to put on her riding boots. Inside her one barn boot, was two socks. Neither sock was the sock on her foot in the riding boot. Yes, that means that she had a sock on her foot inside a boot with two socks laying in the boot.

Insert Nagging Mom here. So you can imagine why I feel like I'm always nagging. "Pick up your sock". "I saw a sock in the living room". "Go find all your socks and put them in the hamper". No matter how many times I tell this kiddo to put her socks away, she continues to leave a trail of single socks around the house. She doesn't complain when I tell her to pick them up. She just hasn't gotten to the place where she just puts them in the hamper to begin with.

It may sound weird but, I don't really mind the socks. I tell her to pick them up because 1. That's what good mom's do and 2. because one day, it will click and she will begin putting them in the hamper, so she will not be 40 years old leaving her socks all over the house (I hope). The truth is, when I walk into a room and see a sock, I kinda smile. I think, my little girl is growing up so fast. And I know there will be a day when I will miss finding her trail of socks.

You may not have the Trail of Socks at your house but I feel pretty confident that there is something at your house that makes you feel like the Nagging Mom. I don't like the nagging part, I'm sure you don't either. But there is something you have to constantly remind your loved ones to do. I'd love to hear about the one thing you have to "nag" about the most. Please leave a comment below and share the repeat offenses at your house (no names please).


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5/12/16

Feel The Rain On Your Skin...




Feel the rain on your skin, no one else can feel it for you. Only you can let it in.
- lyrics from Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield

Unwritten is an all around great song. But I have always l loved these lines. This song has been out for several years. As I started to become more self aware, of my sadness and the pain that comes with depression, these words really began to ring true for me. I was living in a numb state and these words were pointing to the idea that I have to participate in the emotions of my life. I was missing out on so much life because I was trying to avoid the bad feelings.

All experiences, good and bad are experienced individually. What I hear, see and feel may be completely different than what you experience. In fact, to some degree it will always be different. Because we filter our emotions through the experiences we've already lived through.

It has been raining here in Central PA for days. I'm tired of the damp air. I miss the sunshine. I'm ready for the dreary to move on to another week. But I choose to "feel the rain on my skin". The rain gets old but it serves many purposes. Literally as well as figuratively. The sun will shine again. Here in PA. In life, the sun will always shine again as well. Just like I had to choose to participate in the emotions of my life, I will also choose to wait for the sun to return to its rightful place in the sky. The rain will pass. And when the new growth of Spring is in full force, I'll benefit from all this rain.

Feel the rain on your skin...no one else can do it for you...only you can let it in...

Take a moment today and be mindful of what you are experiencing. Life goes by so quickly. We don't want to miss out on the things that matter. Not because it hurts. Or because we are too busy. Not for any reason. This is our life, today, here, now....enjoy!


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5/10/16

Not Now, I'm Busy





I wonder how many times a day, we say or we hear someone say, "I'm so busy". The truth is, we are busy. Always busy it seems. I'm not sure when this constant on-the-go became a cultural lifestyle but I would say that most people would consider themselves chronically busy.

My schedule is not that different from anyone else. Wake up before the sun and exercise. Work all day. Run kiddos around after work. Rush home to finish homework, prepare for the next day, shower and get tucked into bed.

This week is a little overwhelming to me. My daughter's horse lesson was moved from Tuesday to Monday to accommodate my son's Spring Concert on Tuesday night.

Today is Monday, I have to work late then meet my Mom and the kids at the barn (thanks Mom!). Once we make it home, the Mini's and I will be bagging and labeling 120 baked treats for the Student Council Bake Sale.

As I mentioned above, Tuesday we have a concert to go to. Wednesday, we have a family picnic that the Middle School is hosting for the upcoming sixth graders (sniffle, sniffle, he's off to middle school in a few months).

Thankfully, ice hockey is between seasons, I get a little break! These are all good things. And I certainly don't want to miss out on any of these moments. But how did THIS happen? Always running. So often I feel I only go home to sleep at night. I'm not complaining. I'm really not. But I will admit I get very tired. Physically tired. Mentally tired. Tired of running...

Do you feel you are always running? Sometimes you can step back and cut out some responsibility. Other times you can't. Where are you always off to? How do you keep going when the days are long and the time to recharge is minimal?


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5/9/16

The Gift that Keeps on Giving




Happy Mother's Day to all the mom's out there! I know it's a day late, but I hope you had a great day and I wanted you to know.

I kept asking my mom what she wanted for her special day. Took a while for her to share her wish but once she did, I loved the idea she had. What did she want, you ask? She requested a set of coffee mugs that would make her think of me. This was a fun gift to hunt down. I love that it was personal and sentimental. This girl was ready to shop!

As I started looking, I did not see any sets of mugs that screamed "Dawn". So I took a different approach. I started looking for four different mugs that would remind Mom of the kids and I. I hope her heart wasn't set on matching mugs because that's not what she got. I had so much fun with this gift idea.


Daisies are my favorite flower. So I started with a search of daisies. I found the mug above that says, "Life is Good". Life IS good so this was perfect. First mug down....

My son eats, sleeps and breathes hockey. So I was on a mission to find a hockey mug. We love watching him play. He has been playing for years, on the ice, in the driveway as well as in the kitchen. Second mug bought....

My daughter has ridden horses and competed in horse shows for almost four years. So I found a horse mug in honor of my girlie.....three down, one to go.

I wasn't sure what the fourth mug should represent. My fiancé suggested a Dunkin Donuts mug. This was a perfect idea! DD is my favorite coffee. What better to drink your morning coffee from than a DD coffee mug?

This was a fun gift idea. So simple but meaningful. I enjoyed the process of finding coffee mugs that would remind Mom of us. I hope these mugs bring her early morning smiles for many years to come.

Happy Mother's Day Mom, I love you!



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5/6/16

Who Can Explain This To Me?




I've been divorced for almost 3 years and one thing that drives me crazy is paperwork. Yes, I said paperwork. Not because it seems endless. Not because I never have a pen handy. The reason paperwork makes me crazy is because of a certain box. It's not even a free text field, it's a tiny box that is waiting for me to place a check mark or an X.

Which box you ask? The one where I have to indicate I am Divorced. With the exception of the first year of filing taxes, where there is a chance I was married during a portion of that year, why does anyone business or organization need to know if I am divorced? Single applies to me as well.

If someone knows the answer to this question, please let me know. For the most part, I am a rule follower so if Divorced is an option, I feel obligated to select it. But it makes me feel like I'm branded. Like I should walk around with a big "D" on my shoulder. Why is it necessary to know if I am divorced? I just do not understand.

I am serious about this question. What is the purpose? Do I have to select Divorced? With the paperwork police hunt me down if I don't? If you are divorced, what have you done? I really would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. I'm looking for an answer.

Thanks for reading Java Talk today!


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5/5/16

Generic VS Name Brand




Now that I live on a budget, I have to be more selective about what goes in the cart. Sometimes I feel bad because my kids pack their lunch with generic snacks but for the most part, I grab the generic and cross the item off my list. I'd much rather have my money stretch farther than worry about what name is on the package.

BUT, I have learned that not all generics are equal. Or more accurately, I'm not willing to buy the generic of certain things.

For example, ketchup. I don't know why but I will not buy generic ketchup. I'm a Heinz ketchup girl and that's all I will buy. I will buy generic mustard but will not buy the store brand ketchup...gross.

Toilet paper. I'm very picky about my TP. I have found a less expensive option that I am perfectly happy with. But it is not a generic brand.

Mouthwash. Ugh. I've tried generic mouthwash and it was disgusting. You don't even swallow mouthwash but it was so bad I refuse to try it again. Anyone need an almost full bottle of horrible mouthwash? Neither do I.

Liquid dishwasher detergent. For the first 2 plus years in my house, I bought the generic. I missed the days of sparkly dishes but assumed it was because my super noisy dishwasher was inferior to my previous machine. A few months ago, I decided to go for broke and buy good old Cascade liquid dishwasher (the orange is my favorite). I was shocked when I emptied the first load of clean dishes....needless to say, I will be buying Cascade from here on out.

I'm not going to tell anyone that my list of Name Brand Must Haves should match their list. This short list is what I have decided will not be substituted for a less expensive option in my house. In fact, I am very interested to see what items my readers feel are Name Brand All The Way...Please leave a comment below listing a few of your Name Brand Must Haves.

Thank you for reading Java Talk!


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5/4/16

Mom's Wise Words for the Mini's




Over the past few years, I've learned a lot about myself as well as life in general. I've been thinking about what "words of wisdom" I would want most to to pass along to my children. Some lessons were easier to learn than others. The following is a list of lessons I came up with.

1. Know what you like. Don't just do what every one else is doing.

2. Learn to compromise. There is an important difference between compromise and giving in.

3. Your thoughts, feelings and ideas matter. They matter because YOU matter. Don't listen to anyone who tries to tell you different.

4. Work hard to reach your goals. Be proud of your efforts but stay humble.

5. While you're working so hard to reach your goals, make sure you have fun along the way. Life is serious enough. Find people and things that make you laugh and enjoy the life you live.

6. Life is hard, know which people are in your corner. I know I'll be there. I also know many others who will be too.

7. Times get tough, but those tough times pass. Take one step then the next, you will get through those tough times.

I'm sure there are many other lessons I could pass along to the Mini's. It's interesting to think we could all write a different list of wisdom to share with others. What words would you share with the people you love? Please leave a comment and share what lessons you would pass along. Have fun with this!


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5/3/16

I'm So Angry




I'm angry. Really angry. A neighbor recently informed me that just two blocks away from where I live, is a known, registered, ankle bracelet wearing, child molester. I cannot even put into words how much this sickens me.

I learned this just when I was beginning to entertain the idea of letting my girlie walk about a half block away (to the street behind mine) to a friends house. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather know then not know. But it angers me that this is now something to worry about. And now my children will not be gaining the normal independence they should be allowed to grow into.

Once again, I have to tell my kids a little more about the evil in their world. Their age appropriate freedoms will be majorly re-evaluated. It's the only way I know how to react to this information.

I don't know this man's story and honestly I could care less. I'm furious that he lives in my neighborhood. The Meghan's Law website can be somewhat informative but it only tells you so much. I'm glad its available but why are these disgusting people allowed to move into neighborhoods with children? I've done my research before, unless it is a violent sexual crime, the only people who are required to know when a sex offender moves in, are the state police and if they move within a few miles of a school (there are 4 schools within minutes of my house), then the superintendent needs to know. That's it. That's ridiculous. This man could be walking in front of my home. He could approach my kids at any time.

Finding the balance of letting my kids grow up and being always ready to protect them is hard. For me personally, giving up control of who my kiddos play with and where they hang out is already hard. Now I feel like the slight level of comfort I've found in this process has been ripped away from me. Did I mention I'm angry?

How do I as a parent learn about the disgusting reality of this "neighbor" and still let my kids grow into their freedom...and still protect them? I'd love to hear any suggestions you may have. If you have any ideas, please post them below.


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5/2/16

Why Do I Blog?





Some of you know I started Java Talk several years ago. It was a hobby of mine and I enjoyed it very much. The truth is, I started it on a complete whim. My ex-husband and I had just driven our two preschool aged children from Central Pa to Cleveland, OH because my then MIL was having major heart surgery at Cleveland Clinic. I remember waiting for hours in the family waiting room and thinking about how I felt guilty that for the entire car ride, my kiddos had been plugged into a DVD player. Which led to the memories of many family trips where we looked at the changing scenery, rest stops and little magic marker booklets we bought from a Shoney's somewhere along the way. I remember being in the waiting room feeling guilty my kids watched movies the entire trip, for my sanity. And wondered how parents managed before electronics in the car were a thing. As I struggled with these thoughts and feelings, my first Java Talk post was born.

I mentioned above that Java Talk started as a hobby I enjoyed. Somewhere along the way, my depression started to take over but I was still writing. This is when I started writing about the struggles I was facing. At this time, there was a bit of a shift and my writing became more of a journal style. I believe this was very helpful in my healing. And I noticed something very interesting (to me at least), the number of people who read my blog increased tremendously once I started writing about my daily struggles with depression. This helped me to see that I was not alone. Other people were identifying with my experiences. Not only was this helping me, but I was beginning to hope that somehow, my struggles were helping someone else.

Then there was silence. The battle got too consuming and Java Talk fell off my radar. This was followed by a few years of trying to recreate my life. Which was all consuming but in a positive way.

Fast forward a bit more and I started stumbling across old Java Talk posts. Time and time again, I would think to myself how much I enjoyed writing Java Talk. After several months of rereading posts, I decided to begin writing again.

Now I write about bigger kid issues and working mom issues. I also try to share positive ideas and draw from the many new experiences I have had and continue to have. I remember very well what being controlled by depression and anxiety felt like, so when something comes mind that I believe may be an encouragement to someone else, I write about that too. I blog to work out ideas and beliefs for myself and I love taking you all along for the ride. When a reader leaves a comment, it makes me feel good to know that I was able to share something that may provide hope or laughter. Life is hard people. And we need as many people in our corner as we can get. If any part of my journey can help someone in any way, I'm happy to share. If we are not friends on Facebook, search for Java Talk and like my page. Please, feel free to share any posts you feel inspired to share. You can do that below each post or from the link on Java Talk's Facebook page (by clicking share).

Thank you so much for your continued support of my blog as well as your encouragement as I keep moving forward in this journey of mine.

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