Friday, June 28, 2013

The Important Thing About Yelling

We talked a bit last week about yelling and I found this article through facebook called "The Important Thing About Yelling." by Hands Free Mama. It is an interesting and thought provoking article and so worth your time. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Shirt Purses or Man Bags...You Choose

This weeks family fun activity is shirt purses. We had so much fun and they are so simple.

1. Find an old T-shirt that you think would make a dazzling purse.

2. Cut the sleeves off the shirt but leave the seam.

3. Wear the sleeves on your head it's fashionable.

4. Cut out a u-shape at the collar leaving at least 2 inches for each strap. The deeper you cut your u-shape the longer your purse straps will be but don't cut past the middle of the shirt.

5. Now would be the perfect moment to compliment your children on their fabulous cutting skills.

6. Cut 1 inch wide strips at the base of the shirt 6 inches up and mesmerize your two-year-old at the same time.

7. Try on your gypsy shirt.

8. Take the first strip of fabric, seperate the top from the bottom and tie it in a square knot. (Before you seperate the strips you could slide a large bead over them and then tie them in a square knot). Continue all the way down.

9. Revel in your finished product, or add some bling to it using ribbons, beads, glitter glue, etc.... My daughter added a pocket to the inside of the purse.

10. Show the world how sassy you can be and save the neck for a bib or scarf, whatever you want to call it.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A little Love Goes A Long Way

Our friend with their daughter
As a woman in the park began to unload what seemed to me a very vulgar and primitive vocabulary on the parents of a handicapped daughter I wondered what happened to love and tolerance. You see, we were at the splash park this weekend with our good friends whose daughter has a rare form of epilepsy called Druvet syndrome. The extensive nature of her seizures has caused severe brain damage and though she is twelve she functions around two and a half to three years of age. She is a wonderful girl. She is fun and she makes us laugh. My four year old is especially fond of her.

Not understanding social limits and being in the water this girl decided to pull down her pants to be more comfortable. Her dad was right next to her but had turned around for a moment. Two women began screaming at him, to which he quickly turned and remedied the situation. However the women did not stop the tirade.  They persisted in cursing him, threatening to call the police and assuring him that they would call social services. Embarrassed, hurt, and being respectful to the patrons he took his daughter back to the picnic area where she played happily, oblivious to the hate that was behind her.

Their daughter still wanted to play but instead of going back to the splash pad her mother decided it would be better to play on the playground. After about 2 minutes at the playground one of the ladies from the splash pad approached my friend and told her that her children were afraid of her daughter because she had grabbed their hands while playing at the splash pad. My friend apologized and told her what was wrong with her daughter. The woman however didn't seem to care and wanted them to leave the playground so her kids could play without fear. My friend (who had been with her daughter the entire time at the playground) calmly said, "I'm sorry but there are a lot of kids like my daughter and they deserve to play at the playground just as much as your kids." To this the threats from the two women began again and they did call the police.

What began as a fun picnic at the park turned into a bit of a nightmare. The police quickly came and quickly left realizing that the girl was handicapped and that her parents were acting responsibly and thoughtfully.

The thing I don't understand was why the women were so brutal. They wanted the handicapped girl to leave because she impeded on their perfect experience at the park. They didn't care about her or the daily and life long struggles of the parents of a handicapped child. They didn't think for a moment what these parents had given up, that they would never see retirement, that they can't go on dates because they can't leave their daughter alone, that they can't afford vacations because the cost of medicine and hospital visits is too great. What happened to love and tolerance? Why didn't those women ask  the parents if their children could meet their daughter and get to know her so they weren't afraid? Why didn't they teach their children that some people are different and that's okay? Why didn't they teach them that instead of shunning someone who doesn't understand that they should help them and defend them and be mature enough to look the other way for a moment?

As parents we have the power to teach principles in our home and in our families that will change the world. We need to teach our children love and tolerance through our examples so that when they leave to school or work or play, our children will be the ones sticking up for others. They will be able to decipher right and wrong and they will know how to handle a simple embarrassing moment at the park. A little understanding and a little love would have changed everything.

I apologize for the missed post. I had it scheduled for yesterday but I hit the save button instead of the publish button. So here is your post. I hope you enjoyed it.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

High Flying Homemade Airplanes

This weeks family fun idea comes from the Petersen family in Florida. They had some left over boxes and and they got creative! They turned them into airplanes. How fun is that?! All you need to do is get a box large enough for you or your kids to step inside of. Cut a whole in the bottom of the box, cut out  two wings or just reshape the flaps of the box. Make handles out of duck tape and tape one on the base of each wing so you can hold up the box and flap the wings. Decorate the box however you would like. You could also use a front flap to make a control panel. You can also make cars instead of airplanes and just add wheels.

Looks like so much fun! Thanks for sharing your idea with us!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Yelling Doesn't Make Things Better

I would be a total liar if I didn't tell you that sometimes I yell. I try really hard not to but it just doesn't always work out. I didn't used to yell much but after I had my fourth kid, my husband was always out of town and I was never feeling well and something snapped. I became a bit of a crazy. I kept trying to maintain the life I had had with three kids and a husband around, but it wasn't happening.

I'm not a quitter. I kept trying to have that perfect life. I kept trying to prove that I could do it plus more, and yelling became my form of control. The only problem was that yelling never worked. The more I yelled the more rebellious my sweet kids became, the less I enjoyed my family and in turn my life, and I began to hate the way I was. As the yelling helped things to become progressively worse, I learned something. Yelling is a lot like complaining. It only makes things worse, never better.

My first step to gaining control was letting things go. If my house wasn't clean some days (that really means every day) I had to let it go. If my grass was too long (like every week) I had to let it go. If we ate grilled cheese for dinner, (like every night) I had to let it go. This however did not always work because after a certain point of letting things go I would snap. So...

My next step was to get  rid of things. This began my less is more phase of life and I am still working at it. It will probably be something I do forever because abundance seems to be an American way of life. Even when I don't buy things they still seem to find their way through my doors. If something is ugly, broken or old I fix it or get rid of it. If I don't have a place in or around my home (meaning no crowded bedrooms, hallways, or closets etc.) I have resolved to throw it out or give it away. Getting rid of things means I have less to worry about and take care of. It has also helped me to become more organized which saves me time and stress.

My third step was to enjoy life. I have a quote in my living room that says, "In all of living have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed not just endured." This one is also a constant work in progress. Whenever I start to get consumed and stressed about what are usually the unimportant parts of life I try to stop and read stories to the kids, go to the park, and have family activities together. I also try to take a bit of time to myself.

Something amazing has begun to happen because of these three changes in my life. I am happier and though I am not perfect, I rarely yell. I feel like myself again, my children are more obedient, and we all enjoy each other much more. I have learned something, when I don't yell everything is better.

Friday, June 14, 2013

My Favorite Part About Family...Kid Style

Today's guest post is from my oldest daughter EllaAnne. She is 9 years old. In her words, she loves reading, times tables, and her mom (I didn't tell her to say that). As her mom, I see her as a gifted student and a creative problem solver. She is very caring and making things just right is very important to her. This is her favorite part about family. (I did not sway her words in any way...this is all Ella)
My favorite part about families is that families are very forgiving. When someone is mean to the other person they are very forgiving and forgive each other. I like how fathers are hard workers and mothers are the caring ones who help children. Also my favorite part about my family is that I'm the oldest. I love that families can be trusted and I like how the kids learn what their parents do. They follow their examples.

One time we got this awesome cat named skitter. She had kittens. Well one day I accidentally left the bathroom door open where we kept the kittens. Jackson my little brother came in and flushed a kitten down the toilet. Then one died because we held it too much. It was very hard to forgive Jackson for flushing the kitten down the toilet but we still did. My parents also forgave us for killing another kitten, the one we held too much. And I like how our family forgave each other.

Thanks Ella. It's fun to get a different perspective!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Chocolate Bannana Bread

I am particularly fond of sweet breads, so today when I saw the three overly ripe bananas sitting on my counter I knew just what my family fun activity should be. I didn't involve all the family today because they were scattered through the neighborhood playing with friends. I just grabbed my daughter and her friend, washed hands, put on aprons, and got to work. It got a little messy but we had fun. The aromas floating through my house right now are heavenly!

I believe this recipe is from my sister's mother-in-law, and it is really and truly delicious! Here is the recipe for you to enjoy!

Chocolate Banana Tea Bread
1/2 c. softened butter
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
2 Tblsp. cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. mashed banana (about 3 medium bananas)
1/2 c. sour cream
1-2 c. chocolate chips (not optional)
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)

Cream butter, add sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. In seperate bowl combine dry ingredients and add to wet mixture. Mix in vanilla, banana, and sour cream. Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips. Grease 2 regular size bread pans and pour mixture into pans. Bake 55 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan.

*You can use different loaf pans. Today we used 1 regular size loaf pan and made 12 cupcakes. The cupcakes bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. The kids always enjoy the cupcakes. It's just more fun! My sister makes four mini loaves or you can make one large loaf. Both cook for 55 minutes at 350 degrees. Sometimes the larger loaf takes a little longer. To make life easier you may want to put some parchment paper in the bottom of your pan before pouring the batter in.

I gave my daughter a cupcake and the first words out of her mouth were, "Is there frosting?" If you want to make it a little sweeter you could easily add frosting and let the kids decorate them. I personally love them just the way they are. Have fun and enjoy!

I wasn't joking about the messy part. You can't see it but they splattered about 1/2 c. of batter all over the kitchen.
We had some new winners in our Geocaching Mania. You can see their pictures by clicking on the geocaching mania tab above.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Change Changes Things

Change changes things. I recently heard a speaker say, "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got."  I am realizing more and more that I have many changes to make. Changes that will improve all aspects of my home, finances, parenting, and marriage. And, I'm realizing more and more that change is hard but very much a part of life.

If you don't have any money and you're sick to pieces of being poor try a new budget, sell something, or look for a better job. If you don't like your home, clean it up, move the furniture around, paint a wall, or fix what's broken. The options are endless. If your parenting style only brings with it resentment, rebellion, or unhappiness, try loving more and demanding less, try being more consistent, or read a book on parenting. (I of course would suggest "Family Ever After.") If your marriage isn't working out try going on more dates, serving your spouse, or turning off the TV.

I'm  personally tired of hitting 5:30pm every day and not have plans for dinner. I think my kids feel the same way. Today I made a month long menu and I'm excited to see how it goes. I'm excited to make my grocery list, and I'm excited to eat yummy food. If change scares you start small. Just making a menu plan has made me happier and I would say that is pretty small.

Change is hard but it often brings with it hope, renewed momentum, and new opportunities. Today is the day to make changes.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Give Something Back

I saw this video in a class I took this last week about kindness and I thought it would be worth your while. It made me think how much the way we treat others affects our own happiness and others happiness in all aspects of life but especially in the family. This video was made by Life Vest Inside.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Planting Season

I love flowers as many of you know and so of course I think planting flowers is a fun family activity that you should all try. I suppose you could plant veggies or herbs if you'd rather. All you need is potting soil, seeds or plants, and containers to put them in. A little Miracle Grow wouldn't hurt either. I think its fun to let the kids do their own seed or flower in a cup but you can easily plant many flowers in one pot, which is what we did.  The kids gathered rocks to put at the bottom of our containers that didn't have drain holes. They also did a great job helping us make a mess with the dirt. The outcome was beautiful.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Something To Be Missed

As we pulled away from my parents home in Virginia the tears came. We had finally made our long awaited trip and it was hard to see it end. Every mile we drove further from my parents home was hard for me. I consoled myself knowing we still had more family to see in Illinois. But far too soon we were driving away from Illinois and the tears began again. Once again I consoled myself in the knowledge that we were simply going to Colorado to see the in-laws. But of course this too came to an end and this time there would be no more stops (aside from the overly frequented gas station restrooms). As the noises hushed around me while I drove I-80 my mind reminisced and of course more tears.

Why was this so hard for me? Though I always miss my extended family, I never sit around my house crying that I'm not with them. Well, I think I just didn't know what I was missing.  Now I do.  I miss Grandma holding Jackson and Grandpa telling "Grandpa stories." Or late night talks with people I love. I miss my mom teaching all of us how to make star shaped snowflakes. I miss telling silly stories and laughing until my cheeks ache over the chubby-wubby club. I miss the kids playing and creating new worlds with their cousins.  I miss sitting around the dinner table to a meal we all helped prepare. I miss watching the rain pour down on moms back porch. I have been reminded of what I am missing.

There is a silver lining to coming home however, its my brother and his family. I think maybe I'll give them a call tomorrow.

I'll leave you with a tidbit from chapter 10 of my book Family Ever After.

"On a recent outing with my husband’s family, we braved the Vedauwoo rocks in Wyoming. There were eleven kids under age twelve, and we all climbed the mountain to the top. It was amazing to me how aunts and uncles stepped in to help, how brothers worked together to pull and push people up the rocks, and how mothers, sisters, and grandparents held little hands that were not always their own children. We were able to hand kids down from person to person in order to get the children safely up or down steeper slopes. Everyone looked out for everyone, and we made it up and down without a single injury. I knew if my child was with any of the other family members they would be safe.

I couldn’t help but compare this to life. This is what extended family is for—they should be a support. They should continually look out for each other and help one another not just because they are asked or because it’s convenient. I can assure you it was not convenient for pregnant Liz to drive across the country to help me or for my other siblings and their spouses to show up at my house with food and take care of my children for days on end. It was not convenient for parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles to share their hard-earned food, money, and time. Just as we were all concerned for the well-being and safety of everyone on that mountain, we, as extended family, should constantly be aware of our loved ones and their well-being and safety. Had we only looked out for our own families while on the mountain, I am quite positive we would have had a far greater struggle, and likely not made it to the top. Nor would it have ended without injury.

Life, like climbing a mountain, is definitely rocky at times. It is hard work and often very tiring. We can’t do it alone. Having loved ones at our side helps us achieve beyond our own capabilities. It helps us discover that we can do things we didn’t believe we could, and it helps us find joy even when it is hard."