Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Because of Him

Families. Simply said they are struggling. Sickness, disability, bitterness, loneliness, abuse, neglect, poverty, divorce, despair, discouragement, tragedy and fatigue from every day life can often create a sense of hopelessness and a void of happiness. We can write and discuss solutions to these problems forever and still these things will exist. Every family no matter what it's current state struggles at times. There is hope. There is hope for all of us and our families and it is found in our Savior, Jesus Christ. This Easter enjoy this video, Because of Him and let it inspire hope and peace for you and your family.

Rice Krispie Easter eggs

I thought you might also enjoy a sweet Easter activity:

I made these with my girls and it was a hit! Feel free to use your favorite rice crispy recipe but just in case you don't have one you can use mine. (I've been told that if your rice crispy treats are too runny they will not mold as well). The recipe below worked perfectly.

What you need:

  • Large and or small plastic easter eggs
  • 1package jelly beans or chocolate easter eggs
  • 1 10.5 oz pkg. mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cube butter (4 Tbsp)
  • 6 C. Rice Krispies 
  • Cooking Spray
Melt butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add marshmallows, stir continuously until melted. Remove from heat, add Rice Krispies, and stir until mixed.

Open your plastic easter eggs and coat the inside with cooking spray.

Take a chunk of your rice crispy mix and mold it into a half circle. Set a jelly bean or chocolate easter egg in the center and then put another chunk of rice crispy mix on the top. Push it inside your easter egg mold. Close the egg and let it cool. Repeat until all your eggs are full or your rice crispys are gone.

Once cooled open the plastic egg and pull out your sweet treat. Now its time to decorate. We just rolled ours in sprinkles, but you could go crazy with melted chocolate or other fun candies. 

Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Introducing Stressed Out!

Working cover...Look closely, my name is there.

Dr. B. on channel 5 News
Dr. Ben Bernstein

I am so excited to introduce Stressed Out! For Parents: How to be Calm, Confident, and Focused. This is the title and cover of my new book. It is going to be released this Fall (2014)! I have been working along side Dr. Ben Bernstein, author of A Teens Guide to Success, and Test Success, Doctor of Psychology and well known performance coach. He has worked with children and parents for over  forty years. Together Ben and I have compiled all of his greatest stress relieving techniques in an effort to relieve parental stress and improve happiness and satisfaction in family life.

The idea is that every person has an optimal window of stress where they
perform at their best. Too much stress and you will not perform well. Too little stress and you will
also not perform well--As a parent I've never had the problem of too little stress but I suppose it could happen. When we as parents are calm in body, confident in mind, and focused in spirit, we will find that optimal window of success that Dr. Bernstein teaches us about.

What is my role in this fantastic book? I write the stories, I re-write the model from a parenting perspective, and I consult with Dr. Bernstein weekly and sometimes daily to make sure the model is presented at it's best. The neatest part is that I get to live and practice the model with my own family while Dr. B coaches me on how I can improve, what I'm doing well, and what I can change. Basically it's free therapy. My husband has used it. My daughter Ella has used used it (There is a section in the book on teaching some of the models of success to your children). And I have used it. It works! And that is why I am so excited to share this book with you!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The New Language of Love...Is it Working?

I'd like to re-introduce my husband Bryce. He is wonderful and always full of opinions! He has been kind enough to share with us how he feels about technology, communication, and family.
I just got back from a Scout awards ceremony where a neighbor of hours received his Eagle rank. Eagle is the highest rank a scout can earn and takes years to accomplish. When I was a boy, I also participated in Boy Scouts and found myself enjoying the leadership around me, the training I received, the years of camping, fishing, and hiking, and most especially, the friendships I made along the way. I also earned the Eagle Scout rank and received letters of recognition from Reagan  Nixon, George W. Bush Sr., and Bill Clinton, along with many other commendations and a photo in the Denver Post. I looked at this boy and wondered, "What will he do with this achievement?"

Over the past few weeks I have been interviewing candidates for a couple electrical positions in our company and have recognized a trend with the younger society. Almost every young person had a social disorder; some not so severe as others, but still relevant as evidenced by the awkward moments throughout the conversations we had. I had no issues with the 'older' generations but those around 27 and younger where really having a hard time. Why?!

Then it hit me, I was witnessing a generation of people who have lost the art of body language. This is where I impress or frustrate my wife with my simple solutions; and here it is, the rise in technology has given a way for our younger generation to communicate in ways not requiring body language. Texting, email, SMS, twitter, cell phones, even web chats, and video game chats are the backbone of their social platform. These languages have replaced body language with smiley faces, hash tags, bold/capitol letters, etc. Wouldn't that create such a catastrophic dinner scenario where we have forgotten how to show--I love it but not enough to eat it again without a smiley/blah face. :P Instead we have children plugged into their iPods  never making eye contact, and parents wondering what to make of it. Stepping into ourselves, are we affected by it? What are the signs? How would we know if we were socially handicapped in body language and is it bad?

I believe a good way to know is by asking, "How would it be if we were socially advanced in body language?" Wouldn't we stand, attentive, with eyes and ears open to the instructions of our parents or advice of our spouse because we understood the importance of communicating respect, interest, and love? Would we kneel before our children and hold their hands as they expressed their heartaches, showing love and compassion? How would we feel if our boss sat by our side and spoke next to us, not at us, to explain the poor actions we had prior. We would know when our spouses were upset with us and when they were proud of us. We would know so much more about ourselves.

Let the Eagle Scout in all of us fly high this week. Put our technology down and allow ourselves to be immersed in the touch, sound, and flight of family life. Play a song on a real musical instrument, play a board game with your kids, hold your spouses hand and walk around the block or in the mall. Do what I like to do with my wife and try to interpret other couples lives in the mall and make up their scenario in real time. We may find that we are wanted and loved, or that some one wants our arms around them. We may find our every-day words sting ears or our distracted glances reduce trust from our partners. In any case, we will become more than we were before and will increase in love, understanding, and power to make a change in our lives.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Parenting is So Rewarding!

I won a special parenting award this week! Very unique! Let me give you some back ground before I reveal my exciting news. So my daughter and I are talking in the car. She needed something...and I had forgotten. That very same day my brain escaped me and I took my kindergartener to school 20 minutes late. Why? Because for some reason I thought school started twenty minutes later. It would appear--as her report card just came home to show her tardies--that this was not a one time deal. During this week I also forgot to blog, forgot to make important phone calls, and forgot things at the store. I was pretty sick, and I must consider this a blessing because I may never have won this award. Who are we kidding...I still would have won it.

 I know your dying to know. Wait for it... I won the "you are special for forgetting everything reward" bestowed upon me by my ten year old daughter. And for the record, my daughter wasn't kidding. She was very sincere...maybe too sincere. The award was followed by a well thought out speech that went something like this. "Mom, everyone else I know especially Dad remembers things. But you Mom, you forget everything! You're the only one who does that. That's special." I hate to gloat, but how can I not?! It's not everyday you win an award like that. At least I don't ever remember winning an award like that...hmm.

Sometimes life as a parent is...well just so rewarding!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

People Were Made to be Loved!

Brain Tumors, Crohns Disease, un-employent, Cystic Fibrosis, Bed rest pregnancy, epilepsy, death of a child, surgeries and serious depression. These are all of the struggles of many wonderful families around me. Families that I love. Families that I want to be happy.
I have been sick with a bad cold and been totally miserable for a few days. Yesterday my friend brought my family dinner, today she took my kids to school, and brought me dinner again. "I'm not dying," I tried to tell her, but she wouldn't hear it. She took such good care of my family and me and I felt so loved. My children felt special and my husband was sooo happy not to have to worry about dinner or dishes.

I have a point here.

All of our lives are bursting with some hardship or another. I once heard a speaker suggest that everyone struggles with three basic things: Health, Finances, or Relationships, and I agree. I would not consider a bad cold a symptom of a bursting life but my friend did. Her thoughtful care of me made me think about all of those people listed above who are currently struggling with painful life changing events. It has led me to ponder what I have done for them to ease their burden and gladden their lives, their families and their homes. What have I done for them to feel loved, supported and well taken care of?

When we are born we are surrounded by people: nurses, doctors, students, parents, and grandparents. I believe their is a reason for this. We need each other. Life is hard! Major understatement! Are we not all part of one big family? We are! I love the quote, "People were made to be loved and things were made to be used." It's amazing how often we confuse the two. We need to branch outside of our small families to bless the larger family around us. Life is one giant opportunity to help lift one another in our trials. So this week, myself included, lets make an effort to really help and love our neighbors, friends, family or co-workers in a meaningful way.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Right Kind of Argument

I found this picture on line and it almost made me cry. You can feel the love, the turmoil, and the hope. In every relationship their are Arguments, their are hurt feelings and hard decisions to be made. Christopher Robbin founder of Familius posted this quote concerning arguments in relationships...

I attended a conference last week where the speaker said, "You can either win the argument or you can have the relationship. You can't have both."

Too many family relationships are damaged or broken because someone had to be right.

The speaker ended by quoting the poet Rumi: "Out beyond the fields of right doing or wrong doing there is a field. I'll meet you there."

By Christopher Robbins, Familius CEO and Pater Familius
Experience has shown me that conflict usually inspires more conflict and love usually inspires more love. When someone attacks you, is angry with you, or expects change in you that you don’t desire, the first and most natural response is defensiveness. We build trenches and arm our fortress with the most profound and scarring weapons. We bring blame, sarcasm, and venom. We put up walls so that no thoughtless word can penetrate us, and then we begin our counterattack.

When we attempt to resolve conflict, it is important to remember the desired end product. It seems obvious that our desire should be to resolve the conflict, but sometimes we get caught up in an obsessive need to be right using whatever means necessary to win, which only intensifies the very conflict we wish to resolve (Arbinger, 2006).

An excerpt from Family Ever After by Michelle Packard.

The right kind of argument is not the one that ends with us being right. It is the argument that makes us better today than yesterday, is the one that combines love, hope, and patience to solve the issues. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

DIY:Valentines Bouquet

If you are in need of a last minute valentine for your valentine, check out this DIY Valentines bouquet I put together for the Familius website. It has simple step by step instructions. You will have fun making it and your recipient will love it! DIY Valentines Bouquet

Happy Valentines!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Leave judgement at the door this Valentines

This is a hotel in Mexico, but you wouldn't know
that until you opened the door.
Sheets on the windows, excessive cars in the drive way, dirty dishes on the counter, and toys all over the floor. This was my first glimpse to one of the homes of my son's friend. He was invited to his birthday party and naturally I wanted to meet the parents before leaving him. As I knocked on the door I was already formulating questionable ideas about this family.

As I stepped in the house I was greeted by a warm friendly smile and within 30 seconds all my unfair judgements had melted away. I saw the family picture over the fireplace (and it was a large family), I heard lots of joyful laughter, and my son was immediately embraced by the many children.

Thirty more seconds and I was wishing they would invite me to stay just so I could learn more about them. I wanted to hear their stories and listen to them laugh. They seemed to have all their priorities in place. They were a happy loving family. Maybe they didn't have money for curtains or maybe they just didn't want curtains. There was a time when sheets covered my windows too. Maybe they were playing with their kids instead of doing the dishes. I would much rather do that to. Lots of cars for lots of people. It just makes sense.

The moral to my story. I loved this family before I ever knew them, but I wouldn't have known that without leaving my judgements at the door. Just like people, families have their strengths and their weakness, their trials and joys, their sadness and hope. This Valentines be better today than yesterday by leaving your judgement at the door. Love people. Love who they are. Love them for their talents. Love them for their kindness. Just love them. Every family and every person hopes that people will be willing to look beyond the view from the front door. When I was in college my apartment was definitely not a looker from the outside. There was no masking it's ugliness. We simply hung a sign on the door that said, "It's not what's on the outside but what's on the inside that counts."

Don't we all hope that people will find the good in us and forget about the bad. Don't we hope people will look into our hearts. Let's give to others this Valentines what we hope to have. Happy Valentines!
Check out these links to read some of my published valentines articles for Familius. The Perfect CriticismWhat is Love? DIY: Valentines Boquet,

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Who Do You Love?

Be better today than yesterday by showing appreciation to those in your life whose presence and absence mean something to you. (Author of quote unknown)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

So Tired!

So Tired. So Tired. So excited to shuffle off to bed and let the comfort of warm blankets and darkness envelop me. I climb into bed and realize I didn't write my blog. Oh so tired. Maybe I should just wait until tomorrow.  Everyone who would read it is sleeping now. Or at least they should be. I think they are so tired too.

Sick kids, door decorations for teacher appreciation, dinner for a friend, babysit for a friend, babysit for a job, work on my new book, dash to the store, Junior Jazz basketball for Daniel, Activity for Ella, Church activity for me...at my house...cook more food. Oh so tired. The husband's working all night, giant untouched pile of laundry (which will most definitely remain untouched until morning), coach a basketball team, run suicides (or sweet sixteens, or ladders, or whatever you prefer to call them) with my team--absolutely crazy. Oh so tired. Worry about people I love, Clean the bathrooms--had to be done, too many loads of dishes, wash so much laundry, take a walk with a friend, help the kids with homework. Oh so tired!

So, when my son wanted me to fix his train tracks I sat down on the floor to help and realized "this floor is not going to get cleaned, and oh how it needs a good scrub" Discouragement. Bedtime arrives and the kid's homework isn't done. Discouragement. As the evening chaos hits I wonder, how can I get three people to the same place at the same time? Discouragement. The realization, "I never sent those emails." Discouragement. I don't think we should even mention the kids bedrooms. Way too much discouragement.

How can I keep up when everyday life makes me so tired?

One step at a time. One positive, "do your best Michelle" pep talk at a time. One, it's okay not to live all of life in one day, reminder at a time. One, it's good to wear yourself out doing what is important to you, reminder at a time. One deep breathe at a time. One silent prayer for help at a time. One reminder how great my life really is, at this time. One kiss and hug from the kids at a time.

Today, even though I'm tired, I can be better than yesterday, one positive, hopeful, active step at a time.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Like Jewelry in Her Mouth!

My publishing company “Familius” Is filled to the brim with wonderful people. Every day they send out what they call a Minute Inspiration—You should check out their web page it is full of great things like this. Today I wanted to share the inspiration of David Miles. It fits in perfectly with our better today than yesterday series. Enjoy.
This year's winter is gearing up to be a tough one, and if you've heard the phrase "Polar vortex" anytime in the last week or two, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

We lived in Pennsylvania when I was a kid, and every so often some moisture from the South would combine with artic air from Canada and we'd have a classic Nor'easter: blowing winds, drifting snow, and no school! For me and my six siblings, that meant a whole day to play, a get-out-of-jail-free card—eight blissful hours of sledding, building, fortressing, and putting off homework.

For Mom, of course, "no school!" meant seven lunches to fix, seven missing boots to find, seven sets of wet footprints trailing around the house, and, a few snowballs and lots of tears later, at least one or two children to console. It meant a house full of hyperactive kids and lots of unchecked boxes on her to-do list.

And that's the remarkable thing, because Mom never seemed to mind. Snow days were a celebration! She made us pancakes in morning, took pictures of our snowmen, and was just as excited when the Weather Channel heralded another incoming storm.

In short, Mom could see things the way we did—and that's a magical gift. If you saw the world through your child's eyes, what would you see? Would their fears become more real to you? Their dreams more important? Their accomplishments more triumphant?

It takes some doing to adopt the eyes of a child, but the view down there is spectacular.

By David Miles, Familius Digital Director

What does life look like through the eyes of my three year old when he can't get his train tracks together and everyone is too busy to help? I would imagine it's frustrating and hopeless. What does it look like to my ten year old when she fills the house until brimming with the magical music of Disney's Frozen while singing at the loudest decible possibly audible by man? It's total bliss! Every part of her small frame is energized and invincible. What does it look like through my eight year old's eyes as he opens a new bow and arrow for his birthday? It's so exciting and the possiblities are riveting. What does it look like through the eyes of my five year old when the dentist puts a silver cap on her tooth? It's scary. But what does it look like when she see's it in the mirror for the first time? It's beautiful that's what it is! Like jewelry in her mouth! 

When we see through the eyes of a child, any child, we will undoubtedly be better today than yesterday. Not only because kids seem to live on a lighter and happier realm, but because we will have a better insight into their lives. We will be better teachers, parents and grandparents, and happier people. This week make life better by seeing through the eyes of the children around you.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Today...I Ran!

I ran. Like real running. Heart-pumping running. Okay more like heart-pumping jogging. Either way I consider it a success! I know for many, running is an everyday thing but I don’t run. Ask anyone. I walk, hike, walk fast, ice skate, play volleyball, and swim, but I don’t run. Why? Two years ago in the midst of an intense workout my heart went crazy—palpitations and arrhythmia! My blood pressure spiked, I had intense pain up through my shoulder and neck and thought I was going to pass out. I did a little deep breathing, put my head down, and started praying I wouldn’t drop right there. I got out of there as fast as possible and I was scared!

Well here I am, two years and lots of tests and doctors visits later. My friends keep pestering me to go back to the gym with them but I just can’t do it, and finally I admitted my fears to them.  I don’t want to have a heart attack. You should know that that infamous workout wasn’t the cause of my heart problem just the culmination of it’s manifestation. You should also know I am pretty healthy and could have started running long ago—accept for the fear that grips me every time I think about it.

I found myself on the treadmill this morning for my daily walk, thinking to myself, “Just do it. Just run.” Of course my evil angel was telling me to give it up before I even started. I only half listened, and I selected the harder workout telling myself I could always slow down. But, when the treadmill sped up so did I. I did it! I ran! For 5 minutes. Maybe not such a big deal to some but to me it was a big deal. I did a hard thing, something I feared. Even better than that, my kids watched me do it.

I know that my kids will become in some ways a reflection of who I am. I want them to know that I can do hard things. I want them to know that I faced my fears. I hope it will help them to have the courage to do the hard things they fear. I hope they will try out for school plays even when they don’t make it the first time. I hope they will practice the piano even when they are not good at it. I hope they will try food they don’t like. I hope they will play soccer again after they break their nose doing it.

You see, this post isn’t really about running. It’s about doing something I was afraid to do. It’s about being better today than I was yesterday.

Twenty -four years ago, we had a fire in our home that stemmed from faulty wiring that had melted behind our fireplace. Once our home was repaired and we had moved back in we did not have any fires in the fireplace for what seemed to me a long while. I remember my Dad getting off the couch one day in a bit of a whirl. He threw the ice bag he had been using at the fireplace and walked out to the garage. A few minutes later we had a fire in our fireplace. Big deal right? It was a big deal to him.
I know we all have our own demons, big or small. I challenge you to pick just one and face it today or this week, even if it is for 5 minutes. Maybe those five minutes will be enough to light a fire in you.  I will bet after doing so you will find yourself better today than yesterday. And I will bet some day even if it is twenty-four years from now your own children will remember and follow your example.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------Welcome to our new series: Better today than yesterday. Each post for the next little while will focus on something we can do to be better today than yesterday. I am a firm believer that one of the best things we can do to improve our families is to be better today than yesterday. I hope you enjoyed the first segment of our series.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

One Day at a Time

The holidays have been good to my family and me. Wonderful in fact, but for some reason, possibly lack of motivation, I find myself less than enthused about new years resolutions this year.  Maybe—with the kids home from school—my house has been a mess for too long. Maybe all the holiday fun just wore me out. I’m usually a very goal centered gal but history has shown that I am often failing to meet or even get past the paper stage of my goals.

I would love to be softer spoken with my kids, more intimate with my husband, and spend more one on one time with everyone in my family. I would love to have a perfectly organized and clean home, finished and decorated to match the dream in my mind. I would love to have the patience of a saint, the knowledge to help my kids in all their struggles at school, with friends, and with life, but I already know I will fall short of such perfection. After all, a year is a long time to be perfect in so many areas—and I’ve only just begun.

Before you all start falling into a Michelle induced troubled and discouraged state, let me tell you about my redeeming moment today. I was talking with a friend who confided her desire simply not to “lose it” with the kids. She was trying so hard only to find herself feeling unappreciated and disrespected. This of course is a hard thing for any parent. As she talked through things with me she said, “We just have to take it one day at a time.”

Well it’s true! Life isn’t about eating the whole pie in one sitting—or brownies if you prefer—it’s about enjoying it one bite, one piece at a time. I don’t have to be “perfect” for a year, or even an entire day. New year’s resolutions always fill me with the need to attain perfection within such a small window of life. Perfection is a misleading word anyway. I would like to redefine perfection from the idea of never making a mistake, to the reality of simply working to be better than you were yesterday. I am still definitely a believer in goal setting, but it seems a lot more doable when I take it one day at a time.

What does all of this mean to me? It means that even though yesterday I had a “my house is a disaster and no-one’s helping” breakdown, today I can vacuum the floors, scrape up the food that’s leaching onto my tile, and keep up with the laundry (I was shy of completion by one load—and a pile of unfolded laundry on my couch). It means that even though I spent too much time and energy cleaning this morning, I can do better spending time with Ella on her homework tonight and more time reading with Julia. It means that even though my husband hurt my feelings yesterday, today I can forgive, give him a kiss and be happy. It means that when Jackson wipes curry all over my white shirt at dinner I can be patient in that one moment—I think I did a pretty good job. It means that when I get upset at the kids for arguing I can take the next moment to apologize and teach them. One moment at a time, one day at a time, working for a better me and a happier family.

Hmm, I think I’ve come up with my new years resolution. Enjoy life with us, one moment and one day at a time!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and I hope the new year brings great opportunity for hope and joy for you and your family. My blogs will now be posted on Tuesday's. Happy New Year!