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Join me in my daily walk through the joys and struggles of parenthood. Share a word of encouragement or be encouraged. Cry a little, laugh a lot, but know it is all in divine order.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Muffins with Mom – A teen’s first job


A teen preparing for work

 Do you remember your first job, was it in an office, a fast food restaurant, or maybe somewhere working with kids? My son started his first job about a month ago. I’m proud that he is learning responsibility, but at the same time I know that a learning curve exists.

When my son received his first paycheck, I told him he needed to put a portion of his money toward college tuition. He looked at me and said, “But I worked hard for my money. Why can’t I use it for something I want?”

I could totally empathize with my son. I too wanted to use my paycheck for something I wanted. I tried to explain the concept of delayed gratification to my son and how he should find a balance between saving and spending. My explanation fell on deaf ears.

My son said, “Can I give you something out of my next paycheck?” When I told him no, his frustration really set in. “Well. I just won’t work then.” My sarcasm set in as I thought, oh yeah that’s really teach me a lesson. Instead of saying anything else, I let my son have the last word. A few minutes later my son begrudgingly brought me $50 then went in on his way.

I didn’t ask my son to contribute anything else from his paychecks. I just wanted him to understand that sometimes there are obligations that must be taken care of. He assured me that he wanted to save some of his money to get something fixed on his car. How can I argue with that?

My son and I had reached an agreement. He would use his money for car repairs, school clothes and other small items he needed to start the fall semester. I would handle the tuition (with his help finding scholarships and other resources).

When my son received his next paycheck, I believe he stashed it away without telling me ever received it. Smart thinking. One day he will look back and laugh at this whole situation, but that day isn’t today.

When you landed your first job, what did you use your money for?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fun Friday – Open letter to my children

photo credit

This letter is dedicated to my teenage children for all the things they have done to make life…interesting. Bless you my children.

Make room for Mama
Remember the times you said, “I can’t wait to grow up?” Well, I’m not rushing you to grow up, but I look forward to many of your “first” experiences leading into adulthood.

Can’t wait for you to get your first car. I’ll be the first to ride in the passenger seat when you take it for a spin. We can stop by the corner store so that I can pick up a few snacks. When I’m done eating, I’ll leave candy wrappers on the set and let my beverage can roll under the seat.

After that we can stop by the pizza place, grab dinner and a lot of napkins that I’ll leave all over your car. After stuffing ourselves, surely we will want to work out. I know how you like to stay in shape for sports.

We’ll go to the fitness center, work up a sweat and then shower there before heading home. You can stuff your damp, soiled, gym clothes in my bag, I’m willing to share. No need to take the bag into the house. Leave it in your car, I’ll get it after a few days, by then it should smell like a gym full of teenagers after gym class.

I’m not rushing your teen years because I love attending your sporting events and being a part of your high school years. However, I will be as excited as a tick on a dog with bushy fur, when you get your first home. It would bring me joy to prepare your favorite meal. If you don’t plan to be at home, just leave a key and I will let myself in.

Preparing dinner is sure to make me thirsty. I know how you like to keep a 2 liter pop on hand. I’ll just help myself to a glass, then leave the dirty glass at some random location in your house. If there is just a drop of pop left in the bottle, I won’t finish it off. Instead, I’ll return the almost empty bottle to the fridge.

Once you arrive home, we’ll have a casual dinner, eating from paper plates while sitting on the couch in front of the T.V. After our meal, fit for a king, I’ll be too stuffed to move. So, I’ll just leave my paper plate on the floor near the couch or maybe even shove it under the couch for you to discover later.

Each time I visit your home will be a reminder of the love we share and your desire to be grown up.

Love you boy’s young men. Be sure to make room in your life for Mama. Bless you my children.

What would a letter to your child contain?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Words of Wisdom – Being a parent – A poem of inspiration

photo credit
The house is untidy from window to door, 
Marks on the walls and food on the floor.

The washing's unwashed
and the dishes are too,
There's scum in the bathroom
And fat on the stew.

There are toys in the passage
And under our feet;
The garden's a jungle
When seen from the street.

So what have I done, then
To earn my repose?
To just look around me
You'd say no-one knows!

I've held a small hand
As her first steps she took.

I've made animal noises
As we read a book.

I've built a mud pie
And admired a snail,

I've rescued the cat
From a grip on her tail.

I've wiped away tears,
And I've listened to tales.

I've used mediation
To get smiles from wails.

So I guess what I've done
Isn't easy to see -
It won't clean the house
And it won't cook the tea.

But if I have helped make a child feel good, know that she's loved and that she's understood, then I know that my work, though not easy to see, is just as important as any could be.

Author unknown


Monday, June 22, 2015

Muffins with Mom – Caring for other people’s children…again


Other people's children
Have you heard the saying, “live and learn?” Well, as I continue to live, I continue to learn. Five years ago I babysat my nieces for an entire week. At that time they were six and eleven years old and I let them get away with far more than they would have at home (click here for that story).
Recently, I was again called to pinch hit and care for my nieces, this time it was only overnight. Now at ages 11 and 17 years, the girls are pretty self-sufficient. I just had to get them from their home (30 minutes away) to my house. Simple enough, right? Hmmm. It’s a matter of perspective.
To say I hit a couple of roadblocks would be putting it mildly. I picked up my younger niece early evening and we hung out together for a while. My older niece went to a concert and would be picked up later that night.
Later meant after my self-imposed bedtime. So off I trekked after my bedtime, to a location where a gazillion teens would be, along with loud music. My first speed bump was when I missed my exit on the freeway. I went to the next exit and tried to go around and get right back onto the freeway…the ramp was closed.
The self-talk began – “ok Ang, you can do this. Follow the path toward downtown.” It wasn’t long before my cell phone rang. It was my seventeen-year-old niece asking if I was almost there. The concert had ended and she was in the car with her friend waiting to meet me.
It was only another ten minutes before I reached the area where the concert was held. I knew I was there because there were police directing traffic, cars packed in a gas station and music blaring from cars.
Since everyone had disbursed from the concert location, I had to find a place to meet my niece. I pulled into an IHop restaurant, it looked like a safe place. It was a family restaurant and not many cars in the parking lot that time of night. I parked there a few minutes and waited. My other niece was fast asleep in the backseat.
Suddenly, my next speed bump approached. It was in the shape of a plain clothed security guard with a flashlight. He shined his light in the backseat and then in my eyes as he said, “Ma’am are you dining in?” he knew I wasn’t there to eat, but I guess he had to ask anyway.
“No, I’m waiting to pick up my niece.” I squinted into the light.
“I can’t let you stay here.”
I said ok, but took my time preparing to leave. There was another vehicle pulling out of a parking spot. I let them go ahead of me, just to buy a little time. I pulled off in search of another place to wait for my niece.
It was another ten minutes before I finally connected with my niece…in a crowded parking lot with cars pulling in and out. And teenagers everywhere. But it was okay, my mission was almost complete.
Everyone was securely strapped in their seatbelts and we made the uneventful trip back to my house. Until… we were within the last ten minutes of home. I felt like the sandman had sprinkled fairy dust in my eyes. I was getting sleepy.
At least I had a backup licensed driver, my niece. I looked over at the passenger seat and she asleep with her head hanging over near the passenger window. No help there. I turned the music up, rolled my window down. Just a few more traffic lights and I would be home.
As I continue to live, I continue to learn. Caring for other people’s children can require patience. Be sure you have enough rest before you tackle the experience.
What has been your experience caring for other people’s children?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Fun Friday - A Father's Day Tribute

It's almost Father's Day. Take a few moments to honor the father figure in your life. Whether your dad is a funny sort of guy or more serious, make the time to create a special moment.

Here's a tribute to dads on their special day.

YouTube Video Credit: American Greetings
 
 
YouTube Video Credit: Greater Mt. Zion Austin
 
 
Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Words of Wisdom – Forgiveness

photo credit
Have you been hurt, ever felt betrayed, or just had a hard time forgiving someone? Don’t put off forgiving that person. There is a healing power in forgiving. Celebrate June 26th at National Forgiveness Day.

You can celebrate National Forgiveness Day by letting go of an old grudge. It may not be easy, but it’s worth it. Forgiving lifts a weight from your shoulder. Read the story below for a little inspiration on your road to forgiveness.

Leave Your Hurts in the Sand
A story tells that two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face.

The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand:
TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE.

They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decide
d to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him.

After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone:
TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE.
The friend who had slapped and saved his best friend asked him, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?”

The other friend replied “When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.”

LEARN TO WRITE YOUR HURTS IN THE SAND AND TO CARVE YOUR BENEFITS IN STONE.

They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, but then an entire life to forget them.
Do not value the things you have in your life. But value who you have in your life!

Author Unknown


Make it a point today to not allow hurt or anger to control your life, instead forgive someone who has wronged you. What will you do differently today?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Muffins with Mom – War and Peace – When teens invite company over



photo credit
Have you ever fallen asleep on the job? I have, it was during my shift of late night parenting of teens. And that is where my story of war and peace begins.
As I tried to sleep, I heard thunderous bumping and crashing, but I refused to get out of the bed. The sounds of voices and laughter blared, but I was paralyzed by sleep. My teen boys had company and they were obviously wrestling.
It was after 11pm, I knew this because my cell phone dinged and I rolled over to see the time. The boys were loud, I wanted to scream to them to be quiet, but I couldn’t find my voice. Besides, I didn’t want to be wide awake.
The next morning when I arose, the house was quiet. I was faced with a dilemma…do I rush through the house like a herd of elephants, sounding an alarm signaling that day light had arrived? My other option was to tip-toe through the house like a soldier navigating through a mine field.
I chose peace over war. I wanted quiet over the clash of the battlefield of rambunctious teens. So, I let the boys sleep. As I made my way to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, I discovered the spoils of the battlefield from the night before. There was trash overflowing from the wastebasket and dirty glasses everywhere except in the sink.
The smell of fried chicken grease still emanated through the kitchen and living room. Scraps from the previous night’s dinner were on top of the trash. Birds were singing outside the window as they welcomed in the morning, but it was too early for breakfast. I just wanted that cup of coffee. Instant coffee.
While I waited for the tea kettle to give its signal of completion, I began to straighten up the kitchen. I refused to clean everything that was left by the sleeping cherubs, but I had to clean a few things…the mess was bothering me. Once my coffee was ready, I retreated to my little area that I called the quiet zone and devised my combat plan for the day.
My plan was simple-
·         Fill the house with the smell of bacon as it sizzled on the griddle.

·         Be sure the smell of biscuits baking drifted under the boy’s noses.

·         And finally, partake of my daily bread and wait for them to ask for some.
It wasn’t long after initiating my plan that the boys were awake. As they wiped sleep from their innocent eyes, I told the boys they would have to help clean up before they could eat. The pseudo war was over, it was time for peace. The boys agreed to my terms and we lived happily ever after…for the moment.
Does anything unusual happen when you have teens around or even a small gathering of children?

 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Fun Friday – National Smile Power Day – 3 ways to celebrate

photo credit
I bet you can’t guess what I just found out…? June 15th is celebrated as National Smile Power Day. Yes, it’s another National holiday that I’d like to celebrate with you. This is one that you can participate in simply by sharing a smile.

If you’re not sure exactly how to participate in National Smile Power Day, below are a few ways:

1.      Say a simple hello to those you pass by throughout your day
2.      Share a joke with someone
3.      Share a funny story with someone

Since I’ve already smiled hello to a few people and shared a joke with a friend, I’m ready to share a story. Here it is…

When I left work one Friday, one of the tires on my car looked a little low. As I started the car, sure enough, the low tire pressure light was on. I stopped at the closest gas station along my route. Thus, began my adventure.

Upon arriving at the gas station, I had to get quarters for the air machine. Quarters in hand, I was ready for my mission. As I took the cap off the tire, it flipped out of my hand and rolled somewhere. I was crouched on the ground, in a dress, searching for that miniscule cap.

The cap to the tire was nowhere in sight. I gave up on finding it and shifted my focus to putting air in the low tire. Although I wasn’t sure how much air I was putting in, I could see the tire rising. Not wanting to overinflate the tire, I used my best guess at when there was enough air in the tire.

As I replaced the air hose all I could think was, I should have asked for a tire gauge for Mother’s Day. With the low tire scene behind me, I pulled away from the gas station and headed home. But, not before the check engine light came on. All I could do was sigh and say, really? This time I had to smile to myself.

Thought for today…“Do not let the world change your smile, let your smile change the world.” -  Author Unknown

Do you have a story or joke that will make someone smile?


Monday, June 8, 2015

Muffins with Mom – Best Friends Day

Best friends since high school - somebody's 40th birthday (years ago)
Best friends, ready for an outing.

Carpe Diem – seize the day. Did you know that June 8th is celebrated as National Best Friends Day? We may not see our best friend as often as we would like, so now is a great opportunity to schedule time with your friend.

Would you choose a quiet dinner out, a movie, maybe even a music concert? I heard a radio announcer promoting a concert called Bring the Noise. My immediate reaction was, I don’t want to hear any noise, I want peace and quiet. That was an indication that I may not be as young as I used to be.

My best friend and I opted to go to a comedy show as out outing. As I prepared for the 10:30pm show, my teen boys asked, “Where are you going in the middle of the night?” Of course they were experiencing role reversal. Bless their hearts, they thought they could question me on my whereabouts.

Shhh, don’t tell my boys, but I was actually hoping I would stay awake long enough to make it to the show. I am an early morning person, not late night.

I drove thirty minutes to my friend’s house since she lived near the comedy club. As we were guided to our seats, my friend shook her head and said, “Why are we sitting right at the stage? You’re supposed to get close up seats for a concert, not for the comedy club, where you may be talked about.” Well, I guess she won’t ask me to purchase the tickets next time.

The comedians were funny, but as the show neared the end, my eyes began to get heavy. I had to fight to keep them open. I could not, would not fall asleep sitting at a comedy show. I knew I would be live bait for the comic if that happened. One comic reached down to our table and used a napkin to make a point in his routine. That’s how close we were to the stage.

I squirmed in my seat, I twisted my hair, I crunched on a nacho, anything to stay awake. When the last comic finally said goodnight I leaned over to my friend and said, “Is that the last comic?” She just shook her head and laughed at me. I engaged in conversation with her in the car for a short while, then I had to close my eyes, if only for 10 minutes. And that’s what I did.

Best friends understand. We enjoy each other’s company when we can. Sometimes it’s simply sharing quiet moments together. Seize the day and make time for a friend.


Do you have a best friend story to share? How will you celebrate National Best Friends Day?

Friday, June 5, 2015

Fun Friday - Another day’s journey: 5 tips for traveling with family


As school draws to an end for summer, you may be thinking of plans for a family vacation. My teen boys are already talking about places they would like to visit. Our discussion led me to reflect on a family trip we took several years ago. Here’s the story.

While on a road trip, we stopped at a rest area to stretch. I was the only one to exit the car.  Upon my return, I was greeted by steam eminating from inside the car. No we didn’t have cat trouble. It was 78 degrees and humid outside, but my family had the heat blaring as though it was below zero.

In planning for our trip, I prepared for the elements of weather. Little did I know that I would experience various weather conditions INSIDE of the car. I have discovered that when traveling with family you have to be prepared for anything.  

Some of the late shows are known for giving a top 10 list for various situations. Here’s my top five list of things you need to know before traveling with family.

#5        You have the right to remain silent – when the kids are yelling and screaming and you want to scream too…take a break remain silent and count to 10.

#4        Anything you say can be held against you – when the kids want something and you tell them “maybe later” they will keep asking you by saying, “you said later.”

#3        You have the right to representation during the kids negotiating for something they want. When my kids wanted cereal for dinner their argument was, “Mini Wheats helps 11% of children do well in school and Captain Crunch helps get your day started.” Good try. My solution is to pack a variety of snacks and double team the kids with reasons why they should have something else.

#2        Don’t give up all of your rights – the kids don’t have to have everything go their way, but if they’re older (tweens/teens) let them have input on some aspect of the trip. If they’d rather spend extra time at the pool rather than something else you have planned, so be it.  
      
#1        A family road trip is not a life sentence – with proper planning a road trip can be entertaining and a great bonding experience. We left the house armed with music CD’s, books on CD and puzzle books. On the next trip we may need to limit the number of carry-ons due to space restrictions.

When it comes to family time together, poet Maya Angelou’s book title sums it up best,
Wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now. Through extreme temperatures inside and outside of
the car, my journey with the family will be a memorable one.


Can you take the heat of a road trip?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Overcoming the odds

Have you ever felt like you were having "one of those days" where things just weren't going your way. Go into your day knowing that you can overcome the odds.

Watch this video 'till the end.

YouTube Video Credit: dbzfanz4life

Be strong!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Muffins with Mom – When your graduate comes home



Sometimes a graduate comes home taller than when he left.

 
It’s graduation season, that time of year where you receive open house invites, shop for an ideal gift and plan for next steps. Do you have a recent graduate or a graduate who has returned home for the summer?
I’ve attended a couple of graduation open houses so far, it’s always encouraging to see a young person moving forward with his/her life pursuits. In this season of graduation excitement, our teen has returned home for the summer, after his first year away at school. What happens when your graduate comes home?
When my graduate returned home I saw him for a couple of hours then he was off to visit friends. And that’s the way it was for about a week. He was home to eat and sleep, then back out the door to catch up with old friends.
Now that my son has been home a few weeks, he has settled into a routine. He also had to become reacquainted with some of the house rules-
·         You still have a curfew…be home by the designated time

·         Clean clothes should be folded and put away…don’t leave them lying around with the chance of becoming mixed in with the dirty clothes

·         You still have assigned chores...and yes, you may be asked to do a little more
While my son is home, I’ve encouraged him to schedule all of his doctor and dental visits. In an effort to be sure this was taken care of, I called to schedule one of the doctor appointments for my son. The receptionist on the phone asked questions to verify his current information.
When asked about our phone number, I realized the receptionist had an old number on file. I recited my son’s cell number to her, then asked if I could change that and give her my number as the main contact. The receptionist’s response was, “Is there any reason he can’t take his own calls?” I chuckled to myself as I said, “No there isn’t.”
I was still trying to do everything for my son. At some point we have to let our kids grow up and trust that we’ve done a decent job providing them with a strong foundation. When your graduate comes home greet him with hugs, kisses and words of encouragement. And rest assured that you have been successful as a parent.
Have you had any recent experiences with a graduate, college, high school or maybe even pre-school?