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, December 24, 2012

Christmas Blessings

Just a short post today wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I am taking the week off to work on a few other projects. I will resume posting on January 2, 2013.
Before we head into the New Year, I wanted to share a few blessings from 2012.

1.      Christmas dinner with family – Our oldest family member passed away this summer (95 years old), but we were still able to have joy and peace during our annual dinner.
Prayer circle - they're not supposed to be looking at the camera! (-:
2.      New friendships

3.      Kids Christmas Pageant…and kids who didn’t want to be in said pageant – I don’t think we have ever had a Christmas Pageant without laughter. There is always unplanned humor sprinkled into the pageant.

Shepherds in our church Christmas program

4.      Writing opportunities experienced this year – I was fortunate to attend two local writing conferences this year. I started my blog this year and I wrote two articles for Prayer and Praise Magazine (www.prayerandpraisemagazine.com).

5.      Having God’s favor over my life.

What are your Christmas blessings?

Friday, December 21, 2012

When kids showcase expressive body language – anything goes

Some children are mild mannered, others experience the occasional shy spell. My kids often engage in expressive body language. Their nonverbal cues can sometimes be called dancing. I call them random outbursts of energy.
The expressive body language that my kids display is not limited to dancing, sometimes it comes in the form of facial grimaces. What do you do when your kids act goofy? I have learned to just go with the flow.

Check out the video of my boys… “creative expressions.”


Summer fun - always ready to take on a challenge

Can you tell which kids are mine?...the ones making faces.


Sometimes "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

What goofy things do your kids do to express themselves? Do you join them?


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

HELP THE ELF: I Found Santa’s Missing Nice List!

Hi everyone! As you may remember, a few weeks ago PETE the Elf had a touch too much Eggnog at the Holiday Christmas Party and as he stumbled home, he lost Santa's NICE LIST.

The North Wind scattered the papers to all four corners of the world, and The Bookshelf Muse put out a call to help find them in order to SAVE CHRISTMAS.

Ever since I read about it, I've been on the lookout. And then today, EUREKA!

Yes that's right...I found part of Santa's missing NICE LIST. There it was, fluttering in the wind, half caught under the corner of my welcome mat. And shock of all shocks, I recognized the name, and I bet you will too.

Here it is below:


NAME: Linda Jackson, Sherry Ellis

LOCATION: Writers Do Laundry Too and Mama Diaries



OBSERVATIONS: You both obviously work hard and provide great content on your blogs. AND you take the time to vist and promote other bloggers. Job well done! 

RECOMMENDATION:     a) Coal                   b) Card

~ ~ * ~ ~

Because poor Pete is dashing all over the place trying to hunt down the rest of Santa's missing Nice List, I decided to take care of this one myself. Sherry & Linda, thanks for visiting my blog frequently and leaving a comment. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas Holiday Season! Photo credit:
assorted gold baubles (christmasstockimages.com) / CC BY 3.0

To fellow bloggers, followers and friends, here's wishing you all the best...

How about you readers? Is there someone that you'd lke to say Happy Holidays to or tell them how much they mean to you? There's still time. It's as easy as snding an ecard or an email note, posting on a facebook wall or sending a tweet. Spread some kindness and cheer.

What’s in a fortune cookie?

Photo credit: www.semblog.com

What do you find when you open a fortune cookie? You discover words, inspiration, and perhaps a spark of creativity. For a while now I’ve been saving the fortunes that come inside those golden crisp cookies.
If you’re a writer, the fortunes you find make great story starters. If you’re not a writer, the fortunes can serve as inspiration for a project you may be working on. Here is your fortune message for today:

“This is your day! Expect great results with those ongoing works.”

Photo credit: www.fanpop.com
What will you do wit this fortune? Make it work for you today.

Monday, December 17, 2012

How do you know if you have a serious sweet tooth? 8 signs to ponder

Photo by Chef floWer - www.food.com

Who doesn’t love a slice of cheesecake, hot apple pie or a hot fudge sundae, every now and then? I don’t see anything wrong with the occasional indulging. How do you know when the indulging has turned into a sweet tooth?

If you think you might have a sweet tooth, check out the list of characteristics of sweet eaters I know.

1.      You eat one a day Gummy vitamins – six times a day.

2.      You add sugar to pre-sweetened cereal.

3.      You eat chocolate covered everything.

4.      Milk and cookies are one of your favorite breakfast treats.

5.      You fall asleep with candy in your mouth.

6.      You reprimand your child for eating the last chocolate chip muffin.

7.      You pick up an article of your child’s clothing from a heap in his room and a dozen small candy wrappers scatter.

8.      You drink coffee just for the cream and sweetener.
You may not be Paula Dean or Rachel Rae, but you just want to satisfy your sweet tooth. I’ve found that it’s better to go ahead and have something sweet (in moderation) rather than deny myself all together. When I deny myself, binge eating occurs.

If you want to treat yourself to a little sweet here are a couple of recipes I found (www.food.com/recipe/yummy-dessert-the-kids-can-make-themselves-351933). These are simple enough for kids to make and remember to share your completed creation; It will save you a few calories.

Dessert Option 1

  • 1/2 cup of sliced mango
  • 1/2 cup peach yogurt
  • whipped cream (the squirty can type!)
  • candy sprinkles or chocolate shavings

Dessert Option 2

  • 1 chocolate cupcake (or mini chocolate muffin)
  • 1/2 cup sliced kiwi
  • 1/2 cup wholegrain strawberry yogurt (Onken)
  • whipped cream (the squirty can type!)
  • chocolate shavings

What do you do to curb your sweet tooth?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Date night - What does an elegant evening look like?

Photo credit: www.wehearit.com

When was the last time you had an exciting dinner date? Maybe it was with your spouse, a relative or just hanging out with friends. One weekend I decided to transform an ordinary dinner into a date with my husband – “eating in elegance.”
This week’s blog post of Parenting through the Alphabet looks at a situation that involves, “eating in elegance.” The dining room table was set with fine china (the good stuff that the kids wonder why we never use it). Fresh flowers and two long red candles served as a centerpiece.

Once the table was set my boys entered the room with their comments.

“Why are you doing all that, you’re already married?”

“Yeah, it’s just daddy.”

They returned to their rooms for another round of video games. Their comments provided a good argument for enjoying an elegant evening AWAY from home. So what do you do to make it an elegant evening for you and for the kids? Plan something fun for them too.

I stumbled upon a website that had suggestions for creating a “kid date night.” The concept was to create an envelope filled with fun things for kids to do. The envelope marked “Do not open until mom and dad leave,” would contain clues for a treasure hunt.
Here’s a sample clue: “Roses are Red violets are Blue, look in the place where mom keeps her shoes.” For more ides visit the datingdivas website.

While the kids are engaged in their date night, you can enjoy a date of your own.
What does eating in elegance look like in your household?


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Happy Poinsettia Day!

Photo credit: www.ipcblog.org

It’s that time of year where we see Poinsettias everywhere. The kids are selling them at school, they greet you near the front of stores and they make appearances in many people’s homes. I recently discovered that December 12th is National Poinsettia Day.
Here are a few facts about this day:

·       December 12th marks the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett, an American botanist, physician and minister to Mexico.” In 1828 he sent cuttings of the plant he’d discovered in Southern Mexico to his home in Charleston, South Carolina. The plant is known botanically a Euphorbia Pulcherrima (www.poinsettia.com).

·       The House of Representatives passed a resolution in July of 2002 creating Poinsettia Day to honor Paul Ecke Jr. who is considered the father of the poinsettia industry.

·         “Poinsettias contribute more than $250,000,000 to the U.S. economy.”

·        In Mexico the Poinsettia connects to the “legend of a young girl distraught about not having anything with which to honor the Baby Jesus in a Christmas Procession. An Angel tells her that any gift given with love is a wonderful gift.”

You can find out more about the history of the Poinsettia plant at www.poinsettia.com.

Photo credit: www.1stinflowers.com
Do you have a favorite plant of flower that you display during the holiday season?



Monday, December 10, 2012

How do you spend your Christmas Holiday? 3 tips for a stress free Christmas

Photo credit: www.bigfanboy.com

What are your plans for the Christmas holiday? Will you have family over to your house or will you visit relatives? For the past five or six years relatives come to my house for Christmas dinner.
The relatives have to come to expect fun and games that exceed the laughter of year before. Below is an ode to family members everywhere.

 Relatives at Christmas
It was the week before Christmas and all through the house,
Everybody was stirring, even my spouse.
Stockings to stuff, foods to bake,
Sweet Potato pie, even a cake.

The relatives were coming for Christmas dinner,
Games they’ll expect with everyone a winner.
Granny will come expecting kids to hug,
Cousins will come looking for someone to bug.

Brother will expect lots of food,
But volunteer to bring pop…really dude?

Uncle will visit- eat then nap,
Comfy on the sofa in his baseball cap.

The big day arrived, everything was ready,
But all the kids wanted was a plate of spaghetti.
Out in the driveway there arose such a clatter,
I ran from the house to see what was the matter.

Uncle Joe, Aunt Lue and little baby Norm,
Playing in the snow and honking a horn.

“Come on inside,” I yelled from the door.
They ran right in leaving snow on the floor.

Everyone was ready for Holiday cheer,
Giving thanks for relatives far and near.
The night ended with hugs and smiles,
The relatives left and drove for miles.
We watched as the last car drove out of sight,
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Whether you are visiting relatives or they are coming to you, here are a few tips to make it through:
1.      Have a pot luck dinner, don’t try to do everything yourself.

2.      No need for fine china, use paper products, they’re easy for cleanup.

3.      Plan a few easy/fun games – card games, dominoes, singing competition (finish the lyrics to a Christmas song).

What are your tips for a stress free visit with relatives or when having relatives visit you?


Friday, December 7, 2012

Confessions of a determined mom

As parents we sometimes have to have determination in order to make it through the day. What does determination look like? It can take on many shapes and forms, kind of like the Wonder Twins from the Super Friends cartoon.
Today parenting through the alphabet takes the shape of the letter ‘d’ and the form of the word “determination.” One of the things parents often fail at is taking time for themselves. I’m including myself in that stastic.

Have you ever been determined to do something?  Here’s a list of things it takes determination to complete:

1.      Getting a child to complete his homework when you want him to, not when he wants to do it.

2.      Squeezing into last winter’s wardrobe.

3.      Doing abdominal crunches when you really want to crunch on snacks.

4.      Sticking to an exercise regime when the results are slow in showing themselves.

My confession - I have tried to stick to a routine workout schedule, but it doesn’t always go smoothly. On my last visit to Planet Fitness I was determined to work hard. I approached the treadmill with my ear buds and bottled water. I set the TV channel to Good Morning America and proceeded to program the other setting on the machine.
As I started walking, I noticed a sign to the right of the settings that read, “Temporarily out of order.” The machine was moving so I ignored the sign. My assumption was that the machine was working and someone forgot to remove the sign. I even jogged a little to increase my workout.
When I was done with my workout the young lady at the desk asked, “Angie why did you get on the treadmill that said out of order?”

“I had already started walking when I noticed the sign. I figured if something was wrong with the machine I would fly off or the machine would stop.”

She just smiled and shook her head. I was determined to increase the intensity of my workout so I wasn’t focused on that little sign. I didn’t feel my safety was in jeopardy.

If I were to activate the Wonder Twin power it would be…form of a healthy mom, shape of a healthy mom who makes time for herself every now and then.
If you’re not familiar with the Wonder Twins below is a clip of them in action.

What are you determined to do for yourself?


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Where do you hide your kids Christmas gifts? – 5 places to add to your list

Do you put all of the kids Christmas gifts under the tree or do you hide them elsewhere? If I put gifts under the tree, the kids will shake them and try to peek through the corners of the wrapping paper.
Now that my boys are teens I have discovered new locations that they may never look for gifts. Here are my top five locations:

Photo credit: www.kveller.com
In their laundry baskets

Photo credit: www.houzz.com
Hide gifts with the pot and pans

In a backpack – the kids barely want to go in their backpack in search of homework.

Photo credit: www.stepbystepmom.com

Under a pile of socks - no one ever wants to sort the socks.

Near cleaning supplies - anywhere you find these supplies, you will find my kids running in the opposite direction.

Do you have a favorite hiding spot for gifts (that you can share)?

Monday, December 3, 2012

The accidental nap - When kids fight going to bed

When kid finally get sleepy, they'll fall asleep anywhere.

Do you ever have bedtime struggles with your child? It takes my son an hour to wrap his mind around the idea of going to bed (my words, not his). He wants to watch a few more minutes of TV or play his video game a little longer.
On the day in question, I decided to do a little late night grocery shopping without the boys. I can move a little faster when I’m not stopping to take items out of the cart that they try to sneak in. So I ventured out.

When I returned home the house was quiet, not a creature was stirring, not even a….rambunctious teen. I found out the next day that the quiet house was just an illusion. My son confessed that he was pretending to be asleep. Then accidentally fell asleep for real.
What is the solution for preventing an accidental nap (or fake sleeping)? It helps when I tell the kids they have to be in bed by a set time so they can be asleep by a certain time. And I wake them up at the same time every morning.
Sometimes it’s still a struggle. Al Roker from the TODAY show interviewed Jodi Mindell, the director of the Sleep Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She gives tips for getting your 3-7 year old to bed. Click here to see the video from the TODAY show.
What do you do when your child fights going to bed?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

What would you do if….you met someone famous?

Carrie Harris, author

It’s “what would you do” day here at my blog. Just like the title says, what would you do if you met someone famous, popular, a celebrity? I took pictures.
My episode involved a book store, lots of books and an author book signing. I met Carrie Harris, author of Bad Hair Day a young adult book. I tried not to give the impression of being a Paparazzi. But I think I jumped to the front of the line to take pictures.

Carrie talked about her latest book, answered questions, and made the audience laugh. It’s always a treat to meet real life authors. When you pick up a copy of her book be ready for Zombie fun and humor. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m making a prediction based on what I’ve seen so far.

To learn more about Carrie, check out her website at www.carrieharrisbooks.com.

In the photo with Carrie is Natalie Aguirre fom the blog Literary Rambles. If you’re a writer check out the Literary Rambles blog where they spotlight children’s book authors, agents and publishing.

There you have it, my most recent brush with famous people. Whenever you have a chance, support your local author’s and bookstores. The book signing I attended was at Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor, MI; Where the famous, the up and coming and families hang out together and enjoy books.
What would you do if you met someone famous?

Friday, November 30, 2012

When to change your disciplinary methods – 5 sure signs

Photo credit: cnc1mc.blogspot.com

Wonder Woman, Batman, Fantastic 4… What do you have in common with these fictional Superheroes? You are super too. Sometimes in being super, we forget that we are only human. When it comes to disciplining the kids how successful do you think you are?
Grab a cup of coffee (or a diet coke) as we glide through our journey of parenting through the alphabet. This week we have approached the letter “D”. Let’s ponder for a minute, the question of “discipline.” How can you tell when it may be time to change your disciplinary tactics?
If you have experienced any of the 5 scenarios below (or anything similar) you just might need to tweak your best practices in discipline:
1.      You count your child down when giving him a task to complete; “Move your shoes out of the middle of the floor. You have three seconds- 3-2-1.” However your child is 11 years old. He’s counting with you. Not effective.
2.      You tell your child repeatedly to go to bed, but she keeps getting up. Exhausted after a long day, you fall into bed. She ends up tucking you in.
3.      You tell your child to clean his room or you’re going to take away his video game, but you get busy and never go back to see if it’s done.
4.      You use your spouse as a secret weapon – “If you don’t get that done now, I’m going to get daddy to help you and he won’t be as nice as I am.”
5.      Your child eats cereal for dinner after you told her eat the healthy meal you worked so hard to prepare.
During times when I am feeling tired, I let my guard down and I don’t follow through with the discipline I set in place. My super powers start to fail. It’s like kryptonite is somewhere near and I…just…can’t….move.
I’ve learned that when the discipline isn’t working for the kids, I need to take a break, recharge and look at things with a fresh eye. The next time a disciplinary situation arises I will get out my Wonder Woman lasso, my Batman utility belt and whatever the Fantastic Four use. Maybe all of these things together will give me strength to follow through.
How do you handle discipline with the kids?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What have you learned from past jobs?

Photo credit: mint.com

The younger me worked many jobs leading up to and through college. I believe there’s something to be learned with each experience. Here is a snapshot of my experience:
Photo credit: freep.com
In my very first job I worked as a police cadet. My group of about eight teens, was assigned to work at a senior citizen residence. We went to the grocery store with the residents and did errands for them. I learned to ride the city bus to work and how to manage money.

Photo credit: bridgespdx.com
The summer before starting college, I worked as a camp counselor at a camp for kids with disabilities. I discovered that kids with Downs Syndrome give great hugs. They taught me to laugh out loud and enjoy the moment.
Photo credit: worldofstock.com
At the end of summer camp, I worked as maintenance staff at the Michigan State Fair for two weeks (that was the duration of the fair). I was paired up with another girl and we monitored the trash in one of the buildings. On this job I learned to work with a partner and stay on task, even when no one was watching.

Photo credit: examiner.com

While working my first full time job, I moonlighted as a caterer’s assistant occasionally. I learned to make delicious stuffed mushrooms. One of my favorite and easy desserts to make was toasted coconuts sprinkled over vanilla ice cream.
Photo credit: susikochenundbacken.blogspot.com
What have you learned from work experiences over the years?

Monday, November 26, 2012

What you should know about Christmas shopping with a teen

Photo credit: truewoman.com
Black Friday shopping has been a tradition that I shared with a friend over the past few years. We would shop three or four hours then go out to breakfast. This year my teen son wanted to experience the “excitement” of Black Friday shopping. Since he received birthday money early, the tradition was changed and he and I set out to the stores.

After a couple of hours I discovered why I have never taken my son shopping with me before this year. Below are 5 reasons NOT to take your teen(s) Christmas shopping with you.

1.       They will constantly say, “Are you ready yet?” I was taking my time browsing through Christmas cards trying to select a box. My son went to a different department and came back and said, “You’ve been in this same spot for 17 minutes, can you just pick something?”

2.       They will claim they’ve been out “all day” after only two hours.

3.       They get hungry too soon.

4.       They will try to save their money and spend yours.

5.       They may leave you holding the bag(s)-literally. Luckily my son had less bags than I did, so he had room to carry mine too.
Six stores and three hours later, my son had purchased several items that he’d been wanting. It was time for breakfast.

Before we dove into our meal I bowed my head to say a quiet blessing. When I glanced up my son still had his head bowed. I thought, he’s saying a long blessing this time. When I looked closely I saw that he was texting, not praying.

During the drive toward home, my son laid his head back onto the head rest. I said, “You’re not getting sleepy are you? I have one more stop to make.”
“No, I’m just relaxing for a minute.”

I didn’t want my son to sleep yet. I wanted him to experience the full effects of early morning shopping. He survived Black Friday shopping and I survived shopping with a teen.
When everything was said and done, my son and I had a fun adventure shopping together, even if I had to visit a lot of sports stores. And electronics sections of the stores. I don’t think I will take both boys shopping at the same time, but use this as quality time with each child separately.

What has been your experience shopping with kids?

Friday, November 23, 2012

What happens when kids are cranky?

Photo credit: diminishinglucy.com.

Have you ever had one of those days where you wake up cranky? Well kids also fall prey to the cranky morning syndrome. This week as we peek through the lens of parenting through the alphabet we’ll look at the letter ‘c’ and a ‘cranky’ child.
My son became Cranky, The 7 Dwarfs cousin, when he asked me a question and I couldn’t understand what he was saying. He had his back to me as he poured a bowl of cereal. Here’s how the conversation went:

“Ma, do you have any money so I can get…mumble, mumble, mumble?”

“Do you have any money so I can get a bear clip?”
“What is a bear clip?” I asked puzzled.

“Never mind!”
Frustration had set in for him, but I pursued the conversation further.

“Tell me what you’re talking about.”
“I said can I get my HAIR CUT?”

“Ohhhh, sure you can go after school. I turned my back to him and laughed to myself.
My son’s crankiness didn’t last long. Teens seem to get cranky over any little thing then it passes over like a brief rain shower. I’m learning to relax and remain calm. It doesn’t always happen this way, but I’m a work in progress.

What happens when you experience a cranky child?