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.

Friday, September 28, 2012

It’s the great pumpkin – Cooking up memories

While grocery shopping I spotted several pallets of pumpkins. Jumbo pumpkins. The first thing that popped in my mind was, “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.” That’s exactly what was printed on the boxes containing the pumpkins.

Seeing all of those pumpkins reminded me of the Charles Schultz character, Charlie Brown. The TV show inspired by the Charlie Brown comic strip always reminded me that it was time for picking pumpkins, making pumpkin seeds, and Halloween.
It seems that just yesterday (really a few decades ago) my brother and I were carving a pumpkin at my grandmother’s kitchen table. Newspaper was spread open to help contain the mess that was forthcoming. The top was cut off for us and we dug out all of the insides, squishing it with our hands and picking out seeds.

My grandfather helped us clean the seeds, put salt on them and bake them. He also made pumpkin pie. I’d like for my kids to experience moments such as this. They like carving pumpkins, but they don’t like touching the fleshy part of the pumpkin. One son will put on gloves rather than touch the mush.
Mushiness aside, I came across a few recipes to try this year. The Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins looked like a great treat. The recipe is below (www.allrecipes.com/Recipe/Pumpkin-Chocolate-Chip-Muffins/Detail.aspx).

  • 3/4 cup white sugar

·         1/4 cup vegetable oil

·         2eggs

  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin

·         1/4 cup water

·         1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

·         3/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

·         1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

·         1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

·         1/4 teaspoon salt

·         1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

·         1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips


1.      Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease and flour muffin pan or use paper liners.

2.      Mix sugar, oil, eggs. Add pumpkin and water. In separate bowl mix together the baking flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. Add wet mixture and stir in chocolate chips.

3.      Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Oops - Pumpkin Soup again...I couldn't delete it (-:
Whether you venture out to the local pumpkin patch or just to the grocery, It’s the time of year for cooking up some memories.

What are your memories of the harvest season? Do you have a favorite recipe to share?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday – Go Green

What do you think of when you hear the words “Go Green?"

The Incredible Hulk
Michigan State University (Yea Team!)
  Protecting the environment


What tips can you give for teaching kids to go green for the environment?

Monday, September 24, 2012

All I need to know I learned in kindergarten

“All I need to know I learned in kindergarten” is a poem by Robert Fulghum. Last week I experienced that poem in real life. I was a substitute teacher in a kindergarten classroom.

I was a sub for this same teacher, Mrs. B., last year and it was a great day. I didn’t mind going back. I was only working a half day (afternoon), so I had a chance to converse with Mrs. B before she left for the day.

“You’ll have your hands full today,” she told me. My smile faded and my lip twitched as I said, “Oh.”

“But I have two Para Pros who will be here to help you,” she added.

Relief came back and we chatted a while longer. As I sat at one of the “kiddie” tables to review the lesson plan I bumped my knee on the edge of the table. That was after I attempted to sit in one of the “kiddie” chairs with fancy little armrests and my butt wouldn’t fit. I felt like Goldilocks taking over Baby Bears furniture.

As we talked, Mrs. B shared a story with me about how she explained to the class about how she had a mommy, but didn’t live with her. Mrs. B explained that she was also a mommy. One child asked her, “How many kids do you have?”

“Five,” was her reply.

Another little girl said, “Dang all of those kids came out of your private parts?” At that moment I had a pretty good idea what my day would be like.

Here is a summation of what I learned in kindergarten that day:
  • Everybody wants to be the leader (line leader, second in command, teacher’s helper). As I picked the kids up from lunch one boy said to me, “I’m second in command, I have to hold your hand.”
  • Most of the kids want to hold your hand or give you a hug.
  • Kids tell everything – “My sister tried to poke my day with a pencil. He told her to stop, but she wouldn’t listen.”
  • Be firm, but loving.
  • It’s ok to act silly sometimes.
Below are the things Robert Fulghum said he learned in kindergarten:

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life -
Learn some and think some
And draw and paint and sing and dance
And play and work everyday some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
Watch out for traffic,
Hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.

What lesson(s) have you learned long ago that still stick with you?

Friday, September 21, 2012

7 Embarrassing moments and how to learn from them

Out of money already?

We’ve all had them at some point in our lives…what are they? – Embarrassing moments? There are some moments that we want to forget about and never mention again. Then there are others that we eventually laugh about, and move on.

No matter what type of embarrassing moment you experience there is a lesson to be learned. Below is a list of embarrassing moments that I’ve come across over the years.

  1. While dancing (and driving) in your car, you look over and see the people in the car next to you laughing hysterically.

Lesson Learned:          Get tinted windows or laugh with the person who is laughing at you.

  1. You display your biggest, brightest smile while talking to someone, only to realize later that you had a piece of broccoli from lunch still in your teeth.

Lesson Learned:          Flossing your teeth is important.

  1. When my son was five month old a woman I hadn’t seen in a long time spotted me across a room. She waved excitedly and yelled, “When is the baby due?” I smiled and waved back at her as I said, “He’s five month old.” I started anew exercise regime the next day.

Lesson Learned:          Daily exercise is important.

  1. While shopping, you wait a little too long before going to the restroom. When you finally rush off in search of a restroom, you get there and burst into the wrong one. When did they put urinals in the women’s restroom?

Lesson Learned:          Don’t wait until the last minute.

  1. You’re the loudest one cheering on your child at a sporting event. It may sound something lie this – “That’s my baby; Come on hustle; Get that ball!” You’re not embarrassed, but your child may want you to stay home next time.

Lesson Learned:          Jump and cheer in silence, shake pom pons, anything except call your child’s name. Or…cheer loudly for the entire team so no one really knows who’s parent you are.

  1. You’re so tired that during prayer at church, when you close your eyes, you fall asleep.

Lesson Learned:          Try to get a little extra sleep at night, even if it means something doesn’t get done.

  1. Your umbrella blow inside out and you struggle to return it to normal as rain pounds down on you.

Lesson Learned:          Have a jacket with a hood as back up.

Grandma always said, “You can learn from other people’s mistakes.” I believe the same holds true for embarrassing moments.
What embarrassing situations have you experienced and learned from?   

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - What do you geek?

Today Wordless Wednesday has a few more words than usual because I came across some interesting information.
I found a book mark and a pamphlet at a local library (Milan, MI) that said “what do you geek?” Here is a google definition of geek: A person with an eccentric devotion to a particular interest. In other words what are you passionate about? Maybe you geek running, classical music or basketball.
I geek books – reading them, writing them and even the smell of new books (did I say that out loud?). Well, you get the idea. It goes without saying that I also geek my public library.
The pamphlet described the problem of struggling public libraries and asked us to “share whatever you geek. Share what your library does for you and your community.” Visit www.geekthelibrary.org and “get your geek on.”

So...what do you geek?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Once upon a parent – Why you need to be aware of how you communicate with your child

Image courtesy of themojocompany.com.

Once upon a time in a foreign land called parenthood a mom (me) discovered that kids live on a planet all their own. There is sometimes a language barrier between what a parent says to kids and how kids interpret what they hear.
Below are statements made to children and a view of their interpretation of the statements.

You say:           If you don’t clean your room I’m going to make you stay home from football practice.

Child hears:     Yes! Now I don’t have to run a million laps during practice.

You say:           If you can’t keep your bed made, maybe you don’t need a bed.

Child hears:     I like sleeping on the floor. My sleeping bag hasn’t been used in a while.

You say:           You tell a misbehaving child, “Go to your room.”

Child hears:     Ok, I can play the Wii/Xbox, watch TV.

You say:           When issuing a punishment you say, “This is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you.”
Child hears:     Ummm, I don’t think so.


Along my travels through parenthood I’m learning that giving clear, specific directions to my kids helps both of us to be less frustrated. It also gets us a little closer to our happily ever after.
As we’ve all discovered, everyone learns differently. Some people are auditory learners while others are visual. I have one of each in my boys. I can verbally tell one son a list of three things to do and he’ll get them done. Slowly, but he will get them done.

My other son is more of a visual learner. He has to have a written list of his tasks and he may forget where he put the list before it’s completed. Everyday is a different ecperience. In our house we function somewhere between Once upon a time and Happily ever after.
Have you experienced challenges when it comes to communicating with your child? What are your tips for effective communication?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Birth of a teenager – What you should know about living with a teen

I’m expecting – no I’m not pregnant. I’m expecting a teenager. My son who is 12 ¾ is turning 13 years old in a couple of weeks. I will soon have two teenagers in my house. I don’t know whether I should celebrate or run away screaming like the women in horror movies.
I’ve always heard that when kids hit the teen years, more challenges begin. Below are a few things I’m learning about teens:

1.      They want their own space – they don’t want you to enter their bedroom without knocking. I don’t remember seeing either one of my kids name on a bill (sarcasm), but I go ahead and humor them and honor their privacy within reason.

2.      Teens want you to love them – just don’t show it around their friends or anywhere in public. Anywhere outside of our house is considered a no hug zone.

3.      If you happen to like one of the songs that they listen to, don’t let them see you dancing to it or singing the words. They become distraught, discombobulated and any other kind of “dis” you can think of.
As I was writing this post I remembered a similar article I’d written for annarbor.com last year about teens requiring a special set of rules. The Teen Commandments below were born.

·         Thou shalt not slam any doors…car, bedroom, cabinets, etc.

·         Thou shalt not use the word “why” unnecessarily…why do I have to do it?, why can’t my brother do it? Why do I have to clean my room? Why do you want the house clean so badly?

·         Thou shalt not use thy mothers name in vain…Ma, Ma, Momma!!! I can’t find my school ID! Ma, Ma, Ma???

·         Thou shalt not return empty containers (cereal boxes, cookie packages, etc.) to the cabinets or fridge.

I stopped at four commandments to save room for any unforeseen circumstances that may arise, requiring the need for a new commandment. As I searched  for other sympathizers of the teen struggle, AKA other parents of teens, I came across an interesting article. The article was titled, Ten Commandments of parenting teenagers.
Some of those commandments include:

·         Praise in public, criticize in private

·         When they really screw up is when they need you most.

·         Yes, you do have to tell them things a thousand times. Stop counting and get over it.

·         Remind yourself, they won’t be teenagers forever. One day you will look back on these years and laugh. Maybe.

What advice would you give to parents raising teenagers?


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wordless Wednesday – What are you loving?

A stroll through Plymouth, MI

I’d like to borrow fellow blogger Catherine Denton’s phrase again this week and ask, “What are you loving” at this moment?

A park in Plymouth

War Memorial in the park

Fall Festival – Plymouth, MI

Add a photo or leave a comment on what you're loving at this moment.

Monday, September 10, 2012

What to do when your kids need extra attention - 5 Signs that you need to pray

First day of school - I know my mom is taking pictures so I refuse to turn around. My friend saw her too.

Sometimes we wait until we feel we are at the end of our rope before we call on the Lord. Change that strategy. Now that the first week of school is under our belt, I feel the need to send up a few extra requests.
Have you ever read the picture book First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg? Dad goes to wake his daughter for the first day of school, but she is hiding under the covers. We later discover that his daughter is a teacher who is nervous about starting at a new school.

My first day jitters were about my son starting school with a teacher new to his school and the mischief I know he can get into. My first day jitters were cause for prayer. This led me to also ponder other instances where prayed is needed.
5 signs that you need to pray…

1.      At the end of the first day of school your son’s teacher comes up to you and says, “I took his cell phone. The alarm rang during silent work.”

2.      Your friend asks you, “How is your other son doing?” You respond with, “who?” Poor boy gets no attention because you are focused on the other child.

3.      You only work part-time outside the home, but you still feel overworked.

4.      You told your child to stop bouncing a tennis ball in the house. He does it one last time and shatters the glass door on your china cabinet.

5.      You ask your teen to cut the grass, but he also cuts the water hose that was not properly put away. You discover this when you ask, “Why didn’t you cut the grass on the other side of the house?” His response, “The lawn mower stopped working.”

 Has your child ever done anything that caused you to pray a little harder?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Feel Good Friday – Random Acts of Publicity

I am joining author Darcey Pattison in celebrating this week as Random Acts of Publicity. The idea is to link, like (Facebook), start discussions about a friend’s book or book you want to spread the word about. Today I’d like to shout out a word of acknowledgment and kudos to my friend Karen Simpson for her book, Act of Grace.
Karen Simpson
Karen dedicated many years to the birth of her first novel, Act of Grace, and now it is here. Her book is a young adult novel about an African American girl who saves the life of a Ku Klux Klansman. Here is a view from the back cover of the book:
Why would Grace Johnson, a bright, African American high school senior, save the life of a Ku Klux Klansman named Jonathan Gilmore? That question hovers over Grace’s hometown of Vigilant, Michigan, and few people, black or white, understand her actions-especially since rumor has it that many years ago, a member of the Gilmore family murdered several African-American residents. And if Grace had her way, she would not reveal the circumstances that led her to make what some deem to be a foolish sacrifice and an act of treason against her race.

Karen got the idea for her book from an actual event that occurred in June 1996. There was an organized Ku Klux Klan rally in Ann Arbor, MI. An African American girl jumped on top of a white man to save him from an angry crowd of people.

A review on Goodreads stated the following, “I loved this book. And our book club discussed it with the author via Skype! She’s an awesome lady! This book will be a best seller!”
To read more about Karen and Act of Grace, check out Karen’s website at www.karensipmsonwrites.com.

Look at the awards Act of Grace has already received:
  • 2012 Independent Publisher Silver Medal Award for Visionary Fiction.
  • 2011 Moonbeam Award - Gold Medal winner for Young Adult Spirituality
  • 2009 Winner of the Speculative Literature Foundation Older Writers Grant
Way to go Karen!

Who is your favorite author or the title of a good book that you've read recently? Shout it out.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday – What to include in your Parenting Took Kit

Cell phone - To communicate with your kids…even when they’re in the same house with you.


Headphones - To tune out kids when they start complaining.


For those days when kids try to push you to the edge.


Bubble Bath - For days when kids try to push you to the edge.



To keep from going over the edge on stressful days.


What would you include in your Parenting Tool Kit?


Monday, September 3, 2012

National Chicken Month – How will you celebrate? 4 tips to get you started

National Chicken Month - photo courtesy Metro Parent Magazine

I came across an article in the MetroParent magazine (August 2012) that indicated September is National Chicken Month. I don’t believe my kids read this article. However, I believe they inadvertently honored this month by living out the story of The Little Red Hen.
As mother hen, I have two teenage boys who occasionally complete their chores without being asked. Rare occasions. The majority of the time I have to beg them to get things done. The scenario plays out as follows:
“Who will help me fold the towels?” I asked

“Not me,” said Joshua.
“I did it last time,” said Donovan.
“Surely you will,” I said to Joshua. “You use more towels in one week than Kohl’s has sales.”
“Donovan is better at it than I am.”
“Then I will fold them myself.”
As the story goes, there were other tasks that needed to be completed and no one wanted to help. Until finally…it was dinner time and the kids wanted something from me.

“Can we order pizza for dinner?” Joshua asked in his wee baby bear voice. And that’s a whole different fairy tale.

“I think not my child. As head of this hen house I’ve had to wash, dust, clean toilets and fold towels. I have not had a vacation, the pay is low and you have not helped with anything.”
“Can we order pizza tomorrow?”
Obviously my way of communicating was not effective. The words were coming out of my mouth, but they were not being interpreted as I hoped. The chores were eventually done, although it took longer than I wanted.

Since learning about National Chicken Month, the kids and I have decided to celebrate. How can you join in? Below are a few ways.

  1. Read a book (chicken themed) with your child – Chicken Little, The Little Red Hen or Big Chickens (Leslie Helakoski-local author-Michigan).



  1. Try a new chicken recipe. I made Sesame Chicken for the first time thanks to a recipe listed in Metro Parent. Yum. There were also recipes listed for Corn Flake Crusted Chicken, Chicken Enchiladas, Soba Salad with Chicken & Cabbage and a few others.


  1. Make a chicken craft – hand print chicken craft (see below).



  1. Make up a chicken story – for older kids challenge them to create their own story or have them create a different ending to a selected story.

Do you have a chicken story to share or an idea for celebrating National Chicken Month?