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, September 29, 2014

Muffins with Mom – F.R.O.G. – Fully Rely On God

F.R.O.G. - Fully Rely On God
It was Sunday school promotion day at church. This is the time when the students move on to the next class level after reaching the maximum age for their current class. The students are called to the front of the church one at a time and their teacher says a few words of encouragement and introduces them to their next teacher.
The students receive a “goodie bag” stuffed with small biblical related trinkets. The bag they received this year contained a book mark, a pencil, a card with words of encouragement and a friendship bracelet with the acronym F.R.O.G. on one side of the bracelet. On the other side was the engraved explanation – Fully Rely On God.

Those four little words on a bracelet carried a strong message. I began to wonder, were those words meant for me? Although I was one of the teachers handing out the bags, I did not see the contents until the morning of the promotion. I looked at the bracelet again, F.R.O.G. Have I lived by this phrase?
There have been plenty of moments along my parenting journey where I needed to initiate operation F.R.O.G. A number of years ago while going through a though a financial struggle, I remember my son calling me at work in a panic.

“Ma they turned the power off.” 
“Ok, I replied when did it go off?”

“It just happened, and I was in the middle of my video game, couldn’t they have waited 10 minutes?”
I couldn’t help but to laugh as I choked back a tear. He didn’t know that we owed $1200.00 to the energy company and couldn’t pay it. F.R.O.G.

The power remained off for nine days and it was the hottest summer our area had experienced in a long time. We made it through, but not on our own. F.R.O.G.
That day of Sunday school promotion was a reminder to me that no matter what situations arise, I am not alone.

Can you think of a situation where you just felt like throwing up your hands and saying this has got to get better? That was the time to Fully Rely On God.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Feel Good Friday – Letter from a teacher –inspiring words for a parent

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Have you ever felt like parenting is hard work and you wonder when you will see the rewards? It could happen by a child saying I love you when you least expect it or completing chores without being asked. For my co-worker that feeling of euphoria happened for her daughter through a letter from her son’s teacher.
This is how it happened (reprinted with permission)…
Dear Claire,
I am Joseph’s science teacher. I wanted to share with you something that happened in science class today.
As you may know, we made paper airplanes so that the kids could practice measuring mass and distance. We made a huge “landing strip” out in the hall where the kids could fly their planes. I told the children that if a plane were to come close to them, they should duck, if possible.
Today during Joseph’s maiden voyage, his plane sailed toward a special needs student and instead of ducking, he caught it. Although the plane would have gone a bit farther, Joseph did not complain, but tried for a second time. His second go round, his plane didn’t go quite as far as the first, but still Joseph didn’t say anything negative.
Joseph looked over at the special needs student and saw that he was crying because he caught Joseph’s plane mid-flight and affected its flight. Joseph said to him, “It’s ok. My plane wouldn’t have gone much further anyway.” His comment made the other student feel so much better.
I wanted you to know what a great boy you have raised; one that has such kindness, compassion, and decency and at a young age.
Have a wonderful evening…

Claire used to babysit for my boys, now she is raising a son of her own and experiencing those special parenting moments.
When have you experienced that euphoric parenting moment?



Monday, September 22, 2014

Muffins with Mom – A Cinderella story as told by a writer mama

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Like Cinderella preparing for the ball, I prepared for a writer’s conference. My coach awaited, disguised as a Honda CRV. The horsemen were nowhere to be found so reins were left in my hands.
Before I could focus on the glamorous atmosphere of the conference, there were chores to be done at our humble abode. Who would scrub the floors, wash the dishes, and take out the trash?

Certainly I wasn’t expected to do it all. It would have to be one of the evil step sisters, my son.
I wrote a list of chores on a scroll for my teen son to complete. All I asked for in addition to this was a kiss before my departure. The response I got was, “I’m too tired.”

Whump I whacked my son with my hand, but he did not turn into a frog. My magic must have dried up. There was no time to waste trying to persuade an uncooperative teen to see things my way.
My glass slippers
As I rushed to the carriage car with my bags, I dropped one of my glass slippers gym shoes. My son ran after me with the shoe in his hand. As he graciously handed me the shoe he said, “Did you make breakfast?”

I smiled, blew him a kiss and said, “See you in a couple of days.”
In route to the conference location, I changed into my glass slippers gym shoes, which were perfect for my journey ahead. It was a five hour drive, a 20 minute ferry ride, then a one mile walk to my final destination. When I arrived, every effort in preparation for this conference was well worth it.

I was transformed from do it all, super mom, chauffer to writer with a purpose. No floors to scrub, no dishes to wash and no trash to be taken out. I was Cinderella for a weekend.
At the stroke of 12:00 noon on Sunday, I began to pack away my laptop, spiral notebooks and ink pens. Although my weekend was ending, I would return home transformed – rejuvenated.

What is your Cinderella story?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Fun Friday – Picture Day

School has been in session a couple of weeks for my son and already it is picture day. My teen son doesn’t like to smile in photos. He likes to have the tough guy, football player face. One morning as we were preparing for the day, I told my son, “Let’s take a mother/son photo.” The photo above is what I got…resistance.
The photo experience my son and I shared was just a prelude or foreshadowing of what was to come. Picture Day at his school. While at work, I received a text from my son that read, “lol they forced me to smile.”

Sitting at my desk, I burst out laughing and responded with, “I tried to get you to practice taking a photo with me.”

My son later told me that the photographer clicked four photos and couldn’t get him to smile. She then resorted to calling over a couple of his friends who got him to laugh. My son tried to turn away from the camera to laugh, but another photographer held his knees in place. After double teaming him, one of the photographers finally captured my son’s picture.
After the struggle and tireless effort on behalf of the photographers to capture a memorable moment…my son forgot to take the photo envelope containing the payment. Fortunately he was able to turn in the payment the next day. I can only wonder whether the photographer made this exception because of the extra work she put in.

My son’s photo escapade reminded me of a picture book by an author friend Deborah Diesen. Her book is titled, Picture Day Perfection and is illustrated by Dan Santat. It’s a fun book, well worth a read. I liked the surprise ending. I’ll have to wait to see how my son’s photo day ended.
What has been your experience with picture day?

My son smiled here because he was successful in cutting me out of the photo.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

Muffins with Mom – Diary of a football mom

Have you ever wanted to take a peek inside someone’s diary or journal? Here’s a sample of what one of my journal entries might look like during football season.
September 11, 2014               9:30pm

We just got home from Joshua’s football game. On the car ride home, we discussed the game. Joshua had 21 tackles and/or assists, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. I know the stats because he told me. This season he is playing middle linebacker and playing on the special teams as well as offense and defense.
I’m glad Joshua has found something that helps to keep him focused and that he is excited about. This is a motivator for him to also keep his grades up.


What does football season look like for a parent?
It’s high school football season. For my family this means the creation of our very own ‘special teams.’ Many days I have to call the plays, pass the ball and play the role of Free Safety (the last line of defense) all in the realm of parenting.

As part of the kick return team, I catch the ball (assignments to be completed) and run with it. If hubby can’t pick up our son from football practice, I call in my mom and hand off this assignment to her. She is happy to do this, but includes a play of her own (stopping for pizza after practice).
On game days, I rush home after work and change into my team spirit attire, which includes a t-shirt or hoodie with the school logo. I pack my stadium chair into the car…but never use it. I end up standing along the fence where I can jump and yell without obstructing anyone’s view.

During football season I don’t plan anything for Thursday evenings, this is game day and our team bonding time. On the drive home after the game, my son and I recap the events of the game.
“What did you think about this game?” I ask him.

“Some people didn’t play hard.”

He proceeds to tell me who played hard and who didn’t cover their position.
As I close my journal at the end of the season, I have usually gained more knowledge. I know a little more about football and my son’s passion.

As I stand along the fence near the 20 yard line wrapped in a blanket on cold nights, I cheer and shout. Not because I have to, but because I want to.
My son #20 - high school football

What is your child’s passion? How do you encourage him or her?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fun Friday - 6 ways to celebrate International Chocolate Day

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It's here...International Chocolate Day. This international celebration is observed on September 13th. What will you do to celebrate?

Below are 6 ways to celebrate International Chocolate Day.

1.  Eat strawberries dipped in chocolate.

2.  Watch the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

3. Play the Chocolate Hunt game - have a plate for each player. Fill the plate with whipped cream, then hide pieces of a chocolate bar in the whipped cream. Players keep their hands behind their back and use their mouth to find the hidden chocolate. The player who finds the most chocolates is the winner.

4.  Make a chocolate dessert

5.  Visit a chocolate  factory - in Ann Arbor, MI there is a chocolate boutique that sells gourmet chocolate (Schakoload Chocolate Factory). In Chelsea there is the Morely Candy Factory which is a large maker of chocolates and offers tours of their factory.

6.  Test your family's knowledge with chocolate trivia"
     a.  When was chocolate introduced in the United States?
     b.  True or false - one plain chocolate candy bar has more protein than a banana
For more trivia questions click here.

6a.  In 1765 when cocoa beans were brought from the West Indies to Dorchester, Massachusetts.
  b. True

What will you do to celebrate International Chocolate Day? Have a little fun with it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Words of Wisdom Wednesday - Jim Carey's Inspiring Message and other quotes

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Have you ever heard the saying, "You have to visualize your success?" Below are a few quotes to start you on your path of visualization.

"It's never too late to be what you might have ben."      George Eliot

"Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right."  Henry Ford

"Failure is not falling down, but refusing to get up."  Chinese Proverb

Now for an inspiring message from actor Jim Carey on the secret of life.

Go after your dream!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Muffins with Mom – 7 things to do when your power goes out at home

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It was 7:30 pm on Friday when I realized I left my laptop at work. I couldn’t go through the night without it by my side. My fifteen year old son hopped in the car with me to drive across town before the center closed at 8pm.
As we drove, the sky became dark and the wind picked up. Trees were swaying, leaves were blowing and our car drifted a bit with a gust of wind. A bolt of lightning illuminated the sky and the road ahead of us.  I had to swerve slightly to avoid a small tree branch in the road. This should have been an indication of what was to come.

Upon returning home, we thought the storm had subsided, until the power went off. We looked out front and the neighbors across the street had power. We looked out a back window and the neighbors across the way had power. There was no power for our street and the houses immediately behind us. I sat in the car and read using the dome light a while, then finally went to bed early.

What do you do when there’s a power outage at your house? Find something to occupy your time. The power was still out the next day, but luckily I was already planning to attend a writer’s meeting for a couple of hours. However, as the sun began to go down, so did my hope of the power being restored. I packed my laptop, phone, phone charger and writing materials and head to the Tim Horton’s restaurant near our home. That is where I parked myself for the next couple of hours.

When I returned home my son asked, “Where have you been?”

It’s a good thing it was dark so he couldn’t see the expression on my face, the one with a raised eyebrow. Surly he had gotten our roles confused, but I responded to his question anyway.

“I went to Tim Horton’s.”
“Why didn’t you take me?”

“Because you were outside when I left,” I said.
He continued to talk, but I tuned him out and prepared for a restful sleep. I opened the bedroom windows for a breeze, opened blinds slightly in hope for a little moonlight. The last update I heard was that there were thousands of people without power and it would not be restored for another day.

It was time to come up with a plan. By this time we had my mom’s generator, but could plug in a limited amount of items. So what would we do the next day, all day? Below is a list of 7 things you can do in the event you lose power at home.
1.      Visit friends and relatives you haven’t seen in a while.

2.      Look to see which neighbors still have power and go visit them.

3.      Use this as an excuse to have dinner out.

4.      Visit your local establishments and use their power source.

5.      Wander around a bookstore.

6.      Cuddle with someone.

7.      Play Uno or some other card game by candle light (just don’t play to close to the candle).

What are your suggested things to do during a power outage?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fun Friday - Back to school funnies

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The kids are back in school why not share a few laughs to start the school year?

YouTube video credit: The Holderness Family
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Because of who you are - Vicki Yohe

Today I will let this video provide words of inspiration. Hope this speaks to you as it does for me each time I hear it.

YouTube video courtesy of Dereist TV

Monday, September 1, 2014

Muffins with Mom – The kickoff

Before I dive into today’s blog post, I want to wish everyone a Happy Memorial Day. This is a day to honor the memory of military personnel for their service and sacrifice. If you know of someone who has served in the military, take a moment to extend a word of gratitude.
Now for the story…

It’s the time of year where parents are kicking into gear for the start of another school year. For my family, it’s the kickoff of high school football season; And for learning lessons on the gridiron. As  parents prepare for back to school there is always a list of supplies to purchase. Along with the traditional list of school supplies, I have added:

·         Pay sports participation fee

·         Purchase a school t-shirt (for me)

·         Sign up to volunteer or bring snacks

What does your fall kick off look like?
It was a warm August evening as my mom and I stood along the fence during my son’s junior varsity football game. It was the first game of the season. We followed number 20 with our eyes as much as we could, but mostly we listed for the announcer as he said, “that was Verges on the tackle.”

My fourteen-year-old son has played football since he was eight or nine years old, but I am still learning the role of the positions he plays. I know that his position as a Linebacker is viewed as a position of toughness. To be an excellent Linebacker one must be quick, tough, intelligent and powerful (I got that information from Google).
Beyond being tough, powerful and intelligent, I am most impressed by what my son is learning through football. He is focused, learning leadership skills, and doing something that brings him joy. As a defensive captain, other players look to him for guidance.

I remind my son that a leadership role is not something to take lightly. A phrase that I share with him often is, “to whom much is given, much is required.” He is learning that his leadership role goes beyond the football field.
Sometimes I feel like I have to play the role of a Linebacker as a parent. I have to be tough, a quick thinker and intelligent enough to outsmart a teen. As my son lines up for the kickoff on the field, I align my thoughts for the challenges and victories the school year will bring.

How are you preparing for the kickoff of a new school year or new chapter in your life?