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, November 30, 2015

Muffins with Mom - Coping with holiday stress

Family dinner

As I pondered what to write for today’s post, I came across an article I’d written several years ago. I thought it was fitting to post it here since the Holiday season is upon us.

Deck the halls with lots of family, fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la. This was the opening line of my letter inviting family to my house for Christmas dinner. The disclaimer that followed told them: “Due to the state of the economy and the state of my wallet, Christmas dinner will look different this year.” I asked everyone to bring a dish to pass and I would supply the fun and games.

The holiday season can seem hurried with concerts to attend, Christmas programs to prepare and so forth.  And that’s just for the kids. Every committee, church auxiliary and board of directors wants your time too. However, there’s no need to go on strike for the Holiday.

Take a deep breath through your nose, hold it, then slowly breathe out through your mouth. Spirituality & Practice gives tips for de-stressing your Holidays. They say the baseline of stress reduction is to take care of your body- get regular exercise, get enough sleep, and limit the amount of caffeine, sugar and alcohol.

Another tip that I found easy to relate to was one that said, “Dose your day with humor.” My kids sometimes make this easy for me with the things that they say. I told my children to make a wish list of items they wanted for Christmas. My teen son went so far as to include prices next to his items (and they were pretty accurate). The ten or so items totaled somewhere in the vicinity of $500.00.

As we stood in WalMart the other day browsing around, my teen son asked me if he was going to receive everything on his list. I doubled over with laughter exercising stomach muscles I didn’t know I had. Once I regained my composure my son just smiled at me and said, “I take that as a no.”

In addition to using humor to de-stress, we must be realistic and know what we can manage during the holidays. Spirituality & Practice says, “Wrestle your perfectionism to the ground and don’t let idealized expectations press you into doing more than you can realistically manage.” It is ok to say no and to set limits. For me, the best part of the holiday is having family over and watching their faces as they wrestle over the best gag gifts.

Take time to notice little moments of beauty-a smile, a gracious act, a loving gesture. It may sound simple, but this does have a calming effect. “Practicing gratitude for these bits and pieces of daily life is a potent way to de-stress, and it’s contagious too.”

For a detailed list of de-stressing click here

What are your favorite tips for de-stressing during the holiday season?

Friday, November 27, 2015

Feel Good Friday – Giving Thanks

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The Thanksgiving Holiday is behind us, but there’s no reason why we can’t continue to give thanks. What are you thankful for? You can always find something to be thankful for. Today, I am thankful for my faith, family and friends.
I have challenged my family to find one thing each day to be thankful for. In this challenge, each of us will create a Gratitude Jar. Every day we will write a note listing something that we are grateful for.
After one year, we will dump the contents from the jar and count the slips of paper…counting our blessings. Instead of creating New Year’s resolutions that fall by the wayside in 2016, why not create a Gratitude Jar?
Below is a poem to give you a bit of encouragement.
Be Thankful
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to? 

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn. 

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement. 

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character. 

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons. 

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings. 

Author Unknown 
photo credit
Will you take on the challenge of giving thanks?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Muffins with Mom – Release a little “silly” into your day

Have you ever had a day where you felt like being a little silly? It was evident to me that my teen was enjoying his silly side when he left a voicemail message on my cell phone. This is the son who is away at college, I think he was missing home.
My son talked with a nasally voice as he left this message… “Hey Angie, its Bob calling from the office, I won’t be able to make it in tomorrow. Sorry about the late notice and inconvenience. My daughter has a recital, I just can’t miss it.”
The phone message did not end with my son’s fake work call. He did say, “Just playing” but he then continued talking as though I was on the phone with him.
“I just got off work and I’m bored. Let me tell you what happened to me today. I got a cold sore and don’t know how. The Blistix I have is not working, I guess it’s just a chapstick. So I had to spend my last $2 on a new Blistex.”
The message continued…
“Call me back when you get this message. I didn’t want anything, just calling to see how you were doing. I guess you’re sleep since its 12am there.”
When I finally listened to my son’s 2:30 minute message it was 5:30am. I thought about returning his call saying, “Hey Bob its mom, I guess you’re probably sleep since its 4:30am. Just calling to say hi and help you get your day started.”
Has your child ever helped you experience a little “silly”?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Muffins with Mom – Trapped in paradise – A teen’s tale

Anytime friends get together, it's like being in paradise.

Paradise, an ideal or idyllic place or state. One of our favorite family movies is Trapped in Paradise, starring Nicolas Cage.  In the movie Cage and his brothers were stuck in a town called Paradise. On a recent road trip, my teen son felt trapped with his Mama and her friends and that’s part of the reason he made reference to this title.
My son was not initially part of our girl’s night travel plans, but due to unforeseen circumstances, he became our traveling companion.  He packed his overnight bag, grabbed his spending money and we were on our way. A four hour car ride with four women, was not at the top of my son’s weekend plans.
The thrill for my son was the anticipation of finding a sports store where he could buy the latest “fit” (sports outfit) and boots. As we drove, I asked my son if he wanted some of the Canada Dry pop I packed for the trip. He made a grimace and said, “No, ginger ale is for older people. It doesn’t taste like anything, just bubbles.” I guess asking him to listen to a few hit songs from the 80’s would have been out of the question.
In order to accommodate my son traveling with us, one of my friends brought along an air mattress. As my son pumped up the mattress, he looked at me questioningly and said, “Ma, why is this like a bike air pump? What happened to the battery operated kind of mattress?” I turned away to hide my laugh.
The next morning at breakfast my son informed me that the air mattress deflated sometime during the night. He said he tried to turn over onto his side to get comfortable, but felt like he was rolling over on concrete. That is when exclaimed, “I feel like I’m trapped in paradise.” I asked my son to explain what he meant.
“I was glad to get out of the house, I had money in my pocket, but I didn’t expect this kind of adventure. I had to listen to everybody crack corny jokes and I feel like I had to shadow the adults.”
A teen's (window) shopping trip.
So there you have it, a teen’s version of being trapped in paradise.
Have you ever had an adventurous road trip with your child?





Friday, November 13, 2015

Fun Friday – All in a day’s work – An Embarrassing Moment

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Embarrassing moments seem to strike at the oddest times. I guess that’s what makes them embarrassing. I seem to collect these like a child collects rocks.

Most recently, I was at a department head meeting, sitting at a table surrounded by fifteen fellow co-workers. As I was listening to the guest speaker, my cell phone buzzed, I let the call go to voicemail.
A few minutes later, I played the message. The alarm company was calling to say there was a problem at my job location. I hurriedly pushed my chair back and stood to go into the hall. My foot didn’t cooperate with my energy flow.

As I backed away from the table, my open backed shoe slipped off my foot with a thud that seemed to echo through the room. A couple of people looked up, but I felt like all eyes were on me. I just smiled at the colleague next to me and said, “I might need that,” referring to my shoe.

I slipped my shoe back onto my foot and exited the room to make a phone call. When I returned, I walked with my head held high as though nothing happened and slid back into my seat.

How do you handle an embarrassing moment? Here are three things to try.

1.     Laugh at yourself – when you laugh, others will laugh with you and not at you.

2.      Admit you were embarrassed – accept that you were embarrassed, this is a way of starting a friendly conversation with the person next to you.

3.      Minimize the incident – this is along the same vein as, laugh at yourself. You can minimize the incident by saying something like, “it happens to the best of us.”

Have you experienced an embarrassing moment lately?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

Muffins with Mom – Hoodwinked

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I’ve been hoodwinked, bamboozled and hornswoggled. I’m not referring to the animated movie Hoodwinked, but all references lead to my teen son and his shenanigans. Has your child ever led you to believe one thing, only for you to discover something different? Here’s what I’m talking about…
My son has been pulling the wool over my eyes. He can accomplish more than I thought he could. I made this discovery on two recent occasions. The other day, I left the house before my son awoke for school. I called him at 7am to make sure he was up, his answer was “I already left the house.”
Now that my son is driving, he can get himself to school and not have leave early to ride the bus. However, this was a non-typical day…he was already out of the house by 7am. Amazing. So, my next question was, “Why did you leave so early?”
“I wanted to stop by the store.”
This is my child that I have to pull from a comatose like sleep to get him out the door for school, but he can rise early to go to the store. Hoodwinked!
Parent teacher conferences were held a couple weeks ago and that was the second time I was hornswoggled. My son’s grades were remarkable. They were the best he’s had so far in his high school history. And he accomplished this during football season. This leads me to believe that he’s been holding out on his abilities. Bamboozled and hornswoggled.
Now that my son has allowed me to peek through his window of abilities, I will have to raise the expectation bar a little higher.
Has your child ever displayed less than his potential? What did you do?


Friday, November 6, 2015

Fun Friday – All in a day’s work - The bird lady

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I am not a bird whisperer by any means, but my employee (Mary) has become our in house expert at handling birds. No, we do not work at a bird sanctuary, but a community center. Our facility is a place for physical activity, family gatherings and youth programs. Not for stray birds seeking to have a little fun.
It was a warm sunny day, when Mary called me from my office and said, “Angie, we’ve got another bird at the entry door.” It was the second time within two weeks that a bird had gotten into the vestibule area of our center. Stuck between the outer double doors and the double doors leading inside, the bird was hiding somewhere unseen.
I walked to the door, followed by Mary – dubbed by me as the bird lady. I gave her this name because she reminded me of the bird lady from the movie Home Alone 2. She had no fear of birds. In fact, since Mary had just scooted a bird out of the center a week prior, I should have let her lead the way.
Assuming the role of fearless leader, I was the first to walk through the double doors in search of the bird.  I peeked behind a couple of pillars, no bird. I looked up at the ceiling no bird. Then out of nowhere, the bird swooshed up in the air. I screamed and ran back through the door to our lobby area and told Mary, “You’re on your own from here.”
After Mary roared with laughter, she asked me to bring her a cloth so she could gently escort the bird back outside. I’m all about empowerment, so I let Mary take the lead on this situation and I followed her direction. Yes, empowerment, that’s what we’ll call it (wink). The bird was released and I was glad Mary was a part of our team.
Every day is different in our office, but there’s never a dull moment. Thanks team for all you do to make our place operate smoothly.
What has been your recent, All in a day’s work experience? Was it something that happened during your daily at home parenting?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - National Saxophone Day

November 6th is celebrated as National Saxophone Day. Take a moment to listen to a little sax music.

YouTube Video Credit: Jacob Merrill

Monday, November 2, 2015

Muffins with Mom – A family bonding moment

Family bonding
What happens when one of your children goes away to college? His sibling is left home with the parents. Some days it is really evident that my sixteen year old misses his brother. Like when he says, “I’m bored,” then wants to wrestle with me.
Now that football season has ended, my son has more time on his hands. The other day, after working late, then running errands, I arrived home ready to put my feet up and relax. No such thing occurred.
As soon as I slipped out of my shoes, I heard my son yelling from the other room, “Ma, come here.” When I opened his bedroom door, I saw that he held his dad captive, playing cards.
“It’s family night,” My son announced.
I smiled a fake smile as I said, “I don’t want to play, you guys go ahead.”
“No Ma, you have to play too.”
I slunk onto the corner of my son’s bed and picked up the cards he’d dealt. I released a deep sigh and organized the cards in my hand. When I looked up, my son was snuggled up next to his dad. He handed me his phone and said, “Take my picture, we’re bonding.”
My son snuggled closer as dad tried to pull away. He then looked at me and said, “This is what it looks like when it’s not your day to watch the kids and they want to bond.”
When I finished laughing, I found the energy to play cards a little longer. After all, if I refused to play, my son would snuggle up to me next and want to take a candid photo.
If his older brother was home, my son would not have the need to snuggle with me or his dad. Family bonding would still take place, it would just look a little different.
What was your most recent family bonding moment?