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, February 29, 2016

Muffins with Mom – 3 lessons learned about preparedness

A walking tour

My journey to a conference began on a brisk winter morning. The conference was taking place four hours north of everywhere. It was in a town where snowmobiles, deer crossing signs and fudge, were the norm. It was not my first visit to this great northern town, but was I prepared for this experience?

In preparation for the conference, I reviewed the pre-conference brochure and made a mental note of the break-out sessions I wanted to attend. Since I was traveling alone, I packed accordingly – more than I needed to take because space was not an issue. I packed four pair of shoes – workout shoes, casual shoes for attending sessions, heels for the banquet, boots for the banquet in case the shoes didn’t look suitable and another pair of casual shoes.

It was on day two of the conference that I discovered that none of the shoes I brought would be suitable for one of my sessions – the Walkability Tour. If one (me) were to read carefully, one would notice the word “walk” surrounded by the other letters in the word “walkability.” You see, the Walkability Tour was an outside walk through snow for a mile or two, session.

I put on the warmest shoes I had, pulled tightly on the drawstrings of my hooded coat and boarded the bus with my colleagues. As we walked, talked and made observations, I walked in the tracks of those in front of me to avoid slushy puddles. At the end of the tour, I walked away more knowledgeable than when I started.

Not the proper shoes for walking through snow.

In addition to obtaining information that can be applied to my job, I learned a few lessons about being prepared.

1.      Always read instructions, directions, and expectations thoroughly – know what you’re getting into ahead of time.

2.      Have an alternate plan – if things don’t go as you thought they would, regroup and come up with plan B. This may require being flexible.

3.      Don’t sweat the small stuff – sometimes a problem is not as big as we make it out to be. We just have to put things in perspective and start with the smaller picture. I like the saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

Overall, the Walkability Tour was a great experience. I was glad that I ventured out despite my lack of preparedness. After that experience I guess I am somewhat of a gladiator (braved the cold, slayed dragons and didn’t get frostbite in my toes). That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

Prepared for a good meal.

Have you ever experienced a situation that you were not prepared for?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Feel Good Friday – 7 ways to care for yourself

Spa Day - A glass of Orange Cinnamon water
Have you ever felt like you were stuck in a daily grind of work, running errands, parenting…repeat day after day? If your answer is yes, you need a little me time. Do something you enjoy every day.
There are many things that you can do to take care of yourself, but here is a list of seven ways to get you started.
1.      Begin your day by meditating.

2.      Spend time talking to family or friends – sometimes just a short conversation with a friend can ease the tension of a long day.

3.      Exercise – this may not be thought of as a fun activity, but it leaves your body feeling healthy and rejuvenated.

4.      Write in a journal – there’s always something therapeutic about putting your thoughts and feelings on paper.

5.      Take time to play – forget about your to do list for a short time and play a game with friends or family.

6.      Make an appointment with yourself – actually schedule time on your calendar for yourself. Power down your computer, put your phone on vibrate and do something you like to do.

7.      Pamper yourself – schedule a spa day or pamper yourself at home. What will it be a bubble bath with soft music playing, a deep tissue massage or perhaps an exfoliating facial with warm steam?
Don’t let the daily grind put you in a rut. Take care of yourself and your health. What would you add to the list of ways to care for yourself?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Friday, February 19, 2016

Fun Friday – Love Your Pet Day – 3 ways to show love to your pet

Woof, woof…that’s doggie talk for it’s Love Your Pet Day. Whether you have a dog, cat, turtle or some other pet, February 20th is celebrated as Love Your Pet Day. How can you celebrate this holiday? Below are three easy ways to celebrate.

1.      Pampering – show your pet a little extra pampering.
2.      Treats – provide special treats (to eat) for your pet or a new toy.
3.      Playdate – schedule a playdate for your pet

I believe our puppy, Diamond, knew Love your pet day was coming up. She was ready for a pampering day. It happened while I was away at a conference for work. Diamond did something out of the ordinary.

Just as there are boundaries for the kids, the same holds true for our pet. She is not allowed in my bathroom, my son’s room, nor on the couch. My son was in awe when he walked into the room and saw Diamond. He called me and said, “Ma, Diamond is curled up on the couch chillin’. She didn’t even move when she saw me.”

My son thought the sight was quite funny. He would rather see Diamond on the couch rather than snooping around his bedroom. In my absence, I guess Diamond was taking over the house. I told my son that when Diamond can help out a little more around the house, maybe she can sit on the couch. Until then it’s off limits.

Diamond’s real owner, my older teen, needs to visit her and share in the joys of raising a pup. Until then we’ll have to rely on face time to include him in the celebration. As for Diamond’s celebration she seems to like to enjoy lying at my feet under a throw blanket as I work from the desk top computer. So that will be a part of her pampering, as well as a few extra treats.

YouTube Video Credit: Michael Rubino

What ideas do you have for celebrating Love Your Pet Day?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Wordless Wednesday - Random Acts of Kindness Day

Random Acts of Kindness Day is celebrated on February17th. Will you participate?

YouTube Video
Show three people you don't know, a random act of kindness today.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Muffins with Mom –A child’s visit to the doctor

As I sat with my teen son at an appointment, we reminisced about a doctor’s visit he had at ten years old. Here’s the story…
My son recently had his annual physical. I had forgotten about the questions the doctor asks or I would have prepared my son and myself. But what ten year old can’t speak for himself? The doctor asked, “How many times a day do you brush your teeth?” I looked away because I knew the answer and it wasn’t good. There was a pregnant pause as my son stared at the doctor with a smirk on his face.
I finally blurted out, “One time a day.” The ugly truth was out, I didn’t follow through to make sure my son brushed as he should. Although I tell him repeatedly to brush, I don’t stand over him to be sure it is done (clearly this is what he needs).
The doctor tried her hand at reasoning with my son. She said, “You have to brush on a regular basis. What if you go to school and someone says you have stinky breath?” My son softly replied, “It doesn’t matter what other people think of me.”  I silently thought to myself, you’re on your own doc.
I’m glad my son has a positive self-image, but sometimes I wish he would learn when to use it. The volley of questions and answers continued. “Do you eat fruits and vegetables?” the doctor asked.
“Yes, when my mom gives them to me.”
Oh, sure the ball was back in my court now. Of course I provide fruits and vegetables. My son even knows the number of servings he should have each day.
“Do you drink milk?” She continued.
“Only when I eat cereal.”
The doctor looked at me and suggested giving the kids a multivitamin daily. “Chewable vitamins are sufficient and they taste pretty good too,” she said looking at my son.
“Can I get the gummie ones?” my son said with a wide grin.
I’m sure the doctor wasn’t sad to see us leave. She had experienced my daily challenge first hand. My kids understand what it means to be healthy. The challenge is getting them to practice healthy living (eating balanced meals, brushing teeth regularly, etc.).
A fun website for teaching kids about health and nutrition is Nourish Interactive The site has interactive games that teach kids about the food pyramid. It also tells them how to balance eating and activity. There are individual sections for kids, parents and educators.
If you have a picky eater, Help Guide lists tips for introducing new foods to your child. The list included: present only one new food at a time, serve new foods with favorite foods to increase acceptance, make it fun: cut the food into unusual shapes. Be patient. Studies show that, “it takes the average child 8-10 presentations of a new food before he or she willingly accepts it.”
Whether its a well-child visit to the doctor or trying to get your child to eat veggies, teaching kids to practice good health can be a challenge. Tips from the experts and a little patience seem to be the ingredients to meet the challenge head on.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Fun Friday – Family and friends say the darndest things

Do you have friends or family members who just let words leak from their mouths without any filters? Today I’m sending out love to my family and friends for their say anything, quirky, weirdness. 

When my brother asked me to meet him after work the other day he said, “Where do you want to eat…Wendy’s or Burger King?” As we sat down I noticed the salt and pepper color of his beard – more salt than pepper. Likewise, he glared at the threads of grey intertwined along the edges of my hairline.

Shortly thereafter, words spilled from my brother’s mouth, “You’ve got a lot of grey.”

“So, do you and you’re younger than me. So there,” I spewed the words back at him.

My brother and I wanted to take a picture to capture our special moment together. We struggled with our phones to take a selfie from an angle that would make us both look thinner. A young guy in a booth near us came over and asked, “Would you like me to take the photo?” He took the photo…we didn’t look thin. We continued taking selfies until we finally agreed on one that captured our smiling faces.

After posting the photos on Facebook, my 20 something niece commented, “Is that my day with all that grey? Lol.” A few seconds after that comment she posted another that said, “Aunt Angie, is that grey I see in your hair too?”

Leave it to family members to state the obvious.

While at a celebration for someone I’ve worked with for years, I also saw people who I had not seen in a long time. It was standing room only, as I munched on hors d’oeuvres and chatted with an old friend.

As soon as I put a spoon full of something in my mouth, my friend leaned in and whispered, “Did you decide to let your grey grow out?” Not able to speak at the moment, I just shook my head and mumbled, “No.”

Once I regained use of my voice I told her, “Actually, my bangs were not cooperating, so I just pulled them away from my face.” I assured her that I still plan to cover the grey for a while longer.
Do you have family or friends who say things unfiltered?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wordless Wednesday - Make a Friend Day

Make a Friend Day is celebrated on February 11th. This is a great opportunity to make a new friend and to celebrate the friends already in your life.

YouTube Video Credit: Starfighter

Monday, February 8, 2016

Muffins with Mom – 3 things you need to know about pet ownership

A puppy in search of food
Has your child ever come up to you and said, “I want a pet.” This almost happened at my house. I say almost because my son didn’t say this phrase to me. However, he did mention these words to his dad. And like magic, a dog appeared at our house…well not quite magic, but I am now part pet owner.
The last time I was a pet owner was when dinosaurs roamed the earth or when I was about 12 years old. My kids never owned a pet when they were younger because they were always involved in after school activities. By the time we finished dinner and homework, I was tired. I stand corrected, the boys did have one low maintenance pet, a goldfish. It survived for a while.
Now that my son is older, I guess he feels that he is ready to be responsible or at least he must have convinced his dad of this. It was a few days after Christmas when Diamond arrived, looking up at me innocently with a plea in her eyes that said can I stay? Diamond is still here and her owner has gone back to school several hundred miles away. This is how I became part pet owner.
There are three things you should know about pet ownership before you take the plunge.
1.      Owning a pet is a big responsibility – choose a pet that fits your lifestyle. It you’re not home much, perhaps you want a pet that doesn’t require a lot of attention. When I was younger my pet of choice was hamster. I played with her after school and she remained in her cage during the day.
2.      Learn about the characteristics/care of the pet you’re interested in – with dogs, some of them shed more than others. When we had goldfish, I had to remind the boys not to overfeed it.

3.      Choose a pet that you AND your child like – keep in mind that you will be the primary caregiver. I like dogs, but I was not ready for one when Diamond came home. I knew having a puppy would be like having a baby, she requires constant attention. Potty training means taking her outside every hour (the dog, not the baby) to get her used to taking care of her business outside and not on your carpet.
If your child comes to you and says, “I want a pet” ask him if he has done his research on his pet of choice. The next step will be for you to prepare for your new parenting role.
Do you own a pet? What was your experience when your pet first came home?


Friday, February 5, 2016

Fun Friday – Uncovering the humor in an embarrassing situation

photo credit
“Laughing is an internal massage.” I read this quote on The Writer’s Alley blog recently. It was written by Pepper Basham. She also said, “Humor is a necessary comfort of life.” If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I find any opportunity I can to laugh.
Today’s post is one from my files of embarrassing moments, it was firs posted at annarbor.com a few years ago.
I broke my family’s cardinal rule, if you don’t know something, ask questions. I always stress to the kids not to be afraid to ask questions. In my case I didn’t think I needed to ask questions. I was invited to a dinner gathering at a nice restaurant. The hostess showed me to the room that she said my party was taking place.
I entered the room to men in suits, women in dresses and me in my casual Capri pants and slip on shoes.  I didn’t see anyone familiar yet, but I figured these were people I hadn’t met yet. I set my jacket and purse on a chair and proceeded to the hor de’ oeuvres table.  The stuffed mushrooms were great.  I saw another women enter the room who looked as if she were searching for someone. As I headed over to make small talk with her I heard the question that she asked. “Is this the gathering for the freelance writers group?”
“No, this is the dinner for surgeons, blah, blah, blah…” the other woman replied.  I only heard part of the woman’s answer, but I heard enough to know I was in the wrong place.   I searched for a place to set my empty plate as I quickly gathered my purse and jacket and said to my new friend, “Don’t leave me.”
Not only did I have egg on my face, but I had a stuffed mushroom in my belly….from someone else’s party. Together my new friend and I found the correct location of our party. Once I was settled, I shared my adventure with our other dinner guests for a good laugh. I was able to find humor in an embarrassing moment.
An article by Dolores Moore at helium.com indicated that the ability to find humor in embarrassing moments stems from the capacity to laugh at oneself. She said that if you can laugh at yourself “during that embarrassing moment, then you will be able to take the sting out of it.”  One way to do this is to find a way to say something witty against yourself that will have others laughing with you, not at you.
There are therapeutic benefits to laughter, according to holisticonline.com. Laughter is said to decrease stress hormones.  Laughter is considered aerobic, “providing a workout for the diaphragm and increasing the body’s ability to use oxygen.” A good belly laugh also helps muscles to relax.
The next time you trip, bump into a wall or do something else that may cause embarrassment, remember to find something funny in the situation.  If you can find something funny to laugh at, others will laugh with you.
How do you handle embarrassing situations?


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Words of Wisdom – Success is an inside job

photo credit
There were nearly 200 people in the audience on that early Saturday morning I attended a speakers workshop. The guest speaker captivated the audience as she walked onto the stage with poise and spoke with confidence as she told us success is an inside job.
You hold the key to creating happiness in your life. You have to choose to be happy regardless of your circumstances. Your thoughts are powerful. Success begins with a thought, the thought creates a feeling and the feeling creates an action.
Your conscious mind knows what to do, but your subconscious is blocking it. The workshop speaker told us that our subconscious is based on emotion, and emotion overrides logic and rationale. All change happens at a subconscious level.
What does all of this mean? Change your thoughts to get your conscious and subconscious in agreement in order to reach your goals.
photo credit
Success is an inside job. What will you tell your subconscious?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Muffins with Mom – The note – interacting with a teen

A teen interacting with friends via a video game
I lay nuzzled under several layers of blankets, breathing evenly and dreaming. My sleep was interrupted by a raspy voice, “Ma, sign this.” The sound came from the body of my teen son, somewhere in my dark bedroom.
The only thing I could see were the illuminated numbers on my digital alarm clock. I moaned and rolled over as my son turned on the bedside lamp. The raspy sound got louder, “MA, sign this.”
I blinked away the fairy dust from one eye and managed to separate the bottom and top eyelids of the other eye. An ink pen was placed in my hand and I pulled my body up to a sitting position. “What am I signing?”
“It’s something for school.”
A few of the words on the page came into focus – “agreement” “lab” “appropriate use.” It was a document for parent and student to sign agreeing to the rules of the science lab. I think.  I signed on the appropriate line and went back to sleep.
The next morning I flicked on the light in my son’s room and rummaged through his belongings to find the document I signed. I had to be sure I had not signed my rights away to something my son would not be able to fulfill.
After I re-read the note, I was satisfied that both my son and I could live up to the guidelines listed. This was not the first time my son has given me a not in a haphazard manner. Sometimes he has been known to tell me on his way out the door, that he needs something signed.
I’m okay with my son visiting me in the middle of the night after I have snuggled under the covers for a peaceful slumber. However, when I awake at 5:30am, I will visit him as well.
Teens seem to have a unique way of sharing information. Their sense of timing and preparation leave something to be desired. What unique situation have you experienced with your child lately?