Sunday, September 29, 2013

Big News!!

Have you ever had a meltdown??  An adult temper tantrum??  Well, I have!  So have 29 other blogger moms I know!  Very soon, we are going to be sharing our stories with all of you in this book!

The Mother of All Meltdowns is an anthology of thirty stories in which we are sharing with you some of our best, worst, saddest, and funniest mommy meltdowns.   It is for every mother, grandmother, and caregiver who has ever just lost it!  From the labor and delivery room to the airport to the DMV, you will laugh, you will cry, and, most of all, you will nod you head in complete agreement!

Here is what the Dose Girls, Ashley and Lisa, have to say about the book:

Do you ever find yourself wondering if you are the only one who doesn't react to all situations like June Cleaver? Are there days as a mother where you wish *you* could throw yourself to the ground and have a toddler-style tantrum because you.just.can' Well, so have the 30 hilarious bloggers of "The Mother of All Meltdowns"! These ladies tell it like it is.

Gone bonkers because your child didn't appreciate the expensive, theme park vacation you booked to make their childhood complete?
Lost your cool because your child decided to play barbershop using her own head?
Yep, they have been there.
Ever punish your child for not eating the lunch you accidentally forgot to make him?
They feel your pain.

We could not have enjoyed "The Mother of All Meltdowns" more...partly because we laughed so hard while reading, we could legitimately skip our ab workout for the week! Score! Every mom reading will come away feeling like she has 30 new girlfriends who just "get it"! All moms deserve the laughter and validation "The Mother of All Meltdowns" delivers!

Lisa and Ashley (a.k.a. The Dose Girls, The Dose of

I am so incredibly excited about this project and cannot wait to share it with everyone!!  It will be released in ebook and print very soon!!  You can be sure that I will keep you up to date here on the blog as well as on Facebook and Twitter.  

You can also follow The Mother of All Meltdwons on Facebook and Twitter.  AND, check out the the book's WEBSITE  where you can see a list of all thirty authors and read the blog where we are sharing even more moments of maddness!!!  

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Stepping Out of the Box (or the Hotel)

My husband is pretty much a professional traveler.  He travels nationally and internationally for work and had done a considerable amount of traveling even before I met him.

Me?  Not so much.  In fact, the first time I ever got on an airplane was for our honeymoon.  It would be very safe to say that I am not a travel expert.  Although we have taken a few trips during our almost fifteen years of marriage, he is still the one who makes all the flight and hotel reservations.  When we arrive at our destination, he serves as primary navigator, too.

So, last year, when he suggested I travel with him to Paris, I was hesitant.  You see, he had to go there for a business trip and that trip was coincidentally going to coincide with our fourteenth wedding anniversary.  Perfect, right??  Well, I hesitated because A) I had never been out of the US and didn't even have passport at the time, B) It was going to occur in mid-December, one of the busiest times of the year, and C) the logistics of leaving three kids behind for an out of country trip was a tad overwhelming.  However, many friends and family quickly convinced me that it was an opportunity I had to seize.  So, I did.

It was glorious!  Paris was wonderful, beautiful, and rich with culture and history.  We visited the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, and walked down the Champs Elysees which was decorated for Christmas.  We also visited the Louvre, Invalides, and had some of the most decadent crepes you can imagine.  He led and I happily followed.

The last day of our trip, however, my fearless leader was going to be otherwise occupied.  He did go for business after all, and, that day, he had a meeting to attend that would last several hours.  Before we arrived in Paris, I knew that was the schedule and I has resigned myself to spending the day alone in the hotel room and, perhaps, walking to a nearby cafe or something.  After being there for a few days, though, I was no longer content with that plan.  There was just too much to see and do.  I could not waste away my last day in a hotel room.

David gave me a a little coaching and I downloaded a very helpful Metro app onto my phone.  That morning, he got up bright and early and headed out.  About an hour later, I, too, stepped out of that hotel onto the streets of Paris alone.  To some, it probably doesn't seem like a very big deal.  For me, it was one of the bravest things I have ever done.

I walked a couple blocks to a Starbucks for breakfast and a cup of coffee.  Then, I made my way to the metro station, phone in hand, and headed to the Orsay.  I perused the museum for a couple hours.  The original plan was for David to come meet me there after his meeting, but it became apparent that his meeting was lasting longer than expected.  So, once again, I ventured out beyond my previously planned solo excursion.  I headed across the river, through the Jardin de Tuileries, and made my way to a shopping center that is under the Louvre.  I got a bite to eat and shopped for souvenirs for our girls.

Soon enough, David called me.  "Where are you?" he asked.  "I am the Louvre!" I told him.  He was surprised that I had attempted to go beyond the originally planned route, but was proud that I had been brave enough to do it.

I was proud of myself, too.  Again, I know that to many people it seems like a small feat, but it was big for me.

That trip definitely gave me a bit of a travel bug, too.  I would love to go back to Paris.  There are so many other places I would like to see as well.  Hopefully, knowing that I did something so brave once before will give me the confidence to try it again whenever the opportunity arises!

Have you ever been to Paris??  What was your favorite part??  You can read the whole recap of our trip here and here.

This post was written as part of Finish The Sentence Friday which is hosted by some wonderful blogging ladies.  Please give them a visit and check out all the other blogs that participate as well!

Stephanie at Mommy, for Real

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Faith Like a Child

One night a couple of weeks ago, I was putting my youngest to bed.  She brushed her teeth and, then, we snuggled together to read a book.  As I kissed her one last time and reached to turn off the lamp, she asked, "Mommy, do you think everyone really has a special angel who goes with them everywhere and takes care of them?"

Mentally, I was moving on to my next nighttime task and the question caught me a bit off guard.  I was not quite sure how to answer, but, eventually, I managed to say, "Well, I don't really know for sure because we can't see the angels, but many people believe that we do have guardian angels.  What do you think? Do you have a guardian angel?"

Without hesitation, she answered "Yes! Aunt Marg is my angel."

(Aunt Marg is my husband's great aunt.  She was like a pseudo-grandmother to him and she passed away shortly after we found out we were pregnant for the third time.  Emily's middle name is Margaret in remembrance of Aunt Marg.)

After that, Emily's emotions turned to sadness.  "It's not fair," she said, "that sissies got to meet Aunt Marg and I didn't because she died before I was born.  I wish I got to meet her and your Mamaw, too."

These are things for which no parenting "How To" book could ever prepare you.

"I know," I said.  Then, I attempted to comfort her by saying, "You will meet them all some day in Heaven."  Since this did not seem to console her, I attempted to change the subject.  "What do you think Heaven is like?" I asked.

She smiled and her face brightened a tad. "Oh, it's pretty Mommy!"  Then, she described to me in detail what the castles will look like.  She told me that all the girls get fancy, sparkly wings and all the boys get pretty wings, too, but they aren't sparkly because boys don't like sparkles.

Eventually, the conversation ended with her still upset about the people she has never met, but feeling a bit comforted by thoughts of Heaven and pretty things.

A little over a week later, as we were leaving church, this conversation happened:

Emily:  My [Sunday School] teachers told us that if you close your eyes and listen really hard, sometimes you can hear God and when we were saying the prayer  [The Lord's Prayer] in church I did that and I really did hear Him!

Me:  Really?  That's awesome!  What did He say to you?

Emily:  He said my name and told me he loves me and told me to be good.

Again, I was a bit taken aback by her statements.

Really, these conversations shouldn't have surprised me all that much.  You see, Emily has always had this innate relationship with God.  Although I don't talk about it much here on the blog, we are Christians - Presbyterians to be exact - and we are very involved with our church.  However, her connection to a higher power goes much deeper than the basic Sunday School lesson or the rote memory verses.  It always has.

This, however, is not a post about God or Christianity or even religion in general.  This is a post about FAITH. defines faith as:
  1. confidence or trust in a person or thing
  2. belief that is not based on proof
Another definition I recently read and love (which actually comes from the Bible) says "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Hebrews 11: 1)

After that first conversation with her, I could not get this song out of my head.  It is by a Christian Music group named Jars of Clay.  The song is called (Faith) Like A Child.

Faith like a child.  Faith that is instinctive and whole.  Faith that is not weakened by things of the world like disappointment or fear.  Faith that just is.

That's the kind of faith Emily has - faith like a child because she is a child.  Her faith hasn't been weakened by loss or hurt or knowledge of evil in the world.  Her faith is innocent and pure.  She sees the good without question.  She believes without doubt.

Emily's faith amazes me and I can't help but wonder how much more wonderful our world would be if more of us had faith like a child.  Faith like Emily.  Faith in whatever higher power you choose to believe in.  Faith in others.  Faith in ourselves.  Simple, whole-hearted, perfect faith.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday Ten - Blog Topic Ideas

So, I've been doing these Tuesday Ten posts for a few months now.  I really enjoy them because, along with Finish the Sentence Friday and my new Sunday Suppers, it gives me some consistency with my blog posting.  The only problem with them is that I have to come up with a new idea for a list every week.  Sometimes, I have a light bulb idea or a jumping off point (like birthdays, or holidays, or events).  Other times, like this week, I am completely stumped.  What do I do when I am stumped??  I scour the web for ideas.  My search turned up several lists of ideas to help when you are at a loss for something to write about and, in stroke of genius desperation, I decided to make a list of ideas that might help if ever you find yourself in a writing slump! :-)  Amazing, huh???

The Golden Spoons
Ten Things to Write About When You Have Nothing to Write About

  1. Make a List - This really was a common suggestion and perhaps if you don't regularly make a blog post our of lists, this one would be something you could try.
  2. Do a Giveaway - This is something I have never done on my blog, but lots of bloggers do.  It is a great way to entice readers to come check out your site.
  3. Pinterest - Pinterest is a great source for inspiration.  You can make lists of funny things, recipes, DIY ideas, seasonal ideas - really anything you want!  Better yet, try something and the write a post about it.
  4. Do a How-to Post - What the old saying??  Jack of many trades, master of none.  That's me, so I don't do a lot of these either.  (Although I did do this one about How to See what Pages like you on Facebook.)  However, if you have expertise to share, it can make for a great blog post!
  5. Take a Stance - At any given time, tree are a multitude of hot button topics out there.  Anything from breastfeeding to spanking to politics to religion to Miley Cyrus.  If you feel passionately about one of them, write about it.  This one can be tricky, though.  If you are brave enough to put your opinion out there, be prepared.  Whatever you opinion, there is surely someone on the opposite end of the issue that will let you know all the reason why you are completely wrong!
  6. Read a Book - If you are reading fiction, you can put yourself in the shoes of one of the characters and write about what you would do.  If you are reading nonfiction, write about whether you agree with the author's point of view.  Why or why not?  Not reading anything at the moment, pick up a book or a magazine or read some other blogs.   (Remember to give credit where credit is due and don't plagiarize anyone else's thoughts!)
  7. Make Some Music -  I always find music inspiring.  If you do too then write about it.  What song sums up your life?  What is the song that reminds you of someone special?  Do you and your spouse have a special song?  What songs are your kids singing that drive you absolutely crazy?
  8. Go to extremes- How about listing the best of something?  Recap your best posts;  the best blogs in you niche; the best recipes you have tried; the best things about the season.  Or, go in the opposite direction - the worst post you ever wrote; the worst thing you ever ate; the worst hairstyle you ever had.  Branch out to other extremes, too.  Write about the craziest thing you ever did or the scariest thing you ever did.  How about the weirdest thing you've ever seen?  You get the gist.
  9. Bucket Lists - I did this one for summer, but you could do one for any season.  You could also do one regarding the places you would like to travel, people you would like to meet, things you would like to learn/try, or goals for your blog.
  10. Check your phone - Most everyone I know is at least somewhat addicted to their cell phone so why not use it for some inspiration? What are your favorite apps?  Your top songs on your iPod? The funniest tweets or Facebook statuses you've seen?
Because I love you, here are a few bonus ideas:

11.  Q & A - Do  fun question and answer session with your spouse, your kids, or a friend.  You could even do one with another blogger!
12.  Check your stats - Have you ever looked to see what post has gotten you the most page views??  How about what search terms have led people to your blog?  Maybe you would be surprised to see that people from other countries read your blog?
13.  Join some writing prompts posts - Of course I like Finish the Sentence Friday, but there are many, many others that cover a wide variety of topics.  If you see one that interests you, join in!
14.  Schedule something regular - As stated above, these Tuesday Ten and Sunday Supper posts can be be frustrating from time to time, but, overall I like the consistency they give me.  Come up with your own regular posts - Monday Musings, Wordless Wednesday, Thoughtful Thursday, and Food Friday are just some I have contemplated.  (I actually have a whole list of them written down and I'm happy to share if anyone is interested.  Also, if anyone is interested in joining me and making this Tuesday Ten and actual "thing" in the blogosphere, let me know!)
15.  If all else fails, ask for help.  Ask your readers what topics they would like to see on your blog.  Give them the opportunity to ask you some questions and, then, answer them.

Speaking of that, got any ideas for me??  Any top ten lists you would like to see here??  I would love to hear them!! :-)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday Supper #2 - Crock Pot Ham, Potatoes, and Green Beans

Two weeks ago, I started my Sunday Supper series that will happen every other Sunday.  (You can read about the reason for it by clicking here!).  One of my goals is to help busy families like mine get a a wholesome, easy dinner on the table.

My youngest daughter, 6, has stated taking piano lessons from 5:00-5:30 every Wednesday.  When we get home, I need to have dinner on the table NOW!!  So, most Wednesdays, I have been using some crock pot meals to make it easier.  This one is awesome because it is literally an entire meal in the crock pot!!!

Crock Pot Ham, Potatoes, and Green Beans


8-10 red potatoes, washed and halved
16 oz bag frozen green beans
1 medium sized onion
1-2 pounds ham, pre-cooked and cut up
1 cup chicken broth

1.  Cut up ham and potatoes.  Cut onion into wedges or large slices.
2.  Place all ingredients (including green beans and broth)  in the crock pot.  Season with salt and pepper or as desired.

3.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Voila!!!

I usually add some rolls and dinner is DONE!!!!!!!

(I found this recipe here on Pinterest!)

Thursday, September 19, 2013


I always look forward to Fridays because of this Finish The Sentence Friday blog "roundup."  It is always interesting to see how other writers interpret the prompt.  I also look forward to receiving the prompt for the coming week so I can begin composing the post in my head.  Last Friday, I read the prompt for this week and I scoffed (isn't that a fun word?).   Seriously, I literally chuckled out loud.  What is the prompt that elicited this response?

I deserve a medal for the time I . . . . .

As mothers, and perhaps as women in general, it is not in our nature to bestow such accolades upon ourselves.  We are accustomed to focusing all the attention on our children, our spouse, our home, our obligations, and/or our careers.  We are frequently told, "Don't forget to take care of yourself!".  Again, we usually scoff at the thought.  Therefore, trying to come up with a reason to give myself a medal or some sort of award was uncomfortable.  It's not something I usually do.

I made a valiant effort, though.  I began running through ideas in my mind.  Yet, before I even got the imaginary medal halfway around my neck I found some perceived failure that would undermine the "achievement."  Here is some of what ran through my head:

"I could give myself a medal for the birth of my third daughter.  After all, she came out weighing over 10 pounds!  BUT, women have been birthing babies for thousands of years without medical interventions or that blessed epidural I was fortunate to have.  So, nope - can't get a medal for that."

"Maybe I should get an award for somewhat unwittingly volunteering to oversee the production of the elementary school's yearbook for the past two years and this year.  BUT, there are others who do even more than that.  Plus, I said no when they asked me to be on the PTA board, so no award for that either."

"Maybe the time I spent hours making that really fancy meal that nobody liked??  No, because what about all the times I just microwaved some Chef Boyardee?"

"Oh! I know!!!  What about that time my kids were driving me crazy but I managed to hold my temper.   No, that won't work either because what about all those time that I didn't?"

I could continue, but I'm sure you get the general idea, so I'll spare you from the the rest of my ramblings.

Then, one day early in the week while all of these thoughts were swirling through my head amidst what has been one insanely busy week, my oldest daughter came home from school and, the minute she got in the car I knew something was amiss.  She is attending a magnet middle school for academically gifted kids this year.  Since the coursework is more rigorous, they are more vigilant about sending updates.  Therefore, they send home interim reports every three weeks.  That day she had gotten the first.  The waterworks quickly began as she told me that she had gotten a - gasp - B in math.  She was upset that she had gotten a lower than usual test grade and she was afraid that her dad and I would be disappointed in her.  I began attempting to console her.  "It's o.k." I said.  "You are only three points away from an A and this only an interim.  It's not your actual report card.  You have six more weeks to work on it and bring it up."  She was obviously not consoled, so I continued, "And you know what?  Even if you still have a B when your actual report card comes THAT'S O.K.!  We don't expect you to be perfect.  We just expect you to always try your best.  As long as you do that, we will never be disappointed."

Um . .  Hello??  It dawned on me that what I was preaching to my daughter was exactly what I needed to be preaching to myself.  You see, I'm not perfect either - far from it.  Yes, I got an epidural to ease the pain (all three times!), but why not?  Yes, there are people who do even more volunteering that me, but I have put that yearbook together all by myself for the past two years and it turned out to be pretty good.  Yes, sometimes I feed my kids crap and, yes, sometimes I lose my temper.  I'm not perfect.  I'm human.  And this motherhood gig is hard.

It made me think of this post from my friend Robin who blogs at Pink Dryer Lint.  She always has something profoundly inspirational to say just when I need to hear it.  In this particular post she says:

Let this be said of us: 

Some days, she looked over her household -- the happy, sweaty-headed kids who still needed their baths, the pile of books beside the chair, the loose shoes at the door, the dishes in the sink, the floor that was way overdue for a good scrubbing  -- and she saw that it was good.  

Good enough.

I have a mantra that I always share with others, but, for some reason, I tend to forget that it applies to me as well.  It goes like this:  If, at the end of the day, when all is said and done, we all go to bed healthy, knowing that we are safe, and knowing that we are loved then that is a successful day.  That is enough.

It's been a crazy week here.  I wrote about my wonderful, overwhelming blog week already.  My husband also had a large project with a looming deadline this week.  We had open houses at two different schools, soccer games and practices, piano lessons, horseback lessons, homework battles, lunches to pack, meals to get on the table, and a half day of school in the middle of it all.  But, this evening, my littlest one who has largely been caught in the shuffle this week, put her arms around my neck, kissed me on the cheek, and said, "I love you Mommy.  I love you more than anything in this world!"  ~That is enough~  

I'm not perfect.  I have no earth shattering accomplishments to boast.  But, I give it my all every day. (Although, some days I have more to give than others.)  I love my kids.  I love my husband.  I do my very best to be a good mother and a good wife and a good person.

 And that deserves a medal because that is enough.    


This post was written as part of Finish The Sentence Friday which is hosted by some wonderful blogging ladies.  Please give them a visit and check out all the other blogs that participate as well!

Stephanie at Mommy, for Real


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

For Squirt - An Our Land Guest Post

I remember the first day she walked into my classroom.  She was a little bitty, but adorable.  She had big, bright eyes that shone from behind her little glasses.  She was a bundle of spunk and energy, bouncing from one thing to the next and smiling all the while.  She didn't know she had special needs.  She was the very definition of joy.  She made a lot of progress in my classroom that year.  After meeting her, my husband affectionately nicknamed her "Squirt."

Squirt was indeed a special little girl who would end up making more of an impact on my life than I could have ever imagined the first time I met her.  I am truly honored to share her story today over on the Our Land series at Finding Ninee today.  On her blog, Kristi writes about parenthood and life through the eyes of her son, Tucker, who is on the autistic spectrum but does not have an "official" diagnosis.  The Our Land series was started after Kristi wrote this post entitled "The Land Of Empathy and Wonder."  It was so powerful and got such a supportive response, she decided to turn it into a series that is now filled with many powerful, poignant, well-written posts.  Again, I do truly consider it an honor to be included in such a wonderful group of writers and such a powerful collection of stories.

I do hope that you will come on over and spend some time reading my post as well as all of the other ones that have been featured!

For my post click HERE.  For a list of all the Our Land Posts click HERE.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My Ten Favorite Posts

This week is a big week for me and for this little blog.

It started on Saturday when I had a post featured on Scary Mommy.  She has over 100,000 Facebook followers and 320,000+ Twitter followers.  Comparatively, my blog is a peon in the blogosphere.  That is why being featured on the Scary Mommy site is such a huge thing for me.

Today, Tuesday, I am the SITS featured blogger!  SITS is an online community for bloggers where you can get tips on everything from social media to making money through your blog.  The SITS girls even host conferences called Bloggy Boot Camp.  In fact, I'm going the one on Minneapolis in October and I am really excited!  It will be my first blogging conference.  Each day, Monday through Friday, they feature a blogger from their community and today is my day!

Finally, tomorrow, I will be the guest blogger for Kristi at Finding Ninee.  Kristi has created a series called Our Land - a place where empathy and wonder rule.  The series is full of fantastic, poignant pieces and I am truly honored to be one of the contributors.  The piece I wrote is dear to my heart.  I hope you will visit tomorrow and take moment to read it.  Then, take several moments to read all of the other incredible post in the series.

All of these "appearances" are fabulous and make me feel very special.  To have them all happen in the span of a few days is a tad overwhelming - in a good way.  Of course, one anticipated side benefit of these opportunities is that, hopefully, it will bring a few new readers here to The Golden Spoons.  With that in mind, I thought  for today's Tuesday Ten and share with you my ten favorite blogs posts.

A little history: I published my first post on February 26, 2010.  Since then, I have published 333 posts and received just over 62,000 page views.  At first, I had no idea what blogging was about.  Over time, I learned more and more.  About six months ago, in search of a sense of self accomplishment, I decided to really try and make something of my minuscule little blog.  Since then, I have been promoting, writing, and submitting like crazy.  I have met LOTS of wonderful new blog friends and been given several awesome opportunities.

My Ten Favorite Golden Spoons Blog Posts
  1. Lessons I Want To Teach My Daughters - My all-time most favorite post.    
  2. Kids Say The Darndest Things - The first one; the story I just had to tell that led me to start the blog.
  3. Rachel and MamMaw - A Post about my oldest daughter and my wonderful grandmother.
  4. Talking In All Caps - A post about how my children always speak loudly.
  5. Dear CeCe - A Letter to the foster child we once had (She is also the subject of my Our Land post.
  6. One Word - A more recent Finish The Sentence Friday about one word that changed everything.
  7. A Letter To My Daughter Upon Entering Middle School - Another more recent post that is exactly what it says.
  8. What My Girls Love About Their Daddy - This post was a Father's Day gift to my hubby.
  9. Terror in the Minivan - A terrifying post about a ride in the minivan and my girls . . and a spider.
  10. Tightrope Walking - Because parenting is a delicate balancing act.
With over 300 posts published, it is pretty hard to pick just ten.  For more of my favorites, click here.

If you are visiting for the first time then Welcome!  I hope you enjoy what you read and will return.
If you are a loyal reader, thank you sincerely for you support - past, present, and future!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Date Night Before Kids vs. After Kids

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were lucky enough to get a date night out by ourselves.  Although we did certainly enjoy our dinner and our time together sans children, the kids were actually the primary focus of our excursion.  You see, two of our three daughters had birthdays that were quickly approaching and we needed an opportunity to go gift shopping without the kids tagging along.  Eventually, we found ourselves perusing a local toy store and just had to laugh at how much date night has changed since we had children.

The rest of this post is being featured today on 
I have closed comments here, but please take a minute to head over to the full post and leave me a comment there!  Thanks!

Scary Mommy

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Summer Memories

Fall is most definitely in the air.  The children are back in school and we are planning to close our pool this weekend.  Cooler temperatures are also predicted here over the weekend.  I'm seeing apple and pumpkin everything online and in the stores.  I even got a coupon for a Halloween store earlier this week!  Yes, fall is in the air and summer is quickly becoming a fading memory.

Part of me is ready.  Okay, most of me is ready.  I'm ready for cooler days, jeans, colorful leaves, and some structure returing to our days.  We are three weeks into the school year and we are finally Finding our Rhythm.

This week's Finish The Sentence Friday prompt, however, has me feeling a bit nostalgic for summer.  The prompt is "My best summertime memory this year was . . . ."

I have been thinking about it all week and I just can't narrow it down to one.  Overall, we had a wonderful, lazy summer.  We started with this Summer Bucket List and got most of it accomplished.   Some of my favorite memories are the little ones.  So, here is a list of several of my favorite memories!

  1. Going to the Beach - We went to the beach with David's family for a week in June.  It is a long-standing tradition in his family.  This year, his two younger brothers and their wives went as well as his parents.  We rent a big house together and get lots of quality family time.  (The family time is great and it is also nice to have others to help with the kids and the household chores!)  
  2. Going to the Mountains - In July, the girls and I spent several days with my parents.  This has also become a summer tradition.  We love going to the mountains with them.  We also enjoy hanging out with my brother and his kids who are about the same ages as my girls.  Of course, it is wonderful to have my mom take care of me a little bit, too!
  3. Going to a baseball game - We put Fourth of July Fireworks on our Summer bucket list, but the weather did not cooperate.  The girls were very disappointed and we promised to see some fireworks at some point.  We found the perfect opportunity when the local minor league team had a Christmas in July event that included Santa AND fireworks with Christmas music playing in the background.  Emily especially thought it was awesome to see Santa in the middle of July and she even got a candy cane from him.  It was lots fun and I enjoyed teaching my girls a little bit about the great American pastime of baseball!!  (My dad coached it for over 30 years, so I know more than most gals!)
  4. Family time - Some of my favorite moments were just simple family times when all five of us hung out, relaxed, and laughed together.  We had a game night and played a drawing game together.  Another night, we all sat on the couch together and just snuggled while we watched TV.  A few other nights we all jumped in the pool together.       
  5. Natural Science Center and the Zoo - Especially my two oldest girls love animals.  One day, David took the afternoon off and we went to our local science center's new aquarium.  We saw all the new animals there and, then, visited the other animals they had outside.  All the animals were very active that day and the girls loved seeing them.  They kept saying, "This is the best day ever!"  However, they said that again when we went to the zoo.  It was an unusually pleasant August day and, again, the animals were active.  David couldn't go that day, but his mom and our niece joined us.  It was lots of fun!
As summer was coming to an end, I was a little disappointed by what I perceived to be our lack of excitement and accomplishment.  Although we mostly completed our bucket list, we didn't do anything big or extraordinary.  We didn't go anywhere new.  But, looking back, I realize that we did something much more important.  We were just together.  David didn't travel much for work like he normally does and our "lack" of doing big things made for the calmest, most carefree summer that we have had.  Our whole summer is one great memory that I will cherish!    


This post was written as part of Finish The Sentence Friday which is hosted by some wonderful blogging ladies.  Please give them a visit and check out all the other blogs that participate as well!

Stephanie at Mommy, for Real

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Where Were You?

"Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?"

That's the title and first line of a song by Alan Jackson about the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

When it happened, I remember reporters saying, "This is a day people will never forget.  Just like when Kennedy was assassinated, people will always remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard this horrible news."

It's twelve years later and, sadly, I think those reporters were correct.

I remember.  I remember that I was in my classroom at the elementary school where I taught special needs preschoolers.  Because of my students' various disabilities, I had therapists - occupational, physical, speech - coming into my classroom everyday.  It was from one of them that we heard about the first plane crash.  Then another and another.

(For my children reading this:  This was before the existence of iPhones.  We had "old fashioned" cell phones that were only good for actually making calls.  There was no texting and not instant internet connectivity.)

It didn't take long for school administrators to announce that we were not to turn on the TV's in our classrooms or get on the internet.  They were afraid the images would be too disturbing for the children.  Some staff members were scurrying about trying to reach family members.  Others were buzzing with various details they had heard.

Finally, right after lunch, it was naptime in my classroom.  We put the children down to rest and turned on the soothing music.  That day, every child fell asleep which was very rare.  Once we were certain they were all snoozing soundly, we broke the rules and turned on our TV.  We muted the sound so we didn't wake the children.  Therefore, all we had were the images and the captions.  That was all we needed really.  The images said it all.

I know my children will see the images - in history books, on the computer, and on the TV every year on September 11th.  What I want them to know, though, is the feeling.  We all felt overwhelmed with grief for our country and our fellow citizens.  We were scared becasue of the uncertainty about what might happen next.  That grief quickly turned to pride, patriotism, and solidarity.  For months, people flew American flags at their homes, at their businesses, and from their car windows.  Briefly, there were no differences among the people of our country - we were all just Americans and we were in it together.

Before the first anniversary of September 11th, we had our first daughter and our lives had changed immensely in many ways.  Today, I see so much violence and hatred in the world.  I have to wonder what kind of world we are handing down to our children.  What kind of events will they witness and remember forever?  I hope they are good ones.  I hope that, if they are tragic ones, they will feel the same sense of unity and hope and triumph that I sensed in the weeks after 9-11.

So, where were you on September 11, 2001 when you first heard the news?  Do you remember?   

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ten Reasons Why Tweens Are Better Than Toddlers

Toddler photo credit
Tween Photo credit
Back to school season brings many transitions.  Changes like these, inevitably, seem to lead to reminiscing.  Add in a birthday and, well, I turn into a big sap.  My oldest daughter recently turned eleven and started middle school.  Therefore, we are jumping headfirst into “tweendom” and I’ve been doing more than my fair share of looking back. 

Honestly, I have entered this phase of parenthood guardedly because I have heard so many cautionary tales about tweens.  I’ve gotten warnings about the impending hormonal meltdowns, mean girls, bullying, and the bad behavior on social media that many tween parents have experienced.  I frequently hear comments such as “Oh, you’re in for it now!” 

However, I’m more of a “glass half full” kind of gal and, quite frankly, I am tired of all the negativity.  As we tread the waters of these tween years, I’m beginning realize that it’s really not all that bad.  As I recall days and phases of the past, I am actually kind of happy to be where we are.  In fact, I think I would take my tween over a toddler any day.  Here’s why:

  1. She can express her feelings.- We’ve all experienced that screaming toddler who has very few words and wondered “Is she hungry? Tired?  Maybe just frustrated?”  Well, with tweens, there is no guessing game.  They may have a hormonal meltdown complete with tears and slamming doors, but you can rest assured that you will know exactly what he/she is feeling!  
  2. She can have a conversation. - When I asked my toddler about her day at preschool, I usually got a very vague answer about who she played with on the playground or what they had for snack.  Now when I ask, she can tell me what she learned, what homework she has, and who she sat with at the lunch table.  We can also talk about current events, or books she’s reading, or Selena Gomez’s much too revealing VMA awards show wardrobe.  It’s actually pretty cool!
  3. She is so much more independent. - I remember wrestling my toddlers into clothes and then worrying about what the teachers would think of her ridiculous outfit because it was the only thing she would wear.  I also remember begging her to eat just one more bite and, oh my, the potty training.  Now, she wakes up when her alarm clock goes off. (I always double check!) Then, she gets herself dressed, fixes herself some breakfast, and, this year even packs her own lunch.  She can also tie her own shoes and hasn’t asked me to look at her poop in years!
  4. She can tell time. - Toddlers move at their own pace because they don't understand the concept of time and schedules.  In fact, my six year old still does this.  My tween on the other hand, knows when the tardy bell rings at school and she knows when her gymnastics class starts.  She doesn’t want to be late to hang out with her friends so she is much more motivated to get there on time and understands the consequences of being late. 
  5. She does her own homework. -O.K.  Maybe toddlers don’t have actual homework, but I remember trying to help my girls learn their ABC’s & 123’s. It was tedious and frustrating.  Now, my sixth grader is encouraged to do her homework “independently” and, truthfully, she is probably going to bring home some math problems that I couldn’t help with even if she asked! 
  6. She can read. -  I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many times I read Brown Bear or Green Eggs & Ham.  Although I loved the cuddle time, the repetition was maddening.  Now, she can read what she chooses on her Nook all by herself as many times as she wants! 
  7. She doesn’t need naps anymore. - I know naps can be nice, but they can also be a pain.  When my daughters were little, my schedule revolved around their sleep schedules.  We had to be home for naps and bedtime.  Now, of course, they don’t nap and their bedtimes can be flexible  Plus, my tween sleeps in every chance she gets!
  8. We get some time apart. - Since I am a stay at home mom, I rarely got time away from my kids when they were toddlers.  Although I loved them dearly (still do!), sometimes we just both needed a break, but it was hard to get one.  Now, she’s in school most of the day.  When she is home, she can entertain herself and doesn’t feel the need to be physically attached to me all the time.
  9. She is becoming who she is going to be. - The biggest goal for most toddlers is keeping their pants dry or making it through a playdate without altercation.  My tween, however, is beginning to develop real life goals.  She is thinking about what she really wants to be when she grows up.  She is working to get good grades.  She is learning how to make friendships last.  She is developing her own set of beliefs.  It is so exciting to be getting a glimpse of who she is really going to be “when she grows up.”
  10. We get perspective. - Every stage of childhood and parenting is special in some way.  When my daughter was a toddler, I loved the cuddling and cuteness.  However, I spent my days dealing with messes and calming tantrums.  I often wondered if we would ever get through that stage.  Sure, the tween and teen years will have their ups and downs.  I know there will be rough patches.  But, now I can say, “Look how far we’ve come!”  We made it through breastfeeding and potty training.  We made it through separation anxiety (hers and mine).  We worked together to deal with that bully in fourth grade.  We both survived her first overnight trip.  We’ve had “the talk” and can communicate openly.  We’ve made it through a lot already.  So I say, bring on the tween years.  We’ll make it through those, too, and they will be great! 

Tuesday Ten button pic photo smallTuesdayTenjpeg_zpsad8292e4.jpg

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday Supper - Italian Roasted Potatoes

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post for Finish The Sentence Friday about how I used to love to cook.  As I stated in that post, cooking has lost its luster for me.  It has become more of a chore to add to my to-do list thanks to our busy schedules and my diversely picky eaters.

But, you know what?  I got a lot of support on that post.  Some readers shared with me that they, too, used to enjoy cooking and agreed that it had become too much of a burden.  Others gave me some great suggestions and even shared some recipes!

The whole thing got me thinking and I realized three things:
  1. If I continue to "let them," my kids are always going to be picky.  The only way they are going to learn to try new things is if they are regularly exposed to new things.  It doesn't have to be every meal, but at least once in a while.
  2. I shouldn't let "life" get in the way of something I enjoy.  We moms sacrifice a lot for our families and most of the time, that's okay.  However, we shouldn't "give up" everything.
  3. Other moms are having the same struggle.  Rather than just giving up and throwing in the proverbial dish towel, I can do something that just might be helpful for me and other moms, too.
So . . . . . .  I'm introducing a new series entitled Sunday Supper.

Every other Sunday, I will be posting a recipe that I have tried.  They will be recipes that I truly think others will enjoy and find useful.  Some will be main dishes.  Others will be side dishes and I might  even post an occasional dessert.  I will also be including how my family reacts to these recipes - honestly.  (I have also changed my former "Recipes" tab to "Sunday Supper".  All of the original recipes are still there, though.)

**Disclaimer: I am by no means a gourmet chef and, as you will see, I am certainly not a proficient food photographer either!  :-)

The first recipe I want to share in the series is one that I actually make pretty frequently and that everyone in my house likes, except for my super picky six year old.  It is quick, easy and works as a side dish for almost any entree!

Italian Roasted Potatoes

Red potatoes, cut up
Olive oil (approx. 3 TBSP)
1 packet Italian Dressing mix
Grated Parmesan Cheese

Step 1: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  
Step 3: Cut up the potatoes into bite sized pieces and throw the pieces into a large mixing bowl.
Step 3:  Drizzle olive oil on the potatoes and sprinkle on the Italian Dressing mix.  Stir to get them evenly coated.

 Step 4:  Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray it with non-stick cooking spray.  Then, spread the potatoes out evenly.

Step 5:  Pop the oven for about 20 minutes and voila!  Yummy!

**You can also you a packet of Ranch Dressing mix if you prefer.

Do these potatoes sound like something your family might like?  If you try them, I would love to know how they turn out!

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