Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Right Now, I 'm Thankful for . . . .

With Thanksgiving this week, it seemed only fitting that for today's Tuesday Ten we would list the things we are thankful for. I started my post over the weekend, but quit because I didn't like it. It was generic. Of course I'm thankful for my hubby, my kids, my family, my home. Those are wonderful things to be grateful for, but I've written that before and it kind of goes without saying. So, I started thinking about how I could make my list a little different. Then, I realized that the prompt said  "Ten things you are thankful for right now." I came up with it, but I still missed those last two words. 

So what am I thankful for RIGHT NOW -on Monday night at 9:00pm? (Other than my family, home, and health - obviously.)
  • I'm thankful for tacos. Tacos and Spaghetti. They are pretty much the only two meals I can make for dinner that really make everyone happy. (We had tacos for supper tonight.)
  • Would you think I'm nuts if I say I'm grateful for Candy Crush? Well, I am. It's one of those things that I can do to give my brain a break. Today, I got Candy Crush Soda.
  • Today we had an Indian Summer afternoon. I went outside with my girls in short sleeves. We played and laughed and enjoyed the breeze. I'm very grateful for that.
  • I'm also thankful the colder weather that is coming again. Yes, I like winter and there is a buzz in the air around some snowflakes that might fall on Wednesday. (Because when you live in the South, even a the promise of a few flakes is cause for excitement.)
  • I'm thankful for talented sisters in law who gifted these awesome monogrammed backpacks to my girls. The bags clutter the den where I sit, but they remind me of family.
    If you like the backpacks, check out their easy shop HERE!

  • I am grateful for books and words and children who are reading. All three of my girls found joy in books this evening and that makes my heart happy.
  • I'm glad I have a Keurig so I can make a single mug of vanilla latte to enjoy as I sit on the couch and type.
  • I'm also glad I have some ugly, but warm bedroom shoes (that my hubby affectionately calls my redneck slippers) and a big, fuzzy robe to keep me warm and cozy on cool/cold evenings.
  • I'm usually organized and scheduled to a fault, but tonight I'm thankful for procrastination. Walking away from this post this weekend gave me the chance to re-think it and approach it from a different direction. It reminds me that, sometimes, I just need to relax.
  • Finally, I'm thankful for minions. Why minions you ask? I'm grateful for minions because tonight when I was at a loss for #10 on my list, I asked my youngest to name something silly she was thankful for and her answer was, "Minions!" It made me smile as I remembered the cutest minion ever from Halloween.

    I'm also thankful for holidays and vacations. I'll be taking the rest of the week off from all things blog related to focus on spending time with my family.  I hope all of you have a happy Thanksgiving and some time to count your own blessings as well! 
Your Tuesday Ten hostesses are:


The Teacher Wife
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Come link up again next Tuesday, December 2! We'll be listing all the things we would include in our ultimate dream homes! 

The Golden Spoons

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Pros and Cons of Life with a Traveling Spouse

Back in August, right before the girls went back to school, we took a family trip to San Francisco. That's a long way across the country from our home in North Carolina! It was a great trip. We saw Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, the iconic trolley cars, the majestic redwoods at Muir Woods, and so much more.

One highlight of the trip was our excursion to Stinson Beach. It is touted as one of the best beaches in the Bay Area and gave me the chance to cross "putting my toes in the Pacific Ocean" off my bucket list

Our time at the beach was not all relaxation and sunshine, though. It was a cloudy day and the water was even colder than we expected. Those, however, did not compare to the treacherous path we had to take to get to the beach. Seriously, I thought I was going to die as we drove along a steep, twisting two-lane road that ran miles along the edge of a cliff.  I grew up in the mountains and, still, I have never seen a road quite like this. I don't like heights and, should I survive our plummet down the rocky cliff, I would not fare well in the ocean water below. I was terrified. (Which, by the way, my kids thought was hilarious!)
The views as we drove along the Scary Road.

See how tiny those people seem?? That's how high we were on the road at the top of this cliff.

My white knuckles and heart palpitations were a small price to pay, I suppose, for what was otherwise a fabulous trip - a trip that was possible for us because of my husband's business travel.  

My husband is in sales and travels A LOT - as in the people at the airport know him by his first name and frequently ask how his kids are. Often, when people realize how often David is away, they say to me, "How do you handle him being gone all the time?" or "Wow! I don't know how you manage it all with him traveling so much!"

Well, the truth is that it's just what I'm used to. He has been traveling since we were first married and I have just learned how to cope. Like most things in life, there are pros and cons to the situation.

The Pros:
  • Travel Rewards - Case in point - San Francisco. Because of the many, many airline points David had accrued, the girls and I flew for free. We were also able to get a couple free nights at the hotel by cashing in his hotel honors points. If we had to pay for all that out of pocket, we probably wouldn't have gone. The same was true a few years ago when we went to Disney. Then, we also flew for free and got hotel nights free. I have gotten to tag along with him to many other cities including Miami, Chicago, Minneapolis, and PARIS!!!
  • Alone Time - I am an introvert by nature and I need alone time to reset and refocus. Of course, I love having David at home in the evenings. But, when he is gone, I can use that time to write, go to bed early, and/or just enjoy some quiet time after the kids are in bed.
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder. - I think that, because he is gone so much, I appreciate it more when he is home and, hopefully, he feels the same way about the girls and me.
The Cons:
  • Single Parenting - It's not true single parenting, I know, because he is still the primary breadwinner for our family and we still communicate daily about family decisions. However, when he is gone, all the day to day mechanics fall on me. I am the one getting kids to school, doing all the chores, helping with the homework, and doing the bedtime routine. 
  • Inconsistent Schedules - One week he's home, the next week he's gone. Two days this week; four days that week. I am constantly asking, "When will you be home again?" and "Should I count you in for dinner that night or will you be getting back too late?" The girls ask, "When will Daddy be home?" No week is ever the same.
  • Jealousy - I admit that, sometimes, the green-eyed monster gets the best of me. I'm at home doing all the "dirty work" while he's going out to nice dinners and spending the night alone in a hotel room. His job seems heavenly compared to mine. Or does it?? (Hint: See the tips below!)
Tips to help when your spouse is gone:
  • See the other side - I once was very honest with David about how jealous I sometimes was of his traveling while I was stuck at home in all the minutiae. He retorted that the grass is not always greener on his side. He lives out of a suitcase and sleeps in a different bed almost every night. He has to deal with the headaches of travel like airport security and delayed flights. Also, it's not like he is just out enjoying all the cities he visits. When he is there, he is scurrying between meetings and presentations, rarely having any time to do "touristy" things or take in the sights. Above all else, he misses all the things I get to see. He's missed soccer games, awards programs, impromptu laughter, and bedtime kisses. Sometimes, he is just as jealous of me as I am of him.
  • Lean on your village - I would love to tell you that I am Superwoman and I can do it all on my own. I can't. Thanks goodness for all the people who help me out when I am juggling schedules, or sick kids, or when I just need a little break. They make life with a traveling spouse a million times easier.
  • Use Technology - When David is gone, we FaceTime as often as possible so he and the girls can still talk. My girls are old enough to have email and they know they can email him when he is away. Just the other night, David and I had an entire conversation via texting while he was on a plane and I was sitting on our couch in my pajamas.
  • Cut yourself some slack - When David is gone, I rarely cook a "real" meal for the girls and me. I let the kids skip showers some nights. If they watch a little too much TV so I can finish the dishes, then so be it. I do the best I can when I'm on my own and I don't feel guilty (much) for the things I cannot get done. I only have two hands.
How about you? Do you or your spouse travel for work? What are the pros and cons for your family? What are some ways you make it work?

Finish the Sentence Friday
I am very excited to be co-hosting this week's Finish the Sentence Friday along with:
Kristi from Finding Ninee
Jennifer from Dancing in the Rain

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Three Strategies to Reign In the Christmas Gift Giving

When my oldest daughter was three and finally old enough to actually tell me some things she wanted for Christmas, I made the mistake of giving her a toy catalog. "Show me some things you want Santa to bring you," I instructed. She eagerly flipped through the pages pointing and saying, "I want THIS! What is it?" There were so many choices. She was overwhelmed, greed took over, and she wanted everything.

As parents, we really do want to give our children everything they want. We want to see the joy on their faces on Christmas morning when they open the perfect gift. Of course, we can't really give them everything, though. Nowadays, there is just too much "stuff," but our reality is limited by space, budget, and teaching our children the value of moderation.

So, how do we do it? In an environment where we are all bombarded by advertisements trying to convince us we need more and more, how do we reign it in? How do we curb the greed and still make our kids happy? 

Over the years, I have seen three different strategies used to help reign in the holiday gift giving.

Three Gifts - This is the basic strategy we use in our home. It stems from the idea that Jesus was given three gifts from the Wise Men. Our children are allowed to ask Santa for three things and they can ask us for one additional item. As they get older, we have also specified that one of the items can be a big, somewhat more expensive item, but the rest should be smaller. (Otherwise their 3-4 items would most likely all be high dollar choices.) This approach can certainly be modified to fit your family's needs and rules.

Body, mind, and soul - 
This gameplan also involves three gifts, but they are more specific and focused. One focuses on the body such as a bike, trampoline, or sports gear. The second is something to enhance the mind such as books, puzzles, or even a tablet. Finally, one for the soul. This one can be tricky since most kids wouldn't really enjoy a massage, so try to think about what is most important to your child. Does he/she love music? Animals? What would "feed their soul?"

Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read- This method is pretty straightforward. One gift is something the child wants (i.e. a toy); one gift that is something they need (i.e. sheets, new car seat, or new backpack); something to wear (i.e. clothes, pajamas, or shoes); something to read (books, of course! Could also be a tablet or gift card to purchase ebooks.)

A couple more things to consider:

- This year, I am trying to help my girls understand that a gift is not always a thing. It could be an experience such as a horseback riding lesson, a cooking class, or going to a movie. Some families even go to Disney or somewhere big in lieu of gifts. It could also be just spending time together doing something fun, like a coupon for a tea party or a family game night. Gifts don't have to = stuff. 

- Other intangibles can make great gifts as well. My oldest daughter LOVES animals, so one year we made a donation to the World Wildlife Foundation and "adopted" an animal. She loved it! Especially at this time of year, many non-profits offer items in exchange for donations. Maybe making a donation to a worthy cause would be a better solution than buying more things they don't really need.

- Think about helping others. Especially as children get older and can understand the correlation between money and gift giving, how wonderful would it be if they were willing to "give up" one of their gifts and give to someone in need? What if you took your kids shopping to fill a stocking for someone who, otherwise, might not get anything for Christmas? 

This year, I am really trying to think outside the box when it comes to gifts for my kids. It's tough because we are still riding the Santa train with my youngest daughter. I'm working on it, though, and I hope these ideas will help you, too!

What gift giving strategies do you use? What are some "alternative" gift you have given or received int he past? 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Lifetime Bucket List

Have you ever seen the movie "Bucket List?" The movie stars Jack Nicholson as a millionaire bachelor and Morgan Freeman as a middle class family man. They meet when they are both being treated for cancer and are forced to share a hospital room. The two become friends and, together, they compose a bucket list of things they want to do before they die. Some of the things are simple like, "laugh until I cry" or "kiss the most beautiful girl in the world." Other things on their list are more far-fetched such as "Climb Mt. Everest." Funded by Edward's (Jack Nicholson) significant funds, they set off together to check everything off their list. I won't spoil the ending of you, but it's a great movie.

It was that movie that inspired this Tuesday Ten topic. None of us really likes to think about "the end," but it is, after all, inevitable. We've already shared things we want to learn, jobs we would like to try, and places we would like to see, but, if you had to narrow it down to the top ten things you want to make sure you don't miss in your lifetime, what would they be??

  1. I want to see my three daughters grow up. I want to see what careers they choose, meet their future husbands, and watch them become mothers themselves.
  2. I want to see my grandchildren. I'm told that you love grandchildren in a very different way than you love your children. I want to know what they feels like.
  3. I want to feel pretty. Whether it's from losing weight or just somehow finding contentment with myself, I want to look in the mirror and think the person looking back at me is beautiful. 
  4. I'm not exactly sure what specific goal I want to achieve, but I want to accomplish something greater with my writing. I'm not really interested in writing a novel, but I want be published (again) and be at least somewhat "well-known" for something I wrote. 
  5. See Hawaii. Perhaps because of TV, but I've been interested in Hawaii lately and I want to go there.
  6. See more of Europe. I've been to Paris, but I want to see it all and I want to take my girls with me.
  7. Go on a Safari. This sounds a little crazy amidst all the Ebola scariness, but I have always thought it would be cool and there is pretty much nothing that would make my oldest daughter happier. 
  8. Splurge on a purse. Those pretty ones that cost $300 or more?? One day, I'm gong to buy one and not feel the least bit guilty about it. (Then, I will probably carry it until I die!)
  9. Learn to swim - really swim. Like dive off the high dive swim. I'm much more comfortable in the water than I was years ago, but I'm certainly not a good swimmer. I've tried to learn, but fear is a tough thing to overcome. 
  10. I know this will sound cliche, but I want to make a difference in the world. I'm not Mother Teresa or anything, but I want to go out knowing that some people were better off because of me; that I made their lives easier or happier or somehow better. It sounds simple, but when you really think about it, it's a pretty lofty goal.
What would be on your bucket list??

ANNOUNCEMENT: In January, Tuesday Ten will be celebrating it's first birthday!! No birthday celebration is complete without gifts, and we are planning something fun! Want to help and get some social media exposure, too?  CLICK HERE to go to a form with more information and instructions.
Your Tuesday Ten hostesses are:


The Teacher Wife
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We hope you have enjoyed our #TuesdayTen lists! If so, please link up one of your own and share your post using #TuesdayTen!
1) Link up a post, old or new, pertaining to the TuesdayTen topic for this week and add our TuesdayTen button to your post or sidebar.
2) Please do not link up contests, product reviews, or sponsored posts. Links not pertaining to the topic will be removed at the hosts' discretion.
3) Visit your hosts and follow them on social media.
4) Visit as many other linked posts as you can and show those bloggers some love by commenting and/or sharing.
5) By linking up you agree to be subscribed to out #TuesdayTen mailing list. Emails are only sent once a week and you can unsubscribe at any time. If you would like to be added to the mailing list without linking up, click here.

Come link up again next Tuesday, November 25, when we'll share the things we are most thankful for right now as we get ready for Thanksgiving! 

The Golden Spoons

Thursday, November 13, 2014

When Is Your Child Old Enough To Stay Home Alone?

This Tuesday, my kids were out of school for Veteran's day, but that didn't mean there was no homework. After a lazy morning, my oldest began working on some science assignments and my middle daughter began working on a shadow box type of project. She decided that she needed some additional supplies that we did not have on hand, like modeling clay, so we needed to run to the craft store. My oldest, 12, asked if she could stay home alone to keep working on her assignments. I hesitated. Truthfully, they were, as usual, already arguing and I knew it would really be best to keep them separate. I also rationalized that we have been leaving her alone for over a year now for very brief periods of time (20 minutes) while I run the two younger girls to the elementary school on mornings when my hubby is out of town. I knew I could make it to the craft store and back in an hour or less and my neighbors (who also happen to be my in-laws) were home. Therefore, I agreed, gave her some final instructions, and left her with an enormous, independent smile on her face. 

It all turned out perfectly fine, but it felt so strange and it really got me wondering what is  the "right" age to begin leaving kids home alone. I did some research and even conducted a very scientific Facebook survey by asking some other moms to share their points of view. If you are questioning this as well, here is some information that might help.

Some Things To Consider:
  • Is it legal? I wondered if there were actually any laws that specified a particular age. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (www.childwelfare.gov as of 11/12/14),  there are only three states that have true laws about it. (Illinois law is age 14; Maryland says 8 years old; and Oregon says 10 years old.) Some other states offer guidelines ranging between 8-12 years old, but most don't address it at all.
  • Can your child handle it? Although the other moms I asked on Facebook gave varying ages, the overwhelming consensus was that it is VERY dependent on the individual child. Some children may be able to handle it at age 9 and some will not be ready until they are a little older, like 12 (or 25?). Some children have special needs or other character traits that make it necessary to wait until they are older before leaving them alone. If children are more mature than average, they could be left alone at an earlier age. A couple moms said they had even left their own children alone for the first time at different ages due to differences in personality, abilities, and/or family situations. Ultimately, you are the person who knows your child best. As you are deciding if your child is ready, here are some things to consider:
    • Is your child trustworthy? If you tell him/her not to open the door or not to go outside, can he/she be trusted to obey? 
    • How does your child react in emergency situations? If the worst case scenario came to fruition while you are away and there was a fire or a burglary, do you think your child would panic or maintain a relatively level head?
    • Does your child want to stay home alone? Even though you feel he/she is ready, the child may disagree and be uncomfortable being left alone. Make sure you talk with him/her beforehand.
  • Consider your neighborhood and surroundings. As I mentioned, my in-laws live right next door and we live on a quiet street with very little traffic. This definitely helped me to feel more at ease about leaving my daughter home alone. Another mom on Facebook mentioned they live in an apartment complex, so help is just a couple steps away if needed. If you live in a more "questionable" neighborhood or in a place where it is highly likely someone will come knocking while you're gone, you might need to wait a little longer.
  • How long will you be gone? Although the majority of moms who shared their input said children could be left alone at age 10-11, they also specified that this was for short periods of time, around an hour or just long enough to run a quick errand. Nobody was leaving children home alone all day or overnight until they were significantly older. That doesn't seem to come until closer to 15 or 16.
Tips to help:
  • Talk to your child! Make sure he/she feels ready to stay home alone. Talk about what to do in emergencies. Talk about what to do if someone calls or rings the doorbell when you are gone. Talk about responsibility and expectations. 
  • Set rules. Some kids may see this time without direct supervision as an opportunity to test the limits and do what is normally not allowed. Make sure you set some very specific rules and enforce consequences, if necessary.
  • Write it down! Write down emergency numbers and alarm codes so kids can find them quickly and easily, if needed. 
  • Start small. Start by leaving your child for maybe just an hour and see how it goes. As children mature and prove themselves to be trustworthy, you will BOTH get more comfortable with the idea. Then, you can gradually increase the time and expectations.
One thing I have learned in my 12 years as a mom is to trust my gut. After taking in all this information and talking to other moms as well, I feel comfortable with my decision to leave my oldest daughter home alone for brief periods of time. She's ready and she can handle it. Me? I'm getting there. 

In the end, this is a decision that must be made by each individual family. You know your child(ren) and your situation better than anyone else. Go with your instincts, use your common sense, and I'm sure you will make the right choice. (Unless you live in Illinois, Maryland, or Oregon. In that case, make sure you obey the law, too!)

**Big thanks to all the expert moms who share you input in HV, MOAM, and on my Facebook Page! I wish I could list you all, but there were just too many responses! :-)

Do you remember how old you were when you were allowed to stay home alone? Have you allowed your kids to stay home alone yet? At what age do you think it's acceptable?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What I Love About Fall {#TuesdayTen Linkup}

In my neck of the woods, it seems that fall is quickly spiraling passed its peak. Most of the leaves are on the ground already, and by the end of this week, the temperatures are going to feel more like winter than autumn. Nevertheless, it is still techinically fall, so today we are sharing the things we love best about the sesaon.

  1. Colors - I adore the colors of fall. The deep reds, oranges, and golds are so beautiful. They remind me of the beauty of God's creation and just make me happy.
  2. Clothes - I much prefer jeans and sweaters over shorts, tank tops, and bathing suits.
  3. Cooler Temps - Somewhere among marrying a hot-natured HVAC expert and two separate summer pregnancies in which I gained about 50 pounds each time, I became a rather hot-natured person myself and I cannot stand summer temps. The cool days of fall without stifling humidity are so refreshing and welcome.
  4. Comfort food - Colder weather seems like the perfect excuse to put some real comfort food on the table. Dishes such as Chicken and Dumplings, Chicken Chili, and Chicken Pot Pie just to name a few.
  5. Soups - I suppose this could be considered comfort food, but I think it deserves a category all its own. I kind of love soup. (Check out these awesome soup recipes!)
  6. Holiday Spirit - Yes, it's a bit overzealous and annoying when retailers start decorating for Christmas the day after Halloween. However, I do love the spirit of the fall/winter holidays. The attitude of gratitude and helping others as well as the excitement and anitcipation as Christmas gets closer and closer is wonderful.
  7. My fuzzy robe- I have this big, fuzzy, gray bathrobe that my husbnad gave me as a Christmas gift a couple years ago. It's a little too warm for summer nights, but once the chill sets in, there is nothing cozier than curling up in my pj's, slippers, and my robe on fall nights.
  8. Flavors -  Whether your favorite is the pumpkin spice, the apple cinnamon, or the slated caramel, the flavors of fall are all delicious!
  9. Candy Supply- Thanks to Halloween, our candy stash is usually handsomely replenished in the fall.
  10. Cool, rainy nights- We have a window in our bedroom that we can open just enough to hear the rain but not let it inside. Fall nights that are cool, but not too cold, when there is rain falling outside are perfect for cuddling and make for some really great sleep!
What are your favorite things about fall?

ANNOUNCEMENT: In January, Tuesday Ten will be celebrating it's first birthday!! No birthday celebration is complete without gifts, and we are planning something fun! Want to help and get some social media exposure, too?  CLICK HERE to go to a form with more information and instructions.

Your Tuesday Ten hostesses are:


The Teacher Wife

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We hope you have enjoyed our #TuesdayTen lists! If so, please link up one of your own and share your post using #TuesdayTen! RULES: 1) Link up a post, old or new, pertaining to the TuesdayTen topic for this week and add our TuesdayTen button to your post or sidebar.
2) Please do not link up contests, product reviews, or sponsored posts. Links not pertaining to the topic will be removed at the hosts' discretion.
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4) Visit as many other linked posts as you can and show those bloggers some love by commenting and/or sharing.
5) By linking up you agree to be subscribed to our #TuesdayTen mailing list. Emails are only sent once a week and you can unsubscribe at any time. If you would like to be added to the mailing list without linking up, click
here.Come link up again next Tuesday, November 18. We'll be thinking about our Lifetime Bucket Lists! What are ten things you want to be sure you do in your lifetime??
The Golden Spoons


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