Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Final Challenge and A Big Announcement

This is the last week of the One Word Challenge. When I decided to begin this One Word Challenge, I had no idea how it would go and, to tell you the truth, I was a little nervous that it might just flop completely. I hoped it would be an opportunity for bloggers to "kickstart" their writing at the beginning of the year, but, what if nobody linked up? What if people thought the word prompts were stupid? I almost didn't do it.

However, my word of the year is CONFIDENCE, so I decided to jump in headfirst. 

To my surprise, the link up has been a huge success!! We have averaged about ten "linkers" each week with a total of 75 posts being linked up over the past seven weeks. I have received emails and comments from bloggers telling me how much they are enjoying the challenge and how it really has helped to inspire their writing. The posts have all been lovely and unique. Every week I have been impressed with the writing and a little shocked by the word(s) everyone chose. 

Last week, as we realized we were quickly approaching the end of the challenge, some of the most loyal One Word participants asked (or kind of begged) me to consider keeping the challenge going. I even had a few new people to ask me about joining it on Facebook. Telling them it was almost over was disheartening. Hosting a challenge is a considerable amount of work, though. While I love the challenge, I was looking forward to a reprieve from the obligation of it. But, the requests kept coming and I felt like I was letting everyone down.

You see, a big part of blogging is building a community; a network of supporters, readers, and online friends. In just the first six weeks of the challenge, that had happened. There were some who linked up every week. We all found new blogs to read and, thus, new virtual friends. We were coming together from all over the world (seriously - Hi Charlene!) every Wednesday/Thursday and sharing our lives with one another. 

How could I let that end?? 

Well, I couldn't! 

So what's the big announcement? Drum roll, please . . . . . 

The One Word Challenge will continue as the One Word Weekly Linkup!! Fortunately, Janine of Confessions of a Mommyholic and Marcia of Blogitudes have agreed to be my co-hosts because sharing the load always makes it easier (and more fun!). Moving forward, the weekly linkup will work much like the challenge has worked. 
  • Subscribers will receive TWO words via email every Friday. (If you haven't subscribed yet, you can do so by clicking HERE.) 
  • The choices will also be shared in the Facebook group
  • Simply choose one of the words, let it inspire you, write a post, and link it up! 
  • You can link up on any of the three host blogs and the linkup will be open from 6:00am EST on Wednesday-9:00pm EST on Thursday.
  • We will start seamlessly next week - emails will go out this Friday and the first weekly linkup will be live at 6:00am on March 4th.
If you have been a One Word linker-upper, thank you for joining the challenge! I hope you have enjoyed it and I hope you will continue with us.

If you haven't linked up, you should consider it! We would welcome you with open arms. If not, that's o.k., too. Thanks for reading and commenting. 

The One Word Linkup will probably not last forever, but it will continue for now and I am very excited about that! 

This was my final post of the 8 week One Word Blog Challenge. This week's word choices were Begin, Surprise, and Forever.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Blogging Story and Five Year Blogiversary!

We all have a story, a history, don't we? Well, if you are a blogger, your blog has one, too. 

I started this blog five years ago on February 26, 2010. I had a very funny mommy story about something my middle daughter had said. It honestly had me crying from laughter and I wanted to share it with others, but it was too long for a Facebook post and emailing it seemed strange. I needed a way to remember it and to get it "out there." 

Back then, blogging was very new and not many people were doing it. I had heard of it, however, so I sat down at my computer and did a little bit of research. I found the Blogger website that allowed me to easily create my own blog, so I did it. Originally, I titled it "Musings from the Queen Bee." I wish I had a screen shot. The first design was VERY different from the current one with a navy blue background and multi-colored polka dots. I typed up that story and emailed the link to a few people and, thus, my bog was born. I wrote extremely sporadically and it was 100% about my kids. I had visions of having it printed and bound someday so I could give it to my girls as a sort of scrapbook. I wanted them to know about my experiences as a mom, so that, when they were moms, they wouldn't feel alone. Whenever I did write, it was though that lens.

Tweet: Every blog has a history - what's yours? #TuesdayTen #Blogiversary #Giveaway @TheGoldenSpoons
Every blog has a history - what's yours? #TuesdayTen #Blogiversary #Giveaway @TheGoldenSpoons

Somewhere along the way, I decided I didn't like the name anymore mainly because the term "queen bee" began to have negative connotations as something to call girls who bullied and controlled other girls. After giving it some thought, I decided on The Golden Spoons - a reference to our last name (Witherspoon) and the idea that my family is more precious to me than gold. I created a rudimentary logo and changed up the color scheme on my blog. I did all this very simplistically within the confines of what the Blogger platform and my skills (or lack of) allowed.

A couple years later, when my youngest went off to kindergarten, I was in a weird place personally. With all of my kids in school all day, I was longing for a sense of self accomplishment other than cleaning and carpool. By then, blogging had become much bigger. There were huge sites like Scary Mommy and The Pioneer Woman that had catapulted a few moms to fame and fortune. One day, as I sat in front of my computer feeling that void and looking for some achievement of my own, it hit me - I had an opportunity right in front of me with my blog. So, I threw myself into it. I began reading tons of other blogs, commenting, following them on Facebook. I tweaked the design of my own blog even more, started a Facebook page and Twitter account for it and determined to make my writing matter. 

That was about two years ago. In that time, I have repeatedly experienced what many would call "blogger burnout" - frustration and exhaustion from giving it my all and getting little in return. With time, however, my following has grown and I have experienced several successes such as being in a book and being featured on sites like Scary Mommy and The Huffington Post. I have learned so much about writing, html code, social media and, most importantly, myself. I have discovered a whole new passion that I had never fully realized before. 

I have also made some wonderful friends. Some of them I have been lucky enough to meet in person and some are friends only via the internet. However, we share our lives with each other on a weekly basis - I know them and their children; they know me and my children. We chat on Facebook and even text each other from time to time. I truly consider them some of my very best friends, something that is probably difficult for those who have not experienced it to understand. 

So where am I today? Five years later? Well, I keep going and I keep learning. I have stopped putting so much pressure on myself to get my writing "out there" and I have learned to try (though it is so hard!) to keep my blog in its proper place on my priority list. Some bloggers actually make money from their efforts. I barely make enough to buy myself a Starbucks a couple times a year. I do it because I love it. I do it because it gives me a voice and a sense of achievement. I do it because it keeps me connected with people who live worlds away, but who have become my "tribe." I do it for the happiness I find in the writing and the successes when they come. I do it for me. I still do it for my girls. I do it for all of you who read. 

And it all started with these ten posts . . . . . . .

  • Kids Say The Darndest Things - This is the story I just had to tell; the one that prompted be to start my blog in the first place. It still makes me laugh.
  • Unexpected Snow Day - This one was super short and I probably should have re-read it last week! 
  • Rachel and MamMaw - This one will always be one of my favorites - a comparison of my oldest daughter to my paternal grandmother.
  • Dodgeball - My first sort of parenting rant.
  • Crocodiles Don't Wear Panties - Yes, that really is the title - another one inspired by a ridiculous thing said by one of my girls.
  • Bittersweet Birthdays - I could repost something similar to this one every year.
  • Inspiration in Monotony - Apparently, I didn't write anything for over four months after the birthday one. When I did this was it. I still love the story in this post, though it is not my own.
  • Witherspoon Worried - I adapted that title from a children's book called Wemberly Worried. I remember thinking I was oh so clever!
  • Baby Books - Oh, the cuteness and sentimentality!! 
  • Family Table - Another super short one about why I think it is important to do family meals together. 
Wow! What a walk down memory lane and, my, how my blog has changed!! None of those posts had "pinnable" images. Some were incredibly short and I'm pretty sure none were ever shared on Twitter or Facebook. Personally, I think my writing has improved, too. Like any skill, it gets better with practice. It's also interesting to know that those 10 posts spanned 11 months - almost a year! These days, I write at least 10 posts every month. 
When I chose this topic for Tuesday Ten, I honestly didn't realize that it would fall the same week as my 5 year blogiversary! However, birthdays always make me sentimental and this was the perfect way to celebrate!! Thanks to all who have been here from the beginning (Hi Mom!!) and to all who have joined me somewhere along the journey!! I hope we'll be celebrating another 5 years in the future!! 

Do you have a blog? Link up and share your story! 
Also, if you remember how we met or how you found my blog, leave me a comment so we can walk down memory lane together!! 

No birthday is complete without presents, right? 
To celebrate 5 years of blogging, I'm giving away five $5 Starbucks cards!
Enter Below! 
Tweet: Enter to win a $5 Starbucks card!  #TuesdayTen #Blogiversary #Giveaway @TheGoldenSpoons
Enter to win a $5 Starbucks card!  #TuesdayTen #Blogiversary #Giveaway @TheGoldenSpoons

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is part of the Tuesday Ten Linkup hosted by The Golden Spoons and The Liebers! For more information about Tuesday Ten including rules and how to join, click HERE!

The Golden Spoons

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Teaching Children About Compassion {#1000Speak}

Compassion. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary it is "a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc."  Today, however, I'm going to define compassion by telling you a story. 

I have three daughters. They have a cousin, A, whom they have never even met. You see, A has Mitochondrial disease - a genetic condition that prevents his muscles from processing energy normally. At age 12, he weighs a scarce 35-ish pounds, is wheelchair bound, and receives his nutrition through a feeding tube. In just over a decade, he has been under anesthesia countless times and had more "procedures" than any adult I know. Yet, he smiles. 

Not quite a year ago, he had a very serious surgery. There were complications and he spent weeks in the hospital. As I followed his progress via Facebook and email, I shared with my girls what was happening. They wanted desperately to help. My youngest even cried and prayed for A. There simply wasn't much to be done, though. Especially by children from a distance. I told the girls the best thing they could do was help the Mitochondrial Disease Foundation so more research could be done to help A and other children like him. I told them about a walkathon A's family does every year to raise money and awareness. Immediately, my girls were on board. 

After some discussion, they decided on doing a bake sale to raise money to donate to A's walkathon team. They spent weeks planning. They enlisted the help of both grandmothers and carefully decided on a menu. They called store after store requesting permission to set up shop. They were repeatedly turned down, but they were not deterred and finally got a "Yes!" On the day of their sale, they set up a table, sold their wares, and informed customers about their cause. They raised over $200 and donated every penny to A's team. 

THAT, friends, is compassion at its finest as demonstrated by three little girls. 

Truly, these girls amaze me. Not only have they done this bake sale, they have had a lemonade stand to raise money to save the whales and they have asked birthday party guests to donate everything from dog food for the local animal shelter to toys for Toys for Tots instead of bringing gifts for them. A lot of their compassion comes from within - an innate gift from a power much higher than me. 

However, I like to think that, as their mom, I do have some part in teaching them how and why to care for others. In a world where there is so much violence and hate, I worry about what the future holds; what the world will be like for these precious girls when they are raising their own families. I hope that I can show my girls a better way. I hope I can teach them to be caring and benevolent. I know I'm trying. Here are some suggestions that might help other parents do the same. 
  1. Give children the opportunity to practice compassion - You have heard these suggestions before, but, like anything, children need to DO compassion to really understand it. Involve them in choosing toys to donate during the holidays or purchasing canned goods to give to a food bank. Have them make cards for someone who is sick or lat them help you cook a meal for your neighbor with the new baby. There are so many ways that even kids can help others.
  2. Manners - I live in "The South" and manners are big deal here, but shouldn't they be everywhere?? An act as simple as holding the door for someone shows you care for them enough to make sure the door does't smack them in the face. While waiting at a restaurant, I have made my girls get up and give their seat to an elderly person. It's a simple act of "good manners" that can mean so much to someone else.
  3. Read to them - There are lots of great books that can help children learn about compassion. Some of my favorites are The Lady In The Box (Ann McGovern), A Sick Day for Amos McGee (Phillip Stead), The Pine Tree Parable (Liz Curtis Higgs), and Have You Filled A Bucket Today? (Carol McCord).
  4. Support Their Cause - When your kids find something they care about, like perhaps having a bake sale to help their cousin, get on board! It may not be convenient or easy, but you have to support the things for which they have a passion.
  5. Model it - As a former teacher and a mom, I love the poem below. It is a HUGE responsibility to raise children who will become virtuous, compassionate adults. We can read a million books, but if we don't model it, they will never learn it. 

If children live in a world of compassion, they will learn to be compassionate people. 

Tweet: Teaching Kids About Compassion - #1000Speak - @TheGoldenSpoons -

Today, February 20, 2015, I am proud to be participating in the 1000Voices Speak for Compassion campaign. Over 1,000 bloggers, writers, and video makers from all around the world are coming together to speak about compassion in an effort to to make the world a little nicer. Want to join us? 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Where is YOUR Paradise?

When you hear the word "paradise," do you picture somewhere tropical and sunny?? Do you picture yourself lounging by the ocean with a fruity drink in your hand? Maybe you envision something like this . . . . 

And, probably not like this:

However, this was my paradise today (Tuesday). I'm an oddball who like winter and, here in the South, it doesn't take much snow to cause a snow day. We had about half an inch of snow Monday night topped off by half an inch of sleet and that was enough for school to be cancelled. Warnings to be issued to "stay off the roads" and that's justwhat we did. My girls and I slept in and lounged in our pajamas until about 10:00. Then we went out and played in the snow/ice. We ran and laughed and had a blast. After that, we spent the afternoon with each of us doing the things we love most. My oldest daughter (12) spent hours on the couch with her tablet in hand furiously typing away on the novel she is writing. (Like mother, like daughter I suppose.) My two youngest daughters played together all afternoon. I sat with my computer typing this post and catching up on blog reading. The evening will have a slower pace as school has already been cancelled again for tomorrow. There will be lots of snuggle snap maybe even a movie night.

That is my paradise. At home with my family. Listening to my girls laugh. Watching them sleep and kissing their freckled cheeks. Resting my head on David's shoulder, wrapped in his embrace.  (Although, he is traveling for work and spent much of his day stuck in an airport trying to get from one city to another. It would be more of a paradise if he could be home with us.) 
This week, we will have some of the coldest temperatures our state has seen in years, but our pantry is stocked and our hearts are full. We are safe and warm. It may not be a tropical island with the sun beaming down on my face, but it is paradise to me and there really is no place I would rather be. 

Just for fun, here's a little paradise video we made for my hubby. :-)

Tell me, what does paradise mean to you??

The Golden Spoons
This post was part of the One Word Blog Challenge. This week's prompt choices were Paradise, Alone, and Regret. Next week will be the last week of the 8 week challenge. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

If I Got My Way . . . . {#TuesdayTen Linkup}

How many times have you a seen child, your own or someone else's, throw a temper tantrum because they didn't get their way? Maybe it was in Target because Daddy wouldn't buy them that toy or maybe it was on the playground when Mommy said it was time to go. Perhaps you've even seen an adult throw their own version of a tantrum when they were not pleased with the way a situation turned out. Most of the time, those tantrums don't fix anything, but what if they did?

It just so happens that today is My Way Day, one of those odd, made up holidays. Inspired by the phrase "It's my way or the highway," My Way Day is supposedly a day when you can whatever you want, however you want, whenever you want! 

So, what if I got my way for a day? Here are 10 things that would happen for sure and I wouldn't even have to lie down in the floor kicking and screaming!!! 
  1. Everyone in my family would eat everything I pack in their lunchbox and/or put on the table for supper without one word of complaining or whining. 
  2. My three daughters would get along for the entire day. No fighting; no bickering! 
  3. Chocolate and pizza would have no calories.
  4. There would be a few more hours each day so I could get more things done or get more sleep. 
  5. Teachers would not assign my children homework. Ever.
  6. I would have the body I had before I had kids, only I wouldn't think it was as fat as I thought it was then because now I know better! 
  7. Someone else would do all the cleaning including laundry, dishes, vacuuming, mopping, and dusting without even being asked.
  8. Of course, it would also be the day that I had a blog post to go completely viral scoring me millions of followers and a guest appearance on all the big talk shows.
  9. Also on the day when I always got my way, I would go shopping. Everything I wanted to buy would be on sale and fit perfectly!
  10. In order to make all that shopping possible, it would, of course, have to be the day I win the lottery, too!!! 

Your Tuesday Ten hostesses are:


The Teacher Wife
facebook pinterest
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, February 24 when we will share links and/or summaries of our first 10 blog posts!!

The Golden Spoons

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

When Busy Gets In the Way

I did it. I swore I wouldn't and I really did try not to. Yet, I'm guilty.

I'm a planner; an organizer. I am NOT a wait until the last minute kind of gal. When I started this One Word Challenge, I debated about how many weeks it should last. Was six enough? Was eight too many? I settled on eight and had full intentions of giving it everything I had. I was going to study the words many days in advance and let them seep into my soul; give them plenty of time to inspire me. I was going to write some wondrously insightful posts a few days before publishing to give myself time to review, edit, and revise. 

Weeks 1 through 4, I did it. I followed the plan. Week 5, last week, I slipped a little, but pulled it off. Now, week 6 and I am typing a haphazard piece at 9:30pm, less than 8 hours before it is supposed to go live. Truthfully, if I wasn't the host of this whole shindig, I would most certainly have just bailed out. I hate doing it this way. I know it's not my best writing and I feel like I'm letting my readers down. 

So what happened this week? Life. 

I talk to my mom on the phone almost every Sunday afternoon/evening and, routinely, she asks me if I'm expecting the upcoming week to be busy. Although I may occasionally mention a kid's field trip or some out of the ordinary obligation like serving jury duty last week, my standard answer is "No, just the usual."

The truth is that "the usual" is indeed busy. A normal, status quo week is filled with rushed mornings, riding lessons, piano lessons, homework, errands that must be run, my part time job, this blog and the associated social media tasks, as well as a husband who frequently travels for work. Throw in a birthday party, various appointments, a extraneous meeting of some kind, or some sort of alteration to the normal agenda and the typical "busy" just gets busier. I don't refer to it as busy, though, because it has simply become routine. 

I used to be a scheduler, mapping out entire weeks in advance. Now, I usually take life day by day because, sometimes, it's all I can do to figure out tomorrow much less try to wrap my brain around the days beyond. 

So, here in week 6, I have faltered, but don't be confused or surprised. Life is just busy and messy sometimes. When it gets a little too overwhelming, we just have to take a breath, relax, and reset. There are two weeks of this challenge to go and I WILL do it better for those last two weeks. I will plan ahead and I will allow time for the words to create a vision and make space in my schedule for the words to flow. 

How are you doing with this challenges or the challenging, busy schedules in your own life?
The Golden Spoons
This post was part of the One Word Blog Challenge. The word prompt choices for this week were guilty, tomorrow, and confused. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tuesday Ten Love List

Weeks ago, when I was working on our list of topics for Tuesday Ten, I looked at the calendar and realized this one would come during the week leading up to Valentine's day. I contemplated "sappy" topics like 10 Things I Love About My Significant Other or 10 Reasons I Love My Spouse. But, honestly, I'm not a huge fan of Valentine's Day and those headings seemed far too cliche and overdone.

Then, I remembered the Love Lists our blog friend Dana does every month and thought it would be a great spin on our Valentine's Week Tuesday Ten. So, with Dana's permission, we are totally hijacking her idea and our own Love Lists today! 

What is a love list? Well, it is simply a list of things you love. It could be recipes, clothing items, beauty products, or even a book and TV shows. Nothing is off limits as long as you love it! 

What am I loving right now? Here is my Tuesday Ten Love List!

  • Cafe Escapes Cafe Mocha - I usually like just a little coffee with my cream and sugar. This stuff tastes just like hot chocolate - nothing extra required! It is how I start my days and, often, how I end my day, too.
  • Kashi Toasted Berry Crumble Cereal - I have a "thing" for cereal, but I have found I need some cereal with a little substance to get me started and keep me going until lunch. I love this cereal that has a healthy helping of protein so it keeps me full longer than the usual bowl full of sugar.
  • Tide Pods - Forget measuring powder or sticky liquid detergent. Just toss one of these straight in the washing machine and you're done. 
  • YurBuds- I used to have a really hard time finding earphones that would stay in place when I was walking or working out. These are awesome! They stay put and are super comfortable.
  • My monogrammed sweatshirt - I bought this sweatshirt from my sisters in law who have there own booming monogramming business called Lola Darling Designs. I wear it all the time! 
  • Taco Boats - Okay, that's not what they are really called, but it's what we call these Stand N' Stuff Soft Tortillas from Old El Paso. We have tacos for supper quite frequently and we all love these!
  • Gardein Meatless Teriyaki Chicken Strips - I don't love these for their flavor. I love these because they make feeding my vegetarian daughter so much easier! When I make a meal, I can throw a few of these in a skillet and squeeze some of the included sauce on top and, Viola! - in less than five minutes I have a healthy meat-free protein option for her. 
  • My new Michael Kors bag - I finally did it! I splurged and bought myself THE BAG - the one I've had my eye on for ages. AND - I bought it in my favorite color, purple! 
  • Mirassou Moscato - My hubby calls this stuff the "girly wine," but I'm a girl, so I don't care! This sweet, smooth moscato is delicious!
  • Soma - I love anything from this store! I have some undergarments, pajamas, slippers, and I'm currently wearing yoga/pajama pants that take comfort to a whole new level!
What are you loving this week?

Your Tuesday Ten hostesses are:


The Teacher Wife
facebook pinterest
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.

Next Tuesday, February 17 is My Way Day and we want to know, if you got YOUR way, what are 10 things you would change or do? 
The Golden Spoons

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