Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Family Meals Together!


I LOVED this post about Family Meal Time and how you can make it work. I agree that our family meals together make a HUGE difference.  This is one way families bond together and family bonding helps kids resist peer pressure!  Click Here to read it!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Kids' Chore Baskets!


Isn't this the most brilliant idea you've ever seen?  I'm totally doing this!  Read about it here.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Get Your Kids to Clean their OWN Rooms!

We have used the above technique and it really works!  (Click the caption to read about it).  The other thing we do that is really successful, is to use a pillowcase or black garbage bag called Mr. Grabby, and each day he grabs all the kids stuff that is lying on the floor of their rooms, (toys, books, clothes).  And to get each thing back, they have to do a job.  On family night we take it out and dump out the things and the kids determine what they want back.  If they don't want it back, it goes to goodwill.  This is a fabulous way to end clutter in your kids rooms!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas blog friends!  I hope these holidays are wonderful for you and your family.  We've had almost 3,000 visitors since this blog first started a few months ago.  I feel blessed by so many of you who also consider parenting your passion!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

7 Last minute Christmas Traditions You can Still Do THIS Year!


Since we have 5 kids, we need simple traditions.  Here are the simple things we've done to make Christmas seem special that don't take a lot of time or money.

1. Secret Santa-  We always find a needy family and give them a special gift, left on their doorstep anonymously.  The kids LOVE to do this.  The gift doesn't have to be expensive, it's the thought that counts.  One year the kids each gave up one of their own presents.  This was our most special year ever.

2.  Nativity Play-  We do a nativity play every year.  Costumes are just bathrobes and towels.  You can read it out of the bible, or if you have a children's book that works just as well.

3.  Santa Letters-  The kid write Santa letters and put them in their stockings on Christmas Eve.  Then that night, Santa writes them a letter back.  They love to read what Santa wrote.

4.  Extra Present-  We give an extra present to the child who has been the most helpful throughout the WHOLE year.  They know this and always work for it.  It is usually a coupon for a lunch out with mom.

5.  Reindeer Food-  We mix oats with glitter (if we have it...sometimes we just use oats) and spread it on the lawn for the reindeer before we go to bed.

6. Bethlehem Dinner-  On Christmas Eve we eat cheese and crackers and olives and things they may have eaten in Bethlehem.  We do this by candlelight to make it special.

7. Read "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Barbara Robinson.  We read this out loud every year for laughs and tears.

What are your Christmas Traditions?

Monday, December 22, 2014

5 Dinner Courtesies You Should Teach your Children


I remember once a nephew of mine said he was struggling with dating because many of the girls didn't know common dinner manners and courtesies.  When I heard this, I immediately began to teach my own children about dinner manners.  Here are some of the things we've taught them over the years.

1. Wait until the host starts to eat before eating yourself.  Also, when dessert is served, wait to start eating your own dessert until the server has been seated and can begin eating.

2. Chew with your mouth closed, and don't talk with food in your mouth.  This seems obvious, but it took practice for my children to master it.

3. Take small bites, and eat slowly.  Young children eat fast when they are hungry and this habit can be off-putting when they get older.  So teach them to slow down.

4. Don't leave the table until everyone has finished their food.  Young children want to get down and run around after they are done, but this can make it stressful for people still eating.  You can help them stay at the table by providing funny papers, or puzzles for them to do while they wait.  Also try to include them in dinner conversation.

5.  Teach them to put a napkin in their lap, and to use it often.  They also need to know how to pass food and ask for it to be passed.  Make sure they are not reaching across people to grab things.

We used to have manner dinners where we would try to practice good manners.  We would light candles and blow them out when anyone broke a manner rule.  The goal was to keep the candles lit as long as possible.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Envelope Budgeting! My Favorite!

LOVED these envelopes!  I'm totally going to print these out.  Envelopes are my favorite way to budget.  They really work!  Click the caption to see and print them out.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Humorous Kid Letters

Click the caption to read 30 hilarious letters written by children. These had me laughing so hard I was in tears!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

MORE Genius Parenting Hacks!

I am a HUGE fan of parenting hacks.  Here are some more from stumbleupon.com.  (Click the caption)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Favorite Meatball Soup


My family loves this fast to prepare Crockpot soup in winter.  Here's the recipe from the book: Taste of Home Slow Cooker Classics:

Meatball Soup (Serves 4)

3 cups beef broth
1 can diced tomatoes (I usually blend these up)
3 bay leaves
1 can green beans
16 frozen meatballs (We like Costco brand)
2 cups uncooked corkscrew noodles (Boil these and add them at the end of cooking time)

Add everything except noodles to the crockpot.  Cook on low 6-8 hrs. or high 3-4 hours.  Cook noodles separately and add at the end.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Strengthen your Marriage

Dating is key in a marriage.  Do not let this tradition slip away.  It will keep your relationship strong.  It is one of the forms of work it takes to keep a relationship alive!  I loved the above article (click the caption to go there)  These are the types of things my husband and I do regularly.  It really works!

Friday, December 12, 2014

When a Child Feels Shame....


When you have caught your child doing something wrong and you notice that they are already very ashamed, there is no need for consequences.  The shame is usually more corrective than consequences are.  Usually in this situation I talk to the child and we work out a better way for next time.  Frankly, I forgive them. This builds trust and I also believe it teaches about forgiveness and mercy as well.

Of course, many times children are just sorry they got caught.  This would be a time to give them a natural type consequence.  But if it is the first offense, and you notice that the child is extremely sorry, I think that the memory of how they felt will change behavior much better than punishment.  (This will also depend on the child's personality, so use your best judgement).

By the way, never purposefully "shame" your child in front of others, or even alone.  This will destroy trust.  Treat them with love and respect, and talk them through their problems, teaching a better path.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Helping Kids Resist Peer Pressure


Over the years, I've noticed there are certain things that help kids resist peer pressure.  Here are some ways we have fortified our kids against pressure to do things that are not consistent with their values.

1. The BIGGEST thing I think that helps is to have a stable home environment.  A stable marriage and a stable parent/child relationship is key, as kids tend to act out their insecurities.  Read more articles on this blog on how to achieve these things.

2.   Family Traditions and Regular Family nights/outings-  Your child needs to feel like they belong to a group.  If your family is not actively doing the above things, they will seek it in their peers.  (Some time with friends is good, but you want them to be more bonded to the family than to their friends).

3. Listen before judging.  Kids need to feel accepted, respected, and loved, if they don't, they will also look for acceptance in their peers.

4. Teach them your values, religious or otherwise.  Children tend to flounder unless they have a system of values they've been taught.  If you are religious, teach them to have a personal relationship with God.  This will give them strength and help them to not feel alone.

5. The Touch Love language-  Make sure you are hugging your kids (girls and boys) and giving them pats on the back or wrestling if that is what they like.  Even if your child is a teen, they need touch.  If they don't get it from you, they will seek it elsewhere.

6. Develop their talents- This will help self-esteem, a necessary component in fighting peer pressure.

7. Keep them busy-  As they get to be teens, they will need to fill their time with good things, so boredom doesn't drive them to bad things.  I've found that a part-time job when they turn sixteen really helps them to stay focused on good things.

8.  Show and tell them you love them always.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Witholding Judgement


One of the skills we need to learn as parents is how to withold judgement.  I remembered this because I failed at it yesterday.  My 17 yr. son was telling me about how his astrological sign was creepy because it was totally true and really nailed his personality.

When I heard this, I just completely went off about the silliness of astrological signs (no offense intended to those who put stock in those things) and I watched as my son's face fell and he walked away.  Then it hit me.  I had reacted foolishly!  He was opening up to me and telling me a little about his hopes and dreams for the future.

Luckily, it's never too late to fix things in a relationship.  Later I went and apologized and talked about how wonderful a person he was and how excited I was for his hopes and dreams, and that I believed in him.  It was a bonding moment.....which could've happened a lot earlier if I had remembered to withold judgement.

Often times we judge and speak before we listen.  We need to listen with our hearts, and trust that our children have good intentions.  Even if they don't have good intentions, if they see that we believe in them, then they will be empowered to make the right choices much more than if we judge and lecture.

One key to not judging I've found over the years is to ask questions first.  Before you lecture, ask questions.  See if that child can come to the right conclusions just by talking it out with you.  It works way better than a lecture, and preserves the bond of love and trust.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Humor


Ha ha ha!  I'm totally getting this stocking for my youngest son!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Love is the Predictor for Success

I just got back from a women's conference that taught lots of classes on parenting.  One of the speakers quoted recent scientific studies that said they watched children grow up and surprisingly, IQ, ACT scores, innate talents, educational opportunities and things like that were NOT a predictor of a child's success as they reached adulthood.  The main predictor was that there was LOVE in the home.


The mothers were not harsh disciplinarians (though there was discipline), but that all the successful children came from loving homes.  Which goes to prove that LOVE is the main shaper of children and increases desire for good behavior.  So keep doing those love languages, and give consequences in a kind, but firm way and without anger.  It will really help your child to succeed!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Love Languages

I am reposting this for the weekend because I feel it is so important, and I'm hoping all parents at some point will have a chance to read this book!

I mentioned in a previous post that one of my favorite books is "The 5 Love Languages of Children" by Gary Chapman,Ph.D.  (The book on teens and the one on marriage are also really great).

I wanted to list the five love languages.  The first love language is "Words of Affirmation." 
This is a great article about complimenting children.

(source: http://www.imom.com)

 Words of affirmation are when you say nice things to your child like, "I really love it that you put your backpack away when you come in the house every day.  That is so helpful!"  You can tell your children need this when they just shine after you give them compliments.  Also they will compliment you a lot.

The next love language is "Quality Time."

(picture source: http://www.schoolsparks.com/blog)

 Some children really need a lot of one on one time.  This is where you take them on a date, or play a game with them, or read to them at bedtime.

The third love language is "touch."  

(picture source: http://www.vanillajoy.com/kid-love.html)

Many children need lots of hugs, pats, back scratches, wrestling, whatever form of touch is most comfortable to them.  You can tell this if they are always hanging on you wanting hugs or to be rocked and held if they are little.  Some children will always hit and tackle you, and that is also a sign that they need touch.

The fourth love language is "Service."

 This is where you do things for your child, like make their lunch for school.  We all know we shouldn't do everything for our kids.  They need to be independent, but we should show them love by doing some acts of service for them.

The last love language is giving "gifts."  

(picture source: www.parentingmojo.com)

This is when you give your child a present like a souvenir from a trip.  Some children treasure gifts more than others.  It is interesting to see how they cherish and put them in special places and take them out often to look at it.  A gift can even be a special rock found at a beach.

The main point I want to make about this is that every child will have one or two "main" love languages that they need the most.  But I have discovered in my own family and through working in classrooms that ALL CHILDREN NEED ALL LOVE LANGUAGES.

Each of my children have a main one, but they crave all of them, so I have to do them all for each child, while being mindful of the one they crave the most.  As soon as I started doing the love languages with my children and trying to figure out what each child needed, my whole family improved.  I stopped having to discipline almost ever because their behavior was so good.  It was amazing.  Now usually they just do what I ask them to do.  If they don't, it usually just takes a small discussion to remedy it.  This is because they are so full of love and security that they want to do what is right.  The reason children act out is because they may feel unloved and insecure.  Not that they aren't getting love, but they may not be getting it in "their" language that they need.  So it is worth researching.

Here is a website to help you figure out your family's love languages.  It is worth the time and effort because it will make your life so much easier and your family so much happier!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Teaching Children to have "Giving Hearts"


This topic always occurs to me at this time of year, and mostly I scramble around trying to make up for forgetting to teach this principle more often during the year.  But luckily, even just teaching it at Christmas time seems to be working well.

The main way I teach this "giving' and "serving others" value to my children is through stories and example.  During our family nights in December I try to find lots of stories about "giving."  I tell the stories and ask the children what we learn from them.  Then after the stories we do some sort of project that will help others.

I think the most important part of these nights is to ask them the question, "How did this make you feel inside?"  after the family service project.  Then I explain to them that giving to others makes us happy.  Our best Christmas was one year when each child decided to give up their best gift to someone who we knew was going through the hard time of losing their father.  The kids still talk about it, and that night feels very special in our memories.

Throughout the year I also try to do many things for others and to let my children see it and participate if it is approriate.  I used to make the mistake of "giving" to others while my children were at school.  But then it occured to me that I needed to let them see me doing things for others.

This year we are going to use this idea from premeditatedleftovers.com.  I'll let you know how it turns out!


Here's an article by Michael Hyatt on growing generosity in your children.  And here is a link to some stories about "giving" to read to your children.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Helping Children Behave in Public Places


We've all had one.  There is always one child who melts down every time you go shopping or to a restaurant.  Even if they are old enough not to.  I've actually had more than one.  So I've developed a method based on advice from my sister-in-law that really works, and it centers on preparation.

Step one:  Before you leave, make sure the child is fed and dressed appropriately.  Make sure you've given him enough attention this day.  If you need to, read him a story to help him feel loved.  Bring water, food, and other needed supplies if you are going to be out a long time.

Step two:  Warn the child that you are going and tell him what your objective is so he doesn't expect you to buy him a lot of stuff.

Step three:  When you are driving to your destination, tell him your expectations.  Tell him the rules of the place you are going.  Have him repeat them back.  You can offer a reward for good behavior, but only if you think it is needed.  Mostly, you should just expect the good behavior.

Step four:  Tell the child that he can only come with you if he follows the rules.  If he has a tantrum you will bring him home and go back later.  Be prepared to follow through and leave your shopping cart if you need to.  Do not tell them this if you can't follow through.  They will stop believing you and test you more the next time.  You must leave every time there is misbehavior, even if it is a fun place like a museum or swimming pool.  You don't have to yell or get angry....leaving is enough to deter the behavior.  Just be loving and firm.  Tell him you are sorry he chose not to stay.  You can even give him a hug and tell him you know he can do better the next time.

Step five:  Compliment good behavior in the store.  Give him a hug or a pat on the back when you are done.  Praise him in front of others when you get home.

This method works every time. We have virtually eliminated tantrums and whining in the store, or misbehavior in restaurants.   The key is consistancy, love, and following through.  I hope it works for your children too!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Teaching Honesty


This is a popular subject because all children try out being dishonest at one time or another.  You may be scandalized, but I have an unconventional view of how to deal with dishonesty.  I actually don't come down hard with discipline on this issue except to teach the correct principle often, and here is why.  I lied a lot when I was a kid.  So did my oldest daughter.  I noticed that when people came down hard on me, I just lied more because I wanted to stay out of trouble.  Same with my daughter.  Eventually, I matured out of it in my teens and so did she.

So what I've done is teach about honesty often in my home.  I teach with stories and examples.  We talk about the natural consequences of dishonesty.  Then when my kids tell a lie, I talk with them about it more....I ask them why they did it...and help them find a better way.  This has been so much more successful than punishment when it comes to dishonesty.  My kids really respond well to this and try really hard be honest.

Punishment just drives the behavior underground, it doesn't change it.  Love and teaching will help them change self-destructive behavior.  You will have to repeat yourself often...but I promise...it worked with my oldest daughter.  She is now the most honest person I know.  And so far, it's working with my other kids.  Here is a link to some inspiring stories about honesty to share with children and teens.  And here is a link to a great article about teaching honesty in your home.

Friday, November 28, 2014

My Favorite Leftover Turkey Rice Soup


My favorite thing to make with Thanksgiving Leftovers is Turkey Rice Soup!  Below is the Recipe.  (I also love Turkey Pesto Sandwiches made with turkey, pesto, sourdough bread, and provolone cheese, all cooked like a toasted cheese sandwich!  Mmmmmmm.)  What are your favorites?

1 turkey carcass
Leftover turkey
Cooked rice
Grated carrots
1 thinly sliced onion

Boil one turkey carcass with the meat mostly removed along with an whole onion and a celery stick or two for 1-12 hours...however long you have time for.  Drain broth, and return the broth to the empty pot.  Add leftover turkey, onion, cooked rice, grated carrots, Sage, Pepper, and Salt to taste (You have to taste it because the amount of spice depends on how much broth you have.  Boil for 30 min.  Super easy and delicious!  (You can also make this in the crockpot, just put the finished broth, raw carrots (use sliced carrots for the crockpot), spices, and cooked turkey in on low for 4-8 hours, and add cooked rice at the end.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Holiday Kid Activities!

THANK YOU!  Sportsmomsurvivalguide.com for these ideas!  I'm totally going to use these activities this year.  So easy and fun!  Click the caption to go to the ideas!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Children Need to Feel Respect


After reading this article about how marriage partners make "bids" for love and respect, I noticed that my children do it too.  You can strengthen or weaken the relationship with your child by how you respond to their "bids."  Often they "fish" for respect or love by issuing a challenge.  I saw it in the home of one of my friends the other day.  The daughter was saying something that she learned in school and the mother was arguing that it was incorrect.  But interestingly, I don't think the daughter was wanting to be "right,"  I think that she was just fishing for her mother's approval and respect.  So I want to keep this more in mind as I deal with my children's "challenges."  It's probably good to ponder what the real reason is behind their challenge.  Are they just fishing for love, attention, or respect?  If so, then it's important to react in a way that validates this need.  Of course, if you need to teach them correct principles in response to this challenge, you can always do it in a soft way that preserves the feeling that you love them.  And lastly, something to remember is that experience is a better teacher than you sometimes.  So if they challenge you that they want to do something that you know isn't going to work, and it's going to be pretty harmless if they fail, tell them that you trust their judgement and will let them try what they want to try.  Though you may want to ask them non-judgemental questions in order to help lead them through their thought processes.  And always remember to do it with love.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Beautiful Christmas Music!

My whole family loved this song by Pentatonix.  What a great way to start talking about Christmas with your family!

Here is another beautiful one!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Break!


I love that baby face.  Babies are so cute with their funny faces.  Here is one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving break:  Cousin time.  I love watching them together.  It's one of the sweetest things about the holiday.  Here are my daughters with their cousins this past year.

Cousins are a great source of my family's strength.  We spend a LOT of time bonding together.  It's nice because whenever my kids are having bad friend times, they can always turn to their cousins.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Your Love Must be Unconditional


I talked with a friend the other day and she was telling me that her children were complaining that she  had favorites.  I had never noticed her to play favorites so I was curious and asked to know more about it.  She said one child was saying that she treated their oldest son differently than the others.  And then she said, "But how could I not give him anything he wants?  He does everything for me that I ask and more."

Now I can't analyze this problem more than just from what she tells me, but it sounds like from that statement and from others she made that her show of love is more effusive when children are obedient than when they aren't.

This is a dangerous practice and here is why.  If you show more love for your child when they are obedient than when they are disobedient,  you are signalling that your love is "conditional" upon their behavior.  This will make them feel unloved and they will rebel, or have hard times or low self esteem.

Your show of love has to be equal to every child whether they are behaving poorly or well.  You can take away PRIVELEGES when they misbehave....but not your show of love.

Children need to know you love them unconditionally, whether they are good or badly behaved.  This love empowers them to behave better.  As they become confident in your love, they will want to please you more...if they think your love is conditional, they won't want to please you at all.  They will be bitter and resentful.

So it's good to analyze once in awhile, whether your show of love is unconditional.  It makes a big difference.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Pizza Night

We have a friday night tradition of pizza and a family movie. One way we make it healthier is making Pita Pizzas.  Here's the recipe:

Take one whole wheat pita round per person.  Top with spaghetti sauce, cheese, turkey pepperoni, or turkey sausage and veggies.  Bake at 400 for about 8-10 min. or until cheese is bubbly.

So easy and fun!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Why do Relationships Last?


I always talk about how the best thing you can do for your kids is to have a healthy relationship, and also I love to tell you to read the book by John Gottman: "Why Marriages Succeed or Fail."  Well recently someone interviewed John Gottman and wrote this article:  "Science says Lasting Relationships come down to 2 basic Traits," for the Atlantic magazine, and it was reprinted by Business Insider.  It's worth reading!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Non Toy Christmas Gifts


If you're like me, you're already scouting out presents, and you are also wondering why in the world you want to bring more toys in to junk up the house.  That's why I loved this article in the Huffington Post.  Tons of ideas for non-toy presents!

One thing my sister does that I want to do is take a family trip instead of opening presents.  Another family I know only gives 3 gifts each Christmas to tone down the "entitlement':  an article of clothing, a book, and a toy.  My sister-in-law skis with her family over the holiday and only has her kids give gifts to each other.  What a sweet way to create memories!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Homemade Toy Storage Ideas

Toy storage doesn't have to be expensive.  You can cover cardboard boxes with paper or cloth and store them under the bed, in a closet or on a bookshelf.  Once I even stapled heavy duty black garbage bags around cardboard and printed out pretty labels (this was for my recycling bins, and probably not appropriate for areas children play because of the plastic hazard, but hopefully it will inspire you to come up with innovative solutions....like....spray paint?) Here is how to make some with cloth and glue.


Here's another one of my favorites:


Friday, November 7, 2014


Is this not so stinkin' easy and cute?  I'm totally doing this with my kids this year!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

My Secret to Success!

I am not joking.  I take naps.  All.  The. Time.  I hope you do too.  If you are a mother you need naps and you should take them when you can get them.  I am way less grumpy with my kids, more productive, and things look less overwhelming when I've had a nap.  So don't ever let anyone make you feel guilty about taking naps.  They will help you be a better mom.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Here, Kitty!

Ha ha!  I found out little skunks don't spray, but it stops your heart just looking at it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Which Parenting Method should you Use?


These days, parenting methods are as numerous as the sands of the sea, and it can be confusing to parents who want to do what's best for their children.  Which method will work best?  Which methods are doomed to fail?  After reading many parenting books and through much experimentation, I have realized one truth.  Many parenting methods work for many different people.  There is not one "true" method.  You have to be willing to experiment with what works for your personality, and for your children's personalities.  Personally, I have patched together a parenting method using several different sources and techniques gleaned from books and people, as kind of a "middle road" approach that works well for my particular children.

There is one truth however, that will help ANY parenting method succeed....and that is consistency.  Your parenting methods will fail if you keep switching them around every other day and don't follow through on your rules every time.  If you aren't consistent with whatever method you choose, you will only confuse your children, and they will have a hard time being successful.

This means you and your husband have to be on the same page.  You have to agree on a parenting style and stick to it.  This is not to say you can never change.  But once you have determined what works, be consistent in how you follow through on rules and consequences...and do it together.  Do not undermine each other.  Talk together, plan and agree about your goals, and then put your plan into action.

When changes need to be made, discuss them together, and then WARN the children that you are about to make a change.  Tell them why.  Get them on board with what you are trying to do. Have them make suggestions.  Their "buy-in" will help your whole family in the long run.

Then, when everyone is on the same page, start your new or revised method, making sure to be consistent.  Children can sense weakness in your resolve, and being children, they will try to use that to their advantage, so be strong.  Believe enough in what you are doing that you want to follow through.  Sometimes I have to pray for strength to do this....and it's interesting that it always works.  Every time.

Consistency and love.  Those are the keys to success.  The parenting method is up to you.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Making your House a Home

I loved this from nessamakes.com!  Just a little bit to do each day so it doesn't get overwhelming!

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Loved this!  A veggie cooking cheat sheet free printable!  Click the caption to go there!