Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Funny Kid Stuff

Tonight I got some great laughs. First, I went to tuck the kids in and found them both on my daughter's bed. She was holding a book, reading, and her older brother was in the 'audience' with Puppy and various Webkinz. He said, "She won't let me read her book so she is reading it to me..." I sat and listened for a while, and then decided I should capture this moment!

Then, as I really was tucking them in, my daughter, 7, said, "I can't breathe through my nose!" So I talked her into trying the neti pot. I've been using it for a few weeks and it works WONDERS! It took a lot of prep, but she finally settled in to taking on the task. Then I heard her whisper to herself, "I can't believe I have to do all the water...I'm just a kid..." I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants. It's funny how they are "just kids" when it comes to their suffering, but any other time, they want to be so grown up! Here is my brave little girl giving the neti pot a go. If you need this picture to convince your little one to try it, have at it!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Talking to Your Baby

My "babies" are now almost 7 and 8. But I came across this article and agree with it 100%. I cannot stress enough to parents to talk to their babies and children. I attribute my children's high intelligence not to genetics, but to the communication they received from the day they were born. If you could have been a fly on my wall when my children were babies, you would have thought I was insane. But I know all that talking paid off...

When A Child Is Sick

I've just realized another benefit to having my children at home. When they are sick, they are here and can be taken care of right away. Often kids suffer through the day because they don't want to miss anything at school (or because they know Mom or Dad is at work and can't be called anyway). Also, they are able to get back to work faster than if they were in school. Sometimes they might not be well enough to attend school all day, but well enough to get work done if they are at home. My daughter has been sick for almost two weeks now. No, it's not the flu...she has one of the worst urinary tract infections she has ever had. I knew that she was having problems, and then when the fever came I didn't know if it was the flu or the infection. After about a week of being sick, she woke up at 4 am saying she felt like she was going to "puke." We went into the bathroom where I noticed she was shaking...and HOT. Her temp was 104.4 so I took her to the ER. Finally, we found out it WAS a UTI and not the flu, and she was put on antibiotics. She feels good sometimes, and bad other times. I would not send her to school like this, but she can get things done when she's feeling well. Of course, I've given her this time off because she is, after all, a year ahead of where she should be. But today...school is back in session. She is not completely better, but that will come with time. Now...Mommy is not feeling so great and I'm hoping that changes soon, too!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What Will Your Child Be?

My children are now almost 7, and 8. It is so funny to watch them and imagine the people that they will one day become. My daughter is addicted to DIY Network and has grown to LOVE landscaping. I thought it was odd when she was excited about helping my parents move a large mound of dirt in their yard when we visited them in July. But now at our own house, she wants to go out and work in the yard everyday. She wants to build waterfalls, move boulders, and plant flowers. It's exhausting!
My son, on the other hand, doesn't like to get too dirty. If he does, it's because he was playing in the yard and not working. He is already talking about creating a website like those that he plays on now. And he will probably do that! He told me a couple of days ago that he wanted to be on a SWAT team when he grows up. I guess that's what I get for letting him see CSI Miami!
My daughter is the dirty one, the one with holes in her jeans from kneeling in the dirt or climbing the trees. But then she puts on her cheerleading uniform and turns into a girly girl like no other. She is the one who has said that she wanted to be a dentist, doctor, nurse (because they get to do all the talking to the patients), and a "hair cutter," all at the same time. But now, I think she's firmly set on designing landscapes for a living, which will be a good career given her artistic ability. She has her life figured out at the ripe ol' age of SIX. Sigh...
What will your child be?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Artificial Colors and Hyperactivity in Children

As a stay at home mom, I get to spend a great deal of time with my children. This offers many benefits, such as getting to know them inside and out and knowing when something is not right with them. About four years ago, when both of my children were eating more junk food than usual, their behavior grew more and more aggressive toward each other and to me. I didn't make the correlation until we ran out of all the junk food and replaced it with healthier options. The two items that stick out in my mind were purple gatorade and popsicles (which is weird, because it was the middle of winter!)
The next day, it was as if I had my normal, sweet kids back and the demon-children had returned to the mother ship. That was the first time I made the correlation between something in these foods and my children's behavior.
This summer, my daughter played her second year of t-ball. It was the last game of the season, and her turn to play "pitcher." She had a great season playing the other positions and was a good, attentive little player most of the time. Her aunt had come all the way from Georgia to visit and to watch the kids play their games. Before I realized it, her aunt had purchased a bag of Skittles and a blue Gatorade from the concession stand for her to eat while we waited for her game to start. By this time, I had already figured out that we needed to avoid as many colored foods as we could, because she consistently complained of headaches and stomach aches, as well as turned into a completely different child when she ate or drank artificially colored foods.
The game began, and as I expected she would, she danced around on the pitcher's mount like she was at a party. She could barely concentrate and it almost looked like she didn't know where she was. As the game went on, I could literally see her coming down off of these colors. The game was extra long, as they wanted to let both teams get in practice. By the end of the game, she was almost in tears as she realized that she had pretty much missed what she had looked forward to all season- playing pitcher better than any other girl on the team.
When you are a parent and you are watching your own child go through an almost drug-like trance, the studies that say that artificial food colors are safe just don't really matter. I've been reading on the internet, and my favorite statement is that "food colors may cause hyperkinetic behavior in children with ADHD..." Well, helllooooo! Maybe that is WHY they 'have' ADHD!! Duh!
Anyway, there are two sides here, most probably because some kids react to artificial food colors and some don't. It's pretty simple really. They can spend millions of dollars on scientific studies, but most parents can probably tell you the truth for free. I found this great article summing up whether or not artificial colors cause hyperactivity that you might find interesting. And, hey, if you notice your kid acting high sometime, think about what he has eaten and chances are, he needs to avoid it. That's not that difficult to figure out, is it?

How to Save Money on Drinking Water

Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably know that our economy is not what it used to be. As a matter of fact, it is probably worse than you have ever seen it in your lifetime (if you are a young parent anyway...) At the same time that we are trying to pinch every penny we can, we are also being told that our tap water is bad, and we need to clean it in order to safely consume it. Or, like many people, we count on other companies to do that for us and we purchase bottled water. Bottled water is one of those things that we may not think much about because we pay a little here, a little there, and we don't see how much we are actually paying for WATER. If we had to pay for our water in one lump sum at the beginning of the year, we would be shocked! Not to mention, getting to see all those bottles that will end up in the landfill. (Yes, I know you recycle. Still not good enough. Sorry!) What's even more scary are the stories in the papers and magazine articles that remind us that the bottled water industry is less regulated than our tap water! GULP.
So what do you do? Since about 2004, we have been drinking tap water that we distill ourselves. Not only is it the purest form of water possible, gallon after gallon, but it is also a cost affordable alternative to lugging home the bottles that waste our precious resources. As a matter of fact, the purchase of a home distiller and the processing of every gallon over a year will save you 70% over bottled water. Learn more at our informative website on water distillers and let me know if you have any questions!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Things All Parents Should Know

First, I have something silly to mention, and then I'll get more serious. This has bothered me for a while, and every time I see it I think about mentioning it on my blog, and well, today is the day. Do you ever buy chocolate chips cookie dough in the little tube? There are two main brands available, probably at every large chain across the country: Pillsbury and Nestle. I used to buy Pillsbury, and not sure exactly why, but maybe it has always been cheaper or something, who knows? But one day...I noticed on the label...that it says, "Chocolate Chip FLAVORED." I thought that was strange, and then read the ingredients. Sure enough, the chips in Pillsbury's Chocolate Chip Cookie dough are not chocolate. They do boast that the cookies contain "real cocoa," while Nestle boasts that their cookies are made with REAL semi-sweet chocolate chips (check it out...it's right there on the label). Maybe this doesn't matter to you, but with the small benefit that chocolate provides to our health, I'm going to get the product with REAL chocolate. Just thought you should know this if you didn't notice it yourself!
On to more serious subjects. The news has really hammered us with stories of the swine flu. No matter what flu hits your area, you want to put up the best defense possible for yourself and your children. Even though my kids stay home, they come into contact with other children (or their germs) during sports, playing outside, church, and the stores. So no matter what your situation, unless you are hibernating this winter, you need to take precautions to keep your kids healthy. How do you do this?
1. Boost immunity. Provide a healthy diet for your children that does not contain soda pop, excessive sweets, artificial sweeteners, and artificial colors. Add more fruits and veggies, fresh water, and good, healthy meats (not hotdogs, lunch meat, or "chicken" nuggets). Give a daily multivitamin.
2. Increase Vitamin D intake. Multivitamins will often contain Vitamin D, but not enough for winter months (or even summer months for most people). Here is a great article (with links to other articles) about the role of Vitamin D in flu prevention.
3. Wash your hands. Here is more information about the flu with a link to a great hand wipe recipe that you can make at home. Many hand sanitizers on the market contain ingredients that you would want to avoid, and they are immune to viruses in the first place. So a good hand washing after being around people or visiting stores is your best bet, or using our hand wipe recipe that IS anti-viral.
If your child does come down with the flu, using high doses of Vitamin C is very valuable to aiding and hastening his recovery. Here is a great article about a man on his death bed who received IV Vitamin C to save his life. I have done this with my own son when he ran a very high fever a few years ago. I did not know what was wrong with him, but with Vitamin C, it doesn't matter. Whether it's bacterial or viral, Vitamin C will help. Within two days he was 100% better. The best way to know that your child has reached saturation levels is by watching his bowels. If he starts getting cramping or loose stools, give less C. I gave my son a 500 mg chewable every hour. He was 4 or 5 at the time. (No, I'm not a doctor...but search for this stuff on the internet and you will find lots more info on this!)
Another thing all parents should know is that all kids need saturated fats in their diets. Dieting parents often feed their kids the same foods they eat, causing a lack of saturated fat in their kids' diets. And by the way, parents need saturated fat as well! If you saw how thin I was and I told you how much saturated fat I consume daily you would either pass out or beat me up. The problem is that we have been told over and over that fat makes us fat. It does not. Read about saturated fat and all its benefits. And give that kid some whole milk!
By the way, to get the best sources of saturated fats, your best bet is to find a local supplier of grass fed cows where you can get beef, whole raw milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, etc. We have been getting our products from a local farm for a couple of years now and we drink raw milk every day (that means unpasteurized, and not homogenized). You can find a source of these healthy products near you at www.realmilk.com .
Well, I guess that's all for now. Here's hoping you have a healthy fall and winter, and that something you read here helps you accomplish that!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Legos Banned from School

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Clq-HDIDipg

Now I don't know what the real truth is here...you know how the media works (both sides). But this really concerns me. I remember when I was in college, learning to be a public school teacher (because EVERYONE is already a "teacher"), that the emphasis was on "cooperative learning." Kids were supposed to have jobs within their group and roles to play to get a community project or task completed. I guess the idea was to teach kids in school how to work well with others because adults in the real world were not able to do it. So how well do you think those cooperative groups functioned? Adults can't do it, so we force it on our kids? I wonder how many cooperative learning activities ended up in bloody noses.
My point is this. Legos is an individual activity. Building uses so many different parts of the brain, and stimulates parts that nothing else can. It is hard work! Why are we then forcing kids to work with other kids (which adults can barely do!) who they probably don't even get along with during mundane activities like lunch, and expecting them to emit a certain behavior? Let the kids PLAY! Let me build my own town, with whatever pieces I got my hands on, and leave me alone! If you want that piece, you'd better come up with a good negotiating plan or get over it. And if my building looks better than yours, then next time get your work done before me and get to the Legos first!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Curriculum for 2-3 Year Olds

I'm in a moms' business group online and recently a few moms asked for curriculum help for their 2-3 year olds. They are eager to get them prepared for pre-K, as I'm sure they have heard nightmares from other parents whose children have problems in school as early as age 4. I am convinced that these problems are not due to a lack of curricula for 2-3 year olds at home and I will tell you why.
Because most parents have been through at least 12 years of worksheets, tests, and bookwork, their only reference for what "school" is makes them think "workbook." So we automatically think we should get our 2-3 year-olds started on workbooks as soon as possible. The fact is, most parents are teaching their toddlers everything they need to know- as long as they are playing with them and not sticking them in front of the television. (Keep in mind that many home day care facilities do just that...hence the "problems" children have when starting school.)
Below are some ideas to help children ages 2-3 build the connections in their brain that will make them excellent learners, readers, and problem solvers as they enter school and beyond:
1. Play with colored stacking cups and foam letters. Both of these can be done during bath time. While playing, your words mean everything. "Can you hand me the big red cup? Can you find the blue cup that fits inside this green cup?" Foam letters can be named as the child places each one on the wall. Start with just 5-6 and then add more as they learn them. It is very easy for kids to learn letters at age 2. Once they learn them, you can start spelling words, talking about the sounds that they make, write them on paper later, etc. If you wait until age 5 to teach this, I promise, you will have a nightmare on your hands. The connections need to be started much earlier, before the child has other things on the brain, such as socializing or sports.
2. Color and draw often. (Another great time to talk about color). You can incorporate shapes into your drawings and ask your child to draw a picture using only circles, triangles, and rectangles. Show your child each shape and let him have at it. Children learn shapes really quickly and the earlier they do, the better. Hang their creations on the fridge, where you can later talk about the shapes again. Later, go around the house and find things that look like the various shapes.
3. Do puzzles. I cannot stress this enough. So many parents miss out on the value of puzzles for children who will need the same skills to learn how to read. Totally different task, but doing puzzles sparks connections in the brain that are going to be used when learning to put the sounds together from each letter when reading. Typically, children who can complete more difficult puzzles are often the same children who have the easiest time learning to read. This is not coincidence and it has little to do with anything the child was born with: it has everything to do with brain development that occurred as a baby and toddler.
4. Build with blocks. If you haven't sat down with your toddler and built with him or her, do it today. When my son and daughter were younger, I remember building with them and realizing all of the different ways you have to use your brain in order to build. It was mind blowing! I actually had a difficult time at first and then as my brain settled into the task, it began remembering the things I had probably learned as a toddler myself. Building promotes problem solving at the very least, but I'm not going to tell you more because you will see it when you sit down with your toddler and build. Make sure you have a good set of blocks with many different shapes to increase the creative possibilities in your child's building. (This will also make connections later for your child as you discuss three-dimensional shapes).
5. Read, sing, and talk to your child often. Admittedly, I was not a reader. I hardly ever read to my children. That sounds horrible! But from the day they each were born, I spoke to them- about EVERYTHING. I had "conversations" with them, talked about what I was doing, where we were going, about the weather, etc. I sang as I rocked them as well. Not lullabies, but silly songs. My daughter, who was often rocked to sleep by her Aunt Susie, learned the words to the Beverly Hillbillies and The Brady Bunch by the age of two. By three, she was making up her own songs. I know a lot of kids do, but hers actually rhymed! My kids love books, despite my neglecting to read to them. They were always there for them and I would read when they brought one to me. We loved looking at the pictures and telling our own stories sometimes. They both also learned to read very easily, my son at age five, my daughter at age four. This is not because their momma is so smart! This is because momma provided the toys and activities above, which prepared their brains for the task.
6. Count things. There are numerous opportunities to count things with your toddler. Point to each object as you count. Don't sit down with counters (there is time for that later) but use natural opportunities that come up in your day to count.
7. Dance. Dance in front of your kids and with your kids. Let them see you be silly. Aside from the physical aspects of balance and rhythm, your child will learn that it's okay to let loose and not to take things so seriously sometimes. We stress our kids out enough with all the things we require of them, especially once school starts. They need to be able to let loose from time to time and know that life is more than learning facts, passing tests, and making the grade. Isn't it?
I know that there is much more to add that you are probably doing with your toddler. But these, in my opinion, are the "must dos." Have fun!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Wasps and Bees and Hornets, oh MY!

If you haven't noticed the increased activity in the Hymenoptera order this spring, give it time! Just like every spring, the first child's scream of, "A BEE!!!!" is usually followed by, "Just leave it alone. If you don't bother it, it won't bother you..."

Sometimes that is easier said than done! I think I've been stung by a wasp once in my adult life (and once as a child). I remember doing something in the flower bed, perhaps weeding, when I got stung on a finger. It hurt. It's definitely not fun! Last summer, we had some giant bushes in front of our house and there was at least one wasp's nest in it. My daughter got stung once. She survived and it was no big deal.

But last week, my son was weeding at his father's house when he got stung by what he described as a hornet. No big deal...he was fine. Then two days later, he woke up to this:

Of course, we had no Benedryl in the house, so I quickly went to the store to get some, just to make sure that the reaction would not affect his breathing. I put a cold pack on it, and waited. He said it hurt pretty bad. I checked after a while, and even with the cold pack on it, it still felt warm to the touch. I got online, and learned that this was a reaction, but not severe. A severe reaction would affect the airway, and I felt pretty comfortable that if it was going to affect the airway, it would have already done so. Another doctor visit avoided!!

I also learned, however, that each sting in the future could produce a worse reaction. I've seen what ant bites do to him, and now what hornet stings do, and I'm thinking about asking for an epi-pen the next time we go to the doctor for something. I can't remember when he was last AT the doctor, but maybe he'll get sick this summer and need to be seen. (Hope not!)

Anyway, I just wanted to share what a frightening reaction can look like so that if your child gets stung, know that it can look pretty bad without being life threatening. And just a reminder, it's always good to have some Benedryl on hand for allergic reactions this spring and summer. I hate giving my kids medicine, but some things just make common sense!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Why Kids Get Asthma

Yesterday I did a really stupid thing. I decided that my regular "natural" bathroom cleaner wasn't enough and decided to clean the tub with Tilex. This was stupid because the last time I used it, I ended up losing my voice for a week. I decided this time that I would hold my breath while I scrubbed the tub, until I felt like I was going to pass out and just told myself I would be okay. I noticed last night that my throat was hurting and thought, "oh no...here we go again..."
So it's 3:48 am and I'm awake right now because around 2:45 am I had an asthma attack. I don't have asthma. I have Tilex in my bathroom and I was stupid enough to use it...again!
I decided that it is time (since I can't sleep and all) to write my annual "why your child has asthma" article so that parents can get some insight into what's going on with their kids. Many people believe that smog has led to the increase in asthma rates. Others believe that vaccines have led to the increase in asthma rates. And while both of these may be true, many parents have no idea that they are increasing the chances that their kids get asthma by what goes on in their very own home.
The first danger comes from the home itself. Paints, carpets, cabinets, and furniture off-gas enough chemicals to cause asthma in grown adults. The second danger comes from how we live in the home- the water we shower in, the cleaning products we use, and what we eat. Many people don't realize that showering for 10 minutes in unfiltered municipal water (which has been chlorinated) is worse than drinking the same water all day. We must provide filtered water for children to shower! We also use cleaning products that are searing their little lungs. I hate the fact that I even have Tilex in my house, and never use it around my children. (After today, it's probably going bye-bye). Bleach is toxic; anything containing bleach or chlorine should be considered toxic and never used around children. Chlorox has come out with those nifty wipes that seem really convenient, but leave a residue on surfaces that children touch. There was a study done on those and children's ability to function was altered after the table they were sitting at was wiped with chlorox wipes. While those things seem obvious, what children eat may be the hidden cause of why all the little things add up and finally cause breathing problems in children.
Here's the deal. Children need fruits and veggies. They just do. And if they are eating like you...they probably aren't getting them. They are likely getting processed meats, lots of breads, partially hydrogenated oils, plenty of sugar, and nifty preservatives in almost everything they eat. All of these foods cause inflammation in the body. Changing a child's diet to fruits, veggies, grass fed and natural meats, olive oils, and raw dairy (yes, you read that right- unpasteurized dairy) will greatly reduce the chances that he or she will ever have asthma, as well as decrease the incidences of asthma attacks in "asthmatic" children.
Another way to decrease asthma incidences is to use an air purifier to help reduce the amount of chemicals they are breathing in. While I would definitely shop for safer cleaning products, as well as look for earth-friendly furniture and house components, it is cheaper to start off with an air purifer like the Airwise. This product should be in every asthmatic child's bedroom and classroom. They are amazing, and I have 4 in my home right now. They work great for any kind of allergy such as cats, dogs, pollen, etc. and they reduce formaldehyde in the home.
I think parents today have grown too accepting of asthma, as it seems to be the "in" disease and everyone seems to have it. I always wonder why parents don't stop to think if there is something that is causing it that they might be able to change. I was fortunate enough when my son was three and developing asthma and allergies to come across information about nutrition and vitamins that turned his health around. We started him on REAL children's vitamins (NOT Flintstone!) and his health was restored almost immediately. So focus on nutrition on the inside, and changeable factors on the outside, and you will be WAY ahead of most parents who load up on inhalers and steroids and visit the doctor every month!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Spoiled American Brats

I've got to get on my soap box today. I've watched so many shows on this and I'm tired of it!! Yesterday on Dr. Phil (which I rarely watch these days) there were couples who were "no longer in love" or "really stressed" about losing a job or possibly losing a job. There they sat in their nice clothes, watching their lives on tape...in really nices houses with expensive furniture and "toys" as they complained about not being able to go out to eat anymore. Ahhh...poor babies!
What is WRONG with us? At least two couples in the past couple of weeks claimed to have made over $100,000 a year before losing one of their jobs, and that they had done "everything right". Getting a college degree and working hard at your job is NOT doing "everything right," folks!! Get over yourselves!
I know what it's like to suffer a job loss. I remember going from $90,000 per year to NOTHING in one day. And it was SO liberating, let me tell you! I've got friends now that have been laid off. Do you think their loved ones will let them go homeless? Probably not. But should it come down to it, some things are going to have to go. This is common sense, isn't it?
Americans have become so enchanted with the lives that they think they are entitled to, that we have become blinded by how ridiculous our expectations are. Why should we graduate from college and expect our lives to rise to the level that our parents provided after decades of hard work? So you're making $80,000? How much are you saving for the "unexpected"? Are you buying the biggest house you can, the nicest car you can, and all the toys? Then don't cry to me when you lose that money and can't go out to eat anymore!!
I am a mom of two children making a living off of way less. If I stuck them in school and really worked my business full time I would make much more, I'm sure. But teaching them at home, living in a very small house (with very cheap utilities), and teaching them about conservation and living without materialism has provided us with savings every month. I don't shop at Wal-mart. When we need something, we get the nice stuff that will last. Instead of buying everything they might want, I pay good money for the things we need. That is my participation in this economy. I know that people see where we live and think we are dead broke. They don't get that we CHOOSE to live here because it provides us the time and money to travel, camp, go to the zoo, or just play outside all day if we choose. We are living our lives right now, while Americans are spending every hour of their days trying to make more money so they can retire one day and start living. I hope that more people will figure out what life is all about before they go broke and homeless. Then I won't have to watch the whiners on TV anymore!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Easter Pics

I've been a little distracted this year and realized I just posted about my son's birthday, which was AFTER Easter, and I forgot to share pictures from Easter! I was just reminded because my daughter just came to me telling me that she wants to get baptized on Sunday. We had a long talk about Jesus and of course Easter came up. She informed me that she wants to pray to ask Jesus into her heart on Saturday, and then get baptized on Sunday. Sounds like a girl with a plan! We'll see if she comes back to me Saturday or not

Anyway, here are the kids coloring Easter eggs and the finished eggs. They had so much fun!

My son is 8!

I still can't believe it. I remember his birth like it was yesterday. Even more so, I remember the labor, and that he will NEVER live down! My son is just an awesome kid. He works hard, plays hard, and still loves his Mommy more than anyone on earth. I feel very priviledged to be his mom and to see those light bulb moments daily as he pieces together this thing we call "life." I have seen him go from a 5 year old too timid to get in the soccer game, to a fearless player that really understands the game. I have seen him learn how to put his face in the water (finally!!) and take off at the pool. I have seen him go from a beginning t-ball player to hitting every pitch from the pitching machine. I have seen him become a wonderful Christian young man, who loves to help people whenever he can. I am truly blessed! Here is the smile that greeted me on his 8th birthday, April 22, 2009:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Life Before DVR

I try to, but just can't imagine life before we had DVR. HOW did we suffer through all those drawn out shows with all those PAINFUL commercials?! I guess we had to go pee, fix our popcorn, or check our email in 3 minute spurts of time. How crazy was that?!
The other day I was doing the dishes and for some reason started thinking about DVR (digital video recorders) and how they have changed our lives. And I got to wondering, when are the ad campaigns going to catch up with this technology? Ever since I've had a DVR, (which has been about a year or so) I've wondered when it was going to "hit the fan" so to speak. I mean, do people realize that nobody's watching those commercials anymore? Well, I know some people are, because plenty of people haven't caught on to the NEED for their own DVR, but eventually, it's going to happen. Advertisers will know that they are wasting money on television ads that no one is watching. And here's my thought. Why not just create a simply "billboard" style ad where the screen says exactly what you want the viewer to get from the ad, and if the viewers fast forward through it, they can still read the ad! I'm such a genius!
Many of my friends say that DVRs are too expensive. I say, they are crazy! As a matter of fact, they are wrong. If I were to sit down and calculate the amount of time I have saved by fast forwarding through commercials, I would come out way ahead. After all, time is money, especially when you are self-employed. And the convenience of being able to record your favorite shows and watch them when you want...you can't put a price on that. I don't even know when most of my shows come on. I check my "list" to see what's recorded and watch them- or not. Sometimes I save shows until the weekend or for a time when I know I won't be as busy.
And if you are a fan of American Idol you HAVE to have a DVR. I don't listen to half of what Ryan says, and the day that someone gets booted...YOU can wait until "after the break" but many times I fast forward all the way to the end. (Though last night I did watch Jennifer Hudson and Miley Cyrus perform. Is it just me or did it look like Miley was just starting out in the biz? She looked so nervous and unsure of herself, I couldn't believe it. And her annunciation...HORRIBLE.) Anyway...if you are one of those who thinks paying extra for DVR with your dish service is "too expensive" I beg to differ. It is well worth it and before long, you will be wondering how you went so long without it!
P.S. I finally got an Mp3 player for Christmas and don't know how I put it off so long. I can carry my music with my anywhere I go!!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Susan Boyle sings "I Dreamed a Dream"

47 year old Susan Boyle wowed the audience and the judges from the get go when she belted out "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables on tevelevision show Britain's Got Talent. It's amazing how such talent can be hidden in the most surprising places. If you don't watch this video now, you will hear others talk about it and wish you had seen it...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY

Giving Everything Your ALL

I write about sports a lot, mainly because it's a big part of our lives. Currently we are playing soccer. It's funny to me how many life lessons can be learned through sports alone, and parents who don't sign their kids up for sports- they are missing out!
Recently I started rock climbing again at the YMCA. I haven't climbed in over a decade, so it's as if I'm doing it for the first time. On a couple of difficult climbs, I got a really good picture of "mind over matter." It's amazing how much our thinking affects our ability to do things. About halfway up, I started telling myself, "I don't think I can do this..." And had I let myself continue that way of thinking, of course, I wouldn't have been able to make it.
I decided to take it one handhold at a time, and not give up until I fell. And guess what...I made it. I realized that the worst that could happen is I would fall. As I said, "Of course you can do this...not much further...grab onto the next handhold, and if you fall you fall..." I kept moving upward. And eventually I was there.
How often do we see kids give up before they get "there"?
I am coaching my daughter's U6 soccer team. I am not coaching because no one else wanted to, which is often what happens. I am coaching because I love teaching, I love kids, and I love seeing those little victories every time a kid gets something. We practice three times per week, but the kids only have to come to two practices if they want. Most kids have come to every practice. It's amazing how much kids learn when you teach them. I give coaching my all, because if I didn't I'd be wasting their time and mine. And I expect them to give me their all as well.
This partnership pays off! Unfortunately, the opposite is true. If coaches don't put their all into coaching, the kids won't either. They won't know what they're doing, and they won't pursue excellence in what they do because they don't know what excellence is. We tell kids to try their best all the time, yet the examples we show are often far short of our best. How can kids say, "I can do it!" when they don't know what "it" is?
If you find yourself in the, "I'm coaching because no one else would..." spot, don't give it less than your best. The kids deserve better, and all it takes is learning about the sport and sharing what you've learned. You never know, you might love the sport in the end!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Today is Easter...

Today is Easter and it is one of the strangest Easters ever. Already today I have experienced a number of different and new things that show me why today is so important to me, and how the peace that Jesus brings me because of this day is so important in my daily life.
Today was the first Easter in 7 years that I have woken up without my kids. They spent the night at their father's house and I won't see them until tonight. I saw them at the community Easter egg hunt yesterday, and of course at the soccer games my son had, but as I got ready for church this morning, it was really quiet. No egg hunts, no "look what I got in MY basket!", and no arguing. (That part was kinda nice!) It occurred to me that raising the best children possible is not about pouting because I can't have things the way I would prefer, but about doing daily what needs to be done so that they KNOW what they need to know when they leave my house for college, or for whatever is ahead on their paths.
And speaking of church, today I attended Life180, a start up church in my friend's home, which I've attended for a few weeks now. It was SO chaotic! There was a technical problem with the music, which is played via a computer and projector. So we decided to do the sermon first (which is through a video feed that is recorded the night before). There were more kids present than adults, and the kids had no interest in being quiet. (When it's not your kid, it's easy to tune them out!) When we finally got to the music, I could not sing because I have a cold and my voice is hoarse. Could it GET worse?!
I say all that to point out how imperfect church was this morning. Because as I stood there (not singing) and listening to the voices during worship, I realized that the realness of that room brought more to my heart than the perfection of "church service" that is more about who will do what, how everything sounds, and getting out in time to eat lunch before everyone else.
I forgot to mention that it's raining today. And that I sat in pee at church. But what I hope you get in all of this is that when the little things pile on top of one another, they still cannot pierce the love Jesus Christ has for each and every one of us, or the peace that His love can bring to each of our lives. Knowing that peace is the best thing that you could ever imagine, and it carries over to the rest of your days.
If you attend church every Sunday and you lose that peace, perhaps the perfection is getting in the way of the Holy Spirit, who often speaks to us through chaos. Listen in the quiet. Listen in the chaos. No matter where you are, He speaks to you there. God bless you all!

Friday, April 3, 2009

A Lesson in "Mothering"

I received this story in an email, and was able to confirm its authenticity from the source. As I read it, I realized that many parents could learn a lot from this dog. If only we could all love unconditionally as this...
Jasmine

In 2003, police in Warwickshire, England, opened a garden shed and found a whimpering, cowering dog. It had been locked in the shed and abandoned. It was dirty and malnourished, and had clearly been abused. In an act of kindness, the police took the dog, which was a Greyhound female, to the nearby Nuneaton Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary, run by a man named Geoff Grewcock and known as a willing haven for Animals abandoned, orphaned or otherwise in need. Geoff and the other sanctuary staff went to work with two aims: to restore the dog to full health, and to win her trust. It took several weeks, but eventually both goals were achieved. They named her Jasmine, and they started to think about finding her an adoptive home.
But Jasmine had other ideas. No one remembers now how it began, but she started welcoming all Animal arrivals at the sanctuary. It wouldn't matter if it was a puppy, a fox cub, a rabbit or, any other lost or hurting Animal, Jasmine would peer into the box or cage and, where possible, deliver a welcoming lick.

Geoff relates one of the early incidents. "We had two puppies that had been abandoned by a nearby railway line. One was a Lakeland Terrier cross and another was a Jack Russell Doberman cross. They were tiny when they arrived at the centre and Jasmine approached them and grabbed one by the scruff of the neck in her mouth and put him on the settee. Then she fetched the other one and sat down with them, cuddling them."
"But she is like that with all of our animals, even the rabbits. She takes all the stress out of them and it helps them to not only feel close to her but to settle into their new surroundings."

"She has done the same with the fox and badger cubs, she licks the rabbits and guinea pigs and even lets the birds perch on the bridge of her nose."

Jasmine, the timid, abused, deserted waif, became the animal sanctuary's resident surrogate mother, a role for which she might have been born. The list of orphaned and abandoned youngsters she has cared for comprises five fox cubs, four badger cubs, 15 chicks, eight guinea pigs, two stray puppies and 15 rabbits.

And one roe deer fawn. Tiny Bramble, 11 weeks old, was found semi-conscious in a field. Upon arrival at the sanctuary, Jasmine cuddled up to her to keep her warm, and then went into the full foster mum role. Jasmine the greyhound showers Bramble the Roe deer with affection and makes sure nothing is matted.

"They are inseparable," says Geoff . "Bramble walks between her legs and they keep kissing each other. They walk together round the sanctuary. It's a real treat to see them."

Jasmine will continue to care for Bramble until she is old enough to be returned to woodland life. When that happens, Jasmine will not be lonely. She will be too busy showering love and affection on the next Orphan or victim of abuse.

From left, Toby, a stray Lakeland dog; Bramble, orphaned Roe deer; Buster, a stray Jack Russell; a dumped rabbit; Sky, an injured barn owl; and Jasmine with a Mothers heart doing best what a caring Mother would do... Such is the order of God's Creation.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Traveling with Children

Last week, my kids and I went on a trip back "home" to Georgia. In all, it's about a 17 hour drive from where we live in Kansas. Oh, did I forget to mention that we brought our dog along, too? I bet you are expecting the rest of this post to sound a bit like a nightmare, and I'm sorry to let you down! The traveling part was actually no big deal at all! Yes, my kids tend to fight. And they also get along really well. And no, I don't know what it is about them, but they have always traveled quite well. I wish I knew the secret to offer to parents whose kids whine, complain, argue, etc. from the backseat, but in 17 hours, I heard very little. And let me remind you...a good portion of the trip is through what some people call "boring" Oklahoma and Kansas.

On the way out, we were in the car by 4:40 am. My son stayed up all night, so he was asleep within 30 minutes. My daughter, who had gotten a couple of hours of sleep, held out a little longer. She was also the one who woke up when I stopped to get gas the first time, and of course, had to potty. It was snowing! About six hours into the trip, they were both awake, and we listened to music from my mp3 player. (In case you don't know this, for older vehicles, you can get a thingy that plugs into the cigarette lighter that allows you to play your mp3 player through your radio.) We had already been through snow, freezing rain, and now RAIN. As a matter of fact, it rained the rest of the trip and rained for three days once we arrived in Georgia.

Just past Little Rock, Arkansas, my van engine started rattling. This terrified me since I had just had $1300 of work done on my 14 year old van! I pulled off an exit where there were 4-5 visible hotels. I figured if we were going to get stuck somewhere, this would be the place! I went to one hotel and asked where there was an auto shop. They directed me about two miles away, and when I got there, I wanted to turn around and leave. It was a dump and scared me! Luckily, they did not work on Nissans, but directed me to another shop at the next exit. The man who helped me had most of his teeth and this shop was much less scary! After driving it 40 miles (with the dog still in his crate in the van!) the man came back and said that there was no rattling, but perhaps I had gotten some bad gas and it had worked its way through the system? YAY!!

After that, (and because I had only gotten two hours of sleep the night before) I decided we should stay overnight in West Memphis. We found a decent Motel 6, which was close to Waffle House, and they are pet friendly. Yay again! But I did learn something that might help you...make sure you tell them that you want a room with Wi-Fi if you need it. They had a big red sign that read "Wi-Fi here" or something like that, on the outside of the hotel. But once we got settled in and we needed the activation key to get online, we found out it's only available in certain rooms! Unfortunately we had a new girl check us in, and she neglected to ask if we needed it. Fortunately I was too tired to care too much and I fell asleep before 8 pm. The room was about $40 and decent enough. A great place to crash just to re-charge and finish the trip.

The next day, we were supposed to go through Tuscaloosa and see a gymnastics meet between Alabama, North Carolina, and OU (University of Oklahoma). The kids decided to skip that and go directly to their uncle's house, so that's what we did. We went through Birmingham instead and the drive was quick...and then we hit "Atlanta" traffic. We were just in Kennesaw, but if you live anywhere near, you know that it takes forever to get anywhere, and that is why I moved to Kansas! After staying there for a couple of days, and getting treated to Japanese, The Varsity, Chick-fil-a, and the new movie "The Race to Witch Mountain," we left for my sister's house about an hour away.

We met at the Gwinnett Arena, where we got to watch the "last place" Gladiators kick the tails of the first place FL "Everblades." It was SO much fun!

During the rest of the trip I was able to reconnect with old friends, visit my parents, spend some time at Bass Pro Shops, shop at the Lego store, get a tattoo, eat LOTS, swim at a cool indoor pool, and... wow, I think that's it! When I left GA, I drove to Murfreesboro, TN to visit my childhood friend, where we spent the night. From there, it was 13 hours to get home. So we got up around 4:30 again, and drove on a Sunday, all the way home. Other than the people who don't know that the left lane is for passing, (grrrrrrr) the trip was uneventful. The kids didn't even watch any TV during this trip, even though we had two TV's available and some new movies that we bought on the trip (because we brought the DVD player and forgot to bring any movies! d'oh!) When I got a chance to look in the rearview mirror, I saw them looking out at the scenery, and I wondered if they were like me...making up stories about the things I saw out the window. I'd been doing that since I was a little girl. During this trip we saw farmland, lakes, rivers, cool bridges, mountains, and lots of other travelers.

I can't wait to get on the road again. If you have never taken a road trip with your children out of fear of their behavior, just do it! It may work out much better than you expect and you might find yourself a few adventures in the future!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Personalized Children's Gifts

This is going to sound really strange, but it is what it is.... On Valentine's Day, my kids and I were at Border's and I let them each pick out a book. My daughter came to me with a book called "Evie the Mist Fairy." Apparently there is a series of books with different fairies that represent different weather conditions. Anyway, as I flipped through the book to make sure it was appropriate for her, it occurred to me how good it felt to see my name on the pages! "Evie" is not a very common name, so you don't see it everywhere. I've seen it on TV, and a couple of movies, but during my lifetime it's been rare. Then I thought how children must feel when they see their own name in books! Created 4 Me is a great place to find a personalized book for your own child. Another is "I See Me". These gifts, while a bit higher in price, will prove to be one of your child's favorite gifts and something he or she will treasure for years to come! I'm a mom myself and STILL get excited about seeing my name in print!

Personalized Children's Books.  Click here!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Writing Stories

As this school year has progressed, I've found myself becoming much more lax in our schooling. And my kids seem to have learned more than ever! There are days that they choose to build with Legos all day, and I just let them. They learn WAY more doing that than they do in "school" and heck, they learn the information in school in a few minutes...why not give them that time?
Recently my daughter, who just turned 6 in November, asked, "Instead of doing handwriting, can I have a book where I can write stories?" I didn't "give" on the handwriting, but I did say that the stories sounded good. I gave each of my children a simple spiral bound notebook. I did not tell them to write anything specific. I just said to write. What came back completely blew me away. My son will be 8 next month. He filled up an entire page and a half with a great story about a puppy that went missing. My 6 year old wrote an amazing story as well. I was totally impressed! They even drew pictures to go with them.
There are a couple of lessons here. I haven't mentioned yet that I had been stressing about my son's writing. His handwriting is "okay" but early on, he had difficulty even TELLING stories, because they weren't true. So I thought, "oh no, how am I going to get him to write?!" So I let it go. He is in 2nd grade and I've never made him write anything, other than the answers to his school work. So all of that worry was for nothing, because not only did he love it, the product was wonderful, and he sat for two hours to write it WITH JOY! Think about all the schooled kids that are forced to write things who end up hating it...I remember those days! I'm sure we will deal with that at some point, but for now, I'm enjoying the pleasure they get out of writing as much as the pleasure I get out of reading them!

Better to Bless

As a single mom, there come times that I really miss having someone to put his arms around me and say, "Everything's going to be okay." I was reminded by a dear friend recently that we are to rely on God for these needs, and that is so true. Even married moms, who don't have a great relationship with their husbands, or whose husbands travel or are fighting our war in Iraq...we all have a longing from time to time for more than what we have. Whether it's comfort, love, forgiveness...we have needs. And I have to say, especially during that "time of the month"...we have needs! lol
I have come across a really great program called Better to Bless. For some great inspirational videos, click on that link and then go to "the movies" where there are currently three to watch. They all remind me, personally, that everything IS going to be okay. And they say so much more! I hope you enjoy the movies, and I hope that you pass them on to friends and family who you know could use them, too. Also, check out the other programs on this site and always remember to pass your blessings on. You never know the lives you will change by the "little things" you do!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why I LOVE Watching Sports

Tonight I just saw one of the best basketball games I've seen in a LONG time. Before Christmas I saw a great high school game where our team all came together and made magic on the court. It was so much fun to watch. But tonight's game was University of Oklahoma and Texas. I only watched from half time, just in time to see Blake Griffin, star sophomore forward, suffer a concussion after taking a blow to the nose. (I kept rewinding it but could not figure out how this happened. I don't know how the ref's see all the little things that they do. It all happens so fast!) You could feel the "uh oh!" in the air. Now we all know that one player does not make a team. And the Sooners demonstrated that tonight! Willie Warren (freshman guard) went on, I believe it was, a 14 point streak shortly thereafter, and I can't tell you how many 3-pointers he made. A LOT. One great 3-point shot went in OFF THE BACKBOARD! His last 3-pointer was followed by what looked like an ankle injury but turned out to be a bad cramp.
Texas had their own heroes, and ended up winning by just a few points. I figured out tonight why I love watching sports so much. I spent most of the day in bed (okay, all of it) because I've been fighting this darn sinus infection and, well, because I could! I started feeling better around 7 pm, but by the time the game ended at 10 pm, the energy from the game came right out of the television and into my body. Even though my team didn't win, I saw some great basketball. It reminded me of the great plays I made as a kid on the field, as well as the great swims that nobody thought I would do. Seeing the talent on the basketball court, I know these guys have such great memories from little league all the way through high school and college. Sure, sometimes we mess up. But those great plays and moves always stick in the brain longer. They make us realize that when we work hard enough for something, we can do great things.
I also like watching little league games. I've seen a number of kids make awesome plays and it feels so good to know that when they are attempting something difficult in their lives, they will probably remember that play, and realize they CAN do it. My daughter is learning, at the tender age of 6, what hard work can accomplish. She started taking gymnastics at the Y this month, and while she only has class one day each week, she has practiced just about every day at home. The progress she has made is absolutely amazing. She has always loved tumbling and swinging. She had a natural ability to walk on the beam, even as a toddler. But she is now learning what her body is capable of and how she can teach it to do a handstand, cartwheel, or back walkover, and how much easier it gets each time she starts a new practice session. She is learning SO MUCH through this, all on her own! (And I can't wait to show her the DVR'd "Tyson American Cup" where 13 year old Jordyn Wieber won the competition).
So when I watch sports and see improvement or just some awesome plays, I know that people out there are putting their all into something, and you know, I guess it just makes you realize that there are still good things happening in the world. And no matter what the decade, every generation has that in common!

Friday, February 20, 2009

The CPSIA Meets Dr. Suess

If you know anything at all about the crazy legislation regarding lead testing for children's products, you will appreciate this wonderful "Dr. Suess" style poem!

http://www.easyfunschool.com/the_CPSIA_meets_Dr_Seuss.html

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sick in the City...Country...Wherever!

I've been on facebook a lot lately, and it seems like people everywhere have something right now, or their kids do. It all hit at the same time, right around the middle of January. Sure, it's cold and flu season, but it almost feels like these things are going through the internet! I was super healthy, working out everyday, when it hit me. First I woke up with some really bad gunk. I still blame this on cleaning the bathroom with a chlorox product, which I usually run from. A few days later, I lost my voice. Within a week, I was 100% better, and the next day, I woke up with something else! So for the past two weeks I have been coughing, blowing, and sniffing. I have never in my life encountered so much gunk! Seriously! I woke up Monday with such a bad headache, I knew that the gunks had over populated every possible cavity in my skull. I would blow my nose every two minutes and there was just more again ready to come out right after. My hearing was bad...it was time to go to the doc. So I went, and got a z-pak and some sort of decongestant that didn't seem to work at first. But tonight, after a little more than 24 hours, I can finally taste my food again! My nose is drying up, my cough is calmed down, and I think I just might live! Chances are, you or a child is sick right now. I feel for ya! Sometimes they just sneak in there. If you aren't, keep eating your veggies, wash your hands a lot, and stay awa y from the sick folk! My kids stay healthy by taking their vitamins. Also, try and get more sunshine this winter. Dr. Mercola blames cold and flu season on lack of vitamin D. I believe him! I tan once a week during winter, and when I didn't for a couple of weeks...I got sick! Coincidence? Perhaps...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Super Bowl is over...now what?

I guess I'll keep on watching basketball, but there's something disappointing about the end of the football season! College football has been over for about a month, and it's been fun watching the NFL playoffs. And I guess basketball started over a month ago. I've been watching basketball and the thing about basketball is that there is ALWAYS a game on! With football, they don't play as often, so I guess it's easier to appreciate Saturdays or Sundays for the games and doing absolutely nothing while you cheer on your favorite teams.
Anyway, it was a great game last night. I wanted the Cardinals to win, but even though it wasn't the outcome I hoped for, I can't complain about the game. It was up, down, right, left! Awesome entertainment and something you could not script if you wanted to. I secretly hope that Kurt Warner decides to play another year and that they make it to the Super Bowl next year. This was a miracle year, but next year, who knows? I've seen them make some amazing plays and darn it, I want to see some more!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Greensburg, KS Lookin' Good!

I'd been meaning to make it out to Greensburg for a while, and finally we were able to take a day and go last week. We watched the "Greensburg" documentary on Planet Green last year, so we wanted to see the progress that had been made since the last episode that we saw. I'd never been to Greensburg before, so I couldn't really compare before and after. But I can tell you that I saw a lot of hustle and bustle as construction workers "did their thing." We saw lots of new houses, and of course, the 5-4-7 Arts Center. While the town still has a long way to go, it seems like they continue to move into the future in a positive way, while making sure current residents are able to live, go to church, go to school, work, etc. I was very impressed. Here are some pictures that we took. We got their late in the afternoon, so we didn't get to take as many as I wanted since we were fighting the sunset. It was a beautiful day!
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=11193&id=1545241314&l=7eb9b

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tim Tebow was Homeschooled

If you watched the BCS Championship game last week between the Florida Gators and the Oklahoma Sooners, you've probably heard this story before. But I felt it important to mention here, because I'm hoping that the Tim Tebow story is a wake up call to all those school districts who have the authority to allow or disallow homeschooled kids to participate in extra-curricular activities in their schools. Lucky for Tim, (and the Gators) the state of Florida passed a law allowing homeschooled kids to participate in school sports. To my knowledge, in my state it is up to each district. I'm hoping that Tim's story, and many others sure to pop up between now and when my children are in high school, will influence the leaders in my district should my children want to participate in a group sport one day.
You can read more about Tim here.
I'm really not sure why a school district would want to hold back a child who wants to participate in school sports. The fact is that everyone pays taxes to the schools, and just because our children don't attend does not mean that the school is missing out on anything. Yes, I understand that each school gets so much money per student per year. And if my children are not counted toward that number they get no money for them. And? What does that have to do with school sports? Absolutely nothing. Telling homeschooled students "no" is basically a way of trying to force them to attend school, even though standardized tests tell us over and over again that it's not the best thing for the student. It will be interesting to see what happens as time goes on. To all those states and districts that allow and encourage homeschooled students to participate in school sports, bravo to you! The funny thing about homeschooled students is that they have HOURS to perfect their sport because they don't have to sit in school all day. And that is reason #1 for homeschooled students to get a chance to play sports with their peers.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy New Year!

I can't believe it is 2009! Christmas went by like a blur, and before we know it, we will be looking at 2010 and wondering how in the world time can just keep going by faster and faster. I hope you had a great Christmas. I am personally in a bit of a slump, and trying to get out quickly because I don't like it! Christmas was a little strange at our house, because it was the first time that my children left for part of the day to spend the afternoon with their father. While it was a nice break, it really made Christmas day seem like just a few hours long. I guess every Christmas will be weird from now on. Isn't divorce the pits?
This year we had to explain "Santa Claus" to the kids, who are 7.5 and 6. I could have waited another year on my six year-old, but when she asked, "how come Thomas got what he asked Santa for and I didn't?" I couldn't let it go on another year. So we had the talk, and she is still a little unsure about the whole thing.
I will never forget my sister, just 10.5 months older than me, spoiling "Santa" for me when I was 6, as we lay in our beds one night. I didn't believe her. I tried to rationalize the whole thing in my head, when I said, "the next thing you're going to tell me is there's no such thing as the Easter Bunny!" I could feel her eyes roll.
Incidentally, a few weeks after Christmas, my 6 year old lost a tooth. The Tooth Fairy came and went with no incident, and no questions. When will I break THAT to them?!

Tom Woods