Doing the best she can to raise happy, healthy children

Category Archives: Family

Dear New House,

We’re very excited to have you join our family. We are, really. Even though we’ve only met you twice and the first time was just two weeks ago. We are anxious to make our relationship with you official. I hope this isn’t too fast for you.

It’s a bit fast for us. We had just started looking for you. My daughter is having some difficulty adjusting. You see, she loves the old house. Its all she’s known. She has so many memories with our old house. I know she’ll grow to love you too. I know the old house will soon become a memory. She is passionate and (sometimes) a bit stubborn. But until then, be patient with her. Be kind with her. And know. she will come around.

My son, he’s excited. I think you’ll find him a bit more rambunctious and easy going. He’s loved our old house too. Its also been the only house he’s known. But, he’s a bit more accepting to change. He will be teary, I’m certain with saying good-bye to the old house. And he’ll have days when he wants to go back. But I’m confident, he’ll be filling you with laughter and curiosity.

I and my husband are nervous. Anytime there’s such a large investment. We are get nervous because we too love this old house. We wonder, will the new be good for us? Will it be what our family needs? Will the neighbors accept us? Most importantly, will our children adjust?

So you see, we are very excited and a bit nervous to add you to our family. Thankfully we have a very short 1.5 months to adjust to the idea and say our tearful good-byes. We will be preparing and are looking forward to officially meeting you very soon.

Yours Truly,

A very excited (and nervous) future family


Hi. My name is Ruthie and I’m an exhausted mom trying my best to be everything to everyone. I am the mommie to two wonderful little ones who are active in sports and dance. I am the homework boss, snack regulator, grocery shopper, and home referee. I am classroom volunteer, fieldtrip driver, school board member, and cheerleader. I am the housekeeper and home chef. I could go on, but I’m sure you get it. I’m certain you feel my pain. You are in similar shoes.

We are moms. We are wives. We are employees. We wear many hats. And do many thankless jobs. We are the ones who everyone goes to to get things done.

So, what happens when we need a break?

This is exactly where I was last weekend. I needed a break. From Friday until Sunday, I had 2 dance practices, 2 soccer games, 1 dance picture session, and 1 school auction. Plus, I needed to move into my new office space. I felt pressured to attend all of these functions. with a smile on my face. You see, all of these activities needed me or at the bare minimum wanted me. But I felt EXHAUSTED thinking about the weekend. I needed a break. After working 40+ hours a week, I still had a crazy busy weekend to get through.

I silently rejoiced when it was too cold and snowy for soccer. It was one thing off my list. I opted out of attending the school auction. And you know, it was OK. The world didn’t end. Yes, some may have been disappointed. My kids for the cancelled soccer game and probably some people from the school since I typically attend the auction. And you know I and my kids had one of the best weekends we’ve had in a long time. We hung out and watched TV. The kids helped me move into my office without me feeling impatient and rushed. The kids played video games.

I gave myself a pass. You can too. You can take a deep breath and opt out of things. You don’t have to be everything to everyone. You can pick and choose what you want to volunteer for. And, quite frankly what events you want to attend. ITS OK. Give yourself permission. Because, when you slow down you win. Your kids win. Your family wins. And, that’s more important than anything else in this world.

Trying to be everything to everyone is a curse. Its not realistic. It won’t make you happy. Volunteer and do things you want but also give yourself a break. Accept being able to take a break and just enjoy life with your family. Sleep in. Break that curse.

(This post was shared HERE where you can find blog posts from other encouraging posts.)


You ever have one of those moments when your kid says something that just hits home with you? I had that moment this weekend. We were in the car going from one activity to the next when the conversation started. I love talking with my kids in the car. None of us are going anywhere. We’re all stuck in a small space which encourages all sorts of conversations. I’ve seriously had some of the BEST conversations with my kids in the car.

But back to the specific conversation this weekend.

Darling Daughter: I’m so glad you and Daddy are friends and like each other.

Me: Of we course we’re friends!

Darling Daughter: Yeah. I’m also glad you’re friends with Little Ducky’s mommie and daddy. (Little duckie is a baby who goes to our church. She was dressed as a duck last Halloween and hence forth is called Little Duckie by my kids).

I’m so glad you and Daddy are friends and like each other.

Wow. That hit home. My little 8 year-old notices a lot. I’ve always known without a doubt she and her brother know they are loved by their parents and each other. I’d always said kids pick-up on things even when parents are trying to hide it. I’d say that, because I’d learned that in school. I’d say that because I knew kids often, without thinking, share how their parents fight or when money is tight. But for some reason when it came out of her mouth, it really hit home.

I’m so glad you and Daddy are friends and like each other.

Such simple words made a huge impact on me. Yes, my husband and I love each other. Our marriage isn’t perfect. He annoys me sometimes, I annoy him sometimes. I can HONESTLY say we don’t really fight. We bicker every once in a while. But that’s not common at all. We have this MUTUAL respect for each other. We try very hard to talk things out before they become a BIG issue. I pray everyday that we can continue to do this. That we can WORK together to continue to build a wonderful marriage.

We’re not PERFECT. At all. But we sure do work hard at this thing called marriage. We don’t put on a face for the kids. We are real. We work hard to do family things together. My husband and I laugh together, tease each other, and work through things. All in front of our kids. They see us having a good time and problem solving together.

I never realized those little things, impressed on her. But she noticed.

Mommie and Daddy are friends. They like each other. 

What are your kids noticing from you? What do they think of your relationship with your spouse?


This year has been a hard year for me. I’ve not written much about it here because my emotions are still very raw. Last spring I my father died. I and him were not close, I actually only referred to him by his first name. Despite not being close and not have a significant conversation with him for years, it was still very painful. My heart ached for what will never be. I was hurt by all the kind words people said about him, because those words were not true to me. Then five months later, Mom died. My mom and I were close. I helped organize her care for the last 5 years. I talked with her weekly and often went to see her in the nursing home. We had been close when I was growing up and I loved my mom dearly. That was a hard week.

I also started graduate school this last year. I decided that after many years of contemplating becoming a Nurse Practitioner, I should to dive-in. Wow. Life has gotten turned upside down from school. My evenings are almost 100% consumed with studying after the kids go to bed and studying tends to occur during the weekends. Since I’m also trying to be a decent mommie to two young ones, I squeeze in family time and push studying late into the night. So, basically, I’m always tired.

Due to all those changes, I gained weight this last year. Sadly, every pound I’d lost found its way back onto my body. It hardly seems fair that 6 -9 months can undue two years of dieting! Around the time my mom died, I joined Weight Watchers again and decided to focus on losing weight. My efforts were feeble to say the least and I bounced around a 3-4 pounds weight lost between then and Christmas. At Christmas, I’d been steadily losing a pound a week for a few weeks.

Christmas came and so did the time for the white elephant exchange. I ended up with 18 Snickers, you could imagine some of my disappointment. I couldn’t eat them and lose weight. I was extremely disappointed. I was still feeling down and depressed about everything that happened. However, a couple of days after we’d gotten home, I was working and thinking about my mom.

You see, my mom’s favorite candy bar was Snickers. I realized the gift of Snickers was probably one of the best Christmas gifts I could’ve received. I decided to freeze them (that was mom’s favorite way to eat them) and I would eat one once a month to help me remember my mom.

So, now I’m very grateful for the 18 Snickers I received at Christmas.

Have you gotten a gift that seemed poorly timed but turned out


So this year has been beyond crazy and stressful. It’s also been an amazing year of growth for me. This year will be know as the year I tested myself and pursued a dream. It will also be know as the year of death and sadness.

In the spring, Joe, my father passed away. It was such an odd emotional experience for me. I and my father had a strained relationship to say the least. We spoke minimally and only when it revolved around my mom’s care. I was saddened because of the loss of a relationship that will never be. I was sad because, part of me, really wanted resolution to some of our issues. I knew our relationship would never be close and he would never be in my children’s lives. But I wanted to feel like if we saw each other in public or at an event, we’d acknowledge each other. That was now never going to happen. I also found myself very angry. I was angry when people told me he was a wonderful man.

Approximately two months after his passing, I started a nurse practitioner program. The decision to pursue my NP has been one I’ve wrestled with for a while. I prayed about it, and ultimately decided it was a good time to go back. The summer classes were killer, Advance Pathophysiology and Healthcare Statistics. This second semester has been much better. I have my MSN so I had some ideas on how this would play out, but seriously, there’s a reason people do this when they’re younger!

Then basically 5 months to the date, my mom died. I was surprised. I and my mom were close. We talked weekly and I managed all of her medical needs. I arranged everything for her. She was living in a nursing home and had been on hospice 5 years ago. Her health had been good for the most part. But cognitively she wasn’t there. Even though it had been a few years since she recognized me as her daughter, she always knew I and my children were important to her. Despite feeling like my mom had left years ago, I was still very emotional about my loss. Even now, months after she’s been gone, I find myself wishing she was here. I’m not sure that will ever go away.

Since the death of my mom, I’ve also had the death of an aunt on my father’s side and a dear friend from nursing school. So, as you can see this year has been a challenging one. I, however, view life as a chance to grow and learn. I know I could easily look at this and dwell on all the stress and problems. However, I refuse to do this. I will stay positive and focus on the amazing things going on in my life.


Last night our school had a fundraiser at a local restaurant. I took my daughter and we met one of her friends and her mom. The place was busy and noisy. The girls were giggly, loud, and squirmy. The service was slow as expected due to a great turn out for the fundraiser. Despite having to reel the girls in a few times, we all had a good time. Then it came time to leave. My daughter knows we don’t go running out of a store and towards the parking lot. I’ve reinforced her the need to stay close to me. However, last night all the excitement had gotten to her and I was a little worn out and tired from the day. She and her friend took off running out of the door and toward the parking lot. I yelled gently at my daughter and she kept running. So, I yelled firmly using her whole name. I rushed to her because she was running to far for my comfort zone. I immediately scolded her for her behavior.

Her punishment was to get into the car while I and her friend’s mom finished our conversation. We were trying to plan a time that we could get together next with the girls. After I finished the conversation and helped my daughter find her missing doll, I reconfirmed to her that I loved her very much but her behavior was inappropriate. I told her that her actions were not safe and even if we were having fun we had to be safe and listen.

And then the tears came. Huge crocodile tears were pouring down her cheeks. She was upset and sad that she’d disappointed me. She was embarrassed she’d gotten in trouble in front of her friend. She felt very, very bad for be disobedient (her words). And then my heart broke. Even this morning she said to me she was so sorry for last night.I reassured her we all make mistakes and that I loved her so much.

She is my sensitive one. She is the one who likes to push the limits a bit. I knew she was sensitive but I still scolded her harshly. I felt horrible. I wanted the lesson to be taught, but was I too hard? Had I let the situation with her behavior go to far all night that I was at my frustration point? How can I keep that from happening again. I felt like the worst mom ever.

I’m certain I’m not the only one that’s been there. Said something to their child either a little to harsh, handled things poorly or reacted without thinking. We all make mistakes. Despite wanting to tear myself up over this, I will not. I will take it as a learning lesson. I will have a better in plan in place before we do our next friend’s outing.

In fact, I already know what I will do before next time. 1) I will tell her ahead of time of the expected behavior 2) I will tell her she will hold my hand when leaving the store/restaurant/etc as we normally do.

I know I’ll stumble as I continue down this parenting path. New things and situations will come up. I will make more mistakes but I will learn from them. I find ways to move forward and to do things better the next time.

How have handled a parenting mistake or when you’ve over reacted? I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

Proverbs 9:9 Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. 

 


This year, we’ve been introducing some chores into my children’s lives. My oldest just started 1st grade and last year was her first year of some responsibility before school. My son just started pre-school and he too has some things he’s responsible for before school.

Our implementation of chores has been a slow process. My kids have always loved helping me with household duties such as cooking and setting the table. I used their natural desire to help to direct them to appropriate duties. So, I guess one could say, they’ve been informally doing chores for a long time now.

My 1st grader’s before school routine- what she’s responsible for:

1) Getting dressed

2) Brushing her teeth

3) Making her bed and putting her pajama’s on her bed

 

My Preschooler’s before school routine- What he’s responsible

1) Dressing himself with supervision

2) Brushing his teeth

 

Saturday morning chores for both children- my preschooler with more supervision

1) Put away all folded clothes

2) Pick-up their room

Our chores are simple. None of them too difficult and some may say too simple. However, implementing chores at this age to me is more about teaching the children to be part of the family and to assist the family. I don’t want chores to have a negative connotation. I want them to think that chores are no big deal, it’s just what we do. Because, really, they will have chores to do all of their lives. No reason to make it a negative experience at such a young age!

Do your children do chores? What age did you start? What was your approach? Was it successful? Leave a comment, let’s talk chores!


My last post was all about how the family dinner seems to be quickly fading into the past. I have memories of eating as a family. Family dinners in my house are a priority. Highschool kids these days, I can’t imagine will have the same types of memories. Instead, they’ll have the grabbing McDonald’s on the way to the ball game or dinner waiting to be warmed up as each person has a moment memories. Dinner tables across the country are looking like this:

IMG_20140227_113311

Are you one who wants to add more family dinners in but am not really sure how to do it or feel it’s impossible? I’ve come up with some ideas that may make the transition easier.

Prepare for starting the family dinner by: 

1) Ask Why not? Find out the root cause to why you’re currently not having family dinners. Are there too many activities? Do have time issues? What barriers do you have? Once you’ve figured out what’s holding back from having a family meal, you can find ways around those barriers. For example, your child has sport practice right after school until 5:30 with games on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Or, you’re a full-time mom of a toddler who wants to eat right away when he gets home.

2) Get Organized: This will take a bit of work at first but once you’re organized it will be easy going forward. I recommend putting together a family or kitchen binder. Buy or make some dividers with tabs and buy some of those plastic page protectors. Label your tabs: Menu, Recipes, Want to try, Shopping List, Coupons. Add the page protectors behind each tab. Search online or create yourself some templates for Menu, Recipes, Shopping list. You may have some luck here: Pinterest. Consider which days of the week have evening activities that will affect eating times. Consider that toddler’s rumbling tummy and have a small snack handy when you pick him up.

3) Keep it Simple: This is especially true if you’re trying to newly implement this. Every meal doesn’t have to be a fancy 8 course meal. In fact, not every meal has to include home-made dessert. If your family likes chicken nuggets and french fries, do chicken nuggets and french fries. Remember, it’s the experience of the family dinner that’s way more important than a gourmet meal.

4) Plan ahead: This is one of the essential steps to regular family dinners. Well, it at least is one that I feel takes the stress out of the family dinner. I highly recommend menu planning and shopping according to your menu. I always keep a few easily made items for those days that don’t go as planned. For us that is chicken, BBQ sauce and french fries. I also love my crockpot for days I know we’ll be busy in the evening. If you know you’ll be eating later because of an activity, put together snack bags and carry them with you. It will fight off the hunger and decrease the chances of grabbing food on the go.

5) Try and Try again:  If this is a life change for you, it will take time and practice. Don’t worry if this week was a fast food week and not one of menu plans actually worked out. There’s always tomorrow or next week. That’s one of the best things about life, you can make changes slowly and try again when it doesn’t work the first time.

Are there ideas you’d add to my list? Have you found something that works well for you? Please share I’d love to all about your family dinners.

You can read the first of these posts here.


When we bought this house I remember several people told me to not worry about a formal dining room because people find this room to be a waste of space and don’t use them. I was surprised that of all the things on my house wish list, that was the one thing criticized the most. A few years ago, the Today Show was interviewing a woman who was encouraging what she called the “slow down” movement. This “slow down” movement was encouraging families to eat one meal at home a week. One meal? That’s it. At that point in my life we were eating at home practically every night. Now, I’m told that we are entering the stage in life when we’ll be eating less and less at home and more and more on the road. Really? My kids are only 3 and 5. Does it really happen this soon?

IMG_20140227_113311

Currently, on average we eat as a family 6 out 7 evening meals together around our kitchen table. The only meal we don’t all eat together is Wednesday nights when I and my daughter spend it at church. And on the weekends we eat all of our meals at home minus a 1-2 times a month we eat lunch out following church. Oh, and our meals aren’t from a box. I cook, yes, actually cook every evening meal (minus Wednesday when my husband cooks).

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of work planning and preparing food for my family. I work all day and then once my day job is done; I cook dinner. I get it, it’s a lot of work. It’s tedious. It’s not appreciated work. I get it. I’ve felt the pressure of getting a meal on the table. I’ve heard the whining “is it done yet?” just to hear “I don’t like it” at the first glance of the meal. I get it. It’s simpler to run through the drive-through to not hear the groans and moans. It’s more relaxing to grab food to go and eat in front of the television.

20131213_170630

But what I also get, is the benefits of eating dinner together as a family at our dining room table. My kids are gaining valuable experiences eating together at home. They are learning to cook and the feeling of achievement from making something delicious. From helping to cook they are learning numerous skills and their knowledge is growing. We, as a family, have time to learn from each other and actually have a conversation about how our days have gone. We get to say Grace and thank God for all he’s given us. We are bonding as a family.

If you’re a family that eats out or grabs fast food several nights a week, I’m not meaning to shake my finger at you while peering over my glasses. Rather, I want to encourage you to consider what you are missing out when you don’t eat as a family. Take some baby steps and start eating all together at the same table and see what you learn about each other.

 

This post was shared at the Reading list and Graced Simplicity


20130821_073723

My oldest is in kindergarten. I believe I’ve said it before, Kindergarten has been a BIG adjustment for all of us. One of these adjustments has been my daughter’s need for independence and decision-making. At first, as I write this, I think of course a parent would embrace this. However, her attempts at independence has been less than desirable.

The pull for independence continues throughout childhood. It starts with those first few precious steps, continues into toddlerhood and goes on to adulthood. Often times lack of maturity has children pulling for independence in challenging ways. For example, I’ll listen to you but will choose when I will follow through with your request. This causes some extra chaos and reminders from mom as the little one wants desperately to be in control of her decisions.

The example above is what we’re dealing with right now. She knows what she’s suppose to do, she just isn’t ready to do it. This has manifested itself with extreme slowness getting ready to go to school or at school picking up her toys only after playing for a few more minutes.

20131208_155151

Independence will be very important life skill for her to learn and master. She must learn to think independently to not be pressured into unsafe situations. She must learn to assert her independence appropriately in her future career. It is my job to help develop her growth. My responses to her independence will either help or hinder that growth.

I say, embrace this independent streak and don’t be in too big of a hurry to squash it in hopes of a compliant child. Don’t get me wrong, discipline should follow when she’s being defiant. However, be kind. Give your child choices when she can have them. Let her make some decisions for herself. Be upfront. In our case, getting out the door and to school on time is not negotiable. So, I put consequences in place for her not listening and getting dressed on time. However, I don’t really care what shoes she wears. So, she can pick out her shoes every morning. And if she gets ready timely, she has an extra reward of watching some television before we leave. I expect her to listen to her teacher at school and come home with a good daily report. I do let her have some time in the evening where she decides what she will do.

Embrace the independence, set realistic expectations, and appropriate discipline and your house will be a happier one!

Do you have a child going through an independent growth? Please share your stories! I’d love to hear how you handle them.

Train up a child in the way he should go, And even when he is old and he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 ASV