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We’re All On a Mission, But What Is It?

20 Nov

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It seems that we are all on a mission in life, but many of us don’t really know what that mission really is.  That is not a critical statement, just an observation.  I know this because I sometimes find myself asking the question that we all ask at one time or another,  “What the heck am I doing here.”

If you are like me you have likely asked this question more than once while dancing through the fog of child rearing.  I have actually wondered what it would be like if parents made a mission statement much like businesses, organizations, and even bloggers do to help focus and measure their direction.

I thought I would look around on the blogosphere and see if their was anyone else thinking about this and I found a wonderful description of why a mission statement for this purpose can make sense.  This link will get you to the blog that the quote that follows is taken from.  (I haven’t discovered yet  how to create a clip that links back to the original blog.  If any of you techies out there feel like doing your random act of kindness for today you could drop me a note about how it is done.)  http://mirajyoga.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/3-steps-to-discovering-your-lifes-mission/

“Your mission statement is there to give your actions a certain intention–an intention that emerged from a state of awareness and consciousness.  We know that we often act out of conditioned and learned behaviors and patterns that aren’t necessarily aligned with what we’re really about.”

That sounds familiar.  You wake up one day and wonder which day it was that you turned into your mother. Your thoughts spinning with “What did I just do?  My mother used to do that to me and I hated it.”  But really, what else do you know to do?  As they say in the military, when you are in a crisis, you fall back on your training.  For some of us that may not be in line with the direction we want to take with our children.

Most mission statements contain a goal as well as statements the guiding principles you will follow to get there.  So it seems that identifying your goal is the first step.   So you might say your mission is to raise responsible, loving children (or whatever your goal is).  Then you might say, through establishing appropriate boundaries, engaging with my children throughout the day, and showing that I love them even when we disagree.

But here comes the hard part, how are we going to accomplish this?  Kids don’t come with manuals and parents don’t always come with full toolboxes.  The funny thing is that the act of writing this down often begins the process of opening the path to discovering tools that can be helpful to accomplish your goal.  Once you have written down the idea that you want to establish, for example, appropriate boundaries, it becomes easy to start out on a journey to find new ways to do this.  You can start right here on WordPress.  Two wonderful resources that I have found here are Help4YourFamily http://help4yourfamily.com/2012/11/19/parent-affirmation-monday-empathic-11172012/ and Let Life In Practices http://letlifeinpractices.com/2012/04/16/9-ways-to-tell-your-children-that-you-love-them/#more-568 .

What little jewel of a technique, practice, or attitude have you found (and where did you find them) that has made a difference for your children, or for that matter any of your relationships?  Do share because I still have plenty of room in my toolbox to fill.


A Visit From the Coupon Fairy

30 Apr


I was thinking the other day about little surprises that brighten up your day.  Things like a genuine compliment, the sound of children laughing, someone letting you into traffic.  Well, today I was bestowed with a visit from the coupon fairy.  I don’t know if you have ever had the pleasure of meeting a coupon fairy.  I met one today while grocery shopping.  I was in the check out line and the lady behind me asked me if I had gotten 2 boxes of fruit popsicles.  I told her yes I had and she handed me a coupon for $1 off!  She said she had decided not to get fruit popsicles and didn’t want to waste the coupon.  It was amazing how good it felt to have someone share that gesture of kindness.

It got me thinking about when I was much younger and living in the Midwest.  Times were a little tight back then and many of the grocery stores had a little table with a raised lip sitting in the entryway where people would place any extra coupons that they had.  When you walked in the store you could take a look through the coupons and see if there were any that you could use that day and take them.  On the way out you could drop off any coupons that you hadn’t used or extra coupons you had clipped.

I had though about talking to my grocery store manager about this old idea but I could see that the potential obstacle of a pile up of expired coupons might not be appealing as it could become another task added to an increasingly long list of things to do for workers.

I was talking about all this with a friend and they told me that they liked to practice a stealth version of a visit from the coupon the coupon fairy.  If they have extra coupons they would leave them on the store shelf on top or next to the item the coupon is for.  Then when someone comes along who is shopping for that item, POOF, they get the tiny little sunshine feeling of a happy surprise that comes with a random act of kindness.

Now this sounds easier to do than talking the manager into a coupon exchange table.

Does anyone else have a story about seeing or being a coupon fairy?

The Three Minute Rule – Teaches Your Kids How Not to Fight Over “Things”

20 Oct
Pocket watch, savonette-type.

Image via Wikipedia

The three-minute rule, you ask, if that like the looong version of the 10 second rule?  No it’s not and we think that you are going to love this parenting tool  even more than giving yourself a do over on things that touch the floor.

The three-minute rule is something that can be pulled out when you have two children fighting over a single item.  I’m sure you can think of a time that you would have loved a magic wand to calm the waters the second this started… “that’s mine, but you weren’t playing with it, well I want it back, but I am in the middle of level 2… Mom…s/he will not give me my”…  You can fill in the details, you have probably heard a variation of this theme at least a hundred times.

Since we have invoked the three-minute rule, a few times, I never hear this anymore.  All I have to say is “Do you know that the  ________(insert object of contention here)   is going to belong to me in one minute if you can’t figure out how to share it nicely? , and the next thing I hear is “I know, we will use the three-minute rule!”

How does this work?  The first item that has to be established, calmly, is that if they cannot find a way to play together with the object peacefully it becomes your property.  The next step is to suggest that each child can have a three-minute turn playing with ______________ and then the other child will have a three-minute turn.  Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.  One child many eventually lose interest (without feeling angry) and then the process is over.

I use the three-minute time frame with 5 year olds as it allows the child with possession of the object enough time to feel that they accomplished something  while the waiting child does not lose interest.  You can adjust this time frame to fit the attention span of the age of your children, however, it should always remain the same time frame.  You may find that older children can go five minutes, and if that is the case, it would become the five-minute rule.

Additionally, the children can learn a little about telling time by helping you monitor when 3 minutes have passed on the clock.  This is easiest with a digital clock.

This simple tool has been a life-saver for my sanity and it also is now a tool that the kids have in their virtual “tool belt” to help them resolve issues on their own.

Do you have a magic parenting tool?  We would love to hear it.  Please share with us in the comments section below.


Photo by   Isabelle Grosjean    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/1.0/deed.en

The Perfect Boiled Egg

11 Jul
Deviled eggs 1

Image via Wikipedia

The other day I ran across a great collection of recipes for deviled eggs.  Strangely enough, I can rarely stare down an egg at breakfast, but deviled eggs I can eat anyway, anytime.  I was considering which of these interesting twists on a deviled eggs that I might find the most enticing when I began to think about the fact that  if you do not know how to cook the perfect boiled egg none of them would be a good choice.  

As a matter of fact if you do not know the little secrets that chefs learn in culinary school or what young cooks learn “at the elbow” of someone older and much wiser in the techniques of creating fabulous food you will likely suffer the fate of many who have gone before you who wonder why every time they make that prized recipe they got from their mother-in law, or Aunt Susie or even from the flavor of the day chef on the Food Network ,”Why does it always taste better when someone else makes it?”

While I am sure there is more than one way to make a perfect boiled egg, I am doubly sure that there are many more ways to make an imperfect boiled egg,  so to save you the trial and error of discovering one that works for you, I am going to share the way that Martha Stewart recommends.  This is the simple, beautiful key to a perfect breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, brunch of deviled eggs, and tea time of egg salad sandwiches.

To view recipe click here  http://www.marthastewart.com/354061/perfect-hard-boiled-eggs,

(In addition, a trick I learned long ago is to add about 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to the water before boiling.  This will hold the white together in the case you have a cracked egg.  It also helps the eggs to peel easily.)

It is truly perfect in its simplicity, however, the devil is in the details.   Martha knows that the temperature that the ingredients begin at affect the quality of the final product when cooking, especially with eggs.  Also you will notice that how quickly the temperature changes as well as the length of time that the eggs cook are also very important to creating tender almost addictive eggs.

So now that you know the technique for cooking a perfect boiled egg  almost any recipe you decide to use for deviled eggs, or egg salad, or anything featuring boiled eggs will be a better one.

I have often wished that someone would share the little secret techniques  that make the difference between a good cook and a great one in one easily accessible place.  Maybe with your help we can start that right here.

If you would like for me to share the deviled egg recipe collection that inspired this post just make a request in the comments.  If you have your own favorite way to create the perfect boiled egg or a favorite egg recipe please feel free to share it with others by posting it in the comments.

Eat happy, eat well!

A new tradition, family movie night

9 May
Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the tr...

Image via Wikipedia

There is something wonderful about sharing an experience together as a family.  The dinner table has always been the center of family life, serving as a place to touch base with what is going on with each member of the family.  A place to learn the values that define us, how to act in social environments, how to contribute through work, support, and love.

Recently, our family has begun a new tradition that I love.  Every Saturday night, after dinner we all gather into the family room and watch a movie together.  All of us, the young, old, and older, sharing an experience together in the same mental and physical space.  It has become a way to become connected through sharing movies that have touched us in some way.  The most amazing part of it is has been how much the kids look forward to this.  Also, if one person is missing, the kids insist that we wait for them or reschedule on a night that everyone is home.

Making family movie night happen is pretty simple.  There are several easy, inexpensive ways to access movies and you can choose the one that best fits your situation.  I look at it as a balance between convenience and cost. 

If you have the discipline to return movies on time you might want to try Red Box.  They have locations in many places that you might go on a regular basis, like grocery stores, and the cost is $1 a day.  If you sign up for email notifications at redbox.com they will send you a code for a free rental on the 1st Monday of each month and other occasional free rentals good for a certain day only.  I understand that up can order movies on-line to be available for pick up at a particular location as well. 

If getting the videos back is more of a challenge for you may want to try Netflix.  They have several different plans that range from having 2 videos at a time mailed to you to having access to an unlimited number of streaming videos to view on your TV, (but you must have a device that allows this).  Their plans start at $7.99 a month. 

If planning is your major challenge you may want to try pay for view.  These are generally higher in price, somewhere around $4.99 each but you do not have to order anything in advance and you don’t have to have a special device, and you don’t have to return anything.  You just select and enjoy. 

Family movie night is our families’ newest tradition.  What is your family’s favorite tradition?

Yes, it’s boring, but it will save you hundreds of dollars (and it’s green too).

14 Mar
Cover of "Appliance Handbook For Women: S...

Cover via Amazon

Practicing conservation in the home is not an exciting subject until you realize that with little to no effort you can easily save hundreds of dollars.  You say that you have already cut the frills out of your budget?  Well there are actually ways to save money without cutting anything out of your lifestyle, all you have to do is change your habits in some small ways and PRESTO, you have more money to spend on the things you enjoy.

I don’t know about you but I remember my parents always reminding us to turn the lights out in rooms as we left them.  I guess they were ahead of their time because recent studies show that even when your cable box, DVD player, stereo, and TV are off their standby settings use the same energy as a 10-watt light bulb that is left on all the time (which costs about $10 a month). If you plug these items into a power strip and flip the off switch when they are not in use your annual savings would be about $120.

This of course was not a big surprise, but finding out that Vernon Schmidt, the author of Appliance Handbook for Women: Simple Enough Even Men Can Understand says that if we have a washing machine made after 1994, we should use about half the amount of laundry soap that is recommended on the detergent container.  He states that the newer machines are designed to use less water and detergent than older models but the changes have not been reflected in usage guidelines.  In fact, he says that the extra soap actually creates buildup that can cost about $100 in repairs!  Estimated annual savings, approximately $254.

And finally here is a real surprise, and this one will only take a minute or two to accomplish.  Setting your water heater too high (140°F) can result in heat loss into the surrounding area, estimated at $61 dollars annually, as well as more than $400 in hot water.  A scientist at the U.S Dept. of Energy suggests setting your water heater at 120° F or lower.  Annual estimated savings $461.

OK.  I will admit that this is not the most exciting thing to think about but if you make these little changes, you will have the opportunity to think about what you could do with the $835 in savings and that is pretty interesting.  Sounds like a week-end get away to me or maybe a monthly massage.

More surprisingly, all these ideas came from a magazine article in First for Women  Feb. 21, 2011.  That reminds me that we promised to look at good subscriptions that actually save you money.  I guess this magazine will make the list. 

What will you do with $835?

Hello world! (yes I am saying Hello World)

19 Feb
Parking meter at the pier in the vicinity of M...

Image via Wikipedia

Well I started writing my blog today and the first thing it did was make like a magician and disappear.  All that work just gone.  That went well!  I guess it is like getting that first scratch on your new car.  I can just relax now and write because I don’t have to worry about it being perfect anymore.

This blog is about all things family.  As I recently shifted my focus, less toward work and more toward home, I discovered two things.  One is that I seem to know a lot about some areas of the domestic life. The other is that there are areas of the domestic life that I could use some help with, for instance budgeting.  So my goal is to share what I know and ask you to share with me what I don’t know.  I think I will start with what I do not know.

Because my sister is the Queen Of All Things Money my first lifeline went out to her.  This is a woman who raised two children by herself and managed to buy three homes on a modest income.  She can make a penny buy a dollar’s worth of goods and, unlike me, has no fear of shopping on Black Friday. 

Luckily she is willing to take me on as a project and as a matter of fact just gave me my first assignment, writing down every penny I spend.  For a month (I started on the 15th) I will be writing down all expenditures, down to money put in parking meters, and saving the receipts for all purchases.  She says I have to be honest, (that means no fudging on Starbucks or Lotto tickets or those cute little shoes that perfectly match my favorite gray jacket), and that after we review the numbers.  Everyone in the family will be given a set amount of money that fits into the budget for personal spending and they do not have to account to anyone else for how it is spent.  So you really don’t have to give up your decaf mocha latte after all. OK, I guess that helps take the fear of judgement out of it and life will still be worth living.

Please feel free to join me if you have the courage.  I know there is someone else out there that would benefit from a money makeover who also has a great trick or two to share.