"Date Your Husband? Let Me Start the Conversation for You."

It’s time once again for Heather from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her “Parenting Tips Series with Heather Johnson” here on The Idea Room. I for one, really enjoy all her great tips and advice on things that most of us as parents struggle with. Here’s Heather in her own words…

–Amy

Remember when you were dating your husband, before you got married, and you promised each other that kids, and life, and work, and being tired would NEVER get in the way of the two of you dating? Remember those conversations? I do. And although we try really hard to hold true to those early promises, life does happen and fitting a date in can be complicated and sometimes so much work that it doesn’t seem worth it.

The truth: Research shows that to keep our marriages strong we need to go on a date with our spouse EVERY OTHER WEEK. That’s at least twice a month. If you are a member of the LDS church, you know that our prophets and apostles recommend going on a date with your husband EVERY WEEK. Either way this is a tough charge. Then comes the next problem. Do you ever find yourself on a date with your husband and all you talk about are your kids? Or maybe you struggle to find something to talk about at all? Or maybe, all you talk about are all the problems and worries your family is facing.

These things need to be talked about, but on our dates, that are hard to come by in the first place, is not the most ideal time. Our dates should be fun, relaxed and carefree. Not heavy laden with worries and stresses. There should be laughter and holding hands.

SO…Here is a list of things you can talk about when you go out with your husband this week. Print it out and take the list with you. Yup, plan a date and MAKE IT HAPPEN. I am giving you plenty to talk about.

 

WHILE YOU EAT YOUR APPETIZER

1. Name three countries you would like to visit.

2. Which celebrity annoys you the most?

3. How would you spend 10,000,000 dollars? (My husband loves this question.)

4. If you could try out any occupation for a year, what would it be?

5. On a scale of 1 to 10 how cool are you?

 

OVER THE MAIN COURSE

1. If you could rewind to any point in your past, what would you want to relive?

2. If you could take lessons to become an expert at anything, what would it be?

3. How would you spend a perfect day alone?

4. What would you want us to do together for the next ten years if you knew they were our last?

5. What’s the most honest thing you have ever done?

6. How would you like people to describe you at your funeral?

 

WHILE SHARING DESSERT, or eating your very own

1. Hollywood called, they want to make a movie about your life, who would play you?

2. Name something you love that no one seems to like. (Or name something that everyone seems to love except for you.)

3. What’s the one item you own that you know you should get rid of but never will?

4. Name one thing you miss about our dating years? (Then talk about how you can make it a part of your dating again.)

5. Last one, make it good! What’s something positive about me that you don’t say often enough? (Then decide to say it more.)

 

Remember, these are not one sided questions. You both need to answer them. The coolest part, this will get the conversation going and then you can take it from there. You will find that the questions might seem funny or silly, but they can lead to other great conversations that you didn’t even know would happen. Happy Dating, Love birds.

IS DATING HARD FOR YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND? WHAT GETS IN THE WAY? WHICH OF THESE QUESTIONS WILL YOUR SPOUSE LIKE THE MOST?

–Heather

Are Your Kids Hooked on Bribes and Rewards?

Do your kids expect rewards BEFORE they will do anything? Are they always asking "What do I get", or "What will you give me?" Do you have to bribe them so they will get started on a task, or do what you have asked them? OR… have you ever found yourself offering bribes so your child will stop throwing a fit, clean their room, or get their homework done? It is okay to give small incentives now and again. There isn’t a parent out there who hasn’t done it. But, if our kids will only respond when they "get something", it is time to make some changes. Research shows us that…

  • Rewards elicit a quick fix, but not a long term solution.
  • Kids who only respond when given rewards are less likely to be self-reliant. At 2 this might not seem like a big deal, but as a young adult and adult, this is big trouble.
  • Eventually kids become addicted to the rewards and bribes and demand bigger and better. At first your daughter might require one sucker to be obedient. But before you know it, one sucker won’t do it and she will demand the whole bag. 
  • When children are rewarded with candy for normal everyday tasks, the children will care more about the treats than the task. 
  • Research shows that when parents reward their children for being kind and sharing with other kids, the kids actually become less giving and less cooperative over time than children who are raised without the constant rewards.
As parents, one of our biggest responsibilities is to raise children who are self-reliant. We want our kids to be able to rely on themselves, not extrinsic rewards. We want our children to be internally motivated to help, work, and make right choices.

Here are some solutions you can use to get the behavior you desire, without your children expecting something in return.

Stop giving rewards for EVERYTHING. 
Tell your children, right now, that they will no longer be receiving material rewards for everything they do. Explain that you expect them to help around the house, do well in school, be kind to others, because it is the right thing to do, because that is how things work in your home, and because you said so. Don’t give in, don’t back down. They will complain, so be it.
father with two kids playing

(image found here)

Reward Don’ts.

1. Don’t reward your children unless they deserve it. For example: Don’t say, "I know you wont throw a tantrum next time so here is a treat now" Not the approach we are looking to take. They have to not do it first. Then you can think about a reward. They have to exhibit the behavior first.
2. Don’t give unreasonable bribes and rewards. Be sure the reward matches the action. A shopping spree at Toys R’ Us because your son didn’t hit his sister is a little much.
3. Don’t give up your expectations. Make your expectations clear before you get into the situation. In our house this means that I "prep" our kids. On the way to the store, before they are begging for the new toy, I explain that I expect no begging or whining for a new toy. "If you don’t whine, then we can go to the park on the way home."If expectations are not met, DON’T GIVE IN.
4. Don’t reward bad behavior. Try to never, ever, give a reward to stop a bad behavior. "Stop throwing a fit and you can have a sucker." Yikes, this teaches our kids that if they throw a fit and then stop, it will get them a treat.

My husband learned his lesson about rewards last school year. Our son was not finishing his timed math tests at school. They were too easy for him and he would get bored and start to day dream and doodle. So, one day after school my husband told our son that if he finished his test he would get 50 dollars to spend at his favorite toy store. He came home from school the next day with a 100 percent on his completed math test. But, the week after that he came home with an unfinished test again. The next week, another unfinished test.

We knew he knew the material and could finish the tests. My husband sat him down to talk to him about it. During the conversation he asked what he could do to finish the tests on time. His response, "I bet I could finish if I got another 50 dollars."
Lesson learned. 

Internally Motivative – Wean Your Kids

  • If you are guilty of always giving material rewards such as treats and toys, begin replacing those with stickers. Once stickers become your main reward, start replacing those with encouraging words and praise. Over time the praise will turn into internal motivation and your kids will do things because it makes them happy and feel good. 
  • Delay rewards. Young children need instant recognition. Use praise. Tell them how good they did. Ask small children how it makes them feel to do such a good job. With older children wait a little bit before you reward and praise. Start by waiting a few hours to point out the good dead or success. Then wait a day or two. This will teach kids to do things for the right reason, not for an instant reward. 
  • Get your kids involved. Instead of promising a new toy if your son finishes his math test. Get your son involved in a solution to take the place of the reward. "Your not finishing your math tests. What can you do so that you can finish your test this week?"

We want our kids to exhibit good behavior, but we don’t want to be throwing candy, money and toys at them all the time. So what are some other ways to reward?

1. Give one-on-one time as a reward. Kids crave attention. They long for us to listen to them, talk to them, and play with them. Set aside individual time with each of your children. Your time together will mean far more to them than a new toy or a favorite treat.

2. Go to favorite places as a reward. Instead of giving your children candy or new toys for a reward, take them somewhere special. Let them choose. It could be a special park, bowling, a local museum, or a trip to the bookstore to see what’s new. No need to buy a book, looking will suffice. (Remember, too many material rewards teach children that if they are good, they should get a treat. We want them to act good because it is the right thing to do.)

3. Praise, praise, praise. Instead of relying on material rewards, praise your child and show affection. Watch as your children’s eyes light up when you give them a hug, praise them with uplifting and kind words, or show excitement over something that they have done.

4. Use a (Family) incentive chart or jar. When your children do what they are asked, finish a chore, or demonstrate good behavior while running errands, let them put a sticker on a chart, or something in a can or jar. Use beans, marbles, pennies, or small rocks. When they have filled the whole jar or covered the whole chart with stickers, the family gets to do something fun together. Your family could go to the movies, a park, museums, or on a hike or bike ride. This will encourage good behavior. More importantly, it will encourage spending time together as a family and strengthening your relationships. Have just one jar or chart that all the kids contribute to. Then it is a group effort.

5. Have kids make their own rewards. Fill a shoe box with plain paper, scissors, crayons, markers, glue, stamps, glitter, anything you have around the house. I like to put plain labels in the box also. When your kids want you to give them a reward, send them to the box to make their own. They can make themselves a certificate or sticker for their accomplishment. It teaches them to be creative, and to reward themselves instead of needing their reward from someone else. Ultimately we want our children to be internally motivated. It takes time, practice and patience to get to this point. To help expedite the process we can….

  • Teach kids to encourage themselves. Literally. As funny as this sounds, when your child does something good, remind them to tell themselves "good job." Feel free to say to them "Did you remember to tell yourself you did a good job?" This is a great way to start getting your children to internalize their actions and success. Instead of looking outward for a reward, they look inward and see the good things they have done. 
  • Always use "You." As parents we are quick to say "I am proud of you." Instead, "You must be proud of yourself."
  • When children are small, point out how success makes them feel. "Doesn’t that feel good to be kind to your sister?" Don’t you feel good now that your room is clean?" Once they get a little older, ask them what made them feel good about what they did. "How do you feel now that your room is clean?" "How does it feel to get 100 percent on your spelling test?" "How do you feel when you and your sister play together without fighting?" 
  • Point out the obvious. When you see your kids do something good, point it out. Don’t reward or judge the action. Just state what they have done. "You got all your spelling words correct." "You did it." "You shared your book with your sister."
  • Have your kids write down their successes. When your kids do something good, have them write it down. If they are too young to write, have them draw a picture. (Once the picture is drawn, write a sentence or two on the back describing the picture so you can remember what they drew later.) Save all the pages and make them into a book or put them in a binder. Every month or so, pick a time to sit down and go over all the great things your child has done. Talk about how they feel looking at all the things they have done right. Either way this type of exercise will turn their focus away from material rewards and inward to their own success, building internal motivation. 

A good place to start with all of this is by evaluating your children. What means the most to them? To our son nothing means more than when he feels we are listening to him. No interruptions, one-on-one. Our daughter ultimately want us to play with her. Playing house, school, or taking a trip to the park is her greatest motivation. Understanding your children and what is important to them will help you figure out how to intrinsically motivate your children and teach them to feel good about their accomplishments and actions. It will most likely be different for each child. It is a very lofty charge to expect our families to never use rewards. Probably not totally realistic. Instead keep these suggestions and work to use rewards and bribes less. You will be happy with the results.

Are your kids hooked on rewards?

Heather

How to Avoid Taking Your Stress Out on Your Children—Parenting Tips Series

I am so excited to be able to introduce you to Heather Johnson from Family Volley.  Heather is a mother of the four…one arrived just the other day actually, and a professor at Brigham Young University.  Heather teaches Family Psychology and has so many great tips and advice for helping parents and families with the many issues and questions parenthood and marriage can bring.  Heather also has a blog named Family Volley, where she answers all your parenting, mothering, marriage, and family questions. Anything from disciplining kids and temper tantrums, to keeping our marriages strong. Readers email her with questions about family life and she gives them real  answers to help guide and direct them to coming up with great solutions.  And because families become strong by playing together, every Friday, Heather features a new and fun game/activity for you to do with your family.
Heather Johnson will be contributing her parenting tips and advice her on The Idea Room in our New Parenting Tips Series!  I hope you will welcome her to our little community and make her feel welcome. 
 
image

Here is Heather in her own words. “I hope you will stop by. As women we are constantly trying to juggle a million responsibilities. With these responsibilities can come a lot of stress. Throw children into the picture, and before we know it, we are taking all our stress out on them. Our kids are right in front of us so they seem to be the ones that have to endure our short fuses. It is not on purpose, it just happens. Isn’t it interesting that we often treat strangers and coworkers better than our own family. If we will slow down for a minute and think about it, we can usually pinpoint the cause of our stress. Are we tired, overwhelmed, marriage stress, money trouble, or work issues?Maybe we have just had a long day. Regardless, Stress is going to happen, and we should do all we can to avoid taking it out on our children. They don’t understand what we are dealing with and it is not their fault. On top of that, dumping our stress on our children is not the answer either. It isn’t healthy for them, or us. We don’t need to make them our sounding board and tell them all our problems. At their age, they don’t to be worried about grown up issues. They don’t understand them, and can’t fix them. Given that life is not stress free…what can we do?”

Don’t Multi-task – Focus on your children

Remember LOVE is spelled T-I-M-E. When we have a lot on our minds, and a lot to do, it is easy to think that multitasking is the answer. When we are trying to answer the phone, fold laundry, help kids with homework, make dinner, AND listen to our 8 year old talk about their school day, everything else will be more important than what our child is trying to tell us.

We take our frustrations and stress out on our children because they are making it hard for us to get EVERYTHING ELSE done.

The laundry can wait, and so can dinner. Sit down with your child. Eye level, face to face. Give them your undivided attention and focus on their words and their facial expressions. Not only will it bring you closer, but we won’t see them as a stress, we will see them as the children we love more than anything. Besides, children can see right through us. They know when we are not paying attention. It doesn’t make them feel good.

See things from our children’s perspective

Our children don’t mean to upset us. They are young, learning, and inquisitive. They don’t know hurry, rush, or quick. If we can take just a second and see things from their eyes, we will not be so quick to take our frustrations out on them.

See our Children as People

When we are stressed, it is easy to see our children as objects. Objects that are keeping us from what we are trying to do. We are trying to make dinner, or answer the phone, or fold the laundry and their need for help or attention is getting in the way. We need to see them as people. Little people. They have thoughts and hopes and dreams and good days and bad days just like us. It is the laundry that is actually getting in the way of us being with our kids, Right?

Laugh

When all else fails, Laugh. When you are ready to loose your temper with your children because you are stressed, laugh first. Even if you have to force yourself. You will find it fixes a lot of things.

Minimize

We need to make the spaces in our lives manageable. When we have more than we can maintain, everything becomes overwhelming and stressful and we take the stress out on our kids. Give away, throw out, and get rid of. The clutter in our homes AND cars becomes overwhelming and makes the other stresses seem even worse.

Don’t Over Schedule

We shouldn’t over schedule ourselves or our children. Too many things on our family plates will always bring stress. Our kids don’t need to be involved in a million extra curricular activities, and we don’t have to say yes to everyone’s requests. We need to PROTECT our family’s time. This protection will bring peace and time together. Plus there will be less rushing. Rushing compounds stress.

Establish a routine

We need to put our families and children on a routine. With a routine, we will know what to expect and so will our children. This will eliminate a lot of stress that comes from the unknown and from struggles with bed time and meal time. Our children will be better behaved when things are predictable. This mean less stress triggers for us as mothers.

Have Realistic Expectations

We don’t have to be super women. And, we SHOULD NOT COMPARE OURSELVES TO OTHER MOMS. We need to be realistic about what we can tackle and undertake. No one has our unique set of circumstances. When we start comparing we tend to see everyone else’s strengths and our weaknesses. It is never a fair comparison. We should surround ourselves with people and things that are supportive and uplifting. Not things that make us feel inadequate. Just because we aren’t doing the same things other mother’s do, doesn’t mean we aren’t doing a great job.

Manage your Time

Clique, I know, but vital. Time management is so important to our lives. We do need to stay organized and manage our responsibilities and the time it takes to get things done.

Plan Ahead

This goes right along with managing our time. Being prepared and planning ahead will help eliminate a lot of our family stress. Make lunches for school the night before, lay out clothes the night before, even set the breakfast table before you go to bed each night. Round up backpacks and school work, shoes and socks before everyone goes to sleep. Make reasonable preparations to eliminate having to rush. Rushing brings stress, especially with children. Children don’t understand rushing.

As mother’s we are always taking care of other people. We forget to take care of ourselves. We should pick one or two things we would like to learn or get better at, hobbies or interests, and find time for them. Along with this, we need to eat right, exercise, even if it is just a walk around the block, and get enough sleep. When we are hungry and tired we loose our temper and take our frustrations out on our kids.

Play together as a Family

Find time at least once a week to do something fun together. It doesn’t have to cost money. We have to find time to recreate and relax together as a family. It is through these fun times that we really get to know each other. Life needs to be filled with work and play. When families play together they grow closer, develop stronger relationships, and have more patience for one another. Plus it is a needed diversion from the stress we deal with each day.

Stress is part of life. Taking it out on our kids doesn’t have to be.

DO YOU EVER CATCH YOURSELF TAKING YOUR STRESS OUT ON YOUR KIDS?

It was so fun to be here on "The Idea Room". I hope you will stop by Family Volley and say hello.

Do you have a question about your family or kids you would like answered?

image

Contact Heather…

Some of my Favorite Books

Summer is a big reading time for me and is just around the corner. 

I always start to think of the books I want to read and start making lists. 

And since we had a giveaway cancel this week,

I thought it would be fun to share with you some of my ALL TIME FAVORITE books. 

 

These books are books that I always recommend to my friends and family and several of them I have read more than once. 

These also are books that are pretty clean. 

Most of them are also Young Adult books which also happen to be my favorite genre.

I used to read a lot of adult fiction but got really tired of all the extra “junk” that would get thrown into the storyline. 

Here I will give you a very brief summary of the book without plots etc. as you can find those all over the internet.

I just left you with a few of my personal feelings and thoughts about the book.

 

the-goose-girl2

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

This is the first book in a series of 3.  I loved the Goose Girl and read it to my kids who all enjoyed it. 

My 12 year old son even read it again on his own. 

The other books in the series are Enna Burning and River Secrets.

***

The Graceling by Kristin Cashore

This is also the first book in a three part series.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  This book was one that I did not want to put down. 

It was full of adventure and I loved the development of the main character.  I enjoyed the sequel Fire as well.

The third book, Bitterblue is due out soon and is on my pre-order list from Amazon.

***

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

It would seem I like book series…as this is another trilogy which includes Catching Fire and MockingJay.

I loved the first book and enjoyed the others but not quite as much as I did the first. 

This series had some dark themes to it that I decided not to let my younger 10 year old read.

My my teenager read them and enjoyed them as well.

***

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This book is set during World War II in Germany so it will also deal with some dark themes. 

But I loved this book and the message. 

It was written from an interesting perspective and it took me a while to get used to it…but I LOVED it!

***

 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I almost didn’t read this book because of the name!  But I am so glad I did. 

It took me a little bit to get into it…but keep going.  It will be worth it and soon you will be hooked.

I wanted to do a lot of research about the area after reading this book.

***

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

This is also a trilogy which includes The Pretties, The Specials and The Extras

The books have a futuristic theme but really had me interested and made me think about a lot of different things. 

I liked the first two books a lot and then tried to listen to the third book on CD.  The narrator’s voice drove me crazy to listen to. 

So I have yet to finish it.  I think I will add that to my “summer reads” list.

***

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I have enjoyed this classic ever since I first read it in Jr. High English. 

This one always gets me thinking.  Not a book that I read lightly. 

***

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

This is another book by the author of The Goose Girl.  I really like most of her books.

My son also enjoyed reading this book. 

He wouldn’t admit it to his friends, but it has a lot more adventure in it and not a lot of princesses.

Although your daughter’s will enjoy it too!

***

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

I really enjoyed this book and the overall feeling I had when reading it. 

I would recommend it as a good summer read. 

It was just a easy going read and sometimes you just need a book like that.

***

Sarah:  Women of Genesis Series by Orson Scott Card

Okay…another trilogy here.  I loved, LOVED this series! 

The other books are Rebecca, and then the third book was split into two separate books Rachel and Leah part I and Rachel and Leah part II

The only gripe I have about this series is that I read through them like a crazy person. 

Then when I went to check out the second book for Rachel and Leah, I was informed that it wasn’t written yet. 

Apparently Orson Scott Card does that and has several unfinished series. 

So, I was left hanging!  But I would read them again.

***

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay

This book was heartbreaking.  I just have to tell you that in the very beginning. 

But I loved the story and I was rivetted. 

This was a book that I could not put down…

you know the kind you neglect everything for when you are reading it.

***

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

This is one of my most recent favorite reads.  I recommend it to all my friends. 

It has such a great message in a difficult era of our history. 

The only problem I had with this book was that I was not ready for it to end.  

And it did.  I loved the characters in this book and felt like the author did a great job of developing them for us.

 

 I need help compiling my list for the upcoming summer months!  I would love to hear from you.  What are some of your favorite books?

Sponsor Spotlight–My Job Chart and Giveaway Winner

 

MyJobChartLogo-new[1]

 

Are you searching for a way to better motivate your children to finish their chores and help out around the house more?  Do you want to teach your children how to work hard and save their hard earned money?  Or work towards saving up their own money for an item they want?   My Job Chart is a free online job chart that has all has the capability to provide all of these for you and your children.

 

The program is very user friendly and can be customized to fit every families different needs.  Simply set up a customizable chart for each child, set some rewards and some point values and your children will be ready to start using their charts immediately.

mjc1

My Job Chart is set up so that your children can be motivated to do their chores by rewarding them with points which they can trade for items at Amazon or donate to one of their favorite charities. The My Job Chart system does a great job at teaching children how to work and save towards something they want.  In the near future, My Job Chart is looking to integrate a banking relationship so that parents can open up online savings accounts for their children, in which they can begin saving for the future.  The accounts will have no-fees and will pays interest.   My Job Chart system has also recently gotten the seal of approval by financial expert Suze Orman.

mjc2

My Job Chart  is also very simple to use and fully customizable to your family.  Parents can receive a text or email when their children complete chores and earn rewards so you will always know what is going on. You can reply to the message by posting on your child’s “post-it note” to reinforce their good behavior and work ethic.  My Job Chart also has a message board system so that you can communicate online when necessary.  And soon, My Job Chart will have both apple and droid apps available for easier access.

mjc

 

 

So go ahead and check out My Job Chart and get your kids on their way to learning how to work, spend, save and share.  You will be glad you did.

150X150 Mother Daughter

Disclosure–  *This is a sponsored post on behalf of My Job Charts.  However, all opinions and statements are mine and mine alone.

_____________________________________________________________________

 

Ready to find out the winner of the Barn Owl Primitives Giveaway Winner?  

barnrandom

Random.org chose commenter #385…

barnwinner

Congratulations PinkFlipFlops!  You are the winner of a new Barn Owl Primitives sign of your choice!! 

Send me an email or leave a message and I will get you in contact from Kristi to get your new lovely décor addition!!

Thanks Barn Owl Primitives for the amazing giveaway!

Be sure to stop on by Barn Owl Primitives for some beautiful handmade pieces of home décor for your home.

What I Truly Want for Mother’s Day…

I was recently asked to participate in the EBates What I want for Mother’s Day campaign… and thought it would be a fun way to discuss Motherhood and what being a Mother means to me, before sharing with you what I would love to receive for Mother’s Day this year. So I would like to share with you a some thoughts I have about being a Mother.

Before I had children, I thought I had a good idea about what being a Mother would entail. I had it all planned out in my head.

I was going to have lots of kids. Eight to be exact. Eight perfectly happy and BEAUTIFUL babies.

I was so excited to be that ADORABLE pregnant woman with glowing skin and hair and a cute “little” baby bump! And give birth naturally, while smiling with freshly painted toenails, perfectly coiffed hair and feeling at one with my body.

Then I would enjoy the company of sweet, sleeping babies… and Good Mannered, Polite, Sweet Children, who ALWAYS look like they just stepped off the pages of a Baby/Kids Gap Ad.

Our Children would obey me when I asked and go out of their way to keep their rooms and our home spotless. I had a plan…and it was good. Really Good! We would spend our days laughing and playing and we would be happy!!

In reality…I gained 40 lbs with my first pregnancy. I also developed a rare skin condition called PUPPPS. It was nothing to be worried about other than the fact that I was COVERED in a red rash that was horribly itchy. I felt like I wanted to scratch my skin off for 8 long and miserable weeks. Not to mention that my skin on my face, arms and belly looked horrendous.

I was also teaching all day long on my feet so my legs looked like an elephant’s due to water retention. It was not pretty. Not to mention the comment from a total stranger in a gas station…”Wow! Are you having twins? You look like you are about to pop!”

Really?

***

My son was delivered 3 weeks early with no problems but I didn’t get a chance to paint my toenails…not that I would have been able to see them. It was not a glamorous birth.

I was up all night in labor that started at 11:00 pm. I didn’t sleep a wink for over 36 hours and I pushed for almost 2 hours due to sheer exhaustion. Then as we were getting discharged, the doctors did one last check up before giving us the go ahead and found some alarming vitals.

They immediately whisked my two day old baby away and hooked him up to antibiotics and lots of different tubes and wires and gave him an IV in his head. He had to stay in the NICU for a week. He had developed a virus and had to run the course of antibiotics before he could be released. We lived in hazy limbo between home and the hospital.

And when we finally got him home, we would sit for hours and stare in amazement at this tiny human being.

I had many thoughts in those first few days… What was I supposed to do with him? What if I made some big mistakes? Was he still breathing? Why was he crying? Why wasn’t he crying? Why am I crying? Who in the heck ever termed breast feeding as “NATURAL”? Is he eating enough?

I was also not prepared for the whirlwind of emotions that comes along with being a new mother like crazy hormones, sleepless nights and down right rude comments from others (especially strangers).

How could one teeny tiny human being cause so much joy, elation, fear, worry, pain, love, doubt, and countless other emotions? How would I be able to do this for the rest of my life? And why would anyone ever voluntarily do this again…and more than once?

Well…somehow you forget. And those warm, squirmy newborns have a way of getting under your skin. They intoxicate you with their new smell (at least the good smells) and hypnotize you into thinking you want…no NEED more of them. They grow up and win you over with their drooly toothless smiles and uncontrollable giggles and smother their way into your heart.

When they gang up on you in their toddler hood and flood your newly remodeled basement bathroom with their latest recipe for “toilet soup” {a delightful mixture of shampoos, lotions, toilet cleaner and lots and lots of toilet paper swirled slightly with a flush}…you will forgive and forget!

Or when they decide to paint your new piano and living room walls with a beautiful shade of cheery pink nail polish…You will soon share it with a twinkle in your eye and a nostalgic sigh. Instead of remembering how you were seeing red with anger while you scrubbed for hours with borrowed nail polish remover…

Or when they run outside naked as a jay bird with your bra on their head. And you had to chase them through your neighbor’s yard, in your robe, while looking every bit like a crazy lady…yep! Only so that a few days later, you will soon be laughing and joking about it as though it were a most delightful memory.

[taylor+crying.jpg]

***

I realize that though my story is uniquely mine, it is not unlike many others. The story of how I became and continue to be a Mother is very similar to many others who have gone ahead or who will someday become a Mother. We all struggle with similar concerns, joys, worries, happiness, sadness, and heartbreaks. And sadly, some will be chosen to make the ultimate sacrifice and outlive their children.

And some of you will become Mothers in very different circumstances and uncoventional ways. Some mothers may not actually have a child of her own, but may be someone who teaches, loves and has great influence on a child.

And though we may be very different in our experiences, I believe we all truly have our children’s best interests at heart. So I am sure I am not alone when I share with you what my heart truly wishes for this Mother’s Day…

Photobucket

to raise children that are happy! Children who feel like they had a great childhood. Children who want to raise their families in a similar way but who are smart enough to learn from their Mother’s mistakes. Children who are confident in their Mother’s love and belief in them and who they are. Children who want to give back to the world and make it a better place. Children who believe that they are important and that they matter. Children who grow up to be who they are meant to be!

***

and…maybe…a new pair of fun summer shoes…I have had my eye on these Keen Newport H2 sandals for a couple of years now! These would have come in handy when I was wading through toilet soup up to my ankles or when I was chasing naked child through the neighbors yard…just saying!

image

They would also come in handy on some of the more uplifting moments of Motherhood… like camping trips, hikes and playing in the creek behind our house.

image

Hopefully this will be my year! Fingers crossed. Have you used EBates before? I love that EBates gives you a list of stores to choose from and shows you the percentage of Cash Back you can get back when you buy the item from a certain store. EBates saves a lot of guess work and can get you some great deals on items you are wanting to purchase.

familyphotocolorhug

What about you? What does your heart wish for as a Mother? And on the fun side…what item would you love to receive for Mother’s Day!

Whatever you’re buying this Mother’s Day, start at EBates and get up to 20% cash back!  To celebrate moms everywhere, Ebates is giving away a $1,000 shopping spree from any of their 1,200 retail partners!  

How to Enter: Visit EBates and find something you or your favorite mom would love. Reply below with a description of what you found! A random winner will be announced Monday, May 10, 2011.(You must be registered with Ebates to win.)

I would love for one of my readers to win a great reward for all their hard work as a mother!

 
 




**This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Ebates. The opinions and text are all mine. Contest goes from Monday, May 2nd to Monday, May 9th 2011.

DIY Hand Carved Monogrammed Soaps

Okay…I love giveaways, but it is going to be nice to get back to some regular posting.  What about you?  As you know, I have a love for all things MONOGRAMMED!  I have been wanting to make some monogrammed soap for quite a while now, but have been unsure about how to go about it.  So the other day, I just thought I would do a test run and see what happened.

 monogrammed soap with cover

Overall, I am happy with the turnout.  I practiced on one bar of soap first to get my preferred carving technique down.  I highly recommend a practice run before making an attempt if you would like to try to make some for yourself.

 

Then I let my 3 year old carve my practice soap while I worked on one of “the real things”.  I actually really enjoyed working with the soap.   Here is what I did:

monogrammed soaps

Supplies:

Lever Soap 2000 (I liked how soft and easy this soap was to carve and work with)

glue dots

length of ribbon

scrapbook paper

vegetable peeler

standard screwdriver (smaller the better)

Q-tips

monogram pattern

non-permanent marker

straightened paper clip

monogrammed soap supplies

First I started with the vegetable grater and gently shaved off the Lever 2000 logo that was imprinted in the soap.  I did this by laying the vegetable peeler flat and gently curling the soap off layer by layer.  This will take a little practice to get it smooth and flat.  I made sure to catch all my soap shavings in a container and saved them to reuse.

monogrammed soap 2

As soon as the logo is almost completely gone you can finish and just smooth any uneven areas.  You can do this on both sides of the soap if you would like. 

monogrammed soap 3

Then I took my circled monogram and printed it out.  The circle measured 1.5 inches square.  The font I used was Times New Roman in bold and just stretched it in my photo program till I was happy with how it filled up the circle.   Then I printed it out and cut out the circle.

monogrammed soap 5

Center your monogram in place and hold it with your finger while you take a pencil lead or straightened paper clip (which I used) to mark around the edge of the circle.  Then I dug the circle out so that there was a nice deep groove.

monogrammed soap 6

Now cut out the letter of your monogram but be sure to leave all of the white area.  Take a fine tip marker and trace the letter. 

monogrammed soap 7

This will let you know where to stop when you begin to dig out the excess soap.

monogrammed soap 8

Now, take your screwdriver and gently and carefully scrap out the soap on the inside of the circle.  You will want to keep the letter raised and untouched.  You will need to be really careful around the edges of the letter and the circle so that you don’t accidently scrape into an area you don’t want touched.

monogrammed soap 9

When you scrape the bottom, be sure to pull the screwdriver so that is lays flat against the soap.  This will give you a nice smooth layer.  When you are happy with the monogram and have scraped out enough soap, you can take a Q-tip and smooth out areas that may be a bit rough.  Simply dip the Q-tip into hot water and gently rub on the rough surface.  The hot water will melt the soap and smooth any edges.  Do this very carefully and be sure your Q-tip is not dripping wet.  You can also gently remove the marker with the wet Q-tip.

   monogrammed soap final

And that is it!  Done with the soap carving.  You can see my practice soap in the picture below (before it was carved up).  The practice soap is on the right hand side next to one of my better attempts.  I learned how to be extra careful around the letter to make sure it held it’s shape nicely.

  monogrammed soap two 

Now, you want to prettify your soap packaging.  I simply cut off the ends of the soap box leaving just an open rectangle.  Then I simply glued some cute scrapbook paper around the box.

 monogrammed soap 4 

Then taking a long strip of ribbon, I forgot to measure it…Just wrap it around and eyeball it.  I fastened one end of the ribbon on the top of the box in the middle under the monogram (see top picture).  Then using another glue dot, I attached the monogram to the other end of the ribbon.  Then simply used a glue dot to place the two ends of the ribbon on top of one another.

monogrammed soap final 1

Print out another monogrammed circle on white cardstock and use that as the decorative top.  To open you will simply lift up the monogram and the soap will just slide out one end.

       monogrammed soaps 2

I thought these would be fun to have in your guest bathroom for special guests.  Or they would be fun to give as a small little gift for a friend or a newlywed couple.  Or…carve up your mom’s favorite soap with her initial.  Monogrammed soaps are just a fun little gift idea that can help make someone feel a little extra special! 

 

And just in case you LOVE monogrammed items as much as I do, I pulled together a list of some of my past monogram projects:

Monogrammed Hand Towels

Monogrammed Mugs

Monogrammed Hand Soap Bottles

Moss Covered Initials

Decorative Initials

Linking up here:

Tidy Mom

 

 

 

My Biggest Challenge as a Young Mother…

My Biggest Challenge as a young Mother with young kids is keeping up with the clutter. I am able to get the house sparkly clean from top to bottom while the older kids are in school…but as soon as they get home, the house looks like a tornado hit…or 5 little tornadoes in the form of energetic kids.

And it seems like the hours from 4-8 pm are packed full of homework, practices, lessons, friends, dinner preparation and so forth. So, my sparkly clean house becomes cluttered very quickly as we go from one activity to the next and the kids leave things out.

I have been really trying to discover ways to keep the house clean and clutter free mainly because I am the type of person that functions better when the area around me is conducive to peace and calm, not clutter and chaos. I am a better mom when things are organized and in place. Can anyone else relate? So to be the best mom I can for my family I needed to find a way to tame the clutter.

Stay tuned next month when I will be sharing my Genius Tip on how I am trying to tame the clutter. As I will be sharing ways I have been improving upon my biggest challenge!

This post is being sponsored by Kenmore as part of their Biggest Challenge giveaway, where you can be entered to win the latest version of the new iPad2. If you would like to enter, you can ‘like’ Kenmore on Facebook and then come back here and share YOUR biggest (enter your topic here) challenge with us below.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kenmore. The opinions and text are all mine.

**To be entered you must comment in the Blog Frog Widget and not the comment section.  I could not get the comments to turn off…still learning this WP!!

 

DIY Labeled Bathroom Jars

Today I would love to share with you how I made these labeled bath jars.

bath jars 1wm


I like to have pretty matching sets rather than big, bulky bottles cluttering my spaces…don’t you?  But all the sets I have seen were really expensive.  Then I saw this picture from Country Living.  I had my next project!

I looked around online for various bottles and in my local thrift store but couldn’t find anything that was pretty or in my budget.  Then one day while I was shopping I had the idea to look at the various glass food jars.  I was surprised at just how many styles there were but none of them were just right.  I had almost given up until I turned down the last aisle and lo and behold I spied these beauties!!!

bath jars 5wm

It was the perfect size and shape and there were exactly 4 bottles.  The labels looked easy to remove and there were no upraised markings in the bottle…PERFECT!  Now only if I drank coffee ;).  No worries…I gave the coffee to my friend and saved the bottles for myself!

bath jars 7wm

I removed the labels and took off the residual glue with this Goo Gone.  I already had this on hand and originally bought it from Home Depot.  It works like a charm.  Then I thoroughly washed the bottles and then let them dry.

bath jars 8wm

Then I created some labels on my Silhouette machine and cut them out in black vinyl.  I also cut them out in white vinyl as well.

bath jar labelswm

I took the inside of the white label and put it on the jars first.  Then I took the black label and put it on top of the white label, kind of like a little puzzle.  The reason I did this is that I wanted the labels to stand out really well on the bottle.  I thought about just cutting out a white square of vinyl but the borders of each frame were really different and this just seemed easier.  Of course you can just place the black vinyl on and not use the white vinyl.

bath jars 4wm

I wanted to cover up the writing on each of the lids so I simply spray painted them white and let them dry thoroughly.  Then I simply filled each jar with my favorite bath products.

I love how fresh and clean it looks.  Isn’t that so much better than a bunch of big and bulky bottles?

bath jars 2wm

I have made my label file available for you to download for those of you who would like to make your own labels.

*Click to download bath jar labels {in GSD format}

**If you don’t have a Silhouette Machine, you can still make these.  Simply download the PSD labels and print them out.  Then simply cover the tops of the label with a few layers of Mod Podge (let dry between each coat) and then cut the labels out.  To apply to the bottles add a small amount of glue like E 6000 or other water proof glues.

***Click to download bath jar labels {in PSD format}


 

Ending the Mud Room Mayhem

Hi Idea Room readers – it’s Becky from the Clean Mama Blog and Clean Mama Printables!  I’m excited to be here today sharing a little organizational tip or two about mud room mayhem (or any place the coats, boots, cleaning supplies, mops, brooms, etc. collect).  Every home has a place where stuff gets stashed, coats are dropped and supplies are hidden.  This may be in several areas of your home or you may have a mud room as your go-to place for these items.  Regardless, adding a little organization to the general area(s) is always helpful.  This week I’m going to show you how I organized the closet portion of my mud room.

Our mud room has a closet with double doors – it’s not as functional as it might sound because there’s a dog kennel in front of one of the doors, but there’s a lot of room to store mud room-type stuff.
Here are a couple ideas for getting and keeping the stuff organized:
group like items together – in baskets, bins, boxes…
   
    I put all the weird household stuff (legs for the washing machine, cabinet knobs, door stops, etc.) in Ziploc bags and then put all those bags in a bin labeled miscellaneous
    Plastic shoe boxes are great for storing smaller items like batteries and electrical cords.  I put the batteries in individual Ziploc bags by type/size inside the box for easy access.
hang what you can off the floor to maximize your space
label, label, label
I printed my labels on cardstock, cut them out and laminated them

I attached them to my containers with stick-on velcro so I could move them around and change if needed

overview of the mudroom closet
Do you have a mud room that needs some identification?
Go here to get some specific mud room labels like the ones that I used.
You can go here if you want some blank labels like these.
Thanks for having me, Amy – Happy Organizing!