give thanks

10 Inspiring Ways to Show Gratitude

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It’s so easy as we move about our day to forget to recognize people in our lives. Whether it’s a teacher, coworker, friend or relative, too many times we don’t stop to show gratitude for what they do for us.

Did you know that it’s equally as easy during the course of our day to do something nice for someone? Taking the time to show gratitude for others not only makes the other person feel appreciated, but it also does so much for our own soul and well-being.

Not sure where to start? Below are a list of 10 things that you can do to show gratitude to others:

  1. Say ‘Thank you’ – Seems simple, right? We all know it’s important to say ‘Thank you’ when someone does something for us, but what about saying ‘Thank you’ for no reason at all? Think of how special someone will feel if you tell them, ‘Thank you for being you.’
  2. A Simple Note – Remember the days when someone would actually sit down and hand-write a letter? Me neither! Let’s make a pact to bring it back! Taking a few moments to hand-write a letter and send it through ‘snail mail’ would be such a great surprise to the person receiving it! Simply say ‘hello’, or ‘just wanted to say thank you for being my friend’. thank you
  3. Post-It Notes – You mean office supplies?? YES! Take a post it note and put someone where someone would never expect it! Write ‘Have a good day’ and post it in the car. Write SMILE and post it to the mirror. Write ‘I Love You!’ and put it in their lunch! thank you
  4. Share some wine – (or any other beverage you choose, such as coffee or lemonade) – The point is to invite someone over for no reason at all! Share the bottle of wine and have some conversation (with or without kids running around!) By taking the time to just sit and have conversation with no excuse of a play date, or needing to do something. Just to come talk! Sounds amazing, right?!
  5. Give compliments – It’s always nice to give compliments on a special day, like your husband telling you that you look beautiful on date night. However, what I am talking about is random compliments. Examples could be telling a bank teller that you like her hair, or his shirt. You could tell the checkout clerk that they are doing a great job. Or you could thank your mail person for always bringing you the mail on time!
  6. Food Delivery! – Make someone one’s favorite meal or snack and take it to them FOR NO REASON! If you’re like me (a not-so-great cook), you can go to the store and get something , and that’s OK too! It’s the gesture of thinking of someone enough to go out of your way to do something nice. (Hint: It doesn’t even have to be their favorite food!  Any food would work!)
  7. Gratitude Journal/Jar – Start a gratitude journal or jar. Each day write down something that you are grateful for and put it in the journal or on a piece of paper in the jar. Watch the blessings pile up. On those days when you are feeling down and need a little pick-me-up, head to the gratitude journal/jar and read a few. It’s guaranteed to give you a boost!    gratitude journal    gratitude jar
  8. Pay for someone’s coffee/meal – Paying an extra $5 at Starbuck or offering to pay for the order behind you are ways to accomplish this. If you have the means and are willing, you can also pay for a strangers dinner at a restaurant. It can be known who are you are or you can do is anonymously, it’s up to you. Either way, I guarantee that you put a smile on someone’s face!
  9. Do something thoughtful – This one is vague and meant to be! Think about something that someone could do for you that you think is thoughtful. It could be something simple or complex, and do that thing for someone else! They may (or may not) appreciate it as much as if someone did if for you, but I guarantee that you will feel better when you’re done!
  10. Hug! – Take a moment out of your day and hug someone! It’s shouldn’t be a quick ‘What’s up?’ hug, but a deliberate one.  When my son was little he always hug every friend. We called him the ‘overly excited hugger’ because he would knock is friends over with his hugs! My other son, at 11-years-old, still hugs his buddies when greeting them. These boys set an example for me that the moment is always right to give a hug!give thanks

10-day Gratitude Challenge!

If you are as motivated as I am to show gratitude for those you care about, take the 10-day Gratitude Challenge with me! For the next 10-days do each of these things listed and see what happens! If you miss one, or do one twice, it doesn’t matter. The point is show to gratitude to others! To make it easier for your, click here to print the list and hang it in a convenient spot for you to remind you! If it takes you longer than 10-days to complete the challenge, it’s OK! The point it to just do it!

10-Day Gratitude Challenge

trick or treat

Don’t Turn Away my Teenage Trick-or-Treater

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Trick-or-Treating is such a fun time for our kids. They dress up in costume and go through the neighborhood knocking on neighbors doors and coming home with more sugar than they need in their lifetime! I remember watching my kids run down the sidewalks, house to house, head to the door and say ‘Trick-or-Treat’ and run back to me telling me all about the newest candy that had just added to their stash!

As my children grew older, I wandered at what age is it not appropriate for them to trick-or-treat anymore. And as my preteen became a teenager and continued to dress up and go trick-or-treating with the family, I was excited that she wanted to continue to spend the time with us. It was at this point, I determined the answer to that question, which is NEVER! Your kids are never too old to dress up and go trick-or-treating!

halloween

It was also at this point that I began hearing comments from neighbors like, ‘Aren’t you too old for trick-or-treating?’ and ‘I’m only giving candy to the little kids.’ Our daughter is 21 now and no longer goes trick-or-treating, but our sons are approaching the same age, I am here to say, ‘DON’T TURN AWAY MY TEENAGE TRICK-OR-TREATER.’

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What else are they supposed to do?

There are so many other things that teenagers can be doing instead of innocently trick-or-treating. If they  aren’t trick-or-treating what else could they do?

  • Go to a party, which could, or could not, be supervised by a responsible adult.
  • Sneak off with their boyfriend/girlfriend somewhere
  • Drink or do drugs
  • Stay home

haloween

Being a Teenager is Hard Enough

You remember what it’s like to be a teenager, don’t you? Thinking you need to be ‘grown-up’ but still wanting to be a kid. It’s a strange time in your life where you are trying to figure out who you are going to be.

I ask that you don’t give teenagers a reason to feel even more out of place at an already awkward stage in their lives. Let them be little as long as they can! Give them candy. Tell them they look cute in their costume. Let them know that they don’t need to grow up so fast and it’s great to just be a kid!

They are a good kids at a time in their life where they have choices. If they choose to trick-or-treat to try to hold on to their childhood, don’t squash it, encourage it!

stepmom

Advice from one Step-Mom to Another

I have been reading a lot of articles and social media posts recently about stepmom’s who feel that they are in a losing battle. That their step-children don’t appreciate them, and in some cases feel that their step-kids just plain don’t like them. It makes me sad, and the truth is, I know exactly how you feel. I was you 8 years ago. There were many times that I felt rejected, frustrated, and at times out of place in my own home.

Stepmom

As I said, that was many years ago. Today my step-daughter is 21-years-old and one of the closest friends that I have. We don’t live in the same city but talk every chance we get and text often. I’m telling you this, because I want you to know that there is hope. Even though there are times you feel that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, I am telling you there is! You just have to be patient, and at times look really hard for it. But I promise, it’s there.

A little bit about us

My step-daughter just turned 3 when my husband and I started dating. Less than one year into our relationship, she was asking to call me ‘mom’. I clearly did not feel comfortable with this, but once we got engaged, and she asked again, of course my answer was yes! From that point on she called me ‘mom’ and I thought, ‘This step-mom thing is going to be pretty easy.’

stepmom

As she got older, and her mother became more involved in her life, she became conflicted. These feelings of conflict were directed at me, because who else was she going to direct them to? I also took it very personally. It is personal, of course, but she would have done the same to any other woman in my position. It wasn’t direct at me, but at who I was to her. For the record, I didn’t recognize this until recently. I wish that in those moments I would have been able to remove myself from the emotions of it and see it for what it was.

She never really said things like, ‘You’re not my mom’ (well, maybe a few times), but there was a period of time that she stopped calling me mom. It was her way of saying it without actually saying it. That period was a difficult time for me. We had 2 small children at the time and a volatile preteen that was finding any way she could to disrespect me in my own home. I was so worried about the example that she would be setting for her little brothers.

As she became a teenager, there were moments that we were close, and other moments that we couldn’t stand to be in the same room. At this point, looking back, many of her outbursts were just her being a teenager, trying to find her way. As step-moms we tend to internalize the behavior of our step-children thinking it’s directed as us because we aren’t their ‘real moms’. The reality is, that they are dealing with so many emotions that we could not even imagine. Their immature-selves have to deal with some very mature situations.

Will you love your step-child like your own?

I remember when I told my grandmother that I was going to marry a man with a daughter, she asked me, ‘Will you be able to love her like your own?’ My instant, and knee jerk response, was, ‘Yes, of course.’ Looking back, my answer to her should have been ‘I will give her all the love she could ever hope for from a mother.’

The truth is, I don’t love any of my children the same! Each of my children hold a special unique place in my heart that is all theirs. I connect with each of them differently and on different topics. It is not fair to think that we should love our children the same, whether we gave birth to them or not. Loving our children uniquely is the best gift we can give them. It may be conceived by others that the unique love is not equal, but that can’t be farther from the truth in my situation.

stepmom

For many years as a young wife and mom I carried around the thought that I should love my children the same.  When it was just my step-daughter, I thought, ‘This is what it feels like to be a mom.’  Then, I had my oldest son, and I felt differently about him and loved him differently. I thought, at this point, that there must be something wrong with me because I loved him differently then her. Then my youngest son was born and I loved him differently than I loved the other two. It was at this point that I discovered is that the way I love all my children is unique. It’s not based on who gave birth to them, but based on who they were as people.

When it comes down to it, I believe that she was meant to be my daughter, just as much as my sons were meant to be mine. She is EXACTLY LIKE ME, which is why we struggled to get along at times, especially as she got older. She’s stubborn and hard-headed like me, but loves with her whole heart and takes every moment personal, just like me….

stepmom

What can you do now?

While your story is different than mine, and every relationship has their own path, below are some ways to nurture the long-term growth of your relationship with your step-child:

  1. Be yourself – don’t try to change who you are to be accepted by your step-child. Even though they may lead you to believe that they don’t like ‘you’, stay true to who you are.
  2. It’s not personal – As much as you feel it is, it’s not. Try to remove your emotions from the situation. (I know, I am asking the impossible!)
  3. Get support from your spouse – It’s vital to let your spouse know how you are feeling.  Whether is frustration, rejection, love, or anything else, it’s important that they know what you are feeling.
  4. Stand your ground – Don’t give in to requests in hopes that they will ‘like’ you. Not only is it not helpful for their growth as a person, they will respect you more as they get older for not caving
  5. Give them space – there are times that they just don’t want you involved. Remember that they have a lot of their own emotions about having to juggle two families that sometimes, they just need to figure it out for themselves with their birth parents. You should allow them the space to do that without feeling rejected.
  6. Get support from other step-moms – I never did this, and wish I had. No one can understand your situation and offer support as much as another step-mom can. I remember feeling isolated at times because there was no one in my world who truly understood what I was going through.
  7. Don’t give up – on yourself or your step-child – as much as there is push back, as much as you may feel like your failing – YOU’RE NOT! Don’t give up on yourself!

I’m not saying that I did all of these. I’m not even saying it was easy. Actually, in those moments it was extremely hard! Looking back there are so many things and moments that I would change as a step-mom, but as we know that is not possible. The best I can do is take what I have learned and pass it on to other who might appreciate it.

Teenagers

5 Ways to Connect with Your Kids in the Car

Our family is so busy with school, work, sports, activities and social gatherings that we are always on the go! As a matter of fact, some days I feel like I am in my car more than any other place! With that said, most of the quality time I spend with my kids is in the car. Especially as they get older and appreciate their privacy and down time at home, the car ride seems to be the only place that I can take advantage of connecting with them.

But, if your kids are like mine, as soon as they get into the car, they pull out their phones and start looking at Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, and you’ve lost them to the world of social media. Asking questions like, ‘How was your day?’ and ‘How was school?’ only gets answers such as ‘Fine’ and ‘Good’. I don’t know about you but this is not what I call engaging conversation!

 

Teenager

teenager

I have found that I need to get creative to urge them to hold a conversation with me. It may seem sneaky, but the car seems to the best place to do it. I mean, we have to be in the car together anyway, and where else can you get their undivided attention? It’s not like they can leave!

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5 Ways to Connect

  1. Ask them questions – I know. This is an obvious one, but it’s a little complicated, especially as your kids get older. Asking yes/no questions is the quickest way to either end the conversation or sound like an interrogation asking question after question after question (you get the point.) The best way to spark a conversation with them is to ask OPEN-ENDED questions. It’s kind of like interviewing someone. You can’t get any insight if you don’t ask questions that warrant a thoughtful answer.  Not sure that open-ended questions you should ask? Here are a few to get you started:
    • What did you do today?
    • Who did you hang out with/play with?
    • What was the best part of your day so far today?
    • What did you work on in math class?
    • What things did you and your friends talk about today?
    • Keep in mind that the follow up questions to these answers should be open-ended as well!
  2. Let them play their music – Music is an amazing way for children of all ages to express themselves. Their taste in music is as unique as they are as people! We usually give our kids an opportunity to play music that they have downloaded on their phones as a way to give them some control in the car. Because it’s up to them to find the song they want to listen to, it gives me insight to how they are potentially feeling in the moment. That will usually either spark a conversation or gives me an opportunity to connect with them on something they like.
  3. Take them for a treat of their choosing – At my kids ages, their favorite quick treat is either at Jamba Juice or Starbucks.  It may be ice cream or cookies for your kids. But ask them where they want to go, and take time to actually sit with them and enjoy the treat, if you have time. It’s amazing when you sit with a Jamba Juice across the table from your teenager, and it’s only you and him, what he is willing to talk about! There are times when I purposefully plan appointments with time in between so we HAVE to sit and ‘waste time’ while we wait for the next appointment.
  4. Talk about what your doing – As mom’s we put our kids first, as we should, but have a tendency to forget that we are people too! Especially as your kids get older, they like to feel that they are having a conversation with you, not that just we are drilling them with questions. I find that when I talk to my kids about how the blog is going, or how dance class was, or something that happened to me during the day, they are truly interested in what I am saying and are more willing to respond with something about themselves.
  5. Play a game – There are many car games that you can play, depending on your kids ages. The idea of the game is getting them talking  and engaging in conversation. You may not uncover any major information, but the casual, fun atmosphere will help your kids open up. When our kids were younger, our go-to games were ‘Eye Spy’ and the ‘Alphabet Bulletin Board’. We still do the alphabet bulletin board on long car rides, but our new game is ‘Name that Tune’. Whoever is sitting in the front passenger seat has to cover the name and artist of a song and we try to be the first to guess right.

Being able to connect with our kids and stay informed on what is going on in their lives is important to me. The older our children get, the more I realize that I have to find new ways to accomplish this. As our kids begin to creep closer and closer to 16, I get worried about not having their undivided attention in the car. Pretty soon I’m going to have to find a new creative way to connect with my kids!

What do you do to connect with your kids? I love to hear your suggestions!

Halloween Costumes

Trending Halloween Costumes for 2017

Halloween is just around the corner. Picking out the perfect Halloween Costume is important to children and adults alike! 2017 brings some classic costumes, such as vampires, devils, and skeletons. It also brings trending costumes such as Game of Thrones, Guardians of the Galaxy and Wonder Woman.

Take a look at what’s new and trending for 2017!

Below is a list of the 2017 favorite costumes for the following categories:

  • Infant/Toddler
  • Kids
  • Tweens/Teens
  • Adult
  • Couples
  • Family
  • Dog

Infant/Toddler Costumes

 

Toddler Wonder Woman Costume – DC Comics

Celebrate DC Comics superheroine Wonder Woman and fight crimes in the nursery and… [More]

Price: $29.99

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Role Models

Help Your Child Choose The Right Role Model

Role Model

Role models come in all shapes and sizes for our kids; super heroes, sports figures, YouTube famous, dancers, teachers, parents/family, the list goes on and on.

When children are young, their role models tend to be fictional characters, who are usually pillars of how we would want our children to be. Honest, kind, helpful, courageous, among other traits. However, as they get older their role models tend to become real people. Either people they know in real life, or public figures. It’s at the point that we should start to involve ourselves with who are kids are looking up to, and why.

The Importance of Role Models

Role models have a huge impact on our kids. The role models that they look up to during their childhood, ultimately help shape who they are as human beings. As parents, we cannot discount the impression that these individuals make on our kids. In addition, we can’t choose who our kids gravitate to as a role model. We can encourage them to choose a role model that we would like them to have, but the reality of it is, they will end up choosing their own.

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What if we disagree about who our child looks up to? What if we feel this particular role model is not setting the right examples for our children? If our children’s role model does not represent what we believe in, how do we handle that? What if that role model has indiscretions or makes poor choices that our children become aware of?

Continue reading “Help Your Child Choose The Right Role Model”

Going back to college

How My Husband Went Back To College

Going back to college is a big decision. The older you get, the harder it is to go back. There are many factors that are taken into consideration when going back to college; family, time, money, among other things. These are the many things that we had to consider as a family when deciding if my husband should go back to school. How were we going to afford it? Would there be time for him to go to class? What about coaching the kids in sports and his work schedule? How would we be able to fit it all in? There were so many reason to put it off, but Western Governors University helped us change our mind.

The Hurdles of Going Back to College

For many years, my husband had told me that he wanted to get his masters. It was something that he had envisioned for himself, and for his career, would eventually be inevitable. With having 3 kids, a household to run and my own job to consider, the thought of my husband having to attend 2-3 night classes a week was not something that I was looking forward to. I also knew that he didn’t want to give up his time with his family. Missing sports practices or games, or coaching the soccer team, was not something he was willing to do.

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Not everyone is a winner

Not Everyone is a Winner

Not everyone is a winner, and that’s OK!

Somewhere in the last 20 years, being competitive in sports became taboo. If you’re too good, try not to be as good. If you aren’t as good as others, you are told you are amazing anyway. Why is it bad to tell our children that they need to improve? Being honest with our kids about their abilities will encourage them to work harder. And hard work never hurt anyone.

Now, don’t get me wrong, positive reinforcement is always important, especially for our growing kids. Being honest about their abilities doesn’t mean being harsh. It means encouraging them. Letting them know that there is room to grow, that can only come from dedication and practice.

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successful family organization

How to Successfully Organize a Busy Family

Back to school means back to busy schedules. Between sports, school functions, after school activities, play dates with friends and your schedule, it can be difficult to keep schedules straight! I have the fear of showing up to the wrong activity on the wrong day or at the wrong time. Preparing for karate in a soccer uniform heading to the basketball game! Well, maybe not quite that bad, but you get the picture!

By nature, I like to be organized and our family schedule is no different. I have tried many approaches to organizing our schedule; some have been great, while others have been epic fails. This article will run through only those scheduling systems that have been successful for me over the years.

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Back to School Supplies

Mastering the Back-to-School Supplies List

It’s that time of year to start preparing for the kids to head back to school again. On the first day, our kids will head to school with their new backpacks, new clothes and be ready to tackle another year in style! We also know that when they come home on that first day, they will bring the dreaded list of supplies. Teachers will tell our children that while they don’t have to have the supplies by tomorrow, it would be awesome if they did.

Back to School Supplies

If your kids are like mine, they will come home and insist they will need those supply list items…TONIGHT! That they want to start the year off right! And if you’re like me, you will get in the car, drive to Target, WalMart or any other store that might still have those items in stock. You will rummage through what is left in the ‘Back to School’ section of the store, then head to the craft section, and then the home office section. When you have exhausted all departments in that store, and still don’t have everything you need, you will go to the next store. You will continue this process until you find everything on the list.

Get your Back to the School Supply List

Click here to receive your child’s Back to School Supply list basics.

Well, I am here to tell you there is a better way to tackle the dreaded Back to School Supply List. It’s Amazon! If you are looking at a more efficient way to shop for back to school items, start shopping before school starts. Use Amazon to purchase items that are typical for your child’s new grade. Make sure that those items offer free returns, if it turns out that your child’s teacher does not require a specific item. Then, when your child brings home their list, they will have many of the items already on the list. If there are items required that have not been purchased yet, you can get them through Amazon Prime and they will have the final few items before the end of the first week of school! MOM WIN!

School Supply List

So how do you know what your child’s teacher may require in their back to school list? That’s a great question. I can provide you with a list of the grade-specific standard items. Just let me know you’re interested in receiving it by sign up here. Your grade-specific school supply list will be delivered directly to your inbox!

Try Amazon Prime for Free!

I started using Amazon Prime avidly about 3 years ago. Where I live, we have a limited number of stores close to us to shop, for everything. When it comes time to get back to school supplies, unless you were there Monday afternoon, there was no way to to find everything on your child’s list. Enter Amazon.

I hadn’t used Amazon too much before then, because I didn’t want to pay shipping fees. I saw an advertisement for 1-month free trial of Amazon Prime (free 2-day shipping) and decided it would be good time to try it. At the very least, I could get free 2-day shipping on school supplies, clothes, etc. Needless today, I fell in love, and have not stopped using Amazon Prime since then! If your interested in trying Amazon Prime for 30-days for free, click the link below:

Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

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