Mid-summer blues

Remember how excited you were at the end of the school year?  Both you and the kids were exhausted from the school year and you had fabulous plans for a fun filled summer.  For the first few weeks, you had a fantastic time but now it is mid-summer and that summer malaise is setting in.  The kids have used the word "bored" far too many times.  Isn't it funny how kids can say, "Mommy, I am bored" and make it sound as if you have just done something horrible to them. 

We have all had the mid-summer blues so you are certainly not alone.  As I write this post, I am in the middle of an 18 hour road trip from Florida to New York.  My boys are crying "bored" because I have limited their use of electronic devices.  We didn't drive 18 hours so that they could play Minecraft.  Mid-summer is the time to shake things us, stray far away from our summer routines, take a road trip, go camping, get away from the electronic devices and ignite the summer with new life.  You do not want to have any regrets in another month to six weeks when school starts and you are bound by the school calendar. 

Learning should not end when summer starts; this is a wonderful time to take on the role of your children's teacher and teach some valuable life lessons.  Teach gratitude to the kids by spending a few days or evenings volunteering with a local charity.  This may be impossible when the school year starts and your evenings are filled with music lessons, homework and sporting events.  Did you find it difficult to participate in Wednesday evening bible study, the summertime is a great time to get the kids more engaged.  Plant an organic garden in your backyard, use your cell phone to make a family video dancing to Pharrell's Happy or to your favorite song, or take an art class together.  Create something together that will memorialize your summer together.

Learn, have fun, love each other and show gratitude every step of the way.  Gratitude has a way of washing away any mid-summer blues.

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Offering the Gift of Grace for Mother's Day

Love and Blessings to all Mothers!

Love and Blessings to all Mothers!

I usually do not take all three boys to the supermarket.  At 9, 6 and 4, they tend to be very active, demanding and prone to unreasonable meltdowns.  When I absolutely have to take them all, I try to make the trip as short as possible.  I know exactly what I want and we all head to that aisle, being careful not to pass any grocery items that would cause trouble (chips, ice-cream, candy).  I suspect that most parents have the same plan.  I celebrate making it to the checkout without incident.  Unfortunately, the marketing genius in most supermarkets don't think about parents when they place all the candy at a child's hand and eye level in every checkout lane.  Purposeful sabotage? Maybe.  

This is when I usually encounter the person that I dread the most...my 20 year old pre-kids self. Remember her?  She is the one who would see a child acting irrationally in a supermarket and wonder "why can't that mother handle her kids" or "when I was that age, I couldn't behave that way without getting a spanking."  As mothers, we judge ourselves quite harshly.  We would love to leave the impression that motherhood is like playing a perfectly tuned organ that we have mastered.  Unfortunately, most days, the organ is not tuned and our fingers hurt too much to play.  Add a generous dose of "judgment" in the mix and we may just collapse on the stage. 

This Mother's Day, I am thankful for the gift of grace.  Grace is kindness given even when it is not deserved.  It is the wonderful lady who helped my son find the perfect pancake syrup, the gentleman who waited patiently for my son to prove that he was "grown" enough to navigate the aisles with the cart, the stranger who smiled at us and shared that his mother also raised three boys and it was very challenging for her, and finally, the cashier who asked if I really wanted the chocolate bars that were being added to my cart and then gently placed them back on the shelf.

What a wonderful shopping experience!  Had I encountered the old me, I would be writing a different story.  It takes a village to raise children and it is a blessing to be touched by simple acts of kindness by so many.  This Mother's Day, celebrate all the mothers in your life in grand fashion but during the other 364 days of the year, do not forget to lend a helping hand or give an understanding smile to a mother who may really need it. 

Happy Mother's Day!  Mothers, may every day of the year be filled with grace, love and kindness and may you always receive the support that you need to help your children grow into their greatness.

Please share with all the wonderful women in your life!

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Hello, World!

A Mother's "doing it all" Schedule

You can have it all. Just not all at once.
— Oprah Winfrey
Mom with gifts.jpg

Women everywhere understand this quote, especially mothers.  There is but so much that we can fit into a day, a month or a year.  It is great to have long-term goals but it is also important to take life one day at a time.  We need to organize our lives around the things that are important to us today, not what may be important in a year.  If we can truly have it all, just not all at once, then it is important to focus on today's dreams and priorities.

Once you have determined your priorities, create your ideal schedule and attach it to the refrigerator so that the entire household understand the weekly flow of the household.  Be flexible.  On a perfect day, all the pieces will fall into place but life happens (sick kids, extra work or school project, travel, oversleeping) and you just have to go with the flow and regroup the next day.  

Mommy time

Mommy time

As mothers, we are so dedicated to our families that we often neglect our personal needs or goals.  Make sure that there is at least one thing on your daily schedule that you can claim just for yourself.  In 24 hours, surely, you should be able to say that you spent an hour taking care of your own physical and mental health.  

As you can see from the schedule below, my personal priorities are exercise and writing; I try to accomplish them early while the family is still asleep.  At the end of the day, you should be able to say, "I loved and nurtured my family and I also loved and nurtured myself."   

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5am:  Rise and Shine. Meditate. Pray.

5:30:  Exercise.

6am:  Write/Blog/Facebook (anything that brings you personal fulfillment).

6:30:  Get kids up, have breakfast, and perform the last minute homework check.

7:30 - 8am:  Get kids off to school.

8:30 - 5pm: Work for mommy (inside the home or outside the home).

12 - 1pm: Lunch/errands for self and kids/pay bills/gym.

4:30 - 5:  Leave work.  Pick up kids, if they are not already home.

5:30 - 7pm: homework, sporting events/music lessons or other after-school activities.

7 - 8pm: Family time (Dinner, TV, games, books).

8pm: Pajamas, hugs & kisses & bedtime story.

8:30: Parents clean-up (dishes/laundry).

9pm: Grown up time (yea!!!). Relax alone or with your spouse.

10 - 11pm: Me time.  Writing, blogging, Facebook, sleep, whatever "me" time means to you.

11pm: Lights out

I am a morning person so I am comfortable starting my day super early.  I am usually ready to sleep by 10pm but I push myself to stay up just a bit longer.  Create a schedule that works for you.  It should contain only the things that are very important to you.   It is fine if your "me time" means an extra hour of sleep.  

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Doing it all, also requires negotiation skills.  Hire a babysitter, invite the grandparents over, or negotiate with your spouse for a night off.   I know many mothers who wouldn't dream of going on a weeknight.  Once or twice per month, get the kids ready for bed and meet a friend for dinner.  You may be a little tired the next day but that extra human connection, I call it friend therapy, is well worth the effort.

For me, "doing it all" means doing what is important.  I don't need to "have it all" at once.  Having what is important to me right now, is enough.



3 Vacations Every Mother Should Take Each Year

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I recently returned from a trip to Jamaica with five wonderful ladies.  It was a good friend's 50th birthday and we gathered to celebrate this special occasion.  At the beginning of the trip, I only knew the birthday girl but by the end of the trip, the six of us were best friends.

Funds and family obligations, notwithstanding, every mother should take 3 trips each year - a girl's or good friends getaway, a romantic trip with your spouse or significant other and a family vacation.  Each trip feeds a different part of our soul.

With the right mix of friends, the girl's getaway can be adventurous or pure relaxation.  For me, I wanted relaxation and good conversation - mission accomplished!  Mothers, whether it is for a week or just a weekend, we are in a space where we are not pulled in many directions and no one wants anything from us.  Do you even remember what it feels like to hear your name without it being followed by an immediate request?

I know that you love your husband, but do you like him?  Time alone - walking on the beach, dancing, talking about something besides the kids, focusing on something other than our electronic devices - allows us to reconnect to the essence of the person with whom we fell in love with and choose to be our partner in life.

Little footprints in the sand, the joyful noise of kids sliding down a waterfall, "are we there yet" from the back seat of the car, squeezing 5 people into a hotel room with only a king size bed, searching for the best ice cream in town, are all hallmarks of a great family vacation.  We have a great time, we make awesome memories but usually return only slightly less tired than before vacation.  Still, these are the memories that we will be discussing over family dinners 20 years from now.

This year, I have had the girl's getaway and short trips with the family.  I'm still hoping to have at least a weekend away with the hubby but finding someone to take care of three very active boys under 9 for even one night is not an easy task.

I didn't say that it would be easy but we are mothers and we rise to every challenge.  Happy vacationing and don't forget to share memories from your trips.

Car Therapy

I was driving to work this week singing, "

I'm walking on sunshine

" louder than anyone has a right to sing and it dawned on me that I have spent some of my happiest moments in my car.  Most mornings, I drop the kids off, exhale and turn the radio to my favorite station.  My commute provides precious alone time with just me and whoever or whatever I want to invite in; usually I extend the invitation to music.  My mood that day determines which songs I play. With the kids off to school, I can now listen to that cool song with a few bad words (

Welcome to JamRock

) that I can't let the kids hear, yell at the talk show host who is "talking crazy" and cry when I hear a sad country song (

Blake Shelton's Baby

), Martina McBride's (

I'm gonna love you through it

) or  almost any song by

Shirley Caesar

(

No Charge

) because her voice reaches in and grabs your heart.   I sing loudly.  I play Micheal Jackson's

Off the Wall

and dance until the person in the lane next to me starts staring at me and then I smile and wave at them.  I relax.  I breathe.  I make quick fixes to my hair and makeup (yep, I am one of those people).   I give myself pep talks about life (Janet, you woke up so it is already a wonderful day, just claim your joy today).  I say the same commuter prayer in the car every day. 

Father, thank you for waking me up this morning and starting me on my way. 

Please keep the entire family safe and accident free.  

Fill our hearts with love, joy and happiness (If it has been a rough morning, I throw in peace).  

I say a special prayer for anyone who needs you today but does not know you or is unable to pray; please bring them comfort and meet the needs of their heart.  

Thanks for your love and your blessings.

In Jesus, name.  Amen.  

When you have 3 active boys "safety and free of accidents" is a huge deal.

I sometimes turn the music down and call someone that I love.  I reserve my "car calls" for the people who make me happy because who wants to speak with a downer when you are on the road. I plan my day, try to map out my life, think about dreams that I am still afraid to say out aloud, yell at people that I don't have the courage to yell at in person but mostly I do what I love - sing and car dance.  By the time I get to my destination, I have laughed, cried, sang or danced my worries away; well most of the time. 

If you don't think that you have time for yourself, consider the time that you spend in your car.  Focus on the road ahead, drown out all negative energy, ignore all the crazy drivers and just be your craziest, wildest, funniest, most authentic self.

Are Your Daily Activities Aligned With Your Core Values?


Are your daily activities aligned with your core values?  When the answer is no, it creates both physical and emotional imbalance.  It is fine to be busy if you are busy doing the right things but it is a shame to spend all your time on a treadmill that is going nowhere. 

 A few weeks ago, my Whole Health doctor told me that I was leading a stress-filled life and that stress was contributing to my thyroid imbalance.  In response, I started a eight week boot camp class, added helpful supplements, such as Vitamin B-12, Hemp seeds, Chia seeds,and Maca powder to my diet and also cut back on my interactions with people who are a source of negative energy.  Life coaches often recommend journaling as a way to reduce stress and reconnect to your inner self and it is great advice, however I have never been able to journal for more than a few weeks at a time so I was happy to discover a shortcut.  As I was completing "happiness" exercises on one of my favorite websites (www.happify.com),  I was asked to write down my core beliefs and values.  At first I groaned at the thought but started writing anyway.  I was surprised to find that some of the things that I valued last year have changed based on all my life experiences over the past year, including the passing of my father.  Below is a random list of thoughts/beliefs that shape my day.


  1. Don't be judgmental.  Be kind and understanding regarding the road that others have traveled and the path that they have chosen for their lives. 
  2. Shower God, family, friends, and neighbors with love. 
  3. Pray everyday and always give thanks for my blessings. 
  4. Contribute to the life of a child that is not my own. 
  5. Nourish my mind, body and soul and continue to be open to new truths. 
  6. My body is the temple of God and it is to be treated with the highest regard. 
  7. Eat real food. We are what we eat. 
  8. Material things = fleeting happiness. If someone loves something that you own, give it away with a smile. 
  9. Don't be afraid to feel every emotion (laughter, sadness, tears, joy, pain). Feel it but don't dwell on it and don't hide it with substances, legal or illegal. 
  10. The power of the Bible lies with those who read it; if I don't love myself and my neighbor everyday then it is just a book with good stories. 
  11. I am an introvert but not a loner. Strong relationships and strong friendships mean everything to me. 
  12. We are our brother's keeper; don't miss a chance to help someone in need. 
  13. Take a moment everyday through prayer or meditation to listen to what is in your heart. 
  14. Listen more than you speak and give more than you receive.
  15. Exercise every week.  Sometimes that means exercising your facial muscles by smiling at everyone that you meet and exercising your arms by giving everyone a hug.

What I learned  from this exercise is that in order to better align my beliefs to my daily life, I need to become more connected to my local community.

Take a few minutes to jot down your core beliefs, your goals and a few things that you value.  Keep a journal for one week and document everything that you do.  Are your daily activities aligned with your goals and your core beliefs?  What can you eliminate to make room for inspiration and growth?  What can you incorporate in your life to increase your peace, general well-being and your impact on society?   

Share your list so that we can inspire, support and encourage each other.

Honor the victim of the Newtown Elementary School tragedy by remembering their names

Below are the names of the victims of the elementary school shooting in Newtown, CT.  We are all grieving and searching for a way to honor them.  We can do so by praying for their families, the Newtown community and for the safety of all our children.  We can also help by ALWAYS remembering these innocent angels.  Please select a name to remember and always carry in your heart.


The names and birth dates of the victims:
Charlotte Bacon (2/22/06), 6 years old, female
Daniel Barden (9/25/05), 7 years old, male
Rachel Davino (7/17/83), Staff member, 29 years old, female
Olivia Engel (7/18/06), 6 years old, female
Josephine Gay (12/11/05), 7 years old, female
Ana M. Marquez-Greene (4/4/06), 6 years old, female
Dylan Hockley (3/8/06), 6 years old, male
Dawn Hochsprung (6/28/65), Principal, 47 years old, female
Madeleine F. Hsu (7/10/06), 6 years old, female
Catherine V. Hubbard (6/8/06), 6 years old, female
Chase Kowalski (10/31/05), 7 years old, male
Nancy Lanza, 52 years old, female (mother of shooter Adam Lanza)
Jesse Lewis (6/30/06), 6 years old, male
James Mattioli (03/22/06), 6 years old, male
Grace McDonnell (11/4/05), 7 years old, female
Anne Marie Murphy (7/25/60), Staff member, 52 years old, female
Emilie Parker (05/12/06), 6 years old, female
Jack Pinto (05/05/06), 6 years old, male
Noah Pozner (11/20/06), 6 years old, male
Caroline Previdi (9/07/06), 6 years old, female
Jessica Rekos (5/10/06), 6 years old, female
Avielle Richman (11/17/06) 6 years old, female
Lauren Rousseau (June 1982), Staff member, 30 years old, female
Mary Sherlach (2/11/56), Staff member, 56 years old, female
Victoria Soto (11/04/85), Staff member, 27 years old, female
Benjamin Wheeler (09/12/06), 6 years old, male
Allison N. Wyatt (07/03/06), 6 years old, female
Please pass the names  of these angels on to others for prayer and remembrance.  God bless these angels and their families.

Newtown Elementary School Tragedy: When Will There Be A Safe Place For Our Children


I'm searching my mind for an appropriate prayer but there is none. Our bodies are fragile and sometimes our minds are fragile. It is hard to confidentially move forward following this elementary school tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut that claimed so many lives.  My heart is heavy and there is a sinking feeling in my stomach.  It feels like there is no safe place for our children.

Last night my son was crying because the spaghetti on his plate was touching the peas so he didn't want to eat it.  Normally, this would prompt a stern warning to stop being silly and just eat but I just hugged him. It reminded me that these beautiful children who died were young and innocent with no real worries; they just wanted to learn and play and be loved.  They want to exist in a safe space.  Every child should be guaranteed these very basic wishes.  Our hearts are mourning for these innocent children, their teachers and their parents.  Please share your thoughts and prayers.

Poem: My Heaven

My Heaven

by Janet Autherine

 

I believe in heaven but

 

 

If this life ends and there is no mansion in the sky and

I just return to the dirt from whence I came,

I want ashes to ashes, dust to dust to be a song of joy and revival.

 

In this life

 

My heart gave more love than it could contain

My soul was a conduit for spiritual and physical love and harmony

My mind expanded beyond the text books to the endless possibilities of the universe

 

My hands reached out indiscriminately to help family, friends and strangers

My body was a vessel to be treasured but not an obsession

My feet were never too tired to dance or run the last mile.

 

You see, I have always been in my heaven but now I am one with the earth again.

 

Grass happily grows on me without the need for fertilizers

Roses and hibiscus plants flourish and bloom beautiful flowers in my soil

Organic vegetables thrive as nature intended and nourish the world

 

Happy couples sit on a bench over me and feel the love that I carried inside of me

The elderly are comforted even knowing that they may be joining me soon

My loved ones rub me between the palm of their hands and find peace.

 

A well-lived life on earth is the beginning of my heaven.


©Janet Autherine but please feel free to share with attribution.

 

A Virtuous Woman and Mother


This past Sunday, I read Proverbs 31 in its entirety for the first time in many years.  Although some of it would be considered "dated", it is a beautiful piece that reads like a song.  Below are the words that inspire me the most.


"Who can find a virtuous and capable woman?
She is more precious than rubies.
She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.
She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night.
She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.
She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.
Her children stand and bless her.
There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!
Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise."  Proverbs 31: Excepts from the New Living Translation.

This describes many of the women and mothers that I know. They are strong, hardworking and always ready to extend a helping hand to her family, a friend or a stranger.  There is rarely any public reward; the reward is in a child's smile, a hug from a grateful stranger or the silent whisper of "well done" that God places in our hearts.  You may not feel strong or wise or even kind every day.  You may even want to flee from the term, virtuous but on your best day, you are all the above and so much more.  Claim it for yourself and one day you may be surprised to receive a very sincere, "You are the best mom, ever!" compliment from the child who you think is not fully engaged. 

Is there a bible verse, a poem or a song that inspires you as a woman or a mother?  Please share it with us.


40s - Time of Self-discovery and Self-realization

A few months ago, I told my mother that I had taken an action based on her advice.  I actually thought that it would make her happy to hear that I still listen to her and respect her advice.  I was surprised to hear her say, "You are a grown woman now; you make your own decisions!"  What?  When did that happen?

In your 40s, your life rests squarely on your own shoulders.  The time to blame others for your problems or your parents for a less than ideal childhood is long gone.  Friends have their own challenges and don't have time for the long heart to heart talks that we use to have in our 30s.

I will be honest, the past year has been challenging.  My father and my beloved cat Rudy passed away.  I went through the stress of negotiating the purchase of a new house and moving.  My family was in a pretty scary car accident that totaled my car and then I made an impulse purchase of a new car that wasn't the right fit for our family.  I was blindsided by major family drama.  Finally, like many Americans, we are going through the stress of a job loss.  The years when I was just juggling work with raising three active boys now seemed pretty easy.   But isn't that what life in your 40s is about?  It is a time of great joys and great disappointments and everything that we have learned in the past 40 years is tested. 

I now see the 40s as a time of reflection, self-discovery and self-realization.  Here are a few things that I have learned over the past  birthday year.

  1. What I know for sure is that I do not know anything for sure but based on my life experiences, I do have confidence in a few things.  I am confident that there is a God and that love can solve almost every problem that we face. 
  2. We have to understand the past to make sense of our present.  Trace your roots and speak to your elders about their experiences.
  3. I am optimistic about life and sometimes my head is in the clouds. I can live with that; it is pretty up there.
  4. You might as well embrace your parents because we either marry a version of our parents or we become them as we get older.
  5. Death is final; only our memories remain, so make good memories.
  6. When someone that you love dies, you only remember the good times. Try to focus on their good qualities when they are alive.
  7. Behind anger and hate is pain and fear.  Keep that in mind when you are angry at someone or someone is angry at you.  Try to dig deeper.
  8. Not everyone will agree with you; that does not mean that they are wrong.  You may be dealing with someone whose reality is just very different from yours.  
  9. If you lose your way in love, stop, breathe, center yourself and take direction from your heart.
  10. Create your own family with the people who consistently show you love through words and deeds.
  11. It is possible to feel both love and pain in places within you that you didn't even know existed.
  12. We were perfectly made by a wonderful God. We all have a purpose.  Our natural tendency is to love; every negative energy is unnatural and will eat away at our soul if we don't let go of it.
  13. When you are feeling down, see your way out by helping or inspiring someone else.

Every day is another opportunity to learn and grow.  We have a wealth of knowledge and we are blessed with  a healthy range of emotions, however, we are just raindrops in the sea of life.  Embrace the joys and the disappointments; there is so much more to discover.  I step into 43, somewhat nervously.  I am hoping for a smooth ride this year but whatever happens, I am ready to own it and learn all that I can from the experiences that life brings.

Back to School Prayer and Blessing for our Children

I walked my kindergartner to his class a week ago and handed him off to a lovely stranger.  He has always been my "hip" baby so I thought that he would cry.  He did not.  He gave me a long hug and settled in his tiny chair.  I pressed my nose against the window and watched him for a few minutes and then left him in the hands of his teacher and God. 

As parents, we can all relate to separation anxiety.  We wonder if we prepared them enough to face the challenges of the world and whether they will remember all the lessons that we thought them over the summer.  I was comforted by a recent sermon of Dr. Sharon Carnahan, titled, "What is in your backpack?"  As we send our children off to school, she suggests that we place a few reminders in their backpacks.   (1) Place a copy of the Bible in their backpacks or download it to their phone or iPad.  (2) Remind them that they are a child of God.  (3) Remind them that God wipes their slate clean every day and every day they can choose to be a better person.  (4) Remind them to be kind to and to interact with kids who seem different or have a disability.  (5) Remind them to take a stand when someone is not being treated kindly.  

My advice to my five year old was simple; smile, be nice and make a friend. 

Dr. Carnahan also shared this lovely, thought-provoking prayer by Ina Hughes, titled, "A Prayer for Children."  



We Pray for Children - who sneak popsicles before supper,
who erase holes in math workbooks,
who can never find their shoes.
And we pray for those
who don't bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers,
who are born in places where we wouldn't be caught dead,
who never go to the circus,
who live in an X-rated world.
We pray for children
who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money.
And we pray for those
who never get dessert,
who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
who watch their parents watch them die,
who can't find any bread to steal,
who don't have any rooms to clean up,
whose pictures aren't on anybody's dresser,
whose monsters are real.
We pray for children
who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,
who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,
who like ghost stories,
who shove dirty clothes under the bed,
who never rinse out the tub,
who get visits from the tooth fairy,
who don't like to be kissed in front of the carpool,
who squirm in church and scream in the phone,
whose tears we sometimes laugh at and
whose smiles can make us cry.
And we pray for those
whose nightmares come in the daytime,
who will eat anything,
who have never seen a dentist,
who aren't spoiled by anybody,
who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
who live and move, but have no being.
We pray for children
who want to be carried and for those who must,
for those who we never give up on and
for those who don't get a second chance.
For those we smother with affection and
for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it
.
Blessings to you and your children on the first day of school and every day.  Squeeze them tight and then let them go so that they can soar.  Celebrate the kids that they are today and who they will become tomorrow.  Remind them to smile


The Burden of Laundry Inspires a Return to the Simple Life

There is something about laundry that puts everything about life into perspective.  After spending a few hours doing six loads of laundry for my three boys, I started to reminisce about my own childhood growing up in Jamaica. All my clothes could fit in one drawer.  I had two shoes - the first was my school shoes and the second was my "good" shoes.  I wore the good shoes to special occasions, such as weddings, funerals and other special events. 

The same was true for clothes.  There were quite a few dresses that were not worn because they were being saved for a special occasion that did not come. Sometimes, shoes were saved for a special occasion only to find that it no longer fit my growing feet.  I was not alone; most kids in my community were having the same experience. We knew that we didn't have it all but we were grateful for the few things that we could call our own.

How did we handle laundry? Well, that one, maybe two school uniform was hand-washed and pressed a few times per week and I went off to school looking clean, neat and wealthy in spirit.  Conventional wisdom tells us that more material things result in happier kids and a easier life for parents.  If the kids have a different outfit everyday, then the parents will only have to do laundry once per week.  If the kids have more toys, they will be happier.  Well, my kids are blessed with a room filled with toys and they ignore most of them and concentrate on one or two.

The kids return to school in August so August is a great time to return to the simple life.   All the toys that have not been played with over a two week period will be given to charity.  If they only play with a few toys, why not give another child the opportunity to play with the rest.  Recently, I have attended  a few birthday parties where the kids (likely with the nudging of the parents) asked for a donation to their favorite charity or supplies for a charity such as the Ronald McDonald House.   I have mixed feeling about this so I usually bring supplies for the charity and a small gift for the child.  However, I do believe that this is a step in the right direction.

As for clothes, I am seriously considering giving away all but eight days worth of clothes.  We probably do not need more clothes that what we would take on a week's vacation.  Frankly, I don't know if this will make the kids any happier but it will definitely make this mommy's life simpler. 

Parenting Boys

Are you raising boys? It is an amazing experience! They are fun, sensitive and tough at the same time and have boundless energy.  To assist us in our journey, I am creating a mini encyclopedia of "Everything Boys" or everything that you wanted to know about raising boys but were afraid to ask.  Please assist other mothers by posting your thoughts on raising boys or your own helpful link in the comments below.

 

BoysRising: Helpful Articles from our Blog

 

BoysRising: Parenting Boys

BoysRising: Educating Boys

BoysRising: Boys Health

BoysRising: Books

Testimonials on Raising Boys

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letting Go Of Fear And Living A Purposeful Life

I don't enjoy flying. Yes, it gets me to my destination quicker than driving, it is safer than driving and the sky is absolutely beautiful. I don't like flying because I feel powerless. I have just turned my destiny over to a group of strangers. I don't have control of the wheel like I would in a car and when there is severe turbulence, all I can do is sit helplessly and suffer through it. 

Florida has been hit with with heavy rains due to Tropical Storm Debby and there are large puddles of water on every street. However, I am a great driver and I am behind the wheels of a solid car. I am in control. Imagine my surprise when I drove through a puddle of water and my car hydroplaned into the left lane. I felt like I was on a water slide at Disney. I had absolutely no control and just had to let it run its course and then steer back into my lane.  I slowed down and it happened again. Even though I hydroplaned into oncoming traffic, thankfully there were no cars in the left lane. 

There is a lesson in every incident, big or small, good or bad, that happens in our lives. Sometimes we  discover the lesson right away and sometimes it takes weeks or months. Here are a few that I have pondered on over the past week.


  1. We have freewill and some control over our lives but God has ultimate control.
  2. Don't hydroplane through life; be purposeful about what you say and do.
  3. We are fragile beings. We are strong in mind, heart and soul but all are housed in a fragile shell.
  4. Say your goodbyes every day, not just in words but by showing love and kindness to those around you.
  5. If you are going down the wrong road in life, it is not too late to change course.
  6. Rational people can have irrational fears. Just let go of your fears and let your mind soar. 
  7. Every day bad things happen to good people. We may get a reprieve but we are not immune.
  8. Don't get distracted by the small things, focus on the things that are meaningful to you.
  9. Life is not about how long you live; it is about what you do with the dash in between life and death.
  10. Love yourself. Love your neighbor. It all starts and ends with love.

I am letting go of my fear of flying. I am controlling the things that I can and leaving the rest to God. What I know for sure is that if I live a purposeful life and focus on the things and the people that are important to me, my life, short or long, will be well-lived.



The Mother's Day Gift Only You Can Give - Inner Peace, Kindness & Charity


A mother = a GOOD mother, at least 90% of the time. Believe it! A bad mother generally means abuse, neglect and systematic unkindness. If this does not describe you, then breathe a sigh of relief, take yourself off the hook for all the parental guilt that you have been carrying and that society has placed on your shoulder and just go back to being the loving mom that you. How many times have you felt insecure about your parenting skills because you missed a program a school, brought store bought, instead of home made cookies to a school function, forgot that it was pajama day at school so your child is the only kid wearing regular clothes, gave you child a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner or have your toddler sleep in the bed with you? We can all spend hours trading stories.

Yes, mistakes will be made in parenting but in most cases the kids will be alright. Ignore all the chatter about moms who work outside the home vs mom who work inside the home or bottle fed babies vs moms who nurse until the chid is six or moms who send their kids to private vs public schools.  This is often useless chatter that just keeps moms feeling needlessly inferior to other moms or with a false sense of superiority. This Mother's day, let us give ourselves the gift of inner peace regarding our parenting choices and offer kindness, not judgment to other mothers who may be struggling or who have made choices that we wouldn't necessarily make.

This post was inspired by one of my favorite bloggers. Kristen wrote writes at Rage Against the Minivan, wrote a wonderful blog entitled, Where is the Mommy - War for the Motherless Child? Please read her post and pass it on to other mothers who are tired of the "mommy wars." There are so many children in need and so much that we can do to help.

As Mother's Day approaches, let us change the conversation. Let us support each other in raising healthy, happy, loving, kind children. Our plates are full, but if we have the time to criticize the choices of other moms and hand-wring about our own choices, then we have the time to lend a helping hand to a child in need. 

Although I am not able to adopt at this point (I hope to do so later), I support children in need through Women to Women International and Compassion International. Take a few minutes to surf the web for a reputable local or international organization that could benefit from the awesome mommy that you already are.  Mother's Day is still a few days away but if we practice claim our inner peace, it can come early for you, a mom who is struggling or even a child who may need someone to call Mom this Mother's day. For a child who needs you, you are a great mom today and everyday.

14 Years of Unconditional Love - My Beloved Pet Rudy

On Sunday, April 15, 2012, my beloved Rudy passed away peacefully in my arms while I rubbed his head. He had an enlarged liver and spleen and had not been eating or drinking much for about 2 weeks. The veterinarian encouraged me to put him to sleep but he wasn't in obvious pain so I couldn't bring do it because if I was in his shoes, I wouldn't want to be assisted in my passage. On his last day, he was clearly struggling and I was distraught at the thought of his passage. As I was struggling with difficult thoughts about the sanctity of life, how one should transition to death, whether another ultrasound or an operation would help....all the thoughts one would have about a human being,
he indicated that it was his time to go and went peacefully. My father passed away a few months ago and the same life/death decisions had to be made. I'm glad that God and Rudy removed that cup from me and allowed Rudy to transition on his own terms. 

I poured my love for Rudy in a blog post, entitled, For the Love of a Pissy Cat, about a year ago. We can experience God's love in many ways but the love received from a pet is probably the best way to experience God's unconditional love. Speaking of love, my wonderful husband, for the past 11 years, has been living with a cat that exacerbates his allergies. Thank you, my honey bunny! He found this wonderful prayer that we prayed to thank Rudy for his love and bless him on his new journey. 


By Diana Macalintal, Saying Goodbye to a Dying Pet 


In the name of God the Father,
who created you and all the animals,
in the name of Jesus the Son,
who spoke of you in parables and stories,
in the name of the Holy Spirit,
in whom every creature lives, moves, and has their being,
go now in peace, dear friend.
May you find rest near refreshing waters,
may you lie in cool, green pastures,
and may you warm yourself under the sun that never sets.
You have been my constant companion,
my shadow and confidante,
my comfort and playmate.
You filled my days with life and brought me endless joy.
For this I give thanks to God who gave you to me.
Now return to your Maker who eagerly waits for you
as you waited for me at the end of each day.
In the Father’s arms, let there be no more pain.
Let there be no more suffering.
Let there be only light as it was on the day God created you.

For our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Blessed be the name of the Lord, now and forever. Amen.

Rudy brought us great joy for over 14 years. He was a member of the family in every way that counts. We all gathered around him to pray and say our goodbyes. We planted some flowers in his honor and wished his soul a safe, peaceful and happy passage to its next station. 

From Chrysalis to Butterfly - the Wonders of Nature

The cycle of life is amazing! Just look at the awesome transformation of the Monarch butterfly.
Our Monarch butterfly in Chrysalis form.


The transformation.



Our beautiful butterfly.




Releasing the butterfly back to nature

This was a beautiful experience for us and the kids. Nothing compares to the wonders of nature!

Honoring Whitney Houston's Memory - The Greatest Love of All is Inside us to Live & to Give

As I listened to the Whitney Houston "Home Going Service" today, I was struck by the wealth of love and support in the church.  I wondered if she knew how much she was loved. I wondered how many attending the funeral called her on a regular basis to say, "I love you, I am thinking of you, I am praying for you or how can I help you.  Sometimes, we just assume that our friends and family members will reach out for help if they need it. If a friend has a good job and a nice house, we assume that they have a great life. We measure happiness by beauty, money and fame.
 

The truth is that many of our family members and friends, who on the outside may seem to have it all, may be feeling lonely, insecure or hurt on the inside, and dealing with mental and physical circumstances that we don't know about.  A recent report stated that the number of Americans using illegal drugs reached 22.6 million, or 8.9 percent of the population, in 2010, and more people  now abuse Prescription drugs than illegal drugs. We may not have known Ms. Houston personally, but it is very likely that we have a friend, family member or co-worker within these numbers.   We may not be able to bring about world peace or end world hunger, but we can be heroes in our own lives and in the lives of the ones that we love. Let us do more than just spend a few hours watching the funeral, shedding a few tears and then moving on without change. Here are a few things that we can do today.

  1. Make time for the ones that you love. Call or visit, Facebook and Twitter updates are not enough; sometimes a friend needs to feel and experience the love.
  2. When you say "how are you?", wait for an answer and then look the person in the eye, you may be surprised at what you hear.
  3. Offer love and support and follow up with concrete action. Sometimes waiting for someone to ask for support just places an additional burden on someone who is already burdened by personal problems. 
  4. Let go of the stigma associated with mental illness by talking about it openly and giving others the freedom to discuss it openly with you.
  5. Let go of the stigma associated with receiving counseling or other mental health treatment. Our mind is just as important as our body and if we can get a yearly physical for the body, there is nothing wrong with getting a yearly physical for the mind.
  6. Find a positive crutch. A few years ago, someone told me the bible was a crutch. At some point in our lives, we all need a crutch to help us handle the stress of life but we need to choose wisely. Instead of drugs, alcohol or over-eating, we can choose exercise, meditation, a favorite bible verse, or counseling.
  7. Ask yourself this question - If your friend or loved one died, would you find the time and money to attend their funeral? If so, you now have the time and money to visit them and lend a helping hand.
  8. Honor your mind and your body by taking care of both. The greatest love of all is inside of us all, we just have to believe it and live it.

Rest in peace, Ms. Houston. It would be great to see this list grow to at least 100 positive ways to honor the life of Ms. Houston. Add your positive, non-judgmental suggestions to the list and pass it on.

25 Instructional Bible Verses for Children and Parents

The Bible

is a fantastic teacher! As good parents, whether we consider ourselves religious, spiritual or even a non-believer, we all have common values that we want to share with our children. The principles of love, obedience, patience,   kindness, forgiveness and peace are all covered in beautiful poetic language. I get excited when I am in a stressful situation and the perfect bible verse comes to mind. Wouldn't it be great if our children could find that internal resource in good and bad times? 

Here are a few of the verses that I learned as a child, which have sustained me into adulthood. Although children may pretend that they are not listening, they remember the words and values that we share with them. We can share them at bed-time, in the car on the way to school or just in daily casual conversation.  

Lesson: Instruction/Obedience

  • Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6  
  • “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother” Proverbs 1:8
  • Honour thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the lord thy God giveth thee.

Lesson: Character/Optimism

  • Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8
  • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

Lesson: Charity

  • Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over. Luke 6:38

Lesson: Faith/Optimism/Strength

  • Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Matthew 7:7
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phillippians 4:13.

Lesson: Faith/God's Plan

  • For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
  • “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believe, you will receive." Matthew 21:22
  • Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Lesson: God's promise/Love

  • For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38 - 39

Lesson: Character/Reverence

  • Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Lesson: Protection

  •   Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 
  •   No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper. Isaiah 54:17

Lesson: Love

  • Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor. 13: 4 - 13.
  • Jesus replied: ”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37-39

Lesson: Respect of person

  • “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Lesson: Patience/Temperament

  • To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1
  • “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath." James 1:19-20

Lesson: Forgiveness

  •   For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
  •   Judge not that he not be judged. Matthew 7:1

Lesson: Honesty

  •   Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
  •   Thou shall no steal.

Lesson: Peace

  • "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."John 14:27

I hope that you and your family find these

passages of scripture

helpful and that you add your own favorite passages in the comments below and in your daily discussions with your children.