Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What I Made Wednesday {Family Advent Tree}

The days leading up to Christmas can be a difficult wait of anticipation build-up and I can't imagine what the kids are going through. So why not have the days pass quicker with an Advent Tree filled with surprises and activities for the whole family? My ideas and activities have been more creative in past years but with Hubby so busy lately, I had to come up with activities during the week that didn't take a lot of time since his schedule is so unpredictable Monday through Friday. But, you make adjustments, you enjoy the build-up of the season, and you consciously spend time together as a family. I say take it when and how you can get it!

What You'll Need
Scrapbook paper (winter themed if you prefer)
Twiggy branches
Holding container
Spray paint

What You'll Do
This is so easy, peasey. Take your cut branches and spray paint them your preferred color. I chose black because it's what I had on hand, but I would have preferred white. I think the white would have made the branches have more of an "magic-ability" quotient.

Come up with 24 fun family activities that you'd like to do together each day leading up to Christmas. WARNING - Hubby, if you are reading this STOP NOW! Keep in mind your own family's time constraints and limitations during the week. Here's a list of what we'll be doing (simple and cheap):

1- Welcome December with George Winston’s December CD

2- National Fritters Day and The Nutcracker Tonight

3- Light the Advent Wreath

4- Santa Letters from each of us

5- Happy Birthday, Walt Disney – let’s watch a movie!

6- Mitten Tree Day – let’s make garland

7- National Cotton Candy Day – dessert anyone?

8- Make a prayer list for those who need a boost

9- Make the popcorn! It’s a Wonderful Life

10- Light the Advent Wreath & A Christmas Concert

11- Making Citrus Pomanders – sweet smelling!

12- X-mas shopping for others expecting nothing in return

13- National Cocoa Day and sledding

14- Appetizer Dinner Party just for us

15- Gingerbread House under construction

16- White Christmas flick

17- Light the Advent Wreath

18- Feed the birds – bird fest

19- Wrap-fest & roll sword fight

20- Grinch Day – read it, watch it

21- Hanukkah Lesson – Learn the Dreidel Game?

22- Shortest Day of the year – light the Yule log, make a fire

23- Decorate the Outside Tree with our handmade ornaments

24- Twas the Night Before Christmas reading and Light the Advent Wreath

If you need to, cut your scrapbook paper down to size so it will fit into your printer and print your activities on the plain side of the paper. Go back to your document and replace each typed activity with the date (1-24) and re-run the same paper through the printer on the printed side for the numbers.
Cut each activity into strips, wrap each strip into a ring so the ends overlap and staple the ends.

What You Need to Know to Finish
Fill your container holder with rice, stuff the branches into the rice, decorate your branches with the rings, and embellish the tree to your liking. Enjoy and have fun these next 24 days!

My son will begin his own Star Wars LEGO Advent! So super exciting! Do you have any kind of Advent calendar?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Where Hearts are Shared

I was contemplating on the blog posts I have written and the blog posts I have read and I can say I have a genuine connection to each blogger (if I didn't, I wouldn't be a returning reader). And, after all, isn't that the beauty of this blogosphere? It connects people with similar passions, similar interests, similar hearts.

Whenever I have shared a piece of my heart through keyboard tappity-taps, the words on the screen seem to always touch the heart of someone else out there, perhaps a kindred spirit. Yet, I know the words of my posts are not from me alone. I listen, I type, and the words come out on to the screen. Although I know I am typing my own story, I know the sharing of the story will resonate with so many, touching hearts that need those exact words at exactly the right moment.

Thank you for allowing me to use this tiny piece of internet real estate to reach out and share some thoughts and time with you each day. The fact you keep returning is quite humbling and words cannot convey properly the love I feel from your presence. Blogging gives bright, creative women a voice and a platform to share that voice with the world.

 I contemplate each post with an open heart. I write each post sharing my thoughts, my dreams, and my world with you. The connections we make through this bloggy world are so widespread, so outreaching, so vast, how could it be anything but from Above?

Thank you for being here.

Here are some shared posts that have touched so many hearts:

The Discovery of You
Accepting Your Journey
My Happiness. My Responsibility.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gratitude Journal Monday

You'll see these Sweet Gum tree "spikies" again in a future craft!

 It's Monday, dear friends, and it's time for Gratitude Journal Monday. If you don't know why today is exciting, then click here. I was watching the Dr. Oz Show the other day and he had this happiness guru, Andrew Weil, on as a guest talking about his 4-week Plan to Happiness. Now, I have to say I'm not a huge Dr. Oz fan. In fact, I think he's in cahoots with the vitamin/supplement companies because if I followed his advice, then I'd be taking 20 different all-natural horse pills per day (have you ever seen the size of Fish Oil supplements? Sorry, I digress).

Anyway, Mr. Weil's 4-week plan includes exactly what we do here, every Monday! Expressing gratitude is an attitude game changer and it's what I've been saying all along. If you want to get out of your funk, then start writing down your thankful and grateful thoughts. I'll buy into the gratitude part, Dr. Oz, but the supplements? Well, maybe the one that helps with memory? Isn't it ginkgo? Oh, I can't remember.

101. I'm thankful for a strong back that hauled a ton of Christmas decorations up from the basement.

102. I'm grateful for my neighbor's Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe that I can't wait to share with you all - you won't believe how yummy it is!

103. I'm grateful for my son's own vision for his future and how he's determined not to veer off-track.

104. I'm grateful for the conversations I hear in the family room as hubby explains checkers' moves and strategies to our son - I wish you could hear their exchanges, heart-warming.

105. I am grateful for digital cameras because it has made this non-photographer momarazzi capture some great pics over the years without knowing much about the art.

I hope you sit back today and contemplate a bit on some gratitude of your own. Trust me, you'll be doing yourself, your spirit, and your soul a favor! Start here, by leaving a gratitude comment.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Goodbye Week. Hello Weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 22.

Goodbye cup running over with gratitude for family and friends.
Goodbye fantastic and delicious Thanksgiving meal, all made by my parents (best stuffing ever, mom).
Goodbye turkey-induced, tryptophanic, serotonin-released 2-hour nap after Thanksgiving dinner - yawn!
Goodbye The Muppets movie with school friends filling the entire theater!
Goodbye unusually warm weather before temps drop and the ground is covered in white (we'll get in a few hikes).

Hello Christmas decoration boxes scattered all over the house just waiting to be opened.
Hello declaring most of the next days Pajama Days with lots of snuggle sessions.
Hello hot chocolate breaks from decking our halls.
Hello Thanksgiving leftovers for lunch and gladly finishing off the leftover pie.
Hello gathered Sweet Gum Tree "spikies" - I have big craft plans for you I can't wait to share.

This week I learned realization from contemplation is a powerful gift to which I am thankful. I'm grateful for the following self-discoveries:
1) All I have really is all I need.
2) Health is the most important wealth.
3) Love is the origin for everything. When that isn't the case, do what it takes to make it so.

The scene outside a Best Buy (back of building) last night as we were heading home from my parents' house, about 10:30 PM.

So, are you a Black Friday shopper or not?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving

I am so super giddy about Thanksgiving this year. My heart races just thinking about the next days ahead: no driving back and forth and forth and back to and from school, no extra-curriculars, lots of relaxation and fun family times, and Christmas decorations emerging from their basement slumber finding their proper place in every nook and cranny of our holiday home!

I wish you and your family all the blessings and comforts this season of gratitude brings, today and everyday. Happy Thanksgiving!
Lilana Slater via from Pinterest

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What I Made Wednesday {Thanksgiving Home Decor}

 Our home has been in the spirit of Thanksgiving since the Halloween ghosts, witches, and goblins retired into their storage containers for another year's rest, replaced with turkeys and all-things autumnal. I photographed the seasonal areas of my home decked out with decoration; some I bought, some I made, but I did not spend one penny this year Hubby are you reading this?

Whether I'm in a Pier One Imports or not, holiday decor is "speaking to me" all the time, as the commercial suggests. While paper mache'd pilgrims and wire cornucopias vie for my attention and my wallet, I found a new strength against all the tempting trinkets this year. I've accumulated enough "stuff" over the years that the only new holiday decor additions this year included handmade items like the Fall Paint Chip Bunting (I took out the Halloween pennants) and Thanksgiving Framed Rock Art.

I'm so happy to share my Thanksgiving decor with you. I think my favorite item is the real deer antlers. Did you see them?

Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving decoration?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Tale of Two Giveaways

The tale has been told before; we're all too familiar with the premise. One is of victory, the other a tragedy. Yet, both stories have wisdom to offer the reader, at least those of us who want to be fed it...

There I sat yesterday afternoon assuming the all too familiar position: laptop atop my lap, legs crossed ankle over ankle stretched across a perfectly sized miniature version of a sofa we call a loveseat; positioned tangentially in front of my bay window to the world as it streamed sunshine through the glass, confused as to how brightly it wanted to penetrate the room.

The strange whir of the mail truck stopped suddenly outside my home. Normally, I would be excited about this sudden cessation of putter but I knew my husband was expecting a package consisting of a not-so-exciting computer battery thing-a-majig so I continued my own puttering amidst the keyboard keys without skipping a beat. The heavy thump of a package being plopped down on our front porch signaled Hubby to come bounding down the stairs. He opened the door, noticed it was not his much anticipated package, and responded with, "Are you expecting a package? It smells"

Take a look at that coffee bean t-shirt - love it!
 My mind raced, my fingers stalled, I remembered. My wonderful blog friend Michele had a giveaway on her blog recently at The Great Read and I had WON!!! I held the package in my hands and started fingernail scraping the tape right off, ending it's love affair with the cardboard. As I broke their union the sweet smell of coffee aroma wafted into my nostrils. I opened the box and found a mother load of goodies that just simply made my day. That is a giveaway with a happy ending.

I have, still, another tale to tell; one of tragedy and despair. My latest giveaway didn't go so well and, to be completely honest, it was doomed from the start. I posted a Going Local article, click here to read it, and was thrilled to hear the owners of the shop were willing to donate a little something from their shop as a giveaway prize to one of my lucky readers. I was so excited when I went to go pick-up their offer as I was convinced it would be one of their gourds they are so famous for selling.

I arrived and was generously,mind you, given the pillow you see in this post, click here. The minute I received the pillow it was like a heavy burden of an orphan's caretaker to whom I could not find a home. I figured beggars can't be choosers but in my heart I knew my readers well enough to know that none would probably want such a pillow, or for that matter, could live up to the pillow's phrase or if you could, wouldn't want to admit it. I'm about as Pollyanna as it gets and I have a pretty good sense of humor but when I wouldn't want the prize myself, then re-evaluation is in order. Not one entry for this pillow was cast not for lack of readers and so, it will find its way back to the shop from which it came. I appreciate the store's generosity but it just didn't resonate with LOVD readers, tongue in cheek or not. My apologies, dear readers. From now on, if I don't find the item a bit painful to give away, wishing I could keep it for myself, then it won't be part of a LOVD giveaway. My heart will, from now on, be the judge and I hope you continue to participate in future fun.

Handmade mugs by Jewel Pottery
Summit Coffee

Dear readers, do you accept my apology?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gratitude Journal Monday

I took this photo at Michigan's Greenfield Village.

How fitting that on the very week where gratitude is spewing out of every one's pores due to the Thanksgiving holiday, I get to declare my 100th entry in my own Gratitude Journal. It's certainly a celebration and I'm so happy you come by and visit me every Monday, sharing in my thankful thoughts and taking time to stop and think of your own. Need further explanation of a Gratitude Journal, simply click here.

96. I am grateful for all who stop by for a visit at this little blog of mine and my hope is that you leave inspired and hopeful for the rest of your day.

97. I am grateful to have been blessed with so many ideas and topics for this platform and for the positive affects my words and photos have on so many people's days - to God be all the Glory.

98. I am thankful for the discipline gifted from above to have blogged Monday through Friday, every week, without missing a beat since this blog's inception on June 26, 2011.

99. I am grateful my family is nearby so we may easily share these special holidays together without any fuss of traveling far.

100. I am grateful for all you wonderful cooks and hosts out there who open your homes to your family and friends from near and far, some annoying and some not, for the sake of tradition in giving thanks for so many blessings.

Where will you be spending your Thanksgiving? With family, friends, or both?

Just a little reminder, you have until end of today to leave a comment for entry in LOVD's latest giveaway.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Goodbye Week. Hello Weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 21.

Goodbye sheer bliss and excitement from winning The Great Read's giveaway.
Goodbye sharing Grandparents' Day and bridging the generational gap with iPads, bagels, muffins, and games.
Goodbye the last of crispy leaves holding on by a single thread awaiting their release by the the wind's one gust of breath.
Goodbye orchestra field trip where the kids looked all dapper and divine.
Goodbye way too many luncheons with friends, not enough work done, and absolutely no regrets because of it.

Hello new ideas floating around in our little future director's head.
Hello playdate that just doesn't happen often enough if you ask them.
Hello dipping temperatures and rising flames in the fireplace.
Hello good times spent with a friend we just don't see often enough.
Hello new adventures for Regis - best of luck!

Attaboy, Nordstrom's

Thanks to a sign in front of Nordstrom's, I learned that we just have to slow down the holiday season. In the name of commerce we're rushing Thanksgiving like it was the unwanted stepchild of the holiday season, the thorn in our side we have to endure to get to what we really want to celebrate. I stand with Nordstrom's and say, "NO!" I love that they are taking a conscience stand to not decorate for Christmas until AFTER Thanksgiving. It helps to put our thoughts of gratitude at the forefront before fighting the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, decorating, and baking and fighting to keep the true reason for the season in our minds. Slow it down and savor the joy of Thanksgiving; Christmas can just hold tight a little while longer.

What is your take on stores decorating for Christmas right after Halloween? Approve or not?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A-B-C: Get To Know Me

Beautiful, wonderful readers: you guys rock and I just don't think I thank you enough for stopping by here as often as you do, so, THANK YOU! Your presence is what keeps my fingers tapping on the keyboard everyday. I want to get to know you better so I thought I'd make-up this silly A-B-C game to get to know me better. I'd love it if you'd share some "letters" with me, too!

Image from The Christmas ABC: Eloise Wilkin ~ Golden Press, 1962

Animal: owl
Book: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Color: brown
Diet: omnivore
Exercise: walking
Food: anything pasta
God: Absolutely! No question.
Height: 5 feet, 6 inches, with hair poofed
Indulgence: hot bubble baths and chocolate (not at the same time)
Job: retired rocket scientist turned never-at-home-stay-at-home mom, blogger, jewelry-maker
Kindred Spirit: Lily Munster
Love: hubby of soon-to-be 15 years
Marriage: May 18, 1997
Number: 18
Off-spring: one awesome son
Parent: two lovely people who immigrated to the United States back in the 1960's; they are an example of true love
Quirks: a bit OCD, moody at times, indecisive
Restaurant: Red Lobster and ZOUP!
Style: laid-back colonial with a touch of whimsy and surprise
Tunes: Michael Buble, Norah Jones, Green Day, Gin Blossoms
Uplifts: cooking, baking, hiking, writing, creating
Vacation: what's that?
Weight: 130ish on a good day, in the AM
X-factor: kind heart, loyal, long neck
Years: enough to know better, but not enough to know it all
Zodiac: Aries

Now it's your turn...want to play? I'd love to know more about you, too! Even if you just answer the letters in your name, I would love it!! Try the list on your family. Remember, you can interpret the prompts any way you like. For instance, when I asked hubby to answer for "Exercise" he answered, "seldom". When my son answered for "Love", he responded, "God".

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What I Made Wednesday {Veggie-Egg Cups To-Go}

We've all been there; dragging the kids out of bed, while trying to get ourselves presentable for the bus stop or car pool line. The hustle and bustle of the morning grind can pretty much come to a halt if there isn't time for breakfast. As commander of your ship it's your duty to make sure those tiny tummies are heading out the door to conquer their days, with stomachs filled with goodness where even the surgeon general would be proud! So, put.down. the.POP.Tart. Don't go for easy, go for convenient but good.

What You'll Need
10 oz. package of frozen spinach
1/4 cup chopped onions
3/4 cup shredded cheese like cheddar, provolone, or Swiss
3/4 cup liquid egg substitute
1/4 cup green pepper or mushrooms, chopped and optional
1 tablespoon butter
dash of hot sauce, optional
salt and pepper, to taste
non-stick cooking spray, like Pam
cupcake liners
muffin tin

What You'll Do
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Thaw and drain frozen spinach using a microwave, follow package instructions. Line muffin tin with liners and spray each with non-stick cooking spray. Saute onions, green pepper, or mushrooms in a tablespoon of butter just until they start to sweat. Combine egg substitute, cheese, and all vegetables including spinach. Season and add hot sauce to taste. Divide evenly into muffin tin, but don't overfill. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, until a knife inserted comes out clean.

What You'll Need to Know to Finish 
When you make these baby bundles of protein, freeze them and nuke them in the morning (about 25-30 seconds depending on your microwave) wrapped in a paper towel. Wait until the Veggie Cups cool completely before freezing. No excuses for good-eats starts to our kiddos' days!

What are your tricks to making breakfasts good, fast, and portable for your kids when the mornings get crazy-busy?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A LOVD {Giveaway}: Chagrin Valley Antiques

The generous owners of Chagrin Valley Antiques, Tom and Diana Colucci, were so tickled with the "Going Local" post I wrote on their establishment, they wanted to offer this fantastic, and hilarious, Folk Art pillow ($30 value) to a lovely LOVD reader! If you missed it, you can catch that post by clicking here. I was just at the shop to pick-up their giveaway offer and I was floored by all the beautiful holiday decoration decking the halls of Chagrin Valley Antiques. Be sure to get yourself in the holiday spirit by visiting their holiday wonderland before the snow falls and sticks!

Win this American Folk Art pillow! Rick rack trim, embroidered words, USA-made.

There are 2 different ways to enter - rules are simple this time around. All you have to do is leave a comment indicating where you'll be for Thanksgiving. Also, for extra entry, Follow Me and leave a comment saying you already are a Follower or you've just become one! Each comment will be considered as an entry. You have until Monday, November 21, noon, to leave your comments for entry.

Not sure how to leave a comment if you don't blog? No prob.
a. Click "Comment" at the end of this post
b. Type your comment in the "Leave your comment" box
c. Enter the word verification
d. Choose "Name/URL" as your identity if you don't know what the other choices are
e. Just put your name (or what you want to go by) in the Name Field
f. Don't have to put anything in the URL field - when the winner is picked, they'll have to claim the prize by e-mailing me by the following Monday
g. Then click "Publish your comment"

Not sure where the FOLLOWER button is? Click refresh and look to the right column where it says Join This Site.

Giveaway is for USA and Canadian residents for free shipping. International readers are welcome to leave entries, but you'll be responsible for shipping charges. You must check back on Tuesday, November 22 for the winner announcement. Winner must privately e-mail me their home address within a 48-hour period from time of announcement to claim their prize or another entry will be chosen.

Thanks for participating and good luck!

So, where will you be for Thanksgiving this year?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gratitude Journal Monday

Monday can come by so fast sometimes. It's time to let go of the weekend and begin this new week with the right heart and mind. I can't believe I'm almost up to 100 entries in my Gratitude Journal! How are you doing? If you'd like to know more about how to start one yourself and the benefits of why you really, really want to, click here.

91.Thank you to all the men and women who have served and sacrificed to keep this country I love free, for generations before, for me and my family, and generations after.

92. I am grateful for the wonders of medicine advancement at our very own Cleveland Clinic who are going to fix my brother-in-law's lungs and make him ALL better!

93. I am grateful for our community's most precious resource, the library, and blogs like The Great Read who advocate for this gem of a place.

94. After watching Waiting for Superman and The Cartel, I thank God every single day that I have a choice in my child's education and the means to support that choice.

95. I am grateful for my mom because she has taught me, amongst so many other things, that acceptance with grace is the only kind of acceptance.

November is the month where gratitude is at the forefront of people's minds. For whom are you thankful and why? Leave a comment.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Goodbye Week. Hello Weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 20.

Goodbye light homework week to which we took full advantage.
Goodbye sharing and showing with others.
Goodbye Veteran's Day today; thank you for serving.
Goodbye first snow fall of the season; you were very kind.
Goodbye surprise phone call forcing us to take a second look.

Hello contemplation.
Hello to wisdom prevailing.
Hello listening for answers.
Hello being led by a Higher power.
Hello accepting His direction.

This week I learned being busy is not an excuse to say no to seeing family, friends, or even spending time with God. You have to make time for those you love. Being busy will never go away, but time with our loved ones is limited.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Love Has No Expiration Date

My son found this rock. He turned to me and said, "Here mom. I give you my heart." I'll cherish it forever.
As I sit in my cozy chair in my fluffed up nest of a master bedroom I look around and see things, things, and more things. I am surrounded by tangibles, many of which hold intangible residence in my heart. But finding comfort or joy in such objects is fleeting because it is love and only love that spans each generation.

The chair that envelops my tired bones, the home where I find comfort, the computer that is my voice to the world, it will all be gone one day. So, what withstands the test of time, what never dies? Love. Long after hubby and I roam this life together our love will be talked about and felt through our child's love for others, either by actions or words. It's a perpetual gift.

And the best part is that love is transferable. My grandfather died long before we were blessed with the birth of our son. Yet, my son loves his great grandfather even though he has never met him on this Earth. Why? Because my son hears my stories of my grandfather, he recognizes my love and adoration for my grandfather. My son loves his great grandfather simply because I loved him. And, that love will continue on and on and on. 

Love has no expiration date. Love is transferable. It takes love to continue love and it is never-ending as long as love is fed love. Never underestimate love's unyielding desire to live and to grow. 

How will your love live beyond your roaming years?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What I Made Wednesday {Thanksgiving Framed Rock Art}

Give Thanks

Stop me if you've seen this before. If you think you're having deja vu, you'd be half right (those memory vitamins are working). But, this is the Thanksgiving version of that wonderful Halloween craft my son and I did after gathering rocks by the river.  
Click here for instructions.  

You'll recall I don't have much space in my home so I need crafts that can do double, even triple, duty. I came up with this framed art piece where I sprayed it with magnetic paint and chalkboard paint. I attached magnets to the rocks my son painted and, voila!, interchangeable craft for any holiday season.

What You'll Need
Click here to view the original craft instructions.
For the turkey you'll also need: googly eyes and feathers, watercolor paint, hair dryer

What You'll Do
Click here to view the original craft instructions.
We only had white feathers for the turkey so we took watercolor paints and brushed each feather red, orange, and yellow. Before the feather dries, take a hair dryer and blow the feathers dry and fluffy.

What You'll Need to Know to Finish
Click here to view the original craft instructions.
We haven't had a chance yet, but be sure to add chalk drawings around your rocks to make it more effective.

If you've got a craft you'd like to share, please leave a comment with your craft or recipe link. I'd love to see what you're doing for the Thanksgiving holiday!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Lesson our Kids Cannot 'Afford' to Miss

This post was underwritten by BMO Harris Bank, which offers a matching $25 on a new savings account opened for your child through their Helpful Steps for Parents program. Learn more at

Clink! Clink!  Are your kids familiar with the sound of coins dropping one by one into the mystical darkness of their piggy bank? Are they excited to plop each coin through the tiny sliver opening atop their stoic-faced ceramic swine? Before you think you smell the scent of bacon wafting in the air, let's honestly talk about the important 'talk' we need to have with our kids: money (probably not what you were thinking, but less scary than the alternative topic).

Think about how you can start incorporating these simple concepts to your own daily teachable moments with your kids.

1. Give Reasons. We've all been there. We're at our local checkout line, kids are in tow gazing at the candy stacks. It's only minutes after lunch and hours before dinner. "I'm huuunnngggry. Can't we buy a snack?" We respond with the fail-safe, "We can't afford." The scene could easily be down the toy aisle. As easy and as effective as it is to say, "We can't afford it", it invariably is probably not really the case. It's not that you can't afford a 90-cent candy bar, it's that you CHOOSE not to buy it. Next time try giving reasons as to why you CHOOSE not to buy what they are requesting. For instance, "We won't buy that new toy because we could use the same amount of money to buy half a week's of groceries, instead." It's important kids understand there are choices to how we use our money.

2. Teach Truths. It's equally important to teach children about 'real profit'. How many of us have proudly complied to our child's request to open a lemonade stand? But, what happens when all the lemonade is gone? This is a prime opportunity to teach our children about the money terms 'gross' and 'net' profit. Each time our son opened his own lemonade stand, he counted up his money afterwards, proud of his daily take-ins. Before he was smiling all the way to the bank, we asked him a few questions. How much did the cups cost (packaging)? A bit of money is taken from the pot. How much did the lemonade mix cost (materials)? How much were the huge signs you used (marketing)? Did anyone help you sell the lemonade (labor)? We take from the pile of funds each time. There! Now, this is what you made from your lemonade stand. Our son is an expert in understanding 'net' profit and the cost of doing business.

3. Allow wants. Having wants means we have goals so use this desire to promote good traits like patience, appreciation, and learning to save. Explain to your children that they can have the toy they so desire if they save for it. This way of thinking completely changes a child's perspective of their want. First, they are forced to decide whether their desire is worth saving for or is it just a purchase on a whim. Second, if they decide it is worth it, they can watch their money grow as they save for what they want. And finally, once they have saved enough money over time, they can re-evaluate their want to really see if that desire is still strong. Their patience and delayed gratification is truly a lesson that will serve them well.

Click here to check out this great craft to help your child learn about saving, spending, and giving in a fun way and where they get to decide how to allocate their cash.

I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. To learn more about BMO Harris Bank, visit their website

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gratitude Journal Monday

Seriously, what's up with all the mushrooms in my garden beds? They still make for a great photo.

"Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." - (Romans 12:2)
Your eyes are awake today. You are reading this blog. In those simple statements there are at least two declarations of gratitude, maybe even three, or more if you dig a little deeper? I began my Gratitude Journal several months ago and if you'd like to learn more about the details, click here. Maybe you're a devoted reader or maybe you stumbled upon this blog by sheer accident? Either way, you are here, reading this right now, for a reason. Even if you take a moment to merely think about a few reasons to be grateful, you have taken the first step in changing the way you think.
"Becoming the best version of yourself, then, rests on one simple directive: Think great thoughts! People who live great lives are people who habitually think great thoughts. " - John Ortberg from The Me I Want to Be: becoming God's best version of you
86. I am grateful for weekends with no obligations, no place to go, nowhere to be.
87. I am grateful for gentle nudges from above showing me my next steps.
88. I am grateful my son still wants to do silly crafts with me.
89. I am grateful I never threw out the glider from the nursery after it was no longer needed. It may not be a fashionable piece of furniture in the loft but, man, is it comfortable. Nothing beats its smooth, effortless back and forth motions as I type this post.
90. I am grateful for my neighbor's kindness as hubby and I raked the leaves. I borrowed a pretty nifty human-powered leaf sweeper - brilliant design and fun to use.

Are you guilty of 'stinking thinking'?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Goodbye Week. Hello Weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 19.

Goodbye door-to-door trek ending up with more treats than tricks.
Goodbye laughs and giggles during a precious lunch with my grandmother.
Goodbye choosing fast food for dinner way too many times.
Goodbye gladly sharing of my time helping children and feeling like I'm making a difference.
Goodbye beautiful week filled with blessings, hope, and promise.

Hello switcheroo in holiday decorations in and around our home.
Hello try, try agains for what we really want.
Hello LEGO Fest passing through town and luring addicts from all around.
Hello making time to be spent with best buds.
Hello extra one hour of sleep; thank you Daylight Savings.

This week I learned I should never miss an opportunity to take in nature's surroundings especially during this time of year, nature's showiest of seasons. I arrived early in a town where the post office opens an hour after my own. Instead of sitting in my car awaiting the doors to open, I took advantage of the town's beauty and took a walk, taking in my sweet surroundings and appreciating nature's autumn splendor. Little inconveniences can be big blessings for the soul. 

Can you think of a recent inconvenience that turned into a blessing?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Supporting, Not Living, Our Kid's Dreams

Our children are most precious in our lives. How many of us want to shield them from disappointment? How many of us want to share in their own victories? But both disappointment and victory are theirs, and theirs alone. It's difficult as a parent to step back and allow our children to be who they are, do things their own way, learn their own lessons. For their lives are not owned by us, the parents, but are really their own, to ultimately do with what they want. Our role is to guide, to support, not to live their lives as our own, but rather to help them live theirs.

He was between 3 and 4 years old when he first asked for the movie camera. My son was in kindergarten when he made his first full-feature DVD film. He was in second grade when he filmed his first documentary and both DVD's were placed in the school's library collection due to student demand. The summer of 2010, my son (and many friends as actors) began work on a movie production of a silent film version of the fable The Magic Fish. Ten months and over 120 hours later my son went to his own movie premiere held at the local community center, opening to a house of over 80 people who paid admission (and half as many purchasing the DVD for their private collection). My son prefers his work to be behind the camera as his passion is film directing.

Seeing as hubby and I are not in the business of show business, how to go about supporting such a budding passion without it becoming our own new career? Here's some things I've learned over the years.

1. We say "yes". When our son asked for the video camera before he was even 4 years old, we said "OK", feeding his curiosity.
2. We make sure our son ALWAYS makes the final decisions regarding his creations. We make suggestions sometimes so he can hear other perspectives, but ultimately it is his decision and we respect it.
3. We can only offer our support. It's hard at times but we have to insure that the work is our son's. We must remind ourselves this is our son's dream, not our own. We'll take him to shooting locations, we'll help him scout out locations, but the work and the drive MUST be his. If or when that stops being the case, we won't push, we'll back off. It doesn't mean it stopped being a passion. It's OK to take a break and see if the passion resurfaces.
4. As a supporter it is our job to find creative ways to feed the passion. My son is still young but he's had this dream of becoming a movie director since he was 3 years old. He doesn't have the knowledge as to how he can feed his passion, but we do. Be creative. For our son, the best film school he can possibly experience right now is watching old, classic movies.
5. We try hard to not allow our child's passion to become our own. Sometimes parents are still pushing the train out of the station but what they don't realize is the train has changed into a plane! We don't get so engrossed in our child's passions that we lose sight of the fact that our child's interests can and will change. Be flexible, don't get disappointed, and remain aware.

Is our son the next George Lucas or Ron Howard? Who knows? My son has many interests and he is still a child. Supporting growth in all areas is what our job as parents is all about. When we can create an environment where our child can take the risks he wants to take in pursuit of his own passions, knowing we are right behind him no matter what happens, we have lived our own dream.

Our son has begun a blog encouraging kids his age to give some of those older movies a try. You can find his reviews and other stories by clicking here

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