I knew that on December 12, 1994 — the day you were born, that this day would come. Your graduation day. I have mentally tried to prepare myself for this day now for 18 years, and yet I find myself looking back over your life and crying happy tears.
Before I knew there was a God, I prayed to Him that He would send a little boy full of life and love — and guess what? He gave me exactly what I asked for. From the moment you were born, you have done nothing but be a blessing to everyone around you.
When you walk into a room, your smile and your personality brightens even the saddest of hearts. You have an amazing gift of making people smile. For me and your dad, you make us smile every single day. You are SO special, and I am glad that God blessed me as your mom.
Growing up, you have always been a great big brother to your sister. You never let anyone talk bad about her or pick on her. Kayla couldn’t have asked for a better friend. I watch other families as the brothers and sisters talk hateful to one another, and then I silently thank God for YOU and your heart of love towards family and sibling love.
I am truly honored and blessed that even as old as you are now, you are still not afraid to love on me and kiss me in public. That makes me blessed beyond any measure. You are proud of your love for me — and for that I am grateful.
You are surrounded by Godly men. I can tell that you have learned from them, you have listened to them, and that you have taken to heart everything that they have shared with you. Their lessons and teachings will take you far in life. Remember those as you continue to get older. They will help mold you into a more Godly man.
I am so glad that you have made some great friends at church. These friendships are important as you continue to grow into adulthood. Always treasure them. Treat your friends with love and respect always. I know you will.
And now — here’s the hard part. As your mom, it’s time for me to let go. You have now finished school. You have grown up into this amazing man that I am so honored to call my son. Your dad and I are SO very proud of the person you have grown into. You are definitely one of the BEST blessings I could have ever prayed for in my life.
Watching you grow up each and every day has been such a sweet honor, and now it is with love and joy that I get to step back and watch you soar as an adult. Always remember the truths that dad and I have shared with you. Those will take you far in life, but more than that — always let Jesus be your guide. He will never steer you wrong and will never leave your side.
Today is your day sweetheart. Enjoy in the fact that you are done and now — adulthood can really start.
Keep on keepin’ on. We love you immensely and always will!
We love you with an everlasting love!
Momma, Daddy, and Kayla
Not only does moving result in sore arms and sleepless nights filling boxes, it’s also a huge financial expense. When you’re moving long distances, you’re responsible for not only purchasing all your packing materials, but transporting all your items from one location to the next. It’s not cheap, but it doesn’t have to cost a small fortune either. Families can save big by employing some of these budget-friendly moving tips. Here are 7 money saving tips to help with your next big move.
1. Do it Yourself. Certainly it can’t all be done yourself, but if you strategize by doing the packing, organizing, and driving yourself, you’ll save big in the long run. You can even use some of the money you saved to invest in some portable moving containers, to ensure that everything arrives at once.
2. Give Yourself Enough Time. Lots of folks wait until the last minute to do their packing. Because time is essentially money, don’t take a week off of work to pack the week before you move. Instead, give yourself a month’s worth of evenings to slowly pack everything in your home. Plus, this will leave you with enough time to truly decide what should go and what should stay. Leading to our next tip…
3. Make Money While Moving. If you’ve employed our previously mentioned time strategy, then you’ll also have time to sell your unwanted items, instead of just donating or throwing them out. Because you’ve given yourself enough time, you’ll also have time to throw items up for sale on craigslist.com or have a garage sale. Who knows? This profit may actually cover the entire cost of your move, plus some.
4. Change Your Address. You don’t want to find yourself behind on bills, especially when they’re accruing nasty late payments or interest fees. Instead, change your address with the post office right away. This will ensure that any bills are waiting for you when you arrive and can be paid on time.
5. Donate Unwanted/Unsellable Items. Make sure to get receipts for everything you donate. These items can be claimed as tax deductions, which results in a better tax return. The money will be returned to you in one way or another, plus you will have done something nice for someone else. This may result in a karmic payback.
6. Get Your Refunds. If you’re leaving an apartment, you’re likely entitled to a refund of your security deposit. You’ll want to make that inquiry as soon as possible, so that your landlord knows to do a check once the apartment is vacated and you know what’s expected of you. Your utility companies may also owe you money. Let them know your shut off date and inquire as to whether or not this will result in a refund of payments or deposits made.
7. Check for Coupons. Finally, coupons are available for everything, not just groceries. Check your local newspaper and the Internet for discounts on moving supplies and services. Many sites offer coupon codes for a reduced price on services and goods. If you’re short on packing tape, employ a coupon before spending the full price.
I pride myself on being a happy person — really I do. There are not many days that go by that I am sad or disappointed or depressed. I am just basically happy. However, my life has not always been like there. There have been plenty of times in my past when I was completely riddled with sadness — to the point that I hated myself. So — how did I come out of that? What did I discover that made such a difference for me? Here is my list that I like to call the “Keys to Happiness”.
Put God First
In everything I do, God must come first. Now, for some — that may be a crutch, but for me — that is total life. God is my everything and He helps hold me together. I cannot tell you how much smoother my day goes when I have put spending time with Him above everything else in my day. I am more peaceful, joyous, and calmer when I have spent time talking to Him about my worries and struggles or needs.
Don’t Overload Yourself
This is one that I am currently working on. I have this thing where I think if I have any idle time in my day, I need to fill it with something. This is so not true. Doing this will cause you to get burned out super quick and your body will shut down eventually. You have to know when to say NO and stick to it. Don’t try to do everything yourself. If you don’t get to it or step up to take it over, it will eventually get done.
Take Time for Yourself
Anyone who says you must give of yourself all the time and never do anything special for you is a liar — just saying. Even Jesus drew away many times to rejuvenate himself, so if He did — guess that means I can too, right? If we constantly give of ourselves, but never do anything for ourselves that we love — we will eventually again, burnout, and not be of good use to anyone. Stop and take time to enjoy something you like — read a book, take a bath, go on a walk, go shopping, indulge in a Starbucks coffee — whatever it is, just do it.
Make Your Husband and Kids Your Main Ministry
Lately, I have been off track with this one. Pretty much everything else has been my ministry, and they just kind of have fallen by the roadside. The way the pecking order works ladies is that God is first, then your husband, then your kids – and everything else falls in line after that. Let your family KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that they are the most important thing to you besides God. Ladies groups, kids classes, taking meals to families are all great things, but if you are not doing those same things at home FIRST, then you need to rethink and regroup.
When I do the above 4 things for myself, I am a much more happier person. God’s joy grows inside of me when I am in align with His order for my life. It makes me a much more peaceful person — and can help you become that too.
What things help you to be a more happier person? Share them with me below.
There are 4 people in our house that take daily showers. Almost everyone of us are shower lingerers — you know the kind that takes a 30 minute shower. I will admit, I am the head honcho of that clan. I like my long, extremely hot showers better than anyone. That was until I got my $65 water bill, and almost had a heart attack. Since then, the family and I have worked together to find ways to reduce our shower time, and yet still make it enjoyable.
6 Tips to Reduce Your Shower Time and Still Make it Enjoyable
- Hot Water vs Warm Water: Running the water on extreme hot is not good for you for two reasons. 1) having the hot water makes you linger longer in the shower. I am the world’s worst about this because I am cold nature, so I stand under the water to get warm for at least 6-7 minutes before I even begin showering. 2) Extremely hot water is not good on your skin. It’s best to use a slightly warm water, or better yet, go cold if you can handle it. This way — you will speed your shower up to get done quickly.
- Washing your hair: If you are washing your hair, do this immediately when you get in the shower. Shampooing first, so you can then put the conditioner on. It can stay on your hair while you wash the rest of your body. Just don’t forget to wash it out when you are done (been there — done that a few times)
- Mood Music and Candles: Taking a shower while music is playing helps me mellow out and gets me in the right frame of mind. A shower is supposed to help wash away the day, so by playing the right music for yourself, and creating the right lighting with candles, you can really get yourself in shower mode. If you want to calm down, play something slow and languid; if you are prepping for a night on the town, put on an upbeat record and witness the power of music to transform your mood.
- Set a timer: For my son, I am definitely going to do this because he takes even longer showers than me! The minute you turn the water on, set the timer. When it goes off, you should be done so get out — don’t linger!
- Don’t Zone Out: If you have had a bad day or just a rough one, sometimes the place where we think about everything that transpired is in the shower. Don’t allow yourself to do that. Your shower is a time when you get to really unwind and just wash off the stresses of the day. Don’t go back over everything that happened. Wait until you have finished and gotten out and dressed before you actually do that.
- Enjoy the moment: The best thing that I can do for myself is enjoy the time when I am in the shower. You should do the same. Sing to yourself, pray, seek God — whatever it is that you want to do that will bring you enjoyment — just do it!
Spring Smells Can Also Bring Enjoyment
One thing that really brings me enjoyment when I take a shower is really good smelling body soap. Softsoap recently introduced two new scents for Springtime — Forever Springtime and Lemonade Berry Splash.
Both body washes are infused with fresh scents and moisture rich formulas to provide the body and mind with a much needed spring awakening. These two new variants are limited edition body washes and will be sold only at Walmart from now until May. They’re the perfect complement to the spring season.
My favorite of the two is the Lemonade Berry Splash. The smell is just so revitalizing. As soon as I step in the shower and I grab my body soap, I take in the scent and let it really awaken my senses.
If you want to really make your shower time more enjoyable, head to your local WalMart and grab a bottle of each of the new scents from Softsoap.
Which scent would you like to try?
I was sent product to review in exchange for my post. All opinions listed are my own.
Life has been pretty hectic in our home for the last few months. Robert turned 18 this past Christmas, Kayla will soon be 15, and Stephen and I are just plain busy with work. Let’s throw in our youth ministry and we have a pretty full schedule — all the time. So when we found out that we are going to be moving again, and I began packing boxes, the family spied all the board games that we had in the closet. We decided to start having a family game night again to help us slow down, and continue enjoying each other’s company. We miss that.
Since everyone is growing up and going their own separate ways most of the time, we decided that it was high time to slow the pace and create a family game night at least once a week. Here are a few tips on setting up your own game night for your family.
Make a Big Meal
Anytime we have family game night, we also make a big meal together. We get into the kitchen, which helps us to blow off the worries and stresses of the day. We pick something that is everyone’s favorite and we cook, laugh, tell stories – and just really make it a great time for all. We serve the big meal before we start playing, but we make sure that we make enough to munch on while we play games. Winning can definitely make you hungry
Turn off cell phones and the television
Because this world is so technology infused, when game night comes around, all electronics are turned off. We make sure NOT to purchase games that involve the television for that purpose — we turn everything off so that we can focus on family fun the old fashioned way!
Grab a new game
Once a month or so, we try to always find a new game. We recently got two new games in the mail to try out — Twister Rave Skip It and Twister Ringz. These are two of Hasbro’s newest games and, boy are they super fun! The colored lights immediately attracted my daughter — who loves all things neon.
Twister Rave Skip It
Skip-It® is back in 2013 with the all-new TWISTER RAVE Skip-It® game that will have players skipping as long as they can! The longer you go, the more you glow as multi-color LEDs reveal 20+ color levels as you play! Try to master TWISTER RAVE Skip-It® by getting the game to light up to reveal all four iconic TWISTER colors (red, blue, yellow and green). The fun never ends when you’re skipping your way to victory! (Requires 3 AAA batteries – not included).
Age: 6+; Players: 1; Available: Now at mass merchandise retailers nationwide; Approximate Retail Price: $19.99
Twister Rave Ringz
It’s all about the bling! This quick-action game challenges girls to twist, snap and clap to keep the beat to more than 20 different handclap games found online at PlayTwister.com. With each movement, the rings light up and change color. If you complete the handclap games in perfect sync, all rings in the game should start and finish on the same color! The TWISTER RAVE Ringz are perfect to bring along wherever your day takes you for impromptu gaming fun. Girls can check out online videos at PlayTwister.com to learn new skills and tricks! (2 electronic Ringz per pack; each ring requires 3 button cell batteries – demo batteries included).
Age: 8+; Players: 1-2; Available: Now at mass merchandise retailers nationwide; Approximate Retail Price: $7.99
Out of both games we received, my daughter’s favorite was the Rave Ringz. She and I sat and played hand games for over an hour the other day. It totally reminded me of my teenage years riding the bus with all my girlfriends, playing hand clapping games until it was my turn to get off. This truly is one of the coolest games ever.
To keep up with all the latest Hasbro news, “like” HasbroGameNight on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @hasbrogamenight.
Enter to win
One reader is going to win each of the Twister Rave games above.
To enter, leave a comment stating which of the 4 Twister Rave games you think you would like best (Hoopz, Ringz, Skip-It or Stickz).
You can get an extra entry if you Subscribe to Jen’s Journey Daily Emails (email must be verified for your entry to count). Then come back and leave a comment stating that you did so.
You can also gain one more extra entry by following me on Twitter @jennifer_sikora.
I will end this giveaway on 3/27 at 5 pm EST
Disclosure: I was given the Twister Rave games to facilitate my review. All opinions are 100% mine and not influenced in any way.
I never thought my almost 15 year old daughter would enjoy decorating Easter eggs, but when she puts her mind to an Easter photo shoot for my little chihuahua, she knows she has to have props. What Easter photo shoot would not be complete without colorful Easter eggs?
It was funny to me, because my daughter is just so different from a lot of the other girls her age. She still enjoys hanging out with me, loves to cook, and could care less about the latest and greatest fashion. She just enjoys life, but enjoys it in her own way. I truly love that about her.
She has lots of friends, but one really great best friend who has been through a lot with her. They have stuck together like glue and love being together.
As they decorated the Easter eggs, I thought to myself how blessed I am. My son turned 18 not too long ago, and looking back, neither of my kids have ever followed the pattern of being led by peer pressure. I think that has to do with the fact that they are homeschooled and know how to handle it. My kids have stayed out of trouble and have tried really hard to let God be their guide. It’s just a sweet blessing.
Our Easter egg decorating fun was filled with laughter and lots of colorful giggles! I have to give a shout out to Paas and Heinz Vinegar for making this day so special to Kayla and her bestie. This year PAAS has seven new decorating kits, including Volcano Eggsplosion, which uses melted crayon shavings to provide instant color, and Touch of Velvet, a kit that uses double stick adhesives and flocking powder to create fun, fuzzy shapes on your Easter creations.
How to Get Your Easter Eggs to Have Bright Colors
Kayla loves bright vibrant colors for her Easter Eggs, so we learned a tip while decorating them:
For the brightest, most vivid colors, add one tablet and three tablespoons of Heinz Distilled White Vinegar to a PAAS Color Cup or a one-cup container. Once the tablet has dissolved, add ½ cup water and stir gently. Also, to help keep hard-cooked eggs from cracking, add two tablespoons of Heinz Distilled White Vinegar per quart of water before placing the eggs in the pot. The shells will also peel off faster and easier when they’re done.
Decorate a Virtual Egg and Help Out Make a Wish Foundation
While we had tons of fun decorating the eggs for Kayla’s photo shoot, I was even more excited about the online virtual egg I can decorate at the Paas website.
Heinz Vinegar and PAAS Easter Egg Dyeing Kits have partnered to bring you the Easter Egg Decorator app, available both online via desktop or laptop computer and through the iTunes App Store. Now through March 31, when you decorate and share a virtual Easter egg with family and friends using the free app, Heinz and PAAS will donate $1, up to $25,000, to Make-A-Wish®.
So what are you waiting for? Hop on over to the Paas website and decorate and share a virtual egg with someone so you can help the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
I was sent a Heinz and Paas gift basket full of goodies in order to facilitate my review. All opinions listed are my own.
When juggling your kids’ schedules starts to feel like a full-time job, even super moms can use a hand from technology to keep them on track. There are some great iPhone and Android apps to help busy moms with time and task management.Here’s a list of the top 5 apps to help busy moms. Which one do you think would be the most helpful?
Top 5 Apps to help busy moms
- ClickExpress Lite: These days, kids have social calendars like Hollywood A-listers. ClickExpress Lite helps their moms connect, communicate and coordinate with ease. From cub scouts to carpools and rock climbing club, this app helps parents build a team of their own by importing contacts and then creating, sharing and tracking tasks and activities.
- Cozi: Cozi organizes your family calendar, to-do lists, reminders, shopping list and much more — all in one place. Sign up on Cozi.com, then manage your account wherever you go using your iPhone.
- Grocery iQ: Simplify your grocery shopping with Grocery iQ, an intuitive shopping list that lets you build new lists quickly with features like predictive search and barcode scanning. Customize the arrangement of categories within your list so you can check off items in an orderly fashion as you navigate the store.
- Mint: Making financial decisions in real-time is easy with Mint when you can view up-to-date information about your accounts, check your budgets and edit info on the app. And there’s no waiting necessary. Enter cash or pending transactions in the app right at the time purchase and instantly see your available bank and credit balances.
- ShopSavvy: The ShopSavvyapp for shopping scans products and finds online and local stores providing this product. In addition to that, ShopSavvy compares the prices of the providers, shows user reviews, and searches for deals and discounts on the item.
What apps have you found helpful lately in saving you time and money?
Whether it’s green hats or green drinks, St. Patrick’s Day gets everyone thinking about all things green. Why not use this holiday-inspired green obsession to get your kids excited about eating some of the healthiest foods around? Create a special St. Patrick’s Day lunch or dinner featuring an array of green fruits and veggies – your kids just might discover a new favorite they’ll be willing to eat all year long! Here are 5 ways that you can create a Kid Friendly St. Patrick’s Day meal filled with delicious green fruits and veggies..
According to dietitian Gloria Tsang, founder of nutrition network HealthCastle.com, there’s no reason to limit your “green food” choices to the usual suspects of dark-green leafy vegetables. “Avocados, kiwis, and even green tea can all be thought of as green foods,” Tsang says. “Combined they offer potassium, fiber, antioxidants, magnesium, and loads of vitamins.”
Here are HealthCastle.com’s top ways to use healthy green foods in a kid-friendly St. Patrick’s Day meal:
Healthy green foods that you can use in a kid-friendly St. Patrick’s Day meal
- Bump up the taste appeal with sweet green fruits: Apples and pears with the skin on provide loads of fiber, while kiwi is loaded with Vitamin C and potassium and grapes have Vitamins C and K.
- Go for finger foods: Kids love to eat with their hands, so be sure to include celery and green pepper sticks and cucumber slices. Some light cream cheese or peanut butter for dipping makes these green foods truly fun.
- Put ‘em on a pizza: Green veggies like peppers and zucchini make great pizza toppings, and even shredded kale can work well and add texture.
- Make a creamy green soup: Mix pureed avocado and chicken broth as a base and add the flavors you like, or go for asparagus. The unique appearance of green soup gets kids curious.
- Wash it down with iced green tea: Kids love iced tea, but too often they drink sugar-loaded artificial tea. Try serving real brewed green tea cooled with just a hint of sugar for a great antioxidant boost.
A day when kids are obsessed with green is the perfect time to get them to eat healthy green foods – and add some green nutrition to the meals of the grown-ups in your life, too. More simple, small achievable actions to reclaim health are available on HealthCastle.com.
More about HealthCastle Network founder, Gloria Tsang
Gloria founded HealthCastle.com in 1997, when her father was diagnosed with cancer. Since then, HealthCastle.com has become the largest online nutrition network run by dietitians. Gloria has been featured on 15+ TV shows and 30+ radio programs, as well as in many print publications, revealing compelling “undieting” strategies from her book, Go UnDiet. The Huffington Post named Gloria one of its Top 20 Nutrition Experts on Twitter, and HealthCastle.com was named one of the Top 50 Best Food Websites by The Independent. Publisher’s Weekly called Go UnDiet “a straightforward plan … logical and uncomplicated.” For more information about Gloria’s media work, go to http://www.healthcastle.com/goundietbook/press.html.
Ever since I returned from my latest press trip for work, I have had tons of stuff on my mind. Things like loving who you are, doing what you need to do instead of what everyone wants you to do, and walking in the path that God set for your life. My thoughts started way back before this trip though — through my son and daughter. I love how they just are themselves and they don’t let what others do or what others say influence who they are.
They know who they are and they are not afraid to show it.
My daughter is told all the time that she is admired because she is different and she is not afraid of that. She knows that her uniqueness is what makes her special. I love that about it her. It is so inspiring to me in a world where I am trying SO hard not to be easily influenced by things like money, fame, popularity, being liked– all of those things I have always struggled with.
I am a people pleaser and I have always been a people pleaser. I like the constant pat on the back and being told I am doing great. However, we can grow so accustomed to that, that we start drowning out the one voice that makes a difference and is the ONLY one we should be listening to. While I enjoy all the attention and the “you’re doing a great job”, “You are an amazing writer”, “WOW! I love what you do”, “You’re life is so exciting”, I will be the first to tell you that the voice I really crave is that of the Father telling me what a great daughter to Him I am.
I find myself failing so much lately in the area of listening to His voice. I become everything else that everyone wants me to be, yet the ONE person who wants me to just be the woman He created me to me — yeah — I struggle in this area. I think it has to do with the fact that I lose all control over who I am when I follow His path, yet His path is really the one I want to be on.
Today, I am making a faithful decision to just let myself go and trust God with my life path and allow Him to make me into who I truly want to be — His daughter. I only want His praise and approval, and if others don’t like me — that is totally OK. God loves me and that is all that really matters in this world.
What about you? What are you struggling with today?
I am sitting here in the most upscale hotel that I have ever stayed in. Seriously guys– it’s gorgeous. Very modern, mirrors all around, sculptures in the room type of hotel. I honestly feel out of place here — me and my yoga pants! BUT — there comes a time that every girl needs to allow herself to be pampered — and this is one of those times that I am doing that.
I don’t have any fancy pictures to show you or goofy ones at the moment, because I am just taking some time to relax, have a good time, and just breathe. For us moms, we don’t always take the time for ourselves to do that. We are so busy taking care of our kids that we totally forget that WE need time just as well. Believe me – it is OK to pamper yourself.
My role model in life is Jesus, and I look at it this way. If HE took time away from everything going on around Him, why do we think we are any different? If we are created in His image and we are to be like Him, then why don’t we follow His lead.
It is super important that we allow ourselves time to rejuvenate.
I know from my own personal experience, that when I constantly give and give and give, and yet I don’t take time for just myself — I completely break down — both mentally and physically.
Here is a list of things that I do when I need time away or I just feel like I need to reboot.
5 Ways to Pamper Yourself
Take a Bubble Bath
One of the best things that I have found that make me feel better than anything else in the world is taking a bubble bath. I announce way ahead of time that I need my bubble bath time. I tell everyone that this is my hour and I need to relax so please don’t bother me. I make sure to tell my kids if they need anything to check with daddy because I am busy. I go in, lock the door, light some candles, play soft music and just close my eyes and relax. You will be surprised at how this makes you feel.
Go out and sit on the porch and read a book
Okay– this happens only depending on the weather, but if the sun is out, I will grab a book and go sit on the porch and soak up some Vitamin D while catching up on a book I have been wanting to read. For me, this is relaxing and also gives me time to catch up on some reading.
Splurge and get a massage
Yes– massages can be expensive, but if you search for coupons, you can snag a great massage for about $30 or $40 bucks. These things are like crack — if you have one you will be addicted. Nothing makes me relax more than allowing myself to go somewhere and get a great massage.
Go for a walk to clear your mind
I am not talking about a power walk or super fast exercise here– I am talking about a leisure walk just to slow down and breathe in the atmosphere. It is rejuvenating and will help you to get in your mind what you are wanting to accomplish. I did this just today here in Los Angeles. I got my coffee and my intentions were to just sit outside and enjoy the sunshine, but my feet started walking and before long, I had walked a mile checking out all the places around my hotel. Afterwards I felt great.
Treat yourself to dinner somewhere
Why do we feel like we are not worth treating ourselves to things? We work hard raising our families and every now and then we need to go eat somewhere were we like. Tonight, I am checking out a restaurant that caught my eye on my walk — Restaurant111 here in Lost Angeles. Hoping that it will be good. We will see
So there ya have it — my list of my favorite things to do to wind down when I am overworked or just shutting down. I am sure that some of these things are your favorites too.
What would you do differently?
My daughter took this photo at Christmas time. She is getting so good at using my camera. I think I need to hire her as my full time photographer.
For more Wordless Wednesday posts, visit these fabulous bloggers below:
- 5 Minutes for Mom
- Better in Bulk
- Project Alicia
- Angry Julie Monday
- My Organized Chaos
- Dagmar Bleasdale
What has been a photo that you have taken lately that you love?
5 Valentine Ideas that Don’t Cost a Thing
Rekindle the flame
Write a letter to your Valentine
Create a digital photo album
Take a walk on the beach
Make your bathroom into a spa
There’s nothing more relaxing then a trip to the spa. How about recreating the spa experience at home? Draw a warm bubble bath, turn the lights off and light some candles. If you don’t have bubble bath, try some rosemary or lavendar for a delightful scent. Add a classic touch, by using flowers petals either in the water and leading up to the bath. This is a perfect way to start or end your Valentine’s Day.
What is a way that you can celebrate Valentine’s Day without spending any money?
When my son was born, I had his pictures made like every month for the first year of his life. I am not joking. I wanted to make sure to capture every single moment of his life. Little did I know that I could do that very same thing myself and take photos with my point and shoot and really get some great shots.
Photographer, author and educator Erin Manning provides her Top 3 Tips for capturing better baby photos. Erin gives you advice on setting the scene and getting close to the baby for those perfect images, as well as using a SanDisk Ultra SDHC card to make sure she never misses a shot.
The tip on the macro has to be my favorite. Up til now — I honestly had no clue how to use that. Thanks Erin for such great advice!
These tips provided by Sandisk will definitely come in handy for you the next time you are snapping away and taking photos of your kids.
What kind of picture will you be taking of your baby?
“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for SanDisk. I received a product sample to thank me for participating”
When I see that title, it still shocks me that my child was one — a cutter. Before I share with you her journey from being a cutter, I just wanted to let you know that I asked her if I could share her story and she gave me full permission to do so. This is something that is so personal to her that I did not want to do it without her knowledge.
We moved in 2011 to a nice house in the country. I remember the first time I saw scratches on her arm. I asked her what happened and she quickly told me she had scratched it on the fence while climbing over. In my innocence as a mother I believed her because my 13 year old daughter had never done anything other than be a sweet and loving child. Sure she had anger issues, but at 13, most kids do because they are going through that time of body changes, etc. She had never lied to me, stolen anything, or been rude and ugly to others. Yet — she had a hidden secret that only she knew about. She hid her secret beneath a bunch of hand made bracelets.
The day I discovered her self injury habit is a day that I will always remember for the rest of my life. Something about her seemed off — very moody and sad and it worried me. I hopped on twitter to see if she had been posting anything about what she was feeling and while she did not come right out and say she was cutting herself, I saw tweets that told me that was what she was doing. My heart ached for my baby girl because this was something so big and I had never in my life dealt with it. Thankfully she was at a friend’s house staying the night so her daddy and I sat down and started talking and praying trying to make sense of it all.
We asked ourselves questions like:
Were we bad parents? Did we cause this?
What else had she subjected herself to?
So many questions weighed on our minds. We stayed up all night researching how to deal with cutting and self injury. We found helpful information online and I am so thankful for what we read before we talked to her, because if I had been allowed to just talk to her, what I would have said would have made things SO much more worse for her and for us. Yes — there is a special way to talk to children who are cutting.
I called my friend at 1 in the morning and told her what was going on and to please keep an eye on her and that we would be there to talk to her the next day. As we pulled into the driveway the next day, my heart was pounding. When I saw her, all I wanted to do was wrap my arms around her and hold my hurting baby girl. We spoke for a long time that morning and as she shared with me about her addiction, the walls and barriers broke as we held each other crying.
Cutting herself was her way of dealing with emotional stress that she had no other way of knowing how to deal with. By cutting, she could focus on that pain and not the pain in her heart she was feeling.
She shared with me that she hated what she was doing to herself. It had been going on for several months and she was sick of hurting herself. During her time of self cutting, she shared with me that she had thoughts of suicide and just killing herself and not having to deal with all the issues that were going on in her head. Knowing that I could have lost my little girl frightened me beyond anything I could have ever imagined, and God used that as a wake up call to me as a parent.
It has now been over a year and a half since that time and I am proud to say that my daughter has been healed of her cutting addiction. For a few months after we found out, she struggled with wanting to do it again, but she kept remembering God’s love and our love for her, and she found a way to beat it. Not every child is as blessed as mine. While her time was short with cutting, many kids deal with it daily and for many years –without anyone every knowing what is going on.
Signs Your Child May Be Cutting
If you think your child may be self harming themselves, here are a few signs you can look for:
- Always wearing long sleeves or long pants at unusual times during the year (ex summer time with long pants or long sleeves)
- Small, linear cuts. “The most typical cuts are very linear, straight line, often parallel like railroad ties carved into forearm, the upper arm, sometimes the legs,” Rosen tells WebMD.
- Unexplained cuts and scratches, particularly when they appear regularly.
- Mood changes like depression or anxiety, out-of-control behavior, changes in relationships, communication, and school performance. Kids who are unable to manage day-to-day stresses of life are vulnerable to cutting
I think what started Kayla’s issues was because we had a major change in our home before we moved. For about 6 months I went back to work outside the home. She had just turned 13 and really had a hard time dealing with that. I did not have as much time for her and her daddy and I ignored her a lot. Kids NEED their parents. During this time, I was not there for her, and because she does not always handle change well, she found a way to cope — not one I would have chosen for her, but then again, I was not around for her so she found her own way to cope with the change that she did not like.
What Can a Parent Do
If you think your child is cutting, do not come at them as if you are attacking them. That will set them on the defense and they will cut more. Talk to them as a concerned parent. Let them know that they are not in trouble and you will not judge or punish them. With Kayla, we basically just loved her as God would love her and let Him do the change in her. We became available to talk at any given time she needed and we prayed with her quite a bit.
This post has been sponsored by Sage Day School. Check out Susan’s post about the signs that your child might be depressed on 5 Minutes for Mom and Lolli’s story on childhood depression at Better in Bulk.net. All thoughts included in this post are my own.
This weekend, I have been engrossed in a deep worship and teaching conference for youth. I finally got to experience Ramp– Karen Wheaton’s ministry that she has for young people.
It has been wall to wall worship and I have really enjoyed spending some one on one time with God. It’s been very needed.
I got a word today about me and my ministry-writing and just really doing what I was called to do.
This is my year.
I’ve received a fresh anointing and I am now ready to do what God has laid on my heart to do for many years now.
The vision has now been completely manifested before my very eyes.
I can’t wait to share it with you!
2012 is almost finished and I always try to take a look back at the highlights of my year. It kind of gives me closure for that year and starts me on my journey for the upcoming year. I had a lot of exciting things happen for me and if you have been reading my blog all along, you pretty much know what they are. But for those who have just recently joined, let me share with you about 2012
Highlights from 2012
One of the best books I read this year was Choose Joy by Kay Warren. It really opened my eyes to what true joy is and how to keep it going in your life.
BEST DECISION I MADE THIS YEAR
This year I learned to just let go and love myself — for me. Not for who I can become, not for who I think I want to be, but for the person I am right now.
BEST MOMENT OF 2012
The best moment for me this year is when I conquered my fear of the ocean and swam neck deep with our youth group. It was amazing! I just let go and enjoyed the moment.
MY BEST MEMORY
Falling in love with a bunch of teenagers and feeling like for the first time in my life, I am doing what I was called to do. It is freeing to be walking in that moment of your life.
BEST PURCHASE THIS YEAR
Getting my daughter signed up for Camp Electric. She is going to be getting lessons from some of her favorite bands for a whole week in Nashville. It is some of the best money I have ever spent
Getting my braces this year is THE best gift I have ever gotten EVER.
I think the best change for me is just not trying to one every other blogger up and just accepting my uniqueness. I don’t have to be super big like a lot of other sites. I have loyal readers and if those numbers never grow, I will be totally ok with that — because YOU all matter to me That is my biggest change this past year.
What’s in store for 2013
I have prayed a lot about what I want to do for 2013. I am working on a new bucket list, my one word for this year, and what I want to accomplish on this blog for the upcoming year.
I am definitely going to try to get more quality content on here and share my heart more. We are working on organizing our lives more, graduating a high schooler from homeschool, and teaching the teens at church, so I have a lot I want to share with you as we go through that
More recipes of course — lots more of that.
And then –just working on my weight loss and getting more structure going there.
So what has happened to you in 2012? What are you looking forward to in 2013?
For many families, the joy and fond memories of a vacation are ruined upon returning home to find that their house has been burgled in their absence. Home thefts are on the rise, and the current state of the economy has made the idea even more appealing to many criminals. Rather than allow the uncertainty over the state of their home to overwhelm them and destroy their vacation plans, many families choose instead to protect their homes and property in a variety of ways, securing it not only while they are away but also while they are at home. Here are some tips on how to protect your home while you are gone.
Tips and advice for protecting your home
Arguably one of the most important and valuable tips for protecting a home while on vacation is to make it appear as if the home is still occupied. For many burglars, the impression that someone is in residence is enough to deter them from trying to break in or damage the property in any way. Automatic timers can be very useful for switching the lights on and off at appropriate times, with some even capable of randomizing the lighting schedule to create the illusion that someone is truly home.
Enlisting the help of a trusted neighbor, friend or family member is another great way to maintain the illusion that the family is at home. Gardening, maintaining the lawn, walking the property on occasion and even parking a car in the driveway at various times can work well.
It is a good idea to notify the local police about any travel plans, particularly if the family will be out of town for more than a few days. While the police cannot act as personal security, they can take note of the house on scheduled patrols. They will also have the information on hand that no one is home in the event that there is a fire or other emergency taking place on the property.
A great tip for keeping home and property safe during a vacation is to keep announcements about the vacation to a minimum. Avoid posting any holiday plans or details on social networking sites or giving the information to anyone but a trusted friend or family member. Many thieves troll message boards and social networking sites looking for anyone who is vulnerable.
Take the steps necessary to secure the home. Things such as good window locks and sturdy doors are the most important first step to keeping a home and property safe and sound, yet they are most often overlooked.
Home security monitoring
Home security monitoring is the best way to secure and protect a home not only during a vacation but all the time. Even the most basic of systems has sensors on all the doors and windows as well as motion sensors and glass break sensors, which will alert the security company when set off. The security company will then alert the police and the owner of any break-in attempts or if any other problems occur – such as fire. From basic systems to deluxe smart house technology, home security monitoring is easily customized for any environment and family lifestyle.
What did you do today to make the world a better place?
Whether you are an adult or a child, every day we have a chance to do something special for someone else – to make a difference in someone’s life. It doesn’t take much time or money. All it takes is a kind heart and a passion to make a difference. Start small. Everyday do one thing for someone. It could be a total stranger or a close friend. I made a list of 25 different ways to make a difference. Add to it and make your own list. Then share it with everyone you know. It really only takes one person to start a change that makes the world a brighter place. Plus, when you pay it forward and help others, we get an instant boost of happiness. Remember, every day brings an opportunity to enjoy life.
2. Give a hug
3. Tell someone you love them
4. Give a compliment and receive a compliment. When was the last time you just said “Thank You” when you received a compliment.
5. Listen – really listen to what someone is saying to you. Don’t think about your answer, just be in the moment.
6. Call an old friend you haven’t talked to in years just to see how they are doing. Tell them you miss them.
7. Say you’re sorry if you need to. Learn to forgive others and yourself. Anger doesn’t do anything but destroy relationships.
8. Support your local stores – buy local produce, family pharmacies, small independent stores. Keep the American dream alive!
9. Start a garden – plant a tree.
10. Treat yourself with respect – if you don’t, others will follow suit. Take care of yourself. If your happy, your passing on a positive vibe. Your positive attitude is contagious – share the wealth!
11. Be a positive role model – others will follow.
12. Share your experiences – wisdom is priceless.
13. Did you recycle today?
14. Altruism is good for the soul. Volunteer, join a charity – the more we help others, the better we feel about ourselves. It’s a win-win situation, a 2 for 1. You help others and yourself in one shot! Get your kids involved. Altruism, it raises their self-esteem.
15. Be part of the community – be involved!
16. Take a moment of silence to just be – learn to slow down. We don’t need more impatience in this world.
17. Eat Healthy – watch what you put in your body, it’s the only one you got. Prevention is key to a long, healthy life!
18. Keep the world clean – throw your trash where it belongs and pick up others. Help keep the world bright and shiny!
19. Be supportive, honest and loyal to your loved ones. Be a good friend!
20. Ask people if they need help? Then do what you can to make their world happier.
21. Adopt a pet – a dog is really a man’s best friend – why? They give unconditional love, loyalty and help relieve stress. At the rehab I work at for Traumatic Brain Injury clients, we have Therapy dogs that come in on Friday’s and it’s the happiest day of the wee. They bring so much love, hope and friendship.
22. How can I empower someone today? Use positive word choices, positive reinforcement or bring them back to a time when they were feeling strong and high on life. Good memories brings a sense of control back to a person’s life. We feel happier when we are in control of our lives.
23. Be realistic – have realistic expectations for the world. Don’t expect perfection or you set yourself up for failure. Watch how your perceive the world. If you perceive the world in a negative view then that is what you will see. If you choose to see the world from a positive perspective – people will seem good, the world will seem inviting. The choice is yours – how do you want to see the world?
24. How can you help one person a day? Think of something you can do each day that makes a difference in just one person’s life. It can be a friend, family member or a complete stranger. Sometimes, we try to help a lot of people and get lost in the “Trying.” Help one person a day. It’s the Domino Effect, you make one person happier – they will make one person happier and so on…..We think to make a change, it needs to be HUGE and affect a lot of people. You can start the process of change and making this world a better place, one person at a time. Every day I think to myself: How did I make a difference today? Ask yourself that every day and as long as you affected one person in a positive manner, you’re doing your job to help make the world a brighter place.
25. Just be a good person – practice goodness, kindness, caring and empathy each and every day. Be the person you always wanted to be.
What did you do today to make the world a better place?
Written by Diane Lang, Author, Speaker, Psychotherapist and Positive Living Expert.
Diane Lang – Positive Living Expert and psychotherapist – is a nationally recognized author, educator, speaker, therapist and media expert. Lang is extremely mediagenic and offers expertise on a variety of health and wellness topics about creating balance and finding happiness through positive living. Lang offers expertise in multiple mental health, lifestyle and parenting needs. In addition to holding multiple counseling positions, Diane is also an adjunct professor at Montclair State University and Centenary College.
Lang has been interviewed for numerous magazine and newspaper articles and has been a frequent guest on radio and TV shows including “Fox & Friends” on the Fox News Network. Lang is a monthly contributor for “Family Beautiful” magazine, a weekly columnist for MommyTalk.com, a regular featured expert on the “Expat Show” broadcasted weekly on the New York ABC affiliate WTBQ-AM, and a Blogger at www.MyHappyBlog.vox.com.
Lang is the author of two books: “Baby Steps: The Path from Motherhood to Career” and “Creating Balance and Finding Happiness.”
My family and I are music fanatics. There is pretty much not a time when you won’t find us jamming out to our favorite bands and groups. Not only that, my hubby loves to listen to his preaching podcasts. There is just one teeny tiny problem. Everyone is always taking his headphones.Poor baby Thanks to Sol Republic and their Tracks Ultra headphones, he will forever have his own now and no one will be taking his ever again!
About Sol Republic Tracks Ultra
Tracks ULTRA are ideal for audiophile music lovers who enjoy clear highs and a wide soundstage.
I love that the headband is very flexible and Sol Republic guarantees it to last at a minimum 1,000 days. These fit nicely over the head and have a great sound. My husband loves them a lot and has made him a very happy camper
The headset comes disassembled, and is really easy to put together. The ear parts slide on to the flat headband and are easily adjustable for every head size.
Amps In Ear Headphones
I also received a pair of Amps In- Ear Headphones as well. The Amps are awesome! I love how they curve to fit in my ear. The sound is wonderful and the cord is flat which makes it so easy to keep untangled.
The only thing with the Amps is that they do not stay in my ears very well when I am out running or jogging, but other than that I love them! It could be I have the wrong size ear piece on there.
Enter to win
I am giving away 1 pair of the Tracks Ultra to one lucky winner. To enter this giveaway, answer this question: What is your favorite Christmas song?
For extra entries:
- Follow me on Twitter
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- Subscribe to my RSS Feed (located at the top of the blog)
- Subscribe by Email (located at the top of the blog)
- Follow Sol Republic on Twitter
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This giveaway will end on December 19th and a winner will be drawn using Random.org.
I was provided a pair of Amps and Tracks in order to write this review. All opinions listed are my own.