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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Parenting 101: See What Your Kids Cannot

If you've been following this little Parenting Series,
than Welcome Back!

If you've just found this post,
you might want to catch up with
this post
and than this post.

When I was asked to share my thoughts and advice
on Successful Parenting, my initial reaction
was sheer and utter PANIC-
Every error in judgement, loss of temper
and irrational consequence I ever issued
came flooding back into my memory as if
I was in the middle of a Bad Parent Documentary!

After the initial shock and awe of the assignment,
I decided that I would go directly to the source
of those most affected by my parenting style and decisions-
I know, a little scary right-
I was braced for some pretty haunting tales...

My 20 year old son said, 
Fresh off his 2 year Mission- Happy and Eager to see everyone
“I'm really appreciative that you had a high standard for us- 
you always expected success; there was never any question or second thought about 
what we could accomplish, you knew we had potential 
and you wanted us to know that too - and we do! 
But you also taught us that whatever we accomplished was OK as long as we tried our best. 
So there was a good balance there.” 

My 17 year old daughter said, 

Graduated Top 10 in her class and off to college she goes...
“You put a lot of trust in us, treating us like you really 
believed in our goodness and obedience. This makes it really 
hard to break the rules or disappoint you.” 

My oldest daughter said, 

Parting shot as she heads off to serve an 18 month mission in the Alps!
“Failure and giving up just weren't an option.
It isn't that you drove us to the brink of perfection, but you saw so much
in us that it was hard not to see a little of that too. When things got hard, 
you were right there supporting us and guiding us until we could stand on
our own again. I know that I did more and stretched further because
you saw in me more than I saw in myself."

So in honor of them, my second parenting tip 
is to see the Potential in your children that they can’t see in themselves 
and emulate for them a work ethic that will lead them to this potential. 

With your pattern of living and your expectations, 
they will rise higher than they think they can. When the Savior 
came upon several men in fishing boats, He saw more than fishers.   
He knew of their goodness and their potential and He had a vision for 
them that far exceeded what they thought they could be. 
Though what He asked of them was hard, they followed Him 
and they became great men. 
In Jesus, they had a great example of how they should live their lives. 
Our children do not come equipped with a vision of who they are and 
what they can become. 
It is up to us, to see in them what they can’t see in themselves, 
and to gently guide them in the direction of their success. 
And like Jesus did to Peter who faltered when trying to walk on the water, 
it is up to us to catch them if they start to sink.

I do believe that for the most part, our children will live up 
to the expectations given to them. I know this is true when 
we are actively praying for guidance as we rear our children. 
We have a loving Heavenly Father who has promised us that 
He will never give us more than we can bear. If we choose to emulate 
this wonderful promise for our children, they can be sure that 
we will never ask them to reach further than we know they can go.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Parenting 101: Create a Vision

I shared here about an opportunity I had to
speak to a large group about Successful Parenting-
Creating a Vision was the first suggestion I offered to them
as one family habit we have that has made a BIG
difference in our lives...

I am a huge advocate of being a Visionary
when it comes to our own personal lives.

Just like a Mission Statement helps a family, school
or company identify what it is the group
wants to 'DO' and accomplish,

a Vision Statement for an individual
helps identify who we want to BE
and who we will BECOME on this journey
we call life!

We might be DOING what we want to be doing-
but unhappy or dissatisfied because we are NOT
BEING who we want to BE! However, without a
Vision Statement how would we know we
were off target?

Work together to create a vision for your family! 
Proverbs 29:18 councils us “where there is no vision, the people perish.” 

Where do you see yourself, your children 
and your family in 5, 10 or 30 years?
What do you need to do to get there? 
What do you feel is important for your children to learn and become? 

Involve your children, regardless of how old they are
When your children are involved in the family vision, 
they feel a sense of ownership and they have 
an increased desire to support the success of this vision. 
Having a family vision helps us to set priorities in our 
family’s resource management. 
It helps us determine where to spend our time, money and efforts.

Good questions to ask yourself when trying to decide 
how to make a family vision and where to focus your efforts are:
1) does it keep us on track to return as a family back to Heaven Father’s presence and 
2) does this bring our family closer to reaching our divine potential? 

Having a solid family and personal vision will help the family
and/or the individual know how to prioritize their time,
choose wisely the activities they engage in and 
make wise social decisions BEFORE the decision actually 
becomes an issue. 

We have seen the value of this Vision Statement in a few 
different types of situations that seem to recur on a fairly
frequent pattern in our home:

1. The first place our Vision Statement comes in handy is
when we are trying to decide if we can successfully add 
another regularly scheduled lesson or activity to the calendar. 
One of the VISIONS for our family is having a strong sense of 
unity and family bonds.
To ensure the best environment for this cohesiveness to be nourished,
we strive for five nights per week that we can ALL be home
for scripture study and family prayer (with teens, I KNOW this
is hard! It's what we strive for and by the way,
nobody ever said parenting was EASY).

If a new activity looks like it will compromise that VISION,
we don't add it the calendar-
it doesn't even get PENCILED in!! 
If the activity is very important to someone,
we look for ways to add the activity that WON'T have negative 
impact on our family, or we look at what we can CUT from
our lives to make room in our schedule.

2. The second way that having a VISION STATEMENT has proven
valuable is in the blessings that come from seeing ALL that has
already been accomplished from previous VISION STATEMENTS!
It is nice to see how far you've already come on a goal or a vision.
This is ESPECIALLY helpful at times when life gets a little discouraging-
when the bumps and bruises of life deflect from the good and beautiful.

Having a Vision Statement will help keep us focused when life gets a 
little out of balance.
And it helps us see the bigger picture when we feel we've 
gotten off track of the important stuff of life!

Life can get really busy. Life can get really hard!
It is important that whatever we add to our lives
adds JOY, allows us to find and share HAPPINESS
and brings us to a state of peaceful accomplishment-

Friday, October 11, 2013

Black Mango Salsa

I'm going to be straight forward on this one-
maybe if you know how I felt about it first,
you won't be so hesitant to try it for yourself,

If I saw Mango Salsa on a menu,
I would have avoided the dish it was with!
The first time I was served it at a friends house,
I politely declined dishing it up!
And I NEVER would have looked for a recipe
for Mango Salsa-
it just wasn't on my radar-
I think fruits are sweet,
and I didn't need no Heat to my Sweet!!

And than I got trickered-
and I partook of that sweet fruit,
mixed in with some serious spice-
and I found myself a little bit hooked!

So yesterday,
as I was peeling mangoes,
and thinking they were absolutely perfect-
and I saw the kiwi in the fruit bowl,
and the blackberries on the counter-
I knew I had to get me a mango salsa FIX!
"Hey Kids, who wants mango salsa and pita chips
for afterschool snack today?"
I can ALWAYS convince myself,
that my needs really meet the needs of others-
it's the mother in me!

Ooh La LA,
That's all I have left to say,
okay except for
Isn't it beautiful?

Mango Salsa

4 mangoes, peeled and cut in dices
10 blackberries, cut in half if they are big
2 kiwi, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1 lime
jalapeno, large minced
1 TBSP. crystallized ginger
small pinch of sea salt (I actually skip this, but I'm not a salt lover)
(My recipe calls for fresh pineapple too, but I left it out this time,
and I really liked it without)

after the blackberries had time to spread their love of color

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Parenting 101

A few months ago, I was asked to speak
to a large group of adults in our area.
My topic was "Successful Parenting"
If that wasn't intimidating enough-
the gentleman who asked me said,
"Now what we are really looking for
is practical tips and ideas that can be taken
home and implemented immediately into
the homes of those who attend. We want
them to feel empowered and successful."
Yumminess at Millions of Milkshakes
HOLY COW! I stopped breathing and
IMMEDIATELY had a non stop movie
playing in my mind of ALL the things
I've done to completely scar my children!
If you're going to fight, You're going to be glued together at the hip :) until you can get along
I've spoken to big groups before,
I've spoken about really sensitive topics-
but Parenting, this is a very personal topic!!
Parenting is one of those things that can stir
a lot of emotions- people can easily feel judged,
inadequate, defensive--
and when any of that happens,
lots of people just turn off and come up with
a million reasons why "that won't work at my house!"
He's FINALLY Home!!! Dinner at Chuy's
Man, this felt like a heavy task-
and I didn't want to get it wrong in any way!

I started with a great big prayer
(and a zillion little ones)
and thought about the wonderful gift
that parenting is to me!
Take Part in Fun Family Activities
It is hard, it is often thankless,
and it is always EXHAUSTING...
but if you can step back out of all of that
and realize what a gift it is to be able to influence
the direction, course and outcome of someone's
life- to be THE person that someone thinks of
when they think safe, secure and happy!

Graduation, NOW on to College
My friends,
I KNOW parenting is a gift.
Family Photo Shoot a Million Years Ago
After much thought,
I came up with a defining moment in my
own parenting journey.
It was the realization that my focus needs to be
on a "To Teach" list and not on my normal "To Do" list!
Fun and Happiness, No Matter where we are!
It was when I began to look at my role as a mother
in this way- as a teacher and guide of my children's life journey
that I realized nothing seemed burdensome or tedious anymore.
Nothing seemed trite or menial in my day,
I found an increased desire to help them GAIN something
out of our time together and we found reason to
incorporate joy, team work and beauty into every day-

More than Anything, my hope is that my children are Friends & Lifelong Support Staff for each other
Because let's face it-
"Men are that they might have joy" 2 Nephi 2:25
Relaxing Together & Working Together create a Family that Stays Together
I shared five suggestions that seem to have
made a positive impact on our family. Because
they are very general, there is plenty of room to customize
these suggestions for your home and family life.
Watch for more detail on each suggestion through the week:

 Suggestions for Successful Parenting

1. Create a Vision for Your Family

2. See the Potential in Your Children that they often
can't see in themselves

3. Create in Your Homes Opportunity for Children
to recognize the Spirit of the Lord early in their Lives

4. Hold Regular Family Councils AND Involve the
Children in Big Decisions

5. When BIG Issues Arise, Follow after the Parenting
of a Loving Heavenly Father- His ways will ALWAYS
show you what is needed in your home

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Blueberry Salmon

I'm having a bit of an affair with Blueberries right now,
besides all the hub bub about anti-oxidants
and all the yummy goodness they spit out,
I just heard that they are a natural anti-inflammatory,
and I have me some dumb old
Lupus/ arthritis inflammation-
so instead of a bunch of pills,
I'm going for a bunch of blueberries!!

I found a recipe for Blueberry Salsa
and honestly for a month I was obsessed!
The kind of obsessed that bugs people,
and they say things like
"Seriously Mom, you've mentioned that
blueberry salsa like 20 times today,
just make it already"
"OK, OK little miss smarty pants,
if you're going to insist,
I'll get busy and make it."

it was sooooooooooooooooooooooo,
good!! OH SO GOOD!!!

We have served it with tortilla chips,
eaten it with pita chips,
put it on sandwiches,
served it as a topping for our
favorite Blueberry BBQ sauce,
and just last night,
ate it on our Ginger Lime Salmon

Now that's some good stuff

(and all this in one week)
Yeah you could say OBSESSED
Are you ready for it,
'cuz here it comes...

Blue & Black-berry Salsa

1 cup fresh blueberries
10 blackberries
1/4 red onion
1 teaspoon lime zest
juice of two limes
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 avocado, chopped (I left this out this time)
salt and pepper to taste
Combine blueberries, strawberries, onion, lime zest, juice and cilantro in a food processor or blender and pulse. Process to your desired consistency. I tend to like a little chunk to my salsa's. Season with salt and pepper if desired. 

Well just in case you want to know what little
miss smarty pants said after I made it,
it sounded a lot like
"Seriously mom, all that obsessing was
like TOTALLY worth it"

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Blossom of a Flower

I have been thinking about this for several days
and decided that the thought needed to be put
into writing- maybe just for me-
but hopefully for you too.

I am almost 100% sure that I am not the only
mom/woman/human/adult (pick your noun)
who worries about the life they are living
and if it is the life they should be or COULD be living!

I have been really been struggling since we made
this most recent move!
It's been almost 2 years, for crying out loud-
and I just can't seem to get any semblance of

Honestly it is the weirdest thing...
I wish I could explain it without sounding WEIRD!

I have offered many prayers on this matter and
a few days ago, I feel that I got a mini-answer
Maybe not an answer,
but definitely a little bit of an understanding.

You see,
I feel like I've been holding back since we moved to Texas-
definitely not on purpose,
and definitely not on everything...
but I've been holding back those things that I love-
love to share, love to create and love to do!

For 9 years we lived somewhere that we loved-
Our beautiful home in small town MN
kind people, great friends, awesome experiences!
Pig Roast in a garage- classic MN entertaining venue
I loved to decorate, craft, scrapbook, sew

Ten years of Ornament Exchange ornamentation- my favorite tradition EVER!!
and mostly I loved to host...
Andover Ward Ten Year Anniversary
I loved to find a reason to have a bunch
of people together laughing and having a good time!

6th Annual 4th of July Bike Parade
We had a lot of space,

Human Foosball at our 'Nothing Like a Good Friend Party'
a lot of flexibility

Ice Hockey on our Front Yard Pond
and it was simply what I LOVED to do...

Every good Bike Parade ends with a game of Water Baseball
I started hearing some pretty unkind criticism of
the things I loved to do,
and I noticed that I started to hold back and feel
anxious when I wanted to host a party or an activity-
I tried so hard to not allow the unkind remarks of some
to influence my heart,
but I fell prey to human emotion
and the remarks left a sting.

And then we moved...
No one knew me, which meant
no one knew what I did in my spare time
or what talents or skills I had or didn't have

and I found that I became a different version of ME!
We became Beach Bumms to the MAX
To be honest, I liked this version of me quite a bit too...
weekends at the beach,

Muscle Beach... always a FAV
Any Day is a Beach Day
lunch with friends, shopping in the city-
my husband has teased that I was on a 3 year play date :)

And because I felt like a blank slate,
I incorporated some things into my life that I hadn't
taken enough time for before-

Yoga moved from an exercise routine to a way of life
Over time, I started to add some of the old me back
into my life and things were really starting to click
that this could be my new HOME!

Pasta Parties before a Swim Meet

Kids in the Kitchen cooking classes

and I feel like a clean slate that just doesn't dare to be
inked up or colored on.
But I also feel a little lost and a lot lonely-

Now I want to take a minute to say, that
there are some things that I have added to my life
because of where I am emotionally that I LOVE-

So I'm not a male accordion player- but I do spend a lot of time in peaceful contentment
and honestly I wouldn't trade these things for the world-
or for either of my past lives!
But it doesn't change the fact that I feel a little disconnected...

So as I was praying one day,
desperate for guidance or understanding,
I envisioned a beautiful flower-
alone in a meadow.
Though the flower was alone amongst all the green foliage,
it was blossoming in it's full glory-
big, colorful and full of God's splendor.

I realized that not for one moment did that flower
hesitate to bloom,
never once did it question how long it
would be able to sustain that blossom nor did it ask
how many people would get to see it's beauty-

The flower blossomed because it was time
AND that is what it was created to do-
to reach it's full potential,
to magnify the measure of its creation.

I thought about this ALL day-
and I asked myself a lot of questions.

Why am I holding back?
What am I holding back?
Who am I waiting to give me permission to live the life
I want to live?
Why do I think it matters where I live to fulfill the full
measure of MY creation?

I loved this visual aid that Heavenly Father gave me.
I do better when I can SEE the lesson-
and I could SEE this!
Not only could I see the flower imagery,
but I could apply it into my own life.

I understand a little more why I feel so disconnected
AND more importantly,
I understand what I need to do to fix it-

I need to consider my life as a wonderful journey-
similar to a walk in a park with little kids!
My kiddos could walk along and gather
anything and everything-
rocks, sticks, leaves...
At the end of the day they were the same
beautiful kids they were at days beginning
(probably a little dirtier)
BUT they had a lot of little treasures to take home with them!
Some we kept,
It's not what you do, but who you do it with that really matters
some we tossed
These treasures weren't tossed, they just all moved on to their own bigger and better
and some were precious enough to display...
Some people come into your life long enough to make a forever imprint on your heart
I just happen to be walking through a much larger park :)
I just need to remember that we have gathered some amazing treasures over the years

Enjoy your day
Enjoy where you are right now
And never let a single day pass by
without living up to the full potential of THAT DAY

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Banana Muffins with a Boost

 *** I've had a senior moment- I can't find my pics, so imagine yummy muffins,
I'll get back to you on the pictures.

My family used to look like this
Parents included...
and now it looks like this...
Granted there are no parents in this pic...
One kiddo is serving an 18 month church mission
The morning of departure
and two just left for school in Utah
Kiddo #1 and #3 off to USU

So needless to say,
my grocery shopping looks a little different lately-
and I have a lot of bananas that end up looking like this

rather than this :)

I've been making a lot of things out of BANANA,
bread, muffins, cake, smoothies...

You get the idea right??

I decided to go a little crazy one day when I saw this cereal-
Sorry for the fuzziness; it says Cinnamon Hazlenut
I have used it's sister cereal to make cranberry muffins
for like a ZILLION years!
Cranberry Almond Crunch
So I figured I could come up with a yummy recipe using
a cereal with a name like that!

To borrow a phrase from Mary Poppins-
these were Practically Perfect in Every Way...

The second time I made them,
I made them in Jumbo Muffin Tins and
topped them with a chunky cinnamon streusel.
We took them to a school breakfast-
EVERYONE who ate them wanted to know where
I had gotten them and they were the first muffins gone
(this up against the HUGE Costco/Sam's Club Muffins
that are more of a dessert than a breakfast food)

Try 'Em-
You won't be disappointed

Banana Muffins

2 1/2 c. flour (I use a combination of wheat and white)
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 t. baking soda
1 box of Post Cinnamon Hazelnut Cereal
     (Or Post Crunchy Pecans Cereal)
2 eggs
2 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. butter
2 ripe bananas, mashed

2 TBSP. maple syrup
1/2 tsp each, cinnamon & nutmeg

Beat eggs and buttermilk together & syrup.
Stir in melted butter.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, soda, cereal and spices.
Add milk mixture and stir with as few strokes as possible.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, adjusting cook time to size of muffin.

*** My littles request these to be made with chocolate chips-
which just makes them YUMMY TOO!!