Friday, January 13, 2017

Goal setting for kids--guidelines to help your children succeed with New Year's resolutions

Mom2MomEd Blog: Goal setting for kids--guidelines to help your children succeed with New Year's resolutions
As I write this, the New Year is just beginning, and like many of you, I've been thinking about this past year and my hopes for this new year.

I mentioned recently that to my 6 year old son that sometimes people make resolutions at this time of year in order to improve their lives or to change for the upcoming year. I suggested that maybe he would like to think about something he would like to do better this year as well.

He said, "Yeah, mom, I'll make a resolution." My heart got happy and I was so excited that he was on board with making some adjustments with his mama!

And then, he said...

"I'm going to be the BEST at building Legos, stay home from school, and just do nothing."

Um, well, kid, those are some, uh, interesting goals.

Of course, I should also tell you that I hadn't really explained what resolutions actually are, why they are significant or any other details to help him understand what all this New Year's stuff really meant. 

But alas, he then repeated his resolutions to me several times, with pride.


What I should have done, and meant to do, was to explain the significance of resolutions and goals and how New Year's resolutions in particular symbolize second chances, thoughtful planning, and looking ahead. It's a time to focus on what we want to do better and to bring new appreciation for the people and experiences that are important to us.

Since I obviously failed at giving my son a foundation upon which to set his resolutions, I will take the time to do so when I bring up resolutions next time!

Now that I've realized my mistake, I have decided to break the idea of resolutions and goal setting into categories to get both of my kids thinking about different parts of their lives. I'm calling them goals now since I think the idea of "resolutions" is too big and abstract for my 6 and 3 year old children. However, ultimately the specific word is less important than making sure your kids understanding the meaning of what you are talking about.

So, what categories will I be using with my kids in helping them to set and achieve some goals this year? We'll be setting goals in these areas:
  • Personal goals
  • A family goal
  • A community goal
As you can imagine, my kids are likely to come up with some rather abstract goals, so I do believe in helping guide children to more concrete ideas. However, immediately, we'll just be starting with ideas and then focusing them down as time moves on. I am focusing on process more than outcome at this point.

In addition to setting these categories and guiding my children from abstract to concrete ideas, I believe you also need to use age appropriate vocabulary and explanations with your kids. My children will understand "Everyone can do something better and everyone can help out a little more. Let's talk about how you can do that and how mommy and daddy can too."

As a visual person who has highly visually children, I typically write words or phrases (or have my son write them out) and then my kids illustrate the concepts we wrote down. We have already done this with chore charts (read more HERE), reminders, and other things posted around our house, and doing the same with our goals will fit in perfectly! We'll post our illustrated goals where we can see them all the time. That way, we'll see the goals throughout the day and it will serve as a visual reminder for us.

Since my kids are pretty young, personal goals for them might be things like remembering to clean up their toys before bed and putting things away where they belong so toys don't get lost. Or, maybe their goals might be things like making a new friend at school or the park.

Family goals will be guided quite a bit by my husband and I. I have in mind activities related to things like weekly family dates or outings that we can all do together. I'd also like to start giving to others as a family. Instead of just doing the same things over and over, I will be looking into various organizations and places in our community that might need help. For example, animal shelters are always looking for warm towels and blankets, along with dog food and other supplies--something I already committed to donating in 2017 (see THIS post). This also ties into a community goal, right? I also plan to look into volunteer opportunities and to reach out to some of our elderly neighbors to do some little good deeds!

Here's the catch in all of this resolution and goal setting...

It's all well and good to plan and think and want to do this stuff. The hard part is making a conscious effort to actually go out and do them and to include my children in my giving.

So, that's how I am starting the year with my family, but I'm really excited to know how YOUR family is approaching goal setting! Do you make or keep resolutions? How do you hold yourself accountable and how will you help to keep your kids involved and working towards their goals?  
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Thursday, January 12, 2017

REAL MOMS: Malea talks about her mom, Susan

Mom2MomEd Blog: Real Moms--Malea talks about her mom, Susan
Recently, McKenzie interviewed her mom, Cindy, and it was so sweet! I know McKenzie's mom and loved their interview! Cindy is one of my favorite people and I'm glad to have she and McKenzie in my life. They feel like family.

So, it's now my turn to interview my mom--and I tried. Twice.

I love my mom, and she has had such an important role in shaping who I am, yet our interview didn't go at all as I had planned.

To be honest, I wasn't expecting to go as in depth as McKenzie and her mom, but I had hoped to have a warm and fuzzy heart-to-heart with my mom. Over the past few years, however, my mom's memory and her ability to communicate clearly has been, well, failing.

The saddest part is that I know that most of the time she has a clear idea of what she wants to say or do, but she isn't able to get out the right words. Sometimes she can't even get out words that are close.

For example, instead of saying, "Let's go to the grocery store" she might say, "Let's go to the place" or "I want to go to that building, the one with food."

Most of the time, I'm able to figure out, through listening carefully and asking questions, what she means, but sometimes I can't. I can't read her mind, and whatever she is trying to say might be too complex to guess at with a few questions and vague answers.

My mom and I live about 600 miles apart, and the past few months have been so difficult! Her brother, the uncle that my son and I live with, was diagnosed with a brain tumor on the very same day that my mom arrived for a visit on August 31st.


The stress of my uncle's health crisis threw my mom's memory problems into overdrive, so it is no surprise that her visit was not great.

My mom came back for another visit a few weeks ago and things were so much better! My uncle is doing well and my mom, while still worried and stressed, was much more relaxed and better able to communicate and remember things.

However, my mom's memory will never be what it once was. Her doctor hasn't diagnosed her with dementia, but does acknowledge that something is going on...

Despite this, I decided to take my mom out to a coffee shop so I could interview her. We found a Starbucks with a cozy couch and warm environment, got hot chocolate for her and a soy latte for me and settled in.

I started out asking my mom interview style questions, similar to the way McKenzie interviewed her own mom, but it became clear pretty quickly that this approach just wouldn't work. Instead, we ended up talking a little bit about my grandmother and her influence on both of us.

My mom told me that she grew up wanting to be just like her own mom--and in many ways that's exactly what happened! Both were teachers and both loved working with children in both formal and informal ways. They both valued reading and literacy, and both believed in making children feel safe and loved.

My mom told me that she felt like she was better off than her own mother in many ways, but particularly because by the time my mom had children, it was much more acceptable for a woman to both have a career and to be a parent. She thought her mom suffered sometimes from social expectations that women should stay home with the kids while men went off to work--my grandparents were both teachers and, in fact, met while teaching!

Even though my mom felt like she had it easier than her own mother when it came to having both a career and a family, she still felt a lot of pressure as a mom. She said it was hard for her to go to work every day, leaving her children with a sitter (we had the BEST daycare experience though!). She missed us while she was at work, but she also loved her job was always a trade off.

At this point, our conversation became quite difficult, and I'm not sure if it was because my mom was sad thinking about her own mother--my grandmother passed away when I was 12 years old--or if she was thinking about her brother's health or if it was just her memory problems cropping up and interfering. I think my mom, a quintessential people pleaser, also was feeling pressured to have the "perfect" or "right" answers, and I know she didn't want to disappoint me.

I love my mom and, despite the difficulties during the end of our interview and her ongoing memory problems, I am so grateful for the time we have been able to spend together over recent months and I look forward to many more visits.

My mom and her mom have been two of the most influential women in my life, and I cherish every second I have had with both of them.

Would you like to be featured in our Real Moms interview series? Or, is there someone you would like us to interview? If so, please leave a comment (they are moderated) with your contact details or email us HERE. We've love to learn more about you or about the women in your life!
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And, if you'd like to interview your own family members and start a family history that can be passed on to future generations, be sure to check out the book Preserve Your Family History: A Step-by-Step Guide for Interviewing Family Members and Writing Oral Histories by LeAnn R. Ralph. You can buy it HERE on Amazon, or click through the image below:
Preserve Your Family History: A Step-by-Step Guide for Interviewing Family Members and Writing Oral Histories by LeAnn R. Ralph

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Dogs, cats, chickens, and lizards! Oh my! 5 reasons to add pets to your family

Mom2MomEd Blog: Dogs, cats, chickens, and lizards! Oh my! 5 reasons to add pets to your family
In a past life I worked at a veterinary hospital. I was a vet tech, and it fulfilled my need to be around animals and made me question myself daily--why had I never gone to veterinary school?

I love animals.
My kids love them too.
My husband does not.

He views them as work, a nuisance, something else we have to schedule into our day and make time for in our already crunched schedules. He loves our dog, even our cat, but he could also happily live in a pet free house.

I could not--I need animals in my life!

At last count we had a bull mastiff, a black tuxedo cat, three chickens, and a bearded dragon. I could probably go for another dog and a few more chickens, but I'm in trouble for getting a lizard without asking so I better be on my best pet owning behavior for a while!

When I met my husband, I had a dog and a cat of my own and we got our bull mastiff together, knowing that he would be the dog that would grow up with our kids. The dog I brought into our relationship was already 14 years old at the time, so sadly he didn't get to spend much time with our children. We had our bull mastiff for about a year before our son was born. Immediately, our dog and son were best friends! Our pup was calm and patient and just what we had hoped he would be for our growing family.

Since I've never actually lived in a pet free household, I can't speak to how nice it would be to not have dog hair everywhere or additional mouths to feed and potty schedules to coordinate. However, I can speak to the benefits that our family has experienced from having pets.

Here are just a few:

1. Our kids immune systems are tough as nails.
Knock on wood....our kids never get sick. They were and are always covered in dog hair, giving dog kisses, getting kissed, running outside with the dog, walking him, and so on and so on. They are also often found with their face on the cat kissing him and trying to chase him around so they can cuddle him. I have no idea if there is any correlation between excessive dog hair and immune systems, but I can't help but think there is. I promise I do fact I do it a lot--just ask Malea! It's just impossible to keep up on it when you have a 140-pound dog that sheds non-stop!

2. Our kids have to worry about something other than themselves.
It's no secret that kids are egocentric. They want something and they want it now. The world revolves around them, right? When they don't feel like running errands and we need dog/cat/chicken/lizard food they have to go. It's non-negotiable. I wouldn't expect them to just not eat one night because I was too lazy to go to the store. They also need to learn that when you commit to taking care of another life, you are exactly that--committed. There's no "sometimes" allowed. It's all or nothing and nothing means no pets. End of story.

3. They are not easily grossed out.
This is a big one for me. Despite some things that petrify me, I'm seriously pretty hard to gross out. I think that is true of a lot of moms. We've seen it all right??? Anyway, my kids have to pick up poop, clean cages, rake chicken coops, and collect eggs that are sometimes covered in poop. They know how to clip wings, handle cockroaches, hold reptiles, and clean dogs ears. They've helped clean wounds, give baths, and trim toenails. My kids are 6 and almost 4, and I think that's pretty darn good life experience through being exposed to some less than lovely situations!

4. They get to build and grow relationships where they are the leader.
It's fun to watch your children gradually take on more and more responsibility. Once they do, their relationships with animals naturally grow! They then become the caregiver as well and essentially another "master" for their pets. I love watching my kids run outside and for the chickens to run right up to them because the animals know that the kids feed and care for them. I love that my kids have a level of trust with our dog that is based also on the fact that they care for his basic needs. It's pretty cool to watch.

5. They learn first hand about the circle of life.
We've had to put one of our dogs to sleep and we recently lost one of our beloved chickens to a raccoon. It was sad and very hard. We used those situations as teaching opportunities and talked about how life works. My kids have  seen our dog return to our home in the form of his ashes and learned that we can't control wild animals and that those animals need to eat too. Unfortunately, that means that sometimes dinner is someone's pet.

Most of all it's amazing to teach our kids that they are the part of a larger picture. I hope that their love of animals will help them to channel their interests as they get older and will provide them with an outlet that is positive instead of participating in some other teenage behaviors.

Do you include your children in the care of your pets? If so, what do they help with? If you don't have pets, I'm curious to hear your take on the things that kids can learn from having them or how you teach your children the above lessons in a pet free home. Let us know your thoughts!
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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Two super simple soups and a time saving kitchen tip for the cold winter months

Mom2MomEd Blog: Two super simple soup recipes and a time & money saving tip
If you've read our previous cooking-related posts, you'll know that McKenzie and I love soups and so do our families! 

Today, I have two super simple soups and a time saving tip for you!

The first soup is a slight variation on a pureed soup recipe sent to me by a friend after I had a stomach problem and was stuck on a liquid diet for several weeks. The second one resulted from a pantry and fridge clean out when I had lots of odds and ends without any clear meals jumping out at me. 

Get your stove tops ready and lets get cooking!

Creamy Broccoli and Asparagus Soup

1/2 bunch of asparagus, steamed
1/2 of a large crown of broccoli, steamed 
1 small baking potato, peeled, cubed, and either steamed or boiled
1 to 2 Tablespoons of sauteed diced onions
1.5 Cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
1/2 Cup full fat coconut milk
Salt and pepper

Steam your asparagus, broccoli, and potato using your preferred steaming method (I like a basket steamer in a pot with a lid on the stove; my stepmom uses her microwave). Saute your onions in a small frying pan. 

Combine the vegetables, broth, and coconut milk in your blender or a food processor and blend until smooth. Or, place everything in a stock pot and use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. 

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Delicious broccoli, asparagus, and potato soup

Ham and Veggie Soup

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Cup diced yellow or white onion
1 Cup diced celery
1 Cup diced carrots
1 Cup diced, pre-cooked ham2 tablespoons flour 
1/2 Cup wild rice mix
3 Cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
3 Cups water
Salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot and add onion, celery, carrots, and ham. Saute and stir over medium heat until onion and celery are translucent. Avoid browning the vegetables. Sprinkle with flour and stir to coat, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan. Add wild rice milk.

Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of broth and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add another 1/4 to 1/2 cup of broth and stir some more. Add the remaining broth and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the rice is cooked--about 15 to 20 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper as needed (the ham was salty enough that we didn't need to add much additional seasoning).
Super satisfying ham and veggie soup with wild rice

And, now for a tip...
My son and I absolutely loved both of these soups and will be making them several times more in the future! Before I wrap up, I also want to share a time saving kitchen tip with you! 

Have you ever seen mirepoix mix at the store? Several stores sell it, but it costs a lot more than buying the individual three ingredients and simply making it yourself! 

Maybe you haven't seen it and are wondering, what in the world is mirepoix mix?

Quite simply, it is a mix of equal parts diced carrot, diced onion, and diced celery. It is so incredibly simple to make and cheap too! Next time you are making soup, grab a bunch of extra onion, celery, and carrots and chop them into the same size diced pieces. Aim for an equal amount of each and then store them in containers in the fridge until you are ready to use them. While making the ham and veggie soup today, I chopped an extra 1.5 cups of celery, onion, and carrots (packed in containers of 1/2 cup of each ingredient) so I'm ready to go when we make another soup in a few days!

Making mirepoix mix ahead of time is super fast, super cheap, and will save you time chopping veggies in the future!
Homemade mirepoix mix for fast and easy soup prep
What are your favorite soups and kitchen tips? Share in the comments or over on Facebook! We'd love to hear from you!

If you love soups, your slow cooker, or casseroles, check out this terrific cookbook--Taste of Home Casseroles, Slow Cooker & Soups! My mom gifted me this cookbook years ago at Christmas and we have loved the heck out of it! The recipes are hearty, warming, and delicious, perfect for the winter! Click HERE* or on the image to get your own copy on Amazon:
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I'm the after Christmas Grinch....are you too?

Mom2MomEd Blog: I'm the after Christmas Grinch...are you too?
I seriously love Christmas time!

I love the festivities, the food, the lights, finding the perfect gift for the ones you love.
I basically love it all!

What I also LOVE (maybe even a teensie bit more so) is ripping down the holiday decorations and rearranging furniture so my house is finally clean again! I love how bare it feels, how plain, how much more my usual decorations stand out because I haven't seen them for a few weeks. I love dumping uneaten treats, purging items to make room for the new ones, and just the overall feeling of "OMG! I can breath again!"

I am a major creature of habit, and during the month of December we stay up later, are busier, eat differently, and are just a little off of our routine. I really do try to keep things as low key as possible (read about that HERE), but it can be pretty impossible to not veer off the tracks.

Yesterday (as I write this) was the day after Christmas....December 26th.

I was exhausted, maybe a smidge hungover, and l just had that general feel of yuckiness from not taking care of myself. I literally got up in the morning, poured a cup of coffee, and sat down instead of getting into my normal routine. But, before I knew it, I was moving just a few items into a pile for easier clean up. Next, I decided to sort through cards and toss them once I read them, and before I knew it the tree was magically un-decorated and was hauling itself outside to shed it's prickly needles away from my house.

All the while that this was going on, my kids were confused and wondering why we had to take the tree down today, and can't we just leave it up for a few more days?


No we cannot. In fact, we cannot leave it up for a few more minutes. In fact, my dear children, you're lucky I even left it up until Christmas at the rate it was shedding!

I am definitely one of those all-or-nothing type of people.

I try to find middle ground, but I can't ever seem to muster the energy for that. Maybe this can be a New Year's resolution.

During the holidays, I am either doing crafts, looking at lights, baking cookies, reading Christmas stories, planning, wrapping, etc, etc. etc.

OR I am doing NOTHING.

Once it's over, it's over for me.

I'm not good about buying discounted Christmas items for next year's gifts or decorating because, well, Christmas is OVER. It's not that time anymore. We're moving on.,..and moving on I did yesterday!

I know that a lot (aka most) people leave there tree up until New Year's or they take it down right before the New Year.

That's great....just not for me!

How long do you leave your tree up? Are you like me and can't wait to get your house put back together? What is your favorite thing about taking down your decorations?

And, while I'm on a roll, here are a few pictures of where Christmas once could be found at my house:

Image may contain: plant and indoor

I do enjoy having little lights all over my house so I didn't get entirely "bah humbug"--instead, I did leave up a few little lights for effect.

Who knows, I may be a total rebel and leave them up all year!
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Thursday, December 22, 2016

10 things I got RIGHT as a mom

Mom2MomEd Blog: 10 things I got RIGHT as a mom
Let's face it, this whole mothering thing is HARD work! It's so easy to feel like we've made mistakes and messed up (as I wrote about HERE), but you know what?

For all the mistakes and regrets, there is so much more that we get right!

Although I never grew up wanting to be a mom--my life plan from a young age was to be a single, carefree, childless woman of the world, working in Emergency Medicine and to travel when not working--being a mom has turned out to be the BEST thing I have ever done. Truly the best. I wouldn't want to undo this aspect of my life for anything.

My son is my world.
My son is my life.
My son is simply wonderful.

It has been a a wonderful gift to be my son's parent, and I hope you feel the same about your own children. 

Here are 10 things I feel like I got RIGHT as a mom:

1.  I hugged him A LOT.
As noted in THIS post, I am committed to hugging my son with the single rule that I hold on until HE lets go. I started doing this about 15 years ago, when my son was three years old. These hugs fill us with a sense of connection, and I think the hugs fill my son with a sense of safety and belonging.

I actually still hug him a lot...even when he doesn't want me to do so.

My son may be 18 years old, but he still needs his mama and this mama still needs her son. I don't plan to stop hugging him anytime soon, and he seems to be OK with that most of the time, often coming up and giving me hugs for no real reason other than that he wants to. 

2.  I played with him a lot
After I left my son's dad and got us out of that toxic environment, I made it a point to play with my son as often as I could muster the time and energy. We might play together for only 10 minutes or a few hours, but the point wasn't how long we played together, but rather that I was fully in the moment with my son. I also made it a point that we spent that time playing whatever my son wanted to play. Some of our favorite activities together were (and, actually still are):
  • building with Legos
  • drawing
  • having a doodle war (more on that in another post)
  • kicking around a soccer ball
  • taking a nature hike or river walk
  • going for a bike ride
  • reading together (especially Read-a-palooza style--read about it HERE)
I wish I could say I played with my son every single day--one of my regrets is that I didn't--but I did the best I could and I know I played with him and gave him my undivided attention a whole lot more than some other parents I have encountered.

My son still asks me to play with him, but now it is mostly video games. 

3.  I gave him adventure
Although some of our adventures were huge (moving cross-country TWICE), others were more modest but still adventurous compared to how many of our friends live their lives. We made regular outings to the local nature areas in our town, accessing them in many different areas to have multiple different experiences, and we toured a lot of different museums, landmarks, and other places of interest too. At one point, we took to letterboxing, an activity where you follow clues to find a hidden log book in which you leave a mark (usually an inked stamp mark). Letterboxing took us all over our city! You can google letterboxing, but I'll be sure to come back to it in a future post!

4.  I made him order for himself at restaurants
When I was a kid, I hated it when my dad made me place orders for myself, ask sales clerks questions I might have, and so on. I hated having to speak up for myself--I'm not just an introvert, but I also tend to be incredibly shy. 

My son is the same way.

I started making my son order for himself and ask questions at an incredibly early age. If you can't talk to someone just to order a meal, you are going to have a really hard time getting along in the world! My son is flying alone for the first time next week, and I know he'll be able to ask for help, if he needs it, because I laid the groundwork early.   

5.  I made him write thank you notes
Do you like to be acknowledged when you do something nice for someone else? Me too. My grandparents were HUGE on thank you notes and I started writing them as soon as I could soon as I could hold a pencil and form letters. I started my son doing the same. Initially he required a lot of guidance, but now writes thank you notes entirely on his own--even for things he didn't want or doesn't like (see McKenzie's great post on teaching children about gratitude HERE).

6.  I prioritized reading and literacy over technology
As early as my son's first week of life, I began reading to him. I read everything from children's books to my college textbooks to my son. If it had words and was worth our time and energy, I read it to him. My son quickly picked up on reading himself and before long we were reading together. You can read a lot more about our reading experiences and tips and tricks to build a family of readers HERE.

Although my son had access to computers and technology at a young age, I made sure we read books every night at bedtime, had books all over the house (even in the bathroom) and in the car, and so on. We still both frequently take books with us when we leave the house. In fact, my son is traveling to New York City next week and every time we travel more than an hour from home, I buy a new book for each of us or check books out from the library.

Additionally, at my house if you claim to be bored, I am likely to hand you a pile of guess what???


7.  Although I let him watch television from an early age, I implemented limits
As noted above, my son had access to technology early on. This included television. However, I did place limits on his television viewing. This included such things as no television during meals or snacks, limiting content that I deemed to mature, and strictly limiting violent content. Whenever possible, I encouraged reading instead of viewing. I believe this eventually helped my son to make better informed decisions about what was worth watching.

In fact, although I started talking to my son about ratings and such regarding video games, the practice of monitoring his television and movie viewing had a large part in his development of critical thinking skills, particularly in regard to media messages such as in commercials and other forms of advertising. Given the recent abundance of "false news" on Facebook and other social media, these early precautions have proven invaluable. Read more about teaching critical thinking with regard to media HERE.

8.  I was honest (but age appropriate) when he had questions about s-e-x.
At some point, all kids become curious about where they came from. That, of course, leads into conversations about sex... And, even if your kids don't necessarily have questions specifically about sex, they will hear about it at some point from their peers or from television or movies or the internet.

Your kids WILL be exposed to sex before they are ready...

Think about it--when was the last time you watched prime time television and didn't hear at least a vague reference to sex, if not an all out explicit mention or discussion about it? Commercials and advertising are filled with sexual content.

While you don't have to give your children the whole scoop on sex until they are older, it can be beneficial to make sure they understand some basics from a young age. In particular, they should know the basics of how their own body works and that mommies and daddies have different body parts.

My son's dad did a terrible job of talking to our son and gave him all kinds of misinformation. Thankfully, my son was savvy enough to figure that out and one day said to me, "Mom, I think daddy told me some things wrong about sex. Can you tell me the right stuff?"

A great way to start off any such conversation is to ask your child what they already know or think and go from there. I did just that and asked my son what his dad had told him. We went piece by piece through what his dad had said, and we talked about each item and the truth about each. I then went just a step further.

I believe in telling your child as much as they are comfortable with and then just a tiny bit more. You don't want to gross out or disgust your child, but you do want to make sure they are properly informed and not relying on media or friends for information.

And, above all, make sure your child has information to help keep him or herself safe when it comes to stranger danger, improper touching, and using protection if and/or when they have sex (hopefully not until they are 40 years old, right???). I also believe in talking to kids about the realities of sex and how it is a responsibility to be taken seriously--Personally, I told my son, "If you aren't ready to have and take care of a child on your own, you aren't ready to be having sex."

9.  I was OK with saying NO (a lot).
If you want to raise a spoiled brat that believes the world owes them everything and they shouldn't have to work or be responsible, that is your choice. However, I wanted to ensure that my son was able to be a responsible, functioning member of society, capable of taking care of himself. I believe saying NO plays a big role in that!

Your kids don't need every single toy they want. They don't need every cereal in the row at the grocery store. They don't need to go to every single movie, have every single video game, or to stay up late.

It's OK to say NO. And, to say NO a lot.

Your children rely on you to enforce limits and boundaries. It is part of how they form their views of the world and their place in it. Saying no to your child also helps them learn to deal with rejection which they will have a lot of when they get old--rejection from playmates, from love interests, from jobs, and so much more.

If you don't say no often enough, your children will turn out to be spoiled brats. 

10.  I got us OUT of an abusive situation.
The absolute most important thing I got right as a mom was to leave an abusive situation. My son's dad was, unfortunately, an abusive person. He was primarily verbally, mentally, and emotionally abusive, but he also had started to physical lash out at my son in the couple of months before I left. Thankfully, my son doesn't remember a lot of that and I got us out before the damage and abuse were worse. 

I am sure there are other things I got right as a mom, and many more that I will get right in the future. There are probably a whole lot of mistakes that I've made beyond the ones in THIS post, but overall, I think I'm doing a pretty good job as a parent.

What about you? What are you doing right as a parent? What advice would you give to other moms and dads or parents-to-be on how to do a good job of raising their children? Post a comment and let us know!
Want to ramp up your parenting mojo? If nothing else, read THIS book! I read it when my son was three years old, and it changed everything about our relationship:
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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Teaching kids to be grateful--is it possible?

Mom2MomEd Blog: Teaching your kids gratitude--is it possible?
Sometimes I wonder if it's possible to teach young children (and older ones too) how to be grateful. I know they are sponges and are always soaking up their environment, so if we model how to be grateful they should pick it right up, right?


Not only will they not necessarily pick up how to be grateful, but they will also embarrass you at the most inopportune times with how ungrateful they actually are!

We happen to have two kids who have birthday's almost immediately after Christmas. My son's just so happens to be 10 days after. Yes, 10 days. I have a summer birthday and always thought it was awesome to receive gifts throughout the year.

My kids, however, pretty feel like they get gifts, gifts, and more gifts once per year and then, what? No more gifts?


Not only is there a TON  of kid stuff flying in and out of here, especially with Christmas followed by two birthdays, but we also are bound to have duplicate gifts some point. This is why I've made sure my kids understand: It's the thought that counts.

If someone gives you something that they think you will enjoy you say, "Thank you."

That is all.
You don't add a "But...." or an "I wish..." or an "I already have...."  

You just say, "Thank you."

This is a big time pet peeve of mine.

I went to a birthday party when Hank was a baby, and the child opening the gifts got two of the same things. Instead of saying thank you, there were full on tears and meltdowns because everyone should know that they were going to get a duplicate. The parent coddled the child, the child continued to cry, and I'm sure the gift givers felt bad. I felt annoyed, personally, and I vowed to make sure that my child would NEVER act like that. (I've learned now to never say never because our children are all bound to embarrass us at some point).

As early as it was feasibly possible, my husband and I started practicing being grateful with our kids. I know that modeling behavior is beneficial, but role playing is my go to when teaching my kids how to act in certain situations.

I mean, practice makes perfect, right???

I remember wrapping up toys that my son already owned and having him open them. Inside of some packages were his favorite toys, but others had items like a baby spoon or junk mail--things he wasn't interested in.

My son opened each packaged and then practiced saying, "Thank you so much! I love it."  We also practiced saying thank you if you get a duplicate gift and just setting it aside with the knowledge that I would help him to exchange the duplicate for something else later.

Now, with my daughter, she has not only her parents to model gratitude and grace for her, but also her brother.

While my kids are far from perfect, (and do say the wrong things at the worst possible times) I can honestly say that receiving gifts has been something that they have graciously done so far. I know that they get overly excited, can't wait to open presents, and can also give me a list a mile long of all of the things they "want", but over the last few years, they have learned to be appreciative of someone giving them gifts, even things they weren't that into.

In fact, this morning, my little guy looked at me and said, "You know what I'm most excited about this Christmas, Mom? It's spending time with my family."

Cue proud mommy moment and waterworks!  Whew!

While I have made a ton of parenting mistakes, yelled too many times at my kids, lost my mind, and tried to hide alone in the bathroom, I have also apparently done something right.

'Tis the season of chaos and gifts. You can't really get around it.

I'm challenging you to step back and think of one thing you've done right with or for your children this holiday season......and pat yourself on the back for that job well done!

What are some parenting things that you are most proud of? Do you have a parenting pet peeve, like I do, that really gets under your skin?  Share your experiences in the comments!

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We'll see ya next time!