what do you do when the lights go out?

roast marshmallows over the fire

if you don't have a fireplace - a candle works too

find as many candles and flashlights as you can

and play dino monolopy jr until the lights come back on.......


who are these parents raising MONSTERS???

are you cringing?

i did

but why are you cringing? b/c parents are being blamed or b/c kids are being called monsters........

this morning on good morning america i watched a story about a 15 year old girl from MA that committed suicide b/c she had been cyber-bullied. during the story they flashed to a townhall meeting where parents had gathered to discuss the situation. a number of parents stood up to voice their concern. one man in particular stood up and yelled something along the lines of "who are these parents raising these MONSTERS??" to which he received cheers and applause....and the story continued.  the final comment made by the reporter was something like "and one parent stood up and said to remember that these really are good kids"  .....phew.

it is so easy to label our children as good or bad. it is even easier to label someone ELSE'S children as good or bad. you eat your veggies - what a good boy! you don't want to go to sleep - why are you being so bad? i've done that to my kids. i've done it to my nieces and nephews (for the record only the ones that are like my kids LOL). it wasn't done maliciously - it was almost done in a sing song way - mainly to get them to do something i wanted them to do. i know that isn't right and i've been really trying to avoid the good/bad adjective - but that's not really what i am talking about now.

its bad enough that kids call each other names........but i believe its so much worse when adults call kids names...big names like misfit, loser, rude.............monsters. before kids i was a full time teacher....and believe me there is plenty of kid bashing in the teacher's lounge. since kids i've been involved in their schools....and believe me there is plenty of kid bashing in the parking lots too. i don't like being in a conversation when a kid or kids are being bashed. if i find myself stuck in this situation i find myself sticking up for the child - either finding a positive trait about him/her or pointing out that its hard being a kid or whatever else i can think of at that moment. most times that halts the bashing - either b/c they see i am not joining in or maybe b/c i've given the speaker something to think about.

now don't get me wrong - i'm no innocent. sometimes i find myself in a conversation with a close friend or relative and i'm blowing off steam or upset about a situation and suddenly realize that i am bashing a child.........but once i make that realization i stop...but then i usually feel real bad.......

i feel bad b/c i really believe that its not the child's fault that he or she is acting out or bullying or stealing or engaging in whatever negative behaviour they are engaging in. i believe that if a child is acting in a way that is negative - parents should take a moment to see what they are doing - or NOT doing - to cause their child to act out in that way.

i think about the times my boys act out....and i'm not talking about the once in awhile acting out...i'm talking about the times i find myself asking "what is his problem lately??? why is he being so bad all the time???" that is when i stop and look at what I'VE been doing lately............am i on the computer too much? am i fighting with my husband? am i depressed over my weight? usually the answer is yes - i am doing one or more of those things.........and thus completely ignoring my boys simply b/c i just don't want to be bothered with them.

in today's society there is texting and facebook and email. there are broken homes and affairs and loneliness. there is unhappiness and dissatisfaction with oneself. for every happy family you can name - i'm pretty sure there are 10 unhappy families you can also name.

its a vicious cycle - adults are unhappy and in an attempt to find happiness they are distancing themselves from their kids.

"just let me finish watching this show"

"not now honey i'm on the computer"

"i'll play as soon as i am done here on the computer"

i guess i am focusing on the computer b/c i have found myself saying just those things......and you know what? i didn't always play as soon as i was done online - i was actually happy when they walked away and found something to do - giving me 10 more minutes...........

i am not implying at all that adults can't take time for themselves. in fact - i am saying that it should be mandatory that adults take time for themselves! when i go out for a mno or take a class for myself - i come home HAPPY to see my kids and wanting to cuddle and kiss them. when i lose myself online - without REAL interactions - i'm not so happy........just like some adults need the quick pat on the back or immediate praise that facebooking or twittering gives - kids need the same attention.  it doesn't take a lot to make a child happy.  just give them 5 minutes of undivided attention to listen to their recap of their favorite show -  and you'll see how smoothly the household runs.  do i think that simply being present with your child and giving them attention is enough to solve all the bullying problems?  will it solve all the feelings of lonlieness in a parent?  well i feel like i should say no - b/c there is no black or white answer - but i honestly feel it will make a HUGE difference. 

so before you call a child a monster - take the time to stop and remember that if you look behind every monster - you are most likely to find an evil scientist working the controls......


let the race begin!

its pinewood derby time! this was our first year involved in it and we had NO idea what to expect.  we knew it was a big deal - lots of competition - lots of complaining about the dads doing all the work - but we did our best....

both my boys made a car but only my youngest was in the actual race.  his is the bottom tank car. 
we did the cutting of the wood for him and he did the painting.  this is actually the second paint job.  as i was giving him the colors to apply - i gave him white last........and it was bright.  so when he walked away for it to dry - i tried to make it less bright by applying a bunch of colors on top of it.  eventually it looked like a big ole mess - so my husband and i decided to just repaint it all green and have e start over.

big mistake

poor e came in and just cried and cried that we had decided that it didn't look nice b/c he thought it looked perfect just the way it was


he was absolutely right - it was his car.  after much apologizing by us - he repainted it and luckily was just as happy with his car the second time around.  major lesson learned by us parents.

he came in 32nd place out of 64.  smack dab in the middle!  we were very happy with that!
they gave away awards for design.  one was for most patriotic.  there were only 2 army tank cars in the race...the other boy's won

the other boy's car looked like his father did the paint job
i guess that dad didn't learn the same lesson we did

i tried not to show my annoyance with that

but e didn't care
b/c he still got an award for participating

and then i didnt care either

guess that makes 2 lessons i learned that nite


fitting in? or this is what you get for reading so many blogs.......

this morning i stumbled upon julia's post about glimpses - which led me to nicola's post about fitting in and what really struck me as interesting (and i'll admit made me sigh with relief) was that the blogs i visit daily and inspire me are written by women who Still struggle with wondering if they fit in or not.  i assume that happens with newbie bloggers like myself - but i really thought that once you've been around the block and have developed a steady list of followerers - that your insecurities would lessen.

when i first started reading blogs - i made myself so depressed.  here were blogs of women who can craft like i dreamed of crafting - with beautifully decorated homes filled with vintage items and handmade crocheted curtains. it was horrible!  i even mentioned it as a facebook status - something about not knowing whether these blogs inspire me or depress me!  so one day i sat down and decided where i wanted to be in my life right then....and at that moment crafting wasn't it.  i wanted to be inspired to stop and smell the roses. i felt like i had gotten to a point in my life where i had forgotten how to do that.  i wanted to read about women focusing on their children.  read about daily trips to the woods and packing a picnic lunch for a playground.  i wanted to see pictures of pretty blue tableclothes covered with mason jars filled with candles surrounded by plates of food picked fresh from the garden............these were the things i wanted to be inspired by.  so i deleted my list of craft blogs and focused on the blogs that fit this bill.  part of that list is still here in my blog roll - women that i visit everyday.

and you know what - i WAS inspired and i wanted to do these things - and suddenly i started DOING these things.  i enjoy writing and taking pictures (and seeing the other blogs opened up a whole new way of taking pictures for me!) so i started my own blog b/c that was the perfect way to do both.  i was just telling my friend cindy again - when i write i just pretend that i am writing to a whole slew of my peers and it makes it easy.  do i think i have a whole slew of women reading me daily - hell no! i know cindy reads me and even then most times i have to remind her that i added a new post!! but that is ok - b/c my writing the posts that i do keeps me in check and helps me find the good in my days.  do i sometimes plan a shot or an event with the perfect blog post in mind? sure.  but that's not a bad thing at all!  so many self help books will say in order to be happy or be thin or be successful you have to act that way....and sometimes at first you have to pretend you are that way.......but  then eventually you won't be pretending anymore.  and that is where i feel i am heading as compared to the person i was when i started!  i dont want the negative blog b/c that is not what i want to remember from my day.  keeping the focus on the postives brings more positives.

so i love reading the blogs i do.  i love seeing a new way to photograph a scene - or set a table - or take a hike.  and know what - i feel like i've rediscovered that part of myself and i don't need to find that side anymore.  in fact - i find i am being drawn to craft blogs again.  it is like i am ready for that new stage in my life. and i'm excited by that!  my craftroom is being cleaned.  i am planning projects...and i bet soon enough i'll be posting more about the different things i've made.  

so am i depressed by blogs anymore? absolutely not.  i am grateful for the inspiration and i crave it. my only goal in life is to keep trying and keep improving....and the women i read daily help me do just that.


Lily the bear - watch a live cub birth

i've been following her for over a week now.  lily is in active labor and hopefully we will soon see cubs.

see her live here!!!


for the soul - birth on the farm

sometime within the past 24 hours this little lamb was born

my parents live in an old farmhouse on a very busy street.  there are 3 commercial businesses on their property and a housing development in their backyard.  smack dab in the middle are sheep and chickens.

this time of the year is filled with phone calls from my dad announcing the latest birth of his lambs.  some single births - some twins - and always with a description of color.  we jokingly say he loves his sheep and chickens more than he loves his own kids.  you see my father is disabled.  he can walk and even drive - but its slow and labored.  his hands don't work like they once did - yet he is still a very hard working man and fills his days going here and there overseeing a variety of projects he has going on.  but what really keeps him going is caring for the sheep and chickens.  he scatters feed and gathers eggs.  he fills the hay bins and herds the sheep inside when need be.  he'll complain when they escape into neighboring yards and rejoice at each new birth.  these animals give him a purpose to get out of bed - something he says he didn't understand as a poor boy living on a farm in italy - but he understands now.

i can see the sheep through my window at work.    somedays i walk outside and absentmindedly start "baa"ing to noone in particular.  sometimes i get a response - most times i don't. 

i'll admit i take them for granted now....mainly b/c they've always been here.  i don't really think about them unless i see the kids going to visit them, or i catch my dad feeding them......or in moments like today where there is a birth and i can marvel at the wonders of nature.  there are a couple more pregnant sheep in the herd.  soon there will be more birth announcements.  i think its time i stop taking them for granted. 

starting today i am determined give my mind/body/soul a daily dose of nourishment.  looks like i covered my soul food for the day.

today's smoothie:

2 cups water

1 large handful arugula

1 cup frozen mango chunks

1 peeled whole lemon


this pretty much sums it up................

this is how i feel lately. 

my eating is crap.  i'm a vegetarian - i love veggies, love greens, love beans, love grains!!!!  i could be the poster child for vegetarianism!  but nope - it's been highly processed - hfcs laden crap for me lately and i feel it.............everywhere.  i'm sluggish, i'm overweight, i'm weak. 

i'm 41 and holy cow the womanly changes that occur are wigging me out!

its winter and lack of daylight and cold days that keep me inside depress me

add to that the fact that dh is still unemployed and i'm trying to get my stuff together to get on the sub list in our district.........so that stress is being piled on.

all that makes me a less than patient mom and that saddens me too

but - the only thing that doesn't suck right now is my attitude.  while i may have my moments - overall my attitude is optimistic. i'm grateful for that gift - the gift of hope.  i like being a "glass half full" person.  but sometimes a positive attitude isn't enough.  its time to get my rear in gear.  being positive is not making my thighs any smaller - my muscles any stronger or my motivation any.......um.......motivating? 

so its time - and i'm making myself accountable by posting here.  i am changing my eating.  i am going to exercise and get outside at least 15 minutes every day.  i am going to limit my daily computer use too.  last year during Lent i got online only once a day.  it was a  hard 40 days but it was an eye-opening 40 days.  even though i wasn't on a lot - being online more than once a day sucks a lot of life out of you.  so i am going back to only once a day online....well except for the 2 days a week i am at work. i am going to nurture myself.  heather is giving a week of ideas that are wonderful!!!!!

i am also giving the green smoothie challange another shot.  and i am posting it all here for awhile.......

so there!  God willing i have another 40+ years left to live - years that i have total control over.  i have one body.  i know there will be ups and downs - but i am determined to always look up when there is a down and not give up.  i always tell my husband that i have faith that one day i will kick myself in the ass and get back into shape........lets hope its this time ;-)

on a side note - check out the Hearts for Haiti update on blanket donations!


its a heat wave!

well not really - but its been in the 40s and the low 50s the past couple of days and it sure feels that way!  my husband and i took the opportunity friday afternoon for a quick hike before it was time to get the boys.  we are very lucky to have a state park across the street so we grabbed our boots and off we went.

this is the only trail the boys don't complain too much about going on - mainly b/c we like to pretend to stumble upon what i call the ruins

i really have no idea what they once were -
but the boys (who are war buffs) like to pretend they are from WWII.

at this point it is usually where we have to stop and turn around - but this time we got to go further

and explore some more

it was so peaceful

i didn't even mind when my husband
kept telling me to please stop photographing the rocks....

sometimes they just don't get it.


A lot going on! The Hearts Campaign (hearts for haiti)

i have started a new blog focusing solely on the hearts campaign. that is what i am calling my new mission to make a connection to a child who finds himself a victim of a disaster - by providing them with handmade heart pillows and dolls (and blankets - but i will provide more info on that once definite) in an effort to make them feel there is hope.

i'd like to keep this blog separate.  i just feel weird posting happy times and family crafts one day - then discussing disaster and sadness the other!  but i'll still use this to link over when need be!

i am so excited to be starting this initiative!  this is the the first step in my desire to do mission work oversees sometime in the future (after my boys are grown and out on their own!)

finally - i was looking at a vision board i created last year and right there in the bottom right corner was a whole section of mission work pictures - images i was drawn to and wanted to see manifest themselves into reality. 

looks like now is the time!!


i can't sit back this time............Hearts for Haiti

when disaster strikes - locally or internationally - i want to help
but i never know what to do
or if i have an idea - i don't know where to start

this is my year to just jump in

i spent last night thinking about what i can do for the children in haiti
the scared
the lonely
the orphaned

my heart goes out to them
and this is how i got my idea for hearts for haiti

my idea is to make heart shaped pillows - each with a pocket on the back that holds a doll.  the doll is a very simple one with either a skirt or pants sewn on and heart on the chest (the heart on the doll matching the fabric of the pillow)  i would use recycled fabrics as much as i could.

lisa from rosamund is interested in helping with this idea of creating something personal for the victims in haiti. 

i am going to present this idea to my boys' home and school association and my church to see if i could get the children involved b/c quite frankly its for children and how special to receive something from children!  wouldn't it be great if we could get children from all around this country to make these pillows?

i have no idea how many we'd actually make or how we would get them to haiti and into the hands of the children.............but quite honestly i think if we just make the pillows - God will do the rest.

will you consider joining?  even if your family wants to make a pillow/doll and send it to me to add to whatever we make that would be wonderful!!

edited to add - i am starting a new blog to focus solely on the hearts campaign with our first project being hearts for haiti! come join us!


perspective - haiti

this morning i didn't want to make lunch for the boys b/c i was feeling crabby. then i got mad b/c they didn't want to eat the school lunch which was an oven baked cheese sandwich. so i stomped around the kitchen - slapping mayo on bread, putting chips and hummus in a container, filling water bottles from a 5 gallon jug.......

i rushed the boys out the door b/c we were late. they chose which coat to wear - which shoes to put on - which hat they wanted on their head........

in haiti they don't have these problems. their problems are on a much grander scale. they can't fight with their children........b/c their children have died. they can't offer a choice for lunch....b/c they have no food.

it is heartbreaking to think about the people whose lives have been wiped out or ripped apart.

please consider donating to your organization of choice. there are many out there from which to choose. Care is one such organization. find one you are comfortable with and help if you can.

times like this i wish i could do more than just send money into cyber space. i wish i could organize some type of collection - but for what? and where would i send it? how do you decide what they need? what you can offer? wouldn't it be great if we us bloggers can work together to set up a collective collection in our homestates? if anyone knows of anything like that - please let me know. maybe we can start together from the ground up.


the winter sky

i tried so hard to capture the color of the sky tonite. it was the most amazing shade of orange/red that i've ever seen. the boys said it looked it like we were driving into a volcano. we kept passing the camera around the car - each of us trying to take the best picture...but it was hard. the sun was setting so quickly and i was driving in traffic so we were constantly passing cars and houses and telephone poles and wires.
i'm not a huge fan of the winter months. i don't like it cold and i especially hate when its dreary.
......but that winter sky
colors you never equate with the sky - red and orange, purple and pink......all find the time to make an appearance........in the winter.......and if you are lucky - you catch those times.
the boys and i were glad we did just that - tonite.


new year's eve 2009

every year we have a new year's eve party for our family and friends and all our kids. throughout the years people drift in and out of attendance - mostly in as more and more of our family members have children. it is always a such a great time and the perfect way to ring in the new year.

this year the boys made the decorations.

my husband and i wanted to do something alittle different this year. so - we decided to host a murder mystery. we made profiles for every guest - exaggerated caricatures really - and man was that fun. i will admit - my husband did most of the writing. i set up the basic outline - pairing the individuals and coming up with motives.....and dh put it all together. while i prepared the food - he would ask for a word or plot twist - and i'd shout back my reply.

i must admit - it was brilliant! we really thought some of the stuff we wrote was oscar worthy! (ok - maybe not - but it was pretty darn funny)

.......thankfully our guests thought so too

here is the murderer. it was our birthday present to her.

b/c on new year's eve she turned 18.

sometimes you can't find an 8 candle - so you have to improvise

.....soon it was time to ring in the new year. the adults found themselves in front of the tv watching dick clark's countdown

while the kids had a very loud parade......

maybe next year i'll pass out the noisemakers seconds before the countdown......not 30 minutes.

you know - regardless of the type of year you had.......i find that making the most out of the last few hours before ringing in the new one - can help you forget most of the bad times you may have had.
at least it does for me.