I Don’t Tell My Kids – ‘Vote Your Conscience’

‘Vote your conscience’!

I do not teach my kids ‘Vote your Conscience!’ Do You? I am telling my children to Pray!

I'm a mom of 9 kids and I don't teach my kids to blindly vote your conscience but to pray‘Vote your conscience’ is definitely the thing to say in this crazy election season. We Americans are turning out to be a very passionate group of people, therefore, we are often to the point of being very rude. Opinions are flying back and forth with wild abandon. Political conversations are getting heated and quickly becoming very uncomfortable.

If you want to get out of the argument with overly passionate people, just say, “Vote your conscience”. 😉 Maybe, you’re not really up on the issues, just say, “I’m going to vote my conscience”. Or, if you don’t want to admit who you’re voting for, just say, “I’m going to vote my conscience and you should, too”.

It’s a great cop-out line!

It’s a great line to use if you want to appear to be taking the high ground on an issue because you don’t actually know all the facts.

We use the word conscience out of context; especially definition #3. It sounds like I’m slamming the word, but I’m talking about how we use it.

Conscience (Noun)

  1. The inner sense of what is right or wrong in one’s conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action: “to follow the dictates of conscience.” (Can be used as an excuse to do or not do something)
  2. The complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual. (Says who? What is your measuring stick?)
  3. An inhibiting sense of what is prudent: “I’d eat another piece of pie but my conscience would bother me.” – (False guilt – haha, I say this all the time)

I'm a Mom of 9 and I don't tell them to vote your conscience, I tell them to prayWhat dictates or controls your conscience? Is there an angel or a devil on I'm a Mom of 9 and I don't tell my kids to vote your conscience, I tell them to prayyour shoulder? Which one do you listen to? If you’re like me, you might be tempted to listen to the wrong one. I am definitely influenced and shaped by those around me.

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”? (Jim Rohn-Business Insider) If you don’t have a foundation and a strong sense of who you are and what’s right and wrong, your associates will ‘shape your conscience’.

Vote your conscience? Be careful; your conscience will go with your feelings.

It is so easy to be talked into other people’s opinions. I watch and listen to ads, news stories, polls and people’s opinions. If I believed everything I heard and saw, I’d be convinced that one candidate was amazing. The next day I’d be convinced that the other candidate was amazing. If my beliefs and opinions are based on what I hear from our media, I would form a strong, definite opinion. I could say with great conviction, that I will vote my conscience and believe that I was absolutely right.

It’s so funny, because while I actually know that the media manipulates me, I’m still swayed when I hear them speak with great conviction. My friends state very strongly, the pros and cons of a certain candidates. I know that they’re quoting their own chosen sources and they are being subconsciously manipulated, too. If you are willing to choose your favorite TV station and absolutely believe what they’re telling you, then you’ll be able to vote your conscience based on the info you’ve been given. News people are very believable.

But what if they’re lying?!

We’ve been having frequent, intelligent conversations with the kids about the candidates and the issues. It’s a scary time in America right now. I think we all know that the media is not unbiased with their news but, it is definitely fascinating. It’s a privilege to be living through such a transitional time in history and I hope our votes will make a positive difference.

We doing our best to follow credible people in the news, on social media and in person, as I’m sure you are, too. It’s impossible to understand and know all the issues. Do your best! Be an example to others by sticking by your principles and not compromising.

I'm a Mom of 9 and I don't tell my children to vote your conscience, I tell them to prayThe most important thing you can do is to teach your babies to Pray. Help them understand that having Wisdom is what we need to have. Therefore, only place to get real wisdom is from God, and He will give us wisdom if we ask. 

Wisdom is not being really smart and being able to win Trivial Pursuit. ‘Wisdom is knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.’ We have people in our country who are whipper snapper smart but they don’t make good and wise choices. (Your conscience cannot come up to the level of Gods knowledge – Joseph Prince)

Explain to your little dears the foundations that your principles are based on. When your principles are based on The Bible, you are Golden. Help your little dears understand how important it is to ask God to help them make the right decision. Teach them to obey God. Tell them to ask Him to speak to their conscience, spirit, mind, soul, heart because then, and only then, will they vote their conscience and their conscience will be right.

We teach our babies every day by words and by example. You do too, even though you may not realize it. Even though we’re not teaching them perfectly every day, they learn from us, whether we’re talking politics or puppies.

I am not telling my kids who to vote for. I want them to freely make their own decision. Having said that, I can’t be quiet about what I’ve learned and which one I think would be the best pick 🙂I love flowers, they're like the ribbon on top. I can help add beauty to Moms by encouraging you and telling you stories of the many things I've learned over the years

Live by principles and this will shape and develop a conscience that you can trust. Be careful what your principles are base on. Teach Godly principles to your children. Sign up for My Free Report and I’ll give you tips for raising your little dears, awesome stories and encouragement.

Your principles are your code. Do you agree? Tell me what you think. Surely I’ve made you mad, or very happy, because you have someone who agrees with you.



Successful Double Wedding? You need 5 Things!

Well, we did it. We successfully made it through 2 of our kids getting married at the same time, at the same church, with the same pianist and the same wedding coordinator and the same reception.  We used the same poor lady at the church to organize us all and we certainly gave her a run for her money. None of us had ever been to a double wedding, let alone planned one before. The funny thing was that when we announced the double wedding, no one assumed that we meant that it would be together, together! A lot of people thought we meant a week apart, or on the same weekend a day apart, but not us. We did it all together. I loved it.

T have a Successful Double Wedding, 4 people and 3 families need to show love, kindness and unselfishness with each other. I'm so proud of my kids. What a beautiful double wedding we had

Events overlap in a big family, so when our daughter, Abby, got engaged at Christmas time and said they wanted to get married soon, we had to figure something out quick. Michael and Nicole were already planning their wedding in 4 months. They started talking about different possibilities and came up with the idea of getting married together. I thought this was a crazy idea, but they were excited about it. Everyone wondered how they would get along and not get upset with each other, but that was no problem at all.

The challenge for us was in working out the details and one of the trickiest things was communication. I know, you’re thinking that communication is easy these days and it doesn’t matter where you are: Skype, Hangouts, Face Time, etc. but it’s not always that simple. With Abby in Oregon, Pete in Calgary, Michael and Nicole in Texas and the rest of us in Michigan, there were time zones, jobs and just plain old time constraints! The moment someone would have a great idea and we’d want to talk about it, someone else was sleeping or at work. But it all turned out to be absolutely amazing and truly beautiful. I’m so proud of everyone. It was the event of the season for our family.

You need 5 things to have a successful double wedding and I’m not talking about pretty flowers or big diamond rings. You need:

1. Unselfishness

Without being incredibly unselfish, the stress of it all will bring out the dark side! How do you agree with someone else on how to do your day if you are very selfish?! This is the day every girl dreams of, right? If you don’t get to have your own way with everything you ever dreamed of and wanted, wouldn’t that be unfair? I proud of them for being very unselfish.

2. Generosity

What I mean by that is to have a generosity of heart. An attitude that says, I want to give to the other person so they’ll be happy. It’s a word that means you’re willing to give or give in to another person even though it’s your day. What if you want pink and frills, and the other girl wants black and gold, you can’t resolve this if you’re not generous in your heart towards each other. There was only so much money for the wedding and it had to be shared between them and I watched them work together to make it all beautiful.

3. Flexibility

Ouch, being flexible can be a real toughie. It’s your day, right? So why shouldn’t you have things the way you want, and to have to be flexible, ugh, that means that you don’t get your own way. The ceremony was really tricky to plan out. 2 Brides, 2 Grooms, 3 sets of Mom’s and Dad’s. That was at least 10 people with important, valid thoughts and opinions! Now factor in 2 sets of bridesmaids, 2 sets of groomsmen, and 2 pastors. There was so much give and take and everyone was really sweet. Not only were they flexible with each other, but their bridesmaids and groomsmen put their own needs aside and really served the 2 couples.

4. Kindness

Kindness is the opposite of selfishness. Kindness involves the action of love. The girls planned so much of their double wedding together on the phone, for months before, but when they arrived at my house, 2 1/2 weeks ahead of time, all I saw was 2 girls having so much fun, doing all kinds of wedding, shower and bachelorette things together. I couldn’t have been happier with them. They treated each other with absolute kindness. You Go, Girls! In case you think I’m forgetting the guys.

The Guys were both the coolest;  Calm, not demanding, they tried to please their women; They rocked it!

5. Love

Love does not envy or boast. Love does not insist on its own way. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never ends. This is what I saw happen at their double wedding. 2 couples who were unselfish and very loving to each other.

Credit goes to Pastor Brady Courtner for setting the tone right away at the beginning of the ceremony. He created an atmosphere that day, so that each couple not only had a double wedding that was so fun and shared with each other, but he made it 100% special and personal for each of them.  

There’s so much of the talk in our culture that its all about –  ‘My day’  When girls are planning their dream wedding, the idea that ‘It’s my day’, goes completely against the 5 qualities that it takes to share a wedding. It is sort of the height of self-centeredness. But even if you’re not sharing your day with another couple, the 5 qualities that are needed to have a successful double wedding, are the same qualities it takes to have a successful single wedding and a successful marriage. There is no ‘my’ about it.

A wedding is a time for 2 families (3 in our case) to come together to celebrate the joining together of a man and a woman in holy matrimony, to bless them, to celebrate them and to give to them with their time, money and love.

Do you agree with me?

Mom Shaming

Have you ever been shamed by another Mom, stranger or not; just when you least expected it?  I read this great article, written by a sweet young mother, named Jessica. I know her indirectly through her family. She wrote this great story about her experience with Mom Shaming and I admire her so much.

There are some things about the Mom biz that I find very easy for me. I bet there are things about being a Mom that come naturally to you as well. Some of the Mom duties, that are easy and obvious to me, were probably taught to me by my own mother. I learned some of the tricks of the trade by watching her in action all of my growing up years. Not everyone has the advantage and blessing of having a good Mom, and not everyone has a Mom still available to them as a resource either. The training you get from your own Mom is like your default setting. The things you’ve learned to do from her are things you don’t even have to think about it.

Mom Shaming, Shame on You! I think mom shaming is becoming a thing, and as a sahm I believe we mom's need to encourage each other.

When I read Jessica’s article, I didn’t automatically put myself in her place, the young mother with the new baby, the one getting shamed. I have 9 children and I’ve been in the Mom biz for many years. I haven’t been ‘shamed’ for a long time. I instantly put myself in the place of the other mother, doing the shaming. I had this horrible feeling that I might have done some shaming in my time. Please forgive me! I didn’t do it on purpose (like the lady in the story), but I have probably sent out a signal or two that clearly gave out the message that another Mom wasn’t up to par in the mothering department. I’ve probably even given some well-meaning advice that didn’t come across as generously as I’d meant it to be. Please forgive me again! When you have a natural ability in one area, and you see someone else struggling in that same area, it seems hard to believe that anyone could screw it up when it so easy.

On the other hand, if you don’t have a certain natural ability, or learned skill, and someone else does, it seems like they have some kind of super power that you could never have. Everyone struggles with a low self-esteem at times, and no one is good at everything all the time. Being a first time Mom can bring out all your insecurities, because you just can’t know all the right moves for every situation that comes along.

This is where you need to make a decision if another Mom makes you feel badly. Do I take the advice from some other condescending Mom or not? If you are silly enough to be comparing yourself to another, seemingly more accomplished Mom, ask yourself the question: Is it important for me and my family to improve in this area, or am I making myself feel badly about something that isn’t important to us? Then, when some well-meaning lady or not so well-meaning lady butts into your business, you can either, a) humbly learn from the experience and thank her, or b) blow her off; have a good day, lady!

Life as a Mom is full of decisions. Even the skill of being decisive is an ability that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. I’m on your side, Moms. I know you’re doing your best. Hang in there. We’re all in this together🙂

Mom Shamed at Costco!

BTW, what I didn’t tell you, about Jessica, is that she is a first time mom of a sweet, pretty little baby girl. She has recently married a widower and  they have a new baby, and she is also the new step mom of 5 other children. I bet you didn’t expect that, did you? She has more on her plate that a lot of mom’s.I love flowers, they're like a ribbon on top It’s the age old story. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, before you Mom shame them. She’s doing her best and her best is a great job! Proud of you, Girl


Top 5 Gifts To Give My Children #5

I started a series called the Top 5 Gifts to Give my Children. I had a very clear idea of the Top 4. I was excited to talk about some of the things that we’ve done with our kids and I realized that in the grand scheme of things, the toys and presents that we’ve given have mostly been forgotten. Teaching good character is an important job and everyone of us are growing and developing and what we’ve instilled into our children will last a forever. While I was writing out the 1st 4 gifts, I wasn’t sure of the 5th one. Then I realized that its big. It’s too important and more valuable than anything else. Oh my goodness, I’m not qualified to give this gift in any way, but I will still share it and you can run with it.

The 1st gift of the top 5 gifts is the gift of giving tlearninghem a sincere compliment or well deserved recognition. The power of your words is profound and to use words as a loving and effective tool will shape their dear little lives.

The 2nd gift to give our children is to teach them, and help them practice, how to interact with Top 5 Gifts #2grownups with confidence and respect. This is so important for their future success, because they have to see the chance, seize the chance and break out of their nervousness and put themselves out there to talk to an adult. When they do it, their confidence builds and it will shape them.

top 5 gifts - #3
The 3rd gift of the top 5 gifts is to teach them to be aware of others around them. This teaches them to look outside of their own little self and look at others, and notice ways to give back.

Top 5 Gifts - Make Your BedThe 4th gift that I try to give my babies is the gift of consistency. They know they can count on Mommy to say what I mean and to mean what I say. This builds a very secure world for them. Children push the limits, from toddler to teenager, and when their boundaries are strong, they relax. If discipline is consistent, it will pay off big time for good in their sweet little lives.

I wasn’t sure how to explain #5 gift at first, and it didn’t become clear in my mind until I posted #4 and I got the most lovely compliments and great feedback from some readers that just boosted my confidence and cheered me up. I love the idea that I can offer an experience or share a story that not only resonates with you, but gives you some tips or ideas that renews your hope to regroup and move on with success.

The last gift to give my children is God. No, of course I don’t mean we’ve given our children God. Haha, Calm down 😉  What I mean is that we have taken time, effort, actual hard work and love to try our best to teach our little dears who God really is. I want to instill in them the desire to seek God, the tools to learn who God is and why they would want to seek Him out. I told you I’m not qualified, nor am I a shining example of someone who’s got it figured out, but I can point the way.

Top 5 Gifts #5

I don’t have the words or the ability to give this gift, but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and so can you. If you know in your heart of hearts that Jesus is the one who died for you to save you, and that He is God Almighty and loves you and you’re so grateful, then tell them. Tell your little dears, because they need to hear this wonderful news from the most important people in their lives. Your words are powerful, and they are the most powerful to your little precious sweethearts who have been entrusted to you to raise them to success. If you know Jesus, ask Him to help you to communicate this to the kiddos.

On a day to day basis, practically speaking, I’ve arranged my schedule to make some things a priority. Sunday School, Junior High church activities, high school church youth group retreats and mission trips. To do that, it takes planning, money and sacrifice of my time and energy, but what great resources to back me up with what I’m teaching them. These are the activities that I put priority on to help me teach the children, on a regular basis, what’s important in this life. I want them to learn to hear God’s voice more and more as they grow up.

Did you ever wonder if God has actually spoken to you, maybe in a way that a thought came to you and it wasn’t your normal thought process and it was a revelation? I have.

There’s a verse in the bible in the book of Luke: ..To whom much is given, much is required… I’ve heard this verse taught like a warning or admonition. Meaning, I’ve been given so much in life, that I’m required to deserve it by giving back, being responsible, doing my best…lots and lots of work. It felt like a heavy weight. I’ve been given these gifts in life, so I’m required to live in a way that will make payment for them.

Some days, you guys, having the beautiful gift of children feels like so much work and stress, that I have felt like I couldn’t keep going and it made me think about that verse. I have to do a lot of work, tirelessly and gratefully because I’ve been given the beautiful gift of 9 children. What a lovely blessing that I’m working to deserve, right?

You know that the Bible is God’s living word, testifying to us who God is, and there’s deep and continual meaning to it. So I feel like God said to me, you can think about the verse the other way around, ‘To whom much is required, much is given’. Think about it. You’re required to do a lot of work, caring for your dear little babies, teaching young children and trying to manage teenagers, etc. and guess what? At the end of the day, look at what you’re given                  I love flowers, they're like a ribbon on top

I felt like God was saying to me, “I know some days feel like all work, but because you’re required to work, here you go. And when you take a moment to slow down, look at what I’ve given you. I have given you much.”  

Such blessing.


Top 5 Gifts to Give My Children #4

The first gift, on my list of the top 5 gifts, is the gift of giving my little sweethearts a sincere, compliment or recognition.

The second gift was to help them learn how to interact with grownups, with confidence and respect.

The third gift in my top 5 gifts, is to teach them to be aware of others around them.

The fourth gift that I am giving my babies as they grow up is the gift of consistency. This is a quality that I can continue to develop in my life and then demonstrate it to them on a regular basis. I am teaching them by showing them. Being consistent is something that is very comforting because they will know what to expect from me. They know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when Mama says no, it’s no. My mind will not change, the boundaries are set and it’s important. When I say yes, I will do my best to make it happen or give a rain check, because a yes is a yes.

Top 5 Gifts - Make Your Bed


I’ve learned to not rush when I answer them, most of the time. So that means when I tell the kiddos something, I say what I mean and I mean what I say. That’s my standard. If they’ve been naughty, and the punishment is no movie later that evening, there’s no movie. If I promised candy for a treat if…, and they don’t do if…., then there’s no candy. Its simple, its consistent and they can count on me to follow through. I don’t need to yell, I don’t need to get angry, I just need to wait it out, and they will soon learn that I say what I mean and I mean what I say. It is very effective and it has paid off big time. My kids know exactly what to expect.

Sounds simple, right? Sigh, here’s the hard part. Sometimes, I offer them a movie because I wanted to spend time with them and watch a movie together. Sometimes I’ll offer a reward for good behavior, like some candy at the end of shopping. I’m actually anticipating being the wonderful Mommy who treats her babies with special gifts sometimes, and I’m imagining their dear little grateful faces when they receive that highly desired treat, and when I have to say no and deprive them and be the mean Mom, is tough. Its hard for me to follow through because I’m disappointed too. It comes back to my own self discipline again because its for their good. You were afraid I’d say that right?

If you can stay strong, give a reasonable answer or correction, calmly stick to it and don’t have any more discussion or arguing about it, then after a few tries at begging and crying, those little ones will start to realize, Mommy says what she means and she means what she says. Done. No discussion. No yelling. No anger. Just the facts, Ma’am. I actually found this a fairly easy thing to do with young children. The secret is to be calm, be firm and do not discuss it any further. If they keep arguing for their treats, keep quiet. No is no and they will figure out that I’m serious.

The teenagers are the ones that get me when it comes to following through with what I said needs to be done. This is what happens so often. I say to the teenager, ‘You have to make your bed each morning, eat breakfast before school and your room must be tidy or else…,right?’ Very clear, very easy to understand my expectations. They also know, without me having to spell it out, that ‘or else’ means whatever privilege they’re going to ask for will be no if they’ve fallen down on their side of the deal. They will come to me and say, ‘All the other teenagers are going…, and I can get a ride in 10 minutes, Can I go?’

My mind is thinking that this would have given me a quiet evening, the kids will get some energy out of their system,  they’ll have some quality fun with other good kids, they haven’t been out lately, this will be good for them.’ Here comes the hard part. I have to follow through and ask them if they deserve this privilege and have they fulfilled their side of the deal. Here’s the number 1 answer. ‘I was just going to tidy my room and I can get it done in 5 minutes, don’t worry about it.’ They had fallen down on their end but were very willing to do the job when it was worth it to them, rather and being obedient, contributing to the household duties and being consistent.

If my only goal in all of life was to have a tidy house, I could have my little servants working for privileges all day long. The problem is that I am trying to consistently raise quality, responsible adults who will contribute to society and succeed in life. I can’t let them get away with completing their responsibilities, poorly and at the last minute just to get what they want. What does that teach them in the long run? Again, I have to use self discipline, check up on them and give them the yes and we’re all happy for the night, or absolutely not and they’ll learn consistency, from my consistency.  

Get ready because this is when being consistent starts…

Top 5 Gifts
Happy Baby 😉

Doesn’t this all sound ‘no’ fun’ to be consistent? I totally agree, but think about this. The value of consistency works both ways. I will be responsible for their corrections, to the best of my ability, but I hope they realize that I will consistently love them and be there for them when they need me because ultimately, I’ve got your back, babies. ♥ 

You’re going to love this quick video and you will see that I am totally vindicated. ‘Make your bed little dear. Its good for you’. If you want to really be inspired, watch the 2nd link and see the whole video. I love flowers, they're like a ribbon on top

Make Your Bed (Navy Seal – 1:45 min)

Make Your Bed (Navy Seal – 19 min.)

Do you agree with me now?


Top 5 Gifts to Give My Children #3

The first gift, on my list of top 5 gifts, is the gift of giving my little sweethearts a sincere, well deserved compliment or recognition. I wish I’d always gotten this right, but I know I remembered sometimes and I hope our legacy continues on with more good stuff than bad.

The second gift was to help them learn how to interact with grownups, even at a young age, and to be mature, respectful and confident when they do.

The third gift is a little bit hard to explain.

The third, very important gift that I’m trying to give my children, out of my top 5 gifts, is to teach them to develop an awareness of others around them.

top 5 gifts - #3

Why? – Why would I bother to teach this to my kids? I think it’s a sign of unselfishness and selflessness to be aware of others around you. When you’re aware, you notice the needs of others and then you can put people first. You’re more available to interact with strangers or friends. As much as I love having dear, little cuddly babies, I know that I’m raising future adults and I want them to be successful in life, so the sooner we instill great qualities in the little dears, the sooner it becomes a natural habit for them, and the greater chance they’ll have of success in their lives, when I’m not around to prompt them anymore.

It’s so natural for kids to be self-absorbed and that’s a terrible character quality. Kids have been use to adults catering to them all of their lives. It goes against the grain to turn the situation around and think about others and give back. If my babies are always self-centered, they’ll never learn to be thoughtful of others or learn gratitude.

Having an awareness of others is natural for me, and probably for a lot of mothers. We need to be ‘tuned in’ all the time. Children often don’t have the awareness naturally, so they need a little training.

How? – How do you teach this? That’s the question, right? This is not a one time lesson, like how to write the letter A. This is ongoing training. It’s a shared life lesson where we can ‘practice’ together. Practice is the key, because thinking outside the box and being aware of others is a skill and not a natural one. So, I take time to talk, on the side to my little dears, when we’re out and about, and point out some people they could talk to, or a new person they could go up to and greet. Another thing I can do to help them is to point out a place where they can complement someone or ask a question to start a mini conversation. Then, as soon as I get a chance, I’ll ask my little dear, what did they find out, and did the other person seem to enjoy talking to them. That’s where we can talk about how it went. It’s a process, but with a few successes under their belt, they develop a confidence beyond their years. 

My friend Jillian is newly married and just had her first baby. She cares for her husband’s little daughter who is 5 and she started telling me about some of the things she’s teaching her. I was astounded at her wisdom and completely impressed that this new mom has such insight and the strength to carry out some disciplines that she thinks if important.

1. She instituted a rule that there are no electronics at the dinner table. That is family time and not to be interrupted, or it will lose its value.

2. When an adult comes to visit, the little girl is to put down her device and greet the newcomer politely and visit until she is excused to go and play.

3. When they were at a restaurant, their little girl had to put down her device and tell the waitress, like a big girl, what she would like to eat or drink. She had to make eye contact and speak up clearly. This one was really hard for her, since she’s a sweet, shy little 5 year old, and was really scared, but they helped her through and it strengthened her ability and her confidence.

4. Ok, don’t be mad at me with this one! Part of the awareness of others, is to be kind. Part of being kind is to say nice things. ‘If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all” -Thumper. Ok, its Food! Yup, when you’re visiting friends and those silly friends don’t know how to feed your little dear his favorite food. What are they thinking, right? I’m trying to teach the kiddos to look at the food they are sure they hate, and put a smile on their face and just say thank you for dinner. It’s really hard to say something nice about food that you hate! (picture a 5 year old child’s face) It’s important to teach them to be gracious. Please let me know how this one is going for you. Trust me, it’s good progress just to go from Mr. 5 Year Old saying out loud to your friend, “I hate your food” to at least whispering it in your ear, right?

I’m a little older, hopefully a little bit wiser and its good I love flowers, they're like a ribbon on topto look back and realize that the top 5 gifts we’ve given to our children are all intangible. What are some of the gifts you’ve given to your little dears that are helping them become successful in their lives?


Top 5 Gifts to Give My Children #2 Gift

When we first started having our kids, I felt like it was my job to just teach and train them to be good little children. Raising little dears is so much more than making them into good little robots.

Now that I look back, some of the training techniques I used were actually gifts that we gave them. I was given gifts from my parents that stayed with me for life and benefitted me enormously over the years. Sometime, I should try to think of the top 5 gifts my parents gave to me. One of them, for example, was that my mom paid for piano lessons for years and years. That was a gift in itself, but the real gift, the intangible one was the discipline of practicing that she made me do each week. The second part of the gift was that when I was in high school she told me that I could finally quit my lessons or continue and it was my choice. Guess what, I quit! Silly teenager. I loved the freedom of choice, but then I realized, all on my own, that I was so close to achieving a level of accomplishment, so after a year off, I asked her if I could continue with lessons and take the music exams. Her gift to me was consistent discipline until she felt I was old enough to make my own choices.

Top 5 GiftsThe 1st gift of the top 5 gifts, I’ve tried to give my children is the gift of  sincere compliment and recognition for something they did that was noteworthy. The 2nd gift that I think is so valuable, is to take time with them to teach them how to interact with adults. This is tough for anyone, but children are just not comfortable interacting, on their own, with adults yet.  

I didn’t notice that I actually went out of my way to teach the kids how to interact with adults, until people started noticing how mature our little ones are and how respectful and confident the older ones are with grownups. I’m often asked how I did it. I had to stop and think about what it is that I do.

Here’s the steps that might help.

1.Before meeting with grownups, I’ve stopped for a moment ahead of time, and tried to prep them and I’ve given them a few hints about what to say. Option A, eg. ‘Just say, hello, my name is Caleb.’ That’s it, no worries. Often adults speak first and they usually say How are you. Option B., just say ‘I’m fine, how are you?’ If they can pull this off, and have the guts to speak up, grownups love that from a little wee kid. It’s so adorable when a little one speaks up, and when it works well for them, it can put a real success under their belt and will build their confidence.

2.I‘ve done a mini roll play with the little cuties and demonstrated how to introduce themselves and confidently put out their hand for a handshake. This can be fun with the more outgoing little babes, but a bit stressful for the shy ones. It takes patience and encouragement to teach this to them, but well worth it in the end. When the time comes, to meet the grownup, I nudge them forward and hope they get the hint to put out their hand, but if they don’t, I just quietly remind them, with a smile on my face, and wait for them to go ahead. Depending on how young they are, I have them try again if it doesn’t go well the first time. I might let them cop-out once, and then talk about how great it’s going to be next time when they’ve had a little more practice.

3.The real trick to having a successful interaction between your kids and an adult is your response to the situation. It’s worth it to me to take time with someone I know and have my little cutie try a couple of times to shake hands and say hello in a friendly way. It’s also very important to me to have this be successful so my attitude has to come across like everyone’s having fun and we like to talk to grownups a lot.

We’ve had a lot of success with our kiddos, confidently handling themselves in public, but just in case you think I’m bragging a bit, I do have a cheat card up my sleeve. Their dad is exceptionally and naturally outgoing. When your little’uns grow up having fun times, socially, and a dad being friendly and open in front of them all of their life, well that is training right there. He has also been a great example to me, because I tend to be on the shy side, and I’ve learned a lot from watching him over the years.

Having said that, if they’re still shy, I still practice with them. I tell them that there is no excuse to not take the time to be kind and reach out to people no matter who they are I love flowers, they're like a ribbon on topbecause you never know how they’re feeling and it’s their chance to be unselfish and make someone else’s day.




Top 5 Gifts to Give My Children

As a Mom, I have the greatest influence when it comes to building and shaping my children into confident and successful adults. I have the ability to start their lives off with some wonderful advantages. So I’ve realized that there are gifts we can give our babes, and none of the top 5 gifts on my list are material things and I’m not sad about this at all. Christmas is coming and they will get stuff, but what will last a lifetime are my top 5 gifts.

It’s easy to give material things. You listen to those little dears as Christmas is approaching and hear how much they want that toy, how they’d do anything for it and how they want it so, so badly, and it’s easy to please the little sweetheart on Christmas morning and the thrill will last for… well a while, hopefully.

Top 5 Gifts - Compliment the effort

The gifts I’m talking about take effort, consistency and love. Ideally, in my mind, I’m thinking absolutely, of course, no problem, I’m on it. What Mom wouldn’t do anything for their babes? But in reality, I’m just a human with so many flaws, so how can I live up to this level of responsibility, successfully? I want to give them what’s valuable and lasting, without screwing it up!

The first thing on my list of top 5 gifts that my little dear needs is to be given sincere compliments. They need to hear how well they did. They need me to ‘catch’ them doing something right and tell them that I noticed and that I’m proud of them. A well placed compliment, said with absolute sincerity, can do so much for their self-esteem, now, and in the long term.

My idea of a perfect complement, for an older child, is more than just saying good job getting an A in history. It should sound more like, ‘I noticed that you brought your history book home and really took time to learn that subject well. Good job putting in all that effort to get an A on your test. Trust me, you’ll have their attention at this point, then after you’ve described in some detail, what you noticed in them, add the ribbon on top. Wrap it up and put a bow on your present. Say, I’m so proud of you today. You showed me what a smart guy / girl you are by trying your best to do a great job.

With a little one, sometimes they’re so distracted, hopping around and playing, that it’s hard to get their attention, right? But if you grab hold of their little hand and look them in the eyes and say, ‘I saw you pick up your toys and put them in the toy box. I’m so proud that you’re growing up to be so helpful.’ Then add the ribbon on top, say ‘I’m so happy with you and I can’t wait to tell Daddy what you did today. He’ll be glad to hear about it, too.’

Good news, for me. I’ve done some of this successfully with my little ones. They’re so easy for me to talk to and I know it puffs up their little chest with confidence when I tell them all about the good things I see. It puts a smile on their face and we both walk away happy.

Bad news, for me. My love language is not words of affirmation. I don’t light up and thrive with a compliment, not that I don’t enjoy hearing one, but it doesn’t occur to me as easily to speak words of affirmation to my older children. I just figure that they know when they’ve done a good job and that’s enough, right? Oh my goodness. This is why I’m reminding myself that being a mom is about sacrificing and giving, and to never give up. I’m so glad I’m surrounded with other successful beautiful mom’s that are an excellent example to me.

I heard an expression. ‘Babies cry for it, grown men die for it’. – Recognition!  Imagine if your boss spent his time watching to catch you doing something well so he could point it out and compliment you. What a dream. How worth it would it be to give this gift of a compliment, and publically recognizing my children and sending them off in this difficult world with some built in confidence to start their own journey through life.

This is another good reason to be a Stay At Home Mom SAHM.

To be continued next time for gifts # 2,3,4,and 5. Do you have a special way that you build up your little dears that makes their little heart sing? If you do, they’ll love you forever and I’d love to hear about it.

Caught in Frankenmuth

We visited Frankenmuth, Michigan, and brought our kids to see the largest Christmas store in the world. We had been shopping in Bronner’s Christmas store for a while, and everyone was getting hungry. 

Big Christmas StoreThey had a cafeteria style restaurant right in the middle, so we thought that would be a great place to get some lunch. We definitely needed to keep our strength up to continue shopping in this giant store. You know how bouncy and wiggly children can be. They were all in line with us, picking out food, juggling trays and wiggling. We had 7 or 8 of them with us and I was concentrating on keeping track of all of them and trying to choose enough food to keep everyone happy, and still manage to stay within a reasonable budget. I’m praying, please God don’t let them do anything crazy so I don’t look like a bad Mom.

I’m aware that people are around me but not necessarily who they are because I’m usually busy worrying about trying to keep the kids behaving well in public. It was very crowded that day and we were trying not to hold up the line too much. We got to the checkout and as my husband went to pay with a card, the lady said they only take cash.  How old fashioned, right?  As he started to ask if there was an ATM in the building, and could we just sit down close by with our 8-10 trays of food while he ran quickly to get the money, the man behind me piped up and said he’d pay for all of our food, because he knew we were good for it!

So many thoughts flashed through my mind, at a zillion miles and hour. The thoughts were something along the lines of, ‘Oh no, who was this person? Why on earth would he say that he knew we were good for the money? How long had he been directly behind me while I struggled with so many children? Did the children misbehave? Was I too lenient or harsh with them? How do I look?’

Can you believe those thoughts? I should have been thinking, ‘Oh my, who is the kind person behind us?’ ‘Wow, I am so grateful that someone is being thoughtful to us.’ ‘I’m so happy to be out with my beautiful little dears and I hope this nice man can see how awesome they all are.’ You can probably think of 10 more mature thoughts that I should have had, but I was flustered and startled and self absorbed. What are the odds of us meeting people we barely know at that moment in time who seem to recognize us? I love to think about the odds of coincidences happening, because it’s fun. Imagine the chances of all worlds coming together and setting up this scenario.

My goal is to add value to your life. I want to be blessing to everyone around me. But I can’t do that if I’m only worried about how I look rather than thinking of you first. If I only get to meet you as a stranger for a moment in time, I can at least give you a nice word or a sweet smile. I want to put a ribbon on top of your day and make your day feel like a gift.

I know that we impact others as we navigate through life and since they caught us by surprise that day in Frankenmuth, I hope that we were a blessing to them, as they certainly were to us. We had the chance to meet them and interact with them but the odds are just as good that they might have seen us and we might never have known it. I love flowers, they're like a ribbon on topIf only I can be a blessing to others, even when I don’t know it. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Have you ever had a coincidental meeting with someone and you wished it had gone better? Have you ever had a coincidental meeting with someone, and you’re so pleased the way you were able to bless each other?



5 Fears of Being a Stay at Home Mom

Missing the party - 5 Fears of a Stay at Home Mom1. My friends will be too busy to have time to hang out with me when I have a baby; And I’d be too busy for them. I probably had more than 5 fears of being a stay at home Mom, but losing friends was definitely one of them. Most of our friends were in college or starting their careers when we had our first baby and I chose to postpone my college and be a stay at home mom, but it was a difficult decision. Sometimes I didn’t feel like I was accomplishing anything or moving forward like my friends. They were doing things for fun and work and I wanted to be doing things too; whatever those things were. Sometimes I didn’t feel as valuable as those women who seemed to be out there accomplishing something. No one in our group of friends thought that having a baby would be the cutest thing ever, and that we should all stay home and have our lives revolve around someone’s new little kid. I guess my fear was that my friends wouldn’t respect me and would move on and that I wouldn’t have anything in common with them. You know what it did after all. I said, Forget about it. Our baby is going everywhere with us and we didn’t miss an event. We trained him to travel and be flexible and we had so much fun, with and without friends. With a little bit of extra effort, we had all the fun we wanted, sometimes till all hours. Then in the mornings, I had a lovely, quiet easy start to my day with just a sweet little baby at home with me and no daycare, no stress and no boss at work.

5 Fears of Being a Stay at Home Mom2. My husband won’t respect me. This is an unreasonable fear, but I was afraid that staying at home and not going into a job everyday might make me brain dead and not very interesting. Maybe I watched too many movies, but I imagined my husband out in the world having an exciting time, learning all kinds of new things and meeting many new people. And there I’d be, at home with a newborn to talk to and no chance to be interesting. Then he’d come home and be bored with me. Ridiculous! a) My husband loves to be home and couldn’t wait to be with us at the end of his day, and since our day was less stressful, and I was able to arrange our time the way we wanted, we were happy to have him come home too. b) I had so much more time to learn as many new things as I wanted and to do so much more because I was in control of my own schedule. Probably going off to his work every day wasn’t quite as much fun as I imagined anyway. I must remember the 5 reasons to be a stay at home mom.

Money3. I won’t be able to afford nice things. This is not as selfish a fear as its sounds. Having nice things doesn’t necessarily mean that you want tons of stuff for yourself. I’ll never forget, when we were a little younger and a little poorer, I wished so much that I could go to the store and buy new sheets, comforters, blankets, towels, dishtowels and tablecloths and not even think about price. To me that sounded like a really beautiful way to make our house just so much warmer and prettier and more comfortable. I thought it would look so much cleaner and modern too. It was a silly wish, but I knew it would benefit everyone and it would make our house more pleasant.

If you’re used to more than one income in your household, it’s a serious consideration to hold back some of the fun spending that you used to do before children. Then you discover my best friend Pinterest and you get really creative and learn to make your life lovely. Things are not very important anyway compared to the joy and quality of life of being home with your little dears.

I'm bored4. I’ll be Bored or lonely. Seriously, this is a possibility. We lived in a high rise apartment in Toronto with our first baby and it was such an effort to go out with strollers and diaper bags filled up for the day. Then we had to maneuver our stuff onto buses and subways, so I’d just opt to stay home. Sometimes the days were long and with no one to talk to, it was so quiet that soap operas started to sound appealing. Experience is an awesome teacher. Necessity is the mother of invention. I grew up at this point and started to learn what was important in my life. I learned to make time for friends some days, and other days I learned to appreciate how valuable it was to be able to be home with a precious little one. I was given the privilege of those valuable years and they are irreplaceable.

Loose my sense of fashion as a stay at home mom5. I’ll lose my sense of fashion. As if I had one in the first place;) If you’re like me at all, having a baby really sap your energy. I found pregnancy and caring for newborns, pretty much all consuming. It took my time, energy and sometimes my mind. Gone were the long of hours of poring over fashion magazines, watching style shows and shopping at the mall. When we moved to our little town, I could see very clearly that the people who I love flowerslived there, didn’t quite keep up with the high styles in Toronto. Now, I hardly notice the difference. Do you feel the same way? Years down the road now, I have learned, ‘Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.’ Proverbs 31:30 It reminds me that fashion isn’t important, its just fun.

Do you have happy reasons to be a stay at home, or do you struggle with some fears of being a stay at home mom?