Nifty vs. Thrifty

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Blah Blah Blah of a Stay at Home Mom

My husband is very safety conscience and has a "better safe than sorry mentality" most of the time. As you probably know, I am much more laid back! My laxodasical attitude is fun and easy going (at least I like to think so!)
I often stick my tongue out at my husband (in my head) when he starts getting overzealous and I actually tell him he's CRAZY when he starts talking about Sienna wearing a helmet just to walk down the street. WHAT?!?!?
Well, I think my husband and I balance each other out well but I often wonder, what the hell is normal? Does everyone think that they are balanced and "normal"? People must think they are the norm or else they would not settle with their life if they didn't think it was acceptable? Right? Hmmm...
As I walk down our street I hear some people yelling in a house nearby. I never hear a peep out of the people that live in the house a few doors down. I see a family happily playing in the yard and again think to myself, Wow! There's the perfect family. They seem so happy.
It makes me wonder, what is normal and what is average?
My husband often says I put people on a pedestal and then get disappointed to find out they aren't as perfect as I had initially thought. So, does it even matter?
If I saw the private lives of people in my neighborhood, I may be surprised at how they live. But is the real question what is in their hearts? Or is the real question, "Does it even affect me?" Usually the answer is no-it does not affect me and my focus turns back to my beautiful family but I'm a stay at home mom so of course these things go through my head when the only interaction I get all day is from 2 one year olds who I can't understand except the words "mine" and "no!"
Well, I don't know if our family is at all 'normal' but I do know that this crazy house I live in (and the people who live here) make me happy and bring me joy on most days! So that's good enough for me!

Monday, June 28, 2010

4 Easy Motivation Ideas to Get Your Butt Exercising!!

1. Make it fun! I recently started taking a jazz class in my area. I have not danced in 10 years and I am so happy to do it again! The class was 1 hour and 15 minutes and went so fast because I was having so much fun. I posted this idea on my facebook page and my friend contacted me and said she was also interested in taking the class! YEAH!!! Well, even though we are the only ones not wearing silly bands (and the oldest by far!) in the class, it is FANTASTIC!!
Whether you enjoy sports, walking and chatting with a friend or swimming, find something you enjoy and make it happen!

2. Prioritize your health for your sake and your kids sake. Women often think that exercising is selfish because all their time should be devoted to their families. This is NOT so. If your not healthy, who's going to take care of your family? Think of it this way, exercise is preventative medicine and also a great way to set a positive example for your children.

3. Just do it! Do you remember this Nike ad? I love it and I use it to motivate myself when I'd rather sit on the sofa. Even if you only have a few minutes, get your but moving! Even 15 minutes can make a difference and will motivate you to do even more and eat healthier! Think of how much better you will feel at the end of the day if you exercise rather than if you sat on the sofa eating junk food (and lets face it, that's what we usually do in front of the t.v!)

4. Combine playing with your child with any form of exercise. Chase your child on your hands and knees, run around with them, or hop around the room. Use a little creativity and you will be surprised at how much fun you're having (and buring calories too!)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Money Matters for Children

There are a lot of kids today who don't understand the value of a dollar and yet it is so important to be able to be successful in our society! If we show our children a healthy way of handing money, it will give them some great tools to handle their finances in the future.

1. Show your kids that work can be fun. Although we all look forward to Fridays, work is a good thing and something we need to feel productive and important. Studies show that people who are depressed are often unempolyed. Even if you are unemployed, volunteer to show kids that helping is a good thing (plus you never know what networking opportunity can come out of it!)
*Focus on how good it feels to work and be productive and focus less on the money factor (although it's great to get a reward!)

2. Set a good example. Work hard yourself and take pride in what you do (whatever it is you do!) Children watch what we do much more often then listen to what we say! Work hard and they will want to work hard too!

3. Don't give your kids money or things without them earning it. It is so hard to tell your children "no" but it is even harder to watch them be ungrateful and unappreciative of the things around them. Becareful saying, "No, you can't have it because I don't have the money." This is just an excuse and sends a message that you would give them anything they wanted it you DID have the money. Whether your child is 3 or 23, telling them no and setting healthy boundaries is something you will be glad you did later in life!

4. Start young. Although it is never too late to start good habits, starting young is a great way to begin a healthy financial attitude for life. Teaching young children to work and earn things will begin their understanding of how the world works. Be consistant and think about what you say before you say it. If you can't follow through with your promises, than your word will not mean anything. Think ahead and make working for things fun!

Looking for some more ideas? I love Suze Orman! She has some great ideas about how to handle money! Here is an article about teaching children good money habits! Check it out!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Letting Go of the Reigns!

Last Friday rolled around and my husband says to me, "Hunny, we have nothing planned for this weekend, right?" I responded by saying, "Nothing? We never have nothing planned!"

I admit it, I am a schedule nazi and could not live without my schedule or to do list. Just like any mother, my to do list never ends and I often feel guilty when I am just relaxing or even having an unplanned day! There is just TOOO much to be done (and I only have 1 child!).

Today I managed to enjoy a day with my family even though I had no list, schedule or agenda. Many times throughout the day, I felt lost and unproductive but I reminded myself that spending quality time with the family is in fact productive. Also, I don't have to be in charge all the time!

So, why do i do that to myself so often? Why do I go through my day feeling like everything i am doing (even if it's relaxing) needs to be productive? Why can't I just enjoy the moments like I preach about so often?

As a stay at home mom, my job often overlaps with my home life. I feel like I am a good stay at home mom because I often view it as a job and I take my job description seriously. But where does it begin and where does it end? Because I view my weekdays as work (and I am the CEO!) it's hard for me to adjust when the hubby comes home and gives his ideas for discipline, organization, or pretty much anything else! At times I feel like saying, "Don't tell me how to do my job! I am the CEO of this freakin' house!!" It can be quite a challenge to juggle the roles. Perhaps it would be easier if I installed a time clock at the front door? No, I would have to attach it to my hip?!

What I am trying to say is that I think I learned an important lesson this weekend! It can feel good to give up control and allow my hubby to take the lead! As hard as it is to let go of the reigns, the whole family benefits if I step back at times and just enjoy the moments! Having the ability to know when to step back and when to take the reigns can be challenging but not impossible.

Well, every day in motherhood is a learning experience! Hopefully, I can get better at going with the flow and enjoying a day when it takes a path in a direction I didn't intend! I still think planning is a good thing, but perhaps I need to accept the fact that I'm not the only one in this house with a plan!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Simple Father's Day Recipes and Inspirations for Kids

Your child wants to make something special for Dad? Sounds very thoughtful but a lot of work and a real big mess, right? Well, not neccessarily! I found this awesome website for some great ideas and recipes to make things easy for you! Don't forget, prepare like crazy but expect chaos!

Check it out:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Using our Manners When Utilizing Technology

Everywhere you turn these days you hear people talking about the effects of technology on our society. Whether we're discussing our children on computers, GPS navigation, text messaging, or cell phones usage, people have changed the way that they live drastically in the last decade. Parents now have the very important job of monitoring and assessing this new wave of technology. There are many good things about what's available to us but perhaps we need to remember one important thing...respect. It's that simple, isn't it?

My family and I were recently on vacation and were seated at a restaurant at 8:30am for a nice breakfast. Another family came into the restaurant and the father took out his laptop while ordering his breakfast. He then started playing some music and sat the laptop on the floor so his family (and everyone else around them) could listen to the music. SERIOUSLY?!?!?! I couldn't believe it! Did he seriously think that everyone around his enjoyed the same music that he did?

Yesterday I was at a coffee house/sandwich shop when a family came in with a little girl that was about 1 and a half year old. The father opened up his Ipad and started playing a cartoon for the daughter to watch so he could chat with his wife. I realize that this is just a snapshot of a family and there's a chance that this is a very unusual practice for the family. However, it makes me wonder how many family use technology as a babysitter even when out in public? Do they not want to spend time with their child?

Many Moms and Dads today are distracted by their phone while their child is learning and growing right in front of them. Their children are pulling at their pant legs for assistance as they tell their child "Just a minute."

My question is, are we showing others respect these days or are we forgetting our manners? Is it respectful to always tell our children,"Just a minute." or do they deserve our attention more often? How would we feel if we needed help (perhaps at a convenience store) and the person who was supposed to be helping us was preoccupied all the time? I don't think we would appreciate it.

We act like all this technology is so complicated but maybe it's not. Maybe if we just use our manners and remember to be respectful to others, the answers will seem simple and the people around us will be happier?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

3 Easy Ways to be a Fun Mom

Finding a way to balance discipline with having fun is a great way to create a fun and loving household. Instead of just barking requests (we've all been there!), have some fun with your children. Here are a few ideas to get you started on those long days when you feel like all you do is say "no!!"

Say yes often - Let's face it, a mom who says no all the time is not really a fun mom to be around! Find ways to say "yes" to your children and your children might listen to you more. Create an environment where most of the choices available are ones that are acceptable.

For instance, the other day, Sienna and I were outside playing in the back yard. She kept running toward the sidewalk and steps (where it was not safe). I chased her, saying "no" firmly and brought her back. This went on about 3 or 4 times until I realized I needed to change things up. I gave her options by bringing out a few other toys (since she seemed to be bored) and then set boundaries by positioning myself so that she could not get to the area that she was not allowed to go. I began giving positive reinforcement for the way she was playing with the new toys and she quickly forgot about the steps. Although this does not work EVERY time, distraction can be a great tool for keeping a child happy.

If you have an older child, you can apply the same principle to an older child's requests. For instance, if you don't want your child to wear a certain piece of clothing to church and he continues to ask, give him options. Tell him that he can wear it to the park, around the house, or to a friends house but not to church. You could even give him other clothing options to help him along. Suggest a flowery dress of yours if they can't find anything!

Then set boundaries if they continue to ask. Clearly explain why they can't wear the item and end the discussion by explaining that the item will be taken away if they continue to ask. NOTE: Only pick this battle if the item is absolutely not acceptable, not just because you don't like the color.

Be silly. Of course this works especially well with younger children but it can also work with older children too! If your child keeps forgetting to do something, tell him that you will get out of the car (when you drop them off to school) and do a funny dance (the worm, running man, or cabbage patch are good options) in front of his friends.

Another idea? If they keep leaving their dirty socks in the hallway, tell them that you will write a big sign and put it in the car window that says, "Dan Smith has smelly feet".

Little children love it when you tell them that you are going to "squish them into a pancake" if they don't do something. They will most likely NOT do the task to get the "punishment" (you sitting on them) but then will finally get the job done (after all the giggling!)

Sing Songs My mother used to sing an old church song very loudly until we got out of bed on slow mornings. Hearing her sing "Rise and shine and give God your glory glory!" over and over again definitely got us moving! We didn't exactly show our appreciation...but we secretly liked 'how awful' the experience was!

Everyone likes karaoke! If your children's friends think you are fun, your children will think your fun too (even if it's embarrassing!) Sing a Justin Beiber song or an 80's song off key and your child might be pleasantly mortified! Sing loud and proud mama!

Most importantly, have fun with your kids. This is your chance to be a kid again and loose all the rules of proper ettiquette that we have as adults. Chances are, if you have fun, your children will too!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Making the Most of your Summer and Finding the Fun Places in your Area

As great as it is, summertime can seem really long when your home with the kids with nothing to do. I know what you're thinking, if you had the money, you could think of a million things to do, right? Well, perhaps a little brainstorming can make your summer fun without spending a huge amount of cash.
Living outside of Philadelphia, I often forget how many awesome tourist attractions I have right in my back yard. Valley Forge park, for instance, is an amazing place of historical significance. As a kid, I grumbled and whined through these landmarks and points of interest. I begged my mom not to take me, however, now I greatly appreciate those times with my family.

As an adult, we often look back at things we experienced as a child with a new appreciation. Although we loved the things with bells and whistles (like the boardwalk or Six Flags Great Adventure), our experiences are what creates our childhood. Happy family memories can be made anywhere and at anytime. It's up to us as parents to create the memories for our children. Take a moment and really think about this question, "How do I want my children to look back at their childhood? What kind of memories do I want them to have?" Believe it or not, using some of the free and/or inexpensive attractions near you can be an easy and fun way to create wonderful memories with your family.

If you would like to take a trip to a cool place near you, make sure you PREPARE!

1. Look online. Find an interesting tourist attraction near you and look at their website. See what they offer, how to get there, how much it costs, and any historical facts that your children might find interesting.

2. Let your child bring a friend. Face it, although it can seem like a hassle, your child may be more excited to have a friend along!

3. Present the excursion with enthusiasm. Get excited about the place you're visitng and even goofy about it. Let your child make fun of you! Remember, excitement is contagious!

4. Create a scrapbook of your adventures. Children love taking pictures and documenting things they like. Giving them some control makes them feel excited and engaged in what your doing.

5. Don't drag things out too long. Remember, children have limited attention spans and tire easily. Even if you are interested in something, come back another time if you want to read every detail at each marker. Ending the experience on a postive note is always a good thing.

6. Ask your children questions about what they saw. The ride home can be a great chance to find out what your child liked or didn't like about the attraction you experienced. Keep the conversation simple and fun or you will quickly loose their interest.

Most of all, enjoy the time with your children and tell them how much you enjoyed the time spent with them. I know you might be thinking, "he already knows how much I enjoy time with him!" But kids need to hear that they are appreciated and loved often!

Finally, take the time to enjoy the moments, they will not last forever.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Easy Chicken Casserole

Prep Time:20 Min
Cook Time:1 Hr
Ready In:1 Hr 20 Min
Servings (Help) US Metric Calculate
Original Recipe Yield 8 servings

1 1/3 cups uncooked white rice
2 2/3 cups water
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups mild salsa
Place rice and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place chicken breast halves into a large saucepan, and fill the pan with water. Bring to a boil, and cook for 20 minutes, or until done. Remove chicken from water. When cool enough to handle, cut meat into bite-size pieces.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
In a medium bowl, combine Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheeses. In a separate bowl, mix together cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom soup, onion, and salsa. Layer 1/2 of the rice, 1/2 of the chicken, 1/2 of the soup and salsa mixture, and 1/2 of the cheese mixture in prepared dish. Repeat layers, ending with cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for about 40 minutes, or until bubbly.

Recipe taken from

Friday, June 4, 2010

Making Goodbyes Easy

Does your children have a hard time leaving one place and going to another? Does it always seem like a HUGE production? I am a mother to a one year old and I also take care of 2 other one year olds. Sometimes, it takes every ounce of my patience just to get them down the stairs (could they be any slower?!) It sure isn't easy, but here are some ideas that just might help you.

1. Avoid the "good bye game". I know it's tempting to tell your child goodbye (even if you aren't really leaving). They might come with you this time, however, be careful. Sometimes this will work, but many times it will not. If one of those times are when your child is running toward a road or throwing a fit in a store, you will have a big problem. Your child will quickly learn that you won't really leave them.
To avoid this situation, only threaten when you really can follow through with your threats. Otherwise, you're child will think it's a game and want to play. Who wouldn't want to play a little chase? Don't chase if you don't want it to be a game.

2. Avoid long goodbyes. I know this is tough when you haven't seen a friend in a long time for example. But if you take 20 minutes to say goodbye every time you are leaving a friends house, your child will think "saying bye" really means "we're going to leave in 20 minutes".

3. Make goodbyes fun. Have your child give the host a hug or ask your child to be a special helper and carry something out the door. This will help take their mind off the fun they were just having.

3. Use 1-2-3 magic. This is a program that has been out for years. I started using it with children in 2000 and it really works when done correctly. Check out this article http://www.ehow.com_2106254_use-123-magic-discipline.html/ or buy the book, it's fantastic!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

5 Reasons Why it Might be Good for Your Child to Encounter a Bully

We have all dreaded the day our child has a bully. What can be worse than someone breaking your child's heart, tearing them down, embarrassing them, and maybe even making them cry in front of others? Horrifying to imagine, right? Well, take a deep breath and think of it this way.

1. It teaches resilience. God knows one day your child is going to be up against a difficult boss or an adult bully of some sort. If they start learning how to deal with difficult people now, they will be better able to handle what's thrown at them as an adult. Getting up, wiping yourself off, and holding your head high is a great thing to learn at any age.

2. It builds confidence. Nothing builds confidence like someone trying to knock it down. If your child takes a bully's comment to heart (and we all have!) it will force them to take inventory of themselves and think about the person they truly are. A script might look something like this, "Is the bully right? Am I a dork? Am I stupid? No, I am smart and I have friends that like me! I am funny and helpful!" Who knows, it's possible that building self esteem and confidence is something your child might be able to thank their bully for later in life!

3. It teaches problem solving skills. If your child encounters someone who is challenging them, they must figure out how to use their resources (parents, friends, teachers, or their own capabilities) to solve the problem. There are many choices a child can make when faced with this dilemma. Even if they choose a path that doesn't solve their problem, they are still learning, growing, and maturing. Don't underestimate your child or give up on them! Even if they don't handle the situation effectively this time, they are still learning what works and what doesn't work for the future. Remember, life is a journey.

4. It teaches them self discipline. A bully is someone who knows how to provoke to get a response. Handling a situation in a calm and cool manner is much more effective than reacting impulsively. If your child can improve this important skill, they will be better able to handle many other challenges life will hand them.

5. It encourages a child to learn self defense skills. People look at my opinion on this one in different ways but as a previous martial arts teacher, I believe that being able to physically defend yourself is an important skill. You may think (and hope) that your child will never have to defend themselves physically, but there's a good chance that they will have to one day and being prepared (just in case) is very important. Once they are strong and skilled in this area, they should refer to #4 for knowing when and how to use their skills.

Bullying is a very serious problem in our society today and should not be taken lightly or ignored by anyone. There are many articles on the web to help you find resources. Google 'my child has a bully' and you will find a plethora of resources and articles for parents. Yes, it is a difficult part of childhood, but your child can learn a very big life lesson with the right resources and tools to help them through it. The most important tool they can have is SIMPLY to have someone telling them that they matter and that they love them (and that it you!) Having good self esteem will get them through these challenges fairly easily. Remember, children are extremely resilient in general and most likely, it is hurting you more than it is hurting them. Be strong and supportive and one day, you will both look back and laugh about it!