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Showing posts from 2009

When Is Enough Really Enough

I am going to keep this post short and sweet, but I'm hopeful that it will spur some good discussion at a time where we can be preemptive about "enough." The holidays are looming and there is always so much to do. Every year I sit back in January and tell myself, "Next year I'll enjoy it more. I won't make it so busy." But each year, I somehow manage to do too much and run myself ragged in the name of "holiday."

Maybe now is the time to sit down and think about the top 10 things that really matter. What do you most enjoy doing? What can you live without this season? Who do you want to spend your time with? How much shopping/cooking/crafting is absolutely necessary to your enjoyment of the season?

Example. Christmas cards. Does anyone appreciate the fact that you've hand-stamped and tied ribbons on each and every one? Probably not. So unless that is something you thoroughly love and will rejoice in having done come January 1... skip it.

Her…

Planning Ahead

Okay, we've established that I am anti- skipping Thanksgiving. However, as all crafters know, you have to plan ahead for Christmas if you want to give homemade gifts. Because although it's "the thought that counts," it really helps your cause if it's also well-made, tasty, beautiful, and/or useful.

Over the years I have been both the giver and receiver of homemade and handmade gifts. Christmastime is a great time for this if you plan ahead. But honestly, homemade gifts are wonderful year round. And if you are a real planner, you can do even better by purchasing items in bulk for making your gifts.

I recently shared on another blog site (www.milehighmamas.com)about how my family has always incorporated crafts for kids into our Thanksgiving Day celebration. This is fun for kids and a good way to get little hands out of the kitchen but not sitting in front of a television. If you'd like, this could be something that the kids could give teachers or friends for Ch…

Not Skipping Thanksgiving

There have been murmurrings among those that I know over the last several years. "It's coming too soon!" "The Christmas merchandise is out before Halloween is even here!" "I love Thanksgiving and we just skip right over it!"

There is no doubt that Thanksgiving is not the most profitable holiday in the retail world. Sure we buy our share of turkey printed napkins or table runners, but there's not a huge market for tee-shirts or gift-giving. But that really does beg the question: what is it that Thanksgiving has to offer while sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas?

I'll name my favorite things, and I'm sure it will cause you to remember a few reasons of your own to keep you from "skipping" Thanksgiving:
all the fun of Christmas without all the stressall of the fun of Halloween without all the sugar highsall the good home cooking... and it lasts for days, not for minutesall of the anticipation of getting ready for Christmasall o…

It's Coming

I make no secret that I don't like Halloween. Even as a child, and in spite of the fact that my parents let us dress up and go trick-or-treating, I would have rather been doing something else. Now as an adult, I can see the fun side... I love the pumpkins and beautiful fall decorations. Heck, I love chocolate as much as ever!

And yes, I let my kids dress-up and trick-or-treat too. If some day they don't want to, we'll find something else to do. For now, I hand out goodies to all kids of all ages and enjoy the smiles that come from fun costumes and bags full of candy!

So in the "spirit" of Halloween, I'm going to offer up a few of my favorite fall fun activities that do not involve eye-balls, skulls, blood, or half-dead creatures of any sort.

Here's a simple project that you probably did as a child: Go on a nature walk and pick up some of the beautiful leaves. If you are up for it, help the kids discover what kinds of trees the leaves came from. Otherwise,…

A Fine Line

We all walk it. That fine line between doing too much and too little. I'm a fan of balance, but I've yet to find it.

So here I am.... days since I've written anything worthy of being published because I'm stretching myself in other areas. Stretching and balance... hmmm suddenly I feel like I need to squeeze in a workout... Back to topic.

I read a tiny article in a nondescript paper just a few weeks ago that helped in a small way to bring more balance to my crazy schedule. It's simple, but does take some thought. So here it is. Do you find yourself with 10 minutes here or there through your day? Do you usually spend a day cleaning the house and dreading it for the 6 days prior to it? Why not take those 10 minutes at random and forget an all-day cleaning spree?

There are times when I have a few minutes before picking up the kids at school. It might be a few minutes while I'm waiting for the laundry to dry, the water to boil, or while the kids do their homework. B…

The Upswing of Recession

There is no one I know who has not been touched by our economy's downturn. It's looking more and more like the end is not quite as close as we hoped it might be. But who is to say this is all such a terrible thing?

I like to look for a silver lining. We find it hard to believe the stories of our grandparents who lived through the Great Depression. We look at their "odd" ways and wonder why they bother. Their hoarding and use of what has already been re-used seems unnecessary to us. But maybe we are learning lessons now that will stick with us for years to come.

I wonder if you might agree that you are beginning to realize what is most important to you. For millenia, culture has revolved around the struggle to have more, look better, and become successful and powerful. But what if that isn't really what is important at all? What if your striving for "things" is really what is making you the most unhappy?

Maybe your making choices like: do I buy that new…

On My Honor, I Will Try

Did anyone else have a momentary flashback just reading that title? It had been many years since I had thought about my Girl Scouting experience (which didn't last long, by the way). But now I have a daughter who wants to be a Daisy. There is no troop. What's a mom to do?

I figured the only real answer was "on my honor, I will try." (For those who weren't Girl Scouts, that is how the Girl Scout Promise begins.) That's all I'm promising for now. I'll try.

Now don't get me wrong, I am actually excited about our new mother-daughter adventure. I'm looking forward to the projects and the trips, earning badges, and visiting nursing homes. My main concern is living up to the Girl Scout tradition. I think of it like this: there is really only one way to make a great brisket, so if you don't know how or if you are not willing to put in the effort to learn, then don't even bother. Same thing with Girl Scouts. This is a top notch program that ha…

Passion

There are few words that have become so tied to one particular meaning as this one: passion. We tend to relegate this beautiful sentiment to an experience tied very closely to lust... or some feeling that is rarely tasted by mere mortals. We see "passion" only in glimpses on the flickering screen when two people can't keep their hands off of each other or perhaps worse, when a crime is committed in the name of "love."

To define passion is complicated. If you look up the word in a dictionary, you will find a great wordiness in an attempt to express what I think is almost impossible to express. Passion is so deep and untouchable and spiritual, that perhaps it is best not to try to define it at all. In fact, I have been pondering over how to put into words my thoughts on this matter for days. But don't get your hopes up.

In my humble opinion, passion should be running through our veins every day. A pure, spiritual experience that binds us together as humanit…

Giant Pumpkins and MORE

Easily one of my top ten favorite days of the year is just around the corner! Hosted by Jared's Garden Center in Littleton, the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off and Festival is Saturday, September 26 from 10am until 2pm. It sounds kind of silly... watching giant pumpkins being hauled up onto scales and weighed as a competition. But this event, now in it's fourth year, has 'grown' to be a great day for families with lots of free fun!

Jared's Garden Center located at 10500 W Bowles Ave., is a beautiful and sprawling nursery with a wide selection of everything garden related. You will find a wide array of pumpkins and gourds along with corn stalks, mums for your fall flower beds, trees and shrubs, and plenty of garden decor.


My kids absolutely love this event! They not only get to see these HUGE pumpkins (and other giant vegetables) but they can walk through the hay bale maze too. There are other free activities, but you can purchase tickets this year for face painting and a b…

Warwick Who?

HERE'S A SPECIAL POST FOR ALL OF MY LOCAL FRIENDS... OR THOSE WHO MIGHT VISIT DENVER... YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO!

Have you heard of the Warwick Hotel in Denver? I hadn't either. This beautiful and elegant hotel is tucked away on the corner of 18th and Grant (two one-way streets) in Denver. The staff was accommodating. The service was spectacular... second to none. In fact, in a world where many establishments can make you feel like your presence is a burden, the Warwick staff made us feel like a blessing.

If you had not heard of the Warwick Hotel until now, you'll be hearing much more in the weeks and months to come. They just hosted the MileHighMamas and MomItForward event and all of the women attending will be buzzing about it.

Randolph's restaurant is housed in the Warwick and served a delightful selection of appetizers and wines. Our dining area was the lovely stone patio where we were enveloped in beautiful greenery and lighting. Word has it the Warwick is the o…

The Sunday Spread

I love to hostess. Mostly because I love to feed people and see them happy! From early fall straight into the winter is such a great time to be indoors and cozy up with some friends... and what better time for a relaxing afternoon of great food and laughter than on a Sunday. You've got football on the television for the men, cool afternoons for the kids to play in the backyard, and subsequently, some quiet for the women to sit back and chat.

The only trick is what to feed all of these great friends on what could be a "cozy" budget. I recently hosted one such occasion and had to share what could be very close to a perfect menu. And what exactly is "perfect"? Well, start with something to please everyone, easy preparations, and all with a price tag under $100 (for about 25 people). And don't forget all the yummy leftovers you're going to have!

It all starts with a trip to your local Sam's Club. (I'm sure Cosco will have similar options.) Here's …

Controversy and Over-Reaction

I have to throw in my two cents with the rest of the country. It seems unbelievable that a speech from our FREELY ELECTED president would cause such a controversy. President Obama created what could arguably be called a revival in politics during our last election. Young and old alike were drawn to his vision and charisma.

Like every other president, he has plans that won't always work out as planned. And frankly, we all know he walked into a bum situation. But he has indelibly marked the history books with a new era, not the least of which that an African American is in the White House. And so now the speech... I just don't see the problem. (I have friends that disagree.)

For our children to be privileged to see their president on live television speaking to them in a personal way seems like something any parent should be glad for. Doing it in the evening is going to miss so many students, and perhaps the ones who would benefit most from hearing such a message. When did we beco…

Labor Day Longings

I'll confess, even though school has just started I'm already excited for a long weekend! Labor Day is such a fun weekend even if it just means hanging around the house. In the Denver-area, it can definitely mean a trip to A Taste of Colorado, a high-country hike and picnic, a BBQ with friends and family, or maybe even lounging poolside one last time.

Maybe this weekend will be a chance for you to reflect on thankfulness of having a job, the gift of a family who you love to work hard for, or a body healthy and strong enough to enjoy some yard work.

Whatever you do - make it memorable. Remember to enjoy yourself. If walking downtown sounds like a drag, don't bother. If a BBQ is too much work, go out instead. When it comes down to it, you only get some many free days in the year. Do something the whole family will remember and enjoy. A few special snacks for a ride in the car will make even a regular trip up the mountain special. Go ahead and pick up a few clearance water toys…

Play Mode: Random

I just decided to update my iPod with some new music. I am a big fan of iTunes, but can get sucked in for hours at a time, so I try not to get on very often.

As I was listening through my new set of tunes, I realized that my favorite play mode is random. Not only the play mode, but the variety of music: you'll find Frank Sinatra, John Mayer, Flogging Molly, and Kings of Leon all on my playlist! Sure, I'll always skip over a song if it's not what I am in the mood for, but I just can't resist the not knowing which song is coming next. And THAT got me wondering... what does that say about me?

There are times when I like to know what is coming next, but spur-of-the-moment suites me just fine. I love spontaneity in part because it forces you out of your comfort zone. And maybe I wouldn't do that on my own.

As a mom, my life is very much scheduled. If you're a mom, you know what I mean. Kids need to be fed at a certain time or be to school at a specific hour. They need …

Reality... Check

I was reading the latest issue of In Style magazine and oogling over the clothes and the Hollywood crowd, and the shoes, and the beautiful bodies, and the extravagant living. I get sucked in just like the rest of the world. But I had to take a moment and have a reality check. I'll share it with you.

These men and women make a ridiculous amount of money and obviously spend most of it on themselves. They are scrutinized by the media (and by us) and have to spend most of their time creating the facade of being "perfect."

They have personal trainers and nutritionists. They have cosmetic surgery and if that doesn't help, they can be airbrushed for magazine photos (eg. In Style). They are being constantly compared to every other musician or actor in the spotlight and at some point the only place to go is down.

Now we may be hard on ourselves, but I'm guessing your life doesn't look quite like that. You may want to impress your circle of friends or neighbors, but the p…

Redbox Etiquette

Redbox is spreading like wildfire, and many are using it without understanding a few general rules of etiquette. If you are not familiar with Redbox, well, frankly, that's unbelievable. But I'll humor you and give you the gist of it. These stand-alone machines are housed in many McDonald's and other retail establishments and mechanically distribute DVD's of all kinds for $1 per night with just the swipe of a credit card.

As with any good invention, Rebox has a learning curve. Not only that, things have evolved over the last 3 or so years. I would consider myself a seasoned user, maybe not expert, but darn close. So here is some advice on how to be a courteous and savvy Redbox user. You'll be in-and-out faster and others waiting behind you will be thankful!

First, know before you go. There's a little place called www.redbox.com where you can find the Redbox closest to you, see the movies that are there, and reserve your selection. Then, once you arrive at Redbox, …

For the Love of Children

I'll never cease to be amazed by the things we do for our children. We miss events, spend sleepless nights, go without, watch obnoxious children's television (have the Wiggles died their TV death yet?), and in one recent case of my own... caught vomit in my bare hands.

Fortunately, that is not the topic of this blog. For the love of my children, I went camping. There is something that seems simple about camping and somehow epitomizes the family vacation. I worried for weeks about all that could go wrong out in nature. I fixated on the amount of dirt that would be involved. I played through my mind the scenarios that could cause a trip to the ER. I envisioned meeting a bear or mountain lion on the trail. And, perhaps worst of all, I imagined the discomfort in which I would sleep.

I was right about two things for certain: lots of dirt and very little sleep.

I don't know if there is any single vacation plan the involves as much work as camping does, and it's the one thing ou…

Contents of a Mom's Purse

We all do it, moms. The purse clean-out. It may come at the beginning of a new season when it's time to switch purses or at random. I was so entertained by the contents of my own purse that I thought I would share it. Apparently I would never survive on a deserted island, but at least I would look good with my lip gloss and nail polish in my final days!

Receipts galore (gas stations, fast food, restaurants, groceries, mega mart... you name it)
chewing gum
chewed gum
gum wrappers
lolly pop sticks (thank you First Bank)
crayons
toy cars
hair bands
lip gloss
nail polish
chip clip (???)
pills
sewing kit
Canadian money
other coins of all kinds
plane tickets
boarding passes
business cards
feminine goodies
keys (some I don't know what they open)
brochures
flyers (some of which were attached to windshield, unsolicited)
coloring pages
shopping lists (from months ago)
Bible
planner
water bottle
phone
scraps of paper... who's phone number was that now???
mirrors
plastic bags
batteries

This is honest to goodness what…

The Modern Mother

There is no shame in saying it: some times I just don't have the energy to deal with all that motherhood throws at me. Earlier this year, I read the blog of a fellow mother that inspired me to write these seven "mom tips" for the 21st century mother... we're no June Cleaver!

1. Do you like to use short cuts? As early in life as possible, convince the kids that homemade simply means you made it "at home."2. Want to feel good about helping to educate your kids? Spend a little educational time at the library. Everyone gets their own computer and you are guaranteed at least 30 minutes of relative quiet to read a magazine.3. Ironing to do? Hang the wrinkled item in a steamy shower of 5 minutes. If it's still not wearable, toss it in the hamper and wear something else.4. Have a housekeeper? I think the "don't ask, don't tell" rule applies. (No one needs to know...)5. Roasted chicken anyone? Here's my recipe: Drive to the deli. Purchase ho…

Local Favorites

We had a mediocre dinner at a chain restaurant that will remain un-named. Frankly, you could fill in the blank with most chain restaurants and get the same result: mediocre.

Now there is something to be said for chains: you know what you are going to get almost anywhere in the country. But, if you are looking for excellent quality, home-town service, and local flavors you can't beat your local or family owned restaurants.

If you are a mom, going out to eat should be one of the highlights of your month... maybe the highlight of your week if you are lucky enough to eat out more often. But it's not just about you either. You want your family to have great tasting, healthy options to choose from. Not only that, but it feels great knowing that you are supporting your neighbors my heading to the local eatery.

Take some time to leave a comment and tell us about your favorite local spots, the flavors we'll experience, and the people you love there (whether that's the owners, serv…

The Procrastinating Planner

Those who know me well probably realize this odd irony about me already. In fact, they may have not been so shocked by this oddity that they couldn't even call me on it. I am in fact, a strange combination of both planner and procrasitnator.

There are some things that I tend to plan for. For example, I usually have dentists appointments on the calendar 6 months in advance. If we are going to take a vacation, in general I like to have that thought through for more than a few days.

But then there is the spur of the moment that I absolutely live for. Even though we are already busy people and it doesn't always work out, I LOVE to get the phone call about the friend wondering if they can just swing by later or who would like some company for a trip to the store or the park.

I think life holds more excitement and satisfaction when I have the proper mix of planning and spur-of-the-moment. But here's my point: as most moms are looking a new school year square in the face (we're …

Define Yourself

I made the errant decision to take one of those Facebook quizzes. If you visit FB, you know what I mean. "What decade do you belong in?" "What is your best name?" "What state should you live in?" These are all ridiculous questions, of course.

Obviously, what decade I belong in holds very little significance when I'm living, well... NOW.

But answering the questions made me think about the way we define ourselves. The questions were as trivial as my favorite beverage and as meaningful as how I would spend my final hours of life. No pressure.

But am I really defined by my favorite drink or the way I spend money or my preference of music? Well, probably. Some are more revealing than others, but I cannot extricate myself from these things that when combined and churned through the years of my life make me who I am.

And here I am, a mom, with the life of my children in my hands. Who do I want them to be? How do I want them to spend their time? What do I want th…

Try This At Home

I was standing over a sink full of dirty dishes again and wishing I was doing something else. Been there? My guess is you have. Maybe your bane wasn't dirty dishes, but piles of laundry, a stack of bills, or yet another poopy diaper.

Somewhere along the way I got tired of the sulking and depression that was always looming over my mundane tasks. I began to realize that if my sink was empty it would mean I had not cooked for anyone. Or when I looked at the puddle of pee from my recently potty-trained three year old son, I couldn't help but be glad for him in spite of the mess. And the piles of laundry, although daunting, meant that there was life being lived around me.

Do you see what I am trying to say??? It's time to be thankful! Please try this at home.

The next time you are wallowing in pity about the hours of work involved in raising children or loving your husband, remember to be thankful for them. There are plenty of things to be thankful is you just stop and give yourse…

The Organic Struggle

I love my family and I want them to eat food that is good for them. It doesn't mean that I will not allow sweet treats, but just that when it comes to regular snacks and meals we'll be reaching for fruits, veggies and low-fat meats.

But how do we balance good choices and organic choices? I have friends at every point on this journey. There was a time when I felt everything needed to be organic and "all natural." I'm not there any more. We can't afford to be. In fact, I grew up on sugar-coated cereal, processed meats, and white pasta - and I could be in much worse shape.

Some of my friends insist on meats without phosphates and nitrate and others who consider fast food for at least one meal a week. Some have milk delivered at a premium while others pick-up their milk at the convenience store. I guarantee both of these families have a box of store bought cookies in their pantry.

A recent trip to the newest "all natural" mega mart made my head spin once a…

The Value of a Friend

There are few things that make life as pleasant as the company of a good friend.

You're right. It's obvious. But sometimes it's the obvious things that are easy to over look and take for granted. Like good friends.

Just this evening we took a few hours to go visit with some friends for their daughter's 2nd birthday. It was hot and kids were everywhere. Under different circumstances the whole scenario would have been a nightmare. But with good friends, the whole thing is the best part of life.

Less than glamorous moments suddenly become laughable instead of embarrassing. The argument you had with your spouse before the party is made light of and swept away. The fact that one of the kids was up every hour on the hour last night is sympathized with. And you can swap stories about who hit who, or how potty training is going, or how badly you need a night out.

I think the best thing mom's can do (and dad's too) is to make time for friends. Find people who you love and w…

The Chronicles

I'm going to admit what I've been ashamed of for years: I never read a single C.S. Lewis book until I was in college.

It's absolutely shameful. One of the greatest thinkers, writers, and (I would venture to say) theologians of all time and I had the audacity to miss out on it until I was nearly 20 years old. Maybe you were the same. Maybe you still haven't. Let me whet your appetite.

I started reading The Chronicles of Narnia to my 6 year old daughter a couple of months ago. I knew it was a childhood classic appropriate for children even though I had not yet read it myself. Again, shamefully, I didn't recognize the title of the first book (The Magician's Nephew) and felt sure it was going to be dreadfully dull. Wrong.

I was mesmerized by the story and the way Lewis brought the characters to life! I should not have been surprised by how much I enjoyed it, but I was.

I would not want to give away anything to those of you who haven't read it yet (oh, you will read…

If Your Kids Eat Spinach...

A healthy lifestyle is a noble goal and one that our family has been striving after for years. You're always in process, especially because it seems as though research changes yearly. Is it better to use real butter or "spread?" Can whole grains be "smooth" and still count? What carbs can I eat, exactly?

Our kids are an even bigger challenge. I have never said I didn't like a vegetable... ever! As a matter of fact, my husband has said he has never met anyone who loves veggies as much as I do. I guess that's what happens when you grow up eating home-grown produce. But that's for another story. Yet somehow I have two lovely children who will, on a daily basis, tell me that they do not want to eat their carrots, green beans, red beets, or corn. You name it, they don't want it.

Let's not even get started on the dark, leafy greens that are so wonderfully healthy. They would rather go to bed hungry. So I started dreaming of ways to get them to eat t…

The Joy... No Wait... The Pains of Vacation

We survived another family vacation last week! Our trip to South Dakota was full of joy and pain as I suppose most family vacations are. This was a road trip and I would probably rate myself "average" on how well I planned for it. So perhaps I have no one to blame but myself...

Really, I am thankful that we can vacation at all. I know that many are curtailing their usual summer adventures for homebound activities (most recently dubbed "staycations"). Never fear! I don't plan to complain this entire blog entry (maybe 50% of it)!

We have great kids and they stood up against some rough travel and terrain. For starters, I was sure they were old enough to enjoy some of the simpler things of road travel like counting antelope or looking for state license plates. Not so. They would have much rather watched a movie. Not an option when you don't bring the DVD player.

Then right out of the gate I realize that the air conditioner doesn't seem to be getting very cold.…

No Small Accomplishment

Another day has come and gone and, as we say, I don't know where it went. Sometimes just getting through the day feels like a huge accomplishment. No one broke a bone or bled or choked. There was plenty of whining and complaining and fighting, but physically we came out unscathed.

Life as a mom is like that. Making it from the breakfast debate about who had more O's floating in their cereal bowl to the turmoil of who should get the purple lollipop at the bank drive-thru to navigating the library without losing a child in the stacks - every day it's a miracle that we make it!

And so I'd like to take a minute to be thankful. If your precious little people are tucked safely in bed and your sanity is still hanging by a thread, be thankful. There will be a new set of trials tomorrow, and you'll do your mommy-best, but without a spirit of thankfulness for all that you have you'll be missing out on more than you realize.

Tomorrow Will Never Come

I have been hesitant to post my first blog here. I blog in other locations, but thought I would do something profound here. Something that would make you stop and ponder your existence.

Sooooo not going to happen!

Here's what I am really about: loving, laughing, giving, LIVING!! It's not all about me, as much as I might want it to be.

I thought maybe I would get my act together before I really put myself out there to the world, but tomorrow may never come. I'm actually not a "goom and gloom" kind of person, I'm just stating the obvious. Like that plane that just went down on it's way to France. None of those people thought tomorrow would never come. But it didn't.

If tomorrow doesn't come... if this is the first and last you hear of me, hear this. There is hope. Hope has a name: Jesus.

Oh, I know. Believe me, I know. Christians have this sick connotation in modern America. We are hypocritical and out of touch. We are lame and uncool. We are definitely …