Friday, August 28, 2015

The books of summer.

2015 was the summer of books.  Summer is a glorious time in the Flathead Valley.  It only lasts 72 days but the days are very long at the 48th parallel with only about 3-4 hours of complete darkness.  The people here appreciate summer.  It gets you through a long winter.  This summer was different, though.

I had surgery in early June that required 8 weeks of recuperation.  I was unable to hike, swim, run, climb, do housework, lift things...nothing...boring.  So, I ordered a stack of books.  And I read and read and read.  I haven't read like that since I was home alone with little babies.  These were my favorites of the summer.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.
I am not usually a fan of Kristin Hannah books.  They somehow lack a depth that will keep me interested.  This book is a departure from her typical book.  The story of the French resistance through the eyes of two sisters.  It is beautiful, heartbreaking, deep.  I love stories of World War II and this one rocketed up to one of my top 5 books of all time.  Beautiful character development.  I loved it so much I would only allow myself a chapter or two at a time so it would last longer.

The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand.
I love a good beach read that takes place in Nantucket.  If you can't get to a place, go there in a book. All of her books are great Nantucket reads.  Not deep but satisfying!

Hannah Colter by Wendell Berry.
This book is a little bit slower.  Berry is a master at character development.  There is no great plot twist or climax like a traditional novel but more of a collection of scenes that highlight a typical era in American history.  Worth reading.

The Paris Wife by Alyson Richman.
Another World War II story about two lovers separated by war.  The fact that people survived such tragedy and heartbreak in their lives just really makes me feel spoiled and entitled.  I loved these characters and their spirit.

The Vacationers by Emma Straub.
I devoured this book.  It is like eating dessert.  A funny, witty story about a dysfunctional (aren't we all?) family on vacation in Mallorca.  Loved every, single sentence and hated it to end.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Sometimes you just want to visit with an old friend.  Fitzgerald is one of my favorite writers whom I love to reread now and then.  Other favorite rereads..Hemingway and Jane Austen.

Little Women by Louisa Mae Alcott.
Another favorite from my childhood.  I adore the characters, I feel every single heartache.

As soon as I was released from the couch, the smoke descended from hundreds of forest fires.  Over 70,000 acres have burned in Montana so we choke and cough in our little valley where you can no longer see any mountains due to smoke.  So, we sit inside, ready to start another book :)  What are your recommendations?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Navigating Midlife

It has been awhile since I last blogged.  It is hard to write about this time of life.  
I have a lot of young adults and teenagers and you can't really blog about them.  
At the same time, I still have little kids at home and I am 20 years older than the other moms.

So, I feel the need to transition the blog away from homemaking and more toward fulfilling goals.
I am at a time in my life that I feel like I need to start meeting some of the goals I set when I was younger.  The writing and the adventure and the peace.  

I hope that you will continue to read along.  I will throw in my parenting tried and trues and, as always, try to be a source of encouragement to other moms. 

It is good to be back :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Top 10 Things I Have Learned As A Mom.


1.  Babies don't stay babies very long.  The first year is exhausting, but it does get easier..or else you get used to lack of sleep!...Enjoy those first 12 months and be present.  Do not decide not to have another baby based on the first 12 months.  Give yourself time to think about it when you are not exhausted and in a hormonal haze.

2.  Kids need sleep.  No one, not even adults, act their best when they are tired.  Make sure your kids sleep enough so you don't have to fight battles you don't need to fight.  This is especially true of teens..they need as much sleep as toddlers.

3.  I am not my child's mistakes or their successes.  They come with their own personalities and just like me they are on a journey to learn.  When they mess up, it does not mean I am a failure as a mother and screwed up my kids...similarly, when they do something awesome, it is their success, not mine.

4.  Teach them to do stuff.  Don't do it for them.  Little kids can do stuff if we allow them to, instead of doing it for them.  They can do chores and take care of their things.  They are smart, we just need to let them learn instead of being in a hurry and doing it ourselves.  Your child's teacher will thank you for letting your child be responsible for his own things and for teaching him to do things himself.

5.  Don't coddle them.  Let them feel disappointment.  The more you shield them from these emotions in early childhood, the harder they will feel as a teen.  Life is hard and sometimes does not go your way, don't let it surprise them when they are 20.

6.  Teach your kids to work.  Chores are important.  Work ethic matters.  If you don't raise kids who have to lift a finger at home, they are not going to lift one for an employer.  Chores teach kids much more than work..they teach responsibility, doing something for the good of the family, and pride in a job well done. Chores and responsibilities are what give your child self esteem, not getting trophies for every little thing.

7.  Reading is one of the most important skill for kids to master.  Reading is the gateway to all learning.  You cannot learn anything in later grades if you are not a good reader in early grades.  Read at home, read aloud, listen to your kids read.  Read more than you watch.  It will pay off.

8.  The big things are the little things.  Your kids will not remember the details of the pinterest party you threw them one year What they will remember are your the cream on Tuesday nights, reading in bed with you every night, board games on Sunday afternoons, picnics and fishing. Similarly, they won't remember when you yelled at them either, so give yourself a break.  We all lose our cool now and then :)

9.  Teach them accountability.  Every time you rescue them from a mistake, you make them less accountable.  Have them take responsibility for the things they do.  Make them write letters of apology, don't scream at their little league coach, don't make excuses to their teachers for them.  They have to learn that they are a person of integrity and honor.  Help them learn that.  Don't let them grow up with excuses on their tongues.

10.  Self discipline is THE single most important thing a kid can learn.  If you are self disciplined, you can accomplish your goals from running a marathon to getting a scholarship to landing that big job. You have to be self disciplined enough to take every step toward your goal. There are kids who persevere and there are kids who give up.  Raise a child who perseveres.  Kids love goal charts and keeping track.  Teach them to discipline themselves and you will make the teen years so much easier on yourself and raise productive members of society.

Gretchen Knuffke is a mother of 10 children ranging in age from 4 to 22.  She is a freelance writer and a preschool teacher.  She owns Maternal Instincts, a parenting education company and is an motivational speaker for various mom ministries and the founder of Kalispell Moms for Moms.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Club Reads

Here is the list of books that my book club read in California.  Most of these are so good and worth the read.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring Organizing!

Spring Clean

O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?
Percy Bysshe Shelley

Spring is the traditional time of rebirth.  It is the season that we clean out the old, dirty and worn out and replace it with clean, beautiful things.  One of my goals for this year was to get my home completely organized.   A recent study at Princeton Neuroscience Institute found that clutter limits your brain’s ability to process information and restricts its ability to focus.  Clutter is the number one reason that American homes are disorganized.  Too much stuff limits our ability to function well and raises our levels of cortisol and thus, our anxiety.

So, for our brains to function properly and our stress levels to be low the first thing necessary is purging the clutter.  You can either use a box system (trash, donate, keep) for closets or rooms or you may have to just go with a whole house declutter.  For me, it was time for a whole house makeover.  So, one room at a time I got rid of stuff.  Americans are all suffering from affluenza and that is the number one reason we have clutter. 

I had extra dishes, coats, books, toys, and clothing that all needed to go.  Getting rid of stuff is the best first step because it opens up the room and gives you space to find solutions.  Chic Boutique in Whitefish even paid me for getting rid of clothes!  After I got rid of extra stuff, I also scoured the internet and Pinterest for the best home organizing tips and tricks and here is what is working for me.

Tote Bag System~

I found Thirty One Bags to be the best solution for corralling stuff for me.  One thing I really needed under control was sports equipment.  I love that these totes are big and stand up alone.  I filled them with little kid ski boots and helmets and only needed to grab the bag on Saturday!  Another bag holds all the ski gloves, goggles, masks and hats.  It was an easy solution for something that was really creating a lot of clutter in my laundry room.  With spring here, it is time to put all of that ski stuff in a storage bin and replace it with baseball equipment.  In summer, all swimsuits and lake things will go in the totes.
Totes are a great solution for library books, baby gear, road trips, and outings.  Just find the tote that works for you and keep it filled with what you need.  Store it in the closet and just grab and go when you need it.

Basket system~

Baskets are perfect for magazines, books, toys, and throw blankets.  These are the things that clutter up the living areas.  Target and TJ Maxx have some great baskets with chalkboard labels on them that are extremely durable and cute.  Kids can easily clean up their own messes when a label is right on the basket!  In the dollar section, they also have some cute plastic bins that are perfect for first aid items, hair items, toiletries, pantry items, craft supplies and more. 
I also bought some wire baskets to hang on the wall by the door.  Mail goes in here and important school papers that need to go right back.  A basket on a table by the door holds keys. 

File system~

I love this idea for keeping paper organized. It is genius!  Buy a file box for each child.  Have files for birth certificates, shot records, school information, and best of all, favorite art work and cute things from your kids.  At the end of each school year, take out the art and school stuff and keep your favorites.

Some other useful ideas I found were color coding your kid’s towels, cups, toothbrushes, etc. and hanging plastic hooks at kid height in the closets so instead of throwing jackets and sweatshirts on the floor, they can easily be hung by your child. 

Spending the last few months purging and organizing my house has reaped so many benefits.  No more frustration while trying to get ready to go somewhere, everything was in its home and no more buying new things because we couldn’t find the old ones.  There are no longer coats thrown on the floor of the coat closet thanks to hooks hanging down low. 

Spring cleaning will be a snap now that there is not so much random stuff cluttering up my house!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Get your "But" Out of the Way

“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the BS story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” ―Unknown

Do you have a BS story you tell yourself? You know that excuse you have that lets you off the hook and becomes the reason why you can't get your house clean, run a marathon, lose weight, write a novel, get up earlier, etc.

The difference between you and the people who actually do these things is not the reason you think it is. It is not because they are naturally thinner or more athletic; they are not morning people or neat freaks. It is because you allowed your "but" to get in the way. I would clean house, but the kids just mess it up. I would lose 10 pounds, but I have a slow metabolism. I would train for a marathon, but I am not an athlete. I would write a novel, but I don’t have time to write. These are just excuses that your mind uses; they are your “but.” If you really wanted to do these things, you would get your but out of the way and do them. That is what people who achieve do. They stop giving themselves a free pass and an excuse and they quit stopping. They start exerting self-control and discipline.

 Most of what you accomplish in life has everything to do with your mind and very little to do with your body. Recently I was watching a survival show and everyone started out positive, excited and set on winning. As soon as those people started getting down or discouraged, as soon as they let negativity take root in their minds, then their bodies started to fail them. They didn’t realize that their mind was the greatest tool they had for survival, and once they lost control of it, they might as well lie down and die. It is the same with goals. Your body never wants to anything. Your mind forces it to do whatever the mind sets as a goal. Once you get control of your thoughts and stop telling yourself that excuse story and start telling yourself positive words and affirmations, you can do anything you choose to do.

Self-discipline is THE single most important thing for achieving goals.

Anyone can run a marathon, anyone can lose 10 pounds, anyone can keep a clean, organized house, and anyone can get up an hour earlier. Control your thoughts and you will control your body.
Want to start achieving in 2014?

*Make smart goals that have steps and are measurable.

*Write your goals down.
 *Don't share your goals. Recent research has shown that telling people you are going to do something, gives your brain the same boost as doing it. Don't reward yourself until the goal is reached. Wait to tell people after you have done it.
*Get control of your mind. Remember that to achieve something; you must be willing to give something up...sleep, food, order to achieve. You must be willing to accept some discomfort whether it is physical-pain, hunger or whether it is mental-fear. You must tell your body that it is okay to feel discomfort.
 *Get your but out of the way. Stop accepting that story you have been telling yourself. You can do anything you set your mind to doing.

Goal Setting With Kids
“The tragedy in life does not lie in not reaching your goal, the tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.” -Benjamin Mays

One of the most important things we did on our parenting journey with our kids was regular goal setting. Every New Year’s Day we take our children out for a nice dinner and review our year. Each person tells their favorite memories from the year and how they did on the goals they set a year ago. Then, we make our goals for the coming year. It is so fun for kids to be able to share their successes of the year so we make the dinner a big celebration of goals reached.

Kids are natural goal setters. They have hopes and dreams for the future, what they want to do and what they want to be. The also start life with a lot of self-efficacy and hope. They naturally do not put limits on their dreams. As parents, we help them take their dreams and make them smart. We help make the goals specific and measurable. We help them narrow it so it is attainable and realistic within the time frame of one year. The goals are posted on their bedroom walls so they see them every day and periodically we check in with them on how it is going.

What makes goal setting so powerful for kids is that they really see the connection between hard work and success. They see that their choices and the decisions they make affect their success. These are great lessons for kids to learn early in life and will benefit them so much as adults. As a parent of grown children I have been able to see first-hand the good that goal setting did for my kids. I can look back on their goals and see what made them become reality.

Try it with your kids and see what amazing things they can accomplish with a little hard work and perseverance.


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