Friday, January 30, 2015

I Choose Happiness - Guest Post By Nadia Flores

I Choose to be Happy. Today, I choose to be - not I did choose or I will choose or I have chosen. No, today I choose to be. In this moment I choose to be happy. 
I choose to be happy in spite of my circumstances, in spite of negative comments from others, in spite of unfulfilled dreams and expectations. 

I also choose to move forward from the past. I choose to design and create my destiny. I choose to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be. I choose to love and give and serve until it hurts, because to love give and serve sometimes hurts but I choose to do it because that is God's calling on my life - for he gave and it hurt and he served and it hurt but he did it anyway. 

I choose to see the best in people - I choose to see their intention and that their heart is in the right place. I choose to see their mistakes and imperfections as their humanness - the one thing that connects all of humanity - that we are all not perfect yet broken and HE came to save us. He came to restore us. 

I choose to believe in a better life for my son far exceedingly more abundant, blessed, joyous, meaningful and full of love then I can imagine.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Little Miss Know-It-All

As your kid gets older there are lots of great things that happen. They become more independent and can do most things without your help. You can have conversations with them and enjoy their company as little people. But just like with all phases there is a downside too.

In my 9 year olds case she is a big know-it-all. Now she is a little bit of a know-it-all when it comes to her friends, but where it's at its all time high, is when we are working on school work. She gives me these looks like she knows better than I do. The thing is, she doesn't.

For example, yesterday her assignment was to write 2 paragraphs on a person involved in the Mexican American War. Like with all writing assignments I set her up to start an outline. She bitched and moaned like a tween does and said she already knew what she needed to write and didn't need to do any pre-writing. So I sent her off to write it. She came back over a hour later with basically a plagiarized essay. She had just taken sentences from the articles she researched and put them together. There was no structure and she had not even touched on the persons importance to the war. It was a big mess. It was not something she could turn in and she had just wasted about 2 hours. 

So the next day we had to come back to it and start with the pre-writing. This happens a lot when it comes to school work. Now this is usually the part of the blog post where I tell what I did to solve this issue. Well right now I am at a loss. I have no idea how to handle this. Do I let her do the work on her own, turn it in and get a bad grade? Or do I keep fighting the good fight and battle with my tween during school time?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated! 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Open doors and hearts...

Tell me you've seen the most recent anti-bullying video? Wait!  Before you click the link below I must mention a few things:

Yes, this is just another viral video. 

However, the message is worth sharing 100 times over. It's inspiring and something to share with our young children and generations to follow.

Bullying is such a real epidemic in this country. This epidemic must end. I'm happy the young man featured in the clip below decided to simply do one thing to be in-service. The result of one small gesture changed his life profoundly. Even more profound to note, the kid being bullied became an example for others to follow. 

If you've struggled with a way to communicate with your child about anti-bullying behaviors and how to counter the hate share this video ( with them and others.

How do you create a bully-free zone in your home?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How I Can Get My Kids to Eat A Whole Zucchini

My kids are not huge vegetable eaters. In fact most nights dinner becomes a negotiation meeting with my kids. Most table conversations go like this...

"Eat 5 pieces of broccoli please."
"How about 3 pieces"
"4 pieces and that's my final offer" 

So imagine my surprise when a new zucchini recipe was an absolute hit with my whole family.  Taco Zucchini Boats are super simple to make and easy to make into an extra healthy dish.

Here is what you will need:
  • 4 medium to large sized zucchinis
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • Taco seasoning packet
  • Shredded Cheese (optional) 
  • Sour Cream (optional)
Here is what you do.
  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees 
  • Wash and slice your zucchini long wise.
  • With a knife cut around the inside and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh. Set scooped out zucchini aside. 
  • Chop up zucchini pieces. 
  • Brown your turkey and drain excess fat. 
  • Add in zucchini pieces.
  • Add in taco seasoning per packet instructions. 
  • Spoon in the meat zucchini mixture into your boats. 
  • Cook uncovered for 15 minutes.
  • Sprinkle shredded cheese and cook for 5 more minutes or until the cheese is melted. 
  • Serve with sour cream. 

No joke, my kids will each eat 2 "boats". This is the equivalent of eating 1 whole zucchini! I can't get over the fact that my kids love it!

What veggie filled recipes do you love? 

Monday, January 26, 2015

9 "To-don'ts" for a Better Marriage

I recently celebrated nine years of marriage. Nine years feels like a lifetime ago. Truth be told, I wouldn't trade a minute of it to end up anywhere other than where we are today. That doesn't mean we haven't made our fair share of mistakes. I've realized as the years have past that the best part of it all has been the overcoming. We all know marriage isn't constant rainbows and butterflies and through the challenges marriage is one of the greatest journeys and blessings a person experiences in their lifetime (if they choose to).

With that said, here's a list of what NOT to do in order to grow your marriage and feel successful at the 9 (or 59) year mark, too.

1. Don't ignore the cues when something is amiss. What our partners say and sometimes don't say is always front and center. It can be in the words or in their actions but our partners words, tones and moods communicate how they really feeling. Don't ignore when something is off. Go with your gut and listen to the cues that might be pointing you in the direction of communicating more fully to ensure all is still in sync in your marriage. 

2. Don't complain. Seems so basic and yet too many couples spend time complaining. I've wasted years doing this very thing and I've only now begun to curve the habit because I see my children mimicing this unnecessary behavior. Our latest counter is to tell ourselves or whoever complained in our family to follow up with five positive statements. That habit works wonders to shift from nag-ful to grateful.

3. Stop waiting. Too many couples plan big for tomorrow. Get after if today. No matter what it might be. Be better today. Do that thing you've always wanted to do together or for yourself and do it now. Finally scratch those on-hold plans off the list and watch yourself evolve and grow your happiness. Accomplishments enrich a marriage, so get after it!

4. Don't get lazy in bed! Feels like this might go without saying, but I'll say it anyway: keep the sexual passion alive and it will work wonders in your marriage for decades to come. Don't let your partner off the hook if they're the lazy one. There's no excuse for a decline in sexual chemistry or activity. Besides this could be what ruins a great marriage. What began as a lack of sexual compatibility ends up destroying many marriages when ignored.

5. Stop only talking about the kids or work. Remember the foundation of your marriage is your marriage. Kids and jobs play a role but they shouldn't become the sole focus of everything. Watch yourselves because when kids leave the nest or careers fade you two have to have something more than kids and work in common.

6. Don't hold on to resent. We all feel it at some point. Communicate your way out of his hurtful space. Sure, your pride might get in the way, but screw pride. No one will eulogize you by remembering what a resentful son-of-a-gun you always were. Let it go and move on.

7. Never stop dating each other! Stick to a routine date night and fill your relationship with romance. Sure romance changes with years but it must evolve and exist. It's easy to get into a new routine without the initial romance but depleting romance is more harmful than we might realize. Romance is love in a very tangible form. Fight for what you can grasp in the romance department and feel more connected to your spouse because of it. Keep in mind, romance is as simple as spending 10 minutes of every day genuinely talking and actively listening to each other. 

8. Don't meet half way, instead meet all the way. Chores shouldn't be split 50% down the middle though that technically works.  It's better to expect to give 100% of yourself, always. Having yourself in 100% on all things leads to a better place of understanding. A couple giving 100% each is a couple working at 200% capacity without expecting anything from their partner. Think about it? This concept really takes marriage to new heights. This isn't to say you don't help each other and you don't compromise. Just don't spend too much energy meeting "half way" after all before marriage "you-did-you" 100% of the time! Also, too many fights are because of this 50/50 goal. Save the aggravation. I know this because I've learned the hard way. Today, I actually expect less from my husband and yet I've seen him evolve into someone who gives our marriage and family 100% of himself because he chooses to and wants to and not because I tally us up some scoreboard that keeping our efforts at 50/50. 

9. Don't compare yourself to other couples. Grass might seem greener on the other side, but every marriage is unique and you'll drive yourself nuts speculating about the rest or imitating them. You are you. Enjoy the uniqueness that is your marriage and aim to be the best couple in spite of those other couples around you. This isn't to say you shouldn't admire other couples - this just means don't measure yourselves against others. Instead measure yourself against the couple you were one year ago, 5 - 10-  20 years ago. Now that's a great comparison that hopefully illustrates just how far you've come, how much you've grown and how much better your marriage has become.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sorry you couldn't make it to the party. Here is your bill.

We have all been there. Your kid comes home with an invitation to his classmate's party. Everyone is excited and you happily RSVP. Then something comes up. Maybe it's a family emergency or maybe you just plain forgot. Now imagine that the following week your kid comes home from school and you find an invoice in his backpack from the parent of the kid's party you missed and they are charging you a no-show fee.

How would you react?

This actually happened to a family in England. When 5-year old Alex RSVP'd and then did not show up to a classmate's party due to a family event. His parents were not happy about it. The whole incident has now escalated and threats of lawsuits are being thrown around.

I believe that this is an example of how 2 wrongs don't make a right. As a parent we know how frustrating it can be to plan and pay for a birthday party and have people not RSVP and then show up, or RSVP and not show up. In this situation the courteous thing to do is to call the party host as soon as you realize you aren't going to be able to attend. This way the parent hosting the party can make the necessary arrangements. On the other hand sending an invoice through the child is not the way to handle a no-show. It is passive aggressive and down right rude.

As much as it sucks to have to eat the cost of a no-show you really just have to chalk it up to the cost of parenting.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Skittles Bag Game

Self-talk is a powerful concept. We may not realize, but we're often our own harshest critic and I see this a lot in children. I see this with the children in my day to day work and with my own children at home. It drives me mad really and I always catch my kid beating himself up with something simply like a whine and complaint because he isn't writing neatly. He'll literally hit himself with a light tap as if he's condemning his small mistake and silently berating himself. 

Might not seem like a big deal, but NEGATIVE self-talk is truly a set back for any mindset. Kids grow up believing the negative words and judgements and as adults these beliefs hold them back. We can't be there for all those moments, but we can create the opposite from happening and make that part pretty fun!

A game we play in my field of work is called the "skittles bag game." You have the children in your life pick three skittles and code each color with a question. These questions should be positive. What kid doesn't want a chance to eat candy. Let them have their candy, but first make them say a couple of great things about themselves.

For instance:

grab a green one, tell me what's the best thing about you?

grab a red one, tell me what you like best about yourself physically?

grab a yellow one, tell me how you made a difference today?

grab an orange one, tell me what you LOVE most about yourself?

and on and on...  the possible questions are endless!

Having kids get in the habit of complimenting themselves is a great habit to create.  This isn't meant as a way to build boastful character, but to create instances where children understand that how they speak about themselves matters! They must become their biggest fans and aim to be happy with themselves first and foremost. This also reinforces that what others believe doesn't matter more than their own beliefs. Their self-love and acceptance at an early age causes a profound impact stretching many, many years into adulthood.