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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Staying Connected to your TEEN

Teens are going through soooo much trying to find themselves and control their eMoTioNs that we as parents need to be there for them and STAY CONNECTED!!!

If you aren't there for them and don't have a good solid connection, they will find it somewhere else. They may have a hard time expressing themselves and may lash out, so as a parent, you cant take it personally. Staying connected is about building closeness in a relationship by being available and responsive to the other person. More then just spending time around each other, but with each other.

My Son turning TEEN, taking his buddies camping
Here are some tips to try to remember:

Be a sounding board rather then always giving them advice. Advice makes them feel that they cant figure stuff out on their own. They need to learn things on their own, but be a good listener so they can share their results with you. Give them your full attention and show them that they are the most important thing to you at that moment, rather then checking your phone, favorite blog ;) and so forth.

Eat together as a family!! TALK! Turn off the TV, PHONE, etc. BE together. We open conversation at the table by taking turns telling each other the High & Low parts of our day. It's great bc every person at the table gets their moment to talk and it really opens up insight into whats going on with them.

Stay connected with their friends!! If you want them hanging out at your house then you have to provide a warm and fun environment. Make sure to have FOOD!!!  Also, Stay connected with their friends parents. Ck in with a quick call or text once in awhile. My son isn't a huge talker so this is where I usually get most of my info.~friends and other parents! He always wonders how I know everything! lol I love it bc it opens up conversation with me having specific questions.

Let them have their own opinions. They will be moving out in a few short years and you aren't raising a mini me, you are raising an independent person and individual you can be proud of. Your job is to raise an adult not a child that cant think on their own.

When they tell you something in private, don't share it with anyone else, esp on Facebook!! They hate that and its def a deal breaker and they will stop sharing stuff with you. Need to maintain trust and respect.

Don't try to change the way they look. They are trying to find their identity and if your constantly telling them to get their hair out of their face, it makes them feel rejected, not confident. Unless they are smelly, def let them know!! he he

Go to their events, may it be a sporting event, music performance, school assembly. Show your support by being there, but try not to be a hoverer (its hard I KNOW!)

Try to connect with them EVERYDAY. Even if its only for 5 minutes after the younger siblings go to bed, or in the car ride home. Do something they enjoy, like shoot hoops, hiking, biking, or listen to their new favorite music. We like to wrestle, bc its fun, it makes us laugh and I can still show him that I am stronger then him (which wont be much longer!) If you create regular and routine opportunities for your child to open up, they will. They most likely wont just ask to talk about something that is bothering them.

They have alot going on in their heads and their hormones are going crazy, usually parents are not on the top of their list. So try to remind them why you should be on their list. Take them out to breakfast and just hang without any distractions. No pressure, just hang.

DON'T wait to stay CONNECTED!! If you wait 'til you notice that there is a problem without establishing a relationship, its will be really hard to get through to them.

As simple as it may sound, acknowledge them when they leave and come home. May it be just a hello or a hug, DO IT!! They say that married couples that hug when separating live longer. So why not your children!

Staying connected is important, it will help when your teen starts to have more freedom esp once they get their license! EK!! So you need to set parameters, guidelines and communicate with them. It is all out of love and for their safety. Don't fall into "everyone else is doing it" or "their parents let them". Both don't fly with me and it shouldn't with you!

See how they respond to situations that others have gone through. I always tell him a story I hear on the news, from childhood experiences or simply just make them up to see what he thinks about them. I tell stories about underage drinking, drugs, guns etc. and see how he responds then tell him my views on the subject. Letting them know how you feel and your opinions will stick with them.

A great way to get your child to open up to you on what they know in general about sex, drugs, etc to ask them!! When my son asks to watch a specific more mature movie and if I haven't already seen it, I look up info about it. I ask him to tell me what he already knows on the subject, then I decide if he is ready to watch it. If he doesn't tell me anything then he cant watch it, that simple.I don't want him to learn important subjects from actors even if he doesn't think its fair. I also ask him if there is anything that he may have heard from friends that he didn't know what it meant and I can clarify it for him. Don't make things off limits, allow them to ask anything.  I tell my son to do it when his younger siblings are not around.  My favorite thus far was, "what is a douche bag?" Don't be afraid to talk to them openly about subjects, they are going to learn it somewhere, better from YOU.

Set realistic expectations for them. If you don't set them, they wont meet them!

Help your teen reach THEIR goals. Let them be who they want to be in the world. This support will show them that you love them and respect them as young adults.

Don't be their friends, be their parent! They need someone to enforce the rules and consequences.

Most and foremost- believe in them! Show them unconditional love and know that they are not perfect and will make mistakes. Let them! They only learn by doing.

Kaden & Matty-Sparkly Polliwog offspring being silly
                   Don't forget that they are still KIDS! And they want to have a good time and be silly!! Be silly with them!!! I know that my son has only been a teenager for less then year, but so far so good. I am excited to see what the next few years will have in store for us. I plan on staying connected and keep building on our relationship. I know it wont always be easy, but whats the fun in life being boring?!! Everyday is an adventure and the bumps in the road are learning experiences on the road of being a parent! Loosen up and LIVE!!! You only have one life and chose to be connected with your child. Start today bc this day will never come again.

Love being a teen mom~Brandi

Heather's view on her pre-teen:

When Brandi first mentioned she wanted to do a blog about raising teens, I had mixed emotions. I could probably write a book about how to parent any other age up until 12. With my pre-teen I feel like I still have so much to learn.  When my oldest son started middle school I felt like I went from the BEST mom to the WORST mom in a matter of minutes!  Every day I would ask myself the same questions......What happened to my sweet, caring, loving son?  How does he know exactly what to say to push every one of my buttons and make me feel bad?  Why is he always so grouchy? How much does boarding school cost? :)

I started reading every book I could find on raising teenagers and I still felt like just a mediocre parent.  What makes a "GREAT" parent?  Are my parenting skills going to make or break him?  That's A LOT of pressure to put on yourself!  I was doing exactly what Brandi mentions not to do....... taking everything personal!  When he was grouchy I would feel responsible. I would go to my room on many nights and cry myself to sleep. I wasn't there for him when he was feeling bad and needed me because I was so caught up with my own emotions. Then I finally asked myself, "What is the one thing that I want for my son?" That was, surprisingly, the easiest question to answer....... happiness.  All the things that I thought really mattered... didn't. After seeing my son so unhappy in 6th grade, everything changed.  His good grades didn't seem so important.  I just wanted him to be happy. I wanted him to be able to look at a bad grade and not feel like a failure.  Not only was I putting very high standards on myself, but I was putting them on him also. I now tell my boys the story about Babe Ruth hitting the most home runs and getting the most strike outs in baseball history, all in the same year.  I will strike out as a parent sometimes, but I am going to try and enjoy every minute of it!
After I stopped stressing, I found many ways to enjoy the time with my pre-teen!

- We started a journal together.  I would write in it and leave it on his bed when I was done.  He could ask me anything he had questions about and I could stay connected to him without hovering. Make sure not to leave it out when friends come over!  

- We started reading a book called Just For Boys.  We would just read a page a night and then talk about it a little.  We both learned a lot and it was a great way to spend extra time with him at night.

                                             Just For Boys: A Book About Growing Up

- Instead of telling him, "Get off your iPod," I now tell him he has 5 or 10 minutes to be off.  It gives him time to finish what he is doing and shut it down without me yelling at him.  I am always telling my boys to treat people the way you want to be treated and I wouldn't like being in the middle of something and someone yelling at me to get off now.  It lets him know that I respect him as a person and that I'm not just here to tell him what to do.

- With three boys in the house its not always easy to get alone time with Dad.  My husband and I decided that our pre-teen needs some time to talk movies, new apps and video games alone with his dad.  One night a week they get to go out to dinner with each other. Of course he tries to get in some personal questions also, but he doesn't always get much of a response. :)

- My Father-in-Law was over and I was complaining about what a slob my son was.  He responded, "He's a boy! I would be worried if he wasn't a slob!"  I never thought about it like that!  He has too many important things he's thinking about to worry about towels on the ground, or dirty socks laying around.  I now pick them up and smile.  I talk to him at night and try and remind him to pick up his things but I don't make a big deal about it. If he does pick it up on his own, I make sure and tell him how much I appreciate his help.  I was a HUGE slob when I was a kid and now I spend EVERYDAY cleaning. 

- Sorry to say this moms, but as your boys get older, most won't want to hug and kiss you as much as they used to. :(  I told my pre-teen that I need at least two hugs and two kisses a day.  When he leaves for school, he always smiles and gives me a hug and a kiss.  He knows he doesn't have to do it in front of his friends and we have made it into a little joke.  I always say, "Have you filled your daily quota?" :)  I think now, more then ever, he needs to know how much I love him and this is a great way to tell him.  I also tell him, "I love you," EVERY chance I get! :)

- I started a chart for him so he can earn money at the end of each week if he finishes all of his responsibilities.  If he finishes everything for that week, he gets to double the amount of money!  I don't have to be on him all day with what needs to be done.  He can decide for himself what order to finish his chores in.  We don't allow electronics until everything is done.  The chart really gives him the space he and I both need.  Its hard to make sure 3 kids are getting all their things done.  I always make sure to let him know how responsible he is when he has finished everything for that day.

Each day I add a new chore.  After all the numbers are circled I sign for that day. 

- While reading a book called What Do You Really Want for Your Children?, I came across a wonderful way to handle your kids when they are being disrespectful.  I now just tell my son that I have too much respect for myself to listen to such talk.  I will not tolerate you talking to me in that manner, now or ever again.  Do we understand each other?  Then I go into another room or have him go to his room for some space.  I don't let his mood affect mine anymore.  It's wonderful!

                                                       What Do You Really Want for Your Children? By: Wayne W. Dyer

I still have plenty of days that I have to head to the library for some more parenting books, but I now look at my strikeouts as ways of learning to hit Home Runs!!!!

Don't sweat the small stuff.... its not worth your time! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxxo

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Valentine's Day Gifts Your Valentine Will Always Remember!

Roses are Red,
Violets are Blue,
If you want some great ideas for Valentine's Day, then read on and you'll know just what to do!

Valentine's Day is a fun day to show that special someone just how much you love them!  I love my kids bunches, but this day is really for my hubby! I think my boys seeing their parents in love on Valentine's Day is much more special then a box of chocolates.  I help them make cards for their classes and then get busy planning out something special for my main squeeze!

You don't need a lot of money to show your love.  In fact..... its just the opposite! Here are some cheap and fun ways to say I LOVE YOU!

- One year I covered the inside of my husband's car in post-it notes before work with reasons why I love him written all over them!  It looked awesome and my husband had a huge smile on his face when he was reading them all.

- How about a romantic dinner served by your kids!  Let them set the table, pour the wine, serve the dinner and light the candles.  When they are done, they can head into another room to watch a movie and have a special kids only meal that you prepared ahead of time.

- One year my husband surprised me (after the kids went to sleep) with a room full of rose pedals, candles, wine, my favorite music and a fantastic back massage.  He didn't have to spend very much money, but it's something I will remember forever.

 - If you want to have a kid free Valentine's Day evening, but don't want to pay for a sitter, talk with a friend about kid swapping. You don't have to go out on the actual day.  It will be far less crowded if you wait a day or two before or after Feb. 14th.

- Sometimes hard working husbands or wives just need some quiet time to themselves!  Show him or her you love them by surprising them with their favorite meal, putting on their favorite movie and taking the loud, rambunctious, sweet kids out of the house.  Nothing says I LOVE YOU like quiet time after a hard days work.

- How about bath time?! Buy their favorite magazine (or a new book they have been wanting to read), put on some soft music, light some candles, and add there favorite snacks.  Take them to the bathroom, hand them a sweet love letter and shut the door!  Make sure to include a note that says, "Take all the time you want."

- Sign up for a Love the One You're With 5K.  All the money usually goes to charity and you can finish off the race with a sweet love letter, letting the one you're with know why you love them so.

- Do something you haven't done in awhile!  Like ice skating, bowling, miniature golfing, dancing or go-carts.  Follow up with an ice cream date and you'll feel like kids again when you get home. Make sure to leave the kids at home doing something fun for this date.  Remember the reason the kids are here and that the kids will be moving out one day. Don't let the flame die.

- For book lovers, meet them at a bookstore with a gift card, some flowers, a love letter and some time.  Take the kids home and let your lover peruse the whole bookstore.  You could pick out your favorite "Adults Only" book beforehand and at the bottom of the letter remind that special someone to pick it up for later.

- Do you and your Valentine like to do puzzles?  Get a new puzzle, pour some wine, make a fire, and turn on some romantic music.  Talk, laugh and enjoy each others company.  If you want to add a little spark to puzzle night, how about adding a few rules!  After 1 person gets 10 pieces then the other person has to take off 1 piece of clothing.  You will be racing to find the most matches! :)

- If your Valentine gets home after you, how about putting on your heels, lacy undies and your apron and start cooking. No pants or shirt are needed for this meal!  When he gets home, tell him he can't touch you until AFTER dinner.  By the time dinner and dessert are done he will be dying to enjoy his Valentine's gift.

- Nothing says I love you like a yummy box of chocolates! Instead of just buying a box at the store and then handing it to your Valentine, why not jazz it up a little first.  On the front you can write.... "You are sweeter than chocolate because"........... and then wrap each chocolate with a strip of paper with a reason why your sweetie is so darn sweet.  It doesn't cost you any more money, but the smile on your Valentine's face will make all the extra time you spent well worth it.

- Lets face it girls, guys are very visual creatures.  They won't notice if you've put on a few pounds or got your hair done, but they will notice a new bra and panties!  Pour yourself a drink before he gets home and get ready to give him a Valentine's gift he will always remember..... A STRIP TEASE!  They have a great book called The Housewife's Guide to the Practical Striptease that will show you exactly what to do.  If you are still too embarrassed, then just blindfold him!  Have arrows pointing him where he needs to go. Using his favorite candy bars for the arrows is fun and then you will have something to eat as an after show snack.  At the end of the arrows have a chair, a blindfold and a note telling him to put it on.  You could put a drink next to the chair for him to chug down before putting on the blindfold.  Start the music and start dancing.  He won't be able to see you but he will feel you every time you brush up against him.  You only have one husband....... enjoy him and let him enjoy beautiful, sexy you! :) 

- Does your Valentine like wine?  How about a wine tasting at home!  Buy a few new bottles of wine, some cheese, grapes,and crackers.  Set it all up on a blanket next to a cozy fire...... it will be the BEST wine tasting you have ever been to!

I hope these ideas help you plan a beautiful, love filled Valentine's Day!  Show that someone special just how much they mean to you.  If you are single at the moment, then plan something special for yourself! 
We all deserve to be pampered. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox 
P.S......The new Die Hard movie is coming out ON Valentines Day!!  I think ANY guy would LOVE a surprise movie date.  If you don't want to see it then ask ones of his friends if he wants to go. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

VICKS Tricks

If you thought that Vicks topical cream was just for relieving throat,chest and head congestion while you sleep, then you will be surprised with this post. My moms is always like,  "Well, did you try Vicks?" I would often forget about the mentholated cream and how it really does work wonders!
                  The active ingredients are Camphor, Menthol and Eucalyptus oil.
Do not use in children under 2. There is a more gentler formula for babies that contains only  aloe vera with fragrance of eucalyptus, lavender and rosemary (for ages 3months and up).**Also, do not rub under children's noses** Was a studying done on ferrets that suggests not doing it.

Not only has it been around for over 100 hundred years, it is the most used over the counter decongestants.

BUT, that's not all!! Here are some other uses:

Feet Uses:
1- Rub all over your feet and cover with socks while you sleep. This provides night time cough relief (worked for my daughter).
2- Fungus toes can be helped if you rub on a little bit after getting out of the shower. It penetrate and kill the bacteria in less then 2 weeks!! (my mom tried and said it worked for her)
3-If you get dry, cracked feet, try rubbing Vicks on in the morning and night until it soften ups.
4-Have Athletes foot? Rub the minty rub on they dry, crusty spots twice a day.


For the SKIN:
1-Have Eczema? There isn't a cure, but rubbing the cool, minty paste can relieve the terrible itch.
2-Dab onto a zit to help your acne to subside and be less red.
3-Rosacea getting you down? Lightly rub Vicks onto red areas at night, just make sure not to get into your eyes.
4-Feel a cold sore coming on? Rub a dab onto suspected area.

For the BODY:
1-Rub the minty paste to relieve achy muscles. The Menthol acts as a local anesthetic and relieves those aches and pains!
2-Sinus Headache? Without getting it into eyes, rub onto cheek bones and forehead.
3-Got a itchy bug bite? Just a dab with do ya!
4-Itchy Skin in general? Dry elbows? Use the CREAM!!
5-Dealing with something really smelly? Apply some under the nose to mask the smell.
6-Camping or in an area with Mosquito's or Ticks? Rub some Vicks on exposed areas to keep those pesky bugs away. Already gotten bitten by the Mosquito? Rub some on the bite to relieve itch.
7-Tennis Elbow? Rub some on and wrap it up.

Try these out and let us know if they work for you and your family

Written by Brandi

Monday, January 14, 2013

Make Your own Graham Crackers

I don't know about you, but my family and I love us some Graham crackers! Esp with peanut butter or s'more ingredients! My kids like to dip theirs in milk, which makes a mess, but I totally get it! So good! So when I found out that I can make my own with ingredients that I can read, then I was all in! I love to make snacks that the kids love and I can feel good about, bc other then that they usually only get fruit. All those package snacks are loaded with ingredients I don't want to give my tikes or are expensive! So here's the recipe I found from Smittten Kitchen and tweaked to fit my family.

~makes 10 4x4.5" or 48 2' sq.
  • 2 1/2 C + 2 tbs unbleached all purpose flour (can sub 1/2 C whole wheat flour)
  • 1 C dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 7 tbs unsalted butter cold and grated
  • 1/3 C mild flavored honey like clover
  • 5 tbs milk (full fat if have)
  • 2 tbs pure vanilla extract
Topping (optional): 2 tbs granulated sugar, 1tsp ground cinnamon (mixed)

Get to Making:

    Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt into a food processor or electric mixer. Pulse or mix on low to blend then add butter until looks like coarse meal.

     In separate bowl, whisk together honey, milk, and vanilla (wet ingredients), Add to flour mixture and mix on low until dough starts to form. *If its not moist enough and wont stick together like dough-then mix another proportionate ratio of wet ingredients and add to dough (I had too, maybe bc I used my hands?)
     Lay out saran wrap and dust with flour to add your dough in a 1' thick rectangle. Wrap and chill until firm ~2hrs

Rolling out the Dough:
     Divide dough in half and roll out onto flour surface into a long rectangle ~1/8 thick. Trim edges

Now cut your dough using a pastry cutter or I used a pizza cutter to cut desired size. Traditional cut is 4 1/2", but I just went with the flow. Poke each cracker half way through with end of wooden skewer or toothpick.

Place onto non stick baking sheet or parchment paper and sprinkle with mixed topping.

Bake for 15-25 minutes on 350* or until brown and slightly firm. They wont be hard when you first take them out like a traditional cracker, so DON'T over cook!

Let cool and ENJOY!! Let us know if your family loves them as much as ours.
     Happy Snacking!

Written By Brandi

Friday, January 4, 2013

TO DIE for Chocolate Caramel Bars

WARNING!! WARNING!! These are so amazing and delicious that you will probably eat the entire batch unless you share with family and friends!!! Just wanted to warn you bc I don't want to be at fault when you cant control yourself! lol  I have this problem and often times just go with it bc why not?! I work out, I deserve a pan full of heavenly goodness. I'm sure a few crunches will burn the entire batch off, right?? My mom and sis in law both make this, one with and one without nuts for those allergic family members (my HUBBY). Both are equally as yummy. Here's the one with nuts:

  • 1 3/4 flour
  • 1 c quick oats
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 C Cold butter
  • 1 C chopped walnuts
  • 2o caramels
  • 1 14oz can eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 C chocolate chips (or more if you love the heavenly morsel)
  1. Preheat oven 375*
  2. Mix in large bowl: flour, oats, baking soda, & salt (*this is crumb mix)
  3. Cut in butter until crumbly
  4. Save 1 1/2 C of crumb mix and press rest into 13x9" pan and bake for 15 mins.
  5. Add walnuts to saved crumb mix
  6. In saucepan on low heat: melt caramel with milk
  7. Layer chocolate chips, caramel mix, then crumb mix onto pressed mix and bake for 20 minutes.
That's it! That's all it takes to make a piece of Heaven! Enjoy!!!!

written by Brandi

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Have You Shaved Your Sweater Lately?

There is no better time than on cold winter days to break out your favorite comfy sweater.  I don't always remember to wash mine inside out and almost always forget to keep them out of the dryer, which leaves fuzz balls all over them.  I have a few sweaters that were filled with fuzz balls and I would only wear them to bed. I couldn't get rid of them but I didn't want to wear them out of the house looking the way they did until...

I started shaving them!  Who knew a simple razor could make my sweaters look brand new again!

During Shaving

After Shaving

 Look at all the fuzz I shaved off of ONE sweater!

All you need is a razor!

Make sure you don't press too hard while wouldn't want to put a hole in your favorite sweater.

It took me about 30 min to do the whole thing.  Now I don't have to keep this one in my pajama drawer!


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