Thursday, June 28, 2012

If Stress Makes You Stupid, Then I'm Getting Dumber By the Day!

We're almost out of the mud. I know this, I can see the light, but the daily struggle doesn't feel any easier. Do you ever wish we could just go back to the days of the caves, where we had all we needed just by hunting and foraging? Or even the days of trade. I've got a nice bunch of basil growing, now can I have some milk?

Did you know that stress actually causes brain damage? It kills off cells required for memory. Perhaps that's why you feel a little foggy when the stress of life is raining down heavily. You can't quite see through the curtain of water falling down around you. You know something is there, you just can't quite grasp it.

Stress causes illness. It weakens the immune system. Stress decreases your creative ability. I'm feeling the impact of this one. Stress shortens your temper - unfortunate for my sweet children during summer vacation. And for me, at least, it lowers my self-esteem. Which, in turn, exaggerates the other negative effects of stress.

Soon, I know. But why not today? When will the knots in my stomach release? When will my shoulders relax? When will I have the time to really be with my children without thinking of the articles I have due or the website I should be working on that will allow me to buy some groceries to feed my family or even thoughts of the laundry that is piling up again... when will those thoughts stop stealing half of my attention from them?

When will I feel focused, rested and free? At peace in my skin and my surroundings? When will the best of me be able to shine through? When will life feel secure again?

 I'm adding this post to this blog hop!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ethos: Morning Star - An Unordinary Book Review

There's a reason I don't read much fiction anymore. When I start a good book, I simply can't put it down. It consumes me until the last page. My husband thinks I'm distant, my 3 kids clamor for my attention and my house ends up in disarray.

That is precisely what happened when I read Ethos: Morning Star by Desiree Finkbeiner. The author's voice is unique, compelling and the story gripping. It is the first of a series of three, written in the first-person voice of a college student named Brianna. Huge, beautiful dragonflies appear setting off a series of events that change her life forever, including the appearance of a handsome stranger.

It's got romance, adventure, and plenty of supernatural drama, but what makes this book stand out is its message, which is gracefully delivered by Finkbeiner. Essentially, it is about choice. To take action or remain complacent in a world that needs every person to stand up and do their part. It's about being responsible for the effect of our actions (or inaction).

My children are a bit too young for this material, it's PG-13 and they're 2, 5 and 7, so I got to curl up with this one on my own. When they are old enough, it will definitely be on their reading list. This book and its message matter. It teaches without preaching in a way that teens and young adults (and even older ones) can appreciate. They may not even realize how profound the message is for some time.

When I finished this book I had the same feeling as when I finished Clan of the Cave Bear nearly 20 years ago. That book had the most impact on my life, my outlook and my spirituality than any other piece of literature ever. Ethos has a similar potential to impact a person's life, helping them to take responsibility for the choices they choose to make. That sounds redundant, I know, but it isn't really. It isn't redundant because in my experience, most people aren't conscious that every single action is a choice. We say, "He made me," or "I had to," but the truth is, "I chose to."

It's a very important lesson I'm trying to teach my children. There's a space between action/event and reaction/non-action. That space equals our human gift of conscious choice. So, when one of my kids hits the other and tells me their sibling "made" them do it because they grabbed a toy or pushed them, I have to gently, and age appropriately, explain "choice."  Those behaviors of my children don't "make" me yell at them, but sometimes I "choose" to, simply because I haven't exercised my patience-muscle enough to make a better choice.

The reason the "choice lesson" comes through so naturally in this book is likely because of the wonderful character development. The reader quickly comes to care about the two main characters and I found myself drawn into their emotions very easily. I was invested in them.

I loved this book and I'm grateful to Desiree for contacting me for a review. If she hadn't, I probably would have missed out on this new favorite of mine simply because it's listed as Sci-fi - not the genre I typically lean toward. I honestly can't wait to read the next installment!!

Do yourself a favor and read the first book of Ethos, Morning Star. You won't regret it. Then come back and tell me what you thought.

Available for Kindle for just $2.99 and in print for $14.99 (nothing beats a paperback, in my opinion)!

You can learn more about Desiree Finkbeiner and her books through these links:

Author website:

Author Blog on Blogger:

Author facebook fanpage:
Author G+:
Author twitter:
Action Adventure Fantasy Book Trailer #1:
Paranormal Romance Fantasy Book Trailer #2:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Toddler Toilet Tuesdays - Updates and Tips

Toddlers Love Toilets!
Summer is here, yet Autumn is just around the corner and many moms are hoping their little one will be ready for preschool by September. "Ready" really means "potty trained!" So, I'm throwing out "Tuesday Tips & Tricks" for the summer and introducing "Toddler Toilet Tuesdays" where I will update you on my own progress with my 2-year-old son and offer up tips to make it work for you and yours without the stress.

I refuse to use the term "training" as you may know from previous articles (3 Reasons I Refuse to Potty Train and Potty Without Training), however, the boy is ready and I can't afford diapers anymore, so here we are.

Last week The Boy stayed at Grandma's house for 3 days without me, along with his sisters, but more importantly his 3-year-old male cousin. They are 13 months apart, with mine turning 3 in September and my nephew turning 4 in August. The moment The Boy saw his cousin using the toilet, he immediately wanted to. So my mother and sister tell me, The Boy kept his daytime diapers dry all week.

OK, I decided it was time to step up my encouragement method a bit. He has the underwear, so let's put it on him. My method is to take him to the toilet every hour and additionally, 20-minutes after consuming any beverage. It's 10am and he's on his second pair, but he's gone on the toilet 3 times already, including a number 2 (we've been up since 7am).

Today's Toilet Tips:

  1. Step up the encouragement only once your child is ready and has already expressed an interest in the toilet and used it occasionally.
  2. Keep things relaxed! Don't make a big deal if he pees in his undies or even on the floor. Just say, "Oops. Pee pee belongs in the toilet, OK? Let's get you a new pair of undies. Then hand him a towel so he can clean up the pee. 
  3. After 3 "accidents" go ahead and put a pull-up back on if you don't have the patience or you're out of underwear (my boy only has 3 pair!). As long as you keep everything nonchalant you won't lose any progress. Freak out about things and you'll be back in diapers for a few more days or even weeks.  
How's your toddler's progress? Let's get through this together! I'm on my third child here, so if you have questions ask away!

Monday, June 18, 2012

When It Rains, It Pours With Broken Things and Sick Kids

Things break. We survive.
Well, this month's car payment just went toward parts and labor for my refrigerator. Why does it always seem that everything breaks and happens at once? Last week my hairdryer broke down right in the middle of   drying it - not a good thing when you're diffusing naturally curly hair! Plus, I was out of product.

If your fridge breaks down right after a major shopping trip, dash to the nearest store selling ice and load up your freezer to keep it cold. Throw all perishables in the freezer, the lower the better! I left only my fruit and herbs in the fridge and put the meat and dairy in the freezer. Thankfully, the frozen food stayed frozen (well, except for the ice cream and popsicles) and the rest stayed cold!

If you run out of hair product and you're trimming expenses due to a lack of greenbacks, use a dime-size amount of conditioner instead! Works beautifully!! I may not ever go back to gel.

Two out of three kids are hacking away their days and it's only a matter of time for the third. It's croup for babes and just a cold for big kids. It gets easier as they get older and I'm grateful for that. Only the littlest (2 & 3/4) is clingy and whiny. Tonight will be an early bedtime for all 3 since they stayed up late with Papa last night. Now he's off again to earn us some living. We'll miss him, but I'm looking forward to getting some work done around here.

As soon as the boy wakes (and I'd better wake him soon) we're off to put what little we have in the bank, return some library books and pick up some moving boxes from a generous person. I wish I had more to deposit so we had some wiggle room. Won't someone please respond to my Craigslist ads! The more we sell the less we have to pack (and then I can make a car payment!).

How's your life?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Singing My Way Through The Day

This week I've driven from Grand Rapids to Detroit; Detroit to Grand Rapids; Grand Rapids to Traverse City; Traverse City to Detroit and Detroit back to Grand Rapids. All from Sunday to Thursday. That's about 13 hours of driving. Most of it was on my own. Alone. 8 of those driving hours it was just me - no children or husband! I rather enjoyed it.

I re-discovered a secret I knew once upon an unmarried time: Singing can get me through anything, including very long drives.

It's amazing how much more effective belting my lungs out to a great musical is than coffee! I listened to (and essentially performed)  Jekyll And Hyde, The Phantom of the Opera (Toronto cast - yes, that matters), Chess (London company) plus some Indigo Girls and Pat Benatar for good measure! I thought I had Into the Woods , but just as I was ready to get a little witchy, I discovered the CD case was empty.

Ah well, I had what I needed to get me from one place to another. I may have strained a vocal chord trying to hit notes in Phantom that I used to sing with ease, but it played out well when it was time for Pat! Love her!

Singing has been my emotional outlet since I was a little girl. My husband's musical tastes differ vastly from mine, so after marrying we met in the middle with Miles Davis and Pink Floyd; singing my way through the day became a thing of the past.

It's important to embrace those parts of us that make us feel just as we should. Singing does that for me. I was so in the habit by the time I picked up my kids and drove the last leg of my trip that I kept right on singing. It put my boy right to sleep for 2 hours and it introduced my girls to a potential new love! At least they enjoyed Mommy's singing!

What do you love? What activity makes you feel like you?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Tips & Tricks - Getaways

Just the lake, my man and me!
Todays Tip: Have a getaway with your hubby!

Marital satisfaction dips waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down after children enter the picture. It's sad but true that the most meaningful thing you'll ever do in your life (have kids) can cause incredible stress to the relationship they were born from!

My husband and I manage to sneak in a date night here and there and skipping the chaos of dinner & bedtime with the kids can work wonders for us, but this week I've discovered the benefit of a getaway. There's nothing quite like having a few days without any parenting responsibilities whatsoever (except singing a bedtime song over the phone each evening).

This week, my hubby and I are on a necessary getaway - he's started his job in a new city and I'm house-hunting. My parents agreed to take our 3 kids for a few days and we're on our own! Since we're moving to a rather touristy area, it feels just like a vacation. Especially since I get to sit here and write while he works (hee hee!).

This is the first time I've ever left my boy with anyone overnight. I was nervous, but he's doing fine and having fun and the girls love Grandma, so everyone is happy!

Life is busy and stressful, but make no excuses - making your marriage a priority is good for the whole family and is the best way to ensure you stay a family. We're broke, starting over and highly stressed, but here we are on our own for the first time in years. We're holding hands walking down the street, taking our time, enjoying the quiet and each other.

What are your couple plans for the summer? Do you have family who can watch your little ones for a couple of nights or a babysitter you trust for an overnight?