Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Just Say "No!"

There is something wrong in the world. In the parenting world, that is. Parents everywhere are going against their gut instinct and giving kids relatively constant permission.

I think we are telling our kids "Yes" too much.
We let our kids wear us down. We give permission when we really want to deny them. Our kids protest and so we, the adults give in. We make rules and then we change them.

Why do we do this? And if we chronically say yes how will our kids ever deal with the day when someone tells them no? A college professor perhaps? Or a boss? You know, in the real world?

Who doesn't want their kids to be happy? I mean I've never asked a parent I've worked with what their dreams are for their child only to hear "I want them to be miserable". That would be silly. We all want our children to be happy and we want them to be happy with us. We want their little lives, from the time they are born until they leave our nest, to be one long string of happy memories. And that's very noble. I certainly want that for my kids as well. But isn't it unrealistic? Is our job as parents to make our kids as happy as possible or as prepared as possible? When did we come to believe the responsibility of their happiness should rest on our shoulders?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Bench Warmer


Friday, January 27, 2012

Do We Look Poor? Finance Friday

This is my daughter.
She's been competing every Saturday on her high school speech team with an essay I posted here a few weeks ago. She's doing very well. She's improved greatly since her first competition. She's climbed from not placing, to sixth to her best ranking; 3rd. All with the same speech.

Her topic? Poverty. Or more specifically the new face of poverty. (You really should take 5 minutes to read it).

As my oldest she is more aware than her siblings of our family's current financial situation.
She knows what I tell her but because of her maturity she knows more than I think she knows.
(like when she caught me swiping the food card at the grocery store a few weeks back despite my best covert efforts)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Here's why...

I got a million flippin' excuses just like everybody else as to why I don't have the time to write.

But just to be clear - lemme line them up for you.

Today I:
got up at 6 am
got ready
woke my son up at 6:30 am
took out the dog, packed my breakfast, poured a cup of coffee
warmed up the van.

I clocked in at 7 am
wrestled with the safe - literally, wrestled -
ran my blood pressure sky high,
attempted to do thousands of dollars of math,
while warding off aforementioned panic attack,
and single handedly opened the retail store.

Then I managed people,
ran reports,
lost twenty bucks,
failed a pop quiz,
learned how to make an automated cash order
(1,300 dollars anyone?)
and chased down runaway shopping carts
(please for the love of all that is good - people! please put your carts back in a corral! Don't make me chase it down!).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Stuggling with a Struggle

Don't mistake me for a masochist, hear me out.

There's a student at Monmouth College who was highlighted in our local newspaper recently. He's trying to make it into the music business as a performer. Apparently he's had some breakthroughs and may indeed be on his way to making a name for himself. That's cool, right?

Realizing the odds are not in his favor to have long term success performing, the student said he is learning the business side of the industry as well studying music management.

Smart, right?

I thought so too. Until I read his quote, "I am getting older. My parents don't want me to graduate (and struggle). It is a difficult road to follow," he said, adding he has worked to learn "as many different aspects of the music business as possible.”

Which makes me ask the question: why are we so afraid of the struggle?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hi, I'm Stephanie

Hi! What's your name?

It's nice to meet you!

My name is Stephanie and if you've found me today because of my guest post on Julie Lindsey's blog Musings from the Slush Pile thanks for taking the time to click over to my site.
Julie's was my first guest post ev-ah! and I am so thankful to her for the opportunity.

I'm nervous you won't like my blog or worse it won't catch your attention and you'll click by before I get a chance to meet you.

Truth is my blog itself isn't probably going to impress you.
I barely know how to set up a template.
I know nothing about WordPress.
I have a only handful of subscribers (who love me! Mu'wah! to you faithful readers I love you more!)
and my only writing "jobs" don't pay.


But I write from my heart.
And my heart is full lately.
Full of empathy for the over-worked, stressed-out parents out there who need just a s'midge of motivation (I call it Practical Parenting)
encouragement for the spiritually dry or cynical (Life thru my Lens)
to change the way you think about people living in poverty as statistically our family falls below .... quite a bit below .... national average household income levels (Finance Friday)
while raising 5 kids and supporting my student-husband AND trying to be a writer.

I'm struggling and learning and writing and sharing it all on my blog.
I made a decision 16 months ago that no matter what comes my way I will choose to live out my story well.

Come plot twists and betrayal and bread crumbs and minimum wage jobs ...
I will live my life, walk my journey and realize it all makes for one great story.
This is my blog.

I am writing a better story.

I thank you for visiting today!

I really, really thank you!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Don't mistake me for a  masochist, hear me out.

There's a student at Monmouth College who was highlighted in our local newspaper recently (read the article here). He's trying to make it into the music business as a performer. Apparently he's had some breakthroughs and may indeed be on his way to making a name for himself. That's cool, right?

The journalist asked why is the student in college studying if he had his sight set on playing. He replied he is learning the business side of the industry as well because in the chance he doesn't "make it" he wants a career to fall back on; music management.

Smart, right?

I thought so too. Until I read his quote, "I am getting older. My parents don't want me to graduate (and struggle). It is a difficult road to follow," he said, adding he has worked to learn "as many different aspects of the music business as possible.

Which makes me ask the question:

Why are we so afraid of the struggle?

So many people spend so much time and effort avoiding difficulty and/or work ceaselessly to never struggle.

Isn't that exhausting?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Internet Issues

image from
I love the Internet. Because of the World Wide Web I know how to cook a perfect restaurant-style steak, tie a scarf like a fashionista, watch my favorite television shows, advance my writing career and keep in touch with my friends in the United Kingdom.

But I could also get hacked, catch a virus, have my identity stolen and look at unclothed men and women.

Which are all things I am uninterested in doing.

While I do what I can to keep the hackers and viruses at bay I can't always, try as I might, keep the pornographic images off my screen. (You know what I mean if you have ever searched "how to make a cherry pie".)

It's kinda scary to think those images are so freely available. Wherever I can access the Internet I have a completely straight connection to graphic and restricted images. Gone are the days when pornography was purchased in the dimly lit back corner of a store.

So then why would I ever, in a million years give my children unsupervised, unrestricted access to the Internet?

We have in mass given our children smart phones, video gaming systems, handheld devices and tablets while purchasing high speed Internet and granting them free surfing reign.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Menu Monday

Oh, Menu Monday, how I've missed thee. The holidays and basketball seasons have overwhelmed my life with quick meals, missed meals and yes, Gasp!, drive thru happy meals. In fact, true story, I've been so absent from my local grocery store that when I did go through my favorite checkers line last Saturday she actually said, "how have you been? I haven't seen you in forever!" This is true because A.) you can't forget a grocery bill the size of mine too easily and B.) I shop frequently. So here it is. On a budget, semi-homemade meals that are easy to make and will keep your family happy and healthy! Enjoy!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Jeans vs the Sweater: Finance Friday

Somewhere along the line of the development of the "American Dream" we've somehow conveyed to ourselves that
success = money.
And having money frees us up to consume.
To buy.
To have.
To own.

But I think this is a very dangerous motto to adopt.
Money isn't a guarantee of happiness (ask Bernie Madoff)
nor is it proof you've lived a successful life (Paris Hilton)
or even a long life (Steve Jobs).

In fact, the Good Book tells us "The love of money is the root of all evil" 1 Timothy 6
Don't misread that quote - Money isn't evil...
the love of it is.

The love of money makes people do crazy things.
Like buy stuff they don't need.
(really you need a newer T.V. ??!??)
buy stuff they don't use
(you need more clothes??!?? the twenty shirts you have aren't enough?)
pay for space to house all our unused stuff
(storage units)
and update perfectly functional gadgets and mobile devices
(new iPhone, anyone?)

I recently complained to a friend about a sweater I owned. I said I didn't like it because it was embarrassing how old it was. He challenged me with "So what? It's in perfectly fine condition!". He was right. It was fine. It wasn't terribly outdated. It fit nicely. Why did I feel the need to update it and replace it when it was still perfectly .... cute??

Two days ago I was wearing my favorite jeans;

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Excited! Here I go!

I couldn't be any more excited ... I almost just peed my pants.
OK, I didn't almost but I am really, really excited!

I kinda had this feeling - but I was afraid to say it out loud.
Maybe I thought it would jinx it.
Or maybe I was wishfully dreaming more than actually having a premonition.

But it seems I might have been right.
I kinda have been having the feeling that this year was gonna be a big step
forward for me and my writing career.

Over Christmas break I vowed, plotted, planned and researched how to give my blog a bit of an update so that it would be all polished and professional and .... BIG (aka important looking) if when (??) the "right" people found it stumbled across it.
But I haven't had time to do that freshening up yet.

Instead, in the 10 days that it's been 2012, I:

  • am being considered by author, Alicia Britt Chole to be a contributor for her new 7th Year e-journey
  • am going to be a guest blogger for Julie Lindsey 
  • need to gather up 3 - 4 samples of my work to submit to somebody who knows somebody at GateHouse Media

-*-*-* doing the happy dance -*-*-*

and that's in addition to my:

and that's in addition to:

  • supporting the hubby's return to college
  • mothering my 5 children
  • working part time for the school
  • working part time at the store
  • keeping my house clean organized picked up
  • working part-part time for EMERGE

So wanna know what I say about all that?
Your dreams will never come to you until #1, you know what they are.
So first - find your dream.
Then do the work. All the hard, seemingly meaningless little annoying steps that start your journey towards your dream.
and then work more.
Work and wait.

That's what I'm going to tell my kids. Regardless whether I am ever an "official" or "real" author. I am going to tell my kids to chase their dreams and then work for them. Work hard. Work hard when no one is looking. Work hard on the little tasks. Work hard on the big tasks. Work hard. And wait. And work hard some more.

Because dreams come.
They just don't fall out of the sky.
At least mine don't.

Buckle up Sikorski, here you go!

What are your dreams? Do you know what they are? Do you know how to get there? Start by doing what's next. Then do what's next after that. Don't quit. Work. 

To Write a Better Story

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Where's my Cape (or when Motherhood sucks)

image from here
I am every woman. I can bring home the bacon and I can fry it up in a pan. I can work in the home, out of the home and on my mobile device. I am a perfect blend of post-modern thinking and traditionalist values. I can dress it up or down and sauté shrimp scampi and deep fry chicken nuggets. But there is one simple thing I cannot do. I cannot get sick.

Despite the fact that it is cold and flu season.

I am sure that doctors, nurses, pharmacists and teachers feel that this is certainly the most unfortunate time of the year but no one dreads cold and flu season more than one single solitary individual; the mother, especially this mother of five children. 

Nursing our sick children back to health requires professional strength disinfectant, a functioning 24/7 laundromat, all night vomit festivals and nerves of steel. Our days become consumed with germs, toilet bowl cleaning and carpet cleaner. It's a terrible, terrible thing for a person to endure. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. 

But as we all know even despite the proper precautions sickness is a wickedly fast vagabond looking to set up shop in whatever available body it can find. And God help the woman who falls ill because if you're a mother you know your family is not going to help you out one iota. 

Even though my family has never seen a cape they live as if I am the superwoman of impenetrable, walking health. Our families literally cannot comprehend that it is possible for us to get sick. Or rather become so sick we cannot help them. We could be bent over the toilet yakking our intestines out while our children ask us what's for dinner. 

So rather than deal with the unsympathetic attitudes hoisted on us, it's simply easier to treat our symptoms as best as we can and trudge on through our day. And that's what I did recently. Until I could trudge no more.

It felt like poison had saturated the lining of my stomach. If I had the capacity I would have pulled my own stomach out with my bare hands. Surely, I thought in my mid-vomit delirium, having no stomach would feel better than keeping the one I had. Retching uncontrollable my twins stood outside the bathroom door and said, "Hey Mom? Are you going to be done soon so we can finish our game?"

Just minutes before my kids mistook my fetal position on the couch as a sign that I wasn't, and I quote, "doing anything" so they propped up a game on the coffee table. Three rolls of the die later I was running to the bathroom. 

I decided then and there to put myself to bed. But here's the problem when you go to bed before the rest of your family. They don't know what to do. Moms are always the last ones to go to bed. So my family floundered about, barging into my bedroom-turned-ICU to ask me questions and relay the boring details of their day to me (really, honey now is not a good time to tell me about your school lunch). Because laying there under piles of blankets, alternatingly shaking from chills and breaking out in a sweat must have communicated to them I wanted to be their personal, captive audience. 

It was just wrong.

That's why the next morning I cleaned myself up, got dressed and did my best to stay vertical which mistakenly gave the impression I had been miraculously healed overnight. Which of course means their life can return as normal.

And life did need to get back to normal. That's why eight anti-diarrhea caplets later I felt it safe to attend an all day basketball tournament. Being gone from home for twelve hours also meant we had to eat out because there was no food at home to pack along as the kids had been left to fend themselves for two days. I had no choice but to give into their demands for burgers and fries.

So my first meal after a nasty 48 hour flu bug? A big juicy all beef patty with special sauce lettuce and cheese (with a Pepto-Bismol® chaser of course). And you know what? I kept it all in. Which at the time felt extremely foolish but today makes me wonder - maybe I am a super woman after all.

You can get your flu shots. You can bathe in antibacterial hand gel. You can even quarantine the kids but when the angry flu bug does find you don’t expect any sympathy from your children. Do your best to get well and when you pick yourself up off your bathroom floor go out and get yourself a cape. Because any woman who survives the flu and parenthood simultaneously deserves superhero status in my book. Why? Because I’m the mom and I said so! That’s why!

This article appears in the 1/10/12 edition of The Review Atlas a GateHouse Media company. Stephanie is a Parent Educator for the Monmouth-Roseville School District. She will use the five pounds she dropped with her recent bout of the flu to jump start a diet she’s been meaning to get to. You can reach her at

To Write a Better Story

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