Take your breath away…

Maya Angelou said, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” So this is our Thanksgiving Challenge. Start a list and work on it each day. Let your spouse and kids help. Write down, not just the typical list of what you are thankful for, but the moments that have taken your breath away.

  1. The biting, cold November morning when I married my husband. (It didn’t seem cold to us!)
  2. Seeing my oldest child for the first time and realizing he was really mine.
  3. Watching my oldest child’s face when he saw his little brother for the first time and him asking when he could play.
  4. The day when I actually got a girl! It was time to play “dress-ups.”
  5. The day when my daughter yelled at me to put her baby sister back into my tummy. She still wanted her mom!
  6. Holding my youngest and knowing he was healthy despite the knot in his cord.

And this is just the beginning. Once you get started, it’s hard to stop. Your thinking turns a little differently. You see things differently. Start your list today and rediscover what has taken your breath away.


Wanted: Your Attention

While I was at work, I came across a quote that I would like to share. Jim Rohn said, “Give whatever you are doing and whomever you are with the gift of your attention.” This can apply to whatever we are involved with whether it is work, friends, projects, or hobbies. But I think the most important place we should give our full attention is in our homes with our families.

It seems that all too often our families are the ones we give the least amount of attention to. We get so caught up with all that we have to do that we don’t give our full attention to those that matter most. My 14-year old is always accusing me of not paying attention to what she says. I would like to blame it on me getting older and I just forget :), but if truth were told, I probably am not giving her my full attention.

Do we truly listen when our kids talk to us? Or do we “half” listen so we can still go about doing what we need to do? Is the TV on too often to really listen? Do we stop fixing dinner to listen? Our kids and spouses need our “gift of attention.” They deserve it.

One of my favorite times of the day is dinner time. This is a no phone/TV/music zone. We sit down as a family and really talk and laugh with one another. We discuss what went on during the day. We always get on something that makes us laugh. And it usually brings on sillyness. My girls have the ability to start laughing and acting silly, which causes everyone else to join in. I am usually the last one sitting at the table because I am talking and laughing with my kids. They get my “full” attention. It’s a good thing.

Perhaps you are already good at giving the gift of attention, but IF not, then let’s try together to be a bit better. Make a conscious effort to really listen to your kids. Make eye contact. Respond when needed. Let’s give our families what they deserve…more attention from us!

When it is wise to say “NO!”

It is shocking to me that there are so many parents who are too afraid to tell their children “no.” They want to be their friend or to be cool. But what they need is a parent! It’s OK to say no…when needed. You don’t want to constantly tell your children no. Your children do need the opportunity to make choices and to learn from those decisions. We, as parents must decide when it is necessary to say no.

In “Love and Logic” it is taught that you should “say NO as often as necessary yet as infrequently as possible.” It is a human tendency to want control. You want control as a parent, but those kids of yours also want and need some control in their own lives. Allowing your children to have some of that control is allowing them to make some choices that they can then learn from. This means only saying no when necessary and allowing your children to make some decisions…even if you know the outcome won’t be very desirable.

Here are some ideas of when you should say no. (From Dr. Charles Fay, Love and Logic Parenting)

Say “No” when life and limb are in danger. This is a no-brainer. Your children need to be protected when they are in serious danger. It’s OK to scream NO if they are running out in the street without looking, getting too close to a fast-moving river, or sticking something into the electrical outlet. This “no” comes naturally to parents, which is a good thing.  But it is also OK to say NO when your gut tells you to. Certain friends or activities may raise red flags. It’s OK to say no to these!

Say “No” when your core family values are in jeopardy. As a family you should have a core set of non-negotiable values. Your own religious values along with honesty, hard work, kindness, respect and appreciation are some of these core values that should be upheld within your family. It’s OK to say no in order to preserve these.

Say “No” more frequently when they are younger, so you will have to say it less when they are older. When children are young, you do not need to give them so much freedom. Let them choose between a blue or a red shirt. Or Cheerios or Oatmeal for breakfast. They feel like they have control and you are teaching them to make decisions. It’s OK to set limits and say no. As they get older, and have proven to be responsible, you can allow more decisions to be made on their own and you don’t have to say no quite as often.

Whenever possible, say “No” by saying “Yes” to something else. Yes is so much nicer to hear than the word no. So saying things like, “I was planning on buying you shoes that cost $35, so you can get that other pair if you can come up with the additional $60.” or “I think that would be great! We’ll go to the park as soon as all of your toys are picked up.” Your children are more likely to respond positively in these circumstances because you aren’t just saying “no.” You are saying “yes,” but your child has to do their part. If you say, “No, I will not buy you that expensive pair of shoes!” or “We aren’t going anywhere until you pick up your toys!” your children will most likely throw a fit and you won’t get anywhere with them.

Be a parent! Say NO when necessary. There is a great saying with Love and Logic. It says: “There is no greater gift we can give our kids than the gift of knowing that the path toward freedom is paved with the cobblestones of responsibility!”

Starting Family History

Sometimes we feel a little overwhelmed when we start thinking about family history. It can seem quite daunting. But, in reality, family history can start with you and your own memories. Start thinking about your own parents and grandparents. Start writing down some of those memories so you can pass that along to your own children. Memories need to be preserved.

I was thinking about my Grandma McCarthy. My mom was number seven out of eight kids. I never knew my grandpa. And when I was young, I thought my grandma was mean. I know she wasn’t, but when I was small that was the perception I had of her. I realize now that I thought that way because we didn’t get to know her. My dad’s family dominated. We did everything with them, and very rarely did anything with my mom’s side. So when I was with my grandma, I was a bit scared of her.

She was a “round” grandma. She could be stern, but as I think back, I think it was her way of kidding. We just weren’t around her much to pick up on that. She really was quite funny. And she had a great laugh.

I remember going to her house and seeing all of the salt and pepper shakers she had. When she traveled, or even when others traveled, she got a new pair. She had them from all over and they were pretty cool. We weren’t allowed to touch them, but we looked at them through the glass in her china hutch. My grandma’s house was never “kid-friendly” so we mostly sat on the couch and listened to her and my mom talk. I wish I had paid attention a little more.

I want to learn more about my grandma. She is now gone. But I still have my mom. It’s time I go and ask her questions about her mom. That’s were family history starts.

Organizing Your Scrapbooking

When I tell people that I make a new scrapbook every year for each of my kids for their birthdays, they are either impressed or they feel awful because they haven’t done anything. Most likely I will hear, “I started my son’s, but he is now 10 (11, 14, 19…) and I have only done two years. They feel discouraged and always end with “one day…I’ll get to it.” Unfortunately, if you don’t actually plan for that “one day” it most likely won’t happen.

Scrapbooking is just like everything else. In order to accomplish something, you need to plan, organize, set goals, and actually make it happen. You have to “do it.” Wishful thinking never gets the job done.

Because I do one for each kid every year, I have to be organized. I have folders on my computer for each kid based on what scrapbook I will be doing for them. For example I have Maddie18, Jerrika15, and Isaac11. I then break each of those folders down to include different aspects of the year. In Isaac’s I have The End of 4th Grade, The Beginning of 5th Grade, Cub Scouts, etc. And then with each of those folders I have additional folders inside each one. So for The Beginning of 5th Grade I have First Day of School, Awards, Artwork, Field Trips, etc.

You must break it down or you will get overwhelmed. When the kids come home with paper (art work, awards, report cards, etc.) I scan it and put it in the appropriate folder. That way it is there and I don’t have to hold onto a ton of papers  forever. This also helps when I sit down to actually do the scrapbook, because everything is already organized for me.

I take this same approach with pictures. Put them in their appropriate folders and you will know exactly what you are going to include in your scrapbook.

I do have a “family” folder (Family12, Family 13) for each year. I then put sub folders in to keep track of the family moments we have. For example, Jensen Christmas, Spring Break, Trip to Moab, Grandma and Grandpa’s Homecoming, etc. I just make sure I put the pictures into these folders so I have everything in one place when I sit down to do a scrapbook.

But what if you haven’t gotten started yet? What if you just have piles of stuff that you want to scrapbook? What if your pictures aren’t organized? What if you are really behind?

None of that matters. Set some goals to work on things a little at a time. If you have piles of stuff, set some time and go through it. You will soon realize that you don’t need to save everything. Save the cutest pictures your kid drew, save that first spelling test, save his letter to Santa. But you don’t need to save every picture from a coloring book or every assignment they have ever done. Pick and choose, and choose only what you really feel is worth preserving.

If you are “behind” maybe you need to think differently. Instead of documenting every year, make a “school days” scrapbook and just highlight some of the important things that happened. Have a “family vacation” scrapbook where you have all of your vacations in one spot. Have a “holiday” or “Christmas” book to just highlight those through the years. There are many ways you can break it up so you can accomplish some scrapbooking without feeling you have to do so much.

The key is to decide where to start…and then actually start! Sort, organize, de-junk, or make folders. Whatever you need to do to start making headway with your scrapbook.

It’s a good day to get started!

How to Raise a Loser in Life

I was cleaning out a file today and came across an article I had saved. I feel it is a great reminder for parents. We need to be careful as we raise our children to ensure we are raising good children. This particular article is a little long, but well worth the read. I did not write it, but I concur wholeheartedly!

“How to Raise a Loser in Life” by Jerral Hicks, Ed.D.

“If a parent wants to raise a child who is self-centered, uncaring, unable to take care of himself, and most likely to fail as an adult, just do the following:

  1. Give the child everything he wants, let him do whatever he wishes whenever he wishes, but, of course, only after you have first said no and he has whined or thrown a temper tantrum.
  2. Whenever he is accused of wrongdoing, always refuse to believe it; accuse others of picking on him and defend him at all costs.
  3. Don’t give him any responsibilities. Do everything for him. This way he’ll expect the world owes him a living.
  4. Don’t worry about commitments to others. Whenever you or your child change your mind, that’s okay.
  5. Let him stay out at night as long as he wishes, and don’t concern yourself with what he’s doing. Trust that he’s learning to take care of himself.
  6. Fight with your spouse regularly, especially in the presence of your child. Then get a divorce and blame your child for the divorce.
  7. Blame your child for everything.
  8. Become a habitual abuser of alcohol, use illegal drugs, and refuse to practice common etiquette in your child’s presence.
  9. Complain regularly in our child’s presence about how unfair the world is, how untrustworthy people are, how people who are racially or ethnically different are the cause of all problems.
  10. Never admit to your child that you are wrong, never apologize for a mistake.
  11. Never take time to listen to your child or take his wishes into account.
  12. Never tell your child that you love him. This way he’ll be better prepared for a rough and tumble world, a “dog eat dog world” where only the strong survive.
  13. Teach him that it’s okay to do whatever he wants as long as he can get by with it (avoid getting caught).
  14. Always compare him unfavorably with his brothers and sisters, telling him things like, “Why can’t you be like your brother?” and, “Your sister wouldn’t have done that,” and show obvious favoritism toward his siblings, letting them do things he is not allowed to do, and giving them more than you give him.
  15. Raise your child in a chaotic, unorganized home environment where there is little or no routine so his life will be filled with uncertainties and inconsistencies.
  16. Physically or sexually abuse your child. This way he’ll grow up hurt and angry, more likely to abuse others, especially his own children,

In summary, children who end up later as adults with emotional problems, a lack of constructive direction in life, and difficulties in leading socially-compatible lives are often the result of several parenting/home factors. Most common are:

  1. Inadequate supervision by parents.
  2. No limits placed on child’s behaviors by parents.
  3. Undesirable parent role model.
  4. Physical/emotional abuse or neglect of the child.
  5. Failure to teach a child a sense of self-responsibility.
  6. Failure to teach a child a sense of community (constructive identity with others).
  7. Poor attendance and achievement at school (often becomes a school dropout).

Good children, then, don’t happen by accident. They are the result of a persistent, conscientious effort by caring parents. Parents have to care enough to supervise their children adequately, to say no when appropriate, to insist that their children learn to do for themselves, to insist that their children stay in school, and so on. This is neither simple nor easy. But the reward of seeing one’s child grow up and do well in the adult world makes it all worthwhile.


Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary


Today is my 23rd wedding anniversary. Twenty-three years! We were married in the Salt Lake Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah on a very cold, brisk November morning. Our pictures make it look as if it was a beautiful day, but it was really cold. We have had some financial set-backs and so we are not doing too much for our anniversary. In fact, we will probably go to lunch and call it good.

But does that mean that it hasn’t been a good 23 years? Absolutely not. Today is just a day. Yes, we should remember our special day, but we shouldn’t dwell on what we don’t have. We have been truly blessed throughout the years of being together. We have five wonderful kids. Our oldest served an LDS mission to Colombia. He served faithfully and helped many people. He is now home and getting on with his life. He is independent, thoughtful (he always tells me dinner is good), and kind. He is great young man. Our second child, is now serving a mission in Chile. He has been a great example to the people there and for his companions. He works so hard and we are proud of him. My oldest daughter is a senior and is getting ready to go to college and make an impact out in the world. She has confidence and is capable. She is great to have around. My ninth grade daughter is full of laughter and fun. She brings great joy into our lives. And our baby, who is 10, loves to hang out with family. He is also kind and thoughtful. Five wonderful blessings!

We also have great health. A house. Cars that run. Food on the table. Family that lives close by. Our faith and church. So many things to be grateful for.

Our anniversary isn’t the “regular” celebration. But that’s OK. We have been blessed and will hopefully have many more years to be together.


Finding Joy In Family

Today I went to lunch with a couple of good friends. It was a time to catch up, laugh, and just talk. As we were talking, a previous teacher that all of our kids had had came up and started talking with us. We were so excited to see her and ask her how she had been since she had retired. She is doing very well with a blog she started before she retired. It is called Kalyn’s Kitchen (and you can visit it here.)

But what was really exciting to see was her attitude about her family. She has never married, and now finds herself as the “matriarch” of the family. Both of her parents have passed away and she is the oldest. She feels it is her job to look out for the family. And boy does she do that. She has definitely found joy in her family.

She just bought a new home that is way too big for just her. But she said she bought it because it is big enough that now the family has a place to gather. On the bottom floor, she has made it a great big room that is “Aunt Kalyn’s play room.” She has 39 nephews and nieces and 60 something great nephews and nieces! And she loves to have them all come to her house! She has had 40 at a time! She loves to have family around.

She also told us that she feels that she has been so blessed with her blog, that she feels she needs to be generous. So she takes her nieces and nephews shopping, does fun things for them, and just gives. She has found true joy in family.

After talking with her, I realized that I need to find “joy” a little more in family life. Sometimes when we are in the “thick” of it, we forget to step back and look at the big picture and realize what we have. If we have family, we can have joy.

Do you find joy in family? If not, it’s time to find it again. Families are the greatest gift we could have. Let’s find joy in that gift.

My Kids!

My Kids!

Developing Family Relationships

George Burns said, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family…in another city.”

Too often we take on this attitude. As we get older and start to understand who we are, we sometimes don’t mesh with our families as well as we would like. But, I would say that happiness is trying to truly develop a loving, caring, and close-knit family.

My husband and I are lucky because we still have family close by. We are close enough that we can visit both sides for Thanksgiving or Christmas…all on the same day. We get together quite often for dinners, family celebrations, or just to hang out.

My mom has a second Sunday dinner every month. And for the most part, we are all there. I have a sister who lives in Phoenix, so she can’t attend, but everyone else is around. We are all soooo different, yet we get together and laugh and enjoy the evening together.

My husband’s sister’s family came over this past Sunday evening to have treats and play games. We did a lot of laughing. The kids enjoy these get-togethers and it helps them remain close.

Yes, sometimes having family in another city sounds great. But if you are lucky enough to have family close by, make the effort to get together and develop strong relationships. That is happiness.


Today on the Today Show they had a segment titled : “Are Mean Girls Getting Meaner?” You can read the story and watch the video here.

This story was brought about because of the death of Rebecca Sedwick who was only twelve and was bullied by another 12 year old and a 14 year old. Her solution to the problem was to commit suicide. What a tragedy! No child should have to go through what she went through.

I have a 10 year old boy. A boy, mind you. And he is bullied. It has never gotten “physical” but it is still bullying. And the bullying that is taking place is like what you would see “mean girls” do. These boys make fun of my son. They have called him fat, which he is not. They make fun of his hobby which is doing magic tricks. They have left him out of their games. They are just plain mean at times. It seems that when certain “combinations” of boys are together, the bullying is worse. My son seems to get along with all of the boys, but when they combine, the meanness comes out.

My son’s school does not take bullying lightly. In fact, the school district has clear rules on bullying. The problem, is that the one getting bullied is not likely to go and tell an adult. They just take it. So the rules or policies have no impact, because no one is aware. I also believe that those doing the bullying, in a lot of cases, aren’t even aware that their behavior is considered bullying. They think if they say, “Just Kidding” or “We were only joking” it is OK. It’s not.

So the question is, what do we do? As parents how do we keep this from happening? I have gone to my son’s teachers, but it only stops for a brief time, and then it is happening again. It seems that there is power in being mean, and I don’t know how to stop that power. But something needs to be done.

I also feel that the parents of those girls who bullied Rebecca Sedwick are partly to blame. Do they not monitor their children? Do they not correct their children when they hear something wrong? You can’t tell me that the parents didn’t ever pick up on anything. Did those girls learn how to bully from their own parents? In most of these cases, the apple does not fall far from the tree. I would bet that there is bullying in those girls’ homes, OR there is a sense of entitlement and they think they are better than others, which also comes from the parents.

We need to teach our children what bullying is and that it is unacceptable. We also need to teach our children self-confidence so bullies cannot gain power over them. They also need to learn what to do in a bullying situation. I don’t think bullying will ever stop, but we need to do our part in our little segment of the world to help lessen what is going on.