The Good, The Bad, and The Hilarious of Parenting

Today is my 8th wedding anniversary. I found this post months ago and have been saving it to share today. It is absolutely beautiful and encourage you to explore the rest of the blog, Magic Of Mine, as well. Enjoy! I send my deepest love to the man of my dreams — Terry!


Sweet 16 – A Mother’s Reflection

July 16, 1996 — I entered Henrico Doctor’s Hospital nervous and excited.  My labor was being induced that day.  I was getting ready to be a mother for the first time, and I didn’t know if I was having a boy or a girl.

IT’S A GIRL!  K came into this world quietly foreshadowing her approach to life.  She didn’t kick or scream or give me any problems during birth.  She simply appeared and quietly made the statement that she was here changing lives forever!  When they placed her in my arms, and she gazed at me intently, I realized that I would never make a decision without considering her well being and that my life was no longer my own.

July 16, 2012 — My baby is turning 16 today.  She is over in Greece celebrating with her friends and exploring the world.  As most parents do, I look around her room and see her ipod, makeup, and softball gear and wonder at what point did I miss this transition from baby to young woman.  I only blinked once!

Being her mother is my most treasured role and accomplishment.  She is a beautiful soul who teaches me so much about life by just being herself.  K and I grew up together!  I was a single mother pretty much from the time she was born until I meet my current husband when K was 7 years old.  We were buddies!  I always wanted to be a positive role model for her, but I have to say she has become my role model!

K is strong, focused, motivated, kind, caring, and generous.  She has overcome the burden of having 2 households that didn’t always get along, of having siblings that are as much as 10 years younger than her, and of  defining herself in a trying world.  I learn so very much about life from K.  Trust me, we have our arguments but after the dust settles, there is another lesson I can put down in the books because what she is teaching me are things within myself that I still need to work through.

The relationship between a mother and daughter can range greatly.  I am first her mother!  Being friendly is an extra bonus.  Being her friend is not my priority.  I strive to provide K with the best foundation of information and experience possible.  She is quickly approaching adulthood.  The goal is for K to be a self sufficient, financially independent, healthy and happy woman.  That means I must be her mother first!  She most likely will not understand or be excited about the decisions I make when it comes to privileges or life decisions.  That is okay with me, because I have to do what I believe is the very best for her at the time.

Our relationship continues to evolve.  As I was teaching her to drive, I would look over and see a 5 year old much like that commercial for Subaru.

I ach for my baby and cheer for the woman she is becoming.

As a result of being a mother, my love and understanding for my parents has grown immensely!  I realize that much of what I choose to do today for K may not be understood until she is a mother with a teenage daughter.  I have called my mother to apologize for my behavior as a child/teenager multiple times.  I am greeted with laughter, love and reassurance.  I will be there to do the same for K.

In honor of K’s birthday, I have posted a video of what I say is “Our” song!!  Since, I was a single mother waking up to K each day was a gift.  So, this is “our” song:


8 Free or Nearly Free Activities To Do With Your Kids This Summer!

Summer Session logo.

Summer Session logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What are you going to do this summer with the kids?  Gas is about $4 a gallon; theme park tickets are running about $75; Just to go to the movies can cost you about $60.  I don’t know about you, but I just don’t have that kind of money to spend on entertainment.  However, to me summer is a magical time of the year almost like Christmas.  Everybody seems to have more energy and is more excited about the potential that exist in a summer day.  I know I spend a good deal of time in May planning my summer because I want to milk each day for all it is worth!!  I even made a Summer Bucket List this year, and I have even made a little progress on it.  To help you enjoy your summer and not have to take out a loan, I have compiled a list of ideas that you maybe able to take advantage of with your kids this summer that will be easy on your pockets and still make you look like a super hero!

  •  KIDS BOWL FOR FREE ALL SUMMER LONG: Your kids can bowl for FREE all summer long. Sign your kids up to get two FREE tickets per day to your local participating bowling alley, thru the Kid’s Bowl Free Program. Tickets will not be loaded into your account until the Summer Session starts. You will get an email on Sunday each week, with all of your tickets for the week.
  • FREE BOOKS FOR KIDS AT BARNES AND NOBLES: Kids in Grades 1 thru 6, can earn a free book from Barnes & Noble . You’ll need to read any 8 books and record them in the Reading Journal. Take your completed Reading Journal  to your local B&N store and choose a free book from the selection on the Reading Journal list at the store. Some locations also have a regularly scheduled story time to participate in. This program started May 22 and ends September 4.
  • SEE MOVIES FOR FREE OR NEARLY FREE: Every summer numerous movie theathers offer a  series of kid friendly movies for cheap or free–  perfect for hot summer days. Most are in the late morning and twice a week.  A few that offer such movies are Cinemark, Regal CinemasMovieland(Bowtie) – just check your local theater’s website for information when available.
  • HOME DEPOT FREE KIDS WORKSHOPS: On the 1st Saturday of every month, the Home Depot has a workshop all set up for your kiddos to build something fun.  Visit their site to see what they have in planned.  It could be a cool organizer for your hairbows. 


  • LOWES FREE BUILD AND GROW KIDS WORKSHOP:  Every other weekend Lowe’s has a project for the kids too.  Some are held on Sundays as well as Saturdays, all the details on their website. It could be a cool Monkey Powered Plane. 
  • Free Museum and Zoo Days – Every Summer museums and zoos around the world host free days – check with your local venues and mark your calendar.  Also, several coorporations sponsor days at certain museums and zoos; members of those coorporations can get in for next to nothing.  One such coorporation is Bank of America.  Check it out!
  • MICAHAEL’S CRAFT’S:  Michael’s Crafts has a different calender every month for various craft days with the kiddos.  Some have a supply fee, some don’t.  Check with your local Michael’s.
  • Summer Reading Program crowd

    Summer Reading Program crowd (Photo credit: circulating)

    VISIT YOU LOCAL LIBRARY: Most public libraries offer a summer reading program that includes events such as story times, puppet shows, and crafts.  Sign you child up for the reading program and enjoy some free entertainments.  Not to forget that public libraries have changed drastically.  Most now offer a play area for kids, dvd checkouts, mp3 players loaded with stories, free ebooks, internet, and much more.  Don’t miss out!  We visit our library once a week at least!  And you know I had to give a plug to reading!

These are just a few ideas, but take a look at what is available in your area.  Also, fire stations and police stations welcome kids if they are notified in advance. Just act as if you are a tourist in your own town, look for special days in your area – and then mark your calender.  

Summer will be gone before you know it!

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A Trip To Italy and Greece

Yesterday, my oldest daughter, K, left  for a tour of Italy and Greece.  When this opportunity arose, I thought to myself, “This is amazing!  A once-in-a- lifetime opportunity.”  I love to travel and see new places and meet new people and try new things.  My father blessed/cursed me with the wanderlust!  But you know the excitement of traveling, seeing, meeting, and trying quickly have turned into fear when I thought about K.  Fear of what you say?

Well, she is only 15 (she will turn 16 somewhere in Greece!  Pretty amazing birthday gift if you ask me). So, I have begun to question myself:  Will she have separation anxiety?  Will she be able to handle her money properly?  Will she be able to sleep in strange places?  Will she avoid dangerous situations?  Will she…. well, if you can think of a question, I can assure you I have asked myself that very question.

I have tried to prepare her as much as possible for the unknown.  Of course, we have shopped like there is no tomorrow buying beautiful outfits and neat travel gear.  But will she know to use an umbrella if it rains?  Will she pick the correct outfit when she visits the Vatican?  Will she know how to take advil if she gets a headache?

I have even talked to her about situations that she may encounter overseas that she hasn’t experienced here in the US.  Such as drinking! Alcohol that is.  Yes, she can drink alcohol over there (GASP!).  She has never even had a sip of anything alcoholic and only on rare occasions does she see me sip a glass of wine.  Her father drinks nothing at all.  I didn’t want to tell her she couldn’t drink because I want her to feel free to make that decision, but I worry she won’t understand how quickly a glass of wine will impair her.  We have talked about pick-pockets and how to protect her cards and what to do if she loses anything.  And of course we had the Stranger Danger talk!  I basically told her everyone over there is a stranger; so, don’t talk to anyone!  Too extreme?

But in reality, it isn’t about what I bought her or how many talks I have had with her.  It is simply about knowing that she is a smart, honest, caring, and intelligent young woman that is stepping out to explore the world and discover more about herself.  That is exactly what I want for her, but at the same time, I want to swaddle her in a blanket, hold her in my arms, hum to her, and watch her fall asleep.  This trip represents another step in her journey to independence and adulthood and another hurdle that I must leap in order to understand myself and my new position in life.

She is growing up.  I can not turn back the hands of time.  And as I watched her walk away, I have to accept that it isn’t negative.  She isn’t walking away from me, but she is walking towards a wonderful life of her own that I have helped prepare her for.  I just hopes she knows no matter how far away she goes, my love for her is never out-of-reach!


Phython Found Wrapped Around Sleeping Baby

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?  This just occured last Monday in Illinois not some far off land, and to make it worse, the two foot long ball python did not belong to the family. 

The parents, Devin and Sarah Lacey Winans,  said they woke to the one year old boy making strange noises.  When they turned the light on in his room, they saw the snake wrapped around the child’s leg trying to eat it’s foot.  The father removed it with a blanket.  They took the boy to the hospital with bite marks, bruises, and scratches.  The little boy will be fine.

The snake is believed to belong to another tenant in the apartment, Shelby C. Guyette, 23, who has been charged with not having the animal in a secure terrarium.  My question is if this snake would have wrapped itself around the little boy’s neck and killed him would she have been charged with murder?

This comes down to personal responsibility and realizing that your actions directly impact everyone around you.  This young woman obviously didn’t take her responsibility seriously regarding this very dangerous pet.  I am not saying she doesn’t have a right to own this strange animal, but if you are going to exercise your rights, you better be prepared to take responsibility for your actions!  Not only did this tenant put this young boy’s life in danger, but she also put small pets in danger and now has cost the county money because the snake has to be cared for, the cost of court, and the burden on the police who were involved.  I believe she should have to pay for all expenses that have been incurred due to her careless behavior. 

Talking about a nightmare.  How do you ever put your child to bed again after something like that happens?


Summer Bucket List Update #1

A few weeks back I created a Summer Bucket List.  My hope was to slow down and enjoy this amazing time of year.  I wanted to give you an update —

This beautiful picture was taken by Kendall’s aunt, Haley.

Number 6 was Have A Cookout – I know that seems kind of lame, but this is a big year for us.  My daughter, K, will turn 16 in July and leave for a 2 week trip to Italy and Greece.  I want to have a fantastic cook out to celebrate her birthday, 4th of July, and Bon Voyage, and I want it to be a BLAST!  Well, I tackled that one on the 4th of July with much success.  I actually held two cookouts that day.  A lunch cookout and a dinner cookout.  I had 17 people over for lunch and birthday cake.  The picture shows Kendall, her 2 sisters, her brother, her boyfriend, and the rest are her cousins.  They had a blast on the slip and slide!!  Next year I will add the slip and slide to my bucket list.  We did hamburgers and hot dogs with all the fixings!!  Then for dinner I had 14 people present for BBQ chicken and the fixings and of course, a second birthday cake!  We ended the night with the best front yard fireworks show east of the Mississippi.  I even tried out some of my Pinterest finds with much success which kind of lends itself to helping me tackle bucket list item number 7 Make Something – I don’t know what yet, but it will be great and fun and made by me and me alone!!!  I have to say both of these items were a huge hit!

Number 9 was Eat Outside As Often As Possible – Why?  I don’t know because we can and it is different and I think it sounds fun.  I need to tell you that we have been caught in a massive heat wave averaging temperatures around 105 daily.  We have been hit hard by storms and have just started to recover; however, I have still managed to accomplish this task about 4 times since June 25.  Of course, I ate lunch and dinner outside on July 4th.  Then Fa and I did mac-n-cheese one night on the deck.  She asked me why we were eating outside, and I said, “Because we can.”  She looked at me funny and said, “You do know it is like a gazillion degrees out here.”  I agreed with her so we ate our mac-n-cheese quickly and headed inside to the A/C.  Then on Friday I took Fa to see a ventriloquist, and we had a picnic lunch.  It was still hot, but we did it. I have to say eating outside hasn’t been as inspiring as I had hoped, but I do think the temps have played a part in that.  Next week we are looking at averages in the 80’s, and I plan to take advantage of it.

I have plans for Sleeping In A BackYard Tent  and to Get My Faith Tattoo.  I will need to work on the rest of the plans.  Any suggestions for homemade ice cream?


Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

Today I watched the movie Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.  K read this book last year and did a project on it for English class.  I had every intentions of reading the book because I firmly believe that books are always better than the movies, but as I waited for my hubby to get home with the supplies to put down our hardwood floors, I stumbled across the movie on Netflix which by the way I love!!  So, I just had to watch it.  It was only an hour and 30 minutes long, and it portrayed the life of Ben Carson a pediatric neurosurgeon who overcomes enormous obstacles to study medicine and save lives at Johns Hopkins Hospital.  It was a good movie.  I would encourage all parents to watch it, and if you have a child 12 or older, they should watch it as well.

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, I am not going to write about the amazing Ben Carson.  Instead, I want to write about his mother!  She was an amazing woman.  She grew up in foster care and only had a third grade education.  She often worked two or three jobs as a single mother to keep her family afloat and together.  She married at 13 and 10 years into the marriage she discovered that her husband had a second wife.  She also battled bouts of depression. Those are obstacles that could drag anyone down, but instead, she preserved and lived a positive life.

Yes, Mr. Carson had to overcome some obstacles, but without his mother pushing him I am not sure that he would have tried.  For example, she demanded that her boys always work beyond their potential!  She was a cleaning lady and noticed that the man she cleaned for had hundreds of books.  Books were even stacked in front of the TV.  Well, that night she went home and turned off the TV and told her boys that they had to read 2 books a week and write a book report which would be turned into her.  The boys were only allowed to watch 2 pre-selected shows a week.  I know this isn’t a novel idea limiting the amount of TV that children watch but seeing the direct impact it had on her children reminded me of the importance of providing structure and clear boundaries for our kids.

While Ben Carson is an inspiration to many, I found Sonya Carson very inspiring.  Mr. Carson clearly credits his mother for his success in this quote, “I not only saw and felt the difference my mother made in my life, I am still living out that difference as a man.”  What a tribute to his mother!  Throughout the movie, this woman was positive, strong, and focused.

It isn’t easy to provide that structure and boundaries that our kids need because we are tired or busy or don’t want to deal with them whining.  I know I give in all too often because I don’t want to fight with my oldest one or I don’t want to hear the youngest cry.  However, I realize what a disservice I am doing to them by caving!  To be honest, I don’t find it as hard with my youngest child as I do with my oldest child.  I think it is because I am not sure how to parent a teenager yet.  I want to respect her independence, but at the same time I have to maintain discipline because she still has more to learn.  It is hard to find that balance as a parent.

With Fa, I have already established an educational schedule that will carry her through the summer, but I know I need to limit her TV time and implement a chore  chart.  For K, I have already required her to find a job or volunteer opportunity for the rest of the summer, but I need to limit her TV time and implement some type of chore chart for her too.  Yes, they will get mad, but I owe it to them.  Thank you Sonya Carson for reminding my of my duties.



Happy 4th of July: Raising A Patriotic Child

My father was a very patriotic man.  He loved the USA.  He often wore t-shirts printed with the flag, and figurines of eagles were everywhere in the house.  When he became sick with Leukemia, I even bought him an eagle to keep by his bedside.  He believed that America represents the best of the best.  He stood very straight and tall and proud when he recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sung the Star Spangled Banner!  My father lead by example, and I too am very proud to be an American. 

However, I get very frustrated in my classroom when students refuse to stand for the pledge and argue it is their right not to stand.  I try to make them understand that the fact they even have that right is the reason they should stand.  I point out that in some other countries they wouldn’t have the right to choose whether to stand.  My argument often falls on deaf ears which supports the notion that there is something now called “The Patriotism Gap”. 

What does it mean?  An excerpt from this article sums it up:  “…Independence Day poll on patriotism taken by Fox News in 2005 found when it asked Americans: “All things being equal, would you prefer to live in the United States or would you prefer to live in some other country?”

“Most of us probably feel like almost 95 percent of the respondents over thirty who said they preferred the good old USA.  No big surprise there, but nearly a quarter of our young people—the very Americans who are supposed to fight the war on terror, beat back the economic challenge of China and India, and keep our country strong, safe, and prosperous—would hightail it out of here if they could!”

“And an even higher number of our young teens are pessimistic about America’s future.  In a 2005 Time magazine cover story about thirteen-year-olds, the editors themselves were surprised at how gloomy young teens have become about America: “In a shift from just five years ago, when the new millennial teens were generally optimistic about the future . . . almost half, or 46 percent, believe that by the time they are their parents’ age, the U.S. will be a worse place to live in than it is now.” 

“A startling percentage of our youngsters have little or no hope for America’s future.  Almost half, it seems, have no confidence in their own abilities to ensure that our country will remain a good place to live when they are ready to bring up their own children.”

 So, how do we raise patriotic children and close this so-called “Patriotism Gap”?  And more importantly, why would we want to raise patriotic children?

The why is simple.  If we raise patriotic children, they will become patriotic adults.  They will work to maintain the greatness of this country by acting and making necessary changes, great and small, to better this country and the lives of those who live in it. 

Here are some tips on the how:

1) Fly The Flag:  Take some time to teach your children the meaning of the flag.  The thirteen stripes on the flag represent the thirteen original colonies.  The fifty stars represent the fifty current states.  Figuratively, the flag stands for freedom and democracy. It represents the unity of America, our common cause, and the hope for a better tomorrow.

2)Take Your Children To Vote With You:  I have been doing this for years.  It serves a couple of purposes: first, it allows them to see inside of the voting facilities so when it is time for them to vote they aren’t “scared.”  We often avoid doing the unknown.  Second, it opens up the opportunity to discuss the importance of having a say in our government and how it is done in other countries. 

3) Model Patriotic Behavior: As I have said before, we have to lead by example.  Don’t be afraid to wear a t-shirt with the flag on it or to thank a veteran for their service to our country.  Stand up tall with your hand over your heart when you say the pledge and sing loud when you sing the Star Spangled Banner.  You can even practice democracy at home by allowing the kids to vote on such things as which tv show to watch.

4)Bring America To Life: I am lucky to leave in a state with much history and only a few hours away from Washington DC.  But all of America is packed full of history, and you should take a moment to find local areas that would allow you to explore this history with your children.  You could also take virtual tours of historical places that might be out of reach for you.  Read books about America; watch movies about America; by bringing America to life for your children they can internalize the importance of being patriotic!

5) Make Being An American Fun: Celebrate the American Holidays — Independence Day, Memorial Day, Veterans Day.  Honor such days as the Flag Day, 9/11, and The bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Give thanks for our country during Thanksgiving.  Have cookouts, do crafts, and celebrate the greatness of our country.


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