Quote ~ from the movie Parenthood

Grandma: "You know, when I was 19, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick so excited and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out if it."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Just read the manual! What manual?!

Kids don’t come with instruction manuals.  Of course there are tons of books on the market, starting when a woman is pregnant, about child bearing and child rearing, but how do you know which one is the right one, especially for you and your child.  I had babysat from the time I was 12 through my early twenties.  I worked for several families and was pretty close to a nanny for one of them.  I considered being a nanny for a long time.  So when I was pregnant with Oldest I thought I had a pretty good head start on things. 
Like most new moms to be, I read What to Expect When Your Expecting and my husband leafed through What to Expect When Your Wife is Expanding.  They got us through pregnancy for the most part.  They did not prepare me or us for the premature labor, bed rest and eventual C-section, but we muddled through and Oldest was born a very healthy, nine pound, plus baby.  I remember thinking the first night we brought him home, even though I knew a lot about caring for a baby and my Mom was asleep in the guest room,  “They actually let me take him home?!  What were they thinking?!  I don’t have clue about what I’m doing!!”  I still feel like that, quite a bit!
Now I have five kids, ranging from 17 to three, and most days I’m winging it.  Just when I think I’ve got things figured out, the playing field changes or the next kid acts completely different from the one I just figured out.  You would think with five kids at least two of them would be similar, but no such luck!  It has always amazed me that in a household where all the kids are being raised the same way, by the same parents, that each kid can be so completely different!  All of my siblings and I are very different, just as my kids are.  Every child has a completely different personality; they often learn differently and behave differently even in similar situations.
When Oldest was little I was consumed with whether or not he was doing things on time and right.  Probably, like a lot of parents I wanted very much, for him to be ahead of schedule.  I wanted him to be a brilliant child, ahead of all of his peers.  When The Organized Child was born, I compared her growth and behaviors to Oldest, as well as other kids her own age.  I made myself crazy trying to be sure they were ok, or better yet, brilliantly gifted.  In one of my freaked out, rambling states, I remember a very dear friend, whose oldest child was two years ahead of mine, telling me “Keep your eyes on your own paper!”  It was a very hard thing, to learn to do, but that advice was some of the best I have ever gotten when it comes to child rearing.  God has made each one of our children completely perfect, exactly as He wants them to be.  I needed to learn to relax and accept them exactly as they are, where they are.
By the time my little ones came along I was a much more relaxed Mama, probably too relaxed.  When The Director asked if The Informer was doing a certain task yet, I didn’t have a clue.  I had to stop and ask her,” Informer, do you know how to do the specific task?”  She replied with a look of disgust “Of course I do, how old do you think I am?!”  I am definitely enjoying my younger ones more than I did the older ones, simply because I’m not completely freaked out over every little thing.  Although, I must admit that I’m probably a lot more freaked out about my kids safety now that I’m older, and know friends who have lost children to tragic accidents.  But that’s a totally different post!
I think what I’ve learned over the past years is that no matter what book you pick up; there will always be one that contradicts it.  No matter what anyone says trust your instincts.  Always keep your eyes on your own paper, and know that God has made your children, no matter how many you have, perfect. 
Another very dear friend called me today to let me know that her youngest (just six months younger than The Little Man) was giving her a run for her money.  He reminded her of all the stories I used to tell about Oldest, especially when it came to specific male body parts.  She also said that he is strong willed and into everything, just like Oldest had been.   We laughed as I remembered things Oldest had done and we talked about discipline.  I told her that even today I feel like a Soccer player, all day long I’m always sending someone to time-out, “go cop a squat”, “go sit in the corner”, “go to time out” – kick the ball to the goal, kick it again, kick it again.  Time out isn’t my goal but rearing my child is, it’s my duty as a parent.  God expects me to raise up these children for His kingdom and if that road consists of gentle reminders on how to behave, aka time out, than I must look beyond the corner and see the kingdom.
I told my friend that I have had numerous talks; I still have them now, with Oldest.  I remind him repeatedly that God made him perfect!  He made him exactly as God wants him to be.  God gave him the gift of being strong willed for a reason and purpose which only God knows right now.  It is important for Oldest to have this character quality, BUT, that doesn’t mean God will allow disobedience.  God’s fifth commandment is honor thy father and mother; children do this by obeying their parents.  I do this by obeying God.  God has commanded me to train up my children so that when they are old they will not depart from it.  Therefore, I reminded my friend that while sometimes you can come up with a fabulous punishment that fits the crime (I often get inspired by Bill Cosby on the old Cosby show, there were some great punishments on that show and they always fit the crime!), often it’s as Dr. Ray Guarendi says, be diligent!  Even if it doesn’t seem to phase your child, do not sway; be consistent in whatever discipline you choose to follow.  Kids need to know there will be a consequence for their actions good or bad.
So, while kids don’t come with instruction manuals God did give us a Manual on how to live according to His laws.  And, that manual does cover parenting issues.

Think of it this way
B – Basic
I – Instructions
B – Before
L – Leaving
E – Earth
And remember as one of my favorite authors Matthew Kelly says (this is paraphrased, imagine it in an Australian accent) “The average life span is 77 years.  How are you going to tell Him (God) you didn’t have time to read His book?!  You get to heaven and have a little one on one time with the Almighty.  After some small talk God asks “did you read my book?”  You answer “bits and pieces, you know on Sundays.”  Now that’s an awkward moment!  God looks disappointed as well he should, it’s not like he’s John Grisham with a new one every six months, He’s just got the one!”
Have you considered it as a life manual or child rearing manual? 
Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it.  Proverbs 22:6
Some excellent tools!
Clipart from http://www.watton.org/clipart/bible/bibles.shtml

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Memories Part 2

Yesterday I left you with how super easy My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software is to use.  Today I would like to share a couple of pages from my album.  (Because it is important for me to keep my family’s anonymity, as you probably get from the names I have given everyone, I will only be posting pictures that are of scenery and things.  I hope you understand.)  I also want to share some more information about the software and announce my winner.

First, a little more about the software and the company offering it, I love that at their web site in addition to all of the templates and kits available for purchase, there are currently 116 FREE Digital Scrapbooking Kits to download.  In the Dollar Store there are 418 things to download for just 99 cents each.  If you are a huge scrapbooker or you get addicted to digi designing you will love The Design Club !  This is a monthly subscription club that cost just $5.99 a month.  The benefits are great, including 5 exclusive new kits each month (not sold in the store).  MyMemories also offers an online photobook creator for books and calendars.   If you’re stuck for ideas (kind of hard with this program) they offer a Gallery with over 1000 pages that others have shared.  If you can’t get inspiration here, I’m not sure where you’re going to get some.  Plus, to help you get motivated and get those memories saved and shared they have a fantastic blog MyMemories Blog.  And, if you’re still unmotivated or stuck after all that, you can follow along on Facebook and twitter for even more motivation and ideas.  Love it!

MyMemories.com also offers two other great products, MyMemories Wedding Studio and MyMemories Photobook Studio .  From what I can tell these are both excellently priced for what it says they can do.   

I forgot to mention yesterday, that in addition to making your own pages or using a template, (by the way, you can use multiple templates in one album, if there is more than one that you like, awesome!) you can choose the placement of your pictures yourself, or have the program auto load them for you.  Wow!  You can just about do this with your eyes closed!  I know that this program has endless possibilities and I have only scratched the surface.  I will definitely be posting more in the future as I use the program more and more and get more proficient with it.

So, here are just a couple of my pages that I created with this fabulous program!

It was so easy, I just picked the pictures, decide the placement of them, and journaled, everything else was already there (except for the Marriott Logo, I added that too).

Lastly and most importantly, I would like to thank everyone that signed up to follow my blog!  I sincerely thank you!  It is you, who I write for.  Please continue to spread the word and share my blog with those that you feel would enjoy it or benefit from it.  As you know if you were already a member or recently joined my bog your name was entered into a drawing to win this incredible program.  To make it fair and not be biased I had The Little Man draw the name this evening.  The winner of My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software is the Tauscher Family!  Congratulations!  I will be e-mailing you the instructions on how to download the program. 

Now, for the rest of you, MyMemories.com has given me a great opportunity to pass along to you!  If you would like to purchase this tremendous program, go to My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software add it to your shopping cart and use the following promotional code - STMMMS4783 - this code provides a $10 discount off the purchase of the My Memories Suite Scrapbook software and a $10 coupon for the MyMemories.com store - $20 value!  I encourage you to copy and paste the code to avoid typos when using it.  Also, if you’re not quite sure this program is for you, they have a great free trial offer!  I know when you try it you’ll be hooked!  If you do purchase the program I would love to hear your thoughts and what you’ve done with it.  Please post comments here on my blog or e-mail me at livingatwitsend@gmail.com.

This was so much fun, I hope that I will have the opportunity to try out other products and share them with you all.

To your creativity and preserving those memories!

The logo on my scrapbook page belongs to the Springhill Suites Marriott.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My Memories Part 1

One of my favorite things to do is scrapbook.  I mean the traditional get out the paper, scissors and glue kind of scrapbooking.  You know, like a great kindergarten project!  I’m a very creative person, when I don’t get a chance to be creative, I get very cranky.  I have to be honest I haven’t really scrapbooked in that manner since I was pregnant with The Informer.  I have done a bit here and there using internet companies that specialize in photo gifts and products.  While this is a fun and a fairly quick way to get your pictures into books I found them to be limited in what you can do, as far as creativity goes.

I personally think it’s really important to record your memories for future generations.  When my grandmother died, I remember going through boxes of fabulous pictures and not having a clue as to who the people were or anything about them.  I must admit one of my goals is to get all of my pictures into scrapbooks for my family.

I did try a great product that took your pictures and or movies and made them into beautiful DVD’s.  I originally ordered something like this from a large well known company, for gifts.  I paid a fortune for pictures that had one mode of transition and one song played in a loop.  While very nice, it was very boring.  The product I used at home allowed me to string together several songs, great backgrounds, captions, different transitions and wonderful embellishments.  And, while these DVD’s have been great, it’s not the same as a scrapbook you can hold in your hands.

So, when a representative from My Memories.com e-mailed me about trying their scrapbook software I was intrigued.  When I went to the web site, the thing that really caught my eye was the following paragraph –

“MyMemories Suite v3 software is a complete digital scrapbooking solution that provides a comprehensive powerful set of creative tools no other scrapbook software can offer. With its intuitive workspace and enhanced time-saving features, this application is perfect for a beginner to create a complete album in minutes, or to empower the design pro to build a scrapbook album masterpiece.”

I looked further and found that I could use my digital pictures to make awesome scrapbook pages that could be printed out, or I could turn it into a DVD, or make it interactive or even send it to an iPod.  I loved that there were hundreds of scrapbook kits, which included background papers, embellishments and fonts.  And almost all of them are really priced at a value!  If I go buy paper or an embellishment at the store and use them, I’m done; they are only in one book.  But, with these kits I have the background paper and embellishments to use over and over again.

I decided I would give it a try.  The deal was that I try it out and tell you, my readers, what I think.  So, here goes.  At first I must admit I was a bit nervous, I had a bit of a rough patch in the beginning and I was really worried.  What if I didn’t like the software and it was too hard to use what would I do then?  I would never want to lie to anyone about something that I thought wasn’t a deal or was hard to use, but then  My Memories.com was expecting me to post a positive review of their product.  Well I’m here to tell you that after a bit of a rough start, that was my own fault, it is a great product. 

I wanted to make an album that I had enough recent pictures for:  one, so I would remember for journaling and two, so I could be selective about what I used.  I decided to make an album of our recent vacation to Baltimore.  I had a lot of pictures and I have fairly good memories to journal with (the brain cells are going, I’ll tell you).

When you open the software to get started a window pops up that says New Album Options.  From there you can decide if you want to create an album from a template or make your own.  In the interest of time and just really wanting to get it done I decided to go with a template.  I figured I would explore creating my own pages after I got the hang of the program.  OK first bump, there was no template for vacations that came with the program.  No problem I thought, the templates and things are reasonably priced I’ll buy one.  I bought a fabulous kit called Road Trip Time; the problem was it wouldn’t open.  I was really frustrated.  I e-mailed customer service and I must say I got a very quick response (after the new years holiday weekend) from two different people.  That impressed me!

The problem, I didn’t do enough reading.  As The Director always says the problem usually lies with the user.  I didn’t understand that there is a difference between a kit and a template.  Realizing that I had bought a kit, (which would have been great if I had wanted to create my own pages) and not a template, explained the problem.  So, I bought a template and the coordinating kit, and then I was on my way.

Now don’t get me wrong the program came with lots and lots and lots of templates and backgrounds and embellishments that I could have used, I didn’t have to buy anything, to use the program.  Because of the type of album I decided to make, I wanted a template that specifically had travel stuff, especially the road trip stuff.  The template I picked out was great!  Since the trip was for The Middle Child’s 10th birthday trip, (I’ll write more about that and explain later) I loved that the template we picked had flowers and girly stuff along with the road trip stuff.  To me it was a great representation of who she is and it worked great with the type of trip we took.

Once I got the template loaded (Super easy to do, they send you step by step instructions for everything, awesome!) I was off.  Everything is so easy to use and understand, so far the hardest part for me is trying to figure out which pictures to use.  The online HELP section is very informative and if you’re more of a visual person they have a whole host of YouTube videos that explain things step by step.

Check back tomorrow for the conclusion of my review of My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software.  I’m going to include some of the pages that I made and announce the winner of this fabulous product.  And don’t worry, I have some great discounts for everyone else!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Exciting Give Away This Weekend!

I wanted to let you know about an up coming give-away I have going on.  I have been contacted by a company to review one of their exciting new products on my blog.  I have been using it over the last two weeks, I will be posting my review of the product this weekend.  For doing this, they have given me an extra product to give away in a contest.  I will be giving away this product on January 8th after I post my review.  The contest will work like this, for every person that signs up to follow my blog from now until January 6th will have their name entered once into the drawing. 

Following my blog is fairly easy, on the top right side bar click on the Join This Site blue button.  A small window will pop up; it will ask you to sign up using your Google, Twitter, Yahoo, Aim, Netlog or OpenID account.  If you do not have one of those accounts, you can create a Google account that will allow you to join the site.  After you complete the process your picture or a picture of a silhouette (if you choose not to upload a picture) will show up under the Members section.  If there is no picture when you hover over the silhouette it should display the name you signed in with.  Please make sure that you show up in that section, that is how I will be gathering names for the contest.

There will be only one winner of the contest; however, the company has given me a link and code that will allow everyone else a great discount if you would like to purchase it after my review.

Please fee free to invite family and friends to participate in this contest.


Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

More Thoughts from the Cobwebbed Corners of My Mind

I’ll admit this has nothing to do with faith family or homeschooling, but like the whole Human Directional thing, this is one of those things that has me perplexed and sometimes annoyed. 

The Director, Oldest, The Organized Child, my parents and I recently went to see the play Screwtape Letters, an adaptation of C.S. Lewis’s book The Screwtape Letters.  (An excellent play, if you should get the opportunity take the time to see it!)  So here’s the thing, ten minutes before curtain call I decided to go use the restroom.  I walked out of the theater, to the restroom, saw the line and proceeded right back to the theater.  The line was so long that it wrapped out of the restroom alcove and almost back to the door of the theater.  No granted the theater isn’t huge but there had to be at least 25 women in line. 

I have found no matter where you go there is always a very long line for the women’s room while men come and go very freely and quite often.  I want to know who designs public restrooms?!  I have yet to find a really acceptable public women’s restroom in terms of size, enough stalls, location of the toilet in the stall and layout.  The closest, acceptable, restroom that would pass in my book as far as enough stalls and placement of the toilet in the stall, would be Oprah’s restaurant in Chicago, and honestly I don’t’ even know if it’s still open.  I went there once with some friends in the late eighties.  The restroom had floor to ceiling, wood doors on each stall.  The toilet was centered in each stall nicely, allowing enough room for you to sit on the toilet comfortably, without hitting your knees, or something else on the toilet paper holder or feminine hygiene trash can that usually hangs on the wall.

At the beginning of December we took the kids to a movie in the park, The Little Man, who is potty training on his own time, decided that he needed use the restroom.  I walked him two blocks to a Panera Bread Restaurant where we, a pregnant woman, and several other women waited in line for almost twenty minutes.  In the mean time several men came and went, as did two women, from the men’s room.  By the time we got in the bathroom The Little Man had wet his pull up and the pregnant woman was pretty close to following in his shoes.

My observations when it comes to public women’s restrooms are as follows:

  1. There aren’t enough stalls.
  2. The toilets are off set in the stalls, causing you to hit your knee or other body parts on the toilet paper holder and or feminine hygiene trash can.
  3. Not all stalls offer a hook or shelf to hold your purse or other personal items.
  4. There are not enough sinks.
 Clipart from Clker.com
I think someone should really rethink the whole design thing when it comes to women’s restrooms.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

January 1st – New Beginnings

What is it about New Years Day?  Everyone takes January 1st, the beginning of a new year as a day to start over.  What is it about a new year, which makes us want to start fresh again and again?  People sit down to make their New Years resolutions.  Resolutions usually consisting of something to do with health, organization, career desires and replacing old or bad habits with new or good ones.

For many years I wrote down resolutions, I usually started out with a bang and quickly ended with a fizzle.  You see with out action, writing down a resolution is just words on a piece of paper.  Two years ago I found a copy of the resolutions I had written ten years prior, it was truly sad, I had written the same thing, almost to the letter, ten years later.  I felt as if I had accomplished nothing in my life.  And, if I were to compare my life now to those written words on the paper, I would really feel like a failure!  I still have not accomplished those resolutions and on the outside I’m probably worse off now than I was then.  I mean, I have two more children than I did then, our lives are busier and messier now that the kids are older, The Director’s job is much more demanding than before, and life in general seems to be more hectic.

Many years ago I read that instead of writing out resolutions, try writing out your inner most desires, the aspirations of your heart.  I did that, and comparing my discombobulated, messy life to those written aspirations; I can see that I have made progress.  While I often lose site of what my true desires are because of the messes in my life, I can start a new every day, not just on New Years day.  Every day I have the chance to start over again, a canvas of 24 new and fresh hours with which to work towards living out the deepest desires of my soul.  Creating a masterpiece, that when offered to God after my life is done, will be pleasing and beautiful.  For after all, as Matthew Kelly says in The Rhythm of Life those deepest desires and yearnings are really stirrings from God, that our purpose here on earth is to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be.  Those dreams, desires, and yearnings will help us to be the best versions of ourselves. 

We need to quiet ourselves, let go of the noise and distractions for as C.S Lewis says in The Screwtape Letters, [Screwtape addressing Wormwood] – “Music and silence—how I detest them both!  How thankful we should be that ever since Our Father (referring to the devil) entered Hell—though longer ago than humans, reckoning in light years, could express—no square inch of infernal space and no moment of infernal time has been surrendered to either of those abominable forces, but all has been occupied by Noise—Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless and virile—Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples and impossible desires.  We will make the whole universe a noise in the end.”  Noise, whether a tool of the devil or not, is a great distraction to the quiet whisper deep in our souls, the whisper that holds the key to opening the door, to a real, new beginning.

Every day is a new beginning, not just January 1st, in fact every hour, every minute is a new beginning!  If I mess up now, I can right it in the next minute.  Don’t let a date on the calendar, or written words on a paper hold you back!  Think of every new minute as a new beginning, and the whispers of your soul, your deepest desires, God’s stirrings, as your guide map for living out your true purpose in life, the best version of yourself.

Calendar Image from clipartclipart.com