When tragedy strikes

What do you tell your children when a tragedy strikes in our world?

How do you respond when tragedy hits?

Do you let them watch the news coverage?

Have you ever considered going to help where the help is needed?

We live in a world where bad things happen. Period. We can try our best to keep our kids from hearing about it, if that is your choice but if they are in public school it is impossible to do so. And my thoughts are that I would rather my younger children hear about this stuff from me and/or at home where I can explain and well… kinda sugar coat it and make them feel safe. It is hard to explain to a young child that some people are sick and need help and if they don’t get it then they do bad things or that there may be times when someone is so hurt and sad and that they don’t have anyone to help them feel or get better and they make choices that are unsafe and hurts others or how Mother Nature is not able to be controlled and sometimes she brings big bad storms to different areas. I explain that we will do all we can to stay safe at home and at stores etc and that teachers and school staff are trained to keep them safe from bad people while they are at school. I explain that yes it bad when bad storms it places and take people’s homes and businesses but that we have to see beyond that and see how wonderful it is that people all work together and build relationships and new towns and homes and it is all fresh and new and with it comes many new friendships. Not sure my answers are the best and not sure how other parents answer these questions or concerns but it keeps my kiddos concern for themselves and others at a minimum and we all know that they should not have to worry about the big bad world as children, they will have enough of that when they grow up.

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Honestly it tears my heart up when I hear bad news, duh, doesn’t it hurt everyone!? I am pretty good at not freaking out too bad when I hear of crap on the news or radio in front of the kids but do express my sadness & concern, after all they need to see how we adults handle tragedy so they know they can go thru the emotions as well and will get thru it. Eyes are always on us parents. Yes even in our weakest moments…

We are not big TV watchers in our house and surely do not watch the news very often at all. When needed, I do allow them to watch the news. And I am right there while they watch it and explain what is going on and the updates etc. When something bad has happened I do not allow them to watch the coverage over and over and not after the 1st day. I feel as a small child sees the news coverage it will scare them and make them nervous as it is no matter how much I tell them they are safe and if they keep watching it their little minds may think that it is happening over and over as they may not understand that it is recorded and is just being replayed and oh how SO scary that would be for a little 1.

1 day as we are watching some severe storm coverage and how the towns had been leveled my 7 year old daughter is watching the coverage with me and say “Mommy who is helping them? Who can help them if their cars and tools are all gone in the storm?” I explained that people from all over go and help. I tell her America pulls together and people fly and drive there from all over the US and help them pick up the pieces, hug them when needed, get them to shelter, help them rebuild etc. And she says “Well we have a big family and we could help a lot if we all go there.” She had a great point and what a HUGE blessing that would be to be able to go and help others when help is needed. What an impact that would have on our whole family to truly be able to help out where help is needed and to be able to touch someone else’s life. So on the list of things we NEED to & will do it goes.

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P. S. These are just my thoughts and the way I handle these things and life with my kids. It may not be “right” or “wrong” but it is what works for us. I would LOVE to hear how others handle these types of things! Please share your thoughts!

 Mama Bear Plus 6

Our kids with social media, apps and sexting, oh my!

Every parent says it won’t happen to them or their child. I am here to tell you that you & your child are not excluded from the negative  social media/apps and sexting world. If you have kids of any age, please take a moment to read this and to open your mind up about what is out there at our children’s fingertips, and this is only a small portion of it!

I am a mama of 6. I have said “I have been there done that, it will not happen to my kids I keep an eye on all their activity, I know who they are friends with. I check their phones and FB accounts” and the list goes on. I can tell you that I was not prepared for what I did find out when I dug a little deeper about what my kids were really up too! Always trust that mama instinct! From that point on I want to inform all parents! I want to shout it across the mountain tops! Let’s keep our children’s innocence as long as we can folks!

Remember MySpace!? Was it just me or did it seem like technology was amazing but semi innocent back then compared to now!? I had 1, my older 3 daughters had 1 and it never seemed like it was problematic with negative stuff. But now a whole new world is upon us and we as parents are just trying to stay caught up with it all…

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So I will break down what I know about social media/apps and sexting. I will also include what teenagers from several age groups have to say about each app. Some opinions are from my children and some from some other teens I have talked to. Reminder: These are all just our views on these types of things. They will NOT be the same for every person or family. Take what you want and leave the rest.

Let’s start with FB… Wow what a great thing this is for some people! I have found friends from high school, long lost family members and have connected with some pretty amazing people, like all of you, after all you most likely clicked on my blog link that is somehow connected to FB. It has been a great tool in so many cases. Sadly FB is not such a positive place for everyone, especially the little people. The amount of lies, harassment, bullying, negative drama and straight up ugliness that FB is used for in the teen world is shocking! No not all of it is horrible but it is a great place to get caught up in it all. This is where us parents need to step in. Always have your child’s password, always. Check their messages often, do keep in mind that they will delete the 1s they do not want you to see. If you feel like there is missing info in a message conversation it is probably due to some of the message being deleted. Ask questions, check out their FB friends list. I often look at ages and what some of the people are up to and if I don’t like what I see I delete them for them while I am on their FB. There are rules, new rules due to me finding stuff I did NOT like a few months back when I happened to dig up some disturbing info, like lies and fake pics, and not so positive stuff. FB deleted for 4 months and new 1 was allowed to be created recently with new rules. Break them, FB gone till you move out! These are our children, we are the parents they need to protect them from all we can as long as we can. Rules, only add people you know, no guys over 18, do NOT erase messages, know I will be on it daily and sometimes several times a day, and anything else I can think of as I go along in this world of parenting.

Teens say: “FB is really cool, it helps us stay in touch with people from other states as friends have moved, it is also a great place to share pics of our lives. We like it to be able to “spy” on each other and see what our enemies are doing as well. We are friends with people on there that we are not true friends with just to be nosy about what goes on in their life. (hey at least they were being honest!) FB can be really bad. I have had friends that were bullied so bad on there. I have had friends want to kill themselves over things someone else posted about them.”

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Now onto Twitter. I use my Twitter account for my fan/blog page and that’s it. Some people I know live by Tweeting, to each is own! My kids have 1 and I check it often but there is not too much that goes on in that part of the world in this family. Although I do keep in mind that that can change at any moment so my guard stays up.

Teen says: “I don’t use Twitter. I have made several accounts and say I will start to tweet but don’t. I like it to update my every single thing I do everyday, hey some people want to know this stuff. I use it to retweet things I like.”

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Any of you heard of Tumblr? I will explain it as a teens type of blog kinda thing. People follow each other and they post and re-post pics, videos and stuff from each other or the internet. As with anything else, there is good and bad stuff about it. The good, there is some pretty neat stuff that people from all over the world share, some positive upbeat stuff that I would even “re-blog” if I was into that sort of thing. And then the bad… You cannot control what the people you or your child follow posts. There is a lot of sex on there, I mean a lot. And there is no way, at least that I have found, to edit it out or block every sex posts, pic or video unless you just delete the Tumblr. Soo my talk with my kids, if you see something that is inappropriate, unfollow that person, if I am on your account and I see something I don’t like I will unfollow them for you, you are welcome! If it keeps up, Tumblr goes bye bye.

Teens say: “Tumblr is great. I don’t talk to anyone on there but I love all the stuff I can repost that means a lot to me. I love all the gay rights support they post on there that teaches people to love everyone. I love all the great pics from all over the world, it lets me see places I may never see in person.”

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Oh lil ol Instagram. I love the app, I use it often, I follow a few people and so on. For teens it isn’t too bad. There are no rules and people can post what they want. If your child follow those type of people that posts pics of drugs, boobs, sex etc then they will see it in their feed. Again, UNFOLOW those types of people! The good, there is not much bullying or harassing on there, at least not for my kids, yet.

Teens say: “I love Instagram. I love the filters I can use. I am not sure why they started allowing videos but it is cool I guess. I like being able to use hashtags since I don’t use them on Twitter. My cat has his own Instagram”

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And then there is Snapchat… Aww that cute lil ghost figure. That must be a cute lil app. NOT! Being able to send pictures to people of any and everything you want and they can only view it for 3-10 seconds for it never to be seen again, or so you think. Now people are screen shotting your Snapchats and lots of boob and other area pics are floating around the internet, oopsie! No parents, just no.

Teens say: “Oh Snapchat, you mean Sexchat. Funner than texting but gets out of hand very quickly. Fun when you make funny faces with friends. I don’t use it, my parents said no way when they took my phone and opened a not so great Snapchat from a friend.”

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Vine. I use Vine, it is a cute and easy way to upload my kids silliness without losing all my FB friends and family from bombarding my wall with them hehe. Again with this app, it is all about who you follow. And for kids without a smart phone and access to this app, Vine is everywhere! And there are some “not so good for our kids viewing” Vines. All you can do is beware of what your child is viewing as best you can.

Teens say: “Vine is so awesome. I have seen so many great Vines. I am addicted to watching Vines and yes I have seen some Xrated stuff but I just move on. I follow lots of people on Vine and sometimes even the best people post sex Vines. I don’t know what the hype is, I think Vine is so dumb.”

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Now these are the only apps that I am familiar with and that majority of teens including mine use. There are SO many more! I beg of you to please please share with all of us your experience with these or any other apps that you know about and what you have seen with each 1.

Last but not least…Sexting. UGH UGH UGH! This is sooooo awful in this day and age. It can be as simple as :You have a nice butt” to very aggressive sexting and can and most likely will get out of hand very quickly. If your child has a regular phone you can check their messages often, check who they are calling and texting (may or may not do you any good to “prevent” this) and make sure you talk openly with them about what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t. Now if you child has a smart phone, this can be good and bad. They are open to a whole world of apps and “stuff”, Ipods allow this too with NO way form you to monitor it, just an FYI on that 1! Verizon has the neatest “Family Base” addition that you can add to your lines and have access to it all! I love that idea, until they turn 18 of course! If you have Verizon look it up and if not then check with your provider to see what child safety options they offer and get them! The texting allows kids to be people that they are not and sadly these days kids want to be someone else and better than this person or that so the lies that accumulate is unreal. Keep a close eye parents, our kids are worth it 🙂

Teens say: “Oh sexting, yes I guess you can call it that. Sexting, hmm is that what they call it these days? Yes my boyfriend and I do it, we are not allowed to spend lots of time together so we have intimate conversations via phone or text. Hey at least it is safer than having sex. It has gotten out of hand for me before and it scared me.”

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P.S. Please share any comments, info, advice, etc that you have on this topic or 1 related to it! We can all use resources and info to help keep all our children safe! Also too, Pin, share and tell your friends about this and other blogs and info! Sharing is caring 🙂

Mama Bear Plus 6

 

Meal planning or go with the flow?

A common question I get asked often is: How does your family plan your meals!?

Are you the family that shops for what you are cooking the same day and make everyday or other day trips to grocery store?

Are you the family that shops 1 time a month and stock piles everything?

Or do you shop a few times a month for your meals?

Do you even cook!? Or is it can/cold stuff/boxed/microwaved (is microwaved mean cooked!?) every night for dinner?

I have met families that do not cook and eat out pretty much everyday aside from TV dinners. Hey if that’s what works for you!

I am always curious to know how others do it and what works for them.

With my big family I feel that some type of routine/schedule/plan is a MUST! For the mind and bank account!

We work with a 2 week meal plan. It goes a little something like this, on every other Sunday we get out a notepad I start a list of things we need for breakfasts, lunches snacks, household, etc. We have a list on the fridge and when we are out of something it gets written down on the list, whether it be toilet paper or nail polish remover (which we use SO much of in our house!) toothpaste, bread, or if there is just something the kids saw or thought about that they want or would like to try. We pick many of our ideas from Pinterest. We actually took a 1  month Pinterest meal challenge and out of everything we cooked from there we only had 1 fail! Each kiddo gets to choose what they want for dinner(s). They LOVE being able to have a say so and picking foods they enjoy and/or can help prepare. Makes them feel important and that makes me smile 🙂  The dinners are written on the right side of the paper. We list 10-14 of them and 2 special desserts (1 for each week). Then I take each dinner and write down what we need to buy for it and gather any coupons I may have that I need for this store trip. I make a Costco list and a grocery store list.

We then take this awesome meal planner that my oldest daughter made me and put our meals up for the 1st week. It makes it so easy to know what to thaw out, soak, prepare, etc. for that nights and the next nights dinner,  talk about making life simpler in little ways like this! I try to prepare meats and sides that can be used for more than 1 meal, for example, boiling and shredding chicken breast for tacos 1 night and chicken noodle soup a few nights later. Or home made re-fried beans for a side for dinner 1 night and bean and cheese burritos next night or night after. Makes cooking easier and groceries stretch out longer. Who doesn’t love that!?

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This is what works for our family! Does it mean that I don’t ever have that annoying “in the middle of the week missing 1 item for the dinner I already started making” store trip!? Of course not, it happens occasionally but for the most part groceries and feeding the cubs is not something that gives me a headache anymore with our method and that I am SO grateful for!

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P.S. What works for you and your family!? Please share any tips or ideas that you may have! We all learn from each other and sharing is caring 🙂

Mama Bear Plus 6

What does your Sunday look like!?

Our wild and oh so enjoyable Sundays begin with me trying my best to get up before every else so I can have a tasty cup of hot coffee on my patio enjoying the temporary quiet, just God, nature & me.

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Kids up at 8am (if we are attending church that week and if we are not it is a “get up when you want, stay in your jams” kinda day as we all need a Sunday like that every now and then!) in hopes everyone is showered, dressed and fed by 9:15 if we are stopping by our small local coffee shop for some small talk and an awesome custom coffee and 9:45 if not.

Coffee in hand from home, or Suncrest Gourmet and we are off to service to have our faith meter filled at our local church connecting with the people chatting about this or that and for approx 90 min of songs of worship and an informative service from our Pastor. The teens normally take this time to volunteer their help in nursery services while the littles go to their groups.

After service and our goodbyes we head home to prepare “linner” (lunch/dinner) for the whole fam bam, including my oldest daughter & her hubby that come spend every Sunday with us and bring their 2, 4 legged children, their 1 blind and 1 half blind oh so adorable sibling pugs, Iggy & Kensey, who enjoy running the property and playing with our dogs & of course getting showered with love and attention (and sometimes ice cream hehe) from all of us!

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By Friday we have usually have planned the oh so horrible for us oops i mean delish meal, appetizers and dessert we will be making on Sunday. It is our “splurge, stuff our faces & drink gallons of iced tea” day where nobody worries about how bad our food choices are for 1 day. Don’t judge us, we behave all week to be able to do this 1 day, hehe!

The day is spent laughing, talking, of course the occasional argue, playing video games, playing hide and seek, coloring each others hair, a visit to the lake, playing ball, building a fire and making smores, crafts, and the list goes on.

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I often find myself looking at life my, my kids, where we now live etc and wonder if I am dreaming, I ask myself what I did that was so wonderful that I deserve to be this blessed. It is days like these where everything that means the most to me, my whole world is in 1 place at 1 time and the nothing can be sweeter. It is days like this that make me look around realize how absolutely rich I am in SO many ways no matter how much money I do or don’t have in the bank, days like this that I am overly grateful and thankful for each breathe I and each 1 of my children take, days like these that I am at times not able to process how blessed I am that it brings tears to my eyes that I often end up sitting in my bathroom after the sun sets and just have a good cry and talk with Jesus about how He trusted me with these precious lives and pray for the ability, skills and patience to continue. Days like these that I hold people I know even closer to my heart that have experienced loss of a child or loved 1 and who can only spend moments with them in memory. Days like these that I say that I will try harder to not let the petty stuff bother me and I will be grateful for each struggle, tantrum, argument, and mistake my kids make as there are so many people that would give their right arm to have their child back in this world even if it meant dealing with the bad stuff like when they don’t follow your rules or guidance. Days like these that I pray for each 1 of my children to feel the “deep, so strong its unreal” love I & the good Lord have for them every minute of their lives, thru the good and the bad.

Take a moment out of your day to read this blog post from Single Dad Laughing, I was in tears and moved beyond words by each parent that shared. Sure makes ya think… http://www.danoah.com/2013/09/truth-from-parents-of-children-who-died.html

I always end each Sunday with anticipation of a fresh new week!

P.S. What does your Sunday look like or do you have another day of the week that is your favorite and why!? Do tell 🙂

Mama Bear Plus 6

 

What’s 14 more grey hairs

It all starts with a promise, as most of us know small child promises are like mud pies, they mean SO much, look appealing, tempting but you know better than to take a bite. But since they come from their hearts just as mud pies do you want to accept them with a smile & believe they will be wonderful.

Alexa “Mom I promise that if you let me watch 1 more episode of Good Luck Charlie that I will go right to sleep and wake up in the morning when you wake me up.” Aiven “Ya mom we will, we even pinky promise!” A pinky promise you say!? Well that’s as good as gold! Deal!

Go right to sleep a half hour after your “normal” bedtime kids? Hmm maybe but highly unlikely, no control over it and that’s okay but mama promises that you will be tired come sun up hahaha. Did they wake when I woke them up like they pinky promised they would? Hmm not so much but good try though! Only had to re-wake twice! Not bad…

Here is the kicker, tired kids mean very slow moving whiny kids.

7AM

Mom “What do you want for breakfast?”

Alexa “I can’t find my jeans I wanted to wear, is there anything in the dryer?”

Mom “No all the laundry is done and put away, they are in your room somewhere. What do you want for breakfast?”

Alexa (whines) “I can’t find them that’s what I wanted to wear, I can’t find anything else”

Mom “Um did all your clothes disappear overnight!? What do you want for breakfast?”

Aiven “Can I wear my black pants again?”

Mom “No Aiven you wore those on Wednesday, What do you want for breakfast?”

Aiven (whines) “But I want to wear them they are my favorite pants”

7:20AM

Mom “What do you guys want for breakfast?”

Alexa & Aiven (whines) “I am not hungry”

Mom “You have to eat before school, how about fruit and a string cheese?”

Alexa “No, I want a bagel”

Mom “We are out of bagels, are you dressed yet?”

Alexa “No I still can’t find what to wear”

Aiven “I want pancakes, can I please wear my black pants?”

Mom “No Aiven, wear the clothes I picked out for you”

Aiven “NO mom! I’m big I will get my own clothes out I just really like those pants”

7:40AM

Mom getting all the stuff out for pancakes…

Alexa “I don’t want pancakes I want French toast”

Aiven “I want French toast too”

Ties my shoes, do my hair, Aiven has my toothbrush and won’t give it back, help me find my clip on bear for my backpack, where is my shoe, can you sign this paper for my teacher, what are we having for dinner, I need money for the book order, I wanted the powder chocolate in my milk not the syrup, can I pack my lunch today cause I don’t like the burrito at school, the cat is drinking my choco milk, I didn’t want powdered sugar on my French toast, can I change this shirt I don’t like the way it fits, can I call grandma…

8:05AM

Mom “Is that the bus already!?”

Alexa & Aiven “Yes”

The sound of 6 feet running for the street… We made it! Whew!

Mom (heavy breathing) “Wait let me take a picture! Okay bye kiddos love you have a great day!”

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Alexa “Bye mom love you too have a good day to see you after school I’m going to miss you”

Aiven “Bye mom love you so much you are the best mom ever I love you more than chicken see you after school”

Yep wouldn’t change being a mom to all these awesome & crazy kids for the world! (Even if they give me 14 grey hairs every morning before 8am!)

Starbucks solo, here I come! (Did you know, they have all their pumpkin stuff back in!? I am not too into all that, but seemed like the morning crowd was pretty excited as I people watched silently for a few)

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Mama Bear Plus 6

You have been so good to us summer

Our “summer” started June 14th! Kids last day of school the 13th and off to a Cali vacation the next day, talk about starting it off right!

My 1st major vacation as a single parent, FEAR had set in and I was nervous about the 23 hour drive as the only adult and the fear of being able to keep everything and everyone together while we were there. O’well time to suck it up and begin the journey!  

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Plans to meet our best friends from AZ there that we haven’t seen in a year, so exciting! On our week stay, we hit Disneyland, California Adventure,  Knotts Berry Farm & the beach, Hunnigton.

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Disneyland… My most favorite place on Earth. The feeling of walking thru those gates cannot be matched, although the new Cars ride was beyond amazing and brought tears to my eyes over how WOW  it was.  Being there brings this tingly awesome feeling that I could never get enough of.  We have been there numerous times and I could go every week if I was able too!  A blog on that alone will be in the future!

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California Adventure and Knotts are awesome places too of course! The kids prefer California Adventure over Disneyland for the bigger thrill rides they offer. Knotts is more of the break you take between or after the bigger parks, lots of fun but not as large so easier to get thru in 1 day.

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 A wonderful vacation, amusement parks, beach, shopping and all the neat places we ate, my fav The Boling Crab http://www.theboilingcrab.com/! It was our 1st time there and was AMAZING! A must try if you like seafood and well… chicken tenders. The food was delish, after I got past having to remove the shrimp heads myself! The atmosphere loud crazy and fun, kinda like us as we fit right in there, which is hard to do in restaurants these days when everyone is quiet and reserved haha!

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We spent a week having a blast with some awesome people! The 23 hour drive home was tough since we drove straight thru and didn’t stop to sleep like we did on the way there. Would I do it again!? YES I could never stay away from Disney for too long, but will prefer to fly!

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Big vacation behind us, time to spend some time in our own amazing area…

We have spent many Saturdays this year in Green Bluff http://www.greenbluffgrowers.com/ picking lots of fresh fruits, feeding the animals, eating more cherries than any of us would like to admit, meeting some pretty amazing people, seeing beautiful weddings, getting lost & best of all, enjoying some quality family time!

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Silverwood & Boulder Beach http://www.silverwoodthemepark.com/! A neat amusement park & seasonal water park located in Athol, ID. It is about an hour & half from our house. I want to say that Silverwood is very similar to Knotts Berry farm. Not too big and loads of fun! We have spent several days there this summer! We all love it and with it being so close it is a must visit for a full day of fun in the park itself riding awesome wooden roller coasters & some other big rides and then spending a few hours cooling off in the water park and hitting some huge slides and the 2 wave pools! Can’t miss the magic show in the Theatre of Illusion with Nick Norton while you are there! A must see while enjoying a very affordable large pizza dinner, breadsticks & drinks for the family, all for $25 while having your mind blown with his amazing magic!

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Summer camps! My 5 year old son got to attend his very 1st 3 day pee wee camp at Camp Gifford! (YIKES!) I was SO nervous and he was SO excited. I honestly have NO idea how I actually dropped him off and drove away. I cried the entire ride home and on and off all 3 days & not being able to talk to him drove me NUTS!! I was counting the hours till I could pick him up. Not sure I want him to go again but he had SO much fun it will be so hard to say no.

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Family Camp at Riverview Bible Camp located in Cusik, WA! http://www.riverviewbiblecamp.com/   Wow what a neat experience that was! We will be making that a yearly trip no doubt! We went with our church, Suncrest Family Worship and spent a Fri, Sat & Sun there. The camp had SO many things to do for the whole family! Riverfront swimming with inflatable water toys which included and were SO much FUN: The Blob (fun & scary!), Trampoline (loads of fun!), Saturn (ya good luck getting onto that!), Iceberg (now that is a climb), Log ( sure if you feel like falling into the water repeatedly), Slide (more for the kiddos), Canoes (Um about that… Our family & canoes= will end up swimming 3 minutes after getting into it), Heated pool (didn’t get to try that, not enough hours in a day),  Swings (yes even for us big kids!), 40′ Amusement park slide (I would like to change the name of this slide to Burn Slide instead of amusement slide since every person that flies down it on a waxed burlap bag WILL obtain a burn on some area of skin LOL but it is impossible to stay off of since it is SO fun), Hiking trails (LOTS!), a beautiful creek with a bridge ( a must see), Water Balloon War Zone (um SO fun!), Gymnasium with three basketball courts, Ping Pong, Tether Ball (a fav of our family!), a game room,  24 hour coffee/tea/hot chocolate with SO much scenery to sit on the deck or at the lake and watch, priceless really. The cabins were awesome! Our cabin slept 10 with full bathroom & shower, so our whole family got to stay together. We had guest speakers who are missionaries that told some pretty amazing stories that had our attention, morning and evening services, 3 delish full course meals, tons of play & family time. If you have not visited a family camp as a family this is a must do!

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Cat Tales, an amazing non-profit animal rescue! To make a donation or to see what it is all about visit their website http://www.cattales.org/ Spent the day with the fam bam there seeing the big kitties, tigers (lots of them, white 1s too!), bobcats, lions, panthers, cheetah, and even a bear! You can take a guided tour, watch a show, just browse the cages and best of all; you can choose to feed a bear or tiger! To feed a bear you must be 6 years old, he LOVEs watermelon! To feed a tiger you must be 8 years old and they eat raw bloody steak, yum! The workers there are awesome, full of energy, very friendly and helpful and willing to talk to you & answer any questions you have (I had lots!) It was a neat experience for all of us! They also offer Zoo school, I was told it is a 1 year fulltime program that you take and you can get hired there or go somewhere else and apply. If you are interested in zoo keeper, animal medicine or just want to work around the big cats (ME!) you can take this 1 year hands on course and get certified! How cool is that!?

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Here is more info from their website:  “Are you interested in a career in zoology? Train to become one of the best. Cat Tales ZTC is the ONLY school of it’s kind where students learn every aspect of zoo operations and professional animal care.  Take a peek at a Zookeeper’s Day to get a taste of what is involved, and see if zookeeping may be for you. While we do not guarantee job placement for graduates of the program, we receive requests on a regular basis for information on upcoming graduates as possibilities for positions at various facilities. Top names in the Zoological community hire people who have successfully completed our program, because of their well rounded training. Applicants must be 18 to apply.

From movies, to eating out, to theme parks, to long long drives, to getting lost, to picnics & events, to camps and so on this summer has been nothing short of amazing, but today it is time for summer to end and school to start! As I said bye to my kids today as they went off to their 1st day of the new school year I was filled with so much emotion, mostly happiness that this new year brings new adventures, new memories & experiences but some sadness creeped in as well, sad that the summer fun & late nights are over & that my house will be very quiet during school hours, also sad that they are 1 step /year closer to growing up and leaving the nest.

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Well, gotta use this quiet time wisely & get some work done, they will be back home before I know it!

P.S. Please share your summer stories and any new or neat places you visited & that you would or wouldn’t recommend! We would LOVE to hear about it! Afterall, it is never too early to start planning next summer!

Mama Bear Plus 6

 

Lasagna Roll Ups

Lasagna Roll Ups

Serves: 8-12

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 40 min

Ingredients

1lb ground beef or turkey

28-32oz jar of spaghetti sauce, divided

12 lasagna noodles, cooked

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1 egg

8oz ricotta

16oz mozzarella, divided

1/2 tsp of Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp garlic powder

a pinch of salt

a pinch of pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F

In a skillet, brown ground meat. Drain. Add spaghetti sauce (all but about 1 cup), salt and pepper. Turn off heat. At same time, boil water on stove in large pot. Add lasagna noodles and cook until just flexible but not fully cooked.

Combine ricotta, Parmesan cheese, egg, garlic, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

Pour about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Make sure noodles are dry by patting them with a paper towel. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over a noodle, I add the mixtures to each noodle before I start to roll to make sure I have enough & so I can always add or take from the ones I need to, then do the same with the meat sauce mixture.

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Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles. Ladle remaining sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top with the mozzarella cheese. Cover baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts.

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After all roll ups are done, you now have a choice, you can either bake them right away or you can put them in the fridge for later use or you can freeze them for later. These will last in freezer for several months. If you freeze them, make sure they are fully thawed before putting in oven.

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Eat and enjoy!

Mama Bear Plus 6

Quick breakfast idea!

Healthy Smoothies

For those of you or your family members, especially teens, that like to juice/smoothie daily or just every now & then, for health, fun or just snacks this has proven to make it SO much easier to make them! Instead of pulling all your bags of stuff out you can just grab a baggie full of pre-measured fruit & veggies from the freezer, plus it saves so much room in the fridge drawers! Makes it easy for the kiddos to make them before school as well! I always worry that my teens are not eating right and getting enough nutrition. They run out the door to the bus sometimes without eating breakfast. These smoothie packs help them whip up a healthy breakfast every morning and sure makes mama feel better knowing their tummies are full and they have the vitamins they need to start their day!The packs that I have in the picture have a handful of baby spinach, a spoonful of blueberries, about a handful of fruit mix (mango, strawberry, pineapple)

Fruit Mix

With these breakfast smoothies you can add anything your heart desires! We add yogurt, chia or flax seeds, Carnation instant breakfast, Boost, almond milk, Silk or just water to your pre-made packs. Each pre-made pack consists of a variety of fruits and veggies. The main ingredient in these packs is baby spinach since it is great for you and has little taste. We then add any berry, melon fruit that you would like. And then same with the veggies, avocado, beets, broccoli, cucumber, etc. The grocery stores and Costco sell a variety fruit pack that we generally buy along with a huge bag of the baby spinach. The possibilities with these are endless!

Mama Bear Plus 6

Back to school time already!?

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Ahhh back to school time is near! I do love this time of year and it is not because I want the kids out of the house and in school, in fact it gets a little lonely around here when they are gone all day, when I say this, it is for them more than for me!

I miss them I miss the noise and the chaos I miss the talks, yells, cries, and the fun we have when they are all home all summer. You kind of get used to your days being so full for 3 months straight that when school is back in and they are all safely on the bus and you walk back in the house the silence is somewhat eerie. They need to go to school; they need the interaction with other children, other adults. They need the structure, because let’s face it, this running around all day, playing all day, eating dinner at 9pm and staying up till 12-1 and then sleeping in till 9am every morning can’t last forever. There are things to learn, things to absorb, friends to make, memories to create and numbers to jumble!

The teens can keep themselves busy during the long summer months but the littles need more than an occasional play date. They are bored and mama can only teach & entertain for so long before they are tired of hearing me and wanting social interactions with others.

I wish I could home school, I wish I was disciplined enough to do so but I have to face the facts and those are that I am only so much me and can only be stretched so thin and in all honestly it would not be fair to them for me to pretend like I could provide them all the education they need. So yes, this is me and I rely on the school system to assist me in teaching my kids what they need to know, although I am that picky parent when it comes to schools and teachers. I will not bow my head in shame on the homeschooling subject; instead I will pat myself on the back for facing the reality that I am human and a single mom with no business trying to be a teacher for 4 grades.

The kids all say how much they love back to school shopping… Of course they do! What kid doesn’t! And please tell me what parent does!? I would love to hear from both sides, those of you that just love fight the crowds or deal with that 1 group that loves to stand right in front of what you need and talk about the weather at Wal-Mart’s back to school sections (which really does have some of the best prices/deals!)! Those of you that love to get the 2 page list of stuff they will need for the WHOLE year and your kids need it all today, yes all 50 #2 pencils and 10 spiral notebooks each, those of you that love it when it takes 4 hours for the kids to go over everything on their list and add things to the cart and fish thru it all to take it back out when they find something better, those of you that love when you teens argue over the other 1 picking the same color notebook or backpack even though they are not going to the same school. Geez it is just a color! 

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Then there are those of us that dread this whole process and desire a strong adult beverage about ¼ of the way thru the store as I slowly add up the total in my heads, thinking “I should’ve applied for a small loan prior to entering the stores”, while I am trying to listen to the nonstop chatter, yells for “Mom come see this” from the dressing room, the arguing & the giggles. And then there is the best part, how happy they are getting new stuff, how excited it makes them about the 1st day of school. I do love coming home and watching them unload the stuff into their new backpacks, sharpening pencils, yes all 255 of them and them trying on all their new outfits deciding what they will wear for the 1st day/week of school. This process makes me think back over the summer and all the fun we had and also think forward that a new school year is almost here and all the new experiences & memories they will create & have and all the new friends they will make! And that makes it all worth it & me 1 happy mama bear (as long as I don’t think of the credit card statement that will arrive in a week or 2!) 

P.S. Hey, 4 stores, 5 hours of shopping for 4 kiddos and over $500, I earned this! hehe

IMG_20130826_182717_359Mama Bear Plus 6

Pitty Potty Train, this is my stop

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I feel like it has been such a long time since my life changed unexpectedly and yet I have days where it stings so bad like it is so fresh and raw, the heaviness doesn’t last long and it actually lasts less each time it sneaks up on me. I long for the day where I can think about the past and not end up feeling like crap, not even for a minute, where when I am driving and a song comes on the reminds me of what was that I can continue to listen to it or sing it and not have tears stream down my face.

It isn’t like I think about it often, in fact I don’t even really have to try to not think about my marriage and how it all came crashing down, it is just easy to enjoy each day of life and live in each moment with a smile on my face. But then there are those days where something triggers the sadness, the betrayal, the deep ugliness of lonely. It can be a song, something someone says, a smell. The good thing (amongst many) about relocating 1600 miles away from where I spent my whole life is that I can drive all over and there is not 1 place that triggers those feelings. It is all new, a fresh start no doubt.

I know that I am not the only woman going thru a separation, a divorce, an end. I am not the 1st and will not be the last. So many people I know have had their fairy tales end as well in the last 2 years and I have connected with so many others. Sadly… I am not 1 to ride the pity potty train, and if I happen to choose to board that train for whatever reason for whatever short amount of time I know I will get off at the next stop & be okay again. I am not 1 to feel sorry for myself, although I did spend many lost moments the 1st days stuck in this state of mind, I could not control those thoughts and feelings. I want to say it is “normal” feeling like that and for blaming yourself even when there is not 1 thing you could have done to change the other persons mind or actions. For some it last a few days, some weeks, some months, some years and some blame themselves the rest of their lives. I myself could not carry on like that. Blame, guilt and pity hung over my head as long as I allowed them too, a few weeks perhaps. Can’t be sure exactly when I stop letting those feelings control me, I just know that it wasn’t too long.

We all have that in each 1 of us. The strength to not allow any feelings control our thoughts and emotions whether they be good or bad, the ability to choose how we will react to each situation. No matter how rough our past was or how rocky our present is, we can all control how we respond to each day. I choose happiness I choose strength I choose to try my best to see the best in each situation. This does not mean that I will not have days or moments when I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders and it doesn’t mean I will have no more days filled with tears but what it means that even when I allow myself to feel like a normal human and be sad for a moment or a full day that I will not stay in that state of mind, it means that I will look past the tears and know that moment will pass and I will smile again, a real smile that says I am strong and a choosing to live positive no matter how much crap I have or had in my lap.

We all have the ability to fill our hearts with faith and know that whatever we are going thru that our maker has a plan for us and will never leave our side. So many people preach how you should put your marriage 1st and how you should obey the vows and work thru whatever you are going thru to make it last. So many people have so much to say when people someone chooses to end their marriage or walk away from it as I did. They say God will guide you thru the rough times of marriage yada yada yada… Until you walk the path of pure in your face betrayal that ripped the hearts out of each 1 of your children and yourself, you cannot preach to me to “work it out” when there is nothing there to work out, when the other person becomes the enemy to your children and self, when I have to mend the hearts of each of them and myself. God put me on this path and He will see to it that we are guided each step. I see my marriage ending as God saying “I have something else in store for you” Not relationship wise but growth, change, faith, my time to blossom as a person, a woman a mother, a time for me to find me. And that is exactly what I am doing, thru each beautiful good day & moment, thru the smiles on each 1 of my children’s faces, thru the sound of their laughter and yes, thru the bad days, thru the tears.

Onward with a smile 🙂

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P.S. You are NOT alone! If you too are walking a rough road and need some guidance I would love to help you find your inner peace and happiness. Please feel free to contact me thru Ingenio. Let’s talk! http://life-coaching.ingenio.com/Coaching%20with%20Kelly

Mama Bear Plus 6