Friday, June 27, 2014

Dear Moms and Dads... Please Shut. Up!

No really.
Close your mouths and stop talking.

Not all the time... just at inappropriate times when talking becomes disrespectful.

Like at a graduation ceremony.
Movie theater.
Library story time.

Basically, any situation where you expect your kids to be quiet... you should probably be quiet as well.

The other day I was at our library's story time for grades K-5. The children's librarian always does such a great job with the programs and we love going. But this last time I left frustrated and annoyed. Most of the kids sit up front on the floor and the parents sit in the chairs at the back of the room. Apparently though, most of the parents think they are in a different room than the kids because they just talk away like there isn't a program going on.

I was sitting in the back of the room and there were two moms behind me that were just having a great time chatting away. I couldn't even concentrate on the story because they were just going on and on and getting louder and louder. Then the two ladies beside me start talking to complain to each other about how bad the situation behind us is getting. I was about to lose it. Finally, when I couldn't take it anymore, I turned around, finger to lips and gave them the SHUSH IT face.

They said "sorry", kept talking and a few minutes later moved it out into the hallway... where they got louder and we could still hear them because the doors were open and they were just outside of them. UGH!

But this isn't the only place it happens.

Everywhere I go lately where there is a program for kids or a ceremony or a concert... there is a steady mumble of voices in the crowd. The parents are talking. And talking. And talking. And some are even answering phones.

It is so disrespectful and such a double standard.
Parents are expecting their kids to behave better than they do.
That's not fair.

If you walk into a program and tell you kids to sit down and be quiet then you should do the same!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Leaving Well

We have kids in and out of our house all the time. Neighbors come to hang out with Liza and Jason and just stay forever. We love it! But eventually their moms come for them and tell them it's time to leave... and if you are a parent or work with kids you know how that can go!

Right from the beginning though I started telling kids...

"Hey, I have a rule. You leave well or you don't come back for a few days. And do you know what it looks like to leave well? I means that when your mom comes and says it's time to leave you don't go 'awwww I don't want to"... instead you say 'Ok mom! Thanks for letting me play. Bye guys!' and then you leave."

It's working.
I figure I don't want tantrums on my front porch and the other moms really don't want the struggle. So we deal with it up front and teach the kids the appropriate way to act when their moms come for them.

The other day a boy was here playing and it was time for us to eat so I told him it was time for him to go home for a while. He started to say that he didn't want to leave but I calmly interrupted him and said "Don't forget to leave well!" and he stopped himself, jumped up and said "Ok. Thanks for letting me play. Bye Miss Laura!"

Sometimes kids just need gentle reminders as they are forming new behaviors. That's all he needed and he was on his way!

I've also been working on this idea with my kids. They usually leave well. We don't get fits and tantrums. But we do get some whiny, bad attitudes. But they are learning just like the neighbor kids and things are changing!

The other night while visiting with my family, everyone was outside and it was getting toward bedtime. I told Liza and Jason "Ten more minutes guys." Liza started to do her usual "awwwww" whine but caught herself just into it, straightened up and said "ok mommy!"

And that, my friends, is a parenting pay-off!!

We work so hard to lay foundations, to teach appropriate behaviors. We talk about and work on something for WEEKS. We work on it until we think it just isn't going to work and we just can't keep working on this thing because it is driving us nuts to have to keep talking about it!

But then it happens.
You see the progress.
The change.
The appropriate behavior.

And all those weeks of working on it are suddenly worth it!

Take the time to TEACH kids appropriate behaviors.
Remind them, before they will need it, what the appropriate behavior is for the situation/request that is coming.
And stick with it!
Once you start, don't ever give up!
Pay-off will come. It might come quickly with some things and others may take a lot longer. But don't give up! Because when you give up you let the kid know that what you were trying to teach them really isn't that important after all.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Baby Shower

I recently got to throw a baby shower for my good friend. I don't  plan stuff like this often but I love doing it! And my friend deserved it. :)

I worked with my friend's sister to get everything together. We didn't make it look like the typical baby shower with all baby blue or green or yellow... instead, we went with bright and fun. The theme was cars because that's what baby's stuff is going to be and we had fun!

Pretty much everything was inspired by things we saw on Pinterest. (Such a great resource!!)




The amazing food items were not made by me... my friend's sister took the time to make all the awesomeness!








Good times!
I wouldn't mind planning another one in a few years. :) 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Two Wheelin'

We put off taking the training wheels off the kids' bikes for a long time because where we live there isn't much room for mistakes. The sidewalk and road have only a foot of grass between them. I wasn't ready.

But two weeks ago we started talking about how we would teach the kids when we went to visit family. They could learn where I learned. It's safe.

Well... my kids decided to do things on their own.

A neighbor friend left her tiny little bike at our house and Liza and Jason couldn't resist. I was sitting in my living room when I heard Jason yelling "Liza can ride a bike without training wheels!" I looked out the door and sure enough...


Jason gave it a try too. He got on and just rode. No problems at all.


So Mike took the training wheels off, we took the kids to the park across the road and off they went. They didn't even need our help!



They can't seem to get enough of riding bikes now! Jason is riding all the time and with riding bikes comes more freedom. They want to ride off to their friend's houses and I'm working on letting them have slightly bigger boundaries in the neighborhood.

And me? I'm looking forward to going on a bike ride with them where I don't have to hear two sets of training wheels hitting pavement the whole time!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Change Me

A few years ago, as I complained to God about someone, I found myself being strongly convicted. I ended up asking God to change me... and he did.

I had a huge perspective shift and learned to see this person as God did. It was amazing how much things changed when I asked God to change me.

Lately I find myself in a similar position.
And wouldn't ya know... as I talked to God about it I found myself being convicted again.

Help me to see others the way that you do. Give me the courage to give third, fourth and fifth chances. Teach me how to extend grace to others... like you do. Show me the good in everyone and help me to find my patience. Change me... so I can be more like you.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
~Phil 4:22-25

Thursday, June 19, 2014

7.6 Miles

I woke up on Saturday and decided that even though I hadn't moved much in the past two months we should try to find a babysitter and do the 7.6 mile hike at McConnell's Mill State Park. We had done it before and enjoyed it but that was a few years ago. It was time to do it again... even if I was completely out of shape. I'm still young enough for spontaneous long hikes right!?

We got a sitter, Mike dropped the kids off, we met at the park, drove a vehicle to the end of the hike and then drove back to the parking lot at the beginning. It was a chilly morning and we were ready!

If I instagrammed, it would have went down like this...

Ready for this!

Mill and covered bridge... we could still turn back...

Ooooh! A wedding!

Selfie in the covered bridge.


This is what the first two miles of trail looked like...

Tiny trail.

This isn't so bad.

Still alive!

Mike has a need to explore.

Pretending we are excited about another hill.

(This might have been the hill where I started asking Mike to consider giving me a piggy back ride because I wasn't feelin' it anymore.)

Almost there! This is our "what were we thinking!?" faces.

Just kidding! We had a great time!

Just around any bend now we should see the parking lot. Can't wait!!

Together. A day well spent. :)

We finished.
We were tired!
But we survived and were still able to walk the next day. Sore... but not too bad.
And I only fell once. Nice.

I told Mike that I want to do the hike again but next time I only want to take one car so we have to go there and back making it about 15 miles. I don't know why I want to do that... I just do. So hopefully by the end of this fall we will do it again and that means that I better start exercising again because I would not have been able to do all those hills again! I need more strength and endurance.

Do you hike?
What's the farthest you have hiked in a day?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Living Again

What do you do when the negative track is on repeat in your mind?

You know... the one with all of those negative things about yourself that people have said to you in the past?

You're opinionated.
You're too much.
Maybe you'll understand the kind of fellowship God intended when you get to heaven.
You're not a good friend. 
You aren't worth it.
I think you are bipolar.
You're not good enough.
You're a problem.

This week I find myself struggling with depression, insecurity and anxiety. In the midst of everything that is good... and that's most of my life... I continue to hear things that have been said to me in the past. Things that cut deep wounds. Wounds that are still healing.

I think these hurts and insecurities are popping back up because I'm trying to move forward.

A little over a year ago I just quit. I walked away from everything that I was involved in. I declared it a year of rest. It was needed. I was hurting. And tired. And wanted to be alone and not have extra responsibilities for a while.

It was a much  needed year. But I'm ready to live again. To be me... and ME... well I'm not someone to just sit around and let life pass me by. I'm not someone to be uninvolved. And so I told myself I would find some things and slowly get involved. But my heart woke up and I remembered how much I love being a part of things and I find myself attached and involved... and afraid.

Afraid of being too much.
Or not enough.
Or simply just a problem.

The negative track is on repeat.
Reminding me of the past.
Of the risk.
Of the pain.

And as that negative track runs on repeat, as I stand on the edge debating whether or not I should jump and yell "I'm all in!"... I find myself asking the question...
Is it worth it?
Is it worth the risk of the pain that could come?

The answer is a loud and clear YES!
It will be worth it.
The risk is great and there may be pain... but it will be worth it.
My life will be richer because of it.
Take the risk.
Go all in.

Live it well.

I know it won't be easy. I know I'll still struggle with overcoming and silencing the negative track that runs through my mind from time to time. I know there will be days where the risk has me wanting to run. I know this isn't the end of the insecurity and anxiety... but it is the beginning of living again.

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.
~Ecc 3:12

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Town Rocks!

I love summer.
I love summer in BUTLER, PA!!

This town always has something going on. This weekend was filled with the following...

*Jeep Invasion
*outdoor concert
*milkshakes from out favorite Main Street sweet shop
*Butler Bears football game
*a relaxing afternoon of small plastic pool swimming
*dinner out to celebrate Mike
*ice cream and a movie at home

We had a great time! I really love the age that Liza and Jason are right now... they were awesome when they were babies too but life just got so much easier and enjoyable in a different way. Living life is easier right now. And it's full of giggles and good memories. :)


Butler is the first place bantam jeeps were made and a few years ago they decided to go for a World Record with the longest jeep parade. Jeep people came from EVERYWHERE and invaded the town. The Bantam Jeep Festival is now an annual thing and on Friday they close down Main Street (which is a five minute walk from my house!) and all the jeeps drive in and park and the people come out for the night.



We also have an outdoor concert every Friday night on Main Street so we stopped at Cummings for some milkshakes and sat and listened to music for a while.



Eventually the kids needed to pee so we called it a night, headed home and went to bed.

I woke up the next morning, found a babysitter and Mike and I hiked 7.6 miles at McConnell's Mill State Park. (More on this later.)


We came home, rested, grilled dinner, then we headed to the park to watch the Butler Bear's football game. It's a semi-pro team and it's free to watch. The kids had a blast and we just enjoyed being outside on a great night.


We got home and as I was tucking the kids in I told them they would be hearing fireworks soon and they should just go to sleep anyways. Well about ten seconds later we heard the fireworks... so we stayed up and watched them from our windows.

Sunday was an easy day. Swimming in the plastic pool in the afternoon and just relaxing in the sun.


We went out to eat for dinner... Mike's choice. We stuffed ourselves on chips and salsa at Chili's, bought some ice cream on the way home and relaxed with a movie for the rest of the night.

It was a full weekend but we enjoyed every moment of it! Can't wait for more summer fun in Butler!! Especially because most of it is free! The only thing we spent money on this weekend was food.

If you are every bored with your town you are welcome here! :)

Monday, June 16, 2014

City Gardening

I may only live on .1 of an acre and have a house that takes up most of it... but that doesn't mean I can't have a garden! And I don't have to use up the little bit of yard that I do have in order to have that garden.

Last year someone gave me a bunch of pots and planters... it was exactly what I needed! I hadn't made a garden yet because I didn't want to spend a ton of money on pots and planters and they can add up pretty quickly. But getting them for free changed everything! A few weeks ago we got the pots out, got some dirt from my in-law's land and planted a garden!

I'm super excited because stuff is GROWING! (I'm not so great at keeping plants alive.)

I've got lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and beans.  I just planted my second round of beans and lettuce today. I can't wait to eat a salad that I grew!!

(That is my front yard. Everyone says we should just plant our garden there but we don't have much grass and I want to keep it!)



Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Gift of Trust

So, it's Father's Day.
I could write a post about how awesome my dad is... because he is awesome.
I could write a post about my husband because he's a rockin' dad too.

But when I thought about it I realized that my readers are women... a lot of them moms... and so today, on Father's Day, I'm going to do what I've been doing since I was born... I'm going to be different. Today I want to talk to moms.

Hang with me now...

A few weeks ago I went to see the movie Mom's Night Out. It was cute and had a great message that so many moms need to hear. But for me there was a secondary message. I'm not sure if the writers intended it to be so, but I thought it was obviously there. That message was that wives need to trust their husbands more. Dads CAN take care of their kids and they can do it well.

In the movie we had a couple moms that desperately needed a night out but the question was there... "Can my husband handle it? Because my kids are crazy. And if I'm not there to take care of the crazy... well, I'm not sure dad will survive."

How many moms have thought like that?
How many times do moms go out but keep their cell phones on the table, or even in their hands, because they KNOW that dad is going to be calling asking for help because he's just not up to the task of taking care of his own kids?

Moms... trust the dads.
Give them a chance to figure it out.
Leave your cell phone in the car when you go out with friends. If he knows he can't call you for help he won't take the easy way out. He will find a way to work the situation out on his own. He will improvise. He will succeed. Because they are his kids and he is their dad.

He may not do things like you would but that doesn't make them wrong. His problem solving will look different from yours but that's because he isn't you. He might feed them more sugar than you would... but it was his day, his time with the kids. You get to do it your way all the time... let him have his fun too.

I know that when Liza and Jason are with Mike they always have a good time. They are always fed and taken care of. They are loved. And sometimes I do come home to crazy stories of crazy things that happened and I think to myself "ahhh! I can't believe that's what happened and how it was handled!" Yikes. But you know what... they are making memories with their daddy and it's all good.

Trust the men.
Let them know you believe in them as a dad. That you know he is a great one.
Instead of telling them that you would have done it differently... praise them for doing what they did.

This Father's Day give your husband the gift of trust.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Beautiful Hearts

While working with some kids, a girl who is probably nine years old blinked her eyes when I said hi to her. She wanted me to notice that she had makeup on. I told her I noticed the makeup and that it looked nice. Then I went on to tell her how I don't even own any makeup and never wear it. She thought I was ridiculous!

I continued the conversation and let her know that while I thought she looked nice with the makeup I also thought she was simply beautiful without it and that she didn't need it at all. This nine-year-old girl said to me "OH! I need it!"

Nine years old and already she has the idea in her head that she needs makeup. This made me sad. I hope that she doesn't really think that but even if she doesn't she still has the idea that makeup is in some way necessary.

Nine years old.


We need to teach our daughters to embrace who they are.
We need to teach them that beauty is so much deeper than the skin.
We need to teach them that they are beautiful and don't NEED makeup.

Makeup should be fun... never necessary.

Teach young girls that beauty shines when they are kind, when they think of others first, when they serve... when they love.

Teach them that beauty is found in modesty, perseverance, faith.

Teach them that it is more important to have a beautiful heart than it is to have a beautiful face... because a beautiful heart is what really makes a face become beautiful.


Little girls are always looking to older women. They are watching and learning how to carry themselves, how to dress, how to talk... how to be a woman. If we always talk about being fat and flawed then that is how our girls will see themselves when they look in a mirror. If they hear us saying that we need makeup then they will likely grow up to believe that they do as well.

But what if, instead of always hearing about the things that are on the surface they heard us talking about beautiful hearts. Conversations about people who have beautiful hearts... how they live, what they talk about, things that make the heart beautiful.

What if we could change how girls view themselves?
What if we could change how girls define beauty?

Beautiful hearts... that's what really matters in the end because when the skin starts sagging and wrinkling and they can no longer hide the circles under their eyes... when they start developing age spots and their hair starts thinning... if they have beautiful hearts they will still believe they are beautiful despite what is happening on the outside.

Teach your girls to have beautiful hearts before you teach them about makeup.
Teach them about true, lasting beauty.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ryan and Amy

Many moons ago I worked at a summer camp with Ryan and Amy. I've kept in touch with Ryan a little over the years and when he emailed me to see if I could squeeze in photo session I decided to make it work.

Ryan and Amy have been dating for a while and Ryan needed a nice retirement gift for his mom. His mom had been saying that she didn't have any nice pictures of Ryan and his girlfriend... and that's where I came in. I headed out to the camp where I met them and where Ryan still works and we did a quick mini session. The other day I got an email from Ryan again. He said, "I got the pictures you sent printed and you effectively made my mother cry!" Photos make such a great gift for moms! And dads. This isn't the first time someone teared up when given photos that I took as a gift. 

I had a great time with Ryan and Amy! They were so relaxed and comfortable with each other. And it was obvious that they absolutely adore each other! 











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