I sincerely believe that it is far more beneficial and far less costly to help a child build confidence than it is to fix an adult who has little or none.

If anything can go wrong, it will…..

Most of us have heard the phrase, ‘If anything can go wrong, it will.”   This statement is commonly referred to as Murphy’s Law which has been around for a long time and also referred to as Sod’s Law.  The exact origin of this statement is not certain, however it is often attributed to Edward A. Murphy, who was an engineer working on an Air Force project.  One day he discovered a problem with some wiring and being upset with the technician, he said, “If there is any way to do it wrong, he’ll find it.”  The project manager kept a list of ‘laws’ and added this new statement which he called Murphy’s Law.

I can certainly coin this phrase when I refer to my recent two-day vacation.  Shortly after we left our house on Thursday morning, things started going wrong and continued on for the rest of the day.  We had packed up our food, clothing, camping equipment and bikes, loading them all in our truck and small fishing boat.  Everything was secured and we drove off with one our dogs (no, we didn’t leave our other dog at home alone, it was staying at our daughter’s house because they don’t always behave when they are together).  It was great just listening to the music and anticipating a couple of relaxing days.

About 20 minutes after leaving, my husband said to me, “Did you bring the tent?”  I looked at him and replied, “No, I got all the inside stuff ready, I thought you were getting all the outside stuff ready.”  I was thinking, “Are you kidding me?  I packed all the clothes, the food, the cooler, the bedding, the cooking stuff and you are asking me about the tent?  Would that not be in the same location as the camp chairs, the tarps and the boat?”  Needless to say, we had to backtrack and pick up the tent.  Oh well, at least we weren’t far from home.  You have to look at things with a positive perspective and no point blaming anyone.  We should have both thought about it.

We got to the campsite with the boat and wouldn’t you know it – there was no boat launch at this campsite.  I just assumed it would have one because it was right on Lake Erie.  We could have travelled 10 minutes to the next town and launched it from there, but we decided not to bother.  We still could ride around on the bikes or walk to the beach.

The campsite was large and had lots of trees.  It didn’t take long to set up the tent and get things organized.  Then we sat in our comfy camp chairs and relaxed.  After reading for a while, it was time to make supper, so we brought out the stove to cook some hamburgers.  I’m nervous cooking with gas, so I asked my husband to lit the burner.  He asked for the matches and guess what?  I forgot to bring any.  Good thing there was a camp store.

After eating our yummy hamburgers, we took a walk with our dog.  Then it was time for a campfire.  The day had been tiring and we soon decided to make it a day and turn in for the night.   We got the dog settled in her bed, put on our pajamas and went to bed ourselves.  The night had been getting cooler and as I was drifting off to sleep, I didn’t feel very warm.  The summer nights had been warm so I only brought a set of sheets and one comforter.   Oh well, if I felt cold, I could always put on my sweatshirt.

One problem that I have every night is waking up at least once or twice to use the bathroom and this night was no exception.  It was probably about midnight and I felt very uncomfortable.  As I turned over, my bottom hit the cold, hard floor.   Had I rolled off the air mattress?  Quickly I realized that the air had deflated.  My husband tried to blow it up, but there was obviously a leak.  We tried to go back to sleep, but we were both freezing at that point.  No, one comforter was definitely not enough.  The temperature had dropped considerably.  We both put on sweatshirts and socks.  It helped, but it was a very long and uncomfortable night.

The next day we took a drive into the town close by and bought a couple of warm sleeping bags and fixed the leak in the air mattress.  Thankfully, the second day went well and we were both warm and comfy at night.  As we campingheaded home on Saturday morning, I reflected on the past couple of day and decided that it had been a good vacation after all.  Next month we plan on taking another mini-vacation but this time I will be more prepared.

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Have you hugged someone today?

hug1Hugs are a great way to show someone who you love them.   Research has shown time and time again the value of hugs.   They help a person feel secure and valued.

Virginia Satir, an influential author and psychotherapist made the statement, “We need 4 hugs a day for survival.  We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance.  We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”

In some cultures, hugging is not practiced and this is sad because it affects people in a positive way and can promote healing as long as it is done with the proper intentions and not meant to be harmful.

Hugging your children will show them how valuable they are and help them build esteem.

Hugging your spouse will show them how much you love them.

Hugging a friend will show them how much you care about them.

Have you hugged someone today?  If not, what are you waiting for?

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What are your children doing this summer?

Couple Walking on the Beach with Their Three Daughters and DogSummer can be a difficult time for families especially when parents are working and the children are left on their own.  This can be a time to create fond memories and experience exciting adventures.  However, if you and your children are not prepared to fill the days with meaningful activities, summer vacation can become a nightmare.

If you are working parents with older children that will be left alone for extended periods of time, it is extremely important that you make some definite plans and not just allow your child to do whatever they please.  Most children will sleep late, watch TV, play on their computer and hang out with friends.  This is not healthy and they will spend the summer bored or getting into some kind of trouble.

Make sure you have a plan of action that includes fun activities for your children and also for the family.  Working parents need to make sure that they still take the time to do family activities together so their children will feel loved and valued.   Time is an important commodity in a child’s life and when parents spend time with their children they are sending out the message that they are important and this will help them build strong esteem.

Plan some (age-appropriate) activities that your children can do on their own and also some family activities and then sit down with your children and go over your ideas.  Ask them if they have any suggestions and let them get actively involved in making any plans and helping with preparations.  Here are some ideas:

  • plan a family picnic or bbq
  • go to a park or petting zoo
  • go to a swimming pool or beach
  • check out activities at the local library and make a weekly visit to pick up some books or videos for your child to read and look at during the week
  • check with local organizations and churches for organized group activities and summer camps.  Many have free programs or ones with minimal cost.
  • enroll your child in a summer sports activity
  • plan a family camping trip or do a backyard campout and invite some of your children’s friends to come
  • on a rainy day, do some cooking or baking or play some board games
  • plan some arts and crafts – prepare kits for your child to work on some fun projects
  • clean out the basement or garage as a family – play music, dance and have some fun
  • watch some great family movies, eat popcorn and laugh a lot!
  • find out about a summer volunteer job – this is a healthy way to keep your child busy and help them build esteem

I hope you and your family have a great summer vacation!!

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What are you saying to your children?

friesToday my sister and went to McDonald’s for a nice, healthy lunch.  Well not really healthy, but sometimes fries just hit the spot.  We were waiting in line for our order and we overheard a conversation between and little boy of about 4 and his grandmother.  She ordered a happy meal and the cashier asked her if she wanted fries or apple slices with the meal.  The grandmother looked down at her grandson and asked him the same question.   I thought, “This is great.  She is giving him the opportunity to make a decision”.   In my book, Grandma’s Notes on Parenting (, I explain how important it is to start allowing your children to make choices when they are young, so they will learn how to be responsible by making good choices and understanding consequences when they get older.

However, I guess the grandmother didn’t understand the importance of letting her grandson make his own choice.   His answer was that he wanted apple slices, but it amazed me when the grandmother said to the cashier, “Oh just give him fries, he never eats the apple slices.”

Why did she even ask her grandson?  By asking him and then making the choice for him, she was telling him that he wasn’t capable of making a decision or basically that he was too stupid to make one.  It seems like a minor thing, but it could affect his esteem.  It’s really hard to raise a child and nobody can do a perfect job, but we need to be careful with our words.  I know the damage that can be done.  Just a few words can destroy a person, but they can also repair and heal.

Please watch your words.  Make sure they are ones that show love, kindness, encouragement and support.

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Kids do the darndest things

eating burger - grey sweaterIn February 1995, there was a special program aired on CBS that was hosted by Bill Cosby called, “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”  It ran as a full season from January 1998 to June 2000 and it was a collection of questions and answers by children from ages 3 to 8.  Kids do say the darndest things and they also do the darndest things, especially when they are very young.

My 22 month old grandson is no exception.  He is always getting himself into the strangest situations that continue to amuse and confuse us.  Yesterday we took him for lunch at MacDonald’s which doesn’t happen very often because it isn’t the most nutritious meal, although he does get milk and yogurt along with his hamburger and fries.  At least when we take him out to eat, he doesn’t try to feed his food to our dogs and some actually does get into his mouth.  His mother is worried that he doesn’t eat enough but this will likely change in the not too distant future.

After lunch, we took him for a few rides on the horse, boat and cars.  I remember when it cost 10 cents or a quarter for a ride, but now it is a dollar!   I thought about 3 rides would be great, but Grandpa is a soft touch and my grandson got 7 rides!  Good thing we don’t have him every day or Grandpa would be broke.   Actually I would love to have him every day!

There is a machine at the mall where we went that is for a charity.  It probably has a name, but I don’t know what you call it.  You put a coin in a slot at the side and it falls down and rolls around and around a cone-like base a few times, picking up speed and then dropping into the hole at the bottom.   Depending on how the coin is put in, it can just drop right into the hole immediately.  My grandson put in a couple and they spun around, then the third one dropped right in without spinning.  Before I could react, he bent over the machine and reached down into the hole with his behind sticking up and almost fell right in.  I grabbed him and pulled him out.  He was upset and wanted the money back.  It would have made a cute picture.  The caption could read – Toddler tries to steal money from charity machine!   After all that excitement, we went home and took a nap.  It was a great day!

I’m certainly enjoying the time we spend with our grandson.  When our girls were small, we didn’t spend nearly as much time with them, as we were both working and doing so many other things.   I know now the importance of spending time with our children and I wish I could rewind time but since that isn’t possible, all I can do is try to be a better mother than I was and the best grandmother that I can be.

You can spend all the money in the world on your children, but that isn’t nearly as important as spending time with them.  If you have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or even if you don’t have children, find a way to spend time with the children you know and be a positive role model for them.  It will make all the difference in their world and it will bring you lots of rewards.



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Friday Fodder: Declining Moral Values

I totally agree. Moral values are declining and it is causing major problems in our world. Parents, caregivers, families, friends, teachers, everyone needs to take responsibility in taking the time to teach our children to be responsible.

My Takes

thThere are many differing opinions on the reason for the decaying of moral values in our society.  One thing that is mutually agreed upon is that it is indeed decaying.  Or declining.  Some say it is just scriptures coming to past.  Others blame it on television. Maybe it is all the above and then some.  For me, one of the major reasons is parenting.  Moral values go hand in hand with parenting.  Proper parenting ensures that values are instilled in our children.  If we fail to do that, then they grow up barely able to discern right from wrong.  Then they make their own laws.

It’s interesting to note the differences in the problems that schools in the 1940’s faced compared to schools in the 80’s.  Just a 40 year gap.  Astounding!  In the 40’s, the major problems were truancy, running in the halls, talking in class, and chewing gum. …

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Having a garage sale?

garage sale 2       One of the posts I follow was asking about garage sales and I decided to share my own experiences with you.

I’m not sure when I had my first garage sale but it has been many years and I’ve held over 25 garage sales of my own and also a few for charities and some of our clients who are downsizing and moving.  I’ve learned a lot about garage sales and discovered what works and what doesn’t.

Garage sales are definitely worth the effort.  I’ve made between $50 and $1900 on a sale.  The ones that didn’t do as well had fewer items or bad weather.

Success depends on a lot of things:garage sale1

  1. WEATHER  We can never count on the weather so you need to be ready in case of rain, hot sun or cold weather.  If you have a garage, enclosed porch or the sale is inside, the weather won’t interfere too much.  Make sure you put in your ad that your sale will be rain or shine or if you need to cancel, put in a rain date.   Putting up a tarp will help protect from the hot sun or light rain.
  2. PREPARATION  Plan the sale well – advertise – plan location, time, day – prepare items
  3. ADVERTISING  Newspaper ads are good if you have a lot to sell, if not they are costly and will eat up your profit – also if it rains, you have wasted the money.  I put up signage and advertise on free websites – in Canada we have a popular buy/sell site called Kijiji – there are probably others around the world.  Make sure you advertise a few days ahead so people will be able to plan on coming.
  4. garage sale3SIGNS   Lettering should be large,  written in black marker or paint, with arrows, your address and on stiff cardboard or a proper sign.  You can get signs at dollar stores.  I’ve seen many signs that you can’t read because the letters are too small, they are not dark enough, they are in colour, they are on paper that has curled, there is no direction marked, there is no address, or they haven’t been secured properly and have fallen to the ground.  If people don’t clearly understand where they are going, they won’t be buying your stuff.  Put lots of signs starting several blocks away at main corners and at the end of your street.  Put signs out a day or two ahead of the sale to let people know.
  5. LOCATION  Location is important but wherever you have it, make sure it can be visibly seen and don’t hide it in a back yard or inside with no signs (I’ve hunted for some of those).  A busy street will have lots of traffic that will see your signs and notice a crowd gathering.  If you aren’t in a busy area, this is where good signage can help lead people to your sale.
  6. TIME  I’ve had sales every time of year but I find the spring brings out the biggest crowds where I live.   The best sales are from mid-April to June, they slow down in the summer and pick up a bit in Sept to mid-October.  Since we have winter here, we only have the odd moving or estate sale held inside which can be profitable if done properly.   If you live where the weather is nice all year, it wouldn’t matter what time of year you have your sale.   Other days can also work, but won’t likely draw a large crowd.
  7. PREPARE YOUR ITEMS  Make sure everything is clean and in good shape.   If you have any broken or damaged item, toss them out because they won’t sell anyway and they don’t look good at your sale.  If there are parts missing to some items and they are in good condition, people may buy them for parts or you can put them in a free box.garage sale6
  8. PRICE YOUR ITEMS  People are more likely to buy if the items are priced.  Some sales don’t price anything and many people won’t bother to ask.  If I see something that isn’t priced and I don’t need it, I won’t ask, but if it is priced and reasonable, I sometimes consider buying the item.   You don’t necessarily have to price all the items, but price a lot of them so people will have an idea of what you are charging.  If you have bulk items, like books, you don’t have to price these individually, just put up a sign.  Keep your price reasonable.  Overpriced items do not sell.  Consider what you would pay for this item at someone else’s sale.  If an item cost $20 new and it is still new in the box, charge $10 – if it is in good condition, charge $5 or less.  Remember that if you don’t sell your stuff, you don’t make any money and you will have to store them again or take them to the goodwill.  The idea of a garage sale is to get rid of the items, so unless you really want to get stuck with anything, price them well.  Better to make $100 on your sale, than $20 and have to pack up the rest of the stuff.   Always be ready to make a deal with a potential buyer.
  9. ANTIQUE ITEMS   Many antiques are not worth much today.  I have a lot of beautiful glassware that used to be valuable, but I took them to an antique dealer and he couldn’t even sell them.  If you think you have something that might be valuable, try taking it to a dealer or selling it on-line.  You won’t get much at a garage sale.
  10. garage sale2DISPLAY ITEMS WELL   Put up tables and make sure you have lots of space for people to walk around.  Tarps can be put on the ground if you don’t have enough tables.  Place items neatly and so they are easy to see.  People like to rummage in boxes but you will lose sales if items can’t garage sale4be seen so try to put out as much as you can.  Some bulk items can be left in boxes with a sign stating price (for example – all items in box are 25 cents each.  Books – hardcover $2, softcover $1, children’s books 50 cents)   Clothing should be hung if possible and a sign put up (tops – $2, pants – $3, etc).  If you have lots of clothing, books or other items, consider selling them as a box lot or fill a bag for $1.-your items are well displayed and easy to see – people do rummage in boxes, but a lot of things aren’t seen, so they don’t sell (boxes are where you put the junk and just price the box)
  11. SALES TACTICS   When items sell, fill up empty spaces and keep areas tidy.  When people can see everything clearly, they will buy more items.   If you see an interest in an item and the person puts it down, try giving them a deal they can’t refuse.  When your sale has gone past its first couple of hours, put out signs saying No reasonable offer refused or Make an offer.  Review your prices and mark down items.  When you are in the last hour, tell people that everything is half price or buy 1 get one free or have a bag sale (fill a bag for $1).
  12. garage sale5CREATE A HAPPY ATMOSPHERE   Be friendly with customers, smile and say hello.  Put up balloons.  Decorate.  Play some music (not too loud or weird).  People like to hang around a sale longer when they feel good and they might buy more.
  13. OTHER WAYS TO ADD SALES   Sell coffee and doughnuts, do some baking (if you make it look good, people will buy it), have a cooler with pop, juice, water (great on hot days), have a BBQ and sell hotdogs or hamburgers.
  14. garage sale7MONEY   Make sure you have lots of change.  I’ve had sales where the first 2 customers only had $20 bills and they bought 50 cents worth of items – this can take away all your change very quickly.  Don’t be afraid to ask people if they have something smaller.  Also make sure you keep the money in a safe place (money box, pocket apron) so it won’t disappear.  People have left their money laying somewhere and it has been picked up.  A good idea is to have 1 person sitting at a cash table taking money and giving change.
  15. AFTER THE SALE   Decide what you want to do with what is left over.  Donate any good items to goodwill.   You can list the items on a free site like Freecycle and people will come and get them.   Just put the items on a table or a tarp out by your curb and put a sign on it FREE – PLEASE TAKE AWAY – most of the items will be picked up.

These are just some suggestions that might help you with your own garage sale.  Have a good one!


Fix the one you have

Couple Having Breakfast in BedWhen we get married, we think life is going to be great.  We now have a partner that we love and want to share our life with.  Unfortunately, this wonderful love story starts to lose its magic when we realize that the person we married is not who we expected them to be.   We have arguments and misunderstandings.  We get angry and upset.   We lose interest in each other and start looking for other people to spend time with.   Communication breaks down and life becomes extremely difficult.  Then all too often, the result is separation or divorce.

Most married people have considered leaving their mate at one time or another, including myself.   But many of us hang in there for the children or because we still hope things might change.  The problem is, we keep hoping that our mate will change so we can be happy and our marriage will be great.  In reality, change IS possible, but we can’t change our mate – the only person we can change is ourselves.

What most people don’t stop to consider it that NOBODY will be exactly the way they want them to be.  If you leave a marriage because you don’t like something about your mate and look for someone who is better, you might as well not bother wasting your time, because you won’t find that ‘perfect’ mate and there will be something wrong with that new person.

Unless someone is treating you very badly, it would be much better to try to FIX THE ONE YOU HAVE!   You got married because you loved something about that person and that probably hasn’t changed.  You just discovered some problems that you didn’t like.  BUT, you already know the problems you are dealing with – if you find someone else, you will soon find out you have different problems to deal with and they might be worse than what you had.

The problem with marriage and any relationship is that we want everything our own way and we give up too easily.  Marriage is difficult and we have to work hard to make it last.  It’s easy to give up but that doesn’t resolve anything.

Marriage can be wonderful and fulfilling if both partners work together and try to help meet each other’s needs.  Instead of being selfish and only being concerned about making ourselves happy, we need to show love to our partner and the rest of our family.   This is the only way to find our own happiness.

This quote sums up what I have just said in just one simple sentence……

Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate.  ~Barnett R. Brickner



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Spend time with your children

m&msThe weather is getting nicer every day and soon it will be time for shorts and sandals!    Spring is my favourite time of year.  The days are getting longer, the sun shines brighter and it is getting warmer.

Yesterday we took my 20 month old grandson to one of our many local parks.  There were lots of families there with children of all ages, enjoying themselves on the swings and slides.    Our grandson loves going down the slide and he giggled the whole time he was on the swing.   I’m not sure who was having more fun – our grandson, my husband or myself.  It brought back memories of when our girls were small and we spent many happy hours going to the park and watching them play.

Now that I am a grandparent, I can see how important it is to spend lots of time with your children.  Many people get so caught up in the busyness of life that they have no time left to relax and have fun with their kids.   I’m certainly guilty of doing this and I won’t make the same mistake with my grandchildren.  Children grow up so fast and we can’t go back and re-live the past, so we need to make sure that we don’t forget what is important in life.    Paying attention to our children and giving them the gift of time will have lasting, positive effects on them.  Show them how much you love them with your time!

To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today”Anonymous

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Children learn by example

Children learn things in life by observing people as they grow up.   They watch their parents and other adults around them, noting everything they say and do.   Their minds are actively discovering their world and digesting a lot of information.   Parents need to be good examples of what they want their children to be when they grow up.  When children have positive role models to follow, they will become responsible, caring adults.  However, too often parents are caught up in their own issues and forget that their children are following their poor examples.

I like the poem by Dorothy Law Nolte, called Children Learn What They Live.  It draws a good picture of what children learn by the example they are shown.

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.

If a child lives with fear, he learns to be apprehensive.

If a child lives with pity, he learns to feel sorry for himself.

If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.

If a child lives with jealousy, he learns what envy is.

If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.

If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to be confident.

If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient. couple with baby

If a child lives with praise, he learns to be appreciative.

If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to love.

If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.

If a child lives with recognition, he learns that it is good to have a goal.

If a child lives with sharing, he learns about generosity.

If a child lives with honesty and fairness, he learns what truth and justice are.

If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith in himself and in those about him.

If a child lives with friendliness, he learns that the world is a nice place in which to live.

If you live with serenity, your child will live with peace of mind.

With what is your child living?