Thursday, May 31, 2012

Managing TV Time for Your Kids

Is there any parent living in a civilized country who doesn't struggle with this? If so, I'd love to meet him or her. At my house, my five year old will often ask to watch a show or two when he first wakes up in the morning. Then he'll ask to watch another a couple hours later, and then another a while after that. Of course I have times where I actually want him to watch TV (like while I'm typing this blog post), because he leaves me alone and lets me get my work done. And to top off the daily TV marathon in our household, I like for him to watch TV before bed, because it seems to calm him down, get him still, and numb his brain a touch.

So for a while, my son was watching about 3 hours of TV per day. And in my opinion (and the opinions of child psychologists) that's an hour too much. You see, I want my kid to have an imagination. I want him to think up his own games and play by himself at times. And I don't want him so used to watching TV that he looses the ability to entertain himself.

Thus I came up with a solution to our "TV Time Troubles". And horror of all horrors, I actually stole this idea from my mom, who did this with me and my siblings when we were younger.

Now I can hear all your voices collectively asking me, "What did you do? What did you do?"

I made tickets. That's right, tickets. I took some card stock, cut out four rectangles, and wrote "TV Ticket: redeemable for 1/2 hour of TV per day" on the strips. Now I give these tickets to my son every morning. When asks to watch TV, I pretty much say yes, but I remind him that when the tickets are gone, they're gone.

I've been using this system for about a week, and it's working well. My son no longer throws a fit when I tell him he can't watch anymore TV, because he has a tangible way of understanding when he's watched enough (he's out of tickets).

So as much as I may not want to admit my mother was right, in this instance, I believe she was.

But like anything, the tickets system isn't perfect. Here's a couple of warnings:

The first day or two we used tickets, my son watched his TV earlier in the day. This soon ended, though, when he realized that he didn't have any tickets left for before bedtime. Now he's spacing out his ticket usage more evenly.

I also had to drop the idea of asking him to watch TV when it was convenient for me. I just leave the choice up to him. Yes, this makes for a bit of a sacrifice on my part, but on the flip side, my son is learning to make his own decisions about television. And it's not too hard for me to adjust to his schedule and do computer work when HE decides to watch TV.

So there you have it, a fun method to manage your children's TV time. Now I'm curious about the rest of you. What do you use to manage your kid's TV usage? And how many of you find yourselves using some of the techniques your parents once used with you?

Monday, May 28, 2012

In Honor of Memorial Day

I want to personally thank all the men and women who have given of their time, labor, and lives in the service of the United States of America. Please know that I'm saying a special prayer of gratitude to those soldiers who have died defending our great country, and for those family members who have given up their loved ones.

Here's a special prayer I found online at It beautifully sums up my thoughts, and I invite you to visit the rest of the site for further information.

By Rev. Dick Kozelka (ret)
First Congregational Church of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN.

Eternal God,
Creator of years, of centuries,
Lord of whatever is beyond time,
Maker of all species and master of all history --
How shall we speak to you
from our smallness and inconsequence?
Except that you have called us to worship you
in spirit and in truth;
You have dignified us with loves and loyalties;
You have lifted us up with your lovingkindnesses.
Therefore we are bold to come before you without groveling
[though we sometimes feel that low]
and without fear
[though we are often anxious].
We sing with spirit and pray with courage
because you have dignified us;
You have redeemed us from the aimlessness
of things' going meaninglessly well.
God, lift the hearts of those
for whom this holiday is not just diversion,
but painful memory and continued deprivation.
Bless those whose dear ones have died
needlessly, wastefully [as it seems]
in accident or misadventure.
We remember with compassion those who have died
serving their countries
in the futility of combat.
There is none of us but must come to bereavement and separation,
when all the answers we are offered
fail the question death asks of each of us.
We believe that you will provide for us
as others have been provided with the fulfillment of
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Book Spotlight--Historical Romance Novels for May (Part 2)

Hi Everyone!

Continuing on with the books I introduced you to on Monday, I want to share the next two Love Inspired Historical books with you. First is The Marshal's Promise by Rhonda Gibson. Here's more about the book:

Mail-order bride Rebecca Ramsey arrives in the New Mexico territory full of dreams—but they're shattered when she discovers her intended husband has been killed. If it weren't for U.S. marshal Seth Billings's housekeeping job offer, she'd have nowhere to go. Rebecca loves tending to Seth's home, but the strong and silent lawman is harder to figure out. What secret is he hiding?

Caring for Jesse Cole's would-be bride is the least Seth can do. If it weren't for him, the young man would still be alive. Seth had promised to look after Rebecca—and to keep her safe from Jesse's enemies. Now if only he can keep his heart safe, as well….

Now I have to admit, I LOVE this book cover. It is by far my favorite cover out this month, and I'm not quite sure why. Maybe it has to do with the ominous sky in the background. Or maybe it's because just a man is on the cover--a rather attractive, dangerous looking man at that. What is it about dangerous looking men that make women swoon? I have no idea, but if any of you figure it out, be sure to let me know.

The last book for this month is called Homefront Hero, and it's written by Allie Pleiter. Allie is a long time Love Inspired Historical author who has attracted many readers with her adventurous novels. In fact, she's one of the first Love Inspired Historical authors I remember reading. Here's more about her newest novel:

Dashing and valiantly wounded, Captain John Gallows could have stepped straight out of an army recruitment poster. Leanne Sample can't help being impressed—although the lovely Red Cross nurse tries to hide it. She knows better than to get attached to the daring captain who is only home to heal and help rally support for the war's final push. As soon as he's well enough, he'll rush back to Europe, back to war—and far away from South Carolina and Leanne. But when an epidemic strikes close to home, John comes to realize what it truly means to be a hero—Leanne's hero.

So there you have it, all four of May's releases from Love Inspired Historical. If you've got a few extra hours set aside for reading over Memorial Day, I'd encourage you to pick up one of these books. And here's a link to Part 1 of the post, if you missed the first two novels I highlighted on Monday.

Wishing you all a lovely Memorial Day weekend,

Naomi Rawlings

Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Spotlight--Historical Romance Novels for May (Part 1)

Hi Everyone!

I'm running a bit behind in my book introductions for this month, but I want to tell you about the books releasing from my publisher, Love Inspired Historical, in May (you know, before May turns into June and I have more books to tell you about).

The first book is The Homesteader's Sweetheart by Lacy Williams. This novel is on the top of my list, as the snippets and scenes I've seen look terribly interesting. Furthermore, this is only Lacy's second novel, and she's a young mom with two kids under 5. Sounds a little like "yours  truly," as she's just starting her writing career and has a couple little ones running around at home, doesn't it? So without further ado, here's more about the book:

To escape a dreaded arranged marriage, Penny Castlerock will face anything--even life on her grandfather's farm. But it isn't the rustic lifestyle that's got the Philadelphia socialite tied in knots. It's the handsome homesteader and his eight adopted children next door....

With seven boys and a girl to raise, transplanted farmer Jonas White could sure use some help. He just didn't expect it to come from the high-spirited, copper-haired beauty he's always admired from afar. But surely working the land is no life for a woman like Penny. Yet a threat to Jonas's farm just might show him how perfect Penny is for him after all. 

Seven boys! Can you imagine? Wow! Makes me want to read the book just because I know I'll have to laugh through half of it. In fact, I read an extra scene where one of the boys in this story is plotting to help his daddy and the prim Miss Castlerock fall in love. It looked super fun. Also, Lacy's book has gotten some great reviews from places like the Romantic Times.

Next I want to introduce you to Mistaken Bride by Renee Ryan. Mistaken Bride is book two in the Irish Brides Series that I introduced you to last month. If you read book one (The Wedding Journey by Cheryl St. John) you might want to check this one out as well.

When William Black's mail-order bride fails to appear at the Boston docks, he's relieved when beautiful, vibrant Bridget Murphy steps in. However, she has a surprise in store. She will be a temporary nanny to his young twins…but she will not marry without love.

Faith Glen, Massachusetts, is worlds away from the poverty Bridget knew in Ireland. And William Black couldn't be more different from her faithless ex-fiancé. Yet that integrity Bridget so admires binds William to a promise that could keep them apart forever. In this new land of opportunity, does she dare to wish for a happy ending?

Got to love it when Mail Order Bride A is supposed to arrive, but Mail Order Bride B shows up instead!

So there you have it, two great books from Love Inspired Historical this month. We'll look at the next two books on Thursday. Now I'm curious about you. Have any of you read either of these books? Does one catch your eye? Let me know your thoughts!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pizza Fest--What's the Weirdest Pizza You've Ever Eaten?

Have any of you tried an unusual pizza lately? Maybe it's just me, but when I think of pizza, it usually involves a thick crust, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni. I mean, can a pizza be a pizza without tomato sauce and pepperoni?

Evidently, it can.

Our local playgroup took a trip to see a children's play earlier this week, and we also scheduled a tour of Papa Murphy's Pizzeria. Did you know Papa Murphy's has a Herb Chicken Mediterranean Pizza? This pizza is really more like a flat bread than a pizza. It has olive oil and salt instead of sauce, then mozzarella cheese, grilled chicken, baby spinach leaves, and sun-dried tomatoes.

It's delicious! More than delicious, really. I couldn't believe how good it tasted. Plus I was feeding my kids spinach and tomatoes. What mom doesn't love that? We'll definitely be ordering more of those the next time we find ourselves near a Papa Murphy's. (Sadly, the closest Papa Murphy's is over an hour away). But in the meantime, I'm going to try out a homemade version. I even have it in my mind to try and make our own sun-dried tomatoes from our garden this year.

So now I'm curious about you. Share either the best pizza you've ever eaten, or the weirdest. I'm anxious to see what kind of answers everyone comes up with.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Traditions

"Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
I'm happy I have a mom
As super as you."

This is the poem that appeared in the  homemade card my five year old gave me for Mother's Day yesterday. Isn't it sweet?

I love Mother's Day, both memories of what I used to do for my mother when I was growing up, and the things my husband and children now do for me. It's fun to watch a holiday like Mother's Day come full circle so that the daughter is now the mother.

So now I'm curious about the rest of you. Does anyone have a great Mother's Day tradition to share? A unique surprise you got one year? I'd love to trade some stories.

For us, every year our church does a Mother's Day potluck where the men have to make the food, set up for potluck, and clean up the kitchen afterwards. It's a fun day and an especially nice change of pace for me (since I'm usually in charge of running the potlucks and cleaning up).

How about the rest of you?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Do Not Disturb the Family Peace

As I sat down at my computer to write a blog post for this site, I heard a ruckus upstairs. Sounds of screaming that didn’t sound quite so happy. With four children between the ages of 3 and 9, one gets used to a certain amount of loudness, but my mother’s radar detected something different in these sounds.

I followed the source to my girls’ room, where the 9-year-old was attempting to drag the 7-year-old out of the room because she “wanted her room to herself.” Never mind that the room was both of theirs, she wanted to be alone. I separated the pair for a cooling off period, thinking that a 9-year-old was a little too young to pull a Greta Garbo.

Sibling conflict can be overwhelming, especially when you have a mix of ages and genders. Most of the time, my children do play well together with a minimum of fuss. But it’s inevitable that conflict will raise its ugly head at times.

The way you as a parent handle sibling clashes can help—or hinder—how your children interact with each other. Here’s how we handle sibling clashes.

We decided that we would not play referee. It was not our job to intervene when the wailing started out of sight. We would not judge who was right and who was wrong. No assigning roles of victim or villain for us. If we happened to actually see the wrongdoing, that was another thing. But we would not participate after the fact in their disagreements. We would give kisses, but would not encourage tattling.

To enforce this, we created a chart and stuck it to the refrigerator. Titled “Do Not Disturb the Family Peace,” the chart outlined what would earn every child a ticket:

  1. Keep it down. (Do not become too boisterous or noisy.)
  2. No hurting each other. (Do not hit, punch, push or otherwise maim your siblings.)
  3. No tattling. (Do not become a snitch on your siblings.)

Clipped to the fridge beside this chart are three tickets, pieces of laminated paper. For each infraction, the entire group loses one ticket. If all three tickets are lost, the entire group goes directly to their rooms for the rest of the day and directly to bed after supper.

This eliminates the problem of trying to figure out what happened. It doesn’t really matter who was at fault, does it? What this system is doing is putting the resolution of conflict onto the children, where it belongs.

When I heard my two girls going at it, I simply walked in, said they were disturbing the family peace and directed one to get a ticket. No arguing, no drama. Then I walked out.

So far, in the two months we’ve had this system in place, they have yet to lose all three tickets. And if they do, I’ll enjoy a nice day without kids underfoot, and a more relaxing evening with my husband.

Now, would it be terrible of me to wish they would lose all three tickets one day….?

Sarah Hamaker is a freelance writer and editor, and author of Hired@Home, a guide to unlocking women’s work-from-home potential now available on Kindle. Her stories have appeared in previous Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Sarah lives in Virginia with her husband and four children. Visit her online at, where she blogs about working from home.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Mom Wars--One Mom's Take

Hi Everyone,

Have the rest of you been watching all the political commentary on the "Mom Wars" recently? I wouldn't say I've been paying close attention, as I figure politicians will always find a way to argue with each other, just as they'll always find a way to tax either you or your neighbor, but as I maintain a blog written for stay-at-home and work-at-home mom's I thought I'd weigh in.

This whole war was apparently reignited in mid April, when CNN commentator Hilary Rosen said Ann Romney had "never worked a day in her life."

Ouch! Um, perhaps the commentator didn't know that Ann Romney has FIVE (yes five, count them if you wish) boys. Not only that, but all five of these boys appear to be nice, hardworking, upstanding citizens. All of them are married. And four of them are now raising their own children.

Politics aside, the Romney family creates a nice family image, a image that  that I hope to one day emulate. And as a mom who feels suicidal some days as I try to raise only two boys, I have to wonder how on earth Ann Romney managed five of them. But I can guarantee you this:

Raising five boys was hard work for Ann Romney. And raising one child is hard work for any mother.

Perhaps Ann Romney had more money than I do as she raised her boys. Well, actually, there's no perhaps about it. I KNOW her hubby made (and still makes) more money in one year than probably will over his entire lifetime. And while it's nice to dream about buying a big house and adding a chef and maid to our household so that I don't have to cook or clean, cooking and cleaning don't comprise the bulk of raising children.

Teaching and instructing your children is far more important than what your family eats for dinner on any given night, or how how much dust is laying on top of your window moldings. 

Teaching your children to be hard workers is a difficult task for any parent. Teaching your children to pick up after themselves, to be courteous to others, to consider others' opinions and needs, to value family, etc, is all hard work for parents. And imparting those values and that high level of morality is, in my opinion, the most important part of parenting. And (contrary to political commentator Hilary Rosen's beliefs) it involves a lot of hard work. For any parent. Regardless of whether you happen to be Michelle Obama or Ann Romney. Regardless of your work schedules and household income.

Because as a parent, as a mom, YOU (and if you have a husband, him as well) have more impact and control over your children than anyone else. You will affect and shape your children in a way no one else can.

So now I'm curious about the rest of you. Do you feel that people like Ann Romney and Michelle Obama can relate to your struggles as a mother? Or do you feel that the amount of wealth in which Ann was and Michelle is able to raise her children disqualifies either of them from being an example of an average mom? When you look at a family like the Romneys, with their children fully grown and now raising children of their own, do you hope to follow their examples as far as raising children is concerned, or do you have different goals and hopes for your children twenty years down the road?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Top TenThings Never to Tell a Stay At Home Mom

10. All day with your kids? I can't even imagine.

9. I'm jealous. I wish my husband made enough money I didn't have to work either.

8. No wonder your child is so clingy.

7. You spent all that money on a college degree, and now you're not even using it?

6. I couldn’t do that. I need to have a life.

5. Wow. I thought your house would be cleaner than this.

4. Does your husband give you an allowance from his paycheck?

3. Oh how wonderful you get to sleep in everyday.

2. What do you mean you don't cook dinner every night?

1. You're just a mom? You mean you don't have a real job?

*** I can't take full credit for this list I compiled ideas from numerous other places around the web, added a few of my own thoughts, and rearranged the order.

So Moms, now I'm curious. What's the worst thing you've ever heard about staying at home?