10 Thanksgiving Myths Dispelled

You may think you know the story of the first Thanksgiving, but it turns out that many of the details are myths! Read through this fun infographic to learn the real story behind Thanksgiving.

10 Thanksgiving Myths Dispelled [Source: Today I Found Out]

Posted in Holidays, Thanksgiving | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

What Are Your Gifts?

By: Carolyn Coleman

I recently joined a women’s bible study group. First of all, I must say that it is not your typical bible study class. One of the first topics we discussed was, “What are your natural giftsgifts?” Before this question was asked, I never really thought about my gifts. Honestly, I didn’t think I had any “natural gifts.”

As I started to think of this, I realized that I had a very special gift: I am a keeper of peace; I tend to bring harmony to most situations.

During all those years of being a stepmother to my husband’s twin boys, I never realized that I had a “natural gift” that helped me through that phase of my life. When mothering my stepsons, I always questioned why I was a stepmother and not a mother, knowing that I wanted to have my own child. Now I realize that I had a natural gift that prepared me to be a mother to my own child.

If it had not been for this discussion during bible study, I know that I would not have thought of myself as having any gifts. As women, mothers, and wives, we give so much of ourselves to others that we just think we are supposed to do these things. For me, being a stepmother removed all the myths about being in that role: the wicked stepmother myth, the myth that being a stepmother automatically makes you a mother, or (my favorite) the myth that if you’re nice to your stepchildren, they’ll automatically like you.

As I mature and think back on my challenges and or tough times, I’m amazed at the full circle of life. Raising my stepsons certainly had its challenges, but it was an enjoyable experience. And now here I am today raising my own son.

Some of the other gifts shared during this discussion included the gifts of patience, baking, organization, focus, and many more. I was amazed at the many gifts this group of women had to offer.

As the gift-giving season begins, I want to continue to search from within to see what other gifts I have to offer. I hope that you can take some time to think of the special gifts that you have and can share with others.

Posted in Carolyn Coleman, Mommy Advice | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Can Women Have It All?

By Janice Johnson-Plumer

Luna_Park_Melbourne_scenic_railwayAs I finally sit down after a day that I committed to doing nothing, this topic came across my mind. Nene Lekes, a housewife on Bravo’s ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta,’ has been quoted as saying, “I am just a hustler, I’m a grinder. I’m a worker bee.” This is a woman who is appearing on Broadway, started a clothing line, and is in constant demand for appearances. Economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett, CEO of Center for Talent Innovation and mother of four, thinks “women can have it all but maybe not all at the same time.” According to Hewlett, when women are in their early 20’s they should be looking for a mate and not worrying about their careers.

When I was just out of college I wouldn’t have listened if you told me that I was not going to have a career. I always said that I would wear Gucci shoes, and that I’d have a big desk and a chair that I would turn around like Alexis Carrington (remember the show Dynasty?) to let people know that I was a boss.

Now that I am older and supposedly wiser, I have come to the conclusion that family is important. My son is important. Being there for him is important. Yes, I would love the lucrative job where I am a leader who calls the shots. But when it is all said and done, I want to leave work at work. I don’t want to be available 24/7, especially when it interferes with my family time. Don’t get me wrong, I am a hustler and I can make a worker bee dizzy trying to keep up with me, but I know how to shut it off. I am a worker bee because I want to be a contributor to my household and when my son wants those $150 sneakers I can do it without batting an eye because I have earned extra money to do so.

I can look back on when my mother was raising me and appreciate all that she did for me, especially because she was able to spend time with me and be there when I came home from school. I had all the comforts of growing up and never knowing the wiser that my mother contributed what she could with part time jobs because all I could remember was that she was there.

But then we have the flip side of the coin from PepsiCo CEO, Indra Nooyi, who admitted how hard it is to get it right.

“I don’t think women can have it all. I just don’t think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all,” she said in an interview.

As mothers, are we just pretending to have it all when deep down we feel stressed out, overworked, unappreciated and just waiting for the day to be over with so we can rush home and throw on our pajamas? I know I can speak from personal experience when I say that I have been all of those things. Don’t get me wrong- I burn the candle at both ends. I work full time, do real estate part time, teach multiple spin classes a week, and I attend any community or school meetings that take place. Do I wish I could get off of this roller coaster? Absolutely! But how do you take a step back and get off the rollercoast, while still accomplishing everything you want to?

I think it all starts with us mothers taking care of ourselves. After all, if we don’t put our health first, who will? That is why I have elected to workout in the mornings while my husband is getting ready for work. It’s my time. It’s my sanctuary and it allows me to take care of my health. I have also adopted a healthier way of eating, and in turn I feel good! When you feel good, the little things don’t get you angry- like when you ask your kids a thousand times to pick up their room. Woosah!

In terms of mental well-being, I have learned to turn more into prayer and to try and just be still. I have a hard time being still, so I do it at odd times.

I look for the greater good in people rather than in things, especially material things. Those Louis Vuitton handbags will have to take a back seat until my son is old enough to supplement his sneaker fetish.

I also look for ways to give back. There’s something about giving back to others when we find fulfillment in our lives. I want to help women who may not have the opportunity to do it for themselves, whether it’s helping them to find a suit for a big interview or just having a day of beauty.

As you are running around asking yourself if this is all worth it? If it’s meaningful? If you’re making a difference for your children?

Let me know your thoughts.

Posted in can women have it all, work life balance | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Bedtime Bliss

By: Martianne Stanger

Before marriage and children, one thing I fantasized about was parenting my own children to bed one day. I imagined cuddling with my darlings to say our bedtime prayers, sing calming lullabies and share bedtime stories before I got up, tucked each child into bed, offered each a kiss on the forehead and quietly left the room as the children drifted into sweet slumber.

sibs sleep

Never did I imagine the reality that was to become mine. Years of bedtime struggles with a boy who “cannot turn his brain off” and his siblings who can, but don’t, because if brother is not sleeping, why should they? (Um, because Mommy needs somebody to do so – like herself!)

So it is that through the years, bedtime in my home has been anything but dreamy.

Sure, there have been some sweet moments when my children have scrambled to offer me bedtime blessings like the ones I give them or have melted my heart with their spontaneous prayers. And, there have been a number of occasions when I’ve sung my children their special songs and one or two of them have actually fallen asleep. Plus, nightly bedtime storytelling is a reality here (Granted, it is a reality that sometimes is less cuddly than it is claustrophobic since all three children want to be next to me, I only have two sides and the kids solution is to find another side. Yes, one child lies on one side of me, one on the other side; and the third either lies on my chest or against my head. Mind you, this was all well and good when the children were tiny, but now they are growing. Well, let’s just say it is not the most comfortable positioning for bedtime stories.)

And what about hat tucking in I imagined? Hmm… Reality looks different than my dreams. For, I envisioned the typical tuck in, blankets tight around smiling children. It was not until I had a “sensory kid” that I learned for some children the preferred weight upon a body is not that of lightly tucked blanket, or even a number of heavy ones, but that of a parent! Yes, for years even if left in his own bed sleeping, one child would eventually get up, come find a parent and “tuck” himself into that parent by squirming his legs under said parent.

His siblings wanted Mom or Dad, too. Can we say, “musical beds”? How about “bedtime mayhem”? Kids outlasting Mom or Dad in staying awake?

That has been our reality.

Until recently.

Recently – through prayer, persistence (and adaptation of!) with our bedtime routines, the children’s growing maturity, coaching and sensory work, and, I do believe, the grace of God – bedtime has become a little more blissful.

In fact, it has become something better than I ever imagined. More often than not, one or two of my kids crash while we pray a rosary with youtube after bedtime stories and the other goes to – and stays! – in bed, trusting I will be in with him at some point. He does not beg for me to stay with him until he falls asleep, nor does he cry or panic quite as often about his inability to fall asleep. He just rests as best as he can and, sometimes, actually drifts off before I go into him.

And, then, in the morning, if I sneak out of bed before the kids are up, sometimes I hear a rustling and find this:

big boy

A well-rested boy reading quietly to himself as his siblings cuddle nearby still asleep.

Morning bliss beget by better bedtimes. I will take it!

Posted in Family, Martianne Stanger, Siblings | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Crockpot Meatloaf

By: Kathy Trainor

crockpotWhy dirty an extra dish?  You can free form your meat loaf by putting it in the bottom of your Crockpot and then you have a meal ready for you in less than 6 hours.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of ground beef, bison, or turkey. I like meatloaf mix from my local store
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce (or more, to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce or Ketchup of choice to go over the top after cooking (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients well in a large bowl.
  2. As stated above you can do this with no pan or a pan. Form meatloaf or place meatloaf in the pan.
  3. Put the lid on crock pot and cook on low (6-8 hours) or high (4 hours.)
 If not using the loaf pan, it will cook faster, so check in after 3-4 hours on if cooking on low or after 2-3 hours on high.
  4. When cooked, turn the Crockpot off and let cool for 20 minutes with lid off. Add BBQ sauce or ketchup if you choose to at this time.

ENJOY!

Posted in Cooking, Food, Kathy Trainor, Recipes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Ordinary People

By: Sandra L. Churchill

At the beginning of November, Catholics celebrate All Saints Day, a holy day that honors ordinary people who did extra-ordinary things—heroes of faith. Sharing some “highlights” of some famous and some lesser-known saints with my CCD class, I was inspired by the acts of seemingly “ordinary” people. Some overcame illness and poverty to continually help others. Others faced their persecution or other insurmountable battles with incredible bravery and perseverance.

Moms, dads, teachers—any of us—can be saints when we choose love and patience over a short fuse, whether in traffic, the grocery store line, a fight for the TV remote, or in our daily priorities. Each of us has the ability to do “small things with great love,” in the style of St. Theresa, nicknamed the little flower of Jesus. One need not be Catholic to be inspired by the great saints. How amazing is it that every day we have the same 24 hours that Einstein, or Gandhi or Mother Theresa did? We need not be rich or famous or “important” in society’s eyes because simply living on the planet gives us the opportunity to be kind, be respectful, and care for people, animals, and the environment. We have a brand new day each morning, brimming with chances to teach, to learn, to love, and to inspire.

Scout's outing

Scout's outing

Our son’s scout troop recently participated in a Fall Camporee, which featured skill- and team-building activities ranging from compass reading and problem solving to first-aid and sportsmanship. One activity involved a “zombie attack” (fitting with the Halloween season, of course) where the scouts had to splint, bandage, and ultimately transport an “injured” scout on a stretcher to get him to safety. While the activity was a mock scenario and filled with laughter and fun, the compassion and caring was evident as the handy scouts sprang into action and mended their fellow troop member.

Scout's outing

Scout's outing

Scout's outing

Scout's outing
Reba McIntyre’s song “Everyday People” celebrates this concept of ordinary people doing extra-ordinary things beautifully. The song lyrics are as follows:

College kids turning twenty-one
And their senior year spring break was here
They headed south but not for sun
On their skin where the storms had been

It was hard fixing windows
And shingles and doors
And tide never felt so good before

Everyday people
Are the ones who are making miracles
And it’s beautiful

Everyday people
Lifting up the world like an answered prayer
I thank God they’re there
They’re the ones who care
Everyday people

Doctor said, “Good news, we caught it soon enough
We can clear this up”
But she’s thirty and single with two kids to raise
Times are tough these days

So her friends made some calls
And the word spread around
How her bills got paid she don’t know how

Everyday people
Are the ones who are making miracles
And it’s beautiful

Everyday people
Lifting up the world like an answered prayer
I thank God they’re there
They’re the ones who care

Everyday people
Everyday people

A little girl takes her mama’s hand
And walks inside saying, please don’t cry
As the people who built this house just for them
Laugh through the tears as a family moves in

Everyday people
Are the ones who are making miracles
And it’s beautiful.

Here’s to starting a new month—the month of gratitude and blessings—with a renewed spirit and a commitment to make a difference, big and small. Here’s to the courage, energy and reassurance that you can do “small things with great love.” You have a brand new day, each and every morning, to be an inspiration. That is the way to be a saint, to those you love, to strangers, and to those you encounter in your daily travels.

Posted in Community Service, Sandy Churchill | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Switch Witch

By: Heather Desmond O’Neill

Call me a glutton for punishment.  We’ve incorporated one more “tradition” in our house around a holiday.  The Tooth Fairy has made a few visits lately.  Buddy the Elf leaves magic Christmas Pajamas on Christmas Eve.  Lucky the Leprechaun has made a few switch witchappearances around St. Patrick’s Day.  The Easter Bunny never fails.  And most recently, The Switch Witch has made an appearance.

The Switch Witch comes to town after Halloween (or after any of those parades where they obnoxiously throw tons and tons of junk candy at the kids, causing them to fight over who got what and whose turn it is to pick out which candy to eat.  I can’t stand the bags of cheap candy that seem to last forever.)

If you leave your candy for the Switch Witch, she will leave you some sort of gift in return.

“What happens if I don’t leave my candy for her?” my six-year-old asks.

“She just takes it and you get nothing.  She is a witch, after all,” I reply.

We started this a few years ago and so far it’s worked pretty well.  The kids choose a few pieces of candy to keep for themselves.  We’ve settled on whatever age you are is the number of candies you can keep.

Then they choose a spot to leave the bucket/bag for the Switch Witch and she leaves something in return.  Last year she left new light up toys.  This year she left Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cups, plates and utensils.

When the boys found their “gifts” this morning, one cried, “This is AWESOME!  We can use these all the time!  So much better than candy that you can only eat once!”  The other cried, “We’re rich!”  (Not so sure he gets what that really means, but we’ll go with it.)

I don’t want to deprive my kids of their Halloween candy, but I don’t want them eating it all either.  This way they have a few pieces, we stash some of the good stuff for the adults (the rest I bring to work), and the boys get something in return for their donation.  Win-win all the way around.    

Yes, it’s one more thing to remember, but seeing their true joy over plates and cups rather than candy truly is worth the extra effort.

Posted in Family, Food, Halloween, Heather Desmond O'Neill, Holidays | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments