Sunday, May 8, 2016

Things My Mom Taught Me About #Parenting Tween/Teen Girls

Navigating the tween and teen years as a female can be challenging and stressful for both the daughter and mother. Daughters have a mix of of hormones, drama, mean girls, zits, social media and boys. Whew! And mothers have the sweet child they have loved one minute and the next, some creature that they are quite certain didn't come of their loins! The issues these young ladies have today are quite complex, but yet, good parenting does not change.

When I think back, my mom amazes me with her parenting skills. She was tough, but loving. And she always knew how to handle tween/teen girls--drama and all. Seriously--she had three teen girls and one teen boy all at the same time. In fact, she had five kids between the tween and teen ages at the same time at one point! If she ever sweated about it, I never saw it. 

What I gleaned from her style of parenting was amazing and I want to share these tips with my readers because what she did and did not do helped me navigate my tween/teen years without feeding into the drama. So, here are some tips that I learned from my mom and a few I have learned from working with teens over the years.
  1. Check in daily with your child. Ask about their friends. Ask what the best part of their day was. Ask what was the worst. Doing this opens the lines of communication. Some days, maybe your child won't have much to say, but other days they will open the door to their world. I know there have been days when I talk to my daughter after school and seems like she had a great day. But then we find the quiet time when she is snuggling in bed and she opens up about a friend who said something hurtful.
  2. Their drama is NOT your drama. Stay out of it. By that, I mean listen to what they say. Let your daughter vent. And no matter how upset you may be about what some mean little girl said or did, don't show that you are upset. Don't resort to name calling. Don't tell your child how mean the other person is. Instead, calmly express your concern about the situation. Make helpful statement like, "That wasn't nice of her. Maybe she was having a bad day." Getting upset and angry about how your child was treated will only make matters worse. First, it will just fuel your child's upset feelings. And secondly, your daughter may be upset with someone today, and will be best friends with her tomorrow. If your daughter thinks that you think poorly of her friend now, she may not confide in you.
  3. Model, model, model. I can't stress this enough. Your daughter is trying to figure out her way in this world. If she sees how you confidently handle situations, she is likely to mimic you. If she sees you getting overly upset when your friend does something you don't like, she will do the same with her friends.
  4. One of the greatest issues that young women have is low self-worth. They think they are not good enough. The media constantly is telling them they need to act, be, and look a certain way. They compare themselves with their peers. Helping your daughter to focus on her character, rather than her looks is important. When we put too much focus on our daughters or ourselves looking a certain way, the need to wear certain name brand clothing, etcetera, we are teaching them that if they don't do these things, they are not worthy. Teach your daughters the value of their bodies and how to respect their bodies.
  5. Help your child to come to their own (right) conclusions. When it comes to friends, sometimes our experience tells us that someone our child is hanging out with is not of good character. Coming straight out and telling our daughter this is a surefire way to start a battle. Instead, talk to your daughter about what a good friend looks like.
  6. When your daughter has problems with someone, don't tell her to not talk to the other girl--no matter how mean this girl is. This is wrong on so many levels. First, it is hurtful. The other girl may feel excluded. Secondly, it is just plain disrespectful. Teach your daughter to be kind. As Aesop said, no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Teach her to rise above. This is a skill she will need for the rest of her life.
  7. Teach her how to fight her own battles. You fighting her battles is such a disservice to your daughter. You are not always going to be around to help your daughter so she needs to learn how to resolve her problems herself. 
  8. Teach her how to be hardworking and independent. Chores are important. So many skills are learned by doing chores--teamwork, responsibility, stick-to-it-ness. When she is out in the real world, being hardworking and independent go a long way. An example in my own life was when I lost a job due to budget cuts. I was single and living out of state. I could have filed for unemployment, but instead, jumped to take a couple part-time jobs where I ended up with full-time offers from both.
  9. Get your own insecurities out of the way. You are the grown up. Act like it. Love the skin you are in. Love yourself for who you are--flaws and all. My favorite expression ever since my daughter was young is that we are all perfectly imperfect (how luck was I to find this on a t-shirt for her last year?).
  10. Don't try to live through your daughter. Don't push your daughter to be the cheerleader or the sports player because it is what you wanted or what you want for your daughter. Let her decide what is right for her. Help her to identify her talents and strengths instead.
  11. When the experience a problem at school with a teacher, don't jump in to fix it. Guess what? Teachers aren't out to get your child. Instead, encourage your child to do something about it. Encourage them to talk to the teacher about their grade. Oh, and by the way, if she doesn't get perfect grades, that's okay. 
  12. Encourage your child to compete with only one person--themselves.
  13. Teach your daughter that she cannot possibly compare herself to anyone else because there is no one else like her. Tell her it is like comparing an apple to an orange. She is different from others. And that's a good thing. Always be ready to point out her strengths.
  14. Teach her to be humble. Help her to admit when she is wrong and do something about it.
  15. Let your daughter fail. The greatest disservice we can do to our children is to not let them fail or to rush in when they do and try to make it better. If you haven't figured it out by now, life sucks sometimes. It's better they learn that lesson now then when they get out in the real world and deal with even bigger disappointments and don't have the experience to handle them.
  16. Teacher her to have manners and that a written thank you goes a long way.
  17. Teach her that true beauty comes from within.
  18. Remind her that you love her, even when you don't see eye to eye.
Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Must for Every Wardrobe #Spon

Do you like the look of layers but hate the bulk? It seems sometimes when I wear layers, the under layer tends to ride up and bunch up around the middle, making me uncomfortable and my outfit look sloppy. It happens sometimes even when I wear a tank under things. That's why I love the concept of Halftees. As soon as I heard of them, I knew I wanted to try them. I am so glad they sent me a couple to try out for free in exchange for my honest opinions.

Halftees are one of those things that make you want to wack yourself on the head and say, "Why didn't I think of that?" Concept is so simple--a layering shirt that is basically just the half that shows--neckline and arms.  The story behind Halftees is this:
About eight years ago I had just given birth to our third baby ( we now have 7! ) As I was trying to nurse him and fighting with not one shirt but two ( layers of course!) I asked myself, grumpily "why can't someone come up with a half shirt that still provides all the modest coverage I need in the neckline and sleeve but ditch all the bulky length?" It wasn't until after my fifth child that I realized I was the "someone" and decided I needed to take action and design my own undershirt. Thus Halftee Layering Fashions was born - a layering piece that is "all style-no hassle"
There are a range of styles from tanks to long sleeve, from plain to lace or peeks of lace. They have Halftees for women, plus size, pregnant women and even kids. Halftees come in a variety of colors as well to suit all your wardrobe needs. You would think something so great would be expensive, but they are not. Just like the the concept of Halftees, they are modestly priced at round $9-$24. With summer coming on, I can see the advantage in being able to keep the layered look without adding heat.
I tried the tank Halftee in black. I can't tell you how perfect this is. I have so many wrap dresses that are cut just a bit low. Wearing the Halftee gives me just enough coverage or more coverage (if I reverse it) to allow me to wear my dresses without the need to pin the neckline so I don't show all my goods and also don't have to worry about a tank or cami riding up around my waist as the two inch signature band keeps the Halftee in place. I also like the feel of the fabric. It is so soft--48% Cotton, 48% Modal, 4% Spandex.

The other Halftee they sent me was 3/4 Halftee. This is perfect for wearing under my sport shirts for when I want more sleeve.  Once again, it is also reversable for a higher or lower neckline and made out of the same, soft material. With summer coming on, I can see the advantage in being able to keep the layered look without adding heat.

Here are some pictures so you can see how cute these look in real life.

To learn more about Halftee, visit

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Two Recipes from 150 Best Recipes for Cooking in Foil #recipes

I love to make easy meals with less clean up, so I was happy to review 150 Best Recipes for Cooking in Foil by Marilyn Haugen in exchange for my honest opinions.

As you may already know, I love to go camping. But whether I am home or out camping, I love dinners that don't require a lot of clean up. Cooking in foil is the perfect solution. That being said, I can only eat so much campfire stew, so I am always on the hunt for great recipes that can be prepared in foil.

If you haven't ever cooked in foil, this book is perfect as it includes some important tips such as the difference between flat packets and tent-style packets and how to make each. Also included are great tips for foil packet success. Trust me, little things like making sure you use heavy duty foil can make all the difference.

The first section of the book includes all camping recipes from breakfast to dessert. These recipes include canned ingredients or pantry staples with basic seasonings so you have less to pack. However, if you are like me and do more glamping (camping in a camper rather than a tent) than camping, you can definitely use any recipes in the book as you most likely have some conveniences of a refrigerator.

The next section of the book is dedicated to grilling recipes and includes recipes from starters to main dishes, side dishes and desserts.

The last section cover oven recipes. Perfect for winter or when you don't want to girl. Included are snacks and starters to desserts.

The book includes two sections of glossy color spreads of different recipes as well as an index.

I made the Ginger Soy Salmon with Lemon Caper Butter the other night and it was even better than I imagined. The entire family gobbled it up. I thought I was making enough to have some leftover, but that wasn't the case because we all wanted more. 

I like that the recipes don't require exotic ingredients that I have no idea what they are or where to find. The recipes naturally are fairly simple to put together, simple to cook, and more simple to clean up. Yep, clean up means wadding up the foil and tossing it and wiping the counter. Love it!

Courtesy of 150 Best Recipesfor Cooking in Foil by Marilyn Haugen © 2016 Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

Loaded Baked Sweet Potatoes
Roasted sweet potatoes are elevated to a new flavor level with black beans, peppers and onions, creating a hearty vegetarian meal that even meat lovers will enjoy.

Makes 6 servings
 Preheat oven to 400F (200C)
        6 sheets heavy-duty foil, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray
6           sweet potatoes (each about 5 oz/150 g) 6
1 tsp     virgin olive oil                                      5 mL
1           can (14 to 19 oz/398 to 540 mL) black beans, rinsed and drained 1
1           red bell pepper, finely chopped               1
1           small red onion, finely chopped              1
1 tsp     chili powder                                         5 mL
1 tsp     paprika                                                 5 mL
             Kosher salt
12        cup plain Greek yogurt                   125 mL
1 tsp     taco seasoning                                    5 mL
12         cup salsa                                         125 mL
12        cup shredded Mexican cheese blend 125 mL
14        cup chopped green onions               60 mL
1.  Brush skin of sweet potatoes with oil. Place a sweet potato on each prepared foil sheet. Prick tops of sweet potatoes with a fork. Wrap foil tightly around sweet potatoes. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until slightly softened.
2.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine beans, red pepper, onion, chili powder and paprika. Season to taste with salt.
3.  Carefully, to avoid tearing foil, open packets and cut a large slice across the top of each sweet potato. Lightly mash sweet potato flesh with a fork. Pack bean mixture into sweet potatoes, dividing evenly. Fold foil into tent-style packets and seal edges tightly. Place packets on a baking sheet.
4.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are softened to your liking and toppings are heated through.
 5.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine yogurt and taco seasoning.

6.  Serve sweet potatoes topped with seasoned yogurt, salsa, cheese and green onions.

Sweet potato skins can be eaten, if desired. Choose sweet potatoes that do not have a waxy or dyed exterior. Organically grown or farmers market sweet potatoes are your best choice for this.

Mandarin Orange Chicken and Broccoli
This is one of my all-time favorite choices for takeout Chinese food. This version is simple enough to take camping and grill over hot coals.

Makes 6 servings

·        Prepare campfire coals
·        6 sheets heavy-duty foil, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray
112 lbs boneless skinless chicken (dark or light meat), sliced  750 g

3 cups   cooked rice                                      750 mL
1           red bell pepper, sliced                               1
1           green bell pepper, sliced                           1
1           onion, sliced                                              1
3 cups   broccoli florets                               750 mL
2           mandarin orange fruit cups, with juice  2
1 cup     thawed frozen peas                         250 mL
3 tbsp    teriyaki sauce                                    45 mL
1.   Divide chicken evenly among prepared foil sheets. Top with rice, red pepper, green pepper, onion, broccoli, oranges and peas, dividing evenly. Drizzle with teriyaki sauce. Fold foil into tent-style packets and seal edges tightly.
2.   Place packets on hot coals and cook for 30 minutes, turning packets over occasionally, until vegetables are tender and chicken is no longer pink.

Prepare the peppers, onions and broccoli at home and pack them in your cooler. They can all be combined in a plastic food storage bag.
Mandarin orange fruit cups come in 4- or 6-count packages. The remaining cups make a great snack or breakfast side.

Ramona Quimby Author Beverly Cleary Turns 100!

Links in this post contain affiliate links to Amazon's best prices.

 I could hardly believe that Beverly Cleary is nearly 100! She is an amazing author of timeless books such as Ramona the Pest, Ribsy and Mouse and the Motorcycle.  Books I read and enjoyed--books my children have read and enjoyed. If you haven't read them, grab a copy of some and read with your child. I guarantee you both will enjoy the antics of her characters!

I really enjoyed watching this interview of her on the Today Show as seen below.  Happy Birthday, Beverly!

Giveaway! Purex Plus Clorox2 Stain Fighting Enzymes #Spon

I have been using Purex in my laundry room for years. I love the way it works and cleans and it is such a smart value compared to other products. So, I was happy to try a free bottle of the New Purex Plus Clorox2 Stain Fighting Enzymes and give my honest opinions of it.

The nitty gritty of this new product--it combines Purex with Clorox 2 stain fighters. This formula is designed to remove the toughest stains--works on 100 stains (think tomato sauce, chocolate, ice cream, BBQ sauce, grass, blood). PLUS, it is safe for colors and contains no bleach. It comes in two fragrances: Original Fresh and Sunny Linen.

I decided to try it on my bedspread. It is a floral with a white background. I have two dogs who sleep on the bed. I know--what was I thinking, right? Anyway, the white was turning a shade of tan/gray and looking pretty dingy. I have used Clorox 2 on my whites in the past so I thought I would try the new Purex Plus Clorox2 to see if I could freshen it up. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take a before photo (too excited to try it out), but here are the after photos. It looks brand new! Even the colors, which had faded since I purchased, seemed brighter to me. Whether that was just because the white was now whiter, I am not sure, but I am happy!



One day, my pup was outside and decided to dig a hole. I didn't notice till I had unhooked her and was on the way in that she had muddy paws. So, trying to hold her in a way that I didn't get mud, I grabbed the first towel I could find. Yeah, a white one. What was I thinking, you might ask. Um, maybe I'd rather have mud on the towel than the carpet? I figured that was the end of the white towel. Take a look at it. Mud. Grass. The works.


 But then I remembered the Purex Plus Clorox2 and thought I would give it a try. I did rub a bit on as a pre-treatment and tossed it in the laundry. Look at it--it's amazing!


I love how I was able to brighten the whites and colors with just one product. And a product that removes the worst stains. Clorox clean that is safe for colors--perfecto!I also love the fresh, clean scent that Purex always has, too.

Now for the super fun part--I get to share the love. Purex is giving one lucky reader will get coupons to try Purex plus Clorox2 for themselves. Just enter below!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

You Won't Believe What My Dogs Can Do for These Treats! #BeyondSnacks @BeyondPetFood #GotItFree #dogs

As a member of BzzAgent, I received the new Purina Beyond Dog Treats to try for free, as well as coupon for the dog food and a coupon for treats.. When I opened the All Natural White Meat Chicken Cutlets I was shocked--it looked and smelled like a dehydrated piece of chicken. Seriously, if it wasn't so tough, I might have tried it. Then I read the ingredients and was impressed even more. I had heard of all of the ingredients.  Chicken, glycerin, and salt. NO CORN, WHEAT OR SOY, NO POULTRY BY-PRODUCT MEAL, NO ADDED ARTIFICIAL COLORS, FLAVORS OR PRESERVATIVES. In other words, NO CRAP! Wow--good, clean eating for dogs!

Another one I was sent was the All Natural Biscuits Salmon and Oats Recipe. This is more like your traditional dog biscuit. It is waffle shaped (and easy to break if you have smaller dogs). When I opened the bag, it did smell a bit like salmon. Once again, basic ingredients with fish being the first: Salmon, barley, oat meal, chicken meal, dried potatoes, pea starch, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, sea salt, natural hickory smoke flavor. None of the bad stuff.

Of course, the true test comes down to the dogs. Would they even notice a difference? The answer is a definitive YES! I can tell by how excited they get when they hear me get the bag. And they will do just about anything to get one of these treats. Check out the girls playing a song on the piano that they composed by themselves. They were motivated by these treats--even the stubborn one.

I have also been feeding them the Beyond Dog Food. We have been 4 or 5 of the formulas and they seem to like them all equally. And once again, all good stuff and none of the really bad stuff. Real meat, poultry, fish and natural ingredients plus essential nutrients. No added artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. No poultry by-product meal. And sourced from trusted suppliers. I have already noticed a difference in their waste. Even unprompted, my husband commented tonight he noticed a difference in their waste, too.

Beyond is a bit more costly than what I was feeding them, but with ingredients like these, I can't help but to think I am adding to a long, happy life for these dogs. After all, isn't your dog worth it? Also, right now, Red Plum has coupons and Kroger has digital coupons for great savings.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Hiking Greeter Falls Savage Gulf State Natural Area, TN #Hiking

This past week, I spent a lot of time hiking in the Cumberland Plateau. A nice, fairly easy hike we took was to Greeter Falls. Greeter Falls is located in the Savage Gulf State Natural Area. The Greeter Falls Loop Trail is a short 1.6 mile loop. It gets a fair amount of traffic. The trail ranges from smooth, to heavy with roots or rocks. The trail can be very wet (or icy) after rain/snow. There are also steps and a spiral staircase and steep climbs.

It is a nice trail to do with children who have some hiking experience as it is short and offers a few waterfalls along the way. However, the trail is narrow in places with steep drop offs, so keep a close eye on your children (as you should always when hiking) and make sure they stay on the trail. Dogs can use this trail but must be leashed. There is a nice picnic area off the parking lot with tables and grills. Note--there are no restrooms.

I recommend hiking boots due to the rocks and roots on this trail. Also, after a rain, the trail is very wet in spots and waterproof shoes are required if you want to keep your feet dry.

I hiked this trail after a heavy rain, so the waterfalls were really flowing. From what I have seen online, they aren't always so strong in seasons outside of spring.

If you go left at the loop, you first will come up Boardtree Falls. Like I said, there had been a lot of rain the night before, so the falls were beautiful. There were actually two drops in this falls, plus a small falls coming off the rocks at the right. You could view this from above, or hike down boulders and rocks to get a better view from below.

The below photo gives you some perspective of how far down you hike to get below the falls.

The photo below gives you a better idea what the trail looks like.

To get to Lower Greeter Falls, you must take the spiral staircase. My dogs refused so my husband and I had to take turns going down. The kids loved it, though!

The falls at Lower Greeter Falls were heavy due to the recent rain and the waters below were fierce. I understand at other times, it is much calmer and people swim below the falls. The water color was also dark due to the churning of the water.

Upper Greeter Falls was easier to view, however, to get the closest, you did have to scale down a rooty, rocky path.

I would actually like to visit this area again when there hasn't been quite this much rain.

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