Good Parenting Isn’t Easy

Good parenting isn't easy
Being a good parent isn’t easy. Honestly it’s not always fun either. No one said it would be. If they did they were lying to you. Parenting is tough. Especially when you have to stand your ground. 
Do you have a strong willed child? If you’re thinking…Hmm..I’m not sure. Then you don’t. You will know if you have a strong willed child. Trust me, you would know. 
This past week was my oldest daughter’s birthday. She wanted to celebrate with frozen yogurt after supper. Sounded like a great idea to me. We were all seated around the dinner table finishing up supper. I had made chicken casserole per the birthday girl’s request.
My two year old wasn’t touching it. He took one bite. I told him if he didn’t finish his supper he wouldn’t be getting frozen yogurt like everyone else. He is strong willed that two year old. Lucky for him he has a precious angelic little face to go along with that strong will.
He didn’t finish his dinner. No where close.
We were not going to sit around the table waiting on him to not eat. Everyone was done but him. There were even a few who had seconds! He clearly had plenty of time to eat his small portion. 
I had already laid out the law of the land. Don’t finish your supper – No Fro yo for you!
I had to stand my ground. 
It was a battle of the wills and Momma is gonna WIN! 
So…. I packed it up and took it with us. 
Here he is in all his glory. 
See…. sweet face.
He took one more bite but never finished his dinner. He didn’t get frozen yogurt that night.
I wanted him to eat yogurt with us. I would have loved to have seen his face while he piled on the toppings. (FYI- fruity pebbles tastes amazing on fro yo, you’re welcome)
More importantly I want him to learn that I mean what I say. 
You can’t waiver when it comes to parenting. Your children need you to be consistent. They need boundaries, rules and consequences.
My desire is that they will obey Momma, because one day they will need to obey God.
It starts when they are small.
As a parent you must walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
Sometimes it isn’t easy or fun.
But you know what? Next time we are planning on going to get frozen yogurt and I tell him he must eat all his dinner I’m sure he will cause he knows momma means business. Then I will get to praise him once he does. That will make it all worth it.

Just A Reminder

(These are my littles. They are my world. It’s such an honor to be their mother.)

Just A Reminder

Just a reminder…

When she has friends spend the night let them paint your nails and do your make-up
When she asks you to watch her perform her dance, watch intensively.
When she tells stories, listen.
Let her dress herself often, it will build her self esteem.
Take the time to listen to her, she has a lot to say. About everything.
When he tells a joke laugh sincerely.
Let him wear his dragon costume everywhere.
When he doesn’t understand take the time to explain it.
When he’s scared to go down the waterside, go with him.
When he asks you to play trains, stop and play.
When he wakes up at 5am consider it more snuggle time.
When he says momma all day long, soak it up.
Play peek a boo often.
Tickle wrestle at least three times a day.
Let them help in the kitchen, even if it’s a bigger mess, it’s worth it.
Read to them.
Play with them at the park.
Jump in the bounce house with them.
Put your phone down.
Set time limits for TV and electronics.
Take them on dates – one on one time.
Teach them to create things with their hands (sew, paint, woodwork).
Tell them stories of when you were a kid, they’ll love it.
Teach them how to clean, and be joyful during the chore.
Teach them what family means.
Pray with them.
Pray for them.
Tell them who they are in Christ.
Know scripture so you can teach them how and when it applies.
Grow a garden, I promise they will be happy to eat the vegetables.
Apologize to them when you make a mistake.
Love your spouse in front of them.
Teach them the value of hard work.
Show them grace.
Tell them how much you love them several times a day.
Hug and kiss them as much as possible.

Never stop trying to be a better parent for them. I heard once that parenting is like dancing with the music constantly changing. A new song requires a different dance. Rejoice in i! It goes by way too fast!

I’m currently reading Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp. You might enjoy it as well.

My Healthy Journey as a Junk Food Addict

My-Healthy-Journey-as-a-Junk-Food-Addict

I felt awful last night and all day today. Last night after I left my co-workers house I started feeling sick, like I was going to throw up.  I went to bed, waking up feeling the same way.  All day I have felt a weird feeling in my stomach and extremely tired.  I’m calling it a junk food hangover.  I know I said this last night, but it is amazing how bad you feel after eating something not healthy, when you have eaten healthy for so long.  It really makes you think what the bad foods do to your body.  Think about it – when you are used to eating junk and then one day you eat nothing but healthy foods, you feel great!  But, when you are used to eating healthy foods and one day switch to junk, you feel like poop! 

This is making me want to do some research on the effects junk food has on you.  I know I have done a lot of research on the effects healthy foods has on you, but never the opposite.  Post on that to come soon.  Anyway, I know my body needs healthy foods right now, but the uneasy feeling in my stomach makes me not want to eat anything.  Regardless, I headed to work with a bag full of health foods.

The morning started off with some yogurt. 

1. 1/2 cup Fat Free Stonyfield
2. French Vanilla Yogurt,
3. 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries
4. a splash of acai juice, and 1/2 cup of Kashi Go Lean Cereal for some crunch. 

Yummy!  For lunch, I had a turkey sandwhich on my Arnold Sandwhich thins.  I know cheese is not good for you (lots of calories and fat), but I believe it to be a good source of dairy and just have to have cheese on my sandwiches.  So, mine had 1 piece of low fat swiss cheese.  I also added some cucumber slices and spicy brown mustard.  With my sandwich, I had a cup of Curry Chicken and Rice soup.Because my stomach was feeling queasy, I skipped all of my afternoon snacks.  Probably not good, because my body probably needs the nutrition at this point.  And because of my food hangover and the cold and rainy weather, I also skipped my run this evening.  It was supposed to be 3.5 miles, but I really am just not feeling it, and came right home to get into my (husband’s) cozy pajamas – they are so warm!!For dinner, we are having a sauteed chicken with sweet potato “chips” and some broccoli.  It wasn’t the delicious meal I had hoped, but it was food, and healthy food.First, the sweet potatoes were supposed to be “chips.” But after accidently cooking them too long, they were too soft and I ended up just mashing them.  Even though they didn’t come out crispy like chips, the potatoes were still really good! I love anything sweet potato!

Second, the chicken was marinated in some combination of 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk, 1 tbsp honey, and some spices.  The marinade was not flavorful, so the chicken was kind of blah. 
The broccoli was the best part of the meal, seasoned with red wine vinegar, pepper, lemon pepper and onion powder.

Now I’m relaxing on the couch with Izzy while Francesco cleans up for dinner (love him for doing this every night!).  We’re watching Dancing with the Stars, which Izzy just happens to love.  We’re both wrapped in our snuggies on the couch on this cold, rainy night.  Probably just taking it easy the rest of the night and hopefully getting some sleep. I want to be rested so I can get back in my running routine tomorrow!  I got a new pair of running shoes today and just got the thing you put in your Nike + shoe, and I’m super excited to use it!

The Unconscious Meal

The-Unconscious-Meal

Ever go into the pantry, grab a box of Ritz Crackers, Cheeze-its, Campbell’s Soup, or Oreos and read the long paragraph of ingredients on the side panel? Most of our eyes traipse right over the ingredient list and go directly to the nutrition facts. We assume the presence of chemicals in our food is impossible because we believe the government exists to protect us. However, after reading about monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrogenated soybean oil, and BHT, go figure that these ingredients are in most of the brands we grew up to trust and love. The media does a great job distorting what the true definition of health is, so we were lead astray from that ingredient list, and instead swayed to focus on counting calories and making sure the number of grams of fat are under five. As consumers, we were distracted, for the sake of profits. It is not their fault, they are just so good at selling to us, and we keep mindlessly eating. We are too busy with schedules, meetings, and commuting, it is no wonder that most of us do not have time, let alone care, to read the list of ingredients on the “lunch size” Doritos bag. We have lost the value of the art of eating, and ritual of cooking food. The love and energy that goes into the preparation of a meal, and mindfully consuming it is not a common practice. For the average unconscious consumer, the only way to prevent a future doomed with a cabinet of medications and a hospital bed with their name on it is if there is a shift in consciousness. In terms of food, it can be described as one’s own willingness and intrigue to self-educate about the food they put in their mouth every day.

Most people may argue that food does not play a vital role in diseases that exist as we get older such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Maybe we think that at 34 years old, having high blood pressure is just due to stress in life, and although it may have something to do with diet, it is not as much of a concern to make any lifestyle or diet changes. But where did this belief come from? Instead of looking deeper, we are prescribed a medication to lower our blood pressure and cholesterol- a pill; the magic cure all for everything! Much like our inner voice is within, much like our peace starts within, the healing of our ailments starts within. The pill is outside of us, and works to mask symptoms and alleviate temporarily, not acknowledging the cause or assessing changes in lifestyle to bring the body back to balance. This is why being conscious is essential to higher ways of thinking, eating, and living. If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten.

With that said, if we are addicted to certain foods or certain ways of eating, we may start to raise our consciousness by questioning ourselves. There is a theory that says the idea of asking ourselves penetrating questions, by repeating it over and over, is a method to reach the core of conditioning behind our behaviors. For example, asking ourselves why we eat eggs and bacon for breakfast with black coffee. When you come up with an answer, you ask yourself “why?” again. Continue to ask yourself “why?”, until you identify a belief that drives your behavior. Then ask yourself if the belief is serving you or not. It could be “I eat this because I was taught that eggs and bacon for breakfast are what real men eat.” Everyone will have a different conditioned belief as to what drives their behavior, but the point of doing this exercise is to start to raise awareness into the behaviors we live out day to day, specifically for the sake of this article, our eating habits. By questioning our behavior, we start to identify our patterns, and if we aren’t happy with our life or our health, or how we feel, then the only way for it to change, is if WE change; if our thinking changes. Remember, the change starts within. The act of just questioning a behavior that is so mechanical is a HUGE step, because we are beginning to break down the pattern of the repeated behavior that we are targeting needs change. Consciousness can be defined as choosing wisely, whereas unconsciousness can be defined as not seeing there is more than one option.

“None of the emotional, spiritual, mental, chemical, biological, or physiological processes can function adequately, without the nutrients required to sustain them”

TV dinners, fast-food, processed frozen foods, and other nutrient devoid food don’t give our body the nutrients it needs to be able to carry out functions of our body. If we do not get enough nutrients, we suffer from digestive problems (constipation, IBS, acid reflux disease, crohn’s disease, gas, bloating, etc), we suffer mentally (mood swings, depression, anxiety). These are all symptoms of not only a lack of nutrition, but a lack of consciousness! Have you heard of the term mindless eating? This is an example of unconscious behavior that we engage in that has a tumultuous effect on our health. This is commonly practiced through watching TV and eating simultaneously. What if instead of mindless eating, we started to become mindful? We are unable to ensure we are chewing properly, and are probably missing the goodness of each bite- the flavor, texture, and aroma of food, when the mind is hypnotized by the television set. Shifting our consciousness means that we start to look at things differently, we question learned behavior that has become repetitive and mechanical, and we start to make decisions more in alignment with the health of our community and ourselves. If we are a reflection of the world we live in, it is no wonder that the change we wish to see outside of us starts with a change inside of us first. Bon Appetite!

Surviving My First Job Fair

Surviving-My-First-Job-Fair

The first job fair I ever went to was awful. It was embarrassing (someone literally looked down my shirt and told me to ‘keep that coming!’… creepy.), it was awkward, and at the end of the day, I was depressed because of my lack of networking prowess. But to be honest, I didn’t take it very seriously, and it was a school event which meant that 40 of my classmates were in attendance–it was far more tempting to talk to them than to schmooze with the unknowns.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a recruiting fair for work in Australia (because if you didn’t know, I’m moving there!), and decided to put aside my humility and be the shining star I knew I could be with potential employers. It may not have paid off as much as I’d wanted (I had high expectations), but I walked away feeling accomplished and like I took the reins. And honestly, that’s all I can ask.The thing about job fairs, especially recruiting fairs, is that you’re not just a resume in a pile. You’ve got a chance to make an interview-worthy impression without having to get the call-back first. Even better, your interest in the company and your attitude can make up for any holes in your resume that might cause you to be overlooked had you just applied online. So in light of my most recent experience, here are my top 3 career fair tips for success for the next time you find yourself feeling uncomfortable, afraid, or just generally clueless when it comes to booth-hopping 101.

Bring an up-to-date-resume-
 I’m not just talking about your standard, plain-text resume. Remember that there may be hundreds of other very personable candidates in attendance. Find something that can be your distinguishing factor with your resume (for me, it’s accent colours of red for titles and section separators), something that’s not too over-the-top or overdone. That way, when the recruiter asks for your CV, it’s memorable and they’ll look at it later and think “ah, I remember this red CV! That was Erica Wodzak, she was a very friendly and intelligent lady”. A+ for standing out.

Go alone- when you attend career fairs with people you know, it’s too easy to stick together and fall into the crowd. I’m not fully comfortable myself being ‘professional Erica’ in front of my friends, so I keep the two personae separate for now. I find it easier to talk to new people when I’m alone, so if you must go with a friend, agree to rendezvous after 30 minutes of mingling. This gives you an opportunity to share knowledge with each other, but to keep out of each others’ peripherals while you’re networking.

Speak up- be polite, but do your best to make your way to the front of the booth if it’s busy. Have your questions ready, or listen into other conversations and develop questions from what you hear. Make sure to smile and be friendly, and never open with “here is my resume”. My general tip is not to offer your CV, but wait for them to ask for it. This way it makes them want it, and all the more likely to look at it (and remember you) later. Do your best to be intelligent and inquisitive, and remember to thank them for their time when you leave.

It’s not always possible to prepare ahead of time for career fairs, as the company attendance list isn’t always available (which was the case for me last week). In this case, try to develop general questions that still sound prepared–mine was “I was wondering if you were looking to take on any recent graduates in the near future”. When in doubt, grab a brochure and develop a question from there. You’ve got absolutely nothing to lose, and for every new employer booth there is it’s another opportunity to try, try again. Most importantly, be yourself, because you’re kind of really amazing at it!

Best Way to Clean Ceiling Fan Blades

clean-ceiling-fans

Among all other home appliances, ceiling fans are most probably the easiest to clean. It needs cleaning every once in a while. Cleaning your fans at a regular interval keeps you away from health problems. The dirt and dust accumulated on the blades will spread all across the room leaving the floor and furniture unclean. Thankfully, it is not a robot science to clean up your ceiling fan and we have covered it all in this article.

Protect Your Floor from a Muddle
Before you even start, cover the surrounding furniture and floor area slightly more than the radius of the fan. This way you will save your other furniture from the unwanted dust coating.

Solution
You may have been doing the chore using plain dusters. Use a cleaner for an effective result. Either buy a mild solution for cleaning the blades or prepare a homemade cleaner. Add 2 tablespoon of white vinegar in 200 ml water, shake it and it is ready to use. Pour the solution in a sprayer and spray it well on the duster.

If the blades have accumulated sticky dirt, in that case, add baking soda which will clean the dirt from the fan blades.

Duster
Yu can get some handy microfiber dusters which are good to use. There are varieties of dusters you can buy, it can be in the form of gloves or sticks. Alternatively, you can use an old, torn, ragged piece of cloth. Using a pillow cover or a plastic bag can be a good idea. But if you are going to reuse the pillow cover you have to wash it. Our suggestion is you can use a used and old pillow cover, because the dirt may leave stains on it in some cases.

Vacuum Cleaner
For existing vacuum cleaner users, the job can be much easier. If it comes with a dusting attachment for cleaning the fan blades is good; you can also buy one as well. If you want to buy an attachment, go for something that covers the maximum surface and is flat. Vacuum cleaners save you the extra trouble from scattering the dust all over the room.

Ladder
If your vacuum cleaner or the dusting mop cannot reach the blade, you have to take help from a ladder. Place it safely, it should be sturdy to stand alone. We recommend that you ask someone to be present to hold the ladder for you. Now, balance and climb up. Reach the step when you are comfortable to do the business. You must avoid if you have joint problems or balance problems.

Cover Yourself
By now everything is in place and you have determined how you are going to clean up the ceiling fan. It is time for your own protection. Wear a cap or cover your head with a cotton scarf. Wear gloves in your hands, cover your mouth, nose. To protect your eyes you may wear clear spectacles.

Steps for Cleaning Fan Blades

  • Spread the ladder on the floor and climb up to reach the fan.
  • As you reach a comfortable position, hold the fan and gently wipe the blades with the wet duster or vacuum cleaner.
  • Be careful as you take it off the blade, you should not drop the dust below.
  • Carefully come down and take the wiper/mop outside the room for cleaning.
  • Wash your face, hands, and eyes to avoid contamination.

Replace the old ceiling fans, check this blog to find guide and information.

For more on cleaning, consider:

Bob Vila’s Blogs
Wikihow

Run Santa Run – Fun with

Run-Santa-Run

Earlier when I was thinking of where to get breakfast, I thought about how to get there as well. That kind of thought hasnt come up with me for awhile and perhaps it’s just my body asking for it to be my priority from time to time. Every morning me and oftentimes with the wife and kid would go the bakery or the local grocery. We do this as soon as all of us are awake. This morning I woke up a few ticks before 5:30 am and realizing the rest of the family members are still at least half an hour away from waking up, I decided to jog the 200 meters of distance from our house to where we buy the pastries for breakfast. Normally we would take a ride on the bike so it would only take about a minute to get there.

Making that decision earlier made me realize how I’ve so much strayed away from physical activities and how much my body needs it. The simple jog alone for a measly 200 meters did nothing but highlight how much I failed my own body and how weak I’ve become because of this. Upon getting back home after spending a few minutes of some needed run I felt my breathing cleared right away. I’ve forgotten how before I was able to sleep that I was having some trouble breathing. Last night, I kept sneezing for a good hour before I was able to take my rest. The morning jog earlier, no matter how insignificant it might seem, forced my respiratory system to get rid of some mucus that’s blocking my breathing. I have definitely felt the relief brought by that 200 meters jog.

Getting back to my computer for work after breakfast, I opened another tab and typed the phrase “run Santa run”. I have heard that on the coming months before Christmas, there would be running events named after Santa. The results I found are about online games which are so much popular nowadays. It’s a fun game made of flash, I can’t help but to mess around it for a few minutes. It’s not surprising that games like these are not only popular on web browsers but it’s already gaining ground as a mobile app as well. The game was about Santa dodging many hazards so he could get back to his job delivering presents to kids which he somehow has forgotten and that is why he is on such a hurried pace on the game (Fun intended I know).

After playing with that game for a few minutes, I finally found the page where it says that there would indeed be a 5k/10k running event which will not be held for another month. I would just have to take note of that. For now, one thing is for sure, every morning I’ll jog starting tomorrow. I know I’m not alone at this scenario wherein as our careers progress it becomes harder for us to find time for ourselves. After reading this, I hope you; my reader would find that patch of time for yourself as well because no matter how insignificant it might be, a 200 meter jog made a believer out of me.

Time to Hang

Once in a while every single parent needs it!

I’m a single mom and my days are packed. My weekdays go a bit like this:

Wake up at dawn to prepare a healthy breakfast and lunchboxes. An hour later, all is prepared, packed and ready for the day’s activities. I go to gently stir my five-year-old daughter, who sweetly smiles and snuggles a few moments more.

After the morning ritual of dressing, eating breakfast and brushing teeth we head off to preschool. Here we greet friends, admire climbing technique, trip over blocks, discuss details with teachers and make clay sculptures or drawings. Once we have said our goodbyes, I head towards the door, where I am usually stopped by another child who wishes to share the intimate details of their latest drawing or booboo or plushy. I clear the maze eventually and head off to work.

Time to HangI work at the barn in the mornings, which I love. It is a pleasure to be out in the fresh air surrounded by nature and my favorite horses. There is plenty to do around the farm and work never ends; it merely moves with the seasons.
My morning can include any number of tasks from training horses, teaching, moving heavy loads, gardening, feeding, caring, meeting vets or whatever the day requires.

Just after noon, I head back off to pick up my daughter from preschool. By the time I arrive to get her, she is usually hungry being a pretty active little one. Thanks to my morning ritual I have an arsenal of healthy snacks prepared! She is pleased and ready for action after the nutritious treats and

I work on a freelance basis from home, which involves hours in front of my computer.d off to the next adventure. Today it was active play and swimming which left her happy, hungry and exhausted! Mommy, carry me! While I don’t have to carry her far, she is getting heavier by the day, and the heavy lifting is a strain on my back.

Once we arrive home, she is off like a bullet to her toys, giving me some time to prepare dinner. With full tummies, we head off for bath time and bed time. A bedtime story or three is standard procedure followed by a discussion of things we are grateful for today and what we learned.

When she finally drifts off to sleep I have time to clean up, get the laundry done and get to my desk. Yup, once the lights are out my work begins anew. I spend nights doing freelance writing and editing. After my long day, the desk time is a killer for my back. Perhaps it is time for an inversion table[Inspirational Bodies]. The thought of being suspended by my ankles upside down and decompressing my spine sound like heaven at this stage… time to just hang so to speak.

When I wake in the morning, I will do it all again with a smile. What a precious opportunity we have, to sow the seeds for the future. I am so grateful and will continue to do my best joyfully.

Taking shape – but lots of mud and the odd bit of snow too!

It’s been a busy few weeks! We’ve seen the windows go in, the walls of the swim spa enclosure go up, 35 cubic metres of mushroom compost plus all the floorboards get delivered, an 800 metre trench get dug to lay the phone cable and, in between for light relief, a few trucks getting stuck in mud (if they’d just stick to the roadway or have decent tyres all would be well…sigh..).

We pulled one out with Ken’s twin cab, a neighbour hauled the truck delivering the floorboards all the way up to the house with his tractor (although it was dry and the road is good, the truck had bald tyres and couldn’t make it up the hill…). But the weirdest of all was watching Stephen Lebner from Little Dirt Works pulling a huge truck and trailer back onto the road with his single cab Ute. It looked a bit like an airport apron tug pulling a jumbo onto the runway.

10.8.13-Fixing-gateway-KS_0548-300x225Between the compost truck and Telstra’s contractor laying the phone line, the entrance to the driveway got pretty churned up and the drainage pipe which was already starting to go at the edges, gave up the ghost. No trucks could get in so Stephen and James Lebner spent the weekend replacing the pipe, widening the gateway and resurfacing the entrance way.

While Stephen and James worked on the entrance way, Jarydd got stuck into the ditch draining into the main dam to clear it out and make sure that water could drain into the dam without getting dammed up.

It looks like it worked (with some help from a fair bit of rain the past week and even some snow) and both dams are full to overflowing which makes us very happy. We’ll pump water up to the irrigation tanks before the end of the winter rains to make sure we have as much water as possible stored before the summer begins.

The swim spa enclosure is nearly ready for its roof now too. Swimming pools are unbelievably pricy here (everything is come to think of it…) so we thought this would be a great compromise – a combination jacuzzi / swimming pool about 3×6 metres.

17.8.13-Swimspa-Enclosure-5601-300x198Powerful jets at the end create a current you swim against. You get the strength of the jet just right for your swimming speed. Too weak and you’ll swim into the wall. Too strong and you’ll find yourself shot backwards. Wonder how fast it could propel you? Could be quite fun…

The swim spa is already in place (protected by a cover under the blue tarpaulin and wooden pallets) and the enclosure is being built around it. Should be lovely on a cold wintery day sitting and bubbling away in the pool, looking out at the wonderful views through the windows!

The Farm

When I think of farms I think of miles and miles of flat, boring corn fields. At least that was my impression growing up in the midwest. So I was slightly surprised when I visited Matt’s farm for the first time. The farm is run by Matt and his dad and has been in the family for some generations.

First of all, it’s a dairy farm

farm

that’s surrounded by mountains to the east

farm-1

and the ocean to the west.

farm-2

It is as pretty as it looks and you can never really tire of the views. That’s not saying that life on a farm is romantic, relaxing, or beachy. It’s probably quite the opposite. The list of chores is endless: cows to be moved (between paddocks), fences to be fixed, and cows to be milked (twice a day: first at 5 am and again around 3:30 pm)

farm-3

It is definitely hard work…..for Matt. But let’s be honest here. I have my own job and I don’t spend time on the farm doing these things. That’s Matt’s area. I’ll just provide the moral support and a good dinner after a long day and leave the dirty work to Matt.