Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Simple Woman's Daybook 10/30

Outside my Window: Cloudy, windy, and chilly. YEP Fall has arrived in Chicago. High temps of only 45° today.

I am thinking: The East Coast where Hurricane Sandy hit yesterday. Praying for everyone as they await power and begin clean up.

I am THANKFUL: The health of my family. I had to take our 10yr old to ER on Saturday night because of his Asthma. He is fine now after a couple days of rest.

In the Kitchen: Tonight is “Breakfast for Dinner”. See the rest of our menu for the week: Menu for 10/28-11/3

I am wearing: My comfy PJ's and fuzzy slipper socks! Today just seemed like a PJ kind of day!

I am creating: I am working on getting things in order for the Holidays. Lesson Plans, Family Activities and more. I LOVE seeing Novmember come!

I am going: I have to go pick my dad up and drive him to his Tuesday night job. He works at a local newpaper as the Circulation Manager and he can't drive yet. The office is only 5 blocks from his house, so I just wait the 2hrs for him to be done.

I am wondering: When and if life is going to slow down for me. 2012 has been my BUSIET year ever! Too much running around and more and it isn't even for my kids.

I am reading: I am currently reading: The Wounded Heart by Adina Senft. Check out the rest of the books by my Reading Chair in the Right Sidebar.

I am hoping: To get caught up on things here within my household. Life has been busy and there are a few things I need to catch up on here at my house.

I am looking forward to: November and December. The Holiday season of both months and all the family time is a wonderful time of the year.

I am learning: Our regular Learning! We will soon start our focus on the holidays!

Around the house: Daily Chores and also working on declutter a file cabinet and paper clutter. I do the paper clutter while watching PrimeTime TV.

I am pondering: LOTS! I have had a couple of family situations in the last couple of months where family members(outside of this house) are trying to "Boss Me".

A Favorite Quote for Today:

One of my Favorite Things: YouVersion Bible App  2yrs ago when I upgraded to a SmartPhone I discovered this bible app. YouVersion isn't just a "Mobile Bible", it has many great features! Some of the features I love are the ability to take notes within the app, the ability to bookmark passages and more, the over 50 or so Bible Reading Plans. I just discovered this week that they also have an app in the Google Chrome store. I have now downloaded it to my PC and my laptop! The great feature is that it also syncs your account with the phone and PC. So if I have notes from my phone, they will show up when I sign in online! Nothing will ever replace my Print Bible, but YouVersion is a GREAT "on the go" bible!

A few plans for the rest of the Week: Wednesday the boys and I are heading down to my parents house to go trick or treating and have fun with my brother and parents. Thursday through Saturday are finally days where we have nothing on schedule. I am soo looking forward to being able to get things done in the apartment.

A picture to share:

My Homemade Gourmet Hot Cocoa 

To see into the Day of other Bloggers check out: 
Simple Woman's Daybook

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 10/29

I had a SUPER busy week last week and didn't get around to planning a menu, but we had a good freezer stock, so all was good! I am looking forward to this week as we don't have any appointments and except for Wednesday don't have to go anywhere. We were supposed to have a day filled with Drs. appointments today, but I have to cancel them because my oldest is sick and contagious, so no taking him with me.

I planned for Chicken Quarters for 2 days in a row because today was supposed to be super busy and it made it easier to cook one day and have leftovers. I also have some "repeats" on my menu from a couple weeks ago things came up and we didn't have those yet. I am going to be working on revising our menu choices and getting some new recipes implemented into our menu plan. I am LOVING the comfort food time of the year for now though!

 Here is our menu plan for the week: Weekly Menu 10/28-11/3

For more weekly Menu Plans and Recipes visit:

  Organizing Junkie 

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

First Wild Card Tours: River of Mercy by BJ Hoff

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***


 BJ Hoff’s bestselling historical novels continue to cross the boundaries of religion, language, and culture to capture a worldwide reading audience. Her books include Song of Erin and American Anthem and such popular series as The Riverhaven Years, The Mountain Song Legacy, and The Emerald Ballad. Hoff’s stories, although set in the past, are always relevant to the present. Whether her characters move about in small country towns or metropolitan areas, reside in Amish settlements or in coal company houses, she creates communities where people can form relationships, raise families, pursue their faith, and experience the mountains and valleys of life. BJ and her husband make their home in Ohio.

Visit the author's website.


In this third book in the Riverhaven Years trilogy young Gideon Kanagy faces a challenge and an unexpected romance. Meanwhile, Gideon’s sister, Rachel, and the "outsider" Jeremiah Gant add to the drama with their own dilemma and its repercussions for the entire Riverhaven community.

Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736924205
ISBN-13: 978-0736924207



Too Many Long Nights

I feel like one who treads alone
Some banquet hall, deserted.

Thomas Moore

Amish settlement near Riverhaven, Ohio

November 1856

Rachel Brenneman had always liked to walk by the river at twilight.

There had been a time during the People’s early years at Riverhaven when she gave no thought to walking alone, day or night. After she and Eli were married, the two of them liked to stroll along the bank of the Ohio in the evening, discussing their day, planning the workweek, dreaming of the future. After Eli’s death, however, Rachel no longer went out alone after dark, although sometimes she and her ten-year-old sister, Fannie, took a picnic lunch in the early afternoon and sat watching the fine big boats and smaller vessels that traveled the great Ohio to unknown places.

Now though, venturing away from the community no longer felt safe, even in the middle of the day. In truth, there was nowhere that felt safe, not after the deadly attack on Phoebe Esch and the other troubles recently visited upon the People. At night, especially, Rachel stayed inside, sitting alone in her bedroom with the window scarcely open in deference to the weather, which had recently turned cold.

November was a lonely month. Rachel still loved to listen to the river from insider her home, but the nighttime sounds—the distant lapping of the water, the blast from a boat’s horn, the night creatures in communion with one another—never failed to set off a stirring of remembrance and an ache in her heart. Yet she couldn’t resist sitting there night after night, watching and listening, trying not to let her memories struggle to the surface of her thoughts, trying not to let new hope ignite the ashes of her dreams…

Trying not to think of Jeremiah.

But how could she not think of him? How did a woman love a man, even if their love was forbidden, and not see his face in her mind or hear his voice in her ear or remember the imprint of his smile upon her thoughts?

Common sense seemed to tell her it should be easy to put the man out of her head. They couldn’t be alone with each other. They couldn’t even pass the time of day unless they were in the company of others. If they happened to meet by accident, they were expected to separate as quickly as possible.

Yet even with all the rules and restrictions that kept them apart, Jeremiah Gant was still a part of her life. He flowed through her heart and traced the current of her days as surely and completely as the Ohio flowed through the valley, winding its way through the land, coursing through the days and lives of Rachel and the other Plain people.

Lately, there had been talk of leaving. Two years and more of unrest and harassment and threats— even death—had begun to wear on the Riverhaven Amish. It was rumored that talks were taking place among the church leaders, discussions of whether to remain in this once-peaceful valley that had become home to the entire community or to consider moving on.

There was no thought of fighting back, of seeking out the unknown adversaries and taking a stand against them. Even if the People could identify their tormenters, they would not confront them. The Amish were a people of nonresistance. They would not fight, not even to protect their own lives. It wasn’t their way. To strike out at another individual under any circumstances was strictly against the Ordnung, the unwritten but strict code that guided how they were to live.

The only person Rachel had ever known to defy the rule against fighting, even in self-defense, was Eli, her deceased husband. He’d gone against the Amish way when he defended Rachel against those who ambushed them on another November night, now four years gone. He had fought with desperation and all his strength, only to die at the hands of their attackers while allowing Rachel to escape.

She knew it was a grievous sin to have such a thought, but many had been the time she wished she could have died alongside Eli that terrible night rather than live through the grief-hollowed, barren days that followed his death. She had been totally devoted to Eli. Their marriage had been good, for they had been close friends as well as husband and wife. Rachel had thought she could never love another man after losing Eli.

And then Jeremiah Gant had come to Riverhaven, turning her life around, enabling her to love again— only to have that love forbidden. Even though Jeremiah had made it known he would willingly convert to the Amish faith, Bishop Graber refused to grant permission, once again leaving Rachel with a lost love and a broken heart.

Perhaps it would be better if they were to leave Riverhaven…leave the fear and the dread and the pain-filled memories behind.

Leave Jeremiah…

The thought stabbed her heart. Could she really face never seeing him again? Never again hear him say her name in that soft and special way he had of making it as tender as a touch? Never again see the smile that was meant for her alone?

In truth, it wasn’t only Jeremiah she would miss if they were to leave this fertile Ohio valley. She loved the land, the gentle hills, the singing river. She had come here when she was still a child, come from another place that had never truly been home to her. Here in Riverhaven though, she had felt welcome and accepted. At peace. At home.

At least for a time. It was almost as if she had become a part of the land itself. Even the thought of leaving made her sad beyond telling.

She sighed, knowing she should stir and make ready for bed, even though she felt far too restless for sleep. Would this be another of too many nights when her thoughts tormented her, circling like birds of prey, evoking an uneasiness and anxiety that would give her no peace?

Finally she stood, securing the window to ward off the cold, even though she sensed that the chill snaking through her had little to do with the night air. All too familiar with this icy wind of loneliness, she knew there was no warmth that could ease its punishing sting.
My Thoughts and Review: I LOVE Amish and Historical Fiction, so how is it that this is the first book of BJ Hoff that I have read??? All I can say is WOW!! River of Mercy is the 3rd book in the Riverhaven Years Trilogy and now I am on the hunt for the first 2 books. EXCELLENT book! I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning reading because I just couldn't put the book down! River of Mercy is about allowing God to show you the path even through some of the hardest times of life. BJ Hoff is an EXCELLENT author who really knows how to tell a story to draw the reader in! I highly recommend this book to all who love Amish Fiction! I am very much looking forward to reading more books by BJ Hoff!

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 10/15

WOW, what a week we had last week. I was so extremely busy with family things that I didn't get a chance to get a menu plan done. We were good though and used things we had in the freezer and didn't “bust our budget” as we normally would in a No menu plan week. I am very glad that this week is a much slower week with only 1 Drs. Appointment, and the rest of the week is our normal routine. Here is our menu for this week with recipe links included: Weekly Menu Plan 10/14-10/20

For more weekly Menu Plans and Recipes visit:

  Organizing Junkie

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Friday, October 12, 2012

First Wild Card Tour: 21 Ways to Connect with your Kids by Kathi Lipp

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***


Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker, currently speaking each year to thousands of women throughout the United States. She is the author of The Husband Project and The Marriage Project and has had articles published in several magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Discipleship Journal. Kathi and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four teenagers and young adults.

Visit the author's website.


21 Ways to Connect with Your Kids offers a straightforward, workable plan to create new avenues of connection between parents and their kids. This handy guide coaches moms and dads to do one simple thing each day for three weeks to connect with their kids even in the midst of busy schedules.

Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736929673
ISBN-13: 978-0736929677


The Book I Almost
Didn’t Write

I argued with God for a long time before writing this book.

When I originally came up with the idea to write a book about connecting with your kids, I was on a “Mom High.” My husband, Roger, and I had been married for five years, and we had successfully blended a family. Two of his, two of mine, my cat, our dog.

Even the challenges I’d had with my stepson, Jeremy, after Roger and I got married were a mere memory. We had learned to care for each other, hang out together, and enjoy each other. And my relationship with my stepdaughter, Amanda, was growing, and we loved being together. All our kids would come over for Sunday night dinner and would often hang out during the week. While I knew we were far from perfect parents, I was excited that Roger and I both had close relationships with our kids.

But then all that went up in smoke.

My son, Justen, was going through a tough time in his life. He grew cold and distant from me. We were fighting and arguing and going through an awful, awful time.

And I needed to write a book about how to be close to your kids.

I cried out to God. I felt betrayed by him. I had poured all this love and energy, time and prayer into my son, and he was barely speaking to me. I felt like a failure. I felt like a fraud. And on the rare occasions that Justen and I had a conversation, I would curl up in a ball and cry as soon as we were done talking. I hated where our relationship was.

I talked with my husband about not writing the book. Not out of shame or embarrassment (and trust me, I felt both of those) but simply because I felt like the principles I had practiced didn’t work. My son was distant from me, and all the praying in the world was not helping. I asked friends to pray for Justen, pray for me, and pray for what this book was supposed to be about.

I’ve written much of this book during my desert time with Justen. I had nothing to hold on to but God’s Word, especially Philippians 4:6—“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

So I waited and I prayed. And I prayed some more.

And now, as I finish writing this book, God has used time and the healing that only he can bring to restore Justen to a good place. It’s taken a lot of time and a lot of prayer. But when I talked with Justen’s counselor, the one thing he said that I will never forget is this: “Justen felt safe enough with you to express his anger to you, because even with all of his anger, he never questioned your love for him.”

I’m afraid that each of my kids—and probably yours—are going to go through hard times. They are going to go through loss and disappointment and sadness, and they are not always going to behave as if all this “connecting stuff ” will make a difference. But let me tell you, it does.

Trust the process and trust your parenting. God has given you everything you need. You are not always going to feel like connecting. Do it anyway. Your kids need you to invest in them when they are young so that when they are older, they don’t ever have to question your love for them.


Why You’re a Better Parent than You Think You Are

I can tell you one thing about yourself right off the bat: You’re a better parent than you think you are. I know that’s a bold statement (especially since we’ve never met), but if you are anything like me and my friends, someone needed to tell you that.

I remember looking at the other moms at church, the dads out in the parks pushing their kids on the swings, and just knowing they all had it way more together than I ever would. Those thoughts started exactly one day after I became a parent.

It was time for us to check out of the hospital with Justen, who at one day and nine pounds and four ounces was just about the most terrifying thing I’d ever seen in my life. I was having a small (OK, enormous) panic attack. I couldn’t believe that the authorities, whoever they were, were going to let me take him home. Didn’t they realize I’d never handled a human baby before? What kind of broken system do we have that would let me (me!) take home this not-so-tiny baby boy?

And that’s when I knew I was sunk. In my mind, no one had ever had those thoughts before. All around me were happy couples who were dying to get their babies home and do what? I really had no idea. But I felt as though everyone else had been given a secret manual, and I had missed that day of orientation.

And the feeling persisted. All the other moms acted as if they had been parenting for decades. They had their parenting methods all picked out and were parenting on purpose.

I had a sneaking suspicion that they had their kids sleeping through the night after thirty days, were breastfeeding without tears, and woke up hours before their children so the house would be clean and activities laid out—activities that were not only creative but also educational. I felt like the world’s biggest loser of a parent.

But then something miraculous happened. I started talking to other parents. I mean really talking. And guess what I found out?

I found out they were just as unconfident, strung out, and secretly ashamed as I was. They too thought their kid was the only one to ever have a meltdown in the middle of Whole Foods. They too thought they had the only child on the planet who insisted on wearing his Spiderman underwear on the outside of his pants. They also thought that everyone else cooked homemade spinach muffins for their kids every morning and did alphabet-training drills starting at age two.

If you can relate to any of this, let me give you a few words of encouragement.

God gave the right parent to the right kid. There are days when this statement couldn’t feel further from the truth. You feel ill-equipped to meet your child’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Because, for the most part, you are. God wants you to rely on him and the people he’s surrounded you with. You are not designed to do this parenting thing alone, even if you are a single parent. There are no gold stars for parents who never ask for help.

God gave the right kid to the right parent. All those things that God needs to grow in you to draw you closer to him? He sent those in a neat little package called “your child.” Each of my kids has taught me something about myself—often things I would choose to ignore if given the opportunity. I would have never thought that I had a patience problem, for example, until I had a patience tester named Kimberly. But there is no chance to ignore such things when they need to be bathed, fed, and loved pretty regularly. I had to confront the parts of me that needed, desperately, to be more like Jesus—and often, I needed to confront my problems with a lack of patience before Kimber woke up from her twelve-minute nap.

Prayer is key. For years, when a kid issue reared its ugly head, I would go to my friends, I would go to my mom, and I would go to my wall of “how to raise a great kid” books to find the answer. I needed answers, and I needed them quick! But as my friend Erin MacPherson, author of The Christian Mama’s Guide to Having a Baby: Everything You Need to Know to Survive (and Love) Your Pregnancy, says when it comes to pregnancy as well as parenting, “Go to God before Google.”

God will direct your heart as you parent. From day one, what I really needed was to know the heart of God and to let that direct me as a parent. Yes, I’m a big believer in wise council, but I am a bigger believer in not using God only when things hit the crisis stage (or the principal’s office).

•   •   •   •   •

Now, if you have a couple of years under your parenting belt, would you do us all a favor and tell the other mothers around you what went wrong?

• Tell us how the helpful junior higher you now are raising once threw a toy and knocked out her older brother’s tooth.

• Tell us that you faked dizziness so they wouldn’t release you from the hospital and you could stay another night.

• Tell us that your one and only prayer for the first year of your daughter’s life was, Dear God, please don’t let me screw her up.

When I was in high school, I had a youth leader named Emily Nelson. Emily had it all together. She’d married a great husband and started having great kids. Emily was the kind of person that I would spend a lot of time comparing myself to. You know the kind. You think to yourself, I bet they’re the kind of parent that grows their own organic food while teaching their kids French, as opposed to my kid who learned how to read from frequent exposure to packages of Chicken-Dino-Nuggets.

So imagine my glee when I read this essay by Emily about being a not-so-perfect mom:

As we cruised down the coast, singing along to Veggie Tales, I tossed carrots to my 3 sons who quickly gobbled them up. We arrived at the beach with our fresh-from-the-library-checked-out book about seashells and started collecting. After making sandcastles and letting them bury me neck deep, I pulled out the ice cream maker and made homemade, organic ice cream. I snapped a funny picture of them. “This one is for the scrapbook!” I exclaimed, and they tackled me with a hug. This was a perfect day, but…it never happened.

My REAL beach day started with screaming them into the car to beat traffic, telling them to forage the van floor if they were hungry, and throwing beach toys onto the sand, while I collapsed in my beach chair devouring the latest People magazine. I didn’t even bring the camera.

Looking back I’m tortured with what I didn’t do with my kids: take them hiking, educate them in museums, have family devotions. And I moan about what I did do: harsh words, wishy-washy discipline, and over-involvement in non-family activities. I look at the creative moms, the outdoorsy moms, the homemade-everything moms, the spiritual moms and think they parented so much better than I. Yet one day, as I was recounting my lack of mothering skills to my 27-year-old, he encircled me in a hug, saying, “Mom, you did just fine!” That boy never has to buy me another gift, as he gave me the gift of peace that maybe, just maybe, I did okay.

Every parent has struggles. Every parent has those nights when they toss a loaf of bread and some peanut butter on the table and call it dinner. But every parent also has those moments—probably more often than not—when they are a rock, an encourager, and a God-given gift to their children.

Your parenting road is going to have its share of take-the-hubcaps-off potholes. And it may be a long time before you hear the words, “Mom/Dad, you did just fine!”

But remember 2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” God is sufficient for all your needs. Even your parenting needs.

You see? You really are a better parent than you think you are.

My Thoughts and Review:

 I really enjoyed this book and I think it is a book that can be enjoyed by all. I do think that in today's society, even in the Christian circles, too many parents are not "connecting" with their kids. Matter of fact, many families are more connected to technology or allowing their kids to "Run the streets", that the parent/child connection is lost. Kathi Lipp shows how to connect or reconnect with your kids and "invest" in the relationship you have with them! The early you are able to start, the better the connection will be. Although, this book can be used with kids of all ages, including teens and it can also be used in Single Parent homes.

 I know that I have gleaned a lot from this book. My boys are at an "age and stage" where I am having trouble connecting with them. I am going to be using this book and implementing some of the ideas. I really liked the list of 50 Ways to Connect with Boys! GREAT BOOK!!

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Friday, October 5, 2012

First Wild Card Tour: Manners That Matter for Moms: The Essential Book of Life Skills for Your Kids by Maralee McKee

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***


Maralee McKee is a sought-after expert in social interactions at work, at home, and in the community. She has taught thousands of children in her Manners Mentor classes, and her corporate clients include Hyatt, Chick-fil-A, State Farm, Campus Crusade, and AT&T. Maralee and her husband live in Florida with their two sons.

Visit the author's website.



Corporate trainer and mentor Maralee McKee turns her attention to the home and shares the simple, savvy, and sincere skills kids need in order to flourish in today’s culture. Tools for each stage of life make this the go-to book for moms with children of any age.

Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736944893
ISBN-13: 978-0736944892


Moms Like You and Me

Today our children are our shadow.

Tomorrow they will be our reflection.

Maralee McKee

I was nervous. I wanted this evening to be perfect for my husband, who was hosting a client-appreciation dinner for his company. He had worked hard planning every detail—especially choosing the guest speaker. After some negotiating, the man he hoped would accept his invitation agreed to present the keynote address.

This gentleman is a financial genius. He holds three degrees—one each from Harvard, Yale, and Oxford. He consults privately with kings and presidents about global economic issues. All of this at the ripe old age of 34. He and I are about the same age, but I feared that was all we were going to have in common. A genius I’m not.

Common Ground
My husband planned to go from table to table, chatting with guests through dinner. That meant our special guest and I would share a cozy table for two throughout the 90-minute dinner before he took the stage. Driving to dinner, I was still trying to think of conversation topics he might enjoy and I would have an inkling about.

My list was short.

My concerns about us not having much common ground to talk were quickly realized—he was intense.

Moments after sitting down, he asked, “Maralee, I like to know my audience a little before I speak. What would you say are some of the economic and libertarian concessions you believe your guests are willing to make in light of our current financial and political surrounding?”

Okeydokey! Believe it or not, that particular question had not made my short list of conversation topics. Hiding my panic, I quickly decided that in order to survive this meal, I was going to have to be the one asking the questions.

I answered brightly, “I’m sure my husband will have more accurate insight than I do. I’ll call him over in a minute.” Then I asked our guest where he was from. He shared that he was born in Chicago and still lived there. I had recently visited for the first time and been smitten with the city. We began to find common ground talking about Chicago’s famed Miracle Mile. A few minutes later I asked about his family. He beamed as he told me that he and his wife were expecting their first child the next month—a girl.

We talked about how children change everything. But then he added, “But only for a little while.”

His genius was obvious in what he said next. It has been one of the most impacting maxims on the way I parent.

Twenty-One Percent of My Life
He explained, “We spend a statistically small percentage of our lives in direct contact with our children. Let’s say I live to be eighty-five, and my daughter lives with my wife and me until she leaves for college at eighteen. In that case, we’re only under the same roof for twenty-one percent of my life. Seventy-nine percent of it will be without daily contact.”

My mind raced to make sense of it all. How can that be? Only 21 percent of my life will be spent sleeping under the same roof as each of my children?

The cold reality of the number made my heart shiver—it still does.

Twenty-one percent is all the time we have with our children, and that’s if you start counting when they are newborns. If they’re five or fifteen already, a measure of that time is gone.

Is it enough time to teach them everything they need to know to thrive on their own when they’re grown? Yes it is, but they won’t learn it by accident. If we want our children to grow into adults who interact with kindness, respect, self-control, graciousness, and friendliness, we must teach them a lost art in today’s culture. It’s the art of being intentionally kind and patient in the words they say and the things they do every day, everywhere, with everybody. Quite simply, we much teach manners.

Moms like You and Me
Because you’re reading this page, I know you and I have some things in common. Moms like us deeply love our children and want to give them every skill they need to soar through life. We have high hopes for them—and not merely that they attend Ivy League schools, gain impressive-sounding job titles, win beauty pageants, or accumulate worldly wealth and fame.

Those are all fine things. But what matters more to you and me is that our children grow up to be kind, compassionate, friendly, warmhearted, caring, self-disciplined, self-controlled, self-reliant, fair, generous, empathetic, and even-tempered adults.

We wish them joy, so we want them to laugh daily and easily.

We want them to go with the flow but not to be easily swayed.

We want them to be optimistic but not to wear rose-colored glasses.

We want them to understand that personal conflict is inevitable but making enemies is optional.

We pray that they realize that apologizing for mistakes doesn’t mean you’re messed up. It means you have the strength of character to do the hard work of untangling messes.

We want our children to have a strong sense of right and wrong and the moral strength to live up to their convictions.

We want them to have goals and ambitions but not to let their goals become their gods.

We pray that they will always be secure in who they are so they don’t become bullies or easy targets for bullies.

We want them to please people but not to be people pleasers.

And because mamas enjoy hearing good things about their children, if we notice ours displaying these traits, we won’t mind a bit if people compliment them and tell us that our children are sweet and engaging and impressive. Christ within them makes all these things possible. Etiquette is the vehicle they’ll use to express their character in word and deed.

Etiquette Is Kindness and Love in Action
The apostle Paul’s famous passage about love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 lists nine attributes of love, and seven of them describe what love is not. That leaves only two positive descriptions of love: patience and kindness.

Etiquette is the language that expresses patience and kindness in our interactions with one another. It teaches us to make modest sacrifices of our time, our agenda, and our momentary wants so we can live out patience and kindness. Etiquette is not pretense or fussiness. It’s not an attempt make children perfect. Manners are the language of love, and we teach them to our children for their benefit and for God’s glory.

Scripture often calls us to kindness. As Paul says in Ephesians 4:32 (niv), “Be kind and compassionate to one another.” Etiquette shows you how to live this way.

Etiquette Doesn’t Replace Authenticity
I sincerely do not want to add stress to any mother’s or child’s life. When etiquette is forced or stressed, it’s only on the outside. Love, on the other hand, is not forced.

We don’t teach etiquette in order to mold children into something they are not. Some children are spontaneous, spirited, and quick to share their opinion. That’s fantastic! They will grow up to be quick-witted, fun, welcoming leaders. Some children are reserved, slow to join in, and quiet. That’s fantastic too! They will grow up to be thoughtful and always there for you—servant leaders of their generation. God gave our children their personalities. Etiquette gives them the skills to bring the best of their personalities to the forefront.

Etiquette Has Evolved
Gone are the days when manners were about debutante balls, seated dinners for 12 with the butler serving, hats and gloves, and making sure the children were seen but not heard.

The etiquette I share with you has evolved. It’s in tune with the realities and sensibilities of our modern, casual, techno-savvy, fast-paced culture. Grandma’s etiquette was perfect for her day. But if we use her etiquette exclusively, we’re going to appear stiff and stuffy and out of sync for the time and place Christ has placed us in.

I’ve kept grandma’s timeless principles of courtesy, respect, hospitality, and consideration and used those principles to chart the course of our contemporary everyday encounters.

Etiquette Isn’t Artificial
Some people say we shouldn’t teach etiquette lest we train people to be artificial. Not so. Rather than forcing people to be artificial, etiquette frees them to become the best version of themselves.

On the other hand, some people try to use etiquette to mold their children into perfect people. Perfection is Satan’s trap. God didn’t give us our children for our own glory but so that we could empower them to freely and gladly live for Christ and reflect His glory. Etiquette polishes us so that Christ’s reflection can be seen more easily in us.

The skills you’ll learn about in these pages aren’t to be lived out legalistically. They are written in sand, not stone. You can use these principles to build and honor relationships inside and outside your family. This is an important concept. After all, the reason we were put here in the first place was to be in relationship with God and other people.

Etiquette Isn’t Window Dressing
Motherhood gives us an opportunity to be the people we want our children to become. That’s why I wrote this book—to help you teach your children and be a role model for them so their good manners spring from their hearts and are not just for show.

For manners to be more than window dressing in our lives, they must be expressed in the words we say and the things we do—and not just when we find it convenient or are in an especially good mood. Our good manners become true when they are ingrained into us, just as we can learn a new language and use it until it is as natural as our native tongue.

In the pages of this book you’ll find the modern, essential skills you need to know and model to help your children soar through life free from social uneasiness so they can become well liked, well mannered, and well respected. None of it is hard to learn. All of it pays a lifetime of dividends.

Our Journey Together
I’m so glad we’re going on this journey together! I’ve prayed and worked hard on this book for the benefit of you and your family. My prayer has been that it will encourage, inspire, and mentor you.

People often ask me how I became the Manners Mentor. It’s a pretty amazing story. I can still barely believe I am where I am today.

When I was nine years old, I was in a situation no little girl should experience. At that time, I started praying for three specific things. Over the next 20 years, God answered my three prayers, slowly unfurling His plans and purposes for me in ways that even the most imaginative novelist could never conceive. I’ll briefly share my story with you (friends should know about friends!) so you’ll understand my passion for these skills and why I’m honored to bring you the message God has entrusted to me—that manners matter to Him.

In the teaching part of the book, I’ll start by showing you how to teach etiquette without stressing or ever having to nag. We moms already have a lot on our plates. We don’t need to pile more “must do’s” on them. My way of teaching is gentle, subtle, and lifestyle-oriented. You won’t find your children pushing back. But you will see children who are more patient, kinder, and more likely to consider how their words and feelings impact the people around them.

You’ll also find relevant, modern, indispensable tips on everything from table manners to texting. You’ll learn how to make positive first impressions, interact with ease, and give and receive gifts graciously. You’ll also learn about using Wonder Words, beginning and ending conversations on a high note, dining skills, table manners, and so much more. All of it is in sync with today’s sensibilities and from the heart.

Chapters 4 through 17 start with just-for-fun etiquette IQ tests. “Mom to Mom” tips start in chapter 5. These are special things that are on my heart to share with you. They’re adult-level skills that will help you shine or special tips for teaching a particular skill set and touching the heart of your child.

Chapters 4 through 17 also include has multiple sections titled “Growing in Graciousness (Next-Level Skills).” These next-level skills allow you to pick and choose what you want to add into the mix. You can introduce a particular skill whenever your children will benefit the most given their age and stage, natural bent (introvert or extrovert), personality, level of maturity, confidence, and degree of manual dexterity.

You might look at all these skills and say, “Wow, Maralee! That looks like a whole bunch. How can I teach all of that?” Let me assure you, you can! It’s my joy to show you how. The skills you’ll find here are the ones I’ve taught successfully in hundreds of my Manners Mentor classes. And of course, I use them at home with my own two sons, Marc and Corbett. These skills are classroom tested, and they work in the real world.

Just don’t rush the process. You will teach and model for months or even years before some skills become parts of your child’s life. That’s normal. We’re in it for the long haul, aren’t we?

Our Shadow and Reflection
I often think of the evening several years ago when I dined with the financial genius. Now that my two sons are nine and fifteen, his words resonate deeper than they did when he first showed me that children change everything “but only for a little while.” We have 21 percent of our lives or less to daily impact theirs—just 21 percent to pass along to them everything they need to know to soar through life on their own.

The number one predictor of our children’s future success and happiness is their ability to get along well with others, to be well-liked, and to be confident and at ease in their interactions. You’re holding in your hands the how-to’s of instilling these character traits in your children.

Today our children are our shadow. Tomorrow they’ll be our reflection. Let’s embark on this journey together.

My Thoughts and Review:

WOW!! Manners are very much missing in society today and this book is a very much needed book! I LOVED this book and will begin utilizing the information with my boys. Boys especially are missing manners in society today, but it is something that I have always stressed with my boys. I think LifeSkills and Manners are a wonderful asset for today's children!

 WONDERFUL book!! 5 out of 5 stars!

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 10/1

I am so grateful that this week is a slow week for us, we had our one and only appointment today. The rest of the week is regular weekly routine. I won't be able to go grocery shopping until Thursday, so I am using what we have on hand until then. I will be getting our Hot Cocoa Mix made this week as I do the first week in October every year. I make Regular for my family and I make Sugar Free, Fat Free for me. My boys really LOVE the taste of Homemade Hot Cocoa. Both versions taste like "store bought, name brand" and the cost for homemade is WAY cheaper! This weekend is going to be a Hot Cocoa weekend as the temps are only going to reach a high of 50°!

 Here is our menu for this week: Weekly Menu Plan 9/30-10/6

For more weekly Menu Plans and Recipes visit: 
  Organizing Junkie

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