Monthly Archives: May 2013

Less is More for Bachelors, More is More for Mommas

My son comes home from college almost every day with a new revelation. I remember those days. You’re filled with the newness of it all and have to constantly discern what’s pure malarky and what’s useful. It makes for interesting dinner conversations.

My son showed me the video below.  Click on the pic to bring you to youtube.com.

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Hill’s main point was that Americans have three times more living space as 50 years ago. We also have a new  $2.2 billion industry in storage units. Once we fill up our houses, we start filling up storage units.  He says having more leads to:

1. Credit card debt

2. Huge carbon footprint

3.  Happiness levels flat line

His conclusion: Less is best.

As I looked at my overfull house, I had to agree.  In fact, as a mother of six kids, I know if I don’t constantly purge,  the house would explode at the seams.  Nobody can find a pen or a matching pair of socks, but there’s stuff everywhere. In every room.  In every closet. In every drawer.  Under every bed. UGH! He ramped up my ambition to clean, purge and organize in June.

In fact, he made me feel a little jealous. 

  • He doesn’t know what it’s like to open the pantry and have a newly opened box of cereal that was balanced on top of a newly opened bag of pasta fall on his head before he’s had his morning coffee.
  • He doesn’t know that little motion of shoving all the towels in the closet quickly to close the door before they fall.
  • He doesn’t have to throw at least five things off the couch when a friend drops by.

Then, he made me feel a little guilty, until I tried to find his bio. 

  • No mention of wife or kids.  I’m gunna’ assume he’s single, ‘cuz I don’t think he hid a wife and children in the closet of his 420 square foot apartment when he shot his video. The paraphernalia alone for a baby would fill up his space.  A woman with any amount of clothing and hobbies could fit it up at least one time over.  He didn’t mention a roommate, so he didn’t have to accommodate anyone but himself and one hobby – kite surfing.
  • With no yard, no gardening tools. I suspect I own more power tools than he does. Why does that make me feel a little smug?  He probably doesn’t have any old letters from friends, or a picture of him in the 7th grade. I’m 100% certain he doesn’t have any baby teeth or locks of baby hair in a hope chest, either.
  • So, other than kitchen items and toilet paper, Hill  basically only needs 7 pairs of socks, 7 pairs of undies, 7 shirts, 4 pairs of pants, any 4 pairs of shoes.  He’s done.  Each item in a man’s closet matches every other item in a man’s closet.  There are no rules for men’s clothing, just that you wear them.  He has a distinct advantage in living with less by being a male bachelor. 

As my son and I discussed this video and how we could realistically apply this to our family,  I had to cut off our conversation.  I had about 48 hours to make 35 centerpieces for the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, our annual writers conference, with no money budgeted. I wanted to honor our keynote speaker, Jane Kirkpatrick, a Christian historical fiction writer, with my decorations.  They had to be free.  Inspirational.  Reflective of her books’ themes.  Vintage.

I was ready for the challenge.

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Of course, on the rare occasion that I allow my kids to drink pop, I save the bottles, don’t you?  They’re so cool.

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I removed the label with every Mom’s favorite liquid super-hero, Goo Gone.

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To make the bottles look vintage, daughter Beka and I roughed them up while watching an old movie together.  On the deck.  In the sunshine.  A moment to cherish.  We were wincing with the annoying sound of the sandpaper on glass (think fingernails on chalkboard) but it was a great time of creating something out of nothing.

I  cut strips of woven fabric, unraveled the edges, then hot glued them around the middle.   I save buttons from everything, and have been known to buy a $.99 shirt at the thrift store just for the buttons.

The glue can be peeled off and the bottles put in the recycle bin if nobody else cares to use the vases again. The buttons can also be peeled off and reused.

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The Daughter’s Walk tells of  Helga and daughter Clara Estby, who walked from Spokane, WA to New York City trying to earn $10,000. The Kinship and Courage series tells the story of 11 amazing women who lose their husbands on the Oregon Trail, but continue alone. Vintage maps ripped into squares represented the movement of Kirkpatrick’s characters. Of course, I save old maps, don’t you? Homeschooling/crafty women tend to save weird things.  This paid off.

Inspirational quotes from the novels by Kirkpatrick were written with a calligraphy pen on tags cut out of brown grocery bags and tied with compostable twine.

My OCD is freaking out that the fabric slid to the bottom of the bottom.  It needs to be centered.  If you have OCD, too, either pretend it is centered, or quickly scroll down to the next picture.

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I have an old wooden crate of milk bottles.  We use them for drinking glasses when we have a party and for vases. No filling up the dumps with Styrofoam with me, no sirreee.

Vintage is the new green.

You’re probably wondering about the flowers.  Who in the world has enough silk flowers for 35 arrangements?  Well, apparently I do.  I hit this amazing sale when Michael’s was clearancing out their summer/ fall items for $2 a large, black trash bag.  I told my husband to close his eyes, smile, and work with me.  After 27 years of marriage, he understands. We filled the back end of his Jeep. But, for about $12,  I had toys for Bible camp prizes, the birthday basket at our church and Sunday school prizes, plus enough floral picks for two 18 gallon plastic containers.

All you bargain hunters are bemoaning the fact that nothing this good ever happens to you. All you men are SO glad you’re not married to me. Yep, so is my hubby. He adores me. In all my quirky ways.

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I continued the vintage theme on our book table, using old bottles, more brown paper and buttons to label the genres.  The small crates were $1 at Michael’s and held business cards and book markers from authors. (These little bottles would also work well to put name tags and/or a flower to mark a place setting for a meal.) Large, wooden crates were used to display books.

So, there ya’ go.  In my 2,200 square foot home, that includes a double car garage, where up to 11 people have lived at a time, (that’s 200 sq. ft. per person)  and I have been hoarding recyclables and craft materials for decades, I created decorations for a writers conference. I made something outta’ nothing.

I guess Hill and I have similar ambitions in life, after all.

1. No credit card use

2. No carbon footprint

3. No unhappiness

More stuff, more happiness.

When I begin that summer purge, I’ll probably avoid the craft room.

 

Turn a Quote into a Masterpiece

 

Hope you’re ready for a Cool Tool, ‘cuz it’s Wednesday, ya’ know.

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Last week I used the following quote on my Facebook Author page to try to steer traffic towards my blog.

Har du noen gang ønsket å lese eller skrive på et annet språk?

 

Readers were supposed to use Bing Translator to figure out what I was asking, but people who didn’t read my tutorial thought I was fluent in Norwegian.

Another day, I told all my avid fans on Facebook that I found a free monkey on the Internet and my husband let me keep it.  Those that didn’t read the PicMonkey tutorial post that Cool Tool Wednesday, actually thought I had a monkey.  Sheesh.  What’s a woman to do to get people to read her posts?

Or use the Cool Tools she blogs about?

I don’t wanna’ make you Gentle Readers do anything, but since I actually taught six humans to use the poddy, flush and wash, (or I keep telling myself they wash) I feel pretty influential these days.

 

Let me introduce you to my newest Cool Tool, Recite This.

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This is how easy they make their tool.

1.  Pick a Quote.

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2. Pick one of their 25 backgrounds.

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Change your mind because you can.    

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3.  Social Media it with their easy options.

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It’s Pinned…

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It’s Faced…

There’s several reasons why you should use this Cool Tool. (Do I sound like a mother?  Maybe that’s because I am.)

1. Keep your blog from being boring. When it’s only text, it’s like reading something written by Charlie Brown’s teacher.  “Wa, wa, wa wa, wa wa  wa wa wa.”

2.  Keep from accidentally using someone else’s picture or visual illegally.  I’ve tried to read the fine print on some of those sites claiming to be free, but they kinda’ make me nervous.

3.  Easily use social media to promote the awesome post you just wrote. 

4.  Be the person with the cool text images everybody Pins and Shares.

5.  Have an easier way to end a blog post when you can’t think of a conclusion.

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Women Vietnam Vets – Loved and Not Forgotten

 

When I think of Vietnam Vets, I picture gnarly men with ravaged bodies and wounded souls who wrongfully weren’t accepted back into our society as heroes like our beloved WWII vets. They fought an ugly battle overseas, but arrived home to find a new war on their hands. They were still the enemy, now to their own beloved country.

It’s one of those time periods in American history that still causes me personal outrage.

The vets attempted to get medical help, jobs and an education while battling personal demons and war protesters. The  war in America was as devastating as the one they had just fought.  The American government made them go and the American public didn’t want them back.

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In looking through old pics when the Vietnam Traveling Wall (blogged here)  I realized like most Americans, I was leaving out the American women who served, suffered and/or died in Vietnam. I took pictures of the flowers and of some of the tags, but never revisited these memories.

Until now.

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There are names of eight women chiseled into the black granite of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, also referred to as The Wall.

In all 265,000 women volunteered;  10,000 of those women served within combat.

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1LT Sharon Ann Lane, USA was a nurse who died when her hospital was hit by a Soviet rocket.

On his website, Gary Jacobson shares his personal experience of being injured during Vietnam War. “Sharon Ann Lane truly epitomized that unselfish healing I received. She tenderly administered to the slings and arrows of that most terrible beast called war. She gave of her very essence in this greatest act of love, meting out her healing to nourish and restore not only abundant physical wounds, but also by her goodness assuaging insidious mental afflictions that a treacherous war implants in the minds of “boys next door.”

A further biography is here. A blog post about Lane is here.

I didn’t have pictures from the memorial of the other seven, but they are listed below.  Click on each picture to read more about their lives and their contributions.

 

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The first women POW was a missionary doctor.

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Dr. Vietti was a Christian Missionary Alliance medical missionary who died doing what she wanted to do from the time she was a child growing up in Bogota, Columbia, the daughter of a traveling geologist.

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Dr. Vietti is shown during surgery.

 

(All images lead to informative websites.  I encourage you to grab some Kleenex and click on each icon.Take your time.)

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From a page called Many Women Served.   Follow various links to see the ways different women served.

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This memorial was dedicated November 11, 1993

Those that were in Vietnam speak more powerfully than I can. Read more by clicking the links below:

Again, all images below are hyperlinks to read more about the men and  women who served during the Vietnam War. Honor them by  keeping their stories alive.

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The women from Vietnam who returned ended up missing in action in America. They were not welcomed home, nor were they hailed as heroes.

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They rarely told anybody they served in Vietnam. Many didn’t know they were entitled to GI education benefits. Many gave birth to children with health issues.

They hid in the shadows of their own horrific memories and kept their pain to themselves , while never forgetting the permanent death stench in their nostrils, the terrified cries of the dying and the heaps of mutilated flesh.

America makes mistakes. But I believe we are different as a nation even in our failures. When our errors are admitted and discovered, we try to rectify the situation. We can’t undo the damage, but maybe in the future, we will be quicker to see our errors and quicker to relieve the suffering of those who suffered for us.

Our diligence and determination in honoring the women of Vietnam should match  the diligence and determination in which they served.

We must assure these women of Vietnam –

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Making your home sing Mondays

How to Git the Honey-Do List Dun

Warm weather  and weekends are for projects, or so women think.

Warm weather and weekends are for relaxing, or so men think.

Spring is getting closer and our Honey-Do Lists are getting longer. The longer the list gets, the higher chance you have for marital conflict. 

I asked my husband for his insight on the  Honey-Do List.  Oh boy, did I get insight.  I should have asked him when we got home from the honeymoon and saved myself years of frustration.  This is a direct quote. Hang onto your office chairs, ladies.

His admission also proved this post  could have been titled, "The Man Who Betrayed All Men.”

Apparently, the 1st time I ask him to do something, he views it as a "SUGGESTION."

Hubbster explained, "I don’t want to act at this point because I need to discern if it is a suggestion or is really critical. If I hear about it for about six years, then I know it’s important."

When he heard me typing 90mph, he started laughing.

"OH, NO! I just revealed my trade secrets!" Yes, you are busted, Mr. P.

The 2nd time he hears me ask, he knows it’s important, but by the third time,  he knows he’s treading on thin ice. By the 3rd time I’m treading on thin ice, too, because I’m getting too close to nagging.

AS A WOMAN, anything that comes out of my mouth is important, so I assume I should only have to ask once.

AS A MAN, he knows I change my mind, my plans and my priorities, so he wants time to discern my asks.

The Honey-Do List can cause friction in marriage. After all, there are things only a man can do. I realized that after trying to pound a 16 penny nail into solid oak. I pounded and pounded and pounded, and couldn’t get the nail to go in. I thought it would be an easy project. I was wrong.

I ended up pounding the oak floor  in frustration instead of the nail. Yep, I did. Yep, it made me feel better. Nope, the shelf in the closet never got hung. I just couldn’t do it. Later, my laughing hubby explained how to drill holes in the wood first. It proved a point to both of us. There were some things he needed to do for a variety of reasons.

During the years my hubby traveled  for work and I was at home with six small kids, many things got broken. Many of those broken things didn’t get fixed. The pile became a source of irritation for both of us. To me, it symbolized his failure. To him, it symbolized my nagging.

At my next garage sale, I made a huge sign that said Honey-Didn’t Do and marked the broken items a dollar.  They all sold to retired men looking for things to do and women who had mastered DIY. Hubby and I both got a laugh, the list was knocked down in size, and I never missed those broken items.

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1. MAKE A LIST

The marital conundrum.  If you don’t remind a husband, he doesn’t remember.  If you remind him only once, he won’t remember.  If you remind him more than three times, you’re a nag.

Let the list do the nagging.  I bought cool little whiteboard for his side of the closet. The wall was textured and the sign kept falling down. I bought more double stick foamy stuff and used a ton. Didn’t work. I was gunna’ pound a 16 penny nail through the whole thing, but that hadn’t work 20 years prior, so I figured it wouldn’t work now.

I brought the whiteboard to the thrift store. However, the few weeks the thing actually stayed on our wall, it worked. He liked the idea of not having to remember the list and having the ability to do them in his timing. Now I keep a simple paper list.

 

2. DIY

Learn a new skill.  Bing it.  YouTube it. I divide my list into  Honey-Do and the  Honey-I-Dun-Did-it-Myself. Relieve some of  the burden if you can.

3. HELP THE HONEY HELP YOU

I needed a coat rack hung in the downstairs hallway for bathrobes. 

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They were in the way on the closet doors.

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I bought the coat rack I wanted.  The tools he needed were added to the pile.  When he came home from work I showed him the task.  It was done within the week.  I praised and thanked him.

It worked so well, the next week he asked me if I needed anything else done, since he was running to Home Depot.  I asked him to buy a white towel bar for the bathroom.  A few hours later, he brought me down to the bathroom to show me the finished project. 

He was as a proud as a kid with a homemade clay ashtray. 

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I smiled and stammered and said, “Well, thank you, honey, but that isn’t a towel bar.”

He stared and stammered and stared some more. The gerbils were running their guts out to process the information.  Coat rack….towel bar….coat rack…towel bar…

OH. I used glue and screws and it will NEVER come down.”

We now use coat hooks for our towels.  In the PNW it isn’t the best option because towels don’t dry quickly.  But, he was able to git ‘er dun, so we’re making the thing he dun got dun make do.

Speaking of git ‘er dun, this blog is done.  A three day weekend is coming up and I have to write my current Honey-Do List out. 

Good thing I know three ways to git the list dun!

Guaranteed to Translate Every Language in One Simple Step

Today, you don’t have to buy anything.  You don’t have to charge your credit card in four simple payments.  You won’t have to act before midnight. If you’re like me, you can’t even stay awake until midnight.

Of course, I won’t include the world’s smallest juicer or a knife that will slice meat so thin your in-laws will never come back.  But, I have wished for that knife many times, haven’t you?

But, I can guarantee you’ll be reading many languages in about ten minutes, maybe five, depending on how fast you read.

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You just have to be able to cut and paste, and I don’t mean with craft materials.   Now, you older, wiser people, stop drooling on your keyboards.  I know the minute you read the word paste you were having flashbacks to your elementary classroom in the 40’s and 50’s where you would sneak an extra dab of that spearmint scented paste from the classroom bucket just so you could have a taste.  I know you did. 

Today’s Cool Tool is a simple free program, so easy those of us that type with age-spotted hands can figure it out. By the way, our hands may show our age, but I bet we still type faster than you young’uns.  We should have a keyboarding showdown some day between the generations.  That would be amazing.

Anyhoo, back to the tutorial.

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Click on the image above. I made that all by myself with my Snipping Tool, yes, I will bring it up until you learn to use it, and made it a hyperlink. 

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This is where you land.

I can already hear you protesting.  “Why do I need to learn this?” 

Have you ever had a new follower that didn’t write in English?  You go to their blog and you have NO IDEA what they’re saying or why they’re following you?  Now you can find out. 

If that’s not good enough reason, just pretend you’re a spy and you intercepted a top secret message.  If you don’t learn a foreign language within 10 seconds, all the chocolate in the world will disappear into thin air.

Now that we’re all enthusiastic about Cool Tool, let’s try it.

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Here is a blog post from a new follower. I only remember enough Spanish from my one year in college to find chicken and rice on a menu and ask for a bathroom.  Two very good skills to have, but not enough to read this post.

To cut you highlight the text in blue with your trusty mouse, then  CTRL + C or right click and choose COPY.  Doncha’ feel smart knowing two ways to do this?

If you need to translate an entire document or page, use CTRL + A = highlighting ALL the text.  Cool, huh? It beats scrolling down with your mouse and hanging on to all the text. You hit a potato chip crumb on your mouse pad and you have to start all over again.

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You PASTE your text  into the first box by using CTRL + V or right click and choose PASTE. If you look at the image above, PASTE is below CUT.  See how easy my tutorials are?

They used Control +  P for print, so chose Control  + V for paste.  I wasn’t asked to run the world, but doncha’ think Control +  G for GLUE would have been more logical?  I was an Elementary Ed Major, not a Computer Geek Major, what do I know?

Then click the orange TRANSLATE button and you are done.  Of course, not everything will be translated perfectly, but it will work well enough to save all the chocolate in the world.

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When you don’t even know the language, it automatically detects and translates.  You just CUT and PASTE.  See, now I can read Romanian, kinda’, sorta’.

It’s a Cool Tool you gotta’ use.

Dette var en test. Jeg ønsket å vite hvor mange lesere brukes Bing oversetter til å lese min konklusjon. Takk så mye for å lytte til meg. Du gjør meg føler så spesiell. Jeg bloggen til å ha et publikum fordi barn og ektemann ikke lytte. Du er en fantastisk, intelligent og talentfull person. Legg igjen din kommentar i dag på språket du ønsker. Takk igjen for å bruke min kul verktøy.

Literally. You gotta’ use it.

Kids Who Serve are Winners not Whiners

 

A kid’s definition of summer is “the season  where I sleep in and don’t have any schoolwork.”

A mom’s definition of summer is “the season where the kids hang around the house whining because there’s nothing to do.”

The lack of structure quickly loses its thrill after a week or two, and moms begin hearing the fingernails-on-chalkboard whine, “Mom, I’m bored!”   This complaint ranked on my list of five “Things That Aren’t Music to a Mommy’s Ears.”

For years I battled  boredom by making my kids write a Summer List of exciting things they could do instead of complaining. They could put anything on their list -  foods to eat, activities to do, places to go or crafts to make.  (Click on the link to see the now-vintage lists.)

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My goal was to teach my children to replace the word “bored” with “busy” by becoming self-entertaining and creative.

Focus on the Family recently revealed their Adventures in Odyssey summer challenge for kids, but it challenged my heart as a parent.  Instead of focusing on WHAT, they want kids to think about  WHO. They’re defining summer as “the season where you spend time serving others for Jesus.”

Even though I’ve been parenting 26 years, I mentally did the “DUH” forehead slap.

Parents are rarely bored, because our hands and hearts are busy serving. We fill our days and nights helping others  be happy, healthy and encouraged.

If we honestly define boredom, it’s a form of  selfishness.  You can’t think of anything to satisfy or gratify yourself.  A quick cure is to turn your attention to others.  It isn’t  enough to teach our kids to entertain themselves, we need to teach them to see and meet needs in others.

The familiar friends from Adventures in Odyssey want to spend the summer with our kids challenging them to serve through a program called

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A – A

C – Call

T – To

S – Service

The theme is , “When you serve, everybody wins.”  Kids to show and grow in their faith in Christ by using their talents and skills to serve  their families,  communities, and the world.

1. Your child commits to record 12 hours of service on the Path to Service form. Pick up form at your local Family Christian Bookstore or download here. (Participating bookstores provide Adventures in Odyssey character stickers for each hour served.)

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Put it in a place you won’t lose it or forget where you put it.  I know, that can be challenging, especially if there’s a dog, small children, or  forgetful older mothers….now what was I saying?

2. Download and listen to this special Adventures in Odyssey episode “Lost & Found.” It will get your kids revved up to serve.

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It will also give you twenty minutes to sneak off by yourself and have your devotions, drink a cup of coffee and sneak chocolate from your secret Mommy Stash. (I know you have one!)   Remember to gargle before the AIO episode is over.  Kids always smell chocolate on your breath and then your stash won’t be a secret anymore.

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If you need a few more minutes alone, or your kids need  more explanation, watch Bob and Jesse explain the program on this podcast.

 

3. Visit the AIO website to print off a page of Weekly Service Ideas to spark ideas. Have your kid add their own ideas based on their skills and interests. Serving in areas of giftedness makes it a blessing, not a chore.

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Make room for the list on the fridge, after you throw away those expired coupons and the three week old grocery list that you forgot to take to the store. Use two magnets so it doesn’t slide down and under the fridge to live  with the dust bunnies and your missing spatula.

Oh, yea, now I remember what I was saying, you can put the Path to Service on the fridge, too.

4.  Join Connie (acted by Katie Leigh ) and Chris (Chris Leigh) at the May 22nd  Launch Party!  It’s through the computer, of course, so you’ll have to provide your own snacks and party hats while you watch the webcast.

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5. This is more than a challenge, it’s a contest. From June 1 – August 16, your kids can make a two minute video telling about their service and why they want to be one of the first Adventures in Odyssey Ambassadors.

Many participating stores are hosting special recording events, and kids who record their video in stores will receive an AIO prize. Complete rules and prizes listed here.

The cool news is that the top girl and guy winner will go on  an all-expense paid Good-Goers Adventure-Based Mission Trip with a parent to serve orphans and enjoy a day of rafting in an overseas location. The May 22nd webcast will also reveal the top-secret location, so tune in!

The 100 third place kids win a one-year subscription to the Odyssey Adventure Club.
The 24 second place kids win a subscription and  a phone call from an Adventures in Odyssey cast member.

Thinking of Adventures Ahead!

I was thrilled to talk to Jesse Florea at the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal May 17-18 this past weekend.  He’s the editor of the Focus on the Family Publications Clubhouse and Clubhouse Junior and one of the inspired leaders for the A.C.T.S. program.

He previously stated his heart’s plan for this program. "We want to remind kids that they have a part to play in God’s story, and serving is an easy way for everyone to take part in that, “The challenge is a fun way for kids to learn about serving, but the end goal is that kids will deepen their walk with Jesus Christ through serving Him.”

This is the real win in the challenge, not the awesome prizes. Many lives could be touched if our kids learn to say,  “How can I serve?” instead of,  “I’m bored!” 

This is an amazing challenge for our kids’ Summer Lists, doncha’ think? I’m game to bust summer boredom and turn whining in winning through service.

I’d love to hear if you will join our family in turning our summer into an adventure in service.

 

 

 

Making your home sing Mondays

Free Cool Tool Evaluates Head-Popping Headlines

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This writing is hard stuff.

I  spent so much time writing a headline for this blog about writing a headline, that I was running out of ambition to write the blog post on a great headline, because I was trying to write a great headline for the blog about a great headline.

Today I’m introducing a Cool Tool from Advanced Marketing Institute,  a HEADLINE ANALYZER.  You just pop over to their website and use it any time you want.

Remember my tools are not only cool, they’re free and easy to use?

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If you can type, you can use this tool. It evaluates the Emotional Marketing Value of your headlines, based on three impact groups, Intellectual, Empathetic and Spiritual.  You really want to click on that name and read their stuff.   They have software to evaluate how deeply your headline draws into reader’s emotions and they use big words like algorithm and harmonics.

In Mindy words, the deeper you go into their emotions with your headline, the more they’ll read and  the more they’ll come back.  Headlines with a high EMV gather and keep readers by inspiring them to action.

You have 20 words or less to accomplish this.

When I first started blogging, I  slapped titles on.  I worked for a county newspaper early in my writing life, so it was about facts. When I tried to be creative and funny, I realized that later on, I didn’t even know what a post was about by the headline.

A statistic from a professional blogger, that I can’t find now, of course, showed he spends more time writing his headline than his blog post.

I wasn’t convinced until I caught myself skimming through the reader of Blogs I Follow awhile back.  I  judged each blog by the headline, not the content.  I wouldn’t even read the first paragraph if I didn’t think the headline proved it would be worth my time. Hey, I’m busy, like the rest of you. 

Our headlines need to convince people to relax, grab a cup of coffee, and read what we have to say.

Let’s evaluate the EMV of the headlines from my  top three posts with this Cool Tool.

1.  “When Gramma Lost Her Marbles” had 1,556 hits in one day, almost 2,000 to date.

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Low headline score, high statistical ranking.  Why?  I was featured the  Alzheimer’s  Team Facebook Page, and it received 565 Likes and has been shared 158 times across the world to different Alzheimer’s and dementia support groups.

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I wonder how many MORE would have read my post if I’d had the word ALZHEIMER’S in the title?

2.  “I’ve Eaten Rattlesnake” was the post  WordPress featured in  Freshly Pressed.

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Apparently, the software doesn’t  like contractions.  It came up blank until I spelled it out.  What – is this site run by a librarian or an English teacher?  Sheesh.

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Definitely more emotions evoked when I let everyone know the rattlesnake was first a pet, not a predator.

3.  At the Ann Frank house in Amsterdam, I emotionally experienced the life and death  of “The World’s Most Famous Teenager.”

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Again, a lot of hits, but low evaluation for the headline.

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Different words will draw different people in for different reasons.  You need to tell as much of the story as you can in a few powerful words.

Back to my headline dilemma…I needed to write a great headline to prove I have the ability to score high with my EMV.

 

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Oops, got worse before I got better.

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Ranked lower again.  Can’t go downhill!
Also a grammar error.  Didja’ see that?
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The Cool Tool didn’t see I made another error. 
One last try.  I’m tired.

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(When I added the word “free”  to the above headline
the rank rose to 85.71%)

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Which headline do you like better?

“Cool Tool Evaluates Head-Popping Headlines”

or

“Free Cool Tool to Evaluate Emotional Marketing Value of Headlines”

It’s time you learned

“How to Write Head-Popping Headlines”

“Make Sure Your Headlines Will Pop Heads”

“Cool Tool Makes Headlines More Marketable”

“Free Cool Tool to Evaluate Emotional Marketing Value of Headlines.”

 

Why I Had Kids Not Dogs

When I moved to the Seattle area, my youngest of six was an adorable toddler with dandelion fluff hair.

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I expected the typical comments about her age, cuteness and overall awesomeness when I took her out in public. After all, she was the top student in the Gifted and Talented Pre-school Program in my Homeschool. I thought talent scouts would be stopping me left and right for modeling contracts.  I was in the big city, now, ya’ know.

Nothing.

Nada.

Zilch.

Never.

I realized  people weren’t as fond of children as they were in the Midwest. I realized people were very fond of dogs. 

But it wasn’t until I dog-sat for a neighbor that I saw how deep dog-love runs in the blood of my PNW neighbors. Otis is a nice dog, well-behaved and well-trained, but poor guy is past his bloom.  Slightly overweight in the middle, he waddles and has more gray hair than I do.  He’s a mutt without papers or pedigree, isn’t too big or too small, doesn’t have  long hair or short hair, has no distinct color or markings, he’s the perfect family dog. 

When I took my adorable toddler and the dog for a walk, dog- lovers stopped many times to pet Otis and talk to him in their doggy voice. One lady even let Otis lick her face. I was almost worried about her dog-napping, she was so enthralled with his gray-bearded face and rheumy eyes. When you aren’t dog-crazy, watching someone sweet-talk a dog is like watching an engaged couple when you aren’t in love. 

As I looked from my adorable white-haired child to this middle-aged dog, to me there was no contest who deserved attention.

It wasn’t the dog.

I felt I had to justify why in the world Seattle I had children, let alone six of them, so began this list in my self-defense.  I’m not opposed to dogs, I just decided if I was going to have anything else in my house with disgusting body fluids, it might as well be someone who could visit me in the nursing home.

 

Why I Had KIDS not DOGS

 

  • My kids  don’t lick friends or strangers.

  • My kids  don’t  introduce themselves to a stranger by smelling them, especially in embarrassing places. (One toddler accidentally punched someone somewhere embarrassing, but with no witnesses, was it really that embarrassing?)

  • My kids don’t pee on the neighbors’ car tires. (One peed in someone’s front lawn at a garage sale while I was busy hunting for treasures. I almost died of mortification, but lived to blog about it.)

  • My kids don’t poop in my yard, the neighbor’s yard, on the carpeting or anywhere else in the house. (I guess one pooped on my sidewalk once, but only once.)

  • My kids don’t bark during the night and wake the neighbors up. (My yelling at the kids during the daytime has been heard a few times, but I can assure you, my kids have never caused the neighbors to lose sleep. Well, at least when I was home.)
  • My kids haven’t thrown-up in the neighbors yard, then gone back to eat it the next day. (EEWWW!  I still am traumatized by this childhood spectacle by the neighbor’s dog, Goldie.  You wonder why I don’t have a dog?)

  • My kids don’t rub their bare bums on my carpet.

  • My kids don’t pee on my flowers or leave little round circles of dead grass in my lawn. (I think there were a few peeing incidents during poddy training, ya’ know, little boys naturally think a tree is a toilet. But, the trees are fine, thanks for asking.  That’s another thing PNW’ers love.)
  • My kids don’t lick my face after drinking out of the toilet. (They’ve all played in the toilet, and I’m pretty sure several drank out of the toilet, but they didn’t lick me afterwards.)

The list is a little graphic, but true.  And after I’ve convinced myself I’ve done the right thing in having children, not dogs, I remind myself of the great future I expect with my six, lovely children.

  • My kids will visit me in the nursing home.
  • My kids will bury me.
  • My kids will push my wheelchair.
  • My kids will give me more grandchildren.
  • My kids will sell my treasures at a garage sale when I’m dead.
  • My kids will change my diapers.
  • My kids will all get dogs of their own.

Not necessarily in that order.

And if any of my kids actually read what I expect from them, they may be writing their own blog post.

“Why I Traded in My Parents for Dogs.”

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When God Created Mothers

As a pre-teen, I loved Erma Bombeck.  I loved how she laughed through all the stupid things her kids did, because at that age, I was doing those stupid things.  With my  babysitting money, I bought my mom the entire series for Christmas.  They were housed in a wonderful cardboard home, and I knew it would be the perfect encouragement for my mom to live through raising her six precious children.

 

Years later, as a mother of my own six children, I clung to Erma’s words for a different reason. She taught me to laugh when I wanted to cry. She proved you could successfully parent without hurting any of your children.

And underneath her humor she admitted a truth most wouldn’t: parenting is the hardest job you’ll ever have.

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Erma Bombeck’s

Mother’s Day column,

May 12, 1974.

When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into his sixth day of“overtime” when an angel appeared and said, “You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”

And the Lord said, “Have you read the specs on this order?

  • She has to be completely washable, but not plastic;
  • Have 180 movable parts… all replaceable;
  • Run on black coffee and leftovers;
  • Have a lap that disappears when she stands up;
  • A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair;
  • And six pairs of hands.”

The angel shook her head slowly and said, “Six pairs of hands… no way.”

“It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” said the Lord. “It’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.”

“That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel.

The Lord nodded. “One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks,’What are you kids doing in there?’ when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say, ’I understand and I love you’ without so much as uttering a word.”

“Lord,” said the angel, touching His sleeve gently, “Go to bed. Tomorrow…”

“I can’t,” said the Lord, “I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick… can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger… and can get a nine-year-old to stand under a shower.”

The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. “It’s too soft,”she sighed.

“But she’s tough!” said the Lord excitedly. “You cannot imagine what this mother can do or endure.”

“Can it think?”

“Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise,” said the Creator.

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek. “There’s a leak,” she pronounced. “I told You You were trying to push too much into this model.”

“It’s not a leak,” said the Lord. “It’s a tear.”

“What’s it for?”

“It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride.”

“You are a genius,” said the angel.

The Lord looked somber. “I didn’t put it there,” He said.

Ten Things Procrastination is Telling You

It was easy for Thomas Jefferson to say, “Never put off ‘till tomorrow what you can do today" because he had a staff of accomplished servants.  He could invent, write and entertain while others washed and ironed his clothes, made his dinner, cleaned his house and tended his estate.

At least that’s the excuse I tell  myself when my To Do List screams at me to have something crossed off. Procrastination was supposed to go away when I left college and outgrew all-night study fests, but he has appeared in various forms for decades.

As a Type A person, I know there’s nothing better than the feeling of crossing the last item off my To Do List. If it weren’t for procrastination, I would be elated all the time.  He not only keeps me from my goals, he nags like a dripping faucet. He tells me there is always…

tomorrow…

          tomorrow…

                    tomorrow…

 

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Procrastination tells us what our brain hasn’t quite grasped and our friends and family don’t dare say, to our face, anyway.

 

WHAT  PROCRASTINATION TELLS US:

1.  You  don’t like what you’re doing.

There are things we HAVE to do. Make the job more pleasant.  I’m not fond of cleaning the toilet, so I put cleaning wipes, toilet bowl cleaner, paper towels and a toilet bowl brush in every bathroom.  Quick, easy, almost painless.

There are things we volunteered to do that we shouldn’t have.  That’s what nice people do, they say “yes” too often.  Say “no.”  Practice with me.  “No.”  See, that wasn’t hard. We budget our money, but squander our time and talents.  Guard all these treasures equally.

 

2.  You’re not skilled enough to do the task well.

Either carve out time to learn the skills, or ask for help.  I have found that volunteering to babysit for young moms gives me a variety of talent at my disposal.  Barter or get better.

3.  You’re crippled by fear. 

Fear of failure and fear of success have the same end result.

 What motivates you to accomplish goals?  Consider dangling your own carrot and/or finding someone to cheer you on.  Share your goals with someone who would appreciate them. 

4.  You didn’t manage your time successfully.

A project that demands more time will be put off until there is a time slot for the entire project.

Only a horse eats an apple all in one bite, or is that only in the cartoons?  A great help is to break a project into 15-30 minute increments.  Use a timer.

5.  You didn’t prioritize correctly.

We tend to prioritize according to what we like to do, what’s easiest to do or what is cheapest to do, instead of by project deadline. Write down your goals and projects as short tem and long term.  It makes it easier to decide what needs to be conquered next.

6.  You haven’t made enough time for creativity. 

When we get busy, it’s easy to push aside the things that delight and calm our heart. Sewing, crafting, woodworking, reading, writing, are readily shoved  aside to accomplish the necessary life demands. Creativity spurs up ambition.  It  makes you finish the icky have-to projects faster to do the fun want-to projects.

7.  You’re not caring for yourself properly. 

Being tired, dehydrated, malnourished and under exercised can make you not want to do anything at all.  I freely pass on this advice  as I sit at my desk looking at the sunshine through my dirty window, drinking coffee, skipping breakfast and having absolutely no plans to exercise in the near future. But to soothe my conscience I just drank a sip of water.  Put your needs first.

8.  You’re waiting for inspiration.

Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t.  We accomplish goals through  inspiration or determination.  When one isn’t working, summon up the other.

9.  You have people that need you constantly.

In our marriage we’ve had 6 kids, a lot of company and many people live with us. Your time is not your own when you serve others.  You can prioritize and organize, but a diaper blow-out, a nightmare or a spilled gallon of milk changes everything.

As we age, we may end up caring for our parents or a spouse because of age and/or infirmity. The tasks are combined with the grief of their condition.

People are priority.  This is your ministry and your calling for this season.  Live through this time in a way that you’ll have no regrets looking back.

10.  You’re sidetracked by human emotion or physical pain.

Suffering and grief can stop you in your tracks.  In this case, procrastination is the kind friend saying you need to heal.  It’s healthy to mark boundaries with your time and commitment.  Take time off and explain to others why you’re doing this. People will respect your boundaries, and may even step up to help.

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You have gifts, talents and goals to bless the world.

Listen to procrastination and decide if  and when you should rest,  refuse, reassign or accomplish.

Just don’t put it off until tomorrow. Do it today.