Sunday, November 30, 2014

Day 29- Technology POWERED OFF

It is time to TURN IT OFF, I tell you.  Put it down and watch, listen, talk to your kids.  

Unfortunately I had to talk to my Hubby about this the other day.  It hurts to know that I am hurting him by blabbering on about his short comings, but it really needed to be said. When you truly LOVE someone, I feel like you tell them when they are coming up short and hopefully instead of being angry, they use that KNOWLEDGE to change their actions.  
(This is what I have learned to do with my criticisms)

Anyways, it became apparent that, since Hubby has been HOME more, with his Vacation days and eating dinner with us, that all through dinner he is on his phone.  He is not engaged with us at all, and when he is...he wants QUIET.  (sorry Honey)

I kind of feel like I am in some 1950s TV Sitcom when he is present, because our table is stone cold quiet and when he is not home, we have fun, we eat, we laugh, we talk and we connect.  This is always how my table was growing up.  We always ate together and unloaded our days, which Hubby is not used to- so I try to cut him some slack. 

Yes, the talking does get out of hand and more talking happens then eating- but with some help on FOCUS, I manage to put it right.  It is important and I am NEVER on my phone during this time- it is SACRED.

So, I had to bring it up. IT wasn't even dinner time that I was referencing- but my youngest adores her Dad, she wants to sit on or by him at all times when he is around.  She wanted to sit on his lap and READ to him.  While she was reading, he was disengaged- COMPLETELY.  I was responding to her because he was ignoring her.  It hurt me.  I don't even know if she noticed, but I did.

I think it is kind of powerful to go up against your spouse, I mean to basically "Call him out" about his behavior and it is even more powerful that the usual reaction that I get....I did not get this time around.  Stress is ugly.  I get it.  I know that my Hubby is a hard working guy, he works hard at his job, he works hard on our house and he tries. I totally get that.  I guess for me, it is showing him how Proud I am of him, showing him how much I appreciate all he does for US, but also trying to get him to STOP and enjoy LIFE too- because I just feel like he is missing it.  This life that we are building is sucking the life out of him and it hurts me to see it happening.  I know there is always something to be done in this old house, and I get it that he is trying to do this, that and the other thing...but I try so hard to get time with him and our family and just relieve him of the stress.  

Obviously, I am failing! 

So, we had  a talk. It was not intense, it was not an argument, it was a talk.  Shows how much we have grown.  He listened. I listened.  We were one and all was good

Guess what happened the day after this talk- he slowed down.  He smiled. He stopped yelling at the kids all the time and took a breath.  It is so important to remember that they are kids, something that I stress a lot between us both, so we don't forget!  He sat on the couch with my youngest on his lap and they talked, they watched Wall-E and it was calm, relaxed and they were both beaming!

Funny how we can lose sight of things so quick!  Now, it is time for me to tell the girls to power down their devices!

What ways do you turn off the electronics and come together as a family?  

Share on Twitter!  @KelleyAmstutz


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Day 28 of our 30 Day Mom Challenge...Let's learn a new word

Challenge Day 28:

Teach your child a new word.

Since my oldest is all about learning new words and reading and understanding sight words, we are going to work on vocabulary.  

Today has been full of teaching moments.  

We have been reading books and comprehending words that she did not even know existed and essentially becoming her own little book of knowledge. 

What better word to teach than Knowledge.  

Especially since I told her that she was full of knowledge and she said, "What?" 

  1. 1.
    facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.
    "a thirst for knowledge"
  2. 2.
    awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.
    "the program had been developed without his knowledge"
    "he slipped away without my knowledge"

First we talked about what she thought Knowledge was?  

Her answer was a fun one.  She said she wasn't sure but she liked it because it started with the Letter K.  (OH boy!)

We defined it by saying that knowledge is what she is learning from school.  That they are facts, not stories and that they let her know things by trigger words- which she understands because she often will interrupt when she hears a word that reminds her of something else.

My youngest tried and tried again to say Knowledge- but it is going to need some more work. 

It was really fun to teach them, to see their faces light up when they understood what it meant and my oldest even used it in a sentence, which was impressive!

Try to teach your kids a new word!  I think next time we are just going to grab the old Webster and pick at random!

Let me know how it went with your kids!

Tweet on my Twitter Account @KelleyAmstutz


Friday, November 28, 2014

27- Let's Get HEALTHY...for our kids

What do you do to encourage Healthy 

Challenge Day #27

Do one thing that is good for your health:  walk, 10 minutes; eat a piece of fruit; or get a good nights sleep.

Think about it, setting a good example for your kids in regards to health.  It is something that I have personally been trying to promote in my household since my kids birth.  

It is important. 

I work out, they see me put my fitness clothes on and push PLAY, they see me drink my Shakeo - and they see me run around the house, cleaning, going up and down the stairs, doing my sit ups and crunches.  They even help me, join me and we talk about it.

We eat OK.  I know that we could always do better, but we make sure to have at least 4 servings of fruit a day and we get our yogurt in, and veggies are a tough one, but we get 1 serving a day in these crazy, picky girls!

We honestly believe that "An Apple a day, keeps the Doctor away" and work hard to get some form of apple in our diets.

Today, we are going to eat an extra fruit- Apples and Oranges with lunch today and we are going to do 25 jumping jacks, jog in place for 2 minutes and get a good nights sleep.  We are recovering from the BIG Turkey Day, after all!

What are you plans?  How do you encourage good health in your house?  Are you children active

Please share!


Thursday, November 27, 2014

26- Encourage your Child Today (Happy Turkey Day!)

Children are likely to live up to
what you believe in them.
~Lady Bird Johnson

The old adage is so true, when we believe in our kids, when we push them to do better they will be better.  I think that it is important to let your kids dream, let them dream big and educate them to know that it takes hard work but anything is possible

So many times you hear about grown ups who are not expected to be anything more than what they are.  A friend was struggling with her decisions to educate herself, to invest in herself to have a career, not just a job and was met at home with so much indecisiveness and discretion.  She was expected to stay in the job she had been in for ten years, to retire from that job, even in our weakened economy and she had nothing to fall back on.  The job was stale, the position expired and the clock, essentially...ticking.  Her push had to come from herself and even then, she was met with discouragement.  It was painful to watch.  

The thing is, she pushed herself when her family wouldn't and what she is doing is nothing short of her calling.  She is great at it and in the end I think she will be glad she chose the path that she was led to and proud of her accomplishments, as will her family, who can not be held at fault, they were just "get by" achievers.  They didn't try to push themselves or educate themselves to be better.

I will not parent in this way. I was not raised in this way, either.  I want my kids to do whatever they want, to push themselves and never settle. (I also want them to marry rich, but even then, there is a poisonous apple that can appear!)

My oldest wants to be a Singer...well.. I should say she wants to be Taylor Swift or Ariana Grande.  She knows the songs by heart, she tried to do the dance and she LOVES being on her stage, performing for her family.  She sings all the time, morning, noon and night she is always making up some song in her tiny voice and expelling it from her little self!

Do I break her dreams?  

No.  If that is what she wants..guess what, she will have to work at it!  I will not stand in her way, I will push her when needed, encourage her, even at five, and enjoy her voice!

I think that I encourage regularly. I get excited and I mean genuinely excited and push when I am supposed to and help when they are struggling and still can not help themselves. I know that it is important in the grand scheme of L I F E.

Our Challenge for today is:

Encourage your Child Today.

From Google Search- Love this!

Do you think you can handle this one?  What is one thing you have encourage your child with today? 

I have helped...yes, even in this early hour..with my youngest and letting her Get Dressed by herself.  She tried to say she could not do it, which is her standby!  I told her she could, she just needed to believe she could and try.  She struggled and we sang..."Try...Try..again." (Thanks Nick Jr. Kai lan) It took some tough talk and some tears on her end but then guess  what happened?  


She got dressed all by herself and did a GREAT job!  I was so proud of her and she pushed herself, proving to herself that she CAN do it!

With my Oldest, it is all about reading right now.  Last night we worked no Amelia Bedeila and it has some larger, more difficult words than the sight words that Biscuit is using (our usually night time read by my Five year old) and she struggled.  We sounded some out together, others she did by herself and she did great!  By the end of the book she was sounding out by herself and figuring out the words with no help.  

She smiled and I could tell, felt good!

It is little steps, but they mean something down the road, I know they do! 

Don't forget to Encourage your Kids! ;)

Just another crazy night at Gray Gables!


Happy Thanksgiving from my Family to yours!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Day 25...of 30- Ask your Child's Opinion

Now and then it's good to pause
in our pursuit of happiness
and just be happy.
~Guillermo Apollinaire~

Have you ever tried on an outfit, looked in the mirror and your kiddo walks in.  You are doing the "do I look OK dance in the mirror" and you ask your kid, who is just standing there looking for some attention, "Do I look OK?"  Asking your kids their opinion show that their words matter

It is important to get on their level, even if it is NOT about what you are wearing. 

Ask your Child's Opinion

It is a part of growing up, feeling equal and knowing that what you have to say matters that will help your child develop, it will help them feel confident and also it will help them share.  I am dreading the teenage years, with two girls in this house.  I mean, it will be closed doors and loud music and I will be fighting for them to let me in.

What do I do about it?  I ask my kids questions, I ask what they think about things and I talk to them.  I try to reach them in any way I can, to build that up now, while they are young, so that we can keep that line of communication opened for the future.

I have some  great questions that I ask my kids regularly.  They are kind of conversation starters for us and are so fun to see how their answers change...daily!

I am asking my five year old:

What is your Greatest Gift?
Her answer: Her stage and Karaoke machine that she got from Santa last Christmas. 

What makes you happy?
You.  You are the best mom ever. 

What do you want to learn about this week?
Christmas Trees.  and Cars...

What kind of day are you having?
A Good day.

What is the one thing that you couldn't live without?
My Little Blankie that I sleep with.

Who is your Best Friend?

What is your Favorite Color? wait..Blue... Purple and Blue

Who is your favorite Disney Character?
Elsa...nah uh... Maleficent (Yes. We just saw this movie! LOL)

What is your favorite animal?
Zebra (I am surprised by this answer!)

What is your favorite food?
Chocolate Ice Cream.

Would You Rather questions for kids - great for long car trips!Please note that we play I Spy, 20 questions and Would you Rather...regularly!

I have a Would you Rather sheet that we use to get the girls talking!

Click above for the Google docs sheet for printing!

Have fun today and talk with your kids!  Ask them what they think about at least two things today and really value their opinion!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Day 24 of our 30 day Mom Challenge....

Do NOT interrupt your child when he/she is talking

What do we teach our children about interrupting?  We teach them that it is rude and not having good manner, right?  

In my household, we stick by a:

"do (unto) to others as you would want done to yourself", 

and for the most part, it is working.  We have stressed that if you want us to listen to yourself must listen to us.  If you wish to talk and be heard, then you must do the same and when you don't we stress this factor.  Our kids are pretty good.  We do have a bit of interruption issue, but it is forgetfulness at times.  We always fall back in to this talk.

Awesome book!
We have been having some issues with our youngest and her volume. This kid is LOUD.  I am not even joking, her normal talking is like yelling to normal people.  And, that means that when she is super loud.  Her talk was about yelling at me.  "Do you want Mommy to yell at you?"  this is where i get the "pout" and a quiet (for once) "No."  It is all about getting them to understand that they control their actions and when they can't, maybe we can't control ours when they want our attention.  

Listening has always been...and still issue around here.  My oldest is super stubborn (as is my youngest, we are learning) and if she doesn't want to do something...well...she isn't going to.  So, if she is walking on my 30" bar stools that swivel might I add...and we tell her NO, if she still wants to...she is going to push that button and try to make one more pass.  Well...that comes with the consequence of a time out where she gets this whole conversation iterated to her once more... I am tired of saying it, I would think that these kids would be exhausted from hearing it.  Well, when she has something VERY important to tell me..guess what... I am all of a sudden not listening...Mom had checked out!  

It is the way it has to be.  It also helps them think about the way they want to be treated and treated by others. 

But, we have been doing great lately and when they talk...we listen. I love my kids stories, tales and adventures. Hearing about them lets me know that I am doing  something right!

Try not to interrupt today and just listen.  It is like music to the ears..a child's mind! ;)


Day 23- Replace Sarcasm with Kindness

A challenge catered to myself!  How many times a day Do I say..."You don't say..."  or "Really?"  to my kids.  Agh.  The worst part is that I get it honestly and it is a part of my DNA so much so, that I really don't even realize I am doing it.. And yes, I have bestowed this trait onto my oldest daughter. 

Replace Sarcasm with Kindness.

Yesterday we were MIA from the Blog..did you notice? (eek there it is again!)  Well, we were down and out with the sickness in our house..invading my children. They just got the Flu Mist this past weekend and seemed to be nothing short of KNOCKED DOWN with this crazy cold that packs one heck of a hard cough.  

On Sunday night, my oldest was coughing for a good two hours.  It was the most annoying, hard cough that made Hubby and I jump from bed with cough medicine, pillow props and of course, Vicks

Now, giving your kid Night-time Medicine at 4:00 a.m. and knowing they have to get up at 7:00 a.m. for school means...NO SCHOOL.  She will be groggy from the medicine still and if she feels good it will be a false reading because the medicine will literally be talking.  

So, it was done.  No School...

I should note that this was her FIRST missed day and she was NOT happy because she was not going to get her Homework. (really?)  I held my tongue on that one too- that is for my blogger audience to enjoy.

I did remain less sarcastic than usual...not really noticing a whole lot at all as I try to walk back through my day.  It was a weird, quiet, still day.  My girls were both home and just kind of took at easy....kind of.  We watched McKenna- American Girl Gymnastics Star or whatever.  We played dress up, read a WHOLE chapter book that we JUST started and had pizza for dinner that was really good. I know they were down and out...maybe that is what it takes for my sarcasm to take a break?  Obviously it was short lived- but I did go through my morning happy, cheerful and not one funny funny said!

Geez, this challenge is getting SO serious! LOL

Sorry I missed yesterday..guess I have my own make-up homework.  Back to back posts today. Aren't y'all lucky!

Oh snap...Sarcasm is BACK.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Day 22...this one is TOUGH

When Tomorrow Starts Without Me  by: Margi Harrell

When Tomorrow starts without me
and I'm not here to see,
If the sun should rise and find your eyes,
all filled with tears of me.
I wish so much you wouldn't cry
the way you did today,
while thinking of the many things
we didn't get to say.

I know how much you loved me,
as must as I love you,
and each time that you think of me,
I know you'll miss me too.
But when tomorrow starts without me
please try to understand,
That an Angel came and called my name and took my by the hand.

When tomorrow starts without me,
don't think  we're far apart,
for every time you think of me,
I'm right here, in your heart.

Our Challenge:

How do you want your child to remember you?  Be THAT Mom today.

I really must be honest, I hate this question. I mean, it is a known fear that I have that I will die early and miss my kids lives.  It is difficult to even think about what their memory of me would be?  I hope it would be a loving Mom, one who taught them well and listened and had an understanding heart.  I hope that they remember all the little things we bake cookies and read....three books before bed EACH night, or that I sneak in to their rooms in the middle of the night to check on them and kiss their sweet sleepy faces and whisper that I love them...every night. I hope that they know that they made me better.. I am a better person because of them and they make me so happy and proud. I could not be prouder.   They have been a light to my soul and I hope that in some way I have been able to shine back on their lives.

What are your thoughts?  What are you kids going to remember about you?  What can we do today to make these memories more vivid and bright? 

I am going to have a rowdy crowd, as my oldest stayed with her Grandparents last night, so we will be excited to be back home and a little wound up!  I think we do our tradition...bake cookies, read and listen to their own stories.  I think that the best person I can be is the one they want to go to...not the one they need.

Love you my girls!


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Day 21: Forgive yourself when you MESS up

HOPE keeps us GOING.

Have you even seen that list... You know the one I am talking about...The one that says something about the "Mistakes Parents Make" list.  Have you ever read such a list?  How about something you JUST MESSED UP?  

After reading said lists, I feel like I have messed up a lot.  

It is OK, isn't it?  I mean, we ALL make mistakes sometimes, don't we?  

A wise person always told me, growing up, that Mistakes are OK, as long as you LEARN from them.  I think that this statement has been one of a few that has always stuck with me.  The only problem is, parenting is not the place I want to make my mistakes.. But, there isn't a manual, so who knows what the outcome could be. (not that this makes it ANY better!)

I have made awful mistakes with discipline.  It has been about finding WHAT works with our kids and it is tough!  I know that discipline is necessary to set up boundaries and sticking to that set discipline is a requirement, but I also like to play fair and hear my kids out.  I like to know the WHY. Why did my kid make that decision?  What was driving her?  I understand that she makes mistakes too!  We all do!  But how do we move forward from that? 

As a Mom, when you make a mistake, how do you move on?  

I take a time out.  I mean, I make my kids do them..shouldn't I have the same punishment?  I talk to my kids and apologize for my actions.  I then let it go!  I tell myself that I will learn and not make this mistake again and I move on.  

Yes, it stinks but it happens. 

Here are 9 COMMON Mistakes that Parents make:
(adapted from

1) Don't worship your kids.  Children were made to be loved...not worshiped. 

2) Don't believe that your kid is PERFECT. Parents who don't want to hear anything negative about their kids, but if a behavior problem is going on and Parents are reluctant to hear, or defensive, they would hurt their child long term, as it can become a part of their identity.

3) Don't live through your children.  If we are overly involved and invested in our kids lives it gets hard to see where they end and we begin. This can cause our kids to be about us, NOT THEM. 

4) Don't try to be your kids BFF.  As a Parent, we have to do the hard things that we don't want to, but it is part of our Job in being the best Parent we can be to our kids growth.  If you are doing your job right, your kids are going to get mad at you, roll their eye and groan at you. 

5) Don't forget about what it is like to be a child.  Childhood is so fast, especially in today's time. Let them explore, discover and play. 

6) Don't raise the child  you want...and forget about the kid you have.  It is hard to look past this image you have in your head of HOW your child is supposed to be, act, say and do.  But, I guarantee that if you put on your blinders to that image you will see the pretty awesome kid you actually HAVE. Let them be themselves and sit back and enjoy it.

7) Don't forget that what you do means more than what you say.  I say that I don't eat chocolate, then, after they go to bed, that big bowl of Halloween candy starts to miss some of the great, chocolaty three musketeer bars.. Then I get caught.  "But Mom, I thought you didn't eat chocolate."  there it is...I am busted.  of course I EAT CHOCOLATE..who doesn't eat chocolate.  But I lied... this is where it gets hairy because I don't want my kids to lie but when they do, this reference comes back into play... "But Mom, you lied when you said you didn't eat chocolate."  EAT YOUR WORDS MOM!  
By the way, I live an open, honest life, so I have never told my kids this crazy chocolate reference.  
8) Don't Judge other Parents...or their children..  No matter how much we disagree with someones parenting style, it's not our place to judge. Nobody in this world is "all good" or "all bad"; we're all a mix of both, a community of sinners struggling with different demons.
Personally, I tend to cut other parents more slack when I'm going through hard spells. When my child is testing me, I'm compassionate to parents in the same boat. When my life is overwhelming, I'm forgiving of others who slip up and let things fall through the cracks.
We never know what someones going through or when we'll need mercy ourselves. And while we can't control judgmental thoughts, we can cut them short by seeking to understand the person instead of jumping to conclusions.

9) Don't underestimate CHARACTER. We cant force character on our kids. If we want to build character, confidence, strength  and resilience, we need to let them face adversity and experience the pride that follows when they come out stronger on the other side. 
As a parent, nothing is harder to watch than your child fall, but sometimes we just have to.  Sometimes we have to ask ourselves whether intervening is in their best interest.  In making our kids happy, sometimes it takes short-term pain to earn the long-term gain. 

At the end of the day, we all just have to remember that as a FAMILY, we are ALL learning.  We are all growing, emotionally or physically, and we are all trying to live a happy life. 

Mess up and Learn...


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