Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hat Trick Tips - Crafting Hat , Fashion, Ease, and Affordability!




A fun and easy stenciling technique that will help you wear your crafting hat with style and ease! Create original and fashionable gifts for the holidays and still be friendly to your budget!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hat Trick Tips - Crafting Hat



This is an easy and creative fall decorating craft idea. This craft was originally filmed an posted last year on my other blog Daily Goulash, but I thought my AZ Mom of Many Hats readers would enjoy it also. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hat Tricks Earth and Pocketbook Friendly Hats



Be kind to the earth as well as kind to your pocketbook! Re-purpose your excess jarred candle wax as well as other household items to get every penny's worth of scent as well being good to the environment!


Friday, September 11, 2009

Memories

I am going to dedicate this post to memories today.

It is a day that, if you lived anywhere in the US, you can probably recall with very vivid memory. I know I can. In fact, I am writing this, sitting in the same restaurant chain where I met a friend to pray with shortly after the attacks happened. I needed her support that day. I feared for my family in New York. I briefly panicked when I couldn’t remember if and where my husband was traveling that week. I remember my daughter coming home from school in tears because her school wouldn’t let me call her to see if her great grandmother in New York was OK. I so clearly remember thinking that life would never be anywhere near normal again. The feelings, the fear, the flow and the events of that day are burned in my memory and probably will be for as long as I have cognitive function……

This memory is extremely powerful. It has changed my perception of a lot of things. Although I have always respected those in public service, I have an even greater appreciation for the sacrifices that public servants make to protect their fellow man. I am much more aware of what is going on in the world, and make a conscious effort to understand those that are different than me. I pay more attention to my surroundings. I look for exit signs and escape routs when I am in public places. Overall, I realize the world is not always a safe place.

But, even though my perceptions have changed, that event and this memory does not define me. It does not change who I am or control me. As much as the horror of that day could have crippled me and the rest of this country, I took strength and shelter in my loved ones, my community, my places of worship, and my faith in this country. I did not let this event or this memory take over my life.

This memory is specific to September 11, 2001. I know that this was a day of unfathomable pain for so many. I can not even imagine what so many others went through, and I would never even think of trying to minimize or deny those people their pain.

But, any memory, whether it be of this day or another memory, does not have to define us. Our memories and experiences will undoubtedly change our perceptions and become a part of our personal stories. But, we do have the ability to use those memories to make a difference in ourselves, in our relationships, or in our communities.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Choices...The Struggle of Choosing the Better of Two Goods

Not all choices are hard.

The choice between clearly good and clearly bad is a pretty easy choice. I think the vast majority would not have to put much thought into this one. We see a clear line between the two choices. We have clear cut information that helps us decide the pros and cons of each. Usually the tally marks line up with the cons for the bad option and the pros for the good option. We choose the good.

The choice between two clearly bad options is also not that difficult either. Here we know that both options are not good. But in the end, we look at our list of tally marks and the one with the most negative results usually is the choice that loses. Even though we would rather not have to make a choice, the lesser of the two evils usually is the decision of choice.

But what about when you are faced in choosing the better of two goods?

This is where, at least I think, it gets hard.

Some times we are faced with choosing between two good decisions. Either choice will reap benefits. The benefits may be personal, professional, financial, or a combination of any of those things. No matter which we choose, we can't lose....at least we don't think we can. How do we make a choice?

I think the decision making process comes down to a few things.

First, a lot of soul searching needs to take place. We need to look within ourselves and see why both choices are appealing. Are they appealing because they are filling a void in ourselves? Or, are they appealing because it fills a void somewhere else or in someone else? Maybe the two fill different needs. Looking inward - although that sounds selfish on the surface, will help us to see what the appeal of the choices are. When we weigh it out, we need to follow the choice that the compass of our being is telling us to.

Next, we need to look at the long term benefits and effects of our decision. Sometimes, both choices are good in the short term, but not always in the long term. Sometimes it is appropriate to go with the option that does the greatest good for the longest amount of time. Sometimes the opposite is true.

Lastly, we need to not be afraid to commit to a choice. If we don't commit to it, it doesn't matter that the choice is good because we won't see the benefit anyway. Wasting time being wishy washy over the decision gets us no where in the long run. We need to choose boldly without regret, moving forward with the decision.

This process is not always a simple thing to do. People, emotions, situations and life make even two good choices a complex decision. Choosing between two goods can be a daunting experience. But, there is a blessing to having to choose between two goods. Even if we do make the wrong good decision we are still ahead in the game.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Goldie Locks and the Three Pairs...Plus a Tattoo

What sort of boundaries do you set for your kids? Are you the type of parent that sets no boundaries and lets them do whatever they want to? Or are you the type of parent that dictates and controls what your child will do? Are you somewhere in the middle?

I think I am somewhere in the middle.

Finding the right boundaries is tough. My goal has been to give my daughters the freedom to express themselves and figure out who they are, yet teach them what they need to know to be a productive member of society. My husband and I give them what we call freedom within boundaries. There are set guidelines until they are 18...and yes, we have had the "When you are 18 you can do whatever you want" discussion many times.

We give them some leeway on things like coloring their hair (at 15 they can as long as it stays in the realm of natural color.) No tattoos before 18, but they can pierce their ears and wear what ever earrings they want...as long as there is only 1 hole in each ear. They are free to find their own style of dress, in what ever genre or mix of genres they want as long as they realize that mom and dad have veto power if it is too revealing. Overall we let them try to figure out who they are and where they fit within their peer groups.

There are things that we have held firm on. We have always expected them to be compassionate to others. We have always expected the to learn from mistakes. We have always expected them to do the things that are of good character such as taking personal responsibility for their actions, to give their best effort, and to honor commitments they have made. Now of course as kids, these things don't always happen - it's hard enough to get this right 100% of the time as an adult let alone as a child. But when they don't get it right, we have let them take the the natural consequences that come along with it, and help them to figure out how to do it differently the next time.

We are not naive....we know that at 18 they still have some self discovery to explore and the boundaries, regardless of where we set them disappear. That is how they create their own identities separate from us. So when our oldest daughter began an onslaught of hair colors (cherry red and black, black with bright pink, platinum blond, and countless others) we knew she was still finding herself. When her ears went from one little diamond in each to 3 or 4, still self discovery. When the tattoo came.....

Bottom line, no matter what anyone thinks of her hair color, her piercing or her tattoo, she is a successful and productive person. She is responsible, honorable, committed, compassionate, dedicated, loving, and faithful. She has become what we hoped for her to be- independent, self motivated, and able to function in the world we live in.

As a parent, I know that the boundaries I set, or don't set, are because I love my kids. I want the best for my kids. I want to shelter them from the things I can shelter them, yet prepare them for the world that they will one day be living in on their own. My duty as a parent is to teach them right from wrong. It is also to teach them to make good decisions, have compassion for others, and to be independent. Regardless of what they are, the boundaries are there to help my children discover and become who they are meant to be.

By the way...her hair adorable. The earrings.... beautiful. The tattoo.... it is of her favorite Psalm - inspirational.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The most wonderful time of the year....


I
t's the most wonderful time of the year!

When school bells are ringing, and no more kids screaming, "she's standing to near!"....

There'll be school grades a posting... and teenagers boasting and to back to school nights parents go...

Parents yelling to "WAKE UP", kids screaming "I'll make up... that test in the next week or so!"

It's the most wonderful time of the year....





Don't you love the return to school?

I have great memories of September - the month I returned to school each year. My parents would take my two sisters and I to get our new Ticonderoga pencils, new Peechee folders, and of course the new style of Dittos jeans to don on the first day of school - for those of you who don't remember Dittos...they were the jeans with the big horseshoe shaped seam across the butt of the jeans. (Wow...I am really dating myself!)

Along with the new school supplies, there was a return to the normalcy of a routine. Summer vacation was filled with non-scheduled, wake up when you wanted, leisurely days. There was little responsibility and little motivation to get anything done. Days rolled into each other like a continuous weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed summer vacation, but after a while, the lack of structure led to a household of irritable kids. All the free time on my hands lead to lots of boredom - and lots of fighting with my sisters.

But, when September rolled around, that all changed. Just like most other kids, I probably griped and complained about having to get up early and having my afternoons taken up by homework. But, the structure of getting up at a set time, the scheduled days at school, and knowing the daily expectations were a relief. The constant arguing with my sisters decreased (much to my parent's delight) and was usually confined to who got to use the bathroom to get ready. The new school year brought not only an end to the boredom but also a fresh new routine.

Now that I have kids, I still think this is the most wonderful time of the year. I love to take them shopping for their new no. 2 pencils, 5 star notebooks, and the latest new looks of fashion for the season. I am ecstatic when the return to structure comes and the bickering in the household ceases - at least for the hours that they are at school. I am even grateful that our days start off as a bit of a challenge as the kids get up several hours earlier than they did over vacation.

But those reasons aren't the only reasons why I enjoy this time.

With each school year, the kids get a chance at a fresh start. What happened the year before has usually been forgotten over the summer. They have an opportunity to blaze a new trail, take a new path, or make changes to better themselves in some way. With the start of each school year comes new opportunities learn and grow. As a parent, I am responsible to help them see those opportunities.

With some perseverance, a lot of determination, and my encouragement, this can be the most wonderful time of the year for my kids too.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Refiner's Fire

re⋅fine–verb (used with object)
1. to bring to a fine or a pure state; free from impurities: to refine metal, sugar, or petroleum.
2. to purify from what is coarse, vulgar, or debasing; make elegant or cultured.
3. to bring to a finer state or form by purifying.



According to Dictionary.com these are some of the definitions of refine.

There are many things that that we use every day that are refined. If you drive a car, you use refined oil products. Unless you have fasted, you probably eat refined sugar that is in some food almost everyday. If you are wearing any piece of gold...you got it...it has been refined.

I'm not sure of how the oil and sugar are refined, but I do know that gold is refined by fire. Gold is heated up by fire to the melting point. As the gold heats up, the impurities rise to the surface. They are separated from the gold. The more it is heated, the more impurities are pulled out and drained off. What is left behind is cleaned, refined and pure gold. *

Life feels like the refiner's fire sometimes...OK most of the time. Anything that causes us to stretch or grow is like a flicker of the flames. These everyday things bring stuff to the surface and separate it from our old selves and leaves behind something just a bit purer and refined. Learning something new, making a new friend, or stepping out of comfort zones are like the flickers. They are good and part of the process. We generally are ok with this kind of heat in life.

But, there is also the white hot core of the fire and the raging flames of life that truly melt us. These flames break us down, burn us up, and liquefy our souls. They humble, scare, and cause us to question who we are and what our purpose is. They pull out the impurities that keep us from being who we are capable of being, responsible to be, and know we should be. We don't like this kind of heat.

This heat comes in many forms. It may the loss of someone or something. It may be struggles with a spouse or significant other. Perhaps, amid the joy children bring, it is the struggles of raising them and watching them feel the fire of life. It could be it's finances. Maybe it's an internal struggle within one's self. Whatever the source is, this fire is hot and it hurts.

Unfortunately, we have no choice but to walk through the refining fire. It is part of life. It makes us who we are.

As a woman of faith, I know that I will not have completed my walk through the Refiner's Fire in this life. But I also know that the heat I face in life will not leave me in ashes, but will serve to refine me and each day bring me a bit closer to the day that I am pure as gold.


*http://www.e-goldprospecting.com/html/gold_refining.html

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Parallel Tales, Perpendicular Perspectives

"You're not in Kansas anymore....."

I have heard that phrase a thousand times. It is a play on a great line from the wonderful story, "The Wizard of Oz." You've probably seen the movie...it is on TV every November at the start of the holiday season.

I thought about the movie when I recently had the pleasure of seeing the play, "Wicked." It was a wonderful story about how the witches in the Emerald City got their titles of Good and Wicked. It paralleled the tale we know so well by showing the lives of those that lived in within the green gates. From the winged primates, the merry citizens we see on that road of gold, the non-human characters in search of miracles from a magical man, and of course the witches, the story is told from a perspective completely different. A perspective that is perpendicular to the tale that most of us grew up knowing. It is a humorous, touching and even a bit scandalous story.

As I watched it, I was struck by how I viewed the characters in a different light than I did when I only knew the original story. Those winged primates really scared me until I found out why they had wings. The magical man seemed like the answer to all problems and strife before I knew his past. The witches...well, we all know the good witch is good and the wicked one is not...or do we?

I looked at the characters through one set of ideals. They were the ideals that were put in front of me and I gladly accepted. Because of the delivery and slant of the story, my opinions and attitudes were shaped to fit the agenda of the author of the story. Once I saw a different viewpoint, my opinions and attitudes were not the same.

For all of you who may be thinking that I am taking this a bit too seriously, let me assure you that I do know these are fictional characters! What I do take seriously though, is how this scenario plays out in the real world.

I know I am guilty of seeing much of the world from one perspective. It has been shaped by the things "my" culture presents. I often fail to see a perspective different from my own. I often am charmed into adopting attitudes because of the charisma and skill of the teller of the story. I often neglect to consider that there is another side of the story. My world will not tell me there are other views unless I take the initiative to seek them out myself. It is up to me to be educated and informed and not blindly accept what the world around me presents.

Knowing another view does not mean that view has to be accepted as right. The additional knowledge may even cement the original views as truth. However, maybe some wickedness lies in denying the fact that there is another view to be considered.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The art of simply being....


As I write this I am sitting at a Starbucks.

Surrounding me is the noise of the Barista's various machines, the hum of the air conditioner, the rumble of the patrons placing their orders, and the faint trickle of the never empty coffee p0ots being brewed.

When I think about it, I can hear all of these things. When my attention is caught and held by any one of these, it becomes a distraction. If I am not thinking about it, it is all white noise to me. All the noises around me fade into the background to create a jumbled and diluted wall of sound.

Funny thing though...the white noise helps me concentrate. It would seem that the constant noise would be a hindrance. But, for some reason I write better, quicker and with more focus than if there were silence.

It doesn't matter whether I am trying to focus on another task or focus on nothing at all, when I am left alone in silence with my thoughts, the noise they make is overwhelming. It's kind of like the neighbor's car alarm that blares all night long, or the car with the way over the top bass that pulls up next to you. The thoughts running through my head turn the silence into a deafening concert of mismatched and out of tune instruments.

I am not sure of the reason I have so much trouble turning down the volume of my thoughts. The events of the day, the current issues going on in life and the pervasive mental to do list seem to be resistant to the mute button. For as much as I try, the more persistent the noise becomes.

I'd like to think that I had the ability to control this. If I knew how to turn all the internal interference into white noise, I'd do it in a second! I bet I'd be a lot more productive!

To be able to just be alone with myself and not accompanied by the throngs that crowd my head would be a welcome respite from the ever running and very tiring process of managing all my thoughts. I wish I was ok with silence. The truth is, for some reason I am not. I guess I have not mastered the art of just simply being....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Waves or currents...

Have you ever stood and looked at the ocean?

It is so vast and so powerful. On the surface the waves crash about, with force, swiftness, and sometimes destruction. They have the power to slam bodies to the ground, erode the shorelines, and break apart the boats that call it's surface their home. The waves come and go. When the storms are gone, the water is calm and most of the waves disappear. Some ripple on the shoreline, but most, batter the surface leaving a debris to be cleaned up and then fade away till the next time.

But, there are also currents that run through the monstrous body of water. They are not as visible. Sometime you can see where the water is moving.But many currents are deep and unseen. Like the waves, they are powerful also...in a different way. Whether the weather is stormy or calm, the currents are always present. They are continually mixing the oceans, creating a pathway for life and growth, and provide a steady stream of movement.

People are like waves and currents.

We all know waves. They are the people that create controversy (good or bad), yell the loudest, and sometimes do some collateral damage with their words and actions. They loudly voice opinion, spotlight an issue, or simply create some chaos for the sake of recognition...and then as quickly as they appear, they fade into the shadows leaving a trail of debris for others to manage and clear away.

Then there are the currents. They are the people that keep ideas and movements going. They are the lifeblood, the flow and the backbone of change, virtue and social consciousness. These "currents" continue long after the waves have died down and faded away. Some are visible, but most run just under the surface and out of plain sight. They clean up after the waves. They strengthen and rebuild what the waves have deconstructed. They are satisfied and proud of not needing to be in the spotlight.

Now, of course the world needs both waves and currents. Waves can bring attention to things that need to be more visible. But if we were all waves, at the end of the storm, all we would have left would be an ocean full of broken and sunken boats with no one to rebuild them. It is from the currents that growth and change continues.

Which are you? A wave....or a current?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hat Tricks! Wearing Your Nature Hat





Wearing your nature isn't always easy when you live in an urban or suburban area. Visiting your local botanical garden is a great way to wear your Nature Hat and escape the busyness of the city!

Don't forget to check the Hat Tricks Vlog archives for other great tips and tricks to help you juggle all of your hats!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hat Tricks! Creating Family Memories and History



An annual family photo is a great way to capture family memories and record family history.

Don't forget to check out the Hat Tricks archives for other tips and tricks to help you balance all of your hats!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Ghost of Betsy Ross

Have you seen her?

She visits our family every year.....

If you are a lover of American History, you probably know that Besty Ross was born on New Years Day in 1752 in Philadelphia, PA. She is most well known for creating the banner that Americans pay respect and honor to (hopefully), our great Stars and Stripes, the great American Flag. If you are not a history buff, well, hopefully you can add this little piece of American history to your knowledge bank.

For me and my family, Betsy Ross has played an integral part of our celebration of Independence Day, the 4th of July. This particular holiday is the one time of year that my sisters and I, our families, and our parents are all together...all 14 of us. We spend it crammed into my parent's 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom mountain cabin. It is a cozy 7 days, but full of lots of celebration.

The Ghost of Betsy Ross as been a huge part of our festivities for the last 15 years when she first left a patriotic themed gift for each of the children after they each helped place an American flag in the yard of the cabin.(One of the kids speculated it was her ghost....so she has returned every year since.) Each year the kids have looked forward to decorating the yard as patriotically as they can, and seeing if Betsy Ross will return again. Sure enough, from the morning after the flags go up to the morning of the 4th, she has left them mementos that help them display their love of country and respect of the flag.

I understand that this is not the most traditional way to celebrate, and may even draw some criticism from some for associating gifts with patriotism. But the way I see it is this:

America is a great country. It is far from perfect and like every other country on this planet can always improve. But, it also is a country that through the voice and hard work of the people and the guidance of great leaders, continually strives and is dedicated to overcoming injustice and ensuring equality of all people. In essence as Americans, we are given the gifts of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as a benefit of our patriotism - I say gifts because of the many women and men that gave their lives to ensure us these things. And what may be even more amazing, is that for those that live in this great country that are against what America is built upon...they are granted grace, and receive the same gifts.

I think that The Ghost of Betsy Ross has taught the children of the family a great appreciation for this Great Country. Untraditional as it may be, this way of celebrating has shown them the gift that they have by simply being able to call America home.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Hat Tricks! Economizing Hat



Saving money is a must theses days! No one knows exactly when our economy will fully recover. In the mean time, we need to economize where ever we can!

Today's Hat Tricks Tip will not only help you save money locally, but may also help you save some as you are visiting other cities!

Don't forget to check the Hat Tricks Archives for more tips and tricks to help you juggle all of your hats!

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Road Less Traveled

My family and I have taken a couple of small vacations this summer already. We have put quite a few miles on the SUV and traversed an array of different roads and scenery on our journeys. Some of the roads have been nicely paved and easy to navigate. Others, well, lets just say they were a bit bumpy, windy, and far less populated.

All of this summer driving left some time for a bit of reflection.

Wouldn't life be a little less complicated if we all had nice paved paths ahead of us to travel?

Traveling through this journey of life is not always easy. It is full of highways, interchanges, traffic jams, one way roads, dead end streets and rush hour road construction. Unexpected road hazards pop up, and suddenly you need to take an alternate route to your destination.

You can stick to familiar roads on this detour and know that it will probably take you to where you need to go. The roads you know like the back of your hand can be traveled with out much thought or effort. You know the scenery and can probably predict the signal patterns and exactly how much time it will take you. The tried and true will get the job done.

Or you can take the road less traveled. You know - the one that you've always wanted to take, been afraid to take, or just not had enough time to take. This road is the one that has blind curves, pot holes and narrow bridges. This one leads into unknown territory, unfamiliar situations, and uncomfortable surroundings.

But for all the discomfort this road less traveled may bring with it, it also brings something else. It bring brings incredible adventure and opportunity. Navigating these roads hones our traveling skills, challenges and strengthens our sense of direction, and opens our eyes to scenery and perspectives that we didn't have before we set out on them. Even if the less traveled road does not get us to our intended destination, what we have learned from the journey will leave us with more knowledge and wisdom when we do finally get to where we are going.

Do you stick to the familiar routes or do you choose the road less traveled?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Every Breath I Take

For those of you that have read my blog, you probably have figured out that I am a runner. Not a very good runner, but a runner none the less.

Right now I am running 4-6 miles per run several days a week. Since I live in the desert south west, my runs are early morning events, usually just before sunrise so I can avoid baking in the summer heat. I gear up to the nines for my runs. I lace up my shoes (I have invested in great shoes - a must at my age. ) I fill my hydration and fuel belt with the necessary water and energy supplies. I grab my favorite hat and polarized sun glasses. And last but not least, the I-pod.

I mention the Ipod last because it is the last piece of equipment that I attach to my body before I head out the door. It is also an essential piece.

Off I go on my run being serenaded by some of my favorite artists - Nickelback, Guns n’ Roses, Pink, Abba, Journey, Kid Rock, Justin Timberlake - an eclectic mix of tunes that keep running and breathing in a rythnm that helps pass the time as my feet pound the pavement. The music is encouraging too. When Axle Rose sings about my “hair reminding him of a warm safe place“, or when Billy Squire tells me that “everybody wants me” what better motivation is there to keep the body moving?

But, yesterday’s run had a problem. A mile into my 4 mile run, the I-pod died…..kaput, zilch, nada, nothing, no juice in the battery, no tunes in my ears. There I was with 3,now much longer miles ahead of me to go. I had a choice, I could cut the run short and go home or trudge on. I chose to trudge on.

From that point on, instead of hearing my tunes, The only sound I heard was my feet pounding on the pavement, and my own breath getting louder and louder. My focus was no longer on my music, but on my body and how hard the running really is.

Every breath I took seemed to get more difficult, more shallow, and more of a distraction. I became very much aware of the inflow and outflow of oxygen that fuels my body. So much so that I began to obsess over it….and we all know that obsessing leads to the problem becoming bigger than it is. I struggled trough the rest of the run, my windedness overtaking me several times. But I eventually made it home, completing my 4 miles.

The point of the story is this….

With my music, I am distracted from the difficulty of the run. It doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult, but by having my focus elsewhere it doesn’t become a bigger issue than it really is…..it’s in a way kept in perspective. When I focused on my breathing and the difficulty I was having created a problem that was difficult to overcome. I gave it too much power, and it nearly overtook me.

I think this can be applied to most of life’s issues. We need to address them and at times trudge through them. But if we obsess about them, they gain a life of their own and then they take over our lives.

Giving up our power to life's difficulties is a choice. Today, choose to keep your power. Refuse to give yourself and your focus to things that really don't deserve it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Summer

A poem composed on the spot for my sweet Baby Hat's Poetry Day

Summer is coming,
Parents beware!
Cries of "I'm bored"
Will soon be in the air.
And, "Daddy it's Hot!"
And "Mama let's go
to a movie where we can dream of the snow!"
Poor Mommy, poor Daddy
Pulled every which way
But they shouldn't worry..only ten weeks left
Till the first school day!
But by then they'll be missing the cries and the groaning,
The nagging and griping,the picking and moaning.
They'll count down the days in each month of the year,
And be thankful when next summer is near!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hat Tricks! Balancing Act!



With all the hats we wear, we need to find ways to help us keep them all balance.

Knowing your self and what recharges you is a great way to keep balance in your life.

Be sure to check the Hat Tricks Archives for Tips and Tricks to help you juggle all of your hats!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Room With A View

This is the view I will have at sunset this evening. Peaceful, isn’t it?

I am on a vacation with my family as I write this. We are at a little lake here in AZ, in a little cabin that sits on the shore of the perfect quiet fishing spot. In fact, I can see Mr. Mom of Many Hats and one of my Baby Hats are testing their "boatmanship" and fishing skills on a little tin row boat just off shore …..(I’ll post the big fish stories I hear in another post).

This is our second adventure at this particular lake. The first was about 5 years ago, when all my baby hats were much younger, our canine hat was much sprier, and Mr. Mom of Many Hats and myself had much more energy for the minimal amount of roughing it that we have to do with theses particular accommodations.

As our family has grown up, we’ve become accustomed to the little luxuries in life. We are used to not having to share bathrooms. We are spoiled by having living space that allows us each a bit of breathing room. We have not had to learn to keep ourselves busy as instant entertainment has been at our fingertips via the internet, cable and video games. In short, we have not had to learn how to simply be and enjoy being because of the luxuries we have.

Although at some level we are well aware of this, the week we have spent here has made it glaringly apparent. We are in a tight space with small shared rooms and a single bathroom. There is one small living space that all of us, plus the wet muddy dog congregate in for meals and down time. There is no internet access. And, although there is a TV, there are few channels that actually work. We are cramped, running a little short in the fuse, and are forced to find things to keep us occupied.

But, I am proud of my family of Hats….

We have really worked at spending our time doing family stuff. We’ve played family card games. We’ve played word games. We went on a horseback trail ride. We’ve spent many, many hours with fishing poles in the water, each of us displaying the patience of Job as the slow, seemingly endless process of catching a fish tests not only our persistence, but also our commitment to the actual catching of a fish. And, when it all gets to be just a bit to much to togetherness time, we have retreated to the front porch that I am writing from to take in the calm and peacefulness of the water, the beautiful sky, and the natural scenery.

There is not doubt that we will return to this place again for a family vacation. We have seen so much here. We see the beauty of nature around us, we see a little about ourselves, and we see what we are as a family. How can we resist returning to this room with a view?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hat Tricks! Economizer Hat!



One of the hats that we should wear everyday is an economizing hat.

In today's financial time, it is important to save a few dollars where ever we can. This hat trick tip is an easy way to save some money on something that many of us purchase every day! An added bonus....it helps the environment too!

Make sure to check the Hat Tricks Archive for other tips and tricks to help you juggle all of your hats.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

House of Cards


My smallest Baby Hat enjoying a card game with the family....


Usually when you think of a house of cards, you think of a situation that is built on a shaky foundation. It is a situation, event, or lie that is constructed out of flimsy material. At the slightest blow of the wind, shift of the foundation or falling of a card, the entire thing comes crashing down.

Well, this week, I had the opportunity to look at a “house of cards” from a personal standpoint.

While on vacation with my family this week, we were void of any electronic vices…no internet, no video games, no cable TV…none of it. Just the family at a lake, disconnected from virtual entertainment. We were forced to spend time together.

Being the good mother that I am (my own self affirmation…I need to get it someplace!) I planned for the fact that we would have to be engaged in face to face interaction. Although my family are all skillful communicators, the inevitable communication breakdown (nice word for fighting) does happen. So I brought along an intermediary. I employed the aid of a stand between to aid in the exchange of affirmative, positive conversation among my brood - a verbal exchange middleman, if you will. I brought a deck of cards.

The first night of our vacation, we pulled out the cards. Then began a marathon session of a game, full of Skipping, Wild Cards, color switches, and penalty draws. The game went on, and on, and on. We even made our own pity rules than limited the number of cards one had to draw…it was that long. We all began to get irritable and cranky each time the draw deck had to be shuffled. Then, with one final card placement, the game was over.

Oh yeah….Mama won…Woohooo! Sorry, I gloat.

Although the card game seemed to last for ever, and we all started to get a little cranky, we spent time together - quality time. It was the kind of time that we do not spend enough of. Time away from the internet, away from TV, away from distractions. Time building our connection as a family. These cards strengthened our foundation.

As my kids are getting older, the opportunities to spend this kind of time get fewer and fewer. They become more busy and have more responsibilities . They probably want less and less to spend this kind of time with family. But, I hope that by seizing the chances when I can, my children will have happy and cherished memories of this house of cards.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Life of the Party.....

OK...Now this story is a bit embarrassing to tell.....

Many years ago we lived in a wonderful little town in Texas. We had amazing friends and a great community with many in our town.. When it came time that one of our friends was moving away, the women in our circle of friends decided to throw her a going away party. It was set to be a wonderful affair...gifts, games, desserts...the works! When I got my invitation I promptly RSVP'd and put the date on my calendar - it was on a weeknight the following week. I volunteered to bring a chocolate cherry cake, one that I was known for making. It was going to be a really fun girls night out party.

The day of the party I was busy wrapping my gift just so...the requisite gift bag, matching tissue paper, and of course, the decked out bow. It looked fabulous. I then went to work on the cake, stirring, mixing, measuring, baking away until it was just perfect. (Really it was a tupperware microwave recipe, but that really is less dramatic. I'm invoking creative license here!) With little time left to spare after my treacherous day of baking and gift wrapping, I went upstairs to get ready for the party.

I must insert here, that with three little kids at home and a traveling husband, parties were a rare happening and an incredible treat for me. I was so excited to have a night out!

I dressed to the nines - well probably the eights, sprayed my perfume that in those days only rarely got taken out of the cabinet, gave myself the once over glance in the mirror, grabbed the gift and the cake, and off I was to P-A-R-T-A-Y!

I was so proud of myself! I got out the door 15 minutes early! I figured I'd head over to the host's house and help her with last minute prep stuff, pouring punch, setting out casseroles and deserts, anything I could do to help. So I drove across our little town, carefully following the directions until I came upon the tiny street where her house was.

Perfect! I was early enough to get a spot right in front of her house!

I went to the front door. I knew I was the first one there because I didn't hear the thunder of chatter that you hear when a room full of women gather. I though to myself..." This is great! I'll get the best spot on the edge of the couch." Women...you know what I'm talking about - that spot that is not too close to the refreshment table that you'll be tempted to nibble, yet close enough to the open walkway that if you need to make a quick exit from that overly chatty gal-pal you have a clear path to freedom.

With cake in hand, gift bag slung over my arm, and me dressed to the eights and ready to be the life of the party, I knocked on the door.............

No answer. Maybe the host was in the kitchen and didn't hear me.

I knocked again. This time the dog barked, but no one answered.

I knocked a third time. The door slowly opened. There I stood face to face with the host, me with all my party garb, and the host - in her pajamas. Turns out, I was early. An entire week early.

She was very gracious about the whole thing, but I could feel the heat of embarrassment in my face. How could I make such a mistake. I must have mismarked the calendar. I returned home, humiliated with tears in my eyes as I explained the whole thing to my husband. I was almost too embarrassed to return to the part the next week.

So, why do I share this story?

I guess it's because over the years, I've learned that I need to cut myself some slack. Was it embarrassing? Yes. Will I ever make that mistake again? No. Was the whole incident kind of funny? Absolutely.

Now I see it as a really hilarious mistake. I even chuckle when I tell the story. Life gets a whole lot easier if we can learn to laugh at ourselves.

Hmmmmm.....would this have happend if I had been using the Organizational Hat Trick?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hat Tricks! Healthly Living Hat!




Maintaining a healthy menu in your household is difficult - especially when you are juggling so
many hats! It's really easy to reach into the pantry or freezer for the pre-packaged additions to your meal. Here is a healthy living Hat Trick Tip to keep your family eating right!

I love hearing from my readers, so if you find this tip helpful, please leave a comment! Don't forget to check the Hat Tricks side bar for additional tips and tricks to help you juggle your hats!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Lazy Days of Summer.....

Ahhhhh.....summer...

I loved summer vacation as a kid. Who didn't? Hanging out with friends. free from the bondage of school, able to just hang out, chill, and relax with friends. No responsibility to speak of. Lazily hanging out in my room listening to my albums ( for any one born after 1985, this is the way we used to get the tunes...) lounging around in a bathing suit all day long because I had no where to go. No real schedule - just go with the flow kind of days. Late nights spent talking with friends - remember back when we used the phone or talked face to face? And the best part....the most amazing and rewarding part....the thing that every teenager waits all year for.....the chance to sleep in!

Today is the first day of summer for all of us in my household. The kids are all done with school, my classes are done, and we have no where to be this morning. Would have been the perfect morning to sleep in....don'tcha think? But instead, here I am at 6 a.m. typing away at my computer desk, coffee in front of me, and my note books, to do lists, and a mind swirling with all the summer projects I need to get done. Don't get me wrong....It's not that I didn't want to sleep in. I just couldn't. It was not because I felt I had to get up and dive into my summer projects...I just physically couldn't sleep in. My body wouldn't let me. I was awake at sunrise.

Ironic - now that I am old enough to make the conscious decision to sleep as late as I DARN WELL PLEASE.... I can't.

Now, I'm sure there is probably some kind of biological reason for this. I have heard that as we age, we don't require as much sleep. The vanity part of me is not willing to accept this yet....so I have to find another reason for it. Perhaps it is because that deep down in my subconscious mind all the things that I neglected during the school year are coming around and paying me back for my dismissing of them. Maybe, just maybe, there is another reason.

Maybe the reason is that as we get older we get wiser - one hopes! But along with this wisdom comes the realization that our days are numbered. I'm not talking the doom and gloom- my life is over- start the bucket list kind of realization. Maybe it's more of an appreciation.

We realize that time is valuable and the more time we spend conscious and aware in the time we have, the more chances we have to discover the joy, beauty, and opportunity that are in moments that God has given us. We realize that everyday is a gift.

So, as I sit here, instead of lamenting the sleep I am not getting, I will rejoice in the awareness and opportunity that I am getting. Today is full of promise. It is my choice to accept it or reject it. I think I'll take it with open arms!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

When the Other Shoe Drops....

"Waiting for the other shoe to drop..."

What does that phrase mean?

From what I can gather I think it has to do with cause and effect. If you think about it, events, like a pair of shoes, have two parts. Part one (the first shoe) is at actual act. It is a word, an experience, a situation that happens in a particular moment of time. Part two (the other shoe)is the effect, the aftermath, the mess that’s left behind to be cleaned up either by the executor of the act or by those that are affected by the act.

Part two doesn’t always come immediately, in fact it may come hours, days, weeks, years later….that’s why you “wait for the other shoe to drop.”

Events, just like pairs of shoes come in all different shapes, styles and sizes. They can be small and pretty insignificant like a pair of flip flops. The aftermath when the other shoe drops is small, not very painful and doesn’t draw a lot of attention. Events can be a bit larger, like a pair of sneakers. They hurt a bit more when they drop and may leave a scuff on the floor and make a thud, but all in all, the damage is minimal. Then there is the all out heavy weight, steel toe boot kind of event. This one is not only heavy, it is loud, draws attention, damages and leaves a mark on what ever it has hit.

So, what do you do when the “other shoe has dropped?”

Well, the way I see it, you can do one of three things.

1. You can ignore the shoe, step over it, act like it’s not even there. But I warn you, eventually you will trip on it and land flat on your face eye level with that stinky shoe.

2. You can kick the shoe under the bed, the couch, into the closest…where ever you can to simply get it out of your sight. But you always have the constant nag of knowing the shoe is there and will need to be picked up eventually.

3. You can pick up the shoe, find it’s mate, and figure out why it dropped in the first place. Only then can you put on that pair of shoes and use them to walk forward.

None of these choices are easy. They all have consequences associated with them. But I firmly believe that the most productive option is the third one. It is much better to walk around with shod feet than to constantly walk on egg-shells bare footed.

If you are dealing with a dropped shoe…take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. This Mom of Many Hats has picked up a lot of pairs of shoes in her life. Some of the pairs may have gone out of style and don’t get worn that often, but others are the ones that I wear to walk into the future.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hot Crossed Buns...Don't Get Burned!

If you live in a desert area, you can probably relate to this.....

You're on your way out to run an errand in the middle of a hot summer day. The air is hot and and actually burns your skin as the 117 degree blast hits you in the face as you step outside. You get in your car, knowing that you can make it to where ever it is you need to go because your car that you've had parked in the garage will keep you nice and cool till you arrive at your destination.

As you drive down the road, you can actually see the heat rising from the road. It is an ominous reminder of just how hot the desert summers can be. But still, you don't lament much...at that moment... because you are still in your nice cool car and are headed into a nice office building, grocery store or mall. You know that despite the heat, you can bypass the pain of the blazing temperatures.

You pull into the parking lot of your destination. Then realization hits. The car you've been in will soon be sitting in the hot summer sun, transforming from a vessel of comfort to a blazing hot oven! When you get back into the car to leave, your hot car seat will give new meaning to hot crossed buns. And, unless you want to be branded with the metal of the seat belt buckle, you'd better find a way to keep the car cool.

So, you search and search for a shady parking spot to keep your motorized domain cool. Your eyes scan the parking lot. You see a few spaces shaded by small desert trees, but those that were there before you reaped the benefit of the shade. Just when all hope for finding shade is gone, you see a shopper leaving the building and heading towards a shady spot. You think your parking dilemma is over. Quickly you navigate the lot until you are right behind them. Slowly and stealthily you lurk behind ever so slowly inching your car forward as they approach their vehicle. You take the assertive posture, moving you car to the center of the isle as to not let someone from behind gain the upper hand. You put your blinker on and make definite "don't even think about it" eye contact with every other driver you encounter while on your hunt for some respite from the summer sun. The patron slowly backs out of the space. Without hesitation, your accelerate your car forward and into the newly available spot.

Feeling proud and accomplished at reaching your goal, you look up to admire the canopy of shade that protects you and your backside from the heat. You expect to see a lush, shady, green covering above. What you see is the twiggy, small leafed, sparsely covered branches of a Mesquite tree that are about as effective at shading your car as an umbrella made out of fishnet is at keep you dry in a rain storm.

There is nothing left to do but crack the windows, find the few stray napkins from your last drive through stop to use to cover the steering wheel, and pray that a rogue monsoon will miraculously roll in and minimize the heat.

So...what's the purpose of this summertime parking dramatization?

Sometimes we put ourselves into situations that we know we will get burned in, often times repeatedly. We are willing to take the same risks and apply the same behaviors but expect different results. To avoid getting burned, we often need to re-adjust and take a different approach to life, an approach that keeps us out of the heat.

As a side note.....Ive learned to do most of my summertime errands after the sun has gone down.....

Friday, May 15, 2009

What a Man...What a Mighty Fine Man!

To all my loyal readers, you have probably read about my husband, Mr. Mom of Many Hats.

We have been married for over 17 years now. For the most part, we work very well together. We share similar goals, ideals, values, and outlooks on life. We have done a pretty good job of melding our parenting styles to create a united front and a cohesive plan to raising our children. We have some common interests that we are able so share - hockey, running, healthy lifestyle, among other things. We also have plenty of differences that we both respect and know are essential to our growth not only as individuals, but also as a couple. I think overall, we get a lot of things right.

But like most couples, we have struggled with the whole male/female communication thing. If you read my post Pass the Cheese Please! you probably know about one of our communication breakdowns early in our marriage. Now I must admit that I did not do a wonderful job of communicating a response back to him (my dad made the comment that he knew Mr. Mom of Many Hats was in trouble by the look on my face and the tone in my voice.) And yes.... I did milk it for all I could.

After I posted Pass the Cheese Please! Mr. Mom of Many Hats posted a response that reinforced the reason that I love him so much. Please read Mr. Mom of Many Hats words.....

To my bride: Well written! You have a real talent for relating your experience and perspectives. I'm proud of you.

To everyone else who reads this: I did err when I exclaimed, out loud, my shock at the strange ingredient in the lasagne. It was not fair to my bride. New husbands take note - appreciate the effort even if the results may not be what you expected. While I have since said many stupid things over the last 17 years, I have not repeated that mistake. I must say, though, that I watched my grandmother and my father make lasagne many times and ne'er a cottage cheese container even entered the kitchen! As a matter of fact, if my grandmother had made it that way and I saw cottage cheese go in there, I would not have eaten hers either. I just don't like the stuff. And no, I haven't been spelling lasagne wrong. Check the dictionary, it can end in an 'e' or an 'a'. Just like I suppose it can be made with more than one kind of cheese. I only eat lasagne spelled with an 'e' at the end. I don't like the kind with the 'a' at the end either....

Ti amo!!

I love reading these words. They are witty, honest, and explain his standpoint. In his response, he not only acknowledges where he erred, but he also (rightfully so) defended his viewpoint. He offered sage advice to new husbands and proclaimed his pride in me.

My response back to him is.... What a man....what a mighty fine man!

Do you have a mighty fine man too? Or for that matter, a mighty fine woman? Leave a response and share your story with all of AZ Mom of Many Hat's readers!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pass the Cheese Please......

When my husband and I were first married, we had an apartment warming party. I cooked lasagna for the entire family. I was so proud to have everyone over to our new domestic haven. I had prepared all day long for the meal and was looking forward to showing off my domestic prowess. I laid out a buffet of food to share with my lasagna as the centerpiece. The table was worthy of a photo to place in an “Our First Home" photot album.

I had prepared the lasagna the way my mom had always cooked it, and similar to the way it was prepared in the prepackaged Italian dinners - the way I had ALWAYS eaten it. As we gathered around the small apartment we blessed the food and began breaking bread together as one big happy family. I lovingly watched my handsome young husband as he enjoyed the meal. I was honored as he took a bite of the lasagna and his eyes got wide. I about burst with pride as I figured my husband was enamored with my cooking. I could see he was about to offer up words of praise….I waited anxiously.

As any blushing bride would, I listened adoringly for his praise. Then, in front of all of his family, my family and all of our friends, my husband exclaimed

“WHAT'S THIS?”

…..and not in the tone that indicated he was pleasantly surprised. It was a tone of disbelief. I, his new bride, had committed an awful sin. I had used cottage cheese, not ricotta, in my lasagna. To my Italian husband and his family, this was practically unforgivable.

For the next 17 years, I endured ridicule as the story was re-told countless times. “Remember the cottage cheese…” , “Can’t be as bad as the cottage cheese incident….,” “Angie, what kind of cheese did you use in this?”

Then, on Christmas day, 2008, I got one of the greatest gifts I could possibly have received. My father-in-law pulled a recipe box out of his cupboard and slowly opened it. As he opened it, he slowly issued me an heartfelt apology. In this box was a recipe from his mother - an amazing woman and the quintessential Italian grandma. The very first ingredient on this recipe for some sort of Italian pie was….you guessed it…..COTTAGE CHEESE!

Finally, after all of those years, the “cottage cheese incident” could no longer be held over my head.

Now did this incident occupy all of my thoughts for all these years? No. Did it stop me from meeting goals and living a happy life? No. But, I have to admit, it felt pretty good to be vindicated!

Why did this vindication feel so good? Why, when I knew the lasagna actually tasted pretty good, did I let this even occupy any space within me? I guess it is because at some level as humans, we all want to fit it. We want to be accepted. We want community with others and acknowledgment. I am no different. I want that too. This little incident at some level, although not a conscious level, made me feel like I didn’t belong, like I was different, like I didn’t fit in with my community. Hearing that I wasn’t the only one who had used the cottage cheese, and then hearing the acknowledgment finally gave me a place within the group.

Is this a MAJOR over analysis of this situation? Yes and no.

To all my family that reads this…it hasn’t bothered me all that much. I have even found a lot of humor in it and I have even broadened my culinary skills because of it. But, I think the general idea is not a really a stretch. We should continually be aware of how we are acknowledging others. As members of this big human family, we have a duty to foster community with others and create an environment of inclusion - even if others do use cottage cheese in their lasagna…..

By the way....my husband has NEVER had that kind of reaction to my cooking again. I guess we both learned some valuable lessons from that lasagna.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

When I was a resident in the beautiful state of TX, I could grow anything. For that five years, my garden was beautiful! Anything I planted bloomed, thrived, produced fruit and made my back yard a peaceful haven. I had tulips, crocus, daffodils, butterfly bushes, hydrangeas, sunflowers. I could toss a melon seed in the ground and in a few months I’d have my own vine - peppers galore….you name it, if I put it in the ground it grew.

I have now lived in AZ for almost 7 years. In that time, I have yet to plant a bulb that will bloom a second season, seasonal flowers that will actually last an entire season, or a vegetable plant that actually bears anything edible.

Why! Why! Why!!!!

I love gardening, but have failed miserably. I know it is possible to garden here, I know plenty of people that do. I even know where my problem is with it. The soil and the climate are different here. I just need to adjust to it- maybe adopt a new strategy and plant something different and appreciate it for what it is.

It’s kind of funny how life is a lot like my garden.

There are times when it thrives, produces fruit, flourishes with blooms and possibility, and provides a comfortable and stable environment. The conditions are right for easy existence. The ground is fertile, and provides a healthy and nourishing foundation for growth, happiness and self discovery. There is plenty sunshine to warm the ground where new seeds are sown, and plenty of rain to water them so they can drink and grow. The roots take hold, and before you know it, the garden of life is in full bloom.

Then there are other times in life when there is struggle and drought. Rocky soil and beating sun thwart the efforts to grow. Seedlings my sprout, but the roots are shallow and they soon whither and die. The soil and the climate are different.

It is at these times that we need to change our strategy. Maybe the seeds we are sowing aren’t appropriate to the soil we are in. Perhaps the climate may be fine for a cactus, but not for a fern. We want what we had in our previous garden, but that may not be possible. We therefore must find new ways thrive and grow in ways that are appropriate to the place we are at. And, we must be willing to see the beauty in a garden that looks a little bit different than what we are used to.

When I moved here from TX, a good friend of mine gave me a garden gift that sits in my patch of dirt in my back yard. It says “Bloom Where God Plants You.” It took me a while to get the courage to live that. The climate and soil of life have changed. But, I am beginning to plant new seeds. Those seeds are beginning to grow. Soon they will be a thriving, beautiful garden!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Heat is On!

Living here in Arizona, we don't get a lot of cold weather. In fact it very rarely gets COLD...more like cool, chilly, sweater weather...

Most of our late Fall through winter is fairly pleasant. But, come late April - THE HEAT IS ON!

Today is April 20th. We are going to be about 98 degrees here in the Valley of the Sun. Tomorrow It should be about 100. Yuck. I am not even going to pretend to be cheery about this. I just don't like the heat. The next three months are going to be brutal (at least in my opinion - ask my husband and I think he'd tell you he loves it, but I think that's just so he can justify leaving the a/c up higher to save money...but that is another blog post....) But, I live in the Arizona desert, so I guess I just have to live with it.

Just like the changing seasons here in the AZ desert, life has changing seasons as well. I'm not talking the physical age seasons as in the May/December romance kind of seasons, I'm talking more about emotional and psychological stuff. You know, those moments when everything is running smoothly and then along comes a major life change like a new baby, a new job, a new home. Or those times when you switch gears from a leisurely existence to a full out busy and frantic constant dash to get things done - moms you understand this one, the mad dash to get all the back to school stuff done, or the frantic, up all night preparations for holidays and special events. Maybe you are running fast and efficiently and something tragic happens - the loss of a job, loss of a friend or the loss of a loved one, and you are now at a sudden stand still and don't know what to do. Those are seasons. And just like the seasons here in the AZ desert, they are inevitable. Hey, we live a life, so I guess we just have to live with, get through it and know that one day the season will change.

Hopefully most of our seasons are pleasant. But since we are human and live in an imperfect world there will be times when the heat is on. The way I see it, there are three things we can do to deal with the fiery heat that some seasons bring.

1. We can run from the fire. We can avoid the heat by walking the other way. Yes, you may not get burned, but you may also miss out on life.

2. We can fan the flames. We can get so lost in the heat that we actually end up fueling the fire and making the heat worse.

3. We can look at the fire, assess the fire, appreciate the fire, and either walk through or put out the fire.

That number 3 option...that's the hardest to do. That one takes self assessment, self reflection, and quite often a long hard look at what is important in life. Sometimes it's tough to see the big picture through the flames. It's awfully difficult to see what there is to appreciate in the scorched landscape left behind. Walking through it or fighting it...those both take a lot of courage. But, it is often the most beneficial option. Through the fire there is growth and refining - something we all need.

So when the heat is on, rest assured that one day cooler temperatures will return. In their wake, they will leave a new perspective, a fertile ground for new growth, and an appreciation for the pleasant seasons in life!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Frugal Financier

How many of you are in charge of some part of your household finances? Maybe you work very hard outside the home and add income into the family budget monthly. Possibly, you have sacrificed a paycheck to become one of the very hard working but unpaid workforce (stay at home mom - or dad as the case may be). Possibly you carry the responsibility of managing all or part of the family monthly budget.

You do have a budget don't you.......

Sorry, that's another blog post.

When we put on our frugal financier hats, we show our kids the value of a dollar. We teach them how to spend wisely, how to make most financial choices based out of need - not want. We show them that money is not an unlimited resource, but a resource that needs to be treated with responsibility and with respect for the hard work that is put into obtaining it.

This is what my frugal financier hat looks like when I am wearing it in front of my girls:

1. We do go shopping. However, the vast majority of the time we spend shopping is when they NEED something. When we go, we have a great time searching clearance racks, closeout stores and yes, even Good Will. It almost becomes a game of who can find the best bargain.

2. At the beginning of the school year, we have a set dollar amount for new clothing for the girls. They each have a certain allotment and are responsible to pick out what they need, but still stay within the budget. If there is any left over, they can pick out what they "want".

3. We eat out on occasion. However, we make most of our meals at home. In fact, we sit down to dinner as a family at our dining room table at least 5 times a week. We have discussed the benefits of cooking at home with the girls - healthier, needed life skills, less expensive than eating out.

4. We live on a written monthly budget and allow certain dollar amounts for certain activities. our children are aware of this budget and understand the concept of budgeting.

Now there are many other ways I wear this hat. There are probably too many to list here. I believe it is important to set a good example for my children when it comes to finances. In this world and this economy, no one can afford to be financially foolish. If I wear this hat often, I hope I teach my girls the financial commonsense they will need to make wise financial decisions when they are older.

I challenge you to think of 4 ways that you wear your frugal financier hat.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

creative genius hat

It is 8:30 pm on a Thursday evening.

In a panic, one of my daughters comes to me because the project she is making just isn't working....something about glue, things not sticking, ripples in the paper - it's not clear in the emotion of the moment. The assignment is due tomorrow.

It is too late to go to the arts and crafts store to get new supplies. She is not satisfied with the supplies she has. The advice I am giving is going in one ear and out the other. If you have daughters you understand how that happens when they are in a highly emotional state.

So....out comes creative genius hat.

This hat is not necessarily creative in the sense that it bestows amazing artistic talent.

This hat is creative because it allows me to offer suggestions in a creative way that help her through the drama of the moment. It allows me to guide her in a direction that will help her accomplish her goal, but doing it in a way so that she thinks it is all coming from her own ideas. It helps me make suggestions, offer alternatives and present options that she can choose from to move her from panic to completion.

Now the funny thing about this hat is that I actually have three of them - one for each daughter. It has taken me many years to get the sizing and look of these hats just right - sometimes they still need adjusting. Each daughter responds differently to these hats. If I am wearing the wrong hat for the daughter I am working with, I go from creative genius to creative flop!

"Mom........."

Time to open the hat box - wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nature Lover's Hat






All this beauty in the middle of Southern California.....

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Caution....Student Mama Ahead!

"Mom....why is the sky blue?"

"Mom! Fix this!"

"Mom, why does my heart hurt so bad?"

I bet, if you are like me, there are many questions that you had to learn to answer- so many things you had to learn to do.

When I first started out as a young parent, I didn't know much. I had to learn the ins and outs of caring for an infant. I had to learn how to juggle a job, a life, finances, and a new baby all while trying to maintain my sanity as a single parent. (Thanks to all my family for you help in those years!).

As some time went on, I had to learn how to parent a toddler, answer the silly and not so silly questions that a 2 year old asks, still maintain a job and finances, as well as navigating the waters of a new marriage and how to share my parenting with another person. And I still had to learn how to maintain my sanity!

Jump ahead a few years and I was still learning. Two more babies, several moves to several new houses in several states, a new dimension of both parenthood and marriage, brought about a new phase of learning.

At each step of my life as a parent, I had to figure things out. I had to solve problems, face issues, mend messes, discipline behavior, clothe, feed and nurture three other lives besides my own.

Although there are countless parenting books out there, not one of then is written as the manual to YOUR child in YOUR life. Advice abounds from parents, in-laws, friends, siblings, doctors, and yes, even the occasional stranger at the grocery store. But none of those people have spent the intimate time learning about your child that you have.

I have learned that parenting is a constant education. I take bits and pieces of what we hear from others, mix it with our gut feelings, apply my skills and watch for the results. Sometimes I get an "A" on the parenting situation, sometimes a "C" and occasionally, I even get an "F" - and that's OK. As long as I make the "E" for effort, an occasional parental flop is not the end of the world.

The learning as a parent never ends - one of mine is now an adult and I am still learning. As long as I am open to expanding my parental knowledge I'll be fine and my kids will be fine.

Maybe one day I will successfully have earned my degree in parenting. But I have been told that even when they are grown and gone, the I'll still be wearing my parent hat.....

PS. When I went back to school....I learned how to answer the "Why is the sky blue?" question. If your interested in knowing the answer, leave a comment and I'll tell ya!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

EXTRA! EXTRA! News Reporter Mom

Wow….I’ve been M-I-A as far as posting about my hats.

Last week, our family dog, Fina was ill. We have had her for 6 years and she is an important member of our family.

We took her to the Vet on a Thursday afternoon. They ran a bunch of tests and sent us on our way. The following Friday night (of course as the kids and the household were closing down for the night) the vet called with the news. Our beautiful dog Fina was diabetic and having complications.

Then, I had to break the news to the girls. It was a long night after that.

The rest of the evening was filled with mad internet searches about canine diabetes and treatment, comforting broken hearts, and the life changes it would mean to all of us, if she was treatable. It also included what would happen if she was not treatable.

As moms, we are generally the bearers of much of the news that needs to be distributed to our families. Whether it is good news or bad news, news of a fun event or even the death of a pet, friend, or loved one, we moms have to find the right words to deliver the news. Even if we don’t deliver the initial message, we have to deal with the emotional ramifications and have to find a way to manage what has transpired.

This is not an easy Job!

We have to find the right words to actually convey the message, but, at the same time, filter our words so that they will be heard and understood by our children - with the least amount of pain. To add to the intricacies of this type of communicating is the fact that each one of our children are different, respond differently to situations, react differently to stress, grief, and conflict, and generally process things differently from one another. Not to mention, we have to manage our own feelings about the news.

There is no sugar coating the donning of this hat. It is not easy one to wear when the news is bad. However, just as with every other hat we wear, it is necessary to complete our wardrobes as moms.

The only advice I can give is when it is time to take this one out of the hatbox is to know your children, be honest with them, but also be aware of the words you are using. If you do, you will wear it effectively until it is time to put it back in its box.

P.S. We are treating Fina’s diabetes and she will hopefully have many more happy years with us.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Queen Of My Castle....Where's My Crown?

Welcome to my queendom!

Funny how when I type that word it is underlined in the obnoxious red line from spell check! Does it not recognize it as a valid word? If a kingdom is a real word, why can't a qeendom be? Am I not the queen of my castle?

I like to think I am.

I like to think that I have every inch of my castle, every subject in my rule, every thing that lives, breaths, or just is withing my walls, under control. Sheesh....what fairy tale am I living in?

Well, I don't think we are too far off from having queendoms.

Dictionary.com lists this as one of the many definitions of kingdom - "anything conceived as constituting a realm or sphere of independent action or control: the kingdom of thought. " Change that word, apply the same definition, and there you have it....we have queendoms.

If you think about it, as moms, we create the primary "sphere" from which our children view the world. We have control over what we let into our castles. We can censor the media we let it, we can make the "laws" that govern the actions within our realms, we can even (at least until t hey are tween-agers") dictate the style of dress we will allow within our reigns. We can monitor, shape, and to some extent rule our queendoms. Ahhh.....the power!

BUT.....

Along with this great power comes an even greater responsibility. Just as a good king should, as queen, we must have limitless loyalty to those we are responsible for. We need to make sure that our queendoms are healthy places for them to view the world from. We need to give them love, respect, protection, grace, mercy and opportunity so that not only they, but our queendoms can prosper.

Every morning, I get up and place my crown upon my head. I wear it with great honor. It is not a crown made of gold and gem stones, but a crown of responsibility and love, adorned by the three most precious jewels ever created!