This and That

Hi friends, I disappeared. It’s not that I didn’t want to blog. I just got lost. In trying to find balance I sometimes let things go. Not because I want too. I love blogging but sometimes it takes a back seat to the million and one other things brewing on the home front. So work and kids and family won. But I am back!

Summer is upon us which entails all kinds of busy. And balancing. I should say that I don’t ‘love’ summer. It’s not really summer but the hot hot hot. I don’t like the heat. If it could hit 80 and stay there I’d be happy but nope, it quickly moves on up to 100 and kinds hangs around there for most of the summer and into October. The activities that come with summer are fun though. I love escaping to Lake Tahoe and enjoying the mountain air (and cool down). I love popsicles and ice cream with my boys. Wine with the neighbors. Sleeping in. No schedules. No school lunches. Late night movies. Relaxing. Swimming with the neighbors. Taking more photos. Making memories.

My boys are growing fast (as kids do. Sigh. Slow.It.Down) These past few summers have been so much fun exploring and letting them just be kids. We are beyond the naps and diapers. We don’t have to schedule in down time like we used too. We can just go. In the new school year my oldest will start 6th grade. A new school and new friends. So this summer is kind of a big deal. I have realized that you can’t get moments back. That you have to live your dash. Know what I mean? So a  couple things on our summer bucket list (aside from a graduation, a bridal shower, a wedding, camping, a 50th birthday and Scout Camp. Oh and someone is turning 40 this summer. Yes, this girl) are days trips. I love day trips. We are tucked in-between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe. Both are excellent places to escape for the day. Hiking more. Playing more. Being present. Hosting more BBQ’s and dinners and maybe even ‘just deserts’. A get away or two with my hubby. I so cherish that one on one time with him. Maybe attend a concert (It’s been on the ‘list’ for some time). Dates with my boys. Time with my girlfriends. Times does fly. Nothing makes you aware of that as much as having children.

Hopefully in the midst of the hustle and bustle of ‘summer vacation’ (which feels more busy then the rest of the year sometimes), I’ll be able to check in more. Share recipes. Post my current decorating obsessions (that change weekly, have I mentioned my current affinity for coral and robins egg blue?), discuss crafting. You know, all the stuff that makes this blog so me.

So until next time sweet friends. Hugs to all of you who ‘stick around’.

Kindness Matters

Yes, once again it’s been awhile. I’ve given up on being consistent and will post as I find little windows of time. I’m working full time for the next 6 weeks so that means I won’t be on the old blog much but I had some stuff that was on my mind as of late and thought I’d throw it out there. I truly love writing and finding fabulous things to share with my readers but time really does get away from me.

This is a little hodge podge but all really comes back to one thing, how we treat one another. Today I heard a morning radio show promoting an anti bullying campaign. I was in my car, on my way to work and I was completely sucked in. The conversations between the DJ’s and listeners calling in were eye opening. There are various opinions about who teaches children about being kind. It ultimately starts at home but one of the opinions is that schools should be more accountable and on top of students that bully. OK, so this is a tough one and it actually was a conversation that I had both on Facebook and also with the principal at my kids school a couple of weeks back after a few kids called my son ‘gay’. I expressed my irritation at this name on Facebook. Of course it sparked a huge conversation both on and off of Facebook (why I love Facebook, it can be a great place to ‘put it out there’). Several people suggested that I discuss it with the principal to which she (being my Facebook friend) spoke up and said that she makes it a point to discuss at monthly assemblies that bullying is not OK and will not be tolerated. I was able to catch up with her at school a couple of weeks later and we had a deeper discussion about it. In her eyes (and mine as well), being kind is not hard and something as simple as a compliment could make a persons day.

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Here is my take, it starts at home. Unfortunately some children are not taught the basics of  kindness and compassion. In which case the place where they spend most of their time could step it up a little. One suggestion was classes on anti bullying. We spend so much time teaching our kids science, math and history but so much of what they learn are lost along the way. I for one don’t recall the answers to many of the things that are on my kids tests and homework but do I know how to treat people? Yes. If I could send my children into the world with any skill what would it be? Not the ability to master chemistry but the ability to be kind and compassionate. The ability to connect with others. To be a friend. To make others feel special. To make others feel loved. To build relationships.

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So many thought provoking quotes come to mind,

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak but there echoes are truly endless” – Mother Teresa
“Your wealth or status doesn’t make you. Your kindness and character do” – Venkat Desireddy
“My religion is very simple. Kindness is my religion” – Dalai Lama
“Compassion is a verb” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” – The Help
” If you can’t be kind, be quiet” – Unknown

On last nights Academy Awards, Frozen won for Best Original Song. Cause yeah, “Let it Go” has become the anthem for people everywhere, mostly woman it seems! In case you live in a  bubble (in my house it’s sung loudly over and over and over by my boys and myself), here is the official video for Let it Go. The writers, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, gave a great acceptance speech but my favorite was the part dedicated to their daughters, “Never let fear or shame keep you from celebrating the unique people that you are.” What a powerful thing to say to your children. Let them be who they are. Let them own their uniqueness. So much of our society is busy keeping of with the Joneses (not the Kardashians). Trying to fit molds. Competing with one another. For what? Be you. Own who you are. All of you. The good, the bad and the ugly. Don’t try and be someone else.

We live in a day and age (I sound so old — I’m pushing 40 you know!) but seriously. Things have changed in a major way. Our kids don’t just use names to hurt one another but they also have other tools at our disposable. Things like technology and social media. So that means we have a bigger audience. Which is terrifying. My child was called gay and let it roll right off of him. Thankfully he has a strong sense of who he is and knows that so many people say things just to get under each others skin. THANK GOODNESS my child deals with things like he does. I hope he always does. So many kids don’t. They take it to heart, they hurt, they don’t know how  to cope. Sadly you hear of kids changing schools because of bullying, teenagers committing suicide. All for what? A lack of kindness and empathy? Something has to change.

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Spread kindness and love. It is contagious. I promise. Oh, and have a lovely day!

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Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies

A couple of things, #1 – I love baking. I only want to sample said baked item and pass it on. Still, my butt and thighs hold on to that tiny taste. Sigh. #2 – My best intentions of keeping up on the blog {and keeping the content fun, fresh and current} fall to the wayside. Life just happens and days go by. Sigh again. I wish it would slow down just a tiny bit. Anyway, enough fluff. I wanted to share this delish little recipe that I found on Pinterest but it truly belongs to Averie Cooks. Her recipes have caught my eye a few times now. Mmmm goodness! Peanut butter was the desired ingredient and this recipe just looked simple and well, satisfying. It was. My taste testers all agreed. Two thumbs up!

Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies

Cookies

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 c unsalted butter
  • 1/3 c creamy peanut butter
  • 1 c light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 c old fashioned whole oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 c white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c peanut butter chips (I used more white chocolate chips as it’s what I had but you can sub whatever chips you’d like)

DIRECTIONS:

  • In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and peanut butter together.  This took me about 45 seconds on high.
  • Add the brown & white sugar to the melted butter & peanut butter mixture and stir.  Let sit til slightly cooled and then add the egg plus egg yolk. You don’t want to ‘cook’ your eggs in the hot mixture hence letting it cool. Add the vanilla and stir.
  • Then add the flour, oats, baking soda and stir.  This recipe stirs quite nicely. I tend to use my mixer for everything but these mixed great by hand.
  • Finally, add your chips.
  • Scoop dough using a cookie scoop and put on parchment paper lined baking sheets about 2 minutes a part. Bake at 325 for 10-12 minutes. I always seem to bake cookies at the longer time and they come out perfect.
  • Let cool slightly and then serve warm with a cold glass of milk. Yum!

 

Freshening Up — Office Nook Redo

Happy New Year! Welcome to the month of purging and organizing. I mean, you almost can’t avoid it as all of the stores have the  containers to make this easy for you on sale. In your face. So it just feels like you are ‘supposed’ to do it. Plus after months of shopping, cooking, decorating etc it just feels like the thing to do. That and working out but seriously. lets stay on task. I’m much better at organizing and purging my home them I am my diet and workout routines.

We have a little built in space that is honestly not used a whole lot. I tend to do all of my blogging and crafting in the kitchen cause I like to be where the action is. The office nook is at the top of our stairs and I feel a bit confined but it was built into our builder grade home so I like to utilize it the best I can. It currently houses kids craft stuff and all of our files are there as well. I added a few pretty yet functional boxes to dress up the space and hold craft supplies in a much prettier way. I also have a giant chalkboard for little bits of inspiration. Instead of standard pencil holders I bought some fun glass containers. By clicking on the photos below, you can see a larger version. For some reason I can’t get them to view bigger directly in this post without making them look like a stretched out pair of socks. Sad but true.

beforeandafterSources:

Chalkboard Boxes // Kirklands
Black Floral and Blue Fabric & Canvas Boxes // HomeGoods
Hobnail Jars {holding pencils} // Joann’s
Chalkboard Jars {large} // HomeGoods
Chalkboard Jars {small} // Kirklands
Chalkboard // My own creation
Metal Basket // HomeGoods
Chair // My own, covered in Fabric from Joann’s
Inspire Letters // Joann’s and Hobby Lobby, painted by me.
Curtain // Created by me using part of an old Ikea curtain
Printable // Someone is Happy  … at Somewhat Simple
Bulletin Board Frame // Marshalls
Instagram Prints // Social Prints Studio

Here are a few detailed photos of the finished project:

nookI hope you enjoy the space and are inspired to create your own bit of pretty within your own home.

New Year — New Goals

I prefer to call them goals and not resolutions. Resolutions seems so predictable and are often {OK, almost always} broken. I’m also trying to come up with my word of the year. I was torn between two but starting this post gave me the clarity that I needed to settle on one. The two I love  are ‘breathe’ and ‘focus’. I love them both but I have chosen breathe as my 2014 word. I might have to repeat it to myself a million times but hopefully I can get it to stick.  Both apply to my main goal of being more present and less stressed. If I can remind myself to just breathe in stressful situations then the focus comes. Or so I have been reminded by some of my super smart Facebook friends ;)

I’m playing over at Pinterest {and this is where focus or the lack of comes into play} and I found this great list of goals. I think it’s a great way to assess goals and by writing typing them out, I can maybe be a bit more accountable. I love this quote that I found on Pinterest. Little things are much more achievable and can still make us feel like we succeeded.

Focus

I also found this list over at Run Lucas Run. I think we will wrap up our Winter Break tomorrow as a family by having a yummy dinner and then we can each fill out these lists. There are actually two lists to download, one is for grownups and the other for kids. The kids version is so much more simple. Lucky kids.

2014I’m getting a jump start on mine to share with you.

A BAD HABIT I’M GOING TO BREAK: Getting so worked up about things that really aren’t worth it.
A NEW SKILL I’D LIKE TO LEARN: Canning 
A PERSON I HOPE TO BE MORE LIKE: This is a loaded question, there are so many people that inspire me.
A GOOD DEED I’M GOING TO DO: Dedicate more time to Hands 4 Hope
A PLACE I’D LIKE TO VISIT: The Oregon/Washington Coast.
A BOOK I’D LIKE TO READ: Fly Away by Kristen Hannah
A LETTER I’M GOING TO WRITE: Be more consistent in the letters I write to my boys.
A NEW FOOD I’D LIKE TO TRY: Eggplant — it kinda freaks me out.
I’M GOING TO BE BETTER AT: Using my time wisely/Gardening more/Being patient/Exercising and eating better  for my mental and physical health {not aiming for perfection but being better}/spending less and saving more/blog more

There you have it. My 2014 goals. Do you set goals or resolutions? I’d love to hear them and how you stick to them as well.

Cheers to a New Year. I hope 2014 is a good one for you!

 

 

Thanksgiving 2013 Menu

Thanksgiving-Autumn-Leaves

Happy Fall Y’all! A fellow blogger and friend of mine shared her Thanksgiving menu and I thought, “what a great idea”. So I am being a bit of a copy cat. Hopefully flattery will get me everywhere ;) Charene’s blog is Copper Lantern Cooking. I actually found her a few years back when she had a local cupcake business and was generous enough to donate to a fundraiser at my kids school. We have since become Facebook friends and recipe sharers. I love social media for just these type of friendships. I get to meet people that I otherwise would not and share fun things like well, food!

So let me preface by saying that I have a pretty straight forward, stick to the classics type of family. However, I like to mix it up so I’ve added a few things with flair.

Appetizers

  • Salami, cheese and crackers – we grew up with this on hand at every family function. My dad is adding deer salami which I do not like so I asked for regular ol’ salami for me.
  • Black olives – you know, for wearing on your fingers.
  • Deviled eggs — another dad specialty

Main Course

Desert

My dad is in charge of deserts. I am the queen of baking in my house but for Thanksgiving, I appreciate the pies that show up in my kitchen. We get various versions of apple pie from Apple Hill, a banana cream pie from Buttercream Bakery and the pumpkin pies are from Costco. Trust me, I make it up with the loads of cookies that I crank out throughout the rest of the holiday season. Oh, I’ll take a little credit cause I do make homemade whipped cream for the pies. Homemade. No canned or Cool Whip {yes, I know some people love it but I have to make the real stuff, I’ve even added a little bourbon for a kick.}

Do you host or travel for Thanksgiving? Do you have a standard menu or do you serve things unique? I’d love to hear about your families favorite recipes.

However you spend Thanksgiving, I wish you a happy one. Count your blessings everyday.

39 Things at 39 Years

I’m a thinker. Often times I am an over thinker. That can be good … and it can be bad. In this case, I think it’s good? ;) I am doing this little post about 39 things about me at 39 years. Yep. Lucky you. So here is the down low in bits and pieces. I also thought I’d include a silly family photo taken last week at Ocean Cove. Our final camping trip for 2013.

39

 

1. I feel deeply.
2. I react quickly — this could be any range of emotions. Happy, sad, mad, etc.
3. I over-analyze. I’m taking baby-steps to overcome this. It’s not easy.
4. I believe that everyone should be able to live as their true-selves without judgment. As long as it does not hurt others.
5. I love music and I am often dancing and singing in my car. Unless you pull up to me at a stoplight then I suddenly become still and quiet.
6. Organizing is an instant stress reliever for me.
7. I wish I exercised more but I don’t make it a priority. My exercises of choice are yoga and walking.
8. I follow the rule, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all”.
9. I find inspiration in others. We all possess super powers of some kind.
10. I love photographs yet I haven’t taken the time to truly learn photography.
11. I tend to freak out and then settle down once I get it out {some of my girlfriends are oh so lucky to be my sounding boards. To those of you, and you know who you are, I apologize for this and I also thank you from the bottom of my heart}.
12. Target is sometimes my version of therapy. So is HomeGoods and Marshalls.
13. Girlfriends are my religion.
14. I do not go to church. Religion is not a part of my world but my values match those of my friends that do attend church.
15. I have two rescue dogs, a cat that was found on a rock as a itty bitty baby by my dad and lots of fish that keep having to be replaced. I believe in rescuing animals. There are so many abandoned animals waiting for a forever home.
16. I love Lake Tahoe. Just sitting by the lake soothes my soul.
17. I love the ocean. The vastness of it scares me a bit but I love sitting on the shore and listening to the waves.
18. I love to bake. Trying out new recipes and hearing, “This is amazing” makes me happy.
19. I’m crafty. I make things.
20. I just tried sushi 3 years ago and I love it but I’d rather not know ‘exactly’ what it is that I am eating.
21. Fall is hands down my most favorite season of the year. I CAN NOT GET ENOUGH OF THIS SEASON yet it goes by much too quickly.
22. I feel like we live in a very noisy world. Technology, social media, smart phones — we have so much at our fingertips and true time outs are few and far between.
23. The above makes me worry about raising my kids in a world that is so different then how I grew up.
24. I love my boys. Hubby included. They are the center of my world
25. I think snow creates the most peaceful landscape. The world somehow feels quieter when blanketed in snow.
26. Instagram is awesome. Period. I’m at #thelocalhoney if you’d like to follow me.
27. My favorite food is Mexican. Or appetizers. I {heart} appetizers and could easily make a meal out of them.
28. I cherish my old friendships but I savor the new ones as well. I believe people come into our lives for a reason.
29. I am a complete chicken. A few of the things that terrify me the most: driving along the edge of a cliff without guard rails, roller-coaster rides and jumping off rocks into lakes. Yes, really. I am quite content at amusement parks IF I don’t have to ride anything that has drops in it.
30. Evening walks with my 10 year old make me happy. Especially because he still wants to hang with his mama.
31. The best humor comes from those who don’t try. Like my 8 year old. He says the funniest things.
32. I adore pedicures. Perfectly polished piggies make me feel ‘pulled together’.
33. I am way too addicted to my iPhone.
34. And my laptop.
35. I’m ‘running’ a 1/2 Marathon in October and I don’t run nor have I trained. I’m a bit annoyed with myself for signing up.
36. I am not competitive AT ALL. I think board games are all in fun. Aren’t we all winners? ;)
37. My two favorite songs at the moment are Blurred Lines and Brave.
38. I’m a social girl but I also really enjoy my alone time which is hard to come by. I take it when I can get it!
39. I am grateful for those of you who read my blog. I love writing and sharing with all of you.

There you go — 39 little things about me. Happy Thursday friends. Friday is only a day away!

Little Pieces of July

Something funny about me? I was born in July. However, I do not love summer. I love Fall. So why was I born in the summer? Why did I get married in the summer? Interesting uh? Well I can tell you this, since becoming a mama — I enjoy summer more. I feel like I am transported back to being a kid and feeling the freedoms of summer. When I was a kid, I was a lot more heat tolerant. Now a perfect summer day for me is 85 degrees. Yeah, that hot spell we had over the 4th of July? I was pretty much in a permanent bad mood all week. I tried to fake happy but I was melting on the inside and out. Yearning for a breeze, some fresh air that wasn’t coming out of an air conditioning vent and barely keeping the house tolerable. I won’t go on and on about how Fall is my favorite season. You can read all about that here and here. Before I get all lost in a season that hasn’t even arrived yet, let’s visit July. July was full of fun for our family. Day trips, birthdays, ice cream, July 4th, visits with family — it was an action packed month full of fun memories.

July 1 Collage

 

Some of my favorite parts of July 2013: Day trip to Silver Lake, Planning July 4th with my dear friend Stacie, celebrating my friend Kelly’s birthday {FYI: when the band doesn’t show, use a juke box to have a dance party and singalong}, kayaking with my family, Boeger Winery Sunset Sipping {Hangtown Cooler please!}, doing a little bedroom makeover for my littlest}, kids being creative with Legos, a day trip with my boys which included a hike, some lake time{and crawdad catching} and ice cream at Camp Richardson, back to school shopping, birthday creating and last but not least, celebrating Mason’s birthday on July 26th and wrapping the month up with my birthday which entailed a day trip to Sand Harbor.

I’d say by the looks of things, July was pretty awesome for us! Hope ya’all are enjoying the dog days of summer.

Summer Cocktails

It’s summertime and that means — yep, cocktails!! Not that you can’t have cocktails in the other seasons but there is something so refreshing about cocktails in the summertime. I love seeing how a slew of ingredients bring about something so yummy and delicious. I keep putting this post off assuming that I will pull it together and make/share a couple of my favorites and add pictures as well but … but … but .. you get the point. It’s not happening! The last time I had my two favorite concoctions was while camping and I just didn’t think to get photos. I will share the recipes with you though. You can just imagine how pretty they are in a glass with a cute lil straw.

Root-beer Float

My version doesn’t really entail any ice-cream but it tastes like a root-beer float. Anyone that has tried them is instantly hooked. First off, I am in love with these skinny glasses from Cost Plus. I have actually bought them for my girlfriends as they are a hot ticket around here. Add a straw and they are perfect for a pretty cocktail.

I add one shot of Whipped Vodka to a full glass of ice and then top with root beer. Voila. A simple and super tasty cocktail. Some people like to add whipped cream to the top. I think they are plenty sweet without.

Orange Julius with Whipped Vodka

These seem to be made a million different ways but this is how we make them. Now these are a main attraction while camping so they are served in non other then a Red Solo cup. I know, classy!

In a shaker combine: ice, 2 oz Whipped Cream Vodka, 1 oz Triple Sec, fill with OJ and then a squirt of canned whipping cream. Shake well and serve. This will serve two.

Both of these go down a little too easily so beware how quickly you feel the results if you know what I am saying.

I made this yummy sangria for the 4th of July. Again, I did not get a photo before it was all gone. What I loved the most is that it called for New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc which is the type of wine I always drink. It sold me on the recipe.

Summer Sangria at The Sassy Writer

sassywritersangria

 

Of course have a Pinterest Board which is dedicated to Entertaining and that is where I save these little gems for later. Check out some of the yummy things I hope to make soon. All recipes can be accessed by clicking on the drink title and source above the photos.

Mexican Sangria at Design Sponge

Mexican Sangria

Sour Cherry Gin Slings at Food & Wine

Sour Cherry Gin Slings

Cherry Moon at Grey Goose

recipe-cherrynoir-cherry-moon-feature

Frozen Cherry Margarita at Girlfriend Getaways

Girls-Night-In-Drinks-Frozen-Cherry-Margarita

Gin & Tonic {one of my faves} at Drizzle and Dip

gin and tonic

Cayman Lemonade at Islands

cayman-lemonade

The Frenchy Cocktail at Intoxicology

recipe-lapoire-frenchy-feature

Marshmallow Cake-tini Cocktail at Tablespoon

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These look like tantalizing cocktails. I’d love to hear if you have tried any of these and what you think. Oh my last round up does not come with a photo {although I had two last weekend and I can tell you that they were delicious} is a drink called the Va Va Voom and it was at a local spot called Sauced. It had vodka, muddled mint and lime, simple syrup and hard cider and was served on the rocks. It tasted like a carbonated lemonade. It was so yummy {and it may have caused excessive dancing, just sayin’}.

Come on over and check out my million and one other pins at Pinterest :) Just kidding, I only have 7, 257  pins.

Cheers to Summer my friends {even though I long for Fall}.

Parenting, My View from 10 Years in the field

My sis in law has made me an auntie to a super cute little guy. He turned 1 on March 10th and I have provided her ‘mommy advice’ since day one.  I don’t claim to be an expert by any means but I’ve been around the mommy block. Twice. Plus I have lots of mommy friends. I hear lots of stories, tips and insight. I take it all in. Because you never know what tricks other mommy’s have that could be the magic cure for your parenting er, situation.

Maverick

I love this sweet picture of my cute lil nephew.

I have two boys – they are polar opposites. The things they have in common:

  1. Same parents
  2. Daddy’s chin dimple
  3. Stubbornness
  4. The love of being in the water
  5. Sugar

I’m pretty certain that is it. They do not look alike. One is white blonde and fair and the other is dark blond and tans in two seconds. They have the most different personalities and likes. One likes to try new things and is quite the explorer, the other swears by carbs and meat and Legos and his iTouch. Seriously. Night and day is happening in my house.

 BrothersAren’t they cute?

What I’ve learned:

  • No two children are the same.
  • Parenting styles are different. That is OK.
  • It’s OK to ask for help. We are all human and parenting is a hard job. Period.
  • Be consistent. {The hardest thing but it really is worth the results!}
  • Love them.
  • Follow your gut.
  • Holding babies too much won’t spoil them. Plus it goes by fast. Enjoy those snuggles before they are are so big that carrying them kills your back. Trust me.
  • A good night of sleep makes all the difference in a good day or a bad day. Sleep train but use whatever method works for YOUR family.
  • No two parenting books are the same. Take what you can from them but they are not the Bible.
  • All babies start out with their own personalities. You will see that your parenting style will need to be tweaked with each child. My oldest requires me to be more firm and constant while my youngest is more sensitive so less firm works just fine.
  • Be honest. When they ask questions, give them answers. Again, they all process different so use words they will understand. Never shut down their curiosity. Communication is a door you will always want to leave open.
  • Give them freedom but also set limits. Tricky uh?
  • Love them even when they are naughty.
  • Teach them forgiveness.
  • Show them that even though people are different, we all deserve to be treated with love and respect.
  • Hug and kiss them every time you say goodbye and every night before bed.

I know the list can go on and on but these are some of my best bits and pieces. What parenting advice do you have to share? I’d love to hear it.