Students At Home

For Everyone Who Learns at Home

Birthday Month Celebration Week 2

I’m continuing my month-long birthday celebration, and it feels great! Self-care is so often neglected, but I’m determined to continue creating time each day to celebrate me and the things that bring me joy.

Here’s how I celebrated this week.

Day 3: We have bananas, ice cream, peanut butter and chocolate sauce in the house, so I made a sundae! And I savored every bite! To cut the sweetness (I’ve made an active choice to limit sweets this summer), I fixed a cup of black coffee and savored it, too. Delicious!

Day 4: I tossed a pair or ratty pajama shorts into the trash can today. The elastic is stretched and exposed, and there are holes where there should not be holes! 😉 I hate spending money on new clothes, but today I gave myself permission to toss this item of clothing and add “new pair of shorts” to my shopping list. It feels good to give myself permission to wear clothing that looks good and brings me joy. Oh – I also drove to the library and pharmacy alone! How sweet it was to enjoy silence in the car on my drive into town and to choose the radio station I wanted on the drive home!

Day 5: Fresh peaches for lunch! My favorite fruit! 🙂  And hubby and I shared a pleasant afternoon chatting as we watched TV. I’m grateful for these moments!

peaches

Day 6: I gave myself permission to take the entire day off work! It felt so refreshing and empowering not to power up my laptop!

Day 7: My daughter gave me the first four presents of my birthday month! They’re each folded neatly and wrapped in aluminum foil and newspaper (one layer for day 1, two layers for day 2, etc.). How fun!

irene's birthday gifts to me august

I also returned a library book today before it was due. Library fines are tax-deductible, but I always appreciate when I remember to be responsible and don’t have to pay a fine. 🙂

Day 8: While waiting for my daughter today, I read a book instead of playing on my phone. That permission to relax and do something I like made me feel content.

Day 9: While sipping my morning coffee, I heard a bird chirping. I paused a minute to listen to the song and realized how much joy I felt from this simple act. Sometimes, treats surprise me with their simple yet profound impact!

I also enjoyed lunch at Red Robin with a friend. And because of a gift card and my free birthday burger, our meal cost only $5.12!

Day 10: This morning, I tried to work on an assignment, but my brain just wasn’t working. I finally decided to wash dishes – I always feel better when my sink is clean! I then prepared a cup of cinnamon coffee, savored a small scoop of chocolate ice cream and listened to the Parachute Band on YouTube. That 20-minute treat brightened my mood, helped me relax and made me smile!

 

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Happy Birthday Month To Me!

My birthday is not until the end of the month, but I celebrate every day in August because why not!?!? 🙂
A few years ago, I decided that life is too short not to celebrate me, so as part of my self-care, I throw myself a mini party every day in August! So far, I’ve:
Day 1: Treated myself to two small scoops of mint chocolate chip ice cream. I prefer Moose Tracks or Turkey Hill’s Double Dunker, but this is the only flavor in our freezer right now. And I let it sit out a bit so it was melted around the edges just the way I like it. Yum!
Day 2: Met a friend at the Target Starbucks and enjoyed a coffee with cinnamon and vanilla sprinkles and a much-needed talk!
Stay tuned for more birthday adventures! 🙂
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What are your favorite ways to celebrate your birthday?
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Best Crayons for Hot Summer Weather

On a family vacation to Valley Forge and Philadelphia, my parents, sister and I toured Betsy Ross’s house, saw the Liberty Bell and picnicked on the site of the Revolutionary War soldiers’ camp.

It was an exciting vacation, but the drive was well over three hours. To keep us entertained, we took crayons and a coloring book.

Unfortunately, it was so hot in the car that our crayons melted all over the rear window dash!

Don’t let that happen to you this summer! Take crayons that won’t melt inside a hot car.

crayon meltThe winning crayons (i.e. the brand that melts the slowest in hot temperatures) is Cra-Z-Art from Walmart. The loser is Scholastic.

It’s okay, though, if you don’t want to buy new crayons. Simply pack your crayons in a plastic bag and place them in thermal bag with an ice pack or frozen water bottle. They’ll stay nice and cool and will be ready to color when your kids need a playtime activity in the car on hot summer days.

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Five Easy Security Tips for Your New Home

Whether you’re moving out on your own for the very first time, finally found your dream home or are downsizing for retirement, security in your new home is important. I’ve moved a few times over the years, and security is always one of the first things on my mind. That’s why I compiled these top security tips. Don’t worry – they’re easy!

1. Close your blinds. Burglars like looking through windows to see what valuables you own, and they easily gain access through first floor windows. Keep your blinds closed to deter anyone from looking into your home!

2. Replace the door hinge screws. Did you know that most door hinge screws are super tiny? They’re easy to bust off during a break-in, so replace them with long screws.

door hinge screws

3. Watch your trash. Believe it or not, your trash reveals a lot about your home’s contents! Packing materials advertise that you’ve just moved in, and television or electronics boxes tell thieves that you own expensive stuff that’s easy to sell. Take any revealing items or boxes like these directly to the recycling center or landfill as you protect your home.

4. Change the locks. In a few minutes, you can change the door knobs and locks. Bonus tips: if you live in a dorm and can’t change the locks, ask for a new lock right away, and don’t give anyone a copy of your key!

5. Install fake cameras. Even if you don’t connect it – or it’s broken! – hang a surveillance camera near your home’s entrances and deter burglars.

These are my five easy security tips for a new home. What other security tips do you recommend?

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Dish Duty Comedy

So our dishwasher broke the other month.

I thought it simply needed a good cleaning, so I took out the wracks, got on my hands and knees, and scrubbed out as much grime as I could reach. Then I turned it onto the clean cycle.

No dice.

Instead of getting clean, smoke came flying out of the machine.

Guess what that means? Yup, I’m washing dishes by hand!

Normally, I make dinner and listen to NPR, call and chat with a friend or my sister, or turn on my YouTube playlist while I wash the dishes. But last week, I decided to do something different.

I listened to Chondra Pierce.

Oh.My.Word! She’s hilarious!

I laughed so hard and almost burned a few dinners while listening to her. And instead of grumbling while washing the evidence that my family is well fed, I laughed and left the kitchen feeling joyful, energized and ready to be present with my family.

So tell me. What other comedians/comediennes should I add to my dish duty playlist?

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Disaster Falls: a review

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What a touching book about love and loss. I couldn’t put this book down! My heart was in my throat the entire time, and I constantly felt ready to cry, hoping I never experience the same situation!

During a family vacation, the Gerson family loses their son Owen while white water rafting at Disaster Falls. Father Stephane spends the next months writing all hours of the day and night because he had “no words.” Meanwhile, Owen’s mother coped with the loss by moving constantly, expending the energy she would have put into parenting her son. Owen’s brother Julian sometimes made demeaning comments about Owen to preserve his authentic self instead of seeing him as a hero.

This book touched me as a mother. I cannot and do not want to imagine the pain of losing a child! But if I did, I would write about it, too.

Here are the most touching thoughts from the book.

When he was still alive, Owen thought his dad was a wuss because he was scared. Stephane wondered if an 8-year-old can understand the dangers of the world. “Can they grasp the burden of responsibility? Someone has to look after kids. Someone, I told myself, had to be scared a lot.””

Stephane questioned if he would have made a different decision on the rapids if he had learned as a child to trust his instinct, asset himself and say no when necessary. I question the same for myself and am doing the hard work of finding my voice so I can speak out when necessary.

 

he family vowed to stick together no matter what. Would we have strength to do the same? It’s too easy to blame, withdraw and handle grief alone rather than reaching out to your loved ones.

 

While listing likes and dislikes about Owen, Stephane sometimes learned toward strife because it is easier to mourn a difficult or tortured child than one who enjoyed all facets of life. I can totally understand this! We need to make sense of loss, even if we use irrational or false means.

 

The sadness kept surfacing without warning, but the sorrow evolved, the pain morphed and the body adapted. A grieving parent has the right to curl up and cry but cannot allow the grief to consume you. How would I do this?

While the last part of the book was a bit tedious with details of a lawsuit, I highly recommend this book and would definitely read it again.

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Tuesday’s Tip: Cut Credit Card Interest

Anyone else like to save money?

 

cash

I sure do! I cut coupons and use Groupon and Living Social for restaurant and entertainment savings. I even shop at thrift stores, discount grocery stores and the dollar store whenever possible.

My desire to save money prompted me to sign up for daily emails from Dollar Stretcher Tips. Almost every day, I learn unique tips for saving money on everything from groceries to home improvements.

In today’s email, I learned something new about paying off credit cards. It’s going to help me, and maybe it will help you too!

 

When should you pay your credit card bill? That depends on whether you carry a balance or not.

If you don’t carry a balance, you should wait until the last day to pay your bill. You won’t be charged any interest unless you miss your due date.

If you have a balance from previous months, you want to get your payment in as soon as you can. You’ll be charged interest until the day your payment is credited to your account. If you get the bill on the 20th and don’t pay until the 30th, you’ll add a third of a month’s worth of interest to your account…that’s no bargain!

 

Want more money-saving tips? Sign up for The Dollar Stretcher!

And as always, feel free to share your favorite tips here so we can all save a little dough! Thank you!

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Meet Julia, the Sesame Street Puppet With Autism

I’ve always been a Sesame Street fan. I remember watching the show as a child (Bert, Mr. Snuffleupagus and Slimey were my favorite characters!), and I introduced my kids to it. We watched every morning. My daughter especially loved Elmo!

This week, I learned that a new puppet is joining the show. Her name is Julia, and she has autism.

Autism is a spectrum, and every child experiences it differently. That means Julia won’t represent every kid with autism, including my son. However, I am encouraged that such an influential show is including a puppet with the disorder that affects one in 48 children. And the other characters eagerly welcome her into their neighborhood and look for ways to include her as they play.

Want to learn more? Watch Sesame Street! Or check out these links.

60 Minutes

The Autism Daddy

 

 

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Are You Speaking Your Spouse’s Love Language?

love

Several times a week, I send “thank you” texts to my husband. Sometimes, I thank him for something special he did for me or the kids or I’ll share something I like about him. I know he won’t text back – even though he reads all the texts I send, he’s too busy working to answer – but I still send him regular texts.

As I sent him yet another text today thanking him for working so hard for us, I realized I’m NOT speaking his love language. I’m speaking MY love language!

love-languages

My love language is words of affirmation. If he’d send me all the texts I send him, I’d be in love heaven!

However, his love language is quality time and acts of service. He feels loved when I make his breakfast without complaining, sighing or rolling my eyes, and he appreciates when I sit and watch TV with him at night instead of working on my computer.

I am challenged today to take another look at my actions. Am I truly showing my husband that I love him? If not, what can I do to change? Sometimes, small tweaks to our actions can make a big difference to our spouse!

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day and true love this month, may we give our spouse’s what THEY need rather than what we need.

John 15:12-13: “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”

 

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When Your Child Hurts

My daughter loves our local community theater group. It’s designed for kids from grades four to 12, and everyone, no matter how well they sing and dance, gets a part.

For the past two years, my daughter played a part in the chorus. She sings, dances and in general has fun on stage. This year, she was hoping for a speaking part and even joined the school chorus so she could become a better singer.

Since November, she’s talked about rehearsing for the audition, which involves singing a short song and sharing a monologue. Unfortunately, auditions yesterday did not go well.

Today, she found out that she’s a villager once again.

As soon as she discovered her role, her face fell. I saw the disappointment on her face, and she quickly excused herself to go to bed.

Before she retreated to her room, I hugged her goodnight and told her she’ll make an amazing villager. I felt her body tense and heard her softly start to cry. My heart broke as I held her.

What could I say to ease her pain?

disappointment

I silently prayed and then told my precious child that I am proud of her for auditioning – it’s a big deal to stand in front of three adults in a small room and sing and talk! I also told her that I’m excited to watch her and hope she can find joy in her role. Since she’s a villager, she’ll be in at least half of the scenes, and some of her friends are also villagers.

I’m not sure my words did much to make my darling feel better, but I pray she remembers her value. It’s not determined by the role she wins in a play! And I pray she continues to put her all into rehearsals and enjoy this year’s theater season.

I also pray that she turns to God for comfort. I can hold and encourage her, but I can’t heal the pain she feels. Only God can do that.

What about you? How do you comfort your kids when they hurt?

Prayer: “Father, please hold my child tonight. She’s hurting, and I’m hurting for her. I ask you to hold her close and remind her of your incredible love for her. Also, may she remember her worth. Thank you for entrusting her to me and for being her Father, and thank you for giving me wisdom!”

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