8 Things I’ve Learned About Being a Mom to Three Girls

8 Things I Have learned raising 3 girls

Raising a family is not easy.  It’s much more difficult than I ever imagined it would be, but the rewards and the lessons I’ve learned are also far greater than I could have imagined.  There is no better feeling than listening to my girls laugh together or show kindness toward one another.

Now knowing how quickly each stage of childhood passes, I’ve learned to embrace and enjoy each stage while it is here and face each new challenge as it comes up.  We’ve met some pretty difficult challenges along the way, but one thing I have learned is that they all pass.  When I’m faced with a new challenge, I simply remind myself that we will get through this just as we did in the past.

My daughters are currently ages 15, 13, and 10.  I know some of the most difficult years are probably just ahead of us and I’ve got so much more to learn, but here are the top 8 things they have taught me about life and parenting so far.

  1. Accept each of your children EXACTLY AS THEY ARE.  Acceptance is something we all seek as humans.  The greatest thing you can do for your children is to love them and accept them for who they are.  Each of us has been sent here for a unique purpose, and we were given the unique character traits needed to help us serve that purpose.  If you have more than one child, you know how different they can all be.  The best thing you can do for them is to let go of any expectations you have of them and encourage them to be themselves.  Your children were sent here to teach you things you need to learn about life just as much as you are here to teach them. Recognize that life is not a competition.  Every child cannot be the smartest, best-looking, most talented, most athletic, and most kindhearted child out there, but what they can be is themselves.  Embrace that and encourage that in each of them.
  2. Encourage them to shine.  We are all sent here to shine in our own way.  Each of us was born with a unique combination of gifts and talents that the world needs.  I have learned that my job is to help each of my girls discover her own unique gifts, help her to embrace those gifts, and encourage her to use them to make the world a better place.  I’ve learned that it’s important to expose my girls to different things to help them discover their own interests, but I have also learned not to force them to participate in activities they are not interested in, especially any unfulfilled dreams that I may have had.  My mission is to teach my girls how to be authentic and encourage them to follow their own dreams, not the expectations others may have of them.
  3. Never compare them.  Every child is different.  What works for one is not guaranteed or even likely to work for all of them.  I’ve learned to recognize that they are all individuals, and there is nothing they hate more than being compared to their sisters or to their peers.
  4. Don’t do things for your children that they can do for themselves.  I’ve realized that my job is to teach them how to survive so they are able to care for themselves in this world.  I am their teacher, not their slave.  I need to remind myself of this often because my girls are very good at seeing how much mommy will do for them.
  5. Make each one feel special.  I believe the best gift you can ever give to anyone is your undivided attention.  In our family, my husband and I make an effort to go on individual dates with each of our girls as often as possible.  My girls treasure this one-on-one time, and so do we.  They are always on their best behavior during these dates because they are not competing for our attention.
  6. Be Present.  Take time to stop and observe your children once in a while and give thanks for them.  Time goes by way too fast!  It is so important to make an effort to stop and take it all in every once in a while.  Make an effort to really listen to your child when she is talking to you, look at her and recognize the gift she has been in your life.  Don’t worry, the dishes will still be waiting when you’re done.  Recognize that each moment is a gift.  You are never guaranteed to have tomorrow with anyone.
  7. Teach them Self-Respect.  I believe there is nothing more important than teaching girls to love themselves as is and to respect their body and treat it as the beautiful gift that it is.  Teach them to become aware of the things they put in and on their bodies, to never tolerate disrespect from anyone, and to make good choices.  I believe the best way to do those things is through example.  Take care of yourself, and make your self-care a priority.  Let them see you participating in hobbies you enjoy.  They are always watching and listening, especially when we think they are not.
  8. Start New Traditions.  I LOVE traditions (and my girls do, too!)  Some of my favorite memories from my childhood involve traditions we had.  Some of them I chose to carry on to my family, and some I did not.  Do not be afraid to let go of old traditions and beliefs that do not work for you.  As a family, we have started some of our own  (see Valentine’s Day Wall of Love and Thanksgiving Turkey).  These are some of the things I think my girls will remember most from their childhood.

These are just a few of the main lessons I have learned from raising my girls so far.  I learn new things every day and with each challenge that arises.  Raising children is a big responsibility, and not an easy one.  It does take a village, so embrace those surrounding you at this stage in your life and work together to help one another.

What advice do you have about raising children?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

If you need help with acceptance (of your children or yourself), defining your beliefs, or learning to be more present, my book The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge is a guided journal that was designed to help with that.

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Recipe: Blueberry Pie

Blueberry Pie logo.jpg

It’s the time of the year that my daughters and I love the most – blueberry picking season! We traditionally go on many blueberry picking excursions during this season.  Most of the time, we eat the berries just as they are, but we also enjoy baking them into delicious recipes.  Blueberry pie is a yearly tradition in our home – we make it once each year using freshly picked berries.  We have tried several recipes throughout the years, but this one from Allrecipes.com is our favorite so far.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 pastry for a 9-inch double crust pie
  • 1 Tablespoon butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°
  2. Mix sugar, cornstarch, salt, and cinnamon. Sprinkle over blueberries.
  3. Line pie dish with one pie crust. Pour berry mixture into the crust.  Dot with butter. IMG_7014.JPG
  4. Top with remaining pie crust.  Crimp and flute edges.
  5. Bake pie on lower shelf of oven for about 50 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.  Be sure to place a pan or foil underneath it to catch any drippings.

Next time we make this, we are going to attempt to make individual pies rather than one big one.  I will update this post if we are successful.  Happy pie-eating! 🙂

 

 

Valentine Activity: Wall of Love

 

VALENTINE WALL OF LOVE 

Wall of Love 2016 logo

I LOVE family traditions, and my kids do, too.  Some of my greatest memories from my childhood are of family traditions.  When my girls are grown, I hope our traditions are something they will look back on and recall as some of the greatest moments of their childhood.  I know I will certainly treasure these memories forever.

Here is a fun new tradition that we started in our family last year.  I call it our Valentine’s Wall of Love.  We used tape to hang a huge poster board on our door.  On the poster board, we drew a heart for each member of the family and wrote their name inside.  Then, each family member writes things they like about each other in their hearts.  Here is last year’s poster:

2015 Wall of Love

Last year, we kept the poster up for a few weeks.  My girls love reading all the nice things that everyone writes about them, and I feel like it brings us closer together as a family.  This is a tradition I can see us keeping for years to come.

Every February, as a family we participate in the February Acts of Kindness Challenge.  Basically, the challenge is for each of us to do at least one act of kindness each day throughout the month of February.  We each have a log on the refrigerator to track our progress.  This Wall of Love project made it very easy for us to complete our Act of Kindness for the day.  Anyone is welcome to join us in the challenge at any time.  Simply join the February Acts of Kindness Challenge Facebook group, and begin spreading your love.  We love it when people share their own acts of kindness stories to the group or other kindness stories they encounter.

I got the idea for this “Wall of Love” from Harvard Homemaker last year on her Facebook page.  We have adapted it a bit for our family, but here is her original blog post describing the activity.

You can certainly use poster board or kraft paper and write on them with markers if you wish.  That is the easiest and quickest way to make this, but if you would like it to be a little more uniform, I have included the images that I used to make this year’s poster.  Feel free to print them out and use them as you wish (they are all JPG’s, so click on the image you would like.  Then, right click and select “Save image as” to save to your computer.  Then you can print them or edit them as you wish.)  If you want to make your own, PicMonkey is a great, free tool that can help you design something that suits your family (PicMonkey is what I used to design all of these images).

2016 valentine label  Happy Valentine's DayDad heart blue mom heart purple Things I love about you feb 2016Blank Heart

I hope you enjoy this project, and I hope it becomes a family tradition that your family will treasure for years to come as well!  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Update 2/8/17 – Here is the 2017 image:

2017-valentine-label

Strawberries: 9 Reasons to Pick Your Own

strawberries 9 reasons to pyo

Nothing says summer like fresh strawberries!  Pick-Your-Own Strawberries is just beginning in our area of Massachusetts this week, and we couldn’t be more excited!  Yesterday, my daughters and I just went on our first berry-picking excursion of the season at our favorite local berry farm.  I’m sure it will be the first of many because strawberries don’t stay around for long in our house before my girls devour them!

Here are 9 reasons why we love to pick our own strawberries:

June 22, 2014 051

1.  It’s fun! 

Strawberry picking signals the beginning of summer for me, and it is like a little scavenger hunt finding the perfect strawberries to feed my family.

2.  It costs less.

A quart of strawberries at our local farm stands cost about $6.50, but if you pick your own and bring your own containers, you can get considerably more strawberries for the same price.  You may be able to get them “on sale” at the grocery store for much less, but the quality is nowhere near that of the strawberries you pick for yourself.

3.  They are fresher.

June 29, 2014 007

Can’t get any fresher than picked right off the plant!

4.  They taste better.

Picked at the peak of ripeness, my girls think strawberries taste better than candy! (I LOVE that!) 🙂

5.  Great pictures.

I LOVE taking pictures, and strawberry fields are a wonderful location to get some great shots!

6.  Support local farmers.

Keeping your money in the community and helping other local families is always a good thing!

7.  Healthier – fewer chemicals.

Even if your local farm isn’t “certified” organic, many of them do not spray pesticides directly onto the fruit, especially if they are allowing you to pick your own.  Talk to your farmers to find out their exact procedures, but generally in talking with my local farmers I have found that their practices are much safer than that of commercially grown produce.   Just being able to talk to the farmer is a benefit in itself.  Although strawberries are part of the “dirty dozen” and it is recommended to always buy organic, I would buy local strawberries that are not organic over organic strawberries in the supermarket any day!

8.  It’s better for the environment.

Buying local reduces your carbon footprint.  Make sure to bring your own containers to save money and eliminate the need for packaging.

9.  You get to choose the strawberries you like best! 

There’s nothing worse than paying a premium price for strawberries in the grocery store, only to have to throw away half the container because the strawberries are rotten or not suitable for eating.  Picking your own ensures that you are only paying for the BEST strawberries.

If you’re wondering what to do with all of the delicious strawberries you have picked, be sure to check out my blog post Strawberries: 9 Ways to Eat Them.

Note:  This was also posted on my blog Journey To Complete Wellness.

Movie Review: The Lorax

The Lorax

lorax

My Rating ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Earth Day is coming up on April 22!  I love Earth Day, and I think The Lorax is the perfect movie to celebrate Earth Day.  The Lorax focuses on the importance of respecting and protecting the environment…a message I think is so important and something we all need to be reminded of every once in a while.  The Lorax is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I love that it is a movie the whole family can watch together.  For the past few years, we have watched it every year on Earth Day…it has become a tradition the whole family looks forward to!

Summary

Ted is a 12-year-old boy who lives in Thneedville, a walled city where everything is artificial.  Ted is seeking the one thing that will win him the affection of Audrey, the girl of his dreams who wishes to see a real tree. To find it, he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world.  Find a more detailed summary here.

Watch the trailer here.

Here is my favorite quote from the movie:

lorax quote

Our Easter Tradition: Fruit Shaped Bunny

I love traditions!  I especially love creating new traditions and making wonderful memories with my family.  This fruit salad has become one of our favorite Easter traditions.  We made it last year for the first time, and my daughters couldn’t wait to make it again this year.  It was the perfect healthy snack to balance out all the Easter candy they filled up on all day.  What I love best of all is that they devoured it just as fast as the Easter candy!  It is a healthy and fun tradition that I will be happy to continue each year.  This is how my girls made it, but feel free to use your own creativity and use the fruit you like best and have on hand.

Fruit Shaped Bunny Recipe Our Easter TraditionIngredients

  • 1 pineapple, cored and sliced into bite-sized cubes
  • 2 pounds strawberries, washed and quartered
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and then cut in half and sliced into semicircles
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cheese stick
  • block of white cheese (we used sharp cheddar) OR a slice of pear (for teeth)

Directions

  1. In a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish, add the blueberries to the bottom inch of the pan.
  2. Next, shape the pineapple so there are two bunny ears and a round/oval head.  We discovered that the smaller the pineapple bits, the easier it was to shape.  Ours probably should have been a little smaller, but my girls were happy with the way it came out so I didn’t want to re-do their work.
  3. Outline the bunny with the strawberries (or whatever other fruit you have a lot of).
  4. Add a few blueberries for each eye.
  5. Use one quarter of a strawberry for the nose.  Break up the string cheese into six strings.  Add 3 whiskers on each side of the nose.
  6. Use kiwi (or fruit of your choice) to add on top of the ears.  Again, the smaller the bits of fruit, the easier it is to shape.  I think ours could have been smaller, but the girls were happy with the way it came out so I didn’t interfere.
  7. Finally, cut two small strips from the block of cheese to make the teeth (or you could use pears or anything else white and edible that could be shaped to look like teeth.
  8. Enjoy!! 🙂

Here is our bunny from last year:

April 19, 2014 easter bunny fruit 2014

Feel free to get creative and enjoy the process!  Who knows, maybe it will become one of your new favorite Easter traditions, too! 🙂

Recipe: Irish Soda Bread – A St. Patrick’s Day Tradition

March 17, 2015 Irish Soda Bread

Homemade Irish Soda bread is one St. Patrick’s day tradition my family has adopted over the past few years.  Until about 5 years ago, I had never even tried it.  Growing up in a French Canadian family in Maine, we did not celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  We may have worn green, but that was about as far as my family went when it came to recognizing the holiday.  When my husband and I moved south of Boston about 15 years ago, we settled into a very Irish community.  We quickly learned some fun St. Patrick’s Day customs, and we have happily adopted them into our own family.

Irish Soda Bread is one tradition we look forward to every year on St. Patrick’s Day.  This is the only day of the year I will make it, so that makes it even more of a special treat.  I usually have it waiting for my girls when they get home from school, and they devour it in no time!

This is a very simple Irish Soda Bread recipe I found a few years ago, and I have made it every St. Patrick’s Day since.  It is called Amazingly Easy Irish Soda Bread from Allrecipes.Com.   I modified it slightly because I do not use margarine (I always prefer to use REAL butter because I do not consider margarine a real food.)  Also, I found that the bread cooked quicker than the time specified in that recipe.  My girls think it tastes exactly like KFC biscuits.  If you love KFC biscuits, give this recipe a try and find out for yourself.  My recipe is below.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup butter, melted (for topping)
  • ¼ cup buttermilk (for topping)

Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
    2. In a large bowl (or in a stand mixer), mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ½ cup butter.
    3. Stir in 1 cup buttermilk and egg.
    4. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly.
    5. Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet.
    6. In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup melted butter with ¼ cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture.
    7. Use a sharp knife to cut an “X” into the top of the loaf.
    8. Bake approximately 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.