Single parents have my admiration and respect.

Today, my son is sick. I am working night shift and so my husband is at home caring for him. He is doing that as well as being the taxi driver for our 14 year old, Emily, and the cook and whatever else comes up that needs to be taken care of. This definitely isn’t the first time my husband has been there by himself with our children when they were sick and I was at work. We have been married 21 years with 3 children that are 19, 14, and 10 years old. He will take off work tomorrow and take Andrew to the doctor so I can sleep. I have never had to worry about whether he would be there to help. He’s always been there helping with our children. I am more than blessed.

I remember a conversation I had 19 years ago with our now retired pediatrician, Dr. Fred Barnett. He told me something his mother had told him when he and his wife were expecting their first child. He said, “Being a parent is one of the greatest joys in our life and if done right, is one of the hardest.” His mother was a very wise woman and today I couldn’t agree with her more. Being a parent is hard. I can’t imagine what it would be like doing it on my own.

So this week’s blog post is a salute to all of the single parents out there who are doing it on their own and doing it well. I admire and respect each and every one of you.

This week’s action points are for all of us parents, but most importantly single parents. Find some time for yourself. Take care of yourself, love yourself, and be proud of what you are accomplishing with your children. You are AWESOME!!!


8 ways to promote a healthy body image and lifestyle to our kids.

Jenny Hester

Jenny Hester

Last week I posted a thank you to Meghan Trainor for promoting positive body image for our girls. This week, I wanted to follow up on that with some research on how to help our girls with a positive body image. According to the Center for Disease Control and National Association of Eating Disorders, by age 6 girls start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. Additionally, around half of elementary school girls are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat.

We as parents can help our girls in several different ways.

Be role models for living a healthy lifestyle. We need to be teaching our kids about proper nutrition and how foods affect our bodies. Help our kids understand that eating fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats are for taking care of the body, not just losing weight.

Media images are not reality. We have to discuss with our girls that what Hollywood and the media promotes on TV is not reality. Explain that there is a difference between being healthy and being thin.

Help them feel good about themselves. Helping others and giving back is one of the best ways to feel good about ourselves. Let’s help our kids find ways to give back and let them feel the positive emotions that this creates within.

Don’t voice our concerns over our own weight. If we need to lose a few pounds, we don’t want to verbalize this in front of our kids. Make the necessary changes in our own lifestyle to lose the weight in a positive healthy way. Believe me, our kids will take notice that we are living a healthier lifestyle.

Surround the kids with positive influences. Be sure we do not allow good intentioned family members or friends to say anything to our kids about their weight. Help the kids to have positive role models in their life.

Purge the kitchen of junk food. Having “treats” around the house is tempting for all of us, so make sure that we are keeping healthy snacks that are prepared in the kitchen. When you come home from the grocery, cut up some fruits and vegetables and have them ready to go for the kids.

Get active. Play with your kids. Get out in the yard or go to the park and play ball. Ride bicycles along your favorite path. Take the family for walks together. This not only encourages exercise, but also family talking time.

Cook with your kids. My kids have always loved to be in the kitchen cooking with me. Look up recipes with your kids, Pinterest has great ideas, on how to cook healthy meals and let them participate. They will take more interest in their new healthy lifestyle when they feel that they are contributing.

Our kids need our help and guidance in this world. If you have a child who is struggling with body image or eating disorder you can check the National Eating Disorders website to get ideas on how to help your child.

Make sure to plan at least 2-3 activities this week with your child for play and exercise. Have a great week and share your AWESOME with the world.


Be the person you want to come home to.

Lori Vowels Photography

Lori Vowels Photography

I’m sad to say that for far too many years my unhappiness was everyone else’s fault. I knew I would be happy if I had a different job. I would be happy when the kids were older, so I didn’t have to do everything for them. I would be happier if my husband would help more around the house. I would be happier if this person driving in front of me would at least drive the speed limit. Everyone around me controlled the power to make me happy, but they weren’t cooperating. That’s a tough way to live. What’s even worse is, I was not aware that I was doing this. It seemed as if the majority of people I knew lived this way. They talked negatively about their circumstances, their relationships, and their work. It just seemed like I was living life the way it was meant to be lived. I was wrong.

The first key to making change in your life is deciding that you need change. One of my first decisions was to be the person that I wanted to come home to. Think about what you want to come home to after a long day. I wanted the house straightened up, homework finished, dinner cooked, and someone to meet me at the door with a smile and a hug. Today, I try to be that person for my husband and kids. No one wants to walk in and be blown out of the water by negatives and stress. Our homes are our safe havens. We should make them feel that way. Thinking of myself less and others more have made me a better person. We are all made with selfish tendencies so this is not an automatic switch. At times I still fail, but I pick myself up and try again.

Put yourself in other people’s shoes today. It’s a wonderful feeling to be a giver instead of a taker. I still need to remind myself of what I need to be doing at home, but it’s slowly forming into a new habit. Let me know what changes you are making at your home today. You can leave a comment below or send me an email at Make your home your safe haven and show your family how awesome you are.

Are you taking this for granted?

My fisherman.

My fisherman.

I was spending my day working at home on my blog and upcoming book. The kids were hanging out playing on the Xbox. I decided to read a blog from Sherry Carver who writes and helps blended families. Although I do not have a blended family, her advice applies to my family as well. Sherry was writing about taking things for granted in our lives. You can check out her article here. “Every family has a story.” What resonated with me at the time was, here I am off work for a few days, my kids are out of school and I am spending my time staring at a computer. I was taking the time with my kids for granted. Someday when they are grown I won’t have these opportunities. So I made an executive decision to put aside the task that needed attention and focused my attention on more important things.

I went inside and asked my two youngest if they wanted to go do something. I even made suggestions of going to see a movie or bowling. Both of them replied, “We want to go to the farm”. I come from a farming family and my two brothers still live on and farm the ground. I agreed, so we loaded up and drove the 40 minutes to the farm. Emily wanted to ride around on the golf cart and Andrew wanted to fish. I spent a beautiful fall like day fishing with my 9 year old son and watching my 13 year old drive around the lake occasionally stopping to chat with us. I got to sit and look my son in the eyes and just talk about whatever came up.

Thank you Sherry Carver for reminding me to enjoy what we have and live in the moment. I spent an afternoon that I will never regret, even if my work doesn’t get done on time. I chose the best of my two options. Do you take advice from others to assess your priorities? I could have ignored what I heard in my heart, but I’m sure glad I didn’t. Listen to your heart and take time to enjoy what you have now, before it’s too late. Go share your AWESOME with someone you love today. Yes, that is a picture of Andrew and one of his many catches.

My wish for you.

I drove about 45 minutes to a funeral home the other day. The mother of one of the girls I work with had passed away. Typically when I drive, I either have the radio off and enjoy the quiet or I listen to podcasts. This particular day I plugged in my iphone because the battery was running low. When I plugged it in, the music on the iphone began to play. I decided to listen to some of the music this particular day and just enjoy the scenery. I did this on the way to the funeral home and on the way back. About 15 minutes before I got home, the song, “My Wish”, by Rascal Flatts began to play. I think this is the first time I had really focused on the words to the song. As I listened, my mind went to my soon to be 18 year old daughter, Cammy. The words in the song are what I wanted to tell her. That her dreams stay big and her worries stay small. That wherever she goes she knows that she is loved. (Click for lyrics.)

Before I knew it, tears were rolling down my face. I wasn’t sad about her becoming 18  or that she would soon be moving out and on with her life. I was sad because I thought about all of the time I had wasted not being fully present in her life. I always had the future or a worry on my mind. When I prepared for special occasions at my house it was usually last minute and thrown together. I always seemed to be busy to sit down and plan. This is one thing that I want to change in my life. I want to enjoy today. I want to enjoy the present. I want to enjoy my kids. The fact that I recognize this flaw is a start.

I know I am changing as a person and growing in new ways every day. I have become an avid reader. I mainly read about things that I want to change in me. Then, I pray. Becoming aware of where we need to grow is instrumental in growth. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up over these things that we need to change, but be aware and learn about them.

One way to be mindful and fully present in the moment is to notice things around you. Stop and notice the trees. Notice the leaves on the trees and the intricate details. Notice what your kids are doing. Watch the expressions on their face. Notice their smiles. Listen to the difference in their laughs. Be present in the moment. Are there other ways that you are present in the moment? What can you do to be more mindful of your surroundings? Take a break this week and see if you are living in the moment.

Why our kids need to earn their own money?

My kids are like everybody else’s kids, they like to have and spend money. I don’t want to just hand over the cash at their every whim because that sends the wrong message. I like to pay my kids by the job. My oldest daughter babysits for her two younger siblings at times and she earns money from that job. One thing she knows is that she should work for her income. She also has a part time job at the local movie theatre. She recently decided to take a trip to the beach on spring break. With that decision came the understanding that she would have to come up with spending cash. She has sent out texts to friends and family concerning her dilemma of needing to raise cash. She let them know that she is available to house sit, babysit, or dog sit. She has asked for more hours at work and hit me up for extra chores at home. I see getting my windows cleaned this spring.What this does for our kids:

1)      Teaches responsibility

2)      Builds self-esteem

3)      They need to know how to earn a living, that life is not a free ride.

4)      They realize they are productive members of society

5)      They learn financial responsibility

This is a valuable lesson that our children need to learn. They also need to be able to feel good about themselves. Talk to them about why you want them to earn money on their own. Share with them what you are trying to teach them. Yes, I am sure they will complain at first, but someday they will thank you. This is a great way to Invite Excellence into your children’s Life. Don’t deny them the opportunity to let their AWESOME shine.

New unique service offered.

I love new and unique ideas. When someone comes out with helpful services I feel drawn to share that with others. A new service was just created by a friend of mine for blended families.  This is a highly needed service today due to all of the divorce and people trying to start over in second marriages. Sherry L. Carver offers sound advice on combining families in second marriages.

Sherry Carver

Sherry Carver

Sherry has worked as a Family Law Paralegal for 15 years. She says she was drawn to that aspect of law because she was a child of divorced parents, is a divorced parent, is in a second marriage and a step-parent. Sherry’s first-hand experience with divorce and experience in working with those getting divorced has given her great insight into blended families.

I have not heard of anyone else offering this service and it’s a great opportunity for others. She brings many issues to light that I think are not even considered when contemplating divorce. Her guiding is for first, second and subsequent marriage couples. She addresses blended family issues, finances and communication to build strong couples preparing to achieve their goals.

Sherry realizes the issues that come with remarriage.  Most couples think that once divorced, the hard work is over, but divorce creates many new issues such as: two residences (and the bills that go along with it); children going back and forth and trying to make a home; becoming a one parent home and watching your ex-spouse take on a new life without you.

She has great insight in working through these issues and guides blended families through these difficult times. If you are in a blended family or are thinking about divorce, my hope is that you would contact Sherry for some valuable input into your decision. Sherry’s hope is to build strong couples who are well-prepared for the discord that lives in every blended family and who will work together for their family goals.

We are told to seek wise counsel when making decisions and Sherry offers extremely wise counsel. How great would it be to have someone in your corner to guide you through the new challenges that you are facing? Why not give your new marriage every chance possible to get started in the right direction? If you are starting over, have found yourself divorced or preparing to remarry then check out her website at and let Sherry help you Invite Excellence into your Life.