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05/07/2010
IconChristmas Eve Checklist By Cheryl Gochnauer Are you ready for Christmas? It's time to make our list and check it twice,so we don't forget anything: Condensed or Evaporated? Make sure you've got the right ingredients forthat special holiday baked treat. Dick Carnal, an IGA Super Center manager,notes Christmas Eve is one of the year's busiest grocery shopping days."Everybody seems to wait until the last minute." If you're missingsomething, get to the store before dusk, since IGA and most other storeswill close at 6:00 p.m. Let Mom Enjoy Christmas Morning, Too. Plan a simple breakfast of pastries,fresh fruit and juices, served on festive disposable plates and indecorative cups. No cooking; no dishes. Poised for Pictures. Check your supply of batteries and film. Charge thecamcorder battery; make sure you have plenty of videotape. Speaking ofvideos, take a few minutes now to set your VCR to record several favoriteholiday shows airing between now and the 24th. You can enjoy them Christmasnight and throughout the rest of the holiday break, when things have wounddown a bit. Gather Your Packages. If you're heading to more than one party, separategifts for each place into colorful oversized shopping bags for easy toting.Take along an extra wrapped gift, like a Christmas book or CD, for a quicksave in case someone you've forgotten remembers you. Ready to Roll. Planning to travel? Fill up the gas tank; check oil andwindow washer fluid levels. Put an emergency kit in the trunk: blankets,flashlights, a spare tire, etc. Pack some snacks, too. "You just don'tknow," says Ronica Stromberg of Mission, Kansas. "If you do have any carproblems, you want to have something to stay warm and feed the kids." To help time pass on the way to Grandma's, surprise children with a fun-packto explore, stuffed with coloring books, hand-held games or dolls. Give Santa a Break. Want to avoid wrangling with bike parts at 2 a.m.? "Wealways put the boxes under the tree, then assemble gifts as a family," saysMissouri dad Roger Young. His twins, Mark and Mary, enjoy watching presentstake shape on Christmas morning. "We're a lot more appreciative of the gifts, since we help put themtogether," says Mary. Sweet Dreams. You've been waiting weeks to see your child's reaction tothat perfect gift. Get a good night's sleep, or you'll snooze through the"oohs". Finish your baking as early as possible on Christmas Eve; wrap the lastpackage before nightfall. Ease kids into bed at their regular time, readingthe original Christmas story from the Bible (Luke 2:1-20) or sharing happyholiday memories from your own childhood. Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night. (Comments? Write cheryl@homebodies.org or visit her website at http://www.homebodies.org , where you can interact with lots of friendlyHo-Ho-Homebuddies on the various message boards: http://forums.gospelcom.net/view/homebodies . Copyright 2001 Homebodies.Org. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.comLLC.) More >>

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05/07/2010
IconMom On A Mission By Cheryl Gochnauer Do you ever feel like queen of your castle? After years of working forsomebody else, I like the perk of having time to polish my own 1400 squarefoot domain. It may not be the Taj Mahal, but it's mine. Well, mine andthe bank's. Anyway, now that I get to spend my days here instead of at the office, I'vehad time to explore every corner, and I've discovered that I like keeping atidy house. Don't worry; I'm not perfect. But like my high-maintenancehero in When Harry Met Sally, I know what I want, and I'm not afraid to askfor it. I want a clutter-free house. Toy-strewn bath and shower stalls bug me asmuch as over-stuffed file cabinets used to. Along the same lines, though Imay have bought them at thrift stores or clearance sales, I like clothesthat match, and furniture that fits. Every so often, I take a critical walkdown the halls and through the rooms. Lights pop on in closets and thebasement bares its secreted junk. Peeking under beds and over railings,out-of-place and under-used items are illuminated by my analyticalhigh-beams. My daughters sense a garage sale looming, and suddenly toys they haveignored for months become precious. You would not believe the tugs-of-warI've gotten into over ratty old blankets and dresses two sizes too small. "Look - it still fits!" Karen models her favorite high-water jeans with thetop button undone. Desperately she rallies support for its matching shirt.".And if I pull down the sleeves and hold my arms like this.. Mom! I wantthat!" I'm getting smarter. Most of the time, I do my dirty work while the kidsare away. Like the sticky-fingered Grinch, I silently stalk toy boxes andlaundry baskets. This works really well. It may be years before one of themturns around and says, "Didn't I used to have.. Mom!" I have no regrets. You just have to have a plan. For instance, take disposing of tatteredartwork that has languished in a discarded backpack for six months. Shakeoff the old cookie crumbs, then bury the picture deep in a black trash bag.Don't trust those thin bags you can see through. If you do, the piece willcome back to haunt you, plucked from oblivion as a now spaghetti-splatteredwork of art, magneted back in its hallowed spot on the refrigerator door. I especially enjoy getting rid of those games with 1,001 pieces. I don'tthink there is any real object to those games, except to scatter the piecesand leave. Territory markers, that's what they are. Well, this is myterritory and there are no squatters allowed! Into the garage sale box theygo. Believe it or not, the kids usually don't realize the game is goneuntil they see it out on the driveway with a sticker on it. Another note: Send the kids to Grandma's on garage sale day. Otherwise,they'll be chasing cars like schnauzers and half your inventory will end upin a reverent pile in the middle your child's bed. The perfect solution for kiddy clutter? Sell it to a neighbor withyoungsters near the same age as yours. That way, your children can go overto their house, scatter the pieces, and then come home. Both you and yourkids are happy! As a seasoned mother and unmuddler, I stand behind the advice given above.I've only been burned on this system once. There was this stuffed animal,you see, who had been lying in a haphazard heap in the corner one month toolong. It was whisked away during one of my whirlwind tours, and tagged tosell. When Little Red realized her Ballerina Bear had a new home, there wasa scene I could have sold movie rights for. I guess I should have let that bear gather another year's worth of dust.Instead, I unwittingly gave my daughter and a future support group somethingto talk about. But, HEY - my house looks great! (Comments? cheryl@homebodies.org or visit her website at www.homebodies.org . Copyright 2001 Homebodies.Org, LLC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com) More >>

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05/07/2010
IconWhat in the World is a STAY-AT-HOME Mom? We've all heard the term Stay-At-Home mom. I've even used the term to describe myself many times. I'm currently the SAHM of Teens columnist on www.Homebodies.org . But really, who EVER heard of a mother of teenagers that actually STAYS at home? Not me, that's for sure. And it's a pretty safe bet to say that it doesn't describe you either. Sometimes people (very misguided people, I might add) have asked me what I do all day. Some even chuckle about how nice it must be that I can stay home all day and how I must have so much time on my hands with nothing to do. Are they kidding? Them are fightin' words. I have three teenagers who don't have their driver's license yet and who are all involved in a variety of activities. Now, when I was young, I did a lot of walking and bike riding to get myself where I needed to be. Sometimes I think I should have my kids do more of that, but to be honest, the thought scares me. We live in a different world now than when I was a kid and I'd really be afraid to have my teen out on the streets alone, especially at night. So what choice is there? Mom's Taxi logs in several miles a day. Want to know my typical day? I bet yours is similar! Let's look at yesterday. After dropping the kids to school, I came home to clean the kitchen of breakfast dishes, have my daily time with God, and began homeschooling my youngest, who asked to be taught at home this year.Two hours later I assigned him work to do on his own while I went to pick up his sister for the dentist. I dropped her to the dentist and ran errands until she called my cell phone to come and get her. I then dropped her off to school. I checked over my son's work and then made lunch. After lunch (and more dishes) I worked at my "job" as a writer until it was time to help junior do his newspapers because it was raining. After that I picked up my daughter from school and dropped her off at work. An hour later I picked up my oldest from football practice, stopped at the grocery store to let him buy flowers for his cheerleader (this is a whole other story!) and came home to prepare dinner. After dinner (and more dishes) I brought one son to work, picked up my daughter FROM work and brought her to her soccer banquet. Upon my return home I was asked by my youngest to bring him skating. When I got home, my oldest called informing me that his place of employment overscheduled workers for the night and didn't need him to work and that I needed to go back and pick him up. (By the way, his boss had better be looking over his shoulder for this inconsiderate act!) I then had to pick up junior from skating and (because my daughter managed her own ride home) I was able to come home and collapse into my bed only to hear "Mom, I'm sorry, but my math project is due tomorrow and I just ran out of..." AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! The joys of being a "Stay-At-Home" mom. Who in the world ever came up with that term anyway?!? Patti Chadwick is a freelance writer and a Stay-at-Home mom of16 years. She's also author of the new bookMISSION POSSIBLE: RAISING GREAT TEENS! available for $5.95 at www.ParentsandTeens.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconHome Sick By Cheryl Gochnauer "Carrie's got laryngitis," my husband announced after going into the girls'room to administer morning hugs. I groaned. There went my "mother's dayout" and much-anticipated lunch with a girlfriend. I do love my daughter, however, so tossing self-absorption aside, I kickedinto Physician mode. My little redhead limped into the bedroom and croaked,"Hi, Mommy." There was more, but her voice gave out. She crawled up on myside of the bed and hugged a pillow. As the day of throat-soothing cool juice, warm soup and snuggles in Mommy'slap passed, I reflected on past sick days. There was a time when a warmforehead in the Gochnauer household signaled ominous overtones for more thanthe ailing child. When I worked full-time, the decision to doctor my sick child was much morecomplicated. Which parent will miss work? Whose boss is moreunderstanding? Is she really sick, or can we send her to the sitter'swithout adverse results? And (I admit this shamefully), if I give her someTylenol, will her temperature go down - and stay down - until after my 11o'clock meeting? If she was indeed needing that personal attention only Mommy can give, aseries of apologetic phone calls to coworkers and department heads, after anervous check of dwindling vacation days, would start my own head pounding.No longer is my decision to personally treat my child up for committee vote. This afternoon, I pause to peek in the darkened bedroom where Little Redsnoozes, passed out from the double-whammy of antihistamines anddecongestants. She sleeps peacefully, knowing Mommy is nearby, armed withbackrubs and cool washcloths. Later, we have a date to color and whisper to Barbies. Carrie's daddy called at lunch to see how his little frog was doing. He'sdriving his tractor-trailer, concentrating on providing for the family,confident his youngest daughter is in good hands. At school, Karen eyes theclock as she finishes up her assignments. Maybe Carrie will feel good enoughto have a snack and watch Nickelodeon when Big Sister gets home. Even on sick days, I love being a stay-at-home mom. (Visit Cheryl's website at www.homebodies.org , or email your comments to Cheryl@homebodies.org . Her book, "So You Want to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom",may be a perfect gift for someone you know this Christmas. You can order anautographed copy from Cheryl at www.homebodies.org/order.htm .Copyright 1999 Homebodies.Org, LLC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com) More >>

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05/07/2010
IconChhhanges! By Patricia R. Chadwick This year has brought a lot of changes for me. One of biggest changes is returning to homeschooling. Many moons ago, I homeschooled all of my children. For five years I taught 4 kids of varying grades in both elementary and Middle School. I really enjoyed it, but the time came when 2 of them wanted to return to school. My husband was injured at work that year, so we decided it was time for all of them to return to the public school. So, for the past 5 years, I've had the freedom to finish my B.A., work on my Master's Degree and develop interests of my own - including setting up this website. I have to admit, I've thoroughly enjoyed having this time alone while the kids were in school. But, as always, things change. My youngest has always struggled in school. And while he loved elementary school, going to the Middle School in 6th grade was just more than he could handle. He struggled and wanted to give up. He began to dislike school and spent a good portion of the year being "sick" in the morning or calling home "sick" from the nurse's office. He developed migraine headaches and nearly every day became a struggle to get (and keep) him in school. He asked to be homeschooled once in a while, then would change his mind.This past summer I asked him if he wanted to homeschool in 7th grade. He finally decided that he wanted to try 7th grade at the Middle School. The second day of school he called home sick with the elusive stomach headache. Yikes. The decision was made to give homeschooling a try. Now, I will admit, I wasn't too happy about this. My baby and I tend to butt heads. Maybe we are too much alike, I don't know. Maybe we are too different. Regardless, he bugs me when we are together too much. Not a good sign. But I really felt that God wanted me to do this. *sigh* Why does He so often call me to do things I don't want to do? I can't say I accepted the challenge too graciously - at first. Though I knew this was the best option for my son, I resented giving up my free time and my personal endeavors. I hope I didn't show it. But I felt it. Of course, it didn't help matters much when he gave me attitude and sass when he saw that homeschool was STILL school! Well, it's been two weeks of homeschooling now. His books finally came in and we've settled into a routine. I'm glad to report that he's doing really well and that we are getting along splendidly for the most part. He's becoming more interested in learning and loves being home. I'm finding his behavior much improved. And so is my attitude. I have come, once again, to the conclusion that positively influencing the life of even just one of my children is just as important as reaching out and helping the world. I just needed to be reminded! Today we took a field trip and then went out to lunch. While we were sitting at the Olive Garden eating our pasta, my son said to me, "You know Mom, just because you are homeschooling me doesn't mean you have to give up your writing. After lunch I can finish up my school work on my own and give you a few hours to write." As I sat there I realized how mature he's getting. And considerate. Maybe this will work out after all! Patricia Chadwick is a freelance writer and has been a stay-at-home mom for 15 years. She is currently a columnist in several online publications as well as editor of two newsletters. Parents Teens is a twice-monthly newsletter geared to help parents connect with their teens. Subscribe at www.parentsandteens.com . She is also the author of MISSION POSSIBLE: RAISING GREAT TEENS! available at: www.parentsandteens.com Permission granted for use of DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconThe Definitive Choice By Cheryl Gochnauer Copyright 2000 Are you thinking about becoming an at-home parent, but feel paralyzed when faced with actually making the decision? Take a look at an email I received on this topic: Cheryl, How do you get past the 'waffling'? I know being a SAHM is the best thing for me and my family. However, I still like 'things and stuff'. Does that mean that the SAHM life is not a reality for me? I want to make a sane decision. I feel financially close to being home but unsure of thelong-term SAHM budget issues. I keep thinking through things and my head feels like it is about to pop. I am afraid to walk away from work. I make more than my husband and I really enjoy what I do. I don't want to makeeveryone suffer because of what I want. This whole situation makes me feel between a rock and a hard place! Lynne First of all, Lynne, DO NOT QUIT FULL-TIME WORK YET. That might sound funny coming from me, but the stay-at-home lifestyle demands confidence. Confidence that you're making the absolute best move for your family; confidence that you're called to do this; confidence that there's no other place you'd rather be, even on the tough days. (My motto remains, "The worst day at home still beats the best day at the office.") What does your husband say? Do you have supportive people around you? Is there a possibility that you could transform your full-time job into a job-sharing or part-time scenario? Lots of women find their perfect balanceby blending their home time with a undemanding part-time job, or a work-at-home position. (Think about it -- that's what I'm doing. I'm a mother first, but I'm also an author and speaker who works out of her home.) Here's another way of looking at it. Say your husband asked you to marry him, but you didn't know him well enough yet. So you were all kinda jumpy and apprehensive, because -- even though he turned out to be the one foryou -- you weren't convinced of that fact yet (although you had to admit, the guy was cute!). Would you go ahead and marry him anyway? Not if you're smart. What you would do is date him a while longer, while you were gathering the info that you needed to make your commitment to him. The when you said, "I do," you did so with all your heart. And even when the tough times came,they didn't threaten your commitment, because you knew why you married him. The same principle applies to making the jump to home. (Comments? Write Cheryl@homebodies.org or visit her website at www.homebodies.org . Books make great Christmas gifts. Visit Homebodies' "Recommended Resources" page for some ideas: www.homebodies.org/recbooks.html . Watch for Cheryl's article, "Super Stay-at-Home Mom Syndrome", in the Nov/Dec issue of Today's Christian Woman, now in bookstores. Copyright 2001 Homebodies.Org, LLC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com) More >>

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05/07/2010
IconFinding Your Mentor By Cheryl Gochnauer In high school, it could have been the coach who believed in your abilities.In college, a professor who challenged you to think beyond ordinary logic.On the job, the boss who took you under her wing, then taught you to soar inthe business world. Mentors appear throughout the seasons of our lives. It's a wise woman whotakes advantage of their wisdom. As you consider becoming a stay-at-homemom, talk to women who are already there. Gather with moms your own age, but also interview older mothers whosechildren are grown. They've seen it all, from budgeting to Band-aids, andhave great insight on the stay-at-home mom's life. Most helpful is the mom who's presently in the thick of it, but who's beenenjoying her at-home role a few years. You'll get firsthand, up-to-dateinfo on handling the stresses and joys of this precious profession fromsomeone who has not only been there, done that, but is doing it still. Be direct; ask the tough questions. What's it really like, living on areduced income? Does your husband respect you as he did when you wereworking outside the home? How do you keep your foot in the door at work, incase you want to come back after the kids are older? Even if you believe the worst day at home has got to beat the best day atthe office, find out how she handles that inevitable tough session. What DOyou do all day? Will 24 hours a stretch, week upon week with a toddler turnyour mind to mush? More than likely, what you hear from moms who have gone before will make youeven more anxious to join them. I've tried it both ways, and this morerelaxed, more focused lifestyle has done wonders for me and my family.Although it is definitely not for everyone, the at-home lifestyle definitelyIS for me. I invite anyone else who's interested to come check it out. But be smart.Do your homework. Find your mentor, and lay a solid foundation before youquit your job. Then if you choose to become a stay-at-home mom, you can doso confidently and fearlessly, knowing it is the right move for you. (Comments? E-mail , Cheryl@homebodies.org or visit her website at www.homebodies.org , where you can sign up for her free weekly e-zine!) Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconSimplify SuperMarket Trips By Cheryl Gochnauer Uh oh. Mother Hubbard's cupboard is bare. What can we do to make the trekto the supermarket as pleasant as possible? Snack Right, Dress Right . Goodies have a way of springing off shelves whenyou shop hungry, so have a small snack before you leave home. Do this andyou won't cave in to those high-priced convenience foods beckoning from thedeli. Pop off the heels and slip on some sneakers to save your feet. If yourgrocery store has them, use special carts with built-in child seats so youaren't balancing a toddler on your hip as you head down the aisles. Betteryet, patronize stores that feature free supervised play areas for childrenwhile parents shop. Shop Centsibly . You're armed with a detailed shopping list, ads and couponsfor items you actually use. Carry all your coupons in a packet, with theones designated to be used this trip in a separate envelope.Now be alert for unadvertised in-store promotions. Tags like "Manager'sSpecial", end-of-aisle displays, and double-coupon/rebate offers you hadn'tanticipated can save you megabucks. Don't forget to sign up for free storediscount cards that award you as a "preferred shopper". You might even getan item for free, once you figure in sale price, doubled-coupon and rebate. Tag Team Shopping . Split up your list among family members, and cover thegrocery store in half the time. Send older kids on a scavenger hunt an aisleahead; have your husband hit the drycleaners while you return the video. Inspect The Spuds . Beware specials on groceries nearing their expirationdate. It's counterproductive to stock up on items that will spoil beforeyou use them, no matter how inexpensive they seem. Don't buy dented cans;pass on packages with rips. On hot days, have a cooler in the car in whichto place refrigerated items. Belly Up To The Barcode . Be courteous; don't make the person with a gallonof milk wait while you check out a once-a-month mountain of groceries. Inthe same vein, avoid the "12 Items or Less" line when you have 13 or more.Ask attendants to sack delicate groceries separately, and hand-carry anyspecial items (flowers, cake, etc.) to the car so they aren't crushed. Congratulations! You've survived your trip to the supermarket. Now who'smaking dinner? Comments? Write Cheryl@homebodies.org or visit her website at www.homebodies.org . Copyright 2001 Homebodies.Org, LLC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconHomeschooling Your Teenager By Patricia R. Chadwick This year has brought a lot of changes for me. One of biggest changes is returning to homeschooling. Many moons ago, I homeschooled all of my children. For five years I taught 4 kids of varying grades in bothelementary and Middle School. I really enjoyed it, but the time came when 2 of them wanted to return to school. My husband was injured at work that year, so we decided it was time for all of them to return tothe public school. So, for the past 5 years, I've had the freedom to finish my B.A., work on my Master's Degree and develop interests of my own - including setting up this website. I have to admit, I've thoroughly enjoyed having this time alone while the kids were in school. But, as always, things change. My youngest has always struggled in school. And while he loved elementary school, going to the Middle School in 6th grade was just more than he could handle. He struggled and wanted to give up. He began to dislike school and spent a good portion of the year being "sick" in the morning or calling home "sick" from the nurse's office. He developed migraine headaches and nearly every day became a struggle to get (and keep) him in school. He asked to be homeschooled once in a while, then would change his mind. This past summer I asked him if he wanted to homeschool in 7th grade. He finally decided that he wanted to try 7th grade at the Middle School. The second day of school he called home sick with the elusive stomach headache. Yikes. The decision was made to give homeschooling a try. Now, I will admit, I wasn't too happy about this. My baby and I tend to butt heads. Maybe we are too much alike, I don't know. Maybe we are too different. Regardless, he bugs me when we are together too much. Not a good sign. But I really felt that God wanted me to do this.*sigh* Why does He so often call me to do things I don't want to do?I can't say I accepted the challenge too graciously - at first. ThoughI knew this was the best option for my son, I resented giving up my free time and my personal endeavors. I hope I didn't show it. But I felt it.Of course, it didn't help matters much when he gave me attitude and sass when he saw that homeschool was STILL school! Well, it's been two weeks of homeschooling now. His books finally came in and we've settled into a routine. I'm glad to report that he's doing really well and that we are getting along splendidly for the most part. He's becoming more interested in learning and loves being home. I'm finding his behavior much improved. And so is my attitude. I have come, once again, to the conclusion that positively influencing the life of even just one of my children is just as important as reaching outand helping the world. I just needed to be reminded! Today we took a field trip and then went out to lunch. While we were sitting at the Olive Garden eating our pasta, my son said to me, "You know Mom, just because you are homeschooling me doesn't mean you have to give up your writing. After lunch I can finish up my school work on my own and give you a few hours to write." As I sat there I realized how mature he's getting. And considerate. Maybe this will work out after all! Patti Chadwick is a SAHM of 3 wonderful teens.Visit her websites at: www.historyswomen.com and www.parentsandteens.com Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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