Archives for March 2014

How To Attract Blue Jays To Your Backyard


Blue Jays


First, Blue Jays are large and beautiful birds.  Unfortunately, I didn’t see them at the feeder this winter.  So, I’m glad I was able to capture the photos below this fall.   Apparently, some Blue Jays migrate and some do not.  I’m assuming mine decided to move on this winter.  Check out my other attracting backyard birds posts.

 

 

 

Next, Blue Jays start their courtship in February. The breeding season is from March to July.  Spring is around the corner, so I wanted to give you a few tips on how you may be able to get them to a feeder in your backyard for a photo op.

A few facts about Blue Jays, they are large birds and stay with their partner for life.  So they understand the meaning of until death do us part.  They are loud and love to make their presence know with their “jaaaay” call early morning.  Wooded areas are preferred.  I have trees along my back property and the adjoining property has a roll of evergreens, so I have the perfect environment.  The average life span for a Blue Jay is 7 years.

blue jay

It’s difficult to tell the male from the female, they look identical.  These two show up together, or one shortly after the other.  Blue Jays don’t eat at the feeder.  They pick up their treat and eat elsewhere, but return often for more.  Their color is striking.  Blue is my favorite color, so I may be biased.

 I was so excited to see this Blue Jay since they had been missing all winter.  I don’t know if this is the male or female, but the other is around somewhere.  I’m hoping to see little Blue Jays this summer since breeding season has started.

Here are a few tips to lure these beauties to a feeder in your backyard:

  • Purchase a platform feeder as shown.  I ordered mine from Amazon and love it.
  • Use raw peanuts.  They also love shelled, but make sure they’re unsalted.  You can buy them in bulk at Costco or SAMs.
  • Add acorns, sunflower seeds and fruit to the feeder.  (I use old grapes).
  • Spread cracked corn and sunflower seeds on the ground under the feeder.
  • Plant an oak tree and you will have them for life.  (They love acorns).

Last, bird watching is a great activity to do with children.  Turn bird watching into an educational lesson. Additionally, bird watching gives them an opportunity to become involved with nature and learn the habits of various backyard birds.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom’s Book Give Away

Chicken Soup Books
This book give away is perfect for the multitasking mom.  If you’re a mother, you learn to do multiple things, handle the kids, the household, the husband, your career and the list goes on . Chicken Soup for the Soul:  The Multitasking Mom’s Guide is scheduled to be released March 18. As a Soup-er Blogger for the Chicken Soup for the Soul Blog Network, I wanted to give my readers an opportunity to win a copy of this book.  We all need a little inspiration at times, especially when you’re raising children, running a home, managing your career and figuring out what’s for dinner.  What better way to look for inspiration than in one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books.   

The Multitasking Mom’s Guide has 101 stories by busy moms.  The book is filled with words of wisdom, lessons learned, funny moments and juggling success.  When you feel that you can’t go on or don’t know how you can do another thing, reach for this book and get a little inspiration.  I challenge you to read a story each day, meditate on the story and learn the lesson.  As a mother, grandmother, leader, manager, and mentor, I will be using this book to inspire me on my journey.  

Mother 2 Mother is giving away 3 copies of the Multitasking Mom’s Book Guide to 3 of our lucky readers.  We want you to be inspired too.   Here’s how you can win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This contest will end April 27, 2014 at mid-night.  The contest is open to US and Canada residents 18 or older. The winner will be notified by email and selected by Rafflecopter.   Invalid email addresses will be disqualified and another winner drawn.  The book will be sent directly to the winner from the sponsor, you will be contacted by email. 
Note:  I am a member of the Soup-er Blogger Network; however, my opinion of the Chicken Soup products are my own.   

10 Steps To Deal With Grief From A Breakup

grief from a breakup

 

Trying to mend a broken heart from a breakup or divorce?  I’ve been there and it can be a rough road.  Grief from a breakup can cause you to want to die or at least feel that you are.  You may try to rekindle the relationship by plotting a scheme on how on you can get him or her back.  Calling, texting, or checking their  Facebook page enters your mind.  You may even drive by their house or have conversations with their friends to get advice on how to work things out.

STOP!   Take a deep breath, regroup and focus on you.  I know it’s hard, but you have to do it so that you can start the healing process.  It’s the only way you can move on with your life.  If you were unable to resolve your differences and you’re in the grieving process, you need to get real.  You had some serious problems that sent you or your partner in the opposite direction.

If you couldn’t resolve them when you where together, it’s doubtful that they will ever be resolved.   Sometimes we just outgrow each other.  I knew, I’ve already walked in your shoes.  Here’s a quote that I want you to absorb:  “God will sometimes end a relationship for your protection.  Don’t chase after the person he’s trying to save you from.” – Trent Shelton.

Sometimes you see it coming and sometimes you don’t.  However, the longer you try to hold on the longer you will endure pain.  Ending a relationship with someone that you vowed to spend the rest of your life with or you have fell deeply in love with is like a death.  I have experienced both and you grieve over both losses.  Just as important, you may become angry or you don’t want to get out of bed.  You may cry until the well runs dry and the list goes on.  I went through this when my ex-husband and I divorced, and when I lost my father to cancer.  Grief from a breakup whether in love or death is painful.

I survived and you can too.  Here’s how:

  1. Know that you life is not over, your lovable and you’re moving on to the next chapter in your life.
  2. You’re not a failure, you were smart enough to know when it was time to get out.
  3. Your children will be fine.  There are millions of children in the world who come from divorced homes and they don’t turn out to be rapists or bank robbers.
  4. Pamper yourself during this time period.  You must treat yourself well and know that you deserve it.  Don’t run your credit cards up, just treat yourself occasionally.
  5. Don’t jump into another relationship.  Rebounds are not wise and they rarely work.
  6. Set small goals for yourself.  This would be a good time to join a gym and work off some stress.  If you can’t afford a gym, find a safe place to walk.  It’s a good way to think and clear your head.
  7. Limit yourself on the number of conversations that you have about him/her.  It will only prolong your healing.
  8. Enhance your job skills, your household income will be less.  Don’t depend on anything other than child support.  Unless you are married to a million, women are rarely awarded alimony. Get a job and in the meantime, enhance your skills so you can get a better one.  There are programs available to assist you.  Reach out.
  9. Find a church, you need to renew your faith to get you through the rough times.
  10. Get focused! You will be heading up your household and leading the way for your children.   

Additionally, remember to start your grieving process slowly.  And make sure you work through all stages.  Otherwise, you will only be placing band-aids on open wounds.  You will experience many emotions.  So, there will be sadness, anger, bitterness, loneliness and why me sessions.  Know that emotions are temporary and it’s okay to experience them.

Furthermore, your ex will move on and begin dating again.  Prepare yourself, and whatever you do, don’t approach the other woman.  She can’t be with him if he doesn’t want to be with her.  You don’t want your children to find out that you handled things in this manner.

Last, give yourself plenty of time to heal.  Check out my post on Divorce Cakes for a laugh.  Laughing is good for the soul.  It’s a wonderful feeling when you’re ready to move on.  You will come out of it stronger, wiser and a better person for your struggle.  It’s unwise to try to hold on to something that no longer exists.  Most importantly, let it go so you can free yourself  for someone who is deserving of you and your love.  
                                                                            













Kid’s Breakfast Ideas: Animal Pancakes

kids breakfast ideas

When I saw these adorable pancake molds, I couldn’t resist.  When Xavier and Zarriah are visiting, they wake up every morning looking forward to helping Mama make their favorite pancakes and waffles.  I’ve stocked up on pancake molds.  My stash includes:  barnyard animals and dinosaurs.  They love eating this fun shaped pancakes and I can count on a Happy Plate. What is a Happy Plate?  One that makes Mawmaw happy, and ensures the kids eat a healthy meal. 


Xavier enjoys helping me mix the batter and watching me pour it into the molds.   I must admit, I enjoy eating a fun shaped pancakes too.  These adorable shapes make breakfast exciting for the kids.  Who doesn’t want to devour a rooster, pig or dinosaur for breakfast.  I need to find a few girly molds for Zarriah.  Let the search begin.  

I found the molds on e-bay.  They’re easy to use as long as you spray the molds well with PAM as well as the griddle.  I allow the molds to heat up before I pour the batter into them.  This ensures they lift from the griddle easily I’ve found that a batter bottle or ketchup/mustard bottle works well in controlling the batter when pouring it into the molds.  I found mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond for $2.00.  

fun foods for kids

Make sure your kids enjoy breakfast with fun pancakes.  Add a few fresh strawberries or apple slices with the pancakes, and you’re guaranteed a happy plate too.   Bon Appetit’!

10 Benefits of Preschool

benefits of preschool



Did you place your child in preschool or do you plan to?  Have you thought about the benefits?  I believe in early childhood education, and as a result Xavier went to preschool for 3 years before he started kindergarten.  It was money well spent, he learned skills that I believe are important for creating a strong foundation for entering kindergarten and beyond.



What he learned:  


  1. Social skills
  2. Field trips with classmates on a school bus
  3. Group participation
  4. Learning to do homework
  5. Making friends outside of family
  6. Playing well with others
  7. Daily naps without a fight or protest 
  8. Eating meals in a cafeteria style setting  
  9. Enhanced athletic skills
  10. Following directions from teachers

He’s 2 in the picture above; he’s 5 in the picture below.  How time flies.  Last year we sent him to the local recreational center for the summer so we could focus on his athletic skills.  He enjoyed his summer.  He took swimming lessons, learned basic football and basketball skills, and made new friends.

preschool activities

Research has shown that early childhood development is essential for our children.  It builds a strong foundation for success in later years and I believe it.  We have seen a payoff for both preschool and time spent at the recreational center for Xavier.  He’s reading, doing times table, writing sentences and excelling in sports.  He received an award for outstanding performance in football, and his team has made it to the championship in basketball this year.  Go Tarheels!  


early childhood development



Xavier benefited so much from preschool, we put Zarriah in as well.  She’s 2 here and loves school so much she looks forward to going every day.  Sometimes she goes on the week-end, lol.  She said her friends are there and she loves her teacher, Miss Sheila.  Look at this face, it’s 8:00 am in the morning.  She’s heading out to enjoy the day at school.  She knows her ABC’s, she can count to 10 and is learning to play well with others.  She understands Time Out and loves to read.  She has learned basic manners, excuse me, thank you and please.  When she’s ready for a nap, she says “Gaga I’m ready for bed.”  Amazing.  


We love the fact that she too will have already grasped going to school and doing homework.  She will understand the group setting concept when she enters kindergarten and her social skills will be developed.  I believe in investing in children, and there are just some things you can’t teach your at home.  Your thoughts on Preschool?

Attract Backyard Birds With Birdseed Pine Cones

 

birdseed pine cones

First, I started bird watching and feeding my backyard birds several years ago.  It is a hobby that I have come to love, and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  I started making birdseed pine cones, and the birds are loving them.  They literally pick the pine cones clean.  The birdseed pine cones are easy and fun to make with kids.  There’s really no recipe, but I thought I would share how to make the pinecones.  Check out my other posts on attracting backyard birds.

 

feeding backyard birds

Next, pick a day to gather pine cones with the kids.  You can gather them from your neighbor’s yard, a park or yours. If neither of you have pine trees, locate an area where you can gather a few without trespassing.  Furthermore, they are essential to your project.  I use a medium or large pinecone.  The larger the pine cone the more birdseed it will hold.

You will also need the following items:

  • peanut butter (Purchase store brand)
  • twine or yarn (You can purchase twine from the Dollar General)
  • birdseed  (You can purchase seed from the Dollar General)
  • a paper plate
  • plastic knife
  • plastic spoon

 

feeding backyard birds

You will want to watch the birds feast.  As a result, hang the pine corns in place where you can see and high enough where cats or other predators can’t reach them. Therefore, tie a piece of the twine or yarn around the top of the pine cone leaving the ends long enough to hang it from a branch as shown.  Spread the peanut butter over the pine cone (be generous) with the knife.  Also, place the pine cone on the paper plate and sprinkle the birdseed over the pine cone with the spoon.  Cover the birdseed pine cone thoroughly.  You can use the spoon to press the seeds into the nooks and crannies.  Be sure to do this around the entire pine cone.

This is a fun project for kids to create on rainy or snowy days.  Furthermore, they will love the craft more when they see the birds enjoying the treats.  Additionally, if you need visuals on how to prepare the pine cones you can get the instructions here.  Once the pine cones are prepared, have fun watching our feathered friends gobble up the birdseed pine cones.  I guarantee you they will devour every seed.  Place them in a location where you and the kids can watch them enjoy the feast.  Consequently, you will be providing protein that birds need to keep them warm.

Last, freeze the pine cones before placing them outside.  Furthermore, place several in a gallon baggie and place in the freezer until you’re ready to use.  You will always have a few on hand when time is limited.

 

When Mom’s the Bread Winner

single mothers, single parenting, money management

Are you the bread winner in your family and feeling guilty because you’re not a stay at home mom?  If you’re a single mother, your chances of being a stay at home mom are slim unless you hit the jackpot with child support payments.  I felt guilty leaving my daughter when I headed to work., but someone had to bring income into the home so bills can be paid.   

Unfortunately, being a single mother is not easy. However, you must get over your guilt if you’re feeling any.  I missed my daughter’s first step and her first time being successful using the potty because I was working. I finally had to make peace with my situation and accept the fact that I had to provide for us.  After all,  the child support I was receiving barely paid for her child care let alone pay the other bills.  

I wondered how me working outside the home would affect her. I wondered if she would grow up thinking that moms who stayed at home or who had husbands who provided was abnormal.  I wondered if not having her dad in the home as a role model would affect her.  So many things went through my mind.  When I growing up my mother took care of the home while my father worked. You know the traditional woman versus man duties.  Mom cooks, cleans, does laundry and dad works, mows the lawn, fixes the pipes.    

I soon realized that times had changed.  The work force was full of women who had husbands and children, and still managed to run their homes.  The work force was also full of divorced or single mothers who also ran their homes, had children in school who were doing well and some had gone on to become lawyers, doctors and whatever else they choose.  I realized that the household that I grew up in was no longer the norm in society.  Women had moved up and on.  They had become multitasking moms and no longer fell into that traditional stay at home role.  

I also decided that I would never be my mother!  I love her for everything she did when I was growing up, I learned a lot.  She thought my sister and I going into the work force and becoming non-traditional mothers was strange.  Now she sees that it’s the new normal.  

As my daughter got older, we had several discussions about her father and me having to work to provide. She soon realized that she too was better off without him in her life, and stands by her decision to this day. He’s now on the outside looking in, and wishing he had a relationship with her and his grandchildren.  She understood that I wasn’t the only single mother in the world.  She had friends who had single mothers too. I continued to provide and she continued to excel because she had all the love and the necessities that she needed without a father in the home.  Here are a few lessons that she learned:

  • A mother’s love is the strongest love on this earth
  • She had a strong mother who taught her to be a strong woman and mother
  • Welfare and other public assistance is not an option when you’re able to work
  • Always work to better yourself and don’t blame others for you decisions
  • We don’t live in a perfect world
  • Break circles when you need to  
  • There are children who have fathers in the home who are drunks, drug addicts or who just don’t contribute and live off their wife or girlfriend

If you’re the bread winner and sole provider for your child or children, you’re doing your job as a mother.  You will find that it gives you a sense of purpose, and they will respect you for everything you’ve done for them.  Single mothers raised these leaders and celebrities:    

  • Judge Greg Mathis
  • President Obama
  • President Clinton
  • Mary J Blige
  • Pierce Brosnan
  • Tom Cruise
  • Al Pacino
  • Barbara Streisand
  • Mariah Carey 
  • Halle Berry
Our children may not grow up to be presidents and celebrities, but we don’t have to feel guilty as single mothers and neither do our children.  Stand proud, stay strong and earn that bread!  
 

American Gold Finch: Attracting Backyard Birds

american gold finch

 

I’ve had several American Gold Finch visit my feeder this winter.  I watched them eat sunflower seeds from my garden last summer and became fascinated by their beauty.  The male sports feathers that are a beautiful shade of yellow and black.  They are unmistakable. They have a unique flying pattern, which consists of an up and down motion.  However, their bright yellow feathers turn dull during the winter.  I have learned that they “color up” in the spring and summer months, but lose their bright plumage in the fall and winter.  Check out my other posts on attracting backyard birds.

Furthermore, American Gold Finch are small birds that love sunflower and thistle seeds.  My feeder contains black oil sunflower seed, so I see them regularly.  This little fellow just grabbed a sunflower seed. I plan to plant wild flowers in my garden this year in hopes that they will be attracted.  My sunflowers attracted them last season, so they will definitely have a place in the backyard.  They cleaned off every sunflower in my backyard.

I can’t wait until breeding season when the males molt and regain their beautiful yellow and black plumage.  If you want to attract these beauties to your backyard here are a few tips:

Place a feeder in a location where you can watch the birds feed.  Finches will eat from platform, hanging or tube feeders.

  • Fill it with black oil sunflower seeds or plant sunflowers in your yard.
  • Hang a thistle sock, they love thistle.
  • Fill a bird batch with shallow water.

I purchased a new camera with a zoom lens, so I’m hoping to get some great shots of them in my garden. Stay tuned for my spring and summer photos of the American Gold Finch.  Bird watching is a great activity to do with kids and get them involved in nature.

 

Kids Breakfast Ideas: Oatmeal Funny Face

Do you have a hard time getting your kids to eat breakfast?  Did I just ask that question.  Getting kids to eat any meal can be difficult at times.  I’ve been in search of fun and kid friendly recipes that can help us make meals enjoyable for our little ones and will be starting a series of posts with fun meal ideas. 


Oatmeal is big in my household, especially in the winter.  It’s hearty and warm on cold, rainy days and the kids love it.  I came across this little guy and immediately tossed him into the kids recipe box.  He’s adorable and has earned a spot on the breakfast table in the Gales household minus the squiggly lines.

It’s simple and the ingredients are healthy.  I think my 5 year old would enjoy decorating his bowl of oatmeal.  You will need the following ingredients:    

Oatmeal ( I use Maple Quaker Oats)
Sliced strawberries (eyes, nose, ears, mouth)
Raisins (eyes, hair)
Walnuts (eyebrows)

This recipe is from the book  Funny Food: 365 Fun, Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfasts by Bill & Claire Wurtzel and can be purchased from Amazon. 

Should Boys Wear Pink?




Should baby boys wear pink?  Supposedly, the color pink was designated for girls and blue designated for boys so people would be able to distinguish a baby boy from a baby girl. This theory is somewhat confusing since it’s appropriate to use “neutral” colors, mint green and yellow for both a boy and girl. If these colors are
appropriate for both, how do we distinguish the gender? We ask if we’re unsure. You know the question, I’m sure you’ve asked it a hundred times too, “Is it a boy or girl”? If asking a simple question will clarify this uncertainty, why can’t we put little boys in pink and little girls in blue and eliminate the stigma? 

Could it be that we have developed a phobia and we’re afraid that if we put little boys in pink we think they will end up Gay? Afterall, pink is seen as quiet, calm and feminine color. On many occasions, I’ve heard mothers of baby boys say, “I’m not putting my baby boy in pink”.  Blue is seen as strong and steadfast, but in today’s society it’s acceptable for a woman to have these characteristics, at least to a certain point. Which leads to more contradiction.

Did you know that prisons use pink to help diffuse violence.  Why aren’t the prison walls painted blue if it is a manly color?  Instead they’re painting the walls pink and encouraging men to get in touch with their feminine side.  A side that we teach little boys from infancy to not have.  We all know that violent criminals need more than a pink wall for rehabilitation, but many believe that the color pink helps with this endeavor. Pink is a soft, non-threatening color. That’s what we want our violent criminals to be, soft and non-threatening.  Shouldn’t we have put them in pink at infancy if this is the goal?

Lets look at this contradiction from another perspective. It’s inappropriate for baby boys to wear pink, why men wearing shades of pastels these days?  Lavender, corral, yellow, and pink. Yes, I said pink! I’ve witnessed it in corporate America with shirts and ties, and polos for golfers. I witnessed one of my doctors the other day wearing a beautiful fuchsia tie. I wonder if an NFL linebacker would strut a fuchsia tie or pink shirt?  Yep, we found Brandon Spikes, who is a linebacker for the New England Patriots, not only in a pink tie and shirt, but in pink from head to toe.  Brandon calls it his lucky suit.    


Here’s the infamous and gorgeous Brad Pitt.  What is he doing, he’s rocking a pink suit.  Who would have thought that one of Hollywood’s finest would be photographed in a pink suit. 



Here’s a picture of my family wearing pink to honor my son-in-law’s 95 year old grandma who recently passed.  His mother requested everyone to wear pink in honor of struggle with breast cancer.  I must say, my son-in-law is wearing pink well and did so with pride.  


So what has changed? I’m crediting the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness in helping men and society as a whole become more comfortable in wearing pink and other pastel colors.  

We love to know if you would allow your little boy or grandson to wear pink?  Would you be comfortable if your husband or significant other wore pink?  Please leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts.