Family Caramel Tasting


Tonight we enjoyed Jeff’s birthday present, cutting each caramel into quarters and guessing what flavors we were tasting. It was fun to share the experience with the two little ones while the oldest is away for the night.

Our favorite flavors were the vanilla and espresso. The strawberry black pepper and the hot chili ones were our least favorites. We had fun trying them together and sharing our thoughts on the different pieces.

What do you like to do with your family?

Life is sweet.



Yell, Spank or Drink?

The Wall Street Journal has an article in the Personal Journal section today under the Work & Family section that talks about the damage from yelling at your kids vs. spanking them.  

Parents today have been conditioned to avoid spanking and have turned to other means to maintain control and order, which might be more harmful than spanking.  The title of the article is “Damage Control: Talking to Your Child After You Yell.”
WSJ article on Yelling

This is a hot topic in my household as we leave the Golden Years of Parenting (Ages 4-12) and transition into the Resistance Movement (Ages 9-18+).  

I was listening in on different conversations with three groups of women last night who were all talking about the same topic, but with different age groups.  

There was one friend talking about parenting an adult child who still lives at home, yet does not see the significance and importance of doing the limited tasks that are asked of him and the conflict that ensues.

There was me talking about my challenges of parenting teenagers (and one who thinks he’s a teenager because he has older siblings) who seem to know it all and don’t want to do the limited tasks that are asked of them and the conflict and slow resolution process that ensues.

And then there were the grandparents talking about their under 4 year old grandchildren who were in their care, and the temper tantrums and discussions that they were dealing with as they tried to figure out the best strategies to help the little ones do what was expected of them.

This got me thinking, we’re all in this parenting gig for life and there’s no end in sight!  Just kidding… but seriously what can we do besides yell, hit or drink too much or give up?

We know we have to set expectations and guidelines and boundaries and be consistent and follow through and enforce consequences. But knowing how and when to apply the right tools in a kind and loving and firm way is the challenging part, right? And we need time and patience to do a good job, and both of those are highly limited resources.  And heaven forbid we throw in sickness or PMS or being overworked or overtired!!

We don’t want to yell or spank or lose our temper, yet we want to manage and shape the behaviors of our future leaders. So how do we do it?  What are the best practices?  Here are my top 10 ideas – for now.  What would you add? What would you change? Let’s write our own How To Manual!  Wouldn’t that be great if kids came with one? 😉


1. Don’t take their behavior personally.
They’re not usually intentionally doing things to upset us or to go against us, even though it might FEEL like that. They’re usually just self centered and doing what feels right for them in the moment. Their priorities are different than our priorities. Their wants and desires are not the same as ours and they don’t always have the self-discipline to know the difference and when/how to put their own needs aside to do what’s right and expected of them for the greater good. We have to listen and be understanding too.

2. Before you react (yell, scream, hit or say mean things), count to three inside your own head and breathe in, breathe out with each count.
Practice self control. Give yourself a time out and moment to plan how to address the behavior in question. We want to focus on problem solving and try to stay away from the emotional roller coaster ride. 

3. Start with a positive perception of your child, despite their negative behavior and before you begin the discipline process.
I like to look at them and think, “I love you more than anything you say or do.”  It’s my little mantra that I say over and over again in my head, to help me focus on my goal of loving them through the parenting process. And when I’m mad at them, I try to think of all the good qualities they possess and I remind them of their goodness despite the behavior we’re trying to improve. And I try to not make the issue a big issue, because this too shall pass and the relationship between us and their self esteem is more important than one event. Yet, I still hold them accountable and love them through it. 🙂

4. Parenting takes time.
We all have other things we want or have to do and time is limited. But it takes time to lovingly teach and guide them at any age. Give yourself time to teach the lessons, with kindness and firmness. Set a timer, and it doesn’t have to be long, but we do need to make time for it. We can do anything for 15 minutes. Be patient and practice waiting.

5. Use “I” messages, instead of “You” messages.
For example, say “I feel frustrated because your room isn’t clean and we agreed to that expectation. It’s important to me and I’d like your cooperation. When can you finish this task?”  Say how you feel and what you expect and ask them to be part of the timely solution.

6. Have realistic expectations and be flexible.
Expect your children to be perfectly imperfect too. It’ll help with both your frustration levels.  

7. We are all teachers.
We don’t get paid enough and it’s a very important job. We want to help our kids to focus on solutions and to be contributing members of their family and to society. When something isn’t as expected, wait for a calm moment to explain the situation. Give the child a choice in how to fix the wrong and help guide them to possible solutions. This teaches problem solving skills and helps them to be part of the solution that they choose.

8. If you lose your temper and react negatively, apologize and forgive yourself as well.
It’s ok for us to make mistakes too and it’s the right thing to fix the relationship when we make a mistake. This teaches our kids that it’s ok to make mistakes, to be vulnerable, to say you’re sorry and to try again. It also teaches positive communication skills and takes the pressure off from trying to be perfect. Love is unconditional.

9. Be consistent, kind, firm and confident.  
We are setting boundaries and expectations for our kids and they desperately need us to do that. The boundaries and expectations will change over time and they will challenge them, but it is our job to define them, to communicate our expectations, and to consistently enforce them and follow through. They need to know what the boundaries are, what the consequences will be, and they need us to follow through with our words and actions. And we can do this kindly and firmly, without yelling or losing our temper as we follow through. Whispering is actually a powerful tool.

10.  Have fun with your kids.
Laugh and play and be silly. Life is stressful and we don’t always have to be so serious. Use humor and joke around and dance and tickle and wrestle and hug and love one another. Each stage is so short and this too shall pass. Sometimes hugging it out is all that is needed and having a Do-over moment, that gives everyone a chance to start over and try again. It’s never too late to try again. It’s a new minute. Try again.

All of these are easier said than done, but we have to remind ourselves that we are still learning and practicing this life thing just as those who are in our care and we have to keep trying and practicing and not give up as we learn by doing. Forever. Sigh.  

We are not perfect, nor should we expect ourselves to be. And we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others or their Facebook updates for the sake of feeling badly, or to pass judgment, but rather for continuous learning. We are perfectly imperfect and have to be gentle and forgiving of ourselves and those in our care as they are perfectly imperfect too. We’re all still learning and have to continue this journey together, breathing through each event and moving through them peacefully, hopefully. 😉

Hugs! xo


Pretty Things

What do you find pretty that puts a smile on your face?

Today someone really liked my shoes and that made me smile because I love them and I loved that they loved them too. We shared a conversation and a connection over cute, whimsical shoes.

My shoes are “vintage” Kate Spade and you can find other pretty shoes by her here: Kate Spade Shoes

I have a new handbag from the spring Stella & Dot collection that is also pretty and makes me happy. I love the vibrant colors and pattern and that people like it and ask me where I got it. It’s a great conversation piece and I like to share the story about it and talk about Stella & Dot because it’s fun and also makes me happy.

You can find it on my website if you want one too: S&D how does she do it bag

The other pretty thing that made me smile today were beautiful tulips arranged in a pretty little vase. Again, women were chatting and sharing appreciation for the pretty little things in life. These flowers reminded me of the bunches in Holland that were readily available and inexpensive in all colors. They made me think of and miss my Dutch friends!

If you want to find tulips in California, they have them now at Trader Joes.
Trader Joe’s

I like pretty things because of the stories and connections associated with them the most. What pretty things do you love?


How often do you really get to play? And I don’t mean on your computer.

Do you play with your pet? Your kids? Your friends? Your partner?

How do you play?

Today I played in the kitchen making a new recipe I found on the internet. I had some red lentils and wanted to make soup out of them. Here is the mix of spices swirled slightly before heating to release their essence and aroma.

The soup turned out ok and will be a healthy quick meal to enjoy the rest of the week. I also made chicken enchiladas for dinner tonight while the kitchen was already dirty. Having dinner ready early before the kids came home gave me more time to play when they came home.

We had homework club at my house today with 7 kids participating, including all three of mine. Juliana helped by making fresh chocolate chip cookies and CJ helped Jessie with her homework until he started on his. We listened to and sang and lip synced to the Frozen soundtrack before getting started to amp up the energy a bit after being in school all day. We were all laughing and singing, playing and working together. Too bad I didn’t take a picture.

I challenged the kids to focus and get their work done in 45 minutes and told them I’d go outside and play with them if they stayed on task. They won the challenge and we moved outside and played tag, dodgeball tag and Mother May I? I think I had just as much fun as the kids. I loved their creativity and laughing along with them as we played.



Did you notice the Dutch flags flying in the backyard? I put them up for Halloween and liked them so much I never took them down.

On the way to drop off the kids, Charlie and I had a half hour to spare. I keep tennis gear in the car and saw the lights were on at the local courts AND a court was available. Charlie and I decided to spontaneously play together and had a blast. He’s really good and told me he wants to be on a tennis team too! I’m so excited about that.


Today was so much fun and I shared this story to hopefully encourage you to play too. It’s great to be a kid!


Tennis Love


I love playing tennis.  I love everything about it and am always looking for the opportunity to play and to improve my game.

We played a USTA match at Silver Creek Country Club in San Jose. The weather was warm and sunny and just perfect. Five of us carpooled together to our matches at 11 am.  We played on three courts – two doubles matches and one singles match. We won 2 out of 3 of our matches and had a great afternoon on the courts. I just demoed a new racquet and felt such a difference in my game today. Any day on the courts is a good day.  Winning is just like the icing on the cake 

After our matches, the host team hosted a lunch for all of us with homemade vegetable soup, salad, sandwiches, fresh fruit, chips and salsa, wine and beer and a cookie platter for dessert.

Life is good.  Hope you enjoyed your weekend and have a fabulous new week.



Burns Night

Tonight we celebrated a Scotish tradition of Burns Night with haggis and poetry, whiskey and wine, friends and singing, and all that is good.


Traditional Burns night dinner of haggis, mashed turnips, and mashed potatoes.

A Burns Night Supper is traditionally celebrated in Scotland on January 25th, on the anniversary of the famous Scottish poet’s birthday.

We are thankful that we were invited again to join in this annual Scottish tradition with our Scottish friends. Happy Burns Night!


All In A Day’s Work

Today was amazing. I am celebrating my role as a stay at home mom and enjoying all of it’s “free” benefits.

I got to enjoy my girlfriends and being outside getting exercise together while we chatted and hiked through the hills.

I got to volunteer and work with strong, confident women who I love and admire, over a nice, relaxing lunch.

I got to go shopping during the day with less crowds and no kids in tow.

I got to pick up my kids after school and bring them home for snacks and down time, playing and baking.

I got to practice throwing and catching a baseball, and taught my little one how to Rollerblade after school.

I got to volunteer at my son’s elementary school and enjoyed watching the kids’ eyes light up as they learned about science and electricity.

I got to go to the post office to pick up a surprise package of goodies from my Dutch friends in Holland.

I got to have a Girls’ Night Out and enjoy dinner with my girlfriends.

All in a days’ work.  I love to be busy, to exercise, to volunteer, and to spend quality time with my family and friends. And today I got to do it all. It doesn’t get much better than this. This is my best life right now.

I think the secret to happiness is to embrace whatever you choose to do in life and to find joy in the day to day. Things aren’t always sexy and invigorating. Sometimes this is incredibly challenging and other days it just comes easily. Sometimes we are really good at appreciating the present moment and where we are and what we’re doing, and sometimes change doesn’t come fast enough.

This leads to the other secret I learned today from two wise women. We were chatting about this and that and the topic came up that sometimes we don’t have everything all figured out and that there are dependencies outside our control, and sometimes we have to learn to have patience and just WAIT.  The answers and plans usually have a brilliant way of unfolding and presenting themselves in time, if only we can just wait. Waiting is an OK option, even in this fast paced society and community we live in and sometimes we forget that not everything has to be right now.

Waiting is powerful and we need to get better at it and accepting it. Waiting to feel better. Waiting for results. Waiting for our kids. Waiting in traffic. Waiting for our partners to come home. We wait for dinner to be ready. We wait for a dream to become a reality. We do a lot of waiting and we should probably practice being ok with waiting for whatever is to come next and be present as we patiently wait. It’s just part of the journey. Where’s the PAUSE button?

See? Don’t you feel better already. If not, just WAIT. You will.  😉


Mornings with Moms


Charlie’s elementary school has a great tradition that brings moms and kids together for a morning breakfast once a year, called “Mornings with Moms.” They also have another event for dads and kids on another day called “Daybreak with Dads.”

On the Mom Morning, a couple dads volunteer to serve donuts, bagels and fruit to the moms and kids along with PTA volunteers. On the Dad Days, the moms serve alongside with the PTA. 

I like the community feel with all the kids, moms, volunteers and staff together sharing a meal, early before school starts.  I especially appreciated being back again this year and still having a child in elementary school. 

Thank you to all the volunteers for starting off my day with a smile!

Ten Little Things

Sometimes when you’re feeling a little down, you’ve got to look at what’s good instead of feeling sorry for yourself. I’m in one of those transitioning life moments and instead of feeling bad about it, I want to discover ways to keep moving forward and how to quickly get out of my funk, focusing on gratitude.

So I’m going to share what was good today. I’m already smiling just thinking this way.

1. I got to play tennis twice today. I felt like I was at summer camp where you get to play all day.
2. I was thankful to be playing tennis at rush hour and not in a car stuck in traffic.
3. I have a great community of friends that support one another and I’m thankful that Ling gave my kids a ride tonight.
4. My little one wrapped his arms around my neck and told me I was the best mom ever.
5. The sunshine was so warm today and made my skin feel hot. I loved that!
6. I got to FaceTime with my niece and hear her cute little laugh and watch her brush her teeth and feel like I was part of her night time routine.
7. My kids were playing basketball together and I got to watch.
8. In the carpool ride home from school with 5 high school kids, one of the boys sincerely asked me how my day was. There is hope for humanity!
9. I made breakfast for dinner and everyone loved it.
10. I had two hours of quiet time while the kids were at school to catch up on emails and paperwork.

That felt so good! If you’re feeling funky, stop and make a little gratitude list. It’ll make you feel so much better and maybe a small smile will sneak out too.