Gratitude Challenge - Day 7 Photograph

As part of the Gratitude Challenge, I was technically supposed to post this picture to my social network on Day 7, (I'm way past that!) but the important thing is that I've gotten it out here now, right? I took this photograph during our amazing family vacation to Hawaii three years ago. It inspires gratitude in me on several levels.

For starters, all my life I've wanted to see Hawaii. I secretly think I was supposed to have been raised there. My mom claims my father passed on a job opportunity when my siblings and I were really little, and instead of the Hawaii job, he selected the Midwest. But that's okay, because I wouldn't know all the incredible people I know right now if he hadn't done that. (Guess that makes for gratitude point number two!)

Another reason this picture inspires gratitude in me, is because I'm NOT a professional photographer by any stretch of the imagination. But I carted my tripod and camera over treacherous terrain, set it up and messed around with the shutter speeds until I achieved this awesome effect of the waterfall.

I'm grateful that when we took the trip, our kids were old enough to always remember it. I'm grateful that we took the time to travel on Maui's stunning Road to Hana, and used the detailed guidebook of island secrets our friends suggested. I'm grateful we were all healthy and fit enough to traverse the top-secret hazardous trail of slippery rocks, which ultimately led to the discovery of this incredibly beautiful hidden waterfall.

When I look at this photograph, it brings back all the memories of that remarkable trip…

• Standing on black volcanic rock and witnessing the formation of the earth as glowing hot lava seared its path through the rain forest, dropping with a steaming hiss into the Pacific Ocean.

• Hiking over that same black volcanic rock in total darkness, with only the stars (& our GPS unit) to guide us back.

• Daily rainbows.

• Exotic flowers and plants.

• Fresh pineapple and delicious Hawaiian cuisine.

• And the most beautiful views we've ever seen.
We had some of our most memorable family vacation moments on this trip. Some great, and in all honesty, some not so great—but we can laugh about those moments now. And finally, I'm grateful for this picture because it also represents a hope that one day, we'll get to go back there and experience it all once again.

Now, on another note…

I'd like to give a great big thank you to Amy of Moving On From the Drama for blessing me with the Lemonade Stand Award for my gratitude attitude!

The rules for this award are:

*Put the Lemonade logo on your blog or within your post.
*Nominate at least 10 blogs with great attitude or gratitude.
*Link the nominees within your post.
*Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
*Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

Here are the ten blogs I'm nominating for their own Gratitude Attitudes:

3 Little Ones
A Walk in My Shoes
All in an Iowa Mom's Day
At Home with Heather
Baby Steps
Diary of a New Mom
Everyday Mama Drama
Holli's Ramblings
Megan Rebekah Blogs…and Writes
On My Way to Barnes and Noble

And another thank you goes out to The Girl Next Door Grows Up for presenting me with the One Lovely Blog Award. She has a "lovely" sense of humor and you should check out her blog for a good chuckle when you have a chance.

This lovely award is to be given to up to 15 blogs you have newly discovered and, of course, think are just lovely. I'm encouraging aspiring writers to visit the following writing-related blogs. I get "lovely" encouragement and inspiration from them all:

Alice's CWIM Blog
Writer Mama
Mridu Khullar
Daily Blog Tips
Nathan Bransford Literary Agent
Newbie Blog
The Wealthy Freelancer
The Well-fed Writer
There Are No Rules

Texting – Walk the Talk

I got busted! With all my high and mighty talk about placing limits on my kids' texting habits, it appears I needed a reminder to follow my own rule.
We took our annual family trek to Frankenmuth, Michigan a couple of weeks ago. For those of you who've never heard of Frankenmuth, it's a super cool town known as "Michigan's Little Bavaria." It is also home to the uber-famous Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland, the world's largest Christmas store. Bronner's unabashedly proclaims "the joy of Christ's birth is celebrated all year at Bronner's - Enjoy CHRISTmas, It's HIS birthday; Enjoy Life, It's HIS way." The store provides customers with a phenomenal 5-1/2 football fields of dazzling Christmas magic.

Every year since our oldest daughter was two, we've had a family tradition of visiting Frankenmuth in early November. We have dinner together, enjoying traditional German cuisine at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant, then head over to Bronner's to shop. Each year, we allow the kids select one ornament of their very own. That way, by the time they leave home, they'll have several of their very own hand-selected ornaments to take with them for decorating their first Christmas trees. We always spend two to three hours in the store, just meandering through, exploring the miniature lighted villages, home d├ęcor, and ornaments of every theme you can possibly imagine.

But something happened during our visit this year that's never happened before. You see, last year we didn't have a cell phone family plan with unlimited texting.

This year, as we strolled along exclaiming over the glittering sites, every so often Ashleigh or Joshua would flip open their cell phone and whip off a quick text. After much grumbling, I finally told them to knock it off. "This is family time," I proclaimed, and they should simply hold off on texting their friends right now. They were actually really mature about it, agreeing with me and putting their phones away.

A short time later, while we were marveling over some Italian hand-painted mouth-blown glass ornaments, I heard telltale beeping coming from inside my purse. I unzipped it and checked. Ah, a message from my dear friend Susan, asking me a pertinent question about the upcoming city council vote. I quickly sent an answering text. A moment later, she texted back with a new question. I responded again. We went back and forth a few more times when I suddenly felt as if I was being watched. I glanced up to see Ashleigh and Joshua standing in front of me. Brows arched, arms folded across their chests.


"What?" said I, still pathetically clueless.

"No texting during family time!" they said in unison.

Oops! Heh, heh. Need to follow my own rule, I guess.

I flipped my phone shut and was a good girl for the rest of the afternoon.

Cell phone image by: Alanairis
Bronner's image

Girls Fashion Trends: Too tight or too short, that is the question

My 15-year-old son was having a discussion with one of his best friends and her mother on the way home from a Halloween party a couple of weeks ago. They were discussing the issue of girls' Halloween costumes. When purchasing a pre-made costume, it appears that girls, from elementary school age up through teenagers, have a choice between form-fitting catwoman-type body suits, and the super-short-skirt variety.

They asked my son his opinion on which he thought was worse: too short or too tight--as far as attracting a guy's attention for all the wrong reasons. He claimed, "Too tight is way worse than too short."


He explained that although the skirts are often too short, most girls (at least the girls he hangs out with—thank you God!) wear shorts underneath these skirts. In essence creating a skort. But the form-fitting ones outline everything, leaving nothing to the imagination.

But as I thought about the discussion later, I wondered why we were even debating between too short or too tight? I mean, what's up with this trend anyway? No matter which type of costume girls pick, most of them pretty much portray young girls as sexy. What kind of message is this sending our girls? Dressing like a slut can be fun?

Of course, this trend isn't exactly new. The costume situation has been escalating for a couple of years now, and it's really just an offshoot of girls' fashions in general. I wonder if it all started with the underwear peep shows. You know what I'm talking about. A few years ago, it suddenly became socially acceptable for girls to let their bra straps hang out.

Image by lenifuzhead

What's the big deal, right? So what if I'm wearing a spaghetti-strap top and my bra straps are hanging out for the world to see. At least I'm wearing one, right?

Then clothing manufacturers started making them clear so we can pretend we don't see them. Or they make them brightly colored so we can pretend it's just another clothing strap. And if the bright red bra that goes along with those brightly colored straps clearly shows through that lovely sheer white blouse our daughter is wearing, it's all good.

Close on the heels of the bra-strap trend came the "whale tails." For those of you not familiar with the popularity of thongs, whale tails are the term used to describe how the top of the thong rises above the waistband of girls' low-cut jeans whenever they sit down.

Guys have gotten in on the whole underwear peep show act too. Although the massive amounts of fabric hanging above the falling-off-their-butts jeans that define boys fashion today hardly qualify as a "peep show." I don't get it! Are teen girls seriously swooning over this look? (I know mine isn't!)

Image by: Malingering

I'm curious. If you're the parent of a daughter (or son!), what do you think of the recent trends in girls' fashion? Do you think the underwear peep shows are perfectly fine? And which is worse: too short, too tight, or both? Share your thoughts.

Costume images: Rag Doll, Tea Party Hostess,Sexy Prisoner, Sexy Pumpkin Witch

I'm Grateful For...These Blog Awards!

I'm so honored! I've been blessed with two--count 'em two--blog awards within one week. And right smack in the middle of my 21-day Gratitude Challenge. How cool is that? Now I have even more for which to be grateful.

My grateful thanks to Laura of Ziggy's Blog  for presenting me with the Honest Scrap Award. She gave me this award which is typically "given to others whose blogs you find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged you." Aw shucks, I'm blushing! Thanks so much, Laura. As a fellow mom of teens, Laura's blog is chock full of great information about teen trends. I encourage you to check out her blog.

This award comes with some rules:

1. Thank the person who gave the award and list their blog and link it.
2. Share "10 Honest Things" about yourself.
3. Present this award to 7 others whose blogs you find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged you.
4. Tell those 7 people they've received the Honest Scrap Award, and inform them of these guidelines in receiving the award.

So here are 10 Honest Things about me:

1.  My kids will be surprised to learn this about me, but I tend to be a little uptight at times. I know, I know…shocker!

2.  I hate change.

3.  My children are constantly forcing me to grow. (Emotionally & spiritually, not height!)

4.  I can get lost while driving in my own hometown.

5.  I'm supposed to be wearing my glasses for driving at night but I use my son's eyes to see street signs instead.

6.  My first two years of college, I lived on Doritos, M&M's and Mountain Dew. (All the stuff mom and dad never let us have when we were kids!)

7.  I'm a secret control freak. (Guess it's not so secret any more. Heh, heh!)

8.  I graduated from high school and college without ever taking Chemistry or Biology. (I took photography and astronomy instead. Can't get away with that today!)

9.  I'm writing a novel.

10.  I have bug-phobia.

I invite all my blog readers to check out the following blogs that I am in turn presenting this award to:

1.  Julie at Foursons
2.  Brandy at You Don't Know
3.  Chef Eureka at Two Peas in a Pie
4.  Christine at Propeller Head Mom
5.  2 Toddlers and Me
6.  Natalee at Raising Normal Kids
7.  Kristine at Stories of Life: One Writer-mom's Odyssey
I am also the grateful recipient of The Heartfelt Blog Award, given to me by Kristi of Moms Own Words. Thanks so very much, Kristi!

The rules of the Heartfelt Blog Award are:

1. Display the logo.
2. Nominate up to 9 blogs that make you feel comfy or warm inside.
3. Link to your nominees.
4. Let them know they have been nominated by commenting.
5. Link to the person from whom you received the award.

Soooo….here are the 9 folks I'm presenting with The Heartfelt Blog Award.

1. Yonca at Yonca is Cooking
2.  Missy at Two Little Monkeys
3.  Lauren at Thinkspin
4.  Marisa at Mama Needs a Hobby
5.  Tami at Diary of a Mad Woman
6.  Molly at I'm a Sleeper Baker
7. Vanessa at A Military Wife's Mayhem
8.  Amy at Moving On From the Drama
9.  Christina at hooey! critic

Gratitude Challenge

I stumbled across this Gratitude Challenge while poking around the Mom Bloggers Club. My hubby and I have always tried to emphasize to our kids the importance of maintaining a gratitude attitude.  Our family has had some emotional and monetary setbacks this year, and I've made a deliberate attempt to maintain a gratitude attitude by writing down five things for which I'm grateful every night before I go to bed.

Check out the groovy Gratitude Challenge widget I've pasted below my bio on the right-hand side of my blog. I think it's totally cool!  Anyway, in honor of the approaching Thanksgiving holiday, I'm challenging you, my beloved blog readers, to take the 21-day Gratitude Challenge along with me.

If you have a couple of extra minutes, check out this inspiring YouTube video of the first thirty people who took the Gratitude Challenge. And keep a rockin’ Gratitude Attitude!