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Friday, December 20, 2013


Divorce, separation, and death change our lives. Sometimes we move to avoid having to live in the same place we did prior to the separation, but sometimes we can't afford to move and we want to change our living environment. 

Maybe we want to build an addition or change the look of pre-existing rooms, so we can create new memories. Unless we are builders ourselves, though, we have to rely on outside builders to change the look of our homes.

How do we find quality builders? Word of mouth is often the best way to determine whether or not a company is as good as commercials say it is. But if we were able to know, before we decided upon a company, which one was trustworthy, we would feel better about our choices. 

So how can we know – if our friends and neighbors haven't already utilized the services we want to employ – if the company we choose is going to live up to our expectations? BuildDirect reviews gives consumers information to help them in their home improvement and renovation shopping experiences.

Check out their Facebook page (by clicking the link) to see some samples of what they have done to improve the looks of some homes. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Does Your Daughter Cry When You Brush Her Long Hair?

People who read my other blogs are going to think I'm crazy when they read this post, because I can't say enough about the this brush! I bought it for myself, because when my hair grew back in after chemo treatments, it came in frizzy and curly. I HATED brushing it, because it pulled and it HURT!

So when I saw the commercial for the Tangle Teezer, I decided to give it a try. I even tried it on my granddaughter, who frequently grabs her head when her mother brushes her long hair – and her hair isn't even curly.

If brushing your child's hair is painful, get the Tangle Teezer. I no longer use any other brush. 


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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Loving Your Pathetic Life

Life is a struggle for most of us, especially those of us who raise children without the support of a spouse. We especially feel that nagging feeling that we don't have enough and that we're not giving enough when it comes to the holidays. We get out our shopping list and see all the people on it. We see our kids' shopping lists and know that we can't afford those Skylanders or that Xbox or that Barbie doll house, and so we look further down the list hoping to find Pokemon cards or new crayons. And we become inventive – like getting the perfect container for those Pokemon cards or new sparkly markers.

We try to appeal to our children's creative sides by purchasing fun crafts our kids can create or build. And we learn to accept that we already have everything we need. As I write in my article, How to Love Your Pathetic Life, I feel fortunate to have everything I need to make life comfortable for me. I have, "a home, furniture, a car, a television, a laptop, a PS3, a wii, a stationary bicycle, weights, yarn, and crochet hooks." Yes, almost everything I own was given to me or purchased on sale, but I truly do have everything I need. And my biggest joy comes from spending time with my family and friends.

I also love making jewelry and crocheted items for others.

Just recently a couple of my kids asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Truthfully? Nothing! I want nothing. And then one of my daughters suggested a Hobby Lobby gift card, and I said, "Seriously, I don't want or need anything, but if you feel you have to give something, that's probably the best thing you can give."

So if you feel that your life is pathetic, look around. If you're reading this post you probably have kids and for that alone you should be grateful. I raised all of my kids with very little money. For years we lived below the poverty level, though they probably never knew that at the time, because I never made them feel poor. They are all grown now, and they still love me.

If your children feel loved, you have given enough. You have given more than enough. Love is everything. But if you're still feeling sad about not being able to give enough this Christmas, please read, How to Love Your Pathetic Life.

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Efficient Gift Wrapping Techniques

My first job at 16 was working in a gift shop, so gift wrapping was required as part of my job. Everything was set up nicely for me, but when I got older, I had to learn how to wrap gifts without having the advantage of a gift-wrapping station. More than 45 years later, I finally figured it out, and wrote about it here: 10 Tips for Wrapping Gifts.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What You Need to Tell Your Kids about Drugs

Maybe we're not handling the drug problem the way we need to handle our drug problem. Maybe we need to acknowledge something we haven't yet admitted to our kids:

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Alligators, Pythons, and Cobras, OH MY!

If you're ever in Wilmington, NC, and you want to take your kids on an adventure, visit the Cape Fear Serpentarium. 

When my son told me that he was taking me and his two boys to the Serpentarium, I was a little surprised to find myself actually looking forward to this adventure. Here's why (by the way if you decide to borrow one of these photos, make sure you properly credit it ©Theresa Wiza):

(I tried to post the bird photos on BubbleWS but they didn't post, so I'm adding them at the bottom of this blog.)

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Don't Tell Grandma!

Some people perpetuate lying in their families. Not by blatantly saying to their kids, "I want you to lie about this," but by putting their children in a position where the kids have to lie to protect the parent who asked them not to tell somebody something. 

But let me tell you something – kids KNOW when their parents are lying. 

I remember once being at a former friend's home and standing in the living room. Her office called in and she told whoever was on the phone that she couldn't come in today, because she was sick. 

Her son was standing right next to her and I looked into his eyes while she was talking. Her son knew she was lying, and I couldn't understand how she didn't know that for all of her talk about being such a good Christian, she was blatantly lying in front of her son and thought it was OK.

Protect family secrets is one thing, but when it's something as inane as, "Don't tell Grandma we didn't invite her," don't you think Grandma will find out she hasn't been invited? Because if Grandma asks her grandchildren, "So how was that event you went to last week?" what happens? The children now have to lie to their grandma.

What a lot of parents (apparently) don't understand is that when they put their children in a position where kids have to lie to protect a secret, parents are promoting lying.

One day, when they ask their children a question that requires an honest answer, they might not get one. 

Remember, if you teach your children to lie, don't expect to always receive honesty from them.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Flying Without a Net

While I have I flown many times in the past, I've never been frightened of flying – until recently. Although I must confess it does seem that those pilots slam on the breaks a little too late as we're heading toward the terminal. I find myself breaking too. And hearing about plane crashes that have occurred as recently as this year bothers me too. I could say thank God for life insurance, but I also want to say I hope I or anybody in my family never has to use it – at least not until we're really old – 62 isn't old, by the way ;).

I'll be boarding a plane in less than two weeks to fly back home to Chicago. The difference this time is that I'll have two of my grandsons with me. And one thing I pray for is beautiful weather. Another thing I pray for is a safe flight. Oh, and let's not forget good security at the airports,  an airplane that has been fully inspected, and a pilot who is sober and straight.

Life insurance is one of those things you don't much think about when you are younger. When insurance salesmen ask to spend some time talking to you about it, they come into your place of employment, you gather around all the other employees, and you phase out of the boring conversation – until you're older and you realize the importance and necessity of having life insurance. How much do you need? What will be enough to cover costs so your family doesn't carry the burden of having to pay for all of your expenses?

For me, it's a matter of a car and a house payment. I wouldn't want to saddle my kids with those bills. Luckily, Medicare covers most of my medical bills, so I don't need much life insurance, but I do want to protect my loved ones from having to add my debt to their own.

The flight in a couple of weeks is going to be carrying precious cargo, and we won't be flying without a net, because we are all insured. And I pray a lot!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Helping a Child Cope With Loss

If you are divorced, whether you are the custodial parent or the noncustodial parent, your child suffers a loss each time he or she leaves one parent for the other.

If you or your spouse is in the military, your child suffers a loss when one parent is away.

If your child loves a grandparent or a favorite aunt or uncle, maybe even an older sibling and that person moves away, your child suffers a loss. 

Be aware of your child's sense of helplessness over the loss. Comfort your child and talk about feelings and thoughts. Help your child cope by using whatever means are available to you.

Several years ago I wrote an article about the HugAHero doll. Because I feel this doll is so important and because I saw firsthand the way my great granddaughter responded to her Daddy Doll, I wanted to resurrect that article to help children who suffer through separation and/or loss, so I invite you to read: Help for Children Who Experience a Loss.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Through the Eyes of a Toddler or Baby

My youngest granddaughter is 22 months old and for up to 4 times a week, until the end of June, I had been watching her, her brother, and her sister. Now that I'm visiting my son in North Carolina, I am away from most of my grandchildren and will be for a total of 6 weeks.

Last week, my youngest daughter and I shared some FaceTime. She is the mother of the baby in the photo (and the baby's brother and sister). I talked with all of them on my iPad while they talked to me on an iPhone. The baby, who usually smiles widely when we are in person, just kept staring at me. I started to think about the world through her eyes.

I imagined her peering into the phone and wondering how I got in there – maybe if she got close enough to the screen, because at times all I could see was her eyeball, she might be able to climb in too.

So I started to wonder, can children ascertain the difference between what they see on their television screens, what they see through phone screens, and what they see in person? Do they know that most of what they see through a screen is not real? Or do they think all of it is real? 

Did the screen freeze and she tried to mimic my expression? What went through my granddaughter's mind when she saw me on her mother's phone screen? Was she expecting me to walk through the screen? Her face showed confusion. I would have loved to have stepped inside her mind to know what she was thinking. 

Try something. Pause while you look into the eyes of a child. You can almost see the wheels spinning as they connect what they see, hear, feel, taste, touch, and experience to all of their previous experiences. They copy our expressions, our tones of voice, and they imitate our actions and our words. The best we can do is set a good example and hope their experience of the world is a happy and joyful one.

The photo above shows a classic example of a child attempting to mimic an adult. Avery doesn't get to see Uncle John very often, but she follows him around, sits next to him every chance she gets, and, as you can see in the photo above, tries to imitate his actions.

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

WHY DIdn't You Read the Label?

Repeat – WHY didn't you read the label? I  hear about so many kids dying because they used specific products – not because the company who created those products was neglectful, but because parents and caregivers DIDN'T READ THE LABEL!

Case in point: The Nap Nanny could not have made any clearer its directions to NEVER put the Nap Nanny anywhere but ON THE FLOOR. Five infant deaths resulted – NOT because the Nap Nanny was deficient in any way – but because caregivers IGNORED THE LABEL! Sadly, the item had to be recalled because people DIDN'T READ THE LABEL.

TOYS come with labels alerting parents to the potential dangers of giving certain toys to children under the age of 3 and yet people consistently give these toys to children, some of whom die because they used the toy. 

Whose fault is it? The company for making the toy or item or the parent or caregiver who DIDN'T READ THE LABEL?

WHY would you risk the life of a child? Did you think your child's death would never happen to YOU? It could! And it has.

Do yourself a favor – when you receive an item that comes with a label informing you of the proper way to use the product, PAY ATTENTION! You could be saving the life of a child and you could be saving yourself from years of guilt and torment. READ THE LABEL! 

But don't just read it – follow the instructions.

Photo of Nap Nanny comes from

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Packing Tips for Family Vacation

How many times have you gone on vacation and come home with everything you packed? Sometimes it's a pair of socks, sometimes an iPod or a phone, and sometimes it's your boarding pass. If you're tired of forgetting to pack things, or if you're tired of losing things while you're on vacation, read on:

When my son joined the Marines, I traveled often to see him and his family. I currently spend many nights at my other kids' homes or apartments as well. I sometimes think I spend more time away from home than I do at home. 

Because of my many travels, over the years I've discovered the ideal way to pack and to remember everything to bring back home. 

Are you planning a trip and you want to learn from my mistakes? Do you want to always bring back with you everything you packed? Read Travel Writers: How to Return Home With EVERYTHING You Brought On Vacation! I guarantee that what is written in that blog will apply to you and your family.

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Gummy Bear Drug Alert

Do you REALLY know what your kids are doing? You've heard that hidden dangers lurk everywhere, but do you believe that your child could be in danger from something as common as a Gummy Bear? 

You think your children are safe, because you monitor their indoor activities and place locks on your computers and gaming devices, but you need to educate yourself about the many new and seemingly innocuous dangers that could not only harm your children, but also kill them.

Though you might believe yourself to be involved with your children, please notice if their actions are in conflict with previous actions they have taken. Don't blame changes on their age. Some parents are completely oblivious to their children's activities, and they make excuses for bad behavior by saying, "They're just being teenagers."

But are they? Have you noticed that some of their behaviors and comments cause your head to cock slightly and your eyebrows to furrow? Pay attention to times you say to yourself, "Hmm, that's unusual" or, "That doesn't make sense."

Because you might notice bizarre things such as purchasing more vanilla extract than you would normally buy. Did you know that the alcohol content in vanilla extract can cause your child to become high if he or she drinks enough?

Have you ever thought cinnamon or nutmeg could be dangerous? Do you seem to be using more spices than you thought you were using? If those spices are missing from your cabinet, you might have a problem. Snorting cinnamon causes a high. Cinnamon powder inhaled into the lungs can cause coughing spasms so severe, your child could die. Snorting nutmeg causes hallucinations and could be very frightening to a child. Educate yourself on the effects of snorting household products.

Gummy Bears soaked in alcohol can cause a kid to feel drunk. You might be asking, "Who comes up with these ideas?" Some kids (and adults) are willing to try anything and everything to get a buzz. They post their findings on the Internet. So you need to monitor your children closely. Maintain a good relationship with them. Allow them to feel comfortable telling you anything and don't judge them when they try to communicate with you.

Let your kids know that friends don't ask friends to do something that makes them feel uncomfortable. Talk to your kids about their friends and tell your children that if someone asks them to do something that sounds stupid, silly, or weird, don't do it! If they feel pressure from friends, they need to redefine – with your help – the term, "friend." Friends support and encourage each other to BE themselves. They don't force actions or beliefs on each other.

If you suspect unusual drug activity, contact's Drug Enforcement Administration. Agency contact information is listed in the link. 

Above all, protect your children by staying involved in their lives. Let them know – without a doubt – that you love them and that if anything happens to them, you'll be there for them.

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