Jan 122017

Teenager Attitudes







by Stephanie Pletka

Help, I Have a Teenager

What happened to my sweet, precious child? You know, the one that was fun, lovable, a conversationalist and a friend.

It’s a phase, just like everything else.  Seasons of life come and go; it’s their right of passage.  And it too, shall pass. You survived it, and so will they.

Remember, kids actually like discipline, margin and guidance. It’s the world’s best kept secret. They’re trained as teenagers to roll their eyes, cop an attitude, sigh loud enough to break the sound barrier, but it’s all smoke and mirrors.

Their hormones are a mess, as they transition from children to adulthood. I know how they feel. They’ve got the case of the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s but I can’t, going on; testing the waters on every front.

Sweet Attitude Before Teenage Years

Sweet Attitude Before Teenage Years

Notice during game night, they act too old and cool to play, but they hover close enough, as to not miss out on the action.

It’s their job to test the boundaries, as they grow up, seek independence  and figure out who they are in this world.

Don’t you remember what u were like, growing up? 3 times worse. Oh dear God, I can hear the prayers now: please don’t let them be near as bad as I was, you know- you already have a story in your head; and it probably includes the word jail. You’re already calling your parents to say you’re sorry.

By testing the boundaries, they’re walking up to the Electric Fence of life to make sure it’s still there, making them feel safe, secure and cared for.

Guide them now, like bumper cars hitting the rails. Parental Guidance is a safe place for kids to bump life, test drive what works and what doesn’t, take notes and move towards success in a safe, secure area; before they enter harsh reality and life offers fewer soft places to land.

When they act unlovable, lean in, love harder, chase often and pray like there’s no tomorrow.

Like the Olympic sport, Curling, we’re whisking the broom left and right: love, lean in, hug, repeat. Hey, they gotta know we’re either crazy (highly probable) or care about them too much to let them veer off into the ways of the world.

They are your future. Their kids will be your grandkids. You have to fight for the goodness. No one will love, guide and care for your kids like you will.  Stay the course, parents. You got this! Don’t let them fool ya. They love the guidance and margin. Those rolling of the eyes, is just code word for ‘I love you too.’

Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a Father, the son he delights in. Prov 3:12

Jan 182011

Empowering moms for success – while making lunches kid’s will eat.

Click Link Below for Lunch & Snack Ideas:

Kid’s Lunch Ideas

I’ve received a lot of tips, tricks and ideas over the years, regarding school lunches and thought I’d share them with you.  Too often, I was the ill-prepared mom who couldn’t find 2 pieces of bread the morning of, to make a simple sandwich.

Providing a variety of healthy meals your kids will actually eat – is not easy.  At the beginning of the week, the kids and I collaborate on menu ideas:  criteria is based on healthy, tasty, do-able lunches.

I typically marinade and grill all my chicken on Sunday afternoon, and place them in sealed containers.  I’ll go ahead and cut part of the chicken into stripes or nuggets, for the kids lunches and set them aside in different zip locks, for the week.

I wash all the fruit and divide them into zip lock bags also.  I do the same with cookies / crackers – making the vanilla wafers with peanut butter, cutting the cheese, and dividing them into enough zip locks to handle 4 kids for the week.

I also make lunches for the little ones who stay at home.  This way, when they’re hungry, they just go pick up their lunch box out of the fridge and no one misses a beat.  If we’re running errands, I just grab their lunches and they can eat on the way.

After school, my older kids read the menu and grab the pre-made lunches already divided up – and place them in their lunch box.

It’s not easy being a mom.  Let’s stick together girls.  I’d love to hear your ideas.

Here’s to empowering moms for success – and lunches kid’s will eat.  : )

 Posted by at 7:13 pm
Aug 242010

Do you ever teach your kids things like sharing, honesty, responsibility you know, all the character stuff, and hope to goodness it sticks?

The other day we (me, my 4 kids and husband) spent the day at the pool; as soon as we walked in the door, the kids are hollering:  What’s for dinner?  I mean, we just got home.  If I could click my heels, dinner would be on the table, but give a mom a break, would ya?

Where’s my shoes?  Can you untie this?  I need socks!  Where’s my piano book? Where’s the PIANO?  I mean, really?  I think kids get so use to relying on mom to do everything, they begin to ask questions they already know the answer to.  I said:  Do you know where clean underwear comes from?  And, as if I was about to reveal where Santa Claus lives, the excitable 4 year old said:  Where?

I felt like a rebellious teenager.  I rose up and said:    The Laundry Room!  Eight little eyes looked at me as if I had said:  no more cartoons for the rest of your life!

Where are my shoes?  Wherever you put them.  Do I have underwear?  I hope so.  I felt rattled.  I said:   I quit. . . I quit . . . I quit.  They stood in Silence – Then came the giggles.  “Mom you can’t quit.”  You’re MOM.

Of course, I couldn’t  quit.  Nor did I really want too.  I mean, if someone else tried to walk in and take my place, I’d give them a run for their money.  We may complain, but we still want the job, right?

But what I have learned, is kids can be responsible for things, even at the smallest of ages, and while they may buck the system in the beginning, they sorta like the whole “team spirit” I’m apart of something “greater than myself” mentality.

It gives them a chance to see how life really works; they aren’t the center of everything, rather they’re one of MANY spokes on the family wheel.  It’s good for them to see how dinner gets made, and how clean shirts make it from the laundry basket to their closet.

They begin to take pride in helping with the dishes, the laundry, cleaning out the car and sweeping the kitchen.  Look at your to-do-list, tear off a piece and give it to them.  Before long, they’ll expect a chore or two, and before you know it, they’ll be cleaning the house, making dinner and doing the laundry. . .  I’m envisioning it now.  It’s all a process.  Just stay consistent and the rewards will be great.  Until then, has anyone seen the piano?

Teach me to number my days, that I might gain a heart of wisdom and fulfill your purpose for my life.  Psalm 90:12

 Posted by at 11:12 pm
Aug 172010

When I sold my business to stay at home, I figured – if I was the CEO of my company, I’d call myself the CEO of my household.  Hey, I run this ship, right?

But kids don’t care what titles you hold, who you know, or what you do for a living . . . When they’re little, it’s all about what THEY want.  I notice, each time I go to the bathroom to pee or even take a quick bubble bath, it must set off a silent alarm somewhere in the house.  As soon as the bathroom door closes, the kids come running.  It doesn’t matter if they’re watching a movie, playing in the backyard or riding bikes on the cul de sac.  As soon as I close the door to the bathroom, it becomes someone’s duty to knock, I mean – bang, cry, shove notes underneath or plead urgently for food.

In the minute it took me to pee, one of the kids colored their tennis shoes with a blue highlighter.  Why did you do that, Johnny?  Well, I was trying to tell you I couldn’t find paper and you weren’t listening.” Yes, it’s because I was IN the bathroom.”

I can hide in the closet to eat a rice crispy treat, (because it’s the last one – and frankly, I don’t wanna share) and what happens?  They come running.  It’s like they were born with dog ears, that can only hear high pitched sounds, like cookie wrappers and bathroom doors closing.

I can say:  Clean your room – And what do I hear? Nothing, but cricket sounds.  But you go to the back yard to sneak a piece of chocolate and they’re hunting you down like a heat seeking missile.  If I holler for the boys to clean their room, they can’t hear me.  If I call their name with a high pitched voice, they’ll come running; it’s like a horn blowing for a cattle call.

Like Bert is to Ernie, and Ying is to Yang, so it is with our children – doors close, they knock.  Wrappers rattle, ears perk up.  That’s what kids do.  It comes with the territory.

Just as death and taxes will always be with us, so will little hands knocking on doors and pint-sized sniffers smelling chocolate, after they’ve gone to bed.  Embrace the little-ness while it lasts.  One day, you’ll get to pee in peace, eat that last cookie in broad day light and be a respected CEO, once again.  But until then . . . embrace it ALL.  They are your little sniffers and door knockers. And we wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap a harvest, if we do not lose heart.”

 Posted by at 11:55 pm
Sep 072009


Andrew  10 months – Now Andrew at 3 1/2.

People say, hold on to every moment, because they grow up so fast.  I never understood that.  I wanted to, but while I was potty training the little one who got away from me, smearing poop on the walls, or when the 6 month old clinged to me for dear life and wouldn’t let anyone else hold him for months, it’s hard to remember this lesson.

Then one morning I woke up and amongst all the chaos of daily activity, my 6 month old baby was in 2nd grade and politely asked me not to kiss him at the bus stop anymore.  What?? My 5 year always ran into the bedroom 1st thing every morning to get a bear hug.  Now that he’s 6, he’s too old for this.  It breaks my heart.

I jokingly tell them “You better stop growing up on Me!”  And they jump and giggle, telling me that I’m funny.  And then ask me to measure them, trying to convince me that they grew last night.

We often focus on the task at hand, and don’t realize that they are growing up.  One minute they just want to cuddle and hug you (of course while you’re in the kitchen trying to make dinner) but don’t be too quick to shew them away – they won’t always fight for a hug or give you a million kisses or tell you “You’re a beautiful princess, mom.”

Soak up all the moments, good or bad, whether singing in the car or crying  in the floor, they’re your moments. You’ll look back and wish you had those times again.

Funny thing is, just like labor pains, you’ll forget the bad stuff and remember only the good.  So bend down, give them a hug, squeeze that soft little leg on your baby, high five your little man and walk with your head held high.  Like my 5 year old says:  Mom, you’re the best mom I’ve ever had.  That’s true, I’m the best and only.  You’re the only one who has the God given privilege to do this job, so make it count.

There are days when you want it to zoom by, but I’ve heard each level has it’s own problems.  The grass is not always greener.  Record their little voice, they won’t always sound like this.  Seize the moment. . . For this too shall pass.

 Posted by at 7:20 pm
Sep 022009

I love to read self help books, especially those that will give me great ideas for real-life parenting:  ideas for stubborn behavior, positive reinforcement, how to guide their little hearts to make good decisions when you’re not around – and establishing healthy boundaries.

The following books are true life changers.  I hope they enhance your life as much as they did mine.  Please send your comments or ideas on the books YOU’VE read and how they helped you.

Read and Live Well!

Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James Dobson

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp

The New Strong Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson

The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman

Boundaries with Kids by Henry Cloud & John Townsend

Baby Wise Series for Instants to Pre-school by Gary Ezzo

 Posted by at 6:00 am
Aug 312009

Training kids is not an easy task and definitely not for the faint of heart; especially when you’re in a hurry and think “This 2 minute clean up session is taking 10 minutes.”  You can feel that gray hair coming in faster than little Junior can get his toys in the bucket or little Mary can get her dinner plate to the sink.

I’ve trained my kids to understand the Team rules.  And I also color my hair. lol Here’s the drill:  If you drop something, pick it up.  If you want to take it, you have to carry it.  If you make a mess, you clean it up.  It’s ALL for One and One for ALL!

Those lessons weren’t easily learned. They were earned with blood, sweat and real tears. It took twice the effort to teach them to do it own their own, but well worth the investment.

As the family grows, so do the responsibilities.  The kids help each other with homework, the older one reads to the younger one and the 5 year old makes a “mean” PB&J for school lunches (it’s nothing to look at, but tastes great)!  We all have to help.  We’re in this together.

Otherwise, mom is the one doing everything and mom’s job is to lead, guide, teach and protect, not to be their slave, chauffer and short order cook.  It’s important that they respect your role, your authority and appreciate all the things you do for them.  Train them to say thank you.  I rarely have to remind them to do this..  It becomes second nature.  Believe me, It wasn’t always like this.

Cultivate a sense of TEAM Ship.  This will take the focus off of themselves, creating productive little citizens with an appreciation for You and their Community.

 Posted by at 7:00 am
Aug 262009

Sample Chart

Each Member of the Family is part of a team.  When the kids are little, you find yourself doing everything around the house, but as they grow and become a little more independent, it’s important to instill a sense of team work and community.  Making a responsibility chart has changed our lives.  Here’s how it works:

Each child receives a chart with responsibilities given according to age and maturity level.  The older they are, the more responsibilities, which means, the more stars they need to earn a prize, whether it be stars or money or something from a treasure box.

Example: 8 year old Responsibilities:


15 minutes of Reading

Unload the Dishwasher

Put away Folded Clothes

Help Make Next Day Lunches

Laundry (separate towels from clothes)

Hug Mom

Example:  6 Year old Responsibilities

Set the Table

Brush Teeth

Make Bed

Unload the Dishwasher

Homework (Write Spelling Words)

Hug Mom

3 Year Old Responsibilities:

Feed the Dog

Make Bed (as best they can)

Pick up All toys in backyard

Brush Teeth


Putting away folded socks/underwear

Hug Mom

2 Year Old Responsibilities

Clean Up Clean Up Every Body Clean Up

(put your toys in the toy box)

As they begin to do these responsibilities on their own, I take it off the list and put something older / more mature for them to do.

If there’s 5 items and 5 days in the week, that’s 25 stars.  I make the 8 year old earn 20 stars to get a prize or money, whereas, the smaller ones need around 17, anything less than that, they’re slacking on their responsibilities.  That means they’re only doing each item 3 days out of 5 days a week.

At the end of the week, whoever has the total number of stars needed, will be given $3 to go to the dollar tree and spend it anyway they like.  It’s cute to see them walk in there with their money.  They’ll pick up an item, think about it, put it back and pick up something else.  They pay for it themselves.  It gives them an idea of how much something costs and how hard they had to work for it.

Sometimes I will notice that one or two of the kids aren’t cleaning their room, so I’ll give the one cleaning his room a bonus star, which gets them an extra 30 minutes of “stay up time” while the other kids go to bed early or something special they like.  For my 6 year old, it’s gum. For my 8 year old, it’s playing his video game an extra 15 minutes without the kids in the media room harassing him.  : )  This makes the other kids more alert to the fact that a bonus could be given at anytime, so they better do all the responsibilities.

How to Construct the Responsibility Chart:

I take a bright yellow piece of felt, from Michael’s or other craft store – it looks like a place mat, (cost $1) Map out their responsibilities and place it on the front of the fridge.  I bought stars (from Michaels / Hobby Lobby) that you peel off the back, so it’s sticky.  All their stars start out on the right hand side of the chart.

When they do a chore, they move the star to the box.  During the week, we access how well they are doing.  They often times have to be reminded to do certain things like READ.  But as time goes on, they just get in the routine and it becomes 2nd nature.

I noticed that when I took down the chart, they quit doing everything. They need it as a guide for the day.

If one kid does the chart and another doesn’t, then they have to go to the Dollar Tree and watch the other kids buy something.  It’s a tough lesson, but one not repeated.  There will be cries and tantrums, but they know you mean business.  If on Friday evening they are lacking 1 or 2 stars, I’ll give them a chance to make it up before we go to the store, by having to do extra work that they wouldn’t normally do, sort of like giving them Grace.  And then off we go.  We make a big deal out of it, as if we were buying a new car.  I tell them how proud I am and their grinning from ear to ear.

So, now you have it.  There are always adjustments.  The Dollar Tree may not work for you.  You’ll figure out what works for you and your family and before you know it, you won’t be doing ALL the work.  The trick is figuring how to make them more independent!  It’s a Team Effort.

 Posted by at 11:36 pm
Aug 252009

If I saw something crazy or outlandish, I had this bad habit of saying:  OMG and my 5 year old says:  Mom, it’s oh my goodness!  not oh my God.  He’s right.  They will hold you accountable.

Have you ever caught yourself hiding to eat a cookie.  Once you have kids, it’s like you can’t eat anything and have it to yourself.  “What are you eating, mom?”  Do I smell Chocolate?  What’s in your hand?  Can I have that?  I just want to eat a cookie PEOPLE, without sharing, but the kids remind me:  you make us share.  aaaaaahhhhhh!

You teach them and then they teach you.  They hold you accountable  by holding a mirror to your face and showing you all the things you need to work on, because good or bad, they are little reflections of you.  You didn’t know you gave birth to a mirror.

 Posted by at 12:48 pm