For the love of cake!

I love to celebrate all things. I especially love birthdays. They are fun and I get to shower all kinds of love on my family and friends. And the best part is CAKE, unless I am throwing a surprise party!!!

cake and coffeeIn our house, on birthdays, cake is what’s for breakfast. Jason pointed out to me on Saturday, Joshua’s 9th birthday, while I was eating my breakfast cake and after I cut all 4 kids cake for breakfast, that it use to only be that the birthday person gets cake but now it seems cake is for everyone. I am not exactly what all I said to him but I am sure it was close to “birthdays happen once a year and shut up, I need cake and coffee” or “ I don’t  work out 6 days a week to not get cake when I want it and not feel guilty.” Just didn’t get all that negative energy from him ;)

In reality birthdays happen in our house 6 times a year and that is only if I am not hosting a loved one’s party because I will make cake for that too.

This year Joshua wanted white cupcakes but he knows his friends like chocolate so he asked me to make both. I, of course and without hesitation, said yes. I mean when the birthday boy is thinking of others one has to do what he asks. Rain cancelled our birthday weekend plans to go camping so we had a couple of families over for birthday dinner and sleep over to celebrate Joshua turning 9. Some are allergic to things I am not allergic to so I, of course and without hesitation, had to make safe cupcakes for them as well. So at the end of it all we have 36 cupcakes and one 2 layer cake and only 14 people (the 6 of us included in that number) for birthday dinner, which means lots and lots of cake leftover.

I can bake pies, pop-tarts, make all kinds of ice cream, cookies, breads, brownies and not touch them. But my goodness if there is cake around I want to eat it all the time. I have so much cake in my house I love it. I just don’t love that I can’t eat it guilt free or not feel I have to do a second workout each time I eat cake. Despite me using healthier ingredients I still wish I could eat cake and be as carefree and have the high metabolism my kids do. Oh well, we have a little over 2 months till the next birthday.(Unless I make a cake for Easter) It’s not like I am eating cake every day.



You are not their friend you are their parent, so act like one!

a12ea2bd416889abfb007d3cfc7d5ab5If you become their friend along the way that is a great reward but you should not start out as their friend. They need you to be a parent more than they need you to be a friend.

Due to your lack of parenting, involvement with your child, assuming the school or church will teach your child how to be a decent person who cares, respects and is kind to all persons I am forced to fight battles with and for me kids that should not be happening and are not pleasant. The battles cause us to suffer through emotional pain together. Despite what I’ve taught my kids about love, kindness, compassion, courage and being who God made them to be, despite all my encouragement, how much I embrace my kids and teach them the things you choose not to we all suffer. You suffer and your child suffers you just may not realize it yet.

My child’s world falls apart and their inner being is hurt and chipped away at because you, as a parent don’t seem to know or care what type of person your child really is and what they really do. When is the last time you watched them interact with their friends and they didn’t know you were watching or listening? When did you last check their text messages, Instagram posts, Facebook page, etc…etc…etc..?

How often do you sit down for a family meal and discuss what they think, feel, what happened at school, how their friends are and know them all by name and what they might be going through? How often are they home for you to interact with or do you have them so busy with activities there is not time for family connections, fun and mentoring? Or maybe it’s not activities but its friends, do they spend more time with their friends or locked up in their rooms alone that you really don’t know what is going on in their life?

The phone is not a babysitter. It is not a safety net. It does not replace you. It does not mean they will be free from harm because you drop them off at the mall, Starbucks, someone’s home, the park, etc…but you act like that. The computer and TV are not their babysitter either. Have you placed filters on them? Probably not because there are not filters on the phone you gave them. They are exposing my kids to content suited for grown adults and then they ridicule them for not being knowledgeable about it.

You don’t’ get a hall pass or an easy way out because they are in middle or high school and have a phone and can drive. You still should be setting limits on what they see and hear and what they do. THEY ARE NOT GROWN! They cannot make a smart, educated, rational decision and fully understand the consequences it will have on them or others. Their brain is not fully formed, it is still growing and it will not be done growing until they are 25, yes TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OLD!

Why do you let them watch whatever they choose? Why do you trust the ratings given to movies and TV shows? It’s only a guideline. It does not mean all PG movies are for every child just because you watch it with them. And let’s remember when we were growing up there were only 2 movie ratings, PG and R. The 1980’s PG movies would be closer to PG-13/R now days but yet you make a family night of watching those movies. Movies where there is cussing, nudity, drinking, etc… This only sends messages that they can watch anything they want. That the behaviors are not that bad. You encourage movie makers to continue making those type of movies. You fill their minds with negative ways to live and treat others. Do you understand that what goes in the mind comes out of their heart, they live it? Take the movie Mean Girls, despite the somewhat happy ending and bad cliques disbanding at the end I promise you that is not what most kids take away from the movie. Instead they are acting out the ugly, mean, rude, and spiteful behavior 90% of the movie is about. Ask any school counselor or teacher and they will tell you the same.

NEWSFLASH In case you didn’t know it there is far more teaching and training of a child that goes beyond reading, writing and arithmetic.

They have to know:

  • How to show respect.
  • What is self-respect
  • What is self-worth
  • How to be kind.
  • How to be loyal.
  • What integrity looks like.
  • How to be honest.
  • How to stick up and care for those who can’t do for themselves.
  • How to be aware of their surroundings.
  • How to help those in need.
  • How to love and to know it’s far more than a word, or kiss.
  • How to protect themselves and stay safe.
  • How to show concern for others.
  • What is sympathy and empathy?
  • How to be brave and stand up for what is true and right even if they are in the minority.
  • How to have courage.
  • What bravery and courage look like and to know it does not look like a selfish, manipulative, mean girl.
  • The dangers of social media.
  • How not to be selfish and rude.
  • That the number of followers or Facebook friends you have means absolutely nothing. It doesn’t make you better, popular, more loved or even liked.
  • They cannot take their personal issues and heartache out on others.
  • It is OK to ask for help, have a mentor, counselor etc… it doesn’t make them less than.
  • That some relationships just end and it that it is OK, it does not make them unworthy.
  • Mistakes are OK.
  • No one is perfect.
  • They are unique and special.
  • Being themselves is the best person they can be.
  • How not to be judgmental.
  • You can’t/shouldn’t and do not need to say everything that enters your mind.
  • Everyone is different and that is what makes the world amazing.
  • They do not need to attend every argument they are invited to.

This is hard stuff people but it is the most important. What good is an education if they are rude, spiteful, selfish people lacking in respect and compassion? Our children are our future. What kind of future leaders are we going to have if they cannot learn to be a decent, caring, honest human beings who give back to society. They should learn those things from your example not social media, TV, friends who don’t know all of the above. We already live in a selfish, narcissistic world where adults determine worth by the number of followers or online friends. Can anyone else see this is detrimental for all of us and our future? I am reminded of some lyrics by Whitney Houston.

I believe the children are our future Teach them well and let them lead the way Show them all the beauty they possess inside Give them a sense of pride to make it easier

Children need to learn they are beautiful on the inside. The outside should not be the focus of beauty. If your inside is beautiful it cannot help but make you beautiful on the outside. They need to know they are worthy because they have gifts and talents, not worthiness based on how many friends or what material things they possess. They need to know how to be happy with themselves, to be confident in who they are. When they know that they know that they know these things there is no limit to how far they can go, what they can achieve, how much love they can give and how blessed their life can become.

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I am out of Dawn!


This morning as I was getting ready for the day Jason comes into the bathroom and says “It’s shocking! You won’t believe this!! WE ARE OUT OF DAWN!”

“WHAT?! Like how can that be?” I say probably with a puzzled and confused look on my face.

But we were, not a drop of Dawn in our house, not a trace amount in an empty bottle. Nothing left in the sink soap dispenser.

The reason it is so shocking is for 3 years I had a ridiculous supply. Read about that here. Even though I quit buying the large bottle on a bi monthly basis, or even weekly basis I still bought a few small bottles more often than I needed them because I was always sure we were out or running low. (I must have some deep seeded fear and/or anxiety about not being able to clean my dishes.)

So although I have a full day and wasn’t really wanting to go to the store I had to…. I had dirty dishes in the sink (the ones we don’t put in the dishwasher) and well, I can’t let dirty dishes sit for too long.

In case you were wondering, Yes, I did purchase the largest bottle I could find. Only one though. However we do have about 10 tubes of toothpaste. That seems to be my new “we must be out of this” each time I go to the store.

I am not one of those couponer persons that ends up getting 20 something’s for pennies…if I was I’d probably have enough money to take the family to dinner and a movie.


Adding to our crazy life

yums daisy 5Things just keep getting better. At least, that’s what we think and feel. Despite having a very old dog, a large puppy, 4 kids who keep us busy with Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, basketball etc…etc… we decided to adopt another dog!! (Don’t mind her demon eyes, just couldn’t edit those out.)

Daisy Love arrived Sunday. Her former owner lives in our area and Daisy is from the same breeder as Yuma, in fact they are full-blooded siblings. Daisy is just 2 years older. It was the breeder who put us into contact. She was loved immensely by her first owner  and it was so difficult to watch their goodbye but due to things out of her control the owner needed to find a safe and happy home for her beloved dog.

We had Daisy over for a few play dates before Christmas and they went smoothly. Daisy is an excellent dog, well-behaved and she keeps Yuma from digging and chewing everything. She definitely puts Yuma in his places when needed. It has been good for Yuma to have an older dog around. I am guessing she will help make sure Yuma grows into a great adult dog. We definitely see the differences between a puppy and adult dog. Having both seems to keep things in a good balance. There is work to do with obedience. her past owner was deaf so daisy is accustomed to hand signals only. We are teaching her verbal commands and she seems to be picking them up quickly as she does follow Yuma’s lead on that at times. She is not as big as Yuma, although most find it laughable when we say “oh, she’s just 75 pounds.” But with Yuma at about 100 pounds Daisy is much smaller to us.

Yesterday the dogs were out side about 98% of the day and they played constantly. I am not sure where they got that amount of energy but it is rather nice, they are outside a lot.  They came in for meals, a little but of cuddles and then when it was bedtime. Today has been the same. All play, wrestle, chase and so on.

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Out with the old and in with the new.

We got back from a 2 week trip last Friday and let me tell you what I have not done.

  •  I have not unpacked.
  • I have not undecorated my house completely.
  • I have not done a full house cleaning.
  • I have not made my bed at all.
  • I have not cared about what tasks I have not completed yet.

But here is what I have done:

  • I have bought groceries.
  • I have gone out to dinner and a fun light show with the family.
  • I ran 12 miles Saturday and worked out on Monday and today.
  • I took my youngest two shopping to spend their Christmas money.
  • I made some great dinners and we have spent the evenings, talking and laughing over food as a family.
  • I can promise that I cannot promise I will unpack or undecorate anymore today.

So why am I writing about all this? Well, because it is a big deal. It is a HUGE deal for me. There was a time when we would get home from a trip, regardless how late, and I had to unpack everything, go through the stacks of mail, clean what was dirty all before I could go to bed. It wore me out, stressed out my family and made my kids anxious. I have learned none of that matters. I have come to terms with it being OK that I do not take pride or a sense of accomplishment with conquering a to do list. In fact, my to do list is changing from task oriented to people and making meaningful moments oriented. I have, still am, letting go of all that which makes me anxious, stressed and steals joy. Over the last year and a half I have been embracing more laughs, fun, silliness, creative moments, being still with those I love, not caring what anyone thinks of what I do or don’t do, how I parent, choices I make, how I spend my time, how I spend my money or don’t spend it…. it is has been freeing and fun. When you let go of all that junk of trying to please people and feel accomplished you have more time to enjoy life, see the meaningful moments, make meaningful moments, be you and make your life yours. I have 6 people I only need to worry about. God, Jason, and my 4 kids. When I focus on God He takes care of the rest. When my husband and kids feel loved and adored it is the best thing. Everything else out side of my home is extra, lots of good extra but I cannot be the friend, sister, daughter, volunteer, whatever…whatever…. if I don’t keep my house in order first.

I say no a lot more. I love it. No need for extra work, burden, or hectic schedules if it doesn’t meet the needs of my family and I or if it is not a calling from God. Life will go on, I have my kids and my health for a short time so I will choose to enjoy them first. Read past blog posts like Finding the Middle or Fighting the Demons and you can see how tense I lived my life. Stark contrast to how I feel today.

In all these positive changes I can look back over pictures of myself and my family and see many changes. We are smiling more, having more fun, being super silly. I am in more of the pictures and am taking more pictures of our ridiculousness and the kids love it. I look forward to the future because I know we will continue to make fun, silly and wonderful memories and I look forward to the days we sit and reminisce about the past because I know it will make us smile and laugh, have little regrets and sadness.

So Happy New Year. Here is to me doing more of not doing but enjoying the blessings of a husband, children, great dogs, amazing friends and extended family that are in front of me, being present with them and making great memories as we do life together.





I am that Sports Mama

I absolutely LOVE to see my kids play. I LOVE being in the stands cheering for them, being so happy I cry, being so excited I shout and have all sorts of body language, being such a loud cheerleader for them I lose my voice and my throat is sore. I want them to hear me; I want them to see me when they look into the stands. I want them to see me watching them, being the biggest cheerleader EVER. If I ever get kicked out of a game or am told off by other parents because I am too in to the game I will wear that like a badge of honor, a moms gold star sticker, I will consider it a privilege.

I have always loved sports but I was a one person sport player in school. Track, Cross Country and Tennis. Yes, they all had teams but I always played singles, and in running you run with your own might while trying to come in near the top so it helps your team but you run the race on your own, you are to blame if you fail.

I never thought I would be such a loud, exuberant, energetic mom in the stands. I surprised myself at Taylor’s first basketball scrimmage last year and I loved it.

This fall Joshua started his second season of flag football. Jason was one of the coaches and they both had fun! I had the best time watching him play. He is pretty amazing. He loves playing quarterback and I have to say he is pretty darn good at it. He has a great arm! Every week a parent whether from our team or the opposing team had great things to say about Joshua and his throwing abilities at his age. I enjoyed every compliment they said to me. It was great to hear and I am one proud mama.

Joshua wants to play football all the time, every season. I am all for that. I am ready to see him play in middle school, high school, college and NFL. I am ready to make a soup commercial all decked out in whatever team garb he is playing for.

He loves Peyton Manning and knows he will meet him some day. He has never said “if I meet Peyton” he has always said “when I meet Peyton.”

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Ugh… why does everyone have to do what everyone else is doing?

If you don’t think that is the case then just look at your Facebook feed.  Everyone posts the same video, same RIP to so and so famous person, everyone’s back to school picture is the same… it is so boring. As a creative person I’d like to see a bit more variety in life.

I get my news from, well the news broadcasters so when so and so famous dies I heard it all ready. Why post a sad RIP to someone you didn’t know? Yes, death is sad and loss of life affects people but let the news stations be the ones to hash it out, who they were, why they died and so on… I mean they don’t report all the real news anyway so they need something to talk about. Leave Facebook to telling me what food you ate, type of workout you did, what cool things you learned, where you traveled to, how you lost it as a parent when your kid did whatever, funny things your kids said, and so on… that’s entertaining… the sad, depressing stuff the news will cover thoroughly for far too long anyway.

I love Pinterest, I Pinterest a lot! It can be inspirational and I have gotten a lot of great tips from many pins. But when taking pictures of your kids and family why not be YOU?! Do what says and looks like YOUR family, YOUR kids. Make it unique and funny. Don’t print off the same chalkboard printable or make your chalk board look like everyone else to snap a picture of your precious child. How is that different from the school pictures? Yeah, it’s cuter than a blue/gray backdrop but save the look a likes for the yearbook and standard school pictures. Make your child’s first day about them, make it look like they do on a daily basis. If they are sad summer is over why not snap a picture of them crying (or fake crying) holding their back pack or throwing it; or why not a picture of them in their swimsuit and a back pack because they are not ready for summer to be over?

After seeing the fun pictures of my brother and his wife sent out for Christmas my family has gotten away from the posed, matchy clothes, Olan Mills-ish family photos. We are so glad we ditched that idea about 5 years ago because they are just so boring and not too much different from the pictures from the 1800’s where no one smiled. Our favorite family pictures are crazy, goofy, funny ones that say ‘THIS IS THE SWARTZ FAMILY!’ Everyone we know has told us they cannot wait for our Christmas cards because they are so fun to get in the mail. Heck, the office at the kids school asks me every year if they are getting a card because they want to put our fun picture up on the office door. How cool is that?! We only do matchy stuff around here for Halloween because we dress up thematically because we will turn ourselves into a Star Wars movie, Marvel Superheroes, a band of scallywag pirates, a football team, etc…

BeYOUtiful! How many times have you seen that posted or heard some one quote it? Countless times…. So why not just be you? Do your thing. Make your own path. Make your own statement. Take the path less traveled. Be creative. Be unique. Have fun. Teach yourself and your kids to be different. To stand out from the crowd do not get lost in it. Variety is fun, exciting, makes the world interesting. Go be You and not worry that you are not like anyone else because that someone else is already taken. Make a mark and make your life memorable. It makes for great stories in the future when you sit around with your kids and their kids and talk about all the things you did as a family that wasn’t like anyone else’s. I do my best to make choices and do things that will create those kind of moments later. I want to make sure my kids feel more than comfortable about being different, not following the crowd and not feeling they need to do and say what everyone else is because that makes them blend in and not shine when they are interviewing for the job of their dreams or auditioning for something they love.

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Day by Day

March 2015
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