For 99 cents Tuesday, Jan. 21st only, Get A Proven Book on Making Marriage Last

January 21, 2014

My friends, Devra Trent Wooten and Roy Wooten, have published their first book!

Help make them a best seller by spending 99cents TODAY and buying a copy of their book.  (You can buy it after today but it won’t be 99cents!)

Email a copy of your receipt to inquiry at for a special thank you gift.

This is a great book with lots of 5 star reviews…invite your friends to this one day discount deal!

The Secret to Lifetime Love: Speaking and Hearing Truth
Roy and Devra have held over 100 marriage seminars and retreats. This book is a tool for the two of you to use together. It will help you find a way to successfully say what you need to say. The struggle in communication in which you find yourself is probably like well-worn ruts in a road. Your e…

The Sweet Life in the New Year Can Be Yours. Find out how…

January 10, 2014

That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.   Emily Dickinson

New Year.   New Opportunities.  New Start.  In single parent and stepfamily life, the new year is an important time for us.

But I think we arrive at it differently than other kinds of families.

For instance, the holidays for our families have the additional stress of transitions with children, perhaps issues with the ex, and the feelings of loneliness that may come with being without your children for part of the holiday or overwhelmed by all the kids/stepkids.   All of these are manageable issues, and you can learn to work through these issues for better holidays in the future.

But what doesn’t go away is that I can’t seem to catch my breath about the New Year until the kids are all back in school, even now that our children are in highschool and college.

Anybody else know what I mean????  Once normalcy has returned to our schedule, then I have the time to really think about the old and the new… and our hopes and dreams for the coming year.

So while you’ve been receiving Happy New Year’s for the past 10 days, allow me to chime mine in on January 10th!

This time of year is also strange for while there are many who feel good about the coming year, there are always those who have questions and concerns about what this year holds for us.  And who are still having trouble dealing with last year’s stuff.

Remember the quote above?

I love the quote above because it was sent to me more than a decade ago during the early years of our stepfamily life, and we were having a tough time.

My first reaction to the quote frankly was… frustration and sadness. “Great, it will never come again, and it’s not good. I’ve missed the chance to make it good. I will never get to do this time over again.”

But then, I realized that it didn’t say it was sweet because it was good. It was sweet because this was the only time for this time.

My thought changed again: “If it won’t come again, I better make it as good as I can- even though I’m struggling. I better make it as good for my children as I can- even though they are struggling. How can I make it sweet?”

The first part of creating a good new year’s feeling is to just realize that you are doing what you need to be doing –  taking each day as it comes.

The second part of finding the sweet life is getting clear on what you need to help you during this year.  Over the course of the past 16 years since I divorced, 3 years I was a single parent, and 13 years (coming up in Feb) of being in a stepfamily, I have learned that the most important thing I can do to help myself and my family is to get all the support I need.  To be intentional about creating a specific support system.

After all, single parenting is not supposed to mean “alone” parenting.   And stepfamily life is more complex.

Our families require more than just a few friends, your mom, and a therapist.

If it is okay with you, I would like to suggest that your first goal of this new year is to intentionally create the support you need, so you can create the life you want, love your kids, and embrace the year with whatever comes your way.

How the heck do you do that?  I can guide you each step of the way, really.

But you’ve already taken the first step with your intention, your understanding of the need for support, and staying in touch with us at The Bridge Across.   While creating support takes a little time and intention, it will help to guarantee that you can conquer 2014. 


Stay tuned for the first kind of support you want to focus on… Friends and Family.  It’s not just about having them.  It’s about knowing the kind of support you need from them.

Happy New Year to you, and here’s to the sweeter life that can be yours with the right support.

What Never to Say to Your Kids About the Holidays… The Big DON’T of the Holiday Season

December 20, 2013

One of the things that I see single parents and stepfamilies (and other families) do at the holiday times is stress about how much they can spend on the kids.

Worse, they feel soooo bad about not having a lot of money or enough money to buy all the things their kids want.

fabulous christmas


In order to prepare their kids to go without the latest ipad, xbox, or favorite toy ever, they tell their kids that “we aren’t going to have a big Christmas this year” or “we don’t have a lot of money for Christmas” this year.

My own personal opinion is this is the one thing you never want to tell your children at holidays.

“What do you mean?”, you say to me. “Shouldn’t I prepare them for not getting what they want?”, you say to me.


Because by saying things like that, you are creating SCARCITY as part of your holidays.

And nothing could be further from the truth of Christmas. Holidays are about being together, sharing memories, and giving as well as receiving.

So… what do you do or say instead???

1. When your kids start listing off what they want, just listen and let them. Marvel at all the wonderful things there are in the world to want when you are a kid instead of feeling guilty that you aren’t giving them everything they want. (Even Santa Claus doesn’t give kids everything they want. He just gives them one or two things because he has to remember all the children of the world.)

2. You can say, “It’s so fun to think about all that stuff, isn’t it? I wish a magic fairy would just send it all to you right now.” If they remark back, “what about Santa Claus?”. You can say, “Santa Claus has to remember all the children of the world, and I know he will remember you.”

3. Make sure everyone is evenly gifted among the kids– bio kids, step kids, alike, and make sure that grandparents know how to do that too. (If you have a grandparent that wants to give something extra- do it at another time and not in front of all the kids.)

4. Teach your children to focus on others, not just themselves. Christmas isn’t just about getting, it is also about giving. You and your kids go to the grocery store, buy some canned food, and donate it to the food bank. Have your kids clean out their closets before Christmas, and take the clothes and toys they’ve outgrown to the Salvation Army or Goodwill or Homeless shelter. Do a fun run for a good cause. Have each kid pick out an inexpensive toy to donate as well.

5. No matter how much you want to try, don’t compete with your ex in the gift giving department. You are enough. And when your kids talk about all the gifts they got from their other parent, just ooh and aah. Your kids may not remember what they got from the other parent in 10 years, but they will remember a mean comment by you, so just bite your tongue.

So drop the guilt, squelch the urge to spend your last $200 of credit on that really expensive doll or electronic toy, and give your children what they will actually remember year after year after year….

You, and holidays rich and full with memories of traditions, love, and thoughtfulness.

What’s Christmas Songs Don’t Talk About…

December 17, 2013

Gifts of time

One year I was gathering a list of the Top 25 Christmas Songs for a presentation about increasing the joy and decreasing your stress at holiday time.

When reviewing this list, I was so surprised to see that only one mentioned gifts and Santa Claus.

The rest of these songs are all about the memories and the wishes to be home and with family on Christmas.

This is what Christmas and the holiday season are really about.

Contrary to retailers everywhere, holidays are not about money or gifts.

Holidays are about the great things of life.  Not about what you can buy.  It’s not about how much money you have.  

Holidays are about what you create for yourself and your family.  

Make the holidays and the message in your home about the most important things- love, family, warmth, and being together.

The fullness of your holiday is not measured by the number of gifts but by the traditions and memories created in being together.

Decorate the tree, go see the lights at the zoo, ice skate at the local place, have a movie night with favorite holiday movies, and save room for hot chocolate, popcorn, and enjoying the holiday decorations of a favorite neighborhood. 

Give your kids less of what they don’t want and more of what they really need for the holidays…  your time, your attention, and your love. 



Fun Family Stuff for the Holidays- Writing Your Own Family Lyrics to the 12 Days of Christmas!

December 12, 2013

So a year or two after we were married, Mike and I and our 4 kids (then ages 6-8) were on a car trip lasting several hours.  It was one of those times when the children were talking about all the extended family members they had (in stepfamily life) and the different traditions in each of the families.

We decided to write our own lyrics to the 12 Days of Christmas using our many relatives and the fun things we liked to do as a family:

One the first day of Christmas, my family gave to me:

1 terrific brother  (instead of a partridge in a pear tree:)

2 parents in love

3 beautiful sisters

4 crazy kids

5 cans of silly string

6 cousins

7 roller skates and bicycles

8 bowls of ice cream

9 party poppers

10 aunts and uncles

11 grandparents

12 hugs and kisses

Whether you have a big family or a small family, any parent and child can make up their own 12 days of Christmas or other holiday song.

Have you written your own song?  What would you and your family sing about?  What fun things have you and your family done?  Post them here!

Happy holidays!!!

What do Thanksgiving, squares, and spaghetti have in common?

November 27, 2013

squareshpt              spaghetti

My kids were young when I was a single parent, and I always spent Thanksgiving with family and friends.

When I became part of a stepfamily in 2001, I wanted to start some specific Thanksgiving traditions. Your first holidays together can set precedent for the future, but I was feeling overwhelmed. So that first year, my mother- in-law hosted us and other relatives. It was a relaxing time with someone else doing most of the cooking but we all chipped in including the kids. That bought me two more years until the next time…

But our second Thanksgiving together, I was ready to set a precedent, and it turned out to have a life of its own. First, my husband, Mike, and I decided to have Thanksgiving in our home. Second, since Thanksgiving is an important celebration, we chose to have the meal at our more formal dining room area. The kids (all four between ages 8-10) were thrilled to be sitting at the formal table.

But what to cook? When I was growing up, we had the traditional fare – but that was what I was used to. As a stepfamily, everyone comes from different traditions and food choices or none at all, so that can make it hard. Our children didn’t like the same food but I was wanting a “traditional” Thanksgiving ritual for our family. But I also wanted everyone to be included and have a stake in the success. I started asking each family member what they would like to eat and help make for our Thanksgiving meal. I was surprised to find that everyone liked having their own choice, and I was relieved that each child would have at least one or two things they like to eat.

I planned for the turkey- cooking it in a roasting bag- (just follow the package directions)- for the easiest, juiciest turkey and gravy ever.

Mike picked stuffing, and green bean casserole.

My stepdaughter asked for her favorite salad I make with sweet dressing.

My stepson chose spaghetti- (he’s not a big turkey fan)- and the lime green jello his Grandma makes.

Jessica, my oldest, wanted hot rolls.

My younger daughter loves mashed potatoes and corn on the cob.

It was the loveliest hodge podge of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner I’ve ever seen. We planned when and how to make the dishes. Those we could make ahead of time, we made the day before. Each child worked with me to make what they wanted, and helped serve it. After dinner, everyone was assigned a chore- pick up dishes, clear the table, sweep the floor, etc., so that no one was stuck in the kitchen.

And our other new tradition:  Mike cut up squares of colored paper.

While we were waiting for the last few minutes of the turkey to cook, he gave out a handful to each of us. He said to write one thing we were grateful for on each square. They were both fun things like- my toys, my Suduko, etc. and serious- like friends, God, family members, good food, etc.

After saying the blessing and eating, we sat around the table with that big pile of colored paper squares. We went around the table and each person would pull out one square and read it.

Then we had fun trying to figure who wrote it. We went around the table many times reading from the squares about all that we were grateful for.

It was the sweetest moment for me. Teaching our children what Thanksgiving means. Seeing and understanding each person’s blessings literally on all those colored squares.

How about you? As for those colored squares of paper, you can do those anywhere- at your home, in the car, on a cruise, or anywhere that you holidays lead you.

Once you figure out the traditions that work for you, it will feel like Thanksgiving no matter the day or who is with you.

And that is a blessing, too.

7 Easy Ways to Teach Your Kids to be Grateful for What They Have

November 27, 2013

by Laurie Meade (Lauries Legends Co)


Here are some easy ways to incorporate instilling the virtue of gratitude in your children. As you go through your day, show them, the wonderful events going on behind the scenes that we all most usually take for granted.

1. Set the Right Example. 
It is better if you teach them by using the appropriate words at the right times yourself. How many parents do you see saying “Thank You” to there two or three year old children. It is through example that kids learn best, and teaching gratitude is no different than anything else in that respect. “Children Learn What They Live!”
2. Teach It Through Role Playing.
You can play games with your children that implement the virtue of gratitude. Play the second chair and practice showing them how it feels to be on the receiving end of an unexpected, “Thank You!”
3. Teach by Showing Them How to Be of Service to Others.
Even simple things such as holding a door for an elderly person, are small ways we can show them how others appreciate us and our actions. It is also a way to put a smile and a lift into a strangers day, which always creates a good feeling within the person who is doing the kind act as well. You would be surprised how many times a simple gesture like this can occur in your normal day activities, in places like grocery stores, doctors offices, or shopping trips.
4. Make a List.
An easy way to get them to make lists of what they are thankful for is to use “The Daily Gratitude Journal Software” You will find a link to this software in the resource box at the end of this article. There are two versions, one written in “kid language and displaying an output of “kid fonts” and an adult version as well.
5. Teach Gratitude While Going Without Things.
Recently my single family of three kids and myself had to deal with a full 24 hours of no power. This outage caused by a wind storm, was an ideal opportunity for me to teach them what we had to be thankful for that we normally took for granted. Simple things like, lights, heat, and being able to watch Tv, were just a few that quickly came to mind.
6. Show them How to Be Thankful for the Little Things in Life.As in the previous example, although, most of us would not consider heat and light little things, they are things that are always there for our kids, so they are simple things that they usually don’t pay much attention too.Other simple examples could include having food to eat all the time, friends to play with, and having plenty of toys and school supplies. Showing them examples of third world country children who go without these things is a way of teaching them appreciation for what they have, too.

7. Teach them to see the good in someone they don’t like.

You can even use a negative experience to teach them the value of being grateful. When I think of this, immediately what comes to my mind is the Walt Disney movie, “PollyAnna” where she played the “Glad” game and found many things to be grateful for in every situation she encountered. Renting this video, watching and discussing it with them would be a great, gratitude building quality time family activity.

As you go through your day, show them, the wonderful events going on behind the scenes that we all most usually take for granted. Things like the police, who protect us, the firemen who are there for those who need them, and the clerk at the grocery store doing her job to help us get our food. Simple thank you comments to all of these daily activities is the easiest way to role model appreciation that they will learn and emulate.

Learn more about teaching kids the lost virtue of gratitude. Visit: http://www.dailygratitudejournal.comfor more Free Tips on Teaching Kids Gratitude.

Enjoying Thanksgiving… No Matter What!

November 26, 2013

When you think of the very first Thanksgiving meal and how strange it must have been with the pilgrims and the Indians- sharing food with enemies and trying to create harmony, this Thanksgiving probably won’t be that:).

I’ve been divorced now for 15 years. Those first holidays were so hard and felt so strange. If you are in that place this year, just know that it WILL GET better. You WILL get it figured out. And stop to give thanks for everything YOU DO HAVE this holiday season.

If this is your first year as a stepfamily, enjoy the newness of the season but lower your expectations (and then lower them again).

All family stuff tends to come out at the holiday time. Your kids may be cranky, the ex may be cranky,  your spouse may be acting weird, and any new relatives may add a whole new dynamic to the mix.

What to do? Make sure to exercise early in the day, so your body and mind are more relaxed. Practice saying something that will allow you to get through strange moments like “oh well, we are all doing the best we can!”.

And try to enjoy the meaning of Thanksgiving and lay off the expectations of it being perfect. You will enjoy the small, sweet moments and there are lots of them.

Being thankful is the only requirement on Thanksgiving Day. You can do that any where, anytime and anyplace– with or without anyone.

Some years, my husband and I had all of our brood together plus grandparents, enjoying a hodge podge of food and fun.

Other years, when our children were with their other parents, we’ve taken a trip.  Yes, we  miss our kids, but we are thankful that while they are not with us, they are alive and kicking in this world.

If you are not having your kids this Thanksgiving- try to enjoy your time alone, make a plan for the Thanksgiving day, and do whatever you think is fun….

Let this be a Thanksgiving where you practice the thanking to God, to yourself, and to others.
If there is one thing I’ve learned, there is ALWAYS more to be grateful for than you think there is….

Happy, happy, happy Thanksgiving.

Why Raising Good Kids is a Waste of Time

October 31, 2013

Every now and then, you find an author that says something so clearly!  I love this article because it helps us understand that rather than thinking about how we should make our kids “happy”, we want to think too about what will help them to grow and grow up into great adults.   Allowing them natural consequences and not trying to give our children “everything” helps them to be better adults.

When I look back at some of the struggles my own children had, I can see clearly now how those struggles served them.

A great article with some interesting ideas for all of us to think about.  Happy Halloween!


This article published by Justin Carper of the  

Justin Carper is a writer, blogger, husband, father, and youth leader in Shelby. Read more at, or email him at

Published: Monday, October 28, 2013 at 08:57 AM.

If you have kids, are around kids, or vaguely recall seeing a lot of really short people running around, then you have inevitably heard a child ask their parents, “Why?”

As the father of a three year old, I hear this more times than I can count. This inquisitive nature is not exclusive to three-years-olds, however. This “why” mentality is something we all deal with on a daily basis.

As parents, it is imperative that we teach our children the difference between right and wrong. We want them to know what things are culturally acceptable and what things are frowned upon.

Parenting, in my opinion, is a lot like golf. If you have ever watched it on television, it looks incredibly easy. It is only when you decide to play for yourself that you discover it is quite the opposite. Everything you thought you had learned by watching the pros goes out the window.

While I am not a golfer, I know that the object is to get your ball into a hole, but not just any hole. If you tee off on hole number two, you must get your ball into the cup on the second green.

Parenting is similar in that we have a particular direction in which we are aiming.

It doesn’t matter whether you realize it or not; you are aiming your children towards something. Just as the golfer intentionally moves his ball towards the green, we are prodding our kids towards something.

To read the rest of the article, click below:

Parenting and Your Daughters Looks

October 24, 2013

Parenting And Your Daughters Looks

Posted on October 23, 2013 by About The Children LLCLeave a comment ↓

Your Daughters Looks

What messages are you sending your daughter about how they look?

It’s easy to tell your daughters that they are beautiful because you are able to see all of the beauty within them, inside and out. What message do we give them however, when we can’t as women find the same beauty in ourselves? Are we modeling that although they are beautiful when they are young, they are doomed to hate their bodies and looks as they get older?

Parents have a huge impact of how their children view themselves. If you are non-accepting of yourself, you will pass this right along to them. Now while I am not promoting conceit and arrogance, I am promoting a certain amount of self praise and appreciation that all women should have for themselves. We women are an amazing species! We juggle kids, spouses, homes, careers and any major catastrophe that should come across out paths. There is no reason not to be appreciative of who we are and how we look.

I had a niece whose husband constantly made cracks about her being a fatty (she was a size 8) and jokes about her nose. She would laugh it off but I knew deep down inside it was a hurtful thing to have the man who supposedly loved you, joke in such a cruel way. Whether he meant it intentionally or not, it still had the same hurtful impact. What’s worse was that his children were learning from this. They are learning that being a size 8 is fat and that it is not ok to have imperfections on their body or face. After all, if their own father can’t accept their mother for who she is, then who on earth will ever accept them. This is when young girls start to strive for perfection and end up with low self esteem and eating disorders. They get enough bombardment from the media about how they should look they certainly don’t need the same at home.

So the bottom line is this, you must acknowledge the beauty in yourself. You are a role model for your daughters; they will learn from you. If you don’t take any time with your appearance and hate how you look then this is what you are teaching them. On the other hand, if you take pride in how you look, they undoubtedly will pick up the same attitudes. They will in turn, not be afraid to be imperfect nor will they view aging as a negative process.

Your body may not be what it used to be but there is always something positive that you can find about yourself. No one has six pack abs forever nor do they have perky breasts or perfect hair and teeth. Everyone has something that they don’t like about their appearance but the trick is to show your daughters how you embrace yourself as a whole and not just focus in on the negatives. Be quick to give yourself compliments and let them experience you enjoying your appearance. This is not a conceited attitude it is an expression of self worth. Self esteem is how your view yourself by what others think of you, self worth is how you view yourself by what you think of yourself.

So share with your daughters how you like your hair or your long legs. Let them know that although your breasts are not as they once were that breastfeeding was one of the highlights of your life and so worth it. Don’t always use your finances on your children. Make sure that you budget for that pedicure or take the time to do it yourself. Buy a new hat or pair of shoes. Take the time to apply make-up if that is your thing but don’t give the message that you are hideous without it. This gives your daughter’s the message that they should hide their natural beauty behind a mask. Once when I was putting on make-up my little niece was watching me and asked me why I was doing that. Her mom didn’t wear make-up so she was curious. I told her that I did it because it was fun and I liked to; that was my simple explanation. Women don’t have to wear make-up to cover wrinkles, make their eyes appear bigger or lips poutier, they can simply wear make-up because they want to!

I observed a grandmother and her granddaughter in a pool one time and the little girl asked her grandmother what were those red and purple lines on her legs. The grandmother said that sometimes as you get older you get veins on your legs. The little girl paused for a minute and then said “they are so pretty”. I was flabbergasted! How many women see the veins on their legs as they get older as pretty? This little girl was looking at her grandmother with innocent love untainted by what the world has deemed beautiful. This is how we need to look at ourselves. As I get older, I do not fear the wrinkles. To be honest, it’s an adjustment, but it is also part of the aging process. I refuse to let getting older make me feel less self worth about myself. I will randomly comment to my daughter that I’m having a great hair day or that I love how this outfit or piece of jewelry looks on me. I see this same attitude in her ad it makes me happy. I see her embracing her imperfections and feeling comfortable in her own skin. It has been a battle because the world will tell her otherwise, but what you have to keep in mind is that no matter what the world says, the parent will 90% of the time have the greatest impact!

By Dawn Varela

%d bloggers like this: