Family · Uncategorized

How to Celebrate Saint Nick’s Day.


Have you ever celebrated Saint Nikolas Day on December 6th?

Growing up in Southeastern Wisconsin in a German family it was celebrated every year. I’d go to school on the 6th and everyone would discuss what Saint Nick had brought them. It was a very big deal.  However, when I moved to another Upper Midwest state no one had ever heard of it.  Here is briefly the story of Saint Nikolas of Myra or jolly old Saint Nick.

The story of Saint Nikolas starts with a real person Saint Nikolas of Myra (270-346 AD) in modern day Turkey.  Nikolas was known for many good works, among which was giving gold to families in their stockings or shoes put by the fireplace or front door.

To commemorate Saint Nick’s generous nature, every year, on December 5th (evening) children put their stockings out for a visit from a more jovial form of the Saint.

In addition to cities with a strong German influence like Milwaukee, the holiday is celebrated by the Catholic and Episcopalian religions, and descendants with Polish, German, Dutch, and Ukrainian heritage.

Typical things left in the stockings include fruit, chocolate coins, and a small gift.  For my stockings, I would put my list for Santa inside the night before and Saint Nick would take it to Santa and leave a few presents to tide me over till the holiday.  The good children receive treats and the bad get nothing or coal.

For my own son I have also kept the tradition of St. Nick.  It’s a fun, magical time for little ones.  While you can have the day be a more religious one, a secular one is also acceptable.  I try to incorporate my German heritage into the holiday season when I can.

My husband once accused me of making up the holiday so I could buy my son more presents!  Nope.  It’s real.  I had to print out articles from the internet to prove it.  Even some of my Catholic friends said it wasn’t a real holiday – until their priest presented it!  I remember giving them a hard time that they are now celebrating a “consumer” holiday.  Of course now they just argue that it is religious one.  Do you celebrate Saint Nicks or do you keep your stockings for Santa on Christmas?




10 Great Children’s Books.


I love to read!  I mean LOVE to read!  I have always tried to pass on this love of reading to my son.  I’ve always told him I will buy him as much reading material as possible.  Video games, however, are a different story.  He has to pay for those himself!  He either earns the money through chores or uses money he gets from the holidays.  My personal favorite is when he asks me to come up with a chore that is worth $25.00.  I say to him if there is a chore out there for $25.00, I’m going to do it and keep the money!

We have always had books.  Since Christmas is coming up I’m going to start posting lists of books that children would love.  Giving literature is always a great idea!  So let’s start:

  1. Go Dog Go by Eastman. A short but sweet book about a dog that goes!  Great for a toddler.
  2. Galaxy Zach by O’Ryan (series). This is a great series about a young boy who moves to another planet and goes on many adventures.  Great for 3-5th grades.
  3. Mercy Watson by DiCamillo (series).  If you get one series, get this one.  I bought a set for my son’s second grade teacher.  The students all loved this book.  The even stopped reading a different book when I gave them book 5 of the series.  They wanted to read from this series right away.  Even as an adult I love the story.  I wish the writer Kate DiCamillo would write more about this porcine wonder.
  4. The Giving Tree by Shel Silversteen.  Another great classic book.  A simple but beautiful story about giving and taking geared towards all ages.
  5. The Velveteen  Rabbit by Williams.  This classic children’s book tells what it is like to love and be loved. This book made my son cry.  He then asked me to keep it and never get rid of it.  So this one goes in our permanent collection.
  6. Good Boy Fergus! by Shannon.  Another favorite of my son’s.  He loves the hi jinks of a lovable little dog named Fergus.
  7. No David! by Shannon. My son had to have this book read to him every night!  It’s a very short read, but funny.  David is always being told no by adults.  When you read the book, you’ll know why.
  8. Corduroy by Freeman.  Another great classic children’s book.  This is the story of a little teddy bear who is looking for a home. I read this as a child myself.  Still a great story.
  9. Matilda-by R. Dahl.  One of many great books by the famed children’s author Ronald Dahl. I love this one because of the strong female lead.  An inspiration to little girls everywhere.
  10. The Bear Snores On by Wilson/Chapman. (Series) This is a cute series of books about a bear who is trying to hibernate and his woodland friends.

I hope this list gives you some great ideas of future books for all the children in your life.  What are your favorite children’s books?  Tell us in the comments.


My Favorite Podcasts.

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Like listening to podcasts?  I think it is a great way to pass the time. I love podcasts.  I listen them in my car, while waiting for a doctors appointment, walking the dog, trying to sleep (I’m an insomniac), and working on my blog.

What podcasts to listen to?  The possibilities are endless.  You look at all the varieties of categories and the breadth of podcasts in each category the possibilities are endless.  What to listen to?  Here are some of my favorite podcasts.  I hope you enjoy!

True Crime Japan. I must admit, I love a mystery. I don’t like gore.  I avoid many crime television shows for that reason.  I don’t like to see people hurt or the evidence of it.  What interests me is why someone disappears.  What is the motivation of someone?  The psychology of it all.  In True Crime Japan, the hosts cover various crimes all commited in the land of the rising sun.  Because Japan’s culture is so unique from that of America’s it’s crimes also take on a different meaning.  Everything from how or why they happen to how they are investigated is unique to the Japanese culture.  I makes me wonder how different things are in say Nigeria, or Chile?  While True Crime Japan does not broadcast a lot it is definately worth subscribing.  Also, their hosts must put a lot of work into research and then translating.  So be patient.  It is worth it to see the unique quirks of a cluture as well as the dark elements not show in the tourist guides.

The Art of Charm. “The Art of Charm” is a broadcast geared towards men.  However, I think the topics they cover apply to both sexes. It is designed to help men improve their social skills thus improving their life. “The Art of Charm” also has a webpage and physical location to ficilitate more learning.  What I love about this podcast is the experts they have in each episode.  You can always go to that person’s website or get their book to learn more.  Past topics include: How to improve memory, how to gain confidence, how to survive a faster furture, and relationship exit stradgey.

The Minimalists.  The minimalists consist of Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus.  Two childhood friends who starting living the minimalist lifestyle.  They have written books, done a documentary, have a weekly podcast and a blog helping others define and live their own minimalist lifestyle.  I like this broadcast because every week it reminds me to evaluate what I own and if I need it.  You hear questions from other listeners and get and give answers to their particular situation.  So take some time and join the minimalist movement.

Stuff Your Mom Never Told You.  This podcast is a cornucopia of various topics. It’s a great way to spend your time. Topics the podcast has looked into in the past include: The Vegetarian Gender (definition of Vegetarian and Vegan and what gender has to do with it), Women of a Certain Age (about the aging process in women), Is Burlesque the same thing as stripping, and What does a feminist look like.  Podcasts are short and too the point.  A great way to spend your listening time.

Thinking Sideways. Okay, this podcast is my guilty pleasure. I love to listen to this one. This podcast examines everything from crime to cryptozoology, aliens to the atomic bomb and everything in between.  The hosts Devin, Joe, and Steve sit down every week to discuss a new topic.  They try to be skeptical but allow for some crazy theories if they are presented as a solution by others.  The hosts are just ordinary people investigating and learning about extraordinary things in our world.  Past topics have included: McCormack Cypher, The Spanish Flu, Dyatlov Pass, Isdal Woman, The Princes in the Tower, The Wow signal, Maura Murry disappearance, Isabella Art Theft, Lord Lucan and Atlantis.  Interested in the strangeness of the world? Give Thinking Sideways a try.

Unfound.  My final recommendation is the podcast called “Unfound.”  It is a missing persons podcast.  Each episode investigates what happened to a missing person before their disappearance and the investigation afterwards.  The story of the missing person is told by someone with firsthand knowledge of the case such as a relative or friend.  The aim of the podcast is to try and solve the disappearance and keep the disappeared in the spotlight.  I think the host does a good job of presenting the facts while showing those left behind compassion and patience.  He not only presents the disappearance but the personality of the disappeared is also presented.  They (the disappeared) are not just a story but real people which sets this podcast apart from others in the genre.






5 Manners 4 Kids


Manners are on the way out.  So it seems anyway.  What happened to basic decency? Shouldn’t manners just be common sense? I don’t know, but here is a reminder that manners are always in fashion.  They are actually a part of daily life. What manners should you be discussing with your children?  Listed below are five areas you can cover with your children to ensure they have good manners.

Here are five more manners for children to know.

  1. How to sit properly.  Sitting up, with good posture and leg placement is important.  Habits for sitting are established in childhood.  For children learning how to sit is going to take some time and practice. So be patient.  You are going to be giving lots of reminders!
  2. Keeping Promises. While keeping promises may not be part of “manners” it is part of your character.  Character, like manners, give people a picture of who you are.  Learning that what you say means something is never a wasted lesson.
  3. Saying “Excuse me” when walking in front of someone( like at the grocery store. ) You know what I mean, right?  You’re in the soup section trying to find a certain kind of soup in the endless sea of red and white Campbell’s cans.  Someone always walks in front of you.  I’d say I get an “excuse me” about half the time. A small gesture can go a long way!
  4. Asking to pet an animal.  Kids love animals.  Who hasn’t seen a cute dog in the park and wanted to pet it? Kids are no exception.  They see a dog, squeal and run up to it.  Some dogs or dog owners just don’t like that.  It can also be a safety issue. Some dogs don’t like strangers and could bite.  Learning how to approach an animal and it’s owner is not only good manners but being safety conscious too.
  5. When to stand up.  Sounds silly doesn’t it? Everyone knows when to stand right?  Not necessarily.  Knowing when to stand for the Pledge of Alliance or the National Anthem is one thing, knowing when to stand for an introduction, hello, goodbyes, and in various ceremonies takes time.  Make sure you help you child to understand the when and the why of standing up.



10 things to Clean


Here is this month’s list of 10 Things to Clean (but that you almost never do). Let’s get cleaning!

  1. Door Frames and Door knobs.  Get all that finger print dirt off!
  2. Your toothbrush holder.  Clean it, replace it or run through a dishwasher.
  3. Your electric toothbrush.  Replace the head and clean the body and holder.
  4. Facial scrubber.  Replace the pad and clean and disinfect the handle.
  5. Razor.  Replace it!
  6. Loofah. How old is it really?  Yuck, get a new one.
  7. Corners of the room. Get those cobwebs out of there!
  8. Stove drip covers/knobs.  Get the gunk out.
  9. Electrnics. When was the last time you cleaned your cell phone, ipod, laptop and more.
  10. Washer/Dryer.  Wipe everything inside and out.  Don’t forget the lint trap!

10 Things to Declutter for the Holiday Season.


Tis the season!  The season to declutter that is!  Yes, declutter.  Look I know the holiday season from Halloween to New Year’s is a VERY busy time for all of us.  However, decluttering can not only help you cope with the stress, but make each year easier by limiting everything you have to dig through.

  1. Your credit card statement.  Okay, I don’t mean take all your credit card statements and shred them.  Although, you can. I mean go through them and look at the actual charges.  Are their reoccurring charges that you can get rid of?  Say a magazine subscription you no longer read but haven’t cancelled?  That gym membership you never use?  Time to let those go.
  2. Online. Unsubscribe from all those emails.  It’s easy to ignore all those emails that go to your social media tab in your email. Start unsubscribing from them. Keep you inbox clear!
  3. Candles.  Tis the season to give and get candles.  How many do you have? Do you have a drawer full of unused candles?  Time to get serious and sort them.  How many of them are half burned? Time to cull the herd down to a select few that you really enjoy.
  4. Old Makeup. Clear out your makeup case.  Can you narrow it down to just what you wear? Let the old and unused stuff go!  How about nail polish?  How many do you have that you haven’t used?
  5. Ugly gifts. We all get them.  That ugly elf picture you mother-in-law thought was oh so cute but goes with absolutely nothing you own, accidentally drop it and get rid of it.  You should only have things you want, not something that others think you should have.
  6. Dinnerware.  How many sets of dishes do you have?  I understand one good set and an everyday set, but do you have extra dishes from various relatives or holiday dishes?  How about mugs?  We all have those travel mugs that say I love NY or something.  Time to donate?
  7. Liquor.  Have bottles of liquor around you house?  Do you have a liquor cabinet?  How many times do use those bottles?  Have you had that same bottle of rum for the past five years?  Time to let them go.
  8. Spices.  Check you spice cabinet.  Spices have an expiration date.  Let go of the spices that you only used once and haven’t used again.  How about the more popular spices.  Are they expired? Time to replace them.
  9. Old Pens. We all have a junk drawer or a drawer for school supplies. Go through all you pens/markers/pencils. Get rid of the ones that don’t work or you won’t use. Replace what you need to.
  10. Old Eyeglasses.  Do you wear glasses?  Do you have a bunch of old prescriptions lying around? Many eye glass places have donation bins where you can donate your old eyeglasses. Let someone else use them!

Okay, now ready, set, purge!!