Five Tips to a Positive Start for the Year
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Adorable little schoolgirl feeling very excited about going back to school

Ready to get back in to the school year routine? Whether you are dreading it or excited about it or somewhere in between, here are a few thoughts on how you can make it a memorable year.

  1. Be Prepared – Make a list and check it twice for not only school supplies, but haircuts, clothes, lunch bags, shoes and shots. A well planned start can eliminate last-minute stress. Create space in your home or apartment designated specifically for homework. It should be a comfortable place with few distractions. Provide tools such as pens, dictionary, paper, pencils, sharpener and power chord.
  2. Perk up Your Attitude – As a parent, you set the emotional tone for the home. Let your kids know that you are enthusiastic about the school year and look forward to all that God has in store for them. Talk about the positives and guard against grumbling.
  3. Practice the New Morning Routine – Choose one morning before the school year actually begins just to do a dry run through to see how the timing pans out. And since you are already dressed and looking great, why not take the kids to one of their favorite breakfast spots to celebrate the end of summer and the start of a new year.
  4. Focus on Others – Instead of allowing your kids to worry about what people think about them, turn their concern toward how they can lift up others. There are always kids who could use a kind word, a smile or a new friend. Teach your kids to be focused on the needs of others and not simply on their own needs. As a parent, the same goes for you. Look for new parents who need a friend and welcome them to the community. Our kids learn best by following our example of kindness.
  5. Communicate well. Be a good listener and ask your kids engaging questions. Put away distractions and electronics and encourage your kids to talk about their day. Use conversation starters (check out Table Talk), to build healthy discussion around the dinner table. Studies show that children in families who enjoy dinner together at least four times a week, are more likely to have better test scores and generally stay out of trouble.

Finally, one ingredient that can help you through any school year challenge is prayer. Pray together as a family, seeking God’s guidance and direction throughout the year. As a parent, it will keep you grounded and reduce your own worries and frustrations.  Establish a pattern in your own life of praying first, before you have a chance to whine or complain. Your kids will benefit from your example of trusting God rather than reacting when circumstances don’t go your way.  Make it a great year.


Start your own Positive Mom study group. Build a connection with other moms in your community by inviting them to join you for a group study using The Power of a Positive Mom. The title is warm and engaging (what mom doesn’t want to be a positive mom), and the book is filled with Biblical wisdom as well as practical parenting applications. Each section starts with a QR code leading to a video with author Karol Ladd presenting a positive principle. There is also a Leader’s Guide and chapter by chapter discussion questions at the back of the book. It’s the perfect tool to connect with the moms in your community! Order now by clicking here.

If you are interested in a quantity discount or in having Karol speak to your church or organization contact Tammy at:


Don’t Miss the Giggles
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Arlene Pellicane 600x600jpgHappy Mom cover

Guest Post by Arlene Pellicane

See end of post for info on our book Giveaway:  31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom

It was my first time meeting with the Sales Director and the VP of Marketing at the publishing house of my first book.  Think power breakfast in the big leagues.  And do you know what I introduced as the first topic of conversation?

“My husband James took our two-year-old daughter to the bathroom this morning and she went number two for the first time in the toilet!”

Yes, I really said that.

Our daily lives as moms are filled with the laughable, absurd, quotable, darling, hilarious, and at times downright crude.  Today I want to challenge you to find the funny in it all.  If you look around with a light heart and eyes wide open, you’ll find plenty of material for hours of stand-up comedy.

When my daughter was five, Noelle called tangerines “tambourines.”  As we went through the grocery store, she excitedly pointed and said, “Oh, let’s get some tambourines!”  That made a grandma standing nearby smile.  “My grandson calls shampoo ‘Shamu’!” she said.

My son Ethan called the chocolate malt balls “Whoopers” instead of “Whoppers.”  Lucy insisted on being called “Cinderwella.”  I’m sure you have a list of these funny sayings too if your children are young.  Write them down while you remember.  Keep a journal of funny moments with your kids.

It says in Proverbs 17:22 that “a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  Here you see the correlation between your inward life and your physical and mental health.  This verse is about your ability to persevere through the years.  The word medicine only occurs here in the Old Testament.  A crushed spirit refers to being depressed or sad.

The Bible gives us an antidote to depression, sadness, and deteriorating health:  a cheerful heart.  A happy heart.  Other translations say a merry heart.  The idea here is someone who is delightful, full of festivity and high spirits, and joyous.  Don’t worry if you feel too Eeyore-like to fit this description.  Chances are you have some kids around who can help you laugh more frequently.

Sometimes the lifeline out of fatigue and the doldrums comes through the funny comments of your children.  That is, if you make the point to notice and cherish those moments.  And giggle!


GIVEAWAY INFO:  We are giving away a copy of Arlene’s new book, 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom to the first email I receive after 5pm Central Time today, (July 29, 2015) with the subject line Book Giveaway. Email me at

Video link:

Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom and 31 Days to a Happy Husband.  She is also the co-author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World (with Gary Chapman).  She has been a featured guest on the Today Show, Fox & Friends, Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, The 700 Club, and Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah. 

Arlene lives in the San Diego area with her husband James and their three children.

To learn more and for free family resources such as a monthly Happy Home podcast, visit

Looking for Fun Things to Do with the Kids?
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Summer is in full swing, and I have a feeling you may be looking for a few quick ideas to do with the kids. Here’s a some home-spun, creative fun:

Squirt Bottle Showdown – Have super soak wars using squirt bottles from the dollar store. Begin by allowing each child to decorate their own bottle with stickers and permanent markers.  Fill the bottles with water and create fun competitions. Try pushing a beach ball simply by squirting it. If you have a group, stand in a circle and try squirt-pushing the ball toward each other. If the ball touches someone, they are out of the circle. Shaving cream or soap foam can be added. Simply cover each other with foam (below the neck) and then have fun squirting each other clean. No squirting in the face.

Wacky Wardrobe– For indoor amusement, create silly hats and crazy outfits using items you have around the house. Foil, paper towels, gift bows, cereal boxes, wrapping paper. Use tape or string to hold it all together. Gallon jugs make great super hero helmets – just cut away the handles and cover the helmet with foil.  Allow your creative juices to flow as you design a wacky wardrobe. Show off with a fashion show, and don’t forget to video it.

Space Rock Scavenger Hunt – For indoor or outdoor fun, create a unique hunt with or without clues depending on the ages of your kids. All you need is some aluminum foil. Take a square of foil and crumple it up into a ball – and voila – you have a space rock.  Now hide the rocks just as you would hide Easter eggs around your house or yard. You can also put little items inside the foil (candy, favorite little toys, money, trinkets). You may want to give your super space heroes a helmet as they go on their scavenger hunt using the idea from Wacky Wardrobe (above).

Kitchen Kreations – Together with the kids, choose an interesting and delightful recipe from Pinterst. Make your shopping list, go to the store and then make the creation together.  Be sure to take pictures. You may want to assign one child at a time to pick the creation that everyone will make together. Be sure to divide responsibilities of pouring and stirring.


Don’t forget to be deliberate about good hearty discussions around the dinner table or in the car during those long vacation trips. Here’s a few conversation starters.


  • If you could choose to be any person in American History, who would you be and why?
  • If you could fly like a bird, where is the first place you would visit?
  • Which super-power do you wish you possessed?
  • Where is the one place in the world you never want to go?
  • Describe the movie you would create if you were a Hollywood director.


For more ideas and conversations starters, check out my $5 Special this month. It includes two books,


Fun House and Table Talk. Click Here for more info.


The Mess of Summer
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kids in sprinklers

It can be the best of times. It can be the worst of times. Most of us know it as summer time. Yes, there is the joy of being with the kids, having a laid-back schedule and just enjoying some good summer games and activities. On the flip side, the heat, the togetherness and the clashes between siblings can tend to try a mom’s patience. There is also the mess that comes from having a houseful of kids (plus there friends and cousins).

As positive moms, we can’t go through life worrying about the mess!  Now, I know that we need to maintain responsibility and not allow people to go wild in our homes, but there is a healthy balance.  I have found it helpful to have things on hand to prevent any major messes (such as plastic table clothes and plenty of coasters for drinks).   I have learned that most things do clean up fairly easily, and of course people are more important than things.  Let your kids know what is expected of them, and also let them know their limits.

My friend Jennifer wrote a poem when her kids were little concerning mess.  Just a little insight into Jennifer, she had a business in which she organized people’s clutter.  You can imagine with her personality she is one who enjoys life when all her ducks are in a row.  Then she had kids, and realized that it’s not so easy to maintain the “perfect house.”  Consider her words:

Blessed Messes

By Jennifer McMahan


You’ll find them in the kitchen

And scattered down the hall,


Some are in the closets

And many a bedroom wall,


Some are made of crayon

And others red sticky jelly…


But the one I love the most

Is the carpet vermicelli.


Once there was a time when

I would not have been so calm,


But God has changed my heart

And blessed me as a Mom.


Jennifer’s poem is a reminder to us all that life is messy, people are messy and summer fun may be messy, but there are tremendous blessings because of the mess.  If we can maintain the outlook of openness to joy, laughter and fun, while ignoring the urge to keep everything perfect, we too can experience the wonder of hospitality and delighting in the people God has brought in our home.


For more fun ideas check out A Positive Plan for Creating More Fun, Less Whining on my website  You may also be interested in my $5 special this month. Two books, Fun House (How to Make your Home the Fun Place to Be) and Table Talk (Conversations Starters for the Family

Don’t Tell Your Kids They’re Great
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Flattery will get you nowhere, and that’s especially true when it comes to praising our kids. When we indiscriminately lavish our kids with insincere words of praise, we may actually put them at a disadvantage instead of bolstering their ability to achieve. Kids who internalize their parent’s over-inflated views of themselves not only tend to become narcissistic, but they also put out less effort when it comes to applying the gifts and abilities they do have.

In their book Nurture Shock, authors Bronson and Merryman site a study of fifth graders which revealed that kids who were praised for “being smart” did not perform as well as those who were encouraged for their effort. The study found that “emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control,” but when kids were praised for just being smart, they tended to discount the importance of their own effort.

Simply telling children a blanket statement like, “You’re great,” may bolster their ego for a moment, but it won’t necessarily help them in the long run. Yet, parents shouldn’t be too quick to swing the pendulum in the other direction either. Research also shows that when encouragement is given in the right way, it can be a powerfully motivating factor in our children’s lives. How do parents know how to encourage their kids without overindulging? Here are a few tried and true principles to follow:

• Be sincere and specific when praising your kids.
• Commend your kids for their effort and hard work.
• Guard against comparing your kids to others, and instead encourage personal bests.
• Notice and highlight positive actions which your kids choose to exhibit toward others such as kindness, patience, sharing and compassion.
• Encourage learning and growth through their challenges and mistakes.
• Teach your kids the importance of encouraging and cheering for others.

Instead of simply telling your kids that they are awesome, use precise words to highlight their hard work, wise choices and honest achievements. When we offer sincere and specific words of affirmation, we not only give the gift of encouragement to our child, but we tie it with a bow and attach a note that says, this is meant only for you. Let us be givers of good gifts through our words and our presence.

For more keys to being a positive parent check out:
The Power of a Positive Mom

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book goes to ENGAGE Parenting Initiative, encouraging moms in at-risk communities.

Positive Mom Book: