The Twinkie Effect—Attitudes

Can a Twinkie really help to Conquer Bad Attitudes? 


If you’re hitting brick walls with your kids —finding that you are having a difficult time connecting with them, and they just don’t seem to LIKE you — maybe you need to know about the Twinkie Approach!


Are you thinking that this gal has finally headed right off the deep end? I mean why would anyone in their right mind give Twinkies to a difficult kid? Solve your attitude problem with junk food? Give me a break, right?

Just stick with me for a minute, and maybe you will change your mind. The Twinkie Effect is the results of applying the soon-to-be-famous Twinkie Approach in your home. You heard it first here.

🙂I have added some affiliate links for your convenience.  If you choose to click on the highlighted links, then make a purchase, I may make a small commission, but you’re price is exactly the same as it would be by purchasing without the link.  This helps to fund this website, so I appreciate any help out there!  😃

Bringing the Twinkie Effect Close to Home

Sometimes in our home, we hit that brick wall. It’s really bad when it’s with every kid in the house, but it happens, and more often than I’d like to admit. I’m not talking about school only, but it shows up there too. It’s when the people of the home feel like they’re not appreciated, and resulting sad/sour/hurt/angry/(you fill in the blank) attitudes follow.

So we all know that something has to change, but it’s a real challenge to do it, even if we know that we should. It’s that “stuck in my rut” mentality of always responding in the same way.

Enter Twinkie.

Let’s back up a few years. When my husband and I were first married, we had two cats: Buster and Bubbles. They were our kids back then, and we had a lot of fun with those two!

Buster (orange and white) was the rascal, and Bubbles (pure white) was the old lady. They got along quite well, except when old Buster kicked into his play mode! But, they were a good pair, nonetheless, and our little animal world felt complete.


Ridge Haven Homestead. Twinkie Effect

BUSTER THE WELL-LOVED CAT and Andrew when he was little

Sweet Little Stray

Then a church member brought us Twinkie, a little stray they had felt sorry for and rescued, who needed a home.

Could we possibly give this little black kitty a home? Why not, we thought. So we took her in, and within a week we discovered the little secret that the church member hadn’t noticed. Little kitty Twinkie was a teenage pregnancy, and we were the happy grandparents-to-be! What joy! “What a bargain,” we groaned.

Twinkie Effect

Twinkie the Mommy

So poor little Twinkie kind of had a bumpy start in our home. It wasn’t her fault, but she was a very young cat, and not exactly equipped to be a mama. So, when her little tribe arrived, she spent more time playing with them like a sibling than mothering them. She always retained a bit of the wild cat mannerisms.

Twinkie–What a Boring Cat!

Once her kittens were homed out, Twinkie stayed with us, but always rather like a dark shadow on the sidelines, and not as much like a family member. Maybe it was because of her wildness, or maybe she just had a boring personality — we didn’t know. She just didn’t click with us like the other cats. We fed her and cared for her, but never really bonded with her much, and we never gave it much thought.

The Twinkie Experiment

Then one day when my husband and I were talking, he said to me, “I think I will do an experiment on Twinkie. Every time I pass her by, I will pet her and say something nice to her, and I just want to see what will happen.”

I didn’t give that much thought. Twinkie was just there, and I figured that was how she’d always be — that quiet presence.


It was probably several months later, maybe more, that we realized that the experiment was having an effect after all. 

Read more…


Self-Care for the Homeschool Mom

self-care for homeschool moms

Self-Care for Homeschool Moms. Are You Taking Care of Everyone but YOU?

As we begin a new homeschool chapter, I have been chewing on what my first educational blog post of the year should focus on. I have many ideas for the future, but the one thing that keeps coming back to me is this — how is mom holding up?

Self-Care for Homeschool Moms, No Matter Your Season

Some of us are “seasoned” homeschoolers, whatever that means. Some of us are just starting out. I think I am in the “half-baked” stage — not done yet, and so I still need some more seasoning. So much to learn, and at times I feel like I need to unlearn some things so that I can have more flavor in our school. Life would be pretty boring if every family school consisted of the same ingredients. It’s something to chew on.

But, as we begin a new year, I am reminded of mom. Most likely, you are the principal teacher in your homeschool. I realize there are exceptions, and I’m not trying to exclude anyone; if this applies to you as dad, grandma, or whomever, then take it to heart. I know it applies to moms.

Self-Care Amidst Your Busy Schedule

As teaching moms, we get excited about new projects, new curriculum, methods of teaching, craft supplies, fun field trips, and the list goes on and on, doesn’t it? We drive our troops to music lessons, practices, clubs, counseling sessions, play dates, Bible studies, birthday parties, service opportunities, jobs, and Grandma’s, not to mention the hours at the table, in the garden, reading on the sofa, or in the woods taking nature walks. And then, there’s often a husband who has needs and expectations too!

But, what about you, homeschooling mom? How do you meet your needs? How do you avoid burning the midnight oil to get everything done? How do you avoid burning out because you’re so busy doing good for everyone else that you forget about your own needs?

self-care for homeschool moms

Close to Home: Self-Care for Homeschool Moms like Me!

As I sit here on a Friday afternoon, reminding myself to guzzle more water to battle a nagging UTI, I just want to encourage you — not because I have it all together as a home educator, but because I see a genuine need in all mothers who tend to take on too much. My words to you are these: It is not selfish to take care of your own physical needs. 

Your family needs you, and you are very much aware of that. But, they need you healthy. They need you cheerful, and that’s very difficult to pull off when you’ve stayed up until midnight again. How do I know this? Well, because I’m living it! 

We are instructed to teach our children cause-effect relationships. But, we have to be real with ourselves and realize that bedtime is not just for babies; our bodies need water; and a little exercise and fresh air will do wonders for our attitudes as moms, just as much as for our children.

Home educating is no joke!

It’s not a tea party, and despite what some will think, we do much more than just sit around and do crafts with our children! We have real stresses. We worry about our children’s attitudes and characters — a LOT! We wonder about their futures, and wonder if we are doing it all right, because we don’t have a second chance. Often as we take on all of those unknowns, we find ourselves running around to grab at any perceived learning opportunity, maybe even to the detriment of our peace of mind.

At times, we even burn out, or come close to it! For more on this topic, see Homeschool Seasons, and Courage for the Worn Out Homeschool Mom

So, what is the answer?

I can only share with you what I am learning myself on this enjoyable, yet, exhausting road. These tips are not in any particular order, except for the first one.

bible study
  • We as home educators absolutely need our time with God! I find that I can get so edgy and driven with my children if I don’t have the softening influence of the Holy Spirit for myself! And, praying for my family particularly helps me to look at them differently. •Sometimes I wake up late, in a rush, and find that mid-morning, or sooner, I have to go close myself in my closet with the Lord to regain my perspective, and to just cry out to Him for help. Satan will capitalize on any chink in our armor, so putting on the full armor is so important! This is truly the best gift we can give to our children and husbands — a heart that has met with Jesus and surrendered, so that when we deal with them, we will treat them with grace. 
self-care for homeschool moms, resting
  • Sleep. I can’t say how much youneed, but I know when I need more of it! That’s when I get irritable about little things, feel like weeping over trifles, and start to feel fuzzy in my head the next day. I have gone through times when literally every time I sit down to read with my kiddos, I knock out. A little more sleep is needed! 
  • For me, practically, this means 

Post continues. Please click this link.

Go Berry Picking (with kids) Without Losing Your Mind! – Ridge Haven Homestead

Tips for Going Berry Picking with Kids

So…you want to take your kids out to the berry patch? Great plan! Berry picking with kids can be a wonderful time, or a huge frustration to all involved. The last thing you want on an outing for fun is for everything to flop!

But…as parents know, plans don’t always work out just like you thought, and while you may be reminiscing about leisurely days gone by in another berry patch, things could play out, shall we say…differently.

In God’s Garden

I can’t think of many more enjoyable experiences than to taste sweet berries straight off the bush or vine. You get to have all five senses involved. Taste the pop the sweetness as you bite into a juicy blueberry. Feelthe air ruffle through your hair, and the texture of the soft berries between your fingers. Take in the beauty of the bright blue sky, and varied hues of ripening fruit as you hear the birds warbling and cawing all around you. Breathe in the fruity aromas of fully ripened berries, and enjoy the peace of just being out in God’s Creation. Because the berry path is pretty close to the Garden of Eden, isn’t it?

berry picking with kids

The Key is Being Prepared, Mama!

If you plan well, and pack your sense of humor, your berry picking with kids can be a tremendous memory-making event, and a good time for all! Not to mention the BERRIES–blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, gooseberries! There are so many berries to enjoy!

Want to go berry picking with kids? Here are some tips that will make your experience successful and fun! What to take, and how to make berry picking fun!

Keep reading this post.
— Read on

Friday Friendship—4 Boys and Noise

Friday Friendship Feature #4

Boys and their Noises

Last week on the Friday Friendship Feature, #3, I shared a post encouraging us to set a consistent Morning Schedule/Ritual time so that we can bless our families. This week’s Friday Friendship Feature focuses in on another aspect of our home life: BOYS and MOMS. 

We have three sons! They are different from me. And they often drive me batty. 

I could end there, and you’d have a complete picture of my life some days.  Seriously. But there is more to say. In our Friday Friendship Feature this time, I have chosen to share an excerpt from a post that really did hit home with me this week. 

Friday friendship feature

Friday Friendship Feature:

Boys–What Can I Say?

Even though I have been married to a male for almost twenty years, and have had the privilege of being a mom to all males for over sixteen years, I am still trying to figure them out. You’d think that I’d almost be an expert on the male gender, since I also grew up with three brothers. These things may help a tiny little bit, but, honestly, not much.

BOYS are a special kind of male. They have not matured yet into manhood, even those in their teens. They are moving in that direction, but still have a lot of boyishness left.

Friday friendship feature

I will tell you a secret

When I was younger, like about twelve years ago, it became obvious that we were an all-boy family. Three little boys, and what energy they exhibited! My mom gave me a book, which I read then, and enjoyed. But…in my naive heart, I said, “My boys will never do that.” THAT, being make loud, obnoxious noises just for the reaction. THAT being also going crazy over the mere mention of bodily odors, noises, or functions. I assured my young mind that those antics belonged to other parent’s kids, but mine would surely act more refined.

Anyone who knows our family can just stop laughing now! 

Our boys are all that and more! We are definitely in the stage of noises, and I am in the stage of finding more difficulty concentrating than I used to have. This makes for some tension and trials. 

Friday Friendship Feature. Boys laughing.

Our Boys…

  • They make noise just for the sake of noise itself.
  • The more the better.
  • The grosser the better.
  • Times three.

The book that my mom gave me was this one. 

The rest of the post continues below as well as the link to its original source. Please follow the link.

Speaking the Language of Encouragement, Part 2

Learning to Speak the Language of Encouragement to our Children

Last time I visited this topic, I shared an overview of what the Language of Encouragement is, and how it applies in our homeschools and families. If you missed my first post on this, please see The Language of Encouragement, Part 1

I will remind you that this series of posts will reference the very helpful (free) talk given by Maria Nebblett, with the same title. You can find that talk at the Nebblett family’s website. Scroll down until you see the talk entitled The Language of Encouragement. You will find other encouraging talks there as well. If you prefer to watch the talk, you may watch it for free online.

Language of Encouragement

A promise that is giving me hope is this one:

Gather up the rays of divine light that are shining upon your pathway. Walk in the light as Christ is in the light. As you take hold of the work of helping your children to serve God, the most provoking trials will come; but do not lose your hold; cling to Jesus. He says, “Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.” Isaiah 27:5. Difficulties will arise; you will meet with obstacles; but look constantly to Jesus. When an emergency arises, ask, Lord, what shall I do now? If you refuse to fret or scold, the Lord will show you the way. He will help you to use the talent of speech in so Christlike a way that peace and love will reign in the home. By following a consistent course of action, you may be evangelists in the home, ministers of grace to your children. – {Child Guidance 478.3}

The Home a Battle Ground

In our home, I can certainly see the war. The more we ask for the Holy Spirit, the more we see the opposite spirit. I think this is so that we will just give up.

Never Give Up.  Never Stop Trying.

Language of Encouragement 2

Thankfully, we can fight back! We don’t have to give up! Nor do we have to give in! Giving in means not choosing to fight against irritated thoughts and words.Giving in is natural and easy because it doesn’t require any thought or planning. We automatically spew out whatever comes to mind.

In her talk, Maria shares Five Habits for parents who want to learn the language of encouragement can begin to put into practice. I will be sharing the first two principles from the talk today. These are taken directly from the talk.

Habit 1: REFRAIN

In her talk, Maria speaks about our need as parents to refrain.

Refrain from what?

Article continues here…

Language of Encouragement, Part 1 – Lessons…and lessons

Want to learn to speak the Language of Encouragement?

Encouraging Words is one of the Five Love Languages.

I spoke about the first two of the Five Love Languages in my posts aboutTime Together, and Hugs and Tickles(Loving Touch). In my next few posts on this topic, I will talk about Encouraging Words, or what can be called The Language of Encouragement.

I did not come up with this term. But I know a good thing when I hear it, and I want to share a helpful resource for you! All parents, homeschoolers, teachers, grandparents,friends, employers, employees, and pretty much anyone can benefit from learning this language. 

Listen to The Language of Encouragement talk (it’s free)

I want to refer you to a talk that I had recommended to me several years ago. This talk has impacted me, inspired me, and little by bit, is changing me. But I will be honest. The Language of Encouragement does not come naturally to me at all. For this reason, I have listened to this talk many times over the last several years, because I lose my way over and over, and fall back into my old rut of non-encouraging words! 

The talk, entitled The Language of Encouragement, authored by Maria Nebblett, can be downloaded here on their family’s ministry website. You may also find more encouraging talks at that site. I strongly encourage you to listen to it! Just scroll down to the category Family, and it’s the last talk. You will certainly be blessed!

If you prefer video, the talk can be seen here on Vimeo. Sometimes I like to watch a person talk, but more often, I like to download the talk to listen to it while I walk in the morning.

Please listen to the Introduction

For this post, please listen to the Introduction of The Language of Encouragement, or about the first 15 minutes of the audio file. This will give you a good overview of the talk, and plenty of food for thought. 

Free Printable, The Language of Encouragement

Go ahead and print the free printable (below) if you like! This will give you a visual aid as you listen. The Printable is also a nice poster to hang up in a prominent place as a reminder of the principles you want to put into practice! You may color it if you like, and laminate it to help it to last longer, or just leave it plain.

Printable is available on my self-hosted site (for free).

The Language of Encouragement, a talk by Maria Nebblett, has encouraged me. Here is a free printable coloring page/prayer guide to accompany this talk.
— Read on

Lady’s Slipper Lane (with Free Printable) – Lessons…and lessons

Hunting for Pink Lady’s Slippers in East Tennessee

It’s time for the Pink Lady’s Slipper orchids to bloom, and they are out in abundance on our property!

We took a Nature Walk yesterday, and I bribed my boys with one cookie per flower they found. I never dreamed how many cookies I’d have to bake!

To access the printable, click on the link below, and you’ll be taken to the page where the link is.

Read about our fun walk by clicking the below.

Hunting for Pink Lady’s Slipper orchids on our property in East Tennessee. A homeschool Nature hike, or walk in the woods
— Read on

Mean Mom takes a Nature Walk – Lessons…and lessons

Get out in Nature whether you feel like or not!

family nature walk

Hi! I’m the Mean Mom!  Occasionally, anyway, I answer to that title. Today was one of those days.

Outside it was perfect!! Mid-seventy degrees, sunny, and clear! It was a perfect day for a quick stroll in nature.

After lunch we almost always walk down our driveway and hike back up. That’s right. We have our own Cardio Hill, or my exercise route right on the driveway. By the time you get to the top, you’re huffing and puffing. In fact, when we thought about purchasing our property, my husband promised me that this land would whip me into shape! He was not kidding! But, after living here for the past almost six months, I can walk up that hill way easier than I used to be able to. I’m definitely getting stronger, but need more exercise in general.

Hence, our little walk today. We strolled down, then instead of hiking back up the driveway, I challenged the boys to hike back up by way of the wet-weather creek. That’s a bit harder, but not bad for strapping young fellows; it just takes a little longer. And the boys were chomping at the bit to get back!

Enter Mean Mom

I declared the instructions, amid some groans for my reply.

Haha!  What a fun day, but my boys were not easily convinced!  We found some awesome treasures from Nature, however.

Read on to see what our Homeschool Nature Walk looked like this week!  The “rest of the story” is over on my self-hosted blog site.   See you there!

via Mean Mom takes a Nature Walk – Lessons…and lessons

Time, space, time together – Lessons…and lessons

Five Love Languages of Children–time

time together in family

Sergeant Mom

Today, I acted as sergeant. We had stuff to do, and I wanted it done ASAP. If not sooner. School, jobs, clean-up project, Sabbath prep. Food to cook, baths to take, the whole nine yards plus some.

I set a timer for the first round, then laid out the day. Such and such will be done by one hour, then this next project, and so on.

time five love languages children


That worked well for 2/3 of my sons. The other son worked, but at a slower pace, and he did not meet the deadline. Grr…

The next phase also stretched out, and I began to get cranked up. More orders, more frustration all around. Less efficiency, and not so much getting done! Have you been there?

Can you win and lose in the same day?

Yes, you can.

You can win battles, but lose hearts.

And that’s what I was doing. Trying to win at all costs. Oh, I didn’t know it. I just knew that my boys needed to shape it up and get moving so we could get things done!

sad boy five love languages children

Giving orders

As you have probably experienced in your homeschool and family, giving orders doesn’t do much to bring everyone into harmony.  Well, it didn’t bring harmony here either. It just led to frustration for all, plus the added bonus of people giving up! When a couple of kids give up, less gets done, and leads to the Grumpy Mom.

Grumpy Mom, Grumpy Kids

Happy wife, happy life is true. So is Happy Mom, Happy Family, even though that doesn’t rhyme!  Mother is the queen of the home, and if she has sunshine, the rest of the home usually will reflect it!  Of course, everyone has a grumpy day here and there, but as long as everyone is not contributing, that person can usually climb back up onto the happy path soon. So, Mothers (and Fathers), you have a huge influence in your home!

smiley face

Brick walls

When you begin to hit those brick walls, you need to do some self-evaluation. Prayer is key. Humility also is necessary. But first, you have to stop and actually ask yourself (and God), “What’s going on here?”

If you’ve been here before, or if you want to hear how our day turned out after our rough start… READ ON at my self-hosted site,

Time, space, time together – Lessons…and lessons