Children Bedtime Rituals

Children bedtime rituals

Children Bedtime Rituals

Children bedtime rituals

You’ve heard it time and again, but it’s true…!  The children don’t stay little long and before you know it, they’ve flown the coup.  Embrace the time you have with your little ones.  That’s easy to say and much harder to do as you deal with 2 and 3 year old antics. Yet, continue to tell yourself, it IS worth it. Consider some bedtime rituals. My older children have told me they especially loved the nights after the lights were out, when I would go in, lie on their bed and just talk with them.  Actually, I mostly listened and let them pour out their little hearts to me.  There is something about that time of night, lights out, alone with mom that really gets them talking. I found that the children wanted this ritual even as they got older. They really enjoyed when I would take turns asking each of them (if more than one child was in the room) the same question such as “What was the funniest thing that happened to you today?”  “What would you love to have for dinner if you could have anything?” “Do you know my mom and dad’s name?” “Tell me the name of two continents.” “Would you rather me scratch your back, play with your hair, or rub your feet?” But mostly they just wanted to talk about their day.

First Attempt at Poetry


PoemHmmm, so I’ve had a few requests for more of my writing attempts…And I mean ATTEMPTS!! So, I guess I will throw another piece out there. This poem was written in the winter when I was longing for heat.


Laying still and warm

Beneath scorching suns harm.

My mind is sagging,

Senses drift languidly.

Pictures swim fluidly

On my mind’s stage,

Images dash away

With stark screeches of play.

Roughness beneath me warm

And hard felt, then forgotten.

Consciousness drifts among

Clouds in azure sky.

Pool water lapping near,

Shimmering diamonds

The sparkling scatters with

Plunging bodies.

Swirling around me

Chirping voices, life, buzzing

Heat radiates up

Lulling me further.

Images and sound knock about

Shooting crazy half dreams

Through me,

Swimming and colliding.

Children squeal

I hear them, but don’t.

My body is heavy, sinking

Concrete digs into me unaware

Captive in sleep

Heat caressing, trapped in,

Water spits cold shock

I leap to awareness.

--Julie Valentine

Be a Label Reader

Be a Label Reader

Be a Label ReaderBe a Label Reader

Recently a friend spoke at a workshop about healthy eating. Wow, what inspiration! This gal reads labels and is very selective about the foods she will buy. I was an unsuspecting buyer, purchasing food products where labels professed being a healthy choice. After hearing my friends lecture I am paying more attention and notice many of the prominent food in the stores are filled with stuff that is anything but natural. I have become leery of ingredients I’ve never heard of, or can’t pronounce. In essence, we should be eating a good deal of our food in its ‘whole’ form for optimum health.

You’ve heard the following list before but it is worth repeating for optimal health. A few of the ‘bad stuff’ ingredients added to packaged food to avoid are:

Trans fat

Patially Hydrogentated oil

Refined grain

High fructose corn syrup


There are a myriad of packaged foods to make life more convenient. The packaging is incredibly appealing. Beware though; you may pay for this convience later in life. Many of the devastating diseases are linked to the ‘bad stuff’ list. Companies pay millions to make their packaged products as appealing as possible. Here is interesting reading on the topic.

One thing I avoid ALWAYS is artificial sweeteners. Here are some reasons why:

There is every opinion imaginable when it comes to what foods to eat, plus what you hear is CONSTANTLY changing! If you eat it and you feel great after eating it, that is a pretty good clue it’s worth eating. That is not the perfect indicator, but it usually works for me.



Great Grains!

Great Grains

Great GrainsGreat Grains!

Grains that I have tried and really liked:

  • Spelt               Pricey, but delicious in bread, use in cookies but you need a little more flour than if you use wheat flour. (grind)
  • Quinoa          Considered a perfect food–I put a small amount of quinoa in with rice every time I cook rice.
  • Kamut          Use in coffee cake, muffins or bread. (grind)
  • Oats               The less processed the oats are, the better they are for you (for instance, rolled oats are better than quick).
  • Buckwheat Use in small amounts because of the strong taste. (grind)
  • Wheat          Substitute out some white for wheat flour in most everything you cook.  Use White Wheat, it is more alkaline (which is what you want), Red Wheat is more acidic. (grind)
  • Corn              Try ground corn in corn bread with spelt flour. (grind)
  • Brown Rice Cook a little longer than white rice.
  • Barley           Use whole barley for sprouting.

Add grains in SLOWLY if you are not used to them.  If you don’t, you may end up with a stomach ache.

great grains



EmbarrassedI was incredibly embarrassed the other day. I’m certain my face turned 5 shades of red…As I was signing up the children for Barnes and Nobles’ book club, I could not think of the years of my children’s births!!!!! I was standing there forever trying to figure out the year! The clerk was FLOORED! Brain freezes happen, but did it have to happen with THAT? Finally, very very flustered, I said, “Well, I have 11 kids and there are more important things to remember…” then I booked it out of there….red face and all. Sigh…Please tell me moments like that aren’t mine alone!

My disclaimer is the fact that I am a mother of 11 children. Yes, I birthed them all myself. Hope that will cut me a little slack…

NONCASH Charitable Donations –tax info–

Tax Tips

Tax TipsNONCASH Charitable Donations –tax info–

We live in a “throw away” society. I personally feel satisfaction when I can donate something of value that can be used by someone else. I usually take between a $1000 to $2500 deduction per year for non-cash donations.


When I was in high school, my friend’s grandpa was the manager of the Ogden Deseret Industries. My friends and I were able to get part-time jobs driving trucks and picking up appliances. That job gave me a first-hand witness of the blessing of this organization in providing work to handicapped people.


Remember, the donations need to be to qualified charities and no deduction is allowed for a charitable contribution of clothing or household items unless the clothing or household item is in good used condition or better. The IRS is authorized by regulation to deny a deduction for any contribution of clothing or a household item that has minimal monetary value, such as used socks and undergarments.

 Planning Tip: Most cell phones today can take pictures. Take a picture of all items donated.

Keep the electronic pictures for proof the items were in good or better condition at

the time they were donated.


Recordkeeping Rules for Charitable Contributions

To help substantiate a deduction for the fair market value of used items donated to charity,

make a list of each item donated on a separate sheet of paper along with the following



• Name and address of charity.

• Date items were donated to the charity.

• Description of each item donated.

• Fair market value of each item at the time they were donated (email me and I can send you a guide).

• Date each donated item was originally purchased or acquired.

• Cost or other basis of each item donated.



PS Email me if you would like to get a Guide of the Fair Market Value of Donated Items

Body Language

Body Language

Body LanguageBody language says it all…almost.

Experts say that if you took 100 % of the communication we receive:

7 % of communication is ‘received’ by words

38 % of communication is ‘received’ by sounds

55 % communication is ‘received’ by body language

That is huge!! How are people reading you? It makes me want to stop and consider what body language I am using as I interact with my children,  and for that matter my husband. Could I be giving signals I didn’t intend? To be an engaged parent it takes A LOT of listening.

Do you ever catch yourself doing the blank stare after a 15 minute monologue from one of the children about something they love, which you may not (like Pokémon or superheroes)? I think I will try to do a little more POSITIVE body language these days. Notice those around you. We are all quite masterful at our body language communication.Body Language





Ahhh, Valentine’s Day..That’s my day, right? Having a last name of “Valentine” certainly has pressures and expectations every year on Feb 14th. I always have intentions of making the “big day” the BEST of the year. Certainly a ‘Valentine’ child should bring valentine cards filled with all the bells and whistles to put in all of the little classmates elaborately decorated boxes…Um, how about 10 year old cards found in a drawer with a lame piece of candy taped to the card. Thankfully, my children know the drill year after year and are happy as can be about it. The problem is this– the day sneaks up on me and before I know it, I’m too late! (It doesn’t help that tax season is starting to heat up about then). Put it this way, your Valentine’s Day is probably a lot more spectacular than mine. The kids didn’t even have milk for their cereal. I tried to hide my “fault” by approaching my husband saying, “let’s not give anything to each other this Valentine’s.” He confessed to me later that our youngest son, Luke, had confided in him that I was feeling guilty because I didn’t get anything for him.

Short Story – Part 3


The whole wonderful crazy gang..

Remember, I am soooo amateur!

Short Story – Part 3­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

Choice (continued)

by Julie Valentine

He decided that now was as good of a time as any to get to work on the girls. He had a twinge of hesitation as he thought of his ex-wife. Whatever the ordeal was in his ex-wife’s mind he just couldn’t figure out. Jen didn’t realize what she’d given up when she’d kicked him out.

A few feet from the girls, Rand’s sweating increased. He silently cursed the humidity and heat even though he knew the sweat was partially due to the nerves that suddenly came to life within him. Rand chastised himself for having doubts about his appeal. He was in control here; he hadn’t gone downhill that much since his days of glory. As he studied the girls, he noticed them exchanging a look with each other. Ok, what was that supposed to mean? Were they both interested or what? He swiped a hand across his forehead and watched as one of the girl’s eyes followed his hand. That’s the one I’d like to get to know, he thought. He’d had a hard time most of his life resisting getting involved with blond curvy gals.

Shadows fell across the group as they neared a heavy cluster of tall trees overhead. Tour members were stopping for a break. As he stepped up to the girls trying to formulate a good opening remark, Rand noticed a thought come over Brooke. She proclaimed to the group that she had lost her driver’s license out of her pocket.  Her face crumpled as she grabbed her hair saying, “This can’t be happening!”

The lost license was a perfect way for Rand to gain favor with Brooke. His eyes grazed her form as he said he’d be happy to walk back and see if he could find it. Turning, he shifted his bulk back down the trail. He hadn’t gone 50 yards when Clifford, whose shoes were sucking from the formation of mud clumps, plodded past him on the way down the trail growling, “Save your energy, I’ve got this covered.”

Rand swore under his breath and shoved past him again, nearly knocking the guy’s slight frame over. “Get lost,” Rand spit at Clifford. The two began racing down the slope out of sight of the group. Near a fork in the trail, there was a drop off where crags glistened with trickling water. Dark shadows loomed around the trail causing a brief chill. In order to pass, travelers needed to hang onto a guardrail. Heart pumping, chest heaving, and unable to speak, Rand glared at the man next to him. Rand spotted the license seconds before Clifford. The two scuffled to reach the license on the other side of the rail. The slick rocks had collected moisture on the narrow trail. Rand panted as he threw his muscled leg over the rail in an attempt to pluck up the paper. Clifford was right beside him. At the moment Rand’s leg swung around, his supporting foot slid, kicking Clifford with his other foot, sending him screaming down the ravine. There was a sickening thud as he hit something on the way down.  Shocked, Rand froze. A prickle of fear jetted up his spine. He took a quick glance down. Seeing nothing, he wavered between running to get help and pretending to know nothing. The guy down there was a jerk, no one would miss him. Images of the tour groups accusing faces assaulted him. Would they believe this was an accident? Groping around, he found his handkerchief and mopped his face.

Short Story – Part 2

 Another picture of one of my gals and her hubby…

Short Story – Part 2­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

Choice (continued)

by Julie Valentine

Brooke leaned into Sierra and spoke softly, “That fur on his legs makes me want to gag. Plus, the guy is still living in the eighties, look at that head of big hair.”

“Careful Brooke, he’s going to think you’re checking him out.” Sierra said.

Brooke still stared at his legs, “He should shave those legs, stuff could get lost in there.”

“If you don’t stop gawking, he is totally going to get the wrong idea,” warned Sierra.

Brooke gave a small yelp, “Ack, he’s coming our way, quick what do I do?”

Rand had detected Brooke staring at him as they trudged through the thick foliage. He couldn’t blame her. He had kept himself looking good all these years. The added weight to his middle was easy to overlook when you took in the whole package, he thought.  He knew women had a hard time not noticing him and that annoyed the men. That must be why Clifford was being such a pesky gnat around the girls.

Brooke was horrified as she watched the arrogant Rand pluck a crimson flower and lumber towards her. He was trying to hold her eye contact and she was starting to panic. “Sierra, help!” she urgently whispered. “Hey, you shouldn’t have been studying those furry legs so long, he thinks you’re interested.” Sierra whispered back.  Brooke’s eyes widened as she watched Rand elbow Clifford out of his way.

Clifford frowned when Rand shoved past him to get to Brooke. The guy has too much confidence in himself, Clifford thought. He was even considering how he might take Rand’s ego down a couple of notches. He started to mull over ways to humiliate the arrogant chump in front of the women.

Rand didn’t care much about the other guys in the group; his focus was on the females, particularly Brooke. Although, he was momentarily annoyed by the sour smell of body odor emanating off of Clifford as he passed him. He would have to work himself into a photo with the two gals and brag to his buddies back home.

As he approached Brooke with the flower she took an almost imperceptible step backwards. It wasn’t lost on Rand and his grin faltered. Rand’s eyes flicked between the two girls assessing their reaction to his attention. He would not lose his nerve. He knew he had what it took to attract the ladies. High School had proven that time and again. The females couldn’t stay away from him back then. The memories brought a faint smile to his thick lips. He never lacked girls asking him out or showering him with attention. These two gals would be no different. He decided that now was as good of a time as any to get to work on the girls. He had a twinge of hesitation as he thought of his ex-wife. Whatever the ordeal was in his ex-wife’s mind he just couldn’t figure out. Jen didn’t realize what she’d given up when she’d kicked him out.

(I have hesitated putting this story on my website…I’ve decided at the age of 55, I need to finish college. So, rather than attending classes all day away from my family, I have decided to earn my degree online. This may very likely take me 8 years. Deciding what to have my emphasis in, was tricky.  I stink at writing….but I want to get good. That is the emphasis I chose. Very scary. It is a struggle to eek out the writing assignments my professors request but very rewarding at the same time. I have decided to share my first attempt at writing, here. Be kind in your critiquing! It is very amateur, but after receiving a high score on this particular piece and the professor asking if I was going to publish it, I decided to take the plunge and expose my attempt at writing. Ya have to start somewhere right?  I will post the short story in segments.)
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