• Tag Archives encouragement for mom
  • What Women Want

    Here we go. Yes, I am going to attempt to solve the mystery that has plagued mankind since Adam first awoke with Eve by his side. Though men may think women unfathomable, in reality, what they want is actually very simple. Unfortunately, birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day, and many days in between pass without women feeling important and loved, and men are left clueless as to where they went wrong. To make it easy for my own husband and all men in general, I have created the definitive list of what women want. This way, a man should never wonder what to get the women in his life to show his love. If you are a man searching for the perfect gift for your significant other, you are in the right place. If you are a woman, feel free to adapt my list to create your own or just forward the list or link to your own guy.  Hopefully, solving the great mystery will lead to greater understanding that extends in all directions. Shoot, let’s aim for world peace, too! 😉

    Before my husband, Brian, and I had children, he gave me a wonderful birthday gift. I was teaching elementary school and had spent all day in parent/teacher conferences. When I’d finished my last official conference, he showed up at school and announced that he was whisking me away to a fancy hotel. He’d already packed my things and spoken to my principal, asking if I could leave a little early. I typically don’t like surprises, but this one was amazing. My tough, dragon lady of a principal was reduced to mush at my husband’s thoughtfulness, and we left the school with the envious gazes of all of my coworkers trailing behind.

    Another time, before we were married, Brian wanted to plan a date, but we didn’t have much money. He stopped at a restaurant, bought two pieces of my favorite pie, and took me up to a park overlooking the city. It was very romantic, and we ate pie and talked about everything and nothing.

    Of course, things often change and become more difficult after you have kids, but Brian has still managed to give me meaningful gifts. One year, he took all of the kids shopping and let them each pick out a piece of jewelry for me. I loved knowing that they each chose something for me, and they were so proud. Even today, whenever I wear that jewelry, they smile and remember how they chose it.

    Another year, Brian got me a new set of sheets for our bed because he knows I love clean sheets. Last Christmas, Brian surprised me with a Mother’s ring that held a birthstone for each of my children. At some point, I had mentioned that I would someday like a Mother’s ring, but it wasn’t on my “list.” Until I opened the box and found the ring inside, I didn’t even realize that he’d paid attention when I’d said it.

    So, what do all of these gifts have in common? Why do they stick in my memory as meaningful? What reduced my principal and coworkers to mush? What about them made me feel so loved and special? In reality, it isn’t the actual gifts at all. The secret is that, to a woman, the gift she loves most isn’t the physical gift, it is the thought and plan that goes into making the gift real.

    It doesn’t matter what the gift is. If you want to do something special for a woman, have a plan. Don’t wait to the last minute. Her birthday is too late. Christmas Eve is too late. If you’re asking her what she wants to do on Mother’s Day or another day that is supposed to be special, you’ve already failed. You can definitely ask her opinion, but do it long before the event and phrase it like “I’m doing this. Would you rather this or that?” Women are self-sacrificing. If you wait until the day of, have no plan, and then ask me what I’d like, the answer is that I’d like nothing. At that point, a woman feels like a burden who wasn’t important enough to plan for, and we don’t want anyone to do something for us that is work and that he doesn’t truly want to do. We don’t want to be an inconvenience. We want others to want to do something for us. Even enjoy planning or giving us something, hoping to make us happy.

    We don’t really care what the “it” is. Even if doing something means just staying home and playing games with family. The gift is being important enough to be planned for. The fact that someone cares enough to make a plan and try to do something I would like is of far more value than the actual something. It’s the thought and effort that speaks love. That’s what a woman hears every time. If there is no thought or effort, that speaks just as loudly.

    My husband is amazing. He is thoughtful, and I am so very blessed to be loved by him. He has made me feel so very special and loved with some of the examples I gave. And I have countless others I could share as well. But no one gets a home run every time. He gets busy and distracted, and sometimes he gets so focused on wanting something to be special that he forgets that special doesn’t need to be big. He always asks me for a list for holidays, and it frustrates him if my list is sparse, late, or I can’t really think of anything big. So, I decided to come up with the ultimate, comprehensive list of “What Women Want.” That way, hopefully he can understand the truth of what is special to me. What says, “I love you,” is the plan and thought behind any gift or activity. It is knowing that I am important enough that he has paid attention and taken the time out of his insanely busy schedule to think of me and plan something in an effort to make me happy.

    And I’m sharing that list with you. I think that most women feel the same way I do, but sometimes we struggle to put all of the feelings of frustration, love, and longing into words. So here you go. Let me know what you think and what you like. If you have any other suggestions to go on the definitive list, please share! It, like all of us, is definitely a work in progress. Here’s hoping you get exactly what you want for Christmas!

    For the record, here are the things that a woman enjoys and will always work for gifts:

    1.Things the kids (or grandkids) pick out—like jewelry or candy.

    2. (Chocolate. If she likes chocolate, this is always a good idea. Another tip: pay attention to what she likes and make sure you keep her favorite chocolate, or candy, on hand. If she’s mad, toss chocolate in the room before attempting to speak to her.) 

    3. Small things like nice pens, office supplies (sticky notes), nice-smelling hand soaps or a specialty candle. Flowers are always good. What’s her favorite? A live plant, roses, daisies?

    4. Pajamas. Please note, this does NOT mean lingerie. Lingerie is a gift for a guy’s benefit. Instead, get her comfy pjs, a new pair of her favorite slippers, or a plush robe. Need help choosing? Phone a friend. Ask one of her friends, sisters, daughters, or mom.

    5. A gift card or cash that is given with the specific instruction to use this much on choosing clothes for herself. (Bonus points if you combine this with #11 below.)

    6. Fixing something that is broken. Lightbulbs, drawers, anything little and big. Or making arrangements to have something fixed. Write it in a card and tell her what you did and why.

    7. Finishing a project around the house that has been in process for a while. Women love it when men are handy and fix or finish projects!

    8. Planning and making dinner or desert. Make something she likes. Have a plan. Get all the food and supplies before the day of the dinner.

    9. A date with all of the arrangements made and on the calendar. Childcare taken care of, work taken off. The plan should to be in place so she doesn’t need to answer any questions about where to go or what to do.

    • A note about surprises: some women don’t like surprises. It’s totally fine to ask her beforehand to reserve a date on the calendar and say you’re planning to take her out. You don’t need to give her all of the details. Knowing what’s coming and that you’re doing the planning should be enough.

    10. Something you’ve noticed her liking or needing. Maybe her bedside lamp is broken or she needs new socks. Maybe she’d really love to get family pictures and you’ve been dragging your feet. Maybe there’s a movie or concert that she mentioned wanting to see. The important thing is to pay attention to her!

    11. Something that is uniquely her. Maybe she loves coffee or books, and you could get her a gift card. (If you need an idea of books she’d like, I can probably help you with that!) Maybe she loves crafting or art and you can give her a craft supply store gift card or pay for a class. Maybe she’s always cold and would love a warm, fluffy blanket. If you aren’t completely sure and are nervous about scheduling, ask her opinion! Talking about it is completely fine. She’ll like that you’re interested. Just do it before the big day!

    12. Time—arrange for her time for herself or with her friends.

              Ideas:

    • I have a friend whose husband pays for her to go to a hotel one night by herself every year.
    • Watch the kids for a full day so she can do whatever she wants.
    • Some women would prefer a girls’ day with family or friends. Talk to her friends and arrange for                    them to take her out shopping, for dinner, movie, or some other activity. Better yet, pay for it.
    • Even better, combine this with #4, #5 or #6 and fix something or finish a project while she is gone!

    ***Big takeway. It doesn’t matter what you do or get. Whether you’re wanting to make your wife, significant other, mother, sister, daughter, or any other woman in your life feel special, pay attention, think of her, and plan beforehand. It is the time and effort you invest for her that is the actual gift. And if you actually enjoy doing it, well, she might just melt to the floor right there and declare you her hero for cracking the code on one of the great mysteries in life.

     

    What about you? What is your favorite gift you’ve received? What gifts do you like best? Care to add anything to the list???


  • And The Fish Died

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    When my oldest son, Caleb, was 3, he won a goldfish at a local fair in our town. This wasn’t one of the “quality” aquatic creatures, but a simple feeder goldfish.

    Now, the life of a feeder goldfish usually has one of two paths. One, he is bought and fulfils the destiny his name suggests and becomes food for another animal. Or two, he is given to a child. In most cases, it really is a draw as to which destiny gives the fish the longest life span.

    Caleb was oh-so-proud when he won his goldfish in the goldfish races and didn’t seem to notice that every other child also got to keep their free racing fish, whether they won or loss. He won a goldfish to take home, and that’s all that mattered. When we got to the car, Caleb asked me how we were going to cook him. Yes, he wanted to eat his little goldfish. This boy was a fisherman, still is, and to him getting a fish apparently meant a meal, not a pet.

    After I explained the difference, he warmed up to the idea of a pet, so we brought the fish home and stuck him in a bowl. I was not a novice at the fish-keeping business. I know the drill. You get a fish for free. You are prepared to be a good pet owner, so you buy all the equipment. Two days later, said fish dies and you are left with a bunch of boring equipment.

    So I waited to buy any equipment. I think the first day, Caleb named him Nemo, but to my knowledge, he has never been referred to as Nemo again. We have always just referred to him as “the fish.” Surprisingly, several days later, the fish was still alive, and I went ahead and coughed up the money for a small aquarium. I wasn’t going to buy a huge one when I was sure the little thing was just waiting for me to spend money on it.

    So I got the little aquarium set up. And I waited. But the fish still didn’t die.

    He didn’t die when Caleb was 4 years old either. Or 5. Or 6.

    No dead fish at age 7.

    8 was a good year too.

    Caleb is 9 now.

    And the fish died.

    For six years I have cleaned his little tank. Bought his food and tank filters. Made sure he was cared for whenever we had to leave for a few days.

    I was the one to feed him. I tried to have the kids help, but the entire jar of food would end up in the aquarium every time, so instead, it became my job. The fish grew big, and didn’t really fit in his little aquarium any more. His long beautiful tail filled the tank nicely as he’d sashay around.  But I never bought a larger aquarium because I just knew he was going to go belly up any day. He then made the move from our old house to the new house, and I managed not to spill him out as he sat beside me on the car ride over. And he still lived, his box aquarium parked on our counter.

    For six years, I waited for the fish to die.

    But then, I didn’t want him to.

    I have bad guilt. I may have forgotten to feed him a couple of times. My head knows the fish didn’t starve to death. After all, he’d been sick for a few days and stopped eating. In terms of being a feeder fish, he lived an exceptionally long time. But I still have the guilt. Poor little fish with no name!

    Then I got to wondering why the death of our little nameless fish was bothering me so much. The reality is that I’ve been in a pretty bad mood about it and definitely channeling attitudes from Eeyore and Grumpy the dwarf.

    I guess I feel sentimental because we had him for so long. I never really wanted a fish, and I don’t want another. Our little fish tank will not be getting a new occupant. Like I said, I’ve been waiting for him to die for six years. But I’m still sad to see him go.

    But my bad mood is more than that.

    It’s the exhaustion from caring for a baby and three other young children.

    It’s the stress of trying to remember everything for everyone.

    It’s the worry that I’m not doing enough.

    And the fish died.

    It’s the fact that I have a million things on my to-do list and no time.

    That I rarely get to mark anything off the to-do list.

    It’s looking around my house and seeing the mess of three tornados and no hope of fixing it.

    It’s the hundred things I’d like to put on my husband’s to do list if he actually had time to do any of them.

    And the fish died.

    It’s the books I have floating in my head, pestering me to be written and no time to do it.

    It’s the best sellers that have come to visit my brain and left before I could capture them on paper.

    It’s everything that others say need to be done in order to be successful.

    It’s the driving need to push myself and do what I love and feel called to do.

    It’s the worry that it will all disappear before I can write the next book or put the time into my career I need.

    And the fish died.

    It’s the frustration of a ministry my husband and I have felt called to do yet have been in the waiting mode for several years.

    It’s the confusion of not understanding what God is up to.

    It’s the fear that somehow we will or have screwed things up.

    It’s the constant worry that I’m not good enough.

    And the fish died.

    Headaches. Kids fighting. Concern for my extended family.

    Caleb is playing tackle football, and I am TERRIFIED!

    Am I good mom? Am I a good Christian?

    What am I missing? What am I making for dinner?

    Did the 3 year-old get his teeth brushed this morning? What about yesterday? A week ago? What smells so bad? Oh, it’s me.

    What am I forgetting?

    And the fish died.

    In short, it’s life.

    As I thought of all of these real reasons behind my attitude, I felt my agitation increase. And then, before the worry could completely consume me, two beautiful thoughts popped into my head.

    1. The minutes of a day is like chocolate. There is never enough. I shouldn’t be wasting so much chocolate (I mean minutes) worrying about things that I really can’t change.

    Instead, I should turn them all over to the only One who really can change them.

    1. I should take all those worries plaguing me and count them out to God like counting dollar bills into his hand. And then… I shouldn’t accept any refunds.

    Giving my worries to God is difficult because I like to take them back. It’s something I need God’s help on. And while God is still working on me, I’m going to try to focus more on the little things. Life. Enjoying the moments that include free fish with no names and being thankful that the rest of us made it through another day relatively intact.

    Eventually, I won’t feel so sad that the fish died. Life will go on. I’ll figure out what to make for dinner (McDonalds?), and today’s worries will be paid off by the One who owns them. And I will be thankful that for six years, we had a fish that lived.

     


  • Tru Stories 2.0

    I am very fortunate that I get to live out my dream of being an author. I write books and people actually read them. And what’s even better is that they like them!

    But there are some things that I am not good at. I am a very busy mom of four young children. My oldest is 9, and my youngest is 3 months. I am a full-time mommy, with no babysitter, so naturally, some things just have to go. I’m pretty bad about keeping my website up, and not great at doing the social media thing or advertising. When I do have time, I’d rather be writing than trying to figure out creative ways to get more people on social media to buy my books. And honestly, I really don’t feel I’m interesting enough that people would care about a Facebook post chronically the number of times I changed a diaper today!

    As I mentioned before, what I like to do is write. I really can write about absolutely anything and be happy doing it. (Cue post about watching paint dry). So then it occurred to me that maybe I could write about my life in a way that people might enjoy reading it. What if I did the things I normally did, but then wrote about it in a fun way?

    For instance, I tend to be rather obsessive. This serves me well when writing books because I research things ad nauseam and am quite perfectionistic. But I also obsessively research non-writing things as well. Do you know the best way to get marker out of a hardwood floor? Or the best present for a 9 year-old boy? Or the best and safest shampoo for your kids? Or how to navigate Disneyland with a 2 month old baby in tow? I know all of those things. Plus, I’m fantastic at screwing up daily life and surviving to laugh about it.

    And you know what else? Along the way, I write some pretty awesome books!

    So my new goal for my blog is to write. Not just about my books or writing. Honestly, trying to keep myself to those subjects is very limiting and rather boring. My life is so much more than that. Instead, I’m going to write about whatever suits my fancy. But do it in a unique way with some different, rather entertaining angles.

    So I’ll share some stories, write about things I’ve learned or find interesting, and probably share some products that make a crazy life easier. Some of my product links may be affiliate links, which simply means, if I share about a product and someone buys it, then Amazon pays me a small commission. That just seems smart and we both win. You get something you like and I get some money that I will most likely spend back at Amazon to find more things you’ll like. Because honestly, Amazon is kind of my best friend. (Remind me to tell you about the Fed Ex guy who delivers my many Amazon packages. I keep him employed.)

    Chances are, if you visit often, you’ll probably learn something, be inspired, shed some tears, find some great books to read, and get plenty of giggles. If you happen to enjoy any of my posts, please share the link and / or leave a comment and let me know! I appreciate knowing these things don’t go into a great black hole in cyberspace.

    Ready? Here we go.

    Hope you enjoy a few Tru stories!


  • How I Became J. Lasterday

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    I recently published my first children’s book, and I did so under a pen name. Of course, I anticipated the inevitable questions as to why I chose to do that and why the name J. Lasterday.

    I used a pen name because I wanted to have a distinct separation between the vastly different genres. I wanted kids to be able to look up J. Lasterday, and find exactly what they were looking for. The same with my Amanda Tru name. Of course, I have no problem with people knowing both names belong to the same person! Hey, if you enjoy my Amanda Tru books, maybe your kids will like the J. Lasterday ones!

    As far as the pen name itself, it is very sentimental. J. stands for Jane, and is in honor of the imaginary friend who stayed with us for a very long time. In fact, he still shows up every once in a while. (Yes, Jane is a boy.) My oldest son first introduced us to Jane when he was about three. Many kids have imaginary friends, but Caleb had an imaginary town, complete with a large population of friends. Jane, however, was our most frequent visitor. So much so that he was somehow adopted by my second son. We played with Jane a lot. When my boys would run races around the house, I would call the races as they competed against Jane and others. That poor Jane. He wasn’t very fast. I don’t know that he ever won a single race.

    If you look at the dedication for my book, “The Dragon’s Escape,” you will see that it is dedicated to my boys, “in memory of all of your lasterdays.” The following is a blog post I wrote a couple of years ago, around New Year’s. I think it clearly explains the origin of Lasterday.

    When I chose a pen name, it was a name which, to me, captured the essence of childhood. I want my books to spark imagination and revel in the joy of being a kid. So for my wonderful “grown up” readers who love my unexpected stories, I will be Amanda Tru, but for the children, I will be J. Lasterday.

    Lasterday

    Blog Post from January 2013

    Whew!  I’m running behind!  I’ve been busy finishing writing my new book and also getting some big projects done for my family.  So, I know it’s late, but this is my New Year’s post.

    I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions.  Of course, I have some things I would like to accomplish this year.  I have a list of books to write, and I have the standard ‘get into a good exercise routine’ goal.  I’d also like to revamp my Bible reading and devotional time.

    However, I tend to be a very goal-oriented, stubborn person anyway, so I don’t necessarily need the pressure of a resolution to accomplish my goals.  If anything, I tend to get too focused on the things I need to accomplish.  I can get so caught up in the details that I lose the beauty of the big picture.  I think it’s actually a pretty common problem with moms.  There’s so many expectations put on us by others and ourselves that it’s hard to remember to breathe let alone take a moment to stop and enjoy the view.

    So maybe what I need is an anti-resolution . . .

    My 3 year old uses the term ‘lasterday.’  I think it’s a combination of ‘yesterday’ and ‘last night.’  He frequently asks in his cute voice if we did something lasterday.  And I never correct him as to the proper term.  Why?  Because I know that he will eventually realize it on his own, and his lasterdays will forever cease.  And what really bothers me is that I don’t know when the last time is that he will say it.  If I did know, I would try to find a way to record it.  Or maybe I would just hold him and savor the sound of his cute voice telling me about lasterday.

    So that got me thinking . . .

    If I knew it would be the last time

    You asked me to play with you.

    I’d stop everything I was doing

    And we’d get every toy out and play with it twice.

    If I knew it would be the last time

    You wanted me to pretend.

    I’d crawl after you and the other ‘kitties’

    And answer you in meow.

    If I knew it would be the last time

    You sang the wrong lyrics to a song.

    I’d belt out the wrong words with you

    And dance you around the room

    If I knew it would be the last time

    You asked me to read you a story.

    I would find the child’s version of ‘War and Peace’

    So it would last forever.

    If I knew it would be the last time

    You wanted me to ‘tuckle’ you in bed.

    I’d crawl in beside you, pray away the nightmares, sing lullabies,

    And fall asleep with you in my arms

    If I knew it would be the last time

    You let me kiss and hug you goodbye

    I’d making it embarrassingly long

    Then watch until you were long out of sight

    If I knew it would be the last time

    You asked me to kiss your owie.

    I’d put extra magic into the kiss

    So it would cover all future hurts.

    If I knew it would be the last time

    You crawled into my bed in the morning.

    I would snuggle you close, smell your hair,

    And remember my little baby

    Time goes so fast.

    So many lasts.

    And I know not when.

    So I’ll savor each time as a last.

    I’ll close my eyes, hold you close,

    Take a picture in my mind.

    Keep that one moment to last forever.

    Then I’ll let you go.  Smile through my tears.

    And follow you into tomorrow.

    I have an impossibly long list of things I should accomplish this year.  But this is my anti-resolution:  I’m going to try to work on the things I really want to remember in twenty years or more.  I’m going to try to live in the moments of my children being young.

    So, if you come into my house, you may have to excuse the clean laundry pile the size of Mount Everest and the pretend kitties crawling around the furniture.  We’re busy making memories and enjoying whatever lasterdays we have today.

    Poem and Post by Amanda Tru