3 Ways to Boost Your Bandwidth

 3 Ways to Boost Your Bandwith

When my husband Mark is frustrated, it’s written all over his face. And if I can’t see it in his face, I can hear it in his tone. That’s the way if went down last night. He was frustrated with the internet speed on his laptop and…it wasn’t the first time. 

“Susan…” he began, “You’re eating up all the bandwidth on our Wi-Fi!”

I looked over at my laptop and realized he was right. I had two different search engines up: Google Chrome and Safari. Plus, between Pinterest, Facebook, emails, and a various array of other tabs, I had more internet windows up than I could count!  Oops.

Right away, I got frustrated.  Why do I always forget to close windows? Why do I never have enough bandwidth on my internet? How much does it cost to boost your bandwidth? Why does it always cost more? 

Then, I stopped.

It wasn’t just my laptop that needed more bandwidth–IT WAS MY LIFE!  I realized that I could ask those same questions about my life in general. I don’t ever seem to have enough bandwidth in my brain. Lately, I am constantly running out of time and energy.  So if you’re ready to get things under control with me, here are 3 ways to simplify your life and boost your bandwidth:

1. Get some windows closed.

First, it’s time to close some of those windows out. As moms, we think that we can balance everything. We convince ourselves that we can add just one more sports practice or one more appointment to next week. But having too many things on our plates means one thing: something’s gotta give. And in most of our cases, it means a lot of somethings are gonna have to give and it isn’t going to be pretty AKA temper tantrum, meltdown, tears, etc.

2. Get some things done.

Next, it’s important to get away from the technology and focus on the things that need to get done. If you’re spending too much money shopping online, it might be time to think of how to be a better steward of your gifts. If this sounds like you, my challenge is to take that money spent on stuff and invest in a good house cleaner who can take care of the small things. This will give you extra time to put more energy into other aspects of your life that need your attention, like relationships.

3. Get some real rest.

When I’m constantly running from place to place without a break, I’m not at my best. I begin losing my creativity, my enthusiasm, and my passion. It is in these overwhelming seasons of life that I most need my time with the Lord. I need my peace and quiet if I want to offer the best of myself to others. And you do, too. So turn your phone on silent, cozy up on the couch, and dive into a good book. Give your brain some time to rest and you’ll be up and running in no time!

Where do you tend to overload your life?

Posted On: August 19, 2014     cat-folder Be Encouraged 1 Comment


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How to Divert Your Kids When Headed for Trouble


It doesn’t matter how old or young your child is, they can run into trouble. Especially when it comes to opportunities and choices with friends. Getting into trouble is a bit of a slippery slope these days because kids have access to so much. Or maybe I just felt like my kids were at risk more because I was pretty particular about things my kids were exposed to like movies, music, crude language, clothing, etc. I have 5 kids all within 6 years of each other, so I know lots of kids and lots of parents. I have seen patterns of how kids travel down the slippery slope to trouble and how some parents learn how to head it off with a detour! It’s a great trick that every parent can use–how to divert your kids when headed for trouble.

Examples say it all. Below are three ways you can divert you kids when headed for trouble. But first, one overriding tip for all three–find a few “Parenting Wingmen!” In the air force a wingman is a pilot that flies just behind the rightwing of the lead aircraft in a flight formation, in order to provide protective support.  Every parent needs a few wingmen! These are relatives, friends and other parents who can help you provide protective support for your kids. Your mom for example might be a great wingman for you.  She can stay involved in your kids lives by following your kids on Facebook and Instagram. She can speak  words into your child’s ears that echo yours words but from a different perspective. She can listen to you when you are choring over a dilemma with your kids and encourage you when you are worried.

Here are some examples of diversions I have created for events or situations I felt might lead to trouble.

Scenario Number 1: A Troublesome Event

In sixth grade, one of my daughters was invited to her first boy-girl party.  Mark and I were not at all comfortable with the situation. The classmate hosting the party was boy crazy, the party was later at night and the parents were permissive. There were no mentioned activities and to make it a little more out of control the entire grade was invited. Mark and I were leery, our daughter was excited and I needed support.

I phoned a friend/wingman. She knew this family and agreed that while this party was probably not dangerous, it was a troublesome opportunity for situations a twelve year old shouldn’t have to face. My friend and I created a diversion–her daughter would spend the night with my daughter and we would plan a fun outing. When I explained to my daughter why I thought she shouldn’t go she was disappointed by somewhat consoled by my alternative diversion.  

The night of the party, she and her friend had a great time, but as I was tucking them into bed she got a little sad.  She said, “mom everyone probably had so much fun. They will talk about the party all day at school and I will be left out.”  Then I said words only God could have divinely place in my mouth, “Honey, think about it, they probably did a bunch of stuff you really wouldn’t want to do. Like what if they played spin the bottle and you ended up having to kiss that boy that drives you crazy.  And then, on Monday you would have to sit next to him for a whole hour in math class.” Her face was priceless–YUK! She went to bed happy.

On Monday, the first thing she said to me when she got in the car after school was, “Mom, you are not going to believe this. They did play spin the bottle and my friend had to kiss that boy!” (YUK look again with added horror). My daughter had avoided something she really didn’t want and she was greatly relieved.  Playing spin the bottle is not what most would consider an extremely dangerous kind trouble? However, my daughter learned to listen to me a little more before pushing to do things–thank you, Lord!  And I often have wondered what future trouble was diverted because she learned this lesson early.

Scenario Number 2: A Troublesome Relationship

One of my daughters had a really sweet, best, best friend throughout elementary and middle school. They were inseparable.  But when high school came things changed.  The friend chose another path that my daughter couldn’t go down.  She vacillated daily in her emotions–wanting to be with her friend, knowing in her heart it was wrong, and frustrated when confronted by me if she chose to join her friend.  I was worried and sad for her.  She was lost and lonely.

I phoned my mother-in-law/wingman.  My mother-in-law is really great about making my kids feel special and treating them to little luxuries and outings. She spent a lot of time with my daughter encouraging her, praising her for doing the right thing, filling her time with fun diversions.  My mother-in-law diverted my daughter from the temptation to join her friend headed for trouble by spending time with her. It worked because it gave my daughter time to grieve the loss of her friend and time to make new friends.  By the end of her freshman year she had found a new group of more like minded girls to hang out with.

Scenario Number 3: A Troublesome Disappointment

All of my children have experienced a troublesome disappointment.  These are times when they just didn’t get the opportunity they wanted and their self-esteem is rocked.  It has happened to them in sports–they didn’t make a team or get a starting position; in chorus/drama–they didn’t get the part; in academics–they didn’t get the score for that college or academic honor; and in leadership–they didn’t get elected for a position.  All of my kids have had humbling experiences and I am thankful for that, humility is a wonderful characteristic that is usually learned from experience.

However, there have been times when the experience has led to dejection and self-deprecation. They have been uprooted from friendships because they didn’t make a team all their friends were on.  They have been confounded by multiple failings in the same area leading them to believe they just weren’t good enough.  And they have been unjustly treated by adults running things unfairly and it lead them to believe it didn’t matter how hard they tried because the world is unfair so what is the point.

In each of these situations I have had to phone all kinds of wingmen–a past piano teacher who loved my daughter, an aunt who had a similar experience growing up, a young adult in our church who had a cool connection with our child, and so many more.  Sometimes I called new people I didn’t really know and explained the situation asking if they could help, like a coach I heard about that ran his team differently or a ballet teacher who wasn’t so critical.  Sometimes the diversion was to pull the child back from the world for a time and fill their time with family. Outdoors are great for helping you gain perspective, like fishing or camping trips where they could just be quiet and be filled with praise from us, away from whatever was so disparaging.

Diverting our kids when they are headed for trouble is a big part of training them up and takes a lot of time.  But with a few wingmen and inspiration from the Lord–you can do it!

Who are your wingmen? And how do you create diversions when your child is headed for trouble?

Posted On: August 17, 2014     cat-folder Parenting 3 Comments


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Beef Tortilla Bake, Green Beans and Donut Holes

Creamy Tortilla Bake


I love to cook for my family. But it is really hard to find the time!  Sometimes the process of figuring out what I should make, looking up the recipes, and putting it all together in a meal pushes me over the edge to take-out instead or worse, drive-through. And the worst part about the drive-through is not health related–it’s relational. There is nothing I hate more than a hurried meal in the car, with little conversation and zero eye contact.

There is more to dining together than food. Eating dinner together as a family nourishes your child’s body and their heart.

I know, I grew up with dinner–every night! And Sundays were extended family dinners–big, yummy, loud. I learned so much. I lingered more and more as I grew older, listening, laughing and sharing with relatives who always asked about my life and encouraged me. Every child needs that connection, your child needs it.

Sunday Suppers feed the heart and soul of your family.

So, we can do this at least just once a week, on the weekend, when you just might have a little more time to get it together and actually enjoy the process! Actually blogging about it is going to force me to do it even when I don’t have kids home I am going to entertain friends.

Here’s how this will work. Every week I’m going to share an idea for a complete meal that includes recipes for a main dish, a side, and a dessert. I’m also going to give you some conversation starters to make your mealtime even more special. Lastly, once a month I’ll have a drawing for a 6-month subscription to eMeals.  And if you’ve been around my blog for a while, you know how much I love Jane and eMeals!

This weekend is back-to-school for many of us.  Kick it off right with something most kids will love– Cowboy Beef Tortilla Bake, Greens Beans with Herb Dressing, and Baked Donut Holes.  And while your family is digging in ask a few questions to get the conversation started:

Beef Tortilla Bake Conversation Starters

Enjoy! To be entered to win this month’s eMeals subscription, let me know what your favorite go-to meal is for your family!

Main Dish

Creamy Beef Tortilla Bake
  1. 1 lb extra-lean ground beef
  2. 1 cup chopped onion
  3. 2 (10-oz) cans diced tomatoes with green chiles
  4. 10¾ oz can reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of chicken soup
  5. 1½ cups frozen corn, thawed
  6. 1 tablespoon chili powder
  7. 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  8. 1 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook beef and onion in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes or until beef is browned, stirring to crumble; drain.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, soup, corn and chili powder.
  4. Layer one-third of tortillas in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
  5. Top with half of meat mixture; repeat layers.
  6. Top with remaining tortillas.
  7. Bake, covered, 40 minutes or until bubbly.
  8. Uncover and sprinkle with cheese.
  9. Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.
Susan Merrill http://www.susanme.com/

 Side Dish

Green Beans with Herb Dressing
  1. 4 green onions, chopped
  2. 1 clove garlic, minced
  3. 1/3 cup olive oil
  4. 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. 1 teaspoon white sugar
  7. 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  8. 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  9. 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  10. 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  11. 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  12. 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped
  1. In a medium bowl, mix green onions, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, white sugar, mustard, basil, oregano, marjoram and pepper.
  2. Place green beans in a steaming basket. Steam green beans in a medium saucepan over boiling water 5 minutes, or to desired tenderness. Place green beans in a medium serving dish.
  3. Pour dressing mixture over the beans.
Susan Merrill http://www.susanme.com/


Baked Donut Holes
  1. ½ cup sugar
  2. ¼ cup butter, melted
  3. ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  4. ½ cup milk
  5. 1 tsp. baking powder
  6. 1 cup flour
  7. ¼ cup butter, melted
  8. ¾ cup sugar
  9. 1 ½ tsps. ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Meanwhile, grease 24 mini-muffin cups.
  2. Mix ½ cup sugar, ¼ butter and nutmeg in a large bowl.
  3. Stir in the milk, then mix in the flour and baking powder until combined. Do not over mix. Fill your muffin cups halfway.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until your donuts are lightly golden.
  5. While your donuts bake, place ¼ cup of melted butter in a small bowl. Mix ½ cup sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl.
  6. Once the donuts are finished, dip each muffin in the butter, then roll them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Susan Merrill http://www.susanme.com/

Don’t forget to tell me what your go-to meal for your family is for a chance to win an eMeals 6-month subscription! 

Congratulations, Jen! You have won a 6-month subscription to eMeals. 

Subscribe to the blog for Sunday Supper recipes and more. 


Posted On: August 14, 2014     cat-folder Sunday Suppers 18 Comments


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