Friday, December 29, 2017

Resolving to be Happy in 2018 (January's Assignment)

In the last two weeks I have read a ton on happiness, and it's a great timing too because I am surrounded by happy kids, love, family, time to think, good food, and no where pressing to be.  In other words, perfect conditions to consider happiness and resolutions for the upcoming year.

I find there are generally two camps of resolution makers. Ones that do (and really do) and ones that don't.  I fall firmly into the first camp.  I do, and boy do I do with charts and lists, and SMART goals, followed by eventual self-chastising over failure to meet said goals.

Looking over my resolutions for the past 7 years (yes, I've kept them all-don't judge) I found a couple of things: 1) I basically keep the same goals over and over (eating better, exercising more, try yoga, clean the house more often, etc.) and 2) I keep the same goals over and over because I have yet to achieve them.

Friday, December 15, 2017

How to Live a Life with No Regrets

A while back I listened to a TED Talk that mentioned 5 regrets of the dying, and I have been obsessing about whether or not I am living a life I will not regret later ever since.

The five regrets are:

1. I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself and not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish I had let myself be happier.

The scary thing is the stuff they mention on that takes place in the tiny decisions we make every day.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Night Owl to Morning Lark Success. The One Thing That Finally Worked!

Well, I finally did it.  I have been getting up at 6:15 pretty consistently, and I didn't even realize it.  Since I survived Thanksgiving break and kept my routine, I'm calling it a success.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Hygge Your Holiday Season

stress less Christmas

I just finished the Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking.  Meik is the CEO of The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. I figured with Denmark consistently topping the list for happiest people, and his job is to study happiness, who better to write a book on it?   

Friday, November 17, 2017

Find Some Breathing Room in Your Life. How to Start in 3 Easy Steps

Look at this woman in the photo.  Doesn't she look relaxed, serene, content? Don't you just want to push her off that cliff?  (That's jealous me talking.)

But I digress....So last week I declared ENOUGH with the Fitbit and other things, and this was the first step in an easier, less stressful life.  But what’s next? 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

I've Had Enough and the Fitbit is the First Thing to Go.

I've had enough.......

Enough talk about finding "purpose," "meaning," or even myself. Enough aimless searching for what I should be doing and more just being.

Enough wasting time in the pursuit of stuff.  Enough working for that stuff.  More having that stuff work for me.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Allowance, To Give or Not to Give (And When, How and Why According to the "Experts")

I give my kids allowance, but I don't think I do it well.  Off and on, we have tried several different ways, since they were 4.  I want them to learn the value of money, how to save for what you want, and how not to spend my money on some plastic toy you picked up in the checkout line in Target that you will lose or break or forget about in a week.  Okay, I admit it, this was my only motivation in the beginning.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

This One Thing Can Cause Sadness, Headaches, Forgetfulness and other Woes

As you may remember, I am on a quest to become more of a morning person, and less of a night owl.  I have been doing pretty good for the most part.  I am still experimenting with some things to see what works best for me (as in this is something that I can maintain over the long term).

My research led me to this study on interrupted sleep, and that led me to do even more research on the subject.

The study took two groups of people

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Guest Poster: Do You Wonder How That Special Needs Kid Affects Yours in the Classroom? (2 Minute Read)

Hey Guys,

Natasha's back with an awesome story.  I read it this morning, and I am inspired to look at my week ahead with new eyes.  I'll be looking for new opportunities to embrace my own and others' "not normal".  (You'll get it after you read it. ) 

Do You Wonder How That Special Needs Kid Affects Yours in the Classroom?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

How to Slay a Dragon: A Very, Very Short Real Life Love Story

We all have that thing or things that you are always trying to conquer like being braver, speaking up, not being a pessimist, not blowing up and losing your shit so much, eating better, not being so judgmental, saying no, not feeling so guilty (about saying no), etc.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

To My Fellow Moms Who Sometimes Feel Like You Are Failing.....

I caught these two kids helping each other and doing good in the world, so I sent their mom a note letting her know her kids were awesome even when no one was watching.  She sent me an email back thanking me for the note.  She said it came at a great time because she said she was having a bad day that day, and felt like she was drowning and failing at everything, "but maybe in this one area, the best area, she was doing an ok job, but I really can't take credit because my kids are somehow miracles of bravery and tenacity."

I was like, hold up, WHAT? "I'm doing an 'ok' job." "I can't take the credit..."  

This email left me a little dumbfounded because she totally strikes me as brave and tenacious, and I don't even know her that well.  
How could she say "maybe" or doubt her impact on who her kids are?  Then I looked a little deeper and remembered just hours before telling my daughter's teacher that "I wish I could take credit for her behavior but she is just a really great kid."   

Why? Why do we do this?  And by "this" I mean, why do we feel responsible for every mistake that our children make, yet when they do good, when they show that they are good, we say, "Well, I wish I could take credit for that, but they are who they are."  

Who hasn't felt like they were at times drowning or failing? When we've burnt dinner, missed a deadline, forgot to get the poster board for that project that needs to be done tonight, forgot to get dog food (again).  Then your kid gives you a hug or something and you say, maybe I'm doing okay here.  I'm want you to listen to this.  You are doing better than okay.  You are rocking this mom thing.  Here is how I know.....

You say your children are BRAVE and TENACIOUS, and I will add INDEPENDENT, FORGIVING, and KIND. Well, here is how they got to be this way.

You children see that things don't always work out the way you planned or the way you wanted.  They see you stumble, and they also see you pick yourself up and get back to work rebuilding.  They see STRENGTH and TENACITY.  

They see you heartbroken.  They see you disappointed.  They see the world fall apart around you.  They see you grieve for things that did not turn out the way you would have liked, and then they see you put your heart back together and push down your fear.  They see you put on your big girl pants, a smile, and like a boss, get shit done.  They see that you can be scared and not sure of the future, but you move ahead anyway.....That is BRAVERY. 

Oh, they see you alright when you snap at them during a PMS moment, and more importantly they hear you apologize to them and own your own behavior.  They see HUMILITY.  They see you taking RESPONSIBILITY for your actionsThey see you ask for forgiveness, so they learn how to FORGIVE and how to ask for FORGIVENESS, and they see you FORGIVE YOURSELF and they learn how to forgive themselves.

They see a self-sufficient, kick ass, beautiful woman. They see that you have faith in them that they too can be self-sufficient, kick ass beautiful humans, and they emulate you.  They see INDEPENDENCE in action.

The good that I saw that day brings me to my last and the trait the world definitely needs more of today. I saw a child reach out a hand to help someone who needed it, and I saw a child reach up and take that hand.  I saw these little people act with KINDNESS, and just as importantly know when to ACCEPT KINDNESS.  

They see the GRACE and COURAGE with which you go through life.

So, YES! take credit for how your children behave. You earned it. 

And when your kids are buttholes, which every single one of them will be at some point, remember, it is NOT your failure.  It's your teaching moment to remind them that they can do better.  They can be better, and then you will continue to lead by example.  Better an asshole moment at age 8 or 10 then a lifetime of it as an adult. 

Our kids see us because they are looking to us to show them how to deal with life, so don't hide or be ashamed of your failures because your children are going to fail too, and they are learning from you how to respond.  They look at you and they see you can fail and not be a failure, unless you fail to get back up, and I know you won't.  They know you won't, so rest assured they too will get back up when they need to just like you've shown them.

We are preparing our children for the road, because as much as we might try to prepare the road for our children, at some point we will no longer be on that road with them.  That day will come much more quickly than we realize.    

We are teaching them how to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and keep going, and some days that is so hard.  So, for those days girls, I want you to know that as much as you may feel like you are drowning and failing, you are rocking it in all the ways that matter. 

One final thought, we are quick with our judgmental eyes when things go wrong (me too, I'm not throwing stones), so why not 
tag or send this note or a note of your own to a mom (or dad) who deserves to know they are doing a great job?  They just might need to hear that today.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

An Ode to Roasted Vegetables: Making Nine (9!) 15 minute Meals Possible

I hate grocery shopping.  I think I've mentioned that before.  I can't say I really enjoy standing in the kitchen wondering what to cook, especially on those nights where the kids have activities and we don't have a lot of time (or for me energy for cooking).

The last two weeks I tried something new and it worked, so I'm passing it along for all those people like me who stress over "what's for dinner" and/or are short on time some nights, and/or just want some easy and healthy new ideas.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Be a Soldier of Kindness, Monday Morning Challenge

I've found myself getting a little depressed with all the craziness in the world, the hurricanes of mass destruction, The Donald not being able to get to PR because it's an island in big water, ocean water, taking a knee, outcry over taking a knee, the fact that both sides are so busy disagreeing on the knee thing that they have lost sight of the fact that they share one very important goal....they both want everyone to stand up.  Yet, here we are debating about the right to kneel.  I feel like a child being torn

Thursday, September 28, 2017

How to Get Your Husband to Empty the Dishwasher and Other Secrets of Life

I think I just had this epiphany.  I like to be right.  That's not the epiphany. Anyone who really knows me will say, "duh" to that one.  Of course, I would argue that they are wrong.  Ha, ha, ha just kidding (maybe not).

Here is the epiphany.  My pursuit of being right, gets in the way of me getting what I want so many

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Road to Self Care Starts Here!

PLUS 44 Other Ideas to Get You Started


Self-Care is the new buzz word.  In fact according to a NPR article, "The Millennial Obsession with Self Care" Millennials make more personal improvement commitments and spend twice as much in the pursuit of self-care than any other generation, especially in the area of workout regime, diet plans, life coaching, therapy and apps to improve personal well being.

The question is...Why?

Is this a problem/solution of our own making or just the solution to a busy lifestyle that often leaves us feeling self neglected?  This is the generation that has grown up in the age of the internet and social media.  It has never been easier to find information on any topic and never have we been so bombarded by images of impossible high standards.  We are no longer keeping up the the Jones'. We are now keeping up with the Kardashians (and a slew of other celebrities).

On the other hand, never has mental illness gotten so much attention, and we are at a point where the stigma surrounding it is at it's lowest point ever (although we still have a loooong way to go), so people are more willing than ever to seek the help that they need.  Self-care is seen as one way to address anxiety, depression and other illnesses or to help guard against them, and the internet provides almost endless possibilities and ideas on self-care.

Friday, September 15, 2017

How Lying to Yourself Can Make You Kinder to Others

You know how there are these little phrases that you've hear all your life, and you nod your head in understanding every time you hear it, then one day when you hear it for the 556th time you suddenly really get it, like as in an honest to goodness 'aha' moment?  I had one of these flashes of insight this morning.

I was mulling over a problem a friend of mine was going through.  A friend who always seems to have their shit really together.  They are funny, smart, successful many times over, in a happy relationship, living in a great place.  In other words, seemingly "perfect".  Yet, not perfect.  They have a loved one struggling, and a family at odds about the best way to handle the situation.  So the phrase "Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.  Be Kind - Always" or "Everyone is struggling at something, some are just better at hiding it than others." popped into my head, and I was like "Wow, that really is true."

Every time I've heard it, I've nodded my head "yes, of course" and went about my day.  Of course I "get it", but I don't know if I ever really, I mean really thought about it to the extent that I not only intellectually understood, but I felt it.  Everyone really does have something that they will have to deal with that isn't pretty.  We all have some mess in our life that we are hiding in the proverbial closet.  Some of us have hall closets, and some have that huge room-sized walk-in closet of mess with several sections, that we are dealing with.
Compassion and Empathy
The difference is when I intellectually understood it, I didn't internalize it, so I would then find myself subconsciously (maybe consciously) judging.  For example, you know when you pass someone on the highway, and then maybe you forget to get right back into the driving lane, then you look behind you and see this A**hole riding your bumper, flashing his lights at you to move over? See? Judging - only a**holes drive like that.  Or, the surly checkout person is just mean.  Glad you don't have to work with her.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Project Night Owl to Morning Lark: What Worked & What Didn't Round 1

SPOILER ALERT: I suck at this, but I learned a lot.....

Night Routines
Becoming a Morning Person

I picked this Ostrich because it is neither a owl or a lark, AND this ostrich face just looks like it saying to me, "Ummm hmmm, I know your excuses and I'll have none of them, get your ass out there and try again."  Ok, I'm trying. I really am, yet I just can't seem to get into a groove that allows me to stick to a routine.  Maybe the problem is that in the summer, there is no routine.  I get a little more lax with everything.  I have more than my usual 1 glass of wine.  The kids and I stay up later watching movies, playing Minecraft, and just enjoying the fact that we DON'T have a routine that we are a slave to.  I was starting to get back in a groove when Hurricane Harvey hit and the kids were out of school for another two weeks.  However, Monday is our last day home, then it is back to the grind. Back to a routine, so I will try again.

I was feeling a little down on myself for the total lack of progress, then I remembered this little statistic from Men's Health.  It takes the average smoker almost 30 tries before they finally kick the habit.  I've been a night owl my whole life.  I'm biologically pre-disposed (it would seem), so I'm not sweating it as long as I am learning along the way.  So, here is what I've discovered so far.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Book Review: The Weight of Feathers

2 Stars (out of 5)

I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway, and was so excited to get it. The cover is beautiful and the writing engages with beautiful metaphors and symbolism that are used tastefully and with restraint. The Weight of Feathers is like a classical beautiful woman (or man) you are drawn to because of their beauty and the care they take in their appearance speaks of a certain gracefulness, not like those flashy fake beauties. After a few minutes of conversation you realize that all of their effort has gone into their outwardly appearance and they are about as deep as a puddle.  Admittedly, I have low tolerance for foolishness and spinelessness and this book has that in spades. There is a magical element and everyone's decisions are based on this magical "gypsy" type folklorish superstition, which is one thing. However, the theme is inconsistent, at one time highlighting how superstitions and magic are absurd ways to base decisions on (even trumping love for one's sons and daughters), then explaining everything away with a perfectly non-magical, completely logical explanation that makes everyone look stupid for living 20 years under these superstitions. Then turn the page and someone dissolves into a pyre of ruby feathers that we are off and following into the sunset. While I have a low tolerance for foolishness and spinelessness in my characters, I have even less patience for glaring inconsistencies in plot. I would sacrifice flowery language for plot every single time.  As far as comparisons to "The Night Circus", I can say the prose is very similar in it's beauty and feel. I would say that is where I stop comparing. I was not a huge fan of that book either as I thought the actual plot was weak (i.e. non-existent), but it was more engaging and interesting to me than this read (but maybe not to a teenager because it does have that "but I love him" angst to it). So, I can't say I would recommend it to adult fans of that book because I do believe you would be disappointed.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Tiger Rising: How a Book Helped Me Help My Children Deal with Death

I just recently finished reading "The Tiger Rising" by Kate DiCamillo.  It is a short read, about 121 pages.  I finished it in about an hour.  My daughter who is 7 years old, picked it up on the clearance shelf of our favorite discount bookstore.  She is going through a cat phase right now, and is attracted to all things cat, so the cover (which is beautiful) and the title was irresistible for her.  She brought it home and read it nonstop that afternoon.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Guest Post: Best Underwear for Women (Sexy and Comfortable)

Hey Mommas!  We have a guest poster this week!  

Natasha Brown is one of my oldest friends.  We grew up together.  She recently (like this week) launched her own blog with a couple of her bff's to talk about those things we only talk about with our bff's, the trivial, the embarrassing, the funny, the serious, the raw, and the real, all in a judgement free zone (because best friends don't judge, even when they should/could). Please show her some love and leave some comments for her - well for all of us, and maybe check out her page as she gets it up and going.  Also, she is looking for topics to research and cover, so drop her a line ( ), and her and the bff team with talk it out and post about it.  

My recommendation for the most comfortable, pretty, no panty line showing underwear out there.

I'm 40 and I have had two children.  I just don't want to wear a thong anymore.  I'll take comfort over sexy.  At this point in our lives with two busy careers and two busy children, my husband is just happy if he gets laid semi-regularly.  I don't think he is even paying attention to my underwear.  Looking at my cellulite in a thong doesn't make me feel attractive either.  However, I'm not dead yet, and I want to feel attractive, and comfortable, and I don't want panty lines, so what's a girl to do?

Enter Soma Vanishing Edge series from Soma (
They disappear under your clothes, even the sheerest of summer dresses, and they stay put thanks to these little gripper strips on the cheeks.  They are super comfy too and come in microfiber and cotton.  I have used both.  I don't wear them to the gym though because they are my "fancy" underwear.  

Speaking of gyms and underwear..... underwear under your gym leggings or no?  One of the bff's goes commando, but I just can't do it.  It doesn't feel right.  Like riding in a car without a seatbelt it just feels like something is missing, and I feel vulnerable.  Maybe I have deeper trust issues, I don't know, but until I get those sorted out, I'm wearing undies under my leggings. The undies I've been wearing are Hanes Boyfriend Hipster 3pack briefs. They are cotton, so breathable, and they stay put.  Plus they have a little of this fighter/boxer thing going on, so it makes me feel like I am out there kicking ass Rocky style.  I love them, but you can see panty lines under leggings. I don't care, but if that's an issue for you, skip these.  
So fellow bff's, what's your go to undies?  What other amazing panties am I missing?  Leave your favorites for the rest of us below.

Monday, July 17, 2017

10 Things To Do Right Now to Help You Lose Weight for Good

I have tried a lot of things that didn’t work and were a little too extreme for me. Remember “Stop the Insanity”??? That was insanity. The science behind it turned out to be off the mark with her philosophy of never eating fat, and just eating whatever you want. Never again eating anything with fat in it for me was a definite no go in the long run (really, have you ever tried non-fat “cheese" {shudder}).  When I fell off the wagon, I felt like a failure, and that is when I really started to eat unhealthy, and the weight snuck up on me.  

In reality, I wasn’t a failure, the diet was.  So, when I decided to get healthier, I tried numerous things, many of which I still use in some form or the other, and I am still learning.  

All of these tips and tools are modifications of the tidbits I picked up from friends, family, reading, etc. I am sure you have your own list of things you've tried. Like you, I tried many of these with limited success. The #1 thing I learned that brought me the most success was learning to really pay attention to what I was eating and why without judgment.  This allowed me to really evaluate whether these tips would work in my life, and how I would need to tweak it to suit me.  So use what works for you, and accept that it might take a while to figure out how you can tweak what you learn to work for you. Be creative. Experiment.  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Want to be Happier? Join the 85% Club

Be Happier

Eighty-five percent is a pretty good number.  The older I get to 100, the more I think 85% is perfect. It might not be a A, but it is a B+ and that's still pretty good.

I'm embracing and making friends with the 85% because I just don't think I want to spend the energy chasing the A anymore.  In fact when I was going for the A, I wasn't doing it for me.  I was doing that for other people or to influence what they thought of me (can't let them see I'm not perfect).

Friday, June 23, 2017

Are You the Toxic Friend? 5 Ways to Change It

I stumbles across this old Forbes article about 10 toxic people to avoid.  I don’t know about you, but when I see a headline like this, I immediately open it thinking, “Oh my god, is that me?”  By the way, this is a sign that this is probably not you because if you were a toxic friend then you would be thinking, “Oh my god, how many of my friends fit this list?”  

Toxic Friends
As I was reading through this though, I realized that at one time or another I’ve done some of these things.  My guess is that we all have, so what keeps us from adapting these behaviors more permanently as other “toxic” people have?  

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Project Night Owl to Morning Lark: The Beginning

Night Owl to Morning Person

Ok, so my summer project is to see if I can become an early bird.  This has been a perennial favorite on the resolution list forever, yet never actually achieved.  Why worry about it at all you might ask? That's a really good question.  The fact is, I have kids.  Kids who go to school early.  Life happens early.  There is a lot of literature out there pointing to the benefits of being an early bird or a lark.  As I said, school starts early and I have to drag both of my kids out of their bed, and get them ready for school. They are reluctant early risers as well, except on the weekends...  Hmmm ... maybe I need to look at that a little harder in a minute, but I digress.  The world does seem to favor the early risers.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Two Things You Can Do to Turn a Bad Day Around

I want to introduce the concept of a Reboot.  When my son was small, he used to throw these hellacious tantrums.  If I could catch him before things piled on too much, (you know before the feeling where everything is going wrong) we could usually avoid an epic meltdown (on both of our parts). 

It would work like this. I would say, "Do you want a reboot?" He would nod his sad little head, and I would put him back in bed, pull up the covers, shut the blinds, turn out the light, say "I love you Bubba.  See you in the morning," and leave, shutting the door behind me.  Outside his room, I would silently count to 10, then cheerfully open the door and say, "Time to get up, my sweet boy. Time to start the day " Then we would go through our usual morning routine of hugs and tickles.  It would work (almost) every time.

Sometimes grown-ups need a reboot too.  Not the crawl into bed, pull the covers over your head sort of do-over (although, sometimes yes, we do need that too.  However, if it's that bad, I recommend just staying in bed, and that is totally okay too.  I do this once or twice a year, and leave the hubs to deal with the kids once he is home.)

Reboots work for two reasons:

Friday, June 2, 2017

Throw Together an EASY Cocktail Party for 25 in Less than 3 hours. No Pinterest Required!

Monica, I and another friend threw our first Mommas and Mimosas (and Mojitos) event as an auction item to raise money for our kids’ school.  The whole idea of a party, at my house no less, is a little terrifying for me. I mean, first of all there is all those people to make small talk with (not one of my strengths), then getting everything ready?? I’m not creative, nor am I crafty or a decorator.  When I do entertain, it is “Come over we’ll have margaritas," and it’s a couple of people that I know (well). Add to that the pressure of knowing that people paid for it….well hyperventilation started kicking in.  
I turned to Pinterest to look for easy ideas I could implement.  What a mistake!!  Pinterest is full of totally elegant ideas with the word “Easy” splashed over it to get me to click on it, but when I actually try to execute said “easy” idea, I come up a miserable failure, if I get past the 100 "easy" steps required to pull it off.  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

5 Things You Can Do to Start Living Intentionally Today

You need two things in order to change anything in your life and reach a new place.  1) You need to know where you want to go.  What is your end game?  What will success look like for you? And, 2) You need to know where you are now.  Think about it like reaching any physical destination.  If you want to take a trip or move somewhere, the first thing you do is decide where it is that you want to go, maybe the beach, Disney World, the mountains.  

Ok, you have your destination.  You map out the route.  On the way you get lost.  You pull out your map to look to see how to get back on track.  What is the one thing you need to know?  Where are you now?  

How do you find where you are now?  You pick your head up and you look around.  Are there exit signs? Are there other distinctive markers?  Once you know where you are, and find where you want to go on the map, then you can correct your course and carry on.  No matter how off course you may get either by accident or because you wanted to take a side trip on the way, if you know where you are, and where you want to go, you stand a much higher chance of success in reaching your destination.  

Life is no different than that, except that most of the time we don’t establish where we want to go, and we don’t pay attention to where we are until something happens, and then we say, “Oh shit, how did I end up here?”  

Friday, May 26, 2017

Make You Own All Natural Facial Cleansing Oil

Essential Oils facial care
I’ve been using the oil cleansing method for a while now.  You will find many variations on how to do this, but below is what works for me.  I have combination skin (more like oily and normal), and hormonal cystic acne.  I started using Coconut Oil on my face.  This did help some, and fortunately, the coconut oil didn’t clog my pores too badly.  I say “fortunately” because Coconut Oil is high on the Comedogenic scale. It may be good for a lot of things, but cleaning your face isn't one of them (for most people).   

Then I read something about Castor Oil.  Castor oil has been used for eons for all kinds of skin conditions (including eczema) to soothe, moisturize and treat acne.  Most Oil Cleansing recipes call for a combination of Castor Oil and some other oil such as grapeseed (high in anti-oxidants), Jojoba (closest to your own facial oil), Olive Oil, etc. Around the same time I started playing around with Essential Oils, so I decided to combine the two things for my own homemade super cleanser.  

Thursday, May 18, 2017

What If You Could Ensure Your Child's Success in Life? You Can. HOW? Read on.....

Interested?  First what is a "Growth Mindset"?  Thanks to Dr Carol Dweck’s  research (Stanford University, professor of Psychology) there has been a shift happening in how leaning and intelligence is viewed.  Dweck describes Growth Mindset as a belief system that asserts that intelligence can be developed.  Parents with a growth mindset believe that their children can achieve at higher levels - with effort, perseverance, and resiliency (some describe this as “grit”).  Learners (e.g. your children) with a growth mindset believe that they can grow their intelligence with hard work and learn just about anything.  

Conversely, a Fixed mindset is a belief system in which one believes that intelligence is something you are born with - it’s genetic, it is innate, and although everyone can learn new things, you innate level of intelligence can not be changed. (Depressing, right?)

So, last week I talked about Redefining Failure for Kids .  A google + member, Toy Veteran, commented with the quote, “To succeed you only have to double your rate of failure. - Thomas Watson, President of IBM from the 20’s to the 50’s.  I love this because it reminds us that our failures are often the most valuable and memorable teachers.  We can respond to our failures by either giving up, or we can use them to become better and stronger as we try, try again (this is the perseverance and grit stuff).  

One is a growth mindset, the other is a fixed mindset.  I know which I want for my kid (hint: it isn’t the "give up" one).

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Book Review: Sunset Rising (Sunset Rising #1) by S.M. McEachern

Hey Guys, I thought it might be cool to start posting some reviews of books that I am reading.  I like non-fluff fiction stuff (A Prayer for Owen Meany for example), fantasy, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, etc.  

However, I also like total fluff stuff that just let’s me get wrapped up in a simple, exciting story, and doesn’t strain the brain.  If I compared it to movies or TV, I would say I can appreciate and enjoy watching some of the important Academy Award winning films.  BUT, I also really appreciate a good episode (or binge Netflix marathon) of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Not the movie though, the TV Series.  The movie was terrible.   

I just finished Sunset Rising by S.M. McEachern.  This is a "flufff" book, not deep fiction.  First 1/3 of the book is sort of slow.  I feel like there is a lot of telling.  So far the villains are a little cartoonish.  I imagine President Holt with a Hitler mustache.  It’s a dystopian YA with romance.  Girl accidentally gets put into a position to save her world, but needs the help of an extremely attractive man to help her.  Typically, right up my alley.

I typically don’t mind minor grammatical errors because if the plot and characters are engrossing enough, my mind sort of skips over them subconsciously correcting as I fly along.  However, that has not been the case.  I can’t tell you for sure if it is because there are so many of them, or if the plot and characters haven’t sucked me in yet or both.  So far, I’m a little...

And for the rest of the book… it picks up in the 2/3 of the way in, a little.  There is more character

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Redefining Failure

goal setting fro children

I’ve been reading a lot about Growth Mindset theory lately, and why it so important to success in both children and adults.  I’ll post more about that later, but it got me thinking about failure.  Being able to learn from failure, take what you learn and adapt it to a the ‘next time” or a new situation is a critical component of a growth mindset. 

The subject of failure alone is enough to write a plethora of books on, so I won’t tackle it here.  Rather just one aspect of it.  

The flip side of failure is success or the attainment of a goal.  The attainment of said goal means you are successful or you are not.  If you are not successful in reaching your goal, then you feel like you are not a success or as my 4th grader would say, “I feel like a loser.”  This is heartbreaking to hear from your child.  Their heartbreak is our heartbreak, and we also don’t want them to look like a loser, so we do our best to work it so they avoid feeling this way.  We prepare the road for our child instead of preparing our child for the road.  

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

5 Tips on How to Stop Arguing and Start Communicating with your Child/Tween/Teen

Tired of arguing with your child/tween/teen?  Want to turn an adversarial relationship with your child around and have an actual conversation?  Here are some things that you can do immediately to improve communication with your child.
Communicating without yelling

1. Listen.

Now you are probably thinking that you do listen, and this is about the lamest advice ever, but I would wager that you really don't listen.  Most people don't really listen.  They listen to reply.

Next conversation with someone (anyone), observe yourself.  I'll bet you a mimosa, while the person

Monday, April 10, 2017

How to Change Your Child’s Behavior Without Yelling

positive parenting

I was talking to some other moms about how tired we get of telling our kids to do the same things every day.  It got me thinking about when I worked in change management in my former company, and what makes change management successful in an organization.  Organizations are made up of people right? And children are little people, so it stands to reason that the same principles should work on them.  

One theory I think would work here is Appreciative Inquiry (AI).  AI was introduced by David Cooperrider and his associates in the mid-eighties.  The appreciative assumes that in every organization (or person) there is something that works. The inquiry part is asking the question of “How” or “What” makes it work in that circumstance or instance? 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Why I Don't Tell My Daughter She's Pretty

Self-esteem, raising girls, raising boys

My daughter is pretty. She has hair the color of sun, and her eyes are as blue as the sea. And you know what? I try not to ever tell her that she's pretty because….Who cares??!! She won some sort of cuteness lottery. Her cuteness isn't something she worked for, strived for, gave blood sweat and tears for, so why be proud of something that is essentially just luck, and secondly could be lost in a moment.  

Monday, April 3, 2017

Summer Reading: Books that both Boys & Girls Will Love (ages 6-10)

Summer Reading Books that both Boys and Girls Will Love

 (ages 6-10)  

We like to read together every night, so finding books that appeal to both of their interests given their age, gender, and well, just being different people, has been challenging.  One child is a girl, one is a boy, and there are two years separating them.  One is logical and likes the adventure or humor.  The other is more feeling and relationship centered.  She likes adventure, but not over the dynamic of the relationships.  So to find books they both stay interested, and doesn't make me want to stab myself in the eye with a fork as I read it to them has been challenging.  I mean I love some Magic Treehouse but I was so done by the third book.  Not only did we all enjoy these books, but I found a lot of them on the clearance shelves of my local Half Price Book Store, so probably a safe bet you can find them at your used book store or definitely at your library.  

Here is a list that they makes us all happy in no particular order:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

When Did We Become Alright with Referring to Kids as A**holes?


I recently came across an article on ScaryMommy with this title: Not Being an A**hole Isn’t Good Enough.  We Need to Take It a Step Further, Folks. Now before this, it never occurred to me to think of a toddler or an small child as an asshole before. Adults, yes, teenagers, uh-huh at times, but they go through moments of hormone induced insanity, so occasionally understandable.

The first line in said articles says that “Don’t Raise Assholes” is the parenting philosophy du jour. I had no idea. (Here is a link to the article if you are curious. It’s a short read and rather good IMO.

Curious, I googled Kids and Assholes. Look at this, 786,000 (I guess 786,001 if this one makes it on there 😉). 
Kids Are Assholes, Bad Behavior

So it seems that this really is a thing. There are articles blaming parents for kids behavior. There are articles with parents proudly calling their kids assholes. There are articles telling you not to raise an asshole, and apparently ones telling you that not raising an asshole simply isn't enough.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Is Comparing Yourself to Others Always a Bad Thing?

Be Inspired without comparing yourself to them

Lessons I learned in How to Walk the Line Between Being Inspired by Someone and Comparing Yourself to Them.

Have you ever found yourself comparing yourself to others and feeling less than adequate? I had this moment not too long ago when I was texting with a friend (We'll call her M) about her day.  She mentioned that she went to this restaurant in Houston for dinner.

Me: Wait, what?? You drove to the city? [Gasp]  On a Wednesday night? For dinner? With whom? (To give you some perspective, the city is about 20 to 30 minutes from where we live.)

That’s when the tiny little voice of doubt starting asking, "Am I too comfortable?"  M is always out doing something, driving somewhere, while I am tucked under the covers reading a book (Hey, it’s an exciting book!).

Maybe I was dug so far into my comfort zone that I was missing out on some fun and excitement, you know in real life, not in book life.  “Maybe I’ve become boring.”  Wait what, did I actually just text that out loud??? 

M’s response to that: Life is too short to be sitting still.  I love doing something all the time.  Today was basketball at the gym, lunch with my bff, a few hours in at the office, homework time with the kids, dinner with girlfriends  (My Head voice, in Houston??), then TV time with the hubby.  

In a desperate attempt to regain some peace of mind, and prove that I am not boring, that I am not done, that I am still exciting and can hang with the best of them (whoever “them” is), I throw out there, “I need to start a Friday Girl’s Night Out, once a month” 

M: “Great! Now that the gun club is dissolved, {My head voice: Gun Club, wtf???} I can do Fridays.

Me: Great!

M: …...but not this Friday {To myself: As if I could just drop everything and spontaneously go this Friday.  I have mentally to plan and prepare for it.  I can’t do that in a day or two}.

M:  I am going somewhere {My Head voice: of course…}

Now that I had a peek into someone's else's life I couldn't shake these questions.  Was I living my life to the fullest? Would I have regrets later?  Are there regrets that I should be having, but I do so little that I am not even aware that I should be regretting how little I don’t do? (I tend to overanalyze sometimes).  

Basically, I was having a mini midlife crisis. You know (if your 40-ish), the 'what am I doing with my life?' kind of mid life crisis.  What legacy am I going to leave? Is my time running out on “fun”, starting a business, writing a book, etc...whatever worry is triggered for you at the realization that time is running out on some of the stuff that you thought you might always want to do as you finally realize life really is short.

So, in an effort to jump start me out of this rut I thought up this bootcamp idea where I would plan live a week in the life of my friend.  Go to all the places that she goes to planned, spontaneous, everything.  I was going to grab life by horns, get out there and LIVE!

I ran my proposal by M (which she thought would be so much fun), and we were ready to g!.

That was three weeks ago, and I still haven't done it.

The thing is, right after I put it out there, I got this anxious feeling in my gut and I found reasons why I was too busy to start bootcamp right now (hey, that closet isn’t going to sort itself by function and color!!).  I mean, I have real responsibilities!!

That is the truth, but the greater truth is that if it were truly important, I would make the time.  So what's really going on here?

One reason is I am an introvert.  My friend is an extrovert.  One is not better than the other, but I can't be her.

A few words about Introverts and Extroverts. There are a few misconceptions about introverts and extroverts.  Being an introvert means that you internally process things, by yourself mostly, before sharing with others.  You may (or may not) like being with people, but in small groups, not generally large groups.  After spending time with people, you need some time to yourself to re-charge.  This is because introverts walk through the world overstimulated.  Everything is too much, too loud, too many people, etc.

Extroverts are always under- stimulated, so they are always looking for excitement, and tend to think things through out loud, and get energy from hanging around others. Both types are essential to the survival of mankind.

Picture this, a group of cavemen and woman in a cave (where else would cave people be?)  They are afraid to leave because stuff tries to eat them. They don’t have a way to defend themselves. They don’t know which plants kill you if you eat them, etc.  Introverts say, it's a super dangerous world, and they should just stay in their little cave and be safe.     

Meanwhile, the extroverted cave people are getting cabin fever.  They are bored.  They relish some excitement.  Bring on the saber tooth tigers!  If there aren’t these folks, the cave gets overcrowded and we starve.  Introverts realize this and say, okay, if we must go, then let's make a plan and take this crudely made spear I made, at least.  Introverts and Extroverts need each other to survive.

So lesson #1…….

Know thyself, and accept and love you for who you are.  You have gifts and talents that are yours and yours alone, so embrace who you are not who you wish you were (I have to remind myself of this daily.)

I know some of us are hard on ourselves so if it helps, imagine you are your child and parent yourself. Would you tell your child (or best friend), "You aren’t good enough as you are.  You need to do x, y, and z." (Well, maybe we do this sometimes as parents, but I hope it’s not the norm.) 

Know Yourself and Accept and Love you for who you are

You know that anxiousness in my gut?  Lesson 2……

Listen to your body. If you get queasy, or your back hurts or wherever anxiety shows up for you, pay attention to it.  If you don’t listen to the whispers you will soon be hearing the screams.  Body aches and pains often indicate stress.  Your body and mind are not separate entities.  They work together to keep you healthy and happy.  So if this is how you feel inside, then you need to stop and listen.
Anxiety, listen to your body
Anxiety, Listen to Your Body

These two lessons tell me when I am overextending myself usually because I am comparing myself to someone who isn’t wired like me and they have the same responsibilities, and life that I do.  

Remember the beginning of this long ass story though.  I was already feeling like I was missing something.

That feeling of missing something can lead you down the path of unhealthy comparisons to others, even our dearest friends.

Looking to others for inspiration when something needs to change is okay as long as you remember Lesson 1, Know yourself and accept and love yourselfand Lesson two listen to your body.

I for one am not so creative that I can come up with things on my own typically.  I am always taking some idea, or plan, idea, or recipe, and tinkering with it to make it better for me. I need to look to others for inspiration.  This, along with venturing outside of your comfort zone, is how we learn new things.  It is how we grow as human beings.

However, if you don’t keep lesson 1 and 2 in mind, then you are venturing into the zone of unhealthy comparing, and you need to step away from Pinterest, Facebook, the Supermom, and anything/one else that makes you feel less than okay.   Until you can pull your shit together,  indulge in some self-care in the form of things that make you feel good.   A good book, a trashy television series, and my Ugg slippers, usually do the trick for me.  Maybe it's skydiving, rock climbing or roller derby for you.   Bonus lesson: have a list of go to items, guilty pleasures, whatever it is that you know will cheer you up.

When I did this (stepped away), and really thought about what it was that made me feel like I was missing out, I landed on two things. One is very trivial.  I missed dressing up sometimes.  I love my yoga pants, but I also missed feeling pulled together. However, I never justified dressing up because I was never “going anywhere”.

The not so trivial thing, is that I really was too comfortable on my couch, and I was bored going out to the same places with my hubby.  So new plan, go out somewhere fun (that I can dress up a little for) with my girlfriends at least once a month, and shake up the date night scene with the hubs. Think I can talk him into a painting class that involves adult beverages?

I know I am on the right track because I don’t feel like I am about to have an anxiety attack.

Without taking a peek into my neighbors yard, so to speak, I never would have been inspired to get out of my rut.  Thus, I have successfully managed to walk the thin line between inspiration, leaving the comfort zone, but staying on the same continent, and honoring who I am.   So, I leave you with this final thought..........

Monday, February 20, 2017

How a Fairy Door Created Memories to Last a Lifetime for Mom and Daughter

Last Christmas, I stumbled across a Fairy Door from the Irish Fairy Door Company.  On a whim I added it to my cart and purchased it for my daughter who was 6 years old at the time.  

The doors come in different colors and styles and it comes with a magic key (cool, right?)  Your child can name their fairy and can register his or her fairy on the Fairy website (

Creating a Fairy Garden, Fairy Door, Kid Activity, Play Therapy
Fairy Door from the Irish Fairy Door Company

When your chosen box arrives you mount the door somewhere in your home or outside.  We chose a shelf in my daughter’s closet for the door to be mounted.  I mounted it with Velcro Command Picture Strips. Once your door is mounted the perfect fairy for your child moves into it’s fairy home, signs the lease agreement and takes the key.

What do they write about?  D tells her fairy the special things that happen in her life, and any troubles that she is going through, and Tulip gives her advice.  I give her advice too, but somehow she thinks Tulip is wiser  😉 .  Like the time D fell off her horse during her riding lesson and was afraid to go back and try again.  Tulip shared with her the time she fell off her dragonfly during her flying lessons and what helped her (D got back on the horse to make Tulip proud, and she is still taking lessons.) D’s friends have left notes to Tulip when they are over here for a playdate, and keep this between us, but the older bro has even written to Tulip too. Of course, he asked for money for something I had no idea he wanted (so I knew what to add to his Christmas list).  Tulip wrote him a nice note back, but informed him that fairies were generally broke (except for the tooth fairy.  That fairy is loaded.) D asks questions about fairy life, and Tulip shares some of her adventures. Sometimes they just leave pictures.  D might surprise Tulip with a new small animal for her yard.  Tulip sometimes leaves tiny notes in drawers for D to find.

D tells me such detailed and imaginative stories about Fairy Land.  She has created a whole world in her imagination around Tulip and her fairy friends (maybe this is how J.K. Rowling started?) She also takes these stories to school with her and she and her friends have amazing recess adventures inspired by Fairy Land.   

This year D wanted to surprise Tulip with a new front yard for Christmas.  I told her she would have to find most of the materials around the house or outside. D came up with a rough design and plan for her yard, and went to work finding things to make it happen.  D found some cardboard, and some rocks for a table and some sticks.  I gave her a $5 budget (little budget planning lesson) to use at the craft store to buy some other things for Tulips yard, and she used that to purchase some green pompoms for the tree, a birds nest, and a miniature broom because it is super important to keep your room yard clean.  We had some twine/string from the dollar store, paints, blue rocks, and hot glue already at home.  We had the best time searching for things in the craft store and outside to use for the garden.

Child Craft Activity, Child, DIY Fairy Garden, Play Therapy

We worked on it for a couple of weekends.   First we cut the cardboard to fit Tulip's shelf.  We glued the pompoms to a stick, and we glued two empty bobbins to the cardboard to hold the tree in place. The clothes line was made from two sticks and our dollar store twine.  Scrapbook paper made the welcome mat.  We used some blue rocks for the water and A LOT of hot glue.  That is probably the only thing I would do differently.  The rocks can become loose and fall off, but since the garden doesn't get moved around, I think it will be okay.  I might go with scrapbook paper or paint if I had to do it over again.  The seashell fountain is made from shells gathered from our annual beach trip. Lucky Tulip, got some surprise accessories from the Fairy Door Company to make her yard complete.  It's amazing how Santa knows what you need.  Tulip was super psyched about how well everything turned out, and so was D and I.

This project cost under $10 to make (leaving out the fairy door accessories).  The door was around $18-20.  So, for under $30 I get an adventure spanning two years and still going strong that includes writing letters back and forth to my daughter, seeing her imagination blossom, watching her share the magic with her friends, and creating memories that we will both have for a lifetime,.  That my friends is priceless.