Archives for December 2008

How to Take Charge of Your Destiny

The new year is hours away… or already here for my family and friends on the other side of the world! I just HAD TO get one more post in before turning the page on the calendar!

I was inspired by a thread of tweets started by the prolific Laura Fitton, a.k.a. @Pistachio, who challenged her 13,000+ followers to come up with a theme word for 2009. Regular readers will know this has been on my mind as well (see the Give and Receive story).

Laura explains her thinking behind it, “my entire resolution last year was just one task. i had to DECIDE to become the person i always hoped/knew i could be. i didn’t have to become that person, mind you, i just had to consistently, persistently and wholeheartedly DECIDE to. while i have plenty of moments of flagging/brittle hope around it, I can say I pulled it off. i’ve finally given myself that permission. i share this to challenge you in 2009 to choose something small but fundamental, like ‘simply deciding’ towards your future.”

I seem to be attracting this subject because I wrote down in my handy dandy notebook yet another tweet from Heather Cromar: It’s never too late to be what you might have been.

And in my inbox, was a message from Victoria Colligan, Founder and CEO of Ladies Who Launch:
Are we achieving the results we want? Are we experiencing feelings of success, peace and happiness? Whenever I answer “no” to these questions, I know it is time to change course. The ability to adapt, shift, and to create something fresh represents the ultimate control over your destiny.

So if I were one to be heeding the signs… I would say I’ve been given a recipe for how to take charge of my destiny. Thank you, friends. You are all inspired and inspiring women and apparently, you had a message for me today!

BTW, if you do a twitter search for “oneword” or “themeword,” it’s kinda fun to see what people’s goals are for the coming year. I narrowed it down to three: faith, passion, and purpose. But if I had to choose just one, it would be FAITH.

And yours would be….?

Happy New Year, everyone!

Practical Mommy is Ria Sharon. Click the links for Practical Mommy’s recommendations for travel car seats, affordable and fun diaper bags (skip hop bag), and the best-selling crib brand, Da Vinci Crib.

How to Set Priorities

parentingOne of my friends I can always count on for a good laugh sent me a Top 10 Priorities list the other day. Not unlike David Letterman’s lists, it was funny. But beyond the humor, what struck me was the very real benefit of taking one’s own life, complete with loved ones, work, interests, dreams, goals and aspirations and being able to sum them up, simply stated into ten lines of text. The next real challenge, not for the faint of heart, is to then label them 10 – 1, ascending in rank from lowest to highest priority. And then if you really want to live by these new priorities you have set for yourself, you will share them with someone close to you. We all need reminders every now and again and if we don’t share them, how can we be accountable for them? So once you have your top ten, post them on your magnet board, write them on little pieces of paper and hide them all over the house but definitely be sure to share them with a friend.

[Read more…]

How to Embrace Change

sunrise“Tomorrow the sun will rise… and who knows what the tide will bring.”

Great words from Chuck Noland. Ahhh… a new day. Or, more significantly, a NEW YEAR! And WHO KNOWS what the new year will bring!
(Bonus points to anyone who can name the movie in which that lovely quote was uttered!)

For moms (and dads!), change is just part of the territory. Just when you are adjusting to a schedule or routine, it changes. Just when you think you’ve come up with the perfect response to some unwanted behavior and it actually works… the next time, it doesn’t. Sometimes, the child you put to bed the night before doesn’t even seem like the same one that wakes up the following morning! I feel the exact same way about MYSELF! Friends who have been close to me these past few months love to tell me that I’m a completely different person. Fortunately, they reassure me that it’s for the better!

I’ve finally come to accept that change is… the only constant. Learning how to embrace it is one of the secrets to not living your life as a complete basket case!

What a perfect time of year to write about embracing change! I’m just not sure that I’m the best person to do it. I joke about how I am generally “pushy;” too eager to mix things up and try new things. I have a habit of leaping into the void and sometimes, I inadvertently drag people along that are not quite ready for the experience!!! So… I’ve invited some esteemed colleagues, whose approaches to change are likely to be… gentler! Interestingly enough, I got such great responses from them that I’ve decided to break it up into a 3-part series. So over the coming weeks, you’ll find some additional perspectives on the subject of CHANGE! [Read more…]

How to Make Daddy Freak Out!

Take the kids in for a shearing!

BREFORE…

and AFTER…

Yikes! Okay… I have to admit that I was the one tearing up as the tresses tumbled to the floor. BUT it was my daughter’s idea and she really, really wanted to cut all her hair off. She picked the photo out from the book and there was nothing to dissuade her. So after all this preaching about positive choices and loving someone even if I don’t agree with their choices… well, it was time to walk the talk. It’s her hair, right?

But *sh_t*! Daddy is going to kill me!!!

How to Make Santa Smile

How to Measure Success

Success is an elusive idea. Throughout our lives, we are trained to look to some external measure of success, whether it be a glowing report card or a college/post-graduate degree, a great performance review, or a big fat end-of-the-year bonus. During my career, I felt relatively secure of my success based on ongoing feedback from my superiors. The mere fact that I had a job, that someone was willing to pay me x amount, provided me some objective measure of my value. Well, when I chose to stay home with the kids, I pretty much kissed all of that goodbye.

Now what? In the years I spent as a full-time stay-at-home-mom, I was swirling with doubt and confusion about whether or not I was any good at it. I mean, do they even have a job description for this thing that I do 24/7/365? When is my next raise and for the love of… when is my next vacation??? [Read more…]

How to Make Holiday Keepsakes

So you’ve just created the perfect holiday card! And you’ve sent it to all your friends. But do you keep one for yourself? Do you have an archive of all your sweet, personalized cards from years past? That was my dilemma. Every year, we display all the cards we receive from everyone else and it’s so great to see how much all the children have changed from year to year. But what about your own? Their pictures aren’t really tugging on the heartstrings in some drawer or file folder, are they?

Since my kids were born, I’ve made ornaments out of our annual holiday card. Each one is a little different. One year, I found a company online that would actually print your picture on a glass ornament. I’ve used wooden picture ornaments and silver ones… it’s fun to see the collection grow. My kids looooove putting them up during our First of December Tree-trimming Extravaganza and ooohing and aaahing about their cute, changing selves!

Really… I’m NOT Martha!!! But not only is it a great way to preserve those holiday memories… it’s also a way to get my holiday projects to do double-duty! Practical, see?

Click to see the matching card and ornament!

Practical Mommy is Ria Sharon. Click the links for Practical Mommy’s recommendations for travel car seats, affordable and fun diaper bags (skip hop bag), and the best-selling crib brand, Da Vinci Crib.

How to Make Memories

This time of year is a flurry of activity! Like everyone else, my camera and camcorder (or whatever they’re called these days) work overtime. My daughter was in a musical, there are recitals for dance/singing classes, holiday performances, family gatherings… the list of “recordable” moments is as daunting as is the sheer number of Christmas cookies I’ve consumed.

For a number of these events, I’ve consciously decided to keep my electronic devices in my purse. Maybe I’ll regret it later, when everyone else has adorable pics of their kids dressed as Sneetches but I’ve been noticing that from behind the viewfinder, I’m missing the actual experience!

How many times have you tried to capture that perfect pink sunset on vacation? It never really translates… and in the process, you missed the whole thing! On our last trip to Europe, my best friend and I were commenting on the fact that if we really wanted a record of the places we were to show our friends, we should just buy the postcards because those pictures were taken by the pros! In the meantime, we should just LIVE it! Reflectively, my best memories from the past few years are things that I don’t have duly recorded on video… the breeze off the ocean in Tulum, a walk in Kennedy Forest, watching my kids skipping over a stream in Forest Park… oh wait, I think I have pictures of that. :)

So how do you make the best memories? BE in the moment. Stop trying to preserve them all for posterity. The great thing about it is that your memory of it will probably change over time and it will seem even better than it actually was!!!

And those Sneetches… well, there’s bound to be another parent in the audience who’s stuck behind the viewfinder! Tip: make sure your kid stands by theirs.

Practical Mommy is Ria Sharon. Click the links for Practical Mommy’s recommendations for travel car seats, affordable and fun diaper bags (skip hop bag), and the best-selling crib brand, Da Vinci Crib.

How to Raise Your Child to be HAPPY

Childhood Roots of Adult HappinessAs much as we’d like to wrap happiness up and give it as a gift to our kids this holiday season, alas, we cannot. Happiness comes from within. It can only come from within. No amount of telling our children they “should” be happy for this or that can actually make it so. So how can we raise our children to be happy if we cannot give them happiness? (This is starting to sound like a Zen riddle!) Well, there’s hope…and it is not complicated. Research shows we can give our children happiness in the way we parent and in the way we live our lives.

One of my all time favorite books on the subject details this out very plainly, giving real world examples and strategies that help kids tap into their own internal wellspring of happiness. The book is The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness by Edward M. Hallowell.

In it, Dr. Hallowell examines the research on how kids learn to create and sustain lifelong joy…regardless of the circumstances of their lives. Profound. He offers a simple explanation and five easy steps parents can take.

If you are like me you are thinking, “What ARE the 5 steps??! Give me the formula!” Well, the book is worth a full read, but here they are in a nutshell:

1. Connection

2. Play

3. Practice

4. Mastery

5. Recognition

Through his personal experiences and as a child psychiatrist, Dr. Hallowell reminds us of the significance of CONNECTEDNESS (my favorite theme of all time), playfulness, optimism, and joy in our daily lives. One major take away is to avoid over scheduling your child’s life. They need lots of time to just BE, to play and create and imagine…you know…like you and I got to do when we were kids? Not dance, soccer, gymnastics, music and karate classes…just your child/ren and chunks of time with nothing to do but be a kid. This book really helped me off the hook of feeling I somehow needed to entertain my kids24/7 if I was to be a “good mom”.

Now the words “Mom, I’m bored” are music to my ears. It means I’m doing my job and my kids are being given ample down time to just be; to practice figuring out how to create their own happiness. And they do. Minutes after “I’m bored” our girls move head on into some of the most creative and magical games you could ever imagine…making fairy clothes out of leaves…dressing the cat to look like a rock star…the list goes on.

This enlightening book is thought provoking and a must read for anyone hoping to inspire happiness in the lives of children. I am encouraged to know that as parents, we can make a profound difference in our children’s abilities to create and sustain happiness no matter what challenges life may bring their way. I hope you will read this book and that it brings joy and ease…to your children and to your parenting.

I’d love to hear about your favorite parenting reads and what you got from them!!!

Suzanne, aka Zen Mommy
In addition to mommying to two magical girls born in 2000 and 2003, Suzanne owns a holistic health center in St. Louis, Missouri where she practices as a physical therapist, Certified Infant Massage Instructor and health education teacher. She is also the co-creator of the Yoga Parenting course.

How to Make Easy Holiday Treats

It’s like Santa’s workshop at Practical Mommy’s these days. With the help of two very helpful elves, we whipped up batches and batches of holiday treats. I like to get the kids involved in making something special for their teachers. Each of them have FOUR (count them, four teachers) plus “specialists.” Hence, we make batches and batches of treats. But in case you didn’t read my Thanksgiving story, my days of Martha are OVER. The operative word here is EASY.

Here’s what you need:

• Baker’s Dipping Chocolate
• bag(s) of pretzels
• sprinkles (optional)
• cookie sheets
• parchment paper (optional)

4 Steps to Yummy Holiday Treats
1) Microwave the Chocolate. We used the “Heat and Dip” kind that is microwave safe, white and milk variety.
2) Dip pretzels in melted chocolate. We also used dried apricots.
3) Place on cookie sheet and refrigerate until chocolate is hard (about 5-10 minutes).
4) Pop off cookie sheet and package in really cute tins or bags. (Parchment paper makes the popping off part easier).

That’s it, folks! How PRACTICAL is that?!

For more great and easy crafts that you can do with your kids this season, download Fun Kids Christmas Crafts. You can get it NOW! … not tomorrow when you brave a trip to the mall or, in 5-7 days from Amazon. You can have it NOW… for less than I paid for my dried apricots! Let’s not forget that Winter Break is mere days away!!!

If you’ve bitten by the holiday craft bug, you don’t have to wait. It’s immediate gratification. Just like chocolate-covered pretzels!

Practical Mommy is Ria Sharon. Click the links for Practical Mommy’s recommendations for travel car seats, affordable and fun diaper bags (skip hop bag), and the best-selling crib brand, Da Vinci Crib.