How to Get Into Your Skinny Jeans in the New Year, One Way or Another

The new year is a time to turn our thoughts to fitness and renewal. There’s fresh hope that this will be the year we look our best. Sadly, the older we get, the fewer calories it takes to run our bodies — making this goal all the less likely.

The #1 Way to Prevent Arthritis? Get in Motion Jingle Jog 2010

But don’t get down. There’s a New Year choice: Give it up now and save on the gym membership. Or dig deep and challenge yourself to try something new.

I’ve heard that as a woman over 40, I need to cut my calories in half to maintain my weight. And that’s just to maintain. My friend Dawn took this to heart and asked her OB/GYN if it was true.

“No” her OB/GYN said. Dawn breathed a sigh of relief. “It’s 2/3 less calories. You have to eat 2/3 less to maintain.”

Dawn has lived in Paris and knows a thing or two about fine wine, delectable cheese and tasty bread. “2/3 less” isn’t on her menu. She decided to fight back and hired a personal trainer to help her prepare for a half marathon this spring. An admirable thing for anyone, but especially for Dawn as she’d never run before in her life. Not once.

For me, it’s been a Godsend. I’ve been lumbering along trying to become a gym person, someone who gets out at lunch, sweats it out, showers and goes about my day. But my workout partner moved back east. So, half of the time I’d end up at the gym, the other half at the Chic-fil-a right nearby. The Chic-fil-a was just so much easier. I didn’t even have to get out of my car.

So when Dawn asked if I’d run a 5K with her, I jumped at the chance. It was fall and the holiday pounds were on the horizon (make that on the lips, soon to be the hips). At our first 5K, I thought my lungs would explode. Seems lifting the Chic-fil-a isn’t such a good workout after all. But I finished. Mostly because I was too embarrassed not to.

The next month we signed up for a second race. This time I actually got out and ran a bit beforehand. (Not looking foolish can be a strong motivator.) We weren’t the fastest but not the slowest either. While we ran it occurred to me that she’s been looking good from all this training so I asked.

“Are you in your skinny jeans?”

She nodded. I was filled with happiness for my friend, but a touch of jealousy too. [Read more…]

How to Stop Christmas

“Do you know why Santa is always jolly?” my husband said to me last year as we were driving together to purchase our Christmas tree.

“No, why?” I replied on queue like the well-trained straight man of umpteen years of marriage.

“Because he knows where all the bad girls live,” he said. I laughed.

Make the Holidays Memorable, Try an Ice Skating Field Trip!

“Where’s that?” my son piped up from the back seat. He really wanted to know.

The holidays seem to come faster every year. By Halloween, the outdoor plants at Home Depot are all gone and Christmas trees fill every nook and cranny of the store. At some malls, Christmas music even accompanies back-to-school shopping. There is no stopping Christmas. But we can slow it down and cherish every moment. Here are some ideas.

Don’t Dilute the Season

Set your own parameters and jump into the season on your terms. Fend off the push to start early. I like to dive in on Black Friday and get out with the crowds to catch the excitement — and the sales of course. Make the season memorable by planning one small holiday event each weekend, such as getting the tree, catching the lighting ceremony or skating at a rink. Create a visual of the season’s shortness by planning these events on a big calendar everyone can see.

Count it Down

My son can’t seem to memorize his division tables but he can instantly calculate the number of days to Christmas. Use your little Human Holiday Calculator to help build the excitement. Get an advent calendar or add a days-to-Christmas countdown to your fridge.

Celebrate Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is the virtual Black Friday. In offices all across America, it’s the Monday-after-Thanksgiving phenomenon where people collectively panic about their holiday lists. Suddenly, the fingers start shopping online sites during work time. So, join the crowd and make the most of it. Your boss is doing it too.

Wrap it Up Early

Shopping is not recreation. Recreation is recreation. Make lists and get it done to have more time for fun. Draw names with extended family. Really. They want this too.

Wrap it Literally

My friend Teresa decided not to wrap gifts one year because of how fast they were unwrapped on Christmas morning. She experimented with simply leaving piles of gifts for each child under the tree.

It was a fiasco. Her daughter felt slighted by Santa and asked if Santa was too busy for her this year. Teresa never left a gift unwrapped again.

Create a Slow Tradition

Making crafts can certainly slow down time. Even baking cookies can take up a whole afternoon. Get online for ideas, get the stuff, make a mess and create a tradition.

Make it Special

For my daughter, my husband has this show-her-the-finer-side-of-life theory of gift giving. He wants to head off any possibility that she will marry a folk singer. This is a palpable fear of his as she really likes the music. So he buys her nice things that a folk singer could not get her. For the longest time, she was the only five-year-old on the planet with pearls and she does cherish them. But the smart thing about getting one very special gift is that you’ve got an anchor. You don’t have to worry about adding too many other gifts, leaving more time for holiday enjoyment.

Be Thoughtful

People mention things they want all year long. You only have to listen. Besides the pearls example above, gifts don’t really have to cost a lot. For my dad, I’m scanning up old photos for a slide show. For my husband, I’m going to get his favorite book D-Day signed by the author. The time spent creating thoughtful gifts adds to the Christmas spirit.

Remember the Reason

The first year we moved here, I asked my children if they wanted to be angels and shepherds in the holiday procession at church. My son instantly was 100% sure he wanted to be a shepherd and said so. My daughter said, “I want to be a ballerina.”

I explained that 2000 years ago there were angels, shepherds, wise men, animals and Inn Keepers. There were no ballerinas.

“I want to be a ballerina,” she said again. I put my smart-mom noggin in gear.

“You mean a ballerina that wears a white dress and a tinsel halo?” I asked. She was two at the time and much easier to trick.

“Yes!” she replied. Problem solved.

We went to Holiday Mass with our Shepherd and Angel/Ballerina to say our thanks and remember the tiny baby who started it all. Christmas stood still for an entire hour.

Margee Moore is an advertising copywriter, mother of two and author of the iPhone book app Sleeping With the Laundry. Makes a great t0-me-from-me-love-me gift!

How To Market Like a Mother: 5 Steps for Entrepreneur Moms

Moms do a lot of things right.

  • We develop networks of friends to help us in a pinch.
  • We sift though countless options for our kids (soccer, piano, or underwater basket weaving) and choose with laser sharpness.
  • And we work efficiently to run our homes, nurture our children and make sure everyone is having a good time with rich experiences.

MyMommyManual's Expert Mom Margee's Book App is now available in iPad too

Marketing like a mother (or father) is about marketing in a way that comes naturally to us as friends and caregivers. To market effectively we need to market authentically. I’ve been reading Monica O’Brien’s Social Pollination and I’ll break down her tips for running a successful blogger outreach campaign in Mom terms. [Read more…]

How to Pole Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

A few Saturdays ago, I ran out of gas. Literally. This is not the type of thing that should happen to a fully functional adult. But, there you are. I rolled the dice one too many times with the empty light and came up short.

My Mommy Friend Meggan Pole Dances to Change Up Her Workout

We’d been in a rush to get to my daughter’s soccer game (what else is new) with not a moment to spare for gas. After our mad dash though, the game was delayed. Figures. I really, really wanted one more cup of coffee. So, I jumped in the car and started for the bakery — not the gas station. Good priorities.   [Read more…]

How to Love the One You’re With — Really!

Only a man would try balancing the checkbook at 8:20 on a Saturday when our son has a 9:00 soccer game. Who does that? Who thinks the checking account has priority when there are shoes to put on, uniforms to dig out of laundry baskets and orders to be shouted at children who don’t function on Saturdays without them.

Men are just different from women. They think about things differently. But I guess that’s why we love them. They complete us. Here’s a look at things that only a man would do. Only a Man Would… [Read more…]

How to Love the Backyard You’ve Got

It’s a thin line between love and hate when it comes to my backyard. I love my square of God’s green acre in the ideal. But it’s hardly ever been ideal. There’s an uneven patio, a cobbled path and a lawn that is green only in splotches. Plus, sometimes, it’s hard just to enjoy sitting in a location that’s primed for weed viewing. Thank goodness God or Teddy Roosevelt invented parks so we could get away from lawn care once in a while.

Public gardens, like Cranbrook in Michigan, help us forget our weeds for a while.

The Grass is Greener

For our lawn, it was once pretty close to the ideal, back when we had TruGreen. Then we had lush grass, solid from corner to corner. My husband was proud of it, despite the fact that he had to mow it every other hour.

When the economy tanked, TruGreen was the first service we cut. [Read more…]

How to Vacation in Sunny California on a Dime (and a Credit Card)


California, Here We Come

Last year, we flew to sunny San Diego, California for our spring break. It was my big idea for a really frugal vacation because we could use frequent flyer miles. But like many of my big budgeting ideas, they don’t always work out. Frugality’s not my strong suit. However, my youngest brother Matt and his family live there, and we hardly ever get to see them. So, we were going. Here are my tested (not proven) strategies for vacationing for less.

Tip #1 – Go Where the Dollar is Strong

Yup, stay in the U.S. The dollar works pretty well here, despite seeming to lose value daily. We turned in a lifetime accumulation of frequent flyer miles, and $500 later, we had four tickets. Sadly, it felt remarkably like Chuck-e-Cheese tickets where it takes a whole lot of spending to get a tiny little prize. [Read more…]

How to Boost Your Mood: 7 Easy Ideas

Put energy into helping another person. I work to make my daughter's annual Father Daughter Dance special. We have tea and do her nails to get ready.

Mental Health Breaks for Short-Attention-Span People

Life is a long-term self improvement project. Sometimes we just need a little break to help us feel better fast. Here are some ideas.

1. Take a Real Lunch Break

On the second School Snow Day this winter, I hit a rut. Trying to work from home with high energy kids was driving me nuts. Around lunch time, my friend Alyssa and her kids stopped over on their walk around the block. We scrounged up lunch together. [Read more…]

How to Survive Having Your House Painted

We live on a block of several old Victorian houses. Typically we are a DIY couple, capable of small electric and modest plumbing repairs. But last spring we needed a new paint job, new porch railings, new gutters and new balcony spindles. We decided it was best for the house (and marriage) if we contracted this work out.

A Contractor’s Market

There’s a contractor named Frank who’s a regular fixture on our street. He’s a wizard at carpentry, plumbing and painting. His yard sign basically moves from one house to the next, as most old Victorians need work – lots of work. [Read more…]

How to Make Resolutions… and Break Them!

My daughter has a goal to be the first six-year-old with a hundred-dollar bill. I don’t have the heart to tell her about the Vanderbilt/Whitney/Mary-Kate and Ashley set. So far she’s accumulated three twenties from her weekly payoffs/allowances. resolutionsI’m glad she has a goal, even if the economy has turned our notions of thrift and hard work upside down. In that spirit, let’s take a look at a few resolutions we might as well break in the New Year. [Read more…]