How to Celebrate the Holidays Without the Stress

I’m talking about celebrating over the holidays MINUS the stress and remembering the reason for the season this week on a St. Louis morning show and this is my first (and favorite) tip:

Get together as a family and talk about the many reasons for the season. I asked my 7 year old daughter and she said, “The birth of Jesus.” Presents and dinner at Grandma’s house came in a close second though mind you.

Now that you have your reason or reasons for thee season, write them and hang them in your home for all to see.

Here is a sweet little download I created with art from that you can copy/print/cut-out/fill-out and POST.


Post a gentle reminder for yourself and your family as you move into the busy-ness of the season and you’ll be sure to focus on the things that matter this holiday season. And when you do that, stress just naturally takes a back seat to the more important things in life. Like rolling in the snow, singing, laughing, sipping cocoa…

In this video, learn how to save time, save money and stay connected to your center… even (especially) over the holidays.

How do you keep from getting stressed out during the holidays? What is the reason for the season in your home? [Read more…]

How to Cut Out Holiday Stress

I can’t tell you how many friends I’ve talked to lately that have been bracing themselves for the holiday season. I know, there are a million extra things on your to-do list but… nothing good can come from holding yourself so tightly like that! I’m a one trick pony on advice here… BREATHE!

But Lee Woodruff is the author of Perfectly Imperfect: A Life in Progress. She has some tips for us on beating the stress for the holidays… not just for Thanksgiving, but for all those typically stressful times!

1. Get organized.

2. Ask for help.

3. Reward yourself.

How to Make Spoon Pie

I love to eat sweets. I love to bake. (Which came first, the chicken or the egg?)

My older two girls have inherited my sweet-tooth I am proud (and horrified) to say. So when the publishers of “Bon Appetit Desserts” asked if they could mail me their new 689 page cookbook full of only (you guessed it) desserts to review, I said, “Heck YEAH!!!” The deal was sealed when they agreed to send an additional cookbook to pass on to YOU.  (Just comment – gotta play to WIN!)

Described on the cover as the cookbook for “all things sweet and wonderful”, I’d have to agree. A forty dollar value and I don’t know how many pounds heavy, you’ll want to sit down with a cup of coffee and flip through this eye-pleaser thanks largely to award winning photographer and frequent Bon Appetit contributor Con Poulos.

This 50 second video from when the kids and I took it on a “test run” this past Thanksgiving holiday weekend will give you a good look at what you could win! (Did I mention 689 pages?) We poured over our new, easy to follow and pretty-to-look-at cookbook and picked three non-fussy recipe to make. [Read more…]

How to Find Meaningful AND Affordable Gifts

“Merry Christmas,” said the checker at the grocery store. Really? … and that was three weeks ago! And if I weren’t Practical Mommy, maybe I’d be freaking out a lot. But see, I try to keep my finger on all things cool, fun, new for kids and moms.

How? I have friends. Who own all the right stores! Like Molly at City Sprouts. Our kids are friends and she is totally in the know.

So when Great Day St. Louis asked me to share the inside scoop, this is what I brought:

[Read more…]

Holiday Gift Idea: Holding Hands

My sister, Carmen leaves soon (sniff!) and we’ve been thinking of what I can send for birthdays and Christmas. She agreed that the Holding Hands Bracelet is perfect for our grandmother.

Sterling Silver Holding Hands bangle

“Lola” turned 90 this year and has 13 grandchildren from her four kids! We decided on one bead each for the four of us sisters.

My mom and I share a birthday so I’m giving her one too. And our other sister, CC just had her first child and is just discovering the sisterhood of mommy-hood!

Thank goodness for Skype and Facebook, because even though she’s halfway around the world, we get to Hold Hands!

Eventually, the women in our family will each have one — a shared experience and yet, each will be unique too. Isn’t that so true of motherhood?

Ask me for strength and I will lend not only my hand, but also my heart.

~ Unknown ~

Every day, my bracelet reminds me of the women who give me strength.

My grandmother and two of her daughters. My mom (on the right) is pregnant with me in this picture!

Four sisters!

Four generations!

Lola's Holding Hands Bead, plus four!

Who are the women who hold your hands and heart?

How To Make Time for Your Dreams

I had the HAPPIEST night ever on Tuesday night. We had a GNO. Like in real life! Not to knock our online GNO’s but sometimes, a girl’s just gotta be able to share the real deal: real food, real wine, and real hugs. We had, what Danielle dubbed “The Fashion Haul of All Fashion Hauls” at dotdotdash.

But in the midst of all the shopping fun, which is well documented in pics and video footage, was a very heartfelt message for us moms.

Depending on your stage of life (or even your stage of motherhood), you may find yourself having to shelve the dreams you once had for yourself. But for Alyson, owner of dotdotdash, the dream didn’t go away. With three kids, ranging in age from 11 to two, a wonderful husband, and everything she could ever want, Alyson has the perfect life. Yet she wondered, “Why don’t I feel perfect inside?”

Alyson shares the internal dialogue that inspired her to start this sweet little storefront boutique tucked in a great St. Louis neighborhood. After waking up from the new mom fog she asked herself, “Do you still really want it? Then you need to take it.” So there.

The business that a few years ago meant boxes and boxes of shirts on her dining room table has grown steadily into what you see here… a line of soft, comfortable casual wear for busy moms who need easy-going clothes. Just to drive home the message that you don’t have to spend a fortune to feel great, Alyson gave us each $100 credit to put together a mix and match outfit. Of course, with Alyson as our personal shopper, who could go wrong?

Your dream might not be your own little shop of fill-in-the-blank-here. It might be, like Heidi Howe’s, recording an album. Or, writing a book. Whatever your dream is, give it some space and time in your life. I’ll say it yet again: how can we teach our children to pursue their dreams if we do not give ourselves permission to do the same?! If you didn’t catch what Alyson said… “You hope that they [your children] find their passion within.”

Full disclosure: Alyson Garland is a dear friend. Our kids are dear friends. And, she’s my personal dresser! *wink* And may be Zen Mommy’s from now on as well! If you watch our videos regularly, almost everything I wear is from her shop in Demun.

Stop by Dotdotdash and tell them MyMommyManual sent you over. You’ll get 15% off your purchase! Thank you, Alyson for sharing the love.

And take a look-see what Kelli and Melody and Suzanne and Danyelle took home at The Fashion Haul of All Fashion Hauls. Actually, Danielle is posting a full write-up with prices and such!

Love you, fabulous St. Louis Mamas! (more pics below)

Sign up! *wink* We’ll keep reminding you to take care of YOU and your dreams! [Read more…]

How To Transition Your Wardrobe Into Fall

With Labor Day behind us, we can officially look forward to fall.

This year, the holiday weekend was perfect in every way. In addition to the excellent company we kept, the weather was out of this world — low temp mornings, clear blue skies, no humidity. Anyone with a pulse was, undoubtedly, catapulted into a frenzy for fall by the cooler weather.

As of today, those summer dresses should be stowed away until next spring. It’s time to make room for fall! Even if the weather doesn’t cooperate for a few more weeks, you can certainly dress fall in color.

Need a little inspiration? [Read more…]

My Yoga Online

I love the Yoga lifestyle, obviously since I helped co-create Yoga Parenting. I am proud and happy to say that in the last few months I have recommitted myself to an actual yoga practice as much as possible. After I had my kids and then we moved, I couldn’t found a local studio with a class schedule that worked for me and then it just slid off the priority list.

I was saying this to my friend, Maggie when she quickly replied, “You know, there are classes online.” Wha?!

Well, there go ALL MY EXCUSES. So I found myself on MY YOGA ONLINE.

Check out my elaborate set-up. Impressive, no?

1) I can watch any time… and so can YOU from your laptop, interactive-enabled TV, and even from your frickin’ PHONE!!!!

2) The classes are anywhere from under 15 minutes to over an hour so on those days when I say to myself, “But I don’t have time.” My BS meter totally goes off.

3) I love that you can search by level, by length of class, by type of class, and by instructor. So @ZenMommy, they have Yin Yoga as well as Power Yoga, and Yoga at Work and even Prenatal Yoga for our busy expecting moms.

4) You can choose to stream or download all the videos.

5) I’m pretty frugal. I can’t find a good gym for $9.95/month.

Okay, now I’ll give you my cons: 1) nothing replaces going to a studio, having an instructor fine tuning your technique and also having the energy of other students around you.

*They know that too so when you sign in, Google Ads strategically gives you a list of yoga studios IN YOUR AREA!

So if you’re the type who has to go to the gym to workout versus the kind of person who can pop in a Tai Bo DVD, the same dynamic will apply for these videos.

2) I also tried Yoga Today (same pricing) and their classes are much more standardized. All the classes are 60ish minutes. I discovered that it was too easy for me to say, “I don’t really have a whole hour today.”

They also have a couple of venues for all their classes so you know you’ll be “going to” Jackson Hole or Sedona! 🙂 Not bad destinations. Whereas on My Yoga Online, each class is different. Some are outdoors, some indoors. This may bother you if you like consistency.

So My Yoga Online is my product pick of the week. Here’s the dollars and cents: you get UNLIMITED ACCESS to all streaming videos and 20% off all downloads.

$9.95/month or $89.95/year

Like Netflix for your wellbeing! I hope you’ll join me. We can compare notes… or, er… downward dogs!

I’ve spent more time on it since I wrote the first half of this review. Here are some features to note:

• Not only does it have yoga videos but you can download Yoga Music:

• There are also informative videos on back health and other related topics.

• It’s a full-blown yoga community with articles on respecting the the planet and living a healthy, balanced life, complete with recipes!

This may be my new favorite place, aside from MMM of course!

I’d love to connect with you on yoga. So when you try it, leave a comment below, will ya?

Our partners at My Yoga Online are offering My Mommy Manual fans a ONE YEAR SUBSCRIPTION!

So here’s the deal: TRY IT for a month. LEAVE A COMMENT here on what you like about it and we’ll pick a WINNER for the $89.95 MEMBERSHIP.

Yup, I signed up to be a My Yoga Online affiliate because I liked it enough to recommend it here.

When you see a BUY NOW button on a post, we identify our partnership with the merchant as our trusted partners. We only create relationships with suppliers we trust and for products we fully endorse. Always feel free to read our full Disclosure Policy.

How to Get Centered

In this VIDEO, we talk about getting centered and staying centered. Centeredness is a state of mind — that does not have to be linked to your external circumstances. Really!

We can use our mind-body connection to help keep us centered. Click to watch the video and find out how.

Centering is Lesson One of our eight-week online course. If you ready for parenting to be easier, more fun and less stressful, check out the Yoga Parenting course

How to Get Your Child to Open Up

“So Mom, do you want to play this game with me? You go first with the ‘I feel…’ part.”

“Okay…,” said distracted me to my eight-year-old daughter, who had been wanting to play a game. “I feel like eating ice cream.”

“I feel sad when my dad lies to me.”

Whoa. I stopped doing the dishes, while emptying the dishwasher, while making lunch, while cleaning off the counter, while changing the trash bag. We were playing a game, weren’t we?

Seeing the look on my face, my daughter said, ”Want me to read the instructions again?” And she continued without pause: “Talking about feelings hurts no one. If I say,’ I am angry,’ that doesn’t hurt you. If I say,’I am lonely,’ that lets you know me better. The secret is to start by saying, ’I think, I feel, I want.’ Ready Mom?”

I nodded.

But let me back up.

My daughter had gone to my desk in my pseudo-office in our living room. On it, she went to the *stack* of books (er…eight of them now) I am committed to doing reviews on. And she gravitated towards Liking Myself by Pat Palmer.

In case you are new to my single mom world, the summary is that her dad enjoys talking about me constantly when she is over there. It’s been almost seven years since my divorce and guess who was just in court again? Yes, me. This is one tumultuous divorce that keeps on giving.

“Okay mom, I’ll go again – but why don’t you come sit here with me? Ready?”

I nodded. Again.

And my little lovely says,” I want my mom to stop worrying about me.” Umm…okay? I can’t? I know you have it tough over there – so I’ll try not to? I pause for an eternity. [Read more…]