Thursday, March 31, 2011

Delicate Liimu

Why does it seem so hard to strike a balance of motherhood, work, exercise and time for myself? Since Max came along, I feel most days like all I want to do is snuggle him. Then there are other days where I have a burst of energy and I want to get back into exercising (I tried that, and now am back in pain...having to rest up again). Then there are days I'm wondering whether irons I have in the work fire are burning (and my wonderful clients tell me not to rush back, but to enjoy my maternity leave). So here I am, blogging while my daughter holds the baby and my other daughter asks if she can hold him next. All I really want to do is snuggle him. And since this time in our lives will be over in the blink of an eye, and this is our last child, I'm going to give in to that inclination as often as I can.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Children’s Etiquette - By Cara Potapshyn Meyers

My son is truly a good kid, inside and out. He has demonstrated these admirable qualities over his toddler, preschool and now elementary school years. However, I have been noticing that since the social mores of the school environment are slowly seeping into my son’s world, so are some less desirable traits. Because I know how good a person my son has the potential to be, I am working (and fighting) hard to instill some manners and overall good social habits into my son, so that he continues on the right path regardless of undesirable social and environmental influences.

I came upon an article in the March 2011 issue of Parents magazine that caught my eye. It was titled, “25 Manners Every Kid Needs By Age 9.” I felt that it was worth blogging about and reproducing (with permission from Parents magazine), because even the best parent can always use a little brushing up on their own etiquette skills from time to time! So here are the 25 most important manners:

1. When asking for something, say “Please.”

2. When receiving something,say “Thank you.”

3.  Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless there is an  emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking. 

4. If they don’t, you can always insert a polite, “Excuse me,” to capture their attention.

5. When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first. It can save  you from many hours of grief later.

6. The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults.

7. Do not comment on other’s physical characteristics unless, of course, it’s to compliment them, which is always welcome.

8. When people ask you how you are, tell them and then ask them how they are.

9. When you have spent time at a friend’s house (or a party), remember to thank his or her parents for having you as their guest and for the good time you had.

10. Knock on closed doors - and wait to see if there is a response - before entering.

11. When you make a phone call, introduce yourself first and then ask if you can speak with the person you are calling.

12. Say “thank you” for any gift you receive. In the age of e-mail, a handwritten thank-you note can have a powerful effect.

13. Never use foul language in front of adults. It’s rude and unnecessary.

14. Don’t call people mean names.

15. Do not make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing shows others you are weak, and ganging up on someone else is cruel.

16. Even if a play or an assembly is boring, sit through it quietly and pretend that you are interested. The performers and presenters are doing their best.

17. If you bump into somebody, immediately say, “Excuse Me.”

18. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.

19. As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else.

20. If you see a parent, teacher or neighbor working on something, ask if you can help. You just might learn something.

21. When an adult asks you for a favor, do it without grumbling and with a smile.

22. When someone helps you, say, “Thank you.” This is especially true with teachers.

23. Use eating utensils properly. If you are unsure, ask your parents to teach you or watch what other adults do.

24. Keep a napkin on your lap; Use it to wipe your mouth when necessary.

25. Don’t reach for things at the table; Ask them to have them passed.

It looks as if my son has quite a bit of work ahead of him! I will be posting this list in the kitchen and referring to it often! My son has many of the “basics” down, such as covering his nose and mouth when he coughs or sneezes. But the napkin on the lap rule definitely needs work. Plus, I am tired of looking at the right sleeve of his shirts, as I sort laundry, to see whether he used it as a napkin or not!

Even if the majority of these suggestions are implemented, you will have children who are pleasant to be around, no matter what the situation. And even more so, if you model these suggestions, your child will pick up these “habits” even more quickly! Try it! Together we can all make the world a nicer, happier place!

I would like to thank Parents magazine and the original author of this article, David Lowry, Ph.D., for allowing these suggestions to be circulated in order to reach as broad an audience as possible. Please use the web link to download a copy for yourself.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Raising Kids in NYC Part Two -- By Laura Houston

Last week I talked about the things that make Manhattan a great place to raise children. This week I want to talk about the things I find difficult for both children and parents. These points are based solely on what I believe to be good for kids. My kids. Not everyone’s kids.

1. The filth. It’s everywhere. Ubiquitous amounts of dog pooh and pee all over the sidewalks that collects on your shoes and the wheels of your stroller, the garbage that piles up after a snow storm, cigarette butts and gum and food and overflowing trash cans at every intersection. And trying to keep your kids from touching it or licking it is next to impossible. The other day I saw a kid licking the windows of the subway while his mom obliviously ate a big container of noodles. It was all I could do not to spray that kid’s tongue with my hand sanitizer pen.

2. The expense. Preschool? $19,000? Really? For one kid? For three hours a day? That’s more than I paid for graduate school. For $38,000 a year my boys better come out of that preschool farting mathematic equations and burping sonnets. I swear.

3. The weather. Oh. God. It’s almost April and it’s still only 25 degrees outside. The winters here are brutal. The city creates wind tunnels, and we happen to live in one. Some days I have to hold on to the stroller so tightly my shoulders hurt. Coming home the boys cry because of the stinging bite of the wind. I would look forward to the summers, but last July and August it was so brutally hot that when I picked them up out of the stroller they were nothing but wet, limp rags, and they didn’t want to play. I have no idea what the Dutch were thinking when they settled on this island.

4. The materialism. Yes. I know. It’s hard to believe one of the wealthiest cities in America could fall into the trap of possessions. The toddlers here wear designer sunglasses, shoes, coats and hats. So do the model-thin mothers who fend off age with secret creams and secret doctors. Everywhere you turn in Manhattan you see wealth and privilege. Please don’t tell me to move to Brooklyn or the Bronx or Queens. The hunger for wealth is still there. Hell, it’s all the way out to Jersey, Long Island, Connecticut and Westchester County. You have to move a long way from the city to avoid it.

5. The noise. What? Yeah. The noise. No. No. Not the boys. The noise. I SAID THE NOISE. I take it you can’t you hear me above the fire trucks, the ambulances, the police sirens, the honking of frustrated drivers, the traffic, and the airplanes overhead. Or the subway roaring past. Or the train that goes under the building behind us. This city is deafening. I worry what it does to my boys’ ears. I know what it does to my sanity and my sleep.

6. The inability to escape. Getting out of the city is challenging if you don’t have a car. And we don’t want to pay $500 a month to store our car. Instead we have to load up the stroller, catch a cab to the bus station, take a bus to Jersey, and two hours later spill out into Aunt Donna’s yard to load up the minivan. Then we get to drive through traffic. If you have no car at all, you can go by rail and stay close to the station, but make sure you leave your weekend early or you get stuck with all of the other thousands of people coming back to the city on Sunday night.

7. Not being able to see the sky. Buildings, buildings everywhere and only a sliver of sky in sight. True. You can see the moon between buildings when you cross at an intersection. A storm may be rolling in, but you wouldn’t know until it started raining because of the skyscrapers. After living here for almost 18 months, I have yet to see a sunrise in New York. I used to see them every day from my kitchen window. To see a sunset, I have to pack up the boys and the stroller, take an elevator down, wrestle the stroller out the door, across the street, down the sidewalk, under the Henry Hudson Parkway, down the ramp and to the park on the river. True. It is quite lovely, but more often than not I miss the sunset because of all of the schlepping necessary to capture the moment.

8. The lack of nature. This is another one that doesn’t need explaining. Central Park is great if you don’t mind sharing your peace with 400,000 other people and their dogs and their music and their kids.

Perhaps you think I am complaining. I know. I am. It is a privilege to live here. It is an experience I believe every American should have. Come see New York. Try to survive here. Get a feel for the city. Learn its impressive history. It will enlighten you. It will change you. It will make you grateful for that damn grass you have to mow every summer.

So do me a favor, if summer ever comes, please do this for me: some evening when you get home from work, remove your shoes, step out into the cool softness of the grass, wiggle your toes, and say, “ah.” Let your children roll around on your lawn without fear of them being stuck with a needle, or rolling on a broken piece of glass. Watch the sun go down, the moon rise, and the stars come out. That’s a simple and true happiness. That’s what I want for my boys. And you can’t find it in New York City.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dental Cares and Caries—by Jamie Levine

Good teeth are very important to me; I’d never date a guy who didn’t have a nice smile, and I’ve been blessed, myself, with a strong, healthy set of choppers. My dorky dentist effusively compliments me on my teeth and makes me feel like a supermodel when I come in for my bi-annual check-up. And while I admit to having a vice for sugar, I do try to keep most of my diet pretty healthy—as well as my daughter’s.

Jayda, like most kids her age, is a dessert-queen. She begs for ice cream before dinner, bases her excitement for birthday parties on the kind of cake that will be served, and cries for chocolate after a challenging day. And she does get her share of treats—but in moderation. I never serve her regular soda or juice, buy her single-serving packets of cookies, and take her out for low-fat frozen yogurt when she asks to go to the “ice cream store.” I’ve also been brushing her teeth carefully ever since she had any—as well as flossing them regularly for over the past year or so—and have been giving her a fluoride-treated vitamin for ages. Jayda visited the dentist for the first time when she turned two, and since then, has returned every six months for a check-up. So how is it that now—when she’s not even four-years-old—I’ve been informed that she has four cavities—and possibly more? It’s horrifying.

Several months ago, after our health insurance changed, I left my beloved pediatric dentist and took Jayda to a dental clinic, where our life-altering cavity-discovery was made. The dentist told me she clearly saw four cavities, but that x-rays would give her a better idea of how deep they were, and if there were any others emerging. The wait for another appointment was several months, and we returned recently to take Jayda’s x-rays and to potentially start filling the cavities. Things didn’t go well.

Jayda was a trooper—but she was uncomfortable with the way she had to fit the bite-wings in her mouth, and the dentist didn’t get the x-ray films she needed. They decided to proceed anyway and fill two minor cavities by giving Jayda nitrous oxide, which they told Jayda would smell like ice cream. After allowing her pick out the flavor (chocolate), they laid my child down on a table, and, as she held my hand—with tubes stuck in her nose—I tried to stay calm. So did she. Until the dentist started drilling. Despite the fact that the dentist had described all of her instruments to Jayda in kid-friendly terms, and had promised that nothing would hurt, the noise of the drill and its strong vibrations scared Jayda—and she started crying and screaming hysterically. Fortunately, the dentist stopped; she said she didn’t want Jayda to associate bad feelings with the dentist—which was exactly what I had been fearful of. So we set up yet another appointment to have all of Jayda’s cavities filled while she is under a sedative. It’s a seemingly reasonable solution—but it still worries me sick. And what worries me more is how on earth my daughter got all of these cavities…and how to make sure this problem doesn’t continue when her adult teeth come in.

I’ve tried to stop allowing Jayda to have lollypops, fruit snacks, and other overtly sweet/sugary treats, but it’s not easy. She doesn’t understand that I’m trying to protect her teeth…she only hears the fact that I’m denying her something she loves—and sometimes, something one of her friends or classmates is enjoying right next to her. And I’ve continued my brushing/flossing vigilance. But that’s probably not enough. Some kids never go to the dentist, eat candy like it’s going out of style, and suck sugary soda through straws all day long—and never get cavities. But my kid isn’t as lucky. And it’s awful…and even a little bit embarrassing for me. I'd like to blame it on genetics (and maybe I can, since I never did learn specifics about my sperm donor's teeth), but that won't make the problem go away. I just wish there was something—other than painful dentist visits—that would.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


The world famous Popovich Comedy Pet Theater is a family-oriented blend of the unique physical comedy, juggling, and balancing skills of internationally acclaimed award winner Gregory Popovich, and the extraordinary talents of his 30 performing pets. The show features 15 cats and 15 dogs, mice, and birds, all rescued from animal shelters across the country.  The show, which played for a long time in Las Vegas, is traveling, and we had the opportunity to see it at the Kupferberg Center at Queens College in Flushing, NY.

It was truly one of the most fun and engaging family shows I have yet to see.  And, at almost two hours, it was one of the longer kids shows, and we could have watched even more.  It was a total delight and so well-executed.  Popovich and his crew of animals and others performed with heart and humor.  You truly felt the animals were loved. 

Gregory Popovich, founder, supports animals rescue shelters across the country and has proudly partnered with HALO, The Humane Society Of Stanislaus County, and The Almost Home Humane to help raise awareness of rescuing homeless pets.

The show features such acts such as the Dog Classroom, the Amazing House cats, and the Animal Train. My son particularly liked the fire rescue scene.  And, even the videos shown were entertaining.  The acrobatics were impressive, and there was an appelaing chemistry between Popovich and his cast of agile performers. When asked how he trains animals for the show, Gregory explains, “Each animal has a special quirky thing they naturally like to do. I figure out what this trick or talent is, and then I just encourage them to do it in my show. When my pets are performing, they are showing off their favorite tricks!”

“I have actually nicknamed my show 'A Second Chance' because that is what my cats and dogs have been given, a second chance at life,” says Gregory.

The Popovich Comedy Pet Theater celebrates it's 15th year anniversary this year. The show has thrilled audiences in countries all over the world including France , Germany , Holland , Belgium , Israel , Chile , Colombia , Mexico , Venezuela , and Canada . Additionally, the show was performed in numerous US cities including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, and Miami. In May of 2006, the Popovich Comedy Pet Theater began performing in Las Vegas as an afternoon show at The Planet Hollywood.

For more information, visit  If you have the opportunity to see the show, run, don't walk, to get tickets.  You won't be sorry!

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GUEST BLOG POST: 86400 - Mothering on Purpose by Lavaille Lavette

Because you entered the sorority of motherhood later than most, you probably thought you understood how having a child would change your life. Yet whatever preconceived notions you had probably did not encompass all the alterations to your lifestyle that came with the arrival of your bundle of joy.

My “bundle” arrived several years ago in the form of my six-year-old brother who came to live with me. Not only did I have to confront the unique challenges of motherhood, but I also had to deal with the trauma of having a first grader who was already set in his ways. It was the perfect storm, and it engulfed me.

Whether your child arrived as a six pounder or first grader, chances are the old you soon went missing in action.

Motherhood can be all-consuming. By nature, it is a 24/7 occupation. Mothers new and old often share their testimonies of how they learn the true meaning of unconditional love by being there for their children each moment of each day. Another maternal experience is just as common but not as readily aired in public —the feeling that you are losing yourself to your role as mom.

The incredible amount of multi-tasking mothering requires is daunting if you stop to think about it, but we don’t pause for reflection. At dawn each day, we dive into our various roles: concierge, short-order cook, medic, caterer, chauffer, counselor, life coach, detective, mediator, psychologist, referee, meteorologist, personal assistant, defense attorney, proxy, CEO, CFO, CIO, judge, jury, and… you get the picture. Under the load of this abnormal job description we take for granted, it’s easy for us to get out of sync with our own personal calling, goals and desires.

Sure people say motherhood is one of the most rewarding of all professions, but you are still a unique being. You have, with skills and passions that extend beyond your role as mom—and that’s okay. When you connect with your purpose beyond parenthood, you can be a better parent.

How can you rediscover passions seemingly lost to the duties of motherhood? By managing your purpose, rather than managing your time. For years, life coaches have taught that to get the most out of each day, you have to manage your time better. Problem is, each day offers us only 86400 seconds, a finite number that not even “super moms” can change. Purpose, however, is infinite, expansive and dynamic. You have a better chance of being all you can be if you manage the limitless than you do if you manage the limited.

Purpose involves combining your passions, skills and talents with the unique call placed on your life. Purpose management, then, requires that you continually engage in activities relevant to fulfilling your purpose. It challenges you to use the precious gift of those 86400 seconds each day to live your passion, achieve your goals and become all you were created to be. While time management focuses on the quantity of activity, purpose management focuses on the quality. For the multi-tasking mom, anything that offers more bang for the buck is a worthy investment.

Here are three tips to help you rediscover your purpose by tapping into values mothers already have in abundance.

Purpose Management Value: Imagination
Imagination is our middle name. Moms apply it liberally – to get their children to complete their homework, to resolve disputes, to handle schedule interruptions and to juggle any number of other tasks. Imagination is the doorway to purpose because when we look at life through creative eyes, we can see hidden opportunities.. Imagination takes you places where your mind normally would dare not venture. Yet, in those places, you can discern your best self, your deepest passions and your reason for being. So, why not direct the power of imagination toward living and managing your purpose?

Tip One: Keep a “Purpose Vision Journal”
Dedicate 15 to 30 minutes each day to keeping a Purpose Vision Journal. Write a detailed description of the “you” that you want to rediscover. Add to this vision daily, supplementing your words with pictures and images that drive the point home. If you do it consistently, this simple exercise can be powerfully life altering.

Purpose Management Value: Dedication
Dedication is many things: dogged devotion to a purpose; delayed gratification for future accomplishments and a can-do spirit that will not allow you to quit. We are dedicated mothers, spouses, and employees, but often we fail to dedicate ourselves to our own well-being. Nothing is more damaging to our mind/body/spirit health than living “off purpose.” You have a responsibility to yourself—and those you love—to dedicate time to developing and living your passions.

Tip Two: Plan Your Work (Create Your Purpose Roadmap)
After you paint the vision of your purpose-filled life, list the steps you must take to bring your vision to fruition. It is said that a wish is a goal without a plan. You can do more than wish for a new reality; you can create one by planning your journey. Many people fail to take this simple step. Those who do, however, dramatically increase their chances of reconnecting to their purpose.

Purpose Management Value: Courage
It takes courage to be a mother, and so does living your purpose/passion. It might be frightening to admit you have a purpose beyond parenting. That’s why most mothers, at some point in their journey, feel a deep regret that they did not devote more time to living their own dreams. Not that you should abandon your motherly duties, but you must acknowledge that you are a multi-faceted human being.

Tip Three: Work Your Plan
As you continue to sharpen your vision and plan your work, your next step is to act on your goals. Empowered by your vision and armed with your plan, you can work your plan. As simple as it sounds, this is the step most people omit. Nothing happens unless you act.. The comforting thing is that the journey gets easier with each step, just as it did when your bundle of joy learned to walk.

If you follow these tips and apply these values, you will find new purpose and energy for the tasks of mothering and for the passions that drive you. You will be able to give more of yourself and get more out of your 86400 each day.
Lavaille Lavette has worked as a schoolteacher, school district administrator, speechwriter, international business development specialist, and radio host. Lavaille is cofounder of Every Child an Author, an organization on a mission to make every child in America a published author, one grade level at a time! ( As part of Lavaille’s 86400 Movement, “Making a Difference, Being the Difference,” she formed the 86400 Book Club for the homeless in partnership with The Bread of Life Ministry. The 86400 Book Club’s goal is to encourage men and women to read for enjoyment, enlightenment, and self-improvement.

Lavaille has served on the board of directors of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, Foxshire Foundation, the Just Help Foundation, and Aspiring Youth Foundation. Beyond her work in community engagement, nonprofit, and education spheres, she is also the creator and author of the children’s book series The Adventures of Roopster Roux. Lavaille’s previous book is with Grammy Award–winning singer Yolanda Adams, entitled Points of Power.

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

The New Car by Sharon O'Donnell

We have a new car in the family. Well, a used car, but it’s new to us. Our soon-to-be 17-year-old son, David, recently got his driver’s license after waiting four months past the time he was eligible to do so. He’s a junior in high school and plays basketball and baseball on the varsity teams, meaning he’s had so many consecutive practices in the afternoons, he never had time to go take the driving test. Until last week on a teacher work day.

All those practices also mean that we have had to take David and pick him up from lots of practices and games – not to mention other events. With all the extra time he spends at school, it made sense to get him a used car – one that would last him through the rest of high school and college, we hope. Safety was the number one priority when my husband and I were searching for good buys; the later model cars are the safest, but they are also the most expensive. David was happy to be getting a car and never expressed his desire to have a certain type of car – he wasn’t picky. We finally settled on a 2008 Ford Fusion, which we will pick up next week. It had the safety features, durability, and mileage that we wanted.

Based, however, on the condition David keeps his room in, I’m a bit skeptical about him keeping the cloth upholstery as clean as it should be. And I cringe to think about all the sunflower seeds (the preferred snack of baseball players evidently) and empty Gatorade bottles I might find in it after a few weeks. In addition to having David sign a contract about not texting, speeding, etc., I’ll have a talk with him about cleaning up the car. His friends don’t see his room, but they will see his car, so I think that fact alone might force him to keep the car clean.

We’ve had our family SUV since 2003 when we bought it to pull our camper. Now that we’ve sold the camper, we really don’t need such a gas guzzler, especially with gas prices being what they are today. So we’ve looked into trading that vehicle. But I don’t think we can just go with a sedan – the thought of having all 3 of my sons (the 6 foot 6 19-year-old, 6 foot 2 David, and our big 10-year-old) all sitting side-by-side in the back seat causes me to shudder. What stress-free family trips we would have then! Ha. Maybe we’ll have to go for a smaller SUV for my sanity.

Trading in our current SUV, an Expedition, means we will have to take it to one of those detailing places that vacuum and shampoo the inside of it. I’ve only taken it there one time before, and the memory remains with me. At this place, the manager inspected every vehicle after the car detail person had finished, ensuring customer satisfaction. I watched as the manager checked off vehicle after vehicle and moved on to the next one. When he came to our SUV, he said, “Hold on there,” before they gave me back the keys. “I think we need to do a little more work on this one.” The poor guy who had cleaned our SUV dropped his head. I was embarrassed for him and for me. After all, the manager didn’t see what our SUV had looked like when it first came in; there should be a before and after picture taken of each vehicle so he could see how much work had been done and the improvement that had been made. I told the manager that it looked fine to me, but he insisted on cleaning the seats one more time. I knew my guys were hard on car interiors, dating way back to when we used to have a van when Jason was a baby. When I took the van into the car wash, the guy said, and I quote, “Y’all been partying in here!!”

But there will be no partying in my son’s Ford Fusion. Right, David?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Discovering Fun by Robin Gorman Newman

Who knew?!

Seth had half a day from school due to parent teacher meetings, and I wasn't quite sure what to do with him.  Other than our typical routine of snack, downtime, homework, bath, etc., we had many more hours to fill together.

I decided I was going to take him to the library to pick out a mystery for his next school reading assignment. While he doesn't love to read, he does love animals, and this particular library branch is next to Petland.  So, we popped in to visit with the lizards, ferrets, frogs, turtles, a lone floppy-eared rabbit (super cute), and a multitude of varied birds, including one cockatiel that reminded us of our pet Smokey.  But, how long can you spend in a small pet store?! up was Associated, for a quick food shop and bottle/can return.  He loves helping me put them into the machine and standing by for the crunch noise.  Something about it pleases him.  We didn't have much on our shopping list this trip, but when we carted down the Produce aisle, I discovered a gem in the raw.  We passed a bin of scruffy-looking coconuts, and I asked Seth if he ever saw or touched a coconut?  He said, "no"  (I didn't think he had.).  I plopped one into his hands, and he was immediately intrigued with the texture and weight, and especially with the notion of coconut milk being inside.  What does that taste like", he wondered.

The coconut made it's way officially into our cart, and once in the car driving home, we had a strategic discussion re: how we were going to break it open back home.  Seth was SO up for the task. I loved watching his enthusiasm as the wheels turned in his mind.

He readily put his plan into action.  He dug out his hammer, a can opener, screwdriver, and went to work. Before I knew it, he poked a hole in the coconut, stuck a straw through it, and was sampling the milk.  Not his favorite beverage, but he thought it was cool.  He banged hard on the rest of the coconut, but nothing was happening.

The weather had finally turned a bit warmer and sunny here in NY, so I had an idea.  I put the coconut in three plastic supermarket bags, and invited Seth to go out into the street and whack the coconut against the driveway until it breaks.  He loved it, and it worked!

I thought...what a great way for a busy boy to expend some energy!  And, he got a kick out of tasting the coconut, though that really became secondary.  The thrill was in the process...and a "cheap" thrill at that.  The price was right....99 cents for a coconut....a bargain in the kids entertainment arena...and a good alternative to Toys R Us..

I now know that, on a dull day, a trip to the supermarket to pick up a coconut might be enough to engage Seth.  It's the simple, surprise pleasures and unexpected finds in unexpected places that sometimes create some of life's finest memories.  I won't soon forget the image of him striking the coconut bag against the ground and his delight in seeing it crumble into pieces.  It was priceless.  Associated is my new "go to" destination with Seth.

I'm wondering what else in the produce section might get his blood going?  Any suggestions?

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

He's Finally Here! by Liimu

Max Christian McGill was born on Monday, March 14 at 9:40 am, weighing in at 8 lbs 15 ounces and measuring 21.5 inches long. We were kept in the hospital until Friday, March 18, due to some jaundice issues, but now we are home and recovering nicely.

I know I probably was, but I honestly cannot remember ever being this in love. I can't stop kissing him all over his face, I love his cries, his coos, even his farty noises first thing in the morning. I'm having unbelievable troubles breastfeeding, but I'm struggling through because this is my last child (yep - I got my tubes tied) and I love the experience of breastfeeding. I don't want to miss my last opportunity. I'm seeing a lactation consultant, which is really helping a lot. Currently "pumping to heal" and seeing good results from that, so I'm very optimistic.

Overall, I am just beyond happy. My family is complete and healthy and happy and we are all in love with this baby, I'm back to eating healthy - not exercising yet, but excited to get started as soon as I get clearance from the midwife, on top of work and bills, just feeling really blessed and happy and so grateful for this unexpected blessing in our lives. To think, this time last year I had no idea he was even on the way. To this, this time last year we were struggling financially and I was all worried about how everything was going to turn out. It's a good thing I keep my mind open and my mindset positive. All things are possible and I believe that the best is yet to come.

I know this post is all over the place - sorry for that. I'll be sure to keep it more topical next time. I just wanted to let you guys know he was here and so am I!

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Money Matters - By Cara Potapshyn Meyers

It’s hard for children to grasp the concept that money has value. But once children are able to grasp the concept (like my 7 year old son does), you then have to help them to understand the next concept: Delayed gratification. The first concept is easy once children have their math skills down and they are able to make purchases on their own. The second concept can be a minefield.

Our son gets a weekly allowance for doing chores and other odds and ends. If he goes out of his way to volunteer to do something extra, such as helping to shovel snow when we had more than our fill to shovel, he was rewarded with extra money based on the amount of time and effort he put into it.

Last week my son had  $12 in his bank. We were going to go to a carnival and I agreed to pay for some of the games and events if my son agreed to bring some of his money to contribute as well. I suggested he bring only half of his money and save the rest. A power struggle was rearing its ugly head. My son demanded to bring all of his money. I strongly believe that consequences provide the best teaching lessons, so I shrugged my shoulders and said, “It’s your money to do what you want with,” and left it at that.

My son ended up using all of his money at the carnival, plus a generous $10 of my own contribution. He at least won some pets to take home: Four small goldfish. If we were to buy four goldfish it probably would have cost $10-$12 anyway, so I felt somewhat redeemed. And deep down inside I knew my son missed having his Betta fish. Betta fish require much more maintenance than simple goldfish, so I preferred having them to take care of. And since we had 2 unused tanks, and goldfish can be put together in the same tank, whereas with Betta fish, you can’t, my son was happy that his fish had a friend in each tank. So far (crossing my fingers), they seem to have adjusted nicely, are eating heartily, and seem to be happy in their new homes.

Fast forward to this past weekend. My son and I were sick, so we spent the day relaxing and watching some movies and television together. At one point, my son saw a new and exciting toy advertised on television. He asked me to go to the toy’s website on the computer. I obliged. He then announced that he wanted me to buy the toy for him. I asked him how much money he had. He realized that he only had a few dollars from this week’s allowance. Enter the minefield. My son begged and bargained for an advance on next week’s allowance. He pleaded to do extra chores, but I was too sick to first organize something for him to do and secondly, supervise his doing the chore to completion. I then calmly explained that I had suggested he leave some of his money at home the day we went to the carnival, but that he had insisted on bringing it all. My son became furious, ranting and raving about me being unfair to him. Again, I calmly said that he would be able to save up enough money in a week or two to buy the toy he wanted. He continued ranting that he didn’t want me to ever talk about money with him again and concluded his rant with ripping up the few dollars he had received as his allowance. Once again, I calmly said, “Unfortunately you now have less money to buy your toy. And when you calm down, you will have to pick up the money shreds and place them in the garbage.” Lesson learned...the hard way.

If I don’t let my son experience the frustration and disappointment of not getting what he wants exactly when he wants, he will never learn to defer gratification. He never will feel the satisfaction of saving up and buying something special that you really want. He will never realize the true value of money and how to manage his own money. I don’t care if he doesn’t want to speak to me temporarily. I don’t even care that he ripped his money into shreds (heck, I spend more than that on a Starbuck’s coffee!). What I do care about is that he eventually learns to value and respect money for it’s worth and it’s buying power. And the only way he is going to learn that is to experience disappointment firsthand. As for shredding money, we’ll have to work on his anger management skills next!

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Is NYC a Good Place to Raise Children? -- by Laura Houston

A few weeks back I had a conversation with my younger brother Joe who lives in a suburb of Kansas City—the same suburb where we were raised. During that conversation he mentioned he was surprised I had been willing to move to New York City last year with my eight-month old twins. His reason? New York is a terrible place to raise children.

He’s right and he isn’t. Ultimately it all boils down to what your values are as a parent, your resources, and your ability to find a healthy balance amidst it all. This week I am going to discuss why I like raising my boys here.

I did a lot of research before I so much as packed one box before the move, and what I discovered was that the city seemed completely geared for kids – especially the Upper West Side of Manhattan, which is where we ended up living. Here is my list:

  1. 1.) The resources. Within a half a mile radius of where we live there are more than 25 preschools, daycares, kid gyms, and playgrounds. The preschools are ranked some of the best in the world. Most of them are designed to get your child into a prep school. Almost all of them teach second languages.
  2. 2.) The diversity. At 20-months of age, my boys have played with kids from almost every nationality. Everywhere they go they see different races, different cultures, and hear different languages. As the global economy evolves, I believe having this exposure will be of great advantage to the children who are exposed to such variety.
  3. 3.) Central Park. Every weekend we head to Central Park. There the boys watch all kinds of dance performances, listen to live music, taste all kinds of good foods, and play with kids from China, Iran, Brazil, and Russia. The park is New York’s backyard, and it has an energy unlike any place I have been before. Amusements range from playing in a stream under a handmade bridge to watching Albanian acrobats do flips down the path.
  4. 4.) Discovery. In New York there are so many new things to find and learn about. It’s impossible to get bored in this city, which means teenagers here don’t hang out in shopping malls and 7-11 parking lots in order to further their social skills and satisfy their thirst for knowledge. Instead, they can cultivate enriching experiences in a city that offers endless opportunity for the imagination.
  5. 5.) The standard for excellence. Let’s face it -- New York is where you come to get your A-game on. There’s a reason they say if you can make it here you can make it anywhere. The bar here is set incredibly high for everything: business, art, music, food, entertainment, education and living. I want my kids exposed to this. I want them to know what happens when you decide to keep going and discover even more of what is possible by adhering to a standard of excellence – the very standard that made this city so vibrant and full of dreams.
  6. 6.) The awareness. New York City is not an easy place to live. You had better learn how to stick up for yourself or you’ll get taken advantage of. You learn to pay attention to your surroundings. You learn how to move from one place to another safely and efficiently. It’s a great skill to have in life. The 12-year olds who ride the subways to attend school possess a sophistication most college freshmen lack.

So there is my list of why this is a good place to raise kids. The Upper West Side is very family friendly and kid focused. I don’t buy into the preschool hubbub, but I do have my boys enrolled in play and language classes. They are taking Mandarin, and it’s affordable and accessible. The class is taught by a former pediatric oncologist from China. She speaks Chinese, Japanese and English, and you can’t ask for a better teacher. By the way, all of the kids in the class speak at least two languages except for my boys.

To make up for the lack of backyards, the city (and a few kid businesses) runs soccer, baseball, and softball programs all summer long all day long. And in my neighborhood there is a playground every five or six blocks, and these playgrounds are surrounded by ten-foot iron fences to keep your kids in and the creeps out. Recycled tires pad the jungle gyms, slides and swings. In the summer elaborate, creative fountains help mothers and kids alike keep their cool. Afterwards, you can pick up fresh snacks ranging from empanadas, dumplings, egg rolls, or a panino at the food carts on Broadway.

There are few places in the world where I can expose my kids to so much, and I have to say right now I am happy for them to have all of this. What about me? I am an outdoor person more than a city person, but I am making the most of it, too.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Gust Blog Post: Top Ten All Natural Menopause Solutions by Drs. Lovera and David Miller

Every day six thousand U.S. women have their final menstrual period. The permanent pausing of menstruation is termed menopause. It signals the end of fertility and the beginning of what we refer to as the UpSide. The average age of natural menopause is 51, plus or minus 10 years. Perimenopausal symptoms may begin ten years before menopause. The inordinate focus on menopause and hot flashes loses sight of the fact that menopause is linked with the onset of serious health matters such as cardiovascular disease, depression, osteoporosis, diminished sexual satisfaction, weight gain, and dementia. In a similar vein, there is often too much attention on cutting-edge prescription hormone therapy and on the myriad of OTC health food store miracle-products for menopause at the expense of self-directed solutions. Wife and husband physician authors Lovera Wolf Miller, MD and David C. Miller, MD are NAMS Certified Menopause Practitioners and their new book, WOMENOPAUSE: STOP PAUSING AND START LIVING, recommends controlling the symptoms of menopause by following the top ten all-natural tips as the bedrock of a menopause makeover.

1. Exercise like your life depended upon it. Thirty minutes daily is a good starting point. Exercise allays a multitude of menopausal problems. Exercise reduces the frequency and severity of hot flashes. It helps mood better than Prozac. It improves sleep better than Ambien. It improves sex better than KY. It provides more energy than a Starbucks double-tall-skinny-latte. Feel free to mix it up: walking, yoga, resistance training, biking, anything that gets you sweaty and tired.

2. Weigh less and live more. Notice that weight loss is not included in the exercise category because exercise does not really work for weight loss. Consuming fewer uncompensated calories is what results in weight loss. Even small changes over a period of time can make for good results. Over-weight women suffer from more hot flashes. Weigh yourself regularly and write it down. Shoot for a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or less. Weighing less reduces the risks for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Looking great and having a better self-image are an added bonus.

3. Shape your waist. There is something particularly dangerous about belly fat (the internal visceral fat), which deserves special attention. A waist greater than 35 inches (measured just above the belly button) is predictive of a condition termed the Metabolic Syndrome. It is a constellation of physiological problems that undermine the health of the cardiovascular system leading to heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and premature death. The fat around the waist is often very stubborn, but it can be reduced just like an artist makes a sculpture by chipping away little bits of stone day after day.

4. Eat only real food. Real food does not have a label on it. Real food has no marketing slogans or clip-out coupons. We can probably eat as much of it as we want. Real food reduces the risks of dying from heart attacks and strokes, the top two causes of death for American women. Real food containing protein, complex carbs, unsaturated fat, and fiber are less dense in calories than typical fast food-snack food-junk food. For maximum benefit, eat real food with real sized portions with real people having a real conversation, not while watching a “reality show”. It almost goes without saying; avoid putting any known toxin into your mouth (cigarettes, illicit drugs, excessive alcohol, and caffeine).

5. Eat menopause-busting super foods. Vitamin E may reduce bothersome hot flashes and occurs naturally in nuts, wheat germ, whole grains, vegetable oil, vegetables, and seeds. Vitamin C may reduce diabetes and breast cancer and can be found in citrus fruits, green vegetables, and tomatoes. Fish oils improve PMS, cardiac health, vaginal health, and help prevent dementia. It can be found, no joke, in fish. Flax seed oils are a reasonable alternative. Calcium helps prevent osteoporosis and is abundant in low fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. Vitamin D is important also in bone metabolism but also in many other cellular functions, and it may reduce, among other things, breast cancer and vaginal infections. The body makes vitamin D naturally through sun exposure to the skin, so go outside everyday for a walk. Other real foods contain nutrients that assist women with menopausal problems and make great choices for calorie intake reduction at the same time: broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, low fat cottage cheese, egg whites, and water. Follow the link for a delicious recipe for Lovee’s Hot Flash Patties:

6. Rehabilitate your sleep schedule. In spite of what you may have heard, adult women need 7-8 hours of sleep. Start by removing the computer and TV from the bedroom. Take control of your sleep environment. Expose yourself to bright light first thing in the morning and dim-down the lights in the evening. Save the bed for sleep and sex. Avoid all caffeinated beverages after 12 o’clock noon. Milk, yogurt, peanuts, and cheese encourage a good night’s rest.

7. Mind your mood. Find your way by helping someone else find theirs. Intentionally seeking rewarding opportunities may require some effort. Garlic, cauliflower, and celery contain vitamin B6 that improves the mood matters. For persistent problems get professional advice.
8. Reclaim your sex life. Vaginal dryness of menopause may cause discomfort during intercourse and may undermine a relationship in complicated ways. Vaginal dryness improves with daily olive oil application. Talk to your partner about sex. Reduce any barriers that have built up over time. Feel free to be the romantic one and set the stage.

9. Train your brain to relax. Deep breathing, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and prayer coax away the near perpetual stress response and promote health. There is no such thing as physical well-being in the absence of mental and spiritual well-being.

10. Say no to abuse. Five million acts of violence occur in the US each year resulting in substantial physical and emotional health consequences. Explore your options and find safety. Seek professional advice.

Dr. Lovera Wolf Miller received a B.A. with honors in biology from Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan and an M.D. from Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, California. After completion of a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Glendale Adventist Medical Center, Glendale, California; she became board certified and a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (F.A.C.O.G.). She went on to become qualified by the North American Menopause Society and is a NAMS Certified Menopause Practitioner (N.C.M.P.). Dr. Lovera Wolf Miller currently is president of health 4 her, a private medical practice focused on women’s midlife health and gynecology.  She lectures on topics related to menopause and healthy lifestyles, and she serves as a medical coordinator for Haitian Support Ministries.

Dr. David C. Miller received a B.A. in English from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana and a M.A. in physiology from University of California, Riverside, California. After doctoral work in neurophysiology at the Brain Research Institute, U.C.L.A., Los Angeles, California; he received an M.D. from Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, California. He completed a residency in anesthesiology at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa and obtained board certification by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, American Academy of Pain Medicine (D.A.B.P.M.), Fellow of Interventional Pain (F.I.P.P., D.A.B.I.P.P.). He also became certified as a NAMS certified menopause practitioner (N.C.M.P.).  Dr. David C. Miller is currently the medical director of Woodland Pain Center and serves as a medical coordinator for Haitian Support Ministries. 

Lovera and David met at a piano recital in the 5th grade. They have been married for 36 years and have two daughters.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

ROBIN'S SHOW RECOMMENDATION -- Ringling Bros.and Barnum and Bailey: Fully Charged

Don’t miss Fully Charged, the all-new surge of circus entertainment from Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey® where megawatts of thrills explode off of the arena floor with breathtaking dare-devilry, superhuman stunts and never-before-seen performances that energize Children Of All Ages!   Today, March 20th, is the last date in NY at the Nassau Coleseum, but the show is touring nationally, so you can check out to see if it's coming to your town. Both you, and your kids, will enjoy.

We had the opportunity to see it last night with friends, and everyone had a blast.  In fact, it's been years since my friends had gone to the circus, and they were so glad they joined us because they loved it and want to go again.

The most electrifying edition ever of Ringling Bros.® celebrates ‘performance power’ that boosts circus-goers’ excitement. The amazing acts, which can only be seen at The Greatest Show On Earth®, include Tabayara, a dynamic animal trainer whose rare ability to communicate with animals allows him to ride rearing stallions at a fully-charged gallop and orchestrate majestic four-ton Asian elephants in a symphony of dance. When he stands inside a cage, eye to eye with 12 ferocious tigers, Tabayara sees family where others see danger.  The animals were gorgeous!

You will feel the earth shake when the strongman duo of Dmitry and Ruslan, who are as wide as they are tall, enter the arena. The brawny twosome give the word ‘manpower’ a whole new meaning as they lift large, cumbersome telephone poles, which weigh up to half a ton, and twirl them above their heads while acrobats balance atop.  The acrobats were a sight to see!

The fearless Fernandez Brothers dial up the thrills as they perform daring feats of athleticism on the Twin Turbines of Steel, including extreme jumps and twists inside the moving wheels! Audiences will crackle with excitement as they watch Guillermo perform a 360-degree, flying-forward somersault, three stories in the air, a feat so difficult it has only been attempted by one other person in the 141-year history of Ringling Bros. The Human Fuse, Brian Miser, sets the arena sky ablaze as he rockets through the air from his self-made human crossbow. Don’t blink as he flashes across the sky in less than a second, and travels 80 feet at 65 miles per hour.  This was my son's favorite feat!

Ever wonder how many clowns it takes to change a light bulb? The hilarious hoopla continues to flow as the clowns from the world-famous Ringling Bros.® Clown Alley, charge up the audiences’ funny bones with silly antics and clownish comedy.

Tickets are available at, all arena box offices, Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 800-745-3000 or All seats are reserved.. For more info about Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey, visit

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

What Happens When Moms Have Vision? by Maureen Eich VanWalleghan

I want to take a moment and promote a film I think can have far reaching consequences for children in this country. Mother, Vicki Abeles has created a documentary, Race to Nowhere, that looks at our education system and the competitive culture it has spawned in the United States today. As a filmmaker, I am impressed with her work; as a mother, I am inspired by her drive and vision; as a educator, I am thankful for the discussion this film is generating across the country.

The website, is set up to facilitate grassroots screenings of this film, which had a theatrical release in September 2010. Through the screening tab one can find a screening in their state and also host a screening in their local area. Conceptually, it is the tupperware party concept writ large. What is so wonderfully inspiring about this moment for me, is how once again it is a mother who has taken a spotlight to an issue that needs addressing. And Ms. Abeles has gone one step further and created a forum for making it possible to show this film in just about any venue—it is possible for mothers to bring this film home. As is the case in Prescott, Arizona, where three mothers went to see Race to Nowhere in Flagstaff and then decided to bring the film to Prescott—the power of women connecting to women is still so underutilized, but here is a moment when this power is being unleashed.

For me, so much of the invisibility of motherhood is how devalued I have felt in the role as mother. As someone who was defined by a paycheck and my work life before I had children, the transition to motherhood, with its intangible rewards, was quite painful and difficult. When I see the force of Ms. Abeles work and vision, I am reminded that motherhood is not just about managing an individual’s family, but conceptually, it is also possible to manage a collective consciousness and help determine what is best for our society.

Sadly, “divide and conquer” is still the norm with regard to women in our culture. All the divisions that are set up and absorbed into our psyches—that let us define ourselves and decided on the “otherness” of those we chose to exclude—means that the real needs of mothers go unmet. To define all those needs now would be to distract from my true aim, which is to promote Race to Nowhere. But this film’s distribution model is one that truly taps into the notion that collectively mothers are a force for change.

I hope you’ll join me in watching the Race to Nowhere and even consider hosting it in your area. One mother can make a difference, especially when she invites us each to do what we do best: connect with other mothers and manage our family, in this case, the bigger family of our society.

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Weekend Getaway and Getting Older by Sharon O'Donnell

My husband and I are leaving today for a few days in Ft. Lauderdale, FL -- a welcome get away from an overwhelming schedule. It's rare we do this -- really rare. During 23 years of marriage and 19, 16, and 10 year-old-sons, this is only the fourth time we have gotten away by ourselves: our 10 year anniversary, which we celebrated in CA and a few weekends at the NC and SC coasts. And that's it. I'm now finished with the obligatory lists of things to do for my sons, and am headed to the airport. Yet, hitting the beach doesn't have that same appeal as it did to me when I was younger. Too many worries now about wrinkles and age spots. I usually sit by the pool with a towel over my head. Attractive, I'm sure.

Being a woman over 45 is tough, no doubt about it. Even more so when that woman is an older mom. It has gotten to the point that there are way too many things to do to myself at nighttime before going to bed – lotions, moisturizers, ointments, vitamins and such. Moms are so tired at night that there is no way they can take care of themselves the way they should; and, the older the mom, the more there is to take care of. It’s gotten to the point that I put off going to bed because I don’t feel like going through it all. And I haven’t even mentioned osteoporosis or pelvic floor problems – more things to look forward to. Or the M-word with hot flashes and new chemical imbalances.

Yes, when a woman reaches a certain age, she will notice inexplicable things about her body and face that change literally overnight. She will be trying on clothes in one of those dressing rooms with mirrors on all the walls providing kind of a 3-D experience and will start hyperventilating when she catches a glimpse of her knees which suddenly seem to have no shape to them at all. What happened to the dang kneecap? It seems to have turned into fold after fold of nothing but skin. She never thought she’d worry about her knees. But you don’t really appreciate them until they’re gone.

Which pretty much is life’s lesson about everything. It’s annoying to think about all the problems women have with aging and all the commercials on TV about all the things we need to fix them, while the main product targeted to aging men is for Viva Viagra. We endure the periods, we go through pregnancy and labor, and raising the kids and then just as there is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, we physically fall apart, while the men just keep revving their engines. I recall the day when I was 47 when my doctor informed me in a bit too cheerful of a voice, “Your uterus has dropped and is pressing on your bladder.” Uhmm . . . yeah, I could have told you that. I’ve been feeling like my insides are about to fall out for the past five years. “It’s those three boys you had,” she laughed. She then told me if it gets too bad, then I can have surgery. But what is considered ‘too bad”? I don’t want to have surgery if I don’t need to; I had back surgery several years ago and don’t want to have anything else unless it’s absolutely necessary. A lot of women feel the same way, and so there are a lot of us out there putting up with uncomfortable stuff like dropped uteruses. Or is that uteri? Anyway, some mind-boggling things happen to a woman’s ‘innards’ when she gets to be a certain age, especially if she’s had kids.

The constant bombardment of anti-aging products targeted to women is overwhelming and annoying; there is no way women should have to do this much stuff to themselves as they get older. With commercials and infomercials, advertisers pitch such products to us poor women 24 hours a day. I can’t turn on the TV without one of them coming on. Leave us the hell alone! We can’t possibly find the time or money to fix all the stuff the TV spokespeople say is wrong with us. We have lives, people! Not only are we seduced by ads for smoother skin and weight loss, now there are commercials for products that make our eyelashes grow longer. Are you kidding me? Why are women made to feel that every single part of their bodies have to be perfect?

Yet, I must admit those infomercials for miracle skin products have a certain appeal. I’m extremely skeptical at the start of these infomercials, but if I don’t turn the station fast enough, their outlandish claims and their celebrity spokespeople draw me right in, almost like they’re hypnotizing me. The more I listen, the easier it is to believe that -- yes -- the secret to erasing wrinkles really could be the juice of a rare melon discovered in a southern region of France.

Until then, I'll be the woman by the pool with the towel over her head.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dreaming Big by Robin Gorman Newman

Can childhood aspirations grow into adult passions?

Mine did.

I had the pleasure this week of taking a trip down memory lane, and it reminded me of the power of childhood dreams and how they can come true if they mean enough to us.

Seth's school is hosting a parent teach-in program, where parents are invited to participate in the classroom to share an expertise.  I enthusiastically seized the opportunity and volunteered to discuss how to write a book.  And, I invited my friend Puzzle Artist Alli to join me (she and Seth are close) to discuss her work as an artist.  We presented back-to-back, and I thought it was a winning combination.  The teachers agreed.

I have lectured a lot about my books, so speaking comes pretty naturally to me.  This was the first time, though, that I was to speak about my work as a writer.

I lecture best when it's off the cuff, so I didn't plan to write any notes.  I did stop by a store for kids that sells a lot of teaching supplies, and I picked up two posters on writing that I thought would be helpful and provide some talking points.  But, beyond that, my intention was to discuss my love of writing (and reading) as a child their age (8) and how it blossomed into my becoming a published author.  I brought along books I had written and illustrated as a child, read a couple of them to the class, and passed around others.

In deciding what to bring today, it brought back a floodgate of memories.  My parents, and I, had thankfully done a good job of saving books I'd written throughout the years, and they are invaluable treasures and lnks to my past.  To see how I expressed myself then and to take note of what I chose to write about is really intriguing.

It also made me recall the preciousness of childhood.  We all grow up so quickly.  And, back in my elementary school days, sure I had homework, but other than that, my thoughts were free to wander (without to do lists racing through my head), and creating stories was high on my list.  My ideas were never-ending because I gave myself permission to think out of the box, and it happened naturally.  It's really amazing how as kids we have the ability to do that, but once adulthood kicks in, and particularly parenting, and all that comes with it on a daily basis, we have to work to  find the time and space to get in touch with our thoughts (which we sometimes censor). 

It gave me immense pleasure to leave the children in my son's class with the message that anything is possible. If you want to be a writer, and you write as often as you can, then your dream of becoming an author is viable.

As adults, we need to hang on to that philosophy. We're never too old to dream big.and reinvent ourselves or rediscover dreams we had when we were young and take the steps to putting them into action.  No matter how old you are, it feels good to pursue your passions. 

And, I for one, want to be a positive role model for my son.  If he sees me feeling fulfilled and doing things (other than parenting) that are important to me, then he'll know that, while life is a juggling act, we deserve to be gratified.

So, other than your efforts to be a good parent, what do you actively pursue (or what would you aspire to accomplish or learn or explore) that feeds your soul?  If you can't readily the question, I invite you to think back to your childhood.  The answer may then readily present itself.

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MOTHER'S DAY TREATS & SAVINGS by Robin Gorman Newman

Periodically I like to share some finds I've come across, and this is my personal pick list, in plenty of time for Mother's Day. I am confident you will enjoy the following, as will others if you give them as gifts. Read on, and note the special offers....In my book, everyday should be Mother's Day, so why wait to shop?

HATLEY - Whimsical Sleepshirts and more
Hatley is a family-run company, who has been helping people get 'clothes to nature' with its cotton pajamas and loungewear for over twenty years.

Hatley’s apparel is covered in color and pun, using clever play on words and popular culture in addition to vibrant and original designs inspired by nature and wildlife.

For the bearly sleeping mum, slowpoke infant who is trailing a little behind or the energetic child looking for some puddle stomping fun, Hatley’s pajamas, loungewear and rain gear make cute and original gifts for holidays, occasions or just for fun…or maybe pun.

I am a Hatley devotee. Since discovering their whimsical one size fits all sleepshirts while on vacation a number of years ago, I can't wear anything else. They make me smile, and engage my husband or anyone else who sees them, in conversation.

Hatley sells apparel for kids and adults (including daywear, beachwear and footwear) and have a clever line of home goods, gifts and toys.

If you are an animal lover (or butterflies, roses, etc), or just want to sleep in fun comfort, check out Hatley....and have a chuckle. Buy a sleepshirt for your best girlfriend, mother, etc. It makes a statement!

Note: Save 20% on a sleep shirt for women or sleepset for a child with the code SLEEP20 if you order by 3/31. Click on the Hatley banner in this blog post to shop.

CAMILLIE BECKMAN - Delicious Hand Therapy Cremes and more
I can't say enough about this line of glycerine hand therapy cremes. Sold in specialty and gift shops, I scoop them up whenever I stumble on them. But, I recently learned that you can now shop online, and I'm thrilled.

I've been a fan for years after first sampling one in a gift shop in Vermont. Since then, I've been a loyal user and have tried a bunch of scents, and my personal pick is Oriental Spice, though they have many beauties to choose from such as Tuscan Honey, Gardenia Breeze and Secret Sea.

I travel with them (they come in varying sizes and forms), give them as gifts, and lavish them liberally on hands nightly before going to bed. It's my evening ritual. I make sure to never run out. My preference is the creme in the plastic pots (though the lotions are nice too).

They feel so smooth, rich, deliciously soothing, and smell amazing. I've tried other cremes, and in my book, Camille Beckman rocks! They also make foot, hair and lip care products, gift baskets and roll on perfumes.  Click on the banner to shop.

THE BLOOM NECKLACE - Special Piece of Jewelry
I like to think of this necklace as the Motherhood Later "Bloom" Pendant, since it immediately brought to mind, when I saw it, the name of our monthly e-zine Baby Bloomer. (If you don't already subscribe, you can sign up on

This special pendant, designed by Isabelle Grace Jewelry, is made of fine silver and 22 kit gold, and features the word "Mom" on one side and "You Make Me Bloom" on the other, along with a dangling freshwater pearl representing a seed that grows. Sold with a 16" or 18" chain, in either fine silver or gold-filled. A unique gift for yourself or a mother in your life. It's a real conversation piece, and something you can dress up or down. Email me if interested in purchasing. I get all kinds of comments when I wear this pendant, and you will too.

Note:  Be the first to purchase a pendant in the month of March, and receive a voucher for four (4) free tix to see the popular Off-Broadway family musical FRECKLEFACE STRAWBERRY

TINY PRINTS - Personalized Stationery and more
We ordered our holiday cards this year from Tiny Prints, and we got so many compliments on the card (even more than past years). Since then, I've been surfing around their site, and they have the cutest stationary pickings in general.

Cards, announcements, labels, stationery, notebooks, gift tags, stickers, etc., Tiny Prints offers one stop shopping in the paper products arena. I love all the designs and styles you can choose from, and the card stock is good quality. There is something to be said for sending a pretty personalized note to a friend, so, if you're looking for a special gift, perhaps make up some note cards with a friend's name on them. You can also do it with photos. And, make cards up for your child. We use them for my son as thank you notes and birthday notes he can give to friends.

I love this site, and am pleased to no longer feel the need to surf the web to find our holiday cards. I know I'll be shopping at Tiny Prints.

Note: Save 10% On Tiny Prints Orders $49+ (Code AFF1105). Click on the banner above to shop.

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