Friday, December 30, 2011

ROBIN'S PICKS AND GIVEAWAYS: Snack Good, Smell Good, Play Good

Periodically when I stumble on something cool/new, I like to share. So, check out the following:

When you take a stroll down the chip and pretzel aisle at your local supermarket, you might think you are making a healthier choice by choosing baked chips, but cooked chips of any type are not the best option any more. The latest trend in chips is eating them raw to gain the most nutritional value.  

Flavored with garlic and vegan cheese, the “Vampire Killer – Brad’s Raw Leafy Kale” chips are not your average pieces of baked kale that you would make at home in your oven with a little olive oil and salt. These kale chips take health food to a whole new level, completely eliminating the cooking process altogether. Instead, the kale is mixed with a seasoning containing ground and dehydrated garlic, red bell pepper, cashews, sunflower seeds, lemon juice and scallions, and then the pieces of kale are also dehydrated creating a crispy and delicious snack. By not baking or frying the chips, all of the vegetable’s nutritional elements are left intact, and you receive the benefits of eating raw foods because the naturally occurring enzymes and vitamins found in kale are not destroyed by heat.

One serving of  Brad’s Raw Leafy Kale chips contains 140 calories, 6 grams of protein, 139% of the daily recommended value of vitamin A, 129% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C, 11% of the daily recommended value of iron and 8% of the daily recommended value of calcium.

About Brad’s Raw Foods
Brad's Raw Foods is the home of The World's Healthiest Chip.  Over 4 years ago, founder and creator, Brad Gruno made significant changes in his life and discovered the health benefits of eating raw.  Despite the benefits of the raw diet, one thing he really missed was the crunch of a good snack. Brad began making raw chips in his kitchen to satisfy that craving.  Now, he is happy to be able to share his snack with others. For more information please visit
SHINE by Heidi Klum
Shine by Heidi Klum: An effervescent floral oriental fusion, Shine perfectly reflects Heidi’s sparkling vivacity and soft sensuality.  The elegant fragrance opens with fresh, juicy notes of mandarin and pear, enhanced with spicy pink peppercorn to invigorate the senses. This melts into a beautifully feminine bouquet of exquisite mimosa absolute, lily-of-the-valley and sunflower, exuding a delicious joie-de-vivre.  At its base, warm notes of vanilla, tonka bean and musk create seductive, sensual undertones, making this fragrance wonderfully addictive.   

Shine by Heidi Klum ranges in price from $14.99 to $35.
Note: If you'd like to be entered to win a free sample of SHINE, post a comment on this blog by 1/4 and indicate why you'd like to try it and include email address. One lucky winner will be chosen and notified via email.

The award-winning Brainstring Advanced from Recent Toys is perfect for hours of unplugged entertainment during the cold winter months! Trying to figure out this challenging brain teaser will stretch your puzzle-solving skills to the next level. Touted as the "Rubik's cube of the next generation," the Brainstring Advanced makes a unique  gift for those ages 8 and up! $16.99  Learn more at  My son and I had a good time playing with this.   Makes for a fun travel and dining out toy.

NOTE: Thanks to the above companies for providing product samples.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dear Liimu

I think I've figured out why my weight loss has been so slow going. I'm enmeshed in a toxic relationship that is undermining all my best efforts. No, it's not with my husband, or my trainer, or anyone from my family of origin.

It's with sugar.

Sugar and I have had an ongoing love affair for many, many years now - since as far back as I can remember, really. As a child, breakfast was Cookie Crisp cereal, lunch was peanut butter and fluff sandwiches followed by a marshmallow scooter pie for dessert. I couldn't go to sleep without a kiss from my mom and bedtime snack, which was usually a heaping bowl of ice cream. Every birthday was celebrated with cake and ice cream. Boo boos were made better with a lollipop. Holidays were marked with tables heaping with sugary treats and stockings bulging with candy. One year, my sister and I even gave each other our own stockings so our sugar high could last twice as long.

Six years ago, I realized that sugar had a nasty hold on me when I found myself losing the train of conversation as my own thoughts drifted to whether I could grab another bowl of ice cream without anyone commenting. The struggle to moderate only led me to late night binges on anything I could get my hands on, even if the only thing I had in the house was sugar-free ice cream sweetened with chemicals that left me with a terrible stomachache, a nauseating chemical aftertaste, and a mortifying flatulence problem.

I managed to give up sugar in favor of natural sweeteners for several years, but picked it up again during my last pregnancy. It's no coincidence that nine months post-partum, I still haven't lost many pounds beyond what I lost in the first few weeks after I left the hospital. It's time to admit that my love affair with sugar is what's keeping me apart from my beautiful pre-pregnancy body (see photo at right, if I do say so myself).

So, it's time to write the goodbye letter. The other day I was exercising with my 9-year old and she asked me why my dear friend, who had a baby 5 months after I did, has already returned to her pre-pregnancy weight. I told her it was because she worked really hard and gave up treats for a few months. She said, "Why don't you do that?" And I said, "I'm going to. I'm going to give up sugar for awhile. In fact, I'm going to write it a nice goodbye letter." "Really, mommy?" she giggled. "Yes, really."

So here it is.

Dear Sugar,

I suppose this won't really come as much surprise, since what we've had hasn't really ever been good and we're both much happier when we're apart. Well, maybe it will come as a surprise to you - after all, we've been keeping up appearances of being happy together over the past year or so. But the truth is, Sugar, this just isn't working for me. I'm not happy. It's not you - it's me. I know you'll make someone else very happy, but I just lose myself when I have you in my life. I get so consumed by you - thinking about when we can be together, and howI can prolong our time together, and how I can make it work when it really doesn't feel healthy. I try so hard not to admit the inevitable fact - that I'm really unable to resist you and that loving you is keeping me from doing the things I really want to do in life - like run faster and more often and strut my sexy stuff all over the stage and maybe most important of all, have great sex with my husband. You're just dragging me down and I've got to let you go.

I'll think of you often, I'm sure, and I might even write you again to let you know how I'm doing. But please stay away from me and know that once we make this break, I intend to keep my distance from you as well. I will have lots of support, and will be surrounding myself with people and things that are healthy for me, to make the transition easier. I will always love you, but I love myself more.

Take care,


So, there it is. A new chapter - I'm optimistic. I can do this. I've survived more difficult breakups than this one. And others before me have released sugar from their lives and lived to tell the tale. If they can do it, so can I.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Twas the Night Before Christmas - by Cara Potapshyn Meyers

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, 
Except for myself.
My child was sleeping, all snug in his bed.
While visions of Nintendo games, flew through his head.

Only I heard the sound of reindeer hooves clatter,
Which made me sigh, "Now what's the matter?"
With ribbon and gift wrap still clutched in my hand,
I descended the stairs, and saw the old man.

He was covered with ashes and plenty of soot, 
Which fell with a shrug, all underfoot.
"Oh great," I muttered, "Now I have to clean the rug too."
"Ho-ho-ho!" cried Santa, "I'm glad you're awake."
"Your gift was especially difficult to make."

"Thanks, Santa, but all I want is some time alone."
"Exactly!" he chuckled, "I've made you a clone."
"A clone?" I asked, "What good is that?
Run along, Santa, I've no time for chit-chat."

She was my twin. Same hair, same eyes.
Same look of chagrin, same gaze of surprise.
"She'll cook, she'll dust, she'll mop every mess.
You relax, take it easy, read a book, go to bed."
"Fantastic!" I cheered. 
"My dream come true!
"I'll internet shop. I'll read. I'll sleep the whole night through! "
From the room above, my son began to fret.
"Mommy?! I’m Santa here yet?"
The clone replied, "I'm coming, sweetheart."
"Hey," I smiled, "She knows her part."
The clone went to comfort my son with a tune.
"You’re the best Mommy ever. " I heard my son swoon.
“I really love you." The clone smiled and sighed, 
"I love you, too," my sweet son replied.
I frowned and I said, "Sorry, Santa, no deal. "
“That's my child's love, she's trying to steal."
Smiling wisely Santa said, "To me it is clear, "
Only one loving mother, is needed here."
I kissed my child, and tucked him into bed.
"Thank you, Santa, for clearing my head.
I sometimes forget, it won't be very long,
When he'll be too old, for my cradle-song."
The clock on the mantle began to chime.
Santa said to the clone, "It works every time."
With the clone by his side, Santa merrily said, "Merry Christmas to all!”
To me he whispered, “And to you, a good night!”
We wish all our readers a very Happy New Year!!

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Santa Was Here — by Margaret Hart

Santa definitely made it to our house this Christmas, and thank goodness my son was on the jolly old man's "nice" list.  On Christmas morning, most of the items on the Christmas list were under the tree, with a few exceptions.  Santa had taken a bite out of one of the candy cane sugar cookies left on a plate for him on a table next to the sofa. The stockings were filled with odds and ends, and the tree was still standing (after having fallen twice, breaking some of my most favorite ornaments!). So all in all, Christmas was a success for a certain seven-year-old. 
But it was a success for many more reasons that my son is still too young to fully appreciate. He, and my husband and I, got to spend five days together with my parents and my younger sister.  My parents are in their 70s now, and thankfully still in good health.  But as I get older, they get older.  Over the years, as I have matured, I have understood  more than ever the blessings of family and have appreciated them so much more than I did when I was younger. I have made it a priority to spend as much time with them and to share as many milestones with them as possible—especially since my son was born.
We all couldn't wait for my family to arrive. I had rushed around for weeks, stressing out, getting everything ready.  I was still preparing just a few hours before they arrived. But when they walked in the door, I finally sat down, and felt a sense of calm.  My husband took several days off from work, and my son was off from school, so we had the chance to spend some real quality time together.
Like many families celebrating the holidays, ours involved a lot of food, special treats, and traditions. We started off celebrating my sister's birthday.  She loves the singer Lady Gaga, so I had fun cupcakes made for her by a friend of mine who owns a bakery. Take a look.  They were a huge hit.  

Every Christmas we also have a tradition of going out for a family dinner to celebrate several occasions:  my sister's birthday (December 22), my parents anniversary (December 26) and my birthday (January 11). When my son was born, we added his birthday to the list (December 2).  I also cooked special Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners, and made our family Trifle for dessert. My mother is Scottish, and so is the recipe for Trifle.
This Christmas we started a new tradition of dining on china passed down from my husband's great, great grandmother. He told us stories of eating holiday meals on the china at his grandmother's house when he was a small boy. It was an emotional day for him because he inherited the china from his parents, both of whom passed away recently.
As one day turned into the next, and I could finally see the back of my refrigerator, I realized the visit was coming to a close.  On the last afternoon, as my son sat on the sofa next to my father— a seven-year-old teaching a 76-year-old how to play Super Mario Brothers Wii—I saw pure joy on both of their faces.  I looked at them and I knew that this Christmas had been a huge success. 
It didn't matter that I hadn't baked a gazillion cookies.  It was okay that Santa didn't bring everything on the list. (My son never complained.)  What mattered was that we were spending time together, that my son was getting the chance to enjoy his grandparents, and that we were making memories.  In that moment, all the stress of the season just melted away. And I wished that I could freeze that moment in time. I hope that one day my son will talk about this holiday with fond memories, and that he will remember not only the gifts that he received, but also the funny, joyful and memorable experiences with his family. 
May the New Year bring all good things to you and your families.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

The Grass Is Always Greener…—by Jamie Levine

My daughter and I are Jewish, and have been celebrating Hanukkah together since last Tuesday night; Jayda loves getting eight presents—one on each night—but I think she still has a little Christmas envy. Kids at her school constantly talk about Santa, and she loves driving around our neighborhood and looking at all the Christmas lights and Christmas trees adorning the houses. Commercially, in our culture, everything seems to revolve around Christmas, so who can blame her? But one thing I didn’t realize until recently is that a lot of Jayda’s non-Jewish friends have Hanukkah envy.

I laughed quite hard when a woman, whose daughter is one of Jayda’s closest friends, told me that her daughter keeps whining to her, “why can’t we be Jewish?” This woman then insinuated that her daughter would love to celebrate Hanukkah with me and Jayda, so I invited them to our house on the last night of the holiday for a little Hanukkah party. When I told this story to another non-Jewish friend (whose daughter is Jayda’s best bud), she told me her daughter felt the same way—so I invited them over, too. The kids are beyond thrilled.

I guess their reactions shouldn’t surprise me: We always want what we don’t have—and our kids are no different than us. For instance, Jayda has the most gorgeous curly hair—golden blonde ringlets that cascade down her back—and it’s the envy of everyone who meets her. But at only four-and-a-half, she already declares that she hates it, and constantly wishes out loud that her hair was straight like mine. And since I, personally, spent money perming my own hair when I was a teenager, Jayda’s feelings don’t shock me: The grass is always greener on the other side. In fact, lately, I find myself thinking that quite often.

As a single mom who is “out there” dating a lot these days, I yearn for a night of just curling up on the couch with a guy with whom I’m intimately comfortable, watching TV together, and then going to bed. But, of course, my married friends who are used to spending tons of uneventful Saturday evenings at home with their spouses enviously ask me about every date that I go on; they get excited over the prospect of me getting dressed up to go to a new restaurant for dinner with a new guy. It seems exciting to them…but they have no idea. I’d much rather have the comfort of their relationships than my own prospect of meeting new men all the time. I want what I don’t have…as do they.

So what’s the solution? It’s easy to preach to others that we should appreciate what we have…but it's not always easy to take such advice. And while I do appreciate many of the great things about my life—my family, friends, my daughter, and the fact that I smile a lot more than many people I know—I can’t help but pine away for some of the things that I’m lacking. I think that’s normal…and it’s never going to change. And maybe someday when I find myself part of an old, "boring" married couple spending Saturday nights on the couch, I’ll find myself yearning for my days of being a singleton. But then again, maybe not. More than likely, not.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Launch A Business, Launch Yourself...BOOK REVIEW by Maureen VanWalleghan

This morning I kept thinking about the perfect gift and considering this book review. What could I write in cacophony of the Christmas season and the run up to this day? How to describe an excellent book and why one should buy it? Frankly, I have been stuck, but this morning when I thought that my perfect gift was my happy daughter playing with a new toy and my husband’s nose buried in a new book, I was reminded that time spent with family is the perfect gift.

And so in the quiet moment as I picked up wrapping paper, I realized what is so unique about Mom, Incorporated (A Guide to Business + Baby) by Aliza Sherman and Danielle Elliott Smith was how time with family—the control and management of it—is so carefully considered for mothers who want to create a business...a business that makes money and meshes into the life of motherhood.

No less time is spent as a mother working from home in a business she has created than working for a company, but the glaring difference is autonomy. The autonomy to prioritize one’s own time—particularly time spent with family, in the service and care of children. What is so helpful, is that the authors, who are both mothers and their experience, along with the other successful business owners interviewed in the book, who are also mothers is so spot on about how to actually manage work and motherhood. What is given isn’t a perfect formula, but rather realistic a plan that is borne from the fires of personal mistakes.

What I have loved about Mom, Incorporated is that Sherman and Smith are like a cheerleading section in considering, creating and then running a business. Experienced entrepreneurs themselves they set out to create an “aha” moment for their readers—mothers of all varieties—and they do so over and over again.

The first place that happened for me was right in Chapter 1: What Kind of Business Will You Grow? Sherman and Smith interview Carol Roth, a business advisor and they help the reader consider the difference between a “jobbie” or a hobby. Is one’s potential business endeavor “me-centric” or “customer-centric?” Wow, how many failed businesses needed to consider this issue. And here is what is so compelling about the book, the authors aren’t giving a lecture, they are teaching a seminar: through worksheets and questions—one should start a journal with this book—the authors guide the reader in the day dreaming phase of creating a business all the way through to promoting a business and everything in between from lawyers and accountants to insurance and work space—each topic is considered with enthusiastic realism.

There is such a wealth of information and insight captured in this book that it is hard to do it justice in a book review. Buy it. Read it. Through out the book Sherman and Smith have a writing style that is inviting for any mother (or potential entrepreneur), which champions the underdog self that is riddled with doubts. Reading each and every chapter, which I did, the reader can see how to build long range success into a solid business venture that makes money.

I have been a business owner myself, both running a design studio and an art gallery in New York City. I learned a tremendous amount and made a lot of mistakes in doing both those endeavors and so it is through the lens of those experiences that I read Mom, Incorporated. Also I am considering starting another business with my husband over the next year. At the end of each chapter I would think of someone who I thought would really benefit from reading this book. Frankly, this is the best “how to” business book for EVERYONE...even child-free individuals could also use this kind of cheerleading. Many potential business owners could be shepherded toward a long-term successful business since a stable foundation is so beautifully mapped out step by step.

So, during this quiet week between Christmas and the New Year let the little whisperings that beckon for change find fruition: buy this inspirational book—Mom, Incorporated (A Guide to Business + Baby) by Aliza Sherman and Danielle Elliott Smith—and start yourself on the road toward making a personal dream come true. What a gift this book can be. You can have great success with excellent professionals guiding your way. Start that business and become the entrepreneur you were meant to be.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Late Christmas cards and playing Santa by Sharon O'Donnell

I missed my deadline earlier on Saturday because I was in the midst of trying to get our Christmas card photo done so that by the time we send them out, they will only be three days late instead of four. Such is life. It's so difficult to get all 3 boys together for a photo with one in college and one busy with high school basketball. But we finally did it on Friday -- we took some photos for the card of the 3 boys and our dog -- only to find that the pics came out too dark. So today (Saturday) we went back to the drawing board and tried to take it out on the porch. For some reason, the guys' either had really fake smiles or their eyes were half closed -- maybe too much sunshine to squint into. So we moved inside and finally got a decent shot. They'll go in the mail the day after Christmas but hey, the card does say Merry Christmas and happy holidays so technically, it won't really be late until after New Year's, right?

And here I am up at 2 in the morning on Christmas because I've finally gotten everything done: presents wrapped, stockings stuffed, cooking done -- but I can't go to sleep. Every year, I find myself reflecting at this quiet time about how the many other Christmas nights of playing Santa and how I so treasure those times when the boys were small. Yes, I thought I would go stark-raving mad if I had to wrap another Power Rangers toy, but oddly now, I have a soft spot in my heart for them. At church tonight at the Christmas Eve service, I couldn't help but look at my 20 year old and then my 17 year old and think 'wow, life is going to change for all of us as they grow up and move away' and I thought to myself, "Savor this time, remember it, memorize it," which all made it somewhat bittersweet. I've told my son who is a senior in high school that all changes -- even good ones -- have an element of sadness too and that it's human nature to feel that way because time can't stand still. But at the same time, you don't want it too -- not really. You want your children to grow up and experience everything their adult lives have to offer - that's the way it's meant to be -- but it will always be tough for parents -- especially moms -- to deal with. I was telling my son this because as college gets nearer, I sense some fear of change in him. I'm not sure some times if my analogies work or not.

Better go to bed now. Christmas mornings are tough with age gap kids because the older teen-age ones want to sleep late even though it's Christmas, while the younger ones like my 11 year old still like to get up at the crack of dawn to see what Santa brought. Excited little boys don't want to wait for their older brothers to wake up, and the older boys are like zombies when awakened too early, so it is always hard to time everything. But I think I'm with the older guys on this one.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Sleepover by Robin Gorman Newman

My son had his first sleepover at a friend's house. 

While he embraced it, I got a quick dose of empty nest syndrome, and it caught me by surprise.

I didn't think that one night away would inspire such introspective thinking, but it did.

I've long joked about Seth being 8 going on 18, but knowing he was out of the house made that thought seem all the more real.  And, the more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that before I know it, he will be out of the house.  First to hang with his friends who he chooses over his parents...and then for good when he's able to stand on his own, two, lanky, independent Skecher's-clad feet.

No more will he run into my bedroom in the morning screaming "mommy, mommy"....jumping on my bed in glee to give me a hug.  No more will I have to trail behind him picking up streams of toys, underwear, food crumbs, Game Boy games, etc.  No more will I have to remind him endlessly to pee in the toilet versus all over the seat.  No more will I have to coax him into the bathtub using Mr. Bubble.  No more will I watch as the school bus comes and goes with him on it.  No more will I feel challenged to cook a meal that he'll eat with delight.  No more will he curl up his 55 lb. body on my lap as I sit at my laptop in my office.

Raising a child is hard work.  At times it feels thankless and exasperating.  But, I know it's not forever, though he'll always be my son, and his welfare will remain utmost in my mind.

Life is full of phases, and sometimes while we're in them, they appear to move slowly when in reality they fly by.  I find this especially true if I'm enjoying something.  In the blink of an eye, it's over.  Whereas if something is difficult or painstaking, I tell myself, "and this too shall pass," but I don't like to wish time away either...and you never know what is coming around the corner.  So, I try my best to stay in the moment, but we all have our moments that we want to end.

I don't want my son's youth to end.  He's already a big boy, and when I peruse some of his smaller size clothing and toys that I've saved, it feels a bit melancholy.

I know that more sleepovers will follow.  One day at our house as well, which will be a unique experience...having someone else's child sleep here. 

Nothing prepares you for parenthood, and nothing prepares you for the quiet when your child isn't at home.

There are times when I relish the quiet, when my son is at school.  But, then I know he will be walking in the door.

One day, his presence will feel more like that of a visitor.  As he matures, we are working more and more toward that. So, for today, I'm gonna take all the delicious hugs and kisses from Seth that come my way, and deliver them lovingly and generously in return.  There's no time like the present.   And, there's no better holiday present than my son's impish smile, and the pride I take in witnessing his development.

Here's wishing you and your family a wonderful, happy and healthy holiday and new year!! 
If you're on Twitter and a fan of this blog, follow us at @rgnewman.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Staying Healthy and Sane Through the Liimu

Crazy, crazy week.

Saturday night, my children had a Christmas concert for which they've been preparing all year. Sunday, they had their church play and Sunday afternoon, a surprise 40th birthday party for a dear old friend of mine (an hour away from our house).

Needless to say, there was quite a bit of food at these functions. I am proud to say that I didn't eat hardly any of it! I cannot say the same for the food I baked to bring to these functions. I must have eaten a dozen brownies and another dozen chocolate chip cookies over the course of the weekend.

So by Monday, I felt ... gross. I managed to eke out a couple of the amazing 4-minute workouts my new trainer developed for me (accompanied by my kids, which made it even more amazing). On Tuesday, I was feeling slightly better, but still not 100%, I guess, because my trainer asked me if I was sad. Not sad, just feeling gross, I told her. She promptly reminded me that I need to just move forward and focus on my accomplishments, not my failures. Miraculously, I was able to take her advice. I also was able to internalize my sister's advice, when she told me to focus on how strong I'm getting, rather than how much weight I feel like I still have to lose.

Perhaps the greatest miracle of all is that I am managing to stay willing to do my best even in the height of the holiday season. Sunday is Christmas, and I'm bringing a Whole Foods feast to my mother-in-law's house. I also have a plan for working out nearly every day between now and New Years (though tomorrow's plan was thwarted by an all-day meeting hours away from my house).

And then it will be January - and we will seriously ramp this weight-loss party up to a whole new level. (And I will have a whole new format for you, to boot, complete with regular pictures and much more detailed updates!)

Until then, have a Merry, Healthy Christmas!! And remember, even if you just do something small to support your health and fitness goals, it COUNTS!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cara’s Holiday Stress Relievers - by Cara Potapshyn Meyers

Dream Water
Dream Water is the first all natural sleep enhancer. It is perfect for Motherhood Later...Than Sooner readers, especially during the holiday season. Just in time for holiday travel! With everyone running around getting ready to celebrate, we could all use good nights of sleep!

Dream Water helps you relax and fall asleep fast and has zero calories, no preservatives and natural active ingredients (GABA, Melatonin, 5-HTP). Dream Water is TSA approved in its 2.5 oz shot, which makes it the perfect travel companion.
My husband tried Dream Water versus his usual melatonin tablet. He reported that he fell asleep faster and felt that he slept more solidly. He also loves all natural products, so he plans to purchase Dream Water in bulk. 
We were given samples of Lullaby Lemon and Pineapple flavors. The pineapple flavor was my husband’s favorite! He said the lemon had a nice, soothing taste to it, however. Dream Water also comes in Snoozeberry.

Bill Clinton, Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Bruce Willis, Kristin Chenowith, Katherine McPhee & Khloe Kardashian, are all fans of Dream Water, along with over 70 Million Americans who can’t sleep.

Dream Water is excited to announce a retail alliance with CVS/Pharmacy making Dream Water available in over 20,000 points of sale nationwide! Dream Water can be found in Walmart, Walgreens, Hudson News, Duane Reade as well as airport retailers. The Dream Water website is: Or “like” them on Facebook at

Shanti Generation:
Yoga Skills for Youth Peacemakers
Yoga, practiced by nearly 14 million American adults, has developmental benefits for young people that can help develop self-confidence, combat obesity, and support academic achievement. Yoga has helped children with ADHD, Autism and chronic disease to stay physically healthy and mentally focused.  
Abby Wills, MA, is a Southern California yoga instructor, who holds an MA in Education and has 15 years of hands-on experience working in schools. Her unique insights enable her to understand the specific needs of the educator and the day-to-day classroom experience as well as developing tools for a teacher without a yoga background. She has developed an innovative yoga program created in tandem with seven Los Angeles teenagers and set to soothing music by Aaron Wills (aka P-Nut), the bassist of the rock band, 311. The result, SHANTI GENERATION
This DVD is making it easier to introduce the lifelong benefits of yoga into schools by making it classroom friendly. With the help of young teens, Abby Wills developed a transformational new yoga program to help tweens and teens develop confidence and strength while cultivating inner peace and mindfulness. The first DVD in the series, ‘YOGA SKILLS FOR YOUTH PEACEMAKERS,’ offers invaluable tools for children ages 7-16  and is now on DVD at major retail outlets as well as its five digital “pathways” available on VOD platforms.
“Shanti,” means “peace” in Sanskrit. In fact, says Wills, “We plan to build a movement by teaching young people peacemaking skills, to build a world that respects and celebrates differences in effort to create a culture of peace and unity. The yoga program we developed cultivates social and emotional learning, or SEL, through mindfulness practices including movement, breathing and meditation. Each practice is offered in a context directly relevant to the developmental needs of adolescent youth, unlike yoga DVDs created for adults or young kids. In particular, the program is designed to empower teens to cope with real life challenges, including bullying.”
·         Over 30 unique options for beginner and experienced yogis:
o       5 unique half-hour practice sequences: Creating Happiness, Energy Amplified, Choosing Peace, Being Sound and Voice Choice Possibility  
o       Library of Poses: 18 mini sequences for Focus, Energy and Calm 
o       Breathing Room: 5 sequences featuring stress management and self-regulation.
o       Self-Connection Room: two mindful awareness practices.
·         Interviews with the seven teen yoga students.
·         Optional narration in Spanish and Japanese.
Five segments, each between twenty to thirty minutes, are available to purchase download or rent online on portals such as Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon.  These pathways include:
    1. Creating Happiness: Looking for happiness? Get flexible! Breathe and move your way into happiness with forward bends for flexibility. True happiness comes through shining health.
    2. Energy Amplified: Balancing and core strengthening postures give you what no energy drink ever can: sustainable body energy to power your life. Get strong, be healthy.
    3. Choosing Peace: Peace is a behavior you can choose at any moment, no matter what. Get your mind on board with your breath for a peaceful journey through standing poses, backbends and forward bends designed to empower you to find your own peace inside.
    4. Being Sound: Twist, bend and relax your way to deep peace. To be sound is to be free and secure at the same time. Be vibrant and radiate peace.
    5. Voice Choice Possibility: Take a moment to remember what you really want and fuel up on positive energy to make your dreams come true. Breathe, visualize and move the way you want to feel.
If you have a child or tween stressed out from exams and an overload of projects before the Winter Recess, buy your child the gift of inner peace. And join them! You could probably use a little inner peace as well!
The DVD retails for $16.95  and is 90 minutes long. For more information and updates, please visit:
Note: Thanks to Cinema Libre Studio and Jonesworks, Inc. for providing sample products.  Cara Potapshyn Meyers and assume no liability relative to products reviewed in this blog.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Words — by Margaret Hart

My name is Margaret Hart and it's been two minutes since my last game of Words With Friends!
Yes, I am addicted to the game that so many people are playing on their Smartphone and I am not ashamed to admit it. I only recently discovered Words when a friend invited me to play. It didn't take long for me to get hooked. I found myself inviting random players to games when the ones I was playing with my "real" friends slowed. I didn't have patience. I needed my Words fix. I had to find a new opponent. At one point, I had five games going. I have heard the max is 15, so maybe I'm not that addicted after all. 
I can understand why the actor Alec Baldwin allegedly took his iPad into an airplane bathroom recently to play Words when an airline attendant allegedly told him to turn it off because the plane was about to take off.  I, too, found myself sitting on the toilet contemplating my next move just the other day!  I knew then, that I had sunk to a new low. And during a particularly fun game one evening this week, I lost track of time and burned the pork chops. I decided to take a 24 hour break from Words.
My husband has been getting on my case about my playing. He complains that everywhere we go my phone chimes and I'm always tapping on the screen. I could have said the same thing about him! His nose is always in his Blackberry, and he gets so many emails that there's always something buzzing attached to his hip. Even when he gets home from his 14 hour day of work, his nose is in his laptop. I think he's just jealous because he can't play Words on his device.
It took me a few games to figure out some of the strategy to Words. Truth is, after each game where I got the pants beaten off me, I learned something. That drove me to test out what I'd learned on new opponents. Now that I am winning some games, and employing the strategies I've learned, I am suspicious that some of my random opponents (who keep beating me and then asking me to play again) are cheating.  
Cheating? How is that possible? It was my husband who tipped me off. When his nose was in his laptop the other night, he told me about an app that will help you win at Words. It figures. If there's software to help you win your bid on eBay, it stands to reason that someone would develop an app to help you win your game of Words. 
Because I am curious and have to check everything out, I downloaded the app that had the highest ratings and the most buzz, and read the instructions. I got the gist of it, but I never tested it out. I never intended to cheat, I just wanted to see how it worked. After all,  I'm supposed to be good with words. The guilt would be too much for me.
So next time my random opponent—who responds to my moves in under 30 seconds with the most esoteric word choices utilizing the highest scoring letters—asks me to play again, I'm going to politely decline.
I'm old fashioned. I like to lose the old fashioned way.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

‘Tis the Season—by Jamie Levine

Bah humbug! I’m tired. And cranky. I’ve had a migraine for almost an entire week…and now I’m coming down with a cold. During this season last year, I was finishing up finals and getting ready for a month-long break. But yesterday, I simply took a midterm that was worth 50 percent of my grade, and passed out by 9pm—knowing that today I have a school project to work on that won’t be complete until mid-January. And I have another project ahead of me that requires meeting with some classmates next week, when everyone else is focused on the holidays. My grad school program is on eight-week cycles, and I get no break. Deep down, I certainly don’t regret enrolling in this program because it’s the best one designed for a single mom, but right now, I am feeling a little sorry for myself. I’d love a vacation.

That said, I’m fortunate that I don’t need to pay for child care next week when my daughter is on her school break; while I won’t have a vacation, per say, I will be home to entertain Jayda and take her on play dates. I’ll simply do what I often do—and finish my work at night when my daughter is asleep. My life can be tiring and stressful—as most mothers’ lives are—but at least it’s flexible, time-wise. And even though I’m all “tipped out”—having spent more money than I have to spend on all of Jayda’s wonderful caretakers—her teachers, babysitters, and sports instructors—at least I have a well-cared for daughter, which is more important than anything. The holidays can be stressful for everyone—not just me—but they should also be about spreading joy and experiencing happiness. So at times like this, I need to remember that, and focus on my glass being half-full, rather than half-empty.

That said, happy holidays, everyone! And here’s to getting rid of my holiday humbugs (and this darn cold!)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mission Statement for Motherhood - by Leta Hamilton

As 2012 approaches, I am going to challenge you to write a Mission Statement for Motherhood. This simple technique takes the letters in “Motherhood” and uses them to encapsulate your core values as a person and as a mother. For example, my Mission Statement for Motherhood is as follows:

M = Measure their success by the amount of joy they experience.

O = Open my door when they knock and listen for when they are standing there, but afraid to knock.

T  = Take the time for my own personal and spiritual growth.

H = Help with life and homework, but do not do it for them.

E = Engage with them as people, rather than just as “kids.”

R = Read and Review my Mission Statement for Motherhood often to remind myself of what matters.

H = Harness their passions to the best of my ability and help them master the skills of their dreams.

O = Organize my own life to be fulfilled outside of my kids and my role as parent.

O = Offer myself the same amount of unconditional love I give to them.

D = Demonstrate to the best of my abilities those qualities I most want to pass on – Unconditional Love, Tolerance, Respect, Humility, and Personal Responsibility

This Mission Statement for Motherhood is printed out, framed and hung up in two locations in my home. In the kitchen I can see it as I go about fulfilling the tasks of mother in the communal nature of family. It is here that we eat our dinners, work on our homework and discuss the ups and downs of our day. Next to the light switch just as you enter the kitchen, I am constantly reminded to be mindful of what I consider sacred about life and motherhood. It is not that I have to read it all the time, but it is of tremendous value just being there, knowing that it is available for reading during those moments when I suddenly realize I have forgotten to see the forest for the trees.
It is also in my bedroom hung next to my dresser. This is my personal space where I brush my hair, put on my makeup and prepare my inner self for the new day. It is also the last place I stand before heading into the bed for night. Here my Mission Statement for Motherhood acts as a trigger to bring everything back to center and to that place where everything begins and ends – my inner self. Again, there is no pressure to read it word for word. Its presence is simply a metaphor for the energy that will take me back to a place where I feel at peace. With all the chaos of life and motherhood, I value this metaphor. I need it. Inner peace is a place from which I deviate often.
The process of writing my Mission Statement for Motherhood took several weeks. I wrote draft after draft until I was sure I had a version I would love for the rest of my life. For some, they may choose to write new ones at various intervals of the motherhood path. Who knows? I may change mine at some point down the line. For now, though, it is enough to have it written, printed and framed on my walls. I love having them there. If you have never considered writing a Mission Statement for Motherhood, I would encourage you to write one now, especially as we close up this year and head into 2012. A Mission Statement is the defining statement for a business and so too it can be for our lives. With that clarity, things become much easier. Ease is a treasure every mother can appreciate. Blessings and Happy New Year to you and yours.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Real Games Begin by Sharon O'Donnell

The time has arrived when going to my youngest son's basketball games is no longer relaxing. It used to be going to Jason's games were a welcome respite from the competition of the middle and high school leagues my older sons played in; the final score wasn't that important and sometimes not even kept, and I didn't stress about it if my son made a mistake.

Now that Jason is 11, however, the element of competition has reared its head. I noticed it a bit last year when play would get rough, and the boys would become too physical. I would feel myself tense up and would then find myself yelling, "Call a foul, ref!" while it seemed that the other parents were still smiling and saying things like "Good try!" to all the players. I was one of only a few parents with older kids and obviously the only parent who had older boys who played high school sports. I could sense the game was changing, that the strictly 'for fun' times were evaporating replaced by that sense of competition. It comes as the boys get older, and I knew it when I saw it. It wouldn't be long.

Jason had his first game of the season this year today, and yes, his little boy, strictly for fun games are indeed behind him. He's in the 11 and 12 year old league this year, and it gets dangerous out there. Sure, when he was in kindergarten, the games -- although cute -- would get exasperating. Sometimes one player would take forever to pass it to someone, prompting encouraging parents to yell, "Pass it" and then clap wildly when they did. Traveling wasn't called often, and kids would sometimes run down the court with the ball in under their arm like a football, and the ref wouldn't call anything even then. For a lover of the sport and a purist for the rules, it was excruciating to watch this -- but I did because I wanted to watch my son. Just like the two before him. And even though the league was laid-back and I liked it like that, I secretly also wished that things were a little more like my older sons games where they played by all the rules and winning meant something.

As they say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. After going to Jason's game today, I realized his games would never again be sweet and innocent with parents calling out encouragement to their kids and never yelling at the ref (unless it was me or some other parent with older kids too). And now suddenly, I wish I had more time for those basketball games when he was younger, when it wasn't about the competition. When one of the players on the other time came up to Jason and rammed his elbow into Jason's stomach while Jason was dribbling the ball, it was my voice I heard yelling, "Come on ref! Blow your whistle!" The other parents don't know it yet, but soon they will be joining me in my shouting. That's the way it is when the boys get older.

Competition 101. The classroom of life on a basketball court: how things sometimes aren't fair, how one person gets called for traveling on your team, but the other team travels three times without a single call. I guess whether I'm ready or not, it's time for the real games to begin.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Producers Joan Stein and Richard Frankel announced recently that the Off Broadway premiere production of Standing On Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays will play its final performance at the Minetta Lane Theatre on Sunday, December 18th. The show will have played 7 preview performances and 41 regular performances. The producers plan to take the play, which opened to enthusiastic response from critics and audiences alike on November 13th, to markets where marriage equality is not yet a reality, in an effort to help invigorate audience members in battleground states and raise money for marriage equality organizations.

Responding to one of the defining issues of our day -- the on-going battle for marriage equality throughout the United States -- some of America’s most illustrious and Award-winning playwrights, including Obie Award winner Mo Gaffney, Heideman Award winner Jordan Harrison, Tony Award nominee Moisés Kaufman, Tony Award nominee Neil LaBute, Sundance Jury Prize winner Wendy MacLeod, Obie Award winner José Rivera, Obie and Outer Critics Circle Award winner Paul Rudnick, and Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Doug Wright, have created a hilarious and poignant 90-minute evening of short plays that celebrates the courage to be in a relationship – any relationship.  The writing is top notch, and there is much to celebrate in this production!

Conceived by Brian Shnipper and directed by Stuart Ross, Standing On Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays features a cast that includes Theatre World Award winner Craig Bierko (The Music Man), Daytime Emmy nominee Mark Consuelos (“All My Children”), Emmy Award nominee Polly Draper (“thirtysomething”), Tony Award winner Harriet Harris (Thoroughly Modern Millie), Tony Award winner Beth Leavel (The Drowsy Chaperone) and Emmy Award-winner Richard Thomas (“The Waltons”). The acting is stellar!  It was a real treat to see this ensemble peformance.  In particular, Harriet Harris is a delicious, quirky hoot in My Husband by Paul Rudnick, playing a mom who plants a fake NY Times wedding announcement for her son Mark Consuelos, in an effort to keep up with the Jones.  Richard Thomas delivers a poingnant monologue in the piece London Mosquitoes by Moises Kaufman, celebrating the life of his deceased mate.

For its Off Broadway premiere, Standing on Ceremony partnered with Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage nationwide, and Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS, and has donated a percentage of all ticket sales to these and other organizations promoting marriage equality.

To launch its Off Broadway run, Standing on Ceremony joined with Tectonic Theater Project (Moisés Kaufman, Artistic Director; Greg Reiner, Executive Director) for Standing on Ceremony: The National Event, to help take the play’s message across the country (and the globe). For one night only on Monday, November 7, more than 50 participating theaters across America and beyond presented their own productions of the play to raise awareness and funds in support of marriage equality. Audience members across the country watched a live streaming introduction and post performance Qand A, and submitted questions via Twitter in real time.

Tickets for the Off Broadway run of Standing on Ceremony are on sale via and at the Minetta Lane box office (18 Minetta Lane).  See it while you can in NYC and keep an eye out for it at a theatre near you.

Standing on Ceremony is produced Off Broadway by Joan Stein, Richard Frankel, Annette Niemtzow, Fakston Productions, Harley Medcalf, Jon Murray, Harvey Reese, in association with Diana Buckhantz and Niclas Nagler; Associate Producers, Luigi Caiola, Rebecca Falcon and Mary C. Solomon and Executive Producer, Joe Watson.


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