Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

Top 10 Reasons the Hello, World book is the Perfect, Personalized Baby Gift October 11, 2013

Written by Jennifer Dewing and illustrated by Holli Conger

Written by Jennifer Dewing and illustrated by Holli Conger

My neighbors recently welcomed home their first child, a beautiful baby girl. My husband and I didn’t falter; we bought the biggest box of newborn-sized diapers we could find. Babies need to be changed an average of 12 times per day–a practical gift makes sense.
We were stumped about choosing a more personal gift to offer. The transformation of becoming a parent is life-changing. The overwhelming love that blooms within the heart deserves to be honored, nurtured, and celebrated. But how?
Hello, World! delivers on the top 10 list of what to look for in a baby gift. Written by award-winning author Jennifer Dewing and illustrated with adorable animals by artist Holli Conger, Hello, World! comes personalized with the new baby’s name and photo (optional). If you provide the parents’ names, the city where the baby lives and the baby’s birth weight, the book will include that optional personalized information as well. Like all I See Me personalized books and gifts, this new title makes a special gift and lasting keepsake.

1.     Make it a Keepsake. Personalizing this book with baby’s thoughtfully selected name will be something that baby (and the new parents) will treasure for a lifetime.

2.     Educational. Babies learn and develop right before your eyes. This gift is educational and helps to fuel the new baby’s brain development.

3.     WOW Factor Hello, World! is sure to get a lot of “OOOHS” and “AAAAHS” when opened by the new parents.

4.     Growth Potential. This gift grows with the baby. A special book is a gift that baby will use for years and keep forever.

5.     Picture Perfect. Any gift that can be customized with a baby’s photo is sure to be a hit with new parents. And, baby will delight in seeing himself or herself on the gift. (My “big kids” STILL loving seeing photos of themselves as infants. Me too!)

6.     Drool Over It. We’re talking “baby gift” here. Hello, World! is colorful and something baby will literally “drool” over.

7.     Cuddle Factor. Both parent and baby will love snuggling up with this story.

8.     Built to Last. Let’s face it, babies have curious and exploring little hands and mouths! This book is a quality gift that is built to last.

9.     Easy-to-Order. Hello, World! can be delivered to your special delivery within a couple weeks of birth.

10.  Made in the USA. Feeling patriotic? Hello, World! is made right in the USA.

 

*I was not compensated for this recommendation. Hello, World! is a high-quality, charming keepsake.

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How – and Why – to Instill True Gratitude in Your Kids November 16, 2010

I’m not going to say my five-year-old is ungrateful–I’m not entirely certain he has a complete understanding of the concept, but I also know that he has searched his heart earnestly and decided he would rather live with us than be raised in the Jedi Temple among younglings and padawans. Trust me, I’m flattered by his choice.

Nonetheless, he wants one of every toy he lays eyes upon, and has kicked up quite a fuss in stores when he has not been awarded a toy he deems “rightfully” his.

Worse, he has adopted a habit of leaving a wonderful activity (such as a park outing or birthday party) only to hop in the car and demand to go immediately somewhere else equally as fun. Eerg! How about, “Thanks, mom! That was fun!”

Overall, it seems all parents  have thrown up their hands at some point in frustration, but husband-and-wife authors  David and Andrea Reiser say, “Yes, it is possible to refocus our children’s attention and values,” in their new book Letters from Home: A Wake-up Call For Success and Wealth (Wiley, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-4706379-2-0, $27.95, http://www.ReiserMedia.com).

“And at the center of the values we teach ought to be a profound sense of gratitude—for where we live, for the rights and privileges we have here, for family and friends—not to mention the many material blessings most kids have.”

Yes, teaching your kids to say “thank you” is important, but truly instilling a sense of gratitude in them is another matter entirely.  “Gratitude is an attitude of deep appreciation and thankfulness for the kindnesses and benefits you perceive yourself as receiving,” David explains.

Written in the form of letters to the authors’ four sons, the book explores 15 basic American virtues that built our country and that foster individual and familial success.   If you’re ready to start growing an attitude of gratitude in your own household, read on for additional reasons why gratitude is good, and for tips on how to establish it in your own family.

WHY INSTILL GRATITUDE? Gratitude is good for you! Believe it or not, gratitude is good for you on a very basic level. In fact, a study conducted by Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, reveals that cultivating gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25 percent, and can also cause individuals to live happier, more satisfied lives and enjoy increased levels of self-esteem, hope, empathy, and optimism.

Gratitude grants perspective—even in kids. When you take into account the sheer amount of opportunities, privileges, and material possessions most kids enjoy through no effort of their own, it’s easy to see why many of them feel entitled. After all, they’re used to getting a great deal without knowing or caring where it comes from. However, practicing gratitude underscores the fact that all of those toys and lessons and creature comforts don’t just pop out of thin air. “When your children specifically articulate that the things they own and the opportunities they have come from someone other than themselves, they’ll develop a healthy understanding of how interdependent we all are on one another…and they’ll be more inclined to treat others with genuine respect,” explains Andrea.

Gratitude improves relationships. Who would you rather work with: a colleague who freely acknowledges and appreciates your contributions, or a colleague who takes your efforts for granted with—at most—a perfunctory grunt of thanks? It’s a simple principle: gratitude fosters stronger, more positive, and more genuine relationships.

Gratitude counteracts the “gimmes.” “Fundamentally, gratitude is all about being aware of who or what makes positive aspects of your life possible, and acknowledging that,” Andrea explains. “When your kids learn to think like that, they’ll be much less likely to make mindless, self-centered demands. Plus, they’ll appreciate what they have, and their happiness won’t be based as heavily on material things.”

HOW TO INSTILL GRATITUDE

Don’t just count your blessings—name them. Have a minute of thanks at the same time each day—you and your kids can each name a few things you’re thankful for. Whether the list includes a favorite toy, a good grade, or a hug from Grandma, this tradition will start the day off in a positive frame of mind.  David suggests, “If you have older kids, encourage them to keep a gratitude journal and write down a few things they were thankful for each day before going to bed.”

Be a grateful parent. As most parents know, the way you treat your kids affects their development much more than the rules you set. When it comes to gratitude, tell your kids why you’re grateful to have them….and do it often.  “It goes without saying that you love your kids, and that you’re thankful beyond words for their love, their smiles, their hugs, and so much more,” David says. “When you tell them those things, their self-esteem will be boosted for the right reasons (not because they have the latest smartphone or because they’re dressed fashionably). Plus, your example will show them that gratitude extends well beyond material things.”

Don’t shower them with too much stuff. This dilutes the “gratitude” impulse. Remember, all things in moderation…including your kids’ stuff.  “If you buy your daughter whatever she wants, whenever she wants it, she won’t value or respect her belongings,” Andrea points out. “After all, there’s plenty more where everything else came from! And what’s more, she’ll grow up believing that getting what she wants is her due.”  When your child wants something, make him pitch in. (Don’t be the sole provider.) If your child receives an allowance (or, for older kids, has a job), think twice before letting him pocket every last penny. If he wants a new video game, bike, or even to go on a trip with friends, ask him to help save for those things himself.  “Depending on the amount of your child’s weekly allowance or how much he makes mowing lawns on the side, you may still end up footing a majority of the bill yourself,” David admits. “And that’s okay—after all, you are the parent. The point is, though, that your children will be active participants in working toward what they want. When they understand the real value of a dollar, they’ll be more likely to appreciate what you and others do for them.”

Keep a stack of thank-you cards on hand. Insist that your kids use them often. By and large, sending out thank-you notes is one of those arts that seems to be dying. Don’t let that be the case in your house. Send out regular thank-you notes—definitely when your child receives a gift, but also to teachers at the end of the school year, for example, and to Little League coaches and ballet teachers. “Make sure your child is the one composing and hand-writing the notes, not you,” Andrea clarifies. “However, realize that parents need to set the example by modeling writing formal thank-you notes on a variety of occasions.”

Set a good example. Say “thank you” sincerely and often. The values your children espouse as their lives proceed aren’t those that you nag them into learning, but the ones they see you living out. “Every day, there are numerous opportunities for you to model gratitude to your children,” David instructs. “For example, thank the waitress who delivers your food, the cashier who rings you up at the grocery store, and the teller at the bank who cashes your check. When your kids see you expressing thanks, they’ll do so too.”

Ask your kids to give back. The old saying, “It’s better to give than to receive” has stuck around for a reason. It really does feel great to help someone else out. Depending on their ages, encourage your kids to rake leaves for an elderly neighbor, say, or volunteer at a nursing home a few hours a week. “You might even make service a family activity,” Andrea suggests. “When your kids give their time and energy to help others, they’ll be less likely to take things like health, home, and family for granted—plus, selfless service tends to dilute selfishness in kids and adults alike.”

Insist on politeness and respect all around. When your kids treat other people with dignity and respect, they’ll be more likely to appreciate the ways in which those folks contribute to and improve their own lives. They’ll be less likely to take assistance and kindness for granted, and more likely to value it as much as it deserves.  “Specifically, it’s important for parents to model to their children the importance of treating all people with respect,” David clarifies.

Find the silver lining. We’re all tempted to see the glass half-empty from time to time…and kids are no exception. When you hear your child complaining or griping about something, try to find a response that looks on the bright side. It’s called an “attitude of gratitude” for a reason—it’s about perspective more than circumstance.  “Often, kids and adults alike are more unhappy than they need to be because they’re overlooking positives for which they should be grateful,” points out David.

Andrea concludes, “We truly are a nation built on gratitude—think about the scores of immigrants who have come here over the years, bursting with thankfulness for the chance to start a new, free life. “Your own children are probably being raised in vastly different circumstances, but it’s still important that they carry on a legacy of gratitude. Start taking steps to instill this important attitude in your family today, and we all just might wake up to a more pleasant tomorrow.”

David and Andrea Reiser are proud to contribute 100 percent of royalties and other income from the publication of the book by supporting three personally meaningful charities in the following proportion: 50 percent to Share Our Strength (www.strength.org), 40 percent to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (www.mskcc.org), and 10 percent to FORCE (www.facingourrisk.org). For more information, please visit http://www.ReiserMedia.com.

 

WIN a free Rock ‘N Learn Phonics DVD set! October 4, 2010

Attention moms and dads (and TEACHERS!) of children aged 6 and older! I’m giving away a FREE set of Rock ‘N Learn Phonics DVDs, volumes One and Two.

Rock ‘N Learn, Inc. began as an idea that would help children learn by putting educational material to music with a current sound-the kind of music that kids enjoy and find motivating.

Busy parents and teachers love the way Rock ‘N Learn Phonics captures kids’ attention. Cool songs and humorous characters take the struggle out of learning to read. Students control the pace, advancing as they master each new skill, so they can practice on their own and feel proud of their accomplishments; it’s fun with this highly-entertaining phonics DVD.

Children learn phonics rules through fun songs and word families. Next, they practice their skills by reading simple phrases using words that rhyme. When ready, they apply the skills they have learned to read complete sentences and stories. The read-along stories on this DVD are presented at a slow pace for beginning readers. As children practice, they also work on fluency by singing along with songs about the stories. A bonus section presents the stories at a normal pace to help kids learn to read fluently.

Rock ‘N Learn Phonics Volume 2 DVD is a perfect follow-up once  they’ve mastered the material on Volume 1. With Phonics Volume 2, young children discover other ways besides “silent e” to make long vowels, such as: ai, ay, ee, and ie. They practice long vowel patterns and apply phonics rules by reading sentences with words that feature long vowel sounds.

Viewers also practice reading words and sentences with r-controlled vowels, diphthongs, the schwa sound, syllables, ending sounds, and more. Eventually, students read stories that proceed from simple to complex. By also singing along with songs about the stories, children build reading fluency and have lots of fun.

Rock ‘N Learn Phonics is perfect for learning at home, regular education, special education, remedial classes, ESL, and even adult basic education. By covering a variety of skills at different levels, these phonics DVDs provide an effective tool for differentiated instruction in the classroom and at home. 

Rock ‘N Learn DVDs work great with any DVD player, computers with DVD players, projection screens, and interactive white boards.

Rock ‘N Learn has won numerous prestigious awards including such as Dr. Toy, Parents’ Choice, iParenting, National Parenting Publications, Learning Magazine Teachers’ Choice, Early Childhood News, National Parenting Center, and Parent’s Guide to Children’s Media.

Win this free set!

Simply tell us about you in the comment box! Are you a parent? A caregiver?A teacher? Are you hoping to help your little one get a headstart on reading, or do your children  or students have special needs or need help with speaking and reading English? I’d love to learn more about you! One random winner will be selected on Monday, November 1, 2010. (approx. value $39.99)

Learn more about Rock ‘N Learn here.

 

Send some love to a Senior Mom through MealsforMoms.org! May 6, 2010

This Mother’s Day, many lucky moms like me will be eating breakfast in bed, receiving hugs and homemade cards, or perhaps just taking a day of rest from the every duties of managing a household full of busy kids.

Meals on Wheels Association of America (MOWAA)will be working very hard this weekend to ensure a happier holiday for senior moms and grandmothers who will be alone and facing the threat of hunger.

“Right now 1 in 9 seniors in our very own country face the real threat of hunger. These seniors are our mothers and grandmothers and aunts. Many mothers who worked so selflessly to raise their children are now elderly and alone without enough food to eat,” said MOWAA President and CEO Enid Borden. “I hope everyone will join us in our Meals for Moms campaign so that the hidden, hungry, and homebound senior moms are not forgotten this Mother’s Day.”

Did you know that it costs only $7.00 to feed a hungry mom or grandmother? In order to bring a little sunshine to these ladies—and to help make giving a donation easier—MOWAA launched the easy-to-use website MealsforMoms.org which allows users to make secure donations and also  send a virtual flower bouquet to a special mom for this Mother’s Day, or even a homebound senior.

If you have just one minute, please visit the site and create a quick e-card for one of the housebound moms. The volunteers will print your message into a card and include it with a much-needed meal this weekend.

Don’t know what to write? Picture yourself in your senior years: Your children have grown, they may have children of their own, and for whatever reason, you find yourself alone and homebound. A message of love would mean so much, especially when it comes with a delicious meal delivered by a volunteer who has dedicated his or her time and compassion.

Donations raised from this campaign will go into MOWAA’s Meals for Moms Fund to help Meals On Wheels programs across the country feed homebound moms.

To locate a Meals On Wheels program near you, click here.

Good news! On June 7, 2010, Meals for Moms, the Meals On Wheels Association of America’s (MOWAA) reported that the  first annual Mother’s Day Campaign raised over $40,000 for MOWAA’s Mother’s Day Fund and sent over 7,000 messages of hope to hungry and homebound mothers around the country!

The Mother’s Day Fund will be distributed as grants to Meals On Wheels programs around the country to help feed their hungry moms. Our goal is to grow the Mother’s Day Fund to a substantial size that will ultimately allow us to distribute annual grants to Meals On Wheels programs around the country to help feed their hungry moms.

 

10 Loving tips for real TLC – Do these now, and be happy April 28, 2010

Every day, we owe it to ourselves to take steps toward leading a healthier, happier existence. There are endless possibilities–and rewards!–for good self care, such as meditation, exercise and appreciation of nature. Connecting to your higher power is an excellent path to peace and love, of both yourself and others. 

Today’s amazing and inspiring guest post is from board certified internist, certified holistic physician and national radio personality, Michael Finkelstein, M.D., breaks it down into a series of simple tasks.
 
To live more skillfully, he encourages individuals to view life as a set of opportunities, and to regard every aspect of our journey as an important piece of a collective puzzle. 

Follow your own advice- While advice from others is nice, recognize that no one is in a better position to take care of you than yourself.  You have likely given friends and loved ones guidance many times in the past.  Return the favor to yourself.
Exert self control-  Resist just one urge to eat something unhealthy, crack your knuckles, or say something bad about someone.  You’ll feel better for it and will be more likely to resist the urge again at some point in the future. (See my post on how “good” behavior actually improves self control!)
Forgive yourself for a mistake- Mistakes are inevitable.  Identify one thing you’ve done that was unplanned.  Release any guilt you’ve been harboring because of it and recognize something positive that resulted from it.
Reconsider your needs- Identify something you own that isn’t expensive, and quantify it’s inherent value – a picture your child drew for you; a love note your husband scribbled on a napkin on your first date; family heirloom…finding the value in inexpensive things will help you reevaluate your need for excessive amounts of money that we have a tendency to crave.
Celebrate your age- Consider how fast the joyful times in your life seem to have passed and rejoice in the time you have ahead of you.  Commend yourself on how your experiences have enriched your character and think about how you’d be different had you never had them.
Learn something from your children- Marvel at the ease with which a child interacts with the natural world, and make an effort to release some of the fear that’s attached to our boundaries as adults.
Defy your schedule- When planning your week, make a commitment on one day to wake up when the sun comes up and go to sleep when the sun goes down.  Honoring the sun’s cycle will keep you more in tune with nature, and ultimately healthier.
Thank someone for something- Considering what a person has done for you lately will  help you realize and appreciate what you have
Commend yourself for a job well done- We are our greatest teachers, so it’s important to bestow praise upon ourselves when we deserve it.  

Prior to developing his celebrated Skillful Living concept, Dr. Finkelstein was the Medical Director of Northern Westchester Hospital in Bedford NY and the Assistant Director to the Department of Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in NYC.

 

A warm cup of tea, and savory honey scones–perfection April 27, 2010

A good cup of tea can be transcendant, warming chilled bones, soothing frayed nerves, or settling a tired body after a busy day. It is shared with a good book, over good conversation, or when in presence of royalty. The many methods of enjoying tea can take us far beyond the comfort of our own kettle. China, Morocco, France, England, Kenya, and Russia are all tea-drinking countries with their own unique serving traditions and tea preparations. Lisa Boalt Richardson’s latest book, The World in Your Teacup: Celebrating Tea Traditions, Near and Far illuminates the rich culture of tea around the world. For each of eight different countries, you’ll learn about the culture and history of tea, how tea is served there, how to prepare tea in the style of the country, and which foods (recipes included!) can accompany the tea.
Stunning photographs by Lauren Rubinstein, one of Atlanta’s premier food photographers, illustrate the wide variety of teas and accompanying menus eaten all over the world.

Savory Honey Scones
2-1/4 teaspoons rosemary, finely chopped and divided
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/3 cups semolina
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
6 ounces soft goat cheese
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup heavy cream, divided
1 egg

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix 2 teaspoons rosemary with all the other dry ingredients. Add goat cheese to the dry ingredients and set aside.
Whisk together honey, half the cream, and egg. Stir this mixture into the dry ingredients until a soft dough forms.
Form the dough into a ball. Turn out onto a floured surface and separate the dough into 2 equal portions and pat each portion into a circle about 3/4 inch thick. Cut into 16 wedges. Separate and arrange wedges on a baking sheet.
Brush tops with remaining cream and sprinkle with remaining rosemary. Place in oven and bake 1o to 12 minutes or until golden brown. It is yummy to serve these with butter, honey, and/or softened goat cheese! Makes 16 scones.

For more interesting and elegant recipes, visit my other blog, unassumingfoodie.blogspot.com. Thanks!

 

Mother’s Day foodie gifts you’ll actually want! April 23, 2010

Mother’s Day is a wonderful excuse to receive gifts reflecting your favorite food passions. Rather than the same-old, these treats from RegionalBest.com look unique and special. I don’t tout products I haven’t tried, but these look tempting enough that I simply must post–if only as a hint!

For the Gluten Free Mom

Caren Wize, chef and owner of Truly Wize Bakery, makes delicious all natural, gluten free products that are beautifully packaged in eco-friendly gift boxes.  We recommend  Assorted Macaroons,  the extra rich and moist Gluten Free Brownies, and the fruit flavor filled Whoopie Pies.

For the Chocolate Lover Mom

Roni-Sues Chocolates of New York City offers several truffle collections, including the Cocktail Truffle Collection, unique handmade truffles featuring a variety of classic cocktails like the Manhattan,  Mojito, Dark & Stormy, Mimosa and Margarita.  They’re made with the finest local ingredients and some include tequila, coconut rum, bourbon and sweet vermouth.  In addition, Roni-Sue’s exclusive Regional Chocolate Collection features a variety of flavors each very different and unique to represent regional flavors throughout the United States, such as blueberry, cherries jubiliee and pecan pie.

For the Garden Lover Mom   
  
Artisanal Shortbread from Simply Nic’s in New Jersey is available in luscious varieties like Rosemary, Lavender and Cardamon Candied Ginger.  Artisan Baker Nicole Bergman gets  fresh rosemary from local farms, and gardens in and around Princeton, NJ.  She harvests rosemary from the herb garden that Littlebrook Elementary School’s Garden Club (in Princeton, NJ) plants, as part of the Princeton School Garden Cooperative.

For the Breakfast Lover Mom

If mom is a coffee or tea lover, you can’t go wrong with Kohana’s Best Coffee Sampler, a selection of Kohana’s best roasted coffees, or the Flowering Teas Sampler from Great Lakes Tea and Spice.  The teas are absolutely gorgeous served in a clear class pot or cups.

For more great ideas, check out RegionalBest’s gift guide.

What foodie gift would YOU like to receive for Mother’s Day?