Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Tiger Mom Debate

The Tiger Mom', Amy Chua has recently made national news with her controversial book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, where she proudly explains her strict and relentless parenting style.  In her book, Chua explains how she has insisted on her 7 year old practicing piano for hours on end (even through dinner) until she perfected the piece.  Also, she does not allow grades below a B and places very high standards on academic excellence. 

First, I think that her ideas and parenting style is very extreme, however, there is a lot that we can learn from her philosophy and ideas.  As mentioned in Time Magazine, the Chinese have a fierce global marketplace, and one of the best primary and secondary education systems (which recent testing has proved when compared with other countries).  Although I don't agree with everything that Chua does, I don't think many people would argue that the Chinese have a stronger work ethic in general and a much more disciplined approach to education than westerners.  So, what can we learn from this woman?  Here are a few questions that we can consider as parents...
Should we raise some of the academic expectations we place on our children?

Do we put enough emphasis on academic excellence or are we perhaps clouded by wanting our children to excel in sports or social activities?

Are we teaching our kids to focus on studying enough or could we be allowing too much t.v/facebook?

Are we raising our children to be an asset to our society's global marketplace?

Are we providing our children with enough structure and discipline to be successful in their future?

Personally, I would really like to see my child excel in academics, go to college, and be successful in society (whatever that means to them!) but at the same time I do want them to be happy and enjoy their childhood.  One of the biggest things I think we can take away from Chua and other Chinese parents is the idea that we should praise our children for their hard work instead of praising them just because they are good at something. 

There is no perfect parent.  We all make mistakes along our parenting journey but being open minded to another perspective is a great way to challenge our own parenting styles and learn from each other.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wintertime Jokes

These wintertime jokes will be sure to get a laugh or two!!

Q: How do you keep from getting cold feet?
A: Don't go around BRRfooted!

Q: What did the big furry hat say to the warm woolly scarf?
A: "You hang around while I go on ahead."

Q: Why are bad school grades like a shipwreck in the Arctic Ocean?
A: They're both below C level!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Toddler Tuesday! Beach Party!

Well, the weather outside is frightful...
but that doesn't mean you can't still have fun with your little one!  So, break out the swimsuits and get in the mood for some beach fun!  Here's how... 
To start, prepare ahead of time so you have everything you need and the kids can be involved in the excitement! Next, show them pictures of themselves at the beach, read a book about the beach, or watch a movie about the beach!  Also, find some beach themed music like Bob Marley or the Beach Boys.  Finally, get out any of the props listed below and make sure you use your imagination to really make it seem like you are going the beach! ENJOY!

Time to apply the sunscreen!! 
Building sandcastles was fun!!

Here's some props you can use:
     Blow up pool
     Beach towels
     Beach toys-shovels
     Sand activities

After you gather all your props, and prepare your toddler, begin your trek to the beach by driving to the beach, laying in the beach sunning yourself, and then jumping in the water!  Don't forget to put on some sunscreen (this will give you the beachy smell too!)
This activity will give you and your little one a great break during this long winter days!!

Saving the best for last...
You can't go to the beach without having some ice cream, right!?


Intel Visual Life - The Sartorialist

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Practicing Detachment

I love boundaries.  I used to think that I had good boundaries.  I stuck up for myself and I confronted issues I had with people.  Then, I started martial arts and I quickly started realizing that I sucked at setting boundaries!  One of the biggest things I learned in my training was how to set boundaries in a more effective way (usually before the problem even happens).  Of course, this takes a lot of practice but is so much more effective!
One thing that I've realized is that I often use sarcasm or give unsolicited advice.  This has caused me a lot of problems with relatives and loved ones.  When someone is telling me about a problem, I have started asking myself if they are asking me for advice or just venting.  Often, they are just wanting someone to listen and they are looking for support.  Most of the time, they can figure out the problem on their own and don't need me at all (hmmm....imagine that!?) 
Here's an example. 
Let's say I have a teenage daughter that is hanging out with some friends that I don't think are good for her.  She begins to tell me about some of the things they are doing that aren't particularly healthy.  If I begin to tell her what she should say then I am robbing her from being able to process the situation on her own.  Instead, if I ask her what she thinks she should do about the situation then I am preparing her to better handle difficult situations on her own and not depend on me. 
As difficult as this is for the parent, it's essential for kids to begin to figure things out on their own and gain the self esteem they need to feel good about the decisions they make (and have someone encouraging them).  In addition, this will make it easier for her to come and talk to me next time without feeling judged.  This is true not only for communicating with teenagers but for adults as well.

What I have learned recently is that I need to practice these kinds of conversations with many people in my life.  I often put myself in situations where I am giving unsolicited advice without even realizing it.  I am learning to stop myself and simply listen.  If people come to me with the same type of problems that they put themselves in again and again, I am starting to limit my interactions with them.  I am not cutting the relationship off but I am detaching with love and giving them the freedom to grow (if they choose!).  For example, limiting conversations to once a week or once every 2 weeks can be a good thing for everyone involved when someone is in a unhealthy situation.

I truly believe that using these boundaries has helped make my relationships with other people more authentic and much more pleasant (just ask my husband!)  Also, I have learned that focusing on my own goals and priorities instead of others has made me a happier and healthier mom and individual.

Do you have other ideas/ways that help you set healthy boundaries with your loved ones?   

Friday, January 21, 2011

FOCUS FRIDAY! Combating Loneliness of a Stay at Home Mom

Let's face it, being a stay at home mom can be very lonely! I consider myself a very outgoing person and have weekly play dates scheduled with my daughter but I still find many lonely times throughout my week. 
I want my daughter to be grounded and I want to spend a lot of time engaged with her, but using a vocabulary limited to 50 words to chat with her can be less than thrilling after an 8 hour day....yes...I said it!  There are times when my husband wants to stop for a beer with a friend after work and a moment of rage strikes inside me....I think, "I haven't had a break all day, why does he get to have all the fun?  Didn't he have conversations with adults all day long? What more could he want?"

It sounds silly but I would love to see what people are wearing out in the workplace and chat with random strangers about the weather or news...Don't get me wrong...I love being a stay at home mom but sometimes it's just down right lonely!

So, if you find yourself in the same boat and you really want to stay afloat (no pun intended) as a stay at home mom, make sure that you pencil in time for yourself.  The most helpful thing for me is to plan ahead and write it on the calendar (that way I tend to make sure it happens)
Here are some ideas for you..

Take a class like photography or scrap booking through an area consortium (I take Zumba and love it!)

Girls night out once a month

Coffee with a friend at a coffee shop

A daily or weekly chit chat with a friend on the phone during nap time

Do you have more ideas?? Please share!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Toddler Tuesday: How to Overcome the 'Picky Eater' Stage

Toddlers often go through picky eating stages and it can be very challenging for us parents!  It's important to think outside the box and get creative when your little one reaches this phase!  Want to get your kids excited about a meal your making?  Try calling your dish something fun!  Here are a few ideas...

Spaghetti and Meatballs: Messy Madness
Fish Sticks: Goin' Fishin'
Tacos: Dora's favorite or Dora Dinner
Soup: Sloppy Soup
Grilled Chicken: Dippy Chicken (Sienna loves dipping food into ANYTHING....applesauce, ketchup, or barbecue sauce are some of our favorites!)

Don't forget to present the meal with enthusiasm, "Guess what WE'RE going to have tonight? Something reeeaallly cool!!"
Still can't get them to eat?  Don't's just a phase and forcing it don't their throat will only make things worse! Relax and try again in an hour! They will not starve to death!!

Here's another great resource to give you even more ideas!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Can I go on your golf trip???? Please?!

Lovin' the Snow!

Letter to Parents

If your kids could clearly articulate their thoughts and emotions, they would probably write a letter like this....

Dear Mommy and Daddy,

It's tough to be a kid sometimes.

When you talk about adult issues, I get overwhelmed and feel anxiety. I don't understand all that talk and I worry. When you are watching news or things like Supernanny, I feel scared hearing screaming, yelling and mean faces.

I know I create a lot of messes but I am a kid after all. I need your time and patience. When there are many toys available to me, I assume that I am allowed to play with all of them (and make a mess). Please take just a few toys out for me (and something that I haven't played with in a while is a huge plus!) If I take too many out, can you please help me put some back since I get so tired and overwhelmed?

I like rules. Rules let me know what I am allowed do and what I am not allowed to do. I get confused when you sometimes give me consequences and then sometimes you don't. I don't really know what's OK and what is not OK when you're not consistent. I know I cry when I have a punishment but I really appreciate how it helps me to understand (in a clear way) that I did not make a good choice.

I know there are times when I get frustrated...but please try not to yell at me. When you hover over me and yell I feel like you don't respect me and I tune you out. It just doesn't work.

I get tired easily. Sometimes you expect a lot from me. I don't mean to get whiny and fussy when I'm tired but sometimes I need you to remind me that I need a nap and put me down (even though I say I want to play!)

I need your time to play with me. I get bored easily. I know I can't have all your time but I do need some time with you throughout the day. If not, I will act out because I really want some attention from you.

It hurts my feelings if you tell me I'm bad. I'm really not a bad kid, even though I sometimes make bad choices. I want to be good and make you smile.

Sometimes I don't understand when you give me explanations of why I shouldn't do something. Just telling me "no" in a firm voice (different from your normal voice) gets my attention and lets me know I did something wrong. This is easy for me to understand since I get overwhelmed when your trying to explain all kinds of stuff to me.

Even if I pull away or say "yuck!", I really do love your hugs and kisses so please never stop showing me affection!


Your little one

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Simple Sunday!!

How to Make Random Acts of Kindness Simple and Fun!

Practicing Random Acts of Kindness is a great way to have fun and also give back to others.  Include your children in the fun by asking them for ideas (you will be amazed at what they come up with!)  Here are a few ideas to get you started...

1. Make a "Just Because" card and send it to a relative, friend, or even a neighbor!
2. Bake a dessert or dinner for someone
3. Send an e-card
4. Give an extra tip to someone that provided good service or tell their boss what great service you had.
5. Paint a picture and tie it up with a pretty ribbon, hang it on a neighbors door
6. Give a compliment
7. Visit a nursing home and play an instrument or a tell a funny joke (of course, they will be happy with just seeing children!)

The fun twist to this activity is keeping it a secret! SHHHH!  Teach your kids to give to others without the need to be rewarded with even a thank you!  Remind them that the real gift is how you feel inside for doing a good deed!

Remember, even small acts of kindness can make a difference! Smiles are contagious!!  Ask your child how many people they can get to smile by smiling at them first!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Check us out on Channel 10 Your News at 5:30 this Tuesday!!!! We will be discussing the site and ways to keep life simple with children!

Sunday, January 9, 2011


This excerpt is a follow up from the article I recently wrote entitled, "Which is More Difficult, Marriage or Raising Children?"

He Said:
"Raising kids is harder! Women only have a harder time with marriage because they try to raise us!"

She Said (responding to above comment):
"Hmmmm...definitely an interesting point here!  I thought about this statement for a while and I find it very thought provoking!  Perhaps I do try to control or "raise" my hubby at times instead of letting things go!  I never want to be a nagging or controlling wife so letting go and trusting my hubby is definitely something I need to do more!"

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cheering up a Sick Child

Here are a few jokes to cheer up your little one who is not feeling so well...

Doctor, Doctor I feel like a sheep.
That's baaaaaaaaaad!

Doctor, Doctor I feel like a bee.
Well buzz off I'm busy!

Doctor, Doctor I feel like a spoon!
Well sit still and don't stir!

Do you like these jokes? Check out more at

What's more challenging....Marriage or Raising Children?

HMMMM....tough question, right?!  I'm inclined to think it's one in the same (haha) but I seriously wonder sometimes which is more challenging? Perhaps it reflects my intellect that I feel more comfortable communicating with kids than adult men at times, but I sometimes feel like communicating with my hubby can be exhausting (and I'm sure he feels the same!) 
My hubby and I at Christmas
I made sure I read the book What to Expect When your Expecting but never read What to Expect when You're Married with Children...
Making time for us as a couple can be challenging.  I find it pretty easy to organize a trip to the mall for Sienna to see Santa but for some reason I put date night with the hubby on the back burner.  Also, I get down on the floor and play with Sienna in a heartbeat but often forget to show the hubby affection.  Perhaps, it's a maternal instinct that we tend to put the needs of our children ahead of our husband and/or ourselves, but doing this often can be detrimental to the family unit.

The idea of divorce scares me.  Obviously, it's something that I never want to do!  Despite frequent reports of a 50% divorce rate, the real divorce rate in America is reflected in this table (according to 
Age at marriage for those who divorce in America
Under 20 years old27.6%11.7%
20 to 24 years old36.6%38.8%
25 to 29 years old16.4%22.3%
30 to 34 years old8.5%11.6%
35 to 39 years old5.1%6.5%

OK-since I am in my early 30's, I fall into the 8.5% divorce rate.  That's pretty low so I feel a little better! 
I admit it, there's been times when I've thought about divorce and the thought of having evenings to myself and every other weekend COMPLETELY childless seems like it would be heaven (yes...I said it!!!!) but divorce is something I never want to do or even consider!  So, I admit that sharpening my wife skills is something I need to do often, including communicating effectively with my spouse.
Communicating with a 2 year old is pretty simple. Sienna only understands about 50 words, so explaining how I feel, what I need, or what I have planned for the week to a 2 year old does not need to happen, however, explaining these things to my hubby gets pretty complex at times.  First of all, I have to give him his time after he walks in the door to "unwind", then I have to change my communication style to one reflecting a partner instead of a child.  At times, this is easy but other times (such as when I'm hormonal), it's not so easy! 

Finally, there's the division of labor.  Division of labor for kids is pretty much a matter of sitting down, deciding what your child can do, and what they can handle. 
"Sure you might get an argument from your kids about their shores but division of labor with your spouse is much more difficult"
As much as I don't want to admit it, I sometimes keep a tally sheet in my head of what I am doing around the house vs. what he is doing around the house.  I am always trying to do my part but also delegate if I'm feeling overloaded.  In addition, I have to pay attention to my spouse to make sure he's not feeling overwhelmed.  It's times like this when I can appreciate how the 1950's family worked when the woman did all the domestic chores and the man did all the work outside the home!  Although, I wouldn't like a lot of the the family dynamics of that time period, at least the division of labor was very clear and easy to complete!

I remember taking a class called Marriage and Family Dynamics in high school.  I'm not sure why they didn't offer this class in college, but I wish I would have saved the notes now since I still have a lot to learn!!

Here I am enjoying chocolate marshmallow ice cream in a fancy glass...
who says pregnant women can't have fun on New Year's Eve!?!?!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Toddler Tuesay: Making the Witching Hour Easy

If you have a kid, chances are you've heard people talk about "the witching hour" or you've experienced it yourself!  Fortunately, recognizing that these hours can be difficult is half your battle!  Formulate a plan but don't expect every day to be perfect.  The reason for the witching hour is usually because everyone is hungry and/or tired (and that's sometimes impossible to avoid!).  However, there are a few things you can do to avoid meltdowns...

1.  Provide a snack.  If possible, have snacks ready to go so they can be given to your toddler while you are trying to get dinner ready.

2.  Rethink your routine.  Take a moment to think about what you are doing doing this time.  If you are rushing in the door and opening up all your mail, perhaps that's one thing you can set aside until later.

3.  Make dinner simple.  I have recently been freezing a lot of meals so they are easy to thaw and make for an easy dinner.  Also, crock pot meals are awesome and can be made ahead of time! 

4.  Communicate.  If your spouse asks if they can make dinner or bring something home, take them up on their offer (for God's sake!).  Children are often acting up because they want attention.  If your spouse wants to chat with you, let them know you really want to hear about their day but the kid(s) really want their attention too!  Offer another time in the evening when you can give them your undivided attention!

5.  Utilize any distractions possible.  Put away a special toy that your child loves and take it out only during the eveing hours (while your making dinner and getting things together).  Save a special show or cartoon just for that time so your child will be excited and looking forward to it.  Finally, if your toddler is really little, have some Tupperware or bowls that they can play with in the bottom cupboards which is accessible for them (this was a lifesaver for me when Sienna was 12 months old!)