Friday, December 27, 2013

New Year, New You

Today is December 26th, the day when all the family festivities die down, our elf on the shelf goes back to the north pole, the Christmas cookies disappear (while still leaving those lbs on the scale), and the credit card bills start rolling in reminding us that we spent too much on the present that will often be forgotten.  We read articles about Seasonal Affective Disorder and pray for spring as we run from work to house to stay warm here in the northeast.  Winter can be a challenging time for all of us but the truth is it doesn’t have to be.

When I was studying martial arts years ago I learned a valuable lesson about my approach to life.  My sensei had an interesting approach to teaching children katas.  You see, Katas were the least favorite part of the class for the kids but we put a spin on it to make it a fun approach.  Every day when it was “kata time” we would yell (in an excited voice) “It’s KATA TIME!”  and the kids knew to yell back “oh boy sir!”( and jump up and down in an excited fashion).  You see, it’s all about habits. How do we train our brain to approach different situations? How do we respond?

I used to say that I was “not a morning person” and that I had seasonal affective disorder but the experience working with the karate school taught me to change my thinking.  I decided that I needed to change my approach and embrace things that were not easy for me such as mornings and winter.  So, here I am at 530am today on December 26th, forcing myself to wake up early and think about how I want to start my day while sitting next to the Christmas tree drinking my coffee and saying a prayer.  I could stayed in bed til the kids woke up when they would shake me and begin asking me for all the things that they needed…but I know that starting the day that way doesn’t work well for me (or for anyone for that matter). 

So, as the new year approaches I am encouraged to pray for a good perspective and healthy habits, habits that allow me to see Mondays as a fresh start to my week (instead of a dreaded day of going back to work) and the new year as an exciting time for reflection and of course opportunities for growth.  I pray for the ability to recognize that my life is a result of my choices and my perspective.  I can choose to blame others for my challenges or I can see that my life is the sum of my habits.  There are always opportunities for change and a better life if I choose it.
So instead of agonizing over Christmas being over and those long winter days,  I choose to celebrate boxing day this December 26th...a chance to get in the ring and embrace my life full of choices and habits that create a better life.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Drop the Guilt

If you are a mom, you probably often assume the role of feeling guilt....constantly.....

If you work outside the home, you feel guilty for sending your kids to childcare.  If you stay home with the kids, you feel guilty because you think you may be able to contribute more financially if you worked outside the home.  When you walk past the organic aisle at the grocery store you feel guilty for not giving your kids organic food yet if you shop all organic you feel guilty for having a high grocery bill. 

Why do we do this to ourselves?  When are we going to start thinking like a man and just accept ourselves and the decisions we make and start being nicer to ourselves?

Recently, I started feeling guilty because I have been wanting to wake up earlier to start my day yet I haven't been able to make it happen.  I talked to my therapist about it and she said, "Well, if you want to wake up earlier then you need to take off time in the evening for sleep and reorganize your day."  After she said that I shifted my thinking and asked myself if it's REALLY something I wanted then I accepted things for the moment without feeling guilty. 

Every decision that we make in our lives is based on facts, evaluation, and looking at other options.  Once we make the decision, why not trust and let go??  In addition, we tell our children to be kind to others (and even themselves) yet we are our own worst enemy! Why? 

We have choices.  If you're feeling guilty about not staying home with your children (for instance), make a list of the pros and cons of each situation then remember that you have choices.  Remember all the things you are able to provide because you've made the decision to work and then accept yourself and the choices you've made.  If that's not acceptable to you, start a plan to make a change.  But for today, be proud of the choices you've made and accept yourself fully...without the guilt!!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Looking for Signs...

If you are anything like me you are constantly praying for signs from God to guide you in the right direction.  You want to be happy.  You want to be healthy and you want to live life to the fullest.  You want confirmation that that the choices you are making are good ones.  You want to continue in the direction of your dreams.....

I am writing this article on my 6 year wedding anniversary.  Technically, it is still my anniversary (since we are still married) but a year and a half has passed since my ex and I have separated.  This past weekend my amazing friend was kind enough to invite the girls and I down for a long weekend at the beach.  It's been a really long time since I've been at the beach so I was BEYOND thrilled to not only be near the ocean but spend quality time with my kids.  Yesterday, we decided to take a trip to Cape May to show the girls the lighthouse and see the shops.  Cape May also happens to be the place where I got married 6 year ago, got engaged, and also spent many family vacations with my ex husband and my kids.  I was excited because Cape May has always been one of my favorite places in the world but I didn't realize how many memories of my marriage would come flooding back.  Fortunatly, the bad memories were reminders that things weren't as great as I had always pretended them to be and a reminder that I was now living a truthful life.  But the great memories were something I thought I would cherish forever and they were fading.  Tears were filling my eyes as I hid beyond my sunglasses.

What happened next was right out of a John Cusack movie...
only no beautiful ending...
This ending only left my friend and myself scratching our heads....

We were driving around with the girls looking for a Wawa so we could get coffee.  The GPS took us way off track and down by the ocean-down a road I didn't really want to drive.  We ended up driving right past where my ex proposed.  I told my friend what was on my mind and shared with her what had happened in that exact spot 8 years ago.  Tears started filling my eyes, not because I wished that we were together again but because that fairytale romance was no longer alive.  The life of me being with my price charming and living happily ever after has now ended in bitter text messages and a nasty divorce settlement. 

But what happened next was beyond crazy...

I looked over and saw a man running.  He stopped to cross the road and looked right at me.  It was my ex, the person who proposed to me 8 years ago in that very spot, and married me 6 blocks away on a Friday just like today.  It was the person that I am technically still married to.  We looked at each other completely confused and I pulled over to allow the girls to say hello.  He ran over and kissed the girls and said hello.  We chatted like out normal cordial chatter during drop offs for the kids....

but my head was spinning....

I said goodbye and got back in the car and my friend and I were completely in shock....disbelief actually.  I tried to make sense of it all.  Why am I here right in this moment.  Was there a lesson to be learned? 

Life is crazy.  We're constantly looking for signs from God.  We're looking for answers to life's mysteries and of course we all want to know what God wants from us. 

It's confusing.

It's frustrating.

It's a grieving process.  I'm still grieving the perfect little family that I had always hoped for that has now been redirected.  I know that one day I will find new love and I will put this behind me...

But somedays I still wish that God had given us the tools to make things work.  I mean, I know that we are both good people.  We both go to church.  We both love our children immensely and we even had so much in common.  Yet it wasn't our destiny that we grew old together.   

I'm not sure why we ran into each other but I will pray and try to make sense of it all just like I do with all the things that seem to confuse me in my life! Sometimes I just wish life came with a little map....not a clearly defined route...just one that gives me clear directions when I'm lost.  I know that we aren't going to get back together.  I know that's not even a life I want anymore.  But this particular scenario left me scratching my head asking "why?"

I may not know what my journey will look like.  I know I'm going to make many more mistakes in my life but the truth is that my starting place and my ending place is all I really need to know.  I can map my own destiny but the journey is not for me to know.  It's all about me trusting in God, working hard to do the right things, and enjoying the ride.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Recess, Bus, and Everything in Between..

We know our children are going to school.  We know they will have adult supervision...most of the time.  But what happens in between? What happens when the teacher isn't looking or the bus driver isn't paying attention?  How will your child handle challenging situations?  What if your child forgets to get off at his stop?

Teasing, bullying, fighting, and of course peer pressure are all things our children are exposed to when teachers aren't looking.  BUT before you start having a mild heart attack-think about all the opportunities for growth!  Even though these things can be scary, it can also be exciting and a tremendous learning experience.  It's important, however, that your children feel that they can talk to you about any problems they may be experiencing.

Here is a possible dialogue..

"You know Suzie, this is the first time you will be riding a school bus.  How do you feel about that?"
If Suzie says she nervous or scared...
You could say...
"That's o.k! It's normal to be scared about new things!  Mommy gets scared too.  Remember when I started a new job? I was really nervous because I wasn't sure if I would like the people I worked with or if they would like me. Remember when you first started dance classes and you held onto Mommy's leg because you were scared? What happened after you went into to dance class? Was it scary?"

These are important conversations to have with children to open the door for communication.  Of course, always remind kids that they can come to you to talk about any problems they are having at school or on the bus.  But remember that your children WILL get teased, be exposed to peer pressure, and maybe even bullied but that's ok-it's a part of growing up.

** Car rides are a great opportunity to ask your child about any issues he may be having with friends or at school-this can feel less threatening than a face to face conversation.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Realities of Back to School

                                                                         This image is from Altaf Qadri  The Sacramento Bee

It's Just a Test Drive...

Today I woke up with anxiety and I was feeling completely overwhelmed.  I started the list in my head of things I needed to get done in 24 hours before the kids come back and the list was so overwhelming.....I had no idea where to start.  I walked outside to realize that it was a gorgeous, beautiful day but my thoughts about what I needed to get done forced me back in a dark and lonely place. 
I should be enjoying this day....what is wrong with me???
After a few hours of feelings sorry for myself (and driving around to yard sales aimlessly to avoid all the things I needed to do) I called my friend and began sobbing...
"I am SO overwhelmed! I need to buy a bed for Jax TODAY because she keeps crawling out of her crib and I don't know how to take the crib apart!  My house is a mess so I need to clean it!  I have so much work to do on my business!  My car keeps having problems and the dealership down the street is offering great deal so I have to go there and buy a car today.  I am FREAKING out!"  My logical and realistic friend says, "WHAT!? What the hell are you talking about?! First of all, go to the dealership and just take a test drive! You don't have to buy the car, just take a test drive! Calm down!"

Just take a test drive.  Hmmmm....

Then my friend starts talking about a problem she was having with a new boyfriend of hers.  She wanted to figure out if he was marriage material.  "Relax" I said, "Just take a test drive!"

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

5 Ways to Squeeze In Fun During the Last Days of Summer

1.  Take a moon walk.  After it gets dark, take a walk with your kids and talk about the moon, stars, and fireflies. 
2.  Water Fun.  I know getting wet can seem like a big hassle but kids love it!  Take a few hours, put your bathing suit on and let loose a little with a sprinkler or water balloons....the kids will love it.
3.  Ice Cream.  Try a new ice cream shop in your area and take a taste test to see what the best ice cream shop is in your area.
4.  Surprise Adventure.  Blind fold the kids and take them somewhere fun like the neighborhood firehouse and give them clues about where they might be.
5.  Outdoor movie.  Many of the parks in my area are offering outdoor movies through September for free.  Check out your local township websites to see what they offer.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Helping Children Through Transitions

Some children have a difficult time with transitions like back to school or going between Mommy's house and Daddy's house.  This is normal for children who like structure and routine and are afraid of uncertainty. 
If you are going on a business trip, sending your child to their other parent's house, or sending them off for their first day of school....draw a little heart on their hand to remind them that you love them and are always thinking of them!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Fall Trends I'm Excited About...


WINTER WHITE   Yes, you can wear it after Labor day


Monday, July 29, 2013

10 Things Every Single Guy Should Know About Their Online Dating Profile

1.  You know that little box that says 'What age range range your interested' in your profile? Yeah, well we look at that  and if you’re 'interested in' women that are more than 10 years younger than you, first you grossly overestimate your “punt coverage” (and I do mean gross). Secondly, we question your intentions and will probably not even look at your profile.

2.   We look at pictures and what's in the background too.  Think about what is behind you in your pictures because we assume it’s your house and look to see if your house is clean. :)

3.       If you don’t have a picture, we assume you’re married (or hiding something).

4.       Nice girls don’t care about the car you drive (which you don’t state in your profile but sneak it into your pictures) but we do notice that your insecure enough to try to sell yourself by your extravagant lifestyle.

5.       The first few sentences of your “about you” tell us what’s most important to you.  If you write about how important chemistry is in the first few sentences of your profile then we stop reading and assume you prioritize looks over other important things.

6.       We get a million emails/winks/favorites/views and if you don’t grab our attention we will probably skip right over you.

7.       Just because we have “viewed you” does not mean that we want to date you.  Be Real.

8.       If you are over 30 and have never been married, you better have a good reason in your profile or we’re going to assume you have issues-not saying you do, that’s just what we assume.

9.       You can say that you’re outgoing and generous but why not write about what you actually do with you time? If you say your funny, why not say something funny to show your sense of humor?

10.   EVERY guy says that they don’t want drama in their profile.  It’s pretty funny actually!  You are looking for a woman, right?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Romantic Comedy?

There are so many days when I say to myself, "It's not supposed to be like this."  The truth is breakups in your 20's are heartwrenching.  Breakups in your 30's with 2 kids in tow is devasting.

Everyone knows those romantic comedy movies that pull on your heart strings.  Remember the movie The know the part when Noah says, “So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be really hard. We’re gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, for ever, you and me, every day. Will you do something for me, please? Just picture your life for me? 30 years from now, 40 years from now? What’s it look like? If it’s with him, go. Go! I lost you once, I think I can do it again. If I thought that’s what you really wanted. But don’t you take the easy way out.”  Remember Bull Durham,  “Well, I believe in the soul, the small of a woman’s back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.”

What about one of my favorites, When Harry Met Sally. When he says to her, "I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle in your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."

Am I naive to think that this kind of love might really exist for me again??  I had it before and I want it again.  I don't think I'm bitter about what's happened in my past-they are only lessons learned-at least on most days.

Anyway, these movies all leave you with a feeling of hope-a feeling that you too might find that wonderful dreamy love we all yearn for even if we have to go through heartache.  But these scenes are made by beautiful actors who overcome these tragedies and end up dying in the arms of their loved ones. 
But what about me?  What about those moments when my four year old comes into my room at 6am and starts crying for me to get out of bed and all I can do is beg her to please give Mommy 10 more minutes and hand her my phone to play a game because I can't find the energy to lift my head up and face the day.  What about all those dates that you go on and think that it's love at first sight and then get crushed by date 3 when you find out that you weren't meant to be together at all? What about those times when all you want is for someone to ask about your day and hold you and tell you that everything is going to be OK.  What about those times when you don't know if you will ever find love again?

I consider myself to be a very trusting and faithful Christian but it's so hard sometimes to understand what I am supposed to learn from these lonely, desperate times when it takes everything I have to put one foot in front of the other. 

I have met many other single people and I see them hurting as much as me....maybe even more.  They want more than anything in this world to be loved.....just simply loved.  But why can't it be that simple? Why does it have to be so complicated? Why are there so many lonely people in this world feeling the same exact way?  Why can't God give these people the tools they need to build a life they want and have a successful relationship?

What about Dirty Dancing, when Baby says, “Me? I’m scared of everything. I’m scared of what I saw, I’m scared of what I did, of who I am, and most of all I’m scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I’m with you.”

I am 36 years old.  I thought by this age I would have so much figured out but divorce has humbled me and made me question everything.....everything.  I often feel like I am building myself from the ground up and I can't see 2 feet in front of me.  Like I am in one of those whack a mole games when you keep trying to come up and someone keep whacking you back down. 

One more of my favorite movie quotes from the movie Love Actually...
"But for now, let me say — without hope or agenda, just because it’s Christmas and at Christmas you tell the truth — to me, you are perfect. And my wasted heart will love you. Until you look like this [picture of a mummy]. Merry Christmas.”

Well, I sit here pouring my heart and soul out into this post in the hopes that I might empty all these hurts from my heart and make room for love and joy.....but of course I would be happy for even just some contentment and strength to pick my head up and brave through the road ahead.   

You know what I hate the most? I hate that I question everything now.  I question if my marriage was a happy one, I question if I should have done things differently, I question what I can bring to someone new.  I question my purpose and my priorities and I even question who I am.  I question who will read this and if I shouldn't be writing this.

So, basically this post has no point, no agenda, no reflection or aha moment.  This post is simply a broken hearted me pouring my heart out on my laptop with tears running down my face in the hopes that one day there will be someone I meet that is perfectly not perfect.  Someone who is humble, loving, gentle, kind, honest, and makes me want to be a better person.  Someone who cares enough to ask me the right questions when I'm being an idiot, and hold me tight when I'm angry and tells me everything will be alright.  I want to be dry under the umbrella while someone I love keeps me out of the pouring rain.

I'm fully aware that romantic comedy's aren't real but just for today I want to experience the passionate, crazy, vulnerable love that exists in my imagination.  I am so tired of dating the wrong people and wasting my valuable time on people that aren't right for me.  I want my life to be an etch a sketch and shake it like crazy and start everything over.

I will end with a quote from the movie Notting Hill, "Don’t forget I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” Will it ever be that simple?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Climbing the Mountain

Some days seem so long. I literally feel like I hold in my frustrations about 500 times on those days.  Today was one of those days.  I know that my daughter was testing me and I know that I need to stay in control but the temptation to yell and freak out was often at the forefront. 
But I didn't and the pay off is huge!  All those little times that I maintained my grace and helped my daughter problem solve effectively allows me to be able to go to sleep at night with a clear conscience and no guilt.  I often need to remind myself that when I get to the top of the mountain after a long day, a lesson is learned, power is regained, and my relationship with my daughter grows stronger than ever.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Turning Regrets Into Lessons Learned

Our journey on this earth is a series of lessons and triumphs.  We make a lot of great decisions (and many bad ones) but all the choices that we have made have led us to be the empathetic, understanding people that we are today.  There is a story going around about a woman regretting that she stayed at home with her kids and didn’t continue working  After I read the article I thought about all the moms out there that walk around with regrets.  Regrets about staying at home, regrets about working, regrets about staying in an unhealthy marriage, regrets about not being patient with their children…..and the list goes on and on and on.

What is the point of continuing to hold onto our regrets? If the reason is that you don’t want to do it again, why not change your ways and move on?  Regrets are burdens- they carry weight keeping you from moving on to bigger and better things.     

 Regrets are simply punishments that we place on ourselves.  But aren’t we already paying the price of the mistake we made by not having the outcome that we wanted?  Why punish ourselves with regret?  If you regret something you did to another person (like your children) then change your ways today.  Replace old behaviors with new ones and teach your children to live life to the fullest. 

Our life experiences make us who we are and our mistakes can actually be a good thing.  Mistakes are our “lessons learned” and make us grow and become better people.  The most successful people have made the biggest mistakes so I challenge you to embrace your journey that has made you the person you are and turn your regrets into ‘lessons learned’. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

4 Important Questions You Need to Ask Your Kids to Ensure a Drama Free Summer

It's only been a week into the summer vacation for some of my friends' kids and I'm already seeing posts on Facebook about how the parents don't know how they are going to survive these long dog days of summer with the kids.  Why not come up with some plans and ground rules now so that everyone is on the same page.  Here are some ideas to help you along.

1.  Ask your children what their plan is for the summer-don't except "I don't know" for an an answer....either they pick or you pick what things they will be doing.  I'm not saying they need to be entertained all summer but there are inexpensive camps and also many job opportunities that can keep kids busy (and out of trouble!)

2.  When your child comes to you with a complaint about their brother or sister (i.e." Jake just called me a mean name!") Instead of continuously stepping in to problem solve, try asking the child who comes to you if they asked their brother or sister WHY they said that and if they told them how it makes them feel.  We sometimes get in a habit of putting out fires when we could actually just start giving them tools to handle the process without involving you....and of course...that IS the ultimate goal......right!?

3.  Have a family conversation now about how much technology will be used this summer.  Involve your children in the decision.  You might be surprised to hear that they want to use devices less as well!

4.  Ask them what chores THEY would like to do while they are home for the summer!  The summer can be very long and if kids are not chipping in to do their part of housework it can make things very tough on parents.  Give them a list of things that need to be done and have them choose 10.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Chutes and Ladders

Life is like a game of Chutes and Ladders.  You're constantly working to go up and sometimes no matter how hard you try, you catch the chute that leads you right back to where you started.  When my husband and I decided to split, I found myself slipping down that long chute and as much as I tried to hang on to the sides and climb up the chute, God had other plans.  He needed me to get to the bottom and work myself up.  I felt like I had no control, powerless and useless.  I had to start doing my own finances, go through all the stuff that was left behind, figure out if I could afford to stay at home with my kids, and grieve.  But I didn't have time to grieve.  I had 2 little ones, ages 7 months and 4 years old.  How would I ever get through it?  I felt like my hopes and dreams were destroyed.  But things always get better and of course they have.

The answer is I just did it.  Just put one foot in front of the other and trusted in God.  Things have got better.  I have my budget figured out and custody is figured out. 
Whatever life struggle you're going through, remember that you're not alone.  Everyone has struggles at different points in their lives and you can still move up those ladders and of course enjoy the game along the way.  Although sometimes we can't help what number we get when we spin the wheel but we can choose weather we enjoy the game or become bitter because we can't get where we want... and also who we play the game with! 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Mommy Entourage: Despicable Me 2 Giveaway! In Theaters July 3rd!

Mommy Entourage: Despicable Me 2 Giveaway! In Theaters July 3rd!: Despicable Me was such a huge hit nationwide, we are thrilled to be able to offer advanced screening passes to see Despicable Me 2 before ...

10 Ways to Raise a Prince Charming

1.  Marry Prince Charming or spend time with good male role models.
2.  Pull the car over and share the appreciation of a beautiful sunset so he will also appreciate beauty.
3.  Don't worry about spilled milk, show more appreciation than frustration.
4.  When he makes mistakes, remind him how he's overcome mistakes before and ask him what he can do to better the situation.  Tell him you make mistakes often.
5.  Turn off your phone and spend quality time with the people that matter most...your prince.
6.  Catch him doing something nice and act like he just he just invented the light bulb....children pay attention when things are dramatized.
7.  Tell him you love him....every least once every day!
8.  Give him words to articulate his feelings and ask him how he feels.
9.  Teach empathy and model patience. This balance can create empowerment and productivity.
10.  Finally, teach him that rescuing the princess is actually MEANS sharing life with an amazing person that loves and respects you.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tough Mother....I Mean Tough Mudder!!

This weekend I survived the Tough Mudder....10 grueling miles of hills in Northeast, PA coupled with 13 crazy obstacles.  Aside from childbirth, this was the hardest thing I have EVER done (including my black belt test....shhhhh...don't tell me sensei)  But this was really the coolest thing I have ever done!
I originally signed up for this race so that I would have something to train for (and make me commit to working out) before bathing suit season rolls around. And honestly, as a single girl, the thought of thousands of strong, muscular men covered in mud climbing walls and ducking under barb wire was a perk ;)....But I didn't expect it to be so fun. I asked my Mom to take care of my girls for the day (and honestly she had a tougher day than me!) and I got in the car heading for the hills of Schnecksville, PA. 
This is me in the car ride heading to the Mudder!

My adrenaline was racing from the moment I got there and when the announcer gave us an amazing
motivational speech about never giving up and doing this for our wounded veterans, I knew that I was hooked into this "Tough Mudder thing".

One of the toughest obstacles of the day...
Mt. Everest

Who says mommy's can't have fun???
Yes, that's me jumping in the air!!


By the time I finished, I had made new friends and definitely a new perspective that didn't just stay on that beautiful mountain in Schnecksville, PA.  I began teaching my daughter about never giving up.  I told her the story about how scared I was when I was getting ready for the race but I didn't give up.  I taught her that mommy's can be strong, brave and do things for other people who need help ( she's only 4 so I didn't explain the whole veteran thing). 

The next day I went out with my girlfriend for dinner.  I was covered in bruises...but still had a bit of a Tough Mudder body!  I'm pretty sure I'm a mudder for life.