Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Cool New Years Eve Crafts for Kids

Friday, December 26, 2014

When to Face the Truth

I have to admit, I've recently been having challenges with my children.  I've let the rope out WAY too far and needed a wake up call.  My children and I were recently invited out with some family members to spend time together and then go out to eat dinner at a local restaurant.  There was a lot going on that day and I won't get into all the details but here's the point.  My kids were not behaving and it was my fault. 
There are times in life when kids misbehave for a variety of reasons...maybe they are sick, tired, there's a misunderstanding, or they just make bad decisions just like all of us do.  This time however, it was my fault.  The kids were throwing tantrums, talking back, and not listening at all.  Why? Because I was feeding into their bad behaviors without even realizing it and rewarding their bad behaviors.
When I left the party, I was mad at the person that was treating us to lunch (because of some of the comments she was making about the kids behavior and how I was reacting to them).  Funny how we can spin something to feel better about ourselves..isn't it?  I decided to confront this person over the phone the next day and the conversation quickly went in a direction I did NOT expect.  She said, "Your children's behavior was not acceptable at our house the other day."
"EXCUSE ME?" I quickly defended myself and my children.
She responded by saying, "You are letting them control everything and rewarding their bad behaviors constantly with attention!"
I was shocked. I was mad.  How could she say something like this? I am a single mom doing the best that I can!? PLUS, the advice she is giving me is what I tell OTHER families during my social work and nanny days.  This is what I talk about on my blog!!! OMG! She was right!! How did I let this happen?! 

I hung up the phone and processed the conversation for a few hours.  I cried a lot.  I realized that I was getting in a pattern of babying my kids without even realizing it.  At one point she said, "Do you realize that your children aren't 1 and 3, they are 3 and 5!!" Shit.  She was right.  I later apologized and felt horrible that I let this happen.  We talked for a while about some of the things I was dealing with in my life and also why I was letting my children behave this way.
For me, it's so easy to get a pattern where we just distract our kids instead of holding our ground.  We may even start negotiating instead of saying a firm no when needed.  We get tired and give into things without thinking it through and then they learn that we don't mean what we say.  We give them too much rope and try to reason with them as if they are adults.  But it ends up making things worse.  So much worse.  Sometimes we need someone daring enough to be honest and tell us what everyone else is probably saying.  I respect that.

The next few days I began changing my ways.  It hasn't been easy (and I know I will slip back into old patterns at times) but I'm really grateful for someone to be honest with me and tell me to step it up.  I've already seen a difference in my children's behavior and I'm sure it will continue to improve.  Sometimes we need someone to give us a wake up call.  We need to be told what we can change in order to make things better and if we're not open or receptive we will never be able to improve as parents or as people in general.  I truth is, I had sought out advice (from my inner circle) about the struggles I was having with my kids.  The problem is that these are the people that always tell us what a great job we're doing and are our biggest cheerleaders....which is good because we often need support.  They may be scared to give us parenting advice in case it affects the friendship.  Often, they may be the kind of people who make the same mistakes we do and don't even realize what we're doing.  I'm learning to really be open to people that aren't afraid to give me the cold hard truth.  God knows I need it.
The truth is, it really does take a village to raise a child...and it takes a village to raise a Mommy.

FAST FORWARD 3 weeks and things are MUCH better.  We still have our challenging times but I'm learning to focus my attention more on positive behavior and ignoring other attention seeking behavior (especially from my 3 year old).  As a parent, it's often so hard to figure out when to help our kids through struggles, when to ignore, or when to discipline certain behaviors.  I have a feeling that those challenges will always be difficult to decide (even when the kids are older!)  However, I realized that I needed to face the truth and step up to the plate a bit.  It wasn't easy to hear but my kids and I are happier with more structure and discipline in our home...it's what we needed.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dealing with loneliness during the holidays

I wrote this article 2 years ago around the holidays and I think some of you that are feelings lonely can relate...


Single life is weird.  One minute I am feeling empowered, happy, and free to do whatever I want..
and the next moment I feel like this...
And then come the holidays...I think Charlie Brown said it best... "I almost wish there weren't a holiday season. I know nobody likes me. Why do we have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?"

Then I think about my ex...
I sure do hope he's as sad as I am right now.
I've asked my therapist if she thinks I am crazy? Maybe mania or personality disorder? "No," she says, "Just going through a divorce."
I was talking to a guy who had served in Iraq as a Marine and he was telling me a story about how his mom asked him if he needed anything one day and he said, "Mom, I've been through combat and a failed a failed marriage! I can handle it!" So of course I asked him, "Which was harder?" to which he replied, "the failed marriage". 
Yes, I know everyone says..
So how do I turn that pain into growth? If I was Carrie Bradshaw from Sex in the City I could write all day and night and wear super cute shoes, date super hottie guy named Big, and go drinking martinis with my friends.
BUT I 'm not.
So, maybe I should go down the street and make this guy my friend...
Nope, the bartender down the street is not that cute and I don't even think he looks as friendly as this guy.
Then my mind starts to drift as I stare at the three Christmas stockings hung on the mantle...
But remember Toni...they weren't good and you weren't happy!!!
oh yeah...
 So, why am I so jealous when I see friends all dressed up going to fancy Christmas dinners for their husbands work parties...
Sometimes, I just want to feel pretty.
I want to NOT be in the drivers seat for one minute.....I don't want to be in charge...I want someone else to take care of me just for an hour or so.
I want to be Julia Roberts in Eat, Love, and Pray and just get away.
Or the chic in How Stella Got her Grove Back..
But I'm not.
Then I remember...
Then I remember...I am me and I am great.
Is it true?
Nothing makes me grow more than lonliness and challenging times...IF I choose to let it.
There are so many things I can do to run away and ignore the pain (jumping into another relationship, partying, eating, shopping....)
But none of these things will help me grow....
Pain will help me grow....
Loving me and being my BFF will help me grow...
if I choose to see what's in front of me...
Instead of looking behind at my past..
Instead of focusing on the things I don't have..
I can work on finding my PURPOSE...
you know my reason for being here...
and unlike most Moms...I don't think my reason for being here is to be a Mom.
I think there is a career waiting for me that will help others and make me feel fulfilled.
Something that will make a difference in this world.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Stress

You can still have fun without overdoing it!  Write a letter to yourself about what mistakes you made this year and put it in your decorations box for you to read next year.  For example, take vacations days from work over the holidays or skip the Christmas cards! This way you may not overextend yourself next year!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Kindness Calendar

I believe that the holidays offer parents a wonderful opportunity to teach our kids about GIVING. 
The Kindness Calendar is an advent calendar full of kindness tasks.  My girls love it!  Every day they get a different task such as "Give someone a compliment", "Listen to a friend", or "Tell a teacher you think they are great!".  I believe it's so important to focus on helping others in little ways...if we make kindness a habit, we will be more successful in our lives.

If you want more ideas about creating a kind family, check out my What I like about you video!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A few of my favorite things...from a Health and Wellness coach

One of the things I love doing with my local clients* is going through their pantry to see what they have. The conversation usually starts with the client saying something like, “You don’t want to see what I have.” as they are opening the door or cabinet.  We laugh, and I reassure them that any recommendations I have will start with taking small steps.    

Stocking your pantry with more whole foods takes a little time since most people want to finish what they have already purchased. I like this approach too, because it gives you a little time to get used to including your new ingredients into what you are already making, without feeling overwhelmed. 

Beyond olive oil and brown rice (white rice not only raises your blood sugar levels quickly, it is stripped of 90% of its B vitamins, 60% of iron, and most of its fiber and essential fatty acids) there are lots of wonderful foods to keep on hand that are easy to use and relatively inexpensive.

Following are some of my favorite things that you will find in my pantry, except for the nuts. I keep them in the fridge. Next week I’ll share more of what is in my pantry from healthy sweeteners to vinegars and spices so you too can have everything you need to create healthy meals…easily and quickly.

Beans and Lentils:  
Beans and Lentils are a great source of protein and fiber. I tend to use canned beans and dried lentils. From a nutritional standpoint, the biggest difference between canned and dried beans is the added salt that is in most canned beans. Rinsing the beans will remove about 10% of the sodium or you can try EdenOrganic Beans (found in the organic section or most grocery stores) which contains kombu seaweed instead of salt. They also have BPA free cans.

Quinoa is the only grain that is a complete protein, making it an easy choice for meatless meals. Make sure you rinse quinoa thoroughly before cooking as it contains saponin compounds that can have a soapy taste for some people.

Farro is considered an ancient grain and has a nutty flavor that is great when added to soups or as a side dish. Semi-pearled farro has had some of the fiber and B vitamins stripped during processing but it cooks much more quickly than whole farro.  Honey Spiced Chicken with Cranberry Kale Farro

Organic Popcorn is an easy snack that only takes a moment longer to make than microwave popcorn and doesn’t have all the chemicals added to it. Put about 1 cup of popcorn in a pan with 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Dress your popcorn up with parmesan cheese or spices.

Wheatberries have a sweet nutty flavor (one of my favorites). It is the whole wheat kernel before it gets processed. Like other whole grains they contain a significant amount of B vitamins and many minerals that contribute to a healthier immune system and improved nervous system.

Millet: A gluten free grain, millet is thought to have originated from Africa. It is excellent when cooked like a fluffy rice or creamy like mashed potatoes. Millet is a good source of magnesium, which can contribute to a healthy heart and reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

Pumpkins Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Flax Seeds and Chia Seeds add a kick to smoothies, salads or stir fry’s. Both Chia Seeds and Flax seeds are good sources of omega-3’s. Pumpkins seeds contain Zinc which can help boost your immune system and can kill parasites that may reside in the colon.

Mix almonds, walnuts, pecans and pistachios together for quick and easy protein packed energy snack. I prefer raw nuts as they are less likely to oxidize and the fats become rancid. Almonds are a good source of vitamin E and have a number of nutrients that beneficial for brain health, particularly in children.
Walnuts are a good source of plant based omega-3, are full of antioxidants and contain melatonin which can help you sleep better. Pistachios have a higher protein content than any other nut and the fats in pistachios can help eliminate dry skin.


Want to learn more about Emi?  Check out her website Eat Well, Be Well.

*If you are not local to the Philly area but would like to make changes in what you eat, Skype and Facetime are great ways for us to meet. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Best Things on Pinterest this Week

2.  Follow on Twitter @DulceRuby
6.  Blueberry Oatmeal yogurt pancakes

Cutest Holiday Jokes

Which of Santa's reindeer has bad manners?  Rude-olph!

What do elves learn in school?  The elf-a-bet

What Christmas carol is a favorite of parents?  Silent night

What do snowmen eat for breakfast? Frosted flakes!

What does a cat on the beach have in common with Christmas? Sandy claws

What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?Frostbite!

Where do snowmen go to dance? A snow ball!

How many presents can Santa fit in an empty sack? Only one, after that it’s not empty any more!

What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations? Tinselitus!

What often falls at the North Pole but never gets hurt? Snow!

What is the best Christmas present in the world? A broken drum – you can’t beat it!

Why was Santa's little helper depressed? He had low elf esteem!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

10 signs you are a good mom

How many times in your life do you feel like a 'bad mom'?  You know what I mean.  When you lose your patience in the middle of the grocery store or forget an important event at school. Maybe you give candy for breakfast or you forget to move that damn elf on the shelf.  You wouldn't be human if you didn't occasionally feel like a bad parent but make sure you're not sending these messages to yourself too frequently!  Parenting is tough but it doesn't have to be that complicated.  When we show our children love, patience, and kindness everything usually falls into place.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What I didn't expect to learn in martial arts

When I first started Martial Arts (at age 25), I never thought it would change my life.  I never had any desire to do martial arts and always thought of it as 'learning to fight' which did not appeal to me at all.  A few years after college, I saw a sign for a kick boxing class and decided it was time to lose the 'freshman 15' that was hanging on for dear life to my tush.  I began taking classes and quickly fell in love with Martial Arts.  Not only did I lose the weight (and learned how to kick some ass) but I learned so much about life.  I learned that life is easier when things are simplified.  I also learned that when my life seems out of control, I really need to look at what I'm doing on a daily basis. Am I eating healthy? Am I exercising? Am I surrounding myself with people that motivate me? If we don't fill our gas tanks up with gas in our cars, our cars won't run.  That makes perfect sense, right?  So why are we so surprised when we can't think clearly or feel depressed after putting crap in our bodies, not exercising, or spending too much time with people who aren't 'filling our bucket'?  It doesn't add up.

Martial arts really helped me step back and take responsibility for what's happening in my life. I learned the importance of structure and discipline in so many aspects of my life but more importantly... self discipline.  As Americans, we often want an easy solution to our problems and we'll even spend a fortune for someone to take care of our problems for us.  Don't get me wrong, sometimes we need help and need to make big changes in our lives but it's important that we first look at our daily habits and make sure that the fundamentals aren't what's holding us back.

Theodore Roosevelt said, "With self discipline most anything is possible." and it all begins with baby steps. Sometimes it's as easy as switching a cup of coffee with a tall glass of water in the morning or taking a little walk instead of going on Facebook.  I find church and inspirational podcasts like The 5AM Miracle to be a great way fill my tank when I need some motivation.  Using self discipline will really help you to create a healthier, happier, and more successful life.

If you're looking for a great martial arts program for yourself or your children, I highly recommend Mr. Stuart's Martial Arts in West Chester, PA.  You can learn more by visiting his website Mr. Stuarts Martial Arts.

If you liked this post...check out Do you have what it takes?