Family–and Solo–Fun in New England

With my youngest of four off to Kindergarten, I find myself for the first time in twelve years with actual free time.    Since having kids I have dreamed of a quiet house all to myself, and some days find the idleness that I might have found lonely or boring before, a luxury.  As a busy mom I can multitask like a Tasmanian devil, and give me a few hours with no kids, whew, I can accomplish a lot!   Most days that is, but some days, I must confess, I lose all sense of time management.   I get overwhelmed by all of the possibilities of the things I should be/could be doing with that precious time.   The next thing I know I have fritted away a whole day doing nothing but magazining.   I decided to make a list, of things that I know will feed my soul, for a girl can not live on food shopping, dishes, and laundry in her free time alone. 

The Chihuly exhibit at the Boston Museum of fine Arts. Chihuly’s glass sculpture work is fantastical, whimsical, and like stepping into another world.  Since it is an all glass exhibit, this is definitely something to do without the children. April 10-August 7th

The RISD student/Alumni art sale on Benefit Street in Providence. My inner artist is always inspired by these affordable, creative, and unique finds outdoors on historic Benefit Street.  Find great accessories, jewelry, house wares & art.   There is a sale every Spring, Winter (at the convention center in Providence) and Fall.


April 27th kicked off the season.  I swear this is one of the most magical experiences.  My husband has humored my fantasy of sitting along the edge of the river while holding hands, soaking in the bonfires, and drinking a glass of wine so many times, that he has threatened to push me in the river if I make him do it again.

Wickford Art Festival. July 9th & 10th the charming seaside village of Wickford in North Kingstown, RI hosts hundreds of artists selling their paintings, photographs and sculptures.  Great art deals, and the inspiration of seeing so much creativity gathered in one gorgeous setting makes this a fantastic event.

Green Animal Topiary Gardens Children’s Party. With the feel of an English garden party a la Alice in Wonderland, this one you have to bring your kids with you.   I love the fact that along with the juice and cookie table for kids, free with admission, wine for the grown-ups is also offered.  The topiary garden is right out of Edward Scissorhands, and rolling green lawn leads to a water view.  Bring a blanket and purchase from their BBQ for dinner. Pony rides, a bouncy house, and amazing performances by the likes of the Big Apple Circus and the Toe Jam Puppet band are sure to keep the kids enthralled. July 14th 4-8pm. Get there early for good parking. 380 Corys Lane Portsmouth, RI 02871-1324 – (401) 683-1267



Reading: Good for Your Social Life and Good for Your Kids

Before having children I was an avid reader – and why not? I had lots of unstructured time with which to do what I pleased. When I was single in NYC, there were long subway rides, lazy Sunday mornings in bed, and quiet moments after dinner to while away in the pursuit of a good read. One marriage and four kids later, those days are a distant memory. In fact, we gave up our Sunday New York Times subscription last year because the guilt of not reading it outweighed the sadness of cancelling it. The stacks of New Yorkers around the house, most of which I merely scan, or worse, restack, are enough of a reminder of the time “we used to have” for reading.

I haven’t completely given up on staying abreast of current events, though. In place of the NYT we now subscribe to The Week magazine. This terrific compendium of newsworthy events from around the globe has become a family favorite. It arrives weekly with the most perfectly digestible amounts of information and opinion. Since we made this switch, the most wonderful thing has happened – our kids read it. They also read The New Yorker. It must have something to do with the magazine’s prominent placement in the main loo, but never mind that, they read it and discuss it with us, and that is grand.In fact, when it arrives we all scramble to see who can get a hold of it first. I must say, it’s a hoot to hear my 10 year old recount a strange fact he read that day in an adult conversational style at dinner – a vast improvement over the usual scatological drivel the group can stoop to.

The sad truth is, that when I finally get the four kids to bed, I’m often so zonked, that reading acts like a soporific and puts me right to sleep.  I was becoming increasingly frustrated, not to mention nervous, about the growing tower of books leaning over my head as I slept, many of them with bookmarks in just the first few chapters. I needed a push, and lo and behold, along came the answer: Book Club. This has been a reading lifesaver. Were it not for the incentive that the next meeting date provides, I might never finish a book! There’s something about knowing that if you don’t finish, then you really shouldn’t go to Book Club where you’ll eventually hear the ending of the book discussed. By not attending you would avoid that, but you would also miss out on the company of friends, good wine and yummy food. That’s just unacceptable in my book (ha!). I look so forward to my time with my friends, that to miss any is unthinkable. So, I try to read the book no matter what it takes. Sometimes I sit in the hostess’ driveway until I do. I’ve also seen fellow Book Club pals reading in a wingback in the corner while the social portion is underway, or one time at a school meeting beforehand. Many of us treat it like a requirement for participation (it’s not), and as a result of our determination, we are rewarded by lively discussions and great camaraderie.

Recently, one of my pals from our ‘Reading Between the Wines’ Book Club informed us of a study that was conducted by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development which states, “a mother’s reading skill is the greatest determinant of her children’s future academic success, outweighing other factors, such as neighborhood and family income.”

My eldest

Well, that right there is motivation enough for me! If I can revel in friendship and accomplishment while also improving my child’s chances of scholastic success, then I am more than happy – I’m successful. Maureen wrote here at AMKB about pursuing passion, as did Carla. In my life now, my marriage, my kids, and my friends are my passions, and books are hot on their heels. Through a few adjustments to what I read and how I read, I have been able to keep up with current events and great novels, while deepening my friendships and benefiting my children. A win-win I’d say.

My Chinese fortune cookie the other night said, “The world is a beautiful book for those who read it.”  Yes, so true.

I’d love to hear your stories of book clubs and about any great books you’ve read.


Tiny Prints-Little Business Cards That Make a Big Splash!

business cards

I’ve worked at a lot of places.  And had a lot of business cards.  Working in television, my cards have been pretty standard…until now.  Here’s a glimpse of what my business cards have looked like for the past 15 years or so.  Just switch out the ABC, for CBS, NBC, or FOX…and change the station number;  the cards all pretty much look the same.

Practical...but boring

With the birth of A Mom Knows Best and the upcoming Mom 2.0 conference in NOLA, I knew I wanted something different. Something that showed I’m more than a business woman and a news anchor, something that showed personality.  I couldn’t go wrong with Tiny Prints.  I love the company’s whimsical designs, variety, and can’t- go-wrong approach to selecting and creating business cards.  Now, let me just state, this is my FIRST time ordering business cards myself, someone else has always done it for me.  Tiny Prints made it a breeze, folks.  LOVE THAT!!  Know what else I love?  24/7 live chat…don’t think I didn’t use it, TWICE.  I am a sucker for good customer service (hard to find these days) and Tiny Prints had it.

I chose the “Fresh Logo” folded cards, so I could put the A Mom Knows Best logo on the outside and add my picture to the inside.  To see another awesome Tiny Prints business card, check out Stacy Nerdin’s from Tree, Root, and Twig.  Here’s the outside of my business card.  I mean, are these not the cutest??

A Mom Knows Best business

Choose from polka dots in 4 different colors!


The back of the card has a space for notes (love!)

To say I’m pleased with how the cards turned out is an understatement.  I might try a different card next time, because Tiny Prints has so many fun options, making the possibilities endless.  I also think I’d choose a card where I could include a little bit more text.  But, these were a HUGE hit at Mom 2.0…and they are memorable.  Many thanks to Tiny Prints for helping me out.

As an aside, for those of you wondering why all my pics are blurry…not to worry, new glasses are being ordered.

*Disclosure: I received my business cards from Tiny Prints at no cost in order to facilitate this review.

What is Your Passion?

Artsy CardsWhat is your passion? Do you have one?  I’m rediscovering mine.  I used to love to do artwork many years ago. But somewhere along the way I started to believe I didn’t have time to be creative.  I was too  busy being a  mom.  If that thought didn’t get me, the “mommy guilt” would. If I couldn’t even manage a daily task of cleaning the house, how could I take time to do art? Do you know that feeling?  Believing that you shouldn’t take time for yourself?

What I found was that by continually ignoring my passions, I lost them. What I was left with was a feeling of emptiness. I felt disconnected to myself.  I used to have a pull toward something I would like to do but I continually denied myself the pleasure of doing it. So you know what happened? Finally the pull stopped happening.  My creative spirit gave up trying to guide me to my passion. Suddenly I didn’t even know what I wanted.  Not only were my passions lost, but I was too.

I was left not only with a feeling of emptiness but also a confusion about my identity. I considered myself an artist who used to do art.  How long can you consider yourself something when you are not even doing it? Now of course I am more than just an artist. Feed Your Soul I am a mom, wife, a therapist, a friend, a sister, a neighbor etc etc.  But art was a way I expressed my “self”. I love that feeling of having an idea and then bringing it to a reality.  Drawing isn’t even only about expressing, it’s also about discovering.  When I draw an object I discover its uniqueness.  I also draw as a way to connect to and discover myself.  So how could I get past the excuses and get back to creating?

First I had to realize that saying “I don’t have time” is a cop out.  We make time for what we think is important. Wasn’t my happiness important?  Also, what role model was I setting for my kids? Did I want my daughters to believe that to be a mother you have to be selfless and give up your passions? No, I want my daughter to be happy and feel they can take care of themselves while also caring for others.

So what am I doing now?  I started doing art.  To help inspire myself I joined an art motivation group. They meet once a month. The only instructions are to create and build something around a particular theme.  I promised myself to forget the guilt (and any other judgments I would normally have) and just do something. I just wanted to focus on the fun of doing art. Guess what? I did it! Was it the best artwork I ever did? No, but it was a start.

Interestingly enough,  I drew eggs.  Eggs are a start to life. Maybe those drawings were a start to feeling more alive.  Passion to me is something that makes you feel alive.  It pulls you toward something you like to do or can learn from. I had felt that following my passion would be selfish.  But actually following our passions isn’t selfish.  When we don’t follow our passion our “aliveness” diminishes. When we do follow our passion it makes us a more “full” person.  When I am more alive and “full” I am better able to help others.

What is your passion?  Are you following it? Or have you forgotten it? It’s not too late. Just start small. Even 15 minutes a day, week or month do something you love in order to start the spark.  This month is my birthday. I’m making a commitment to myself to do at least one piece of artwork a month for a year. Of course I’m using the term “artwork” very loosely here.  I’m focusing more on allowing myself the enjoyment of the process and not as much focus on the greatness of the product. I’m focusing on the fun.  Each month I’ll post my attempts.  Remember: no judgments,  just fun!

What is something you can do once a month? One thing you’ve been meaning to do but just haven’t gotten around to doing?  Let’s start the pact together.  Let’s reignite our passion and find where it leads us.

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