Dealing with Real and Imagined Storms

Everyone in New England (and other parts of the world) experienced hurricane Irene…and everyone experienced it differently. I’m not just talking about how the hurricane hit each town (as some were more affected than others). I’m also talking about how each person perceived the storm.  Some people were on a fearful high alert, some were clueless and carefree, and others were somewhere in between.

I would say one of my daughters was on the fearful side.  Even before the storm hit she was thinking of impossible scenarios.  Our imaginations can sometimes be our downfall.  In my daughter’s case, storm or no storm, she often creates what our family now calls “What If” questions. “What if this happens?” or “What if that happens?” with detailed, imaginative scenarios.

Her question before the storm was “What if a tree fell on my bedroom?”. Interesting enough the idea of self-harm didn’t occur to her, just that her room and the stuff in it would be ruined. She was able to describe the image she saw in her head of opening her door and seeing a tree in her room.  Just thinking about it made her upset and on the verge of tears.

Now, as a mom, I can relate to imagining negative scenarios or as I put them, having “worry thoughts”. Sometimes, moms and worries are often synonmous.  But I know that in the long run worries, if left unchecked, can be unnecessary and somtimes harmful. So when I realize I am getting stuck in a worry I try to do something about it.

I have tried to share with my daughters some of the things I do to help myself:

1) I ask myself, “Is this worry really possible”?  Sometimes it’s just my over active imagination creating something which has a slim chance of happening. So I need to let it go.

2) If it could happen, what could I do to help improve the situation?  I usually feel better if I have a plan.

3) Better yet, what could I do to prevent that situation?  For example, if it’s something like a fear that the kids will get hit by car while playing outside, I can do something such as make sure they play away from the road and get one of those yellow ‘kids playing’ signs for the road.

4) After doing my planning, I can then let it go.  Of course this is sometimes easier said than done, though.  Here are some tricks I do to let it go:

I blow the image away.  Yes, one thing that makes us emotional about ideas is that we get attached to them.  So I imagine the image moving away from me.

If you are still having trouble detaching, here’s a trick from a neuropsychologist called Neuro Linguistic Programing.  It’s a study in how to manage our brain for peak performance.  If you’ve heard of Tony Robbins you might know some of the techniques.  One technique is to play with the image.  If the image is bright make it dull. If it’s colorful make it black and white. If it’s scary, change it to make it silly.  The fear images we create in our head aren’t real. They are a story we create in our head. We therefore have the ability to change them. If you were listening to a song on the radio that you hated would you keep listening or change the station?  If you are drawing a picture you don’t like, can’t you change it or start drawing a new one? We can do the same things with the images in our heads.

You can also “Give it up to God”  as some people say.   Often we don’t have control over life and need to accept that. Prayer can be a way of feeling supported and feel that there is something greater than ourselves. You can also use a particular prayer called The Serenity Prayer which is used in AA,  “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Another way of letting go is humor.  Humor helps us detach from a situation and see it in a different way.   When my ideas didn’t work to sooth my daughter regarding the hurricane (or actually help her soothe herself) I took another approach.  I simply observed to her that the image she was thinking about hadn’t happened and look how upset she was.   She replied, “It could happen”.  So I replied, “We could also win the lottery.  Should I dance around like we won the lottery because I can imagine winning?” (insert very silly dance and a celebration as if we won the lottery)”  This brought some giggles.

While my silliness helped my daughter, my own response made me think. How often do we put ourselves in a bad or sad mood over worries about things that haven’t even happened (and often never happen)?  What if we used that energy to imagine positive things that could happen? Imagine our different mindset and feelings if every day we imagined the wonderful things that could happen to us and our kids.  We could also just use gratitude to appreciate the wonderful things, big and small, that DO happen every day.  It’s your choice what you focus on.

Yes, it’s good to be prepared.  But let’s not waste our lives thinking only of worries and missing out on the joy in life.

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” ~Leo Buscaglia

 

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The Benefits of Changing it Up!

change ahead

This has been a year of changes for me. Or shall I say I was forced into making some changes, and now I am embracing those changes and making new ones. I am pretty much a routine kinda girl. I find out what works, and I tend to stick to it. Some people call this anal, I tend to prefer the term disciplined. A back injury last year forced me into some physical activities that did not include running. I did not run for 3 months and then slowly added days back in, with rest days in between, a strategy that I am still employing. However, as any runner will tell you, running is addictive once you get past the point of hating every second. And the withdrawal of running also comes with a withdrawl of those little addictive endorphins, which make you feel so good, you actually forget that running is hard and you go on your next run. And so on, and so on.  So for me to go from running 6 days a week without fail(unless sidelined by pretty much death) for years, to NOT running… was going to take some getting used to.

hot yogaLike I said, I was forced to change, so I decided to take up hot yoga. This was intense hot yoga.Not just your average take it easy but the room will be hot yoga. No, it was more like power yoga at 105 degrees where they practically bolt the doors and encourage you “not to drink” if you don’t have to. I chose to ignore that part since it is already hot in Phoenix and I figure as a “runner” I know my body well and I know when it needs water and when it does not. Plus, that’s easy for you to say when you are just standing inthe front of the class telling me not to drink! Anyway, the class was so intense that it made not running a little bit less sad. Plus, part of the class was a flow period where they played four songs and you basically rocked it out as hard as you could until the seated series. I strengthened muscles I didn’t know I had. I intensified my ability to withstand some serious heat while being very activie, and I was able to unload some stress in the meantime.

And then, well, the classes became harder to get to because of my work schedule, and I couldn’t resist not pushing the poses that I wasn’t supposed to push because of my back so I took up something else. Enter CrossFit. If you have not heard of it, CrossFit is a short but intense workout (45-60) minutes that incorporates a lot of power, strength training, elements of gymnastics, fast-twitch muscle fibers, balance and coordination. It wasn’t a ton of cardio, but what we did was intense and fast. Think push ups, jump rope, deadlifts, overhead presses, box jumps, burpees, sprints with weight, etc….I was sore after Every. Single. Session. It really gave me a boost in my overall strength. I was surprised, however, how much weight some of those ladies could handle, but that many of them could not run a half mile without stopping. There was something to be said for not getting so wrapped up in one activity (for me this was running!) that you lost the benefits that come from crosstraining. Soon though, I could not resist the temptation to push myself on exercises that were not good for my back. I needed to make a change.

I then decided to do something that really scared me. I decided that I could no longer be a 6 day a week runner and I needed a new challenge. So I signed up for a half-ironman distance triathlon in Oceanside next March. Yep, I would be swimming 1.2 miles in the ocean, biking 56, and running 13.1. I’ve never been a swimmer before. I dabbled in it once for about 3 months or  a few years ago, but this was going to require some serious prep. And some extra hair washing and drying… that gets really old (yes, I am a girl). But you know what? Yesterday (after my 15th time or so in the pool), I actually enjoyed it! It started to flow and I felt that Zen feeling that I can sometimes get when I run. Don’t get me wrong, I still have goggle issues, I look really dumb in a swim cap and I am super scared for the beginning of that swim. All the hitting and kicking in the face, the feeling of getting pulled under, the shallow out of control breathing at first, it scares the heck out of me. But I think it will make the completion of it that much sweeter.

I also signed up to hike the 7 Summits of Phoenix. It was a one day, 23 mile hike that I had never done before. Normally I would be in marathon training mode and therefore would not have wanted to forgo my Saturday long run for something like this. But I did. And it was great. I did it with some fabulous friends and it was not competitive at all! I don’t even know what our time was. It was great to be physically exhausted without the stress or goals that I usually place on myself when competing.

7 Summits

I signed up to be a pacer for a “Girls on the Run” program where I run next to a 3rd grade girl for her first 5 k! It will feel so great to encourage her to do her best and to give some of my time to hopefully help this girl develop a love for running, or at least make her feel strong and able bodied in hope that she can carry that in her pocket and call on it when she needs to.

Not all my changes have been physically based. I decided to respond honestly when asked “how are you?” I decided not to sweat so much of the small stuff. I am not perfect, I don’t have to be. I can have friends over and be undecided regarding what to make. I can (gasp!), not serve an appetizer. I can let my kids dress themselves in outfits that I don’t particularly like and let them walk out the door. I can skip a workout. I can ask my husband to lighten the load. I can slow down, mess up, and downright suck. It’s okay, the world will not end.

Elenor Roosevelt once said, “Do one thing per day that scares you.” And although one per day may be pushing it for me, I think there is something to be said for shaking things up a bit. It makes you sit a little straighter, pay more attention and be more adaptable. And if I fail? Well, the failure really is in the not trying.

Matters of The Heart

heart disease

I had to look away as the needle plunged into my skin, I hate needles, and as I felt the pinch, (admittedly not as bad as I expected) I remembered that I was not supposed to have eaten before I came. Not only did I forget to fast before checking my cholesterol, but I had also polished off a McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (don’t judge me!) just moments before.   To save myself a trip back to the lab, and needle…and o.k. the disapproving look of the phlebotomist, I decided not mention my lunch.  The following week I got a congratulatory note from my doctor on my excellent cholesterol count!

That was almost a year ago and I’d been feeling pretty confident about my good health since.  Until today.  I went to an event planning committee meeting for the Go Red for women campaign.  Go Red is a campaign by the American Heart Association that serves to heighten awareness of the risks of heart disease in women.   We were shown a great 3-minute movie called ‘Just A Little Heart Attack’ which I think every busy mom could identify with.   Then I heard a survival story from a woman who suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.  She had been around my age, fit, with healthy cholesterol levels and blood pressure.  She was slim, ate well, and exercised regularly.  The fact that she survived at all is amazing, 95% of women who suffer a heart attack do not.

Watching the movie and then listening to her speak, the message hit home.  It actually could happen to someone like me (I don’t eat McDonald’s that often, honestly!).  A representative from the American Heart Association then rattled off some pretty startling statistics.  Heart Disease is the number one killer of women over the age of 25, and every year it kills more women than men.  Yikes! Like many other people I had believed heart disease to be more of a risk for older, unfit men.  Clearly not!  The good news is that with lifestyle modifications in diet and exercise, the risks of heart disease can be greatly reduced.   I left the meeting this morning armed with all sorts of new information,  and as soon as I got home I went for a run!

How do you keep your heart healthy?

 

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VTech Connect-to-Cell Phone System (Home Phone Convenience Without the Cost!)

Vtech connect to cell

Maybe I’ve been out of the loop, but I didn’t even know a product existed that allowed you to use your cell phone like a home phone.  My family hasn’t had a landline in four years; we just didn’t think it made sense.  I have to admit, though, sometimes the mad search for my ringing cell phone is frustrating.  By the time I find it, the person has hung up!  My friends and family complain that I’m the hardest person to get a hold of, but it’s impossible to be glued to my cell phone at all times.  Even if it is by my said, I often need two hands to do housework, play with my daughter, or get ready.  So when VTech’s Connect-to-Cell Phone System showed up at my door, I couldn’t wait to try it!  Even my husband (who rarely comments on anything associated with my blog) thought the system was brilliant.  Then again, this was something he could really benefit from since he works from home.

Key features of the VTech DS6421-3 Connect-to-Cell:

  • Push-To-Talk acts as a multiple handset walkie talkie system to instantly communicate with any or all of the handsets within the system.
  • HD Audio provides an extended frequency band allowing for the signal to be reproduced and tuned for a fuller and clearer sound.
  • Make and receive landline and cellular calls – Connects to BLUETOOTH enabled cell phones to make and receive calls with the ease  of a home phone system. Two cell phones can be actively connected to the base. Cell calls can be made or received from either of these two active cell phones. Pair four different cell phones to the base unit.
  • Voice Announce Caller ID audibly announces the name and number of the caller on all of the handsets and base unit. (how cool is that??) No need to find the handset to see who is calling.   Makes screening calls that much easier (love it!)
  • With the touch of a button, the handset speakerphones makes hands-free conversations easy.
  • Expandable up to 12 handsets using only one phone jack.
  • Access your cellular phonebook directory – Download your cellular phonebook directory to this cordless phone system.  Dial a landline or cellular call from the directory for easy access. Stores over 6000 directories from up to four different cell phones. No need to input names and numbers into your cordless phone. (Thank Goodness!)
  • Pair four different cell phones (or headsets) and have two devices actively connected. Cellular calls can be made or received from either of the two active cell phones. Landline service not required, works great for cellular only households.

There are so many more great features, you can check them out for yourself, by going to VTech’s website here.

As the holidays approach, I knew things around the house would be getting even busier–and messier–making all the features of VTech’s phone system that much more appealing.

In a recent holiday survey, Vtech found:

  • 46% of respondents said they would spend more time with family/friends if they had an extra set of hands to get things done (51% of all females); higher with moms at 48%.  37% of respondents said clean the house quicker; 47% of moms
  • 31% of respondents said phone calls ranked the highest as the biggest distractions to getting more done at home during the holidays.  24% of respondents (48% of moms and 40% of dads) said kids needs/events
  • 81% of respondents (92% of parents) ranked a device that could help you multi-task and get more things done  as very/somewhat important

I guess I’m not the only frazzled parent out there who wishes I had more hands!  After trying out VTech’s Connect-to-Cell phone system, I’m thinking it might just be the perfect gift for some of those hard to buy for people on my list this year.

Disclaimer:  I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of VTech and received a product sample to facilitate my review.  As always, all opinions–good and bad–are my own.

 

Our Little Miracle, Born at 24 Weeks

preemie

I will never forget the day we got the call from my sister-in-law, Jill.  She was in the hospital and had just had her baby.  How could that be? She was only 24 weeks pregnant? The terror in her voice was palpable. My husband and I felt helpless.  We were in Cleveland, Ohio, where my husband was going through his own health scare with cancer and my sister-in-law was thousands of miles away in Arizona.  To top it off, it was right around the holidays.  Little John weighed 1 pound 8 ounces, when he was born, and was 12 inches long. He spent 110 days in the NICU before coming home on March 20, 2006. John is a true miracle and an inspiration to all that meet him!  You can read more about his amazing story here (grab the tissue!)

More than half a million American babies are born prematurely each year.  That’s a staggering 1,400 babies born prematurely in the United States every day. Because premature babies immune systems haven’t had time to fully mature, preterm infants are more likely to develop infections.  Preemies have underdeveloped lungs, so they are more susceptible to respiratory problems.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a highly contagious virus which is quite prevalent during the winter months. It is transmitted primarily by hand-to-nose, hand-to-mouth, and hand-to-eye contact. The severity of the symptoms vary depending upon the age of the child and whether he has any chronic medical problems.  RSV can be particularly serious in infants born prematurely and children under the age of two suffering from chronic lung conditions.

For otherwise healthy children, RSV usually amounts to little more than a cold. However, for preemies and other at-risk infants, the health consequences can be much more serious. In the U.S., approximately 125,000 children are hospitalized each year with serious RSV disease and, sadly, some of these children die.

To help protect your baby from RSV, there are simple steps that parents and caregivers can take:

  • Have family members and caregivers wash their hands with warm water and soap before touching the baby
  • Avoid being around the baby if you have a cold or fever
  • Avoid exposing the baby to other children with cold symptoms
  • Keep the baby away from crowded places
  • Never smoke around the baby
  • Talk to your baby’s pediatrician about RSV risks and prevention

Symptoms
Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following:

  • Persistent coughing or wheezing
  • Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
  • Blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails
  • High fever
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Not eating well

To learn more about RSV please visit www.rsvprotection.com.

As we prepare to celebrate my nephew John’s sixth birthday, I can’t help but think of all the other babies born too soon. November 17th is World Prematurity Day, an important day designed to help raise public awareness about the problem of global prematurity, which affects more than 13 million babies worldwide.

preemie as a child

John (6) with his mom, dad and sister

I wrote this post while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

 

 

The Right Place at the Right Time

My parents always seem to be in the right place at the right time when I really need them.  It seems to happen by coincidence or by some other miraculous way.  Here is a time when they happened to be there for me when I really needed it.

My parents were visiting for the birth of my second child.  They came to help out with my 2 1/2 year old daughter (at the time), and they came in from DC as we were living in Peoria, IL at the time.  They were great at helping out and taking care of things at home.  In any case, things were moving along smoothly.  I had a normal delivery and I was headed home a few days after the birth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About two days after being home I started to get sharp pains in the middle of my stomach.  My husband said to take a warm bath (that’s the cure-all in his family for ailments), but even after the bath I felt terrible.  My parents and husband told me to call my OB just in case it had something to with the delivery.

I called my OB and she asked me a few questions.  It wasn’t until she asked if I was nauseas that it became more serious.  I said, “No, not at all.  In fact I am not hungry at all.  I’ve haven’t had much to eat in a couple of days.  I just have no appetite.”  She said to go into the ER immediately.  I got a bit nervous and it was almost midnight.  I had a newborn at home that was a few days old and would NOT take the bottle at all, and my young daughter was fast asleep.  My dad said he would drive me to the hospital so my husband could stay and tend to the kids.

I got there, did some tests, and found out that even though the pain was not on my side I needed an appendectomy ASAP.  My dad was tired, so I told him to go home and help  there.  I knew my husband would be up most of the night with our newborn, feeding him with a small tube along his finger.  Other than breastfeeding, that was the only way to feed him.

I went into surgery at 4:30am.  Everything went well, but it was strange being right back in the same hospital that I had just spent days in.  My parents were there to help my husband with bringing our newborn back and forth to the hospital.  I would feed him when he was there and then pump for them to take some milk home.  They also helped with my daughter and it was just a blessing they happened to be there.

Another time when they were visiting in Peoria we ended up in the ER again.  My son, daughter, and I all picked up a vicious virus and could not stop throwing up.  My husband was not in town and they were super helpful during that terrible time as well.

I am lucky to have such wonderful and helpful parents.  They are coming to visit us in Rhode Island this Thanksgiving.  I hope we have a fabulous and uneventful time together with no trips to the ER!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have family that is there for you when you need it?  What time were they the most helpful?

 

Kristin Wheeler

Family Ties

My sister and I spent our childhood pretty much attached at the hip. We have subsequently spent most of our adult lives thousands of miles apart. She has a job that has moved her around quite a bit, I have my own business here in Phoenix and am, therefore, not moving any time soon.

premiere dress

My sister

little boys

The early years: my sons

For a while, our lives were quite different. She was rising up through the ranks  in her career,  and I was beginning to have babies and trying to start a business while keeping my head above water. She was flying to a premiere in L.A., wearing a fabulous dress and getting her hair and make-up done, and I was trying to get breastmilk out of my work shirt, and trying to picture a life without a “Boppy” and immunization records.

 

 

cute mom and toddler

My sis & niece

More recently, with the birth of her first baby about 22 months ago, my sister  is in the forays of early motherhood and chasing a toddler, and I am navigating a household where no more naps are taken, but two school-aged boys may or may not jump off the dog kennel onto the couch in superhero fashion. The divergence of our lives the past 20 years is narrowing again and our circle is beginning to get smaller.

family picture

A recent family picture

There was a time when my boys were really young and I was a nap Nazi and a hyper-scheduler and every time my sister  looked at me I felt like she thought I had three heads, and maybe I did. I had my second son on a Thursday and saw my first patient in my new practice on a Tuesday. Not exactly the best timing, but at the time, it is what I felt I had to do. I don’t imagine I was much fun in those days, and she probably wondered whether I ever would be again. I wondered if there was ever going to be a time where she would understand the pressures and demands and stress I was experiencing. I wanted her to love my babies as much as I did, but seeing them once or twice a year was not really enough to forge the tight bond for which I had hoped. When your kids are under the age of three, they are only friendly with people they see often, people with whom they have established memories.

Fast forward almost nine years from the time I had my first, and she was finally having her first. Although I hated the desperation in her voice as she was describing the frustrations of no sleep and early mommyhood, I loved being the one she called for advice or for simply an ear. I wished I could have given her a shoulder. It was very hard to be so far away and not have the ability to hold my sweet little niece and give my sister a break without her having to worry about her baby being cared for. Because to me, that is what family does. They are the people with whom you can trust in caring for your most valued possessions without worrying about them. We had two or three days here and there–not nearly enough time for me to be a trusted face for my niece or for my boys to really spend some quality time with their aunt.

Then this past summer came. My sister was in the throws of looking for a different job….she had some time to spare–we planned a family vacation, and then my boys got to spend an extra week with my parents and my sister, her husband, and their new niece. They came home with the kinds of stories that can only come with time real time spent in the company of the ones you love. They loved their niece, they constantly played with their uncle, and they were doted on by their aunt. The story was coming together….closer to what I had always wanted for us.Toddler and her cousins

Now there is a real possibility of her finding work here where I live. I can barely think about it because I dare not, lest I jinx it. They have been staying with us and other family off and on the past few weeks–and any time they aren’t at our house, my boys are wondering when they are coming back. You see, there is no other reason that 9 and 7 year old boys would be so infatuated with a 22 month old cutie pie, except for that family bond and time that establishes and cements these core relationships. My sister is over the hump and confident in her motherhood and I am basking in these boy years where they still let me kiss them. We are both relaxed for the most part, sharing the best bond of sisterhood and motherhood. She watches  me looking adoringly at her daughter and I look at her cracking up at my silly boys’ antics. It just doesn’t get much better. And my niece? No stranger danger with me anymore. This morning I got a kiss and a smile–none of that “Who is this lady that loves me?” look. My sister and I are geographically and emotionally closer all at once. Our lives are converging–no longer parallel three time zones apart…..attached at the hip, and hopefully within the same time zone, state, county, and maybe even zip code.

Sisters

Picky Eater Solutions (Giveaway included!)

As you read in my previous article, I wanted to check out the book “The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution” by Elizabeth Pantley.  I have been having an awful time dealing with my 4-year old son and his eating habits.  He has been increasingly getting worse too!  He seems to always ask for sweets, and when I offer him a healthier food instead he just doesn’t eat.  I feel like this kid is either starving or eating junk.  I have been feeling extreme guilt from this as well.  Everyone wants to be the best parents they can be, and when your child is continually asking for food that is not healthy, it makes you feel like a failure as a parent.

I just finished reading “The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution” by, Elizabeth Pantley.  It is seriously one of the best informational parenting books I’ve read in a long time.  A big THANK YOU to Elizabeth Pantley for making me feel better and to give me strategies to deal with picky eaters.  It was nice to hear that I am not alone, and that my child and I are both “normal.”  There are many other parents out there that are dealing with my same issues, feel my same guilt, and it was nice to learn that a lot of it could be a natural instinct for my son to gravitate towards these sweeter foods (although apparently it didn’t help that I craved sweets and indulged while pregnant with him).  Here are my favorite things about “The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution”:

1.  The book gives you some background at why kids can be picky eaters.

2.  The book helps you to understand if your child is a typical picky eater or something more serious.

3.  The book gives you facts about eating and about foods with listed solutions.

4.  The book describes the “fundamental four” when dealing with picky eaters: Attitude, Environment, Amounts, and Rules.

5.  The “Rules” section is great!  It lists the rule, if you should break it or keep it, and tips about the rule.

6.  The book has tricks and tips to get picky eaters to eat!  Here’s the one I am trying this week (as my son is addicted to PB&J):

“Begin by replacing one slice of bread with whole wheat, keeping the other slice white.  Place the sandwich on the plate with the white bread on top.  Over time, experiment with replacing both pieces of white bread with whole wheat bread.” Pantley then goes on to explain replacing the peanut butter and jelly portions with healthier alternatives.  Such a great idea and a slow transition that will be easier for the kids.

7.  There is a list of healthier alternatives for food that is not-so-healthy.  Pantley says not to use words like fat and junk food.  She says it’s best to state things positively to kids about food, such as “Once you are finished with your healthy meal you may have a dessert” instead of “No junk food until you eat that healthy food.”

8.  LOVE “The Experts’ Favorites” section at the back of the book!  It has wonderful recipes for kid-friendly healthy meals.  Yes, there are even yummy desserts!!!

This book is my new GO-TO parenting book!  I will be keeping it in the kitchen to refer back to!  I will also be setting a good example to my kids by eating healthy and having all of us sit down together at the table for meals.  It’s a hard thing to do with our hectic schedule, but Pantley emphasizes how helpful this is for healthy eating.  We will try our best!  Kids learn from parents!

You can get a copy as well.  It’s a must have for any parent who is dealing with a picky eater (and there are more out there dealing with this issue than I even realized).  Here’s how to get a copy:

1.  WIN this awesome book in my giveaway!  The author, Elizabeth Pantley, will send you a signed copy of this book that was just published this month!  The more you do on the Rafflecopter below the more chances you will have to win!  CLICK HERE to go to the Rafflecopter and WIN!

2.  Order “The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution” on Amazon!  It’s on sale right now and a fabulous deal!!!

Happy reading!!!  After you finish, please let me know what you think of the book as well!


Kristin Wheeler

The TRUTH Behind Our Family Photo Shoot

Photo by Odessa Cozzolino

Photo by Odessa Cozzolino

If you look at the photo smiling out at you from our yearly holiday card, taken on an idyllic Rhode Island beach, you’ll see six happy faces, a proud family clutching each other with love.  Every year I schedule a family photo shoot to get that picture.  Every year we get one.   And I mean JUST ONE.  Out of the hundreds of pictures the photographer snaps, there is usually only one picture where we are all happy, and looking presentable enough to send out to everyone we know.  The rest, the outtakes, tell a different story. They tell the truth behind all those happy smiling family photo cards you get in the mail each year.   If you have a family of your own, with small children, and have been through this process, you know what I’m talking about.  They are much more anarchic than the calm conveyed in the final photo.

It begins at home hours before we leave. I run around and pull together complimentary outfits for us all.  Each year I come up against protests about the outfits from the girls, as though I had asked them to be tarred and feathered.  The boys have usually outgrown what I’ve laid out, since they wear their white button down dress shirts so infrequently, and they can’t stand having to change outfits.   The kids complain and drag their feet, and it takes much shouting and cajoling to get everyone in the car.  By this point I have usually given up on the complimentary outfits, and the neat hair.  Around this time I may even be reduced to shouting something childish like “fine! I don’t care what the rest of you look like in the picture as long as I look good!”  As we drive to the beach, my husband is getting cranky due to all the bickering and back talk.  He questions the need for the professional family photo, and usually chooses this moment to find out what it costs.  Now my husband and I are bickering too.  I try to remind him that the outcome will be worth it.  When we arrive at the beach, I am already apologizing to the photographer for our motley state.   As we begin to try to pose, at least one child is freezing and miserable.  We bribe, threaten, and tickle to get the desired simultaneous smiles from all four kids. This year we added our untrained dog to the pandemonium.  He was kicked out of the family photo after about 5 minutes for stepping on one of the kids and making them cry.

photo by Odessa Cozzolino. the little guy wasn't supposed to be in the background!

photo by Odessa Cozzolino

Once again we ultimately got the photo.   Just one (as close to perfect as we’ll ever get) photo of our precious family, and the dog even made it in without needing to be added in photoshop.  Having that one picture that captures this moment in time is so worth all the trouble we go through to get it.  We cherish the timeline of our growing family that we  now have, and we can laugh when we scan back over the years of our family  pictures, knowing the bedlam that went into capturing them.  In turn, we love getting our friends holiday cards with pictures of their kids each year, seeing how their families have grown as well, and knowing the secret behind those perfect family photos. Chaos!

 

These are outtakes from back when we only had two kids! (and one on the way)

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Rediscovering Me

The summer is over and school is back in session for my children. Their school break was a whirlwind of vacations, summer camp and classes, with very little down time. To say I was anxious for the school year to begin is a major understatement. Add to that the extra several days that Tropical Storm Irene brought us and it was clear from both my children’s and my perspectives that school needed to start. When the day finally arrived, I packed the oldest three on the bus for their full days of school with smiles all around. I then settled down with the youngest of my brood, who is only three, for what she endearingly calls ‘Mommy school’. No rest for the weary, as the old saying goes. At least I was only going in one direction instead of four.
Then I got the game-changing email. My dear sweet three-year old was accepted into Playschool! Our town runs an absolutely incredible program though the high school in which they run a model preschool for the students interested in child development. One of my other children was lucky enough to be able to participate as well, so I knew what an opportunity this was. So now I anxiously prepared my youngest for school. New backpack, new lunchbox, new folder, new crayon box. She was good to go, and more then eager to kiss Mommy good-bye and walk off with her friends. I have to admit, as I left my three-year-old ‘baby’ at school I did get choked up. Another milestone. Another era over.
I went home that day and sat on the sofa, and then it hit me. I had the next precious ninety minutes all to myself. I could not tell you the last time I actually could plan to have time with no direct responsibility for any of my children. What would I do? There is always a long chore list in my house…laundry, cleaning, cooking, preparing for this or that. I sat there for about ten minutes trying to decide which chore to pick. I got to thinking. I had ninety minutes for me. What did that mean? Somewhere amid the science homework and soccer games and ballet classes, I lost sight of what I could spend my ‘me’ time on. I love my children, but the role of Mommy almost always comes first. Now, I was thinking about what I craved, needed, wanted to do. I thought of A Mom Knows Best…all the contributors have something exciting to offer you as readers, but also me as a fellow contributor. I am still sporting mommy jeans and sweats, yet I read with excitement Carrie Humphreys’ awesome fashion tips. I love a glass of wine now and then, yet I know nothing about it. Jessica Granatiero and her amazing shop, The Savory Grape, are always hosting tastings and informational get-togethers. Why haven’t I attended? Carla Izzard lives in the same town as I do, and we both share an interest in running, yet I couldn’t tell you the last time I slipped into my running shoes and hit the road. Maureen Umehara always has such wonderfully supportive and thought- provoking comments. I decided right then and there, when Cait was at school, I was going to take those precious few hours a week and work on me, rediscovering the me that is not the mom, the nurse, the educator, the volunteer…but the me that is a person with lots of ideas and dreams. And where better to look for guidance and help then the amazing group of ladies that contribute to this website. Each week I will be looking to work on something about me that needs looking at…and asking for the input of these amazing women. Won’t you join me? Look inside yourself and take a look at who you are, and who you want to be. I am sure the ride will be bumpy, with lots of twists and turns. The destination is a better me, a better us. I know the trip will be worth it.

Do you have a personal or professional goal you’ve been working toward?

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