Nifty vs. Thrifty

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Being your authentic self (while still being a mom!)

Can you be your authentic self and also balance mommyhood? Or do you give up your dreams til your children are older? Perhaps the answer is different for everyone. Every mom has a different journey. Some moms go to college out of high school and start a career then have children. Other moms juggle both. And still other moms put their dreams on hold til their children are older. Whatever path you choose, the important thing is to not forget about your goals and dreams.

1. Remember to take at least a half hour a day to do something just for you that's not related to the kids (or hubby).
2. Continue to talk about your plans and ideas with others to keep your inspiration alive.
3. Stay happy now. I realize noone is happy ALL the time but if you are truely not happy most of the time, that's a problem (and be honest!)

If you are staying home with your children and aren't happy, don't feel guilty. Not everyone is made for the job of a stay at home mom but that doesn't mean your not a good mom! It just means your talents may be needed somewhere else. If you can feel good about yourself during the day than you will be more patient and happy for your kids at night.
If you are working and aren't happy, I challenge you to make a change. I know it can be extremely difficult to give up a lifestyle that you are used to, but what is the cost if you aren't happy? You owe yourself the opportunity to at least look at your options and see what's out there. There are many grants and scholarships available to moms so look into your options and don't loose sight of your dreams!

How centered is your child?

As moms, we always strive to find the perfect balance (a never ending challenge!). When we are not balanced, we end up having anxiety, getting depressed, overeating, or turning to some other entity to cure our feeling of imbalance. Everyone deals with problems in different ways but our bodies have a way of reflecting the truth. Our bodies let us know when things are out of whack.
So,what about our children? Children need balance too. If they are not balanced, you will see evidence of problems such as outbursts or overeating (just a few examples). Follow your mothers intuition and if you see continuous problems, make a change. Here are some ideas to help you along.
child related topics
1. Engage in interactive activities with your children and limit computer/watching for you and your child. Children need love, your love and attention. Spend quality time with them.
2. Enroll your child in Martial arts or Yoga. More and more people are beginning to see the benefits of these schools of discipline for their children. These activities will help your child learn self discipline, relaxation, and yes...balance!
3. Spirituality. Whatever it is you believe in, having an outside entity to lean on can relieve pressure and help your child to forgive themselves.
4. Donate/volunteer. Teaching children to give to others helps them learn empathy. Seeing others in need can open their eyes to the challenges the others go through.
5. Focus conversations on child related topics and avoid adult issues when possible. It's really hard sometimes but we need to realize that some of the topics we are discussing with (or around) our kids can have a negative impact on them. Children should mostly focus on child related issues...taking turns, playing nicely, self discipline, cooperation, etc.

Paying attention to our own bodies is so important. If we learn to recognize when we need more balance (ie. exercise, talking to someone, alone time, eating healthier, change in a job, etc.) then it will be easier to recognize our children's needs. Being perfectly balalnced is impossible, but feeling centered will improve quality of life and lead to many successes (for you and your child!)

Taking control of your family life

Do you feel like what you say falls on deaf ears? Are you so tired of repeating the same thing over and over again? Perhaps you need to change your mindset!

Setting boundaries is so important in any relationship. I hear so many people say that they get taken advantage of and don’t know why. What they often don’t realize is that
humans naturally take until told otherwise. It’s human nature. Stay with me now, I can feel your blood pressure rising!
If you continuously accept a negative behavior, than you are sending the other person a message that what they are doing is acceptable. This person will naturally think that you don’t mean what you say because you are allowing the behavior to continue.

You can not fault a child who is told not to talk back but continues to do it without receiving consequences. Instead of saying no with only your words, say no by not accepting the behavior anymore and giving consequences. You are not being mean, you are being a parent that provides structure. Remember that you are the adult and need to control the environment. The same goes for teenagers and young adults. Children naturally learn socialization through trial and error. If you don’t teach them that there are consequences such as getting fired, getting arrested, maybe even getting turned down by a mortgage company for bad credit.

As adults, we have control over what happens in our lives. We can not blame others for situations that we continuously get ourselves into. It can be very hard saying no or giving consequences but it is essential for your happiness and also creating any healthy relationship. If you use these tools you will feel more control over your life and ultimately have a healthier, happier family life.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Top 3 MUST KNOW tips for making life simpler on the go!

I have worked with children (and families) for many years and the one thing I have noticed is that many parents have unrealistic expectations for their little ones. They sometimes forget to think like a child and they want them to behave like an adult. There are some things that you can do to make your child's life (and your life) easier. I realize that it's impossible to always be prepared but if you take a moment to think ahead you may prevent some disasters from occurring!

1. Children get easily tired and need a lot of sleep. If your child did not get a nap (which is part of their normal routine), do not expect them to sit through a lunch date like an angel. It's just not realistic! Reschedule your plans. Your friend should understand (especially if they have children themselves). If you have a million errands to run and you know your child is going to get tired, try your best to get a babysitter or take the neighbor up on their offer to watch your little one(s). I know this is often impossible but do whatever you can to limit the amount of time your errrands will take. If you are out and you notice your child getting really tired, it's best to cut your visit short if possible.

2. Children need food. Remember your child's belly is so little and he is constantly burning energy. Pack food and/or bottles for outings or be prepared to stop at a store or restaurant when they start getting fussy.

3. Children get bored. It might be a good idea to bring a toy or have an idea of a game your child can play if you know they will be waiting somewhere for extended periods of time. Preset them and let them know where they are going and what they are going to be doing. Children are very resilient but remember, just because you know what a circus is like (for example), does not mean THEY know what's it like. Let your child know your expectations before entering a situation that may be challenging for them. If you are going into a place that you know your child may not be able to handle (a baby in church for example), have a back up plan. If possible, talk to your spouse and decide who will address an issue if it should arise.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What happens when daddy gives me a bath!

How to stay balanced and be productive

Trying to be your own boss and keep a productive schedule is nearly impossible these days!A day in my life sometime goes like this...The baby is down for a nap and I QUICKLY run to the computer to check my emails and next thing I know the baby is awake, crying and I didn’t get A THING done!! What happened to the time?? Between facebook, email, and my "to do" list I am easily over my head and feeling pulled in a million directions. DEEEEEP breath. Why do I put stress onto myself??I always knew I had a tendency to be a little ADD. Then I started martial arts and quickly learned that structure and discipline was my best friend. Having a plan and sticking to it helps me feel safe and productive.There are 2 things help me immensely when I feel pulled in a million directions. First, I have a goal sheet that is hanging in my office and on my refridgerator. The goals are very general (ie.-eating healthy, being a good mom, being a good wife) but they help me to focus on what’s important. I revise this list every 6 months and make sure that what I’m doing on a daily basis matches what I am working toward in my life. Secondly, I keep a "to do" list for the week and one for just today. I try to map out a schedule of the day and stick to it. I do allow myself time for updating my status on facebook or chatting when I need some adult interaction (and God knows we need a break sometimes!) Although this works for me, I realize that different things help different people.I received my black belt in karate 2 years ago from Mr. Stuarts Martial Arts. Not only did I learn to defend myself and get in excellent shape but I learned the art of self discipline, focus and structure. These skills are priceless in a culture full of playgroups, cell phones, media, and distraction. We all have out gifts and talents but being pulled in a million directions prevents us from being successful in anything. Learning to focus is a great tool that can help us accomplish anything we set our mind to do.Whatever works for you, write it down and stick to it! Take one step at a time to accomplish the things you want and make it happen!!For more info. on the martial arts program go to: call 610-888-8212

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Getting a baby to sleep well

This is a tough issue! Those sleepless nights start to get really old and it's impossible to know how to survive the anguishing cries of your child at 3am. So, what do you do?

This subject is in hot debate. Rather than focusing on whether to let babies cry it out or not, I decided to focus on how to get kids to sleep well. There are MANY, MANY theories and opinions about what helps a child sleep.
I have researched many articles and ideas about this issue over the past month. I have heard opinions from every day moms (friends at playgroups), well known doctors (Dr. Sears) and authors of the best sleep books (see below). What many of these experts agree is this:
Babies do not sleep like adults. They generally sleep in increments and wake up for reasons related to discomfort, hunger or their own temprament. There are many things you can do to help babies to sleep better but it's unrealistic to expect it consistantly.
When a baby is 0-3 months it's believed that getting babies to start distinguishing day from night can be helpful. Keep the lights off, voices quiet and stimulation to a minimum during nighttime hours. Between 3-5 months babies are often ready for a schedule in which having a bedtime routine such as bath, book, and rocking is thought to be helpful by many parents. Talk to your doctor about feeding schedules, teething and what is best for you and your child. You can also access online resources such as and Go onto the message boards on these sites where you can look at what other parents have written for babies your child's age. I thought this was helpful with my daughter so I could get an idea of what was reasonable to expect and what other moms were doing.
Don't expect to ALWAYS know what your child needs. I know how you feel. It feels like you should always be able to soothe your child since you're their mother. That is unrealistic for you and for your baby. Your baby will need to learn self soothing techniques which is a natural part of the human psyche. Pacifiers and thumb sucking can be helpful for a baby to sooth themselves back to sleep. Also, music and white noise machines can imitate the sounds of the womb and be soothing. There are times when these things don't work and you are at your wits end.

Should you let your child cry it out? This approach is also known as the Ferber method. It is a method in which you should let your child cry until they fall asleep. There is research to support both sides of this issue. I am a big believer that a mother should follow her intuition and do what she feels is best (although neither feels good at the time!) What works for one parent might not work for another parent and what worked for one child might not work for the next child. Whatever you decide, remember that babies are extremely resilient and will not be traumatized by your decision. If one method isn't working, try something else. Try to be patient, as the saying goes, "this too shall pass".

Helpful websites:,,

Helpful books: Healthy Sleep habits, happy child by Marc Weissbluth, Nighttime Parenting by Dr. Sears

Other helpful resources: Your pediatrician and other moms. Join a moms group for support.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Being the "Good Enough" parent
It’s so easy to get over whelmed by the tasks at hand when you’re a parent. Weather it’s spending enough time with your child, keeping the house clean, paying the bills on time, keeping a job, providing healthy meals, helping with homework, or being a good wife (or significant other). The list goes on and on of the priorities we have as parents.
There are some days when the dishes pile up, the laundry goes undone, and the floor is a MESS. Ask yourself whats most important? Does that mean you’re a bad mother? Absolutely not! Step back and look at the big picture. Is your child happy? Are you happy? Is the house safe? Are all the bellies fed?We put enormous amounts of pressure on ourselves, often to be let down by unrealistic expectations. We read about omega 3’s, tap water, vaccines, multivitamins, allergies and on and on. We compete with the Jones' and want to give our children the best toys, house or bike. It’s enough to worry us into the grave sometimes. Remember back to when you were a child. Most likely, you will not think back and wish that you’re parent had spent more time on housework or had healthier meals. You probably won’t wish that you had Atari before the other kids. For the most part, to meet a child’s needs is simple. Give them love, keep them safe and provide a nurturing environment. What does being a good parent mean to you? Chances are, you’re child will not go to their therapist as an adult and say, “I really wish my mom would have dusted more” or “My parents should have made sure I went to church every week instead of every other week” (and if they do than their in denial because you’re going to screw up a lot worse that that!!) Enjoy your children. Hug them. Kiss them. Smile at them. Being given the gift of life is one of the most special things that we often take for granted in every day life. Unfortunately, it often takes the loss of a loved one for you to really enjoy what’s in front of you. But it doesn’t need to be that way if we slow down and look around us. Step back and appreciate the joy of parenthood. Look at the beautiful smile on your child’s face and remember that parenthood is a gift.Sometimes, we have to put down our parenting books and say, “I am a good enough parent and that is ok!”

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

5 ways to make grocery shopping with children easy!

Prepare, prepare, prepare..can't say it enough. Ideally, I would say leave the kids at home! Experts say you will save lots of money (and frustration) by grocery shopping alone. But let's face it, that's not always possible. If you can't leave the kids at home, try these tried and true strategies for success.

1. Use your resources. Some grocery stores offer in store childcare...check into this. If a store has a cool race car attached to the front, let your child "drive the cart".

2. Be prepared. Feed your kids before you go to limit hunger and moodiness. You may want to bring a small snack. Have your kids go to the bathroom before leaving the house. If someone is potty training, know where the bathroom is located in the grocery store and expect that you may have to rush there on a moments notice.

3. Bribery. Well, not really. Everyone responds to earning a reward! It's human nature. Preset your kids with what you expect from them while at the store. If you can, give them a treat like a movie when they get home or take them to the park (if they make good choices). It does not have to be a physical treat! If you make a promise, make sure you can follow through if they are good or the whole plan will fly out the window!

4. Keep them busy. Ask your child to be your "special helper" or keep them entertained with a grocery store game. This can be something like having them look for items, having them add up the prices (bring a calculator) or having them help put things in the cart. Kids love to have a special job and the way you present it can be especially enticing!!
5. Shop quickly. Consider the expectations you are putting on your child. A 2 hour grocery shopping trip is almost impossible for any child!! If at all possible, just get a few things until a time when you can shop alone.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Teaching children respect

1. Define what respect means to you and your significant other.
People have very different definitions of respect, so being on the same page with your co-parent will help you to parent as a team. Although you may not agree on everything, compromise and decide on consequences together. If something is really important to you (ex. wanting your older child to say, "nice to meet you") don't give in. But you may need to let other things slide, so be flexible.

2. Make age appropriate expectations.
You can't expect very small children to shake hands and say "nice to meet you", but they can expect them to smile and say "hi" or "wave" depending on their age and abilities. You may have to meet them half way but don't give in completely. Showing a stranger respect is an important and essential tool in order for your child to communicate effectively with others. You know your child best, so be reasonable about expectations. Remember, you're not doing them any favors by giving them an excuse such as, "oh, they are being shy". If your child is shy or nervous, help them to feel comfortable by explaining to them that it's OK to feel shy around new people, but you still have to be respectful. There are many great books at the library about meeting new people and what to expect from a stranger. Sometimes, kids will hear something on t.v about "stranger danger" and they may be confused when you introduce them to new people.

2. Be consistent. Explain to your children your expectations and consequences. Car rides are a great chance to talk to your child because they won't be too distracted. Just keep it simple and don't go overboard (or you will loose them completely!) If you tell your child that it's not OK to curse (for example) but then you let it slide or laugh when they say it, you are giving mixed messages. Also, if you say, "we won't come here anymore if you act that way", make sure that you can fulfil that threat or they won't take you seriously.

4. Set a good example. Like it or not, everything you do is setting an example. If you treat your child and significant other with respect, they will follow suite. If you scream at them and point in their face in public, they will not feel respected, and in turn will do the same thing to you or others.

Everyone makes mistakes and has yelled at your spouse or yelled at your child inappropriately, the important thing is to follow up with your child and explain to them that you made a mistake and that you are sorry for what you did. They will respect you more if they think you are willing to acknowledge your mistakes and that you are not perfect.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Are you a classy mom?

What does it take to be a classy mom?
Being classy is more than just appearance. It's about grace, elegance, and sophistication. Here are a few ideas.

1. Be kind.
You will not look classy screaming at your kid in Target! Use your manners with your children and discipline them appropriately. Explain to them what they did wrong and give consequences. Show them kindness by being respectful and courteous to others.
Be a good listener. If you talk about yourself and your experiences too much it can come off as pompus. Noone likes a "know it all". You can't listen and talk at the same time, so zip your lip and listen to what others have to just might learn something!

2. Be generous
Give back to those in need as well as your community. Donate money or time to a good cause. Remember that generosity doesn't necessarily mean giving "things". Sometimes, it's best to give someone support, love and resources and let them find their own way.

3. Look good
Although being classy isn't just about how you look, lets face is important! Everyone has days when they don't get out of their sweatpants or the comfy maternity shirt (that they should have given away after they had their baby!) Although this is necessary on some days, don't make a habit of it! If your heading out (or even if your not!), put on nice jeans, a cute top and some high heeled boots. At the very least, curl your eyelashes (brightens up tired eyes), apply some blush, and throw on some lip gloss. Take a moment to check out the latest styles FOR YOUR AGE. Don't get caught up in wearing something too trendy, it will make you look like your trying to hard and may not be appropriate (i.e. mini skirts and side ponytails). The truth is, when you look good, you will feel better about yourself.

4. Be confident

Don't compare yourself to the mom that always looks like she has it all together in your playgroup. No one has it ALL together so give yourself a break and relax! Be genuine. The classy mommies in Hollywood (Jennifer Garner and Gwenyth Paltrow come to mind) are considered classy because they are real. They are often seen playing with their kids, getting dirty, and showing affection. Enjoy your children and appreciate the joy they bring. Finally, if you truly feel good about yourself, others will think that they should feel good about you too!! Smile and enjoy the wonderful gift of motherhood!

For many more tips and ideas...check out!! I love this site! If you don't see this link, drag your cursor over it and click to go to the link!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

5 ways to play with your baby

Babies are so fun! But you have probably found out by now, that most babies don't play with toys very much. Instead, they like playing with things that you have around the house and are easily entertained by peoples facial expressions (you!)
Here's some ideas for helping you to play with your baby!
1. Read a book while your baby is in the high chair. Once your baby is old enough to sit nicely in a high chair (or booster seat), they will sit nicely for a short book. I read to Siena while she is eating her snack and she is much more attentive then when we are sitting on the floor!
2. Silly, Silly, Silly. Can't say it enough! Throw your inhibitions out the window and get silly. Babies love exaggerated expressions such as an exaggerated sneeze or laugh. At 4 months, Siena loved when I shook my head back and forth letting my hair swing all around. Now she loves when I play peek a boo! Use your imagination and make up something!
3. Dance. Pick up your child and dance around the room. Mix in some spins and squat low.
4. Let your child take the toys out of the baskets herself. I used to get toys out for Siena and then realized she liked the activity of taking them out more than actually playing with them!
5. Exercising. Believe it or not, doing exercises while your child is in a bouncy seat or using them as a weight is a great way of keeping them entertained. You probably won't get much of a workout but your child will enjoy watching you! I used to squat and jump (front to back) when Siena was in her bouncy chair. You can also do sit ups with them on your lap. I am going to do a video blog with some demonstrations but in the meantime, you can use your creativity to make this work on your own! You can do it Mom!!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Encouraging children to make good choices

When correcting a child's behavior, it is important to encourage them to make good choices. Your child is who he is because of all the many choices he makes. If you label your child, it will be very easy for them to live up to that expectation. If your child does not seem very motivated, for example, never tell them they are lazy. Instead, point out that the choice they are making is not one that is going to get something done. If you call them lazy, they will fulfil that expectation and act lazy. If you tell them that they are responsible but not making a very good choice, they will begin to act responsible and hopefully make better choices.
Think about your own motivation. If someone is telling you that you are smart and talented, you will be much more motivated to do a good job. Children respond the same way and need encouragement through praise and support.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Friday, January 8, 2010

Keeping the core of the family in tact

One of the best pieces of advice I was given when we had our daughter, was to always put each other first. The parents are the core of the family. When you put your child ahead of the two of you things will start going in a different direction.
I love this advice because it reminds me of the importance of teamwork between my husband and I. Our marriage is what started this family and it is the foundation that we need to build upon for our family to grow. Keeping this in mind, we often show each other romance (physically and emotionally) and set frequent date nights. It only makes sense that children will show respect to you and others if they see love and respect between their parents in the home.

Monday, January 4, 2010

5 ways to get over the post holidays winter slump!!

Ugh...after the holidays can be rough! The excitement of Christmas morning, holiday parties, baking cookies with the kids, shopping like a crazy person, and all the other fun stuff that comes along with the holidays! It's bitter cold and we have only begun winter! Ugh!

Well, I challenge your "after the holidays slump" and encourage you to enjoy this time of year! I used to always say, "I am NOT a morning person!" and I lived up to my own expectations and was miserable every morning! Until one say I said, "why do I keep telling myself to be miserable in the mornings?" Don't get me wrong...I am not super cheery and energetic in the mornings now, but I do look forward to them! I am learning to embrace the moments in my day and look on the bright side. Every morning I have alone time with my daughter until she goes down for her nap and then have some quiet time to myself. This is a good thing and there will be a day when I miss these moments!

The winter time is a great time for quiet moments and self reflection. Take a moment every morning to take a deep breath, enjoy what's around you and pray to God (or whatever you believe in!) Picture how you want your day to be. Make it productive!!

1. Schedule times when you get together with friends (happy friends) OFTEN! Sometimes, time slips away if we don't schedule something so plan ahead, especially if you are at home with kids all day long!

2. Open up the blinds and let the sunshine in. The says are so short and we need all the sunshine we can get! Better yet, bundle up and get out for a walk!

3. Reorganize. Go through closets and get rid of things. It can be rejuvenating to let go of old junk and clutter! Experts agree that starting small is the way to go. Tell yourself that you're just going to spend a half hour on going through paperwork (for example). The key is getting started!!

3. Set some goals (see my goal setting article for more information!). The new year is a great chance for a fresh start and new outlook. Take advantage of the many choices that are available to you for succeeding in life. What do you want for the new year and how are you going to get it? PS. Rome wasn't built in a day...take baby steps!!

4. Exercise! Many people put weight on in the winter but many people do not. Which one are you going to be?? It's up to you!!

5. If possible, plan a trip to a warm place so you have something to look forward to! Download a picture of a relaxing, sunny place to your screen saver!

If you are having trouble for an extended period of time, seek help. Seasonal Affective Disorder is very real. There are many ways to treat it in order to help you feel like you can cope with everyday life again. Check out this website or seek professional help.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Disciplining Children using Creativity

My martial arts training has taught me to be flexible and forgiving in many situations. I have learned in my martial arts training that if you become stiff when an object hits you, you are more likely to sustain an injury. If you relax upon impact, a body part will be more forgiving and less likely to break or be damaged.

I know what you are thinking, "what's this have to do with disciplining my children?"

It's simple. Parents get into confrontations with their child and demand something to be exactly as they command. Well, children should obey, right? Yeah, well, that philosophy doesn't always work the way we anticipate! Allow me to explain...

A child's brain has not yet developed effective problem solving skills to handle many situations. They need a lot of direction and we can expect that there are times when they question authority. Questioning authority is a good thing (although it can drive us crazy!) By doing this, they develop their confidence and learn to navigate through their world.

Children should listen to their parents and be respectful, right? Yes, but there are times when YOU need to be creative in your problem solving skills to get the outcome you desire.

Here's an example. My friend tells a story about a time when he wanted to "run away" when he was a child. His mother said "OK, you can run away... just don't leave the yard!". My friend remembers going into the yard and then saying to himself, "what do I do now?" and returning to the house. We laugh about this story now, but in reality, his mother was very clever in the way that she disciplined using creativity.

Here's another example. If a child says they don't want to eat a veggie that's on their plate, you can say "OK, you don't have to eat ALL your peas, but you have to eat 4 bites since you are 4 years old." This changes the focus off the argument and onto fun by counting their spoonfuls.

Creativity is a very effective tool when disciplining your child. You may think that you do not have this skill, but it is a skill that anyone can acquire. Practice makes perfect. Sometimes, if you prepare to be a step ahead and plan for difficult situations, you can brainstorm ways to handle the situations before problems arise.

When you find yourself getting angry by your child's choices, take a deep breath and try to think outside of the box. Ask yourself if there is another route to get to your destination. You are a smart, capable adult that can handle the situation in a calm but assertive manor. Remember, the second you loose your patience, you've lost the war (which happens to all of us at times!) Try to use the skills I mentioned here to manage the situation in a different way to get the result you want.

Mastering the art of discipline is a challenging task. There ARE times when a child's behavior requires immediate consequences. However, insisting that your child obey EVERYTHING you say is unrealistic and will set you up for failure. By using creativity, you can set boundaries and yet still diffuse the situation and allow your child the freedom to learn on his or her own. Developing these skills will not only help you avoid disastrous situations but also build trust and respect between you and your child.

5 tips to enjoy the Simple Pleasures

1. Embrace whatever it is you do. If you are dreading making dinner (for instance), try to think of a way to embrace it for your liking. Find a great recipe with a food you really enjoy. After you finish making the food, savor the taste!!
2. Play with a child (preferably yours!)
3. Pay attention to your sensory experiences - When taking a shower (for instance), appreciate the warmth of the water, the smell of the soap, the break from everyday life, the sounds of water flowing and the feeling of a clean body. Breathe deeply. Inhaling all the positive energy and exhale into a relaxing state.
4. Give yourself a pat on the back (or compliment) when you accomplished something (even if it's something little) We constantly tell our kids when they are doing a good job...what about you?!
5. Lift your head up and smile. Its amazing what this simple practice can do for the soul!