Nifty vs. Thrifty

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Using Guided Imagery to Help Your Family

Guided imagery is an amazing tool for creating the life you want. Research has proven again and again that our imagination can help us build our own realities. What is that you want? What kind of family do you want to have? When you are old and sitting on a rocking chair, what kind of family to you want to come visit you?

Do you think it sounds sound corny or silly? Maybe, but chat with some athletes that have won races, people who have overcome illnesses, or people who have lost a lot of weight and you will quickly learn that guided imagery is a powerful tool. Whether these people realize it or not, they have used guided imagery (in some form or another) to attain the goals they have set. In other words, they become the person they want to be.

Can we turn our worries into dreams?
I am a women, therefore I worry (I think it goes along with the territory!) but I really think that worries can be our own worst enemy. Don't get me wrong, listening to our intuition (and taking time to listen to what is best for us is a good thing) but when these thoughts of doing what's best turn into worries, it really doesn't help us and instead drags us down; preventing success.
Instead, if we take the time to listen to our intuition, then visualize the life we want we will inevitable (almost effortlessly) create the life we want. It's SIMPLE. If you believe in yourself and take baby steps you will be moving in the direction of your goals and dreams.
Are you ready to make it happen? Try these simple steps one or 2 times a day (or whenever you want!) and watch your dreams become a reality.

1. Picture your family doing the things that you wish would change (ex. fighting, sadness, or illness).

2. Next, picture yourself throwing that picture away.

3. Create a new family portrait in your imagination with the family that you wish to become.

4. Take baby steps to move toward that image.

Interested in learning more about guided imagery? Check this out:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

5 Simple Ideas to Make Trick or Treating a Success!

Halloween is a very fun time of year but it can also be tiring, expensive, and full of drama. Don't let this happen to you! Planning ahead can prevent meltdowns, hurt feelings, and exhaustion. Follow these simple rules (plus be safety conscience!) and you will have an awesome evening with your little ones!

1. Keep your eye on the clock. If your children are young, get them started early and home early so they don't get too tired and end up miserable. Be realistic about your expectations and plan on one parent taking a young child home early if necessary so that older children can still enjoy themselves. Remember, you want it to be a positive experience for everyone, not a nightmare! As Kenny Rodgers says, "Know when to fold em, know when to walk away!"

If your kid is over 13, don't allow them to Trick or Treat. It is a little upsetting for a 13 year old to be told that they can't trick or treat anymore but it is necessary to set limits. Trick or treating is really for small kids. If you have an older child, engage them in the fun by having them give out candy and encourage them to dress up if they would like to. For crying out loud, keep your kid inside after the trick or treating hours are over, don't let you kid be one of the kids that are way too old knocking on doors after hours!

2. Prioritize what's important. Focus on how a child rocks the costume instead of who has the neatest one. I remember my brother was devastated one year because someone else at school made an R2D2 costume that was "better" then his. Focus on having good manners and having fun instead of how much candy they got and your child will have an enjoyable Halloween. Remember, it's not a competition-it's about having fun with your neighbors and family.

3. Dress your Children in Layers. Halloween weather is always tricky and can really turn trick or treating into a disaster if your not prepared. Watch the weather closely and dress your kids in an extra layer under their costume if needed.

4. Preset your children. Trick or treating is a very exciting night but it only happens once a year. Talk to your kids about expectations before leaving the house since they may not remember what it's like or know what to expect. Talk to them about manners and be clear about the plan for the evening. Give examples of what kind of things could happen and quiz them on what they will do if that occurs (example..."People may not know what you are since your character is a little unknown. What will you tell them if they ask?" or "What happens if someone offers candy that you don't like?" This will help them know what to say when the time comes.

5. Set clear candy rules and stick to them. If your child is a kid that will consume half a bowl of candy in one sitting, set some rules and stick to them. Put out other yummy alternatives for you and the kids to snack on before you are tempted to eat candy.

Finally, have fun. When you're having fun, your kids will too!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Making Mealtimes Memorable

There are so many ways to show your child that they are loved and mealtimes are a great chance to do that. Using your creativity to show your love can provide your kids with wonderful memories that they can cherish into adulthood. Here are a few ideas to get you started..

1. Own a Special plate. My mom had this cool plate for us while we were growing up and I loved it. We got the privilege of using the special plate whenever we did something good (good grade, birthday, or just for the heck of it!) I always love this tradition and use it with my family now. You can buy it online or make your own at a pottery store.

2. Make Special Dinners Part of your Weekly Schedule. I would love to say that my family eats at the table every night but that would be a lie. It's not something we do at this point in time but but having a family dinner one night a week (Sunday is always a good day) is a great way to show family values are a priority in your family. Picking a certain day and sticking to it allows your kids to know when to expect it and even get excited about it.

3. Engage Children in the Process. If you plan ahead, you can ask your kids to pick a meal and help you get the ingredients at the grocery store (and even help you stir or pour ingredients into the bowls). Another idea? Children of all ages seem to love making Place cards for other family members (or guests). Set your child up with materials to make place cards while you get dinner ready.

4. Theme Night. Pick a country such as Italy or Mexico and make a recipe from that county (don't worry-tacos or pizza is creative enough!) Bonus: Find a new word from that country and use it while you are having dinner!

5. Question game. This is something you can do every night. Get your kids talking by asking what is their least favorite part of their day and best part of their day.

Although all of these ideas are fun, the important thing is just being together. Remember, your kids (especially teenagers) might complain "UGH! family dinner is ridiculous!" but years from now they will look back with a smile and remember those special moments with family!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Seeking a Natural and Healthy Lifestyle for Your Family?

Someone from up above must be trying to send me a message today. I turned on the t.v this morning and watched as Dr. Oz was speaking about fat substitutes and non calorie sweeteners. Then, I see on the news yet another recall of Tylenol. It really makes me wonder how and why we get into the habits of looking for quick fixes so often when it causes so much damage to our bodies. It's really scary, and what's even more scary is the habits we're teaching out children.

Let's talk about food first. Billions of dollars are poured into research of processed foods every year, yet obesity in adults and children is at an all time high. Does that make sense? It seems to me that if we slow down and truly enjoy nature's natural sweeteners then we really don't need to drink 5 cups of coffee with artificial sweeteners and can instead enjoy one or two cups with a little bit of sugar. Instead of 3 huge scoops of sugar free ice cream, why not enjoy 1 scoop of natural ice cream? We've created these habits of eating constantly and not working it off enough. Do we want to pass these attitudes and behaviors down to our children? I don't!

What about all the pain medications? It's the ninth time (in a year) that Johnson and Johnson have recalled Tylenol. Could it be that we are complicating our lives by trying to find quick fixes to our ailments (and our children's ailments) instead of using some natural remedies?

I believe everything in moderation is beneficial for my health and wellness, but I really wonder what our children and grandchildren are going to say about the things we consume and the lifestyles that we choose. I have a lot to learn when it comes to natural remedies and holistic medicine but it's looking more appealing than ever right now!

I am opening the door to any ideas and suggestions that anyone can throw my way on the subject! Anyone?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Stay at Home Mom, Working Mom, or Part Time Working Mom?

These are some of the hardest decisions we have to make but we often make it harder than it needs to be! If we follow our intuition and let go of the guilt, we can be happy no matter what we decide (and so can our children!)'s that simple. If you are struggling with whether you should go back to school, work, or quit your job and stay home with the are some ideas that may help you out with your decision.

Should you work full time?

Being a stay at home mom is not for everyone and if it's not for you, you certainly shouldn't feel bad about it! I feel so bad hearing women (or men) who are unhappy staying at home with their children. Everyone goes through rough days (maybe even a week) but if you are finding yourself unhappy for extended periods of time, think of some other options. If most of the following statements match your feelings, perhaps it's time to go back to work, go back to school, or work part time.

1. You are going into debt because you can't afford to pay your bills.

2. You are not known to be very patient.

3. You miss your old job constantly.

4. 10 minutes of duck duck goose is enough to drive you into the grave.

5. The thought of repeating the same thing 55 times a day is less than enticing.

6. You think a play date is the worst possible thing you could do with your time.

7. You constantly miss the lifestyle you had while you were working.

8. You find yourself moody and resentful of the life your significant other has outside the home.

9. If you hear Elmo's laugh one more time, you might punch yourself in the face.

10. You have found your passion/niche (and it doesn't involve being a stay at home mom!)

Should you work Part Time? New research indicates that moms that work part time are the happiest because they have their time away but don't feel overwhelmed by trying to do everything. If the following statements match your feelings, it may be time to look into a part time job or even going back to school.

1. You have to work to pay the bills (and by bills I mean mortgage, utilities, or car payments). You hate constantly worrying about how you're going to pay the electric bill.

2. You miss getting out and feeling like an adult.

3. You would like to make a little extra money for a nice pair of boots you've been eyeing up.

4. You enjoy staying at home (most of the time) but sometimes feel chained to the house and need a break.

Should you stay at home full time?

1. You truly enjoy playing hide n seek, duck duck goose, and reading Elmo books (it's not for everyone after all)

2. You enjoy being creative and finding new games to play.

3. Coloring and crafts are a hobby of yours.

4. You often find yourself singing Barney songs.

5. The thought of working full time and letting someone else take care of your child makes you feel ill.

6. You feel like staying at home with the kids is what you were meant to do.

Whatever choice you make, the important thing is to feel confident in your decision and not carry around guilt. Also, it's enough to know that you are a good mom if you are able to pay your bills, keep your children in a safe and fulfilling environment (even if it's not with you!), and still be true to yourself!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

5 Simple Questions to Show Your Child they are Loved

1. "Have I told you lately that I love you?"
2. "Which way would you like to do your chores...wearing your cool shoes or without them?"
3. "I am not sure why you are talking to your sister that way?"
4. "Can you tell me more about that?"
5. "When did you learn to do that, can you teach me?"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dealing with a Difficult Teacher

Let's face it, it's a part of life. You're child will have over many teachers in his or her life and they will not all be good! However, if we view bad teachers as a learning experience, our children will become more resilient and successful overall. Here's how...

1. Communicate Remember, your child only offers one side of the story and your child may be leaving important information out of the story. Talk to your child's teacher politely and find out the whole story. Try to put yourself in the teacher's shoes. The teacher may be new, going through a difficult time in their personal life, or have other information about the situation.

2. Setting boundaries. Be your child's advocate. If there are issues that you are concerned about, don't be afraid to address the situation with the teacher and ask for follow up. If the issue still isn't resolved, look for other options such as talking to a principal about the problem. If that doesn't work, you may need to speak to someone even higher up the chain. Just think carefully and have a plan before acting out in anger. Remember, your child may need to be in the classroom for many more months and you want to make the situation better (not more difficult) for them.

3. Show Respect. Although you may not like your child's teacher, you still need to be respectful. (This may require biting your tongue in front of your child!) Even when you are home, avoid talking badly about the teacher in front of your child.

4. Be positive. Making the best of the situation will help your child overcome the situation and allow them to focus on the what's really work. It will also encourage them to overcome the situation instead of being the victim.

Avoiding difficult people doesn't solve problems and can lead to negative self esteem in children. Instead, teach your children to use the tools they have to overcome their struggles and allow these experiences to be a positive experience instead of a negative one. Try not to focus too much on the problem and instead focus on the schoolwork, reminding your child that your teacher is there to teach not to be your friend. Overall, your child will walk away from this experience with a new lesson in their pocket and a better view on education.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Goal Setting for Children

Goal setting is a skill that keeps adults on track and helps us to stay grounded but what can we do to help our children stay focused and attain their goals as well? If a child is able to practice goal setting effectively, than he/she will be able to learn the important skills of time management, organization, and (as a result) building positive self esteem.

I always say that succes is a loose term and should be defined by the individual. I believe that my child will also only be successful if she can meet her own goals (not mine). I will be very careful to not define success for her. But, I also want to give her the skills she needs to meet her goals and feel confident in the little successes in life. So, I came up with a little skill setting exercise...


Ask your child what they want. Ask them to be specific and tell them to picture themselves doing (or having that). Have them close their eyes and visualize the goal or draw a picture of what it will look like.

Set Goals

Whether your child would like to build a huge Lego castle, save money for something cool, or make a good grade, have your child write it down. Then, ask your child to write down a plan (or explain) what they are going to do to attain their goal.

Show Support

Google information about the subject. Find people that have accomplished the same goals that your child is working toward. Make yourself knowledgeable (at least a little bit!) about the subject and try to create an environment where your child feels that can accomplish their goals.

Tell your child a story about something that you wanted (and accomplished) that was not easy for you. Explain how it took time, patience, focus and perseverance. Never say that what they want is impossible or silly. Instead, ask them how that will happen if it sounds outlandish.

Next, follow up by asking your child [occasionally] how they are making out with their goals. Take time to listen to their response (yes that means putting down your cell phone and stopping what you are doing!) and ask them if there is anything you can do to help them with their plans.

Finally, plan a party or something special (even it's their favorite dinner or an ice cream treat) when they accomplish their goal. Make sure it's a surprise because you don't want it to be the sole reason why their wish to fulfil their goals. The most effective payoff is their own pride for accomplishing the task and the joy they feel associated with that result is something they will cherish and remember in the future.

Remember, the goal that your child sets today will probably change tomorrow...and that's OK! The important thing is to show them how to organize their thoughts, set their goals, and feel pride in the steps leading to their accomplishments. Also, letting them know that you believe in them and what they want to accomplish.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Teaching Children to be Accepting of Others

My husband and I love to watch the show Modern Family. If you haven't seen it before, it is a comedy about a family that's not exactly the normal family consisting of a father who is married to a younger woman that has a young son from a previous marriage, his son who is in a gay relationship and has a baby, and a daughter that is married to a whacky (but hysterical) man. Man, that was hard to write and definitely a run on sentence...but hopefully you get the picture.

We love the show and it reminds me of how we've grown as a society in accepting differences among others. I think that's pretty cool but can be challenging at the same time. Chances are, if you are reading this article and you are not racist than your children will not be. It's really simple. Children learn from watching us and if you speak highly of people that follow nontraditional roles or are friends with people that may not look the same as you, your child won't even think anything is wrong with people who appear different. But if you are concerned and aren't sure if you are teaching your kids the right messages, here are some ideas.

1. Read books that show diversity. There are many children's books these days that use people with different religions, belong to different races, and have nontraditional families.

2. Lead by example. It is part of your child's healthy development to question other people that may look 'different'. It's actually quite exciting and fun to learn about other people! When your child asks about someone who looks different, take the time to answer their questions.

By exposing your children to other people who have differences, you will be teaching them sensitivity to others. In addition, if we want our children to be kind and accepting of others, we must always be kind and accepting of others as well.

3. Address Racism. This can be a difficult one. I know many people who are racist or prejudice (and they don't even realize it!) Since I've had my daughter, I've realized that saying nothing when I hear these comments can in fact make me part of the ignorance. Here are a few ways to make addressing the issue a little easier.
  • Don't avoid the uncomfortable conversation because you feel like you are making an uncomfortable conversation. Put the ownership back on them, they are the ones that caused the uncomfortable situation and causing a poor example for your child.
  • Use a touch of humor to ease the conversation (but still addressing your point) such as saying, "wow, Sally, welcome to 2010 the year we are accepting of others and showing our children intolerance! What's up with these remarks?"
  • Address the issue with your child by telling them that you do not like what you heard and that you will talk to that person about it. Avoid, saying, "That person is a biggot or a racist!" and instead explain to your child that people make bad choices and sometimes say things that aren't OK but they are still good people.

Ignorance is a huge problem in our society and teaching our children to be tolerant of others is something we must do as parents. Although, it's not always easy, the payoff will be a child who is loving, kind and accepting of others!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

3 Simple Ways to Make the Most of your Child's Sports Activities

I often think about how girls (or boys) that don't play sports miss out on the many lessons that playing sports offers. Sports can be a great opportunity for children to learn many wonderful life lessons.

Unfortunately, sports can present many challenges...or should I say learning opportunities (depending on how you look at it!). There are a million books and articles written about sportsmanship for a good reason....sports are a great opportunity to learn many values such as teamwork, leadership, determination, trust and respect. But often, it takes a good coach or mentor (such as a parent) to teach children the real value of sports in a child's life. Here are a few simple ways you can help your child reap the benefit of sportsmanship.

1. Let your children fail. Your child wants to play football but can't catch a football? Don't worry! Let them try out and find out for themselves if they can do it. Although we want to help our child by guiding them in the best direction for them, they often need to figure it out for themselves. Who knows? If they want it bad enough, they just might find a way to get better.

2. Stay positive. I used to know a family that loved sports. I should say, the father loved sports but the kid did not. I would watch the father playing sports with the child in the back yard and it was always difficult to watch. The father wanted his son to enjoy the sport as much as he did and he wanted his son to be good at it. The father had the best intentions but had no idea he was turning it into a negative experience by continuously correcting his son to do it the "right way". I always wondered if his son would actually like sports if his dad lightened up a bit. Here are some things you can say to turn the experience into a positive one.

"Wow! You are fast!"

"I like how you hold the bat!"

"Wow Sally! How did you do that? Could you teach me to kick the ball like you do?"

"Thanks for playing catch with me, I really enjoyed it!"

3. Stay supportive. I know how hard it can be to get your child to practice anything. Try to avoid arguing about practicing or it could turn the whole subject into a negative one. Instead, sit down with your child and decide on a reasonable schedule and stick to it. Remember, they may need you to do it with them sometimes. Even if you aren't skilled at that sport, having them "teach you" is a great way for them to learn, practice and most importantly feel confident. If they do not like the sport as much as they anticipated, this is a great opportunity for them to learn how the value of commitment, that is fulfilling your promises to be part of a team.

Get involved with your child's interests and ask many questions (whether you are truly interested or not) The point is to show your child you're interested in them. Joining sports teams are not easy commitments and are usually not cheap. Make the most of it and you will make the most of your time and money while teaching your child invaluable lessons that will last a lifetime.