Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A New Chapter

1. Where did you begin 2008?
I honestly don't remember. Home with my son?

2. What was your status by Valentine's Day?
In a relationship with a long-distance love.

3. Were you in school (anytime this year)?
I teach...does that count?

4. Did you have to go to the hospital?
I had to take a co-worker on an out-of-state business trip (what an story that was)!

5. Did you have any encounters with the police?
Yep. I was pulled over for speeding on my way to work one morning.

6. Where did you go on vacation?
I went snowboarding with my man at Keystone in early 2008, met him in Vegas for a weekend rendezvous. (Gosh, when was that?)

7. What did you purchase that was over $500?
Many items that added up (or exceeded) that amount but not any one thing.

8. Did you know anybody who got married?
Yep! I attended two weddings this year and another dear friend just got married in Mexico!

9. Did you know anybody who passed away?
Yes. My grandma died just before Christmas.

10. Did you move anywhere?
Nope.

11. What sporting events did you attend?
None.

12. What concerts/shows did you go to?
I had a date who took me to hear live music and I also took my son to see The Grinch at the Old Globe Theatre.

13. Where do you live now?
San Diego

14. What's the one thing you thought you would never do but did in 2008?
Have to start looking for another job.

15. What has/have been your favorite moment(s)?
Laughing with my son, attending my friend's weddings, working with amazing families and spending time with loved ones.

16. What's something you learned about yourself?
I'm stronger than I knew, happier than I thought I could be, and I'm a damn good mom.

17. Any new additions to your family?
Yes, my nephew was born in late June.

18. What was your best month?
The last two months since I didn't have to travel or be away from my son for an extended period of time.

19. What music will you remember 2008 by?
That silly Madagascar song that my son sings while shaking his booty.

20. Made new friends?
Yes, there are a lot of great parents and people that work at my son's school that I'm glad to know, along with many great online contacts I've made - all of whom continue to inspire me and help me grow.

21. Favorite Night[s] out?
I dressed up for Halloween for the first time in my adult life. That was fun and I hope to do it again!

22. Any regrets?
No.

23. What do you want to change in 2009?
To take my son on a real vacation and get my butt back in shape!

24. Overall, how would you rate this year on a scale of 1-10?
I'd have to say 9...2009 will be a definite 10!

25. What would you change about 2008?
Not a thing.

26. Other than home, where did you spend most of your time?
On an airplane, hotel room, or in my car!

26. Have any life changes in 2008?
Nothing drastic in my life, although the Presidential campaign rocked my world and moved me in ways that I never expected.

27. Change your hairstyle?
No, but I'm thinking I need to!

28. Get a new job?
No, but am starting to look.

29. Do you have a New Year's resolution?
To get in shape and take my son on a real vacation.

30. Did anything embarrassing?
No...it takes a lot for me to get embarrassed.

31. Buy anything new from eBay?
No, I don't shop on eBay.

32. What was/were your favorite purchase?
My new jeans.

33. Get married or divorced?
No.

34. Get arrested?
Riiiight.

35. Be honest - did you watch American Idol?
Never seen it!

36. Did you get sick this year?
I had a 24-hour flu but nothing major (knocking on wood).

37. Start a new hobby?
No, but I'm training for a new certification.

38. Been snowboarding?
Earlier in the year, not since this last snowfall.

39. Are you happy to see 2008 go?
No.

40. Drank Starbucks in 2008?
Who didn't?

I hope everyone has a Happy Healthy Hip New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My *Hip* Hurts

I had a job interview this afternoon. Wow, was I unprepared and overdressed. I have never felt more unhip in my life.

The music playing in the lobby was loud and the employees were young and seemed to be dressed for a party, or at least like nothing I've ever seen in the casual work environments that I've been exposed to.

The interview - if I can even call it that - lasted less than five minutes and consisted of someone else doing all the talking - and boy, did she talk fast.

Afterward, I told my parents about the experience and laughed at myself for being so concerned with what I was wearing, what I looked like, how I appeared.

Suddenly, the Saturday Night Live skit featuring Stuart Smalley and his Daily Affirmation came to mind: "I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And doggone it, people like me."

It was my first interview in over 8 years. I may (or may) not get called back for a second interview. Hopefully, if I do, I'll be able to have a two-sided conversation that lasts more than five minutes.

Is there anything worse than a job interview? I think I'd rather go on a first date since typically there's something in it for me, like free food or alcohol.

Speaking of dates (and alcohol), today is my son's fifth birthday. I'll be celebrating this exciting milestone tomorrow, along with the start to 2009.

Have a Happy Healthy Hip New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Divorce Calculator

If you want to know how likely it may be that you will go through a divorce in the next five years, head on over to Divorce 360 to check out their new divorce calculator.



According to a recent study, "couples marrying today are less likely to divorce compared to their parents' generation." Does that mean that the well-known and often-quoted statistic of 50% of all marriages end in divorce is no longer true?

Betsey Stevenson - assistant professor of business and public policy at University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School - seems to think so.

Check out these other great articles on marriage and divorce:

10 Signs of a Good Relationship
8 Common Relationship Mistakes
You Know You're Getting a Divorce If...
Tips to Prepare for a Divorce

Friday, December 26, 2008

First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover

First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover
by
Mitali Perkins

My review

Sameera (aka Sparrow) is the only daughter of Presidential candidate James Righton and his wife, Elizabeth. She just so happens to be adopted and it's her international appeal that creates a stir with the papparazzi who continue to bombard her with ignorant questions about her education, her travels and her upbringing.

So far (I'm 10 chapters in), Sameera is a sophisticated, intelligent and unique young woman who I wish I could've been at her age. She's presented with the challenge of somehow surviving her teen years in front of the cameras during her father's Presidential campaign.

The staff want her to American-ize her image and provide her with a new name (Sammy) and blog that is supposedly written by her.

How will she get through the campaign and which version of herself will ultimately survive? I'm eager to find out just how successful she is with keeping her identity and helping her family win the race to the White House.

View all my reviews

Monday, December 22, 2008

Great Grandmas

It's hard to be away from my family during the holiday season but this year, with my grandmother passing, it's especially difficult for me to be thousands of miles away, unable to grieve with my loved ones or be there for her funeral.

I will be honoring her in my own way tomorrow, remembering the special woman who lived to be ninety after raising seven children on her own. She never once complained so I will think of her when I go through a challenging moment with my one and only child, and try especially hard to stay positive, like my grandma always did.


My grandmother truly was a unique individual and I will miss her dearly. My son was only nine months old when he met her for the first time. Here he is with my mom and my grandmother, back in 2004.
Three generations and three people who mean the world to me.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Millennium Dream

By Steve Goodier

The daughter of comedian Groucho Marx was once denied admittance to an exclusive country club swimming pool with her friends because she and her family were not members. Realizing what had happened, embarrassed officials sent the Marx family an apology and an application to join. Groucho declined the invitation with the comment, "I wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member."

Someone still tried to smooth over the incident by persuading the comedian to allow an application to be submitted for membership. The country club was embarrassed further when the application was denied. The reason? The Marx family was Jewish and the club was "restricted."

True to form, Groucho wrote back: "My wife is not Jewish. Can she go swimming and let our daughter wade up to her waist?"

I love his use of humor, but Groucho effectively shines a spotlight on the prevalence and absurdity of prejudice. He must have felt, as did Sir Isaac Newton so many years earlier, that we "build too many walls and not enough bridges."

I yearn for a time when we courageously break down those walls that divide and build wide bridges between one another. I long for a super-highway of compassion and acceptance spanning our differences that will unite us as one. As we ease into a new millennium, I dream of an age when people will finally be connected heart to heart and mind to mind.

My greatest desire is that we somehow learn what it means to be family.

Read More...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Life and Death

Yesterday afternoon, I learned that my maternal grandmother passed away. This did not come as a big surprise, as she had been in hospice care since Thanksgiving weekend. Still, death is never easy to deal with and being so far away from my mom and family right now is especially difficult.

Talking to my son about my grandmother's death was also something that was not easy. Family is very important to me. I want to pass on to my son the value of relationships and the appreciation of family and respect and admiration for previous generations. How do I do that when we don't get a chance to spend time with my extended family as much as I would like to?

My grandmother was the first person to find my son's ticklish spot (under his chin) when he was just nine months old. Of course, she's amazing with babies and children since she had seven children, fifteen grandchildren and sixteen great-grandchildren. Her husband died when her oldest (my mother) was just fifteen. She'd been through a lot in her 90+ years on this planet.

A book that I plan to share with my son is And What Comes After a Thousand?, a beautifully illustrated and touching story about an old man and a young girl who share so much together. After his passing, Lisa must come to grips with her loss and finally recognizes that Otto will always be with her, just not in the same way.


It's one of those books that you know you'll want to share with loved ones but is definitely not a bedtime story or one that you anticipate having a reason to read with a child. I'm bringing a copy home today and will set aside a special time to talk with my son about life and death.

He's got the life part down, almost. Just last night he asked me if he could have a little brother. This was followed by him trying to "see" if there was a baby in my belly. How do I explain that not everyone with a "belly" has a baby inside? I wish there were a book that spoke about that sensitive subject.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What Makes Sarah a Happy Healthy Hip Parent

Sarah is a single mom who I recently connected with on Facebook. We're both members of the Single Parents Connection group which is a great place to find support and like-minded individuals who truly know and understand the challenges of raising a family solo.

Sarah is the mother of a young girl named ZZ (
no periods, not short for anything). She recently turned 3 and she and Sarah play by their own rules. Here's what Sarah had to say about her experience as a mom and finding the balance between work & family.
I am the Evaluation and Contract Manager for First 5 Napa County. I was lucky to find this position that only requires 20 hours a week. Because First 5 was created on the premise that the first 5 years of life are the most valuable developmentally, they are more than accommodating of my schedule and needs as a single mom of a 3 year old. I brought my daughter to the job interview! Since then she has accompanied me to conferences, meetings, and site visits!

What makes you happy, as a parent?

The birthday cakes I receive each morning, ca
refully created and handcrafted by my 3 year old. I receive the cake, candy and the Happy Birthday song every morning in bed (the cake is usually stars she pulled from a skirt, erasers, and beads)!

When my daughter will stop whatever she’s doing and exclaim, “Mama, Mama- can I tell you something?” I then say, “Yes.” She promptly tells me, “I love you.” My heart melts.



Walking around with stickers on my cheeks and a tiara on my head!

What’s the healthiest thing about your relationship with your daughter?

She and I play by our own rules. When my husband of 10 ½ years left, ZZ was only 8 months old and my world fell apart. Two and half years later I am grateful he gave me the opportunity to be a single mom. It has freed me up to live how I want to live! And that means ZZ and I play by our own rules!

When ZZ wakes up in the middle of the night she is ALWAYS welcome in my bed! We dance, hula hoop in our kitchen, jump on the bed, have Gak fights in the house with the neighbor boys, collect nature “treasures” (leaves, etc.) and bring them inside, leave the house in princess dresses, tiaras and sparkles on our cheeks!

Who cares what others think? We don’t! Oh yeah, and our 70 pound Siberian Husky, Marble, spends each morning in bed with us!

Kids say the cutest things. What is the funniest story you recall about ZZ?


ZZ has been asking me about my own mother quite a lot lately. She died about 10 years ago from cancer. I’ve been struggling with how to explain death to her keeping my own Buddhist beliefs present in the explanation.

Recently I was telling her that bodies eventually stop working and that people die, like my mother, that their spirits carry on but that we can’t be with them in the same way at this time. Her response was so sweet. She told me, “We better get your mommy a new body. Mama, you will hold your mommy’s head and I will fix a new body for her. Then we can know your mommy.”

What is your proudest parenting moment?


We were going to a birthday party recently where Cinderella was going to make an appearance. ZZ is obsessed with princesses right now. A friend asked ZZ who was going to be at the party. Her reply, “My mommy.”


What is your biggest parenting challenge?


Accepting that I won’t always “get things done.” I used to be someone who accomplished things, but now I sometimes spend hours just trying to get out of the house! Being a single parent - I struggle if I get sick or am just plain tired. I don’t have the same back-up which at times can be brutal.

What’s your favorite family-friendly restaurant?


Kelly’s No Bad Days CafĂ©, Napa, CA

What’s your favorite activity you enjoy with your daughter?


By far it’s going to the beach. My father, sister and I all surf. The beach is a very important place for us as a family. A family that surfs together, stays together!

What advice would you give to new or expecting parents?

Remove all expectations of yourself and your child.


Who or where do you go to for parenting advice?


I go to other single parents. I believe we have different needs and expectations of ourselves. It’s tough and we need to keep it realistic.

How would ZZ describe you?

She’d say mom participates, engages, plays, is honest and loves to kiss and snuggle!
Sarah and ZZ inspire me. Knowing that there's two child-like individuals out there dancing and leaving the house in princess attire is what makes this world such a special place. I think it could be said of most single parents but we tend to expect our children to have a bit more responsibility at an early age, which is why it's that much more important to us to allow our children (and ourselves) that time to just be children - silly, brave, proud, brilliant and curious.

I'm pleased to have met so many wonderful individuals - even if it has just been on line - and I encourage you to go out and explore your neighborhood and community for parents that you might not otherwise meet. Regardless of whether or not your children will get along, or are the same age, parents need other parents and you'd be surprised at just how much you will grow from having another experienced mom or dad to share a drink with or go to for advice.

And if you're not very outgoing, don't have time to socialize or simply can't imagine letting someone else into your life, meeting people online is another way to vent, express your opinions or learn from others. Thanks to everyone who took the time to share their lives and experiences here with the series of parent profiles. I'll be sharing my answers to these same questions shortly.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Half-Full or Half-Empty

This year, with the economy being a major issue and people's wallets feeling lighter, I want to teach my son what it means to be conservative with our spending and how it doesn't have to negatively affect our lifestyle. I want him to know that fun can still be had without having to spend money and that we can create memories that will last longer than most of his toys.

My son's birthday falls between Christmas and New Year's which is always a challenging time to schedule a birthday party. This year, my ex-husband decided to plan a party and has put everything together on his own.

If it were up to me, I wouldn't have a birthday party this year. I'd pick some fabulous activity to do with my son - and my parents who are visiting - such as taking him to see the Walking with Dinosaurs experience that I know will keep him glued to the edge of his seat. Sure, we can still do both.

But, in order to get across to my son the impact of the financial stress that everyone is having to deal with - on some level - I was hoping to include on our invitations that no presents are necessary. I think having his friends' presence, instead, would be much more meaningful. After all, I know five months from now my son won't remember which toy he received from whom but he will remember who was there to celebrate his special day.

I expressed all of these ideas to my ex-husband. We typically get along great, sharing in our son's life as much as possible and communicating often so that we're aware of what's going on in school and at each other's homes.

This morning I touched a nerve when I requested that our son invite each of the children from his class. He's been having difficulty getting along with one boy, in particular, and he mentioned that he didn't want to invite him to the party.

Working with families and helping parents and educators deal with children who are going through a challenging period makes me more sensitive to those who have trouble communicating and expressing their emotions. I know that this is the type of child that my son wants to exclude from his party but I would hate to see that happen.

My ex-husband feels otherwise. He thinks it's perfectly acceptable to exclude this boy from the celebration. We argued about it and I tried to explain my position but ended up in tears. I was trying to defend myself while my son's father yelled and belittled me. He claims that I am choosing another child over my own and that if we invite this boy and he ruins our son's party that he will hold me personally accountable and will never forgive me. He even went so far as to say that he hopes our son never puts his trust in me. Ouch.


I hesitated to blog about this, at first, but after venting on Facebook and receiving some positive feedback, I want more. I want to know if perhaps I'm in the wrong here. Perhaps I should exclude this boy and "punish him" (my ex-husband's choice of words) for being a bully.

My argument was that he would be even more of a bully if he were to find out he was the only one not invited to the party when he's already feeling isolated by the children who verbally express their unwillingness to play with him or be his friend.

Let me also say that these kids are 4 and 5 years old. They're just now learning how to communicate, how to work together and how to get along. They're still figuring things out. I want to give this boy the benefit of the doubt. I want to give him another chance to make things right and include him, regardless of his actions and behavior from the past.

I was taught to treat others like we want to be treated, to turn the other cheek and to forgive and forget. I want to pass down these same lessons to my son but suddenly I'm feeling unsure, doubting my decisions and my parenting skills. As someone who works with parents, this is not a good thing to be experiencing.

What is your opinion of this situation? How would you feel if you were a parent of a child excluded from a birthday party? How would you explain to your own child why it's important to love, unconditionally? Is it too late to get the point across to an adult who typically sees the glass as half-empty?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Wanted: Male Models

Gail Giles is a young adult author who recently wrote an article in School Library Journal that touched on a topic close to home. As a single mom of a young boy, I really work at trying to get my son involved in reading, sports and anything else that interests him (dinosaurs, cars, action figures). I want him to be educated, active and intellectual. He, of course, will become the young person he's meant to become but for now, his interest in reading and books in general is pretty amazing.

In September, when his Pre-K teachers asked him what he wanted to learn this year his response was, "how to make books." He makes his own books at home, from comic books to newspapers. He's into pretending right now and reading and drawing are also of high interest.

From what Gail says in her article, Wanted: Male Models, I know that won't last so I enlist my dad and other male role models to help instill a love of reading that I hope will last. She writes:
A boy doesn't want to be a woman. He wants to do what a man does. And if he doesn't see a man reading, he won't read.
My dad is staying with us for the next three weeks and he loves to read. Both he and my mom taught me at a young age that reading can open your world and can provide you with experiences and insight that you might not be able to get elsewhere. You can explore different ways of living and get to know people unlike yourself.

I can't help but think that the type of books children are exposed to also makes a big impact on whether or not they'll continue to want to pick up a book later in life. My son, for example, enjoys non-fiction books. He likes reading books that tell him things, show him how to build things or how people invented machines or put things together. He likes numbers and facts, memorizing details like young boys used to quote baseball stats on the back of their collectible baseball cards. (Do kids still do that?)

Personally, I enjoy fiction, escaping into worlds unknown and stories that I know could only be make-believe. I've grown to appreciate non-fiction books over the last few years since I see how excited my son gets when seeing real photographs or images of dinosaurs that he will never be able to see in real life. I pick up books and suggest titles that he doesn't want to read. I let him select books and I'm always amazed at what intrigues him, what captures his attention and what will keep him still - and paying attention - for twenty minutes a day.

Luckily, there are great websites that also keep me up to date with what other boys - and older men - are into reading. That way, I can get familiar with what to introduce to him as he gets older, guiding him to the perfect book that he'll grow into and stories he can share with his classmates, cousins, and Grandpa.

Here are just a few articles and sites that I found to help other parents and educators get their young boys to read:

Boys Rule! Boys Read!
Boys Read
Guys Read

Why dads should read to their children
Why dads should read aloud

And a great resource guide: Gotcha for Guys!: Nonfiction Books to Get Boys Excited About Reading

Friday, December 12, 2008

Next Generation Parenting

Through Facebook, I was introduced to a parenting blog with great articles and resources. Next Generation Parenting. Founded by a husband and wife who have a baby on the way, the site is set to launch in early 2009. They're looking for bloggers to contribute to their site. Already, I'm impressed with the content that I've come across, from the article on Teaching Kids about Money to that of fingerprinting your child - the articles are relevant, interesting and include some fabulous contributors, all in one site.



Head on over to read articles categorized under education, teenagers, communication, child development, safety, special children, motherhood, entertainment and several others.

You can also join their Facebook group to be kept up to date on the latest articles and resources.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Surprised by Joy

by Steve Goodier

Stan heard in church about a Denver, Colorado family facing a rather bleak Christmas holiday. Medical bills robbed them of any extras; they would not even have a tree. Stan's pastor asked him if he would get them that tree.

So Stan and his son Jay headed up into the Colorado Rockies in the family pickup. However, the truck skidded off the icy road and hit a boulder that shattered the windshield. Jay was showered by glass slivers and suffered from shock and crash trauma. Stan was uninjured, though somewhat shaken.

Cars sped past that day – maybe 200 of them. Only two stopped to help. A gentle, dark-haired woman took the boy into her car to comfort him while her husband and another man helped Stan move his truck off the road. Then this kind couple drove father and son to Stan's home and quietly left without identifying themselves.

Stan was discouraged that he was unable to cut a tree for the family that his church was trying to help. But later in the month, the pastor asked if Stan might deliver a food basket to the same unfortunate family. He found the house, but he could hardly find his speech when the door opened. For standing there before him was the same couple who had stopped to help him on the mountain road when so many others had passed him by.

There is a strange power in love. Some folks may call it an amazing coincidence. Others might say it was divine providence. But I choose to think that love has its own power, and that sometimes these kinds of mysteries are better left unanalyzed. Let them remain mysteries. And enjoy the wonder of it all. For whenever we choose to be kind, we just might be surprised by joy.

Read More...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Gift Guide for Guys

The Holiday Gift Guide for Men has now been published. Shop at Playboy for great clothes, sheets and gifts to please you and your man or shop HBO for the DVD collections of his favorite shows.

Happy Shopping!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Instant Parents

Are you about to or have just become an "instant parent?"* A Los Angeles television production company is currently searching for families to potentially feature in a docu-drama.

We are in the process of developing a positive, upbeat show (think: "
Jon and Kate Plus Eight"). We're looking for LIVELY families with funny stories, big emotion, and great personalities. Multiple children not necessary, but preferred (the more the merrier!). Do you (or are you about to) have an "instant family?"

If interested, please email Ally Weinberg with your contact information and your story.
Please send responses to: Reality_Casting@pietown.tv
To learn more about our company visit our site at: http://www.pietown.tv

*An instant parent is defined as any man or woman who is about to marry (or has recently married) someone with children (aka bonus children).

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What Makes Marla a Happy Healthy Hip Parent

Marla and I met through the Single Parents Connection on Facebook.

Marla has one daughter who is nine years old. Apparently, she has the energy of a few children but that just means she's a truly amazing young woman.

I asked Marla to answer some questions about her daughter and her role as a mom. Here's what she had to say which confirmed the fact that she, too, is a happy, healthy, hip parent.

What makes you happy, as a parent?

This is a difficult question. I love traveling, which is something I have not done much of without my daughter. Exploring new places always leaves me feeling content. That said, I currently enjoy quiet time - time to read, work on projects, or even nap. I enjoy spending time writing or talking with friends about something other than parenting (okay, parenting sometimes too!). Although I help out with my daughter's ballet school, I have found that I do it for me as well as to support her. I enjoy working with the costumes, being around the other parents, and organizing the community outreach that we do.

What's the healthiest thing about your relationship with your daughter?

My daughter and I enjoy a healthy relationship in many ways. We spend time together without distraction which allows us the ability to connect in silence or via communication. We travel together, exercise together, walk to and from school together... neither of us is defined by the other but we are partners in our desire to explore life and learn all that we can.

Kids say the cutest things. What is the funniest story you recall about your child?

This has to be one of the funniest stories though it is not one that I enjoyed too much at the time! A family friend arrived at my house one December to take my then three-year-old daughter and myself to the airport for our holiday trip. As I was upstairs gathering the last of our things, my daughter informs this man that "Mamma has big breasts!" He handled it so very well while I blushed brightly. Sure, it is the truth, but..

What was your proudest parenting moment?

I am proud of my daughter each time she takes her position in ballet or each time she steps on stage. She is doing what she loves and investing so much into it. I am proud of her as she jumps for joy when she sees that doing her best in something really makes a difference... and she shares this with friends. I am overwhelmed when she recognizes that her life is different and loves it for that difference over trying to be like everyone else; when she recognizes and appreciates what the difference gives to her. When she takes responsibility for her actions, lives passionately, is kind to others, and accepts that people are different and how wonderful that is.

What is your biggest parenting challenge?

My most significant challenge is two fold. For me it is that I don't see well. When other parents can read to their kids or label objects, I can not. I am watching my daughter grow up, but it is not in the same vivid detail that other parents enjoy. It is a challenge at the worst of times and a gift at other times as I have learned to see her with my heart.

The other challenge comes with being a single parent. It is ensuring the line between child and parent exists. That line can become blurred as the relationship we enjoy sometimes seems more like a friendship. I think it is difficult for my daughter as I am everything from friend to parent to disciplinarian to nurturer.

What's your favorite family-friendly restaurant?

There are places I will not take my daughter but most places... if I go, she goes. We try to go early to avoid the crowds. I don't go to exclusive establishments often, so the idea has been to teach my child to eat in differing environments. It is much easier now that she is older! (Italian places have always been more friendly than most.)

What's your favorite activity you enjoy with your child?

We spend lots of time outside exploring or exercising. Traveling and exploring are things we enjoy doing together. We also enjoy history and the arts - visiting the Kennedy Center as often as possible!

What advice would you give to new or expecting parents?

From the moment they cut the cord, your child is learning to fly. Cherish every moment; the challenges and the joys. Take the time to share your child's life and remember that it is a life that is vastly different than your own. It is a wonderful feeling to watch a child develop into their own person, discover their passions and loves, and spread their wings!!

Who or where do you go to for parenting advice?

I usually don't. I will talk to this and that friend or her father for input or as a sounding board, but I don't really seek advice as much as I seek someone to listen.

How would your daughter describe you?

My daughter describes me as a "good mom," the "best mom," and even her friend. I give "the best cuddles" and she knows that "You support my dreams. That is one of your dreams."

She said that I am tall and have brown hair - which is a physical description.

A few weeks ago I asked her to describe the ad she would write were she seeking a new mom (long story behind that question). She said that she wanted someone to love her and care for her. Someone who would have fun with her and keep her safe... and feed her spaghetti and take her to ballet. She wanted someone just like me.

And maybe that is how she would describe me. I do know that she doesn't want me to change one little bit (though she tells me that I am not as funny as I think I am... but what parent is?)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How's Your Vision?

By Steve Goodier

My eyesight isn't what it used to be. But as Helen Keller (who could neither hear nor see) said, "The greatest tragedy in life is people who have sight but no vision." There are numerous stories of people who lacked vision. A Hollywood producer scrawled a curt rejection note on a manuscript that became "Gone with the Wind." He had no vision for the success that movie would enjoy.

Vision is never about seeing the obvious. It's about looking ahead; about seeing what is not there – YET. It's often about seeing the potential behind the obvious. Like the potential in people. Or recognizing the potential for something good to come from a situation others are writing off as lost.

If we want to see what is really going on, we will need to learn to spot what is not there, then act on it. So... your eyesight may be perfect, but how's your vision?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Book Review: Getting Rid of Matthew

Getting Rid of Matthew Getting Rid of Matthew by Jane Fallon
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

So far, so good. This is a book about a woman who yearns for her lover's attention, outside of their scheduled evenings. Once Matthew finally leaves his wife for Helen, she's shocked to realize that she doesn't actually want him, after all.


Determined to learn more about the wife that she took him from, Helen befriends Sophie and heads into dangerous territory, trying to balance her career (where her new live-in, married older boyfriend works), her relationship with Matthew's teenage daughters and her new friend, Sophie, who is sharing intimate details about her marriage with the woman who stole her husband.

The book continues to add surprising twists and turns with each person Helen lies to. At the end of the story you'll feel sorry for her when she's caught in the middle of her boyfriend and his wife.

What happens next might surprise you.

View all my reviews.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Holiday Gift Guide

The first annual Holiday Gift Guide for Merry Moms has been published. If you missed it, you can still see the selected items and add them to your own wish list, or simply print it out for your husband (hint, hint).



Gift Guides for Dads, Babies & Kids and Couples will be published later this week.

Happy Shopping!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rock'n Deals from Rock'n Sprouts

Tomorrow is the first day to take advantage of the amazing five-day offer from Rock'n Sprouts. Take 25% off of your entire order when you use coupon code YOHOHO25. Here are a few of the items I added to my wishlist, some for my son and some as gifts for other lucky beans:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What Makes Jeff a Happy Healthy Hip Parent

I met Jeff Tincher through Twitter, when I commented - sarcastically - to one of his tweets.

Jeff writes over at Daddy's Toolbox when he's not working (at home, or at the office). During the day, he is a developor and consultant for Springhouse, a computer training and consulting company, located in Exton, Pennsylvania.



Jeff has two great children. His son Logan is 4 and daughter, Kaleigh, is 2.

I asked Jeff several questions about his role as a parent and he shared several stories about his relationship with his children.
1) What makes you happy, as a parent?

I like watching my son get excited when I tell him he has done a good job or like the other day when I told him that I took his drawings and the paper that he wrote the alphabet on to my work. I told him I had my friends (coworkers) use it to help them spell! He was so excited. As for my daughter, she and I have the Father/Daughter bond going. We rub noses at night - that is our thing!

2) What is your proudest parenting moment?

I've had a few proud parenting moments so far in my children's 4 and 2 years of life. There are things that I can't believe our son knows how to do, so that makes me very proud. Like the other day he was writing all of this alphabet, his name and some other things. He's really good with that! He then was drawing pumpkins. I watched him draw a perfect pumpkin, down to the 2 triangle eyes, nose and mouth! I was shocked.

3) What is your biggest parenting challenge?

Dealing with whining. I immediately go insane at the first whine. :-)

4) What’s your favorite family-friendly restaurant?

We like Red Robin in Exton, PA. Oh EXCEPT when the "BIRD" is there. It scares my kids!

5) What advice would you give to new or expecting parents?

Sometimes you just have to "give in" or else it's a battle with your kids. Like right now, I'm listening to my wife put our four-year-old to bed. He is fussing and screaming that it is NOT a school night. Well, it's Monday night so, "Yes it is!" I would have caved in by now and given in. My wife is more stubborn and is up there trying to make him understand.

6) Who or where do you go to for parenting advice?

I mainly ask our other friends with kids. I've set up a group on Facebook for the parents of kids that go to our daycare. It's starting to help. We are building a support network.
I think it's a fabulous idea to start an online support group of parents that you know. Playdates and playgroups were first created for this same reason, but it's great to have a place to go 24 hours a day to ask questions and chat with other adults after the kids are asleep - or during nap time.

What makes you a happy, healthy, hip parent?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Can You Say Oliebollen?

Have you ever participated in a shopping spree? Those that I've seen on TV during game shows of the past created the shopaholic in me. The energy and excitement of trying to get as many items into a shopping cart in a limited number of minutes gets me all worked up just thinking about it.

Oliebollen, an online shopping site filled with hip items for cool kids, is hosting a Shopping Spree like no other.

Starting this morning and going on for the next five days (Nov. 28 - Dec. 2), Oliebollen is offering an Arm Chair Holiday Shopping Sweep. They promise five full days of special deals, freebies and of course, a whole lot of fun.

Every day of this event, five free items will be offered on the site, only you'll have to click through the site to discover which ones can be added to your shopping cart at no additional cost. Of course, there are rules and tips for this great promotion, so head on over to Oliebollen to learn more, shop in your pajamas and stock up on fantastic toys, books, clothes, furniture and other cool gifts for babies and kids.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

This year, I'm grateful for:

My son
- He's nearly five and he is becoming such a mature young man. He makes me laugh on a regular basis and inspires me to be the best mom I can possibly be. I'm so proud of him and all he's learning and accomplishing.


My son's teachers
- There are many teachers who work with my son on a weekly basis. From the two teachers in his classroom, to the
Spanish, Art, Music, PE and Enrichment classes, these amazing educators put so much time and energy into each and every child that they teach.

My parents
- My mom and dad are always there for me when I need them. They've flown out to San Diego so many times since my son was born that I couldn't possibly pay them back for all the miles and airport adventures they've experienced on our behalf. They're flying out again in mid-December and I couldn't be more thrilled to have them here for both Christmas and my son's 5th birthday.


My sister
- She's put up with me for years and still manages to listen, offer advice and know me better than anyone ever could. She's a great mo
m, a super-cool aunt, a wonderful friend, fabulous wife, and an amazing massage therapist!

My ex-husband - He's put up with my moods and listened to my opinions whether he's agreed with me or not (mostly not). He's always there for our son and helps me out when I truly need it. He's a fantastic father and I love seeing my son's face light up when he gets dropped off at his dad's house or when he gets picked up from mine.

My co-workers - These are the women I see on a daily basis. They've seen me through a wedding, pregnancy and supported me through my divorce. They have truly become great friends and mentors who have guided me in my career and helped me in "real" life.

My colleagues - For providing emotional support, offering suggestions and allowing me to do the same.

My clients - For trusting me with their parenting issues and allowing me to work closely with their families and recommending me to other moms and dads.

My readers - I'm truly grateful for my readers, who loyally visit the sites I write at (here, Intent, and the Examiner) and leave comments, provide great feedback and share my site with others.

My friends - For those who follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or who know me in the offline world, I could not have gotten through the last few years without them, especially those who listened to me bitch, complain and allowed me to share my random thoughts at wee hours in the morning.

What and who are you thankful for this year? If you have a blog, add yours to the I am Thankful Meme, hosted by Mommy Community.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What Makes Amy a Happy Healthy Hip Parent

I met Amy through our connection on both Twitter and Facebook. She joined the Happy Healthy Hip Parenting group and introduced me to two great sites that she is a part of. She is a blogger at ParentSphere and works behind the scenes for Great Au Pair.

Align Left

Amy is mom to three-year-old Hailey. She was kind enough to take some time to answer some questions about her experience as a parent and offers some great advice for expecting parents.

1) What makes you happy, as a parent?

Oh my, so many things! I look at the world so differently now. I notice my surroundings more because I see them through my daughter’s eyes. I mostly love having someone to teach. It’s a fantastic feeling knowing that she’s learning something new each day and I play a big part of that.

2) What’s the healthiest thing about your relationship with your child?

We are very open with each other. Granted, she’s only three, but we communicate with each other very well. I hope we can keep the lines of communication open for a long, long time.

3) Kids say the cutest things. What is the funniest story you recall about your daughter?

I probably Tweet something new and cute she says everyday! One of the funniest things I always tell people is when she was just under two years old and she needed a diaper change. I told her it was time for the diaper change and she patted her butt, looked up at me and matter-of-factly said, “Nope, stays in my diapee.” That was the first time she really started showing attitude.

4) What is your proudest parenting moment?

Tough question. I have many “proud” parenting moments, hard to pick out just one. I feel very proud when we’re out and she uses her manners. I always feel good about that. She’s very polite and that is important to me.

5) What is your biggest parenting challenge?

Picking my battles and being consistent. I want to maintain openness with her throughout the years, especially when she’s school-aged. My goal is to have her always feel comfortable confiding in me, no matter what.

6) What’s your favorite family-friendly restaurant?

Oh, we LOVE dining out. I suppose my absolute favorite is Red Robin in Plainfield, IL. We go there a lot. My daughter gets her balloons, the food is good and we always have a fun time.

7) What’s your favorite activity you enjoy with Hailey?

Just being out and about. I love taking her to the zoo, museums and to the park.

8) What advice would you give to new or expecting parents?

Be prepared to be totally unprepared! Each day, each stage is something different. Embrace it. I never believed it would go as fast as it has but here I am, with a three-year-old already and I was once wishing the baby stages away! Soak it all in, ladies.

9) Who or where do you go to for parenting advice?

I generally consult friends in online communities like Twitter and The Motherhood. Chatting with friends over the phone and running this or that by them. My mom. Of course I still go to her too.

10) How would your daughter describe you?

She’s still unbiased. Though, I’m pretty sure if you asked her, she would tell you that I’m the coolest thing since sliced bread.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Spending the Holidays On Your Own

Being single is never as lonely as when holiday season is here. Being a single parent is awful when our children spend the day with their other parent. Luckily, we're not alone. There are others out there who share this same predicament and there are great resources that provide support and suggestions for those of us spending holidays alone, or at least without our child.

A website that I just discovered today, Solo Dad, posted a wonderful list - 5 Ways to Have a Great Solo Thanksgiving.

For more great everyday tips and articles on single parenting, visit these great sites:
Single Mom - for single moms by choice or by chance
Single Mothers - resources for single moms
Single Moms - this site is for all single parents (both single moms and dads)
Single Father - resources for single dads
Just 4 Dads - resources and legal advice for single fathers

Are you a single parent looking to date another single parent - who understands your issues and schedule? There are several sites that offer dating services for single moms and dads:

Single Parent Meet
Single Moms and Dads
Single Parent Love
Single Parent Match
Single Parent Matcher
Parent Fishing - they'll hook you up!
Single Parents Mingle

If you're a single parent and have success stories - or horror stories - to share about these sites, please let us know.