Shut Eye Strategies for Sleep Deprived Moms

Posted on Jul 30, 2014 by No Comments

What’s a mom to do when she wants needs to sleep? I know moms are superheroes but even Wonder Woman sleeps sometimes. We need sleep to stay healthy and perform at optimum level just like our children.

Whether we are spending our days taking care of toddlers or going out into the office and seeing clients all day, we need to be able to stay awake and think clearly because if not, it could be dangerous to us and those we spend our days with. So what’s an exhausted mom supposed to do?

I am a bonafide insomniac and I have tried every trick in the book to illicit sleep; desperate measures for desperate times. A few immediate tricks in my arsenal are:

1. Keep the bedroom dark; invest in room darkening blinds and a sleep mask.

2. Get yourself some white noise. I can’t sleep without a fan. If you are light sleeper or have a spouse who is a snorer, get yourself some earplugs.

3. Ban the television, computers and clocks. No tech in the bedroom at bedtime or it will signal your brain to stay up long after your body has decided it is desperate for sleep. This is so much easier said than done considering I work up until the moment I pass out from exhaustion.

4. Skip sugary foods that can cause wakefulness and caffeinated drinks in the hours before sleep. Try calming chamomile tea instead of coffee or coke.

But what about when the dreaded lists appears, deadlines are looming and the kids need you to wipe their butts and kiss their booboos? Here are a few ideas to squash the stresses that keep you lying awake in bed at night.

1. Keep lists because even though they generally make matters worse, they can also be helpful. Keep a list of things you are worried about forgetting and get as much as you can done. Whatever you can’t finish, you can just leave on your worry list and know that it will still be there tomorrow.

2. Embrace the calm by cuing your body, mind and soul that it is bedtime. Have a bedtime ritual; not like sacrificing chickens or anything but take a warm bath, put on some lavender lotion and some comfy jammies. Get into bed and relax, maybe read a couple pages of a book. Reading tuckers me right out at bedtime.

3. Melatonin, Melatonin,! Like I said, I am a real insomniac and I used to have to depend on sleeping pills to get any sleep at all, but that left me feeling awful if I didn’t get at least 8 hours. It also rendered me useless in the middle of the night if a child had a nightmare of fever so I could only use them on the weekends.

But alas, I am not a sleep camel and cannot stock up on sleep for the entire week so it was pointless. Melatonin is natural and a lot gentler. It eases me into slumber and I wake feeling rested after.

4. Hormones are not always so natural. Certain times of the month are a little more challenging in the sleep department than others. I personally suffer from insomnia most nights of the month but the week of menstruation, I experience extreme insomnia and sleep is damn near impossible. A low-dose hormone birth control pill can help temper hormonal fluctuations.

5. Go to sleep when you start to feel sleepy. This is the worst mistake an insomniac can make. When I get that initial sleepy feeling, I push through it and get my second wind, only my second wind usually lasts until 3 in the morning. So my best advice for anyone who’s having trouble sleeping is to go to sleep as soon as you feel sleepy, if that is an option.

What is your best sleep strategy?

photo credit: mark sebastian via photopin cc

National Geographic Angry Birds Star Wars The Science Behind the Saga

Posted on Jul 28, 2014 by No Comments

Who knew there could be a book that is universally appealing to boys and girls alike and is all about science? Leave it to National Geography to figure out how to make this happen.

Okay, so what are two of my girls’ favorite things, aside from American Girl dolls, National Geographic and Barbies? Angry birds and Star Wars! Yes, they are completely crazy for angry birds and anything that includes Princess Leia makes them happy.

So you can imagine how they reacted to National Geographic’s latest book, National Geographic Angry Birds Star Wars: The Science Behind the Saga! They went nuts. I have to admit, I loved it too. Anything that gets my girls interested in science is awesome.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away the worlds collided. Angry Birds, Star Wars and National Geographic united to take their fans on a mission to uncover the science behind the science fiction.

Included in this book are true stories, inventions, and the incredible real science behind the epic blockbuster series Star Wars. Chapters will correspond with the Star Wars films and individual levels in the  Angry Birds Star Wars games. Talk about the best of both worlds.

Discover how closely the movies are to true life by exploring the discovery of a real Tatooine planet or learning just how a hovercraft works and how it many ways it resembles the land speeder from Star Wars. You also can find out if a light saber will ever be a real thing in our lifetime.

Your child will walk away from this book thinking possibilities are endless with science. Anything we can’t do, we will be able to do someday through science and invention and if the Star Wars science isn’t enough to keep them interested, the angry birds aspect will keep them engaged.

This book is full of fun science facts, movie trivia and gorgeous,vibrant photos that will keep your little one engrossed for hours. The book also includes a great list of astronomy and robotic books for the young scientist who wants to take their grasp of scientific knowledge even further than the book provides.

A comprehensive glossary of  scientific terms and  of Angry Birds Star Wars terms will insure that your young scientist understands every aspect of the book.

National Geographic Angry Birds Star Wars: The Science Behind the Saga! is a fantastic companion to the Angry Birds Star Wars games. It takes fun and makes it a teachable moment that we can all be happy about.

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Tips for Successfully Working from Home

Posted on Jul 25, 2014 by No Comments

If you are like me and you work from home, you have probably spent a lot of time trying to find the best way to make working from home work for you. It’s not as easy as it sounds. You’d think you stay in your jammies all day, close the door, pop some bonbons and just do your work but that is not how it works. There is a lot more involved in working from home.

Here are a few tips to help you survive working from home:

Have a dedicated office with a door that closes. Seriously, set aside a specific place in your house that is used exclusively for work.  If you do so, you will be able to deduct it from your taxes and it will help you to get into work mode.

Cultivate an IT contact so there’s someone to call when the Internet goes kaput or a video conference link doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. Mine is my husband. He is an engineer turned IT guy who specialized in graphic design. It’s like he knew he was going to marry a blogger.

Participate in office networking opportunities. I freelance but if you are working remotely and there is an actual office near where you live, making a cameo appearance from time to time is not the worst idea. Not being onsite can make it difficult to form office relationships and even more difficult to advance to a managerial position.

Set clear standards for when you’re available to available to work and to family. Create a daily work schedule. Mine is 8 am-2:30 pm, I break until the girls are in bed at 7, then I usually work again from 8 pm- midnight. On Fridays, I work half a day and on the weekends, I don’t work at all. 

It’s easy to get sucked into being available to work any time, any day, but I have committed to not working when the girls are home from school. The most important thing I do is raising my daughters. Everything else is secondary at this point in their lives and mine.

Make sure that you set well-defined work hours to avoid phone calls and emails without boundaries on your personal time. I don’t take phone calls after 3:00 pm because that is when my girls get dismissed from school.

Pay your taxes. There is nothing worse than a surprise payment of $10,000 on April 15th. Make sure that you set aside some money each month to pay your taxes or at the very least make sure that you expect it.

Last year, I almost had a heart attack half way through getting our taxes done because I realized I was going to owe a substantial amount of money. That’s why it is important to keep track of any money that you paid out for the year for your business or freelancing; those write offs help balance it all out in the end.

What is your best work at home tip for success?

Photo Source: Travis Isaacs

How to Separate Family & Business

Posted on Jul 23, 2014 by No Comments

Have you ever had a friend or relative put in a good word for you with a potential employer that they worked for? Have you ever been asked to perform a little nepotism on the job? Or worse still, have you ever made the ill-advised decision to go into business with a sibling or best friend?

Bad move unless you have a clear-cut plan in writing to separate business from family.

Business with family is nothing I would ever recommend, it never works out like you planned it. I found this out the hard way and will never do it again because, for me, my relationship with my family is more important than any business deal could ever be.

It ended badly with people feeling cheated and disrespected and there was lots of collateral damage done to feelings. If it’s too late and you are already neck deep in a business arrangement with a family member, here are some ways to separate business from pleasure.

The first thing you need to do is set ground rules. Before you ever go into business with a family member, you should write down a business plan. If you are close enough to be running into each other at family functions, you need to work out a plan to save the relationship, even if the business goes belly up. You don’t want to lose loved ones in a business deal.

There are a few details that need to be hammered out ahead of time before any business ever takes place.

Who is in charge?

I know it is a slippery slope and especially between siblings, but there has to be a clear boss in charge. A clear hierarchy needs to be in place before anything else happens. If not, you may have a lot of hurt feelings based on assumptions. Someone might assume they are in charge because they are the oldest or because they thought of the original business idea.

A boss needs to be named and everyone involved needs to sign off on it in the beginning.  No handshake deals among family; it must be in writing, very business like to keep the whole thing professional. People are promoted based on doing something worthy of advancement, not on who’s the oldest or thought of what.

What happens if the business fails?

Decide from the beginning how you will define failure and success of the business and agree on it. Success needs to be defined from the start and people need to know what the give up and go home point is. You don’t want one person willing to jump ship if the company isn’t in the black after 3 months and another who is willing to work to the bone for 3 years.

Decide how disagreements will be handled and decisions will be made. 

Sooner or later, there will be a disagreement on some decision about the company. The best way to handle this is to appoint an impartial mediator, who is not a relative, to hand down decisions to avoid resentment. This will help keep all decisions professional and not personal.

Have you ever worked with family? What were some problems that you faced in doing so?

Photo Source: Kamal Zharif

How Flextime Can Make Your Family Stronger

Posted on Jul 21, 2014 by No Comments

Does your job allow for flextime? Before working from home, I only worked in very hands on customer interactive types of positions so I had never heard of flextime. Today, so many jobs are high tech and done digitally and online that flextime is a very common alternative for many people.

Between the high cost of gasoline, the cost of overhead to keep offices running at maximum every day, and the fact that many working parents both work, flextime has become a very common and viable alternative to the typical 9-5 work day of the past.

If you have never experienced flextime, you may be asking yourself, what is flextime? Flextime is a scheduling arrangement that permits variations in an employee’s starting and departure times, but does not change the total number of hours worked in a week. Flextime may be applied to full-time and part-time positions.

It all depends on whether or not a job can be done remotely. For instance, you can’t build houses remotely. You can, however, do customer service from anywhere in the world.

Flextime may be conditional on department operational needs and may require that staff be present or accessible during a certain core period of hours each workday. Core time may also include a requirement for staff to be present during a particular day of the week. Core time may be necessary in any flextime arrangement.

We had never heard of flextime until a few years ago, my husband was working in another state due to a downsizing. We were doing the whole commuter marriage thing and it was definitely not working having a husband/daddy who we only saw on the weekends.  Two days a week is not long enough time for a 2 and 4-year-old to get their Daddy fill.

So one day, out of pure desperation, my husband inquired about being able to work one day a week from home. Human Resources said sure. I think they were confused as to why he hadn’t asked a year earlier.

That was 4 years and 2 jobs ago. Currently, he works in office 3 days a week and on any Mondays and Fridays that he needs to be in office, but for the most part he works from home on Mondays and Fridays, which is amazing compared to only seeing him at home 2 days a week.

The girls are grateful, I am grateful and I know he is thankful to not have to drive the 2 hours each way on those Mondays and Fridays.

Flextime saved our family; without it I am not sure that we could have survived the commuter marriage years. It was hard on me to parent the girls on my own 5 days a week, it was hard to watch him go every Sunday and pick up the pieces of our girls hearts every week as they fell apart, and it was hard for them to understand why he had to go.

It was the hardest on him having to miss so many things and hear about the moments second hand from me. Our family was in crisis and flextime saved it. Now, my girls know their Daddy will be home every night for dinner and every weekend, will be home to drop them at school on Mondays and Fridays, and will never miss another important moment of event in their lives. Flextime did that.

Photo Source: NKeppol

Daddy’s Little Girl

Posted on Jul 18, 2014 by No Comments

I recently came across the kid’s book, Daddy’s Little Girl by Peter Wilson. I am the mother of two little girls and am very aware of the special bond between a father and his daughter. I saw it happen the moment my husband set eyes on our daughters. He fell in love at first sight.

Daddy’s Little Girl starts at that very moment, when a baby girl is born and her father meets her for the first time. The connection is deep and immediate. The story continues on as she turns from baby, to adoring princess, to sulking teen, off to college all the way through to her wedding day.

No matter what is happening in her life, her daddy is always there to remember no matter what, she will always be daddy’s little girl. This message of love and support is repeated throughout the book.

If you’ve ever read Love You Forever, this book reminds me a lot of that one but instead of addressing the mother/son relationship Daddy’s Little Girl is more about the father/daughter relationship.

It’s super cute and is written in a rhyming way that will keep even the littlest girls attention. Of course, daddy may need a tissue. I adore this book. If you don’t believe me, here is the YouTube narrated version of the Daddy’s Little Girl.

I am getting two copies, one for each of my girls. I will have my husband give them to the girls and let him read them while I sit in the hallway and cry. Honestly, it is that sweet. I may even buy one for my brother-in-law who is about to have his first child, a little girl. I think every daddy and daughter should have a copy.

It reminds you just how quickly our little ones grow up into adults. Enjoy every moment because before you know it, they will be out from under your feet and having children of their own.

Photo Source: Daddy’s Little Girl

How to Save Your Relationship from Complacency

Posted on Jul 18, 2014 by No Comments

Can a marriage be saved if one partner wants to leave the marriage? What happens when you have been married for a few years, 10 or 20, and suddenly the relationship begins to feel more like one of roommates than lovers. It feels platonic and no longer passionate.

With busy careers, you barely spend any time together and you never have sex anymore – it is easy to loose that loving feeling. You’re comfortably situated in old married coupledom. What happens when you can take or leave your partner?

The problem occurs when one half of the couple is happy being complacent and the other person wants more. Maybe he is not comfortable at all in this new role as your roomie, who occasionally has sex with you and hardly talks to you at all anymore. It’s not fun and the attraction has given way to the day-to-day drudgery of real life.

Then what? He’s done. He doesn’t even feel like you are worth fighting for anymore. He is perfectly content to just cut his loses and move along. Only you are holding on for dear life. You signed up for ’til death to us part, not I’ll hold out until I get bored and then I am outta here.

But you’ve quit trying. One of you has decided that comfortable silences and occasional awkward sexual encounters are fine to satisfy your companionship needs but the other is kicking and screaming, wanting more.

The tedium of the day-to-day marriage routine can become too much and overwhelming for some couples. The early days of excitement and all consuming passion and sexual attraction are slowly replaced by comfort, which is great. Being comfortable being yourself, being comfortable enough to bare your soul, comfortable silences and comfort in knowing you are unconditionally loved are all comforts everyone should experience.

But there has to be a happy medium in which you are completely comfortable with one another but not yet to the point where you completely quit trying.

Add the stress of children, mortgages and the regular growing pains of marriage and you just might find the stress of daily life causing you to wonder if you are committed to one another or even attracted to one another anymore. Then you begin to question whether any of it is worth it anymore.

The gap widens and pretty soon you are not intimate with one another anymore and neither of you cares; you’re both avoiding conflict all together and taking separate vacations or worse considering an affair. These are warning signs that the relationship is in real trouble.

The problem is that once you hit this point, it could be too late for many couples. Some people prefer to just cut their losses completely.

Here are a few ways to rekindle the romance in a complacent marriage.

Date night or couples weekend getaway.

Go out as a couple and be a couple – not mommy, daddy or two people who cohabitate. Get dressed up for one another. Try and just clear your mind of all the daily bullshit.

Spend some time alone talking and really listening to one another.

Let the kids spend the night at Grandma’s and go get a hotel and just spend the night focused on one another. Talk, like you used to when you first met, listen like every word matters. Because it does. It will open up the lines of communication and you will gain insight into how your partner is feeling and bonus, they will feel special and heard.

Praise specifically.

Tell your partner what you love about him specifically; his quirky sense of humor, her contagious laugh. We forget to tell people how we feel after we’ve been with them for so long. Make a point to tell them.

Let go on inhibitions.

Once the romantic flame goes out, it’s hard to get a fire burning if you’ve lost the spark, so try thinking outside the box. Maybe start with holding hands. Give long passionate kisses and see where they lead. Your partner wants to know you find them sexually attractive not feel like you look at them like a piece of furniture. Just go with it.

How do you keep the spark alive in a long term relationship?

Photo Source: FotoStalker

The GLO System Will Have Your Smile Brighter than Ever in Less Time

Posted on Jul 16, 2014 by No Comments

I have very sensitive teeth. Due to much too diligent brushing techniques acquired from my braces wearing days and very tight spacing, brushing teeth is a labor of pain avoidance.

My teeth are so sensitive, in fact, that when I have my cleanings done, my hygienist actually uses a numbing agent on each tooth as she cleans and flosses, otherwise I would be sitting in the dentist’s chair crying like a baby.

There are treatments for this affliction. In fact, I’ve already had cells scraped and packed to correct some of the recession. It was painful and they won’t do it again unless it is absolutely necessary. But still, I want a beautiful smile just as much as the rest of you so I am always on the look out for care and treatment to keep my sensitive looking their best.

Last time I was in to visit my dentist, I inquired about whitening techniques for people with sensitive teeth because, as you might know, the two don’t necessarily go hand in hand. But I enjoy my coffee and wine but also really appreciate a bright smile.

I was told about the Glo System and now, it is at the top of my list of things to try.

Glo uses patented Guilded Light Opti (GLO) technology; with heat resistors strategically placed and LED light bulb into a closed system mouthpiece.  The whitening gel is applied to the teeth and the mouthpiece activates the gel.

To use:

  1. To set up, start with a fully charged GLO control. Place the lanyard and control over your neck. Attach the mouthpiece in place in the side of the control until you hear a click. Then apply a thin layer of GLO lip care to the top and bottom lips. If you have extra sensitive teeth like myself, apply lip care to the gum area as well as the inside and outside of lips.
  2. Open the G-Vial by holding the base, gingerly twisting and pulling cap off to remove.
  3. Apply whitening gel. Squeeze gel onto your brush tip and apply a thin layer to your top and bottom teeth, front teeth only. One G-vial is enough for all four 8 minute back-to-back applications.
  4. Press the GLO button and the blu light will let you know it is working. Place the mouthpiece in your mouth with top facing up, relax your jaw and enjoy the whitening process.
  5. Eight minutes later, you will have whiter brighter teeth. Like a tanning bed, it shuts off automatically. Rinse out your mouthpiece and carry on.

It is that simple and someone who has used it told me that it is perfect and painless for those of us with sensitive teeth. After all, you don’t want to see a grown woman cry just so she can have a gorgeous smile, do you? It looks awesome and I can’t wait to try it.

Photo Source: GLO Systems

How To Get Rid of the Dreaded FUPA

Posted on Jul 14, 2014 by No Comments

In case you are wondering what the heck a FUPA is, you are in  luck because if you don’t know what it is, you probably don’t have one.

Unfortunately, I have an intimate relationship with the term. A FUPA is a fatty upper pubic area. Some people call it a pooch, or a pouch, a front butt or even the most dreaded gunt. Yeah, it’s not a pretty term no matter what you call it. Then again, a FUPA is not pretty and it is certainly no laughing matter.

Many women develop these after having children, especially if they had C-sections or gained a lot of stubborn weight during pregnancy. The worst part of all is that it is the most difficult place on the body to lose weight. And just because you don’t get pregnant does not mean that you can avoid the FUPA. It can still happen, you just can’t blame it on the kids.

But no fear, there are things that can be done to save you from the dreaded FUPA effect.

Lose weight: Obviously harder than it sounds. But with a solid change in diet, portion control and an increase in activity, minimum FUPA can be achieved.

Wear Spanx: This is not harder but it is certainly more uncomfortable than losing weight.

Then there are exercises that target blast your FUPA. Here are a few exercises that are supposed to get rid of your FUPA. I’ve decided to start doing them. I’ll let you know if they work.

1. Legs Up Straight Arm Crunch

This exercise will help tone your upper abs.

Lie flat on your back with your legs up at a 90-degree angle from the floor. With arms straight, curl your shoulders and upper back off the floor using your abs while pulling your arms up towards the ceiling.

Hold for a second; then slowly lower your shoulders and back down toward the floor. You will feel this. It hurts but if it gets rid of that stubborn fatty area, it is totally worth it.

2. Air Bike

Lay on your back. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows bent and your knees pulled slightly toward you.

Using your abs, curl your shoulders up off the floor and pull your right elbow to your left knee until they are touching (or almost touching). Then alternate. Do three slow reps of 10.

3.  Leg Raises

Leg raises will help you tone and tighten skin around your lower abdominal muscles. Lie flat on your back with your legs straight and up in the air (90 degrees from the floor).

Keeping your legs as straight as possible, slowly lower them out in front of you until they are almost touching the floor; then lift them back up to your starting position and repeat. If it starts to burn and make you cry, don’t quit; that just means that it is working. Beauty is pain.

These are just three of many. If you don’t like these, Google exercises to get rid of FUPA and you will have many to choose from. I am going to stick with these for now.

What’s your favorite exercise for keeping your lower abdomen tight?

photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc