Last night I spent time researching colleges with my 16 year-old daughter.  She commented that she’s anxious to figure out which colleges she wants to apply to and get it done.  She can’t wait for college.

She’s ready to take the next step in her life.

I’m just not sure I am.

Recently, we were with some friends and I was reminiscing about something cute she had done and her comment – with the requisite eye-roll – was “Mom, I was..like.. 12!” To me it feels like yesterday.

I wish I had every minute of her life on video so I could look back. Trying to capture moments on my phone has never been my thing however.  I don’t want to put something between me and living the experience but now I think back and I’m sad because there are so many moments I can’t remember.

Probably one of the reasons for my memory lapses is the stress I was under.  When she was young I was going through some major drama –a divorce, major financial problems, my current husband was diagnosed with MS and my dad was disappearing into Alzheimers.  I had a lot on my plate and it was difficult not to simply be in survival mode.  I try to live without regrets but I wish I had been better able to put those feelings aside and focus on the good stuff.  To breathe in every scent, feel every touch, view every smile and hear every laugh.

At the same time that I’m trying to capture every moment with my older daughter, I want to also be present for my younger daughter.  It’s a tightrope walk, especially for someone who was an only child and had my parent’s sole attention.

There are so many “firsts” and “lasts” coming my way it’s sometimes overwhelming.  But I know I need to embrace them and let life play itself out.

I think back to when I moved to Los Angeles when I was 22 and wonder how my mom let me go.  I had no idea how hard that must have been.  When I asked her about it recently she simply said that she knew it was the right thing to do.

So, like her I’ll let her go when I need to and accept that it’s a new chapter in both our lives.

 

 

Disclaimer  – I have a material and/or financial connection because I received a gift, sample of a product and/or compensation for consideration in preparing to write this content. All opinions stated within are my own.

It seems as if our lives are now made up of finding even the smallest ways to save time.  From smart devices that will lock your doors and turn off lights to being able to simply push a button and having your dog food arrive at your door the next day, every second counts when you’re trying to fit all the “to-dos” into one day.  Even pre-measured items such as meal delivery kits and home cleaning items shave time off your busy schedule and ensure you’re always using the right amount of a product.

One of the items I always have automatically delivered to my house these days are liquid laundry packets.  There’s never a need to guess whether you used the right amount of detergent or if you’re close to running out – you know when you’re down to your last one or two.  While these products are convenient and effective, parents, grandparents and babysitters need to be careful when it comes to using and storing liquid laundry packets. As a blogger who focuses on family and child safety, I’ve always been vigilant on making sure that I store liquid laundry packets up and away every time, even in between loads.  This has since become habit for everyone else in my house doing laundry, too.  Whether you have toddlers or not, you certainly can have friends and relatives visiting who bring their little ones along, so making laundry safety a habit is important.

Now in its sixth year, the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) created the Packets Up! campaign to educate parents and caregivers about the importance of properly using and storing liquid laundry packets out of sight and away from children.  They have worked with public safety officials and consumer groups to put in place a series of packaging and labeling measures as part of a new standard that can help reduce accidental exposure.

ACI recently conducted a national survey among 1,000 parents and caregivers to learn more about laundry routine habits. What they found is that about 15% of families with kids under the age of four allow their kids to help put liquid laundry packets into the washing machine drum and 19% store them on an open shelf.

Especially as we’re getting ready to start spring cleaning around the house, ACI is encouraging all parents and caregivers to organize their laundry rooms and make sure their liquid laundry packets are stored safely. To help, they have a Packets Up! website where you can order clings for the front of your washer and dryer (as well as those of friends and family) that remind everyone, including Grandma, babysitters and spouses, to put always keep liquid laundry packets up and out of sight from children.  Check out this video, Through Their Eyes, on the ACI site to understand how to keep toddlers safe by seeing the world from their perspective.

Most importantly, be sure everyone in the house understands these important safety messages

  • Accidents can happen in an instant, never let children handle laundry packets.

  • Children are naturally curious, and they explore the world with their mouths.

  • Proper storage and handling of liquid laundry packets is essential in preventing accidental exposures.

  • Liquid laundry packets can be harmful if swallowed or get in the eyes.

  • Keep laundry packets up and away. Always store them out of sight and reach of young children.

  • Always keep laundry packets in their original container and close the container securely after each use.

  • Call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222 if there is an accident.

ACI would love to have everyone share the message of why they put their #PacketsUp.  For me, we adopted a puppy three months ago.  He’s the reason why I put my #PacketsUp because he chews everything!  And while I don’t have toddlers anymore in the house, my daughters babysit all the time and need to be aware of this when they watch toddlers.  I put my #PacketsUp so my teens remember this important message when they’re babysitting.  What’s your reason?  Share your #PacketsUp story below and help spread the word!

Visit packetsup.com and follow #PacketsUp on Facebook and Twitter for more information.

 

 

 

 

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

At what age do we stop asking ourselves this question?  It sounds as if once we hit a certain age that’s it – we’re done.

As women in the second half of life we often feel that it’s too late to shake up life. When do we begin placing restrictions and limitations on recreating ourselves?  What’s “too late” and why?

Why?  Because we’re scared!  We’re afraid to course correct or try something new.

I was talking to a friend the other day and she was worried about making a career change because, she worried, “what if I fail?” It led to a few glasses of wine and a long conversation about the giant “what if” question.

Safety = Stagnation

As a motivational speaker and blogger I frequently talk about how fear constrains us from moving forward.   People assume that staying in place, either in a dead-end job or marriage is the safe thing to do. Financially this could be the case but it’s often at the cost of your spirit.  Please understand that I’m not saying to simply quit your job or your marriage without first planning and researching.  What I am saying is don’t allow fear to keep you trapped in a situation that is slowly destroying you.

I tackle the “what if” question in my coaching practice a lot.  Unravelling the fear allows it to become manageable.  Quite simply, the answer to the “what if” question is “then what.” When you realize that there are plenty of options if the “what if” occurs, it’s easier to move forward.

There are numerous statistics on how many businesses fail in the first year.  Often, it’s because people are afraid to course correct.  They don’t see an answer to the “what if” question. Imagine the entrepreneur who was committed to only renting VCR tapes because he was fearful of changing up his business model. (Probably half the people reading this won’t even know what I’m talking about.)  Successful entrepreneurs understand that change is necessary. They get an idea in their head and they run with it.  Yes, they do their due diligence to see if it’s viable but it’s the curiosity and the desire to stretch that compels them.

Vera Wang started out as a professional skater but never make it onto the US Olympic team.  She then veered into fashion.  Marc Cuban’s first endeavor was powdered milk.  Walt Disney began as a writer for a local newspaper and was fired for not having enough imagination.

Yes, change is scary but it also is an opportunity. People often ask me how I’ve continued to re-invent my brand and personally rebuild after challenges.  They comment that they’d never be able to do it.  My reply always is “sometimes you don’t have a choice.”  Sometimes it takes tragedy to motivate you.  I started out in television production. Then my son died and my second son was diagnosed with intellectual disabilities.  That prompted me to find a way to make a difference and help save babies lives.  I found myself passionate about helping families which led me to start my blog and public speaking.

I’ve often said I’ll never retire – not because I have to work (although that’s certainly a possibility) but because I never want to stop stretching and exploring.  I want to continue to write the next chapter of my life and continue to answer the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

 

One of the top New Year’s resolutions is saving more and spending less.  Of course, that means not living beyond your means and tearing up credit cards.  For most people this is easier said than done.  In fact, the average credit card debt per household is $8,400.

Six years ago, I didn’t have the choice.  Because of a really bad divorce, lawyers’ fees wiped out my savings and 401(k).  Add to that the housing crisis in the early 2000’s which had us carrying two mortgages and needing to use credit cards way too often and I was in a really bad financial position.  I was forced to declare bankruptcy.  This meant a bad credit rating and no credit cards.  I’ll be writing in another blog how you can still survive once you’ve declared bankruptcy but here I want to talk about the important life lessons I’ve learned – any my kids have learned as well – about living without credit cards.

You become honest with yourself.  Too many people feel that they need to spend to keep up appearances.  They’re buying clothes, electronics and vacations they simply can afford.  When you don’t have a credit card you no longer can pretend to anyone else or yourself.  If friends ask you to meet up for dinner or a drink just admit you can’t afford it but then suggest getting together for a dinner party at home.  It becomes incredibly freeing to simply admit you don’t have the money to buy something or go somewhere rather than making up excuses.

You become self-sufficient.  Someone to plow the driveway, mow the lawn or blow the leaves is a luxury.  Sure, it can be back breaking work but when you’re finished and can sit back, pop open a beer and realize what you’ve accomplished on your own it’s a pretty great feeling.  Plus, it’s great exercise.  I often refer to my backyard as my private gym and Mother Nature my trainer.

You learn about nice to have vs. need to have. Yes, you can live without Netflix and two bottles of nail polish, a base coat and a top coat is way cheaper than thirty manicures.   A dinner out becomes a once or twice per month treat.  I’ll admit it did upset me when my kids saw all their friends getting tons of expensive gifts for Christmas and birthdays and I couldn’t do the same but when you don’t the money, well, it is what it is.  I’ve come to realize that my kids learned an important lesson, the value of “stuff.”  They’ve often commented to me how they can’t believe how their friends don’t appreciate all the gifts and things they’re given but rather they expect it.  They’re surprised how their friends’ parents will simply add money to their spending accounts as if it’s a never-ending supply.  We’ve had to delay purchases of things until the following month or they’ve saved up for something they really want.  They started babysitting at 13 to earn money for things that I simply couldn’t afford.  I now see that their understanding of budgeting and financial responsibility is the best gift I could have given them.

You figure out what matters most to you – and then how to pay for it. Time together as a family is a priority but with three kids (and two step-kids) a night out at the movies or a trip to an amusement park or even bowling adds up.  A family vacation must be carefully planned out.  Both my daughters do All-Star Cheer, an extremely expensive sport.  But, not only is this what they love, it’s taught them important life skills – self-confidence, leadership, teamwork and tolerance.  It’s something that I want them to be a part of. They know, however, that if this is what they want they need to have skin in the game.  Along with the fundraising I do, the girls fund raise, babysit and put birthday and Christmas money towards the cost.  Bottom line – if you want extras then you need to find extra income.  A seasonal or permanent second job might be required.

It’s still important to give back.  No matter how tight my budget is I find ways to give back.  We turn in our recycling bottles and donate that money. If you can’t give money, give time at a homeless shelter or volunteer with a charity.  Donate clothes to a family who has lost everything in a fire.  There’s always someone out there who has it harder than you and giving back gives you an appreciation for all you have.

Today, after six years, I’ve gotten a credit card.  It actually scares me, and I will only be using it in the case of an emergency.  I know I’ve taught my girls the slippery slope of credit cards – they know how to budget, save and live within their means.  Life’s so much easier without debt.

 

 

 

 

 

This post is brought to you by the Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition’s Know Your Dose campaign and The Motherhood. But, as always, all opinions are my own.

It seems as if everyone I know is sick right now.  I’m seriously thinking of wearing a mask around my own home to keep from catching my kids’ colds.  Even when trying to do everything right – constant handwashing, loading up on Vitamin C – these steps are no match for the flu this year.  In fact, this is considered the deadliest flu season in 40 years.

But life (and school!) must go on so my bathroom cabinet is full of cold and flu medication right now.  When you’re trying to keep track of multiple kids taking medication at different times it’s easy to get confused.  That’s why the Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition (AAC) is urging Americans to double check their medicine labels when treating cold and flu symptoms to avoid doubling up on acetaminophen.

Acetaminophen is the most common drug ingredient in the U.S., found in more than 600 different over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medicines, including many cold and flu medicines. Acetaminophen is safe and effective when used as directed; however, taking more acetaminophen than directed can lead to liver damage.

Of those who exceed the maximum daily dose, most do so by taking the next dose too soon, using multiple products containing acetaminophen, or taking too much at one time.

For teenagers it’s more prevalent.  You can more easily monitor dosage for your little ones but for teens, they’re usually managing their cold medicine on their own.  And, if they play sports like my daughters, they might also be taking a pain reliever that includes acetaminophen as well as a cold medicine.  In fact, research has shown that teens and young adults ages 12-29 are at the greatest risk of taking too much acetaminophen.

But even while parents can monitor their child’s dosage it still can be confusing.  It’s important to understand the appropriate dosage.  The AAC has created a chart to better help parents understand.  You can download it here.

If you or your family members get sick this season, follow these four steps to make sure you’re using medicines with acetaminophen safely:

1. Always read and follow the label.

2. Know if your medicines contain acetaminophen.

3. Take only one medicine at a time that contains acetaminophen. Double  check, don’t double up!

4. Ask your healthcare provider or a pharmacist if you have questions about dosing instructions or medicines that contain acetaminophen.

You can learn more about using acetaminophen safely here.

While for some people the holidays are the “most wonderful times of the year,” for others it takes all of their emotional strength to just get through them.

For seniors and aging relatives it can be especially difficult.  They are most likely nostalgic about years gone by and missing friends and other family members who have passed away.  It’s especially difficult if they have lost a spouse.  And for those living alone or without family close by it can be even worse.

I’ve noticed the change in my mom since my dad passed away and now that her sister is in a nursing home.  She misses past Christmas celebrations when her siblings and parents were alive and reminisces about when I was young.  It’s impossible to recreate these times and quite frankly, with spouses and extended family new traditions have formed.  While I want to help her maintain some traditions, I also want her to embrace the present moment and enjoy times with her grandkids and the rest of the family – myself included!

Here are few ways to help seniors avoid holiday blues:

Get some fresh air: Visit a Christmas Village, take a walk in the woods, go caroling.  Getting outside and soaking in some Vitamin D while also enjoying a change of scenery helps clear their mind and focus on something else.

Volunteer: Giving back and helping others is a great way to focus on larger issues.  Whether it’s volunteering at a homeless shelter, delivering food to the elderly or collecting toys for children giving back makes you feel better.

Include them in new traditions – Involve them with activities your kids are doing and incorporate in something from their holiday traditions.  Baking cookies and using a new recipe as well as one of their favorite recipes will help create new and cherished experiences.

 

Travel – My mom just left on a cruise.  She travelled by herself down to Fort Lauderdale and met my cousins on the ship.  This was waaayyy out of her comfort zone and I’m so proud of her for doing it.  Taking a Caribbean vacation in December is something that certainly was not a part of her traditions but the pictures she’s been sending have been incredible.  She’s having a blast and it’s given her a new perspective. 

The holidays come with mixed emotions and for many seniors it’s a tough time.  Helping them expand their view and gain new perspective will help tremendously.

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day who’s going through a divorce.  She’s filled with anger towards her ex.  Whether it’s justified or not, it’s how she feels.  But what I pointed out to her is that this anger that’s raging inside of her is not changing or affecting him in any way.  I mean, it’s not like she made some sort of voodoo doll and was able to cause him some real physical pain (although I’m sure she’d like to.)  The only thing that her anger is accomplishing is making her stress level go up, most likely causing health issues and definitely preventing her from moving on with her life and being happy.

As I’ve begun my journey as a motivational speaker and blogger, I’m coming in contact with many people who are struggling with anger at their significant other, friends, kids, co-workers and neighbors.  And yes, they’re even angry at themselves for choices they’ve made that they deeply regret.  Their thoughts are consumed with how they’ve been wronged and how life is unfair.

Whether it’s trying to understand why a good friend has chosen to walk out of your life, why an ex-spouse continues to try and hurt you or why a family member has said hurtful things, you’ll probably never learn the reason.    You could also be struggling with feeling like an inadequate provider for your family, a “slacker mom” who never does as much as the other moms or poor body image.  The holidays tend to accentuate these feelings as we think back on previous years when things might have seemed better.

Let’s face it, it’s hard letting go of a grudge and equally hard letting go of feelings of inadequacy.   But the old cliché is true – the only person you’re hurting is yourself.  And so I’m asking you to give yourself the most valuable gift you could ever receive this year – acceptance.

Accept that people are making the choices they’re making and that’s there “thing.”  Stop trying to forgive or even understand.  Allow them to go on their way down their own path.  You can’t control them or change them but you canturn the energy inward and make peace with yourself about the situation.

And next, accept yourself.  The idea of “perfection” is imposed by outside people and doesn’t exist.  You’re strong, beautiful and have the power to create the life you want.

Are you ready to be happy?

I have been, or can be if you click on a link and make a purchase, compensated via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value for writing this post. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Now that my daughter is driving it’s opened up an entire new area of gift options for the holidays.  To figure out what a new driver wants for Christmas I asked my daughter to compile this list.  Here are her top picks for gifts for new drivers.

Anzazo Car Essential Oil Diffuser

This essential oil diffuser is designed for cars.  It uses water-less diffusion technology to protect the electronic components of your car from water vapors. 

And you can use your favorite essential oils or pick up some here.

 

 

 

Aux Cord for iPhone

 

This cord allow you to input sound from your iPhone with a normal headphone socket. Easiest way to play music, audiobooks or podcasts in your car.

 

 

 

Roadside Assistance Car Emergency Kit

New driver or experienced driver, this is a must-have in your car. This emergency car kit will prove invaluable should you ever get stranded or if your car, SUV or truck unexpectedly breaks down in the middle of the road. Above all, it’s a matter of staying safe and always being prepared wherever you are.

 

 

 

 

Car Vacuum

This will allow your new driver to clean the interior of the car themselves saving you time and money running to the car wash.

 

 

 

 

 

Polarized Aluminum Sunglasses Vintage Sun Glasses

Inexperienced drivers will benefit from these polarized sunglasses which reduce glare reflected off of roads, bodies of water, snow, and other horizontal surfaces.

And, they are really good looking!