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5 Ways for Moms to Get Unstuck Right Now by the Author of ‘The 52 Weeks’

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Did you like the book Eat, Pray, Love and wish you could devote a whole year to becoming a better person? Yeah, me too. But with three small kids, trips to Italy, India and Bali (or even the local spa) are out of the question. That’s where a fun new book comes in. The 52 Weeks: Two Women and Their Quest to Get Unstuck with Stories and Ideas to Jumpstart Your Year of Discovery was written to inspire readers to try new things no matter how crazy-busy they are.

One of the authors, Karen Amster-Young, gives the scoop on the book below. And don’t miss her 5 Ways to Get Unstuck!

“We are bombarded each and every day with countless responsibilities, errands, work, family and taking care of those we love. Carving out time for ourselves is usually last on the list. In fact, we often feel guilty when we sneak off to the gym, a movie or even a long lunch.

A few years ago a good friend and I found ourselves complaining about this–a lot. We were restless and wanted to shake things up. Our children were no longer babies, and we felt stuck. We wanted to make an effort to do new things again. We would be happier and healthier, plus we would be better moms, wives and friends if we just did a few things for ourselves. We vowed to try something new or different every week for a year and write about it. Now, our book, The 52 Weeks, inspired by our blog, is out. We’ve included our adventures and expert advice, and we hope this book gets you doing more things you love.

Don’t now how to get started? Here are 5 Ways to Get Unstuck Right now (and have some fun along the way!):

1. Learn something new. Even if your newborn keeps you at home most days, sign up for an on-line class, learn a new language at home or teach yourself new recipes right from your computer. Learning new things stimulates the mind and improves your mood.

 2. Take 10 minutes to give back. Send flowers to a friend just because, make soup for a sick neighbor, donate clothes you don’t wear anymore to a non-profit organization. Giving back makes you feel like you are doing something beyond your four walls.

3. Hire a sitter for an hour and take a yoga, Pilates or other exercise class. We all know that exercise lifts your spirit. Do one new thing for health and well-being this week.

4. Don’t forget your significant other. As new moms, we often neglect our primary relationships. It may be hard to get out for date night for a while but find time to bond. Take advantage of naptime on weekends and rent a movie together or light a candle and play cards.

5. Get out of your zip code. Hire a sitter or borrow your mom for a while and plan a trip to another neighborhood–even for an hour. Simply getting out of your immediate area can give you a new perspective on everything.”


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10 Ways ‘Maxed Out’ Moms Can Start Changing Things Right Now, Thank You Author Katrina Alcorn

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Katrina Alcorn couldn’t take it. At 37, she had it all: a great husband and job and three sweet kids. Yet, on her way to the store to buy diapers one day, she had a nervous breakdown. She stopped working and began a journey through depression, anxiety, insomnia and medication.

Was she the only one who couldn’t handle the demands of career and family? We all know the answer to that–absolutely not!

It’s no wonder her new book, Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brinkhas created such a buzz lately. In it, Katrina argues that even though women are the primary or substantial earners in two-thirds of American families, the American workplace is uniquely unaccommodating to working mothers. In fact, the U.S. is the only developed country that does not require paid maternity leave. She writes that a whole generation of women are “maxing out” in their attempts to meet the daily demands of their lives.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Below, Katrina suggest 10 Ways Maxed Out Moms Can Start Changing Things Right Now. (And click to the end to see the cool book trailer.)

1. Practice saying no—Working moms have to find ways to say no. It’s not about letting other people down; saying no to others is about saying yes to yourself.

2. Tell your partner what you need—Communicate with your partner about how they can make life a little more manageable, from taking the kids for a few hours to being on dish duty. (more…)

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Read These Awesome Tips for Parents of Quiet Kids

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Do you have an introverted kid? If so, absolutely do not miss the Q&A below with Christine Fonsaca, author of the new book, Quiet Kids: Help Your Introverted Child Succeed in an Extroverted World. She is full of tips and tricks for getting your child to come out of her shell–or for letting her stay safely and happily tucked right inside.

KK: How do you know if your child is introverted?
Ask most parents for a definition of introversion and you typically get words like “shy” or “withdrawn.” Even as introversion is becoming more recognized as a temperament and not a negative behavioral trait, most parents still don’t know the underlying neurological differences in introversion and extroversion. In fact, introversion still tends to be linked with everything from social anxiety disorders to attention problems or autism, a fact that has little basis in truth.

So what is introversion really? One way to answer this is to know what it is not. Introversion is not narcissism or self-centeredness. It is not being shy or aloof. It has to do with how an individual uses energy. Extroverted people typically thrive on the frenetic energy created in socially charged situations, relying on the energy hit as a path toward renewal. Introverts, on the other hand, find such energy draining. Unlike their extroverted counterparts, they require solitude in order to renew, thriving when given ample opportunities to lose themselves in their own thoughts.  The same is true for introverted children.

 A few typical early signs that your child may be introverted include:

  • Hesitation in new situations
  • Appears to be “lost” inside of him or herself
  • Gets grouchy when around people for too long
  • Appears “shy”
  • Becomes agitated with a lot of sensory input (lights, movement, noise, etc)
  • Most comfortable alone or with 1-2 friends
  • Needs “downtime” after school or after highly social activities

KK: What are some tips for parents of young introverted children?
Build downtime into the introvert’s day. Don’t wait until he or she melts down to provide periods of respite. Make it a normal part of every day.
Stop stressing over friendship. The number one thing parents ask me about is friendships. Somehow most of us got it into our head’s that children need many friends. This isn’t always true. One or two close friendships can provide the introverted child with the connections he or she needs in order to cultivate their emotional development.
Be open to differences in temperament. If you happen to be an extroverted parent, your introverted child will seem like a complete enigma. You may be compelled to “fix” the introversion, viewing his or her need for seclusion as an indicator of a larger problem. Resist the urge to characterize the behavior as pathological. Instead, watch your child closely. Does he or she appear happy? Does he or she have one or two friends? Does she appear comfortable at home? If the answer is yes to most of these, there is probably nothing more than temperament at play.

KK: What should parents do to prepare their introverted child for kindergarten?
Transition to school can be challenging for many children, especially introverts. Building routines around school, visiting the campus ahead of time, and making certain your child is well rested are all ways to facilitate the transition. After kindergarten has started, parents should watch for performance difficulties. Sometimes these difficulties relate to temperament as opposed to content mastery. It is important for parents and teachers to work together should a problem arise in school.

KK: What if one of my children is extroverted and the other(s) are introverts? What are some tips for smoothing out the battles with a mixed-temperament household?
Ah yes, the mixed temperament household. Given that introversion accounts for 25 to 30 percent of the population according to most researchers, a mixed temperament household is fairly common. Here are a couple of tips to smooth out some of the rough waters mixed temperament households may experience:

  1. When possible, allow the introvert to have her own room or her own space. This will give her a specific place where she can decompress after a socially-charged school day. 
  2. Teach both the extroverts and introverts about temperament. Help them understand each other’s needs
  3. Be certain to provide both routines and times of calm for the introvert, as well as spontaneity and activity for the extrovert. Both can learn skills from each other, while having their own needs met
  4. Watch out for unfair expectations; the introvert is likely not going to have larger numbers of friends or go out to social venues often, and the extrovert is probably not going to hang out in their room, alone, quietly reading for long periods of time. It’s important to know your child and understand the influence of their natural temperament

KK: It seems like my daughter never has friends. Is this true of most introverts?
One of the common myths about introverts is that they do not have friends. In fact, they often develop close personal friendships with one or two people at a time. If it seems like your child does not have friends, I would listen closely to her recounts of the day. Does she mention anyone at school that she talks to? Does she seem happy socially? If she does, she is likely developing friendships the way most introverts do. There isn’t a social problem unless she has no friends at all and is demonstrating difficulties with peers. 

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It’s Friday! We Made It! No One Died This Week!: We Need the New Book ‘Reasons Mommy Drinks’

Friday, September 20th, 2013

This morning at the bus stop, we parents actually cheered after our young kids got on and left. We called out: “It’s Friday! We made it! No one died this week!”

The six of us–a tightly knit group of moms and dads–would have poured ourselves several tall ones if we’d had time to grab the vodka bottle on the mad rush out the door. Sadly, we were sober. Thankfully, there’s always tonight! And Saturday night! And Sunday, Monday, Tuesday… Okay, okay.

So here’s where I’m going with this: Best friend bloggers Lyranda Martin Evans and Fiona Stevenson completely understand how we were feeling–how every parent feels sometimes–so they wrote a book called Reasons Mommy Drinks that is based on their popular blog. It comes complete with cocktail recipes and o’h-I’ve-been-there’ kinds of stories. For your Friday reading pleasure, they’ve given me permission to excerpt one below:

Page 174: The After Eight
“1 ounce creme de cacao
1 ounce creme de menthe
splash of milk

Fill a glass with ice. Pour in all of the ingredients and stir. Enjoy after 8 p.m. but before 9 p.m. lest you turn into a sleep-deprived gremlin the next day.”

And according to the authors, you need this drink because:

“Nine o’clock used to be a dinner reservation. Now it’s a bedtime. By the time Mommy feeds you squash, washes squash off the wall, and gets you to bed, she has exactly 23 minutes to eat whatever you didn’t in front of The X Factor before she passes out with her hair encrusted in squash. Being up at 2 a.m. used to mean it was a good night. Now it’s a very, very bad night. It means Mommy will also be up at 3 a.m., up at 4 a.m., and up for good at 6 a.m. Those wee hours used to be for flirting with the bartender to keep the drinks flowing while sexting her backup plan for a booty call. Now she spends that time praying you will go back to sleep while texting her sleep-challenged Mommy friends and cursing the “bulletproof” No-Cry Sleep Solution and Daddy’s ability to sleep through anything. Sometimes, when Mommy’s in line for her fourth American Misto of the day, she’ll overhear a 20-something lament about being “soooo exhausted.” When Mommy was single, “exhaustion” referred to a state of ennui that came from being bored with skinny jeans and dating guys with ironic mustaches. Mommy misses that kind of tired.”

If you need a laugh along with some alcohol, pick up this little book. Or give it to your frazzled friend who is in even worse shape than you.

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Kelle Hampton Talks About ‘Bloom’ and Down syndrome

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Popular writer, blogger and photographer Kelle Hampton first released her beautiful memoir called Bloom last year. Recently, it came out in paperback. It’s the story of her family, including two daughters (now she has a baby boy, too), Lainey and Nella. Nella was born with Down syndrome. Kelle emphasizes the importance of not only accepting the unexpected but also embracing it as a gift. Nella is truly an inspiration to anyone who’s met her or read about her online.

I caught up with Kelle and asked her how publishing Bloom has impacted her life. She’s touched many readers through her memoir and blog. Check out what she has to say:

KK: Tell me, in three sentences, what your book is about.
KH: Bloom is the story of the first year with our daughter Nella who was born with Down syndrome. Really it’s a story about perspective–how we survive, grow and become stronger when we allow unexpected circumstances to change us.  And Bloom is a reminder that sometimes it takes the most challenging events in our life to truly appreciate our families, our friendships, our own strengths and to understand how our love for our children is the most unshakeable, grounding and motivating force.

KK: You’ve received some amazing feedback from your fans.  How have your readers’ reactions impacted you?
I think more than anything, I’ve been really moved by the sense of community that I’ve more deeply understood through hearing from readers. Whether it’s a mom who has, like me, welcomed a child with special needs; a woman who’s faced the unexpected with other challenges such as a divorce or losing a loved one; or simply a reader who’s stepped out to say “I read your story. I cried. I know what it’s like to love your child so much it hurts,” I am constantly inspired by the way women learn from each other and support each other. There are so many ways to connect these days. Challenges can feel far less lonely than they did back in our parents’ and grandparents’ era.  We’re in this together.

KK: Since the publication of Bloom you’ve had a third child.  How have the lessons you’ve learned from raising Nella changed your perspective on parenting?
I’ve learned to let go of ideal expectations and redefine perfection, that’s for sure. I think as parents, we don’t even realize how much we expect of our kids and often those expectations are based on our own hopes and dreams. We want our little guys to be great football players, and we imagine Mini Me’s for daughters. You can’t help but begin imagining who your child will be the moment you find out you’re pregnant. But I am continually learning to let go, to let my children show me who they are and what they love. What makes each of my children unique is what makes them perfect.

KK: Have you read any parts of Bloom to your children? What do you hope that someday they will take out of your poignant memoir?
The girls have looked through the book and pointed at pictures. I’ve told them it’s a love story and that I will read it to them someday.  Lainey knows the book is dedicated to her because of how beautifully she welcomed her sister, and that’s about it for now. I dream of the day I will read it to them though. I hope through the story, they will know how much I love them and how strong and capable they are as women to face challenges. And for Nella?  That will be an incredibly cathartic experience–reading Bloom to her when she’s ready. But I know that she will understand just how much of a gift her life is–how she changed me.

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