Category: FOR YOU

choose 3 things to get done

When hitting a stretch of being overwhelmed by too much to do, I turn to the idea of “Choosing 3 Things” to get done in a day to help get me through the chaos and find some footing. Identifying 3 things to accomplish in a day serves several purposes:

1) It forces prioritizing. The act of choosing requires me to evaluate and think about what’s important given the restrictions of time and resources. On any day it could mean making a family dinner happen, attending one of my kids’ sports game, exercising, powering through something at work, helping a friend, or making time to spend alone. Also, what should I make happen today that won’t be a possibility tomorrow?

2) It helps focus energy. The number of things that any of us could possibly do in a day is infinite, often overwhelming, and can distract from the focus necessary to see any one task to completion. There are details and times to remember at home and at work, countless articles and news stories to suggest what each of us could be doing for better health or the greater good. Not all of it’s important–to say nothing of “doable”–and calling up 3 manageable tasks or reachable goals can help focus the energy that will be spent.

3) It allows for a greater sense of accomplishment. The background hum of endless possibility often prevents me from appreciating progress or things that I actually do manage to accomplish, especially since I have a tendency to see the shortfall instead of the distance I’ve come. Choosing 3 can help create a sense of accomplishment and grounding.

Some days just feel like I’m on the other side of the net from one of those tennis ball machines, and all I can do is bat away those fluorescent blurs that keep coming at me, with no time or perspective to place any single shot in a thoughtful or strategic place. Purposefully identifying anchors can help me let some of those balls just fly by, gives me time to get my form and balance right, approach a ball with focus and intention, and take my best swing. –t

2014 holiday give & get, list & links

unnamedToday we share gift ideas at many different price points in three categories: toys, books and whole family gifts. Thanks to those who responded to the survey with their kids’ faves.  We hope you find some inspiration below!

*indicates multiple votes / perennial favorites

 

 

 

TOYS

For 3-5 year olds
Marble Run*
Magnatiles*
Legos*
Water Wizard
Art Supplies*
Beyblades*
Inflatable guitars
EZ steppers
How to Train your Dragon DVD and related costumes and sticker book

For 6-8 year olds
Minecraft (& Minecraft games, toys and books)
Lego sets*
Magic set
Science kit
Scrabble
Snap circuits*
Weaving loom
Razor scooter
Sockem Boppers
Sockem Bopper Power Bag
Nerf all conditions football
Simon
Frozen DVD

For 9-12 year olds
JD Bug Scooter
Perplexus Epic Maze
Chess
Bounce Back Net (for sports)
Taylor Swift concert tickets
Magazine Subscriptions (Muse, Ask, Cobblestone, Sports Illustrated Kids)
Razor ripstik
xBox 360

For 13+
Gift Cards (Starbucks, iTunes, GameStop, Target)
Make up / Sephora Gift Card
Frisbee (Ultimate regulation weight)
Handmade marbles
Magazine subscription (eg People StyleWatch)
Locket necklace
Concert tickets

BOOKS

For 6-8 year olds
Gooseberry Park
Ivy and Bean
Ramona series
Clementine
Diary of A Wimpy Kid -The Long Haul
American Girl Smart Girls Guides
Scat by Carl Hiassen
Guys Read Other Worlds by Jon Scieszka
Skink: No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen

For 9-12 year olds
The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex
City of Ember Series by Jeanne DuPrau
The Greenglass House by Kate Milford
The Mysterious Benedict Society Series by Trenton Lee Stewart
Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Divergent series
Alex Rider series
Minecraft, The Complete Handbook Collection, by Stephanie Milton
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
Holes, by Louis Sachar

WHOLE FAMILY GIFTS
“Movie Night” (share a favorite DVD, movie sized candy selections, microwave popcorn)
World Atlas
Holiday Concert tickets
Telestrations
YMCA / gym membership
Ice cream maker
Popcorn popper
Doodle dice
Badminton set
Puzzles
Bird bingo
Blokus

hand blender

Hand BlenderOK, look out: here comes a post about housewares. With the autumn chill in the air, we’ve recently revisited our love for our hand blenders and decided to mention in case there was anyone out there who still doesn’t yet own one of these fabulous little gadgets. I once blew the top off of my blender and sprayed hot kelly green all over a depressingly large portion of my kitchen during the “blend” step of making spinach soup. My mother-in-law was the one who saved me soon afterward with the gift of the hand blender. For the many years since, I’ve plunged that thing into pots of soup and sauce, and let it whirr with gratitude, to say nothing of relative safety. Even for someone (like me) who likes to keep the kitchen relatively simple and old-school, this plug in is a favorite.–t

For anyone still with great gift ideas to share, click here for the annual give-and-get survey. Results to posted in this blog soon!

lists of gifts

make it doable

make exercise doableOften the biggest challenge to committing to something over time is the size and scope of our expectation. For me, regular exercise has always posed such a challenge. If I felt that I didn’t have enough time for a yoga class or run followed by a shower, I’d bail. But it was assuming that I needed a big chunk of time to make it worthwhile that kept me from exercising on a regular basis.

The shift that has worked for me is to shoot for a shorter amount of time, i.e. to make exercise “doable,” such that consistency and commitment is manageable. Most days I can find 30 minutes. With that time frame in mind, I’ve discovered a few ideas that have created a more reliable (read: more likely to happen) workout. They include:

  1. Mapping out running/walking/biking routes that are 30 minutes out and back from my door
  2. Getting timed workout apps, such as the 7 minute workout app. (Click here for a list of others.)
  3. Using yoga or pilates videos with 20-30 minute sessions, such as Rodney Yee AM/PM Yoga for Beginners

Hooray for “doable!” –n

 

what we’re sending (to welcome a new baby)

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 12.06.28 PMMy cousin and his wife just had a baby!  In deciding what to send to welcome her, I thought back to the gifts that brought our family the most lasting enjoyment: music and books. When my first child was born, a friend whose kids were a few years older sent us a CD of their family’s favorites songs. At first it seemed like a long time before this gift would be relevant, but soon we came to love the songs their family introduced us to. It’s an idea I have borrowed many times since. Similarly, when I was fighting to keep my head above water in the early days of new motherhood, enjoying books together seemed a long way off. Yet in the following months, each time we read a book we received as a gift, I thought about the sender and was grateful.

So today I’ll share the 5 books I’ve sent to welcome the new baby (spoiler alert to my cousin who occasionally reads this blog)–some of my family’s favorites:

  1. I Know a Rhino
  2. Is Your Mama a Llama
  3. Farfallina and Marcel
  4. Tumble Bumble
  5. Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball

Wishing you many hours of snuggly reading together, –n

white board

I love my whiteboard. It’s hangs on the refrigerator in the kitchen, and is our family’s place for the running grocery list, the most critical to-dos, the place to find the daily schedule when things need to get done with a high degree of coordination. It’s where we can all Get On The Same Page.

I’ve recently added an additional smaller whiteboard that holds new lists: things for each of the kids to get done or remember. Of course I could have added these lists to the main whiteboard, but, well, there isn’t really room.

I am now loving this other whiteboard for different reasons. (Why did it take me so long to figure this out?) If there is a job in the house–or other things–for each kid to be responsible for (e.g. empty the dishwasher, return a permission slip, practice violin), there it is on their list! Every time they go to the fridge for a snack or a drink, there it is. A reminder! I feel disproportionately unburdened by this small white rectangle that allows me to not have to be the one who has to remember, remind, and yes, occasionally nag to get things done. –t

the joy of doing one thing

Watching my older children do their homework is fascinating. And a little frightening to me, too. They will routinely have music or something playing through headphones, email or chat windows open, some kind of snack in one hand all while writing a paper. They are, what I guess I’d call, “multitasking.” Funny, though, I feel like I don’t hear that word as much anymore. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I think it’s just become the norm.

I don’t believe that that kind of distracted studying is as good as more focused, uninterrupted engagement. I just don’t. And I’m sure that there are plenty of studies to show that I am right, just as there are probably plenty of studies that show that they, too, are developing and practicing useful skills that will serve them well in the future landscape of technology and work. Who knows?

Enter: focus and mindfulness. While I don’t want to be the grumpy older generation suspicious of All Things Progress, I know–I KNOW–that the swirl and busyness that the velocity of our days has created for adults and kids alike is not a good place to be all of the time. Such frenetic activity requires balance. Periods of constant distraction and quick shifts of topic need to be balanced with quiet and stillness. Quiet and stillness, which is not the same as sleep.

For anyone who gets caught up in the buzz of the multitask, here I’d like to make the case for, once in a while, just doing one thing. Just do one thing. For kind of like, a long time. Read a book. Fold some laundry. Go for a walk. Write a paper. Cook something without needing it to be on the table in 25 minutes. It’s amazing how short attention spans can get when we become accustomed to email intrusion at work, Snapchat during study hours, or even the shorter chunks of time new parents get used to with the demands of a new baby. Restore and fight back every so often by just doing one thing. Try to do it without worrying what is coming next or what you’re not doing instead. It’s harder than it seems, and more satisfying than it looks. –t

diy microwavable rice pillow

photo 1Know a mom who tends to overdo it at the gym, someone who could use a de-stressor, or a granny who would welcome some soothing warmth? The microwavable fleece Rice Pillow is a great DIY gift year ‘round, and a simple project if you’re looking for something to do with the kids (or by yourself) for Mother’s Day. A friend gave me one a few years ago for Christmas. While at first I missed her usual delicious baked goods, the Rice Pillow was truly a gift that kept on giving. I’ve used the thing a million times.

Here are some basic steps in making your own. This one will be about 16” x 8”, but you can make any size you’ve got the rice for.  You’ll need:

  • A piece of fleece (folded in half it will be about the size of your finished product)
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
  • Rice (e.g. long grain, jasmine, basmati)
  • A funnel, pitcher with a spout, or paper to make a funnel to fill the pillow

Things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t use instant rice – it may catch on fire when heated.
  • A microwave is necessary to heat the finished pillow (i.e. if your grandmother doesn’t own a microwave, this will be a lame gift).
  • Measurements aren’t critical to the success of this project!

The Step-by-Step:

1. Fold the fleece in half, right side in, and stitch the side edges closed. Sew the top, leaving about 3” in the center open. If hand sewing, make sure your stitches are close together so that rice can’t escape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Turn the rectangle-with-the-small-hole you just made right side out through that small hole.

 

3. Stitch a few seams from the fold to about an 1-½”  from the top (parallel to the edge). The space at the top will allow you to fill the sections.

 

4. Fill each section ⅔ – ¾ full with rice using the funnel or pitcher. It’s easiest to fill the outer sections first. Over a sink is a good idea!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Sew the hole in the top closed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Wrap with a card containing instructions! This thing can look like a blob, and a wide ribbon around a rolled up pillow really does wonders for presentation. Instructions: Heat on high in microwave for about 2 minutes–smaller pillows obviously will take less time than larger–add time in 30 second intervals until the heat is just right…aaaaahhhh. Kick back and relax.

for deserving moms – a mother’s day special!

MD gift wrapNeed a baby gift for a recent arrival?
Know a young family with a great mom?
Or want to have some pre-wrapped baby gifts ready
for when you get the good news?

Perfect timing – the annual Food for Thoughtful Parenting
Mother’s Day Special is on!

For each copy of Food For Thoughtful Parenting sold from April 22 to May 6, we’ll make a donation to The Watertown Family Network, an organization that supports families through educational classes and playgroups, “helping parents become the best parents they can be.” We’ll gift wrap for free and include a card to announce the donation. Great gifting and do-gooding all in one!

Offer good from April 22th through May 6th. Orders must be placed on this site. Unless otherwise noted, all books will be gift wrapped and sent to the buyer with a gift card included. If you’d like us to send the book directly to someone with a personalized note, please include the desired text in “special instructions for the seller” during PayPal Checkout and provide recipient’s address in the shipping section.

And please pass this along or share on Facebook with anyone else that might want to know about this offer. -n&t

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