Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Mom’s Guide to Balancing Work and Family

As the Mommy Wars wage on, the longstanding battle between working mothers and those who stay at home can get particularly nasty. When over-scheduled, over-tired working moms have trouble striking the delicate balance between parenting and maintaining a demanding career, many find themselves unsure of where to turn, suffering in silence rather than opening the proverbial can of worms. Finding ways to balance work and family isn’t easy, but it isn’t altogether impossible, either.

Establish a Routine
Laying down the groundwork for a consistent and reliable family routine is almost always a struggle in the beginning. Changing not only your own habits, but also encouraging a change in each member of your family’s lives, takes its toll in the beginning. However, when you are able to establish a workable routine for your family, it can help make a noticeable difference in the way your household runs, and even free up more time for all of you to spend together.

Understand the Power of “Me” Time
When you feel as if you’re always running on just slightly less than enough sleep, the idea of getting up even earlier or staying up even later can be downright repellent. Carving out a few minutes of time for yourself each day, even if it’s only 10 or 15 minutes, lets you recharge your internal batteries and prepare for upcoming tasks without being forced to attend to an unexpected crisis.

Encourage Independence
Helping your children learn to take charge of as much of their own morning routine as reasonably possible not only frees up a bit of time for you to attend to your own needs, but also encourages independence and self-reliance in your kids at a relatively young age. While you certainly don’t want to rush your child into completing tasks he’s not quite developmentally ready for, you can squelch the urge to be a helicopter parent while simultaneously allowing yourself a bit of space.

The Caregiver Conundrum
If you don’t have a caregiver that you absolutely trust, there’s a good chance that you’re going to struggle with the tasks before you each day as your mind wanders back to the kids. Finding the perfect nanny or care center can be an overwhelming and time-consuming task, but it’s one that pays off in spades when you’re able to confidently and competently manage the demands of your daily life without worrying about your kids’ welfare.

Schedule Religiously
It may feel a bit silly to schedule out something as small as a 10 minute coffee break, but do it anyway. Maintaining a detailed schedule allows you to break your day down at a glance, figuring out how much you still have to do and where you need to be before you’re able to settle in at home for some family time. Don’t underestimate the power of the smartphone planner; mobile devices today can manage almost every aspect of your professional and personal life, usually down to the minute.

Kick Guilt to the Curb
Feeling remorse about the fact that your children are in the care of others is natural and normal, but it’s also a feeling you should squash whenever it rears its ugly head. Remind yourself of all the opportunities that your children have because of the income you bring in and how much you’re able to provide, and make a promise to clear out an entire day to spend quality time with them. In order for those promises to spend time with your children to be effective at warding off that guilt, however, you’ll have to keep them. When the weekend rolls around or you’re able to take an impromptu vacation day, spend every waking minute of it having fun with your kids. Don’t let the demands of work pull at you for a full 24 hours, so that you can return with fresh eyes and a clear head, free of nagging guilt and regret.

Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No.”
When you’re accustomed to taking on more than you can handle and managing every aspect of your professional life as well as running a household, it’s understandable to feel as if no one is quite capable of handling things in a manner that lives up to your standards. Reminding yourself that it’s okay to say “no” and okay to let someone else take the reins for a while may take a bit of conditioning and lots of effort, but the ability to delegate tasks and entrust them to other people will relieve some of your stress.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Book Review: Not Even the SKY is the LIMIT!

“The stories I love doing the most are the ones that empower those who may not otherwise have a voice—especially those who live in poverty or who are disabled.”

Publisher: Halo Publishing, Int.
ISBN: 978-1-61244-199-3 (hard cover)

About the Book:
Not Even The SKY Is The LIMIT, is a book showcasing the abilities of children and adults with Down Syndrome. The book is the result of the author’s own beautiful journey to find out what life with her daughter would be like. Turn the pages and you’ll see that people with Down Syndrome are able to enjoy doing everything everyone else does. In fact, as you see here, not even the sky is the limit!

Not Even The SKY Is The LIMIT, is inspired by the authors daughter Gianna, who has Down Syndrome. The book is also meant for adults, who will clearly see by turning the pages that there are no limits to what those living with disabilities can do.

Overall Thoughts:
This isn't your typical picture book with a story, main character and whimsy style of writing. Zarrella instead shows young readers that no matter who you are or where you come from, you can do anything if you can dream. With vivid photos of children to adults with Down Syndrome this message is handed to all who flip the pages of this book. 

For those looking for a colorful concept book to help teach basic reading skills to kids or just to open early conversations with their young readers, you won't be disappointed with this book. Kids will learn sports to art. You can even use the colorful backgrounds to teach colors as well as show young children they can do anything.

A portion of the proceeds from the book will be donated to organizations that improve the lives of people who live with Down Syndrome.

You can find out more about Denise Zarrella, her book and World of Ink Author/Book Tour at


Sunday, October 20, 2013

10 Tips for Helping Kids Be Independent

Raising independent children is hard work, but it’s one of the most rewarding things you can do, for them and for you! Children who are able to solve their own problems and do things for themselves are happier and more relaxed about the world around them. They are less stressed about how everything is going to get done because they are in control of the situation. It takes time to teach kids how to be independent, so be patient with the process and expect a few messes along the way!
  1. Set clear boundaries – Let children know what their boundaries are and what is expected of them. There should be no surprises in what they are allowed to do on their own and when they should ask for help. If there are questions, kids should talk to the grown-up in charge and discuss the situation with them.
  2. Create structure and routine that encourages independence – Set kids up to be able to help themselves as much as possible. Put cups on lower shelves, keep drinks on the lowest shelf in the fridge, have children sort and put away their own laundry, let them pick out their own clothes and dress themselves in the mornings and create a snack shelf in the fridge with healthy options. The more they can do for themselves, the more that a sense of independence will be created for them.
  3. Teach problem solving skills – If children have a problem, teach them the skills they need to solve it. A common problem children have is fighting among siblings. Instead of always stepping in, give them the option of resolving the conflict with each other on their own. Role-playing is a great way to introduce these skills without having all the emotion of a real conflict in the way.
  4. Show empathy – It’s important for kids to know you care while they are figuring out how to solve a situation. Tell them that you care about what happens to them, but that you’d also like for them to be the one who figures out the solution. You won’t allow them to get physically hurt, but they do need to find a solution that they think will work.
  5. Let them fail – It sounds harsh, but allow for mistakes. The best consequences are the ones that occur naturally. For example, forgetting your homework at home will mean you will suffer a consequence at school. It’s a learning experience, but one that is sure to help your child remember their homework next time! Let them spill the milk when trying to pour it into their glass, then show them how to clean it up and try again!
  6. Let them do it themselves – Have children be responsible for their own belongings on a trip. They can pack a small backpack of toys and books to bring on a trip, be responsible for carrying it through the airport and onto the plane and make sure that all of their belongings get back into the backpack for the trip home.
  7. Give choices – Let children think for themselves and give them reasonable choices about their day. If they need to be dressed up that day, allow them to choose the blue or the grey shirt. Have them help you decide which snacks to prepare, what project to work on, what homework they’d like to do first and other choices throughout the day.
  8. Let them speak for themselves – When you are at a restaurant have your child order their own food or if you’re at a medical appointment have them speak to the receptionist, nurse and doctor. This gives them the opportunity to learn how to interact with people outside of their social groups and in professional settings.
  9. Interject, but don’t intervene – When children are in the middle of figuring out a problem, but are struggling a bit, don’t solve the problem for them. It’s okay to offer suggestions and ideas if they are truly stuck, but it’s important that they use the thought process to get themselves out of the situation. Your children will probably surprise you by coming up with solutions that you may have not even thought of!
  10. Practice how to practice – Practicing is a life-long skill that we all use on a daily basis. If your child takes up a musical instrument, but halfway through the year decides they no longer want to play it, use the experience as a practicing experience. They need to finish their commitment and should consider it practice for life. Make sure to explain that to them.
Being independent isn’t easy, nor is it fast. There are times when you are truly in a hurry and kids won’t be able to practice, but try to allow for times when your children can do things on their own, even if that means waking up 15 minutes earlier in the morning! Kids who are independent will turn into teenagers who are independent and able to make solid choices, because at some point, you won’t be there to guide their every move. It’s important to give them the tools today so that they grow to be successful adults.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Interview with Author S. Jenny Boyer

Ms. Boyer is a retired nurse, an Infection Control Practitioner, whose world changed dramatically when she let the words swirling inside her escape to paper. Her story of her beloved cat, how he came to live with her later in his life and the lessons she learned from him, changed her life for the better.

Tell us about your current book. Give a short summary.
The book is about the life of a wonderful tabby cat whose zest for living helped him meet and overcome the challenges he faced. T appeared I am sure by divine guidance, in my yard somewhere in the second half of his 20+ years. As I wrote of our time together, I was amazed at all the life lessons he reinforced for others and me. These lessons alone became one of the reasons that I felt compelled to finish and then publish his story. Daily T reminded me that the most important of life's lesson are very simple. It is we who complicate things, and miss out on obvious blessings. Things like baking in the sun, sipping water from a leaf cup, or a stroll through the woods can enrich a day that might otherwise be taken for granted.

The following are some of the lessons T reinforced in my life:


      LET HIM WORK.  





Can you tell us about your publisher and how the process worked in getting published?
Without a doubt, my late start in writing influenced my decision to self publish. I wanted to experience holding in my hands the words I felt I had been led to write. HALO Publishing International was recommended by a friend. I felt a smaller publisher would be able to give me more personal guidance since this was my first experience publishing a book. I interviewed with the CEO of HALO, Lisa Umina, and compared their information packet to several others found on the internet. Her enthusiasm and the name of the company helped determine my decision. The author has to do a lot of the finishing work herself, but Lisa and her staff were always there when I had questions.

How did you get the idea for this book?
SpecialT was the favorite of the many pets I had had over the years. I loved all of our pets, but T played my heart like a fined tuned instrument, each note simple and pure. I needed to write his song to me, thus his story. For years, I had kept notes about different things I thought I would like to write about. The majority ended up being about SpecialT.

What is a typical writing day like for you?
Each day is different. I am retired so I can be very flexible. I always start about 4-5 AM, when the house is quiet after my husband leaves for work. The writing can extend anywhere from 2-8 hours depending on my progress.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
Being productive, putting words together to tell my story at a time many people are just beginning to wake up. Obviously, I am a morning person, and as soon as my eyes open, I am ready to go.

What is the most difficult part of writing?
Believing in myself. For months, I did not tell anyone I was writing a book. Finally, I started reading bits and pieces to my family and they were very encouraging.

How has publishing a book changed your life?
My previous career was in the medical field. For 40 years, I was a nurse. Today I am meeting so many people from different walks of life that I would never have come in contact with without publishing the book.

If your book is based on true events, how has that affected those around you or why made you choose to use historical events?
Most are amazed at the depth of my feelings for SpecialT, and that I even had the inclination to write them down.

What are your plans now?
I plan to spend the next several months marketing this book. I will then publish a collection of 14 short stories about little creatures and the lessons they can teach us.

What is your best tip for aspiring authors?
Don't be afraid of your own words. Write them down. Not everyone will like them, but that is OK.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readership? (Here you can share about characters, historical facts, setting or whatever else you would like our readers to know about your book.)
The story about SpecialT has especially touched cat lovers. Many have expressed to me how their cats also taught them lessons, or reinforced good principles of living, just by being themselves. There is also the story within the story of T's life, before he came to me, that reveals God had a plan for this cat's life.

The book is written for individual or family reading.

Do you have a website? If so, please give the URL. If not, where can readers go online to learn more about your book(s) and to order?
Readers can find me on Facebook, and the book is available on line on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from HALO Publishing International. I can be contacted by email to arrange for a signed copy.

The World of Ink Network is touring debut author Jenny Boyer’s riveting inspirational memoir, SpecialT in October and November 2013.

The author's desire is to inspire others to appreciate how God uses animals, sometimes very wise and wonderful ones like SpecialT, to enrich our lives if we only open our hearts and minds to the lessons they can teach us, just by being themselves.

You can find out more about Jenny Boyer, her book and World of Ink Author/Book Tour at


*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive.