Use the “sandwich” approach to give your children feedback.

A Sandwich photo

I just did this with my kids yesterday. It is the process of “sandwiching” the meat of constructive criticism between two positive comments.

My live example:

> Compliment (positive) – “You folded your pajamas so beautifully. Fantastic!”

> Coach (criticism) – “Let’s try and see if we can also remember to make the bed next time before you come down for breakfast.”

> Encourage (positive) – “When you make your bed in the morning and come home from school, don’t you feel happy when your room looks neat because your bed has been made?”

I feel this approach makes the constructive criticism a bit softer and kids are more receptive to it.

I think you have to use the method which works best for you and the person receiving the feedback. I really like the “sandwich” approach because I feel it is nice to acknowledge you’re doing something right (folding pajamas), but then letting the child know there is opportunity for improvement (making the bed) and why it is important in a positive way ( made bed = relaxed and happy).

This method works for me. What works for you when you provide feedback to your children?


Have a staycation. Enjoy your own backyard.


A backyard photo with child

I learned this from my roommate from college last year. Whilst she enjoys traveling with her family at times, the family likes to spend time at home, relax and enjoy what they have right in their own backyard. Life can he so hectic so why not keep it simple and travel a few feet to your own outdoor space? ( For apartment building dwellers, enjoy what your local park has to offer )

The staycation definitely keeps in line with my theme for the summer of “Less is More” and being able to accomplish a few items on my Summer Bucket List. This past weekend’s weather was fabulous and my husband created this makeshift swing with an IKEA stepper and some rope (picture in this post) How creative and awesome is that? Girls had lots of fun…. We’ll see how long the swing lasts, but it definitely contributed to a nice two day staycation in our very own backyard.

YOLO! Relax and take it easy.

A backyard photo

Homemade gifts are the most treasured gifts.

I love daddy picture

With Father’s Day this weekend, I am sure the younger kids have made things for dad at school. These gifts have so much more meaning than store bought gifts.

I have another simple homemade gift idea I wanted to share with you. It can be used for many different occasions – Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
Instructions for “I Love (insert person’s name) Box”

– Write down 10-20 different reasons you love this person

– Type up the reasons on individual lines

– Print out and cut into small strips of paper (like the ones you see in Chinese fortune cookies)

– Put the little strips of paper in a jar or box.

My daughters did this a few years ago and my husband really liked it. These are some examples of what they wrote about their dad:

– I like how he has grown up – Sophia

– He is so sweet – Ava

– He drives us to our favorite places like Dutch Wonderland – Sophia

– He is so handsome – Ava

It is simple and meaningful gift… a creative and wonderful keepsake.

Happy Father’s Day to all!

Have you ever taken the time to think about what’s in a name?

A Name Tag

The history behind names can be so fascinating. When one gets married in today’s age, some people change their last name and others do not for different reasons. I am excited to have another YOLO mom, Christine, as a guest blogger sharing her perspective on names.

“I have always been a girl with a simple name. My parents named me Christine, which as a child my family called me Chris. I was a bit of a tom boy who loved sports and going fishing with my Dad so Chris was very fitting. My Dad always nicknamed people and called me Chrissy baby which was so endearing.

My grandfather, Joseph Baltaitis, was Lithuanian and changed his name to White so it would be easier for business. Baltaitis translates to “white” in English. Short and sweet – Christine White. Easy to say, spell and remember.  I was a happy girl with a happy life!

Well one day I met a boy name Zoran Jovanovic. Everyone called him Zoro, how cool is that!

Fast forward fifteen years and during our engagement, Zoro won a trip to Disney! So off we went with the Jovanovic family to Orlando. The hotel couldn’t find our reservation and had misspelled Jovanovic so badly it took a while for them to find it. I made a mental note to myself….. imagine checking into a hotel in China after 24 hours of traveling? I traveled a lot for business and sometimes it was hard enough checking in as White in some countries.

Zoro and I got married four months later and when the priest asked me to sign the marriage certificate I asked him which name? So I signed Christine Jovanovic, which looked lovely on paper!

So after a wonderful honeymoon, I came home and never changed my name.

Seven years later,  I was looking at a sonogram screen and saw my name in the corner and thought “Oh no, I will have a different name then my baby..Maybe it’s time to change my name now. “ I had been working in my field almost 20 years, was in sales and everyone knew me as Christine White.

Well here I am today, the proud mother of a girl with a different name. Once in a while I will get a call at the office from the school nurse asking for Mrs. Jovanovic and my receptionist is caught off guard and thinks who’s that?

My favorite name now is just Julia’s mom. “

What is the parenting life lesson? People change or don’t change their name for various reasons. It is important to be respectful and not make assumptions of why names may be different. Instead, find out the history behind the name which is always sure to be a fascinating story. Thanks for sharing, Christine.

NOFO (North Fork, NY): Road trips should have fun activities for adults and kids.


As summer is just around the corner, I am going to stick with the road trip theme and elaborate a bit on a fantastic road trip we took in the spring. It was a perfect mix of fun for adults and the kids… I am a big fan of TripAdvisor and am always gathering tips on my smart phone when people I meet provide recommendations.

Here are the highlights of a perfect day trip with the kids to NOFO:

  • Catapano Dairy Farm– Peconic, NY – This is a goat farm and they make a nice assortment of goat cheese and other gift items also. This was the first stop and was fun for the kids since they could pet and feed the goats.
  • Croteaux Vineyards– Southold, NY  Our next stop was our favorite vineyard in NOFO – When you enter the tasting room area outside, it is magical. It is like taking a mini vacation to Provence. While children are welcome, they are asked to stay close to their party to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone. This vineyard specializes in Rose wine which is light and perfect for the summer. Note: Limousines and buses (large parties are not welcome) which provides for more of an intimate setting from the other vineyards.
  • The Lunch Truck – Southold, NY – After our wine tasting, we were hungry and stopped at the food truck located behind the famed James Beard award winning North Fork Table and Inn. We grabbed some yummy pork pulled sandwiches for the adults and the kids enjoyed some fancy hot dogs with fries. We sat outside on a picnic blanket and enjoyed the afternoon sun.
  • By Aldo Coffee – Greenport, NY – By now we needed a little caffeine hit and this coffee house with actual coffee beans roasting in the front of the shop did not disappoint. Delicious coffee and cappuccino and the best biscotti ever .
  • Carousel – Greenport, NY– The kids were looking for some fun again so we visited this old carousel built in the 1920’s located close to the water. You can catch the brass ring and catch a free ride – $2.00/ride
  • R/T Boat Ride to Shelter Island from Greenport, NY – We could see Shelter Island in the distance and decided to take a R/T trip boat ride as foot passengers. $4 R/T per adult for the boat ride and the kids were free. It was a beautiful day and it was just about a ten minute ride with a nice breeze in our hair and the sun starting to set. It was fun for the kids (like a train ride to the city). It was getting a bit late, so we decided to immediately turn back and return to Greenport. Today was more about the boat ride vs exploring Shelter Island.
  • Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices – Greenport, NY Before our trip back home, we loaded up on some Italian ices which were a delightful way to end the day.

PS – Other great places to try: Eriks’ in Southold, NY for breakfast or lunch – tasty food, reasonable prices and kid friendly; Lavender By the Bay, Marion, NY – we picked up an English Lavender plant and it is doing very well in our backyard. They provided great planting and care instructions.

So what is the parenting life lesson? It’s all about balance. Road trips and family vacations are not all about the kids. If the kids want to have fun, the adults need some fun too. YOLO (You Only Live Once)


Road trips in our minivan paired with “old school” games create special family memories.

2013 Honda Odyssey Minivan

I truly love our Honda Odyssey minivan which we got last spring. I don’t know what the hang up is with minivans vs SUVs. I knew as soon as I sat in the 3rd row of the Honda Odyssey that this minivan was the way to go…comfortable and lots more legroom…great for family trips.

Our first road trip from New York to Vermont sat 6 adults and 2 children comfortably. We also have had fun trips to the North Fork, LI and hope to have many more this summer. Having room for eight people makes road trips more fun. I am not a fan of extended periods of electronic games/DVD players on road trips, but more about playing games with the family.

These are our 5 favorite road trip games (in no particular order)

1) License plate game – There are many ways to play this game, but our version is as follows:

* Guess the number of license plates we will see on the trip and I track everyone’s guess on my smart phone.

* Then the license plate hunt looking out the window begins, but I summarize them collectively.

* When we reach the destination, I tally up the number of license plates and the person who has the closest guess wins.

* Sometimes there is money involved – $5-$25 for the winner. If you are able to repeat all of the states from memory, the winner receives double the money.

2) Table Topics – set of 135 clever questions cards that ask a different question, from lighthearted fun to thought-provoking. No rules, just great conversations! (I have multiple versions of this game – – it is always lots of fun and you really get to learn wonderful things about family and friends)

For example – What was your favorite all-time vacation? (They even have a Table Topic to Go version for Road Trips)

3) Name Game – You create names with certain nouns that start with a specific letter. You start with the beginning of the alphabet and then go through the entire alphabet.

For example, “ A my name is Ava, I live in Alabama and I sell apples.” The next person starts with B (B my name is Birgitta and I live in Brooklyn and I sell bagels) and the same routine continues until you get to the letter Z.

4) Road Trip Bingo – This is basically a scavenger hunt on the road. You can buy Road Trip Bingo Boards on Amazon or you can just make them up yourself with items you think you may see on the road – (For example: stop signs, railroad crossing, farm, plane, bird on a wire, traffic light, cat, dog, airplane, truck, train, horse, tractor, orange car, etc.

5) ABC Game

* Look for signs on the side of the road or highway

* Start out with the letter “A” and find that letter on the sign somewhere

* Continue with the letter “B” and so forth… (You can make it easier or harder by having the word start with that specific letter or it can just be a letter on the sign. )

Summer vacation is around the corner! Children do grow up so quickly. Let the family road trip planning begin!