After a few years of being a first time dog owner, we have learned a great many lessons along the way.

a double dog photo

Our puppies(dogs), Max and Bella celebrated their 2nd birthdays this past week. I thought it would be nice to reflect upon the lessons we have learned being proud parents of these two furry children.

 14 “Dog Parenting Lessons” we have learned so far:

1 – Unconditional love – Max and Bella are always excited to see us, snuggle with us and provide great companionship.

2 – Getting two dogs at the same time was a good idea. – At first everyone thought we were crazy and so did I, but they play nicely with each other (most of the time) and keep each other company when we are not home.

3 – Crating puppies is helpful for housetraining, general training and a safe way to transport your puppies. – We have not “crated” our dogs in a long time, but it was very helpful in the beginning. We now restrict them in an open pen/enclosed area when we are not home. It keeps them safe and out of mischief.

4 – Avoid certain foods and don’t give them too much food. – Never give them raisins, grapes, onions and chocolate. Until I had dogs, I had no idea these items (especially chocolate) could be very dangerous for them.

5 – Give them one or two toys at a time. – If you give them too many toys, they may not know your shoes are not a chew toy.

6 – Teaches kids great sense of responsibility – We all know who is doing most of the work (me!), but at least our daughters know they have to help with walking, feeding and taking the dogs to relieve themselves. They do what they can with a smile when asked.

7 – Favorite Dog Products 

Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray – taste deterrent which prevents destructive chewing

Kong Dog Toy – favorite chew toy which we usually fill with peanut butter and then put in the freezer. The frozen peanut butter will keep them busy for a longer period of time.

Nature’s Miracle Advanced Stain & Odor Remover – smells nice and helps prevent repeat accidents in the same place in your home.

8 – Puppies are like toddlers; you can’t leave them unattended. They may eat small items (erasers, pencils, etc. ). Be careful of the chewy toys which squeak because if they eat the “squeaker”, you may need an emergency visit at the vet. (Luckily, this has never happened us.)

9 – EST every dayExercise (walking the dogs), Socialization and Training are important for dogs, but this winter was a bit tough to keep up with regular exercise. Keep in mind walking dogs is regular built in exercise for you.

10 – You meet a lot of people in your neighborhood – it’s a great way to meet your neighbors!

11 – When dogs bark, there is usually a reason – We can now recognize by the sound of their bark if they are hungry, need to go to the bathroom or if someone is coming to the door before they ring the doorbell/leaving a package.

12- Dogs just want to please us and really enjoy belly rubs. – They like positive feedback and recognition – don’t we all?

13 – They love to get their rest, relax and play. We could probably all benefit from learning these “skills” from them.

14 –Travel requires more planning – While you lose flexibility to just get up and go away for longer periods of time, the love and affection we have received from Max and Bella is well worth it! Can’t imagine our lives without them!

Happy Birthday Max and Bella. We love you!

 

Advertisements

God works in mysterious ways. Miracles do happen.

Angels

I can’t remember the exact date, but it was 1999 and my mother had been diagnosed with colon cancer for the 2nd time. We met with the surgeon who said he could not operate because the cancer had metastasized. Chemotherapy for the rest of her life was the treatment. That seemed like a death sentence to me and I was determined to explore options.

After the meeting with the doctor, I went back into the city on the train. I was mentally drained and exhausted. When I looked up, I saw a friend from high school I had not seen in years. I truly feel God put this friend (angel) on the train for me to meet that day. That “chance” meeting is the reason my mother is still here and alive today.

Long story short, my friends’ coworker’s mother in law had a similar colon cancer diagnosis and suggested we get a 2nd opinion from Dr. Sugarbaker at the Washington Cancer Institute, Washington Hospital Center, in Washington, D.C. He had an innovative treatment which consisted of surgery and heated chemotherapy in the affected area where the cancer was. I won’t go into all of the details, but the point being she was a viable candidate for this surgery, the treatment worked and my mother is still here 15 years later. We are all extremely grateful.

I feel my mother’s situation was truly a miracle. When I meet someone who is impacted by cancer, I pray to God to help them find the best information/treatments for their situation. Had I not met my friend on the train that day, I don’t know if I ever would have found out about Dr. Sugarbaker.

I hope I can be that “angel” to help someone else some day. Miracles do happen.

 

Teach your children people and relationship skills.

A handshake

Will it be possible to have a non-digital conversation 20 years from now? I am saddened when I see children out with their families and on their electronic gadgets not having conversations with one another at a restaurant. This is an opportunity for families to connect and talk about what is going on in their lives.

Here are five small things parents can do to foster “people” skills in their children:

1- No tech gadgets at the dinner table/restaurants: We had lunch at Benihana (one of our favorite family restaurants) and sat across from a family of five. Each of the 3 children was on their own electronic gadget and adults the same. No one was talking with each other; it made me sad. Say “no” to tech gadgets when eating meals. Focus and enjoy your food and conversation.

2- Ask questions of family members: I did this on our past family vacation. I asked family members what lessons they have learned in their lives. It led to very interesting interesting conversations. The game Table Topics is also a great way to help get the conversation going.

3- Selling Girl Scout cookies* door to door vs selling them online: Initially, I was so excited about the Girl Scouts going digital with online sales, but then I thought about it. The whole art of the sale is lost because who is setting up the online site? Me and not my daughters…There is no personal interaction and work presenting yourself and the sale. So we will continue to go door to door to build those relationship skills

* It may not be Girl Scout Cookies, but at some point your kids may have to sell something to raise funds for an initiative.

4- Firm handshakes (from a previous post)

Ever since the girls were little, I would play this game with them: “Let’s pretend we are meeting for the first time; what would you do?” They would then shake my hand, look me in the eye and say “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” I would explain to them it’s always important to look at people in the eye (at least in America it is) and give them a nice solid handshake (I hate “wet fish” handshakes). It’s a basic networking skill, but I know they will continue to be able to use it during their lifetime.

5- Teach your kids the importance of “Thank You” – When one receives a gift, you want to acknowledge the gift. I think the ideal situation is to write a handwritten note 24 hours after you have received the gift, but let’s be realistic. I think in this electronic age, a handwritten thank you note is a nice touch, but I am also a fan of “Thank You Videos” – I will very often take a video clip of girls where they convey their thanks and send it to the gift giver. I can’t say we are always perfect with the thank you but we try.

It is important for parents to take the time to teach their kids these skills. Our children can only benefit from them. So what do you do to foster people and relationship skills in your kids?

Aesop’s fables can teach many valuable life lessons.

Aesop Fable Picture

As a child, I always enjoyed reading Aesop’s fables, but always wondered who Aesop was. Is he a real person? It is said he was born a slave around 620 BC in Greece or Ethiopia. He was a gifted storyteller and each story had a valuable lesson. These fables were passed down from parents to children for hundreds of years and eventually were recorded in written form.

These stories are short and simple and teach both young and old valuable life lessons.

Top 10 Favorite Aesop’s Fables “Parenting” Life Lessons (in no particular order):

1- Finish your work before you play. (The Kid and the Wolf)

2- Slow and steady wins the race. (The Tortoise and the Hare)

3- Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched. (The Milkmaid and her Pail)

4 – Misfortune is the test of true friendship. (The Two Travelers and the Bear)

5 – Once a wolf, always a wolf. (The Helpful Wolf)

6 – It is of no use to read the stars if you can’t see what’s right here on earth. (The Astrologer)

7 – Heaven helps those who help themselves. (Hercules and the Farmer)

8- There is a time for work and a time for play. (The Ants and the Grasshopper)

9- Self-help is the best help. (The Lark and Her Young Ones)

10- You are judged by the company you keep. (The Farmer and the Stork)

I use these life lessons for parenting all the time. It is any easy way to teach a lesson to both kids and adults alike.

When nature calls for a big snow storm, enjoy it with your kids.

A YOLO SNOW STORM

If you are living in the northeast region of the US, there is a great deal of snow outside. Hopefully you can work from home or take the day off when a really big snow storm hits. Have some fun with the kids! They will remember this time with their parents.

My Top 5 Favorite Things to do with the Kids in the Snow:

  1. Build a snowman
  2. Go sledding
  3. Make snow angels
  4. After playing outside, make hot chocolate
  5. Play board games and/or watch a favorite movie – Monopoly? “Frozen” anyone?

YOLO (You Only Live Once) – have fun!

 

10 Tips to Keep Parents Sane over the Holidays

Stay Sane

I posted this last year and the tips are definitely worth repeating….

1. It’s ok to say no : Everyone knows the holidays can be hectic. My husband always says “Less is more”. You don’t have to justify why you can’t make it. You just can’t – end of story.

Wait a minute… I just had a funny Marcia Brady flashback – Click here to go to the utube video clip (and yes, Doug Simpson is Friedrich from the original Sound of Music movie)

2. Order online : This is a no brainer and I have posted about this before. Amazon Prime is the way to the go. Many items will be at your door step within two days and you will never even have had to leave your home.

3. It’s not about the gifts : Don’t make this holiday so commercial. It’s not what it is all about… Keep Christ in Christmas. Go to your “new toy” closet (you know you have one) and give gifts to those who are less fortunate – Toys for Tots, church drives, etc.

4. Send out “Happy New Year” cards : So many people stress out about getting their cards out before Christmas because they don’t have the perfect picture where everyone is smiling. I personally really enjoy getting cards with the kids and family on them, but you don’t have to send them out before Christmas. In order to remain sane, you may need to send out Happy New Year cards or don’t send any out at all – who says you have to?

5. Have the kids make gifts: Make Rainbow Loom bracelets, pictures, ornaments, etc. It will keep the kids busy and out of your hair while you are trying to get things done at home. Who doesn’t like to get a handmade gift from a child?

6. Give gift experiences : How many gifts can Santa really bring? I have posted about this before for birthday gifts. Gift cards are an excellent choice for massages, restaurants, movies, ice cream, carousel rides, Chuckie Cheese, nail salons, etc. How about cooking, wine or cheese classes? Tickets to the theater or the circus? They are practical and fun gifts the person on the receiving side will enjoy and will not take up a lot of space in the house.

7. Break down your “things to do” list : We all have huge lists of things to do, but breaking the list down into small bites makes a list of twenty items seem doable. I take a piece of paper and write down three things I have to get done and it helps me focus. Once I have completed those items, then I tackle the next three items on my list. Try it. I really think it helps you feel you are in control and getting things done.

8. Ask for help : Car pool, get a babysitter, have your significant other/grandparents watch the kids while you run around to get everything done.

9. Be satisfied and enjoy the present moment : Enjoy the smell of your holiday wreath and/or Christmas tree, cookies baking in the oven, watching Christmas shows on TV, holiday lights, the sparkle in your childrens’ eyes because they love the holidays as much as you do. That is what it is all about. Enjoy the moment!

10. Laugh and have fun : Laughter is a great stress reliever. Enjoy the holidays! If it’s not “perfect”, there is always next year!

Teach your kids to be grateful: Create a gratitude tree.

A gratitude tree

With the Thanksgiving holiday this week, it is the perfect time to talk to your kids about being grateful and thankful for the many blessings in their lives.

My friend and fellow YOLO mom, Denise, shared a wonderful idea with me. She created a gratitude tree (picture in this post). This can be a fun way to share blessings your family is grateful for and is also nice decor for your home during the holidays.

It’s very simple and inexpensive to make:

  • Take some small tree branches from your backyard or your local craft store and put them in a vase
  • Cut some leaves out of construction paper, punch a hole in them and attach a string/ribbon to the leaf
  • Ask your kids/family/friends to draw pictures or write about things they are grateful for on the leaves
  • Hang the leaves on the branches
  • Now you have a beautiful gratitude tree 🙂

Here are few other ideas to help your kids to continue thinking about what they are grateful for:

1 – Play a “gratitude” game: My husband, girls and I kept going around table saying things we were grateful for. I would say we did about 10 rounds and I was taking notes to help the girls write these items on leaves for our family gratitude tree.

2 – Thanksgiving dinner table – As you go around the dinner table, have everyone talk about one thing they are grateful for this year.

3 – Letters to Santa – As the kids are writing their wishlist to Santa, have the kids include a “PS” which lets Santa know what they are grateful for this year.

Thanks for reading my post!

Learning is a lifelong process and we can learn from the teachings of others.

I would like to share a blog post written by Henrik Edberg from his Positivity Blog which discusses his interpretation of Gandhi’s teachings for changing the world. This entire article is written by Henrik Edberg and therefore in quotes. I am a firm believer of not “reinventing the wheel” and so here I share his wisdom:

Sharing is Caring…

“Gandhi’s Top 10 Fundamentals for Changing the World

by HENRIK EDBERG

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problem.”

“If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.”

Mahatma Gandhi needs no long introduction. Everyone knows about the man who lead the Indian people to independence from British rule in 1947.

So let’s just move on to some of my favourite tips from Mahatma Gandhi.

1. Change yourself.

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”

If you change yourself you will change your world. If you change how you think then you will change how you feel and what actions you take. And so the world around you will change. Not only because you are now viewing your environment through new lenses of thoughts and emotions but also because the change within can allow you to take action in ways you wouldn’t have – or maybe even have thought about – while stuck in your old thought patterns.

And the problem with changing your outer world without changing yourself is that you will still be you when you reach that change you have strived for. You will still have your flaws, anger, negativity, self-sabotaging tendencies etc. intact.

And so in this new situation you will still not find what you hoped for since your mind is still seeping with that negative stuff. And if you get more without having some insight into and distance from your ego it may grow more powerful. Since your ego loves to divide things, to find enemies and to create separation it may start to try to create even more problems and conflicts in your life and world.

2. You are in control.

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”

What you feel and how you react to something is always up to you. There may be a “normal” or a common way to react to different things. But that’s mostly just all it is.

You can choose your own thoughts, reactions and emotions to pretty much everything. You don’t have to freak out, overreact of even react in a negative way. Perhaps not every time or instantly. Sometimes a knee-jerk reaction just goes off. Or an old thought habit kicks in.

And as you realize that no-one outside of yourself can actually control how you feel you can start to incorporate this thinking into your daily life and develop it as a thought habit. A habit that you can grow stronger and stronger over time. Doing this makes life a whole lot easier and more pleasurable.

3. Forgive and let it go.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

“An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

Fighting evil with evil won’t help anyone. And as said in the previous tip, you always choose how to react to something. When you can incorporate such a thought habit more and more into your life then you can react in a way that is more useful to you and others.

You realize that forgiving and letting go of the past will do you and the people in your world a great service. And spending your time in some negative memory won’t help you after you have learned the lessons you can learn from that experience. You’ll probably just cause yourself more suffering and paralyze yourself from taking action in this present moment.

If you don’t forgive then you let the past and another person to control how you feel. By forgiving you release yourself from those bonds. And then you can focus totally on, for instance, the next point.

4. Without action you aren’t going anywhere.

“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”

Without taking action very little will be done. However, taking action can be hard and difficult. There can be much inner resistance.

And so you may resort to preaching, as Gandhi says. Or reading and studying endlessly. And feeling like you are moving forward. But getting little or no practical results in real life.

So, to really get where you want to go and to really understand yourself and your world you need to practice. Books can mostly just bring you knowledge. You have to take action and translate that knowledge into results and understanding.

You can check out a few effective tips to overcome this problem in How to Take More Action: 9 Powerful Tips. Or you can move on to the next point for more on the best tip for taking more action that I have found so far.

5. Take care of this moment.

“I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.”

The best way that I have found to overcome the inner resistance that often stops us from taking action is to stay in the present as much as possible and to be accepting.

Why? Well, when you are in the present moment you don’t worry about the next moment that you can’t control anyway. And the resistance to action that comes from you imagining negative future consequences – or reflecting on past failures – of your actions loses its power. And so it becomes easier to both take action and to keep your focus on this moment and perform better.

Have a look at 8 Ways to Return to the Present Moment for tips on how quickly step into the now. And remember that reconnecting with and staying in the now is a mental habit – a sort of muscle – that you grow. Over time it becomes more powerful and makes it easier to slip into the present moment.

6. Everyone is human.

“I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”

When you start to make myths out of people – even though they may have produced extraordinary results – you run the risk of becoming disconnected from them. You can start to feel like you could never achieve similar things that they did because they are so very different. So it’s important to keep in mind that everyone is just a human being no matter who they are.

And I think it’s important to remember that we are all human and prone to make mistakes. Holding people to unreasonable standards will only create more unnecessary conflicts in your world and negativity within you.

It’s also important to remember this to avoid falling into the pretty useless habit of beating yourself up over mistakes that you have made. And instead be able to see with clarity where you went wrong and what you can learn from your mistake. And then try again.

7. Persist.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Be persistent. In time the opposition around you will fade and fall away. And your inner resistance and self-sabotaging tendencies that want to hold you back and keep you like you have always been will grow weaker.

Find what you really like to do. Then you’ll find the inner motivation to keep going, going and going. You can also find a lot of useful tips on how keep your motivation up in How to Get Out of a Motivational Slump and 25 Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself.

One reason Gandhi was so successful with his method of non-violence was because he and his followers were so persistent. They just didn’t give up.

Success or victory will seldom come as quickly as you would have liked it to. I think one of the reasons people don’t get what they want is simply because they give up too soon. The time they think an achievement will require isn’t the same amount of time it usually takes to achieve that goal. This faulty belief partly comes from the world we live in. A world full of magic pill solutions where advertising continually promises us that we can lose a lot of weight or earn a ton of money in just 30 days. You can read more about this in One Big Mistake a Whole Lot of People Make.

Finally, one useful tip to keep your persistence going is to listen to Gandhi’s third quote in this article and keep a sense of humor. It can lighten things up at the toughest of times.

8. See the good in people and help them.

“I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won’t presume to probe into the faults of others.”

“Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men.”

“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”

There is pretty much always something good in people. And things that may not be so good. But you can choose what things to focus on. And if you want improvement then focusing on the good in people is a useful choice. It also makes life easier for you as your world and relationships become more pleasant and positive.

And when you see the good in people it becomes easier to motivate yourself to be of service to them. By being of service to other people, by giving them value you not only make their lives better. Over time you tend to get what you give. And the people you help may feel more inclined to help other people. And so you, together, create an upward spiral of positive change that grows and becomes stronger.

By strengthening your social skills you can become a more influential person and make this upward spiral even stronger. A few articles that may provide you with useful advice in that department are Do You Make These 10 Mistakes in a Conversation? and Dale Carnegie’s Top 10 Tips for Improving Your Social Skills. Or you can just move on to the next tip.

9. Be congruent, be authentic, be your true self.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”

I think that one of the best tips for improving your social skills is to behave in a congruent manner and communicate in an authentic way. People seem to really like authentic communication. And there is much inner enjoyment to be found when your thoughts, words and actions are aligned.You feel powerful and good about yourself.

When words and thoughts are aligned then that shows through in your communication. Because now you have your voice tonality and body language – some say they are over 90 percent of communication – in alignment with your words.

With these channels in alignment people tend to really listen to what you’re saying. You are communicating without incongruency, mixed messages or perhaps a sort of phoniness.

Also, if your actions aren’t in alignment with what you’re communicating then you start to hurt your own belief in what you can do. And other people’s belief in you too.

10. Continue to grow and evolve.

”Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.”

You can pretty much always improve your skills, habits or re-evaluate your evaluations. You can gain deeper understanding of yourself and the world.

Sure, you may look inconsistent or like you don’t know what you are doing from time to time. You may have trouble to act congruently or to communicate authentically. But if you don’t then you will, as Gandhi says, drive yourself into a false position. A place where you try to uphold or cling to your old views to appear consistent while you realise within that something is wrong. It’s not a fun place to be. To choose to grow and evolve is a happier and more useful path to take.”

If you like this article, you should follow Henrik’s Positivity Blog – www.positivityblog.com. I am following his blog now and enjoying his posts.

Happiness is to embrace and accept what you have in life.

Happiness

As I turn a year older and “wiser” this week, I am reflecting on the past year and the year to come. My one wish is to continue to be grateful, happy and satisfied every day (and let’s include healthy in there also – “Health is Wealth.”)

As some of you may know, my husband is originally from India. He is a calm and logical person and I always appreciate his insight/opinion when I am looking for answers or want to make a decision.

On my first trip to India, I asked him, “Why do so many of the people who live on the streets and have so little, still appear to be so happy?” He simply said, “They embrace and accept the life that has been given to them.” It is a very simple way to look at it, but true. I thought to myself…In the western world, people have so much more, but some people still cannot find happiness.

So how does one find happiness? Embrace and accept what you have in life.

I will elaborate with some examples:

Relationships: Wanting people or family members to act a certain way and hoping they will change, but if you accept and embrace who and what they are, you will be happy. I am not saying it is easy, but something one can strive toward.

Material Posessions : In my opinion, less is more. So often, however, we see many people racing to attain more and more “things” (fancy homes, clothes, cars, etc.), but they still don’t seem to be happy. Slow down, embrace and accept what you have.

As I turn a year older, I share this basic wisdom with you and my children that my husband shared with me. Embrace and accept what you have in life and you will be on the path to being grateful, happy and satisfied.

Teach your kids to do the “right thing”.

A Subway Photo

The following is a lesson worth sharing with your child at any age.  I have witnessed the picture in this post countless times before: woman close to the end of her pregnancy standing in the NYC subway and no one offering to stand up to give her a seat.

The woman standing next to me commented on the lack of common courtesy and as I looked over I saw the “sitting” people sleeping or looking through the pregnant woman as if she was invisible. When I got off the subway and many people got off, I saw the pregnant woman move over to a seat and shake her head in disappointment that no one offered her a seat.

Since my kids were not with me that day, I decided to try to take a picture of the situation. I wanted to take the opportunity to teach my kids to do the “right thing”. When I got home that evening, I explained to them what I had observed that day. I told them ” When someone is “older” (looks like a grandpa/grandma), pregnant (having a baby), disabled (i.e. – walking with a cane) and you are sitting on a bus or train, please get up to offer the person your seat.” They looked at me with a certain level of understanding, but asked me, “But what if I am tired?” It’s a valid question. When I was growing up, I was taught “young” people have strong and healthy legs/feet and you should always offer to get up for someone who is elderly or looks like they need to sit down. They may tell you it is ok and that they can stand and don’t need to sit down, but you should ask them anyway. I told them I know you might be tired, but it is the “right thing” to do. The other person will surely appreciate your kindness and thank you with a smile.