Sunday, February 18, 2007

Patient Parent Top Picks

Each month, my blog will post some interesting resources that I've discovered in the area of patient parenting, inspiration, and personal success. Here are my recommendations for February:

Brain, Child Magazine
This magazine is full of new research and ideas on promoting your child's physical and intellectual development. Mothers debate current events as they apply to their own experiences and submit their favorite songs with new lyrics. It's fun and insightful. You can get four issues for $19.95 by going to or calling (888) 304-6667.

"This Year, I Will..."
A book about breaking habits and keeping resolutions. M.J. Ryan, author of "The Power of Patience" and "The Happiness Makeover" offers a book with stories and wisdom on creating new positive habits and moving toward a more fulfilling and healthy life. I found some great "instant gratification" ideas in this book without a lot of reading. I learned that I am doing some good things already, like creating focus by naming the year. See page 73. I also have to recommend "This Year I Will..." because one of my stories is in it. Check out my "Old Yeller" story on page 58. You can find out if you're really ready to make a change by taking M.J. Ryan's quiz at
Need a break? Let the kids go nuts with sticker books. This site is the best for birthday gift ideas or to give your children something to look forward to in the mail. For only $10 you can join a Preschooler sticker of the month club and get monthly mailings of hundreds of stickers with familiar characters, birthday stickers and holiday stickers. It's really fun to see what will show up next. They also have sticker packs for teachers, just girls, just boys, teens and scrapbooking. The customer service is really great, too. Just go to and check it out.

If you have other parenting resources to share, post a comment or email me at

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

A Test of Patience

On Tuesday this week I experienced one of the ultimate tests of patience...getting stuck in traffic. But this wasn't any normal traffic jam. This traffic was the result of billowy clouds of snow that whipped up like smoke to blind drivers, and sheets of packed snow that reduced speeds to 2 miles per hour.

Between 6:30 a.m. and 8:15 a.m., I had managed to drive only about 45 miles. By the time I considered turning around, traffic was backed up both ways. I kept thinking to myself that traffic would open up. I wondered if I could have taken a better route. I realized that I would soon need to pee.

We hear a lot these days about road rage. In fact, a driver in the Twin Cities recently shot a man in another vehicle after both drivers had careened through traffic, angry about who knows what, trying to drive each other off the road. At a mall a couple of weeks ago, I witnessed a more typical example of road rage when my husband was trying to turn into the parking lot and another driver raced up to the intersection and cut past him from the opposite corner, shouting and gesturing at us as he drove by. I waved and smiled. My husband gunned the engine as though to rear-end him.


So there I was, stuck in traffic yesterday and thinking that this was an ultimate test of patience. What could I do? I couldn't blink myself out of there. But I did have a choice. I could fume and worry about the precious daylight I was burning. I could beat myself up for ever leaving the house. I could direct my anger at the giant truck that was blocking my view.

I would have made one or all of these choices in the past. In the short run, it would have helped me vent frustration and take back some sense of control. But in the long run?

In the long run I would have finally arrived at work angry and exhausted from all that negative energy. I would have difficulty focusing and getting down to work. I would affect the people around me with my no-good very bad mood.

This last piece is something that road ragers fail to recognize in their quest to get even or save face or show how tough and important they are. Everything they do affects other people. Did these drivers realize that other people were on the road that day? Did they think that their reckless behavior could have killed an innocent person? And where did the anger leave them? Hospitalized. On the run from police.

When we dehumanize others, we justify violence and lose a piece of our souls. Instead of viewing the cars on the road as barriers to our self-important egos, we need to remember that there are people in there just trying to live their lives, to earn a living, to arrive safely to people they care about. They are just like us.

Sitting in my car yesterday, I thought of those people around me. We were all stuck. We all had somewhere to go. Turning up the talk radio, I continued to shuffle along, enjoying the break in the action and feeling grateful that my car was reliable and warm.

In the long run? I made the best of a crummy situation. I wrote a blog about it that may help others be more patient.

Blessings to your next journey and test of patience.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Love Thy Self

I used to wake up most mornings and drag myself out of bed grudgingly. It was too early. My husband kept me awake with his snoring. I had too much work and too little time to sleep.

These were my excuses. The sad fact was that I was depressed and didn't know it.

Depression can take many forms. It can make you feel like crawling back into bed and never coming out. It can make you angry at the slightest inconvenience or noise. It can feel like PMS.

Various statistics report that anywhere from 17 million to 30 million people are diagnosed with depression each year. Most point to drug therapy as the answer, but as my angry liver post explained it can also be caused by your diet.

You can read over that post to see what I mean. But since I've been feeling better, mornings aren't so horrible anymore. In fact, I have some tips for you on starting the day off right.

•Smile at Yourself. Give yourself a big toothy smile in the mirror, first thing each morning. Even if you don't feel like it, your brain doesn't know it. You can fool yourself into feeling better.

•Bless Yourself. Instead of letting that lame old tape run through your head of all your flaws and should do's, fight back with a compliment or a blessing. Tell yourself that you have beautiful skin if you frequently search for blemishes. Stretch your hands high over your head and bring them down into a prayer stance. Bow your head and wish yourself well. During a recent outing with my family, I saw a man who had suffered burns on his face and I thought, "Skin is remarkable. I have beautiful skin."

•Get Up Earlier Than the Children. It's so nice to have a few moments to yourself in the quiet before the bustle begins. When it's warm, I like to go out on my deck and get a breath of fresh air. I also like to tiptoe into my children's bedrooms and watch them sleeping. In the winter, a hot bath also feels really good. In order to get up early, I challenge all parents to get to bed by 9 p.m. at least one night a week. This is a reasonable goal.

•Make Your Bed. There is nothing better than seeing a tidy room when you've had a chaotic day. Your bedroom can be one room that feels tranquil and orderly. Try to keep the clothes picked up and your bed in order so it's easy to crawl back in at night.

•Speak Softly. Nobody likes a rude awakening in the morning. Rudeness like flipping on the lights and yelling sets up the potential for your children to dish the same behavior back at you. Instead, sit on the edge of the bed, pat your children gently on the back and wake them up with a cheerful voice. They might not get up right away, but gentle persistence pays off even if you have to sit them up or start singing the "Good Morning" song from "Singin' in the Rain."

Being annoying is far better than being a bully. And being silly is a good start to the day.