How to Make Passover Chocolate Toffee Matzah

Here is a great recipe for a delicious Matzoh dessert passed on to us by a dear friend. We swear, if you serve this dessert people will be asking you for the recipe for years to come -- it's delicious and super easy to make! Ingredients   4-6 Matzohs (salted) 1 Cup (2 sticks) salted butter 1 Cup firmly packed brown sugar 1 Cup (or a little more) chocolate chips (semi-sweet, milk chocolate, or white chocolate chips) Garnish (i.e. slivered almonds, walnut pieces, Heath bar pieces, Sprinkles, M&M’s, be creative!)   Directions Line the cookie sheet  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large (or two smaller) cookie sheet completely with foil. Cover the bottom of the sheet with baking parchment- on top of the foil. This is very important since the mixture becomes sticky during baking. Line the bottom of the cookie sheet evenly with the matzohs, cutting extra pieces, as required, to fit any spaces. Combine butter and brown sugar In a 3-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the butter and the brown sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil (about 2 to 4 minutes). Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and pour over the matzoh, covering completely. Bake! Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for 12 minutes, checking every few minutes to make sure the mixture is not burning (if it seems to be browning too quickly, remove the pan from the oven, lower the heat to 325 degrees, and replace the pan). Add chocolate chips and garnish Remove from the oven and sprinkle immediately with the chocolate chips. Let stand for 5 minutes, then spread the melted chocolate over the matzoh. Garnish while the chocolate is still melted. Place in freezer Place the baking sheet in freezer until set (about an hour). Remove, break into odd shapes and place into container. Store in the refrigerator.

Blue Cheese and Bacon Deviled Eggs

Easter is the season for chocolate, bunnies... and of course baskets and baskets of hardboiled eggs, just waiting to be eaten! So if you're tired of egg salad sandwiches, why not whip up a batch of these delicious blue cheese and bacon deviled eggs? Ingredients 6 large eggs hardboiled, and peeled 2 T crumbled blue cheese 1?4 cmayo 1?2 t Dijon mustard 1?8 t garlic powder 1?8 t pepper (can use white or black) 3 slices bacon, cooked until crisp Directions Halve eggs lengthwise. Remove yolks and mash with a fork. Add blue cheese, mayo, mustard, garlic powder and white pepper; stir to combine. Spoon back into egg whites; sprinkle with crumbled bacon.Enjoy!

Get A Holiday Workout With These Easter Egg Exercise Moves

Worried about what all that chocolate and candy the Easter bunny brings might do to your waistline?  Don't fret! You can stay healthy and happy through the holiday season with some fun and festive fitness ideas. Celsius fitness ambassador Angeles Burke shares three great ways to work out while you're hiding (and finding) Easter eggs: Workout #1: One Leg Egg Pick-up 4x10 repetitions per side Targets your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. This move also works on your core stability and balance. 1.       Begin with a few Easter eggs on the ground in front of you. 2.       Balance on your left leg while bending your right leg behind you. 3.       The goal is to hinge forward at the hip while keeping your back straight. 4.       Drop down, pick up one of the eggs and then stand up while still balancing on your left foot. 5.       Try to stay on one foot for all 10 repetitions. If needed, you can touch your foot down to the ground to balance yourself in between each repetition. Workout #2: Egg Torso Twists 4x20 repetitions per side Targets your core muscles including the rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and hip flexors. 1.       Start seated on the ground with your feet and glutes making contact with the floor. 2.       Place a pile of Easter eggs on your left side. 3.       Lean your upper body back while keeping your core engaged. 4.       Make sure your back is straight with your shoulders rolled back. 5.       Twist over to your left side, grab an egg, bring it across your body and place the egg on the ground on your right side. 6.       Repeat these movements until you have placed all the eggs on the opposite side. 7.       To make this move more challenging, lean even further back and pick your feet up off the floor to work on your stability and core strength. Your core should be shaking the whole time. Workout #3: Spring-Up Squats 4x20 repetitions Targets your calves, glutes, quads and hamstrings. 1.       Place a few eggs on the floor in front of you. 2.       Start with your feet in a wide stance and your toes slightly pointed out. 3.       Drop down and back into a squat keeping your knees open wide. 4.       Reach down and grab an egg in each hand while keeping your back straight and your shoulders rolled back. 5.       Come back up into the starting position and raise up on to the balls of your feet while bringing both hands up overhead. 6.       That completes one repetition. 7.       To make this move more challenging instead of doing a heel raise, you can make this move into plyometric/jump training by adding in a small jump at the top. 8.       Remember to still bring your hands up over head and then softly land back in the squat position. This will get your heart rate going for some extra cardio! Angeles Burke is an American Fitness and Aerobics A.F.A.A. certified group fitness instructor, national level bikini competitor training with train with IFBB Pro Shannon Dey’s Team Bombshell, member of the National Physique Committee and Celsius fitness ambassador with a master’s degree in communication studies.

Traditional Italian Ricotta Pie Recipe

Finally, the beautiful weather makes an appearance, the clocks are set ahead and the days are getting longer.Just one glimpse of the purple crocus peeking through the ground can set off an hour of conversation between us about what flowers we will be planting, what colors we should choose, and the yearly banter about who plants the parsley and who plants the basil. Heaven forbid if we both plant the parsley! Important Questions We finally get around to the most important question of the day, "Who's turn is it to have Easter this year?" Since we are all together on this lovely day, we make a pot of coffee and decide to sit around the table with the husbands, which is a mistake, and discuss these very important questions. 'What are we going to make? Who is going to make Nanas pies? and color the eggs? and fill the the plastic ones? Should we make lamb or ham or both? Should we grill it? Who is bringing who? girlfriends, boyfriends.......How many are we? Do we have enough chairs? Where are they?" We realize we should stop obsessing and just relax when our brother-in-law, Uncle Jimmy, gets up from the table shaking his head saying over and over, "my sister-in-laws are crazy, they are driving me nuts, what wrong with them????" The Decision We finally decide we will have grilled lamb and a ham, along with all the traditional sides that Mom and Nana always make. We will share the duties of making the Easter pies for dessert. Jackie will make the rice pie, Judy will make the wheat and Joy will make the show stopper, the Italian ricotta pie! Joy is the only one in the family who can make it just like Nana, (she is the only one who thinks this) using a special cookie crust for this pie and making little coiled shaped cookies with the left over dough. They are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside with a little hint of vanilla! Yum! Enjoy this 90 year old traditional Italian recipe, we know it will become a part of your Easter table too! Nana's Italian Ricotta Pie Ingredients Nana's cookie crust (recipe below) 1 1/2 pounds of ricotta cheese 1 tablespoon flour 1 teaspoon vanilla 4 eggs 1 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (decorating) Directions Preheat oven 350 degrees. Combine the ricotta and flour in a small bowl. In a medium size bowl beat the eggs well. Add the sugar and vanilla gradually and continue beating until smooth. Now add the ricotta mixture and beat will again. Pour into prepared pie crust. Sprinkle the 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon over the top of pie and swirl with a sharp knife to make a design. Bake for approximately 45 minutes. Enjoy! Nana's Cookie Crust Ingredients 1 stick butter, softened 1 cup sugar 3 eggs 2 tsp vanilla 1/4 cup milk 3 tsp. baking powder 4 cups flour Directions Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix baking powder and flour together and add to creamed mixture along with the milk. Mix and chill 1 hour. Cut in half or use as much as u need for the pie crust and save the rest for cookies. Rolling between 2 sheets of wax paper is neat and quick, no need to flour anything! Place in Nana's Cookie Crust. Enjoy!

Last Minute Easter Table Decorating Ideas

Cute bunnies, colorful eggs and delicious candy -those are just a few of our favorite things about Easter! With this joyful holiday just around the corner, we’ve come up with a few decorating tips to help moms transform an ordinary dining table into an Easter party masterpiece. 1. Sweet Table Settings Sweet treats are the way into anyone's heart. Surprise your guests by hiding Easter-themed chocolate at each place setting for a "dessert before dinner" delight. Snuggle chocolate bunnies into the table napkins to make them look like bunnies in the wild or use malted eggs in little baskets for a festive touch. 2. Fresh Flowers No table is complete without a beautiful centerpiece and in the spring, there is no better centerpiece than a beautiful arrangement of flowers. Fragrant floral decorations capture the spirit of the season and bring the holiday's pastel color palette to your table. Some of our favorite Easter flowers: Lilies, daffodils, tulips and daisies. 3. Eggs-cellent Easter Eggs Don't overlook the obvious - Easter eggs are a great way to add a fun and festive touch to a big family brunch or dinner. You can use the eggs your family has dyed or give hardboiled eggs a quick coat of spray paint for a more polished look (just don't eat them!). You can also try scattering eggs in baskets, bunches of green raffia or other natural-looking fibers for an eggs-cellent effect!4. Paper Bag BasketsTurn an old paper bag into a beautiful Easter basket with this great tutorial from The Elli Blog. It will look lovely filled with sweet treats or flowers.    

The Perfect Spring Break Craft Project To Do With Your Kids

Looking for a fun way to entertain your kids during those long summer days? We've got the perfect mother-daughter craft idea! These bracelets are absolutely adorable and so simple to make - all for less than $5!!! Here's what you need: 10 small hex nuts, available at any hardware store 1 slightly larger hex nut Old nail polish Leather or nylon cord (We used 1/8 in thick leather cording for Mom's bracelet, and 2 mm "sparkly silky" cord for the child's bracelet) Scissors Scotch tape   Directions Cut three lengths of cord, approximately 18 inches long for a child's bracelet or 21 inches long for an adult's bracelet. Then, using old nail polish, paint the smaller hex nuts some fun colors. Let dry completely.  (Moms can leave their hex nuts gold or silver for a more sophisticated look.) Tie a knot at the top, then thread the cords through the larger hex nut and tie a second knot about an inch from the top.  Tape the top of your cord to a table or flat surface and begin braiding. Braid about two inches down, then stop. Braid in your hex nuts, alternating sides, until you have five on each side. Finish braiding for another two inches and knot the end - but DON'T CUT OFF THE EXTRA LENGTH YET! Thread the extra length through the larger hex nut in the opposite direction, so the two ends will lie flat against the arm. Tip: you may need a toothpick to poke the cord through. Tie another knot about an inch from the end. Cut off the extra length and there you go! Mother/daughter best friend bracelets!  

How to Make Passover Chocolate Toffee Matzah

Here is a great recipe for a delicious Matzoh dessert passed on to us by a dear friend. We swear, if you serve this dessert people will be asking you for the recipe for years to come -- it's delicious and super easy to make! Ingredients   4-6 Matzohs (salted) 1 Cup (2 sticks) salted butter 1 Cup firmly packed brown sugar 1 Cup (or a little more) chocolate chips (semi-sweet, milk chocolate, or white chocolate chips) Garnish (i.e. slivered almonds, walnut pieces, Heath bar pieces, Sprinkles, M&M’s, be creative!)   Directions Line the cookie sheet  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large (or two smaller) cookie sheet completely with foil. Cover the bottom of the sheet with baking parchment- on top of the foil. This is very important since the mixture becomes sticky during baking. Line the bottom of the cookie sheet evenly with the matzohs, cutting extra pieces, as required, to fit any spaces. Combine butter and brown sugar In a 3-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the butter and the brown sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil (about 2 to 4 minutes). Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and pour over the matzoh, covering completely. Bake! Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for 12 minutes, checking every few minutes to make sure the mixture is not burning (if it seems to be browning too quickly, remove the pan from the oven, lower the heat to 325 degrees, and replace the pan). Add chocolate chips and garnish Remove from the oven and sprinkle immediately with the chocolate chips. Let stand for 5 minutes, then spread the melted chocolate over the matzoh. Garnish while the chocolate is still melted. Place in freezer Place the baking sheet in freezer until set (about an hour). Remove, break into odd shapes and place into container. Store in the refrigerator.

The Parenting Paradox

Motherhood is a comedy.  And the joke seems always on me.The latest episode featured the fourth grade end-of-year music performance. My youngest child is ten. This is her last year of lower school. She attends the school my two older children, my younger sister, and I, all attended. At times, it feels as though I’ve been imprisoned inside the same white brick building for the past forty years in an endless bad dream.  How many back to school nights am I expected to attend?  Do teacher conferences at this age really matter?  Exactly how many perfectly-brown-edged chocolate chip cookies must I bake in my role as a good mother?  Can’t we just fastforward through the slow parts of this movie? So when other parents, also facing “goodbye” to lower school, mentioned how teary they were going to be, I laughed sardonically.  Not me!  I couldn’t wait for the last day, the final music performance.  I’d be cheering. You know where this is going. I, however, was clueless. The morning I walked confidently into the music assembly, I involuntarily recalled my favorite motherhood quote by Dorothy Evslin, which I read years before when my children were still wearing footed pajamas: “It will be gone before you know it. The fingerprints on the wall appear higher and higher. Then suddenly they disappear.” I saw my blonde daughter in her pink dress in the back row. My eyes watered, my heart swelled, and there was nothing I could do.  I felt like I’d been driving a race car quite skillfully towards the waving red finish line flag, when suddenly, involuntarily, an unseen hand slammed the clutch into reverse. How is it fair that in the space of two seconds, I went from wishing away this tedious phase of childhood, to romanticizing it and wanting, quite desperately, to press the rewind button?  How did I travel from glee to tears as I walked through the doorway of that music room? Parenthood can be downright cruel.  You spend what feels like a lifetime cursing those grimy fingerprints on your beautiful pale yellow walls, the dirty diapers, the wet towels on the bathroom floors, the ketchup stains on your favorite jeans.  The days and nights ruined by vomit and urine-soaked crib sheets, and then by failed tests, mean girl battles and blown curfews. Then, wrong footed, you want it all back. Once it’s almost over. In the darkened auditorium, the children sang from the Wizard of Oz (cue sweet little high-pitched preteen voices warbling, “I could wile away the hours, Conferrin' with the flowers, Consultin' with the rain”). I started to daydream of my oldest child, the high school sophomore.  He will be driving a car soon.  Heading off to college in three years.  Away from me forever! And my 13-year-old daughter, the diva.  I hadn’t seen her in two days. She prefers to spend her nights elsewhere.  The moms at her friends’ houses are nicer, she says. Maybe I’ve lost her already! Motherhood is endless. Motherhood is almost over! Motherhood is a comedy.  Motherhood is a tragedy!  Parenthood is a paradox, making us laugh and cry in a sequence too fast for the average human constitution to absorb. How could any parenting book possibly capture all this? Parenthood stinks and it soars, nearly at the same time, ruining us and saving us simultaneously, and we are forever changed.

New Tra-Dish: Deep Dish Taco Pizza

The following post is sponsored by Ragú®Put a fun new spin on a classic recipe and make a New Tra-Dish! This one comes from Betsy over at The Dallas Socials, who put a twist on Ragú's Upside-Down Deep Dish Pizza.The result: a super easy dinner recipe that's perfect for busy weeknights! Check out her post below:Tonight, just like every night in my house, started off with a conversation between my fiance and I debating what should be eaten for dinner.“What should I make for dinner?”“I don’t know.”“How about taco pizza?”“Ew, that sounds gross. I don’t want that.”“Okay, well that’s what I’m having. You can eat it or get something else.”We usually always come to agree on what to eat but tonight, he really didn't want Taco Pizza. He thought it sounded gross, he didn't want ground beef on his pizza, blah blah blah blah. I've actually never made taco pizza before but I saw this Upside-Down Deep Dish Pizza and it inspired me. I like to put a Mexican twist on everything and since I knew I already loved Taco Pizza, I thought I would make it a Deep Dish Taco Pizza.First thing I did was preheat my oven to 400 degrees. While my oven was preheating, I browned my ground beef and added Ragú® Old World Style® Traditional Sauce. (Fun Fact: Did you know each jar is made with 11 juicy tomatoes making it its richest, thickest recipe?)Next, I took a can of refrigerated pizza dough and cut it in half to make two squares. The dough needed to be pre-baked so I put both halves over their own pie pan and baked at 400 degrees for 5 minutes.Once the dough was done, I took it out of the oven and filled it with Ragú and meat mixture. Don’t use all of the mixture, leave about 1/4 cup to use for the top of your pizza.Then I topped it with cheese. I only used about a half of a cup of Mexican and mozzarella cheese. You can use more depending on your taste.Then I took the other pizza dough that I pre-baked and put it on top of the other dough so that I’m covering all of meat and spaghetti sauce mixture. I pinched the sides of the dough all the way around the dish to make sure it was sealed with the other dough.I know, I know. It doesn't look that pretty.  I then put the whole dish back into the over for another 7 minutes. (Your time may differ depending on your oven and which pizza dough you bought.)Once the dough is completed cooking, I took it out of the over and covered it with the remaining spaghetti sauce and meat mixture to give it a base. You can see from looking directly down, it looks just like a pizza.After adding the sauce, I sprinkled on chopped iceberg lettuce, chopped tomatoes, jalapenos and avocados.It turned out absolutely delicious! Maybe the best part about it was when I went back in the kitchen to put my plate up, I noticed that my fiance had a serving or two of the pizza even though he said he didn't want any. So that means that he didn't only try it, but he liked it and came back for more!Let me know how you like the recipe and if you would make any changes!Want more easy recipes that your family will love? Check out Ragú on Facebook for tons of New Tra-Dish ideas! Plus, enter The Ragú Better & Better Sweepstakes for the chance to win a trip to Italy and other amazing prizes - 11 weeks, 11 juicy prizes for the 11 tomatoes in each jar of Ragú® Old World Style® Traditional Sauce!

7 Mistakes Parents Make When Kids Wet The Bed

If you’re one of the millions of parents with a bedwetting child, you know….You know how awful it makes you feel when you see your child frustrated at another middle-of-the-night accident. You know how ashamed they are when younger siblings make jokes about still wearing diapers. You know how terrible they feel when they have to turn down another sleepover invitation because they are worried their friend will find out.What you might NOT know is that much of the seemingly helpful advice you’re hearing could make the situation even worse.  Here are the top 7 mistakes parents make when dealing with a child who wets their bed:1. Come on, let’s go to the bathroomBy far the most common mistake is waking your child in the middle of the night to take them to the bathroom. By waking up your child, the responsibility for staying dry is transferred from the child to the parents. There is no learning process, and children become accustomed to emptying their bladder during sleep. It is important for the child to take responsibility for staying dry and be the one to wake up by themselves.2. Don’t drink so muchFluid restriction before sleep time will only accustom the bladder to function at night with a small amount of liquid. The child needs to condition their body to wake up even for a small amount of fluid, so limiting their drinking will only make them go to sleep thirsty. 3. It’s your fault, you clean it up. Many parents have good intentions, but they make the mistake of punishing or embarrassing a child thinking that it will lead to modified behavior. Parents need to know that the primary sufferer is the child, not the parent who is inconvenienced by having to change sheets and deal with extra loads of laundry. It is an unconscious activity and is not done on purpose. When a parent shows disappointment or punishes the child, it only aggravates the problem and makes the child feel even more distressed about the situation. 4. It’s a problem that I have to deal with, not you. Instead of helping the child to cope with the problem, the parents wrap him or her with layers of protection. They feel guilty that their child is suffering from bedwetting and they don't allow him to deal with the problem. The parents take responsibility, sometimes they deny the problem’s existence, or they are scared of offending their child. Often times, this is the case when a child is born with or has suffered from a medical condition or was conceived after years of fertility treatments and the parent feels the need to safe guard the child from any additional discomfort. Overprotection is not a solution because it is important that the child take responsibility for his actions and his own body. 5. Don’t worry, you’ll grow out of it. Some parents completely ignore the problem’s existence hoping it will just go away.  Many pediatricians tell the parents to just wait it out because there is nothing to do about it. (I completely disagree with this argument.) The problem with this technique is that they are ignoring the amount of distress or embarrassment this puts on the child. This could lead to extra months or even years of fear of having a slumber party with friends or not being able to go to sleep-away camp because they don’t want anyone to know they wet the bed.  The child needs his parents' support and understanding. When the parents ignore the problem, the child feels that he has no one to rely on. 6. Your little brother doesn’t wet the bed, why do you? Sometimes, a younger sibling is already dry. Obviously an older child suffering from bedwetting feels embarrassed, jealous and even shameful about the situation. Don’t compare siblings. The parents assume that if the 5 years old younger brother has already outgrown bedwetting, it means that the 8 years old sibling is wetting the bed on purpose. The older child is accused of being lazy or apathetic. This attitude adds a great deal of pressure and will aggravate the problem. 7. I can’t bear changing the sheets every night. Just use a pull-up.  It is perfectly alright when pull-ups are being used by 4-5 year olds who haven’t been completely trained at night, but when they are being used nightly by older children, it is a big mistake. It suppresses any motivation to become dry; the message delivered by the parents is that they anticipate that the child will wet the bed and they do not expect him to get over the problem. It’s a band aid, instead of a solution. Instead of coping with bedwetting they perpetuate it. There is no learning process.  The older a child gets, the less they want to feel like a ‘baby’ who needs to wear a diaper and can lead to low self-esteem and emotional problems. 

6 Kid-Friendly Ways To Decorate Easter Eggs Without Dye

So you’ve boiled the eggs - now what? Before you go out and buy that cheap egg dying kit from the nearest grocery story, take a look at some of these tips to make egg decorating even more fun with your kids. Add a little twist to this Easter ritual with some of the following ideas we’ve collected from other creative minds. Get those artistic juices flowing! 1. Egg AnimalsMake your boring egg into a cute critter by using materials like felt, construction paper, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes to create bunnies, chicks, and other springtime characters. 2. Glitter Add a little sparkle to your egg dying process. Mix together white glue and water and dip your eggs into the mixture before rolling them in glitter. Or, opt for a more simple technique with glitter pens.  3. Washable MarkerThis option may be better for little ones that may get too messy with dye. You can give them full control to decorate the eggs how they like without staining their hands.4. StickersHere’s another mess-free option that can be used with younger kids. Buy a bunch of fun Easter-themed or springtime stickers and let them go nuts!5. Oil and Food Coloring Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to the vinegar and food coloring mix and dip your eggs in multiple colors for a cool marble tie-dye effect!  6. Ribbons, Gems, and Lace Use whatever tactile materials you have around your house to add a fun 3-D touch to your eggs.

Step-Family Stress

No matter how long you’ve been a step-parent or have been a part of your stepchild’s life, there will inevitably be times when you you are reminded that you are not a biological parent. And even though there was probably a legitimate and logical reason that this little reminder came up, it can hurt nonetheless.Since I've been part of my husband’s son "D’s" life for more than two and a half years now, I have a been a constant authority and parental figure in his life. Even though I love spending time with him and taking care of him and I see him as my son, it doesn’t mean I have the same rights that a biological parent does - especially in the big life moments. There are many times when I get frustrated because I’m not included in big decisions like what school he will attend or being there for doctor’s appointments. Sometimes I'm able to realize the absurdity of my feelings, but other times I just feel left out of things that are important to D’s overall well being. So how do I stay sane when my emotions begin to overpower my logical side? Here are my tips: 1. Never let your feelings impact how you treat your step-child. Children, no matter their age, should be protected from those types of feelings. There is never a need for them to know there is tension between parents or feel that the tension is transferring to the relationship they have with a step-parent.  2. Share how you feel with your spouse. Your spouse may not be aware how you feel and may either be able to help change the situation or at least be more cognizant of your feelings going forward. Your spouse should be a sounding board and should want to make you comfortable in your situation. 3. Reflect on yourself.  Be introspective and determine if your feelings have anything to do with your own insecurities or self-consciousness. Sometimes we project our feelings onto a situation and have to take a step back to realize if the feelings are legitimate or based on other reasons. 4. Focus only on those things you can control and let the rest go. Like everything in life, we can only control so much, the rest is out of our hands and no amount of stress or complaining is going to make it change. 5. Stop thinking that you’re not a part of the family. When big decisions are made without your input, it can make you feel like you’re not a critical part of the family structure - like you don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. But you’re just as important part of the family as anyone else. Just remember that this family unit is bigger than you, your husband and your step-child. And it’s not about you, but the best interests of the child. Do you have any coping mechanisms that help you get through those times you feel frustrated or stressed?

We've Been Having The Same Fight For 20 Years

My husband and I have been together since 1993.  If you’re not so good at math, that’s coming up on 20 years.  Or, to put it another way, it’s officially half of my life. We met in college, and he was supposed to be a senior year fling, nothing serious, just a little fun before I moved away, went to law school and started my life for real. Sometimes, I think it’s pretty amazing that we’re still together, given the lack of serious thought I put into dating him.  I mean, if I had met him when were older and had to consider whether he was marriage material or not on the first date, I probably would have passed based on his musical preferences alone.  But here we are, amazingly, still in love.  A lot has changed in twenty years.  We have kids, a dog, a mortgage.  When we met, I was burning to become a lawyer, and he was obsessed with producing movies.  We both ended up on completely different paths.  Along the way, our dreams have changed, our taste has changed, the kinds of vacations we like have changed.  But one thing has remained a constant, always.  One thing has never wavered: We still fight about exactly the same thing.  It seems to me that most couples have one thing they fight about over and over again, like a recurring dream.  No matter how many times you argue about it, no matter how sick you may be of having the same argument, no matter how many times you swear that you will try harder, that you will not fight about this anymore, no matter what, the fight always finds a way to suck you in, and you find yourself yelling the same words you've yelled a thousand times before, like you’re stuck in an angry version of Groundhog Day.  Our fight is about the tone of voice I use when I am frustrated, or annoyed.  For example, DH will ask me a question, which I will then answer, pleasantly.  A minute later, DH will ask the same question.  I will usually answer pleasantly again, unless I am getting my period.  The third time he asks, PMS or not, I am usually annoyed that he has not listened to me the first two times, so I might, perhaps, have a slight edge to my tone when I ask why he didn’t listen to me the first two times.  At which point he will, predictably, say, "that doesn’t mean you have to yell at me."  And I will say, "that wasn’t yelling.  I didn’t even raise my voice."  And he will say, "it is yelling, and it’s unacceptable."  And I will say, "no, it’s not yelling.  It’s being human and humans have feelings and one of those feelings is annoyance when they’re not being listened to, so I was just expressing my feeling of annoyance."  And he will say, "oh, so I annoy you?"  And I will say, "yes, you do when you don’t listen to me."  And he will say, "I don’t care if I annoy you, it’s unacceptable for you to yell at me."  And I will then yell, "this is so f-ing stupid, why can’t you just let things roll of your back?  Why can’t you just let me have my two seconds of annoyance and let it go?  Why does it have to be a fight every time?"  And he will say, "you just yelled at me again."  And I will yell, "yes!  Yes, I did!  Because now I’m angry, and when people are angry they yell!"  I swear, if the whole thing wasn’t so annoying it would make an amazing comedy routine.  Most of my friends have a similar kind of fight that they constantly engage in with their husbands.  It’s a different subject matter for them, yes, but the frequency and the I-have-had-this-fight-so-many-times-I-could-do-it-in-my-sleep quality is the same.  It’s not serious enough to be divorce-inducing, and it’s not angry enough to be makeup-sex inducing.  It’s just run of the mill, low-level marriage kind of stuff, like putting his dirty dishes in the dishwasher because he always leaves them in the sink.  I have learned in therapy how to avoid engaging in this fight, but yet, I still engage it every time.  Honestly, if we were to ever stop having this fight, I think I’d be afraid; afraid that we’d be leaving time and space open for other, scarier kinds of fights that we wouldn’t recover from quite so quickly.  At this point, even though I know our fight isn’t good for us, there’s almost something comforting about it, like mac and cheese.  After all, I have been doing it for half of my life.

Get A Holiday Workout With These Easter Egg Exercise Moves

Worried about what all that chocolate and candy the Easter bunny brings might do to your waistline?  Don't fret! You can stay healthy and happy through the holiday season with some fun and festive fitness ideas. Celsius fitness ambassador Angeles Burke shares three great ways to work out while you're hiding (and finding) Easter eggs: Workout #1: One Leg Egg Pick-up 4x10 repetitions per side Targets your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. This move also works on your core stability and balance. 1.       Begin with a few Easter eggs on the ground in front of you. 2.       Balance on your left leg while bending your right leg behind you. 3.       The goal is to hinge forward at the hip while keeping your back straight. 4.       Drop down, pick up one of the eggs and then stand up while still balancing on your left foot. 5.       Try to stay on one foot for all 10 repetitions. If needed, you can touch your foot down to the ground to balance yourself in between each repetition. Workout #2: Egg Torso Twists 4x20 repetitions per side Targets your core muscles including the rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and hip flexors. 1.       Start seated on the ground with your feet and glutes making contact with the floor. 2.       Place a pile of Easter eggs on your left side. 3.       Lean your upper body back while keeping your core engaged. 4.       Make sure your back is straight with your shoulders rolled back. 5.       Twist over to your left side, grab an egg, bring it across your body and place the egg on the ground on your right side. 6.       Repeat these movements until you have placed all the eggs on the opposite side. 7.       To make this move more challenging, lean even further back and pick your feet up off the floor to work on your stability and core strength. Your core should be shaking the whole time. Workout #3: Spring-Up Squats 4x20 repetitions Targets your calves, glutes, quads and hamstrings. 1.       Place a few eggs on the floor in front of you. 2.       Start with your feet in a wide stance and your toes slightly pointed out. 3.       Drop down and back into a squat keeping your knees open wide. 4.       Reach down and grab an egg in each hand while keeping your back straight and your shoulders rolled back. 5.       Come back up into the starting position and raise up on to the balls of your feet while bringing both hands up overhead. 6.       That completes one repetition. 7.       To make this move more challenging instead of doing a heel raise, you can make this move into plyometric/jump training by adding in a small jump at the top. 8.       Remember to still bring your hands up over head and then softly land back in the squat position. This will get your heart rate going for some extra cardio! Angeles Burke is an American Fitness and Aerobics A.F.A.A. certified group fitness instructor, national level bikini competitor training with train with IFBB Pro Shannon Dey’s Team Bombshell, member of the National Physique Committee and Celsius fitness ambassador with a master’s degree in communication studies.

Brooke Burke: The Mind Is Like A Parachute

Do you ever wonder if our children are really listening, and if the lessons we try to instill in them are actually sinking in? Do our words make an impression? This week my daughter surprised me, touched me and made me look closely at my own behavior. After a massive fight with her sister and some major disappointment in her consequences (I took their phones away for one month!) she came to me with a 1,430 word letter.  Yes, that’s three typed pages that she spit out in less than 30 minutes.  Oh how I wish she would apply that same conviction to her schoolwork!Amazing what a kid can do when they are driven by passion.  The letter began with some words of wisdom that I shared with her many years ago.  I never knew she was listening…"Dear Mommy," she wrote, "The mind is like parachute, it works much better when it is open, so please read this with an open mind and open heart…"I won’t share the details of the letter but what was so meaningful was learning that she took my words to heart and later used them to reach out to me.  I wonder how it really works - will the lessons that my grandmother taught my mother, that she then taught me and I passed on to my own children, continue to be an ethical value system that we share in our family?  How much of what we share with our children every day do they really take in?I was so impressed with my daughter’s ability to express her feelings and do so in a constructive way to help me understand why she does what she does. I realized how much she is growing up and I am so happy that she is able to communicate with enough confidence to be vulnerable with me. We sat together on my closet floor and I listened quietly and attentively as she read her letter to me.  It  was a bit of a role reversal, almost as if she was teaching me some things - really, she was teaching me about herself.  Midway though her letter, I had already changed my point of view and she helped me realize what I might do differently in the future to help both of my daughters through their too-often conflicts.  She shared what she could do differently too, what she could do to get along better with her sibling and also what she hoped for in return. Our discussion segued into a family meeting, and she said something to me, which was NOT a manipulation to get her phone back.  Honestly.  She said, “No matter what you take away from us, it won’t change the way we feel or what we do.  In fact, we will probably just act better to get back whatever you take away.  What we really need to do is try to figure out why we're doing what we do and how we can feel differently about each other.  Then every day we should try to work a little at making our relationship better."What a concept!  I could have paid my therapist $200 for that 12-year-old lesson ;)I’m not embarrassed to say that I gave both of my girls' phones back by night's end.  SUCKER! Truthfully, I agreed with her point and desperately needed to find more effective way to stop the sibling war.What I asked them to do was be accountable for their own behavior and take a look inside to see what’s triggering it.  I asked them to try to work every day to be kinder and closer.  I asked that they be open to forgiving and changing.It was a powerful evening and one I will remember.  I've always said that my children educate me every day but the lessons my 12-year-old taught me that night were ones she had once learned from me.I do not believe that parenting is ever perfect.  I often ask my kids to change and I am equally open to finding better ways to problem solve.Corky Ballas once told his son Mark, “The mind is like a parachute, it works much better when it is open.”Mark shared his dad’s words of wisdom with me and I shared them over the years with my own kids.  Last night, my daughter reminded me of that very important lesson.              

When Sports Parents Go Too Far...

It has finally come to this: a parent has sued a sports coach for not playing his child more frequently.Perhaps this will go down in American parenting history as definitive proof that we have all totally lost our minds.I am surprised this didn’t happen earlier, actually.  And that the lawsuit originated in Texas, not New York City, where parents pay professionals to coach their children for kindergarten interviews, or my hometown of Washington, DC, a town with 100,000 lawyers.  DC came close to being first in ridiculous parenting lawsuits: a few years ago a pre-school parent threatened to sue another family when a three-year-old classmate cut her friend’s hair without permission.  The school director talked the parent down like a hostage negotiator.Here are the facts and main characters, as reported in People Magazine and various sports blogs.Dallas, Texas.  Billy Munck, high school junior.  His father, William Munck, lawyer. Father sued son’s lacrosse coach, Kevin Barnicle, and the Dallas Lacrosse Academy, for playing Billy in only nine games in 2010 during his junior year of high school.Coach Kevin also allegedly threatened Billy with a severe penalty (“Billy Munck will never play varsity lacrosse”) if Billy didn’t enroll in the coach’s summer camp.  Lawyer-dad utilized the anti-racketeering RICO act, better known as the province of drug dealers and Mafia hit men, as the statute to take down Coach Kevin.Because a coach who doesn't give your son enough minutes is kinda the same as shooting someone execution style and sinking him with cement shoes, right?Well sure, says dad.  He filed a 39-page federal racketeering lawsuit late last month cataloging the events described above."Those who do not acquiesce to the RICO defendant’s threats and demands suffer," the lawsuit states. "Billy Munck was one of the victims of this criminal enterprise, as were many others."Now, high school sports are a big deal, especially in Texas. Lacrosse is a particularly elite, potentially lucrative sport. For lots of kids and their parents, sports long ago ceased to be about teamwork, exercise, and fun. Lacrosse players are frequently recruited starting in or before ninth grade, with many high school students receiving college commitments by their sophomore or junior years. Unlike peewee soccer, you can value, in financial terms, the exposure high school coaches provide players. A free ride to top Division I lacrosse schools like Duke, North Carolina or Notre Dame can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition, room and board.  And few players get recruited if a coach won’t let them play in front of scouts.Like lacrosse, parenting is serious business. And maybe, just maybe, the coach was indeed out to get Billy, since we’ve all seen coaches who take their sports just as seriously as we take parenting; a coach has plenty of power, and power can corrupt.This doesn’t mean I side with William Munck. What he did was crazy, frivolous and laughable.  But like a lot of embarrassing parenting decisions, this probably started in a good place.  The man wants the best for his son. How different is this from the dad I know who contacted college coaches via email, pretending to be his kid?  Or the mom who helped her daughter write her college essay?  Or the nanny instructed to spend an hour each day holding up flash cards to a one year old?The question is not why William Munck sued his son’s coach, but what do other parents, schools, sports academies and courts do about parents who cross the line between wanting what’s best for their kids, and taking illegal or unethical actions to achieve it?I imagine that soon enough, more parents will follow Munck’s lead and sue more coaches, teachers, and administrators.  Do we punish these parents? Shun them? Ostracize them?  File counter lawsuits to stop them?Stick our heads in the sand, cross our fingers, and focus on raising our own kids right?The lasting lesson here is that William Munck’s actions did not help his son. Billy Munck, who graduated in 2012, played one season of lacrosse for Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, a Division III, far below top 20 lacrosse school. He is not currently on the team.

How To Teach Your Children Good Financial Sense

“Teaching kids sound financial habits at an early age gives all kids the opportunity to be successful when they are an adult.” – Warren Buffett April is Financial Literacy Month.  It’s also tax month and money is on the mind for most of us, for better or worse.  Whether how to spend it or how to save it, money is in all of our lives, a connective tissue that directly affects our quality of life.  I have a friend who recently lost a large sum of money.  He lamented, “Why didn’t someone teach me when I was young how to handle money?”  It got me thinking how important it is to teach our children good money habits early.  It’s closely tied to building habits of responsibility, which are directly related to success in life.  Financial literacy is a skill that also ties in nicely as our children learn numbers, counting and math.  As with all learning, we grow as go.  Build financial literacy into your child’s future by beginning with a few simple steps.1. Family chores are a good place to start.   Neale Godfrey, chairman of Children’s Financial Network, Inc, recommends starting your kids as early as 3 with two types of household responsibilities: Good Citizen of the Household chores: They don't get paid, but learn the valuable lesson that contributing to community well-being is the right thing to do.Work-For-Pay chores: The Work-For-Pay (allowance) teaches them how to earn and budget their money.  These are real-world life skills that will carry them into a successful adulthood, where knowing the value of their own worth and what to expect from others are keys to a brighter financial future.  When I was growing up, my weekly allowance was tied to completion of my weekly chores.  The understanding that good effort and keeping your word are rewarded goes a long way toward becoming a responsible adult.  For more on why responsibility matters, see my blog on the Marshallow Test.2. Be a good role model.  “Two things define you. Your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything.”  I came from a family of modest means.  The standard joke my parents used to say was, “Here’s a quarter.  Go get yourself something special.”  Fact was, my siblings and I often found special things that didn’t cost much but we enjoyed to the hilt.  Life is more about attitude than money.  Living within our means meant enjoying simple things, while dreaming big enough to know that within each of us, we had the ability to live the lives we desired.  Money is a tool, not a limitation.  Dream big, work hard, play hard.  And educate yourself about financial management.  It is a learned skill.  If you feel at a loss when it comes to money (as many of us do), consider working with a financial planner.  Confidence has so much to do with success.3. Talk about money with your children.  It’s strange, but we are often squeamish about money, whether saving it or discussing it.  But in reality, it’s just a matter of knowing how to handle it.  Encourage hands-on skills when it comes to saving.  Here is great site for parents: http://moneyscholar.org/cart/index.php?main_page=page&id=8&chapter=0. It offers a piggy bank for kids that has four chambers: saving, giving, spending and investing.   Another valuable resource is Warren Buffet’s Secret Millionaire’s Club, a tool for teaching kids about money and investing.  Here’s to your family’s financial health!  Ciao, Princess Ivana  

Easter Table Decorating Ideas

Cute bunnies, colorful eggs and delicious candy -those are just a few of our favorite things about Easter! With this joyful holiday just around the corner, we’ve come up with a few decorating tips to help moms transform an ordinary dining table into an Easter party masterpiece. 1. Sweet Table Settings Sweet treats are the way into anyone's heart. Surprise your guests by hiding Easter-themed chocolate at each place setting for a "dessert before dinner" delight. Snuggle chocolate bunnies into the table napkins to make them look like bunnies in the wild or use malted eggs in little baskets for a festive touch. 2. Fresh Flowers No table is complete without a beautiful centerpiece and in the spring, there is no better centerpiece than a beautiful arrangement of flowers. Fragrant floral decorations capture the spirit of the season and bring the holiday's pastel color palette to your table. Some of our favorite Easter flowers: Lilies, daffodils, tulips and daisies. 3. Eggs-cellent Easter Eggs Don't overlook the obvious - Easter eggs are a great way to add a fun and festive touch to a big family brunch or dinner. You can use the eggs your family has dyed or give hardboiled eggs a quick coat of spray paint for a more polished look (just don't eat them!). You can also try scattering eggs in baskets, bunches of green raffia or other natural-looking fibers for an eggs-cellent effect! 

Hot Hair Trend: Messy Braids

Messy braids are the latest and hottest hair accessory - from Fishtail Braids to Side Braids to Classic Braids, you can’t go wrong! It's a great way to style your hair that looks casual and chic at the same time. Pro tip - use a salt beach spray for better handling while braiding. And of course, don't be afraid to experiment! Here are a few of our favorites styles: Loose Side Braid Gather a small portion of your hair and weave it into a loose braid, finishing down the side of one shoulder. Rough up the hair a bit before braiding to make it look tousled. Scrunch up and tease the rest of your hair so that it flows about your head in a tousled, wild manner. Then give a spritz of finishing spray to set the style. Fish-Tail Braid The fish-tail braid got its name because it looks like the tail of a fish. While the fish-tail is casual enough for every day, it does take a little longer to do than a regular braid, so you may want to save it for a night out or another special occasion. You make a fish-tail by dividing your hair into two equal sections. You then move small portions from the outside of each section into the inside of the other section until you reach the end of your hair. Watch a video tutorial here. Half-Up Braid For this braid, gather the sides and top of hair and hold loosely at the back center of head. Braid 4 or 5 times. Then, turn braid under to one side and criss cross pin with bobby pins until secure. Finish with a shine spray or oil on the ends.  (Brooke Burke on the set of Dancing with the Stars) What's your favorite braid style?

Are We Teaching Our Daughters To Settle For Good "Mom Jobs?"

My daughter informed me the other day that she wants to be an interior designer when she grows up.  This was news to me, because up until now she’s always wanted to be a singer, and possibly an actress or a fashion designer, but that last one is just because she likes to watch Project Runway.  At first I wasn’t sure where interior designer came from, but then I realized that we’ve been redecorating our den for the last few months, and I think she’s really enjoyed helping me pick out fabrics and rugs and furniture.  (Also, I recently videotaped her singing Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain,” and when she watched it back I think she was a little disheartened.  "I’m so much better in my head," she said, after she saw it. "I stink in real life." Which, to be fair, isn’t true.  She does have a very pretty voice, but I think she realized for the first time that she may not be a shoo-in to win The X Factor when she turns twelve in two years). Anyway, what was interesting about the fact that she wants to be an interior designer is not that she wants to be an interior designer.  What was interesting was her explanation that being an interior designer a) allows you to “actually make a living,” as opposed to being an always-struggling-to-make-it singer or dancer or actress, and b) (and here’s where it gets really interesting), it’s a good job for a mom because you “don’t have to, like, have a boss and stuff and you can do it when you want to.”  Okay, now, when I was nine, I don’t recall thinking about what would be a good job for a mom. In fact, I wasn’t thinking about what would be a good job for a mom when I was twenty-five.  Actually, now that I think about it, it didn’t even occur to me that being a mom might interfere with my job until I actually was a mom.  And then I was like, crap, how come nobody told me that it might not be so easy to work fifty hours a week and take business trips and have a newborn at home? So on the one hand, I guess I’m kind of happy that my daughter is already being realistic about the types of careers that allow for flexibility, and that she’s already thinking about her priorities in life.  I suppose she’s heard me say enough times that writing is a really great gig for a mom because it allows me to set my own hours and be home for my kids after school, and I suppose the lessons of my life story - high-powered lawyer turned middle-powered college counselor turned low-powered novelist - must have sunk in to her little brain enough for her to understand that actually, no, you can’t have it all, or at least, not all at the same time.  But on the other hand, I feel a little sad about the idea that she might already be settling for less than she’s capable of - at nine - all in the name of having a good mom gig.  I mean, how does that bode for the next generation of women?  Is it possible that the lesson of our generation is that being a high-level executive or a partner in a big law firm or the chief medical resident at a hospital just isn’t worth it?  Are we teaching our daughters that the real goal for a career is finding something to do that allows us to work from home, so that we can be there to drive carpool in the morning and help with homework after school? I wouldn’t wish on my daughter a career that forces her to choose between her work and her family.  But at the same time, I don’t want that choice to be taken away from her, either.  I know lots of mothers who have big, important, time-consuming jobs, who are also happy and fulfilled and are able to find a balance and make it work.  I can’t imagine if someone had told me not to bother to become a lawyer, because in the end, it would be too much for me to also be a mom.  It was true, of course, but I’m still not sorry that I went to law school and became a lawyer.  I know what I’m able to achieve, and what I chose to do with those achievements were up to me.  Maybe, at the end of the day, it’s better that nobody told me how hard it would be.  Because I would have hated it if I’d never even tried.

Coachella Mom Syndrome: Signs and Symptoms

Has your best friend at mommy group been more interested in listening to her iPod than stories about your child’s sleeping habits? Is she unusually sullen about this weekend’s plans? Developed a sudden penchant for cut off demin shorts paired with ankle booties? If so, then she may be exhibiting signs of Coachella Mom Syndrome.  Don’t worry; with time she will make a full recovery! I was infected 10 years ago and have since returned to normalcy (whatever that may be). For those of you unfamiliar with the outbreak, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival is held in Palm Springs, California in early April. Musicians, tastemakers and fans from across the world gather on large polo fields to watch hundreds of acts perform. But once the festivities end, Coachella Moms will need your support! The following can help identify and help: 1. Refusal to remove wristband. These plastic wristbands were her tickets for the weekend festivities. They might be general admission, VIP or All- Access. The longer she is seen wearing the wrist pile the longer the signs and symptoms will prevail. Urge her to remove them ASAP!  Suggest she wear a set of nice silver or gold bangles instead. 2. Unusual tan. Despite cold temperatures during the first weekend - be sure that she still soaked up any and all available sun. During both weekends, the Coachella Mom was at the pool before and after sets. Whatever you do, don’t remark when you notice the tan has faded! 3. Altered fashion sense. Is she wearing a floppy hat? Has she started sporting braids or floral garlands? In addition to her favorite denim shorts, a maxi dress may be suddenly incorporated into her wardrobe. Does her style suddenly remind you of a modern day Stevie Nicks? These symptoms will naturally subside by the end of summer. 4. New faith. Watching Tupac come back to life on stage may have significantly changed or altered her spiritual sense. The dead will rise! Any talk of resurrection can be explained by her encounter with the ghostly hologram. 5. Updated Playlist. To the dismay of her youngest children, her Radio Disney preset will be replaced by a new playlist including: Arcade Fire, Grouplove, Cage the Elephant and Surfer Blood. Her daughter’s plea for One Direction will be ignored. Be patient. It may be best for everyone involved.  You can offer condolences to a Coachella Mom. She is grieving. Her days in the sun, so to speak, have ended. In time her symptoms will fade. If her gloomy demeanor continues, remind her that there is always next year, and dates for the 2014 festival will be announced soon! 

How To Teach Your Children Good Financial Sense

“Teaching kids sound financial habits at an early age gives all kids the opportunity to be successful when they are an adult.” – Warren Buffett April is Financial Literacy Month.  It’s also tax month and money is on the mind for most of us, for better or worse.  Whether how to spend it or how to save it, money is in all of our lives, a connective tissue that directly affects our quality of life.  I have a friend who recently lost a large sum of money.  He lamented, “Why didn’t someone teach me when I was young how to handle money?”  It got me thinking how important it is to teach our children good money habits early.  It’s closely tied to building habits of responsibility, which are directly related to success in life.  Financial literacy is a skill that also ties in nicely as our children learn numbers, counting and math.  As with all learning, we grow as go.  Build financial literacy into your child’s future by beginning with a few simple steps.1. Family chores are a good place to start.   Neale Godfrey, chairman of Children’s Financial Network, Inc, recommends starting your kids as early as 3 with two types of household responsibilities: Good Citizen of the Household chores: They don't get paid, but learn the valuable lesson that contributing to community well-being is the right thing to do.Work-For-Pay chores: The Work-For-Pay (allowance) teaches them how to earn and budget their money.  These are real-world life skills that will carry them into a successful adulthood, where knowing the value of their own worth and what to expect from others are keys to a brighter financial future.  When I was growing up, my weekly allowance was tied to completion of my weekly chores.  The understanding that good effort and keeping your word are rewarded goes a long way toward becoming a responsible adult.  For more on why responsibility matters, see my blog on the Marshallow Test.2. Be a good role model.  “Two things define you. Your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything.”  I came from a family of modest means.  The standard joke my parents used to say was, “Here’s a quarter.  Go get yourself something special.”  Fact was, my siblings and I often found special things that didn’t cost much but we enjoyed to the hilt.  Life is more about attitude than money.  Living within our means meant enjoying simple things, while dreaming big enough to know that within each of us, we had the ability to live the lives we desired.  Money is a tool, not a limitation.  Dream big, work hard, play hard.  And educate yourself about financial management.  It is a learned skill.  If you feel at a loss when it comes to money (as many of us do), consider working with a financial planner.  Confidence has so much to do with success.3. Talk about money with your children.  It’s strange, but we are often squeamish about money, whether saving it or discussing it.  But in reality, it’s just a matter of knowing how to handle it.  Encourage hands-on skills when it comes to saving.  Here is great site for parents: http://moneyscholar.org/cart/index.php?main_page=page&id=8&chapter=0. It offers a piggy bank for kids that has four chambers: saving, giving, spending and investing.   Another valuable resource is Warren Buffet’s Secret Millionaire’s Club, a tool for teaching kids about money and investing.  Here’s to your family’s financial health!  Ciao, Princess Ivana  

5 Clever Easter Egg Hunt Twists That Your Kids Will Love!

The Easter egg hunt is a classic tradition but there's nothing wrong with switching it up once in awhile!  So why not give your family's egg hunt a clever new twist this year?  Here's a few of our favorite fun ideas: Easter Coupon Egg Hunt Instead of hiding jellybeans in the egg, try creating homemade coupons and stuffing it with those instead. The personalized coupons might be for a little extra TV time, an extra bedtime story, or a treat. It's a great alternative to sugary candies! Math Egg Hunt Who says that you can't mix education and fun? Put numbers on all the different eggs and after the kids are done collecting as many as they can find, have them add up all the numbers. The kid with the highest total will be rewarded a special treat! Winning Number Egg Hunt Using both plastic and real colored eggs, you're bound to have a ball with this one! Put different numbers on a select few real colored eggs. Put small prizes in the plastic eggs such as candy, small toys, stickers, coupons, etc. For the kids who find the real eggs, have the number on them correspond with a numbered prize. Some prize ideas include books, stuffed animals, Easter baskets, etc. Reverse Egg Hunt Parents should be able to have some fun, too! Let the kids hide a few eggs around the house and have the parents scour for them. The kid whose egg is found last will win a prize for having the best hiding spot! Flashlight Egg Hunt As teenagers grow older, it will be harder to amuse them with easy hiding spots and classic egg hunts. Try doing it at night time. Paint the eggs with glow in the dark paint, or just give them a flashlight. It's an easy twist that completely changes the game! Who doesn't love a little night adventure?

I'm Not Afraid To Admit I Failed At Marriage

It’s Friday night, my kids are with their dad and I am home sitting at the computer watching the latest episode of “Sylvester the Talking Kitty Cat” and really missing my kids. How is that possible, right?! It’s not that I don’t absolutely love my kids and miss them when they’re gone, it’s just that it’s Friday night and I have a relatively new boyfriend and well, you know…The truth is, my kids have been with their dad for about two weeks and I have stayed out late, drank too much wine, seen a movie or two, had lunch and brunch and coffee and everything in between, and now I am ready to go back to what I love most: being a mom.I've gone through phases with this whole co-parenting thing, from crying my eyes out as they drove away to barely being able to contain my excitement as I packed their suitcases.This is normal I’m told, although I still seem to have moments where I feel guilty. Guilty, mostly because I don’t think swapping kids from one house to another should be normal.  And tonight as I sit here and wonder about tomorrow’s transition, worrying about what kind of mood they’ll be in, will they be mad at me, will they want to run back to their dad and never see me again, will they like their dad’s pancakes better than mine, every ounce of doubt and guilt I can muster will pass through my head.I have planned their homecoming, gathered their friends and am doing everything I can to show them they are loved and all is good and make their transition as easy as possible for them, and I worry if they’ll know that. Will it be enough for them to know how much I love them?In addition to my phases about whether to party or not upon their departure, I have also worked through some of the phases around guilt, of which in divorce there seems to be a lot of. And all of this is normal.It is perfectly normal to feel a sense of failure around your divorce and your kids. I know I said the F word, but it’s probably what some of you are feeling, especially if this is a new thing and even sometimes if it isn’t. And it feels better just to admit it, to say it, say it loud and say it proud, own it, because until you do you won’t actually be able to move past that feeling, at least in my opinion.Failure, the F word, has quite a stigma. People recoil in fear at the first utterance of the word as if it’s contagious.  Say it: “Failure.” Even when people start running and screaming and trampling over each other, say it louder: “I failed.” I failed at marriage, I married the wrong guy, I suck at choosing men (ok, maybe that’s over the top, but it’s how I felt for sure).  And I’ll bet you are frothing at the mouth right now wanting to shake me and say something sympathetic and wise like, “It wasn't a failure, don’t be so hard on yourself, be more forgiving and accepting of yourself.” To those kind words, I say this: it was a failure, and guess what, I am totally cool with admitting that. Because when I was able to admit that I failed at marriage, I could also finally see that I wasn't a failure as a mother.  And that was huge.I could finally see that my stint as a wife had nothing to do with my lifelong commitment to being a mother. For sure having one house, two parents is, I’m told, optimum, but when is life optimum? Optimum is a relative term. I do not have to be married to be a good mother, I do not have to be married to love my children with every ounce of my being, I do not have to be married to create a home and life in which my children feel loved and cared for, all of that and more I could do very well on my own and I do. I know I do the moment my kids jump out of the car and yell, “MOM MOM MOM” and run and hug me, I know that I do when they call me from their dad’s just to say “I love you” and I especially know it when I make pancakes and they tell me their dad makes them better (they are right, he does), and they tell me it’s ok…I can make muffins like nobody’s business.So as I sit here tonight hanging out with doubt and guilt, I feel a sense of normalcy. I know it’s ok to have these feelings, I know I don’t have to feed them or offer them drinks, that if they really want to watch cat videos with me they are welcome to do so. Allowing myself to feel the way I feel has offered me a new freedom, to honestly and openly face them, to find the truth in them and the lies in them as well. We can be so hard on ourselves and I have found that speaking my fears, acknowledging my true feelings, helps to send them away empty handed. Because the moment my kids come home and we laugh and we fight over who get’s to be what character in Skylanders, our house will be filled with love, not because of what I do, but because it’s what’s in my heart and they’ll know it and I’ll know it, and doubt and guilt won’t be hanging out anymore. 

Easter Table Decorating Ideas

Cute bunnies, colorful eggs and delicious candy -those are just a few of our favorite things about Easter! With this joyful holiday just around the corner, we’ve come up with a few decorating tips to help moms transform an ordinary dining table into an Easter party masterpiece. 1. Sweet Table Settings Sweet treats are the way into anyone's heart. Surprise your guests by hiding Easter-themed chocolate at each place setting for a "dessert before dinner" delight. Snuggle chocolate bunnies into the table napkins to make them look like bunnies in the wild or use malted eggs in little baskets for a festive touch. 2. Fresh Flowers No table is complete without a beautiful centerpiece and in the spring, there is no better centerpiece than a beautiful arrangement of flowers. Fragrant floral decorations capture the spirit of the season and bring the holiday's pastel color palette to your table. Some of our favorite Easter flowers: Lilies, daffodils, tulips and daisies. 3. Eggs-cellent Easter Eggs Don't overlook the obvious - Easter eggs are a great way to add a fun and festive touch to a big family brunch or dinner. You can use the eggs your family has dyed or give hardboiled eggs a quick coat of spray paint for a more polished look (just don't eat them!). You can also try scattering eggs in baskets, bunches of green raffia or other natural-looking fibers for an eggs-cellent effect!