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Busy Moms Look Good

20 Apr

Be Prepared for Anything

17 Apr

Materials for April 16-20: Car Organization

14 Apr

Does your car feel like this?

Do you want it to feel like this?

Get it organized this week with us. Here are the materials you’ll need this week.


  • Empty bathroom or kitchen wipes container
  • Several plastic grocery sacks


  • Plastic pencil box
  • Small jewelry bags
  • Small stapler/staples
  • Pen and mechanical pencil
  • Paper clips
  • Blank note cards
  • A few stamps
  • Scotch tape
  • Small scissors


(Select age appropriate toys for your kids)

  • Hanging travel cosmetic bag
  • Small toys
  • Crayons
  • Plastic travel soap box
  • Small puzzle
  • Playing cards
  • Small note pad
  • Stickers
  • Small simple games
  • Colored ball point pens or pencils


  • Large garbage bag
  • Rain poncho
  • Small umbrella
  • Jumper cables
  • Snack foods
  • Bottles of water


  • Travel-size deodorant
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Lipstick and or lip balm
  • Travel band aids
  • Travel
  • Small cosmetic bag
  • Travel-size headache medicine

Are You Missing Someone?

10 Nov

How do you answer this question?

Who are you?

Was mom, wife, employee, laundress, maid, doctor, or master planner one of the first things that came to mind? What would you have said to this question before you had children? It’s time to find out who you’ve become.

My first answers would be mom and wife. I am proud to be mom and proud of the job that I have done raising my kids. I am also proud to be a wife and partner in my marriage. But for a while there, I, like most moms, forgot that there is more to me and didn’t take the time to explore and grow the things I delight in. Getting started only seems more difficult than it really is.

  • Start by eating and sleeping well. The laundry can wait.
  • Take a walk or exercise once a day.
  • Find time to relax. You can start with small amounts of time or hire a baby sitter. The dishes can wait.
  • Accept compliments. Just say thank you instead of putting down or minimizing what you do well.
  • Take a class that interests you. Check your library, recreation center or junior college for classes. Your spouse can get the kids to bed.
  • Get a little job that interests you, even if it only covers the babysitter costs. Adult interaction is good for moms.

Finding who you’ve become doesn’t happen over night and it isn’t easy. Ask a friend to help you along your journey and support you in your new discovery. Define yourself.

Recommended Reading:

What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self by Ellyn Spragins

Who’s Really Driving Your Train?

9 Nov

Have you ever been railroaded? You know, pushed into doing something that you really don’t want to do or agreeing on something you really haven’t had time to think about. It happens to everyone, but how you put an end to it depends upon you.

During a very busy stage of my life I saw a quote that said, “If you want something done, ask a busy person” and at the time I thought, “How true.” I had three kids, volunteered at multiple places in the community, at church and my kids’ schools. It made me feel needed and important and I said, “Yes” to everyone who needed a helping hand.

But, at some point, I began to take a look at what I was being asked to do and how it affected my life. Friends were asking me to pick up the pieces of their projects when they dropped the ball, I’d jump into something with little notice because my friend needed help, I’d volunteer to work for an event that turned out to be completely different than what was presented to me. I did them all because I didn’t want to let my friends down and it’s important to me to finish what I started.

Fortunately, this time of reflection opened my eyes to see that I was being railroaded by people who really weren’t my friends. They knew if they presented something in a certain way or in a time of desperation, that I would agree to help them no matter how busy I was.

After learning this big life lesson, I’ve learned to not get railroaded any more. Now, when people ask for my time, I’m happy to help if…

  1. It doesn’t interfere with my family
  2. I have time to think it over
  3. I respect the person who is asking
  4. It’s a project I believe in
More importantly, I’ve become proactive about how I give my time. I’ve learned to ask people how I can help before they ask me, take on only what I can manage, and say, “No” when it’s not a fit for me. I’m still as busy as ever, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming any more and I have plenty of time for my family.
If you’re not driving your train right now, it’s time to find out who is and make sure that you aren’t getting railroaded.

What Shape is Your Circle of Friends?

2 Nov

Some women have a circle of friends that they’ve known forever, but my circle looks more like a dot-to-dot with lines zigzagging across the page, reflecting the stages of my life.

I have always found it difficult to have a large circle of friends like I see portrayed in movies. You know the ones, the groups of five or six women who sit around, drinking wine, talking about everything, knowing each other for years. Now that I’m older, and a bit wiser, I know why that’s never worked for me; I’m a mom, I move a lot, my life is constantly evolving and I have a variety of interests. It is because of these things that I am grateful for my not so circular circle of friends.

Friendships come in all different shapes, sizes, interests and ages. Some women that I am honored enough to have as friends are 10-30 years older than I am. They are wise and caring and have helped me develop into a strong mother as they encourage me with every new stage of child rearing and they continually strengthen me as a woman. Other friends are mothers with children of all different ages. We support each other with words of encouragement and celebrate milestones no matter how big or small. I have work friends with whom I discuss new business plans over endless cups of coffee. And there are women who have entirely different philosophies about life that I enjoy as friends because there is so much to learn from conversation and friendly debates. I even have friends who are men. They are terrific advisors and excellent in providing a different perspective to my life.

But not all friendships are perfect. Some friendships that seem so strong wither and fade away leaving us with broken hearts but fond memories. Other friendships can be incredibly toxic and are best removed from our life. But, even these friendships can make you strong.

My mother-in-law always says, “If you have one friend from every stage of your life, you’ve had a good life.” So, the next time you feel that your circle of friends is more like a dot-to-dot, remember that each of the friendships that criss-crossed the chapters of your life, have made you the woman and mother you are today.

A Real Mom’s Journey

19 Oct

I am so honored to have my friend, Nola Agha, as our guest blogger today.  Last year, she was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer. She had just moved across the country, had two small children, had just started a new job, and her husband had started a new job when she was diagnosed.

Until Nola was diagnosed, I had never had anyone close to me go through cancer and was completely unaware of how debilitating the treatments are and how important it is to be surrounded with people who can help and support you and your family for even the smallest of tasks. I learned so much about courage and strength through Nola’s posts that she shared with her friends.

I know her story will enlighten you and encourage you to reach out to someone in need.

As a mom, I spend a lot of time (well, most of my time) making breakfast, making lunch, driving to school, doing art, playing games, making dinner, doing baths, reading books, washing clothes, sewing Halloween costumes, and the list goes on and on.  All moms and dads know what kind of energy is needed to make it through a day.

So imagine my shock and surprise last November when a sore breast, then mammogram, then biopsy resulted in a Stage III breast cancer diagnosis.  I spent the first few weeks in shock, horror, and sadness trying to wrap my head around what the future meant: will I die? will I live? will my children have a mother? will my husband be a single father? how do we plan for the future? how do I get better? Once the shock passed I mentally grounded myself in a positive attitude.  I was going to do everything possible to live and I was not going to die.  That was my stance and I never wavered from it.

While the diagnosis was a shock, the treatment can best be described as a marathon.  Weeks and weeks of physically and mentally debilitating treatments left me unable to care for myself or my children.  At one point I was taking 33 different medicines.  And since they left me mentally fuzzy, weak, and mostly incoherent, it took a very well-organized spreadsheet to help my caregivers figure out when I needed to take which medicines.

Although I struggled daily with the physical pain of treatment I also struggled daily with the guilt of a mother.  I couldn’t stand up long enough to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Dinner was out of the question.  Bone pain made it impossible to get down on the floor to play with trains or dolls.  My children, now so accustomed to hearing me say I wasn’t feeling good enough to play, asked me questions like, “Mommy, will you ever be able to play again?”  It broke my heart. My daughter, just 2, didn’t know her ABC’s, couldn’t count to 10, and every day my guilt grew as I realized she was being short-changed in her mental development.

While doctors can now do amazing things to save a person’s life, there is little they can do to help with the daily reality of life with kids.  Some days I would see 2 or 3 different doctors.  None allowed children into their offices (due to the needles, chemicals, and other nastiness) never mind the fact that I needed assistance to get myself to the car, someone to drive me, and there was no way I could have gotten two kids dressed and buckled up.  So every day I had to figure out who was taking care of the kids, who could help, and how to use my waning energy to explain my absence to two crying and sad little kids.  My heart broke every day.

Any debilitating disease challenges you mentally, physically, and emotionally.  While we often focus on someone’s physical status, it’s easy to forget the challenges they face in the rest of their life.  If you know a parent with cancer, or any other major illness, perhaps this gives you a better understanding of what they might be going through and ways that you can help.

Life turned upside down and I endured every possible form of suffering in treating this awful disease.  But ten months later, I am officially cancer-free.  To celebrate my return to health I signed up for a fundraising hike to the top of a local mountain.  In preparation for it, I looked back and tried to quantify all that I had been through.  Here is my list:

1 breast removed (so far)

1 time I fainted

2 times I almost fainted

2 days spent in the hospital post-surgery

3 surgeons – breast, plastic, and ob-gyn

4 cycles of dose dense adrimycin-cytoxan

5 visits to the physical therapist (so far)

5 months of chemo

7 hours spent in surgery

7 positive lymph nodes

8 different creams I tried to heal the radiation burn

9 scars (so far)

12 cycles of taxol

13 visits to the lymphedema specialist

19 lymph nodes removed

27 pills I take daily (26 are vitamins and supplements)

27 visits to radiation

36 visits to the acupuncturist (so far)

63 sticks with a needle (so far)

90 minutes each day I spend taking my homeopathic anti-cancer remedy

127 hospital gowns (so far)

165 people who follow my cancer-update blog

$661,531.06 Cost of my treatment to date

Being alive, having the support of hundreds of friends and family across the globe, and being able to shout my thanksgiving from a mountain top…priceless

If You Need Permission, Here It Is

5 Oct

Moms work 24/7 for the whole family and rarely take time for themselves because they feel guilty. It’s time to stop feeling the guilt and do something for yourself.

Today is Do Something Nice Day so why not get a sitter and try out one of these ideas to refresh your spirit. Because everyone knows, “If Mom’s not happy, no one’s happy.”

  • Meet a friend for lunch or coffee.
  • Lose yourself in the bookstore.
  • Try out a new exercise class.
  • See a movie.
  • Take a bath.
  • Go for a drive.
  • Take a stroll in a garden, nursery, greenhouse or other beautiful place.
  • Get a manicure, pedicure, massage or facial.
P.S. If you need permission to take some time for yourself, I’m giving it to you.

Mommy Guilt

31 Aug

We’re happy to have guest blogger Shelley Hailler, working mom and author of the new children’s book, Where Does Mommy Go?

I’ve been coming across a great deal of stories, blogs, and blog posts about something called mommy guilt. For those of you not familiar with the term, it refers to the emotional repercussions that come about after any instance in which a woman feels that she has fallen short, under-delivered, or outright failed in her attempts to be a good mom.

Of course I can relate. Who can’t? Show me a mom and I’ll show you someone who can think of a dozen experiences wherein she disappointed her children and herself.

My personal best “Worst Mommy Moment”? Easy. That would be the pre-kindergarten Christmas Pageant, December, 2000. All of the children were assigned costume-requiring parts in what promised to be a spectacular musical revue. My little angel was cast as a sheep, along with two of her friends.

Now, it is important to note that, at the time, I was not only a working mom. I was a newly divorced, struggling-to-make-it, single working mom. The only thing that I ran shorter on than money was time. So it logically follows that I opted to make a costume for my daughter, and that I waited until the night before the event to construct it.

In a rare moment of semi-organized planning ahead, I did purchase materials for the costume about five days in advance. They were:
– one size four sweatshirt, black
– one size four pair of leggings, black
– one bottle of silver glitter glue
– one bottle of Elmer’s School Glue
– four bags of cotton balls

I intended to sew the cotton balls on with a needle and thread that I had at home. Alas, at eleven-thirty on the night before the pageant it became apparent that there would not be sufficient time to sew all those cotton balls. Thank goodness I had purchased the glue.

I spent the next two hours gluing cotton balls to the black sweatshirt and, at about two a.m., sank (exhausted) into bed.

When I awoke the next morning I was chagrined that some of the cotton balls actually fell off when I lifted the sweatshirt from the kitchen table. But that was ok. I had the glitter glue.

I proceeded to fill the holes with clever swirls of glitter glue.  Fast-forward to the big event. My dad had offered to take my daughter to school at the appointed time and get her all costumed up, as I was unable to leave work early enough to get her there. (My parents have always been such great helps to me. Thanks Mom and Dad.)

When I showed up, the kids had already taken the “stage” in the gym. As I headed for the bleachers my path was suddenly blocked by (have you guessed?) Dad. He placed both hands on my shoulders and stood directly in front of me, effectively obstructing my view of the kids.

“I want you to know that it’s fine,” He said. Confused, I peered around him, searching for the sheep.

And there they were. Two white fluffy sheep-children in amazing rented costumes, and a third, in a shabby black sweatsuit with three determined cotton balls clinging in random places. All three sheep were singing their hearts out.

But one little sheep had mange. And it was my fault. My eyes filled with tears for us both.

That night I was very low. Talk about mommy guilt. I was so ashamed.

Now, when I look back through the more objective lens of time passed, I realize that there was nothing of which to be ashamed. I did the best I could with what I had. And that’s really all we parents can expect from ourselves.

It was years before I told anyone that story, and I cried again in the telling. But I can laugh about it now, and so can my daughter, who remembers the program and that we all came to see her, but honestly doesn’t remember the terrible costume. And therein lies the biggest lesson of all.

Shelley Hallier is a Kansas City-area marketing executive who left a successful 12-year stint in the corporate realm in favor of independent consulting, after giving birth to twins in 2008. She recently released her first children’s book, “Where Does Mommy Go?” directed at busy moms and their little ones. With darling illustrations and a sweet message, the book addresses the mystery of the working mommy from the child’s perspective. It is available in hardcover at or

Slooow Down!

27 Apr

I love to read; especially books that give me something to think about or apply to my life. The book on my nightstand is The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg. Although the title is enticing and I’m reading it for my small group at church, I was very skeptical of how I would be able to learn anything new since my life is going along pretty well right now. Boy was I wrong!

Having three children who are busy with school and extracurricular activities, a husband who commutes to work two hours a day, working full time, laundry, meals, house cleaning…I feel like I’m always in a hurry, desperately wanting to slow down but not always knowing how. So I watch my neighbor and try to learn something new from her as she engages with her children, husband and life in general.

Although my neighbor’s children are preschoolers, her style of parenting reflects the importance of enjoying daily life with her family and not over extending herself or her children. Her children play independently, are well behaved and loving to each other. She also spends time going places and doing things with her children in addition to spending time with her friends and husband independent of her children. Even though I am a far more seasoned mom than she is, I still want to emulate her style of parenting.

I have spent time decluttering my house, cutting back on activities for myself and my family, simplifying the things in my life. Still, I feel hurried and desperately wanted to be like my neighbor. Then I read Chapter 5 in my book and it all became clear.

John Ortberg describes how hurried people get behind a car at a stoplight based on which one they think will pull away fastest. Sound familiar? It did to me! Ortberg also goes on to say that hurrying will not buy more time. Have you ever been in a hurry to get out the door and inevitably your coffee spills, your keys drop, papers tumble all over your car, your kids are crying and your late anyway because you’ve had to clean up along the way? It sounds just how I was living. So, I decided to try one of the slow down techniques from the book. I drove in the slow lane and didn’t pass anyone the entire way to my destination! Do you know how hard that is? But, I arrived at my destination earlier than I thought, and I was much more calm when I arrived.

The next night, at dinner, I instituted the rule that everyone must chew their bites 15 times before they swallowed, another suggestion from the book. Our dinner lasted longer, we had a great conversation and we didn’t have to remind our kids to use their manners which is always a battle at the dinner table.

And so it went, trying something new each day that would slow me down for a good reason. What I’ve discovered is that my voice is softer, my conversations with my family are more valuable and I feel more peaceful. I’m starting to understand how my neighbor makes it all work and, this all came about because I started driving in the slow lane! Give it a try and see if you can start slowing down your life.

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