Project You Magazine ~ Holi-Daze Issue
This magazine is about YOU and the joys and challenges you face while also being nurse, confidante, chauffeur, teacher, and mentor to your kids. The bottom line: You’re still “you” with hopes, dreams, and passions. We know that because we’re right there beside you.
project you Pursue your passion one dream at a time. A Role Mommnye Magazi 10 0 holiday 2 Why I Donâ€™t Send Holiday Cards Missing Mom at the Holidays Chatting with Sharon Osbourne About Motherhood, Fame, and Marriage LUSTing With Cat Greenleaf Where you wonâ€™t find Santa: The South Pole Diapers in your pocket? Try Diaper Buds! 15% off for Project You readers. Use coupon code “bud15” at checkout. sophistikate DESIGN For all of your design needs, including: • Web Design • Ad Design • Business Cards • Special Event Invitations • Birthday Party Invitations Mention this ad and receive 15% off! To view items from my portfolio, please visit www.KatieSchlientz.com Katie@KatieSchlientz.com 6 33 Table of Contents Features: Every Issue: 4 Editor’s Letter Happy Holi-Daze! 5 Between Us Chatting with Sharon Osbourne, making your holidays greener, dealing with holiday mishaps (like that zit you get right before a party) and other fun stuff. 11 Charge It! Five Zings for you plus best gifts for your teens 14 Me Time Gifts to Give Yourself— Not all gifts are things you buy. 15 Kid-spirational A Day at the Fair. Kids say the darndest things. When you listen, you can learn a lot. 17 22 Dinner Mom Comfort food in the form of one-pot wonders. 24 Your Career Crafting the Perfect Resume. 26 Your Home Thinking of getting a pet this holiday season? Read this. 30 Mommy Blogs A Q&A with Mommy Niri. 32 Your Finances Giving on a Budget. 46 Cheers! Wines for the Top Ten (tough-to-buy) People on Your List. 17 The Holiday Spirit Poinsettia Cocktails Anyone? 20 Traveling the Friendly Skies…. Going to Grandma’s isn’t as easy as it used to be. Some tips to help get you there. 27 Start LUST-ing NBC personality Cat Greenleaf talks about her new mission. 28 Hello Apple…. A recap of top Celebrity Baby Names. 33 Why I Don’t Send Holiday Cards The Tidings of Joy Stop Here. 35 The South Pole Pole dancing is the new suburban rage. 40 S ticking To Your Weight Resolutions the WII-way Move over Jane Fonda! Wii Mommies founder Julie Maloney shows you how you can keep those pounds off, without ever leaving your house. 43 Memories of Holidays Past When mom or dad (or both) are missing at the head of the table, holidays take on a whole new meaning, Pursue your passion one dream at a time. Editor in Chief Beth Feldman Passion: To inspire others to stop talking about what they want to do and show them how to just do it! Managing Editor Jeanne Muchnick Passion: To live life to the fullest. Art Director Katie Schlientz Passion: To make the world a more beautiful place, one page at a time. Contributors Jennifer Anthony Jennie Baird Dhana Cohen Lynn Colwell Corey Colwell-Lipson Jenn Fadal Cat Greenleaf Nirasha Jaganath Natalie MacLean Julie Maloney Elizabeth Mascali Ann Pieramici Cindy Richards Eric Ruhalter Dawn Sandomeno Jennifer Wagner Lauren Wattenberg Kelly Whalen RoleMommy.com Role Mommy is an online community and events company dedicated to inspiring today’s busy parents to pursue their passion while raising a family. Role Mommy hosts online writing and career workshops as well as events that bring entrepreneurs, authors, parenting experts and bloggers together to share how they’ve reinvented their lives while raising a family. For more information, visit www.ProjectYouMagazine.com and www.RoleMommy.com. Contact us editor’sLETTER Happy Holi-Daze! I don’t know how it happened, but in the blink of any eye, the holidays crept up upon us and I’m sitting here trying to figure out how I’m going to lose 10 pounds before Christmas. Funny how we start out the year vowing to reinvent our lives promising ourselves we’ll lose weight, change careers or take time for ourselves. Inevitably, many of our resolutions never get fulfilled because we’re too busy managing our family’s hectic schedules. Well, here at Project You, our goal is to help you de-stress and remember to take time for all those things you promised yourself earlier in the year (if you can remember back that far!). And that means, rather than standing on long lines as you attempt to find the perfect gifts for your kids, your distant relatives and your friends, we’ve got gift picks that you can order with the click of a mouse. Some of our faves include the suggestions by Jennifer Wagner at Connect with Your Teens. After all, tweens and teens are notoriously hard to shop for. We’ve also got fabulous party tips and cocktail recipes courtesy of Partybluprints, Genesis Moments, and Chef Marcela Valladolid, who this year, traveled around the country on behalf of Sauza tequila hosting “Ladies Night In” parties at the homes of some of our favorite blogging moms. We’ve even got the perfect wines for those hardto-buy folks on your list. Our celebrity mom of the month is none other than Sharon Osbourne, who I got the chance to meet during the launch of her new daytime show “The Talk” on CBS. Sharon’s no-holds-barred attitude, coupled with her nurturing spirit puts her high on our list of most inspiring stars. If you’re stressing out about breaking the bank this time of year, we feature financial tips from Kelly Whalen at Centsible Life as well as a refresher course on how to spruce up your resume (‘Tis the season of job-hunting!). For the perpetually out of shape, Wii Mommies founder Julie Maloney shares how she lost over 100 pounds playing video games. Yes, you read that right. You CAN preserve your waist line while still eating what you love, though fitness videos are a must. Despite all this technology, you’ll also learn how to stop LUSTing (info on what that means on page 25) where “Talk Stoop” host Cat Greenleaf offers advice on how to power down our PDA’s. As usual, our goal at Project You is to inspire and motivate and get you thinking and doing. Which also means reflecting on all the wonderful things you have (but often might not appreciate because they’re yelling and kicking and screaming in the back seat while you’re driving just when your husband calls to tell you 10 more people are coming for the holidays). It’s a great season. Truly. Enjoy it. And yes, that means taking time out to put you first. Happy Holidays! ProjectYouMagazine@gmail.com cover photo: ©istockphoto.com/liliboas 4 l A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 Beth Feldman Editor in Chief betweenus Making You r Holi-daze By Lynn C olwell and Corey Co a little “Gre lwell-Lips on ener” It’s easy, fu na holidays. S nd affordable to add ome tips: some “eco ” to your tin cans, C ✔ Avoid co D cases etc nventiona . Work toge discuss wh l wrapping can be use ther to a paper. Use t might be d over and made from o fa v e b e v ri r, e r c vintage wa dren’s draw y th o u a t ’v whate g athered. ll paper, m ings, or pap aps, chilers embed the recipie ✔ Remem ded with se nt can plan ber your re eds that t. usable bag u p. Keep a h s! 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T ich are ma an conventi li h k is e de from pe is to fun to mak o a sp n g a end ift that kee l troleum, bu e. Engage y ps on givin t they’re our kids in own decor g. ■ rolling som and gifts. e for your ✔ Craft gif ts and dec or as a fam Look aroun ily. Celebrate d the house Green.ne Mother/D fo t r it aughter w ems that can be riters Lynn and Corey incorporate Colwell C o d lwell-Lipso into gift m of Celebra n are auth aking—ribb te ors G re en! Crea on, t-shirts, foo Holidays, C d wrappers elebration ting Eco-Savvy , sa fo Lynn C Corey Colwolwell & ell-Lipson r the Who le Family. nd Traditio ns ©istockphoto.com/cclickclick projectyou l 5 betweenus By Beth Feldman Talking with Sharon Osbourne On set of her new show, “The Talk,” Sharon discusses her parenting mistakes, life in the celebrity bubble and colon cancer. How’s that for real? I first met Sharon when she joined her fellow co-hosts, Sara Gilbert, Julie Chen, Leah Remini, Holly Robinson Peete and Marissa Jaret Winokur for a private luncheon with Tri-state area parenting bloggers. From the moment Sharon chimed into the lively conversation, she pulled no punches. She admitted that when she first gave birth, she was terrified of becoming a mother. She had no idea what she was doing and confessed she made plenty of mistakes along the way. She went on to talk about what it was like raising her children in the spotlight and whether she regretted the family’s decision to live their lives in front of millions when they starred in their own reality TV show, The Osbournes. She boldly announced that if she had to do it over again, she wouldn’t have: It was too taxing and she didn’t like the insults and media glare that spotlighted her children. Sharon also said she’s never been coy about talking to her kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. “When I found out one of my daughter’s friends Top, Sharon gives parenting bloggers honest answers on bringing up kids and the mistakes she’s made along the way. Left, getting cozy on set at The Talk. 6 l A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 Courtesy CBS Monty Brinton S haron Osbourne is a hugger. And that’s not something that can be said of many celebrities, but less than an hour after I met her, she wrapped her arms around me in a euphonious greeting and I was instantly “in love.” Truth be told, I first developed my mom crush on Sharon when she was a judge on “America’s Got Talent.” Despite the participants’ level of talent (or lack thereof), Sharon always offered words of encouragement and didn’t try to cut the contestants down to size. And that’s why, when I got the chance to meet her as she and her fellow co-hosts prepared to launch the new CBS daytime show, “The Talk,” I had a feeling we would hit it off. betweenus offered drugs to her, I confronted him spot on and told him I’d cut his ‘willy’ off” if he came near Kelly again. Before we knew it, our time with Sharon was over but not before I got the chance to hug her...twice. She was so friendly and I was thrilled we had made an instant connection. Fast forward one month and I’m racing to take my seat in the audience of “The Talk” along with more than a dozen Los Angeles area parenting bloggers. I take a seat smack in the middle of the first row, thrilled to be so close to my mom crush yet again. The women start the talk by sharing stories about their moms and their wedding days (news had just been announced that Prince William finally popped the question to his longtime girlfriend) and the moment we get to the commercial break, I caught Sharon’s attention with a big smile. If I didn’t think she was an inspiration the first time I met her, our second encounter definitely confirmed it. The show featured Sharon’s daughter, Kelly who shared some more incredible stories about her mother - including the fact that she cleaned houses at 15 (Sharon says “I was a good cleaner”), became estranged from her father when she decided to marry Ozzy Osbourne (her dad managed Ozzy), and fought colon cancer for two years, emerging stronger and more vocal than ever. Kelly also shared that despite the fact that she was about to begin a music career in New York and accept a role in a film with Lindsay Lohan, she dropped everything to move back home so she could be closer to her mother. Despite the fact that Sharon’s cancer had a dramatic effect on her family, in the end, her bout with the illness inevitably pulled all of them closer together. During the show, Kelly also said that while she was growing up, everyone told her she was just like her mother and as a teen, she never wanted to be like her. That is, until she hit her twenties. Now she says she is proud to be just like her mom and wouldn’t have it any other way. The entire audience was in tears as mom and daughter embraced (including me - I’ve got videotape to prove it). And when Kelly was asked who inspires her, she choked back tears and said, “Cliché as it may seem, the answer is definitely my mom.” Following the show, the LA parenting bloggers had lunch with the co-hosts and shared – as moms, not celebrities – talk of issues that relate to the strengths so many of us have hidden beneath our veneer. We have to be moms first – we have young children depending on us – but we also have to admit to our own mistakes, humility and humanity. Sometimes, “life” – as it did with Sharon – puts a big giant speed bump in our way and we need to figure out a way around it. So: hopefully more of that kind of “real” talk in the future with the show (Watch “The Talk” daily on CBS) as well as one big “virtual” hug from me to you. ■ Kelly Osbourne, left, tells the audience “My mom is my hero.” projectyou l 7 betweenus Taking Care of YOU: Five Resolutions You Can Stick To T ➊ Follow Your Heart. Don’t let “shoulds” and “have tos” rule your life. Melissa Cook of Attleboro, MA, found a goal worth pursuing when she used her kid’s naptime to email old friends. “It made me happy to reconnect with people I hadn’t spoken to in years,” she says. ➋ Take a Reality Check. Even if you’re enthusiastic, the most compelling resolu- tion will crash and burn if it’s not grounded in reality. Take the exercise regime Lynn Podolsky of Mamaroneck, NY, set up for herself. She was gung-ho with a gym in her neighborhood for about two weeks -- then felt like she couldn’t keep up. Now she takes a brisk 30-minute walk every evening, which works better with her schedule. ➌ Set Yourself Up for Success. Instead of stepping onto a path you know is riddled with uncertainty, create an environment in which you can thrive. For example, if your volunteer plate is full, take a pass on heading up another school committee and offer to make a phone call or two. ➍ Create a Dream Team. Levine likes to call it a “Wish It Group” comprised of likeminded individuals -- people committed to supporting you and sharing ideas. ➎ Bounce Back. Don’t beat yourself up when you encounter a set back. Figure out what’s not working or what will help you get back on track. And remember, a failure is a lesson waiting to be learned. Without setbacks, we’d never grow or change. ■ —J. M. How to Make the Holidays More Meaningful Helping your kids focus on the pleasures of sharing with others—giving, rather than receiving—can make a difference, according to Erika Karres, Ed.D, author of Make Your Kids Smarter, and an advocate for getting children to learn at an early age about giving to others. Some other ideas: Adopt a family. Some towns offer a program which matches those experiencing financial hardship with people who can offer a holiday meal. ● ● Give a personalized gift of coupons to an elderly or widowed neighbor. The coupons should be redeemable year-round and could include mowing their lawn, grocery shopping, washing their car, and so on. Invite someone over for a holiday meal that you know will be alone. ● Have children make holiday cards, then deliver them to a nursing home together. You can also gather some friends from the neighborhood and sing Christmas carols to the patients. ● Turn off the TV and read holiday stories to your children. Or tell family holiday stories...the funniest thing that happened to Grandma, or your best holiday memory. ● Cheer up children in a pediatric ward with craft activities and music. ● Encourage kids to buy and send a toy to an orphanage in Haiti, Afghanistan, or another area in need. ● Celebrate the different faiths of your friends. Many families combine faiths where one night one family helps decorate the Christmas tree; another night friends come over to light the menorah, eat latkes and spin dreidels. ■ ● 8 l A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 ©istockphoto.com/dmbaker; ©istockphoto.com/kameleon007 he problem with resolutions is that we often pick ones that are unrealistic and hard to keep. To start on a new path, you need to keep your steps small and focused. The more successful you are in attainting modest goals, the easier your larger ones will be. Such is the advice of Leslie Levine, an Illinoisbased life integration expert and author of Wish It, Dream It, Do It: Turn the Life You’re Living into the Life You Want. betweenus Holiday Mishaps? We’ve been there! I How to Decline a Holiday Invitation without Looking like a Scrooge t’s inevitable. You get a gift you already have, zits the size of Rudolph’s nose days before your neighborhood pot luck, and someone gives you a present who you never put on your radar screen, let alone your holiday list. What to do? We went to the experts: The easiest response is that you have a previous commitment, says Ms. Behavior etiquette expert Colleen Rickenbacher. Don’t lie, she says. Just that the holidays are really busy for you and that you won’t be able to make it. Whatever you do, do not ignore the invitation. Always RSVP. How to Feign Delight When Opening a Gift Raise your eyebrows, widen your eyes and curve your mouth in an “O” as in an exclamation of how excited you are. This of course makes it easy to say “Oh you shouldn’t have.” Then – stash it away and have fun selling it on EBay. What to Do If You Get Caught Without a Gift for Someone Who Has a Gift for You Graciously accept the gift and thank them, advises Rickenbacher. Then follow-up with a heartfelt thank you note. How to Hide Your Holiday Stress Pimples Atlanta-based makeup artist Meredith Boyd suggests dabbimg Visine on a cotton ball and pressing firmly onto the affected area for five minutes. This will reduce puffiness and redness. Follow by using a concealer stick—she recommends Physician’s Formula Powder Finish Concealer Stick in green (as green balances the redness of the skin). How to Stay up Late for New Year’s Eve ©istockphoto.com/piksel As you get ready to go out, play some funky, upbeat music, wash your face with cold water, brush your teeth and drink some oj. When you arrive at your party, eat a little bit and drink slowly. Another trick: set your watch back an hour so you won’ t realize how time is flying. How to Deal with Re-Gifting If you’re going to regift, do it openly, says Lisa Hammond, founder of Femail Creations who now blogs at www.The BareFootCEO.com. Say to your friend, “I got this great bracelet but it really doesn’t fit me and I knew you would love How to Get Your Guests to Help Clean Up it.” You can also regift when you’re bringing a gift that is not really required, as in a hostess gift. Another tactic: mix and match to come up with a whole new gift, say a book from one friend, a bracelet from another. The big “no-no, ” naturally, is to not mix gifts within similar circles. How to Deal with all the Bad Gifts You Get The only thing better than getting a bad gift, is knowing someone else is getting something worse. What to do? Host a “Bah Humbug party.” Plan it for after Christmas and before New Years. The only thing guests need to bring—their “worst” present (wrapped of course!). When they arrive, have everyone draw a name out of a hat. (Of course it should go without saying to NOT bring a “worst” gift from another person attending the party.) Need a way to “persuade” your guests to clean up after themselves? How about leaving “clean up baskets” throughout the house. Simply place fun festive baskets throughout the house. This little tidy-up hint can wow guests without you seeming like Scrooge. Or, simply talk about your upcoming back surgery and see who your true friends are, by who offers to help. How to Relieve Holiday Stress Soak in some wine. Yes, you read that right! Rice wine (sake) was the geisha’s secret for soft, smooth skin, and a way to retreat when life was stressful. The European substitution, believed to detoxify the body and rev up the circulation, is white wine (and if it comes from the sale bin, no one’s the wiser!). Shower off first and then soak half an hour or more in a hot bath enriched by a bottle of your choosing. (See more wine ideas on page 44.) ■ —J.M projectyou l 9 betweenus By Eric Ruhalter (Good Luck) Teaching Kids the True Meaning of the Holidays The latest hilarious D(ad) List Have you ever tried to get your kids to appreciate the non-material aspects of the holiday season? Yes? Good, then I’m not the only one who’s wasted their time. The truth is, in the mind of a child, what is there that could possibly upstage the prospect of being magically showered with gifts? For children, holidays are a rare opportunity to acquire some of the many appealinglooking fun consumer products thrust in their face every seven minutes while they’re watching cartoons. They don’t have jobs, they have holidays. And suddenly—toys, games, and candy can be theirs for the cost of a little good behavior. What a fascinating opportunity! Remember? Sure, we’d love for them to appreciate the family togetherness/peace/joy/love aspects of the holidays. Those are certainly beautiful things. But when they’re seven and they stand to obtain a brand new video game console, remote control helicopter or iPod Touch, it’s hard to get them excited about Aunt Agnes coming over with her nut bread. Kids hate nut bread. And if Aunt Agnes squeezes their cheeks and corrects their posture, they’re probably not nuts about her either. Appreciation of the true meaning of the season will come . . . though it might take 15 or more years. If families simply carry on their traditions and make the holidays fun times marked by togetherness and good feelings, they’ll impact the kids in wonderful ways and equip them, by the time they develop a taste for nut bread, with the wherewithal to love the season for the right reasons. Then it will be their turn to combat their kids to appreciate the holiday spirit. And you can come over and spoil your grandkids with cool new toys. ■ Least-Requested Holiday Gifts for Children this Season ✽ The Betty Crocker EZ Burn Oven ✽ Wreckcycle: The Bike with No Brakes KidDictionary Word: ✽ Nintendo Wii Household Chore Simulator ✽ Nerf Speculum ✽ Clothes ✽ Subscription to Root Vegetable of the Month Club ✽ BrickFeet: The Gravity-Amplifying Lead Shoes ✽ Sit ‘n Spin ‘n Puke ✽ Play Doh Brazilian Bikini Waxer Eric Ruhalter TheKidDictionary.com Eric Ruhalter studied economics at Dickinson College, in Carlisle PA, where he learned, first and foremost, that he’s not the least bit interested in the theories and principles of economics. So rather than study, he began spending most of his time writing. Don’t tell his father. He works in television in New York City, and resides in New Jersey with his wife, Kara, three children, and their two cats who will not stay off the dining room table no matter what Eric says or does to them. (Eric often speaks in the third person with hopes that it will make him seem more important.) 10 l A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 ©istockphoto.com/pagadesign JINGLEBERRY (JING-uhlberr-ee) n.: A Holiday song whose lyrics have been altered to contain potty-talk and other themes contrary to the spirit of the season they were intended to celebrate. ✽ Sister Cynthia Sisk: The Lisping Robot Nun charge IT! By Dhana Cohen Pamper Yourself Five Zings for YOU ... because you deserve it! 1 2 Rachel Abroms Studio The word fabulous only begins to describe this line of jewelry from Rachel Abroms. From leather wraps to coin necklaces, she doesn’t miss a beat with the hottest trends. 1 2 Eidia Lush A blank canvas of art on your own designer shoes. What a clever idea. Take a look at the vast selections of fabrics and have Eidia Lush design a custom shoe for you. 3 Bio Nova Labs The only skin care company that has the knowledge, technology and ability to produce individual specialized products is BIONOVA. Customize your skin care line, by your age, skin type, sex, area of focus. 4 3 Strappys Decorative Bra Straps Feel pretty with Strappys Decorative Bra Straps. I love this idea and know you will too. Have problems with your bra strap always showing? Now you don’t have to worry, Strappys are the best invention for us fashionistas! 5 Brynn Capella Designer Handbags Handbag designer Brynn Capella, gets her inspiration from her friends, and seeing fault in other handbags, Brynn combines her design sense with her practical side and gives us function and upscale design in all her handbags. Dhana Cohen TheNextBigZing.com Dhana Cohen is founder of www.TheNextBig Zing.com an innovative new way to shop online. Through video reviews, consumers can watch, shop and buy their favorite trendy products. Dhana is a mom of two boys—Austin, 14 and Spencer, 9. Dhana is originally from Indianapolis and now lives in the suburbs of Chicago. She loves cooking, painting, and being with her husband, Freddy, and the kids at their lake house. 4 For more great gift ideas, check out our NEW website, www. ProjectZing. com! 5 projectyou l 11 charge IT! 5 By Jennifer Wagner The Best Gifts for Your Teens Electronic are in, as are thoughtprovoking games and movies... I t’s a whole new electronic world out there and admittedly, we moms often seem to be behind the curve since what’s “hot” in both technology and pop culture changes every two seconds. Which is why I started my blog, Connect with Teens. It’s a way to stay in touch with what your adolescents are into, giving you a forum to discuss/and or enjoy new products together. (And yes, I have two teenage boys that I spend a lot of time playing game with). Here, the latest and greatest when it comes to teen-centric gifts. Jennifer Wagner Connect With Your Teens Through Pup Culture and Technology Jennifer Wagner has been working with Millennials for years, mostly as an academic law librarian teaching students legal research. Her blog, Connect with your Teens through Pop Culture and Technology, helps parents keep up with pop culture and technology as a way of bonding with their teenage children. 12 l 1 7 2 5 Movies Games 2 3 MythBusters, Hit the Target Trivia Game From the makers of the I Can Do That! Games based on the TV series MythBusters from the Discovery Channel. Part of a line of games called ZimZala, built on the notion that “families who play together stay together.” Over 400 questions, which when answered correctly allow you to launch Buster, your crash test dummy, out of the catapult at your target to try for a win. Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy Can you believe it’s been 25 years? What a great movie series to watch with your teens. In addition to DVD, this trilogy comes in Blu-ray with Digital Copy. All three movies are restored for perfect picture and sound. Bonus features include a six-part retrospective documentary featuring all new interviews with cast, director and producers; the physics of Back to the Future, deleted scenes, making of, outtakes, the ride and much more. Toy Story Trilogy There has been much hoopla around the release of Toy Story 3, but did you know they also released Toy Story Trilogy, a 10-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo? Why not get the trilogy? It’s great for kids of all ages. The Twilight Saga Eclipse Coming out in early December, just in time for the holidays. Available on Two-Disc Special Edition DVD, Single-Disc Blu-Ray/DVD Combo, Single Disc DVD or Single Disc Blu-Ray. 4 High School Flashback Collection One DVD contains three ultimate John Hughes high school teen movies from the 80s - The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Weird Science. A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 Mastermind In this award-winning classic game, players must use strategy and problem solving skills to outsmart their opponent. One player is the code maker and sets a code of colored pegs. The other player is the code breaker and attempts to break the code with help from clues given by the code maker in 10 moves or less. The ultimate logical thinking game. In addition to the classic version for teens and adults, there are now new editions for kids six and up. 6 7 Do Tell: The Hilarious Game of Connection A combination of Cranium with conversation starters such as Table Topics and KidChat where players reveal themselves using words and actions, sometimes thought provoking, sometimes side-splitting. The games help family members get to know each other better, but provides fun at the same time. 13 7 Electronics 8 Kindle Although I love my iPad, I do not think teens need such an expensive device. The Kindle can be purchased for $139 and I really do think that many teenagers will read more if they have one. They are so small and light they can be carried in any purse or backpack. Teens love gadgets and the best part is they can read anything in public, yet nobody knows what they are reading. 9 15 Spy Gear Spy Video Trakr The first programmable remote-controlled vehicle that digitally transmits color video, audio and data and enables users to create, download and share custom apps. Comes with night vision, cyborg vision and path mapper. When I saw it being demo’d I thought it was for adults, but it is actually for kids ages eight and up. I have a feeling college students will be wanting these. 10 Toys LEGO Creator Winter Toy Shop LEGOs are not just for kids. This set specifies it is for ages 12 and up, hence teenagers or adults. What a great time you and your teens could have building this together. 11 The Original Knotball Knotball is a short rope attached to a ball about the size of a golf ball. The goal is to create a knot in the rope using only one hand. Definitely fun and challenging for the whole family. 12 Xtreme Fit Have you and your family wanted to exercise with all the great Wii fitness video games, but don’t have a Wii? Xtreme Fit works the same way except you don’t need a video game system. You just plug it into your television set. It includes many pre-set fitness programs, a personal trainer to guide you, a motion sensor mat to detect your moves. 14 Books The Lost Encyclopedia When this book arrived at my door I couldn’t believe how much better it was than I ever expected. It is a big beautiful coffee table book. There is just so much goodness in here I can’t begin to explain it. All I can say is The Lost Encyclopedia explains everything you ever wanted to know, and then some, in a wonderful colorful way. It is a true must-have for any Lost fan. 15 The Hunger Games Trilogy Whether this series will become the next Harry Potter or Twilight is irrelevant. I recently finished the first book of the series, The Hunger Games, and it was one of the most exciting, well-written, fast-paced young adult novels I ever read. I couldn’t put it down. I can’t wait to read the next two, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. ©istockphoto.com/valentynvolkov 9 13 Franklin Sports Bounce-ABucket Remember the skee-ball arcade games? The Franklin Sports ball games are similar, except instead of rolling the ball, you bounce it instead to try to get the ball into the baskets. For ages six and up. projectyou l 13 meTIME By Jeanne Muchnick Gifts to Give Yourself S You deserve to put yourself first…at least for today ure, we’re all dashing, driving, doing...but that doesn’t mean we can’t carve out moments to reward ourselves with simple pleasures. The best presents are the ones we give ourselves, explains Cheryl Richardson, author of the best-selling books, Take Time for Your Life and Stand Up For Good. Self-care will translate into better emotional and physical well-being. So, indulge in the following and open yourself to new possibilities. Laughter is best medicine. 1 Since housework can be so timeconsuming, declare a “No Clean” day once a week like San Antonio, Texas resident Melody Campbell-Goeken does. She gives herself permission not to do the laundry or not clean the house... and do what she wants, like put together scrapbooks,or paint her toe nails. Scheduling one activity a week that is all yours is key, says Richardson who suggests a yoga class, slowly sipping a Starbucks coffee, or going to the playground and swinging on a swing. 2 The Gift of Tears There’s a saying that a good belly laugh lives on the other side of a good cry. According to Richardson, crying frees up pent-up emotion and helps to clean out the mind, re-energize the body, and rejuvenate the spirit. Since many people find it difficult to cry, she recommends renting a sad movie to give your tears a nudge. Then watch it alone and let yourself go. Some suggestions: Atonment, The Notebook or My Sister’s Keeper. 3 The Gift of Music It’s amazing how much lighter you feel when you put on a CD and shake your booty. Those old tunes from high school or college reach deep into your soul and make you feel like 14 l you’re l6 again. Or put on Christmas music year-round to put you in a celebratory mood. 4 The Gift of Solitude Beryl Meyer, MSW, CSW, a psychotherapist based in Nyack, NY, says solitude is essential to understanding your deepest needs and motivations -- enabling you to really hear and respond to them. Her suggestion? Separate from the chaos of everyday life and really listen to yourself. Turn off the phone, TV, computer and concentrate on you. Take a walk -- without your Ipod. Or take a bath and put an “Occupied” sign on the door. Garden. Read. Or just close your eyes and dream. 5 The Gift of Kindness Think about it. When someone opens the door for you when you’re carrying a bunch of groceries, or does something unexpected and nice, like letting you go ahead of them in line at the pharmacy because you have a tired toddler, it makes your day. The power of kindness goes a long way towards a less A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 stressful life, says Tom Massey Ph.D, an Oklahoma-based motivational speaker. When we are thankful and pleasant to people, we tap into a natural, positive energy flow. Robbie Miller Kaplan, author of How to Say It When You Don’t Know What to Say, says that simple acts of kindness are all that’s needed to make others -- as well as yourself -- feel good about life. Her secret to kindness? Writing notes once a week to family members and friends letting them know how much she cares about them. Affirming self-talk also helps in keeping you good-hearted, says Dr. Massey. One of the most effective ways to do this is to post personal power statements on your bathroom mirror, on the sun visor of your car, or in your Blackberry. These are simple sayings meant to remind you how wonderful and deserving you are. 6 The Gift of Laughter Go ahead: laugh a little. Or a lot. Laughter is not only fun, but a powerful healing agent. Take a “ho-ho” break as often as you take a coffee break. Read humor books (something by Erma ©istockphoto.com/digitalskillet The Gift of Time Bombeck or Dave Barry), watch comedy sitcoms (30 Rock, Modern Family, Saturday Night Live,), and spend time with people who make you laugh. 7 The Gift of Reflection Reflect on all that you have -- instead of what you don’t. This will override your stress, explains Jay Winner, MD, author of Stress Management Made Simple. With gratitude, our food tastes better and the simple act of taking a bath or shower can be luxurious and relaxing. If you were stranded on a desert island and couldn’t shower for a week, that first hot shower would be incredible. Why not use that way of thinking and enjoy today’s shower in that same way? he says. Similarly, when you’re rushing around carpooling and your kids are driving you crazy, think instead how thankful you are that you have children, rather than on how much noise they are making. It’s wonderful musical sound when you think of being stranded on that island away from them. Dr. Winner says increasing your sense of appreciation is simple. Just say one or several of these phrases to yourself each day: “I feel privileged to have X in my life;” or “I am lucky to have Y.” Jon Gordon, author of Become an Energy Addict, agrees, and says we all have choices to choose positive energy over negative energy. “If you focus on what your children are doing right more than what they are doing wrong you’ll get more of what they are doing right.” He suggests counting your blessings -- literally -- by writing down what you are thankful for before you go to bed each night. It can be as simple as what happened that day, i.e. filling your car up with gas, or finding the chicken recipe you needed. 8 The Gift of Energy Balance is the key to a life of fulfillment, personal health and happiness, says Dr. Massey. First, become away of where your energy is going. Look at your calendar and review the past six months. Where has your time been going? You may need to make adjustments to give proportionate attention to spiritual, mental and physical well-being. Gordon says if you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t have energy to give to others. Think of yourself as an energy vending machine. When your family comes to you with their quarters, make sure you are ready to dispense love and attention. Stock up on your strength by taking time to eat right and schedule two or three rituals a day to help your energy foundation. Think of three habits that increase your stamina, such as eating a good breakfast, taking an exercise class or a satisfying afternoon snack. Then make appointments with yourself in a daily planner. Make these appointments as important as a doctor’s visit. Select the best time of day to fit your “energy boost” into your schedule. Be realistic. This means “recharging your batteries,” by doing something special for yourself every day. Joanne Dennison of Martinsville, NJ, for example, spends ten to thirty minutes each morning reading something “uplifting or motivational” before she starts her day. “These few minutes help me approach my schedule calmly energized,” she says. 9 A Trip Down Memory Lane: Call or email an old friend, “google” a former flame, or dig out photo albums and get those warm, fuzzy feelings by reliving your wedding day or honeymoon, or even looking at photos of relatives who may have passed on. l0 The Gift of Reinvention In other words, be outrageous, says Richardson. Fuel your spirit by doing something you might never have done before, such as buying a sexy dress, or getting highlights in your hair. Treat yourself to flowers. Splurge on silk sheets. Go to a restaurant and pretend it’s your birthday and let them bring out a cake and sing to you. Try something you’ve never done before -- or something you’ve been thinking of doing -- like taking a belly dance class or Zumba. Search your heart and discover your unfulfilled desires. In the end, making YOU happy will help make everyone else in your family just as fulfilled. ■ kidSPIRATION By Ann Pieramici A Day at the Fair A life lesson, pumpkin not included. T he pumpkin sat on the red and white clothed picnic table under the warm sun waiting to be judged. My daughters, ages 8 and 10, had spent several hours the prior day decorating the two-pound gourd, readying it for this moment: Its official entrance into the Pumpkin Decorating Contest at their elementary school’s annual Country Fair. Being an especially craft-challenged mother, I did as much as I could. I drove the girls to the pumpkin patch and set them free to argue over which pumpkin they would choose. After some debate and compromise, they settled on the off-color, slightly lopsided, grooved one. At that point, I did what any good mom would. I directed them to the beautifully round, deep orange, smooth specimen sitting in the same patch. Much to my chagrin, they wouldn’t budge. So I kept my mouth shut and walked past the picture-perfect pumpkin. Once home, the girls charged into the house to start their creation. I begged them to wait, as I had packages in the car, emails to answer and a dishwasher that required unloading. “Just give me twenty minutes and then I’ll help you,” I pleaded. “We know what we want to do mom,” my younger daughter responded. The girls spent the next hour or so working together in their playroom. Every so often they would run upstairs for a cup of water for their paintbrushes or tape or glue. “You are not actually putting scotch tape on the pumpkin, are you?” I nervously questioned. “Don’t worry,” Arin, my older daughter responded, adding, “You can’t come down here to see it until it’s finished!” It was done about an hour later at which point I was invited downstairs for the unveiling. With complete candor, I can say that I was (imagine a dramatic drum roll) underwhelmed. The girls had used gray paint to make a face. Then they took the 16 l eyes from an old Mr. Potato Head and affixed them crosswise, along with just one yellow, plastic triangular ear. Using purple Halloween fangs and white putty, they fashioned a mouth, centered around two small pink heart cutouts left over from Valentine’s Day. The nose, a gray round rubber mass, was positioned in place with a green pushpin. Topping it off was crazy black pipe-cleaner hair. Suffice it to say that it was obvious that the girls had decorated their pumpkin with absolutely no parental supervision. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Unless of course your child’s pumpkin is competing against the art teacher’s son’s pumpkin or any of the incredibly crafty parents’ kids’ pumpkins, who exist in mass at our school. Driving to the Fair and thinking about those artistic, involved mothers, I gently told the girls that there was sure to be a lot of really great pumpkins, likely created with the help of some parents and not to get their hopes up. Yes, I’m ashamed to admit that I actually told them their pumpkin was “a mess” and “would not likely win.” That’s when my 8-year-old daughter Lily put me in my place, saying A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 “Mom, that really hurts our feelings. We worked hard on this and did it all by ourselves.” I credited her wisdom and once again, shut my mouth. The Fair was a wonderful success. The girls were responsible for registering their pumpkin (which they did) and then had the day free to walk around all the booths with their friends. I busied myself volunteering in the lemonade, cakewalk and stuffed toy areas. It was at this last booth, when the five-hour Fair nearly ended, that Lily came running up to me screaming she had won something.” At first I thought it was the raffle. But no, Lily was screaming that Mr. Cross-Eyed Pumpkin Head got first place in the “Funniest Pumpkin” category. A small gold trophy sat beside the gourd, which now appeared to be smirking (at me anyway) through its plastic fangs. It was in that moment that I realized it wasn’t the pumpkin that was being judged. It was me. I had failed my kids by not believing in them when instead I should have applauded their independence and creativity—messiness and all. They were the ones that taught me that my idea of the “mom approved” pumpkin was completely different from theirs —and that was ok. In fact, it was more than ok. It was perfect. ■ Ann P ieramici Ann Pieramici is a freelance writer with more than 20 years publishing experience, having worked for Country Living, American Heritage, Hearst Special Interest and National Geographic Traveler magazines. She currently freelances for the Montecito Journal from her home in Santa Barbara, CA. She lives with her husband, two crafty daughters, a dog, and one award-winning pumpkin. raise yourGLASS! By Elizabeth Mascali, Dawn Sandomeno, Sarah Peppel and Chef Marcela Vallodolid Poinsettia Cocktail © Jo-Lynne/Musings from a Housewife The Holiday Spirit ’Tis the season for entertaining and thanks to food and lifestyle bloggers Genesis Moments, Musings from a Housewife, and Partybluprints along with Food Network star Chef Marcela Vallodolid, we’ve got a host of drinks sure to impress your guests. Poinsetta Cocktails anyone? When we did a call out on our Project You Facebook page for innovative holiday drink recipes, Sarah Peppel from Genesis Moments and DIY Frugal shared her Poinsettia Cocktail Recipe. According to Sarah, the poinsettias are used for decoration as you can see in the fabulous drink photos taken by entertaining blogger extraordinaire, JoLynne Shane with Musings of A Housewife. Poinsettia Cocktail ❏ 1/4 cup Triple Sec or Cointreau ❏ 1/4 cup Champagne ❏ 1 /2 cup Cranberry Juice (Red or White) Mix chilled cranberry juice (red for a fun festive drink, white for the spill-conscious host) with Triple Sec. Add champagne and pour into cocktail glass. (Alternatives: Switch out the 1/4 cup Triple Sec with 1/4 cup Vodka or 1 T Grand Marnier.) Non-alcoholic version: Cranberry Juice & Gingerale - equal parts. projectyou l 17 by Chef Marcela Vallodolid The raspberry in this drink makes it a bit sweet and sour with the tequila. The mint simply makes it perfectly refreshing. ❏ 16 oz of cranberry/ raspberry juice ❏ 8 mint leaves for garnish ❏ 8 oz. cup lemon soda ❏ 6 oz of Sauza Tequila Blanco Mint Berry Margarita Method of Preparation: Combine all ingredients except mint leaves in a pitcher. Serve each glass with 2 mint leaves. Serve cold or iced. Serves 4. Partybluprints Warm Winter Punch As we head into the holiday season, many of us will be hosting family and friends. It’s important to remember that among the guests who will enter our home this season are children. As hosts, we have an opportunity to make them feel special and create an experience for them that will last a lifetime. One simple way I try to cater to the kids at my holiday gatherings is to create special appetizers just for them. Designate a kid-friendly spot to serve these foods and you will make the little people at your party feel important too! Add small water bottles or juice boxes and display on a low lying table so they can help themselves – they will feel empowered and won’t need to pester Mom and Dad for help. The added bonus is that you won’t have hungry, cranky kids and the adult guests at your gathering can leisurely enjoy a cocktail and conversation before everyone sits down for the meal. A win-win idea! 18 l A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 The Essence of Entertaining The holiday season is here so take the opportunity to share time and make memories with family and friends. Parties are not one-size fits all, so find a style of entertaining that suits you and feels good. Think out of the box, maybe it’s a Sunday Brunch or a Friday Night Dessert Party instead of a more traditional Holiday Open House that works for you. Anyway you decide to go, if you party with a plan and Plan to Party you will reap the rewards that come from opening your home and heart to others. Here are some general rules to remember when entertaining. The Essence of Entertaining (excerpt from our book, Plan to Party) e believe the perfect party experience is W achieved when people simply feel good, relaxed, and open to connecting with others. Follow these important tips, and free your guests’ senses for a fabulous and memorable experience. ✔E ntertain not to impress, but to address, and enjoy your guests. Entertaining in your home is an opportunity to treat your friends and family to a special and personal experience— treat it as such. ✔D evise a plan to manage your time and tasks so you are not overwhelmed or unprepared for your guests. If you plan carefully, you can prepare everything ahead of time and be a guest at your own party. ✔W e believe the most effective (and fun) way to approach entertaining is to start with a plan to stimulate the five senses. Pay attention to all the elements of your party and make sure they enhance, and do not detract from, each other (consider it a symphony for the senses): the food, the tablescape, the music, the lighting, etc. If you achieve the right balance, your guests’ senses will be satisfied, resulting in relaxed and happy guests and the perfect party environment! ©istockphoto.com/brebca Mint Berry Margarita To help you address your guests and their senses, here are some “good sense” tips to stimulate the five senses when entertaining: ✔P alate: Coordinate your cocktail, wine, and menu selections. Keep it simple and use fresh ingredients whenever possible. Don’t experiment at your party; stick with reliable recipes. Very important—prepare as much as you can ahead of time. ✔V ision: Seeing is feeling. Serve your guests a beautiful signature cocktail as they arrive. This not only relaxes your guests, but gives them a visual signal of things to come. Lighting greatly affects the vibe of your party, so plan accordingly. While candlelight is always best for night, most times it does not cast enough light for dining. Invest in a dimmer(s) for your dining/living room(s)/entertaining space; it will help to create the perfect mood while maintaining the ambiance of your candlelight. ✔ Aroma: Allow a “good” food aroma to waft through the air. Scent memory is powerful and can instantly create a warm feeling associated with a fond memory of a place or time (e.g., the smell of cotton candy can bring us back to memories of being a child at a summer fair). Make sure to buy unscented candles to avoid overpowering the senses. The exception to this rule is in the powder room. ✔A coustics: Music is instrumental. Prepare your music mix in advance and coordinate it with the vibe of your party. Music has the incredible power to relax, excite, inspire, and transport people to another place mentally. ✔ F eel: Connect with your guests. What guest would not feel special knowing their host specially prepared this party just for them? Make time for conversation and show your guests that you are happy they are in your home sharing time with you. ✔ Note: Begin and end on a personal note. Make your guests feel extra special by sending a personalized invitation and end with a keepsake from the evening. Gestures like these make a further personal connection between you and your guests. ■ Elizabeth Mascali & Dawn Sandomeno PartyBluPrints Blog Elizabeth Mascali and Dawn Sandomeno are party and lifestyle authors, bloggers, and social media hostesses. Their first book, PLAN TO PARTY, (Yorkshire Publishing) full of ideas from their wildly successful Partybluprints Blog, is a go-to resource for home entertaining. Dawn and Elizabeth are passionate about celebrating life and have used their party planning expertise to help raise money for charities like Share Our Strength, Cancer Care and SharingVillage.org. projectyou l 19 holidayTRAVEL By Cindy Richards Traveling the Friendly Skies …Not! Going to Grandma’s house isn’t as easy as it used to be. Here, some tips to get you there. ● Power up. Never leave home without a power strip. It will come in handy at the airport and in the hotel. There are never enough easily accessible plugs in either place. At the airport, if the lone plug has already been taken, politely ask if you can plug in your power strip, then plug in your husband’s phone and laptop first, before plugging in your phone, the kids’ DS and DVD player. At the hotel, the power strip becomes a charging station. No more need to move furniture in search of an outlet or worry about forgetting the charger you plugged in behind the bed. ● Take a picture—in the parking garage. No one wants to ruin that vacation afterglow with a two-hour trek through the parking garage trying to remember where the SUV is parked. Simply shoot a photo of the parking spot before you unload the trunk and you’ll know exactly Yes, Virginia, it’s possible to travel without tearing your hair out. where to find your car when you return. ● Bring a map. It will come in handy if the GPS crashes and it can be great fun for kids. They can follow the progress of the road trip and look for nearby sites that might be worth a stop. The GPS might tell you where the nearest Starbucks is, but it probably doesn’t know that you’re only 30 miles from the town where Aunt Sarah grew up. A little detour here could help form fun family memories. ● Pack one essentials bag. Put a toothbrush, jammies and one change of clothes for each family member into a single suitcase. If you fly, it’s your carry-on, filled with the necessities in case a checked bag is lost. If you drive, it saves you from unpacking the entire car for every one-night stop. Don’t forget to toss in the bathing suits so the kids can head to the hotel pool and burn off some of that pent up energy. ● Bring snacks. Whether you’re flying or driving, food and drink is the key to keeping kids happy. Choose water--it doesn’t stain when it spills--and leave the salty snacks at home. They just increase thirst, which increases drinking, which increases the need for potty breaks. My family’s favorite snack: frozen grapes. They taste great and help keep the cooler cool. ■ Cindy R ichards TravelingMom.com Cindy Richards is a veteran travel writer and the editor of TravelingMom.com. Packing Tips ✔ Scan important documents. Then, email them to your smart phone or Internet-based email account in case the originals are lost or stolen. ✔ Pick a color. If you choose clothes that are in the same color family (gray, brown, black), it’s easy to pack efficiently in one bag. ✔ Accessorize. Add color accents to your wardrobe with scarves, jewelry, wraps and T-shirts. ✔ Stay warm. Pack at least one cardigan or pashmina. Airplanes tend to be chilly. 20 l A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 ✔ Plan to be active. Pack your exercise clothes. Roll them tightly so they don’t take up much space. ✔ Bag it. Small bags (whether Ziploc bags or ecofriendly reusable bags) are a traveler’s best friend. Use them to keep all your electronic chargers in one spot, to organize socks and underwear, and to package up dirty clothes for the trip home. ✔ Be frugal about footwear. If you have packed clothes in the same color family, you only need one pair of dress shoes, one pair of casual comfortable shoes and one pair of sneakers. ©istockphoto.com/paha_L; ©istockphoto.com/sjlocke T raveling shouldn’t feel like another job. It should be fun, even when you’re traveling with the kids. Here’s how to help lower your stress level and keep everyone happy during a family holiday. Role Mommy is an online community, events company and a resource for busy parents to rediscover what made them tick before kids. Whether you’re an aspiring writer, an entrepreneur, parenting expert or a mom in need of a good laugh, answers and inspiration, then RoleMommy.com is the perfect place for you. Subscribe to our “Role Mommy on the Run” newsletter and if you’re a parenting blogger, join “The List” and receive invitations to events, media opportunities, writing assignments and much more! dinner MOM By Jeanne Muchnick Comfort Food Tonight Keep it simple (and make it easy on yourself!) with a one-dish-wonder of a meal. Turkey Osso Buco Stew Submitted by Tina Oppedisano, mom of three, New Rochelle, NY (also a certified nutrition and wellness consultant and personal chef) Ingredients ❏ 1 half-breast turkey cut into 4 pieces ❏ 2 turkey thighs ❏ salt and ground black pepper ❏ all purpose flour for dredging ❏ 1/2 cup canola oil ❏ 1 onion diced ❏ 2 carrots peeled and diced ❏ 2 celery stalks diced ❏ 2 russet potatoes diced ❏ 1 tablespoon tomato paste ❏1 cup dry white wine (one you would drink) ❏ 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth ❏ 1 large fresh rosemary sprig ❏ 2 large fresh thyme sprigs ❏ 2 bay leaves ❏ 2 whole cloves 22 l Directions 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees season the turkey with salt and pepper, then dredge the pieces in the flour, shaking off excess. In a heavy roasting pan large enough to fit turkey pieces in single layer add turkey pieces cook until browned on both sides. Transfer to plate and reserve. 2. In a heavy roasting pan large enough to fit turkey pieces in a single layer, add turkey. Cook until browned on both sides. Transfer to plate and serve. 3. To the same pan, add the onion, carrot, and celery. Season the vegetables with salt and cook until tender. Stir in tomato paste and cook for one minute. Stir in the wine and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Return the turkey to the pan. 4. Add chicken broth, potatoes, herb sprigs, bay leaves, and cloves to pan. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover the pan tightly with foil and transfer to the oven. Braise until the turkey is fork tender, about 1 hour and A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 Farmers Pie (A combination of a quiche and a meatloaf) One of my faves that I got from my friend (and former Martha Stewart employee) Andrew Okopal of Brooklyn, NY Ingredients ❏ 1 lb. ground turkey ❏ 1 small “pack” of goat cheese (or any other kind of cheese you want) ❏ 1 can of garlic/basil died tomatoes fully drained ❏ some chopped onion ❏ some potato cut into 1 inch cubes ❏ 4 eggs Directions 1. Put everything in a bowl and mix with your hands into a paste. 2. Pour olive oil into a casserole to coat—be generous because the turkey has no fat in it. 3. Fold in the meat/egg mixture. 4. Sprinkle grated parm cheese on top. Sprinkle with diced olives, dried basil or oregano for decoration. 5. Bake for 1 hr 15 min; Serve with a viniagrette salad (ideal served warm, NOT hot). ©istockphoto.com/stephaniefrey I t’s 6 p.m. and the battle cry has begun—often before you’ve taken off your coat and got both feet in the front door—“What’s for dinner?” Usually that question is like nails against a chalkboard, meaning who the hell knows? But come winter, when hearty stews, casseroles and soups are easy to make, the answer is simple: A warming, one pot wonder. Think about it my fellow (exhausted, stressed-out, multi-tasking) mom comrades —you chop, dice and throw some things in your crock pot/saucepot in the morning and come late afternoon/early evening, the fruits of your labor are bubbling, simmering and sizzling with the tempting smells and promise of a delicious home-cooked meal, often with enough leftovers to last the week. A good one pot meal generally includes a protein (meat, chicken), aromatics (garlic, herbs, spices), vegetables and a starch (potatoes, rice, grains, pasta). And it’s honestly that melding of flavors, often substituting some of your favorite spices in lieu of what a recipe suggests, that provides for a delicious warming meal. The secret: You just have to be plan ahead (and have a decent-size pot or deep skillet). The beauty? You don’t have to be a stellar cook to get it together. (I use time-saving ingredients such as prepared sauces, marinated meats, washed/pre-cut vegetables, bagged salads, and other lifesavers, such as frozen pre-cooked brown rice.). Plus—and here’s the kicker—you essentially only have one pot to clean at the end of the evening. It’s seriously the best way to get dinner on the table in a hurry. Here, some simple recipes from moms like you. 45 minutes, turning pieces after 1 hour. 5. Slice turkey and serve in shallow bowls season the sauce and vegetables with salt and pepper and ladle some over each serving. the longer baking time will meld the sauce and give it that long cooked quality. 7. Serve over quinoa, basmati rice, or noodles. Brisket Beef (or Turkey) Barley Stew Submitted by Cornelia Zell, Mamaroneck, NY, mom of two, and Pampered Chef rep Ingredients ❏1 lb. lean ground beef (can substitute ground turkey) ❏ 2/3 cup of barley, rinsed ❏ 2 cans Veg-All* ❏ 3 cups V-8 or tomato juice ❏1 medium potato, peeled and cut in to ½” cubes ❏ 3 cups water ❏ 1 teaspoon Italian seasonings ❏ ½ teaspoon pepper ❏ A dd other seasonings to taste, such as salt, garlic, parsley *FYI: Veg-all can be found in canned veggie section; it’s basically just a combination of a bunch of vegetables; you can also find them frozen. Directions 1. Brown ground beef in small stock pot. ©istockphoto.com/sf_foodphoto Drain grease. Add other ingredients and simmer until barley is cooked, about 45 minutes. Greek Chicken Stew Submitted by Wona Miniati, co-author of Cooking with Trader Joe’s: Dinner’s Done; www.CookingWithTraderJoes.com (all ingredients available at Trader Joe’s) Ingredients ❏ 1/4 cup flour ❏ 1/2 tsp salt ❏ 1/2 tsp pepper ❏ 1 tsp dried oregano ❏2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 3 breasts) ❏ 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided ❏3 cups mirepoix (1 chopped onion, 1 cup chopped celery, 1 cup thinly sliced carrots) ❏ 1 tsp garlic (or 1 frozen cube garlic) ❏1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomato (regular or fire roasted) ❏ 2 Tbsp tomato paste ❏ 2 cups chicken broth ❏ 1/4 cup dry white wine ❏1 (12 oz) jar pitted kalamata olives, drained Directions 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 2. Combine the flour, salt, pepper, and oregano. Coat the chicken pieces with this mixture. 3. Heat a pan with 1 Tbsp oil. Brown the chicken breasts on both sides, and then transfer the chicken breasts to a deep baking dish or casserole (I used a 9x13-inch pan), drizzled with 1 Tbsp oil. Sprinkling remaining flour mixture over the chicken breasts. 4. Add 1 Tbsp oil to the same pan and sauté the onions, celery, and carrots. Stir often and cook until the onion is soft, adding the garlic during the last few minutes. 5. Add the diced tomatoes (including juices), tomato paste, broth, wine, and olives. Stir well, and bring to a simmer for a few minutes. Pour this mixture over the chicken. 6. Cover tightly with a lid or with foil, and bake for up to two hours. The chicken will be cooked after the first 40 minutes, but Submitted by Shari Von Holten, mom of two, Wantagh, NY. Ingredients 2-3 lb brisket 3 cans of tomato soup Lipton Onion Soup Mix potatoes Directions 1. Put 1 can of tomato soup on the bottom of the pot 2. Put the brisket on top of the soup 3. Sprinkle onion soup mix on top of brisket 4. Layer another can of tomato soup on top (make sure brisket is covered with liquid at all times; if not add another can of tomato soup) 5. Cook on high for four hours 6. About an hour before you want to eat - peel and cut your potatoes. Place them in the pot. You know the meal is done with the brisket is soft. ■ Jeanne Muchnick TheDinnerMom.com Jeanne Muchnick has published hundreds of parenting and lifestyle articles for various publications and websites including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Woman’s Day, Parents, and Westchester Magazine. To see what she’s serving for dinner tonight, check out her website. projectyou l 23 yourCAREER By Jennifer Anthony Crafting the Perfect Resume So you’ve been in the ‘mom market’ for a while. No worries. Here’s how to get your (high-heeled) foot back in the door. If you have spent the past few years pretending to be an airplane to get your little ones to eat a spoonful of food, you’ll need to put that behind you — at least while you are revamping your resume. Do not attempt to make your resume stand out by using a cutesy font or placing teddy bear clipart in the corners. Likewise, check the e-mail address that you are using. Your friends may know you as “Mommyto5WildPonies,” but your future employer probably will not find it so endearing. If you don’t have a professional e-mail address, sign up for one at a free site such as Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail. 2 You Can’t Fool Anyone Every stay-at-home mom knows that mothering is the hardest job you will ever love. Moms wear many hats: chauffeur, nurse, psychologist, personal chef, housecleaner, financial planner, and the list goes on. Even though all of those descriptions are accurate, do not attempt to add any of these titles to your resume. Similarly, do not refer to yourself as a “Household Engineer,” because this will backfire and make you appear less desirable. The best way to address the fact that you’ve been on the mommy track is to write a one-line explanation directly in the resume, such as “Took time away from career path to raise a family.” You might also consider writing that you took time off to care for a dependent family member to avoid pegging yourself as a mom right away. 3 Don’t Sell Yourself Short While it’s not a good idea to elaborate upon the details of homemaking, don’t forget to mention any volunteer 24 l Be as specific as possible when updating your resume. work you have been involved in. Just because you didn’t receive paid compensation for your work doesn’t make the experience less valuable. When listing volunteer activities on a resume, list them the same way as you would a paid position. If you took any online courses, be sure to list your continuing education to demonstrate that your skills are fresh and not outdated. Did you organize any charity dinners, or were you active in your homeowner’s association? Leadership roles and any other activities you may have been doing to keep your skills marketable and up-to-date should be included as well. 4 You Can’t Be All Things To All People If you have been out of work for some time, you may be willing to take any job. However, don’t allow this energy to come through in your resume. Think about exactly what position you are applying for, and what skills you should highlight. Use words in your resume that relate specifically to the industry that you are hoping to enter and to the position you are applying to. Be as specific as possible. A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 5 Send a Killer Cover Letter A cover letter demonstrates that you understand common business etiquette. It is also another opportunity to shine. As with your resume, be specific. Include the name of the position you are applying for and where you saw the position advertised. Mention that you are returning to the field after a hiatus, and that you are eager to jump in to the working world again. Don’t be apologetic -- just state the facts. ■ Jennifer Anthony JenniferAnthony.Wordpress.com Jennifer Anthony has been creating interview-winning resumes since 1999 and in the process has become one of the most soughtafter resume writers in North America. She has authored more than 600 resumes for clients ranging from entry-level employees to high-level executives. ©istockphoto.com/mstahlphoto 1 Be Professional projectyou Partners ✽ Connect with Your Teens Through Pop Culture and Technology Connect with your Teens through Pop Culture and Technology helps parents keep up-to-date with pop culture and technology as a way of bonding with their teens, tweens or young adults. ✽ Motherhood Moment is a blog created by Bekah, who she shares tips on everything from saving money and time to meal ideas and free time activities. She is a work-at-home mother of 1-and 3-year-old daughters. Check out all the incredible partners who will be distributing Project You on their blogs and contributing to our magazine this year! Check out www.ProjectYouMagazine.com as more of our partners are featured! ✽ The Mom Jen is a former elementary school teacher who writes for The Mom Reviews, an online product review and giveaway site. She and her family love traveling around their home state of California reviewing hotels, restaurants, and family activities, parks and events. ✽ The Partybluprints Blog is a Real Girls’ resource for entertaining in style. Its mission is to bring you the latest news, hottest trends and most importantly, tips and ideas for entertaining in your home. Its mantra is “simple and special” – the rule for each and every post. ✽ Biz Mommy provides inspiration, educational resources, mentorship and support for women and moms who want to start their own home-based businesses. My goal is to serve as a motivating catalyst for women to make the move from self-doubt and procrastination to fearlessly creating a successful blog and online business that they love. ✽ TravelingMom.com is a survival guide for moms who travel. TravelingMom.com brings real life travel stories, tips and advice aimed at helping moms who travel achieve positive and smooth experiences whether they are adventuring with their families, staying at home, or traveling solo. ✽ The 24/7 Mom Heather is a 30-something year old SAHM to 4 crazy kiddos (11, 6, 3, 1). We live in Iowa with our 5 budgies and 2 lovebirds. When I’m not blogging, you’ll find me out at the soccer fields watching of the many practices or games we go to, reading, or digital scrapbooking! ✽ Tammy blogs at Three Different Directions. She and her family are really just a bunch of geeks, spending most of their time in front of their pcs playing WoW, blogging and just spending time together learning more about technology and themselves as they go along. She recently launched an entertainment blog, Play That Now, where she talks about DVDs, Video Games, Music and Gadgets. ✽ MamaBuzz Mel is a work at home, homeschooling mama and wife with 2 rambunctious boys who keep her days filled with lots of hugs, giggles, and a ton of mud & grass stains. She loves to write and loves everything having to do with home decor, the great outdoors, etc. She writes 2 blogs....MamaBuzz and Real Heart Prints. ✽ Sarah Peppel is a freelance writer, columnist, mom blogger (Genesis Moments & DIY Frugal), communications professor, speaker, actress and plain ole’ mom to her two growing teen girls. She is also president of womens ministries in her presbytery and president of the neighbor homeowner’s association. ✽ Rural Mom is about empowering moms with the right information and tools to enjoy country life to the fullest! On RuralMom.com, you will find exciting article on women’s topics, reviews, green living, freebies, and a whole lotta frugal... from the desk of Barb Webb, author, eco-farmer, and mom of three. ✽ Momma Young at Home is a blog dedicated to family life, crafts, recipes, reviews, giveaways and more! ✽ Freebie Spot is a place to get a little something for nothing. Find all the great deals on the web including freebies, coupons, and more all in one spot. You can also find some great giveaway and product reviews as well as personal posts about my crazy kids. ✽ Go Graham Go is a savvy parenting blog featuring products, tips, and fun ideas for parents. Come find the best bang for your buck and collaborate with other parents! ✽ The Mom Trap is a blog dedicated to capturing the moments of motherhood, from the toddler years to the college years and beyond. ✽ Mommy PR is a group of 5 women who have varied backgrounds in marketing, sales and management. MommyPR.com specializes in Online Marketing, Social Media, Product Reviews & Giveaways. ✽ Simply Being Mommy is a parenting blog written by Crystal Reagan, wife to one amazing man and mommy to three adorable children. She enjoys the finer things in life and is on a mission to find the most extraordinary products for you and your family. ✽ Dumb Mom is the brainiac behind the slightly-less-popularthan-it-rightfully-should humor and parenting blog, Parenting BY Dummies. She dicusses childhood, parenthood, and all the hoods in between as she partners with Dumb Dad in raising three sometimes-evilbut-shamefully-handsome boy geniuses. ✽ My name is Kimberly and at Pretty Pink Momma I enjoy sharing chic mom must haves and fab family finds. Product reviews and giveaways are offered weekly. I also blog about my three boys and my journey to become a healthier, happier me. ✽ At Just Precious, Julie Meyers Pron blogs about parenting and education from the perspective of the parent, the teacher and the PTO director. Readers love Just Precious for Julie’s positive spin and encouragement, her realistic look at all parts of education, and her entertaining parenting stories. The Ask the Teacher series allows parents to ask anything and receive frank, honest opinions on educational and parenting issues. ✽ Susan M. Heim, a parenting author and Chicken Soup for the Soul editor, shares her personal and professional thoughts and experiences on raising children in today’s world. Family-friendly product reviews and giveaways are often featured. ✽ Woman Tribune is a dailyupdated webspace for women that explores and discusses our Woman Wide World. It was founded with the mindset that no one has just one interest or one topic they like to read about and we strive to have a little something for everyone, regardless of their location or lifestyle. To become a Project You Partner, please email us at ProjectYouMagazine@gmail.com. yourHOME By Jenn Fadal Thinking of getting a pet this holiday season? Read this A re you making your holiday list and checking it twice? Have your precious little ones been naughty or nice? In addition to the hottest toys on the market, does someone special have their hopes set on finding a snuggly puppy under the tree? Deciding to bring a pet into the family is exciting, and if approached in the right way can give your family years of happiness. Not to mention teach your children a sense of responsibility, compassion, empathy, friendship and patience. All wonderful life lessons. If you are seriously considering adding a furry member to your family this holiday season, there’s a lot to consider. Puppies, kittens, dogs and cats are definitely one holiday item that should be discussed, pros and cons weighed and the entire family should have a good idea of the responsibilities that come with pet ownership. Most importantly, you need to consider the ages and maturity levels of your kids, your time commitments (as depending on the ages of your kids you may be doing more than you want) and how realistic this purchase fits into your entire family’s lifestyle. Once you have determined the above, it’s time to choose which breed is right for your family. When your baby is an infant, he or she will have little interaction with the dog. Toddlers however become very interested in the family pet and usually like to chase, grab, pull and tug…not fully understanding “leave the dog alone” or 26 l “Fido doesn’t like it when you pull his tail while he’s eating.” If you have young children under the age of five, opt for a dog that hasn’t been bred to guard nor has a history of aggressive behaviors. Although high energy dogs may be fun, they will also require more of your time, exercised often and kept busy. A lower energy breed choice would be an English Bulldog. They are known to form strong bonds with children and need limited exercise and grooming. Greyhounds are an interesting choice as they also form strong family ties. And though they need daily exercise, are surprisingly known as the world’s fastest couch potato. If you are in the midst of raising babies then an eight-week old puppy may not be the right answer for you. Instead, consider adopting a dog with a few years under his belt that is potty trained and knows his basic commands. When children reach the age of seven or eight, they are usually ready to connect with a pet and learn to feed, bathe and take on a few responsibilities. With that being said, some breeds are more child friendly than others. Labs, which the most popular breed in the country according to the American Kennel Club, are very kid friendly and make great family dogs. They work well with active families who make time exercise them and include them in family activities. Many families have German Shepherds and find them to be very loyal companions who are loving with their children. They also feel safe by their protective nature. Beagles are usually happy go lucky, friendly and great with kids. They will need to always be on a leash however or in a fenced yard as they are the typical hound and truly led by their nose. A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 Many breeds will make wonderful family dogs if you do the following: Research, train your dog to be obedient, teach your children proper manners around pets and be consistent. By following the above, almost any dog will work with any family. Visit the akc.org to find out information on all registered breeds and determine which is right for you, your lifestyle and your family. And remember, adopting a pet is something to be seriously considered. ■ Jenn Fadal www.JennFadal.com Jenn Fadal is the founder of Wag, a Pet Health & Lifestyle Boutique in Tampa, FL. Through this company she has worked directly with clients to provide their family canine or feline with the very best in health, wellness, lifestyle and training. She is pictured here with Abe, her big brown lab mix. ©istockphoto.com/hannamariah; ©istockphoto.com/jclegg Getting the perfect gifts for your kids can be “ruff;” it could also be “dog-gone” fun (puns intended) life LESSONS By Cat Greenleaf Start LUST-ing How’s that for a headline grabber? Want to know more? Read on. ©istockphoto.com/asiseeit; ©istockphoto.com/dsgpro M y name is Cat Greenleaf, and I’m a hardcore Blackberry addict. Oh don’t judge – we all live in this glass house! Here’s when I hit rock bottom: I emerged from the subway at Smith & Bergen Streets in Brooklyn one winter evening to find the coolest looking building standing across the street. “Is that new? When did they put that up? Why have I never noticed it before?” At that moment, I realized I’d never seen the building because I’m always frantically waiting to restore my signal when I get out of the train. “Who texted me? Do I have any messages? What did I miss?” That building on Smith Street has been there over a hundred years. Living in the moment is getting harder and harder because we’re all so distracted by what’s going on in the tiny screens in our hands. The lives we’re living take place on a miniscule monitor, and the life we’re missing out on is wonder, experience, contemplation, true connection. This is why I started LUST. It’s not porn, it’s an acronym: Look Up Stop Texting. The LUSTy mission is to remind us all to put down our PDAs more than we do, and live in the actual world instead of in the virtual one. LUST isn’t saying we should NEVER text - just that adding a measure of control can add so much to our experience of being alive. On our website, we’re selling nameplate necklaces, t-shirts, onesies, notebooks and PDA covers, all of which remind us to live in the real world. We’re also forming a community – asking people to share what they see when they Look Up & Stop Texting, and how they manage to Put It Down. Some recent thoughts include: “The tippy tops of trees and plants emerging from someone’s amazing roof garden; The person I almost bumped into; An Amazing full moon; My beautiful family surrounding me enjoying life, laughing and learning with twinkles in their eyes!” I’d love to hear what YOU see….please log on and weigh in: www.LustBklyn.com. Beside my job on TV and my love/ hate relationship with my Blackberry, I’m also a new mom. Sometimes I check my text messages before checking on my son. Am I guilty? You have no idea. Or maybe, you do… ■ Cat Greenleaf www.LustBklyn.com Cat is the host of NBC’s Talk Stoop with Cat Greenleaf, where she interviews celebs and newsmakers right on the front steps of her Brooklyn home. Go to www.CatGreenleaf. com for who’s next on her stoop. projectyou l 27 babyTALK By Jennie Baird and Lauren Wattenberg 9 Most Talked-About Celebrity Baby Names of 2010 R emember when “Apple” was considered a crazy celebrity baby name? Six years later, it sounds almost quaint. American baby names get more creative all the time, and Hollywood has led the charge with a flood of eye-catching names. Some of the celebrity choices are stylish, some push the envelope, and some may make you shake your head in wonder, but they all get us talking. Here is NameCandy.com’s list of the names that generated the most chatter this year. Big & Rich is a father who clearly loves puns. (He’s Rich, the other guy’s big, get it?) In that spirit, he named his newborn son Cash. Yes, Cash Rich. celebrity moms reached into the past for a Saint’s name that has never ranked on any U.S. popularity charts. Claudia Schiffer and Sofia Coppola both welcomed baby Cosimas. Draco Danica McKellar, who gained Sundance File under Things That fame playing Winnie Cooper on The Won- Make You Go Huh? Olympic volleyball der Years, is now the player Kerri Walsh named author of an acclaimed her baby boy Sundance, a Special Offer for series of math books for unique baby name choice Project You Readers under any circumstance. girls...and mom to baby 10% off Baby Name Draco. But what really had us Wizard Expert Subscripscratching our heads was tions. Just Use Coupon that Sundance was such a Harper A few years Code PY1210 when stylistic departure from the ago Laura Wattenberg of you sign up: www. name Walsh had given her BabyNameWizard.com BabyNameWizard.com/ older son – Joseph Michael. called Harper a “nearlysignup/term Walsh later explained that perfect” name. It’s the feher husband was a huge male equivalent of Sawfan of Butch Cassidy and yer, a tradesman name with literary flair. Neil the Sundance Kid, hence the name. Patrick Harris and Tiffani Thiessen both chose Harper for their daughters this year. Billie Beatrice A gorgeous couple chooses a gorgeous baby name. Name Enthusiasts loved this choice of name by Eric Dane and Rebecca Gayheart. Billie’s a southern-infused jazz-age charmer, while middle name Beatrice lends formality. Cosima Creative doesn’t have to mean new. Like Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner with Seraphina, two of this year’s new 28 l Buddy Bear Well, it’s not Butch! Buddy Bear Maurice Oliver joined older siblings Poppy Daisy Honey, Petal Blossom Rainbow and Daisy Boo Pamela. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver indicates the baby naming genius in his family is wife Jools. Egypt Place names are the rage and this year saw new celebrity babies named London, Dakota, India and Hudson. But Alicia Keys’ baby boy Egypt was the baby A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 place name that drew the most attention. Opinion was split on this name. Amadeus OK, we admit it. Almost no one talked about this name this year. But honestly, why not? If Amadeus Benedict Edley Luis Becker isn’t worth some chatter, we don’t know what is. Amadeus takes your artistic namesake names (think Beckett and Harper) to new heights. And we loved the commenter who noted that the child could just go by his initials and be known as Abel. Well done, Boris Becker! ■ Jennie Baird & Lauren Wattenberg www.NameCandy.com Jennie Baird and Laura Wattenberg are the creators of NameCandy.com and BabyNameWizard. com. NameCandy lets you “indulge your taste in names” with celebrity name news, the Ask the Name Lady advice column and more, while BabyNameWizard.com is the authoritative source for tools and analysis to help you find the perfect name. ©istockphoto.com/jfirone Cash John Rich of country music duo sane fitness ™ you crazy Workouts that won’t drive Workouts that won’t drive you crazy A new fitness card set takes the guesswork out of working out. 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She attended Florida State University as an undergraduate and received her MBA from Indiana University School of Business. www.plainwhitepress.com John Cruz, fitness expert, is a personal trainer with the elite Equinox fitness club in New York www.plainwhitepress.com and holds many national training certifications. mommyBLOGS By Beth Feldman Using Passion to Build a Brand A Q & A with top mom blogger Mommy Niri Editor’s Note: In the spirit of being all about YOU, we will be highlighting various mom bloggers that inspire us. Nirasha Jaganath, aka Mommy Niri (www. MommyNiri.com) is a work-at-home mom who started blogging less than three years ago and today is one of the most sought after parenting writers in New England. How did she get there? And what can you learn from her? Read on. Beth: Tell us how you your blogging ca- reer began. Niri: I was a software engineer for many years and after I had my child I went back to work and felt I was not doing either job well. I left the job and it was very scary not working and just being home. I had never read blogs before, but when I wanted a new flip camera my husband suggested I start writing a blog so I tried. I wrote a post and was shocked so many people read it! I haven’t caught my breath since. 30 l Beth: What I love about your blog is that you really listen to your readers. You interact in real time with them. What is your favorite part about blogging? Niri: I write for myself and for my readers. I use all different avenues – Facebook and Twitter. I know how hard it is to take the Niri volunteers at a lower income school in Boston as a project leader at Boston Cares. A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 time to read something so I am honored when someone takes time. Whether it’s a positive or negative comment it’s still precious time and I appreciate that and take it seriously. Beth: How long have you been blog- ging and what are you most passionate about? Niri: I started in 2008, but began serious blogging in 2009. It’s been a short but adventurous ride. I’m most passionate when I mix social media and blogging with a physical offline presence such as packing backpacks for hungry children in L.A., building a new playground or getting teachers new school supplies. I support certain brands but prefer it to help support a cause. That is the closest to my heart. Beth: I remember you telling me about growing up in South Africa and now you’ve built a life here that you love. Niri: I grew up in a time of apartheid, it was the law. It was highly segregated, I had to go to a certain school, beach, restaurants, and when I was 12 years old my town was burned to the ground. But I was also lucky enough to vote in the first general election, I remember waiting on line for six hours. Those experiences have made me appreciate the important things in life that matter, not the material things. Beth: As we get into the holidays are you traveling a lot? Niri: I recently started to turn down a few speaking opportunities, it was just too much traveling. I realized other people could benefit from the opportunity. It’s a passion and I want to love what I do, not feel like it’s a job. If I wanted a job I would go back to engineering. I want to make my own impact on the world. For a year I spent a long time investing my time going to events, really getting to know everyone, networking and building strong relationships. Beth: Connecting offline is important to do with bloggers. How has your life impacted what you do? Niri: With everything, even when bad things that happen to you, you can pull something good out of it. When my daughter was diagnosed with autism I thought: this is unreal but now I feel different. Now I feel empowered to help other people. I am in a privileged position to share what I’ve Niri’s wedding reception. learned, even if I can help one person it is an amazing thing. Beth: The pay it forward approach. My husband is always looking at the business side asking “Are you making any money?” Yeah but it’s also about helping others, making a connection for someone to do that, help someone make it worthwhile. As women that’s what we care more about, but as my husband would say – you can’t pay the mortgage with that. Niri: Your husband sounds like my husband. He keeps asking if we’re going to be making money with this soon and I keep telling him not to hold his breath. It has to be a passion. I want to do something that makes me feel alive. Beth: But you get fulfillment, right? Niri: The joy you get from helping people up, when they look to you for advice… that’s much more rewarding. Beth: It’s also a competitive environ- ment… you have to find your like-minded souls. Because unfortunately there’s a lot of resentment among women. What advice can you give women out there? Niri: Hard work and being good does make a difference. If there is too much ugliness out there, stay away from it. Everything you do, there is a price attached. Just remember there is a permanent record. Whatever At the Today’s Mom book launch where Sarah Ferguson was a guest. people tweet and say mean things, do you really want that legacy left behind? Beth: Never put it in writing if you’re angry, it sticks! Surround yourself with positive people. Niri: You said it! Be around people who pick you up. Beth: I am so thrilled to have met you and become your friend. Now tell us what’s in store for you. What is on the Mommy Niri site? Niri: Something I am working on… I am not doing a Holiday Gift Guide this year… instead I am trying to make a difference at a local woman’s shelter. It’s called “Mommy Niri Cares 2010 - A holiday charity drive powered by Social Media.” I will be supporting an organization called Room To Grow which helps parents raising children born in poverty in various ways. By helping the companies promote their products I am hoping they will donate supplies to the shelter to make a difference in these woman’s lives. By getting these woman what they need hopefully they can feel more confident to go out and try to get jobs. I’m also trying to compile some posts with advice about events and also write more about parenting. Focus more about what I really love. To find out more about Niri, visit her at www.MommyNiri.com. ■ projectyou l 31 your FINANCES By Kelly Whalen Giving on a budget W Prioritizing and planning will help you stay on track e women tend to want everything to be perfect for the holidays. We imagine planning the perfect meal, finding the perfect gift for everyone on our list, all the while maintaining perfectly coiffed hair and an impeccable holiday outfit. Don’t forget our little angels who are dressed in their holiday best with nary a stain or a tear among them. Reality, on the other hand, is usually very different. In current economic times we may find our budgets dramatically cut. While it may seem impossible to have a happy holiday without all the trimmings and trappings, we can if we focus on what’s important. Take a few minutes and relax. Think about the one thing that brings you true joy over the holiday. It could be sleeping late or spending an evening with relatives you rarely see. Treasure that moment, that feeling. And when things inevitably go wrong at some point, focus on what is most important to you. While you may not have the perfect gift in mind for family and friends, jot down a few ideas. A list will also enable you to create a realistic budget. Lists aren’t just for gifts, though; make a list of everything you want to do. It will definitely help you realize if your schedule is overbooked or if you can squeeze in a few hours to donate to a local shelter. Prioritize. We may want to host a festive dinner, hand select gifts for the entire family, and bake dozens of cookies, but life (or sleep) may get in the way. After you make your list, go back and prioritize. Then when life inevitably happens, you won’t feel quite so bad cutting a few to-dos from your list. A budget is your friend. We all hate the “b” word, but it’s absolutely necessary if you don’t want to be paying for 32 l your holiday well into the new year. Using your list, and knowing what you have in the bank to spend is the most important gift you can give yourself. No matter the size of your budget, you can have an amazing holiday; it just takes a bit of planning and creativity. Whatever your budget, make some room to pamper yourself, even if it’s just a tin of your favorite holiday tea. Gifts don’t have to be expensive. You can trim the gift list and set a budget, but you don’t have to spend every penny. Grandparents and extended family usually don’t need more “stuff.” Some great ideas for inexpensive gifts include: ● Photo gifts: Consider photos turned into calendars, mugs, and more. Kids’ artwork: Turn your little Picasso’s artwork into a shirt, mug or even a canvas. ● Coupon books: These are great for your spouse, or even relatives who need extra help A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 (i.e. babysitting, rides, home cooked meals.) ● Handmade crafts: While it may not be the perfect scarf or bar of soap, if it’s made by your hands, everyone is sure to love the effort you made. ■ Kelly Whalen TheCentSibleLife.com Kelly Whalen is the owner and writer of the blog The ¢entsible Life. The mom of four (two boys and two girls) uses her 13 years experience as a stay-athome mom to help her readers find products and solutions to balance their household budgets. Kelly and her blog have been featured in publications such as USA Today and Money magazine. She resides in Chester County, PA. ©istockphoto.com/edoneil Make a list, and check it twice! Handmade crafts such as homemade soap always makes a great gift. ©istockphoto.com/fcafotodigita Why I Don’t Send Holiday Cards I Call me Scrooge if you want, but I find this season of sending way too overwhelming ’m convinced that an aversion to sending out holiday cards started with my wedding (stay with me here). We had 300 partygoers for our blowout celebration at a synagogue that reminded me of the cathedral in The Sound of Music. We jetted off for a three-week romantic honeymoon in Italy and returned to start our lives together as a married couple—with shared responsibilities, combined checking accounts and thoughts of babies dancing in my head. Instead of being carried over the threshold, I dragged my steamer trunk back into our gift wrap strewn apartment and was jolted from my jet lag-induced haze with the realization that I would be the one writing all 300 thank-you notes. At first, I worked hard to be gracious to our friends, loved ones and perfect strangers. “Thank you for your generous gift. We were so happy you could share our special day with us. We’ll think of you every time we ladle gravy.” But after about 30 cards, my hand started hurting and I stopped. Forever. By Beth Feldman projectyou l 33 When my kids were born, I gave it another try. “Thanks for the pink satin onesie. It is soooooooooo cute!” Again, after about 20 thank-yous, I gave up and moved on to something more productive, like figuring out how to operate the TV remote while breast-feeding. Once in a while, I’d get a message from someone who had sent a gift but never got a thank-you, but mostly people seemed to get used to the idea that I was just that kind of person that doesn’t send thank you’s. “Did you get my present? I hadn’t heard from you so I was hoping you received it.” Yes. I got it. I’m just too damn lazy to send a card back to thank you, but now that you’re calling, thanks for the gift. I always wanted a bottle warmer and lansinoh nipple cream. The Tide of Joy Rises The expectation of a thank-you card for a gift given is understandable, but as my kids got older, we started to receive holiday cards and an implied expectation of one in return. I dreaded them: Greetings from the Ignazios! Love and kisses from the Kleins! Shalom from the Lichtensteins! Missing from this illustrious bunch? You guessed it, a happy-go-lucky photo and annual update from the Feldmans. At first we figured that since we were Jewish no one would expect a card anyway. It always seemed a little weird to me to gather round and strike a pose in the name of Judaism, so we shrugged it off and left that to the Kleins. But the cards kept on coming. They started to increase in their intensity and in their diversity. New HaOW from the Changs. Happy Kwanzaa from the Robinsons! Meow-y Christmas from Archie! (my girlfriend’s cat). Just because everybody does it, do the Feldman’s have to dress for winter in August so the Lichtensteins have something to put on their refrigerator? As my kids got older and stared seeing not only the avalanche of cards coming in the mailbox, but the array of artfully displayed cards on our friend’s fridges, they got in on the act (read; started hounding me). “Mommy, why don’t we have holiday cards with our photo on it?” “Because, we don’t celebrate Christmas, sweetie.” “But the Goldbergs don’t celebrate Christmas either and they sent us a photo of their family around their Hannukah bush. Why can’t we do that?” “Because we don’t have a bush. We have a menorah and, oh, we just don’t do it because we’re taking a stand and saving trees.” “Well, we should take a photo and send out holiday cards, Mom. Everybody else does it.” Just because everybody does it, do the Feldman’s have to dress for winter in August so the Lichtensteins have something to put on their refrigerator? Am I going to have to be the one who compiles the mailing list and figures out how to merge the addresses onto labels and then stands in line at the post office with all the other holiday card-senders so I can buy the justright holiday stamps? No way! I have earned my reputation as the one who never sends thank-you cards, so no one’s going to expect a holiday card from me. And yes, if Emily Post were alive, she’d keel over to learn that I didn’t send out birth announcements for a single one of my children and I haven’t thanked anyone for a birthday or anniversary gift since the original wedding fiasco. I think I’ve broken every etiquette rule in the book involving thank-you and holiday correspondence. I’ve narrowly squeaked by over the last decade offering excuse after excuse about why I never send thank-you and holiday cards, but it appears that technology has gotten the best of me. I can actually take a picture, send it to a website and then email it out to my nearest and dearest friends, as well as to my long-forgotten high school buddies and my husband’s completely unfamiliar clients. Maybe now that it’s so easy, I might actually sift through all the photos I’ve uploaded to my computer but have never printed and finally create an unforgettable Feldman holiday card. Thank you, but I don’t think so. ■ Greetings I Can Do Without I hate to sound grumpy, but know I speak for many people who love to hear from family and friends at the holidays in the good old-fashioned way-a card, a picture, a (brief ) handwritten message of cheer. The following are things I’d like to mark “Return to Sender.” The Year in (Excruciatingly Detailed) Review. I enjoy knowing what your family is doing but not a play-by-play of every alleged milestone. If your letter is more than one page, you’ll lose me by Cesar Chavez Day. Baby’s 12th Christmas. I am sucker for those “Baby’s First Christmas” cards, but the photo-cards of your post-pubescent kids dressed like toddlers and sitting in Santa’s lap are creepy. 34 l A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 Holiday Greetings from Maui. Don’t rub it in my face that you had an amazing summer vacation in Hawaii. Mention instead that you put on 10 pounds after all those Hawaiian pig roasts and I’ll admire you all year. And you are...? I refuse to waste a kitchen magnet hanging up a holiday photo card of a family I don’t know. If you don’t know me or my kids, the save yourself a stamp. Pet Peeve. No Duds for Dino. The Buddhists believe that all beings, including animals, come back in another life and pay for the misdeeds done in this one. I think you should keep that in mind when you dress up your dog as Kris Kringle and sign “his” card “Greetings from Santa Paws.” By Jeanne Muchnick The South Pole A ‘hot’ lesson in leaning, sliding and grinding from a pole dancing class. Y ou know you’ve entered a completely different world of exercise when you’re asked to think of a “stage name” before class begins. I’m at a Body Embrace pole dancing party, dressed in yoga attire and feeling a bit hard-pressed to think of an answer. But the dim lights, the pulsating music, female camaraderie and the sexy get ups my fellow dancers are wearing (ok, they’re the instructors but still) make me think I can be as sultry as J.Lo for the night so I sputter out J. Mo. Sort of a mix of Jeanne and Muchnick in a forty-somethingmom-rap-kind of way. “J.MOOOO” the girls shout out enthusiastically as I take to the pole for my first “Walk,” a beginner’s entry to this “hot” (and I use the word literally) work out. projectyou l 35 Above, I take to the pole with my best “Come hither” sexy look. Tina Oppedisano, my instructor for the evening, shows me how it’s REALLLY done (below). If this mom of three weren’t so sweet, I might have to hate her for her killer body, which she credits to a lot of pole dancing. 36 l A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 I stand on my tippy toes (I didn’t know I should have worn heels), swing my hips and shoot for my best “sexy” look as I follow my instructor, Tina Oppedisano (aka “Storm”) around the pole, basically a tease for what’s to come. You’re supposed to place one hand on the pole as you move your hips and use the other hand to touch your body starting at your wild mane of hair (no pony tails allowed!), around your breasts to the curves of your hips (and yes, ladies, I have curves) while dragging your toe behind you in a seductive walk. My girlfriends are clapping and laughing and of course, sipping big glasses of red wine. We are embracing our inner divas—feather boas and all—and it’s such a hoot that despite my initial hesitation I’m actually feeling like my pre-kids, prebulging stomach, pre-wrinkled self. “It’s all about releasing your inner you,” explains Tina, a mom of three who hosts pole dancing parties along with her friend/neighbor/fellow mom of three Erica Mollin (aka “Mia). Both women, clad in skin-tight black shorts, high silvery heels, bustier boosting shirts and leggings, admit that pole dancing is not only a tough workout, but a great way to gain confidence and accept your sexuality. “I love that this makes me feel seductive,” says Tina, who I’ve seen in jeans and a tshirt before but never like this. “It’s a way to bring out something in yourself that’s no doubt been dormant for a long time.” Not to mention, spice up your love life (more about that in a minute). The truth is, I hate exercising. I know I need to do it to stay healthy; my only problem is that I’m easily bored on the stationary bike or doing downward dogs at yoga. I like Zumba, but even that gets to be the “same old, same old” after a while. And so, with a push from my friend Beth (yes, Beth Feldman, founder of ProjectYou Magazine aka Tweetie), I opted for a night of pole dancing. The only caveat: She had to come with me, as did our Art Director Katie Schlientz (aka “Duchess Half Moon”). Needless to say, wine also had to be served (though warning: don’t drink too much or you’ll find yourself getting a headache spinning around the pole later). Tina and Erica do all kinds of parties for 30th, 40th and 50th birthdays as well as bachlorette bashes and other events. “You’d be surprised how many women are into it,” says Erica. And in fact, I was amazed how many of my friends wanted to join me when I mentioned (often in a hushed whisper) that I was going to a pole party. Apparently (I did my google search) pole dancing is growing in popularity as well as acceptance, thanks in part to actress Sheila Kelley who started The SFactor chain of pole dancing studios. More and more people are attending classes at health clubs and gyms and enjoy the mixture of graceful dance steps and gymnastics stunts. Using the pole—which for a home party can be transported anywhere to any room —requires a combination of ballet, yoga, grace, as well as significant strength, flexibility and endurance. The well defined arms, legs and butt on Tina and Erica made me a believer, though truth be told I did feel a little out of shape/intimidated next to them. First piece of advice: Wear shorts (your legs need the friction to hug the pole better) and heels. Though heels help you work your muscles harder, they also add to the sensuality component and are key to setting “the mood.” Women being women, I liked how Tina continually emphasized to our group (which also included her mom aka “Satin” and another neighbor friend Stacey, aka “Ecstasy”) that it doesn’t matter what kind of shape you’re in. It’s all about falling in love with your body again; to be happy with yourself, no matter what size, shape or weight. And it was true: Without any mirrors in Tina’s living room to judge me and with the support of my friends’ constant clapping and laughing, I moved through the next series of steps including the Open Hip Dip (one hand behind you as you glide down the pole with legs open), Closed Hip Dip (keeping both legs tight together while you basically bump up against the pole while holding one hand up high), the Pole Grind (self explanatory I think), and The Flip, (where you go slide down the pole and then crawl away cat like and do a big flip with your head, tossing your hair, then slowly rise, always with butt up). Beth Feldman, aka “Tweetie” works on her Flip. It’s all about falling in love with your body again; to be happy with yourself, no matter what size, shape or weight. projectyou l 37 Beth tries to follow Tina’s moves as she sashays around the pole. The feather boa helps get her in the spirit. Below: Erica Mollin shows off one of her sexy looks as she slides down the pole. She also did some lap dancing for us but that’s fodder for another story. 38 l A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 My upper thighs burned as I did hip circles around the pole and followed Tina as she demonstrated more challenging moves. In fact, the more I flaunted my assets, the less I thought about what I was doing wrong and instead thought about what I was doing right. It felt good to arch my back, tilt my head, puff my chest and do a hip swirl around the pole, all with a coy look to the “audience.” I liked my friends asking for my “sexy” pose since I don’t know that I ever had one. And though I wasn’t so great at touching myself seductively as I twirled around the pole the way Erica did, I did lose some of my inhibitions. “Love the pole,” Erica shouted. “Butt up!” Tina encouraged. And the more they said it and the more we gals cheered each other on, the more I realized this wasn’t about my love handles or sagging breasts but about us girls of a certain age celebrating our inner beauty, strength and power. You feel sensual on the pole. Flirty. And definitely free. Then there’s that added benefit of the bedroom. Tina says her husband likes the spiciness and variety of what she’s learning (not to mention her ultra-sexy pole dancing outfits) while Erica says she feels a lot more in control with her boyfriend. “This puts you in a different mindset,” she says. She admits there was a time when she was often too tired with the kids and dinner and life in general to think of pleasing her now ex-husband. “Now,” however, says the aesthetician by trade, “It’s all about me and knowing I have the power.” Certainly the benefits add up though for me, it’s definitely the “girl power” connection that inspired me the most. I might have felt like an out-of-shape blob walking in – the kind of girl who is most comfortable in Target sweat pants and a ratty t-shirt, but walking out, I was ready to buy the mile-high shoes Tina and Erica had, along with the short shorts and perhaps some lacy underwear. As Stacey said at the end of the night, “This is more fun than a book club.” For information on Body Embrace pole dancing parties in the New York area, visit LivingHealthyOnTheGo.com. ■ Get your beautiful body back and love what the mirror says back to you!! Proven Medical Weight Loss! HCG plus Homeopathic HCG drops with a cookbook to help you love eating healthy!! You can lose up to a pound a day and keep it off!! e Enter CodT C PROJE YOU for $25 off! 877-sobethin (762-3844) www.SoBeThin.com to place order now! HCG is sweeping America with its amazing results!! Sticking to your weight resolutions the Wii-way By Julie Maloney If I can do it, so can you—promise! This is where the revolution begins. If you’re always thinking about your weight (as I am), you need to be proactive. You can’t give in to the season. And you can’t fall back into that same old routine. You know what I’m talking about. We start off with a taste of Halloween, then we can’t help but eat as we bake for Thanksgiving. Then we eat what we baked for Thanksgiving and live off what we baked until Christmas where we bake an entirely new set of foods so awesome it leads us right into the New Year where we all fall flat on to our heavier butts and say “Oh my gosh (or insert a stronger expletive here), what have I done?” Which is why I say let’s unite together. Let this year be our new year’s resolution to ourselves. I know you can do it because I did it -- losing 100 pounds on the Wii last year and launching WiiMom in the interim (true?). “New Year, New You” was the first slogan I ever used. I went from a size TK to a size six (don’t hate me) but honestly, I don’t take a date of my size-size for granted and I continue to work hard to stay at my current weight. What keeps me in check? All of you. I know all eyes are on me and even if they’re not, I pretend they are. I LOVE this time of year. I also refuse to deprive myself so this is what I’m going to do to enjoy it. Portion control and working out. *GASP!* That’s how I lost it all to begin with. Duh. Eat what you want. Just eat less of it more often. No joke. Take a plate. Your normal plate. Fill it up like you would and cut half of it off. Eat it for lunch. Eat 40 l A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 Move over Jane Fonda! Wii Mommies founder Julie Maloney now motivates thousands after losing over 100 pounds with the help of Wii video games. ©istockphoto.com/flyfloor Okay, people. the other half for dinner. Between those meals, munch on something light. Have a yogurt or carrots. You have to have dessert. Come on. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself over-indulging then punishing yourself after. Be realistic. One cookie will not satisfy you but five is too many. You can have three cookies. If you usually eat ten, three is a pretty substantial difference. People even have suggested using a smaller plate but I don’t agree with that. I always use the same plate so why go a different way? You’re going to feed your family on the same plates you used and you’ll dump yours on there by force of habit. If you use a smaller plate (don’t yell at me, this works for some but I’m not some - I’m me), you’re still filling it so if you go back to a regular one, you’re going to fill that. You need to get into the habit of putting less on there. For some, half is way too much to start with. You’ll starve. Take 1/3 off. I think the key is to fill it. You need to see what you eat then remove it because what you’ll notice over time is that you’ll want (need - so we say) less and less and then you won’t need to put half anywhere, there won’t be a half left. That’s about all I have to offer when it comes to diets. As far as Virtual Fitness remember - you don’t have to even leave your house. You have NO EXCUSE. In the time it’d take to get to Here’s a list of the top five hottest Virtual Fitness products: EA SPORTS Active 2 is now in development with a new suite of fitness programs launching this fall (meaning Fall ’10?) It will ship with the Total Body Tracking system that combines a heart rate monitor and motion tracking data to ensure an accurate workout with measurable results. Using heart rate data that is displayed constantly on-screen, users will be able to capture the intensity of their workout, allowing them to optimize their performance and reach their fitness goals more quickly. Wireless motion tracking data will provide complete freedom of motion for a deeper workout experience. Additionally, users will now be able to track and share both their workout and heart rate data on the new EA SPORTS Active 2 online hub. EA SPORTS Active 2 will make working out simple, effective and will go with you wherever you are. EA SPORTS Active NFL Training Camp for the Wii New to the EA SPORTS Active suite of interactive fitness programs, EA SPORTS Active NFL Training Camp for the Wii, a football-based training program, will put users right into the football drills and conditioning workouts of an NFL training camp. Developed in collaboration with NFL strength and conditioning coaches, users will experience the thrill of competition while challenging friends and family in authentic NFL football drills. projectyou l 41 and from a gym your workout is done. In the time it’d take for you to beat yourself up about getting off the couch, you could have blasted out a quick twenty minute preset workout with EA SPORTS Active 2. It’s not as hard as you think. Don’t buy a product you’ll dread using. The world of virtual fitness has opened up to so many choices, you can easily find what will work for you and enjoy this holiday season. I promise you’ll either manage to lose or at least keep at your current weight so when January rolls around you can keep up the pattern you started and – GASP again! You might actually fit into that summer swimwear you thought you’d have to work double-time to get into. Trust me, if I did it so can you. I’m obviously a big Wii believer. ■ Julie Maloney MomSpective.com Founder of the website Momspective and The Wii Mommies community, an online virtual fitness support community designed for people who want to get fit using the Nintendo Wii gaming system. Zumba Fitness is an exercise The Biggest Loser Challenge is an exhilarating interactive health and fitness video game that allows players to experience grueling workouts, competitive challenges, the thrill of winning a weigh-in, and making an easy, healthy meal. In the new game, players can create their own avatar and watch as their body transforms both on and off the screen as they workout in four environments featured from the TV show, including “The Biggest Loser” Ranch and “The Biggest Loser” Gym. Players can work out with a friend in four, eight or 12week programs that can be customized for any part of your body. 42 l Jillian Michaels: Fitness Ultimatum 2011 is the only video game with workouts designed and endorsed by Jillian Michaels, exclusively for the Wii. Players can use a wide assortment of exercises to work out each muscle of the body. Designed for all fitness levels, Jillian Michaels: Fitness Ultimatum 2011 allows players to monitor their fitness goals with Fitness Ultimatum’s resolution-based tracking system, and a brand new High Intensity workout mode offers the most challenging workouts in the series. A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 game and program for Wii that taps into the Zumba dance-exercise craze that has swept the nation. Surprisingly challenging, and addictively fun, the 30 heart-pounding Zumba routines that make up Zumba Fitness utilize the motion sensing capabilities of the Wii Remote or Wii Remote Plus controller which work along with the exclusive Wii Remote belt, included with the game, to create a fun but result-producing workout. Additional features include: fourplayer support, including a two-on-two coop option; multiple skill levels along with a training level; multiple in-game instructors and venues. Yes, your family drives your crazy this time of year— as do your in-laws, your co-workers and even your kids—but stop for a second to reflect on the ‘wonderful’ chaos Memories of Holidays Past By Jeanne Muchnick ©istockphoto.com/louoates Above: Jeanne with her mom and sister at a Chanukah celebration circa 1993. Y ou know it’s not going to be a good holiday when you start tearing up in the canned food aisle. That’s where I found myself, the first Thanksgiving after my mom’s death, on a hunt to recreate everything she used to make. She was “famous” for her green bean casserole, despite the fact that I’m pretty sure the recipe was one she got from the can of French’s brand Original French Fried Onions. Still, I was determined to bring her back by reliving all the smells and aromas and rituals she went through, even though it meant standing in the aisle of Food Emporium listening to the sounds of other shoppers talking about their family plans and complaining – yes, complaining!!! -- about how many family members they had to cook for. I remember those conversations I used to have with my sister. Which parent was more annoying about making us keep our napkins on our laps and demanding we not answer the phone during dinner, how our Dad liked his mashed projectyou l 43 Left: Jeanne with her dad, Beryl, and daughter Sydney Rosen at their Larchmont, NY home. At 12, Sydney would give one of the eulogies for her “Gramps.” potatoes with no lumps and so plain the rest of us would be pouring salt and pepper on ours ad infinitum, how Mom insisted on “experimenting” with new recipes, even on a day when all we wanted was tradition. Now, I’d do anything for those petty arguments and discussions. If I could be granted one wish, it would be to see my parents seated at my holiday table, be it Thanksgiving (for the green beans), Chanukah (for the latkes) or New Year’s Eve (for the oversized shrimp cocktails), sitting with my children, laughing, sharing, asking stupid questions and raising their voices when the din of conversation got too loud or when a grandchild (heaven forbid) started texting. But sadly, both my parents are gone – my mom from breast cancer 14 years ago, my dad from complications from Alzheimer’s three years ago -- meaning my kids were never blessed with those long three-generation family meals. Mom never got to see the texting generation and Dad – though he saw it – had no idea what was going on. And though I got past that first holiday meal without them (at different times at different tables), the fact that I’m officially a “midlife orphan” who doesn’t have a parent sitting at the head of the table to lean on is a hole that never completely closes. What was once a crater so big and pain44 l ful gets smaller each year though the wound never fully closes (nor would I want it too). What makes me most sad is knowing my daughters won’t really know Adele and Beryl Muchnick the way they know their paternal grandparents. Instead, I share pictures and try to remember all those stories I used to complain about hearing 10,000 times but now can barely keep straight. “How long did Gramps and Grandma Dell date before they got married?” my kids will ask when we start looking through old photo albums. “I have no idea,” I answer – and sadly no one to ask to refresh my memory (my sister is even worse at remembering things than I am). “What was your curfew when you were our age?” they’ll query. Or: “What did Gramps and Grandma Dell used to do when you were mean to your sister? What was your punishment?” Again: no recollection. If we were all at the dinner table one more time, I’d want to ask those ques- A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 tions. Did you help me with my homework the way I help my kids now? Do you remember feeling tired from all the multi-tasking and carpooling? What was I like at 15 years old? What age did I leave my pediatrician and finally see an ‘adult’ doctor? What was it like having to prepare all those meals from scratch? Did you ever resent it? When did you learn to “trust” us and not freak out once we started driving? How did you handle the alcohol and cigarette situation? Did you ever secretly spy on us? Or read our diaries? Did your marriage go south when I went to college or had it started before that? Did you worry about us the way I worry about my girls? And mostly: What do you think of me as a mother? Am I doing a good job? As much as I think I am, it would be nice to hear what my parents would say about me now. When you lose your parents -- a mom especially -- you lose the captain of your ship; your biggest fan; your top cheerleader. Moms are the ones who keep track of all your likes and dislikes: It’s she who knows you like hamburgers and your sister likes cheeseburgers and not the other way around. She’s also your advocate: “ To me, it’s not about what you’re serving that matters or if the holiday decor is just ‘so,’ ... it’s about the smells of the kitchen, the ‘crazy’ relatives the wobbly tables, the milk that’s gone bad.... ” The only one to tell you the truth in the dressing room that yes, your butt looks big in those pants, or that a certain dress snags in all the wrong places. And no matter how old you get, she’s the one who gently prods you to take care of yourself, reminding you to get a haircut, treat yourself to a manicure or invest in a new bra. Dads, on the other hand, are the ones who doesn’t notice the frizz and always thinks you look gorgeous no matter what you’re wearing (unless it’s something way too short and accompanied by dark black eyeliner). He’s the one that reminds you how smart you are, how talented and fearless, despite the fact that he always has to come to your rescue when you got a flat tire. OK. I’m talking about myself here but you know what I mean. Luckily, I had good relationships with both my parents, which I know not everyone has. Still: No matter how many birthdays you have, how independent and “successful” you are, you still want to be someone’s daughter, especially when that “somebody” was so loving and nurturing. Despite your “old age” (ok: mine again), you want someone who watches out for you the way you do for others. Someone who knows all your stories and isn’t afraid to tell you what they think. Someone to call in an emergency or when you feel like crying and when you know you’re being ridiculous about some petty argument with a friend (or your sister) but just need a sounding board. Someone to (occasionally) pick up the bill for a pair of shoes you really want but don’t “need.” Someone to tell your kids to “Be nice to their mother” and remind them you are a human being who was once a kid like they are. Which is why in my mid-life, I’m a lot more honest with my friends when they grumble about finding a turkey that’s large enough, a pie that fits everyone’s tastes and side dishes that cater to everyone’s diet restrictions. To me, it’s not about what you’re serving that matters – or if the holiday décor is just “so” on the table. It’s about the smells of the kitchen, the stress of worrying about how everything will come out of the oven at the same time, and the “crazy” relatives sitting on the couch in the other room that both annoy and infuriate you, but who deep down you really cherish (in small doses). It’s about wobbly tables that need matches underneath to keep them straight, about mis-matched plates and silverware because there are so many people to share the holiday with and kid’s tables that still have “kids” who are 18 and 20 sitting (politely!) (or texting) alongside younger nieces and nephews. It’s about milk that’s gone bad so someone needs to run out at the last minute, ice that’s stuck together so everyone has to drink lukewarm water, and a bottle of wine that no one can uncork. Mostly, though, it’s about a green bean casserole that you never really liked that much in the first place, but will miss beyond words when it’s gone. ■ Left: Jeanne with kids Sydney and Corey and dad. He died two years after this photo was taken. By Natalie MacLean Wines for the Top 10 ToughTo-Buy-For People on Your Holiday List W ine is one of the few presents that makes both the giver and the receiver look good. You look like you spent a bundle on the gift (even if you didn’t) and the recipients are happy that you think they know something about wine (even if they don’t). Plus, there are no wrong sizes and you can always find something good in stock. 1Hairdresser: For the person who combines humor and optimism every time she styles your mop. Go for a light, gulpable wine like a dry rosé. It’s versatile and fuss-free—a great quaff for your coif. 2 Psychiatrist: Of course, he’ll analyze whatever you give him so choose a wine that’s all about balance. Easy-drinking Pinot Noir is medium-bodied yet packed with flavor. Surprise him with a large-format bottle, like a magnum. Big thinking means big progress for you. This wine also works for psychologists, marriage counselors and bartenders. 3 The Boss: Pick too pricey a wine and your boss will think your last raise was too much; go cheap, and she’ll think you lack judgement. Focus on a label with a lot of white space since that makes the bottle look more expensive. A castle in the distance also works, but avoid fluffy animals. 4 Personal Trainer: Think a muscular, robust red would work? Hold that position. Instead, try Riesling: this light white wine pairs well with a health-nut diet of salad and seafood, plus it’s low in alcohol. You can also give it to Pilates instructors, yoga masters and Tai Chi coaches. 46 l A Role Mommy Magazine l Holiday 2010 Natalie MacLean www.NatalieMacLean.com Natalie MacLean is the author of the bestseller Red, White and Drunk All Over. Go to her website for more information on this red-nosed sommelier as well as info on her favorite wineries, tasting notes and recipe matches. 5Financial Planner: You and he both know it’s going to take decades before your portfolio recovers after the crash of 2008. With that long-term view, vintage port makes the perfect gift. This fortified wine from northern Portugal, with its long aging potential, will be around long into your retirements. 6 Travel Agent: She’s been everywhere and seen everything, so go local with your choice of wine. Even better, if you live close to the winery, get the bottle signed by the winemaker. 7 Teacher: If you can’t find a suitably obscure wine with a Latin name, there’s always cream sherry. It’s the tipple of Oxford dons, not to mention the centerpiece of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic short story The Case of the Amontillado. 8 Mail Deliverer: Go for a winery that’s consistent year after year in producing a wine that can be enjoyed in snow, rain, sleet or hail. Try an Australian Shiraz or Argentine Malbec. 9 Mechanic: Yes, there’s a wine called Red Truck, but try to be more imaginative. Why not give a wine made by Mario Andretti in California or Ferrari in Italy? 10YOU! Even Santa’s little helpers need more than milk and cookies. Try something with high-alcohol like Italian Amarone or Rhone Syrah: these big reds easily drown out tonedeaf caroling and pair beautifully with tired feet. ■ ©istockphoto.com/artjazz cheers! Worried about how to get dinner on the table when you’re NOT a cook? So were these other busy moms...who found solutions in Dinner for Busy Moms (Plain White Press): Your book is chock-full of wisdom and humor. I really appreciate how your advice helps assuage the guilt I often feel when I serve takeout…again. I now have a firm conviction that no matter what ends up on the table, my family and I will eat dinner together. —Marsha G., New Rochelle NY You have made brilliant use of other’s tips, etc. Your approach to the whole book is fabulous. This should go viral. —Laurie Z., San Francisco, CA I started the book at 1 a.m. and finally put it down around 2:15 a.m... LOVE IT! ... makes me want to head out to the grocery store and fill my empty cabinets! —Jenn K., Indianapois, IN Go to www.thedinnermom.com for more info. Fed up with articles dealing with the same old same old? Eager for something different? Join our subscription list for the low-down on the best “mom-approved” products, the latest trends, and the hottest (and most honest) parenting topics. You’ll receive email newsletters with “Need to Know” info as well as an inside peek at our next issue. Plus anything else “YOU” related we can think of (or you tell us about). Let’s start gabbing! Sign up today! project you Pursue your passion one dream at a time. A Role Mommnye Magazi Fall 2010 Back AT School Issue Tea wiTh “NaNNy McPhee” When YOUR Kid is the Bully Energy Zappers —and Solutions www.ProjectYouMagazine.com