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project you Pursue your passion one dream at a time.

A Role Mommnye Magazi 2011 February

The Love Yourself Issue! Getting Gorgeous, Finding Me-Time and What To Do When Your Husband Gets On Your Nerves

Married Crush Confessions

Sigourney Weaver

talks about the “why” behind her roles

RoleMommy.com 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!

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Table of Contents Every Issue: 4 Editor’s Letter

Celebrate your passions

5 Between Us

Sigourney Weaver talks about life’s challenges, TakeBackTheKitchen’s Alma Schneider offers “Sweets for the Sweet,” music to set the mood by and more.

10 Charge It!

Five Things I Learned While Getting Gorgeous plus easy ways to Spruce Up Your Look

13 Your Secrets

Red Hot Gift Ideas

14 Family Travel

Oh Baby! Ideas for Traveling with Little Ones in Tow

16 KidSpiration

Valentine Kisses How a pile of red and white cards help heal a former home schooling mom’s heart

17 Raise Your Glass!

Table for Two Creating your own intimate retreat at home

19 Sanity Savers

You talking to ME? Finding a moment for your own “time out”

FEATURES:

24 Connecting with Your Spouse

Yes, He Gets on Your Nerves but…..Easy Ways to Reignite That Lovin Feeling

29 My Married Crush

You have yours; he has his; together it makes for an honest marriage

20 Great Escapes

31 My Unpredictable Life

22 BabyTalk

33 Love What You Do

23 Sweet Tooth

35 A Weighty Decision

Gal-ivanting The Best Girlfriend Getaways

Winter Tales Don’t be Snowed By This Hoax Hot Chocolate All you need to know about buying the good stuff

26 Your Finances

Do You Know Your Assets?

40 Man Talk

Game On: It’s Super Bowl Time!

How My Valentine’s Day Went from “Suckey” to “Great” Following Your Passion is One Way to Live the Life You Want Following the journey of a mom whose weight ballooned to 200 pounds

38 Walking as Healing

How a 60 mile walk for breast cancer got a self-proclaimed couch potato up and running

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

Jennie Baird Jessica Bern Chris Bro Melissa Chapman Maria Colaco Ross Ellis Clay Gordon Susan Hirshman Elizabeth Mascali Julie Meyers Pron Sarah Peppel Cindy Richards Eric Ruhalter Dawn Sandomeno Alma Schneider Matt Titus Patricia Walters-Fischer Laura Wattenberg

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.

Celebrate your passions I

t’s February and you know what that means. If you live on the east coast, it’s been bitter cold and we’ve endured the most snow storms in history! Out here in New Rochelle, there’s at least three feet of snow piled up outside my window and I can no longer see the electric Barbie Jeep that accidentally was left outside in our backyard this fall. While we’re wondering how we’ll ever dig ourselves out of this mess, our kids are having the time of their lives, building snowmen, making snow angels and sipping hot chocolate. If only life could be that simple again. Well, here at Project You, we say it can! Our Valentine’s issue is all about celebrating your passions—with your family, on the career front, through charity and of course, in the bedroom. We’ve got a stellar array of features lined up this issue, including an interview with feature film dynamo and mom Sigourney Weaver. Relationship author and lifestyle expert Matt Titus offers suggestions on the best Valentine’s Day gifts (hello big comfy bathrobes) while Married My Sugar Daddy’s (MarriedMySugarDaddy) Melissa Chapman shares her secrets to keep the spark alive in your marriage - even after you’ve been together for more than a decade. The gals at Partybluprints (PartyBluPrintsBlog.com) once again serve up some romantic plans for two and Take Back the Kitchen’s (TakeBackTheKitchen.com) Alma Schneider will have us all salivating with her delicious chocolate cheesecake recipe. We’re also going to be following the story of writer Patricia Walters-Fischer (40FatAndFrustrated.com), who after ballooning to more than 200 pounds, is determined to finally get her body back. As we track Patricia’s progress, I’m sure many of us will be able to relate to letting our waistlines fall by the wayside once we became moms. Plus, we’ve got a bittersweet story about what it was like for Genesis Moments (GenesisMoments.com) Sarah Peppel to send her daughters back to the classroom after home schooling. Our resident dad, Eric Ruhalter is back with a KidDictionary definition and Valentine’s anecdote that any husband can relate to. And, Bern This (BernThis.com) blogger extraordinaire Jessica Bern will have you laughing until your sides hurt as she shares her story about getting the chance to celebrate Valentine’s Day again—six years after her divorce. And because we know you want to look like a million bucks without spending a million bucks, we’ve got fabulous must have shopping items from New York Mom (New YorkMom.WordPress.com), Maria Colaco along with some important beauty tips I gleaned while “Getting Gorgeous.” The driving message: We believe 2011 should be about passion: Passion for looking good, feeling good, reigniting your relationships (and that includes plenty of “me time”) and getting motivated.

Contact us

ProjectYouMagazine@gmail.com cover photos: ©www.istock.com/Cimmerian; Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

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A Role Mommy Magazine l February 2011

Beth Feldman Editor in Chief

© Jennifer Parente

Pursue your passion one dream at a time.

editor’sLETTER

betweenus Weaver Wisdom By Beth Feldman

For actress Sigourney Weaver, life’s challenges have not only made her stronger, but led her to more challenging roles.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

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ow can you not admire a woman who admits to self-esteem issues as a child 15 minutes into your converation (hellooooo...this is our “Love Yourself” issue!). Sigourney Weaver , who says she was six feet tall when she was 11 and “really dorky and terribly self conscious,” is not only truthful, she’s one of most versatile actresses on the planet. The 62year old has appeared in everything from sci fi blockbusters to dramas and comedies and admits one of the reasons she’s been drawn to powerful roles was becuse of those awkward but formative teen years. Her latest role—which includes a Golden Globe nomination along with other accolades— is the Lifetime original movie, Prayers for Bobby. The This is what 62 looks like! Sigourney Weaver seems ageless. projectyou

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film is based on the book, Prayers for Bobby: A Mother’s Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son, by Leroy F. Aarons, which shares the true story of the life and legacy of Bobby Griffith, a young gay man who killed himself due to his mother’s and community’s religious intolerance. The film stars Ryan Kelley as Bobby Griffith withWeaver as his mother, Mary. The film was recently released on DVD and Weaver hopes it will be shared at libraries and schools across the country. She says the movie shows how a parent’s judgement can be detrimental to their child’s personal growth and self esteem. “Mary was frightened and put off by Bobby’s homosexualityshe lost her courage. Children need the courage to trust them. I’m hoping it will help send that message. Her story absolutely hits home.”

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“One of the reasons I’ve played so many strong roles is because I was so tall at a young age,” she says. “It’s honestly a miracle that I became an actress. My parents ultimately gave me the encouragement I needed to set me free.” Another surprise:   that this incredible actor, who’s won numerous awards and has incredible range, was rejected by the Yale Drama School. “They said I wasn’t talented,” she says.   Despite this early setback, she is wistful, admitting that “something about these terrible experiences can actually be quite productive and set you in motion.” She also says that in light of her personal childhood experiences, she relates to individuals who feel like outsiders. “I have often felt like that and it’s not a good feeling. I think we’re now in the era of not fitting in.” While her career has spanned more than three decades, Weaver has managed to juggle motherhood too. “I think my daughter is a sweetheart,”

A Role Mommy Magazine l February 2011

says Weaver, who adds that her daughter doesn’t like her talking about her in interviews. “She’s a lovely, outgoing, wonderful person and I find that I’ve learned many lessons from her. You’ve got to be there when she needs you and you better not be there when you’re not needed. You can’t be a helicopter parent. You need to trust your child to make good choices about difficult topics.” If you’re as a big a fan of Sigourney Weaver as I am, you’ll be thrilled to learn that we’ll be seeing a lot of her this year. She says, “As an actor, I’m trained for the theater, I can play small parts and big parts so I get sent everything. These days, men and women are interchangeable. I’ve starred in five science fiction films- all big ones. I’ve got seven movies coming out this year- horror, sci fi, action, dramas. I’m really having a blast.” And isn’t that what loving yourself is all about? ■

Courtesy of A&E Home Entertainment/Lifetime

Sigourney Weaver stars in Prayers for Bobby, which shares the true story of the life and legacy of Bobby  Griffith, a young gay man who killed himself.

Sweets for the Sweet

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Want to surprise your family with a decadent chocolate dessert? Try this dessert from Alma Schneider at TakeBackTheKitchen.com who recently appeared on Kitchen Daily’s on line segment  Moms Vs. Masters —and beat well known Top Chef Zac Young with the following recipe below.

Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Filling and Ganache Frosting:

You will need 2 large bowls and one medium bowl. Dry ingredients for cake in first bowl Whisk together: ❏ 1 1/2 cups all purpose white flour ❏ 1 cup sugar ❏ 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder ❏ 1 tsp baking soda ❏ 1/2 tsp salt Wet Ingredients for cake in second bowl Stir together: ❏ 1 cup water ❏ 1/3 cup olive  oil ❏ 1 egg ❏ 1 TBS white vinegar ❏ 1 tsp vanilla

©www.istock.com/LauriPatterson

Add whisked dry ingredients to wet ingredients until combined. Pour into an 8” round cake pan, preferably with a removable bottom ( a springform pan). In the center, pour the cream cheese filling, see below: Cream cheese filling In a medium sized bowl: ❏ 8 oz. Philadelphia cream cheese, softened for a minute in the microwave ❏ 1/3 cup sugar Beat together sugar and cream cheese and then add: ❏ one beaten egg and ❏ 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips  (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. When heated, place cake on middle rack of oven for 45-50 minutes, or until the

cake in the center, around the filling, comes out clean with a knife. Chill in fridge until cooled. When cooled, you can frost with the following frosting or no frosting at all: Frosting: ❏ 2 TBS sweet unsalted butter ❏ 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips ❏ 6 TBS heavy cream ❏ 1 1/4 cups SIFTED (must sift because we don’t want lumps) powdered sugar ❏ 1 tsp vanilla and extract

Heat all the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat and stir until fully combined and smooth. When cooled, spread on your awesome cake and chill again in fridge. When it is chilled and frosting is a little solid, sift some powdered sugar on top. You can serve immediately or the next day but cover well with wax paper. ■

Alma Schneider

TakeBackTheKitchen.com Alma Schneider is a Licensed Clinical Social worker, food writer and chef. She lives in Montclair , NJ with her husband and four children.

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betweenus By Chris Bo

Music to set the mood by

(and that includes YOUR mood too!)

What’s on your iPod?

Here, ideas from Chris Bro, host of The Peak’s show NEXT NextMusicOnline.com whose mission is to help you find your next favorite song (and also stay sane listening to your kid’s selections).   When you want to impress your teens with your musical knowledge: Arcade Fire. They’ve been making great music for years but have only recently caught on with the rest of the world. Go Old School and impress your teens with “Wake Up” from Funeral. Or try “We Used to Wait” but don’t ruin it by agreeing with AF and say life was better back when we wrote letters and “had to wait.” After all, life is “tweet.”   When you want something else to carpool to besides RadioDisney (and want to impress upon your kids that good music is not Miley Cyrus): Try Muse “Uprising” or Hockey “Song Away” or Guster “Do What You Want” – it’s a great way to get

your little ones appreciating good tunes.   When you meet up with an old friend via Facebook:   Black Taxi. This is the way to impress your old friends with the next big thing. Also listen to Locksley “Don’t Make Me Wait”. They’re buddies from Madison WI that call Brooklyn home and you’ll hear early Kinks and Beatles in their sound.   When you need to rock out when folding laundry: Rodrigo y Gabriela “Diablo Rojo” or Derek James “Free Love.”   When the mood is right with your hubby: Alejandro Escovedo – Anchor. Alejandro Escovedo has been called Austin’s Bruce Springsteen.  This man should be much better known. It may not be a “straight up” love song but is love ever “straight up”? Or if Quirky Love is more your speed, try “Home” by Edward Sharpe. When you’re hunting in your closet for something to wear: Blood Red Shoes “Light it up” will get pumped up (no pun intended). You can file them under “I didn’t know that two people could make that much noise.” When you have time to really listen (ha ha): “The Fight to Be Human” by Justin Currie. This song is over eight minutes long but when you listen you’ll swear it ‘s barely a heartbeat. ■

Chris Bro

NextMusicOnline.com

DJ Chris Bro ( a dad of two) is the Host of NEXT, recently picked as the “Best of Westchester” by Westchester Magazine. A devoted music geek, Chris’ goal is to find you your next new favorite song. If you give him an hour he will make you musically hip.

It’s no secret that sex often takes a back seat to baby in the early months of parenthood, but who’s telling the truth here? Of new parents, 47% of moms say they have less sex now than before they had kids, as compared with only 20% of dads. And parents have creative tactics for getting a little one-on-one time in with baby in the house: 46% have sex at different times of the day, while 41% say quickies are king. A quarter of parents say they are thankful for baby naptime, which affords them amorous, albeit more hurried, opportunities. ■ Source: “The Savvy Parents Guide” from Evenflo, an online destination aimed at providing education, resources and a sense of community for parents in the know www.evenflo.com; Twitter: www.twitter.com/EvenfloBaby; Facebook: www.facebook.com/EvenfloBaby 8

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©www.istock.com/ambrits

A ‘sexy’ did you know?

betweenus By Eric Ruhalter

Give til it hearts

The latest hilarious

D(ad) List

Things a wifer might say to hends husband that sonu’t hot, but are ✽ “I need you to put a fresh bag in the can” ✽ “ Honey, will you let the dog out so he can do his thing?” ✽ “I got it ready. All I want you to do is stop at the school and give it to the Teacher!” ✽ “Will you give me some sugar? I can’t put this out tasting all bitter.” ✽ “Let’s hit this mess before the kids wake up.”

Do you know what every woman wants for Valentine’s Day?  Neither do I.  What I’d like to do is come up with a way to figure out the ideal gift for my lovely Valentine of a wife each year. Maybe something subtle like putting up a dry-erase board in the kitchen that says in big letters:  “MY NAME IS KARA AND FOR VALENTINES DAY THIS YEAR, I WANT A ____________  OR A __________________. AND I WOULD GUESS YOU COULD FIND IT AT __________________.  BUT IF IT’S TOO EXPENSIVE, DON’T SWEAT IT.”  She inconspicuously fills in the blanks. And Bingo! If we can work out an arrangement like that, I could totally rock Valentines Day.  But, I know, I know, that’s not in the spirit of the occasion. I have to intuit what she likes. Not need any hints. Show that I know her and can identify with what makes her happy. For her, I’ll try.  So, let’s see… Think think think… What does she like? She likes to exercise! She teaches spin classes and lifts some weights… Weights ….weight… Scale… I’ll buy her a scale!  … No, that’ll get me punched in the junk for certain. But wait, okay, she does also like to clean. … Clean…Clean Smelling… Deodorant!  I’ll get her some Deodorant! Yeah. No good either. She likes animals… our pets are animals… Our pets had to be neutered… See!? No good at it!  I guess I just have to do the same old stupid thing I do every year – Trek to the center of the vast desert and etch into the sand the sincerest expressions of love in my heart and hope when they’re blown to the wind they’ll live in the air and whisper in her ear forever. I know. Lame. One of these years I’ll figure it all out.

KidDictionary Word:

✽ “There’s something upstairs that needs plunging.” ✽ “If you want it without cream, I’ll grind some more in the morning.” ✽ “ I just want you to take your shoes off before you come in here. I know it’s hard. ✽ “You’d better give some attention to that box or Fluffy’s not gonna be your friend anymore.” ✽ “ Me and my girlfriends are going out tonight. We’ll be drinking, so I’m gonna have you drive us both ways.”

DISHEART-TO-HEART TALK (dis-HART-toohart TAWK) n.: Your child’s disappointing responses to your sincerest proclamations of love for them. eg.:  Dad: “I will love and protect you forever and ever my sweetest little princess.” Daughter: “Daddy, you have hair in your nose.”

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.) projectyou

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chargeIT! By Beth Feldman

Five Things I Learned while Getting Gorgeous Recently, I got the chance to attend a pampering event hosted by two of my favorite blogging fashion savvy moms, Audrey McClelland and Vera Sweeney. The two have recently launched a new event company called “Getting Gorgeous” and together, they managed to kick off an event that was the talk of the BlogHer convention (a gathering of thousands of female writers that took place this past summer in New York City). In two massive rooms at the Warwick hotel, Audrey and Vera created an experience for bloggers where we had our faces transformed by ELF cosmetics, our hair styled by Remington (we got to go home with a professional flat iron and curling iron). I also learned a new fashion word —more on that soon—and gained two inches in height. So where do I begin? Simple. How about the five things I learned at Getting Gorgeous:

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I look good in jeggings. Or at least fashion stylist extraordinaire Robert Verdi says I do. While cruising through the fashion room, I met the founder of Miracle Body jeans—a new product that’ll take 10 pounds off your frame the moment you put them on. Don’t go on the scale girls because your weight will stay the same, but Miracle Body sucks you in in all the right places and has styles to fit every shape. Robert Verdi was on hand to style all the moms who visited the Miracle Body table and when he took one look at me in my flowy lavender skirt, he instantly told me I was a candidate for jeggings. What are jeggings, you ask? Simple- jeans that are leggings. While I haven’t worn leggings since the late 80’s, I threw caution to the wind and slipped on a pair. According to Robert and a few other women who were checking out my butt (because I asked them to), I supposedly looked damn good in my jeggings. I can’t wait to pair them with a long sweater. If only I could find those Ben-

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1 netton jerseys I was obsessed with back in high school. Oh well, a girl’s gotta dream.

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I don’t have to go to the gym to get a tight butt. I just need to buy Skechers Shape-Ups. After squeezing out of my jeggings, I zipped over to Skechers where I met fitness guru Andréa Metcalf. Andrea, who writes for Oprah.com and has a new book and three DVD’s coming out this fall, was on hand to tell us all about the benefits of Skechers Shape Ups. When I got the chance to try on a pair (I felt like Cinderella in sneakers), I actually grew two inches! The soles of the shoes are elevated and curved in a way that helps you tone

A Role Mommy Magazine l February 2011

your legs, thighs and buns when you’re out and about. Which means I can get in shape racing to my commuter train instead of running on a treadmill. Brilliant!

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Remington curling irons can give your hair that red carpet twirly look. I’m still trying to figure out how it works without burning myself, but luckily, my curling iron came with a heat resistant glove that I can slip on when I’m attempting to wrap my hair around the iron and create bouncy curls. The Remington flat and curling irons totally work- you just have to practice a bit to make it do the things those professional hair stylists can do with it.

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I don’t have to spend a boatload of money on make-up to look great. I’ve actually been using ELF cosmetics for a while and happen to really like their make-up brushes, foundation, lip gloss and liners. If you’re like me, you probably have a favorite brand of lipstick or eye shadow but I love that with ELF you don’t have to blow your entire paycheck on make-up. A little cash goes along way with the products and best of all, you’ll look great in the process.

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When in doubt, accessorize. Back over to the fashion room, I fell in love with Lia Sophia—a mom-owned jewelry design business offering beautiful necklaces, earrings and bracelets- and I got to take home a really pretty necklace that I plan to throw over a long flowy top that I’ll wear with my jeggings. For more information about all the amazing products that were featured at Getting

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Gorgeous (one more big shout out to the super cool powermat I received that charges everything from iPhones to my son’s Dsi XL). Plus if you are a product reviewer or parenting blogger, visit Vera and Audrey’s site where you can sign up for future events (they’ve got an event coming up in NYC on April 2nd and a retreat for product reviewers in May!). ■

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charge IT! By Maria Colaco

Spruce up your look 1 A few essentials go a long way in making you feel good

Make Up forever Diamond Powder $24 Metallics are in this season, but pace yourself. A little goes a long way. Try a little bit on your eye lids and collar bone. Diamond Powder combines both the pearly iridescence of Star Powder and the brightness of Glitter. It is almost entirely composed of pure synthetic mother-of-pearl. The particles are finer and literally radiate extreme brilliance as soon as they are applied. Can be purchased only at Sephora.com or Sephora stores.

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Talking Palette $15 The red pout is back ladies. Do you need a tutorial to perfect your fab red lip? No worries, Stila had you in mind when they came out with the Stila Paint your Pout Red. A palette that not only features three stunning shades of red lip color, it also has a voice recording that walks you through each application step. Sephora.com Sephora stores.

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Plum, purples, and midnight blue are hot this season, and what better way to indulge in this rich color than a sweet dress from Anthropologie. The Stilled Night Dress by Moulinette Soeurs is the perfect pick for a cocktail party or that PTA soirée. $128 Anthropologie.com

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MAC- Pro Longwear Concealer, $16.50 Conceal under eye circles or dark spots or red nose irritations. A little of this goes a looooong way and it totally does what it says. It’s a modest price and well worth it! A lightweight fluid concealer that provides medium to full coverage with a natural matte finish. Last up to 15 hours. MacCosmetics.com

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Olay Complete- All Day Moisture Cream SPF 15, $6.49 Moisturize and hydrate these cold months with tried and true Oil of OLAY Regenerist. Available at Target Stores and online. ■

Maria Colaco

NewYorkMom.WordPress.com

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A Role Mommy Magazine l February 2011

Maria Colaco writes about her life at NewYorkMom.WordPress.com. She is a dancer and choreographer in NYC and lives in the burbs with her husband, kid and giant dog. You can find her on Twitter at @pluslily.

yourSECRETS By Matt Titus

Red hot gift ideas

True love means knowing the right item to warm your heart (hint: print this out for your hubby)

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alentine’s Day spending reached nearly $17 billion last year! That’s a whole lot of roses and chocolates! Greeting cards rank up there too, with nearly two-thirds (67.9%) of consumers planning to purchase at least one card for the holiday. But aside from the usual — flowers, candy, and dinner at a romantic restaurant — what do women want? After taking an informed yet casual survey of women aged 25-45 in a number of major cities across the country, we found that the successful and modern female actually would love to receive something a bit more exciting this Valentine’s Day. So, here’s a list of the top ten most requested ‘wants’ for Cupid’s big day for 2011.

Something original and heartfeltthe number one reply was for a gift from the heart, not bought in a store. Everything from a note left on the pillow explaining how much you are desired to a scrapbook of special events spent together. The key here is that it be simple, honest and above all…original.

laptops and the newest Android smart phone models were expected additions for 2011, seems the ladies love their toys just as much as boys!

Exotic dark chocolates, steer clear of the dusty old sampler boxes and seek out the truly unique and delectable varieties. Women were unanimous in their delight for something sweet and decadent.

Surprise get-away trips, a ticket to nowhere with that special someone came in with a hefty 35% of the vote. Gain extra points for having every second planned in advance, the woman polled expressed major attraction for a man who is willing to take charge.

©www.istock.com/Yuri_Arcurs

Spa days are at the top of the Valentine’s Day “Most Wanted” lists, schedule something late in the morning or early in the afternoon so there will be plenty of time to celebrate the rest of the day together.

Gadgets for Gals, the iPad just continues to be a hot item for the savvy ladies out there, also all slimline

Your own personal “Iron Chef”, a meal prepared by a date or spouse is an often stated but seldom done desire. This request also falls under the most popular trend we’ve found of “doing something simple but special for Valentine’s Day”.

All That Jazz, several respondents replied that a date that included something cultural like a theatrical event or a night at the opera would be an exciting way to spend the holiday. Locate where her favorite artist is appearing and

book front row seats; just make sure you have a spot to snuggle afterwards.

Big, comfy bath robes. It’s a fact, woman love them almost as much as they love their iPads, hah! When picking a robe, splurge for the most extravagant one available (some of the major four star hotels sell their signature robes via their websites). Combine it with top shelf bath products, massage oils and some scented romantic candles for an indulgent evening you’ll both savor. This request was always answered in the survey with the phrase, “He’d never think of it but…”

A romantic, candlelit massage by “my man” followed by a gift of sexy lingerie that he picked out, ‘nuff said!

Quality time together, this one was mentioned again and again, busy work schedules, young children and not having enough time in the day were all blamed in the survey for couples losing that “spark” in their relationships. Taking the time to be romantic was a popular reply; the constant wish was that it would be applicable all year long not just on Valentine’s Day. ■

Matt Titus

TheLoveConsultants.com Matt Titus is a nationally recognized dating and relationship coach, matchmaker and lifestyle expert. He is the author of Why Hasn’t He Called? and Why Hasn’t He Proposed? The books are co-authored with his wife, TV personality Tamsen Fadal.

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familyTRAVEL By Cindy Richards

Oh baby! Trip ideas for traveling with babies where romance is not only a possibility, but a definite reality

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Think all-inclusive

I know—you never would have considered an all-inclusive before the baby. But consider it now. Club Med does a particularly good job. The baby corner in the buffet offers baby foods in jars with utensils required to prepare the meals. Open 24 hours a day, the baby corner contains the necessary facilities for preparing meals: blender, sterilizer (provided on request), microwave and refrigerator, The playgrounds are separate from the supervised children’s facilities and accessible to young children accompanied by their parents. The Baby Welcome package for children from 4 months to 2 years includes amenities to help make traveling with infants and toddlers easier—including bottle warmers, a stroller to use during your vacation and even a baby bathtub.

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Try a cruise

Cruise lines are getting increasingly kid-friendly and some, including Disney, Carnival and Royal Caribbean ships offering the Royal Babies program, will even take children in diapers. Cruises also are great options for families with kids of different ages, right up to and through the teen years. There are so many activities and so many kid-friendly options that everyone ought to be able to find something they want to do.

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Consider international

I never would have tried this when my kids were babies, but every time I travel abroad, I run into young

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families who all say the same thing: International travel with babies is easy. For one thing, babies sleep anywhere and any time. So no worries about jet lag. For another, many cultures are family-focused and baby-centric (Mexico and Italy, in particular) and welcome babies at hotels, restaurants and attractions. If you’re still nursing, there are no food worries. And babies used to sleeping in strollers or baby carriers can do that in Paris as easily as Peoria. So

baby naps while you walk around to see the sites.

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Rent a bigger place

Hotel rooms can get really crowded once you move in the crib, stroller, car seat, diaper bag and all the other equip-

Pack This! Three things: Keep your kids entertained, less is more and save your back so you’re not straining yourself traipsing through the airport. Some ideas for both of you:

NEW MOM MUST-HAVES ✔ Diaper Buds: I recently heard a story about a mom who was forced to check her carry on bag because it was stuffed with diapers and she then had to bring her baby on board without a single diaper to change her! With Diaper Buds you can fit one in your pocket! The diapers are shrink wrapped which means you can bring at least 4-5 diapers with you and they hardly take up any room in your bag! ✔ Pish Posh Mommy: There is nothing more frustrating than putting your diaper bag through the security check and they wind up confiscating your diaper cream, formula and anything else that’s not less than the 4 oz. minimum. With Pish Posh Mommy, you can actually place all your must have diaper and feeding items into a convenient carryall or a fashionable bag that you can even place inside a handbag or carryonwhich means no diaper bag required!!!

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MUST HAVES FOR KIDS ✔ iPod Touch: Download their favorite apps, music, TV shows and videos and they’ll be entertained for hours. My kids’ favorite free games include Pocket God and The Moron Test (ugh) which incidentally is a game that tests your knowledge. ✔ Nintendo Dsi XL: If you’re traveling on a long trip, this is a must-have item. It comes with built in games from Brain Age to Flip Notes, voice recorder and camera. My daughter’s favorite games are Art Academy and Style Savvy. And my son’s- anything with the words Mario in the title. And coming soon March 27, the first of its kind 3D Nintendo DS! ✔ Playing Cards: Go old school, bring a deck of cards and play everything from Spit, to War to five card stud—well, maybe not the poker game, but there’s plenty of great card games that’ll keep your kids entertained for hours. —B.F.

courtesy of pish posh mommy

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es babies need a lot of equipment, but there’s no reason to forego that family holiday. Consider the following when deciding on your first trip with baby.

skin from the sun.

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Take a train

Kids under three are fascinated by trains and when my kids were babies, they fell asleep almost immediately, lulled by the gentle rocking. As they got a little older, the freedom to toddle up and down the aisles as needed to burn off a little energy was a precious gift. It takes a little longer to get there, but just being on the train can make getting there the highlight of the trip. ■

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Trains are an easy option for traveling with a newborn.

ment that comes with a baby these days. Opt to rent a condo, apartment or house instead. They come complete with kitchens, so there’s a fridge and microwave for preparing the baby’s food and they have a separate bedroom with a door that closes so parents can stay up and get to know one another after the baby goes to sleep. The benefits of having access to a kitchen usually is a cheaper way to travel with a

family, regardless of the kids’ ages, just because you can save so much on restaurant meals.

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Go to the beach

The beach is a great laid-back destination for kids of all ages, but it’s particularly good for babies and toddlers. Just remember to bring or rent a good beach umbrella to protect that fragile baby

Cindy R ichards

TravelingMom.com Cindy Richards is a veteran travel writer and the editor of TravelingMom.com.

Diapers in your pocket? Try Diaper Buds!

15% off for Project You readers. Use coupon code “bud15” at checkout.

kidspiration By Sarah Peppel

Valentine Kisses S

A pile of red and white cards help heal a former home schooling mom’s heart

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Handmade cards are what Valentine’s Day is all about.

school. So, we decided to try home schooling. I signed up for a new state program and in no time, the three of us became our own little one room schoolhouse, doing science experiments in the kitchen and scheduling our own field trips . The only problem was that supplementation of the curriculum had to happen after your week’s worth of assignments were done. That meant that any sort of co-op programs with other parents and kids didn’t count towards the rigid goals your kids had to meet. Which meant my own work life got squeezed dramatically. The more time I spent teaching the kids meant the less time I had for my part-time job as a development director at the local pregnancy center. I felt drained. And guilty for “ssshing” the kids while I spent time on the phone. Financially, we needed my income but emotionally, the struggle to do “it all” was taking a huge toll on all of us. After many tears and long distant conversations, my parents helped my husband and I finance putting the girls back in their school while I looked for a full-time job to cover the tuition. The bus ride was long and my youngest asked me more than once if we could go back to home schooling. Need-

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less to say, the guilt – and worry that we did the right thing—was overpowering. I felt like I failed my girls and failed myself. But sitting at my kitchen table years later makes those painful days seem eons away. Kids are resilient as are we moms. And all of us learn from the life lessons that fall in our path. For me, it was as clear as the red and white cards that sat in a ragged pile as my girls picked and poked at each one. Because that was also the day my second grader came home with a similar stash of Valentine’s goodies, her green eyes lighting up as she read them aloud, “Best Friends Forever.” “You’re my Valentine.” “Let’s hang out.” I ask you: What could be sweeter? ■

Sarah Peppel

GenesisMoments.com Sarah Peppel is a freelance writer, columnist, professor, crazed mother of two growing girls and wife to one very special handy guy. She lives in Phoenixville, PA. Blogs: Genesis Moments: A Writer’s Journey & DIYFrugal

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ometimes it’s those ordinary, everyday moments that makes your heart skip a beat. Mine occurred Valentine’s Day five years ago soon after I had stopped home schooling my daughters. I had struggled with the idea of home schooling vs. “regular” school for months as I attempted to be their math, English, science, music, history, PE and Latin instructor, not to mention mom. Though I had loved the camaraderie and solitude we three shared (not to mention the joy of sometimes sleeping in late), I also realized an important social component was missing for my girls, then ages 7 and 8, which I couldn’t provide. That “every day moment” occurred in 2006 that made me realize that I had done the right thing for my kids, by putting them back in school. That’s when my third grader burst in the front door, her long blonde hair bobbing behind her as she hurried in the house carrying her precious cargo, a paper Valentine’s “mailbox” made of red, stapled construction paper hearts. Clever little cards and candy from classmates spilled out and landed in a heap on our kitchen table. My heart filled with irrational joy, emotions blending as each little staple and piece of tape further sealed the fate of the box of home schooling materials I abandoned only weeks before. “Mom, I got a card from Noelle and . . .” She went on, babbling so happily, I was lulled into a reverie of my own. Yes, this was one of the reasons I stopped home schooling. Not sugary candy and empty words but social interaction, time with friends, on-theground education that comes from being around people instead of just Mom. My backstory: I started home schooling in Fall 2005, when my girls were starting second and third grade, out of the realization that we could no longer afford the private school they had gone to the previous year. We had placed them in private school in the first place after recently moving to the area and hearing negative reports of the local public

raise yourGLASS! By Elizabeth Mascali, Dawn Sandomeno, and Sarah Peppel

Table for Two A Create your own intimate retreat at home

image courtesy of partybluprints

re your romantic nights becoming a thing of the past, as the kids and work make it harder to plan some couple time? Are scarce resources, like time, money and childcare options making date night seem like mission impossible? If you answered yes to these questions, it’s time to rekindle the romance and stake a claim for couplehood despite the craziness. Our advice? Skip the reservations and over-priced menus and create your own intimate retreat at home. Yes, you read that right: At home. If you have little ones, start your party at 8 p.m. when they go to bed; if they are a bit older take some of the money you save on dining out and hire a young babysitter to supervise the kids while you eat alone, or better yet, send them for a sleep over at Grandma’s house. It may not be perfect, but it’s better than waving the white flag and forgoing “together time” altogether. Make this a regular routine and mark a date on the calendar each month. You can alternate hosting a party for two (let your partner take the next turn), be creative and have fun. Kick off your new commitment to each other with a very special Valentine’s Day “Party for Two” with a very hot (no pun intended) inspired celebration.

Get Romantic with a Fire & Ice Champagne Cocktail ❏ 1/2 oz. Vodka (fire) ❏ 4 oz. Brut Champagne ❏ Scoop of pomegranate sorbet (ice) ❏ 1 rock candy sugar stick Pour vodka in champagne flute, add champagne and top off with a scoop of pomegranate sorbet. Add a rock candy sugar stick for a garnish that looks like ice.

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Serve a Tasting Menu Keep it simple. Put out small plates with bite-sized

Your local resource for TOTAL healthy living in the privacy of your own home!

www.LivingHealthyOnTheGo.com Living Healthy on the Go, Inc., offers you all the tools you need to achieve overall health. We believe in promoting well-being from the inside out. Our services include: l Nutrition Consulting: Prepared Meal Planning, Pantry Evaluation and Revamping, Food Journals l The Living Healthy Menu: Gourmet Prepared Meals, Personal Chef Services, Private Cooking Lessons l Personal Training: Yoga, Weight Training, Cardiovascular Workouts, Group Fitness l Pole Dancing: Encouraging women to boost their self-image while working out l Parties: Girls’ Night Out, Cooking Lessons, Healthy Girl Parties Take a look at our services, which are tailored to meet your goals and fit your schedule! To set up your FREE consultation, email Tina today!

Tina Oppedisano

Nutrition and Wellness Consultant Tina@LivingHealthyOnTheGo.com 914.450.8478

portions- eating this way encourages a leisurely meal and conversation, much more romantic than feeling overstuffed and rushed at a restaurant. Plus, eating with your hands is very sensual. Just make sure everything you serve can be made ahead so “what’s cooking” is not you in the kitchen. Then, for dessert indulge your desire for chocolate. On Valentine’s Day, or any romantic winter’s eve, chocolate is an essential element. Menu Suggestions: ✔C  heese plate with all the accoutrements; figs, honey, nuts, and crackers ✔S  oup ✔S  tuffed Bread (broccoli and cheese) ✔S  hrimp Cocktail ✔A  ssorted Fruit (like grapes and strawberries) and whipped cream ✔A  ssorted Chocolates

Create a Romantic Atmosphere

Add romance and surprise by moving your party for two from the table to a more comfortable location. If you have a fireplace, clear the floor directly in front, spread out a blanket and arrange some throw pillows for comfortable lounging. If you have a faux fur blanket, drape it on the side for cozying up later with a cocktail. If you don’t have a fireplace, locate a cozy corner, light some candles and create your own “fire.” We also suggest a Fire and Ice display as an added inspiration for your evening. This can be displayed on a table or on a tray by your fire. Instructions: ➊ Cut an empty 1-gallon milk carton in half. Rinse thoroughly. Place a large pillar candle in the bottom of the clean milk carton; make sure the top of the candle, especially the wick, sits above the top of the carton. Stuff red rose buds around the base of the pillar candle and fill the carton 1/2 of the way with water. Place the carton in the freezer, making sure the carton and candle sit level. Freeze until the ice is solid.

➋ When the block is frozen solid, dip the carton in warm water briefly, then peel the paper away exposing your fire and ice display.

➌ Set the block on tray/pan to catch any drips and place it back in the freezer until just before “show time”. ➍To display, place the candle in a shallow bowl to catch the water as ice melts. ■

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.

sanitySAVERS By Julie Meyers Pron

You talking to ME? Save your sanity with your own “time out”

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s moms, we are constantly adjusting to new schedules. We meet teachers. We meet coaches. We meet bosses and work associates. We make friends and lunches and breakfasts and dinners. We’re running from soccer to scouts to swim lessons and shuffling homework and family time and playmates —often finding time to prepare snacks for eight more kids that come to our house after the school bus. We squeeze in appointments, run from one thing to another – but often forget the most important person in this whole equation: Ourselves. Sadly, without “me time” we often forget who we are. I’m here to tell you as the mom behind Just-Precious.com, who has read your countless comments about being pressed for time, that Me Time is a necessity. It’s necessary to refresh, to think, and to enjoy yourself, who you are and where you come from. Me time rejuvenates us. It brings back our energy, spirit and enthusiasm. Which is why I advise stopping the madness and taking time to think about YOU.

©www.istock.com/erikreis

✔ Grab a pencil and paper and make a me list. Jot down eight things that you would love to do in your own time. Perhaps your list includes a spa visit, reading a book, seeing a movie or going for a walk. Or it may be joining a volleyball team, knitting a scarf or coloring in a coloring book (It’s therapeutic, I promise). ✔ Be selfish when you make your list. Me time should be a time for refreshing. A time that moms remember who they are outside of dinner and discipline. It’s a time that moms focus 100% on themselves. (Though, really, most wouldn’t complain for even 50% self-focus.) I try to get a pedicure about once a month. Some weekends, I just take a few hours

Write down the things you want to do and then make them a reality by setting aside “me time.”

to run errands alone. Other days, I enjoy tea and a book. But what I’ve found to be the most rewarding me time is the three times a week that I climb on the elliptical with a good book, working out while leaving behind my daily responsibilities. Or I practice Pilates, stretching my body and letting my mind go. ✔ Ladies, it’s time to celebrate you. Get a sitter or call a friend and offer to watch her kids today if she can watch yours tomorrow. Go do what you want to do. Soon. Tomorrow. Today. Just do something for you. We’re moms. We have responsibilities to our families, our homes, and our

work. But we should never forget the responsibilities we have to ourselves. ■

Julie Meyers Pron Just-Precious.com

Julie Meyers Pron is a parenting and education writer. The mom of three is co-founder of Just Centsible, a Social Media Consulting firm, a Parenting Guru for Yahoo! Shine and a member of the Yahoo! Mother Board.

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great ESCAPES By Beth Feldman

Gal-ivanting I

Sometimes, the best vacations are ones with your girlfriends

The Breakers in Palm Beach

This option is ideal if you have relatives in Florida and fly with your kids, leave them for a few days with your parents, and then head over to a lush resort where you can can be pampered in the spa, relax on the beach with a great book and swim or lounge by the pool. It’s so quiet at the Breakers that you could hear a pin drop.

A One Night Stay or Weekend Getaway at the Ritz Carlton, Peninsula or Four Seasons This can be a break the bank kind of experience, but trust me when I tell you, one night in a luxurious hotel and you will feel completely rejuvenated. From the feather beds, the chocolate mints under the pillows, unbelievable spas and top of the line service, there is nothing that comes close to spending a night at a five star hotel. For me, I love hitting a fancy hotel from time to time so that I can get design tips for my bathroom. I found out 20

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Relax with a Thai massage at The Breakers in Palm Beach.

a while ago that most bathroom trends start at hotels so grab a notebook and check out the mosaic tiles! Incidentally, the Peninsula in Chicago has flat screen TV’s in the bathtubs...heavenly!

own dish), margarita parties, Pampered Chef cookware parties, jeans parties or you can all chip in for food, bring wine and call it a day. Make sure you carpool and have a designated driver!

Dinner, Movie or a Show

Four-Six Day Getaways

Share an entree and appetizer with your best girlfriend and then get two tickets to a show that your partner would never see. Or, a double feature tear jerker at the movies. I can’t tell you how many times I want to go see a film and my husband turns me down because it’s a chick flick.

Moms Night In

Send the kids over to someone else’s house where the dads are on duty and transform your home into a shopping palace. One of my good friends throws the best Mom’s Night In parties complete with jewelry, handbags and scarves to purchase. Plus, there are passion parties, food parties (each guest brings their

A Role Mommy Magazine l February 2011

If you have several days to spare, then pack your bags and hit the skies for a one of a kind experience complete with fine dining, health and wellness menu, fitness plans and more. Some of our recommendations include: Villa Group Resorts (properties in Cabo, Riviera Nayarit, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun); London; Paris; St. Tropez; Canyon Ranch in Tuscon, Miami and the Berkshires; and Cal a Vie in San Diego. No matter your Thelma and Louise adventure, make 2011 the year that you grab your best girlfriend, pack a bag and take time for yourself. By the time you get back, your kids and husband will be thrilled to see you and you won’t get as annoyed when someone asks to get them Nyquil at 3 am. ■

Image courtesy of the breakers palm beach

f you live on the east coast, you are probably knee deep in that Calgon take me away moment where you’re sick of seeing snow, tired of bundling up and dreaming of a taking a trip far, far away. In the background of your daydream, you probably have one child calling your name asking you for juice, another telling you her nose is running and your spouse wondering if you’ve made the morning coffee. I say, it’s high time to pack up your stresses, call your best girlfriends and take a break. Whether it’s a girl’s night out or a getaway to a warm destination, here are some of our fave fives:

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babyTALK By Jennie Baird and Laura Wattenberg

Winter Tales

Don’t Be Snowed By This Hoax

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These names appeared on more than one website as baby name suggestions, often offered in response to a question like “what baby names mean ‘snow’?” The problem? They’re fakes. Each of these names comes from a list called “The Eskimos’ Hundred Words for Snow.” It was written in 1996 by an entertainer named Phil James. As a joke. Consider some of the other snow “words” on the list: ● Hahatla: small packages of snow given as gag gifts ● Tla-na-na: snow mixed with the sound of rock and roll from an old portable radio ● Depptla: a small snowball, preserved in Lucite, that has been handled by Johnny Depp In James’ list, the (made-up) syllable “tla” supposedly stands for plain “snow,” to which James adds many variations: ● Tlapi: summer snow ● Gristla: deep fried snow ● Mextla: snow used to make Eskimo Margaritas ● Dinliltla: little balls of snow that cling to Husky fur ● Tlarin: snow that can be sculpted into the delicate corsages Eskimo girls pin to their whale parkas at prom time James’ list (which, again, is a joke) plays on the popular idea that Eskimos have a large number of words for snow, enabling them to distinguish between fine-grained experiences of this ever-present weather 22

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Thinking of baby names based on the seasons?

phenomenon. As John Steckley notes in his book, White Lies about the Inuit, this supposed fact about the Inuit language is oft-repeated by people who should know better. In fact, Inuit has about the same number of root words for snow as other languages do — perhaps four. The confusion may come in because of the language’s design, in which suffixes can be endlessly added to roots to create longer and longer words, rather than (as we might do it in English) longer and longer sentences. The cliche about Eskimos’ 42, 52, or 100+ words for snow has proven so tenacious, though, that James’ joke-list has been apparently taken for truth. And words from the list still circulate as possible winter baby names. Seeking seasonal names? Go to NameCandy.com for our list of snow-related

A Role Mommy Magazine l February 2011

names culled from Namipedia. Or just read James’ list and try your hand at creating your own snow-related fake words. ■

Jennie Baird & Laura 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.

©www.istock.com/Lokibaho

oogling for winter baby name ideas, you’ll come across dozens of names deriving from words meaning “snow,” including these Inuitattributed lovelies: ● Akitla: snow falling on water ● Katiyana: night snow ● Shiya: snow at dawn ● Talini: snow angels

sweetTOOTH By Clay Gordon

Hot Chocolate

Sure, we love buying and eating chocolate, but what do we really know about buying the top shelf quality?

W

©www.istock.com/vikif

ho doesn’t love chocolate? But if you’re going to indulge, you should indugle wisely. Some

tips: ● Fresher is better. There is a direct relationship between freshness and qualitythe fresher or better, so start your search at a store that specializes in selling chocolate. When you’re looking for a good wine you go to a specialist wine store. The same logic applies for chocolate; you won’t find great chocolate at your local chain pharmacy ... chances are it was made six months or more before it got stocked on the shelf. ● Make the most of your flavor selections. The whole idea of gift givingespecially with chocolate- is to show you’ve been paying attention to the recipient and what they like, so the flavor selection should not just be an afterthought. For example, if you know the person you’re giving the chocolate to is not an adventurous eater, then steer away from exotic flavors like habañero or combinations like wasabi/ ginger. It’s best to stay with comfort flavors like caramels. If, on the other hand, you know they are an adventurous eater or a foodie then the sky’s the limit. How about – and I swear I am not making this up – rhubarb stilton with port wine reduction? ● Don’t give anything you wouldn’t eat yourself, or haven’t tried. Buy a piece for yourself and try it. It’s sort of like regifting but in advance, or giving yourself a little reward. And it makes you confident about the gift you’re giving, knowing you tried a piece and you really liked it. ● You don’t eat the box. Whether colored gold or blue, expensive packaging

does nothing to improve the flavor of the chocolate inside. Yes, it’s safe and convenient to walk into a store and pick up a big box that everyone will recognize from 20 feet away ... but what does it say about you? Were you really thinking about the gift or were you taking the easy way out, letting the brand make your point for you? Of course, if you know the recipient well and know that this is her favorite chocolate then go ahead. But, when you’re in the store, take a few extra moments and get a custom selection from the case, not the shrink-wrapped box from the shelf. ● Ask the person behind the counter for suggestions. Ask them what the most popular pieces are. They’re likely to be good and they’re likely to be fresh because of the high turnover. Also, ask them what their favorite pieces are- and why, and share with them what your favorite flavors are; between the two of you you’ll come up with a good selection. Finally, always ask to be shown the freshest items in the case. Something that just came in this morning that was made a couple of days ago is probably at the peak of gift-giving perfection. ■

Clay Gordon

TheChocolateLife.com Clay Gordon is an internationally-known independent authority on chocolate. He is the author of Discover Chocolate (2007) and is the creator and moderator of TheChocolateLife.com, an on-line community of chocolate lovers. projectyou

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coupleCONNECTIONS By Melissa Chapman

Yes, he gets on your nerves but...

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’d like to start this article off with this sentiment — that I have indeed found the magic bullet! Those ubiquitous few tips that, if one were to follow them would ensure she and her husband — would live in romantic, un-dying bliss for the rest of their wedded lives. But in doing so, I would be committing perjury! Because that fairytale notion that marriages are all buttercups and unicorns, well it’s just that, a fairytale. I’ll admit it- I too, as a young, 25-yearold bride to be was swept up in the butter cream fantasies of how many tiers my wedding cake would be, that I likely glossed over the fact that marriage would be so much more than having a permanent Saturday night date. But here’s the thing ladies (and gents) after logging 12 years in my 24

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marriage, keeping the spark and sizzle burning brightly has become a bit of a challenge. I think any of us who are really invested in our marriages, understand, sustaining their longevity, is about much more than just showing up and performing perfunctory duties like packing our kid’s lunches, making dinners and remembering whose turn it is to load the dishwasher. Most of us married couples understand that staying in sync on an emotional and physical level requires some roll-up your sleeves get down to business work. I’ll be honest- I’m the first to admit it is INFINITELY easier- falling into bed after a long day of dealing with kids, tantrums, Legos, dog poop and the occasional flooded basement- to either pass out or dive into my favor-

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ite book du jour. But ladies, I’m here to say that at least twice each week- (and try to spread it out if you can!) you should make a commitment- to your marriage, yourself and your spouse to connect on both a primal (aka SEXUAL) and emotional (intimate) level. And while I’m not a sex therapist or psychologist- I do write a relationship blog called Married my Sugar Daddy – and here are some tips that have worked for me! Uncork a bottle of wine and enjoy a drink…together. Yes that’s right- I’m all about getting nice and sloppy drunk in the confines of your home—when your kids are asleep and there’s no way either of you has any plans to get behind the wheel. It’s a great way to let down every one of your defenses, and can help the pressures, grudges and

©www.istock.com/NadyaPhoto

This Valentine’s Day—like everyday (it’s MARRIAGE, remember?—is all about keeping your love alive (at least once the kids are in bed)

anything else that ails you just fade into the background, Drink and allow yourselves to be silly and bask in the gloriousness of your union—( you can INTERPRET that in any way that feels right to you…if you’re feeling kinky and your spouse is game—GO FOR IT, or if it’s a great jumping off point to swinging chandelier sex—that ‘s good too). The alcohol is really just a jumping off point- to permit yourselves to shirk your usual roles and responsibilities for the night and just be together with this person to whom you are bound in so many more ways than just the legal ones! Stash the kids with a sitter and meet up at a restaurant where you arrive separately. Sometimes, getting all gussied up- i.e. trading in your ratty old robe for anything slinky- an outfit that makes you feel hot – can help you set the scene for a romantic interlude. There is nothing quite like waiting

at a restaurant or bar (and no I don’t mean the local coffee shop or diner— something a bit swankier than that), then seeing your man walk through the door, dressed up too and knowing that he’s making a bee-line straight for you. In fact, it will be hard not to feel those butterflies and the excitement of what can unfold. Remember to laugh. When people initially meet my husband and I, their initial reaction is, “Wow you two are SO different. And for all intents and purposes- we are—I’m an extrovert, he’s an introvert, and I’m a bit impulsive whereas he is anything but. But what most people who meet us don’t know is that we laugh...ALL THE TIME. Humor and joking and no, I don’t mean practical gag jokes, but his dry, witty, sarcastic sense of humor, is what has kept me so utterly attached to this man for the past 12 years. Even when the chips seem to be falling

down around us (and believe me we’ve had an avalanche of chips in the very recent past), we are always able to use laughter to get us through the rough edges. Ultimately, whatever you do, remember this—marriage is not a sprint- it’s a marathon- and each minute, hour and day should feel like an achievement. Now go uncork a bottle of wine and get busy! ■

Melissa Chapman

MarriedMySugarDaddy.com Melissa Chapman writes the blog www.marriedmysugardaddy.com and her weekly Staten Island Advance kids in the City column. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, ABC News, iVillage, Care.com, Baby Center, Babble, Time Out NY kids and Lifetime Moms.

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yourFINANCES By Susan Hirshman

Do you know your assets? Gain control of your finances by tackling them the way you would a diet.

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low our calorie expenditure over a period or want and what financial assets will be of time. The calories that we take in go one required to realize our long-term goals, of two places: Either they’re burned as you the longer we have to build an effective go about the daily tasks of living, including financial program that gets us where we exercise, or they’re stored as fat. With that want to go. Unfortunately, we all know how in mind, we can choose to have a bowl of easy and tempting it is to put off the start ice cream now, but only at the expense of of a  diet. The old mantra “I’ll start Monhaving to shed that extra five hundred calo- day” gets pushed off again and again until ries sometime in the futhat delay adds more ture. In the end, successpounds that you’re ful dieting boils down to going to have to get that ancient maxim “You rid of later. Contact Westchester Dad;  can’t have it all.” That same kind Michael B. Kislin, That’s true of financial of procrastination in CFA at michael.kislin@ planning, too. There are getting your finances mssb.com only two things you can in order is costing Steinberg Forman Group do with money: Spend you money every day. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Worse, just like dietit or save it. If you want A Boutique Wealth to build a solid financial ing, the longer you Management Practice future, you’re going to wait, the harder it’s have to make the congoing to be to start. stant choice between Think about metabospending and saving. If you spend now, you lism: It’s always easier to lose weight when won’t have that money later. Worse, if you you’re younger and your metabolism is nice spend more than you make, you not only and fast. Maybe you thought you could alwon’t have that money later, you’ll owe oth- ways stay thin without having to exercise. ers more money. But if you save instead of Then, as you get older, your metabolism spend, you’ll discover the great secret of starts to slow down, parts start to sag (and compounding (making interest on inter- sag some more), and suddenly you’re faced est.) with the unpleasant reality of having to The earlier we realize what we will need diet and go to the gym. The same is true

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Want to learn more? 

©www.istock.com/gchutka

n my work as an investment professional I have found that many women are following a very similar and flawed philosophy for their financial success. The philosophy is: My man is my financial plan. If this is your plan, ask yourself this question: If I don’t trust my husband to put his socks in the laundry bag, why would I trust him to have complete control over my financial future? Yikes! There are three typical answers to this question of why • You have neither the time nor inclination • You hate math • Your husband knows more These reasons may seem valid, but in reality they are all false. The truth is, you do not have to spend hours upon hours on your investment portfolio and you don’t need to be a math wiz. Nor do you need to always watch the value of the Dow or tune into business shows instead of your favorite reality TV. You just need to know the basics. The bottom line is this: The only person that is responsible for you is you. I say this with a heavy heart, because I have seen too many bad things happen to too many good women because they did not take an active roll in their own financial lives. Which is why I suggest thinking of gaining control of your finances the same way you do dieting. As we know, the key to healthy dieting is a time-tested set of common-sense principles including balance, variety, and moderation. And anyone who’s ever tried to lose weight knows these principles inside and out (even if she occasionally refuses to accept them or occasionally gets tempted by “quick-fix” shortcuts.) As luck would have it, this set of common-sense principals is the core to successful investment management. Think about it: The only way to lose weight is to reduce our calorie intake be-

Words to Know Appreciation: An increase in the market value of an investment. Asset: Something you own. Asset allocation: The process of dividing investment funds among the different categories of asset classes. Bearish: A bear thinks the market is going to go down. Bearish is the opposite of bullish. Blue chip stocks: There is no set definition of a blue chip stock, typically well-known, respected companies that have a good track-record

record of earnings and dividend payments. The name “blue chip” came about because in the game of poker the blue chips have the highest value. Bullish: A bull is someone who thinks the market is going to go up. Bullish is the opposite of bearish. Dow Jones Industrial Average: A price-weighted average of 30 actively traded blue chip stocks which are primarily industrial and service-oriented firms prepared by Dow Jones & Company.

in wealth planning, except the longer you wait to take control, the harder it may be to get what you want because you are not taking advantage of the miraculous power of compound interest. If you think about it, dieting is a four-step process. Set your goals- establish your short term and long term target weights. Determine your basic diet by deciding how much from each food group will be part of the diet. Choose the best foods within each allotted food group to be sure you’re getting balanced nutrition and avoiding the highcalorie foods with little nutritional content. Periodically weigh yourself to see how well your plan is working and what adjustments, if any, should be made. The same holds true for setting up your financial plan. Set your goals- What do you want to do and what will each goal require in financial assets? Goals are critical because they dictate the shape of your financial plan. They also provide discipline. Without goals it’s too easy to become susceptible to what ever is happening at the moment. Also, make sure that you and your spouse do this exercise together. I suggest each does it independently and see where you agree and where the gaps are. Too many times I see husbands and wives who have completely different goals, especially when it comes to prioritization. The boat may be a

Equity: Another word for stock.

securities in its portfolio.

ETF: Short for “exchange traded fund.” It’s a fund that tracks an index but trades like a stock. Fixed-income investment: A catch-all description for debtbased instruments that pay a fixed amount of interest. Mutual fund: A pool of investors’ money invested and managed by a professional investment adviser. The market price of the fund’s shares, called the net-asset value, fluctuates daily with the market price of the

“must- have” for the husband, while giving the children a down payment for a house is the wife’s. In order to plan, you have to have consensus. In the long run this may save you both a lot of heart- ache (and money). If you are having a hard time coming to an agreement, don’t worry. It’s a common problem and often is best handled with the help of a financial advisor. Based on your goals, determine how much of each asset class you will invest in to create a portfolio that has a good balance between risk and reward. In financial terms it’s called “asset allocation,” and all it means is balancing your investments among the “big four” asset classes: cash, stocks, bonds and alternatives Decide what specific investments you should have to implement your asset allocation strategy. This involves decisions about which stocks and bonds to include in your long-term portfolio. Don’t worry, you don’t have to pick your own stocks and bonds; just like food, they often come packaged. The typical packages are mutual funds, exchange traded funds, and annuities Periodically review your finances. Just as you weigh yourself to measure how well your diet is working, you will also periodically review your finances to be sure your plan is producing the results you want. If it is, fine, keep it up. If it isn’t, make whatever changes are needed to get it on track Use the buddy system to get you start-

Portfolio: The combined holding of stocks, bonds, cash and other assets (e.g., alternatives). Required rate of return: The rate of return needed to meet your goals. Return: The capital appreciation and income earned on an investment. Risk: Variability of returns. S&P 500: An index of stocks often considered a fair representation of the stock market in general.

ed and keep you on track. The people who have the best chance of success with weight-loss programs are those who have a support system because it helps them stay motivated. Both dieting and financial success come down to one word: Choice. Both disciplines require you to make the same kinds of decisions about instant gratification or delayed gratification on a regular basis. Start now by going on a financial date night with your husband. Ask questions about what you have and how your spouse has been making his decisions. The biggest risk to your financial success is not the stock market — it’s not knowing what you have. To come out of these tough economic times as healthy as possible leave the socks on the floor and get involved with your finances today. ■

Susan Hirshman MyFatAssets.com

Susan Hirshman is president of SHE LTD, a consulting firm focused on enhancing the financial literacy of women globally. She is the author of Does this Make My Assets Look Fat?, a women’s guide to finding financial empowerment and success.

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✽ 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. ✽ 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. ✽ 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. ✽ 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. ✽ 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. ✽ 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. ✽ 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 selfdoubt and procrastination to fearlessly creating a successful blog and online business that they love. ✽ 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! ✽ MamaBuzz Mel is a work at home, home schooling 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.

✽ 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. ✽ 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. ✽ 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. ✽ 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. ✽ Momma Young at Home is a blog dedicated to family life, crafts, recipes, reviews, giveaways and more! ✽ 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 slightlyless-popular-than-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-evil-but-shamefullyhandsome 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.

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! 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. Familyfriendly product reviews and giveaways are often featured. ✽ Woman Tribune is a daily-updated 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. ✽ Cristie Ritz King is a writer, wife and mom of three and performs these roles daily, in no particular order. She blogs about her kids, pop-culture and all things music and television related at The Traveling Circus and as a founder of Jersey Moms Blog. On her business site, The Right Hand Mom Cristie handles her role as Baby Planner and Parent Educator much more seriouslyalthough never too seriously. ✽ Confessions of an Overworked Mom is the place for busy moms to learn about eco-friendly, time saving, gourmet products. ✽ Shari Simpson is the editor of NJ Mommy Poppins and blogs at “Earth Mother just means I’m dusty”, where she expounds on mom-fabulosity, kissing pugs on the mouth. and bearing children in the nick of time before menopause set in. ✽ BabyNameWizard.com is the online home of baby name experts Jennie Baird and Laura Wattenberg. Baby Name Wizard’s addictive tools including NameVoyager, NameMapper and Name MatchMaker, are a fun way for parents andparents-to-be to explore a new world of naming choices. BabyNameWizard.com was named one of TIME’s 50 Best Web Sites and one of the American Library Association’s 30 Best Free Reference Sources on the Web. ✽ Skimbaco Lifestyle by lifestyle expert Katja Presnal, offers inspiration to live life to the fullest from latest trends to healthy living. Skimbaco means enjoying life in the moment, it is your modern carpe diem. ✽ Obviously MARvelous is a site that combines the life and adventures of Mar, a funny, tattooed, outspoken wife and SAHM of 3 with awesome product reviews and giveaways!

✽ 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

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My

d e i r r ma

Crush You have yours; he has his; together it makes for an honest marriage.

©www.istock.com/deeAuvil; ©www.istock.com/peepo

By Jeanne Muchnick

I

’m married – going on 21 years in fact – but have a crush on my cute, younger-than-me-still-has-hair allergist. And yes, my husband knows. He has a crush on Amy Adams. So, do I care? And are either of us in the wrong? (Answers in a minute.) Let me say up front that I have not acted on my crush – except for some innocent flirting – and have no intention of acting on my crush. I just like having one – and knowing that going for my regular allergy shots can often put an extra skip in my step. It should also be noted that Dr. S is married –14 years in fact. We talk about our kids. We talk about our lives. We banter. We joke. He puts a huge needle in my arm. I leave. It’s innocent. It’s harmless. (Though I’ll admit I never go to his office without makeup.) As for my husband, his infatuation is purely an “onscreen” romance, meaning he’s never met Amy Adams, will probably never meet Amy

Adams and simply catches views of his lovelorn on the big (or little) screen. He also admits to crushes on Diane Lane, Anne Hathaway, Laura Linney and Julianne Moore. Normal? Yes. As long as you a) keep it in the “fantasy” mode – meaning you don’t do anything other than giggle with your girlfriends over a cold margarita over your schoolgirl crush and b) if you tell your husband about. At least that’s what the experts say, though truth be told, I didn’t need to ask them because when I talked to my girlfriends they all said the same thing. “Helloooo??? For sure! We may be married but we’re not dead!”(Or some variation of yes, we’ve had crushes), though – interesting point to note: Tina Tessina, aka “Dr Romance” and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage (TinaTessina.com) says crushes tend to be most common among stressed young mothers “or women for whom life has become routine.” For some, it’s about talking to the handsome football hero that never gave you the time of day in high school — now, however, he’s the dad of your daughter’s friend — so you have reason to chat on the baseball field sidelines. For others, it’s simply basking in the undivided attention we no longer get at home (how many of us really look at our husbands in the morning before rushing to make breakfasts, drive carpools, pack backpacks, gulp a cup of coffee?). Or, they could be those “silent types” you see everyday filling your latte cup or delivering your mail. Paula Holt who blogs at Marital Musings (http://www.maritalmusings.com/marital_musings/), thinks it’s best to not know your crush well or have regular contact with said fascination (think the UPS delivery man, not the guy who sits in the next cubicle). She admits she has a crush on her father’s young, successful, athletic neighbor. “Well, had a crush might be more accurate,” she clarifies. “I think the fact that he rarely said more than ‘hello’ has something to do with me getting over him.”

The How and Why (Blushing Allowed)

Crushes are simply projected fantasies, explains Dr. Tessina. Whatever you may – or may not be doing — in your real life, you can do in the imaginary crush world. There is no responsibility to the person you have the crush on, so no real world relationship issues intrude. Many times it’s simply about hormones. “This is about being physically attracted to someone,” adds “Love Your Marriage Expert” Lesli M. W. Doares, a licensed psychotherapist in Southern. California and author of the forthcoming book, Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage: How to Create Your Happily Ever After with More Intention, Less Work (http://balancedfamily.com/).”Those feelings do not shut down simply because we are emotionally committed to our spouses. It is the same biological process that comes into play when we ‘fall in love’ and it’s not a problem as long as we recognize it for what it is.” If you were actually to act on your crush, you’d probably be very disappointed, seconds Dr. Tessina. This is why women 30

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For some, it’s about talking to the handsome football hero that never gave you the time of day in high school—now he’s the dad of your daughter’s friend—so you have reason to chat on the baseball sidelines have crushes on movie characters (vampires, spies, cowboys, cops) and also unavailable people (like a gay hairdresser or a married neighbor) who are not likely to become a reality. According to Doares, if we begin to compare the new and unknown with the same old same old, the new will almost always win out. “But in fact, we are comparing apples and oranges. We can’t unknow our partner, but it is important to realize we don’t really know our crush. We can imagine all kinds of wonderful things without any basis in reality.” The bottom line: As long as you know the difference between the fantasy crush and real life, you’re fine. If, however –and this is common sense — you find yourself acting on the crush, or becoming obsessive and neglecting your husband and family, then you’ve got a problem. “The emotional energy that is spent fantasizing about the hot doctor or the cute guy in the gym is natural and almost unavoidable but if you invest too much of yourself into that energy, it can take away your commitment to your spouse,” stresses, Clinical Psychologist Dr. Dana Fillmore, co-founder of StrongMarriageNow.com. For blogher, Paula, who’s been married seven years, the “ideal crush connection” should be a direct relationship between the quality of your marriage and the intensity of the crush. “The higher your marital satisfaction, the more you can blush and giggle when you see the object of your affection,” she says. “If you’re having marital problems you should barely notice when he is in the room.” (I like that she admits giving this issue serious thought while sitting in her car outside her dad’s house hoping the object of her affection would walk outside.) It also helps if the crush is not a secret. I’m quiet as a church mouse when my husband I go to movies that feature his “girlfriends,” for example, and rarely say an unkind word about them even when The New York Times critics (his bible) give them a bad review. Mark, on the other hand, puts up with my weekly visits to Dr S (mostly because I’m allergic to our dog who is his BFF), even when I tell him that in “another life” I could be living on easy street as the wife of a successful doctor (meaning not working, traveling to exotic locales and dripping with diamonds and pearls– hey it’s my fantasy). Paula’s in the same boat as me. She says her husband was prone to “laughing fits” when he’d see her flash her best smile at her father’s neighbor. Bottom line: “My husband was clearly was not threatened by my very one-sided relationship.” ■

©www.istock.com/Liliboas; ©www.istock.com/BlackJack3D

How My Valentine’s Day Went From ‘Suckey’ to ‘Great’

My unpredictable life H

ere we go again. Valentines Day. The day when all women think, “I hope he proposes,” “I can’t believe I’m alone, again,” “Dear Husband, please try not to blow it this year” or “Seriously, who cares?” I care and you want to know why? My ex left my house on Saturday, October 30th, 2004. Six years later, on Saturday, October 30th 2010, I fell in love for the first time in my life. I was married for 14 years and we always made Valentines Day a quasi big deal. We’d buy a gift for one another. He’d cook my favorite meal. I’d pretend to love him, you know, same old, same old. Then he left and for the next six years, I was Valentine-less. Please believe me when I say I was heartbroken year after year, the day would arrive and there would be no gift, no delicious meal, no pretending that I gave a rat’s ass whether my Valentine lived or died…it pretty much sucked. Of course, I wasn’t conscious of the fact that I honestly didn’t really even like the man. What I was conscious of, on that day, year after year, was that I was not alone and that was all that mattered.

By Jessica Bern

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I waited 45 years for the moment when I wouldn’t have to settle for an olive and instead ended up with a coconut crème pie and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to celebrate that. I never had a long-term relationship until I met my now ex-husband. The longest I’d gone was about three months before I’d realize: He was going to dump me soon so better to be the dumper than the dumpee OR He was not perfect and I had no choice BUT to leave. And then, I met my ex. I confess, I knew with him, the chances of being the “dumpee” were minimal and although he was far from perfect, I didn’t care. It was kind of like when you’re really hungry. You know how you get to a point that you’ll pretty much eat anything? Well, the same holds true in relationships. I was starving. I saw an olive standing there, staring at me and although I can’t stand olives, that was the only thing they were “serving” so I went for it. Eating that olive meant I now had a date every weekend. I had someone who

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celebrated my birthday who didn’t go by the name “mom” or “dad.” I had someone to go to the movies with, concerts, out of town. It didn’t matter how I felt, I HAD A DATE WITH AN OLIVE, DAMMIT! It’s now six years later and as Valentine’s Day approaches it has a whole new meaning for me. Why? Because I’m no longer celebrating that I’m not alone, which we all know has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day and everything to do with my crappy ass childhood and the fact that anti depressants weren’t even around until I turned thirty. Instead, I’m celebrating the real meaning of this day...LOVE. Sound corny? Dude, it IS corny. Half of me just walked out of the room because the other half looks like she’s going to start bawling. But the thing is, it’s true. I waited 45 years for the moment when I wouldn’t have to settle for an olive and instead ended up with a coconut crème pie and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to celebrate that. All my adult life, I didn’t know what it meant to be in love. Then one day, someone said to me: 1. You owe me for last week’s session and 2. You will know love because it’s that same feeling you have for your child, the one where sometimes you feel like your

A Role Mommy Magazine l February 2011

heart will explode which is then quickly followed by a need to ask them to please hang up their clothes. I was in shock. That was it?! I couldn’t believe it. Before that, I had taken all my relationship cues from Danielle Steele novels. I had waited years for my eyes to take on an almond shape, a palomino horse to come trotting into my condo and a guy named Jacques with houses on three continents to sweep me off my feet and yet, all I had to go was give birth, wait for the Internet to be invented, put my profile on line and Bingo. Who knew? When one door opens six years later another one closes. ■

Jessica Bern BernThis.com

Jessica Bern is a single mother to a 7-year- old girl, a money sucking dog named Teddy and the ex wife of a man who left her for his mother. She writes BernThis.com, where you she blogs all about it and where you can watch the Bernthis web series she created about a neurotic woman’s journey through her weekly visits to her therapist’s office. She also offers dating advice at RoleMommy. com.

By Ross Ellis

©www.istock.com/Terryfic3D

I’m lucky – I found my passion and have been living it for more than 12 years. It’s a great feeling and even in bad times I wake up and look into the mirror and smile because I’m happy helping others. But not everyone is so lucky. And quite honestly, it can take a while to figure out what your passion is and then follow it. For me, it took a long career in the corporate world and owning several successful businesses, to lead me down a new path. Someone had told me about New York Cares which was a fairly new volunteer organization. I called and set up a meeting with the Executive Director and we spoke about various opportunities. I knew I wanted to work with kids and wanted to do more than paint school fences or read stories to children. So we created a plan with a local teaching hospital where I granted wishes for kids with cancer and leukemia. This grew into leading monthly volunteer groups in the play area of these wards at the hospital which made such a difference for the kids. Eventually I joined the Starlight Foundation as a volunteer wish granter and fundraiser. Most of the kids I granted wishes for were loved and well taken care of (as opposed to those I had seen in the hospital who were often neglected), but there were a few parents of these very ill children who should never have been parents. That finally led to the birth

Love what you do Following your passion is one way to live the life you want

of Love Our Children USA™ in 1999 and I’ve never been happier helping these children who are abused, neglected, abandoned, and even bullied and cyber bullied. All of which is a longwinded way of saying: It may take several twists and turns to discover your passion to help others, but it’s not impossible! Passion Changes You. Rather than follow others’ perceptions of what you should be doing, open your heart and discover what you want to do to help others. Passion is anything that fires the soul.  That fire in your very being lifts everything in your life.  That’s why passionate leaders are so effective.  Here, my tips on helping you get out of your rut and into your passion. Learn what are you good at? Have you always been a good writer, speaker, drawer, organizer, builder, teacher, friend? Have you been good at ideas, connecting people, gardening, selling? Give this some thought. Take at least 30 minutes, going over this question — often we forget about things we’ve done well. Think back, as far as you can, to 34

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jobs, projects, hobbies. This could be your passion. Or you may have several things. Start a list of potential candidates. What excites you? Change is born when you see something that you feel just isn’t right and you raise your voice to stop it from continuing. Make a list. Look around your community, observe what is happening, the relationships among people and between society and the earth, the opportunities available to all, and any other reality you feel may be important. Ask yourself, What do you see that makes your blood boil? Why does this make you angry? What have you heard about in your neighborhood or the global community that you believe is unfair or unjust? What injustices do you see in the world that you wish could be reversed? What do you read about? What are the causes and issues you look forward to reading? What blogs do you follow? What section of the bookstore do you usually peruse? There may be many topics here — add them to the list.

A Role Mommy Magazine l February 2011

What have you secretly dreamed of? Add that to the list — no matter how unrealistic. Learn and ask questions. Make a list of things you need to learn, need to improve on, skills you want to master, people to talk to. Experiment, try. Look for organizations that support causes that are important to you personally. Every one will want your help. “There are so many nonprofit organizations out there that need talent. If you haven’t begun already, start! Maybe you already are doing it. But if you haven’t been, start now. Pay attention to how you feel about volunteering for a specific cause. Is it something you look forward to, that gets you excited, that you love to share? Find the time. Don’t have the time to pursue this passion? Make the time! If this is a priority, you’ll make the time — rearrange your life until you have the time. This might mean waking earlier, or doing it after work or during lunch, or on weekends. It will probably mean canceling some commitments, simplifying your work or doing a lot of work in advance. Do what it takes because by not living your passion to help others can make you feel unfulfilled. Start slow: Choose one or two to focus your passion to help others. Once you’ve done that you’ll find that you have just reached down and connected with your soul on a deeper level. Isn’t it great? ■

Ross Ellis

LoveOurChildrenUSA.org

is a parenting, bullying prevention and cyber safety expert and the Founder and CEO of Love Our Children USA, the national non-profit leader of child violence prevention. She also works with other top Internet Safety Advisors and created the program STOMP Out Bullying (StompOutBullying.org), which focuses on reducing and preventing all forms of bullying. Ross writes for the Examiner and is a ‘go-to’ expert to MomLogic.

A WEIGHTY

DECISION Confronting the 200-pound gorilla in the room

Yes, folks, I weigh more than 200 pounds but through motivation and Mama-vation, I plan on losing it. Follow me.

Patricia Walter-Fischer is determined to get fit and healthy with a little help from Mamavation.

Two-hundred and fifteen pounds. I blinked, took a deep breath, and weighed myself again. 2-1-5. The numbers flashed on the display like the marquees on the Vegas strip. Enter the five stages of grief. Denial—No, there’s no way I weigh this much. The scale is lying! Anger—Damn cookies, ice cream, Mexican food, BBQ, chocolate, cream in my coffee… Bargaining—Wait, don’t I subtract for water weight, coffee, I’m dressed, oxygen, because it’s Tuesday? Depression—I’m such a loser. Why can’t I get a grip on what I’m eating? Acceptance—Well, I do weigh this much so what am I going to do about it? Understand, this process happened in less than five minutes. I knew when I got on the scale to enter an online contest by Mamavation (www.mamavation.com), I had to face some numbers I didn’t want to admit. I’d procrastinated, making my entry video because of ego, or more spe-

By Patricia Walters-Fischer projectyou

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Emma Kate Fischer just born and my sweet husband, Steve, was there every second.

cifically embarrassment. No one wants to admit they are 85 pounds more today than when they graduated high school. Add in my BMI (38), waist (38”), body fat (43%) and I’d graduated into the morbidly obese range, the stages of grief rotated through my head again. Breathe. Just breathe and decide where you go from here. I’d promised myself 2011 would be a better year for two things: my writing and my health. My writing stalled in 2010, but already I’d found the fire to put my fingers to the keyboard and begin creating again. As for the weight, well, that hadn’t found its catalyst yet until late December when I found Mamavation. This website where women compete for prizes during a seven week-competition. The one who loses the most percentage of weight, wins $500 and some very cool, Earth Wear shoes. Think The Biggest Loser, but the home version. 36

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I can do that. I can be anonymous, hidden, and no one will know anything. I wanted to enter, I needed to enter, but I didn’t want to face those numbers. Plus, I had to make a video of why I should be in the challenge and get people to vote for me. WHAT? It’s one thing to think you know what your weight is. It’s another to actually see it, then put it out there for the entire world to see? Are you kidding me? Fighting with myself for a good two weeks, I wavered back and forth between do it or run and hide. On the last day I could enter, I made my video. Admitting all those facts and figures made me wonder how I’d even gotten here, but I already knew that answer. I grew up in Texas where the staples are meat, bread, and dessert. All of it very good tasting and cheap to eat. I had grandmothers who showed their devotion to all of us by cooking incredi-

A Role Mommy Magazine l February 2011

ble meals made from love, fat, and sugar. Anytime we had a family get together, no matter how small, it required eating something—a cookie, piece of pie, sandwich, side of beef, something. No one sat there without eating. It’s like that scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding when the mom asks Ian if he’s hungry and he says, “Oh no thank you.” She smiles and replies, “Ok, I’ll make you something.” As a child and through high school, I stayed well within my normal range. Despite my body perception, I wasn’t overweight. When I hit college, I gained ten pounds the second semester of my freshman year after I got pneumonia and took the bus instead of walking everywhere. After entering the nursing field, I kept my weight stable even though I worked nights, but when I hit thirty, I gained 35 pounds in a year. During that time, I moved, worked sixty-plus hours in trauma and ate at weird times. I didn’t workout regularly and used food for entertainment. Ironically, this is when I met my husband. Within a year, we married, moved, started our lives, and began a family. Since we’ve been married, I’ve weighed as little as 172 and as much as 230 the day I had our daughter. Don’t we look pretty? Hanging out with the girls, Emma (left) and Katelyn (right).

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Fishing at my parents’ house in late 2010. Have fished since I was 2 years old. After seeing this photo, I was horrified at my size. At that moment, I made a promise to start actively changing my weight and improving my health.

At 215 pounds — the most I’d weighed outside of pregnancy — I felt defeated and confused on where to begin, but hope arrived. After making the video, I felt I’d dumped a good twenty pounds (although it didn’t make a damn bit of difference on the scale) of grief. The process ended up being cathartic and productive. Last week, I discovered I’d been chosen to be a contestant in the Mamavation Move It or Lose It sevenweek challenge. I get resources to help me lose weight and a support system. I found those who had voted for me were also incredibly encouraging and positive, wanting me to succeed. These were the people I’d been hiding my numbers from? Now I wonder why. I can’t promise to anyone, including myself, that this adventure won’t be difficult, but what I can promise is I’m done hiding from everyone, even me. My goal is not only to motivate my-

self, but help others simply start. I look forward to showing you my journey to wellness and help you realize that it’s never too late to begin again. ● Blogging at 40FatAndFrustrated. com ● You tube video for mamavation entry at www.youtube.com/ watch?v=s98tWYkniLg ■

Patricia Walters-Fischer 40FatAndFrustrated.com

Patricia Walters-Fischer, RN, has been writing professionally since 1997. Prior to her writing career, she worked as a pediatric and adult trauma nurse, but has struggled with her weight for years. Presently, she’s a contestant in the Move It or Lose It Mamavation challenge and her goal is to drop 10% of her body weight and motivate others to simply get started.

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Walking

as Healing My mom was an athlete. She wanted to be a gym teacher but was told by my grandparents that “nice Jewish girls” didn’t do that. So, she taught fourth grade, but would spend her free time playing tennis. Or swimming. Or biking. Anything that involved challenging herself. She even attempted golf in a lastditch effort to keep her husband (my Dad) in her corner. As it turned out, she was a better person on her own (they eventually divorced). That’s when she could do her own thing without the burden of pleasing someone else. She became Ms. Independent, and started her own entrepreneurial business, traveled to exotic destinations, sampled the latest restaurants, met new friends, and held numerous dinner parties — her philosophy being the “more the merrier.” By Jeanne Muchnick 38

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©www.istock.com/skodonnell; ©www.istock.com/carlosalvarez; ©www.istock.com/mbogacz

How a 60-mile walk got this self-proclaimed “couch potato” up and running for a cause.

WalkingAsHealing And always: remained active. Most of my memories are of her are in her tennis whites, hitting another grand slam (she beat most men!). I, on the other hand, am no athlete. I hate exercising. Though she forced me into tennis lessons at a young age, I never caught the bug. Nor did I play sports in school like my sister did. I was more of a bookworm, content to hang out on the couch. But then my mom got breast cancer. And my sister and I watched her deteriorate. Amazingly, she kept up her passions. When she could no longer compete as a champion tennis player, she took up speed walking. When that became too difficult, she traded in her sneakers for a bathing cap and swam laps at the local community center. When one task became too arduous, she found another. She moved on with courage, uncommon strength and a smile. The glass was ALWAYS half full despite six surgeries, seven years of chemotherapy and the constant reminder of living with a fatal illness. If there is any good in her long battle

with cancer, it’s the relationship my sister and I built with her over the years. Perhaps with death always looming in the imminent future, we were better able to express ourselves and share quality time. She taught me to take every day as it comes, to not take life too seriously, and to do today what can be put off until tomorrow. Her illness also strengthened the bond I have with my sister. We are each other’s best friends despite the fact that we’re VERY different. She’s a LOT like my mom – always up for a party, and forever looking on the bright side. She’s also a stellar athlete. Which is why when she asked me to join her in the three day, 60 mile Susan B. Komen walk in Los Angeles to benefit breast cancer, it was hard to say no. One: because I couldn’t let her do it alone (you sleep in two-person tents). But two, because the LA dates coincided with the exact anniversary of our mom’s death eight years ago. Despite my worries that I could actually do it (since my exercise “regime” consists of chasing after my kids), something inside triggered that part of me that feels passionate about beating this god-dammed, awful disease that took my mom’s life at the ripe young age of 61. Walking became my passion: my method of healing – of proving to myself that emotions rock, and that with the help of the other amazing women (and men!) that I met (not to mention, my fabulous, blisterfree sister!), that my emo-

tional state could override my physical pain. The Santa Barbara walking group that I ended up hanging out with can attest to the fact that I had my “moments” – there were MANY times I felt the heat and the blisters and the sheer exhaustion almost overwhelm me. But then I’d stop and listen to their stories; their “connection” to breast cancer, and I’d “rev” up again and realize I wasn’t alone. I’d try to put one step in front of the other, the way my mom did – and the way countless other survivors do every day: to concentrate on the here and now as opposed to the road ahead. In the end, I made it — and actually finished in the top 400 out of a total of l,l40 walkers. And though I can’t say for sure that I’d sign up again, I can say that I was never happier then when I was side by side with my sister, wearing our Adele’s Girls t-shirts, knowing our mom was looking down on us, cheering us on. ■

“Something inside triggered that part of me that feels passionate about beating this god-dammed, awful disease that took my mom’s life at the ripe young age of 61.”

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sk any football loving fan what their dream date would be and nine times out of 10 he’ll say tickets to the Super Bowl. As my fatherin-law always says, “you can’t put a price on a good time,” so if you’re considering biting the bullet and treating your significant other to the ultimate “Man Date,” follow this game plan and you’ll come up a winner: Super Bowl Tickets You can reserve seats for the big game on StubHub- Ticket prices start at $2200 all the way up to nearly $400,000 for a coveted spot in the Hall of Fame Suite. If you’ve just won Powerball, then the Super Bowl Hall of Fame option is definitely for you. The best thing about Stub Hub is that fans are constantly buying and selling tickets on the site so you should keep checking back to see what’s available or hedge your bets, and lock in right now! Flights While you can always hit the websites for your favorite airlines, my suggestion is to head over to Trip Advisor where you can select whether you’d like to

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