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A Huge Mistake Many Women Make

Check out this little e-card going around on Facebook and tell me what you think. [I’ll wait.]

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Being that this is my blog, I’ll go first, ‘kay?

Equality and respect for women has been quite the hot topic of conversation lately. Women in the workplace is an ongoing online debate… female reproduction has become political fodder… and even the United Nations has announced a plan to combat violence against women. We ladies have made huge strides over the past century and, with hard work and determination, we can continue to blaze a trail for the future of our daughters and granddaughters.

But ladies… we will never, ever, ever get where we need to be if we continue to spread stupid, male-bashing “jokes” like the one above. It’s one thing to perpetuate stereotypes among the sexes (however sophomoric), but to laugh over violence against men when we’re fighting so hard to stop abuse of women? That’s a dangerous double standard.

Read the above card again and reverse the role of male and female. Tell me, does that feel right to you?

Birthday Invitations at School: All or Nothing?

With Lunar New Year coming up, people are gearing up for the year of the dragon. In my house, it’s all about the year of the party. Because while my money and sanity-saving idea of only allowing kid birthday parties every other year (as opposed to every bday) was brilliant last year, this year, I’ll be paying for it — literally — when my kids get their choice (within reason) of a party to celebrate the day of their birth.

First up, it’s Lucy. Turning 5 on February 1, Lucy wants to have a party at the local indoor swim school. (No worries, I thought ahead last year and bid/won the party for a fraction of the price at a school auction.) The party includes ten guests, with an added cost for additional guests. Normally, I’m a firm believer in including everyone in the class if you’re going to do a party with more than just a few close friends, but considering she has well over 20 kids in her preschool class, won’t know 90% of them in another six months when she moves on to kindergarten and the fact that the party revolves around water (eeks!), we’re going to skip the “whole class” invitations and let her hand pick some friends. But that’s hard to do when our little spitfire is so damn social.

After making the decision to pick and choose, I got a little curious… what do other parents do in this situation?

Do they invite every classmate to their child’s birthday party? To find out, I did what any other busy, Internet-addicted mom would do — asked Facebook.

Barbara: If I had it to do over, I’d only invite their friends.

Kourtney: Not unless you’re loaded or psychotic:)

Maggie: Nope…..don’t invite any…..friends/family only

Kim: Nope!

Nirasha: I would.

Colleen: No way. I read once that you should only invite the number of kids that correlate to your child’s age. (6th bday…6 friends)

Cheryl: Yes….good way to get to know the kids your daughter is around…but it should be up to your daughter

Tiffanie: Invite those who are friends. I also try to reciprocate for invitations received. And, encourage an invite for a new friend – the kid who doesn’t get invited to anything, but I leave it up to my kid.

Mike: We invited all of them when there were 10 kids in a pre-k classroom. With 20 or so in a grade school class? No way. The age rule is great…

Wendy: Just went through all of this. We only invited a small group cause that’s how we roll in my family. We stressed the importance of discretion. I’m glad we didn’t do the whole class. Everybody is very sweet but the cost and the extravagance were not an option.

Cynthia: You don’t have to invite all. Just be careful of friend circles. It hurts to be left out; use outside of school invite method to help avoid hurt feelings.

Lisa: This is a never ending question for me and I’ve gone both ways. At the age of our kids, I prefer inviting all, but they do not all come and for that matter, many don’t even respond. I do it because while they are still this young, their feelings would be hurt if they were excluded, so I’m tryingn to preserve that for as long as possible. I’m not trying to protect them forever, but teach them that their job is to include, and whomever chooses to come, that is up to them. For Logan’s this year, we handpicked instead of the whole lot and it worked well, but I struggled with excluding some of the kids…

Ramona: If we do a public birthday, we’ll invite a few of the closest schools friends, all ‘our’ friends who have kids that are friends and all family.

Melissa: Our school supposedly does not allow invitations to be handed out on campus, so that those not invited will not have their feelings hurt. That’s not to say that word of mouth will not reach their ears. I limit the Invite List to 10. I let my daughter choose 6.. the other four are also her friends, but “must invites” due to being long-time family friends. Some of the kids she chooses are in her current class, some are from previous years. We can’t afford to invite the entire class, nor do I necessarily want to deal with a huge party. I do tell my daughter that she should not discuss her birthday party in school so that those kids who she didn’t invite won’t get their feelings hurt. It has worked out well so far.. and this is our 3rd child. Did the same for our boys when they were elementary school-aged, too.

Stacy: Only if I want to give myself the shingles, otherwise, no. small and manageable is always more fun… for m

Sandra: No. I’d rather poke out my good eye.

Alyson: Hell to the f*$@ing NO!!! Was that harsh???

Terri: Yes, if it’s kindergarten or first grade. Other than that let them pick a few friends they play with all the time and invite then.

Amy: I had a horrific experience with my 12 year old daughter when she was in second grade. She was one of two girls in her class not invited to a party. She found out the day of the party that she was not going. The kids were told “not to tell”. Of course they did. She was so hurt that I allowed her to think that I had lost the invite and we missed it. I have been able to refer to the situation over the years when talking about hurting people’s feelings and feeling left out, she now knows what really happened. Another mother actually told me that afternoon that the kids were not supposed to talk about it, not really sure that is a great message to a little one, not to mention not realistic! I am not a big fan of big birthday parties, my kids got a big one at 5 and then at 10. I keep it to a couple neighbors and family. When I have done the big parties, it was all the girls in the class or none. Hope this helps, as you can tell I am a little scarred from this.

Suzanne: My daughter is 11 today and she is all over me about her “friend” party….my first thought “how much is this going to cost me and how many kids does she want at this party” Geeze!!! To answer your question, no, I will not invite all the kids in her class!!!! Then, we are talking a bank loan !!!

Kim: No. I luck out w/my son because his bday is in the summer. He’s not in school so nobody has to hear about it. He just invites the friends he always hangs out with, plus family, and we have a cookout. My daughter is in K and in November we only invited the girls in her class. We do our parties at home and 12 girls running around here, the parents that insisted on staying, plus family was more than enough. There are over 700 kids in our Elementary school, each class has about 25 kids. If I invited boys and girls it would be way too much !!

Andrea: Absolutely. One yr my son was ONLY kid not invited. Explain that to a five yr old. From now on, I say yes…unless girls/boys only. Kids at school talk and hurt feelings happen easily.

Lora: I’ve been on both sides of this fence. I understand completely what Andrea is saying, but it is much worse when you invite the entire class and nobody rsvp’s or shows up for the party… (This actually has happened to one of our children and there was nothing we could say or do to make him feel better – It sucked!) I think it’s much safer to invite close friends and family who you can count on to attend the party and stick to sending treat-bags to school in honor of the Birthday child. It’s rare for a child to turn down a treat bag and this usually makes the Birthday child feel special for the day! On the flip side- We have invited the entire class and everyone showed up, even those who didn’t bother to rsvp! It was a crazy madhouse and I hardly got to spend anytime with the Birthday boy! Kids were everywhere and into everything – Never again! LOL…

Carolyn: Last year was my first time having a “friend” bday party for my daughter, I only invited the girls she played with, the invitations were mailed to their home. My son’s first friend party is next month, and I will be doing the same. After reading some of these posts, I like the 5 yr and 10 yr friend party.

Dawn: When they were little I invited all the kids and handed out invites at school. Now that they are older 8, 11,12 we only have small parties and invite friends on the phone – no paper invites. I’m almost done with parties!!! Just today, my 11 year old told me that a boy in her class was handing out invites and told her he didn’t have any more. Doesn’t that suck????

Catherine: I would say yes for a preschool class. We have [my daughter’s] 5th coming up and we have allowed the kids to choose something special for that year….will probably be [an indoor play area]…which you pay the same for 5 kids or 20 kids. I did invite everyone from my sons Kindergarten class last year (cough…panic)…34 kids. I figured only half would show up (it was summer ). He is so shy that I thought it would help to see classmates right before 1st grade started in August. We had it at the park next to his school…so it more like a large play-date. During Kindergarten last year…moms would pass out a flyer saying they would be at the park for so and so’s bday…no gifts…just to play and they brought cupcakes. Pretty simple…if the school is next to a park. :)

Jen: So glad you brought this up! Been really struggling with this exact senario! I LOVE planning fun themed parties at home each year. However, being that it’s in April (and usually rains) it’s hard to invite a ton of kids. We only have so much space for them to run indoors. Last year we had a dozen girls for a Fairy Tea Party and while nice, it seemed a bit overwhelming. A fact that my daughter forgets. This year she wants both boys and girls and she’s asked about friends from both this year’s class and last years. I considered letting her hand pick a few to come plus her closest pals (not from school) but then I hate the thought of someone feeling left out. There are about 18 this year plus 5 from last year and then 10 of her closest pals and their siblings. PLUS family. Having them ALL is just not an option. I feel bad cause we’ve already been to parties where the whole class was invited. But it’s easier when it’s held at a public place and they can run. Really, what can I do but either have 2 parties or just keep it to close family and friends. Think I have to go with the latter and save my sanity…and wallet!

Funny, I was pretty solid with my decision before reading some of the comments from my FB friends. I have a lot to consider…

What would you do?

Intentions for a New Year

For me, 2011 has been a year of tough lessons, personal growth and major transitions. But instead of complaining, I am feeling grateful, because without 2011 I would not have found clarity, purpose and direction.

I think it began days before my 40th birthday last April, when one of my major clients had a huge shift in direction and I (along with hundreds of other people) found myself with a lot less work and a little extra time on my hands. While it was a blow to the wallet, I decided that, instead of jumping into another monster project, I would take the opportunity and step back from the insane juggle I was performing and breathe. My plan was to give myself until the new school year to figure out what it is I really wanted out of life.

In June, I took a trip to Boston with the kiddos. Jeff stayed back in LA to work on a project for Food Network and the three littles and I flew back to join my 12 siblings and their families for my dad’s 75th birthday. It was during that trip that I got my first taste of uni-tasking, focusing on just one thing at a time. For over a week, we lived out of backpacks, slept in an RV, made simple plans and spent time with family and friends. There was no house to run, bills to pay or deadlines to meet — it was exhilarating.

I returned to southern California a changed woman. I was committed to slowing down and smelling those roses. For the next few weeks, we enjoyed lazy summer days, stayed up late for “nighttime swimming,” ate our share of s’mores and initiated the very first Friday pizza/movie night, something that remains on our calendar whenever possible. We relished in our new, simpler life and I was moving closer to being happy.

In fact, I was so excited about my new found uni-tasking/happiness connection, that I began working on a post called “Why Multi-tasking is Bad for Your Health.” In a time when people text and drive, eat on the run and have panic attacks when not constantly connected to technology, it’s no wonder we’re more overweight, unhealthy and stressed out than ever before. Never mind that when you’re focusing on too many things at once, the quality of work, relationships and potentially your entire life suffers. Would we strive to multi-task if we really knew the negative ramifications?

I never did finish that post. I was halfway through it when my family suffered a huge loss and I found myself writing a series of posts titled “The Tragedy that Changed My Life” (look for something to be published in the coming days). Little did I know when I began my quest for a more simple, meaningful life, that something so unthinkable would be the very thing to validate my new life direction. I was more committed than ever to cut out the B.S. and make important, positive changes to improve myself and my family.

Next thing I knew, my uni-tasking, soul-searching summer transitioned into a new school year, filled with homework, social skills classes, behavioral aides and some life-changing decisions — but still no work. I had just spent six months working on becoming the mom I wanted to be, getting our home life in order and prioritizing what’s truly important, I couldn’t even imagine doing all of that while juggling clients. It was like my spirit was a hard drive that was spinning and spinning and I had to stop and re-boot or else I was going to crash. I just never expected the re-boot to take so long.

But as fall arrived and the leaves began to change, so did I.

I began to miss my spark, the one I get when I’m feeding my mind and soul. My heart was overflowing with love for my friends and family but I was missing the other side of me, the side that wears pants without elastic waistbands and drives outside of the four mile radius around home, school, the park and grocery store. With my priorities now clearly in place and a new understanding for what things must be done and what can wait, it was now time to put myself out there and get my own needs on the calendar.

So I started to get a bit more involved with our production company, Morgan MacDougall Productions, and now co-host Broadscast, a weekly Web radio show with best selling author and victims’ advocate, Kim Goldman. I’ve worked with clients on social media training and a bit of video production while Jeff takes on Food Network, Oprah and Yahoo. I began to push myself physically by jumping into a group of P90X challengers with a fabulous (and free) online coach and even enjoyed a weekend away with girl friends.

It was during 2011 that I discovered my own personal quality of life equation — a balanced mix of feeding my heart, mind and soul through relationships, self discovery, tearing down obstacles and treating myself with the same love, patience and acceptance I try very hard to provide those I love. As millions make resolutions to lose weight, stop smoking or save money, I will use this fresh new year as an opportunity to re-affirm my intentions by taking the lessons I’ve learned over the past year and apply them to my life in new ways. I will spend less time worrying about the kitchen floor and more time to play with my kids. Instead of answering emails or checking Facebook while waiting for kids to get out of school or sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, I will take a few minutes to just sit quietly and allow myself to recharge. When I ask my husband how his day was, I will really listen (that’s right, honey) and give him the love, support and encouragement I promised in our vows nine years ago. I will look at healthy eating and exercise as the solution to so many unnecessary problems instead of feeling deprived and defeated by what I can and cannot have. I will read more, judge less, speak kindly (most of the time, anyway) and breathe more deeply. And I will grab the professional bull by the horns and show ’em who’s boss.

Alright, enough about me. What are your intentions for 2012?

Toothless and the Stanley Cup

While the Bruins were skating their way to their first Stanley Cup in 39 years, 7-year-old Jacob enjoyed a first of his own — we’re guessing it’s because he wanted to be a little more like those hairy-faced, toothless hockey champs.

I learned one harsh, important lesson from tonight’s events… (read below after the video). But before we get to that, here’s my question: How much do your kids (and those you know) get from the Tooth Fairy?

I asked some of The Silver Whining friends on Facebook and this is what I got.

Stephanie‎ 2 bucks…start high and you just have to go higher. My ex [sister in law] gives $20 a tooth.

Anabelle I know people to give twenty bucks a tooth, I think that’s insane! At our house, we sprinkle a little fairy dust and they get a shiny gold dollar coin… They love it!! Sometimes it’s just in the magic not the amount!!

Valerie First tooth, 5 bucks. After that, whatever the tooth fairy feels like giving. Sometimes it varies, depending on how much cash the tooth fairy has on hand at the time of the tooth falling out…lol

Stacey I give $5 for the first w/ a pack of sugar free gum and $1 for each tooth after.

Sunnie Well… if baby teeth need to be pulled then that needs to be taken into account. The Tooth Fairy gave $20 – first tooth, had to have it pulled … VERY traumatic

Tamara Our tooth fairy also brings shiny gold dollar coins.

I want to hear what happens in your house.

Now to the lesson: Never, ever, ever have a week’s worth of laundry sitting half-folded in your living room. No matter how many years pass and we watch this event unfold (pardon the pun), I will always cringe when I see the mountains of clothing awaiting me.

Now, if only that tooth fairy had a sister who did laundry.