Maria Dismondy : Blog http://www.mariadismondy.com Latest Blog Entries from Maria Dismondy, Children's Book Author CGFeedMaker 1.0.16 on CMS Made Simple allison@pureheartstudios.com ( ) Latest Blog Entries from Maria Dismondy, Children's Book Author http://www.mariadismondy.com Maria Dismondy : Blog http://www.mariadismondy.com/uploads/CGFeedMaker/maria-stars.png Your Child's FIRST Teacher http://mariadismondy.com/2015/3/childs-first-teacher

It's simple. We are our children's first teachers. We have to take responsibilty in raising these little humans. So much of what they learn is by watching us. 

 

But what if you don't have training as a teacher? What if you aren't creative or you are not sure what is appropriate for your child's age? This is where Pinterest is your answer. Ladies and gentlemen, everything you need to know to teach young children is all pinned to one big bulletin board. 

 

For children ages 2-5, grab a blank calendar. Search the following key words on Pinterest. Literacy, preschool, crafts, painting with kids, abc activities, teaching numbers, cooking for kids, etc.

 

Now start pinning to a board designated for your at-home learning. I also write the name of the activity, craft or lesson on my calendar so I can visually see it without having to pull it up on my phone. 

 

Now following through with some of these activities is key. Find a reasonable and realistic rhythm that works for you. If we don't get everything done on my plan, no big deal. But I do my best to stick to our screen time limits and give my kids the opportunity to play and create at home. I know this isn't easy for all families but I want to offer an alternative that you may not have known about (all of these ideas already created for you via Pinterest!)

 

I find time for about 45 minutes, 4 days a week when my youngest is napping and my oldest is in school. I found that I can prep while the kids are playing and I can be in the room cutting our shapes for our next activity. I try my best to make it work because before I know it, these children of mine will have other teachers influencing them (which is great!). 

 

Pinterest is a wonderful place to organize all your plans. Mix up your crafts, lessons and activities with reading, writing, gross motor, fine motor, science and math themes.

 

We get this one chance to give the gift of knowledge to our children. Otherwise, we might be saying something like "I could have, would have, or should have down the road as we look back.

 

Here are two great boards to start with if you are working with preschoolers.

 

Homeschool Board

Literacy Board

 

 

 

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Literacy Family-Fun Tue, 03 Mar 2015 00:55:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2015/3/childs-first-teacher
Photo Contest http://mariadismondy.com/2015/2/photo-contest

I'm excited to announce a really fun photo contest. Children share what makes them special. The teacher or parents tag the photo with a few hash tags and post it out on social media. The school with the most posts at the end of the weekly time frame wins! The prizes are super fun, including free books, chocolate milk, author visits and more! 

 

Please share away! Send this link to your teachers and PTO/PTA presidents to help get the word out. The following social media platforms may be used: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

 

One concern schools may have with photo contests is the privacy of students but we've taken care of that! Children's faces do not need to be seen to be a part of the contest. 

 

Giveaways Tue, 24 Feb 2015 00:34:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2015/2/photo-contest
The Juice Box Bully App http://mariadismondy.com/2014/12/narrative-app

I received an email from a speech pathologist that she had created an interactive app via a program called Tiny Tap that revolved around one of my books, (co-written with Bob Sornson)The Juice Box Bully

 

So I did what any other mother and author would do, I put the app to the test and let my kindergartener play it. 

 

The result? Success! It wasn't so much a game as it was a learning activity (which I love as a parent)

 

Thank you Ellen Weber over in Georgia for this interactive lesson. I noticed you have created several others too and we will be checking those out as well! Here is a link to Ellen's Tiny Tap Collection!

 

You can find the app here.

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaways Make-A-Difference-Monthly Character-Traits Literacy Book-Reviews Thu, 11 Dec 2014 00:19:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/12/giveaway-icanmakeadifference
Gift Ideas for the "Hard to Buy For" Person http://mariadismondy.com/2014/12/gifts-final-in-series
Here is my final post in the three-week "gift" series.

 

Gifts for the person that is SO HARD to buy for...

 

1. The Gift of NOTHING-for real. Check this out.

 

2. Choose something from the World Vision Gift Catalog. We just heard a speaker at MOPS this week talk about the TRUE meaning of Christmas. The gift of giving. She mentioned this catalog and the VERY NEXT DAY it was delivered in my mailbox. A sign?

 

In this catalog, you can donate toward school supplies, clothing, and food for children around the world or here in America. You can purchase solar-powered lanterns to villages, sponsor a child for Christmas, bicycles for girls (did you know that in many countries, girls drop out of school because they are afraid of being assaulted on the long walk to and from school?), life saving medicines, and much more!

 

3. Gifts made with love-How about a homemade gift for that hard to buy for person? They are all over Pinterest! 

 

4. A letter-put down your heartfelt feelings in a handwritten letter and give that as a gift to someone you love. Our speaker on Monday night said she's heard of a grandparent writing her grandchildren a letter every year that goes in their stockings. As they got older, she bought them all wooden boxes to store these special letters.

 

5. And then....there's always gift cards! 

 

Holidays Wed, 03 Dec 2014 00:35:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/12/gifts-final-in-series
Unique Gifts for The Kids http://mariadismondy.com/2014/11/unique-gift-ideas-children

This week I am sharing some of my favorite gift ideas for children. 

 

We have a big family and when we had our first child, we decided to give just one gift from us for Christmas and Santa delivers three gifts under the tree. Something to wear, something to read and something to play with. Three gifts just like the three wisemen delivered three gifts to baby Jesus. It helps make Christmas memorable for our kids but at the same time, we don't feel overwhelmed and glutenous about the amount of gifts coming into our home.

 

1. Themed Ornaments: Each year we get each child an ornament that relates to something they are into that year. For example, one year my daughter was OBSESSED with Mary Had a Little Lamb so her ornament was a little lamb. This year the girls are both getting a Disney Princness ornament and the baby is getting a First Christmas ornament. 

 

2. Memory Game: I love that you can make this with your very own photos! 

 

3. Family Journal: This gift is the gift that keeps on giving! Create a journal for you and your daughter or you and your son. It's a place to write them letters and for them to eventually write you back. My daughter and I have had one since she was four and I will cherish these notes that go back and forth forever! 

 

4. Personalized Book: We are huge fans of shutterfly books over here. Making a special book for a child can be a treasure they adore! Think of a fun theme like "ABCs of _____" or "_____'s Favorite Things"

 

5. Personalized Bracelet: My five-year-old loves her personalized bracelet we got her for the start of kindergarten. You can come up with the saying or use one of the examples on this Etsy site.

 

6. Sleeping Bags: These treasures have been lifesavers for us! When we go away to visit friends out of town, the girls love sleeping in their sleeping bags and it means we are no longer packing pillows, blankets and the blow up mattress! 

 

7. Books-Look for books based on your child's interests then check for a quality message in the story. You can't always have both but with a kittle searching it's possible!

 

8. An EXPERIENCE: I heard this idea on a Podcast recently and it's a good one. Instead of a gift of something, how about a gift to do something, together? Go on and make some memories. Here is a list of ideas for children and adults!

 

Children's "Experience" Gifts:

  • Zoo membership or season passes to other venues
  • Tickets to a musical, movie or play
  • Pass to a jumping place like Pump It Up
  • Gift cards to Build-A-Bear 
  • A certificate to go horseback riding

 

 

Adult "Experience" Gifts:

  • Tickets to a comedy show, musical, play, movie
  • Bowling
  • A helicopter ride
  • Hotair balloon ride
  • lessons (cooking, dance, etc)
  • spa treatment
  • gift certificate to babysit your friend's kids

 

 

 

 

 

Holidays Tue, 25 Nov 2014 00:55:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/11/unique-gift-ideas-children
Unique Gift Ideas http://mariadismondy.com/2014/11/unique-gift-ideas

This week I thought I would share some of the unique gift ideas I've purchased, plan to purchase, or wish I had someone to purchase something like this for! These are mostly adult gifts and next week I will share unique gift ideas for children.

 

1. Prinstagram: They offer these miniature books. I ordered the spiral bound ones last year for my girls and this year I got the tiny magnetic ones (pictured) You do have to have pictures on an instagram account to make these. I ordered my husband a 2015 calendar filled with instagram pictures. I've used IG as a place to store our day-to-day and in an easy location I could go back three years to get photos to make these gifts!

 

2. A cute and FREE Michigan printable, add it to a 5x7 frame and you have a gift!

 

3. Red Nail Polish + this cute tag = Rudolph the Red Toes Reindeer. I like this gift idea for a small $5-$10 gift idea for our dance teachers who I like to get a little something for.

 

4. Heirloom Recipe: Take a special recipe and frame it along with a picture of your loved one who always made the recipe. I haven't made this but love the idea! 

 

5. Papa/Dad Shirt: I had this made for my husband when our second child was born. It says Papa: established in 2009 (the year our first was born)

 

6. Beer Bottle Labels with Your Pictures: I loved this website Pinhole Press. I ordered the beer bottle labels on it for my dad and husband one year for Father's Day but think they would make great holiday gifts too!

 

7. Table Topics for Families-cards that have conversation starters on them. We have a pack and use them at dinner time from time to time!

 

8. Travel Map-know someone who travels alot? This map is awesome! You scratch off the places you have traveled! 

 

9. Pontoon Ornament: I had never come across the perfect ornament for my husband until I found this pontoon boat! You can personalize it too! 

 

10. The Red Plate: this plate has a beautiful tradition and is a great gift to give to a family with young children.

 

11. Last but certainly NOT least, a 2015 calendar: My friend Maggie designs this awesome calendar that helps you to "celebrate nearly everyday for unexpected reasons" 

 

More gift ideas on a few of my Pinterest Boards:

Christmas

Gift Ideas

Gifts for My Little Ladies

 

Holidays Tue, 18 Nov 2014 00:30:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/11/unique-gift-ideas
Thanksgiving Preparations http://mariadismondy.com/2014/11/thanksgiving-preparations

Part of this blog is inspiring families and those that work with little ones to make each day count. In order to do so, sometimes

big celebrations take preparations and that is something that I am good at! My friends all joke with me about my organization and my ability to think ahead. Let's face it, it's a strength but it can also be a weakness too!

 

This is what I do, I go on Pinterest and have a blast making a board of all the things I think look fun, appropriate and realistic for my family.

Then I take some time clicking on the links and making a list of what supplies I need to create these crafts, games and/or foods. As a reminder to myself, I write these down in a list of on my homeschooling calendar. I've also been known to grab a picture of the image from the web and stick it on my computer desktop to serve as a reminder to do this activity. Then I am ready and prepared and on those days that seem so long but are short at the same time being a parent, we have something to do that is festive and puts us in the holiday spirit! 

 

Here are some of the activities I've pulled for the next few weeks:

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip: I am using this as an appetizer for Thanksgiving.

 

Paper Roll Turkey Craft: This is a quick craft for children ages Preschool-5th grade

 

Thankful Jar: I shared this jar with all the mamas in my MOPS group. Take an empty spaghetti or mason jar and print out these quote thankful cards. Have family members fill the jar with things they are grateful for this month! All printables are FREE DOWNLOADS!

 

Thanksgiving Coloring Pages: I printed a few of these off to have on hand for coloring or taking q-tips and using them to paint (not too messy painting!)

 

A Thanksgiving Game: This teaches addition too!

 

Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt: We did this last year. It was great to get the kids outside for a bit during a family function.

 

Placecards for our Thanksgiving Dinner: It's a craft activity to make these!

 

Mini Turkey Pops: We are making these for a treat to give as a favor to our guests this year.

 

Thanksgiving Photo Booth Props: Why not? I can't wait to get my aunts and uncles in our little photo booth on Turkey Day!

 

Other things to prepare right about now:

  • Holiday Cards. I love giving and receiving cards. I've done it several different ways but am always looking for a good deal. This year I designed my own card with a template purchased for $5 from Etsy (you use the template to import your photos and edit your text in Photoshop) Then I use the Custom Design option at Costco. The cards are $.69 and come with an envelope. My girls help me put stamps on the envelopes and to seal them. They also use holiday stamps to decorate some of the envelopes. I send my cards out the weekend of Thanksgiving.
  • This year I made a New Year's card for schools and clients I have worked with this year along with a little freebie I am including in each card.
  • Gift Giving: I use this planning sheet to plan out my shopping. I started in Octoer and am a little over half way done. I like to spread out the spending over a few months other than having one big credit card bill! I also don't like to do things last minute! 
  • I am also planning a Mickey Mouse First Birthday that will take place at the end of December. How did this happen?How is my baby boy going to be one???
Holidays Family-Fun Tue, 11 Nov 2014 05:24:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/11/thanksgiving-preparations
Last Minute Halloween http://mariadismondy.com/2014/10/last-minute-halloween

The title of my blog is Be The Difference. For three years of writing here, I have been inspired to share ideas either of my own or gathered from the web, to my readers on ways you can Be the Difference in your own child's life, the lives of children you work with, in your own life or in the lives of those around you. Halloween is at the end of the week, here are a few fun ways to get in the spirit!

 

Halloween Jokes: Click here and print out these silly jokes. Put them in your husband's work bag, your child's lunch box or leave them on your student's desk before they come into your classroom for the day.

 

Fall Tree: If you have a few paints and an empty toilet paper roll, you can get this creative fall tree craft started in your home! 

 

Healthy Halloween Snack: Surprise your children with this cute and spooky snack made with bananas and clementines.

 

Roll A Pumpkin Game: With dice and a blank piece of paper, children of all ages can get into this game called Roll a Pumpkin or dance along to The Skeleton Song!

 

Five Little Pumpkins Sitting On A Gate: Here's an illustrated version of the Halloween song for kids to sing along to on YouTube.

 

Halloween Bingo: Print out a few cards, have the neighborhood kids over after school and play a game of Bingo!

 

For more simple Halloween crafts and games, follow my Pinterest Board here.

 

And older Halloween post on my blog with a really sweet glue ghost craft.

 

 

Holidays Tue, 28 Oct 2014 00:48:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/10/last-minute-halloween
Disney World Tips http://mariadismondy.com/2014/10/disney-tips

We've been home for a week and there are so many things I would like to share with you about our trip. I am going to try and keep it as simple as possible! Here goes...

 

Planning a Disney Trip:

  • Ask your friends to share their pros and cons of their Disney Trips
  • Pinterest has some great information but it can also be overwhelming. When I started to feel like I was on information overload, I stopped reading information!
  • There are Disney Consultants, like Sarah, who can help you plan a trip. I bet there are also Travel Agents too.
  • Disney is expensive but there are many different options for several different budgets.
  • The Disney App lists out your entire itinerary for the parks. I also used this free download.
  • Get the family excited with a countdown. I made one like this.
  • We bought a meal plan and it truly did make things smooth but I know you can get by without it.

Some of my favorite meals:

  1. Dinner at Grand Floridian Café
  2. The Luau Show at The Polynesian
  3. Whispering Canyon Café at The Wilderness Lodge
  4. Lunch at Belle’s Castle, Be Our Guest (in the Magic Kingdom)
  5. Breakfast at Cinderella’s Castle (in the Magic Kingdom) with the princesses (the food wasn’t super but the restaurant was sooooooo cool and the experience was unforgettable!)
  6. Lunch at Tusker House in Animal Kingdom. This was a character meal which meant Mickey and some others walked around the restaurant for the kids to meet them. The food was super ethnic—Indian dishes, etc.

 

Fun Tips:

  • Try not to worry about the money. It’s expensive but it’s also Disney. Remember there are budgets for everyone!
  • Do not pack flip flops for your kids to wear at the parks. Think comfort, not fashion. It’s a lot of walking and I saw some very sad kids trying to keep up with their families falling out of their flip flops.
  • Using the boat for transportation was the quickest if you have the chance to use this form of transportation from your hotel.
  • Use your fast passes---and sign up before you get to the park. 
  • Every moment doesn’t need to be planned. We worked around meal reservations and were laid back at the parks. We would hang around the section of the park where our fast passes were around the time and get all the events, parades and rides in that section.
  • Communicate with the family about emergency plans. What if someone gets lost? What is the plan between you and your husband as to when to call it quits (Dave and I kept checking in to see what the other parent thought about how much longer we could keep them out without a meltdown happening.)
  • There are a ton of shops and we kept telling the girls to keep their eyes out for the ONE souvinier they would choose on our last day. That worked!!!! They weren’t demanding toys and requests which was nice.
  • If I did it again or I could go back and do it again, I wouldn’t have purchased the Memory Maker Photo Pass. I always had my cell phone and camera and there are hundreds of people to ask to get a family picture for you. The quality wasn’t professional.
  • Make reservations for all your dinners. It is extremely hard to eat at a nice place without a reservation.
  • We used a grocery service to have some staples for our room. It was  https://www.strollersandgroceries.com
  • Matching shirts are big in Disney. Go for it! It was actually easy for me to keep track of my girls with their matching outfits.
  • Bring a change of clothes if your daughter is dressed in a princess costume. Chances are they are going to want to change or it will be really hot and you don't want her in a polyestor costume!
  • Consider bringing a stroller for all children under 7. You can rent them there too. It wasn't a pain for us to bring ours, it helped transport the children in the airport.
  • We wore mickey ears in the airport to Disney and it was very festive. So many people commented about our trip and it made it even more exciting for everyone (especially me!)
  • You can wear a button if you are celebrating something. Each time you eat a big meal and they see the button you get a huge cupcake. After a few days, my girls buttons were “lost” Umm…. Yes, I tossed them. I couldn’t handle the treats.
  • If you have someone going with you, go out to one of the parks for date night. We had fun going on big kid rides at night.
  • I wish I would have known that it would all make sense once I got there---I had a lot of worry and anxiety about the trip especially because I planned it all. I felt like everyone’s happiness depended on me. Do some planning and show up. Within 20 minutes there you will get how it all goes.
  • The quick service meals in the park are not super healthy or good. Beware. We loved our meals at The Polynesian Luau, The Grand Floridian Café, and Whispering Canyon Café (The Wilderness Lodge)

 

 

 

Family-Fun Tue, 14 Oct 2014 00:37:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/10/disney-tips
Magical Vacation http://mariadismondy.com/2014/10-disney-soon

Disney World, it was everything I dreamed it would be for my children. I can't wait to sit down and write my tips for you but we just returned late Sunday night. I will share what I learned from others that was helpful and I will tell you what I learned myself to help you have a magical trip. Look for it next Tuesday. Until then, I will leave you with a sneak peek...

Family-Fun Tue, 07 Oct 2014 00:13:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/10-disney-soon
Spaghetti The Musical http://mariadismondy.com/2014/10/1/spaghetti-the-musical

It's official, Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun The Musical has debuted. To find out more information about booking the musical at your local theatre or school, contact Stars Within Reach!

 

I am super pleased with the musical and think it brings my book and the characters to life. It has been a whirlwind since I first heard that the book would be adapted into a children's musical and I am so happy the time has come to share Spaghetti the Musical with the world!

 

Author-Adventures Wed, 01 Oct 2014 00:07:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/10/1/spaghetti-the-musical
Welcome Fall http://mariadismondy.com/2014/9/welcome-fall

It's a new season and just like THAT, if we don't make a plan to savor it, the days will fly right before our eyes. My most popular video this year has been the one I posted on making summer plans for your family. Let's keep that positive momentum...

 

Take a few extra minutes to print off a cute Fall Bucket List, sit your family down and ask them to list all the things they would like to do this fall. My five-year-old gathered up leaves in a big bucket today for us to jump in. She may be a little early but she gets the concept of savoring the season and all the activities that it can bring!

 

 

Family-Fun Tue, 23 Sep 2014 21:52:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/9/welcome-fall
How Our Family Battles the Common Cold http://mariadismondy.com/2014/9/battling-colds

Four out of five Dismondys have a common cold. Call me crazy, but I go into "mind over matter" mode when I get sick. Thinking positive and keeping the complaining to a minimum seriously makes me feel like I will be healthy sooner than later.

 

I go through a list of our favorite remedies and go to bed looking forward to waking up healthy again. When that doesn't happen, I try again by going through the list again and going to bed hopeful that my body is healed! I have NO medical training so I can't tell you that these remedies are for everyone or that they have real healing benefits but they work for our family! How do YOU battle the common cold?

 

1. Healing Broth: I make a big batch of this broth and freeze it in mason jars. I use the broth in cooking through out the fall and winter months and I also put it in sippy cups for the kids when they are coming down with something. Click on the link at the header to learn about all the wonderful benefits of homemade bone broth.

 

2. Chicken Soup: I use the healing broth to make an easy, go to chicken soup recipe. It was what we had for dinner tonight!

 

3. Epsom Baths: A warm bath with epsom salts is a great way to end a long day. Click on the link to read about how these baths can help detox the body. Did you know these baths can help with migranes too?

 

4. Emergen-C: This drink mix has loads of Vitamin C in it. I prefer the super orange flavor above the others. This is a MUST for keeping in our cupboards during the fall and winter months.

 

5. Essential Oils: I have a plan to go to a party to learn more about the benefits of essential oils but over the last few years, our family has used lavender on our feet before bed to relax and help us sleep, peppermint with a humidifier when we are sick and tea tree oil to help disinfect toys. 

 

6. Sleep: I used to live on 5 and 6 hours of sleep but I have found that I am actually a better mom on 7 or 8 hours of sleep a night! I have more patience and with three little ones, I need all the patience I can get!

 

7. Water: The main drink in our house is water. We send our kids to bed with water and I sleep with a full glass next to my bed which is empty when I wake up. My mom was a great water role model to us growing up----she always had a large glass of ice water with her. 

 

 

Health-and-Wellness Tue, 16 Sep 2014 00:10:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/9/battling-colds
Photo Book Ideas http://mariadismondy.com/2014/9/photo-book-ideas

When Shutterfly offers me a free photo book, I never pass up. Wait, let me be honest. There was a coupon expiring once and we had just had our second daughter and we were in the hospital. I had my husband bring my computer to the hospital so I could finish the book and I fell asleep. It never happened! So I HAVE passed up a free coupon but just once! But, I do drop everything to make a free book when I can because they are pretty awesome.

 

The Shutterfly 8x8 book is normally $29.99 for 20 pages and a hard cover plus around $8 in shipping. With the coupon, I pay for shipping and that's it. We LOVE browsing our photobooks that are displayed in our family room. They remind us of stories to tell our children and prompt fun conversations. 

 

Here are some ideas for books that I've either gotten from the Shutterfly site or ideas I've come up with along the way:

 

  • Building our new house
  • All About Grandpa Dan (my husband's father who passed away. This book is a sweet way to keep his memory alive for our children)
  • ABC Book. Each of my girls have one. A is for Auntie Angela, B is for Busia---I make up the alphabet with things in their life accompanied by pictures of course!
  • Maria and Dave baby pictures. This one is fun to look back on to see who are kids look like while my husband and I were little.
  • Celebrate Everyday. This was an idea book from Shutterfly. It was before we had kids---I took pictures that depicted what we did on a daily basis. It looks VERY difference now!
  • Instagram pictures---I love IG for taking pictures to document our day to day. I put all our pictures in a book over the course of a year.
  • Pregnancy Books-I made one with each pregnancy. Pictures of my belly growing, cravings, gifts, visitors at the hospital, etc. 
  • The I Love You Book. I mimicked a favorite book of mine, The I Love You Book by Todd Parr. I love you when you are sad, I love you when you are happy, etc. Along with photos!
  • Summer Fun-For the past two years I have made a book of our summer activities.
  • Special Trips-I made a book when my oldest and I went to New York for a trip.
  • A Vocabulary Book-I made a book with beginning words and pictures to match when my daughter was learning to talk.

 

Family-Fun Literacy Tue, 09 Sep 2014 00:42:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/9/photo-book-ideas
Spaghetti World Tour Finale http://mariadismondy.com/2014/9/tour-finale

Thank you for all of my readers who participated in the Spaghetti World Tour. I had a blast getting to know new friends and hearing about your fantastic travels. 

 

Congratulations to the winners!

 

Longest Distance from my PO Box in Wixom, MI  Australia (over 10,000 miles!)

 

Cutest Model with Lucy at The American Girl Doll Store in Chicago, Illinois

 

 

 

Most Creative photo was taken at the NASA Museum in Houston, Texas

 

 

Best Landmark was taken in New York with the Statue of Liberty in the background. Lady Liberty represents freedom and that is my mission in writing, to give children the FREEDOM to be themselves! 

 

 

Author-Adventures Tue, 02 Sep 2014 00:21:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/9/tour-finale
Preparing for Kindergarten http://mariadismondy.com/2014/8/lunch-ideas

I am getting ready to send my oldest daughter off to Kindergarten. Reading all of the blog posts floating around Facebook are making me so sad! We opted for 1/2 day which is making the transition a bit easier (for me, and I hope for her too!)

 

In preparation, we have gone school supply shopping and she picked out a lunch box and a backpack too. 

We purchased her uniform and we have been reading lots of books about being brave, friendships, kindness, etc.

 

Last but not least, I read through a bunch of my pinned ideas of lunch box meals on Pinterest. While I love looking at the fancy pictures that are pinned on my Recipes Board, when the day-to-day rush of making lunches begins, I can't imagine I will be pulling out my phone to look up adorable alternatives to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. So, I did what I do best, I compiled the ideas I liked and thought were healthy, (with some help from my friends on a girls night out!), realistic and out of my normal box of thinking.

 

Feel free to download this list of lunch, snack and Thermos ideas to hang in your own kitchen!  Lunch Ideas PDF

 

In order to prepare for the emotional send off, I went on Etsy and ordered my daughter a special bracelet that I will give her on the first day. It's the perfect size, made just for  little ones. There are a number of sweet sayings to choose from but I created my own, based off something I learned in a radio interview I did a few months ago. A dad started repeating this saying everyday his daughter went off to school from the time she was a little girl and she said it stuck with her forever! "Remember who you are and what you stand for!" Love it! The first half is engraved on the outside of the bracelet and the second half on the inside.

 

 

 

Family-Fun Health-and-Wellness Tue, 19 Aug 2014 00:06:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/8/lunch-ideas
Family Fun-Geocaching http://mariadismondy.com/2014/8/geocaching

We tried out a new family activity: Geocaching 

What is this you ask? Read below to find out!

 

From the Official Geocaching Website: Geocaching is the real-world treasure hunt that's happening right now, all around you. There are 2,469,490 active geocaches and over 6 million geocachers worldwide.

 

Can you believe it? Millions of treasures already hidden and waiting for you and your little ones to find! 

We downloaded the app and set out last week on our first two missions. The first one was in a wooded area and we traded for a treasure. The second find was a size extra small and did not contain a special trinket. This was a learning experience for my daughter who was very upset treasures were not available in all of the geocaches. 

 

We tried for a third find on Sunday and failed! There are different levels of difficulty, a number of terrains and as mentioned before, the sizes vary too. Sometimes there are hints to help you out, but in this case, there were none and we needed all the help we could get!

 

It's a fun family activity that can be done any place and almost anytime. Check out the informational videos that help you get started! 

 

 

Family-Fun Tue, 12 Aug 2014 00:29:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/8/geocaching
Fairy Fun http://mariadismondy.com/2014/8/fairy-fun
My summer video series is over. My kickstarter project is 1/2 way over. I am committed to consistently blogging again. I have some fun stuff to share in the next few weeks. Check back every Tuesday.

 

We are fairy crazy over at our house.

We love searching for fairy doors in a small town by our house (every store front has a fairy door along with a story book to tell you about each fairy), browsing the fairy gardens at the local nursery, reading fairy books and as a part of my daughter's summer bucket list, we recently built a fairy house!

How to build a fairy house:

1. Make a plan. What needs to be done to create your fairy house? Write it all down, step-by-step.

2. Design a fairy house plan on paper. What will it look like? What materials will you need?

3. Purchase materials (Home Depot) and decorations (Michaels's)

4. Let your dad saw the wood and help you with the nailing.

5. Take a nature walk to look for more decorations for your house like twigs, bark and more.
6. With a parent's help, use a glue gun to attach the decorations. Paint empty areas of the house to add some pizazz.

7. Find a special spot in your garden for your fairy house. You can make your own fairies or buy some at your local craft or gardening store.

8. Remember an important job of a garden fairy is to help your flowers bloom! Watch the fairy magic take place now that your fairies have a special house to live in.

 

Notes: My husband and I may have enjoyed this project more than our girls. It was fun because it took several days and outings to complete!

 

 

 

Family-Fun Tue, 05 Aug 2014 00:37:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/8/fairy-fun
Share & Spread http://mariadismondy.com/2014/7/share-spread

 

The kickstarter campaign is off to a slow start which is not good. But I am remaining positive and thinking out of the box. Schools are contacting me about possible pledges from their PTO/PTA which is awesome. 

Check out the rewards for schools below and please share with your contacts!

 

Can you pick one or more of the following actions below to help me on this diversity initiative? If you have no idea what I am talking about, start here and learn about my Crowdfunding Project!

 

1. Pin the image on this page to your Pinterest (possible boards: Books to Read, Contests, For the Kids)

 

2. Share this blog post with 5 friends via a link on email and in turn ask them to share it with 5 friends---let's start an email tree!

 

3. Post a message with this link or a direct link to my campaign page to your Facebook Account. http://kck.st/1nplgvf

 

4. Contact organizations you know that believe in the campaign's mission: inclusion, diversity, empathy, kindness, english as a second language and more!

 

5. Email me at info@mariadismondy.com for a PDF and/or Powerpoint of the campaign to share with PTO/PTA board members to consider. Below are some of the amazing rewards for schools that pledge! 

 

Pledge $500: 

—You will receive a classroom kit to donate to a class of your choice (or school) 
—A PDF lesson guide, 10 copies of the book
—A virtual visit with the author via Skype
—Plus a thank you email, fancy bookmark, access to exclusive project updates.
 

Pledge $900:

—A classroom kit that includes the PDF Lesson Guide and 20 books PLUS…
—A ½ day author visit at an elementary school in Michigan! The visit must be scheduled for April or May of 2015. 

 

Thank you friends and followers! I BELIEVE in funding this project. It's a huge goal and it's very scary putting myself out there trying to crowdfund such a large amount but never say NEVER! Keep on, keeping on!

 

 

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Literacy Mon, 28 Jul 2014 00:02:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/7/share-spread
Kickstarter Campaign is LIVE! http://mariadismondy.com/2014/7/kickstarter-live

Remember WAY back in January I said 2014 would be the year of "change" "growth" and "different" for my business? Well, here I am taking a major risk (mainly to my EGO if the financial goal is not met) and raising money via a Kickstarter Campaign. The initiative only runs for 30 days and if I don't meet my fundraising goal for the project by then, the project is dead. It's an all or nothing deal! 

 

Please take a few minutes to watch this video about the project. If you've read my books, or you know my personality, you know that I strive to make a difference in the world each and every day. I believe this new book I have written will do just that! Help me spread the word to your network of people and respond to the call-to-action that we need more diversity in children's literature!

 

Link to Campaign HERE.

 

Character-Traits Author-Adventures Literacy Thu, 24 Jul 2014 00:59:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/7/kickstarter-live
Having a Blast! http://mariadismondy.com/2014/7/spaghetti-tour-so-fun

I am having so much fun watching fans post photos of Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun from around the world!

Here's a brief video going over the new prizes that have been added. I have two judges who work in the children's industry that will help me choose winners to announce on September 1st, 2014.

 

Keep it up fans! Way to play along!

 

Author-Adventures Giveaways Wed, 16 Jul 2014 21:39:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/7/spaghetti-tour-so-fun
Spaghetti World Tour REVISED! http://mariadismondy.com/2014/7/spaghetti-world-tour-revised

The Spaghetti World Tour is off and running! 

 

I've been posting pictures as soon as readers send them to me (this has been so much fun!) A friend brought up a good point: Won't people want to quit if they see a picture posted from a far away country, knowing their vacation here in the States won't compare? This is so true. So I've added MORE prizes and MORE categories to win other than the picture taken farthest from my PO Box in Wixom, Michigan.

 

Thank you for participating and sharing this fun contest with your family and friends. I get a little competitive myself and I am thinking I would like you guys to get  as close as you can to having my book, Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun in a picture taken in every state in the US! Let's do it!

 

More Prizes: all pictures will be judged by a panel of three judges---to be announced soon!

 

To be an official entry-the picture does have to be of either an actual book or a printed picture of the cover because that is what was determined at the start of the contest. I love how people are using iPads and Smartphones to take pictures but those won't be official entries because they are not following the contest rules.

 

New Categories:

Most Creative: $50 Amazon gift card 

Cutest Model(s) holding Spaghetti in A Hot Dog Bun: $50 Target gift card

Best Landmark: $50 Barnes & Noble gift card

 

 

 

 

Giveaways Family-Fun Fri, 11 Jul 2014 00:37:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/7/spaghetti-world-tour-revised
Book Review: Notes From A Blue Bike http://mariadismondy.com/2014/7/book-review

I'm taking a break from my weekly video series to work on my kickstarter video. I thought I would share a book I recently read with you. I 

guess it has something to do with being in my 30's and putting a huge emphasis on balance and 

simplicity, but this book resignated with me. It's called Notes From A Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider.

 

The author of the book writes about simplicity in certain areas of her life. She uses examples from her own life, raising three children, dabbling in homeschooling and 

her role as an entrepreneur. I could relate to her being a mom of three young children and working from home running a small business. It was a quick read and I saved several quotes to go back from time to time. Here are a few tips and/or quotes I took away from the book:

 

  • Rotate my weekly meal plans every other week to make it easier on myself. Duh! Why didn't I think of that?
  • "The problem with doing everything is that you have no time for doing nothing" by blogger Myquilyn Smith.LOVE THIS! I heard a speaker this year who coached a bunch of us moms on how to say "NO" It's a beautiful word to learn to say!
  • The author learned from another author about having a tangible symbol (they both had a rock) in her office that represented working with intention--knowing that your gifts and limits, callings and opportunities sometimes need a "no" and being at peace understanding the difference. 
  • "Your home is the most significant place during your kids' childhood. The power of influence by having your kids home---making space for them to explore books, open-ended toys and the outdoors instead of filling them with a schedule full of classes or sports--one at a time is fine. Giving them the gift of free time so they can unhurriedly learn about themselves and the world around them." I loved this because I struggle with feeling like I need my kids signed up in a bunch of things because that's what their friends are doing.
  • The author noted research that supported the positive effect having books in your home for children to read can have on their reading abilities early on. I have witnessed this with my daughter. We keep books everywhere in our home, even in the car, so she has access to learning. We don't force it upon her, they are there for her to explore at her own leisure. Her love for books happened early on and so did her ability to read independently. Now, each child is very different so we will see what happens with our other children!

There was a great story about a fisherman that the author shared. I found a version of this same story out in internet land to share with you.

 

The businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The businessman complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied only a little while.

The businessman then asked why he didn't stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs. The businessman then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time? The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos; I have a full and busy life, señor."


The businessman scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and I could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats; eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the processor and eventually open your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City where you would run your expanding enterprise."

 
 

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But señor, how long will this all take?" To which the businessman replied, "15-20 years." "But what then, señor?" The businessman laughed and said, "That's the best part! When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions." "Millions, señor? Then what?" The businessman said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."

The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, "Isn't that what I'm doing right now?"

-Author Unknown

 

 

 

Book-Reviews Tue, 08 Jul 2014 00:20:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/7/book-review
Vlog #7 An Author's Job http://mariadismondy.com/2014/7/vlog7-authors-job

I had a reader request a video for her students to hear all the things an author does (besides writing). I even forgot things after I recorded the video like all the writing I do on other people's blogs and websites! Thank you for the requests on videos. I think this is a really good one for students. Keep those suggestions coming! 

 

 

Photo Caption: Here I am in a Skype call networking with other authors. A really fun part of my job!

Author-Adventures Thu, 03 Jul 2014 00:14:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/7/vlog7-authors-job
Win Disney Tickets! http://mariadismondy.com/2014/6/win-disney-tickets

Win Tickets to Disney! How? Watch this short video to find out...

P.S. Spaghetti has traveled to NYC already! See the Empire State Building in this picture? So fun! Keep those pictures coming!!!

Giveaways Family-Fun Wed, 25 Jun 2014 00:50:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/6/win-disney-tickets
Spaghetti World Tour http://mariadismondy.com/2014/6/spaghetti-world-tour

Win tickets to Disney! What? Check out the contest going on over here at Be The Difference and join in the fun. You might be the winner announced on September 1st, 2014!

 

Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun World Wide Contest!

Rules: 
1. Participants must have parent permission to post photos

(If you are the winner, the award will be in your parent's name if you are not 18 years or older)

2. Take a picture of the book, Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun in front of a cool Landmark. It can be the book or a print out of the cover but NO photoshop. 

3. Post your photo on Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter. Tag your photo with your location and the hashtag #spaghettiworldtour

4. Follow Maria on InstagramFacebook and/or Twitter.

5. The picture taken farthest from Wixom, Michigan will win tickets to Disney (it will be a $200 gift card to Disney and can be used on Disney.com) Two day passes are currently $99 (June 2014-prices subject to change.) 

6. By entering the contest and tagging your pictures, you are agreeing to let Maria Dismondy share your photos via her Social Media platforms.

 

Winner will be chosen on September 1st, 2014 and will be announced via social media and on the blog.

 

Family-Fun Giveaways Fri, 20 Jun 2014 00:09:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/6/spaghetti-world-tour
Vlog #6 After Dinner Rituals http://mariadismondy.com/2014/6/vlog-after-dinner-rituals

This summer I am posting video blog posts each week. If you haven't been around in awhile, here's what you missed. Click on each title of the weekly post to be connected to that week's video! 

 

This week is all about after dinner rituals. If you have anything to add, please do so in the comments. I have a strong readership and I am soooooo happy to get all of the positive feedback on how these simple videos are making a difference in the lives of many families! That is my mission and I appreciate you sharing your positive feedback with me. 

 

Vlog #1Planning for a Fun Family Summer

 

Vlog #2 Meal Planning

 

Vlog #3 Tips On Reading To Your Child

 

Vlog #4 Ideas for Summer Field Trips

 

Vlog #5 Car Ride Fun for Everyday Trips

 

 

Family-Fun Literacy Wed, 18 Jun 2014 00:08:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/6/vlog-after-dinner-rituals
Vlog #5 Car Ride Ideas for Fun and Learning http://mariadismondy.com/2014/6/vlog-car-ride-activities

Here are some fun ideas on what to do when you are in the car with your kids driving around town. My friend Danielle and I were 

brainstorming ideas for longer trips. Of course, Pinterest is filled with loads of ideas but Danielle had a few others.... for long car rides where movies are a must, how about renting kids documentaries by National Geographic (check out your local library before purchasing them)? They will be learning something at the same time as passing the time away! We also thought about some games you could do in the car while strapped into a car seat like Pictionary or Headbandz

 

Do you have any other ideas for things to do in the car whether it be a short or long trip? Add your ideas in the comments below!

 

Literacy Family-Fun Wed, 11 Jun 2014 00:03:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/6/vlog-car-ride-activities
Vlog #4 Ideas for Summer Field Trips http://mariadismondy.com/2014/5/vlog-four-field-trips

 

In this video blog post, I brainstorm ideas for summer field trips to take the kids on during those rainy or hot days when you need a break from the heat! Be sure to follow my YouTube channel to be notified when a new video is posted. Please comment below with other ideas you have to share!

 

 

 

Make-A-Difference-Monthly Family-Fun Thu, 05 Jun 2014 00:02:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/5/vlog-four-field-trips
Vlog #3 Tips for Reading with Your Child http://mariadismondy.com/2014/5/vlog-three-reading-tips

 

This week in my video blog series, I share simple strategies you can add to your nightly reading routine that will benefit your child's reading comprehension! If you haven't viewed any of my videos before, check them out on my YouTube channel here! 

Family-Fun Literacy Wed, 28 May 2014 00:58:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/5/vlog-three-reading-tips
Good News in The World of Character! http://mariadismondy.com/2014/5/good-news-in-the-world-of-character

I have really great news to share in the wonderful world of teaching character...

 

The release of a new book is coming up very soon. It's not another children's book that teaches a lesson on character but a book for (drumroll please) educators! You may be wondering why I am so excited about this book. It's because I know the author. I've been reading her blog for almost two years now and I have learned so much from her. Barbara Gruener, the author, is releasing her new book titled What's Under YOUR Cape? SUPERHEROES of the Character Kind. Barbara is a character coach in Texas and writes for her amazing blog, The Corner on Character. You might also recognize her name because she wrote a parents guide to character in my book The Potato Chip Champ! Barbara and I have been working together on making a difference through our work for a few years now. Let's learn more about Barbara and her new book in an author Q&A.

 


How can YOU get a copy of Barbara's new book? You can enter to win an autographed copy at the end of this blog post or books are available for preorder:

Amazon

B&N

Blog: The Corner on Character

 

 

Tell us a bit about your book and where it’s available.

What's Under YOUR Cape? SUPERHEROES of the Character Kind is basically a quick guide to character-integration for elementary educators and parents alike. I've taken stories and strategies that have worked for me to connect with kids during my thirty-year-tenure as a teacher and counselor and I've put them all into one place. Using the acrostic SUPERHEROES, I've designated each chapter to showcase a virtue that superheroes young and old alike use to make the world a better place.

 

What was the inspiration for your book?

The inspiration for my book was actually a dozen years in the making. I started speaking about character development after I attended a Character Development Seminar back in the Fall of 2000. After that training, I began to create and share character-development activities for our school's website and then eventually my blog. Every time I conducted a workshop or delivered a keynote, without fail, someone would ask me if I had a book or where they could buy my book. My pat answer was that I have written a book but I've shared it for free online. I'd give out my website address and it seemed to satisfy.  

 

But last October, when Marian Nelson from Nelson Publishing and Marketing sat in on one of my Character Education Partnership National Forum Sessions in DC, she didn't ask if I had a book. She asked why I didn't have a book and she wasn't satisfied with my pat answer. We talked the following week and she helped me see how far we could extend my reach by putting some of my enrichment activities, ideas, and songs into print form. I set a goal for compiling a 'best of' book and sprinkling in some new content by New Year's Eve so that we could have it ready to debut in the summer of 2014, and, sure enough, I finished my rough draft on December 31st around 8 pm. 

 

Being your first book, tell us what was difficult in writing it? 

The most difficult thing for me was probably keeping in mind who my audience is because I wanted to write for the masses.  I figured that character was character and so sometimes I was writing as a mom for parents, sometimes as a teacher for teachers, and other times as an administrator for counselors and principals. My editor, Kris Yankee, had a keen awareness about stuff like that, so she had to derail me a few times and get me back on track.  In fact, I pretty much had to re-write the entire last chapter because my stamina was waning and I went into mommy-mode instead of character coach.

 

Can you share something from the book with us?
 
Here's an excerpt from Chapter 1 - S is for Service:  

 

Superheroes are all about service. The scene goes like this: The

villain is threatening to take over the town and the superhero

sees the need and jumps into action. Service with a smile, problem

solved, and the day is saved. Superheroes have a strong moral code

and simply cannot help but fly to the rescue and serve. And to

those naysayers who think that children need to be a certain age to

serve, I say, “Holy cow, Batman!”

 

As a farmer’s daughter, I was working in the barn at the

ripe old age of two. I owned my first calf and was helping with

chores by the time I went off to kindergarten. We milked about

fifty cows until the time of my tenth birthday, when we built a

milking parlor and increased our herd size to 250. Every morning

before school and every afternoon after, duty called and I put on

my barn clothes to milk those cows, sixteen at a time. Not only

did I learn responsibility, work ethic, and service at a very young

age, but I also practiced them day in and day out until these values

became my superpowers.

 

When I left my family farm for college and beyond, I was

well-equipped to take my place in the world, to show up on time,

to work hard, and to serve with a smile. Service creates a win-win

because the helper feels needed while filling needs.

 

At schools of character, every student serves, whether it’s

something seemingly small, like being the line leader or caboose,

or a little more involved like serving on safety patrol. Every job is important and valued because every job meets a need.

 
What will you be working on next? 

Such a great question; selling books, I guess. I've got some fun summer plans which include workshops and book signings in Missouri, Wisconsin, San Diego, San Antonio and Dallas. It still sounds so weird to me ... book signings ... such an exciting time. I also plan to continue blogging as I'm about to hit a milestone by publishing my 1000th post. In October on Halloween, I'll be delivering the kick-off keynote at the CEP National Forum. My topic will be Kindness Is The Real Global Warming and I can't wait. Such an honor it'll be to be with so many character educators in one place and to be able to thank and affirm them for their heart work. I'll also be starting my 31st year in education by returning as the counselor and character coach at Westwood-Bales, so I'm staying busy. 

 

When I'm not working, I love to spend time with my family and friends. Thank you, Maria, for your interest in my work and for helping put this resource into the hands of character educators who will ultimately help their superheroes soar by believing in them, gifting them with a character cape, and letting them go to make their mark on the world.

 

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Character-Traits Guest-Bloggers Fri, 23 May 2014 00:55:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/5/good-news-in-the-world-of-character
Vlog Series-Meal Planning http://mariadismondy.com/2014/5/meal-planning-vlog

Meal planning is key to keeping our weekly menu healthy and consistent. Here's video #2 in my new series where I share simple tips that help keep me organized and at the same time simple things that help make a difference in the lives of my children. This blog is called Be The Difference---and that's what I am out to do. Help men and women find simple ways they can make a difference in the lives of children they work with or are raising.

 

Benefits of meal planning:

1. Less stress because you are organized

2. Healthier meal choices

3. One trip to the grocery store for ingredients vs. SEVERAL 

4. Save money because you are buying just what you need

 

Resources referenced in the video:

1. Grocery List: Creative Bloom or on her etsy shop

2. Today's Menu board for the fridge: Dollar section at Target

3. Our Family Recipe Favorites Reference Chart: iheartorganizing

 

Family-Fun Health-and-Wellness Wed, 21 May 2014 00:21:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/5/meal-planning-vlog
Character Lessons Month #8 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/5/homeschool-character-eight


Welcome! If this is your first time here, I am sharing lessons I teach my 5-year-old each month. Each week I choose two books,  have two discussions and we create two crafts that go along with one character trait. I use a variety of resources online to put together the lesson plans. Enjoy!    

 

Volunteering    

Read: Knitting Nell by Julie Roth    

 

Discuss:  It's not nice that Nell's friends at school make fun of her sweater. What would you do if you were Nell? Why do you think Nell was always making gifts for others? How do you think Nell felt when she won the award?   

 

Make: I talked to my daughter about all the people who volunteer in her school and her dance class. How they offer to help without any expectations. Then we sit together and I show her all the different ideas in my "Gift Ideas" board on Pinterest and we pick a few to make together for our volunteers.

 

Read: A Castle on Viola Street  by DyAnne DiSalvo  

 

Discuss:  The family in the story helps to restore broken down homes in the city. There are so many discussion points that could be made in this book. You could talk about what a city environment is like and why some homes are boarded up. Talk about the kind hearts of the volunteers who go in and fix up these homes. Bring in empathy and ask your child how it might have felt to be the family who didn't have a home?    

 

Make: How fun are these Paper Bag Houses? The perfect craft to follow up after reading this book! 

 

Greed

 

Read: The Very Greedy Bee by Steve Smallman 

 

Discuss: What does it mean to be Greedy? What did the bee do to be greedy?     

 

Make: Help your child retell the story using this free and fantastic template. Retelling is a great literacy skill to practice, especially since preschools will begin reading themselves and comprehension plays a major role in reading sucess! 

 

Read: The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfisher  

You can also watch/listen to the story read by a member of the actor's guild here on YouTube.

 

Discuss:  Help your child to make connections between this story and The Greedy Bee. The Bee didn't want to share his nectar and what was it that the Rainbow Fish did that was so greedy? Why did the Rainbow Fish change his behavior by the end of the story?    

 

Make: Here's a great coloring page to complete after reading the story. I cut little pieces of aluminum foil out for my daugther to glue onto the paper as some of the scales just like the fish in the story! 

 

Peace

 

Read: The Peace Book by Todd Parr   

 

Discuss:  I really like teaching the meaning of the word "Peace" to kids. This story does a fabulous job of providing examples of peace. Ask your child, what are some examples of peace in our own lives? Here at home? At school?  

 

Make: My younger daughter made this craft for MLK Jr. Day but we did it again for this lesson. Put a piece of painter's tape on a paper plate in the shape of a peace sign. Then have your child paint the plate and remove the tape. Look at these super examples!

 

 

Character-Traits Fri, 16 May 2014 00:13:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/5/homeschool-character-eight
My Work Space http://mariadismondy.com/2014/5/my-work-space

We are feeling so blessed with our healthy little third baby. I must admit, life has gotten busier than ever for us since January this year.

I work very hard to put my family and children first while at the same time, I am passionate about the work I do as a children's author. 

Being an author allows me the luxury of working from home with a flexible schedule. There are pros and cons to all of this. Working from home lets me to be with my kids but also creates the challenge of carving out time to get my work accomplished. I am that girl who starts to work then sees the dirty dishes and then I am sidetracked cleaning the kitchen. Last year, we built an office space to help us to separate home from work, allowing my husband and I a space to work that wasn't right within our living space. If I had to describe our office in one word, I would say dreamy. 

 

How do I keep my work time productive? For me, it starts with a cup of tea. I drink it in my favorite mug from Anthropology. We have a mug with the initial of each person in our family. The warm tea and my swanky mug keep my mind at ease as I either check off tasks off the never ending list or realize that it all won't get done (and I find myself humming "Let it Go" from Frozen).

 

I'm curious, how do YOU settle down to get to work and accomplish tasks? What calms you when your brain is on overload? Please comment below!

 

This post is part of RedEnvelope’s #redDecor project.

 

Author-Adventures Health-and-Wellness Tue, 13 May 2014 00:41:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/5/my-work-space
Vlog Series-Summer Plans http://mariadismondy.com/2014/5/videoblogseries-summer

I'm excited to start a new series where I share some tips in video blog posts that help me to make a difference in the lives of the little people I am raising. The tips may or may not work for you and your family but I've had requests from my MOPS Group to go over how I organize our activities so I thought I would also share with you! 

 


1. My Summer Pinterest Board
2. Simple Monday-Friday Plan 

3. Summer Bingo Chart

4. Bucket List Template (I am sorry I can't find the link to the one I have but here's a great one!) 
4. I didn't mention this in the video but we also pull out a good old summer bridge workbook I buy from Costco during some downtime through out the day.
5. Any summer crafts we make, we send to people we love. Especially those who do not have young children and would enjoy the beautiful creations my girls make. I can't possibly find room in our house for all school and summer projects. We like to share the wealth :)
6. I like to have a plan for myself during the summer too. I found a photo challenge I am participating in!

 

Family-Fun Mon, 12 May 2014 00:57:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/5/videoblogseries-summer
Say Yes! http://mariadismondy.com/2014/5/just-say-yes

I decided to take on some new challenges in my business this year. Change is good but it is scary too. You see, in order to take on these new challenges, I need time to follow through on the commitments. I never want to become the "I don't have time" person. It's easy to take on too much then lack the time we need to do what we are truly passionate about or what is really important to us. I strive for balance. I fail miserably at times and sometimes I actually achieve a healthy balance and I am proud of being able to give time to what matters.

 

After having lunch with a friend today which was becoming challenging in itself to schedule, I saw this quote. It reminded me of my current attitude. I have been saying yes to some really wonderful changes for my business, knowing it will all work out in the end. Not knowing at the time of saying yes how I will ever find the time to make these business adventures work but having faith that it will in the end. It's been a great way for me to grow because growth comes from change. And change can't happen without doing something different. Different is not easy or comfortable and I get stuck in enjoying easy. 

 

Those are my deep thoughts this Friday morning :)

 

Oh hey, follow me on Instagram.

 

PS My blog has been lacking lately but stay tuned for a new video blog series starting next week!

Author-Adventures Fri, 09 May 2014 00:18:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/5/just-say-yes
Summer Webinars-Registration Open http://mariadismondy.com/2014/5/webinars

I am pleased to announce a new adventure I will be taking, teaching online seminars! 

 

The first class is on how to publish your book. Click the picture below to learn more.

 

 


 

The second class is a course on marketing. Find out more by clicking the picture below.

 

Author-Adventures Fri, 02 May 2014 00:27:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/5/webinars
A Winner and Why I'm Happy http://mariadismondy.com/2014/4/happy-winner

Drumroll please....

 

The winner of the Earth Day giveaway, receiving a Party Pack of H2O id bands is... Julie Gilbert!

 

Now that March is Reading Month is behind me (it lasted two months this year if you can imagine that) I will get back to regular blogging. It won't be as much as I did in the past, but I am dedicated to keeping a healthy balance between work and home. My goal is two times a week, solid content that goes with the name of the blog, Be The Difference. Books, crafts, short and simple lessons to teach children in your lives so that YOU are making a difference! 

 

These videos are popping up for each city. This song FILLS ME UP with joy! I want to sing and dance everytime it comes on (and I usually do). Here's the start of a great week. I hope you have a happy one!

 

Giveaways Mon, 28 Apr 2014 00:39:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/4/happy-winner
Earth Day-Let's Celebrate with a Giveaway! http://mariadismondy.com/2014/4/earth-day-giveaway

I am learning that there truly are people in the world who are passionate about making a difference. 

If you couple this with a business idea, you have passion plus mission and it can produce a powerful entrepreneur! I want you to meet one of those female entrepreneurs today...

 

A friend from college worked in New York for years in the fashion industry. Not too long ago, she moved back to Michigan and started a company called H2OID. Cassandra Gut is very enthusiastic about the positive impact H2O ID® will make in our every day lives and the environment for future generations.

 

As my family spent a very special afternoon together yesterday, I looked at the kitchen table and noticed about TEN half filled water bottles all over the place! I immediately thought, "We need H2OID here!" I told my cousin about this product and she shared with me the fact that she was hiding her water bottle on the window sill all afternoon to be able to identify it!

 

Earth Day is on Tuesday. I think it's important to teach our children about respecting the Earth. It teaches them a lot about respect and kindness in general. You can find some great ideas on my Pinterest Board here to use. In honor of Earth Day, we are giving away one H2OID Party Pack! 

 

 

 

Giveaway: Starts today and ends April 28th. Enter to win a Party Pack which includes 24 bands with six different colors. Valued at $48 

 

There are several ways you can enter below...

 

More information about the product:

Utilizing this reusable H2O ID® band encourages individuals, corporations,
and communities to be part of the solution to protect the environment. The ID
band is biodegradable.  Use it anywhere: at work, conferences, trade shows,
sporting events, camps, schools, parties, gyms, yoga studios, retreats, charity
events, marathons, run/walk, reunions, picnics, and at home!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Giveaways Family-Fun Mon, 21 Apr 2014 00:48:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/4/earth-day-giveaway
The Potty Show Digital App http://mariadismondy.com/2014/4/potty-show

The creators of Preschoology contacted me recently to collaborate on a few projects. They will be sharing a guest post of mine with thier readers on the topic of kindness and the act of paying it forward. The concept of how Preschoology was born is pretty neat. A school psychologist met a computer engineer and hit it off! They combined their education and after having their first child, they created this mobile app company devoted to helping young children learn social skills.

 

I wanted to share a really cool app they designed called The Potty Show. My girls and I had the opportunity to test it out at home the other day. My youngest was potty trained about 6 months ago. We used The Elmo Video and several books to reinforce the concept (read more on my step-by-step how to on potty training here). I think having an app is another wonderful way to reinforce that big kids go on the potty! There are some fun features I want to share below that are a part of this potty app available for download in itunes.

 

The Potty Show:

  • Vivid colors that keep your little ones attention
  • The option to have your child's picture as the "star" in the app. 
  • Your child can customize their person on the app.
  • There is a painting page that again, has your child's personalized picture on it.
  • The song that is played has a catchy tune!
  • There are printables to support the potty training along with free visual cue cards.
  • To celebrate your child's success, there is an award certificate that can be printed!

 

If you would like to download The Potty Show to your digital tablet/device, find out more here.

Family-Fun Health-and-Wellness Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:37:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/4/potty-show
Kids In The House on Bullying http://mariadismondy.com/2014/4/kids-in-the-house-bullying-video

I was thrilled to get an email inviting me to be a part of the Kids In The House community. Here's a brief description of what this newly launched website offers:

 

Our site provides parents with more than 8,000 one-minute educational parenting videos that succinctly cover every issue facing parents -- from conception through the college years. Our resources feature all types of parenting experts and leaders including doctors, psychologists, researchers, educators, entertainers, top-bloggers, and best-selling authors. Our goal is to change the world one parent at a time by educating,  inspiring and entertaining.

 

The site provides so many amazing resources for parents. Here is a video, less then 3 minutes long for parents to watch on what to say to your children when it comes to bullying:

 

For more information on elementary education visit KidsInTheHouse.com

 

Here are a few of my thoughts after watching the short clip of Michael Pritchard discussing bullying.

 

Michael said, "If I'm not for me, who will be? Let's teach our children to stand up and protect themselves."

  • We always talk about being an advocate for our children and their well being but this statement in Michael's video reminds us that children need to be their own advocate as well. We can teach them from a very young age to stand up for themselves and if the courage is not there, encourage them to trust in an adult to get help. As adults, we want to give our children strategies to try and solve their problems before solving the problem for them. At any time, if there is an issue of safety, we need to teach our children to get help immediately.

 

Michael said, "Choose to rise above the bullying by having a strong sense of character and courage."

  • This is part of my mission: to educate families to model and teach character traits early on. Courage, respect, empathy and so on. This year I have been posting lessons I teach my oldest daughter each week on character. It's a homeschool study I created to strengthen her knowledge of character and to instill these traits so that she has some social problem solving tools to use when she enters school next year. To find out more, visit the lessoms here on my Pinterest board on Character. You can find them by clicking on the monthly images that look like the one shown here.

 

 

 

Health-and-Wellness Book-Reviews Character-Traits Mon, 14 Apr 2014 00:19:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/4/kids-in-the-house-bullying-video
Character Lessons Month #7 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/4/character-lessons-seven


Welcome! If this is your first time here, I am sharing lessons I teach my 5-year-old each month. Each week I choose two books,  have two discussions and we create two crafts that go along with one character trait. I use a variety of resources online to put together the lesson plans. Enjoy!      

 

Respect  

 

Read: The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle   

 

Discuss:  Why do you think the ladybug is grouchy? Do you think it's okay to talk to others the way the ladybug does? Are the other animals grouchy? What happens at the end?  

 

Make: We made these adorable ladybug projects (scroll down to see it once you click the link) and discussed what made us grouchy. My oldest reponded that she is grouchy when the ice cream truck comes to our street and mama is out of money. 

 

Read: Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman

 

Discuss: What is recycling? Do we recycle in our home? Where else might we see recycling? Why is it important to recycle?

 

Make: Here's a basic cut, sort and paste Earth Day activity my daughter did. Last year we made an awesome torn art paper collage in the shape of the earth. There are also fun recipes for cookies and cupcakes to celebrate Earth Day. Are you ready to head over to Pinterest now? 

 

Responsibility

 

Read: You Can Count on Me

 

Discuss: What are the ways your child shows responsibility like the children in the book? Do they help care for your pet? Do they help set the table for dinner? I believe children need certain tasks around the house to do that are simply part of their responsibilty as a member in the household and not necessarily consider chores.

 

Make/Do: Read the short stories about Roy the Responsible Rabbit online. 

 

Read: Berenstein Bears and The Trouble With Chores 

 

Discuss: What is a chore? What kind of chores did Brother and Sister Bear do? This is when we started discusses the kinds of chores our daughter would be responsible for and what kind of allowance she would receive. We also discussed those daily tasks like making your bed and brushing your teeth that she is expected to do without being compensated for!

 

Make: Together we picked out this chore chart. She does not have to do them every day but is responsible for completed at least five in the week. I laminated it so that we can reuse the chart by marking it with a dry erase marker each week. Pay day is on Sundays. I am not sure how we will handle the money just yet. I love the idea of a spend, save and give jar but we are not there yet. 

 

Self-Esteem

 

Read: I Believe in You by Marianne Richmond

 

Discuss: Just like the mama believed in her daughter in the book, we discussed all the things that I believe in my daughter! We talked about trying our best but that sometimes even our best will not feel like enough and that it's okay because practice makes progress (not perfect!)

 

Make: A self-portrait. We pulled out simple paper, pencil and crayons and created self-portraits together. I talked about things I liked about my physical attributes like my hair and my skin and then I pointed out what I liked about myself on the inside---character traits. I helped my daughter do the same when talking about herself.

 

Read: The Way I Feel by Janan Cain

 

Discuss: This is a great book to practice asking questions. Before reading the book, have your child preview the pages and ask questions. During the reading, stop and encourage your child to ask questions. There are some feelings words they may not have the vocabulary for yet in this book. Help them understand the feelings by giving your own examples of what they represent. After you've read the book, as a few more questions, helping your child make a connection to what they've read. Did you ever feel frightened like the child in the book? Asking questions before, during and after reading is a great strategy for strengthening reading comprehension.

 

Make: We completed this picture someone created to go along with the book, The Way I Feel. Emotion cards are an excellent way to discuss feelings, we love our set of Todd Parr Feeling cards.

 

Trust

 

Read: How Could You? by Nancy Loewen

I liked the examples in this book but it was pretty long. We read it over several days.  It reminded me of the hit show, What Would You Do?There

 

Discuss: Trust is an important topic to discuss with children. Especially preschoolers who are starting to learn about lying and telling the truth. For this discussion, I used examples in our own life.

 

Make/Do: We had a family movie night and watched The Jungle Book. There are several examples of trust in this movie. The Man Cub felt he couldn't trust anyone until he met Baloo.  If you don't have time to watch the entire movie, show this YouTube clip of the Python singing Trust in Me. Other life lessons taught in this timeless movie are illustrated here. Thanks Disney!

 

Read: The Empty Pot by Demi

 

Discuss: My daughter needed help figuring out that the children in this story all cheated to win the contest of growing the best flower in the town! She didn't realize why the little boy's pot was empty. It is a fantastic story of being honest. The emperor wanted to find an heir he could trust so he gave all the children in the land seeds to grow flowers. The winner would take over the kingdom. However, the children didn't know he tricked them and gave them seeds that would not grow. The emperor found his heir, a trustworthy little boy who was honest and showed up the last day of the competition with an empty pot!

 

Make: Using large pieces of paper, we pulled out paints and created beautiful pots filled with Spring Flowers. 

 

 

 

Character-Traits Literacy Family-Fun Health-and-Wellness Thu, 10 Apr 2014 00:22:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/4/character-lessons-seven
New Year's Goal #1 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/4/new-year-goal-one

For two years in a row, I participated in my very own Happiness Projects. Monthly goals to improve my well being. Did it work? Yes. I stayed motivated to make small changes in my life that lead to happier days.

 

At the end of December we welcomed our third child to the world. Being realistic and not wanting to overwhelm myself with lofty goals, I decided to focus on one goal every quarter. Quarter #1 was to perform 100 acts of kindness. I did it! 

 

It was just what I needed during this cold, dreary, harsh winter in Michigan. A focus on doing kind things for other people.

 

Here are a few acts of kindness I did over the last three months.

Thank you letters to all the hospital staff who helped bring our baby Dexter into the world. Handwritten, heartfelt letters.
Dunkin Donuts tip. Here was the conversation: Me "Keep the change" DD Guy "All of it?" He was totally shocked.
Book to mailman's grandson
Send hand me down baby girl clothes to my cousin.
Give girl clothes to a friend.
3 itunes cards for$10 each
Paid for the order behind me in the drive thru.
Made a meal for a friend and her family.
3 $5 Biggby Cards
Took a friend out to dinner.
Took chicken soup and gatorade to a friend who was sick.
Made breakfast for my mother in law.
Ordered a cookbook for a friend.
Hot cocoa to dance staff.
4 loaves of bread donated to sandwich making.
Books and stuffed animals to Families Building Faith for Eater Baskets.
Bought a book for a girl at B&N
Bag your own groceries
Tell a stranger her child is beautiful.
Teach someone some of your skills (no charge)
Sign up for a race that supports a cause.
Schedule a physical for myself.
Loan baby bottles for a baby.
Give away maternity clothes to a new mama.
Planned a weekend at Camp Dearborn with friends.
Tell a friend she's beautiful.
Give a free book to a less fortunate child.
Love notes in my husbands luggage.
Free book to a friend to read to his son's Kindergarten class.
Made banana bread for the cleaning staff.
Letter to a friend just because.
Ran errand for a friend.
Bought flowers for my mom and mil.
Free books to Trader Joe's worker.
Let someone else go in front of me when at the grocery store.
Coffee to the moms at Mom/Tot Preschool
 

Up Next for April-June? Focus on my well being! A happy house starts with a healthy mama! What I plan to do: get a yearly physical in May, run and bike train for a race I registered for in June called the Tri Goddess Tri. I took a class on REAL health at Beyond Organic and have been incorporating the eating recommendations for about a month now so I would like to continue on this journey to help me feel back to my old self. Last but not least, I am going through my training to be a Individual Family Support Volunteer through Beaumont Hospital over the next three months.

 
 
Author-Adventures Health-and-Wellness Fri, 04 Apr 2014 00:11:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/4/new-year-goal-one
Mama Interview #9 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/4/get-real-interview-nine

The intention of this series is to showcase a number of individuals with children primarily in elementary school and younger (But I will interview some mamas of older children too!) I will not be sharing names or photos. Why is this you ask? The purpose of the series is to bond together with our similiarities instead of using our differences to compare each other. Comparison can be the devil when it comes to parenting. I want to try to eliminate factors that would make us doubt ourselves. Please enjoy reading these interviews every Friday over the next few months! - 

 


 

Interview #9 

 

LET’S FACE IT, THIS MOM GIG IS HARD! WHAT DO YOU FIND TO BE THE HARDEST PART?
 

I think the most challenging place is trying to strike that balance. I work outside of the home full-time as a 2nd grade teacher. When the school day ends I want to be with our daughters (ages 1 and 3.) From 4:00-7:30pm on the weekdays, it's family time. After they go to bed, it's time to grade papers, prepare lessons, report cards, newsletters, email parents back. That doesn't often leave time to do some of the things I want to do, like read a new book, magazine, etc. I decided to try and read one chapter most evenings and I get up at 5am to do a 45 minute pilates workout Monday, Wednesday and Friday and go to a kickboxing class at Lifetime on Sundays. I am in tune to the importance of this balance and when I feel that I haven't achieved it as a mother, educator or on a personal level, I try to fix it.


LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE. WHAT IS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MAMA MOMENT YOU CAN LOOK BACK ON AND LAUGH ABOUT NOW?
I pride myself on busy weekdays of packing just what the girls need for school, our childcare provider, my mom and dance class. Natalie always has her leotard and dance tights ready so I can change her at the studio and begin class right after school. I packed a new leotard a few months ago and didn't realize the plunging neckline. It was completely inappropriate to wear to class and here I am in the restroom bobbling my 11 month old at the time so she won't crawl all over the bathroom floor. At the same time, I am trying to find something to tie together in the back to alter her leotard. Thankfully I have a hair tie on my wrist. It works and we are set until five minutes into class when she has to go to the bathroom.  I almost had to cut her out of her leotard. I guess you can never be fully prepared.
 
WHICH MOMENTS IN PARENTING MAKE YOU FEEL THE MOST VULNERABLE OR UNSURE? WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU TURN TO IN ORDER TO FEEL BETTER?

Those big milestones and unchartered waters. This past summer I read blogs, consulted friends and parenting websites on potty-training. All of these resources were helpful. I also have learned that there isn't just one "right way" to do something. Being an educator, however, I do value research, so I am always looking for parenting experts who support their claims with research. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood are both books I own and oftentimes reread. I have also listened to 4 audioCDs on Conscious Discipline.

 
 
WE ALL HAVE BAD DAYS, AND SOME ARE WORSE THAN OTHERS. WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO COPING STRATEGY TO MAKE IT THROUGH THE REALLY ROUGH SPOTS?
 
 
When I am at home with the girls, if the day isn't going great, I have now made myself sit for at least 10 minutes once both of them are down for a nap. I just sit, regroup and relax and give myself permission to not scurry around for those 10 minutes. After that, game on, accomplishing tasks off of my to-do list makes me feel good. I turn on my Pandora app, listen to music and get some cleaning and organizing done.
 
 
WE ALL NEED HELP TO MAKE IT ALL HAPPEN. WHAT TOOLS DO  YOU USE TO HELP ORGANIZE YOUR FAMILY? (APP, PRODUCT, ETC.)

I do enjoy Pinterest for gathering ideas, especially crafts for children and recipes. Organization is important to me. I start to draft a grocery list on Thursday for the upcoming week. I will review all of the recipes I plan on making for the week ahead. I then jot down a list (in order of where you would find them in the grocery store.)


The second piece of organization is to go through our daughters' closets and my own closet and choose what to wear Monday-Friday. I will consult the weather channel just in case :)


I purchased this organizer from Target.


 

http://st.houzz.com/simgs/fbf13c470192d8c9_4-9519/contemporary-clothes-and-shoes-organizers.jpg


 

It hangs in my 3 year old's closet and her clothes and her sister's clothes will go in one cubby per day of the week. Natalie will look at her options and make some decisions about what to wear. This eliminates "what to wear?" each morning.


I also try to prep a portion of dinner ahead of time early that morning, so when I get home, less time can be spent preparing the meal and I can get it into the oven.

 

 
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE ANYONE HAS EVER GIVEN YOU ON BEING A PARENT?

 

When you bring your newborn home, just try to focus on taking care of him or her. Get the rest you need so you can be the best for your baby. Don't worry about a perfectly cooked meal or cleaned house, visitors will understand. Try to limit visitors at first, there will always be time to snuggle that new baby. I wish I would have listened to the advice above with both our first and second child. It's the advice I would give new moms now in retrospect. Lastly, someone once told me, as parents, we are all just doing the best we can with the tools we have been equipped with. Understanding and compassion are so important…we really are “all in this together.”
 
 
 

 


 

Guest-Bloggers Health-and-Wellness Fri, 28 Mar 2014 00:59:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/4/get-real-interview-nine
March is Reading Month GIVEAWAY http://mariadismondy.com/2014/3/march-is-reading-month-giveaway

In honor of March is Reading Month, we are having an amazing giveaway!

 

Miriam Laundry just released her first book titled I Can Believe in Myself. She was so generous to have given my family a copy to read and review as well as a copy to share with one lucky reader!

 

The book is a hardcover children's picture book with an important message for BOTH children and adults. That was probably my favorite part of the book, the message to believe in yourself reached little Molly in the story but it also affected her classmates and her teacher! Mrs. Ruby was always showing up in the pictures drinking her hot cup of coffee. I had to laugh at that because being a former teacher myself, and the founder of a coffee club at one of the buildings I worked at, I know teachers like their cup of joe!

 

The book arrived at the perfect time, on the day my daughter had her turn to be the Child of the Day at preschool. She could easily connect to the character Molly in the book about being nervous to speak in front of her class. Immediately after I read the book to my girls, Ruby ran upstairs to her writing center and made a sign like Molly in the book. Afterwards we discussed all of the things my daughter COULD do! The very last page of the book encourages this type of discussion.

 

Miriam's message is clear, she is out to make a difference and for THAT I highly recommend you pick up a copy of her new book! Also, join us (I've already registered) as we team together with thousands of others to try and break a Guiness World Record for the largest online book discussion. Details are found here.

 

There are many ways to enter below to win a hardcopy of Miriam's book, I CAN Believe in Myself. The contest will end on March 31st and I will announce the winner here and on my facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaways Book-Reviews Tue, 25 Mar 2014 00:04:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/3/march-is-reading-month-giveaway
Mama Interview #8 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/3/mama-interview-eight

The intention of this series is to showcase a number of individuals with children primarily in elementary school and younger (But I will interview some mamas of older children too!) I will not be sharing names or photos. Why is this you ask? The purpose of the series is to bond together with our similiarities instead of using our differences to compare each other. Comparison can be the devil when it comes to parenting. I want to try to eliminate factors that would make us doubt ourselves. Please enjoy reading these interviews every Friday over the next few months! - 

 


 

Interview #8 

 

LET’S FACE IT, THIS MOM GIG IS HARD! WHAT DO YOU FIND TO BE THE HARDEST PART?
 

The most challenging for me right now is navigating how to teach our kids to be true to themselves, to be kind, to be honest and to be good citizens.  Our oldest is in kindergarten, and she is learning about friendships and how difficult it all can be.  I can't be with her 100% of the time, and I struggle with how do I teach her to stand up for herself and be confident and avoid the not-so-good people and activities out there that I know she will encounter.  What can we teach her and tell her now that will set up a lifetime of making the right choices?  The world is hard.  Peer pressure is strong.  People aren't always kind and not everyone makes good decisions, and while I know my girls will encounter this, I want them to know that they can walk away from it and still be proud and have friends who honor and respect their decisions.


LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE. WHAT IS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MAMA MOMENT YOU CAN LOOK BACK ON AND LAUGH ABOUT NOW?
When my oldest was 6 months, she and I joined my husband on a business trip to Florida.  As soon as the plane took off, we could smell that she had messed her diaper.  I took her into the tiny bathroom only to find there was no space to change her.  So I sat on the toilet and held her on my thighs and proceeded to change her, only to find that she had messed through all of her clothing- onesie, pants, shirt, everything.  I had to strip her completely down, wipe her off with paper towels and my wet wipes, and put on a fresh diaper, and in the process, had managed to get some of her lovely mess on me.  Then I realized I hadn't brought a change of clothes for her in the bathroom with me.  So I walked out of that bathroom, holding my daughter with only a diaper on, an armful of poopy clothes and poop stains on my shirt.  I felt like all eyes were on me as I returned to my seat and my husband's questioning "what the heck just happened?"  Don't even ask.

 

WHICH MOMENTS IN PARENTING MAKE YOU FEEL THE MOST VULNERABLE OR UNSURE? WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU TURN TO IN ORDER TO FEEL BETTER?

Wondering all the time if the decisions I make for my girls are the right ones.  Which sports to sign them up for, and whether to sign them up at all?  Which food to send in their lunches?  What snacks to give them for after school?  How much TV is too much and which shows are ok to watch?  Did I choose the right school?  Did I say the right thing when my daughter asks "why?"  I am not big on parenting books, because everyone has an opinion and they aren't one-size-fits-all.  So, I find that asking the opinions of my family and girlfriends is so helpful, but ultimately talking it all over with my husband to finalize a decision is the best resource for me.  We are in this together, because we are both vested in our children's futures and we are the ones who care the most about our own children.  We make decisions together and we back each other up.

 
 
 
WE ALL HAVE BAD DAYS, AND SOME ARE WORSE THAN OTHERS. WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO COPING STRATEGY TO MAKE IT THROUGH THE REALLY ROUGH SPOTS?
 
 
I rely on my girlfriends a lot.  When I encounter a rough day or moment, I run through my list of friends in my head and think who I can call or text or e-mail who has either been through this before, would know more about what I need, would join me for a yoga or spin class or a run, or who I can call for some inspiration or even just a laugh or a cry.  I am involved in a monthly book club and a separate mama's group, so reading, crafting, learning about health, sharing stories and meeting with wonderfully inspirational women is so therapeutic.  I also use my blog as a journal and I love to write about the ups and downs of our life.  Putting it down on keyboard and getting it out of my head is so refreshing.

 

WE ALL NEED HELP TO MAKE IT ALL HAPPEN. WHAT TOOLS DO  YOU USE TO HELP ORGANIZE YOUR FAMILY? (APP, PRODUCT, ETC.)
I have one calendar that I keep on the fridge for my husband and kids to see, and I write all of our family events on it- school specials, activities, dance, swim, date nights, etc.  I also have a dry erase board on the fridge that I write my nightly activities on for the school week, such as making lunches, packing the swim bag, setting the coffee.  This way, my husband can look and see what I haven't checked off yet and pick something to do without having to ask me.  I am a huge list maker, and I was getting stressed about always writing lists, so I've learned to write all my things to do in one place- the Wunderlist app.  I no longer write lists in my phone and on paper- I only do it in this app.  I can organize all my thoughts and items into different folders and I check off what I've done and it disappears from view.  It is awesome and I can't live without it!

 

 
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE ANYONE HAS EVER GIVEN YOU ON BEING A PARENT?

 

Oh, you will get so much advice from others, and I have learned to smile and listen, but to know that each home, each child, each parent is different.  I found this quote and I try to read it daily.  It reminds me to cherish the little moments every day, to put down the phone, to be present with my kids.  There will come a day when they have all left home, and I'll be wishing I had the mountain of laundry, the piles of dishes and the tiny fingerprints on the windows again.
 
"You will never have this day with your children again.  Tomorrow, they'll be a little older than they  were today.  This day is a gift.  Breathe and notice.  Smell and touch them; study their faces and little feet and pay attention.  Relish the charms of the present.  Enjoy today, mama.  It will be over before you know it." (-Jen Hatmaker)

 


Here I share blog posts from other writers that I've read that inspired me as a mother.  

Check out this great read.

Family-Fun Guest-Bloggers Fri, 21 Mar 2014 00:10:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/3/mama-interview-eight
Super Savvy Bib Review http://mariadismondy.com/2014/3/bib-review

I was asked to test out this JJ Cole Bib Set.

We were happy with the following:

  • The pocket for catching food instead of making a mess on the floor.
  • The material is great for washing and reusing instead of washing in the machine.
  • We loved the cute animal print and vibrant colors.

I would recommend the bibs HOWEVER, I would suggest getting them from a store like Buy Buy Baby where you can use a coupon. I thought the price point was a bit high at $18.95 per set.

 

Thank you JJ Cole for providing us with a set of bibs to test out. We love your entire line of products! We use our travel picnic blanket ALL THE TIME in the summer!

 

 

Health-and-Wellness Thu, 20 Mar 2014 00:03:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/3/bib-review
Mama Interview #7 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/3/mama-interview-seven

The intention of this series is to showcase a number of individuals with children primarily in elementary school and younger (But I will interview some mamas of older children too!) I will not be sharing names or photos. Why is this you ask? The purpose of the series is to bond together with our similiarities instead of using our differences to compare each other. Comparison can be the devil when it comes to parenting. I want to try to eliminate factors that would make us doubt ourselves. Please enjoy reading these interviews every Friday over the next few months! - 

 


 

Interview #7 

 

LET’S FACE IT, THIS MOM GIG IS HARD! WHAT DO YOU FIND TO BE THE HARDEST PART?
 

I have a very independent and well behaved 3.5 year little boy old an almost two year old little boy who is very needy, and cries often. I try to keep calm in the midst of my youngests' constant meltdowns and for the most part I do but sadly I find my frustrations normally fall out on my oldest. Moments after dealing with the youngest's tears I find myself snapping (perhaps screaming/yelling is a more honest description) at my oldest for the smallest things. The look in his eyes in these moments is heart breaking. 

Another thing that I find difficult is not rushing my children. I try and tell myself they will have to be rushing for the rest of their lives...however when the clock is ticking and we are on the verge of running late I have a hard time maintaining my patience.


LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE. WHAT IS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MAMA MOMENT YOU CAN LOOK BACK ON AND LAUGH ABOUT NOW?
Hmmm...I don't think I have one of these yet.   

 

WHICH MOMENTS IN PARENTING MAKE YOU FEEL THE MOST VULNERABLE OR UNSURE? WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU TURN TO IN ORDER TO FEEL BETTER?

Discipline.   I am always second guessing my disciplinary actions.  Are my methods working...am I being to hard on my kids am I expecting too much or am I not expecting enough and bring a pushover?


I talk to friends and family with young kids and parenting blogs and websites.

 
 
 
WE ALL HAVE BAD DAYS, AND SOME ARE WORSE THAN OTHERS. WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO COPING STRATEGY TO MAKE IT THROUGH THE REALLY ROUGH SPOTS?
 
 

I pack up the kids and get out of the house...we might go visit friends or family, head to the park, or just walk around the grocery store. Changing the scenery seems to help all of us.

 
WE ALL NEED HELP TO MAKE IT ALL HAPPEN. WHAT TOOLS DO  YOU USE TO HELP ORGANIZE YOUR FAMILY? (APP, PRODUCT, ETC.)

I use my I phone calendar and try to implement rules that prevent us from ebing over-scheulded. For example I only allow us to have one planned activity per weekend day. I also keep weekly to-do lists.

 
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE ANYONE HAS EVER GIVEN YOU ON BEING A PARENT?

 

Remember that all parents have bad days and react in ways that we are ahasmed of.   Do the best you can every day and never stop trying to do better. 

 


Here I share blog posts from other writers that I've read that inspired me as a mother.  The Hands Free Mama is an awesome blog that I discovered from this post. I just finished reading her book and I highly recommend it!

Guest-Bloggers Health-and-Wellness Fri, 14 Mar 2014 00:44:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/3/mama-interview-seven
Hands Free Mama Review http://mariadismondy.com/2014/3/hands-free-mama

 

"Letting go of the distractions in your life to find what really matters!"

 

I finished this book and I would highly recommend it. It's about putting down the phone and being present with the ones we love. It's about living our lives for today and not for the past or "someday." I find myself being very mad at time for going by so quickly. I want time to S-L-O-W down for the love! Instead, I will continue to work on ways to help make the time I have with my loved ones more meaningful.

 

The author writes very well. I found myself crying a few times. Maybe because her words were so true and the truth hurts. I know I am tempted with technology and I worry I will look back in a few years and feel like I missed out on something because I was so obsessed with technology. But the truth can also set you free and I am making some changes in my routines so that my children don't remember mama as mama with her phone in her hands all the time. I am all about being the best me I can be. That doesn't mean striving for perfection, it doesn't mean doing more. It means acknowledging when there needs to be a change, working on it and forgiving myself for whatever regret I am harboring.

 

Find out more about the book here.

 

Watch a video interview with the author here (I like the third interview).

 

Then hurry up and grab yourself a copy of this book here!

 

Here are a few changes I am making in parenting and in my life in general after reading the book.

  • Go hands free for a specific time of day. From the time my kids wake up until they have their tv time, during the nap time process of reading books, when kids come home from school and from dinner to bedtime. 
  • Let go of other distractions like ridiculous television shows I sometimes watch for no reason and could be doing something I enjoy like reading.
  • Impact the world with kindness. I have already been working on this but for so long I have wanted to volunteer at a hospital so this week I interviewed and am beginning the process to becoming a family support volunteer. I will be available to a few new moms for three months after they deliver their babies to answer questions and offer support. Part of being hands free is not overcommiting yourself. This is a way I can volunteer from my home without overcommiting myself and taking time away from my family (as I will be scheduling calls when my family does not need me)
  • The moment of impact--when the going gets tough parenting, take a moment to pause before reacting and impacting your child's life in possibly a negative way.
  • Use "I love to watch you _____" when talking to my kids. 
  • Allow my children to tell me how they are feeling rather than me dismissing their feelings.
  • Stop rushing my kids. I am getting better about being on time but "Hurry Up" is still in my vocabulary. I want to get rid of it!
  • Become fully emerged in the passions of a loved one-last summer I used the excuse of being pregnant to sit on the dock and watch Dave swim with the kids. This summer I want to be in the water basking in the fun instead of sitting on the sidelines!

And I am going to toot my own horn because there were several suggestions that are already in place in our family! There is no right or wrong in parenting but I found I need to have goals for myself to work on as a parent or I drown in guilt that I am not doing my best. How do I hold myself accountable? I share what my plans are with others and make it public! So above are my goals and below are things the book mentioned that we already have in place. 

  • Involving my kids in household chores and activities that we can do together like folding laundry.
  • Including my kids in charity work that we do.
  • Come as you are! I feel I am my authentic self--I'm not afraid to show up at the gym fresh out of bed with sleep marks on my face sans makeup!
  • Speak your pain-I am honest with my friends and I tell them when and what I am struggling with. I am not afraid to be seen as someone who can't do it all and who struggles in her role as a parent. Thank you to Holly and Danielle who are the sounding boards for most of my worries and troubles!
  • Find your anchor-This is something in your house that reminds you of what's important. I have a magnetic board in our kitchen that has pictures and quotes I love on it that I look at everyday. My favorite on the board? The Parenting Manifesto by Brene Brown.
  • Engage in Do Nothing Moments. This usually happens before nap time when we lay and read books or when I watch the kids play in their playroom without doing anything else.
  • Give a proper goodbye-This was part of my happiness project a few years ago. When Dave leaves and comes home, we stop what we are doing (most of the time) to greet him.
  • Have a family tradition like "Cherry-Pit" where we talk about something good and bad from our day at the dinner table.
  • Show and Tell-sit down with my children when they come home from school for show and tell from their backpacks.

 

Book-Reviews Thu, 13 Mar 2014 00:34:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/3/hands-free-mama
Mama Interview #6 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/3/mama-interview-six

The intention of this series is to showcase a number of individuals with children primarily in elementary school and younger (But I will interview some mamas of older children too!) I will not be sharing names or photos. Why is this you ask? The purpose of the series is to bond together with our similiarities instead of using our differences to compare each other. Comparison can be the devil when it comes to parenting. I want to try to eliminate factors that would make us doubt ourselves. Please enjoy reading these interviews every Friday over the next few months! - 

 


 

Interview #6 

 

LET’S FACE IT, THIS MOM GIG IS HARD! WHAT DO YOU FIND TO BE THE HARDEST PART?
 

Balance and juggling! Three kids who have needs to be met and sometimes all at once! Homework and reading; making meals, feeding, cleaning them up; packing school bags and lunches; spending quality time playing or doing projects; cleaning, laundry, picking up toys; grocery shopping, meal planning; keeping everyone in clothes that fit, going to dance class, soccer class, etc.  All the while trying to make sure mom maintains some sanity by having the occasional date night and mom's night out!


LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE. WHAT IS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MAMA MOMENT YOU CAN LOOK BACK ON AND LAUGH ABOUT NOW?

Swimming and realizing one large, milk-filled, stretch-mark laden boob is hanging out of my swimsuit!

 

WHICH MOMENTS IN PARENTING MAKE YOU FEEL THE MOST VULNERABLE OR UNSURE? WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU TURN TO IN ORDER TO FEEL BETTER?

I used to compare myself with other moms in the beginning: "oh she nursed her baby longer than I did," or "look how perfect that baby's nursery looks." I had a lot of mommy guilt for those little things, even if I fed my baby a jar of baby food instead of homemade once in awhile. I've learned to let all that go - life is too short! The best resource is MOM FRIENDS! Stop comparing and be real!

 
 
 
WE ALL HAVE BAD DAYS, AND SOME ARE WORSE THAN OTHERS. WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO COPING STRATEGY TO MAKE IT THROUGH THE REALLY ROUGH SPOTS?
 
Just a simple cup of coffee, tea, or glass of wine can have a huge calming effect over me. It forces me to just stop and release the stress of the moment - even if I have to wait until the end of the day.
 
WE ALL NEED HELP TO MAKE IT ALL HAPPEN. WHAT TOOLS DO  YOU USE TO HELP ORGANIZE YOUR FAMILY? (APP, PRODUCT, ETC.)

The iPhone calendar allows me to enter dates no matter where I am and I always "invite" my husband. That way we always are aware when the other has important things planned.

 
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE ANYONE HAS EVER GIVEN YOU ON BEING A PARENT?

Follow your instincts. I don't read much about parenting - I do what feels right. And that feels good.

 


Here I share blog posts from other writers that I've read that inspired me as a mother.  This one in particular is written by a father. Check out this great read called To The Parents of Small Children: Let Me Be The One Who Says It Out Loud by Steve Wiens 

 

Guest-Bloggers Health-and-Wellness Fri, 07 Mar 2014 00:43:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/3/mama-interview-six
March is Reading Month UPDATE! http://mariadismondy.com/2014/3/march-is-reading-month

March is Reading Month and I am traveling around presenting at schools. I also have a handful of book signings scheduled in addition to phone consults with aspiring authors. I am filling book orders with new vendors and working on negotiations on some fun projects. Put all of that together with the most important hat I wear, raising three amazing little children, and that equals one busy mama. 

 

It's times like these that I thank my lucky stars for my flexible schedule and I bow down to all the full time working parents out there. You. totally. rock!

 

Regular blogging will pick back up sometime in April. Until then, enjoy my Get Real Mama Interviews posted every Friday.

 

Maria

 

Author-Adventures Tue, 04 Mar 2014 00:56:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/3/march-is-reading-month
Mama Interview #5 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/2/interview-series-five

The intention of this series is to showcase a number of individuals with children primarily in elementary school and younger (But I will interview some mamas of older children too!) I will not be sharing names or photos. Why is this you ask? The purpose of the series is to bond together with our similiarities instead of using our differences to compare each other. Comparison can be the devil when it comes to parenting. I want to try to eliminate factors that would make us doubt ourselves. Please enjoy reading these interviews every Friday over the next few months!  

 


 

Interview #5 

 

LET’S FACE IT, THIS MOM GIG IS HARD! WHAT DO YOU FIND TO BE THE HARDEST PART?
 

Lack of sleep. I never imagined I'd still be waking up most nights with one or the other girl SEVEN years later. Uncle!


LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE. WHAT IS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MAMA MOMENT YOU CAN LOOK BACK ON AND LAUGH ABOUT NOW?

 

My sisters in law hand us down kids clothes, and I decided to put my 3 year old in a "dress" that one of them had so generously handed down. When we got to the restaurant, my sister in law said "did you know that's a nightgown!?" Oops.

 

 

WHICH MOMENTS IN PARENTING MAKE YOU FEEL THE MOST VULNERABLE OR UNSURE? WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU TURN TO IN ORDER TO FEEL BETTER?

Discipline, because I'm never sure if we're doing it "right". I always feel like we're either too strong or too wimpy, and either ineffective or (worse) harmful on our child's psyche. I try to model our discipline off other moms I see that seem to hit the right notes, but I still often come up short in my own eyes.

 
 
 
WE ALL HAVE BAD DAYS, AND SOME ARE WORSE THAN OTHERS. WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO COPING STRATEGY TO MAKE IT THROUGH THE REALLY ROUGH SPOTS?
 
 TV. My kids are allowed "TV Time" and because our TV is, as a rule, not continuously on with either kid or adult shows, it can be a novelty and a major life saver when I need a break.
 
WE ALL NEED HELP TO MAKE IT ALL HAPPEN. WHAT TOOLS DO  YOU USE TO HELP ORGANIZE YOUR FAMILY? (APP, PRODUCT, ETC.)

A dry erase weekly calendar in my kitchen so my husband and nanny can see what's on tap for the week.

 
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE ANYONE HAS EVER GIVEN YOU ON BEING A PARENT?

No one knows your kid better than you, even your doctor.  If something's not right, pay attention and get answers that satisfy you.

 


Here I share blog posts from other writers that I've read that inspired me as a mother.  Read a good one here.

Character-Traits Guest-Bloggers Fri, 28 Feb 2014 00:35:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/2/interview-series-five
Character Lessons Month Six http://mariadismondy.com/2014/2/character-lessons-month-six

Welcome! If this is your first time here, I am sharing lessons I teach my 4-year-old each month. Each week I choose two books,  have two discussions and we create two crafts that go along with one character trait. I use a variety of resources online to put together the lesson plans. Enjoy!    

 

Love  

I am only posting two of the many books we read on love this month (simply because I am supposed to still be on maternity leave). I put together an entire box of books to read for Valentine's Day that taught a variety of lessons on love. The important thing to teach young children is to discuss and compare the different types of love we experience every day. The love between siblings, husband and wife, family members and pets, friends, etc. Kudos to Disney for highlighting the love between two sisters in their #1 hit Frozen. 

 

Read: Henry in Love by: Peter McCarty

 

Discuss:  Henry is quiet, is Chloe? How does the blueberry muffin make a difference in the story?

 

Make: Special Vallentine cupcakes to share with friends, just like Henry shared with Chloe in the book we read!

 

Read: The Missing Piece Meets The Big O by Shel Silverstein

 

Discuss: In this book, the missing piece searches for another shape to complete them, to make them whole so that they can roll together. Once the missing piece meets the big o, they learn that others can't complete them, they have to find their own happiness. It seems deep but it isn't. It's a great seed to plant into a little four year-olds brain at an early age. 

 

Make: Yourself a valentine! What do you love about yourself? Be sure to add this to your special valentine.

Character-Traits Literacy Mon, 24 Feb 2014 00:01:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/2/character-lessons-month-six
Raising A Confident Speaker http://mariadismondy.com/2014/2/raising-a-confident-speaker

Part of what I do is consult with other authors as they begin their journey as a writer or I mentor them as they get ready to launch a new book. A few months ago, I had the pleasure of working with Stacey Marshall, author of the Captain Courage Series. I was drawn to her books because they deal with Courage, a character trait I also include in my books because of its importance in helping children in the world. 

 

Welcome Stacey today as a guest blogger as she shares a bit of advice with us on helping children to become effective public speakers. As an adult, I have learned that public speaking is required in more than just your job description. It is a skill that we use on a daily basis whether you are speaking up at a PTO meeting or you are simply speaking with parents at a playdate. Helping your children develop this important skill is like giving them a special gift that will last a lifetime.

 

Check out Stacey and her fabulous titles over on her website.  

 

How Children Can Become Effective,

Confident Public Speakers

By Stacey A. Marshall

 

A great public speaker, whether a seasoned professional or a young child, is someone who projects confidence and charisma to hold their audience’s attention.  This doesn’t mean that someone who is nervous about public speaking will be a failure.  It’s actually okay to feel nervous before public speaking.  It gets the adrenaline flowing, which gives us extra energy.  We can turn this energy into enthusiasm and charm.  However, it is not okay to look and sound nervous, which will detract from the message and make the audience feel disconnected from the speaker.  Helping children project self-assuredness and magnetism when they speak may seem like a daunting task, but it’s really just a matter of following a couple of simple tips:

 

First, one must help a child sound confident.  To do this, encourage your child to speak strongly and assuredly vs. muttering in a sheepish, quiet voice.  It’s helpful for parents to model the difference between speaking up vs. mumbling.  I love to use puppets to do this when I work with kids.  Have a confident-sounding puppet introduce himself to your child.  Next, have a shy, barely-audible puppet introduce himself.  Ask for feedback about the puppets’ speaking abilities, then have your son/daughter mimic the strong, confident puppet.  You can also help by reminding your child to take deep breaths before speaking, slow down his speaking rate, and increase his voice volume to ensure that everyone in the room can hear him.

 

Next, since a good public speaker looks confident, we must teach kids to use self-assured body language. If students simply stand in a posture of confidence, even when they’re feeling shy, it will help bolster their own feelings of self-confidence.  If teachers or parents would like to model for children how to act confident via their body language, they should demonstrate how to stand in what I call “the confident position.”  This means to stand up straight and tall, make eye contact with listeners, smile and use some hand gestures, when appropriate.  Looking confident and feeling confident are intrinsically related.

 

Here are some simple activities that parents can do to help hone their child’s speaking skills:

1)     Use a mirror:  Practice animated facial expressions (e.g., smile and use eye contact with your “audience”).  Looking into the mirror, compare the difference between friendly, confident facial expression and other types of expression such as: sad, fearful and angry.

2)     Conduct an interview:  Ask your child to speak into a microphone (…or hairbrush, serving spoon, or anything else that resembles a mike!), and formally ask him to tell you one interesting thing about his day.  Remind your child to use enthusiastic, nonverbal communication such as hand gestures when speaking.

3)     Role play:  Have your child pretend to do show-and-tell, introduce himself to a new friend, or order a meal in a restaurant, using confident posture, a smile, and a strong voice.

4)     Tell a joke: Tell your child a funny joke, and as you do, exaggerate the inflection in your voice,  and use big hand gestures and facial expression.  Then, have your child tell the joke back to you, using the same animated delivery.

 

Stacey Marshall, M.S., C.C.C.-S.L.P.,  is a public speaking coach and author of Captain Courage and the Fear-Squishing Shoes and Captain Courage and the World’s Most Shocking Secret.

 

Character-Traits Guest-Bloggers Sat, 22 Feb 2014 00:27:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/2/raising-a-confident-speaker
Mama Interview Series Continues http://mariadismondy.com/2014/02/Mama-Interview-Series-Continues

The intention of this series is to showcase a number of individuals with children primarily in elementary school and younger (But I will interview some mamas of older children too!) I will not be sharing names or photos. Why is this you ask? The purpose of the series is to bond together with our similiarities instead of using our differences to compare each other. Comparison can be the devil when it comes to parenting. I want to try to eliminate factors that would make us doubt ourselves. Please enjoy reading these interviews every Friday over the next few months! - 

 


 

Interview #4 

 

LET’S FACE IT, THIS MOM GIG IS HARD! WHAT DO YOU FIND TO BE THE HARDEST PART?
 

I have a very independent and well behaved 3.5 year little boy old an almost two year old little boy who is very needy, and cries often. I try to keep calm in the midst of my youngests' constant meltdowns and for the most part I do but sadly I find my frustrations normally fall out on my oldest. Moments after dealing with the youngest's tears I find myself snapping (perhaps screaming/yelling is a more honest description) at my oldest for the smallest things. The look in his eyes in these moments is heart breaking.

Another thing that I find difficult is not rushing my children. I try and tell myself they will have to be rushing for the rest of their lives...however when the clock is ticking and we are on the verge of running late I have a hard time maintaining my patience.


LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE. WHAT IS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MAMA MOMENT YOU CAN LOOK BACK ON AND LAUGH ABOUT NOW?
Hmmm...I don't think I have one of these yet.   

 

WHICH MOMENTS IN PARENTING MAKE YOU FEEL THE MOST VULNERABLE OR UNSURE? WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU TURN TO IN ORDER TO FEEL BETTER?

Discipline.   I am always second guessing my disciplinary actions.  Are my methods working...am I being to hard on my kids am I expecting too much or am I not expecting enough and bring a pushover?


I talk to friends and family with young kids and parenting blogs and websites.

 
 
 
WE ALL HAVE BAD DAYS, AND SOME ARE WORSE THAN OTHERS. WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO COPING STRATEGY TO MAKE IT THROUGH THE REALLY ROUGH SPOTS?
 
 

I pack up the kids and get out of the house...we might go visit friends or family, head to the park, or just walk around the grocery store. Changing the scenery seems to help all of us.

 
WE ALL NEED HELP TO MAKE IT ALL HAPPEN. WHAT TOOLS DO  YOU USE TO HELP ORGANIZE YOUR FAMILY? (APP, PRODUCT, ETC.)

I use my I phone calendar and try to implement rules that prevent us from ebing over-scheulded. For example I only allow us to have one planned activity per weekend day. I also keep weekly to-do lists.

 
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE ANYONE HAS EVER GIVEN YOU ON BEING A PARENT?

 

Remember that all parents have bad days and react in ways that we are ahasmed of.   Do the best you can every day and never stop trying to do better. 

 


Here I share blog posts from other writers that I've read that inspired me as a mother.  This one in particular is written by a father. Check out this great read called To The Parents of Small Children: Let Me Be The One Who Says It Out Loud by Steve Wiens 

Health-and-Wellness Guest-Bloggers Fri, 21 Feb 2014 00:35:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/02/Mama-Interview-Series-Continues
Character Lessons Month #5 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/2/character-lessons-month-five

Welcome! If this is your first time here, I am sharing lessons I teach my 4-year-old each month. Each week I choose two books,  have two discussions and we create two crafts that go along with one character trait. I use a variety of resources online to put together the lesson plans. Enjoy!    

Acceptance  

Read: The Story of Martin Luther King Jr. by: Johnny Ray Moore

 

Read: The Colors of Us by Karen Katz

 

Discuss:  I used this very simple book with my four-year-old because it taught the concept of prejiduce in such a clear cut way. Help your child make connections to the book and Martin's experiences by using empathy to think about how they might feel if they were young Martin.

 

Make: Multi-cultural paper dolls. We did this with a friend and her daughter and she had the girls add a heart to each doll because it was something that made them the same when everything else about them seemed so different (and that's okay!)

 

 

Peace

Read: The Peace Book by Todd Parr

 

Discuss: What is peace? Can your preschooler think of examples of peace in their own lives?

 

Make: Take a paper plate. Using painter's tape or masking tape, make a peace sign. Have your preschooler paint the paperplate. After it dries, have them remove the tape and the peace sign i revealed! I'm not sure where to source this idea but my friend shared it with me!

Character-Traits Literacy Family-Fun Sun, 16 Feb 2014 00:32:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/2/character-lessons-month-five
We Are All Alike, We Are All Different http://mariadismondy.com/2014/2/get-real-series-three

The intention of this series is to showcase a number of individuals with children primarily in elementary school and younger (But I will interview some mamas of older children too!) I will not be sharing names or photos. Why is this you ask? The purpose of the series is to bond together with our similiarities instead of using our differences to compare each other. Comparison can be the devil when it comes to parenting. I want to try to eliminate factors that would make us doubt ourselves. Please enjoy reading these interviews every Friday over the next few months! - 

 


 

Interview #3 

 

LET’S FACE IT, THIS MOM GIG IS HARD! WHAT DO YOU FIND TO BE THE HARDEST PART?
 
I'd have to say, being consistently conscientious enough to live a good example for the girls. The only way to teach our values is by example...what we do, not what we say or intend.  Having enough insight to recognize and put my own stuff aside is a full time and often overwhelming job in itself...add on dinners, laundry, homework and housekeeping and something's gonna give!

LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE. WHAT IS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MAMA MOMENT YOU CAN LOOK BACK ON AND LAUGH ABOUT NOW?
Public meltdowns and toddler honesty are always unnerving, but my most embarrassing is definitely the time I somehow pooped my pants while on a walk with my twins.  Ugh.  I had to wrap L's blanket around me (after begging her to give it up) and run the Mountain Buggy home, all the while trying to avoid round 2 and any neighbors en route. It was bad enough that I was embarrassed with my own kids- but that was nothing compared to the humiliating inquiries after they told their dad...and my husband...and my mom...and apparently anyone else that would listen to their "secret".

 

WHICH MOMENTS IN PARENTING MAKE YOU FEEL THE MOST VULNERABLE OR UNSURE? WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU TURN TO IN ORDER TO FEEL BETTER?
Other peoples parenting can make you question your own, though I think it's a good thing.  
 
Sometimes the kids own problems (ie playground problems) bring out irrational fears and vulnerability in me- making it hard to offer good advice or listen with an open mind enough to give them the space to let them come up with their own good solutions.  
 
Validation from friends, books, and an occasional therapy sess is where I turn to help to get perspective!
 
 
WE ALL HAVE BAD DAYS, AND SOME ARE WORSE THAN OTHERS. WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO COPING STRATEGY TO MAKE IT THROUGH THE REALLY ROUGH SPOTS?
 
Same answer- friends, books, and an occasional therapy sess- a reprieve and a reset of any kind.  Struggling with the kids is always better after a break from the kids, even if it's just a few minutes to breathe...or have a drink. ;)

WE ALL NEED HELP TO MAKE IT ALL HAPPEN. WHAT TOOLS DO  YOU USE TO HELP ORGANIZE YOUR FAMILY? (APP, PRODUCT, ETC.)
If I had the magic app to organize our brood, I wouldn't struggle nearly as much.   Routine and a shared calendar is as good as it gets right now...hoping to learn from your blog and other peoples answers!
 
 
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE ANYONE HAS EVER GIVEN YOU ON BEING A PARENT?
Not necessarily advice, but insight:  It's the hardest, most thankless, job you'll ever have and LOVE.

 


New this week, I want to share blog posts or in this case, a short video, from other bloggers and authors that I read that inspired me as a mother. 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest-Bloggers Health-and-Wellness Fri, 14 Feb 2014 00:17:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/2/get-real-series-three
Mama Interviews http://mariadismondy.com/2014/2/get-real-series
The intention of this series is to showcase a number of individuals with children primarily in elementary school and younger (But I will interview some mamas of older children too!) I will not be sharing names or photos.
Why is this you ask? The purpose of the series is to bond together with our similiarities instead of using our differences to compare each other. Comparison can be the devil when it comes to parenting. I want to try to eliminate factors that would make us doubt ourselves.

Please enjoy reading these interviews every Friday over the next few months!

 

 


 

 

Interview #2 

 

LET’S FACE IT, THIS MOM GIG IS HARD! WHAT DO YOU FIND TO BE THE HARDEST PART?
 
First, being a patient mama is hard for me at times.  I work full time and when I am home my 3 year old wants my attention every. single. second.  And as much as I want to give it to him, I have to make and clean up dinner, take care of his sister, feed the dogs, etc.  A lot of times I end up biting his head off or getting annoyed with him for not just entertaining himself but then I feel gulity because I wasn't home all day and didn't get to spend a lot of time with him.  And then I feel guilty for being a working Mom...it's really a vicious cycle.  
 
Secondly, I struggle with learning how to handle bad behavior.  When my son is misbehaving, I often think to myself "oh no...I'm not sure how to handle this" or even worse "I have no clue what I am doing right now!"...which is a not a good feeling.  I am just worried that I am going to raise a little devil!  I get so frustrated that I end up yelling at him and then I feel like a complete failure and really wish I could have handled the situation differently.
 
And finally, having zero time for myself is also difficult.  I would love to be able to work out from time to time! Ha,ha...ahhhh well...one day I will have more time and then I will miss when my kids were little!

 


LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE. WHAT IS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MAMA MOMENT YOU CAN LOOK BACK ON AND LAUGH ABOUT NOW?
 
Oh geez...which one to share? How about the time I was coming out of Target with my new born and my three year old in the cart.  There wasn't any space for my bags so I was holding everything and trying to manuever the cart.  It was snowy and icy...and I lost my footing and down I went with all my shopping bags.  Meanwhile the cart, with my newborn and my 3 year old, is completely unattended...but thank God not rolling away.  So, I pulled myself together...grabbed the cart and started throwing all of my stuff that fell out of my shopping bags back in all the while trying to get myself up off the ground and looking out for cars.  It was so embarassing that I couldn't even look around to see who was watching.  Luckily, the three of us and all of our purchases made it to the car relatively unharmed.   

 


WHICH MOMENTS IN PARENTING MAKE YOU FEEL THE MOST VULNERABLE OR UNSURE? WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU TURN TO IN ORDER TO FEEL BETTER?
Since I had kids, I feel very vulernerable in terms of things going on in the world that I have no control over.  I can have a panic attack just thinking about the horrible events that have recently taken place from shootings in schools to political unrest.  I have to literally avoid these topics because it makes me never want my kids to leave the house.  To feel better, I look for the positive side of humanity and try to seek out the good things happening in the world.  I also try to cherish every moment I have with my kids, stay present, and have faith that everything will be alright. 

 

 
 
WE ALL HAVE BAD DAYS, AND SOME ARE WORSE THAN OTHERS. WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO COPING STRATEGY TO MAKE IT THROUGH THE REALLY ROUGH SPOTS?
 
A break...I have to remove myself from the situation.  I go to the bathroom and close the door for a few minutes or I put the kids down for their nap early.  And if it's really bad, I tell my husband I need some "me" time and plan a pedicure or we will plan a date night.  Wine also helps :)

WE ALL NEED HELP TO MAKE IT ALL HAPPEN. WHAT TOOLS DO  YOU USE TO HELP ORGANIZE YOUR FAMILY? (APP, PRODUCT, ETC.)
 I am lost without my calendar and a to do list.  If it's not written down, I will forget it.  So, that is how I keep track of everything.  I also keep my kids on a consistent schedule...this way there are no surprises for anyone!
 
 
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE ANYONE HAS EVER GIVEN YOU ON BEING A PARENT?
The best advice I have ever gotten is to not compare myself to other Mom's...and this one's tough for me because most of my Mom friends are SAHM's...I am definitely the minority in the work department.  I find myself feeling bad that I don't get to spend as much time with my kids or do as much fun stuff.  And even when it comes to keeping the house clean or staying organized...I just often feel like I fall short.  So, I try to take this advice because at the end of the day I know that I am a great Mom that loves her kids more than anything.  All the stupid things I worry about like how clean or organized my house is...just don't matter.  What matters is a happy, healthy family that is well loved and that I've got covered.
 

 

 


New this week, I want to share blog posts from other bloggers that I read that inspired me as a mother. First is from blogger, Glennon Doyle Melton. I love the voice in her writing. It makes you feel like you are with her in a coffee shop chit chatting about motherhood!  Read the post here on working moms vs. stay at home moms.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Guest-Bloggers Health-and-Wellness Fri, 07 Feb 2014 00:34:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/2/get-real-series
Valentine's Day Gifts for Mom & Baby http://mariadismondy.com/2014/2/valentines-gifts-for-mom-baby

Valentine's Day is around the corner. I am so thankful to be a part of these mom-owned businesses (featured in the picture above) that can help you find Valentine's gift for the wife (mama) or baby in your life! Thank you for supporting mom-owned businesses like Making Spirits Bright: One Book at A Time! 

 

I have fond memories of Valentine's Day. My mom made it a big deal with red hearts everywhere and a few special gifts. I started the tradition of a Fancy Family Dinner a few years back around the holidays but moved it to Valentine's Day after a friend suggested making it more meaningful when it wasn't among the hustle and bustle of December. I put on a fancy dress, I get the kids dressed up (Baby Boy has a tuxedo onesie for this year's dinner) and I make a special dinner at home. Check out my Pinterest Board for more ideas on making this a special holiday!

 

Accessory Connectz® Create endless looks with one little gadget. Accessorize flip-flops, headbands, belts, pet collars and so much more. Made in the USA.

 

Babee Covee 6-in-1 baby blanket can be used for 1) car seat “tent” cover 2) stroller cover/blanket 3) shopping cart cover 4) high chair cover 5) nursing cover and 6) playtime blanket.

 

Baby Jack Blankets Sensory Blankets Baby Jack Blankets creates sensory ribbon tag baby blankets. Vibrant & modern fabric paired with plush dimple minky backing.  Accented around the blanket are ribbons sewn shut into Tabs to prevent tiny fngers from getting intertwined like other products on the market. Ribbons provide entertainment, security and comfort. Babies love textures; item also used as a tactile toy for autism and special needs.

 

Bobee Inc A wall-mounted diaper dispenser and wipe caddy that allows you to•Keep one hand safely on your baby while grabbing a diaper or wipe with the other hand•Decorate the dispenser to match your nursery room decor with our line of colorful polka dot decals•Organize the changing table area for other important baby items•Keep diapers and wipes up and out of the way from curious little hands. Made in USA.

 

Cover My Heart Nursing Cover, Fashion with a Purpose, from nursing cover to fashion accessory for moms everyday look.

 

Daddy & Company DaddyScrubs is dedicated to providing dads in every stage of fatherhood a way to proudly proclaim, “I’m the Daddy!” DaddyScrubs is committed to excellence and strives to deliver quality products at great prices while ensuring the highest level of customer service and satisfaction.

 

Homeworks Etc. Designs Homeworks Etc. designs wall decor and more for baby nursery and kids rooms.  Our goal is to design wall decor that is decorative and functional, unique and stylish. They include: Wall Hooks (Growth Charts) Wood Letters (Canvas Art) Signs (Decals). Mix and match our designs to create a space that reflects your likes and your child’s interests.

 

LillyBit Uptown Diaper Clutch A brand dedicated to creating stylish and functional, on-the-go accessories.

 

Liv N Lily Boutique Liv and Lily is a luxury brand of children’s accessories that has brought premium fabrics together with sophisticated designs to create a line as stylish as it is timeless. Inspired by playful and traditional elements along with style icons, dressing up your children has never been more lavish and luxe.

 

Lovey’s Body Products Inc. Lovey’s Body Products makes natural, worry-free body care products for you and your baby.

 

Magnificent Baby Spend more magnificent moments with your little one. Our easy-to-use, Smart Close magnetic-fastening infant’s wear will have your baby dressed in seconds! No more snaps, no more buttons! Soft. Simple. Magnetic.

 

Maria Dismondy (children’s author)  Maria is the author of award-winning children’s books, including Pink Tiara Cookies for Three, Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun, and The Juice Box Bully. She believes in making a positive difference in children’s lives.

 

Milk N Cookies Milkin’ Cookies are delicious lactation cookies for nursing moms. They include healthy ingredients to boost breast milk production.

 

Rock a Thigh Baby Socks Made in USA, eco-friendly, children’s thigh-length socks (like legwarmers with feet), developed by a WI mom of 4 girls.

 

Poopoose The Original PooPoose™ is a high quality changing pad that makes changing diapers faster, easier, and safer.

 

SeatPak Huggies Award Winner. Inventor of the SeatPak, the mini diaper bag that attaches to the infant car seat for hands-free carrying. Also attaches to a stroller, luggage, purse handle and more.

 

Sticky Bellies  Sticky Bellies® are milestone stickers for your favorite bellies! Simply peel, stick and snap a pic! The perfect gift for a new photo-crazy mama!

 

SwimZip UPF Protective Swimwear Making UV protection a ZIP! Swim shirts with UPF 50+ and a full length zipper for easy on easy off for parents and children alike!

 

Teething Bling Teething jewelry made for Moms, safe for babies!

 

The Push Pack Prepacked Hospital Bag Selling peace of mind in a bag. Home of the Push Pack – the prepacked hospital labor bag. One less thing for expecting moms to worry about. Created by a mom for moms. A great baby shower gift, just for the MOM to be!

 

Tivoli Couture Practical Luxury Solutions for Baby’s Comfort Year Round

 

Vulli Sophie the Giraffe USA Sophie the Giraffe is the world’s favourite baby teethers from France. Trusted by celebrities and mothers, millions of Sophies have been sold worldwide since 1961. Sophie is handmade in the French Alps using natural rubber from the Hevea Tree.

Holidays Author-Adventures Mon, 03 Feb 2014 00:11:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/2/valentines-gifts-for-mom-baby
Let's Get Real http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/get-real-interview-series
Welcome to my new series where I interview real-life mamas. My blog is titled "Be the difference" Parents have the power to make a difference in their children's lives from the very start. I want to honor parents in this series for the hard work they are putting into raising the next generation.
The intention of this series is to showcase a number of individuals with children primarily in elementary school and younger (But I will interview some mamas of older children too!) I will not be sharing names or photos.
Why is this you ask? The purpose of the series is to bond together with our similiarities instead of using our differences to compare each other. Comparison can be the devil when it comes to parenting. I want to try to eliminate factors that would make us doubt ourselves.

Please enjoy reading these interviews every Friday over the next few months!

 

 


Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.  ~Elizabeth Stone

 

Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children, and no theories.  ~John Wilmot

 

It's not only children who grow.  Parents do too.  As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours.  I can't tell my children to reach for the sun.  All I can do is reach for it, myself.  ~Joyce Maynard

 

There are two lasting bequests we can give our children.  One is roots.  The other is wings.  ~Hodding Carter, Jr.


 

Interview #1 

 

Let’s face it, this mom gig is hard! What do you find to be the hardest part?
 
Patience!!  I struggle with having patience with my 3 yr. old.  Sometimes, I lose my patience with her and end up yelling at her or snapping at her.  And then of course, I feel really guilty about it.
 
Not having enough time to myself.  I LOVE spending time with my girls.  However, after watching them all day (I'm a SAHM) and then helping make dinner, cleaning up dinner, and then putting them to bed, there's not a lot of "me" time.  It would be ideal to have 2-3 hours each day to workout, shower, read or do whatever I felt like doing.  

Laughter is the best medicine. What is your most embarrassing Mama Moment you can look back on and laugh about now?
 
My 3 yr. old went through a mooning phase where she thought it was funny to moon people in public.  I remember standing at the front desk at the vet office and someone tapped me on the shoulder and then pointed down at my daughter and she had her pants down to her ankles and was sticking her little booty out at people!  what?!  Where did she learn this?  I certainly haven't been mooning people!

Which moments in parenting make you feel the most vulnerable or unsure? What resources do you turn to in order to feel better?
 
I struggle with how to deal with her bad behavior.  We do time outs and they work most of the time.  However, sometimes if I talk to her about not saying certain words, she gets really upset and cries as though I've made her feel horrible.  So I read a lot about how to stop bad behaviors like hitting, breaking rules, saying certain words, etc.  I like "Happiest Toddler on the Block" and recently "Love and Logic."  And most of the time, I ask my friends that have kids how they handle certain situations and that's very helpful.

We all have bad days, and some are worse than others. What’s your go-to coping strategy to make it through the really rough spots?
 
On really rough days, I cope by having my husband take over totally when he gets home and then I go workout or take a hot bath.  And then I just try to think of how to handle the situation better next time and visualize what I'll do differently.  If it's in the middle of the day and I need a coping mechanism right away, I usually have my daughter have some quiet time in her room while I read a magazine for 10 min.  Or I load the kids up in the stroller and go on a walk if it's decent outside.

We all need help to make it all happen. What tools do  you use to help organize your family? (app, product, etc.)
 
I have a little weekly list of what's happening each day and "to do's" for the week.  I just write everything down and use my google calendar, too.  I've learned I'm much happier with not having too much on my calendar!  
 
What is the best advice anyone has ever given you on being a parent?
 
That there's no "right" way to do it.  We all make mistakes.  Just learn from your mistakes and do your best! :)
Family-Fun Guest-Bloggers Fri, 31 Jan 2014 00:02:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/get-real-interview-series
It's A Wrap! http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/its-a-wrap

 

And so we come to the end of touring around a number of fasinating blogs for two weeks.

 

I am happy to end the tour with my dear friend Barbara over at The Corner on Character. Not only is she a fellow blogger buddy but she is also now a fellow author friend of mine as she is in the midst of writing her first book (MUCH more on that to come)! Go on and visit Barbara today and give her some bloggin' love! It's a wrap!

 

Blogger: Barbara Gruener

 

Blog Title: The Corner on Character

 

Premise of the Blog: Barbara is a counselor and character coach at an elementary school in Texas. She loves what she does and it shows in her work as well as the words she writes on her blog!

 

Virtual Tour Blog Post: Found here 

 **There is an awesome video of Barbara using my new book to teach a group of little ones in her school! You MUST check it out! **

 

A favorite blog post for you to check out:

Be-attitudes

 

Giveaway Details: Enter to win by January 30th on Barbara's blog.

 

 

Giveaways Guest-Bloggers Book-Reviews Mon, 27 Jan 2014 00:20:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/its-a-wrap
Blog Tour Freebie http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/blog-tour-freebie

Today's stop on the blog post comes to us from the OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD over in Guam! 

Welcome Mrs. M and thank you for participating!

 

Blog Title: Color Me Kinder

 

Premise of the Blog: A fantastic display of creativity and passion from a kindergarten teacher. Her Teachers Pay Teachers site is amazing!

 

Virtual Tour Blog Post: Found here

  

Giveaway Details: Go to the blog post and download the free printables created to go along with my book! These can be used with toddlers too by having a parent write what they say before they illustrate their work! 

Book-Reviews Guest-Bloggers Giveaways Sun, 26 Jan 2014 00:46:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/blog-tour-freebie
Miss Nelson's Got a Book Review http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/miss-nelson

I'm excited to welcome Miss Nelson back to my blog! She's an amazing teacher blogging over in Florida (oh how I wish I was there in the warm weather now!) 

 

Blogger: Michelle Nelson

 

Blog Title: Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera

 

Premise of the Blog:Michelle has been teaching for 10 years and has super creative ideas. She loves to stay up late and I am sure this is how she finds the time to create such amazing products!

 

Virtual Tour Blog Post: Found here

 

A favorite blog post for you to check out:

25 Manners all kids need to know by the age of 9.

 

Book review she's written in the past:

Potato Chip Champ

 

Giveaway Details: Enter to win by commenting on Miss Nelson's blog post by January 27th

Author-Adventures Guest-Bloggers Book-Reviews Sat, 25 Jan 2014 00:33:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/miss-nelson
The Helpful Counselor http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/the-helpful-counselor

Blogger: Heather

 

Blog Title: The Helpful Counselor

 

Premise of the Blog: From Heather 
My goal in creating this website is to share ideas and strategies the promote social, emotional, and behavioral development. I hope you find information and tools that you can utilize right away.

 

Virtual Tour Blog Post: Found here

 

A favorite blog post for you to check out:

The Feelings Coloring Pages and activity suggestion. 

 

Check out my guest post on kindness on The Helpful Counselor.

 

Giveaway Details: Enter to win by February 1st

Book-Reviews Guest-Bloggers Author-Adventures Fri, 24 Jan 2014 00:51:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/the-helpful-counselor
Growing Book by Book http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/blog-tour-growing-book-by-book

We had a few day break in the tour but we are BACK with Jodie today! Her blog is FULL of great ideas and I get lost for hours reading her ideas. Enjoy!

 

Blogger: Jodie

 

Blog Title: Growing Book by Book

 

Premise of the Blog: Jodie is an early childhood educator, mother of two and someone who is passionate about growing young readers!

Virtual Tour Blog Post: Found here

 

A favorite blog post for you to check out: Family dinner book club-complete with activity ideas and discussion questions! I can't wait to incoporate this into our family dinner routine!

 

Giveaway Details: Enter to win by January 30th

 

 

 

 

Giveaways Book-Reviews Thu, 23 Jan 2014 00:01:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/blog-tour-growing-book-by-book
Blog Tour Day Nine http://mariadismondy.com/2014/01/blog-tour-day-nine

Blogger: Jessica Benson

 

Blog Title: Little Scholars

 

Premise of the Blog: Jessica, a kindergarten teacher, shares her passion for teaching with her creative ideas and activities.

Virtual Tour Blog Post: Found here

 

A favorite blog post for you to check out: Her FREEBIES section! Great for teachers, reading interventionists and parents who want to do one-on-one activties with their preschoolers to help strengthen their literacy skills.

 

Giveaway Details: TBA

 

Giveaways Character-Traits Book-Reviews Tue, 21 Jan 2014 00:56:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/01/blog-tour-day-nine
Blog Tour Continues…Day 8! http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/blog-tour-day-eight

Kayla's book review post is titled "Little Book, Big Lesson" I love it! Read ahead to find out more about Kayla!

 

Blogger: Kayla Marston

 

Blog Title: The School Counselor Kind

 

Premise of the Blog: Kayla is an Elementary School Counselor in Maine. She uses her blog to share her ideas, thoughts, and feelings about the work that she does. 

Virtual Tour Blog Post: Found here

 

A favorite blog post for you to check out: Counseling Tools that Kayla lists can be used in the classroom or AT HOME. I am soooooo going to order the Feelings Game to play with my kids! 

 

Kayla also has an excellent list of books you should check out. 

 

Giveaway Details: Enter to win by January 25th on Kayla's blog.

 

 

Giveaways Guest-Bloggers Book-Reviews Mon, 20 Jan 2014 00:49:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/blog-tour-day-eight
Two is better than ONE! http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/blog-tour-day-seven

We have two bloggers on the tour today! Let's start with Amber from Laue's Littles

 

Blogger: Amber Laue

 

Blog Title: Laue's Littles

 

Premise of the Blog: Amber is a classroom teacher and mother of two who blogs great ideas from her classroom experiences. I especially liked her review of my new book, that she agrees with me that several children come to the classroom lacking simple traits like manners to say hello back to someone who greets them. 

Virtual Tour Blog Post: Found here

 

A favorite blog post for you to check out: 

Cute classroom freebies for all my readers who are teachers, check this out! 

 

Giveaway Details: Simply leave a comment on Amber's blog post and a winner will be chosen on January 20th

 


 

Blogger: Marissa Rex

 

Blog Title: Elementary School Counseling

 

Premise of the Blog: Elementary School Counselor that shares loads of ideas as well as freebies and printables to go with her lessons! Her website is well organized with makes it real easy to navigate!

Virtual Tour Blog Post: Found here

 

A favorite blog post for you to check out: 

Book ideas and lessons to go with the character traits EXCELLENCE and COURAGE (I will be going getting these books to review these traits with my Character Homeschool Lessons!)

 

Giveaway Details: Comment with ideas on Marissa's blog on how YOU might use my new book with your students or children. A winner will be chosen on January 31st.

 

Giveaways Guest-Bloggers Book-Reviews Sun, 19 Jan 2014 00:35:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/blog-tour-day-seven
Blog Tour Day Six http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/blog-tour-day-six

Blogger: Susan

 

Blog Title: Entirely Elementary...School Counseling

 

Premise of the Blog: From Susan: "What you will see on the blog, is an extension of how I run my school counseling office - fun, welcoming, colorful -- with high expectations, organization, drive, and genuine care."

Virtual Tour Blog Post: Found here

 

A favorite blog post for you to check out: Click on the tab "It Stuck WIth Me" at the top menu bar of her blog. I especially liked the video on It Stuck with Me #4 of the young baseball fan. Check it out! 

 

Giveaway Details: One day---enter to win by Sunday, January 19th!

 

Giveaways Guest-Bloggers Book-Reviews Sat, 18 Jan 2014 00:25:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/blog-tour-day-six
Blog Tour Day Five http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/blog-tour-day-five

Welcome to the blog tour, Tabitha and congrats on expecting your own little miracle in June! Readers---so glad you joined us this Friday for another great stop on the Virtual Book Tour!

 

Blogger: Tabitha

 

Blog Title: Scrapbook of a School Counselor

 

Premise of the Blog: Tabitha has some fresh ideas coming from someone new to school counseling. I especially like how her blog is organized into tabs on the right hand side bar. She breaks up her lessons by grade level, by type (small group, classroom support, school programs, etc.) 

Virtual Tour Blog Post: Found here

 

A favorite blog post for you to check out: The Kindness Boomerang

 

 

 

Giveaways Guest-Bloggers Book-Reviews Fri, 17 Jan 2014 00:15:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/blog-tour-day-five
Blog Tour Continues http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/blog-tour-four

We are on Day 4 of the blog tour. There are already three days behind us. Have you met great bloggers (yes) and entered to win copies of my new book (I hope another YES!) How about this tricky question: Have you shared the blog tour with your friends, family and co-workers? Go ahead, give this Virtual Tour a shout out on Facebook, Twitter, or in an email. Share the love with others! The more we educate families on teaching kids Character---the BETTER! 

 

Blogger: Vanessa

 

Blog Title: Savy School Counselor

 

Premise of the Blog: Making a difference, one child at a time. LOVE THIS! 

Virtual Tour Blog Post: Found here

 

A favorite blog post for you to check out: Her lessons on Character are all really good. I will refer to these when working with my kids at home but think they are also great to be used in the classroom or in small groups settings.

 

Giveaway Details: Enter to win an autographed book (tweet about it or become a fan of Vanessa's blog) by January 22nd!

Giveaways Guest-Bloggers Book-Reviews Thu, 16 Jan 2014 00:58:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/blog-tour-four
Welcome Mrs. K! http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/blog-tour-day-three

I'm so happy to have Mrs. K back on my blog! She wrote my FAVORITE review on Amazon when she had a group of her students create a video review! Welcome back Mrs. K.!

 

Blogger: Laurel Klassen (Mrs. K)

 

Blog Title: Mrs. K's Good Stuff

 

Premise of the Blog: Elementary school counselor who shares creative, yet simple (what I also call reasonable and realistic) activities to be done with a small group of students, classroom or your children at home. Her ideas are always really great! 

Virtual Tour Blog Post: Found here

 

A favorite post/activity from Mrs. K's blog:

Handling grief with a group activity and a great book. Grief is like a snowflake.

 

Giveaway Details: Leave a comment to enter to win a free copy of my new book on Mrs. K's blog by the deadline January 20th. 

 

Giveaways Guest-Bloggers Book-Reviews Wed, 15 Jan 2014 00:30:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/blog-tour-day-three
Blog Tour Day Two http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/blog-tour-day-two

Day Two on the tour. Let's meet Traci today over in North Carolina! 

 

Blogger: Traci Hart

 

Blog Title: Elementary School Counselor's Blog

 

Premise of the Blog: Traci is an elementary school counselor who shares her passion for the job online with her readers.

Virtual Tour Blog Post: Found here

 

Giveaway Details: Enter a comment on her blog to enter to win by January 21st.

 

Favorite Post: Traci's review of an app by the makers of Sesame Street. It's called Feel Electric. Read more about the app here.

 

Giveaways Guest-Bloggers Book-Reviews Tue, 14 Jan 2014 00:25:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/blog-tour-day-two
Blog Tour http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/virtual-tour

Welcome to The Virtual Blog Tour for my newest book, released one month ago, Spoonful of Sweetness.

 

For the next two weeks, I will be featuring a different blogger every day. At the same time, they will be featuring my book on their blog. It is a fun way to gather new resources for both parents, teachers and caregivers who read my blog. As you surf the web during the week, why not check out a few blogs that will give you information to help you on your journey of raising your little ones?

 

My blog is titled Be The Difference. It is my mission to share simple lessons, crafts, activities, traditions, books, etc. with you to use when working with young children to help them develop healthy habits and tools to use on their social-emotional journey in friendships and life in general. These bloggers do the same! So I hope you can add a few of your favorites to your weekly reading list!

 

Blogger: Andrea Burston

 

Blog Title: Jyjoynercounselor 

 

Premise of the Blog: Sharing her counseling tips and tricks in a fun, realistic and humorous way. She also incorporates the use of technology in her ideas!

Virtual Tour Blog Post: Found here

 

Giveaway Details: Enter to win (4 different ways) by January 18th

 

A Favorite Post of Mine:

Planning a School-Wide Service Project Night &

Lesson on Telling the Truth

 

 

Author-Adventures Mon, 13 Jan 2014 00:10:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/virtual-tour
Welcome Baby Dismondy http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/welcome

My blog, Be the Difference, is on a break until the Spoonful of Sweetness Virtual Tour begins one week from Monday (starts 1-13-14)

Until then, we are loving the newest addition to our family.

 

Family-Fun Author-Adventures Sun, 05 Jan 2014 00:24:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/1/welcome
Happy Holidays! http://mariadismondy.com/2013/12/happy-holidays

Happy Holidays to all of my awesome readers! 

Artwork  by Dawn Beacon. The talented illustrator of The Potato Chip Champ

Author-Adventures Mon, 23 Dec 2013 00:02:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/12/happy-holidays
Blog Break http://mariadismondy.com/2013/12/blog-break

 

 

We are anticipating the arrival of our newest family member anyday now and I am signing off from blogging for a month. I 

will be taking 8 weeks off from school programs and consulting calls with a big return for March is Reading Month. It's so much harder to take a maternity leave with a small business but I am going to try my best!

 

Happy Holidays and I wish you a Happy New Year!

 

 

Author-Adventures Mon, 16 Dec 2013 00:03:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/12/blog-break
Character Lessons Month #3 & #4 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/12/homeschool-character-lessons-month
Welcome! If this is your first time here, I am sharing lessons I teach my 4-year-old each month. Each week I choose two books, 

have two discussions and we create two crafts that go along with one character trait. I use a variety of resources online to put together the lesson plans. Enjoy!  

 

Week #1 Gratitude

 

Read: The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns

Discuss:  This book is great to teach the attributes of shapes. But the Greedy Triangle in this book also learns to be grateful for what he has... a great chance to talk about how we are all different and how special and awesome it is to have people with different strengths in the world!

Make: Trace and cut out shapes like the shapes in the book. Make a design with the shapes you created.

 

 

Read: The Thankful Book by Todd Parr

Discuss: What are YOU thankful for? Talk about what the words gratitude and grateful mean.

Make: A handprint thankful tree. List things you are thankful for on the leaves like this sample here.

 

Week #2 Generosity

 

Read: Dogger by Shirley Hughes

Discuss: How do you think you would feel (empathy) if you lost your favorite toy? Do you think that's how the boy in the story feels? What did his sister do that was so kind? What she did can also be called generous. Think of a time you did something that was generous for someone else.

Make: Fold a piece of paper into thirds. Then, have your child retell the story in three parts. Write what they say in the three sections of the paper--beginning, middle and end. Finally, have your child illustrate their work to match their words.

 

Read: Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett

Discuss: Do you think the yarn box was magical? What would you have done with all that yarn? How did the girl in the story show generosity? Why do you think she passed up the offer to give away her yarn box for money?

Make: Help your child come up with three Random Acts of Kindness to complete. Be sure they are reasonable and realistic for their age. List them on a piece of paper on your fridge and complete them together.

 

Week #3 Sharing

 

Read: Chloe Instead by Micah Player

Discuss: Can I just add in that I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH!!! It is awesome for a big sister to have in regards to her little sister. Discuss how the big sister didn't want to share her things with her little sister. In the end, why do you think she shared her things?

Make: Print out the free activity kit found here. There is a great Feelings matching game to complete and a color and share activity.

 

Read: It's Mine by Leo Lionni

Discuss: What does it mean to share? Does the frog in this book share? What does he learn is important in the end?

Make: A rock frog like this one. Or try to make this oragami jumping frog for your child to play with and decorate!

 

Read: Mine-o-Saur by Sudipta Quallen

Discuss: "That's not fair! You should share!" Why do the dinosaurs at school keep repeating these lines in the book? Who isn't sharing? Do the other dinosaurs want to play with someone who doesn't share? Would you want to play with someone who doesn't share? Why or why not?

Make: Paint your child's foot and stamp it on a piece of paper. Have them cut out the footprint and turn it into a dinosaur. Glue it to a piece of paper and ask your child to both name the dinosaur and tell you what they did to share---write this caption on the picture!

 

Read: Sister Bear Learns to Share by Stan and Jan Berenstein

Discuss: Does Sister Bear remind you of any of your friends? How does it make you feel when a friend doesn't want to share with you? Why is sharing important?

Make: Play the "Learn to Share Game" My girls LOVE the Berenstein Bears. I have grown to love their books to since each has a very good lesson in it.

 

Month #4 
Week #1 Patience

 

Read: This Monster Can Not Wait! by Bethaney Barton

Discuss: Talk about a time you wanted something so bad and you had to wait (a family vacation, Christmas, Birthday Party, etc.) How come the monster decided to enjoy each day in the end instead of thinking about his trip? What changed his thinking?

Make: Monster Cookies. The hard part is reminding your preschooler to be patient and wait to eat the cookies until they are all done!

 

Read: Be Patient, Petunia by Erin Butler 

Discuss: Petunia couldn't wait for anything! Come up with a few different times that you and your child had to practice patience. I like to use this work aloud with my girls when we are running errands so they can experience the tricky concept right as it is happening. Example: While waiting in a long line at the post office, trying to contain the kids from trashing the card area and turning it into a game to keep them occupied, all the while, me, the 9-month pregnant mama is a hot, sweaty mess. I say to my girls, "We are being patient while we wait!"

Make: Pull out construction paper, scissors, markers and glue. Work with your child to make a cake that has everything they love. Ask your child to come up with a title for their cake. If it were a real cake, does your child think they could wait to take a bite?

 

Week #2 Hope 

Read: Someday by Eileen Spinelli

Discuss: This book is FILLED with visions of HOPE from a little girl as she dreams about what she wants to be when she grow up! Let your child be a dreamer and tell you all about what THEY want to be when they grow up. Bite your tongue and allow the sky to be the limit! 

Make: Think of a way to help your child organize and set up a pretend play of what they want to be when they grow up. A chef? Let him or her wear your apron and make a chef hat as you play in their pretend kitchen. A teacher? Set up a classroom with stuffed animals. Your child gets to be the teacher and you are a student!  

 

Read: The House on Dirty Third Street by Jo S. Kittinger

Discuss: The concept of this book MAY be a bit difficult for a child to understand but it is written in such a way that they will take something away. A mother and child relocate into an old dingy house. Ask your child, why you you think the little girl in the book is so sad about moving to a new house? How come the mom in the book is working so hard on the house they moved into on thirty-third street? After the mom and girl go to church that first Sunday, church members start showing up at the house to help fix it up. Why do you think they were doing that? Did you notice the pictures in the book were all gray at the beginning but near the end they were bright and colorful? Let's talk about why that may be!

Make: Using a paper lunch bag, create a 3-D house like the one here. Talk about the neighbors in your own community. How do they help each other out?  

 

 

 

Character-Traits Fri, 13 Dec 2013 00:04:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/12/homeschool-character-lessons-month
My Happiness Project Recap http://mariadismondy.com/2013/12/happiness-project-recap

This was the second year I completed a Happiness Project. With the realization that things will be busy next year, I am still going to set some goals, but instead of monthly goals I am going to expand it to quarterly goals. 

 

Quarter #1? Complete 100 Random Acts of Kindness. New and thoughtful ones. I am going to keep track in a similar way this family keeps track of their 100 Thank Yous.

 
December: Chill out and remember what's important as we spend time together as a family before the arrival of Baby Dismondy #3
 
November: Family Memory Catch-Up

In addition, with the help of my mom, we made these books with cards from holidays from family members for the girls. This is where I got the printables--- like this example

 

October: Green Smoothie Challenge

Follow-Up: I missed a few days here and there but my favorite part of this month's green smoothie challenge was the fact that Dave kept up t


 oo. Two months of a smoothie challenge has easily made our green drinks a part of our daily routine.

This month I purchased two great products for our smoothies. The first is a set of plastic lids. Our regular canning jar lids get rusty from being washed so much! I also bought blue vintage mason jars and they are just plain pretty to use! 

 

Not only did I learn a lot from the green smoothie challenge but I made a committment to my family and have stuck with making these green drinks for us through out the week. Check out all there is to offer in doing the 30-Day Green Smoothie Challenge

 
September: Clean-Up the Attic

 

Follow-Up: Phew! So happy my attic clean-out is over with. It took me several days to do it but it's done and it feels really good! I found some pretty funny things I was saving like plastic table clothes I haven't touched in 10 years that had crumbs still folded up into them! Ugh! 

 

I must say, the labels make me really happy when I go into the attic to retrieve things now. It's the little things....

 

August: Online Parenting Class

Follow-Up: This month I am participated in a class that came with the purchase of a new book I read called Beautiful Babies. This course was AMAZING! It was quite time consuming and I could have stretched it over two months instead of one. Some of my favorite things about the course were the birth stories (they were included in each lesson) and the videos. Here is a brief outline of what was introduced in the course...

Lesson #1: Diet and nutrition for women

Lesson #2: Dangers of industrial goods and hidden ingredients (especially GMOS)

Lesson #3: Local and pasture based animal foods (along with the benefits of buying them)

Lesson #4: Foods that help populate the gut with HEALTHY bacteria (ex. Raw Milk)

Lesson #5: Fertility and pregnancy nutrient filled diets

Lesson #6: Midwives and Doulas

Lesson #7: Chairopractic care and Acupuncture along with natural, alternative remedies for common ailments

Lesson #8: Natural childbirth and understanding the fear-tension-pain cycle

Lesson #9: Breastfeeding and homemade formula

Lesson #10: Baby Led Weaning-introducing solids instead of purees and cereals

Lesson #11: Postpardum exercise and nutrition

Lesson #12: Where to buy REAL food locally, Meal Prepping and the 80/20 rule

 

I would highly recommend new mothers take this class and anyone who has interest in changing their family's nutrition lifestyle. For years I have listened to my friend Danielle about what foods are good for me and why. This course backed all of what Danielle taught me with research and went into depth about why these changes are so beneficial to my family.

 

 

July: Exercise Challenge

Follow-Up: I did it (I do have two days left so up to this point, I did it!) Every single arm challenge (including the suggested rest days) minus one set of push ups and one set of biceps. Dave started off doing them with me and as you can see in the picture, he had an extra 20 lb. challenge on him! I do not see a difference in my arms which is a bummer but Dave does which is great! It was REALLY hard near the end of the month with the challenge but I stuck to it. I like when I commit to something and I follow through. It gives me those personal brownie points we all need every once in awhile.

 

June: 35 of My Favorite Things

Follow-Up: I listed 35 things (in honor of my 35th birthday in May) that make me happy to complete in June. Here's the list. I did almost everything. Sitting in the sun and doing nothing did not get crossed off my list. I've come to realize that as a working from home, mother of two, sitting in the sun and doing nothing is unrealistic. I like to be busy and this was the old me who loved laying out in the sun. Now, if I am 

sitting in the sun, it makes me happy to be reading for enjoyment or work---to be productive.

 
May: Pursue My Hobby

Follow-Up: I completed a four week class from Jessica Sprague called Portraiture 101. I also watched one-hour of an online workshop but it wasn't speaking to me so I didn't watch the entire clip over at Creative Live. It felt really good to be challenged behind the lens and to capture our everyday moments with my fancy Nikon and not just my iPhone! We had a journaling assignment where we created an artist statement. I also got a fun camera bag for my birthday!

 


April: Going Green

Follow-Up: Our family had a green smoothie every single day this month except for one! It was one day in Florida and I couldn't find a 

restaurant on the run to make me a green drink. 29/30 days, not bad. Will we keep it up? Sure! Everyday? I don't think that's necessary. Here's what I found out: Prepping ahead of time and making up your smoothies in bags in the freezer saves you a ton of time. The recipes make enough for our entire family and sometimes we have an 8oz drink left over. I keep this in the fridge and it is good for up to 24 hours. My blender is not the quality blender to be using for making smoothies every day but I am not ready to spend close to $500 for a Vitamix. I will put up with our current blender until it gives out on us!

 

March: Work 

Follow-up This month I wanted to grow in a few areas in regards to work.

1. Read Pinterest Savvy by Melissa Taylor and create five things I learned from the book that I am going to put to use. These are the five things I learned about: Verify my website (check), comment on pins (I haven't done this yet), pin my videos (check), create a board and invite others to pin on it (check), after you follow someone new pin some of their stuff (check).

2.Google+ -I am on it, my profile is set, I've joined communities and circles but I am not sold on this platform yet.

3. Sponsorships-A HUGE thank you to my web girl and my graphic designer for helping me to get the advertisement up and running!

4. Thank you to my intern Karelyn for your support in our super successful Twitter Party! We had over thirty people join in the conversation. There were women from Hawaii, India and Singapore! We also had almost 200 entries for our Kindle Giveaway on Pinterest. It was a great month of new marketing adventures.

 
February: Clean Up & Clear Out

Follow-up This month I wanted to clean or organize something every day of the month. I also wanted to tackle a task that I had been thinking about for a very long time.

1. The clean up was good! I liked having a small task each day. I got a bit behind when we took our family trip.

2. I wrote the letters. Letters to my loved ones in case anything unexpected were to ever happen. Creepy, yes. Something I've always wanted to do though.

 

January: Learn

Follow-up This month I wanted to learn something new. I committed to doing this in three ways.

1. Learn to load the dishwasher. Check. It still doesn't look professional but with all the plastic servingware I am getting in there, I am not sure that's possible. Thanks to my pal Erica, I am able to fit more into my dishwasher with some organization!

2. UPDATE: September--I now ignore the warnings on my phone and haven't played the piano in months!!!!!Play the piano twice a week. 

3. Learn to share my love. I participated in the Happier at Home 21 Day Relationship Challenge. I signed up for this challenge to learn some new, creative ways to show my appreciation to those I love in my life. I don't see my home lacking in love but why not learn more about vulnerability and authenticity? My favorite things I learned: Don't keep score, create a threshold ritual, and kiss in the morning and at night. 

 

One Little Word:

I have followed Ali Edwards project "One Little Word" for two years now. My word for 2011 was Peace and my word for 2012 was Balance. I've never taken her class but I have incorporated my word into my monthly goals/wishes/resolutions. Here's how to come up with a word (from Ali). My word for 2013 is Grace.

 

 

Can you identify a single word that sums up what you want for yourself in 2013?

It can be something tangible or intangible. It can be a thought, a feeling, or an emotion. It can be singular or plural. The key is to find something that has personal meaning for you. This is not your mother's word or your spouse's word or your child's word—this is YOUR word.

One little word can have big meaning in your life if you allow yourself to be open to the possibilities. And here's one thing that is totally interesting: sometimes a word will pop into your brain and it will not make any sense to you right now. Give it some time. Let it percolate a bit. I have often found that our heart speaks to us in very unique ways. Maybe this is a word you need to hear but just aren't ready for it yet.

Again, be open to the possibilities.

- See more at: http://www.mariadismondy.com/2013/11/happiness-project-november/#sthash.SkwbXBsR.dpuf

Health-and-Wellness Mon, 09 Dec 2013 00:30:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/12/happiness-project-recap
New Book Release Details http://mariadismondy.com/2013/12/book-release-details

 

Here are the details on the new book release!

 

Official Book Launch and Book Signing: 

Saturday-December 14th

11-1

Barnes and Noble 

Northville, MI

** For family and friends coming to the event, I tend to leave right when it ends to get home to Dave and the girls.

I've had someone show up and miss me because I had already left! Beware! **

 

Learning App for ages 12 months+

I'm thrilled to have my first learning app released on itunes via Tiny Tap. It teaches

simple skills such as animals, colors and numbers. In one week you will be able to go to 

iTunes and search Spoonful of Sweetness or go to

Tiny Tap

Part of the app is free and to unlock the rest will be a very small fee! It's best played on an iphone or ipad/tablet!

 

Available on Amazon:

Spoonful of Sweetness: And Other Delicious Manners

 

Virtual Book Tour:

Two weeks full of book reviews, activities and giveaways.

Come back to my blog, Be the Difference between January 13th-27th for daily links to follow the blog tour.

You can enter to win copies of the new book daily and find new blogs to read!

 

Free Parent/Teacher Resource Guide:

Here is the free download for this new book.

 

Free Coloring Page:

Find a coloring page to go along with the new book here.

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Fri, 06 Dec 2013 00:57:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/12/book-release-details
Postpartum Must Haves for the Mama http://mariadismondy.com/2012/postpartum-must-haves-for-mama

 

It's the final countdown for me! I am officially full term as of today at 37 weeks pregnant. My bags are packed, the car seat is ready and now we just wait until Baby Dismondy is ready to make his or her entrance into the world! Here are a few of my postpartum must haves as I will not be blogging for awhile once the baby comes I thought I would share these now!

 

1. The Boppy Pillow- Not only do we use this pillow to help with nursing but we found many other ways to use it with a newborn all the way until they start sitting up. It provided a sturdy support as they played and were still unsteady in the seated position. A must have after baby is born!

 

2. Nursing Tanks- Nursing bras were uncomfortable for me. As my body healed they were just too much pressure on that part of my body but I found great relief in nursing tank tops. Target's are my favorite because they are low in cost and high in quality! I have them in brown, gray, black and white and where them under all my shirts for the first 6 weeks after delivery until I am feeling myself again!

 

3. The Nipple Shield-Even with our second child, my little one didn't get the nursing latch from the get go and I had very sore and very painful tatas. The nipple shield helps babies latch on and helps protect your sore nipples. I have mine packed in my hospital bag and am not going to shush the lactation consultant away this time telling her "I've got this. I've done this before" It's important to get the latch correct from the very beginning in order to reduce or eliminate any damage to your nipples.

 

4. Prescription Nipple Cream- Just in case the latch goes south again, I am prepared with prescription nipple cream. It was like a miracle worker for me the first two pregnancies. Here is a link with the ingredients. If you print this off and share with your OB, they can write you a prescription. Trust me, it does so much more than the over the counter creams! The cream I have pictured above is one I have seen highly recommended all over the internet lately but I haven't tried.

 

5. Witch Hazel Pads-Soothing for your behind. Have these onhand to help your body with the healing process. They feel much better when stored in the fridge and are used slightly chilled.

 

6. Epsom Bath Salts (with lavendar)-Before I have the baby and after I take many Epsom baths. With my last child, I didn't make the time to get in the tub as much as I should have postpartum. It can be for just 10 minutes and it will make such a difference in healing your body. Find the time. I prefer this brand of salts because it has lavendar essential oils in it with are soothing to the mind. I buy mine at Kroger!

 

7. Postpartum Belly Wrap-Our hospital will provide me with a wrap if I ask. These can get pretty expensive but they help you feel nice and snug after your belly goes from large and tight (and cute according to everyone you encounter near the end) to smooshy and jiggly (understandable after having just pushed a human being out of that space.) A belly wrapped helped especially after my c-section because it held my sore and tender abdominal muscles in when the simple act of laughing or coughing hurt.

Health-and-Wellness Wed, 04 Dec 2013 00:23:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/postpartum-must-haves-for-mama
Traditions http://mariadismondy.com/2013/12/traditions

I've written about traditions before and here I go again. I love them and look forward to certain traditions more than others. Here are a few favorites around this time of year. What are your special traditions? Please comment below! Maybe I will have some added to the list next year.

 

Picture Caption: A letter from my sweet girl. She leaves me notes everywhere now!

 

The Detroit Turkey Trot: Since I first did this 10K race in Detroit with my friend Christina back when we were 20 years old, I have kept with the tradition. I have dragged many different friends out the morning of Thanksgiving to partake in one of my favorite traditions. Call me crazy to love running bright and early on a holiday but it feels like it kicks off the season for me. I've missed a few years here and there but will continue to do my best to keep this tradition. Being a parent now, I understand how hard my dad worked to take my sister and I to the Detroit Thanksgiving Parade every year. Thank you Dad!

 

Now, as far as going out in a blizzard with two kids again? That's questionable. It was tough to make everyone happy this year!

 

Pajama Breakfast: My friend and I have been getting together to craft around the holidays since 2000. When we started having kids, we changed it up and turned it into a Pajama Breakfast. Basically, a playdate in our pjs with snowman pancakes! One week until our annual get together and I can't wait!

 

Christmas Caroling: This will be our 5th or 6th year Christmas caroling at the local senior home. It started out with my neighbors and now it's a bunch of our friends and their kids. It's one of those charity events that instead of simply donating money, you SEE the benefits of your time and energy right before your eyes. The smiles on the seniors' faces and the happiness they get with each hug and high five the children give them is priceless. These are the kind of charity events I am trying to get our family involved in rather than writing a check to an organization. Even our annual charity walks don't show them the reason we volunteer. I like that it is a family filled event and we are actively doing something but it was hard to explain why we were walking for Alzheimers earlier this year.

 

Tree Decorating: We never make plans the morning after Thanksgiving. It's time to get out our Christmas tree and decorations. We listen to Christmas music and fill our house with red and green galour! 

 

Three Gift Rule: My cousin inspired this gift-giving tradition for us. Three gifts from Santa. That's it. Something to play, something to wear and something to read. We then generously fill their stockings and give one nice gift from us (Mama and Papa--because why would Santa bring gifts but not Mom and Dad?) I've had moments of panic thinking "Is this enough? Will they feel the joys of the holiday with just four gifts?" Then I look around at all they are given the night before on Christmas Eve and on Hannukah from family and the anwer is yes. They are blessed with gifts around the holidays and this Three Gift Rule is perfect for our family.

 

Christmas Genies: My friends and I had the Christmas Genie tradition since college. There are five of us that exchange names and we only know the name of our genie, no one elses. For three weeks, we mail out gifts in the mail to our genie. Then at the final genie party, we reveal our genies and give a nice gift after dinner. It's a lot of fun going to the mailbox and getting your special genie gift. Then trying to guess the handwriting or the packaging. Genies are tricky though so you never know what they will be up to! Even my girls get excited about my genie gifts!

 

Family-Fun Mon, 02 Dec 2013 00:17:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/12/traditions
Nesting http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/nesting

From Pregnancy Weekly: 

Around the fifth month of pregnancy, the "nesting" instinct can set in. This is an uncontrollable urge to clean one's house brought on by a desire to prepare a nest for the new baby, to tie up loose ends of old projects and to organize your world.

 

Females of the animal kingdom are all equipped with this same need. It is a primal instinct. Just as you see birds making their nests, mothers-to-be do exactly the same thing. The act of nesting puts you in control and gives a sense of accomplishment toward birth. You may become a homebody and want to retreat into the comfort of home and familiar company, like a brooding hen. The nesting urge can also be seen as a sign of the onset of labor when it occurs close to 40 weeks of pregnancy.

 

I've been nesting for a few months but lately it's in high gear! Here are some things I've done as my way of feeling somewhat prepared for bringing a new baby home.

 

  • Emptied old spices, filled containers with new spices and washed down all the spice jars.
  • Cleaned out the attic and finished with a big trip to the Salvation Army.
  • Made my hubby vaccum under our beds. It turned into him rearranging our bedroom which is really fun for the change!
  • Cleaned all celing fans and bathroom light fixtures (so much dust and cobwebs, gross!)
  • Scrubbed out the oven and ended by running the self cleaner.
  • Emptied every drawer in our kitchen, wiped out the drawer and organized the belongings.
  • Cleaned out the fridge and freezer.
  • All bathroom cabinets, emptied, wiped and organized
  • Stocked up on all paper products.
  • Purchased and wrapped all Christmas Gifts before November 1st.
  • Tossed any expired medicine.
  • Vaccumed and wiped out my car.

 

Family-Fun Health-and-Wellness Wed, 27 Nov 2013 00:39:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/nesting
Great Holiday Gift Ideas http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/great-gift-ideas

Warning: If you are part of my immediate family--do not read this blog post because I am sharing ideas about gifts I have purchased for YOU for the holidays! Thanks!

 

My Christmas gifts have been purchased, made and wrapped. I am not embarassed about this as I am in major planning mode for this baby and having the holidays under my belt helps! 

 

I don't just buy gifts. I put a lot of thought and time into picking the perfect gift for family and friends. Even if it means getting ideas from Pinterest that aren't original. Here are some of this years gifts I am excited to give.

 

1. Collar Stays

This gift is actually for my husband's birthday which is just a few days after Christmas. I am very excited about this one. He wears collar stays each day in his work shirts. They are little plastic ones that came with the shirts. Red Envelope offers fancy personalized collar stays. I wrote some of our favorite sayings on his, both silly and sentimental. I think putting them in his shirts in the morning will make him smile and he can be reminded of how much I love him each day.

 

2. Initial Mugs

Oh how I love these mugs! We have one with an initital for each person in our family. They are dainty and comforting to drink out of.

This year I am pairing them with coffee and books for a few cozy gifts.

 

3. Date Night Basket

For my parents, I bought them the following items and included them into a big basket. A romantic movie, bottle of wine from Target called "Be Flirty", a cd filled with love songs, wine glasses, a heart-shaped frame with a picture of them in it, chocolates, candles, and a card game.

 

4. Cozy Night In Bag

Similar to the Date Night Basket, my friend Holly suggested a "Night In" basket. I bought a cute bag from Thirty-One and filled it with a bottle of wine from Target called "Be You", a book, a blanket, a box of candy, a box of cookies, an initital mug, a box of tea, and a candy dish.

 

5. Pearl Tradition Bracelet

My friend Amy gave me this great idea. There is a jeweler in town that specializes in Add-a-Pearl Necklaces. You purchase a chain of pearls and add one pearl to a necklace for a special little one each year for their birthday. I made mine a little different for my nieces (since I think it would get hard getting the necklace back from my sister-in-law every year, taking it to the jeweler to get the pearl added then giving it back), I added 8 pearls to a bracelet for each niece and wrote them a letter telling them that each pearl represents one year of their life and a year that their Uncle Dave and I have loved them dearly! On their 16th birthday, we will add 8 more pearls and finally, on their 21st birthday we will complete the bracelet. A real fresh water pearl bracelet that they can cherish for ever!

 

6. Fort Kit

I saw this idea on Pinterest and made my own kit for my cousin's boys. They just had a new baby in their house (a little girl) and I think it would be fun for the boys to build a fort to escape all the pink frilly things surrounding them! 

 

7. The Red Plate Tradition

I can't remember where I first heard about this but I love this idea. A special red plate that members of the family get to eat off of on special days in their life. A job well done at work for dad. Mother's Day to celebrate Mom. A goal scored at a soccer game. Or maybe "just because". I bought a few of these plates to give to friends and family with young children. 

 

Here's a description of the tradition: 

It was a time honored tradition among early American families when someone deserved special praise or attention, they were served dinner on The Red Plate. Today this custom, so dear to early American families, returns to remind us a simple reward can mean so much. The Red Plate is the perfect way to acknowledge a family member's special triumphs . . . celebrate a birthday . . . praise a job well done . . . reward a goal achieved . . . or simply say "You are Special Today". When The Red Plate is used, any meal becomes a celebration, honoring that special person, event, or deed. It is a visible reminder of love and esteem, a way of showing someone dear to you they are appreciated and remembered. The Red Plate is designed and crafted to become a family heirloom as it is cherished and passed from one generation to the next, marking life's important milestones. This heart shaped Red Plate is 10.5" diameter plate and comes gift boxed with a pen. The Red Plate . . . make it a tradition in your family.

 

A few crafts I've made with ideas from Pinterest:

 

1. Teacher Gifts-You were "Mint" to Teach along with Thanks a "Latte" coffee gift cards!

 

2. For family and friends-Peppermint Sugar Scrub 

 

3. Some family gifts-

     We wish you a Merry "Kiss" Mas!

     For your mistetoes!

     Funny candy sayings

 

 

 

Family-Fun Mon, 25 Nov 2013 00:01:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/great-gift-ideas
Friday Inspiration http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/friday-inspiration-quotes

Here are some of my current favorite inspirational quotes floating around Pinterest. 

There are some days that just reading one of these helps to get me through a negative mind trap! Like Fall seven times, stand up eight... How many times have I been turned down by retailers, agents, publishers, etc. for my books? Too many to count! But I keep going and that's what some day, someone will realize sets me apart from the rest! 


Health-and-Wellness Fri, 22 Nov 2013 00:27:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/friday-inspiration-quotes
Preparing Siblings for A New Baby http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/preparing-siblings-for-new-baby

 

Bringing a new baby home to your family is a much bigger transition than you think. Being prepared and planning for this transition will help ease everyone into the newness of a larger family. Here are my top tips for preparing siblings for the arrival of a new baby (based on my own experiences.)

 

1. Read books on the topic

 Be careful, I have found some that have a negative tone and I try to stay away from that. I want the kids to know the truth; that the baby will cry and won't be able to play at first but at the same time I don't want them hearing about how the older sister didn't like the baby sister.

 

2. Give a gift...

...to your older child (ren) that is "from" the baby. Kids love presents and if the baby is giving them a new toy? That baby just won his or her new siblings heart!

3. Give Compliments

Compliment your older children on what a good job they are doing helping with the baby--be specific about what it is you are happy they are doing. "You are a fantastic big sister! You helped get diapers when I was changing the baby. Thank you!"

 

4. Carve out quality time for each of your children.

I know this sounds sooooo hard but at the same time it's sooooo important. Even if it's reading books to your oldest child for 15 minutes before bed without any other siblings around. This kind of quiet/quality time allows your older children to bring up any concerns they may have about the new baby and it reminds them of how much they are loved.

 

5. Visitors play a role in the transition too!

Encourage visitors to play with older siblings instead of simply "Ooohing and Ahhing" over the new baby.

 

6. Be Prepared

Our daughter had almost an entire week of naughty behavior when we brought our youngest home. We were shocked that she was acting out so badly. Then one day it just stopped. Be patient with your older children, the unknown of a new baby can be scary and confusing to them. We made sure to carve out extra time with our oldest. My husband did the unthinkable, he took the baby to her first 3 day appointment on his own (he said the nurses at the practive were very impressed) and I had a few quiet hours at home alone with my big kid! 

 

 

Family-Fun Health-and-Wellness Wed, 20 Nov 2013 00:34:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/preparing-siblings-for-new-baby
RAKS-Random Acts of Kindness http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/raks-to-do-this-month

I saw a friend making RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) cards with her toddler on Facebook and have been doing the same with my girls this month. We just take a piece of colorful cardstock and write "A Random Act of Kindness for You" at the top of the card. At the bottom, we think of something sweet to say like... You are awesome! You make me smile! You are generous! Then the girls decorate the card and we pass them out to teachers, neighbors, leave them on strangers cars, etc. We have also sent a few to some of our relatives we don't see often.

 

It is never to early to teach your children about kindness and learning to GIVE without limits and without expectations. I want my girls to learn that we do not give in order to receive, we give in order to show kindness and appreciation. Here is a list of ideas of Random Acts of Kindness to do during this holiday season!

 

  • write with chalk on a neighbor's sidewalk why you are thankful for them
  • text someone out of the blue a sweet message or a compliment
  • send a thank you card to someone
  • rake someone's yard
  • select toys and books with your kids to donate to a charity
  • donate clothing
  • leave a lottery scratch off at the gas pump
  • open a door for someone
  • invite someone over for dinner
  • bake cookies to share
  • leave coins taped to a vending machine
  • pay for someone's meal behind you in a drive through
  • pay for someone's meal at a restaurant
  • leave a nice tip for your server at a restaurant
  • pay someone's library fee for them
  • bring hot cocoa to the donation workers at Goodwill or Salvation Army
  • drop coins in someone's parking meter
  • leave a treat for your mail carrier
  • make a blessings bag filled with snacks, a few dollars, first aid kit, etc to give to someone in need.
  • return shopping cards to the store from the parking lot
  • leave a postive note like "You look AMAZING" taped to the mirror  in the dressing room at a store
  • leave a dollar on the shelf in the toy or candy aisle at the dollar store
  • buy a few boxes of crayons and coloring books and drop off or send to a children's hospital for their waiting room
  • pick up some trash in a parking lot
  • leave a box of microwave popcorn on a red box machine

 

You can print out RAK cards to leave when you complete a Random Act of Kindness that describes what a RAK actually is here.

What is this list missing?

Family-Fun Mon, 18 Nov 2013 00:50:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/raks-to-do-this-month
Nutrition: Grocery Tour & Beyond Organic http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/grocery-shopping-beyond-organic

Our MOPS group had a nutritionalist come speak to our group a few weeks ago. The presentation was followed the next week by a grocery shopping tour. If you have the slightest curiosity on today's food epidemic, I highly recommend you take a grocery tour in your area. How do you find one? Health Clubs often offer classes and tours (ours was organized through Lifetime Fitness). Health food stores like Whole Foods also offer tours. 

 

Topics discussed during both the program and tour:

Healthy snacks for kids

GMOs

Gluten Free trends

The new food guide pyramid

Supplements

Grass fed and organic meats

Fruits, vegetables and pesticides

Cage Free eggs

High fructose corn syrup and other nasty chemicals in foods

 

If you would like more awareness on healthy habits for your family but you don' t have the time or means to take a class or a tour, check out these videos:

 

Food, Inc.

Crazy Sexy Cancer (Kris Carr's story) 

Forks over Knives

 

I just finished a book called Live Beyond Organic by Jordan Rubin. The story of one man's transformation from near death to being healthy again due to his DIET was amazing. Following the inspirational story on how food can change your life, the book dicusses nutrition as well as how your mental well being can also be affected by what you eat. Recenly, my friend Danielle started working for Jordan Rubin's company and she helped facilittate a cleanse that was super successful! Here's more on her and the company if you would like to know more...

 

Beyond Organic products are truly the healthiest products available! Jordan Rubin goes to great lengths to make sure his animals are "Green Fed" drink spring water and processed ethically.  You will never have to worry where you food has come from when using Beyond Organic foods. I personally have noticed significant changes since I started using the products. From a seven pound weight loss to increased energy, clearer skin, more focused and calm, to less bloating. My entire family is enjoying the benefits of these products. I love the food so much that I have decided to get involved in the Beyond Organic company.  If you have any questions, feel free to either go to my website:daniellekovachevich.mybeyondorganic.com or contact me at nourishinghearts6@gmail.com for more information.

 

 

Health-and-Wellness Fri, 15 Nov 2013 00:44:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/grocery-shopping-beyond-organic
Why You Should Get Maternity Pictures http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/why-get-maternity-pictures

As a part of my pregnancy series, today I want to tell you why I think pregnant women should get maternity pictures. Now, I'm not saying you have to go and hire a super fancy schmancy photographer (although if you have the means, go for it! There are a lot of packages that include maternity, new born, six months then a first birthday photo session.) With my first pregnancy, I had my husband take some pictures of my belly. Then with subsequent pregnancies, I enlisted friends with a passion in photography as a hobby or budding career to take some pictures for me. 

 

These pictures aren't blown up on the wall in my house. But they are tucked away in baby books and in my own albums to remember years from now. Pregnancy is truly such a miracle. Right now there is a 4 1/2 lb. baby INSIDE of me, growing and preparing to enter the world. This little human and I have been connected for 34 weeks now. My body has transformed from my normal self to a house for a baby. It's something I never want to forget. But as much as you try to cherish every moment of the pregnancy, especially the kicks, jabs and hiccups. We forget. We forget what it's like to have this little human remind us of their life inside of us through the day with it's quick little movements. 

 

My advice is to go for it. Ask a dear friend you are comfortable with to take some pictures of you, your husband and your belly. Or you and your children and your belly. We are reminded to cherish every day, every moment. So go ahead and cherish the miracle you have created!!!

 

Photo Credits: Thank you to my wonderful, creative and talented friends!

First set of photos: Christina McGuire Photography

 

Second set of photos: Emily Petrous 

Author-Adventures Wed, 13 Nov 2013 00:34:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/why-get-maternity-pictures
Early Thanksgiving http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/early-thanksgiving

It's been a really great few days. A lot of time spent with the family and I love that. It started with dinner for my dad's birthday, then a quiet Friday night at home with Dave followed by a family walk Saturday morning before we headed off to Grand Rapids to be with a BFF's family for an early Thanksgiving Dinner. This particular friend's family has included me in special events for years and then they so graciously accept my husband and children into their home for weekend sleepovers! We are so lucky!

 

Have you ever heard of the life pie chart? You think of your time and activities in a pie chart visual. How much time you spend with certain groups according to their ranking in your happiness. I used to spend large portions of my time with people, committees, events, etc. that didn't matter. Why? Because I was trying to prove that I was enough (I was reminded of this while working on a work program today when I came across my personal commandments). That I was the girl who did it all. It was exhausting. It's taken a ton of practice but now I am selective about how I choose my time. I am not selfish with my decisions, I still find ways to give back and make a difference in different areas of my life. But I do these things because I want to, not because I feel pressured, or guilted into. I think about balance and the importance of my marriage, family and friends. My point is, spending time with family and good friends, is worth a HUGE chunk on my pie chart. These people are so kind and generous and they truly matter to me!

 

Here were some highlights from the Early Thanksgiving Dinner:

 

1. Sweet older friend "L" who played with my girls non-stop. She created a restaurant called "Cool Kids Cafe" complete with a menu! The adults were waited on by L and my two littles.

2. Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt I got from Pinterest. My girls came inside with a chunk of moss and a birds nest. One with nature!

3. Playing football on the brisk fall night.

4. The game, Roll A Turkey from Pinterest.

5. The food (of course). Dave and I really made the kids table the place to be!
6. Movie night with popcorn--this might have been our 4 1/2 year olds first movie night. She's watched Cinderella but that's all and we didn't make her popcorn while we watched it. I have a thing about young children and movies that I probably need to get over :)

7. Our family of 4 (1/2) bunking in one room. Always hilarious.

8. My girls classic dresses. I loved how timeless they were!

9. Coffee in the morning with all the over night guests, including a special catholic priest who blessed our family and when he did so, the baby kicked his hand!

10. Being together and being present. 

 

Find more Thanksgiving Activities on my Pinterest Board here.

 

 

Family-Fun Crafts-with-Kids Mon, 11 Nov 2013 00:57:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/early-thanksgiving
Making Spirits Bright T-Shirt Sale for Charity http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/making-spirits-bright-sale

Holiday Cheer is starting to happen around here! We decorated our house for Thanksgiving last weekend and now 
Making Spirits Bright has announced T-shirt sales as a five-year anniversary celebration! If you don't know what Making Spirits Bright is, head over to our Facebook page to find out. My friend and I started a non-profit five years ago to make a difference in our community. We do this by inspiring family and friends to donate their time to help others. We post positive quotes on our Facebook page to motivate our followers to live their best life possible. It's all about "Making Spirits Bright"
 
We are selling T-shirts for $15. They come in a women's cut, men's cut as well as Toddler and Youth Sizes. All styles are $15.
Message us on Facebook with your order and your email. We will email you an invoice to be paid via Paypal. All orders will ship the first week of December (just in time for the holidays.) 
 
Proceeds from the T-shirt sales will go to Project Night-Night. 
 
Project Night Night donates over 25,000 Night Night Packages each year, free of charge, to homeless children who need childhood essentials to feel secure, cozy, ready to learn, and significant. By providing objects of reliable comfort, 

Project Night Night reduces trauma and advances the emotional and cognitive well-being of the children they serve. Books, a blanket and a cuddly stuffed animal are 

items included in the Night Night Packages.
 
Toddler shirts are the lighter blue and come in 2T, 3T and 4T
The youth tee comes in XS-XL (XS 2-4, S 6-8, M 10-12, L 14-16, XL 18-20
Make-A-Difference-Monthly Fri, 08 Nov 2013 00:34:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/making-spirits-bright-sale
Hospital Favors http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/hospital-favors

When I taught first grade, I received a cookie from a student the day after her baby sister was born. It was like a birthday party favor announcing the birth of the new baby. Kind of like the cigars and candy bars people might pass out after the birth of a baby! 

 

My first daughter was in the breech position and we had a scheduled c-section for her delivery. A few days prior, I spent several hours making star shaped cookies as hospital favors to pass out upon the arrival of our first born. I had my husband fill in the labels with the baby's birth details and we gave them to visitors as well as hospital staff. I was so grateful for the support and kindness of the hospital staff, it felt really good to thank them with a little treat right then and there.

 

When our second child was born, I filled snack sized baggies with Hershey Kisses and added the title "Worth the wait..." Again, on the back was the baby's stats that this time my mom and stepmom spent time filling in for us as we oohed and ahhed over our new little girl. 

 

I am really excited about the project I am working on for Baby #3. I got the idea from Pinterest for a party favor that was made for a birthday favor. Candy filled baby food jars! Here's how to make them...

 

Step #1 Use baby food and clean jar (I bought carrots and used them in my peanut butter muffin recipe that includes pureed carrots since my girls are off baby food.)

 

Step #2 Spray paint the outside and inside of the jar lids (the insides are stained with the baby food.)

 

Step #3 Make a cute label to go on the outside of the jar (I ordered mine from Etsy here.)

 

Step #4 Add candy to the jar before sealing. I bought bright and happy colored candies from Target---just $1 a bag! 

 

Step #5 Tie with some cute ribbon or rick rack and add your label.

 

Step #6 Pass out to your loved ones who visit you at the hospital as a sweet reminder of the little miracle they just met. I like to give them out to nurses, midwives and doctors too!

 

 

 

Family-Fun Make-A-Difference-Monthly Wed, 06 Nov 2013 00:37:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/hospital-favors
Inspiration to Pay It Forward http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/inspiration-to-pay-it-forward

I want to tell you a story. A story of how an idea my friends and I put into action inspired two others to pay it forward. It's the perfect story to share as we begin the holiday season. 

 

For our friend's birthday in January 2013, we spent the night out in Ann Arbor completing 35 Random Acts of Kindness for others. You can read all about what we did here. Apparently, my friend told me that my actions to pay it forward last holiday season inspired her to pay it forward which in TURN inspired her friend Holly to pay it forward as well. Isn't that wonderful? Holly's actions were shared in the Detroit Free Press just a few weeks ago. Her RAKS were in honor of her mother who passed away five years ago.

 

Back up just a few weeks prior to Holly's awesome deeds going viral (so many people joined in to honor her mother via facebook!) to my friend Maggie honoring her mother for her 65th birthday. Her goal of having 65 RAKS completed for her mother's birthday turned into over 100 RAKS! You can read about it here. Once again, the inspiration trickled down from one person to another and look at all of the great things that came of it!

 

As we enter this holiday season, I hope you will feel inspired by these stories to BE THE DIFFERENCE. Remember the old saying? Our actions speak louder than our words. It's so true!

 

My MOPS group works with two organizations through out the year to give back. The first is Operation Christmas Child. At our November meeting, moms will work together to make between 10 and 15 shoebox gifts for children overseas. This is a wonderful service project YOU can do at home with your own children. My girls and I filled a tupperware container with gifts for a child ages 2-4, then I wrapped the lid and bottom of the box, you add $7 for shipping and VOILA! You've made someone's day. We are writing a letter to the child with a picture of our family. We read online that the children may write back which would be really fun for my four year old (and for me too!) 

 

The other organization we support is Families Building Faith. We will collect gently used toys that will be distributed to children during the holidays and through out the year, we get together and make sandwiches which Families Building Faith passes out to the homeless in Detroit. Our group made over 200 sandwiches last month and will do it again this month at our November meeting.

 

Please share special groups that you work with to give back! I love hearing stories like this that warm the heart!!!

 

Looking for holiday gifts to give? Check out our non-profit Making Spirits Bright on Facebook. We are selling t-shirts this holiday season and proceeds will go to a local charity called Project Night Night!

 

 

 

Holidays Character-Traits Author-Adventures Mon, 04 Nov 2013 00:11:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/inspiration-to-pay-it-forward
Happiness Project November http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/happiness-project-november
November: Family Memory Catch-Up

This month I am dedicating time to catching up with my 2013 family yearbook. Each month I enter pictures into a Shutterfly book. We love looking through these books through out the year. I've kept up with loading my monthly pictures onto Shutterfly (I've had one hard drive crash and learned my lesson. Backing up pictures, documents and videos is top priority to me!) but I am behind adding them to our yearbook (4 months behind! Yikes!) 

 

In addition, I've been saving cards for the girls from their birthdays and holidays from family members. I am going to find time this month to put their cards together in a little memory holder like this example. My plan is to combine as many birthdays worth of cards into one book. Then they will go into our girls memory boxes (they have two big ones they will get when they leave the house) and they can decide what to do with them when they are older!

 

I am really excited about this month. Besides my crafty projects, our family will spend time doing things for others to pay it forward and be thankful for all that we have. 

 

October: Green Smoothie Challenge

Follow-Up: I missed a few days here and there but my favorite part of this month's green smoothie challenge was the fact that Dave kept up too. Two months of a smoothie challenge has easily made our green drinks a part of our daily routine.

 

This month I purchased two great products for our smoothies. The first is a set of plastic lids. Our regular canning jar lids get rusty from being washed so much! I also bought blue vintage mason jars and they are just plain pretty to use! 

 

Not only did I learn a lot from the green smoothie challenge but I made a committment to my family and have stuck with making these green drinks for us through out the week. Check out all there is to offer in doing the 30-Day Green Smoothie Challenge

 
September: Clean-Up the Attic

 

Follow-Up: Phew! So happy my attic clean-out is over with. It took me several days to do it but it's done and it feels really good! I found some pretty funny things I was saving like plastic table clothes I haven't touched in 10 years that had crumbs still folded up into them! Ugh! 

 

I must say, the labels make me really happy when I go into the attic to retrieve things now. It's the little things....

 

August: Online Parenting Class

Follow-Up: This month I am participated in a class that came with the purchase of a new book I read called Beautiful Babies. This course was AMAZING! It was quite time consuming and I could have stretched it over two months instead of one. Some of my favorite things about the course were the birth stories (they were included in each lesson) and the videos. Here is a brief outline of what was introduced in the course...

Lesson #1: Diet and nutrition for women

Lesson #2: Dangers of industrial goods and hidden ingredients (especially GMOS)

Lesson #3: Local and pasture based animal foods (along with the benefits of buying them)

Lesson #4: Foods that help populate the gut with HEALTHY bacteria (ex. Raw Milk)

Lesson #5: Fertility and pregnancy nutrient filled diets

Lesson #6: Midwives and Doulas

Lesson #7: Chairopractic care and Acupuncture along with natural, alternative remedies for common ailments

Lesson #8: Natural childbirth and understanding the fear-tension-pain cycle

Lesson #9: Breastfeeding and homemade formula

Lesson #10: Baby Led Weaning-introducing solids instead of purees and cereals

Lesson #11: Postpardum exercise and nutrition

Lesson #12: Where to buy REAL food locally, Meal Prepping and the 80/20 rule

 

I would highly recommend new mothers take this class and anyone who has interest in changing their family's nutrition lifestyle. For years I have listened to my friend Danielle about what foods are good for me and why. This course backed all of what Danielle taught me with research and went into depth about why these changes are so beneficial to my family.

 

 

July: Exercise Challenge

Follow-Up: I did it (I do have two days left so up to this point, I did it!) Every single arm challenge (including the suggested rest days) minus one set of push ups and one set of biceps. Dave started off doing them with me and as you can see in the picture, he had an extra 20 lb. challenge on him! I do not see a difference in my arms which is a bummer but Dave does which is great! It was REALLY hard near the end of the month with the challenge but I stuck to it. I like when I commit to something and I follow through. It gives me those personal brownie points we all need every once in awhile.

 

June: 35 of My Favorite Things

Follow-Up: I listed 35 things (in honor of my 35th birthday in May) that make me happy to complete in June. Here's the list. I did almost everything. Sitting in the sun and doing nothing did not get crossed off my list. I've come to realize that as a working from home, mother of two, sitting in the sun and doing nothing is unrealistic. I like to be busy and this was the old me who loved laying out in the sun. Now, if I am sitting in the sun, it makes me happy to be reading for enjoyment or work---to be productive.

 
May: Pursue My Hobby

Follow-Up: I completed a four week class from Jessica Sprague called Portraiture 101. I also watched one-hour of an online workshop but it wasn't speaking to me so I didn't watch the entire clip over at Creative Live. It felt really good to be challenged behind the lens and to capture our everyday moments with my fancy Nikon and not just my iPhone! We had a journaling assignment where we created an artist statement. I also got a fun camera bag for my birthday!

 


April: Going Green

Follow-Up: Our family had a green smoothie every single day this month except for one! It was one day in Florida and I couldn't find a restaurant on the run to make me a green drink. 29/30 days, not bad. Will we keep it up? Sure! Everyday? I don't think that's necessary. Here's what I found out: Prepping ahead of time and making up your smoothies in bags in the freezer saves you a ton of time. The recipes make enough for our entire family and sometimes we have an 8oz drink left over. I keep this in the fridge and it is good for up to 24 hours. My blender is not the quality blender to be using for making smoothies every day but I am not ready to spend close to $500 for a Vitamix. I will put up with our current blender until it gives out on us!

 

March: Work 

Follow-up This month I wanted to grow in a few areas in regards to work.

1. Read Pinterest Savvy by Melissa Taylor and create five things I learned from the book that I am going to put to use. These are the five things I learned about: Verify my website (check), comment on pins (I haven't done this yet), pin my videos (check), create a board and invite others to pin on it (check), after you follow someone new pin some of their stuff (check).

2.Google+ -I am on it, my profile is set, I've joined communities and circles but I am not sold on this platform yet.

3. Sponsorships-A HUGE thank you to my web girl and my graphic designer for helping me to get the advertisement up and running!

4. Thank you to my intern Karelyn for your support in our super successful Twitter Party! We had over thirty people join in the conversation. There were women from Hawaii, India and Singapore! We also had almost 200 entries for our Kindle Giveaway on Pinterest. It was a great month of new marketing adventures.

 
February: Clean Up & Clear Out

Follow-up This month I wanted to clean or organize something every day of the month. I also wanted to tackle a task that I had been thinking about for a very long time.

1. The clean up was good! I liked having a small task each day. I got a bit behind when we took our family trip.

2. I wrote the letters. Letters to my loved ones in case anything unexpected were to ever happen. Creepy, yes. Something I've always wanted to do though.

 

January: Learn

Follow-up This month I wanted to learn something new. I committed to doing this in three ways.

1. Learn to load the dishwasher. Check. It still doesn't look professional but with all the plastic servingware I am getting in there, I am not sure that's possible. Thanks to my pal Erica, I am able to fit more into my dishwasher with some organization!

2. UPDATE: September--I now ignore the warnings on my phone and haven't played the piano in months!!!!!Play the piano twice a week. 

3. Learn to share my love. I participated in the Happier at Home 21 Day Relationship Challenge. I signed up for this challenge to learn some new, creative ways to show my appreciation to those I love in my life. I don't see my home lacking in love but why not learn more about vulnerability and authenticity? My favorite things I learned: Don't keep score, create a threshold ritual, and kiss in the morning and at night. 

 

One Little Word:

I have followed Ali Edwards project "One Little Word" for two years now. My word for 2011 was Peace and my word for 2012 was Balance. I've never taken her class but I have incorporated my word into my monthly goals/wishes/resolutions. Here's how to come up with a word (from Ali). My word for 2013 is Grace.

 

Can you identify a single word that sums up what you want for yourself in 2013?

It can be something tangible or intangible. It can be a thought, a feeling, or an emotion. It can be singular or plural. The key is to find something that has personal meaning for you. This is not your mother's word or your spouse's word or your child's word—this is YOUR word.

One little word can have big meaning in your life if you allow yourself to be open to the possibilities. And here's one thing that is totally interesting: sometimes a word will pop into your brain and it will not make any sense to you right now. Give it some time. Let it percolate a bit. I have often found that our heart speaks to us in very unique ways. Maybe this is a word you need to hear but just aren't ready for it yet.

Again, be open to the possibilities.

 

Health-and-Wellness Fri, 01 Nov 2013 00:56:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/11/happiness-project-november
Third Trimester Treats for the Mama-to-Be http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/treats-for-the-third-trimester

Whether it is your first baby or your third, every mama deserves some tender loving care during that last trimester of her pregnancy. The aches and pains begin to increase as the weight gain picks up. The hormones are still raging and emotions about having a baby reach a high. Here are a few ways you can treat yourself or a friend who is in their third trimester. Even with two little ones at home, I am trying to make room for these special treats. The mama's health and wellness is so important!

 

1. Chiropractic Care: Since 28 weeks I have been going once a week to our local chiropractor. I had pain in my tailbone which was previously fractured during my second delivery. WIthin two visits, my pain was relieved and I am feeling good again! There are things to consider when choosing a chiropractor during pregnancy. Read about it here.

 

2. Massages: The weight gain and pressure the baby can put on your body begin to increase as you near the end of your pregnancy. A massage is such a nice treat to healing those aching muscles. There will be modifications when you have a prenatal massage like laying on your side instead on your stomach and back. Be sure to find a massage therapist who is trained in prenatal massage.

 

3. Manicure/Pedicures: My husband is funny about me getting my nails done while pregnant. He's read up on the effects the salon fumes can have on an unborn fetus. On the other hand, I found a salon near my house that is never busy and has very good venilation. My first few pregnancies I only had my nails done the last month or so to get those toes looking pretty for labor. This time around I have treated myself a bit more. The massage chair and someone taking care of my nails (especially my toes which I can no longer reach) for thirty minutes is hard to resist. I do not get tips or shellac--nothing with extra chemicals.

 

4. Alone Time: A trip to the grocery store. A date with yourself at the gym. Dinner or coffee with a friend. Being alone and doing something you enjoy is healthy for the mama's well being and overall balance. Here's what I have learned...you have to ask for help to get it. You have to tell your spouse or partner that you need this time in order to get it. Unfortunately, they don't read minds (as much as we would hope they do).

 

5. Epsom Baths: A warm bubbly bath can do wonders! Add some epsom salts to health those aches and pains and you are good to go! Remember there are restrictions of having a bath after your water breaks for risk of infection so be sure to speak to your doctor about it.

 

6. Naps: The third trimester! You are in the home stretch! Try to squeeze in a few naps before that baby arrives. Tuesday this week I could barely keep my eyes open mid-afternoon. I had a list full of things that needed to get done but I knew listening to my body was just as important and I managed a quick nap. I actually spent extra time during my second trimester when I had loads of energy preparing for some holiday happenings so that I could allow myself some down time during these last few weeks. I know moms who are working don't always have this luxury so my best advice (taken from when I was preggers working full time) is to get as much done on those lunch breaks of yours so that you can head straight home from work and put your feet up!

 

7. Date Night: Don't forget to keep that love life alive (it might take every last bit of energy you have but it is imperative!) with a date night for you and your spouse or partner. In November we will celebrate 8 years of marriage with a night out to see Elton John (we are closet Elton John fans.) We also have a date night planned to go to a friends Thanksgiving party. I know date nights can get expensive so try out a Mom Swap. Find a mama friend to come babysit for you one night then repay the favor. It saves us $40-$50 a date not having to pay someone. It's also more comforting to me to have a mama babysitting versus a youngin' 

Health-and-Wellness Wed, 30 Oct 2013 00:02:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/treats-for-the-third-trimester
Homeschool Character Lessons Month #2 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/homeschool-character-lessons-month-two

 

Welcome! If this is your first time here, I am sharing lessons I teach my 4-year-old each month. Each week I choose two books, have two discussions and we create two crafts that go along with one character trait. I use a variety of resources online to put together the lesson plans. Here are the lessons from Month #1. Enjoy!
 
Week #1 Self-Esteem

Read: Unique Monique by Maria Rousaki 

Discuss: What does the word unique mean? How come Monique was always bringing different accessories to school? Take a look at you and I, what makes US unique? 

Make: A self-portrait of yourself. What makes YOU unique?

 

Read: Carla's Sandwich by Debbie Herman

Discuss: Carla liked to eat different kinds of foods. What kind of food do you like to eat that others might think is different? How do you think Carla felt when her classmates were making fun of the food she ate? Do you think eating different foods is a bad thing? What happened at the end of the story? 

Make: Your own unique sandwich for lunch. Let your child go into the fridge and come up with their very own crazy concoction!

     

Week #2 Courage

Read: Tacky The Penguin by Helen Lester

Discuss: What does the word courage mean? Let's think of ways that you and I have shown courage. Remember the time.... How did Tacky show courage in the book? He needed to be courageous to be himself because he was different! Let's talk about the importance of being yourself!

Make: A penguin craft by No Time For Flashcards

 

Read: Leap Back Home To Me by Lauren Thompson

Discuss: Little Frog is very scared in the story. What is he afraid of? Who helps him? How does Little Frog show courage in the book?

Make: A paper plate frog craft by No Time For Flashcards

 

Week #3 Kindness

Read: The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle

Discuss: What does it mean to be kind to someone? Give an example of a time you did something kind for someone else. What examples of kindness can you find in this book? Have you ever felt lonely like the firefly? What if you saw a friend who was lonely, how could you use kindness to make that friend smile?

Make: Band-aid Fireflies by No Time for Flashcards

 

Read: The Very Fairy Princess by Julie Andrews

Discuss: How does Geraldine show kindness as a princess in this book? Can you think of three examples? Let's brainstorm three things we can do for others to show kindness. I will write them down and we can work on completing these acts of kindness together!

Make: The shape princess craft. This is a great craft to help your child with their find motor skills (cutting and pasting) along with following step-by-step directions to put the princess together!

 

Weeks #4 and #5 this month focused on Fall and Halloween books. My daughter picked them out at the library and we picked out some crafts to make from my Pinterest Boards together. Head over to my boards to get some ideas today! 

Character-Traits Mon, 28 Oct 2013 00:07:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/homeschool-character-lessons-month-two
Bullying Series-What's Wrong With Me? http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/bullying-series-what-is-wrong-with-me

Parents tell me stories of their school-aged children being bullied. But what the majority of us are hearing about are stories of older children taking their lives as teens. We hear that teens taking their lives felt there was no other solution.

 

It's time for us to take our children's social well-being seriously. I think one way to do this is to educate ourselves on what is going on with teens these days so that we know where things can lead to.

 

Having the courage to be yourself. That's what I stand for. Both for boys and girls. That every person has the right to be themselves without second guessing their worthiness. That's what this article I am sharing today makes me think about. All the times I was told by others that I wasn't good enough and then, sadly, I believed it. All the times I wondered what I needed to do to make others like me. 

 

It has been exhausting and I wish for every child out there that they don't have to spend years finding and accepting themselves. I wish I could reach out to all the little ones and make them BELIEVE me when I say

 

"Be yourself! Those who love and care about you do so because of who you are and not what you have. There will be people who don't like you and that's okay! You will tire out trying to make everyone like you and trying to make everyone happy. Be yourself and spend your energy on sharing your talents with the world to make a difference."

 

 

My bullying video series will continue in the weeks and months ahead (I honestly have been trying to tape a new episode but I haven't had a quiet moment without my girls in a few days or if I have, I have spent it napping!) But until then, I want to share some great articles out there on the internet for parents, caregivers and teachers to read. 

 

Check out this one by writer Matt Walsh

Character-Traits Fri, 25 Oct 2013 00:47:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/bullying-series-what-is-wrong-with-me
Hospital Packing List for Labor & Delivery http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/hospital-packing-list

My blog is being taken over by my pregnancy. It's what is happening in my life and with 9 weeks left to go, I am rolling with it. I am happy to share this relevant information with my readers since it is part of my blog philosophy--Be The Difference. I write to inspire parents, families, teachers and caregivers to live a life that is balanced, healthy and one that is focused on making a difference in the lives of others. When you live a life with positive intentions, you get back what you give out in a great way!

 

Although I am not ready to actually pack my hospital bag yet, I feel better having written it down. Here is what I bring with a few notes as to what I have learned during my first two pregnancies...

 

I don't bring slippers but instead flip flops because the floors are slippery!

 

I bring my own pillow cover. It has bright colored polka dots on it and it makes the room feel cozy (because hospital rooms are so not cozy).

Hairdryer and straightener-Yes, I bring them along with me. After giving birth, a shower and blowing my hair out helps make me feel human again.

 

I don't pack maxipads like all the books tell you to. I buy them and have them on hand at home but the hospital provides all of these things while you are there.

 

Not all hospitals have baby wipes and I personally don't like wiping a new baby's bum with a wet papertowel. I bring wipes.

 

If you are planning on breastfeeding, the lactation consultants may discourage you from giving a pacifier in the hospital. The nurses will give you one but I pack my own just in case. I never found my kids to struggle breastfeeding because we gave them a soothie from the get go. I nursed both girls for a year and I allowed the hospital to give them formula during the night so Dave and I could recover. There are so many different philosophies out there on all of this. We did what was right for us.

 

The only other things on my list that might be out of the ordinary are all the gifts I pack to bring along to the hospital.

 

I buy something special for my husband to give him while we are there (this year's gift). I also have gifts to my girls that will be from the baby (big sister gifts--this time around I ordered necklaces with their name and "big sister" on it from Etsy). I also make a special gift to give the nurses, staff and guests that visit us in the hospital. With baby #1 I gave out homemade cookies in the shape of a start with a label that read "A Star Is Born" I had a planned c-section which made this possible! When Baby #2 was born, I gave out hershey kisses with a note that said "Worth the Wait" For this baby, I will post the gift idea when I come up with it!

 

Am I forgetting anything?

 

 

Health-and-Wellness Wed, 23 Oct 2013 00:22:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/hospital-packing-list
Pregnant Belly Costume http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/pregnant-belly-costume

We have an annual Halloween Party we go to at a friend's house then afterwards we head to downtown Plymouth for some small town fun. I am trying to soak up every last bit of this pregnancy so I decided to make a last minute costume that showcased baby #3! 

 

I used an old tank top along with fabric paints to add a jack-o-lantern to my shirt. The paint took a long time to dry and I am not real sure why I put the stem in such an odd position but all in all it was a fun way to get into the holiday spirit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love this time of year. From Halloween all the way to New Year's I am a crafting, baking, and decorating holiday fool! Here is a cute snack I recently took to a playdate along with a banner (which is my favorite Halloween decoration by far) I made a few years ago for our mantel (inspired by the crafting chicks).

 

 

 

 

Family-Fun Author-Adventures Mon, 21 Oct 2013 00:36:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/pregnant-belly-costume
Bystander No More http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/bystander-no-more

After publishing The Juice Box Bully with Bob Sornson, I wrote a song to teach children during my school presentations (you can grab that song here for free). That song is called Bystander No More. My friend shared this article with me this week and after wiping away my tears from reading it, I started to think about the message I am spreading to children during my programs: You want to be an UPSTANDER not a Bystander. This article is a real-life example of a young girl choosing to be a "bystander no more." 

 

My goal is to share real-life bullying stories on Fridays with you. So far, I have released two vlogs about my own experiences. This week I am sharing this mother's writing about what her daughter went through. Stay tuned in the weeks to come on Fridays for more real-life bullying stories. It is my hope that as parents and educators, we read these stories, share these videos with students and make a change in some small way to BE THE DIFFERENCE in someone's life.

 

Read this story here by Susan McMartin.

Character-Traits Fri, 18 Oct 2013 00:17:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/bystander-no-more
The Best Mama Quotes http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/best-mama-quotes

For today's pregnancy post, I am sharing some of my favorite mama quotes!

 

"A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for."

-  Pablo Picasso, artist

 

“24/7—once you sign on to be a mother, that's the only shift they offer.” 

- Jodi Picoult, writer, from her book My Sister's Keeper

 

"Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else's happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you're not sure what the right thing is...and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.” 

- Donna Ball, author, from her book At Home on Ladybug Farm

 

“A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.”

– Cardinal Mermillod

 

Family-Fun Wed, 16 Oct 2013 00:41:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/best-mama-quotes
Video Blog Series-Bullying #2 Chicken Legs http://mariadismondy.com/2013/vlog-bullying-two-chicken-legs

Check out my vlog in the new Bullying Series. Last week I told my "Jean Story" today you will learn about "Chicken Legs" 

Enjoy and please share. My hope is to make a difference in the lives of a child or several children somewhere out there!

 

 

Character-Traits Mon, 14 Oct 2013 00:05:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/vlog-bullying-two-chicken-legs
Most Adored Gifts for Newborns http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/8/best-baby-gifts

 

 

Here is a compilation of the gifts we received when our children were born that were meaningful to us. First things first, these are not gifts I would suggest getting for new mamas at their baby shower. Most new moms prefer that you stick to the registry for that first baby. These are great gifts for a second born baby or for a close family or friend that just had a baby and you want to bring a little something to them when you visit the new baby.

 

1. A personalized baby block that has baby's name, date of birth, birth weight, place of birth, etc. These special blocks can be ordered here.

 

2. Personalized baby blankets (or better yet, a hand knitted or crocheted blanket). Gifts with baby's name embriodered are the best!

 

3. This bag from Thirty-One Gifts is the best! Let's face it, diaper bags are usually not big enough to lug around everything you need. This bag is great for a trip to the beach, pool, an overnight adventure, etc.

 

4. Sophie the Giraffe is a durable (and adorable) teether. It can be found at most baby stores and is a swell gift for babies.

 

5. I have a Stella & Dot necklace that has an initial charm for each of my girls along with a birthstone charm for my husband. It's especially great for times when I am away from my family, I can feel it on my neck and think of them!

 

6. Plush Pal. There comes a time when us mamas are OVER stuffed animals. This is usually around the age of 3 and beyond. At that point, kids acquire more than a dozen furry friends and they aren't doing much with them. However, finding a special plush pal for a newborn is fun because it can turn into their "lovie." The bunny pictured is the one both my girls have and sleep with every. single. night. They call him Papa Bunny.

 

7. Get a few pals to help pitch in for a gift certificate to a professional photographer. Family photos are timeless but pricey at the same time! 

 

8. Our daughter got this wooden stool from my husband's co-worker and we love it! Not only does it allow for her to brush her teeth at our bathroom sink, but she also loves putting the puzzle pieces back in order.

 

9. Diapers. You can never go wrong with showing up to someone's house with a pack of diapers. The average baby uses 12-15 diapers a day in the first few months. Do the math. It's a money sucker.

 

10. A sibling gift. When a new baby arrives, it can be hard on the big brother or big sister. A simple and inexpensive gift to give to the sibling is a super kind gesture. I love giving a small toy or a Big Brother/Sister book that can be enjoyed over and over again!

 

11. Meals. My MOPS group does this. My Aunt Karen arranged this for us when we had our first child and family and friends carried on with the tradition after our second was born. Making a meal or giving a gift card to new parents is THE BEST GIFT EVER. They are exhausted and the last thing they want to do is make the family dinner. This online meal registry called Meal Baby is great because it allows people to set up dates and times to drop off their dish. 

 

Here's my greatest advice for those visiting new parents.

 

Make the visit quick. I can't tell you how many times we had family come to visit us, bring us a meal and stay for hours. The gesture is so nice but you have to remember that the new parents are running on very few hours of sleep and the mother's body is in major recovery mode. 

Family-Fun Wed, 09 Oct 2013 00:33:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/8/best-baby-gifts
Homeschool Character Lessons Month #1 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/homeschool-character-lessons-month-one

 

 

We completed month one of our homeschool lessons on character for my 4-year-old. I will be posting my lessons here after we complete them each month. I am not claiming to have developed all of these lessons myself and I will add links when possible to ideas that I found online. Since my big kid is now in preschool, my focus is no longer on literacy and math skills this year but I am using children's literature to prompt discussions about character and we complete our lesson with a fun craft!

 

My goal with my child is primarily to give her important tools to have in her back pocket to help her work through social situations with confidence and some background knowledge.

 

Week #1 Friendship

Read: Fredrick by Leo Lionni

Discuss: Have a discussion about friendship. What does it mean to be a good friend? What did Fredrick teach the other mice? How did he use his imagination to be a good friend?

Make: Lil' mouse craft

 

Read: Swimmy by Leo Lionni

Discuss: Talk about how Swimmy was a good friend. What did he do to help others? Have you ever done something to help a friend? What did you do?

Make: A painted school of fish 

 

 

Week #2 Honesty

Read: Big Fat Enormous Lie by Marjorie Sharmot 

Discuss: What is a lie? Have you ever told a lie? Why did the big enormous lie keep getting bigger in the book? Why was the big enormous lie gone all of a sudden?

Make: Finger paint a big green blob of a monster and add some googly eyes!

 

Read: Don't Squeal Unless It's a Big Deal by Jeanie Ransom

Discuss: What does it mean to be a tattletale? Why is the teacher frustrated in the book? What determines if something is a big deal or not? Come up with examples in your own life that you could have tried solving a problem on your own without getting help from an adult.

Make: Make a pig craft

 

Week #3 Forgiveness

Read: Berenstein Bears: The Forgiving Tree 

Discuss: What does it mean to forgive someone? How do you think brother bear felt when his cousin used his new birthday bike before he did? Have you ever gotten angry at someone before? Did you forgive them? What can you say when you are angry at someone? How do you ask someone for forgiveness after you have done something wrong?

Make: Write a sticker story about forgivness. Child creates the illustrations with stickers and dictates the story to you!

 

Read: Franklin Forgives by Paulette Bourgeois

Discuss: Did Hariett lose Franklin's fish on purpose? What would you have done if you were Franklin?

Make: A turtle craft

 

 

Week #4 Empathy

Read: Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox

Discuss: What is a memory? What is a memory you have? Share some memories with your child. Talk about the different memories Miss Nancy and the other characters in the book had. Tell your children that some people lose their memories and can't get them back. What can we do to keep our memories (take pictures, write in a journal, tell stories of the past, etc.)?

Make: A list of memories just like the book. The parent or teacher will write the words and the child can illustrate the pictures. A memory is... something warm, something from long ago, something that makes you cry and something that makes you laugh.

 

 Read: Priscilla McDoodlenutDoodleMcMae Asks Why by Janet Sinke

Discuss: Did the red and blue-haired kings think about how the other was feeling? They didn't like each other because of their differences, is this fair? What did Priscilla do that was so important in the book?

Make: My daughter and I both drew a self-portrait of ourselves. Then we glued them next to each other. We looked at the pictures and discussed what made us the same and what made us different. Then we connected this to the book. The only thing that made the red and blue people in the story different was their hair. But they had a hard time accepting that even though people are different on the outside, there are so many similarities on the inside that make great friendships. Using empathy to think about how the other person is feeling is what Priscilla with the purple hair did. She helped show the two groups of people in the story that they could all be friends, despite their differences!

 

 

Character-Traits Literacy Mon, 07 Oct 2013 00:37:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/homeschool-character-lessons-month-one
Video Blog Series-Bullying http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/video-blog-series

I am beginning a new video blog series. During this series, I will share my personal experiences with bullying and share them with the world. My friend gave me the idea with the hope that children will hear my stories and see that someone can suffer through bullying and come out of it as a happy individual.

 

First video in the series, The Jean Story.

 

Character-Traits Fri, 04 Oct 2013 00:00:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/video-blog-series
Music For Our Babies http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/music-for-our-babies

During my first pregnancy, my sister-in-law told me there was a certain song that she played over and over again during her pregnancy with her twins. She had a connection to the song and to the twins growing in her belly. A few weeks before our first child was born, Dave and I found a song that fit our emotions with the growing miracle we had waiting for us to arrive. I remember playing the song on our 2-mile drive to the hospital the morning of her delivery. After she was born, we would serenade her, rock her and dance with her to this special song. It just so happens that her name has a bunch of songs that were written for it so she came to have TWO special songs!

 

Music is a BIG part of our family. Since we met in 1993, Dave and I have spent hours together at concerts in high school and college. I will never forget riding our bikes to see Third Eye Blind at Michigan State. The mixed tapes we passed between each other, holding songs with BIG meaning. It makes me smile real big thinking back. I laugh thinking about the time I wrote the words of REO Speedwagon's song I Can't Fight This Feeling out for Dave in a letter to confess my love for him! I gave him the letter just as he was about to leave my house. My stepdad came to get me about ten minutes later saying Dave was at the door again. I was so nervous as I walked down the blue shag carpet stairs of my childhood home to the door. Dave didn't say a word, he just smiled and we hugged. He felt the same way :) We were friends many years before I realized he was the love of my life! 20 years later, we have nightly dance parties after dinner time with the kids. We share a passion for music and are excited to pass this onto our children.

 

Back to our kids and their songs...we did the same for our second daughter and are working on choosing a song for this third little bun in the oven. The girls KNOW their songs. When we play them, they get giddy to hear their special music. I have this vision of the girls dancing with their Papa (this is what they call their Dad) to their song. It makes me cry just thinking of how much love and how many memories will be tied into this moment. 

 

Here are our girls songs and a list of songs we are choosing from for Baby #3.

 

For our Ruby:

Your Song by Elton John

Ruby Baby by Dion and The Belmonts 

 

For our Leah:

Here for You by Neil Young

Leah by Bruce Springsteen

 

Choices for Baby #3:

Angel by Jewel

Wildflowers by Tom Petty

Vienna by Billy Joel

A Place in This World by Taylor Swift

Baby Mine by Allison Krauss

Godspeed by Dixie Chicks

Father and Daughter by Paul Simon (because we think it's a girl!!!)

Living Proof: Bruce Springsteen

Beautiful Boy by John Lennon (because I guess we could actually have a boy!)

When You Dream by The Bare Naked Ladies

Still Fighting It by Ben Folds

If I Could by Barbara Streistand

Lullabye by Billy Joel

Love of My Life by Carly Simon

Blessed by Elton John

Child of Mine by Carole King

 

Family-Fun Wed, 02 Oct 2013 00:50:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/10/music-for-our-babies
October Happiness Project http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/october-happiness-project
October: Green Smoothie Challenge

Back in April, I learned a TON from doing a one month green smoothie challenge. You see, I love goals and challenges. I love the follow through of it all. Completing something I committed to. It's a big part of who I am. These month-by-month goals have been really helpful in keeping me focused and balanced during an exciting yet UBER busy time in my life. 

 

Not only did I learn a lot from the green smoothie challenge but I made a committment to my family and have stuck with making these green drinks for us through out the week. Check out all there is to offer in doing the 30-Day Green Smoothie Challenge

 
September: Clean-Up the Attic

Follow-Up: Phew! So happy my attic clean-out is over with. It took me several days to do it but it's done and it feels really good! I found some pretty funny things I was saving like plastic table clothes I haven't touched in 10 years that had crumbs still folded up into them! Ugh! 

 

I must say, the labels make me really happy when I go into the attic to retrieve things now. It's the little things....

 

 

 

 

 

 

August: Online Parenting Class

Follow-Up: This month I am participated in a class that came with the purchase of a new book I read called Beautiful Babies. This course was AMAZING! It was quite time consuming and I could have stretched it over two months instead of one. Some of my favorite things about the course were the birth stories (they were included in each lesson) and the videos. Here is a brief outline of what was introduced in the course...

Lesson #1: Diet and nutrition for women

Lesson #2: Dangers of industrial goods and hidden ingredients (especially GMOS)

Lesson #3: Local and pasture based animal foods (along with the benefits of buying them)

Lesson #4: Foods that help populate the gut with HEALTHY bacteria (ex. Raw Milk)

Lesson #5: Fertility and pregnancy nutrient filled diets

Lesson #6: Midwives and Doulas

Lesson #7: Chairopractic care and Acupuncture along with natural, alternative remedies for common ailments

Lesson #8: Natural childbirth and understanding the fear-tension-pain cycle

Lesson #9: Breastfeeding and homemade formula

Lesson #10: Baby Led Weaning-introducing solids instead of purees and cereals

Lesson #11: Postpardum exercise and nutrition

Lesson #12: Where to buy REAL food locally, Meal Prepping and the 80/20 rule

 

I would highly recommend new mothers take this class and anyone who has interest in changing their family's nutrition lifestyle. For years I have listened to my friend Danielle about what foods are good for me and why. This course backed all of what Danielle taught me with research and went into depth about why these changes are so beneficial to my family.

 

 

July: Exercise Challenge

Follow-Up: I did it (I do have two days left so up to this point, I did it!) Every single arm challenge (including the suggested rest days) minus one set of push ups and one set of biceps. Dave started off doing them with me and as you can see in the picture, he had an extra 20 lb. challenge on him! I do not see a difference in my arms which is a bummer but Dave does which is great! It was REALLY hard near the end of the month with the challenge but I stuck to it. I like when I commit to something and I follow through. It gives me those personal brownie points we all need every once in awhile.

 

June: 35 of My Favorite Things

Follow-Up: I listed 35 things (in honor of my 35th birthday in May) that make me happy to complete in June. Here's the list. I did almost everything. Sitting in the sun and doing nothing did not get crossed off my list. I've come to realize that as a working from home, mother of two, sitting in the sun and doing nothing is unrealistic. I like to be busy and this was the old me who loved laying out in the sun. Now, if I am sitting in the sun, it makes me happy to be reading for enjoyment or work---to be productive.

 
May: Pursue My Hobby

Follow-Up: I completed a four week class from Jessica Sprague called Portraiture 101. I also watched one-hour of an online workshop but it wasn't speaking to me so I didn't watch the entire clip over at Creative Live. It felt really good to be challenged behind the lens and to capture our everyday moments with my fancy Nikon and not just my iPhone! We had a journaling assignment where we created an artist statement. I also got a fun camera bag for my birthday!

 


April: Going Green

Follow-Up: Our family had a green smoothie every single day this month except for one! It was one day in Florida and I couldn't find a restaurant on the run to make me a green drink. 29/30 days, not bad. Will we keep it up? Sure! Everyday? I don't think that's necessary. Here's what I found out: Prepping ahead of time and making up your smoothies in bags in the freezer saves you a ton of time. The recipes make enough for our entire family and sometimes we have an 8oz drink left over. I keep this in the fridge and it is good for up to 24 hours. My blender is not the quality blender to be using for making smoothies every day but I am not ready to spend close to $500 for a Vitamix. I will put up with our current blender until it gives out on us!

 

These were my favorite recipes from Simple Green Smoothies:

 

CILANTRO LIMEMADE
— serves 2 —
1 ½ cups spinach, fresh
½ cup cilantro, fresh
2 cups water
3 bananas
1 lime, peeled 
1 inch ginger, fresh

 

BERRY PROTEIN BASH 
2 cups spinach, fresh
2 cups almond milk, unsweetened
1 cups strawberries
1 cup blueberries, frozen
1 banana
1/2 cup almonds*
*soak overnight in water before blending

 

Peach Coconut Dream

2 cups spinach, fresh

1 cup coconut water
2 cups Grapes, freeze overnight
1 peach

You can find out more about this Simple Green Smoothie Challenge here.

 

 

March: Work 

Follow-up This month I wanted to grow in a few areas in regards to work.

1. Read Pinterest Savvy by Melissa Taylor and create five things I learned from the book that I am going to put to use. These are the five things I learned about: Verify my website (check), comment on pins (I haven't done this yet), pin my videos (check), create a board and invite others to pin on it (check), after you follow someone new pin some of their stuff (check).

2.Google+ -I am on it, my profile is set, I've joined communities and circles but I am not sold on this platform yet.

3. Sponsorships-A HUGE thank you to my web girl and my graphic designer for helping me to get the advertisement up and running!

4. Thank you to my intern Karelyn for your support in our super successful Twitter Party! We had over thirty people join in the conversation. There were women from Hawaii, India and Singapore! We also had almost 200 entries for our Kindle Giveaway on Pinterest. It was a great month of new marketing adventures.

 
February: Clean Up & Clear Out

Follow-up This month I wanted to clean or organize something every day of the month. I also wanted to tackle a task that I had been thinking about for a very long time.

1. The clean up was good! I liked having a small task each day. I got a bit behind when we took our family trip.

2. I wrote the letters. Letters to my loved ones in case anything unexpected were to ever happen. Creepy, yes. Something I've always wanted to do though.

 

January: Learn

Follow-up This month I wanted to learn something new. I committed to doing this in three ways.

1. Learn to load the dishwasher. Check. It still doesn't look professional but with all the plastic servingware I am getting in there, I am not sure that's possible. Thanks to my pal Erica, I am able to fit more into my dishwasher with some organization!

2. UPDATE: September--I now ignore the warnings on my phone and haven't played the piano in months!!!!!Play the piano twice a week. 

3. Learn to share my love. I participated in the Happier at Home 21 Day Relationship Challenge. I signed up for this challenge to learn some new, creative ways to show my appreciation to those I love in my life. I don't see my home lacking in love but why not learn more about vulnerability and authenticity? My favorite things I learned: Don't keep score, create a threshold ritual, and kiss in the morning and at night. 

 

One Little Word:

I have followed Ali Edwards project "One Little Word" for two years now. My word for 2011 was Peace and my word for 2012 was Balance. I've never taken her class but I have incorporated my word into my monthly goals/wishes/resolutions. Here's how to come up with a word (from Ali). My word for 2013 is Grace.

 

Can you identify a single word that sums up what you want for yourself in 2013?

It can be something tangible or intangible. It can be a thought, a feeling, or an emotion. It can be singular or plural. The key is to find something that has personal meaning for you. This is not your mother's word or your spouse's word or your child's word—this is YOUR word.

One little word can have big meaning in your life if you allow yourself to be open to the possibilities. And here's one thing that is totally interesting: sometimes a word will pop into your brain and it will not make any sense to you right now. Give it some time. Let it percolate a bit. I have often found that our heart speaks to us in very unique ways. Maybe this is a word you need to hear but just aren't ready for it yet.

Again, be open to the possibilities.

 

- See more at: http://www.mariadismondy.com/2013/7/happiness-project-august/#sthash.7XNShEGR.dpuf

- See more at: http://www.mariadismondy.com/2013/9/happiness-project-month-nine/#sthash.EnPZgzC4.dpuf

Health-and-Wellness Mon, 30 Sep 2013 00:46:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/october-happiness-project
Bunny Birthday Party http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/bunny-birthday-party

We had a bunny birthday party last week for our two-year-old. A few little friends over for a playdate in the morning and the grandparents over in the evening for dinner, cake and ice cream. Thanks to Pinterest, I was able to bring this bunny theme to life!

 

Here is some information about the details (look at the pictures from top to bottom and from left to right) 

 

1. Bunny cake by Buttercream Bakery in Wixom MI.

 

2. Bunny tails made with a glue gun, silver pom pons and pink yard. All the kids wore them as they danced to the Bunny Hop at the party.

 

3.Thank you cards via Etsy.

 

4. Goldfish Cracker snacks in a bag to look like carrots!

 

5. We Love Leah Banner made with muslim, yarn and a glue gun. Boo-Boo Bunnies as party favors from Etsy.

 

6. My homemade Pin the Heart on the Bunny Game. Do you see why I am a writer and NOT an illustrator?

7. Bunny Cookies from Buttercream Bakery in Wixom, MI

8. Bunny Dress from Chasing Fireflies

 

 

 

 

Family-Fun Fri, 27 Sep 2013 00:53:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/bunny-birthday-party
My Favorite Baby Books for Parents http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/top-baby-books

Here is my list of go-to baby books. I've read more than a dozen and out of these six, I will read three of them over and over and over again the first six months after Baby Dismondy is born. Here's what I thought about each title.

 

1. Baby Wise: There are so many differences out there in how to parent so first of all, no judgement! But, I am a firm believer in getting a baby on a sleep and feeding schedule early on. So many people frown upon this style of parenting but it has worked for our family!

 

2. The Happiest Baby on the Block: I read this book once. I didn't feel the need to go back to it after my second baby was born. It brings up some great parenting tips for new parents and some solutions to common baby mysteries.

 

3. The Vaccine Book: I vaccinate my children but I do not follow our pediatrician's schedule. I think if you are making choices like this, you need to be educated on why you are delaying certain vaccines. This book helped me gain the understanding I needed to be confidant in our vacine schedule.

 

4. Super Nutrition for Babies. LOVED this book (Thank you Danielle!!!) I will go back to all my doggy-earred and highlighted pages after this baby is born. This is a great guide for those who strive to feed their families REAL foods and take on a holistic approach to health and nutrition.

 

5. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I just recently read a chapter in this book about what to do as my 4 1/2 year old transitions out of naps. Our girls have really good sleep schedules and I can see it in their behavior. When we fall out of that pattern, like staying up late because of a party---they are a hot mess the next day from being overtired. This book gives reasonable guidelines for sleep recommendations at different ages.

 

6. Super Baby Food. I use this book to make baby food. The pages are falling out from over use. It's a great guide for feeding your baby wholesome foods when they start solids around 6 months.

Book-Reviews Wed, 25 Sep 2013 00:54:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/top-baby-books
Big Girl Room http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/big/girl/room

We have had many changes happening around our house. Besides potty training, we moved our toddler to a big girl bedroom. She jumped out of her crib and we knew it was time. We figured it can't hurt to get these transitions out of the way before the new baby arrives so there are no feelings of big kid being kicked out of her room for the new baby!

 

I am really excited about how her room turned out. Here are some shopping sources of the details.

 

Upper left hand corner (the reading book): Book shelves are spice racks from Ikea: $3.99 painted white. The green and white polka dot chair is PB Kids but I ordered the inserts on ebay $25.00 and bought the cover on clearance at the outlet $13.99

 

Middle Picture: The heart on canvas is from Meijer $12.99 The colored frames are $7.99 from Hobby Lobby The white frames are from Michaels The chalkboard butterfly was a gift and the metal cut out frames are from  and were bought with a free gift certificate.

 

Upper right hand corner: The green picture frame was purchased from Salvation Army, I removed the picture and glass then added rope with mini clothes pins to hang instagram photos. The instagram prints were purcahsed from Persnickity Prints.

 

Lower left hand corner: Lamp is from Target $12.99 Frame on wall is from Ikea. Print is from Pinterest/Etsy. The bookshelf was from the PB outlet and is part of the bedroom set.

 

Lower right hand corner: The full sized platform bed is from the PB outlet (we got a steal of a deal on it. $1800 retail and less then $200 out the door!) The flower quilt was on clearance from The Land of Nod, along with the pillow shams which were not part of a set but I thought they matched pretty well. The striped pillows were summer specials from IKEA. Sadly, none of these items are available at this time. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family-Fun Mon, 23 Sep 2013 00:25:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/big/girl/room
Pregnancy Must-Haves http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/pregnancy-must-haves

Here you have my list of "must-haves" during my pregnancy. I would love to know what you would add to the list. Share with me in the comments below! 

 

1. Coconut Body Butter from Trader Joe's: At the very end of my second pregnancy I got stretch marks. There are so many different opinions when it comes to whether or not lotions help prevent stretch marks. I like to think keeping your skin well hydrated can help and I am old school when I prefer coconut butter over any other stretch mark gimic out there!

 

2. Sticky Bellies: These pregnancy stickers help you document your growing belly which is a miracle in itself! I have tried to do something a little different with each pregnancy when it came to taking pictures. This time around, I am lucky if I remember once a month to get a snap shot!

 

3. Breville Hemisphere Blender: A smoothie once every other day keeps the doctor away? Not real sure, but I am addicted to my green smoothies. I think the 30-Day Challenge I did a few months ago got me on a roll. I learned a ton in the challenge about what types of supplements and greens to add to a smoothie to make it the most bang for your buck!

 

4. Maternity Pajamas: I have three nice pairs of maternity pajamas. It's important to me to feel good all day long while pregnant, including at night! I end up wearing them at the hospital to feel pretty after giving birth and in the months after baby arrives too. Worth the investment!

 

5. Pregnancy Journal: For each of my pregnacies, I documented how I felt each month, saved ultrasound pictures and more in a special pregnancy journal. After having two girls, I know these journals will be something they will look back at when they are grown women getting ready to have thier first child!

 

6. Coobie Bras: These are my favorite bras. Pregnant or not! However, they are especially cozy during the 9+ months of your pregnancy. 

 

7. Belly Band: I made a lot of my regular pants and skirts work for at least 5 months with these belly bands. I have one in black and one in white. They also help you to ease back into your regular clothes postpardum!

 

8. Witch Hazel: One of my friends recommended this natural astringent as a face cleanser on those nights you are just to tired to do your entire facial routine. Witch hazel is also a healing ointment for hemmorroids! 

 

9. Raspberry Leaf Tea: After being pregnanct for 20 weeks, I drink one cup of this tea a day. Suggested by a homeopath I consulted with earlier on in my pregnancy.

 

10. Body Pillow: I never invested in a super big and fancy pregnancy body pillow (are you beginning to get the drift that I am not super fancy in general?) but I do love the one I have from Target! It came with a fleece pillowcase which I ended up donating because it was way too hot for me. Target sells a number of pillowcases for body pillows in different colors and designs.

 

11. Supplements: I don't feel comfortable disclosing all of the supplements I take here since I am not a doctor and you should always consult with your midwife or physician when choosing supplements to take during pregnancy...but I will say that taking daily supplements have made a HUGE difference in my pregnancy! Speak with your OB to see what you could be taking to help ease symptoms you might be having or to help improve your experience during your pregnancy!

Health-and-Wellness Wed, 18 Sep 2013 00:58:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/pregnancy-must-haves
Fall Books http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/fall-books

 

We have one week left of summer (officially) but it's beginning to feel like fall to me!

 

Today we started the week off with a trip to the Pumpkin Patch and Apple Orchard. Complete with warm cinnamon donuts and cider.

 

Head out to your local library and check out some fall/autumn books to get your family in the spirit of the new season!

Literacy Mon, 16 Sep 2013 00:32:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/fall-books
Friday Inspiration http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/friday-inspiration

We are falling into a new routine this week. One that gives us quiet mornings at home and plenty of time to play together. I am loving the change.

 

On this Friday, I hope you can find inspiration in some of my latest quotes I've pinnned found below. For more inspiration, follow my board on Pinterest called Making Spirits Bright. Better yet, follow Making Spirits Bright on Facebook to get a daily dose of positivity! 

 

 

 

Health-and-Wellness Fri, 13 Sep 2013 00:36:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/friday-inspiration
Pregnancy: Books I've Read http://mariadismondy.com/2011/9/pregnancy-books

 

One of my favorite things about being pregnant is talking to friends who have been through it before. Not only do I love words of wisdom but I have to admit I enjoy getting hand-me-downs of books and clothing. I think the entire process of having a baby is quite fasinating and reading about that miracle has been another highlight of being pregnant for me. I think in my next life I want to be a midwife and play the banjo (she why here---this band ROCKS the banjo--watch from 3:45-4:45!) 

 

Over the next three months, I am going to share some pregnancy and baby basics that I have learned over the last few years from either my own experiences or from other mamas. This blog is called Be The Difference and I try to write about anything and everything that can make a positive difference in our lives. I thought I would start with my love for reading and the books I found helpful during my pregnancies.

 

1. Spiritual Midwifrey

This book is for those interested in a drug-free birth. It talks about the origin of midwives in the United States. There are several birth stories in the book and I didn't have to read it from front to back. There were parts geared towards practicing midwives only that can be skipped.

 

2. Birthing From Within

My doula suggested this book as I prepared for my first birth. It looks at birth in a natural, spritual light. There are exercises to do through out the book and again, would be great for someone thinking about a drug-free birth.

 

3. Beautiful Babies

I highlighted so many pages in this book. It is one to be used before getting pregnancy all the way to making your own baby food. I wrote about a class I took that went along with the book here. I learned so much about making smarter and healthier choices for my entire family from this book.

 

4. Oh Baby, the Places You'll Go!

This is a fun book to read to your baby while you are pregnant. Babies can hear their mothers voice in the womb early on. 

Now that I read books to my girls through out the day, I am not using this book as much! Baby #3 is hearing a lot of Berenstein Bears books and books about using the potty! 

 

5. The Birth Partner

This book talks about the role of your partner during birth. Your partner may be your husband and/or your doula. I was happy I read this book with my first pregnancy because there was a detailed chapter discussing breech babies and c-sections. I ended up with both and had background knowledge on it because of my studies.

 

6. Taking Charge of Your Fertility 

My sister-in-law bought me a copy of this book well before my husband and I talked about having kids. I am embarassed to say that I knew little to NOTHING about the female reproductive system and how everything worked before reading this book. It taught me to pay attention to what was happening in my body which came in handy when I had an unexpected emergency surgery due to a medical mishap. I knew something didn't feel right in my body because I learned to be in tune with my system. My intuition was right!

 

7. Bringing Up Bebe

Have you ever wondered how the French parent their children? This book is a nice glimpse into another culture and how they raise babies. My kids have appetizers for lunch and dinner now thanks to this book. The book called them courses but we like to say appetizers. Our apps are always a fresh fruit or veggie. Served and devoured before the main dish! 

 

8. Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy

This book made me laugh as I read it. Educational, yes. There was an added element of "fun" to the material!

 

9. Belly Laughs

I think I read this book in two sittings. It was h-i-l-a-r-i-o-u-s! A must read to lighten up a mama's mood before giving birth!

 

10. What to Expect When Expecting

The go-to book for most moms. I read this book with my first two pregnancies but now I have the app on my phone and am happy with the information I receive from my weekly updates.

 

11. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

Another great guide for mother's interested in learning about natural childbirth.

 

12. The Expectant Father

Dave read this one book before we had our first child. It had chapters on saving for college educations and all that practical stuff that goes along with having a baby that I never wanted to think about! We've passed our copy onto friends having babies since!

 

Health-and-Wellness Wed, 11 Sep 2013 00:09:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2011/9/pregnancy-books
School Prep & Homeschool http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/school-prep-homeschool

On Sunday I took my big kid on a special lunch date. She shared her fears about her first day of school (which is today) and we talked about other important stuff on her mind (I hope I never forget what was important through her little eyes). Then, after we got home, she opened a gift from her Papa and I. A bag filled with pencils, erasers, a back-to-school book and a water bottle. She sharpened all of her pencils, we packed her backpack and finally, put together a little gift for both of her teachers. 

 

When she was two, we took a Mom & Tot class at the preschool in town. It was two hours a week and excellent for socialization, learning about rules and routines and special time for us to be together. We spent some time at home working on fun crafts and activities to help her develop beginning skills such as alphabet recognition, color and shape names and identifying numbers 1-10. I didn't send her to school when she turned three. I homeschooled her using a specific ABC curriculum shared by another homeschooler online. It was awesome watching her grow leaps and bounds while at home with her little sister and I. This year I've decided to put her in the same preschool for their four-year-old program. Three afternoons a week from 12:15-2:45. Just enough time to be a part of a classroom community, learn more and socialize without her mama around! 

 

I planned out lessons to teach her this year on the afternoons she is home. I will share those lessons here as I go along. Basically, I picked character traits I felt were important for her to be exposed to at an early age. I found children's books that would teach those specific traits and I found a craft to go along with each book we use. Two books, two crafts and two discussions a week as a part of the program. I am excited about this idea and hope it will help her strengthen her social skills as she prepares for school in the years to come. I want her to have the courage to know what to do when she is faced with those big, bad MEANIES on the playground. I want her to feel brave :)

 

You can find out more now on my pinterest boards labeled Homeschool, 4 Year-Old Homeschool and Character Development.

 

Literacy Mon, 09 Sep 2013 00:26:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/school-prep-homeschool
Author Interview-Debbie Diesen http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/author-interview-debbie-diesen


Back in March I was interviewed on another Michigan author's blog, for 

a special series she hosts each week called Michigander Monday. I was drawn to Debbie Diesen's book The Pout Pout Fish (which is also a New York Times Bestseller) a few years ago and I knew I had to make a connection with this talented author. After she interviewed me on her blog, we decided it was time I introduce her to my fabulous readers here at Be The Difference.

 

Without further ado, I'm happy to introduce you to Debbie Diesen. I am also THRILLED to tell you a little about her newest book, Picture Day Perfection

 

Tell us a bit about yourself.

 

I’m a writer of stories for young children.  I particularly like to write in rhyme.  I’ve loved to write my whole life, but I didn’t pursue writing actively until after my kids were born.  When they were little, they loved to be read to; and reading hundreds – maybe thousands! – of books aloud to them over the years inspired me to try writing stories of my own.  I’ve been at it nearly 15 years now.  Writing for children is a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

 

In addition to my writing, I work at a small nonprofit organization where I do the bookkeeping and budget management.  Though I dearly love words, I also dearly love numbers, and I find a great deal of satisfaction in working with numbers and figures and calculations on a daily basis.

 

I live with my family in Grand Ledge, MI, which is just west of Lansing, the state capital.  We have two cats.  They pretty much run the place.

 

 

Please share information about your book.

 

My newest book is Picture Day Perfection, illustrated by the fabulous Dan Santat and published by Abrams.  The boy at the center of the story wants to have the perfect school picture.  As his day unfolds, it seems that everything is going terribly wrong:  he’s got bedhead, a stained shirt, and a big scowl.  But, as it turns out, a disastrous photo is in fact exactly what he has planned for his perfect picture!

 

The book, my first not-in-rhyme, has a few plot twists, and Dan’s lively art brings it all to life.  It was a fun story to write, inspired in part by my own kids’ school photo experiences.

 

 

Do you have any other books currently available?

 

I am also the author of The Pout-Pout Fish books, illustrated by the amazing Dan Hanna and published by FSG.  The first book in the series, The Pout-Pout Fish, which came out in 2008, is available in hardcover, in a softcover-plus-audio-CD edition, and (new this summer) in a board book edition.  The second book, The Pout-Pout Fish In The Big-Big Dark, was published in 2010.  Third in the series will be The Pout-Pout Fish Goes To School, out next year, followed by a Pout-Pout holiday story in 2015.  There will also be a toddler board book called Smile, Pout-Pout Fish released this coming January.

 

In addition to the fish books, I am also author of The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade, illustrated by Tracy Dockray and published by Tricycle Press.  The book is less well-known than the Pout-Pout books, but I have a real soft spot for those grouchy babies and their protest crawl!

 

 

How did you get started in writing as a career?

 

My love of words and writing was encouraged from early on by my parents and by my wonderful teachers and school librarians.  I’ve dabbled in writing in one form or another throughout my life.  The process of taking it more seriously, and of working toward becoming a published author, was a gradual progression.  It started with writing stories for my own children, then sharing them with a few trusted friends, to finding a writing group, attending writing conferences, and beginning to submit to publishers.  Getting published takes work, perseverance, and a whole lot of luck.  I am thankful for the luck I’ve had and for the opportunity it’s provided to be part of the world of books and writing.  It’s a privilege and a joy.

 

 

 What will you be working on next?

 

I tend to work on multiple projects at once, so that if I get stuck on one thing, I can turn my attention to something else for a while.  Currently I’m continuing to work on new adventures for Mr. Fish, and I have several other rhyming and non-rhyming stories in various stages of revision.  I also have a longer story for an older audience (teen and adult) that I’ve been working on for years.  I hope someday it will find a publishing home.

 

Oh, and my home office got really messy over the summer.  That actually might be the first thing I’ll be working on next!

 

 

What do you find hardest about being a writer?

 

Though I’ve learned not to let them get me down for long, I still find rejection letters really hard to take.  You’d think after all the practice (I’ve got hundreds of them!) it would get easier, but unfortunately, it doesn’t.  But they’re part of the territory, and so I appreciate them as part of the process.  (But it doesn’t mean I have to like ‘em!)

 

 

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

 

There are so many things I enjoy about being a writer that it’s really hard to pick just one!  But I think maybe the best part is all the interesting people I get to meet.  I love getting to know other writers, and I adore meeting the kids, parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers and more who bring books to life by reading and sharing them.  My life has been touched in so many ways by this wonderful array of book-loving people!

 

For all of it, I’m grateful every day.

 

Maria's Review of Picture Day Perfection

Written by Deborah Diesen Pictures by Dan Santat

I would highly recommend this children's book to children preschool -fifth grade. As a former teacher, the book made me smile and laugh (often times loudly) with each page turn. It brought back memories of my own experiences with the dreaded picture day. You wanted everything to be just right but being a kid doesn't allow your clothing to stay untouched and your hair to stay in place by the time your turn arrives for your school picture. The story was silly and kept you wanting more. The pictures were above and beyond fabulous. I would have picked up this book and purchased it based on the artwork alone. I believe this title would be a perfect addition to any classroom, school or family book collection.

Literacy Guest-Bloggers Thu, 05 Sep 2013 00:51:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/author-interview-debbie-diesen
Happiness Project September http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/happiness-project-month-nine
September: Clean-Up the Attic

From the outside, my house looks clean and organized. But what most people don't know is that I have a secret. My attic is a mess filled with unnecessary items that a stranger might put into the class of hoarding! The good thing is the access door to the attic is hidden and no one 

would even know that it is there so it's easy for me to keep this little secret. However, with my nesting tendencies at an ultimate high in month six of this pregnancy, I am feeling motivated to tackle the attic and clean it up!

 

 

August: Online Parenting Class

Follow-Up: This month I am participated in a class that came with the purchase of a new book I read called Beautiful Babies. This course was AMAZING! It was quite time consuming and I could have stretched it over two months instead of one. Some of my favorite things about the course were the birth stories (they were included in each lesson) and the videos. Here is a brief outline of what was introduced in the course...

Lesson #1: Diet and nutrition for women

Lesson #2: Dangers of industrial goods and hidden ingredients (especially GMOS)

Lesson #3: Local and pasture based animal foods (along with the benefits of buying them)

Lesson #4: Foods that help populate the gut with HEALTHY bacteria (ex. Raw Milk)

Lesson #5: Fertility and pregnancy nutrient filled diets

Lesson #6: Midwives and Doulas

Lesson #7: Chairopractic care and Acupuncture along with natural, alternative remedies for common ailments

Lesson #8: Natural childbirth and understanding the fear-tension-pain cycle

Lesson #9: Breastfeeding and homemade formula

Lesson #10: Baby Led Weaning-introducing solids instead of purees and cereals

Lesson #11: Postpardum exercise and nutrition

Lesson #12: Where to buy REAL food locally, Meal Prepping and the 80/20 rule

 

I would highly recommend new mothers take this class and anyone who has interest in changing their family's nutrition lifestyle. For years I have listened to my friend Danielle about what foods are good for me and why. This course backed all of what Danielle taught me with research and went into depth about why these changes are so beneficial to my family.

 

 

July: Exercise Challenge

Follow-Up: I did it (I do have two days left so up to this point, I did it!) Every single arm challenge (including the suggested rest days) minus one set of push ups and one set of biceps. Dave started off doing them with me and as you can see in the picture, he had an extra 20 lb. challenge on him! I do not see a difference in my arms which is a bummer but Dave does which is great! It was REALLY hard near the end of the month with the challenge but I stuck to it. I like when I commit to something and I follow through. It gives me those personal brownie points we all need every once in awhile.

 

June: 35 of My Favorite Things

Follow-Up: I listed 35 things (in honor of my 35th birthday in May) that make me happy to complete in June. Here's the list. I did almost everything. Sitting in the sun and doing nothing did not get crossed off my list. I've come to realize that as a working from home, mother of two, sitting in the sun and doing nothing is unrealistic. I like to be busy and this was the old me who loved laying out in the sun. Now, if I am sitting in the sun, it makes me happy to be reading for enjoyment or work---to be productive.

 
May: Pursue My Hobby

Follow-Up: I completed a four week class from Jessica Sprague called Portraiture 101. I also watched one-hour of an online workshop but it wasn't speaking to me so I didn't watch the entire clip over at Creative Live. It felt really good to be challenged behind the lens and to capture our everyday moments with my fancy Nikon and not just my iPhone! We had a journaling assignment where we created an artist statement. I also got a fun camera bag for my birthday!

 


April: Going Green

Follow-Up: Our family had a green smoothie every single day this month except for one! It was one day in Florida and I couldn't find a restaurant on the run to make me a green drink. 29/30 days, not bad. Will we keep it up? Sure! Everyday? I don't think that's necessary. Here's what I found out: Prepping ahead of time and making up your smoothies in bags in the freezer saves you a ton of time. The recipes make enough for our entire family and sometimes we have an 8oz drink left over. I keep this in the fridge and it is good for up to 24 hours. My blender is not the quality blender to be using for making smoothies every day but I am not ready to spend close to $500 for a Vitamix. I will put up with our current blender until it gives out on us!

 

These were my favorite recipes from Simple Green Smoothies:

 

CILANTRO LIMEMADE
— serves 2 —
1 ½ cups spinach, fresh
½ cup cilantro, fresh
2 cups water
3 bananas
1 lime, peeled 
1 inch ginger, fresh

 

BERRY PROTEIN BASH 
2 cups spinach, fresh
2 cups almond milk, unsweetened
1 cups strawberries
1 cup blueberries, frozen
1 banana
1/2 cup almonds*
*soak overnight in water before blending

 

Peach Coconut Dream

2 cups spinach, fresh

1 cup coconut water
2 cups Grapes, freeze overnight
1 peach

You can find out more about this Simple Green Smoothie Challenge here.

 

 

March: Work 

Follow-up This month I wanted to grow in a few areas in regards to work.

1. Read Pinterest Savvy by Melissa Taylor and create five things I learned from the book that I am going to put to use. These are the five things I learned about: Verify my website (check), comment on pins (I haven't done this yet), pin my videos (check), create a board and invite others to pin on it (check), after you follow someone new pin some of their stuff (check).

2.Google+ -I am on it, my profile is set, I've joined communities and circles but I am not sold on this platform yet.

3. Sponsorships-A HUGE thank you to my web girl and my graphic designer for helping me to get the advertisement up and running!

4. Thank you to my intern Karelyn for your support in our super successful Twitter Party! We had over thirty people join in the conversation. There were women from Hawaii, India and Singapore! We also had almost 200 entries for our Kindle Giveaway on Pinterest. It was a great month of new marketing adventures.

 
February: Clean Up & Clear Out

Follow-up This month I wanted to clean or organize something every day of the month. I also wanted to tackle a task that I had been thinking about for a very long time.

1. The clean up was good! I liked having a small task each day. I got a bit behind when we took our family trip.

2. I wrote the letters. Letters to my loved ones in case anything unexpected were to ever happen. Creepy, yes. Something I've always wanted to do though.

 

January: Learn

Follow-up This month I wanted to learn something new. I committed to doing this in three ways.

1. Learn to load the dishwasher. Check. It still doesn't look professional but with all the plastic servingware I am getting in there, I am not sure that's possible. Thanks to my pal Erica, I am able to fit more into my dishwasher with some organization!

2. UPDATE: September--I now ignore the warnings on my phone and haven't played the piano in months!!!!!Play the piano twice a week. 

3. Learn to share my love. I participated in the Happier at Home 21 Day Relationship Challenge. I signed up for this challenge to learn some new, creative ways to show my appreciation to those I love in my life. I don't see my home lacking in love but why not learn more about vulnerability and authenticity? My favorite things I learned: Don't keep score, create a threshold ritual, and kiss in the morning and at night. 

 

One Little Word:

I have followed Ali Edwards project "One Little Word" for two years now. My word for 2011 was Peace and my word for 2012 was Balance. I've never taken her class but I have incorporated my word into my monthly goals/wishes/resolutions. Here's how to come up with a word (from Ali). My word for 2013 is Grace.

 

Can you identify a single word that sums up what you want for yourself in 2013?

It can be something tangible or intangible. It can be a thought, a feeling, or an emotion. It can be singular or plural. The key is to find something that has personal meaning for you. This is not your mother's word or your spouse's word or your child's word—this is YOUR word.

One little word can have big meaning in your life if you allow yourself to be open to the possibilities. And here's one thing that is totally interesting: sometimes a word will pop into your brain and it will not make any sense to you right now. Give it some time. Let it percolate a bit. I have often found that our heart speaks to us in very unique ways. Maybe this is a word you need to hear but just aren't ready for it yet.

Again, be open to the possibilities.

 

- See more at: http://www.mariadismondy.com/2013/7/happiness-project-august/#sthash.7XNShEGR.dpuf

Health-and-Wellness Wed, 04 Sep 2013 00:17:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/happiness-project-month-nine
Potty Training Part Three http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/potty-trainig-part-three

 During Part 1 you determined whether or not your child was ready to start potty training. Then you helped your little one get excited about 

using the potty. In the Potty Training Series Part 2, you went shopping and stocked up on potty supplies! You read the 3-Day Potty Training ebook and you dove into the three days of going from diapers to underpants. 

 

For Part 3, I want to share with you how to go about the weeks after you have potty trained your child.

 

What You Need To Know:

  • There will be accidents and that is normal!
  • You have to be prepared with extra undies and pants in your purse or car.
  • I packed a box of clorox wipes and a travel potty seat in my purse (wipes to clean the seat) It's a great seat for public bathrooms so your tiny one's bottom doesn't fall in!
  • My friend Kori had the great idea of keeping a portable potty in your car for the first few weeks after potty training. I don't agree with putting a diaper back on or pull ups in the car so I am using this idea!
  • Repeat the following, over and over and OVER again, "Let's use the potty before we leave." "Tell Mama when you have to go potty." It has to be on your mind at all times to help your little one stay in the mindset of using the potty.

Yesterday was Day 3 for our little one. On Day 1 she had 8 accidents, 13 successful pees on the potty and 1 poop. On Day 2 she had zero accidents (I wonder if this is because my husband and I were both home) 12 successful pees on the potty and zero poops. On Day 3 she had zero accidents, 12 successful pees on the potty and one poop.This morning we took her out to breakfast in her underware. It's such a sense of freedom (with some underlying nerves until we get past the next few weeks) for all of us! Since our daughter is younger than when we potty trained our oldest (our oldest was 26 or 27 months and our youngest is 23 months) we were going to try this weekend and if she didn't get it, we would try again in a few months. It just goes to show that children are different and are ready to potty train at different times!

Family-Fun Mon, 02 Sep 2013 00:10:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/potty-trainig-part-three
Potty Training Part Two http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/potty-training-part-two

Welcome to Part 2 in my potty training series. Here's Part 1 if you missed it which is all about setting the mood!

 

Once you know that your child is ready and you have started motivating them to go pee and poo on the potty, now it's time to prepare. There really is some prep involved if you are using The 3-Day Potty Training Boot Camp technique.

 

Here's what you will need to do:

 

  • Read the manual/ebook from front to back. It will only take 30-45 minutes. Take notes, highlight, and share these important points with your partner. Anyone who is going to help you with the potty training over the three days has to be on the same page with how it works. The only person I have involved is my husband.
  • Take short notes on the steps involved so on your busy three days you can refer to these cliff notes.
  • Plan for some help with any other children you may have at home. My mom will be coming over to play with my 4 year old and take her out for a few hours so that she gets the attention she deserves over the course of the three days (thank you to my friend Kori for this wonderful suggestion. What would we do without our mom friends?)

 

Shop for supplies:

  • stickers (I chose to use stickers as a motivator for pee)
  • bigger prizes for the poops (my first child had a hard time with the poops but when I gave bigger prizes, it motivated her to do her big business on the potty) 
  • A chart to put the stickers to keep track of he successful potty visits. I used this one here and printed one of for each of the three days.
  • a potty (I prefer the stand alone potties because my kids can run and go without me having to get there and lift them onto the toilet. Definitely a pain to wash it out but again, it is more important to me to have them run to the potty without me)
  • Juice Boxes (you will need to be giving them extra fluids over the course of the three days)
  • Hand soap (we get in the habit of washing after every bathroom visit on Day one. I have a stool so they can do this on their own.)
  • Underpants (we make a big deal about this one and let the kids pick out their own on a special trip to the store!)
  • A travel potty (this comes in handy for the little ones when you are out and about in public restrooms. I store it in a bag along with wipes to clean it off after each use)
  • Extra clothes for the car (pack a ziplock bag with extra undies and clothing for the car in case of accidents)
  • Piddle Pad (I use this pad in the car seat for the first few months in case of accidents in the car. It saves me the time of washing the car seat which we all know as mamas is not an easy task!)
  • Meals-think about what your family will eat over the three days. If you don't already meal plan, you will want to plan for the weekend. I plan on making dinner during nap time so that I am present with my little trainer the rest of the day.

So as I write this we prepare for Day 1 of the program. My little one just woke up and my husband made a big deal that today was the day! My older daughter showed her little sister her own underpants drawer and gave her a big hug congratulating her on being a big girl. It's labor day weekend and we have some family coming over this weekend but they all know that our #1 priority is the potty training. If we can take the practice potty on the boat, it will be the cherry on top of a fine three days!

Family-Fun Fri, 30 Aug 2013 00:29:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/potty-training-part-two
Potty Training Part One http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/potty-training-part-one

 

We are preparing for a special three days in our household, Potty Training Bootcamp!

 

To share our experiences with you, I am going to do so over the course of three blog posts. 

 

Part 1: Setting the Mood: Read the 3-Day Potty Training Manual and get your child excited about going on the potty!

 

Part 2: Potty Training 101: Be prepared before you begin and get support during the 3 Days.

 

Part 3: The Days After Potty Training: How to prepare for the first few weeks after potty training.

 


Part 1: Setting The Mood

First things first, you need to decide if your child is ready to potty train. Here's a great video from Mama Natural that gives a list of 7 signs to look for in potty training readiness. You also need to decide which method you are going to follow. We used the 3-Day Potty Training method which is an ebook that you can read in about 45 minutes from start to finish. This woman has done her research and I am not going to sit here and try to tell you exactly how to potty train when there is a simple, cohesive guide to follow. I have had friends who have gone on their own training their child which has worked. Personally, I liked following a program and knowing that in three days, my child will be potty trained (we used this method with our oldest and it works!) I have also had a handful of friends who have used this method with success (including two families with twins!)

 

Once you are ready and you think your child is, now it's time to set the mood. Fill your library bag up with children's books about the potty and going on the potty. I spend about 1-2 weeks reading these books before we actually do the three days.  The books we have read are in the Amazon display above. We also used the Elmo's Potty video with our first child. My second child was just introduced to tv about a month ago (we almost made it to age two, she is 23 months, which is always my goal but with a five hour trip up north alone with my girls, I didn't hesitate to use the dvd player!) and she has no interest in sitting and watching a show.

 

Another way to set the mood for potty training is to use MUSIC to motivate your child. I found a ton of fun songs to sing along to on Youtube all about using the potty.

 

Finally, this is my favorite part of getting your little one excited about using the potty. Head out to the store and let them pick out their very own big kid underpants! My little one picked out a pack of Hello Kitty underpants and she was super geeked about it!

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Potty Training Series!

 

 

 

Family-Fun Wed, 28 Aug 2013 00:31:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/potty-training-part-one
Christmas in August http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/christmas-in-august

Christmas in August? Kind of. I was able to talk my friend into making holiday ornaments with my girls and I last week. Why? 

 

I am in the beginning stages of planning mode for Baby #3 coming in December. I found a great tutorial on making clay ornaments on Pinterest. You can find the directions here. I have tried making 

ornaments in the past with flour and dough and this recipe is the greatest I've come across.

 

 

 

The best part of having this craft take place during August? We were able to do all the messy steps of the project outside. Now we have 

beautiful, homemade ornaments for family to give away in December without the anxiety of squeezing in a craft like this during the craziest time of year. 

 

 

 

 

Crafts-with-Kids Mon, 26 Aug 2013 00:57:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/christmas-in-august
Friday Inspiration http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/friday-inspiration

I love when positive inspiration pops up into my Facebook feed. It's how I start the day, a little browsing on my home page (Who had a baby? Whose birthday is it today?) and posting on my business page. My friend Meg and I manage the Making Spirits Bright page and Meg has been posting some really great quotes lately. Head over there and "like" the page. This way you will get these positive mantras in your feed every few days too!

Health-and-Wellness Fri, 23 Aug 2013 00:32:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/friday-inspiration
New York http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/new-york

Over the weekend, my husband and I flew to New York to spend time in the city for my cousin's wedding. It was a nice little getaway we could call a Babymoon since we were sans children and baby #3 is due to arrive in December. New York has sooooo much to offer as far as good food, adventure, sight seeing and people watching. But above all, my favorite part was my cousin's wedding. It was in Battery Park with the Hudson River just feet away from us and The Statue of Liberty just off shore. The vows, the tradition of the ceremony, the white wedding dress... it all had me holding Dave's hand tighter and smiling having him by my side. One of the readings was so good. It was called The Parable of Love. It had me in tears (not sure if this means much, considering I am loaded with extra horomones.) I googled it and found it. There was not a source to add but here it is: 

 

Once upon a time, there was an island where all the feelings lived: Happiness, Sadness, Knowledge, and all of the others, including Love. 
One day it was announced to the feelings that the island would sink, so all constructed boats and left. Except for Love. 

 

Love was the only one who stayed back on the island. Love wanted to hold out until the last possible moment. 

 

When the island was almost going to sink, Love decided to ask for help. Richness was passing by Love in a grand boat. Love said, Richness, can you take me with you?" Richness answered - "No, I can't. There is a lot of gold and silver in my boat. There is no place here for you."

 

Love decided to ask Vanity who was also passing by in a beautiful vessel. "Vanity, please help me!" "I can't help you, Love. You are all wet and might damage my boat, " Vanity answered.

 

Sadness was close by so Love asked, "Sadness, let me go with you." "Oh... Love, I am so sad that I need to be by myself!"

 

Happiness passed by Love, too, but she was so happy that she did not even hear when Love called her.

 

Suddenly, there was a voice, "Come, Love, I will take you." It was an elder. So blessed and overjoyed, Love even forgot to ask the elder where they were going. When they arrived at dry land, the elder left Love on the dry land, and went her own way. Realizing how much Love owed the elder, Love asked Knowledge, another elder, "Do you know who helped me out?" "It was Time." Knowledge answered."Time?" asked Love. "But why did Time help me?" Knowledge smiled with deep wisdom and answered - "Because only Time is capable of understanding how valuable Love is."

 


Isn't that beautiful? I loved it and am so happy to have found it to share with you. Back to the wedding night....The band was amazing and this 5 1/2 month pregnant chick couldn't get herself off the dance floor. I especially liked slow dancing with my Dad to "Baby Love." Being a parent gives me a new perspective of being a daughter.

 

The rest of the weekend was spent exploring the city by foot, taxi and subway.  By horse and buggy too as we cruised Central Park on Saturday afternoon. Dave and I met with Brandon Wood, the playwright of Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun: The Musical. We had coffee with him and his wife and talked about what's next for the play. The first year of our contract is up and Brandon was ahead of schedule finishing with the writing and musical composition. Now the play is being pitched to several different producers in New York and this next year will consist of casting, rehearsing and preparing the musical for the stage. We are all very excited about where this is all going!

 

The city is full of life and beauty in its culture and art. But coming home to our cozy little house and our beautiful little girls surpasses anything the city could offer!

Author-Adventures Wed, 21 Aug 2013 00:19:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/new-york
I Won't Give Up http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/wont-give-up

After working with a local publisher on my first and second children's books, I decided to publish on my own. That is, I started a publishing company called Maria Dismondy Inc. with the imprint, Making Spirits Bright: One Book At A Time. I have been very pleased with running the company on my own. I publish books that are making a difference (I do not publish titles not written by myself) I am consulting with aspiring writers and speaking at schools across Michigan using my books as part of my platform. It's truly a dream come true. I love the work. I am reminded through fan mail from parents and children that I am making a difference in the lives of littles ones all over. 

 

So what's the problem? Ha ha! You knew that was coming didn't you? 

 

I've ALWAYS wanted to work with either an agent or a large publishing house. Why? I am not so sure. I guess I would simply love the experience to help me grow as a writer and business owner. In the last year, I have been putting extra efforts into submissions to agents and publishers. I have had a handful of interested agents (some I am still going back and forth with) but nothing has come to fruition. It's exhausting opening the mail to another big. fat. NO.

 

But here's the deal. Rome wasn't built in a day. I know good things will come to those who wait. I am doing great things and if this is the path I am to go down, it will happen. Recently, I have had two sucessful children's book authors contact ME about how to go about self-publishing. I was dumbfounded. Why would they want to do THAT? Here I am wanting the contract they hold with these companies in New York and California and they are trying to do what I am doing! It turns out they both want another experience, same as I do.

 

I took this picture of me holding a rejection letter last week. In the picture, I am wearing a ring I had made when I studied abroad in Thailand in 2000 (my wedding ring is feeling a bit tight these days and I am only 5 1/2 months into this pregnancy!) The ring says my maiden name in thai. It's a reminder of where I have been and where I have come today. Maria Cini might have let these No's turn into some story about how she was not good enough or that good things could never happen to her. Maria Dismondy knows that self doubt is crap and that ANYTHING is possible if you create the possibility. Maria Dismondy completes things and frankly, this mission is simply not finished!

 

Here's to dreams, possibilities and going after what you are SO deserving of! 

Health-and-Wellness Mon, 19 Aug 2013 00:43:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/wont-give-up
Memory Keeper http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/memory-keeper

I wear my title of Memory Keeper in our house very proudly. Pictures, mementos and videos mean a lot to me and there's a history to it. My parents divorced when I was five and our home videos were lost in the shuffle. So were half of my baby photos and most of my childhood mementos. When I want to bring back good old memories, I look at my Childhood Pinterest Board! It makes me sad to be missing these nicknacks and it makes me try even harder to preserve memories for my girls. I love sharing my system with others and at the same time,  hearing what others do. 

 

For them:

Photo #1/2 (above) A file box (from IKEA) that has a file for every school year. I plan to save my favorite and most memorable school papers and reports here. I loved this bloggers organizing system that came with FREE printable labels so that's what I used to prep these boxes for my girls.

 

3. Photo Boxes-Michaels JUST had these photo boxes on save for $1 something! I bought three for each kid. I labeled them ages Birth-6, 7-12 and 13-18. I know as a kid I had loads of school projects that required me to get into my family photo albums and copy, cut then paste pictures. Now adays this is not as easy with everything going digital. Every now and then Shutterfly (online photo site that I upload my family photos to in folders by year then sub folders grouped quarterly) offers FREE 101 prints. I order special photos for each girl to add to their boxes. Inside their boxes the photos are grouped in envelopes by their age. These pictures will go with them when they are older. And they can be shuffled through anytime because they are theirs to keep. This is no cost to me and I like having nice photos on hand that they can use instead of scrambling and going to the printer when they need a picture in their hands.

 

4. Memory Boxes-I bought two of these memory boxes from Home Goods for each child. Inside are mementos that need more space such as a Baptism candle, trophies, a few outfits that I can't let go from each girl (I want to make them into a quilt for them someday) and special gifts that they will get when they are older like a cross necklace from their grandparents that would get lost of broken if I gave it to them now.

 

5. Pregnancy Journals-For each pregnancy I kept a journal. It was a journal with prompts. Each child gets one of these (they are stored in their Memory Box, #4). Since I have girls, I think they will love knowing what my pregnancies and births were like when they are in the same place in life someday!

 

7. Baby Books-These books are filled with prompts to record special memories from age birth-five. They are stored in the Memory Boxes, #4 

 

8. First Year Scrapbooks-A friend MADE me a first year scrapbook that I simply had to fill in with pictures when my first baby was born. I used to be a HUGE scrapbooker so these were more of a hobby for me than anything. I made one for baby #2 but this is something I am letting go with baby #3 because I now prefer digital scrapbooking.

 

9. Journals-I bought each child a journal to write in sporadically. I am a writer. I have 19 of my own diaries. I love to write my thoughts, fears, wishes, hopes and dreams. Since the baby books have so much journaling I haven't used these that much but I can see me writing in them later on as the girls get older.

 

Childhood Photobook-Since Shutterfly is an amazing site that has thousands of my pictures saved (I also keep them on an external drive just in case) I plan to make a book for each of our kids when they graduate from high school. A few pages for each year of their lives. It beats printing my family yearbook off each year for each kid (too costly) and making a book for each kid, each year (too time consuming). 

 

Video-As you can see, photography and scrapbooking are hobbies of mine. I also LOVE making videos on my mac. I took a few courses at the Apple store and I can whip up a video in less than an hour now. I made a 3-5 minute video for each of the kids birthdays. There is a main video set to music that I show at their birthday party with the family. Then there are different chapers with short clips of videos I took during that year. 

 

 

For us:

6. Since each pregnancy and birth were such special times to my husband and I, I documented them in a digtital scrapbook (very little journaling, mainly pictures). I ordered both FREE by waiting for Shutterfly's 8x8 free book coupon.

 

First Year Book-I made each girl a digital first year book that I am keeping for myself. They change SO MUCH in that first year, I wanted to have these memories to cherish myself.

 

Family Yearbooks-Every year I print a digital book that is organized by month of all the special happenings for our family. These yearbooks end up having about 75-100 pages and cost about $100. I don't print any of the pictures, I just use these books as my photo books. They are saved in your account forever which is a great backup in case of a fire. 

 

Video-I make a copy of each child's yearly video for my husband and I. I also burn our videos from the year onto a DVD so that we have them to watch on a lazy day!

 

 

 

Family-Fun Fri, 16 Aug 2013 00:29:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/memory-keeper
Non-Fiction http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/non-fiction

 Here's what our preschooler top picks from the library are these days: Clifford, Dora, Berenstein Bears and Arthur. Over and over and over 

again! The same series! That's why when we were up north and my friend had this magazine in her book basket, I knew we were in for a treat. How about a little non-fiction reading about animals that is age-appropriate for preschoolers? Yes, please! I would also suggest this magazine for Kindergartners and First Graders since it is at their reading levels. 

 

You can find out more about ordering a subscription of National Geographic for Little Kids here!

Literacy Wed, 14 Aug 2013 00:11:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/non-fiction
Sweet Summer Relief http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/sweet-summer-relief

I wanted to share three tasty treats our family has been enjoying this summer! Ever since I started taking my Beautiful Babies class, I am learning more and more about the importance of eating REAL foods. I am happy to report that some of our favorite summer desserts fall into this REAL food category.

 

1. Watermelon Milkshakes. The ingredients are super simple: frozen watermelon, milk and sugar. I can't help but throw in some chipped spinach (like I do with eggs, smoothies, and many other things I make) Here is where I first learned about these delicious shakes. 

 

2. Zipsicles-I mentioned this earlier this summer and I am so happy with how much my girls love their popsicles. They are filled with super nutrients and at the same time I am a cool mom for letting them have a summer treat! 

 

3. Yonanas Ice Cream Treat- We were at a friends house Saturday and he made us an ice cream treat. The ingredients? Frozen fruit. That's it. I am hear to tell you that the consistency is JUST LIKE SOFT SERVE ice cream. It's unreal and I can't wait to buy our own Yonana machine!

 

Do you have any REAL food treats that your family enjoys? Please share with us in the comments below. 

Health-and-Wellness Mon, 12 Aug 2013 00:32:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/sweet-summer-relief
Pen Pals http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/pen-pals


My friend had a great idea this summer for our children, pen pals! We spent time helping our four-year-olds send letters and cards back and forth to each other over the last few months. It was a wonderful way to encourage literacy over the lazy summer months. In the past, my daughter and I tried a few unique writing projects such as writing a letter to someone on a flip-flop and sending a message in a bottle. After you have these written and addressed to your recipient, take them to the post office for the correct postage and you are all set!

 

This summer we mailed a message on a ball to our pen pal. My daughter decorated it with Sharpie markers and after a trip to the post office along with the correct postage, the ball arrived on her pen pal's doorstep. Smiles were had! Happiness shared!

 

Try a fun and unique writing project with your child before the summer comes to an end. I dare you! Then tell me what the project was so we have more ideas for the future!

 

 

Literacy Fri, 09 Aug 2013 00:43:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/9/pen-pals
Summer Series-Meg Zucker http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/summer-series-meg-zucker

This will be our last Summer Series Guest Post. I am so thankful to all of the bloggers who shared their family traditions with Be The Difference over the last three months. This month I am excited to welcome Meg Zucker. I guest blogged for Meg and her readers a few months ago. Visit Meg on her website here. "Think Before You Judge" is something Meg stands for. She is an inspiration to her readers and I am thrilled to have met her!

 

Nantucket Freedom  By  Meg Zucker

 

“C’mon, Ethan!”  With his training wheels still attached, our five-year-old son had already completed half of the nearly seven mile ride  down the Milestone Road bike path on Nantucket Island.  Ethan and I shared a mutual love for this long bike ride together, and these moments were always particularly precious.  The path ran next to the road that stretched from the center of the Island to Sconset, a charming old village nestled on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  

 

For the past ten years, at the end of every August, my husband John and I have taken our three children to Nantucket, a pristine little “spit of land” (as it is commonly called) off the coast of Massachusetts.     Now eleven years old, Ethan has been taking the three hour ferry over from Hyannis since he was in diapers, and Charlie (age 8) and Savanna, (age 6) since they were both newborns.  When most people imagine summers on Nantucket, they probably think of phenomenal beaches, cobble stone streets, grey cedar-shake houses (virtually every house is grey shingled, with white trim), adorable boutique shops, authentic island lightship baskets, great cuisine, towering lighthouses and beautiful sunsets over the ocean. 

 

While those attractions certainly describe the typical Nantucket experience for most, they pale in comparison to what the Island actually represents to my family and me: Freedom.  Of course, for any family, a vacation represents a freedom from work, school, bills, and all of life’s typical obligations.  But for my family, Nantucket has also represented a different kind of freedom; a special place where I could hold back and watch my kids try and accomplish physical tasks most onlookers would assume nearly impossible. 

 

You see, my children were born with my genetic condition called “ectrodactyly.”  Although the name sounds rather complicated, it is a Greek word that merely means, “missing digits.”  Just to set the record straight, based on that definition, I am missing a lot of them—eighteen in total, actually. I only have one finger on each hand and one toe on each foot.  Both Ethan and Charlie have a similar version of my physical difference. 

 

Unless you live in our shoes, our condition might sound quite life-altering.  But actually, our days are just like everyone else’s.  Other than the challenges of unscrewing certain types of bottle caps or playing certain musical instruments, our physical differences don’t really hold us back at all.   When I think about it, the only thing that really could potentially hold my kids back could be, well, actually…..me.   In reality, I am the independent adult that I am because my own parents allowed me to grow up assuming anything was possible.  I was encouraged to try everything I set my mind to (tying shoes, ballet, trombone, gymnastics….), and they resisted the ever present urge to intervene. 

 

It is in this context that our trips to Nantucket factors in for my own family so importantly.  It represents a place where I can follow in my parents’ footsteps, let my kids explore, and let go of my natural urge to overprotect.  It was on Nantucket that our kids had many firsts: They climbed their first rope jungle gym to the top and down again at the Children’s Beach playground.  They rode their bikes for the first time for any distance on the Milestone Road to Sconset.  They first learned to play ping-pong in the basement of our rental home.  Their first ocean swim was in Nantucket Sound.  The first time they reeled in a fish was in the waters close to Brant Point.  The list goes on, but for our family, the significance of each new accomplishment has been undeniable.  

 

As we grow excited once again with anticipation for our next visit later this month, I feel grateful knowing that Nantucket represents a destination where our kids assume anything is possible.  It is a place where they have been able to explore life and their abilities naturally and happily, in a beautiful, even magical environment.

 

Even more importantly, they always bring their never say never attitude, their freedom to try anything, home with them.   In that sense, we live on Nantucket all year round.

Guest-Bloggers Wed, 07 Aug 2013 00:11:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/summer-series-meg-zucker
Mom Swap http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/mom-swap

This summer I worked with a friend of mine in my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group on a mom swap. 

A mom swap can look different for different people. Here's how it worked for us:

 

Once a week my friend dropped her two kids off to my house from 9-12 for a playdate. She then left to run errands. A few times she went out for a run and home for a shower! Whatever the mom wants! Then the next week I would drop my kids off to her for three hours. I used the time to run errands, catch up on work and I had a manicure a few times. We are continuing with this type of a set up through this month then in the fall we are swapping for date nights! I will put her kids to bed and hang out on her couch while her and her husband go out. My kids will be home sleeping under the care of my husband. So instead of a playdate, it's a playdate for the parents! 

 

I have loved this set up. It's a totally free, fair swap. The best part of all is that the kids have fun! 

 

Health-and-Wellness Mon, 05 Aug 2013 00:57:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/mom-swap
Third Annual Tea Party http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/annual-tea-party

My friend and I got our girls together for their Third Annual Tea Party

 

It was my turn to host. Here's a list of what I did to prepare for the lunch.

 

1. Lunch was peanut butter & honey sandwiches. Cut with a heart cookies cutter and put into individual lunch bags with hearts on them (Target Dollar Section)

 

2. Teapot cookies were ordered from our local bakery. I love to bake but when it comes to decorating cookies, I fail miserably. I have given up and let go of this so when I want a good lookin' cookie or cake, I order it from Marcia at Buttercream Bakeshop.

 

3. Hats-We made these adorable hats using a glue gun, ribbon, feathers, flowers and plastic bowls and plates. Step-by-step instructions by Kelle Hampton here.

 

4. Candy bracelets-I found this tutorial on Pinterest. I was going to have my daugther help me but I wanted clean hands to make these since our guest would be eating the candy!

 

5. Flowers-I cut pink hydrangeas from our yard to make the little table look elegant.

 

6. Decorations-I printed a "Tea Parties are for Little Girls" and frilly notes and labels here.

 

7. Doilies-these paper products MAKE a tea party!

 

8. Tea Cups and Ice Cream Cups-I used fancy punch cups because I didn't have tea cups and I used ice cream cups to put fruit in for lunch.

 

9. Party Favors-A pack of three fancy necklaces for each girl from the Dollar Tree.

 

10. Dresses and Pearls-We had the girls wear pretty sundresses and they got to dress up in our pearl necklaces.

 



Crafts-with-Kids Fri, 02 Aug 2013 00:34:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/8/annual-tea-party
Summer Series-Funky First Grade Fun http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/summer-series-funky-first-grade-fun

My name is Kimberly and I feel honored to be able to write a guest post for Maria today. Maria and I first met when she visited my classroom 2 years ago. My students were sure that she probably rode to our school in a pink limousine! During her visit, she read Pink Tiara Cookies for Three and told us about her "new" book The Potato Chip Champ.  My students and my own children love her stories and so do I!



When Maria asked me to blog about family traditions, I knew right away which tradition I would write about.  This morning, I asked my 10 year old daughter about her definition of a family tradition.  Her response is better than any definition I could have created.

My daughter's definition of a family tradition...
 
 

Five years ago, we started a new family tradition.   Every summer, we visit Mackinac Island.  Mackinac Island is an island located just north of the lower peninsula in Michigan.  It is a charming island with beautiful homes overlooking the lake, quaint little shops and plenty of opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities mixed with a bit of history everywhere you turn.  On Mackinac Island, the residents and visitors travel by foot, bike or horse drawn carriage.  Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the island.

During our annunal visit to Mackinac Island, we ride our bikes around the island.  Each year, we stop half way around the 8 mile loop to take a family picture on the same rock.  My husband sets the timer on the camera and scales the rocks to jump into the picture.  The picture has become an important tradition for our family.  It also helps us document the how the kids have grown throughout the years.

Our family tradition in pictures...

 

 
 

 

 

 

We will continue this tradition as long as it creates happy memories and makes us all feel loved!  Thank you, Maria!  I loved being your guest.  

 

You can visit me at...

 

 

Hope to see you soon!

Guest-Bloggers Wed, 31 Jul 2013 00:08:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/summer-series-funky-first-grade-fun
August Happiness Project http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/happiness-project-august

This quote got me to thinking about my Happiness Project. Do I believe that in order to be happy I need to accomplish monthly goals? 

 


Absolutely not. But to focus each month on doing something that makes me happy, sure does increase my happiness. How do I know this? I am almost two years into these little happiness projects and I am witness that it is working for me. 

 

August: Online Parenting Class

This month I am participating in a class that came with the purchase of a new book I read called Beautiful Babies. After looking at the elements of the course, I am interested in the videos and "Bringing it Home" Assignments in each lesson. There is a workbook that goes with the course but that isn't something that would bring me happiness :) Thinking about the arrival of baby #3, I am amazed at what I have learned since baby #1 was born. Over the course of over four years the information I've read and learned from other mama friends is priceless. I am trying my best to keep up with my pregnancy journal, taking belly pictures, etc. with this baby to keep the three babies equal and as fair as possible. I am not reading as many pregnancy books as I did with my other two children (this may be because I've read all of them by now!) I am looking forward to learning more through this new and unfamiliar course.

 

July: Exercise Challenge

Follow-Up: I did it (I do have two days left so up to this point, I did it!) Every single arm challenge (including the suggested rest days) minus one set of push ups and one set of biceps. Dave started off doing them with me and as you can see in the picture, he had an extra 20 lb. challenge on him! I do not see a difference in my arms which is a bummer but Dave does which is great! It was REALLY hard near the end of the month with the challenge but I stuck to it. I like when I commit to something and I follow through. It gives me those personal brownie points we all need every once in awhile.

 

June: 35 of My Favorite Things

Follow-Up: I listed 35 things (in honor of my 35th birthday in May) that make me happy to complete in June. Here's the list. I did almost everything. Sitting in the sun and doing nothing did not get crossed off my list. I've come to realize that as a working from home, mother of two, sitting in the sun and doing nothing is unrealistic. I like to be busy and this was the old me who loved laying out in the sun. Now, if I am sitting in the sun, it makes me happy to be reading for enjoyment or work---to be productive.

 
May: Pursue My Hobby

Follow-Up: I completed a four week class from Jessica Sprague called Portraiture 101. I also watched one-hour of an online workshop but it wasn't speaking to me so I didn't watch the entire clip over at Creative Live. It felt really good to be challenged behind the lens and to capture our everyday moments with my fancy Nikon and not just my iPhone! We had a journaling assignment where we created an artist statement. I also got a fun camera bag for my birthday!

 


April: Going Green

Follow-Up: Our family had a green smoothie every single day this month except for one! It was one day in Florida and I couldn't find a restaurant on the run to make me a green drink. 29/30 days, not bad. Will we keep it up? Sure! Everyday? I don't think that's necessary. Here's what I found out: Prepping ahead of time and making up your smoothies in bags in the freezer saves you a ton of time. The recipes make enough for our entire family and sometimes we have an 8oz drink left over. I keep this in the fridge and it is good for up to 24 hours. My blender is not the quality blender to be using for making smoothies every day but I am not ready to spend close to $500 for a Vitamix. I will put up with our current blender until it gives out on us!

 

These were my favorite recipes from Simple Green Smoothies:

 

CILANTRO LIMEMADE
— serves 2 —
1 ½ cups spinach, fresh
½ cup cilantro, fresh
2 cups water
3 bananas
1 lime, peeled 
1 inch ginger, fresh

 

BERRY PROTEIN BASH 
2 cups spinach, fresh
2 cups almond milk, unsweetened
1 cups strawberries
1 cup blueberries, frozen
1 banana
1/2 cup almonds*
*soak overnight in water before blending

 

Peach Coconut Dream

2 cups spinach, fresh

1 cup coconut water
2 cups Grapes, freeze overnight
1 peach

You can find out more about this Simple Green Smoothie Challenge here.

 

 

March: Work 

Follow-up This month I wanted to grow in a few areas in regards to work.

1. Read Pinterest Savvy by Melissa Taylor and create five things I learned from the book that I am going to put to use. These are the five things I learned about: Verify my website (check), comment on pins (I haven't done this yet), pin my videos (check), create a board and invite others to pin on it (check), after you follow someone new pin some of their stuff (check).

2.Google+ -I am on it, my profile is set, I've joined communities and circles but I am not sold on this platform yet.

3. Sponsorships-A HUGE thank you to my web girl and my graphic designer for helping me to get the advertisement up and running!

4. Thank you to my intern Karelyn for your support in our super successful Twitter Party! We had over thirty people join in the conversation. There were women from Hawaii, India and Singapore! We also had almost 200 entries for our Kindle Giveaway on Pinterest. It was a great month of new marketing adventures.

 
February: Clean Up & Clear Out

Follow-up This month I wanted to clean or organize something every day of the month. I also wanted to tackle a task that I had been thinking about for a very long time.

1. The clean up was good! I liked having a small task each day. I got a bit behind when we took our family trip.

2. I wrote the letters. Letters to my loved ones in case anything unexpected were to ever happen. Creepy, yes. Something I've always wanted to do though.

 

January: Learn

Follow-up This month I wanted to learn something new. I committed to doing this in three ways.

1. Learn to load the dishwasher. Check. It still doesn't look professional but with all the plastic servingware I am getting in there, I am not sure that's possible. Thanks to my pal Erica, I am able to fit more into my dishwasher with some organization!

2. UPDATE: April--this is a hard goal for me!!!! Learn about the instrument I play. Play the piano twice a week. My phone reminder was fun. Every Wednesday and Sunday morning it reminded me to play the piano. I wasn't always able to stop what I was doing to practice. I will continue to work on this goal! 

3. Learn to share my love. I participated in the Happier at Home 21 Day Relationship Challenge. I signed up for this challenge to learn some new, creative ways to show my appreciation to those I love in my life. I don't see my home lacking in love but why not learn more about vulnerability and authenticity? My favorite things I learned: Don't keep score, create a threshold ritual, and kiss in the morning and at night. 

 

One Little Word:

I have followed Ali Edwards project "One Little Word" for two years now. My word for 2011 was Peace and my word for 2012 was Balance. I've never taken her class but I have incorporated my word into my monthly goals/wishes/resolutions. Here's how to come up with a word (from Ali). My word for 2013 is Grace.

 

Can you identify a single word that sums up what you want for yourself in 2013?

It can be something tangible or intangible. It can be a thought, a feeling, or an emotion. It can be singular or plural. The key is to find something that has personal meaning for you. This is not your mother's word or your spouse's word or your child's word—this is YOUR word.

One little word can have big meaning in your life if you allow yourself to be open to the possibilities. And here's one thing that is totally interesting: sometimes a word will pop into your brain and it will not make any sense to you right now. Give it some time. Let it percolate a bit. I have often found that our heart speaks to us in very unique ways. Maybe this is a word you need to hear but just aren't ready for it yet.

Again, be open to the possibilities.

 

Health-and-Wellness Mon, 29 Jul 2013 00:00:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/happiness-project-august
Spa Night http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/spa-night

Between the rain and my oldest being under the weather a few weeks ago, we had to think of things to do to keep us happy inside.

I saw this idea of Pinterest and we went for it. An at-home Spa Night with my little ladies!

 

 

 

Here are a few more simple Pinterest Projects we have completed:

1. Cardboard Necklaces

2. Trix on a Stick

 

 

 

Family-Fun Fri, 26 Jul 2013 07:26:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/spa-night
Summer Series-Crisscross-Applesauce http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/summer-series-crisscross-applesauce string(108) "Smarty error: [in evaluated template line 6]: [plugin] unknown tag - 'fur' (core.load_plugins.php, line 198)" string(120) "Smarty error: [in evaluated template line 6]: syntax error: unrecognized tag 'fur' (Smarty_Compiler.class.php, line 590)" string(219) "Smarty error: [in evaluated template line 55]: syntax error: unrecognized tag: Glow stick ring toss anybody? (Smarty_Compiler.class.php, line 446)" string(118) "Smarty error: [in evaluated template line 55]: syntax error: unrecognized tag '' (Smarty_Compiler.class.php, line 590)"
 

Welcome to my guest blogger today, Holly from the blog Crisscross Applesauce. Holly and I met a year ago at a Blogger Meet-Up and again about a month ago at a local ice cream parlor (by chance!)

 

Hi Everybody!

 
I'm so happy to be here over at Maria's blog!  What a neat idea to share family traditions...I can't wait to incorporate some new ones into our little family of four +1 .
 
Summer to this family means backyard camp outs...lots of 'em!
 
 
Each summer we pitch the tent in the backyard.  When I say "we" I mean daddy.  He's the best tent pitcher this side of....the neighborhood.  
 
Who can camp out without a backyard campfire, Ball Park Franks....
 
 
What a great way for the kids to bond with daddy...no video games! No t.v.!
And of course...
...s'mores!
 
I don't know where the marshmallows rolled off to?


Fur baby Jetta has camped out with us since her puppy days!
Turn off those video games, turn off the t.v. and turn on the lightening bug catching, the s'mores making, the late night giggles and the middle-of-the-night-trying-to-get-warm-snuggles...
I made it a mission of mine to incorporate new summertime traditions by creating a "summer bucket list" Pinterest board...come check it out!  In searching Pinterest I have found so many other fun summer ideas that our family is in the process of incorporating into new summer traditions...and most of them are so easy, simple and cost very little to do!!!!  

I suppose I'll head out here....

 
Our front porch sees a lot of action on long summer days...
...to do a little reading, and thinking about which bucket list item to do next...that is, if there is an open seat....you can usually find *somebody* from our family sitting in those chairs - reading, chatting or people watching.

Happy Summer! 
 
And remember...
 
 
 
 
Guest-Bloggers Wed, 24 Jul 2013 00:30:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/summer-series-crisscross-applesauce
Book Review-Francis and Eddie http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/book-review-francis-and-eddie

About six months ago, Brad Herzog contacted me to talk about his new publishing company. I recognized this author immediately from books we own as a family that he has written and published with Sleeping Bear Press. Brad's new mission with his company Why Not Books is to give attention to specific stories in history while at the same time producing quality products. 

 

He nailed it with his first book by Why Not Books. Francis and Eddie took a historical event and made it a treasure in this new picture book, Francis and Eddie. I had never heard of the story of these two underdogs and I love that the book gives the story the attention it deserves. The illustrations are unique and seem to match the era that the story took place. As a former teacher, I can see this book being used in the classroom with several follow-up lessons. There are so many topics that can be addressed and highlighted after reading Francis and Eddie. As a parent myself, I will read this book to my children with the hope that it inspires them and fills them with hope that anything is possible.

 

Watch the book's trailer here. It is excellent!!!!

 

The best part about this new publishing company? They are dedicated to producing books that make a difference and are partnering each of their books with a specific non-profit and donating 7% of proceeds from each book to that charity. Making Spirits Bright: One Book at A Time---we are on the same wave length Why Not Books!

About the Author

Brad Herzog is the author of more than 30 books for children and four titles for adults. These include three critically acclaimed travel memoirs about his journeys through small towns, which the "American Book Review" has described as "the new classics of American travel writing." Among his series of children's books for Sleeping Bear Press are 15 sports titles (including "P is for Putt"), as well as "S is for Save the Planet", which was a finalist in the 2009 National Best Books awards. Brad has been honored several times by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, including a Grand Gold Medal for best magazine feature article of the year. He has been a guest on "The Today Show" and "Oprah" and has been profiled in publications ranging from "People" magazine to "Reader's Digest". He lives on California's Monterey Peninsula with his wife and two sons. Please visit bradherzog.com.
 

Book Description

A century ago, in 1913, the world's finest golfers gathered at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, to compete in golf's national championship, the U.S. Open. Joining them was a little-known amateur, 20-year-old Francis Ouimet, who lived across the street from the course and taught himself to play by sneaking onto the fairways with the only golf club he owned. His caddie? Ten-year-old Eddie Lowery, who stood only four feet tall. Together, against their idols and in front of a crowd that grew from a handful of spectators to a horde of thousands, they attempted to pull off the impossible. Along the way, they forged a lifelong friendship. In FRANCIS AND EDDIE award-winning author Brad Herzog and award-winning illustrator Zachary Pullen celebrate golf's most inspiring underdog story. What Seabiscuit is to the "sport of kings" Francis and Eddie are to the "gentleman's game."
Book-Reviews Fri, 19 Jul 2013 06:35:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/book-review-francis-and-eddie
Pure Michigan http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/pure-michigan

It's been since I was 20 or 21 that my friend Holly has invited me up to her cottage in Bellaire Michigan. There were a few years there when I first had Ruby that I stopped making the drive out of fear of being on my own for so many days with my child, in an unfamiliar place to her. Last year I braved it and took both girls, except for the wild car ride, we had a blast and decided to make the trip again this year. I love the adventure of being with alone with my kids, giving my husband some quiet time at home and being away from both my work and chores. People think I am crazy when I say that it's a nice break for me (since I have the kids with me) but it does give me a much needed break from our daily routine.

 

 

Holly's place is "nestled deep in the forest" claims my daughter. Which it is. Then she is a member at The Torch Lake Yacht Club where we spend most of the day since there are so many things for the kids to do from swimming and tennis to playgrounds and petoskey stone hunts. The only tv Holly has at the cottage plays VHS tapes so the kids had the treat of watching The Little Mermaid one night but no regular scheduled television shows. Relief! 

 

Here are some of the highlights from our trip:

1. The crystal clear blue water on Torch Lake

2. The sound of the trees outside the window at Holly's cottage. It's so quiet and peaceful.

3. Taking the girls to play miniature golf for the first time.

4. Making an old school bracelet with string for my girls (thanks for re-teaching me Holly!)

5. Lake Michigan and the beach at Elk Rapids

6. The street fair in Elk Rapids--complete with hot and fresh kettle corn!

7. When asked by her dad, my four-year-old claimed her favorite part of the trip was playing old maid with the kids. It's the simple things!

8. The Sleeping Bear Dunes---absolutely breathtaking!

9. Eating lunch in downtown Glen Arbor

10. Holly's Kerig coffee maker :)Oh, and catching up with my college roommate, of course!

11. Strawberry picking (yum!) and making a delicious pie when we got home with the berries.

 

 

**The picture of Holly and I is circa 2004**

 

 

Family-Fun Fri, 19 Jul 2013 00:31:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/pure-michigan
Summer Series-Beautiful Littles http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/Summer-series-beautiful-littles

Today I welcome Emily, a friend I met in our mom club/recipe club. Emily blogs over at Beautiful Littles and has such a positive vibe in her writing that it's contagious! I love her energy for life and her attitude to make each day count. Thank you for this post Emily!

 

I grew up in a family with many traditions; some had reasons, others just because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”  One of the longest standing and favorite family traditions is our annual cutting down of our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving.  We get any family whose in town together, drive out to the tree farm, pick up our saws and wagons and trek out amongst the evergreens to find just the right one.  When I met my husband, Michael, this was the first tradition that he began to join in on, and one that we’ve carried over into our own little family.  I’ve also learned about many of his family traditions, including the Christmas Eve Polish meal and Santa visit, and the Easter morning mushroom soup.  We’ve had many conversations over the years about what we want to carry on in our family, and we’ve also begun a few new ones. 

 

One of my very favorite traditions began very happenstance 5 years ago.  I was very pregnant with our first child, and we happened to find ourselves at 41 weeks for our weekly doctor appointment to discuss options.  The doctor checked on availability of doing an induction, and gave us the opportunity to check in at the hospital at 7 pm that evening to get labor started.  I was miserable at that point and just wanted to meet our baby girl, so we decided to go with it.  The doctor recommended going home, taking a nap, packing up our hospital bag and grabbing dinner before checking in, since it was likely I wouldn’t be able to eat anything for a while.  When Michael asked me what I wanted for my “last meal,” I randomly chose IHOP and ordered a very large portion of their blueberry pancakes.  We left IHOP, checked in at the hospital and after a long labor, finally got to meet our little girl, Harper Elizabeth, on July 17th

 

 

The following year, as Harper’s first birthday was fast approaching, my husband completely surprised me when he suggested we start a tradition of making blueberry pancakes for dinner the night before her birthday.  He has a crazy memory for all the little details, and I loved that he remembered our last meal as a family of two.  I immediately knew this was a tradition we would continue, and now, every July 16th, our family dinner table finds itself covered with hot, blueberry pancakes and loads of syrup. 

 

I chose today to share this special family tradition of ours, as today is Harper’s 5th birthday, and our bellies are definitely full of the blueberry flapjacks we consumed last night.  Yesterday, I shared with Harper the story of how this tradition started, and I actually pictured in my head her moved away, married and with children of her own, both of us talking on the phone as we make our own batches of blueberry pancakes and eat them together.  The tears in my eyes and the bright smile on her face reinforced why I love traditions.  They carry more meaning than what is on the surface, and it takes only asking why? to discover a treasured family story. 

Guest-Bloggers Wed, 17 Jul 2013 00:32:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/Summer-series-beautiful-littles
Book Review-Jodi Piccoult http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/book-review-jodi-piccoult

The girls and I took a trip to visit a friend last week. When I am away from laundry, cooking, cleaning and my computer, I get consumed in a book. I wish I made more time to read for pleasure at home but at the end of the day I can normally only get through a chapter, two at the most. 

 

For a long time I read the same author over and over because she was THAT good. It's been awhile but over the week I read Keeping Faith by Jodi Piccoult (thank you to my recipe girls for leaving it at my house!) The book wasn't my favorite but it kept me wanting more and that's what I look for in an author. A writer that keeps you engaged and entertained. Below is a list of other titles I've read by Jodi Piccoult along with my favorites. 

 

Any book suggestions for me?
I am a fan of realistic (usually not historical) fiction.

 

Nineteen Minutes -LOVED THIS ONE

House Rules

Plain Truth-Also very good

The Pact-MY FAVORITE

Mercy

My Sister's Keeper

Picture Perfect

Perfect Match

Change of Heart

Book-Reviews Mon, 15 Jul 2013 00:59:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/book-review-jodi-piccoult
Summer Series-Enlarging Marge http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/summer-series-enlarging-marge

Summer has brought some really great guest bloggers to Be The Difference over the last month. I love the different writing styles, personalities and the heartwarming stories that have been shared every Wednesday. Today I welcome Maggie. Maggie and I met at Lifetime years ago. Maggie and her husband Will took my Tuesday morning class forever! Maggie and I had our babies about 6 weeks apart and have been growing closer every since (we will be having our next two children three months apart!) Maggie also write for Be The Difference almost two years ago. She wrote a Cloth Diapering Series. You can follow Maggie over at Enlarging Marge

 

When Maria tapped me to write a guest post on her fab blog, I was honored and eager, especially given the subject. My mother and her family are tradition people. I had plenty of material to work with. But then, when I sat to write, I realized that some of my fondest memories are from accidental traditions. Small traditions. Actions and experiences that occur seemingly spontaneously. "Traditions" formulated by my non-tradition loving dad.

 

When I thought more about it, I realized that, like my father, standard traditions make me a titch antsy. Where there are traditions, there are expectations. And, where there are expectations, there is frequently disappointment. By bucking tradition and creating special "moments," my mechanical engineering, plan-to-the-hilt dad embraced spontaneity and left my brother and I with indelible memories.

 

Peter and I shared a room. When our street-side room in our lakeside home flashed with lightning and trembled with thunder, we trembled too - right across the hall into Mom and Dad's room. Now, a little background. Mom was our savior. A former kindergarten teacher turned full-time stay-at-home Maggie and Peter minder and magic maker. She cooked eggs for breakfast. Pedaled us to the beach. Wiped our noses and bloody knees. Dedicated her life to our happiness. So, logic would lead you to believe that we'd crawl into bed next to her, or that she'd usher us back to our twin beds so that my hard-working dad could sleep until his Mead Paper 7 a.m. start time.

 

Memorably, when lightening and thunder was involved, this was rarely the case.

 

Instead of Mom doing the consoling, Dad stepped in. The three of us would pad along the brown shag carpeted hallway and down narrow staircase to the first floor. My dad would set us up in front of the large picture window overlooking Lake Michigan, pontificating on the science behind storms as bolts of lightening razored from clouds to water. He'd count with us the time between flash and thunderous boom, all the while busying himself in the kitchen.

 

Ten minutes later, hands laden with a tray holding plates and mugs, he'd usher us onto the street-facing screen porch and a squeaky metal, somewhat musty, gliding couch. There, flanked by two fearful children, my dad would dole out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hot chocolate. Our science lesson would continue as we watched the rain fall in curtains around the streetlamps. If it was a particularly long storm he sometimes slid into a thunder-inspired, dad-fabricated story, punctuated by magic carpets and marshmallow-filled pools.

 

I don't remember how he got us back to bed. But, I know that in the morning, our windowsill damp with the night's rain, Peter and I would meet our mother in the kitchen. Our father would be gone, working at The Mill.

 

It became a tradition, but not the kind with expectations. Two sun-browned kids, without access to The Weather Channel, we didn't know when we'd find ourselves fearfully jolted awake by window rattling thunder. It was organically generated magic.

 

Now, with a two-year old under foot and another on the way, I've begun mimicking my father. During daytime downpours, Maizey and I pull the ottoman to the patio door, open it, snuggle together with popsicles and watch the rain. It wasn't intentional. It just happened. It's not stressful. It doesn't require preparation and there aren't expectations. It is just a special, quiet, spontaneous, storm-motivated five or ten minutes we spend together.

 

Thanks, Dad.

 

Maggie, on street-facing porch, on the musty metal gliding sofa, with her dad, Bob

Guest-Bloggers Wed, 10 Jul 2013 00:19:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/summer-series-enlarging-marge
The Holiday Weekend http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/holiday-weekend

The weekend was filled with family fun from sun up to sundown. Here are some highlights from the weekend.

 

1. Having my husband Dave home with us for four straight days!

2. The 4th of July Parade with my family and high school friend Molly and her family. Her mom saved us front row seats for the Plymouth Parade. I loved filling our minivan with our family plus my mom and sister!

3. Friends and Family over on the 4th, my Baked Potato Bar and watching fireworks on the lake late night.

4. Friday morning Dave quietly slipped out of bed and I snoozed until 8:45. It was amazing.

5. My Dad and Sharon hopped in the minivan and went to my daughter's tennis lessons with us. Then we all had a Guernsey ice cream cones, went for a boat ride and swim then ended the night with my sirloin and blue cheese sliders.

6. Saturday I taught my spin class with a special visitor taking the class, my friend Emily! She's training to become a spin instructor herself so we grabbed a few green smoothies afterwards and caught up.

7. My husband's cousin has children the same age as our girls. They came over Saturday and the older girls were like two peas in a pod. We made mini pizzas on the grill.

8. My mother-in-law has a summer cottage next door to us. She ordered us all (my husband and all of his siblings and their kids) dinner Saturday night and the kids played late. My four-year-old didn't watch one bit of television all weekend long. I love when we are so busy having fun that t.v. is not an option!

9. Sunday was a lazy morning and I started a new book by Jodi Piccoult. I went grocery shopping, packed for a trip Up North and caught up with family.

10. The weekend ended with all the kids tubing and my husband skiing. I stayed back at the house and watched. I am beat from going all weekend long. Today my girls had two baths. I thought we were done with the lake but I was sooooo wrong!

 

Family-Fun Mon, 08 Jul 2013 00:48:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/holiday-weekend
Summer Series with Erin Klein http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/summer-series-erin-klein
Thank you to my dear blogger buddy, Erin Klein for submitting this post for today's Summer Series. Erin is a devoted teacher who works at Cranbrook and who educates other teachers daily over on her blog Kleinspiration.
 
I'm honored to be writing for Maria's blog today.  Her inspirational post and projects have made such a difference in my life as a teacher and a mother.  I have had the pleasure of meeting her, and I can say she is truly such a gift to the field of education.  Her positive spirit is infectious!
 
When asked to be a guest blogger, I instantly agreed.  Any chance I get to connect with Maria, I take it.  After contemplating the topic, my initial thought was how easy this post would be to write.  After all, the post would be on my own family.  This would be not only simple but also enjoyable.  However, after reflecting on particular traditions we have, I began to wonder if I was actually much more non-traditional than I had originally thought.  
 
I can honestly say that my husband, Jason, is my best friend.  When our families blended together in 2005, we decided to adopt traditions that felt comfortable to the new family we were making.  Though it was important to hold on to some of the memories of each of our own past, it was equally important for the two of us to start new traditions that made sense for our little family.  
 
The first year we were married, we traveled all over during the holiday season.  Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we successfully managed to see all of our family (on both sides) but also spend the majority of our time in the car traveling back and forth.  It was exhausting!  We loved seeing everyone but soon realized that there had to be a better way to manage this quality time.  The following year, we decided to host Thanksgiving dinner at our beautiful new home.  The only problem was that I didn't cook.  
 
As we began preparing for Thanksgiving dinner, I didn't want Jason to get stuck with all of the kitchen associated tasks (I really don't even know what would be involved in this process... it just seemed intense).  I suggested we ordered the majority of our feast from Bob Evans.  This worked out pretty well.  Everyone was able to spend quality time together, and no one was separated in the kitchen working the day away.  When it was time to eat, everyone gathered around the table and enjoyed a delicious meal together.  The only problem was that I didn't eat turkey.  
 
Jason and I began talking one evening and discussed how nice it was to be able to sit with our family and enjoy a special meal together.  We had only hoped that it would have been a meal that everyone equally enjoyed eating.  The more we talked, the more we realized that we didn't have to follow some traditional ritual that most families followed.  We didn't have to have turkey on Thanksgiving.  The important factor was that we enjoyed each other's company and reflected on how blessed we were.  
 
From that moment on, we have celebrated our Thanksgiving dinners in a new way... a new family tradition that perfectly suited our growing Klein family: eating at Weber's Restaurant in Ann Arbor, MI.  This way, no one has to prepare a grand feast.  We aren't traveling across the state spending countless hours on the road.  We all get to eat food we enjoy.  Riley, my daughter, enjoys the Thanksgiving feast along with my husband.  Jacob, my son, dives into his favorite meal - a fresh fruit plate... and I sink my teeth into a delicious, tender Filet.  Yum!  Most importantly, we gather around this small table and create memories that will last a lifetime with the ones we love the most in life.  
 
This non-traditional way of celebrating such an important holiday has become a treasured and meaningful tradition to our family.
Guest-Bloggers Fri, 05 Jul 2013 00:19:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/summer-series-erin-klein
Book Review-How We Love Our Kids http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/book-review-how-we-love-our-kids

Book-Reviews Wed, 03 Jul 2013 00:14:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/book-review-how-we-love-our-kids
Happiness Project July http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/happiness-project-july
As a part of my Happiness Project, I choose something new to focus on in my life each month. 
 
July: Exercise Challenge

I love being challenged. The 30-Day Green Smoothie Challenge back in April was a learning experience for me and has me drinking fiber filled smoothies about 4 times a week now (when I make a smoothie, I still make it in a large batch so the entire family can enjoy the health benefits!) After dinner with friends last night, I was inspired to try a 30-Day Arm Challenge. Considering my mid-section is expanding at a rapid pace with baby #3 on the way, focusing on my arms sounds doable! Looking at the end of the month, this challenge gets really hard!

 

 
June: 35 of My Favorite Things

Follow-Up: I listed 35 things (in honor of my 35th birthday in May) that make me happy to complete in June. Here's the list. I did almost everything. Sitting in the sun and doing nothing did not get crossed off my list. I've come to realize that as a working from home, mother of two, sitting in the sun and doing nothing is unrealistic. I like to be busy and this was the old me who loved laying out in the sun. Now, if I am sitting in the sun, it makes me happy to be reading for enjoyment or work---to be productive.

 
May: Pursue My Hobby

Follow-Up: I completed a four week class from Jessica Sprague called Portraiture 101. I also watched one-hour of an online workshop but it wasn't speaking to me so I didn't watch the entire clip over at Creative Live. It felt really good to be challenged behind the lens and to capture our everyday moments with my fancy Nikon and not just my iPhone! We had a journaling assignment where we created an artist statement. I also got a fun camera bag for my birthday!

 


April: Going Green

Follow-Up: Our family had a green smoothie every single day this month except for one! It was one day in Florida and I couldn't find a restaurant on the run to make me a green drink. 29/30 days, not bad. Will we keep it up? Sure! Everyday? I don't think that's necessary. Here's what I found out: Prepping ahead of time and making up your smoothies in bags in the freezer saves you a ton of time. The recipes make enough for our entire family and sometimes we have an 8oz drink left over. I keep this in the fridge and it is good for up to 24 hours. My blender is not the quality blender to be using for making smoothies every day but I am not ready to spend close to $500 for a Vitamix. I will put up with our current blender until it gives out on us!

 

These were my favorite recipes from Simple Green Smoothies:

 

CILANTRO LIMEMADE
— serves 2 —
1 ½ cups spinach, fresh
½ cup cilantro, fresh
2 cups water
3 bananas
1 lime, peeled 
1 inch ginger, fresh

 

BERRY PROTEIN BASH 
2 cups spinach, fresh
2 cups almond milk, unsweetened
1 cups strawberries
1 cup blueberries, frozen
1 banana
1/2 cup almonds*
*soak overnight in water before blending

 

Peach Coconut Dream

2 cups spinach, fresh

1 cup coconut water
2 cups Grapes, freeze overnight
1 peach

You can find out more about this Simple Green Smoothie Challenge here.

 

 

March: Work 

Follow-up This month I wanted to grow in a few areas in regards to work.

1. Read Pinterest Savvy by Melissa Taylor and create five things I learned from the book that I am going to put to use. These are the five things I learned about: Verify my website (check), comment on pins (I haven't done this yet), pin my videos (check), create a board and invite others to pin on it (check), after you follow someone new pin some of their stuff (check).

2.Google+ -I am on it, my profile is set, I've joined communities and circles but I am not sold on this platform yet.

3. Sponsorships-A HUGE thank you to my web girl and my graphic designer for helping me to get the advertisement up and running!

4. Thank you to my intern Karelyn for your support in our super successful Twitter Party! We had over thirty people join in the conversation. There were women from Hawaii, India and Singapore! We also had almost 200 entries for our Kindle Giveaway on Pinterest. It was a great month of new marketing adventures.

 
February: Clean Up & Clear Out

Follow-up This month I wanted to clean or organize something every day of the month. I also wanted to tackle a task that I had been thinking about for a very long time.

1. The clean up was good! I liked having a small task each day. I got a bit behind when we took our family trip.

2. I wrote the letters. Letters to my loved ones in case anything unexpected were to ever happen. Creepy, yes. Something I've always wanted to do though.

 

January: Learn

Follow-up This month I wanted to learn something new. I committed to doing this in three ways.

1. Learn to load the dishwasher. Check. It still doesn't look professional but with all the plastic servingware I am getting in there, I am not sure that's possible. Thanks to my pal Erica, I am able to fit more into my dishwasher with some organization!

2. UPDATE: April--this is a hard goal for me!!!! Learn about the instrument I play. Play the piano twice a week. My phone reminder was fun. Every Wednesday and Sunday morning it reminded me to play the piano. I wasn't always able to stop what I was doing to practice. I will continue to work on this goal! 

3. Learn to share my love. I participated in the Happier at Home 21 Day Relationship Challenge. I signed up for this challenge to learn some new, creative ways to show my appreciation to those I love in my life. I don't see my home lacking in love but why not learn more about vulnerability and authenticity? My favorite things I learned: Don't keep score, create a threshold ritual, and kiss in the morning and at night. 

 

One Little Word:

I have followed Ali Edwards project "One Little Word" for two years now. My word for 2011 was Peace and my word for 2012 was Balance. I've never taken her class but I have incorporated my word into my monthly goals/wishes/resolutions. Here's how to come up with a word (from Ali). My word for 2013 is Grace.

 

Can you identify a single word that sums up what you want for yourself in 2013?

It can be something tangible or intangible. It can be a thought, a feeling, or an emotion. It can be singular or plural. The key is to find something that has personal meaning for you. This is not your mother's word or your spouse's word or your child's word—this is YOUR word.

One little word can have big meaning in your life if you allow yourself to be open to the possibilities. And here's one thing that is totally interesting: sometimes a word will pop into your brain and it will not make any sense to you right now. Give it some time. Let it percolate a bit. I have often found that our heart speaks to us in very unique ways. Maybe this is a word you need to hear but just aren't ready for it yet.

Again, be open to the possibilities.

- See more at: http://www.mariadismondy.com/2014/5/happiness-project-update/#sthash.WtqWJpB0.dpuf

- See more at: http://www.mariadismondy.com/2013/6/1/happiness-project-june/#sthash.piDeKdV8.dpuf

Health-and-Wellness Mon, 01 Jul 2013 00:10:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/7/happiness-project-july
Summer Entertaining for Kids http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/summer-entertaining

Summer comes and goes way too quickly here in Michigan. My daughter asked me today if summer was over now (sweet thing, it just officially began on Friday!)

 

On my mission to live life to the fullest (even while pregnant and tired), I have been having friends over for parties. I wanted to put it on the blog because it's been a ton of fun and it's pretty simple to pull together.

 

The menu:

Chicken salad with croissants for the mamas

Mixed salad for the mamas

PB & J sandwiches for the kids

Ham & Turkey roll-ups for the kids

Yogurt tubes (keep them frozen and they are a perfect treat in the summer heat)

Fruit

Juice Boxes

Dessert

Pop, water and lemonade for the mamas

*Goldfish in baggies (my friend gave me this idea) for snacks. Less mess and easier to dish out because they are already seperated.

 

The fun:

sprinklers

swimming 

watercolor painting-I hang large sheets of white paper on our fence and let the kids have at it!

pudding painting-similar to above because I hang the large white paper then make several colors of jello for the kids to use to paint with. They ended up getting crazy and painting themselves! It was so much fun!

bubbles

sidewalk chalk

outdoor toys

books and a picnic blanket

sandbox

shower caps, shaving cream and cheese puffs (these are for my next gathering) See the idea here at Pinterest.

 

The favors:

Thank you Pinterest!

Orange bags 

orange summer cups (I love a good summer cup for drinking ice cold water)

popsicles

sand toys

bubbles

summer coloring pages

(everything from the dollar store)

 

Ready? Now get out there and start making some memories with your children that will last a lifetime! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family-Fun Crafts-with-Kids Fri, 28 Jun 2013 00:11:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/summer-entertaining
Summer Series: Leslie Bosscher http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/summer-series-leslie-dishes


Welcome Leslie from the blog Leslie Dishes. I am thrilled you are writing for Be The Difference again!

 

The Unintentionally Cherished Tradition

Written by: Leslie Bosscher

 

1995: My new crush and I were doing that absurd thing that newly, in-love couples do where we’d discuss baby names and what we wanted to be when we grew up. We talked about our own childhoods and what aspects of them we’d want to replicate for our children. Nauseating, I know.  He kept mentioning camp. What’s this ‘camp’ business that he keeps talking about? When I was young, there was a camp near my house that only interested me because a girl had gotten kidnapped from there and my mother used that excuse to not send me. Now, I realize that we simply weren’t over privileged “summer camp” people, so my mom had the convenient justification of not allowing me to attend, as to not get kidnapped. It was a fine arrangement because I was an indoorsy-girl and had little need for wilderness or crafts. So, why is this brilliantly handsome guy droning on and on and on about summer camp? Ew. I said to him in my most college-student, indignant tone, “If you think I would send our kids to summer camp, you’re nuts. That’s for parents who don’t love their children and don’t want to spend time with them.” He just stared at me with that look….pity perhaps? And I immediately categorized his parents as negligent and cold.

 

2002: I’m looking into the most beautiful face I’d ever seen in my entire life. It was the face of my first born son and I would immediately become so protective and territorial over him that it bordered on smothering. My husband (the campy dude) would talk to him every night, “….and we will go to Tiger’s games and I will teach you about the magic of Pink Floyd and we will go fishing on grandpa’s lake and in the summers you can go to Camp Manitou-Lin…”   Er—back it up, Daniel Boon. My baby is never going to camp.  I said, ‘camp’ like you’d say, ‘lice.’

 

2004: I finally visited this Camp Manitou-Lin that everyone’s been talking about.  It was my husband’s grandfather’s 90th birthday and a party was held in his honor because as a boy, he himself was a camper there, then a counselor, then a board member. Camp Manitou-Lin was a place of great significance to my husband’s family and I was starting to feel like the odd man out for not getting into it.  So what? So great grandpa camped there and then so did grandpa and then so did daddy and all of his siblings, and?? As I toured the gorgeous lodge, the impressive porch and the calming lake, I saw our last name plastered all over the place. It was then that I began to feel pride in not only my name, but the history and tradition that went along with it.

 

2009: Great Grandpa Bosscher was near the end of his life. His nurses knew it and told us what to expect. They all mentioned that a person who’s close to dying would often talk about seeing someone from the other side, or they’d perhaps mumble incoherently as if they’re dreaming. During a visit with him during one of his last days on earth, he (very clearly, mind you) began singing camp songs and instructed everyone in the room to “…grab a corner.” It was obvious that he was referring to the tight hospital corners of his (cabin’s bunk) bed sheets. I didn’t catch the importance then, but what an awesome way to go out; participating in (albeit, only in his mind) the very things you loved doing the most. At his funeral a few days later, his grandchildren sang his favorite camp songs.

 

2011: That baby boy is now 9. His great grandfather set up a trust for all of his great grandchildren to attend at least one session of overnight camp at Camp Manitou-Lin. My son was apprehensive to leave us for a week. I was a basket case. Leaving him there was torture (on me). Who will tuck him in? What if he can’t sleep? What if he doesn’t like what’s served for dinner? What if the cabins aren’t air conditioned? What if he goes to bed with dirty feet? What if he sneaks out to go meet his girlfriend on the other side of camp? Oh wait, that was his father…   I worried, I prayed, I worried some more. But on day 7, when it was time to go get our boy, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I ran, literally ran to find his group so I could rescue him from the concentr—summer camp. I spotted him and waved like a maniac, he spotted me and walked away.  Oh, maybe he didn’t see me. “Ben!! Benny?? Hi honey!!”  He turned around and   gave me the do-not-embarrass-me-face that every parent knows. When your highness finally decided to grace us with his presence, he said casually, “Can I stay another week?”  Of course, this comment was like a knife to my uterus, but his father’s chest was heaving with pride when he looked at me and said, “Told ya.” Grrrr, as much as I hate when he’s right, I absolutely love the fact that history is repeating itself and my kids are a part of the Bosscher tradition. I know Grandpa Bosscher was shining down on his 7 great grandchildren who all attended camp that same week. They now talk about the same songs, games and camp traditions that I’ve been hearing my husband and his siblings talk about for the past (nearly) two decades.

 

Also noteworthy: My husband takes our boys to “Family Camp” at Camp Manitou-Lin every single summer. I let them go be boys while I stay home and enjoy my one weekend of pure silence. Personally, this is my favorite tradition of all.

 

 

Guest-Bloggers Wed, 26 Jun 2013 00:46:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/summer-series-leslie-dishes
Michigan Charity Event http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/pigs-balloons-marlees

  

This week I am participating in a local charity event. I've teamed up with Marlee's by Tapper's to have a book event at their store. The store is a women's accessory store and is filled with adorable gifts galore! I will be there for an hour selling and signing books. The store has generously offered to supply pink tiara cookies and potato chips for the guests. 

 

When Marlee's approached me about this event, they told me it was up to me to choose the charity that we would be donating proceeds from the event to. I had just recently heard about Pigs and Balloons. They are a local Michigan Non-Profit dedicated to throwing birthday parties to children whose parents have passed away. Be sure to click on the "About" section on their website to read about how they came up with the name Pigs and Balloons for their organization!

 

If you are local here in Michigan, I hope you will join us this Thursday for the event. 20% of all book and store purchases will go to Pigs and Balloons! 

 

 

Author-Adventures Mon, 24 Jun 2013 00:52:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/pigs-balloons-marlees
Music That Makes A Difference http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/music-that-makes-a-difference

Earlier this week I wrote an article about how music actually increases language development in children for Beaumont's Parenting Blog. I made suggestions for fun children's music to pull together for your family on a cd to listen to in the car. I'm talking about children's music that isn't stuck in your head all day, driving you up a wall hearing the cows mooing and chickens clucking! As a teacher, I played music first thing in the morning in my classroom. It's how we started and ended our day. It really added a happy energy to our environment.

 

I've been thinking about tv commercials and how researchers say that certain commercials are made to make us hungry and make us want to buy their food products. Kind of like subliminal messages! What about music? We rock out to kids tunes in the car but I also like to listen to Top 40 with my girls. You have to be so careful. As much as you hope that the messages in pop music will go over our children's heads (enter childhood memory of my sister and I singing "Like A Virgin" at the top of our lungs driving in my dad's convertible at the young ages of 5 and 8. We had no clue what we were singing about) does it?

 

Here's a compromise for all of you out there who can't bear to drive around listening to songs about cats and dogs and would prefer pop music. How about 10 songs from the radio that can inspire and give your child some great character building messages? Songs that, once they figure out what the words mean, they will matter to them! 

 

After my list of each song, I've included a few lines from the song that really speak to me! Enjoy and feel free to comment with additional songs to add to this list.

 

**Disclaimer** I do not think these links to music videos are all appropriate to show to children but I've added them for adults to hear the songs. 

 

1. Brave by Sara Bareilles

Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
And they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

2. Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is, where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

 

3. Perfect by Pink


Pretty, pretty please
Don't you ever, ever feel
Like your less than, less than perfect.

4. Born This Way by Lady Gaga

 

There's nothin' wrong with lovin' who you are
She said, "cause He made you perfect, babe
So hold your head up girl and you'll go far, 
Listen to me when I say

I'm beautiful in my way
'Cause God makes no mistakes
I'm on the right track baby
I was born this way
 

5. Home by Phillip Phillips

Hold on, to me as we go

As we roll down this unfamiliar road

And although this wave is stringing us along

Just know you’re not alone

And although this wave is stringing us along

Just know you’re not alone

6. What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction

Being the way that you are is enough
Everyone else in the room can see it
Everyone else but you

 

7.Firework by Katy Perry

You don't have to feel like a waste of space
You're original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow

 

8. Beautiful by Christina Aguerlla

I am beautiful no matter what they say.

Words can't bring me down.

I am beautiful in every single way.

 

9. We're All in This Together by High School Musical

Everyone is special in their own way
We make each other strong (we make each other strong)
Were not the same 
Were different in a good way
Together's where we belong

 

10. Mean by Taylor Swift

You, have pointed out my flaws again as if I don't already see them. I'll walk with my head down trying to block you out 'cause I'll never           impress you. I just wanna feel okay again. I'll bet you got pushed around, somebody made you cold. But the cycle ends right now 'cause you can't lead me down that road. And you don't know what you don't know.

 

**I don't like how Taylor uses words to "name call " in her song at one point. I agree with freedom of speech but that one part in the song is not my favorite!

 

 

 

Family-Fun Character-Traits Fri, 21 Jun 2013 00:08:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/music-that-makes-a-difference
Summer Series: Funny Sarah http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/summer-series-funny-sarah

Sid's Resort: A Family Tradition

To many, it’s a secret of sorts.  Having lived lots of different places, I realize many people don’t even know of its beauty.  But, if you drive up Michigan’s US-23, you’ll find hundreds of locally owned cottages for rent along the gorgeous shores of Great Lake Huron.  Born and raised on the east side of Michigan, it’s a long standing tradition in my family that we spend a week at Sid’s Resort, just north of Oscoda, Michigan.

 

My mom’s family made it their summer vacation spot when she was a child, and my parent’s started taking my sister and I there when we were babies.  Now, with a 7 and 9 year old of my own, the tradition continues as we get ready to head to Sid’s in just two weeks.

 

I read somewhere, a while back, that children’s memories are often best remembered when it involves the experience of camping and/or time spent at a cottage.  I really believe that’s true, as I recall so many parts of my life and childhood reflected in the lazy days we spent each summer at Sid’s Resort.  It wasn’t the fanciest vacation, but that didn’t matter.  It was surely the highlight of our summers.

 

I remember…

*Searching for fire wood and mom’s guitar at the campfire.

*Taco dinners, cheez whiz and donuts from the bakery.

*Organizing my bedroom and the excitement of putting my clothes in the drawers.

*Baths in the lake, trying not to drop my slippery bar of soap.

*Having a crush on the boy in the cottage nearby.

*Listening to Belinda Carlisle’s “Mad About You” over and over on my ghetto blaster on the dock. 

*Watching a thunderstorm roll in over the lake.

*Wishing the week would never end, because that meant I had nothing else to look forward to that summer.

 

Sid’s is simple.  A cottage with basic cable, well water, and old wooden furniture. Wooden swings outside and a badmitten net.  A game room where all the kids would go in the evenings, to create their world away from the grown-ups. 

 

But what it really was, and what it remains is…the time with the family.  The accessibility of all the people you love the most all there without interruption.  The waking up with nothing to do but lie on the beach in front of you.  The time with family friends who would rent cottages nearby.  The simple joy of reading a book in the sun.  Happy hours at 4 p.m. and dinners grilled out on the beach.

 

We’re headed back to Sid’s in just a couple of weeks.  The cottages haven’t changed too much, and frankly, they’re pretty worn out.  But, the kids still look forward to the trip every year.  It’s an important part of their summer, just as it was for me when I was little.    They are busy saving quarters for the game room, and we have some great friends coming to visit for part of the week, just like the old days.  My family will all be there, and give my kids the laughs and attention they love for one whole week.  We’ll play cards and share stories and laugh until our stomach’s hurt.  And I’ll leave grateful that I had one more year at good ole Sid’s with a healthy, happy family. 

 

It’s a tradition that is such an important part of our family history, and we will always remember the moments spent there.

 

 

Sarah Cavanaugh is a comedian, public speaker, and improvisational comedy corporate facilitator.  For daily rants, sillies and observations on motherhood, you can follow her at www.FunnySarah.com or on Facebook here!

Guest-Bloggers Wed, 19 Jun 2013 00:49:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/summer-series-funny-sarah
Tell Me A Story http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/tell-me-a-story

Mama, Can you tell me a story?

 

I hear this all the time around our house, in the car, on bike rides, anywhere and anytime. It didn't really phase me as being unusual until a few weeks ago when my friend was with my daughter for an extended amount of time and she mentioned all the stories my daughter requested during their time together. Looking back, I have my friend Meg and Nana to thank for all our story telling going on around here. Meg can come up with the most creative tales and Nana can retell any Disney story verbatim! I think they got the ball rolling and now we've got Grandma, babysitters, Mama, Papa and others telling her stories!

 

I love that stories are entertaining to my girl. Storytelling is a wonderful way for children to develop an imagination and to begin visualizing (creating mental images) stories that will later support them greatly as they read chapter books.

 

I recently came across this blog post on Pinterest with super suggestions on fostering creative storytelling and play. Check it out and start telling stories. The possibilities are endless!

 

Disclaimer: My stories are by any means NOT children's book worthy! They come to me on the fly and I try to play off of what my girls likes and dislikes are. Today I told a story about Wigglesticks-the Fairy who gathered sticks for her bird friends to help them build their nests. There was a problem, series of events and it ended with a solution. Later in the day, I overhead my four-year-old telling her sister a story about Wigglesticks. Point made. Storytelling is grand!

 

 

Literacy Mon, 17 Jun 2013 00:10:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/tell-me-a-story
Friday Inspiration http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/friday-inspiration

Health-and-Wellness Fri, 14 Jun 2013 00:35:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/friday-inspiration
Summer Series: Barbara Gruener http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/summer-series-barbara-gruener

 

This Thankful Tradition by Barbara Gruener

 

Hello from Barbara at the Corner on Character! Thank you, Maria, for this fun opportunity to share our family traditions. Our Gruener gang has generated quite a few over the past twenty years, but our family favorite has got to be our annual Thanksgiving Trek to the Texas Hill Country.

 

 

It started before our youngest son, Joshua, now fourteen and about to be a freshman in high school, was even born. It’s not that I didn’t want to prepare a turkey and all of its fixins, but with a whole week off from school and my extended family in Wisconsin, so very far away, it just seemed like a good time to travel. When the kids were younger, I even went out to buy them matching PJs for the trip each year.

 

 

So that first year, 1998, we headed to Kerrville and Fredericksburg. I was expecting Joshua and remember it vividly because we hiked so much that day that I swelled up and we had to cut my wedding ring off. Anyway, the very next year, we found our Thanksgiving retreat home away from home. I’ll never forget bathing the baby in the kitchenette sink. Built on the banks of the Comal River, The Other Place in New Braunfels is perfect for swimming, fishing, tubing, picking up pecans and just plain relaxing.

 

 

It’s centrally located in the Texas Hill Country for some fun day trips hiking in places like Enchanted Rock State Park, Pedernales State Park, and Landa Park. Just look at how much fun we’re having! These places have actually been the backdrop for our Christmas card a couple of times.

 

 

In addition to spending time together in the great outdoors, this annual trek to God’s Country includes lots of family game time, a movie night out, running in the Turkey Trot in Gruene,, a Thanksgiving Buffet somewhere, Dollar Bowling on Thanksgiving night, the Christmas tree lighting in Wimberly, Boerne or Gruene, and some antique and holiday shopping.

 

 

Our much-anticipated Thanksgiving trip typically lasts from the Tuesday or

 

Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving until Saturday afternoon, when we pack up our memories and head back into Houston.

 

What are your favorite family traditions?

 

 

 Thank you Barbara for starting the Summer Series off! You continue to be an inspiration to me, not only as a professional making a difference in the world, but as a mother of three! :) Maria

Guest-Bloggers Wed, 12 Jun 2013 00:15:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/summer-series-barbara-gruener
December 25, 2013 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/pregnancy-announcement


On December 25th, 2013 we will be introducing a new member to our family! Baby Dismondy #3 to make us a family of five! Here's the announcement I used to share with family and friends (thank you Pinterest for the creative idea). We are excited about this new adventure.

 

I will also be releasing my newest children's book around the same time! A baby board book that is currently being illustrated and complete production by the end of the year. I am excited to share my message with families of very young children!

 

 

Author-Adventures Family-Fun Tue, 11 Jun 2013 00:06:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/pregnancy-announcement
Father's Day http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/fathers-day

To find out who the winner of the Stella & Dot Jewelry giveway is, click here.

 

Being only a week away, I thought I would share what we are doing for Father's Day this year!

 

Last year I started the tradition of a Father's Day interview. My husband has a file of artwork and projects from the girls at work that he goes through from time to time. Here's the printable/interview we are using to give him this year! I love the hilarious answers my four-year-old comes up with!

 

We also made Dave these customized beer bottle labels. I ordered labels for my dad too. For my dad, I used a picture of him from our trip to Mexico and labeled it #1 Nanu. Combined with their favorite six pack, I think both the special men in our lives with enjoy this unique gift!

 

Finally, thanks to my friend Carly and her idea, I let the girls play dress-up in Dave's clothes as I snapped a few pictures. The pictures were priceless! Shutterfly was offering a free card so I added the pictures and Voila! Happy Father's Day!

Holidays Mon, 10 Jun 2013 00:25:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/fathers-day
A Healthy Popsicle Alternative http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/popsicle-alternative

I am sadly aware that I can't shelter my children from all the dangers of the world. However, I have made it my mission to do my best in our home to provide a healthy household. A few weeks ago I asked a friend if she knew of a brand of popsicles that didn't have artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup and other additives. After plenty of reading on cooking and family websites, I couldn't find a brand that health nuts rave about. You see, I just want an easier solution to a healthy summer treat!

 

Anyhow, my friend reminded me that pouring my green smoothies into molds will make healthy popsicles. I have done this in the past but the smoothies melt super fast and the molds make them very messy.

 

Another friend suggested Zipsicles. Bingo! In a baggie like a popsicle but YOU fill it with whatever mixture you desire. Pouring my green smoothies would be ideal but another alternative is to use healthy juices, such as these by Naked Juice, for the pouches.  We made several batches yesterday. I can't wait to see how they taste and go over with the girls.

 

Something else we've done in past summers is put yogurt pouches in the freezer for a snack on a hot summer day. Do you have any suggestions to healthy summer snacks?

Family-Fun Health-and-Wellness Fri, 07 Jun 2013 00:00:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/popsicle-alternative
Becoming a Rhyme Master http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/rhyming-and-kids

 


Over the summer months, I will be doing a series on Wednesdays that welcomes guest writers to share stories of family traditions. In addition, from time to time, I will share other writers and their work with you. Today Kathryn talks about the importance of Rhyme. Teaching children to hear and produce rhyming words at an early age will strengthen their literacy skills. Find out more below!

 

Guest Post-Becoming a Rhyme Master

by Kathryn Starke

 

Parents and teachers are always reciting nursery rhymes, singing songs, and reading Dr. Seuss stories with our young children. After all of this preparation, why do our second-fifth graders have such difficulty with rhyme? Children have heard the term rhyme a thousand times but when asked to locate a rhyme pair in a sentence or phrase their answers are often  opposites like “up and down” or  same initial consonants like “soap and sock.” It is evident that children learn many concepts, but we have to teach them to fully understand the purpose of each of them; an important one in early literacy is to teach our young children how to become a “rhyme master.” 

 

Continue to chant those nursery rhymes, sing classic songs like “Down by the Bay” or “This Old Man,” and read any story with a lot of rhyme. Talk to them about rhyme and have them listen for the words that “sound the exact same at the end.” Read together but have them supply the missing rhyming word. An example would be Little Miss Muffet sat on a _________ or Little Jack Horner sat in the _________________.  Another more active idea is to throw a ball back and forth while adding a rhyming word. For example, round one would be any words that rhyme with pen. One person would state a word that rhymes then toss the ball; the second person does the same thing. This continues until no more words can be added then round two with a new word begins. 

 

Children who have a solid foundation of rhyme and ending sounds will be able to read earlier since they will have a bank of word families (ex:-at, -ing,-op) locked in their brains. We use word families in kindergarten, first, and second grade as we teach decoding and phonics as one aspect of reading. Understanding rhyme is a great indicator of an early reader!

 

Kathryn Starke

Literacy Specialist/Children's Author/Keynote Speaker

Follow Kathryn...

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Pinterest

 

Literacy Guest-Bloggers Wed, 05 Jun 2013 00:16:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/rhyming-and-kids
Stella & Dot Sponsor & A Giveaway! http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/stella-dot-sponsor

As we celebrate June 2013, the half way marker of the year, I am excited to announce an awesome giveaway!

 

My friend Kristen Makins is a consultant for an amazing jewelry company, Stella & Dot. About a year ago, I hosted a party with Kristen. We had a blast. A "Girls Night In" with appetizers, drinks, fine jewelry and good company. I've made a collage of some of the products I own and love!

 

Kristen is giving away this beautiful necklace! You have one week to enter to win. It's quite simple, follow the directions below in the contest generator. You can follow Kristen on Twitter, share the blurb below on Facebook or pin the contest image! 

 

Cut and paste the blurb below onto your Facebook Page. Add this image to make the post more attractive!

 


Check out these fabulous accessories from Stella & Dot at www.stelladot.com/sites/KristenMMakins. Need help styling your look for an event, vacation, gift, or just every day...Contact Kristen Makins on facebook at Kristen Burke Makins or at krismakins@gmail.com as your personal stylist. Love it all.... then host a party. The average hostess earns $250+ in product credit and can shop additional items at 50% off. It's an easy, fun pop-up shop and a great way to take a night off and catch up with friends.

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 *This is a paid sponsor post. However, all opinions are the bloggers own.

Giveaways Mon, 03 Jun 2013 00:59:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/stella-dot-sponsor
My Happiness Project: June http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/1/happiness-project-june
As a part of my Happiness Project, I choose something new to focus on in my life each month. You can see my 2012 Happiness Project here.

 

June: 35 of My Favorite Things

Last night I was reading Gretchin Rubin's blog The Happiness Project. She says to ask yourself, What Makes You Happy? I thought in lieu of my 35th birthday (which feels like some sort of a milestone) I would do 35 things in June that make me happy! After thinking about this, I realized that often times making others happy is what brings a smile to my face. Here goes...

1. Go out to the movies

2. Dinner at The Sushi House

3. Write someone a letter of gratitude

4. Complete a Random Act of Kindness

5. Take a nap with my girls

6. Play scrabble with Dave

7. Go to Dairy Queen for a Blizzard

8. Ask my mom to tell me a story about when I was a little girl

9. Church with the family

10. Do a photoshoot for a friend

11. Work on my digital scrapbook

12. Read a book

13. Sit outside in the sun and do nothing

14. Send my Grandma a care package

15. Take a boat ride

16. Go on a bike ride with the girls

17. Clean out the kids toys

18. Decorate our youngest's new bedroom

19. Send pictures to a family member

20. Snuggle under my grandma's blanket on the couch

21. Dinner with my friends

22. Look through old pictures

23. Write in my diary

24. Breakfast at Miss Cindy's

25. Get a manicure

26. Play Old Maid with my daughter

27. Drink a McDonald's unsweetened Ice Tea

28. Use my Molly Maid Gift Certificate

29. Spend an evening on Pinterest

30. Get a Michigan Cherry coffee from Biggby

31.Go to bed early and sleep in

32. Watch an old movie 

33. Make a fun Apple movie trailer

34. Switch purses

35. Take a walk after dinner with the family

 

 

 

May: Pursue My Hobby

Follow-Up: I completed a four week class from Jessica Sprague called Portraiture 101. I also watched one-hour of an online workshop but it wasn't speaking to me so I didn't watch the entire clip over at Creative Live. It felt really good to be challenged behind the lens and to capture our everyday moments with my fancy Nikon and not just my iPhone! We had a journaling assignment where we created an artist statement. I also got a fun camera bag for my birthday!

 


April: Going Green

Follow-Up: Our family had a green smoothie every single day this month except for one! It was one day in Florida and I couldn't find a restaurant on the run to make me a green drink. 29/30 days, not bad. Will we keep it up? Sure! Everyday? I don't think that's necessary. Here's what I found out: Prepping ahead of time and making up your smoothies in bags in the freezer saves you a ton of time. The recipes make enough for our entire family and sometimes we have an 8oz drink left over. I keep this in the fridge and it is good for up to 24 hours. My blender is not the quality blender to be using for making smoothies every day but I am not ready to spend close to $500 for a Vitamix. I will put up with our current blender until it gives out on us!

 

These were my favorite recipes from Simple Green Smoothies:

 

 

CILANTRO LIMEMADE
— serves 2 —
1 ½ cups spinach, fresh
½ cup cilantro, fresh
2 cups water
3 bananas
1 lime, peeled 
1 inch ginger, fresh

 

BERRY PROTEIN BASH 
2 cups spinach, fresh
2 cups almond milk, unsweetened
1 cups strawberries
1 cup blueberries, frozen
1 banana
1/2 cup almonds*
*soak overnight in water before blending

 

Peach Coconut Dream

2 cups spinach, fresh

1 cup coconut water
2 cups Grapes, freeze overnight
1 peach

You can find out more about this Simple Green Smoothie Challenge here.

 

 

March: Work 

Follow-up This month I wanted to grow in a few areas in regards to work.

1. Read Pinterest Savvy by Melissa Taylor and create five things I learned from the book that I am going to put to use. These are the five things I learned about: Verify my website (check), comment on pins (I haven't done this yet), pin my videos (check), create a board and invite others to pin on it (check), after you follow someone new pin some of their stuff (check).

2.Google+ -I am on it, my profile is set, I've joined communities and circles but I am not sold on this platform yet.

3. Sponsorships-A HUGE thank you to my web girl and my graphic designer for helping me to get the advertisement up and running!

4. Thank you to my intern Karelyn for your support in our super successful Twitter Party! We had over thirty people join in the conversation. There were women from Hawaii, India and Singapore! We also had almost 200 entries for our Kindle Giveaway on Pinterest. It was a great month of new marketing adventures.

 
February: Clean Up & Clear Out

Follow-up This month I wanted to clean or organize something every day of the month. I also wanted to tackle a task that I had been thinking about for a very long time.

1. The clean up was good! I liked having a small task each day. I got a bit behind when we took our family trip.

2. I wrote the letters. Letters to my loved ones in case anything unexpected were to ever happen. Creepy, yes. Something I've always wanted to do though.

 

January: Learn

Follow-up This month I wanted to learn something new. I committed to doing this in three ways.

1. Learn to load the dishwasher. Check. It still doesn't look professional but with all the plastic servingware I am getting in there, I am not sure that's possible. Thanks to my pal Erica, I am able to fit more into my dishwasher with some organization!

2. UPDATE: April--this is a hard goal for me!!!! Learn about the instrument I play. Play the piano twice a week. My phone reminder was fun. Every Wednesday and Sunday morning it reminded me to play the piano. I wasn't always able to stop what I was doing to practice. I will continue to work on this goal! 

3. Learn to share my love. I participated in the Happier at Home 21 Day Relationship Challenge. I signed up for this challenge to learn some new, creative ways to show my appreciation to those I love in my life. I don't see my home lacking in love but why not learn more about vulnerability and authenticity? My favorite things I learned: Don't keep score, create a threshold ritual, and kiss in the morning and at night. 

 

One Little Word:

I have followed Ali Edwards project "One Little Word" for two years now. My word for 2011 was Peace and my word for 2012 was Balance. I've never taken her class but I have incorporated my word into my monthly goals/wishes/resolutions. Here's how to come up with a word (from Ali). My word for 2013 is Grace.

 

Can you identify a single word that sums up what you want for yourself in 2013?

It can be something tangible or intangible. It can be a thought, a feeling, or an emotion. It can be singular or plural. The key is to find something that has personal meaning for you. This is not your mother's word or your spouse's word or your child's word—this is YOUR word.

One little word can have big meaning in your life if you allow yourself to be open to the possibilities. And here's one thing that is totally interesting: sometimes a word will pop into your brain and it will not make any sense to you right now. Give it some time. Let it percolate a bit. I have often found that our heart speaks to us in very unique ways. Maybe this is a word you need to hear but just aren't ready for it yet.

Again, be open to the possibilities.

- See more at: http://www.mariadismondy.com/2014/5/happiness-project-update/#sthash.WtqWJpB0.dpuf

Author-Adventures Health-and-Wellness Sat, 01 Jun 2013 00:11:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/6/1/happiness-project-june
Pay it Forward-In May http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/pay-it-forward-in-may

It's not Thanksgiving. 

It's not even close to the December holidays where we practice the art of giving.

But today, as well as every other day of the year, it's a good day to be grateful. Even when it's not the holidays when we normally show gratitude and kindness. 

 

Today I am going to Pay it Forward. I am not sure how but my girls and I are going to get out there and do something nice for someone else, just because. As I pulled up to the house from the gym this morning, there was a swan gliding across the crystal clear water and I was reminded of the miracles that surround us. Of how beautiful life truly is.

 

A friend in my class this morning told me he was moving. It made me sad to think his positive energy would be missing each week but when I asked him if it was because of work, he told me it was to be with his two-year-old daugther. He said he missed her terribly and that he needed to be there with her (on the other side of the country.) He has been visiting her once a month, but it just wasn't enough. Then he asked me the name of this beautiful song I played as a cool down---Mausam by Nitin Sawhney I want to share that song with you today below.

 

It reminded me that people walk around day in and day out, suffering and struggling. Today I am taking the time to remember that there is heartache in the world and my role in all of it? To do my part in spreading love and kindness.

 

Glennon Doyle (from Momastrey) reminded me of her simple, yet not always easy to follow motto in a great post this morning, 1. Show Up 2. Be Brave 3. Be Kind and 4. Rest

 

Well said.

 

 

 

Health-and-Wellness Wed, 29 May 2013 00:04:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/pay-it-forward-in-may
Life Remembered in A Song http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/life-remembered-in-a-song

Clouds by Zach Soiech. I can't get this song out of my head. It has such a sweet tune. It was written by a young man dying of cancer as a way for his family to remember him. We downloaded it on itunes minutes after watching the video. The documentary about Zach's last days has gone viral. It's all over blogs, facebook and YouTube. Yet, here I am sharing it with you. It left such an impression on me that I can't help but share it with an even larger audience.

 

Zach lost his life this week at age 18. I won't say he lost his battle with cancer because he feels he has won. A production company put together a twenty-two minute video of his battle with cancer and how he turned it into savoring the beauty of life. 

 

I wish there were more people in the world like Zach and I can do something about that by being a person who makes other people smile.

 

 

Health-and-Wellness Fri, 24 May 2013 00:13:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/life-remembered-in-a-song
Teacher Appreciation http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/teacher-appreciation

Last week was the dance celebration for my daughter. She has three dance teachers and trying to be realistic, I wanted to think of a way to show them our appreciation while at the same time not breaking the bank. I want to set a precedent for when we start of school and have teachers, teachers with interns, tennis instructors, sunday school teachers,  dance teachers, etc. Trying to find a balance between showing we care and keeping to my budget!

 

We settled for homemade cards, Pinterest inspired along with sugar cookies with tutus and ballet shoes on them!

 

 

 

 

Family-Fun Wed, 22 May 2013 00:28:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/teacher-appreciation
Reader Review and Choices http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/reader-review-choices

 

Every now and then I come across a really great review of my books. I am always happy to see that these bloggers are sharing my messages with their readers with no advertising fee from me and without even a review copy of one of my books. They do it simply because they were touched, moved and inspired by the messages I am trying to share with children. I love that! 

 

Here is one of those reviews.

 

I commented on the blog post and asked the blogger to email me so that I could send her children my newest book, The Potato Chip Champ.

She emailed me such a sincere message that it made me cry. 

 

Thank you Summer. Summer is the blogger over at Running Chatter. She writes beautiful messages on her experiences as a mother of three. Head over there and get inspired! I know I did!

 

As I read thorugh her blog last night, I came across the video, This Is Water. It is nine minutes long but worth it. It is a commencement speech given to graduates. It discusses the workplace, but as a mother, I believe it relates highly to our roll at home with our families. Enjoy!

 

Author-Adventures Mon, 20 May 2013 00:49:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/reader-review-choices
Homeschool Lessons Month #9 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/homeschool-lessons-month-nine

This week we are learning about the Letter Z and that will complete our nine months of homeschooling! 

It is bittersweet. I loved my time with my daughter and the growth I saw in her this year was nothing short of miraculous. Cheesy but I'm being super serious.

 

Here are some of our plans from the last few letters. Again, I used resources from Preschool Alphabet through out the year. I am very appreciative of the homeschoolers who have taken the time to share their resources for FREE with readers. So selfless!

 

Next year my four-year-old will go to preschool a few afternoons a week. When she is home with me, our focus will be on Character Traits. I will introduce them to her through children's literature and we will use art projects, crafts, cooking and along with some writing activities to solidify the concepts I am teaching. 

 

In the fall my youngest and I will be taking a Mom and Tot class once a week. I have lessons I used back when my oldest was two that I will go back to for my little one! I am excited about not having to recreate the lessons! 

 

Z week has been fun. We went to the zoo on Monday. We had an A-Z Treasure Hunt around the house and we sent this year of homeschooling out with a BANG!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literacy Family-Fun Fri, 17 May 2013 00:01:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/homeschool-lessons-month-nine
Sponsor-Lisa Leonard Designs http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/lisa-leonard-designs

Lisa Leonard Designs creates handcrafted jewelry that truly come from the heart. You can see a ton of love poured into each design!

 

I especially like reading Lisa's blog. She shares her knack for style and writes intimate stories about the love for her family. Read her blog here.

 

Here is the necklace I have that I really love. The You Are Necklace is on sale and comes with several sayings. Mine says grateful.

 

When I wear it, I often reach up and touch it through out the day. It reminds me to live in a way that shows my gratitude. It helps me to let go of the negativity that is unnessessary and simply takes up energy that I need to do great things in the lives of those around me. 

Health-and-Wellness Wed, 15 May 2013 00:10:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/lisa-leonard-designs
Summer Sanity http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/summer-sanity

Last week at our MOPS meeting, we had a wonderful speaker. She gave us the run down on what she got out of a book she read many, many years ago and how she used it to help plan her family's summer. She has four girls and her husband played on a Major League Baseball team. Therefore, she was on her own most of the summer. The book she read was called Sanity in The Summertime by Linda Dillow and Claudia Arp.

 

I walked away with a lot of excitement to prepare for our summer. Here's some of what I learned.

 

1. We don't want to merely entertain our children; we want to invest in them. Someone once told me to think of it this way, You only have about 18 summers with your children before they are out on their own. Make the time worth it!

 

2. Ask your children what THEY would like to do and write it down! Then ask them what they would like to LEARN over the summer. Of course some of the ideas might be unreasonable, but some will work. You give them a sense of pride in helping you plan the summer!

 

My four-year-old told me this is what she wants to do: jump in the lake, play soccer, go to a race (?) play a game with her cousins and play basketball. We can totally make this happen all in our backyard! When I asked her what she wanted to learn? She answered, all about zebras, how to feed an elephant, and how do flowers grow?

 

3. Plan your objectives. I am a planner and I love structure. This part makes such sense to me. Here were some of the speaker's examples: To develop a more personal relationship with my children, To help them express themselves better, to help my children develop a better self-image, to help my children develop responsibility, etc.

 

4. Ideas-Depending on your objective, now is the fun part. Plan your summer! Here were a few activities I liked and want to incorporate into our plans.

  • Children's Day. Plan one day every week that you and your kids do something together. With no other friends or parents. Just you and your kids. Ask them what they want to do!
  • "Tip of the Week" Think of manners or virtues you want to teach your children and post it weekly where you can see it to remind your children. For example, it could be "Greet our family members at the door when they come home" Focus on that for that week (and hopefully it will become part of the family routine.) I've listed manners for each week of the summer as our "Tip of the Week" to focus on.
  • An All About Me Book. Have your children complete a book that is all about them each summer and store these in a keepsake box. Search All About Me book on Pinterest and there are loads of free printables.
  • Make a travel notebook for each child. Each time you vacation somewhere, buy a postcard and glue it into the book. If your children are older, have them write about the trip!
  • Make a job chart or jar to teach respnsibility.
  • For families with several children, choose a child to be "first" at everything on a certain day of the week. It will help reduce the whines that sound like, "But, I WANNA go first!" all summer long!
  • Question Cards-to spark conversation at the dinner table or during the day. I purchased the family set on Amazon.
  • Crafts for Christmas gifts. The holiday season is soooooo busy, why not complete some of those homemade, cute holiday crafts during the SUMMER months! Love this idea!
  • Have a love affair with your husband. Don't forget about your hubby! Get a sitter and hit the town together!

In the past, I have written all our ideas on a large frame with dry erase markers like this example on Eighteen 25

The above Bingo printable, compliments of Delia Creates.

 

Family-Fun Mon, 13 May 2013 00:42:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/summer-sanity
Summer Camps http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/summer-camps

As school starts to wrap up and we near summer, I am sure you are starting to think about all of the great things to do with our children from June to September. 

 

Looking for something fun for your kids but at the same time intentionally builds confidence, social skills, self-esteem?  Looking to help your child deal with unfriendly friends and to bully proofing them?  Kids Empowered offers over 75 one week summer camps throughout Metro-Detroit!  With themes like A Girl's World or Boy's World of Friendship, American Girl & Friendship, Train your dragons for boys, Kid Power, Assertiveness Boot camp, Get Ready for Kindergarten and more!  Kids learn through role plays, crafts, games, and fitness activities.  Kids Empowered has put on over 500 weeks of camps for thousands of kids! 

 

Check out their schedule or call 248-757-0912.

 

I have recently teamed up with Kids Empowered on a powerful program. We are offering BOTH of our services and expertise at a discounted rate! Find out more about what we are doing below!

 

It Takes a Village to End Bullying!

Maria Dismondy, and founder of Girls and Boys Empowered, Kimber Bishop-Yanke, M.I.M, believe that schools and families need to  educated to put an end to bullying and unfriendly classmates. Together, they are teaming up in this collaborative program to deliver a       powerful anti-bullying message to both children, parents and staff in a way that really hits home. 

 

DETAILS FOUND HERE
Family-Fun Fri, 10 May 2013 00:25:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/summer-camps
Daughter's Day http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/daughters-day


Last year I read about a mom who started the tradition Daugther's Day with her girls. During the month of May, she chose a day to take them each out on a special date. I loved the idea of this tradition. Our baby was still so young last year that I don't remember if she was in on the tradition then but she was this year. My little one and I had a playdate at Tiny Town, a miniature town set up for children in a store. They have pretend play areas set up, a huge bubble machine, an indoor trampoline and more. I took her out to lunch afterwards and enjoyed our one-on-one time.

 

This week my oldest and I went to see a children's musical, The Little Mermaid Jr. She was so cute about picking out her outfit the night before, asking to wear her fancy necklace and to put lipstick on for our big date.

 


It was perfect timing that my MOPS group had a speaker last night on planning your family's summer events. I could write an entire post about the speaker and her ideas which were awesome (I probably will). But I wanted to share a great idea she had. She has four daughters. With four children, she found it hard to take them out individually on dates. Instead, once a week, a different child got to stay up late for special time with her parents. They would pop popcorn, play a game, and talk. She said bedtime was around 7:30 for everyone else. They did their nightly routines, read books all together then the child whose night it was stayed up an extra hour. What a great idea for getting to know each individual child and for making them feel special!

 

 

Holidays Family-Fun Wed, 08 May 2013 00:08:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/daughters-day
Carry On, Warrior-Book Review http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/carry-on-warrior-review

 

Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton was a quick read that kept me engaged page after page. Glennon is a popular blogger over at her site Momastery. She writes on life as mother of three from a very real, honest perspective. I haven't been a huge follower of her blog. But when her book continued to pop up in the suggested books area of my Amazon page, I saw it as a sign and bought myself a copy.

 

Carry On, Warrior is a book that shares the struggles Glennon has has as a mother and a recovering alcoholic. She will make you laugh and make you cry. I loved her writing style. I think it's a great book for moms to read to remind themselves that the job of being a mother is hard. But as women, we can do hard things. In the words of Glennon herself, Love Wins

My favorite quote from the book that is a quote from Maya Angelou

 

I did  then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better."

 

Book-Reviews Mon, 06 May 2013 00:36:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/carry-on-warrior-review
Homeschool Lessons Month #8 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/homeschool-lessons-month-eight

We have just a few weeks left of homeschool until summer comes along. 

Stay tuned for my post next month. It will show you the wrap up of our year long letter study. 

I will also share my plans for next year.

 

 

 

 

Literacy Family-Fun Fri, 03 May 2013 00:15:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/5/homeschool-lessons-month-eight
My Happiness Project Update http://mariadismondy.com/2014/5/happiness-project-update
As a part of my Happiness Project, I choose something new to focus on in my life each month. You can see my 2012 Happiness Project here.

 

May: Pursue My Hobby

I love photography. I have taken a few online courses and have participated in several online challenges. It motivates me to try new things and I see myself improve as an amateur. This month I am taking a four week class from Jessica Sprague called Portraiture 101. There are video lessons each week along with a forum and live chat with the instructor. It is a lot to take in but I love that I can do it during the day or at night, whatever times work for me. At the end of this month, I am joining a free online workshop on Creative Live called Newborn Posing with Kelly Brown. My friend Nikki is really active with the Creative Live group and Kelle Hampton mentioned it on her blog as well. I have been wanting to grow in this area and when I got an email in April saying that Candace Stringham (I also took her class Oh Shoot! which was an introductory course into the world of DSLRs) was teaching a course in May, I signed up immediately! 

 

April: Going Green

Follow-Up: Our family had a green smoothie every single day this month except for one! It was one day in Florida and I couldn't find a restaurant on the run to make me a green drink. 29/30 days, not bad. Will we keep it up? Sure! Everyday? I don't think that's necessary. Here's what I found out: Prepping ahead of time and making up your smoothies in bags in the freezer saves you a ton of time. The recipes make enough for our entire family and sometimes we have an 8oz drink left over. I keep this in the fridge and it is good for up to 24 hours. My blender is not the quality blender to be using for making smoothies every day but I am not ready to spend close to $500 for a Vitamix. I will put up with our current blender until it gives out on us!

 

These were my favorite recipes from Simple Green Smoothies:

 

 

CILANTRO LIMEMADE
— serves 2 —
1 ½ cups spinach, fresh
½ cup cilantro, fresh
2 cups water
3 bananas
1 lime, peeled
1 inch ginger, fresh

 

BERRY PROTEIN BASH
2 cups spinach, fresh
2 cups almond milk, unsweetened
1 cups strawberries
1 cup blueberries, frozen
1 banana
1/2 cup almonds*
*soak overnight in water before blending

 

Peach Coconut Dream

2 cups spinach, fresh

1 cup coconut water
2 cups Grapes, freeze overnight
1 peach

You can find out more about this Simple Green Smoothie Challenge here.

 

 

March: Work 

Follow-up This month I wanted to grow in a few areas in regards to work.

1. Read Pinterest Savvy by Melissa Taylor and create five things I learned from the book that I am going to put to use. These are the five things I learned about: Verify my website (check), comment on pins (I haven't done this yet), pin my videos (check), create a board and invite others to pin on it (check), after you follow someone new pin some of their stuff (check).

2.Google+ -I am on it, my profile is set, I've joined communities and circles but I am not sold on this platform yet.

3. Sponsorships-A HUGE thank you to my web girl and my graphic designer for helping me to get the advertisement up and running!

4. Thank you to my intern Karelyn for your support in our super successful Twitter Party! We had over thirty people join in the conversation. There were women from Hawaii, India and Singapore! We also had almost 200 entries for our Kindle Giveaway on Pinterest. It was a great month of new marketing adventures.

 
February: Clean Up & Clear Out

Follow-up This month I wanted to clean or organize something every day of the month. I also wanted to tackle a task that I had been thinking about for a very long time.

1. The clean up was good! I liked having a small task each day. I got a bit behind when we took our family trip.

2. I wrote the letters. Letters to my loved ones in case anything unexpected were to ever happen. Creepy, yes. Something I've always wanted to do though.

 

January: Learn

Follow-up This month I wanted to learn something new. I committed to doing this in three ways.

1. Learn to load the dishwasher. Check. It still doesn't look professional but with all the plastic servingware I am getting in there, I am not sure that's possible. Thanks to my pal Erica, I am able to fit more into my dishwasher with some organization!

2. UPDATE: April--this is a hard goal for me!!!! Learn about the instrument I play. Play the piano twice a week. My phone reminder was fun. Every Wednesday and Sunday morning it reminded me to play the piano. I wasn't always able to stop what I was doing to practice. I will continue to work on this goal! 

3. Learn to share my love. I participated in the Happier at Home 21 Day Relationship Challenge. I signed up for this challenge to learn some new, creative ways to show my appreciation to those I love in my life. I don't see my home lacking in love but why not learn more about vulnerability and authenticity? My favorite things I learned: Don't keep score, create a threshold ritual, and kiss in the morning and at night. 

 

One Little Word:

I have followed Ali Edwards project "One Little Word" for two years now. My word for 2011 was Peace and my word for 2012 was Balance. I've never taken her class but I have incorporated my word into my monthly goals/wishes/resolutions. Here's how to come up with a word (from Ali). My word for 2013 is Grace.

 

Can you identify a single word that sums up what you want for yourself in 2013?

It can be something tangible or intangible. It can be a thought, a feeling, or an emotion. It can be singular or plural. The key is to find something that has personal meaning for you. This is not your mother's word or your spouse's word or your child's word—this is YOUR word.

One little word can have big meaning in your life if you allow yourself to be open to the possibilities. And here's one thing that is totally interesting: sometimes a word will pop into your brain and it will not make any sense to you right now. Give it some time. Let it percolate a bit. I have often found that our heart speaks to us in very unique ways. Maybe this is a word you need to hear but just aren't ready for it yet.

Again, be open to the possibilities.

Health-and-Wellness Wed, 01 May 2013 00:42:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/5/happiness-project-update
Happy Camper Studio http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/happy-camper-studio

Happy Camper Studio is a blog sponsor this month. If you haven't noticed the big change on the blog, over to your right there are a few companies that I have advertising on my blog each month. I am very selective as to the company I have and I limit it to a very small number for prime exposure. If you are interested in advertising, find out more here!

 

I was introduced to Happy Camper Studio a few months ago on Enjoying the Small Things. I ordered my girls matching mermaid dresses for Christmas. They are really great quality and my four-year-old loves to twirl in hers. When the dresses arrived, they were packaged so nicely which is always a nice touch!

 

Head on over to Happy Camper Studio to see the products they offer. I have my eye on the new design, the Watermelon Dress!

 

P.S. The hairclips that my girls are wearing are from the following Etsy Shops:

 

Sweet July Shop

 

Felt Flower Clips (I can't find the shop information but here are a bunch of handmade felt clips!)

 

 

Author-Adventures Mon, 29 Apr 2013 00:20:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/happy-camper-studio
Molly Maid for Mother's Day! http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/molly-maid-giveaway

I recently read a comic where the mother is working with the human resources department on her paperwork for her new job, being a mother. She is irrate, "Only one vacation day a year?" HR responds, "Well, it's called Mother's Day but you actually still work that day." Isn't that the truth? Mother's Day is around the corner and what would us mamas like a break from? Fill in the blank. I can guess about 95% of us wouldn't be sad if someone took care of our house cleaning  for the day! It seems like a never ending task with children. I gave up complaining about it because the complaining wasn't cleaning for me! 

 

As our fabulous children and husbands are thinking about the perfect Mother's Day gift this year, how about asking for a gift certificate to have a Maid Service transform your home into a sparkly haven? The gift of time. Taking the time you would spend scrubbing toilets and having it for yourself this Mother's Day. Sounds dreamy, doesn't it?

 

I am thrilled to have partnered up with Molly Maid for a Mother's Day promotion. There are several ways for you to enter to win and many different prizes to win!

 

1. Visit Molly Maid on Facebook and enter to win:

  • Grand Prize $500 Molly Maid gift certificate, one hour massage from Massage Envy and $100 gift certificate to The Melting Pot.
  • Runner-Up Prizes-one of four one-hour massages from Massage Envy
  • First 200 entrants also receive a FREE Molly Maid microfiber cleaner.

 

 2. Enter to win below on my blog, Be the Difference for your chance to win a $100 gift certificate to Molly Maid.

 

Sweepstakes Rules: This giveaway will end May 10th, 2013 at 12 pm EST. A winner will be chosen randomly and will be emailed. The winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 P.S. Check out these super cute chore charts for kids on the Molly Maid website! 

Giveaways Holidays Fri, 26 Apr 2013 00:34:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/molly-maid-giveaway
Books That Teach Patience http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/books-that-teach-patience

This is the final post for my year long compilation of lessons and books on character traits. Please don't be sad it's ending because I've 

decided part of my homeschooling next year will be to focus on a certain character trait every two weeks. I am going to use children's literature as the main focus in my plans and will support the lessons with cooking, crafts and other educational actitivies. I will post it all here! 

 

 

Here are books that teach Patience:
1. The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss

 

2. Play With Me by Mary Hallets

 

3. The Pigeon Wants A Puppy by Mo Willems

 

4. Lucy's Secret by Mireille Levert

 

5. Llama, Llama, Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

 

6. Remy the Rhino Learns Patience by Andy McGuire

 

 

Book-Reviews Wed, 24 Apr 2013 00:55:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/books-that-teach-patience
Book Review-The Power of a Positive Mom http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/book-review-power-of-a-positive-mom

Before I begin my review and summary of The Power of a Positive Mom, I should say Happy Earth Day!

 

If you would like some ideas on ways to celebrate the day with your children, check out my board on Pinterest. I have Earth Day under Easter because they usually fall within the same month. 

 

The Power of A Positive Mom was a freebie left on our book table at MOPS. After reading it, I think I totally scored on getting this book for free! There are seven principles in the book that help create the portrait of a positive mom. Author Karol Ladd teaches readers each principle through stories and examples. This was my favorite part of the book, learning from another person and their experiences, not just reading a bunch of parenting jargon that sounds much easier to incorporate into daily life than it truly is. 

 

Here are the 7 Principles: Encouragement, Prayer, A Good Attitude, Strong Relationships, The Power of Your Example, Strong Moral Standards, and The Power of Love and Forgiveness.

 

This is one of those books that I will reread from start to finish. I have about 25 pages marked with inspriation.

Here are a few things I am taking away from the book. Most of the bullet points include quotes from the book so I've noted them with page numbers.

 

 

 

  • Be on the lookout for what your kids are doing right instead of constantly finding something to correct.(p. 41)
  • Offer opportunities for growth-this is something I struggle with. I feel pressure to get my girls into every extracurricular activity then I vow I am not going to be THAT mom that drives her kids around all day from one thing to the next. But then I think about how they will be exposed to a variety of different sports and interests. Thank you Karol for this section. It's clear to me now. Your children can try a variety of things--sports, dance, art, music, etc. in your own home. As you see a particular interest emerge through play at home, then look for a class or team where your child can develop that skill or talent further. Does it have to be at age 4? No. There is no rush. Karol gave several examples of Olympic athletes that started their sport during adolescence or later.(p. 57)
  • Family goal setting-talk with your children (school aged) about goal setting during the New Year. Help your child plan goals and talk to them about strategies they could use to help them reach those goals.(p. 60)
  • Create a God Box for the family. Write worries on a piece of paper, place them in the box. Do not waste anymore time or energy on worrying. (p.100)
  • Contentment (p. 122) Contentment comes from the heart; it is not dependent on material things. Contentment is the opposite of self-pity. This chapter spoke of women who have relatively little challenges in their lives but grumble every step of the way--making life miserable for themselves and for everyone around them. Why do we complain? Karol Ladd went on to explain the typical women's pity party. Complaining about their kids, their husbands, the laundry, etc. She went on to discuss "Checking our focus" Remember it is not the situation but the reaction to the situation that matters most. Great chapter!
  • On the topic of having a good attitude, the question is not "What are you going through?" but "What is your perspective and attitude in the process?" (p. 122)
  • Speaking of husband-wife relationships, we must recognize that a positive husband-wife team has an invaluable impact on the family. Work to keep the flame alive in your marriage. (p. 156)
  • As mothers we lead by example. The lessons we deliver to our children verbally may be wise and good, but lasting lessons are caught, not taught. It is rather sobering to realize that all the "right stuff" that comes our of our mouths can be made null and void if our kids do not see good character wualities lived our in our day-to-day lives. (p. 187) 
  • Traditions-this is something my friends and I talk about all the time. The author suggests many traditions. I liked the idea of telling your children your "Love Story" on Valentine's Day. How you and your husband met, show them wedding pictures and so on. 
  • Teaching Character through the classics--Karol suggests many classic books to read to and with your children. This is similar to last years blog posts I made called Make A Difference Monthly. Teach a different character trait each month through books and example!

Purchase a copy of The Power of A Positive Mom here.

 

Book-Reviews Health-and-Wellness Mon, 22 Apr 2013 00:51:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/book-review-power-of-a-positive-mom
Vlog -Illustrations and Design http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/vlog-illustrations-design

Video Blog #6 discusses finding an illustrator. I cover both artwork and the cover/interior design of my books. This video can be helpful for both teachers to share with their students and any other aspiring writers.

 

Let me know if you have ideas of topics for me to discuss once this publishing series is over with! 

 

 

Author-Adventures Fri, 19 Apr 2013 00:36:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/vlog-illustrations-design
Skippyjon Jones Giveaway http://mariadismondy.com/2014/4/skippyjonjones-giveaway

This month one of our sponsors is the Skippyjon Jones Stuff company. If you haven't read Skippyjon Jones to your family or class, you are missing out! Skippy is an adorable character that we love in our home. This week, you have a chance to win your very own pair of Skippy Pajamas!

 

We have the Heart Balloon pair (they have a pair geared towards boys here.) They are great quality. I order one size larger than my daughter's normal size and I am happy I did. 

 

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

Family-Fun Wed, 17 Apr 2013 00:59:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2014/4/skippyjonjones-giveaway
World of Reading Festival in Florida http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/florida-reading-festival

I just returned from an amazing adventure to Florida for the World of Reading Festival. 

 

The event is put on by the Junior League of Greater Lakeland. The women in this group put on fundraisers through out the year, raising up to six figures to give back to the community. This fact alone (and the fact that I hit it off with the awesome ladies in the group) makes me want to be a member. But that would mean I would have to move to Florida and I couldn't do that (or could I? Ha!)

 

I arrived on Friday and after renting a car (for the first time ever) drove right to Clearwater Beach. There were clouds covering the sky but the temperature was in the 80s and the humidity was 90%. It felt great! This was also the first time I've been away from both my husband and children overnight and for a few days since about four years ago.

 

Friday night the Junior League had a reception for Herman Parish (author of Amelia Bedelia), Jack Hartmann (children's musician) and myself. It was beautiful. Complete with a performance of two women playing the cello and violin. 

 

The next day was the World of Reading Festival. This is a free event for families in the Lakeland area. There are tents set up in this beautiful park, each with a different theme. The children travel from tent to tent, completing the activities and getting a stamp. After they travel "around the world" they get a book signed from both Herman and I and a free book from Scholastic. Other sponsors of the event were Florida's Natural, Publix and Geico. At least 2,000 books were given away at the event. It was amazing to witness.

 

Each tent had a theme. Character traits: (awesome!) Bravery, Diversity, Friendship, Be Kind, Anti-Bullying and more. I had the best time. Herman and I signed books for 4 1/2 hours straight (with a few breaks to read our books to the kids and eat lunch.) If you are interested in being a part of something like this in your area, find your local Junior League Organization!

 

P.S. Before heading home, I was sure to drive over to Disney World. I went to the Polynesian Hotel for lunch and was able to put my feet up and relax with a good book!

 

P.P.S. I wasn't prepared for tolls and sadly I received a toll violation. In a nutshell, I didn't have $1.25 in cash to pass through on my way to the airport! Embarassing? Yes. Learning experience? Absolutely!

 

 

Author-Adventures Mon, 15 Apr 2013 00:35:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/florida-reading-festival
Sticky Bellies Photo Shoot http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/sticky-bellies

 

Sticky Bellies is a company that I am very proud to say was launched by my friend Carly. Carly has taught me so much about being a small buisness owner, but above all she has been a huge inspiration to me. Not only does she run an extrememly successful company but is a teacher as well and is raising two lovely little ladies. I should add, she was the one who encouraged me to start a blog. Without her nudge and belief that I could do this, I may not have taken the plunge.

 

A few years ago when Sticky Bellies first released their products, my older daughter and I had the opportunity to participate in a product photo shoot. It sounds super glamorous but in all reality, the moms work overtime and are a sweaty mess by the end and the kids have their own agendas. Carly always manages to get a few good pictures to use with her inventory (see picture above--my big belly and my girl's peek-a-boo face.)

 

Having a few photo shoots behind me, I am not sure why I had the confidence that this one would be smooth sailing. Here is how the morning went, described in pictures below (from left to right.)

 

1.Big sister is happy to be with her friend and little sister is digging our Dora book. 

2. Little sister won't step on the white sheet without sobbing. She is soothed by the rocking horse. In the meantime, another baby model is warming up to the white sheet after a good 15 minutes of coaxing.

3. Little sister's first sucker (at least I thought it was, how could I forget 7 hours of flying to Mexico? Several suckers during that time!) Sweet girl just wanted to sit with mama.

4. We have a baby model on the white sheet and she's not crying! At the same time, crazy mama has the rocking horse over her head and is making ridiculous noises.

5. Storytime. Mama and little sister hang out on the white sheet but she still refuses to smile her big cheesy grin! That's a wrap. I was happy to hear that there was one picture that would work! 

 

I am really looking forward to seeing the new product line from Sticky Bellies that will be released this summer!

 

Congratulations to Sarah Simons on winning the autographed copy of Leah's Voice! 

 

 

Author-Adventures Fri, 12 Apr 2013 00:06:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/sticky-bellies
Girls Night Out-SWAP http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/swap-girls-night

Our Mom's Club, turned Recipe Group has turned into the "Girls Who Just Like to Get Together and Talk" Club!

 

Last week we had a swap. Ladies brought children's toys, books, women's clothing, accessories, bags, and likewise, that they no longer wanted. Then we swapped with our friends.

 

I walked away with a great orange purse for spring, a few books, clothing pieces and this awesome puzzle that my 18-month-old can't take her hands off! If you are looking for something different to do with your girlfriends, try hosting a swap night!

 

How-To Host a SWAP:

1. Invite your girlfriends over. Ask them to bring any items they want to giveaway such as clothing, accessories, jewelry, children's toys, books and household items.

 

2. Provide delicious food and refreshing drinks the night of the SWAP.

 

3. Hand each guest a number. The person with #1 goes first and so on. Keep rotating through the group. This will help take care of the "Hot Items" that people might fight over! After awhile, we all just started taking things! 

 

Author-Adventures Wed, 10 Apr 2013 00:34:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/swap-girls-night
A Mermaid Princess Party http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/mermaid-party

We had a Mermaid Princess Birthday Party over the weekend. Mermaid Pricness? Yes. This is what you get when your three-year-old tells you she wants a mermaid party, you order the invitations, then she changes her mind to a princess party!

 

Friday we had a playdate during the day with some of her friends. It was a blast! They played outside for a bit, colored wooden cut-out dolls from Jo Ann's, ate lunch and had dessert. The party was a success because for the first time, I didn't over plan with several games and crafts! 

 

Here are some of the details for the Under the Sea party theme: veggie cups, fish bread sandwiches, shrimp and cocktail sauce (not pictured), a Lolly-loopsy mermaid doll we already owned as a decoration, mermaid cookies, goldfish in a bowl from Ikea, party favor bags filled with goldfish crackers, mermaid, fish and unicorn stickers, a princess crown, a princess wand and a pack of friendship cards (to encourage kindness and writing, or course!) Finally, my favorite decoration at the party was a huge cut-out board that has traveled from party to party between my friends. It was propped up and we used it to take pictures of all the girls behind it (and some mamas too!) 

 

On Sunday (her actual birthday) we had the grandparents over for lunch, cake and ice cream! 

 

 

Family-Fun Mon, 08 Apr 2013 00:17:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/mermaid-party
Teaching Children Patience http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/make-a-difference-monthly-patience

 

This will be the LAST month I write a blog post on a specific character trait. It has been one year since I started this series. I was excited to have several contributors to this project over the course of the year and because of that, I have an EXCELLENT resource for parents to refer to when teaching thier children important virtues.

 

A year's worth of teaching children character traits.

 


Patience is described as quiet and steady.

When I think of children in general, I don't think of quiet and steady! However, we know that patience is a virtue, a trait, that is valuable, even for young children. The question is, how do we teach young child the art of being patient? Here are a few easy ways...

 

Do you want to read more about teaching children about patience? The book, Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman is a great read for how the French raise their children. If you don't have time to read yet another book about parenting (although, I really enjoyed this one), here's a quick article to read on the book and topic.

 


Teaching Children How to Practice Patience

 

1. Time-depending on the child's age, the concept of time is an abstract thought to grasp. Instead of telling your child their birthday is in two days, explain to them that today you are going to the library, tomorrow they will see grandma and then the next day it is their birthday! The words next, after, and then will help you describe time to a toddler and preschooler. Get a calendar for your preschooler and mark events together. Use a marker to put a big X on each day that passes. This is a great visual to teach children about patience and time.

 

2. Games-Playing games and having to TAKE TURNS is a great way to teach your child about being patient.

 

3. Vocabulary-Incorporate the words patient and patience into your vocabulary. Use them often when you see examples of this character trait to SHOW your child what it looks, sounds and feels like to be patient. "We have been waiting a very long time for our dinner, we are being so patient!"

 

 

Make-A-Difference-Monthly Sat, 06 Apr 2013 00:24:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/make-a-difference-monthly-patience
Green Smoothie Update http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/smoothie-update

The smoothies are delicious and they feed the whole family. The prep makes it so much easier to just grab a bag out of the freezer and blend it up, instead of having to cut everything up each day. I feel good with having so many servings of fruits and veggies first thing in the morning. We are on Day 5, only 25 more days to go! 

 

Find out more here.

Author-Adventures Fri, 05 Apr 2013 00:49:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/smoothie-update
April is Autism Awareness Month http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/autism-awareness

April is Autism Awareness Month. It's time to raise global autism awareness.

 

I had the honor of presenting at Berger, a school for children with autism last month.  I was greeted by a super team of teachers and students with open arms. It was an amazing experience to witness the support and community filled within the walls of the school. 

 

Author, Lori DeMonia has graciously offered to giveaway a signed copy of her book on my blog this month. Enter to win below. The winner will be chosen in one week and will win a copy of Leah's Voice. You can find my review of the book here. 

 

 

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Holidays Book-Reviews Thu, 04 Apr 2013 00:25:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/autism-awareness
Vlog #5 Finding A Publisher http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/vlog-finding-a-publisher

In this video blog, I give an overview of the different approaches to finding a publisher and/or literary agent.

 

As mentioned in the video, I offering consulting services for aspiring writers who would like to know more about the process.

Email me at maria@mariadismondy.com for more information.

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Wed, 03 Apr 2013 02:13:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/vlog-finding-a-publisher
Going Green http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/going-green
As a part of my Happiness Project, I choose something new to focus on in my life each month. You can see my 2012 Happiness Project here.

 

April: Going Green

About five years ago, my friends and I slowly began the transformation to go green. It was overwhelming at first so I took it very slow. I started with our household cleaning products then moved to switching over my makeup and personal care products. After that we had our first baby and I focused on keeping our baby products green. Once my daughter started eating solids, I focused on adding REAL food to our menu instead of processed junk. We've since added healthy suppplements and vitamins and have leased a cow! Yes, we are part owners of a cow here in Michigan and drink raw milk.

 

Now what? I am joining thousands of people this month by committing to drinking a green smoothie every single day this month. Thank you Emily for the inspiration. 

 

Here it is. Day one of the month long challenge. It's not too late to join. You will receive emails with shopping lists, simple steps to prep your smoothies and support from the community to keep with the challenge!

 

March: Work 

Follow-up This month I wanted to grow in a few areas in regards to work.

1. Read Pinterest Savvy by Melissa Taylor and create five things I learned from the book that I am going to put to use. These are the five things I learned about: Verify my website (check), comment on pins (I haven't done this yet), pin my videos (check), create a board and invite others to pin on it (check), after you follow someone new pin some of their stuff (check).

2.Google+ -I am on it, my profile is set, I've joined communities and circles but I am not sold on this platform yet.

3. Sponsorships-A HUGE thank you to my web girl and my graphic designer for helping me to get the advertisement up and running!

4. Thank you to my intern Karelyn for your support in our super successful Twitter Party! We had over thirty people join in the conversation. There were women from Hawaii, India and Singapore! We also had almost 200 entries for our Kindle Giveaway on Pinterest. It was a great month of new marketing adventures.

 
February: Clean Up & Clear Out

Follow-up This month I wanted to clean or organize something every day of the month. I also wanted to tackle a task that I had been thinking about for a very long time.

1. The clean up was good! I liked having a small task each day. I got a bit behind when we took our family trip.

2. I wrote the letters. Letters to my loved ones in case anything unexpected were to ever happen. Creepy, yes. Something I've always wanted to do though.

 

January: Learn

Follow-up This month I wanted to learn something new. I committed to doing this in three ways.

1. Learn to load the dishwasher. Check. It still doesn't look professional but with all the plastic servingware I am getting in there, I am not sure that's possible. Thanks to my pal Erica, I am able to fit more into my dishwasher with some organization!

2. UPDATE: April--this is a hard goal for me!!!! Learn about the instrument I play. Play the piano twice a week. My phone reminder was fun. Every Wednesday and Sunday morning it reminded me to play the piano. I wasn't always able to stop what I was doing to practice. I will continue to work on this goal! 

3. Learn to share my love. I participated in the Happier at Home 21 Day Relationship Challenge. I signed up for this challenge to learn some new, creative ways to show my appreciation to those I love in my life. I don't see my home lacking in love but why not learn more about vulnerability and authenticity? My favorite things I learned: Don't keep score, create a threshold ritual, and kiss in the morning and at night. 

 

One Little Word:

I have followed Ali Edwards project "One Little Word" for two years now. My word for 2011 was Peace and my word for 2012 was Balance. I've never taken her class but I have incorporated my word into my monthly goals/wishes/resolutions. Here's how to come up with a word (from Ali). My word for 2013 is Grace.

 

Can you identify a single word that sums up what you want for yourself in 2013?

It can be something tangible or intangible. It can be a thought, a feeling, or an emotion. It can be singular or plural. The key is to find something that has personal meaning for you. This is not your mother's word or your spouse's word or your child's word—this is YOUR word.

One little word can have big meaning in your life if you allow yourself to be open to the possibilities. And here's one thing that is totally interesting: sometimes a word will pop into your brain and it will not make any sense to you right now. Give it some time. Let it percolate a bit. I have often found that our heart speaks to us in very unique ways. Maybe this is a word you need to hear but just aren't ready for it yet.

Again, be open to the possibilities.

 

 

 

Health-and-Wellness Mon, 01 Apr 2013 00:29:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/4/going-green
The Five T's to Strengthen The Parent/Teacher Relationship http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/guest-blogger-five-ts-for-parent-teacher-relationship

It's Saturday. It's the Saturday before Easter and most parents are taking a deep breath and putting their feet up. 

Their children have next week off of school and after that? It's the HOME STRETCH! As a teacher, time flew after easter. My guest blogger today has some words of advice to share with you to help you make the rest of your child's school year the best yet! Pin this for a re-read in the fall! Welcome, Dianne Jeppson from her blog Teachers with Attitude a place where she writes to keep things postive!

 

In my fifteen-year teaching career, I’ve been a fourth grade teacher, a fifth grade teacher, an ESL teacher, and have now been teaching third grade for the past four years.  I absolutely love my job.  Every day is different and every day is filled with fun, laughter, and learning. If your job doesn’t include being around little kids, I highly recommend it!

I’m very lucky to be in a supportive school district where the parents support, trust, and respect the teachers.  I teach in a wonderful school with exceptional teachers.  However, as a teacher, every year some of the same issues seem to arise.  So, here are my five “T’s” (suggestions) for parents to help you to see the other side of the classroom door.


1. Talk
Attend curriculum nights, conferences, school activities, concerts, class parties, field trips, or any other event at your child’s school. Make it a point to be there as often as possible and get to know their friends. Talk to teachers, other parents, and introduce yourself to the principal and school secretaries. Talk to your child’s teacher often and let him/her know if you’ve changed your child’s medications or there has been a major change at home.  If you’re trying to test us to see if we’ll notice, take it from me, we will.  Be upfront and honest and we’ll do the same with you.  

Talk to your child every day when they get home from school.  You can extend and enhance their school learning by discussing their day.  If you ask what they did in school and they say, “Nothing”  - probe.  Ask more questions.  Make them accountable for sharing what they learned.  If your child tells you something happened at school and you’re concerned, call us.  Don’t let it go and worry about it at home. 

If your school has a website, become familiar with it.  If your child’s classroom has a website, bookmark it.  Lots of information is posted weekly to update parents on curriculum, upcoming dates, and important information.  It’s your job to read it and check it so you know what’s happening in the classroom and school.  

Tell us if your child is being picked up by a neighbor, or taking a different bus home, or going home with a friend. Teachers can multi-task like no other, but the end of the day can get a big crazy. There’s nothing worse than seeing a look of panic on a little face when the bell rings and they aren’t sure where they are supposed to go after school. Bottom line:  communicate, communicate, communicate.

2. Time
Teachers sometimes get a bad rap.  Yes, it’s true; we do have breaks throughout the year and have several weeks off in the summer.  But this is necessary time to plan and reenergize. Believe me, working with twenty-five children every day is not as easy as it looks.  We are professionals who work hard at our job. We come to school early and stay late frequently.  We put in extra hours at home.   Many of us take classes, have young children, and attend professional development after school.  Many times a quick email is the best use of time for both parent and teacher. Just remember, most teachers are with students all day and may not get back to you until after school hours.  If you need to talk in person, just like a dentist or doctor, make an appointment, keep it, and show up on time.  Our time is valuable like any other professional. Catching us for a quick moment in the hallway before or after school to tell us important information doesn’t always stick.  Have you seen how frazzled we look by the end of the day??

We love the fact that kids are excited to get to school early, however, teachers are planning, preparing, and collaborating with other teachers right up until the morning bell rings. We have staff meetings some mornings before school.  When you drop your child off early, we are put in an awkward position, or worse still, not able to keep an eye on your little one.  Please don’t just assume that an adult will be available before school hours.  And of course, on the opposite end of that, if you drop your child off late every day, that puts them behind from the start of the day. Ensure that your child is on time every day.  Promptness - it’s a good life lesson.


At conference time, teachers are in parent meetings for hours at a time in the evening, after already teaching for seven hours that day. It’s common to have a thirteen-hour day during these busy times of the year.  If you can’t make your conference time, please let us know ahead of time.  Although it may be “only 20 minutes” to you, you would be surprised how valuable that time is to a teacher and how much we can accomplish if we’re not sitting there waiting for someone to show up.  In addition, if you’re late, we still have to stick to our tight schedule and meet with the next parent at their scheduled time.  You’re short-changing the time we need to fully discuss your child’s progress.  Make it a priority.

3. Trust
You can trust us with your child.  Without a doubt, Sandy Hook was a tragedy that shook us to our core.  But it also allowed the world to see just how serious we teachers take our responsibility for your child’s safety and welfare.  Every day. Your child is our number one priority.

We know what’s best for them at school, be it learning, homework, or what student they sit next to.  Model and speak about your trust in the school and the teacher at home.  If you emphasize the importance of school, homework, learning, and respect for our job it’s evident to us at school in your child’s actions and behavior.

If we tell you that your child needs to be reading more at home, trust us. If we explain that more practice is needed with math skills, help us.  Really know in your heart that we are telling you this because we truly want your child to succeed. 


4. Toys
Playtime is very important for your child (and I’m not talking about video games!) Lots of current research shows that kids need to have more free play to develop important cognitive skills, problem solving skills, and social skills.  Don’t overload your child with activities after school every day and all weekend. They have already put in seven hours at school thinking, cooperating, reading, writing, and learning.   Our day begins as soon as the bell rings and includes a rigorous, busy schedule that would exhaust most adults.

Think back on when you were young.  There’s something to be said for a pile of legos, with hundreds of pieces and no instructions, or a large empty box and some markers and stickers. Encourage them to use their imagination.  Set them free and let them play! Even better, join them.

5. Trio
Parents, a teacher, and a student form a beautiful trio when they work together.  It’s like a fine tuned machine. As teachers, we can’t do our job without the parents.  We love your kids and do our best to help them grow and develop a love of learning.  Look to us as your partner.  We appreciate the uniqueness and abilities of every child that comes our way. 


I speak, not only as a teacher, but also as a parent of a child who is now grown up and on her own. As a parent, you will turn around in an instant, and your little ones will be off to college or out in the world.  I know we are all busy, but kids grow up so fast.  We have a small window to work together on giving them the confidence and the abilities to spread their wings and fly. 

Together we can make it a tremendous year for your child!

Talk. Time. Trust. Toys. Trio.

Guest-Bloggers Sat, 30 Mar 2013 00:32:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/guest-blogger-five-ts-for-parent-teacher-relationship
Homeschool Lessons Month #7 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/homeschool-month-seven

April and May will be the last two months of my first homeschooling adventure. Will I do it again? Absolutely! My youngest daughter will be next. I have decided to send my girls to one year of preschool before entering Kindergarten. After a ton of discussion with friends, researching schools and complaining to my husband that it just didn't feel right, I found a solution. Afternoons. 12:30-3:00. Perfect. We can have our mornings together with her little sister and the baby will sleep in the afternoons anyhow! I also chose a school that is five minutes from our house and that comes with rave reviews. Feel good about it, finally!

 

Here are lessons from Month #7 of homeschooling.

My go-to homeschool blog hasn't been updated in months. I am thankful she hasn't shut her site down because her lessons 

from the last year are still there and I am still using them.

 

 

 

 

Literacy Fri, 29 Mar 2013 00:26:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/homeschool-month-seven
Neighbors http://mariadismondy.com/2013/13/neighbors

We are super lucky to have generous neighbors. Not only has our recently retired neighbor shoveled for us almost every snowstorm, but he decorates the side of his garage for the girls. It's awesome. Every holiday, this neighbor makes handmade decorations out of plywood. He paints them and all! Two other neighbors of ours go all out on Halloween and Christmas decorations for our little ladies. Then there's our next door neighbor who goes above and beyond by babysitting all the time (this is my mother-in-law!) We feel so blessed!

 

 

Family-Fun Wed, 27 Mar 2013 00:46:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/13/neighbors
Fan Mail http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/fan-mail


March is Reading Month is coming to a close at the end of this week. The letters are still coming in! This weekend I wrote back over 100 students! I make a promise during my assemblies that if they write me, I WILL write them back! The pictures are my favorite. Seeing how I look through the eyes of five and six years old? Classic!

 

To hear the following words is worth the time it took to write everyone back....

 

"You inspired me to stand up for myself, that's what you inspired me to do. Have a nice day!" 

 

 

Author-Adventures Literacy Mon, 25 Mar 2013 00:52:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/fan-mail
The Art of Listening http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/the-art-of-listening


My type of book club? The kind where you meet once a month and discuss a few chapters of the book versus the entire thing! It allows me to be in a group with like-minded people and show up having my chapters read instead of pretending that I read the book when really what I needed was a few more weeks. My MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group has been reading The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer this year.

 

This last chapter we discussed was so good that I wanted to share a few excerpts from it. It was called "The Gift."

 

The author starts by sharing that she went to a conference and shares with us what the speaker said. I am sharing quite a bit below from Priscilla, it's awesome.

 

Right before taking his seat after an hour-long presentation, he lowered his voice, looked squarely into the eyes of his audeince, and said, "I'm aware that the greatest gift you can ever give someone is the gift of your own time. Thank you for giving me that gift today." Time. Listening. A gift. 

 

I've never forgotten that. In fact, I keep this awaress at the forefront of my mind each time I stand on a platform in front of a listening audeince. When people give you their ear, they are offering you a sliver of their life they can never retrieve again-one of the few gifts that can never be returned or retracted. 

 

But this dynamic is not only true of an audience listening to a speaker. It's true of any person who lends her ear to another individual. And we are in that position every day--the oportunity to envelop ourselves in someone else's conversation, to suppress the clamor of our own thoughts and schedule, to focus our full attention on other people, giving them an offering of the rarest kind. The gift of ourselves. The gift of our time.

 

The gift of listening.

 

Think of it. When was the last time somebody really listened to you? Not the last time you talked but the last tie you felt you were really heard. It's highly probably that these two occasions were not one and the same. You may not even be able to easily recall a recent moment when you experienced that special sense of knowing that someone was all there, all yours, intent on hearing what you had to say. But once you transport yourself back to that time, seeing the attentive eyes of that other person, you'll be looking into the face of someone you deeply appreciate, someone who truly knows how to make a person feel valued and accepted, loved and affirmed.

 

Why?

 

That's just what the gift of listening does. What starts with one gift spins off into other--the gifts of self-worth, significance, perssonal satisfaction. The kind of gifts we all want to be known for giving.

 

But oh, how uncommon they are. How rarely we receive them, much less give them. Most of the time we're so focused on ourselves and preoccupied with our own feelings, every conversation becomes ultimately about us and how we're being affected. We're parsing what the other person is saying, interpreting as we go, trying to fix whatever problem she's presenting , jumping in at every possible opening with our own attempts to turn the attention back to us, our experiences, and our opinions. 

 

Truly, what we say by not listening says a lot.

 

So choose to listen. Resist the urge to criticize, laugh, or make sarcastic remarks. Battle the press of time and urgency and the hunger to get away. Just lean in, quietly, emphatically, purposefully. 

 

And listen.

It's your gift. Your blessing.

Give it to whomever you can. "

 

I talk to the same friends several times a week. I want to work on spending more time listening rather than offering up advice. And when I am not sure if they want advice, I am just going to ask them! I am so thankfuyful for having my friends to listen to me and to be able to offer my time to them.

 

I must say, there is someone I am super lucky to have who listens wholeheartedly. This person is very intent on hearing what I have to say. Lucky to have my husband Dave. 

 

 

 

 

Book-Reviews Fri, 22 Mar 2013 00:02:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/the-art-of-listening
Books that Teach Honesty http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/books-that-teach-honesty


Earlier this month I blogged about ways to model honesty to your children at home. Here are some books that support teaching honesty. If I've left a good one off this list, please be sure to leave the title in the comments! Thank you! 

 

1. Edward Fudwupper Fibbed Big 

by Berkeley Breathed

 

2. Ruthie and The (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie 

by Laura Rankis

 

3. The Berenstein Bears and The Truth

by Stan and Jan Berenstein

 

4. A Big Fat Enormous Lie by 
Majorie Sharmat

 

5. My Big Lie by Bill Cosby

6. The Boy Who Cried Wolf by Lee Wildish

 

7. Sam Tells Stories by Thierry Robberecht

 

8. Be Honest and Tell The Truth by Cheri Meiners

(This is a great series for teaching children important lessons)

 

 

 

8. 

Book-Reviews Wed, 20 Mar 2013 00:03:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/books-that-teach-honesty
Vlog #4 Editing http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/vlog-editing

I'm excited to have heard feedback on my video series. There are classrooms that are using my videos to support their writing lessons, yay!

 

Here's video blog post #4 on editing. Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to get updates when new videos are posted.

 

 

 

Literacy Mon, 18 Mar 2013 00:00:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/vlog-editing
Go Green! http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/go-green

Family-Fun Holidays Sun, 17 Mar 2013 00:14:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/go-green
March is Reading Month UPDATE! http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/march-is-reading-month-update

March is Reading Month is in full swing.

 

I am having a blast spreading powerful messages across the state! Remember that I am giving away loads of prizes to celebrate reading this month. 

 

You have a few more days to enter my Pinterest Contest here.

 

This upcoming Thursday, I will be hosting my first Twitter Party (along with my fabulous intern Kaitlyn) and I hope you will join us!

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Sat, 16 Mar 2013 00:51:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/march-is-reading-month-update
Book Review-Pin Savvy http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/book-review-pin-savvy

You might remember the interview I did with author, Melissa Taylor a few weeks ago. I finished reading her book over the weekend. It was on my kindle and was a quick read. I really liked the fact that there were so many suggestions to further reading, pinterest boards to follow and more that you could simply click on and be taken to. They  were active links. This really makes learning so much faster when you can go from book to website to explore and find out more.

 

Pinterest Savvy is a good read for newbies to Pinterest. It's also helpful for business owners who are wondering how in the world marketers are using Pinterest to advertise their business. I walked away with a few things to tweak on my boards and in my usage of Pinterest for work. Here they are:

 

1. Track Pins-Look on my google analytics to see which pins are attracting readers to my blog/website. This is the easiest marketing strategy you can possibly find and I haven't been using it!

2. Comment-Be sure to comment on pins from time to time. 

3. Category Hashtags-add hashtags when pinning. I haven't been doing this either!

4. Verify your website-Melissa's book didn't say why this was important, but I figured I should check it out.

5. After you follow someone new, repin at least three items of theirs. This will ensure that your name pop up on their "recently viewed" list in the upper right hand corner. Good for exposure to gain more followers.

6. Pin my videos-I haven't been doing this with my new video series.

7. Plan a group board-invite others to pin to this board. I was thinking of making a new character board and inviting a few of my counselor and teacher blogger buddies to join it! 

Book-Reviews Fri, 15 Mar 2013 00:36:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/book-review-pin-savvy
Book Review-A Return to Love http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/book-review-a-return-to-love

Mariannne Williamson wrote this book years ago. It's deep but there are times when deep is just what I need. 

 

Marianne studied A Course of Miracles. It sounds like The Course is a pretty intense self-study guide that focuses on forgiveness and inner piece. I picked up A Return to Love with the thought that it was sort of the cliff notes of The Course. It was great. I gained some really good insights from reading it. I highlighted and marked page after page. I told my friend I wasn't going to blog about this book because I couldn't figure out how to put my review into words. So, instead of trying to find the words, I will leave it up to you to decide whether or not it sounds like something you might enjoy. Check out the following short (3 or 4 minutes) video clips.

 

I found a few quick clips from interviews with Oprah and Marianne. Marianne has been a spiritual counselor for Oprah for sometime now.

 

This stuff is good. I love it. There's another author, Gabrielle Bernstein who studied A Course in Miracles and wrote May Cause Miracles as a result.

 

Super Soul Sunday on Forgiveness

 

Super Soul Sunday on Material versus Spiritual World

 

Super Soul Sunday on Recognizing Miracles 

 

 

 Monthly post I write on Literacy for Beaumont Hospital's Parenting Blog: Reading Comprehension.

 

 

Book-Reviews Wed, 13 Mar 2013 00:45:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/book-review-a-return-to-love
Book Review-Leah's Voice http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/book-review-leahs-voice

Author Lori DeMonia contacted me a few weeks ago about reviewing her children's book, Leah's Voice. The book won a Silver Mom's Choice Medal and has been out since October 2012. Not only did the title spark my interest, but the cover illustrations with two loving girls made me think this was another book about friendship. I was wrong, Leah's voice is much more than a story of friendship....

 

Book Synopsis: Leah's Voice is a story that touches on the difficulties children encounter when they meet a child with special needs such as autism. Children who have a brother or sister with special needs may find it difficult to explain to their friends, or feel disappointed when their friends aren't more understanding. Leah's Voice tells the story of two sisters facing these challenges. Through her kindness and devotion, one sister teaches by example the importance of including everyone and showing acceptance.

 

My Review: I think the story was realistic and relatable for children. With Autism affecting so many families today, it's important to have good literature to support teaching our children about the spectrum. It's not just a book for families with children who have autism. Our children will have friends at school on the spectrum. The book is good to bring awareness to all. The illustrations were really cute! Super vivid and the character expressions were priceless. The book went through a few different scenarios to help explain the book's lesson. The examples were realistic but lengthy. I think the book is more appropriate for elementary aged children versus preschoolers.  I would recommend teachers and parents get a copy of Leah's Voice for their bookshelves.

 

You can find out more about Lori and her book and have the opportunity to purchase a copy on Amazon.

Book-Reviews Mon, 11 Mar 2013 00:51:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/book-review-leahs-voice
Vlog #3 Revision http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/vlog-revision

Hello readers! Today I am posting my third video blog. It is all about revision. 

Vlog #1 was about Ideas and Vlog #2 discussed Organization in writing. Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to get updates when new videos are posted. I would love to hear your ideas for future video ideas. What would you like to see after I work through the entire writing process?

 

 

Literacy Sat, 09 Mar 2013 00:53:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/vlog-revision
Book Review-Gone Girl http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/book-review-gone-girl

I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn over our family trip. 

The book came highly recommended by a few different friends. 

I loved that I couldn't put it down, always a sign of a good book. It didn't take any time at all to get into it like other books I've read lately. The story line is about a husband and a wife and the ups and downs of their marriage. But not the normal ups and downs of a marriage. It was creepy. That's the best way to describe it. Creepy and filled with suspense. Mysterious and reminded me of watching Dateline on a Friday night. The best part? I was reading about the book online this morning and I found out that it is being written into a screenplay and Reese Witherspoon is being cast as the main character Amy! I love when a good book goes to film (or to an off Broadway Musical!)



Book-Reviews Fri, 08 Mar 2013 00:45:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/book-review-gone-girl
Project Complete http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/new-office-man-cave

 

Our new home office/man cave is complete. Well, just about! There's another frame to hang, a rug on order and the tv to hook up but it's a workable space. Just in time for a consulting call I have tonight! 

 

We started off with a rough carpenter framing the space. Then we had an electrician. Dave hung the drywall and did a few odds and ends. Next we had a trim carpenter come in and put in the wood floors, the trim and the board and batten. Good ol' Rubio, our painter did his magic then we had carpet installed. The carpet installed was brown and we had it replaced with the correct color. That mistake is a long story but we are thankful for an understanding carpeting guy! 

 

I am excited about the new space. We are project crazy over here at the Dismondy house. Up next is a sprinkler system. Not as fun for the decorator in me! After that will be our little one's big girl bedroom. Now that's something I can get excited about!

 

P.S. Instead of buying new chairs, we recovered old ones. I wasn't super good at using the staple gun but all in all, simple project!

 

 

Family-Fun Wed, 06 Mar 2013 00:30:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/new-office-man-cave
Homeschool Lessons Month #6 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/homeschool-month-six

Preschool Registration is coming up. I am nervous nellie and it's just plain silly. I know 

my big girl will be fine but I can't help but feel these feelings. She's grown leaps and bounds this year and I have really enjoyed the homeschooling (we will go untill mid May.) At the same time, I want her to be with other children. We are sending her to a four-year-old 

preschool program but we haven't quite decided on which one. I know it's what's best for us, as it will give me alone time with my younger daughter so that I can share my time equally (or at least try!) 

 

In February, I taught the letter Q and R. We spent a week making Valentine's and creating Valentine's Day projects. Then we took a week off for vacation. Here are some of the lessons from this month.

 

 

  

 

Literacy Mon, 04 Mar 2013 00:02:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/homeschool-month-six
March-Grow my Work Skills http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/march-grow-work-skills

March is Reading

Month Giveaways

1. Pinterest Contest ends March 20th

2. Giveaway on Box Office Mom

3. Twitter Party on March 21st-amazing prizes! Feel free to share the ad picture here with your readers!

 

March: Work 

This month is my busy month for work. I will be presenting a lot and running both a Pinterest contest and a Twitter Party. I have a few areas of my career I would like to grow as far as marketing goes and am committed to doing it this month.

1. Read Pinterest Savvy by Melissa Taylor and create five things I learned from the book that I am going to put to use.

2. I have one more week in a Social Media class I am taking online. I learned quite a bit about Google+ and am spending time this month getting my busuiness up and running on that platform.

3. Sponsorships-I have had some interest in companies wanting to advertise on my blog and I am putting together a plan to hopefully roll out in April at the same time as some blog and website changes (trying to keep up with mobile web optimization!) 

 
February: Clean Up & Clear Out

Follow-up This month I wanted to clean or organize something every day of the month. I also wanted to tackle a task that I had been thinking about for a very long time.

1. The clean up was good! I liked having a small task each day. I got a bit behind when we took our family trip.

2. I wrote the letters. Letters to my loved ones in case anything unexpected were to ever happen. Creepy, yes. Something I've always wanted to do though.

 

January: Learn

Follow-up This month I wanted to learn something new. I committed to doing this in three ways.

1. Learn to load the dishwasher. Check. It still doesn't look professional but with all the plastic servingware I am getting in there, I am not sure that's possible. Thanks to my pal Erica, I am able to fit more into my dishwasher with some organization!

2. Learn about the instrument I play. Play the piano twice a week. My phone reminder was fun. Every Wednesday and Sunday morning it reminded me to play the piano. I wasn't always able to stop what I was doing to practice. I will continue to work on this goal! 

3. Learn to share my love. I participated in the Happier at Home 21 Day Relationship Challenge. I signed up for this challenge to learn some new, creative ways to show my appreciation to those I love in my life. I don't see my home lacking in love but why not learn more about vulnerability and authenticity? My favorite things I learned: Don't keep score, create a threshold ritual, and kiss in the morning and at night. 

 

One Little Word:

I have followed Ali Edwards project "One Little Word" for two years now. My word for 2011 was Peace and my word for 2012 was Balance. I've never taken her class but I have incorporated my word into my monthly goals/wishes/resolutions. Here's how to come up with a word (from Ali). My word for 2013 is Grace.

 

Can you identify a single word that sums up what you want for yourself in 2013?

It can be something tangible or intangible. It can be a thought, a feeling, or an emotion. It can be singular or plural. The key is to find something that has personal meaning for you. This is not your mother's word or your spouse's word or your child's word—this is YOUR word.

One little word can have big meaning in your life if you allow yourself to be open to the possibilities. And here's one thing that is totally interesting: sometimes a word will pop into your brain and it will not make any sense to you right now. Give it some time. Let it percolate a bit. I have often found that our heart speaks to us in very unique ways. Maybe this is a word you need to hear but just aren't ready for it yet.

Again, be open to the possibilities.

 

 

Author-Adventures Sun, 03 Mar 2013 00:47:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/march-grow-work-skills
Honesty http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/make-a-difference-monthly-honesty

Teaching children to be honest is a character trait we want them to have early on. Here are three simple ways to begin instilling this value.


 

Honesty is being sincere, truthful, trustworthy, honorable, fair, genuine, and loyal wiht integrity. 

Honesty is telling the truth.


1. Model Honesty

Practice what you preach. It is amazing what children will pick up on. Be the model of integrity you want for your children.

 

2. Share stories

We tell the story of Ruthie and the Not so Teeny Tiny Lie over and over again. My three-year-old loves hearing this children's book by Laura Rankin. I love this story because not only does little Ruthie lie but she has physical symptoms of guilt and shame. Her parents handle the lie wonderfully and so does the teacher. It's a great first example for children so they can see that you telling the truth makes you feel better! Remember you can always go back to The Boy Who Cried Wolf to illustrate the consequences of telling a lie. 

 

3. Play the "true, true, false" game 

This is a game we played as a staff icebreaker one summer before the start of the school year. We had to share two truths and one thing that was false and the group had to guess which was the lie. This memory makes me smile because a friend of mine announced her pregancy to the group during this game! Anyhow, you can play this with your child and have them tell you which statements were honest and which one was the lie. 

 

Stay tuned later this month for a list of other books that will help reiterate the character trait honesty.

 

Make-A-Difference-Monthly Sat, 02 Mar 2013 00:54:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/3/make-a-difference-monthly-honesty
March Contest-Pin-it-to-win-a-KINDLE http://mariadismondy.com/march-contest

 

Welcome March is Reading Month! It's my busiest month of the year as a children's book author and in honor of this special month, I am hosting a few contests with some fabulous prizes. Let's get started...who wants to win a brand new kindle? I just used one over vacation and it came in handy reading with one hand and not having to turn the pages while I held our sleeping baby on the airplane for over two hours! 

Directions to enter are below. Good luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

Here are a few images to help you get started in pinning for an entry!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Fri, 01 Mar 2013 00:11:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/march-contest
Books That Foster Creativity http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/books-on-creativity

Each month I talk about a different character trait that I find to be important in teaching young children. Earlier this month I gave a few suggestions on fostering your child's creativity in the blog post here

 

Here are over ten children's books that help reiterate this important trait.

 

1. The Dot by Peter Reynolds

2. The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola

3. Harold and The Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

4. Willow by Denise Brennan-Nelson

5. Not A Box by Antoinette Portis

6. Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty

7. Sky Color by Peter Reynolds

8. Ink Blot by Margaret Peot

9. Zoom by Istvan Banyai

10. Ish by Peter Reynolds

11. Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg

Make-A-Difference-Monthly Character-Traits Thu, 28 Feb 2013 00:52:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/books-on-creativity
Time + Your Hobby = Happy http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/photography-happy

The real juice of life, whether it be sweet or bitter, is to be found not nearly so much in the products of our efforts as in the process of living itself, in how it feels to be alive.

~ George Leonard

 

 

Illustration Credit

Put it in your calendar. Try to schedule the time for doing what you love. I had two friends ask me to take pictures for them this week. I love using what I have learned in the past to practice my photography skills. 

 

I read an article in Click Magazine last night written by Kelle Hampton. She described her reasons for leaving her photography business behind and getting back to what she loved, taking real life pictures instead of posed photoshoots with props of all sorts. As much as she appreciates the art of portrait photography, she prefers to take pictures of things in her life that make her happy. The moment that is held onto forever because of that single photograph. I concur.

Health-and-Wellness Wed, 27 Feb 2013 00:23:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/photography-happy
What To Do With Your Children's Art http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/childrens-art

As blogger Kelle Hampton prepared to welcome a new member to the family, she posted about decorating her son's nursery with art from her five- year-old daughter (scroll down about half way into the post).

 

A friend of mine did something similar to her daughter's nursery (which is being featured on project nursery soon!!!) When my three-year-old drew a picture of our family on Sunday afternoon, I knew immediately I needed to frame it for our new office space.

 

Something else I've started doing is taking pictures of my girls' art and uploading it into a file on Shutterfly. I plan on making a book from Preschool-Elementary. I will save a few of my ultimate favorites in a cool system I got from this blog, but I am really digging my easy to store shutterfly photo books!

Family-Fun Tue, 26 Feb 2013 00:25:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/childrens-art
Vacation http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/vacation

We took time off to go to Mexico with the family last week. I can honestly say I was nervous about being unconnected from the world for so long but it was refreshing! My husband checked in on deals for work everyday while the baby napped in the room and I had time with our oldest. He's going back to work today feeling caught up which is really nice. Neither of us had service on our cell phones and that was so great!

 

What did I do if I wasn't working? I read a few books (beach novels), magazines, worked out, took a ton of pictures (as you know, a hobby I love) went to the spa (cucumbers on my eyes, hot tub, swiss shower, sauna and steam room---all part of our stay) and was present for our trip. My parents were super generous in watching the girls for a few daytime naps and date nights.

 

It's a trip I am lucky enough to have been on since I was a teen. My dad would take my sister and I for a week to different locations in Mexico. We hope to do the same (probably every other year since the cost to fly is so terribly expensive) for our girls. My daughter kept asking me if we lived in Mexico. She was so cute trying to speak Spanish to every single person that worked at the resort. Last night at dinner she carried on, "Mama, how do you say milk? Pass me the leche!" Do I recommend people travel to Mexico with young children? It really depends. From what I hear on the news, there are parts of Mexico that are very unstable. We felt safe at our resort, could drink the water and eat all the fruits and vegetables our hearts desired without getting sick. 

 

Stay tuned this week. March is Reading Month begins on Friday and I have some BIG contests I will be holding with some BIG prizes!

 


 

Teachers: A blogger friend of mine, Charity Preston with The Organized Classroom has developed an online magazine that is FREE this month and available here. She has included plenty of helpful resources. If you like what you see, each issue after March 2013 will only be $2.95.


 

Local News to share...

 

The Spinal Column article that was published last week.

 

Walled Lake Life-I was surprised to see a picture of me reading at an event from 2009 on the cover of the magazine (see photo)

 

 

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Health-and-Wellness Mon, 25 Feb 2013 00:47:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/vacation
Florida Event http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/florida-event

In April I will be participating in this awesome event. I am over the moon about performing along side with Herman Parish, the author of Ameilia Bediela!!! I plan on bringing a few copies of my Ameilia books to get signed. For my Florida readers, here's your chance for us to meet! Stay tuned, I am working on setting up a book signing with Barnes and Noble while I am there. 

Author-Adventures Fri, 22 Feb 2013 20:01:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/florida-event
Author Spotlight-Melissa Taylor http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/welcome-melissa-taylor

A few months ago, I came across a blog post on Parenting.com that featured my book, Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun. As I continue my search for a literary agent or big house publisher, I am motivated to make connections across the web. So, I contacted the author, Melissa Taylor about the article. Since then, I have been checking in on Melissa's amazing website Imagination Soup and following her on Twitter. She just released a new book that I KNOW will benefit a number of my readers (I am thinking of you teacher bloggers out there!) Here's the scoop on her new release.... 

                                                                                                   Book Summary:
Pinterest Savvy: How I Got 1 Million+ Followers (Strategies, Plans, and Tips, to Grow Your Business with Pinterest) offers a comprehensive look at how to achieve success on Pinterest.

 

Author, Melissa Taylor, draws on her expertise as a top Pinterest user with over 1 million followers, shows how to get started and gain skills on Pinterest, and reveals her secrets to getting lots of followers.
Along the way, you'll hear from other Pinterest experts like popular blogger Amy at Living Locurto and the social media team at PBS. Plus, you'll learn business-specific tips and see real-life examples.

 

You'll learn:
--> How to attract more followers & increase brand awareness
--> How to achieve marketing and sales goals
--> Business-specific strategies
--> Success stories & tactics
--> Secrets from top Pinners
To help you achieve your goals, use free worksheets available on

 Pinterest-Savvy.net.

 

Buy on Amazon

 

Q & A with Melissa Taylor

Tell us about your book. Who is the targeted audience?
A: Pinterest Savvy shows new and intermediate users how to excel on Pinterest. It's for everyone who wants to attract more followers, get more repins and click throughs, and achieve sales and marketing goals. 

As a small business owner myself, I am overwhelmed at the number of social media outlets out there. What are your suggestions for a beginner?

A: Find where your customers are. Focus there. If you aren't sure, ask or watch your website analytics to assess the sources of traffic. 
Pinterest is my #1 traffic souce so I focus there. 


You have a fantastic blog called Imagination Soup that I think my readers can benefit from. Share a little bit about how you started blogging and what your mission is with your blog.

A: Thanks! ImaginationSoup.net continues to evolve to meet the needs of my readers who are passionate, thinking parents. It's a place to find ideas to keep kids growing, engaged, and thinking. 

I have read several of your articles on a number of websites. Please share a few links with us to your most read articles!

A: I just ended my term blogging for Parenting magazine -- here are two popular posts:

http://www.parenting.com/blogs/mom-congress/melissa-taylor/should-schools-abolish-homework
http://www.parenting.com/blogs/mom-congress/melissa-taylor/read-book-inspire-reader

Are you currently writing another book? 

A: I have a few I want to write but none started yet. 

What is your favorite part of your role as an author?

A: Making a difference! I know it sounds hokey but that's why I do what I do. And I love it!


Author Bio: Melissa Taylor 
A mother of two girls and an award-winning educator, Melissa Taylor holds a Master’s Degree in Global Education, with expertise in early childhood and elementary education and a focus on literacy and play. She has taught all subjects for the elementary grades and preschool.

Melissa created and writes the highly popular and award-winning learning blog Imagination Soup . Imagination Soup is a PBS Kids VIP Blog and was selected as the Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine Best Reading & Book Blog for 2010, as well as for the Circle of Moms Top 25 Teacher Mom Blogs and Top 25 Tech Moms.

Melissa writes about education, learning, children’s literature, technology, and advocacy for publications online and in print, includingParenting.com, USA Today Health, The Writer, Scholastic Parent and Child, Working Mother.com,Babble.com, Colorado Parent Magazine, Denver Magazine. In 2010, she won the coveted Colorado delegate spot for Parenting Magazine’s Education and Learning Mom Congress. In January 2012, Entrepreneur magazine featured Taylor as the “’Trep of the Month.”

Guest-Bloggers Book-Reviews Wed, 20 Feb 2013 00:37:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/welcome-melissa-taylor
Video Blog Post-Organization http://mariadismondy.com/2013/02/vlog-organization

Welcome back to my author vlog series! I love sharing knowledge with readers via video every now and again. This is especially helpful to teachers who want to show my less than five minute videos in the classroom.

Earlier this month I posted a video about ideas. Play the video below to learn about how to organize your ideas on paper. I will be back next month with two more videos as we continue to explore the process of writing together!

 

Here is a guest post over at The Mom's Choice Matters Blog where I write tips on working from home while raising young children.

 

Literacy Mon, 18 Feb 2013 00:33:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/02/vlog-organization
A List Lover http://mariadismondy.com/2013/16/making-lists

Thank you Emily for the tip on the app Wunderlist. I am a list lover. Always have been, always will. 

A few months ago, something tragic happened. I lost my mini notebook filled with my lists (list for planning a part, work list, home project list, etc.) I also had new book ideas listed in the notebook. I searched everywhere and the notebook was never found. This app for smart phones makes it so I can have my lists in a safe place. Now what I am doing is checking my app for things I need to do and making a daily list on this little clipboard I carry around. It works out wonderfully. Check the app out here

 

 

Character-Traits Author-Adventures Sat, 16 Feb 2013 00:39:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/16/making-lists
Fancy Family Dinner Recap http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/fancy-family-dinner

My mom made a big day about Valentine's Day. I am continuing the tradition. First, we taped die cut hearts all over the kitchen. We made cupcakes, a few crafts, heart shaped eggs, and wore red-themed clothing for the day. Each girl got a little $1 bowl from Target with hearts all over it. We put on fancy gowns, my husband wore a suit (last year was a tux) and we ended the night with a dance party. Last but not least, we passed out treats to neighbors as Random Acts of Kindness. A day full of love...

 

Family-Fun Holidays Fri, 15 Feb 2013 00:23:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/fancy-family-dinner
Happy Hearts Day! http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/happy-hearts-day

 

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Today we are making the time to complete a Random Act of Kindness!

I hope you will too. Remember it can be something as simple as holding the door open for someone. 

I'll be back tomorrow with a recap from our Fancy Family Dinner!

Family-Fun Thu, 14 Feb 2013 00:02:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/happy-hearts-day
The Importance of A School Counselor http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/school-counselor

As I sit down to write this, I am thinking about three important friends of mine. Two of which I have never met in person but they have become virtual buddies of mine. Something these three people have in common is they have super important roles in schools, they are school counselors. 

 

First there is Kurt David, not only is he a school counselor but he is an inspiring author mentor of mine as well! Kurt has been super supportive as I ventured out on my own on this journey as a writer.

 

Then there is the infamous, Barbara Gruner. Barbara is my go to girl when it comes to character education. She is a character coach (check out the last page in The Potato Chip Champ, she wrote an excellent piece for families on teaching character in the home) and a generous person all around!

 

And finally, last but certainly not least, there's Mrs. K. Mrs. K joined my virtual blog tour this year and works out in Iowa. I love that she wants me to come to her small town to visit with her students. I hope that one day a trip to see her and Barbara will be made possible! 

 

Mrs. K. posted a great little ditty she wrote. I think this would be fantastic for teachers to share with their staff and students, maybe through the school announcements. Thank you, all three of you for the hard work you do, day in and day out, to work with our children, helping them feel better about themselves!

 

 

Character-Traits Wed, 13 Feb 2013 00:00:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/school-counselor
Valentine's Day Fun http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/valentines-day-fun


Here are a few of our Valentine's activities we did this year. Thank you Pinterest for your fabulous resources.

 

1. Valentine's for friends. We included a few pieces of candy and heart sunglasses that we picked up in an eight pack at Meijers.

Here's the printable that can be used to personalize them.

 

2. The picture I took of us playing this next game didn't turn out so I included this cute photo. Musical Hearts: Cut out a bunch of hearts and write numbers on them. Play music, stop the music and everyone has to stand on a heart. You have to say the number you are standing on.

 

3. Doilies. Buy a whole bunch of them and let your kiddos glue them together, add stickers, use markers to write their name, etc. They are a staple for Valentine's Day.

 

4. Peanut Butter cookies. Delicious. Add a little chocolate heart, voila! (ours were strawberry and cream hearts, a special valentine's type)

 

5. A happy little bee that says "Bee Mine" to hang on the wall and make everyone smile. I couldn't find the directions online but I saw the idea on Pinterest. It was an empty link so I just cut up the pieces and had my preschooler clue the parts together!  

 

5. Fancy Family Dinner. We are all dressing up on Valentine's Day and I am making a fancy dinner. It's a fun tradition. Check back Friday to see a recap.

 

6. (single picture) Hidden Messages- Cut out white hearts. Write love messages with a white crayon. Hide the hearts on Valentine's Day. Have your children find them then using watercolor paints, paint the hearts to reveal the hidden messages.                                                                                                              

 

Family-Fun Tue, 12 Feb 2013 00:49:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/valentines-day-fun
Author Secrets! http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/author-secrets

Here's a bonus vlog post for the families, teachers and little ones who read my books. 

It's a behind the scenes look at some hidden pictures you can look for as you read any of my titles!

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Mon, 11 Feb 2013 00:22:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/author-secrets
In Case of an Emergency http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/fireproof-box

Back in June I wrote about our Family Emergency Kit. The kit lives under our kitchen sink and is there in case we have to leave our house for a sudden emergency. I saw a ton of really great ideas on kits going around on pinterest but I couldn't commit to buying food and put in our kit. It's almost as if I don't want to admit that something could happen where we would need a supply of canned goods and bottled water. So I made one that worked for me!

 

Another thing I had been wanting to do forever was purchase a fireproof box. A family member of ours had a house fire years ago and lost everything. I remember her telling me how difficult it was to go through and remember every single thing they owned for insurance purposes. Last year I took our video camera and walked through our house, opening cabinets and drawers, getting it all on video. Then I burned this to a dvd and we keep it at a location away from our house. I will also keep one in our new fireproof box.

 

What else is in our fireproof box? Passports, birth certificates, social security cards, our marriage certificate, external hardrives, a cassette tape with my grandma and I singing on it and a brooch my aunt gave me to wear on my wedding day from my grandma. Think of anything that would be irreplaceable and put it in there! Please leave comments below if you have other ideas of items that should go in the box.

Health-and-Wellness Sat, 09 Feb 2013 00:03:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/fireproof-box
Writing Ventures http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/writing-ventures

In 2013 I am venturing into the scary world of social media.

Within that scary world are some pretty awesome opportunities.

 

Here are a few examples of what I am talking about.

 

Opportunity number one was writing an article for the new magazine, Authorpreneur. Check out page 9.

 

Opportunity number two was using social media to reach a larger audience. It's the only way I can figure out how these reputable sites heard about my books! Super geeked about being featured in these articles.

 

Huffington Post's 50 Children's Books that Have Positive Messages

and

10 Books Every Mother Should Read To Their Daughter

 

It's February 7th and there are more opportunities ahead. For me and for YOU!

 

Author-Adventures Fri, 08 Feb 2013 00:04:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/writing-ventures
Michigan State University http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/college-memories

I took a quick trip up to East Lansing this week to visit a friend who had a baby. 

 

A trip to my alma mater isn't complete without driving by a few special places.

 

1. Kappa Alpha Theta

2. 422 MAC

3. The original Biggby (formerly known as Beaner's Coffee)

 

Post college, the Lansing area is also home of my children's books. They are kept at a distribution 

warehouse. I stopped by for a visit on my way home.

The smell of books in the building is invigorating!

 

P.S. The baby I held was three days old. Words can not express the feeling of holding a new little miracle. I am so proud of my ol' college roommate. She is an amazing mama!

 

 

Author-Adventures Thu, 07 Feb 2013 00:31:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/college-memories
Hello, Tomie DePaola! http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/author-meets-favorite-author-tomie-depaola

We are moving into the new office space slowly but surely. As I organized, cleaned and recycled things, I came across this picture. 

It was the day I met Tomie DePaola at The Book Beat in Southfield, Michigan.

 

Tomie DePaola is, hands down, one of my favorite children's book author. Because of Tomie, we have excellent books to teach our children beautiful life lessons. Here are a few of my favorites:

Oliver Button is a Sissy, Strega Nona, The Art Lesson and Now One Foot, Now The Other (this book makes me cry everytime I read it!)

 

Check out Tomie and his books, you won't be disappointed!

 

 

Author-Adventures Wed, 06 Feb 2013 00:16:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/author-meets-favorite-author-tomie-depaola
Make A Difference Monthly-Creativity http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/make-a-difference-monthly-creativity

It's Make a Difference Monthly! For those of you new to my blog, I am a children's book author who is passionate about making a difference in the lives of children everywhere. I think it's important that children are taught to be responsible, empathetic and kind individuals and contribute in great ways in the world!

 

If you want to check out other character trait lessons go here. From April 2012-December 2012 I was super lucky to have Education Bloggers contribute to Make A Difference Monthly.

 


Creativity

I came across this definition of creativity on the website Growing Creative Kids. I loved the article written here about creativity and recommend you check it out!

 

“First, they [the characteristics of creativity] always involve thinking or behaving imaginatively. Second, overall this imaginative activity is purposeful: that is, it is directed to achieving an objective.  Third, these processes must generate something original. Fourth, the outcome must be o fvalue in relation to the objective.”

 


My ideas on teaching children creativity? Three quick steps below!

 

1. Plan

 I know, I know, you can hand a child a crayon and blank piece of paper and allow them to express themselves. However, from all of my child development classes in college and experience as a teacher, I've learned that children grow and develop in different ways. Exposing children to a NUMBER of creative mediums is important, allowing them to explore a variety of learning styles. In order to do this, it takes some planning. You can keep it simple. Plan for three activities a week to start. If your child is in school, they are participating in creative lessons there. But remember there is a big push for teachers to teach to the curriculum and we have seen that lessons in the arts have decreased significantly in the last decade. 

 

Where are you going to get these ideas from while you are planning? Welcome to the wonderful world of Pinterest. You will find everything you need by pinning (which is planning weeks in advance) activities to boards you create. Here is one I have called Kids Crafts and another called Cooking with Kids. Follow me and you can start by browsing my pins!

 

2. Variety

As much as I love painting activities, I know there's much more out there. When planning activities for your child to get creative at home, try to plan for activities in these different mediums: Art, Crafts, Music, Movement, Pretend Play, Fine Motor, Gross Motor, Cooking, Literacy, Mathematics, Experiments, Digital/Auditory (books on youtube or learning apps) and Holiday Activities.

 

 

3. Prep & Do

Prep the activities. Remember the dollar store is an excellent resource for inexpensive arts and crafts supplies. Junk drawers are another good place to go :) Have fun spending time with your child. For those working moms, I find when I have something planned and prepped for my daughter, I can get dinner made while she is learning and creating at the kitchen table (unless it's a messy, must be completely supervised activity!) 

 

 

Make-A-Difference-Monthly Mon, 04 Feb 2013 00:58:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/make-a-difference-monthly-creativity
Homeschool Lessons Month #5 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/homeschool-lessons-month-five

 

Here we are month five of homeschool preschool. I changed the way I formatted my monthly updates and am trying to give you a little more information. Remember, most of the lessons I use come from this blog. Head over there to find out specific details if you want to recreate a lesson. I love the mix of art, cooking, music, literacy, math, science and movement.

 

I am thinking ahead and getting excited that in the fall my youngest and I will take the Parent/Tot class at our local preschool. We do plan on sending my three (almost four) year old to preschool in the fall of 2013. I have thought about this time and time again. I am being very selfish in the fact that I want her home with me. I don't think she needed preschool this year. In my heart of hearts, I think with my teaching background, it made sense to have her home. I have loved the lesson planning, the time together, watching her grow, witnessing her love for reading and writing and being there when she began reading and writing her first words. Being such a big role in her learning is something I will cherish forever and I have my husband to thank for making it possible that I am home.  It worked out so nicely that my youngest would nap and my oldest and I had this chunk of time together. But in the end, two days a week next year is what we decided on. Then the following year we plan to send her to half day kindergarten. It breaks my heart to think about her going to school but I do realize that all parents experience this pain of letting go as their children grow up.  

 

Literacy Sun, 03 Feb 2013 00:28:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/homeschool-lessons-month-five
First Vlog-Ideas http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/first-video-blog-ideas

Happy Groundhog's Day (It's also "Have Ice Cream For Breakfast Day!") I came across this excellent video on Pinterest about the story behind Groundhog's Day. It is short, sweet and age-appropriate for preschool and elementary-aged children. 

 

Today is my first vlog, a video blog post! Twice a month I am going to post a short video about the process of publishing a children's book. 

This first video is all about how I get my ideas for books. 

 

In order to be notified once I post a new video, you can subscribe to my Youtube channel.

 

So, grab a cup of joe and hang out with me while you watch my first vlog post!

 


PS I am in our new home office. More to come on that later...

Literacy Sat, 02 Feb 2013 00:28:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/first-video-blog-ideas
Welcome February! http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/welcome-february

The second month of the year. Are you still motivated and inspired to make 2013 the best year yet?

What are your resolutions/goals if you declare them during the new year? Share in the comments below! 

We are human beings and I teach children that practice makes better, not perfect. My idea for monthly resolutions is not striving towards perfection. Following Gretchin Rubin's The Happiness Project, I am taking it month by month, challenging myself in areas that with some tweaking, will increase the happiness to my life!

 

February: Pure Love

This month is two-fold. What I missed last month was my beginning of the year household clear out! There is this guy on facebook I have seen pop-up in several feeds named Peter Walsh. He posted a one minute video every single day for the month of January called 31 Days to Get Organized. The tasks are no longer than 10-15 minutes long. After thinking about this for a month, I am going to take on 28 Days to clear out and clean up!

 

28 Days to Clear Out and Clean Up!

Day One: Clothing-organize both mine and the kids.

Day Two: Shoes

Day Three: Kitchen Utensils

Day Four: Pens and Pencils

Day Five: My car

Day Six: Pots, pans and small appliances

Day Seven: Linen closets (I struggle with this one)

Day Eight: Go through junk drawers.

Day Nine: Go through our books. Save and donate.

Day Ten: The laundry room cabinets (this might be longer than 10-15 minutes!)

Day Eleven: Purge files and paperwork.

Day Twelve: The tupperware and kids dish drawers.

Day Thirteen: Kid's craft supply and game cabinets.

Day Fourteen: Emails-delete and organize my folders.

Day Fifteen: My files on my computer. Delete and organize into folders.

Day Sixteen: My jewelry

Day Eighteen: Blankets-we have so many. I want to take some to the new office space/man cave.

Day Nineteen: Coats, jackets, purses and bags.

Day Twenty: My office boxes. Recycle old electronics and cords.

Day Twenty-one: Cookbooks and recipes.

Day Twenty-two: Photo albums.

Day Twenty-three: Spices and baking supplies.

Day Twenty-four: Gift area. I like to buy things randomly that I like to give as a gift later on. The storage for this stuff is unorganized.

Day Twenty-five: Update babybooks, email my girls and write in their journals.

Day Twenty-six: My teaching supplies. 

Day Twenty-seven:

Day Twenty-eight:

 

Finally, this is a hard topic. A few years ago, Dave and I sat down with an estate attorney and created a trust, will and all those other very grown-up scary documents. Our attorney told us if we ever wanted to write letters to people in our lives, in the case of something happening, he would hold onto those letters for us and distribute them. I know the chances of something happening to me are very slim but I have thought about this time and time again. I am going to write my love letters this month.

 

January: Learn

Follow-up This month I wanted to learn something new. I committed to doing this in three ways.

1. Learn to load the dishwasher. Check. It still doesn't look professional but with all the plastic servingware I am getting in there, I am not sure that's possible. Thanks to my pal Erica, I am able to fit more into my dishwasher with some organization!

2. Learn about the instrument I play. Play the piano twice a week. My phone reminder was fun. Every Wednesday and Sunday morning it reminded me to play the piano. I wasn't always able to stop what I was doing to practice. I will continue to work on this goal! 

3. Learn to share my love. I participated in the Happier at Home 21 Day Relationship Challenge. I signed up for this challenge to learn some new, creative ways to show my appreciation to those I love in my life. I don't see my home lacking in love but why not learn more about vulnerability and authenticity? My favorite things I learned: Don't keep score, create a threshold ritual, and kiss in the morning and at night. 

 

One Little Word:

I have followed Ali Edwards project "One Little Word" for two years now. My word for 2011 was Peace and my word for 2012 was Balance. I've never taken her class but I have incorporated my word into my monthly goals/wishes/resolutions. Here's how to come up with a word (from Ali). My word for 2013 is Grace.

 

Can you identify a single word that sums up what you want for yourself in 2013?

It can be something tangible or intangible. It can be a thought, a feeling, or an emotion. It can be singular or plural. The key is to find something that has personal meaning for you. This is not your mother's word or your spouse's word or your child's word—this is YOUR word.

One little word can have big meaning in your life if you allow yourself to be open to the possibilities. And here's one thing that is totally interesting: sometimes a word will pop into your brain and it will not make any sense to you right now. Give it some time. Let it percolate a bit. I have often found that our heart speaks to us in very unique ways. Maybe this is a word you need to hear but just aren't ready for it yet.

Again, be open to the possibilities.

 

 

Health-and-Wellness Fri, 01 Feb 2013 00:56:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/2/welcome-february
Books That Teach Leadership http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/books-that-teach-leadership

It's Make a Difference Monthly! For those of you new to my blog, I am a children's book author who is passionate about making a difference in the lives of children everywhere. I think it's important that children are taught to be responsible, empathetic and kind individuals and contribute in great ways in the world!

 

In January 2013 I spoke about teaching children the character trait Leadership. 

If you want to check out other character trait lessons go here. From April 2012-December 2012 I was super lucky to have Education Bloggers contribute to Make A Difference Monthly.

 

Here are some book suggestions for preschool and elementary-aged children 

that will help you illustrate and teach leadership in an age-appropriate manner.

 

Being A Leader by Cassie Mayer

 

President's Day by Anne Rockwell

 

How to Be a Superhero by Rachel Yu

 

Brave Irene by William Steig

 

The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola

 

If Everybody Did by JoAnn Stover

 

Being a Leader by Robin Nelson

 

Elmer by David McKee

 

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell

 

Make-A-Difference-Monthly Book-Reviews Wed, 30 Jan 2013 19:50:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/books-that-teach-leadership
Happy Wednesday http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/happy-wednesday

  

 

 

Image Credit.

Family-Fun Wed, 30 Jan 2013 00:55:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/happy-wednesday
January-Learn Three Things http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/learn-dishwasher

One of the things I committed to learning this month was to load the dishwasher more efficiently.

 

Check out my example, below. Need I say more? My pal Erica showed me the way. It's not so much learning the correct way but taking the time to do it properly. I can do this!

 

 

Health-and-Wellness Author-Adventures Tue, 29 Jan 2013 00:11:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/learn-dishwasher
Courage Defined-Jill's Story http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/courage-defined-jills-story

'The Light That Shines' a story for all from InBedWithSue.com on Vimeo.

 

This is a fifteen minute documentary of a beautiful, courageous woman. She was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in her early thirties. She is still fighting today. She has a mission that is shared in the video that we hope will be shared across the world. In just 24 hours, this video was viewed 50,000 times. Please share it in anyway you can. 

 

I love how this video came to fruition. Jill's best friend, Nikki,  took a leap of faith and emailed an Austrailian photography that she admired. The photographer, Sue Bryce, was moved by Nikki's email that illustrated friendship, love and a woman who despite a terrible prognosis, remains full of life. Sue surprised both Jill and Nikki with a TRIP TO PARIS to do a photoshoot with the two girls along with an amazing team of photographers and videographers. I love this power of paying it forward! I also adore the incredible bond between two friends.

 

The story of how Jill discovered she had cancer was shared in this interview. I talk a lot about following your gut, being in tune with your body, etc. Jill had a feeling something was wrong...a woman's intuition.

 

Find out ways to help Jill on her courageous journey here.

 

I hope this video will inspire you to appreciate each day and to be your own advocate when it comes to your health!

 

 

Health-and-Wellness Mon, 28 Jan 2013 00:16:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/courage-defined-jills-story
A Winter Weekend http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/a-winter-weekend

The weather this weekend has been perfect. Winter snow on the ground, sunshine and average winter temperatures. We were pleasantly surprised when we saw our neighbor shoveled an ice skating rink behind our house. He did it for our daughter but before she could hit the ice, my husband and I went out to warm up! It was actually a bit scary. Enter vulnerability. My arms were flailing and it just didn't feel like it did when I was in my twenties! As I sit here typing this, I can feel certain areas ache that haven't ached in forever! Ha ha! I'm practicing what I preach---enjoy every day. Even when a Michigan winter hits---get out there and enjoy the seasons change!

 

 

 

 

 

Family-Fun Sun, 27 Jan 2013 00:29:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/a-winter-weekend
Little Fans! http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/little-fans

Here's a shout out to all of my little fans out there! I had a fantastic week presenting to grades K-4 students and was reminded of 

how important my role truly is. Captivating my young audience with the messages my books carry, to then make a difference in their lives... I've found my calling!

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Sat, 26 Jan 2013 00:19:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/little-fans
My Week in Photos http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/week-in-photos

I'm back after a few days off of blogging following the two week Potato Chip Champ Tour.

 

Last year I took pictures on Instagram each week and documented our week-by-week happenings in a 52-page Shutterfly Book. When my husband Dave looked at it, he smiled really big and said "This is great. It's captured so much!" But it was a lot of work and I'm not doing it again! Instagram is a lot of fun and my husband really enjoyed my daily picture taking so that he could be in tune with what we were doing at home while he was at work. I thought I would share my week in photos for you to get a glimpse (only a glimpse people, I did not document every tantrum my girls had and every cup of coffee I drank to keep myself going!) Again, I made 52 of these last year, one for each week! P.S. I do not open instagram up to the public. I am followed by my husband, sister and a few girlfriends.

 

Not in chronological order but from left to right.

1. Celebrating Hannukah (a little late) with family. 

2. Making mini donuts (thank you Nana for the Hannukah gift) for breakfast with Grandma.

3. Hot cocoa and coffee by the fire while putting together a Little Mermaid puzzle.

4. Baby girl playing with her new easel.

5. Lunch date with my husband. I ate the best salad in town. Roasted beets, walnuts, red onions and goat cheese with balsamic vinegar.

6. Library storytime and play in the puppet theater (this was after spending 45 minutes in line at the post office and being yelled at by an employee because my daughter and I were playing I Spy and she climbed the shelf to point to the sad looking dog she spotted! I handled it with love and kindness. :)

7. Computer time at the library. Loving the sunshine on this very cold day.

8. Sunday school fun with mama.

9. SNOW!!!

10. Painting. O week. O is for orange, owl, outerspace, octopus, etc.

11. Obsessing over my girl's artwork. I love her people! This was part of a Hannukah thank you card we mailed.

12. Coffee. Lots of it. I presented two days this week to elementary schools and I give it 150% The coffee is a great start to my day!

13. Home office. We are almost finished with a really fun project at our house. Can you spot the his and her desks?

14. Homeschooling. O is for owls. An owl scavenger hunt.

15. The not so glorious parts of my week (cleaning my hair out of bathroom drains). The cleaning and up keep of the house. The parts I try not to complain about because I love being home with my girls!

16. Picking up our milk from the church parking lot. Hick's Dairy for our milk and Creswick Farms for our meat and eggs.

 17. Getting outside for some exercise. I like this option because I can still sleep in till 7 and get a workout in before dave leaves and the girls are wide awake. It's only 45 minutes but it does the trick! 

 

Not pictured: Falling asleep at 7:00 pm on Wednesday night, the mad dash to get my girl to her dance lesson on time, teaching aerobics before the sunrises, my piano practicing attempts gone bad, sobbing while watching the last Parenthood episode (is it over forever?), flailing across town looking for a special plant for a homeschooling lesson, and the dance parties we have almost nightly at our house (complete with our new instruments from Hanukkah and a disco ball from Christmas.)

 

Here's to living each day to the fullest and doing what you love!

 

Every day is a gift, that's why we call it the present!

~ Anonymous

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Fri, 25 Jan 2013 00:30:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/week-in-photos
Last Day of the Tour http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/last-day-of-the-tour

Hello Readers! Today is the LAST day of the tour. ONE LAST chance for you to win an autographed copy of my book!

There is a guest post of mine with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics. Head over there and check it out. Don't forget to enter to win...

 

 

 

My friend Erin Klein over at Kleinspiration also posted her fabulous review over on 

her blog today. Thank you so much for all the love and kindness Erin! I am super 

happy that the internet world brought us together!!!!

 

Erin and I skyped a few weeks ago when she worked with me to learn more about having sponsers on my blog. I was visited by spiderman during our Skype call and decided to be a pirate in the spirit of her little one! I couldn't help but snap a picture :) 

Author-Adventures Mon, 21 Jan 2013 00:14:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/last-day-of-the-tour
Primary Graffiti & Sweet Nicks http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/primary-grafitti-sweet-nicks

Two wonderful ladies to introduce you to today. First is Cheryl from Primary Grafitti. Cheryl has created mini units to support my books Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun and Pink Tiara Cookies in the past.  Another teaching blog that you will want to bookmark for reading daily as you will get loads of ideas and freebies for your class!

 

Blogger number two is Cate from Sweet Nicks. It is one of the only non-teacher blogs that I invited to the tour. I respect this mother for what she stands for and her creative writing. I can't help but appreciate the positive review she wrote for my first book, Spaghetti in A Hot Dog Bun back in October last year. 

Author-Adventures Sun, 20 Jan 2013 06:15:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/primary-grafitti-sweet-nicks
Run! Miss Nelson Has the Camera! http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/run-miss-nelson-has-the-camera

Visit Miss Nelson's Blog this weekend. She has super jazzy resources that are either offered free or for sale in her TPT store. She has so many good ideas to use in the classroom that she posts almost daily! In May, she posted about diversity and respect using my other titles. It is a good blog post to read for not only teachers but parents with preschool and elementary age children.

 

She is offering a giveaway so be sure to head over there now and enter to win!

Author-Adventures Sat, 19 Jan 2013 00:12:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/run-miss-nelson-has-the-camera
Four Open GIVEAWAYS and a Swell Guy http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/-swell-guy-mlkjr

Giveaways still open and ready for YOU to enter to win an autographed copy of my new book, The Potato Chip Champ...

Blog: Learning with Mrs. Parker

Blog: Journey of A Substitute Teacher

Blog: Second Grade Math Maniac

Blog: Chalk Talk

 

Welcome Kelle Hampton friends!!!  If you are visiting after reading about her mention of my books, click the links above for easy entries for a chance to win an autographed copy of my book! I hope you will continue to follow me as I write positive posts to inspire us all to "Be The Difference" out there in the world!

 

 

Yesterday we talked about Martin Luther King Jr. over breakfast and coffee. I took time to talk to my daughter about not only what MLK Jr. did for us but I extended the less on to talk about what she would/could do if she were in a situation where others did not want to play with her because of the way she looked. Afterwards, I gave her some paint to create a portrait of the man who had a dream, and whose dream came true.

 

Check out my post from last year on how I taught my two year old about MLK JR. There are some really great book suggestions for teaching about differences and links to videos that illustrate this concept.

 

 

Author-Adventures Fri, 18 Jan 2013 00:42:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/-swell-guy-mlkjr
Two for One! http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/mrsk-chalk-talk

We are lucky because today there are two bloggers posting on the tour!

 

1. Welcome Mrs. K and thank you for participating in the blog tour on such short notice! I was contacted by Laurel last week and invited her to join us. She is a new blogger so please head on over to her blog, show her some love with comments and by joining her page!

 

2. Thank you April from Chalk Talk for posting on the tour. I love your blog and am excited about your recent ideas you posted. We will be making MLK Jr. portraits like you did. That's the great thing about the blogging world, there are ideas galore out there!

 

Readers, this is such an exciting time for you. There are chances to win everyday for 14 days to win an autographed copy of my book, The Potato Chip Champ. Scroll through links on posts from the last few days for your chance to enter to win (some contests from last week have been closed already.)

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Thu, 17 Jan 2013 00:02:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/mrsk-chalk-talk
Learning with Mrs. Parker-Sharing with Bryan Chick http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/mrs-parker-bryan-chick

I am elated to introduce you to the Mrs. Parker. She is today's blogger for The Potato Chip Champ Blog tour! 

 

 

Head on over to her fabulous blog filled with teaching ideas that connect to the Common Core.

 

Sharing with Bryan Chick? I met with a Michigan author yesterday and shared ideas on what we do at our school assemblies, his experiences with his publisher and my experiences looking for an agent/publisher. It was an inspiring visit. Bryan said some things that really motivated me and boosted my confidence in my search for something bigger and better in the publishing business. Remember a week ago when I blogged about trying something different in order to work with the agent of my dreams? Unfortunately, I received a big fat NO from that agent. I was sad for a few minutes and have moved on! Literally, my 2013 goal in my business is to find a company or agent to work with and it's only January 15th. It's going to work out :)

 

Anyhow, I want you to check out Bryan's work. He has four books and it sounds like one or two that are getting ready to be released. His series is called The Secret Zoo. I haven't read any of the books yet but thanks to Bryan's generosity I will read them soon (and I will share my thoughts with you here!)

 

This month's article I wrote on The Beaumont Parenting Blog is about Kindle Fire and Ipad App recommendations!

Author-Adventures Wed, 16 Jan 2013 00:33:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/mrs-parker-bryan-chick
Official Launch! http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/book-launch-readers-guide

 

Thank you Tanja for your post on your blog, Journey of a Substitute Teacher for the blog tour. Enter to win an autographed copy of The Potato Chip Champ today! Be sure to check out her Freebies page. Ms. T. has a ton of great stuff on her blog!!!

The Official Launch Party was yesterday afternoon. It was a whirlwind and usually is. I never feel like I get to talk to all the visitors as much as I would like to! It goes by so quickly. Thank you Better Made for the bags of chips you donated to giveaway. Thank you Buttercream Bakeshop for the amazing cake and cookies. My family, my friends, I appreciate your support so much! I can't forget to thank Biggby for hosting the party! And last but surely not least, my friend Meg who stepped in and helped out when I had a last minute cancellation. I really do value your commitment to show up in our friendship!

 

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Tue, 15 Jan 2013 00:53:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/book-launch-readers-guide
Grace http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/grace

Today's stop on the blog tour is at Runde's Room. Jen Runde is the awesome educator who wrote The Potato Chip Champ Reader's Guide. It is jam packed with lessons from reading, writing and math to social studies, character activities and songs to sing! And guess what? It's FREE!!!

 

My thoughts on Grace...

 

My One Little Word this year is Grace. Grace has ten different explanations under the definition online. Here are the two that really speak to me: 1. Grace is a disposition to be generous or helpful; goodwill. 2. Grace is a favor rendered by one who need not do so. 

 

In the face of some difficult situations this last week with work, I was able to put my one little word to work. I found myself being vulnerable. Really thinking and feeling my feelings before reacting. It was a great week of learning for me. Here is just one of my experiences...

 

I teach two classes at the gym on Saturday mornings, cycle and core. As I was cleaning up and getting ready to leave, I noticed that the instructor hadn't shown up for the next class, yoga. There were close to fifty people waiting on their mats and no instructor. I looked for the phone list to call her and see what was going on and I couldn't find it. I started to panic. I ran downstairs and found a manager to talk to. We called my boss who was at a training and didn't have his phone with him. You know how when you are in an intense situation and nothing seems to be working out? That's how I felt. Like a bad dream. Here were my choices: teach the class or tell them there was no instructor. I told the manager my fears, I hadn't taught yoga in about five years. Yes, I take it weekly but that's very different than teaching it. With his encouragement, I decided to teach the class. The alternative would have left almost fifty people disappointed and discouraged about the integrity of my team.

 

It was out of my comfort zone. I was opening myself up to being vulnerable, to the possibilty of failing. I am a prepared individual and this was sooooooo out of my character. I don't like failure and avoid it at all costs. I found a yoga cd in someone's file and taught the class. The class seemed to drag on. It was so hard for me. It wasn't the greatest yoga class. I was able to get them into a few good flows, deep stretches. But still, it is not something I prepared for. Near the end when I was getting everyone into their relaxation pose, my favorite part of class, I wanted to jump up and down and shout "I did it!" I could have walked away and pretended I didn't notice there was not an instructor. I could have lied and said I had a doctor's appointment. But I chose to handle it with Grace. (note: it was an oversight as to why no one was there to teach and that RARELY happens!)

 

"Even if letting ourselves be seen and opening ourselves up to judgment or disappointment feels terrifying, the alternatives are worse: Choosing to feel nothing -- numbing. Choosing to perfect, perform, and please our way out of vulnerability." Brene Brown

 

This morning I woke up, grabbed my phone and headed out the door to teach a class. As I looked down at my phone I noticed I had a new message on Facebook. It was from my coach in a Leadership Course I had taken back in 2009. We are friends on facebook so we are able to see what each other is up to (via news feeds!) His words came at the perfect time. It made me think about how awesome it is for someone to acknowledge someone else---you never know what they are dealing with or going through and you just never know how MUCH it will mean to them. I did not mention this yoga experience on facebook or my other work struggles.

 

Here's what he said:  It is not often in my lifetime where I have been allowed to witness someone who showed up, made a choice, completed on their word, created a partnership with their mate, committed to making a difference in the World and been unstoppable on that commitment. I acknowledge your contribution and appreciate your commitment. You are a Leader Creating Leaders.

 

This is what I ask of you, my readers. Send a text, an email, a letter, make a phone call, or whatever means of communication you choose. Reach out to someone today, just because. You never know what they are dealing with. You might just make a difference!

 

Health-and-Wellness Sun, 13 Jan 2013 00:44:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/grace
The Tour Continues & Thoughts on Raising Girls http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/second-grade-math-maniac-and-raising-girls

 

 

 

 


 

Today's blogger is Casey from Second Grade Math Maniac. Check out her website for a chance to win a copy of my book!

This afternoon I will be celebrating the release of The Potato Chip Champ with fans here in Michigan at my Official Book Release Party.

I am really looking forward to the event.

 

I wanted to take a few moments to share my thoughts on raising two little girls. I think about the fact that I am their number one role model right now all the time. It scares me but then again it makes me so happy that it's me and not someone else. A friend of mine runs an organization called Kids Empowered. She sends out a newsletter and this week there was a startling statistic, that 78% of girls are unhappy with their bodies.

 

 

Kimber continued with... 

We need to fill the lives of our girls (and boys) with more meaning and purpose so how they look and what material things they have does not dictate how they feel about who they are.

 

Cameron Russell, the catwalk superstar participated in the TEDx MidAtlantic session which was titled 'Be Fearless'. For Russell, being fearless meant being honest.

 

This is a great way to talk to our girls about image, privilege, being insecure but more importantly living a life with acceptance of yourself and others, loving yourself and others, and doing good in the world."

 

Check out the video here.

 

 

How we talk about ourselves and view our bodies is portrayed to our children. If we value materials and posessions over what's really important, our children see this. I want to continue doing good things in the world, loving myself authentically and acknowledging my feelings for my family out loud. I want my girls to witness their mama loving life, even with its ups and downs!

 

I had lunch with a friend yesterday and we talked about "Mom Guilt" It looks different for everyone. Our conversation kept circling back to the fact that we know we don't know all the answers when it comes to parenting. But we try our best and that matters a lot.

 

I love, love, LOVE this post by Kelle Hampton. She hits home when she declares the following when in regards to parenting... 

A: Get passionate about something important. Bring your passion to the table. Do something about it. Talk about it. B: Accept that you don't know jack about a lot of stuff. The minute you admit that, you'll start to know jack.

 

 I like her thoughts on raising her girls. Her words inspire me.

 

 

Author-Adventures Sat, 12 Jan 2013 12:33:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/second-grade-math-maniac-and-raising-girls
From Sea to Shining Sea! http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/chalk-talk-blog-tour

From Texas and New Jersey to Florida and Arizona this blog tour is moving from state to state!

 

Today's blogger unexpectedly dropped out so I wanted to highlight a review that was posted a few weeks ago. 

Kelle Hampton is a mom blogger who has soooooo many followers! She writes from her heart. Her blog is super positive, warm and constantly inspires me to do great things! Check out her blog, Enjoying the Small Things.

 

And here is what is going on over here in Michigan. We had a few really great days to play in the snow this week before it melted and we hit a record 57 degrees!

 

 

Author-Adventures Fri, 11 Jan 2013 15:30:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/chalk-talk-blog-tour
Fantastic Friday-Michigan Blogger http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/fantastic-friday

 

 

Today's stop on the blog tour is over at Christina Bainbridge's blog. Christina is a Michigan Blogger that I met over the summer at our Blogger Meet Up. Christina has a fabulous following and blog. She has loads of freebies, creative ideas and wonderful fonts that are for sale here.

I am thrilled she is a part of this tour! My line-up of teachers is quite impressive. I think you will agree!

 

Thank you Christina!

 

Do you want to win an autographed copy of my new book, The Potato Chip Champ?

Visit some other bloggers on my Virtual Book Tour...

Barbara at The Corner on Character

Lori at Teaching with Love and Laughter

Misty at Think, Wonder & Teach

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Fri, 11 Jan 2013 00:38:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/fantastic-friday
The Tour Continues & A Craft http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/book-tour-continues-christmas-cards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Potato Chip Champ Virtual Blog Tour continues today as we visit Nicole from Rowdy in Room 300

 

Nicole posts lessons and activities for the classroom every week (sometimes twice and three times in a week!) Her stuff is great! I also love that she offers free fonts on her blog. Every now and then she will write about things like organizing her kid's bathroom and you know I love to organize! I think it's a well rounded blog that teachers and mamas will enjoy so head on over to meet Nicole!

 

Here is a quick craft that I wanted to mention before you throw away all of your holiday cards. I love saving the picture cards. They are so much fun to go back and look through year after year. I printed out a template for the cover and had it laminated at our local Fedex Kinkos. I also laminated a black piece of construction paper the same size for the back. Then I organized all of my cards by size (my three-year helped me with this part) hold punched the cards and put the book together with book rings. I have my cards saved since 2005!!

 

P.S. The template for the card book is from iheartorganizing. You will love her website!

 

Author-Adventures Literacy Thu, 10 Jan 2013 00:27:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/book-tour-continues-christmas-cards
Think, Wonder & Teach http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/think-wonder-teach

 

Misty is a blogger I met about six months ago through the online community. She has been very loyal and helpful to me and I am so thankful. 

Through some very thick and thin times, Misty has pulled through on her commitments and I really appreciate it. She is a great example of someone with integrity!

 

Head on over to her blog today to read an AMAZING story of what my new book did for her children and students at their school. It is heartwarming and made my heart jump for joy when I first heard about it. Are you intrigued? Head on over to Think, Wonder & Teach!

 

 

Author-Adventures Wed, 09 Jan 2013 00:32:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/think-wonder-teach
Teaching With Love and Laughter http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/teaching-with-love-and-laughter

Today's stop on the Virtual Book Tour is with Lori over at Teaching with Love and Laughter.

She is offering a Giveaway with simple instructions for entering to win!

 

Lori has an excellent website and offers a ton of Freebies from her TPT (Teachers Pay Teachers) website. 

If you are an educator and haven't yet discovered TPT, be sure to head on over there. It is a website filled with resources shared by teachers. Why reinvent the wheel?

 

Lori is a talented teacher who is super passionate about what she does. Check out her website today!

 

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Tue, 08 Jan 2013 00:21:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/teaching-with-love-and-laughter
Virtual Book Tour & Book Review-Daring Greatly by Brene Brown http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/daring-greatly-book-tour

It's a special day. The first day on the Virtual Blog Tour of my newest book, The Potato Chip Champ.

 

Each day for two weeks, a different blogger buddy of mine will post a review on my new book and will offer a giveaway. It is a great way to win prizes as well as meet new teacher and parent bloggers out there. The network I am part of is amazing. They are generous and knowledgeable people. I honestly can't believe what I have learned from these women (any guy bloggers that want to join in? I don't know any!!!!) since I joined the blogging community.

 

My first blogger buddy was Barbara. Barbara is a National Character Coach and counselor. She blogs regularly (probably 360/365 days a year, and all posts are truly worthwhile reads) and introduced me to a ton of my connections. Then I started meeting other people on my own who knew Barbara and I soon learned that it truly is a small world after all!

 

As I finished writing this book, I wanted to give not only to the children out there reading the story, but to parents as well. I wanted to provide parents with a simple set of ideas on what they could do at home to support their children. I knew exactly who I wanted to collaborate with, Barbara. I consider her the guru on character and she proved it in a stellar page of resources for families!

 

Barbara wrote a book review on Friday on her blog. Today she is helping kick off the tour with a super swell post. Thank you Babara.

 

Go check out Barbara's post and come back to read my book review (below) on Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. I wanted to get this review in on the first day of the tour because it goes along so nicely with the premise of my children's book. Brene Brown writes about the importance of paying attention to our own character and behaviors when it comes to parenting.

 

Book Review:

Daring Greatly  by: Brene Brown

 

For years I measured my worthiness on the opinions of others. It affected me in so many ways. I bent over backwards to succeed. Often times missing out on what was happening around me because I felt I needed to overachieve to win the approval of others. Unless I added to my list of achievements, I didn't feel good enough. 

 

Pretty deep huh? What happened next changed me forever. I trusted a friend when she told me to invest some money into a weekend long workshop. It rocked my world. So much that my husband wanted whatever it was that I got out of that weekend. I was transformed and free from so many heavy, complicated feelings that sat on my shoulders for years. You see, it's hard to put into words. You just walked away having a sense of peace, assurance, confidence, awareness of who you really were and what your true purpose was...and most importantly, I was given the gift of COURAGE  to make a difference in my career, my marriage, my friendships, the world! 

 

As I read Brene Brown's book, Daring Greatly, I found myself slowing down, highlighting, re-reading and comparing so much of what she said 

to my experience at Landmark Education. Brene spent years researching vulnerability and shame. She recaps her findings in an extraordinary book. Below are some quotes from the book that will stay with me. If any of the following bits speak to you, I recommend you check out the book. And if you get tired thinking about all the time you waste on worrying and thinking about what others are thinking about this and that and you and them, get this book. You deserve something better than that.

 

Shame: To practice shame resilience, we must practice authenticity when we experience shame, to move through the experience without sacrificing our calues, and to come out on the to other side of shame experience with more courage, compassion, and connection than we had going into it.

 

Empathy-It's connecting with the emotion that someone is experiencing, not the event of the circumstance.

 

Judgement-We are hard on others because we are hard on ourselves. That's exactly how judgement works. Finding someone to put down, judge, or criticize becomes a way to get out of the web or call attention away from our box. If you're doing worse than I am at something, I think, my chances of surviving are better.

 

Worthiness-the greatest lesson is this: If we're going to find our way out of shame and back to each other, vulnerability is the path and courage is the light. To set down those lists of what we're supposed to be is brace. To love ourselves and support each other in the process of becoming real is perhaps the greatest single act of daring greatly.

 

Wholeheartedness-The opposite of scarcity is enough, or what I call "Wholeheartedness"...at its very core is vulnerability and worthiness: facing uncertainty, exposure, and emotional risks, and knowing that I am enough.

 

Vulnerability-is uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. It is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.

 

Parenting-That's why parents are so crtical of one another-we latch on to a method or approach and very quickly our way becomes the way. When we obsess over our parenting choices to the extent that most of us do, and then see someone else making different choices, we often perceive that difference as direct criticism of how we are parenting.

 

Most of us are wading through uncertainty and self-doubt when it comes to raising our children...my underlying fear of not being the perfect parent is driving my need to confirm that, at the very least, I'm better than you. Somewhere buried deep inside our hopes and fears for our children is the terrifying truth that there is no such thing as perfect parenting and there are no guarantees.

 

The most important parenting truth (that Brene learned from her research) Who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do than what we know about parenting. 

I have no doubt, however, that when it comes to our sense of love, belonging, and worthiness, we are most radically shaped by our families of origin-what we hear, what we are told, and perhaps most importantly, how we observe our parents engaging with the world.

 

In terms of teaching our children to dare greatly in the "never enough" culture, the question isn't so much "Are you parenting the right way?" as it is "Are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be?"

We need to separate our children from their behaviors. When we shame and label our children, we take away their opportunity to grow and try on new behaviors. If a child tells a lie, she can change that behavior. If she is a liar-where's the potential for change in that?  

 

By the time children are four and five, we can explain to them the different between guilt and shame, and how much we love them even when they make bad choices. (from Maria-They are not "a bad boy" they made "a bad choice")

 

Hope: is learned. Children with high levels of hopefullness have experience with adversity. They've been given the opportunity to struggle and in doing that they learn how to believe in themselves.

 

Finally-Brene offers free downloads on her website. Her parenting manifesto is one I printed to hang in our kitchen as a beautiful reminder of what I want for my children and how being a good person myself will help me be the parent my children so deserve.

You can find out more about Brene Brown on her website.

I highly recommend watching Brene's 18 minute TED Talk. I watched it twice.

It was that good.

 

Author-Adventures Book-Reviews Mon, 07 Jan 2013 00:29:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/daring-greatly-book-tour
35 Acts of Kindness for a 35th Birthday http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/thirty-five-raks

Last night we celebrated a friend's 35th birthday. 

In celebration, we completed thirty-five acts of kindness. 

 

Here's what we did:

1. Write a thank you note to someone for special reason
2. Leave money in someone's pocket for them to find later

3. Drop off clothes at a donation bin

4. Leave coins on a horse ride at the grocery store

5. Give sand toys to another family on vacation
6. Hold the door open for someone
7. Say Please and Thank you to the wait staff
8. Donate a bag of clothes to the needy
9. Leave a giftcard at a bus stop
10. Put a giftcard on someone's car
11. Give a cake to the birthday girl
12. Leave nice comments on someone's facebook photos or status
13. Say "Hi" to a stranger
14. Drop a bunch of pennies on the streets for people to find!
15. Leave a generous tip to our waiter/waitress
16. Leave a book at a coffee shop for others to have
17. Send a nice text message out of the blue to someone
18. Send a nice text message out of the blue to someone
19. Send a nice text message out of the blue to someone
20. Send a nice text message out of the blue to someone
21. Send a nice text message out of the blue to someone
22. Write a secret note for someone in your house to hide for them to find to brighten their day.

23. Tape a free car wash to someone's car

24. Post a "Give A Compliment" sign in town

25. Offer some dessert (rainbow cake) to a homeless person (the first person we approached was diabetic and passed on the offering!) 

26. Give a lottery ticket to a stranger

27. Post a "Take One" sign somewhere in town
28. Leave a scratch off lottery ticket on a car 
29. Give a lottery ticket to a waiter
30. Buy hot cocoa and give to the Salvation Army workers
31. Place a positive quote somewhere for others to see
32. Place a positive quote somewhere for others to see
33. Place a positive quote somewhere for others to see
34. Say yes to filling in for someone at Sunday school
35. Pick up 5 pieces of trash

 

 

Family-Fun Sun, 06 Jan 2013 00:19:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/thirty-five-raks
2013-Find a Literary Agent http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/take-a-chance-finding-an-agent
Book Tour Update: My first blogger review is up over at The Corner on Character Blog. Thank you for such kind words Barbara! Visit Barbara's blog on Monday as she kicks off the two week Virtual Blog Tour for my book, The Potato Chip Champ.

 

If you are wondering what a Virtual Blog Tour is and how to host one yourself, check out the article I wrote for Authorpreneur Magazine

 

On Finding An Agent:

This year I am going to find a literary agent. I am ready to team up with a powerhouse agent to help me publish book #5 with a large publishing house. It's not easy to do, but I am not going to give up. I love the work I do now but I think it's time for something different. My 

friend Meg made a great point when she encouraged me to think outside of the box. When we do the same thing over and over again, we can't expect to see different results. She posted a few great posters on our Making Spirits Bright wall that go along with the same theory.

 

The following package was sent out this week to the agent of my dreams (Please, notice my work! Will this get your attention?) Writers all have one. My fingers are crossed. I am putting this out there because I am not afraid to hear no. I will get up and try again!



Photo Credits: Facebook

Author-Adventures Sat, 05 Jan 2013 00:36:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/take-a-chance-finding-an-agent
New Year's Wish http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/new-years-wish

For the last two years we have let off lanterns at midnight to celebrate the new year. You can purchase them here. As far as safety goes, we let them off over a lake and could see them drift off into the night sky for miles. Don't forget to make a wish as you let go!

 

Next week starts the blog tour for my new book, The Potato Chip Champ. It will last for two weeks.

Each day a different blogger will be featuring and reviewing my book. There will be a giveaway every single day! 14 chances to win!

 

Until then, here are a few links to some inspirational posters for the new year.

P.S. I am hoping to finish a really great book tonight and get a review up on the blog either Saturday or Sunday. Stay tuned...

 

For my readers who are teachers, check out this awesome new year's declaration sheet! It's free!

 

New Year's Poster Credit. There are a ton of other great posters on here as well.

 

Health-and-Wellness Fri, 04 Jan 2013 00:29:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/new-years-wish
Make A Difference Monthly-Leadership http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/make-a-difference-leadership

Make a Difference Monthly was a mission I started back in April of 2012. Writing about a certain character trait each month so that parents, teachers and caregivers can have resources to turn to when teaching children about character. At the beginning, I had a ton of bloggers link up their ideas and since then it's dwindled down. So, I am no longer treating this like a linky party but still plan to post my own resources and links to other resources.

 

To start the new year, I am going to talk about the character trait Leadership.There are four simple ways to teach young children about Leadership.

 

1. Role Models

Introduce them to leaders in our world and in the community. You can do this through children's literature, visiting a local museum or giving examples at their age level as to what attributes made this particular person a leader! Stay tuned later this month for a list of elementary aged books appropriate for introducing children to leaders.

 

2. Communication

Teaching children to communicate is important when it comes to being in a leadership role. When I taught first grade, I played a game with my students to help them with language development. This same game is now available in toy stores! It is called Hedbanz. Children wear an object on their head where they can not see it. They have to ask the other players yes and no questions in order to narrow down what the mystery object is on their head. The game requires critical thinking. It requires being able to think of yes and no questions. All very important skills we need when we are in a leadership role.

 

3. Plan

Being able to plan a large task is in the job description of leaders. Include your child in planninng events that are meaningful to them as they grow up. For example, have your child help you plan for their birthday party and teach them that planning for big events can be broken down into smaller tasks. I know this is how I plan for parties around here. I start a few months prior and write a long list of everything that needs to be done. I do a little at a time!

 

4. Compromise 

Being able to share is a tough task to learn, but it is a skill we all need to know. In our relationships at home and at work, we need to be able to compromise. Adults can help model sharing with preschoolers. Once children are in elementary school, they should be able to create a plan with their peers on how to share a certain toy or game. 

 

Picture credit: Pinterest

 

 

 

 

 

Make-A-Difference-Monthly Health-and-Wellness Thu, 03 Jan 2013 00:45:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/make-a-difference-leadership
One Little Word-2013 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/one-little-word

The new year, it's here. I am ready. 

 

One Little Word:

I have followed Ali Edwards project "One Little Word" for two years now. My word for 2011 was Peace and my word for 2012 was Balance. I've never taken her class but I have incorporated my word into my monthly goals/wishes/resolutions. Here's how to come up with a word (from Ali)

My word for 2013 is Grace

CHOOSING YOUR WORD

Can you identify a single word that sums up what you want for yourself in 2013?

It can be something tangible or intangible. It can be a thought, a feeling, or an emotion. It can be singular or plural. The key is to find something that has personal meaning for you. This is not your mother's word or your spouse's word or your child's word—this is YOUR word.

One little word can have big meaning in your life if you allow yourself to be open to the possibilities. And here's one thing that is totally interesting: sometimes a word will pop into your brain and it will not make any sense to you right now. Give it some time. Let it percolate a bit. I have often found that our heart speaks to us in very unique ways. Maybe this is a word you need to hear but just aren't ready for it yet.

Again, be open to the possibilities.

 

 

My Happiness Project:

Goals help me to get through the day and to remain focused on what is important. I work well when I have inspiration and motivation. A few friends also participated in monthly goal-based projects of their own last year and we were able to support one another. This year my husband is doing it too so there will be inspiration in my home!

 

Last year I started my own Happiness Project, inspired by Gretchin Rubin. Happier at Home came out earlier this year and I have decided to start another Happiness Project this year. If you would like to read about my 2012 project, click here.

 

The best part of blogging about my project? 

1. It holds me accountable. I am not sure who the 200+ readers are of this blog, but I know you are out there reading what I am saying I am going to do! It motivates me to do it knowing I've told you this!

2. I have managed to inspire others to start their own Happiness Project and that is simply THE CAT'S MEOW!!! Posting my monthly updates on Facebook has reached others besides simply blogging about it.

3. Writing is therapeutic for me. I grow when I write. Do I feel like I need to do this to be happier? No. I get a lot out of research and learning. It's important to me to do this but not necessary. In a way, I miss being a student. Reading, refelcting and doing feel good to me!

 

January: Learn

This month I want to learn something new. I commit to doing this in three ways.

1. Learn to be more efficient in cleaning.

Well, learn to load the dishwasher. Thanks to my friend Erica, I have someone to teach me. Seriously, I think this will help me to save time and energy if I stop throwing things in without any organization!

2. Learn about the instrument I play.

Play the piano twice a week. I took lessons for a few years growing up and a few years as an adult. I am going to set my alarm on my phone to remind me to play twice a week. My girls will love being a part of this!

3. Learn to share my love.

The Happier at Home 21 Day Relationship Challenge. I signed up for this challenge to learn some new, creative ways to show my appreciation to those I love in my life. I see it as going along with how much I love participating in Random Acts of Kindness. Someone once told me, it doesn't have to be broken to fix it. I don't see my home lacking in love but why not learn more about vulnerability and authenticity? 

 

 

Health-and-Wellness Wed, 02 Jan 2013 00:25:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/one-little-word
Take Five Interview-Grand Rapids http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/take-five-interview

 


Yesterday I was interviewed for Take Five, a show on Grand Rapids WZZM ABC affiliate channel. 

 

It was a fun adventure with a bff who came in the green room and on set with me!  A wonderful way to ring in the New Year...being with good friends and getting my message out there to the world.

 

Happy New Year readers!

 

 

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Tue, 01 Jan 2013 00:15:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2013/1/take-five-interview
My Happiness Project 2012 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/happiness-project-year-one

Tomorrow we will welcome 2013! Here is the wrap up of my year long Happiness Project, inspired by Gretchen Rubin. Stay tuned to my New Year's plan that will be posted on January 1st. I was inspired to go for another year of monthly goals after reading Happier At Home.

 

Review of 2012 Goals

 

January: Health

(learn about Gluten Free diets, start taking wheat grass shots, dry brushing, smoothies and hot water with lemon in the morning)

Follow-up: addicted to wheat grass and dry brushing. Smoothies and hot tea were more of a winter thing but now that fall is back again, I have started to drink tea again. I have learned to cook with less gluten but by no means am I completely gluten free or do I want to be.

 

February: Romance

(focus on my marriage, making time for each other, schedule date nights and make dave feel appreciated!)

Follow-up: Every other week date nights has been unreaslitic with our work and family schedules, but we have done really good on every other week lunch dates! We have also been making a lot of time for each other on the weekends, saying no more often and putting our family first.

 

March: Aim Higher (work) 

(revise my current programs, develop outlines for my new programs, work with Pure Heart Studios on new blog format)

Follow-Up: March was a great month for work. I had almost 100 student letters written to me that I "promised" to answer and I have! I revised my current programs, didn't get an outline for my new program yet and have launched a new program on my blog. I continue to aim higher in work. I am still in search of a literary agent. I queried about eight agents recently (December) and am envisioning signing a contract in 2013. 

 

April: Parenthood

(being present, a role model, say no less (lighten up), write my 10 commandments)

Follow-Up: I had an excellent month focusing on parenthood. We went without tv on most days and because I was so focused on the kids, it didn't make a difference that I didn't have the break on those days. I was able to talk to friends on the phone during nap time more and less while my girls were awake. I used a technique I read in The Happiness Project and I feel like it's a part of my daily language now! Instead of saying No, I say Yes. For example "Yes, you can have another cookie, tomorrow." Instead of contstantly nagging! We went to church on Daughter's Day and I gave the girls little gifts. I also try to plan outings with one girl at a time or as I call them, "dates".

 

May: Me, Me, Me

(focus on myself, more time for creative outlets, take time to learn new things!)

Follow-up: This portion sounds so self-centered while at the same time, it is really hard for me to find time for myself and let it be all about me, me, me! This month I got a hair cut. I painted my nails several times. I started yoga (again) and have been 4 weeks in a row now! I also signed up for a photoshop class (oh, how I love digital scrapbooking). I found that a mini-bucket list really inspired my creative juices! I wanted to go to sleep earlier and I didn't accomplish that one. That's the beauty of these monthly goals, I can refocus on this in the months to come!

 

June: Mid-Year Health

(focus on these healthy tasks: buy a dark glass bottle for my olive oil, (benefits here.), replace a few of my condiments with products that don't contain high fructose corn syrup, buy alternatives to using so many ziplock bags, make my own seasonings, organize my pantry and get rid of any expired items)

Follow-Up: I did it! I made a lot of progress this month thanks to my weekly bucket lists. I also made a bucket list for my LIFE here!!!

 

July: Religion

(sign up for the second class at our church to become a member, complete the workbook, schedule a meeting with a member at the church to learn about joining a small group.)

Follow-Up: I signed up for the second class but didn't end up taking it because I don't think it's needed now that I have talked with other members. I did meet with a church member and am now a member of a women's group called Mops (Mothers of Preschoolers)

 

August: Composting

(purchase a compost system and get started)

Follow-Up: This was a funny one to look back on. I ordered the wrong compost bin and it was too big! So I did some research, talked with my hubby about what would work for him and came up with a system that would work for our family. I tried for one week and I had more fruit flies than you can imagine. It was disgusting and the way I viewed composting changed drastically. The good news is that Dave and I have decided to start a vegetable garden next spring for the girls and I to tend to. I am super happy about this development and am at peace with giving up on the composting!

 

September: Homeschooling

(You can read about my decision to homeschool my three year old for preschool here.)

Follow-Up: My time spent with my big kid has been super special. I planned the entire month out. Being organized was helpful. So far I am enjoying it! It is a lot of work but I am seeing that the rewards are truly worth it.

 

October: Working From Home

(I work out of the home and it's not easy while raising two children.)

Follow-Up: The timer made me anxious so I only used that a few times. I found a few areas of work that I could actually delegate to others who could be paid and help me in trades I pretend I know what I am doing (Thank you, Meg and Maggie) I also have been making more realistic lists for the DAY tasks and everything else goes in my notebook. Out of sight, out of mind works well for me.

 

November: Make Time for Pleasure Reading

(Figure out times through out the day that I can read again)

Follow-Up: I found that first thing in the morning, when Dave is downstairs drinking coffee and reading to our big kid, the baby still sleeping, I can squeeze in a good 15 minutes of reading. It's not much but it adds up. I get about 30 minutes in before bed if I don't fall asleep. I was happy with my progress in reading this month. Especially since I read Happier At Home and have new ideas for my happiness project for next year!

 

December: Refocus on Tough Areas

 

1. Working from home is getting better because I leave one morning a week to work and because I am really sticking to my daily lists. I am being more realistic about what I can accomplish, which isn't always a lot in one day.

 

2. Yoga-after trying two different time slots this year and two different facilities, I found that the early morning at my gym works for me in being consistent. I no longer try to go at night or to a center that is about 15 minutes from my house. Consistency comes to me when there is some level of convenience involved.

 

Health-and-Wellness Mon, 31 Dec 2012 00:23:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/happiness-project-year-one
Homeschool Lessons Month #4 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/homeschooling-month-four

This month we had a lot going on in our family. My daughter had surgery (she's fully recovered) and the flu all within a two week period.

 

I've said that we are taking a break from school during the holidays but all I keep hearing is, "Mama, I want to do school. Let's do learning!"

Needless to say, I can't deny the girl! We are playing catch up before the new year approaches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family-Fun Literacy Sat, 29 Dec 2012 00:24:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/homeschooling-month-four
A Date with My Girl http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/date-with-my-girl

 

 

I write a lot on this blog about the importance of family and above all, balance. Making time for myself, my husband and my family are all parts of adding to my inner peace. It's not easy but recognizing that it's not and taking action make it better. I am almost done with the book Daring Greatly. A lot of the book talks about how women are super hard on themselves to be the perfect wife and the perfect mother. It also talks about how we judge other mothers and if we look at what we are judging them on, it typically stems from what we are insecure about in our own parenting. It discusses having compassion for other mothers, seeing them as a part of your team, instead of feeling like there's some sort of competition between you and them. I think there is a lot of truth to this. I am so hard on myself when we have an off day (my girls and I) which is truly a part of life!

 

This week I invited friends on a mother/daughter date. There were ten of us (we missed you Karen) who met up first for coffee and hot cocoa then we headed to the Children's Theater next door to see a musical. It was a special day and one I will cherish. Hearing little girls talk about Glenda the Good Witch and how she really wasn't a witch and my daughter whispering little questions in my ear every three or four minutes, it was precious!

 

We made it extra special by dressing up. I let her put on my red lipstick and she let me do her hair. You can see in the picture below that her sister wanted in on the action, jumping into the picture before we left the house! I don't think it has to be anything big, maybe a date to get hot cocoa with one of your kids.  

Family-Fun Fri, 28 Dec 2012 00:05:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/date-with-my-girl
Super Hero http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/super-hero

 

 

Just stopping in to say hello after a fun filled few days!

 

   

My oldest wanted a unicorn, microphone on a stand and a super hero cape from santa. Her dreams came true thanks to Santa and a few family members.

 

Hoping you made memories as well...

Family-Fun Wed, 26 Dec 2012 00:55:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/super-hero
Merry Christmas! http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/merry-christmas

Merry Christmas Readers! Thank you for all of your support this year.

Over the next week I have some important posts to write and share with you including my New Year's plan which will look similar to this year's Happiness Project.

 

Until then, enjoy the gift of being with loved ones during this time of year. 

Make a new tradition together by completing Random Acts of Kindness. You will see what a gift it is to you and not just the people you are helping. If you haven't already liked our non-profit page, Making Spirits Bright, be sure to do so! You will get positive updates and inspiration to live a full life filled with kindness and paying it forward.

 

From my favorite Christmas children's book, Auntie Claus...

 

It is far better to give than it is to receive, darling!

 

 

 

Family-Fun Mon, 24 Dec 2012 00:52:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/merry-christmas
Our Elf on the Shelf Adventures http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/elf-adventures

My sister bought our kiddos The Elf on the Shelf last Christmas. This year we had Georgie as a part of our family from the North Pole. 

Georgie has brought a ton of laughter and adventure to our family this month. I especially love the mornings my husband leans over and whispers in my ear "What about GEO...?" Between the two of us, it wasn't always easy to remember the parents role in all of this.

 

Take a look at some of Georgie's adventurous locations at our house in this picture collage!

 

P.S. If you have the Elf on the Shelf, don't forget to take full advantage of the website, complete with games, stationary, stories and more!

P.P.S. There is also an adorable 30 minute video on CBS called The Elf on The Shelf Movie

 

 

Family-Fun Sat, 22 Dec 2012 00:11:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/elf-adventures
North Pole Party http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12-north-pole-party

Kelle Hampton, a favorite blogger of mine knows how to throw a party! This is what she does, she invites her daughter's friends and moms over for a pajama party at her house. Then she transforms her home into the North Pole, complete with a framed picture of Santa and Mrs. Claus. This year she encouraged her readers to join in the fun. So we did!

 

We had my college roommates and their families over for a North Pole Party. Here are some pictures from the event and a list of some of the fun decorations and activities that were included!

 

  • Making reindeer food bags to set out on Christmas Eve
  • Reindeer water bottles
  • A framed picture of Santa and Mrs. Claus
  • Gifts for the kids to take home
  • Holiday Cds for the grown-ups ot take home
  • a holiday runway going up to the front door
  • A "Welcome To The North Pole" sign on the front door
  • A dear friend dressed up as an Elf running around the house. Then coming inside to deliver..
  • Individual letters from Santa
  • A reading of Twas' the Night before Christmas
  • Cookies and milk
  • The kids changed into their matching pjs for storytime
  • A gift exchange between the children---a wrapped children's book!

 

 

 

Family-Fun Fri, 21 Dec 2012 00:40:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12-north-pole-party
Book Review-The Tickle Monster http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/book-review-the-tickle-monster

My friend Danielle and I have a tradition that instead of buying gifts for each other, we buy a gift for each other's family.

 

I love, love, LOVE the gift we received this week at our 2nd Annual Pajama Party.

The Tickle Monster by: Josie Bissett. It's the PERFECT last minute holiday gift! You can buy just the book or the kit which includes the book, a nice box and a pair of fuzzy tickle monster gloves.

 

The book is fast paced, rhyming and very silly. It promotes a ton of tickling which leads to loads of laughter!

 

The picture below of Dave playing tickle monster is really bad quality but you can see a lot of laughter happening!

 

 

 

Family-Fun Book-Reviews Thu, 20 Dec 2012 00:03:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/book-review-the-tickle-monster
Making Spirits Bright-Annual Christmas Caroling http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/annual-caroling-making-spirits-bright

My friend Meg and I started a non-profit back in 2008. It's called Making Spirits Bright. Our mission is to inspire others to volunteer. 

 

We visit a local senior home every year for Christmas Caroling. This year might have been our biggest year yet! There was a room full of residents when we walked in for the event. We try to be organized, but we're not. We try to sing our hearts out, but we still can't carry a tune.The most important part is seeing our senior friends smile, laugh and clap their hands as they sing along. They especially like seeing our children dancing and prancing around the room.

 

When I spoke to the group on Sunday, I mentioned how it was a gift to us that they have us in their home for this event. It's so true. Volunteering brings so much joy and happiness not only to those who are giving their time, but to those who receive the rewards. It is my hope that my girls learn about compassion and love when we partake in events like this as a family.

 

Thank you to our friends who participated this year! 

 

 

Make-A-Difference-Monthly Family-Fun Wed, 19 Dec 2012 00:58:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/annual-caroling-making-spirits-bright
Books That Teach Compassion http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/books-that-teach-compassion

Make a Difference Monthly is a linky party that I started in April and will continue through April of 2013.

 

Each month bloggers link up with their ideas on how they teach a specific character trait either to their students or to their children at home.

 

This month we discussed the importance of teaching Compassion

 

Here are some book suggestions for preschool and elementary age children that model compassion.

 

1. The Hundred Dresses by: Eleanor Estes

 

2. Horace, Morris but Mostly Dolores by: James Howe

 

3. Great Joy by: Kate DiCamillo

 

4. Getting To Know by: Ruben Plotnick

 

5. Stellaluna by: Janell Cannon

 

6. Stone Soup by: Jon J. Math

 

7. Watch Your Tongue, Cecily Beasley by: Lane Fredrickson

 

8.Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by: Kevin Henkes

 

9. The Potato Chip Champ by: Maria Dismondy

 

Make-A-Difference-Monthly Book-Reviews Tue, 18 Dec 2012 00:38:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/books-that-teach-compassion
Book Tour Update http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/book-tour-update

Thank you Fox2 Detroit for having me on their weekend morning show on Sunday. I am so happy that our local news supports people who are working to make a difference! 

 

 

The morning was extra special because our good friend stayed the night and babysat the girls for us so that Dave could come on set with me. We hung out in the green room for a little bit (it's really green) then met the morning anchors before my time slot. Afterwards, we had a morning date at our favorite breakfast restaurant. The people at the restaurant were shocked to see us without the girls!


Author-Adventures Mon, 17 Dec 2012 00:39:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/book-tour-update
Day of Silence http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/day-of-silence

"Do your little bit of good where you are; 
it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world."
                                                                                              - Desmond Tutu

 

Guest-Bloggers Sun, 16 Dec 2012 00:00:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/day-of-silence
Book Review-Emily's Christmas Gifts http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/book-review-emilys-christmas-gifts

Yesterday I read Emily's Christmas Gifts by Cindy and Peggy Post to my girls. I was expecting it to be a book that preached holiday manners since it is part of the Emily Post children's library. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The story is about Emily who loves this time of year, not because she looks forward to getting gifts but because she is so excited to give them. She does a number of things as "gifts" such as helping others which do not require money to buy. Emily shows manners when her family hosts a holiday meal but everything is done in a witty, entertaining fashion. The book does not sound like it is preaching but modeling good behavior through Emily actions. Of course, Emily is happy on Christmas morning to open her gifts!

 

 

I read the book before naptime and when I went to join my husband and daughter before bedtime, my husband had already read the book (twice in one day, happens a lot around here) to her. He said he really liked it and "How about that letter to parents? That was great!" Yes, there is a letter to parents in the back that talks about the holidays and how to teach your children manners during times you might not think. For example, saying hello and goodbye to guests when you host a party and being thankful for gifts by writing thank you notes. I cherished this sentence the most, 

 

 

 

The most important thing you can give your children is the understanding that there are other gifts to give at Christmas--caring, sharing, helping, smiling and loving. -Cindy and Peggy Post

 

I recommend the book!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book-Reviews Fri, 14 Dec 2012 00:44:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/book-review-emilys-christmas-gifts
Bestselling Author Jonathan Rand http://mariadismondy.com/2012/bestselling-author-jonathan-rand

Tonight I had the honor of meeting bestselling Michigan author, Jonathan Rand. I was introduced to Jonathan a few years ago (via email) from a mutual friend and author, Kurt David. Jonathan has written sooooooo many books. So many that I went on Amazon to try and figure out how many and I couldn't! He writes two very popular series, American Chillers and Michigan Chillers. They are children's chapter books. It was really great to shake his hand and thank him in person this evening. The fact that I waited in a loooooonnnnnggg line of fans with my two girls pulling books off shelves, rolling around on the floor and destroying holiday displays didn't matter. It's funny because Kurt and I went back and forth via email for a long time before we ever met in person as well. I was at Costco with my daughter (plus 8 months pregnant) and I saw this really tall man. I mean really tall (over 6 foot is really tall for someone who is 4'11 3/4) and I approached him thinking he looked familiar. It was Kurt and he was with his two girls. Kurt continues to inspire me and encourage me to value my worth and talent as a presenter and author.

 

A few years ago, Jonathan gave me some really great advice. I was in a place where I needed to make some major decisions for my career and he chimed in and his words stuck with me. When I wanted to become an author, there were people in my life that said things along the lines of "you won't be able to make a living writing" and "you can't do it on your own." Those comments didn't scare me and they didn't hold me back.

 

Both Jonathan and Kurt encouraged me and I am so thankful for their support!

 

Later on in the evening while we were playing and reading in the children's area, my three year old pulled my book, Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun off the shelf. It was a special and proud moment for us both ;) 

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Thu, 13 Dec 2012 00:37:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/bestselling-author-jonathan-rand
Real Life Super Heros-Mothers http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/real-life-super-hero-mothers

Wednesday mornings I am home from teaching a spin class by 6:45, showered and ready before the family wakes up. It's my productive morning when I can usually get a few work tasks in before the sun rises!

 

This morning was different. I stayed at the gym talking to one of my students (remember, these students are adults) for quite sometime. It was such a meaningful conversation that I thought I should share.

 

The lady I was talking to works with parents.  I don't want to share too many details so please bear with me. Her job is tough. She deals with a ton of negativity and some really tough situations. We need people like this in the world to help fight battles we may not be able to fight on our own. Long story short, she was telling me about her mom. She said that all through out her life, she knew, there was NO QUESTIONING it, it wasn't her against the world when the going got tough. No, it was her and her mom, who stood right by her. She told me that children should never doubt their parents love or the fact that their parents will be there for them. In her line of work, she will not represent clients who don't portray this type of unconditional love for their children. She does not support them if they are not 100% their child's advocate.

 

I haven't stop thinking about this conversation. I will always remember it. It just so happens that when I got home, my oldest was crying for me. She was telling my husband that she wanted her mama (she never does this because I am normally home way before she wakes up). I was there and that felt good. 

 

What is it that we can do so that our children know we are always there for them (even if we are not physically there all the time)? Show compassion, model love and grace, admit to our mistakes, say we are sorry, forgive them for their mistakes...to name a few. I think it's all about being ourselves (not perfect, but real) and always making the effort to love them for who they are! And this, is what a real life super hero is.

 

I have some super hero mama friends I am thinking about. A friend with 3 out of 4 kiddos who have had a bad case of the flu and two other pals with little ones in the hospital. These are not easy situations, even for a super hero.

 

FYI: Please tune into my radio interview tomorrow at 3 pm on Blog Talk Radio.

 

Author-Adventures Wed, 12 Dec 2012 00:13:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/real-life-super-hero-mothers
Big Day of Paying It Forward http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/big-day-to-pay-it-forward

Today we paid it forward twice. I modeled compassion while with my girls. Remember, compassion is an important trait we can teach our children simply through our own actions.

 

First we bought the Salvation Army bell ringer a hot cocoa (part of our RAK and advent calendar). After I walked away from the lady, my daughter said "Look Mama, she's smiling!" Worth every penny of the overpriced Starbucks drink! Then, after coloring holiday pictures, packaging up sweet treats and hand warmers from the dollar section at Target, we left a package for our Garbage Workers.

 

Showing compassion doesn't have to cost a lot of money. It doesn't have to take up a lot of your time. The value in your children witnessing it first hand is priceless. I would love to hear how you and your family models compassion throughout the holidays! Please comment below!

 

Maria

 

Photo Credit

 

 

Make-A-Difference-Monthly Character-Traits Family-Fun Tue, 11 Dec 2012 00:51:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/big-day-to-pay-it-forward
The Potato Chip Champ Book Tour http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/book-tour

The book tour has been really busy! I am having a blast meeting new fans and visiting with friends at events. Thank you for your support! In the midst of the book tour, I received word that The Potato Chip Champ won a GOLD Mom's Choice Award! Yippee!

 

The last book signing of the year will be at the Brighton Barnes and Noble on Lee road on December 22nd from 11-1. 

After the new year, I will be having a launch party on Sunday, January 13th at Biggby Coffee in Northville from 2-4. The first 100 visitors get a free bag of potato chips! January 19th from 11-1 I will be in Allen Park at Barnes and Noble for story time and a signing.

 

Also in the new year will be my blog book tour. This is one we can all enjoy from the comfort of our home. Each day for two weeks, I've worked with popular bloggers (Edu and Mama Blogs) around the U.S. to host giveaways of my new book and to write reviews!

 

Stay tuned for the tour to being January 7th, 2013 and get ready for over 14 chances to win!

 

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Sun, 09 Dec 2012 00:35:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/book-tour
Our 2012 Advent Calendar http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/advent-calendar

There are loads of resources out there with ideas for advent calendars. We started ours on December 1st. Here's the list of what we are doing this month as we prepare for Christmas. Our calendar is not completely religious but I tried to add a lot of Random Acts of Kindness in there since this is the time of year we think about gratitude, compassion and giving.

 

December 1st-"Elf" some neighbors

December 2nd-Look under your pillow (a little santa toy)

December 3rd-Tree Lighting ceremony in our town

December 4th-Read "Auntie Claus"

December 5th-Make Christmas crafts

December 6th-Watch Santa's video for us

December 7th-Create Christmas pictures for our garbage collectors-put in a bag with hand warmers 

December 8th-Family Game Night 

December 9th-Visit Santa and his Reindeer

December 10th-Pancake picnic for dinner by our Christmas tree

December 11th-Bring hot cocoa to The Salvation Army workers (they collect clothing outside)

December 12th-Make Chalk messages outside for our neighbors

December 13th-Paint all the little "piggies" in our house red with stripes like candy canes!

December 14th-Leave candy cane blessings on cars

December 15th-Wrap gifts

December 16th-Christmas Caroling and our North Pole Party

December 17th-Breakfast with friends in our pajamas

December 18th-Pass out coffee gift cards on cars in the parking lot of Biggby

December 19th-Look under your pillow (Christmas Dance Cd) Dance party to holiday tunes

December 20th-Make snowman pizza

December 21st-Make Christmas Cookies for neighbors & Dance Staff

December 22nd-Look under your pillow (a letter from Georgie)

December 23rd-Georgie the Elf leaves us breakfast

December 24th-Open one gift and say goodbye to Georgie

December 25th-Read the Story of Christmas (children's bible) and our new book.

 

Advent calendar ordered on Etsy here.

Other sites I got advent calendar ideas from:

 

 

Holidays Literacy Sat, 08 Dec 2012 00:02:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/advent-calendar
Guest Blogger-Meet Danielle Dowling http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/guest-blogger-danielle-dowling

Social Media is scary and overwhelming at times. I've resisted it many times and give myself a hard time for doing so. Being a small business owner, I need to participate. But when you meet people like my guest blogger, Danielle Dowling, it reminds you how fabulous it can be! Danielle is truly a breath of fresh air. Danielle is out of LA and is a relationship coach. She speaks not only about relationships but about living a powerful life. I am getting so much out of reading her blog. I think you will love what she has to share about giving, especially during this time of year.

 

Danielle inspires adults to live their best life. I write to inspire children to live their best life.

We make a great team!

 

Without further ado...

 

The Wisdom of Giving and Deserving (Why it Works) 

 

Hey. Hey you.

You deserve:

forgiveness
kisses in the morning
to be listened to
hugs when you walk through the front door
to be seen + celebrated for what is seen
to change your mind
to receive a return call, text and/or email in a reasonable time frame
to be appreciated
compliments
deep breaths
thought innovation
a connection to spirit
to feel worthy
to start over
to be asked how your day was
loyalty
to make a living anyway you want
a time out
to sleep in
an empty inbox
epiphanies
space
to do work you are passionate about – work that strengthens you
kindness
a free pass
the option to say no
or yes
partnership
higher consciousness
+
less anxiety
less frustration
less friction

We all deserve: forgiveness, space, sleep, partnership, time out
+ the opportunity to achieve higher consciousness.

Not just you.  But all of us.

I heard a saying once that has stayed with me.
“The world gives to the giver + takes from the taker.”

So give.
Give what you so rightly deserve + crave.
Bust through the self-centeredness + scarcity.
There is enough for all.

Shower us with your generosity of heart.
Give and
give and
give.

And watch us enthusiastically return all you have ever desired.

(+ deserve)

 

© 2012 Danielle Dowling

 

 

Danielle Dowling, M.A., is a writer, relationship expert + coach.  She's an intuitive strategist who works with women leaders who are ready to stop comprising on the things that matter most — self-realization, soulful companionship and accessing your innate power. Danielle helps women create lives they love to live in. Find her on Twitter or Facebook and pop by www.Danielle-Dowling.com for regular doses of rapid fire wisdom.

Guest-Bloggers Health-and-Wellness Fri, 07 Dec 2012 00:54:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/guest-blogger-danielle-dowling
The Gift of Nothing http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/gift-of-nothing

 

Have you heard of the book, The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell? It is in my top ten books to read to my girls. A book about a little cat who wants to get his best friend a really great gift but his bff has everything. So he decides to get him nothing. He thinks "nothing" is something from what people say (there's nothing on tv, there's nothing at the department store) so you see him search around town looking for "nothing". It's a short and sweet book. The little cat learns a big lesson. The best gift of all, isn't material things but just being together with the people you care about. A great lesson in gratitude. I should note that children younger than age 6 or 7 have a hard time grasping the concept of gratitude so be patient if they don't get it and keep teaching/modeling the trait.

 

I was on Amazon a few weeks ago and I came across an actual gift of NOTHING! Ha ha! What a funny gift to get someone who says they want "nothing" for the holidays! If you are on amazon for this gift of nothing, go ahead and throw Patrick McDonnell's book in your cart as well. You will be happy you did.

 

 

     

       

Literacy Thu, 06 Dec 2012 00:08:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/gift-of-nothing
Neighborhood Cheer-Elf Someone! http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/elfed

It is far better to give than it is to receive...


This is a mantra I love to repeat during this year to myself, to my children. The other day the girls and I made some homemade cookies then packaged them up to give to neighbors. We "elfed" two homes in our neighborhood. What this means is we secretly dropped off the treats with a note that explains the directions. It's like a "pay-it-forward" with treats. We elf two people and each of those neighbors "elfs" two other people. 

 

 

How do you know if someone has already been elfed? They leave the note in the picture below on their front door. I got the images for free here.

 

It easy to spread holiday cheer. Start paying it forward in your 'hood by elfing!

 

 image credit

 

 

Family-Fun Wed, 05 Dec 2012 00:35:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/elfed
Homeschool Lessons Month #3 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/homeschooling-month-three

Here is a recap of just a few of our lessons from last month!

 

I am learning more and more about the homeschooling community and the resources that these mamas put out there for families wanting to teach at home are amazing! Don't get me wrong, I beileive in public education, I taught for over a decade in the public schools. But even for those working mamas that want some learning activities to do with their kiddos on the weekends, the homeschooling community has a lot to offer you!

 

Stay tuned later this week for a Homeschooling 101 post with links to some of my favorite homeschool sites.

 

 

Literacy Family-Fun Tue, 04 Dec 2012 00:26:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/homeschooling-month-three
Currently in December http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/currently-december


 

This time of year is magical and I am trying to treasure each moment. The advent calendar is up and we are drinking cocoa, burning christmas cookie candles and singing along to jingle bells! 

 

Each month this year I have participated in a fun little linky party by Farley called Currently. Here is the last one of the year!

 

 

 

Family-Fun Mon, 03 Dec 2012 00:39:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/currently-december
My Happiness Project-The Grand Finale http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/happiness-project-grand-finale

December. The last month of the year. The month I wrap up my year long Happiness Project, inspired by Gretchen Rubin. I am already looking forward to planning next year's Happiness Project after reading Happier At Home.

 

This Month-December:

Focus on the areas that have been hardest to accomplish.

 

1. Working from home-we are finishing a home office that is separate from the house. I think will help me to focus on completing tasks more efficiently. I have also been making daily instead of weekly to-do lists to keep me focused. The only problem I keep having is when I am working at my computer desk that is between the kitchen and the playroom, I see things I want to clean and organize and I get easily distracted!

 

2. Yoga-I get a a good roll with Yoga and then for some reason or another I stop. I feel so much better when I am taking classes. Even if it's just one a week.

 

 

 

Review of 2012 Goals

 

January: Health

(learn about Gluten Free Diets, start taking wheat grass shots, dry brushing, smoothies and hot water with lemon in the morning)

Follow-up: addicted to wheat grass and dry brushing. Smoothies and hot tea were more of a winter thing but now that fall is back again, I have started to drink tea again. I have learned to cook with less gluten but by no means am I completely gluten free or do I want to be.

 

February: Romance

(focus on my marriage, making time for each other, schedule date nights and make dave feel appreciated!)

Follow-up: Every other week date nights has been unreaslitic with an unpredictable newborn at home, but we have done really good on every other week lunch dates! We have also been making a lot of time for each other on the weekends, saying no more often and putting our family first.

 

March: Aim Higher (work) 

(revise my current programs, develop outlines for my new programs, work with Pure Heart Studios on new blog format)

Follow-Up: March was a great month for work. I had almost 100 student letters written to me that I "promised" to answer and I have! I revised my current programs, didn't get an outline for my new program yet and have launched a new program on my blog. I continue to aim higher in work. I have booked several schools for Fall 2012 and Winter 2013. 

 

April: Parenthood

(being present, a role model, say no less (lighten up), write my 10 commandments)

Follow-Up: I had an excellent month focusing on parenthood. We went without tv on most days and because I was so focused on the kids, it didn't make a difference that I didn't have the break on those days. I was able to talk to friends on the phone during nap time more and less while my girls were awake. I used a technique I read in The Happiness Project and I feel like it's a part of my daily language now! Instead of saying No, I say Yes. For example "Yes, you can have another cookie, tomorrow." Instead of contstantly nagging! We went to church on Daughter's Day and I gave the girls little gifts:) 

 

May: Me, Me, Me

(focus on myself, more time for creative outlets, take time to learn new things!)

Follow-up: This portion sounds so self-centered while at the same time, it is really hard for me to find time for myself and let it be all about me, me, me! This month I got a hair cut. I painted my nails several times. I started yoga (again) and have been 4 weeks in a row now! I also signed up for a photoshop class (oh, how I love digital scrapbooking). I found that a mini-bucket list really inspired my creative juices! I wanted to go to sleep earlier and I didn't accomplish that one. That's the beauty of these monthly goals, I can refocus on this in the months to come!

 

June: Mid-Year Health

(focus on these healthy tasks: buy a dark glass bottle for my olive oil, (benefits here.), replace a few of my condiments with products that don't contain high fructose corn syrup, buy alternatives to using so many ziplock bags, make my own seasonings, organize my pantry and get rid of any expired items)

Follow-Up: I did it! I made a lot of progress this month thanks to my weekly bucket lists. I also made a bucket list for my LIFE here!!!

 

July: Religion

(sign up for the second class at our church to become a member, complete the workbook, schedule a meeting with a member at the church to learn about joining a small group.)

Follow-Up: I signed up for the second class but did not complete the workbook. It didn't make a lot of sense to me so I need to wait until I take the class. I did meet with a church member and have signed up for a Mops (Mothers of Preschoolers)

 

August: Composting

(purchase a compost system and get started)

Follow-Up: This was a funny one to look back on. I ordered the wrong compost bin and it was too big! So I did some research, talked with my hubby about what would work for him and came up with a system that would work for our family. I tried for one week and I had more fruit flies than you can imagine. It was disgusting and the way I viewed composting changed drastically. The good news is that Dave and I have decided to start a vegetable garden next spring for the girls and I to tend to. I am super happy about this development and am at peace with giving up on the composting!

 

September: Homeschooling

(You can read about my decision to homeschool my three year old for preschool here.)

Follow-Up: My time spent with my big kid has been super special. I planned the entire month out. Being organized was helpful. So far I am enjoying it! It is a lot of work but I am seeing that the rewards are truly worth it.

 

October: Working From Home

(I work out of the home and it's not easy while raising two children.)

Follow-Up: The timer made me anxious so I only used that a few times. I found a few areas of work that I could actually delegate to others who could be paid and help me in trades I pretend I know what I am doing (Thank you, Meg and Maggie) I also have been making more realistic lists for the DAY tasks and everything else goes in my notebook. Out of sight, out of mind works well for me.

 

November: Make Time for Pleasure Reading

(Figure out times through out the day that I can read again)

Follow-Up: I found that first thing in the morning, when Dave is downstairs drinking coffee and reading to our big kid, the baby still sleeping, I can squeeze in a good 15 minutes of reading. It's not much but it adds up. I get about 30 minutes in before bed if I don't fall asleep. I was happy with my progress in reading this month. Especially since I read Happier At Home and have new ideas for my happiness project for next year!

Health-and-Wellness Sun, 02 Dec 2012 00:19:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/happiness-project-grand-finale
Make A Difference Monthly-Compassion http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/make-a-difference-monthly-compassion

Today's post is a part of my linky party called Make A Difference Monthly. Each month I write about a specific character trait to share ideas on how parents, teachers and other caregivers can teach traits to children. I began this linky party back in April. Check out the last few months of traits and ideas to go along with them. I encourage bloggers to link up (below). The more people blog about these important character traits, the more people will read about how easy they can be taught to children and in return a greater number of children out there in the world will be equipt with these important tools to use out in the world!

 

Compassion is defined as The deep feeling of sharing the suffering of another, together with the need to give aid and support.

 

Just recently my girls and I were waiting in line for something when a little girl next to my big kid started to cry. The look on my girl's face was panic, like she didn't know what to do to help this little girl. Then she started to cry. Silent tears spilling over her cheeks. Then, to no surprise, my eyes started to well up. This is what I think of when I hear the words empathy, putting yourself in someone's shoes to feel how they are feeling. Compassion takes it one step further with the action of doing something to help that person who is upset. Following are a few quotes on the importance of parents teaching their children about compassion (there is also a video that discusses this below).

 

The Dalai Lama emphasizes how important it is for children to experience compassion from their caregivers from birth.

 

Caron Goode, founder of the Academy for Coaching Parents International, notes that compassion is first learned at home. She says to talk about the benefits of compassion and how good it feels to care for others with your children early on.

 

 

 


 

 Five Ways to Teach Compassion

 

1. Teach Your Children HOW to Listen

Encourage Kanji Listening, active listening with your mind, heart, eyes, ears, and attention. This is probably the most important aspect of compassion - just listen.

 

2. Model

Be compassionate yourself and model it to your children. You are their very first examples until you send them off to school or daycare. Make the difference in your home by being the person you want your child to look up to!

 

3. Volunteer

Volunteer with your family. Teaching compassion for the earth and animals is one way you can volunteer and it would be age appropriate for young children.

 

4. Stories

Read stories or tell stories you hear about in the news that illustrate compassion. Stay tuned later on this month for books that have characters who are compassionate.

 

5. Play A Game

That's right, play a game with someone who is lonely. Call a senior home and see if you and your family can come in and play board or card games with seniors. It's a great way to a difference in someone's life who might not have a lot of loved ones visiting.

 

 

Read more: Compassion Activities for Grade School Kids | eHow.com and squidoo.com

 

Bloggers, please link up your ideas on teaching compassion!

 

Make-A-Difference-Monthly Character-Traits Sat, 01 Dec 2012 00:18:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/12/make-a-difference-monthly-compassion
Funny Lady-Funny Sarah http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/funny-sarah

Hi Readers, I am super excited to have Sarah Cavanaugh as my Guest Blogger today! She is a friend of mine who is super talented (be sure to see her in action at the links in her bio below) She has some advice to share for us mamas as we enter December (aka holiday craziness!)

 

“Sleigh bells ring…are you listenin’? Gifts, decorations and cards have me sweatin!”

 

Oh wait…you haven’t heard that version of the classic holiday song?  Let’s all just take a big collective breath and decide it’s all going to be o.k.  I think someone needs to stand up and say. “Hey! Moms totally get screwed out of this whole holiday thing!”

 

I know…it’s not what we are supposed to say.  We are supposed to sit wide-eyed with the children, hot cocoa in hand with mini marshmallows on top, looking at the beautifully decorated Christmas tree. We’re supposed to know the perfect gift for our niece and nephew, have Christmas cards mailed by December 1st, and don’t forget the dinner you have to make for the in-laws on Christmas Eve with Great Aunt Eleanor’s special cranberry sauce (it’s a tradition, of course!).

 

Except wait…I don’t have matching holiday jammies.  (Note to self:  Get to Gymboree after preschool drop-off).  Oh – and a hearth…gotta get a glowing hearth. (Note to husband: we need more fire wood). And I sort of lost Great Aunt Eleanor’s recipe so I’m frantically scanning Pinterest for something that looks similar (Note to self:  Find out what the heck Anise Seed is).

Exhausting, isn’t it? 

 

Who’s the person behind the scenes making all this loveliness happen?  Mom, that’s who.  Now that I am a mom, I have to give my OWN mom a big THANK YOU, as I completely took all her hard work for granted.  The house was instantly cleaned, meals were made and gifts were wrapped without any thought on my part.  I took for granted that I magically received exactly what I wanted every year – like the pink Izod shirt and Jordache jeans I had to put on at 7:04 a.m. on Christmas morning, 1986, and proceed to wear every day for the entire week thereafter.

 

After some non-relaxing holiday seasons, I’ve given myself some breaks in recent years.  Order cards in October.  Online ordering 80% of the time (secret:  deals are the same as the stores and usually free shipping!).  Draw names for gifts and stick to a budget.  Use the heck out of the crock pot, Trader Joe and Costco ready-made items.

 

This is sort of how my family rolls…  

 

I wouldn’t change it for anything.  It’s not perfect but it’s all ours and I’m full of fantastic memories we will cherish forever.

 

I encourage you to take the pressure off yourself as much as possible.  It’s the spills, laughs and goofs that you remember, anyway.  I challenge you to the idea that  a “Single Ladies” dance party in mismatched pajamas with store-bought cookies for Santa is all you need to enjoy the holidays this year! 

 

Collective exhale, my mamas, and Happy Holidays.

 

Sarah Cavanaugh is a comedian, public speaker, and contributor on WZZM 13’s Take Five & Company.  For daily rants, sillies and observations on motherhood, you can follow her on her website at Funny Sarah or on Facebook. To see Sarah in action, check out the follow skits PTA Moms or Stay At Home Moms

 

 

Guest-Bloggers Fri, 30 Nov 2012 00:09:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/funny-sarah
Book Review-Happier At Home http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/book-review-happier-at-home

As a part of my monthly resolution, I have been making more time for reading. I just finished Gretchin Rubin's new bestseller, Happier At Home.

 

For those of you who enjoy goal setting and self-improvement, this is the book for you. Actually, I would start with The Happiness Project first.

Both books are very similar. In The Happiness Project, Gretchin has a resolution for each month. In her new book, she follows her children's school schedule and started with new resolutions in September and went until school ended in May.

 

I am not aiming for perfection over here. Although I love the little things that make my life happier and that's what I have gotten out of reading and creating my own Happiness Project. I will admit that I am not as regimined as Gretchin. She emailed me her resolutions chart where you check off daily if you are adhereing to your goals and staying focused. That was too much for me. I reflect at the beginning and end of each month and here and there through out the month. 

 

But, that's what I like so much about Gretchin's writing. She's super honest and I love that about people. For example, one month she had the idea to plan an adventure out with her husband once a month. When she approached her husband on the topic, he wasn't too excited. She brought it up again a few more times and no luck. She didn't embelish or add to the story. I appreciated her honesty.

 

You might be wondering what these monthly goals or resolutions were. Here is the recap, for each month, she breaks it down into sub categories. I didn't take notes while I read but I will be going back to all of my doggy eared pages to try a few things in my own life. 

 

September: Possessions

October: Marriage

November: Parenthood

December: Interior Design

January: Time

February: Body

March: Family

April: Neighborhood

May: Now-The Present

 

I have one life to live. If I can do a few simple things to make each day a happier place for myself, it will, in turn, be passed onto those in my family. I've really enjoyed both of Gretchin's books and I like to hop on over to read her blog every now and then for inspiration as well.

 

If you want to learn more about starting your own happiness project, watch this short one-minute video. Here is a link to a review of my own Happiness Project.

 

 

 

Book-Reviews Thu, 29 Nov 2012 00:32:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/book-review-happier-at-home
All About Grace http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/grace

Today I want to share a few things I've learned recently about Grace.

 

Grace is defined as a disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency.

 

Here are some notes and thoughts I took away from my book study group on the title, The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer. 

 

Grace is having peace and serenity despite the circumstances.

 

Grace is peace and beauty rather than friction and discord.

 

A woman of grace, is a woman committed to being gracious, promoting peace, overlooking shortcomings, providing an environment which her family can flourish-even when living in less than desirable circumstances.

 

There was this great example about a wife who in her head, had a way that each person in her family should act and be. They said it was like the "script" she had written for everyone. But when the members of her family did not behave or react according to this "script" she had, she felt let down and upset. Here's how I see it, unless you tell the members of your family what your expectations are of them, they will not know. Sometimes, we have unrealistic expectations for the people we love. For example, I'm furious at my husband because he didn't fold the clothes on the bed. Did he know I wanted him to do it? No. Should he read my mind? No. Do I want him to just want to fold the clothes? No, because that would be wanting him to be someone he is not. So the man I married walks past a pile of clothes and doesn't fold them. I'm okay with this ;) A woman of grace in this situation either asks her husband to help her with folding the laundry or does it herself without having ill feelings towards anyone. 

 

I love what grace can bring to our lives. I have my days when circumstances over power and I am not a woman of grace (maybe that example above was an example from my own life!) I am happy to have found this book and this group of women to discuss topics such as contentment and grace.

 

One more quote to leave you thinking about Grace...

 

We do not want family members who live without authenticity and joy because they are so focused on living up to your expectations.

 

Get honest with yourself and release the people in your home from the fantasy and delusion that you've created.

 

What's best for your family? Nurturing an atmosphere in which children can genuinly flourish-this is what grace does.

 

We want genuine relationships and life.

 

 

Real life. ~Priscilla Shirer

 

 

 

 

Health-and-Wellness Wed, 28 Nov 2012 00:20:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/grace
Fireproof http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/fireproof

A few years ago, Dave and I watched a movie called Fireproof. It was on tonight. It's sad but so true. It's about the ups and downs in a couple's marriage. I like it's reminder of what love is. It's a faith based movie. I am finding a lot of strength in my faith these days through my MOPS group, volunteering and through the inspiring services we've attended since joining our new church in April.

 

Last night while we were out for our anniversary, the waiter approached us and told us someone wanted to buy us a bottle of wine. At the end of dinner, the waitstaff brought us a slice of cheesecake with a firecracker in it! But we didn't order any dessert? ANOTHER person wanted to buy us dessert. The waiter said we must be pretty special people to have two different people call up to the restaurant to treat us. It was such a super sweet gesture. Turns out it was my sister and friend Meg who did it and didn't know the other person called either! We are still smiling at their kindness. It's proof that Random Acts of Kindness will come back to you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health-and-Wellness Mon, 26 Nov 2012 00:23:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/fireproof
More Gratitude http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/more-gratitude

 

I'm feeling very grateful today. We spent the entire day in our pajamas yesterday, decorating the house for the holidays. The Christmas music, leftover turkey, the memories from the ornaments, having our friend over...more traditions!  We also have a new member of the family for the next month, Georgie is our Elf on the Shelf. I can tell it is going to be quite the adventure with Georgie around.

 

Tonight we have a babysitter and are going out to celebrate seven years of marriage.  I'll be back to blogging next week!

 

 

 

 

Health-and-Wellness Sat, 24 Nov 2012 00:35:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/more-gratitude
Thanksgiving Traditions http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/thanksgiving-tradition

Traditions are special. I love this holiday for the reason that we get to spend time talking about how grateful we are for what we have and for traditions. Last night was funny, only having made a turkey three times, I still have a hard time finding the bag of "stuff" in the cavities of the bird. I was on the phone with my friend at 9 pm as she described to me what her and her mom do! I think it's fun that this is all still new to us. Our first year hosting Thanksgiving, our turkey wasn't done until 10 pm. The second year, we forgot the bag of "stuff" and found it while carving the turkey. What will happen this year????

 

Here are some of our Thanksgiving Traditions:

  • Since I was 19 years old, I've been running in the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot in Detroit. I ran pregnant, with a baby but I've skipped a few years here and there.
  • Every year there's some sort of drama the morning of the race. One year there was a thunderstorm and we weren't going to go, then we changed our minds and showed up late. This year, we made it just after the start and ran our little hearts out down the streets of Detroit looking for the runners. We caught up, passed the walkers and ended running much further than the 5k we planned on doing (mind you, we also had the double stroller during all of this!) 
  • A few years ago, my friend Meg joined the race tradition and we made going to breakfast a tradition as well. We enjoy Honest John's in Detroit.
  • For years, my Dad used to take my sister and I to the parade. My sister is there today (she runs the race too) to watch the parade!
  • This is my third year hosting Thanksgiving at our house. As long as we are home by noon, we can pull it together (with plenty of prep a few days prior.)

Have a blessed day with your loved ones!

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Thu, 22 Nov 2012 00:23:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/thanksgiving-tradition
Contentment http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/contentment

I joined a MOPS group back in September. Once a month we meet for a book study and once a month we meet to listen to a speaker. A few weeks ago we heard a speaker talk about contentment and this week our book study was on the same topic! It was so fitting for this time of year. There are awesome opportunities to meet up for charity events, play groups, mom's night outs, whatever you need from the group, it is offered to you!

 

This month we have been discussing contentment.

 

The dictionary gives the following definition: Contentment is 'acknowledgement and satisfaction of reaching capacity.' The level of capacity reached may be sought after, expected, desired, or simply predetermined as the level in which provides contentment.

 

Here are some of my notes from the book study and speaker.

 

Use your abundance of stuff to bless others---
 

Trying to be happy and at peace with the posessions we have. Using our resources to bless others. I loved this. I admit I love my house projects and the busy feeling I enjoy when I have a room to shop for and decorate. But being content in what we have and not needing anything else, for me, that takes some practice.

 

There's always something to be thankful for---

Contentment breeds happiness and joy. Look at the blessings that surround you.

 

The hurried life---

Slowing down and clearing the calendar every once in awhile. Being content within the walls of your own home and your family members. Learning to say NO.

 

The season of life you are in---

Always looking past the present moment and waiting for the next phase, "I will be happy when the kids are all in school" or "Once the kids are a little older, I will be back to my old self." Instead, finding peace and happiness in the present phase. Being there both physically and mentally for all the stages in your life.

 

The speaker shared her own experiences and challenged us to check out the book, A Thousand Gifts. She asked us to start our own list of one thousand things we are thankful for. I started mine the night I got home from the meeting, I haven't gotten past 30. It's harder than I thought it would be! I am going to include my husband in on this one to help!

 

From our book study title, The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shrirer

 

I recognized that by rushing thorough life, I'd been subtly devaluing those around me and the experiences I was involved in, not appreciating the importance and significance they bring to my life at this very moment, not grasping my responsibility for holding dear and treating well these gifts God has entrusted to me. Instead of embracing the privilege of being a blessing to my husband, my children, my friends and others, I'd been quietly communicating that I wanted them to change and speed up, to get busy being somebody else, someone who's more in line with what I want and need, to hurry along to a place where they could make me happier than they currently do. That's been me. Always looking toward the next moment, the next month, the next event, rately allowing myself the privledge of fully participating and embracing the happeningsthat were right before me for that day. Page 15

 

The rarity and uniqueness of a woman who has chosen to be satisfied with what she has, with who she is, and with where she lives is as uncommon and worth celebrating as a Texas snowfall at Christmas. She's caught the faint whisper of a secret passed down through the ages, and she's chosen to trust its wisdom and to frame her life accordingly to it. She's a woman of substance because she's a woman of satisfaction, a woman who's chosen contentent over displeasure. Page 18

 

I don't want to wish away this part of my life. I know that raising two little ones make for long days. I am grateful to be in this group, surrounded by positive women, reminding me of how wonderful life is at this very moment! 

 

I hope that these little bits of wisdom from my experiences gives you a sense of serenity and peace in the life you are living. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families!

 

P.S. I hope you had fun with my Random Acts of Kindness challenge. The picture above is a quarter I left on a gumball machine.

Another highlight was taking my husband coffee to work with the kids in the middle of the day as a surprise. 

 

 

“If you look at what you have in life,
You’ll always have more.
If you look at what you don’t have in life,
You’ll never have enough.”
- Oprah Winfrey

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health-and-Wellness Wed, 21 Nov 2012 00:03:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/contentment
Snacks, Craft and a Song http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/snacks-craft-song

This will be the third year we host Thanksgiving. It takes a lot of planning, cooking, cleaning and all around work but I love to be able to have family over to our home. Instead of learning about a letter next week, I planned a few crafts and activities for the holiday.

 

I won't pretend be super mom and have thought of these activities! Pintrest, homeschooling blogs and teaching websites give me these great ideas! The hardest part is finding the time to plan them and prep for them. Executing them is the easy part since my big kid loves anything that includes glue and construction paper!

 

Here is a snack we made and a craft. Links are below. 

 

For more Thanksgiving activities, check out my board on Pintrest.

 

1. Acorn Snack

 

2. Turkey Craft

 

3. Turkey Song

(Tune: If You're Happy And You Know It)

 

Hello, Mr. Turkey, How are you?

Hello, Mr. Turkey, How are you?

With a Wobble, Wobble, Wobble 

and a Gobble, Gobble, Gobble

Hello. Mr. Turkey, How are you?

 

 

Family-Fun Sat, 17 Nov 2012 00:18:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/snacks-craft-song
Delicious Side Dish http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/quick-side-dish

My friend Meg picked up this recipe at the Trader Joe's sample station. It's delicious and a great way to get the people in your household to try brussel sprouts!

 

Ingredients:

brussel sprouts, butter, dried cranberries, salt and Trader Joe's sweet and spicy pecans.

 

Directions: Chop up brussel sprouts and saute in butter. Throw in a handful of dried cranberries and pecans. I smashed the pecans with the back of a spoon. Saute for a good 10 minutes and sprinkle a dash of salt on top. Done!

 

 

Health-and-Wellness Fri, 16 Nov 2012 00:32:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/quick-side-dish
Inspiration For Today http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/inspiration-for-today

Some inspiration for you today.

 

 

Make-A-Difference-Monthly Thu, 15 Nov 2012 00:05:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/inspiration-for-today
The New Book Has Arrived! http://mariadismondy.com/2012/new-book-arrived

Yesterday was a big day! My box of books arrived on my doorstep. I've been known to take a self-portrait with my books when they arrive! (see first one to the left circa 2008)

 

It is always such a fine moment when I open the box and see months and months of work pay off in a shiny new book. The smell of the new books is overwhelming. My three-year-old immediately grabbed one for herself and ran away to "read" it. A fine day indeed. Now, I have plenty of work to do to advertise it's release date on December 1st.

 

There's something about THIS book that is special. It is sure to make a difference.

 

 

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Wed, 14 Nov 2012 00:04:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/new-book-arrived
Books That Teach Courage http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/books-that-teach-courage

A part of my mission is to empower children to be strong on the inside. Teaching character to kids is a great way to see this happen. Each month, I invite bloggers to join my Make A Difference Party. These monthly posts serve as resources for parents, teachers and caregivers to find creative ways to teach character.

 

This month, I shared my idea on teaching Courage. Here are ten children's books that support this monthly character trait.

 

Let me know what I am missing in the comments below if you have a great book to add to the list! 

 

1. I'm Gonna Like Me by: Jamie Lee Curtis

2. Sheila Rae, The Brave by: Kevin Henkes

3. The Story of Ruby Bridges by: Robert Coles

4. The Empty Pot by: Demi

5. Brave Irene by: William Steig

6. Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun by: Maria Dismondy

7. The Girl Who Never Made Any Mistakes by: Gary Rubinstein

8.The Name Jar by: Yansook Choi

9. Courage by: Bernard Waber

10. Only One You by: Linda Kranz

 

 

Make-A-Difference-Monthly Literacy Book-Reviews Tue, 13 Nov 2012 00:25:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/books-that-teach-courage
Texas Fans http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/kindness-in-texas

The stars at night, are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas!

 

I had the pleasure of Skyping with my blogger buddy Barbara and some of her students yesterday. Barbara had four girls over to make Pink Tiara Cookies! It was really sweet to meet them and answer their questions. I had three favorite parts of the visit: 1. Seeing the sun shining bright in Barbara's backyard. 2. Seeing the girls smile (complete with pink and purple frosted cookies in hand) and 3. When they presented me with a special Texas shaped cookie for me (virtually!)  

 

Barbara has been someone I've looked up to since I started blogging. I am not even sure how I got we originally got in touch  but she introduced me to a number of amazing bloggers in our virtual community. She has been nothing but KIND to me and I am happy to announce that she is FEATURED in my newest book! Barbara is the Character Guru out there and she wrote a page in my book dedicated to parents. It's information on how parents can teach their children character in the home. I am so happy to have you as a part of this project Barbara!

 

I read the quote below on Facebook this week. I loved it. It's been a week filled with Kindness. In my fitness classes and on Facebook, I've challenged my friends to complete three random acts of kindness before Thanksgiving. In the first day of presenting this challenge, I had many responses, so many that over 300 acts of kindness should be taking place before the holiday!

 

Are you up for the challenge? Here are some ideas to get you started!

 

Call your parents and thank them, write a letter to your significant other and mail it to them at work, say hi to a stranger, pay for someone's coffee, make a cake for dinner, babysit for a friend's family, send your favorite teacher flowers, give a book you love to a friend, pick up the tab for a random table at a restaurant (anonymously) leave baked goods in the mailbox for your mail carrier, rake someone's yard, make time, donate blood, give something awesome away on craig's list, leave a few lottery tickets on the counter in a public bathroom with a nice note.

 

I dare you. Get out there and make a difference!

Author-Adventures Mon, 12 Nov 2012 00:20:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/kindness-in-texas
Homeschool Lessons Month #2 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/october-homeschool-review

Juggling work, home life and homeschooling is getting more challenging each day. But, I wouldn't have it any other way. 

I am seeing so many benefits of having my three year old at home with me. Our relationship has blossomed, she begs for "school-time" which I think is the cat's meow and she is showing some amazing reading readiness behaviors!

 

Each week stands for a different letter of the alphabet. Then I teach her about several different things that start with that letter. The pictures with lessons below are just a few of the lessons I taught in a week. Again, I try to make sure we have the following in our weekly lessons: fine and gross motor activities, music, movement, cooking, pretend play and a field trip! I have been happy with the resources I have found at The Preschool Alphabet Blog. Since the baby is still napping, it works out that my three-year-old gets time alone with me for her lessons and time to watch a television show (since I don't allow the baby to watch tv. She has to wait until she is at least two!). If and when the baby's nap changes, we will have to figure out how to get these lessons in!

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Family-Fun Sun, 11 Nov 2012 00:50:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/october-homeschool-review
New Book Trailer-LIVE! http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/new-book-trailer

My new book, The Potato Chip Champ is coming out on December 1st. I will get some copies anyday now before they are released to the book stores. Yippee!

 

The book trailer is LIVE. I am so pleased with it and I thank my talented friend Meg for creating it. Please copy and paste the link to the video on your facebook and/or twitter pages to help me promote it. See it as paying it forward since the message of the book is bound to make a difference in the lives of the children who read the book!

 

Thank you readers!

Maria

 

Link to YouTube video to share on your Facebook or Twitter news feed.

http://www.amazon.com/Potato-Chip-Champ-Maria-Dismondy/dp/0984855815/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352431051&sr=8-1&keywords=potato+chip+champ

 

Author-Adventures Fri, 09 Nov 2012 00:12:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/new-book-trailer
Book Review: The Anti-Romantic Child http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/book-review-anti-romantic-child

 

Things I Love Thursdays is a day that I share something I love with my readers. From clocks and movies to books and yoga. About a month ago, I was pleased to find a hidden gem in my junk mail. An email from the author of The Anti-Romantic Child, Priscilla Gilman. She contacted me after finding my books via The Mom's Choice Awards website. Priscilla has been super sweet, as we have gone back and forth about her book and my new release. So sweet, that I am going to feature her again in a Q&A so you can get to know a little more about her as an author and parent. 

 

For today, my review of Priscilla's memoir. But first, an author biography.

 

 

Author Biography:

Priscilla Gilman grew up in New York City and received her B.A. and Ph.D. in English and American literature from Yale University. She was a professor of English literature at both Yale and Vassar College before leaving academia in 2006. She has taught poetry to inmates in a restorative justice program and to New York City public school students. Gilman writes regularly for publications including the Daily Beast, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Huffington Post. A prize-winning teacher and with a background in the performing arts, Gilman is a captivating speaker whose warmth, dynamism, and accessibility make her highly sought-after by diverse audiences. She speaks frequently at schools, conferences, and organizations about parenting, education, and the arts, and is a Scholar/Facilitator for the New York Council for the Humanities. She lives with her family, including her two boys, her new husband, and her stepdaughter, in New York City. This is her first book.

 

 

My Review:

Night after night, there was something that kept me turning the pages of Priscilla's book, The Anti-Romantic Child. It wasn't until the last chapter of the book that I figured out what it was...her undenying love for her child. It's the bond that we, as mothers all share. The love that we know is there but we aren't always sure how to describe it. Priscilla uses poetry and raw emotion to describe the love for her child. She puts when we, as parents are thinking, into honest, poetic-like words.

 

Priscilla writes in such a way that you feel as though you are her best girlfriend and you are getting a coffee talking about life. She pulls you in with her storytelling. I can't say enough about her writing style and voice. 

 

Before Priscilla became a parent, she had a plan for what her life looked like. Didn't we all? When life doesn't go as planned, Priscilla finds joy in the unexpected. The book reminded me a lot of Kelle Hampton's book, Bloom. Bloom takes you through the emotions one mother experiences immediately following the birth of her daughter with special needs up to about her first birthday. Priscilla's book takes you from before her child was born to the present day. You are able to see how her feelings and perspectives changed over time. It gives you a "big picture" view of how life with a child with special needs can have it's ups and downs over the course of time.

 

Following her motherly intuition, Priscilla discovers her first born son has a developmental delay which she later describes as a special need. She did everything in her power to work with her son to help him overcome some major milestone setbacks early on. Benjamin, known as Benj, made a ton of progress and proved to be a brilliant young man as early as age 1. 

 

The story goes in depth about challenges Priscilla faced in her marriage, in the school system and within herself after Benj was diagnosed (or his delay was discovered, it sounds like his diagnosis is still a bit unclear). I think the book would be wonderful for both teachers and parents to read.

 

To understand as a parent, how a mother takes fear and uncertainty and uses it to help, not hurt, her family. It was nice to hear honesty from a parent. It's not a book that will make you feel bad about yourself because you can connect to fears she is describing about parenting. You know you are not alone in the rollercoaster ride of emotions being a mother. To often I read books that overwhelm me with the thought that I'm not doing enough.

 

I think from a teacher's point of view, it's important to see how much extra support families provide outside of the school day for their children with needs. It can and will bring a new level of empathy for their students. When teachers and parents can understand where each other is coming from, they are more effective in helping the child succeed.

 

I am going to share one of my favorite parts of the book. It's when Priscilla tells her readers that focusing on her child's strengths and helping him to grow in those areas is a primary aspriation as a mother. Beautiful.

 

People often ask me: What are your goals and hopes and dreams for Benj? And the answer is so simple: That he be seen whole against the sky.

 

 

In my experience with Benj, I have had to come to terms with the loss of my romantic vision, my idea of how my child, and my life, were going to be. But out of the death of that dream has come a flourishing of amazing life. Being Benj's mother has changed me profoundly, has made me more, rather than less, idealistic; more, rather than less, passionate; more, rather than less, creative.

 

 

Priscilla, Thank you for sharing your touching story with the world.It is bound to make a difference in the lives of those who read it!

 

Follow Priscilla online at:
Her website
Facebook 
Twitter 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book-Reviews Thu, 08 Nov 2012 00:28:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/book-review-anti-romantic-child
Currently in November http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/currently

Currently is a blogger party hosted by Farley. I think it's a fun way to look at what's going on in our heads every now and then.

 

On Monday night at a MOPS meeting, I picked up a three book series about the Amish from the "free" table. I am looking forward to getting started on it! Goes well with my November reading goal.

 

Do you have any good book recommendations to share? Comment below!

 

Author-Adventures Wed, 07 Nov 2012 00:31:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/currently
Election Day http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/election-day

It's a big day. Get out there and VOTE!

I took the girls with me. I had all of my votes on the proposals written down before I went and I am glad I did...it was a bit distracting having two girls running around while I filled in little black ovals. I think it's important they learn about the right to vote! My oldest was excited to place my ballot in the big blue box!

 

Family-Fun Tue, 06 Nov 2012 00:02:00 -0600 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/election-day
Holidays! Full Steam Ahead! http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/holidays-full-steam-ahead

I absolutely LOVE this time of year. I woke up the morning after Halloween and decorated for Thanksgiving!!!!

 

It's a new month, which means it's time for me to reflect then look forward. I wonder if I will have conduct another Happiness Project next year???

 

As a part of my happiness project (inspired by Gretchin Rubin) I have chosen a different goal every month this year.

 

This Month-November:

Make time for pleasure reading...

This is how my favorite night looks. Dave and I read to the girls together and put them to bed. We chit chat under the cozy blanket my grandma made that lives on our couch. Maybe we watch one of our shows while eating Dave's famous air popped popcorn. Then I go up to bed and read. Dave comes upstairs and kisses me goodnight before he has his snack and watches CNN (this is also when we talk about what the next day looks like for both of us and when he checks on both girls to be sure the temperature in their rooms is just right).

 

What's been missing from that favorite night? READING! It has not been a part of my evening routine lately. I've been WORKING instead. To kick off this month's resolution/focus, I am going to the bookstore to buy Gretchin Rubin's newest book, Happier At Home. 

 

Review of 2012 Goals

 

January: Health

(learn about Gluten Free Diets, start taking wheat grass shots, dry brushing, smoothies and hot water with lemon in the morning)

Follow-up: addicted to wheat grass and dry brushing. Smoothies and hot tea were more of a winter thing but now that fall is back again, I have started to drink tea again. I have learned to cook with less gluten but by no means am I completely gluten free or do I want to be.

 

February: Romance

(focus on my marriage, making time for each other, schedule date nights and make dave feel appreciated!)

Follow-up: Every other week date nights has been unreaslitic with an unpredictable newborn at home, but we have done really good on every other week lunch dates! We have also been making a lot of time for each other on the weekends, saying no more often and putting our family first.

 

March: Aim Higher (work)

(revise my current programs, develop outlines for my new programs, work with Pure Heart Studios on new blog format)

Follow-Up: March was a great month for work. I had almost 100 student letters written to me that I "promised" to answer and I have! I revised my current programs, didn't get an outline for my new program yet and have launched a new program on my blog. I continue to aim higher in work. I have booked several schools for Fall 2012 and Winter 2013. 

 

April: Parenthood

(being present, a role model, say no less (lighten up), write my 10 commandments)

Follow-Up: I had an excellent month focusing on parenthood. We went without tv on most days and because I was so focused on the kids, it didn't make a difference that I didn't have the break on those days. I was able to talk to friends on the phone during nap time more and less while my girls were awake. I used a technique I read in The Happiness Project and I feel like it's a part of my daily language now! Instead of saying No, I say Yes. For example "Yes, you can have another cookie, tomorrow." Instead of contstantly nagging! We went to church on Daughter's Day and I gave the girls little gifts:) 

 

May: Me, Me, Me

(focus on myself, more time for creative outlets, take time to learn new things!)

Follow-up: This portion sounds so self-centered while at the same time, it is really hard for me to find time for myself and let it be all about me, me, me! This month I got a hair cut. I painted my nails several times. I started yoga (again) and have been 4 weeks in a row now! I also signed up for a photoshop class (oh, how I love digital scrapbooking). I found that a mini-bucket list really inspired my creative juices! I wanted to go to sleep earlier and I didn't accomplish that one. That's the beauty of these monthly goals, I can refocus on this in the months to come!

 

June: Mid-Year Health

(focus on these healthy tasks: buy a dark glass bottle for my olive oil, (benefits here.), replace a few of my condiments with products that don't contain high fructose corn syrup, buy alternatives to using so many ziplock bags, make my own seasonings, organize my pantry and get rid of any expired items)

Follow-Up: I did it! I made a lot of progress this month thanks to my weekly bucket lists. I also made a bucket list for my LIFE here!!!

 

July: Religion

(sign up for the second class at our church to become a member, complete the workbook, schedule a meeting with a member at the church to learn about joining a small group.)

Follow-Up: I signed up for the second class but did not complete the workbook. It didn't make a lot of sense to me so I need to wait until I take the class. I did meet with a church member and have signed up for a Mops (Mothers of Preschoolers)

 

August: Composting

(purchase a compost system and get started)

Follow-Up: This was a funny one to look back on. I ordered the wrong compost bin and it was too big! So I did some research, talked with my hubby about what would work for him and came up with a system that would work for our family. I tried for one week and I had more fruit flies than you can imagine. It was disgusting and the way I viewed composting changed drastically. The good news is that Dave and I have decided to start a vegetable garden next spring for the girls and I to tend to. I am super happy about this development and am at peace with giving up on the composting!

 

September: Homeschooling

(You can read about my decision to homeschool my three year old for preschool here.)

Follow-Up: My time spent with my big kid has been super special. I planned the entire month out. Being organized was helpful. So far I am enjoying it! It is a lot of work but I am seeing that the rewards are truly worth it.

 

October: Working From Home

(I work out of the home and it's not easy while raising two children.)

Follow-Up: The timer made me anxious so I only used that a few times. I found a few areas of work that I could actually delegate to others who could be paid and help me in trades I pretend I know what I am doing (Thank you, Meg and Maggie) I also have been making more realistic lists for the DAY tasks and everything else goes in my notebook. Out of sight, out of mind works well for me.

 

 

Health-and-Wellness Fri, 02 Nov 2012 00:35:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/holidays-full-steam-ahead
Make A Difference Monthly-Courage http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/make-a-difference-monthly-courage

Today's post is a part of my linky party called Make A Difference Monthly. Each month I write about a specific character trait to share ideas on how parents, teachers and other caregivers can teach traits to children. I began this linky party back in April. Check out the last few months of traits and ideas to go along with them. I encourage bloggers to link up (below). The more people blog about these important character traits, the more people will read about how easy they can be taught to children and in return a greater number of children out there in the world will be equipt with these important tools to use out in the world!

 

 

 

Courage is defined as the ability to confront fear, danger or intimidation.

 

Do you want to know a great way to teach courage? Read my award-winning book, Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun: Having the Courage to Be Who You Are to your child. 

Ask your child the following questions:

 

Before Reading:

What does the word courage mean?

How have you shown courage before?

Take a picture walk---flip through the pages of the book and encourage your child to talk about what they think might be happening in the story (make predictions).

 

During Reading:

Do you think it took courage for Lucy to go to school everyday? Why?

How did Lucy show courage when she asked Ralph to stop teasing her after her gave her a mean note?

How could Lucy have shown courage at home when Papa Gino asked her what was happening at school?

 

After Reading:

Can you make a connection to the story? Has anything similar ever happened to you?

Children walked away from Ralph when he was in danger. Do you think Lucy showed courage by helping him?

Lucy wanted to have her favorite sandwich at the end of the story. How does that show courage?

 

 

Courage is an important trait to teach children. Check out  "Kids of Courage" organization and what they're up to. If you don't have a lot of time, please watch the section of the video from 1:52-2:30 Amazing.

 

Kids of Courage is a non-profit organization up to some really good stuff!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make-A-Difference-Monthly Character-Traits Thu, 01 Nov 2012 00:55:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/11/make-a-difference-monthly-courage
Five Super Easy Meals http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/five-super-easy-meals

It's Halloween. It's one of those nights you want to keep meal planning VERY simple because there are so many other things going on. 

My gift to you on this holiday...

 

Five super easy recipes that are part of my family favorites.

 

1. Stuffed Shells (thank you Emily)

 Ingredients: 1 pkg frozen spinach (thaw and drain), 1 cup cottage cheese, 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella, 1/4 tsp. garlic powder, and one package of jumbo shells. 

Directions: Cook the shells, mix all the ingredients together, fill shells with the mixture and place in a baking dish. Cover with marinara sauce and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 

 

2. Ceasar Pasta Salad (thank you recipe club)

 Ingredients: Romaine lettuce, chicken cubes, garlic, anchoives, croutons, pasta (fusilli is my favorite to use for this recipe)

Directions: Cook pasta. In a pan add some olive oil, garlic, chicken cubes and cook. Add in the anchovies (chopped). Add mix to the cooled pasta. Throw in a bowl with romaine lettuce. Mix in extra olive oil if needed. I sometimes add in capers and lemon juice. I don't use exact measurements for this one.

 

3. Pesto Pizza (thank you Danielle)

 Ingredients: pizza crust, pesto, mozzerella cheese, shredded chicken, spinach (or any other topping, I like to add chia seeds to my pizzas)

Directions: spread pesto on crust, add toppings and cheese. Bake.

 

4. Fish Tacos (thank you Danielle)

 Ingredients: tortillas, fish nuggets (I love Trader Joe's) shredded cabbage, avocado cubes and special sauce.

Directions: bake nuggets. Make sauce by mixing 2 parts cocktail sauce with 1 part sour cream. Add everything to a warm tortilla. 

 

 

5. Chicken and Broccoli Packs

(thank you Pinterest, I've adapted it to my own)

Ingredients: brown rice, raw chicken cubes (I will use leftover chicken from the previous night to make this too), broccoli cubes, cheese, bacon and ranch dressing.

Directions: I make bacon for breakfast the morning I am making this for dinner and prepare the meal in the morning. Put cooked brown rice on the bottom of a square piece of tin foil, then the chicken, add the broccoli, bacon bits about a Tbsp. of ranch dressing and some shredded cheese. Fold the tin foil and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

 

Author-Adventures Wed, 31 Oct 2012 00:58:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/five-super-easy-meals
Inspiration For YOU! http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/inspiration-for-you

It's nearing the end of the month. My favorite time to reflect, look back and then look forward.

 

Here are some words of wisdom I have enjoyed this month. They help me do the above, reflect, appreciate and move forward (with enthusiasum and zest!)

 

Health-and-Wellness Tue, 30 Oct 2012 00:02:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/inspiration-for-you
Age Two and An Interview http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/age-two-activities

A few friends have recently asked me about types of activities to do with their two-year-olds at home. 

I depend heavily on my teaching background to come up with ideas but I also use Pinterest to get ideas. Remember, I am using this homeschooling blog to help me plan for lessons for my three-year-old. 

 

There are so many different ways to teach children. I enjoyed taking my two-year-old to a Parent-Tot program at the local 

preschool. It was time together, time to grow socially with children the same age. The activities during that particular program were based around hands-on music and art activities. At home, I try to hit these main areas when planning activities/lessons: Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Music, Movement, Cooking, Literacy, Math, Pretend Play, Crafts/Art and Sensory Play.

 

You can follow me on Pinterest and find boards dedicated to some of these different developmental areas:

Cooking with Kids

Literacy

Mathematics

Crafts with Kids

 

I follow a few really great boards:

Pretend Play

Sensory Play

Gross Motor

Fine Motor

I haven't found any boards to follow yet for Music & Movement but we love watching music clips on YouTube. I guess I should start pinning them myself!

 

A great idea to keep yourself organized at home with your activities is to print off these cute, free calendars. Pick one activity a day to do and write it out. I did this last year when my oldest was two! 

 

To find out some of my favorite teacher bloggers that I follow, check out this link.

 

I think I could write a really great blog post with my specific lesson plans but I am so tired from a long weekend of Halloween parties, family and friend time. I am barely keeping my eyes open so for now I will share a few activities I would suggest doing at home with your two year old (off the top of my head). Every child is different and may be at different stages of development. Literacy development starts with learning the abcs. Here are some more beginning basics.

 

First, you want to teach your child to say their abcs. 

Then, teach them to be able to recognize BOTH upper and lowercase letters.

Finally, children should be able to come up with a sound for each letter. After this, and daily reading, could come reading readiness. More to come on that another time!

 

The above can happen anytime from ages 2-4. In Michigan, by age 5 (typical age children enter kindergarten) they should be able to do the skills above along with many others to meet the state benchmarks.

 

  • ABC Bingo
  • Attend free story time at your local library
  • Check out books WITH your child every week
  • Read books TO your child every day
  • Match upper and lowercase letters (great printables can be found on Pinterest)
  • Buy and eat letter snacks (snacks in the shapes of letters)
  • Talk about LETTERS in the Environment--Look, we are going into Target, It has the letter T at the beginning of it!
  • Match upper and lower case letters with magnetic letters
  • Make letter shaped pancakes
  • Limit the amount of screen time your child has (this includes tv, computers, iphones, tpads, etc.)
  • Great apps for strengthening these skills: Letter Quiz, Preschool MM, Super Why!, Curious George Dictionary, PBS Kids, Letter School

 

Check out an interview over at Growing Book by Book.

Author-Adventures Literacy Mon, 29 Oct 2012 00:06:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/age-two-activities
Making Spirits Bright-Cancer Walk http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/cancer-walk

Yesterday we participated in a Breast Cancer Walk in Ann Arbor. We were there to support our good friend's mother. 

It was the first time we walked as a family. Our oldest has participated in the Detroit Turkey Trot in utero and as an infant. Although, this was the first year she was able to understand what we were doing and why. We are trying to teach her about Empathy and Paying It Forward at a very young age.

 

Our team raised just over $1000 dollars. It was a special morning and I am thankful to have such a great group of friends. Happy Sunday!

 

Family-Fun Sun, 28 Oct 2012 00:06:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/cancer-walk
More Halloween Activities http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/more-halloween-activities

I have a few fun things to share that we have been working on as we approach the big holiday!

 

1. Make Pumpkin Muffins. There are a million recipes out there and they are delicious with a cup of joe.

 

2. Glue Ghosts: Give your kiddo a bottle of Elmer's Glue and let them pour the shape of a ghost on some wax paper.

 

Stick a few googly eyes on the ghost and let it dry. It will take a few days! Carefully pull off the ghosts once it's dry and you have some spooky decorations! Idea from Preschool Alphabet.

 

3. Upper and Lowercase Letter Word Search. I found this activity on Pinterest. I put a bunch of magnetic letters in a pumpkin bucket. Printed off the alphabet wordsearch and let my girl play. She pulled a letter out, looked for the matching letter on the wordsearch and highlighted the letter. Literacy and learning all in one game!

 

4. Sing and Dance along to The Skeleton Dance!

5. Count pumpkin seeds. Write numbers on sticky notes and have your child count out the same number of seeds to match the number on the note. 

 

6. Create a fall tree like the one in the picture below using wine corks to stamp the leaves (original source).

 

7. Mmm...let your little one put eyes and a mouth to make a Ghost face on a Vienna Finger cookie (a nutter butter will work too, some people suggest dipping the cookies in white chocolate for more of a ghost appearance, too much for our bellies over here!)

 

Family-Fun Fri, 26 Oct 2012 00:39:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/more-halloween-activities
Happy Character Counts Week! http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/character-week

October is National Bullying Prevention Awarenss Month.

This week is Character Counts week.

 

From all of the research I have done on teaching our children to stand up against bullying, whether it be for themselves or for a friend, we want to strengthen that child's character so that they have the courage to handle any situation that comes their way! 

 

If you are a parent, check out this website. Pin it. Bookmark it. Don't forget all of the resources that I share here. If you haven't read my favorite character coach, Barbara's website, Corner on Character, today is a great day to check it out!

 

If you are a teacher, you can make a difference by educating parents on character in your newsletters on top of teaching lessons to your students in your classroom. 

 

I came across this great reminder for parents on important chracter traits to reinforce in the home. It's a tips sheet that can be downloaded for free here. 

 

 

Health-and-Wellness Wed, 24 Oct 2012 00:51:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/character-week
Change it Up-Book Nook http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/book-nook

In our old house, we used to move our furniture around a lot to change things up. In our new house, there doesn't seem to be many options for new arrangements of the furniture. I've been craving change in our house so on Friday I moved a little IKEA table we have for the girls into this little nook in our family room. Then I put their big, cozy chairs in this sweet nook in the kitchen. I filled a basket with books and BAM! A cozy, reading nook! Even the baby gets giddy about sitting in her chair and browsing through the books.

 

Changing it up whether it be with furniture, meal planning or adding holiday decorations to your decor can really spice things up for your family! Comment below and tell me how you spice things up around your house!

Family-Fun Tue, 23 Oct 2012 00:48:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/book-nook
Character on YouTube http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/youtube-teaches-character

Youtube has everything from music to videos, interviews to how-to manuals. I've used it to look up tutorials on how to use my camera, I use it to enhance my lessons with my three year old (for example, we watched some clips with ants when she was learning about the letter A).

 

Recently, I've come across several videos that are short clips teaching character. These videos are all pinnned on my Make A Difference Monthly board on Pinterest. Most of these short clips are on Youtube and most of them are from Sesame Street!

 

Respect Lesson (length 4:53)

 

Bullying Lesson-For the Birds (length 2:38)

 

Bullying Lesson-The Playground is For Everyone (length 1:03)

*I teach students that this would actually be "mean behavior" unless it happens over and over again and on purpose, it's not bullying, it's "mean behavior" I like how the friends chose to be upstanders instead of bystanders in this short clip!

 

Bullying Lesson-Yes...That's Bullying (length 1:11)

*This is an example of relational bullying (it happened over and over again and on purpose too!)

 

Conflict Lesson-Sesame Street (length 2:07)

 

Volunteer Lesson-Sesame Street (length 1:21)

 

Volunteer Lesson-Food Bank/Sesame Street (length 1:44)

 

Problem Solving-Ornie The Pig (length 3:58)

 

Don't Be A Bully-Sesame Street (length 2:17)

 

Community-Caine's Arcade (length 10:00)

 

Patience-Sesame Street (length 1:37)

 

Empathy-Sesame Street (length 2:29)

 

Self-Esteem Song-What I Am (length 1:52)

 

Pride-Sesame Street (length 2:21)

 

Persistence-Sesame Street (length 1:05)

 

 

I would love to continue to add to this list. Please comment below if you have any suggestions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Character-Traits Family-Fun Mon, 22 Oct 2012 00:44:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/youtube-teaches-character
TPT Store http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/teachers-pay-teachers

 

 

Teachers Pay Teachers is a website that has an endless number of free and low cost lesson plans that are written and shared by teachers.

Unknown to me, I found several lessons written about The Juice Box Bully. I've added links to these lessons on the Resources section of The Juice Box Bully page on my website. For those of you using this book in your classroom, check out the freebies and low cost lesson plans that are offered at the TPT store!

 

Download a FREE printable of The Promise

Download The Juice Box Bully craft activity

Download lessons about the difference between Reporting and Tattling using The Juice Box Bully

Download back-to-school lessons based on The Juice Box Bully

Literacy Sun, 21 Oct 2012 00:49:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/teachers-pay-teachers
Update on My New Book http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/the-new-book

Hello Readers! We are all pretty excited about our Detroit Tigers heading to the World Series. Since we are talking about baseball over here, I thought I would share information about my new book (about baseball, potato chips and empathy!)

 

Here is an update on the up-coming release to my newest children's book, The Potato Chip Champ.

 

The delivery date of the book to the distributor is mid-November. 

It will be available on Amazon and B&N.com on December 1st and the book is available for pre-orders now.

 

Book Signings in Michigan:

 

December 1st

Nicola's Bookstore

Ann Arbor, MI

11am

 

December 5th

Barnes and Noble, West Bloomfield, MI

6:30-8pm

 

December 7th 

Barnes and Noble, West Bloomfield, MI (tenative)

 

December 8th

Barnes and Noble, Northville, MI 

11 am

 

December 15th

Barnes and Noble, check back for location

 

December 22nd

Barnes and Noble, Brighton, MI

 

The Official Book Launch Party:

January 13th, 2013

Biggby Coffee, Northville, MI

 

The Virtual Book Blog Tour

January  7th-21st, 2013

 

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Sat, 20 Oct 2012 00:32:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/the-new-book
The Importance of Friendship http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/friendship

Last night was our "family dinner". It's something my girlfriends and I do every month or every other month. The five of us get together, eat and talk the entire time. It's amazing the support my girlfriends provide. They are truly like family. 

 

I've learned a lot about friendships lately. They require time and energy to thrive. What matters most is the friend that you are to others, not how your friends are to you. I've spent time in the past feeling frustrated that I give, give, give in certain relationships when I don't feel like I receive the same type of treatment in return. That's not how it goes. Remember one of my commandments? Give without limits and without expectations. I've been so much happier being the kind of friend that I want to be instead of worrying if I am getting that same treatment in return.

 

I've also learned the importance of being a trustworthy friend. I am happy that I can be trusted and that friends come to me when they need to talk. It gets harder to keep up friendships as we get older. Life gets busy and it's not as easy to see each other. My friend and I talked about this the other day and I think a phone call, an email or even a good old fashion letter in the mail are a nice way to connect. Any of those will make your friend smile. So go on, make someone's day by reaching out!

 

"Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead.
Walk beside me and be my friend." 
- Albert Camus

Author-Adventures Fri, 19 Oct 2012 06:55:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/friendship
Fall Is Fun! http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/fall-is-fun

I love themes. Next to my daughter's bed are two baskets. One is for our weekly library books (which right now are mainly Dora, Clifford, Arthur and Curious George books) then the second basket are based on a theme. Currently, it is filled with fall books!

 

Here are some fall book suggestions.

 

 

And three exctiing things to share with you today:

1. I am beginning to edit my fifth book today with my editor (most of the time, we end up chatting it up!)

2. On the 15th of every month, I am guest blogging for Beaumont's Parenting Blog (starting next month)

3. I have a random date night on Wednesday night with Dave (my husband :) ) Then Thursday night is a Girl's Night --we are surprising our dear friend with a fun birthday celebration! Good times!

 

Literacy Family-Fun Wed, 17 Oct 2012 00:57:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/fall-is-fun
Books That Teach Generosity http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/books-that-teach-generosity

 As a part of my collaborative linky party, Make a Difference Monthly, here is a list of book suggestions for children that teach generosity. If you have a book to add to the list, feel free to email me!  

 

 

 

Sam and The Lucky Money

by: Karen Chinn

 

An Orange for Frankie 

by: Patricia Polacco

 

The Giving Tree

by: Shel Silverstein

 

The Quiltmakers Gift

by: Jeff Brunbeau 

 

The Giving Book

by: Ellen Sobin

 

A Kid's Guide to Giving

by: Freddi Zeiler

 

Money Troubles 

by: Bill Cosby

 

 

Make-A-Difference-Monthly Character-Traits Mon, 15 Oct 2012 00:17:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/books-that-teach-generosity
One Day I Will Share This Story http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/one-day

A time will come when I will write the story behind this moment. The moment I was reunited with these two people. 

Two people who changed my life and two people whose lives were changed upon our meeting. It is a story of strength, courage and sadness.

 

I'm not ready, but when I am, names will be anonymous. I will write the story to inspire the hundreds of readers that support this blog daily, in the hopes of making a difference.

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Sun, 14 Oct 2012 00:42:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/one-day
The Juice Box Bully http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/juice-box-bully

The Juice Box Bully was the second book I wrote with co-author Bob Sornson, and illustrator Kim Shaw. I was pleased to find out that The Juice Box Bully won a GOLD Mom's Choice Award. This is a very reputable award and all three of my current books have received the GOLD award now!

 

Bob and I worked together on the book back in 2011. Although we no longer collaborate on writing projects, we both still share a common goal: to empower children to stand up for others. Bob is a speaker for Love and Logic, the founder of the Early Learning Foundation and now he is the author of the Stand Up/ Speak Up Program, teaching children to make the choices to stand up and speak up for themselves and others. The more people spreading awareness on bullying, the better!

 

The Juice Box Bully is ranked #1 in the Bully section of children's books on Amazon and is ranked in the top 500 bestselling books on Amazon (following in Spaghetti's footsteps with this one!!!)  

 

 

I am feeling like a proud mama :)

 

Photos: Bob, Kim and I at the book signing. Credit: Jen Geer Photography

 

Author-Adventures Sat, 13 Oct 2012 00:56:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/juice-box-bully
Fall Wreath http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/easy-fall-craft

Fall is here. Here's an easy fall craft to do with your kiddos.

 

Fall Wreath

(from my homeschooling source)

 

1. Take a walk and collect different shapes, colors and sizes of leaves.

Talk about how they look, sound and feel!

 

2. Make a large circle with different colors of construction paper or just make it out of white and label the sections with fall colors. This way your child knows where to glue what color leaf!

 

3. Work with your child to sort the leaves by color (after sorting them by shapes and sizes for more fun!)

 

4. Give your little one some glue and let them have at it!

 

 

Family-Fun Crafts-with-Kids Fri, 12 Oct 2012 00:36:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/easy-fall-craft
Things I Love Thursdays-A Different Perspective http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/tilt-different-perspectives

Things I love Thursdays is a fun linky party, giving bloggers an excuse to write about something they love. It can be a product review or just a blog post.  Link up bloggers!

 

Today I am reviewing a book I just finished. Why do I love it? Because I appreciate a different perspective on parenting. 

The book is called Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. Pamela is an American who wrote this book about raising a baby in Paris. She got the idea for writing the book when living in Paris she noticed how well behaved french babies/toddlers were. Sitting through five course meals, using their manners around the clock, etc. Pamela was inspired to find out the reason for these really great mannerisms. 

 

I am going to give you a inside peek into what you can read about in the book. I'm commenting on what I took away from the book that was either valuable to me as a parent or interesting. That way you can decide whether or not there is something for you in this parenting book! 

 

French children sleep through the night within weeks of being born. What? It's true! Pamela describes how it's all about "observing" the baby. Allowing the baby to learn to self soothe. She calls it the "Pause" She claims American researchers write about similar techniques as the French. 

 

All French children are on the same eating schedule. Crazy. Morning. Noon. 4pm and 8pm. 

 

Babies understand language. Start teaching them as newborns the ways of the world. They know what you are saying.

 

French mothers apply to daycares when they are pregnant. The daycares are subsidized by the state and it is the norm to send your child. Stay at home mothers are not commonly seen in France.

 

They don't call it dieting but french woman, on average, lose the baby weight incredibly fast. They claim it's all about "paying attention".

 

A large part of the preschool curriculum (also known as daycares) is to teach proper french and good manners.

 


Insurance companies pay for reeducation of your perineal (strengthening those loose muscles with more than just Kegels) . They also have something called abdominal reeducation. The state even helps pay for some tummy tucks!!!!

 

There's a entire chapter that talks about the importance of the relationship between the husband and the wife. I loved this chapter. I agree, in twenty years, Dave and I will be alone again when the girls have moved away. It's important that we keep strengthening our relationship in the meantime...

 

The author talks about how she serves her kids their meals in courses. This is genius! She gives them fruit to eat while making their breakfast and they start with a vegetable before lunch and dinner. She says they eat more of their healthy foods this way. I am going to try this!

 

One of the last chapters was on discipline. Basically, the difference between authritative and authoritatian is described. She talks about the difficulties finding the balance between being the boss and also listening to a child and respecting him. In france, parents tell their children "it's me who decides" "It's about setting limits but also about observing your child, building complicity and then adapting to what the sitaution requires."

 

Finally, there was a discussion about how children are taught to be independent at a very young age. That parents don't overly praise their children for fear that they will start to do things only so that they can have the praise. Interesting. 

 

I liked the book. It was well worth my time reading it. I am left with a few ideas on things to try in my own parenting and I am left confused about a few things. Check out the book, Bringing Up Bebe and find out more about the author, Pamela Druckerman here.

 

Photo: Dave and I in Paris in 2007

 

 

 

 

 

Book-Reviews Wed, 10 Oct 2012 13:23:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/tilt-different-perspectives
Comfort Food Recipe http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/comfort-food

Fall is officially here in Michigan. With fall comes my comfort food meal planning! 

There are certain meals I can't make in the summer like my friend Christina's Chicken Pot Pie. It's a fall/winter menu item!

 

It's a lucky day for my readers because I am going to share the quick and easy recipe with you!

 

Chicken Pot Pie

 Ingredients: 2-3 cups shredded chicken, 2 cans cream of potato soup, 1-2 bags frozen veggies and about 1/4 cup milk to think out the mixture. You also need 1 or 2 ready-made pie crusts. To make it healthier, I just use one pie crust on the top and not on the bottom!

 

Mix your ingredients together, put in a pie pan with the crust on top and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes covered and another 15 minutes uncovered. Broil on high for 5 minutes to brown the crust and VOILA! 

 

A warm, fall, comfort food quick and easy for your family!

Health-and-Wellness Family-Fun Wed, 10 Oct 2012 05:58:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/comfort-food
Homeschool Lessons-Month #1 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/homeschool-month-one

We have completed one month of preschool at home! 

A few thoughts: I loved the lesson planning, really took me back to my days in the classroom (This is my second school year on a childcare leave) and I really treasured the one-on-one time with my three year old. We have "school" while my younger daughter takes her morning nap. I will admit that prepping the lessons can be a bit challenging because of the time involved but it all got done!

 

I want to share bits and pieces with my readers. I have been very pleased with all the resources out there in the homeschooling community. I primarily get my lessons from Lindsy over at Preschool Alphabet. Then I fill in with activities and lessons I find via Pinterest. I am following Lindsy's suggestion of focusing on one letter per week. I like this because each day I teach a different theme but the themes all focus on the same letter. I then strive to teach lessons that focus on different types of learning like fine and gross motor, music, math, literacy, pretend play, cooking and art. 

 

Below are a few of the lessons and activities I taught during month one of homeschooling!

P.S. Notice my daughter is in her pajamas a lot during school time :) A benefit of homeschooling.

 

 


Literacy Family-Fun Mon, 08 Oct 2012 00:51:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/homeschool-month-one
Currently in October http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/currently

I love linking up to Farley's Currently Linky Party. It's a great reflective tool on what's happening with bloggers each month.

 

Teachers visiting: I offer Skype visits to your classroom. I will read one of my books and talk about the process of writing. It is a 30 minute session and the cost is either $50 or a purchase of at least 10 books (easy peasy to do when you have a class of 20 plus students) Contact me to schedule a date!!!! 

 

This evening I am working on a blog post to share some crafts and learning activities we have done in homeschooling so far. I will post once a month about our lessons.

 

Happy Friday to you!

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Fri, 05 Oct 2012 00:09:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/currently
My Happiness Project-Month 10 Update http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/my-happiness-project

 As a part of my happiness project (inspired by Gretchin Rubin) I have chosen a different goal every month this year.

 

This Month-October:

Working From Home

Getting work done from home is becoming more difficult. The baby is much more active and with homeschooling, I have more to do to plan for our lessons. I watched a really good video on Gretchin Rubin's website about working from home. It's an easy way to procrastinate. There were a few suggestions on how to get your work done from home that I want to try this month.

Suggestions: designate a work area and STAY THERE, Leave the house (I don't have this option with my kids being home) work for 10 minutes, take a 2 minute break and repeat this pattern over and over again and use a kitchen timer. I am going to give it a try. I love my job and I love being at home with my girls so I am dedicated to focusing on this and making my time more productive!

 

 

Review of 2012 Goals

 

January: Health

(learn about Gluten Free Diets, start taking wheat grass shots, dry brushing, smoothies and hot water with lemon in the morning)

Follow-up: addicted to wheat grass and dry brushing. Smoothies and hot tea were more of a winter thing but now that fall is back again, I have started to drink tea again. I have learned to cook with less gluten but by no means am I completely gluten free or do I want to be.

 

February: Romance

(focus on my marriage, making time for each other, schedule date nights and make dave feel appreciated!)

Follow-up: Every other week date nights has been unreaslitic with an unpredictable newborn at home, but we have done really good on every other week lunch dates! We have also been making a lot of time for each other on the weekends, saying no more often and putting our family first.

 

March: Aim Higher (work)

(revise my current programs, develop outlines for my new programs, work with Pure Heart Studios on new blog format)

Follow-Up: March was a great month for work. I had almost 100 student letters written to me that I "promised" to answer and I have! I revised my current programs, didn't get an outline for my new program yet and have launched a new program on my blog. I continue to aim higher in work. I have booked several schools for Fall 2012 and Winter 2013. 

 

April: Parenthood

(being present, a role model, say no less (lighten up), write my 10 commandments)

Follow-Up: I had an excellent month focusing on parenthood. We went without tv on most days and because I was so focused on the kids, it didn't make a difference that I didn't have the break on those days. I was able to talk to friends on the phone during nap time more and less while my girls were awake. I used a technique I read in The Happiness Project and I feel like it's a part of my daily language now! Instead of saying No, I say Yes. For example "Yes, you can have another cookie, tomorrow." Instead of contstantly nagging! We went to church on Daughter's Day and I gave the girls little gifts:) 

 

May: Me, Me, Me

(focus on myself, more time for creative outlets, take time to learn new things!)

Follow-up: This portion sounds so self-centered while at the same time, it is really hard for me to find time for myself and let it be all about me, me, me! This month I got a hair cut. I painted my nails several times. I started yoga (again) and have been 4 weeks in a row now! I also signed up for a photoshop class (oh, how I love digital scrapbooking). I found that a mini-bucket list really inspired my creative juices! I wanted to go to sleep earlier and I didn't accomplish that one. That's the beauty of these monthly goals, I can refocus on this in the months to come!

 

June: Mid-Year Health

(focus on these healthy tasks: buy a dark glass bottle for my olive oil, (benefits here.), replace a few of my condiments with products that don't contain high fructose corn syrup, buy alternatives to using so many ziplock bags, make my own seasonings, organize my pantry and get rid of any expired items)

Follow-Up: I did it! I made a lot of progress this month thanks to my weekly bucket lists. I also made a bucket list for my LIFE here!!!

 

July: Religion

(sign up for the second class at our church to become a member, complete the workbook, schedule a meeting with a member at the church to learn about joining a small group.)

Follow-Up: I signed up for the second class but did not complete the workbook. It didn't make a lot of sense to me so I need to wait until I take the class. I did meet with a church member and have signed up for a Mops (Mothers of Preschoolers)

 

August: Composting

(purchase a compost system and get started)

Follow-Up: This was a funny one to look back on. I ordered the wrong compost bin and it was too big! So I did some research, talked with my hubby about what would work for him and came up with a system that would work for our family. I tried for one week and I had more fruit flies than you can imagine. It was disgusting and the way I viewed composting changed drastically. The good news is that Dave and I have decided to start a vegetable garden next spring for the girls and I to tend to. I am super happy about this development and am at peace with giving up on the composting!

 

September: Homeschooling

(You can read about my decision to homeschool my three year old for preschool here.)

Follow-Up: My time spent with my big kid has been super special. I planned the entire month out. Being organized was helpful. So far I am enjoying it!

 

 

 

 

Health-and-Wellness Thu, 04 Oct 2012 00:42:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/my-happiness-project
Skype with Me! http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/skype

Did you know I can visit your classroom even if you don't live in Michigan?

 

I am scheduling Skype sessions for the winter months now. Email me to schedule your visit!  Details are in the document here.

 

 

 

Author-Adventures Wed, 03 Oct 2012 00:20:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/skype
Make A Difference Monthly-Generosity http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/make-a-difference-monthly-generosity

Today's post is a part of my linky party called Make A Difference Monthly. Each month I write about a specific character trait to share ideas on how parents, teachers and other caregivers can teach traits to children. I began this linky party back in April. Check out the last few months of traits and ideas to go along with them. I encourage bloggers to link up (below). The more people blog about these important character traits, the more people will read about how easy they can be taught to children and in return a greater number of children out there in the world will be equipt with these important tools to use out in the world!

 

Generosity is defined as giving without expecting anything in return. It can involve offering time, assets or talents to aid someone in need. 

I have spoken about the connection between volunteering as a family and empathy. Generostiy if a trait that goes along the same lines. Exposing children to giving back and paying it forward will help them understand that the world is made up of different people. That some people are in need of basic items to survive like food and shelter. I like the video clip from Sesame Street on volunteering. It is simple and to the point. Show it to your students or your children to spark a discussion about volunteering and the word generosity.

 

Teach Children About Generosity:

As a teacher, I would list local charities and explain them to my class at the beginning of the year. Together, they would choose a charity and that would be the one we donated to at the end of the year. Through out the year, when I saw my students doing something good, I would give them "A pat on the back" which was actually a die cut of a hand that I would tape on their back. They were so proud to walk around the school displaying their "pat". I made sure that on occasion, the entire class would earn a pat on the back so that every single student was included. For the good deeds my students did in the classroom, I would keep track and match that number to the charity we chose. 

 

 

 
Volunteer to show Generosity:

Over the weekend I spoke to the Beaumont Parenting Group volunteers. I was so impressed with this group that I decided to sign up as a volunteer. They have approximately 350 volunteers. The program offers education and support to new parents and continues through out the life of the child. The program sets new parents up with other new moms in playgroups. For the first year of these children's lives, the parenting program educates these parents with speakers on newborn care, safety, child development, etc. I have never heard of such an involved program at a hospital before (I delivered at two different hospitals and neither had a program like this). 

The thing is, not only does this program show generosity by giving back to people in the community, but it gives its volunteers the opportunity to make a difference.

 

How do you teach children to be generous?

How do you show generosity in your own life?

 

If you would like to join Making Spirits Bright facebook page (like it) you will get quotes about volunteering, giving back and making a difference every now and then in your facebook news feed. It's a non-profit that my friend Meg and I began a few years ago. We are getting a team together to volunteer at a local walk to raise money for breast cancer research.

 

Find out more about authors that give back here.

 

 

Make-A-Difference-Monthly Mon, 01 Oct 2012 00:15:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/10/make-a-difference-monthly-generosity
Clocks for Kids http://mariadismondy.com/2012/9/tilt-wake-up-clock

Things I Love Thursdays is a linky party for bloggers to write about products they love and share them with readers. 

Find out how to link up below here.

 

A few weeks ago my older daughter (3 1/2) started waking up early. She continued to come downstairs and wake up the rest of us!

We have been very lucky with morning wake up. Since she turned two, she has been in a full size bed. We told her if she woke up and we didn't come get her right away, to look at books in her bed. She followed these directions for an entire year and a half! 

 

I posted a "help" request on facebook and got many suggestions for what to do about an early riser. Many people use clocks that change color and signal to young children that it's time to wake up. I decided to get The Tot Clock since it had real clock hands. The teacher in me wants my big kid to learn to tell time on an analog clock just as much as on a digital one. Telling time on an analog clock can be difficult so why not have one in her room to start? 

 

So far I love the clock! She wakes up when it's yellow and when it's blue it's either nap/quiet or bedtime. There are other colors too but we only use the two. The adult sets the times on the back of the clock and Voila! It took a few days for her to get used to following the clocks colors. 

 

I would recommend trying out The Tot Clock if you have an  early riser in your house!

 

P.S. I had my big kid pose for this picture! Remember, if she's sleeping, the clock is blue...

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thu, 27 Sep 2012 00:26:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/9/tilt-wake-up-clock
How We Battle A Cold http://mariadismondy.com/2012/9/fighting-colds

The first birthday party was such a hit that the party girl came down with a nasty cold. When someone has a cold in our house, I find it my mission to do anything possible to push the illness out of the house just as quickly as it arrived!

 

Here are a few things we do to battle the common cold:

 

1. I make a batch of Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. The recipe I use is delicious and can be found over at Simply Scratch. I make my own broth and freeze it in jars and ice cube trays so I can use it easily in my cooking. For the babe? Soup in a cup! My mom taught me that one.

 

2. Rest. I cancel plans. It's important for everyone to give their bodies a break!

 

3. Plenty of hydration.

 

4. Epsom salts in a bath for myself and I put some in my older daughter's tub (not to be used for babies). Lavender essential oil added to a bath is very soothing.

 

5. A humidifier in the room of the sick one along with a cotton ball with a few drops of Eucalyptus and Wintergreen essential oils. My friend gave me this tip and it helps created such a fresh breathing space for your little patient!

 

6. Vitamins!

 

7. Hot tea with honey for the adults.

 

8. A positive attitude :)

 

Do you have a tip to add to the list? Please comment below!

 

Family-Fun Health-and-Wellness Wed, 26 Sep 2012 00:12:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/9/fighting-colds
Books that Teach Trustworthiness http://mariadismondy.com/2012/9/books-that-teach-trust

I recently read in an article that what you teach your children in the first five years of life is crucial to their character development. I wish I would have saved the article to reference for you. It really hits home with me and reminds me that I have a lot of work to do before my kiddos go to school.

 

One way to help your child learn about trust is to read books at their level then have a discussion about what happened. For more ideas on how to teach trust to young  children, check out my Make A Difference Monthly post.

 

Books that teach the trait Trust. Leave a comment below if you have other suggestions for me to add!

 

Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber

Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel

George and Marsha Rise and Shine by James Marshall

Molly's Lies by K. Chaoaro

The Empty Pot by Demi

Bargain for Frances by R. Hoban

Swimmy by Leo Lionni

The Little Engine That Could by W. Piper

Big Fat Enormous Lie by M. Sharmat

Ruthie and The Not So Teeny Tiny Lie by Laura Rankin

How Could You? by Nancy Lowen

Make-A-Difference-Monthly Character-Traits Sat, 22 Sep 2012 00:58:00 -0500 http://mariadismondy.com/2012/9/books-that-teach-trust
One Year Later http://mariadismondy.com/2012/9/first

Yesterday was my little one's first birthday. We celebrated by singing to her, opening presents and giving her hundreds of kisses.

Followed by collecting all of the pacifiers and packing them up (my own mama thing) and plenty of reflecting on the past year. One word sums it up: blessed.

 

I like to take time on my children's first birthday to remember that it's not just a birthday but a "birth" day. Last year, after hours of laboring and hours of pushing (whether you pushed with or without drugs or had a c-section), I learned that women are stronger than they think. That, pretty much, we rock.

 

Happy Birthday beautiful baby girl.

Happy "birth" day to me... may I always remember the emotional and physical strength I carry!

 

 

Family-Fun