Archive for the ‘Inspirational’ Category

Have you had your “silence” today?

February 7th, 2018 11:35pm
Spending some quiet time with my busy boys is a struggle but we make it happen!

Spending some quiet time with my busy boys is a struggle but we make it happen!

As busy moms, we definitely value the beauty of silence! It may be a rare treat in some households! But did you know there could be benefits far beyond the initial enjoyment? In 2013, a study was published by the journal Brain, Structure and Function. It was a study conducted on mice to understand the affect different types of noise and lack thereof could have on their brains. They used what they thought was just a “control” group of mice that were only exposed to silence. What the study found was well beyond what they intended to study. They discovered that the mice that were exposed only to two hours of silence a day (their control group) actually developed new cells in the hippocampus (the region of the brain most associated with memory, emotion and learning)! According to researcher, Imke Kirste, the cells appeared to become functioning neurons!

In a sense, silence quite literally grew the brain!

A similar study in 2001 discovered that even when our brains are in a “resting” state, they are constantly internalizing and evaluating information. It never truly “sleeps”.

This “resting” state is also active during self-reflection. Joseph Moran et al. wrote in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience that the brains’ resting mode “is observed most closely during the pshychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.”

It is during our quiet, focused meditation that allows our consciousness to process information from our day. These moments of silence give our brains the opportunity to reflect, associate and correlate our internal and external worlds. It gives rise to our imaginations and allows us to tap into creativity we probably never recognized was there!

Did you know that your body can release stress hormones just because you heard a noise in your sleep that you didn’t even consciously recognize?? Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University discovered that children exposed to consistently loud noises begin to cope by ignoring the noise. This may sound logical and beneficial at first glance but what he also found was that not only did these children learn to tune out the disturbing noise, but every other noise too…including things they should be registering, like speech! The results from this study were published in the 2002 Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9).

In our family, we discovered this through personal experience. I first decided to keep a dream journal…not only was I recording about my dreams, but also recording the events that transpired right before bed and during sleep. For instance, my husband enjoyed falling asleep with the TV on. This would drive me nuts because it would invariably wake me at some point during the night. So for a week, I also paid attention to what was running on the tv during out sleep hours. What I discovered was interesting…my dreams correlated directly with what was airing on the television during our sleep hours! My brain was still processing every sound it heard, even when I wasn’t “really” listening! Now my husband and I have come to an agreement…I will allow the tv on but I set a timer so that it turns off within a short time. BOTH of sleep MUCH better as a result! This is also a big reason we don’t allow tv’s or digital devices in our kids rooms…ever! We try to keep these areas as designated quiet zones.

IMG_4565One more example. My youngest has by far been one of my worst sleepers. He would frequently wake throughout the evening screaming inconsolably. What we realized is that he was never getting his “quiet” time! My older kids were always up and about through the early evening, up late with homework or coming home late from activities. Every sound was triggering a stress response in our little one! We had no idea until we moved him upstairs to a much more secluded area where the sounds and activities of my older crew were not so apparent. He has been a different child! Ironically, the cognitive functions that are most handicapped during exposure to frequent noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving…pretty sure we all could use more of these in our day!

So bottom line? Forget your “safe zones” and start working on your “quiet zones”! Make this a quiet, focused and meditative time and your brain will reap the benefits!

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Posted in Family and Home, General, Inspirational, newsworthy, Parenting Tips, Safety/Health Awareness | No Comments »

Encouraging Goal Setting

January 21st, 2013 1:45am
New Years Resolutions

It's time to remind ourselves as well as our children about the importance of goal setting and achieving!

Yes, it is once again that magical time of year when we sit down with ourselves, evaluate our progress over the last year and recommit to (or redefine) our goals for the new year. This is challenging task for us adults and even more so for out children. Oftentimes we put ourselves and our families on autopilot and miss out on the importance of goal setting in our lives. Leading by example and teaching our kids to set their own goals helps give them focus in their work and play. It helps them, as well as us parents, make decisions about the use of their time. And being in sync with our children’s goals can help us guide them to making better choices throughout each day.

Here are a few suggestions that I have opted to try out on my own family this year. Sometimes the greatest challenge to goal setting is knowing where to start. Here are a few prompts to get you going!…

• Set goals that build spiritual strength
Whatever your religious beliefs, seek after goals that bring you closer to your spiritual self. Pray and teach your children to pray. Freely forgive others. Read to your children from scriptures or stories that teach good principles and values. Develop a habit of study (help your kids learn to give over a part of their day to some kind of practice or study). Participate in your religious meetings with your children.

• Set goals that increase knowledge
Select a subject of interest to study (a great way to discover some of your childs hidden intersts!). Learn another language (kids love learning even a few words of a different language…make it a secret way to communicate between you!). Develop or learn about a new skill or interest (a great way to start identifying your child’s abilities). Improve your ability to communicate with others (teach your children manners in…how do we talk to one another?).

• Set Goals that increase personal well-being and health
Develop healthy eating habits (make a game of the pantry…what is good, better, best to eat?). Learn to prepare healthy foods (kids especially love this one! Use a cookie cutter to cut those healthy bites down to a more manageable and fun size!). Develop a program of regular exercise (dancing in the family room with your toddler definitely counts!). Create opportunities to be active with family and friends (bike riding is very popular in our household).

• Set Goals that increase your ability to serve others
Give service to your family (what jobs can we do for each other?). Volunteer to help a neighbor or friend (have your child ask themselves “who needs me today”). Write (or draw for younger kids) a letter/picture to send to someone special. Commit to finding someone to help each day.

• Set goals that increase moral strength
Overcome a bad habit (any thumb suckers out there? How about interrupters? Waiting your turn to speak is a tough one for kids). Learn to be grateful and express your appreciation (teaching kids the value of thank you notes after the holidays is a great way to accomplish this!). Improve your ability to manage time (print your calendars!). Learn to enjoy hard work (chore charts, anyone?). Cultivate patience and tolerance for others (helping them identify ways to get along with a sibling). Identify ways to recognize in yourself when you are doing your best.

We hope these guidelines will help you shape some wonderful goals for yourselves and your  family this year! Remember, “Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement!” (Brian Tracy, Eat That Frog). Good luck stoking those little furnaces this year!

We hope you will sound off in our “Inspiration for Parents” forum about the ways you have found success in your own families with goal setting.

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Posted in Calendaring Tips, Family and Home, General, Inspirational, Parenting Tips, Time Management Tips | No Comments »

Count your many blessings!…

November 22nd, 2012 12:21am

This has been a tumultuous month to be sure. In the wake of a distressing election, struggling economy, and a cataclysmic super storm, we know there are many out there struggling just to cope with seriously significant loss. Our thoughts are with all those who are in such need this season. As we struggle for understanding, the words of Spencer W. Kimball come to mind, “Being human, we would expel from our lives physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but if we were to close the doors upon sorrow and distress, we might be excluding our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery.”

One of my family’s favorite songs gives wise counsel…

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

"Gulp!...what are YOU thankful for Mr. Bear?"... "Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down." -Eleanor Roosevelt

As we count our blessings, perhaps we can find some way to turn our hearts from our own troubles and heal through service to others this holiday season. We have compiled a list of ways we can all help assist some of those in need by sharing our time, talents, money or even just our thoughts. We hope it can at least serve as a springboard for you and your families to assess your abilities, however large or small, to assist those that may be in dire need…

1. Donate to your local Woman’s Shelter. Don’t know where one is? Check out http://www.womenshelters.org/ which provides a listing of Women’s Shelters throughout the United States, searchable by area code, and find the nearest shelter to you. They are always in need as they struggle to help and accomodate the rising number of women and their children that are escaping truly life threatening domestic situations. Call individual shelters for information on how best to donate.

2. Help out at a local food bank. You can find opportunities at http://unitedfoodbank.org/get-involved/volunteer/

3. Don’t forget our furry friends! Animal shelters, especially “no kill” shelters, are in dire need of blankets, toys, food, special treats…these shelters struggle simply to provide care and living quarters for these often abused, neglected and abandoned pets and being able to provide a few extra comforts goes a long way in helping these animals through their recovery. Find the nearest “no kill” shelter near you at http://www.nokillnetwork.org/

4. Remember our troops! This is a favorite for my kids and an easy one for them to participate in. Help them write letters,  create artwork, or put together care packages for our men and women defending our freedoms. Here are a list of websites recommended to us by a fellow serviceman as very reliable and effective in making sure donations reach their source…
http://www.give2thetroops.org/items.htm

http://www.well-chosen-gift.com/gifts-for-troops-overseas.html

https://usowishbook.uso.org/

http://action.uso.org/action/thank-you-letter

http://www.operationgratitude.com/get-involved/write-letters/

We wish you all many blessings this holiday season and know we will all find great satisfaction and healing as we turn our hearts to others! Happy Thanksgiving!

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Posted in Family and Home, General, holiday activities, Inspirational | No Comments »

“NO! Not flashcards, mom! They’re BORING!”…

You know what? My daughter was RIGHT! Being more along the artistic and music side myself, flashcards did nothing more than frustrate and bore me as a kid too and I have to admit, they’re not any more interesting as an adult! While they do still have their place in education, we have stumbled across some wonderful activities that can not only be fun, but of equal educational benefit. And even better, YOU can make these at home! And in most cases, for less than a dollar!

Pool Noodle Learning Game

The first is a number game. Take a rope of about two feet and knot it at one end. Insert this knotted end into a whiffle ball. Take a couple of pool noodles of varying colors (ours were blue, yellow, white and pink) and cut from the end 2 three inch cylinders from each color plus one extra from the color of your choice. Write a number on each cylinder, 1-9. Now you can create any number of combinations of colors or numbers for your child to try to duplicate. Your child can then string the appropriate color or number in order onto the string that you attached to the whiffle ball. This not only works on dexterity but on color and number recognition as well as pattern association…and it’s lots of fun!

The second activity we have for you is called a Tangram. For those of you unfamiliar with Tangrams, they are a puzzle brought out of China. Using several predetermined shapes (click here to check out a site devoted to Tangram printouts), your child can move the shapes around until they create a recognizable shape. They can either try to duplicate shapes already created, or make up their own. The catch is that all the shapes must be used and none of them can overlap! It’s quite a challenge!

Now we don’t want to leave out those early readers! So here’s one more activity that’s great to help them with their phonograms as they start to learn how to blend sounds and recognize letter combinations. Take a plastic easter egg. On one side of the seam where the egg comes together, write the letter combination “at”. One the other side of the seam write “h”, “r”, “c” and “b”…one above the other along the seam. Now when you twist the egg, the “at” will align with one of the other letters to form a word. You can print small pictures of a “hat”, a “rat”, a “cat” and a “bat” and cut them out to fit inside the egg. As your child twists the egg and discovers the new letter combinations, they can try to guess what’s inside the egg!

Word Family Eggs

We hope you enjoy some of these learning crafts with your children! Happy “back-to-school” month! If you have any fun learning crafts that you have found helpful, please share them in the comments! We’d love to hear what has worked for you and your family!

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Silver Apple Award sponsored by Ace Air and 3TV

Silver Apple Award sponsored by Ace Air and 3TV

Do you have a child enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade in an Arizona school that has been positively impacted by the dedication and inspiration of a special teacher? If you have seen your child make unusually large strides in their education as a direct result of an individual teachers efforts, then you might want to take a moment and nominate that special educator for the Silver Apple Award, created by 3TV in 1991. This year, eight Silver Apple awards will be awarded to exceptional teachers during the 2009-2010 school year, one award per month. Each winner will receive not only the recognition of this prestigious award but will also be given $500 for use in their classroom. In these difficult economic times, when salaries are being cut and teachers are scrambling for classroom resources out of their own pockets, this is truly a wonderful way to support the daily efforts they make for the benefit of our children.

Teachers are some of the most important people in the lives of our children and yet they often receive the lowest pay, fewest accolades and least amount of respect. Of course, everyone loves to recall the nightmarish teacher that scarred them for life!…but the ones we truly remember are those that have quietly influenced every aspect of who we are simply by their subtle inspiration and extreme patience as they attempted to fill our minds with useful knowledge and temper that knowledge with the ability to use it wisely.

My daughter had one such teacher last year who cheerfully brought excitement and wonder to the entire learning process. I was amazed as I assisted in her classroom at how her students responded to her contagious zeal for learning and soft-spoken methods of teaching. It is these few and incredibly priceless teachers that these awards were meant for!

If you feel you’ve got a teacher that fits the bill, then download the Silver Apple Awards form, have it signed by their school principal and then either mail or fax it back to 3TV by March 5, 2010 by 5 pm. Completed forms can be faxed to 602-207-3545 or mailed to:

attn: Silver Apple Award
c/o 3TV
5555 N. 7th Avenue
Phoenix Az  85013

For more information, you can visit their Arizona’s Family Cares Passion to Action website.

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Who You Are…

June 29th, 2009 11:40pm
There's no one else like you

There's no one else like you

I was given this amazing poem (I actually think they may be lyrics) as a handout and was buoyed up by the message. I wish I knew who to attribute it to. Unfortunately, I have since lost that information. But in finding it again, I feel impressed to share it with other busy moms that struggle with balance in their lives and hope you gain some inspiration from it too…

“I know you wonder if you’ll ever have a day,
When the kids stay calm, the laundry’s done
and the dishes put away,
And sometimes you feel like your days are spent and gone
And the question running through your mind
is what have I gotten done?

“At the end of your day
I know Father would say:
Believe in what you’re doing
Believe in who you are
Hold tight to the truth that you’re a
daughter of God
Believe in who you’re becoming
Believe in who you are

“It may seem simple – all the little things you do
But the lives you touch matter so much
And there’s no one else like you
And Father needs you to stand tall and faithful
To be all you can be
Oh, if you could see what He sees…

“When it’s hard to believe in yourself
And you feel like you’re beginning to
doubt, Remember…

“He believes in what you’re doing
He believes in who you are
Don’t lose sight of the truth that you’re
a daughter of God
That He believes in who you’re becoming
He believes in who you are.”

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A tribute to all the amazing Father’s in my life!…

“My Father”

My father’s feet will lead me
in paths I know are right.

My father’s knees will bend with mine
as we say prayers at night.

My father’s lap will hold me
when I need a place to rest.

And when I’m sad, I like to lay
my head upon his chest.

My father’s hands are big and strong,
and they work hard for me.

My father’s arms can lift me up
so I may better see.

My father’s lips will speak to me
with words of truth each day.

My father’s ears will listen
to the things I have to say.

I like to sit so very still
and look into his eyes.

I know he understands me,
and he is good and wise.

I’m glad I have a father
who guides me with his love.

He helps me better understand
my Father up above.

– The Friend Magazine

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