Book review: ‘How to raise great kids’

I am blessed to receive so many emails from readers, companies and generally cool people.  So many, in fact, that I simply don’t have time to review all of the products and requests that come through the pipeline.  Not the Alaska pipeline.  But the blog pipeline. Back on Thanksgiving Day 2016, I got a really nice email from Jim Gromer. And yes, you read that correctly.  It was Thanksgiving Day 2016 and I am just getting to this review.  I am embarrassed to admit this delay but I wanted to do this one and it took me far longer than it should have.  However, I am trying to raise great kids and I guess that is where the majority of my time goes.  To parenting and work, laundry, etc.  Well, you know the drill (total pun intended with the Alaska reference!)  We are all multitasking, right?

Anyway, my point is, sometimes, in a few sentences or so, you can tell someone is a kindred spirit; that you really have to take a longer look at this inquiry. That, if this person had been in your high school or was your neighbor, you would be friends.  I am like that.  I am intuitive about people.  At least, most of the time.

So let me tell you about the book ‘How to Raise Great Kids’ and how you can get it.  You can click that link ahead of time or you can wait and I can tell you what I like about it.  This book has tips for learning, games and general all around fun with your children.  What I loved about the concept was the onus was put on the children to be great…..raise great kids.  I like that.  Then some of the pressure is off… becomes a partnership and both parents and children are responsible for their greatness.  And the children are expected to be respectful, have fun, gain self-confidence and more.  Now, I know you are thinking, ‘I know everything about parenting….what could I learn?‘ Trust me, you don’t know everything.  None of us do.  And the minute we realize that, we become better parents instantly.

There is nothing better than a great book....well, a great book signed by the author!

There is nothing better than a great book….well, a great book signed by the author!

This book is filled with tips for communication, hygiene, safety, instilling faith and confidence in little ones and the list goes on.  The chapters are short and filled with great suggestions.  If you are parenting or know a parent or are invited to a baby shower, this is a gem of a book.  Here’s the link: How to Raise Great Kids…..don’t be like me and wait.  Enjoy!  Parent away!  And the author’s advice and my advice:  cherish every minute of it….yes, parenting can be really fun!  It sounds like an oxymoron but it is not!

Oh, and here’s my favorite line – “Life is messy but when you cherish the golden moments and power through the inevitable tough times, you give your family a fighting chance to leave a positive legacy.”  Sage advice from Jim Gromer!.


The weight of the matter

Weight is a big deal in our society, right?  We are on what seems like an eternal quest for the perfect figure.  More than a year ago and a few extra pounds, I wrote a piece called ‘Thin as a rail’.  It is linked here but the main idea was that when I was heavier, most people did not mention my weight.  The person (a stranger, actually) in the ‘Thin’ piece just had no filter, shall I say?  However, now that I have lost weight, it is essentially a free-for-all of weight comments from anyone who is in the mood to make a comment.  Some people act like they are genuinely concerned about me. And maybe they are.  I also realize this may not always be the case.  I just don’t say anything.  Are you feeling okay?  You have lost a lot of weight, huh?  Others say something caustic like You could afford to eat a sandwich, if I order a soup, for example.  And the same people mention my weight every time they see me.  They often depart with the words, Don’t lose any more weight!  Oh, okay, thank you….just for you, I won’t.

The truth of it is why does anyone care what I weigh?  Who cares?  I don’t care what anyone else weighs.  I don’t even know what I weigh.  Or when the last time was that I weighed myself.  And just to set the record straight:  I don’t have an eating disorder, I am not sick and no, I am not on a diet.  There I got that off my chest.  I feel better.  Well, not really.  Because I guess what bothers me the most about weight talk is that I wonder if we all forget about the person inside the body.  Whether I am heavy or thin, I am still Mary.  And I have feelings and a heart.  And a brain.  At least I don’t think I gave birth to my brain when I had children.  My Dad tells me repeatedly and I know I have told you before, “Mary, in one ear and out the other.” He says this in his stern, gravelly voice and I can hear it in my head.  This is sage advice from a man almost 85 years old who seems unfazed by careless comments that come his way but for me and I am sure many of you, insensitive comments still travel through our brains and often the comments or behavior of others sits there longer than we would like.

So as I sit here sipping coffee from a mug with the inscription ‘Let it go’, I guess I am going to have to do just that.  Let it go.  However, I am almost wishing I had a ‘Let it fester’ version!  I recently told a friend how I felt in regard to this subject and she replied, “Don’t be so sensitive”.  Ha!  That’s a good one.  I do not consider myself sensitive.  I worked for years in the business of advertising.  I am raising two children alone; one is a teenager (need I say more?). I was raised in an Irish home.  And I could go on and on.  But I won’t.  I would be a human piece of Swiss cheese if I let everything get to me.  Wouldn’t we all?  So what things are people saying about you that bother you? Please weigh in and let me know.  Because the weight of the matter is really the heart of the matter.  Hmmmm.  Food for thought.  No pun intended.  Seriously.  Until next time…..

See? I don't look like Swiss cheese, right?

See? I don’t look like Swiss cheese, do I?





Do your best, hope for the best

The title of this piece may be the most powerful and succinct parenting advice that I have ever heard and it came from my own mother.  And it wasn’t directed at me (for a change).  I don’t have to ask her for advice; she gives it freely and without solicitation!  It is usually correct, but some days I don’t want to hear it frankly.   However, a friend of mine who is also a parent asked my mother the other day, “What is your parenting advice?”  Without skipping a beat, she said rather matter-of-factly, “Just do your best and hope for the best.  That is all you can do.”

Now, my mother is 76 years old and has always been a wise woman, but this quick and casual answer made me think twice about all the advice she has given me over the years as a child, young adult and now as a parent of my own children. And I ask myself, ‘What did I miss because I wasn’t listening fully?’  My Mom and Dad are always the first people I go to with a question or crisis about parenting or life in general, for that matter.  For example, one night when I thought my son might be headed toward having a seizure (it turned out to be a night terror but the terror was all mine, trust me!), after I called 911, I called my mother.  She was there at the same time as the EMTs, maybe even before them!  That’s just the type of dedication both my parents and my sister have had for me and my children. That is a blessing beyond belief.

Anyway, I felt it important to pass this along to my readers because it is such simple, positive advice.  I recognize that some issues and problems with children require research, attention, specialists or what have you.  However, once the work is done (which really is the parent doing their homework and doing their best), then you have to sit back and hope for the best.  The movie ‘Shawshank Redemption’ had a line by Morgan Freeman where he uttered, “Hope is a dangerous word.”  The movie, if you have seen it, of course has nothing to do with parenting but it is a powerful line delivered by an equally powerful actor.  When it comes to parenting, however, there is love, patience, courage and yes indeed, hope.  Thank you Mom for always knowing the right thing to say and caring enough to say it.

My Mom and her brother (Uncle Robert) who were also raised by amazing parents

My Mom and her brother (Uncle Robert) who were also raised by amazing parents