Archive for November, 2007

Letting Your Teenagers Hang Out

Posted on November 30, 2007. Filed under: Family Life |


What are your rules for letting your teenagers hang out?

Whenever my teenager daughters want to go to a friend’s house — whether it’s for a party, to hang out or spend the night — I remind them about our basic rules for going to someone’s house:

  • There needs to be a responsible adult somewhere in the house.
  • I need to know who else will be in the house (specifically, boys).
  • I need to speak to their friends’ parents to confirm the plans (thus avoiding the old “my friend and I are going to say we are spending the night at each other’s house when we are really going to hang out” routine).
  • If they ever feel uncomfortable in any situation, at any time of day or night, if they call us, we will come to get them.

Am I being too strict or overprotective? I don’t know. But I can blame it on my own adolescence and the fun I had getting into my friends’ parents’ liquor cabinets, combined with my adult realization of the trouble I could have gotten into. These rules also simplify my decision because my daughters already know what information I need in order to let them go. Whatever the case, I hope these rules will help us avoid a lot of bad situations that can expose my daughters to alcohol and drugs.

There’s no way to avoid boys since my daughters are in a co-ed school, but I am working on it—really.


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Posted on November 29, 2007. Filed under: Chuckles |


The object of the game is to move the red block around without getting hit by the blue blocks or touching the black walls.

If you can go longer than 18 seconds you are phenomenal. It’s been said that the US Air Force uses this for fighter pilots. They are expected to go for at least 2 minutes.

Careful, it’s addictive.

The URL is

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Information on Inexpensive Outings with the Kids

Posted on November 29, 2007. Filed under: Frugal Living, Things to Do, Westchester |

Everyone knows raising kids is expensive. Reports have estimated that it costs over $250,000 for a middle income family to raise a child. Not surprisingly, as a mother of three, I am always looking for ways to save money. While I can’t control housing, clothing and medical bills, I do have a lot of flexibility with entertainment costs. As a result, I am trying to compile a list of 100 things to do with kids that cost less than $25.

I live in Westchester, near New York City and have learned that, with a bit of planning and looking around, it is possible to entertain (and even educate) your kids without spending a lot of money.

One great resource for me is They list all sorts of inexpensive child-friendly events in Westchester and Fairfield counties. You can also subscribe to their e-newsletter, which goes out on Thursday, and has a searchable calendar for planning weekend events. Since I just received this week’s copy, I’ve started making plans for the weekend so I won’t find myself waking up on Saturday thinking “”what are we going to do today?”

Just trying to keep it simple.


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Respect Your Fatigue

Posted on November 28, 2007. Filed under: Stop the Drama |


Photo by TeeRish

The biggest challenge to my balancing act is getting enough sleep. Working all day, trying to get up early to exercise, not being short tempered with my husband and kids, all require that I be well rested.Sometimes this is caused by insomnia, which affects 30%-45% of adults. More frequently, it is caused by my lack of making sleep a priority. After getting everyone in bed and getting the house to myself, it is very tempting to stay up late reading, watching TV, surfing the web or just enjoying the silence. However, when I do not make sleep a priority, these other activities take over, and I spend the next day paying for it.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, not getting enough sleep puts me at risk for more than having a bad day. They report that poor sleep is associated with:

· Increased risk of motor vehicle accidents (I have been known to “rest my eyes” while waiting for a red light);

· Increased weight (Now I have another cause to blame);

· Increased risk of diabetes and heart disease (as if my increased weight and family history were not enough);

· Increased risk of psychiatric conditions such as depression and substance abuse (again, my weight and family history notwithstanding);

· Decreased ability to pay attention or remember new information (That may be advancing age as much as sleep deprivation).

Although I feel it is very difficult to get enough sleep, apparently single working women have it worse. According to the Sleep America Poll, working single women generally get less than 6 hours of sleep per night, and more than half wake up not feeling refreshed. Surprisingly, women who work part-time and are mothers of school aged children report getting the best sleep with half getting eight hours of sleep per night, and 60% taking a nap at least once per week. I belong to the demographic group they call “Briefcases and Backpacks”, women who work full time and have school aged children. We spend less than six hours in bed per night, 72% report having insomnia, 60% give up sleep and exercise, and we have the highest rate of drowsy driving at 35%.

So what’s a Briefcase-Backpacker to do? Respect your fatigue. About two years ago, I committed myself to getting enough sleep and promised myself I would get into bed by 10 PM every night. I am not 100% successful at making that happen, but when I can do it consistently, it makes a huge difference in how I feel and my ability to get through the day. It also makes it easier for me to recover from those nights when I don’t get enough sleep. Getting into bed at 10PM means that I can start my day at 6AM with eight hours of sleep. However, I have also learned that I sometimes need more than eight hours of sleep, and have been known to get into bed as early as 8PM or 9PM when my body calls for it. Here is my list of how to make getting a good night’s sleep a reality:

· Get the kids in bed 1-2 hours before you go to bed. This gives you some time to your self. My teenagers like to stay up late, so I tell them they can stay up but they have to stay in their rooms and leave me alone, giving me some time to myself.

· Do not wait up for your husband. My husband has night owl tendencies, and as much as I love snuggling with him to go to sleep, I have learned to go to sleep on my own. When he wants to, he can come to bed early and knows where to find me.

· Make an appointment with yourself to get into bed. If I have something to do after work, I plan it so I can be in bed by 10PM. If there is something good on TV that goes past 10PM, I won’t watch it. If I feel like watching a DVD in the evening, I make sure I start it early enough to be in bed on time.

· Go to bed even earlier. Getting to sleep by 10PM often means getting into bed at 9PM or 9:30PM, so I can settle down, read and be asleep by 10PM.

· Exercise. When I started running, I found I needed more sleep and have no problems getting to sleep.

· Turn off the TV. On the nights when I have stayed up late it is often because of TV, and it is always because of bad TV—reality shows are my vice, and are so not worth losing sleep over—literally!

· Turn off the TV II. When I do watch TV before going to bed, it cannot be anything that gets my heart pumping. I had to put a moratorium on my watching “24” because it causes too much of an adrenaline rush for me.

· Make your bed “delicious”. I found that getting a set of 300 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets was worth the investment and made slipping into bed an absolute delight. Major props also go to my electric blanket in the winter. I turn it on when I put my kids to sleep, and by the time I get into bed it’s nice and toasty. Then I can turn it off so I don’t get too hot during the night.

Other tips from the National Sleep Foundation include:

· Establish a consistent sleep and wake schedules, even on weekends

· Create a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath or listening to soothing music – begin an hour or more before the time you expect to fall asleep

· Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool

· Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows

· Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex

· Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime

· Exercise regularly during the day or at least a few hours before bedtime

· Avoid caffeine and alcohol products close to bedtime and give up smoking

Hmmm. No mention of Egyptian cotton sheets? No advice on how to keep your toddler from crawling into bed with you? And they call themselves experts.

Good Night!

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Weightwatchers Is My Salvation

Posted on November 27, 2007. Filed under: Food |

img_1749.jpgPhoto by Anne

Like many mothers…who work at a computer…and eat on the run….and love chocolate….and butter….and are getting on in years, I needed to lose a few pounds.OK, more than a few pounds.

Without giving my exact weight, I will say that my body mass index, or BMI was 29.6. If you want to calculate yours, the National Heart Lung a Blood Institute has an easy to use calculator on line. The BMI estimates your body fat using a formula based on your height and weight. Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25-29.9, while obesity is defined as a BMI greater than 30. Knowing that I was overweight, I calculated my BMI and was horrified to find that I was knocking on the door of being officially obese-YIKES!

While I knew I did not look my best with the extra weight, what caused me to really get concerned was knowing that everyone in my family developed diabetes as they got older. Since extra weight increases your chances of developing diabetes, I knew losing weight was the best way to avoid our “family tradition”.

My weight was never an issue when I was younger, but after having children it slowly increased over the years. I have tried a number of interventions to lose weight.

  • The Atkins Diet—this works, but is hard to sustain over a long period of time, and I found that when I went off the diet, I gained back all of my weight, plus a little extra.
  • Walking three miles per day—I was able to keep this up, but it did not make a difference with my weight.
  • Running three miles every other day—I was able to keep this up too, but it still didn’t make a difference with my weight.
  • Food journals—closely counting calories and limiting my intake to create a 500 calorie per day deficit worked. Why 500 calories? Well, you need to have a 3500 calorie deficit to lose one pound, and a 500 calorie deficit each day would lead to a one pound per week weight loss. This works too, but I found calculating the calories in everything I ate was too time consuming and hard to do over time.

I started to run to help with my stress a couple of years ago. When I realized I had a BMI of nearly 30 last year, I was running three miles, 3-4 days per week. So while my stress was better, running did not seem to help with my weight loss.

Then two things happened that gave me some insight:

  • First, I was on a plane ride and happened to sit next to a personal trainer. As we talked about getting in shape and losing weight, he told me that it really was about diet AND exercise. I would not lose weight with diet alone or exercise alone, but needed to do both. I looked into it and found what he told me has been supported by research. The National Weight Control Registry is a project out of Brown University that is monitoring people who have successfully lost and maintained their weight. They report that 98% of these successful people changed what they ate, and 94% increased their physical activity. So nearly all of them used both diet and exercise to lose weight.
  • Second, I was out with a bunch of friends for dinner, and we were going around the table, sharing updates on our lives. One of my friends reported she was training for a half marathon, ran every other day and was up to 9 mile runs on the weekends. However, she also complained that she was not losing any weight despite all the vigorous exercise. Another friend reported she had committed to taking better care of herself in the previous six months, had taken a much needed vacation, and joined weightwatchers and lost 25 pounds. 25 POUNDS! So here were two women, one running several miles per week, and the other in a weight loss program. And it was the woman in the program who had been successful.

I signed up for weightwatchers the next day.

Six months later, I had lost my first 20 pounds. Weightwatchers makes use of meetings to provide support to its members, but I have too much going on to attend another meeting. So I participate through their on line program. They use a combination of food journaling, portion control, recipe recommendations, advice about low fat foods, cooking alternatives, support and an emphasis on healthy food choices to help with weight loss. Plus you can earn extra points for more food through exercise, which they also emphasize.

I am sharing all of this because I was really discouraged about my ability to lose weight. However, I thought I would give weightwatchers a try and committed my self to doing it for exactly 90 days. As the weight started coming off, and I could still eat what I liked (although in moderation) I felt like I finally found a system that worked with me, and would be easy to maintain over time.

I will talk more about this weight loss effort, but wanted to share how I got to this program, and found that it has worked for me. I know I m not the only one trying to lose some extra post-baby weight……

La Lucha Continua.


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What I Am About

Posted on November 26, 2007. Filed under: Introduction | Tags: |

Photo by AnnePhoto by Anne

Parent Jazz

Sounds like a cool, laid back mom doesn’t it?

If you thought this was a place to hear about being a calm, nurturing Mom who has it all together, then this is not the place for you. I have three kids, a full time job, a husband, friends and family who all seem to need something from me. I am trying to figure out how to keep my life intact, my kids entranced, my friends in touch and my body in shape. How? By letting go and simplifying my life, while keeping what’s important.

I can’t do it all and am not trying to be the perfect wife, mother, sister or friend. But I will accept being okay at what I do, especially if that means I feel less stressed, more in touch with the people I care for, more at ease, and have more time to do the things I enjoy, both for myself and with the people I love.

So this is about my ‘riffs” about trying to keep it together, by keeping my life as grounded and simple as possible.

Hopefully, by writing about simplicity, I can make it more of a reality for myself.


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  • About

    Musings on how a disorganized woman with a full time job, three kids and a real need to relax is trying to make life simple.

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