Friday, March 6, 2015

Legal Guardians

It is something that we don't want to even think about, but it's something important to discuss. What happens to your children if you and your partner die? (Told you it was something you don't want to think about). Choosing legal guardians for your children is an important step that parents should make. Many of us may assume that certain people will take of your children if something were to happen but what if they don't. Without legal guardians in place you are leaving the future of your children up to the courts. They could end up with family you would never have chosen or even in foster care. By naming legal guardians you can rest a little easier.

When it comes to picking legal guardians for your children there are many things to consider. You want people who you will love your children as if they were their own. You also want to consider religious preferences and their thoughts on education, dating and other things that are important to you. One person, not a couple, should be listed as guardian so that if there is the incident of divorce.  Of course you want to have a serious talk with your potential guardians. All parties involved need to discuss everything open and honestly. All this is for the best interest of the children involved.

Remember that even after you have named guardians, this does not mean that it is set in stone. It can be changed. Maybe the person you listed suddenly moves across the country. If your children are older moving across country after losing their parents may not be what you want for your children. Or what if the person you name unexpectedly has triplets. In our situation at this time my Mom is listed as guardian but in 10 years we may change that since my Mom will be retired and she may change her mind about raising teenagers at that age.

After the decision has been made go that extra step and make it official and make it legal. A last will and testament drawn up by a lawyer will help you feel more secure and confident that your children will be taken care of. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Get to Streaming: Must Watch Instant Vids

It's that time of year again. No, not daylight savings or spring cleaning. It's time for streaming TV show gems. With the return of House of Cards,  I've gotten excited about all the possibilities for late night TV binging.

Let's start with House of Cards. Kicking off their third season this Kevin Spacey led series is the perfect balance of suspense and make-believe. At least I hope it's all make-believe. If real politics are anything like this show then Obama is one scary dude. Without giving away to much, I'd say give this show ago. The first season can feel slow in the beginning, but this show is worth it. 

Have you seen or heard of the show Transparent available on Amazon instant video. This is a show about a father who decides to transition to being female later in life. This change impacts the lives of all he loves including his three grown children. This one while funny at times, is really a show about family and overcoming. Dialogue feels so common place; this family loves and argues like any other normal family while going through major life issues. Stream this one today.

June 2nd is around the corner and that means Orange is the New Black is almost back on Netflix. Another show in its junior season that only continues to ignite buzz. The best part of this show is the fiery and unique ensemble made up of amazing female actors (and a couple of male goofs too). This is not only a hilarious show to watch, but it gives you something bigger to think about regarding the prison system and women. This group of actors actually just won an Emmy for best TV ensemble. All in all, this is a must stream series, so get started on season 1 & 2 if you haven't already. 

What are you steaming????

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What's Your Child's EF?

When it comes to parenting there are a lot of different words, terms and acronyms that we learn all about. Recently I read an article all about EF. This was a new one for me. EF stands for executive function. EF is all about the ability to regulate emotions, organize thoughts, setting goals, paying attention and resisting impulses. These are all things that as adults many of us have, but our kids can sometimes lack these things. Basically it is what allows us to focus and work.

Obviously kids are not born with EF, it is something that develops over time. In certain types of disorders like autism and ADHD the EF is impaired. When a child has an impaired EF they have trouble with self-control and attention. There are also many cases where a child does not have any kind of disorder and scores high on intelligence exams and yet lacks EF. Without the executive function kids find it difficult to concentrate on a given task like homework.

I have found with my 9 year old that she has a hard time getting to work on things she has to do. She has this "It's not fun" mentality and sometimes just shuts down when it comes to things like school work. Reading about EF made me realize that she is still developing her executive function and this is something that as a parent I need to help her with. So off to the internet I go!

Some ways to help improve EF skills are...

  • Stick to a routine. Starting homework at the same time everyday instead of waiting until your child feels like it. 
  • Enforce clean-up time to help keep a clean an organized space.
  • Set time limits for activities or break down tasks in time increments. 
  • Have you child use a day planner to help to teach organization and time management.
  • Checklists for things that need to get done during the day or for a big project.
  • Games that involve tracking, memorizing, and matching.
  • Music or dance lessons can help with attention and memorization. 
  • Puzzles like word searches, crosswords and even sudoku can help with attention. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lessons in Love

Today marks 12 years since I've officially been with my hubby. This means 12 years ago he asked me to be his girlfriend. At that point, life was easy. The most annoying part of life was having to be apart for too long. Much has changed since becoming my hubby's newly minted girlfriend. We grew up, evolved and learned invaluable love lessons:

1. Love is a verb. Such a cliché and yet it's true. When I was two and a half years into my marriage it was so hard we almost divorced. My husband recently revealed that during the troubled times though I spoke to him with contempt and used harshly critical words, my actions were loving overall. I supported him. I contributed and never truly stopped loving him (you wouldn't have guessed that by my hateful words at the time). Even when things aren't turbulent for couples and you aren't facing challenges love is still all about ACTION! Love is in the doing and not simply about words strung together. That being said the best way to keep your relationship in a loving space is to show love through your gestures, listen actively and constantly "woo" one another.

2. Love is evergreen. Ed Sheeran said it best. Real love doesn't grow old. Love is about being able to transition and grow together because life itself is ever-changing. This dynamic is inevitable, so relationships must grow with time. This growth means progress of any kind, reaching new goals together and simply maturing. 

3. Love is hard work. If your long-term romantic relationship has always been easy then you're a rare, rare specimen. Challenges like changes are typical aspects of life and so love will inevitably go through ups and downs. The secret is to understand the downs will come, prepare for them and enjoy the highs when you have them. Embrace that love takes work and never giving up on the hard work leads to truly successful and lasting relationships. 

What has a loving relationship in your life taught you?

Monday, March 2, 2015

YouTube Kids

I remember when my kid came into our room freaked out thanks to falling into a YouTube hole that left her scared. She started on the Angry Birds game and it ended up on some scary anime clip. YouTube can be a really great resource. As a homeschooling Mom I use it all the time, but am always worried what video will pop up during  search or after a video ends. 

YouTube has made parents a little more secure with the new YouTube Kids app. I love this! There is so much good, funny and educational videos out there and now kids can safely explore all YouTube has to offer. This app will definitely go onto my kids tablet! 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Do you hate sitting in meetings???

Everyone's had that boss that runs terrible meetings. Maybe the boss is you and you really don't mean to run such unproductive meetings. Whatever the case may be everyone can shift meeting culture if they care enough. If you're desperate to change how a meeting is run in your workplace try the following tips next time you facilitate or suggest these to the person in charge (that last part takes courage if you're not confident speaking up). Act in spite of fear. You'll all be better off for it.

1. Set meeting norms. Meetings can become useless and unproductive if there isn't a general standard for how they're held. Much like rules on the first day of class meeting norms help set the tone for meetings. My team agreed on some of the following norms which spills over into other areas of our work 1. Stay on track and conscious of time (respect everyone's time). 2. Maintain an open and honest space for communication. Giving each other actual permission to be honest is an undervalued asset that works wonders for healthy work conflict and debate. 3. Step-up/Step-back: don't overpower conversations but also don't hide out attempting to never contribute. These are just a sampling of norms but there's countless. This practice of setting meeting norms could bring on the immediate shift your meeting culture needs.

2. Fill your agenda with purpose. Our actual agenda outlines not only time allotments per discussion topic but these topics also have listed by them an owner and a purpose. Here are the following five purposes we use: decision, planning, evaluation, problem-solving, and information. Information is usually the most unproductive. Keep those short and sweet. These indicators hint toward the desired outcome of a topic and allow you to better achieve it. 

I must acknowledge: Point 1& 2 were the result of consulting with the company Turning West (a firm that exists to make businesses run better).

3. Come prepared. Too many times people don't worry about a meeting until 10 mins. before they're actually there. That's anti-productive and everyone can see right through those employees. Be intentional in how you prepare for meetings to truly get the best of them. Prepare thoughtful questions and use those with peers and staff get others to improve their participation and contribution in meetings. 

4. Share meeting agenda beforehand. Giving team members time to prepare is key, therefore receiving a synopsis of what to expect helps engage them beforehand and inspires them to complete bullet point #3. Of course this takes time, but it leads to productivity, so take the time to do this if possible.

There you have it - 4 quick tips for better  meetings! 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

How I stopped the dreaded "What's for dinner?"

As a Mom there was no other question that I have heard more than the dreaded...

"Mom! What's for dinner?"

I heard it all day long from every person in my family. Right in the middle of a busy day the last thing I needed was to stop and mentally go through what things I have in my fridge to make a proper dinner. It was driving me crazy. So much so that I took some action. I started writing and posting weekly menus. Now if someone utters those 3 little words I just point to the posted menu on the fridge.

My weekly menu writing has also had a few other positive side effects. 
  • Saving money! That's right taking the 15 mins. or so to make a menu has helped us save money. By making a menu I can shop for only exactly what I need. No more produce rotting in my fridge and throwing money away.
  • Healthy eating. By having meals planned out we eat out less. It is so easy to give in to the convince of fast food when you don't have a plan. 
  • Improved cooking skills. I try to add a new dish every week. Thanks to sites like Pinterest its so easy to find new recipes to try. Tonight I made roasted broccoli as a side dish!