Be Willing to Learn from Failure

Written on March 18, 2014 at 10:00 am , by

Inspired by my work at an inner-city hospital—but dismayed by what seemed a revolving door of the same critical patients—I decided to obtain a graduate degree in public health 10 years ago. I was exhausted by having a job during the day and school at night, but I felt like the luckiest student in the world when I confidently turned in my first paper.

I can still remember gasping for air when I checked my grade on my smartphone: C minus. I had let myself and my family down. I was an academic disappointment—or was I?

Looking back, that episode taught me a valuable lesson. I realized that there is a difference between a moment and an experience. Yes, I had let myself down in that moment. But the experience made me want to improve. This was not a fatal event, but one from which I could regroup.

Whenever you attempt a victory—whether it’s hitting a fundraising goal for your child’s school trip or creating the ultimate Easter basket—there is a risk that you may not succeed. The question is whether you stay in the game, knowing that there is always room for improvement, or slink over to the sidelines and never try, try again.

Be willing to learn from the experience of failing and be determined to turn things around. I did so with hard work and a willingness to listen to painful but honest feedback from my advisor. You can too. Remember: Failure is a symptom. It does not have to be a condition.

 

Janet Taylor, MD, MPH, a mother of four, is a psychiatrist in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @drjanet.

Got a question for Dr. Janet? Email her at askdrjanet@familycircle.com.


You Make It, We Post It!

Written on March 17, 2014 at 10:29 am , by

Instagram user @erriiinnnns perfectly cooked and plated our Chicken, Apple and Spinach Empanadas. Not only does folate (found in the spinach) fight cardiovascular disease, but baking instead of frying the empanadas makes them an all-around better-for-you meal. Click here for more Healthy Family Dinners.

 

Want to be featured here as next week’s chef? 

Here’s how: Make a Family Circle recipe, take a photo and share it on Instagram by tagging @FamilyCircleMag and #FCMADEIT.


7 Ways to Survive a Sleepless Night

Written on March 17, 2014 at 8:30 am , by

By Jessica Girdwain

 

What do you do when you’re lying awake staring at the alarm clock? Try these expert tips on how to survive a sleepless night.

 

1. Practice mindful breathing

Sit quietly and focus on taking deep breaths. When your mind wanders, return your focus to your inhales and exhales. Research shows this helps stop your mind from racing and lessens insomnia symptoms.

2. Try self-massage

Twice-weekly rubdowns helped the women in a Brazilian study drift off quicker, improve their sleep quality and wake up feeling more refreshed.

3. Read

Using as dim a light as possible, pick up a paper book or magazine (avoid e-readers, which emit blue light). Aim for a relaxing read, not a page-turner that keeps you wide-eyed.

4. Tidy up

Some light, monotonous cleaning (like dusting or straightening up your desk, not rearranging the fridge or scrubbing baseboards) can be soothing, making you rest-ready.

5. Do yoga

The relaxing practice is associated with better-quality sleep, according to new research. Get up and perform a few gentle stances, like the child’s pose or corpse pose, to unwind.

6. Relax your muscles

Starting at your toes, tense and release your muscles, working your way up to your face. This method, called progressive muscle relaxation, helped lull insomniacs to sleep in a study in the Journal of Cognitive and Behavioral Psychotherapies.

7. Turn on tunes

In a Dutch study review, music helped participants relax enough to improve sleep quality. Light tunes before bed (think smooth jazz) cue your body to wind down.

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Spring Discounts Are in the Air!

Written on March 14, 2014 at 5:39 pm , by

 

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best deals on the Web! We love a bargain as much as the next person, so check back every Friday for our favorite family-friendly discounts.

 

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, let the luck of the Irish be yours! Enjoy these fun and flavorful markdowns and giveaways (free Slurpee, anyone?).

• Jump on this great deal—12 festive crafts for both kids and adults in a FREE St. Patrick’s Day E-Book.

• Forgo the St. Patty’s Day aisle at the party store this year and download FREE Decorative Glasses.

• Deck out your fridge in FREE DIY Irish Magnets.

• Get ready to jig with a FREE Green Hill Celtic Music Sampler, downloadable from Amazon.

• Celebrate the official first day of spring on Thursday, 3/20, with a FREE Italian Ice from Rita’s.

• Text “DIETCOKE1” to 711711 and you’ll be sipping on a FREE Small Slurpee Drink in 7-Eleven’s newest flavor, Diet Coke Frost Cherry.

• Indulge in a cone of Carvel’s seasonal flavor, Mint, with $1 OFF any Medium or Large Cone through Saturday, 3/30.

• It’s smoothie season—score $1 OFF a Medium or Large Frozen Beverage at Baskin-Robbins.


High School Teachers Read Mean Tweets About Themselves

Written on March 14, 2014 at 1:19 pm , by

While we know that it’s impossible to post anything online truly anonymously, sometimes we all need a bit of reminding. Especially teens.

But that wisdom will definitely stick for the video production students of Los Alamitos High School. The students drove home the “be careful what you post” message in this very funny video in the style of the popular Jimmy Kimmel segment “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets”.

Teachers (one of whom didn’t even know what a tweet was) read mean messages about themselves as the song “Everybody Hurts” plays lightly in the background. Although the tweets are not real, they’re all based on the students’ most common thoughts about the teachers. Besides proving a point, this video shows that high school teachers have a pretty good sense of humor.

Be sure to share this video with your teen.


My Baby Book Fail and Other Maternal Inadequacies

Written on March 13, 2014 at 10:00 am , by

Getty Images/Seth Joel

Mothers. We are forever finding ways to beat ourselves up about something we did or didn’t do for our children, whether it’s a big or small something.

My friend Jill just recently came out with a wonderful baby book, When We Became Three: A Memory Book for the Modern Family.  As I admired her handiwork, I confessed that the subject brought up pangs of maternal inadequacy. I never made a memory book, and with two kids, now ages 14 and 20, it’s probably not going to happen.

Apparently, it runs in the family.

When I was a kid, I remember digging through our giant box of family photos and finding a memory book buried in the mix. I opened it to discover that most of the pages were blank. I asked my mom what the deal was, and she told me, “We were too busy loving you to keep track of everything!” I was an a cherished and doted on only child. My parents saved all my artwork, baby shoes and the like, but still, I would have liked to see my youth annotated and immortalized. I vowed that I would fill out such book when I had my own kids. Well, ha to that…

J’s first word was ball. He took his first steps at 13.5 months; I remember the first items of clothing on his tiny body, dinosaur onesie and pale yellow sweater.

S started her drunken sailor walk at 10.5 months; her first word was dog, and at barely two years of age, she could put together a puzzle like nobody’s business. I remember it well, but so many of the other things? Not so much. I honestly don’t recall the exact age they where when they cut their first teeth, or really put that little plastic potty to use. Too bad I didn’t write it down.

Does that make me a bad mother?

I adore my kids, really, I do.  And I am very sentimental. I have kept most of their various diplomas, awards, random cute shoes, stacks of lovely scribbles that then turned into real artwork, book reports, school papers, graduation programs, and all that good stuff.  I savor the whole experience of motherhood (well, most of it); it’s just that I don’t carry it out in an organized fashion.

While I’m at it, I never photographed my children wearing the same giant t-shirt from kindergarten to college to mark and marvel at their growth, (thanks Internet, for reminding of all of the other adorable things I never did for my children). I never wrote a loving letter to each of them on their birthdays with the intention of handing over a ribbon wrapped bundle on their 21st, but I meant to. I did take pictures of them on most first days of school; I’m not sure where all of those photos actually are, but they are most certainly not in a memory book.

Part of me wishes that I was that scrapbooking mom, who has a clearly marked, brightly colored books for each year of her children, but I know that I am not.

After many years, I compiled their first photo albums from sonogram to about the age of 10, but now that we rarely print out photos anymore, heavens knows what kind of evidence they’ll have of their tween and teen years beyond what’s trapped in mom and dad’s phone and Facebook. If they complain that there’s not more information, I’ll just use my mother’s line, “We were too busy loving you to keep track of everything!”

How do you keep track of your family memories?  Please share in the comments below.


Buggy Nights Is a Game (or a Movie?) That Will Have You Prancing Around the Room

Written on March 12, 2014 at 11:54 am , by

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been covering technology since before my kids were born. So my son (now 17) has seen a lot of tech in his young life: big beige computers, gaming systems that no longer exist, PDAs, laptops, smartphones, tablets and wearable technology. It’s hard to get him to marvel over innovations anymore. But the creators of Buggy Nights—an interactive video from animator and director Mark Oftedal, illustrator Jon Klassen, composer Scot Stafford and producer Karen Dufilho—got him up out of his chair, prancing around the room, making us stop what we were doing to look, and saying, “Wow! That is awesome!”

He wasn’t the only one in our house acting silly over this 3-D animated world you peer at through the screen of your smartphone. I got up to walk and spin around and “play” this animation that’s somewhere between a game and a movie and a lot like opening the secret door in the back of the wardrobe and plunging into a world of magic and whimsy. Even the people who were part of creating it are blown away by it.

“I have been working in computer animation for years,” Oscar-winning director Jan Pinkava, formerly of Pixar and now at Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP), which created the hardware-software mashup that makes the Buggy Nights animation possible. “I was at Pixar for many years,” he says. “But I am still astonished by what’s possible in this little consumer device that’s in your pocket. One minute it’s about work, your calendar and email. And then…this world opens up in front of you. We are just scratching the surface of what is possible.”

Once you enjoy this production, what is possible is exactly what you will marvel over. I immediately started wondering what would come next. Longer films? Ways to see animations superimposed on the world I’m in?

“I feel that the technology is a bridge to a new territory,” says Pinkava. “We are hacking back the jungle, exploring a new territory of what we can do with this device. We can create this amazing interactive cinematic experience that is somewhere between a movie and a game—or a movie where you control the camera.”

Pretty amazing. It’s only on the Moto X at the moment because ATAP had to game the hardware and software together to make it all work seamlessly. But, as Pinkava says, this is just the beginning. If you have a Moto X—or know someone who does—look for Spotlight Stories in the Play Store or on the device. Buggy Nights is one of the Spotlight Stories.

 

 

Christina Tynan-Wood has been covering technology since the dawn of the Internet and currently writes the Family Tech column for Family Circle. You can find more advice about buying and using technology at GeekGirlfriends.com.


Doing the Dirty Work: My Approach to Cleaning Messy Rooms

Written on March 10, 2014 at 2:09 pm , by

By JM Randolph, the Accidental Stepmom

The same sense of self-preservation that keeps me from shouldering the responsibility for regularly cleaning the kids’ rooms mandates that, eventually, I do have to go in. Go in as in, “Cover me, I’m going in.”

There will inevitably come a moment when I can’t ignore it anymore—usually because the door won’t shut. There will have been a blowup over a critical piece of sports gear or homework that has been unlocatable due to the mess. By this point, the room makes Hogwarts’ Room of Requirement look positively organized, and I am convinced there’s a camera crew from Hoarders lurking outside in the bushes.

There are two ways to approach Going In: with the kid and without the kid. Both have merits. There are some things that you truly need the child for—clothing, for instance. Does this still fit? Are you ever going to wear this without me forcing you to?

That leads to its own battles: If it takes you five minutes of contortions to get the pants on, they don’t fit anymore. There are more holes in your favorite shirt than there are in my favorite dust rag—how about we swap?

When you get the boo-boo face for throwing out jeans that are held together only by the belt loops and one pocket, take the opportunity to remind the children they are welcome to do this themselves without help. Leave out the part about how you’ll never let them leave the house wearing that.

With an overly sentimental child, or one with pack-ratting tendencies, you’re better off making some of these decisions on your own.

When #5 went to scouting camp this summer, I took the opportunity to Go In to his room. He had created two piles the size of furniture as high as his desk. I lost count of the trash bags full of actual trash that I sifted out of them, including the remnants of his lunch from the last day of school, approximately four weeks earlier.

He’s the youngest of five, the only boy. He’s also the youngest in his class, and on the cusp of everything changing at age 11 and the sixth grade. I know if I ask him, he will never let go of a contractor-size bag full of Webkinz that have long since met their electronic demise from neglect; I also know he’ll forget about them if they are no longer in his room. The big plastic fire truck with the electronic siren he got for Christmas when he was 4, tucked under the far corner of the bed? It’s going to bring a lot more joy to some younger boy who comes by it through donation. Broken toys from Happy Meals? Don’t get me started. Shoe box full of rocks collected one afternoon two summers ago? Perhaps it’s time to set them free.

It took me an entire day and night to get his room in order. Through it all, I second-guessed everything.

In the end, I felt happy to clear his space for him. He’d be able to find things and have room to breathe. I kept the Lincoln Logs and Legos; I kept the Matchboxes and exactly one bed-perimeter’s worth of stuffed animals. I rearranged the furniture.

When we picked him up from scout camp, his dad told him we had a surprise for him at home, and that he owed me. Now, I don’t operate under the illusion that a clean room qualifies as a “surprise” for an 11-year-old boy, but it was definitely noticeable, different and an unpleasant task he didn’t have to do.

By the time we got home, he’d forgotten there was supposed to be a surprise. He dropped his stuff in the living room and immediately went for the TV remote. When we redirected him to put his gear away, he picked up his backpack and went into his room. Ten minutes later he wandered out and went again for the TV remote. I peeked into his room and saw the contents of the backpack scattered all over the floor.

His dad asked, “So what did you think of your room?”

He replied, “What about it?”

 

JM Randolph is a writer, stagehand and custodial stepmom of five. She lives in New Jersey with her family and blogs at accidentalstepmom.com.


High School Basketball Team Shows Touching Display of Sportsmanship

Written on March 10, 2014 at 1:17 pm , by

Here’s something to start your week right. Watch this display of admirable sportsmanship by the basketball team at Desert Chapel High School in Palm Springs, California. We tip our hats to these generous athletes and their terrific coach. #ftw

 

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You Make It, We Post It!

Written on March 10, 2014 at 11:14 am , by

 

 

 

 

Bacon + Chocolate? Yes, please. Instagram user @sarahluvsjoy did an amazing job recreating our Bacon Chocolate Cupcakes for a birthday party—and even came up with the perfect caption for them! Get more creative recipe ideas here.

Want to be featured here as next week’s chef? 

Here’s how: Make a Family Circle recipe, take a photo and share it on Instagram by tagging @FamilyCircleMag and #FCMADEIT.

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Discounts for Foodies

Written on March 7, 2014 at 12:08 pm , by

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best deals on the Web! We love a bargain as much as the next person, so check back every Friday for our favorite family-friendly discounts. 

 

Turns out there is such a thing as free lunch—and dinner or dessert, too. Just click for a Krispy Kreme freebie, breakfast on the house at IKEA and six more whet-your-appetite deals. Don’t wait—there are hot offers that expire soon.

• In honor of this weekend’s switch to Daylight Savings, head to Krispy Kreme for a FREE Doughnut on Sunday, 3/9.

• Pick up Arby’s new Reuben Sandwich and you’ll score a FREE Small Fries and Small Drink until Tuesday, 3/11.

• Take the night off from cooking on Tuesdays—you’ll get a FREE Kids’ Entrée with every Adult Entrée purchased at Bob Evans through 4/18.

• Grab a FREE Breakfast at IKEA on Saturday, 3/8, before 11 a.m.

• Indulge in a spring and summer full of FREE  Wendy’s Jr. Frosty Treats when you purchase a $1 Frosty Key Tag, which will benefit the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

• Get a great deal on your daily sandwich or salad with $2 off any $7 purchase at Au Bon Pain until Tuesday, 3/11.

• Consider your weekend dinner plans solved. Head to LongHorn Steakhouse, buy two adult dinner entrées and receive a FREE Appetizer or Dessert through Monday, 3/10.

• Go ahead, grab a starter before dinner. Your Appetizer is FREE when you order any two Lobsterfest Entrées at Red Lobster until Sunday, 3/9.

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#LoveYourSelfie: How One Snap Can Build Self-Esteem in Kids

Written on March 7, 2014 at 11:00 am , by

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, then your selfie should be an epic story. And it doesn’t have to crash Twitter to be worth a read. I’ve been watching with interest the recent campaign by NBC’s Today show, #LoveYourSelfie. The campaign began with the anchors, faces without make-up, openly discussing their perceived flaws. Viewers sent in their own pictures, spanning a range of ages, actions, body types and expressions. Priceless.

I applaud the viewers who were brave enough to share their photos. However, it begs the question: Do we need a campaign that reminds us to love ourselves?

Yes.

Girls as young as 6 report being dissatisfied with their bodies, which is shocking but understandable. Media images promote thinness as perfection and seemingly place a higher value on models who are white, blonde and slim. Rarely are the concepts of beauty and goodness from the inside out adequately displayed.

The Cast of Today show

Low self-esteem and a negative self-image can lead to risk-taking behaviors in children and teenagers. Having a positive self-image, a healthy body image and good self-esteem are critical factors as children and teens work toward self-acceptance.

That’s where our important role as parents comes in. We have an opportunity to empower our children when it comes to how they feel about themselves. Doing that requires understanding how they view themselves and, more important, how we view ourselves. Our children listen to the words we use to describe our bodies and our feelings of self-acceptance. Our children listen to the comments we make about their friends as it relates to appearance.

Here’s a suggestion: Have everyone in your family take a selfie that they’re willing to share. Sit down and ask each person talk about their photo, explaining how they felt taking it and how the photo represents one of their strengths, then caption it in three words that describe what they like about themselves. Parents can use this opportunity to share their own experiences growing up and how they dealt with issues of self-esteem and self-acceptance.

Telling the story of your wonderful, beautiful, individual self is a click away: #LoveYourSelfie

Have you taken a look at your kid’s selfies? What do you think they say? Post a comment below and tell us about them.

 

Janet Taylor, MD, MPH, who took this selfie, is a mother of four and a psychiatrist in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @drjanet.

Got a question for Dr. Janet? Email her at askdrjanet@familycircle.com.

 

 

 

 

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