Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Letter to My Daughters

What will you leave your daughter?
Well, I was in the bookstore picking up my book club's newest read and as always I found myself perusing through books in the children's section. Well, I came across a book by President Obama. I was so inspired, I decided to buy a notepad for both my husband and myself to document our  own letters to our daughters. He isn't much of a writer, but his love for his girlies is much more than words could express.... so I am excited to see what we come up with.

I know I primarily focus on how to love our daughters, but this would be a great way to encourage any child. When I shared this idea with a friend, she considered writing letters to her unborn child-- all of the things she would like to share with her future son or daughter. I thought that was such a genuine gesture of love!!! I plan to share my first letter with you all soon as it is done.

Cupcakes and Cocktails... a perfect Mothers DAY or NIGHT

My neighbor has started a group to bring busy women together and fellowship once a month (this was on her dream board and she is making it happen along with applying to that doctoral program, whoop! whoop!). Well, the first event is Cupcakes and Cocktails. The women were asked to bring a cupcake that represents their personality. I am a vegetarian and very deliberate about what I eat so I am going to bring a vegan strawberry cupcake. I am a real girly girl. I absolutely LOVE pink and leopard. I don't wear high heels often since I am on my feet at work and running after my active two-year-old does not make for a perfect fit. Nonetheless, I am very much a big girlie.

The host also asked us to bring our favorite cocktail recipe to share. Instead of the typical casserole or meatloaf recipe share, she decided to spice it up with a cocktail share. I don't drink much, but my husband and I do a great deal of entertaining at our home, so having an arsenal of cocktail recipes would make for great fun for our adult guests. 

Here is my Fave Cocktail 
Tropical Sunrise

Orange Juice
Splash of grenadine
top with a cherry

Mommies, this would be an awesome way to gather with your neighborhood mothers and unwind. Leave the babies at home with Daddy. 

Mothers and Daughters: A Shared Vision

Last Sunday, I hosted Dream Girlies Mother/Daughter Dream Big Brunch. The objective of the day was to get mothers and daughters together to create and discuss their vision for 2011. I realized what an impact it was on my own girlies and wanted to share the experience with other mothers. Well, the day ended up turning into a night full of fun for the girlies (after they finished their dream boards, of course) and then an opportunity for the mothers to discuss and share their own dreams. Some were fun like "run away for a week” and “participate in a photo shoot in a variety of two-pieces”. Everyone wanted to go back to school, some to enter doctoral programs and others to finish their MA programs. Nonetheless, we had fun sharing. What I enjoyed most about the gathering was the spirit of the women. I was in the presence of mothers with daughters who knew that in order to be the best mommies, they needed to identify the items that would enable them to be their BEST selves. I was on a natural high learning so much from them and their experiences. 
My mother wanted me to be her wings, to fly as she never quite had the courage to do. I love her for that. I love the fact that she wanted to give birth to her own wings ~Erica Jong

We encouraged one another and promised to hold one another accountable for making the dreams a reality, but more importantly, help one another through the process. I believe bringing dreams to fruition requires the collective effort of all we share them with! I had an awesome time sharing my 2011 dreams with these mothers and daughters. 

Sorry I didn't take pictures of my 2011 dream board but here are a few things I plan to focus on this year: 

Can you see me??? My catamaran ride 
  • Photo shoot (whoop! whoop!)                                        
  • Take a dance class like African or beginner's ballet
  • Become a personal fitness trainer
  • Ride a catamaran (the Caribbean)
  • Learn French 
  • Seal a deal with a publisher
  • Become freelance writer (doing it and loving it!)
  • Save for France 2012 vacation with girlies 
  • finish M.Ed and more forward to Ph.D
  • Continue to be the best mommy I can BE!!!

Fitness and Fabulousness 



Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Cure for the Mean Girl Syndrome

Just recently, my oldest daughter began to experience the harsh reality of bullying or what I like to deem, the case of the “mean girl syndrome”. An allusion to the Tina Fey’s classic comedy, “Mean Girls”, the movie depicted (stereotypically, nonetheless) the institution of bullying. Of course, like most cinematic tales of this nature, the antagonist is always brought down by the heroic protagonist, who transitions after overcoming their tragic flaw or in other words, realizing that being true to self is much more important then “fitting in”. However, in reality the protagonist does not always win. We see in the news where children commit suicide or in some cases homicide to deal with bullying. Essentially, parents need to be more active in the social emotional development of their children. Bullying is real and it became real to me when my daughter brought home a “case of the mean girl syndrome”.
Well, the tale started in Ms. Flanagan’s second grade classroom. My daughter is a very driven child. An intrinsic learner who can be found buried in a book or writing in her journal for entertainment. She values her good reputation and seeks out positive responses purposefully, so it didn’t come to a surprise when she came home complaining about the girls in her class calling her a “teacher’s pet”. She did not show significant signs of dismay so I did not question it further. It was not until I noticed her attitude towards her younger sisters. She became unusually disrespectful to them and exhibited bully type behavior. She would force them to give up items on command and name-calling became routine when she did not get her way.  I questioned her about her friendships at school and she was very cautious about what she shared. She knew I loved to hear about her academic experiences so she would change the subject to embellish those aspects of her day. Reluctantly, I let go and made and effort to combat her “new behavior”.

Then something happened. She started throwing tantrums about riding the school bus. It was a wake up call for me and I decided to address her more firmly. She couldn’t resist my interrogation and “spilled the beans”. She told me about how one girl kicked her on her leg so hard it cut her skin and how on another day their ridicule almost made her cry. I was heartbroken and admittedly wanted to rush to the school and file a report. Instead, I decided to have “the talk”.
I never imagined I would have to discuss the woes of friendships with my seven-year old. Perhaps, age ten was more what I was prepared for, but not seven. I explained to my seven year old that people could be mean for several reasons and to never take it personally. We are humans with good and bad days; however I ensured her that allowing people to mistreat her was never going to be OK. I also encouraged her to talk to an adult when people around her made her feel unimportant or unloved. She seemed to find comfort in my words, leaving me satisfied.
Essentially, I knew I was responsible for her social development and although, I wasn’t able to change the “mean girls” in her school, I was able to change the way she viewed them as human beings, thus enabling her to find alternative ways of dealing with them.  She was being mistreated so she mistreated her sisters as a way to deal with her own victimization, but with my help she was able to realize that and I was able to realize that I needed to be a more active participant in her social development.
Every bully does not have to be brought down through social embarrassment as Lindsay Lohan’s character handled her antagonistic foes in the movie, “Mean Girls”. Sometimes the victim needs to understand that the problem is less about them and more about the nature of human err.

Here are some suggestions for talking about and possibly preventing bullying:

  • ·      Ask your child direct questions about teasing
  • ·      Talk to your child about what friends he/she has and whether he/she plays alone or eats alone
  • ·      Teach your child about confidence and resilience and how to develop social skills
  • ·      Involve your child in activities that can boost self-esteem, such as sports or music
  • ·      Take threats seriously

Warning signs that your child might be experiencing bullying:

  • ·      You might notice your child acting differently or seeming anxious
  • ·      Not eating, sleeping well or doing things that he/she usually enjoys
  • ·      He/She seems moodier or more easily upset than usual, or start avoiding certain situations, like taking the bus to school
What to do if your child is being bullied:

  • ·      Encourage you child to talk about the bullying- listen in a loving manner
  • ·      Don’t assume that your child did something to provoke or aggravate a bully.
  • ·      Support your child’s feelings.
  • ·      Don’t encourage retaliation
  • ·      Teach your child safety skills when bullying occurs. This may include knowing where to turn for immediate help, how to be assertive, using humor to defuse a situation and appropriate diplomacy skills. 

  • ·      Talk to your child's educators, including teachers, guidance counselors, and principals. Work together to find real solutions now.
  • ·      Don't contact the bully's parents yourself. Let the school handle that potentially sensitive situation. 

  • ·      If your child has been physically attacked or is threatened with harm, talk to school officials immediately to help determine if police should be involved.