Month

October 2015

10 Habits of Great Leadership

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I have had the privilege to work for some great and not so great leaders in my career.  Yes, you read that correctly, I have been privileged to work for some not so great leaders as well.  I may not have enjoyed it at the time but they taught me valuable lessons.  During these times, you learn what you are made of and the type of leadership you don’t respond to as well.  As a manager for many years now, these are the leadership qualities that have helped me grow as a leader and therefore translate to my successful teams.

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10 Ways to Enjoy Fall As A Family

As a transplant last year from the Southwest to the Coastal South of North Florida I quickly learned I had never really experienced the beauty of fall. The beauty of the leaves changing, the cool, crisp breeze and the smell of pine have won me over.  It is enchanting and a gentle nudge to slow down and soak in the beauty.

Below are 10 unique, must try ideas to enjoy the season as a family this year!

  • Make Time for a Road-trip

When was the last time you got in your vehicle with time on your side?  Start making your list of local scenic drives, landmarks and recommendations from friends and colleagues.  Be ready for that day when inspiration strikes.  I keep a small list of places we want to visit that are driving distance on my phone as well as a variety of Pinterest boards for inspiration.  Explore your own backyard, you might be amazed at what you’ll find.

  • Bake a Pie Anything

Baking is just fun!  Chances are you didn’t do much of it this Summer but fall is the perfect time to dust off the ‘ole mixer, get out the wooden spoons and start creating. Here are a couple of healthy alternatives to some fall favorites.

Lauren Conrad of Laurenconrad.com posted 10 Thanksgiving Recipes Gone Healthy

  • Add Fragrance to Your Home

I recently tried the stove top potpourri ideas I keep coming across and it was perfect! This is the recipe we used from Allparenting.com. I was also introduced to the Cinnamon broom!  We currently have some surrounding the fireplace, they smell delightful for quite some time and they are supposed to bring you good luck!

  • Make Leave Piles and Play

Some of my favorite pictures of my oldest is her playing in the leave piles from our backyard.  They are natural significance of fall and kids know just how to make them picture perfect.

  • Visit Your Local Pumpkin Patch

Again, pumpkin patches are a great picture opportunity and you only get so many years to enjoy it with the kiddos. Take advantage of these precious years and let them ride the hay ride 5 more times mom.

  • Explore Your City: Eat Local

It’s time to get out and try that new restaurant in downtown and that coffee shop on the beach!  I recently fell in love with a local bakery called Cinotti’s.  They have Pumpkin doughnuts that are out of this world.  The occasional indulgence is a great way to celebrate the season.

  • Make a Fall Craft

Whether it is for Halloween, Fall or Thanksgiving there are tons of craft ideas to do as a family.  Here is a great resource to get you started!

These are 8 Fall Crafts by Handsonaswegrow.com

  • Go Camping

Depending on your location, this may be a very viable option.  Even if only for a night it is a fun and low-cost way to disconnect and spend time together.  Start with Reserve America as a way to locate campgrounds near you.  Many can even be reserved online!

  • Volunteer

The local food bank or soup kitchen is always looking for volunteers.  Get a group together or bring the family with you.  Volunteering in the community can be incredibly humbling and offer perspective for the whole family.

  • Make a Non-Traditional Thanksgiving

This can be as simple as adding few new dishes or overhauling the whole spread.  It really comes down to making new traditions while hanging on to the traditional ones that represent your family best.  New traditions don’t necessarily need to be food related.  Perhaps look at creating a theme for your holiday meal, like Gratitude!

 

For more ideas or to see what I’m pinning follow me on Pinterest!

 

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What are some activities you and your family do each year or perhaps what you would like to try?  Share in the comments below!

 

 

 

What is Cold Pressed Juice & Should I be Drinking It?

Cold pressed juice seems to be all the rage lately and I’m not sure if I wasn’t paying attention to the trend or if it really is new to the marketplace.  Most recently, a cold pressed juice bar popped up next to my Barre studio so naturally I had to check it out. So what exactly is cold pressed juice and is it any good for you?

First, not all juicing is the same.  If you remember juicing to be anything like I do it was a lot of work for not a lot of gain!  Depending on the quality of your home juicer you could chop and push fruits and veggies for a good hour and maybe end up with a glass of juice and another hour of clean-up.  Well the good news is that juicers seem to sure have come a long way over the years.  For at home use you can find a variety of machines ranging from about $100-$3000.

Their are basically two juicing system types on the marketplace today.  Their is the traditional Centrifugal force and Cold Pressed.  This article from the Huffington Post does a nice job defining the two types of systems.

The Centrifugal Juice Extractors

“Traditionally, this is the most common type of juicer. These typically utilize a fast-spinning metal blade that spins against a mesh filter, separating juice from flesh via centrifugal force. The juice and pulp are then separated into different containers. The problem with centrifugal juicers is that the fast-spinning metal blade generates heat, which destroys some of the enzymes in the fruits and vegetables you’re juicing. The heat also oxidizes those nutrients, rendering less nutritious juice than a cold-press juicer.

Cold Press Juicers (a.k.a. Masticating Juicers)
“These newer juicers extract juice by first crushing and then pressing fruit and vegetables for the highest juice yield. Because they don’t produce as much heat, they keep more of the fresh ingredients’ nutrients intact. This is closer to what you’ll get (but NOT the same) from BluePrint type of cleanse.

A couple things to keep in mind with any juice consumption:

Fiber.  To be really honest I am not a fan of drinking a lot of juice without also consuming fiber. Fiber can slow the absorption of sugar and this can help regulate blood sugar.  If you are consuming fruits and vegetables high in soluble and insoluble fiber, you are still consuming their juice and nutrients but they will help you stay full longer and the fiber helps regulate that blood sugar spike.  Fiber is great for regularity and a lot of research is suggesting much of our health starts and ends with our gut health.  See below for suggested reading. That being said, drinking the occasional nutrient dense juice and giving your digestive system a breather is not a bad thing either. There are many suggested cleanses using juicing and these are a great way to get your body, energy and overall health back on track.

Recommendations on where to start:

In my opinion, Cold Pressed juice is going to give you many more ‘nutrients for your juicing and is good to do as long as you are making it part of a well rounded and fiber rich diet. The cost may be a little more up front for the system.  Another option is buying from companies like the popular rising brand Suja.  The Suja 7 Day Juice Solution offers up advise on who to jump start your juicing adventure.  I have personally tried many of these blends from Suja and my absolute favorite is the Master Cleanse.  It has a kick to it with the cayenne pepper but once you get over the initial shock of it, the maple syrup touch is really quite delightful. Check them out as they are popping up in most local markets!

When you are ready to start juicing on your own time, I would recommend something like the Juicepresso.  It has 40 RPM but low noise, yields a lot of juice, comes with a 7 year warranty and many owners comment on the easy clean up. Plus, it has a sleek design which is always a bonus! It is certainly on my Christmas wish list this year.

 

Tell me about your experiences with juicing!  What system do you use and what are some of your favorite combinations?

5 Toddler Temper Tantrum Triggers & How to Survive

The last couple weeks have been especially hard for our little toddler.  At 2 going on 3 years old in a few months she has been less than patient and unusually demanding from sun up to sun down.  There are moments when I can’t help but think where did we go wrong?!  What I find most interesting is that I don’t recall our oldest being quite so extreme at this age.  Now don’t get me wrong, she had her shiny moments of toddler terror but her little sister makes those days look like a walk in the park.  It is really difficult as a parent to gauge where the shift in behavior happens, nail down the exact triggers and plan a course of action.  I’ll give you an example:  I would pick my girls up last year when they attended the same pre-school/day care.  It was a great school where they had a good plan for the day and nurturing staff.  Some afternoons they would be whiny and have trouble listening to the simplest instructions.  I’m not going to lie, my initial knee jerk reaction would usually be to go into discipline mode and this usually didn’t offer much relief other than elevating their emotions and mine.  I’d rack my brain as to the various triggers.  Maybe they aren’t feeling well today? (Did I hear her cough this morning?) Maybe she didn’t nap very long? (Im pretty sure I forgot to pack her the favorite naptime blanket!) The internal dialogue can really mess with your confidence as a parent. The reality is that you can’t always be with them and especially as a working parent, it may be difficult to know exactly where to start. I find what helps me work through these days is going back to what I know well: psychology!  The study of human behavior begins at birth and there are many common patterns of behavior that when you remove the current state of ‘elevated emotions’ usually find underlining triggers in their most basic form.

So why are toddlers so emotional?

Children at this stage in development are learning vocabulary, learning to express their needs, starting to develop both positive and negative emotions and most importantly, how to express them.  They are also starting to think for themselves and this breeds the desire to do things on their own!  My daughters favorite saying is , “I do it Mommy.” While adorable in most contexts there are times that she clearly is unable to complete the task.  It is our job as parents to model positive, calm behavior even in these frustrating periods.  We are also setting boundaries and establishing the consequences of actions, both positive and negative.  Easier said than done!  Yet we can not give up on molding these young little people in to vibrant and whole adults.

These are the most common triggers of a temper tantrum and some ways to redirect or proactively ward them off! Not fool proof, but just simple things to help remove the “person from problem” and think through the best course of action.

They are Tired and Hungry

These are two basic needs that sometimes they aren’t able to articulate well and in our busy lives can sometime get out of routine. Truth be told I think most adults have their own ‘temper tantrums’ with the absence of these needs met as well.  The best course of action is age appropriate amounts of sleep as much as possible and and lots of healthy snacks on hand.  We recently went to Disney World and this is a prime example of how these two triggers can break the daily routine.  It was hot, they perhaps had a few empty calorie treats and nap time was replaced with Main Street Mickey Show.  Sound familiar?  Nevertheless, the times we plan ahead with lots of breaks, nutritious snacks and maybe even leaving the park at nap time and returning mid-afternoon through the early evening, we create a much better experience for all parties involved!

They are Over or Under-Stimulated

Lets use the analogy that they have been at daycare for the day.  They have been in a different and stimulated environment all day and now they are coming home to a relaxed and quiet place.  This change can produce emotion and depending on the child and situation can be expressed with acting out.  The best scenario is to provide routine to create the most structured environment possible.  Any one who has ever been in the same room as a toddler know that they need boundaries and constant direction.  Try to involve them in picking up the house with a mini shopping cart or identifying the ingredients in the dinner preparation. Even a simple routine like coloring in an activity book while you make dinner still establishes a plan and could help in warding off ‘meltdowns’.

You are their Place of Comfort

I recently came across this article by Kate Baltrotsky of KateSurfs.com discussing why kids tend to have worse behavior around their parents. She wrote, “YOU, dear mama, are a garbage disposal of unpleasant feelings and emotions.  If a child’s been holding it together all day, in an unpleasant situation, the second they see you, they know it’s time they can finally let go.” Maybe you can relate to the stories from grandparents or caregivers, “Little Johnny was an angel for me all day.”..or my favorite, “He’s never like that with me, I wonder whats wrong?”  It leaves you thinking as a parent, I’m whats wrong!  Or perhaps you only have precious hours in the evening and they are a constant battle.  There is really no way around this but to remember: “this too shall pass.”  Take the tantrum as a sign that you are their place of comfort and refuge.  Offer undivided attention and lots of love.  You have been given a great responsibility and honor that someday you may really miss.

They are Out of Their Routine.

All children and specifically growing toddlers need routine and structure.   This really ties into all of these aforementioned triggers and it is so very crucial.  The routine needs to start from when they wake to when they sleep.  Even a routine around correcting the misguided emotions.  There are many schools of thought around how to correct/ignore this behavior and I have listed some of my personal favorite resources below.  The most important piece is consistency and follow-through on your behalf as the parent.

Remove the Stimulus

I know this seems simple again, but if your toddler acts out because they can’t have their sisters tablet…remove the tablet and allow the older child another space or place to play!  Or if they have melt downs at Target because you always go on the weekends mid day approaching nap time…go at a different time!  We are creatures of habit as well and the best thing we can do is take a step back and start to look for patterns of behavior in our children and in our own routine.  Don’t get me wrong, your children should not dictate your entire day or plans, I’m simply suggesting modifying your schedule and making deliberate choices that reduce the repeat stimulus causing frustration.

Remember the days are long but the years are short.  Parenting is the toughest job I have and I would venture to guess many of you would tend to agree.  It will not be easy but it will be worth it. Build up a support network, do your best to get on the same page with other adults and caregivers in the child’s life and have a plan.  Some days, that plan for the day may be just simply to get through the day…and that is perfectly acceptable!

Harvey Karp M.D. the same author as The Happiest Baby on the Block wrote “The Happiest Toddler on the Block

 

I would also recommend “How Toddler Thrive” by Tovah Klein M.D.

 

Bulletproof Coffee with a Pumpkin Spice Twist!

By now, you may have heard about Bulletproof Coffee!  It has revitalized my morning cup of Joe to a healthy treat.  I’m not going to try and hide my love for all that is coffee.  And the fact of the matter is, coffee in small doses has many health benefits.

For years I have been a Starbucks aficionado and a Gold card member 3 times over.  The reality is that given the temptation I have had, I still continue to have a hard time saying no to that Grande cup of yummy goodness. Learning to make something I love equally that is infinitely better for my health has been a huge win for me.  I promise that once you try it, you won’t want to go back! (or maybe not nearly as often)

Recently, I decided to try my hand at a seasonal version that combines my regular bullet coffee with a Pumpkin Spice Twist.  Get out that blender and lets get creative!

Ingredients for Bulletproof Coffee

  • 1 cup of Hot Coffee

I use a variety of organic, fair trade brands and pour into blender.  The French Press works well for this and is what I use most mornings.

  • 1-1.5 Tbs Organic Almond Butter
  • 1 cube of Kerrygold Butter (Yes, you read that correctly)

It is the best in my opinion and available in many markets or you can order here.  What you are really looking for is real butter that came from happy, grass-fed cows milk.

  • 1 Tbs of Organic Coconut Oil
  • 1 Splash of Almond Milk or Organic Whole Milk

Now, for the Pumpkin Spice Twist

  • 1 Tbs of Raw and Local Honey or Maple syrup if you prefer a sweeter blend
  • 1 Tsp of Pumpkin Pie Spice

For the best results, blend the ingredients well in a high quality blender like a Vitamix if possible.

Vitamix
Click to order!

You can also add organic pumpkin puree however I find this is just the right balance of creamy and sweet without being to thick or sweet.

Blend well and drink immediately.  I like to top mine with a little bit of cinnamon or nutmeg.  This combination of amazing and whole ingredients will power you through your morning and the delicious combo will keep you coming back for more.  Consuming healthy fats will actually aid in weight loss and will help in appetite control.  So, happy fall and here is to a healthier and yummier morning routine!

How do you make your morning cup of coffee?  I would love to hear your favorite coffee recipes!  Share in the comments below.