Tuesday, July 29, 2008

You Can Be a Work-at-Home Mom

Have you ever dreamed of being a work-at-home mom? Perhaps you’re currently a stay-at-home mom, but you’d love to have your own business and bring more income into the house. Or maybe you’re a work-outside-the-home mom, but you’re tired of the 9-to-5 grind and all the time you devote to your job at the expense of your family. The good news is that more and more moms are making a living—and a very good living—by working at home.

Debbie LaChusa discovered this eighteen years ago when she left her advertising agency job to begin her own marketing business at home. When her first child was born, she couldn’t bear the thought of missing out on her daughter’s many milestones, and she vowed to find a way to make a living and still be with her. At first, Debbie’s goal was just to pay the bills and keep her foot in the door of the field she loved. But as time went on, Debbie realized that working from home could be quite lucrative if done right. Today, Debbie makes six figures a year, and has rarely missed a valuable moment in her two children’s lives.

Debbie loves to share her tips about how women can make a great income while working from home through her business, 6-Figure Work-at-Home Mom. She teaches women how to have the right mindset, set goals for their business, think big, overcome negative thinking, conquer their fears, create a brand, develop a marketing plan, and much more. I’ve been reading some of her publications, and they have really inspired me to “reach for the stars” in my own life! My goal is to buy my dream house, so Debbie’s assurances that “six figures” is not just a “pie in the sky” dream are very encouraging. Do you have a dream, too? (For Debbie, it was to buy a Lexus, and when she reached her business goals, she bought one for herself for Mother’s Day!) Even if your dream is just to make a little money on the side and to do something you love (in addition to parenting), Debbie’s advice is extremely helpful.

Women have many more options today for working at home. Not only is this a boon for our families, who benefit from the flexibility of our work-at-home schedules, but it is a powerful way for women to earn a great income, do what they enjoy, and have control over their own lives. You can read more about Debbie’s story and recommendations at http://www.6figureworkathomemom.com/about.html.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

It's Not Too Early to Read to Your Baby

A great way to encourage the growth of language skills and promote later literacy is to read to your baby. When it comes to building literacy, experts agree that you can never start too early. Begin reading to your baby when he’s a newborn . . . yes, a newborn! You may think he is too young to be read to, but he’s not. Reading to your baby boosts language development. According to Caroline J. Blakemore and Barbara Weston Ramirez in their book, Baby Read-Aloud Basics, reading to little ones helps them understand the meanings of words and learn uncommon ones. “Compared with ordinary talk between a child and parent, children’s books have three times more rare words.” In fact, by age 4, children who are read to are exposed to 32 million more words than children who haven’t been read books.

Even in the first few weeks of life, your baby’s little brain is making connections in understanding the rhythm of language, the particular sounds of your native language, and the meaning of voice tones when you read. Reading improves listening skills, memory, and attention span. Each time your baby hears a particular word or song, memory is built up in the brain. Eventually, these memories, or “connections,” become strong enough to create a skill or move the baby forward to achieving a language milestone. An added benefit of reading aloud to your baby is to promote parent/child bonding. Soon, your baby will associate book time with “love-y” time, cozy time, and happy time.

Remember, sharing books with your baby should be fun, not homework—with tickling of toes during playtime, a snuggly blanket during quiet time, and happiness from you at all times. Create a routine that includes snuggles, smiles, and serenity. Turn off the music and TV so your baby can really focus on the lilt of your voice, the joy you express while reading, and the sounds and rhythms made in your particular language. Turn off the phone as well. Before starting, change diapers and wrap up your baby in a warm blanket or set him in the bouncy seat. Sit close to him as you read. Take tiny baby steps with your baby and books. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, or in this instance, the first page!

Excerpted from Boosting Your Baby’s Brain Power by Holly Engel-Smothers and Susan M. Heim, to be published by Great Potential Press in Fall 2008.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Have You Hugged Someone Today?

A hug delights and warms and charms,
that must be why God gave us arms.

—Author Unknown

I just found out that this is National Hug Week! (Who makes up these things anyway?) So, have you hugged your kids today? Your spouse? A friend? How about yourself? You deserve a hug, too! I love it when I pick up my kids from summer camp and their little friends give me hugs. I can barely get my teenagers to wave at me as they head out the door, so I know I’d better enjoy these little preschool hugs while I can! Kids are always great huggers, even if their hugs smear a little jam on your shirt.

Unfortunately, as a society, we don’t hug as much as we used to. More often than not, we’re connecting with each other through e-mail or cell phone. Have you ever received an e-mail from a friend that said, “You’ve just been hugged!”? It just doesn’t feel as good as a real hug! It’s easier, of course, to hug our children, but even they aren’t getting as much affection as previous generations. Author Rae Pica writes in the article, “Skinship: Better Bonding with Baby,” “Where infants are concerned, America is considered a ‘low-touch’ society. In many other cultures, babies are held for hours, stroked when in need of soothing, and carried close to the bodies of their mothers. In ours, babies spend lengthy periods alone in cribs; we fear that unless they’re allowed to ‘self-soothe,’ they’ll be spoiled and grow up dependent; and, though we may carry our infants, they’re more likely to be ‘containerized’ than carried body to body.”

When I was a teenager, I read a book called Love by Leo Buscaglia, who was often called “The Love Doctor.” He wrote, “We are constantly moving away from ourselves and others. The scene seems to be how far away you can get from another person, not how close you can get to them. I’m all for going back to the old-fashioned thing of touching people.” Although he wrote these words back in 1972, I don’t think we’ve gotten any “huggier” today. And I have a feeling that Dr. Buscaglia wouldn’t be too pleased with our “electronic hugs.”

So, why don’t you do something really radical today and give someone a hug? Start with your kids and your spouse. Then really stretch yourself and give a hug to a friend or a new acquaintance. Chances are, you’re going to make that person feel really loved. But, even more shockingly, you might find that you needed that hug, too! The old saying is true: You can't give a hug without getting a hug. Have you hugged someone today?

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Boys or Girls: Which Are Harder to Raise?

I used to read Erma Bombeck’s columns in my mom’s Good Housekeeping magazines when I was a girl. (Please don’t look up the years.) I loved her hilarious tales of motherhood. So, I quickly handed over two quarters when I ran across a hardcover copy of her book, Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession, at my library’s used-book sale. When I got home, I started scanning through the chapter titles, and one in particular caught my eye: “Who Are Harder to Raise—Boys or Girls?” I’ve often pondered that question myself as the mother of four sons and no daughters. When I walk into my kids’ classroom and see the little girls sitting daintily at the table coloring, while the boys are off in the corner throwing blocks at each other, I have to answer that question with “boys.” When we come out of summer camp, and I pass three little girls walking nicely with their mother to the car while my twin boys are racing each other through the parking lot, I definitely have to answer “boys.” So, imagine my shock when my beloved humorist failed to agree with me. Here’s what she wrote:

“If you want to stir up a hornet’s nest, just ask mothers, ‘Who are harder to raise—boys or girls?’ The answer will depend on whether they’re raising boys or girls. I’ve had both, so I’ll settle the argument once and for all. It’s girls.” What??? However, here is what she cited as the “benefits” of boys:

“With boys you always know where you stand. Right in the path of a hurricane. It’s all there. The fruit flies hovering over their waste can, the hamster trying to escape to cleaner air, the bedrooms decorated in Early Bus Station Restroom.” And that’s a good thing? There’s more:

“I knew of [a] mother who said, ‘Boys are honest. Whenever you yell upstairs, “What’s all that thumping about?” you get an up front reply, “Joey threw the cat down the clothes chute. It was cool.”’” So it’s okay to throw the cat down the chute as long as they’re honest about it??? I don’t know . . . I’m just not convinced yet that boys are easier.

In an About.com poll of 533 parents, however, 40% said boys are easier to raise, 34% said girls, and 24% were undecided. Again, a little too close to convince me . . .

Of course, we can’t paint all kids with the same brush based on their gender. Certainly, there are girls who are well-behaved and those who are wild. And the same goes for boys. According to Renee Bacher in her article, “Who’s Easier: Boys or Girls?” (American Baby magazine, May 2004), “The key to successful parenting, whatever your child’s gender, is to figure out what makes him tick and how to make his personality work with your own. . . . [W]hether you’re raising a male or female, there’s always more than enough difficulty to go around. So every parent should look for the joy buried in the tough stuff and run with it.” So, that’s my plan . . .

Now when my sons smear paint all over the table, I’ll joyously proclaim, “Look how creative they are!” And when they climb on top of the car and jump off in their best imitation of Superman, I’ll rejoice, “My sons are so brave!” And when they smash my brand-new Tiffany lamp that I saved for months to purchase, “I’ll . . . I’ll . . .” okay, that one would be hard to forgive. But I do agree that a good sense of humor—and a lot of prayer—can go a long way in successfully raising boys. And, yes, girls, too.

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