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IconThe Bedtime Routine It really is important, That your child#146;s in bed by eight. Anytime after that, Is honestly too late. It#146;s true they look adorable, Dressed in their p.j.#146;s, Making it real tempting to, Let them have their way. When they want a drink of water, Or, to read another book. When they #147;gotta go potty,#148; And wear that panicked look?! But, it#146;s even harder when, They#146;re shouting these commands. Past eight o#146;clock, we#146;re tired and, Give them the upper hand. Of course it is much easier, Just to say, #147;OK#148; But we face the repercussions, Throughout the following day. When our children are tired, The whining escalates. Our patience fades away, And it#146;s an ugly fate! They haven#146;t a chance to be, Their best and nor do we. Because we have to scold them, For behavior that we see. By giving in we nourish, These unsightly seeds. Children cannot blossom when, They are choked by weeds. And it#146;s extremely unattractive, To see whining at eighteen. The begging and the tantrumming, Is an ugly scene. No one wants them as a friend, Or to hire them for work. Even if they#146;ve got #147;good marks,#148; Who#146;d employ a jerk?! So#133;tonight when it is bedtime, Explain to them #147;the plan.#148; #147;Get two books, some water,#148; And potty beforehand.#148; If you make the routine clear, And they understand #147;the plan,#148; It#146;s makes it so much easier, To keep the upper hand. But you#146;ve got to be consistent. Give it a night or three. To get the routine down. Then#133; You#146;ll have your evening free! You need the time alone, Or, together with your mate. So, begin #147;the plan#148; tonight, Before it gets too late! We think that we#146;re good parents When we meet their every need But going #147;beyond the call#148; Actually plants #147;bad seeds#148; Ann Brazil Pausitive Programs, LLC 2385 Sherwood Road San Marino, CA 91108 Phone: 626-285-3091 Fax: 626-285-8439 Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

IconRacing Stripes - A Movie Review Films Reviews from a Family Perspective by Phil Boatwright www.moviereporter.com With the synopsis and content, you can decide if the new films are suitable for your viewing. Video alternatives contain the same theme, but lack the offensive material. Racing Stripes. Bruce Greenwood, Hayden Panettiere, and with the voices of Frankie Muniz, Dustin Hoffman, Whoopi Goldberg, Joe Pantoliano, Jeff Foxworthy and Snoop Dogg. Warner Bros. Kids#146; comedy. W-David F. Schmidt. D-Frederik Du Chau. Opens 1/14/05 A widowed rancher finds a lost zebra colt one cold and rainy night. Giving the animal shelter in his barn seems like the right thing to do. But no good deed goes unpunished. When his perky teenaged daughter spots the adorable striped yearling, it#146;s love at first sight. #147;Can we keep him? Please, Dad!#148; #147;We#146;ll see,#148; he says as they leave. Yeah, right. That little black and white pony is there to stay. What#146;s more, he#146;s going to impact their lives. This Warner Bros. comedy adventure may begin from a human perspective, but as soon as man and girl exit the barn, the shelter comes alive with talking animals, each trying to figure out what this strange-looking beast is. Even the newly dubbed Stripes doesn#146;t know what he is. But with four legs and a mane and tail, well, he must be a horse. But what kind of horse? The following day our four-legged protagonist spots a racetrack and meets two thoroughbred colts. They know who they are #150; they will one day be racehorses. That sounds pretty good to Stripes. If they are racehorses, then he must be, as well. Befriended by the farm#146;s misfit troupe of barnyard residents, led by a grumpy Shetland pony (voiced by Dustin Hoffman), a wise old goat (voiced by Whoopi Goldberg), and a deranged big-city pelican named Goose (voiced by Joe Pantoliano), who claims to be hiding out until the heat dies down in Jersey, Stripes is soon groomed to enter the Kentucky Open. And can you guess whom they get to ride our young champion? Why, the perky teenaged daughter, of course. #147;National Velvet#148; it#146;s not. Nor #147;Black Beauty.#148; Nor #147;Chicken Run,#148; for that matter. But the film, like the zebra who stars, has a lot of heart. Would it be my first choice for a film outing on a Friday night? No. But I wasn#146;t the intended audience. This one belongs to those who believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and in the suggestion that a zebra could outrun a trained thoroughbred. During the screening, I#146;d look around at the youngest members of the audience to see their reactions. Each was entranced. Every aspect seemed to delight them. Hey, it#146;s a comedy about talking animals, little animals struggling against big animals. Of course little ones will be entertained. But what about their forced-to-attend guardians? Well, as I say, it#146;s no #147;National Velvet,#148; but if you can leave your intellect at the door, you#146;ll find several humorous moments #150; enough to keep you engaged. But what may be most satisfying for moms and dads is the reaction from their offspring. Though there are a few too many poop jokes (the pelican attempts to drop loads on the heads of his enemies, and two very funny horse flies land in a pile of manure), generally, it#146;s a gentle comedy that also contains positive messages about friendship, wanting to be accepted, and going for the impossible dream. #147;Racing Stripes#148; is a winner. A delightful kids#146; film that parents will enjoy. PG (there are a couple of sexual innuendos that will no doubt go over the heads of the littlest audience members, a few flatulence jokes, and some barnyard poop humor, but overall it#146;s a satisfying kids#146; movie, one filled with positive messages). Go to Phil Boatwright#146;s website at: www.moviereporter.com for details on how to have reviews of new films delivered directly to your e-mail address. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com DEFINITIONS Crudity - Lacking in culture, tact Expletive - An obscene word or phrase Obscenity - Objectionable or repugnant to acceptable standards of decency or morality; indecent; pornographic; offensive in language or action. Profanity - Irreverence toward God or holy things Blasphemy - To speak impiously or contemptuously of God or sacred things Adult subject matter - Situations or subjects unsuitable for or difficult More >>

IconExplaining World Tragedy to Children By Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller Your 6 year old has just seen video of real children being washed out to sea. Your teen sits transfixed watching images of people clinging to trees, mothers wailing as they discover dead children in an endless line of unclaimed bodies, and babies crying hysterically for their mothers. At the dinner table your 5th grader asks, #147;Can anything like that happen to us, dad?#148; How is a parent to respond? What should you say? What should you do? How do you deal with your child#146;s fears without increasing them? Is it possible to reassure your child at a time when you, yourself, are horrified by the images of intense pain and grief you see in the hearts and on the faces of parents half way around the world? Yes, you are filled with empathy for the survivors who have lost loved ones, homes, and jobs. Yes, you are extremely grateful that your children are safe in your comfortable home as the horrific images continue to flow onto your television screen. And yes, you can use this incredibly tragic situation to help your children learn lessons of love, compassion, and of the indestructible nature of the human spirit. Once children have seen the images of tragedy and suffering it is necessary to debrief it with them. The sooner the better. By debriefing, we mean answering their questions, providing information, asking questions, and reflecting their feelings. Provide the scientific information for which they are asking. Tell your children in age appropriate language what you know about how nature can create a tidal wave, tornado, hurricane, volcanic eruption or whatever the tragedy might be. Keep this part factual. You can even use books or magazines to assist you in providing information. Tell your children the effects of the natural disaster. Talk about the destruction that was created as a result of nature#146;s fury. This is a good time to make the connection between cause and effect. Limit what you say to what was seen on TV or directly questioned by your children. Too much information at this point can increase their fright and worry. The goal here is to be brief, accurate, and provide them with the specific information for which they are looking. If you fail to give them information, if you fail to debrief, children#146;s brains will fill in the blanks. Better to fill in those gaps yourself with factual knowledge than to have your children fill them with their imaginations. Concentrate on feelings. Your children will be seeing a wide variety of feelings expressed on TV. They will see sadness, panic, grief, relief, joy, depression, frustration and desperation, among others. In addition, they will personally be full of unexpressed and often unrecognized feelings. When you sense they are feeling empathy, sadness, or pain, say so. Tell them, #147;You seem deeply saddened about this,#148; or #147;You sound scared and frightened that this might happen to us.#148; Children are starving for feeling recognition and this is a great time to supply it. When strong emotion is shown on TV, honor it by talking about it. Mention the extreme sadness and grief that is shown there. Refrain from being an adult who ignores the grief of others and refuses to acknowledge it. Do not treat hurting human beings like they are invisible. Talk about your feelings. Tell your children about the sympathy, empathy, and pain you feel for the loss of others. Allow your children to hear and see you express feelings. In so doing, you are helping them acquire a feeling vocabulary that they can use their entire lives. When you communicate your feelings and honor the feelings of your children for people around the world, you teach them important lessons about the human condition. You help them appreciate how we are all more alike than different. You help them see that we are all connected, no matter how distant we seem. You help them learn we are all one. As you go through this debriefing process, encourage your children to look for the helpers. Helpers always come. There are always people who step forth to help. In the case of a major tragedy there will be many helpers, playing out a variety of roles. Point them out to your children. When small problems occur in their own lives they will have learned to look for the helpers. There are helpers at school, on the playground, in the mall, and on the highway when our car breaks down. Learn to look for helpers and they will be more likely to show up when you need them. Discuss with your children how you as a family can be helpers during this tragedy. Perhaps you can send money, give blood, say prayers, send love, or call the Red Cross to see what kinds of items can be donated. Choose one or more ways to be helpers as a family and allow your children to help implement that strategy with you. Pray together. Let them observe as you give blood. Take them shopping for the toiletry items needed by the Red Cross. Let them help you address the envelope that sends the check. Get them involved in the process of being a helper. Let them see and be love in action. Our deepest sympathies and heartfelt prayers go out to the families directly affected by the most recent tsunami. The scope and depth of the pain and heartache of catastrophic tragedies like this are not measurable. Yet, those same horrific events can be used for good if we help our children learn about feelings, looking for the helpers, appreciating the connectedness of all human beings, and the beauty of one heart reaching out to another across the continents. We can help them learn that around the world is a long way away and still very much a part of our neighborhood. Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of #147;The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose," (available from Personal Power Press at toll free 877-360-1477, amazon.com, and bookstores everywhere). They also publish a FREE email newsletter for parents. Subscribe to it at ipp57@aol.com . Visit www.chickmoorman.com and www.thomashaller.com , and www.10commitments.net . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

IconMoms Time Management Work From Home Moms Time Management Tips "How do you DO it?!" If I had a dime for every time I heard that, I would be able to quit my home business. Just kidding. Seriously, time management is a serious issue for work from home Moms. You want your home business to be a success, but you don't want the rest of your responsibilities to fall by the wayside...especially your children, who are thereason you chose to work from home in the first place. While you're probably already doing some of the obvious things like taking advantage of naptimes and bedtime, I hope you find some additional ideas from the following time management tips to make things easier for you while working from home and caring for young children. Time Management for your Home Business Have a clear purpose when you go online Whenever you go to your computer, have a definite purpose in mind. It helps to keep a notebook by your computer always with your goals and to-do lists in it, all in once place. This helps prevent you from aimlessly checking email or surfing the net and getting lost. Know what you need to accomplish, write it down, do it, and move on to the next activity. Outsource as many tasks as you can afford Consider hiring a virtual assistant if you have a lot of administrative tasks. Or pay your kids to do things for youthat are age appropriate. This can even be a tax deductible expense. Check with your accountant. Analyze your activities Think about the steps you engage yourself in with your business and see if those tasks are really paying off for you. A lot of work at home Moms do things like join safelists, traffic exchanges and other activities that most internet marketing experts agree are not the best use of your time. Ask people who are where you want to be in your business how they manage their time. Just because something is free doesn't mean you should be spending time doing it. The best $20 you can spend on your business It's amazing what you can get done during that time. Plus, your kids usually get worn out from all the fun and take longer naps. Everybody wins! Think Assembly Line In other words, group similar activities together. Don't check your email all day, check it two or 3 times a day (at most)and answer all the emails at the same time. When you want to make changes to your website, list them all and wait until you need to make several changes at once. When one child asks for a story gather them all around. Same thing for snacks. Run all your errands at once. Utilize Technology Get wireless internet and a laptop if at all possible. This can make a drastic improvement in your ability to work online around your children. You can sit on the front porch and work on your website while your kids play in the yard. Or you can drop them off at a friend's house and head to Starbucks and get online! Use autoresponders, mailing lists and other resources to automate your business. If you find yourself typing out answers to the same questions over and over again, add pages to your website or create an ecourse or downloadable report that addresses those topics and refer your customers or downline or whomever to those. Household time management Simplify meal preparation and shopping That doesn't mean you spend a lot of extra money on convenience foods that aren't good for you. But do make simple meals that even your children can help you prepare. Use your crock pot. Collect recipes that require few ingredients and no elaborate preparation. Have a good routine for making menus and shopping. In the long run, extra trips to the store for that missing ingredient is costing you time and money. Most families eat the same 10 or so favorite dishes over and over. Enlist the help of your family to figure out what those favorites are, print up the ingredients into a shopping list, and take that to the store. Have the list posted on the fridge to mark things off as they're used up. Get your kids to help out around the house more. Here are more work from home Mom house cleaning tips. General Mom time management tips Identify time wasters in your day It's a different thing for everyone. Maybe it's the TV, maybe it's friends calling to chat in the middle of the day. Maybe it's activities that seem necessary but that really aren't productive, like posting a lot in message forums. Whatever it is, identify it and eliminate it if possible, or at least manage it. Use your voicemail, and call people back when it's a better time for you. Figure out if watching Oprah or the Apprentice is really adding value to your life or just wasting your time. Make a timer your best friend A timer has so many uses. You can set it to tell your child when you'll be available for them. Young children have difficulty comprehending time, and the timer will set them at ease so they won't bug for you that entire period. It also keeps you on track and helps you finish up tasks more quickly. Use it when you're reading email, cleaning house, whenever you want to accomplish something fast. Have a Routine Having a routine for your household chores and business activities can really help Moms with time management. When you have a good routine, you can do things without thinking, and they always take up less time that way. Keep your routines written down until they're memorized. Use an organizing calender or digital system...whatever works best for you. Make sure everyone else in your household knows the basics of your routine so that things flow more smoothly. Set limits No one person can do everything. Your time and energy is valuable and you need to be firm in setting limits on how you spend it. Don't commit to things that you can't reasonably accomplish. Get enough rest. Learn to say No. Avoid negative people who like to whine. As Moms we're constantly working on time management, but with creativity and good routines, we can have a thriving business and a balanced life. Carrie Lauth is a work from home Mom of 3. She offers a free newsletter for Momsnew to marketing on the Internet plus more work at home Mom organization tips at www.business-moms-expo.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

IconTips for Staying Fit and Healthy at Home By Lesley Spencer, MSc ; Founder Director: www.HomeBasedWorkingMoms.com Many Americans these days are finding themselves out of shape and overweight. Why is that? The bottom line is we are taking in more calories than we are burning. It takes a conscious effort to reduce calories, eat healthier and get regular exercise. Exercise does not have to be a dreaded word either. The good news is that exercise gives you more energy, stress relief, better health, clearer focus, sharper mind, better sleep, better bone health, better sex life, and it decreases the risk of cancers, heart attacks and heart problems. Forget the benefits of just looking good and realize exercise not only makes you feel good, it can help you live a longer, healthier life. Here are some tips to get you on your way to a healthier lifestyle: Put your workout clothes on first thing in the morning. You'll feel more "obligated" to exercise once you are dressed in your workout clothes. Use music to energize and motivate you to exercise. Get a few great CDs that energize you. Turn it up and jam out! The music will motivate you and help the time pass by more quickly! Always keep a water bottle and a healthy snack with you. When you get hungry, go for the healthy snack instead of heading to the pantry. Try to keep your water bottle full so that you can drink plenty of water throughout the day. Follow the two-bite rule. If there's something you absolutely must have, take two bites and be done! You'll get your fix and be proud of your will power to put it down! No time for exercise? Make a goal to walk for 30 minutes at least three times a week. You'll find if you make it a priority, you can fit it in. Try going right after breakfast or after taking your kids to school. Need to be motivated to exercise? Find one or two workout partners to motivate one another. If you don't have anyone near by, find a virtual workout buddy on the HBWM.com Self-Care message boards. Share successes, motivate one another and just enjoy doing something for yourself! Keep a diary of what you eat for a few days. Calculate your intake and decide where you should cut back. (You can find nutritional charts on the Mom's Assistant section of HBWM.com.) If you have cravings for something sweet, try eating something tart to curb the craving such as a pickle. If you crave crunchy salty snacks, try having an apple instead. Take the leap. Commit to exercising a few days a week and before you know it, the benefits will be their own motivator! You will feel better, look better and be better. Lesley Spencer is founder and director of the HBWM.com, Inc. Network which includes: the national association of Home-Based Working Moms ( www.HBWM.com ), Mom#146;s Work-at-Home Kit ( www.WorkAtHomeKit.com ), the eDirectory of Home Based Careers ( http://edirectoryofhomebasedcareers.com ), Mom's Work-at-Home Site ( www.momsworkathomesite.com ) and HBWM Canada ( www.hbwmcanada.com ). She has a Master's Degree in Public Relations and has been featured in numerous publications including Forbes, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Home Office Computing, Parenting, Business Start-Ups, Family PC and many others. She has been working from home for over nine years and has two children ages nine and seven. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

IconThe 10 Best Things to Say to your Partner in 2005 By Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller Authors of #147;Couple Talk: How to Talk Your Way to a Great Relationship.#148; Goal setting, reflection, and new beginnings are typical occurrences as one year ends and another begins. Resolutions, self- promises, and high resolve are the order of the day as people strive to improve important areas of their lives. A time associated with new beginnings, New Year#146;s 2004 might just be the perfect time for you and your partner to examine your communication style. Look over the following list of the 10 best things you can say to your partner in 2004. Decide which ones you will use and when. Add them to you list of resolutions and commit to making 2004 your best year ever as a couple. #147;If I were picking again today, I#146;d still choose you.#148; Every spouse needs to hear these words on occasion. They are affirming, nurturing, and appreciative. They are an intimate expression of love and caring that can generate warm feelings in both hearts. #147;If I were picking again today, I#146;d still choose you#148; meets the needs of both parties. It helps the receiver feel valued and cherished. Simultaneously, it reminds the sender that she is at choice, that indeed every day is a choice, and that this day she still chooses the partner she picked many days, many months, or many years ago. Use this sentence only if you know it to be true. It is not to be used for manipulation, to get sex, to make up, or to make yourself look good. If you don#146;t mean it, don#146;t say it. If you can#146;t say this phrase and mean it, ask yourself these questions: Am I sure that I#146;m where I want to be? How come I#146;m still in this relationship? What do I have to do, what changes need to be made, what thoughts, attitudes, and feelings need to change in order for me to be able to use this sentence and mean it? #147;What#146;s your opinion?#148; Asking #147;What#146;s your opinion?#148; communicates that you want to see the situation through your partner#146;s eyes. You#146;re delivering the message: I#146;m interested in you. I want to hear your ideas, thoughts, and opinions. #147;What#146;s your opinion?#148; can serve two purposes. One is to elicit information from your partner that will help you arrive at a mutually agreeable decision about an area of concern to you both. The other is to open a dialogue that will help you think through the process of a personal decision and reach your own conclusion. Either way, #147;What#146;s your opinion?#148; helps your partner feel valued, loved, and appreciated. #147;I noticed . . .#148; #147;I noticed#148; is a five-second shot of self-esteem. It says to your partner, I see you. You will not be invisible here. Everyone likes to be noticed. You like to be noticed. Your partner likes to be noticed. I don#146;t need to be noticed, you may be thinking. If so, pay attention to your reaction the next time you enter the room and your partner continues to read the paper without even looking up at you. Think about how you feel when you suggest an idea at a committee meeting and no one responds to it. If you#146;re like most people, you begin to feel invisible, unimportant, undervalued. To notice your partner is to affirm his or her existence and importance in your life. It acknowledges their presence and communicates that they are valued and appreciated. #147;Would you do me a favor?#148; Many people want to be needed. They are willing to do for others. Yet they aren#146;t always sure exactly what to do or what is appropriate. That#146;s where #147;Will you do me a favor?#148; comes in. When you ask your partner, #147;Will you do me a favor?#148; you give direction to his or her desire to be of service, to demonstrate love, to help out. You are not being an imposition when you ask for help. On the contrary, you are giving your partner a gift. You are gifting her with an opportunity to contribute, to feel valuable, to return the help that you have given in the past. #147;Would you like a back rub?#148; #147;Would you like a back rub?#148; is an offer to give your partner pleasure. It flows from two important and related beliefs. One belief is that giving pleasure to another builds intimacy. Connectedness and feelings of closeness grow as one person provides pleasure to the other. The second belief is that giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin. As we give pleasure, we get pleasure in return#151;the pleasure of giving, the pleasure of pleasing, the pleasure of seeing the beloved enjoying the receiving. This type of pleasuring carries no demands. An hour or two of massage and sensual touch is not intended to lead to sexual intercourse. It is important to have no hidden expectations or agenda. The motivation is simply to have your partner feel good. #147;Let#146;s do something weird.#148; #147;Let#146;s do something weird#148; is a Couple Talk phrase that can add fun and adventure to your relationship#151;one that will remind you and your partner that a relationship can be more than problem-solving, conflict resolution, and struggle. It invites your partner to join you in discovering new and adventuresome ways to have fun together. It initiates grownup play. #147;Let#146;s do something weird#148; is about giving yourself permission to do something unusual with your partner. It is a request to be the opposite of how we usually are: serious, thoughtful, guarded, mature. Brainstorming unusual, fun ideas together could lead to exploring change. #147;Let#146;s do something weird#148; can be the beginning of an interesting dialogue. A playful discussion could challenge you to use the same Couple Talk communication skills you#146;d need if you were discussing a much more serious issue. #147;Let#146;s make a plan.#148; #147;Let#146;s create an adventurous vacation.#148; #147;How about if we design the way we would like the new room to look?#148; #147;Let#146;s develop a plan for dealing with this child.#148; Planning is one activity in which healthy couples engage. They invest time in exploring each other#146;s desires, interests, and goals. They create a plan together and reach consensus. They make their plan concrete, verbalize it, and often put it in writing. Sometimes the planning takes on the flavor of problem-solving: How can we arrange your mother#146;s visit to meet everyone#146;s needs? Other times it merely focuses on alternatives: What are some possibilities here? Let#146;s make a list. Goal-setting can be the focal point of productive planning: What goal shall we create for our use of this Couple Talk material? The planning conversation could concentrate on dreams or fantasies: What would our dream house look like? or Where do we want to be ten years from now? #147;Let#146;s check it out inside.#148; #147;Let#146;s check it out inside#148; is a Couple Talk phrase that helps us remember to look within for answers. Each of us has a wise part within, an intuitive part that knows what is best for us. This inner knowing is invaluable when life presents us with problems whose answers aren#146;t in the back of the book. This is not a request to spent time thinking or analyzing. This is an invitation to get out of your heads and into your hearts. This inner knowing has been called by a variety of names. We#146;ve heard it referred to as #147;inner knowing,#148; #147;gut-level feeling,#148; #147;conscience,#148; #147;intuition,#148; #147;talking to God,#148; and #147;the wise part within.#148; What you choose to call it is not as important as learning how and when to use it. #147;Let#146;s check it out inside#148; is a statement of self-trust. It#146;s an admission that there is much more to wisdom than merely logic. It#146;s a decision to consider all the data when making a decision#151;data that comes from the inside as well as the outside. #147;What can we learn from this?#148; Mistakes and misunderstandings happen in every relationship. They are a fact of life. Sometimes the infractions are minor. Other times the mistakes are so big the results are tragic. Regardless of their intensity and impact, mistakes happen for a reason. They occur so we can learn lessons, so we can grow and move on with our lives, wiser and better able to handle what comes our way. #147;What can we learn from this?#148; is pivotal Couple Talk in the wake of a mistake or misunderstanding. It prompts a pivot turn away from dwelling on the mistake and moves a couple in the direction of learning from it. Often a lesson comes disguised as a mistake or misunderstanding. Asking #147;What can we learn from this?#148; puts an end to finding fault and judging one another. It puts you and your partner on the same side, facing the problem together, focusing your energy on moving forward. It helps you search for lessons rather than for someone to blame. Use your mistakes to your own advantage. Be willing to learn and grow from them. Turn your mistakes and misunderstandings into learning opportunities by asking, #147;What can we learn from this?#148; #147;What would love do now?#148; When making an important decision, couples consider a variety of criteria. Will we regret this later? How much money will it cost us? Will we get anything back? Will it be worth our time and effort? Will this commit us to anything else? Will it affect our lifestyle? Will we win or lose? Will we look good? What will we have to give up? What impact will this have on our time? How badly do we want to do this? Will this be something that will bring pleasure? Will we get any recognition? Couples whose main purpose in being a couple is to help and support each other in growing spiritually often ask a different question than those posed above. When faced with a dilemma and unsure about what to do, they find it useful to ask, #147;What would love do now?#148; There is no question more important to the spiritual development of you and your partner than #147;What would love do now?#148; If your reason for being together is to accumulate a healthy retirement portfolio, climb the corporate ladder, build fame and recognition, or hold on to what you have, then this question need not be part of your Couple Talk. If, on the other hand, Spirit is your goal, the most meaningful, relevant, helpful question you can ask in any situation is, #147;What would love do now?#148; #147;What would love do now?#148; does not have to be used exclusively for heavy-duty issues like tough love and nursing home decisions. It can be used to determine how you and your partner budget your money, choose who to invite to a party, or decide whether or not your daughter goes to summer camp. You can use it to help decide if you should join a church committee, take dance lessons together, or give this article to a friend. Conclusion Your choice of words and style of communication are critical to the level of intimacy, connectedness, and trust you create with your partner. The way you talk to your partner, what you say, and how you say what you say#151;all impact the degree of respect and caring that is present. Why not resolve in 2004 to regularly examine the ways you talk to your partner? Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of #147;The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose," and #148;Couple Talk: How to Talk Your Way to a Great Relationship," (available from Personal Power Press at toll free 877-360-1477). They also publish FREE email newsletters, one for parents and another for couples. Subscribe to one or both at ipp57@aol.com . Visit www.chickmoorman.com and www.thomashaller.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

IconMoms: This year, look AROUND the tree for gifts! Remember back#133;to when you first held your baby? When that tiny bundle of tightly wrapped hospital blankets was placed in your arms? Remember that feeling when you looked down and saw that adorable little face for the very first time#133; It was the Fourth of July when I lay in the hospital bed looking down at my oldest son. I will never forget that incredible rush of emotion seeing his precious little face for the first time. I remember thinking to myself #147;Wow! Born on the fourth of July. Surely he#146;s going to be someone special. Someone who is going to do great things and make an impact on the world around him -- the President of the United States, maybe?#148; By the time I left the hospital I was convinced. Well, I lived my fantasy for three years. Until one day, my best friend came to me and said #147;Ann, something is wrong with Brian. Something is different about him. You need to have him tested.#148; Shocked and angry, I refused to believe her. #147;There was nothing wrong with my son!#148; I thought. #147;Or, was there?#148; Reluctantly, I had him tested#133;and retested#133;and tested again. What a heartbreak. The dream that had been born on the fourth of July 1985, died in 1988. At first we were told that Brian was developmentally delayed. This was explained to mean that it would take two--maybe three times longer for him to reach the typical milestones in early child development. Well, I was determined to prove them wrong. So, I began devouring everything in print on early childhood development as it related to people skills. I met with countless pediatricians, child psychologists, neurologists, behaviorists and teachers to educate myself. Despite every effort to keep pace with his peers, it did. It took Brian three, four, maybe FIVE times as long. Brian sat perched on the floor in the middle of a blanket, while other little boys and girls danced and skipped around him. At the beach, he sat in a bulging#150;sandy-dirty-diaper while his peers were running up and down the beach in lightweight swim trunks, Brian pointed, groaned and fussed for objects he couldn#146;t reach and didn#146;t have the words to describe, while his peers were telling fanciful stories. My little leader was falling strides behind other children his age, and the gap continued to grow with the passage of each year. The playgroups grew painful for me and uncomfortable for my friends. Little by little they dwindled, and were replaced by #145;private#146; play dates arranged in soft whispers around me. Five years later Brian was diagnosed mildly retarded. Heartache. But, good things are always bundled with the bad. Sure, you#146;ve got to sift through and look for them#133;and, sometimes you#146;ve gotta look pretty hard. There were many good things that resulted. One was the lesson I received in humility. All my life, I#146;ve been blessed me with an abundance of friends and opportunities for personal accomplishment. Never before had I felt such failure. Never before had I felt so alone. Another valuable lesson I learned#133;and honestly don#146;t think I could have before working with #147;special#148; children and having one of my own #133; is that all men are, in fact, created equal. In the #147;special#148; classrooms I was introduced to children from all walks of life, every kind of learning style and personality imaginable. I learned that every child has strengths and every child has weaknesses. There is greatness in each one, and it is our role as parents to discover their talents and then nurture them. It#146;s not always easy to find them. Some talents are great and others are very very small. Take my son Brian, for example. What gifts (talents) does this mildly retarded, young man have? He is good looking, warm and friendly. And like Forest Gump, you#146;d never know he was mildly retarded -- until you tried to carry on a conversation with him. Another gift#133;perseverance. Let me explain. Brian is now 19 years old, and last year he was a senior in high school. A month before the prom he decided that he was going. Now, despite the fact that he is good looking and friendly, he has never had a friend. Never. The clarity of his speech is so poor that it prevents him from carrying on a conversation with enough depth of exchange to form any lasting friendships. Well, when he made this announcement I was stunned. He#146;d never had a friend, what possessed him to think that he could get a girlfriend-- for the prom --that was a month away! But#133; he was determined! He took out last year#146;s yearbook to select his prom date, like it was that simple. Quietly, I was thinking to myself that maybe I could convince the neighbor across the street to go with him. When I dared to suggest this, he responded with a definite#147;No.#146; He was set on taking a girl from his high school. What was worse, when he pulled out the yearbook, he began pointing to every other gorgeous girl saying #147;I am going to take her to the prom#133;or her#133;or her.#148; He did not know their names, because he didn#146;t know THEM#151;yet. Later that night, he decorated some t-shirts and said he was going to give one to each girl he asked. Heartache. Sure enough, the next day he did just that! He asked each girl. How did I know? He came home without any shirts -- and without a prom date. This went on, day after day, until my heart couldn#146;t take it any more. Finally, I called his special education teacher and explained the situation. She already knew. He was just as possessed with finding a prom date at school as he was at home. In fact, everyone on campus knew Brian wanted to go to the prom. Even people at the supermarket and on the street were waving to me asking, #145;Does Brian have a prom date yet?#148; So, I asked his teacher, #147;Surely there is a girl at school who is just as desperate to go as he is? Would you kindly keep an eye out for one.#148; The week before the prom, I got a call from Brian#146;s teacher. #147;At school today, Brian stepped into a circle of very attractive, popular girls, and went right up to one named Kelly#133;and asked her to the prom! Taken a bit off guard, Kelly paused and said, #145;Well, Brian#133; let me think about it.#146; Pausing again she said, #145;No, I don#146;t have to think about it. Sure. I would love to go with you to the prom.#148; Brian#146;s teacher went on to explain that Kelly is a girl who could have gone to the prom with anyone she wanted to. She is drop dead gorgeous #150; inside and out. She just moved into town and had a tough time breaking into the social circles as a senior. Her heart went out to Brian. The town celebrated his perseverance. He#146;s a hard worker. Brian is one of those restless souls who draws great pleasure from being productive. He loves building and works outside until the sun goes down. In our yard, is what might look to you like a pile of wood -- to Brian; it is the tree house that he has been building for about six years now. He has built it and rebuilt around the tree (My only restriction was#133; no nails in the tree.) Thank goodness I stood firm. ) There must be well over 2000 nails in it, I am sure. Nonetheless, it has become a permanent fixture in our yard. Another type of work he enjoys is gardening. He trims the bushes in both front and back yards for me -- until the branches are barren. He also likes to clean windows. He cleans the windows on our house, leaving me with streak-stained spotted glass. He washes my car in the same fashion. Much to my relief he has taken these #147;talents#148; into the community. For the last year he has been picking up the trash throughout the city with his $10 trash #147;picker-upper#148; that he got at Target and we replaced three times, He rides an electric scooter because he can#146;t drive. Never will. With trash bag and trash picker-upper in hand, he covers three school yards, two parks not to mention the back alleys and parking lots #150; waving and smiling to everyone he meets along the way. Everyone waves back, including the police who ignore the fact that he rides an electric scooter (apparently they are against the law). Brian is a hard worker, and the town knows this. Brian is a law-abiding citizen. He is a rule follower! One might call it an obsession. I call it good citizenship. We live near the corner of an intersection in a very small town where there are no stop signs and there have been several fairly serious accidents. The city refuses to put in stop signs because they want to maintain the quaintness of the community. This bothers Brian#133;that people are not following the rules and speed through the intersection. It also bothers him that the city doesn#146;t do anything about it. Well, one day a car overturned, and Brian decided to take the law into his own hands. He ran to his room and got an old white t-shirt. He brought it to the kitchen table along with a big bottle of red paint and paintbrush. He was about to paint the shirt (and the wooden table, no doubt.) I raced to the table and intercepted him before he could begin, and asked as calmly as I could #147;What are you doing?#148; He told me he was going to paint his shirt. (That was as much as I could get out of him.) I asked him if he would please put newspapers beneath. I stood and watched. He painted a red stop sign on his shirt. Then, he put it on (wet) and stood on the corner directing traffic the rest of the afternoon. Truly a great citizen, and the town admire him for this. Now, Brian may never be the President of the United States, but I ask you#133;how many 19 year olds do you know who have made such an impact on a community? And, if my son can find a positive way to utilize his talents, just think what YOURS can do --with a little encouragement and A LOT of patience!! Don#146;t let the challenges of childrearing numb your feelings and blind you from seeing the #147;good#148; in your children. Celebrate their every little accomplishment and it will truly be a Happy New Year #150;Ann Brazil, creator of the award-winning TimeOut Tot . (www.timeouttot.com) To learn more about Ann and TimeOut Tot, visit www.timeouttot.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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