Finding Moments of Joy

December 9, 2015
family, inspiration, Uncategorized

Moments of Joy2

 

As the holidays approach, there are so many exciting activities that keep us busy as the days seem to whirl on by. Shopping for the perfect presents, planning lovely meals for your family, and decorating your home to feel extra warm and cozy. But as our to-do list grows there may be some days when our patience shrinks.

Christmas can be a time of hectic schedules and busy balancing acts for us moms, so we want to remind you that you can still find joy in places big and small.

Too much snow to shovel? There is joy in a toddler’s first little footprints in fresh fallen snow.

Kids home from college dumping all their laundry on you? There is joy in the fact that they still need you.

Getting up early so you can exercise before the kids go to school? There is joy in taking time for yourself so you can feel and be energetic for you and your children.

Run out of ribbons & bows while wrapping presents late at night? There is joy in having so many people to share gifts with.

Does the Christmas dinner menu feel overwhelming? There is joy in working over a hot stove as you cook a meal for your family made with love.

Does it feel like your baby is crying all the time? There is joy in that moment he stops fussing when you hold him in your arms.

Did your little ones trail flour and frosting all over your kitchen while baking cookies? There is joy in making memories that will last forever.

As you sink into the warmth of this holiday season, remember to wrap yourself in the love of these precious times. Sprinkle these little moments of joy into your heart and embrace the joy of the season with your family.

Festive and Warm Holiday Mantle Decor

December 7, 2015
DIY, inspiration

Festive and Warm Holiday Mantle Decor - Joy of Mom

 

There is nothing more fun and wonderful than decorating for the holidays. The sparkle of the lights. Glow of the candles. Holiday songs filling the air. And, of course, the perfect tree displaying your favorite ornaments.

But we cannot forget that centerpiece of the room that just begs to be beautiful and festive this time of year: your mantle.

It’s no wonder that “holiday mantle” and “mantle decorations” are top searches on Pinterest this month. Everyone wants their mantle to be festive and merry, but also have a little something extra that makes it an emblem for their creativity and family.

Here are a few elements that could make your mantle absolutely stunning and personalized this Christmas:

Greenery. Using evergreen branches and boughs are the ultimate tradition in decorating for the holidays. The green is the promise that while winter freezes nearly everything, the green of spring is always just around the corner. Drape a fresh garland across your mantle to add a bit of life and a delicious scent for anyone who draws near. Or, brighten your mantle with two small evergreen trees on either side, wrapped with warm bright white lights. Tie the bottoms of the small trees in burlap to add a touch of farmhouse charm!

Wishes. One of our favorite mantle trends is the use of words in decoration. Everything from wooden letters spelling “Joy” on the mantle, to paper bunting strung across with “Merry Christmas!”

If you have a place above your mantle that is perfect for hanging décor, find an adorable sign on Etsy that declares “Have yourself a merry little Christmas” or “Peace, Love, Joy”. The words that you choose to celebrate the holidays will personalize your mantle like never before.

Candles. There’s nothing quite like cuddling up on the couch, bathed in just candle glow and Christmas lights, listening to your favorite holiday music. Candles are an absolute must in any holiday decoration. And, even if you have very small children, the candles will be safe from curious hands if they are high up on the mantle.

Instead of digging out the candles you use every year, find a stunning set of monochromatic candles of differing heights. When they are grouped together and lit, your room will instantly become a warm sanctuary of Christmas love.

Now it’s time to grab your cup of hot cocoa or tea, put on your favorite carols, and create a mantle that is truly the heart of your home this Christmas.

What Moms Are Thankful For

November 25, 2015
family, inspiration, motherhood

What Moms Are Thankful For - Joy of Mom

 

As mothers, our to-do lists stretch on over the horizon. Our heads swim with field trip dates and names of our children’s new best friends. We kiss boo-boos while simultaneously fixing dinner and scheduling a doctor appointment.

We just keep going.

That’s why, when Thanksgiving gives us a reason to take a moment and reflect, we eagerly let our brain slow from the constantly flurry of thoughts for just a moment. We think about what we are most grateful for, not only at this time of year, but each and every day.

We start to make a mental list:

  • We are thankful for that moment, just before our child wakes up, when she looks so warm and peaceful. Dreaming of the happiness that will surely find her today.
  • We are thankful for imperfections. How that one big “mistake” wasn’t such a big deal after all, and became yet another loving inside joke to our family’s history.
  • We are thankful for that first cup of coffee in the morning, with the promise that, yes, we can make it through this day, too.
  • We are thankful that we can all be together as a family this year for the holiday. If not in body, then in spirit.
  • We are thankful that our children are growing into loving, kind humans. That they will continue to make this world a better place.
  • We are thankful that we know that even though the world can be scary and unpredictable, we can always find love and support amongst our family and friends.
  • We are thankful for the friends who know us better than we know ourselves. Who can laugh when we share the latest hijinks of our children, and who can be there with a hug when we need to cry.
  • We are thankful for every moment we are able to share with our family. Looking past the hustle and bustle that comes from motherhood, we see a group of people who we can’t imagine life without. Our loves.

In that moment, we are truly thankful for the blessing that is motherhood. We close our eyes, take a deep breath, and say a prayer of gratitude. Because we know that the second we open our eyes again, we just need to keep going.

When the Unthinkable Happens

November 20, 2015
inspiration, motherhood

When the Unspeakable Happens - Joy of Mom

 

What do we say when the world goes crazy? When we want to cry and hide. When we want to shut our eyes.

What do we say when our children ask us why Facebook is plastered with photos of the Eiffel Tower? When they hear the news. When they look into our eyes and see our tears.

When our children leave toddlerhood in their wake, they become an active part of the world and all of the wonders that go along with it. They celebrate our holidays. They begin to understand history. They make an impact with their thoughts, words, and actions.

But they are also a part of our world’s sadder, darker moments. When heartbreak ripples through humanity, they feel it, too.

As parents, our first instinct is to shelter them. To hide them away from the shadows. But for our children to truly appreciate how beauty and love spread and change lives, they also must learn that there is hardship, loss, and imperfection ingrained in us. In life.

When the unspeakable happens, we can always give them a hug, look into their eyes, and tell them…

  • Terrible, terrible things sometimes happen.
  • For every terrible thing that happens, there are hundreds and thousands of people who are joining together to make this world better. To make it safer for everyone. To bring the flowers and candles.
  • We are lucky because we are a family who will always be there for one another. We will always protect each other. And we have the power to make our little piece of the world better every day.
  • Not only that, but we have the power to make it better for everyone else too. By being kind. By giving a hug. By helping a friend. By telling the truth. By standing up for what is right. With that power, we can change the world.

We are all a part of this uncertain world, and together we will make it better. Slowly. Patiently.

Tomorrow will be safer, more peaceful, and more full of light. And it starts with us. All of us. Even…especially…our children.

 


 

This post was inspired by this moving video from Now This, which has since gone viral. The interaction between the boy and his father is simply beautiful. A must-watch…

 

When the Unthinkable Happens - Joy of Mom

 

 

Staying Happy Through the Holidays

November 13, 2015
inspiration, motherhood

Staying Happy Through the Holidays

 

With the holidays coming up, there is so much to do: shopping, decorating, hosting family, preparing meals, and more! And all this work can easily create stress. But we have some tips from health and wellness expert Dave Romanelli to help us moms keep our happiness and joy during the holiday season.

If you need help staying positive while you’re staying on top of all the details, here are Dave’s top tips:

Meditation: Dave calls meditation a game-changer when it comes to stress. Meditation helps you work through anxiety and even sleep better at night-and who couldn’t use a great night’s sleep?! He also believes meditation can be light-hearted and fun. Another benefit: “Meditation is amazing for allowing your mind to relax so you can be more present with your kids.”

One-minute hug: Try to take one minute each day and dedicate it to love. Write an email to a family member or call an old friend. Kids are great cuddlers – when you feel the stress overcoming you, stop and hug your child for one full minute. Both your body and mind will relax! And your kids will love it too!

Beautiful, funny, and delicious: Try to find moments in each day that are beautiful, funny, or delicious. This is a great topic to talk about around the dinner table. Use this as a chance for the whole family to remember the special moments of each day so you can focus on the positive.

Vitamin G: Gratitude. When you turn in for the night, instead of letting your mind worry about what you have to do tomorrow, focus on what you were grateful for today. Talk with your spouse about three things that happened that you were grateful for. Dave suggests that you, “Train your mind to be strong, positive, and grateful when it’s otherwise negative or self-doubting.” You will see the benefits so fast!

Embracing imperfections: Don’t strive to do everything perfectly – no one is able to accomplish perfection all the time! Dave says, “The best you can do is show up fully for the people you love.” No one else is expecting perfection from you – they want your presence more than anything. Being there is enough!

~

Dave Romanelli is a leading health and wellness innovator. He played a pivotal role in the modernization of yoga into mainstream culture. His Yoga + Chocolate, Yoga + Wine, and Yoga for Foodies experiences were featured in The NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Food + Wine, and O Magazine. He is now focusing on the modernization of meditation. In 2013, he launched an online company, Meditate ON, which makes meditation fun, light, and accessible for the whole family.  Dave’s new book Happy is the New Healthy hit the shelves in January and reached #1 on Amazon’s Healthy Living Bestseller list. The book shares secrets and meditations on relaxing, letting go, and enjoying life (not tomorrow) but NOW. Discover more about his journey on www.yeahdave.com. Dave lives in New York City.

Embracing Your Child’s Self-Expression at Halloween

October 29, 2015
family, inspiration

ElsaHalloween

With Halloween in just a few days, our kids are putting on pirate eye patches, witches hats, and ballet slippers. Halloween is festive, fun, and all about expression. It gives children a chance to pretend to be something different than they are. It could be something they aspire to be, something they love to do, or something they think is just plain fun.

But what do you do when your child’s Halloween choice might not be what you expected? In this case, a boy wanted to dress up as Elsa for Halloween. Dad’s response: “Game on!”

The story of this Dad unflinchingly supporting his son is such a beautiful act of love and kindness. Our young children are delicate, and it is our job to provide a strong support system of unconditional love. Let them know they can be whatever or whoever they want, and that we will always be there for them. Anything they want to be is beautiful!

The comments on this father’s Facebook page were overwhelmingly positive. Many families shared photos of their boy dressed as a princess, or their daughter as Spider-Man. It is wonderful to see so many families embracing the fun of Halloween and letting their children be whatever they want!

It’s easy to worry that other kids might tease, and to prevent this hurt, you may think to discourage your child’s unconventional costume. But it is so beautiful to let your child feel confident about their choice and that they have the ability to express themselves.

They are being bold and brave – join them in their creativity! Have fun and soak up the love of this special season and moment of childhood! The moments, these moments, can make all the difference.

Taking a Breath: Reflecting on Motherhood

October 21, 2015
inspiration, motherhood

breathe horizontal

 

It can be hard to find the time to breathe. Ballet class. T-Ball. Pick up kids from school. Change diapers. Clean the bathroom. Soothe a teething toddler. Make dinner.

Some days, it feels like motherhood is a constant chain of chores. Help with homework. Load the dishwasher. Go to the pharmacy. Run the PTA meeting.

It may feel like we never stop moving. RSVP to classmate’s birthday party. Pay the bills. Make Halloween costumes. Vacuum Cheerios from the car seats. Grocery shopping.

In the constant whirlwind that is motherhood, it is important to find time catch our breath. We have the strength to give 110% to all we do. We have the power to knock off everything from our to do list without blinking an eye.

But, sometimes, we must slow down. We need to remember the first minute we held our children. When they were soft and snuggly and desperately needed us. We need to appreciate all the accomplishments. The first steps, the first words, the first day of school.

We made these events happen. We helped to shape our son into that confident little boy strolling into his first day of kindergarten without a look back. We encouraged that tiny ballerina on stage to twirl with all her might and pick herself right back up when she falls down.

This is motherhood, too. These small moments that don’t have a line item on our To Do list. We may forget them in the day-to-day hustle and bustle. We may be so buried in “What’s Next?” that we forget what’s special.

So we encourage you to stop and breathe. Take a moment for yourself and remember how far you have come, how much you and your children have accomplished. Savor every memory that floods into your heart.

Wrap up that feeling, and the next time you wrap your arms around your child, remember to breathe. Remember all you have done. Remember the joy of mom.

Photo courtesy of Colibri Photo

Seven Things You Should Say To A Mom

September 6, 2015
inspiration, motherhood

Seven Things You Should Say To A Mom! #joyofmom

 

In honor of a different kind of “Labor Day,” I’ve got some mama love for you today! Today {like everyday} is a great opportunity to celebrate the hard work that moms do 24-7. Here are seven of my favorites:

One: Do you need a hand? You see that mom juggling ten things as she tries to help a four-year-old and a toddler on a plane? Or perhaps you see that same mom trying to juggle a baby and groceries. There is nothing nicer than saying, “Can I give you a hand?” Nine out of ten times, moms will say, “Thanks, I’m good.” But there will be that one time when the mom might say, “Can you help me lift this box?”

Two: You look great. Moms often have three seconds to get themselves ready in the morning after tending to their families. It doesn’t take much to tell your mom friends, “You look great. I love your shirt.” It’s just a little daily pick-me-up for a mom who might be wondering if she has had a shower in the last 36 hours.”

Three: One day your kids will thank you. It might not be today, and a seven-year-old isn’t really programmed to thank you for everything. But reminding a mom that someday her kids will be grateful for her love is life affirming. You never know just how much someone needs to hear those words.

Four: Take a little “me” time. Help a family member or close friend who needs a little break. Call them and say, “I’ll watch Rowan. You need a little me time.” Maybe that mom will want to get a haircut or just take a nap. But those two or three hours you offer to babysit might be just what that mom needs to recharge and regenerate. For you, it’s a little time to spend with the kids. For the mom, it might just be priceless.

Five: You’ve made me a better mom. All of us borrow parenting tips from moms we know and admire, but we might not give them the credit they deserve. If you have a mom role model then tell her. Send her a card or just say, “You’ve made me a better mom because…” then list the ways that this mom has served as a mentor to you. Your words will tell the other mom that she’s not just influencing her own kids, but other mothers around her. Now, that’s an amazing feeling!

Six: It’s okay to mess up. Maybe your friend didn’t take little Liam to the doctor yesterday and then his fever spiked. Or she didn’t sign up for that baseball team and now it’s too late. Moms have so much to do and so many decisions to make in one day. We blame and guilt ourselves to the extreme when things aren’t perfect. Stop and tell yourself and your mom friends that it’s okay to mess up now and then. You’re only human.

Seven: You’re doing a fabulous job. There are days when many moms feel like they’re failing everyone because they’re pulled in so many directions. There are other days when we just maintain as we do our best. And we never give ourselves the credit we deserve. Celebrate yourself and others as a mom and remember that you have happy, thriving kiddos! That means you’re doing a really great job!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your little ones snuggled close ~ and maybe even a little time to put your feet up!

Photo courtesy of Colibri Photo

The Power of Organizing

June 1, 2015
by vicki, inspiration

The Power of Organizing! #joyofmom

 

The Power of Organizing

There are things in life that instantly make us feel better. A warm hug. The smell of lilacs this time of year. Chocolate!

I want to add one more to the list: De-cluttering. There is a power that comes with organizing that is truly day, month and year changing. Nothing makes me feel instantly better than organizing and arranging. If I have a ton of things to do, I’m the type of mom who will stop for a few minutes and know what needs to be done first: I’ll organize.

Even if it’s tackling one drawer, one corner of a closet, or one cozy nook at a time. When I was recently in Boston helping my daughter pack up after graduation, she looked (and felt) overwhelmed with the proof (aka piles!) of how four years of living can accumulate pretty quickly. Plus there were so many things to do in order to move her life back to Chicago.

In the midst of all this chaos, I couldn’t help but notice her purse (open on her kitchen table) and how it looked like a microcosm of the clutter around her apartment. We gave each other a knowing look (afterall, she is my daughter!) and then we dumped the thing. It was actually fun to remove all the old gum wrappers and dust bunnies while tossing the unnecessary receipts. She said she actually felt better! A lot better. And instantly so.

My rule: If you don’t need it, toss it! The good news is that science backs me up here. Researchers at Princeton University Neuroscience Institute conducted a study that indicated that clutter is actually bad for your brain. They found multiple stimulations in your visual field at the same time compete for your neural representation and limit your ability to process. My other rule: if it doesn’t bring you joy (looking at it, using it, living with it) it’s time to pass it on to someone who will be happy to have it and use it.

So for today, I wanted to share a few inspirational items to get your organizational juices flowing.

Let’s get started!

xo, Vicki

~ Trust us, it’s really life-changing The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Clear bins help you quickly see what’s inside, and come in endless sizes

~ With bins this cute, getting them to help cleanup shouldn’t be too hard (we hope)

~ Modern, yet classic, for letters, notes and office supplies

~ Organize all your shower essentials

~ A lovely way to store + organize (and hide) towels and toilet paper

Inspirational Mamas

March 9, 2015
by vicki, inspiration

Inspirational Mamas: Katya Mosely, Licensed Acupuncturist!

 

Inspirational Mamas

Katya Mosely, Licensed Acupuncturist

Last week, we were honored to have the opportunity to sit down with well-known acupuncturist & herbalist, Katya Mosely, to talk holistic medicine, herbology, and how to incorporate Eastern medicine into our daily lives. Katya specializes in women’s health, pediatrics, stress & mental health, and pain management (just to name a few), so naturally we jumped at the chance to pick her brain. As busy mothers constantly on the go, chances are we are not getting the proper rest and nutrition that our bodies need. Katya is not only smart, forward-thinking, charming and beautiful, but she is also a mother of two little girls. We found Katya’s advice and knowledge to be extremely eye-opening and motivating, and we hope you do too. At the close of the interview, you can find Katya’s contact information, as she is available for in-person appointments as well as skype and phone call sessions.

* * *

JOM: For those who aren’t familiar with acupuncture and the benefits, please fill us in.

Katya: Acupuncture is the insertion of super fine needles into several points along the body to influence the flow of one’s energy, or Qi. It can be used to treat various conditions from irregular periods, post partum depression, aches and pains, insomnia, digestive issues, the list goes on and on. It is often used to prevent the onset of disease or to do what my patients call, “a forced meditation”.

JOM: What part to herbs play? Is there an herb people can take daily to improve their overall health?

Katya: Herbs are a wonderful compliment to everyone’s life. Think of them as supplements, as medicine, as vitamins – they are natural powerhouses that keep you feeling good! The beauty of Chinese Medicine is that they can be custom blended to serve each individual’s needs. So instead of taking five different things to treat your five different imbalances, you can take just one that was made with your specific needs and constitution in mind. Its like buying custom-made instead of off the rack! On a daily basis, a mild Ginseng tea can do wonders for your energy, immune system, digestive and respiratory health, as well as your overall well being.

JOM: Could you name three commonplace herbs people can consume for optimum health?

Katya: Some people believe that medicinal herbs need to be prescribed or found in remote parts of Chinatown, but you probably already have several in your kitchen that would be great for daily use. Goji berries are excellent blood tonics. They can be found in almost every grocery store these days and they can replace raisins in your granolas, trail mixes and baked goods. Mint is another wonderful herb that is energetically very cooling. Pour some hot water over it to make a replenishing tea the next time you or your kids experience a fever, anxiety or high stress. Ginger is another one of my favorites. Add it into your diet to help ward off any digestive issues or drink it as a tea to help regulate morning sickness.

JOM: If people could add one thing from holistic health into their daily lives, what should it be?

Katya: Wow, Chinese Medicine is so individualized that its hard to give one answer for everyone, but generally speaking, everyone could benefit from more breathing. It’s so simple, it’s so cheap, its so obvious, but none of us are doing enough of it. I’m not taking about the kind of involuntary breathing that happens without us noticing, I’m taking about the breath that we take to insert a pause into an argument we are having with our partner, or the breath that we take before reacting to our kid’s tantrum. Mindful breathing, whether it is one breath in a heated moment or 30 minutes of meditation goes a long way in helping to keep our Qi flowing, our blood pressure down, and our hearts open. (Read here for more information.)

JOM: What is one thing you consistently see your patients doing or ingesting that they should stop and why?

Katya: Patients are constantly searching for the Magic Pill/Diet/Antioxidant/Herb. Chinese Medicine is all about the long game, meaning that one appointment or one detox cannot permanently resolve and improve all of one’s health concerns. Being healthy comes from making a series of choices that are repeated throughout a lifetime. Prioritizing some daily exercise or movement, eating mindfully, managing stress (not just on your yoga mat but off as well), getting regular acupuncture, will all have much longer lasting positive results than chasing the latest fad diet ever will.

JOM: On your site, you speak about the large role nutrition plays in our overall health. What are a few pieces of advice you could give to our readers about elevating their nutrition?

Katya: I’m certainly not the first to point this out, but move away from the processed foods. The more steps that food goes through between the farm/ocean/garden/orchard and your plate, the less healthy nutrients it can bring with it. I don’t usually promote squeaky clean diets because I believe that there has to be some wiggle room for birthday cake and champagne, but if people can stick to an 80/20 diet of whole, organic, unprocessed foods with the occasional “slip ups” then we would all be generally feeling much better. It’s especially important to add as many greens into your diet as possible.

JOM: What is it like for you to be a working mom? How do you juggle it all?

Katya: The struggle is real! I’m lucky to have found a balance, though it’s not what I thought it would look like and some days it doesn’t feel balanced at all. I work multiple days a week doing what I love (that part is KEY) and the rest of my time is spent hanging out with my two girls, 1 and 3 years old. I was much more anxious to get back to a fuller work schedule after having my first daughter, but now that I have a second, I’ve realized how quickly the years go by and it helps me appreciate my days with the girls much more.

* * *

Thanks to Katya’s advice, we plan to incorporate more herb-based teas, fresh green herbs and produce into our daily routines. We sincerely hope you feel motivated to do the same! Here at Joy of Mom, we truly care about you and your health, and want to provide you with the best resources, support and education available.

If you live in the Los Angeles area and you’d like to learn more about how Tradition Chinese Medicine can help you, Katya can be reached here. Young or old, healthy or unwell, we can all benefit from acupuncture, herbs, and the guidance of a licensed TCM practitioner.

Many thanks to Katya Mosley for her time and for sharing her wisdom. She is truly an inspiration to us all.

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