Forcing the Bloom

Happy, Healthy Mommy Blog

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Book Recommendation: “Better Than Before”

I’m enjoying Gretchen Rubin’s new book Better than Before.  I loved her first two books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home.  Through her books, I learned that I’m an “obliger” and a “finisher”.  I do very well with external expectation but not inner expectations.  Meaning, I put everyone else first before myself.  I wake up and wonder: What is expected of me today?  I’m great at being a role model and supporter but I tend to not leave time for what I want to do.  With these types of tendencies, I need external accountability.  I find this information SO POWERFUL when it comes to making or breaking habits and organizing or prioritizing my day.  Now I know why I LOVE to read but never find the time!  If you want to figure out whether you are an obliger (me), upholder, rebel or questioner (my husband) you can take a short quiz on Rubin’s website.

I highly recommend this book!  What are you reading?



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Toddler Letter Activities

I am always working on letters with my toddler (almost 3 years old).  The general learning pattern so far has been 1.) identify letters and the phonetic sounds 2.) learn beginning sounds of words 3.) learn to sound out words and 4.) learn ending sounds of words.  Sounding out the ends of words is still very challenging.  Even though he is learning to sound out words, we still go back and focus on specific letters to encourage mastery.  It is very motivating for him to work on things that stretch his learning as well as things that he has mastered.  And of course, the number one learning activity for letters is READING out loud together!  We read everyday and visit the library every week.  Here are some shelf work ideas involving LETTERS.

How are you teaching letters and early reading to your little ones?

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Resolution TRICKS for 2015

I have to admit that I love New Year’s.  I prefer it over Christmas.  I never thought much of it until I realized that my husband doesn’t like New Year’s or at least he doesn’t think much about it.  I agree that it seems counterintuitive to take the first day of the year off.  Shouldn’t we be trying to get ahead on the first day?

I don’t like New Year’s for the parties.  In fact, I don’t drink or attend parties.  What I like about New Year’s is the opportunity to start new projects and LISTS.  Still, there are always those resolutions that get dropped before Valentine’s Day.

THIS year I have a few NEW TRICKS to keep (hopefully) my resolutions going for the full 365 days of 2015.

1.) I use a DAILIES sheet.  I was inspired by Gretchen Rubin‘s books “The Happiness Project” and “Happier at Home” to create a daily check off list for the things I want to work on everyday.  For example, read to my toddler for 30 minutes, walk 10,000 steps, sleep at least 7 hours, etc.

2.) I wrote a list of AFFIRMATIONS based on my goals.  Writing down affirmations was recommended by several people and I have been pleasantly surprised by the effectiveness.  For example, by writing down “I am happily married” or “My child is creative and fun” (things I know to be true) I am reminded that they ARE true and I appreciate them more.

3.) I have MODELS OF INSPIRATION.  I have a couple of authors (it could be anyone) that I resort to when I need inspiration to continue my resolutions.  When I’m feeling tired and unmotivated, I re-read portions of their books or glance around their websites for new activity.  I especially love Gretchen Rubin’s Youtube videos.  We may not have everything or even very much in common but just enough that I feel inspired by their hard-work and determination.

Happy New Year!

What will keep you motivated this year?  What are your 2015 RESOLUTIONS?



Free, Non-Fat Happiness Boost in Two Minutes

Thank you for all of the book recommendations!  I’m so excited to try new authors.  All the recommendations made me think of one of my favorite authors, Gretchen Rubin.  She has written three books about HAPPINESS, “The Happiness Project”, “Happier at Home”, and soon to be released “Better Than Before.”  But what I most enjoy are her 2-minute YouTube videos on happiness.  Whenever I’m roaming on the internet, I almost always navigate to a new video of hers.  And she has so many that I’m never bored.  It’s a quick pick-me-up without calories or caffeine.  They make me motivated to reach out and hug some happiness.  It’s not touchy-feely.  They are stories, resolutions, and things that you can do in five minutes or less to make yourself happier.  Here are a few of my favorites…

Now I’m Free from French Fries

What am I Really Complaining About?

Guess: Who Never Confuses Identical Twins? – this one brought tears to my eyes!

I Can’t Organize my Mail

I wanted to share these with you because YOU deserve a free, non-fat, two-minute happiness boost too!

Do you have a secret source of happiness?  A favorite author?  Watching your child sleep?  Looking at photos?  Chai lattes?



Book Recommendations

I am looking a few good book recommendations.  I’m always hesitant to pick up a new book…UNLESS someone has recommended it!  What are you reading?  Any recommendations?  A favorite parenting or Montessori book?  A favorite young adult, science fiction?  I enjoy almost all genres.

Are you on  I have really enjoyed using this site to track my reading and get recommendations.  There is something very satisfying about checking off that you’ve read another book.  It motivates me to read more.  I have made it a priority to do things that make me happy everyday.  Reading makes me happy.  I used to think it was selfish – taking free time to read.  But now I can acknowledge that I’m a better person and mom when I’m happy.  So that means reading everyday.  And right now I need a new book!  🙂

Here’s what I’ve read recently…

The Book Thief by Lois Lowry

Christian Healer by Yvonne Cache von Fettweis and Robert Townsend Warneck

The Giver by Louis Lowry

The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman 

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv


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Book Review: “Happier at Home” by Gretchen Rubin

Summer reading!  I just finished reading “Happier at Home” a week ago.  Then I plowed through the 3rd book in the Divergent series, “Allegiant” by Veronica Roth.  Next on my reading list is “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv.  Here is my review of “Happier at Home” from

I actually enjoyed this book more than “The Happiness Project”, Gretchen’s first novel. I sped through it, so I must have REALLY liked it. It blows my mind to think of how many books Gretchen must read. I can’t image where she finds the time. Then I think, “Well, she did go to Yale!” I thought all her suggestions and tips where applicable in my life, even though Yale would never let me near their campus and even if I couldn’t figure out from the book how she had time to clean and cook meals like a regular mom. Maybe she doesn’t. She still inspired me to doggedly pursue my resolutions. I might have different goals than her but the “how to” is the same.

I think it’s frustrating to read books that remind us it takes time and hard work to accomplish our goals. Sort of like reading books that remind us that eating right and exercising are the best (and probably only) ways to get in shape and be healthy. We would rather read short-cut books that don’t work. Keeping that in mind, I sidestepped the minor frustrations that arose during the book (such as when and if she actually cleans or cooks) and allowed myself to be inspired. Instead of trying to figure out how many hours she actually spends with her daughters each week, I thought about how dedicated she was to her family in addition to having a thriving literary career.

I WAS little disgruntled after finding out that Gretchen’s father-in-law is Robert Rubin. When I told my husband, he said it was like one of Bill Gate’s kids writing about how difficult their lives were and how they became happier. When you put it that way, I not so sure how honest she was in the book.  BUT…I still liked the book.



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Book Review: Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mom

Have you read “Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mom” by Amy Chua?  It came out in 2011 but I’m just now getting around to reading it.  I found it difficult to read books when B was little.  Now that we have a good evening routine and sleep schedule, I’m able to read books again!  I don’t know why I picked this book to read now but I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN!  I even put down “Insurgent” by Veronica Roth to plow through this book.  I think it appealed to me because B is almost at the age when I could sign him up for activities and lessons, like soccer or music.  Not that I will.  But before I know it I’ll have all those options.  It’s a whole new world.

Amy Chua’s girls both started playing piano at age three and quickly entered a world of intense practice and competition.  Their mother, Amy, was deeply involved in their practice despite her full time teaching position at Yale Law School.  Amy Chua’s work and dedication to her girls’ music made me feel slightly inadequate and a bit exhausted.  Could I be doing more?  Are my expectations for B too low?

I know this book caused controversy.  I remember reading an excerpt from the book in the Wall Street Journal and then hearing Chua’s interviews on NPR.  Critics made it sound like Chua was touting her Chinese-style, parenting methods as superior to Western parenting.  I did NOT get that from the book at all.  I thought she poked fun at both cultures.  The cover of the book says that the book was suppose to be about how her Chinese methods were better.  Not that she was actually able prove it.  Her methods were put to the test during her battles with her youngest daughter, Lulu.  If you want to know who won those battles, you’ll have to read the book.

Tiger Mom