Forcing the Bloom

Happy, Healthy Mommy Blog

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Road Trip Ideas for Kids

Summers are all about the road trips.  Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?  

The real question is how to keep the kids busy until we are there, wherever there may be.  Beach?  Grandma’s house?  Camp?  We’re about to finish up our adventure in Washington, D.C.  Then we are off to the beach in a few weeks.  In the fall, we’re visiting St. Louis.  Whew!  I don’t even like to travel!  How is it that I travel more with children then I ever did before they were born?

Since I try to minimize screen time, I was very excited about this little find at the library – Playaway.  You can rent these all-in-one recorded book devices at the library or buy them online ( or Amazon).  The handheld devices are light and easy for my toddler to start and stop.  One device usually has one recorded book but some have a collection of short books.  You can get all types of books – children’s, young adult, classics.

My toddler has been enjoying listening to books via Playaway in the car and it’s a great activity for a long car trip.  Since your child uses headphones to listen, that means you don’t have to listen.  Sometimes I like to listen to music and stories with my child but sometimes mommy needs quiet time!  My favorite part is hearing my toddler burst out laughing in a seemingly random way when everything and everyone else is quiet.  It’s almost as good as hearing him talk to himself.  You could give your child an actual book to hold while they listen or just let them listen without any visuals.  Either way is fun.

What are some interesting ways to keep kids busy in the car?  Have any long car trips planned for this summer?

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Get Ready for Summer Reading: Encourage “WILD READERS”

Are your kids “wild readers”?  Are you?  I know I am!  For one, I read a book about reading.  But how do I share that love of books with my children?

I just finished Donalyn Miller’s “Reading in the Wild.”  A perfect book to get ready for summer reading!  This book is about how to cultivate lifelong reading habits.  Although Miller specifically talks about her experiences teaching 6th graders to love reading (beyond her classroom), I thought her insights applied to everyone, including me (mom).

I have to admit that I grabbed this book simply based on the title.  WILD READERS!  I want that for my kids!  Wild readers read because they love reading.  Nothing can stop them from reading.  They read whenever they get the chance.  They know what they want to read next.  They have favorite authors and series.  They are confident in their book selections.  They seek out reading communities and enjoy talking with over readers.

If you have a house full of wild readers or you want to help your kids become wild readers, this is the book for you.  There are an AMAZING number of things we do that we think encourage reading but instead squash our children’s interest in reading.  Do we give our children enough opportunities to read?  Do we allow them the opportunity for self-selection?

If you want to kick off summer reading with a BANG, I recommend checking this book out first!  Then hit the library.





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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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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: 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