Making Work at Home Work

As you may remember, I recently partnered up with Making Work at Home Work as a blogger.
Expanding and Contracting: Managing Your Stress Level
By Mary M. Byers
My work is seasonal. I make about 30% of my income for the entire year in one month! That’s
the good news. The bad news is that it can be stressful getting through such a busy time. That’s
where the concept of “Expanding and Contracting” comes in.
Expanding and contracting requires making a conscious decision regarding how big your life
view is going to be at any given time. For example, I once had a speaking engagement in my
home town. Since my mother lived there, I decided to take my children along so they could
spend some time with grandma.
Several weeks before the engagement, my world view was still large. I could look at the
calendar for the entire month, make plans for later in the summer, and keep an active “To
Do” list for the week. As the engagement approached, however, I narrowed my focus to
getting my presentation ready and getting myself and the kids packed. The day before our
departure, getting out the door and to Grandma’s house was ALL I focused on. As soon as my
presentation was over, however, I was able to expand my focus again and begin planning for
our next trip—a family vacation.
You’ve probably used these concepts of expanding and contracting without even knowing
it. Think about the last time you had friends over for dinner. When you called to extend the
invitation, your life view was still large. As you approached the day of the meal, your view
contracted as you began to plan the menu and make your grocery list. The day of the event,
your view likely contracted even more, to the point of being focused on straightening the house
and getting the food prepared. After your guests arrived, your view could begin to expand again
and by the time they left, you were probably already thinking ahead to what the next day would
bring.
Expanding and contracting your view is extremely useful in staving off stress. As I view my
calendar some days and an overwhelmed feeling starts creeping over me, I simply take a
deep breathe (or two, or three, or ten, depending on the situation!) and ask myself, “How can
I contract my focus?” Doing so keeps me from being paralyzed and gives me a focal point
toward which to direct my energy. It’s an extremely effective means of staying sane when you’re
running a home and a business under one roof. Having a laser focus is necessary sometimes
just to get you through the day.

What techniques do you use to help you get through your work-related
busy times?
post. Until then, now that I’m done traveling for awhile, I’m expanding my focus again and it
feels good!
______________________
Mary Byers is the author of Making Work at Home Work: Successfully
Growing a Business and a Family Under One Roof
. You can learn more about
making work at home work by subscribing to Mary’s free blog at http://www.makingworkathomework.com/.
Interested in
more articles like this? Join the blog ring here.

E-mail me at http://www.blogger.com/mbyers@marybyers.com and I’ll share your tricks in my next

Embracing Summer Reading

As many of you know by now, Amber loves books so encouraging her to read is no problem at all! This summer has been so busy crazy for us that I’ve really had to make squeezing reading time in a priority! Here are some of my tips and tricks on how to make reading an important part of every day!
Make reading a part of your daily routine! Amber gets a minimum of 4 books read to her each day because she gets 2 books as part of her before nap routine and 2 books as part of her bedtime routine. If you’re a parent you know how helpful routines can be, especially before sleep times, and books just fit naturally into place here! Some of my most favorite memories come from remembering my mom reading to us before bed every night. This is a ritual you can have with very “big kids” along with babies and toddlers!
Keep books everywhere and have them easily accessible! I have 5 or 6 little board books from Chick-fil-a kids meals (seriously brilliant on their part–finally a “happy meal” toy that is actually worth something and won’t be thrown away a week later!!!) that I keep in Amber’s diaper bag and when we’re in the car, shopping, down town, etc I’ll pull them out and let her read them. This keeps her entertained and shows her you can enjoy books anywhere! At home all her books are in a forward facing canvas bookcase that I got from CSN. I love that she can reach the books and see which ones she has to choose from and this makes it easy for her to just go grab one to flip through whenever she feels like it!
Use books to help motivate and for special situations. As many of you also know we’re in the potty training phase right now! The Potty Tots book along with an Elmo Can Go Potty board book with sounds have been huge in Amber’s success! I read them to her before hand to help get her used to the idea, and used them while potty training so that we would have something to do while we were “waiting” in the bathroom for something to happen! Books can be irreplaceable for things like this!
Be sure they see you reading too! As smart as Amber is she’s not quite reading adult chapter books yet (lol). As you can see from the picture above, however, that’s exactly what she’s pretending to be reading! Since around last summer she has been extremely interested in whatever I’m reading and wants to “read” it as well. Instead of telling her she can’t read them I encourage her to flip through the pages, look at the many words and realize that Mommy thinks her books are interesting even without pictures! I hope this will help imprint my love of reading onto her mind and help her keep growing and developing her own love throughout the years!
Happy reading!
I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms blogging program to be eligible to get an “I Can Read!” book. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

I Have A Song ~ Shannon Wexelberg *Review*

When it comes to music my tastes are about as diverse as they come! I love and listen to everything from classic piano pieces and hymns to fairly hard-core “screamo” music and nearly everything in between those two extremes! Although I don’t listen exclusively to Christian music the one requirement all my music has it that it must be uplifting and in line with my faith and values. 
When it comes to worship music I tend to lean towards liking bands more than individual singers and guy more than girls. So when I received I Have a Song I was interested to see what my response would be! I will admit that since this isn’t usually what I would choose if I picked out a cd myself the first couple of times listening to it I wasn’t incredibly impressed. I think this had a lot to do with the fact that I went into listening to it thinking I wouldn’t like it and I wasn’t really paying attention to the words and just playing it while I was focusing on other things.
After our move I’ve been less stressed and more able to focus on music and have listened to the cd several times. Once I really started listening to the music and focusing on the words I was surprised to find that I really do like this cd a lot! She has a very pretty voice and I love the words to the songs. In the information I received along with the cd I learned that the singer has had some extremely hard past few years, yet all that’s reflected in the CD is her love and respect for God and His plan. That meant a lot to me as well!
I would highly recommend this cd to anyone who enjoys sweet, pretty worship music that comes from some one who really means it!

My Belle Boutique

Have you ever been looking around at things and saw something that made you say, “I *have* to have that!!!!!” Well yeah…the entire My Belle Boutique Etsy shop makes me do that!!!! My birthday is rapidly approaching (July 12th) and here’s a little hint to those of you who know me in “real life” (or even if you just blog stalk me and want to send me some love!!)–want to know what to buy me??? One word– Earrings!!!!! I’m seriously in love with all the earrings she has! Plus at $5.75 a pair they’re cheaper than a pair you could buy at a mall chain store and so much more fab!
please excuse my “chubby” face–I’m 8 months preggers after all!
The reason I would ask for earrings is because I received one of her gorgeous hand stamped necklaces to review! As I’ve mentioned before, I adore hand stamped jewelry! My Belle Boutique has some of the cutest, most affordable pieces I’ve ever seen! I just love my initial necklace that I was sent and have worn it just about every day since it arrived! Since it is so neutral it goes perfectly with any outfit and is glam enough to wear to church but simple enough to accent my preggo jean shorts and maternity shirts as well!
She doesn’t just carry jewelry, however. You can find an adorable assortment of knit hats, flowers clips, and headbands as well. Absolutely perfect for those of you like myself who have a little girl!
I noticed this on her shop home page and wanted to share it–it’s a wonderful cause and I would love if some of you would get involved and help out!
“My friend & her 3-year old son were badly hurt in an apartment fire. They lost everything. They are both in critical condition in the trauma burn center. I have set up an auction on My Belle Boutique’s Facebook page to help them out. 100% of the sale totals {minus shipping} will go straight to my friend and her son. Highest bid takes the prize. {Please keep in mind $1 will be added for shipping.} To take part in the auction please click here

So I know you want everything from her shop now right?!
One Lucky Winner will receive a $15 Credit to My Belle Boutique!
Since everything she has is so reasonably priced you could make a haul!!!
***This Giveaway is now CLOSED Congrats to Comment #71 WindyCindy who won via random.org***
This giveaway is open to US residents 18 years and older only

Mystic Wonders Inc. *Review and Giveaway*

***This Giveaway is now CLOSED Congrats to Comment #1 Everyday Mom Ideas who won via random.org***
Because of Amber’s eczema I have to be really careful about what I use to wash her clothes with. When she broke out so badly last Spring we finally figured out that the main culprit was the laundry detergent I was using. When I got the chance to review the Complete Laundry System from Mystic Wonders Inc. I was really excited! I will admit, I was very skeptical at the same time, I mean–how were my clothes supposed to get clean without using any soap? It was the first product I was sent to review that I was a little nervous about trying, because I didn’t want to have to publish a bad review if it didn’t work!
I’ve been using the complete laundry system for several months now and guess what? It really does work! (phew–haha!) I still use a small amount of detergent along with the system in my loads that are really soiled or need washed in hot water (like underpants and such) but for all the other loads they come completely clean with just the system! I’m super impressed and amazed by the results! Not only is it saving us a ton of money, since there are no chemicals or perfumes at all it’s perfect for Amber and helps her skin! I would definitely recommend this product if you’re looking for a way to cut your laundry costs down!!!
We were also sent small samples of the Wonder Goat Milk Soap and Wonder Balm. The soap was great–didn’t leave my hands dry and it also didn’t smell funny (which is something I’ve heard about other goat soaps, haha). I used the wonder balm on Amber’s eczema flair ups and it worked well in the spots where she was just breaking out. I’d recommend either of these products as well!

One lucky reader will win their very own Complete Laundry System!!! (it’s a $50 value!)
This giveaway is open to US residents 18 years and older only
As always be sure I have a way to get your email address so I can tell you that you won! If I don’t have an easy way to get it (in your comment, google profile, etc) I will automatically choose a new winner. A new winner will also automatically be chosen if any of the entries are not followed specifically (such as doing the mandatory entry). Also leave a separate comment for each additional entry that you do! One comment = one entry!
**Mandatory Entry**
This must be done in order for any other entry to count
1 Entry each ~ Follow me through Google Friend Connect, Subscribe to my RSS feed (Ramblings For You), or subscribe to me via email (Ramblings to Your Inbox)
You only have to do one but each you do counts as an extra entry! I have lots of nice stuff, I promise! Plus the more followers I have, the better things I can offer you! 🙂

 

**Additional Entries**
Because who wants to spend a bunch of money on laundry?!
1 Entry **Daily** Follow Me on Twitter and Tweet. Be sure to leave me the link! You may copy/paste the following:
Win a Complete Laundry System from Mystic Wonders Inc. @coastiewife321 http://tinyurl.com/28s5rjr ends 7/8/10 #giveaway Pls RT!
1 Entry for every 3 people you email about this! (As in if you email 9 people you get 3 extra entries) CC me da_angel_321@yahoo.com
1 Entry ~ Snag my blog button, isn’t it cute?! Leave me the url so I can come visit your blog!
3 Entries ~ Blog about this, leave me the URL to the post, you know you wanna share the love!

1 Entry ~ Sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (Amber’s latest favorite!)

This Giveaway will end 7/8/10 at 11:59 p.m. EST
I will choose the winner via random.org contact them via email and post them on this blog. They have 48 hours to claim their win before a new winner is chosen.
Good Luck!!!

Week 36 Update

In a month I’ll have a little baby boy in my arms!!! I find it so hard to believe but I’m so excited! :oD I’ve decided to try to have a VBAC so be praying for me! Labor and pushing really wasn’t hard until I started having problems last time and would way rather have a few days of being uncomfortable than 6 weeks where I can hardly move! My mom is flying in on the 11th since I had originally planned on a scheduled C-section and she’s flying out 5 days after my due date so I’m really really really hoping that Tyler is early or at least right on time! I will feel so bad if she comes and stays for over 2 weeks and doesn’t even get to see my baby!
As far as the pregnancy is concerned everything’s going well. I’m still nauseous and throw up about once a week (bleh), getting HUGE and achey, not sleeping well, and just all that “fun” stuff that comes with 8 months of being preggers! I really am thankful for a healthy happy wiggly little boy in there!
I got to have my first “real” massage yesterday! My Drs. office offers free prenatal massages to their patients so of course I signed up for one! 🙂 It was great! There were a few times where she was pushing kinda hard and at one point she was massaging my face and did this thing where she grabbed my cheeks and pinched them pretty hard, it was kinda weird–LoL!!! I was like…uhhhh ok….Haha! But it was very nice and afterwords I was all relaxed and just wanted to take a nice long nap! 🙂 Every Drs office should offer them!!!

Summer 2010 Family Vacation Guide

Have you checked out the Summer 2010 Family Vacation Guide on the CMBR Blog yet? If not what are you waiting for? Each day there is a new great article from one of the Mom Partners! Here is the link to my first article Tips For Travelling With Babies and Toddlers be sure to go read it and leave me some love!
There’s also some amazing giveaways going on right now! You can find the post to enter over 13 giveaways here–including $80 worth of ice cream–YUM!!! I can’t enter since I’m on staff, so even if you don’t want to win the stuff please go enter and give it to me when you win (hehe).
Hope you’re all enjoying your summer so far!!! 🙂

Rayovac Powers Your Summer Promotion

I just love the blog 5MinutesForMom! They have great content, giveaways, and information. Here’s the latest scoop I got from them today in my email about their latest awesome event!
Rayovac Powers Your Summer Promotion




Moms and kids just want to have fun and Rayovac has the power to make it happen!


From June 21st through July 20th, we are empowering families to have fun through the Rayovac Powers Your Summer Promotion.


First, show us you “like” the brand and products on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RayovacFans and together with expert moms at 5MinutesForMom, we will offer up great daily summertime family tips and a chance to win great prizes.


Then access and complete the entry form on Rayovc’s website at www.rayovac.com/PowersYourSummer. Simply tell us how you’ll power your fun this summer each day for a chance to win prizes ranging from Cameras and Bikes to Camping Supplies and a Summer Supply of Rayovac Batteries! No trick questions here! There is no correct answer to how you and your family add the Power of Fun to your summer! Must be a US resident and 18 or older at the time of entry to enter this Promotion, the Twitter Event or the Blogger Promotion.


Rayovac Powers Your Summer Twitter Event


Join Rayovac and 5MinutesForMom for a Twitter Event to support the exciting Rayovac Powers Your Summer Promotion. The Twitter Event will feature more than 20 fun giveaways from Rayovac ranging from a summer supply of Rayovac Batteries to $50 Target Gift Cards.

Rayovac Powers Your Vacation Summer Promotion Twitter Event


Date: Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Time: 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. CST


Location: #rayovac


Follow: @Rayovac_Battery, @5minutesformom, @CirclePRMary


**Disclosure**
The first 99 bloggers to promote the Rayovac Powers Your Summer Rayovac Powers Your Summer Promotion & Twitter Event won a prize package from Rayovac

Potty Training – Success!

How I Potty Trained In One Week

A week ago I posted about beginning Operation Ditch the Diapers. I’m so excited to report that a week later Amber is what I would consider fully potty trained!!! Woo HOOOOO!!!
And how does Amber feel about all of this?? Well if you look at the picture you can see she’s pretty proud of herself!
I’ve had a couple of different people ask about exactly what I did to get her potty trained so quickly and so here goes!
First I want to start off by saying that by “fully potty trained” I mean she tells me every time she needs to go potty, runs into the bathroom, and goes. Today is the first day we’ve managed to make it while she was still completely dry every time but I figure as long as she’s in the bathroom, trying to make it–it counts! We’re still working on the whole concept of going #2 although she did go with virtually no problem today (yey!) she still thinks it’s kinda scary though (lol). I will also mention that I do still have her in Pull Ups for nap time, bed time, and when we go out and about, but she’s in underwear the rest of the day. Also when we went to church she was in Pull Ups but she still told the nursery workers when she had to go potty and went twice while there! 🙂
When I first started researching and asking around about how to potty trained I got a little overwhelmed feeling. Everyone from friends to websites to magazines and books had tons of advice but most of it was really general and went along the lines of “here’s kinda sorta helpful hints but really each child is different and when she gets it she’ll get it.”
Uhhh…ok great–so what do I do???
(and I will mention that Amber didn’t show virtually any of the “readiness” signs. She was interested in the potty and bathroom but only because of her great Potty Tots program but other than that there were no indicators. She didn’t care if she was wet or dirty–in fact she hated for me to change her poopy diapers and would often insist that she was still “nice and clean” and didn’t need changed. She never said she had to go, still got her diapers soaked through her nap, had a hard time pulling pants on and off, on and on. Just throwing that out there since because of that I thought I was going to have a huge battle on my hands and instead she was potty trained within a few days–just throwing that out there!)
I’m the kind of person who likes being told–look here’s a list of what you need to do first, second, third. That way I have a game plan while fully realizing I can change and adjust it to fit me and my child if need be. So when my cousin told me about the e-book she used to fully potty train her not even 2 year old boy in 3 days I was really excited! The book is called Potty Training Basics and you can get it here. It costs $17 which might seem pricey but if you think about it that’s not even the cost of a box of diapers and it has a money back guarantee. I would highly recommend it! I followed it “to the letter” for the first day with the exception of the Pull Ups for naptime and bedtime. I hadn’t been planning on “night time” training yet even though the book recommends it because frankly Amber wakes up before I do and I’m just too exhausted to tackle it right now! Well, little did I know that I wouldn’t have a choice on this and she was so into potty training that the first several nights she woke up screaming at 3 a.m. that she had to go POTTY!! Thankfully the past few nights she’s just stayed asleep and just had to use the potty right after she wakes up, lol!!
I feel like the e-book was vital for me in order for our success and that Amber’s Potty Tots Program was vital for her part. The e-book gave me guidance and direction and Potty Tots helped make it fun, not scary, and understandable for Amber. You can see my full review of The Potty Tots here!

In addition to those I also created a “sticker chart” for Amber which is just a piece of scrapbook paper cut wavy on top w/ Amber’s name in stickers on it. Every time she went in the potty she gets to choose 2 stickers (one for the back of each hand) and then when she gets tired of wearing them she runs and puts them on the chart. She also gets a treat every time she goes in the potty. The first few days I had homemade chocolate chip cookies that I’d made for our anniversary so she got a small piece of those. After that it’s been more healthy stuff like fruit, crackers, etc. I would highly recommend using bribes although which ones work will just depend on your kiddo. Amber loves stickers and food so those have worked perfectly for us.

 

Another *great* tip that wasn’t included in the book came from my new Coastie wife friend Katy. She told me about Gerber training pants which are panties but a whole lot thicker so they’re great for training because your kiddo can feel they’re going but it doesn’t make a HUGE mess! I didn’t use them on the very first day since we spent all day in the bathroom and I wanted Amber to REALLY tell when she had an accident but they’ve been amazing ever since! You can find them at Wal*Mart or Target or anywhere like that. I almost missed them in the Wal*Mart here because they had them next to the Gerber sets like onsies and baby bath towels and not by the rest of the toddler underwear.

I have run into a few speed bumps I didn’t expect along the way–the big one was how much harder nap and bedtime has become!!! (including the crazy 3-4 am wake up calls) She’s a smart little bugger and figured out that saying “I need to go potty” gets her out of her crib. So nap/bedtime has become a struggle as I try to not discourage her if she does need to go–but get very grumpy if we’ve been sitting there for 15 minutes only to figure out she didn’t have to go after all. Still working on exactly how to deal with that! A few days she just boycotted nap time altogether by yelling about “going potty” the entire time. That hasn’t happened for a few days now though so I do have hope! Also she has been a little more insecure in other areas–like asking for her pacifier at bedtimes even though she hadn’t mentioned it in months before this! I know this is all to be expected with any huge changes though and we’ll just muscle through it!
Ok–I think that covers it all! If you have any questions just ask! Right now I’m off to chase a 2 year old into the bathroom because she just informed me she “has to go potty!!!!”

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Guest Post from Moody Mamas

Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean…you have to dread summer.

The summer weather is here! It’s getting hot, the humidity is soaring and you’re pregnant. You can’t do anything without breaking a sweat, let alone having to face the 80 degree weather. Right now, the only activity that sounds appealing is staying inside an air conditioned house watching Lifetime movies and eating bon bons. But don’t sweat it (literally), we’ve got the deets on how to keep you cool this summer!
Although your incredible hair might be turning heads, there’s no denying that on a hot day it can make you feel about twenty degrees warmer. The solution? A sleek ponytail paired with a chic headband. No, headbands aren’t just for little girls anymore. Lately, you can find trendy, embellished hair accessories everywhere-from CVS to J.Crew. So go ahead, make the investment and feel the breeze.

Dresses are the greatest invention for women, second to Brad Pitt, and every pregnant woman—scratch that—every woman needs a closet full of them for the summer. Right now, we’re loving the Fierce Mamas summer collection at Nordstrom.com created by the insanely fabulous designer, Christian Siriano. Going to a summer wedding? Try the chiffon printed sweetheart dress. Have a hot date? The charmeuse dress will have him saying “ooh la la la”. This collection has tons of great pieces that will suit every occasion and will make you look like a Fierce Mama. Wish there were more Brad Pitts to go around…sigh. http://www.mmlovesnordstrom.com/ .

There’s nothing more fantastic then spending the perfect summer day lounging at the beach. Thanks to Nicole Richie, gone are the days when pregnant women are forced to hide under a shady tree sporting a Grandma-style one piece. Your bump is a fabulous accessory, so flaunt it in an adorable tankini or a sexy one piece if you are looking to cover some flesh. Now, grab a virgin pina colada and head to the beach, because it’s too darn hot to do anything else!

Written By:
Elise Rosemarin & Marta Abrams of Moody Mamas, Inc.

***Note from Nicole***

In honor of me being just one month!!!! away from my due date Moody Mamas is offering my readers a special discount code for 30% off their site!!! Just enter the code MM Discount when you check out!