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Money Matters

by Monick Halm

The holidays are a wonderful time, but they can do some serious damage to our finances if we are not careful! Commercials, print ads and those holiday movies and TV shows can put a lot of pressure on us mamas to make the perfect (in other words, expensive) holiday. Overspending and creating new debt is a common problem and always leads to some post-holiday hangovers.

holiday gifts

Here are eight steps you can take to avoid that financial hangover and start the new year feeling financially fit and fabulous!

1. SET A BUDGET. Creating a comprehensive holiday time budget early in the season will be your best defense against overspending and impulse buys. Remember that financial solvency is a gift you give yourself and your family, and it’s worth more than the momentary pleasure of a gift or feeling like you have to keep up with the neighbors. To create your budget, write down everyone you plan to buy a gift for, no matter how small the gift may be. Include ideas of what to give each person, along with the maximum amount you’re willing to spend. Don’t forget to list the people who will receive holiday tips, such as your doorman, babysitter, and mail carrier. When you are creating your budget also add the little extras such as postage for Christmas cards, holiday favors and decorations, or the cost of boarding pets when you’re traveling.

2. DON’T FEEL THE NEED TO BUY EVERYTHING ON YOUR CHILDREN’S WISH LIST. Be clear with your children that you or Santa won’t be granting their every wish. You can’t buy your children’s happiness or love, so why try? If your kids still believe in Santa, help them draft real-world wish lists. In the post-Santa years, set some financial boundaries, and give them some choices.

holiday gifts

3. SHOP AT SALES ALL YEAR FOR HOLIDAY GIFTS.Don’t wait until after Thanksgiving to start buying holiday gifts. Keep your eyes open all year round for items friends and family would like. It’s often when you’re not looking for something specific that you stumble across the perfect gift for Mom or your best friend. Once December hits, you’ll be glad that you already have some people crossed off your list. Just make sure to keep all your advance gifts in a designated (and hidden, if necessary) spot so that you don’t forget a purchase you made months in advance, and include these gifts on the budget.

4. GET CREATIVE. Make crafts or baked goods for gifts instead of spending money on store-bought items. Do-it-yourself gifts are great for family, friends and gift exchanges with coworkers. Also, instead of a traditional gift you can offer a service (e.g., baby sitting, walking the dog, or taking an elderly relative out for an outing) or donate to a charity in someone’s name.


5. AGREE TO LIMITS. Amongst friends and family you can agree to budget friendly gift limits. For example, among some of my best friends and our growing families we have agreed that we will not exchange gifts with the adults, but will just give gifts to our children. In my family, we have agreed to a $75 Secret Santa among the adults. Each person makes a wish list of gifts they would like that fall within that $75 price range. Everyone in the Secret Santa pool picks a name and buys for one other person gifts off of their wish list. This is much more manageable than having to buy for everyone and greatly eases everyone’s stress.

6. USE CASH INSTEAD OF CREDIT WHERE POSSIBLE. You might say to yourself that you’ll pay off the credit card after the holidays, but things happen and before you know it, you’re carrying the holiday balance into April. Don’t pay for unnecessary interest and fees on credit cards on items that you’re not even keeping!


7. CONSIDER SPENDING MONEY ON EXPERIENCES INSTEAD OF THINGS Studies have shown that money spent on experiences tends to create much more lasting happiness than money spent on things. Instead of buying lots of things for your family that will soon be forgotten, consider taking the family to see a show or on a vacation. One holiday we rented a cottage in Lake Arrowhead with the entire family and had a very special holiday there. Another holiday season we took the family to Las Vegas and went to see Blue Man Group. In the end, these experiences with you are almost always more meaningful than quickly-forgotten gifts. That’s money well spent!

8.REMEMBER THE REASON FOR THE SEASON. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, keeping the holiday’s spiritual message front and center is a good antidote to the holiday “gimmies.” Instead of spending weekends leading up to Christmas in the mall, it would be a lot better gift to spend your time with your family or bring your kids to do something charitable for others.

My Baby's Smile

by Nancy Mueller

I remember the first time my baby smiled at me; it filled me up in a way that words cannot describe.

As my baby got older, my most important goal was to make her life happy. I soon realized that there were many things I would have to learn to be the best mom I could be.

I had to learn about nutrition, fevers, happy tears, sad tears, fears, wants, needs, when to give in, when to stay firm, but never how to love; that came easy.

The job of “mom” can be rewarding, challenging, exhausting, frustrating, surprising, and even insightful; but it’s that smile on your child’s face that makes it all worthwhile.

I heard a story about a famous research scientist who had made several very important medical breakthroughs. When interviewed by a local newspaper, he was asked why he thought he was able to succeed so much more that the average person, to be so much more creative than the average person? In other words, what set him so far apart from others?

He responded that, in his opinion, it all came from a lesson his mother taught him when he was 2 years old. He’d been trying to take a bottle of milk out of the refrigerator, when he lost his grip and spilled the entire contents on the kitchen floor. His mother, instead of scolding him, said, “What a wonderful mess you’ve made! I’ve rarely seen such a huge puddle of milk. Well, the damage is already done. Would you like to get down and play in the milk before we clean it up?”

Indeed he did. And, after a few minutes, his mother continued, “You know, whenever you make a mess like this, eventually you will have to clean it up. So, how would you like to do that? We could use a towel, sponge or mop. Which do you prefer?

After they were finished cleaning up the milk, she said, “What we have here is a failed experiment in how to carry a big bottle of milk with two tiny hands. Let’s go out in the backyard, fill the bottle with water and see if you can discover a way to carry it without dropping it.” And they did!

Nancy Mueller

What a wonderful lesson! The scientist then remarked it was at that moment he knew he didn’t have to be afraid to make mistakes. Instead, he learned that mistakes were just opportunities for learning something new – which, after all, is what scientific experiments are all about. I am so happy I read that story while my daughters were growing up because it reminded me that no amount of spilled milk or failed experiments were worth taking a chance of damaging a child’s self-esteem.

Teaching our child a high sense of self-esteem is a gift that will take them through their lifetime AND keep that beautiful smile on their face.

My daughter is now a mother herself, and from the first time my grandson smiled at me…

Dad's Point of View

by Hogan Hilling, Dad Guru

Christmas is upon us once again. One of the holiday traditions is to show gratitude to the people we cherish and love by showering them with gifts. One of those people is your husband and father of your child(ren), who I will refer to as Dad.

Several weeks before the eventful day of December 25th millions of moms will endure traffic jams on the street and shopping malls. Moms will struggle to find that one special gift to place under the Christmas tree that will light up a Dad’s face.

The choice of classic gifts for a dad vary from a coffee mug, personalized DAD t-shirt, tech device, brief case, shaving kit, gloves, pen, golf accessory, videos, alcohol, tools, sports memorabilia, gun, rifle……and all things masculine. The challenge is not only to decide which gift to purchase but also affordability.

But alas I have a suggestion for a special, unique gift dad will appreciate and every mom can afford. It is a gift that does not require you to spend any time battling street traffic and foot traffic at the mall because you can’t find it in a store. It’s a gift that doesn’t cost anything except a pen, sheet of paper and an envelope. And it is also priceless. It’s a gift that comes from the heart.

But before I tell you what the gift is I’d like to challenge you to view Christmas in a different way this year. I will begin with a story a dad shared with me.

Al is a very involved and hands on dad. One day he finally convinced his wife, Jessica, to take time off from her motherly duties and spend some alone time or with friends on a Saturday morning. Jessica left the house at 8 am and planned to return sometime after lunch.

When Jessica returned home at 1pm she arrived to find Al, and their two daughters, Madison (6) and Jackie (4), in the family room still wearing their pajamas. Al was combing Madison’s hair and Jackie was playing with her new doll and tea set. All three had smiles on their faces, laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

Jessica was not happy. “Why are you and the girls still wearing pajamas? The house is a mess! Look at that kitchen! What have you three been doing all day? I’m gone for 5 hours and the place is a disaster.

Thanks a lot honey! Now I have to spend the rest of the day cleaning up!”

Here is what Al shared with me. “Hogan, I couldn’t understand why my wife got upset. Yes, I understand the house was not as clean as she would have wanted when she came home. But I didn’t do it on purpose. I was having so much fun with the girls I forgot about the time, dressing the girls and cleaning the house. Why couldn’t she have focused on the smiles on our face, and how happy the girls and I were? Why couldn’t she have invited herself to join us and spend time as a family together? What is more important a clean house or a happy family? I would have been happy to clean up the mess with her later. I work hard during the week and there isn’t much time for me to spend with our children. It would have been nice to have my wife thank me for giving her time off from being a mom and my effort to spend time with our children. I’m really confused and frustrated.”


My Dearest Husband,

Here is my special Christmas gift to you. From this day forward I will embrace your role as a dad by following these simple “12 Days of Christmas” rules.

1. I will accept the fact that you parent differently than a mom. And that you’re priorities are also different than mine. How a dad parent’s is not wrong, just different.

2. I will focus on “what” you do and not “how” you do it. I will appreciate and respect the unique and valuable role you play as a dad to our child(ren).

3. I will not criticize or make embarrassing remarks about the way you parent in front of other people, especially the children.

4. I will accept that your number one priority while spending time with a child is different than mine. I understand that your number one priority is to have fun and build a relationship with our child…not color coordinating our child(ren) or keeping the house clean.

5. I will relinquish my role as a parent to you when necessary, find time for myself and not feel guilty. I realize that no mom or dad can be a parent 24/7 and that it is okay to take a break from the child(ren).

6. I will not allow other people to refer to you as “Mr. Mom” or the “babysitter” when you are caring for our child(ren). You are our child(ren’s) dad.

7. I will defend your role as a dad and not allow anyone, even my mother to disrespect your role as a dad.

8. I will not ask you to show your feminine side because you don’t have one. I understand that a man can be sensitive, nurturing and compassionate in a masculine way.

9. I will not listen to or associate myself with other moms who criticize or talk badly about their husband’s role as a dad.

10. I will respect your role as a dad, which means I will trust your instincts and skills as a dad and allow you to be a dad to our child(ren).

11. I will place our relationship as husband and wife before my relationship with the children. Our love for each other is the foundation of this family. I need to nurture it as often as possible and keep the romance alive in our marriage.

12. I will no longer take your role as a loving husband and involved dad for granted. I will love, honor and respect you everyday.


Your Wife

The letter is not only a special gift for your husband but also a great gift for the child(ren). And it is a gift that keeps on giving!

Hogan Hilling

Hogan Hilling is a single man and proud dad who successfully navigated his way through the divorce process and applied strategies that resulted in positive, proven outcomes. Hilling’s 20 plus years of experience include his role as a dad advocate, motivational speaker, consultant and instructor about fatherhood issues.

Hogan is also an author of four published books including, Pacifi(her): What She’s Thinking When She’s Pregnant and Rattled: What He’s Thinking When You’re Pregnant.

You can find more information on Hogan and his books on

Jamie Leff

by Jamie Leff

What is the first thing you think about when someone asks you, “What is your favorite thing about the holidays?” Often, I get answers such as, “Grandma’s Yams, Uncle Bill’s prize winning gravy or Mom’s World Famous Latkes;” basically, anything that has to do with food! It is not surprising that people put on weight over the holidays…. everything usually revolves around something edible or drinkable. There is the baking, the holiday parties, and office treats. Let’s not forget to mention things you wouldn’t normally, but now you absolutely HAVE to eat, because they put the word pumpkin, peppermint or eggnog in front of it. What if you focused on something else this holiday season? What if you focused on making memories instead of pumpkin bread?

You have five senses: taste, touch, smell, hearing and sight. As we previously discussed, taste seems to get most of the attention around the holidays. If you think about it though, a lot of our memories are made using the other four senses as well. How about we give taste a rest and focus on the other senses instead? What would the holidays look like then?

Let’s explore this idea:

TOUCH: Think about the things around the holidays that you can physically feel. Bing Crosby makes reference to “Jack Frost nipping at your nose,” in his famous holiday classic White Christmas.

Some examples are:

  • Curling up with your loved ones under a cozy blanket, in front of a fire, on a crisp winter’s night.
  • Cuddling with your pet, stroking it’s fur and just relaxing after a long day.
  • Taking a hot bubble bath (I know I said to ease off of taste, but I think adding a glass of wine here will make you feel really good!).
  • Hugging and kissing your loved ones as often as you can.
  • Making homemade holiday decorations with your kids.


SMELL: Sometimes the best part of baking all of those holiday goodies, is the smells they leave behind. You can be in the middle of a restaurant, get a whiff of cinnamon and apples, and it brings you back to the last Thanksgiving at grandma’s.

Here are some examples of using smell:

  • Lighting candles or getting air fresheners in your favorite holiday scents.
  • Since we are so obsessed with everything pumpkin, peppermint, or eggnog, how about getting a bubble bath in one of those scents?
  • Standing in front of a Christmas tree and just breath deeply! Or go up to the mountains and take in the fresh air!
  • Try this Hot Spiced Cider recipe from Betty Crocker. Not only will it warm you up, but it will make your house smell amazing!!!


There’s nothing like warm, spicy apple cider to break the ice when you’re entertaining on a chilly day.

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Total Time: 15 Minutes

Servings: 6


• 6 cups apple cider
• 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 3 cinnamon sticks

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat ingredients to boiling over medium- high heat. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 10 minutes.

Before serving, strain cider mixture to remove cloves and cinnamon, if desired. Serve hot.

From Betty Crocker Online: www.

HEARING: Part of the fun of the holidays is turning on your radio and rocking out to your favorite holiday classics! Or how about when your child comes home singing the same version of “Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel,” that you learned when you were his or her age?


This holiday season:

  • Listen to holiday music.
  • Tell stories to kids about the true meaning of the holidays. Or have everyone share their favorite holiday memory.
  • Take in the laughter and the excitement. Focus on the joy the holidays bring, especially to your kids.
  • Tell someone you love them everyday. Chances are, they will tell you they love you back, and that’s a wonderful thing to hear everyday, not just around the holidays.

SIGHT: At the end of the day, there’s nothing better then spending time and making precious memories with the people you care about most.

  • Visit with family and friends. For some people, the holidays are the only time they get to see certain people. Take advantage and really enjoy that time.
  • Take your children to look at holiday decorations. Decorate your own house.
  • Watch holiday movies.
  • Record home movies of your kids decorating the house, opening their presents, and anything else holiday related. These will be your favorite holiday movies for years to come.

Hopefully, these ideas will distract you from the non-stop eating that occurs from Thanksgiving to New Years! Also, remember that the holidays are also about giving. When you find that you have over-done it in the kitchen, donate some of that extra food to the local food bank. Instead of sending your child to school with homemade cookies for his or her teacher, make a donation in that teacher’s honor. Purchase $5 gift cards to any fast food place and give them out to people you see in need. Take the time to be grateful for all that you had this year.

These things are what the holidays are really about. It’s about making memories with the people you love. Focus on these things and you will be so caught up in the holiday spirit, you won’t even think twice about Aunt Betty’s special fudge. You’ll just be so happy to see Aunt Betty!

Happy Holidays!  I’d love to hear from you! What are some of your favorite holiday traditions that don’t involve food? Send an email over to

Jill Hope

by Jill Hope

As a mom, the joy you can experience during the holidays is second only to the joy your children feel. I always watch from a place of wonder and deep appreciation as my son embraces the family traditions we’ve created, enjoys his school holiday parties, delights in decorating cookies, and sings in his school holiday performance.

But in our role of mom, we also take on all the additional errands that go along with making the holidays special. Decorating, baking, shopping for gifts, being present for all of the performances and activities… just thinking of all this can be exhausting, let along doing it. And for some, this time of year can also carry with it less desirable reminders. Family friction, extra money demands, or financial stress can be even more of a presence at this time of year.

This added pressure can add up to a whole lot of holiday stress that over- shadows the joy we’d like to feel instead. If the demands of the holiday season keep you from being fully present to the joy that surrounds this time of year, I have good news.

You DO have control of your stress levels over the holidays!

You may be thinking “how can that be?”, and I understand that response because I used to feel that way. I thought living with stress was my cross to bear, not just during the holidays, but all throughout the year.

However, the truth is that our feelings come from our interpretations of an event. In other words, we create a story about what we’re experiencing, and how we react to that story is what creates our emotions and stress levels.

So how can you take control of your thoughts and enjoy a stress-free, joyous holiday?

Here are 5 strategies that can help:

1. CREATE AN INTENTION FOR YOUR DAY Just because you have a lot to do doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. If you could create your day, how would you like it to go? How would you like to feel when you go to bed at night?

Take a moment each morning before you get out of bed and scan through your day. Visualize each task, appointment, and errand, and see yourself feeling calm, happy, and free from stress. This takes less than 5 minutes, and makes a world of difference in terms of how your day flows and how you feel going through it.

When you consciously focus on how you want things to go, what it will look like, and how you will feel, you greatly increase the chances of things happen- ing the way you envision.

2. WHEN STRESS HITS, FOCUS ON WHAT IS GOING RIGHT It’s easy to fall into the trap of negativity when you start feeling overwhelmed. When something doesn’t go well, we can fall into a downward spiral that makes everything feel harder.

When things aren’t flowing smoothly, notice how you are feeling and allow those feelings to be there, without judgement. Then, shift your thoughts away from what’s going wrong, and instead, run a checklist in your head about what has gone right.

By catching yourself in the moment and noticing how many things actu- ally do go right in your life, you stop the downward spiral of negativity, and instead create a sense of wellbeing.

You may have heard the saying “What you focus on grows”. Keeping your focus on all that IS working will help you more easily get through those things that aren’t working.

3. USE A MANTRA AND DEEP BREATHING TO QUICKLY SHIFT OUT OF STRESS AND INTO CALM When you find yourself in the midst of anxiety and overwhelm, your physiology changes. You become contracted, your breathing can become shallow, your mind is less receptive to ideas, and your body tenses up.

When you notice yourself in this state of contraction, immediately take at least 3 slow, deep, conscious breaths, breathing the air all the way down to your belly. After 3 deep breaths, your mind opens up, ideas can once again be received, and the tension in your body will dissipate.

Then, have a mantra ready that you can repeat to yourself to get you back to a positive frame of mind and remind you of how you are supported. Some mantras I have used are “Everything always works out”, “I am connected to the Divine”, or “Everything happens FOR me, not TO me”.

These steps can literally be done in less than a minute, quickly taking you to a more positive state of being.

4. OWN YOUR POWER How often do you say “yes” to someone because you don’t want to let them down, but inside you really want to say “no”? When you don’t act in alignment with your desires, you are not acting from your place of authentic power.

Energetically, this means that your energy is split, which can drain your vitality and your ability to get through all those errands you have to do.

To get back into alignment with your authentic power, start noticing when you say “yes” when you really want to say “no”, and “no” when you really want to say “yes”.

Once you become aware of how often you aren’t honoring your true feelings, you can start taking back your power.

Start saying “no” when you mean no and “yes” when you mean yes and see how that feels. Acting from your place of authentic power will increase your energy and help all aspects of your life go more smoothly.

5. CREATE A DAILY PRACTICE TO EXPERIENCE MORE PEACE AND TAP INTO YOUR INTUITION  One of the practices I added to my daily routine that has had the most profound effect on my life and business was adding a daily spiritual practice.

Not only have I created a deeper level of peace within, but I am more easily guided by my intuition, and I’ve even become more productive.

Creating a daily practice can include quieting your mind, meditating, doing deep, conscious breathing, or even writing in a journal.

In the practice I’ve created, I put on some deeply relaxing music, quiet my mind, allowing any stray thoughts to move through without entertaining them, and then doing some deep breathing.

If I have a question I am struggling with, I may ask it and then write down in my journal the first thing that comes to mind.

Engaging in a regular daily spiritual practice can reduce stress, increase relaxation, and help you get acquainted with the voice of your intuition so that your choices will be guided toward your highest good.

Even 10 minutes of a mindful practice in the morning before your kids get up can be highly beneficial. And what’s best is that the benefits of a spiritual practice are cumulative. The more you do it, the more peace you cre- ate to sustain you through the holidays and beyond.

You can consciously choose to minimize the feelings of stress, worry, or despair brought on by holiday activities. And in doing so, you greatly increase your chances of experiencing more of the joy your kids feel. What’s more, the healthy practices you estab- lish now can extend well beyond the holiday season.

Jill Hope If you would like to learn more about the strategies that conscious moms use to help manage the many emotions of the parenting journey while raising their kids AND their businesses, I invite you to download my free audio mp3 “The Conscious Mindset for Modern Moms: 6 Strategies for Creating Self-Empowerment and a Success Mindset” by going

Erica Rood

by Erica Rood, M.Ed.

What mother does not want her daughter to feel good about herself? To feel capable, worthwhile, content with who she is, and confident in where she is going? Research has shown that mothers play a significant role in the development of their daughter’s self esteem. Mothers are the ultimate role models for their daughters. The values and attitudes they model and teach are internalized by their daughters and shape their daughters’ self-image and views of the world. While mothering a daughter can be one of the most rewarding relationships, it can also be full of intense emotional extremes, especially during the teen years, when independence beckons. During this time, a healthy and respectful relationship is the key to effective communication. You can lay a strong foundation of trust and respect by establishing open and honest lines of communication early in your daughter’s life. One way in which to do this is to share creative, inspiring experiences together.

Yoga is an excellent tool for creating a sense of openness and awareness. I have received an overwhelmingly positive response from mothers and girls who have participated in my Mother-Daughter Yoga series. In these classes, moms and daughters share so much more than yoga; we engage in inspiring conversations, lively activities, and creative projects, all of which center around important topics including self-image, friendships, stress, bullying, and more. There are so many benefits to learning and having fun in a group setting, but you can also benefit from sharing a creative yoga practice at home.

Here are a few playful and purposeful poses for you and your daughter to try. The suggested poses, conversation starters, and activities are designed to enhance communication in a natural, relaxed way. Use the yoga as an opportunity to take off your “parent hat” and get down on your daughter’s level. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and honest and you will see your daughter do the same.


Erica RoodStart seated, facing each other. Bring your hands and feet together and lean back. Balance on your sit-bones. Test your flexibility by straightening your legs and row your boat!


Off the mat: Use boat pose as a springboard into a discussion about how life will present challenges that make you feel unstable. It’s during those times, when we need to reach out for support from each other. Discuss the challenges each of you face. Share how you react to challenges. Do you ask for help? Do you work through challenges alone? Do you avoid challenges altogether?

Activity: Role-play challenging situations and explore different responses.


Erica RoodStart facing each other in a plank or modified plank (like the top of a push- up, with knees up or knees down to modify.) Rock to the edge of your right foot and press into your right hand. Slide your left leg on top of right and reach for each other’s left hand. If you feel the pose is easy and you are stable, try to lift your top leg. If you are feeling unstable, take your right knee down for extra support. Switch sides.

Off the mat: Use this pose to launch a discussion about the importance of maintaining balance in life. Talk about how to determine when it’s appropriate to add an extra challenge or activity and when you should back off and reach out for support. What events or activities make you feel off-balanced and stressed? How do you balance your current activities and keep your stress level low? What can you do to create more balance in your life?

Activity: Create a “Balance Sheet” that lists actions you can take to maintain balance in your life. Schedule a “Day of Balance” when you try an activity together.

Erica RoodSit back-to-back in a comfortable cross-legged position. Take a big belly- breath in and reach your arms up. As you breath out, turn and twist to the right. Reach around for each other’s knees. Switch sides.

Off the mat: Twists are great for detoxing the body and a perfect opportunity to start a discussion about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. What are some of your favorite healthy foods? What new food or recipe can you explore together?

Activity: Go online together and research the nutritional values of some of your favorite foods. Are you surprised? Find a healthy recipe you can make together. There are delicious suggestions on sites like Pinterest.


Erica RoodStart standing tall with your feet together. Step your left foot back and pivot your foot slightly (about 45 degrees.) Bend your right knee and keep your left leg straight. Extend your arms and reach your fingertips away from each other. Feel your amazing strength and shout out: “I am strong!”

Off the mat: Warrior poses are symbolic of strength. They challenge our bodies and in turn, challenge our minds. Use this pose to talk about inner vs. outer strength. When is it appropriate to use physical strength? When do you need to tap into your inner strength? Share your experiences of using your inner and outer strength.

Activity: Create a “Wise Warrior” collage. Cut out pictures and words that describe qualities of inner and outer strength. Include pictures of personal heroes and role models.

If you’re interested in joining a Mother- Daughter Yoga series or hosting one at your home, please contact me. It is my passion and purpose to empower moms and daughters and inspire young women to live confident, happy lives!

Erica Rood

Erica’s mission is to support girls on their journey to adulthood. She is a Teen WisdomTM Life Coach for girls and registered yoga teacher with over ten years of classroom teaching experience.

Erica maintains a private coaching practice in San Diego where she uses specific tools designed to empower girls to develop a strong sense of self and set a purposeful direction for their lives. She has developed and teaches unique yoga programs for pre-teen and teen girls and teaches mother-daughter yoga.

You can find out more at

by Shaila Saint, M.ED and Mollie Bennett

We are in the final days of September as this article is submitted. So let’s see…kids back to school?…check. Some sort of a system and schedule in place for extra curricular activities?…at least half a check. So can we take a breath and get to know our new driving routes, before being lured off the road to buy Halloween costumes, turkey roasters, and Hanukkah napkins?

Not likely. The unrelenting marketing madness has begun, and it can make us feel like we’ve fallen behind, we will never get it all done, and we will always be out of balance. Add the anticipation of out-of-town guests or long travel days, financial constraints, and family drama, and ho ho NO , the bells don’t sound quite so jingly. Ideally, this out-of-sorts feeling is not the way we want to start the season.

While we may never be totally immune to the pressures surrounding the holiday rush, if we remember 3 simple yogic principles for balancing in a tree pose, and apply them to checking in with ourselves this holiday season, we may be surprised at how clear and connected we may become to our own values and to what truly brings us joy this time of year.


In order to balance physically, we start by setting a strong foundation in our feet, rooting them in the ground, which establishes and supports the rest of our body from our legs, on up. To establish our foundation during the holiday season, start by asking yourself, “What are the foundations, roots, and traditions for the holidays that are firm and that I want to remain strong?” “Are there some simpler ways that I may have celebrated the holidays in my early life that I want to reestablish with my family now?” These types of questions can really help you stay grounded, mellow everything out, downplay the commercialization and “up” play the quality time and creativity. Plus, very often, children are fascinated by something they know mom or dad did as a child. So break out those felt and sequin ornaments from when you were the 3rd grader!


To find our center to balance physically, we work to engage the strongest part of our body–our core- -for added strength and power. To find your center during the holiday season, ask yourself, “What do I know to be true for my life/my family at this time of year?” When focusing on our center or truth, it’s important to tap into the values and traditions you’d like to continue with your family, while gently letting go of the ones that don’t work. Taking time to reflect on your truths may bring up a variety of thoughts and feelings, because we know that not all family and holiday memories may be positive ones. Setting boundaries, while sometimes difficult, can be the difference between sanity and insanity at this time of year. Not every party needs to be attended, not every acquaintance needs to receive a perfectly wrapped gift, and not every need of your high maintenance cousin needs to be catered to! Remember that we are in charge of shaping this experience for our families now, and sometimes owning that can be difficult.


Finding our focus when we balance physically, means finding an immovable point or spot beyond us in which to hold and steady our gaze. To find and keep our focus this holiday season, envision the end goal or big picture by asking, “What do I want my family to remember about their holiday seasons in our home? If you were a bird, flying over your holiday “tree”, what would you see now, and what would you like to see? Start making small changes based on that higher viewpoint. No rush or pressure, you’re just gradually creating what you envision for your family.

Finally, here are a few concrete ideas to think about for maintaining balance during the holidays:

If your children are chomping at the bit for the newest toys and video games they are already seeing advertised, then why not start that wish list nice and early? They can edit for a while, working out the urgency they feel for each thing they see, and deciding what they want the most. It will help you spend your hard-earned money as effectively as possible.

Eating, cooking together, sharing family recipes, and any activity surrounding food is such a great way to bridge the age gaps. A low tech and tactile experience like a cookie making party (with as many generations as possible in attendance) makes for wonderful memories and natural learning opportunities.

Forgo the impeccably wrapped presents. Choose one or two basic papers or gift bags, and one or two coordinating ribbons, and let your kids go at it. The perfectionist in us may cringe a bit at the results, but honestly, we all know Grandma will love their creations much more!

So when the holiday frenzy starts to bombard you, remember that you can always focus back on the three fundamental elements of balance – your roots, your trunk, and your higher view of your family holiday tree. We hope this will help you clarify and create what is most important to you this season.

Joyful balance to you and yours!

Holiday Tamale

by Kenia Cueto

Can you imagine this coming holiday without your family’s traditional dish? Some would say the special occasion would lose much of its significance without the meal. Whether traditional meal items carry a religious or traditional mean- ing, foods tend to elevate the occasion to another level of significance. As music changes the ambiance of an event, so does food. Aromatic flavors travel throughout the house during the preparation stages telling us our special holiday is here. The process of diligently following the recipe is also critical in order to keep with tradition. For the sake of tradition, cultural or religious meaning, the taste must remain the same. One thing for certain, changing the recipe or neglect- ing to make your traditional dish will put you in “hot water”.

Universal traditional holiday recipes could be traced back generations while others follow more of a cultural trail. One great example is the Mexican Tamale. While the tamale is a traditional Mexican holiday menu item, it also includes distinct ingredients carried through family recipes. Abuelita’s tamales may not taste good to Johnny down the street because he is used to his own abuelita’s tamale recipe.

Aside from its provincial nuances in tastes and traditional making techniques, the tamale has evolved. With the advent of the Food Channel and Food Network shows the likes of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, Chopped, Urban Rajah and Barefoot Contessa, new recent trends have given way to creative organic, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free recipes. For example, substituting olive oil or canola oils instead of using lard and adding roasted peppers, carrots, spinach and or cheese have excited even the most skeptical of eaters. Fusion of cultural tastes has also created unique diverse flavors. Adding sofrito, a Caribbean and Latin American sauce of tomatoes, chopped onions, peppers, garlic, and herbs into the filling welcomes multiethnic pride to the table. With California’s multicultural population and fusion of culinary dishes, the tamale is no longer exclusive to the Latino community, it has found its way across the U.S. border and welcomed into the homes of families from all over the world.

2 large roasting chickens
2 large onions
Salt to taste
8-10 garlic cloves
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped carrots

Water enough to cover chicken Cut, skin, and rinse chicken before placing large pot. Add ingredients and bring to boil. Cover and lower to medium heat for approximately 20-30 minutes. Let cool and manually shred chicken. Place in large bowl and cover until ready to prepare. This process can be done one day before the party. If you decide to cook one family pack, cut the recipe in half.


2 large onions
5-6 crushed garlic cloves (to taste)
1 chopped green bell peppers
2 chopped yellow or orange
bell peppers
1 1/2- teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon oregano
salt to taste
1/4 cup olive oil (enough to lightly cover the pan)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, bell peppers oregano and cumin. Stir until vegetables are tender, 5-6 minutes. Add crushed garlic and stir for 1-2 minutes. If you do not have a large enough pan, divide the recipe in half.


Once the sofrito is complete, add the shredded chicken and mix in the large skillet for approximately 2-3 minutes. If you feel there is too much sofrito, leave some out.

Place in a large bowl. Cool for 1 hour then refrigerate. Do this the day of or the day before the TAMALADA. Note: This filling could also be used for tacos, burritos or enchiladas.


15 large dried chilies (such as Anaheim, New Mexico, California, or pasilla)
4 -5 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
salt to taste
Chicken broth from boiled chicken (enough to cover chiles)

Use rubber gloves to remove stems and seeds from the chile pods. Place chiles in a saucepan with 2 cups of water, garlic, cumin and salt to taste. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, then remove from heat to cool. Transfer the chiles and to a blender and add chicken or pork broth and blend until smooth. Strain the mixture, stir in salt, and set aside. Shred the cooked meat and mix in enough to add color to your meat. Add chili sauce to your masa to give it a rich orange color. This gives the masa an added rich flavor.


2-3 large bags of corn husks (Latin super market)
5-6 lbs of “masa preparada” (prepared masa with lard) from local Mexican market

Soak the corn husks in kitchen sink full of warm water for about and hour.

Spread the dough thinly and evenly over the entire bottom 3/4 of the corn husks with a small spatula, spreader or spoon. Place 1-2 tablespoons of the meat or cheese filling into the center. Fold the sides of the husks in toward the center and place in a steamer. Steam for 1 to 1 1/2 hours depending on the amount of tamales you will be steaming.

Remove tamales from husks. Top with sour cream and salsa and serve with rice and beans.

Recommended YouTube Tips for Basics on How to Make Tamales: Homemade-Tamales/


1 lbs. pinto beans
1 Tbs. salt or to taste
3-4 large fresh garlic whole cloves
1 medium yellow or white onion (cut in fourths)
1/2 cup of freshly graded Monterrey cheese
1/4 cup of Corn or Canola oil

First Step: Double rinse the beans in colander. Place beans in large pot and add enough water to cover beans by about 2 inches. Add salt, whole garlic and onion and allow boiling in high heat. Once at a vigorous boil, make sure 2 inches of water remains in pot. If not, add more water and wait for boil. Lower heat to medium low or low and cover. The water should be slowing boiling. *You MUST check the beans every 15-20 minutes to make sure there is enough water. Keep on adding water to the 2” mark until beans are soft.

Second Step: Add oil in large frying pan. Make sure pan is covered with oil. Allow to heat before placing half or less of the amount of beans and liquid from your pot. *Be very careful, oil will begin to splatter when hot. Allow to boil briefly then lower heat to low. Add cheese and stir periodically. Watch beans thicken in consistency. Add water from pot if too dry. Once the consistency looks creamy (about 5-10 minutes) begin to mash beans with potatoes masher. Serve immediately.

Note: All ingredients are approximated amounts. Please feel free to add more or less to your recipe.

Beans can be store shelved for years making the beans hard and old. When purchasing beans make sure to go to a Latino market or a specialty store such as Whole Foods. For better freshness, purchase beans from bins instead of packages.

If feeling a bit wild, fry bacon and use oil for a great different taste. Want to get hot? Add one sliced jalapeno to the mix.

Ashley Arn

by Dr. Ashley Arn, PsyD

The holidays can be an amazing time for relationships… and simultaneously a disastrous time as well! Some of us moms relish in the idea of family time, while others would prefer to get away to Hawaii. Family get-togethers can quickly become intense, hostile, and overwhelming if you and your partner are on different pages about the holidays.

One of the most important issues to address first is the topic of family traditions. Many couples struggle each year with the age-old dilemma of whose family they should see on which day, when, and how. Sometimes just the idea of managing the holidays can feel so overwhelming that we quickly prefer to just hibernate and pretend like they will never come. I have literally seen these types of arguments result in all kinds of hurt feelings and sometimes even long-term wars between family members.

The holidays can be such an amazing time to connect with your family and create memories that will last a lifetime. The secret to holiday bliss is staying connected to your partner, regardless of the inevitable ups and downs that will likely ensue. By just simply putting a couple of small steps into place, you can easily stay connected to your main squeeze throughout the holiday season.

Here are some ways to ensure that you and your partner can enjoy the holidays together and make them as special for your family as possible.

Step #1 Acknowledge & accept each other’s values

Many people differ in terms of the importance of family traditions. There are those that want to celebrate the holidays just like they did as a kid. There are also people who want to create their own traditions with their new family unit. Implementing new and old traditions in your family can be the perfect solution. Have you ever sat down and talked with your partner (not argued) so that you could really understand what pieces of the holidays are the most important to them? It’s worth a conversation. Arguments, specifically surrounding family traditions, usually happen when we try to meet our partner’s needs in the way that we get our own needs met. Basically, this means that we assume that our partner wants just what we want and that’s what makes them feel good. However, especially when it comes to family traditions, it is essential to really understand what values are important to you and your partner so that each person can get their holiday needs met.

I hear many couples say “The holidays are all about the kids.” Well, yes and no. Both parents being happy in their intimate relationship is the cornerstone of a happy family. If you and your partner are distant or arguing, the entire family feels the tension. In order for you to have a memorable holiday experience, you and your partner have to be on the same page.

The type of conversation that I am suggesting can be very simple. Plan ahead. As soon as you read this article, ask your partner when the two of you can sit down for a quick chat about how you would like the holidays to go.

During this meeting, you can ask these questions:

  • “What are the most important parts of the holidays for you?”
  • “What would you like the holidays to look like?”(as in spending time with who, when, and where)
  • “How can we make sure that we have some time alone with just our family (you, me, and the kids) and how can we make that special?”
  • “What time can we set aside just for you and I?” I am suggesting that you prioritize

I am suggesting that you prioritize your immediate family, but I am also aware that of course you are going to want to do your best to keep both partners extended families happy as well. Melding the values of different generations can be complicated. Parents, grandparents, and other family members often seem to want something far different than what feels important to us. Sometimes it feels so hopeless that we quickly end up giving into to certain family traditions even though we dread the event and then end up having a bad attitude the whole time we are there.

Start by appreciating and accepting differences between the generations. This will set the tone for a renegotiation of what is important in the present.

Once you have determined how both of you would like the holidays to go, strategize a plan and work together to do your best to make sure your plan happens. At the same time, it is also important to be realistic and flexible. As long as you are both doing your best to meet one another’s needs in the way you agreed upon, it will be much easier to work together as a team through any obstacles that come up throughout the holiday season.

Step #2 Emotionally connect no matter where you are

Acknowledging reality, you may end up in a boring situation together over the holidays. When things may feel a little stressful or boring, you can still maximize your connection with each other. Take a moment here or there to share a laugh about something funny or to flirt a little.

I know that I am always harping on the awesomeness of text messages, but when you are in a non-ideal holiday situation, you can really use text messages to your advantage.

You can text your partner something romantic, funny, what you wish the two of you could be doing, or simply just a text of appreciation. This can also be a great opportunity to make your partner feel special when you are in a crowded room of people.

The fact that the text message is just between the two of you makes it a secret, which creates an instant emotional connection.

However, if text messages aren’t your thing, you can always make up a random excuse to pull your partner aside, give them a quick kiss, embrace, or whisper a sweet nothing. Staying emotionally connected will continue to fuel the love and passion in your relationship.

Step #3 Practice mom-care

In addition to making sure you set aside time together, it is also essential that you practice mom balance. Self- care is critical through the holidays and will keep you the healthiest possible. Take a couple of minutes now to think about what truly makes you feel good and relaxed. Maybe it’s getting up before everyone else and having a cup of coffee and a little alone time (I know that is one of my favorites!). Maybe it means setting aside time for a workout. Don’t give into the hype of what helps other people relax, genuinely focus on what makes you feel good. If you just add “self-care” exercises that other people suggest to your to-do list you will just end up more stressed out. Setting aside even five minutes a day to rock out to your favorite music, take some deep breaths, or focus on what you are grateful for will help keep you calm and focused.

These three simple steps are a recipe for holiday success!

I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season!

by Monick Halm

The most important factor for making, having, and growing money has nothing to do with techniques or know-how. Your money mindset has the biggest influence on your finances. In other words, how you think about money is the biggest determinant of how you create and treat the money you have.

The money lessons that you receive as a child often dictate your money mindset (for better or for ill). As a mom, it’s particularly important for ourselves and for our children to have the healthiest money mindset possible.

The lessons I learned from my mom around money were: “Money is very stressful to deal with.” “If you have a good job, you’ll be fine. That’s all you need to know about money” “Money is for spend- ing, and so are credit cards.” I never heard mention of saving or investing.

So I worked hard and went to great schools and got a very high-paying job as a law firm lawyer. I made lots of money, but because I believed that “money was so stressful to deal with” I avoided dealing with it. I left my mail unopened and typically would not pay a bill until I received notice of a late fee. Despite my nice six-figure salary, I managed to spend every penny and then some. I was living paycheck
to paycheck and carried debt. My financial life was a mess.

At one point I spent $600 on a financial planner to help me get organized. He made me a binder with lots of beautiful and colorful charts showing where my money was currently going and where it would go if I started saving and investing. He did nothing to work on my mindset. This binder collected dust in my office. With my mindset as it was, I could not stick to my budget or manage to pay my bills on time.

When I got engaged I decided that I didn’t want to bring my financial issues into my marriage. Money problems are one of the main killers of marriages and I knew my money habits were a problem. So, I started to study and take courses in finances. I got many skills, but still could not get myself to follow through on what I now knew I “should” be doing. It was only when I got pregnant with my daughter and studied to become a money mastery coach, that I realized that I had to deal with my mindset. The work I have done has shifted things tremendously for me.

Now I want to share with you 5 things I learned that you can do today to create a more prosperous money mindset.

Recognize and challenge your limiting beliefs about money: Take a minute and close your eyes. What phrases come to mind when you think about money. What did you learn as a child about money? Write these beliefs down in your journal. Some of the things you wrote down may have been “money is the root of all evil”, “Money doesn’t grow on trees”, “Money cannot buy happiness”, and “Time is money”. These are probably the most common. Is this how you think about money?

If so, you are limiting your ability to easily receive money and to have a more positive experience with money. Know that the beliefs you wrote down are not necessarily true. Be willing to challenge and relief beliefs that do not seem to be serving you.

Visualize yourself in a most abundant life: Your brain thinks in pictures; it doesn’t know the difference between imagined thoughts and what you are seeing. The same parts of your brain light up when you are imagining as when you are actually seeing/ experiencing something. When it sees it, it will work to make it come true. Visualize yourself with $1 billion. What will you do with it? How would it feel? Get into the feeling place of it being done. Really put yourself in the shoes of your billionaire self. How would this person look, feel and think? What advice would your billionaire self give you? If any anxieties come up when you think about this amount of money – go back to Step 1. Those are your limiting beliefs showing up.

Pay attention to your money in a pleasureable way, and make that time of interaction an honored and sacred interaction. Have a weekly money date (or more if you’re called to). Start by keeping your receipts in your wallet along with a few index cards. Once a week (or more if you are a big spender :) set aside 5 minutes. Find a quiet place. Light some candles and incense. Pour a cup of your favorite tea or a decadent hot chocolate. Take some deep breaths, relax, and then list out on an index card everything you spent your money on this week. Next take your bills and pay with love, joy and gratitude. Be grateful that your creditors trust you to pay. I write as I pay or receive any money “This money is but a symbol of the inexhaustible supply of the Universe. I give thanks that 10x10x that much is now on its way to me and manifests quickly in perfect ways.” Any interaction with money (receiving or spending) is an ability to grow more abundant in your mindset. Pay attention to your money in a pleasureable way, and make that time of interaction an honored and sacred space. Afford money the love and respect that it deserves, and it will love you back.

Rejoice in others’ good fortune. If you think of wealthy people as THEM or you see someone have something you want and are jealous, then you are blocking money from coming to you the way you want. If you find that someone has something you want (material or otherwise), say “Hurray! This is showing up in my experience because it’s coming for me too!” This is an abundant and limitless universe, no one can take your good. Our Universe is not a pie with limited pieces. When we receive, the pie gets bigger. There is no lack of resources, just lack of resourcefulness. When someone else receives, look at the ways in which they are being resourceful to do so. You will learn from them and open yourself up to more.

Recognize your prosperity/be grateful – we so often focus on what we lack that we fail to take note of how much we already have. What you appreciate and focus on, appreciates. I engage in a nightly gratitude list. Focus on what you have to be grateful for monetarily (from that penny you found on the street to your job to the money in your savings account). Also, be grateful for all the things you have that money can’t buy. I for one and going to write down tonight that I’m so grateful for you and that I was able to share this information with this amazing audience of moms.

About the Guest Author:

Monick HalmMonick Halm is certified Money Mastery Coach, Holistic Angel Coach, NLP coach, educator, best-selling author, Reiki Master, artist, and speaker.    Monick helps mid-career professional women thrive in every area of their lives. Monick is the creator of the Money Alchemy coaching group, an innovative & experiential six-session coaching workshop designed to transform women’s relationship with money and release their limiting beliefs, so they can experience greater financial ease and mastery. Find out more at