Growth through Change- The #5 Things I Learned in 2015

It’s been a year since the start of my blog and shared my 2015 Resolution goals. It’s been a truly eye opening year! Many goals were accomplished, but along the way I learned some things about myself. I was reminded about my inner strength and perseverance, but also had many old fears and insecurities rear their ugly head; leading to a fulfilling yet, emotionally challenging year.

Setting goals and publicly striving for more, it leads to growth and discovery. Here are the top things I learned in 2015!

#1- The Importance of Setting Goals and Making a Planning

If you’ve heard the saying, “Failing to plan, is planning to fail,” it is incredibly true. I had many goals I wanted to accomplish over the year; fitness goals, personal relationship goals, and organization goals. Many were accomplished, but many were not…. At the start of the year I made a monthly calendar that included all of my “To Do’s,” but I found that there really weren’t enough hours in the day (with 3 children to care for) to get to everything most days; so I needed to prioritize. At first I was discouraged when I wasn’t be able to get to everything, BUT I realized that having a schedule and planning when I was going to accomplish my tasks resulted in getting A LOT more done than had I not planned to begin with.

Until you get into a routine of setting goals, developing a plan and then sticking to it…. it can be overwhelming; but it’s worth the effort.

Admittedly, I slacked a bit on my organization goals. I was able to make some good progress and I will be making that a priority again this year. I was, however, able to meet my fitness goals for the year and, making date nights a priority with my husband (almost every month), was great since we had a crazy busy year!

#2- Only You have Control of YOU!

This has become my personal motto! Not just to keep myself motivated to stick to my workout schedule and nutrition plan, but also with helping me manage my anxiety issues. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that it’s a struggle I have had to deal with most of my life and I’ve wanted to share about this more, but I haven’t quite gotten up the courage to let that heavy, dark side of me out.

Simply reminding myself that ultimately only I have control of me and my life has been a huge help. Life and circumstances are something that every person needs to deal with. We can get weighed down by outside negative influences, inner struggles or a hectic busy life; or we can remember that we DO have CONTROL! Choose to be positive, choose to take action (on your own personal goals & dreams) and choose to have gratitude for the things in your life.

#3- Technology and the Need to Disconnect!

I knew this prior to starting this blog, but after spending added time on a computer, on social media and researching now forms of social media (Twitter, Instagram and so on), I was often left feeling a need to detach and disconnect! One of the reasons I decided to stay home and leave my career was because I didn’t like being at a computer all the time. Now, as a mother, in a world that is packed full of technology distractions, I have found more than ever a need to disconnect. I want to try and show my children that we shouldn’t depend on technology in our day to day lives. It offers many benefits and is a necessity in today’s day in age for school and work, BUT it is a distraction from the world and people right in front of you.

#4- I am a Private Person

The biggest discovery for me during this year was to realize that I am really a pretty private person. This surprised me and probably surprises those of you who know me well! I’m the type of person who will talk your ear off and over share at times; but I do that with my tight inner circle. Sharing my life with the world, honestly, I found it is not something I fully enjoyed. It brought out old insecurities and made my anxiety levels sky rocket; It is a pretty one-sided medium. It’s been fulfilling to share, but I don’t know if it will ever be something I love to do in this type of format. I much prefer a face to face genuine connection.

#5- Very few things in life are easy, but the things that take effort are worth it!

Setting goals and sharing my successes and failures was a challenge. Going through my own day to day struggles with anxiety and depression battles most of the year was hard. But I didn’t use them as an excuse, I used them as my reason to preserver, and I can say that I grew in many ways. It was a year of hard work, self discovery, struggles and accomplishment. It was the good, the bad, the ugly and the amazing all rolled into one! I’m glad I pushed for more and shared along the way. It was a great experience of growth through change!

Going into 2016 I have set new goals that make me feel excited, scared and totally out of my league. It will be a tough 2016, but I am going to make it another incredible year because only I have control of my success and my life.

If you want to live your best life, to be a better you (not a new you; but your best, authentic self), then I encourage you to push for more. Take on a new challenge or follow a dream. It will be hard and you’ll likely face negativity and doubt that you’ll need to power through; but making changes to live a more fulfilling life is worth it. And as I say to myself on a daily basis, “Only YOU have CONTROL of YOU!”

Until next time……Thea 🙂

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Potty Training Boot Camp- The 3 day Method!

Potty training can be a real struggle! I used this 3 day method for all of my children; they were 2&1/2, just over 2 &1/2 and my youngest just went through “Potty Training Boot Camp” two weeks ago; she will be 2 at the end of the month. Here are my tips for a successful Potty Training 3 day Boot Camp! Here are some of my tips to help your child become diaper free!

First, be sure your child is ready! Here is a link to help you determine if they are ready to lose the diaper and use the potty for good! http://www.babycenter.com/0_potty-training-readiness-checklist_4384.bc

Planning!!

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  • Clear your calendar– You will want at least 3-4 days of obligation free time to focus on your potty training mission. Going out to grocery shop, to visit friends/family, doctors appointments….leaving home to do anything will be an issue. For my second I planned during Spring Break vacation when my older one was off from school. If you are a working parent you may need/want to take a day or two off before or after a weekend, or plan with your childcare provider on handling the final days.
  • Set the date and do a “countdown”– Buy some big kid under pants and do a countdown the week before. In the morning say, “5 more days and you will be wearing your new Frozen or Cars underwear like a big boy/girl!” This gets them thinking about it and excited for the change.
  • Commit FULLY! You need to be prepared to stick with it 100%! If you put them in underpants for a day or two then go back to diapers it will get harder and harder to get them to want to wear underpants all the time. This can be HARD! With my son (my second to be potty trained) the first night he needed to go #2 and he kept trying to stand up. They aren’t used to sitting all the time when they go #2, and I kept helping him sit. This turned into him getting hysterical, crying for a diaper, not understanding, and me questioning myself and crying along with him. I gently pushed him to sit as he finally went! I had worried I may have scarred him for life not giving in, but when he saw that he had gone, he clapped and cheered that he was a “big boy and went poo on the potty!” Stay strong but be calm and comforting.

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  • Be prepared for the mess!
    1. The first day they are likely going to pee all over themselves. They are learning to control their bladder; they will not have any idea how to stop at first. That is what you will be helping them learn over the next several days.
    2. Have a mop, bucket and disinfecting floor cleaner. I typically put in scolding hot water with cleaner and left it in the first floor bathroom tub for a few hours at a time, then replaced as needed.
    3. If you have carpet, I recommend borrowing or renting a carpet cleaner, if you don’t own one. (On a side note, owning a carpet cleaner has been a must have with 3 kids and animals). If you have areas that are only tile or hardwood, try to use only those spaces as much as possible to avoid the carpet mess.
  • Be present and aware– You can’t be emailing, distracted by TV, in another room and so on. You NEED to be with your little one learning their queues and helping them to understand when to get to the potty. Timing is everything! My youngest just went through this training and she didn’t say much when she had to go. She would take a quick breath, raise her eye brows and look for me. If I wasn’t right there, she would have kept having accidents. These are the teachable moments. When she gave this queue I said, “Potty! Run, run, run!” And we would run together and I would congratulate her on a good job.

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  • Most Importantly, ONLY give praise and acknowledge for positive and do not scold them for accident for at least 3-4 days. This is so, SOOOO important!! They are not going to understand at first and how you react will make a huge difference in how they take to the training. For example; on day one when your little one starts crying or gets upset because they went to the bathroom all over themselves, tell them, “It’s ok. Next time run to the potty when it starts coming out.” You may need to mop a trail to the bathroom the next time, but they will start to know to get to the bathroom.

Training:

Ok! It’s time to do this! (Make sure you talked a lot the night before about the excitement of wearing underpants the next day on the Eve of training. Get them pumped about it!

Day one:

  • In the AM remind them that they will be a big boy/girl from now on and will be going on the potty. Show them again where it is and have them sit down to get comfortable as soon as they get up. From there I set a timer for every 20 minutes and they needed to sit and “try.” The first day they might not go at all during those times, but it is setting a routine.
  • If they have an accident, encourage them to run to the bathroom and sit and then continue to set the timer again. Often times if they have an “accident,” they will start stopping the flow of urine and may need to go more. Having them sit right away will help them learn to control their bladder and empty it fully when they sit.
  • **I recommend having them wear just a t-shirt and underpants the first 3 days.**

Day Two:

  • Repeat day one. At this point they should be learning that they have to go. Keep an eye out for the queues that they need to and encourage them sit on the potty.
  • Recognize all new accomplishments!! For all my kids once they started actually going on the potty we would cheer, give a high five and I would have them flush and say, “Goodbye tinkle!” All three of them thought it was the greatest and got excited to use the potty and then flush and wash hands like a big kid.

Day Three:

  • Try to stop using the timer if you still are. They should know now when they have to go. Ask them instead. This way they have to think about it and answer instead of automatically just trying.
  • On day 3 I typically found they were able to get to the bathroom and sit, but they often times had a little bit of an accident on the way, but not totally soaked themselves. Keep MANY pairs of clean underpants handy!! And remember to only use words of encouragement. Around this day I would say, “Great job! You’re being such a big boy/girl. Next time try to get to the potty a little sooner and your underpants won’t get any mess.”

Day Four and on:

  • I took their lead based on body language/queues from this point on. All 3 of my kids were pretty much accident free (minus a few early releases that required just a change of underpants, but pants were clean) from around days 6 an on. Yes, they still had them sometimes but it wasn’t frequent.
  • Keep encouraging all progress and be patient. The first day I took my youngest to the grocery store (Day 9) she needed to go to the bathroom twice. Fun times!

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You can totally do this! They can totally do this! Now plan, execute and have a good supply of wine available to help you through! 😉

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Until next time……Thea 🙂

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Back to School Blues!

It’s back to school tomorrow for my big girl Piece’s, UPK for Mr. Man AND Mr. Man turns 4! Big day all around and I have to say I am excited for them, but so heavy-hearted….. I know so many parents are excited to get their kids back to school and I am excited that we can get back into more of a routine AND I’ll be able to do some of the “must do” projects I couldn’t get to in the summer! But I just can’t help feeling so emotional….!

2015 kids summer collage

The start of a new school year and birthdays marking another year passing always make me sad! I’m not sure why but all of my kids birthdays I feel a little sad and emotional because all the clichés about parenting are true. ” The years fly by,” “Cherish the time when they are little. They grow up to fast!” You’ve heard them; and they are right on! My favorite, after a fun but tiring summer, is “The days are long, but the years fly by.” I feel that way today after enjoying hours in the pool, long spontaneous visits to the Zoo, play dates and park visits. We filled our summer!  it was a great one and it went by in a blink. There were things we didn’t do on our summer bucket list, there were wasted days watching TV when it rained instead of going to a museum.  I realize the joy of just being together and doing nothing was just as enjoyable to my little ones, so I focused on relaxing right along with them. But now it’s time to get excited about what this new school year will bring and not just for my kiddos. My focus on organization really needs to get back on track, along with my workouts (which are a focus but also a need for sanity purposes) AND I’m going to be working part-time so there are many new and exciting changes for not only the kids but also for me to look forward to.

I’ll keep in mind the countless hours of watching them use their imaginations by making forts and creating story lines to act out, playing in the playhouse, swimming and laughing uncontrollably for no reason; I’ll hold on to those memories and feel complete with the summer we enjoyed!

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Here’s to a new school year, relishing in the memories you’ve created and looking forward to what is to come! I’ll be thinking of all you moms out there as you go through the same! XOXO

Until next time…Thea

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Mom Brain!

People talk a lot about pregnancy brain and it’s something that I’ve definitely experienced. I used to have an incredible memory and now most days I’m lucky if I remember just the daily tasks. The thing I have discovered about pregnancy brain is that once you have children it turns into MOM BRAIN! As a mom we all have a lot to remember! We are typically the organizer of our home. We care for our children, our husband (obviously) and lastly, ourselves! For our kids we feed them, bath them, and for me, with a Kindergartener and Preschooler I need to get them to school & remember what is needed for school….oh and did they even brush their teeth this morning? They did right…..? Or am I remembering yesterday morning? Not sure, I have mom brain!

Lately, it’s been getting a bit excessive. I’ve run into people I grew up with and I barely remember them. It’s as if my brain has become too full of memories that it is now replacing old ones for new ones. With the end of the year events and to do’s; field trips, dance recitals, registration for summer programs, and planning/completing of stuff! Its fries my brain and left me in a haze…..

Brain silent treatment

More often I have also been forgetting myself. For example; I’ve left the house without brushing my teeth to take my son to preschool. That is the one main thing I don’t do! I’ve loosened up on my make-up standards but brushing my teeth is a must. I also was rushed all morning the day of my daughters dance recital that once we got there I noticed I hadn’t changed out of my jeans and t-shirt. I wasn’t going to be super dressy, but black capri’s and a nice shirt would have been much better! OH, and last week I left my front door open when I drove Piece’s to the bus stop!!

I can’t change those things and really they aren’t a huge deal, but this constant haze from my mom brain has made me feel socially awkward at times. I say things that don’t even make sense, or that are unintentionally hurtful to others. It’s so frustrating! I hope that my friends and family are forgiving. I know that they appreciate me for who I am, and they know I mean well, but I’m getting annoyed at myself for my complete lack of brain function! I feel like I spend most days with this half blank stare, half look of confusion!

Confusion pic

If someone has any advice on how to combat this please let me know. I sat down to write this post and realized I needed to check our bank account. That lead to a couple minutes on our online account, to wondering why I got on the computer, to checking my email and finally leaving my desk. By the time I got to the kitchen my thought process came back to me and I returned to the computer. Oh the joys! I feel like I walk in circles sometimes recounting my last steps to see if I’ll remember one of the 100 things I try to get done in a day.

I know I’m not alone. I know that many of you moms out there are also struggling with Mom Brain in some shape or form, so I thought I would write this post to give you some comfort. And maybe a little bit to explain myself to some of those individuals in my life who may think I’ve lost it.  So if I’ve forgotten who you are or said something hurtful; I want to say I’m genuinely sorry! Please be forgiving with me; I’m suffering from a pretty bad case of MOM BRAIN!!

Until next time… Thea

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A Dance Recital through Layers of Tears

My oldest daughter, Miss Piece’s, had her first dance recital Sunday. She joined the group late in January and is the youngest in the class; it is a 6&7 year old class and she’s only 5&1/2.

After trying soccer last fall I was nervous about how she would do on stage; if she would get nervous and freeze, or if she had grown beyond her nerves. When she started soccer it was half practice, half full game play, and she was overwhelmed and intimidated from the start. She ran around in the direction of the ball, but would freeze once it came close to her, letting the other kids kick it without even trying. It was heartbreaking to see her struggle with her confidence and ask to stop playing. I’ll add my husband and I love soccer! We both still play as adults on leagues weekly. Yes, maybe I wanted her to love the sport as well, but what I wanted most of all was for her to have the confidence and competitive spirit her father and I both share.

We discussed other activities and she said she wanted to try dance. We did a 2 week trial and luckily she LOVED it! She put on her tap shoes to “practice” for days after her first class. My heart melts thinking about her dancing around giggling and smiling ear to ear!

Sunday we rushed to get her dressed and makeup applied, gasp!! Remember I’m a soccer player, I love my makeup but at 5 years old, I didn’t like that part very much. Well, we got her dolled up and rushed there with the WHOLE family in tow. Not only did I have nerves about how Piece’s would do but I also had huge nerves wondering how her younger brother, Mr. Man (3 &1/2), and Miss T. (18 months), would do for 3 HOURS! So, I packed tons of snacks for the younger two and brought Miss T’s stroller, hoping and praying she would fall asleep for at least a little while being her nap time. I dropped Piece’s off with her dance group and kissed her good luck….leaving with a few tears welling in my eyes; my first layer of ears.

Reese before

I met up with my husband and two younger children as my Mom and Grandma got there. I see them dressed nicely and realize in all my hustle and bustle I forgot to change out of my jeans and t-shirt. Mom brain at its finest! I worried about that for a little while, probably as a distraction just to stop worrying about everything else. So we sit and it starts! I relax briefly as dance number 9 is coming, her first dance of two.

I was impressed with how smoothly the show went rotating between dance, piano and voice performances. Mr. Man and Miss T were doing well, enjoying the performances clapping and being amazingly quiet. I was relieved and hoped it would continue. Than it came, 6&7 tap…..my heart pounding probably harder than my Miss Piece’s! The music started, she smiled and she started dancing!!! My second layer of tears well and dripping down my cheek as I feel pride for her bravery and joy from her smile; she was dancing and having fun…she was doing it!

Phew, so we had made it through the first performance; Miss Piece’s and her siblings holding it together. Now we just needed to make it past intermission and her second performance. Luckily, Miss T fell asleep in daddy’s arms for the remainder of the first half and Mr. Man, though a little squirmy, was enjoying the show and speaking quietly. I had prepared myself for a VERY stressful time with them and I was pleasantly surprised at their excellent behavior.

At intermission we took a break, went to the bathroom, changed Miss T and all had a snack. I sat there feeling relief that it was almost over. I hope I’m not alone with my feelings of excitement and relieve when it comes to my children’s activities. I love that they want to participate in activities, I loved doing so as a child, but everything that goes into it and the busy schedules, it’s exhausting sometimes and I’ve been ready for the lazy days of summer to come.

We returned to the auditorium and Mr. Man started asking when he was going to see Piece’s again. He told me he was still hungry and thirsty and no food was allowed so I hoped he would just make it through her final dance. He surprised me again by sitting still, whispering with questions and quieting when I told him it’s polite to be quiet during performances. Piece’s came out to do her final number, 6/7 Ballet. Miss T. and Mr. Man smiled and clapped and yelled, “Good job Pieces!” My final layer of tears well and roll down my cheeks. I felt relief that Pieces did it, our younger two were complete rock stars; I thought to myself that we must be doing something right! They were all growing and thriving. Sure maybe I wore jeans and a t-shirt but did it matter? No! Everything that mattered was beyond great and as close to perfect as you could get!

Reese recital Collage

Until next time… Thea

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10 Way Not to “Lose Yourself” in Motherhood

It’s so common to lose yourself once you become a Mom. You spend a majority of your time caring for your children, caring for your spouse, cooking; cleaning….the list goes on! So it makes sense that during that time you can start to lose yourself a little when you’re rarely putting yourself or your needs first. So here are a few things I do to hold on to the person I once was, the person I am and the person I want to continue to be.

1) Keep your Hobbies– Before I had my first many people told me I was going to need to quit my hobby of playing sports. I was playing on 2-4 recreational soccer leagues a week and softball in the summers. Clearly, I was going to need to cut back but why would I need to stop playing all together? I felt like I got flack from people when I was insistent I was going to go back after the baby arrived. It’s something I LOVE to do! It keeps me active, I see my friends, and play with my sisters. Oh and it’s a great stress reliever as well. I’ve continued to play, usually only once a week for soccer and I’ve kept summer softball, which I play with my husband on a co-ed league. It’s been great to get out 1-2 times a week and it’s helped me to continue to feel like the same person I have always been! Whatever your hobby is, reading, writing, gardening, scrapbooking or exercise; I encourage you to keep making just a little bit of time to do those things

2) Curse– I used to have a bit of a potty mouth. I am now reformed since I am with my children basically 24/7. But when I’m out with adults sometimes it feels good not to have to worry about what I say! Tossing out an F bomb or a Holy S***, somehow becomes relaxing and refreshing!

3) Lean on your Spouse– If there is anyone that truly knows you, it’s your spouse. They’ve known you before, during and after children. They are your partner in everything; your supporter, confidante, champion, and your love. Talk to them about anything and everything. Lean on them and it will help you keep centered.

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4) Stop Worrying About what Other People Think! I used to want for people to like me. I still do in some ways because I try to be a kind and thoughtful person; and I genuinely care. But spending time trying to please others just ends up making you try to be someone you’re not. So stop worrying about others and focus on you! You’re got enough to worry about supporting your children and husband.

5) Be Ridiculous! In the summer I like to roll the windows down, with the wind blowing in my hair, sunglasses on, jamming to some tune that is now considered “Classic Rock,” and sing my heart out! Sometimes, I try to convince myself that I am super cool while doing this! It takes me back to a time when I was young and carefree; a version of myself that I think of fondly. Bring that girl of the past out sometimes, even if you’re alone and there’s no one to see her. Keep her present!

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6) Keep having Sex! Yes, I went there! I tell people being a mom is the most amazing and exhausting thing I have ever experienced. Well, the exhaustion part for parents can really put a damper on the lovin! I can’t tell you how many couples I know who are rarely having sex. Remember before you had kids when sex didn’t take the effort? Well, those days are likely gone, but the effort is worth it! Make the effort, make the time. The connection with your spouse, the stress relief, the link to that once carefree sexual person; it will keep you feeling like YOU!

7) Have a Cocktail– As a mom you are always “on.” At any age there are little eyes always watching, observing and learning from you. Give yourself a break and have a drink everyone once in a while. Hell, make plans to go out a couple of times a year to really let loose. Going out on the town with some girlfriends to drink and dance the night away…. that keeps me in touch with my love to have fun self!

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8) Take Time for Yourself- This is the HARDEST thing for any mom to do; working, SAHM, it doesn’t matter. We ALL love our kids and want the best for them and taking time away from them is hard. Go for a massage, take a bath, or even a 30 minute drive to Dunkin Donuts to sip coffee alone and check Facebook. That little bit of time can be rejuvenating and all you need to recharge.

9) Exercise– Who are we kidding ladies, our bodies change after children in many way. Even if you have never been someone who exercised, working on your body will help you keep respect and appreciation for it. Your body may never be the same again but loving and accepting it will make you feel comfortable and confident. The added perk with this is setting a good example for your children. When I run on the weekends my oldest always wants to run with me. After I get back we always go on our own little run just the two of us!

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10) Never Give up and Keep Dreaming! The reality is that as the years go on our children will need us less and less. Someday they will be grown with families of their own. I know that I’ll always need my parents love and support. I need it now still as an adult, but I don’t depend on them like I did when I was a young child. We are living our lives now! So don’t give up on some of the things you love to do, want to do or dream of doing. Keep a notebook, make a bucket list! Just never give up and keep on dreaming!

Doing these things has helped me keep myself during these early, demanding years or motherhood. Well, mostly anyway! And that in turn is helping me be the best Mom I can be to my three beautiful children!

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Until next time….Thea 🙂

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Ultimately, I really just want my kids to be nice!

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There are many things I want for my children. I want them to be happy, confident, successful, hardworking….the list goes on! But more and more I am realizing, the #1 quality I want my children to possess, is kindness.

I feel like in our society today, being nice is so under appreciated. This is a generalization, but I feel like our society is focused on getting ahead, parents want to give their kids a “better life” than they had growing up, and our children have a sense of entitlement. The most basic expectations we had as children, please and thank you’s, seem to be a rarity with the children of today. Let alone, general kindness to others. Bullying is a norm for young children to deal with in schools, on the bus, at the playground…..where has our sense of compassion gone? I’m not sure if it’s because there are more distractions with technology today, for parents and children that everyone is fighting for attention; or if our society overall is just under valuing the basic benefits and value in being kind!

While growing up my Mom always told me if someone’s being rude, picking on you, don’t lower yourself to their level, just “kill’em with kindness!” It was great advice that I still use today. Now there is a point in which you have to stand up for yourself and I also learned from my parents to not stand for being disrespected; but there is a way to stand up for yourself without lowering yourself to someone else’s level.

I’ve been trying to teach my oldest, Piece’s, who is in Kindergarten, to simply call people out on their behaviors. If someone is being mean, simply tell them, “You’re not being very nice right now,” and if someone else is being mistreated to stand up for them. Sadly, I don’t think this is a common practice among young children these days….

In my personal experience and opinion, being a kind, polite person generally leads to getting kindness in return. The age-old saying of, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” is most definitely a simple and true one. Don’t get me wrong, I am not perfect; I have times where I should think more before I speak. But in general, I feel being nice has helped me be more successful in my career and has made me a better mother, wife, friend…the list goes on.

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I’m not a very religious person, but I believe in karma; I believe that the type of energy we put into the world comes back to us in that way. The more positive, polite, kind I am the more and more I will get that in return. So that is what I am trying to teach my children. And I hope more than anything that they continue to grow into strong, hardworking, confident and most importantly NICE people!

Until next time….Thea

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