Friendtastic

When was the last time you went out with a group of your girlfriends? If you have to stop and think about it, it’s been way too long.  A new study by a group of researchers from the University of Oxford, recommends that you go out with your girlfriends at least twice a week.

I’ve always been a girls girl. I love my time with my friends and I cherish my friendships. Those relationships are so important to me, I don’t think that I can live happily without them. I love talking to my girlfriends, listening to them and just connecting with them in general. It’s nice to be able to pick up the phone and share your life with someone who cares, it’s even better to see them in person. It always leaves me feeling happier.

According to the study, spending two days a week with four of your gal pals will help you recover quicker from illness, strengthen your immune system, and decrease anxiety levels. But, when the group is bigger than 5 people, funny situations that generate the necessary endorphins for happiness and well being are less probable.” says one expert. That’s why it’s recommended to meet in a group of maximum four friends.

Research shows that we women need to maintain our friendships because it increases serotonin and oxytocin. Having these close connections becomes even more important as we age. I know that whenever I go out with my friends, I always feel amazing! And a happier me means that I’m a better mom, better wife, just better overall.

So pick up your phone, call your girlfriends and plan your outing, remember, it’s good for you!

 

Essential Oils

Do you have a child that suffers from constant ear infections? Before it gets really bad try treating it holistically.
.I’ve been using essential oils to keep my family healthy for years. It has made a world of difference in our lives.


Here is what you do for children suffering with ear discomfort….

.INGREDIENTS

  • 1 drop Lavender
  • 1 drop Frankincense
  • 1 drop Tea Tree
  • 1 tablespoon carrier oil
  • Cotton Ball
DIRECTIONS
  1. In a small dish, combine the essential oils with the carrier oil. Saturate the cotton ball with the mixture.
  2. Rub essential oils around the ear and down the neck, them put the cotton ball right on the outside of your ear.
  3. Refresh the cotton ball every 30 minutes until the pain subsides and then every 4 hours for the next two days.

For Babies and Toddlers…

MASSAGE BLEND

  • 20 drops Tea Tree
  • 20 drops Thyme linalol
  • 20 drops Lavender
  • Carrier oil, warmed
  1. Combine tea tree, thyme, and lavender in a small stock bottle.
  2. To use, place a teaspoon of carrier in a small dish and add 4 drops of the blend.
  3. Massage around the ear, on the cheek, and down the neck.
  4. Follow with a warm compress.

For adults…

This blend can help to support a healthy immune response.

  • 10 drops oregano
  • 10 drops clove
  • 10 drops rosemary
  • 10 drops lemon
  • Carrier oil
  1. Place oregano, clove, rosemary and lemon in a 2 ounce stock bottle. Fill with carrier oil.
  2. Shake well to combine.
  3. Place 5 drops on the bottom of the feet ever 30 minutes until pain subsides.

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DISCLAIMER: While I do believe that natural remedies are a sage and effective way to deal with minor ear pain, it’s important that you seek medical attention should your ear ache persist. Use the holistic alternatives when you feel discomfort, if there is no improvement within a day and if the pain is acute, please seek medical attention.
These remedies have worked for my family but should not be taken as medical advice.

Winter Break

East Coast parents are getting ready to have the kids home for their winter break. While, some of us are lucky enough to take a few days away with the kids, others may have to work or just can’t afford to get away.

Here are some fun things I’ve done with my daughter when we have stayed home. It’s not so bad when you live just a few minutes away from New York City.

  • Spend a day or two in New York City, visit a Museum, see a Broadway Show or just go out for a great meal. God knows we have some of the best restaurants in the country. There are also so many amazing Museums in the city, there is so much culture and history. 
  • The Long Island Children’s Museum is such a great place to spend the day with the family. If you want to stay local, there’s a lot to see and do there. I’ve spent an entire day at the Museum with my daughter when she was younger..
  • Take your child to see a show at the John W. Engeman Theatre in Northport.  It’s Long Island’s only year-round professional theater, and you don’t have to pay a fortune to enjoy a great show with some great seats.
  • Take a family hike. it’s gorgeous on the North Shore, and it’s not too cold this year so get out and enjoy it.
  • Plan a special day with the kids. Go out to lunch, maybe it’s a good time to introduce your child to something new on the menu and then go see a movie together.
  • Take a road trip. Go anywhere, as long as you’ve never been there before, or go somewhere you always like to visit. We love going to the Mohonk Mountain House, a beautiful resort in Hudson Valley. We gone there for over twenty years.
  • Discover the neighborhoods nearby. You never know what little gem you are going to stumble upon, I’ve found lots of great places just by exploring.
  • Get out and meet up with a few of your mom friends and their kids. This is a great way for both you and your children to enjoy the day.
  • Give your kids time to do absolutely nothing. Catch up on what you have been postponing to do and just let your kids have a lazy day or two, they need a break.
  • Host a sleepover. it’s always a great time for the kids. All you need is some pizza, a bunch of board games, a karaoke machine and it’s on. Adult supervision is a must.
  • Spend quality time with your kids.  If you are working, try to take a few days off to enjoy your children. Talk to them about how they are feeling, let them ask you questions, listen to them, be present, be mindful.

Regardless of whether or not you are going away or staying home, a week with your children is a treasure. Before you know it they will grow up and we won’t have the privilege of having them with us for an entire week. There is no doubt that raising children is hard work, but it’s the biggest gift that we can ever have. So, enjoy your week together. And don’t forget to check out my new store for something beautiful for your favorite girl.

 /https://ariaandsophia.com/

 

 

Bringing smiles to children of war

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I would like to tell you about my friend David Mason and his amazing plight to bring smiles to the faces of innocent children. He has dedicated his life to helping children of War.

Unfortunately, right now, while our kids are safe and thriving, there are millions of children around the world suffering. This is happening right now, in our lifetime. Those of us who are parents can imagine the horrors that these innocent children have face. Think of what they feel and how they are able to survive.

I met David in 2003, when I was on a trip to Afghanistan, my parents homeland. I had not been there since before the war, so I was vey young. My family was in the US, when Afghanistan was invaded by Russia. My father was a diplomat in the United Nations and so, the trip in 2003, was my first time back “home”.

It was an emotional trip. Before our plane even descended, the landscape of the country took my breath away and took me back in time. Seeing the majestic mountains ignited a rush of  bitter-sweet memories.

 

My cousin Wais introduced me to David, a Danish-Iranian, in his early 30’s who had left his comfortable life in Denmark to help the Afghan children. He was inspired after 9-11. He wanted to do something good, for the most innocent of us, for our children. According to David, my cousin kind of adopted him and his dream of what is now the Afghan Mobile Mini-Circus for Children (MMCC). 

 

David, is the founder, MMCC, an educational non-profit that uses circus activities to educate and empower kids. The program also manages to bring smiles to the faces of Afghanistan’s children and promote peace in the war-torn country.

At MMCC’s flagship school in Kabul, Afghanistan, 120 children ages ten to 17, learn juggling, unicycling, acrobatics, theater, singing, puppetry and magic tricks. They then perform and conduct workshops across the country, spreading awareness about health, land mines, the importance of education, and other issues along the way.

 Most of the circus activities are led by the kids themselves.

This wonderful human being continues to spread joy and awareness with the Afghan Mobile Mini-Circus for Children (MMCC) for all these years. 

 

Now they are looking to raise money to transform the harsh winter of 900 underprivileged Afghan Children into a cheerful one. By donating, you will help ensure that the children will be safe and secure from the cold and bitterness of winter, while learning English, Computer, various Artistic, physical, Social and Life Skills while having fun.

Please take some time to log onto their site and give what you can. 

46% of the funds for Cheerful Afghan Winter for 900 underprivileged is raised, Thanks and keep Donating and Sharing please: www.globalgiving.org/projects/Cheerful-Af

ghan-Winter

 

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” -Bill Keane

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There are mornings when I wake up and the reality that I have lost both of my parents hits me hard! My heart falls into my stomach, I feel sick and so lost. To be without them always feels like a punch in the gut. It still takes my breathe away. My father is gone a year and four months, my mother passed away almost a year ago. It’s a pain that I would never want for anyone to experience, yet we all will. Some morning  I feel completely paralyzed, unable to accept that they are both gone, until I hear my 12 year-old call out to me. Her voice helps me to  refocus and be grateful for her existence.

It’s not easy to deal with loss, especially when you suffer multiple losses. Regardless of my pain, I put a smile on my face and try to begin my daughter’s day on a positive note. We chat as she gets ready, some mornings we are frantic, trying to get out the door.  After I drop her off at school, I return and often find myself unable to leave the couch.

I try to enjoy and be mindful of my first cup of coffee. It always puts a smile on my face. I thank God for my husband, who almost never leaves the house without making me coffee. That’s love.

As soon as I allow myself to feel gratitude,  my heart gets lighter. I am grateful for the people I have in my life. Today is a present.

Mindfulness

You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf.” -Jon Kabat-Zinn

The past few weeks have been difficult for my family. It was our first Thanksgiving since my parents passed away. We decided to skip it this year, it was too difficult. Instead, we sat in our pj’s and watched movies. I took some time to think of all that I had to be thankful about, there are boundless things and people whom I am thankful for. I am mostly grateful for my parents and their gifts of discipline, faith, compassion and their love of family. We will forever cherish one another because of how they raised us.

So while I mourn my parents, I also need to honor them by being the best wife, mother, sister, friend that I can be. So I sit, I reflect, I am mindful of the pain, but I’m also mindful of all they have given me. I am grateful for their love and that will never leave me.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, a mindfulness expert, uses the ancient metaphor of the ocean to describe how mindfulness works. The entirety of our mind is deep, it’s vast and intrinsically still and quiet, like the debts in the ocean. There are times in life when the waves are dangerously rough, but if we learn to sit still and get a hold of our thoughts, we can ride through the waves.

Mindfulness is a practice, it’s all about being. Mindfulness helps you find your way, it allows you to listen to your heart, listen to your own yearning. Just begin by paying attention to your mind, really get to know it, be present, so when you are stirring the pot, or washing the dishes, just do that, be mindful of it. Whatever you are doing, do it with awareness. Dive underneath your pain, your anxiety, your anger and you will find awareness capable of holding it all and knowing “this is anxiety, It’s going to be ok”. When we actually believe our negative thoughts we spiral into anxiety and depression. Change your thought pattern and you can change your entire life. When you become aware of your negative thoughts, you have power over them. Zinn says that mindfulness is the gateway into the full dimensionality of being human of being alive. Without it you miss a lot.

I try to be mindful as much as I can. I often find it easier when I walk in nature. Mindfulness is not meditation, you don’t have to sit still for a period of time in order to be mindful. It’s just the practice of being present. Try it and you will realize that you are not your thoughts, but the awareness of your thoughts. It will change your life.

You can learn more by picking up Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book Mindfulness for Beginners.

Live Life Now!

In just a second your entire life can change. Someone you love can be diagnosed with cancer, or get hit by a car. You can have an accident that can leave you disabled. Your perfect idea of a relationship can suddenly end in divorce. These are changes that can leave you filled with anxiety and fear. There are also many positive changes in life, such as a new partnership or marriage, the birth of a new baby, a new exciting career opportunity.  Change is inevitable, it’s all part of life. Some are planned, others are unplanned

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We forget that we are all on an inexorable journey that will end with the obliteration of our individual ego. Change is all around us but we ignore it. I can remember exactly how I felt bringing my daughter home from the hospital. She was so tiny and perfect, so helpless, unable to do anything for herself. Now she is a tall, lovely, competent ten-year old girl with her own opinions and ideas. Before I know it, she will be a teenager and there will be even more changes in my life. These are things we can’t control. When you can’t control what is happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening. That is where your power is!

The end is inevitable. The journey is irreversible. We die because we are born and that begins the unrelenting odyssey. We don’t know how much time we have in life. What matters is what you do with the time you have. In fact, with each day. Live it now!

  • Spend time with the people who bring you happiness
  • Do what makes you happy
  • Don’t fall into the ‘some day’ trap
  • Use your best china
  • Go on that vacation
  • Explore the world, go somewhere new every year
  • Show your love to the people who mean everything to you, saying I love you is one thing but actions speak louder than words
  • Be kind, serve others
  • Spend one on one time with your children, parents, partners and friends you cherish

Do it now, this is not your practice life!

 

Children and Electronics

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Recently I was talking to my cousin about the amount of time he allows his two-year old to be in front of the screen. This started a conversation about how I don’t let my 10-year old watch any television during the week. Our conversation turned into whether or not the amount of time in front of the screen makes a negative impact. This prompted me to put some research into the subject and find out what the professionals suggest. I really always went to my sister, a speech therapist and my go to guru for what I should and should not allow my daughter. I trust and respect her input and her knowledge.

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So first, here is what screen time means, watching television, being on computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets.

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I found out that too much screen time has been linked to health problems in kids including obesity and emotional problems. Experts say using media while in the classroom can be helpful, but too much use outside school decreases academic performance. Using it at bedtime has been shown to disrupt sleep. Technology can also get in the way of family time. As with anything in life balance is key.img_6336

Here is a family media use plan that is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

  • Mealtimes should be screen-free.
  • Homework should be done without any electronics.
  • If homework requires a computer, have kids work on it in the kitchen or other common area.
  • Don’t use electronics during the school week; this will help avoid creating a dynamic where kids rush their schoolwork to get to their screen time.
  • Have kids earn screen time by equal time spent on physical activity or chores.
  • Make bedtime screen-free.

Here are the limits of screen time for kids in different age groups according to experts:

  • Ages 0-2, no screen time
  • Ages 2-3, 30 minutes per day
  • Ages 3-5, 1 hour per day
  • Ages 5-6, 1 and a half hours per day
  • Ages 6-12 2 hours per day

So now we know that too much screen time is harmful, but it’s important to also think about what our kids are doing online. Content matters! We can use screen time to learn, create and challenge ourselves or simply to veg out. It’s important that our children’s screen time emphasizes the first three.img_6337 img_6338

Obviously technology is here to stay and we want our kids to thrive in this digital world. They can do this with our support and involvement. Start a conversation on the risks of technology use and how much screen time Is too much.

Good luck, they aren’t going to like it now but they will thank you later in life.

Oh the joys of parenting!

Time is Fleeting

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 Let me love you a little more before you’re not little anymore. I want you to be my little girl forever but at the same time I’m excited about all the great things you will do in the life. In the meantime I cherish every minute I have with you because I know it will all end way too soon.

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You will have a newborn for a month…

An infant for a year…

A toddler for two years…

A preschooler for two years..

A child for five years…

A preteen for three years..

A teenager for five years..

And then they are off to college and life.

Be mindful and present in what you do with the years that you have with your children.

They are few. And then you’ll have to let them go. So until then, listen to them when they want to talk, hold them tight when they want a hug. Play with them even when your tired. Read to them, take in their innocence and show them that everything they do interests you. Breathe in their sweet smell, love them. Take note of how very lucky you are to have them and pay attention to how much they teach you. Appreciate what you have before time makes you appreciate what you had.