Parents Can't Control Everything. Here's Why It's Okay.

This past week, my two kids have been miserable.  My two year old and three month old sons have been taking turns being snot machines with a roller coaster fever.  Coughs are a common sound around the clock.  They're both past the worst part of it now.  When it was bad, it was really bad.  They both would be cranky and frustrated at their discomfort.

As their dad, it was really hard seeing them so miserable.  It's truly heartbreaking watching my two year old cry in his bed because he's achy or watch my three month old scream and struggle in my arms.

My spouse and I put a lot of effort into having as healthy of a lifestyle for our family as possible, but it was inevitable.  Our kids were going to (and still will) get sick; it's an essential part of life. 

To me, this is preparation for the rest of parenthood. This is how I prepare myself to be comfortable with feeling vulnerable.  I recognize that for the rest of my kids' lives, I can't protect them from everything that comes their way. I don't have total control of what goes on in their lives. That would be impossible (and illogical). There are going to be times when my boys are hurt, miserable, or suffering. Much of that will be out of my control, and that's okay.

My kids need to learn to be independent, responsible, and self-sufficient.  I believe they'll get there eventually. Right now, as they lay ill, I have to put faith and trust that they will be alright. I can't control everything; I can only do the best that I can do. I can be as loving and as supporting as I can be. This isn't just a good mentality for when they're sick, but for the rest of their lives.

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Like Coffee? Ice Cream Too? This is PERFECT for You.

Coffee and ice cream lovers unite and lend me your ears! This is one of my absolute favorite treats for a snack or a dessert.  It's a mix between a root beer float and an iced coffee; actually, it's the best of both worlds. It's perfect for any occasion, especially hot summer days. The best part is that it's relatively easy to make.

First, make a cup of coffee and place it in the refrigerator for about an hour so it will be chilled.  I recommend using the highest quality of coffee you have.  The better the ingredients you use, the better it tastes!

Next, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Use the highest quality you can get.  I prefer to use Strauss Vanilla Bean ice cream.  Add as much or as little as you'd like. The more you add, the sweeter and creamier the float will be.

That's it! It's that simple, and it's that delicious.  You don't need to add ice because the ice cream keeps it cold.  There is no need to add sugar because the sweetness of the ice cream sweetens it. The ice cream also eliminates the reason to add any type of cream or half and half. It's almost as if coffee and ice cream were made to be consumed together.

Make a cup of coffee and chill it in the refrigerator.
Add a scoop of ice cream.
Enjoy!
There really is no wrong way to eat it.  You can either eat the ice cream first and then drink the rest afterward or you can mix it all together and drink it altogether.

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Tired? This is Why Rest is Imperatively Important


Sometimes I work so much that I forget what rest feels like. I regularly forget to take a break. In the office, being productive consumes by brainpower and almost all my focus.  Sometimes I forget to take a break.  Unfortunately, in our contemporary society, working (especially overworking) is usually applauded and breaks usually are misinterpreted as unproductively.  I can't help but be influenced by the environment I live in, so during the day, I work, grind, and be ready to repeat the next day.

When I get home, another shift starts.  Dinner, dishes, chores, bath time,  and more chores wait for me.  I know I can't get it all done (it's a never-ending cycle), but I try to finish as much as I can before it's time to go to bed.  Often I crave to have just some time to be lazy on the couch, watch some of my favorite shows, and not think. 

Balance is the key to success.  I know that I need to rest more to keep myself energized, but not too much, which would be unproductive.  

Knowing that I've worked myself almost to the breaking point of exhaustion, here are some reasons why I need to re-prioritize rest:
  • According to COCO-MAT, sleep keeps our heart healthy, reduces stress, reduces chronic inflammation, makes us more active, boosts memory, can help us lose weight, makes us smarter, reduces the risk of depression, and helps our body replenish.
  • Dr. Matthew Edlund states that active rest "can make you more alert and effective, reduce stress levels and give you a better chance of a healthier and longer life."
  • Ultra Marathon Man Dean Karnazes says that rest keeps your performance from dipping and gives you a mental edge.

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References

"6 Reasons Why Rest Days are Important featuring Dean Karnazes." Fitbit Blog. Fitbit Blog, 26 Feb. 2014. Web. 22 June 2014. <http://blog.fitbit.com/6-reasons-why-rest-days-are-important-featuring-dean-karnazes/>.

"9 Reasons Why Sleep is so Important." 9 reasons why sleep is so important. COCO-MAT, n.d. Web. 22 June 2014. <http://www.coco-mat.com/?i=coco_fr.en.reasons>.

Atkinson, Louise. "Why a rest is as good for you as a sleep (as long as you don't just slob out in front of the TV)." Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 21 Sept. 2010. Web. 22 June 2014. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1313812/Why-rest-good-sleep-long-dont-just-slob-TV.html>.

7 Things #AllMenCan Do



Recently, the hashtag #YesAllWomen opened up as a forum for people (mostly women) to discuss misogyny in our society. People got to see women's issues on the forefront of social media.  Every tweet, picture, or post voiced real life examples of misogyny.  Some are blatantly sexist.  Some are subtle.  All are eye opening.

While #YesAllWomen exposes the issue, #AllMenCan has arisen as a forum for guys to, not just speak out against misogyny, but also send proactive messages about what can be done about it. 

Below are just some examples.









Feel free to join the conversation. A big shout out to BuzzFeed for featuring our tweets.


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References

Friedersdorf, Conor. "Normal Violence in a Murder Spree." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 25 May 2014. Web. 14 June 2014. <http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/05/women-react-to-a-murder-spree-at-ucsb-with-an-airing-of-grievances/371568/>.

Plank, Elizabeth. "35 Men Show Us What Real Men's Activists Look Like." PolicyMic. N.p., 31 May 2014. Web. 12 June 2014. <http://www.policymic.com/articles/90079/37-men-show-us-what-real-men-s-activists-look-like>.

7 Strategies to Help Raise Happy Kids



Like almost every parent I know, I want my kids to grow up happy.  I want them to be happy as an adult and happy while growing up that way.  It's irrational to think that my kids will be 100% happy 100% of the time; that's not what I mean.  I know that there are going to be a lot of times where my boys will feel anger, frustration, heartache, and maybe even depression, but those are a necessary part of growing up.  I want them to have a lifestyle where they are emotionally healthy and have everything they need to be happy.  So like most parents, I scoured around the internet for advice.  Here are the best ones I found:

Get Happy Yourself

Parents are the primary role model for their kids.  Both directly and indirectly, we influence the personality development of our kids.  We teach their kids how to perceive and react to the world. As their parents, we are the ones they learn most of their good and bad habits from.

By being happy, we are showing our kids how to do so also.  It's simple.  According to Eric Barker, blogger at Barking Up the Wrong Tree, "It can start with encouraging kids to perform small acts of kindness to build empathy."  Stephanie Pappas at LiveScience writes, "When parents joke and pretend, it gives young kids tools to think creatively, make friends, and manage stress."

Encourage Play

Playing is essential. Children use playtime to develop their physical skills, learn to cooperate with others, and exercise their imagination.  The physical activity helps keep them healthy.  Playing with peers helps kids build their social skills.

Through role playing and improvising, children engage in what is called "open-ended play." According to Parents Magazine, open-ended play "isn't too programmed or regimented...[it] helps them discover their talents and use their own resources." Open-ended play helps kids prepare for situations that are beyond what they are currently in. They may pretend to be on a pirate ship in the middle of a storm and may find a creative way to save the crew. They might also pretend to be firefighters and save a city from burning into ashes.  This type of play, children "invent scenarios and solve problems by themselves."

Teach Them to Build Relationships

Our children need to be able to start, develop, and maintain positive relationships throughout their lives. They are going to have a family, friends, relatives, colleagues, coworkers, and wives/husbands. There is a difference between having a family and having a great relationship with your family.  Relationships don't build themselves; people must do it.

Each social relationship is unique in its own way.  For our kids, being able to build positive relationships on their own will set them up for a lifelong network for success.

Teach Optimism

According to Christine Carter, author of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, "Optimism is so closely related to happiness that the two can practically be equated." Simply put, the more optimistic a person is, the higher possibility of happiness that person has.  (It also works conversely with negativity. It's almost common sense that pessimism and unhappiness are closely related.)

Optimism is how we teach our kids to navigate through the challenges and boundaries that life throws at them.  Optimism is what they need to have during their tough times. Being optimistic gives them lifelong hope.

Teach Emotional Intelligence and Self-Discipline

Kendra Cherry, author of Everything Psychology Book (2nd Edition), defines emotional intelligence as "... the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions." It's being aware of your emotions and managing them to fit the needs of every situation.  This is an important skill that our children need to learn; it's not something that they're just born with.

As parents, we can teach our children the appropriate way to emotionally react to every possible situation.  They need to healthily heal from any kind of heartbreak.  They need to be able to joyfully celebrate their victories and achievements no matter how small or large.

Being independent will increase the chances of our kids leading happy lives.  They will be able to solve their own problems, make smarter and wiser decisions, and take appropriate actions.  Teaching our kids this will only benefit them.

Encourage Effort for Mastery

Perfection is a highly delusional standard. It's subjective, and everyone has room for growth.  Expecting perfection is nonsensical, and if we place that expectation on our kids, then they're being set up for failure.  According to Carter, "Parents who overemphasize achievement are more likely to have kids with high level of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse compared to other kids."

Practice and effort is what really makes people better.  It's more important than "natural talent."  According to The Atlantic, "...inborn talent is much less important than hard work, preparation, and self-confidence." With any skill, whether it be a sport, dance, or academics, every child can improve and achieve mastery with enough practice and effort.  Scholastic states that "With mastery comes confidence, leadership skills, initiative, and an enduring desire for hard work." Encouraging effort teaches kids that they can always do something to improve their lives, which is something to be happy about.

Form Happiness Habits

Habits are hard to break, our kids might as well have good ones.  Consistency and persistence are the keys to establishing habits that promote happiness.  According to Barker, "Thinking through these methods is taxing, but acting habitually is easy, once habits have been established."

Some happiness habits (and are not limited to) practicing gratitude, celebrating every achievement (both big and small), acknowledging effort, exemplifying a healthy sense of humor, and allowing them to learn from their own mistakes.
...

The future is both annoyingly and excitingly uncertain.  Anything can happen, but I really want to be certain that my kids will grow up to be happy.  I'll employ the aforementioned strategies as much as possible. I already do some of them and there are others that I'm willing to try.  It won't be easy, but it'll be worth it to give my kids the best chance at a happy life as possible.

What additional strategies do you use? Please share in the comments below.



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References

"Raising Happy Kids." Scholastic.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 June 2014. <http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/social-emotional-skills/raising-happy-kids>.

Barker, Eric. "How to Raise Happy Kids: 10 Steps Backed by Science." . Time Magazine, 24 Mar. 2014. Web. 29 May 2014. <http://time.com/35496/how-to-raise-happy-kids-10-steps-backed-by-science/>.

Carter, Christine. Raising happiness: 10 simple steps for more joyful kids and happier parents. New York: Ballantine Books, 2010. Print.

Pappas, Stephanie. "10 Scientific Tips For Raising Happy Kids." LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 12 Jan. 2012. Web. 1 June 2014. <http://www.livescience.com/17894-10-scientific-parenting-tips.html>.

Cherry, Kendra. "How Emotionally Intelligent Are You?." About.com Psychology. About.com, n.d. Web. 30 May 2014. <http://psychology.about.com/od/personalitydevelopment/a/emotionalintell.htm>.

Kimball, Miles, and Noah Smith. "The Myth of 'I'm Bad at Math'." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 28 Oct. 2013. Web. 9 June 2014. <http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/10/the-myth-of-im-bad-at-math/280914/>.

Lee, Sandra. "How to Raise Happy Kids."Parents Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 June 2014. <http://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/style/how-to-raise-happy-kids/>.

Can 5 Post-It Notes Really Make Me Happy, Confident, and Successful?



Can Post-It Notes actually be a top for personal empowerment? I'm a big fan of Post-It Notes; I practically use them every day.  I use them to help remind me of important tasks, add notes on paperwork, and to periodically jot down ideas.  

Almost coincidentally, I recently came across Eric Barker's post, How 5 Post-It Notes Can Make You Happy, Confident and Successful.  The title intrigued me.  Would it really work? I had to give it a try.

Here is what I had to write on each Post-It Note:


1. Make note of three things you're thankful for.

There are many things that I'm thankful for.  My family is the primary source of my personal fulfillment.  I know it might sound a little cliché, but I am extremely thankful for my family.  They provide me with so much love, support and happiness.  Sometimes I just need some time with them to remind me of that.

Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a teacher (and a whole bunch of other things too), but there was always a little part of me that really wanted to be a teacher.  I wanted to make a career serving others.  I wanted to be someone who would make a great positive impact on upcoming generations. I wanted an honorable career.  I got exactly what I wanted.

In reflecting on what I'm really thankful for, I have a lot of "little" things to be happy for.  I live in a nice place, the fridge is always stocked with healthy food, and I have almost every material possession I want.  If I'm going to be honest with myself, I know that even though I could want more, I shouldn't. I have everything I need to have a good life and everything I need to be happy is all around me.  That's something to be truly thankful for.


2. Make a note of a couple accomplishments you're most proud of.

Thinking about what I've accomplished is hard.  There is a lot I've done, but picking out some as "accomplishments" was challenging.  It forced me to examine my past and pick out what I see as most significant.  

I am proud of my education; I worked hard for it.  I have two bachelor's and a master's degree.  I have skills, knowledge, and a critical eye that few people possess.  Obtaining this was challenging.  There were so many late nights, early mornings, and little crises here and there.  At times, I wanted to give up. Fortunately, I had the determination not to.  

Teaching is hard. The path of becoming a credentialed teacher is difficult and complicated.  There are classes beyond a bachelor's degree, multiple state exams (they're not cheap to take), and mountains of other requirements that one must finish before being able to start teaching.  Then there is the actual job of being a teacher.  It's a position that is constantly demanding intellectually, physically, and emotionally.  It's tough.  According to Forbes, "46% of new teachers leave the profession within 5 years."  Unfortunately, I've seen many teachers  quit.  Fortunately, I'm still going (and I love it).


3. Scribble down something you're looking forward to.

Summer is right around the corner! It's my favorite season.  Day trips, the beach, picnics, and outdoor fun is what comes to my mind when I think of summer.  Many of my family members (myself included) have their birthday in the summer. Many of my favorite memories took place in the summer.  It's just that awesome.

According to Barker, "Looking forward to something is powerful. It makes us hopeful, happier, and optimistic."  Even though it's right around the corner, I look forward to summer all year long.


4. Write down a favorite memory that makes you feel good.

When I was in elementary school, my parents offered to take me to see the Rose Parade floats in Pasadena.  This was when the parade was over and public could see them up close.  

Unfortunately, my mom had to work that day and I thought that I wasn't going to be able to go.  Seeing how disappointed I was, my dad decided to take me anyway.  That day, we braved through massive traffic (he still complains about that to this day), far away parking, and busy crowds.  I had a blast.  I got to see the the mastery of the float designs and all the intricate effort that went into each float.  Best of all, I got to spend some quality time bonding with my dad.


5. Write down the name of a hero you admire.
Atticus Finch. Without a doubt, he is someone I admire, even if he is a fictional character.  He is the father of the protagonist, Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, in the novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. He is an honorable father that teaches his kids valuable lessons and a lawyer that stands up for what he believes is morally right.  He is a prime example of a role model.  Even though he is a fictional character, people in real life have told me that he is an inspiration to them.  The inspiration that he represents is what I aspire to be.
...
After completing this exercise, it's hard to say that I've become happy, confident, or successful.  I have all those qualities to a certain degree.  What I can say is that I am now a little happier and a bit more confident.  I am in a better mood than when I started.  Hopefully, this translates to more success in the future. 

Curious? Feel free to try this yourself.

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References:

Barker, Eric. "How 5 Post-It Notes Can Make You Happy, Confident and Successful." Time. Time, 28 May 2014. Web. 1 June 2014. <http://time.com/120425/how-5-post-it-notes-can-make-you-happy-confident-and-successful/>.

Kain, Erik. "High Teacher Turnover Rates are a Big Problem for America’s Public Schools."Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 8 Mar. 2011. Web. 1 June 2014. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2011/03/08/high-teacher-turnover-rates-are-a-big-problem-for-americas-public-schools/>.