Monday, November 30, 2009

5 Tips to Develop Positive Kids

I receive Jon Gordon's weekly e-Newsletter. It's a great way to kick off the week with a positive attitude, which is (let's face it) not the easiest thing to do. Jon's email today was tailored to raising positive kids so I thought I'd share it here.

"As someone who studies and teaches leadership and who is also a parent of two children, ages 11 and 9, I often notice the similarities between leadership and parenting. I guess that’s why I hear from a lot of people who tell me that they not only gave my books to their colleagues and clients but also to their family and children as well. There is no better feeling in the world than hearing from a 9 year old or a teenager that has read Training Camp or The Shark and The Goldfish and has benefited from it. This inspired me to write a recent article for a parenting magazine and I wanted to share it with you as well.

5 Tips to Develop Positive Kids
I have a confession. Despite the fact that I work to develop positive leaders, schools and teams, I’m not naturally a positive person. The research says it’s not my fault. Turns out some people are born with a more positive disposition while others are born with more of a negative disposition. But there is hope. The latest research in neuroscience and positive psychology demonstrates that we can mold our brains and ourselves to be more positive, which is great news for me and my children.

For the past eight years I’ve researched and practiced countless strategies to enhance positivity. I’ve worked really hard at becoming more positive which I guess is why I’ve become such a good teacher. I’ve seen the fruits of these efforts in my life and in the people I’ve taught—most importantly my own children. I’ve seen how simple strategies and daily rituals can make a tremendous impact on their mindset, belief system and outlook on life.

I believe that positive kids become positive adults and as parents we can play a significant role in shaping our children’s perspective and mindset. In this spirit I want to share with you several tips to develop positive kids.

1. Success of the Day - Each night before bed, at dinner or while taking an after dinner walk ask your children their success of the day. The success could be a great conversation, an accomplishment at school, something they are proud of, a situation where they helped someone, etc. The important thing is to help them focus on accomplishments instead of failures. When we help our children expect success, look for success, and celebrate success they find more success and gain more confidence. Of course they need to learn from their mistakes and failures, but let’s help them to not dwell on them.

2. Bedtime Prayer - A ritual such as this provides your children with a foundation of peace, security, and confidence that gives them the strength to take on the daily challenges of being a child.

3. Implement the No Complaining Rule - It’s a simple rule that says you’re not allowed to complain unless you identify one or two possible solutions to your complaint. This empowers children to become a driver of their bus instead of being a passenger griping on the bus. They also learn to use complaints as a catalyst for positive change and positive action. Visit

4. Teach them the Positive Shark Formula, E + P = 0 - This is from my latest book, The Shark and The Goldfish, which is a story about a nice and positive shark who teaches Gordy the goldfish how to overcome his fear of change and find food. After all, Goldfish wait to be fed. Sharks go find food. The formula reveals that we can’t control the (E ) Events in our life. But we can control our (P) Positive Response to these events and our response determines the (O) outcome. This formula helps children develop a strong locus of control which is a perspective that through their beliefs and actions they have an influence on their life. They come to believe that they are not a victim of circumstance but rather a hero in their own inspirational tale and that they can turn their challenges into opportunities and transform bad events into good outcomes. This helps them stay optimistic and believe that their best days are ahead of them, not behind them.

5. Feel Blessed instead of Stressed - As parents we need to realize that children, like adults, deal with a lot of stress...and stress is the enemy of positivity. Well, the great news is that when you are feeling blessed you can’t be stressed. The research says we can’t be stressed and thankful at the same time. Thus, a simple ritual is to help your children identify 3 things they are thankful for each day. You can create a gratitude journal together or you can encourage them to write these blessings on their blog, diary or simply talk about them at dinner. And anytime they are feeling stressed you can encourage them to recall something they are thankful for.I encourage you to think of your child’s mind like a garden. Each day you want to help them weed their negative thoughts and plant positive thoughts. One day of weeding and planting won’t do much. However if you practice these strategies each day, over a week, a month, a year, a lifetime, the garden grows more healthy and vibrant. Nurture your child. Take time to coach them and nourish them with lots of love and positive energy and you shall see the fruits of your efforts.

Stay Positive,
- Jon"

For more tips like these for you and your kids, visit Until the next nap time...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Review of Lola's Restaurant in the Houston Heights

Several times, I drove by Lola's on 11th Street and Yale, and was intrigued by the big sign that hangs above its door. Today, we ventured in. First, Little K and her father remarked at the front door, that is fashioned from an old telephone booth.

"Can you get the phone please?" Trent asked his four-year-old daughter, who has never seen a phone booth. The door handle was an old-fashioned phone. Cute.

I had read on another blog that you need to first order your food at the diner's register. No problem. We approached the counter with really cool wood finish below, read the menus and placed our orders. We then picked a booth beside a window and waited a short time for our food to be delivered to our table. The eclectic place was clean, light and bright. Interestingly, it supposedly was once an old car dealership so I enjoyed taking a few minutes to entertain my imagination.

Little K was delighted with her plate full of 2 big pancakes and 2 pieces of bacon. The taste test passed, too. I really enjoyed my vege omelette, although the accompanying breakfast potatoes, sausage and wheat toast were way to bland. I've had better at my house. My husband ordered a ham and cheddar cheese omelette, specifically asking for the cook to leave off the parmesan cheese. When delivered, the parmesan cheese was included. Trent said it was an interesting kick to the omelette but not what he wanted. Still, I noticed he cleaned his plate, which also included bacon, hash and toast.

Overall, for $36, we felt like the food should have been better. It was average for kid-friendliness ad the food is served quickly and they have a small kids menu, but no kids activities. We agreed we'd be willing to try it again, especially since rumor has it that Lola's has the best chicken fried steak in the Houston Heights. Hmm...

Until the next nap time...

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Wonderwild in Review

I've received a lot of questions about Wonderwild, which opened earlier this month. On Nov. 1, we stopped by to inquire.
Being new, the facility was very clean. Wonderwild had one of the inflatable bounce houses with the slide that competing venues have. However, it also has a Jumpoline that is safer than traditional trampolines. Little K loved bouncing around on it.
They also have an area marked off for the very youngest players with soft-sided toys and climbing structures. It's in the same room as the inflatable and Jumpoline, making it easier for a parent to watch an older child and toddler in relatively the same area.
The staff person prided herself on how safe all the features were. I'd agree. It did seem very safe. Although my husband pointed out one concern. The indoor train is powered by youngsters' arms. (At lower left, Little K is pedaling with her arms.) Trent's concern is that kids could easily get a finger or toe pinched in the train track, especially as kids exit the Jumpoline and explore the train. Hopefully, the staff will put up a fence of some sort to prevent this.
One thing I really like about Wonderwild is the incorporation of art in the fun atmosphere. Not only will Wonderwild offer art classes in 2010, they also decorated the facility with colorful art pieces. I also like the fact that they offer healthy food choices from Zoe's Kitchen so your kids can enjoy themselves without overindulging in greasy pizza.
Hour of Operation:
M-F 9 am- 7 pm, $10 for walkers, $8 for pre-walkers. They are open EVERY day in November except Thanksgiving Day (11/26) for open play. So if your child's school is already out for Thanksgiving, this is a fun thing to explore and it's not weather dependent. Alternatively, you can purchase an annual membership for $675 but I think few people will be able to afford that price tag for something that would supplement school and other extracurricular activities. Maybe I'm wrong?
More Opportunities for Fun:
PLAY OR SHOP DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING. Come PLAY at Wonderwild on Friday, November 27, to work off the turkey and pumpkin pie. Bring your whole family & have fun together.

Or take advantage of the Drop and SHOP program on Friday, Nov. 27. From 9:30 am-12:30 pm, they’ll watch your kids and make sure they have a great time while you get a head
start on holiday shopping! Activities include an art project, groove to some music, and of course,
play in the play area. Walkers only. Child must be potty-trained. Must bring own lunch.
$25 per child. Members are free. You must pre-register by Nov. 25 by calling 832-863-3275 or email

Come meet Santa on Saturday, December 19, from 8-10 am, in your holiday best for some light
bites and a photo session with a real bearded Santa Claus! Wonderwild will give you a FREE 4x6 photo to remember the occasion. Photo packages will be available for purchase as well.
Space is limited. You must pre-register by December 16 for the event by calling 832-863-3275. FREE for adults, kids, infants--yes, you read it correctly, it’s FREE!!

Get ready for Thursday, December 31, from 4:30-6:30 pm to countdown the New Year --London style! At 6 pm in Houston, it is midnight in London, so get ready to rock n' roll the night
away to some live music. Wonderwild will have complimentary food and drinks, plus other fun
activities. This is a great way for families to celebrate, play and bring in the New Year together!
Space is limited. $15 per child. Members are free. You must purchase tickets in advance by calling 832-863-3275 or email
Maybe we'll see you there. Until the next nap time...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fall is in the Air in Houston Area

After an eventful Grandparents Day in Houston, we headed to the ranch. I love it there this time of year. Not only is the weather a bit cooler, but the leaves on the trees actually change color in Navasota. Plus, we get to take hay rides.
Today, after lunch, PaPa had to run errands so we went to the local tractor shop. I know, glamourous. But Little K enjoyed playing on the "kids digger" just like they have at Dewberry Farm. When my dad saw her "digging a lake", he smiled and said he'd have to take Little K on a real back-hoe like he used to take me and my sister when we were little. Fond memories.
On our way out, we stopped for a quick photo shoot at the entrance, thus the photo at left. It was cleverly decorated for Thanksgiving, which happens to be one of my favorite holidays. Not only is my birthday around Thanksgiving, but it also seems to be the forgotten holiday and I always pull for the under dog. The stores seem to go directly from Halloween to Christmas. Do you not remember how the United States got started? Enough of my soap box.
This evening, we went for a ride in the ranch buggy/ATV. I insisted on riding in the back with the cool kids, while my parents drove up front. It was cute to see Little K and her cousin Claire bundled up. I tucked them in with a blanket because it was cool and, frankly, my sister promised to release stories better left untold if her daughter came home sick from too much cold outside wind. I obliged willingly.
As Dad drove, our 8-month-old Rhodesian Ridgeback dog ran diligently beside the ATV. The only problem was that we didn't want him to run that close. There was literally about 2 inches between him and the ATV. I worried that one of his legs would get run over. Apparently, my parenting "worry" skills also applies to the dog. Nice. As my dad tried to drive faster and lose the dog, I leaned out of the back, pushing the dog away and used my best dog commands to make him move away from the vehicle. No luck. Finally, we stopped so I could lift the 73-pound dog into the back of the vehicle with the cool kids. At last, he was cool, too, and enjoyed the ride. Why the kids smiled and laughed the whole time EXCEPT when my mom took this picture, I don't know. Oh well.
Tomorrow, we'll return to Houston but this has been a fun, relaxing weekend despite the rain. I have especially enjoyed spending time with my niece. The 1-year-old has been a good reminder of what it's like to have a toddler under foot. (An observation, not a wish for a second child..) She's has retaught me that, although she doesn't yet have many verbal skills, she understands most of what I say. It's also been good for Little K because she's forced to share everything... something an only child doesn't experience much. Interestingly, Little K has not asked for a younger sibling all weekend. My work is done. Hee. Hee.
In advance, Happy Thanksgiving to all. Until the next nap time...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Running Late from Work

So I literally ran into the auditorium, trying to make it to my daughter's Grandparents Day/Thanksgiving Day celebration. Since I was running late from my work conference call and PreK always goes first as the youngest students, I missed her singing. Ugh. I feel horrible. My husband greeted me at the door and saw the frantic look on my face.

"Just say you thought the 'Gobble, Gobble' part was the best," he said.

My dad then walked up and offered me his seat up front. I sat by my mom and my in-laws, who dutifully watched the remaining grades do their presentations. At least Little K's grandparents were front & center. At least it wasn't Parents Day. But oh, how I wish I could have seen her. The personal one-act show that she did for me later was adorable but I hate to miss those little moments. Luckily, Little K hasn't asked me if I saw her because I don't want to lie, nor do I want her to know that her working mother didn't make it in time. I'm good at beating myself up over these things. Oh well. Better luck next time.

Until the next nap time...

Balancing Work and Family

Have you ever been torn between work commitments and family? I'm on a work conference call but need to go to my daughter's 10 am Thankgiving production. The call is important in that we're planning for next year and even talking about giving back to a local charity. Still, my child is my top priority. Hmmm... this will be interesting to step off this call. Ugh.

Until the next nap time...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Faces in the Crowd: Helping Parents Create Memories

Yeah! I'm so excited. Reporter Flori Meeks wrote the article "Faces in the Crowd: Helping Parents Create Memories". The article reviews my book 100+ Activities for Houston Kids with input from recent purchasers. I hope you'll check it out at

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Emma Turns the Corner, Little K Preps for Grandparents

Good news! Emma gets to go home from the hospital. We are all thrilled and thankful for your prayers. Please continue to pray for her as radiation treatments will begin to prevent the tumor from returning again.

Little K has been preparing for Grandparents Day, which is celebrated on Nov. 20 at our school. Apparently, she'll carry up the gifts at the 8:15 am mass and later sing a song with her classmates. Then, we get to play hookie by going to eat with Little K's two grandmothers and two grandfathers. How lucky we are! It's too bad her great-grandparents couldn't join us but they'll be in our thoughts.

Any suggestions on special gifts for the Grandparents? I'd like to give them a small token in remembrance of the day.

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Thoughts at Bed Time

What a day. As I bathed Little K tonight, I yawned and told her how tired I was. It's just been a long day with heavy thoughts, yet hopeful thoughts. Our last report on our friend Emma was: "7pm update: Emma is recovering nicely in the PICU. She is amazing! Clapping in a rythym and singing "Hungry, Hungry Hippos.""

At Little K's bed time, I couldn't help but to think of how blessed I am to have a healthy child and a community that can raise up a family through thoughts and prayers. Everyone should have this.

After Little K went to bed and Trent returned home from a meeting, I finished reading the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Here's one of my favorites from the book:

"In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generousity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices."

Until the next nap time...

Eyes Wide Open

Here's the latest on our friend Emma from her mom's FaceBook page:

"3:30 update: Emma made it through with flying colors! Doc got all of the tumor on the brainstem. She looks fantastic, can open her eyes and talk. Next 24 hours-still need to pray!"

Come on friends. Keep those prayers coming!

Until the next nap time...

Pray for Emma... A Mother's Wish

This morning, I write with a heavy heart. Little K's friend Emma, who battled a brain tumor 1.5 years ago, is fighting again. They discovered on Saturday that her brain tumor had grown quite a bit since the last scan in September. The tumor is now blocking the fluid in her brain. Today, they are rushing her into surgery in hopes of removing the tumor. Radiation will follow for weeks.

In the midst of it all, Emma's mommy is due with their third child -- a boy -- next week so we're also praying that the little boy does not come early. As Jayne said, she needs to be with Emma first. The surgery today is quite nerve-wracking but absolutely required, not to mention the tough, yet precious, road that lies before this family.

Her mother is asking that we all keep Emma & their family in our thoughts & prayers today. A Mother's Wish... I think today this will be many mothers' wishes.

"Let us see your kindness, Lord, and grant us your salvation." - Psalm 85:8.

Until the next nap time...

Saturday, November 07, 2009

100+ Activities for Houston Kids Reviewed on Chronicle Blog

A fellow blogger has written a review of my book 100+ Activities For Houston Kids on the Houston Chronicle blog site. Check it out and let me know your thoughts. Thanks for your comments and reviews!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Breakfast Time Laughs

So this morning, I was telling Little K how important it was for her to drink her OJ in hopes of her kicking the cough she has. Then, I told my husband the same thing. Yes, I'm bossy.

Trent poured his big glass of OJ and it looked so good that I decided to pour myself a small glass. I filled two small cups with crushed ice and then started pouring in the OJ for me and my daughter. Suddenly, I realized that my OJ looked much thicker than the juice in my husband's cup. Hmm... that's weird, I thought. I continued pouring.

"Oh my gosh!" I shouted. "Look at what I did. I'm pouring Egg Beaters into our juice glasses."

We all laughed as my husband & I tried to get the Egg Beaters out of the cups and into the omelette pan for breakfast.

"At least you didn't try to cook the orange juice," my husband laughed.

Clearly, I had not had my caffeine yet. Until the next nap time...